Transitioning from a Cot to a Toddler Bed

Transitioning From A Cot to a Toddler Bed at 17 Months Tips CityGirlSearching Blog-01.png

Everly is now 20 months old, and has been sleeping in a ‘bed’ for the last 3 months. She has surprised us all with how well she has transitioned (although this is something I kept reading would happen…that our kids are capable of far more change/independence than we expect) and so I’d like to share how we went about making the change.

Although some people told me Evs was too young to be in a bed, in reality, we didn’t have much choice. Aaron was on the way, and I wanted Everly to have some time to adjust to her new bed (and the freedom that came along with it!) before a new baby entered the house and life as we knew it would change. We also didn’t want to have to buy another cot, preferring to rather put Aaron in the cot and Evs in a bed. While I had planned to put her straight into a regular single sized bed (she has one in her room that was left over from when our new home was a guesthouse…click here to see photos of our home as it barely 6 months ago!) but the bed is an extra high one, and she is still rather little. I wasn’t worried so much about her falling off the bed (in my mind this could be solved with pillows on the floor/a pool noodle put under her sheet etc) it was more the getting back up on the bed that I knew she wouldn’t be able to do unless we had a ladder/box for her to climb on. And seeing as her cot converted into a toddler bed, this seemed like the perfect first step for her. Now that Aaron is getting too big for his bassinet, we will move Evs into the regular bed in her room (maybe by taking the legs off the base/removing the base altogether and just putting the matress on the floor) in the next few weeks and he will go straight into the cot. I’ll also be sharing photos of what her room looked like when she was in her toddler bed soon, and I’ll also share a post of what Aaron’s room looks like while he is in his bassinet. Once Everly is in her new bed, Aaron will then go into the cot and I can finally share photos of the gorgeous custom bedding I had made for his room. Look out for those blog posts coming soon.

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The cot we have is the Stihl from CoziCot (which retails for R4708) but I bought it on special in 2016 for about R3500. The cot comes with toddler panels, and these were pretty easy to put on once the rails were taken down.

I love the simplicity of the cot, and the fact that it has two levels, meaning no more sore backs from lifting baby in and out. The only concern I have had since having it, is once you’ve lowered the cot so the mattress is on the lowest level, the sides have grooves where the cot base fits to raise it to the higher level, and for the more adventurous baby/toddler, these would provide the perfect ‘step’ to break free from their cot. Everly didn’t ever attempt this, which is why I only recently thought about it. We did put cot bumpers on the cot from about 7 months which hides the ‘steps’, but also to bear in mind, Everly was rather slow to reach her physical milestones. She only started crawling at 13 months, and only walked at 17 months. So she wouldn’t have really been able to break out even if she had wanted to. Just something to keep in mind if you’re looking at this cot.

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So, how did we go about actually transitioning Everly?

We didn’t mess around, and basically took down the panels, and she had her first morning nap in it right away. Her first nap she barely moved in her bed, the second nap (she still naps twice a day) was shocking as she got off the bed and straight away bee-lined for the door and opened it. Our house is an old farmhouse, and the door handles are really low, and the latch on the door is very precarious, you can just about blow on it and it will open. And so, once she realised she could open then door, it was all bets off and so, after using all sorts of contraptions to keep the door closed (mainly ties tied around the door handle and a chair) we went out and bought a small hinge lock that secures her door shut. Her first night sleep wasn’t too bad, she got off her bed a couple of times and came to the door winging a bit, but I was most surprised that after 10 minutes she put herself back to bed. We had about 2 days of really horrible day naps, where she cried and cried outside her door, but I would go back in after about 10 - 15 mins and put her back on her bed. Often she would actually put herself back on her bed and cry for a bit longer before passing out. Her night time sleep was not affected at all, and it only took a few days for her day naps to go back to usual, especially once she realised she couldn’t open the door any more.

She did fall off the bed a couple of times in the following weeks, but after a few tears, she always got up again and put herself straight back to bed (I watched her on our video monitor…something I HIGHLY recommend to parents once your little ones are older so you can keep an eye on what they actually get up to when it’s nap/bed time). I think it really helped develop her own confidence to let her sort herself out when she fell off the bed, as I think us going in there every time would have disrupted her sleep. Toddlers are really incredible, and will continue to surprise you all the time at just how much independence they can actually handle (and how much they actually love being able to problem solve!) when given the chance.

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All in all it was a rather quick and easy transition. Something that I do think helped a lot, was to make a big fuss of the fact that she was now going to be in a big girl bed. We also included her in the actual dismantling of the cot (look at her cute cross face when we had to take away the sharp screwdriver so she didn’t stab herself in the eye!).

Making her a part of the physical side of her new bed, and then being firm with her when she got out of bed in the beginning helped too. Giving your little one freedom in their room is a huge step not just for them, but for us as parents too. It’s not for everyone, but I really love the Montessori approach of giving your child the freedom to be independent.

We did go through a few patches of Everly waking up much earlier than usual from her night sleep, but as she could now get off her bed, instead of crying for me to pick her up, she simply got off her bed and would go get books to read on her bed. Although I’m not sure what on earth she was actually looking at as we keep her room pretty dark with block out curtains. We have also gone through a few patches of her resisting her afternoon naps lately. I have spent a few afternoons listening to her play the xylophone for over an hour, but it’s my thinking that as long as she’s quiet and not crying, she can do what she likes in her room during nap time.

Sometimes I do still go in and firmly put her back lying on her bed with her blanket and dummy, and often she does then go back to sleep (we got a video monitor from the time we transitioned her into a bed so we could see what she was getting up to), but sometimes she just lies there quietly singing to her toys/reading her books. I know this might mean she is ready to drop that second nap, but rather than drop the nap time, I am moving towards a ‘rest time’ where she has to be in her room, with the curtains drawn, and I don’t mind if she isn’t actually sleeping at this time. This allows me a bit of breathing room during the day, especially as I have another little one to care for.

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Some things to keep in mind if you are going to allow your little one freedom in their room:

  • Safety wise, you need to make sure the room is completely childproof. We do have a few electronics around her room, but I have moved the plugs and hidden them from view. She has never shown any interest in those plugs, and when she has gone close to them we have been sure to firmly explain that they aren’t for touching.

  • You also need to keen in mind the heights of furniture, and make sure any furniture you have in their room is sturdy and won’t fall over if they climb up onto it.

  • I was also quite ruthless with her toys, as she now has access to all of them. Her chest of drawers is very solid and the drawers are very sticky so she can’t actually open them herself, and then all the other toiletries (wipes, creams, medicines) are put up high out of her reach.

  • Think about what you want to do with the bedroom door. Our old farmhouse is a little trickier with fitting a baby gate onto door frames, and this is why we decided to put a lock on her door from the outside. Everly no longer tries to open the door, so we don’t actually need to use it anymore during the day, but at night we definitely lock her door because I don’t want her roaming around the house while we aren’t there to make sure she’s safe. What friends have done is to put a baby gate on the door frame, meaning you can actually keep their bedroom door open if you want to. What you do to keep your little one ‘contained’ is up to you. Let me know in the comments below if you have any other creative suggestions.

How old was/is your little one when you moved them into a regular bed/plan to move them into a bed? How did the transition go? Let me know if you have any questions about the whole process, and I’d also love to hear how it goes for your toddler makes the big move.

Two Under 2 - an update on life 10 weeks in

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Goodness me the past 10 weeks (technically 12 weeks by the time I have been able to publish this blogpost) have flown by in a hazzy blur. I’m writing this post so I can (hopefully) look back on these days and remember them if there is a third little one in the future. I”m also hoping this post enourages/inspires other moms and dads out there, and helps them in their own parenting journey.

I’m not really sure where to start, or whether what I’m going to share is even going to make sense and not seem like the jumbled thoughts of a half crazed person, but life with two under two is no joke. I don’t think anything can quite prepare you for a second child, just the same as nothing can really prepare you for having your first baby (although friends with 3 kids have said the jump from 2 to 3 is nowhere near as hectic as the jump from 1 2 kids).

