They say that’s it’s good to have a bedtime routine for your baby.
A bath, a story and a drink of milk all feature in the various books and websites I’ve seen. Our bedtime routine has all of these things.
But I think we might be unique in the world to have included laughing with Will Cohu in our routine.
It happened by accident, as some of the best things do. Will wrote a book, Out of the Woods. It was first published by Short Books in 2007. There are illustrations by Mungo McCourt. It is about trees.
One day, I decided I would start reading to Junior about trees as he went to bed. I picked Will’s book because its a nice read. I thought Junior might learn a little as I reqd, even if he didn’t really understand.
But it was too dark – the first part of our routine is to switch off the light. As I fumbled with the book the inside back cover opened. And Junior leant forward, pointed at the photo of Will Cohu and laughed. I like to think he was laughing with Will Cohu, not at him.
I love the sound of Junior laughing. So, every night, I get the Will Cohu book out, find his picture and Junior laughs. Then we look at another book before I settle Junior into his cot.
I’ve tried the Mungo McCourt illustrations on Junior but they don’t have the same effect. I’ve not tried pictures of anyone else, I don’t want to risk it not working.
So, if your bedtime routine isn’t working, don’t give up. Try adding a little laughter to the situation. I know just what you can try. I know it wasn’t why he published this book, but Will Cohu might just get you Out of the Woods.
How quickly a year goes when you’re a father! My baby is almost a toddler and he now his first pair of shoes, which we bought from Gently Elephant this week. He also has Wellington boots too but they’re still a bit big.
Continuing on from an earlier post about the baby’s favourite toys, there’s a new favourite. Baby’s mother took a plastic box that had contained a Littlelife Poncho Towel that grandmother had bought, added some glitter stars and other things and sealed it all up. Now baby has a shaker with lots of bright colours to chuck around.
It will probably break at some point and then we’ll be finding these little stars for days to come. That idea reminds me of when some Dutch friends came to stay. They hid chocolate eggs around our flat for us. We found them here and there for many days afterwards. One turned up over a year later!
Baby’s mother also put some of these stars in a salad dressing tube that had come with a lunch I bought on our holiday in France in June. She added some water and sealed it up and hey presto, another shaker toy. This one has been much less popular with the baby, though I enjoy shaking it!
These two toys were made the same day that I came home from work with a £2 charity shop purchase of a Habitat wooden truck. I got it from the Lama’s Pyjamas in Bethnal Green. Not as shiny as the shakers, it has played more of a bit-role in the baby’s life so far, but I’m pleased with it at least. According to the label it is suitable for 18m+ but I’ve always assumed such guidance is like a best-before date. You use at your own risk.
For the past three nights baby has taken himself off to sleep when he’s been ready. I put him in his cot, give him a kiss and a hug, then he winds himself down. Could this be a pattern? Is this the holy land where baby gets himself off to sleep when he’s tired?
Tonight I was sitting with baby, willing him to go to sleep. It has been a long day, but I was content. Except for the fact that it had been over half an hour and he was still awake. Was I wrong to think of a pattern?
Then I started to wonder if I’d been wrong to think of the pattern. Perhaps I’d tempted fate.
But then I thought about something my director had said to me at work today. I was worrying about a piece of work. ‘Jez, why worry?’ she asked. ‘Think about the work finished and feeling good about a great piece of work.’ I might have scoffed at that at the time, but just now, in the mildly darkened bedroom I wondered if it could work.
So I began to visualize my baby, sleeping. And then I visualized him full of beans when his grandparents visit tomorrow because he’s had a great night’s sleep. I visualized him asleep again.
Then he yawned. And about two minutes after I began the visualization exercise, baby had fallen asleep. Result!
That was about 45 minutes ago. I’m sitting here picturing him waking up in another 9 hours – I may as well be ambitious!
For everyone of us who has borne a child, they are the centre of our world. In the UK alone, around 723,913 babies were born in 2011 (the latest year that the figures are available for). Today though, a new king has been born. Well, he’s third in line to the throne. Good luck to him, I say. I’m not in favour of the monarchy but I don’t wish ill on anyone and this particular lad will have a lot of attention on him for the rest of his life.
It was mildly amusing to me to note that my family are keeping in line with the royals. My father and prince Charles were born in the same year, and my son and the new prince were born in the same school year. Only William and I got out of sync.
Tonight I had my own triumph: my son got himself off to sleep. We’ve been working towards this for a while. I only hope that tonight wasn’t a one-off in honour of this royal occasion!
My son is now around 9 months old and he loves playing with his toys. We have been delighted to receive so many lovely gifts from friends and family but most of what he loves is stuff that we had around the house already. Some of it we’re happy to give him, some of it we’re not. Before he was born we read in several places that babies will make do with anything you give them and it’s all true. You just have to remember this when you’re living in a consumer society and it’s easy to start coveting all sorts of things you don’t really need.
