How to give your toddler a spa bath in winter!

Spa bath in a flexi bucket

I love flexi buckets! I have two: one big pink one and a small yellow one. They can be used for so many things from hanging out laundry, to clothes hampers, packing stuff to visit relatives, toy storage, and winter spa baths!

Miss 2 loves asking for a bucket bath when the temperatures start dropping. Just sit the bucket in your bath, fill it to a nice warm temperature from the taps, add a gentle-on-the-skin bubble bath, and pop in your toddler.

The Goldilocks principle applies when choosing your flexi bucket: not too big, not too small, but just right. You want your toddler to be able to sit upright comfortably and have water up to their armpits (parental supervision is recommended as per any bath). You’ll find that you use much less water than a normal bath and they’re warmer because more of their body is consistently covered.

The great thing is that this also works in a shower! I’ve also seen friends put multiple buckets in one bath (of assorted sizes) so that siblings can spa together (and without fighting).

You can even do this during summer! Put the empty bucket outside on the lawn (water is heavy) and ferry warm water to it. Presto! An outdoor bath in the sun and a happy excited child!

Tip: These are also great to take to a beach so that you can create a mini pool for younger siblings or wash off sandy feet.

Spa bath fun!

How to make allergy free Peppermint icing

After Dinner Mint Chocolate Cupcakes (Gluten Free!)

After Dinner Mint Chocolate Cupcakes (Gluten Free!)

It continually amazes me how many products contain hidden sources of soy. I wanted to make a peppermint icing but Natural Peppermint Essence at the supermarket contains: Glycerine, Alcohol, Water, Peppermint Oil. That might not sound so bad but our lengthy food allergy journey had me wondering what Glycerine actually is.  Research shows it’s sometimes made from animal fat but mostly it’s made from vegetable oil..with soybean oil being extremely likely.

I liked this on the Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes 🙂

Ingredients

  • 100% Peppermint herbal tea bag
  • Boiling water
  • Icing sugar

Directions

  1. Steep the tea bag in 1/4 cup boiling water.
  2. Make your cupcakes. (This gives the peppermint time to steep and the water time to cool.)
  3. Slowly mix the peppermint water into icing sugar.
  4. Ice your cooled cupcakes. We like them on gluten free Chocolate Cupcakes.

Note: Herbal / fruit teas work to create other flavour icings as well. Check out this naturally pink icing on vanilla Gluten Free cupcakes.

What methods can I use for potty training my toddler?

Potty Training

What methods can we use for potty training?

Potty Training! It’s something that we all experience as parents as we help our children transition out of nappies. I’ve posted previously on:

 

Slow

The slow method is great if you’re wanting to stretch toilet training over a number of months.

Maybe it’s winter and you want to wait for warmer weather before fully embracing nuddy time; maybe you have an eldest only child who is showing signs of being ready but isn’t ready to embrace going nappy free; maybe you have a spirited child who responds badly to pressure, or a your family frequently faces change, or your child has health concerns or other stress factors.

I note this is the method I’m using with stubborn and spirited Miss 2!

  1. Regularly embrace talking about bodily functions. Talk about needing to wee or poo. Read stories about potty training.
  2. Storybots have a great video for toddlers about how the human body works, including how food gets turned into energy (and waste products!).
  3. Buy a potty and place it somewhere in the house where it’s easy for your toddler to access.
    • I was resistant at first to having it in the lounge but toddlers really do only think about what’s right in front of them. It’s good to put it next to their picture books, or in front of the tv, or by a window they can look out of. It’s also useful to have a plastic mat under it if you have carpets!
  4. Encourage your child to sit on the potty regularly. It helps if you read them a story to keep them occupied.
    • Try giving them regular naked time. This helps them get accustomed to their body and it also means they don’t have to grapple with clothes when they get to the potty. Watching themselves accidentally wee or poo can also help them form a connection in their mind between how they felt beforehand and what then happened (it’s not like they can see when it’s all conveniently happening in the nappy!).
    • Make a happy fuss about buying them underwear. Keep in mind that although different brands will use the same sizing on their labels, the real size and the way they actually fit will vary hugely. It can also help to buy underwear with decorative bows or buttons at the front so that they can easily see which way to put them on!
  5. See what works for you and your child.
    • If they’re having lots of accidents and you’re getting frustrated cleaning up messes, you may want to have them out of nappies just for a set time each day (i.e.  nappies in the morning and undies in the afternoon).
    • Maybe your child took an interest in potty training for a week or two and then adamantly decided they wanted their nappies back. That’s fine! Keep gently encouraging them to use the potty and offer them the choice each day of whether they want to wear nappies or undies.
    • Have a think about whether you want to use nappies, nappy pants, training pants, undies; or a mix. Some toilet training experts advise against nappy pants and say that they delay things but they are really useful as a parent and if you’re taking the slow approach anyway….
  6. Take time off and try again later.
    • Some toddlers won’t be ready on the first try.  You may need to wait 4-6 weeks and then try again. LOTS of parents find that their eldest will take the longest to potty train and that younger siblings will be much quicker (a big part of that is because they really, really want to be like their big brother or sister!).

