Baby sweet potato pancakes

Now that my little man is 8 months old, we’re venturing into the world of finger food. More accurately, he is dragging us into it by insisting that the only way he’ll eat is if he can do it himself. Sadly, he’s not actually able to do it himself yet, so we’ve had to find some middle ground. This might be a few pieces of shredded cheese or some homemade baby puffs, or it might be pieces of anything else that’s soft enough for him to mash up but big enough to keep his hands busy. 

My son is a very food motivated child, to the point where no-one else can eat in front of him without him screaming because he wants to eat too. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him do such a sad face as the day we went out to eat at a local diner and he saw a little boy running around with a pancake in each hand. Cue my quest to make baby safe pancakes! 

When I first tried this recipe, he wasn’t able to eat wheat yet, and he still can’t have whole eggs. I have an oat pancake recipe that I love, so I started with that and tried to work out how to make it baby friendly. It turns out, baby pancakes really don’t need much at all. In fact, I make them with just 2 ingredients – ground oats and sweet potato! You could probably do this with any fruit or veggie puree you wanted, you just might need to adjust the quantity of oats depending on the water content. 

For each ounce of sweet potato, I mix in 1 tbsp of ground oats. If you cook it in a non stick pan, you also don’t need any oil. Just spread the mixture in small rounds, about the thickness of a quarter. Cook over a low – medium heat for a few minutes. Once they start to look like they’ve dried out on the top, they’re ready to flip. Cook for another couple of minutes and there you have it – nutritious, baby-safe pancakes! If you keep these in the fridge they’ll be fine for over a week, I just warm them for a few seconds in the microwave when it’s pancake time. 

I hope you and your little one enjoy these, and if you make them with something other than sweet potato, I’d love to hear how they come out! 



Introvert parenting – what I’ve learned in 6 months

As I sit here enjoying the brief respite that nap time brings, along with my very large coffee and homemade breakfast biscuits (stay tuned, recipe to come!), I am reflecting on the first 6 months of my journey into parenting.  More specifically, parenting as an introvert.

I feel that being an introvert is something that’s often misunderstood, and so becomes almost a dirty word.  People think that it means that you’re anti-social, or that you don’t like people, and that isn’t true at all.  I love my friends and family, and have had some of my best times over the last few years since we started “girls’ nights”, where we can all gather over food and wine, and just enjoy each other’s company.  What introversion really means to me is all about how we recharge.  Extroverts are energized by other people, whereas introverts recharge by being alone.

Personally, I’m a really strong introvert.  I need that alone time.  And not need like “I’ll be a bit cranky if I don’t get it”, but need like crying and screaming in the corner pulling my hair out need.  For me, this has been the biggest challenge of parenting.  Simply being needed that much is exhausting and draining for me.  When the baby doesn’t need me, the cat’s meowing because she wants attention, or my husband needs something, or housework needs to be done, or I’m working where 30 other people need me.  Some days it’s hard to find time just to breathe, especially when I’m making a choice between breakfast or a shower, lunch or cleaning the kitchen so I can make dinner…

Don’t get me wrong, my husband does help.  But his upbringing was different to mine, and so we do things very differently.  I don’t feel like cooking dinner but I do it because we have food in the fridge and I want to save money.  He doesn’t feel like cooking so he orders take out.  I’m not saying either is better, it’s just different.  And when you’re running on very low reserves, different can be frustrating too.  And then of course, there’s the mommy guilt.  The little voice that tells you what you should be doing instead of sitting on the couch with a cup of coffee, that tells you that you’re a bad mother for wanting time away from the baby.

If any of this sounds familiar, I feel for you, I really do.  Parenting is hard, and parenting as an introvert brings its own list of very specific challenges that other people just may not get.  And so I wanted to share a few of the conclusions that I’ve come to over the last 6 months.

1. You’re not alone

Introverts make up 25-50% of the population, so you’re not the only person dealing with this.  Of course, you may not wish to reach out to those people, and they may prefer to be in their own bubble for a while too!  But just knowing that I’m not abnormal has helped.

2. It’s OK to need what you need

I was racked with guilt about wanting time away from my family.  Here I was with a great husband and a beautiful, healthy, happy baby boy, and I just wanted to leave them at home and go somewhere else.  Anywhere else.  What I had to accept is that while being a parent changes your priorities, it doesn’t change your fundamental personality.  If you needed a certain amount of alone time to recharge before you had kids, you’ll still need it after you have them.  That’s just a part of who you are, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  The worst thing you can do is to completely ignore what you need.  You can’t take care of anyone if you’re running on empty.

