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BABY ON BOARD

Review: Tiddler Toddler Tracker

One of the best pieces of advice I (stupidly) ignored as a new mum was to keep track of your little one’s sleeping and feeding times, to help you establish a routine that didn’t result in them becoming overtired/hungry at night. I did it a bit, to begin with when Daph was tiny and seemingly drinking eighteen bottles of milk a day, but then as she got older I didn’t keep up with it. I had an app, which I never really got the hang of using (the breastfeeding ones in particular, with their built in timers, were just way too much faff for me!), and a paper chart the midwife gave me, but that soon got covered in milk/vomit.

So when I heard about the Tiddler Tracker (I saw a post about it from someone I follow on Facebook) I was pretty impressed, and really wished I’d had one in those early days, as it would have been much easier to keep on top of everything with a proper physical book. The Tiddler Tracker is a Moleskine-esq book filled with useful charts and pages for you to fill in, to track all aspects of your baby’s day. And it’s not just for babies, as there’s also the Tiddler Toddler Tracker for older kids, such as Daph, designed to be more relevant for them.

As a stationery fan, I just loved the idea straight away. I was also amazed that no one had thought of it before. I pinged off a tweet about them, and the company kindly got in touch and offered me a Toddler Tracker for review. Its arrival was very timely as we have recently been trying to keep a log of Daphne’s nap times to get on top of this early waking issue – it’s been SO helpful as we’ve realised that she actually needs to go to bed earlier than we thought if we want her to sleep in a bit later. It’s all to do with how long she’s awake for between waking up from her nap and going to bed for the night – any more than six hours, and she’s overtired and will wake in the night (and then, inevitably, wake for the day super early and grumpy).

There are several designs available to choose from, so you can find one that works for you, and the books are handily sized, so they’re not so small you’re squinting to read the pages, but they’d fit in your changing bag easily so you can take them out and about with you. Best of all the folk behind the company are parents and have really thought about the product, designing it based on personal experience of what works and what you need to keep a record of (they had a son with reflux, so understood the importance of tracking things carefully).

We’ve been using the Toddler Tracker for a week now, and we love it. Daphne’s also keen and enjoys watching us write things down in ‘her book’. I actually think the Tiddler Tracker would be a perfect present for new parents – something most people might not think of, but that would undoubtedly become an essential bit of kit for anyone coping with those crazy first months.

BABY ON BOARD Baby updates

18 month baby update

Eeek! It’s my last baby update for a while! I think I’ll do another one when Daphne turns two – it’ll be amazing to look back and compare how much she changes in six months, rather than one. But first up, my little madam is finally a year and a half old, and I know I keep saying this, but this really is the BEST age so far. She’s so bloody cute at the moment. She definitely went through a weird mental leap thing (her last ever Wonder Week – wow!) and changed a lot afterwards. The main thing I noticed is that she now doesn’t do things just because you ask her to. Ha! Before, if I said ‘Daph, go and get your shoes’ or something similar, she’d trot off like an obedient dog and bring them back to me. But now, she looks at me, thinks about my request and (usually) decides that she’d rather do something else instead. It’s actually amazing, and it fits right in with what they’re supposed to have learnt in the last leap – that they have free will, basically, and don’t have to do what they’re told. Of course, this means a LOT more frustration on both our parts, but it’s also amazing to think of her as this sentient little being with her own thoughts about things.

Another change – and the loveliest by far – is that she’s suddenly got super cuddly. She’s always giving me cuddles now – coming up to me and when I pick her up she throws her arms around me and buries her head against my shoulder and it’s soooo sweet, because she was never a cuddly baby at all. She’s also finally started sitting still a bit with me to watch television (yes I know this is terrible, but she’s always on the go and sometimes I wish she’d just have some quiet time and chill out because she wears herself out). The only thing she’ll watch at the moment is Little Baby Bum, the most random nursery rhyme cartoon thing on Netflix, but even so, it’s been lovely to have her snuggle up against me and watch it – we even ate some popcorn in front of the telly together yesterday and finally, I was living the parenthood dream. Ha.

