Monday, 29 October 2012

A year in breastfeeding

I have written about my breastfeeding experiences here before, so to celebrate a year in breastfeeding and co-sleeping,  as Sofia turned 1 recently, I thought I would simply share some of our pictures that say it all really.

A year in books

As an ambassador for Barefoot Books and a new mummy, I am passionate about books, reading and education. For me, it is never too early to introduce the wonderful world of books to babies; it can be a pleasure for both parent and child. We all want our babies to to be babies and for them to enjoy their time with us before moving on to a more structured way of learning, at school , but we can all play a big part in our children's education. Reading to young children is extremely important in the development of communication skills and can also be beneficial to their emotional development; helping them to make sense of the world around them . Reading is also fun, engaging and allows our children to be creative. 

If you are thinking what age is best for your baby to be introduced to books, I would always say as soon as possible; not quite straight out of the delivery room but almost! Personally I am not one for a strict routine but over the past year, since having Sofia, we have naturally fallen in to a nice pattern that suits all three of us. Whether you are like me or you have a more robust routine, introducing books early on can help establish a relaxed bedtime routine as well as allowing for great bonding time. As your child grows and becomes more interested in something other than sleep and milk, you can start to introduce books that your child can interact with and enjoy, particularly books that have emphasis on colour and texture for those exploring little eyes and hands. To help with ideas on what books you can buy/loan during your child's first year, I have out together a few of the books we have enjoyed with Sofia, who will be turning one shortly and is growing to love books more and more.

Newborn onwards

As I mentioned, bedtime is a great time to introduce books to young babies, whether that be short, calming stories or books to aid you in singing lullabies whilst your baby drifts off to sleep. My favourites have been Night Night Stories, by Usborne; a small collection of short stories featuring animals that need a little bit of reassurance before they go to sleep and Barefoot's Baby's first book that features lot of little rhymes and stories that are a great introduction to children's literature

3 months onwards

This is a great age to start to introduce colours and textures, as you baby's eyes start to explore and there hands start to reach out to touch new things. I have loved the Priddy books that we were bought, with Fuzzy Bee being a book that is picked up again and again by Sofia. The Priddy books are bright and attractive for babies and some have rustle, giving added fun for baby. Baby Touch books are also great, with simple and fun images that bring a smile to your baby's face.

6 months onwards

By 6 months, your baby will be wanting to explore more and more and will be more efficient in trying to turn pages and engaging with the images on the page. Babies will love texture even more at this stage, so books like the Usborne ' That's not my.... range ' are great. Sofia has also loved a beautiful Peter Rabbit finger puppet book; first of all giggling at daddy using the puppet and now trying to move the puppet herself. Introducing classics is wonderful for you as well as baby, as you remember what your favourite books were when you were a child;wanting your child to enjoy reading stories even more.

9 months onwards
Your baby is now getting more and more eager to get involved in the storytelling process and is quick to try and jump ahead and turn the pages. This is a great age to introduce action rhyme books, like the Claire Beaton from Barefoot, and get used to singing pat-a-cake over and over again. ' Heads ' by Matthew Van Fleet  is also a fun book that allows those little fingers move little flaps on the page to reveal animals tongues, heads, feet etc. 

12 month onwards
It's hard to believe that your baby has grown so quickly and is now very active, wanting to sing and dance like a little toddler. Books that have CD's attached, like the brilliant Animal Boogie from Barefoot allow interact and move about as you are telling a story. These books can be enjoyed from baby years right through to school years and are a great addition to a child's library. At this age babies can also hold their attention a little longer and may enjoy more detailed stories that are a little more in depth. As well as the classics, like ' Guess how much I love you ' , picture books that allow a hide and seek like game are great, with HUG by Jez Alborough a definite favourite in our house.

For help in getting access to books  take a look at Bookstart, an organisation that supports you to enjoy books with your child from as early an age as possible. You may have heard about Bookstart through your local children's centre or library but if not ask next time you drop in. Your local children's centre may also have a 'Toy Library', a scheme in which you pay to loan toys and books, including giant books with toy characters from the book that are great for reading in groups.
If you would like to buy the Barefoot books featured or browse some of the titles, take a look here and search by age group to find a book suitable for your little one. If it is your first visit to barefoot then please enjoy 20% off your first purchase using code TWENTY12 at the checkout.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Adopt a word

1 in 10 children in the UK have communication difficulties that require specialist help. For me, this was a surprising number and something that I come across via Adopt A Word . Adopt a word is an initiative that supports I Can, a children's communications charity providing practical solutions and support for children and carers. I Can tell is that ' for children with communication problems there is no magic cure, but with the right help. their outcomes can dramatically improve'. I am in no way an expert on children's communication, I simply make sure that I am aware of guidelines as to how my child should be developing and when to raise any concerns I have. It is good to know that there is great support out there for those experiencing difficulties, which is why I wanted to help out by adopting a word. I happened upon the campaign by chance, being a lover of words and books,  and think that it is fantastic.

