Baby Friendly London, and tourist adventures! This is also relevant to the wellbeing and mental health page where I discuss various activity ideas for fun times but also to reduce cabin fever and increase mood. Be a tourist in your own town, or actually go somewhere and be a tourist, with or without baby.
Anyway – here’s some things the Little Lovely got up as a Tourist, Baby.
Kensington Palace, London, England, UK – Website here
Age when visited: 7 months, 1 week
Nearest stations: How to find Kensington Palace information here. It’s a bit of a walk from the tube stations but those around the palace are: High Street Kensington, Queensway or Notting Hill Gate. These stations are NOT step free, so might be difficult with a buggy. Nearest National Rail station: London Paddington (further away than the tubes, though).
Nearby attractions: Hyde park and The Serpentine Gallery are “behind” Kensington Palace Gardens. You’re also not that far from the museums (15-20 minute walk): The Science Museum, Natural History Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum (art & design) and The Royal Albert Hall (not a museum; concerts). Really, in tourist town, and beware these venues get crowded especially at peak times.
What is there to do?
Well, in honour of Price George of Cambridge’s first birthday (2014) we went to the Palace (Kate and Wills have an apartment here)! Well actually, it wasn’t in honour of his birthday, we were just going anyway but when we got there we saw some birthday banners and balloons up for him, as you can see in the pictures above of the Little Lovely outside the Palace gates.
Princess Diana’s Dresses: Look back at fashion as worn by HM The Queen, Princess Margaret and Diana, Princess of Wales.
Queen Victoria: Learn about her life and see what kind of toys they had in the nursery! We played with some of them (not the originals, I assume – see picture). I got told off for sitting on the carpet with no shoes on, though. So keep your shoes on. I’ll assume the baby was fine to go shoeless.
Other: Explore the gardens and Orangery – Works of art – the Queen’s State Apartments and King’s State Apartments. There is also a shop.
The pictures below are of the main entrance room, with LL posing under a picture of Princess Diana, then in the royal nursery playing with some toys, in another room in the palace, and then spark out and tired at the end of a busy day as a tourist, baby.
There is a cafe in the Orangery and Palace. I went to the Palace cafe and there are highchairs and kid’s meals available, such as children’s sandwich bags. If you want to bring your own food or do a picnic in the park the nearest shops are a bit of a walk away, and the cafe has tourist cafe prices, so stop off at the shops on the way if you prefer this cheaper option!
Baby and Toddler facilities:
There are changing facilities available. I don’t think there were any specific feeding or breastfeeding areas but a friend and I fed in the entrance area on some comfy seats and no one cared.
Accessibility for prams and those less able to use stairs:
There are lifts to most areas. Staff were very helpful and led me through a step-free route to view the fashion and Princess Diana’s dresses with my pram. I don’t know if this was a temporary arrangement or if this route is usually accessible without staff assistance. But either way, the staff were helpful and you could always ask if unsure. The website also writes that:
There is level access from Kensington Gardens to the palace, a lift to all floors and wheelchairs and portable seating to borrow during your visit. We also offer Describer Tours for blind and partially sighted visitors as well as facilitating British Sign Language tours.
In all, a reasonably baby friendly day out, and there’s the gardens/park to explore as well!
Yes that’s right! We’re expecting again. I won’t go into too much detail but it’s not too far away… I’m into the 30s. I’m at the point where i’m needing to sit up in bed to sleep, again, thanks reflux.
I’m a bit slowed down compared to usual and notice that I can’t walk as fast as I used to. I remember this the last time. Oddly, I haven’t put on as much weight as the first time round, but then I came into this pregnancy heavier on account of not having lost all the weight from the first time (that takes more than a year, right?!).
I have various disillusioned and delusional ideas about how things might go this time round, for example, this child will sleep well and won’t mind me putting them down whilst I chase a toddler around/take care of toddler/feed toddler etc. They won’t cry at all, unlike the first one, and need holding constantly, need to sleep in our bed, appear allergic to their cot, Moses basket, anything really that is not us? Also, toddler won’t mind, toddler will get used to new baby very soon, I won’t be more tired that I thought possible, no matter how tired I thought I was the first time round, it’s certainly not at all going to be more difficult?!