As this is a rather long post, I say grab yourself a hot cup of tea or coffee (something I haven’t had in 12 weeks!) and get comfy…

The hardest part of it all so far for me? My expectations of just about everything, from how much I expect Aaron to sleep, to how much I expect to be able to get done in the day.

Everly was a very easy and content little baba. She has always been a really great sleeper, and everyone told me that I just got lucky with her and that I wouldn’t be so lucky the second time around. Because of this (and my rather defiant nature!) I have been determined to prove them wrong…enter my unfair expectations and hence the frustration I have felt towards my little boy more often than I would like to admit. While he is definitely very different to Everly, I think rather than say he isn’t as good a sleeper as she was, I think the actual difference is that I am forgetting all the hard moments with Evs, and comparing Aaron to a very chilled 20 month old toddler who is firmly in her routine when it comes to naps. Also, when you have your first baby, you are able to give them 100% of your time and attention, especially if you are a stay at home mom, or if you work from home (although the fact that I work from home puts another spanner in the works as it’s one more thing to add to the expectation list). I wish I had been more thorough with Everly’s baby book and documented more than I did (although I’m so glad I did actually have a book and that I wrote the few things/memories down that I did…I wish I had noted more often what her routine was like, how much she slept and how often she fed etc) so that I have something to work from when going through the weeks & months with the next baby.

I’m pretty sure that Everly was napping (or rather NOT napping) for that long during the day at this age. I know she went through a patch of cat napping at around the 3/4month mark, but she did settle back into 2 long sleeps if 2-3 hours and one shorter one in the afternoon by the end of 4 months (I think!). I’m hoping I can get Aaron to link his day time naps soon, because those 45minutes that he does sleep fly by in the blink of an eye when you’ve got another one to look after.

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And the next hardest part, trying to figure out a routine for two babies.

I still see Everly as a baby, even though she is technically a toddler. She’s still in nappies (although I’m pretty sure she will be out of them soon as she’s super aware and let’s me know whenever she is making a poo) but she also isn’t that confident of a walker yet (considering she has only actually been walking for 3 months). Thank goodness she is a very independent little thing and has always been very happy to read her books, toddle around and amuse herself. She has taken to the new addition very well, and has not been extra clingy or demanding of my attention. I was worried she would act up when she saw me feeding Aaron, and I had prepared for this with whole basket of new toys for her…but she surprised us all and has just gone about her life as though nothing has changed. I’ve been able to bring out these new toys for her and I to play with when we get a few moments alone together. And while she happily coos over him and talks about her ‘Arrow’, she has handled the disruption to her life (and most importantly) his, what seems like pretty much constant crying, far better than both Farmboy and myself.

Aaron had a very sore tummy from about weeks 5 - 8, and was very unsettled. He just wanted to be held, and he would scrunch up his legs, farting like a trooper, and just generally be very niggly most of the day. I tried just about every colic mixture or tonic I could find, and even though I found Bonnisan to help the most, I genuinely think the only think that cures that unsettledness is time. You WILL eventually get there, and their little tummies will eventually adjust to life outside the womb, but gosh when you’re in the trenches it really feels like it’s never going to end. My best advice is to find another mommy with a little one a similar age to yours so you can vent & encourage one another when the going gets tough.

Cures for colic newborn

What is hard when you are at home all day with your little ones, you really only have 2 hands, both of which are generally needed to take care of one baby. This means you often have to make a choice as to who should be left to cry/winge…and in our house it’s mostly been Aaron who is left to fend for himself as his needs are more simpler to meet. I know that if he has been fed, burped and changed, there really isn’t much more I can do for him if he is crying and I need to feed/help Everly with something. We have left him to cry for longer, and more often than I care to admit, especially over the last couple of weeks as he has really been fighting me at nap time, and I’m lucky if he stretches more than 30 minutes at a time. This really throws me as I am a BIG lover of routine, and right now he has little to no routine. He is also at that awkward stage where he isn’t strong enough to sit or hold his head up, but doesn’t want to just lie in my arms and snuggle. I remember Everly being at the same stage, where she wasn’t really old enough to engage much, but also wasn’t young enough to just be left to stare at a mirror for 15 minutes. We do have a full time nanny who is wonderful, and while her responsibilities mostly revolve around housework, she is amazing with Everly, and Aaron has spent many a happy hour on her back (this is where he sleeps the longest…much to my dismay…I do so vividly remember saying I would never have him carried around by someone and that he would just have to adjust to sleeping properly in his cot…how I have now changed my tune). BUT, even though we are having to work SO hard on his day time naps, he sleeps so well at night that I don’t know if I am allowed to complain about the day. He has been feeding once at night for the past 2 weeks or so, and this feed is usually between 3 & 4am. He then goes right back to sleep till the morning. We generally have to go in once or twice to give him his dummy, but I’ve found if I leave him for 5 minutes, he generally puts himself right back to sleep. So all in all, a baby that sleeps 6 - 3/4am and then until around 6 am must be a happy one? So then what’s up with the day time my boy?!

While I love and use my Ubuntu Baba carrier pretty much every day, what I can’t really do with it is sit down, and I don’t really like standing at a table when I am working on my computer. This is why I am so determined to get Aaron into a good routine for his naps, and have him nap as much as possible in his cot, rather than on me/in a carrier. It’s far less a case of not wanting to create bad sleeping habits, and more a case of me wanting to be able to actually have a bit of time without a baby strapped to me so I can sit down to my computer work (haha perhaps this is more of a dream right now than a reality) or be able to pick Everly up/play with her/wash my cloth nappies etc. But, for those times when he is just SO unhappy and refuses to nap in his bed, my Ubuntu Baba carrier is an absolute life saver, and has enabled me to multi task like nobody’s business…I have successfully breastfeed Aaron, made supper and been able to feed Everly her dinner, all at the same time. I may have collapsed in a head shortly afterwards, but we all survived and I only have the Ubuntu Baba to thank. On that note, make sure you’re following me on Instagram as I will be running an awesome giveaway in collaboration with Ubuntu Babe next month.

This is our routine at the moment…it’s mostly Everly’s routine as Aaron is pretty much unpredictable right now. I also haven’t figured out whether I want to have them both awake/sleeping at the same time so I get a proper break, or whether I actually enjoy being able to spend one-on-one time with each of them while the other one is napping. I also know first hand that just as soon as you think you’ve got things figured out, they go and change things up by learning a new skill, cutting teeth, reacting to vaccinations etc but it makes me feel better to have some sort of loose plan that I’d like them to be on.

Right now, this is what our routine looks like:

  • 6-7am Wake up (They have both been waking up closer to 7am the past week but it can be anytime from 6 on the dot to 7…I leave Everly in her room to chat/read her books till as close to 7 as possible, but Aaron I go in right away as his cry has a way of eating into your very soul). Generally I’ve been able to feed and change Aaron by the time Evs is awake, so then I will go into her room, give her her milk while I change her nappy, and then she comes with me to Aaron’s room where they both have some play time.

  • 8am Aaron’s nap time & Everly has breakfast. Aaron seems to only be able to be awake for about 45mins at this time, and it works well because I can pop him down and then make Everly’s breakfast. He then sleeps anywhere from 45 mins - 2 hours. Although it’s been far more often the 45 minute sort of nap, unless he is tied to Amahle’s back. I give Everly her breakfast and then we go outside for a walk to see the cows, go and feed the chickens or do some gardening together.

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  • 9am/9:30 Everly’s Nap time. Aaron is generally awake around this time and so I then feed and change him, and then we play together until he starts yawning (ideally around 10ish) and then I pop him down for a nap.

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  • 11h30ish Everly wakes up from her nap. I change her nappy and then she potters around the house until lunch time.

  • 12 o’clock lunch time for Everly. Aaron may or may not be napping at this time, but if he is awake I’ll either put him in his baby chair and he watches us have lunch, or I’ll have him in the carrier so I can sort Everly out. Once she’s had her lunch she then has play time.

