Category Archives: Developments

How we ditched the dummy.

From around 6 weeks old, our little sweetheart had taken great comfort in sucking soundly on his dear dummy (or dodo as we liked to call it). From the minute we put it in his little mouth, he really took to it. I know many babies (myself included, as my mom reminded me) completely refuse a dummy altogether. As I mentioned in my earlier posts; I found the first few weeks of Matthew’s life to be rather challenging. He was a clingy-need-my-mama-have-to-be-held-all-the-time kind of baby. (You get the picture)

I had read a lot about dummies and the pros and cons, as new mama; I scrounged through countless amounts of articles, blogs and forums as many of us do. Just hoping to do right by this new life we’ve brought into the world.


After our trip to South Africa in December, we had decided that it was high time Matt gave up his beloved ‘dodo’. We knew this was not going to be an easy feat, in fact I was prepared for the worst. At 18 months old, Matthew was only using his dummy for sleeping and occasionally if he was a bit grumpy. Even so, I realised how attached he was to it and braced myself for major meltdowns at nap and bedtimes in particular.

I know many people can be quite judgmental when they see babies or (even worse) toddlers with a dummy, and to be honest, before I had Matthew, I was probably one of them saying, ‘Oh, he’s far too big to be walking around with a dummy…’ We are so quick to judge others and their parenting choices, without actually knowing what their personal circumstances are. When Matt was only a few weeks old, it was our saving grace, and if I could go back in time, I wouldn’t hesitate to give him the dummy again. It honestly worked wonders for helping him fall asleep and calming him down just about instantly when he was upset. So there is absolutely zero judgment coming from my side! I think parents quickly realise, that sometimes you’ve got to do the things that maybe you didn’t agree with before you kids. (When we thought we knew it all!)

Having said that, I personally began feeling embarrassed giving Matt his dummy in public. Although he was only a year and a half, he was (and still is) by no means a small boy, and in my mind, he did look a bit too old to be sucking away at his dodo.

So we set the date… The 15th January 2018… The day we flew from Johannesburg back to London would be the last he saw of his little buddy. After researching different ways of giving up the dummy and chatting with my sister who had been through it recently with her son, I decided to go cold turkey on this mission and literally throw away every single dodo we owned. This is how it went…

Day 1: Woke up and all the dodos had vanished from sight. Matthew was perfectly fine during the morning as usual, but then came the dreaded nap time. Normally, Matt would be put into his cot and I stay sat next to him while he gently drifts off to sleep. That unfortunately wasn’t the case this day. I tried the usual technique, I even held his hand. After a few minutes of restlessness, he started calling for his ‘dodo’, the call turned into a cry, that progressed into a scream. My heart was breaking knowing exactly what he craved and me denying him his comfort. The comfort he’d known just about his whole little life. Eventually I picked him up and embraced him warmly. He fell asleep in my arms, tears streaming down his sweet face.

Bed time went pretty much the same, this time, he was sucking on his fingers, so desperate for his dummy.  I sang to him and held him and he eventually fell asleep. It was exhausting and emotionally draining to see him so upset. I left his room with tears in my eyes, praying that he’d sleep through the night.  Thank goodness he did!  That was day one, done and dusted… How many more to go before his dummy addiction was no longer?

Day 2: I felt like giving in and going straight to the shop to buy more dummies after day one. I’m so glad we persisted. Nap time and bed time went pretty much the same as day one, with Matt still sucking on his fingers for some comfort, but it didn’t last as long as the first day. By the time he fell asleep, I saw a glimmer of light, a bit of hope that actually… he’s going to be ok without it.

Day 3: I think he’d started to forget about his dummy. He didn’t ask for it at nap time or bed time for that matter. There was still a bit of fussing to get asleep, but today he went down in his cot. A bit emotional, and some whinging, but no tears! Gosh, I think we’ve been through the worst.

Day 4: We are dummy free! And back to our usual bed time routines. Three difficult days, but it’s almost as if he’s forgotten he ever had one. So to anyone who’s going through the same situation, stick it out and don’t give in. You will get through this.

