Sunday, 30 October 2011

Circus Sheets

On our recent holiday to France, we stopped en route from Paris to Honfleur in Rouen for a spot of lunch, a gander at the cathedral and an opportunity to potter around some shops to search out cool, continental baby things. We popped into Zara Home and discovered that they have a gorgeous and reasonable range of things for decorating the rooms of little ones. Now, I know Zara Home exists in the UK but I have no idea where the nearest one is so we hadn't realised how lovely their stuff is. Luckily I've now discovered they've got an online store.

We bought this cot sheet for Baby Biddle which I finally got round to washing and ironing yesterday. How cool is the circus print? It has cheered up his cot no end and as it's a simple flat sheet, I'll be able to use the fabric for something else once the cot is no longer in use. What I love about circus prints for children is how wonderfully unisex they are and yet they embrace the weird and the wonderful, the magical and the exciting, the masculine with the feminine.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Let the Eating Commence

Next week, Baby Biddle will be five months old. FIVE MONTHS! Blooming heck, where has the time gone? So it's time to start thinking about weaning. The WHO recommend starting to wean at around 6 months, but we're planning to get cracking as a five month birthday celebration as he was born two weeks late and is currently a little chunkster who stares longingly at food and makes a grab for it whenever we take our eye off the ball!

The great weaning adventure seems as much a minefield as choosing which pram to buy, deciding on nappies and thinking about options for labour. There are so many opinions out there about when, what and how, we were feeling a little lost. That is until the Amazon Angel delivered this super book - The River Cottage Baby & Toddler Cookbook.
Written by food journalist Nikki Duffy, to call this just a cookbook is a huge understatement. It's the first food book I've ever read from cover to cover, and has really helped us to ascertain the best way to approach weaning for us and our wee one. The first half of the book covers all aspects of baby eating, starting with looking at breastfeeding vs formula, through to nutrition for little people, puree vs baby lead, what to do with seasonal gluts of fruit and veg, fussy eaters, and much much more. Then the second half is a collection of recipes in seasonal chapters - all look yummy for both baby and adult tastes, easy to make, things we actually might or already eat a version of, with helpful hints about how to change the recipe for different ages of children and whether they are freezer friendly. 
What I especially loved about this beautifully laid out book, was that whilst Ms Duffy obviously has her own views on the issue of food and children, based largely on experiences with her own children, she avoids being judgemental so it's easy to use the book to find your own way through and decide what will suit your own family. I'll be recommending this book to all my friends who have babies. Thank you Ms Duffy for helping us find our way.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

A Bright and Beautiful Baby Quilt: Part 4

Those of you who have followed my blog for a while will remember I was making a hand pieced hexagonal quilt for Baby Biddle, and using the project to fill the time when the little one decided he was too snug and happy in my tummy and arrived ten days late. Well, not surprisingly, I am now quite short on time where I have both hands free to do intricate hand sewing! But the quilt has not been abandoned and I've had a couple of opportunities recently to make some progress on it. So I thought I'd give you a little update. Here's where I'm up to now. Eight rows joined together ... another 12 to go! But slowly and surely, it's coming. Perhaps it'll be his first Christmas present.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Adventures in Reusables: Part One

To begin with, a disclaimer … I have nothing against disposable nappies or parents who use them. They are part of our lives too and I think all parents should do what suits them and their child. But I have decided to write about our reusable nappy (or diaper for any American readers!) adventure because when mentioning them to friends of ours, we became aware that there are so many misconceptions about modern reusables and so I just thought I’d share what we’ve discovered in case it’s of any use.

Once upon a time, reusable nappies were the stuff of bulky terry toweling squares, nasty wet covers, scarily sharp nappy pins and buckets of milton solution. These things do still exist but things have come a long way.

