Sunday, 30 April 2017

Switch for Six: Week 1 - A Rollercoaster of Highs and Lows

This week was Real Nappy Week and the first week of Switch for Six, Go Real and Real Nappy for London's campaign to get more people using cloth nappies. After three months of not using cloth nappies, for various reasons, we decided to take the plunge back int the wonderful world of cloth. This week has been a bit of a rollercoaster week, with lots of highs, lows and learning again.

Day 1

On Monday, I wasn't even sure I was going to do Real Nappy Week. We had used cloth nappies with Baobao for nearly 2 years before Xiaobao came along. We had experimented with a few different types, but gNappies was where our cloth nappy love was. Then Xiaobao came along and had reflux. The washing just seemed so high that I wouldn't be able to do it.

Instead I went looking for cloth nappy deals. 'If I can't do it myself, maybe I can help someone else to make the change' I thought. I compiled them all on this post. Even if the deals aren't running anymore, the shops are still amazing small businesses. I went to bed feeling like I hadn't quite done enough.

Day 2

Tuesday. I still wasn't fully convinced we could do it, but then I read this blog post from Christine McRitchie on the Go Real blog. If she could do it with a large family, then we could do it with just two. Baobao and I got to work. We collected our gInserts and Little Lamb bamboo boosters and soaked them in cold water in the bath. This stripped them of any old detergent build up. At the end of the day I put them in the washing machine and washed them one more time, setting the timer so that they finished in the morning. I went to bed feeling a little better.

Day 3

I woke up on Wednesday morning and hung out the different inserts. They didn't smell anymore and any stains had faded, so I knew that the detergent buildup was gone. I also made my first Real Nappy Week order. The wonderful Sewstoppers was offering two for one gNappy recovers on play condition nappies. I haven't had a recover made before, but now seemed like a good time. It will be nice for Xiaobao to have something a little different to Baobao too. I also applied for the RNfL voucher for Xiaobao. I spent the evening stuffing nappies. It felt like this could be a turning point.

Day 4

Thursday involved working out who needed what sizes. Baobao had outgrown mediums again, so we knew she would have to be in larges, but at 12 weeks (today) Xiaobao could be in either smalls or mediums. We decided to try smalls today. It turned out to be a high washing day. Xiaobao possetted on to two outfits and leaked through two small nappies. It seemed like the smalls were the wrong fit for her. Both girls went back into disposables at bedtime (we haven't found a night nappy that works for our toddler yet). I put the two small travel wet bags of nappies in the washing machine and set about finding some wet bags to hold around 15 nappies. I ordered some from Little Sunshine Hut on eBay alongside some breast pads (I keep running out). Thursday was a good day in spite of all the leaks.

Day 5

My toddler learnt the word disposable today. I told her that I would put both girls in disposable nappies while we were out this morning and she could wear a g again when we came home. I didn't want to risk a medium not fitting Xiaobao properly too. As it stands, the medium also leaked on Xiaobao. I'm not sure if I just boosted too much, or if it was just too big generally. Either way it was another big leak day. I've decided I need to get some cloth wipes too. Xiaobao's newborn poo soaked straight through a water wipe today and on to my fingers. This didn't happen with Baobao's formula poo. Something needs to change and it's not the breastfeeding.

Day 6

Today it was Baobao's turn to be leaky. I'm not sure if she has suddenly started doing massive toddler wees or what, but we had to buy emergency tights in Tesco. Xiaobao spent all morning in disposables. We tried one medium gCloth and small pouch combo, which seemed to work. I'll have to try it again to be sure.

Day 7

Baba woke up and one of the first things he said when helping to dress Baobao was "We're going to Nainai's today, so you have to wear a disposable." Not cloth while we're home and then disposables while we're out, not cloth all day in spite of where we were going, but disposables all day. He did take the girls for a couple of hours, so I could catch up on housework, but I felt deflated. Tomorrow is another day, but it almost feels like we're going to be starting at the beginning again. At least all my cloth nappy supplies are set up in the two rooms that we use them in. 

Montessori Challenge - Books

Links are either where I have bought items previously, or a brilliant small business where I shop regularly. I receive nothing for clicking on links, except the warm glow of sharing lovely things with you.

This month, the theme of the Montessori Challenge by Montessori Family is books. We're a book loving family, so this one was both hard and easy.

This week, Baba has been thinking carefully about which books Baobao enjoys the most at bedtime. I've used Carine's Bathroom Questions and these posts at The Kavanaugh Report and How We Montessori to make my own toy questions:

  • Observe the room and how your child is using it. Every time your child asks for help (or when you go and help him without asking), try to see what prevents him to do it by himself.
  • Depending of your child's age, encourage your child to be independent regarding self-care. As rule of thumb, if your child walks, he can attempt most of his self-care needs with little support.
  • What is your position on books? - Montessori books for 0-6 year olds should be content rich, beautiful and avoid fantasy. 
  • What purpose does the book serve? Does it serve a similar purpose to a different book? Do you need multiple colour/number/animal books?

