Top 5 : Travelling on a plane with a 21 months old

Monkey is now 21 months old – fully mobile and the thought of plane travel with her was daunting – especially after our disastrous long haul flight to South Africa when she was one years old and how she refused to sleep and refused to stay in her car seat – not to mention the screaming. Both HIM and I were scarred …

How was I going to keep her occupied for a 2.5hr flight between Brussels (Belgium) & Lisbon (Portugal)???

So I did what I do best… I google-boxed it. Most suggestions were for toddlers who are definitely more open to communication and/or older. Colouring in books, aquadoodle, etc… These suggestions were not going to help.

This is what we found worked best on our recent flights (keeping in mind that I did also pack some puffy large stickers; a sticker/colouring-in book, baby’s first colour pens, etc  and none of these were of any real interest to her)

Top 5 Entertainment items: Plane travel with a 21month old

  1. Buckle Toy Buddy Backpack: I ordered ours from amazon.co.uk and I can honestly say that during the niggly periods of take-off & landing, she was distracted with opening & closing each of the buckles. I could also add a few snacks and smaller items into the backpack portion and she was even happy to wear it for a while (probably because one of us was also wearing a backpack)
  2. Word Party : I downloaded a few episodes of Word Party from Netflix onto my iPad, which she loved (it is her favourite tv show and the only one that she will sit down for 10-13minutes to watch… which is as long as each episode). We had purchased a child pair of headphones which the sales lady was very reluctant to sell us as they were aged 3+ and she was concerned about safety & the wires. But in the end I didn’t even use the headphones, as the sound of the show was drowned out by the noise of plane engines and it wasn’t that distracting for other passengers. In terms of screen time, normally I am not a huge fan of extended periods of time, but this was a life saving distraction (for her, for us and for the other passengers) and I figure 3 episodes on a plane isn’t too bad (~30min total)
  3. Wind up toy: I got this silly little wind up monkey toy from Hema  which definitely provided about 5-10minutes of giggles as it walked from one side of the tray-table to the other and then she would grab it & pass it to one of us to wind up again.
  4. Wooden puzzle: I also purchased this item from Hema as it was small enough to pop into my backpack but something that provided sufficient distraction/entertainment for monkey. As it is still a new toy – she is only able to get the triangle pieces on/off the wooden base but I am sure that with time, the other 2 shapes will also provide fun.
  5. Snacks: this sounds like a silly addition but when children are munching away, time also seems to pass (which is probably why the airlines still offer food/drink!). On the way to Portugal, I packed a banana, some corn/rice cakes,some boudoir biscuits and a puree food sachet from Ella’s Kitchen (be careful when opening it on the flight as the air pressure might cause it already spill out),

Over and above this – I had the required baby bag with extra nappies, wet wipes, empty bottles, additional pacifier, change of clothes, jersey, etc which are the things that are permanently in her changing bag for whenever we leave the house.

Our next plane travel trip is next month between Israel & Belgium which is 4.5hr so I am already starting to think up new options… Do you have any other suggestions???

Monkeys Top 5: 9 months old

The days roll into weeks and suddenly the Monkey is mobile! Sitting by herself, crawling and pulling herself up to stand all in the space of one week … which means that since the middle of her 8th month, we have been baby-proofing the house and running after her!