Medium

Ideally, this method will allow you to toilet train in the space of 1 – 2 weeks. You do need to plan for it in your schedule but there’s a bit more flexbility in it. Make sure that your child is showing all the signs of readiness and they have good bladder control (1-2 hours).

It’s a good idea to do this during warm weather when your child doesn’t need to wear a lot of clothes. You can even put the potty outside and encourage them to use it while running around the garden naked.

It’s helpful to start this once your child shows clear signs that they are getting ready to do a poo. Some kids might have a ‘poo face’ that they start to make, some kids might have a corner they go and hide in (like in a closet or behind a chair), some might assume a squatting position.

Make sure that you stay at home for the first 3 – 7 days so that your child can relax into the change without the stress of accidents and distractions.

Have a think before you start about whether you want to use rewards as a potty training incentive.

  1. Make sure that you are starting at a settled time when there are no big changes to the family routine (like a new baby, moving house, starting kindy).
  2. Immerse your child in toilet training preparation. Go shopping for a potty and undies. Read potty books. Watch videos about using the potty. Talk about the steps for using the toilet.
    • You can even take photos of them practising each step and print these off. Encourage them to talk about each of the steps they need to take.
  3. Have your child in underwear all the time (except when sleeping). Encourage your child to sit on the potty at regular intervals each day and build these into your routine (i.e. when they wake up, 20 minutes after meals or bottles, before the bath, before bed etc.). Make sure that you stick with these every day so that your child comes to expect the reminder.
  4. Praise them when they’re successful and don’t make a big fuss when there are accidents. There will be accidents at first but these should decrease quickly if they’re ready.

Fast

In theory, this will help your child toilet train in a day or two. It is very reward orientated and won’t suit every child (or parent!)

Make sure that your child is showing all the signs of readiness and they have good bladder control (1-2 hours). Also, make sure that they are confident removing clothing and can easily pull pants up and down.

Decide in advance what rewards you will use.

You will need to be at home for a few days and may want to wait for warm weather so your child doesn’t need to wear lots of clothes.

  1. Make sure that you are starting at a settled time when there are no big changes to the family routine (like a new baby, moving house, starting kindy).
  2. Immerse your child in toilet training preparation. Go shopping for a potty and undies. Read potty books. Watch videos about using the potty. Talk about the steps for using the toilet.
    • You can even take photos of them practising each step and print these off. Encourage them to talk about each of the steps they need to take.
  3. The Day Before: Tell your child that tomorrow will be a special day and that you will be having a toilet training party. Practice the steps of toilet training with a special doll that can pass water. Explain that the aim is to stay clean and dry, and to do all wees/poos in the potty. The night before show them the special treats they will get the next day.
  4. The Big Day: Give them lots of fluids when they wake up and at breakfast. Take off the wet nappy and put on new undies/knickers. Introduce a reward chart and tell them they will get stickers on the chart for keeping their undies/knickers clean and dry by using the potty.
  5. Roleplay with the doll straight after breakfast. Go through the steps of toilet training. Have your child feel inside the doll’s underwear to check if they are clean and dry. Praise the doll and clap. Ask your child if they are clean and dry; check and if dry, praise them and put a sticker on reward chart. Give the doll a drink and then have the doll wee in the potty. Praise the doll and give the doll a treat.
  6. While sitting next to the potty, ask your child if they need to wee or poo. Have your child sit on the potty. You may need to read a story or sing a song to encourage them to stay on. Praise them for practising sitting on the potty. If they do a wee or poo, flush the waste down the toilet, wash hands, and then give them an instant reward.
  7. Set a timer and sit them on the toilet every 30 minutes. Praise them if they have stayed clean and dry, put a sticker on the reward chart. Praise them for sitting on the potty. If they do a wee or poo. give them an instant reward.
  8. Give your child lots of fluids, foods that will make them thirsty, and foods with lots of fibre. Keep practising with the doll. If they accidentally wee or poo in their underwear, don’t make a fuss just quietly clean them up and remind them to do wees/poos in the potty.  Let them associate receiving attention with using the potty.

