Archive for category Toddler

Collegien Slippers: My Favourite For The Whole Family

Collegien Slippers age well: here some new and very old ones

Collegien Slippers age well: here some new and very old ones

These French slippers (they are and have been made in France since 1947) are my favourite and they work for the whole family: sizes go from European 18/US 3/UK 2 (babies of 6-12 months) to European 47/US 13/UK 12! I started using them 4 years ago, so I have now a good feel of how durable they are. Up until now I was ordering them directly from their French website but I just spotted a first UK internet distributor called Skin&Bliss.com.

If you want to see the whole range it is best to go directly on the Collegien website. They have an incredible choice and have always some items on sale. If you are buying for the whole family or friends, even adding on the Euro 6.95 shipment charge to the UK, you might end up with a better choice and price than a UK distributor. Shipment charges are zero for orders above Euro 100.

What I like about them:
1) Comfortable. The concept is simple: a soft sock with attached a breathable, durable, non slip sole. I am not sure how the sole is built but one thing is sure: they are very comfortable for adults and children.
2) Natural fabrics. 80+% of the sock material is a natural fabric (mostly cotton but sometimes also wool and silk). The rest is an elastic blend to make them strechable.
3) Non-slip. Unlike the leather ones that I started using for my babies when they were 6 months old, these don’t become shiny and slippery with use. They have some rubbery spikes that really make a difference. For toddlers this is key because the last thing you want is seeing them sliding around the house.
4) Extra soft soles, very flexible, for maximum comfort. The soles are very flexible, you can test this by rolling the slipper onto itself.
5) The non-slip characteristic does not come at the expense of breathability. The soles are perforated.
6) 100% machine washable at 30°C. This is absolutely key for me. No cheesy smells and no problem if a bit of food falls on them.
7) Lots of sizes to fit the whole family. For most styles the sizes go from European 18 to European 47.
8) Long lasting. They last more than other slippers for two reasons: because they are made with high quality materials and because, if you have growing children, because each pair will cover two sizes (18-19, 20-21 etc).
9) Many, lovely designs! They make a very good and useful gift!

Worth knowing:
The company advises that if your size is 39, you should take 40/41. If your size is 38 or 38 1/2, take size 38/39. This is valid for all sizes.

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Chickenpox: all I wish I had known…

Chickepox Remedies

Chickepox Remedies

If you are wondering what happened to workingmuminlondon and why the posts have not been so frequent recently the answer is: scarlet fever, tonsillitis and chickenpox. Yes, we had them all, in a row! Not exactly a relaxing summer.

Here below you will find all the things I wish I knew before we started. I will focus on chickenpox because a) number 2 got it really bad so I ended up doing a lot of research b) there might be steps you can take to limit its severity.

What is it
Chickenpox, also known as varicella, is a very contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It is spread easily through the air (when infected people sneeze or cough) and through direct contact with the infected blisters. Just being in a room with someone who has the disease can be enough to get infected BUT less than 5 hours exposure is not likely to result in an infection while a very prolonged exposure of several days can result in a more severe case (typical in the case of siblings). Chickenpox is contagious from 1 to 2 days before the appearance of the rash until all blisters have formed scabs (or lesions fade away if no blisters develop). If you or your child are still contagious it is best if you can stay at home or at least avoid busy places (trains, buses, planes, supermarkets, shops). Infecting someone ‘at risk’ (see below) can have terrible consequences.
And one last point: the scabs are not contagious.

Symptoms
Symptoms appear between 7 and 21 days after exposure to the varicella-zoster virus. They are:
1) fever – 38 up to 40 centigrades for up to 4 days
2) loss of appetite and general malaise
3) pink rash that becomes ‘blistered’ with 24/48 hours. The blisters are initially small, then fill up with a clear fluid that gradually becomes cloudy and then scabs over. The rash generally starts on chest and face but rapidly spreads over the body (even into mouth, ears, eye lids) for 2 to 5 days. Note that in some cases, 7 days after the first rash, a ‘second wave’ – a brand new rash and new blisters – can develop. The extent of the rash and size of the blisters varies from individual to individual (and seems to be related to the length of exposure to the virus). Some people may only have a handful of small spots while others will be literally covered from head to toe (250-500 blisters) with quite large vesicles (1-1.5 cm diameter). Once formed, the crusts will completely fall off in 1 to 6 weeks.
4) Redness around the blisters/vesicles may suggest a bacterial infection, probably introduced by scratching. This needs to be monitored carefully and might be treated with antibiotics.

