• Five Fun Activities for Motor Skill Development

    Babies and toddlers learn and develop everyday through play by experiencing new textures, sounds, colours, patterns and tasks. You don’t need to buy expensive toys in order to encourage their development. There are tonnes of fun games and activities you can play with your little one, using items from around the home. Something as simple as a saucepan and wooden spoon makes an excellent drum kit or can be used for cooking roleplay!

    To help develop these skills through play, we’ve come up with five fun activities that will help to develop fine motor skills whilst playing at home.

    1. Colouring

    Colouring pictures and being creative with stickers or stamps are not only an essential part of arts and crafts, but they are key for your child’s fine motor development too! If you search ‘line drawings for children’ on the internet, there is a huge resource of free colouring-in designs to chose from, which you can print out at home.

    Keep broken crayons for slightly older toddler and pre-schoolers! Because colouring with small, broken crayons encourages your child to hold the crayon correctly i.e. in a pincer / tripod grip between thumb and forefingers rather than in a ‘palmer’ or fist grip. Small pieces of chalk and the pencils used on mini-golf courses also work well. No matter what you use, this activity is a fun way to challenge your child.

    2. Sticking

    Playing with stickers is another great activity for encouraging fine motor skill development, as it requires finger and thumb coordination to peel off the stickers.   Little ones can get creative by decorating a large piece of paper stuck to a wall, a scene quickly drawn by mum (see my recent attempt below!) or cut out shapes to decorate – stars work really well. For slightly older children drawing thick wiggly lines on a large sheet of paper and asking them to stick dots side by side along it, is a great activity that will keep them occupied whilst at the same time developing concentration and coordination.

    3. Stamping

    Stamping is another great way to open up the hand and develop finger strength and control. A great fun and cheap method is the good old potato stamp, where you cut a potato in half and carve out a pattern or shape on the flat, freshly cut surface, before letting your little one dip it in paint and stamp to their heart’s content. Alternatively, you can buy stamp sets for a few pounds online or from larger supermarkets, if you want a quick activity without mess of paint!

    4. Play Dough

    Play dough has been a childhood favourite for decades. Not only is it great fun, but handling play dough also develops some important skills. Squeezing, stretching, pulling and shaping all helps to strengthen finger muscles, and touching it is a valuable sensory experience. You can make play dough at home and follow the link for a great long lasting, homemade recipe: https://theimaginationtree.com/best-ever-no-cook-play-dough-recipe/

    5. Pasta Necklaces

    Stringing together necklaces is a great way for your child to be creative while working on their hand-eye coordination and developing ability to manipulate objects. The best way to start is with thick string and large pieces of tube-shaped dry pasta. Over time you can reduce the thickness of the string and use smaller pasta shapes to make it more complex. This is a great activity for both boys and girls.  Alternatively, you can swap string for pipe cleaners in order to create fun shapes. Another option is to paint the pasta and let it dry before assembling to make it more colourful.

     

    The clever and innovative design of Doddl cutlery helps develop children’s fine motor skills whilst they are learning to feed themselves. These skills are essential for a wide variety of tasks such as writing and drawing, using scissors, doing up buttons and any task that involves coordination and control between the thumb and fingers.

     

    Good luck and happy making!!

  • A sizzling summer…

    Well it may not have been the hot summer we had all hoped for, but here at Doddl HQ we have had a summer sizzler!                                               

    Whilst we had thought we may take some time to enjoy the summer sun, we made the most of the bad weather and got busy with some new and exciting things we want to share with you…

    It’s a Podium of Awards for Doddl

    We are delighted that we have been awarded an entire podium of awards so far this year! We kicked off our awards season by winning a Bronze award in Bizziebaby’s Feeding Bowls and Cutlery Category in July. This was followed by a Gold in the Lovedbyparents awards on 21st July in the Best Innovative Feeding Product category.  To complete our podium, we were delighted to receive a Silver award for Toddler Cutlery in the Best Baby and Toddler Gear Awards last month. We are over the moon with our haul of awards this season and Doddl Cutlery is truly multi-award winning this year!