About 3 weeks after giving them up, Matthew’s friend came over to play at our house. He walked in the door with a dummy in his mouth (the exact same brand as the ones Matt used to have) I was secretly mortified… we hadn’t seen his friend for a while and his mum wasn’t aware that Matt no longer had one. I didn’t know what Matt would do, how would he react? He pointed at his friend’s mouth and said, ‘dodo’. And every time he found the dummy, he would gleefully run up to him and put it back in his mouth! Success! Phew! Now I know he’s done with them for good.


Toddler days at 14-18 months.

It has been far too long since my last post, and so much has happened I don’t know where to begin… Matt at 14 months old seems like a lifetime ago already! In the meantime; we have moved from east to north London, been to Ireland for Claire and Danny’s wedding and we’ve just arrived back from a  glorious holiday in South Africa. All the while Matthew is blossoming into the most beautiful of characters (on the one hand) and on the other hand; signs of the dreaded toddler tantrums has reared its not so beautiful head! We’ll get to that later.

Let’s start off with the good bits shall we? First off, the move from Canning Town to New Southgate has been lovely (tiring, but lovely). We are living in a 2-bedroom house in a tidy, leafy suburb. We have a quirky, little brekkie spot just up the road and we have discovered some wonderful parks and activities nearby. We even have our very own patch of grass! Londoners will appreciate just how precious even the tiniest piece of outdoor space is. We are happy here and Matt and I have even managed to make one or two friends in the few months that we’ve been here. I’ve made a real conscious effort to do so in order not to become isolated and literally go nuts. And honestly it’s so lovely having other mums (and in some instances grannies and nannies) to chat to. It’s also paramount to Matt’s social development that he gets to interact with other tots.

His physical development is coming along well. He’s still tall for his age, and weighs in at a solid 12.4kg (18 months). He’s now wearing 18-24 month and 2-3 year clothing and his shoe size is 6.5. He loves to run everywhere and his becoming very sturdy while doing so. (Not so much arm flapping in the process) IMG_1384

He continues to loves climbing (on everything) and just generally being busy like most kids his age. Matt loves the swings and slides and playing with all the apparatus at the park. My mom and dad had put a swing set up in their their garden and let’s just say Matt was in his complete element! Playing with cars and trains (in fact anything with wheels), building blocks and being in the sand are some of his firm favourites.  He still adores ‘reading’ story books, especially ones with animal characters.

As far as his language development is concerned, he’s progressing in leaps and bounds. He’s able to communicate whether he wants something to eat and also responds with ‘no’ or a ‘yay’ and nodding of the head for yes. Which takes the guess work out of what may have been wrong. I can imagine the more he’s able to communicate, the less fuss we will have. His words are coming along well, but we haven’t had a word explosion just yet… “Mama, dada, shoes, keys, bubbles, nana (banana), no no no,” are among his favourite words still. Recently he has said ‘two, tree and there.’


Since we got back from South Africa (I’ll tell you all about that trip next time) I am pleased to say we have successfully gone 5 days (and counting) without his beloved dodo (dummy). That’s also another post in itself, but for now, let’s just say he’s been a real trooper. I am so proud.

We are so blessed to witness how Matthew is thriving. He’s a beautiful, fun loving soul. We’ll have to start thinking about his second birthday party soon.

Page Boy at 14 months old… and how to cope with a toddler at a wedding. (Part 1)


Matthew doesn’t look too impressed in this photo, but then again, I wouldn’t be either if you woke me from my peaceful slumber. The day of Aunty Claire and Uncle Danny’s wedding was full of exhilaration and joy. The household was bustling with different people coming and going, and for a 14 month old toddler; long before the wedding had even begun, this proved to be somewhat overwhelming.


Matt with his lovely Aunty Claire and the bridesmaids.

It was an early start to day (as usual for us) and it was “all go!” from around 6:30am. The beautiful bride and her lovely posse of bridesmaids were being made even more beautiful by a great team of professionals. Nana Rose and I were off early to have our hair done, so that left the boys in charge of minding our bundle of energy. It was fantastic being in a big house with an even bigger garden for Matt to explore. He kept on the move constantly by gathering stones from the flower pots, jumping in puddles (of course there were puddles, it’s Ireland after all!) and playing about with Dad, Grandad and uncles; all very full of energy. He definitely needed a good scrub after all that banter in the garden.