3. It doesn’t make you a bad parent

Mommy guilt is real.  Whether it’s because you use disposable diapers, feed your baby formula, put them in daycare while you’re at work, let them watch TV or eat junk food, or simply because you need a break from them for a couple of hours, there always seems to be something that someone says we should be doing better.  In fact, apparently 94% of parents struggle with guilt over their parenting choices.  The truth of the matter is that no-one is perfect, and it just isn’t possible to have and do everything.  You simply can’t work full time and be at home with the baby full time and do all of the housework and have a healthy homemade dinner on the table at 6 every day and have perfect make-up and hair and workout and and and….  At least, I don’t see how, and I certainly wouldn’t be sane if that was my life.  I feel very privileged that I don’t have to work full time and am able to be at home with my baby during the day.  But I work in the evenings, so I sacrifice time with my husband.  And there are days that I have to choose between having a shower and eating breakfast, so typically I choose to eat, because I’m nursing a baby and need the calories.  So maybe on those days, I spend a few hours with my hair smelling of baby vomit that got spat up into it at 6:30 am.  Choice and sacrifice is part of the deal of being an adult, and it doesn’t make you a bad parent or mean that you don’t love your child.  In fact, it makes you a great parent, because you’re doing what needs to be done, and that includes taking care of yourself on a level that other people can’t help with.  So if you need a night out with the girls and a couple of glasses of wine (a.k.a. Mommy juice!), that’s OK.  And if you need to leave the baby at home with Daddy for a couple of hours while you go to a yoga class, go to the gym, get your haircut, get a manicure, or just go to starbucks or the park and read a book, that’s OK too.  I can’t speak for everyone, but my husband actually likes having extra time with the baby, because he really only gets an hour a day with him otherwise, so you might actually be doing everyone a favor if you take a few hours for yourself.  Doing what’s right for you (at least sometimes) is what’s right for your family.

4. Tell your partner/support person

One of the hardest parts of this for me was to tell my husband that this was what I needed, and a lot of that comes back to the Mommy guilt and the feeling that I should be able to do everything and should be doing it better.  But once I told him we were able to make a plan so that it doesn’t get out of hand.  On Saturday mornings, I leave my husband and baby at home with a bottle of expressed milk in the fridge, and I go to a yoga class with one of my favorite instructors.  Sometimes I’ll come straight home so that I can watch the English Premier League football afterwards (I will still leave my husband to take care of the baby during this), and sometimes I’ll go to a coffee shop where I’ll buy myself a snack and a coffee and I’ll sit in the sun and read a book.  Yep – I’ll spend money on myself, and I’ll be by myself for an hour or more, doing something that outwardly achieves nothing.  And you know what?  It’s great, and I don’t feel guilty for doing it anymore, because I know that inwardly what it achieves is keeping me sane, and that’s vital for me and for my family.  My husband now knows that he needs to be at home and completely available on a Saturday morning.  And if your partner isn’t available, ask someone else to watch the baby.  Something I’ve learned from my friends is that everyone wants to play with the baby for a couple of hours.  So remind yourself that it’s OK to let them!

I hope something in there helps you if this is something you’re working through.  And if you have any other tips or advice for introvert parents, I’d love to hear them!

Bandanna bib

Finally, after all of the chaos of last week, I’m able to get back to some of my (far too) many ongoing projects.  If you’ve read some of my other posts, you’ll know that I currently have a drool monster living in my house!  Since he got more mobile and is rolling everywhere, he has also become something of a spit up monster.  In the hope of keeping at least some of his clothes clean, I wanted to put bibs on him all the time, instead of just for meal time (homemade baby food posts to follow – stay tuned!).  But, the bibs that we have, while cute enough and certainly functional, cover up the cute outfits that I so diligently choose several times a day.  Cue my search for bandanna bibs.  These tend to be smaller than regular bibs, so they’re great for drool (although not so much for food-related messes), and can be more a part of the outfit than a cover for it.  And you know what I found?  Man, are those things expensive for what they are.  I mean, seriously, a small piece of flannel and cotton for $4 each?!  Are you kidding?!

With this is mind, and armed with coupons, off we went to Joann fabrics and crafts after church on Sunday.  I had planned to get a couple of flannel fat quarters and a couple of cotton fat quarters and start from there.  What I actually ended up with was a small bundle of each (reduced from $9.99 to $5.99 each).

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OK, the polka dots may not be the most masculine of prints, but it’s going to be drooled on by a baby who hasn’t yet been introduced to the concept of masculinity.  I think we’ll get away with it.

I should say at this point that I am definitely not meant to be a seamstress.  Sewing always seems like it should be so easy, but for some reason I seem to create a multitude of problems with tension, threads catching or breaking, or just not even getting the stitches straight.  So if I can make these, you can!

