Baby & Me Magazine, my favourite childhood items

childhood favourites at Baby & Me Magazine
This month’s issue of Baby & Me Magazine features the best and most stylish of children’s products in the 2014 Style Awards. They handed out awards to winners based on their criteria of iconic design, good looks and innovation (you can see the winners here).

This month they asked me to round up some of my personal favourite children’s products — the products we have used and loved in our family, ones that I hope to keep forever and pass down to my grandchildren. The products shown above are a few that made the cut. You can find my column in this month’s issue here.

x Courtney

 

Our favourite travel games in Baby&Me Magazine

This month’s issue of Baby&Me Magazine is all about travel, which of course is a topic that excites us all! You’ll find a selection of family-friendly holiday destinations to kick-start your summer holiday planning, plus stylish travel essentials, holiday packing ideas and a fashionable photoshoot in sunny Palm Springs!

In this month’s issue we’ve rounded up five of our favourite travel games that are both easy to pack and guaranteed to entertain. Click over to the Baby&Me website to see our picks, or you can read the full digital version here.

x Courtney

My Favourite Things at Baby&Me Magazine

We’re really excited to announce a new partnership with Baby&Me magazine which has us contributing a little column in their magazine each month and rounding up a selection of cute products to fit our topic. Baby&Me is a super stylish, monthly glossy which keeps London parents updated on all the latest news, fashion, design and other interesting lifestyle topics. We are thrilled to be contributing each month and thought it would be fun to share our selection here with you as well.

In this month’s issue I wrote about getting out in our garden with the kids, sowing vegetable seeds and enjoying the onset of spring. I also rounded up some cute fruit & veg products I’m loving right now. Here they are:

You can read the digital version of this month’s issue here. You can also download the Baby&Me app from iTunes here. And lastly, you can now buy the magazine at newsagents around town.

I’m already excited for next month’s contribution! Stay tuned…

x Courtney

Five second rule

In my house, one of the first rules my children will quote is the famous ‘five second rule’. It is the rule that, if any food has fallen on the floor in the kitchen, it can possibly still be eaten f it is picked up very quickly.  (They learned very quickly that the five second rule did not apply to the lovely streets and boulevards of Paris!)

I always thought the five second rule was a complete myth and just a good excuse for tired parents not to have to go fetch yet another cookie or throw away a sandwich with just one bite in it, but turns out I was possibly wrong. Scientist at a British University have found proof that the five second rule could actually be true! I love it!

Now I am wondering, is the five second rule just a European thing? Or even maybe just an English thing?

- Emilie

The Digital Neighbourhood event in Athens, Greece

group_final_logoOne of the things I love about our job, is the wonderfully supportive online community in which we work, and the amazing friendships we have developed over the years. Bloggers (and professionals working in the children’s retail world) are such a friendly, supporting group of people, I feel it makes such a difference from the often competitive and political atmosphere in other fields of business.

One of the friends we have made over the years, is the lovely Pepi Nikolopoulou from the Greek online boutique and blog Alice on Board. Pepi wrote a Weekend Getaway about her beautiful city, Athens, a few years ago, and we’ve stayed in touch ever since.

Pepi is one of the five talented women who are organising the “Digital Neighborhood” event which will take place for the second time this year in Athens this coming Friday and Saturday. (She’s the cute blonde girl in the photo above!) The concept of this year’s event is “Growing towards the Future”, and it is open to everyone who is interested in creating a blog, would like to improve their existing blog, strengthen their Social Media presence, or is simply looking for inspiration. There will be tons of professionals walking around, like photographers, Social Media experts, journalists, portal owners, and bloggers of course, who will be there to offer knowledge, to exchange ideas, and to inspire with their success stories.

