The toddler hit list: children’s books we love to read

We love a good bedtime story here. And one of the best ways to calm my toddler down and focus his attention is to bring out a book I know he loves. Here is a list of his top picks. 

Number 1 on the reading list is a classic story first published in 1968. Corduroy by Don Freeman is the story of a toy store teddy bear waiting to be bought. My son adores the simple illustrations and sweet storyline. It’s a great book for begining discussions on friendship.

Number 2 on his list is Dinosaurs in the Supermarket by Timothy Knapman and Sarah Warburton. This book appeals to my son’s silly sense of humour and what kid doesn’t love dinosaurs. We search each page for hidden dinosaurs and talk about tidying up after ourselves when we read this book about sneaky, messy dinosaurs. The illustrations are bright and colourful, whilst the story takes on a rhyming narrative of a boys trip to the supermarket with his mum. It’s good fun and can be quick to read if your on that “1 last story please”.

Our third favourite story at the moment is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. At 2.5 I think a lot of days must feel like this. I think my son loves this book so much because he can relate to the little boy in the story and feels like he’s not the only one who has bad days. It’s okay to have bad days, “some days are just like that” the story explains.

Fourth on our list is But No Elephants by Jerry Smath. This story follows a predictable formula, Granny agrees to buy lots of animals from the pet man with the stipulation of “No Elephants!” My son loves the repetitive pattern that threads through the story and of course at the end (spoiler alert) we love counting the elephants she is welcoming to her home.

There are lots of books we love and of course being a toddler he frequently changes his mind and demands a new favourite over and over again weekly so having a good foundation of classic I don’t mind reading for the 1,000 time helps! I hope it helps you too, which are your favourites?


The Toddler Hit List: Children’s TV my son loves and so do I

Like most toddlers when my son finds something he likes, be it a song, a book or a tv show, he will enjoy it over and over and over again…and so will I. So I’ve compiled a list of TV shows which he loves and I do too, because let’s face it if he’s going to watch the same shows over and over again I had better be on board with them too.

Number 1 on the toddler hit list currently is PJ Masks. This show has been released by Disney Junior and features three little super heroes, Catboy, Owlette and Gekko. It’s an animated preschool tv show based on the French picture book series Les Pyjamasques. The toddler loves it for its colourful characters and action packed story lines. Mommy loves it for its cute animation and useful lessons. It gives us something to talk further about.

Number 2 is the classic Sesame Street, which although we live in the UK can still be accessed and watched via podcast and their YouTube channel. The toddler loves the variety of characters, the humour and the fun way in which letters and numbers are taught. He of course loves Elmo and his world as well as the slap stick antics of Grover and the gang. Mom loves that he is learning whilst having fun and can remember many of the songs and characters from when she was a girl.

Coming in at number 3 on the list is Masha and the Bear. The toddler found this on his own and loves this Russian animation. It is apparently based on a Russian folk tale and the characters of Masha a mischievous little girl and her friend Bear are highly entertaining whilst retaining an old fashioned fairy tale feel.

Finally the fourth choice on the list is the CBBC show Bing! It features a bunny called Bing and his carer Flop. Not only is Bing a very relatable character for the toddler he’s also accompanied by Flop who is an expert at keeping his cool and teaching life lessons to the young bunny. Adding a bit of cache to the show, Flop is voiced by Mark Rylance, who is just brilliantly cast.

The babywearing bug

With new baby carriers being released all the time the business of baby wearing can be a confusing one. A lot has changed in the 15 years between my first and fourth babies. To be honest baby carriers didn’t cross my mind much 15 years ago, but by the time I was having baby number 2 (in 2005) it was the Baby Bjorn carriers which were all the rage, and despite their fairly unergonomic, dare I say down right uncomfortable design I still wore my baby  whilst simultaneously participating in a mommy and baby exercise class. Now, nearly 10 years on I realise the error of my ways.

It’s pretty hard to miss the advice for safe babywearing if your a member of any of the mommy forums out there. However if your not on any of these (as they can test the patience of a saint at times) here is the T.I.C.K.S. rule for safe babywearing from the Baby Sling Safety website.

In addition to this it is also widely reccomended that babies be carried with their knees higher than their bum with the carrier supporting baby in the M position from knee to knee. More information on this can be found on the Babywearing International website. I found this website provided a good range of visual information. With examples of good practice babywearing in different sorts of carriers from ring slings to soft structured carriers.

Two years ago I had another baby, still fairly clueless in the babywearing arena I endeavoured to find some advice as I was aware things had changed a bit since my momercise days. Wraps had gained in popularity and many of those mommy forum gurus reccomended trying a Boba baby wrap or something similar. At that time I did buy a wrap, but was unsuccessful in using it effectively due to my own lack of confidence with tying and lack of knowledge or real life advice. I also tried an original Ergo baby carrier with my son, but failed to ever make him look comfy in it and the buckles and straps confused my already fried sleep deprived brain. 

On baby number four now and I feel like I’ve finally started getting somewhere with this babywearing business. I’ve managed to take my now 8 week old on several hikes (because my two year old would live wild in the woods if I’d let him and can not go more than a few days without a hike). Mostly I’ve used my cotton wrap for these. I’ve also purchased a Hoppediz Bondolino , which is a slightly more structured version of a mei tai (traditional Asian-inspired carrier). I’ve used this a few times and think it will be great now that he’s a bit bigger and can be carried legs out. I’m also keen to try their Hop Tye carrier.

