Essential Baby Shower Gift Guide

I was very blessed during my first pregnancy as I received a lot of practical gifts and ‘experienced-mom’ to ‘first-time-mom’ advice (it was needed, as I was completely clueless) and so, when my sister found out she was pregnant with her first little girl, I was determined to give her as many practical gifts and advice as possible. Shortly before her recent baby shower, however, I found myself in a baby clothing store (while out on a supposed grocery shopping trip), with a huge basket full of the cutest little baby clothes. I simply could not help myself – it was all just so adorable! And it was all so impractical!

I am a mom and I know what moms with newborns need and it definitely is not that enchanting little tutu (as cute as it seems). Becoming a mom for the first time and trying to figure out what exactly this new baby will need is overwhelming, to say the least, and it is up to moms to give gifts and advice based on their own experiences, gifts which we know this new mom will need and use. I have therefore put together a list of ideal baby shower gifts:

Must-Have Essential Baby Shower Gifts

  • Digital Fever Thermometer – not being able to read your baby’s temperature is scary!
  • Baby movement monitor
  • Toiletries – be practical here and buy unscented, organic products. Not all baby skin types are the same and some react very badly to the perfumed (‘but they smell so nice’) baby products on the market. Also stay away from baby powder unless you want the new mom to use it to ‘freshen up’ her unwashed hair
  • Medical necessities – products for a blocked nose, fever etc
  • Towels and face cloths
  • Blankets, swaddles and ideally a sleeping bag
  • Muslin cloths – these make amazing swaddles, light blankets, burp cloth etc
  • Burp cloths and bibs
  • Grooming kit – containing nail clippers, hair brush etc
  • Diapers – buy a variety of types and sizes so that the mom-to-be can try them all before deciding on a brand she prefers (she might even prefer modern cloth nappies)
  • Wet wipes
  • Practical clothing such as socks, baby grows and clothing in bigger sizes and consider the baby’s age during winter, summer, spring and autumn

Cute Baby Shower Gifts

  • Milestone Cards – these are great for capturing those special moments
  • Something handmade and from the heart – the best gifts are those knitted or crocheted blankets, jerseys, booties and cuddly toys
  • Cute babygrows – because babygrows are always practical and often come with the loveliest sayings
  • Books for mom and child

Practical Baby Shower Gifts

  • Bottle and food warmer
  • Steriliser
  • Safety products for baby proofing – for example, plug covers, safety gates etc
  • Feeding utensils such as bowls, spoons, food freezer trays, sippy cups etc
  • Baby food recipe book
  • Diaper bag
  • Bottles & pacifiers – again, be practical and buy one bottle brand at a time so that the mom-to-be can decide which bottle works best for her baby
  • Breastfeeding essentials such a nipple cream and breast pads
  • Breastfeeding pillow and shawl
  • Disposable change mats
  • Disposable bibs
  • Nappy Sacks

Nice-To-Have Baby Shower Gifts

  • Feeding chair / high chair
  • Baby rocker
  • Mobile camp cot
  • Baby bath
  • Play mat
  • Mobile
  • Toys
  • Teething toys

 

The Hunt for a Healthy Easter

When I was little, Easter was always a big celebration for the family. We would wake up, enjoy a large breakfast (my dad loved making us pancakes) and then head to church. Afterwards, the whole family would gather at one of our homes (we would alternate between my grandparents’, aunts’ & uncles’ and our’s), where all the cousins would wait in anticipation for the big Easter egg hunt, all of us ‘patiently’ hanging around outside. My grandmother would let us know that it was time to fetch our baskets by wildly running through the garden, trying to chase the Easter Bunny, calling on us to quickly look for the eggs.

Although I really want my son to have these amazing memories to look back on one day, I am very apprehensive about giving him a basket full of chocolate eggs to devour in one day.

(That was exactly what I did – and when they were all gone, my sister would get me to do her chores in exchange for her chocolates. My sister is cunning, I tell you. But, I digress.)

I have therefore come up with some healthy alternative treats, which he loves, and which will still allow him the excitement of an Easter egg hunt (without falling into the trap of bribery and corruption for the love of chocolate).

  1. Crunchy Oat Biscuit Easter Parcels

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I love these crunchy oat biscuits, not only because they are delicious, sweet and nutritious, but because Bean always helps me make the biscuits. For Easter, I decided to bake them in small ‘Easter’ themed baking cases, which I then wrapped in pieces of wax paper and tied with different colour ribbons.