I’m so excited to be representing Babyccino Kids at the Digital Neighbourhood event this Saturday! I will be talking about how Babyccino Kids evolved from a friendship, to a blog, and then to an international business. I’ll speak about our growth, the structure of our business, our roles within the company, and our plans for the future. It will be so fun to share our story, and I’m so excited to meet some of our Greek readers and to learn from the other professionals at the event. And of course, I’m extremely thrilled at the prospect of hanging out with Pepi this weekend in her lovely city of Athens!

xxx Esther

The new science of siblings

In my recent home tour and interview over on Design Mom where I talk about my kids and my desire to raise children who love each other, a reader left me a comment suggesting I read this article from Time Magazine about the importance of siblings. I clicked over to the article and have since read it twice. I find it so fascinating, and it really rings true in my experience of growing up in a big family with my many siblings, and also with my experience of raising my own children. We are truly shaped and defined not only by our parents and our genetics, but in a large part by our siblings. The article reads:

From the time they are born, our brothers and sisters are our collaborators and co-conspirators, our role models and cautionary tales. They are our scolds, protectors, goads, tormentors, playmates, counselors, sources of envy, objects of pride. They teach us how to resolve conflicts and how not to; how to conduct friendships and when to walk away from them. Sisters teach brothers about the mysteries of girls; brothers teach sisters about the puzzle of boys. Our spouses arrive comparatively late in our lives; our parents eventually leave us. Our siblings may be the only people we’ll ever know who truly qualify as partners for life.

Whenever I think about the importance of siblings and the invaluable lessons they learn from each other, I think about bath time in our family. I think about how my four kids have to cram into one bath tub, how they have to learn to share the space and take up their fair share (usually, they first discuss their placement in the bathtub – who’s turn it is to sit closest to the faucet, etc.). Then they discuss the bath toys and who gets to play with each toy. Then, when it comes time for them to rinse their hair, they all have to make room for each person to lie backwards and soak their heads – they all shift to one side to allow their siblings to rinse their hair. They pass the shampoo. They take turns with the bath toys. And then, of course, there’s the debate about who has to get out first, who gets the biggest towel, etc.  If those are not valuable life lessons, I don’t know what are!!

Anyway… this is, of course, my own experience with having four children, and I am very aware that not everyone chooses (or is able) to have more than one child, so their experiences might be different (maybe in that case, they have cousins or friends who shape them?!). I’m not arguing the case of having many children, but mostly just observing what I see and know in my own family, and what I know from the family I come from. I really do believe that my own children are very much shaped by one another, and in a way I think it takes a tiny bit of pressure of me as a mother. Maybe it is my way of justifying our own family size and dynamics?

Please share your thoughts! Do you think siblings play an important role in shaping who we become?

x Courtney

The Great Sleep Obsession

I recently stumbled upon this great article, written by Sarah Ockwell-Smith, about the unrealistic expectations we have of babies and their sleeping behaviour.  She writes about how modern day society has created such an obsession with babies sleeping ‘through the night’, and about how sleeping through the night is not a reality for most children until they are 2 years of age.

After reading this article once (to myself) and a second time (to my husband), I must say I feel not only a sense of relief that I’m not the only mother on the verge of a nervous breakdown (!!)…  I also found it incredibly reassuring to know that my baby (with her unreliable sleep habits) is totally normal.

Following on my last post about sleeping with your baby, Marlow is now 10 months old and still not sleeping through the night. She starts the night in her own bed, and usually wakes up around 3 or 4am when I bring her into our bed. Most of the time she will go back to sleep in my arms, while sometimes she needs to be nursed back to sleep. In any case, she is certainly not sleeping through the night. Not even close. And according to this article, it’s totally normal and natural.

Anyway, I found it to be a really reassuring article and thought I would share with you to hear your thoughts. What do you think? Do we have unrealistic expectations of our babies? Should we relax a bit more and just simply enjoy this precious time when they’re so little? Or… do you happen to have a strict schedule with your baby that works for you? Do you have a baby who does, in fact, sleep through the night? (If so, please share your secrets!) : )

xx Courtney

p.s. Photo is of sweet baby Casper, taken from Esther’s Instagram feed.