Other developments – she is finally walking, but only with her push along walker dog. I know this isn’t a big deal for people with babies who’ve been walking from 10 months, but for us, this has been a bit mindblowing, and she looks so pleased with herself as she trots along behind him. She’s also taken a few steps towards me if there’s a gap between me and whatever she’s standing against – it’s almost as though she CAN walk, but she’s just too scared to do it, in case she falls over. Because she does it without thinking sometimes (admittedly only a few steps, like I say) which proves she IS capable. She just overthinks things. She’s got until the end of the month if she wants to beat me as I walked at 18 months, and I’m not sure if she’ll get there, but we’ll see… She’s standing really well now, too, finally!

Sleep has been another big big change this month. We’ve finally transitioned to one nap. Which has been SO brilliant, as usually it’s at least an hour, so we get a decent ish amount of time to get stuff done during the day finally. I know some babies sleep for two or even three hours a day, but that’s just not going to be Daph, I don’t think. She much prefers a shorter nap and an early bedtime, and is still going to bed around 6.30pm (but it has been 5.30 when her nap has been too short). Wake up times have been all over the shop, but that’s because she’s been ill the last week or two, so she seems to be waking in the night with a sore throat about 3am, and then going back to sleep quickly (a miracle in itself) until past six. This morning was 6.40am, which is the latest we’ve had in absolutely ages, but then I was awake at 1.30am myself coughing, as well as going in to her at 3 with milk, so we didn’t really feel much benefit! Typical! I’m hoping once the sickness subsides, we’ll get some kind of firm routine in place that we can stick to for the next year or so. That would just be amazing. Currently she’s sleeping from 11.30am to around 1pm, which is quite good as it means we have a decent length of time in the afternoon to do things – in fact today, we had a Sunday roast at my parents, which we haven’t been able to do for months.

Another big thing that’s happened this month is that Daphne started at the childminder. The childminder is like an angel sent from heaven – she’s absolutely wonderful, and Daphne has settled in really well. It’s changed my thoughts about childcare so much, actually – I thought it was all about the parents having time to work, but in fact, it’s Daph who seems to be benefiting the most, as she’s getting to interact with other kids, play with different toys, and generally have a whole day focused on her development and needs, rather than fitting in at home with whatever (not) exciting things we’re doing that day. We’re actually going to go up to two days at the childminder’s in March, and it makes me so happy to see how happy she is when I pick her up on Thursday evenings – she’s always really chatty and excited, almost a different child. Also, the childminder has taught her to drink out of a beaker on her own. FINALLY.

Speech wise, there haven’t been any noticeable changes this month. I think Daph has added to her repertoire of ‘b’ words – she can pretty much say anything beginning with B if you say it first. But other than that, not much to note. Still obsessed with the cat (is this normal?!) and still can’t say Mummy. The cutest thing in the world though is every morning when Oli goes in to get her hearing her excitedly squeak ‘Daddy’ when she sees him.

The best thing about this age is seeing the development of Daph’s personality. She’s really becoming a little person. Loves the cat, loves giving things to people (will crawl over to any grown up and hand them a piece of Duplo within minutes of meeting them), loves Duplo, is very cuddly and affectionate, will wave at anyone, loves other kids – especially bigger kids… Doesn’t have any patience for Peppa Pig, is SO OVER the Teletubbies now, likes to dance to music (shake her head and wave her arms around), can’t go to sleep without clutching one or more muslin cloths, is still obsessed with milk and only drinks milk from bottles, loves her baths, hates being in the pushchair, thinks soft play is a load of crap, only likes pop up books… I could go on and on forever. I’m so proud of her.

BABY ON BOARD Baby updates

17 month baby update

I wonder how long I should carry on doing these baby updates. Technically speaking, is Daphne still a baby? She doesn’t toddle yet, so maybe she is. In any case, at this rate, I can envision myself continuing to blog about her when she turns 21, which I’m fairly sure she wouldn’t be that impressed with…

Anyway, I’ll keep going I think, at least until next month (18 months feels like a big milestone – something to do with it being the next clothes size up maybe!), and then maybe I’ll have a break until she turns two. Which I am sure will come around in record time. It’s crazy how much growing and changing a baby can do in two years (and how much ageing their mum can do at the same time – ha!).

