We’ve recently discovered Holly Tree, a soft play centre just outside Washingborough in Lincoln and I just have to rave about it!
Isla and I have been to a few soft play centres in our area and while she enjoys them, we found that most of them don’t have much in the way of facilities for little ones Isla’s age. But this is where Holly Tree is so brilliant. It not only boasts a multi level play centre for the bigger kids, complete with the obstacle courses and slides, but a baby and toddler room as well with sensory toys and fun.
I went for the first time last week with a friend and her 8 month old and there was plenty to do for both our little ones. Isla especially enjoyed the mini bikes and soft play shapes as well as the 3D puzzles, there was so much to do she didn’t know where to start.
And the food! At every soft play centre we’ve been to we bring our own food because everywhere else mostly does pizza and chips. But Holly Tree has its own baby menu with yogurts, mashed potato, pureed carrot and toast fingers as well as really nice food for us mummies, my friend really enjoyed her jacket potato with roasted vegetables.
It’s also very well priced. I didn’t take any photos at the time but definitely will next time, and there will most definitely be a next time, can’t rate it highly enough!
Weaning was a bit of a minefield for us. Because Isla didn’t get her first teeth until she was 11 months old, her food had to be pureed quite smoothly as she struggled with big lumps since she couldn’t chew very well. Finger foods also had to be soft or easily dissolvable.
I did plenty of reading up on tasty recipes that could be blended to an easy consistency for Isla and found these to be her favourites. I’ve also marked them on how easy they were to make as some recipes I found took an age to prepare!
5. Baby ratatouille by babycentre.co.uk – I tried this one when Isla was about 10 months old and while it took her two tries before she got used to the strong flavours, she gobbled it up and Hubs and I thought it smelled damn good too! It takes a while to cook so not one to make in a hurry, but it’s worth it.
Yummy rating = ****
Easy cooking = ***
4. Cheesy vegetable medley by Heinz Baby – there are many things in life Isla loves, and cheese and vegetables are in the top of the list. So this recipe went down a treat. She’s moving on to more hearty meals but this was a great recipe for the early days of weaning.
Yummy rating: *****
Easy cooking: ****
3. Fish with peas by Cow & Gate – Aside from the slightly fishy smell left in the kitch after cooking, this one is a firm favourite with both us and Isla. Easy pea-sy (sorry) to make and a great place to start when introducing little ones to fish. Isla now eats all fish and loves them. Also as a side note, we found Cow & Gate’s 5 Step Weaning Plan was brilliant. I’d been a bit daunted by the idea of getting Isla to try solids and had no idea where to start, but this guide spelled it out in plain English and it was dead easy to do. I’d highly recommend it to other first time mums, thanks C&G!
Yummy rating: ***
Easy cooking: *****
2. Savoury chicken casserole by babycentre.co.uk – This one is really good if you want to eat the same meal and at the same time as your baby. The chicken casserole is so tasty and filling, super healthy and most importantly Isla loves it. Takes a while to cook so this is one to prepare early doors.
Yummy rating: *****
Easy cooking: ***
1. Tomato and butternut squash pasta by Annabel Karmel – Where do I start? I love love love this one! So simple to make, smells incredible (a welcome change as many baby foods look and smell revolting!) and oh so sophisticated. Have to admit, when I’m standing at the cooker sautéing the tomatoes I feel like a SuperMum, look at me cooking posh meals for my baby, eff you Mumzillas!! And most importantly, Isla gobbled it up at the first go and after three months, is very much the firm favourite. I now cook twice the amount and freeze about 6 portions at a time. I’m gradually working my way through Annabel Karmel’s website as there is such a variety of recipes.
Yummy rating: *****
Easy cooking: *****
So far in our baby journey, we’ve come across some minor struggles, such as getting Isla to sleep in her Moses basket when she was first born and Hubs definitely struggled with very explosive poonamis in the early days, but the biggest struggle we had was getting Isla to take a bottle.
We made the decision before she was born that I would breastfeed her, luckily something that we had no problems with and I’ve never regretted (even when she’s had a growth spurt and has fed every hour through the night!), and that we’d give her a bottle of expressed every now and then so Hubs can be more involved and to give me a break.
Easier said than done.
As mentioned in a previous post, we followed advice in my baby books that said to avoid offering a breastfed baby a bottle until at least 3 weeks of age to avoid “nipple confusion” and up until she was 4 months old, we could count on one hand the amount of bottles Isla had accepted. Hubs managed to get about 2oz into her on one occasion, and both my stepmum and mother in law had a successful attempt each, but that’s it. Isla refused so many bottles I dread to think how many ounces of breast milk have had to be tipped away. We bought her all kinds of different brands and teats but to no avail.
This was starting to get me down as I envisioned all sorts of problems when we come to wean her, plus up until that point I’d only been able to leave Isla with Hubs twice so I can have a break and it was only for 3 hours max in between her feeds, and when I got home she was hungry and screaming from his attempts to bottle feed her.
That was until we discovered Minbie bottles.
I spotted this brand on Facebook and the reviews were excellent. The trick is the special teat which offers a variety of flows (we’ve got the 3 flow which is recommended for combining breast and bottle feeds) and is so similar to a nipple there’s no confusion. The photo in the post was taken the very first time I offered Isla this bottle, she guzzled 4oz straight away with no tears, no struggling, no moaning! I was so impressed. The Minbie bottles didn’t confuse her either so she switched from my breast to the bottle and back seemlessly.
I stopped breastfeeding when Isla was 6 months old and I swear she didn’t even notice when she was given bottles daily instead of the breast, and I firmly believe that Minbie is the reason the transfer was so easy.
I can’t rate the Minbie bottles highly enough for breastfeeding mums who want to offer their babies a bottle.