But before time flies away again – here are or latest top 5 favourites

top 5 9months old

    1. Touchy-feeling Books – she absolutely loves books that have textures to them. As she is finally stroking the *fur* or indentations that are embedded in the book. Our current favourite is *that is not my dinosaur*- a “previously loved” (aka “2nd hand”) book from a friend of a visiting Canadian friend. It is a daily activity… for now. She looks at me with absolute fascination when I read off the pages in a funny voice and when I move her hands/fingers over the textured portions of the pages – but she is equally happy to play with the book without me reading it to her. She strokes the pages and bites the edges. Currently, our book/reading time is between her 5.30pm dinner and before bath/bed time as I wanted to avoid excitement in our current bath/bed time routine.
    2. Activity Play Gym – when Monkey was born, I bought this Fischer Price Baby to Toddler Play Gym – hoping she would grow with it. And guess what… she loves to pull herself up on the giraffe/zebra bridge – standing, grinning with her little bum bouncing around as her legs are still somewhat unsteady. Plus I am happy to say that she is even now at the age that she is learning to put the one ball into one of the holes and let it run down the giraffe/zebra leg. We bought ours out Orchestra Premaman in Brussels.
    3. White summer baby bodysuits – don’t laugh at me – but I bought a pack of 7 white sleeveless bodysuits from Marks & Spencer online for Monkey and she pretty wears one every day! We always team it with a cute top, pair of pants, stockings, dress, etc – but this is definitely one of those essentials that belongs in our household!
    4. Pacifier clip holder – if you haven’t invested in one already- now is the time! Our little monkey has learnt to ricochet spit the pacifier out of her mouth using her tongue… and then we silly parents need to crawl around the floor looking for it under the couch or coffee table, clean it off before returning it to her… only for the whole saga to be repeated. Until we got smart and attached it to her clothes… ha ha ha… now she pulls it out her own mouth, plays with it, leaves it and then manages to pop it back into her mouth without it ever touching the floor (except probably when she is crèche crawling on the floor but I don’t like to think about that). We currently have 3 different ones – but there is always one missing (that is code for “left at crèche”) – from the plush pink giraffe to the teething beads one. But my personal preference was the simplest one.
    5. Wet wipes – they clean everything from bums to faces (not the same one of course) to restaurant highchairs & tables & chairs to car seats… and everything in between. We have multiple packs all over the house –  in the dining room (next to the highchair), in the lounge “nappy box” (just in case we need to change her when we are downstairs), in the bathroom (next to the changing table), in the spare bedroom, in the travel bag and in my handbag. I just need to remember to put one in the car now!

Monkeys Top 5: 8 months old

Monkey will be 8months old this upcoming Sunday (5th June 2016) and I can’t believe how quickly the time is flying by… it was only yesterday that I held her in my arms for the first time (read our birth story here)

This is our current Top 5 that has helped us:

top 5 8months old

    1. Dille & Kamille *Savon de Marseille* clay soap for stains – seriously, one of the BCT pre-natal group mums told me about this and I am forever grateful!! When you start introducing solids to your own little Monkey – you will notice that carrot (which is probably the first veggie you start introducing) stains like a b*tch…. Seriously!?! God has a sense of humour… because trying to battle your monkey and their mouth while holding a spoon in one hand, the bowl in the other and clothes/tissues in your …aaahh… you will realise that food will be smeared everywhere! No piece of fabric is safe! And a good hot wash doesn’t get out all the marks. Try this… Trust me … you will be grateful!
    2. Tommee Tippee nappy bin – I bought this in the first few months and when those nappies become real stinkers (especially with the arrival of solids in the Monkeys diet) – having a nappy bin that hygienically wraps each nappy in plastic and stores it safely, PLUS reduces odours in the room, is a huge benefit! We store ours in the bathroom where her changing table is. I bought ours at the local Carrefour Planet where you can also buy the refill cassettes. (Each cassette lasts about 3weeks – but keep in mind that Monkey is at crèche in the mornings and we don’t use the nappy bin when we are out – but rather use individual scented nappy bags instead)
    3. Empty plastic bottle …. Or even better, add some uncooked rice & close the lid tightly: who knew that entertainment could be so cheap? Monkey has had so much fun with this “toy” and it has kept her busy enough that I could actually put all the ingredients together to bake a cake (a whole 10minutes of Monkey *happy* noises as she played with it)
    4. Play Pen – the Monkey is getting her move on! Although not yet crawling or walking – she does manage to wiggle her bum & shimmy herself backwards while on her hands & knees… it is funny to watch – but has made us very aware that very soon she will be mobile! Our living area is not big enough to take a huge play pen – so we invested in a smaller (1m x 1m) travel play pen that does fit. We put the foam puzzle pieces on the bottom and she gets placed in her with toys when HIM or I need to do something and we don’t want to put her in her bouncer or high chair. Soon, we will need to baby-proof the entire house, but for now – we can put her down to play without worrying that we might find her tucked under the couch or coffee table. We bought ours online from Orchestra Premaman and they delivered within a week.
    5. Heat sensitive spoons – Now that we are in the throes of feeding Monkey solids – it also means that we need to be EXTRA vigilant with feeding her foods that might be too hot! Which is why these heat sensitive feeding spoons from Nuby are so great! They change colour if the food is too hot!! I have to admit to giving Monkey one to play with while I wait for her food to be at the right temperature and she loves the soft flexible texture of the spoon – she gnaws on it and bangs it on her high chair table with much gusto! We bought ours from our local Delhaize shop. (PS – we also bought these Munchkin heat sensitive bowls which also change colour if the food is too hot… overly cautious much?)

