Family Meal Times

By 9/24/2016 , , ,
Before Isla was born, we were always guilty of being sofa eaters. We had a tiny living room and a tiny extra room that barely held a dining table for two, so we'd often eat our dinner chilling out on the sofa in front of the TV.


Even though I did this as an adult, I was bought up different- phones weren't allowed, the television was off and we'd all talk about our day and chat as a family. Of course I was a little terror and would always talk too much and not eat (sorry dad) but it was the family dynamic that made meal times so special and taught me my current table manners.

We decided once Isla was old enough to stay up and eat dinner with us, we would try to instill the same values we held and aim to eat dinner together at the table as often as possible.


Of course, on nights where we are eating something late or Isla is struggling to stay awake we can always pop her in her highchair and let her eat something quick- the HiPP Organic tray meals are a life saver in these situations. The HiPP Organic tray meals are healthy and nourishing with just the right tastes and textures to encourage the progression to family foods and you can find them here (look out for Isla's favourite "Zoo Animals".

Falling asleep, but still able to eat all her HiPP Zoo Animals!

Now Isla is getting bigger, we feel confident feeding her what we eat and all sit at the table together. It's refreshing to focus on each other and make conversation (again, I still talk too much- sorry Jack!) and we hope that by starting these rituals early, Isla will carry them for years to come.

The team over at HiPP Organic has been doing some research into the topic of family meal times and released this information for me to share with you as part of their wean team:

"Research conducted by HiPP Organic, exclusively for the Wean Team, has found that when it comes to family meal times, almost 90% of parents say that eating together as a family is very important. Despite this, only 25% actually manage to sit down and eat dinner together 1-2 times a week. The British roast dinner came out as a firm family favourite (42%). Curry (15%) and pasta dishes (13%) also topped the list as a much loved meal."

This information speaks to me a lot- while I do hold family mealtime as high importance, it is also not always possible for us due to routine and working hours. Plus- who doesn't love tucking into a roast? Isla has always been so great when we head to a family members house and everyone loves seeing her sitting at the table like a proper part of the group and eating the same as them.

What're your thoughts on family meal times, and how does the research above reflect on your own ideals? I'd love to hear your thoughts!


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Bloody Soft Play.

By 9/24/2016 , ,
Once your little ones hit that glorious age of toddling- or if you're especially brave, crawling- you might find yourself tempted into the lovingly named world of "Soft Play".

Softplay- the name itself brings your imagination into overdrive. Picture an idealistic center for you to let your little one run free and exert all that excess energy that has had them up at 3:00am singing you the song of their people and throwing every piece of bedding around their cot.

The truth is far from the dream.

Soft play is a battlefield that the inexperienced parents find themselves running from with children grappling the buggy for safety, nappy bag trailing and dragging (over something sticky) in a wild bid for freedom.

Children and toddlers under the age of 1 will get in for a few meager pounds- lie about their age for as long as you can. Pretend they can't walk. Pretend they are just weeks shy of that first birthday... unless you're willing to shell out an arm and a leg.

Socks.


Socks are a hygiene requirement which is fair enough. But on a rainy day when your toddler is yelling for PLAY and you cant be arsed to drag them around muddy park full of teenagers...your socks will hide.

Your children's socks will be thrown off every 10 seconds on the walk/drive to soft play. Your own socks? The only pair (if you can even find two that match) will undoubtedly leave you hiding your feet in shame, because you know that perfect mum from baby group will see your scatty toes poking out in a bid for freedom and that is just so embarrassing.

If you've made it this far- prepare yourself for throwing your child in to the lions pit. Under fours only in the toddlers section? Forget it. The lockable pen is the perfect area for other mums and dads to throw their sugar intoxicated ten your olds without a passing thought for your just learning to walk little darling.

Playing? Or hiding for her own protection...

Yes I'm that mum. I'm the tutty frowny mum who will shoot daggers at you if you're THAT parent who lets their kids run wild without a passing thought for the littler kids safety.

The coffee is weak, the drinks are full of sugar, everything is covered in snot and dribble stains and the air con never works.


But even after all this, in a few months time you'll forget the nightmare and think how much fun it will be to take your child to the soft play. You've been warned.

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HiPP Organic's NEW Baby Care Range (& GIVEAWAY)

By 9/12/2016 , , , , , ,
I have something super exciting to share with you today...

I've been having to keep my lips sealed about it for weeks now and I'm so pleased to be part of the team testing it- HiPP Organic have developed and produced a whole new range of baby care products!

We've been trying them out for the past week or so and are absolutely in love with them!


The new baby care range is 100% ‘Free-from’ nasties with ultra-sensitive, no tears formulations and includes;

Goodnight Baby Bath

Not only does this product smell gorgeous (sandalwood!) it is the perfect companion for any bed time bathers like my Isla. The soothing smells and soft bubbles make me half tempted to get in myself before bed after a busy day chasing a sticky toddler around.

Foaming Hand Wash

Toddlers are notouriously sticky even when kept in the middle of a clean floor. The hand wash comes in an adorable duck dispenser bottle (with refills available) and is ideal for teaching the afore mentioned mess maker to wash their hands and have a little independance with being clean.

Head to Toe baby Wash

Nothing beats a good head to toe wash when you have a baby who was a baldy like Isla. There wasn't always a need for shampoo and a product that does it all in one will always be one of my mummy favourites for Isla and future babies!

Baby Shampoo

I've said it before and I'll say it again, nothing is better than a soft baby head of hair. Isla's locks are finally growing and this shampoo has been specially designed to ensure it is gentle on both her scalp and hair (and being no tears means no tantrums when we rinse!)

Nothing is better than baby skin and of course, that super soft snuggle after a bath. With sensitive baby skin in mind, HiPP have specifically developed the new bath time range to be free from anything sensitive skin doesn't like; and to minimise the risk of allergies.

As another plus, all of the new bath time items hold the ‘no tears’ stamp so there is less worry about getting it in Isla's eyes as she wiggles and splashes (they sure are slippery when wet, right?)

HiPP Organic’s free from baby care range is available exclusively at selected Tesco stores from 6th September, and you can head to the HiPP UK website for more information on their NEW baby care range now: http://www.hipp.co.uk/products/our-baby-food-and-drinks

GIVEAWAY

For a chance to win a selection of the new HiPP Baby Care range, follow the actions in the widget below, and be sure to use the hashtag #bathtimemoments when tweeting or sharing!

