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If you’ve got a baby or toddler with eczema – have you ever thought about what toys are best for them? It might not have crossed your mind. But some toys are better for babies with eczema than others.

What is eczema?

Eczema is a dry itchy skin condition which occurs in about 20% of babies and young children. It has been shown to run in families. So your baby is more likely to have eczema if you or your partner have had it.

Eczema usually appears before your baby turns 1 years old. Half of sufferers develop it before they are even 6 months old. Luckily most children grow out of eczema by the time they are 5 years old

Eczema can be triggered by many things including soaps and soap powder, clothes made from man-made fabrics, food allergies and environmental allergens such as pets or household dust.

What toys are the best to give to your child with eczema?

Toys can be both a help and a hindrance in children with eczema. Some toys can contain irritants in the paint or the chemicals used in their manufacture. Zinc is a particular irritant which can occur in paint or metal coating. 

Soft toys are a particular problem for eczema sufferers.  Many soft toys are made from man-made fibre which can be scratchy and could make your child hot and itchy if cuddled at night.

For children with eczema its best to look for soft toys made from organic cotton or bamboo. It’s best to avoid ones with rough seams or long threads. It’s best to choose an organic cotton baby comforter as they are softer and very easy to wash.

If you buy a couple then you can alternate them to ensure that your baby always has a clean one available. Before giving the new one to your baby wear it next to your skin for a couple of hours so that it smells of you rather than soap powder.

How you can make cuddly toys safer for babies with eczema

Soft toys can also harbour dust mites which are a known trigger for eczema. You can avoid this by having a weekly or monthly cleaning routine. It’s a good idea to run a hoover over soft toys on a regular basis but good soft toys can be machine washed. Just put them in the washing machine at a low temperature. We also recommend that you put them in a pillow case first. To ensure the toys are kept clean you can alternate washing them with putting them in a bag in the freezer for 24 hours. This will ensure the dust mites are kept at bay. 

On the other hand toys can be a great distraction for babies and kids with eczema. It’s very difficult to stop a child scratching, and saying “Don’t scratch”. Usually just draws attention to the itch, but unfortunately it means that itching can become an ingrained habit.

Distraction has been shown to be a valuable resource in stopping the scratching.

For babies, special toys such as baby comforters, can be used during nappy changes to help keep little hands busy while you are cleaning and changing them. 

What about bath toys?

best toys for babies with eczema

For toddlers, bath toys can keep hands busy when they are distracted or watching tv. If you keep a bucket of natural rubber toys and other sensory based toys near to them while they watch tv or listen to a story at bedtime then it lessens the chance that they will scratch their skin. 

Natural rubber toys are particularly good for this as they can go in to mouths with no problem and they can be squeezed and thumped with no damage to child or toy. 

Best Toys for eczema sufferers

Best Years Ltd are a small, ethical toy company with a special interest in organic, fair trade and sensory toys. All our soft toys and organic baby comforters are suitable from birth and machine washable making them perfect for eczema sufferers.

If you’re baby or toddler is teething we’ve got some top tips to help.

And if you need some play ideas or activities to get you through the day we’ve got a whole A-Z of amazing ideas for you.

Disclaimer: Best Years have paid a small fee towards the hosting of this blog.

We know teething can be a stressful period for your little one and yourself. However, don’t worry, you are not alone! Many parents are going through the same struggles you are. Matchstick Monkey is here to help with some useful teething tips to make this time easier for both parents and toddlers.

To briefly let you know a bit about Matchstick Monkey: We are a UK teething brand founded by mum Katie about 5 years ago, after she couldn’t find anything to help her first daughter Minnie while teething. She designed the innovative Original Teething Toy, our hero product, to reach and massage the back molars without getting bitten. Since then we have expanded into a range of different teethers, fabrics, toys and our brand new natural & organic babycare range.

How do I know my baby is teething?

Though the timing widely varies, babies often start teething around 6 months of age. 

Typical signs and symptoms of teething include:

  • Sore or tender gums
  • Excessive drooling
  • Irritability
  • Chewing on objects, hands or anything else they can get hold of!

Top teething tips

top teething tips for parents

To help with those sore gums, we have compiled a list of our top teething tips for you:

  • Teething Toys

Your baby will know best where it hurts, so being able to self sooth by chewing safely on a teether will help ease their discomfort and distract from the pain. Place the teether in the fridge for added pain relief!

  • Teething Gels

Teething gels to reduce pain are not for everyone but if you decide to go down the route, make sure you use one specifically designed for young children. Remember teething gels contain a mild local anesthetic, so please do speak to a pharmacist for further advice. 

  • Rubbing the Gums

This technique of light massage is a common method used by a lot of parents. Simply use a clean finger or wet gauze to rub your baby’s gums for one to two minutes – you could even try small circular movements too. The pressure can ease your baby’s discomfort. 

