Changes

August 11th, 2012 Comments off

 

It’s been 9 months since I updated this site –  long enough to grow an entire human being! When I first set up Project Toddler, my daughter had just turned one and her baby brother was still swimming away in my belly. Now Maya is nearly 2 and Kiran, born at the end of January 2012,  is already 6 months. My time of having two children under 2 is almost at an end.

I stopped writing here partly because I was finding it difficult to work at my computer as my pregnancy progressed but mostly, to be honest, that I lost interest in the site. I had a great vision for Project Toddler but once i started writing posts I somehow lost that vision and it became more of a chore than something to keep me inspired in this journey of raising two little people.

Now that the terrible twos are fast approaching, I feel like I’ve seen it all (though of course I haven’t) – the tantrums, sleep regression, refusing to go in the bath, scribbling on the walls with crayon, toilet training, learning to talk, leaving her alone for the first night while I was in the hospital having her brother, introducing a new sibling, caring for a newborn and a toddler at the same time, rocking a baby to sleep in the bouncy chair with my foot while singing and cuddling toddler to sleep in my arms, trying to stop toddler from killing baby, biting, screaming, laughing, finally starting to play together.

Finding time to work on my own projects has been a struggle while also taking care of two small children and doing paid work but now I also have my own office, both children have a fairly predictable sleep pattern, Maya is going to start nursery for a few hours each day soon and I have got used to staying up late working without falling asleep at the computer.

I want to bring this site back to the vision I originally intended for it and so i will be starting again with a new design and a fresh approach to posts. I will leave what’s there as it may come in useful for somebody but going forward I’m going to be writing more about what interests me – early childhood learning environments, fun and educational activities, inspiring design for kids and parenting philosophies.

Looking forward to many days ahead of sticky hands and crayon-scribbled walls!

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Toddler Sleep Problems – Notes From a Sleep-Deprived Mother

November 15th, 2011 Comments off

I am starting to think this site is cursed. I write a post about healthy toddler lunches and my daughter decides she basically wants to stop eating lunch. Completely. She’ll have maybe a couple of handfuls of rice, won’t touch whatever else I’ve made for her (except peas – she still loves her peas!) and will then be climbing out of her high chair. I have a feeling that the high chair will soon be decommissioned as it’s starting to become quite dangerous now that she’s an expert climber. I think I’ll try to experiment with a toddler-sized table and chairs. Under normal circumstances, I think one of those tripp trap chairs would work great but living in a traditional family compound in Bali, we don’t have a dining table (usually everyone sits on the floor to eat and rarely together).

We just had our lunch together, Maya of course refused to sit in her high chair so she ended up sitting in my lap, eating my lunch (spicy) with a spoon. *shrug* – at least she was eating!

I had been planning to write a post about sleep problems and of course no sooner than the idea plants itself in my brain, Maya starts having sleep problems of her own. Being a co-sleeper and breastfed baby, Maya has never really slept through the night but this wasn’t much of a problem as I could just feed her and roll over and we’d both go straight back to sleep. Since I stopped breastfeeding, she’s been waking in the night. I’ve been giving her a bottle of water instead which was working fairly well up until recently.

For the last week or two every morning she has woken up some time between 3.30am and 4.30am. When this first started she would be up for an hour or so, I’d get her a snack and put a dvd on and she’d go back to sleep. Not so the last few nights. She’s been waking up at 3 or 4 and staying up, having her breakfast and bath, then having her morning milk and going back to sleep at 8. At 7 months pregnant, to say I’m tired would be an understatement.

I think part of the problem is that she’s been going to bed too early but this is a consequence of her dropping her afternoon nap so she’s ultra grumpy and ready for bed before 7. She’s also been sick with a throat infection the last few days and been more tired than usual. Last night she was asleep before 6pm which I’m sure doesn’t help.

I still think that the root of the problem is that she’s stopped having milk in the night and she’s hungry.  I have noticed that she seems to sleep much better if we give her something like a banana right before she goes to bed. I’ve been giving her a snack when she wakes up but of course by then she’s properly awake and thinks it’s time to get up. It doesn’t help that the rest of the household starts getting up at around 5am here so of course when she sees people out and about, she wants to be in on the action.

Googling “toddler waking up at 4am” seems to suggest there are a lot of people having this problem so at least I’m not alone! No quick solutions but I’m not ready to throw in the towel and accept this as her normal waking time just yet. I’m hoping this is just a side effect of the nap transition and being sick (and probably her eating a lot less during the day too) and will resolve itself after a bit of nap and bedtime tweaking and making sure she gets a bedtime snack.

Apart from the early waking, Maya’s sleep habits have been changing in the way that she goes to sleep. It was a difficult transition when I stopped breastfeeding as she was used to feeding to sleep but didn’t take too long to get used to drinking a bottle and watching a dvd while I lay next to her until she was sleepy enough to fall asleep on her own. She’s always been pretty independent and hated being rocked to sleep. However the last few weeks she will climb in my lap and scream blue murder if I try to put her on the bed again. Seems my little independent girl is suddenly wanting to be cuddled to sleep.

I think the most important thing I’ve learned in my first year of being a parent is to expect the unexpected. What worked last week may not work this week, babies and toddlers change day to day and your strategies need to change with them. I had to laugh when the smug parents on the message board I frequent who boasted about their babies sleeping through the night at 3 months all had a collective breakdown when they hit the 4 month sleep regression. Be flexible, don’t expect too much, don’t expect things to be the same and you won’t be surprised when they change.

I guess when it comes down to it, Maya’s sleep ‘problem’ is my problem, not hers. In Maya’s world, 4am is a perfectly acceptable time to get up – she’s had a decent amount of sleep, she wakes up, gets food, gets a drink and gets to play. What’s not to like? The day starts much earlier here so the time she gets up is just a couple of hours earlier than my normal wake time (I have to laugh when I see my facebook friends in the uk complaining when their babies wake up at 6am). I could try going to bed earlier too  but as it is, I’m usually in bed shortly after 9pm and I do want at least some time to myself in the evenings. I’ve been having a nap with Maya in the morning, which is fine but I really want to be working while she’s sleeping.

In just a few months I’m going to have two children’s sleep patterns to juggle – one being a newborn who will no doubt wake every couple of hours through the night for the first six weeks. Let battle commence!

