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Baby Play Spaces

Baby Essentials Checklist - Play Spaces

Play spaces are an important part of the nursery set up.  They are developmental areas for baby, and they also help mum have free hands every now and again.   Arrange play time as part of your daily routine and have multiple play areas with different toys.

Play areas should be flexible - to change with bubs as they grow and develop.  

Here are just some essential items for your baby play spaces.

  1. Musical Pillow Pals Range;

  2. Well Organised Play Space With Different Areas For Different Activities;

  3. Nuna Leaf Bouncer;

  4. Tiny Love Pram Toy Jittering Jay;

  5. Wooden Baby Gym Frog Toni;

  6. Nook Lilypad Playmat

Baby Essentials Checklist - Play spaces

Baby Nursery Ideas - Creating points of interest

Create different spaces in the baby’s nursery which will work as baby grows. For example, a room can have a reading nook, play space, little discoveries throughout for when she grows as well as the functional feeding/calm space, sleeping and dressing area.  

It sounds like a lot but is manageable in even the smallest of rooms.  

Keep eating and sleeping spaces consistent with limited distractions (for as long as you can) which will help add calm, comfort and focus for bubs. 

Make sure that around the room, there are little point of interest that will keep bubs enjoying her room and always making new discoveries.  Keep in mind that spaces should work for you to spend time with her as a baby and then for her to be able to enjoy on her own once she is older.

Little discoveries in a room can be as simple as using wall stickers of animals and shapes etc.. at various heights in the room for baby to find.  Remember is doesn't have to be complicated.  Just try and imagine how fun it is to discover hidden treasures. Try having a crawl around on the floor yourself.  And also think about things hanging on the walls. 

Reading nook

hint: IKEA spice racks secured to the wall for little book nooks.

Play Space

Little discoveries

Hint: Etsy is amazing for these kinds of cute finds.

Sleeping

 

Feeding

Images sourced from Pinterest

Keeping kids busy and learning

A while ago I wrote a post about my daughter and my concerns about the volume of toys and gifts she receives constantly.  Since I wrote that post - or since I became acutely aware of my own behaviour - I have stopped buying.  I also held back a lot of presents from her birthday and Christmas, and once in a while ie every couple of months, I will swap out her old toys that are not used for one from the garage.  

Her volume of available toys has decreased considerably and she doesn't care. I have also made a point of finding new ways to use old toys. Frankly, she prefers rummaging through the drawers, banging pot lids together and chasing the dog.  Oh, and the other things is the treasure box - which is some of my old "jewellery" that she puts from one container to the other or wears.  Bangles and hair ties are her favourite.  Hours of fun.  (if you think I'm kidding, I'm not.  Hours.)  And, those ELC toys that I keep raving on about, that she has had since she was a baby baby - still loves them.  They play music. Simple.

baby play

She also found a little fairy in the garden.  It's one of those things you stick on pots for decoration.  God knows what possessed me to buy a fairy, but whatever it was, she now goes out there every morning and evening to say hello and bye bye to the fairy.

I'be taken 3 paragraphs to say - keeping it simple has made so much more sense. These simple new things she seems to be enjoying more, taking so much pleasure from and really looking forward to.  The peripherals keep her interested for 10/15 minutes. But that's ok too.

I came across an article - 11 Tips for Instilling True Gratitude in Your Kids - which I thought was great and worth a read.  Some of the tips stood out for me, and we have found work really well in our home, and I hope that you find it interesting too.  

  • Have the kids pitch in when they want something.
  • Set a good example by saying "thank you" sincerely and often
  • Resist the urge to shower them with too much "stuff."
  • Encourage them to give back.

If you have any you'r like to share, please do...

Baby Bathtime

When you have a baby that doesn't mind a bath,  it is gold.  It is such a special time.  

Boon

In all honesty I was frightened of washing my little girl when she was a newborn. She was just so fragile.  I was convinced that I was going to break her. But, like the midwife told me, they are pretty resilient.  And as time went on baby bathtime became one of my favourite things to do with her.  One of our favourite things to do.

