Simple autumn activities to do with children 

Look for squirrels, collect conkers, splash in puddles, crunch on leaves – in short, go outside! 

Going out for a walk or an adventure is my favourite thing to do with Frida all year round, but in the cool crisp autumn there is something truly magical about walking through the falling leaves. She is starting to learn about the seasons – I asked her today “why do the leaves fall down?” and she replied with one word: “autumn”. 

Pack some snacks, a flask of tea, and off you go! Frida has good wet weather gear – a puddlesuit and some wellies – but I think I need to get myself some proper waterproofs. 

Even babies who aren’t yet walking can get so much out of being outside, lying on the grass or in leaves, being held up to trees and bushes to feel the different textures, and having the different sights and sounds and weather explained to them. 

Paint (or carve) a pumpkin

There’s little more seasonal than decorating pumpkins. 

Frida tried painting directly onto a pumpkin which worked OK but the paint flaked off a bit once dry. We are still using it as our current table centrepiece though. I have also prepped some pumpkins by giving them a coat of white paint first and that worked much better. 

Even babies can get involved with finger painting once they are sitting up. Stickers, glitter and glue could all be used to great effect to decorate them too, and older children could of course carve them instead!  

Cook (and handle) seasonal food together 

Apple crumbles, roasted squash, pumpkin soup, spiced porridge, stewed pear… 

Even young children can help by mixing crumble topping, kneading dough, grating apples, or adding chopped fruit or vegetables to a pan (not a hot one obviously!). They can also smell and handle jars of spices as a sensory experience. 

It’s also lovely for them to handle seasonal fruit and vegetables, learning a little bit about them as they go as you can tell them “that apple came from an apple tree” or “that pumpkin grew in the ground”. Why not open an apple to look at the star and pips inside? Frida is particularly taken with “baby pumpkins” at the moment which are a lovely size for little ones to handle. 

Bonus points for going to a farm or orchard or for growing your own! 

Play with spiced playdough

This takes all of three minutes to prepare and can be used over and over again. I just added some dried nutmeg and cinnamon (and, erm, some coriander because I was tired and thought it said cinnamon) into my usual dough mix. It smelt divine and Frida really enjoyed using “di-da’s dough”.

I’ve found that it works well to offer dough with some tools, especially for younger children. Cutlery, sticks, cooking utensils – practically anything can be used as a tool. I offered Frida a fork, spoon, serrated chip cutter and a spanner.

Read seasonal books 

What could be better than curling up under a blanket or duvet with a pile of books and a hot cup of tea just outside the reach of little grasping fingers? 

Some of our favourite autumn books are The Very Helpful Hedgehog by Rosie Wellesley (a sweet book about helping each other), Autumn by Shirley Hughes (only available to buy as part of the “nursery collection” set but I think it’s well worth it – her books are just so beautiful and I really recommend them), and Autumn by Gerda Muller (a wonderful picture-book; there are no words so it encourages discussion about the illustrations). 

Create ephemeral leaf art…

Rainbows, mandalas, faces, patterns – you name it, it can be made in leaves! At this time of year there is such an abundance of colour out there carpeting the grass, it would be rude not to take advantage of it. Creating ephemeral art out of natural materials a lovely activity to do with children. 

Frida was able to help me find leaves in the right colour but wasn’t very interested in helping me arrange them (I think there were too many birds and squirrels to look at!).

…and use leaves to craft with at home

A few simple ideas:

  • use them in collages
  • make leaf embellished glass-jar lanterns
  • do leaf rubbing with crayons (bonus points if you’re outside! You can also do bark rubbing)
  • string together simple leaf garlands 

Light candles (and blow them out)

Our summer flowers have made way for our autumn pumpkins and candles. The simple ritual of lighting candles before a meal and then blowing them out at the end can be a lovely way to mark mealtimes. Frida is working hard on her blowing skills – she can’t quite blow one out yet without help but she’ll get there.