 

Easy & Healthy Toddler Lunch Ideas for Daycare, Preschool or Home

November 7th, 2011 Comments off

Maya has always been a good eater, thanks to baby-led weaning, but it seems pretty much as soon as she’s hit the age of one she seems to have lost her appetite a bit. She still eats a lot at breakfast time (obviously must be hungry after 12 hours without food!) but lunch time has become increasingly hit and miss with her often refusing to eat more than a few bites.

Lunch for Maya up until now has been usually rice, some kind of meat and fish with vegetables and fruit for pudding, sometimes yogurt. Now she’s really not so interested in her food and doesn’t want to stay in her high chair for longer than five minutes I’ve begun to realize I need to be a bit more creative in planning her lunches.

Maya enjoying her lunch

Maya enjoying her lunch

Healthy toddler lunches are not difficult to achieve but it’s easy to be persuaded into buying some of the convenience foods that are marketed at young children and full of additives and salt. I was horrified when looking for new meal ideas for Maya to find an ‘ideal’ toddler lunch menu for the day that included store-bought chicken nuggets and hotdogs! While I’m certainly no health food freak and Maya does have the odd chicken nugget when we’re out and a biscuit here and there, I do try and cook as much of her food from scratch as possible and give her healthy fresh foods that are low in salt and sugar.

As a society we are conditioned to believe that small children don’t like vegetables and will only eat ‘kiddie’ foods like chicken nuggets, fries, pizza and so on. This is simply not true if you offer healthy foods from the beginning! Some of Maya’s favorite foods are green beans, peas, apples and plain rice. Even here in Indonesia where children eat rice from being young babies they are surprised to see Maya enjoying vegetables and say that she won’t like spicy food when in fact she gobbles it down without blinking an eyelid!

Offer your toddler a variety of healthy lunches and you may be surprised what he chooses to eat.

Easy Toddler Lunch Ideas

Finger foods are definitely the way to go when it comes to toddler lunches. While your baby may have sat happily in his high chair for an hour, you’re more likely to find that your independent toddler is squirming to get out after a few minutes as they want to be running round, playing and getting up to mischief. This is certainly the case with Maya!

It is much easier to make up some tasty finger foods that can be carried round and nibbled on at will. This way if your child wants to get up and play, they can eat at the same time. I do think it is important to include young children with meal times and I always try to eat at the same time as Maya but if she wants to get out of her high chair, I don’t force her to stay there. I definitely don’t agree with the Balinese method of having no family meal times and chasing children round while they play, forcing handfuls of rice into their mouth while they’re distracted!

Toddlers are also natural grazers so it may be worth rethinking the traditional 3 meals a day model and offering a series of smaller snacks instead. This is helpful for little tummies and keeps blood sugar levels steady which can in turn reduce the dreaded tantrums and improve your little one’s naps.

Any of the suggestions from my healthy toddler snacks post would also work well on a toddler lunch menu. Try to offer a selection of grains, fruit and vegetables, dairy and protein and remember to include healthy fats in ingredients like peanut butter and cheese.  Toddlers need a fairly high fat diet and therefore should only be offered ‘full fat’ versions of dairy foods and milk.

Some of Maya’s favorite toddler lunches are:

  • Sandwiches with different fillings, cut into small squares
  • Home-made breaded chicken strips served with rice balls and vegetables such as green beans and corn on the cob
  • Home-made pizza
  • Pasta shapes with mixed vegetables
  • Potato wedges and salad vegetables

Always followed by fruit: apple, watermelon, orange and papaya being favorites.

Toddler Lunch Ideas For Daycare

If your little one attends nursery, pre-school or daycare over lunch time and you need to provide a packed lunch, the same principles apply but try to make sure the food you choose will stay fresh without refrigeration and make sure no prohibited or easy-to-choke-on foods are included.

Offer a wide selection of foods as your toddler probably won’t eat everything and you won’t be there to supervise. A variety of different small snacks is better than one large portion of something and expect at least half of the lunch not to be eaten (unless your toddler is not at all picky about what they eat!).

Sandwiches are always a popular option. You can make them less boring by offering lots of different fillings on different days and varying the types of breads. For a change try wraps rolled up with a filling and cut into sushi-style rolls, filled pita bread or use large cookie cutters to make normal sandwiches into fun shapes. Mini pizzas are also a popular snack with young kids or just offer a selection of bite-size fillings with crackers.

If your toddler is bored of sandwiches, why not try a bento style lunch? Japanese mothers lovingly prepare lunch boxes for their children every morning filled with rice and healthy treats, shaped into bunny rabbits, flowers and amazing scenes. You may not be able to achieve as impressive bentos as the Japanese but the idea is to be creative, include lots of different healthy foods and make the whole thing visually appealing. Try it! You may surprise yourself.

Try the following list of toddler daycare lunch ideas if you’re out of inspiration:

  • Crackers spread with peanut butter or cream cheese
  • Pasta salad
  • Homemade chicken nuggets
  • Cheese cubes with cherry tomatoes, cucumber and olives
  • Vegetable sticks with hummus or other dip
  • Steamed vegetables with tasty dressing
  • Dried fruit
  • Rice crackers
  • Bread sticks with dip
  • Fresh fruit salad
  • Mini muffins
  • Yogurt

Always provide a bottle or sippy cup of water or some other kind of drink if your toddler won’t drink water. We have given Maya water since she was a baby and so she has never had a preference for juice or sweet drinks. If you do offer juice, dilute it as much as possible as it is one of the main causes of toddler tooth decay – you can wean your toddler off juice gradually by increasing the amount of water you mix with it. Milk is also an option but only if it can be kept refrigerated until lunch time. You should also limit the amount of milk your toddler drinks to less than 500ml per day or they may fill up on milk rather than other foods.

Toddler Lunch Boxes

Of course you’ll also need a suitable lunch box or bag to put your toddler’s lunch in if you are sending him off to daycare. A toddler lunch box should be easy to open with no fiddly catches or small parts that will be lost easily. There are some fun bright plastic lunch boxes with different compartments that are great for toddlers who like to pick at different foods.

Try to find a toddler lunch box with a matching insulated bag that will help to keep it cool and also make it easy and fun for your child to carry himself. There are lots of character design lunch boxes and bags so you can choose your toddler’s favorite character

Bento style lunch boxes also work great for toddler lunches as they have several inbuilt compartments and are usually on the smaller side so they are perfect for smaller appetites. I have a few bento boxes already that I bought when I was in Japan and I’ll definitely be using them for Maya when she starts nursery.