When Mr B and I were considering what to do about nappies for our imminent arrival, I started doing some internet research into the matter and then we went to see Rachel at the fabulous Boo Coo near Bristol. Rachel gave us a comprehensive demonstration of all types of reusable nappies, giving us an unbiased view on their pros and cons, and showing us all the different types from terry toweling squares onwards. We looked at BumGenius and Nature Babies and Easy Peasy Bambeasys. And ended up purchasing a full set of Tots Bots Easyfits as they seemed the most well designed, sleek and soft of the lot.
Modern reusables are designed just like a disposable nappy, all in one, with Velcro tabs to close them. The waterproof part is integrated with the soft absorbant bit so they are all in one (in one step nappies) and the whole thing can be popped into the washing machine.

The life of one nappy goes like this:
  1. Pop a flushable liner (like a longer piece of loo roll) on top of the nappy, then put the nappy on the baby as you would a disposable.
  2. When you take the nappy off, pop the liner in the loo (which has caught most of the poo), then pop the nappy in a special wash bag. So no soaking in sterile solution.
  3. When you have a few nappies in the bag, you just put the whole bag in the washing machine along with your other dirty laundry, and the spin works the nappies out of the bag and washes them, even at 30 or 40 degrees. So no need to touch the dirty nappies again.
  4. Hang the nappies to dry on radiators or on the line.
  5. Repeat and re-use!
  6. If you buy birth to potty nappies, when the baby grows bigger, you just adjust the poppers on the front to make the nappies bigger so you can keep on using the same ones for a couple of years.
  7. At night time, pop an extra pad in to absorb heavy night time use.

What we love about our reusables:
  • They seem so much softer and nicer to pop on Baby B’s bottom than disposables which seem to leave loads more marks on his skin. They are comfy and squishy and great for giving him a big base to practice sitting or for when he’s learning to walk and bumping down on his bottom.
  • They are much better at containing poo explosions than disposables.
  • As he gets older, Baby B should start to recognise sooner that feeling wet isn’t very nice which will hopefully help him get potty trained more quickly (or at least that’s the hope!)
  • He looks super cute in them with his big bottom and the funny prints on them.
  • We do daily washes with sick covered things anyway so it’s barely any more hassle.
  • And of course, whilst we’re not evangelical about trying to save the world and still use disposables when we’re out and about, we’ve already re-used the nappies about 950 times which means 950 less nappies have gone into landfill in four months of babyhood.

Drawbacks to reusables:
  • Some modern baby trousers aren’t really cut for such big bottoms so he looks quite funny with a big bum squeezed into tight pants!
  • Disposables definitely wick the fluid away better whereas Baby B sometimes ends up with little damp patches on his baby vests.
  • When there's a mammoth poo, you do have to deal with it as the liners don't catch everything. So there's a bit of scraping with toilet paper to be done. But then by this point you've already been scraping it off a bottom too so it's no worse than that unavoidable task.

So, whatever you decide to do about nappies for your baby – and you have to go with what works for you – just don’t rule out at least looking at a modern disposable. A Tots Bot or a Bum Genius or similar. Because they’ve come on so much, they are barely any more work than a disposable, and we love our Tots Bots. Who couldn’t resist seeing a baby with his bum covered in stars?!

Saturday, 15 October 2011

KCWC Day 5

On day five of my KCWC challenge, I didn't manage to fit in any sewing until after the little man went to bed. So I finished off the buttons and button holes on the orange dress late last night. I still can't quite get the hang of button holes. I've watched endless youtube tutorials for using my button hole foot on the machine but I can't seem to get it to work. Perhaps it's broken? Anyway, I ended up doing the button holes on the dress using my own cobbled together zig zag stitch method so they look suitably homemade but at least they work and are hidden by the cute little cream buttons!