Easter according to Miss 2

Allergy Free Easter Egg

Allergy Free Easter Egg

For the last week, I’ve been talking to Miss 2 about Easter. I used ‘How to explain Easter to kids‘ as a starting point and also the Easter story from “The Big Little Bible”. (Check out this review of the free storybook bible app which is free to download from Apple and Google app stores). She was also very excited because an awesomely kind friend dropped off an allergy free easter egg (i.e.dairy free, soy free, gluten free, nut free). She ate the chocolate buttons straight away and we went for an Easter egg hunt on Easter. We’ve also been painting and decorating eggs to eat.

So I asked her what she thought about Easter:

Miss 2: eggs!

Mum: Yes, we’ve decorated eggs for Easter.

Miss 2: chocolate!

Mum: Yes, we eat chocolate at Easter. Why do we eat chocolate at Easter?

Miss 2: Yum! Num num num. Yummy chocolate.

Mum: God loves us. God is awesome. Chocolate is awesome. We eat chocolate at Easter to celebrate that God is awesome.

 

Yup, chocolate and God is awesome, that basically sums up Easter this year 😛

How can I help prepare my child for potty training?

Potty training

 

You’ve decided that your child is developmentally ready to potty / toilet train and you want to pave the way for starting soon; or, you have a younger sibling who wants to understand what all the fuss is about and be involved (me too!)

Here are some things that you can do to help get them thinking about their body and the potty:

Read books about potty training. Often there are lots of picture books at the library so read a few until you find ones that work for you. Miss 2 is quite fond of Pirate Potty, (the same author also does Princess Potty) and Dinosaur Doo.

Talk to them about their body;  Storybots have a great video for toddlers about how the human body works including how food gets turned into energy (and waste products!). If they have particular ‘tells’ that they are about to do something in their diaper (like squatting, grunting, pulling a face, going to find a quiet place) then call their attention to their body’s signals and the ‘feeling’ that they need to wee or poo. Encourage them to tell you as soon as they have wet or dirtied a nappy so that you can change it straight away.

Get into the habit of talking to them about your own toileting habits; i.e. “I need to stop washing the dishes and go do a wee on the toilet.” It might feel a bit ridiculous at first but no more (hopefully) than pretending to be a monkey, or having your umpteenth imaginary cup of tea, or answering ‘What’ and ‘Why’ over and over and over again. The lesson that your modelling is that your listening to your body, stopping what you are doing, and going to the toilet.

Have an open door policy at home (if you can) and let them come to the toilet with you; let’s face it, most toddlers want to anyway! Talk about needing to go to the toilet and verbalize the steps (like flushing, washing hands etc.).

Get a potty and have it available. For a long time, I had it in the bathroom because I wanted that association of needing to go a particular room to do wee / poo. I’ve learned that it’s far more effective to have it on a plastic mat in the lounge, where she can see it all the time and it’s easy to reach, now that we’re actively potty training.

Ask them each day if they’d like to sit on the potty. Sometimes they might want to just sit on it, fully clothed + a nappy, and roleplay wiping their bum with toilet paper. This is fine! Just keep an eye on the toilet paper because they will happily unwind an entire roll.

Encourage them to roleplay with a doll/teddy. Help them to undress their toy, sit it on the potty, wipe its bottom with a cloth, and praise the toy .

Provide easy access clothes (i.e. no more overalls!). They need to be wearing pants they can pull down easily or a skirt that they can lift. Play games to see who can pull their pants down the fastest when getting changed into pyjamas at the end of the day or encourage them to pull their pants down themselves before each nappy change.

Ask them each day if they’d like a nappy/diaper or undies/knickers. One day they may surprise you and say ‘Undies!’.

Sometimes they will ask for undies before they’re ready to use a potty (because their friends are wearing them). That’s fine! Let them wear underwear over their diapers and get used to the idea. Encourage them to practice putting them on and off themselves. Let them help you choose ones that they like (i.e. they think are pretty / cool / exciting / awesome).

