Confessions of a bottle sterilising sinner

My sterilisation sins confessed…

WP_20160229_001You purchase a shiny microwave steriliser and even clean the microwave. You place all the bottle components in their correct spot in the steriliser making sure the steam can circulate beautifully.

You read the instructions on the formula box and re-read them again just to be sure. After measuring everything in your meticulously clean measuring jug you empty the kettle, fill it up again with sparkly new water, boil and wait. You wait exactly 30 minutes for the water to cool. You set a timer just to be sure. Then go go go, get that bottle made up. Then you frantically try to cool it to drinking temperature with some crazy hand dance moves under the cold tap. Your other hand is busy trying to console the “hungry” baby.

Baby decides she doesn’t want the bottle after all. You discard milk immediately. In 5 minutes you repeat the above process again, making sure you wash your hands first of course.

Meanwhile, baby drops a dummy. You swoop in immediately. After thoroughly washing it in soapy water and sterilising it again…you hand it proudly back to the hysterical baby. Add “buy more dummies” to the shopping list.

Tiredness creeps in. You wonder if it would be terrible to make up a bottle a little ahead of feeding time? Just one. Baby seems to survive OK. How about two? Before you know it you’re secretly making up a full day of bottles and putting them in the fridge. You’re on the slippery slope.

Before you know it you’re guessing how much water’s in the steriliser and that water’s been cooling for 30 minutes…right? Can I fit all four bottles in the steriliser at once? The lid’s a bit wonky but I’m sure it’ll be OK…right..?

Ahhh, they’ve dropped their dummy again. I’m sure it’ll be OK if it’s rinsed under a tap?

You pick a dog hair off a sterilised bottle. It’s a sterile hair…right? You watch baby eat a mouldy rice cake off the floor and justify your actions.

You Google “What age can I stop sterilising bottles?”

They drop their dummy again. You wipe it on your trousers and hand it back….

Please tell me it’s not just me? If you’ve managed a year of perfect sterilising then well done. I’m just not that perfect!! Please don’t call social services…I’m trying my best:-)

My Petit Canard

Top Spots for NI Tots: Armagh Planetarium

Wee Green Folk thought we’d try join in  with NI Science Festival this weekend and made a trip to Armagh Planetarium along with Chewbacca and some of his Star Wars buddies – I have no idea what the rest are called! WP_20160227_004

Armagh is about an hour’s drive from Belfast which coincided beautifully with a morning nap for B. J was suitably entertained with  a sticker book and repeated explanations that we were going to Armagh to see model planets and were not actually going to the moon…I like to call it managing expectations! I find the line defining reality is rather blurred and broken in the mind of a 2 year old.

Of course we arrived spot on 10am  – the few benefits of early starts. The carpark was empty except for a dog and his smiley owner.

Inside the planetarium we were pleased to find admission was free and there were still places available for the “Little Yellow Star” preschool show…bonus. We planted a flag on the moon and stuck our heads through various cardboard cut out astronauts. We even made our own rockets. As you can see arts and crafts are not our forte. The rocket was launched outside in a watery whoosh much to J’s delight! B looked distinctly unimpressed but then our rocket was pretty shoddy!WP_20160227_014

“Little Yellow Star” was a pre-school animated cartoon in the big domed theatre. It was a lovely experience and kept both kids entertained for 15 minutes – no mean feat. It ran through some of the star constellation animal shapes. I had no idea there was  a whale up there! The narrator was live and he did a great job!

Downstairs there are various exhibitions with enough ipads and light projection shows to entertain little ones for a wee while. The adults were a little confused by the 3D glasses – maybe these days our eyes are just too used to fancy graphics to be easily impressed! It would have been fascinating to read some of the displays – maybe we’ll come back for a adult visit one day.

Outside the planetarium is the Astropark which makes a lovely walk. There’s a scale model of the solar system and we enjoyed standing on each planet in turn. Beware to read the markers. It wasn’t until the end we realised earth was scaled up by 200 times! We only made it as far as Pluto. It’s tiny – no wonder it’s been downgraded to a  minor planet! Anyway, little legs were getting tired and a cheesy sandwich picnic was calling. This was our first outdoor picnic of 2016 and a lovely family moment… if not a bit chilly. All in all it was a lovely day out and a nice chance to introduce J to some science although I suspect he still thinks the moon’s made of cheese- you win some you lose some!WP_20160227_026

Review: Little Tikes Activity Garden

Review: Little Tikes Activity Garden

It sits a little uncomfortably with me how much my kiddies love this toy. I’m a lover of slow toys made with natural, sustainable materials. So far for B’s 1st birthday I’ve bought her a xylophone and Robinia blocks from the lovely Myriad Toys. They arrived yesterday and are beautiful….

