One of my many worries in pregnancy was that the already awful sleep I was experiencing due to an extremity in the ribs, was about to get worse. I’m the kind of girl who is flagging on a night out at 11pm. The first to admit defeat and not make it to a midnight feast – the thought of sleep deprivation was terrifying to me.
So I did my research. Surely throwing money at this potential scenario would make it go away – I stocked up on the must-haves:
- A Sleepyhead – the go-to sleep miracle for newborns! Amazon reviews cannot lie! “My baby slept through the night from day 1! “It’s saved my life!” “I do yoga while my baby is in it!” etc.
- A Snuzpod cosleeper – all the rage. Scandi, aesthetically pleasing (before puked on) and means your baby is so close to you but not so close that you’re in the DANGER YOU WILL SQUASH YOUR BABY IF YOU PUT IT IN YOUR BED zone.
- A Ewan the Dream Sheep, who makes the sounds of the womb and glows as if the baby is still in there. Why the terrifying eyes and short battery life I have no clue but ah, how this trio would work in perfect harmony to lull my baby off to sleep.
We returned from hospital and deployed the trio. They failed instantly and repeatedly – the baby would scream if put on a surface other than a parent’s chest and we quickly realised we had to sleep in shifts. So other tactics had to be used because as fun as it sounds to watch Gossip Girl from 2-4am it isn’t when it goes on for weeks.
We warmed up the Snuzpod with a hot water bottle, put my smelly milk-stained t-shirt around the mattress. Didn’t work. Bought a heavy duty fan, convinced it was too warm, a footless sleeping bag, more blankets, less blankets, borrowed a friend’s Cocoonababy, window open, window closed, a short sleeved vest, a long sleeved vest, dairy free diet, IT MUST BE ALL THE ALMONDS I ATE – no more almonds, more almonds?, an air purifier, a humidifier, a dehumidifier, a wedgehog (baby must be at a 45 degree angle), swaddle, unswaddle, the sound of rain, alpha music, red light, no light, blackout blinds, a cashmere mix sleeping bag, trapped a nerve trying to put a boob and half my body into the Snuzpod.
Weeks of this suck all round. The baby hated it and so did we. So in desperation I tucked her into my arm in my bed. And she slept.
And woke up again. Every hour or so, but those were hours we could sleep too. Following safe co-sleeping guidelines we could all sleep. And loads of people, it turns out, do this too. Because you know, sanity is useful.
I don’t sleep in here
A year later we sleep like this, cuddled together. It takes practice but sometimes I’m not even totally awake when I’m getting her back to sleep. I am the best ‘sleep aid’ for my baby, totally free. Although a Superking size bed is probably the best investment we’ve ever made. The Snuzpod does make a convenient bedside table though.
I wish I’d known my aptitude for sleep deprivation was so good. I should have partied till 4am while I had the chance.
It’s been 4 years since we started ripping apart our house to put it back together again. When we first came to the house, we both fell in love with the huge wooden trusses in the roof…only to find that we needed to take them out to open up the space and create a room.
Since then, we’ve been drying out the wood with a plan to make a table from it. Paul had this at the top of his to-do list for a long time until we had a baby and he realised that making a table is a proper skill.
So, when an old friend of mine from School set up his new business Heartwood Furniture, we commissioned him to make us a table and bench from the trusses.
The wood was knackered, blackened over the years and cracked, but we had a lot of it so the guys cleaned it up beautifully and made it as light as possible for us.
After eating tea from a car boot sale table for four years, it’s amazing to have a proper dining table in our kitchen. It works a treat with our Kartell Masters chairs too.
We love it. It means a lot to us as even if we move on from this house, we’ll always have a piece of it.
There’s something lovely about a wooden toy isn’t there? The durability, colours and lack of flashing lights appeal to me. So whilst River has a Jumperoo relegated to the hallway and a handful of noisy plastic toys, I prefer her toy basket to have things in it that will last, especially as she has a penchant for chewing everything.
The best shops I’ve found for wooden toys are are TK Maxx (tbf best shop on earth), Ikea and believe it or not, Asda who do a great train set. Online faves include Babi Pur, Love to be Natural and Myriad where you can find some gorgeous ethical toys.
Here are our five current faves:
1. Grimms Rainbow
Best toy I’ve ever seen. Beautifully made, its concept is simple – a rainbow made out of curved pieces of wood. What you can do with it depends only on your imagination, I’ve seen marble runs, dolls houses and all sorts of sculptures. Granted, River at 9 months old is pretty much just into throwing each piece around but her older cousins (2 and 4) absolutely love it. Paul and I are loving it too!
Ours is the pastel version of the 10 piece rainbow and bought from Babi Pur.
2. Train by Orange Tree Toys
River’s grandparents bought her this beauty for Christmas. It’s a beautiful toy and is proudly displayed on our sideboard when not in use. River loves shuffling along with it and attempting to eat the animal heads. Again, it’s a good one because it can be reconfigured in loads of ways.
Train at Little Nut Tree Toys
The old ones are the best and a basic shape sorter is a great learning toy. I like Ikea’s house sorter but ours has an ingenious elastic bit to get the shapes out. Lovely patterns on each shape, and they’re numbered too for extra baby boffin points.
Bit of a find at M&S (cushions also M&S and can’t honestly say this is coincidental)
4. Name Block Puzzle
I’m a sucker for personalisation and this beauty didn’t disappoint when it arrived in its own felt pouch for safe storage. Choose your font, colours and add little illustrations if you like to form your own design. The blocks feel expensive and make a satisfying clinking noise when your baby once again, tries to eat them.
Personalised name block puzzle from TinyMe
We also have an alphabet block puzzle from ELC which is gorgeous too and many more letters for your buck!
Early Learning Centre Alphabet Puzzle
River is very into my guitar at the moment as I play her a song before bed (sounds very Little House on the Prairie but is really just a way to kill time) so a little instrument of her own was a lovely gift.
This small Xylophone from Hape toys is fab, each block bounces a bit and it isn’t too heavy for when it gets pulled out of the toy box and inevitably flung around the room. Modelled by my very old bear, Ted.
Xylophone from Cottage Toys