  • Chilled Fruit

Giving your little one chilled food from the fridge can ease inflamed gums. Be it solid or mashed up, it is perfect to sooth painful gums. Just make sure to avoid acidic fruit, such as oranges, as they can fuel inflammation! Please note that the NHS does not advise using frozen products. 

  • Cuddle Therapy 

Yes, this is definitely a thing. Other than being the nicest name ever for a treatment, it’s definitely a great way to help relieve the pain. When they’re in distress or feeling discomfort, just be there for them and distract them. Playing, singing and reading are good exercises that will help take their mind away from the pain they are experiencing. 

Different strokes for different folks

It is important to note that different methods and remedies will work for different babies so give them a try and see what works for your little one. Remember, regular childhood dental care helps set the stage for a lifetime of health teeth and gums. It is advised to book your toddler’s first dental appointment as soon as their first tooth appears!

If you are not sure what else to do, you might consider giving your baby painkilling medicine. Please do consult your GP or pharmacist for further advice. 

We have written a couple of blog posts about teething so please feel free to check them out on our website

Love, Matchstick Monkey Team 🐒

For any new parent worrying about their baby or toddler in the pandemic we have some top tips here from a clinical psychologist

As soon as we become parents we can be vulnerable and feel our anxiety rising. As wonderful as it is to give birth and bring a new baby into the world, it can be scary too. And it can feel overwhelming at times. Here are some practical ways you can manage your anxiety when it hits you. Simple and actionable ways you can feel calmer and more in control.

Parents are feeling anxiety three times more since we experienced the first lockdown and the start of the pandemic a year ago. But anxiety has been felt by parents since the dawn of time and we are no strangers to it. However, if it increases, it can present mental and physical health problems, which is an additional threat to our children too. So finding ways to manage anxiety has never been more important for us and also our families.

So what is anxiety and how can we manage it?

Believe it or not, anxiety is a normal part of us.  It’s there to keep us safe when we think or experience something is going to happen.  I like to think of my anxiety like an inner lioness. A fierce protector that is getting me into high alert should I need to defend myself or my children.  However, she is hyper vigilant and often appears when I don’t actually need her. So those thoughts that tell me there is danger (or has been), may not be so realistic. But my lioness doesn’t differentiate between fact and imagination, and by realising that, we are able to take the first steps to tame her.

In essence, if we can welcome anxiety and see it for what it is, it often lessens as soon as we do so. By recognising anxiety for what it is, we in effect, take back a smidgen of control and can process in a more healthy way.  Once we see anxiety for what it is; our inner protector, we can take steps to become more rational-minded and calm again. 

So what does anxiety feel like?

Often anxiety feels like a racing heart, a tight chest, sweaty palms, dry mouth and a feeling of wanting to run, hide or an inability to think clearly.  It is triggered by a thought, or by an experience. Once we notice it, we can take steps to master it, although at first, we may have an inner experience that would have us believe it’s the other way around (it is master of us!).

As with everything in life, if we practice it enough, it becomes habit.  So here are my top tips to practice when you are feeling fine as well as when you start to notice anxiety standing guard and creeping into your thoughts and feelings.

5 steps to manage your anxiety

  1. Notice the thought/anxiety – Say to yourself “I notice that I am having the thought that…. or “I notice I am feeling…”.
  2. Name it  – This is anxiety/anger/frustration/fear, etc.
  3. Ground yourself with a hand on heart anchor – Cross your arms around your chest – really allow yourself to feel held. Say to yourself “I am held, I am safe” . Take as long as you need until you feel your calm mode kicking in.  Visualise being held and safe too.
  4. Breathe – Take 5 deep breaths in through your nose and out of your mouth – with a longer exhale.  Think about the oxygen coming in, and the stress going out…
  5. Affirm – Say to yourself: “These are just thoughts and I know my reality is…. It will be okay/ I know I can do this / I am safe”

If you can, get used to this when you are feeling normal, so that you can be conditioned to spring from anxious to calm when you really need to.  But also, practice befriending your inner protector, as you never know when you really will need it and it’s there to guard you and keep you safe.

If you would like to know more about my work as The Mamma Coach and how I can support you 1:1 or with Beyond Birth: A Mindful Guide to Early Parenting and the groups and Mental Wellbeing Practitioner Training, then please see the website www.themammacoach.com or get in touch with me here [email protected]

We have more information and support if you are suffering with PND or anxiety here.

And, if you are worrying about how your baby or child is coping in the pandemic we have some top tips from a clinical psychologist.

Are you a new mum? Becoming a parent is one of the most challenging things we can do. There’s the broken sleep, breastfeeding and changes to your body to contend with.  Add to that the challenges of Covid-19, and you may feel like everything’s just a bit too much.  Mums need to look after their mental well being as much as their physical well being. And we know that postnatal depression can affect as many as 30% of new mums.