As an ambassador for Barefoot Books, I have sponsored the word ' barefoot '. As an ambassador for Barefoot I want to spread the love of books and reading to parents and children and an an adopter I am making a small contribution to something that could be so big.

Whilst reading about I can and adopt a word, I came across Talking point , a service for parents and carers that provide information and advice for those worried about communication difficulties. The site is great for new parents as it gives guidlelines of development milestones, that we are all told about in numerous books and health visitors, but what can be lost amidst the madness of bringing up baby. Of course there is always support from health visitors and children's centres, with great groups such as chatterboxes, to help parents and children. Of course it is important not to over think and worry if your baby is not hitting the development milestones as we all know every child is different, some doing things quicker than others and some longer. It is good, however, to familiarise yourself with key indicators for development and to learn how you can help make the most of your child's communication. If you want to help out other children as well as your own that why not adopt a word!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Barefoot Books featuring Babywearing

As an ambassador for Barefoot Books, I am often asked for books that feature breastfeeding, co-sleeping or have a general promotion of attachment style parenting. This week, 8-14th October, is International babywearing week so I thought I would share a few books from Barefoot that have images of women wearing their babies; for you and your little one to enjoy. These books are not specifically about babywearing but feature images that are part of the everyday life of the characters in the book, which is great as it is seen as just normal rather than different.

Bear Takes a trip 2-6 years

Bear and his friend are taking a trip to the mountains. Tell the time with them as they make their way to their destination on many different types of transport and have lots of fun when they get there.

Off we go to Mexico 4-10 years

Travel to Mexico and discover its many wonders, from the amazing monarch butterflies in the Highlands to a mariacho show in the village square. The rhyme and lyricism of the text is complemented by the endnotes about the history of the country, national fiestas, and a glossary of simple Spanish vocabulary.

Mama Panya's pancakes 4-10 years

Glimpse into a Kenyan village with the story of Mama Panya and Adika’s market day and learn an important lesson about community and the rewards of sharing. Includes a helpful map, facts about Kenya, Kiswahili greetings, and even an easy-to-make pancake recipe.

Catch the goat 3-8 years

Chase after a mischievous goat! Ayoka has been left in charge of the family goat — but within minutes the goat has vanished. This Nigerian market tale helps youngsters count from ten to one and uses humour to impart a simple message about responsibility. Includes endnotes about life in Nigeria and Yoruba traditions.

Welcome to the world  all ages

Welcome new babies to the wonderful world with this collection of photographs and poems from many cultures. This unique anthology celebrates the feelings of hope, wonder, surprise, delight and fascination at each new generation of children

If you would like to take a closer look at these books visit the Barefoot site. If if this is your first visit to Barefoot and would like to buy a book, enter TWENTY12 at the checkout to get 20% discount off your first order.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Children's Book week: Poetry Day

This week is Children's Book Week , an annual celebration of reading for pleasure for children of primary school age that has been running for the past 80 years. Read more about children's book week and the great work done by the book trust, read my first post of the week. As it is National Poetry Day this post is all about the wonderful world of verse. Poetry is not all about memorising Coleridge for your GSCE English exam, it is about falling in love with rhyme from an early age and carrying that through to adulthood with lots of words that make us smile, laugh, shout and cry. Poetry is a great way to encourage children to express there thoughts and feelings in a creative way and it can offer a lot of fun on the way. For a cheap and fun way to explore poetry, why not write lots of words on scraps of paper and let your little one make up his/her own poems ( you can wrote one too) then read them out loud. 

If you need a bit of inspiration, here are a few of my favourite poetry books/collections for children 

A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson, illustrated by Brian Wildsmith

This is a beautifully illustrated collection of poem, that you can share with your children from a young age but can be kept for a long time once they can read independently. This collection has a lot of poems about animal, that children love and really feeds on the imagination.

Roald Dahl's Song and Verse

A classic collection of Dahl's weird and wonderful tales told through rhyme and verse, offering a vivid exploration of language and full of wonderful illustrations.