Here are some fun lunch boxes and lunch bags that I think would be great for toddlers:

Skip Hop Zoo Lunchie insulated bag

skip hop zoo lunchie insulated lunch bag

Dr Sears Nibble Tray

dr sears nibble tray

Goodbyn Lunchbox

goodbyn lunchbox

Tiered Panda Bento Box

tiered panda bento box

Fresh Baby So Easy divided lunch box

fresh baby lunchbox

This book is also great for lunch ideas if you are looking for some extra inspiration. Yes it is vegan but the ideas are great for anybody and there’s nothing to stop you throwing some extra meat or cheese in. Good for kids with allergies too: Vegan Lunch Box: 130 Amazing, Animal-Free Lunches Kids and Grown-Ups Will Love!

 

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How to get a Toddler to Brush Their Teeth – Tips and Techniques for Easier Teeth Cleaning

November 1st, 2011 Comments off
toddler brushing teeth

Maya brushing her teeth... sort of...

Brushing toddler teeth is no easy task – Maya currently only has 4 teeth, but still cleaning them is a nightmare. If I come anywhere near her with a toothbrush, she clamps her mouth shut or sticks her tongue out so I can’t get to her teeth. I’m lucky if I manage to rub a bit of toothpaste on with my finger and pin her down long enough to run the brush over her teeth once before she screams the house down. I know it is important to clean toddler’s teeth at least twice a day and while I try to ensure Maya has a healthy diet, she probably gets more sugar than I would like due to the live-in grandparents not thinking twice about giving her a biscuit or bit of cake.

That being the case, I’ve recently been looking into strategies for toddler teeth cleaning and getting some ideas for brushing a toddler’s teeth without making it into a battle. We’re still working on making teeth brushing a fun activity for Maya but in the meantime, here’s a summary of the advice I’ve found:

When to Start Brushing Toddlers Teeth

In general, as soon as teeth appear in your baby’s mouth, you should clean them. It can even be beneficial to start before the first tooth has arrived as it gets the baby used to the sensation of teeth cleaning so they’re less likely to resist it later.

It’s not necessary to use a tooth brush at first and before the teeth have appeared – a quick wipe with a cloth or gauze-covered finger will suffice while your baby is still young. When those first teeth do make their appearance, start using a children’s toothpaste – just a tiny smear, so that they can benefit from the fluoride.

Getting your baby used to a toothbrush is also a good idea. Even if they still have a gummy smile, having a toothbrush to play with and chew on will mean they’re less likely to reject it when you start using it to clean their teeth in several months. Make sure your baby or young toddler can see you brushing your teeth as part of your daily routine and they’re likely to want to copy.

Once your toddler has a few teeth, it’s time to switch to a real toothbrush instead of a cloth or piece of gauze. It’s also recommended to start flossing your toddler’s teeth as soon as they have 2 teeth which are right next to each other but the idea of this is frankly laughable to me as I don’t know how I’m supposed to floss Maya’s teeth when I can barely get her to open her mouth. We’ll attempt flossing once we have the teeth brushing perfected.

What Kind of Toothbrush is Best for a Toddler

The best toddler toothbrush is a small headed brush with soft bristles. You can buy toothbrushes especially for toddlers and these are probably the best bet. The toothbrush we got for Maya has a wide round handle with a hole in it so she can easily hold it herself by putting her thumb through the hole. You can also buy finger-tip brushes for babies which fit over your finger. This can make brushing teeth that little bit easier if your toddler resists all attempts to put something in his mouth.

As your toddler grows older you can keep them interested by letting them choose their own toothbrush. A great way to get a toddler to brush his teeth is by buying a toothbrush that features their favorite cartoon character – there are toddler toothbrushes available for nearly every character.

A toddler electric toothbrush can also be a good gimmick to encourage your child to brush his teeth. Toddlers are often fascinated by the buzzing vibrating brush, especially if it features their favorite character. You may even find that your toddler can’t wait to use his electric toothbrush and wants to clean his teeth more often. Electric toothbrushes are also more effective at removing plaque than regular brushing. Battery powered toothbrushes are generally recommended for children aged 2 and up.

You should also make sure to use a special children’s toothpaste as the taste is more appealing to toddlers and they contain the right amount of fluoride. Very young toddlers can’t spit the toothpaste out so use only a very small amount and check with your dentist if your water supply has added fluoride.

Tips For Brushing Toddler Teeth

Make it Fun

If every teeth cleaning session is traumatic for your child, things are unlikely to improve. From the start, make sure your toddler sees you brushing your teeth and try to show them it is fun. You can try giving them a big smile with a mouth full of toothpaste and making a big deal out of spitting out the paste. Maya loves to ‘help’ me brush my teeth and I can usually persuade her to open her mouth after she’s had a go at brushing my teeth first.

You can also try making it into a game – count the teeth one by one and make sure they’re all getting special treatment. Start with a tickling game and then say you’re going to ‘tickle’ your toddler’s teeth. Use a special song that your child will learn to associate with having their teeth brushed and look forward to. Make silly sounds and silly faces when brushing teeth to make your toddler laugh

Use Distraction

We’ve had some success sitting Maya down in front of her favorite baby Einstein DVD while we quickly reach in to brush her teeth. If she’s somewhat occupied, she’s less likely to protest – the same tactic works for nappy changes. You could also try giving your toddler a special toy that is reserved only for tooth brushing time.

Use Rewards

You can also use a favorite video or toy but make sure your toddler knows that they won’t get it until their teeth are clean. You can also try giving them a ‘special’ sticker every morning as a reward for having extra clean teeth. Make this part of your every day routine so your child knows the ‘good part’ is coming as soon as they’ve brushed their teeth.

Let them take control

Do let your toddler hold the toothbrush and brush their own teeth, even if they’re not very good at it. I let Maya take turns so I’ll brush her teeth for a while and then give her the toothbrush so she can have a go herself (and brush my teeth too!). Remember that your toddler will not be skilled enough to brush his own teeth for quite some time so you should always supplement with your own brushing, no matter how independent they are.

Don’t Give In

It is vitally important to care for your toddler’s teeth, even though they will eventually be replaced by adult teeth. Decay in first teeth can cause adult teeth to be misaligned and in severe cases may even require surgery. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because you don’t give your toddler sugary drinks or snacks that tooth cleaning isn’t as necessary – even healthy foods like milk and fruits can cause tooth decay.