  • We have had a book corner for Baobao since she was about a year old. Recently, I've noticed that her book corner isn't working for her anymore. Instead of taking the books from the shelf and reading them, she was throwing them on the floor and covering them with her dressing up clothes and rolling around in both.

    As a lover of books, I have found this phase difficult. It felt like she was being disrespectful to the books, even though I know that isn't the case. I knew I had to change things around. 

    Here are some of the changes we have made:

    Changes pre-challenge:
    • Implement a book rotation system.

    Challenge inspired changes:
    • Put away books that have become too easy for Xiaobao to have when she is ready
    • Put away books that are too long and do not hold Baobao's attention
    • Set up a new book corner for Baobao, with easy to access books and a cozy designated reading area away from Baobao's dressing up area.
    • Further go through Baobao's books, keeping the books that are beautiful. We kept some element of fantasy, as Baobao is very aware that animals can't really talk etc.

    Possible future changes:
    • Continue with the rotation system, slowly replacing Baobao's board books with paper picture books
    • Set up a book area for Xiaobao in my room and the living room.

    Friday, 28 April 2017

    30 Days to Hands On Play: Play in a Box

     Friday's are our busy day. We go to Toddler Sense in the morning and then quite often end up meeting friends and family or running errands in the afternoon, in preparation for the weekend. It's understandable for Baobao to feel tired and stressed by the end of the day and some simple box play is the perfect way to reconnect.

    Here at Baobao Tea and Soy, we are huge fans of open ended play and cardboard boxes are the ultimate open ended play apparatus. Once you're inside a cardboard box, you are only limited by the power of your imagination. It could be a boat, a car, a castle or even an ancient Egyptian sarcophagus. The possibilities are endless and they're free!

    Baobao is just starting to get the hang of imaginative play. Usually she acts out things she has experienced, such as kitchen play or pretending to be in a car or bus. Tonight she decided to apply the knowledge she has acquired from books and songs.

    At first the box was a boat. Tiger and her sat in the boat, while she sang multiple verses of "Row Row Row the Boat". Next she turned it on its side and it became a rollercoaster. For Christmas, Baobao received two Anne Suess Wimmelbilderbuchen (teeming picture books). One of these is bear themed and features a page where all the bears go to the funfair. She sat in her box going up and down and side to side while singing rollercoaster.

    Have you tried cardboard box play? Give it a try and see what you can imagine today.

    Thursday, 27 April 2017

    30 Days to Hands On Play: Dressing Up

    Baobao and I love to explore small museums, especially when they have child friendly areas. One of our favourites is the William Morris Gallery. It is dedicated to the life and works of the famous designer William Morris and based inside his old home. Activities for children include picture rubbing, building with blocks, drawing based on William Morris' work and dressing up, as well as monthly family days and toddler/pre-school groups. 

    Today we came to dress up. Baobao currently loves the colour green, so this green jacket was instantly her favourite. She decided to wear it while exploring the different toys in the dress up area - blocks, puppets and dragons.


    Then we explored a temporary exhibit of cardboard and papier mache sculptures, based upon William Morris' ideas around factories (PLANTWORKS). Baobao especially enjoyed the flying eye sculpture.

    Monday, 24 April 2017

    Switch For Six: A Real Nappy Challenge

    If you have come here via my social media accounts, then you probably are aware that we are cloth nappy lovers here at Baobao Tea and Soy. So it was with heavy heart that I switched to disposables when Xiaobao was born. I needed a little time to get my head around having two and with all the feeding issues we have had, it took a little while to get back to cloth. About 3 weeks ago, when Xiaobao was 7 weeks, we attempted to start again and failed. Xiaobao has reflux and needed multiple outfit changes per day. Add to that the outfits Baobao or I also had to change and suddenly I was behind on washing. I couldn't cope with the extra washing.

    With this in mind, I was incredibly excited to come across the Switch for Six campaign from Real Nappies for London and Go Real. Launched in conjunction with Real Nappy Week (24-30/04/2017), a  week dedicated to raising awareness of cloth nappy use, Switch for Six is a campaign to encourage parents to switch to cloth nappies for six weeks. Just switching one nappy per day for those six weeks would save 42 nappies from going to landfill. 

    As you know, we love a challenge here at Baobao Tea and Soy. Challenges are the perfect motivation to get me to make a change, no matter how difficult, especially when they carry accountability through sharing your experiences on a hashtag or a group, so the switch for six campaign is perfect for us.

    Join us here for the next six weeks, when I will be sharing a diary of our journey back to using cloth nappies.

    Real Nappy Week Deals 2017

    It's Real Nappy Week (24-30/4/17), the week where all of us cloth bum mums get together to celebrate all things cloth. The theme this year is Switch For Six. Go Real are asking parents who take the pledge to switch to cloth nappies for at least six weeks. The switch can be gradual or all at once.

