Little Poppet's 10 Toys -- 4 to 7 months old

Little Poppet is limited to just 10 toys, in an effort to simplify our lives, and encourage her to use her imagination.  So here they are! 

1. Handmade mushroom rattles and DIY egg rattles.  Anything she can shake and chew is a big hit with a curious teething 6 month old. These mushroom rattles were modelled after some I saw by the company Dandelion.  I had a friend crochet them for me ('cause I have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to crochet).

2. Evenflo exersaucer.  I shied away from these plastic eyesores for a long time, until I recognized how desperate Little Poppet was for independent play.  When she was between 4 and 5 months old, she wasn't quite ready to sit on her own and play.  I had to hold her in a sitting position and let her play with what was in front of her.  But she would get frustrated easily, and wanted to sit on her own.  I finally decided to look on Kijiji (Canada's version of Craigslist) and found the simplest looking exersaucer I could find for $10.  I took the whole thing apart, threw it in the bathtub and washed it all down with dish detergent.  I took the fabric pieces off and washed them on hot in the washing machine.  I can't stress enough how important independent play was for developing her self confidence. 

3. Brio bell shaker.  Little Poppet thinks this is the greatest rattle known to mankind.  It was given to us as a gift, and I originally just had it on the shelf in her closet nursery for decoration, but at 6 months old she began playing with it daily.  

4. LEKA stacking rings from Ikea.   This is Little Poppet's absolute favourite toy.  She can't yet figure out how to put the rings back on the post, but she takes them with her wherever she goes.  I think the orange one is great for her itchy gums too, because it's constantly in her mouth.  And it washes up perfectly.  Best $5.99 I spent on her.

5. VANDRING UGGLA owl puppet from Ikea.  This hilarious owl plays peek-a-boo with her, flies around her head and tickles her when she least expects it.  And apparently his head tastes great too. 

6. HAPE Little Copter -- she loves to spin the blades on this little thing, and it has big holes for easy grasping.  It feels pretty good when mummy drives it up and down her back too.

7. Fox in a Box by Baby Aspen.  This was the first toy I bought for Little Poppet.  It's such a sweet little fox with the softest fur and a little rattle in the tail. It came with a lovie also.  She's wrestled with this guy since she was about 3 months old.  He's well loved and washes up just fine (even though they warn that you should only spot clean him).

8. Fanfan the fawn.  I debated considering this a toy or not, but I suppose it is.  She doesn't really play with it, but she does love the squeaker.  So it's a toy, in my opinion. Fanfan is another toy by Vulli, and is an alternative to the famous Sophie the giraffe.  There are a few other lovely all natural rubber deer teethers out there, including the much less expensive (and just as cute) Lela teether. 

9. Discovery book and crib gallery by Lamaze.  It's a shape sorter, squeaky toy, rattle, crinkle toy, sensory book, picture book, high-contrast crib gallery... and it's machine washable.  I hung this from the side of Little Poppet's bassinet when she was 4 months old and it encouraged her to roll.  She loved kicking the toys with her feet.  This paranoid mummy never left it on her crib unsupervised, though.  It was easy to untie and take down when she fell asleep.  This great toy is a good companion to Peek-a-boo forest (it has four of the same characters) and it also served as an excellent tummy time book.

10. Esthex stroller toy.  This toy is not only beautiful, but it's an excellent toy for the stroller.  I didn't want to get Little Poppet the usual stroller toy because I find them too busy, ugly, and over-stimulating.  She thoroughly enjoys playing with this little bee rattle and crinkly stars, and takes happy breaks to enjoy her surroundings too.  It's well made, too, and holds up to her shoving her feet through the gap between the toy bar and the stroller bar. So far so good!

What are your baby's absolute favourite toys?  Comment below!

10 ways to entertain a 7 month old without toys

I'd very much like Little Poppet to have as few toys as possible.  For one, we have a tiny apartment and we simply can't fit many toys.  But more importantly, I want to start her off on a path that encourages her to use her imagination instead of relying on 'stuff' to entertain her.  Sounds simple enough, right?  

Wrong!  It's HARD!  The problem isn't Little Poppet, it's me. 

I LOVE TOYS.  I think whenever she gets a new toy, I enjoy playing with it more than she does.  And don't misunderstand me; I don't want Little Poppet to have NO toys.  I think toys are very important--especially if they teach her to sit quietly and keep busy while mummy drinks wine does housework.  I just don't want her life overwhelmed by stuff.  So I decided a few weeks ago to severely limit the number of toys she has.  The magic number is 10.  I may change my mind in the future (and choose fewer), but for now, I think that 10 is a reasonable number of toys for any kid to own.
Little Poppet visiting her grandparent's house, playing with one of her mummy's old toys.