Already getting people stopping me in the street asking when i’m due (note to self, I must look fat/huge/add other i’m really obviously pregnant term here). Someone at work I don’t know at all touched my tummy yesterday…
On the plus side, people are actually getting up on the tube, on a few occasions, without me having to ask for a seat! However, on the bus, a different story, people still staring at me in silence when I ask if they mind if I sit down in ONE OF THE TWO ONLY DARNED SEATS AVAILABLE NEXT TO THE BUGGY AREA – COME ON PEOPLE…. ok rant over. But seriously, there are only 2 seats on the whole bus I can sit on, they are the seats in front of the two small spots where I can park my 19 month old child in his buggy. Maybe you could MOVE ANYWHERE ELSE ON THE BUS – oh and these two seats are almost always labelled as priority seats so yes, I am actually entitled to ask to sit there. See my rant here on priority seat hoggers and how pregnant/disabled/less able to stand people really love the additional stress of having to justify themselves for a seat or deal with hogs. Rant really over. Apart from the man a few weeks ago who thought I should get off the bus, despite standing next to my buggy, obviously pregnant, so that he could put some inanimate item there (luggage). He said he didn’t see I was pregnant. Oh and the woman who was extremely concerned that my toddler was touching on her straggly rose plants, but not enough to get up and offer her seat to me. I got called a “princess” for daring to comment on that. Oohhh well. Time for a car maybe?
Anyway, on a more happy note, now is apparently the right time to finish everything around the house like decorating and doing minor building work (yes, really). So hopefully everything will be all new and pretty for when the time comes.
I’m going to have to get onto Pinterest and search again for all the pregnancy, newborn and beyond articles, because I haven’t looked at them for some time!
Simple Bottle Shaker!
We made this simple sensory DIY toy when my Little Lovely was about 8.5 months old, inspired by the home-made sensory bottles I often came across at baby classes:
This was a quick, simple and cheap way to provide baby with something novel and stimulating!
Wash and dry a used drink bottle
Fill with something that will make a noise when shaken – we used tapioca and dried lentils
I fitted the lid back on tightly. You can’t see that well from the picture but the lid is quite big and so hopefully is not a swallowing risk.
age: LL was about 8.5 months when we did this but we have also used a bottle shaker when he was a bit younger and i’m sure it will amuse him in the future.
Here’s the Little Lovely enjoying his new toy. He enjoyed shaking and bashing it about, and was quite curious about it, as he usually is with new things!
A few safety issues: This activity was supervised. The lid is fitted on very tightly so LL will not be able to get it off, chew on it, spill or eat the contents of the bottle, please be careful and decide what, if any, fillings and bottles will be appropriate and safe for your child. Always supervise baby with any activities posted on this blog.
3 parenting “fails” I feel slightly socially judged and guilty about – but also don’t really care!
OK, so there are some things I do that I feel a bit guilty about. I’m waiting for the cognitive dissonance to kick in. I don’t even know if “others” do judge it, or if it’s just in my mind about what’s “bad”. Wonder where I got these views from? Anyway, here’s some things I do that I wonder about (but don’t really think it’s a “fail” – I just wrote that for attention)
1. Watching television
My child is 18 months old. He was never interested in television in the past but has been able to watch it in the last few months. I can’t remember exactly when this started but when I realised he could be mesmerized by the television and distracted for a few moments it was brilliant (I won’t lie, after giving all my waking time to another, small, person for the previous 12-15 months, this was good). He likes a few programmes such as The Clangers, and In The Night Garden. We don’t watch television that much. Sometimes, it’s at 6am, which is when he likes to wake up, and I’m not awake at all. It’s usually in the evening just after bath and before bed to relax him and so that I can get things ready for bed. It’s sometimes after we’ve been out all day and I need to sit down for a bit and he’ll be occupied.
Interactive television watching is probably better – if I want to feel less guilty I attempt to have a conversation around the programme, asking questions such as what colour is that, or what do you think is going to happen, etc. But also, just sitting together and spending time watching and modelling emotions and expressions can’t be a bad thing, right?