Here's the finished dress and it's reminded me just how satisfying it is to make things using proper patterns. I think this Oliver + S pattern took me about 6 hours in total, including cutting out the pattern pieces. There were some instructions I found tricky to understand but once I'd worked them out, I'd learnt lots more about sewing. And I'm so chuffed with how it has turned out, especially the retro look with the little cream flaps. I can't wait to give it to Little Miss B.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

KCWC Day 4

It's day 4 of my Kids Clothing Week Challenge and whilst Baby B had a surprise mammoth nap this afternoon, I cracked on with the Oliver + S orange dress for Little Miss B. It's now not far from completion - I just have the button holes and buttons to add down the back so I should have finished pictures to show by tomorrow.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

KCWC Day 3

Today for my KCWC challenge, I began work on a dress for my God daughter B. When I last saw her little angelic face, I asked what colour she'd like a new dress in and her reply ... Orange. Apparently it's her favourite colour. So, not having very much orange in my fabric collection, I bought this floral print from the fabric shop in town. I began work on the Oliver + S Music Box Dress whilst Baby Biddle slept - today he fell asleep whilst being bounced around to Michael Jackson & Beyonce! He loves a bit of MJ. It always seems to help him nod off!

I've decided to have a go at View B, the one without the pleats but with the little flaps. I think I'll do the flaps in cream to help break up the pattern a little. It's my first attempt at a full Oliver + S Pattern (which I bought online from Backstitch) so I'm pretty excited. I'll let you know how I get on.

KCWC Days 1 & 2

To begin with, a confession. On day one of my KCWC challenge I stitched exactly zero. My excuse? Having been apart for a week, a reunited me and Mr B took the little one swimming then when he promptly fell asleep for three hours (the baby not the husband), we took ourselves off with the snoozing one tucked up in his pram and had a lovely long lunch date. Bliss. So on day two, I did two hours of sewing to make up for it.

I've decided to use this week to create a couple of things for my Goddaughter B and her little brother H. I used to do lots of sewing for Little Miss B but since having Baby B, I've been a bit rubbish. So I'm putting things in order this week. First up ... a pair of trousers for Little Master H. An easy Burda pattern helped me get back in the swing of using patterns, and I had this lovely soft royal blue cord which I bought on sale from Millie Moon a while back which I teamed with a cute Kokka Robots print for the pockets. Here's how they turned out.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Kids Clothing Week Challenge (KCWC)

Today is the start of the Kids Clothing Week Challenge (KCWC), a twice yearly event dreamt up and curated by Meg of blog Elsie Marley. The idea is that you dedicate an hour a day for seven days to sewing clothes for little ones. Then you can share your results with fellow bloggers and internet dandies via her flickr group (which is a great source of inspiration for handmade clothes).

I'm hoping Baby Biddle will furnish me with enough naps this week so that I can take part again. The one in spring was before he had arrived so I made lots of things including these rompers, these dungarees and baby shoes. So we're off swimming this morning in the hope it will knacker him out and he'll sleep for a long while this afternoon whilst I get cracking.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Jim Henson is my hero

When me and my sister were little, we were huge fans of both Sesame Street and The Muppets. In fact I cried when the last ever Muppet Show was aired! Every Christmas we attempt to watch Muppet's Christmas Carol together - altogether now ... "after all there's only one more sleep 'til Christmas" and I have fond memories of attending a fab Jim Henson exhibition in Bradford as a teenager.

So I was super excited to see this trailer for a new movie documentary coming out which looks fabaroo - Being Elmo - about the guy who created and puppeteers Elmo. How cool would it be to work on Sesame Street? He seems so lovely.

Sesame Street now has a whole channel on youtube and some of mine and little sister's favourite videos are classic clips featuring the puppets interviewing children. John John is a real favourite. Here he is in action ...

And it's worth looking at some of the singers who have gone on like Nora Jones singing Don't Know Why Y didn't come and Feist singing 1, 2, 3, 4 I love the number four. Brilliant.

I can't wait for Baby Biddle to join us in our Muppet Christmas viewing. Perhaps I'll manage to create some Jim Henson inspired cakes that look as good as these to accompany our festive film fun.
Image from pinterest
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