Toddler-assisted Gingerpersons

I've pinned the pins and I've done the daydreaming but even I'm not foolish enough to think that baking with an almost 2 and a half year old will be easy, neat or clean. 

That said, Jnr has been stealing my cupcake cases for weeks now, pretending to bake and eat cakes, so I figured it might be time to give it a try. And what better way to start that with Gingerbread men?


The first batch were a little wonky, but adorably so, because of how proud he was of cutting them out himself "I do it, mummy!" he demanded, telling me who each ginger person was (several daddies, a couple of mummies and a Grandma).


The second lot were a little less wonky because he was happy to watch me cut them out and directed rather than helped with the decorating.


The aftermath was predictably messy, but the gingerfolk were tasty.


And shortly afterwards, the excitement took it's toll and he fell asleep guarding the bowl with his half-eaten gingerdad in it.


Still, achievement unlocked: baking with toddler. Next stop, who knows?

Our Storytime Library

A while back I wrote about our bedtime routine, and promised to share our storytime library, and now seems as good a time as any.

Our Storytime Library

There are a few requirements for inclusion in the storytime library:

  • it has to be a board book (Jnr is occasionally over-enthusiastic with books, even ones he likes)
  • it has to be something he likes (owls are a particlar favourite) 
  • it has to be something I can stand reading over and over and over
  • it has to be reasonably short (Jnr's attention span isn't massive, even for things he likes) 
  • it has to be non-interactive (otherwise he gets less sleepy, rather than more) 
  • it has to be a story, not a counting book, or other kind of picture book

So, the few who have made the cut so far, are:

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

This really doesn't need any introduction. I loved it, he loves it and has graduated from calling all fruit apples to recognising and naming the different fruits (except for plums). That said, he does call all of Saturday's food Carrot Cake (he had a lump while out with the Childminder and it made quite an impression on him). 

Owl Babies by Martin Waddell

 I first saw this at a Children's Centre Book Club I went to when Jnr had a half day trial with the other childminder we used when I went back to work at first. They had a really nice thing where they had toys that went along with each book, and they were placed on little mats across the floor. Jnr loved the book and I loved the owls and so when I found the board book I had to buy it. He's loved it ever since, and asks for it regularly. 

I'll See You In The Morning by Mike Jolley and Mique Moriuchi

Given to us by one of the girls in my ante-natal group just after Jnr was born. Took me a while to get into the rhythm of it, but the illustrations are really beautiful and it's a very sweet book. It's been the final story most nights for the last few weeks.

Wow! said the Owl by Tim Hopgood

I bought him this on World Book Day because I loved the illustrations. He loves the story and it's teaching him colours too. 

A Bit Lost by Chris Haughton

He chose this (from a selection I showed him) himself, and it was the first book that he really made an instant connection with. My six year old niece loves it too - she memorised it within a couple of readings. 

Don't Worry Hugless Douglas by David Melling and 

Hugless Douglas by David Melling

Can't remember where I found this, but the Hugless Douglass books have become a firm favourite. They are known as Douglas and Other Douglas and he likes to have both of them read to him. He often gives me a huge hug at the end of Hugless Douglas, and even cried one night when I was out because it reminded him of me and I wasn't there. The illustrations on the last two pages are fantastic too. Make me smile every time.

The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr

A classic. I loved it when I was wee, so I had to buy it. He's memorised it enough to be able to say "Owp!" at the right place, which I find absolutely adorable. 

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Sheffler

A modern phenomenon. I bought him the toy too, and he'll demand that I recite the whole "but who is this…" etc. bit pointing to all the bits on him and the teddy bear version multiple times. Loves the made for TV movie too…

Daddy and Me by Tina McNaughton

A very sweet book. I bought it for Mr Pixeldiva, really, for father's day, but it's nice to read too. 

Annie Hoot and the Knitting Extravaganza by Holly Clifton-Brown

Bought by my mother-in-law, probably more for me than for Jnr. The first exception to the "only board books" rule. Doesn't usually live in the pile because I'm worried about it getting ripped, but I do get it down every now and again and he loves it.

I've shown you ours - what's in your storytime library?

Written with the help of tom christie, ntlk, Stef Lewandowski, and he cavanagh

Fun With Words

Being a glossary of Jnr's vocabulatory discoveries that sound awkwardly like swearing* and some other stuff that I find adorable.

*if for no other reason than I find them hilarious (if a shade awkward) and want to remember them before he sorts his words out properly. 

A Douche! (and variations thereof) 

Atchoo! *fake sneezing* (particularly embarrassing on the bus)



Tooth/Toothpaste (douchebag)


Caterpillar (as in, the Very Hungry…)


Armadillo. Being the one I brought back from SXSW2007.