Needless to say, although she knows that we don’t touch them because they are hot – not even “big boys” can touch them apparently! – we never leave Frida unsupervised with candles. 

How will you be making the most of this wonderful season? 

Personally I’d like to go and visit an arboretum before the leaves finish turning, and I’m planning on a lot more soups and baked fruit in the kitchen. 

Our London home featured on The Montessori Notebook

A few weeks ago the lovely Simone from The Montessori Notebook asked me if I would like to share a little bit about us and our home on her beautiful website. A big fan of her blog, I was delighted to accept.

You can read the full piece on The Montessori Notebook here. Thank you Simone for having us! 

The ultimate Montessori gift guide: infants and toddlers

I have been meaning to write this post for so long, and with the festive season fast approaching (eeeek!) I thought I should actually get to it rather than leaving it too late for this year.

Below are a selection of toys I feel pretty sure would be welcomed by any family with an interest in the Montessori ethos –  or actually, any family at all! They are well made, beautiful, mostly made of natural materials, and invite open-ended creative play. A few are classic Montessori, a few are Waldorf-inspired, a lot are Grimms (!) and a few are just classic toys which any child would love.

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I have categorised these items not by type rather than age (apart from newborn). This is because our children are all different, and tend to pay no attention to age restrictions on toys – a 13 month old and a 28 month old might well both enjoy the same item, albeit perhaps using it in a slightly different way (that’s the beauty of open-ended toys).

You will notice that I haven’t included books – I considered it, but quickly realised that this list would simply be too long if I listed all our favourites. Needless to say, books are very popular in our home, and would make a fantastic gift for any age child. 

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Rainbow bead grasper. Such a beautiful toy for babies – a sensory delight.

Mobile. There are just so many mobiles out there that I didn’t have time to go through them all! A simple design which could be hung anywhere would be a winner though. We have a beautiful paper swan mobile which Frida still likes to look at.

Interlocking disks. A Montessori classic material for babies. Really well made and a treasure for any keepsake box.

Soft baby. At 7cm these are ideal for babies who are just beginning to grasp.

Pop-up toy. A classic toy, this still gets used every day in our home! One of our all time favourite toys, and very reasonably priced. Every baby should have one!

Rattle. How beautiful is this rattle? I have a baby nephew due in the next month or so and he will definitely be receiving this at Christmas.

Natural pacifier. If you know a baby who uses a pacifier, this natural one could be a nice gift.

Soft ball. A beautiful felted ball to engage the senses, this would be used for years. I love this so much I’m considering buying one for Frida now.



Rainbow (12 piece). The iconic Grimms toy, and wonderfully open-ended.

Nesting cups. A great gift for a younger baby or toddler, and can be used for imaginative play as they get older.

Seven friends in cups. One of my favourite Grimms items, and Frida’s favourite. Great for imaginative play and colour matching.

Conical tower stacker. Fine motor, sense and order, colour, size – this beautiful stacker has it all, and is one of my go-to gifts.

Ammonite puzzle. Perhaps the other iconic Grimms toy. Younger children can use the pieces as blocks or as a room decoration, and older children can tackle the puzzle. I also love this Mandala puzzle.

Cave / stacking house. These look beautiful in a room and are brilliant for imaginative play. A bear cave? A fairy house? A hiding place for a rabbit? These types of toys are good for teaching about size and order in a natural way too.

Building sets – One Thousand and One Nights, Romanesque, Four Elements… any child would be very, very lucky to receive one of these sets.

Gnomes. These would be really lovely stocking fillers, and make a perfect gift for any age.

Fraction puzzle. Great for older toddlers.



Dolls (Anatomically correct plastic baby / Waldorf-style dolls). Frida has a very simple plastic baby doll with a soft body (similar here) and it is probably her most used toy. Dolls are so important for boys and girls alike and I think young children are really drawn to them.

Blocks (simple blocks here / beautiful natural ones here). A staple for every household.