HiPP Organic Baby Care Hamper


I received the range of HiPP Baby Care products as part of their blogging wean team. All photos are my own, as well as opinions.

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An honest guide to changing a toddlers nappy.

By 8/08/2016 , ,
Oh the days when Isla was a sweet tiny baby who simply cooed at me and laid gently on her changing table during nappy changes.

This post is an ode to our brand new carpet, clean hands and happy baby during bum changes.

Times change when your toddler decides they would much rather be free as the day they were born. 

No mummy, a nappy is not necessary anymore.

1. Inform toddler that you think they need that botty changing. Hear a "No" in return as they suddenly realise how desperate they are to play with anything on the opposite side of the room. Escape number one.

2. Ask toddler nicely to come and lie down and collect your supplies.

3. Ask again.

4. TELL them to come and lie down.

5. Wrestle the toddler down to the ground and politely ask them if they'd like to help by holding something.

6. Duck, as that something is thrown right back at you.

7. Unbutton, unfasten and rip their way too complicated to be counted as cute bottoms off of them.

8. Toddler rolls over and stands up- escape number two.

9. Once re-positioned, get that nappy off as quickly as possible while ensuring their hands are occupied- why are they so desperate to grab that poopy nappy from underneath themselves?!

10. Reach for wet wipes. Fumble with awkward stick down lid. Toddler rolls over and attempts to crawl away. Escape number three.

11. Frantically wipe while they wiggle. Forget that gentle pat down you once gave your newborn- your new carpet/changing mat are at stake here!

12. Open Sudocrem pot. Toddler sticks hand in Sudoecrem pot. Sorry carpet. 

(We've made the switch to the Sudeocrem Care & Protect tubes! They're cleaner and easier to use, and offer the same protection as a protective barrier cream.)

13. Attempt to wrestle toddler into a new nappy while they do their best impression of a kangaroo with their legs. Loose straps?! Good enough!

14. Forget the trousers. The trousers are not important anymore. 

15. Toddler will probably choose to poop as soon as they are clean. Repeat step one.

Seriously though, the point of this post is to say that their are a few ways you can keep both your floors and sanity the way they should be- clean and happy!



We recently switched to Asda Little Angles- First Pants. At first I was reluctant, as I thought they were only really suited for toddlers moving into potty training and I didn't think they would hold as much overnight as a normal nappy. 

Since trying them, our nappy dance has greatly improved. Isla can stay standing up (as long as it isn't a huge cleanup) and occupied with a toy or book, and then we simply pull another one up and let her waddle off to whatever she was doing before. They have even held out overnight and we've made a permanent switch to them.

We've also found ourselves saved when changing somewhere challenging- I've been to venues without baby changing facilities and had to lay her on a jacket on the floor, so not clean! Now she can just stand up and we're done in seconds.

For older kids the fun comes in with the cartoon logos (who doesn't love a bit more Peppa Pig in their lives?).

Disclaimer: We received samples of Asda Little Angels: First Pants and Sudeocrem Care & Protect in exchange for this post. We honestly love using them both. All words and opinions are my own, as well as photos. 

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#Summer Moments (& CONTEST WITH HIPP ORGANIC)

By 8/07/2016 , , , ,
Summer is here! At last! Woo!

Although I've still got an umbrella and a raincoat for Isla shoved in the bottom of my changing bag...this is England after all!

Summer being here means lots of trips to the beautiful local park, family BBQs in the sun and one very exciting trip to Wicksteed Park for us this weekend.

It means ice creams, lots of refreshing drinks, flip flops and of course- picnics!

Isla was born in the heatwave last May and with her being a newborn with that super sensitive newborn skin, we didn't spend a lot of time outside in the heat. Then winter hit and that seemed to last forever. Now it's summer again we're loving spending as much time outdoors as we can and she's loving it!

Here are some of our #summermoments so far!

Getting messy with jelly at Nanny & Grandads BBQ!

Refreshing herself after a busy day at Bedford River Festival!

Family picnic at Wicksteed Park! Win the blanket and cooler below!

Looks fun right? Nothing beats an impromptu picnic- and even if there isn't much food your little one will enjoy, you can always grab something in the baby aisle to pop in the bottom of a cooler.

We've been working with HiPP Organic for the better part of the year now, and they know mums and dad are always super busy (so it isn't always easy to get up and outdoors for something like a picnic!) so it’s good to know that HiPP Organic has a wide range of organic-tray meals for little one's aged 12 months plus.

Plus, HiPP work hand in hand with nature, encouraging wildlife onto their farmland to act as natural pest control, allowing their produce to grow as naturally as possible without harmful pesticides. Isla can enjoy nature while ensuring she's doing her bit to look after it.

If you'd like the chance to win some fun summer goodies including a selection from the HiPP Organic range, a picnic blanket and a fab cooler just fill in the form below!

Be sure to use the hashtag #summermoments when sharing photos!

HiPP #Summermoments Giveaway!

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Review: Shrek's Adventure! London

By 7/10/2016 , , ,


I'm 23, I am a mum and on paper I'm definitely supposed to be classed as an adult... and I have to confess- I absolutely love Shrek.

Really?

Really really.

With that confession out there- phew, off my chest- I am sure you can understand how excited I was when the lovely people over at Merlin Entertainments offered me, Jack and Isla the chance to head down to London to experience the attraction for ourselves!

Before I get into the tour itself, I have to commend that staff that man the doors and ticket office. Our first train was cancelled. Now thankfully we had planned for this and with another train we still should have arrived with a good 30 minutes to spare for a cheeky sausage and egg muffin.,, But then we found out all the trains on the exact underground line we needed were being cancelled or delayed due to lack of drivers!

Being stuck underground- sweaty, bored, and annoyed, there was of course no phone signal or wifi. We couldn't call to confirm we'd still be able to get in despite missing our booked time slot. We arrived around 20 minutes late and scampered up to the desk sheepishly, praying we'd be allowed in.

