Sippy Cups…the Many Varieties

Mummy Confession: When I was a first time mum, I bought a lot of sippy cups. A lot.
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I know the choice can be overwhelming, and what on earth do you choose for your baby? Is one better than the other? Which is the BEST cup?

*Please note that unless directed otherwise by your doctor or peadeatrician, it is not recommended to give a baby water until at least six months old. Giving too much water to your baby, or giving it too early can cause water intoxication. Please consult your doctor for any other information.*

I’ve found in my days of motherhood, that every baby is different and has different preferences for everything, including cups. Not every brand is the same, and not every cup is spill proof or easy to clean. In my opinion, the best cup is the one your child uses easier, comes apart for cleaning easily, and doesn’t spill for the early days of learning. To help you figure out which cup may be best for you, I have compiled a list of the four main types of sippies made for babies and toddlers.

In general, there are four different kinds of cups specifically made for babies and toddlers. This isn’t including the normal open cups, but rather ones with tops that in some way lessen or prevent the spilling of the contents inside. Before you get any of these, be sure to scrub them regularly by taking them apart as shown in their respective instructions. It helps to buy a brush kit to get all of the tiniest crevices. If it helps to know, some bottle companies also have their bottles which fit their sippy tops, but you would have to check those out individually. I recommend checking out Amazon for reviews of any cup before purchasing, just to see how it rates on all factors.

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1. Soft Spout Cups- These cups resemble a bottle and the flexible material used for those. But, rather than a nipple-like top, have a spout. These are easy for some babies as I’m sure the similarity to a bottle would make the transition easier. This one by Nuby was loved by my babies as they transitioned, though they preferred the bottle-like top. (These ones seem to rage at 6 months or so and up)

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2. Harder Spout Cups – My kids preferred these for some reason, and just couldn’t get on with the softer spouts. Tommee Tippee has a few harder spout types for babies and onward, and many other companies make harder spout ones for toddlers. This particular bub has his very own Penguin sippy from the Avent line. The harder spouts usually have a little silicone or other material that probably feels nicer on bubs gums when they chew it. (These ones seem to rate around 6 months and up)

3. Straw Cups– the variety of these are endless it seems. From the Take-n-Toss straw cups to Camelbak water bottles with straws, you will not be lacking in choice! My preference is always one that is easy to clean in all the crevices, and is as spill proof as possible. We owned one straw water bottle that leant itself to easy pouring, and I often found myself cleaning up puddles and emptying tea cups of water. Straw Cups tend to be recommended for slightly older babies, as getting the hang of sucking until the water comes up can take a little time. I recommend starting with one that has a shorter straw for this reason. (These generally state around 8-9 months and up)

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4. Trainer Cups– now these particular cups are super innovative! There are a few options for these Cups, but they all lend themselves to teaching children how to drink out of a real cup (supposedly) without the spills. I say supposedly, because my smart toddler figured out that one particular cup was just easily pushed with her finger, tipped, and the water came freely. This cup is now only given in monitored circumstances. Munchkin has one of these types in both handle and non-handle versions, which are two different sizes. (These generally rate at around 12 months and up)

A Mix of several types
Some companies go above and beyond when it comes to supplying options for sippy cups. A few of the options include interchangeable tops or spouts. The Pura Kiki has straw, bottle or spout tops. Avent and Tommee Tippee have some of their range which is interchangeable with their respective bottles.

Some honourable mentions that don’t quite classify as “cups” but are great innovations in the helpful nature of the sippy cup are:

Spout Water Bottle Adaptor this smart little invention makes any water bottle a sippy! Just put the top on, and have a less-messy drink for your toddler while out!

Boon Snug Lid this top makes any cup transition to a spout cup or straw cup! How handy! They even have tops for snack bowls!

Honestly, you don’t NEED any of these Cups, but I’m grateful for the people who have created them, because they are a necessity in my household. The cleanup is much easier, transporting them in my bag or in the car makes for a much more pleasant ride, and my kids love the designs and the independence they have from being able to drink and carry them all by themselves. If you are skipping the sippies and straws, opt for a less breakable material such as plastic, melamine, or otherwise. But, if you decide to get a cup for your baby or toddler- Happy Sipping!

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Ten Ways to Say “I Love You”

Mummy Confession: The words, “I love you” are spoken often in this house. I’ve always wanted my family to be like this, too.

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As a tribute to the day, I have compiled a list (among the many) of ten ways to say, “I love you.” This is not solely for Valentine’s Day or other “special” days. I feel it is important to let those we love know this important message all the time!