An interview on the CultureBaby blog

CultureBaby is a global children’s boutique which offers a darling selection of children’s products from all over the world. I love their search feature which allows you to shop by region so you can find cute goodies from Africa, India, South America, Asia, etc.

Each month on their blog they feature a new ‘CultureBaby mum’ – a global mum raising kids in a different part of the world. I was so thrilled to be asked to answer a few questions for this interesting series. You can see my interview here and read other great interviews here.

xx Courtney

Breastfeeding in public?

This weekend I was sitting in a park in Paris with Courtney and Emilie, feeding Casper. The three of us were talking about breastfeeding in public, and Courtney then took this photo of Casper and me which started up a discussion: Could we post this photo? Would we post this photo?

When I had my first baby I was much more shy about my boobs than I am today. Yes, I would breastfeed in public, but first I would find a dark corner somewhere and I made sure my boob and baby were covered with a scarf completely. I had the feeling breastfeeding in public was frowned upon, and it should be done in private.

Now, 8 years and 4 babies later, I don’t feel that I have to cover myself completely anymore. I’m so much more comfortable! I feel I am breastfeeding my baby, which is a very natural and beautiful thing to do, and I think I shouldn’t have to be shy about it. I also have the feeling that these last years, breastfeeding in public has become a bit more acceptable; people are getting used to it now and the general feeling about it seems to be more relaxed. Which is so great!

So, I decided to be bold and bare (!) and post a photo of me feeding Casper in a public park in Paris. Is it too much you think? Do you breastfeed in public? Would you? I would love to hear your thoughts about it.

xxx Esther

PS Joanna Goddard, who just had her second baby (a beautiful little boy called Anton), wrote a great post about breastfeeding in public here.

PPS Following up on our discussion in the park, Emilie sent me this link — a fabulous poem by Hollie McNish which helped me decide to indeed post this photo here. Nobody should have to feed her baby in a public restroom.

The man behind the Bugaboo

I read this article today and thought it was really interesting. Courtney, Esther and I all had/have Bugaboos and I actually never thought about how much design, engineering and development goes into designing a push chair! So funny thinking that someone spent years coming up with a concept that I take for granted…

I also thought it was interesting that the Bugaboo was originally designed for men, which is such a clever approach to the buggy market. I will never forget buying our first buggy before Coco was born. We went to this baby section in a big department store in London. In all the sections the women were in charge: picking up breast pumps, outfits and furniture. All sections, apart from the buggy section. There, the dads suddenly came into their own and were testing wheels and suspensions and velocity of all of these buggies, as if they were cars. Hilarious!

- Emilie

‘As They Grow’ on The Littlest Blog

Elizabeth from The Littlest blog (and our lovely LA-based contributor) has started up a wonderful new series on her blog called ‘As They Grow’ which features a different mother & baby duo to highlight the monthly stages of a baby’s development from birth up to 24 months. Each mother will describe how they engage with their baby – how they play with their baby, what songs they sing, what games they play, etc. She asked me to describe the third month in a baby’s development and Esther to describe the fourth month.

Take a peek at The Littlest blog to see our contributions and to see what other mums say about the different months. We’re excited to read about the coming months (months five, six, seven, eight, etc.) in anticipation of our own babies being at that stage. It’s always nice to hear ideas for how to engage and play with your baby at the different stages.

x Courtney

Stick significance


Right next to our front door there’s an ever present collection of sticks. Our 5-year-old son Pim is like a dog, seriously! Every time we go to the park, he will find a stick and insists on taking it home. Some of them are too big for him to carry alone, so he has to convince his big sister to help him.
Because I don’t allow them in our house, the sticks are displayed right next to the front door — which is the closest the sticks will get to his bed, because he would take them up there if he could, I am sure about it. My husband once threw away all the sticks, which was a mistake — Pim was inconsolable and I admit that even I was upset. Those sticks seriously meant so much to him!