Monkeys Top 5: 7 months old

Monkey is now 7 months old… where oh where did the time go??

and so far – she has a few favourite things…

top 5 7months old

  1. Stokke Steps Chair – as she can finally sit up more comfortably and we have started feeding her solids – it is the perfect place to keep her happy for a few minutes while I prepare her supper and she is also content to sit there for a while after feeding playing with some toys that I have tied (with ribbon) to the tray. (This chair is currently fitted with the baby seat, baby set tray and baby seat cushion.) The best part of this chair is that it will grow with her…  as the baby seat can be removed and the foot rest can extend as her legs get longer too!
  2. Nuby Nibbler – this mesh feeder was the reason that Monkey actually started eating (in my opinion). Suggested by one of our other prenatal moms – I placed a few (sliced in half) frozen blueberries into the mesh and gave it to her – she gnawed at it for a while – with half her lower face covered in blueberry juice and after this would actually accept a few mouthfuls of pureed food… which eventually turned into a few more mouthfuls! Now we introduce soft fruits to her in this mesh – as I am still fearful of choking hazards! So far, she has eaten papaya, avocado, pear, mango, melon and blueberries… successfully and messily … while kiwi fruit was NOT a hit.
  3. Foam puzzle mat – we had turned the sofa bed in the lounge into a permanent bed so that we could put her on it (on a quilt) so that she could play (as it was softer than the floor)… until the day she rolled off. These were on my next Amazon purchase list immediately and although I still feel that they are a bit on the thin side – I have placed them on top of one of our carpets and this seems to make it “bouncier” and softer. She hasn’t mastered the art of crawling yet – but can manage to move backwards, roll over and twist around – so having this on our lounge floor works quite well for now, and gives me a bit more peace of mind.
  4. Vintage Bunny bowls – my dad just visited us via the UK where he found 3 of these gorgeous vintage bunny bowls which I am now using for her dinner each evening. I am still holding the bowl – so there is no chance of her grabbing and possibly dropping or breaking it. But they are just SO gorgeous – don’t you think?
  5. Sophie the Giraffe – I don’t care what anyone tells you – this is probably the best thing to buy any baby or any new parent! Her entire face lights up when she sees it… and she manages to gnaw on his head, ears, feet, neck, etc (as we are still convinced that she is teething and that we will soon see some teeth making their appearance… or at least this is the excuse “Teething” that we use for everything!). But seriously – Sophie is loved by all.