Play silks. These are such a beautiful, open-ended material. In our home they are used as doll slings, as backgrounds for playing, as decorative materials, for hiding and playing peek-a-boo… These would make a lovely gift for a child of any age!

Wooden animals and figures (Holztiger / Ostheimer). Frida’s Holztiger wooden animals have been such a joy, for her and for us to use with her. Beautifully made, pleasant to handle, and perfect for open ended play for years to come.

Schleich animals. I am sure these are found in every Montessori home! Anatomically correct, versatile, resilient, these are amazing and make fantastic gifts. Frida has some farm animals in adult / baby pairs (great for matching activities for younger toddlers) and some sea animals which she uses in the bath.

Vehicles (cars / fire truck / fork lift / horse on wheels / aeroplane). I love simple vehicles (we have the Grimms cars and a Plan truck), but I’m sure most would go down well with toddlers.

Dolls house. I have been really lusting over some beautiful doll’s houses for Frida! These would make an incredible gift for an older toddler or child.

Farm house or stable. Ditto – an amazing gift to go with wooden or Schleich animals.

Toy kitchen (IKEA / Myriad). A classic toy for toddlers and young children, again available to suit every budget. You can also buy beautiful wooden or cloth food, play pots and pans, cutlery…

Tea set. A nice gift for children who are starting to initiate imaginary play.

Train set. A classic gift but a great one! Again, you’ll be able to find one to suit every budget. We have a cheap IKEA one for now. Setting the track up is like a puzzle in its own right too.



Object permanence box. A wonderful, classic Montessori, gift for a baby. You can see Frida using hers here when she was 10 months.

Simple peg puzzles (shapes / three circles / circle). Classic Montessori and brilliant for older babies as an introduction to puzzles. I loved using the three circles puzzle with Frida when she was younger, and it was a good way to introduce her to size.

More complex peg puzzles (shapesfarm animals / wild animals / vehicles). Good for older babies and toddlers.

Shape sorter / shape sorterimbucare box. Young children love posting, and shape sorting is great for their hand / eye coordination. The animal shape sorter I linked to would be good for older babies – Frida was bought a second hand one and loves playing with the animals.

Two-piece / multiple-piece puzzles. We are just about to buy Frida some of two-piece puzzles as I think she is ready for them. Multiple-piece puzzles would be good for older toddlers.

Magnetic fishing game. A lovely game which encourages coordination and fine motor skills. We have a cheap one my mum bought for Frida but I’ve linked to a similar one and there’s another here.

Animal dominoes. Animal matching, plus putting things in and taking them out of their box. What’s not to love?!



Stockmar block crayons. I love these so much. They smell divine as they are made from beeswax, their colours are beautiful, and they are a great shape for little hands to grasp. Putting them in and taking them out of a tin is an activity in itself! They come in sets of 8, 12 and 16.

Paint. I especially like these GALT squeeze and brush paint pens, although those looking for something more natural might prefer finger paints like these natural ones.

Coloured pencils. These would be great for little hands. IKEA do brilliant cheap, chubby ones too – pick some up if you are making a trip!

Pantone colour cards / Pantone colour puzzle book. Not strictly an art material but these look like a lovely way of learning about colours.

Colour paddles. Great for all ages, to use as a sensory item through to learning about colour mixing.



CleaninCleaning set.g set. A set which children can use to really clean alongside their parents

Clothes pegs. Do I really think any child *needs* beautiful Grimms wooden clothes pegs for practical life activities? No. But these are undeniably lovely, and could also be used to peg play silks for imaginative play.  They also sell a more traditional style of peg too.

Apron. A lovely idea for little ones who enjoy baking (this might be better for older toddlers as infants will probably find it easier to use a full-sleeve bib or art coverall).

Gardening set. Even children who don’t have access to a garden will enjoy these tools as they can be used in a sand pit, or in a local wood, or to help pot up plants on a balcony. We have this set and they are perfectly suitable as well as reasonably priced.