…I digress. I console myself that if we must have a large plastic toy in the middle of our living room at least it’s a very much loved and played with bit of plastic. To be fair Little Tikes don’t rate too badly on the ethical front anyway. Ethical Consumer gives MGA Entertainment an Ethiscore of 14/20 which is actually really high!!! Good news for all those Baby Born’s and Baby Annabel’s out there as it’s the same company behind them. However, I admit this was an impulse buy and not a premeditated ethical purchase! Luckily this is one of very few successful impulse buys. Two years on and we’re on our second child and she loves it just as much as her big brother.PicMonkey Collage 10

We bought it when J was just starting to sit up. We propped him up inside and he spent ages playing peekaboo and passing balls through the hole in the window. Once he got on the move he loved crawling through the open “slide” end. Now he’s 2 1/2 it’s “My house” where he role plays being the postman or the Tesco delivery man! It took him a while to master the doorbell although his sister has caught on much quicker!

11 month old B loves it equally as much and has just mastered the shape sorter letter box. She’s also found it a fantastic place to practice pulling up and now cruises around in circles.

Probably most surprisingly it’s one of the few a places that both kiddies will play together…for a little while at least!

The only parts that they don’t bother with is the telescope and the electronic phone unit. To be honest I’m glad because telescope tends to block the door a little and the phone is actually quite hard to put back onto the receiver. Both of which would probably make my 2 year old’s head explode with frustration! I was trying to imagine what I would put in the phone panel as an alternative. My top three ideas were:

  1. Climbing frame/wall. They climb over it anyway so why not make it purpose built!
  2. Ball track and pounder
  3. Lots and lots of holes to feed a ball through – the hole in the window alone has given hours of fun!

Anyway, have you experienced the joy of a Little Tikes Activity Garden? One of the few plastic toys that I’d say is well worth the money.


Top Spots for NI Tots – Transport Museum

top spots

A lovely baby and/or toddler day out is the Transport Museum at Cultra, about 20 minutes out of Belfast heading towards Bangor. It’s on the same site as the Folk Park but with two slightly snotty kids in tow we opted for the indoor transport museum. It would have been much better value to visit both in one day but the Wee-est Green Folk just don’t have the stamina! We paid £9 per adult, under 4’s go free.

PicMonkey Collage 8

Plenty of parking (on a midweek, term time morning at opening time!) onsite so it’s very accessible – we didn’t encounter a step all morning! It’s also right beside Cultra station if you fancy public transport. Inside, Berkeley Bear is on hand to guide you through he exhibitions but, lets face it, if you have a toddler he will be leading the way! The vast dome shaped exhibition is every toddler’s dream and well set up to let them loose quite safely (mind the gap in a few places!) Full of giant steam trains some of which you can climb aboard and pretend to drive. The biggest steam engine built in Ireland is an impressive piece of engineering. Our toddler appreciated it’s big wheels but for him the railbus was the outright winner!

There is a cafe on this floor. It wasn’t open when we were there and to be honest Mr Picky is only currently happy with a very specific cheesy sandwich anyway. Bringing our own packed lunch is also good bribery for getting him back to the car – carrot  cheesy sandwich on a stick!! Personally, I would have loved a cup of coffee and a scone!

I’m sure the Titanic exhibition is great but I’m afraid our toddler careered through it in search of the next ramp to run down. We hurtled into the bus section. You can feel old remembering when you used to ride one of the buses only decommissioned in 1994! If, like us, you are currently in potty training mode this is a good place for a toilet stop! To fid the toilets proceed passed the horse drawn ice cream van, right beside the big yellow removal lorry. Again, you can briefly reminisce that when we were wee there were loads of red telephone boxes on the streets.

The ground floor is a collection of cars ranging from vintage to relatively modern. Of course the locally built De Lorean sits pride of place beside it’s timeline charting it’s rise to fame and fall from grace!