There are so many different options for baths these days, you can choose whatever suits your space - there is the traditional white tub, the fold away, the in sink, the bucket variety, the blow up.  I mean they have one for every situation, regardless of space.  And it you have a bath you can put them onto a seat or simply hold them if it's comfortable for you.  There are also stands to place the baths onto if you have the floor space, or fold away varieties if you don't.  

Baby bathtime equipment

Be realistic about the space you have and the existing set up.  Test what will be the most comfortable for you - use a clothes hamper or bucket to physically move it around. As long as baby is warm and safe there are no other rules. (Well, you back is important as well, so consider your own physical well being!)

Consider where you want to bathe the baby i.e. in which room and then decided on the set up.  Some people choose to bathe in the bedroom and keep the baby in the one temperature and in the same place; others are on the dining room table, and others in the bathroom. No rules.

Based on the above decision, the rest will fall into place:

  • the type of bath you need
  • which seat fits the bath you get
  • which stand fits the bath your get (if required)

As time goes on you will be tempted to get the bath seat which locks a seated baby into place, which we do not see as a necessity.  Once baby can sit don't lock them it - it's part of the joy of the bath.

Our rule - keep it simple. As baby gets older they will want more things in the bath but at the beginning it will be pretty basic.

In the bath we prefer organic products - you don't need a lot and it lasts for ages so invest in something good. We have a few posts on skincare and babycare that you can check out for more product specific information.

  • baby bath and/or lavender oil
  • baby wash and shampoo
  • organic sponge or  face washer

The face washer is a must.  When baby first arrives, it may feel strange in the bath and may not like it.  Aside from remaining very calm and enjoying the experience yourself, you can put a warm face washer on the baby's tummy during the bath so that he is covered. He will feel comfort and warmth and hopefully enjoy the experience.  Personally, I did this for at least for the 3 or 4 months.   

The other must is a hooded towel. It makes it so easy to get bubs rugged up after the bath.  If you are handy with a sewing machine there are lots of tutorials on Pinterest or you could simply buy one.  Whichever option go for a larger towel.  They grow quickly and if you buy a good one you want it to last a while.

As baby gets older you will want to introduce toys - don't go for anything with holes in the bottom that can develop fungus. (Or if you do, replace it often). And go for non-toxic toys such as Boon.  It's worth the extra penny. They last for a long time.  And they look great.  Their bath toy holders are very cute.

 

Baby bathtime safety first

  • NEVER leave baby unattended in a bath
  • Don’t leave water in buckets or baths 
  • Use a nonslip mat in the bath and around the bath
  • NEVER poor water into a bath while baby is inside
  • Always make sure the bath is on a stable surface
  • Make sure you have everything in arms reach – bathing products and towels primarily

Keep an eye out for... great weather for a picnic

Play is obviously a very important part of parenthood.  The Nursery Bird believe in it so much that we have a dedicated program of development through play.  Now in spring and very soon summer (YAY!!!) it's important to make time to head outside with bubs. Walking is important, heading out to the pool or beach is great, and getting to the local or national park for picnic is also great fun.  Fresh air, good company, good food is all part of the experience.     

I love the idea of picnics.  I always have.  I just can't seem to get my picnic mojo.  So, when I saw this on The Children's Department I squealed.  It is a great guide to getting out and getting your picnic on.  Now if it would just stop raining, we could actually get out there. 

Here are some additional tips to help you have a great day out: 

  • Make sure that bubs is adequately covered from the sun -  a hat, long sleeves top and cover for the legs.  And if you venture out in Spring, bring a cardi! Here are some beautiful looks from purebaby

 

  • if you are tempted to get some vitamin d on bubs make sure that you have sunscreen on - baby's skin is very very sensitive and you need to make sure that his skin doesn't get burnt.  Try Wotnot - great for the whole family.  Make sure that you are careful when putting new creams on baby - test on  small patch for allergic reactions. 

 

Read: How to throw a perfect picnic.

 

Tips & bits... First Birthday Party Planning

I am not a natural entertainer.  Never have been.  You know, there are some people who just throw a catch up together like it was hanging the washing – nothing to it.  That’s not me.  And I normally stress.  A lot. Like really a lot.  I don’t sleep the night before, I am almost in tears about this not working, that not working…  You know the type.  They make sitcoms about neurotic types like me.