Here’s his top 10 list of ‘toys’ that come with many households or can be freely or cheaply obtained.
1. Spotty Otter clothes tags
Yes, our baby’s most enduring toy over the past 3 months has been a set of Spotty Otter clothes tags. We bought our baby some Spotty Otter clothes in the sale from Little Trekkers, with a bit of money that great-grandmother had given us. The clothes are nice bright shirts and shorts and a pair of trousers that look just like my hiking trousers, but much smaller.
These tags are amazing. They’re so good that when we went on holiday to south-west France we took a set with us. They’re particularly good when he’s having his nappy changed as they help us to keep him relatively still. There’s some high contrast black/white colour scheme and some bright colours too.
2. Shuttlecock and biscuit tin
The shuttlecock became a toy after baby started cruising and could reach our games shelf. Not long after he started chucking everything from the shelf onto the floor, we put his books there instead and moved his games into a carrier bag out of his reach, for now. The shuttlecock is light and has two different textures.
Recently, baby has started using the shuttlecock with the biscuit tin – his new percussion instrument. It makes a nice soft noise. The biscuit tin doubles up as a store for smaller toys – like a shuttlecock!
3. The whisk
The whisk is a great toy and takes one hell of a beating! When he’s in the kitchen he can wave it around and we can imagine that he’ll enjoy cooking some day. It is light and generally gets tugged along as the kid crawls about. It has no value to us and isn’t used very much so we don’t mind that he’s dragging it around on the floor.
4. Pine cone
This pine cone came from the Bangor University halls of residence, which are opposite a nice B&B we stayed in recently. Baby got his first pine cone when we were on holiday in France. It’s an unusual object and before it dries out too much doesn’t tend to break off parts, though that tends to change.
We discovered sticks as toys when we were on a hike up a mountain in France. We didn’t want to get anything more valuable out of the bag as we were walking up the steep edge of a cliff and baby was on my front in his sling. We found that he could happily wave around a stick for several minutes and pass it between his hands. When he dropped it we simply found another one because sticks are (almost) everywhere. We do have to watch to make sure that he doesn’t eat this toy and sometimes he pokes us with them, but otherwise it is a brilliant toy.
Another kitchen item this one, providing hours of fun. Usually given to baby when he’s in the kitchen but it has been known to travel about the flat. It can also be used for basic games of peepo and worn as a hat on occasion.
It’s true that babies love boxes. Well, our one does at least. They’re good for exploring and investigating and if they’re small enough they come in handy when you need to wave something around.
We haven’t worked out how to hide our cables out of reach and our flat is not particularly spacious. Baby’s bedroom used to be our study so now our tech equipment has been displaced and they’re easy for prying hands and an inquisitive mind to find. We’re still looking for a solution to this problem but until we find it baby considers them one of his toys.
9. Our books
He has his own books but baby likes ours just as much. Especially as they can be eaten and bent around and pushed about. Anything that’s left in reach (any of our books really) is a target. And if they’ve got another baby on the cover, that’s all the better. We’ve come up with a solution to his book enjoyment, which is to squeeze so many on a shelf that he can’t pull any off. It won’t be many years until we’re encouraging him to take them down to read.
10. Musical instruments
These were a gift from grandma at Christmas and can count in the toy category or not, as you see fit. Recently ball has been thrown against the tambourine and drumming is either done with the hand or any available stick, especially a maracas. He has a min-tambourine that I picked up from Lama’s Pyjamas for about 50p and a similarly priced small maracas from a charity shop in Balham. The latter was the gift that kept on giving while we were on holiday and was the only thing guaranteed to settle baby, which we discovered during a fractious car ride in a rain storm on the last leg of our journey out.
Whatever you think of Michael McIntyre, he’s got some great lines and stories to tell. One of my favourites is his story about a bus driver leading a group of people in the snow up to Muswell Hill when the bus itself isn’t running.
Today I discovered that little people have their own version of this that combines the two – the vomit sneeze. It comes about from consuming a lot of breast milk and not all of it being digested. Little bits get vomited up now and then.
And little people do a great sneeze and every time they do one it looks like they’ve sneezed for the first time: ‘what was that?’ their faces say.
So today’s surprise was the one that Michael McIntyre didn’t cover in his routine, the vomit sneeze. It comes when there’s a small amount of vomit that comes out of the mouth instantaneously followed by a sneeze.
As I was facing a little person today, I was on the receiving end of a vomit sneeze and ended up with small spots of sick all over my shirt.
There’s only one suitable reaction to this – have a chuckle and then reach for the nearest muslin cloth.
Father, Quaker, communicator, fundraiser and networker