The staff were so polite and understanding and reassured us that we'd get to go in- they allow for this. Now as a parent I know- and you may well know if you have children or dogs or husbands who take extra long to do up their shoes (sorry Jack) that booking in a timed slot for something that needs travelling to is risky. Rest assured that with this type of attraction, at worst they said you would have to wait for a different slot and maybe queue if it is busier.



Once inside, you are immersed in the story straight away. Donkey and Fiona have invited you on a bus ride to Far Far Away! After travelling through the departures section, and having a proper pep talk from the hostess you're whisked in to meet Princess Fiona herself who, with a little karaoke help from the group, gets your magical bus ready and then it's all aboard!

Now obviously, this sort of 4D attraction will involve flashing lights, smells, smoke and water effects- we were apprehensive about how Isla would react as at times she can be quite delicate. The recommended audience is between 6-12 year olds.

She loved it.

I managed to get her to wear the glasses for 70% of the ride and with each splash and crash and burst of air she was giggling and bouncing. We were supposed to be frightened when the witches attempted to hijack our bus but she was waving manically at them, cackling along with them and clapping with glee as more water sprayed our faces.

After the bus ride, you are taken on a walk-through live action story where you are considered just as much a character as the actors and actresses. Think London Dungeons style but perfect for families and children!

There are witches, princesses, forests and mazes- and of course one very smelly toilet owned by the protagonist of our story- Shrek!

They did ask that no-one take photos during the story tour itself, so you'll have to believe me when I say how much effort they put into the costumes and sets! It also means no spoilers- if you want to see it you'll have to head down there yourselves!

At the end of your tour, there is a huge section for you to see other featured Dreamworks characters and take your photos with all your favourites.

 Having a go at some Kung-Fu in the Jade Palace!

Isla stealing Po's noodles! (Kung Fu Panda)

Of course, to sum up- the gift shop. I never knew their was so much amazing merchandise! I've got a few photos to wet your appetites if you or your children are as big a fan as me.





I'll say again that I cannot praise all of the staff in this attraction enough. There are so many little touches that make it the perfect family activity for children of all ages (if they're as brave as my little Isla was!). There is a buggy park where they'll happily store your pram for you free of charge, spotless toilets, and chances for each and every person in the group to get involved and interact with the story.

You should definitely try it out. I'm sure you'll have a Shrek-cellent day!

Disclaimer: We received two tickets for the attraction in exchange for this honest review. All of the photos are my own, and all words and opinions are my own.

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Kidloland Nursery Rhyme App- Review & Giveaway

By 7/08/2016 , ,


There comes a point in every parents life when their child becomes infatuated with singing, dancing and nursery rhymes. Isla has had a "Wheels on the bus" noisy musical nightmare book for the past 4 months and she's really started to master the actions- wipers, crying baby, and bye bye! 

Why can't she master mummy says shush shush shush for once....

Now I'll be honest- we have never been keen on letting Isla play with our phones. There are far too many children glued ot their technology these days and it's painful to see a 4 year old working an iPad with more mastery than Steve Jobs himself.

But then there are the days when mummy really needs to do laundry, or drink tea, or take a shower without a needy bored toddler hanging onto her ankles. We usually resort to cbeebies at these moments- but what if we're out? Or in the car? 

I've been using the Kidloland nursery rhyme app for around 2 weeks now and I really do recommend it to any parent whose child loves songs, actions and cheery music. For the older kiddies it also has ABC and phonic learning sections, numbers, colours... it's educational! 




Almost all the games and songs are interactive with lots of things to press- it's been two weeks and I still don't think I've got the whole way through exploring the app!

Like I said, we've never been keen on phones or TV raising our child but with moderated use I do believe that for a child less interested in practical play and learning, this could boost their knowledge and interest in different topics. They do use tablets and computers a lot more in schools- so if you're going to let your child use technology keep it fun and educational with an app like Kidloland.

Isla has learnt so many sweet actions and now with or without the app, she can "twinkle twinkle" her hands, and when she rows her boat and see's a crocodile she screams!

The Kidloland app can be found at the following stores;

Apple App Store: KidloLand

Google Play Store: Nursery Rhymes For Kids

Amazon Appstore: KidloLand

I do have a giveaway for your lovely readers!

Enter below for a chance of winning one of FIVE 3-month subscriptions to the Kidloland app.




Disclaimer: I received a free subscription to Kidloand in exchange for a review. All photos are my own and all screenshots were taken by myself. All opinions are honest and written by myself. 

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When Your Kid Wont Craft!

By 7/01/2016 , , , , , ,


Pinterest. It's so inspirational! I love looking at the kiddy crafting boards and seeing all the wonderful creations those mini Picasso's have produced..


Play dough footprints, painted hands pressed delicately onto a Christmas Bauble, or a well interpreted splat of paint on paper- "It's a cat I'm sure! My child is a genius!"

It really gets my creative juices flowing, so for fathers day last month, I decided we were going to craft a wonderful present for daddy- something beautiful he could treasure forever!

Now, my little girl Isla... She likes what she likes. Just like any other one year old right? But I figured this would be just the type of messy interactive sensory play (parenting book writers, give me an A+!) suitable for her age and would save me some money gift wise.

I scoured the shops for some non toxic baby friendly paint that wouldn't stain her, or make her vomit on the gift should she choose to eat it. I found a lovely pack of brushes in Poundland that included chunky sponges on sticks for her to dab away and make some lovely cloudy affects. Adorable!

Next, i made the decision to buy a cheap wipe clean mat to go on the floor (we were planning on using the highchair to avoid her crawling off with paint fingers!)- not that i'd need it though, minimal paint on the tray would mean minimal splashing and she is so over throwing things off the highchair at dinner, so this shouldn't be any different? Right?

Finally, I bought a nice wooden photo frame with a heart cut out, perfect for a nice photo of Daddy and Isla.

I'm a bloody amazing parent. Do they do parenting Oscars? Sign her up for the National Gallery.

But what if your kid won't craft.

It all started well. Isla dabbed her sponge in the paint and I gently guided her hand to the frame to show her what to do. 

"Look Isla! So Pretty!" I exclaimed proudly. Enthusiastically. All the books say positive reinforcement is the way to go.

She grinned and blinked those pretty blue eyes up at me. What an angel. Then she dipped her fingers in the paint. This was the sensory part! 

