My favourite signs for toddlers and babies

My 5 favourite signs for babies

I’ve mentioned in a few posts recently that Nerys has started to sign ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ which makes me really happy!  I was also really pleased the other day when she signed ‘wait’ to me when she wasn’t ready to get out of her buggy yet.

I love how she can communicate with us so much better now that she can sign a few things.  I think she’d be much more frustrated if she didn’t have that tool.

We watch ‘Something special’ on Cbeebies most days and she seems to really enjoy watching them all sign, and Rhys enjoys it too, especially now that he can copy the signs much more easily than when he first watched it as a baby.

For anyone who doesn’t know any baby sign language, here are my 5 favourite and, in my opinion, most useful signs to teach your baby:

My 5 favourite signs for babies and toddlers


1) Please/Thank you

This was the first sign that both Rhys and Nerys learnt.  Maybe because it’s the sign that Steve and I use the most when talking to them, I’m not sure.The sign is the same for both words which makes it really easy for them to learn.

Signing please and thank you
2) Eat
This one is really useful for helping babies explain what it is that they want!  Nerys uses it in the mornings to tell me that she’s ready to have some breakfast.
signing 'eat'
3) Drink
A good one to teach alongside ‘eat’, to help ease their frustration at not having the words to tell you if they’re hungry or thirsty!
Signing 'drink'
4) More
This is one I’m just starting to teach Nerys.  I ask her verbally if she wants more and she can answer me, so she understands the word, but I think it would be helpful for her to be able to just ask for more if she wants to!
Signing 'more'
5) Sleep
Sometimes babies are cranky and you’re not always sure why.
On some occasions it’s because they’re tired and could do with a little sleep – this sign could be really helpful for them to express this!
Signing 'sleep'

These are the signs that I think are most useful to start with, if you’re new to baby signing.  Although ‘milk’ is another good one, especially for younger babies!  We also sign ‘wait’ a fair bit, and I still find that one really useful to sign to Rhys if he’s a bit too far away to hear me or if I’m on the phone and want to tell him to wait without interrupting the conversation!

I’d love to know what you think about this – do you sign to your babies/young children?  What signs do you find most useful?


The importance of ‘please’ and ‘thank you’

Over the last week or two Nerys has started to sign ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.  This makes me stupidly happy.  Like, a bit more happy than I feel it really should?!

A big part of this happiness comes from the simple pleasure of watching her grow and learn and start to really communicate with us.  But another huge part of it is that it really is important to me that my children are polite and say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.


I’ve written a few posts recently about focusing on the good things in our lives and how feeling and expressing gratitude is good for our mental and physical health.  I do want my kids to be grateful for things partly for that reason, I think they’ll be happier people if they appreciate everything they have and things other people do for them.

Interestingly though, a study carried out in 2010 by Grant and Gino (published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology) found that saying thank you also has a positive effect on the person being thanked.  When we say ‘thank you’ to people it can strengthen our relationship with them, let them know that we value what they’ve done for us and, apparently, can also make them more likely to help us again in the future.

In the study a group of participants were asked to give feedback on a cover letter for a job application for a made-up student.  When the student then asked for more feedback a day or two later, 66% of the participants agreed when he wrote a ‘thankful’ email, compared to just 32% of participants who agreed when he wrote the request in a ‘neutral’ tone.  That’s quite a dramatic increase; seeming to prove that we are in fact much more likely to help people again in the future if they express their gratitude for the things we do for them.

The researchers looked into this further and found that the reason we’re more likely to help those who thank us again is that the ‘thank you’ makes us feel that our help was appreciated, that we’re needed and that it makes us feel more socially valued.  It seems that hearing the words ‘thank you’ helps us feel reassured that our help is valued, which in turn motivates us to provide more help in the future.

So, teaching Rhys and Nerys to say ‘thank you’ will have positive effects on them and those that they’re interacting with!

Besides, it’s just the right thing to do isn’t it?!  If someone does something for you, or gives you something, it’s just polite to acknowledge it with a thank you.  And it does seem to brighten the postman’s day when he hands Rhys our post and gets a very enthusiastic ‘thank you’ back!

Do you agree?  Do you think it’s important to teach your children to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ at an early age?  I’d love to know what other people think!

Things my daughter has just realised she can do

Things Nerys has just discovered she can do

Nerys seems to have experienced a bit of a developmental leap.

All of a sudden she’s found a real confidence on her feet and is communicating more and more.  And, I have to admit, she’s caught me by surprise a little bit!


Here are some of the things she’s suddenly discovered she can do:

  • Run.  She’s been walking for about 3 months and has suddenly discovered that she can also run.  Normally away from me, laughing maniacally.


  • Climb the stairs in 3 seconds flat.  Seriously, when did she get so fast?!