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  • 2pm - 3pm Everly has another nap/rest time. She isn’t quite ready to drop this nap yet, but doesn’t always actually sleep. I don’t actually mind what she does during this time, but it’s a quiet rime in the house as this seems to be pretty much the only time of the day when their sleeping has coincided. I change her nappy and pop her down on her bed with the curtains drawn, and she either has a small nap, or quietly reads her books/plays with her toys. She still does the odd 2 - 3:30/4pm nap, it all depends on how long her morning nap has been. She has also been generally quite cheerful on the days when she’s missed the nap/quiet time altogether, so perhaps it’s actually me who isn’t ready for her to drop that nap haha. Either way, when she does drop this nap I still plan on making this quiet time where she will be closed in her room to rest. She seems to enjoy this time, and very rarely fights me on it these days. She has gone through patches of being in there for up to two hours, in the dark, singing and playing her xylophone…funny thing. But like I said, as long as she isn’t crying and actually upset, I don’t mind what she does in there during that time.

  • 3-5pm is general chaos. Usually Aaron is having a nap at some point, and Everly is happy to entertain herself to a point. But usually by 4pm I’ve got both kids outside for a walk/play in the garden, with Aaron in the carrier, and I’m silently counting down the minutes until bed time.

  • 5pm supper time for Everly. Aaron is either being held by Dad if Dad is home at this time, or he is still in the carrier, having a little snooze while I buzz about the kitchen getting supper on the go and giving Everly her dinner. I also get both kids pyjamas and nappies ready, as well as their towels and Everly’s milk all laid out for after their bath. I also try to feed Aaron before bath time, no matter how soon before his last feed this ends up being. I want him to have a nice full tummy for the night ahead. Now that it’s winter, this is also usually when Farmboy will light a fire, something that is always a huge delight for Everly.

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  • 6pm bath time for both kids. We have gotten into a nice routine with both babes…I run the bath and then wash Evs and brush her teeth, and spend some quality time with her before hubby undresses Aaron and brings him into the bath where both kids have some fun splash time. I then take Aaron to his room for a nice massage, dress him and then he has a nice long feed. Then it’s a quick burp while I turn off the lights and hum our bedtime song, then a kiss and a cuddle before swaddling him, popping in his dummy and putting him down on our Nurture One Pillow. Hubby brings Everly into Aaron’s room to say goodnight to both of us, and then takes her to her room to get dressed and then she drinks her cup of milk and it’s story time and then straight to bed. Both little ones are down by 6:30pm and we collapse in a heap!

    While Everly sleeps right through, I generally am up feeding Aaron some time between 3 & 4am and then whew…the whole day starts again.

It took a while to get the above routine down, and as much as possible we try to keep it the same even when we go away. Obviously there are times when Everly has nap later than she’d like/miss a nap altogether especially when we are out and about, but I find the routine is as much for the kids as it is for us parents. Aaron pretty much goes along with the flow right now, and as much as I would like to get his routine waxed, only time will tell whether this is even remotely possible with two kids. On that note, please share your routines with me if you have more than 1 babe and how you make it all work! I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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Something I have been asked a lot is how I ‘manage to do so much’ with having two kids. As luck/Murphy’s Law would have it, I have only recently (literally from the last few weeks before Aaron was born) started booking clients for the web design service I offer. I wouldn’t advise offering a new service to clients when you’ve just had a new baby because you will be torn between needing to care for your little one and having to meet deadlines for clients. Having lots of work has really wonderful, in terms of the extra income. I can now justify all the extra cloth nappy purchases I’ve been making (#jokingbutnotreallyjoking).

BUT, because I feel like a lot of you follow me on Instagram and may think I’m some sort of superwomen being able to juggle two kids and work at the same time, I want to say that my Instagram (along with just about every other person I know) is a highlight reel. I share the beautiful and the happy moments on it, and choose not to showcase the hard times (I use my Instagram stories for this because, yes, there are LOADS of hard times and LOADS of moments where I feel like I’m not going to get through the day and LOADS of tears and frustration). But, those moments pass, even when you feel like they won’t, and everything has a season. I’d say right now we are in the middle of a pretty tough season, but I know that we’ll get through it, and that I’ll probably forget just how hard it was. Choosing to share the good and the beautiful is a choice I make, and have always made with this blog and all of my social media accounts. And I hope this is why you follow along, and that the things I share make you smile.

So how do I manage to ‘get so much done’ you may ask? I try to stay very organised. This means I meal prep Everly’s food (so that all that is required for most of her meals is to take something out the freezer the day before). Because we choose to feed her real food (click here to read more about Everly’s way of eating) having her meals prepped before hand takes a lot of stress out of my day. I also make sure to try and make a batch of yoghurt every 2 weeks or so, so even if I run out of snacks, I know I can always rely on keeping her tummy nice and full with homemade yoghurt which she loves. I also believe that you have to prioritise your day, and that a happy mommy is a good mommy. I like being busy, and I enjoy the feeling of being super productive, and so I generally have a million and one things on the go. I love blogging, designing websites & photographing my kids and our lives, and so I make sure to carve out time (even if it’s 10 minutes here and there) to do those things that make me happy. I’ve also finally accepted there is no such thing as a lie in anymore (or any semblance of an afternoon nap), and I try to get up before the kids so I can at least drink a hot cup of coffee and get dressed before the chaos of the day starts. I don’t always get it right, and quite often Farmboy will pop in during the day and find me looking like a complete wreck, with one kid winging at my feet and the other screaming in my arms, but all make it to the end of the day in one peace, fed and relatively happy.

Some pearls of wisdom from my dear friend Sophie: “Aim for a good morning or a good afternoon, it’s very hard to achieve both and this way if it’s been a bad start to the day, you know things can only get better! It’s also much easier to focus on a few hours at a time, a whole day can seem daunting”

Also…celebrate the small wins with chocolate and the hard times with strong coffee! I don’t believe that food plays much of a role in affecting baby through your breastmilk, and I would much rather have the ‘fuel’ of a strong cup of coffee to keep me going through the hard moments, than be left feeling hard done by and then try to function to the best of my abilities…but that’s just my two cents.

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Farmboy is still a farmboy, working hard all day. I often feel like we are ships passing in the night as he is up at 4:30 to go to work when I’m just crawling back into bed after feeding Aaron. Our marriage is strong though, and although we do fight and get frustrated with one another when our expectations aren’t being met (man oh man I believe expectations are the underlying cause of pretty much all fights between couples), we love each other and I would not be able to be the mother I am without him by my side. We do need to work on carving out more moments in the day/week for us to catch up and connect on a deeper level, so if you have any tips on this and how you navigate keeping your marriage strong when there are lots of little ones taking up all your time and energy, I’d love to hear from you too!

So there you have it, a little update on the past 3 months of being a family of 4. I feel like we are slowly emerging from the haze of the past 12 weeks, and I’m looking forward to the chaos (ahem, I mean, fun) that lie ahead in the months to come.

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Our Toddler's Evening routine - what we've done (and still do!) from +-3 months

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Seeing as we now have a toddler and a newborn, I wanted to share the bedtime routine we have done with Everly since she was about 3 months old. I want to write it here so I am also able to reference it in a few months time when Aaron wakes up from is sleepy newborn slumber and starts being more wakeful. Hopefully you find this post useful/interesting, and as always, I’d love to hear from you in the comments if there is anything else you do that you find works for you and your family.

Before having Everly, I was adamant that a baby would just slot into our lives and we wouldn’t be ‘those people’ who plan their day around their little one’s naps. But alas, I have since realised, a happy baby = a happy mommy & daddy and wherever possible, we try to keep to our routine as much for their sake as for our sanity. Everly has always slept well, and slept a lot. It even got to the point where I was googling ‘can a toddler sleep too much’ because the majority of my friends seemed to have babies and toddlers that just ‘hate sleep’. And while I am going to be a bit controversial here (because I’m sure there are little ones out there that REALLY struggle to sleep) I am going to say that the majority of babies/toddlers want & need sleep, they may just need more help to actually get to (and stay!) asleep. Even at 17 months old, Everly still naps twice a day (mostly) and these two naps range from 1.5 - 2.5 hours each. She also sleeps at night on average, for 12 - 13 hours. This post isn’t meant to be an ode to how wonderful my child is (from what I can tell with my friend’s kids, Everly may be more of the exception to the rule than the norm) but I do wish at least one person had shared with me that it is possible to have a good sleeper, and that you shouldn’t feel bad about the fact that your child genuinely needs/wants lots of sleep. I think there are lots of factors that play a role in ‘creating’ a good sleeper (things like diet, routine, patience and a WHOLE lot of strong will when it comes to ‘sleep training’…I’ll share our thoughts on this in another post) but as always, each child is different and each family is different too, you need to find what works for you.