Ted Hughes; A collection of children's poems

This collection brings together the poems ted Hughes wrote for children throughout his life. Some of these poem can be read aloud to the very young and some for children to enjoy my themselves in the quiet of the night, before they go to sleep. Your children will still love these into adulthood;beautiful.

Someone I like, compiled by Judith Nicholls and illustrated by Giobanni Manna

Poems that explore an intimate and absorbing into the people in our lives. The full range of human emotions is explored in sections from poets from my different cultures and backgrounds. A great book to help little ones explore their feelings and thinking.

Don't worry if you think these books are too old for your little one, you can always start with some simple rhyming board books, such as the Bear range from Barefoot or of course the classic nursery rhymes that have rhyme at the heart of the songs. One of my favourite nursery rhyme collections is Lavender Blue's Nursery Rhyme collection, a lovely vintage style book full of the classics, that can be passed on from generation to generation.


To find other ways to enjoy reading, there are lots activities  for parents, teachers and parents that you can download from the book trust site. You can also find great craft and educational activities on the ' our story ' section of  Barefoot. The theme for this years book week is Heroes and Heroines, so there is plenty of fun to be had dressing up and exploring those imaginative little brains.

For any of you who buy a book from my Barefoot site  Don't forget that if you are new to Barefoot enter TWENTY12 at the checkout to get 20% off your purchase.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Children's Book Week

This week is Children's Book Week , an annual celebration of reading for pleasure for children of primary school age that has been running for the past 80 years. During Children’s Book Week, schools, libraries and other venues all over the UK hold events and activities aimed at encouraging children to enjoy reading for pleasure, explore libraries and bookshops, and even start writing themselves. Each year Booktrust ' makes available a range of resources available to teachers and librarians, including fun activity ideas and book recommendations, to help schools and libraries to plan their own celebrations of reading for pleasure.'

'Booktrust is an independent reading and writing charity that makes a nationwide impact on individuals, families and communities, and culture in the UK. They make a significant positive contribution to the educational outcomes of children from the earliest age.The work supports children and young people, parents and carers and indeed anyone who would benefit from the positive impact that books, reading and writing can have on their lives'. Reading is a huge passion of mine, a passion that I have had for as long as I can remember. Getting lost in a book and dreaming of plots and characters takes me to all kinds of wonderful places, where I think everybody should visit. As a new mummy I want my daughter to share in my passion and hope that I can help other children learn to love books through the wonderful world of Barefoot Books. As a lover of books, reading and education I have made a pledge to support book trust by reading, recommending and discussing at least 20 children's books. Take a look at the booktrust site and make your pledge too.

Children's book week is a great way to you start your pledge, either by reading a book with your little one, taking them along to story time and meeting with friends to share favourite stories. To help in your reading fun there are lots activities  for parents, teachers and parents that you can download from the book trust site. You can also find great craft and educational activities on the ' our story ' section of  Barefoot. The theme for this years book week is Heroes and Heroines, so there is plenty of fun to be had dressing up and exploring those imaginative little brains.

For any of you who buy a book from my Barefoot site this week, don't forget that if you are new to Barefoot enter TWENTY12 at the checkout to get 20% off your purchase.

Monday, 1 October 2012

October Book Of The Month; Lin Yi's Lantern

As regular readers know, I am an ambassador for Barefoot Books . Barefoot have lots of amazing books for children and I will be highlighting one as book of the month, that I think you and your little ones would love. For October I have picked a beautiful book that is new to Barefoot this autumn; Lin Yi's Lantern, written by Brenda Williams and illustrated by Benjamin Lacombe. The book is aimed at children aged 5-9 years but, as with a lot of Barefoot books, I think it can be introduced to a younger audience so they can admire the great art work and have a simplified version of the story until it can be enjoyed fully.

Lin Yi is a little boy with a big heart and a talent for bargaining. Tonight is the moon festival and he wants nothing more than a red rabbit lantern; but first he must buy the things his mother needs at the market. This heartwarming story shows the rewards of putting others first, and includes educational notes at the end about the chinese moon festival, life in rural China, and the legend of the moon fairy.

Help your little one learn some of life's little lessons whilst enjoying some brilliantly vivid pictures. At the back of the book you can learn how to make your own chinese lantern, which can also be downloaded from the Barefoot website along with a tasty recipe for ' Moon Fairy Moon cakes ' that Lin  Yi buys at the market.

Take a further look at Barefoot Books and get 20% off your first order using the code TWENTY12 at checkout, including back to school specials. For all books sold in the first week of October I will be donating £1 from each book to The Book Trust, to help celebrate Children's Book Week and help get every child reading.