Puddle suit. A brilliantly practical gift for any age child. Even babies who cannot crawl yet can use a waterproof suit for sitting outdoors and exploring the earth with their hands. Frida currently uses a yellow Regatta suit but I’m sure you can find them at every price range and in every colour.



Glockenspiel. These come at all price points and in all colours and styles. Frida’s was a gift and I love that it is a “proper” adult one rather than a toy one – having a better quality of material makes a big different for instruments as the sound is so much clearer.

Hand held bells. Perfect for all ages. These are a more natural looking option.

Tambourine. Great for making lots of noise!

Shakers and maracas. A great gift for little ones who have just started grasping.

There are more beautiful instruments on the Myriad website here, any of which would be a perfect gift.



Grimms threading bead set. This set is fairly expensive for what it is, so you could probably make your own set using cheaper materials, however I think it would make a beautiful gift.

Bee hive set. A truly lovely toy which encourages fine motor skills, colour matching, and imaginative play. 

Grimms rainbow sorting bowls. These are also quite expensive so you could probably make your own set using cheaper materials. Again though, a really beautiful gift which I am sure would be treasured.

Stickers. At 18 months Frida is really into stickers, and the peeling makes for a great fine motor activity (for a younger child I would peel the backing off to make it a bit easier to begin with). I am eyeing up these lovely seasonal stickers for Frida at the moment.

Letter work book. This is a great gift for older toddlers who might be starting to show an interest in letter work. This is a lovely book with textured letters to encourage tracing.



Sheepskin rug. Perfect for a new baby to lie on next to a mirror, observing their movements. Great for an older baby who is sitting, and a lovely addition to a chair or floor in a toddler bedroom.

Crawl-through tunnel. Brilliant for infants who are just starting to crawl, for playing peek-a-boo, and for imaginative play. Can be used indoors or outdoors.

“First” slide. Frida has a very small slide which she was bought for her first birthday (similar to the one linked to though not the same) and it was a great gift – small enough that she could play on it without us hovering over her, and for her to feel a sense of accomplishment. It was also small enough that if we wanted to it could easily have been brought inside our home.

Wobbel board. We are really considering buying one of these for Frida – I love the range of options for gross motor and imaginative play. Myriad also sell a similar Curvy Board here.

Balancing beam. Great for developing a sense of balance and coordination. I can also imagine this being used as a road for play vehicles.

Micro-scooter. This 3-in-1 version is suitable from around the age of one (dependent on motor skills obviously) and will last for years to come. Frida was bought this for her first birthday and it’s been a fantastic present.

Baby walker. Great for tentative walkers who like something to hold on to whilst they toddle. Again these tend to be available at every price range.

Hammer bench. Frida didn’t have one of these but I often see them recommended for babies.

Rocking horse. These can be as expensive as your budget will stretch to, though I have linked to an IKEA rocking moose as this is what we have and Frida loves it! At 18 months she can get on and off unassisted, and really enjoys it – excellent value for money.

Gym mat. Useful for an infant who is wobbly when sitting, and great for older toddlers who are starting to use their body creatively with jumping and rolling.


I should probably point out here that none of the things I have mentioned have been sponsored, or affiliate, or anything like that.

I hope that has given you – and your family members! – some inspiration for birthdays and celebrations, as well as some ideas for toys your infant or toddler may enjoy.

Do you agree with the list? Think I’ve missed something? If you end up being inspired let me know how you get on!


Why we chose a Steiner playgroup for our Montessori toddler 

Imagine the scene. A church hall filled with loud, single-purpose plastic toys. Children of all ages running around, ignored by their childminders who sit chatting on the benches at the side. Noise. Pushing, snatching, shouting, scolding, threats. No one welcoming you, no one leading the session or seemingly in charge, no structure whatsoever. Biscuits and neon orange squash. 

This was our experience of going to a local “mainstream” playgroup, and (needless to say), we did not go twice. I found the experience overwhelming and stressful, and I suspect from her reaction that Frida felt the same way! I was so disappointed as I love the idea of a playgroup, a space where parents and children can regularly come together and share playing and snacks. 