But what do you do when life with your new baby isn’t quite as rosy as everybody said it was going to be? What if you can’t stop worrying. If you feel isolated. Or your mood is consistently low? 

Melodies for Mums

Breathe Arts Health Research are currently running, Melodies for Mums. This free support is a singing programme for new mothers who may be experiencing anxiety, low mood, stress, loneliness and possibly be at risk of or have postnatal depression.   

This isn’t your average mum and baby music group. Firstly, it is completely free, ensuring accessibility for women of all socio-economic backgrounds. Groups of 10 – 12 women are led by a trained musician. Instead of popular nursery rhymes, women learn everything from folk songs and lullabies to gospel, in a range of languages making it a culturally inclusive environment. The songs explored are focused on creatively stimulating and challenging the women taking part, which makes them different from many mum and baby groups.  

While the little ones will definitely get a lot out of the session, we’re specifically here to support mums. We want to offer mothers a joyful shared experience, that connects them to other women as well as their baby. There’s no need to share or go over anything that’s troubling you in the sessions. Just show up and get ready to sing! 

maternal mental health - happy mum and baby

Pioneering research into maternal mental health

Melodies for Mums is a model based on really pioneering research which, for the first time ever, looked at the benefits of singing on symptoms of Postnatal depression specifically.  We know that PND affects between 13-30% of new mothers… a broad bracket because so many mums don’t seek help or recognise their symptoms of being something more serious than the baby blues. So it’s hard to know exact numbers… but its high! And of course, during and as a result of this pandemic, the fear is this number will drastically increase.   

This research by Royal College of Music and Imperial College London investigated the impact on PND symptoms across three groups – 10 weeks of social care, social and play activity and singing activity. It was the singing programme that showed a faster improvement in PND symptoms, 1month earlier than the others. With PND, we know it’s important to address symptoms as early as possible so this was a key finding. 

How singing can improve mental wellbeing in new mums

From this research, we also know:  

  • Stress hormone levels (cortozol) levels reduced in mothers after singing activity 
  • There was a 41% reduction in symptoms of PND in 73% of women who took part
  • Opportunity to meet other mothers facing challenges in a familiar group setting, which is important for maternal mental health
  • Improved mother and baby bonding through singing over play 
  • Gives women an emotional outlet where they can express themselves 
  • A tool to use at home with baby – improving confidence 

How Covid has impacted mental health of new mums

Navigating through the pandemic as a new parent, must be extremely challenging. Especially with less tangible support available, prolonged periods of time without seeing friends and family and disrupted daily routines. There is a concern that mums suffering with maternal mental health will not be able to access the support they need.     

Recognising that lots of services, offers of care and activities are on hold because of COVID, Melodies for Mums has been redesigned to deliver the programme online. Running the sessions in this way increases the opportunity for mothers to get involved, as the location is not an issue. It also gives mothers who would ordinarily feel shy in group settings the freedom to join from the comfort of their own homes.    

Melodies for Mums is recruiting for a number of online programmes, open to women with young babies up to 9months, from across the UK. To sign up

Visit www.breatheahr.org or email us at [email protected] to sign up.   

Hannah Dye – Head of Programmes, Breathe Arts Health Research 

If you have PND we have a wealth of information, support and help in our PND section.

maternal mental health - Hannah Dye from Breathe Arts Health Research

 

Are you worried about how lockdown is affecting your baby or toddler’s mental health? If so, you’re not alone.

Recently there was a viral video of a little girl walking along the street, stopping every few steps to ‘clean her hands’.  It had the caption: ‘When your first year of life is 2020 was all about HAND SANITIZING’.

She’s adorable, as toddlers are when they copy what they see Mummy or Daddy do in their play. 
The video taps into one of the biggest things parents worry about right now, which is how growing up in a pandemic will affect our babies and toddlers.

Growing up in this ‘new normal’

The world our babies and toddlers are growing up in one where adults wear masks and keep their distance. It’s a world based within their own homes, where they only have their parents for company: a world where they only see Grandma and Grandad on Zoom or through a window.

In many ways it is one of the invisible costs of the pandemic. Will growing up in this strange new ‘normal’ have a lasting effect on our baby or toddler’s development and mental health?

Mums and dads are feeling the stress too

Living through a pandemic has taken its toll on us all. Some days feel OK but others feel rubbish. 

Parental guilt is not a new thing. Right now we are feeling it in spades, worrying about whether our children will pick up on our anxiety and if it will it damage them?

We always urge mums and dads to banish any guilt they feel. Right now – that’s even more important. 