At this point we abandoned our trip. One sleepy baby was running out of rice cakes and a hungry toddler was getting fractious. We headed back to the car. If your children are still fully fuelled there is an aviation building on down the lane. We’ve been there before and it’s fantastic. Well worth a visit to see all the planes and sit up in a cockpit.

Safe to say we had a lovely morning. Mr Picky enjoyed his cheesy sandwich on the way home, read his take-home Berkeley Bear book and fell fast asleep shorty afterwards….perfect:-)


Sharing: An art or a science?

WP_20160224_001I have a 2.5 year old and an almost one year old. The littlest one loves her older brother but the feeling really isn’t really reciprocated! He likes her in theory but in practice it’s a very different matter. I often look on jealously at other people’s toddlers being so loving and gentle to their baby siblings. But, I console myself that I’m watching the one’s who have left the house! I hold onto the hope that there are lots of other Mummy’s stuck at home, lying across the living floor to create a Mummy wall, between a besotted crawler and a toddler yelling “IT’S MINES!!!”Please tell me it’s not just me!

First off, I have a feeling I’ll have to re-adjust my expectations. Word has it, kids don’t really understand the concept of sharing until nearer 3 – that’s just developmentally the way it is😦 Call me impatient but if you’ve found a way to speed up the process PLEASE share it with me! In the meantime here’s what the web is advising:

  1. Re-brand sharing as “Taking Turns”
  2. Try not going bonkers when your toddler yells “I don’t want to share” for the millionth time. Positive reinforcement is the way to go.WP_20151216_009(1)
  3. Don’t force them to share too much or it might teach them more about resentment than generosity.
  4. Hide away extra special toys if there’s a play date. Sharing less prized possessions is a better entry level.Set up activities which lend themselves to parallel play – blocks, sandpit etc.
  5. Distraction, distraction, distraction.
  6. Lead by example.
  7. Don’t worry….you’re 2 year old is acting like a 2 year old.

Any other Mummy walls out there? Any veteran Mummy’s with tips? Is buying two of everything the only way to cope……?


Why a fast labour is not necessarily “lucky”!

WP_20150315_002 2Both of my childbirth experiences have been short and snappy and I am blessed with 2 beautiful (not that I’m biased!), happy (if a toddler if ever truly happy!) children. All be it one decided to show up 6 weeks prematurely but that’s another story! However, I want to share a little of my journey to dispel the myth that fast labours are somehow lucky. I’m not trying to score points – there’s no competition- but next time you meet someone who’s had a baby in less than 2 hours maybe you’ll understand why she doesn’t necessarily feel very lucky. Here’s why…


There isn’t any! You ring the hospital and they say take a bath and stay at home – you’ve only just started. Little do they (or you) know that everything is about to go from nought to sixty in 10 minutes. Before you know it you’re desperately trying to get to the hospital wishing your car did nought to sixty just as quickly.

Birth Plan?

It has probably flown out of the car window as your partner ran that red light. You arrive at the hospital and no-one’s ready. They might have a bed, they might not. They weren’t expecting you so soon. You’ve sent labour ward into a scramble. You attempt to get yourself undressed in the seconds between contractions.


Obviously there’s pain! But it’s far too late for pain relief which is unfortunate because your  getting to experience what should be 12 hours of pain in less than 2! There’s no time for your body to adapt or find a coping mechanism. If you wanted a natural birth then you’ve got your wish but there won’t be “Sounds of the Ocean” playing softly in the background and the ship has long sailed on all those yoga moves you’ve been practising for weeks.


Your partner will have no idea what’s going on. There’s too much chaos for anyone to explain. You won’t have the faintest idea who all the faces are. No chance of learning any names during this birthing experience.


Baby is probably fine although a little more stressed than average. You, on the other hand, are much more likely to have tears which need stitching. There’s no time for things to stretch gradually if you know what I mean! In my experience it feels like you’ve been hit by  bus and are completely in shock – shaking like a leaf and totally confused. Then someone hands you a baby! That “special moment” doesn’t seem quite as special as other Mummy’s make out. You feel a little cheated by the fast labour, almost like you’d missed out on a rite of passage.

So there you have it. Childbirth is the most deeply personal thing a woman will experience and everyone’s journey is completely different. You might have had a fast birth and feel incredibly lucky?! Anyway, I hope these few thoughts give a little insight. Time certainly helps the memories of childbirth fade but if you meet a Mummy, especially in the early days after a fast labour, all I ask is that you maybe think twice before saying, “You’re so lucky!”


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