I desperately searched for other local groups we could attend together but all seemed geared at either older or younger children, or were in some way unsuitable. 

Enter Bluebells, the beautiful Steiner playgroup we now attend once a week on a Friday morning. 

We love it. Like, really love it. 

It is so gentle and nurturing, and feels like such a positive space for both of us. There is a strong focus on allowing the children to express themselves, on seasonality (with appropriate songs, craft and decorations), and on providing an environment where children and parents alike can flourish. 

Although the children are free to play with whatever they like at whatever time (the toys are all natural and open ended, such as Stockmar crayons, wooden blocks, balls, handmade dolls, felted fairies, and a toy kitchen) there is a routine which is the same every session.

Each session is structured: 

  • Play time and herbal tea for parents as everyone arrives
  • A simple, seasonal craft for the parents such as making felt pumpkins or acorns (children can join in or play, but it’s a wonderful way to get ideas for craft at home)
  • Tidy up time
  • A snack for the children 
  • Play time where the parents are encouraged just to observe 
  • A simple puppet show and songs 

Each “transition” between activity is marked by song – a wonderful, gentle way to encourage the children onto the next thing, without jolting them away from what they are doing. Frida loves the songs and often asks for them at home so I’m desperately trying to learn them! 

A good example of the songs our teacher Jo sings can be seen in this lovely video by Sarah Baldwin. Jo even uses a harp! 

Although at times the children snatch from each other or get in each other’s personal spaces, because the playgroup is limited to eight children there is a calm atmosphere. Parents are encouraged not to intervene unless there is a need, and allow children to work through disagreements if possible. Even at such a young age – the group is 0-3 but I think the youngest in our session is around 17 months – children are amazing. 

We are hoping to homeschool Frida, but are considering sending her to the Steiner kindergarten part-time from three and a half if she would like to go (and if it fits into our family budget – it’s not free). There are sadly no Montessori schools in our area at all.

The playgroup takes place at the school, in one of the beautiful kindergarten classrooms, so the hope is that if she does end up attending, the transition will be made smoother as the building and journey and potentially classroom will all be familiar to her. 

Do you go to a playgroup with your children? What is it like? Have you found one which suits you? 

Life lately

Life lately has been full on, and the last couple of weeks have been quite tough for various reasons. Still, things are calmer now, Autumn is in full swing (my favourite season), and we’re starting to find our rhythm again. 

As ever, we still try and go outside as much as possible, and look at the wildlife and feel the weather. We recently loved the London Wetlands Centre – such a lovely place to go with young children. Frida loved watching the otters being fed, and spotting the ducks, geese, moorhens, coots, robins, magpies, tits… For a nature loving toddler it was a great hit! 

We are still sticking to the rule that there’s no bad weather, just unsuitable clothes. 

In terms of gross motor skills, Frida is definitely entering a climbing into / onto phase. She really loves climbing into or standing in things, like boxes (the smaller the better) or pulling out her books from her book stand then climbing into it. I’m also trying to discourage her from climbing on some big trunks we have and attempting to redirect her climbing efforts elsewhere! She tries to run and loves to shout “run run run” as she does so. 

She is also really, really into picking up quite heavy things and trying to move them, like her chairs or her scooter or bits of furniture. This is real maximum effort gross motor, and it’s obviously very satisfying for her. 

We’ve made a few little changes around the home. We have taken the infant seat off Frida’s Tripp Trapp chair, which means she can now climb up and down independently. She’s also started eating more food, though she shows no signs of wanting to cut back on breastmilk any time soon! She currently likes eating fish,  cheese, tomatoes (which she calls “good mato” for some reason), berries, pesto pasta, spinach, beans, lentil soup, bananas, smoothies, avocado (“ayo-dado”), yoghurt… She does not like curry. At all. 