 

How can I explain Easter to children?

easter

Easter

This explanation of Easter, including both Christian beliefs and the various festive foods, as an imaginary conversation with a 4 year old is a lovely starting point for working out how to explain it to your children in a Christian household. Thank you Oh Baby magazine.

(I note that scholarly works, including Bede in 8th Century England, acknowledge that festive spring-time celebrations pre-date Christian celebrations of Easter in many northern European countries and elements of these were incorporated into Christian celebrations. It is believed that the hare (rabbit) and collecting eggs (or candies) are very old folk traditions / symbols that have morphed into something far more commercial and chocolatey in our present day than rabbit pie! I do like the explanation below that at its simplest can be that Jesus wants us to have fun and celebrate life, including Christ’s resurrection, and, well, chocolate is awesome.)

“My nearly four-year-old is busy studying the latest flyer from one of the big stores, so conveniently deposited into our mailbox ever other day. This one is seasonally filled with chocolate eggs. Big ones, small ones, hollow ones, marshmallow ones, licensed ones featuring the latest cartoon star/movie star/pop star. She is dreaming, mouth almost watering. I am curious:

Hey darling, can you tell me what Easter is really about?

Ummm… Eggs?

No, not really.

Ummm… Chocolate?

Nope.

Ummmm…. Chocolate eggs?!

No, not even chocolate eggs. Do you remember what happened at the first ever Easter?

Ummm… Jesus was born?

No, not quite. Jesus was born at Christmas time. He came into this world as a little baby, but he was actually God’s son and God was sending him to this world because we needed a Saviour.

Why did we need a saviour?

Well, this world is pretty amazing and beautiful. But people do some dumb stuff sometimes. They hurt each other and that makes God really sad. They also forget about God and try and manage on their own. But God loves us so much, He doesn’t want us to hurt each other, or ourselves, and He misses us if we just go off doing our own thing. So he came up with a plan. He would send his son Jesus to be with people on earth for a while, so they could learn more about God and the way God wants us to live. And then Jesus could take all the punishment for the wrong things people do, so us people – God’s precious children, would not be separated from Him forever but could stay connected to God and one day live with Him in heaven for eternity.

What’s eternity?

Forever and ever. But back to Easter. Jesus had been living on earth for about 33 years.

Daddy is going to be 33 at his next birthday!

Yep, Daddy is nearly 33. Jesus had been working as a carpenter…

What’s a carpenter?

A carpenter is a builder.

A builder like Daddy!

Yes, a builder like Daddy. Jesus had been building, but also telling people amazing stories, and teaching them really helpful things about life, and making sick people better again, and performing miracles.

What’s a miracle?

A miracle is something so amazing that only God could have made it happen.

Like me?

Yep, you’re a miracle. But back to Easter. People were hearing about Jesus and all the cool stuff he was doing. And some people knew he was a great leader and they wanted to follow him. But other people were afraid of Jesus. They were worried that Jesus might make trouble for the rulers, that Jesus would get people to fight against their rule and try and take over.

But you said Jesus was only doing cool stuff?

Yes, he was. He wasn’t going to fight with anybody. He was doing what God had asked him to do – teach people about the kingdom of God. But the really powerful rulers felt so threatened by Jesus that they got soldiers to arrest him, saying that Jesus had broken the laws of God. He hadn’t broken any laws, but by now the priests had told lies about Jesus to the Governor. The Governor didn’t want Jesus killed, but people were all getting really upset and out of control, so the Governor thought Jesus had to be punished and then hopefully people would calm down again.

Did Jesus get time out?

Well, sadly not. They did a really awful thing to Jesus. They nailed him to a big wooden cross, which is really, really bad for your body, and after a while Jesus couldn’t breath anymore, and he died. And we remember that day on Good Friday. We have Hot Cross Buns, and the crosses remind us what happened to Jesus that day.

Good Friday? That cross thing doesn’t sound very good.

Well, something really good was about to happen. And the cross thing – well, that was very, very important, because it was part of God’s plan for Jesus. So it was a holy thing to happen. And another word for “holy” is “good”.

Did Jesus stay on the cross?

No, his friends were allowed to come and take him down from the cross. They took his body and wrapped it up, and then they carried it to a tomb.

You mean a room?