So this month has been dominated by the sleep issue I already wrote about. And I think it’s probably related to her naps. I really want to transition her onto one nap, but it’s so hard when she wakes up at 5am, and is utterly shattered by 9 – it feels cruel not to put her down for a nap when she’s yawning and grumpy and rubbing her eyes, but of course, this just perpetuates the problem, as then her afternoon nap is short as she’s not tired enough for a long one, and thus her bedtime ends up being early too… and then we go round again. We try to push her nap back a little each day (15 mins or so) but somehow something will always go wrong – she’ll fall asleep in the car, or we’ll need her to nap a bit earlier one day so we can go somewhere later, and we just seem to be back to square one. I’m not sure how to solve this. Daphne started at the childminder’s last week (more on that later) and she usually puts them all down for a long nap at 12.30. There’s no way Daph could survive that long without going mad, so we agreed to let her have a little power nap in the buggy when the childminder walks to their playgroup in the morning, which seemed to work OK with regards to her getting overtired. Because the irony is, of course, that an overtired baby just sleeps worse (more badly? my grammar has deserted me today) and wakes up even earlier the next morning – babies make no sense! My preoccupation every waking moment is ensuring that Daph doesn’t become overtired during the day, because that just makes everything go to hell. I am a woman obsessed.

We have the Gro clock but the first time I tried to use it I forgot to set it (didn’t realise you had to do it manually every night), and then she woke up at 5am and so I set it then, trying to explain it to her, and it went straight to a great big cheery sun and lit the whole bloody room up, so I’ve obviously done something wrong. Anyway it made me so cross (little things will do that at 5am) that I unplugged the damn thing and now it lies next to her cot looking forlorn and useless. She’s probably (definitely) a bit young to make sense of it anyway, but I was hoping for a miracle, as people in desperate situations do.

I guess the only solution is time, and her growing up a bit and being able to handle longer wake times. So it’s a case of sitting it out, like all baby phases, trying to go to bed early (I’m getting better at this but do seethe with resentment at having my grown-up time curtailed in favour of a morning that starts before the dawn chorus) and just praying that the eighteen month sleep regression passes us by. Please god, don’t we deserve a sleep break?! We’ve had it all: colic, split nights for MONTHS, middle of the night poos for MONTHS, a dream feed that persisted past 12 months… and now the super early risings. Let us off on this one thing, pretty please?!

Ahem. Yes, I am a woman obsessed. But onto the good things – Daph seems to love the childminder’s. And no one told me how much more you love your child after they’ve been at the childminder’s all day. I didn’t cry when Oli took her (hardhearted mum that I am) but I did get a bit teary picking her up, and seeing how happy she’d been playing with all the bigger kids. It’s so cute to see that side of her, and see how desperate she is to have ‘friends’ and copy the older kids. Bless! Made me feel we’ve been depriving her a bit by keeping her at home with us all day. And of course, it’s great (although so weird) to have a day to myself to focus on my own stuff (although we’ve invariably been washing and cleaning and doing the noisy/dangerous DIY you can’t do when she’s here).

Not much else to report this month. Still no walking, although she’s become a master cruiser, making her way across a room using every available surface to help her. Standing is getting better but she’ll still only do it for a few seconds. I did notice this month that she’s learnt how to crouch down from standing to pick something up, so clearly her legs are getting stronger. We took her to have her feet measured last week, and bought her her first proper pair of shoes, and we’re trying to make her wear them in the house more, as we think they’ll help her put her feet flat more often (she still mostly stands on tiptoes, it’s no wonder her balance is so off). If she’s still wobbly standing at eighteen months I might take her back to the GP, just to see if there are some exercises or something we can do with her to help her, but I’m confident that she’ll get there in her own time, as she is still making progress. Baby steps. Ha.

Mid-clap 🙂

Oh yes! One thing she has finally mastered this month, is learning to clap. About a year after the baby books said she should. Even longer perhaps. It kind of makes me laugh that she just clearly didn’t want to do anything to the conventional timeline. But yes, she now claps, on command and at things that excite her, as if to stick two fingers up at Mummy a year ago who was paranoid that her lack of clapping meant something serious was wrong. Ugh, how I wish I could go back and tell myself not to worry about this stuff.

She’s as chatty as ever, and keeps stunning me by answering quite complicated questions – for example, we were walking back from the town the other day and about to turn into our road, and I said ‘Who are we going to see at home Daph?’ and she said, without a second’s hesitation, ‘Purdy’. Considering she couldn’t see the house, or the cat, I was quite impressed with her brain working that one out. Oh and other developments – she is utterly obsessed with Duplo! We got her some for Christmas and she loved it, so we got her a few more boxes and it keeps her entertained for hours. She particularly likes posting the little people through the windows of the ‘houses’ mummy builds. I actually quite enjoy it too – certainly more fun than rattles and endless stacking cups!