For these you’ll want one piece of cotton and one piece of flannel.  Actually, it doesn’t really matter what fabric you use, as long as at least one of them is absorbent.  Once you have your fabric, you want to start with squares.  Or at least, roughly squares.  I measured 12 inches down each side of the fabric, folded it intro a triangle and cut around it.  If you want the pattern in a specific orientation when the bib is finished, you may have to rotate your fabric, since the diagonal between 2 corners will end up being the top of the bib.  One square will make 2 pieces, so you can just use one square if you want the same pattern front and back, or you can use it to make 2 bibs so that you can replace the first one when it’s been soaked through!  Keeping your “square” folded into a triangle, fold it in half again so that you can find the middle of the long side.  Either mark or make a small cut here (you won’t be keeping this piece, so don’t worry about making a hole in it). Unfold back to the first triangle, and measure 1 inch down from the middle point that you just marked or cut.  Draw a straight line from this point to each corner and cut, leaving 2 pieces that are roughly triangular with a shallow v on the long side.

Pin the pieces with the right sides facing each other and cut around an inch off of the top corners to make it less bulky when you turn it.  Sew with a 1/4 inch seam allowance, making sure you leave a hole to turn it the right way afterwards.  Where you leave the hole is up to you.  Personally, I find the finish a little neater if I leave one of the ends open, but it is definitely harder to turn.  You may also want to cut a small notch into the point at the bottom (being careful not to cut the seam), just to remove some of the excess fabric.

Once your bib is the right way round, press it to neaten the seams.  Of course, you don’t have to do this.  If I’m rushing because I don’t have much nap time left to work with, I’ll skip this step.  If I was making this for someone else, I would definitely do it.  Pin the hole closed, and top stitch all the way around  Finish up the ends, sew on a snap and you’re all done!

The only thing left to do is wrangle it onto the drool monster!

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Since the fabric was reduced and I got 40% off the snaps, I managed to make 8 of these for about $14.  There are no specific fabrics that you need to use for these – you could upcycle an old towel or t-shirt, or dig through the bargain bins at the store.  The only hard and fast rule is to make sure those snaps are on nice and tight so that they don’t become a choking hazard.

If you want a printable pattern instead of measuring, folding and cutting, please let me know and I’ll make one.  If you make some of these, I’d love to see the results!

Hyperbolic crochet ball

If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you’ll know that my pregnancy prompted an almost obsessive desire for crafting baby things.  This was, of course, accompanied by an almost obsessive amount of reading up on things that would help my son developmentally.  I was wanting to make all kinds of baby toys, and I saw many many posts of balls.  Great, I thought.  I can make those and stuff them.  But, it also occurred to me that it would be a while before he would be able to hold spherical objects, and would probably just end up accidentally throwing them across the floor, much to everyone’s annoyance.  This is when I came across the concept of hyperbolic crochet.  Despite it’s somewhat intimidating name, this is actually really really simple.  It just involves doubling the number of stitches per round.  (Being a nerd, I feel like exponential crochet would be a more apt name, but what can you do?!).  The simplicity of it makes this a great project for anyone, regardless of crochet skill level.  So, armed with a nice bright color yarn and the recommended size crochet hook, I dove right in.

What you’ll need:

Yarn (your choice of color) – for the best contrast, go with white and edge it in black, otherwise just go for something bright and colorful.

Crochet hook – since my yarn was a size 3 (light weight), I used a 3.5mm hook, but you can adjust this to suit your needs.  If you wanted a small ball, go with thread and a small hook, for a bigger one, chunky yarn and a bigger hook.

Stitch marker (optional) – I worked the ball in spirals rather than joining at the end of each round, so a stitch marker was helpful.  If you choose to join at the end of each round, you can get by without one.  If you don’t want to buy special stitch markers, a paperclip works very well.

To make a hyperbolic ball:

Round 1: chain 6, join to the first chain with a slip stitch

Round 2: sc in each chain around (6 sc)

Round 3: 2 sc in each stitch around (12 sc)

Round 4: 2 sc in each stitch around (24 sc)

Repeat this process of 2 stitches in each one until you have a ball of the size you want.  Mine was about 9 rounds in total.  Finish with a round of 1 sc in each stitch (using a contrasting color if wanted), fasten off and weave in the ends.  Don’t worry about making it fold – it’ll do that all by itself, leaving you with a great texture covered in folds that are perfect for tiny hands to grab on to.  If you make this for your little one, I’d love to know what they think of it!  I had to wait until mine was asleep to take a picture of it, seeing as he rarely puts it down!

 

Homemade baby wipes

Welcome to homemade mama! Please join me on my journey as a mama who loves to make things herself, from baby wipes to family meals and everything in between.

Welcome to homemade mama!

As the name suggests, I’m a mama who’s basically obsessed with homemade stuff!  This site is where I will post my favorite tips, instructions, recipes and basically anything related to things that I love to make.