This is NOT a sponsored post – but is a true reflection of items that we have and love. (However, we would like to disclaim that we did not pay for the Stokke Chair and accessories but received these on behalf of our other blog partner)

Monkeys Top 5: 4-6 months

Although those days are gone… I remember how much these 5 items helped us all (and let’s be honest, making Monkey happy, makes Mommy happy!)

top 5 4-6months old

  1. Noukie Doudou – I had never heard of a doudou before I moved to Brussels, but now when I see Monkey with hers I realize why it is so popular! Gifted to us by one of my colleagues – Coco the Penguin is a firm favourite. The different fabrics are often stroked and provide a calming effect on her, sometimes even lulling her to sleep when she is exceptionally tired & niggly – Plus she loves to fiddle and chew on the different sized tags which are on the edges!
  2. Baby Bjorn Carrier I know that a lot of mom’s use the fabric baby carrier to wrap around them and their babies – but I just didn’t have the confidence to use it comfortably and confidently, especially when one-handed (as the other hand is holding Monkey). I bought this online as it had some great reviews and allows for usage from newborn (3.5kg) as well as providing the option of both inward facing & forward facing (as of 5months). Monkey gets excited when she sees me putting this on – as she knows that it means we are heading out for an outing!
  3. Baby Bouncer chair – There are so many of these on the market , but we landed up getting this one super simple one from our local Mothercare shop in Brussels. Without a doubt the best investment we have made with regards to baby purchases!!! Monkey has pretty much spent a few hours in this chair each day since she was a few weeks old. I never bought the batteries for the vibration/music unit (bad mother!) and I don’t think she ever missed it. Monkey loves playing with the toy bar – but not for long (so thankfully it can be removed as well) and is happy to be strapped in (most of the time) in a cradled seat position to watch us (or the world go by!). We have been known to take this chair with us to a hotel, restaurant and friends houses as we believe it is more comfortable for her than the car seat!
  4. Baby Sleeping bags – as Monkey started to move around her crib a bit more, turning, wriggling and sometimes thrashing – we spent many an evening having to get up during the night to re-cover her with a blanket (that she had kicked off) and in winter this was worrying. We were gifted some 2nd hand sleeping bags as well as one new one from C&A (in Brussels) and she now sleeps in it every night. We know that she also sleeps in one at the crèche where she attends mornings only.
  5. Nappy/Changing Bag – when I was pregnant, I was gifted the most beautiful and stylish Baby Changing bag… the only problem was that it was enormous! I needed a small day-to-day bag that I could sling over my shoulder and head out if we were only going out for a small amount of time. (And I wasn’t a fan of the bag that came with our Stroller/Pram/Car seat combo). So the last time I was at Maasmechelen Outlet Shopping Village – I headed into the Kipling shop and purchased this bag. It is small enough, so not too bulky – but big enough to put a bottle into the side pocket, a change of clothes, my mini nappy bag, tissues, etc in the middle section and my purse & keys in the front pocket.

This is NOT a sponsored post – but is a true reflection of items that we have and love

Monkeys Top 5: 2-4 months

Your world is completely upside down… but you are coping on limited sleep and are still in complete awe of the fact that you have made this little human who is lying in your arms…

The world in general (and anything baby related) is still a bit of blur and if you are anything like me – you realized that nothing has adequately prepared you… No amount of prenatal classes, reading of *What to Expect when Expecting* or YouTube videos.

I have to confess that the first few months are still a bit blurry in my memory – but I do remember that there were a few things that made my life a LOT easier and Monkey started to take notice of a few items too! So here are the top 5’s for her 2-4 month period.