Even if none of the fun tricks and games work, you need to clean your toddlers teeth twice a day so if they are resistant you may need to wrap them in a towel or get another adult to help hold their hands down so you can get to their mouth. Still use some of the suggestions above – sing a funny song which will also let your toddler know that when the song is over, the teeth brushing will be finished. And give some kind of reward afterwards and tell them how good they are for letting you brush their teeth – in time the process should become a little easier.

Creative Ideas and Recipes for Healthy Toddler Snacks On The Go

October 30th, 2011 Comments off

It’s a fact of life that many toddlers are picky eaters and also that they’re constantly on the move. It can be difficult to get your toddler to sit still long enough to eat a whole meal, even if he doesn’t object to what you’ve cooked. Maya has been a pretty good eater so far, which I attribute to baby led weaning. However in the last month or so she’s definitely been reluctant to sit in her high chair and has on occasion barely picked at her meal.

It’s perfectly normal for toddlers to be fussy about eating. For one, the time required to eat a meal is much longer than most small children like to sit still. It is also normal for babies’ appetites to decrease as they reach the one year mark as they are no longer growing so fast. This can result in a lot of worried parents and picky toddlers who barely eat anything from one day to the next.

Part of the answer is to try not to worry about your toddler’s eating habits. No normal child will willingly starve himself and most parents find that the more fuss they make about getting their toddler to eat their dinner, the less they’ll actually eat. But how can you make sure your child is getting the nutrients he needs? Many parents like to give their children a toddler vitamin or supplement which can certainly help, but you want to make sure they’re eating some real food too.

One of the best solutions to deal with this age-old problem is to offer your toddler frequent snacks instead of 3 big meals a day. As well as being restless, toddlers have little tummies and may find it too overwhelming to try and eat a whole meal. By offering a range of different healthy toddler snacks snacks that your little one can help themselves to during the day, you can be sure you’re covering all the major food groups and your toddler can graze to his heart’s content. You’ll probably be surprised at the range and amount of food your toddler will consume when given free reign.

Ideas for Healthy Toddler Snacks On The Go

The perfect snacks for toddlers are bite size or can be picked up and carried around without crumbling and making a mess everywhere.  You’ll probably find that your toddler goes through phases of obsessing over a certain food, only to ignore it the next week. This is totally normal so just go with it.

Try to offer a range of nutritious healthy snacks from the following groups:

Fruits and vegetables

  • Fruit cut into bite size pieces, with yogurt dip for extra calories. Aim to cover all the colors of the rainbow for maximum vitamins
  • Carrot and cucumber sticks with hummus dip
  • ‘Ants on a log’ – fill celery sticks with peanut butter or cream cheese and add raisins. Don’t worry if your toddler just eats the filling – this is the nutritious part!
  • Corn on the cob, cut into toddler size portions
  • Dried fruit – as well as classic raisins try more exotic dried mango, papaya and other fruits(but try not to offer too frequently due to high sugar content)
  • Smoothies – blend banana and other fruits with yogurt and/or milk and serve in a straw cup
  • Steamed broccoli, carrot sticks and other veggies with grated cheese
  • Roast carrot and squash ‘fries’
  • Peas and sweetcorn
  • Apple slices, perhaps with peanut butter for some extra nutrients.

If your toddler never eats vegetables, don’t make an issue of it, keep offering them and maybe try sneaking some veggies chopped up small or grated into pasta sauce, pancakes and muffins.

Starches and Grains

  • Toast cut into fingers with different nutrient dense toppings – try peanut butter, hummus or cream cheese
  • Mini sandwiches with different fillings (go for sticky fillings so they don’t fall apart) – tuna and mayonnaise, cream cheese with grated carrot, toasted ham and cheese.
  • Roasted potato or sweet potato wedges with dip
  • Pasta spirals or other shapes
  • Wholegrain cereal shapes that can be eaten dry like Cheerios (but watch out for the sugar content!)
  • Wholegrain, low-salt crackers with different toppings
  • Mini muffins (don’t have to be sweet – try cheese and vegetable combinations)
  • Mini pancakes with different fillings in the batter
  • Rice balls (onigiri) with different fillings
  • Rolled up tortillas with different fillings, cut into bite size pieces
  • Rice cakes with different toppings
  • Mini homemade pizzas
  • Potato cakes with tuna or other fillings
  • Oatmeal ‘pancakes’ with raisins (recipe below)

Meats and other Protein

  • Homemade chicken nuggets – dip bite sizes pieces of chicken in beaten egg and breadcrumbs and fry
  • Homemade fish fingers – dip strips of boneless fish fillet in beaten egg and breadcrumbs and fry
  • Homemade meatballs – fry balls of minced beef with onion and garlic
  • Tofu cubes
  • Tempe slices
  • Homemade bean and lentil burgers
  • Falafel (chickpea balls)

Dairy

  • Cheese cubes
  • Yogurt
  • Smoothies made with milk or yogurt
  • Cream cheese or yogurt dips to be eaten with cut up veggies
  • Omelette with different fillings, cut into wedges.

Try to avoid commercially prepared foods, especially those aimed at young children as they are often high in salt, sugar and preservatives. It is much easier than you think to make your own versions of toddler favorites such as chicken nuggets and meatballs and there are some further recipe suggestions below. When cooking foods for your toddler, do not add salt and keep an eye on salt content of crackers and breads. Children under the age of 3 should consume no more than 2g of salt per day.

Using Toddler snack cups to Encourage your Child to Eat More

One way to get your toddler to eat through the day is to set out a kind of snack platter on a low, easy to reach table that your child can help himself to through the day. Another way which I use a lot with Maya and is useful for taking snacks out with you is to use a toddler snack cup or container.

I often fill several toddler snack containers with different snacks such as apple slices, raisins, cubes of cheese and crackers and leave them within reach close to where Maya is playing. As she is not yet old enough to tell me when she is hungry or what she wants to eat, this allows her to eat healthy snacks whenever she gets hungry. If we’re heading out, I just pop the lids on the snack cups, throw them in the changing bag and we’re good to go.

You can use any small container with a lid as a toddler snack container but there are now several specially designed toddler snack cups on the market which have some handy features like handles and spill-resistant lids. Two of the most popular brands are The Snack-Trap and the Munchie Mug

Toddler Snacks for Preschool or Daycare

If your little one heads off for preschool or daycare in the morning, you’ll want to make sure they have some nutritious snacks to get them through the day. Generally any of the snacks listed in ‘Toddler Snacks on the Go’ above will work well at daycare but be aware of school rules about what foods you can bring in. Many schools do now not allow nuts and nut products such as peanut butter in packed lunches and snacks due to allergy concerns.