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We have done the same evening & bedtime routine since Everly was about 3 months old. Before that, she just fed & slept anywhere and everywhere. From Day 2 home from the hospital, we put her in her own room, mostly because she was so noisy when she slept, that neither me or hubby could get any sleep. I LOVE the idea of co-sleeping, I just know that it wouldn’t work for our family. I am a very deep sleeper, but Farmboy isn’t, and as he is up at 4h30 every morning to go and milk the cows, co-sleeping is just not something either of us feel would work for us. Having baby/toddler in their own room, away from you so you don’t hear every single sniff and gurgle, helps a whole lot in ensuring a better sleep for mom & dad…but again, if this isn’t for you and you prefer to have baby in your room, that’s a choice completely up to you to make. This post is not a post to bash moms and dads who co-sleep etc but more about sharing what we do and what works for us.

Everly’s evening & bedtime routine

  • Supper is at 5pm.

Everly has been brought up on a low carb, no sugar way of eating right from day 1 of starting solids. If you’re South African, I guess you would say she was & is a Banting Baby (although we aren’t strict with carb counting) and if you’re not sure what Banting is, it’s basically a low carb high fat way of eating. What this means is Everly doesn’t eat any form of processed carbs (no toast/crackers/cereal/pasta etc) and no form of processed sugar (no juice/sweets/chips/cake/commercial kids snack bars etc). You would be surprised at just how much hidden sugar is in most baby food products…and while I can control what she eats, this is how we have chosen to raise her. You may be wondering what on earth I feed my child, so here are all my posts on #whateverlyeats:

I strongly believe diet plays a huge role in sleep/development/overall contentedness (and the same applies to us adults!) and it would be my first suggestion to look at your little ones diet if they are struggling with sleep.

  • Bath & bed time starts at 6pm sharp

If she’s been cranky/hasn’t had proper naps during the day we often start earlier so she’s in bed by 6pm, but very rarely is she in bed past 6h30pm.

Farmboy has always done bath time, as it’s his special time to with her. After her bath, she has her milk (I breastfed her up until 13 months - around the 3 month mark of my second pregnancy, at which time it just became too sore for me, and she got too big to be lying on me and my growing tummy) and that’s when we started her on cows milk. She gets a 150ml non spill cup of milk (it’s raw farm milk…which she has grown up on and is the same milk I used to make her homemade yoghurt which she ate from about 7/9 months old).

We started her milk in a TommeeTippee Explora Cup, and she’s still using it today. Even though this cup is probably more suited to babies than toddlers, Everly wasn’t ever weaned from breast to bottle, we went straight onto asippy/drinking cup from the breast, and so this was her water bottle, and now this is what she gets her milk in. I don’t worry about how much milk she drinks, and didn’t ever measure out exact quantities, even after I stopped breastfeeding. Reason being, she eats a LOT of dairy (mainly cheese and homemade yoghurt) and so I knew she wasn’t ever going to be calcium deficient, even if some days she would only drink a few sips of her milk at bedtime. Whatever she doesn’t drink at night, gets put back in the fridge and she gets that in the morning when she wakes up.

While Farmboy is bathing her, I get her milk ready, close the curtains and put her nightlight on (we use a beautiful pink Quartz lamp that she’s had in her room since she was born) as it gives off the warmest, softest glow. I bought her pink quartz lamp (and the white quartz lamp in Aaron’s room from StaticEnergy in Jhb).

I then lay out her pyjamas and night nappy (we use cloth nappies and the night nappy is always a rather big and bulky situation as it needs to last +-12 hours). Then I say goodnight to her, we say some prayers (when I can remember…I really want to reinforce this with her but haven’t been so great at it up till now) and I leave the room. Farmboy dries her off, puts cream/massage oil on her (we still use and LOVE Pure Beginnings Massage Oil), and then dresses her for bed. She has a dummy (which she has nicknamed ‘Nunni’ and a special sleep time soft toy, ‘Dudu’), which she only gets to have when it’s nap or bedtime.

We’ve always had a bedtime song that we have and still sing at bed time. It’s more of a lullaby that we hum, but it’s such a nice way to reinforce that it’s bedtime. When Everly would wake up often at night, one of us would always use that lullaby to calm her down and help her get back to sleep.

Once she’s dressed, it’s story time. Sometimes she will still have her milk at this point, but we take it away once we leave the room. Story time is mostly a full blown discussion of ‘what’s da’ or ‘what’s that’ as she points to each and every picture in the book. It’s the sweetest thing listening to the Daddy & Daughter chatter before bed. Once story time is done, it’s a quick kiss good night and and ‘I love you’ and then whoever is doing bedtime walks out. 9 times out of 10 she settles quickly. But since getting a video monitor a few months ago, I’ve actually seen that she isn’t always sleeping when I think she is! I don’t mind though, as long as she’s happy and quiet in her bed, I don’t really mind what she’s getting up to. I’ve watched her for over an hour just lying there, legs in the air, playing wit her DuDu and stroking her face with it…funny thing.

We also recently took the sides down of her cot (CoziCot Stijl) and turned it into the toddler bed it’s able to convert into, as we slowly transition her to the single bed in her room. It’s been about 3 weeks of her in her ‘big girl’ bed and it’s been a relatively painless process (blog post to come on that move soon). I was REALLY nervous about the whole thing, especially as she is now able to get in AND out of her bed whenever she wants to, and has free access to everything in her room, but I have been pleasantly surprised at how it’s all gone. I was most worried that her night time sleep would be disrupted by the move, but apart from one night of her falling out the bed, and her waking up slightly earlier than normal (6am instead of 7am), it’s like nothing has changed. I think it’s been such a smooth transition because of the same routine we follow every night. Even when we go away, we follow the same ‘bath, milk, pj’s, story, bed’ routine and 9 times out of 10 she goes down without a fuss. We also, as much as possible, stick to the 6pm bath & bed time routine no matter where she goes to sleep.


I weaned Everly off her last night time/early morning (it was at about 3am) feed at about 7 months. We had a couple of rough nights, but she adjusted quickly. We then went on an overseas trip to the UK, and she went back to demanding that early morning feed, which I went back to giving her during the trip as we were staying in relatively small homes with family and I didn’t want to keep everyone up. But once we got home I weaned her off that feed again and within a few days she went back to sleeping +-12 hours at night.


If you’d like me to share our sleep training ‘methods’ I’d be happy to write about them in a separate post. Hubby and I are very strict when it comes to bed and nap times, and do leave Everly to cry if it’s time to sleep and she’s up and about. This has worked extremely well for us, and I’d be happy to share what we’ve done, right from the beginning…let me know in the comments below!

I hope you’ve found this post interesting. I’d love to hear about your families routine, and what you’ve found works for you. Leave me a comment below, I always enjoy hearing from my readers.

x

An ode to cloth nappies - sharing the love for modern day cloth

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My oh my we have come a loooooonnnng way in our cloth nappy journey. I mean look at how teeny tiny Everly was when we first started. I am very proud to say that we have officially made it to this point, doing cloth full time (not an easy feat!) and we have loved (just about!) every moment of it.

Today I’d like to share more on our cloth journey, along with what brands and types of nappies we love, the ones that worked for us in the beginning, and what works for us now. I’m also always SO happy to answer questions, so please feel free to fire away in the comments section below.

The majority of my nappies have come from wonderful local South African businesses, how amazing is that! While a lot of the fancy brands are from overseas, we have incredibly talented ladies like Kerryn from Pokkelokkie who HANDMAKE their own nappies. Pokkelokkie are hands down my favourite brand for hemp flats, and are worth every cent! I’ve used Kerry'n’s newborn hemp flats right from newborn to toddler, as I now use them to boost absorbency in my other nappies.

