Monday, 25 April 2016

The Seven Commandments of Taking a Baby to a Cafe

When the baby was a teeny, teeny little thing that happily fitted into the palm of our hand and spent 80% of the time sleeping, 15% feeding and 5% having a nappy change, nipping out for a much needed caffeine boost was a quite straight forward task as she'd just sleep while we tucked in. Now, it requires the logistical planning of the Duchess of Cambridge's wardrobe mistress on their recent Indian trip, when she wore fourteen different, perfect, outfits in five days*:

1. Find a cafe that'll accommodate our pram tank. When we go with our friends that can mean up to a dozen buggies  tanks, which pretty much means a short-lived, nimble invasion of an entire small country cafe with tots, toddlers, tantrums and those pushchairs tanks

2. Pack enough toys  to fit in one entire aisle of Toys-R-Us. You know when you haven't packed enough toys to entertain when the baby spends half an hour happily trying to open the pack of wipes...

3. Don't forget the rice cakes. There is nothing more off-putting than enormous big bambi-esque baby eyes staring up forlornly and enviously at you as you tuck into a gigantic slice of Double Chocolate Fudge Cake

4. Order an espresso. At least you'll get to drink it in one hot mouthful unlike the lukewarm latte that'll have been sitting there for twenty minutes while you've wrestled with a wriggly baby while failing to open the pack of rice cakes

5. Try and avoid sitting next to anyone leisurely reading the paper over a large cappuccino on their day off. They probably did not come into the cafe to listen to me loudly discussing the contents of the baby's nappy after a lunch of salmon; I know this as, once upon a time, I used to be that person.

6. Decide whether the baby crawling under the tables picking up dropped panini crumbs will a) build up her immunity b) save you from making her any lunch or c) be good exercise for you as you crawl after her in the style of an army commando training course

7. Forget about any thoughts of a nice relaxed coffee for the next ten years, grab a take-away and head for the nearest soft play (aka Dante's Inferno) or a cold cuppa and another pack of chcocolate digestives on the sofa

*As a new-ish Mum, a swift sniff, a wet wipe and a flash of febreeze and I reckon I can get away with one outfit lasting five days.

Dairy and Sugar-free Fruity Flapjacks

For the last few months we've been weaning our (now not so) little baby. Its been messy. I have never had to mop our kitchen floor quite as much as I have since January. It starts the day sparkling, as though auditioning for a kitchen cleaner commercial and ends the day covered with splodges of puree and squished chunks of fruit and vegetables, all congealed together in a small lake of water from the baby's beaker.

Despite the mess, it is great fun as the baby has a ferocious appetite. She adores her food, impatiently banging on her highchair when I've not prepared her food quickly enough, reminiscent of a character in Oliver or a contestant in Man Baby-Vs-Food. 

I was keen to bake a little something for the hungry munchkin but as she has a milk allergy I needed to do a little research before getting out the greaseproof paper and switching the oven on. 

I'm certainly no deliciously ella but these are quick, easy and perfect for using up storecupboard ingredients. The baby has been enjoying them as finger food, mushed up with a little oat milk for breakfast and, of course, as another thing to throw into the food lake beneath her highchair.

Fruity Flapjacks (dairy and sugar free)

2 medium bananas
1 apple, peeled and grated
0.5 tsp cinnamon
180g oats
100g dates, finely chopped
85g dried apricots, finely chopped
100ml olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 160C/140C fan/Gas Mark 3. Graese and line a 20cm square tin with baking paper
2. Mash the bananas in  large bowl and add in the apple and cinnamon. Stir in the oats and dried fruit and finally add in the oil, mixing thoroughly until the ingredients are nicely binded together. You may need to add a little extra oil or water if the mixture appears a little dry
3. Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden. Leave to cool in the tin before cutting into squares

Baker's Notes...

  • These are great for adding a variety of dried fruit too- simply raid your storecupboard for inspiration!
  • When my husband and I bit into them we did miss the sugar- more a relfection on our dietary habits than these flapjacks I suspect... 
  • Stored in an airtight container, they will keep for up to three days

Monday, 18 April 2016

Babyproofing and Fridge Fitness with Betta Living

Cheese in fridge

According to the various books and websites we spend each evening pouring over in an ambitious attempt to keep a day or two ahead of our baby's suddenly very rapid development*, she ought to start crawling very, very soon. Admittedly at the minute, when placed on her tummy, she lolls back and fro, not dissimilar to a beached seal pup. Its very cute for us, slightly more frustrating when your favourite toy is merely inches out of reach.

And so it comes to babyproofing, well, everything. We realised very quickly that pretty much our entire home holds the most enormous attraction for an adventurous and inquisitive baby. Infact, I'm convinced there is a correlation between the more dangerous the item, the more attractive it is to a curious eight month old tot. Heck, why play with a boring, dull rattle when there is a whole selection of cables attractively and temptingly dangling down from behind the telly to gnaw at? And an immediate beeline is always made to the cupboard containing all the cleaning products and their enticing bleach containing bottles.

So when Betta Living got in touch to ask for a few tips on fridge safety and organisation with a baby it seemed a good time to really consider what needed to be done to make our home even just slightly less hazardous. After a little research, these were amongst the tips I sent in:

“Consider setting aside a cupboard or drawer for your little one to consider their own. Fill it with safe objects, such as plastic storage tubs, wooden spoons and tea towels, and encourage your baby to explore this rather than the fridge.”

“Don’t put grapes on the lowest shelves in the fridge,” she says. “These are choking hazards and could be very dangerous for inquisitive young children.”

The tips appear in the article 'Fridge Fitness' and include valuable tips from other bloggers to ensure your fridge is kept in tip top condition.

* I swear it was just two minutes ago we were elatedly walking out of the hospital with our perfect little bundle of joy, having successfully put on a nappy without a midwife staring over at us trying to remain professional as she pointed out that we'd put it on the wrong way round. Again.

With thanks to Betta Living who supported this post