By the time we had got back from the salon and picked up the brekkie, it was almost time for Matt to have a nap. I was praying that he’d get a good rest in before the ceremony. Thank goodness the boys had him so tired out that he literally fell asleep in a minute and got a solid hour and a half (before he was rudely awoken!)

At around 12;30pm, we woke Matthew up (sacrilege I know!) but he needed to be fed and changed and at the church (luckily just down the road) for 1pm. He clearly wasn’t loving the fact that he had to wake up and was a bit groggy for a while. He gobbled down some of Nana’s delicious lasagne (this definitely helped on cheering him up) and we got him dressed in the most adorable suit and dickie bow. If hearts could melt… mine definitely would have been pure liquid at the sight of him.


As soon as he was dressed, we had about 5 minutes of (hundreds of) photos being taken and everyone wanting a snap with the charming young gentleman. Of course, he’s now completely glued to my hip at this stage (did I mention he’s experiencing slight separation anxiety at the moment?) This is when I thought, “How on God’s green earth, is this sweet child of mine going to manage walking down the aisle?”

We arrived at the church and Uncle Danny and Aunty Claire (who was the most beautiful and relaxed bride ever!) had even thought of buying Matt a new toy to keep him busy during the ceremony. Donal and I had a strategy planned- I sneak away go into the church while he was distracted by the toy and seeing the other lovely Page Boy Ryan. Donal would wait with him till the last minute and hand him over to Leah (the gorgeous junior bridesmaid)  who would walk with the two boys down the aisle. Oh did I mention that there were over three hundred people at the wedding?

All I can say is that Matthew really did us proud. My heart bursting with love as I watched him stepping towards us. The ceremony was about to begin…

Matt with his new toy before the ceremony began. 




12-14 Month Adventures!

“Keeping me on my toes,” is probably my most commonly used response when people ask me how things are going with Matt. My goodness, this toddler doesn’t stop. “Live wire”, “full of beans” and “very active boy” are comments I hear a lot in our play groups. He is honestly bursting with energy (and that’s without eating any refined sugar!)

He loves to climb and run and just keep busy in any way that he can; that’s why we like to frequent our local children’s centre, take part in our Waterbabies’ swimming lessons and ‘Play and Learn’ class at Gymboree. Every evening (weather permitting) we go out and play with our neighbours. We are so lucky in that we have a nice patch of green space just in front of our apartment block as well as the church playground that we are allowed to use. There are also many children close to Matt’s age in the East City Point development; and with so many more blocks going up, there are loads more young families moving in.

It’s great for his social development to be interacting with so many different children, he actually gets excited when I mention “Sophia”, one of his best buds. It’s very sweet. Also great for the mums and dads to have a chat and let the kids entertain themselves.

We have had a very busy few months (hence my lack of blogs!) I use Matt’s nap time for cleaning, washing, picking up what seems like thousands of toys, and preparing his lunch and dinner. It’s great because he generally naps from 1-3 hours, so I can get a lot done. Because he’s so active, he normally falls asleep really quickly too.


For the last month or so, he’s started resisting the afternoon nap; so for a good while he was up for ages (from around 11 till 7pm!) which is far too long. The morning nap is getting later which is ideal. From around 16 months, he should be napping from around 1pm, we are almost there!

The teeth are coming out in full force now, and you can see that he’s quite uncomfortable, especially with the back teeth cutting through. We stick to using teething gel and he chews on basically everything! He currently has 5 proper teeth and three coming through at the same time.