Who is ‘at risk’
The risk of serious complications is higher for:
1) adults (can develop lung problems, pneumonia),
2) pregnant women (during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy there is a serious risk of birth defects) and
3) babies below 4 months.
4) For children it is not usually dangerous but in around 20% of cases a bacterial infection of the vesicles develops. This needs to be treated with antibiotics as soon as possible. If not treated can even lead to death in as little as a few days.

Prevention by vaccination – for boys and adults a must!
1) The chickenpox vaccination does not guarantee life immunity to the virus but reduces the risk of contagion and reduces the severity of the illness. I read that in clinical trials two doses of vaccine (in general one at 12-15 months and one at 4-6 years of age) were 99% effective in preventing the disease in children.
So if you have boys it is definitely worth getting them vaccinated. If you have girls it is less of a no brainer (they can still catch it when pregnant).
2) For adults and children of 13 and above it is also recommended to give two doses of the chickenpox vaccine, administered 4-8 weeks apart.
3) The varicella vaccine is safe. It has been around since 1995. The most common side effects are mild pain and redness at the injection site. In the USA chickenpox vaccination is done routinely.

Best treatment in case of infection
1) drink plenty (milk and water)
2) cut short your baby’s nails (or use mitts on the hands) to reduce the risk of bacterial infection of the vesicles. You can also dress your child in loose cotton clothing to prevent further irritation.
3) in case you notice some redness/swelling around the blisters/vesicles try to treat the area with some Chlorhexidine Gluconate. This is a pink liquid that prevents bacterial infections. It is not easy to find but some Boots stock it.
4) take paracetamol to ease high temperature (fever), headaches, and pains. Aspirin and ibuprofen should be avoided with chickenpox.
5) take anti-histamines (such as Zirtek, Piriton). Although they have limited effect on itchy skin conditions they cause drowsiness and help the child sleep better.
6) if your case looks right away very severe ask your doctor if aciclovir might be advisable. Antiviral pills such as aciclovir (Zovirax) can limit the severity of chickenpox by stopping the virus from multiplying. Adults, teenagers over the age of 14 and sometimes young children that were heavily exposed to the virus (young siblings of an infected child) may be advised to take an antiviral medicine. Note it can only be started within 24 hours of the rash first developing. My doctor advised aciclovir to my number two.
7) Try soothing creams (general emollients) on the spots to ease itching. Unfortunately there is not one product recognised to universally work but searching around I came across a few that you might want to try:
-Chickweed creams/ointments. These can help soothing the itchy and crusty skin. We used under the suggestion of a dear friend ‘Chickweed, Neem, Tamanu, Nettle and Vitamin E Cream’ by the Organic Pharmacy, pictured above but there are plenty more around.
-Calamine lotion, although widely used in the UK my doctor said it can have a drying effect on the skin that may exacerbate the condition and actually cause further itching and scarring.
-ViraSoothe Chickenpox Relief Cooling Gel this should relieve the itchiness without any drying effect on the skin but it did not seem to help my daughter very much.
-Some friends in Italy used happily Talco Mentolato but is difficult to find in the UK and some doctors are against it (again it can have drying effects).
8) Avoid long baths and soaking of the blisters that can fall off and delay the healing process.

What is your favourite chickenpox remedy? If you found something amazing please comment on this post. I will try to amend it over time if I discover anything else of value. I hope it helps!

Sources: among others National Foundation for Infectious Diseases Web site: http://www.nfid.org (USA).

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Paracetamol Suppositories: A Great Solution For When Your Child Would Not Swallow It!

Paracetamol Suppositories

Paracetamol Suppositories

Suppositories are a bit of a ‘controversial issue’, but in most Continental European countries they are the norm for giving medicines to small children. In the UK suppositories are very hard to find and doctors and nurses rarely volunteer them. After my recent experience with my younger daughter I am more of a convert. I avoid medicines as much as I can, but in case of need, it is very frustrating if your child does not want to take them or, even worse, spits them out. I think every mum should know about the benefits of suppositories and then decide whether she wants to use them or not.

What are they:
Suppositories are a small, bullet-shaped medicines which are inserted into the back passage instead of being taken orally.
The suppositories work by melting at body temperature and allowing the medicine (for example paracetamol) to be quickly absorbed into the bloodstream through the rich supply of blood vessels found in this area.