Crunchy Oat Biscuit Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Rolled Oats
  • 1/3 cup Almond Butter (any nut butter will work – I always choose an organic option which has no added salt and sugar)
  • 2 tbsp Maple Syrup
  • 1 tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 1 cup (approx. 100gr) Dates (chopped and pitted)

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C
  • Place a container with the almond butter into a bowl with warm water, allowing the butter to soften
  • Combine the oats and the dates into a mixing bowl
  • Mix the almond butter with the maple syrup and pour into the mixing bowl, mixing the wet and dry ingredients together well
  • Using your hands, roll equal amounts of dough into little balls and place these into the baking cases. Place the baking cases onto a baking sheet.
  • Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes
  • Allow the biscuits to cool
  • Place the cooled biscuits onto equally-sized square pieces of wax paper and wrap the wax paper using a ribbon

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Other treat suggestions for these Easter parcels are:

  1.  Refillable Easter Eggs

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I bought these cute little refillable eggs and plan on filling them with the following snacks:

  • Raisins
  • Cranberries
  • Dried Fruit
  • Nuts (broken into smaller pieces as they could be a choking hazard)
  • Popcorn (I make this using coconut oil and a low sulphur salt)
  • Pretzels
  • Blueberries

Bean loves opening containers and mixing all the ingredients together, so, for Easter, I plan on giving him a bowl so that he can mix his ‘own’ trail mix using the ingredients in the eggs.

The filled eggs also make fun rattles.

  1. Easter Toys

Instead of treats only (let’s be honest, a 2-year-old can only eat so much), I plan on hiding a few small gifts in the garden as well. As far as possible, I looked for Easter-themed toys, i.e. in the shape of a duckling or a rabbit, or with Easter-themed pictures stuck on the toy etc.

Here are some examples based on what Bean would love to find (note that these are only guidelines – you can get really creative and make something or buy different toys according to your child’s preferences):

  • Bubbles
  • Ball
  • Magic growing pets
  • Small stuffed toy
  • Rattles
  • Crayons (non-toxic) with an Easter-themed picture
  • Small Puzzle
  • Book
  • Play-doh
  • Stickers

It has been so much fun thinking of ideas to make this Easter special (yet still healthy) for Bean, instead of simply going to the shops to buy some chocolate eggs. I cannot wait to see the excitement on his face and his bubbly exclamations of,  ‘Wow!’ when he finds his treats.

Happy Easter all!

 

Posting Pictures of your Kids Online – What You Need to Know

Being an avid social media follower, I didn’t put much thought into posting pictures of my little Bean online after he as born. I posted pictures shortly after his birth, pictures of our first family outing, pictures of our first family holiday together and much more – these were special moments in my life and, as such, I wanted to share them with my friends and family. With social media being such an easily accessible medium of communication and such an integral part of our daily lives, it was only logical to upload them, share them and to immortalise these memories & moments forever.

I have, however, recently stopped uploading any identifying picture of my little guy (hard as it is sometimes – he is just the cutest after all) and here are the reasons why:

He is His Own Person

Bean, little as he is now, will grow up to become a teenager and adult, who like the rest of us, will want to establish his own online profile and persona on social media. I doubt he will like the fact that the internet is already filled with baby photos and cutesie little moments which might make him cringe (I keep thinking of certain #proudmom moments I have witnessed: a photo of a girl using the potty for the first time, a photo of a boy running around the garden naked and a birthday party photo of a crying one-year-old). I will, of course, give him access to all these photos and videos, but I want him to decide what he wants to share about himself. It is his life after all.

Geotagging of Photos

Did you know that unless you have disabled this function, most modern-day smart phones automatically embed GPS location details into all your photos?  And that these geo-locations are uploaded to any social media platform as part of your photo? As a blogger, I cannot help but live in the public eye, and information like this scares me. It scares me because it means that criminals and predators can see where I am (if I am posting live) immediately and they can get access to my home address, as well as the address of Bean’s school or day care, or any other significant address which might be embedded in any of my photos.

Photo Theft, Manipulation and Loss of Photo Rights

Once the photo is online, you lose control of it: it is stored on a server you have no control over, it can be tagged and shared by friends who might not have the same privacy setting as you and it can be stolen, downloaded and manipulated (without you even knowing about it) to be used by strangers, predators and paedophiles.

Even if you delete the photo from your account (or you delete your account in its entirety), the photo may have been shared to other profiles or tagged by an active account user. It is also stored and backed-up on the social media platform’s server. This means that once the photo is uploaded, it can never be removed. Let that sink in for a while.

Another very important fact is that certain social media platforms give themselves licence to use your photos as they see fit. This means that once the photo is uploaded, you have no control over what that site may do with it.