No, a tomb… a tomb is like a cave in rock, and in those days that’s where they put people when they had died. And then a big rock was rolled in front of the tomb and a guard was there keeping an eye on things.

Were his friends sad?

Yes, they were really, really sad. And they comforted each other. And then on the third day, the Sunday, some of Jesus’ friends, some ladies, went up to his tomb.

To take Jesus some flowers?

Something like that. But do you know what they found? Nothing! No Jesus!! And the big huge heavy stone had been rolled away! The tomb was empty, and the guard had no idea what had happened. And then they saw a couple of angels who told them that Jesus was alive! He had come back to life, he had risen from the dead! We call that resurrection. That’s why Easter Sunday is called Resurrection Sunday. The friends of Jesus were amazed, and ran back to their other friends to tell them the good news. It was hard to believe it was true, so Peter, another one of Jesus’ friends came up to the tomb and all he could find were some of the bandages they had wrapped Jesus in before.
Jesus was alive, and he visited with his friends and talked to them some more before going up to Heaven to be with God.

Why did he go back to heaven?

Well, his work on earth was done.

His building work? Had he finished his house?

Not his building work, but the job God had sent him to earth to complete – Jesus had to die as punishment for our sins – the things we do wrong. Because Jesus took the punishment for us, we don’t have to be punished, we can be forgiven and still stay really close to God, even though we make mistakes and do the wrong thing sometimes. But God’s plan was not just Jesus dying on the cross, the most amazing part was that empty tomb. The empty tomb showed us God’s amazing power – God is more powerful than death, so Jesus came back to life! God is the greatest, most powerful king and ruler EVER. And because of Jesus dying on Good Friday but then coming back to life on Resurrection Sunday, we too don’t need to be afraid of dying – we can live forever with God. In fact, with God we don’t need to be afraid of anything!

So… why do we have Easter eggs?

That’s a good question. The hollow chocolate eggs, the ones with nothing inside, can remind us of that empty tomb… there was nothing inside the tomb because Jesus was alive!

Does Jesus know the Easter bunny?

He might do. Jesus is actually really into fun stuff, and people having a good time. The bible says he came so that we may have life, and life in abundance! That means a really fun, happy, full life! At Easter there is heaps of fun stuff around. Some things – like eggs and baby chickens represent new life, the new life we can all have because of what Jesus did. Other things are symbols of spring because in the Northern Hemisphere Easter happens at springtime. It’s not Spring here in New Zealand though, its actually Autumn, but that’s ok – we can still think about Spring and all the new life that happens then when animals are born and chickens hatch out of eggs…

So why does this Easter Egg here in the magazine have a picture of Dora on it?

That, my darling, I just can’t really explain.”

 

 

 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

 

When should we start toilet training?

Toilet training.jpg

Potty! Starting toilet training.

Toilet training often varies from country to country; it may be impacted by culture, environment, and personal experiences. In New Zealand, the average age for children to be toilet trained at night is 3-6 years, statistically boys take longer. I’ve met people from other countries where toilet training occurs much earlier; it sounds like various countries in Asia often start quite early and I’ve met people from the United States who’ve commented that it can almost feel competitive there to have your child toilet trained as early as possible.

In general, in New Zealand we tend to be a bit more relaxed about it. Please remember that toilet training can be immensely stressful for your child. Disposable diapers are now so efficient that often they stay feeling dry even after doing wees; there’s a convenience in being able to wee while you eat breakfast, or play in the sandpit, or chase after your friends. Toilet training means having to stop what your doing, go to another room, fiddle with clothes, undertake a series of steps that everyone expects you to remember, and then go back to whatever you were doing. It can be annoying. It can be scary. It can be miserable wetting your clothes. It can simply feel strange feeling an empty space underneath your bum. It’s important that your child is ready and that they feel safe, supported, and encouraged.

When is my child developmentally ready?

Watch for the following signs:

  • They show signs of bladder control.
    • They can go 2 hours without doing a wee.
    • They can stop & start their wee.
  • They wake up dry from a nap.
  • They show an interest in the toilet and others using it.
  • They have enough language skills that you can teach them words that will form part of your toilet training process (i.e. potty / toilet, wee / poos, flush, wash hands, dry hands, help me).
  • Can follow simple instructions.
  • They feel happy and settled; they are not going through any other changes.
  • Note: Toilet training can be impacted by genetic inheritance (surprisingly!). If one or both of the parents took a long time to toilet train (especially at night) then your child is more likely to do the same.
  • Note: My experience (and talking to many other families) is that the eldest child will often take the longest to be ready to toilet train (sometimes not till after they’re at kindy and seeing other kids use the toilet); younger siblings will often want to start earlier (sometimes at 18m) because they want to be like their big brother or sister.

