Category Archives: Developments

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.

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  • 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.

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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.

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Matt decides to chase Mama instead!

 

  • Bubbles

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

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  • 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!

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  • 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”.

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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!

Eight Amazing Months

Today is Friday the 17th February 2017, and our sweet soul is eight months old. What a character he is, a true beaming light. He’s such a smiler and his inquisitive nature is wonderful to observe. He’s always looking around and taking everything in; he literally bends over backwards to see what’s happening behind him.

Eating is still one of Matt’s favourite past times, strawberries are number one on the list. To be quite frank, that boy will eat anything! I wonder who he gets that from? Must be a Nevin after all! He’s having three meals a day (most days) and often has fruit as a dessert. Because he’s got quite a sweet tooth, we need to make sure the fruit is out of sight while he’s eating his veggies! We’ve been combining purees with a baby led weaning approach. This makes it really easy when we are out and about as we can pass him a baby carrot or cucumber stick and that’s him sorted for a while.

I find myself saying the same thing every month, but it’s true yet again…A lot of things are becoming so much easier now, and at the same time, new challenges have arisen. The most drastic change is sleep. Praise to the Lord, Matthew is no longer waking up throughout the night, but actually sleeping through until around 5 or 6am. This is truly heavenly, I feel like a new woman. At around 7 and a half months, we started seeing an improvement, and now, he often even self-soothes. I know that things can easily change, and that he could be going back to hourly wake ups , but for now, we are relishing in it!

I am also feeling a little torn as our breastfeeding journey has officially ended. He did so well after having tongue tie and the initial breastfeeding dramas that a lot of new mamas face at the start, so I do feel sad that it’s over. It truly is a wonderful way for mum and baby to bond, but for us, at almost 8 months, it was often still such a challenge. Hence I decided that we would try him on some formula. It started when we went to SA. He drank it very reluctantly and often not enough, but slowly became more accustomed to it. I weaned him off the breast slowly, one feed at a time. By 7 months, we were down to mostly night feeds. Now I’m not sure whether he’s sleeping better as a consequence, or if it’s because he’s on solid foods. All I know, is I am so glad he is!

He still loves his bath time, although it’s getting a lot trickier trying to actually bath him as he’s become quite the wriggler! He has an array of bath time toys, his favourites are the thermometer and the sponges! Haha! Matt is also still chewing on everything and he still has no teeth yet! Although the dribble is coming on strong!

He hates having his nappy changed! I think it’s got to do with the fact that he’s so much more mobile now and he just loathes being restrained in any way. So changing his nappy these days can be likened to tackling a raging crocodile- not an easy feat. He wriggles and rolls and stands up on his knees trying to reach and grab anything that he sets his eyes on. We found that changing him on the mat near his toy box works a treat, still not simple though. Thank goodness for pampers nappy pants, that’s all I can say!

Matthew has become rather vocal, he’s certainly finding his voice and testing his vocal range like a proper soprano. He mimics us quite a lot, with silly sounds like ‘umm, ba, ma, da, ooh’ and finds it highly amusing when we mimic him. He often says ‘dada’ much to daddy’s delight and he’s starting to make sounds aiming towards ‘mama’! mmm.

It’s truly spectacular to see how Matt is making associations between words and objects/people. He knows the word ‘light’ and looks up at it on command, he also seems to understand words like ‘up’, ‘walk’, ‘jump’, ‘milk’ and ‘bath’. It’s wonderful to see how much he’s learned and developed in a mere 8 months. We are proud parents and have so much love for our sunshine baby. His smile really does light up the room. img_6817

6 months old, in sunny South Africa!

Matthew is almost 7 months old, and boy, what changes we have seen in him. Donal and I were both lucky enough to witness some of the exciting milestones our sweet baby has reached as we spent a whole month in beautiful South Africa. My home. My heart.