"This activity is going to make her brain  SUPER smart!" I thought as she put her hands delicately on the frame- she'd obviously already got the hang of it!

Then she smeared. She smeared her hands all over the frame in one colour- I grabbed one of her wrists and encouraged her to use all the colours. She smeared more. The idea of tiny fingerprints went out the window, but you can't hold back a creative genius right?

I snapped a quick photo. For proof. 

She picked up the frame. She threw the frame. She threw the brushes. She threw the paper I had laid on her highchair try ease the clean up. 

The high chair is for food. It is where mummy brings food. paint is not food.

Tantrum.

It took me 30 minutes of careful undressing, avoiding new carpets and forcing her to let me wipe her face with the evil-face-wiper flannel in the bath to change her from smurf to baby again.

Snot and tears ran tracks in her new green face mask. The water turned cloudy. I wondered if her ears would be blue forever.

My kid hates crafting. Piss of Pinterest.

All jokes aside, with a lot of guidance from mummy it turned out lovely!

This post was written for comedy purposes, all events are true, no babies or carpets were harmed in the making of this post. 

Have you had any crafting disasters? Let me know!

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Becoming The Toddler: 15 reasons my daughter cried.

By 6/30/2016 , , , , ,


My daughter is 13 months old. Everyone says she is an angel. hahahahaha.

Toddler tantrums shouldn't get here till she's closer to two, right?

Wrong.

15 Reasons my Daughter Cried Recently.

1. She did not want to get undressed.

2. She did not want to get dressed again.

3. Mummy had a turn throwing her bouncy ball.

4. Mummy wouldn't throw the bouncy ball.

5. Daddy wouldn't let her eat the two cookies she stole from the packet.

6. Mummy took the tin foil out of her mouth.

7. Her walker was facing the wrong way and tipped over.

8. Mummy tried to fix the walker for her.

9. We wouldn't let her choke on bread.

10. Daddy had to go in the kitchen.

11. Daddy had to use the toilet alone.

12. Daddy didn't need his shoes untying.

13. Mummy didn't want to read "Foxes Socks" 9 times in a row.

14. She thought mummy had something in her hand and wanted to share the imaginary thing.

15. Mummy wanted to paint in the highchair, but that meant no food was being given in the food-giving chair.

What reasons have your little angels children had for crying recently?

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Nutrition for babies on the move!

By 6/26/2016 , , , , , ,


Ever since the first bottle I gave her, I've found myself wondering...

Is she a baby, or a dustbin?!

Isla literally never stops eating. She would guzzle her bottle till she was sick then cry for more. When it comes to Dairylea sandwiches she will shove and shove until she can't fit more in. Yet she has always stayed exactly on her percentile line!

Now she is getting mobile, she seems to eat more and more like a bottomless bucket for snacks and bananas and (if you stop watching her for 2 minutes) cardboard and carpet lint.

This little monster is literally going to eat us out of house and home, but the point I'm trying to make is when they get to the age where they do more than just flop on the floor like a rag-doll, they need
more and more calories to keep up with their never ending development.

Isla's first step! She's so close to walking now!
A video posted by Stephaniee (@stephblake_xo) on

There's often cries of "But she's had a bigger lunch than me, and I'm a 6ft2 bloke" from Jack as he eats his measly sandwich compared to Isla's continental style buffet tray.. but he's all done growing and learning and she's hitting new milestones every week!

Of course, we can't just stuff her full of snacks and biscuits- it's ridiculously important that we make sure she has a well balanced diet. All the different vitamins and all-round goodness from a well balanced diet ensure she can carry on growing and learning to her full potential. We've all heard that yogurt advert "Calcium makes my bones grow stronger!" and it's so true!

Almost on the go!

Even when we are cooking for her, there are different ways of cooking that we've learnt could destroy the goodness of simple things like vegetables. Boiling them leaches all the vitamins into the water and then that gets drained away so we always do our best to steam them.

Even the way food is grown can affect its goodness. Family beliefs and values embody HiPP Organic, who are instinctively organic and have been for over 60 years. HiPP believe in organic for a better legacy, using farming techniques that leave the soil full of nutrients for the next generation. That means we feel confident in the goodness she gets from those meals if we don't have time to prep our own, or for a quick lunch out and about.

We've also found recently that by rushing around with her walkers, crawling, and all the time she spends outside, Isla is chugging back extra drinks besides her milk bottles in the AM and PM. It's so important to keep little ones hydrated. We had an unfortunate visit to the doctors when Isla had gotten overheated (and refused to drink because of her teeth, not our own doing!) and dehydrated, she was poorly for a few days afterwards. Keep them babies hydrated!

Isla's a huge fan of these HiPP Organic juices with mineral water! Yum!

To learn more about nutrition and keeping your little ones diet balanced, check out this easy to understand guide on the HiPP Organic Website.

This post was written as part of my Wean Team series, in collaboration with HiPP Organic. Be sure to check out the rest of the posts!

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Mummy Guilt

By 6/09/2016 , , ,


It's that feeling that festers, and builds up when you've got way too much time to think (especially when you're avoiding the chores and ever growing pile of laundry for the third day in a row). 

It's that little voice that say "what am I doing so wrong??!" when your one year old has a terrible-twos style tantrum much earlier than the books said they would.

When your baby arches her back and scampers away and impersonates a tiny angry velociraptor because you wanted just five more minutes of loving cuddling bonding time and all she wants is to pick carpet lint off the floor and play with the socks from the previously mentioned laundry pile.

Does my baby hate me?

Am I stimulating her enough?

Am I too strict?

One more biscuit cant hurt if it keeps her happy, right?

Mummy guilt.

I often find myself questioning my skills as a parent and wondering if she will just go and take another nap because I'm rubbish at playing mega-blox and I don't read the penguin book the way daddy does and it's all getting a bit stressful.

A few months ago, I let this mummy guilt, or mummy-questioning get on top of me. I didn't want to play because she didn't laugh for me. She would fight me if I put in the effort to get her out of her sticky pajamas and dress her in an outfit appropriate for being seen in public, I didn't even want to write about parenting here on the blog because who wants to read a post titled "today my child ate a packing peanut and we watched 3 hours of cbeebies".

This post is a PSA to all the mums out there who like me, worry if they're doing a half-assed job and have experienced mummy guilt.