2. Giving food to placate or stave off further tantrums/crying/grumpiness
So we’re on the busy bus, hot, cold, whatever, busy, screaming, child trying to get out of his buggy straps ALL the time (a recent thing), or he’s tired but refuses to go to sleep. Have a biscuit. Peace for a few moments. I stop feeling the annoyance of all the other bus passengers.
3. Eating in McDonald’s?
This is a new thing. I realised they give you balloons, they have free crayons and paper, good highchairs (on wheels!) and sometimes offer to carry my tray while I push the pram to the table. Plus, I like chips (fries) and milkshakes. Don’t worry… he only has a few chips (*gasp*) and then I give him separate food like fruit, a child friendly sandwich etc. And they don’t seem to mind me bringing him in his own food. We also explored the feel and coldness of ice from my drink last time we were there (picture).
So… not really fails, but I don’t feel 100% comfortable with them. But sometimes, they are convenient, and this is probably normal.
We are one and a half years old! Time has gone quickly; it doesn’t seem like that long ago I was planning his little first birthday get together.
What have we noticed? Well in the last few weeks he’s:
Been using more than one word at a time and
Making small sentences.
For example, he might say “off the bus”, or “kiss owl” (kiss his toy owl).
He can also repeat short sentences and strings of 2 or 3 words that I say to him, although I don’t know how much he understands as it’s only repetition and not generated by himself in context. But, that said, this seems different because recently he’d only say one word at a time.
Typical developments at 18-24 months:
This timeline of typical development from birth to five years old from the NHS outlines skills and milestones at different ages. There’s also this PDF from the Zero to Three website on child development at 18-24 months, what your toddler can do and how to support emerging skills.
Apparently it’s typical at 1.5-2 years old for children to start to put at least 2 words together.
At this age toddlers will also learn to kick or throw a ball.
That’s great because we’ve signed up for football classes and have been going for a few months. Initially he wasn’t kicking the ball but was picking it up and putting it in the goal (at least he understood the concept). But more recently he has been able to kick the ball, plus we’ve been out with the ball at the weekends too, which I think has helped because of the added practice of those motor and coordinator skills.
From 1.5 to 4 years children start to develop bladder control
We bought a potty but haven’t started any potty training yet. For a month or even two now he’s been able to tell us when he’s done a poo which I assume means that he is more aware of his bodily functions and can communicate that. My plan is to buy a story book about using a potty to start to introduce the concept to him. I don’t know if he can tell us in advance yet that he needs to do a poo. We haven’t discussed that with him but I suppose I could start talking with him about “tell me if you need to do a poo”, or something, and reinforcing or rewarding if he says something.
Zero to Three write that
at 18-24 months toddlers are starting to use their imagination, e.g. feeding a toy pretend food, making car noises when playing with cars
I’ve definiately noticed this. The Little Lovely has “fed” his milk to some of his toys before. Not sure we’ve heard car noises though. Extend on these skills by pretend and imaginative play!
I’ve noticed increased “obstinate” behaviour!!
OK, not a fair way of putting it, but what I mean is that when I ask LL not to do something, he pauses and does it anyway, like “drop” his food on the floor (he throws it sometimes, but then looks up and says “dropped”), or touch on the television screen. I repeatedly ask him not to do it and issue a consequence like turning the television off (*gasp*, yes, we watch some television) and asking him to pick up the food off the floor and put it in the bin (which he does). But he still repeats the same behaviour.
Apparently at this young age he might understand what i’m saying, but not have the self control to do much about it (according to the Zero to Three handout on 18-24 month old development). And this is a skill that can take some time to develop. I guess I’ll have to remain consistent, firm, and give clear instruction and consequence anyway.
For other areas of development at 18-24 months (and from prenatal to 36 months old) see this brilliant “baby brain map”, (zero to three) that outlines different areas that are developing in the brain (e.g. social and emotional) at this time.
This is a Monster “feed me” slot game, using bottle tops and an old plastic food pot
Another DIY, “junk” toy we made and had fun with!
