Daddy and Munchkin Blog
A ‘magical’ first Christmas

Christmas for Munchkin really began early December when the tree entered the house. He’s always been mesmerised by nature and now there was a tree standing in his living room. Then came the shiny decorations, tinsel and most importantly, the lights. Woooah!

All the rest of the lights went up around the house and then you could tell he had an air of ‘I could certainly get used to this’ although in photos it could be seen as total fear.

The look of enjoyment of this Christmas thing… or was it a look of fear?

To continue the build up of magic, the week before Christmas me and Nanny took him to a garden centre. The look of his face as we saw the singing characters, the bright flashing trees and fake snow. He had no idea what was going on, but we knew he loved it.

The three day extravaganza (Christmas Eve to Boxing day) came around but then also did the joys of hand, foot and mouth for Munchkin. What a time for this! Not only were we worried about it ruining his first Christmas experience, we also had to live in fear about catching it ourselves!

The rosy cheeks of hand foot and mouth

On Christmas Eve we went to Auntie Nicole’s and Uncle James’. He had his first round of presents. Whilst cute to watch him open then, it took forever. But still ate like a champ considering the sores around his mouth.

Christmas Day was at Natalie’s parents. Whilst Munchkin felt a little more rough with his hand foot and mouth, and we felt rough with the alcohol and lack of sleep from a late night Christmas eve, we all powered through the mountains of food and hours of games and had a bloomin’ good day as expected.

We hosted boxing day. I pre-empted by thinking how tired I get when I don’t have a baby by boxing day so suggested we split the prep and cooking with my family. This was wise. By now, Munchkin was confused, what was this all about? More wrapped toys?!

By the end of day three and after three days of hand foot and mouth, we were all exhausted. Luckily we were all off work and nursery was yet to begin so had a good few days to recover.

Thanks for reading,

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Things I’ve learnt on this journey called parenting

After 8 months of Munchkin madness here’s a few things I have learnt along the way on our parenting journey…

1: Advice is often conflicting

With a new baby comes a barrage of information. There’s the NHS website, NHS courses, private courses, staff during pregnancy, after pregnancy and post natal care. Oh and then there is other websites, apps and chat boards. Then with anything, be it weaning, sleeping, routines, or milestones there is different information on each source.

For us, we just took an overview of many sources, then just went with our hearts and did what we thought was best for our little muffin.

person with difficulty and questions in studies
Photo by Olya Kobruseva on Pexels.com

2: Enjoy every minute

Yes it’s a ballache (or a…breast ache?) waking up at 1am 3am 5am to get up for work at 6am however it doesn’t last long and before you know it, the days are over when they can fit in your arms for a nap and now it’s time weaning and rolling over or chasing them as they crawl and then run away. Time goes fast so saviour every moment, the good, the bad and the ugly.

3: Nothing can really prepare you

We skipped along to the antenatal breast feeding class and came away brimming with knowledge and confidence. Four weeks later our Munchkin arrived and it was all shot down in a day. Nothing can really prepare you. I’m not knocking the classes, but merely saying to take all the advice with a pinch of salt. Every baby is different and every baby will behave differently to the average baby in every little thing they do.

4: You don’t need everything or the best of something

If you’re left thinking ‘how am I going to afford everything I need for my baby’, one of the biggest things I have learnt is you dont need everything and you dont need the best of the best. We personally invested in a good travel system, but opted for a cheap rocker and play mat. Facebook marketplace is your friend too. There is many a bargain of baby bits on there!

5: It will get easier

You thought you had a bad day befor parenting? Oh how wrong you were. However, its always short lived. Me and Natalie had the worst first 5 days following our Munchkin’s arrival as he initially struggled to feed then forgot how to sleep, however it was just 5 short days. For every bad day there is equally a day of magic and joy.

6: Hurdles are there for leaping over

My biggest hurdle I found was that I was so used to being in my happy bubble where I would always have my wifey, family or my friends by my side. However, stepping into shared parental leave I was suddenly on my own. This made leaving the house with my Munchkin alone to go to a baby group where im the token daddy on shared leave a much bigger step than i expected.

woman in red tank top jumping on obstacle
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

But hurdles are there to be overcome. I started with small steps in getting out the house and going around the block and back home then it wasnt long before i could go anywhere. Whatever your hurdles may be, don’t fear them. Approach them slowly and you will jump across them.

Finally…

In most things there isn’t a right or wrong. There’s a choice. When it comes to parenting, choose what you want to do and how you want to raise your child. We use a Montessori style, but that may not work for everyone. We are all different because of the different ways we are raised and that what makes the world interesting.

Thanks for reading,

Daddy and Munchkin

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A Solid Six to an Experimental Eight Months

The biggest changes in the smallest amount of time.