    For us, here at Baobao Tea and Soy, it's an opportunity to start using our gNappies again. Xiaobao has reflux and needs at least two full outfit changes daily (plus I'll need at least one too), so I had been finding it a little tricky to keep on top of washing. For Real Nappy Week, my challenge is to get at least one of my children back into cloth nappies.

    For lots of cloth nappy using parents, the best part of Real Nappy Week are all of the deals. Some sites have up to 50% off! I'll be updating this post throughout the week with any deals that I find.


    • Cheeky Wipes are doing 25% off of everything site wide. 
    • The Nappy Lady is doing various deals across the site and 15% off  of anything not already discounted using the code RNW17
    • Nappy Ever After are doing 20% off of all Bummis products using the code Bummis2017
    • Yes Bebe are doing up to 30% off across the store, with a free gift if you spend £20 on nappies
    • Babipur have various deals across the store and will be adding gifts to random orders
    • Marie's gBoutique has various offers on gNappies and accessories
    • Kingdom of Fluff has discounts on gNappies 
    • Bambino Mio are doing 15% off of everything
    • Tots Bots are doing 20% off with the code RNW17
    • Sewstoppers is doing Buy 1 Get 1 Free on gNappies recovers
    • L & R Clothing are doing £5 off £20 spend using code RNW17
    • Brilliant Nappies are doing 15% off using the code BNapp17
    • Plush Pants have up to 30% off most single nappies, with more off of some nappy kits and mystery bundle of 3 nappies for £40
    • Boobalou are doing up to 40% off in their Real Nappy Week sale and 10% off non-sale items using the code RNW
    • Funky Monkey Pants are doing 10% off of full price items and a free gift if you spend more than £25
    • Sweetness and Pea are doing deals on specific products that are advertised on their Facebook page
    • Fill Your Pants have 20% off and different freebies throughout the week,

    Saturday, 22 April 2017

    30 Days to Hands On Play: Paint

    For Baobao's birthday we bought her a set of Stockmar Watercolours, to replace her ready mix paints. We much prefer the finish of water colours and Baobao doesn't enjoy the feeling of paint on her hands, so we rarely used the ready mix paint.

    It has taken two months, but Baobao now has learnt the procedure of watercolours. She dips her brush in the water, then brushes it gently on to the paint and paints on to her paper. I don't have to remind her anymore.

    Today's picture was spring themed. Baobao decided she wanted to paint some flowers. She chose her colours carefully, rinsing the brush before changing the colour. She then hung her picture up on the fireplace independently.

    Friday, 21 April 2017

    30 Days to Hands On Play: Have a Party

    When she's not busy partaking in physical play, Baobao really enjoys serving tea. Today we turned it into a tea party, with Tiger and Baby.

    We set out a blanket on the floor, got cups for baby and tiger and then set out some food for Baobao. We decided on pineapple with custard, a food that Baobao doesn't have very often, and a babyccino

    Baobao enjoyed the change in routine of eating on the floor and sharing with her favourite soft toys.

    Thursday, 20 April 2017

    30 Days to Hands On Play: In The Kitchen

    Every evening when Baba gets home, he cooks with Baobao. It is one of her favourite times of day, a time that allows her to reconnect with him after being away from him all day. She helps with preparing foods, using her own utensils to stir, cut and mix foods.

    Today's meal was a freezer meal. We are still getting back into routine after Xiaobao arrived two months ago. Baobao chose each piece individually, placing them carefully into a cold frying pan, before Baba cooked the meal. Hopefully our meals will be more involved soon.

    Monday, 17 April 2017

    30 Days to Hands On Play: A Reading Tent

    Sharing picture books has always been one of my favourite parts of being a teacher. A love of reading has been one of the things I was desperate to share with Baobao and Xiaobao. 

    Recently, Baobao has preferred physical play to quiet time reading. When she has touched her books downstairs, it has been to throw them on the floor and roll over the. Today's challenge to create a reading tent seemed like a good way to encourage that love of reading again.

    Baobao was instantly intrigued by her new book area and took the opportunity to 'read' her books in new positions. She spent most of the day exploring different books and 'reading' them to her baby or tiger.

    Then we sat down on the armchair together and I read some of the stories for Baobao, while feeding Xiaobao. A success all round.

    Friday, 14 April 2017

    Baobao's Activity Time: Making Easter decorations

    Looking for Easter inspiration? Here is an art activity I did with Baobao last year.

    This week Baobao and I have been celebrating Ostara and preparing for Easter. On Monday we decorated wooden eggs purchased from Craftshapes.

    We got into our painting clothes and I set the paint out in a way that Baobao could access herself.

    Baobao enjoyed mixing the colours and dabbing the paint on to the eggs. 

    This activity is a great way for children to join in with preparations for Easter. 

    I narrated what Baobao was doing at every opportunity, giving her access to vocabulary she might not usually hear.

    I helped a little, painting a base colour on to the eggs.

    Baobao then decorated on top.

    Our finished eggs.

    I noticed that Baobao had really enjoyed painting the tuff spot, while decorating the eggs. Once the eggs were finished,  we had some free sensory play.