The fact is, no-one is perfect.

If your sticky handed terror wants finds the most entertainment helping you destroy the carefully put away book system, that's okay. If you need to tie them down in their high chair with a too-big packet of crisps and force them to watch the same episode of Peppa Pig that's been playing for 3 hours straight just so you can drink a warm cup of tea- do it.

Don't feel guilty if your child has been wearing odd socks for a week straight because the washing machine eats them or you're just too tired to organize them into pairs in their own designated compartment in the nursery dresser. Be proud for even finding two clean ones!

If bath time is a flooded floor, toys everywhere, baby eating bubbles nightmare hour and you're avoiding it until little one is so dirty they blend in with your new brown rug- that's fine. 

As long as your child is happy, fed, warm and loved then you're doing a great job. 

It took me a long time to realise this, and to stop questioning myself as a mum. I just hope this post helps anyone else feeling the way I did.

Note: She really did eat a packing peanut. well, half of one. She was fine.

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*NEW* HiPP Organic Pouches and Cereals! & WIN!

By 5/26/2016 , , , , ,
Well hello there stranger! I know it's been a loooong while since I managed to post. I'm going to sum it up as "the great laptop incident of 2016 & laptops cost too much to repair...". But here I am, I'm back, I'm online at last! I've missed the internet.

So what better way to come back than with a sneak peak at some awesome new products HiPP Organic are going to be bringing out in June, plus a chance to win if some of your own if you keep reading!

As a mum I've always found mornings can be the most hectic time of day. This is especially apparent since I've gone back to work after my maternity leave this past month. There's getting myself ready, helping Jack find socks, preparing my bag, ironing a shirt, and that's before I've even thought about what Isla needs on waking up! 

When I was staying home with her every day we'd have a nice chill breakfast with a homemade pancake or omelet. I laugh in the faces of people who think this is still possible.




Thankfully, (no really, I'm so grateful!) the lovely people at HiPP have sent us over some of their new breakfast range to try on Isla! Porridge pouches, and for toddlers 15 months+ there are some exciting new cereals- HiPP Organic Fruity O's and Fruity Muesli with crispy ducks. These new cereals from HiPP contain no added sugar (just naturally occurring sugars) and are packed full of organic fruit and multigrains.


We are passing on our cereal boxes to Isla's cousin Albert and her Aunty Lucy is going to be sharing her thoughts on this once he's put them to the test- keep your eyes peeled for that.

The new HiPP Organic porridge pouches are suitable for babies aged 6 months+, and even though Isla over a year old now they're still perfect for her at this later stage of weaning. They come in three different flavours:

o Pear, Apple & Apricot Porridge

o Apple & Peach Porridge

o Fruity Porridge



Isla's tried each of them twice now and I'm feeling Apple and Peach Porridge is a strong contender for favourite. To ensure the best taste for babies (and mums who insist on taste testing everything like me), HiPP select special varieties of fruits & vegetables which are naturally low in acid content & high in nutrients. To ensure optimum flavour they are given time to ripen naturally and harvested at their plumpest & sweetest. 

It explains the tantrum we get when she's finished.

Find out more about the new products from HiPP Organic as well as the rest of the range on their website http://www.hipp.co.uk/products/our-baby-food-and-drinks. They'll be hitting the shelves in Tesco June 1st and Waitrose on the 13th June!

WIN

So would you like to win a hamper of these new goodies from HiPP Organic? If you would then I have a fab giveaway for you. Complete your entries below for a chance to win! The contest is going to run just over three weeks and will be ending on the 18th June. Good luck!


The boring bit: Contest will be ending on the 18/06/2016. Entrants must have a valid UK address. The winner will be randomly selected using the gleam app and be contacted within 48 hours. The prize will be supplied directly from the HiPP Organic Team. Good luck and thank you.

Disclaimer: I was sent a free bundle of breakfast items from Hipp Organic for review as part of their wean team. I have used my own photos and given an honest opinion/reaction to the products.




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Isla's 10 Month Update

By 3/22/2016 , , , , , , , , , ,


Hey everyone! Where has the last month gone? Really! i can't believe we are halfway through march already and its been crazy hectic on my end of things. we have moved into our new house (I kept it quiet in case plans fell through but yeah we are in!). We have been working hard to get everything nice and everyone settled in properly (not easy when builders are still coming in every now and then.)

The great thing about the new property is that we now have carpet yay! not something the normal person would be excited about but Isla has really come in leaps and bounds ever since we moved in.

She is 10 months old now. TEN MONTHS. I cant deal knowing shes not really a baby anymore. Its insane.

She has changed so much both physically and with regards to her abilities and development in the last month. During her 9 month update, I mentioned that she is struggling with crawling and could just do a bit of a belly drag- it was her own clever little way of coping with the fact she had no grip on our wooden floor. She adjusted the way she needed to and worked it out herself.

Now have have our carpets, within 24 hours of moving in she had managed to get up properly on her hands and knees, and stay there, and crawl! 2 weeks later she is crawling at speeds I can barely keep up with- she really keeps me on my toes now!

She has also managed to stand herself up, and sit herself up! she can pull up on pretty much anything (hence lowering the cot at 10pm after an escape attempt...) and she will cruise a little around the sofa. We've had lots of games of ring a ring a rosy to teach her to sit back down on her bottom as I don't much fancy helping her get down from standing every time she gets herself stuck in the middle of the night.

She has grown into a giant big girl baby in front of my eyes. I've had to finally clear out all her 3-6 clothes (at 10 months yeah i know, she has short legs!) because she has shot up and honestly we've actually been struggling to do up 6-9 month vests when dressing her. So she has shot from 3-6 vests to 9-12 in less than 6 weeks.

Isla has 5 teeth now. two more coming. it'll be molars next but they do make her smile look so so grown up! Shes started getting extra cheeky and smiling with her nose all scrunched up as well. Every now and then we get a preview of toddler life, with her throwing a bit of a wobble if I ever do (not often) have to tell her a proper no (e.g. sticking her hands in the hamster cage because honestly for her, he is better than toys or TV.)

Jack said to me a few days ago, that he's finally understanding why I keep saying she isn't really a baby anymore- he see's her more as a clumsy, drunk acting child...