You also want to make sure that whatever you include can be easily eaten by your toddler without help and has a low choking risk – even if your child is a very proficient eater, they may not be supervised as carefully as you would at home so be sure to cut grapes and other small round foods in half. Some preschools also ban foods that they consider to be ‘chokable’ such as raisins and popcorn so check with the school first.

Supply the snacks in a multi-compartment snack cup or box and include an icepack to keep the food fresh. Avoid anything that needs reheating and it goes without saying that you should encourage healthy eating for all the children by not including cookies or candies – save these for an occasional treat at home

Healthy Toddler Snack Recipes You can Make at Home

If you’re still stuck for healthy toddler snack ideas, here are a few of our favorite recipes that have been thoroughly tested and approved by Maya. If you’re doing baby-led weaning, feel free to try these out on your baby too – Maya was eating them from 6 months old:

Oatmeal Pancakes

Great for breakfast and the leftovers can be cut into bite size pieces and kept in the fridge in a snack cup for later.

  1. Fill a flat bottomed bowl or deep plate with a thin layer of porridge oats
  2. Add fillings such as raisins, banana slices or spoons of fruit puree (raspberry works well)
  3. Pour on just enough milk to cover the oats
  4. Microwave on medium power for 3 minutes or until all the milk has been absorbed
  5. Wait for the pancake to cool, cut into wedges and serve.

Potato-tuna cakes

  1. Boil and mash some potatoes with milk or water
  2. Mix in some canned tuna (in oil, not brine) and peas or any veggies you fancy
  3. Add enough flour so that the mixture is formable into patty shapes
  4. Dust with more flour and fry in oil until golden brown
  5. Leave to cool and freeze the extras for later

Pizza toast

  1. Toast a thick slice of bread on one side (wholegrain or white is fine – toddlers should have a mixture of both)
  2. Spread the non-toasted side with no-added-salt tomato puree and sprinkle with grated cheddar cheese
  3. Add different toppings – sliced ham, tuna, chopped onion, sliced vegetables and so on
  4. Toast until the cheese is melted
  5. Leave to cool and cut into squares

Cheese and Vegetable muffins

  1. In a bowl mix 2 cups of self-raising flour, 1 cup of grated cheddar cheese, 1 cup grated carrot and 1 cup cooked broccoli cut into small pieces
  2. Beat 2 eggs together with 1 cup of milk and 30g of melted butter
  3. Combine the 2 mixtures and stir until mixed well
  4. Spoon into a muffin tin and bake at 200 degrees centigrade for 30 minutes or until a metal skewer comes out clean when poked into a muffin
  5. Leave to cool and enjoy with your toddler!

 

 

Unique Gift Ideas for First Birthday and Toddler Christmas Gifts for Boys and Girls

October 28th, 2011 Comments off

As Maya has just celebrated her first birthday and there is a lot of talk in the forums I frequent about good first birthday gifts and toddler Christmas gifts, I thought I would write a post about the presents I got for her and the gifts I am planning to give her for Christmas. We decided to go fairly low key for her 1st birthday, partly because she’s too little, partly because Christmas is but a few months away and partly because I don’t like her to have too many new toys at once.

I’m happy to say that she loved her presents so I think my strategy was the right one. In my opinion, the best gifts for a baby’s first birthday are simple open ended toys made of high quality natural materials like wood. I much prefer to buy classic toys like this that encourage creative thinking and motor skills as there is plenty of time for all the electronic plastic gifts for toddlers later.

Baby’s First Birthday Gifts

The first birthday gift we gave her was this classic pop-up toy by The Original Toy Company. This has proved to be a great toy so far and has lots of opportunities for further play as she gets older. Basically the wooden pegs are placed into the holes which are sprung loaded so if you push the pegs down they pop up and fly out of the holes. Maya just loves putting things in/on other objects at the moment – lids on jars, stones in bottles etc. so I think this is a great toy for children around 12 months old (ignore the big Amazon warning saying it’s for children over 3 years due to choking hazard, the manufacturer’s recommended age is from 12 months and it would be pretty impressive if you managed to choke on one of those pegs) honing their fine motor skills. I thought it would take her a while to get the trick of popping the pegs up but after about 10 minutes she’d mastered it and there were pegs flying all over the place, much to her delight. When she gets older this toy will also be great for color matching as the pegs are all different colors and have a matching hole. This is a simple well made toy at a great price and I highly recommend it.

1st birthday gifts - Classic pop up toy

first birthday gift - Classic Pop-up Toy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to buy the classic pop-up toy on Amazon

 

 

The other wooden toy we got her was this Plan Toys Dancing Alligator. Maya has been walking for a couple of months now so I thought a pull-along toy would be great for her and I wasn’t wrong. The alligator makes a click clack noise when it is pulled along and Maya loves walking backwards and watching it come towards her. As well as being a great quality and well made toy, Plan Toys uses all natural and non toxic sustainable materials so if being environmentally friendly is important to you, you’ll want to look out for other toys from this company. It is recommended from 19 months but I think basically as long as your toddler is walking, you’re good to go.

 

first birthday gifts - pull along alligator

Plan Toys Dancing Alligator

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to buy the Dancing Alligator on Amazon

 

little tikes purple trikeWe also got her a tricycle which she loves although she hasn’t got the hang of peddling yet (and her legs are still a little too short!). Due to size and weight we just bought a cheap local one here but I would have definitely gone for one of the new smart trikes like this Little Tikes purple trike if we’d had the option. I think smart trikes are a great idea as they grow with your child and can be used just like a stroller for older babies and then as a parent-powered tricycle for younger toddlers when you go out on walks with the option to convert it to a normal tricycle as your child gets older. This model also has a sun shade which would be very useful here. I’m really quite jealous that I can’t get these here as I know Maya would love it and it’s PURPLE!!