We have also finally furnished Frida’s bedroom – I’ll share a post with details soon – and have turned the minuscule box-room playroom into a little spare room / reading room.

We are starting to see more independent play. She cooks us noodles and soup and lemon water and serves us “hot tea”. Her babies and teddies are always being put in her “sling” (or just shoved down her top). Her animals breastfeed from each other. 

She is still enjoying some of her shelf work such as knobbed puzzles and her stacking toy, as well as her art shelves, but at the moment her focus is clearly on language acquisition and movement. 

She is enjoying songs and games more and more too. Her favourite is “Hop little bunnies” (which she refers to as “nearly noon”) and she will often make her toys act it out, or lies down on the floor / street / in the playground herself and demands for us to sing it. Sometimes we all have to lie down too. 

If you follow me on Instagram you will know that we have added to our family, and recently adopted a little ginger kitten called Albus. He is lovely, but it’s been quite exhausting managing Frida and him together! She is besotted but wants to show her affection by picking him up, or shoving things she wants to “show Albus!” in his face. I often turn by back to hear her shouting “Albus run away!” and wonder what trauma she’s inflicted on him to make him run off. 

He is very needy and cuddly and likes to follow us around (he’s still very small) and he cries when we go to bed which I feel monstrous about. I’m also covered in scratches all over my chest which happens to be his favourite place to hang out (why did no one tell me how much kitten scratches itch! Argh). Still I think it’ll definitely be worth it and it should get easier soon!

The biggest thing still for us at the moment is that Frida has been speaking more and more, and putting longer sentences together. This is definitely her “thing” that she loves doing – you can see the delight on her face when she cracks a new word, and she certainly practices a lot.

It is such a joy having conversations with her, getting a window into what’s going on in her beautiful mind. She has the most amazing memory, and will pick up conversations which were started a day or two before, or will remember a trip or outing or activity. It’s so fascinating getting an insight into what is important for her. I love listening to her first thing in the morning, or in the middle of the night.

It would be easy to forget some of what she says, so here are some things for posterity that I never want to forget!