What I like about them:
1) They allow medicines to be taken (rectally) when orally is not an option. For example, when babies/young children are vomiting a lot, have difficulty swallowing or are too distressed.
2) The medicine is absorbed quickly and starts to provide benefits before oral medicines do. If your child has very high fever, a paracetamol suppository will bring the fever down as quickly as in 15 minutes!
3) Easier, less invasive and more precise. I am not a fan of suppositories but I like even less force-feeding a deeply distressed, sick child with a syringe full of a liquid. Inserting a suppository is painless for the child and takes just a few seconds.
4) Can be given while the baby/child sleeps without having to wake them up.
5) Suppositories don’t contain any sugar or sweeteners that most oral medicines do.

Worth knowing:
1) They come in different sizes/doses. You need to know roughly your child’s weight to get the dose right.
2) In case your baby poohs after a suppository, don’t give another one. 80% of the suppository is generally absorbed within 15 minutes, so you should wait at least 4 hours.
3) Suppositories are usually placed rounded end first. However, some sources suggest that placing the suppository blunt end first prevents the suppository from being expelled.

How to give it:
Wash you hands. Place your baby/young child on the changing mat, lying on the back with the legs up, as for changing the nappy. Holding the suppository between index finger and thumb, locate the anus and gently insert the suppository with the index finger till you cannot see it anymore. If you can, try to keep your baby lying still for a couple of minutes.

Where to find them:
1) The easiest and cheapest way is to stock up when you travel. If you happen to be in Italy, Switzerland, France, Germany, Spain, Ireland you should find them in any pharmacy.
There are different brands: Paralink, Doliprane, Dafalgan, Alvedon for paracetamol and Nuerofen for ibuprofen.
2) Ask your GP. I believe they are prescribed on request.

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Panmonviso Rusks: a Healthy, Tasty, Quick Breakfast for the Whole Family

Tesco French Toast

Tesco French Toast

If you are looking for a breakfast alternative for the whole family that is tasty, quick and healthy, you might like to try Panmonviso Rusks. These rusks (toasted, slightly sweet, wheat bread) are a traditional, good quality, italian bakery product (‘fette biscottate’). By chance, I discovered that they are now available in the UK under several white labels brands. Tesco, Asda and Morrison call them ‘French Toast’. I have only bought the Tesco ones but I understand that also Asda and Morrison have the same product made by the high quality Italian company Panmonviso.

What I like about them:

1) Light: no eggs, low in fat, sugars and salt (37 kcal per toast; 5g of saturated fat, 0.4g of salt and 18g of sugar per 100g). No artificial colours/flavours. Compares well with a lot of cereals and baby products such as the Organix Goodies or Organix Finger Foods.
2) Suitable for sweet or savoury toppings.
3) Compact and easy to spread: with cream cheese, butter, jam, honey or whatever takes your fantasy.
4) If soaked in milk, they soften quickly and work well for young children without a full set of teeth.
5) Perfect alternative to biscuits for dipping in milk or cappuccino.
6) Nice and crunchy for teething children from 10/12 months onwards.
7) Long expiry date, and so perfect to keep at home for when you run out of bread.
8) Work well as an afternoon snack. If you are on the go, remember to store store them in a plastic container or they might distribute crumbs everywhere.
9) Very good value: GBP 1.30 for 200 gr.

Negatives:
I have not seen an organic version.

Rusks with butter and jam

Rusks with Butter and Jam

Rusks Soaked in Milk for the Youngest

Rusks Soaked in Milk for the Youngest

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Infoband: My Favourite Identification Bracelet – Indispensable for Travelling with Toddlers.

Infoband identification bracelet

Infoband – Toddlers Identification Bracelet

I have always loved travelling. Now, with two toddlers, it is still fun but is more complex and requires more organisation. One thing that I find indispensable for my peace of mind is having my toddlers fitted with an identification bracelet every time I set off with them for a big trip or to a crowded place. I find it really comforting to know that if my child ends up out of sight, in the worst case scenario, someone will be able to contact me and bring my child back.
I researched a few ID bracelets and, although Infoband is one of the cheapest, I believe it does the job really well. You can use it to indicate the child’s name, your contact details, and even allergies or chronic illnesses. If you plan to write more than a name and emergency number make sure you choose a style that allows a ‘larger writing area’ (see also below).

What I like about it:
1) Simple and effective. You just write on it the details that you consider important with a regular ballpoint pen: name, mobile number and even emergency medical details.
2) Water resistant. Once written with a regular ballpoint pen, the text becomes water resistant (although with time, I noticed, it fades a bit).
3) Reasonably safe. The buckle is very difficult for small children to open. The buckle can, of course, break but if you check its solidity regularly it is unlikely to be an issue.
4) Easily removable. An adult can remove it easily (using a two handed grip).
5) Can be re-used. When you don’t need it, just take it off and put it away. It will be ready for your next adventure.
6) Key point: fully adjustable! A lot of the other identification bands come in different sizes or are not fully adjustable. Infoband can made fit even very small wrists.
7) There are many cute colours and design to choose from.
8) Very good value for money: GBP 2.80 on Amazon.