    Doddl goes Worldwide

    Since our launch last year, Doddl cutlery has already sold into 28 countries worldwide. With so much demand from overseas, we made our debut at Kind und Jugend -Europe’s largest trade nursery fair in September, which was held 15 – 18th September. It was a great show for us and we even got to meet Touker Suleyman from the BBC’s Dragon’s Den! We received huge interest from international distributors and retailers, and we hope that our customers will be soon be able to by from retail outlets in other countries!

    Doddl Cutlery endorsed by Baby Led Weaning Cookbook!

    From the 1st September, Doddl became an official partner of the Baby Led Weaning Cookbook app founded by Natalie Peall. They have over 100,000 followers on social media and their BWL recipe app is ranked in the top 10 for lifestyle app downloads! Doddl cutlery is the natural progression from Baby Led Weaning as it supports little ones self-feeding behaviour and continues to develop the pincer grip as well as coordination and control. To celebrate our endorsement, BLW Cookbook are running a competition to win a set of Doddl Cultery and a free download of their BLW Cookbook App – for more details please visit @babyledweaningcookbook

    And we aren’t stopping there….

    We are set for an active autumn, with the first stop being our launch into Boots!

    We are excited to announce that from next month, Doddl Cutlery will be stocked by Boots.com. For more news and announcements, including our official launch date with Boots.com, please keep an eye on our Facebook and Insta pages @doddlcutlery.

    That’s it for now! Look forward to catching up again next month.

  • The Great Bank Holiday Escape – Travelling with Toddlers

    Travelling with  a Toddler

    With many of us making the most of the last week of August with the great Bank Holiday Weekend escape, Rosie, one of the founders of Doddl shares top tips for making life easier when travelling with a toddler.

    Snacks – Take plenty of them! Ideally ones that don’t make too much mess! Raisins, bread sticks, crudities such as cucumber sticks are ideal, and don’t forget drinks!

    Toys – a small selection of toddler’s favourite small toys.   Cards, books, etcher-sketch are ideal – basically anything that doesn’t make too much mess!  It is worth investing in a lap activity tray with edges, especially the ones designed for car seats.  These are great to allow toddlers / pre-schoolers to busy themselves with puzzles, drawing and games and helps keep everything contained. All singing all dancing lap trays or simply a baking tray, plastic box lid or a high chair tray will do the job!

    Naps – it’s not always possible, but if you can try to time long car journeys or flights to coincide with your little one’s normal nap routine, it will make the journey much easier for you and your toddler, and will help ease meltdowns and cranky children when you reach your destination!

    Technology – I know it is frowned upon to stick your child in front of a tablet or handheld device to keep them quiet. I even found myself judging parents that did this before I had children of my own! As a parent on a packed flight, there is nothing worse than a screaming child, and as a parent you can feel everyone glaring at you to keep control of your little monster. So if Peppa Pig or the Teletubbies is going to keep them quiet and entertained just go with it and don’t torture yourself by resisting! An hour or two of extra screen time isn’t going to ruin them for life and it may be your lifesaver! And don’t forget to download their favourite programmes before you travel. Audio books and nursery rhyme playlists are also a great way keep little ones entertained on long journeys.

    Make flying easier…

    Try to travel light! Easier said than done with a toddler! If you can take one max sized cabin bag with all your essentials it is so much easier than battling with a toddler and armfuls of hand luggage.

    Give them their own bag to wheel, carry or pull – they will love copying you pulling your cases along, but be mindful of the point above as you will end up carrying it onto the plane! Trunki and Litelife bags are fantastic and often come with straps so you pull along or keep hold of your toddler –  great in a packed airport!

    For long haul flights, you can sometimes book a bulk head seat with travel cot or seat. On BA the travel seats are like baby bouncers and it is worthwhile taking a large muslin, small sheet or thin blanket to lay on the seat before placing your infant on it – as they tend to be well used! Also take a light blanket to tuck over the top.

    For landing.  When flying give your child something to suck – bottle, breast or dummy to regulate their ear pressure, especially when starting the descent to land as the pressure change from 8,000ft (normal cabin pressure) to the ground is significant, especially the last 2000ft. Swallowing helps to regulate babies and toddlers ear pressure.

    Lastly, relax and enjoy…

    We know how stressful journeys can be with little ones in tow.  Just remember there are many of us going through the same stresses and strains and the end gain of some special time with your family will be well worth the effort!

    Happy Bank Holiday!