10. Take a picture. Together.

Gone are the days where a camera has to be a heavy, expensive object taken out only for special occasions. Use your phone, use a camera, schedule a photo shoot, or go somewhere special and click to your heart’s content. Especially with the little loves, I’ve found that time goes by so quickly, and the kids have grown up, our hairs have greyed, and we wish we had recorded more in times past to reminisce and remember. I have plenty of pictures of the kids, but not enough of us together.

9. Go for a stroll, or a drive.

Walk hand-in-hand. This might be a necessity for those of us with small children, to prevent unwanted chases. Enjoy the scenery, take in the moments. Have a laugh, and catch up on the latest events. Make memories.  The outdoors are not only good for your health, but definitely help in feeling refreshed!

8. Do something nice.

Have you seen the dishes piling up, laundry in need of folding, or something your loved one keeps mentioning needs to get done? Do it for them without any expectations. The without expectations is a must.

7. Leave a note.

Write some kind words, encouraging quote, or just an “I love you” in a place for your loved one to find. Lunches, cars, bathrooms, or on the fridge. Be creative. Draw on the note if you have skills. Make a poem. Put it in a card. The written word is powerful, and so often these days, it seems to be used to hurt. Use your words for good.

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6. Give a gift.

It doesn’t have to be expensive. Just get a little something you know they like when you are doing the shopping. Make something yourself if you are blessed with the ability to create (I’m not good at homemade anything). Bake cookies. Knit a scarf. Anything can be given with love, and it always feels nice to give, as well as to receive something out of love.

5. Have a date. Just the two of you.

No, I’m not just talking husbands and wives. That’s a given, I think. Take your son or daughter out for some one-on-one time. This will look a bit different to an adult “date” but spending time together can be a great way to say I love you! Dress up, bring her flowers, open her door, and take her to her favourite meal. Yes, it may be McDonalds, but she will appreciate it. If your “date” is on the younger side, be sure to bring some entertainment along. (Just a wallet and some cards may even suffice.) You don’t even have to go out of the house!

4. Read together.

Reading isn’t just beneficial for you and your child, but read with your other half. Sappy poetry is a good suggestion but not necessarily all. Read books together. Dramatically recite song lyrics. Cuddle up together and enjoy! Better still, make it a family event!

3. Smile.

This one is so simple, and only requires a few seconds. Best done alongside another suggestion on this list. Look at them the way you did when you first fell in love, and smile. Take in their beauty all over again. (And no, again, I’m not talking only your partner, but also your children. Remember the day you fell head over heels for them.) Soak in and reflect on the moments you’ve made together.

2. Hug.

Hugs are powerful. The end. (Just be sure your love is ok with it.)

1. Just say it.

The most obvious way to say, “I love you” has to be just to say it. Nothing can be more simple than speaking the words to show you care. Words are powerful, so lets use them to build up and encourage, and to tell how much we appreciate the ones we love by just speaking those three words. I love you.

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I Bribe My Kids

Mummy Confession: I bribe my kids. All the time.

Before I was a parent, I vowed I would never be, “one of those parents who bribes their kids.” My children would learn to behave. Little did I know, thinking like a future mum and actually being a mum are two different things. Plus the fact that bribing the children doesn’t mean they aren’t behaving. Let me tell you my tale of how I discovered the blessing of bribery. Some may call it “incentives ” or “rewards” or even a tool for positive parenting. But for me personally it falls under the category of bribery. (And for me, I’m not saying it as a bad thing at all!)

I don’t recall a lot of my childhood, but I do remember one particular bribe that worked well for me. I have always hated those closed slides at Play places. Well, I was stuck at the top of one long ago and refused to go down. Enter bribe. I forget the actual amount, but a certain cash incentive was brought fourth, and what do you know, I slid. Now, I just stay away from the staticky disasters. But, I digress.

Sure, I sailed through the first months with a baby who went un-bribed and it was going great! I first happened upon the trade of bribery when my fast-growing child was interrupting every chore and meal, and I needed something to distract so I could get something done or eaten. Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce you to snack bribery. Little miss was given a treat of a rusk, though there would be mess for me to clean afterward, and mum was given time to eat.

Some Tools of Bribery

Later in toddler-hood, small bribes accompanied us along our journey. The trade off was beneficial to accomplish cleaning, shopping, eating, and sitting through sermons on Sunday.

Generally, the bribe is an understanding between individuals. If they are given this, they will in turn do something, or if they do something they will receive this in return. While we still excercise discipline, bribery is a balance I am willing to throw in there as well. Generally, it is a reward for good behaviour such as potty training time. Occasionally, it means putting on a DVD so I can hang the washing. Sometimes it even means promising a special treat when the shopping is finished.