Click here to buy the Little Tikes 3 in 1 purple Trike on Amazon

 

Toddler Christmas Gifts

With Christmas just a few months away I kept back some of the toys I’d bought for Maya so that I could give them to her at Christmas (I find the toys here to either be very poor quality or very expensive so I generally order them direct from Europe or the USA and I stocked up when we were in the UK. Of course any toy suitable for a baby’s first birthday gift will also make a great first Christmas gift for babies and toddlers around the age of 12 months. This is technically Maya’s 2nd Christmas but as she was only 2 months old last year, we didn’t really bother with presents. This is what I’ve got her and my recommendation for top toys for toddlers this Christmas:

Wonderworld Eco-friendly Sound Blocks

toddler christmas gifts - wonderworld wooden sound blocksI ummed and ahhed about buying these for a while because they are expensive for blocks but after receiving them, I was glad I did. These blocks are really beautiful objects that I can’t wait to display in the window – they have colored plastic windows with beads inside them so they look great with the sun shining through them. Each block makes a different noise when you shake them. I think blocks are a great toy for any baby or toddler in general  as they promote creativity and I really prefer to buy beautiful high quality toys that will last. These blocks definitely fit the bill and I think they’d also be great for a baby. For older toddlers they can be used for color matching, constructing and musical activities. I think I may just want to play with these more than Maya!

Click here to buy the Wonderworld Eco-friendly wooden Sound Blocks on Amazon

 

Plan Toys Stacking Rings

toddler christmas gifts - plan toys stacking ringsStacking rings are of course a classic toy for very good reason. There are lots of educational learning opportunities in this simple toy from just putting the rings on the peg to sorting them by size and color order. There are lots of stacking rings available but I really wanted a nice quality wooden one rather than a cheap plastic version and I think this stacker by Plan Toys is great value. I think a lovely bright wooden stacker is also great on display in a kid’s bedroom

 

Click here to buy the Plan Toys Stacking Rings on Amazon

 

 

Melissa and Doug Pound a Peg

toddler christmas gifts - melissa and doug pound a pegMaya will probably still be a little young for this when we give it to her for Christmas as it’s recommended from 2 4 months but she does love hitting things with sticks so who knows! This will be a great toy for using up some of that crazy toddler energy and I’ve bought quite a few toys from Melissa and Doug before and always found them to be great quality.

 

 

Click here to buy the Melissa and Doug Pound a Peg on Amazon

 

 

Fisher Price Chatter Telephone

toddler christmas gifts - fisher price chatter telephoneI used to have one of these telephones when I was little so of course when Fisher Price re-released, their classic toys, I couldn’t resist. I’m also sorely tempted by the record player but I think I might see if I can pick up a vintage one on ebay first. Maya is obsessed with telephones at the moment – if she hears one ringing she’ll put her hand to her ear and say “ehoh” and pretty much any object can stand in for a telephone – a computer mouse, a knife and fork container… so I know she’ll love this! It also doubles up as a pull-toy which is a bonus.

 

Click here to buy the Fisher Price Chatter Telephone on Amazon

 

Corolle Calin Baby Doll

toddler christmas gifts - Corolle calin baby dollI’ve been wanting to get Maya a doll for a while and when I found out I was pregnant again, it was even more reason to get her one. I think a nice doll makes a really good first birthday or chrismast present for a girl and they’re great for open ended role play. The problem was when I started looking, 95% of all the dolls I found freaked me out  with their weird staring faces and ‘realistic’ bodily functions. Then I found these dolls by Corolle which I think are just perfect as a first doll. They look cute, not scary, they’re soft-bodied so great for cuddling and this one is vanilla scented! They are a little more expensive than some other dolls but I think it’s worth paying a little bit more for a good quality toy and these dolls have great reviews. I can’t wait to give it to her to be honest!

Click here to buy the Corolle Calin Baby Doll on Amazon

 

 

Melissa and Doug wooden Cutting Fruit

toddler christmas gifts - Melissa and Doug cutting fruitAnother great toy from Melissa and Doug! Again I think this may be a little old for Maya at the moment but I’m sure she’ll enjoy sticking the bits of fruit together and it will be great for practicing knife skills later – each fruit is segmented and joined together with Velcro so it makes a realistic noise when you ‘cut’ it. I think play food of all kinds is a great toy for toddler and I have my eye on some other Melissa and Doug sets like the sandwich-making set and the wooden sushi set. It also may be good for encouraging your toddler to eat their fruit and vegetables!

 

Click here to buy Melissa and Doug wooden Cutting Fruit on Amazon

 

 

I’ll update this post with photos of Maya enjoying her new toys after Christmas J

In the meantime, have fun shopping for first birthday and Christmas gifts for your baby or toddler!

Categories: Toys Tags:

Surviving Pregnancy with a Toddler Part 2 – Preparing your Toddler for the New Baby, Getting through the First Few Weeks and Dealing with Sibling Rivalry

October 27th, 2011 Comments off

(Looking for part 1? Find it here)

How and When to Tell your Toddler about the New Baby

New baby books for toddlers

There are lots of 'new baby' books for toddlers on Amazon - click the picture to see more

The length of a pregnancy can seem like a lifetime to small children so try not to spill the beans about your pregnancy too early, even if you are excited. Toddlers don’t have much concept of time so don’t be surprised if when you do tell them, they start asking you every day if the baby is coming tomorrow. Probably a good time to introduce the idea is when you first start showing – your child may notice your growing stomach anyway and ask about it.

At just 12 months, I think Maya is probably too young to have any concept of what “there’s a baby in mummy’s tummy” means, and even older toddlers will have difficulty understanding that they will end up with a real live brother or sister at the end of your pregnancy. You can try to help understanding by taking them along to ultrasound appointments and encouraging them to feel the baby kicking.

Most days we point to my stomach and remind Maya that there’s a baby in there. She will kiss my stomach if I say “kiss the baby” and point to my stomach but I’m pretty sure this is just because she understands the word “kiss”. She’s also been to all of our doctor’s appointments where we point at the screen and say “there’s your little brother”.

Books designed to prepare toddlers for a new baby can be another helpful way to explain about pregnancy and babies to your preschooler. I recently bought Maya My New Baby by Rachel Fuller which has some lovely pictures to explain what a new baby will be like and has questions like “why does the baby always want milk?” and “why is the baby always crying”. Again I’m sure she’s a little young to understand most of it but if she’d been older I would have bought more books as I think they are a great way of explaining slightly complex subjects to young children.