  • Should I count calories for my children?

    You can’t read the news without seeing that obesity in children has reached epidemic levels. In a study undertaken in November 2016, childhood obesity among 4-5 year olds hit 9.3%, rising slightly on the year before.

    Lots needs to be done to tackle the problem of obesity in childhood, such as more restrictions on junk food advertising and encouraging more physical activity, but should counting calories be something to do for children?

    In a word, no.

    If you are concerned that your child may be overweight, it can be helpful to track what your child is eating, but more to make sure that they are getting all of the nutrients that they should be.

    Keeping a food diary can help you to see what your child is actually eating against a healthy diet.

    Worries that your toddler is ‘a bit chubby’ should not be a concern! Making sure that they eat a balanced diet with a healthy dose of exercise will usually mean that your child is consuming and burning what they should do. They are still growing and learning so much on a daily basis, and they need lots of lovely energy to do that.

    Restricting any food groups (other than those high in sugar or fat) will lead to lower energy levels, which can be dangerous to your child’s development, and also lead to a lot of “I’m hungry” whinging!

    So swap sweet foods such as biscuits and cakes for low salt, low sugar and more wholesome alternatives such as fresh smoothies packed full of fruit and veggies to keep your little ones topped up.

    Of course, the odd treat here and there is allowed too, as long as these remain extras and are not substitutes for your child’s main food.

    This is a broad guideline of a child’s calorific needs:

    Never let your kids calories count – it’s not necessary! But a broad guide is this…​

    Age:
    1 -3: 1,230 for boys, 1,165 for girls
    4 -6: 1,715 for boys, 1,545 for girls
    7 -10: 1,970 for boys, 1,740 for girls
    11 -12: 2,200 for boys, 1,845 for girls

    Find out more about being food smart at Change 4 Life .

  • bubble fun Activities to entertain a toddler

    Help, I have a toddler!

    Did you wake up one morning and think…OMG where did this toddler come from?

    Were you caught up in the blur of feeding routines and nappy changes that before you knew it, a game-changing toddler appeared?

    We are not for a second trying to suggest that looking after a young baby is easy, just that they usually stay put. They can be relatively easily placated.

    A toddler? Well, let’s just say it’s little wonder parents of toddlers are in bed not long after their little ones. Or much later as they put their house back together!

    bubble funIf you thought the baby phase was tiring, the toddler phase will have you reminiscing of those days you used to just sit down. In silence.

    As toddlers discover their increasing independence, they will understand a lot of what they’re hearing but won’t always be able to communicate what they want. So when it comes to meal times, this can be particularly challenging!

    Talking, singing, reading exploring, eating, playing indoors and outdoors, napping, creating, getting messy, helping…these are all things that will help stimulate, educate and entertain your toddler. Everything you do is an experience.

    playdoh

    An essential tip – allow twice as long for everything! Everything takes longer than it ever did before.

    Here’s some ideas to help keep you going through the toddler years….

    • Chores can be fun. Don’t think of these things as chores to be done before you go and play. Chores are play! Helping strip beds (make time for bouncing, hiding in covers, playing superman with pillow cases, pillow fights, snuggles, cuddles and tickles).
    • Washing baskets make great cars. If it keeps your little one entertained for 5 minutes, embrace it!
    • They can join in with washing up. Once you’ve got the pots and pans cleaned, get you toddler to stand on a stool and wash their plastic plates and Doddl cutlery. Always have an old floor towel ready to wipe up inevitable spills quickly.
    • Creative play is fun. Playdoh, crayons, paints, spaghetti hoops and jelly in the bowl – all helps develop fine motor skills.
    • Play in the bath. Take up plastic tubs, pots, watering cans, sponges, plastic cars. Anything can be fun to play with!
    • Do something outside everyday. Plant something, go to the park, take a walk, play with ride-ons, kick a football, go to the beach, chalk on the patio or drive, play in a sandpit, wash the car, post a letter, walk to the shop, feed the ducks, kick a ball, rake the leaves, build a snowman, go for a picnic, go for a boat ride, a bike ride, blackberry picking, collect wild flowers, leaf collecting and make a collage, learn to cross the road safely, go for an ice cream!
    • Keep one of your kitchen cupboards child-friendly. They can open it, empty it and play with child-friendly utensils again and again.
    • A box of dress ups is always fun. Don’t throw away old hats and scarves – toddlers love dressing up in fun items. It really pushes their creativity and imagination.
    • Rotate their toys. It stops them and you getting bored. It’s always fun to rediscover long-forgotten toys.
    • Always have entertainment and food options in your handbag. A car, a doll, snacks, drinks, a notebook and pen.
    • Playdates are essential for toddlers and adults.  Invite friends over and any parents you get to know from nurseries or play groups. It will keep you sane and help your child to learn to share.