One of the best things we can do to help our children is to take care of ourselves and make sure we are OK. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed at times. So when you do, take time to escape in whatever way you can. That might be taking a few deep breaths. Or it might be carving out time in your day to unwind in whatever way you can. 

Emily Tredget, from Team Happity says:

It is important to remember that in keeping our babies healthy and well, we need to first remember to keep ourselves healthy and well. Often we forget about ourselves, but like on an airplane, we need to put our oxygen mask on first.

Your baby and toddler’s mental health

Little ones don’t have the vocabulary or the emotional maturity to explain their feelings. Often they show you their feelings through their behaviour.

You are enough!

One of the most important things to remember is that you are the centre of your baby or child’s world. Your love, time and attention is what they need. And it’s what will make them thrive. 

Lockdown days have a peculiar sense of time. Spending it together can benefit your child.  

You are enough. None of us expected to be parenting in a pandemic and we have to be kind to ourselves.

Top tips to help support your baby & toddler:

  • When you pass people in the street on your daily walk say ‘Hello’, smile and wave. Chances are they’ll greet you back. Even though we’re all keeping a distance you will be teaching your child to welcome the people they meet in their day to day lives and showing them how friendly they are.
  • Welcome everyone who knocks on your door with a big smile and tell your child who they are and why they are at your door – whether it’s the postman delivering letters or the delivery man dropping off food. Even in a mask and at a safe distance they will more than likely enjoy getting such a warm welcome and chat to your little one.
  • Your baby or toddler often shows their feelings in their play. Watch what they do and join in. For example, if your toddler pretends a toy cat or dog is sad and needs care, get down and play along with them – talking about how the toy is feeling and how you both can help them feel better.
  • Verbalise their feelings. If your child is sad or withdrawn put their feelings into words. This shows that you understand and care. For example you might say: ‘I can see you feel cross right now because we can’t go out and play. Why don’t we choose a jigsaw or toy to play with together?’
  • Talk about the people you see in books and on TV. Focusing on how friendly they are and talking about all the kind people we meet, who help us.
  • Show your child photos of their extended family. Babies and toddlers are drawn to faces and can recognise them if you show them often. Say the names of your family as you point to the photos. Your baby and child might not get much out of a Zoom call or Facetime with Gran and Grandad but it’s another way of showing them the faces that will be an important part of their lives.
  • Join in online baby & toddler classes. We KNOW they’re not the same as face to face classes but they are the next best thing in lockdown. And your baby or toddler will be super engaged and love them. They also break up the long and lonely lockdown days for you too. Find loads to choose from and book them on Happity.

How to help your kids during the pandemic  

And a must-read for all parents: Keep calm and carry on (with Covid 19)

Short of birthday party ideas and worried about how to make your child’s birthday extra special in lockdown? When we’re all cooped up at home and can’t invite family or friends round for a kids party it can feel tricky to know where to start to make your child’s birthday magical!

We asked the parents on our Facebook group to share tried and tested lockdown birthday ideas to make your child’s day a special one to remember. And they delivered – in spades! 

Here are some of the fabulous ways they made their child’s day amazing – that you can do too. To make your child’s birthday one to remember – even in lockdown.

1.Go BIG on the decorations

Lockdown is the time to GO BIG on the decorations. Tons of balloons, bunting, paper chains, fairy lights… There’s no such thing as too much for a lockdown birthday. Go to town with the decorations and watch your child’s eyes light up as they wake up to see the house festooned in celebration of their big day.

2. Lockdown cosy dens- make a special place to play

One way to make home a more exciting space for your child is to put up a tent or den – to make an exciting space for them to eat their birthday meals in and to play with their toys after they’ve unwrapped their presents. You can buy or hire beautiful teepees and tents for a special touch but your preschooler will be just as happy with a homemade den made from blankets draped over chairs or a clothes horse and kitted out with cushions and fairy lights. 

3. Spread out the present opening with a treasure hunt

Opening the presents is the highlight of any birthday. But with little ones it can be all over in minutes. Spin out the present opening excitement by making a treasure hunt for your child to hunt and seek their gifts. You could make rhyming clues for older ones or cards with pictures for younger ones. Another fab idea is to wrap lots of little stocking filler type gifts in tissue paper (a different colour for each sibling) and hide them around your house and garden or the kids to find. 

4. Themed crafts and activities

This one takes a little bit of prep and planning but could bring big smiles to your child’s face. Pick a theme that your child will love and plan decorations, crafts and activities to go along with it. 

Emma said:

“We are doing an indoor safari. Bringing in his little tykes car from the garden to drive round and have blow-up animals to find with lots of balloons to look like leaves and trees. We will do some animal art and craft activities too”

5. Host a Zoom party with one of our class providers

We can’t plan the usual birthday parties but thanks to the power of Zoom, virtual get togethers are the next best thing. They’re a great way of joining your child’s friends together to celebrate and have tons of fun together. 