I know that all parents think their children are the best, and we are not in the least biased… but I am so proud of our sweet Matt. He’s thriving in every way possible. The way he can follow instructions really impresses me. He helps me around the house with washing and unloading the dishwasher. He can carry out simple instructions like, “Please put this in the dustbin” or “Go and get Mr Fox and put him in your cot.” He clearly understands numerous words and phrases and his speech is developing well too. The words he uses frequently with meaning are “mama”, “dada”, Bye-bye”, “bubbles” (sounds more like “babas”) “shoes”, “cheese” (sounds like “chiz”). He is also able to identify many different objects in books. He can point to different animals, food, clothing items etc. Body parts are a favourite- he can point to his head, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, tongue, teeth, tummy, belly button, hands, fingers, toes and feet. We are working on the rest.


On another note, Matt has suddenly decided that he doesn’t like being put in his car seat or pram and he’ll make his whole body stiff so as to make it as awkward as possible for his mama to try and manoeuvre. So that’s been a bit of a challenge some days. We’ve found that distraction is key- food works wonders, so does the car keys (not ideal!) He’s still our ray of sunshine and makes me smile a million times a day.

I will post another blog soon highlighting our trip to Ireland for Aunty Claire and Uncle Danny’s beautiful wedding; where our dear son had the privilege of being a page boy!

The Wild One! Happy birthday Matt!


So it’s been a year since our little hurricane very promptly appeared in our lives; and my goodness, what a great, adventurous year it’s been. When I look back now, I take a moment to remember the more challenging early days (more like months) of Matt’s life. I am in awe of the sweet, charming toddler he has become. Actually, I am grateful for those early days, they were a learning curve as they’ve allowed me to grow deeply as a mother and learn so much along the way. How times have changed though. As Matt gets older, the challenges change too.  It’s hard to believe just how much he’s grown and developed in only a year.

Matt now weighs in at a solid 10.45kg (he’s still gaining weight well on the 75th percentile) and for the first official time; he’s had his height measured. I knew he was going to be a tall lad, but when the health visitor informed me that he is now 80.2cm tall- and on the 98th percentile- I was gobsmacked. I’m predicting a 6ft5 giant one day! Also, he now has 4 teeth, the fifth one just starting to poke through- that doesn’t stop him from eating like a champ. (And yes, he was allowed a cupcake on his birthday!)


At his one year review, he was observed by the health worker, who gave him an array of toys to interact with. She was pleased with his progress, noting that he could follow simple instructions, could walk well, had a strong pincer grip and was content. She asked about his eating habits and reminded me that he could now drink cow’s milk as opposed to formula. (Which he had started doing the week before he turned one). All in all; a glowing review.

Matthew’s birthday celebration was lovely. It was a balmy day (the hottest day of the year so far) and when I say hot, I actually mean proper hot (like 30 degrees!). We decided to put on a braai (BBQ) with some close friends and family in attendance. Even though we are in a larger apartment now, space was still a factor. It was a huge hit! Matthew was basking in all the attention, he really took everything in his stride. I thought it may have been a little overwhelming, but he did so well.

Donal was the braai master,and we had lots of nibbles, cake and sweet treats for later. I think watching Matthew devour almost an entire chocolate cupcake was a highlight for everybody! As well as the Bokke winning the game against France. He also loved all his beautiful presents, spoiled rotten is an understatement.

After eating way too much food and cake, we decided to head down to the local park. We were desperately seeking a cool breeze and the shade of a giant oak tree. Outside was still scorching hot, but the shade was welcoming. Some us lay sprawled under the trees, sipping on cool coronas or cokes, while a bunch of crazily energetic others, played a game of touch rugby (as we cheered on!)

It was a truly memorable day celebrating one whole glorious year of precious life! Looking forward to many more! Cheers Matty!


Activities and games our baby loves at 11 months.

As much as I loved Matt when he was a sweet, little newborn who mostly slept in his mama’s loving arms (ok, let’s be honest, and cried a hell of a lot!), it’s great now that he loves to be entertained. Now that his bubbly, smily personality is shiny through brightly, it’s wonderful to witness the bursts of joy on his face when he’s enjoying a game or activity.

It can be quite challenging trying to invent new and exciting things for Matt to do on a regular basis, but lucky for us, I found that it’s in fact the simple things that hold our baby’s attention and keep him coming back for more!