 

Does gender make a difference?

Yes. In New Zealand:

  • Girls will often show readiness between 20 – 26 months.
  • Boys will often show readiness between 24 – 32 months.

 

How I can help my child feel ready to toilet train?

  • Have an open door policy at home (if you can) and let them come to the toilet with you; let’s face it, most toddlers want to anyway! Talk about needing to go to the toilet and verbalize the steps (like flushing, washing hands etc.).
  • Get a potty and have it available. Ask them each day if they’d like to sit on the potty. Ask them if they’d like a nappy/diaper or undies/knickers. Most days they won’t; persevere – it took a year before mine decided that we were actually toilet training rather than just her having a passing interest.
    • Sometimes younger children will want to roleplay – especially while you’re using the toilet. Let them practice sitting on the potty fully clothed and ‘wiping’ themselves with toilet paper.
    • Sometimes they will ask for undies before they’re ready to use a potty (because they’re friends are using them). That’s fine! Let them wear a nappy over their diapers and get used to the idea. Encourage them to practice putting them on and off themselves. Let them help you choose ones that they like (i.e. they think are pretty / cool / exciting / awesome).
  • Some experts will encourage cloth nappies (so that they can feel being damp) or training pants but discourage nappy pants as delaying / confusing things. Personally, I advocate doing what works for you. My daughter is strong willed and does not respond well to change so I’m going for the long & slow approach; it’s far more practical (and cost effective for me) for her to be in nappy-pants if we leave the house, bare bum / underwear at home, and a nappy at nap / night.
  • Read books about potty training. Often there are lots of picture books at the library so read a few until you find ones that work for you.
  • Consider adding incentives. We started actually potty training because Miss 2 decided that she wanted to see the magic doggy appear. She loves looking down and seeing the doggy appear, then saying ‘Bye Bye Doggy’ as it gets emptied & washed. Apparently the WeePal stickers are also a great way of teaching little boys to aim!

    WeePal stickers

    WeePal stickers

 

When should I see a doctor?

  • If your child has ongoing constipation.
    • Sometimes get scared / uncomfortable about doing poos in the potty. They can get so worked up about it that they literally hold it in by sheer force of will. Talk to your doctor (for help with loosening up that blockage) and let your child know it’s okay to do poos in a nappy until they feel ready to let it go in the potty!
  • Your child says it hurts to go to the toilet.
    • Little girls will more commonly get Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) than boys. Ouch!
  • Frequent little wees.
  • No day training progress by 4 years (to rule out any physical / medical issues).
  • If they are not night trained by 5 or 6 years (again, to rule out any physical/medical issues).

 

For more great tips about toilet training, check out Laura Morley’s workshops, or her FAQs blog on LooLoo Toilet Training Solutions.

 

How to replace soy sauce – introducing coconut amino acids

coconotsoy-sauce

Dairy, Soy, and Gluten Free

Some people search for a replacement for soy sauce for health reasons (such as reducing salt or going paleo) and for others it’s because of food allergies (like gluten or soy). I was really excited while researching alternatives to discover coconut amino acids.

Coconut aminos are a liquid made from the aged sap of coconut blossoms and salt. It is a low-glycemic, vegan, and gluten-free alternative to soy sauce, with 17 amino acids. Coconut aminos have about 65% less sodium than regular soy sauce but still has a rich, sweet-savory flavour. They can be picked up from health food stores, organic stores (like Huckleberry) and some supermarkets.

The brand that was recommended to me was Coco Not Soy Sauce and I used it to make a fabulous Teriyaki Sauce that Miss 2 loved.

Making your own gourmet nut butter – it’s easy!

wp-1485639944207.jpg

Home-made Tree nut butter

Ingredients

  • Raw unsalted nuts.
    • I used a 150g blend that was cashew nuts (51%), almonds (26%), brazil nuts (11%), hazel nuts (6%), macadamia nuts (6%).
  • Oil (I use Rice Bran oil).
  • Salt

Allergies: soy free, dairy free, gluten free, egg free, peanut free.

I posted recently about how easy it is to make peanut butter and wanted to try my hand with tree nuts.