How to Securely Post Online

Should you still wish to post photos of your children online, be sure to follow these guidelines:

  • Think before you post – who might see/share this? And keep in mind that once it’s uploaded, it’s up. There is no back button.
  • Check the photo for any identifying details which could lead a predator or criminal to you / your child (for example, a car registration number, a name of your school in the background etc)
  • Check your privacy settings
  • Read the terms of conditions of your chosen social media platform
  • Know your friends – go through your list of friends and decide whether they are good friends who you trust or just some random acquaintance who could potentially bring harm to your family? Delete the friends who are not really friends – this is not a popularity contest.
  • Disable GPS functionality on your phone
  • Do not allow other people to post pictures of your children without your consent (and be firm)
  • Do not post pictures of other kids without consent

 

How do you feel about posting pictures of your kids online, dear reader? Tell us!

5 Tips to Beat Sleep Deprivation

If there is one thing that we as a human race should invent, it has to be a system to store sleep. We live in a world filled with technological geniuses who create new inventions almost daily and yet no one has been able to find a scientific solution to the very common problem of sleep deprivation, except, of course, to tell us to sleep more. But as every parent knows, sleep is one luxury that is in very low supply.

This weekend, for example, we went on a much-anticipated date night. When we got home, tired and ready for bed, Bean was wide awake. With difficulty, he finally fell asleep around 2 am, only to wake up again at 6 am. Now, how absolutely amazing would it have been if we could have simply tapped into a supply of stored sleep, instead of getting through our day like a pair of zombies?

Seeing as our scientific community has, however, let us down in this department, I have put together a list of 5 tips to help every parent deal with the continuous lack of sleep.

  1. Stop feeling sorry for yourself

I get it, you are tired. Being a parent means that you probably didn’t get enough sleep last night, or the night before, or even the night before that, but wallowing in a sea of self-pity will only make the situation worse and bring unnecessary negativity into your life and home.

These sleep-deprived days are exhausting, but you need to ‘man up’ as they say, make the best of the day ahead and trust that one day you will sleep again.

  1. Share the load

Take the night and early morning shifts in turns, ask someone to watch your child while you have an afternoon nap (even a 15-minute power nap can work wonders) or indulge in a sneaky snooze while your child naps (the dishes can wait).

If you have no one to share the sleep-deprivation-load with, take a couple of minutes out of every day to simply be. Sit down somewhere alone and just breathe, centre yourself. I often have an extra-long shower in the morning and most of this time is spent simply standing still, letting the water wash over me. It is the only time I have to just be and I relish it.

  1. Ditch the Caffeine & Eat Healthily

Yes, I know, ditching caffeine sounds counterintuitive – coffee is what makes me get through most mornings as well. The good news is that you do not have to give it up altogether, simply in the afternoons and evenings. Believe it or not, sleep is the best cure for sleep deprivation (insert sarcastic wink here) and the best way to guarantee enough sleep is to sleep when your child is sleeping. And that means going to bed early. Having too much caffeine during the day will prevent you from doing this.

Our body gives back what we put into it and the best way to refuel those tired old bones is to eat good food. I can feel the negative effects on my body when I have over-indulged in the bad stuff (specifically food high in preservatives, trans fats, colourants and sugars). I therefore try and stick to a healthy, natural diet, including as many super foods as possible, and it has had a huge impact on my daily energy levels.

  1. Exercise

The benefits of exercise have been well-documented so I am not going to list them all here (you are all aware of them), but I will note that exercise will make any tired body and mind feel refreshed and awake. I often go for early morning walks with Bean (even when I am really tired) and although it feels like a drag in the beginning, those endorphins soon kick in, making me feel fantastic, refreshed and ready for the day ahead.

If you do not have the means or the time to go to the gym or for a long walk, create your own 15-minute exercise circuit at home. You do not need a lot of space or time for this and best of all, your littles can join in on the fun.

  1. Limit screen time before bed

A while ago, I got into the habit of checking my phone, scrolling through all my social media feeds, before going to bed. Not only did this prevent me from going to sleep at a decent time, it often woke me up more when I saw something interesting. I soon realised that this ‘always-on’ mentality is encroaching on my much-needed sleep time, so I stopped it. Now, I read a book: it allows me to escape, to switch off from my daily troubles and to fall asleep peacefully.

A bedroom is supposed to be a sanctity for rest, so remove all screens from your room and invest in an alarm clock. Allow our mind to switch off properly before going to bed.

Maybe one day, we really will have a way in which we can store sleep. For now, the good news is that as our bodies get accustomed to less sleep, we have the opportunity to experience more of our daily lives and our kids in the limited time we have.