At the start of month 6, Mummy was looking after the Munchkin, the Munchkin who lived solely off breast feeding, who played on his back, didn’t know he had feet, lived in single use plastic nappies 😔, still looked like a baby and barely knew the moves.

Then everything changed…

Daddy took charge.
Poor Munchkin. It was time to say bye to Mummy every morning as she returned to work and it became full time Daddy time all thanks to shared parental leave.

SPL? What’s that? You can read all about SPL here.

We found our feet.
What’s those little things attached to me that I can move? What are they and what can I do with them? That little look of amazement at something so unexpected for us. Closely followed by the ‘Oh! they are good for teething if I chew my own foot’. Oh the flexibility! The flexibility we all wish we still had…



We started saving the planet.
It was time to start reusable nappies and reduce that huge plastic footprint we had created. I’ve written a post about this journey. Hereeeee.

We found our look.
In month 5 the munchkin still had a cute round face and large eyes and a general baby look. Now he’s grown into what could be how he looks as a little toddler and we can see what a cute little toddler he will be. In this, he lost what was primarily daddy’s looks and is now a lovely mix of both Mummy and Daddy.


We went from laying to sitting and discovered the world.
Bang on 6 months marked Munchkin’s massive upgrade from lying in his Cosatto in pram mode to sitting up a little more in the pushchair mode, his mode of transport for the coming years. This felt like a huge milestone for me and the wifey. He was no longer our little dot and instead a much rather heavier cutiepie. My Cosatto review is here.

We started reppin’.
We became a baby representative for three companies with those cute looks starting to get noticed. One request grew to five and we chose three companies to start with. These are the still the only three companies we rep for today. Click here to see who they are and get a discount code.

We started the solids. Both in the eating and the pooping.
We started the purées and then the finger foods and the crisps and now we are three meals a day. In turn the poop went from the almost pleasant runny yellow to the smelly sticky adult-like poop. Why isn’t mummy here for these?

We started rolling, rolling, rolling, rolling.
Gone are the relaxed nappy change times as now it’s a game of which side shall I try and lay on and what is the furthest thing I can grab. This is where Mummy and Daddy regret painting part of his woodland tree directly above his changing station…

We found our voice and our scream.
The letter sounds we cheered for quickly were followed by the highest pitched screams and shouts and always at the most opportune moments like echoey changing rooms. We’ve taken to watching TV with subtitles.

We got our first chompers.
Two bottom front and three top front milk teeth. Useful for eating a whole strawberry which Daddy gave you to suck on. You like to panic us don’t you Munchkin?

We found the joy of helium
One that can only be described by a video. Find this on my Instagram below.

Thanks for reading. What were your baby’s recent developments? Comment below.

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Travel System: Cosatto Review

Before we even starting trying for a baby I’d already picked my travel system. It was all about the brand. It’s quality, it’s distinctive style and the companies passion and personality. It had to be a Cosatto.

Here is our Cosatto Review

Cosatto Review
Munchkin agrees too!

Design – Cosatto Review

Firstly the design. There are just so many dull travel systems on the market and Cosatto challenge that with their beautiful patterns. You’ll often find Munchkin staring up and sometimes chatting to the foxes 😊. It also perfectly compliments our woodland nursery design and is perfectly gender neutral for baby 2.0.

A versatile off-roader

Our Bundle

We went for the Wow, whole nine yards bundle of travel system from 0-4 years which included car seat, carrycot, i-size isofix base, changing bag and footmuff. This came with the dock car seat for the early days up to 15 kg then a toddler seat lasting all the way up to the mightly toddler size of 25 kg. Its everything you need to get around for one child up to the age of 4, though you will need a new car seat when they outgrow the dock.

The carrycot is suitable for occasional overnight sleeping, and easily fits to the same chassis which will later serve your energetic toddler. The dock and toddler seat be fitted in both directions; facing you first, then turned to ready face the world.

Out and about

In the early days, when you get to the car, the Dock simply lifts off the pushchair frame, and gently locks into place is its isofix base. This ease makes it easy to transfer from car to pushchair even when the little one is fast asleep.

Comfy I-size security

I-size car base means it’s super safe too, and the safest on the market at the time. Which made us super happy parents knowing Munchkin was always protected.

The travel system comes with complex instructions (like most products), but when these are worked out, simple systems to adjust tilt or collapse. The toddler seat comes with a detachable insert – making it easy to clean and allowing a quick change from winter mode, for the cold chills, to summer mode when the sun comes out to play.

The system comfortably fits in my average sized Ford Focus car boot, and can be collapsed with or without the seat part attached.

Price

It was at the higher end of travel systems yet still a few hundred pounds short of some of the other big brands and came with more included in the package. It’s easy to use and versatile, handling poor pavement and off-road adventures with ease. It’s easy to navigate and simple to adjust. Its everything I expected for the price.