I always loved making things myself, but since I got pregnant with my son, it has really become something of an obsession for me.  Where most women seemed to get their “nesting” drive to deep clean the house and organize baby clothes, the only thing I wanted to do was make things for the baby.  Literally, day and night, I would think about things to sew and crochet, and the two weeks before I went in to labor was almost entirely spent on baking and preparing slow cooker meals until we couldn’t fit one more thing in the freezer!

I’ll be honest, a big part of my inclination towards homemade products is to save money. Pre-made stuff can get so expensive, that I often wonder how much I could save if I did it myself.  The rest of it was inspired by my parents.  Even as a child I loved baking with my Mum – not the cake in a box style (not that there’s anything wrong with that if it works for you), but what I consider to be real baking, from flour, eggs, butter etc.  She would knit sweaters for me and my sister, sew things for us, and even my Dad, who worked crazy hours, would find time to build things for us.  As a child I sometimes wondered why you would do that when you could just buy things, but now I really appreciate the love and care that went in to everything that my parents did for us.

I know that diaper rash is a pretty common occurrence with babies, but the day that my son started to get it, I started wondering whether we could use something other than those expensive store bought wipes to get the job done.  Looking around the internet, I found a lot of tutorials for homemade wipes using tolls of paper towels, and while that was a huge step in the right direction for me, I wanted something reusable.  At bath time one day, I realized that we had a drawer absolutely full of washcloths, and since he was only having a bath 3 times a week (at most), we probably didn’t need that many.  And so began our journey into the world of homemade, reusable baby wipes…

For the liquid, I figured we really needed very few components – something to clean his skin, something to moisturize his skin, and something to make it smell good (especially given the end of the baby we’re putting it on!).  At one of our baby showers we were given a huge amount of Johnson and Johnson baby bath products, including the bedtime bath soap.  Hmm… stuff for cleaning the baby…!  It’s also lavender and chamomile scented, so that kills 2 birds with one stone!  If you were specifically looking for something to reduce the number of chemicals you use on your little one, castile soap would be the way to go, with essential oils to add some fragrance and some additional benefits like lavender to reduce skin irritation (see where we’re going here?!).  Just make sure if you add essential oils to really dilute them for use on babies (1-2 drops per tbsp carrier oil).  For the moisturizing aspect, my favorite product without a doubt is coconut oil (I actually like it so much that it also forms the base of my all purpose baby balm and homemade baby lotion, but those are posts for another day), and I also decided to add some aloe vera for some added skin care.  3 ingredients = happy mama!  I added these to boiled water while it was cooling but still warm enough to melt the coconut oil, let it cool, and then poured it over a stack of pre-folded washcloths inside of our wipes dispensing box that we had on our baby registry.  I kid you not, he hasn’t had a hint of diaper rash since I started using this mixture, and we obviously haven’t had to buy a pack of wipes again!  Since pre-soaked wipes would be likely to dry out in the diaper bag, I keep a few dry cloths in there with a small spray bottle containing at most 1/4 cup of the mixture.  It just needs a quick shake before use, and then I spray it directly onto my son’s skin (you could spray the cloth if you prefer).  The portable box I have for the wipes is one that was given to me by a friend, but it’s so beautiful that I’ll post a tutorial soon for you to make one yourself.

Here’s my homemade wipe recipe:

1 cup cooling boiled water

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 tbsp baby bath soap (or other soap of choice)

1/2 – 1 tsp aloe vera gel

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This quantity is enough for 25 – 30 washcloths without leaving them dripping wet.  Once we figured out that this was definitely going to work for us, I stocked up on extra washcloths with some from our local dollar store – they come in boxes of 4 for $1!  If you’re concerned about using cheap ones, we also really love the bamboo ones that we were given.  The washcloths are folded so that they pop up in the dispenser.  To do that, lay one on your surface and lay the next one on top so that they overlap by half.  Fold the bottom one over the top one, then add another one on the same side as the first one, again overlapped by half.  Continue this process until you have a stack of your required size.

The main issue I foresaw with this was washing them – would we be doing it every day, would they all end up stained bright orange (as baby poop tends to be)…?  Our solution to this is a very simple one – cold water and baking soda.  I keep a bowl of this next to the changing table, and just dropped the used wipes in it.  Then once the box is almost empty, I wash them by hand.  I know it sounds gross, since they’re actually used for wiping up poop, but the baking soda handles pretty much everything.  I just use hot water and some soap, and voila!  Clean washcloths that don’t look like they’ve been anywhere near baby poop!  Since we live in an apartment and don’t have the means to dry them outside, I hang them to dry in the bathroom on this wonderful octopus looking thing that I got from ikea!  And then we start the process all over again.  And again, and again, and again!

If you try these, let me know what you think!