    As you can see, having a toddler means that you need to rethink situations and how you approach them!

  • Vegetable planting to teach your child where food comes from.

    Planting some of your own veg is a great way to get kids engaged in what they eat.  It’s fun, tasty and truly organic.  It’s also not overly difficult (our favourite kind of activity!) and outside, so any mess can be left at the back door.

    You can plant in anything too so you don’t need loads of equipment.

    You’ll need…

    1. A container of any kind – hunt around your garden for old pots not used anymore
    2. Soil/fertiliser – available at most supermarkets or garden centres
    3. Stones (for drainage) – get some from your garden
    4. Plant food – just like us, they need to eat to grow

    And some really simple instructions:

    • Put stones at bottom of container
    • Add soil
    • Add seeds
    • Water
    • Feed weekly (or when you remember)

    Here is a handy guide to get you started…

    Carrots

    When to sow: April

    When ready: September

    How to tend: Use sandy soil (add sand to pots)

    Space needed: 20cm between seeds

    Depth of soil: ½ cm

    Peas

    When to sow: March/April

    When ready: June/July

    How to tend: Use loam soil 

    Space needed: 5-10cm between seeds

    Depth of soil: 6cm

    Potatoes

    When to sow: March/April (sow in a grow bag and invest in some canes)

    When ready: 3–4 months after sowing

    How to tend: Lots of manure!

    Space needed: 25cm between seeds

    Depth of soil: 10cm

    Tomatoes

    When to sow: March/April (sow in a grow bag and invest in some canes)

    When ready: July/August 

    How to tend: Sun, ideally a green house!

    Space needed: 30-40cm

    Depth of soil: 1cm

    When to sow: April/May (get plants from garden centre) – put straw under fruit to stop rotting before it ripens

    When ready: June/July/August 

    How to tend: Well drained soil and sunlight

    Space needed: 10cm

    Depth of soil: 8cm

    Simply harvest when ready. It’s a Doddl – give it a go!

  • Keeping track of your weaning journey

    When your baby was all shiny and new we’re sure that you had times where you couldn’t remember what time you’d last changed their nappy, given them a bottle or put them down for a nap.

    There’s so much to remember that it happens to the best of us!

    So when it comes to introducing solids, you’ll be trying so many different foods it’s understandable that you might also forget what your little one had eaten, how much had actually gone in (and not on the floor), and whether they’d liked it.

    As busy working Mums ourselves, we know how overwhelming this can be, and that’s when we’re lucky enough to be getting a bit more sleep!

    3 kids

    To combat this, we kept scrappy notes that we quickly lost or that got covered in mushed up broccoli.

    We also tried various apps on our phones to help us track patterns, but inevitably found that this led to getting easily distracted on social media instead of actually making the notes. As advocates of ‘no-tech’ at the dinner table, we found that this began contradicting our values for family mealtimes.

    Enter the tiddler weaning tracker, from tiddlers & nippers.

    Born out of exactly the same experience, tiddlers & nippers journals started by trying to keep some order following the arrival of a new baby. The inventors couldn’t find a physical product that combined functional format and good design to do the job, so they came up with their own range of baby and toddler tracking journals.

    In a world where technology is beginning to take over every aspect of our lives, there is a resurgence of making notes and appreciating stationery. Journaling is very on trend at the moment as a way to bring structure and routine, as well as to record and keep special memories that we might otherwise forget.

    The tiddler weaning tracker does just this. Keeping a journal of baby’s transition from milk to solids, with space for logging each new taste and reaction whilst baby is being weaned, as well as sleeping pattern, feeding routine, and nappy changing frequency helps to bring order to the chaos that can sometimes ensue with babies and toddlers!