Any round food. 


His latest and greatest televisual love. Waybuloo is so last week. 


Actual bum (he's fascinated by this and keeps proudly pointing it out to people)

Drum (he loves his drum)


Anything on wheels.  Also applies to the sound of sirens.


Duck/Quack (imagine the fun I have in Dulwich Park…)




The swing/reclining chair he naps in at the childminder.


One of his very favourite things in the whole wide world.  Even when it's a window.


Cheerios.  Sometimes gets these for breakfast.

I Did It

His first, clear, full sentence.  Said with much pride, on the bus home, as he figured out how to make his Dumbo cuddly play Twinkle Twinkle.

Oh my! Oh no! Isagoooogaa*gobbledigook*

Oh my! Oh no! It's a Gruffalo!  (because I misread the line in the book and inserted Oh my! instead of Oh help! - often prompted by seeing anything gruffalo related, but sometimes just because)


Fish. Close but not quite close enough.


Tractor. Usually said with much excitement.


Raisins/dried fruit. No, I don't know either. 

Our Bedtime Routine

There's precious little that parenting "experts" agree on, but a consistent bedtime routine seems to be one of them. My two trusted guides on parenting and sleep are Dr Laura Markham of Aha Parenting, and Elizabeth Pantley, author of the No Cry books, and here's their take on bedtime: 

Dr Laura Markham

Elizabeth Pantley

It feels a little like I'm grasping the third rail of parent blogging, writing about things we actually do, especially while leaving a comments section open, but I figure if I'm genuinely interested in how other folk do it (real people I know on the internets, rather than mumsnet judgypants people) then I should show faith and share what we do and what we've learned along the way. 

I know that this routine isn't perfect, and we're working towards making it better, but in a slow, gentle way, because right now it's working for us, and that's all you can really ask for when you both work full time and really need to get some sleep.

I'd love to know what your bedtime routine is, so please feel free to leave a comment, or reply via twitter


Step 1: Play (and Re-Connect)

I suppose technically, the bedtime routine begins when we get home from work/childminder. We play a bit, letting him choose whatever it is he wants to do (these days, mostly he wants to go out into the back garden) and we try to get our dinner on the go while he's playing, so that we can sit down together as a family for a meal (our dinner, his supper).

Step 2: Milk

It's only been 7 weeks since I stopped breastfeeding (a week's business trip to Boston will do that to you) and he still asks for milk, so we've kept this as part of the routine for now. 

Step 3: Bath

I'm never entirely sure whether this actually wakes him up more, because he gets excited and splashy, but it's part of the routine now and we're trying not to change it. The only time we skip this step is if he's really overtired, on the basis that a screaming fit isn't exactly conducive to a good night's sleep.

We try and get this bit of the routine started as close to 7 as possible, but if work and public transport are conspiring against us, it can be later. It's also sometimes more difficult if it's earlier in the evening, because he's just not ready to face the idea of being separated from us again (even by sleep) when he's been apart from us all day. 

This is a tough nut to crack and the amount of time we're apart due to work does make me feel a bit guilty, but we try and make the bedtime routine all about him, and quality time to make up for it.

Step 4: Jammies

We have a bit more play and some gentle snuggling on the bed while we dry him and get him into his jammies, then it's…

Step 5: Teeth brushing

He absolutely loves brushing his teeth, so he's usually very happy to do this, almost running back to the bathroom to climb up on the step and grab his toothbrush. He's very particular, demanding toothpaste and the tap has to be on, then off, then on again, before we're "all done". 

All of this pales into insignificance compared to: 

Step 6: Storytime

Introduced by daddy while I was in Boston, we have a 3 story limit. 

We have a selection of books and he gets to choose the 3 stories he wants, one at a time, and when they're done, that's it for the night. 

Step 7: Settling down

He's still very little (only 20 months old), and sleeping in his own room for the whole night is still relatively new, so one or both of us will stay with him while he settles down to sleep. When the stories are done, he givs us both a goodnight kiss and cuddle (often spontaneously), and will often give some of his teddies spontaneous goodnight kisses (which about makes me die of the cute) and we gently pull his quilt over him and hope that he goes to sleep quickly.

It doesn't often happen so smoothly, but if he keeps wanting to get up, we gently encourage him back to bed and discourage him from getting any more toys or books out (or playing with his cupboard doors). 

We then lie next to him (mostly not actually touching him, just being there) until he falls asleep (or we do) and then once he's asleep (or a couple of hours later when we wake up) we tiptoe out of his room, close the door and hope he sleeps until morning.