One guideline I do have for my bribery, though, is that if my children are demanding, whining, or complaining for what I’ve bribed with, that they will not receive it. This is usually outlined in my original stipulations for their bribe. Let me tell you, sometimes this part is the worst, because all I want to do is give in to the screaming and hush it, but in order for the bribery to work best, I need to have this in place.

Whether it be a toy, stickers, screen time, or ironically enough chores, bribery helps my life as mum to be a little less of a chaotic jumble of screams and fights. It makes learning new things more fun as well, because there is a reward at the end! In the end, it’s about balance anyways.

So tell me, do you administer bribes in your house?

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How to Help Baby STAY asleep

Mummy Confession: For a portion of their tiny lives, my babies were belly-sleeping bed-sharers.

I know I will probably get some negative feedback for this, because I already know it goes against SIDS safe sleeping guidelines. I do not recommend it, and urge parents to exercise safe sleeping in every way possible.

So, settling baby may be one thing, but how do you get them to STAY asleep? (If you need tips and tricks on getting them to sleep, check out this post)

I was four days into parenting when I was faced head-on with this conundrum. My child was cranky. She had reflux (which I didn’t know anything about at the time), and would only settle in arms, while standing, and occasionally with a swaddle. When it came time to put her down or even merely sit, all the evil of the world seemed to unleash in blood-curtling screams.
Why was I abandoning her?! How dare I put her down? What kind of mother was I? Obviously, I cared nothing for my child, or so her terrible cries insinuated.

At this point, I was terrified to sleep her on her back for fear of choking, as she would spit up and projectile vomit at random. On the other hand, I was told belly sleeping was more dangerous! Car seats were not an option, because she was being slowly tortured in there. Swaddling worked to calm her down, as long as I kept her in my arms. I had tried everything to get her to sleep, but the point came where I needed to place her down somewhere to get sleep of my own. And she would have nothing of any place that was not beside me.

I was left with two options here: get no sleep, or let her sleep in my bed. After much delibaration, tears, and frustration, I chose the later. I read up on Safe sleeping guidelines for bed-sharing, and placed her down for the first time, holding my breath.
What do you know, she slept. It was only one to three hour stretches at first, but that was better than the ten to thirty minutes I was getting before! She also had to sleep on her belly, which again is not recommended, but at the rate she was constantly throwing up, I figured choking was more likely than suffocation for her. (She had woken me before choking several times, and scared me half to death.) That first night, I didn’t sleep much, because I was watching her back rise and fall.

Now, while I don’t recommend it, and it is definitely not for everyone, it is what helped me survive those first months of on and off cluster-feeding (and boy were those days fun), unsettled startles, and the whole “fourth trimester” as it is now called. During the day, she was far more placid, and wasn’t bothered when she was put in her crib.

As far as helpful tools to help them stay asleep, here are some helpful tips which fall within SIDS guidelines for your peace of mind for babes who decide they can’t sleep just anywhere. (Some are intertwined with the tips and tricks to help settle them to sleep I’ve mentioned prior):

If none of these are working for you, reach out to someone in the resource page for pregnancy, birth and beyond.

1. Swaddling– I mention this again, because it is something that seems to help a lot of babies STAY asleep. If it’s not working for you, have you tried to swaddle them arms up? It’s apparently a more natural position and helps them soothe themselves a bit as well as calm the startle reflex.
There are many ways to swaddle, including arms up or down, but also using just a basic Muslin wrap, or a zip or Velcro swaddle. I have even heard of a more weighty option called the Magical Sleep suit. Some babies prefer one over the other. My first was a Houdini of sorts, and the normal blankets could simply not contain her magical prowess, so we opted for zip-up, arms up swaddles.

2. Co-sleepers– these come in all sorts and shapes. They help keep Baby near while still keeping them safe sleeping. It is important to understand that co-sleeping just means within the same room, not always sharing a bed, which is referred to as bed-sharing.
Side-car Cosleepers are bassinet type beds that literally sit as a side car next to your bed. They are at more of an eye-level for seeing baby, but prevent you from rolling over baby, as bubs has their own space. I’ve never used one of these, but have heard positive feedback from other mums about these.
The first years or similar beds stay in your bed, but have sides to protect bubs from being rolled over. With this, they can even feel your warmth a bit, which I strongly believe helps them sleep. Mine even had a handy light to check babe in the night,This worked for a little for our first and subsequent baby, but my third would have none of it.
Dock-a-tot is another option, although expensive, and many mums swear by them! Though not oNHL used in the big bed, they also make crib sleeping a lot easier. They are basically a snug cushion around baby, helping them feel more secure, with a breathable material which helps ease mum’s mind. I’ve even heard they are excellent to transition toddlers to “big kid” beds, or prevent them falling out of beds with no sides. They come in two sizes. One is for up to 9 months old, and the other can be used until about three years old. Use the link here to save $10 on one today!