To begin with… Matt’s first long haul flight. We did it in 2 stages- London City Airport to Zurich- then onto Johannesburg with Swiss Air. I won’t pretend that I wasn’t slightly anxious about flying across the world with our almost 6 months old baby boy. I had visions of a screaming baba in the middle of the night, and people on the plane hoping and praying that we wouldn’t be sitting next to them! (Which they probably did! To be fair, I had those same thoughts before I had Matt! Please Lord, no babies near me!) What I can say, is that Matthew was a complete pleasure. He slept more on the flight- in the bassinet- than he usually does at home, only waking when other children around us cried. Go Matt! Apparently the hum of the engines can have that effect on babies.  I was a very proud mama indeed. We came well prepared though- ear defenders, dummies, change of clothes, tons of nappies and wet wipes and a new toy to keep him intrigued and entertained.  He became a bit restless near landing, when he had to be sat down constrained with a seatbelt- not his best friend. How dare we make him sit still for so long? But all in all, we were so chuffed. Nonetheless, happy to have landed in SA as I barely had a wink of sleep. I felt like I had a cactus in my eyes and almost died of horror when I looked at myself in the mirror. Seriously girl, you need a facial and a lot of sleep! Ha!

We had the most amazing holiday with family and friends and I truly mean that. There is something about that spectacular country of mine; it’s natural beauty, great company, food and wine, that is like therapy to my soul. I feel revived and happy, so very happy.

We landed in Joburg and Matt got to meet his great Grandpa, Eddie Crouser, as well as my aunty Buffy, Ian and Brenda. We had a lovely meal at our hotel as we only had one night in Jozi. Matt thoroughly enjoyed all the attention from everyone. The hotel staff was amazing! From the driver, to the waiters, to the receptionists; everyone had smiles and sweet words for our boy. They all wanted to hold him too! That’s when we first realised that South African people are SO different from Londoners! Here in London, people generally keep to themselves, with as little eye contact given to strangers as possible! And it’s amazing how easily one conforms to that when living here. In SA, it’s completely different, quite refreshing actually. Most people are so friendly and positive, it’s heartwarming, given that a lot of them probably have very little in the form of material possessions and money, but so much love and light. It opened my eyes…

After our very quick stint in Joeys; we caught our first domestic flight to King Shaka Airport- Durban. The place of my childhood and my sister’s birth. I have wonderful memories of vibrant curries, hundreds of bananas, luxurious and humungous butter pears (avocados) , humidity (oh my gosh, it gets so HOT!), beautiful tepid waters of the Indian Ocean, family and my best and oldest friend Rikki! To name but a few of the reasons why I love the place! Matt was AMAZING on the Kulula flight. It was only around an hour, and full to the brim with families ready to hit the coast for the summer holidays. I was very proud indeed when the lady who was sitting next to us, commented on how lovely and good our baby had been. (He fed and then literally slept the whole way!)

We had a fabulous week in Kwa Zulu Natal, spending time at the luxurious Zimbali Resort with our friends Rikki, Wesley and their baby Ryder. We would get to see Rhyse (our precious godson) the following day.  We enjoyed lazy days by the poolside, seafood dinners, WINE (too much of it) and great conversation. It’s always so special catching up with Rikki, although we’re miles apart, we chat constantly and when we meet up again, we just pick up where we left off! I was spoiled to an awesome night spa at Mangwanani with Riks, while Donal and Wes were on baba duty!

After a fabulous and sweltering time in sunny Durbs, it was time for us to venture to the Eastern Cape- Jeffreys Bay to be exact. Renowned for its big waves at super tubes and the now the home of Matt’s ever loving grandparents and great grandparents. My parents moved to J-Bay from Port Elizabeth earlier this year and absolutely love it, and so do I. Although my dad is still commuting to PE for work on a daily basis; the sea view and beautiful, spacious home make it all worthwhile.

It was lovely to finally see their new home, and for Matt to finally meet his grandpa at 6 months old. He was lucky enough to have met grandma just a few days after he was born, we she came to London to help a new mama out!