Making your own nut butter can be great if you have a food allergy in your family. It’s handy because you can customize it and experiment with different nuts. It can also be a cost effective way of making nut butter. Often tree nut butters are really expensive but if you’re able to pick up the nuts cheaply then it’s quick to make your own!

Directions

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  1. Roasting gives the nut butter more flavour. You can choose whether you want to buy roasted nuts or roast them yourself (if purchasing pre-roasted, check the type of oil that has been used if you have a soy allergy). Roasting gives the peanut butter more flavour and helps to loosen the oils inside the nuts to blend into a smoother butter.
    • Heat the oven to 180’C / 350’F and toast the nuts till they are golden and glossy with oil. This will take about 10 mins.
  2. Put nuts, a pinch of salt, and a teaspoon of oil into a food processor.
  3. Blend on 10-20 second bursts and scrape down the sides with a plastic spatula as needed. You’ll find it starts off looking a bit like crumbly breadcrumbs – this is normal!
    • I found the tree nuts were a lot tougher than the peanuts and took longer to blend. You don’t want to overheat the motor on your food processor so be kind to it and aim for short bursts on/off!
  4. Continue blending  until shiny and smooth.
    • Add a teaspoon of oil at a time if you’re finding it dry.
  5. Add salt to taste.

Great gift ideas for Baby Showers and expectant mothers

I promised a friend of mine (weeks ago – sorry!) that I would send her the links to some things I’d purchased off AliExpress and musing on that led to this expanded list. They’re numbered for sake of ease but not in order of importance 🙂

  1. Washable bamboo wipes
  2. Washable maternity pads
  3. Washable breast pads
  4. Wet/dry bags
  5. Bibs
  6. Soft toy
  7. Muslin Cloths
  8. Soft blanket
  9. Diapers
  10. Clothes

Note: A number of items on this list are available on AliExpress. I’ve written previously about how AliExpress is awesome. You can find some great bargains for a fraction of retail price, and free international shipping!, if you take the time to search. Keep in mind that delivery can take 2-6 weeks so if you’re ordering them as a gift (or to have before baby arrives) then order in advance.

Scroll down for details and links 🙂

Washable bamboo wipes

bamboo-wipes

I adore my double layer bamboo wipes. They are soft, durable, and have lasted over two years! These are much better quality than the really thin cotton cloths that often sold in shops (and fray easily).

These can be used from baby right up to toddler and beyond. They’re great for wiping up baby spit, baby food, snotty noses, grubby hands, and toddler faces. All you need is a little water to damp them and throw them into the soak bucket afterwards.

These could also be used as washable bottom wipes – just make sure that you choose an area of the body and stick with it!

These sell for around US$1.30 / item (with free shipping). Click here to see one supplier but there are plenty more to choose from.

Washable Maternity Pads

bamboo-maternity-pad

One of the less glamorous aspects of childbirth is six weeks or so of post-partum bleeding after a vaginal birth. There are disposable pads that you can buy from the store but the costs mounts up as you run through them and bamboo pads are so much softer on one’s bruised and battered nether regions (especially if stitches have been required!). If you want to use these exclusively then you probably want six to nine (the reality is that you’ll probably be doing daily washing anyway once the baby is born) with some disposables as back up.

The other nice thing about these is being able to choose pretty patterns! They sell for around US$6.29 / item (with free shipping). Click here to see one supplier but there are plenty more to choose from.

Washable Breast Pads

bamboo-breast-pads

Not everyone leaks but an unexpected let-down of milk can definitely soak through a shirt. A nice and colourful gift can be washable breast pads. The other advantage of natural fibres is that they can be cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Bamboo, again, makes for a soft and durable option. There are lots of options for colours/pattern and they sell for around US$0.67 / item (with free shipping); just keep an eye when looking on minimum numbers for the order. For example, you might pay a little more to get just one pair sent to you, or click here to see an example of a 24 piece lot (so 12 pairs).

Wet/Dry Bags

wet-dry-bags

These are often sold as double zippered (two compartment) bags with a decorated outer and a water-resistant inner coating. The default size is around 30 x 40cm but smaller ones are available as well (at point I was able to find the perfect size small ones for a single formula bottle).