Newborn - the first few weeks & months:

We mostly used flats and covers (click here for a full post on newborn cloth) for the newborn phase, until she was able to fit into the OSFM (One Size Fits Most size which is the next sizing in cloth nappies). There are basically just two sizes you need to worry about with cloth nappies (Newborn & OSFM) as most toddlers are out of nappies by the time their OSFM stop fitting. But, a lot of brands do make larger sizes for bigger & older toddlers too. I also had a small selection of bamboo fitteds and then my mom also helped me DIY our own flats and pre-folds that we made from cotton receiving blankets

For night time we used pretty much what we were using during the day (flat and covers). Newborns really do go through a lot of nappies, and we ended up changing every 1.5 - 2 hours on some days. Everly was a wonderful sleeper right from the very beginning, sleeping up to 3 hours at a time during the day between feeds, and generally 5 - 7 hours at a time at night (please can her little brother be like this too!!!) but this did mean that her night time nappies really needed to be able to hold up for those long stretches. I would use two hemp flats folded together in origami fold, with a bamboo booster at night, and then a cover.

Here are the types and brands we used (I’m linking to the online stores where you can buy them too…although I can see that some of these particular styles from certain brand are no longer in their stores):

+/-Month 4 - 11

Once Everly got to be about 6kgs, she was finally able to fit (sort of) into the ‘easier’ types of nappies. I say easier, as pockets and AIO (All in One’s) don’t require any folding, you just put them on the same way you would put on a disposable and you’re good to go. We used a mixture of pockets and AIO’s, and then still used flats and covers too.

For nighttime, I found pockets and AIO’s weren’t absorbent enough, and so alternated between flats and covers, and Little Lamb Bamboo Fitteds with a cover.

  • Pockets - a mixture of pre-loved Charlie Banana pockets which were sent to me by a friend in the US and then new Biddykins pockets. I was able to use a microfibre inserts in her pockets until about 5/6 months, after which I had to add a bamboo with the microfibre for more absorbancy. At around 8 months I got rid of the microfibre completely and boosted her pockets with a bamboo and a hemp insert. My bamboo inserts are from Little Lambs and the hemp inserts are from Biddykins.

  • AIO’s - a mixture from Biddykins and Pipapo

  • Hemp Flats - a mixture bought preloved & new in medium size (60cm x 60cm) from SugaBums & Fluff & Stuff

  • Covers: Buttons & Blueberry Coveralls (bought overseas but I have linked to South African stores where you can get your hands on them)

I do have a good giggle when I see how big some of the nappies look on Everly in the photos below. It can be a bit of a struggle getting a good fit when their legs are so teeny tiny, but (apart from the Charlie Banana pockets) she is still wearing the nappies pictured below today (almost a year later!).

A year on and still going strong

Once Everly got to be about a year, her ‘output’ increased drastically, and I found I needed to boost all of her nappies a lot. I also started changing her before every nap, as well as changing after her naps.

I still use a bamboo with a hemp insert with her pockets, and sometimes boost her AIO’s with either a pad folded hemp flat, or a hemp/bamboo insert.

Now her stash is mostly made up of pockets, SIO (Snap in One’s) and AIO’s for daytime, and then for night time I use a mixture of hemp flats, pre-folds and bamboo fitteds. I was using Little Lamb Bamboo Fitteds, but found that they weren’t holding up very well and I was getting leaks. There are loads of great tips for troubleshooting leaks, but I found that I was having to boost the nappy so much that it was just so big and bulky, that her covers wouldn’t fit properly and thats why I was getting leaks. But we used these Little Lamb fitteds from about 8 months to now. I have been using the same 3 Blueberry waterproof covers since newborn to now, they are my absolute favourite covers, with soft elastic at the legs, and a double gusset to prevent leaks.

Everly’s Daytime Nappies:

  • She has a mixture of SIO’s (Snap In One’s) or All-In-Two’s from Grovia (which you will soon be able to buy from Biddykins) these are the purple and pink ones below, and I love the Grovia O.N.E.’s. She also has two very special Kylie Co nappies (the floral and white woodland one below), and she also has a couple of Buttons covers and inserts:

Everly’s Nightime Nappies

  • I have two winged Hemp Pre-folds from Kanini. These are the grey ones below. I boost these with a Pokkelokkie newborn hemp flat (these are the same ones I used on Everly when she was a newborn…you really will use your newborn flats all throughout your cloth journey!) which I fold in three, and then a LittleLamb Bamboo Insert.

  • I have 2 Bamboo Fitteds from Sloomb that we only recently got to add to her stash. I got these from a Canadian site called Lagoon Baby and had family bring them over.

  • I have 3 waterproof covers from Blueberry (these are the same ones I used on Everly when she was teeny tiny…they are well worth the price!) but you can also buy lovely covers from Biddykins.

  • Snappies to fasten nappies (I bought most of my Snappies from Pep).

And now for some incredibly cute on the bum shots:

My stash has changed a lot over the past 16 months, and I’m glad I took everyones advice when I started down this path, and that was not to buy all of the same brand/type before baby arrived. I was advised to build up a variety of brands and types, so that I could see what fitted baby the best, as well as what styles I preferred to use. I had family visit the UK just before Everly arrived, and that’s where I bought a lot of my ‘fancier’ overseas brands to try out. Cloth nappies can be as cheap or as expensive as make them, and trust me when I say it becomes addictive! I also bought a variety of nappies pre-loved (second hand) from the South African Cloth Diaper Buy/Sell/Trade Facebook group. This is an excellent place to start looking and building up your stash because you can get some great deals on nappies that people bought but didn’t end up using/didn’t work for them.

I also HIGHLY recommend browsing through the South African Cloth Nappy Users website, as they have everything you need to know about where to start with cloth nappies, how to troubleshoot problems you may experiece along the way, as well as loads of info on all things cloth.

Here are all my posts on cloth nappies (including how to do newborn cloth and what we used, as well as how to wash your nappies).

Let me know if you have any questions at all…I really am passionate about cloth and love sharing what I’ve learned with people.

34 Weeks pregnant with Baby#2 & an update on my hopes for a VBAC

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Well, this pregnancy sure has flown by, and yet in some ways it feels like I have been pregnant for forever. And what they say about your second pregnancy being a bit of a blur, is completely true! I’m doing my best to capture this pregnancy, and to keep up Baby Boy’s journal ( bough both Everly’s and BabyBoys journals from Typo!), but there are only so many hours in a day and when most of them are spent running after a busy toddler, it doesn’t leave much time to daydream about what life is going to be like when he arrives. In some ways I’m almost glad, as the moments I do have to sit and wonder about what life will be like, I’m left pretty much terrified (in a good kind of way haha). I have zero idea of what life is going to be like with two under two, and as Everly isn’t walking yet (she’s 16 months old now and although she’s cruising along everywhere, pulling herself up on everything, pushing her trolley around everywhere & has taken quite a few steps on her own…she is still not officially walking). While I’m not worried about this from a developmental point of view (I mean, she only started crawling just after her first birthday) it’s more of a worry for me as she is so darn heavy and I’ve already got nearly 20kg’s of baby weight on my front…and so picking up another 12 - 15kg’s in the form of a squirming toddler is not my idea of fun. I’m not up for that kind of cross fit session every time we have to go anywhere ;)

She’ll get there eventually, I just hope it’s before her brother is due to arrive in +-6 weeks time!


Today I wanted to share a bit more about my hopes & dreams for a VBAC.

A VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarian…aka a natural birth after a caesar) has been my dream ever since Everly was born via emergency c-section in September 2017. I do plan on sharing her birth story (if anyone is interested in that) but to sum it up I went into labor naturally, and after 36 hours of unmedicated labor, my cervix started hardening (I was already 7cm dilated) but she just wasn’t progressing any further. I have a lot of ‘what ifs’ and ‘If onlys’ but after that amount of time, as well as my doctor and the nurses worrying about her being in distress (not to mention how exhausted I was) and so I was rushed off to theatre and my little girl was born a mere 30 minutes later. It wasn’t what I had planned, but she was born healthy & safe, and even though it was not the sort of birth I had hoped for, I don’t feel any remorse about it. I just feel a lot of determination that it will go differently this time.