So it was my baby’s first birthday. I hosted at home.  And for the first time in my life I felt really comfortable – with the organisation bit.  I was still stressed on the day, hoping that everyone would have a good time.  I think I found a method to make it relatively stress free, fun for the kids and adults, and hopefully memorable.  So I thought I’d share ‘the plan’ with you, and maybe it might work for you too.

1.      My first bit of advice is - focus on what you’re good at!  The mistake I always make is that I want to believe that I can be Martha Stewart. I want to believe that I too can bake beautiful cakes with perfect icing and texture. I can’t. Get over it.  If it means a lot to you, practice when you don’t have 50 people coming over.

2.      Choose a theme – it makes it much easier to build around.  It does not have to be difficult – it can be something as easy as a colour or a cartoon character.  But then you can invite and decorate accordingly.

3.      How many are going to be there and where are you going to have it?  Both are linked – especially if like me your place is on the smaller side. Don’t rely on the weather – you have to work on the principle that your primary space e.g. living area will fit your guests.

4.      Jump online and find a ‘look’ that you like, if you don’t already know.  I had absolutely no idea, so I created a whole mood board.  Trust me, it’s not that I don’t have enough to do in life, I am actually quite busy, but without this inspiration board I would have been lost and confused – and that is a time waster!

first birthday party
vintage sunshine party

5.      The invite can be as elaborate of simple as you desire.  I found an image that I liked on istockphoto and used that to create my own invite.  But obviously you can get some either in shops or online.  I decided to do a ‘save the date’ via mobile a month prior asking people to send their email addresses.  I decided to send email invites.  Easy and quick.

6.      Work out what kind of food you are comfortable having (and when you have your list of invitees, and acceptances you can work out volume). And don’t forget about drink.  Ideally you would prepare some food that can be froze e.g. cocktail sausage rolls; or things that can be made a day before e.g. some sandwiches, dessert balls.  And don’t turn back offers of help.  My mother baked Russian Pirogi and Crepes which were a hit. Honestly I would never had the time to do them on top of everything else I had going on.

7.      Decorating – this is where your mood board can really help, as you will start to get a feel for what you like and don’t like; how much of things you want. And also your theme will also drive this.  Balloons, flowers, table setting, sign, images on walls, and even the take home gifts will link into your overall theme. If you can buy decorations that will last more than one party, for example I bought 2 cake stands form IKEA which are glass which will match any party theme.  After the party I flat-packed them back into the box and into a “party bag;” the main table cloth was white on top of which I added a colourful runner to work with my theme which means the tablecloth is going to go beyond one use; would you believe it was cheaper to buy glass champagne flutes from IKEA than plastic versions, I kept the boxes and they are stored in the garage;  the happy birthday sign is colourful and very beautiful and easy to put up and down with 3M double sided removable tape.

8.      Entertainment – there needs to be something for everyone; a few drinks for the adults, good nibbles; and for the kids you need to have different things to cater for different ages.  For example, for my 1y.o and under I had a playmat set up with different toys, plus also for younger ones a portacot with toys.  For the 2/3/4/5 yo I had a bench set up as a colouring station with crayons, texters,  pencils and colouring in books.  For everyone there were poppers and my main attraction – bubbles.  I mean who doesn’t love bubbles.  The day was warm and adults and children were outside blowing bubbles.  If I had a bigger area and bigger kids at the party I would have set up the xbox.

9.      Take home gift – I think I enjoyed this part the most!! I loved giving everyone something to take home.   In keeping with my theme, I gave everyone a bag of goodies which did vary depending on the guest but basically there was a selection of a yellow rubber ducky, chupa chups, bubbles, Ferrero Rocher, lollies and a balloon or two. I varied pressies but adult / child.

