As part of our new bedtime routine, we’ve started making sure we read a book every night. In honour of World Book Day this week, here are a few of our current favourites. Jacob is 6-months old and most of these are probably not recommended for his age, but I personally think that its fine to read books for an older child to a 6-month-old. Plus, they’ll be used more, which is good from a money-saving point of view!

Books for a 6-month-old

Yawn

Books for a 6-month-old: Yawn

Yawn by Sally Symes was a Christmas present and is Jacob’s current favourite. The colourful board book is beautifully illustrated. The story follows a yawn as it travels from a little boy called Sean to a cat, pig and rabbit, among other animals. The words have a lovely rhythm and Jacob loves listening to my voice when I read it to him. He loves ‘helping’ to turn the pages by sticking his hand through the yawn hole in each page. It’s a nice short story, which is perfect for when Jacob is tired and we want to get him to bed quickly.

It will be great once Jacob is older too—it’s nice and simple so he’ll be able to read along with me. I can’t wait until he starts shouting out the animal that’s coming next!

Yawn is £5.99 from Amazon.

The Gruffalo
Books for a 6-month-old: The Gruffalo

This one is my favourite! The Gruffalo  is a brilliant story. It’s definitely designed for the older child—I’d guess a 3-year-old would love it—but I think it’s great for a 6-month old for a few reasons: it’s longer than some of the others so good for winding baby down, plus I find Jacob likes listening to me reading longer books; it’s enjoyable for the adult reading it; the illustrations are lovely for a baby to look at. I think exposing babies to a wider variety of words can only be a good thing.

The Gruffalo is £4 from Amazon.

Each Peach Pear Plum

Books for a 6-month-old: Each Peach Pear Plum

Each Peach Pear Plum is an absolute classic. Again, Jacob is a bit young for it, but he loves the pictures. I like introducing him to characters like Baby Bunting and the Wicked Witch and the illustrations are amazing. It will work well as he gets older and can point out all the characters hiding in the illustrations.

Each Peach Pear Plum is £3.99 from Amazon.

Not A Box

Books for a 6-month-old

Not A Box is a board book about a rabbit playing with a box. A fab story about the power of imagination, I love the message of this book. It’s nice and sturdy too, perfect for my little dribbler!

Not A Box is £6.99 from Amazon.

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Pink Pear Bear
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One of my favourite things about our organic Abel and Cole veg boxes is that it has forced me to think outside the box (ha) when it comes to cooking. I love cooking, but it can be easy to get stuck in a rut and have the same old things all the time. I’ve been sent a few items that I rarely, if ever, cook with, so I’ve had to search for recipes and be a bit more creative.

Vegetable box

The contents of a veg box

Here are just a few of the vegetables I’ve cooked new recipes with recently.

Celeriac

“Huh, what’s this weird brain-looking thing?”, I thought as I unboxed my veg. I like to think I’m relatively experienced with veg, but this one had me stumped. A quick look at my receipt told me it was celeriac. I’d eaten celeriac in a restaurant before, but I’d never seen one raw. I had absolutely no idea what to do with it or how to cook it. After a bit of Googling, I found a recipe for smoked haddock and celeriac soup by Nigel Slater. Unorthodox I know, but I love smoked haddock. Plus it has bacon too. The soup was delicious. Celeriac tastes sort of like celery, and it went really well with the haddock.

Butternut squash

I’ve cooked with butternut squash quite a lot, but I wanted to find a slightly different recipe. I’m keen on having a few vegetarian meals a week, so that was my main criteria. I found this recipe for Indian butternut squash curry which fit the bill perfectly. Healthy, quite cheap and tasty. I’ve made this twice now, it’s so good. I always make enough to freeze a couple of portions to have another time.

Beetroot

I love beetroot, but I’d never cooked with it until we started getting the veg boxes. We’ve had beetroot in our box a couple of times and I’ve made salads both times. One was this raw one from Jamie Oliver (I recommend!) and one was a recipe I made up. I baked the beetroot for about an hour, peeled off the skin (I wore latex gloves for this) and chopped it up. I added it to some rocket and goats cheese, with a dressing of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Simple but delicious.

Aubergine

Aubergine was another vegetable I’ve cooked with quite a bit, but I usually just roast it and chuck it in pasta dishes. I decided to try something different. I’d once had an amazing aubergine dip at a restaurant so set out to recreate that. I found a recipe for aubergine and coriander dip, which sounded similar. It was really easy to make and tasted amazing. I highly recommend.