  • She has started to refer to herself as Frida (“di-da”). I love this so much.
  • Her Frida Kahlo doll is called “didi-dado”. She recently came out with “didi-dado in daddy’s pocket”  which I thought was an impressive tongue twister.
  • She loves comparing “big” and “little” things (stones in particular), going “under” things (“under mummy!”, “blueberry under Mummy’s red chair!”), pointing out “lady” and “man”, telling me things are “too hot” or “cold brrrrr”, and loves to “open” and “close” or “shut”. I find it so fascinating watching the categories of the world start to make sense for her.
  • I love it when she asks for cuddles “duddle”, or kisses (specifying if she wants a “big daddy diss” or a “little baby diss”). She’s such a loving little girl. She will sometimes tell us, unprompted, “luh du” (love you). Or, recently, “luh du home”. So sweet. 
  • She’s started using the word nice a lot. Recently when asked if she wanted to get out of bed she said “no, nice here”. She also says “that’s nice”, and “nice time”. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to know that she’s happy. 
  • She still doesn’t pronounce “w” very well. Windy is “lindy!” (said with much joy), window “lindo”, water is “ladda”, wee is “lee”…
  • She is very fixated on the concept of snatching. If you try to remove something from her she furiously says “natch!!! NATCH!” to you. She has a point. We often have to apologise. 
  • Since getting Albus she is very into the idea of picking animals up (insert harassed looking emoticon here). When we are out “Pick up wood pigeon! Frida pick up animals! Pick up ducks! DADDY, pick up duck! Pick up squirrel!” However when we offer her a ladybird or an ant or some other insect she could pick up, or an animal actually comes close to her, we get a horrified “Di-da hand! No no no no no! Up! Mummy, up!”
  • She knows the names of so many animals. I am certain she knows more than my husband. She will sit with her favourite animal book naming them all: “Beetle. Deer. Blackbird. Magpie. Other beetle. Crow. Green beetle. Mole. DON’T KNOW! *points and looks at me expectantly*” “That’s a beaver Frida”. *thinks about it for a moment then carries on* “Butterfly. Other butterfly – TWO BUTTERFLIES! Squirrel. Robin. Owl. Fox. DON’T KNOW!”
  • Speaking of “don’t know”, when Albus hides she says “Albus hiding! Don’t know Albus is. Albus? OH ALBUS?!!” It melts my heart a little bit.
  • She has cracked the plural and the possessive. She’s starting to recognise a few letters, and uses “one”, “two”, “many”, and “many mant many” to describe quantities. 
  • I love how much information she soaks up; you tell her something once (like the word “mint”) and then the next day she uses it when talking to you. Her newest word is “snug”. This morning she asked me to “fix it” and told me “not yet”. 
  • She is very fond of big words which she can’t say very well. Her current favourites are transparent (“tum-pun-dent!”), Paddington (“bun-dun-dun”) and flamingo (“da-min-do!”).
  • She really copies our ways, parroting back to us “oh I SEE!” and “oh Frida!” She has also picked up on how I call my husband if I’m in another room, and if I ask her to call daddy she calls “Saaaaaaaaaaam”. I could listen to her say “Oh dear me”, “Oh gosh”, and “Oh god” all day long (that last one I can thank my husband for). When she does something she knows she shouldn’t she makes my noise of disapproval “ah ah ah ah ahhh!”. It is interesting and telling watching your traits being copied.
  •  When she hurts herself she says “Hurt. Red cheek / head / arm.” after she grazed her knee and saw it turn red. She asks us to “kiss better”. We always agree.
  • She is absolutely obsessed with things being “not” other things. Cat’s are “Not baba’s black mog” (baba is her grandmother on my side). Her food is “Not daddy’s food… not mummy’s food”. Other houses are “Not di-da home”. My husband’s wellies are “Not bun-dun-dun’s boots!”. She loves it when you ask her an obviously wrong question and she can reply “Noooo!”.
  • She is also very into “other” at the moment. When you give her something she likes she wants it in her “other hand” too. “Other side mummy booboo” is a phrase I hear a LOT.
  • I love how she says nearly “neeeeny”, or tells us “one minute”. 
  • There’s nothing better than the triumphant sound of “I did it!” 

I’m sure I’ve missed out a lot of things. I’m just finding this stage in her development absolutely captivating and I must be better at recording the things which make us smile. 

Toilet learning at 17 months

It’s been a month now since we ditched Frida’s nappies, a good time to take stock about what has worked well for us during her toilet learning.

When Frida was ten months we tentatively took our first steps along our toilet learning journey. You can read more about it here. We basically just introduced a potty, and encouraged her to sit on it semi-regularly, whilst still using cloth nappies the rest of the time. Amazingly, she really took to this, and with no pressure or stress from us she very quickly stopped pooing in her nappies. Within a few weeks she was doing almost every poo on her potty, and by 12 months she was basically potty trained for poos (I can pretty much count on one hand the number of nappy poos since then).

For a long time we didn’t change anything. She was still wearing cloth nappies, and we kept offering the potty fairly regularly, but with no firm goal in mind other than following her lead. Gradually she started going for longer and longer without wetting her nappy, using the potty when available instead.

Using the Potette out and about

 When she was 16 months we went on holiday for two weeks, and instead of bringing a regular potty, we just used a Potette seat (buy one! They are amazing!) over “big” toilets. Again, she adapted to this really quickly. We offered her the loo more regularly, and she went for longer and longer without wetting her nappy, often only wetting one a day. She was also reliably dry during naps and nighttime (something which seems more down to luck than parenting as this seems to be in part regulated by hormones). Her language and comprehension is very good, and she was starting to tell us – sometimes – when she needed to use the loo before the event. So we thought this was as good a time as any to ditch the nappies!