What were your little ones getting up to at 10 months? I'd love to know!

Steph xo


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Weaning- Sweet & Savoury! (CONTEST)

By 3/16/2016 , , , , , , , ,
Hi all! It's another weaning post and this time I want to talk to you all about the types of food we have been giving Isla, and the importance of ensuring your little one gets a proper variety when you wean them!

I'll admit straight up that I have a sweet tooth, and I'm sure I've passed that trait down to Isla. 

The face of a true biscuit lover!

When she was first weaned, we weren't the most informed and we made a lot of it up as we went along. Isla ate a lot of porridge, baby rice, and pureed fruit. 

Isla's first time eating blueberries!

Without thinking, we were giving Isla a lot of sweet and sugary foods (even though they were healthy mind you) and when it came to meeting HiPP Organics weaning specialist, Helen, she told us that we need to ensure we gave Isla a mix of both sweet and savoury or she would be more likely to favour sweet food as an older child (and we really didn't want a fussy eater!).

On this advice, over the past few months we have been doing every we can to broaden Isla's range of flavours and ensure she has a proper mix of things- not too much sugar.

The great thing is, we get the majority of our meals for her from HiPP and at HiPP Organic, they only add sugars to recipes that you would add sugar to if you were preparing the recipes yourself (such as custard), and they control the amount of sugar in all their baby foods very carefully as it’s important savoury foods do not contain hidden sugars from fruit.

The Moment We Tried.....




You can really see just from these three tastes that she has a preference for sweeter foods, but I'm pleased to say that despite her first reactions she always tends to get used to the savoury tastes after a couple of bites and polishes it off!

Try not to just stick to foods you know your little one likes. Instead, keep offering a variety of foods. It's normal for your baby to be wary of new foods, so be ready to offer something new as many as ten times before they accept it. Persevering now will help them develop into more adventurous eaters as they get older.

The moment we tried lemon! Ha!

I do give Isla a much wider range of home made foods as well. I've definitely got more confident in feeding her things I make from scratch and trusting her with feeding herself. She loves an omelet for breakfast and dairylea is a big favourite for her sandwich at lunch! Usually, dinner is a savoury jar from HiPP with some steamed vege's on the side.

I feel really confident knowing the prepared meals from HiPP are just as healthy as something I make at home. The fruits & vegetables used in HiPP Organic (pouches/jars) are grown on dedicated organic farms, where they are left to ripen naturally and harvested at their plumpest & sweetest. These organic ingredients are then gently steam cooked to protect the nutrients and keep every ounce of flavour to provide babies with the best possible start to weaning and beyond.

WIN!

Are you weaning your little one at the moment or looking to wean in the near future? With the help of HiPP I am offering you the chance to win a Sweet and Savoury food bundle for your little one!

To enter, use the widget below and complete the requested actions! As one of your contest entries, we'd love it if you would share a photo of your little one and the first time they tried a new flavour, tagging myself on Twitter @stephblake_xo and HiPP @HIPPorganic using the hashtag #themomentwetried. Once you've made your tweet, fill in the relevant section on the widget below and it will count towards your entries!



Good luck, and thanks for reading!






”U



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#MilkMoments & The Next Stages of Weaning

By 3/03/2016 , , , , , , , , , ,


Phew it's been a while! We've just moved house and it's been absolute chaos as builders are still doing some work in our living room. We're happily hiding out upstairs and adjusting as best we can (even easier now my internet has finally been connected!).

As you know, we are members of HiPP Organics own Wean Team and we've been weaning Isla since she was around 4 months old. Now, at 9 months old, Isla has progressed immensely and she's taken to solid foods as easily as breathing.

We originally had her on simple purees and jars of soft food, with the occasional soft squishy finger food thrown in like spaghetti or fruit. Isla had a lot of trouble chewing and would gag a lot (no choking thankfully, touch wood) so it was harder to move onto bigger finger foods. We started using the 7 month stage foods that have tiny lumps around 6 weeks ago and I feel Isla was a lot happier on them and fuller.

This new found fullness meant we really cut down on the amount of milk she was drinking. At the start of weaning and pretty much since day one Isla was really erratic with her bottles (she has always been formula fed) and would constantly be drinking, but we've finally got it cut down to three seven oz. bottles a day, one with each meal.

Of course, every baby is different and some babies may want or need more or less, but it feels so much more manageable knowing exactly how much I am going to need and when, especially when packing the changing bag for a trip out. She has also learnt how to hold a sippy beaker herself and we have moved off of the standard baby bottle completely. When did my little baby get so independent?

We switched Isla's milk several times once she was weaning as we just couldn't find something that would fill her up, and now she is having less of it I wanted to make sure she was still getting the nutrients from milk to back up what she now gets from food.



We've been using HiPP's follow on milk lately and she has taken to it so well. It comes in a storage box (with scoop holder and leveler) and each box holds two silver resealable pouches to increase its longevity. You can also purchase a reusable plastic container to hold it all together which I've found really easy to use (and doesn't the nice white tub look so good in my new kitchen?).

"HiPP Organic Follow-on-Milk includes the essential ingredients your baby needs including iron for cognitive development, vitamins A, C and D for the immune system and PRÆBIOTIK®".

Of course, not everyone will want to switch from stage one formula to stage two, and I do my best to ensure she gets what she needs from her food but it is reassuring to know she has the extra boost from her milk every day.

HiPPs weaning expert Helen has this to say about follow on milk:

"Follow on milks are designed to complement the weaning diet while your baby is getting used to a variety of different tastes and textures. They are higher in iron and vitamin D than standard infant formulas which can really be a help if baby is not eating many iron-containing foods and is therefore at greater risk of iron deficiency, and to help protect baby against becoming vitamin D deficient."

Weaning really is a crazy, fun and potentially messy journey. Over the last few weeks Isla has come in leaps and bounds and is eating more and more what I like to call human food (because baby food isn't human in my head?!). She'll happily chomp on cut up sandwiches, pasta, biscuits, fruit- you name it. Other than pureed carrots she hasn't turned her nose up at a single thing we've tried. Lets just hope she stays that way!

How did you get on when you weaned? Or if you haven't yet, what're you most looking forward to?

Thanks for reading!