top 5 2-4 months old

  1. Baby Bath seat – Everyone will tell you that you don’t need to bath a baby every day. I on the other hand am very routine based… so I decided to put Monkey in the bath of warm water (37-38 degrees) each evening, even if it was only for a few minutes, before her last milk and into her crib to sleep. This became our routine! She was so small in the beginning and I was so scared of her drowning – that I was grateful for purchasing this bath seat with a toweling overlay (although we did once have a bit more water in her face than I would have been comfortable with – making it a firm reminder that you should always keep your hand tightly around their arm, even if you are using a bath seat!). We purchased ours at our local Mothercare shop in Brussels
  2. Philips Avent Bottle Sterlizer – after a very traumatic breastfeeding experience which lasted weeks, I eventually gave up pumping, stressing, etc and surrendered ourselves to the fact that our Monkey would be bottlefed. After a few weeks of boiling the bottles in water in pots to sterilize them, we bought a Philips Avent Bottle Sterlizer from Bol.com – electric 3 in 1… and it has been a real time saver! Bol.com was a great online discovery (however only in Dutch) as they offer next day delivery and have different specials each day – the day we purchased it, it was 50% off – BONUS!
  3. Crib Mobile – one of our very dear friends offered to buy us something for Monkey… I thought long and hard about what would be a practical but good gift and eventually asked her to get Monkey a mobile to hang over her crib. Funny story is that we were shopping in the local Mothercare shop in Brussels talking about exactly that – when BAM – there she was! So we picked it together. Around 3/4 months, Monkey suddenly took a huge interest in these dangling animals above her and would watch them go round and round as the mobile played (especially the stripped zebra….)
  4. Hooded bath towels – Another bathing item that I think is brilliant, a square towel with a little corner hood sewn in… just the right size and pretty much available in any store that has baby related items. We got one at HEMA, we were gifted a home sewn one, we were gifted two from C&A…
  5. Bath thermometer – while bathing Monkey, I need to remind myself that she is just little thing and not at all like me… yet! Because I like my showers and baths scalding… such that my skin turns red. This is not something you want to subject your little one to… which is why having a bath thermometer is a VERY good investment! I purchased our little pink flower Philips Avent one from amazon.co.uk and she is now (at 7months) at the point of playing with it as well – so it serves 2 purposes – practical & playful!

Monkeys Top 5: Early weeks

In the first few weeks that we had Monkey in our lives – were totally overwhelmed… firstly, I have to admit that we had FAR too much stuff… FAR too many clothes and of course NO CLUE on how we were going to handle everything.

But as the days rolled into weeks – there were a few things that we realized where fantastic items to have.. so although this is the Monkeys Top 5 – we like to think that she would agree with these too!

top 5 a few weeks old

1. Thermometer – thank goodness the hospital provided us with a little bag to take home – this included a pack of nappies, some Galenco baby bath/shampoo/cream products, a hair brush and of course a Predictor 10 second digital thermometer – something that has been used pretty much since birth… and especially when Monkey is sick and feverish!

2. Baby nail scissors – it sounds silly but Monkeys fingernails seem to grow at an alarming rate  and every 2nd or 3rd day, we would wait until she was having a nap before clipping away … as it is super easy to nip into their little fingers (eina!) These were purchased in a set from our local Mothercare shop in Brussels – but I would think that simple is sufficient, as long as you can avoid little one from scratching up their faces (and trust me… they do… especially when they sleep)

3. Muslin clothes or swaddling/receiving blankets – a girlfriend of mine in SA sent me a pack (from Woolworths) and I also purchased a set from Marks & Spencer (online) – and they were used to either swaddle Monkey in the early days before putting her in her crib or pram and later as a cloth to clean up, put under her, etc. (We still keep on between the sheet and her sleeping bag and one over her bouncy chair as you never know when there is going to be spit up, vomit or worse….)

4. Face clothes – it sounds so simple, but we used warm, wet face clothes to clean her when we changed her nappy/diaper each time – and only introduced wet wipes when Monkey was older. These face clothes have also been used (wet & cold) to bring down her temperature when she has been feverish and for bathing/cleaning and of course for feeding time clean-ups. Again – just like the scissors, simple is sufficient! I bought simple packs from HEMA in Brussels

5. Travel Changing mat – we were gifted the most beautiful embroidered (on the outside) pink travel changing mat, which folds up nicely and fits into a travel nappy bag whenever we head out (Trust me, in Brussels, there are few places that have a changing mat and you really don’t want to put your own little Monkey down on a table, counter, etc without the added the protection, for their little bodies but also for “those” accidents and the property on which you are doing the changing!)