These have so many uses! They are ideal for nappies. For instance, use the front compartment for a plastic case of wet wipes, a tube of nappy cream, and a couple of disposable diapers (or 1 cloth nappy); a used wet nappy can then be rolled up and put in the back pocket till you can dispose of it at home. They’re also great for baby/toddler clothes that have become wet/dirty while out, or for snacks, or for the (mostly) empty formula bottle. They also make really handy bags for jigsaw puzzles!

These simply get thrown in the washing machine and hung out to dry. They’re good for about a year or two before zips start to break or they aren’t as water resistant anymore.

(Note: these are water resistant, not water proof. They’re great for damp clothing or a formula bottle that might leak a little bit but aren’t designed for an upside-down open water bottle!).

There are lots of options for colours/pattern and they sell for around US$3.95 / item (with free shipping); just keep an eye when looking on minimum numbers for the order. For example, you might pay a little more to get just one pair sent to you, or click here to see an example of a 3 piece lot.

Bibs

bibs

Babies go through so many of these! Even before they’re eating, there’s drool. There are lots of options for bibs in stores. My preference ended up being for ones that have a cotton front/back but a waterproof layer in the middle – that way the drool isn’t soaking into the clothes underneath.

The fun thing with bibs is that you can choose some super cute designs. If you decide to go with AliExpress then you’re looking at around US$1.49 / bib  (with free shipping). Click here to see an example with lots of patterns to choose from.

Soft Toy

soft-toy-bunny

As they get older, their soft toy collection will grow and these may no longer be a welcome gift; as babies you can get in right at the start! Aim for something in the 20-30cm range (rather than a 1m tall giant bear) as bubs isn’t going to be too big to start with! Soft and cuddly is also important.

As a parent, when the later winnowing of soft toys may need to occur it’s the ones they’ve had since they were a baby that you often find yourself wanting to nostalgically hold onto.

Muslin Cloth

muslin-cloth

Although these are often still referred to as muslin cloths, you’re more likely to find ones made out of cotton now rather than actual muslin.

These are great for babies. They can be used for swaddling, to lie on, as a shade cloth over the pram, and even as an emergency diaper if you get desperate.

Soft Blanket

soft-fluffy-blanket

A soft fluffy blanket can be a great gift – especially since it’s often to find them in gender neutral colours and patterns. They can last much longer than you’d think. I still have a fluffy baby blanket that was a baby shower gift. My toddler is far too big to sleep under it but she still loves to cuddle it and it makes a great car blanket for her.

Diapers

diapers

Look for disposable diapers (or nappies) that are Newborn size. Aim to buy the smallest (quantity) pack available of a couple of different brands rather than a jumbo box. It’s not just that diapers differ across brands in terms of cost and absorbency, it’s also that they’re all slightly different in terms of cut and size. Some diapers are ideal for chubby thighs, some are ideal for super skinny legs. Every baby is different and it’s a nightmare to come from the hospital only to find out that you’ve stocked up exclusively on a single brand and your baby leaks out the side every single time! I went through several brands with my daughter before working out which brand fitted her best.

Clothing (or clothing vouchers)

baby-clothes

Baby clothes are super cute and so much fun to shop for! Sizing can be tricky though; (here’s a handy sizing chart). The default size for a newborn is: NB / Newborn / 0000. Some babies, like my daughter, will be smaller babies and start off wearing Prem (premature) sizes and others will be bigger babies and start off wearing 0-3 months.

Babies can vary a lot as to how quickly they move sizes (and they do go through a lot of different sized clothes in the first year!) and brands will also vary with their sizing. Sometimes a Size 1 will mean that it will only fit until the child is (approx.) 1 year old and for other brands a Size 1 means that they will only fit after they turn 1 year. Because babies often change a clothing size every 2-3 months it means that their clothes are also very season specific .

If you want to buy clothes then you may want to wait until the baby is born (so you know gender and weight) or buy something that they’ll grow into (just keep seasons in mind). For instance, you might want to buy something super cute that’s size 1 (i.e. like pyjamas) because they’ll be able to wear them approaching their first birthday.

Gift cards for baby clothing stores are also a great idea because that way the parents can pick out something they really need in a suitable size.

Keep in mind that babies will go through a lot of clothes,very quickly, and don’t recognise designer brands. For example, you might get a single item of clothing for $20 at one store and four items of clothing for $20 at another store. If you’re in New Zealand, Baby Factory and T&T have lovely clothes for much cheaper than places like Farmers, Pumpkin Patch, and Cotton On.