Steph xo

MILKS DISCLAIMER:

The Department of Health recommends that you breastfeed your baby exclusively for the first six months of their life; at around six months you can start to wean them on to solids and start to combine breastfeeding with bottle feeding. HiPP Organic understands that all babies are different and some mums might want to transfer to bottle feeding earlier than others. HiPP Organic would always advise that you speak to your midwife or health visitor before changing your feeding method. For more information on milks, please visit the HiPP Organic Website http://www.hipp.co.uk/milks-important-notice

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Isla's 9 Month Update

By 2/18/2016 , , , , , , , , , , ,


9 Months old! I can't believe my baby girl is three quarters of a year old. It's gotten to the point where I'm struggling to refer to her as a baby as she has become such a proper little person.

Isla is such a friendly, happy little girl and her personality has been really shining over the past month- she is so grown up.

Physically, she's finally mobile! For a few months she would just roll happily to wherever she wanted to go, and eventaully she developed a little shuffle crawl (imagine a miniuature mission impossible slide across the wooden floors). Now, over the past week she's mastered getting up on her hands and knees and is getting better a crawling properly by the minute.

She can hold herself up if we prop her up aginst the sofa or some other piece of furntire but she hasn't quite mastered staying up there for long or getting herself down without falling. She will try to take some steps if she's held up but her balance isn;t there yet. A few months and I'm sure she'll be cruising along the sofa.

She's a real perfoming monkey now and can clap, loves playing peekaboo and she LOVES dancing along to her musical toys or when we sing with her. Recently, she also picked up waving goodbye and hello which is a great party trick when we have guests (or when she waves at videos or people on the TV...hilarious!).

Another new trick has become her favourite game; she loves passing toys and other objects back and forth with someone and saying "ta" to each other. So polite for a baby and handy when she's got her mitts on something she shouldn't have.

They say a baby will either be an early walker or an early talker and she is defintely shooting towards the latter. When she is upset or demanding a bottom change or bottle she likes to yell for me; "Mama!" When daddy comes home we get what is sounding more and more like "Hiya!" or "Dada!" and when we sing she likes to wave her head back and forth and yell "LaaLaaLaa!".

Just before she turned 9 months, we had what we can count officially as a first word as well. She has a favourite little duck toy and thanks to Jacks influence we now have a baby who will yell "quack" at the duck and say it all day long quite happily.

Our weaning journey is progression fantastically; she finally has more than two teeth, the third one just popped in and the fourth is about to go as well so she is chewing food much better meaning she has been able to move on from just puree's and mild lumps to baby biscuits, omelet, toast and sandwich chunks (with supervision of course.) As we are members of HiPP Organics Wean Team there will be a lot more updates on her weaning coming soon.

The days of bottle feeding her are over- we have moved onto a handled sippy bottle/beaker and she is very insistent on doing it herself. It is impressive and I'm very proud but it is also bittersweet as I miss the days of snuggling her in my arms and feeding her.

She really is growing up so fast. I miss my tiny baby but it's amazing to see how much she grows from day to day. We will be having her 9 month doctors check up soon to see how she is progressing and if there are any areas we can work on- I'll be sure to update you!

What were your little ones doing at 9 months? Do you have any advice on how I can stop my mobile monkey getting into everything, or any advice for learning games or activites?

Let me know!

Thanks for reading;

Love,
Steph xo

Mummascribbles

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Blogs First Birthday!

By 2/11/2016 , , ,


I just had to make this post to say happy first birthday to my little corner of the internet!

I didn't even realise it had been a year until a few days ago. This time a year ago I was struggling with themes, rattling out a few posts and trying to understand how Twitter bloody works.

I'm so proud of my little blog. It doesn't have the biggest following but I've made some good friends, worked with some wonderful companies and definitely improved my writing skills!

I can't wait to see what the next year brings!

Thank you for sticking with me, despite my numerous breaks and naff assortment of interests.

Love,

Steph xo

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A controversial opinion on sex after a baby.

By 2/07/2016 , , , , ,


A few nights ago Jack showed me an article that was being shared around by some mums he knew on Facebook, calling out their husbands for expecting sex now they had a baby or child in the house.

My opinion in this post may come off as preachy, you may not agree with it and I may lose a hell of a lot of readership but I've seen this type of post so many times since falling pregnant and I rarely (if ever) see anyone sharing the other side. If you don't like what I write and I lose you as a reader, I guess that's fine.

I'm not going to the the person who doesn't write her opinion because she is scared of what someone else will think of her.

According to this writer who I will not name because I don't want to call anyone out directly, her husband was completely out of line and disgusting and demanding for expecting sex after their baby was born.

She wasn't talking about the weeks after or even the months, she was talking about at all. In the first 6 weeks after Isla was born, I did not want to be touched at all and due to the healing process and the demands of a new born, that was completely fair enough. Jack accepted that.

Some women are so traumatized by birth and have scars and healing that can take up to a year to pass- and that is fine.

however the attitude that husbands and partners should be ashamed and called out for thinking about being intimate or wanting to kiss and cuddle or more makes me so angry.

Women are describing their partners as making them sick for wanting to cuddle at the end of the day, and describe their advances in an almost animilistic manner.

Sex is not a one sided decision.

If your partner wants to be intimate and you are not in the mood, I don't believe you should just grin and bear it but their is such a thing as communication and it is only fair that you explain how you are feeling and discuss it as adults- the fact you have made a decision to bring a new life into the world makes me think you are mature enough to talk about sex.

The fact that I can go days without getting changed out of my comfy pajamas, showering, brushing my teeth or really doing anything more than cuddling Isla when she is poorly and Jack still comes home and wants a cuddle and a kiss is a blessing in my opinion.

I'm grateful that despite seeing my downstairs go through hell and back and seeing me pee myself and all the other gory details, Jack finds me attractive enough to want to even sleep next to me!

This whole concept of "not owing them sex!!!" is true of course, no-one should owe that type of thing to anyone else but as I said above, it is not a one sided decision and the way it is being approached online by so many women is ridiculous.

These women are making their husbands sound like they are assaulting the very air they breathe by even suggesting simple intimacy like cuddling on the sofa after what could've been a hard day for both sides.