Cosatto review – two years on…

Two years on, the system is exactly like day one (minus the car seat which was quickly grown out of due to Munchkins very long body). Now in toddler mode, it still handles a good national trust property visit, easily navigating from track to grass. The bodywork has suffered a few scratches, but it is not meant to be damage proof, so that is expected. The easy to clean covers look just like day one however.

If I bought another travel system, I’d still buy the Wow bundle again!


Overall, I love the brand and this travel system is fantastic. But when it comes to buying your travel system go with your heart, as we found Cosatto purely based on design.

Oh and also wait for the sales! Over nine months of pregnancy you are likely to go through three sale periods at least 😁. There’s no point in paying more than you have to, just make sure you can return it, just in case.

Thanks for reading,

Daddy Reviewed, Munchkin Approved,

Daddy and Munchkin.

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The Wonderful World of Weaning

Food glorious food

Just before Munchkin’s 6 month milestone we started weaning. The wonderful world of weaning that is.

From the off you could tell he loved food when he grabbed the first spoonful and took it to his mouth. This surprised us both. Though, it was shortly followed by a face of disgust.

One month later after the taste-test phase we are on to three meals a day. Generally porridge for brekky, a puree for lunch with a crisp and some fruit to suck on and something with more solids for dinner.

Yummy Ella’s kitchen melty crisps which Munchkin immediately took to.

We have tried and tested many baby foods and making our own purees but when it comes to a baby food company, the standout for us is Ella’s kitchen.

This is for two reasons above the good taste; organic ingredients and our Munchkin’s preferences .

For starters, home freezing. Ella’s kitchen purées are generally freezeable. This was a necessity for us when starting out, as our Munchkin would only have less than a quarter of a pouch.

Secondly, all their packaging is recyclable as part of their Ellacycle scheme via Terracycle. (I’ll praise and tell you more about Terracycle in a future post 😊 which you will find here, but if you want to do more here’s a handy dandy link).

The next weeks’ dinners

I also thought that there is a lot of contradictory information out there on weaning. So what we did is look over that advice and follow what we felt at the time. For example with solids we experimented early and stepped back if it was too soon.

Overall, my main piece of advice would be to enjoy it. It’s messy and can be a worry but it’s fun to discover what your baby likes and seeing them cover themselves in food like our Munchkin in the gorgeous shot below.

Thanks for reading,

Daddy and Munchkin.

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Shared Parental Leave (the reason I started to blog)

Shared parental leave is the UK government initiative to give the Mother’s or adoptive parent’s partner an opportunity to share the leave entitlement.

For a Daddy like me, it can take the standard two weeks of Paternity leave up to a the maximum maternity leave, by sharing the hours between both parents.

What are you entitled to?

With Shared Parental Leave, you can share 50 weeks of leave, and 37 weeks of pay, similar to that of maternity leave.

It begins by opting to end maternity leave and then the remaining leave can be shared between both parents. Parents can either take the time off together or apart. Taking it together however, means half the total time off as it tots up for both parents.

At this point whomever takes the leave moves to Shared Parental Leave pay, which is equal to the lowest level of statutory maternity pay (SMP) at £151.97 a week, or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower).

shared parental leave begins
Bye Mummy, its Daddy time!

Our plan

For us, we decided that the wifey, Natalie, would take the first 6 months and I would take the final 3. This meant we would get the same pay entitlements as when we move to shared parental pay as it is equal to the statutory maternity pay, which is what Natalie would be receiving in these three months. It also meant Natalie returned to work at an ideal time for her career at the start of a new teaching term.

Our experience with Shared Parental Leave

The process was simple, as long as your employer agrees. There’s is just lots of calculations and forms to complete.

In September 2019 I began SPL and my three months of leave and it’s fair to say it was a rocky start. Munchkin was fully breast fed for the first 6 months. So when I took over at 6 months, this also meant the beginning of bottle feeding, the start of weaning and a change from Mummy to Daddy. This was, naturally, a huge change and the resulting Munchkin bottle hunger strike was a fair response. But we made it through…

Regarding SPL, the whole process can be a tad confusing and, as per anything like this, there is a lot of forms to complete. At the time of writing it was also a new-ish process that naturally that comes with unknowns. Hopefully that has improved since 2019 however.

If you have any questions feel free to ask me and I’ll try my best to answer them. or visit https://www.gov.uk/shared-parental-leave-and-pay.

Why I write this blog

Some of the forms didn’t even exist in my company when I applied for SPL, and because it was atypical way of taking leave to traditional parental leave, I realised we were doing something different. I also though it would be good to give a Daddys perspective, of being the sole nappy changer, entertainer, walker, feeder and rhyme timer and blogging kept my brain cells alive, when singing twinkle twinkle little star for the 1000th time.

and someone was thrilled to get more time with Daddy

Thanks for reading,

Daddy and Munchkin


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