You can sign up for an Abel and Cole veg box here.

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Naptime Natter

 

The Tale of Mummyhood

 

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Now that Jacob is 6 months old we have really started weaning in earnest*. I’d decided against baby-led weaning in the end—although I could see some advantages, I wanted him to start eating a reasonable amount. So we decided to wean Jacob using a mixture of purees and finger foods. He has really taken to eating, and I’m finding weaning a lot of fun.

I was apprehensive at the start though. I didn’t really know where to begin so I bought Annabel Karmel’s Feeding Your Baby and Toddler book. The book has loads of recipes for different stages of weaning, from first tastes through to toddlerhood, and provides really clear information on what babies need in terms of nutrition at each stage. At first, I followed the recipes religiously as I had no idea what I was doing. Now I’m more confident I use the book as a base and modify the recipes to come up with new weaning recipes based on what I have in the fridge. As we now subscribe to Abel and Cole veg boxes, I always have a lot of different organic veg so it’s good to be able to mix things up a bit rather than go out to buy specific ingredients just for Jacob.

I always make up a large batch of each recipe and freeze small portions in ice cube trays, then transfer the frozen portions into labelled freezer bags. That way I only have to cook a couple of times a week and have a nice stock of quick, healthy food for Jacob that I can just heat up each evening.

Baby eating kale

Jacob enjoying his kale!

Jacob’s top 5 weaning recipes

1. Chicken casserole

I base this on the recipe in the book. It has chicken (I used leftover chicken from a roast), potato, leeks, parsnip and carrot. I sometimes add extra veg. Jacob’s favourites are kale and Brussel sprouts (I know! I have a weird child). If we don’t have leeks, I’ll just chuck in a bit of onion.

2. Fish and vegetables

This is another recipe from the book. Cod is the recommended fish and I usually add potatoes, carrots and tomato as recommended. But I will add parsnip or cauliflower if that’s what I have in the fridge. The cod is poached in milk with a bay leaf and some peppercorns (which you remove before blending).

3. Cheesy veg

I got this idea from the book, but now I don’t follow a recipe. I just steam whatever veg we have (potato, broccoli, cauliflower, carrot, kale), add some grated cheese and blend!

4. Butternut squash, broccoli, kale and pea puree

This was a recipe I found on Annabel Karmel’s website. I wasn’t sure about the sound of this one, but I had all the ingredients so thought I might as well give it a try! Jacob loved it. It’s not a combination I’d have thought of, which is why it can be handy to have a look in a book or online. It’s taught me to be a bit more adventurous with my combinations.

5. Salmon, broccoli and spinach puree

Another one I got from the website, this is one of my personal favourites. I always hope Jacob won’t finish his portion so I get some! It recommends using shallots, but I use a little bit of onion if I don’t have any.

You may have noticed that all these recipes are vegetable based. Jacob just isn’t that keen on fruit, which I find very odd. Fingers crossed it lasts, although I suspect it won’t.

*We’d started a few weeks early with some fruit and vegetable purees. This was against the NHS guidelines. I’d done my own research on this, and decided for us the risk was low, but please look into it before starting early weaning. There are risks for some babies.

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Pre-baby the idea of breastfeeding in public was horrific. I couldn’t believe that I’d ever be comfortable with the idea. I’d think, ‘What if somebody saw my boob?!’ Six months into my breastfeeding journey, and I can safely say I no longer give two hoots. And actually, I barely cared, even right at the start. I completely surprised myself in that regard.

Breastfeeding nerves

I knew I wanted to breastfeed before Jacob was born, so I figured that it was likely I’d need to feed outside the house at some point. When I thought about it, I felt nervous that someone would say something to me. You hear scare stories of women being asked to cover up and/or leave when they breastfeed their babies in public, and I thought I would die of embarrassment if that happened to me. I also just couldn’t imagine sitting there talking to friends and family with my boob out. It all just seemed so awkward, and I’m quite shy!

The least of my worries

All the worries I had about breastfeeding in public went out the window almost instantly after Jacob was born. I was too focused on making sure my latch was correct—avoiding any further nipple shredding (ouch)—and making sure the baby was feeding enough to be concerned about whether I was exposing too much. In the end, breastfeeding seemed like such a natural thing. I think I forgot that boobs are seen in a sexual way too.