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In saying that, I have come a long way in the past 7 & a half months with regards to my mindset and I’ve realised that what is most important for me, is just to go into labor naturally. I want my baby to choose his own birthday, to be ready to join the world, and for my body to be ready too. I’ve realised that in some ways a Caesar is ‘nicer’ if I can put it that way (no tearing/cutting, a longer stay in the hotel ahem I mean hospital) but the recovery time is much longer than a natural birth, and trying to recover from a second c-section, feed and care for a newborn AND look after a busy toddler is not going to be easy.

VBAC’s in South Africa

Just a little note…these are my own thoughts & perceptions from months and months of research & spending time chatting to care providers and other moms, I am in no way bashing the health system here, but rather sharing my own personal views.

South Africa, in general, is not very VBAC friendly. Most gynaes are not very keen on the idea (I say most, because up until recently I didn’t even know that it was an option to try for a natural birth after having a ceasar as it’s not something the majority of gynaes support). I am generalising, as there are some incredible VBAC pro gynaes out there, but they are few and far between, and there are lots of reasons for this.

First of all, most gynaes will tell you that the biggest risk of a VBAC is your uterus rupturing. While there is a chance of this happening, the actual statistics are soooooo tiny (it’s less than 1%), and there is only a slightly lower risk of this happening even with a regular, first time vaginal birth. Anyway, this post is not supposed to be a rant on gynaes and their choices to avoid ‘risk’, but rather to share my feeling and decisions in wanting to pursue a VBAC.

There are also lots of factors that affect a positive outcome for a VBAC, and a lot has to do with the reasons why you may have had to have a Caesarian in the first place, as well as the type of scar you have (these days its most common for a Low Transverse Incisions to be done…this is from the top left and across). If you had an elective caesar the first time around, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to birth naturally. If, like me, you had an emergency caesar, it can change things a bit as your doctor would worry about whatever happened to prevent a natural delivery the first time, happening again.

If you are wanting to explore the option of a VBAC further, I would HIGHLY recommend joining the VBAC in South Africa facebook group. There are loads of wonderful ladies in that group sharing their experiences, their VBAC successes and failures, as well as LOADS of information of VBAC’s here in SA.

Did you know that Government hospitals will push for a VBAC due to the immense cost & labour (ie staff required) of caesarians, preferring for the mom to rather attempt a natural delivery than have a repeat caesarian. This really should highlight just how normal the idea of a natural delivery after a c-section is.

Here in South Africa, most gyna’es have a very strict tick box list for a VBAC in hospital (these may vary slightly, and some gynaes may differ/be open to changes but these are the general guidelines:

  • Baby must weigh 3.5kg’s or less at birth

  • You must go into spontaneous labor (ie your body has to go into labor naturally) by 38/39/40 weeks

  • Labor has to progress by 1cm an hour

  • There should be at lest a 2 year gap between your last birth and your current due date

From what I have read and from the many, many ladies I have spoken to about this, the highest chance of a successful VBAC is to have a home birth with a midwife & a doula. While I love the idea of a home birth, I’m not sure it would be something I would actually pursue, and the fact that I live 1.5 hours from the nearest hospital basically rules out that option, especially for a VBAC, when most midwives wouldn’t attempt a home birth for a VBAC as if things do go wrong, you need to be able to get to a hospital as fast as possible.

Your second best chance for a successful VBAC is a hospital birth, but with a midwife as your primary caregiver, and a Gynae as backup. This is a tricky one, and unless you really strike it lucky with a Gynae who agrees to be ‘on stand by should things go wrong’ it’s not easy to make happen. It’s different if you live in Joburg or Cape Town, as then you have the option of a clinic like Genesis, which is midwife led, and whose whole focus is on a natural delivery. I visited Genesis in Joburg for my second trimester abnormally scan, and it was just the most incredible place. I even considered moving in with my family in Joburg for the last few months of my pregnancy, just so I could give birth there…but then came to my senses when I had to ask myself if would really be happy being away from my husband for those months, and also would he be happy to be away from me and his little girl during that time.

Third option, and the one I have had to settle for due to my own personal circumstances (basically, the fact that I live out in the middle of nowhere!) is to have a hospital birth with a VBAC pro gynae. There are not a lot of options for VBAC pro gynaes in Pietermaritzburg, and in my months of research, have realised there is a big difference between a VBAC pro gynae and a VBAC friendly gynae. A VBAC friendly gynae is open to the idea, but they are far more risk adverse than a VBAC pro gynae, and the chances of a successful VBAC are much lower. Anyway, beggars can’t be choosers, and I have found a VBAC friendly gynae (she was the gynae who actually delivered Everly as my doctor just so happened to be overseas when I went into labor) and so as she actually did my surgery, I decided to go with her for my second pregnancy. She was very blunt with me in the beginning, not saying no to a VBAC, but not being very hopeful either. She just told me we would have to see how my pregnancy progressed, and gave her strict list of labor protocol. I left every check up with her ( up until about 28 weeks) feeling despondent, and not at all hopeful for my VBAC. I even considered changing gynaes several times…I just wanted someone to give me the chance and to be encouraging and positive about a VBAC. I wasn’t looking for anyone to make any promises to me (after all…I have first hand experience of how things can change during labor) but she was very honest and pragmatic about the whole thing, and I really respect her for this now. She didn’t want to give me an false hope, and I’ve realised it’s not her job to feed into my birthing fantasy, when she knows there is no actual way to know what will happen during your pregnancy, never mind during the actual birth.

I think the guidelines above make it pretty much impossible (if followed 100%) to have a VBAC. First of all, the weight scans during check ups are estimates…Everly was estimated to be 3.5kg’s at birth and was born at 3.085. Not many women (generally speaking) actually go into labor naturally before 40 weeks…many are induced (something that is not recommended for a VBAC as labor can progress very quickly once induction has taken place, and this places a greater stress on your scar tissue. For labor to progress by 1cm an hour is pretty much ideal textbook stuff, and not likely that most women’s bodies would follow this ideal. The age gap stated is to give your body and scar an adequate amount of time to heal, but some women heal faster than others, some scars heal better than others, and so this is a very hard guideline to follow. I have heard most midwives prefer an 18 month gap, and no less. But then again, there are always exceptions and I have read about amazing mommies who have had successful VBAC’s with a 11/12/13 month gap. My gap will be about 17.5 months if baby arrives at 40 weeks.

It was at my 28 week scan when my Gynae told me that although she does elective caesars at 38 weeks, she was willing to make an exception and allow me to go to 39 weeks for spontaneous labor. I was happy to compromise on this, and considering Everly arrived at 38 weeks (and apparently second time labor is likely to be early too) I felt confident that my labor would begin before then. If not, I agreed to set a date for my repeat caesar. I have just gotten back from my 33 week check up, and Doctor was very happy with how things are looking and has told me, that as long as everything is else is in order (ie no complications, baby is in the right position etc) she is happy to let me go to 40 weeks. I am delighted with the news! So, according to my original due date, I’ve got until the 22nd Feb to go into labor naturally. I will be doing ALL the things to try and ensure this happens, but as I mentioned above, I am far more at peace with a repeat ceasar that I was before and now will just have to wait and see what happens in the next 6 weeks.

I’ve got my wonderful Doula, Clare, at the ready (Clare was by my side through my entire labor with Everly and I know I would not have been able to make it as far as I did without her) and was one of the first people I told I was pregnant this second time, and told her to make sure she had a note in her diary for mid/end Feb! All that I can do now is wait, stay healthy, keep active (do my kegels, bounce on my Pilates ball) and be patient.


If you’re still following along after the above very long VBAC related discussion, here are some more general thoughts and feelings on how the last 10 weeks of my second pregnancy have been. Click here to read my first post on how this second pregnancy has been.

My Body

Following on from the tummy comparison I shared above, here is a comparison of me at 33 weeks with Everly (on the right) and now with BabyBoy (pictured left).