Great for imagination
Developing fine motor skills with baby and toddlers
What I used:
An old plastic container with a lid (old raisin pot)
Colour pens and stickers for decoration
Lids from old milk jugs and other plastic bottles
1) Take plastic container
2) Cut a slot in the top
3) I covered the edges of the slot with masking tape to ensure any sharp edges were covered up. The tape also made it easier to draw a mouth on
4) I cut up some old stickers to use as eyes (or use any baby-safe decoration/feature you like)
5) No picture for this but I coloured in some details on the eyes and drew teeth around the slot. I was going to do scary eyes and sharp pointy teeth but then decided maybe that was a bit too scary so toned it down a bit
6) Et voilà! He is done – a “monster” lid eater. I decided not to decorate the rest of the pot but I might put some coloured card around the edge, draw some hands on, stick feet on etc in the future
And here’s some pictures of my Little Lovely playing with the Monster Pot. He was 17 months here but he’s enjoyed slotting and sorting things for several months now and has had the motor skills to do it, so this activity might be suitable for babies and toddlers younger and older than this. We don’t know colours yet (we’re starting to learn) but we could extend the game in the future by asking baby to post certain colour lids.
Experimenting with what else he can do with the pot: what’s inside, what does it taste like and, can I wear it as a hat?
Safety first: This activity was supervised. Please be mindful of sharp edges, choking risks with small parts and materials used to decorate the pot. Please decide based on your own baby and stage of development as to what might be appropriate for them.
16.5 months – we are copying a lot more words. Yesterday he learnt to say “cheese”, and “ring”. He can copy quite a few words now and use them appropriately. For example, today he went to the fridge, found the cheese and asked for cheese.
He doesn’t always pronounce everything “right” though. I’ve also noticed him trying to “talk” by saying nonsense words, with the odd real word in there like “bus”, usually relating to something we’ve just been playing with or is in front of him (e.g. toy bus).
What should I expect of baby talk?
The NHS has a nice page here on helping your child’s speech.
Verbal communication and all those other related skills (non-verbal, facial expression, gesture, words, etc) are SKILLS. Babies and infants need to understand communication and words before they can learn to use these skills themselves. How can you teach and build these vital skills with infants? The site above writes:
You can help your child learn by holding them close, making eye contact and talking to them as soon as they’re born.
They will look back at you and very soon begin to understand how conversations work.
Even making ‘baby noises’ will teach your baby useful lessons about listening, the importance of words and taking turns in a conversation.
When baby gets a bit older and starts to notice and take interest in their surroundings:
Start naming and pointing at things that you can both see (‘Look, a cat!’). This will help your baby learn words and, in time, they’ll start to copy you.”
Putting words together:
We haven’t started this yet, but apparently it doesn’t happen until around age 2, when toddler can say around 100 words.
Other baby talk tips:
From day one – asking questions such as, “are you hungry?” or “would you like some milk?”
When you’re out with baby or around the house – pointing out objects and saying things such as “look, there’s a dog!”
If baby can partly say a word, e.g. “poon” (spoon), then repeat the word in it’s correct form – “yes, spoon”, rather than copy baby so that they can hear the full pronunciation
Give baby choices and questions to increase their vocabulary such as “would you like a strawberry yoghurt or an apple”
Concerns about your child’s speech?
This website, Talking Point, has a lot of information about children’s communication, broken down into ages and stages from 0 to 17 years old, such as this page here about development at 12-18 months.
They also have “progress checkers“, such as the one here for 12 month olds, and one for 18 months old (other ages available), that asks a series of questions about what baby can do.
- For the progress checker please note they write that: “This Progress Checker has been written by speech and language therapists, based on typical developmental milestones – It is intended to be used as a guide only. No diagnosis can be made as children are not seen face to face – It is possible that concerns may be highlighted when there are not issues with children’s speech and language. If in doubt, check with a health visitor or speech and language therapist – If your child has just had a birthday, you might want to look at the age-group younger than them. Similarly, if your child is coming up to a birthday, you might want to check the age-group older than them.