Now onto the good stuff.  Here are 10 ways I keep my 7 month old happy without needing toys:

1. Dance!  Throw on Pandora (might I suggest the Raffi channel), a favourite CD, youtube, or the radio and dance.  It will get you up and moving, teach her rhythm and get her little musical mind developing.

2. Peek-a-boo  If you haven't taught this to your little one yet, do it now.  You can have fun playing peek-a-boo in two ways: hide the baby (throw blankets over their faces) or hide yourself (poke your head out from random places)

3. Discover nature  Even in the winter I'd take Little Poppet outside, sit her down in her bunting, and let her touch and discover the ice and snow around her.  The outdoors truly is God's playground.  It provides hours and hours of entertainment when the weather is right.  Now that it's spring, I love watching her smell her first flowers, run her chubby sausage fingers through brand new grass, or cry up at me in protest when a twig is poking her in the bum. 

4. Kissy or zerbert wars Little Poppet LOVES getting her tummy and neck and other flubby body parts zerberted.  She's been buzzing lately because of her teething also, and has discovered just how fun it is to buzz her spit at her mother.  So I get her back with loud zerberts on her neck.  When she was 5 months old we'd have kissy wars.  I'd kiss her cheeks, and she'd wide mouth and sloppy tongue my face right back.  I'd end up covered in gross baby saliva, and she'd be in giggle fits.  Find your own wars of affection.  

5. Pattern, rhythm, and repetition Their little brains thrive on pattern and repetition.  You can play games with them that help with this development.  One easy thing to do is to sit with them and tap their feet in different patterns while you sing songs, or chant nursery rhymes.  With Little Poppet, I tap out the rhythm of things with her feet and form a cross pattern.  Here's how: 
1.  I start with both feet spread apart. 

2. Then the first beat has her feet brought together. 

3. Then one foot forward and one foot back.  

4. Then both feet together again.  

5. Then both feet spread apart again.

6. Then both feet together again.  

7. Then the other foot forward and the other back.

8. Then both together again.


I make sure her heels or toes are tapping the ground at each location of the cross pattern.  You can put on your favourite music and sing to your little one while bouncing their feet for them.  You can play pat-a-cake. 

6. Teach them something Try to teach them to say "mamma"*, teach them some baby sign language, teach them to do certain actions when you say the word (example, "shake!" for a rattle, "bounce!" when sitting on the floor, etc), teach them to sip from a straw (it is possible), teach them to mimic actions like waving bye bye, or blowing kisses.  Whatever you do, make sure you keep the learning upbeat and fun.

*pro tip:  Teach them to say "Dadda" instead of Mamma, so  you can hand them off to your partner when you need a break.  "Oh look!  She's asking for you!" 

7. Play with food.  Strip em down, or put on an apron style bib, and give them a big ol' bowl of something squishy (and safe) like liquidy mashed potatoes.  Follow this activity with...

8. Tub time! You could also do the above right in the tub.  Anyway, tub time is great.  Don't just lather, rinse, repeat. Have some fun in the tub! Pour streams of water in front of them and watch them try to grab the stream.  Sing the Rubber Ducky song.  Play This Little Piggy with their tiny toes.  Bath time should be fun and drawn out.  We always follow bath time with at least 10 minutes of naked time on the floor with some towels to catch any accidents.  Babies love being naked, and it's important for the health of their skin too!

9. Quiet time/reading. Grab a few favourite books and sit down and explore another world together.  Once again, any story that has a rhythm and rhyme, I tap out the beat on Little Poppets leg or foot while we read.  Also, if a book is a bit too advanced for her, I get her involved by asking her to turn the pages for me.  This really only works with thick board books like Goodnight Moon.  But she loves helping, and I swear if I have to read Peek-a-boo Forest one more time...

10. Talk and walk.  I walk all around the apartment and all around town with Little Poppet and talk to her the entire time.  I show her things, and talk to her about what we're doing.  We cook together, vacuum together, go grocery shopping together, push the buttons on the get the picture.  I treat her like she's a person, and she always seems very curious about the things we're doing. It was actually Husband who reminded me that babies need this sort of communication.  When Little Poppet was just 2 months old, I woke up to the sound of cooing and quiet talking.  Husband was speaking in a hushed voice saying, "...and this is cinnamon.  And this is cardamom.  And this is allspice." He was holding up the spices to her nose so she could experience all the different aromas.  Why hadn't I thought of that?  Sometimes I'm so busy taking care of her, I forget to enjoy her.  So I've made talking and walking a regular part of our day for a few months now.  

