Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Choosing the right bed for your child

If it is getting to the time where your child is growing out of their cot, and needing their first bed, knowing what type of bed to buy can often be a nightmare. There is often conflicting advice about what mattress is best, or what the bed should and shouldn’t have and it can often feel very overwhelming. The reality is, as a parent, you will know best what your individual child requires; however, there are certain things that you should look out for and consider when you are investing in their first bed.

The first thing that many new parent question; particularly if it is their first born, is when you should move your child out of a cot and into a bed. The answer to this is that it is all dependent on your child and how you feel as a parent. The majority of children tend to make the move between eighteen months and three years, but that is not to say that they should make it sooner or later. Just bear in mind the safety of your child at all times. If they are beginning to climb out of their cot, or look like they are trying to, it might be time to reconsider your options. It could be dangerous if your child is able to climb out during the night, as they have the potential to hurt themselves. If they are sleeping in something that is visibly too small for them, it will also become uncomfortable; this is definitely something that will need to be addressed. 


There are many different reasons why you might need to move your child into a bed as opposed to a cot. One of the more common reasons, is if you have a new sibling for your child on the way and they will need to cot. Remember that suddenly having a new baby brother or sister may be confusing for your child, so it is best that you make the transition a few weeks in advance so they have time to get used to their bed; because, let’s face it, you will have enough on your hands when you have a new baby, that you do not want your older child to feel unsettled in their new bed. It will also prevent them from feeling like they have been pushed out of their old bed because of the baby. All things that can make a child feel incredibly unsettled and nervous. 


If you have a child that is particularly nervous about moving from their cot into their bed, try and make the transition as comforting as you possibly can. After all, it is understandable that they might feel ever so slightly nervous as it is where they have felt safe and warm every night for their whole life. If you can, try and bring any blankets and toys from their cot into their new bed, so they can still associate the smell and feel with their cot. If it is possible, try and put the bed in the same spot that the cot was in. This means that should your child wake up in the middle of the night they will not feel scared. You can often become disorientated when you first wake up, even as an adult, and you do not want to distress your child even more by waking up in an unfamiliar bed, with unfamiliar surroundings. If the bed is in the same place as the cot, if they do wake up, their surroundings will still be the same, which should reassure them somewhat. Introduce your child to their new bed before they are expected to sleep in it. Tell them that is their grown up bed, and make it seem exciting to them, so they are looking forward to sleeping in it. It might also be worth getting them to help choose it, so they feel like they have had some sort of impact. It is little things like this that are likely to make the child feel more reassured and safer when the time comes for them to sleep in their bed. Praise them when they have spent the first night there as well, so they know that if they do that, they will be praised for it. They will be more inclined to stay there during the night and not get out. 


One of the most important things to consider when buying your child their first bed is the safety element. There are many different styles of bed that you can buy, but all should have some form of safety rail installed; even if their beds are very close to the ground. Many people go straight from a cot, to an ordinary bed, and bypass the toddler bed stage thinking that they are a waste of money; however, they really do have their advantages. They have been specifically designed for the transition period and know what a toddler requires. Toddlers have very fragile bones and can cause a lot of damage to themselves should they fall out of bed, so it is imperative that you have considered this, particularly if the bed is high. If you are still deciding on bypassing a bed that has been designed for a toddler, it is advisable that you purchase guard rails that you can attach to any bed to prevent them from rolling out in the night. 


Finally, make it fun for them. As they get older, their room will mean more and more to them, so make it a safe and fun environment for them. There are so many different styles of bed that are perfect for young children that have built in dens underneath, or have a particular theme to them. Look at the bed as an investment piece, as many toddler beds will last longer than it is often thought, as they can be adapted. For example, a bed with a den area, can be transformed into a study area, as opposed to a play area when the child starts school, or becomes a little older. Having a bed with something added to it as well is an excellent way of making your child excited about moving into it, which will make the transition a lot easier. 