Many of our Happity class providers also run Zoom parties. We’ve been to a few and think they’re fab. The party hosts make sure they involve all the guests and keep them engaged and entertained – joining in songs, games, stories and lots and lots of fun. 

Nina said:

“We ‘went’ to a zoom party for a 5th birthday the other week. Brilliantly organised with a themed backdrop (superheroes), a count-the-balloons video clip, guess the animal noises, musical statues (including superheroes and cartoon characters), guess the cartoon character, some disco dancing, drop-off-the-screen game, treasure hunt (yey, finally a bonus to having toys and mess everywhere) and a few other bits. Kept 2 kids glued to the screen for an hour.

And no whinging about party bags or cake or prizes”

Find an amazing Zoom party here.

6. Cake and blowing out the candles with all the family

Everyone loves a bit of birthday cake – and blowing out the candles is a must! Make it special by planning a Zoom meeting with the family – so they can share the special moment. They can sing ‘Happy Birthday’ and watch your child blow out their candles. If you can arrange for them to have their own cake or cupcake with a candle too they can feel even more involved as they share the experience. 

7. Bubbles, bounce and slushies!

One special thing can make your child’s big day feel magical. Whether it’s a slushie machine, a bubble machine or a bouncy castle – something a little out of the ordinary can mark the day as something magical. 

8. Special birthday tea

For your child’s birthday tea cook or order in a treat. Whatever their favourite meal is. Whether that’s pizza or fish and chips or pasta. Set the tea table (or tent) with party plates, napkins and cups. And make the meal an occasion that your child will enjoy. 

9. Snuggly movie night in jamas

Create a cinema experience at home by downloading a favourite family movie and making popcorn and drinks in special cups. Snuggle down and enjoy a family film together. It’s a great way to end the special day with some cosy calm family time.

You might worry that your child’s birthday in lockdown will be a bit of a disappointment – but with a little planning, a whole lot of decoration and some Zoom magic you can still make it a special day to remember. 

Last week the amazing Dr Zara Rahemtulla kicked off our first Happity Expert Chat by talking about helping to maintain your baby or toddler’s mental health.

She has kindly written a summary of her talk, which you can find below, or you can watch it back it in our Facebook group where you will also be able to join different experts talking (and taking Q&As in Zoom) about supporting you and your family each Wednesday at 8pm.

How has the pandemic had an impact and what can parents do to help?

Over these past 10 months, there have been some good conversations about how this pandemic is affecting our mental health. It’s no secret that adults everywhere are struggling and need support at the moment.

However, a big part of this conversation about mental health is missing. There is very little conversation about how the current pandemic is affecting our babies and children. Parents are certainly seeing changes in their children’s behaviours and there are real reasons for this.

Below I will briefly discuss the impact that the pandemic has had on babies and toddlers, and then I will go on to talk about the ways you can support your children at the moment.

What has been the impact on babies and toddlers?

As a professional working with babies and toddlers, the main issue we are seeing at the moment is that children are showing more tricky behaviours. Children are trying to manage so much change at the moment too. The multitude of changes in routine do have an effect on them; maybe they’re not going to nursery, or going to nursery less, they’re not seeing their friends at the playground, they’re not seeing grandparents/extended family, they’re not going out to the play places they were going to previously and their parents are trying to work from home and look after them. At different points during this pandemic, babies and toddlers may have felt confused, upset, worried and happy all at the same time.

Due to having no language or less sophisticated language, babies and toddlers are going to be unable to use words to tell their parents what they are fully thinking and feeling. Some common behaviour difficulties that parents are reporting at the moment are that their child is crying more frequently for no reason, child is having sleep difficulties all of a sudden (e.g. problems going to sleep, staying asleep, having nightmares), they are more clingy than before, they may be more whiny and certainly there are more meltdowns and temper tantrums.

I hope it comes across here that these changes are very normal and expected in the current situation, and they are all examples of how the current changes are having an impact on them.

Ways you can help your child

There are lots of ways you can help your child at this time. How much you can do for your child will of course depend on your well-being – it is completely normal for you to feel up and down at the moment too! Some days will feel harder than others, so do whatever you feel you can. Below are some suggestions that hopefully help with a range of ages:

  1. Watch, listen and observe their play. It may sound strange, but play is such an important source of knowledge. It can give us huge insight into what may be going through a toddler’s mind! Toddlers will often ‘act out’ various scenarios as a way of trying to communicate the things they are worried about. For example, you might have noticed your toddler playing ‘doctors’ or ‘hospitals’ more, or pretending animals or dolls are sick, as a way of processing what they are hearing in the media. You might have noticed they want to involve you in their play more (or they are playing less independently). They may start pretending to be a cat or a dog that needs taking care of and needs extra comfort. The main message here is, whatever your child has started to do with their play, follow their lead and go with it. It is their way of communicating to you that they may need extra reassurance at the moment. Don’t dismiss their play or tell them they’re being silly, take notice and comment on what you see them doing.
  • Think about your child’s big feelings and what they might be trying to communicate. Babies and children will have big feelings right now – they may feel happy about having more time with you and unhappy about other changes. The best way to help your child with their big feelings is to try and understand them. You don’t need to always get it right! Young children feel helped when their parents try and understand their feelings. You are the best person to soothe and reassure your baby or toddler. You might try and name something for them, “you’re feeling frustrated because we’ve been inside all day and we can’t go out to the park”, or “you’re really missing your grannie and the stories she used to read you”.

Older child focussed advice:

  • Welcome questions. A slightly older toddler (age 3+) may be able to ask you questions about what is going on. They may ask questions that seem quite irrelevant (e.g. will my favourite café be open?), but these are important questions in a child’s world. Take their questions seriously and don’t dismiss them!
  • Give fact-based information in your answers. Be factual, but of course age appropriate with your answers. I must stress that it is okay to not know the answers to everything. In a pandemic where everything is uncertain, you can absolutely say “I don’t know” when you don’t know the answer. Saying something like, “I don’t know, but as soon as I know more I promise I will let you know” is perfect. Your goal here is to help your child to feel heard and understood and for them to feel like you are available to them if they need to ask you something.
  • Give reassurance. Be reassuring to your child if they are worrying about things they are hearing on the news. For example, you could reassure them that very few children are getting sick, and that they’re unlikely to catch it. Another way to reassure a child is to help them feel involved in a process – children feel less worried when they know what to do to keep themselves safe. For example, reminding kids that washing their hands is actually helping everyone by stopping the spread of the virus. 

Dr Zara Rahemtulla, Clinical Psychologist

If you would like more support with understanding your child’s behaviours, please get in touch with Gentle Journeys. They can help parents with how to respond to tricky child behaviour, with general parenting strategies and they support parents with their mental health and well-being. You can follow them on Instagram, and their website is www.gentlejourneys.org

To watch Dr Zara’s talk back, or to join other experts live each Wedneday at 8pm please head to the Happity Facebook group.

A couple of months ago we heard from the lovely Carley from Y’earn. She is on a mission to help save the planet as well as the pockets of new parents! We are glad to be supporting her on her mission as we love these two aims too!

Y’earn is the parent-to-parent marketplace to rent Baby & Kids items from people and small businesses in your community or make some cash if you have items you don’t need right now.

Every parent wants to provide their child with everything they need to be happy and healthy.  It starts with a car seat to bring your baby home and the beautiful nursery to care for them. Within a blink of an eye you’re buying bouncers and stair gates to keep your toddler safe. Then it’s time for a ‘big boy’ or ‘big girl’ bedroom and most things you bought have no use, even though they’re hardly worn.

Almost every mum knows the pain of spending a small fortune and within a short period of time they’re dealing with the hassle of getting rid of each item to make room for the next set of ‘must haves’. It’s an expensive process which doesn’t just hit the bank account, it also costs the environment.

Y’earn was created to fix this and help make life easier. Easier to find and afford what your child needs at each stage. Easier to make money from items your child has outgrown. Easier to help local families, charities and the environment.

Our community

  • EARNERS (people that make money from items) Whether they need the money, space or want to help others less fortunate, they can rent items for as long as they like, and then decide to sell, donate to charity, or have them returned before their next child needs them.
  • YEARNERS (people that want items) can focus on creating important memories with their children without spending endless hours researching and shopping for everything that they need. Whether they rent short-term or long-term they can save cash and help Mother Nature.

How it works

Earners take items that they’ve outgrown for the moment, and list them grouped together in one of our Bundle categories:

  • Bedroom & nursery – furniture, decorative items, soft furnishings and electronics.
  • Feeding – highchairs, dining chairs and tables, to breast pumps.
  • Around the home – bouncers, stair gates and playmats etc.
  • Out & About – from the obvious prams and car seats to bike attachment seats & trailers.
  • Musical instruments and toys – these can be rented from stores only at the moment.
    • Some items like bedding and books can be sold alongside a rental

We suggest a price based on a few factors including brand, but it’s up to the Earner to pick how long they rent for and the price. When a Yearner finds a Bundle they love they send a reservation request, they can request to remove some items. Within a few clicks we take over and handle the pick up and drop off, we even provide a guarantee so everyone has peace-of-mind.

At the end of the rental period, we ask what you’d like to do; renew or sell the Bundle, have the items returned or donate them. You can rest easy knowing that once you’re finished with a rental we collect everything and you’ll never have to haggle on FB marketplace, have strangers coming to your house to collect items or wait hours in line at the Post Office!