    We think this idea is a great partner to our educational children’s cutlery as part of your weaning toolkit, allowing you to keep a handy record of what your little one eats, likes, dislikes and also any changes in sleeping pattern or fluid intake.

    So we thought we’d buddy up with tiddlers & nippers to give you the chance to win a set of our Doddl children’s cutlery, and one of their clever Weaning Trackers.

    Enter below for your chance to win with Doddl and tiddlers & nippers

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

  • Pancake Day ideas for toddlers

    We love a good pancake.

    Delicious, easy to make, and usually a hit with the whole family, pancakes are also brilliant for baby-led weaning and little toddler hands too. Continue Reading

  • Some tips for handling food and toddlers!

    As busy working parents ourselves, we know that unpredictable toddlers and their food habits can be, well, challenging to say the least.

    Just as you think they have them all figured out, they go and throw a spanner in the works and change their minds all over again! And usually, just as you’ve stocked up on whatever their ‘favourite’ thing was (this week).

    We thought we’d put our heads together and share with you a few hacks we’ve learned along this wild journey of parenting when it comes to getting toddlers to just eat their tea…

    • Master the three t’s – Taste, texture and temperature are all really important when it comes to fussy eaters. Anything slightly different can cause a meltdown, so make sure it’s all mixed thoroughly to help prevent fussiness.
    • Do add spices – Wse a hint of chilli, curry powder and other spices to your cooking to get them used to eating foods with flavour that’s just sugary sauces.
    • Go easy on the salt – In fact, avoid it completely if you can.
    • Leave food prejudices at the door – Don’t influence your kids by telling they will or won’t like something – let them try and see what they like.
    • Don’t mention healthy – Don’t focus on food being healthy. Present it. Enjoy it. Eat it.
    • There are no alternatives on the menu – Make sure they realise that this is dinner – there is no substitute. No child EVER deliberately starved themselves. Bring forward the next meal if they refuse. Remember sometimes they might simply not be hungry.
    • Tickle tastebuds by presenting food in fun ways –  Make food into a funny face, separate it by colour, provide pots of fruit or cheese, cut sandwiches into interesting shapes etc.
    • Make eating a game – Ask, “can you eat like a… dinosaur… a rabbit… a tortoise” etc.
    • Try and eat together at a table – No TV or screens for anyone. It’s a good habit and gives you time as a family to talk, to have fun, ask questions and more.
    • Try again with previously rejected foods – Keep putting it on the plate and encourage small tastes – they may end up actually enjoying it. Did anyone really like mushrooms when they were small?
    • Offer limited choices – Carrots or peas, broccoli or beans?
    • Be prepared – Fill the fruit bowl so there’s always a healthy choice at hand.
    • Get the kids involved in food prep – Kneed pizza dough and freeze in individual balls. Kids love making their own pizzas and can use our cutlery to help chop up the toppings too.
    • Keep them hydrated – Have a jug of water on the table at dinner times and offer water before juice!

    What hacks have you discovered over the years?

     

     

  • healthy eating Healthy eating: Easy midweek family recipes

    So here we are; January.

    After the fun and frolics of the festive season, it’s time to put down the boxes of chocolates, start making ‘to do’ lists, and get your family’s healthy eating back on track.

    We have pulled together a few ideas of easy midweek family recipes to give your healthy eating goals a kickstart for the New Year.

    Meatballs and pasta – this quick and easy option is suitable for all the family and a firm favourite in our house.

    Chicken & sweetcorn egg-fried rice – super cheap and can be adapted for even the youngest tastebuds, this is packed full of veggies for extra goodness.

    Crunchy fish fingers – ditch the frozen options and whip up this low fat healthy alternative.

    Chicken curry – January doesn’t have to mean the end of food with a bit of taste! This chicken curry is child-friendly, and if you want to use a reduced fat coconut milk, you can make it more healthy too.

    Field, flat and wild mushroom tagliatelle – Grown up dining that only takes 15 minutes to rustle up – perfect for veggies too.

    One pot minestrone soup – This is the perfect comfort food and really simple to tweak according to what veggies you have in.

    Lean turkey burgers – Suitable for bigger plates, but can be made up in smaller sizes for little hands too. Serve with salad.

    Bon appétit and a happy 2017 to you all!