Worth knowing:
1) The buckle might break after several uses. But, considering the price, this is not a major issue for me.
2) The bracelet measures 20 x 2 x 0.1 cms but please note the ‘writing area’ is much smaller and can differ a lot from style to style. The styles with the largest writing areas (such as those in the photo above) allow about 5/6cm of writing space per row.

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Quick, Easy, Healthy Polenta Cake Your Kids Will Love

Healthy Polenta Cake

Healthy Polenta Cake

Although I cook pretty well, baking is not one of my strengths. This is a quick, easy and unusual recipe that even I can do! The kids love it, and adults too because it is tasty and healthy. This version has about half of the sugar and butter of the more traditional versions and can be adapted to be dairy free and gluten-free.

You will need a round cake tin of 20cm diameter and 5cm depth.
You can also make small individual cakes with the same recipe-just halve the cooking time (from about 40 minutes to 20 minutes).

Ingredients:
140 gr sugar (I prefer using brown/raw sugar)
2 large eggs
170 gr self-raising flour (I use a white gluten-free flour and it works perfect)
75g r of unsalted butter (for dairy free you can use olive oil or rapeseed oil).
60 gr of very fine or ‘quick’ polenta
50 gr fine ground almonds
1½ tsp baking powder
225 gr natural yogurt (even with zero fat it will taste nice!)
finely grated zest 2 lemons (if you like you can add also the juice of half a lemon)

Preparation:
Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.
Lightly oil/butter the cake tin.
Put flour, polenta, ground almonds and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the lemon zest and sugar, then make a dip in the centre.
On the side beat the eggs in a bowl for a couple of minutes, then stir in the yogurt.
Add the eggs and yogurt mixture along with the butter (or oil) into the dip then briefly and gently stir with a large metal spoon so everything is just combined, without overmixing.
Pour into the oiled cake tin and bake for 40 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.
Leave to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes then turn out to cool completely on a wire rack.
Serve with a light dusting of icing sugar.

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Baby and Toddler Sleep Problems: ‘Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child’ by Dr Marc Weissbluth, the book that changed my life!

'Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child' by Dr Marc Weissbluth

‘Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child’ by Dr Marc Weissbluth

 

I shall start by saying that not only is every child different, but every parent has different views and convictions that a book is unlikely to change. Plus solving toddlers’ sleep problems is much harder than preventing them as it demands a very consistent approach that not all parents are willing/capable to implement. So will this book work for you? I hope so. It helped Disorientata and since she has kindly mentioned Dr Weissbluth and Whatsbestfor in her blog, I have written here a bit more about it.

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr Marc Weissbluth was first recommended to me by two of my good girlfriends (Eva and Stephanie, I will be always very grateful!). After 12 weeks of ‘not sleeping’ I felt exhausted and unhappy. My first baby had been very colicky right from the day we came home from the hospital. I have always been a 7-8-hours-a-night person so, with an average night of about 3-4 hours of interrupted sleep, I was not in good shape. I became more and more determined to find a solution. I had heard of many children that don’t sleep till they are 5/6 years old and that idea really scared me. My friends said Dr Weissbluth’s philosophy worked even with colicky babies, so I tried. I have to say It worked for both of my children, even if they had very different issues.

Why This Book Is Different

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child was first published in 1999 and has been a bestseller for years in the USA. The author is the founder of the Sleep Disorders Centre at Chicago’s Children’s Memorial Hospital, is a Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the Northwestern University School of Medicine, a pediatrician and sleep researcher with 30 years’ experience.
With hundreds of sleep books on the market, this is different because it is based on clinical research. The material presented is not ‘just an opinion’ but is accompanied by a long list of references and citations, which I find very reassuring. The book is divided into three parts. Part I is about why sleep is so important, what constitutes a healthy sleep pattern and typical sleep problems and solutions. Part II is about the sleep problems that may arise within different age ranges – this covers from age zero to adolescence. Part III deals with special sleeps problems (night terrors, nightmares, sleepwalking for example).

What He Says (but there is much more!)