I am also absolutely amazing at how different women gain weight in their pregnancies. I gained 18kg’s with Everly, and am already at the 18kg mark now with BabyBoy and I still have +-6 weeks to go. I was lucky in that I lost all (and then some) of my pregnancy weight within about 8 months (thanks to breastfeeding and following our regular low carb lifestyle). It’s still rather shocking when you think that baby only weighs, in my case, about +-3-3.5kgs…where does the rest of the weight come from!? I do like to remind my pregnant friends not to worry about their weight gain during or after pregnancy, because you just never know what your body is going to do, or how it will respond afterwards. Rather worry about getting back into shape once you and your baby have had a good chance to get to know each other. Don’t let it consume your thoughts, your body goes through an incredible transformation, and we need to be kinder to ourselves.

My skin started clearing up around the 6 month mark (thank goodness!) but I’ve still got cracked heels (apparantly this is from the weight gain). I’ve been lucky enough not to get any stretch marks again (holding thumbs it stays this way for the rest of my pregnancy) but have been religious with lathering BioOil on after each and every shower.

I am sleeping better, but it doesn’t help that I’m awake at 04:30 every morning when Farmboy goes to work, but I usually wake up that time to go to the loo. I have also had less round ligament pain this time, but I think that’s only because I now know to sleep with 4 pillows (one at my back, one at my tummy, one between my legs and one for my head!).

This boy is SOOOO active compared to Everly. I barely felt Everly kick, and every time she did it would be a wonderful little surprise. This guy hardly ever keeps still! He has hiccups none-stop, pushes and prods me with his legs/arms/bum and uses my poor organs as punching bags regularly. I’m hoping this is’t a sign of things to come, as Everly was the most contented baby & toddler, happy to sit around and play with her books and toys by herself for ages. I have a feeling this little guy is going to be a real busy body…who knows, maybe he will be walking before his sister haha #ImOnlyHalfJoking.

My Mind

Gosh, it’s still not real that a second little human is going to be joining our family soon. And to be very honest, I haven’t given it too much thought as my days revolve around Everly. We also moved house at the end of November (this was incredibly hectic!) and so most of the past 2 months have been spent sorting and organizing our home. Having said all of that, I am SLOWLY adjusting to the idea of being a boy mom (although I’m really struggling to come to grips with all the blue!) but I am excited and I just know Everly is going to adore her little play thing ahem, I mean brother.

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Everly

Thanks to the advice of lots of friend and family, we bought Everly a little doll and gave it to her a little while ago. Oh my goodness if this hasn’t just been her absolute favourite thing in the whole world. She calls it her Baba (she has stopped referring to everything under the sun as ‘Baba’) and now the only Baba’s she talks about are her doll, and my tummy. She will often sporadically point at my tummy and say ‘baba’ and loves to lift my shirt up to see my tummy, after which she will give it a little cuddle (or rather a headbut sort of thing which is her version of a cuddle) and then carefully pull my top back down again. It’s the cutest thing!

Her little doll came with a magnetic dummy (genius!) and is just the right size for her. I found it at PicknPay after hours of looking around all the shops and feeling totally overwhelmed by the sheer variety of dolls. So many of them were really plasticky looking, and I wanted something simple…and small enough for her to carry herself. I have also been absolutely amazed by how she has started caring for her baby. She insists on wrapping her in a little blanket (I never showed her how to do this!) and will often share her milk with it, and puts the dummy in and cuddles it while giving it bum pats. I’m amazed at her natural mothering instinct.

Do you have any tips for introducing a young toddler (Everly will be about 17 months old when her brother arrives) to their new baby sibling? Friends have suggested getting her a special present that comes especially from her brother, which I love the idea of (any ideas of things that would make good presents for her?). I’d also love to hear any tips you may have for the actual first introduction, as I have no idea if there is a ‘best way’ to go about it.

Everly is still in her cot, but we plan on taking down the sides of it this week to convert it into a toddler bed, and are holding thumbs the transition won’t be too hard on her.

Ideally she will be sleeping in the single bed that’s in her room now by the time BabyBoy is here. But we aren’t going to rush that just yet, as he won’t need the cot for a good while still.

The Nursery

While BabyBoy is going to be using most of Everly’s nursery furniture (compactum, feeding chair, bassinet) there are a few things I’m changing, the first being the general ‘theme’ of his room. We are doing a constellation theme, and as I have really struggled to find beautiful decor items that match our theme so far, I’ve been in touch with the lovely ladies behind Riley & Fox Bespoke Nursery Linen and have had some custom linen items made just for him.

Here are some photos of how the nursery is looking so far, and of course Everly has had a ball ‘helping’ me get his room ready:

Still to be added:

  • the family bassinet

  • custom prints on the wall next to the compactum

  • floating shelf of some kind in place of the bookshelf

  • a nightlight (we used and still use a beautiful pink Rose Quartz lamp in Everly’s room) and I’m planning on getting a white salt lamp that will also give off a lovely soft glow

  • and when he gets a little older, he will go into Everly’s cot (although I haven’t quite figured out where the cot will go in the room as right now there really isn’t any space. There’s still lots of time to worry about that though, and we might take the bed out when the time comes for him to go in the cot, and put the cot where the bed is now

What I AM sorted with though is all his cloth nappies! While I did try to buy mostly gender neutral nappies with Everly, I have gotten a little carried away with boy prints this time around and have a beautiful stash of both newborn and OSFM (One Size Fits Most) nappies for when he gets a bit older. I’ll share more on his nappies in another post soon.

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I hope you enjoyed this update.

Thanks for following along! Feel free to ask me anything/leave a comment below, I love hearing from you.

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15 months - What Everly Eats along with tips & ideas for your little one

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I haven’t done a post on Everly and her eating habits for a while, and so thought it time to remedy that and hopefully inspire you with some meal ideas. And at the same time, I’d love to hear from you in the comments as to what your little ones are eating to help inspire me!

In case your new around these parts, Everly eats a pretty much Banting/LowCarbHighFat diet with no processed foods or sugar. This means she doesn’t get bread or pasta, and lives off of meat, fish, veggies, lots of full cream dairy products, loads of eggs and a bit of fruit. She’s a healthy, happy chubby baby and is never sick (I could chalk this up to good genes and the fact that I breastfed her till over a year) but I really believe her diet plays a big role in her health). I don’t judge any of my fellow moms, we all make our own choices, but we choose not to give our daughter anything processed (and try as much as we can to steer clear of store bought baby food….although those food pouches have their place!). This decision isn’t an easy one, especially when it comes to birthday parties, but like I tell family and friends, while I am able to control what Everly eats 99% of the time, I want the food going in to nourish her completely, and so she’s stuck with a mom who feeds her chicken liver sardines ;) It’s also a lot more work to prepare your own baby food, but as with our decision to do cloth nappies, you get into a routine and it just becomes a part of your day. Also, a low carb ‘diet’ (although I hate that word and my little girl is not on a diet…let’s go with the term lifestyle) doesn’t mean NO carb. We don’t count carbs at all like a lot of very strict Banters, but as we also eat a pretty low carb diet, we swop out white potatoes for sweet potatoes, and the veggies she eats regularly are butternut, sweet potatoes, beans, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots.

Here are my older posts on our journey to solids:

I’m 7 months pregnant with Baby#2 and so haven’t been feeling the most inventive when it comes to preparing meals, and as much as I love the idea of Everly eating what we eat, our meals are pretty sporadic too, and we eat a lot later than her so she either eats leftovers the next day or I end up preparing her something much earlier on in the day. This leaves me only feeling up to opening a tin of tuna by the time supper time comes around for us.

Also…how many days can a child survive on cheese alone?!?!? I remember seeing my friend Deborah post about that a few weeks ago and I really had a good giggle. While Everly is a pretty amazing eater and gobbles down just about everything we throw at her, she has been very fussy with texture lately. It’s really strange as she will eat hard/crunchy/very textured things but then went through a funny stage of refusing meat and spitting out most of the food I’d try give her. After a week or so of VERY frustrating meal times, I realised it would very unlikely that she would starve herself and we seem to be coming out of that phase.

My friend Sophie gave me some wonderful words of encouragement. She said it’s our jobs as moms to decide when baby eats and what they eat, and for them to decide on how much they want to eat. This helped me a lot during what felt like a very dark time. Luckily we are out of that fussy season, but it really just goes to show you that ALL babies/toddlers go through phases and they do (hopefully for everyone!) emerge and return to their old selves before you know it.