As soon as we got back from holiday, and had gotten over the jet lag, we took the plunge. We didn’t do anything particularly different, we just took away the nappies, explaining that we do our wees in the loo (we stressed wees as poos have never been an issue). We are still taking her every 30-60 minutes, as well as key times such as when coming home, after waking up, and before going to bed, but she is also getting better at telling us “need loo / poo / wee”.

Seeing as she took to using the big toilet so well on holiday, we continued using the Potette at home over the big toilet rather than using the potty. The advantage of this is that we take the same seat out with us, so she has some familiarity even in strange settings. She has a step stool so that she can get up and down independently.

At home she is often commando (less laundry!) but when we’re out we’re still using reusable training pants, as they make less of a puddle in case of an accident. In the next couple of months we will progress her to “proper” knickers.

I’m not going to lie to you – the first few days there were quite a lot of accidents. But she quickly got the hang of it, and will happily tell you that we do “wees in the loo!”  We probably have an accident every couple of days at the moment which I am quite content with (and it’s still less washing than cloth nappies!). If she has an accident she will tell us.  Overall it feels like this has been a gentle and stress-free approach to toilet learning – although doing journeys with her still feel a bit tense, and the first week or two I felt a bit anxious about going too far from home!

She still needs help getting undressed and dressed independently, but I didn’t want that to put us off progressing her with her toilet learning when she is obviously in a very sensitive period for it.  For me, this journey has really felt good, as we have followed her cues and not turned it into a hugely stressful “training” exercise.

I’m very aware that the journey might not be so easy with any future children we may have, as this has been something which Frida has taken to quite naturally. That said, I do personally feel that we don’t enable toilet learning young enough in western cultures, and I wonder if this is one of the reasons many parents and children find it such a stressful process.

How have you done toilet learning? Would you do anything differently?

Thinking of starting toilet learning? You might want to buy:

  • A potty for indoor use
  • A step for your toilet
  • An infant seat for your toilet
  • Reusable training pants
  • A portable potty
  • Extra tights / trousers!

Art shelves at 16 months

Hello! I’ve been very quiet this summer – work was busy, we’ve been on holiday (post to follow once I’ve caught up!) and life in general keeps getting in the way, so I allowed myself a summer holiday from blogging. Now the leaves are starting to turn and the nights are starting to get cooler, however, my urge to blog has returned.

Frida has been really interested in art materials recently, so I thought I would share with you what she has on her art shelves. I took the bold (crazy?!) decision to allow her free access to her art materials, in order to truly “follow the child” and be as child led as possible with our activities. 

In practice this is working out ok, although her favourite art materials by far are her paints, which also happen to be the messiest. She often decides she wants to paint, so I am learning to try and let go a bit and just go with it. Pre-breakfast painting? No biggy. You’ve just had a bath and you’re clean and you want to paint? That’s great! We’ve got guests arriving soon? Ok! 

I’m trying to gently remind her that when she wants to use her art materials it’s good for her to do so 1) at the table and 2) using paper! We are slowly getting there. 

The paints we currently use are these “squeeze and brush” paints. They have easy to remove lids and there’s no need for water or brushes which make them perfect for infants and toddlers. They are lovely bold colours too which make for fab paintings. 

We also have on her art shelves:

Coloured pencils. These are simple, thick ones from IKEA I think. 

Felt tips. Ditto! She also enjoys taking the lid off the jar and putting them in and taking them out.

Stockmar wax crayon blocks. We love these. They smell so good, are a great size for little hands, and come in beautiful colours. I very much recommend them.

Stamps! Frida has still not quite got the hang of how these work yet, but she’s close. She seems to also like sticking her fingers in the ink pad…

Stickers and sticker books. To make it easier for her I have peeled the backing away from her stickers so that she can peel them off by herself. She seems to really enjoy them.

We’ve put up lots of her paintings and drawings – it’s her space after all! And she also has a blackboard with chalk available to her

I’m really enjoying watching her working with her art materials and hope that this is the start of years of creativity!