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Image Source: DockATot

3. Snug Sheets, tucked in nice also help babes with their startle reflex, and keep them feeling snug and secure. You can do this by tucking the sheets nice and snugly underneath the mattress of the crib or bassinet in which baby sleeps. This also seems to help a little with them to roll less. Be sure to follow the safe sleeping guidelines with no loose blankets or other toys around them. There is even a company that makes sheets that are for safe sleeping, and stay tucked in called Shnooki Sheets (in Australia).

4. Warm Rice Bag, either warmed and placed in the spot where bubs is to be put down, to be nice and cozy, especially for a winter baby, seems to help a lot of parents. I know some also leave it next to baby as they sleep, ensuring it isn’t too hot, but please be careful if you choose to do this, as it doesn’t fall within safe sleeping guidelines.

5. Something that smells like mum or dad. This has worked a little for one child, but had no magic for the others. Obviously within guidelines, strategically placing an item of mum or dad’s worn (but not overly so) clothing near Baby. He can smell familiarity and be soothed. I’ve found it’s usually a milk-stained shirt that works best strangely enough.

6. Keeping the lights off seems to help some babies stay asleep. For some, noise or music also helps, but other prefer quiet. I found my babies would awaken if lights were on, or would stay awake in-between wake-ups a bit longer if I had the room too bright.

7. Put the pacifier back in…sometimes it is just that simple. Most times, I will be honest, it is not.

8. Ninja like escape from underneath or next to an already sleeping baby seems to be the way of everything in my life now. You have to prefect your method depending on your child, but some like a super slow transition, with patting and shushing in between, while others do better with a “ripping-the-bandaid-off-quickly” yet gentle approach. What works best for us is my slowly moving away after quickly but gently setting them down from being settled upon my forearm. I show you this technique here (humour me).

With all of these in mind, do remember that each child is different, and some may sleep easier than others. Some babies may require several of these ideas to stay sleeping, or you may find another trick that works better for you! Also, note that little ones typically don’t “sleep through the night” until at least 6 months old, and this term usually refers to about a six-hour stretch. Some don’t until much later, like my children at two years old. But, these tricks and tips may help to keep them sleeping a bit longer, or go from their night routine of eating and changing, back to sleep a bit easier.

Another option to mention would be the sleep-training methods that are out there, however they are not recommended until baby is at least 6 months or older. These for us, were a last resort, and we didn’t commit to just one method. We didn’t attempt anything until bubs were around 9 months either.

How do you get your babies to sleep and to stay there? Has it been hard or do your children transtion easily? Leave some of your tips and tricks for helping sleeping babies stay asleep in the comments below!

Fun Activities With Kids At Home

Mummy Confession: I’m not rich. So sometimes, I use things around the house to keep my kids entertained.
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For this post, I have collaborated with fellow Mummy-Blogger Nicola from . Feel free to check out her Blog and the great things she has going there from Baby Food Recipes to Everyday Life Posts.

Here are 10 activities to keep babies and toddlers entertained with things you can find around the house! Free and fun! You can get as creative or simple as you wish with these – the sky is the limit!
Some of these activities require close monitoring, so please keep an eye on the little ones at all times when using any of these following suggestions! Some materials pose a suffocation or drowning hazard if left unattended.
(Water safety: even shallow water poses a drowning risk, so NEVER leave babies or children alone around water, no matter how little it may be!)

1. Drum circle
What you need: Some wooden or plastic spatulas, Pots and pans

What to do: Set up a circle using your pots, pans and bowls and place baby in the middle with a spatula. He will love banging on the different shaped objects and hearing the different noises that they make. Encourage him by holding your own spatula and tapping the different dishes.

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2. Messy play
What you need: A plastic tablecloth (to protect your floor), A variety of cooked food, A bath ready and waiting for the aftermath

What to do: Cook a few bits of spaghetti and some kala chana and pour it all over the floor to let baby have at it.
I have to admit, most of it was consumed, hence why I used food as opposed to anything else. There are so many recipes on Pinterest for baby safe gloop and paint. The world is your oyster when it comes to messy play. Have the bath ready and waiting and then let babe enjoy a long soak afterwards.