Here are some of the things that Matthew absolutely loves engaging in, now that he’s just turned 11 months. Many of them, he’s been enjoying over the last few months. It’s so rewarding to see how he’s mastered some of the more challenging tasks- and his rejoicing when he does so.

  • Story Books

What joy it brings me to see that Matthew has already developed a love for reading. We have been looking through picture books since he was a tiny baby, but now that he’s older, he giggles in delight when “Do you want to read a story?” is asked. He crawls over to the bookshelf, pointing to the array of books to choose from. He has his favourites of course- at the moment- he loves anything with an interactive quirk. The flap books are a huge hit as well as the feely books, which are great for sensory development. Here are some of his current must haves.



  • Balls- of all shapes and sizes

He does love playing with his balls! (Sorry, I had to!) The sensory balls are great. We got the pack of Bright Stars balls, which includes some twisty ad shaky ones. He loves hearing the sound of the tiny plastic balls inside bobbing about, it’s great as it doubles up as a music shaker. He can now throw the ball on demand, and one of his favourite games is searching for them under the couch. A classic soft play ball pit is always a hit when we are out.

At Turoe Farm, Loughrea, Co Galway. 


  • I’m going to catch you!

This is one of his absolute favourite games to play with mom and dad. Now that he’s a highly skilled crawler, it’s great fun. I say, “Mama’s going to catch you!” and get down into the crawling position. He squeals in delight, and crawls away as quickly as he can. (Which is alarmingly quick actually!) When I finally catch him, fits of laughter ensue. It works great when daddy gets home too and one of us is ‘it’ and chases after Matt in the other’s arms. He’s greeted with numerous kisses and tickles. ‘Hide and Seek’ can be incorporated here too- another top hit.

Matt decides to chase Mama instead!


  • Bubbles

So simple, yet so much fun. Catching and popping bubbles is the best for lots of laughs.



  • Did someone say ‘recycling’?

Oh my goodness, the hours of joy Matthew has received from going through the recycling bin is priceless. Since moving into our new home, we keep our dry recyclables in a big blue eco-shopping bag. Every day, peeping into the bag, is like a new adventure for Matt. From folded cardboard boxes and magazines, to milk cartons and plastic lids. He can spend ages literally looking through the trash! He takes each item out, closely examines it and then moves onto the next. He’s slowly learning to put them back in the bag- but where’s the fun in that?

  • Object Permanence Box

This fantastic activity is Montessori inspired and brilliant for cognitive development. Read more about Piaget’s theory here. The term object permanence is used to describe a child’s ability to know that objects continue to exist even though they can no longer be seen or heard. A seemingly simple task, where the ball is inserted into the hole at the top of the box, and the baby has to retrieve the ball at the bottom. At first, even managing to get the ball into the hole was tricky, now it’s no bother at all. I looked to purchase a box like this online, (let’s just say they aren’t cheap). I asked my very talented grandfather if he could make one for Matt. It came out so beautifully and Matt loves it, thanks Grandpa!



  • Get your groove on!

Dancing and singing have been a huge hit with Matt for many months. Music really does have such a great effect. If he’s ever feeling a little niggly, all we have to do, is put the radio on and dance away. He shows his delight by bopping his head and bouncing to the tunes. So much fun for mama and baby!

  • Stacking rings and cups

It amazes me how quickly babies can pick up on things and just how much they learn through observation. Matt just loves playing with the stacking rings and cups so much. At first, he would just pull everything apart and knock the cups over, but now, he’s able to put the cups into each other and stack the rings on the pole. Not quite in the correct order just yet, but it’s a great activity for fine motor skill development.

  • And then there was light!

Matt, like many babies his age, is fascinated with switches, buttons, knobs, handles… you get the idea. So turning the lights on and off proves great fun. I’ll ask Matt to switch the light off or on or push the buttons in the elevator. He knows to look out for the effect- so he looks to see if the lights went out or listens out for the ‘beep’ in the lift. Such a simple lesson for cause and effect and many other skills gained too. He also quite likes it when I close the door to the bathroom (so it’s in complete darkness) and then slowly open the door. He’s always beaming a great smile at his reflection in the mirror. He’s also learning the words “dark” and “light”.