I have breastfed anywhere and everywhere. Restaurants, pubs, parks, coffee shops, a bus. Never once have I experienced any negativity at all. Actually, I don’t think anyone has ever really noticed. Or if they have, they’ve been polite and averted their eyes. I’ve certainly never had any staring or anything, which was one of my fears.

I am reasonably discrete. I use the ‘one up, one down’ top method (most of the time). And actually, your boob is only exposed for about 2 seconds while you latch the baby on, so if anyone gets an eyeful, it is only for an instant. Once the baby is feeding, their head hides pretty much everything.

I’ll sometimes hold a scarf or a large muslin to cover us if Jacob is fussing a lot and pulling off, but now that he’s bigger that doesn’t really work. He just pulls it down. To be honest, I don’t really care about strangers seeing my boob. I do feel slightly more awkward about older, male family friends etc. and I actually think that’s because I’m worried about making them feel uncomfortable. I have now decided though, that if anyone has a problem with me breastfeeding, it’s just that—their problem. Not mine. They can always avert their eyes or walk away.

Breastfeeding in public outside a cafe

Breastfeeding outside a cafe

My tips for mums worried about breastfeeding in public:

  1. Wear a vest top you can pull down, and another top you pull up over the top. This minimises the amount of flesh exposed at any time. It’s also cheaper than buying nursing tops.
  2. On the odd occasion when I felt self-conscious, I used a large muslin to try to cover up a bit. Cheaper than an expensive nursing cover and has multiple uses, so won’t be wasted.
  3. Above all, don’t worry. It’s highly unlikely anyone is even looking. You hear these horror stories in the press of women being told off, but I honestly have never met a single person in real life who has experienced it.

Overall, I’d say the most important thing to remember is that you are just feeding your baby. That’s what boobs are for. You are doing an amazing job and you don’t need to be ashamed of that.

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As a new(ish) mum, I’ve fallen into the not-showering-or-brushing-my-hair trap. I just don’t have the time to blow dry my hair anymore and now the baby is pretty much crawling, showering without someone to watch him is impossible (I need some kind of baby jail to trap him in). And proper makeup? For a weekday? Are you kidding me?

I think I’ve managed to avoid everyone knowing this by using these 5 essentials that I couldn’t live without.

1. Dry shampoo

I know I should make the effort to wash my hair more frequently, but realistically that isn’t going to happen. Sometimes all I can manage is a 30-second body rinse before the baby has a meltdown, so I’ve now tried a few dry shampoos. My favourite is Colab Sheer and Invisible. Marketed as a dry shampoo for grown ups, it is actually brilliant. It doesn’t make your hair grey, which is always the big worry with dry shampoo. All the others I’ve tried leave a horrible white residue. And Colab actually smells nice (there are 6 different scents). It was developed by Ruth Crilly of A Model Recommends fame. It’s available from Superdrug or Feel Unique.

2. Sunglasses

Wearing my Raybans

Looking windswept in my Raybans

The Rayban Wayfarer sunglasses are my one true love. They were a pre-baby purchase, as my maternity pay doesn’t stretch to such luxuries, but the amount I use them I can almost convince myself they were value for money. Obviously, £134 is a lot to spend, but they make me feel so stylish. They also hide the ridiculous dark circles I have under my eyes. I just need the weather to improve so I can wear them more!

3. Concealer

When it isn’t sunny, and I don’t want to be one of those people who wears sunglasses inside, I use a touch of concealer under my eyes. I know I said I wear no makeup, but this is all I use on a day-to-day basis. If I didn’t I fear I would scare people with the rings under my eyes at the moment.

4. Mum bun

On days when you’ve pushed it a step too far and even the dry shampoo is making no difference, the only thing for it is a mum bun. Luckily, they look best if they are messy, so there’s no need to worry about neatness. By far the best thing about a mum bun is that Jacob can’t pull my hair, which is his new favourite trick.

5. Scarf

My mum uniform is currently jeans (I have some great new ‘jeggings’ from Gap, which don’t flash my bum when I bend down with Jacob), a vest with a t-shirt or jumper over it (breastfeeding access) and some kind of scarf. I think the scarf makes me look like I’ve made a bit of an effort. Plus its warmer! My favourite one is from Joules. It’s bright, and so soft. Jacob likes to stroke it, which is adorable. They don’t have mine in stock anymore but I’m loving the look of this one, which has 25% off until Sunday.

My beloved Joules scarf.

What are your essentials for not looking like a bag lady? 

*Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.

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