Preparing Your Toddler for the New Baby

It’s a good idea to start thinking about any adjustments you will have to make once the new baby arrives and get your toddler used to these well before your due date. These may include:

  • Sleeping arrangements – does your toddler have his own room or do you co-sleep? Where will you put the new baby after it’s born? Have you considered that your older child may be woken by a newborn crying several times a night?
  • Breastfeeding –if you are still nursing your toddler you will need to decide if you want to stop or continue and tandem nurse both children. If you want to stop, this is best done gradually over at least several weeks (with extra time for setbacks) – I talked about this more in part 1.
  • Care arrangements – If you are currently the primary carer for your toddler, how will this change when you have another baby? Now would be a good time to introduce other carers so that your child has chance to get used to them before the birth. Remember, unless you’re planning a home birth you will probably need to spend at least one night away from home which could be quite traumatic for your toddler if they are used to being put to bed by you and only you every night.

Maya currently sleeps in our bed and will probably continue to sleep in the same room when we have the next baby, but in a separate bed. I’ve been getting her used to this on a mattress next to our bed which she has taken too quite well but I took away after we had a quite a big earthquake here – the only place to put it was next to some large cupboards and I was worried they could tip over and crush her if we have another big quake. I’m also not sure how well she will sleep through a newborn’s cries so we may experiment with moving her into another room for a while.

As we live with my husband’s parents and Maya is very used to being left with them, we do not have a problem with childcare although I am planning on getting Maya used to being put to bed by my mother in law over the next month or so and obviously still working on stopping night feeds. She usually only wakes once a night now so hopefully it shouldn’t be too traumatic for either of us. We have also recently hired a nanny to watch her during the day while I work at home which I’m sure we’ll appreciate even more once there’s another baby around. We have the luxury of living in a country where doing this is affordable but if hiring a nanny isn’t an option, you could consider asking a close family member to help out.

It’s a good idea to make arrangements for childcare for the time you spend in hospital well in advance and have at least one backup plan in place too. Make sure you talk to your toddler about where they will be staying as it gets closer to the time and if possible take them to see the hospital and explain you will be staying there for one or two nights to have the new baby. If your toddler isn’t used to sleeping away from home (with grandparents for example) on occasion, it will probably be better to try to arrange for someone to come to your home to watch them rather than placing them in unfamiliar surroundings without you.

Toddler and newborn

Maya practising being a big sister with a friend's newborn baby

As well as getting your child used to being looked after by other people, you will probably want to take the opportunity to spend some quality time alone with them before there is another baby to consider. Have a few fun days out with just you, your partner and your toddler and make some fun memories of when you were a family of just 3!

If your toddler is old enough to understand, try to talk regularly about what the baby will be like and spend time with friends or family with a young baby if possible. Explain that at first the baby will not be able to play and will just eat, sleep and cry for most of the time. Try not to use terms like “you’re a big boy now” as this can make the toddler feel even more insecure.  On the other hand you can try and make your older child feel important by telling them how much you’ll need their help when the baby arrives and how glad you are that the baby has a big brother or sister to help look after them.

I’ve already bought Maya a baby doll so she can get used to the idea of having a ‘baby’ to look after and I’m guessing that when the time comes she will watch me looking after her little brother and copy by changing the doll’s nappy, putting it to bed and so on. Role play toys are great for small children as they really help them to understand the world around them.

 

When the New Baby Finally Arrives

When it’s time for you to head to hospital, make sure you explain to your toddler where you are going and that you’ll be coming home with the new baby. It helps if you’ve been reminding them of this in the weeks and months leading up to your due date. If you have an older toddler consider waking them up if you leave in the middle of the night – they may be worried if they are used to you being there when they wake up, even if someone else explains that you’ve gone to hospital.

Have your toddler come visit you and the baby in hospital as soon as possible if you are staying longer than one night. Try to make sure that the new baby is in his cot or you have someone else to hold him when your older child arrives so that you can give them your full attention.

Sibling gifts can be a really helpful way to avoid jealousy when the baby is first born. Make up a small gift bag that you can give your toddler when she visits you in hospital or when you return home and explain that these are presents from the new baby.  Even if your toddler is too young to understand this concept, it can still be helpful to give a new toy to distract them from feeling insecure about their new sibling.

When you get home it will be a bit of an adjustment to make going from looking after a toddler to looking after a toddler and a newborn. Accept any help you are offered from friends and family and expect to feel exhausted and sleep deprived for the first few weeks. Let the housework slide and remember that the only important things in this vital period are taking care of your newborn and making sure your toddler gets lots of attention.

They have a great tradition here in Bali where new mothers are not allowed in the kitchen until the umbilical cord stump falls off the newborn. This forces the mother to rest while the rest of the family cooks, cleans and brings her meals and water, allowing her to concentrate on looking after the baby and getting rest. While you probably won’t have this option, you can make things easier by cooking and freezing lots of meals in advance of your due date and perhaps asking your partner or a family member to stock up the fridge while you are in hospital.

Maya sweeping

Maya loves 'helping' around the house with things like sweeping so I'm sure she'll enjoy helping take care of her little brother too.

While it will be hard work when you’re dealing with a crying baby who wants milk every 10 minutes, try to spend lots of quality one on one time with your toddler so they don’t feel left out. If your newborn wants to be held all the time, invest in a baby carrier or sling so you have your hands free to cuddle and play with your older child. I have both a Beco Butterfly II baby carrier which comes with a newborn insert and is also suitable for toddlers and a Wrapsody Bali Baby Breeze wrap which is great for newborns through to toddlers and the most flexible kind of baby carrier out there once you’ve figured out the different wrapping styles (the coolest available for hotter climes too!). Involve your toddler in caring for the baby as much as possible so they feel that they are helping you as well as making sure you spend time together. Toddlers love helping out with basic tasks and asking them to do things like bring you a clean nappy or put soap in the baby bath can make them feel important. Encourage sibling bonding by asking your toddler to interact with her little brother by kissing him, talking to him and making funny faces. As your baby grows up, their bigger brother or sister will no doubt be the first source of entertainment and smiles.

I have asked many people and read many experiences of raising a toddler and a newborn together, particularly with a small age gap and the general conclusion is that the first few months may be harder than anything you’ve done before but the reward at the end of it is siblings that will grow up with a close bond that is hard to achieve with a larger age gap.  While I wait for Maya’s little brother to be born in approximately 3 months. I’d love to hear about your experiences in the same situation – leave a comment or drop me an email via the contact form.

Surviving Pregnancy with a Toddler Part 1 – Initial Concerns, Coping with Fatigue, Morning Sickness and Nursing While Pregnant

October 25th, 2011 Comments off

So you’re Pregnant… Again?

pregnant again

Maya at 7 months and me - pregnant but I didn't know it yet!