Emilie sent me the link to this interesting article in the Guardian last week. Hannah Evans is a mother of three boys and her article did shed some light on my little boy and his stick obsession. I quote:

‘And thus, sticks. For I have learned that boys like, nay love, sticks. But a stick to a boy is far, far more than an inanimate object. A stick is a toy, a weapon, a friend and a foe. A stick is adventure, possibilities, destruction and danger. A stick is, in the right time and place – or even better, in the wrong – everything.’

And:

‘”Stick significance” is part and parcel of being a boy. And so, “Will you put that bloomin’ stick down … it’s only a bit of wood!” is a bit like telling me that my coffee would taste just as good out of any old mug.’

And so they stay, the sticks, next to our front door. And the collection grows. Do you have a son (or daughter) who collects sticks too?

xxx Esther

Bringing up bilingual

A friend of mine recently referred to the way my 3-year-old daughter speaks as Creole. It a great way of describing it: she speaks an absolute mixture of French and English. Phrases like “Can you s’il te please tirer my culotte” (please pull up my undies) are very normal in our household and it is so cute I don’t want it to change! But it won’t last; she is quickly learning to differentiate her two languages.

In our household I try to only speak English at home and the children are exposed to French at school and with their friends. I myself grew up with a French mother, and an Irish father but spent my childhood in Germany, so I grew up speaking English, French and German. I actually now have a bit of an accent in every language I speak! As a child I really did not enjoy coming from a multi-lingual family as I felt I was different from my friends. My girls have the great advantage of going to an inner-city Paris school where a huge amount of the kids speak at least two languages, if not more.

So now that I am trying to bring up my kids bi-lingually myself, I have done a bit of research. I am not an expect in anyway, but here are some of the facts I thought were interesting:

  • Being bi-lingual or tri-lingual has nothing to do with intelligence, people of different levels of intelligence are multi-lingual.
  • Children start differentiating between languages around the ages of 2-3.
  • Bi-lingual children do not usually learn to speak later because of learning different languages, as previously thought.
  • One of the simplest approaches towards having bilingual children seems to be the one-parent/one-language approach. It is easier for a child to differentiate a language if one person speaks one language consistently to them.

Voila! I am really interested to hear if anyone else has tips and ideas on how to bring up kids with several languages!

- Emilie

The Truth About Trying

A friend recently told me about this amazing feature of video blogs on Redbook called “The Truth About Trying“.  I thought it was a fantastic way to personalize and put a face to the issues that many women silently face.  Whether you have ten children, one child, or in the midst of trying for your first  – the struggle to conceive is a difficult and emotionally taxing journey when it does not work out as planned.  Thought I would pass along and give praise to Redbook for helping to bring light to an often closely guarded subject.

-Dina

(Image from Redbook)

Where Children Sleep

I just came across James Mollison’s photographic essay, Where Children Sleep, and I can’t stop staring at those touching photos. Mollison provides stories of diverse children around the world, told through portraits and pictures of their bedrooms. Some photos are simply heart wrenching, others totally fascinating. Isn’t it incredible how wide our world is and how differently people live? The book is written and presented for an audience of children 9-13 years old with the intention of showing kids the lives of other children around the world. Would you show your children? I will definitely show mine!

x Courtney

via The Littlest Blog

The Baby Chase

I must say, I am really liking that more and more information is starting to come to the forefront regarding the issues surrounding infertility.  My mother pointed me towards this article entitled “My Fertility Crisis” which ran in the Wall Street Journal a few weeks ago and I thought it was a real eye-opener.   All too often, when we DO actually hear about a woman’s struggle with conception, it is usually only discussed and disclosed only once “success” (aka a baby )  is achieved.  Rarely do we hear about those who have been unsuccessful in the journey to motherhood and/or have been dealt multiple blows over the course of years and years.  Infertility is still one of those closely guarded secrets that women keep to themselves, which is why I need to commend Holly Finn, the author of the article and of the new e-book “The Baby Chase” who bravely and honestly shares her experiences of IVF and the quest to have a child.  While not the usual post you would find at a place like Babyccino Kids — I know that many of the moms out there can totally relate and I thought it was a good article to share.