1) Not addressing and fixing a baby’s sleeping problem can cause a number of serious issues in later life.
2) Baby’s sleeping problems do not go away on their own. Studies show that sleep behaviours developed in infancy tend to carry over to toddler-hood, childhood, adolescence and adulthood.
3) Healthy sleep habits do not develop automatically and, most interestingly, parents can help or damage the development of healthy sleep habits! Read the rest of this entry »

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If your toddler is a ‘runner’ try Goldbug Harness Buddy

Goldbug Harness Buddy

Goldbug Harness Buddy

When my number two started walking, I finally understood why mothers would buy and make their toddler wear a harness! My little angel is a ‘runner’ so outings represent a major challenge, unless I use the pram and then she does not really like it. I had seen some dog-leash or backpack-style harnesses around so I decided to do some research.

The product that fitted best my needs is the Goldbug 2 in 1 Harness Buddy. Around GBP 20 well spent.

What I like about it is:
1) It’s cute, really cute and your child will likely want to wear it. There are 25 very pretty animal characters, you should find one you/your toddler likes. Because it’s so cute I felt less awkward than using a dog-leash-style harness.
2) The straps of the harness extend nicely so that they fit also over a bulky coat or when your toddler grows. The length of the fully extended strap is about 54cm. Note that some of the others on the market are very small.
3) The rein (the tail of the animal) is about 1 metre long, which is enough to push a pram and have your toddler walking alongside you without realising he’s being “led”. The result is that it gives the child enough independence but keeps him safe.
4) It has a double strap that stops the pack from slipping.
5) The rain is easily removable to allow more freedom of movement where safe.
6) It has a very small pocket (more a sort of pouch) where you can store small things: a treat, a sun hat, sun cream or a precious toy. The company calls it 2 in 1 because it is an harness that doubles as a backpack but if you expect to see the storage space of a backpack you will be disappointed.
7) It’s machine washable and durable. Mine is still in good shape after several washes.

Finally it’s soft and well made. It makes a lovely comfort toy that can be used beyond walking.

Worth knowing:

1) It should not be used by children who are still unsteady on their feet. The company suggests using it from 18 months.
2) It is not rainproof.
3) The buckles are designed to be difficult to open. My older daughter got her finger caught in and it was not fun.
4) If you lose the ‘tail’ it can be purchased separately for GBP 6.

Goldbug Harness Buddy in Action

Goldbug Harness Buddy in Action

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Sainsbury’s SO Organic Soft Cheese: good, organic cream cheese for babies, toddlers and the whole family

Sainsbury's Organic Soft Cheese

Sainsbury’s Organic Soft Cheese

Cream cheese is a very useful basic ingredient to have at home when you are cooking for babies and toddlers. You can use it to transform any little meal: instead of sauce on a quick pasta, added to your vegetables purees, on fish, on bread sticks. The applications are endless. After some searching I stumbled on this one that seems more appropriate for the younger members of the family.

What I like about the Sainsbury’s SO Organic Soft Cheese is:

1) Organic! So few are. Hopefully it means less nasties. I actually checked. I emailed Sainsbury’s and they said that there are only 4 ingredients in this cream cheese: milk, cream from cow milk, salt and lactic starter culture. Sounds good to me.
2) Full fat – 25g per 100gr of product, as it should be for babies and toddlers.
3) Acceptable level of sodium 0.22g per 100gr (versus Philadelphia Original 0.40gr per 100gr)
4) Acceptable level of sugars 2.8gr per 100 gr (Philadelphia Original has 3.2gr per 100gr)
5) Great value £1.65/250 gr unit or £6.60/kg (Philadelphia Original retails at £8.00/kg).

The other good news is that it is easy to find. Your local Sainsbury’s should stock it. In my family everybody loves it.

P.S. There is another nice (and much more expensive) organic cream cheese called Futura. But is always out of stock these days.

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Vertbaudet Foot Scale – always shoes of the right size

Vertbaudet Foot Scale is one of the few gadgets I never regret having. With children is very difficult to know when they need a new pair of shoes. This takes away the guesswork and avoids time consuming visits to the local shop for measurement.

Vertbaudet Foot Scale

Vertbaudet Foot Scale

What I like about it:

1) convenient, easy to use. This is the only one I could find that works in sizes (not mm!). So there is no need for conversion tables.
2) shows European and UK sizes.
3) can be used by the whole family. Minimum size is 17EU/2UK maximum size is 46 EU/11 UK.
4) accurate for baby and toddler sizes.
5) Worthwhile the price – GBP 9.

Negatives
1) It does not come with a width measurement tape
2) Less accurate on adults/large sizes

Worth knowing
On Verbaudet there are always offers/discounts. Browse the internet for voucher codes before buying.

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