I felt like my body wasn't my own for a long time after having Isla, and yes that put me off being intimate. I felt like I couldn't accept the new "physical me". The only thing that helped that was accepting that Jack still loved the new physical me and wanted to be with me.

Your husband or partner want to be with you because they love you, and they find you attractive- and probably even more attractive as you are the strong wonderful woman who bought their child into the world! Stop making dads sound like sex crazy perverts, and stop treating sex like a privilege that is one sided.

A relationship is a team effort- like I said, I agree you do not owe anyone anything but stop acting like your men are animals and shaming them for wanting some intimacy on the internet and just talk to them about it like an adult.

Thanks for reading,

Steph xo


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Mattress Protector by The Little Green Sheep (Review)

By 1/29/2016 , , ,

A few weeks ago, we experienced our first middle of the night bath. What's a middle of the night bath? Ha! Seriously though, if you don't know what it is, and you're a parent, then you are either really lucky or just as ignorant to the possibility that one sleeping angel could make such a huge mess in their sleep.

Isla was sleeping peacefully and as I stroked her head goodnight on my way up to bed myself, I felt something sticky and smelt that smell that no-one wants to smell. She'd thrown up everywhere. Not just a wet wipe job, a full blown SURPRISE!!! IT'S BATH TIME!!!

It was completely perfect timing that after this, I was sent this Organic Cotton Mattress Protector by the Little Sheep Company.

First off, I have to say this is the best packaged bedding accessory I have ever seen!


 On opening, I literally couldn't believe how soft the protector itself was. I know from pregnancy that mattress protectors are normally crinkly and uncomfortable (hence why I didn't have it on the bed the night my waters broke, ha.) so I've never bothered getting one despite Isla sleeping on her dribbly face and getting her nice expensive mattress moist every night.

On top of how it feels, it's made of pure organically grown cotton- perfect for soft baby skin. On top of that, there is no bleach used so the colour itself is all natural as well. 



It's designed to prevent dust mites and be breathable, which in our case is great as Isla has had some horrible chesty coughs and needed an inhaler- so anything to stop her night wheeze or aid it is a household win!

A perfect fit with breathable edges to let air underneath!

I've been keeping an eye on the mattress itself; normally there's a slight damp patch where Isla dribbles (she's teething again!) and as of yet the protector has held it's own and been 100% absorbent!

Fingers crossed that if in future we do have any more surprise midnight bath parties, the mattress will be nice and dry and unstained thanks to our new mattress protector. (I've just flipped it over for the last incident...at least this side will be clean now!)

If you're interested, you can find all different sizes to suit any baby bed/cot here. They also have a whole range of other sleep accessories.

This product won Best Sleep Product for 2016 in the Mother & Baby awards so you know it's worth it!

Have you had to do the midnight bath? Have you tried any Little Green Sheep products? Leave a comment and let me know!

Steph xo

I was sent this item free of charge in exchange for an honest review. All words and images are my own. All opinions are honest and my own. Thanks Little Green Sheep!


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Returning to Work?

By 1/21/2016 , , ,


Over the past month or so I have been furiously avoiding the fact that my maternity leave is coming to and end (well, the paid part!) and that it really is unrealistic that I will be a stay at home mum and still have money.

I've put off discussing it with my current employers because I had such a rough time with them during pregnancy and the staff turnover is so rapid that I wouldn't know anyway, or fit in my uniform (RIP size 10 trousers...) or get paid what I need to stay part time.

I have gained a new found respect for working mums and dads.

No part of me wants to leave Isla after eight wonderful months at home avoiding chores and playing and watching Disney films and snacking and staying in our pajamas. No part of me wants her to perform a new trick in front of someone else instead of me or Jack.

Jack himself only had two weeks of paternity leave and now the concept of me being away from our little bear all day has made me realise how hard and unfair it must have been for him and other primary breadwinners to walk away each day and miss things.

This isn't me saying it's not just as hard to be a stay at home parent either. I've been trying to do it for eight months now but honestly I've been rubbish. See: "What have you been doing all day?!"

So I've finally started throwing out my CV and dusting off my interview outfits and braving the streets to try and find that ideal part time job that'll pay me enough to help with the bills and still frivol some away on makeup and coffee and things for Isla...

The job market these days is so demanding and it seems like there's more people than positions and everyone is more available or experienced than me, but I know something will come up.

I just don't know how to face it and the whole topic makes me miserable. A moany post this wintery morning but one I hope people will empathize with and advise on.

I'd love if any ladies who have, like me, had to face going back to work could give me some words of advice or some positive hope that it'll all work out in the end.

Steph xo


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Isla's Weaning & The Wean Team

By 1/01/2016 , , , , , , , ,


Happy New Year everyone! I really do hope 2016 is starting off well for you and you let go of 2015 in style; I spent the end of 2015 fast asleep in my bed and wishing the fireworks would stop after a super exhausting day in London (miserable I know but my bed is my best friend...).

It's been a chaotic December and I really have been meaning to write about Isla and her weaning for such a long time, but today is probably the first day without plans since the start of December so I'm putting my feet up and catching up with everything and everyone on this little corner of the internet.

Now, looking at Isla you would not even begin to understand how much she loves and needs her food. Isla was always an exceptionally hungry newborn, and where the health visitor would tell me she should always leave something in her bottle showing she is full? She would chug no matter what amount we tried until she was sick and cry for more. My milk monkey would eat until the sun came up if we let her- it was ridiculous! It was because of this that we chose to wean her onto simple solid foods early at around 17 weeks and she has never been happier since that day.

So as Isla is such a food fan and as so far I've been making it all up as I go, I am so thrilled and excited to have been selected to join HiPP Organic on an exclusive twelve month weaning program for bloggers- the Wean Team!

Isla is so excited to get stuck in!

HiPP is a family run company created originally by Joseph HiPP- he created the rusk when his own wife was having trouble nursing their twins- and to this day they have over 150 different products in the UK (Isla is smacking her lips at the thought of 150 different jars, cereals, pouches and more...).

Just an example of HiPPs huge product range!

I'll be keeping you updated over the next year as Isla progresses from simple finger foods and purees onto more solids and beyond, letting you know about fantastic HiPP products and more.

Some photos from our weaning journey so far;



Do you have any tips or stories from weaning? I'd love to hear them!
Steph xo

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