How do you entertain your little one?  Comment below and give me some more ideas!

30 X 30 Nature Challenge

Tomorrow is day 1 of my participation in 30X30 Nature Challenge, run by the David Suzuki Foundation.  Each day I'll post a short description of what Little Poppet and I did outside, post some lovely photos, and hopefully inspire you guys to get outdoors too!

15 Perfect Post Partum Picks

I'm no expert on what you're going to need to make it smoothly through your first few days and weeks at home with your little one, and my memory is getting fuzzy, but I'll try my best to outline some of the things that made that time more bearable for me.  Now, bear in mind that I'm writing this as a woman who has given birth vaginally and just once, is living off of less than $40K/annum, and breastfeeds.  Some of these ideas may not apply to your situation.  If you make over $200K for example, skip right ahead to point number 14.  If you're squeamish, don't read this blog.  Though I'm not even sure why you'd click this if you're not prepared to hear about orifices and their fluids.  But don't worry.  You can look at this picture of Purrsephone in a high chair while us grownups talk about our gross bodies.
Hi guys.  I just stopped by to compliment you on your baby.  Absolutely delicious.
So without further ado, THE LIST:

1. Pantiliners.  You likely won't start using these until you run out of the giant overnight maxipads (see item 4), but get them for later.  Most women get their bladder control in check only a few weeks post-partum.  Those women are liars, or never do jumping jacks. 

2. Food you can heat up and eat quickly and with one hand.  As your body attempts to both heal physically and adjust to your new (lack-of) sleep schedule, you may find yourself RAVENOUS.  I remember during some middle of the night pumping sessions watching The Walking Dead, I'd feel jealous of the zombies enjoying their meals.  My stomach would start growling, and I'd start looking around to see what was edible within arms reach.  There was never anything, so I'd send Husband to the freezer for a hotpocket.  If you've decided to create some make-ahead meals for yourself, pack a bunch of them in small portions.  The day before Husband and I had scheduled to buy a chest freezer to prepare all these meals, my water broke.  Surprise!  So I didn't have these wonderful freezer meals I'd hoped for, and instead relied on hot-pockets a lot of the time.  Some nights I was like the very hungry caterpillar, taking one bite out of anything in sight before I had to run back to Little Poppet.  And no, I did not turn into a beautiful butterfly after about a month of this.  

3. Perineal bottle.  Also called a 'peri' bottle, you will likely get one of these in the hospital if you go there.  But if you have a home birth, you might want to grab one for yourself.  In fact, keep at least two around.  I kept one in the kitchen for making padsicles (see item 4), but kept having to run out to the kitchen to grab it when I needed to use the washroom.  This resulted in at least two peepee pants accidents right in the kitchen.  Learn from my mistakes.  Buy two, and always have one in the bathroom.  You will use then to squirt nice cool water on your tender bits after using the washroom.  It's a soothing rinse at at time when you'd rather put your hand in a blender than dab anything down there with toilet paper.  Plus, when I stopped using them, they were great for giving Little Poppet's head a little squirt to rinse away shampoo.  I still use it, and she's 7 months old now!

4. Pad-sicles.  I used these for probably two weeks.  I bought something like 60 or so giant overnight maxipads and a few bottles of alcohol-free witch-hazel.  (I started with 48 though, and inevitably sent my husband to Walmart in the middle of the night to buy more witch-hazel and jumbo pads).  If you just threw that basketball straight out of your vagina, you're going to appreciate these, but I've been told that c-section mammas can get sore and swollen down there too.  Witch-hazel is great because it soothes the skin and helps you heal.  And when you freeze these, they provide instant cold relief for your swollen bits.  Some ladies go out and buy tucks pads, but I'm telling you, padsicles are so much better.  3 square inches (tucks) cannot compare to the frozen big top circus tent you can throw down your pants, drenched in as much witch-hazel as floats your boat.  And if you end up not needing them because you're superwoman, you can also cut them in half and use them for breast tenderness and cracked sore nipples. Here's how to make them.   

5. Sitz bath. My midwife gave me a bag full of herbs that smelled like hippies, but it really helped me heal.  It helped with my drying, tightening, itching stitched areas.  Here's a recipe that looks identical to the one I used.  Fill your tub up just enough so that your painful and itchy parts are immersed. 