Congratulations! It can be a shock to find out you’re expecting another baby when your older child is still a toddler or a baby themselves. Even if the pregnancy was planned, it’s normal to feel some anxiety about how you’re going to cope with looking after two children and the affect a new baby will have on your toddler.

When I found out I was pregnant again, Maya was only about 8 months old and I had a million questions and concerns – how would we find the time and money to look after two small children? How would I deal with the strain of being pregnant while looking after an active toddler? How would I manage juggling a toddler and a newborn?

Of course after a month or so to get used to the idea I started getting really excited about having another baby in the house and while I’m sure it will be hard at first, I know Maya is going to love her new brother. There are many advantages to small age groups such as the children being able to play together and getting over the difficult baby stage quickly without feeling like you’re starting all over again. I asked a few friends who have two toddlers or children close together and the overwhelming consensus was that while the first few months pass by in a blur, it is definitely worth it.

Coping with Being Pregnant While Raising a Toddler

Anyone who’s been pregnant before will probably agree that it is not easy. Morning sickness, fatigue, back pain and a whole range of pregnancy ailments are likely to be the norm for at least a portion of your pregnancy. With your first child there was of course more time to rest, get a good night’s sleep, do your daily exercise and eat well. Throw a toddler into the mix and things get a little more challenging.

I have been lucky enough not to suffer from morning sickness in either of my pregnancies but I can imagine it being a miserable situation if you’re alone looking after a toddler with the urge to throw up every ten minutes. The best plan of action is to always have somewhere safe you can put your toddler for 5 minutes if you need to rush to the bathroom. A play pen with some interesting toys or a baby dvd ready to play can be life savers. Never leave your baby or toddler unattended in the bath or eating, no matter how much you need to leave the room.

Tiredness can also be a problem and this is something I can definitely identify with.  Both looking after a young toddler and being pregnant can wear a person out so combining the two can drain you to the point of exhaustion. If your baby or toddler is still waking multiple times a night, this can really be a problem after months of broken sleep with a pregnant body to deal with.

Take advantage of any help you can – if your partner or a family member can watch your child for a couple of hours, use the opportunity to catch up on sleep. Don’t worry about being a perfect parent when you’re dealing with pregnancy fatigue. It’s perfectly acceptable to put your toddler down in front of the tv for half an hour if this will give you some time to doze and recuperate a little and I have done this many times!  For older babies and toddlers, this could be ideal time to start night weaning if they are still waking for milk in the night. Maya is waking just once a night at the moment and going back to sleep quickly, which I can cope with.

Try to get out of the house and have some time to yourself and with your partner which will give you a much needed break and help to keep you sane. I try to meet a friend for lunch once a week or fortnight and an afternoon off from childcare can make all the difference in the world. Even just going out for a 15 minute walk to get some exercise and fresh air is worth it.

Nursing While Pregnant

Maya drinking milk from sippy cup at 10 months

Maya drinking her milk from a sippy cup at 10 months

If you are still nursing your older baby or toddler, this can also be a consideration. As Maya was only 8 months or so when I realized I was pregnant again, she wasn’t anywhere near to being weaned from breastfeeding although she was eating a lot of solid foods. There is no medical reason to stop breastfeeding during pregnancy unless you have a history of miscarriage, pregnancy complications or preterm labor in which case it may be recommended as a precaution – check with your own doctor. Many people do prefer to stop just in case there could be an adverse affect on the pregnancy, because they find their supply has decreased significantly or because it becomes painful.

Personally I was happy to continue nursing Maya despite the belief from my husband’s family that my milk was no good for her now that I’m pregnant – from my research I’ve found that this isn’t true. I have however been reducing feeds over the last few months partly because my doctor advised that my milk supply was likely to decrease and partly because I don’t want to be tandem feeding two children at once.

If you do decide to continue nursing your older child, it would be wise to read up about tandem nursing and extended breastfeeding to decide if it is for you and get some techniques for how to get through the early days when your newborn is nursing every 10 minutes and your toddler wants milk too. There are some good links to helpful advice at Kellymom.

I haven’t found stopping breastfeeding to be too difficult as I have done it so gradually. The main problem was finding an alternative for getting Maya to sleep as she was used to nursing to sleep at night and for naps. She was only feeding twice during the day and then at bedtime and a few times in the night and early morning when I started cutting down – you may find it more difficult if your baby is a more frequent nurser.

I started by cutting out her afternoon feed before her nap and replacing it with a bottle of formula. This was challenging at first as she wasn’t used to drinking formula and spat it out. After a bit of experimentation I got her to drink it cold from her sippy cup but she still wasn’t keen and even now will rarely drink a full cup in one go.  To get her to sleep we took her for a walk in her pushchair instead, which worked well. After a couple of weeks I also cut out the morning feed. This gradual transition meant I had no problems with engorgement or feeling uncomfortable after cutting out the feeds.

The night feeds were more of a challenge. I decided to start by trying to night wean based on Dr Jay Gordon’s gentle night weaning method for co-sleeping  Maya is a fairly independent sleeper anyway, although we co-sleep and does generally not like being picked up when she wakes in the night. I’ve had varied success with shushing her back to sleep instead of nursing her but she’s gradually down to just one feed now that she’s one year old which I’m hoping to cut out entirely within the next month.

Surprisingly her bedtime feed was easier to switch when at about 11 months she suddenly decided she wanted a night time bottle. She will now happily guzzle down a bottle and go to sleep in the evening without much intervention from me.

It is important to make sure you have good nutrition in pregnancy and this is doubly important when nursing while pregnant. Remember that your body is burning up more energy both to make milk and to grow a baby so you will need to eat more. I found I was so hungry the last month or so that I was eating three breakfasts every day! As well as getting enough calories, try to get the right balance of nutrients by eating fresh healthy food – cooking healthy meals that you can share with your toddler will help a lot. Although it’s very easy to skip meals and live off quick snacks and junk food when you’re running after a toddler, this isn’t advisable when you’re pregnant.  If you’re finding it difficult to find the time to cook or eat proper meals, try making smoothies with fresh fruit and yogurt and keeping some healthy pre-prepared snacks in the fridge. Choosing one day a week to cook meals that can be frozen for the week ahead can be a lifesaver for many busy parents. It can also be a good idea to take a good pregnancy multivitamin just to make sure you’re not running short of any essential vitamins.

After surviving the pregnancy, there is of course the new baby part to get through next! Read part 2 for a guide to preparing your toddler for the new arrival and getting through the first few weeks with a toddler and newborn.