10.  Know your suppliers – you may be surprised at what you get where.  I love to research and know what is available.  I was surprised to find out that almost everything I needed I could get from IKEA.  But the other places that I ended up sourcing things from were My Messy Room and Partycycles.  I also got the colouring in books and texters etc from a discount shop close to my home.  Some other great sources – Sweet Style, The Party Palour, The party people, Pink Frosting, Karas Party Ideas, The Tomkat StudioEtsy has great shops including Love the Day, Party Embellishments, One Inspired Party, So Sweet Party Shop.

11.  Make and do as much as you can in advance – don’t wait until the day.  The night before, hang up your decorations, move your furniture around, rinse your plates/forks/spoons/cups/glasses etc (not if you are using paper plates); put your goody bags together, set the table with non-perishables and tableware.

This is such a personal event.  It is so special. And you should create it exactly how you want it. I hope the above helps in a small way.

Keep an eye out for... secrets of happy kids

Found a great article, written by a child psychologist about what makes a happy child.  Easy advice to follow, and fairly reasonable I would say.   

In short - good routine, healthy independence, respect and your heart. Not so much different from what us adults need... 

1. They eat on time.

2. They get consistent sleep.

3. They play without instructions.

4. They are allowed to express emotions.

5. They get to make choices.

6. They feel heard.

7. They experience unconditional love.

 Check out the article here.

Playing favourites -ELC musical toy

I have spent a lot of money on various toys.  And I have been given lots of toys.  Teddies have largely been a waste of money for her age, but I am still deciding whether I bought them for me or her!!  For the most part the toys that I have bought with purpose and for specific developmental reasons have actually been worth every penny.  There is one though, that I have to say has been amazing.  I bought it from ELC Australia which has unfortunately been closed down in Australia.  (ELC toys can though still be bought through Amazon although I have not seen this particular toy there.)

I gave this to my little girl when she was 3 months old –she is 9 months now and every day for hours she still plays with it.  Nothing holds her attention for as long as this toy – she plays for me with joy every day.  She hits to piano keys, loves to roll the rattle beads and pulls the lever which makes the cymbals play.  Every day.

I have to say, the brilliance of this toy is the fact that whilst it only has a few functions, every time she touches it, some different sound comes out.  She can spin and hit it, and make great noises which keep her entertained. 

I have found toys that have music but that keep repeating the same thing over and over, lose their shine pretty quickly (for baby and parents).  But I guess that’s not a huge surprise – we all like a bit of diversity (especially from the safety of what we know).

   

Keep an eye out for... Wooden toys

Everywhere I turn, there seems to be wooden toys!  It’s great. The ‘new age’ of wooden toys have brought some fabulous designs – using natural materials and with plenty of organic, i.e. non-toxic, options available.  As with everything, I think that if you can do part or full organic selection it creates a better environment for your baby.  I have a mixture.  There are some plastic toys that that served us well and that Caitlin has loved and continues to love – for example her ELC toys. And there are toys that are made from good plastics.  Look out for plastic toys without BPA, phthalates and PVC (polyvinyl chloride).  B. Toys makes such toys.  None of their toys contain lead or phthalates and they use eco-friendly, multi-purpose packaging.  

But for today, I wanted to cover some great wooden toys that I have come across.  Just to be clear - just because toys are wooden does not mean they are organic and toxic free.  Wooden toys can be made out of glued woods such as plywood – the glue can be toxic. In addition to that, the finishes on the wood – paints, varnishes and sealers – can be toxic as well.  A tip from ‘The Organic Baby’ book–if it smells bad it is bad. “Trust your nose,” the author recommends.

Smiling Tree Toys that are sold through etsy can make personalised handcrafted, organic wooden toys

     smiling tree toys

  smiling tree toys

Tiny Polkadots in Port Melbourne and Mentone have a great selection of non-toxic wooden and plastic toys. 

Honeybee toys in Malvern also have a selection of organic wooden toys and comforters

Nuno Organic have a selection of wooden and material organic toys for baby and ship to Australia.

little alouette also on etsy have a wooden toy selection which are organic and eco-friendly.

 little alouette  

little alouette 

eco toys have a great selection of wooden and other child-friendly (ie non-toxic) toys.  

 Plan toys have a long heritage of producing wooden toys that are eco-friendly and safe for children.  On their global website you can search by age or by developmental need.