What To Buy For A First Birthday

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This post has been sat in my draft box for sometime now and this morning I decided that if it’s going to see the light of day it’s now or never, because otherwise the Birthday related posts will continue until the next birthday rolls around!


Let me start this post a little off piste by telling you about a fantastic read by Emily Rollings called ‘Slow Blogging.’ If you use social media- Instagram in particular- or blog then it’s well worth a read. I found it to be both an inspiring yet relatable approach to posting content, with an emphasis on quality over quantity. I like to think that social media is like all good things- worth the wait. Which is why, like Emily, I’m going to stop apologising for not posting regularly enough!

(Starting… now)

Back to the task at hand and can you believe Little Ored is turning one in a matter of days? (Four to be exact) which has thrown up the BIG dilemma of “What do you buy a one year old” Suddenly, the gifts we bought for friend’s children, having not yet had a child of our own, seemed laughable. Wind up wooden musical toys albeit beautiful, are by no means practical especially in the hands of a baby!

So it was time to get our thinking caps on and with Little Ored’s first Christmas a not-too-distant memory toys were 100% out of the question. Quite frankly Father Christmas (aka both sides of the family) spoilt him rotten and whilst he’s come to have his favourites it seemed kind of crazy to buy any more.

Now that we’re a one-income household also had to think about a budget. It would’ve been so easy to get carried away and buy gift after gift, but a) we couldn’t afford to do that and b) would have been overwhelming for Little Ored. (We’ve read a lot online about how children are overwhelmed by too much choice and how less toys = more quality playtime).

So with that in mind we tried really hard to think of gifts that will have a little more longevity; presents that he’ll be able to use/keep for years to come.

So here’s what we’ve opted for, with our reasons for doing so. I really hope that by sharing our thought process behind the presents, it’ll help any parents struggling like we did, and maybe help you to think a little more outside the box.

1. All The Things I Wish For You

This personalised picture book was an absolute no-brainer. Not only does Little Ored adore having books read to him (not to mention how often I catch him flicking through them at leisure when in his nursery) but the story itself has a beautiful, heartfelt message, making it the perfect first birthday present. Not only that but you can include a personal message/dedication making it a wonderful keepsake for your baby to read/look back on when he’s not such a little baby anymore!

2. Tipi

When Little Ored starting pulling his ball-pit over his head, relishing the hiding space, it soon became apparent that a tipi could quite possibly be the BIG birthday gift. Despite the price tag (you can buy them on Etsy from anywhere from £40-£150+) we’re hoping that this will be a gift that will grow with Little Ored, giving him a fun place to play, read and relax until he eventually grows out of it (literally). And I think that’s what I really like about this- it’s not a present that by his next or even third birthday, he’ll be done with. I also like that’s there’s so much choice in design meaning that you’ll get something pretty unique that matches your chosen space, with the ability to make it even more special by adding your own little creative touches (lights, pole flags, bunting, cushions etc).

3. Birthday Letters To My Baby

One of the things I love about Instagram is how random follows lead to random discoveries and that’s exactly how I stumbled upon Emily Rollings. I know writing birthday letters has become popular, but for a couple who are both seriously unorganised and have a penchant for loosing misplacing stuff, having a beautifully bound book seemed like the safest way of storing those thoughts, memories, hopes and dreams that we have for Little Ored.

Also, I very much like that I only have to find the time to sit down once a year to write and reflect because quite frankly I’ve failed at keeping on top of filling out his Baby Book as the months have passed!

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The ‘B’ Word

Breastfeeding is sadly, quite the contentious subject. Whether it’s die hard advocates who make formula Mama’s feel like failures, or strangers that shame breastfeeding Mama’s in public, everyone has an opinion and they’re not afraid to share it with you.

Personally, choosing to breastfeed has been a no-brainer even if I previously found the idea of it more daunting than labour (yes, really). Maybe it had something to do with the fact that throughout the majority of my pregnancy, I never heard a positive or encouraging story about breastfeeding. My Mama and Nan chose not to breastfeed, and the few friends I have that are Mothers, also didn’t breastfeed. Reasons ranged from not producing enough milk, to problems with latching or quite simply, it hurt too much.

My anxieties kicked in almost immediately. What if I didn’t produce enough milk? What if my baby refused to latch? What if it was so painful my nipples flew a white flag without even consulting me?