6. Netflix, or some kind of on-demand TV.  You will be awake and rocking your little one so much, you might as well queue up a series and try to enjoy yourself.  It makes those middle of the night feedings much more bearable.  

7. Vitamins, Probiotics and Placenta capsules.  This isn't for everyone, but I find it helped me deal with some of the post-partum baby blues I'd feel off and on.  

8. Painkillers.  I took both Advil and Tylenol to combat the pain and swelling I experienced.  I had to be careful not to overdo it physically when I'd take them, though.  When the meds started to wear off, I'd just want to lie down and curl into a ball and sleep for days.  It made my days functional--not awesome, just functional.

9. Metamucil.  Has anyone told you how terrifying the first few poos will be after you give birth?  You don't want to do any straining or pushing whatsoever.  You'll feel like you're about to give birth to your intestines.  I was so scared, and started drinking metamucil immediately when I came home.  I'm so glad I did.  It was a  non-event, thankfully.

10. Towels in the bed.  This is for the sweating, milk and possibly even the pee (oh, aren't we women just the most delicate flowers?).  I didn't pee the bed personally, but my hormones did have me laughing in my sleep sometimes.  So I can see it happening easily.  But I definitely sweat. Seriously, the sweating was INTENSE.  It's much easier to change towels each day than your sheets.  Plus, your boobs will be exploding with milk on about day three and no sheet will hold in that tidal wave.  Anyway, back to the sweats. I believe I was 5 days post-partum when my extremities swelled up like balloons.  I couldn't get my shoes on for over two weeks. The skin on my hands, feet, arms, and legs felt so tight, itchy and stretched. Apparently a lot of that extra fluid that you carry around during pregnancy gets sweated out in the few days/weeks post-partum. But don't worry about looking gross to your partner.  Both of you will be walking zombies for a while, and won't know your ass from a hole in the ground.  

11. Breast milk pads.  I used boxes of the disposable ones, because ain't nobody got time to be doing laundry.  I went through so many each day, because my nipples were milk fountains.  Baby cries?  Turn on the sprinkler.  Laughed too loud? Turn on the sprinkler. Baby went 3 hours instead of the usual 2 hours between feeds?  Get ready for the tidal wave.  Dreamed about feeding baby? Queue the milk fountain.  You get the idea. 

12. Granny panties.   What's that?  The above wasn't sexy enough for you?  Fear not, my friends, your sex appeal will know no bounds when you hoist on a pair of these.  Some ladies use mesh panties (the kind you get at the hospital) that go right up to your bellybutton.  Others use bicycle shorts, or giant underpants they can throw away afterwards.  Why you would want to throw away something so beautiful and stained, is beyond me.  That's what shadowboxes are for.  Hang that shit in the nursery right above the crib, or make a quilt.  You'll definitely have enough fabric.  Seriously though, a friend of mine just gave up her woman card entirely and bought a jumbo pack of Depends incontinence adult diapers.  I, personally, went the ugly panties route.  And I'm ashamed to say that I still have them in rotation.  Whatever you decide, you're going to need something more than that string bikini to hold in the giant maxipads for your post-partum bleeding (read: tidal wave), sore tummy, and swollen bits. 

13. Help.  Whether it's your mother, grandfather, mother-in-law, neighbour, best friend, or whomever, find someone who won't mind helping you run some errands, cook a meal, etc.  Or if they're super kind, they may even help you mop up your latest pee accident from the kitchen floor, and wipe your tears and tell you you're not a big gross mess. 

14. Hire a nanny, masseuse, chef, maid, some live entertainment, and a person whose sole job is to continuously flush your vagina with ice cold water.  Also, if  you're willing to pay me half your salary, I will gladly fill that position.

15. Added: Know the signs of post partum depression, post partum anxiety disorder. 

More DIY Easter Gifts

If you're looking for the first Easter post (with additional DIY ideas) here it is.

I've almost finished preparing for Little Poppet's first Easter.  All that is left is her dress!  I sometimes wonder if I should rename this blog "While She Sleeps" since this is the only time I have to work on anything worthy of posting in here.  

Anyway, you're here for the DIY stuff, so let's get to it.  The first thing I did was create an Easter basket to hold the goodies.  I used this tutorial from Purl Bee, and changed it up a bit to suit my taste (and budget and availability of materials).  I'm happy with how it turned out.
(Little Poppet's name, photoshopped out).
One thing I added was a bit of embroidery using chunky mauve wool. I drew out her name carefully in pencil first, then poked holes evenly along the letters so that it would be easier to pull the wool through (and not bust any more needles). I used a chain stitch for the heavier pieces of the font.