The time spent with my parents was absolutely priceless, they were so amazing with Matt, it honestly warms my heart so much. My mom- being the most loving grandma, having everything specially organised for our arrival. Matt had his own cot, with beautiful bedding (even a mosquito net in tow), a range of bath toys, and all the baby lotions and potions we could think of! So thoughtful and so lovely. My parents had bought a brand new car seat for Matt, (apparently my dad would only have the best for his grand babies!) Matt absolutely loved my parents, always giggling and wide-eyed at the adventures he’d be taken on. We did so much, from many walks on the beach, to early morning coffees on the deck, to eating amazingly tasty food, the numerous braais, dops, darts and endless conversations with so many laughs – every moment was truly wonderful. I wish time could have stood still.

Matt grew and changed so much while we were in SA. He started sitting without support, eating a variety of fruit and veggies (with fewer shivers!), he loved roaming around in his new walker as his legs had grown stronger, he enjoyed many lazy afternoons splash-splashing in the pool (under the shade of the brolly of course!) He also spent his first night away from me and Donal (we went to my friends wedding). He is still a happy soul, giggling and smiling that contagious smile of his a lot. He loves his reflection,  enjoys being out and about and observing things in nature very closely. Almost everything going in his mouth, but not one tooth yet! I’ve been saying “I think he’s teething!” from about 12 weeks, haha!

To top it all off, he was fabulous on the flight home, and slept most of the way. It was tough coming back to mud island, especially on a frosty, grey January morning. But hopefully, we’ll be back home soon. I’d love to go back. My heart is still in Africa and to be honest, I think it always will be.

Four months young… Some of Matt’s developments so far.

Our sweet Matthew is getting so big! 7.2kg to be exact. That was his weight at the last weigh in at almost 18 weeks old. He’s our ray of light, our bundle of joy and oh, his smiles just melt our hearts.

The first three months have been challenging, but as I get to know my dear baby boy more and more each day; the more my love for him grows (if that is even possible!) and the easier things become. He’s loving his tummy time and has rolled over from front to back a good few times. His grip is strong and he’s great at aiming for and whacking his toys on his baby gym. Matt still loves time in his bouncer and giggles and coos a lot! He loves it when mum and dad pull funny faces, stick out our tongues and make silly noises. One of his favourite past times is being thrown up in the air! He sits on his own momentarily and enjoys sitting in his new bumbo, bath time is also lots of fun! Chewing on anything and everything, including his feet and his Sophie le giraffe is great craic for Matt!

Things have become so much easier now that I have learnt to read Matthew’s signals and cues a lot better. When he’s tired, he turns his head to the side, rubs his eyes and yawns. When he’s hungry (about every 2 hours throughout the day still) he’ll make a moaning sound similar to a ‘ha ha ha’ from the back of his throat and as long as he’s fed and gets a nap; we have a very happy bunny!

He can put some weight on his feet and loves bouncing up and down- he’s been in his cousin’s jumper and loved it, so I think we will invest in one for him. Matthew still loves to be in his carrier and to be held upright so he can see what’s happening in the world. The way he takes everything in is truly lovely to see. The fact that he’s experiencing sounds, smells and sights for the very first time is fascinating to him and we try to allow him the experiences to learn as much as possible. So we take him on walks through the park and let him feel the leaves; he loves being outside and on the move.

We have reached another major milestone (well in my eyes anyway!) and that is the fact that he doesn’t need to be rocked or bounced to sleep anymore. After a bit of research into sleep- I decided it was best not to rely on motion to sleep otherwise he may become increasingly reliant on it. So what works best (for now) is to put him in his gro- bag, and I lie next to him for a few minutes. I think he likes to know that mama is near, he often drifts off peacefully, after a few head turns and ‘mmmms’ with the help of his dummy as well.

He is still waking every few hours in the night, the longest stretch of sleep we’ve had lately is almost 4 hours, which is great. He feeds so well at night and drifts back to sleep easily afterwards. Let’s hope that 4 hours becomes 5 that becomes 6 very soon!