Thankfully a two hour breastfeeding session run through an NCT class, put my mind-and worries- at ease. The session leader separated fact from fiction, and by doing so put to us that we had all the tools needed to be able to successfully breastfeed. Sure, it wasn’t going to be easy. Breastfeeding is indeed an artform. But the important message that was put across to us was not to give up at the first hurdle. To be unafraid to ask for help- be it from a midwife, friend or even your local GP- if and when you need it.

Thanks to our NCT leader, who led the session with a reassuring and positive approach, without bias or judgement, I left the group feeling informed but above all, confident! The horror stories told by work colleagues and friends faded into the background and I felt huge affirmation in my choice to breastfeed.

So here are just some of the reasons (and facts) why I have chosen to breastfeed my baby:

For Mama’s 

  1. Proven to reduce the risk of breast cancer- the longer you breastfeed, the better!
  2. Helps the uterus contract, returning to its normal size significantly quicker.
  3. Burns calories- who doesn’t love a hardcore workout that they can do whilst sitting down?
  4. No warming/sterilising bottles, readily available and IT’S FREE!!!

 

For Babies

  1. Reduces the risk of SIDS
  2. Great for bonding
  3. Tailor made- Believe it or not, your breastmilk is constantly changing in order to provide the nutrients your baby specifically needs, at any given time.
  4. Colostrum is GOLD- the small stuff your boobies make prior to milk, is full of so much goodness that athletes have been known to take it prior to competing (yes, really!)

 

Anxieties relieved I’m now both determined and excited to breastfeed. Yet I’ve decided to keep a flexible and sensible approach to the whole process because the last thing I want to do is put pressure on myself. (Studies have shown that the more stressed you are, the less Oxytocin you’re likely to produce- otherwise known as the ‘love’ hormone-  which is vital to producing lots of breast milk)

Because the simple truth of the matter is that if for whatever reason, breastfeeding doesn’t work out, I’ll just use formula and you know what, the world will still be here in the morning! Because when did you ever meet anyone in your adult life, who didn’t get a great education or an amazing new promotion, all because they were given formula as a baby instead of breastmilk?

I would encourage any new Mum to do their research thoroughly, before deciding that breastfeeding isn’t for them. As much as it might frustrate, there are thousands is a reason why the NHS rolled out the campaign “Breast is Best.” But that said, it doesn’t mean that you or I, are any less of a woman or a Mother for deciding to use formula.

All newborn babies need is love, care, and milk. Whether the latter comes from you or a cow, your baby really won’t mind!

 

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A Letter To Our (Unborn) Little One

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Little One,

There is so much we hope for you and yet so much we’re yet to learn about you. Will you inherit my no-nonsense attitude or Papa Bear’s stubborn streak? His unwavering selflessness or my fierce loyalty ? Will you adore fruit as much as I do or will you unapologetically hassle me for biscuits (like Papa Bear does!). Maybe you’ll have traits and quirks which will leave us both in awe, wondering “Where does he/she get it from?!”

There is so much left to chance. Like how tall you will be, what colour eyes you will have and if you’ll end up with a smattering of freckles underneath those eyes. Ok, so it’s not all down to chance, but it still feels like a roll of the dice when it comes to which of our genetics will help to shape you.

There is so much we want to teach you. Not just the fun things like how to whistle, swim or ride a bike, but how to grow up valuing the people (and world) around you over the pursuit of money and materialism. How to have the courage and bravery to live this life being true to yourself, and to always be kind to others, even when they haven’t been kind to you.How to be a true gentleman, compassionate, loving and respectful to women. Or how to be a strong woman, unafraid of the glass ceiling or glossy magazines which will try to undermine your self-esteem.

There is so much you will teach us, without even trying. Like how to let go of our fears and worries and simply love you with abandon. Trusting our instincts as parents, no matter how inept we may feel at times. How to lean on one another, instead of pushing each other away, when times get tough or tiring.

There is a story yet untold but in the past nine months alone, you have been showered with so much light and love from friends and family both near and far, that I know your story will be a great one. By having you, we have been reminded how lucky we are to have such beautiful people in our lives, and now they are in yours.

From the moment we planned to have you, from that first kick felt inside my womb, from the first time we heard your heartbeat, we fell head over heels for you and that unwavering love will never change.

There is so much we dream for you but more than anything we dream for you to be happy, whatever you decide to do and whoever you decide to be in this life.

 

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