Once again, her name has been removed.
 The second Easter gift I made was really fun! It could have gone a lot faster if I'd whipped out the sewing machine, but I risked waking the little beast. So, I hand stitched three big sensory Easter egg rattles.  I got the idea from Olive Inspired, but decided the eggs needed some cute fabric covers.  Little Poppet is the perfect age for these.  She's just figuring out how much fun it is to bang things around to make noise, and she's fascinated by different textures, patterns and colours.    

I decided to create three eggs.  Each egg has minky fabric on one side, and a different fabric on the other.  So all the fabrics have different textures, patterns and colours for her fingers and eyes to explore.  But they're rattles too! I filled one plastic egg with pearl sugar, one with buttons, and one with a wine cork (you KNOW mamma has a lot of those!) so the shake sounds go from fine to heavy.  I decided to cut the wine cork in half, after deciding that the two pieces sounded better. FYI, If I could do this over again, I would NOT use purl sugar.  See those tiny holes in the tops of the eggs?  I bet moisture is going to get in there and eventually I'll have to replace the egg. 

Here's how I did it:
1. Prepare your shakers and super glue the eggs closed.  Now work on the rest of it, while it dries.
2. Cut two pieces of fabric larger than the size of your egg.  It needs to be enough to wrap around half of it, with some seam allowance.
3. Put the good sides together, and sew 3/4 of the way around the egg (leaving a hole large enough to fit the egg through.
4. Turn right side out, insert the egg, and sew closed.  This is another reason why I used minky fabric; to hide all the ugly seams.
5. Shake shake shake!

Happy crafting!!

Baby's First Easter

Babies under a year are too little to really enjoy Easter and all the fun activities associated with it.  But that doesn't stop us parents from getting excited about our baby's first Easter!  Husband and I are very excited about Little Poppets first Easter, and we've begun gathering ideas for age-appropriate items to fill her first Easter basket.  We've decided to include some sweet books as well as some home made things.  So what do you put in a little one's Easter basket?  I'll give you some ideas, both DIY and store-bought.  Add your comments below if you have some others!

First, the DIY stuff (Click here for my second DIY Easter post):

Little Poppet is now almost 7 months old and is starting to get into a bit of a sleep routine.  That means it's easier for me to plan my day and even fit in time for crafts and fun things in the evenings!  

It's also April and spring has sprung! Because it's spring, that means lots more sunshine, but the wind is still a bit chilly.  I wanted a hat for her that covered her ears, but also kept the sun out of her eyes.  Bonnets are perfect for this!  I found a lovely tutorial and followed the directions.

DIY bonnet
 I made one side from linen, and the other in a cute snail pattern.
Here's the pattern I followed: Red Sun Bonnet by Delia Creates

Also, I found a cute knitting tutorial on Ravelry called "Henry's Bunny".  I thought it'd be sweet to include a little bunny in her basket.  For those who are wondering, I used size 8 DPN instead of 4, because I don't have any 4s.  It still turned out great, albeit a little looser than the original.

DIY bunny
And I made Little Poppet her very own Easter dress.  I didn't use a tutorial, I just sorta 'winged it'.  I used a romper from Carters to trace out the general size of the dress, including yoke, cut out the fabric to be symmetrical, got some extra materials (added a liner, piping and buttons), and started sewing.  

Want some more ideas?  Here's a list of More DIY stuff from other blogs:
20 truly lovely Easter baskets 
String Easter basket 
Floral Easter basket
Sensory shaker eggs
Fabric egg tutorial (why not combine this with the above DIY project?)
Fabric baby blocks
Fabric book of colours
Nursery decor--sheep embroidery kit
Simple Baby Dress
Baby bow tie
Knit sheep blanket
Knit heirloom bunny blanket
Finger puppet kit 
Forest animals finger puppet tutorial 
Boo-boo bunnies and chicks (pair with some reusable ice cubes!)
Bunny hand puppets

Now for some ideas for the parent who doesn't have time for crafting!  Here are some sweet gems I found on Etsy for your little lamb:

(From left to right) Top row: Vintage wooden rabbit teether, Blue felt booties, Rabbit bowtie,
Middle row: Embroidered chick onesie, Knit nest with eggs nursery decor, Embroidered bunny pinafore   Bottom row: Lamb felt hair clip, Lamb plush, Felt baby bunny slippers