These are just a few of Matt’s favourite things to do at the moment, the list really could go on.. But yet again, I hear the sweet coo of my baby waking from his nap. So ciao for now.

Crawling, clapping and cruising! Matt is on the move…

“Hurricane” is Matt’s new nickname, he coined it at the local baby club last week. All I can say is, he is certainly living up to his name. At 9 and a half months old, this wee lad just doesn’t stop. In fact, he’s been on the move for a good while now, progressing from the leopard crawl, to crawling at the speed of light on all fours. He’s also pulling himself up onto anything he can reach and cruises along speedily. He bends his knees to sit down and is ever so active. I’m sure there are many babies who are just the same; his cousin Nathan, who is 5 months his senior, was a mover too. But everywhere we go, people seem to comment at how energetic Matt is. He literally doesn’t stop. I can only imagine what it’s going to be like when he starts walking.

The hurricane is doing so well in many aspects of his sweet little life. He’s enjoying a great variety of food and he likes to be in charge of what’s going into his mouth. Hence, we’ve duly given up pureed foods, and Matt is thriving on picking up solids and stuffing his face! He loves roast chicken and surprisingly- broccoli. (Something I loathed as a child.) Fruit is still the favourite, and lately he has a great affinity for the citrus variety, naartjies and oranges, and would you believe- lime. Strange boy, I know!


He is still such a comical wee lad. Constantly finding humour in the simple things. He loves a tickle, his thighs and neck are particularly susceptible to a real roar of laughter. “Round and round the garden” is also a firm favourite. He laughs at himself in the mirror, he laughs when we run with him in our arms, he laughs at the funny faces and movements of his crazy ma en pa. It’s truly contagious. He seems to love being the centre of attention too. When we were in Ireland recently, visiting his nana and grandad; we were all sat around the dinner table, eating a scrumptious homemade lasagne by Rose, and Matt was clearly loving it. He was laughing out loud and it became even more boisterous when everyone jeered and egged him on.

Just the other day, we were walking down to the station and a man was walking behind us with his two children. He commented on how happy Matt seemed and gave me something to ponder on. He said, “Did you know, it’s scientifically proven that the longer a baby smiles at you, the more extroverted he will be later on.” He went on to say that Matthew is going to be quite the extrovert. I’m not sure how scientific his comment was, only time will tell. It’s quite funny actually because I was a painfully shy child, and from what I hear, Donal wasn’t exactly eccentric! Perhaps he gets it from his grandpa BoetSam.

We’ve had a jam packed month of activities and adventures, which Matt has embraced whole heartedly. Donal’s mum Rose and two of her sisters, Mary and Carrie made a short visit to London over the Mother’s Day weekend. My first Mother’s Day! It was truly lovely. We booked a table at a restaurant near St Paul’s Cathedral, and enjoyed some good wine and a delicious meal. Claire and Fergal were also there, so it was a great family affair. I was spoiled with a bouquet of spring flowers and a giant card from my boys.

Another trip to Ireland was made and Matthew attended his first wedding. Much to our delight, he was as good as gold during the ceremony, only getting a little restless after about an hour. The ladies sitting in the seats behind us were ‘oohing’ and ‘aahing’ at the cuteness and charm that is our Matt. That kept him entertained for a good while. As usual, he enjoyed all the attention from his grandparents and uncles and also all the fresh air and outdoor  space that the Irish countryside has to offer. We took him on a lovely walk around Donal’s childhood neighbourhood and he got to see sheep, lambs and cows for the first time. He was rather sceptical of the sheep at first, but warmed up quickly when he saw them being fed. That gave me the idea to take him on an outing to the farm- as I could tell he was more than engaging with the animals.


A few of his developments this month- clapping his hands (on demand, might I add), pointing at objects and people that he’s interested in, pointing to his feet when asked, saying ‘mama’ and ‘dada’ a lot. And the cherry on top- doing his ‘fake’ laugh when we jeer and laugh at him doing something silly!