Read more about how Y’earn works here. Learn about how we support charities, including Great Ormond Street Hospital, Baby Basics Baby Bank and the Child Rescue Coalition here

Sign up for our newsletter to be included in our monthly prize draw, receive design inspo, offers, and sustainable parenting tips! January’s prize is a £100 classes for Happity!

Find our more about Y’earn on their Website, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest.

Disclaimer: Y’earn have paid a small fee towards the hosting of this blog.

It’s officially the New Year (we made it!) and whilst everyone will be excited to reach the other side of 2020, we thought we’d kick off this year’s blog posts with something for all the new Mums to be that are getting ready for their 2021 arrivals. So, we asked our community of parents for their top tips on what to pack in your hospital bag.

Spoiler Alert! Big knickers and snacks were a firm favourite…

For Mum 

Comfy clothes are a must! Here are some essentials our Mums suggest bringing along:

  • Dressing gown
  • Pyjamas
  • Slippers
  • Flip flops for the shower
  • Big comfy knickers!
  • Nursing bra
  • Breast pads
  • Warm socks
  • Going home outfit 

Toiletries are also vital but perhaps consider packing a few pamper treats for yourself as well! 

  • Vanity bag
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Flannel
  • Deodorant 
  • Moisturiser 
  • Lip balm
  • Nipple cream
  • Towel
  • Maternity pads

Next up – food fuel to keep your energy levels up and drinks to keep you hydrated. Lucozade seemed to be a popular suggestion from our Mums. We’ve included some more ideas below…

  • Water Bottle
  • Squash
  • Flapjack
  • Energy Bars
  • Fruit
  • Nuts

Finally, some important bits and pieces to keep you comfortable and relaxed…

  • Your birth plan and hospital notes
  • Downloaded podcasts
  • Books
  • Phone charger
  • Earphones
  • Fan 
  • Own pillow & blanket
  • Eye mask

For Baby

Time to pack for your little one now. The perfect chance to pull out that going home outfit you were given for Christmas from friends or the woolly hat knitted especially for your arrival! Here are the baby essentials our Mums recommend…

  • Blanket
  • Muslin squares
  • Nappies & changing equipment 
  • Bodysuits, vests & sleep suits
  • Going home outfit
  • Socks
  • Cotton hat & scratch mittens
  • Dummies 
  • Comforter
  • Car seat

This is not a paid ad, but we found some great products we thought you might like to check out for inspiration!

For Mum Water Bottle £10.00 John Lewis | 100% Natural Vegan, Organic, Cruelty and Fragrance Free Nipple SOS £19.00 Nessa | Lip Balm £10.00 Glossier | Oliver Bonas New Mums Notebook Maternity Lounge Knit Set Hoodie £26.00 Dorothy Perkins | Maternity Lounge Knit Set Joggers £28.00 Dorothy Perkins | Reusable Maternity Pads £16.95 Eco Bravo | Cashmere Bed Socks £36.00 The White Company Trek Energy Flapjack Bar £1.19 Holland & Barrett |  Where the Crawdads Sing £7.49 Waterstones | Water Wipes £2.70 BootsMini Portable Fan £24.95 Selfridges | Bee Dusty Pink Velvet Eye Mask £25.00 Elizabeth Scarlett 

For Baby 
Bamboo Baby Swaddle Blanket £12.00 Banks-Lyon | Gold Star Muslin Swaddle £9.00 The Modern Nursery | Liewood Robbie Muslin Cloth £17.00 The Modern Nursery | Skip Hop Main Frame Changing Bag £49.99 John Lewis | Cam Cam Quilted Changing Mat in Grey Wave £30.95 Scandiborn | 3-pack cotton pyjamas £15.99 H&M | Hello Baby Set (Including Mitts, Bodysuit, Leggings, Hat & Jacket) £50.00 The White Company | Fox Comforter £11.00 Jojo Mamam Bebe | Hevea Dummy £7.50 Jojo Mamam Bebe | Warm cashmere mix booties £20.00 Trotters 

A sneak peak in Santa’s stocking at what’s on over the coming weeks…

With just two weeks to go and the official countdown on we’re fully in the festive swing here at Happity HQ. This Christmas may be a little different but it’s not stopping our happity community from enjoying the build up to the most magical day of the year. Thanks to our wonderful providers, there’s still plenty of covid safe Christmassy classes happening around the country so that you and your little ones can still experience the enchantment of this very special time.

So if you’ve found yourself asking “what’s on this christmas for kids”, or “can I find an online christmas party for the kids”, you’re in the right place!