Of course now I’ve become competent and somewhat more confident with my babywearing I’ve caught the bug. It is a rather addictive activity and I’m quite keen to “grow my stash”, as I’ve heard the other mommies refer to their collections of carriers, wraps and ring slings. There is a whole world of beautiful woven wraps that I am only just begining to dip my toes into. Not only is there a range of materials and manufacturers of wraps there is also a whole variety of ways to tie these gorgeous things. The tying in an of itself looks like a work of art to me. I will blog more about this as I try more, I’ve definitely caught the bug for babywearing now!

He’s just not that into you

imageYou know the first few weeks? The ones where your bobbing and constantly swaying in an effort to gain that precious five minutes of peace? I mistakenly thought as my last son had enjoyed his swing that perhaps my newest bundle of joy might also share his brother’s penchant for the magical rocking motions. Boy was I wrong! (Unsurprisingly I’m wrong a lot.)

In my efforts to acquire every possible useful bit of baby gear going I seem to have accomplished buying little that the new baby has approved of. His Fisherprice take along swing adorned with delightful woodland creatures? Hates it. The über expensive easywalker double buggy? Hates it. The swaddleme blanket his brother couldn’t sleep without? Hates it. Most of my successful purchases have been discovered post baby being born. Babies it seems, or at least my babies, are born picky with their minds thoroughly made up as to what they do and do not want. No amount of swaying, bird song or vibration is about to change their minds. Sorry fisherprice swing, mommy loves your space saving features, your woodland animals and your variety of soothing sounds, baby however just is not that into you.

Potty training the nonverbal toddler

imagePotty training can be a challenge at the best of times, but throw in a toddlers inability to verbalise his need to actually use the potty and it adds a whole other dimension to the process. So why am I attempting to potty train now you may ask? Well, quite simply I’m not, he is. He is taking off his diapers preferring to pee in the hall or behind the armchair in my living room rather than in a diaper.

So we are going to start down the potty training road and I’ve been googling “how to potty train a nonverbal toddler”. Here’s what I’ve found:

Sign language – teaching your child the sign for potty seems to be a regular suggestion which comes up in the mommy forums, however my son has difficulty with mimicking which has made both verbal language and sign language challenging for him to get.

Pictures/Makaton – having a picture of the potty that your child brings to you when he needs to go was also suggested by several moms. You start out by showing them the picture when they are on the potty so they eventually associate the two things. Similarly Makaton was suggested as it uses symbols and signs for communication. I do have a picture of a potty in a pack of flash cards so I may give this a go.

Object – using an object such as a toilet paper tube as a visual que was another idea I discovered on the forums which I thought  could potentially work for us. You teach your child to bring you the tube when he needs the toilet, again you start by showing it to him and letting him hold it while he’s on the potty to begin with. You could use any object really, but I like the idea that it’s toilet related. Though I’m not sure how this would work when you are out and about.

Wait – finally there were a lot of moms advising other moms to just wait, the longer you wait it seems the easier it will be. Now if someone would just tell my son that!

What has worked for you? I’d love to hear what other moms have found useful in their potty training adventures.

Valco Baby Zee review

I’ll be the first to admit that I have an addiction to pushchairs, prams and strollers. The transport of my children is a fundamental element of our lives. Being able to transport a screaming toddler or a sleeping baby is pretty important to me as a mom. Because we all know being stuck in the house with small children for an extended period equates to torture. I’ve yet to find the golden truffle of strollers, though don’t worry I’ll work my way through them all at this rate!

The Valco Baby Zee has been a little work horse, it’s transported my little guy over a variety of terrain and whilst I wouldn’t reccomendbit it as an all terrain stroller it’s been great at tackling mom-terrain. Grass, park mulch, dusty national trust paths, the odd cobbled street and yes, even the dreaded commuter packed train into London. It has solid tires, though pneumatic tires are available at extra cost, I do wish I had tried these out, but as it was the standard ones worked just fine. It’s a pretty stylish stroller that folds up surprisingly compact at 21.5″ W x 28.5″ L x  16″ H. The fold on a pushchair is extremely important to me. Taking kids out requires supplies, it’s like a military operation getting my children anywhere, requiring quite a bit of accompanying kit. This all takes up valuable space in the car so the more compact the pushchair the better. Generally it needs to fit along side shopping or suitcases in the back of the car too.

The Valco Zee is pretty lightweight too at just 18 lbs it rivals my umbrella stroller. This is handy when your slinging it in and out of cars or collapsing it to get onto a train or bus.

Where the Zee falls down is in its ability to change into a double. There is an accompanying jokey seat which attaches to the front of the stroller and allowed my rather exuberant toddler to swing his feet perilously close to my newborn beneath him.

A few other niggles include a fiddley mechanism for adjusting the height of the harness straps, I also found the clasp at the front of the harness became less and less easy to do up over time. It seemed to stop snapping in and would occasionally come undone if it hadn’t been clicked in properly.

Overall the Zee is pretty competitive, ticking  most of the boxes it sets out to. It’s a fairly compact stroller which provides a comfortable place for your little one to ride. With a few little features like an extendable hood (it really is huge!), adjustable foot rest and a well supported seat and back it makes for a very good option for those who will only ever need it to be a single seat pushchair.


I am a researcher by nature, and probably a worrier too. I am a mom, it’s what we do right? Luckily for me I’m not the first person to ask Google “How long do the terrible twos last?”, nor will I be the last so I figured I’d start blogging all this information I’ve found moms swapping on the internet. From mommy life hacks to recipes to childcare advice it’ll all be here. If I google it, I’ll share it and I hope you’ll share too, because being a mom is a tough and we are all in this together.