Choosing the right bed for your young child doesn’t have to be hard or stressful. Ultimately it is a personal choice, and as their parent, you are going to know what they need more than anyone else, so do what you think is best for your child. Make the move as relaxing and reassuring as you can, and most importantly make it fun for them.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

How to prepare your children for Halloween

Halloween is quickly creeping up on us and for some children it can be a really scary time. Whilst many relish in getting dressed up and going round knocking on doors to see what sweets they can get by the end of the night, for others it can be an incredibly fearful night, particularly if they are young and do not understand what is going on. However, there are certain things that you can do in order to help them to prepare for Halloween, including what to expect, and also how to make them feel more comfortable about the night itself.

You will probably spot the signs beforehand that your child is likely to be scared on and around Halloween. If they are prone to checking underneath the bed for monsters, or do not like sleeping in their own beds, it will be likely that they will not like the costumes that they will inevitably see around October 31st. Know your child, and try and spot the signs early, so you can prepare them.
When a child is scared of something it can make them incredibly stressed, which in turn will unearth a load of other issues. You may feel at times that you are going round in circles, but it is so important to ensure that you are patient with them. Remember that it won’t last forever, but do not focus on this alone. Do not tell them that they will grow out of it in time and openly dismiss their fears. It is important to be patient with them. For whatever reason they have these fears, try and get to the bottom of why they are feeling like they are. It might seem like an irrational silly fear when you’re an adult, but for a young child, it can completely engulf them. However frustrating it is at the time, you must be patient and appreciate that your child has feelings, and not to dismiss them. Trying to minimise them will only make them worse. You need to be respectful of their feelings, and work on helping the deal with the issue, rather than placing the focus on them ‘getting over it’. 

Instead of focusing on all the scary costumes, try and focus on the fun element. In the run up to Halloween, buy a few different books that make Halloween fun rather than frightening. Find out specifically what it is that is scaring them. It they are scared of the dark, try reading them a story in bed using only a torch as light. You could also consider buying a nightlight, or glow in the dark toys that they can take with them if they went trick or treating. If they are scared of the monster costumes that they will see at Halloween, or get scared going into their room overnight because they are scared of a monster; get them to draw the monster with a funny face. Or, act how different hand puppet shows where your child defeats the monster driving it out of their room. If you try and address and beat all of their demons inside, when it gets to Halloween they are likely to be a lot more relaxed.

Listen to what they want to do and try to find out what works for them. If it is just Halloween that your child is scared of, work at their own pace. Do not force them to dress up in an outfit that they find scary because you want them too. If it is the dark, why not go out earlier when it is lighter? This way they can still experience trick or treating without feeling uneasy or unnecessary scared. It could also help if you have children who are scared of all the costumes that you find at Halloween, as it is likely to be quieter the earlier you go out, and they will see fewer people dressed up in scary outfits. 

If you have other children who like to celebrate Halloween, try and make it as fun as possible whilst you are at home. Get all of your children together and make different decorations that will not scare your children. The last thing you want is for your children to feel scared in their own home. There are many different whimsical ideas that you can do that will make the holiday fun for them rather than making your home a scary place for them to be in. Let them decide their own costumes, or get them to dress up in different clothes that they have at home. This does not have to be Halloween related. If they want to dress up as a fairy, then let them. They are still joining in and having fun; but in such a way that will not be scary for them. Alternatively, you could try creating a costume that matches their interests. Regardless of what others think of the costume, the important thing is that your child feels comfortable in how they have dressed up. 

Finally, do not force your child to go trick or treating if they do not want to. There are plenty of different activities that you can do in your home that will be just as fun and entertaining, such as a Halloween picnic, or games, or even a Halloween trick or treat hunt in your own back garden. If they do not want to go up to other people’s houses do not force them. If they are showing an element of interest, but are quite timid, start off by visiting the houses in your own street, and make sure that you go up to the door with them. Once they have got used to that, you can try staying a few steps behind them, until they get used to and then just get further and further away until they are visiting the doors by themselves. Also, if you live in a street that has many children, get them all together to go trick or treating. Not only is it safer, but it also allows those who are a little nervous to relax and observe before they build up their confidence.