In Person Classes 

From rocking around the Christmas tree at a mini disco to becoming your favourite Frozen Disney character here’s just a handful of brilliant socially distanced in person classes some of our providers have on over the coming weeks… 

  • Christmas Crafts Tree Babies | Wednesday 16th December 10am – 11.30am

Make a simple Christmas tree decoration keepsake at Tree Babies!

Where? Capstone Farm Country Park, Medway
https://www.happity.co.uk/the-sage-village

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  • Snow Time! Boss Acting School | Saturday 19th December 1.30pm – 4.30pm & Sunday 20th December 10am – 12pm 

Musical moments inspired by Greatest Showman, The Princess & The Frog, Frozen and Toy Story. Christmas competitions, a visit to Lapland and many more!
Where? Wimbledon & Earlsfield https://www.happity.co.uk/schedules/boss-acting-school-london-saint-luke-s-church-snowtime-christmas-workshop

  • My Gym Christmas Camp | Sunday 20th December & Monday 21st December 1pm – 3.30pm 

Christmas party with a special visit from Santa and a short festive movie! 


  • My Gym Little Elf meet Santa Party | Monday 21st December 9:15am, 10:20am, 11:25am

Meet Santa from a safe distance in their Christmas grotto. Also featuring games, rides, swings and gymnastics! 

Where? Batterseahttps://www.happity.co.uk/venues/baby-groups-battersea-my-gym-battersea 

  • BilinguasingChristmas Themed We Sing Spanish | Monday 21st December 10.30am – 11.15am & 1.30pm – 2.15pm 

Festive fun-filled, highly interactive music classes for babies (from 4 weeks!), crawlers, toddlers, preschoolers and their little siblings.

Where? Coventry & Kenilworth https://www.happity.co.uk/bilinguasing/coventry-and-kenilworth

  • Kidz Live Christmas Special | Wednesday 23rd & Thursday 24th December 9.45am and 10.45am 

Join Kidz Live for an unforgettable musical Christmas at our Kidz Live Christmas Special!
We will have a magical time exploring percussion and instruments galore as well as singing along to your favourite Christmas songs.

Where? Barnes Wetland Centre
https://www.happity.co.uk/schedules/kidz-live-london-wwt-london-wetland-centre-christmas-special-thursdays-09-45-10-15

Online Classes 

If you’re looking to stay warm and cosy indoors but still want to join in with the festivities from home then why not check out our selection of online classes below so that you can be transported to the North Pole from your very own living room! 

  • The Humpty Dumpty Christmas Singalong | Tuesday 15th December 11:00am –11:45am & Friday 18th December 10:30am –11:15am

Join Debs and Humpty for a Christmas singalong session for babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers! With traditional and not-so-traditional nursery rhymes, action songs and other fabulous tunes, they make live music together with ukulele, shakers and other instruments and delight the children with puppets, bubbles and more!

https://www.happity.co.uk/the-humpty-dumpty-singalong

  • Baby Broadway I’m Streaming of a White Christmas Family Singalong | Friday 18th December 11am 

A virtual Christmas family concert, with West End singers

https://www.happity.co.uk/baby-broadway

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  • Kiddibops Christmas Music Play | Friday 18th December 09:45am – 10:15am

Dress up your little one in their First Christmas outfit, and share some rhymes, songs and music play together, all with a Christmas theme.

https://www.happity.co.uk/schedules/kiddibops-west-midlands-happity-home-kiddibops-christmas-young-babies-fridays-09-45-10-15

  • Boogie Monsters Family Christmas Zoom! | Saturday 19th December at 4pm

Live, fun and interactive acoustic Christmas hits and action songs, to get the whole family rocking around the living room!

https://www.happity.co.uk/schedules/boogie-monsters-surrey-happity-home-boogie-monsters-family-christmas-party

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  • Baby College at Home Christmas Specials | Multiple classes all week long! 

A week full of festive fun for all ages! Multi-sensory and cognitive games and more.

https://www.happity.co.uk/baby-college/uk


  • Foxtots Christmas Special | Pre recorded online classes available 

Musical instruments, props, original tunes (plus some old favourites!), puppets, bubbles, percussion for the kids, story telling & more!

https://www.happity.co.uk/foxtots-baby-toddler-music-group

  • Miniature music| Online Subscription 

We have a special guest this month. Father Christmas is singing and playing his ukulele! We also have a Julia Donaldson songs singalong Xmas week 
It’s £5.99 a month to subscribe via the Miniature Music website.

It’s been a bumpy sleigh ride for our providers and parents this year and at a time that’s all about love and cheer it’s important that we all look out for each other. We’re thrilled that child and toddler classes have been allowed to safely continue this Christmas and with options both in person and online we can all support this special community that is so important to so many. 


The classes above are only a small number of the many wonderful classes happening around the UK this month so be sure to check out what’s on in your area by heading to https://www.happity.co.uk/


Wishing you all a happity Christmas!


Team Happity x