Here is Everly’s current rough schedule:

  • 6 - 7am wake up (I give her a spill proof cup of milk to drink in bed while she ‘logs on’ in the morning). I also leave her in her bed till about 7am as most of the time she is happily playing with her teddy and talking to herself at this time. I also give her a book or two to look at which generally keeps her occupied for a good 20 minutes or so.

  • 8am Breakfast

  • 9am - anywhere between 10h30/11h30 nap time

  • 12 lunch

  • 1h30/2pm - 3ish nap time

  • 4pm snack

  • 5pm dinner

  • 6pm bath, dressed for bed with a cup of milk, story and bed by 18h30


Here are some ideas for meals and snacks that I give Evs.

I find I go through patches of being super inspired to whip up gourmet meals, and other days where pieces of cheese and baby tomatoes seem to be like the loaves & fishes and keep her going.

Breakfast

  • Scrambled Eggs (I whisk 2 eggs and a dollop of cream cheese together and add that to a pan of melted butter) and cook. I keep the eggs soft as I am not a fan of rubbery, dry scrambled eggs! Everly eats scrambled eggs pretty much every day of the week, and then I throw in a breakfast or two (if it last that long!) of chia porridge.

  • Chia Chocolate Porridge: this is a great recipe from the Real Meal Revolution: Raising Superheroes book for Kids by Tim Noakes. This is where I usually turn for low carb meal inspiration.

  • Both of the above are usually followed by a bowl/cup (I still use and LOVE these Avent breastmilk storage cups for storing/freezing/feeding Everly her food) of full cream, homemade yoghurt with either a pinch of cinnamon or some frozen berries.

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Lunch & Snacks

Lunch is usually a mix of whatever I have on hand, so veggies she can feed herself and then some leftovers…usually followed by another cup of yoghurt or fruit she can chew on herself. I mostly end up doing snacky type foods at lunch time:

  • chopped up cherry tomatoes

  • pitted olives - you’d be surprised at the flavors your toddler may enjoy! Everly is currently VERY into olives.

  • blocks of cheese/squares of Kiri cream cheese

  • half a tin of tuna/oven baked hake in butter (recipe posted below)

  • roasted vegetables (I usually do a tray of sweet potatoes or butternut that lasts for a few days). Simply chop up veggies of your choice, drizzle with oil (I usually use avocado oil or butter) and then sprinkle with your choice of herbs. Roast in the oven until crunchy and serve warm.

  • beans (I’ve only just realised how great canned beans are!). Farmboy is going through a bean phase, so there are usually leftovers from his lunch. Kidney beans & butter beans are a favourite at the moment. These are also the perfect thing for little fingers to pick up.

  • steamed veggies (Broccoli, green beans and cauliflower etc.)

  • leftover braai meat (boerewors/sausages are a firm favourite in our household!)

  • whole fruit - Everly annihilates apples…like, whole, the entire thing, core, peel and all! Lots of great fibre in those fruit peels! I usually give her Granny Smith apples so she doesn’t get hooked on the sweetness.

  • biltong/drywors - often biltong/drywors can be covered in salt an flavourings…simply rinse until cold running water and dry off before giving to your little one…the fattier the better ;) Just keep an eye when giving them drywors as sometimes the skin casing can get a bit stringy and be a potential choking hazard.


Dinner

For supper I like to give Everly a big meal so she goes to bed with a full tummy that lasts her through the night. She sleeps from 6 - 6/7 (long may this last!) and so needs lots of good & nutritious food to keep her content. I often cook up a big stew on a Sunday night that lasts the week, and then I freezer portions of it for future meals (again, those Avent cups I mentioned above are perfect for freezing food!).

  • Lamb/Beef Stew: using a slow cooker, I brown the meat (usually lamb or beef…you can buy cheaper cuts of meat at the butcher and remember, the fattier the better!) in lots of butter & garlic, add a chopped up onion, chop up what ever veggies you have on hand (I usually use sweet potatoes, butternut, celery, carrots), chuck in a tin of chopped tomatoes (I vary the flavour by using either the plain/Indian/Italian flavoured tins), a cup of barley, a cup of lentils/tin of mixed beans, and then top up with water and leave it overnight to stew. I serve it as it, as it’s got all the veggies in it, and then I usually follow with some fruit, depending on the season, it’s often blueberries or starwberries etc. Alternatively Everly has more yoghurt.

  • Oven roasted hake: I buy the Woolworths frozen hake fillets and pop them (frozen) into a dish with loads of butter, some garlic and then sprinkle with herbs. I then usually serve this with steamed broccoli & cauliflower and brown rice. This is a nice finger meal if your little one likes to feed themselves.

  • Liver Pate: Liver is an INCREDIBLE brain boosting food packed full of nutrients for your little one. You can buy tubs of chicken livers from the butcher/grocery store, but you can also use all those left over bits that usually accompany a chicken (giblets, kidney, liver…basically the offal). I know it sounds really gross, and while I’m not the hugest fan of the giblets etc when they are cooked up they taste rather yum! I pop whatever I’m using to make the pate (liver/giblets etc) into a pan with lots of butter and a bit of garlic and onion, fry until just brown, and then add to a blender with a dollop of cream cheese and blitz until smooth. I freeze this in smaller containers as it’s very rich, and your little one probably won’t eat that much of this at a time. This was one of the first foods I gave Everly, and often serve it with steamed veggies (nice for the first few months of weaning as it’s easy to add to pureed veggies). It’s also nice to add to a soft boiled egg, mashed up or serve it with pieces/mashed up avo…depending on how your little one does with texture.

Treats

Ideas for treating your little one, while still ensuring they are able to steer clear of added sugars and other nasties:

  • Ice-lollies: I bought these awesome lolly moulds from PouchLove (R155 for a pack of 4) and Everly loves them! I use rooibos tea (I make litres of the Apple Kids flavor) and keep that in the fridge for me to drink all day, and it makes a really great base for ice lollies! Then I just add whatever bits of fruit I have on hand…Everly loves blueberries and strawberries so that’s what I usually add. Then pop in the freezer over night and voila! The perfect healthy, summer keep-cool treat. They are re-useable and there are endless ideas for different flavors. I think this would also be a a great way to serve soup or chicken/beef/lamb stock on a hot day (I am MAD about stocks and made litres and litres of the stuff for Everly when was just starting solids. It was a great way to make pureed veggies taste nicer, while giving them loads of great vitamins and nutrients).

  • Stewed Fruit: it’s so easy to make your own stewed fruit, which is great to add to yoghurt, or to serve as is. Simply chop of your fruit of choice, add water (or you can add rooibos instead for a bit more flavor and anti-oxidants) and then boil away on the stove until soft and mushy. A combo Everly loved was apples and cherries.

  • Frozen Yoghurt: just as the recipe above for ice lollies, except use yoghurt instead of water/rooibos.

  • dried fruit - I only give Everly this on special occasions as it can be hard to find dried fruit that isn’t full of extra sugar…but mango is a great snack for little hands that will keep them busy, and so are dried apples & apricots. Don’t give too much as too much dried fruit can lead to runny tummies.

  • popcorn - cover in butter (although this can be messy) and sprinkle with dried herbs for extra tastiness. Avoid adding salt if you’re cooking it from seed.


From the above you can see Everly doesn’t have any allergies, and is especially okay with any and all dairy. If your little is lactose intolerant, adjust accordingly (although expensive, Almond milk is an option, but I would steer clear of Soy milk). Often babies and toddlers grow out of their allergies, so keep offering them yoghurt/etc every couple of months etc and see how they manage. On another note, I make all my own homemade yoghurt, this way I ensure there are no nasty hidden preservatives etc. If you are buying yoghurt, try to always give your baby full cream, plain yoghurt. This ensures no hidden sugars, and you can adjust the flavour yourself by adding frozen berries/stewed or steamed fruit/cinnamon and honey when they are a little older.


I hope you found this post helpful. Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments below, or to leave your favourite toddler meals & snack ideas. I always love hearing from you!