Halloween should be a fun exciting time, and a time for children to get dressed up and involved in the festivities. If your child is a little anxious, make sure you determine the cause before the holiday, and prepare them in the best way you can to make them feel at ease when the time comes.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Keeping your children safe this summer

With the weather getting warmer, and another heat wave set to hit just next week, it is incredibly important to make sure your children stay safe and cool in the warmer months. The summer holidays are just weeks away, and weather permitting, your children are likely to want to spend a lot of time outside. It is therefore, your responsibility to remain vigilant to the heat, as well as being able to recognise early signs of heat or sunstroke. Of course, the easiest way to prevent this is to ensure that they are sensible and safe in the sun, whilst still allowing them to have fun. 

Whenever your children are outside, or on a hot and sunny day, ensure that they are drinking enough. Children will not drink, unless they are thirst, and because of that it is incredibly easy for them to become dehydrated quicker than you may realise. Try and get them into a bit of a routine that ensures they are drinking before and after they have been running around, and having another drink every time they stop. Or, alternatively, you could keep their favourite cup next to the sink, and tell them to fill it up and drink it all every time they come in. If they are getting bored with just drinking water, mix it up a little bit to make it more fun and interesting for them. Try giving them some watermelon pieces, or some other fruit or veg with a high water content, or flavour their water naturally with some fruit juice. Alternatively, you can make your own healthy homemade natural ice lollies – get your children involved when you are making them, as they will then be excited to eat them.
Make sure they are dressed appropriately in the morning for the weather that day. Avoid dressing your children in tight fitting, heavy fabrics, such as denim, as this will just make them hotter as the day goes on. If they are going to be outside, it is so important that they are comfortable in what they are wearing. Fabrics like cotton and linen are ideal, as they are very light and will not absorb the heat. Dress them in lighter colours, such as white that will reflect the light, and not absorb like black does. Layer them up in very light layers, for the cooler evenings, or for if the weather suddenly turns. 

As well as concentrating on their clothing, you also need to pay special attention to their skin, head and eyes. It cannot be said enough just how important it is to protect your child’s skin by applying a high SPF factor sun cream to them even if it does not appear overly sunny. Do not fall into the trap that many people do and assume because you have put it on once, you are protected for the whole day, as this is simply not the case. You need to reapply it regularly and every time they have been in water, whether that is in a paddling pool, outdoor swimming pool or the sea. On top of that, make sure that your children are completely kitted out for the weather that they are playing in. Ensure that they are wearing an appropriate cap or sun hat, and that they are protecting their eyes with sunglasses. 

The hottest time of the day falls between 11am and 3pm. During these hours, your child is more at risk from both the sun and the heat that comes with it. If your children are outside in these hours, extra precaution must be taken. Find a shaded area for them to play in, and ensure that they are eating and drinking enough. Ideally, try and keep your children inside during this time, and find an alternative activity if it is an incredibly hot day. Babies should be kept in the shade at all times, regardless of the time, as their skin is much more sensitive. 

There are many ways in which you can make the hot weather safe and fun. Plan ahead, by looking at the weather forecast. Although, it can change at short notice, having a plan for if the weather is hot will keep you prepared. This way, you can plan activities, outfits and suitable hot weather snacks (such as, ensuring you have a supply of watermelons, and pre-making your homemade ice lollies.). If the weather does catch you off guard, and a cooler day turns into an incredibly hot day, there are preparations you can make in advance for these eventualities. If your garden is large enough, have a paddling pool ready that you can quickly fill up with cool water. This will help to keep your children cool, as well as creating a fun activity for them. Just remember to make sure that they keep hydrated, and that you re-apply their sun cream every time they leave the water.
It is important to know how to keep your house cool as well, so that there is a place that your children can come to and relax should they get too hot outside. There is nothing nicer that walking into your house and it being cool on a hot day, but likewise, there is nothing worse than walking into your home and feeling like you have entered a green house. There are many simple tricks that can help to cool your house down. If it is really hot outside, opening the windows will just bring your house temperature to that of the outside. Instead, shut the windows and turn on fans or an air conditioning unit if you are lucky enough to have one. Use blinds or curtains to block out the sun, and to make the room feel much cooler. 