-Dina

LMNOP Magazine

If you aren’t already familiar with LMNOP Magazine (and their great website and blog!), then now is the perfect time to check it out. Their latest issue is devoted to the world of children’s books, a subject so many of us are passionate about. They’ve compiled a well-edited list of must-read books for children under five, as well as their top picks of new releases.  I love their book-themed fashion section with children dressed as book characters! Find Iggy Peck (my son is going to flip when he sees that he can actually dress like Iggy!), Freckleface Strawberry, Eloise, and others… Also check out their ‘Paper Dahls’ section by artist, Jayme McGowan, with beautiful paper doll figures of some of Rhoald Dahl’s famous characters. So cool!

-Courtney

Say 100! A list of voices that matter


There’s a lot of noise around us. Messages are constantly delivered to us through never stopping newsfeeds, real time alerts and advertising on the thousands of LCD screens we surround ourselves with. It’s pretty busy out there!
It can be hard to find the signal in all the noise. We are turning more and more to people we trust, be it friends or relevant voices online, to help us filter the relevant from the irrelevant and shape our opinion.

SAY Media recognises this changing state in media, and put together a list of 100 ‘authentic, knowlegeable voices online that create engaging content, drive conversation and shape opinion’. The list is divided into 10 categories, each curated by an expert in that field — say Tina Roth Eisenberg (SwissMiss) for Design, Amanda Hesser for FoodSeth Godin for Business and former health & beauty director of Cookie magazine, Dana Wood (MomOver) for Parenting.

And why am I telling you all of this? Because we have been proudly chosen to be one of those voices! You can’t believe how flattered we are to find ourselves amongst some of our heroes like Heather Armstrong (Dooce), Gabrielle Blair (Design Mom), Irene Hoofs (Bloesem Living), Joy Deangdeelert Cho (Oh Joy!) and Scott Schuman (The Sartorialist). To see the whole list, look here, and this little video explains a little more about the SAY 100 list.

xxx Esther

Kids in restaurants — do or don’t?

I love eating out and, of course, I love kids… but sometimes the two don’t mix.  I do still get annoyed, even after having my own kids, when there are children in a restaurant creating havoc. For me, eating out is a moment to relax, talk and enjoy good food, and a screaming kid can completely spoil the mood. In France, most children are taught from the moment they are conceived to behave well in a restaurant. But even here, occasionally, you wonder why people don’t just pick up their child and take him outside until he calms down, to let the other guests have their meal in piece.

I just read a piece in the Guardian about an owner of a restaurant who has decreed that “Screaming children will not be tolerated”. I think that is the best restaurant rule I have ever heard of! I am obviously not talking about kid-friendly cafés which are basically interior playgrounds, but I do think that screaming kids in a grown-up cafe or restaurant should not have to be tolerated, whilst well behaved kids who are happily eating their food are a pleasure to see in any restaurant. What are your thoughts?

- Emilie

10 things to have as a nursing mother

I just read this post on A Cup Of Jo and loved it — it’s a great, stylish and sensible list of must-have items for mothers with a newborn baby. I totally agree that easy, slip-on shoes and a wristwatch are essential. I also like the tip about the backpack — it has inspired me to get one, as I am sick of having a stiff back from carrying around a shoulder bag that weighs a ton. I love the retro feel of these backpacks, it reminds me of the backpack my dad had as a student in the ’60s.

I would add to this list a pashmina, as you can use it as a blanket, nursing cover and rain protection. I also am addicted to my baker boy cap as I have no free hand for an umbrella anymore. I wear it 24/7 in the cold and rainy climate I live in. What about you? Do you have any items you can recommend that make getting out and about with a newborn just a little bit easier?

- Emilie

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