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3. Tummy Time Water Play
What you need: An oven dish, Plastic ducks, Some water

What to do: Pour a small amount of water into the oven dish and place some ducks in it. Place baby on his tummy and let him splash the water and move the ducks. Endless hours of entertainment for a baby who hasn’t yet learned to crawl.

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4. Treasure baskets
What you need: An old washing up bowl, Any bits and pieces from around the house that baby loves

What to do: I bought a washing up bowl for 50p and started collecting stuff in it that Baby took a shine to such as a large yellow sponge, a whisk, measuring spoons and a plastic spatula. Whenever I need to keep him preoccupied for a few minutes, I bring the treasure basket out and let him have a play with the bits and bobs while I get my jobs done. This helps me massively when I’m trying to stop him crawling into the kitchen!

5. Wallet Play
What you need: Wallet & business cards or used iTunes cards, anything not too important in card form. (You can also do some pictures of the people they know or of objects they love. Laminate those if you want them to last.)

What to do: Give them the cards and the wallet. Let them practise motor skills by putting cards in and out.
I take a wallet everywhere with me, and this always offers some distraction at least for a little while. If you don’t want to use an old wallet, they’re cheap enough to buy, or you can order blank plastic cards online or cut up cardstock if you don’t wish to use old cards.

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Just an old wallet and a couple cards. The more cards though, the better!

6. Tea Party/Picnic
What you need: Cups of any sort, pretend or real beverages, pretend or real food, pretend or real (or toy) guests, blanket/towel/sheet

What to do: On top of material (blanket/towel/sheet), arrange cups in either a hap-hazard order or even practise etiquette and manners. This can be educational or just downright fun! Use silly voices and give yourselves outrageous names. Pretend play is fun! Everyone loves a good High Tea! Host your own with or without costumes, real treats, guests, and superb conversations. For added bonus, send out an invite or create your own invitations for guests.

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Some TimTams for an Aussie tea time!

7. Fort Building
What you need: Sheets, Blankets, Towels and pillows. Support such as a cot, air dryer, or table. Couches or cushions also work well for this activity.

What to do: Using support, cover with materials you have. Create fort. For added bonus, host a tea party, watch a movie, tell stories, or read a book together inside. Forts are always fun!

**Just watch here for toppling things and you’ll be alright. My kids like to pretend my laundry is their fort every time I hang it up.**
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8. Object Sorting
What you need: Any objects, big or small. I went with pegs (clothespins), and two or more containers.

What to do: Honestly, this one is just for the fact that kids love to move things from one place to another. Without fail, I find them digging through my clothespegs and sorting them, so I just gave them two different containers to sort. They are usually in a basket, and I provided them with an empty wipes container that they love to stick the pegs through the hole. This helps to develop hand-eye coordination I’m sure, and the kids just love moving things (as I’m sure you find with their toys, too). For more complexity, find coloured containers and have them sort according to colour, shape, or size!
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9. Scavenger Hunt
What you need: Coloured containers, or colours on a piece of paper, and your house.

What to do: Colour on a piece of paper if you don’t have coloured containers, and have the children look around the house for anything of that colour. If you have containers, have them put them inside. You can specify to various categories, like “your toys that are this colour,” “objects in this room with these colours,” or just have fun with it. Alternatively, go outside and find things of various colours, too. Pinterest has hundreds of ideas for various scavenger hunts, so check these ones out!

10. Colouring-in-a-Box
What you need: Box big enough for child to fit in, crayons/markers/colouring utensils, stickers and other craft items are optional

What to do: Place child in box with colouring utensils. Let them go crazy! Obviously, you need to watch and ensure the box doesn’t topple, or that your munchkin doesn’t eat the crayons, but this can be a decently calming activity.
This is such a great idea I read a long time ago, and my kids absolutely love it! Mum loves that it keeps the colouring tools contained and off the walls. (Side not: make sure the box isn’t near the walls…) I instituted a “crayons stay in the big box” rule when we had a really big box they used. No complaints from my child, just lots of creativity and fun! Afterwards, you can just recycle the box, or even better, use it as a fort or cut it up and make a cool house! So many uses, and kids love boxes!

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What did I tell you? Kids love boxes!

I hope these ideas can lend some help to you mamas out there whether you are looking for something to distract for that moment, or something fun and educational. Add your twist of creativity! Have fun with your children and remember, sometimes the best toys are right under our noses.

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Real mum. Real life. Real confessions.