When you are getting your child ready for bed, after they have been playing outside on a hot day, put them in a cool bath to refresh them. Know the signs to look out for if you are concerned that your child is suffering from heat stroke, and remember that it does not take long for heat exhaustion to develop. Symptoms can include, tired and weakness; intense thirst; being sick; heavy sweating and a fast pulse. It is important to treat your child before it gets any worse, and cool them down. However, prevention is better than cure, and it is important to monitor your child and ensure that they are staying safe and enjoying the sun.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Cheap ways to keep your children entertained this summer

The summer break from school can seem like a very long time when you are trying to think of ways to keep your brood entertained, without breaking the bank. After the six weeks are over, many parents are tearing their hair out, and cannot wait for the day they start back at school, but there are many ways that you can keep your children happy and entertained, without having it cost the earth. Here are just 10 different ways for you to start with…

At the beginning of the summer holidays, encourage your children to document what they do. This can be done either by keeping a diary, or by taking pictures of days out, or just anything fun they did. Gradually, they can build a scrapbook that they can then look back on at the end of the holidays. This is very cheap to do, as all you need is a scrapbook, and their imagination and creativity.

Getting your children involved in some supervised cooking is an excellent way to keep them occupied for a morning or afternoon. You can get them baking cookies and biscuits that they can decorate afterwards. They ingredients are relatively inexpensive, if you do not have them in your pantry already, and it is a brilliant way of getting them involved in the kitchen. Plus, the whole family can enjoy the finished product!

If it is nice weather, take your children and go and explore your local woods. You can pack snacks and water, and really make an afternoon of it. You can give them a list of things that they have got to try and spot during their adventure. If there is a little bridge and a stream, you can even teach them how to play Pooh sticks. Not only is this keeping them active, it is completely free to do.

Taking a day trip to museums is not only an excellent, educational and stimulating day out for them but many museums charge nothing for the entry. A day out like this can become as expensive or inexpensive as you make it. Obviously there are the travelling costs, but that can be it. You can pack a packed lunch for you and the children and go to as many free museums as you want. The double bonus is that walking around the museums will tire them out as well, leaving you with a quiet evening ahead.

Plan a picnic for your children and their friends. You can all arrange to meet in the local park, and for each person to bring a dish. This way, you are not footing the bill for all of the food, but it is an excellent and easy, fun day out. You can even bring a selection of games to keep everyone entertained. This is perfect if you have children of different ages, as they can both invite their friends, and have fun, yet you are not paying for more than one activity.

A treasure hunt is a brilliant activity for your children and one that is fairly easy and inexpensive to set up. You can get hold of very inexpensive toys, sweets and chocolate, to be used as the treasure that they are hunting for. In the morning, set up your treasure in your garden, or even around the house if the weather is bad, before drawing maps and writing down clues for your children to follow. This will also get them working as a team, as they can work together to find all of the treats.

If you are having trouble trying to find ways of keeping your children entertained in the holidays, set up an arts and craft area in your home, and have a day that is dedicated to just this. Get some paint, paper, and crafty items and let your children be as creative as they want. This is a really great way to keep them occupied, but also for you to spend time with them, without spending any money.

At the beginning of the summer holidays, get some plant seeds, and get your children to plant these in the garden. They will then have to care for them throughout the summer; otherwise they will not see the rewards. This will encourage them to ensure that they are watered and cared for, which in turn will keep them occupied for times. You can also encourage them to keep the area free from weeds, as that way, they are learning all about the importance of gardening as well.

Taking them to the local library is an excellent way to keep your children entertained and occupied. You can either spend a morning there, encouraging them to read, or you can set up a free account for them, where they can take the books home to read. Encouraging them to read over the holidays is incredibly worthwhile, as it will stimulate their imagination and keep their mind active. Plus, it is completely free as long as you remember to take the books back on time!

The seaside is a really exciting place for children to be and it can keep them entertained for hours. Again, this can be as expensive or cheap as you like. You can take a packed lunch, or a picnic to have on the beach to keep the costs down, and some buckets and spades to play about on the sand. Again, this is perfect for wearing your children out, and keeping them active, so they are not just sitting at home on the computer. Just don’t forget the sun cream!