BABY ON BOARD Baby updates

16 month baby update

Goodness me the last month has gone quickly! We’re edging even closer to the 18 month mark, which is amazing really. During the past month, Daph has been an absolute dream. She’s emerged from the recent grumpy screaming phase and is instead incredibly happy most days and incredibly sweet. Which is brilliant. She’s even decided she doesn’t mind going to the supermarket anymore, and the tantrums have subsided. (For now. I know, as ever, everything is a phase, even the good times).

This month her speech has come on leaps and bounds. She has a whole repertoire of words now, including: tea, Purdy (Percy the cat), Poph (my sister’s name*), Daddy, teddy, bath, ball, hi, bunny, poo poo (when she’s having her nappy changed), Dee Dee (the model in the Hush catalogue – have I mentioned here that she is OBSESSED with her?!)… I think that’s about it. Still no Mummy but I get random variations of things instead, such as Bobby, Uddy, and just Bob, which I think is my favourite. Bless her.

This week she finally started standing without support, but it’s still only for a few seconds before it’s almost as though her brain figures it out, panics and she drops to her bum. She has an incredibly long back and quite stumpy legs for her height actually, so I am sure that doesn’t help. Also, the muscles in her legs don’t seem very big (literally, she has quite scrawny legs), but hopefully they’ll keep growing and developing! I SO wish she could walk because she weighs an absolute ton, but she’s a master crawler and moves at lightning speed, so she clearly doesn’t see any great need to start using her feet instead. We measured her the other day and tried to plot her on the red book, and she’s on the 87th percentile for her age, which is crazy when she was on the 2nd when she was born! I can’t believe how tall she’s getting now – the leggings I bought for her in the autumn are all coming up short already, and she’s filling out 18-24 month babygrows. Madness.

Every time I do a baby update and I boast how her sleep’s been good, the next day it goes to shit. So I am VERY reluctant to tempt fate here but… her sleep has been the best it’s been ever in the past week. She’s been going down easily at 7pm, and sleeping through until somewhere between 6am and 6.30. We’ve had a couple of early wake ups (like 5.30 etc) which I still find absolutely killer, but in the past few days it’s been amazing really. I’m fairly confident now that I’ve written this that tonight will be an absolute disaster but anyway, thought I’d mark this time for posterity and to remind myself that it wasn’t all totally helpless when I look back…

The one thing we have changed to try to stop her early wake ups (on the advice of my friend and fellow mum Alice) is to wake her up after 40 mins of her morning nap. We never used to wake her – we always let her sleep as long as she wanted and wake up naturally, but this did mean she had her long nap in the morning and then a poxy short one in the afternoon, which is the wrong way round. So now we’ve been trying to get her to do the long nap in the afternoon instead, and it’s a bit hit and miss, but waking her up from her morning nap does seem to have done something weird to her brain and helped her sleep in later in the morning, which is great.

However, I’m fairly sure this rosy patch won’t continue as I keep hearing all about the bloody 18 month sleep regression. It’s like some awful hurdle looming on the horizon – I can’t bear it! I think I’d rather not know. It’s also going to coincide with Daph starting at the childminder’s, so I’m fairly sure February is going to be an exhausting month for all of us… *tries to think positive – we WILL be one of those lucky families that skips it entirely! we will we will we will!!*

One last slightly weird thing – Daph has started holding her wee in when she has a bath. It’s so funny, when we get her out of the bath now, she’s desperate to get her nappy on to relieve herself, and genuinely seems so relieved when she can finally wee. My mum thinks this is a sign she’s ready to be potty trained but seeing as she can’t walk yet I’m not entirely convinced. It’s interesting though, and just another reminder of how quickly she’s growing up. Sob.

So yes, on the whole, this has been a bloody LOVELY month – Daph is happy, chatty, relaxed and eating and sleeping well. If babies were like this all the time I’d have hundreds of them. Maybe.

*my sister’s name is actually Sophie, but when *I* was a littlun I couldn’t pronounce it, so I used to call her Pophie, which got shortened to Poph. Pronounced to rhyme with Soph, in case there’s any confusion (people always think it’s Pop-h or something!)

BABY ON BOARD Baby updates

15 month baby update

15-month-baby-update-2-lifebylotte

Hello hello! I’m a bit late with this one, sorry! Daph turned 15 months last Thursday (which was also my mum’s birthday) and I kind of forgot until later on the evening. When people ask me how old she is these days I tend to say one and I actually have to think about it if people want the precise number of months – time is rushing past so quickly!

Development wise, not much has changed in the past month. She’s still not walking and is showing no signs of starting, but she is much more confident standing now and can stand unsupported for about two seconds before her little legs decide to give up. She’s also started cruising around the furniture. The only time I mind about her being behind with this is when we’re out and about and I think how much easier it would be if she could walk. That’s been the biggest frustration of the last month actually – she has decided she hates going shopping, or being restrained in any way (eg in a pushchair or a trolley). She just wants to be crawling everywhere and anywhere, and doesn’t seem to understand why that isn’t allowed in the supermarket.

We had a really fun moment on Friday in M&S when she just totally lost it and started screaming at the top of her lungs in the trolley – a proper tantrum. Everyone stared at me. EVERYONE. A little old lady walked past and said ‘Oh dear, someone’s not very happy are they?’ and I wanted to say ‘Damn right I’m not, I’ve had enough.’ Daph’s screaming is really very very impressive and could probably shatter glass. I remember how, before I had Daph, I used to think ‘Oh god, why do people with bratty kids take them to supermarkets in the first place?’ and I have to say, I had no good answer for my old self on Friday.

It was so bad actually, that I left Oli to it and took her back to the car. I resisted the urge to weep. I envied the days when people could stick their babies in prams and leave them outside shops without fear of them being kidnapped. (Sort of).

15-month-baby-update-lifebylotte

What else what else… oooh, one of the best things is she has finally started feeding herself, which has been amazing. She always ‘could’ feed herself (eg if I give her a biscuit she knows what to do with it) but at mealtimes she stubbornly used to sit there staring at whatever we put in front of her, waiting for us to feed her. This definitely ties in with her lack of interest in walking – she’s figured out that life’s easier if you get other people to do stuff for you, and don’t trouble yourself with doing anything on your own. But in the last week or so (thanks I think in large part to my mum having less patience when she looks after her on Wednesdays) she’s started to pick up food and put it in her mouth All By Herself. The other day she ate a whole (slice of) pizza all by herself, and then followed it up with a mandarin (cut into pieces). It was amazing to be able to eat my own piece of pizza before it got cold, and watch her happily helping herself. There was a LOT of mess, obvs, and I had to leave my OCD hat on the peg, but I’ve bought her one of those brilliant bibs that is basically like a bib jumper and covers everything, so at least she’s not ruining her clothes… I’ve long given up on the carpet under the dining table (who puts carpet in dining rooms anyway, morons).

As for talking, ‘tea’ is definitely her first word (she says it whenever she sees a mug), and she’s added lots of other interesting sounds to her repertoire in the last month. I love listening to her babble away because now it sounds as though she thinks she’s actually saying real sentences, with little inflections that go up at the end, as though she’s asking a question. She’s also started giving us kisses along with the cuddles. It’s all very adorable.

Her sleep is back to normal, although we had a few days of nap refusal which weren’t fun. Generally though she’s still having two naps a day, one at 9.30am and another at 2.30pm, and then going to bed at 6.30 and is (usually) asleep by 7. However, the time she wakes up each day seems to vary enormously which is weird – the past few days have been 5.45am *weeps* but earlier in the week she was doing more like 6.30 – 7. No idea how to make this more consistent, as she always goes to bed at the same time, and her bedtime routine is identical every night. I guess that some days she’s just less tired than others?! She’s been sleeping through though, 90% of the time, which is great.

Her sense of humour at the moment is just WONDERFUL, with lots of giggles and cheekiness. She deliberately does ‘naughty’ things (like trying to escape through the cat flap) just to see how we react – it’s VERY hard to tell her off with a straight face when she’s chuckling away at you, her little eyes shining with delight.

So yes, on the whole, a quiet month, apart from the screaming which hasn’t, er, been quiet at all. I hope this is just a phase, as so many things turn out to be, and eventually she’ll cotton on to how wonderful shopping is (yesterday I was in Baby Gap trying to get her some cool new leggings and she STILL had a meltdown, I mean, HONESTLY!) and then we’ll be able to leave the house again. Having a toddler to entertain is SO much easier in the summer when you can take them to the park and let them roam free, and I do so miss all our outdoor pursuits… I guess it’s time to start investigating some soft play areas. Gulp.