  • Open things.  The kitchen drawers, the dishwasher, it’s all fair game now.  I’m spending a lot of my time saying ‘no’ and moving her away from things.


  • Get what she wants by signing ‘please’. Well, she thinks that if she points at what she wants and signs ‘please’ then she can have it.  It works when she wants her brother’s hat.  Doesn’t work when she wants the sharp pair of scissors on the table!


It is so much fun watching her develop, the look of glee on her face when she realises she can do something is just brilliant!  Have your little ones started doing anything new recently?
encourage positive outlook children

Encouraging a positive outlook in your children

Throughout April I’ve been working on establishing a more positive outlook; acknowledging how green my grass really is!  I’ve been posting on Facebook and Twitter quite regularly with something that is good in my life, something that made me smile that day or something that I’m grateful for in my life.

It’s a habit I want to keep up because I know that if I’m not careful I find myself complaining about things that are ‘wrong’ rather than enjoying all the hundreds and thousands of things that are ‘right’ in my life.  I really want to cultivate a positive outlook and grateful attitude in myself and in my children.

These are my ideas of things we can do to help encourage a positive outlook in our children, so they grow up seeing the best of things in the world and being grateful for the all the wonderful things in their lives:

Encouraging a positive outlook in your children

1) When you notice something good, point it out to your children!  
Show them the beautiful flowers that are springing up everywhere, the colourful rainbow in the sky on a rainy day and all the other glorious things that mother nature has to offer.2) Get them involved in making/writing thank you cards.  
This is something we’re already doing.  My siblings and I were always expected to write thank you letters as children and I’m working at passing that habit on to my children.  I think it’s lovely, when someone takes the time to pick out and send a present to you, to make the effort to send them a nice thank you note back.  Sitting down with the children and helping them make, write or scribble on a thank you note will helpfully start to encourage them to be grateful for the presents they’re given and also to express that gratitude.

3) At bedtime ask them to tell you about the best thing about their day.
This is something that I’m not actually doing yet, but I think it would be a lovely habit to start, especially now Rhys is getting older and spending more time at school, away from us.  Helping him to focus on and talk about the best parts of his day will hopefully help him go to sleep happy and nurture a positive outlook on life in general!

What do you think?  Do you have a naturally positive outlook on life or is it something you have to work on?  I’d love to hear any more tips you might have on how to encourage our children to have a positive outlook.


Where did my little boy go?!

You know how sometimes, you put your baby down for a nap and could swear that they had grown while they were asleep?  Or that their facial features had shifted somehow and they just look different; older maybe.

Well last week I really had one of those moments where my son seemed to change and grow up before my very eyes!

About a week or so ago his hair seemed to suddenly grow to a point that it was almost in his eyes and just really needed to be cut.  So we went off on an adventure!  Nerys went off happily (almost too happily!) with Nana and Pops for a walk round the park and Rhys and I caught the bus into town to the hairdressers.

I’ve taken him to Tickled salon on Swansea high street twice now and have been really impressed with it both times.  The staff are really lovely and friendly, there are seats shaped like cars for Rhys to sit in and watch tv and the haircuts themselves have been great!

So Rhys sat in a car, watched a bit of Frozen and before I knew it a whole new child was sitting in front of me.  He just looks so different, so grown up!  It’s taking a bit of getting used to, I have to admit.  I said in a recent blog post that one of the hardest things about being a parent is letting your children grow up, letting them go.  And I really do think that’s true.  Accepting that my little boy is getting bigger, gearing up for full time school in September, is hard!  And now seeing him looking older is making it all the more ‘real’.

I have to remind myself that it’s all part of the adventure.  We can’t cling to the last stage (as much as I’d like to sometimes!).  Time for my little boy to start becoming a big boy.  He is nearly 4 after all!


Coping with teething

I don’t remember Rhys suffering too badly with teething.  I know he used to get a runny nose with it and was a bit unsettled, but nothing too bad.  Maybe I’ve just blanked out the memory of how bad it was?  I’m convinced that happens, something in the Mummy brain gently softens the memories of the hard times.  Otherwise no one would have more than one baby I suppose!

At the moment though, there’s no getting away from it.  Nerys is cutting 4 molars at the same time and oh dear God is she suffering!  At first I thought it was just the bottom two that were coming through, until I rubbed some teething gel on her gums and realised the top ones were starting to poke through as well.  No wonder she’s been in such a state.

And she really has been in a state.  For a lot of the day she’ll seem ok, then it’ll all get too much and she’ll be beside herself.  She just doesn’t know what to do with herself (Ah great, now I’ve got this song stuck in my head!).

I’m hoping the teeth are nearly through and she’ll be back to her sunny self soon, but in the meantime here’s how we’re coping:


Have a little patience
When Nerys herself doesn’t even know what she wants it’s really hard to know what to do to help her!  I’m trying my best to be as patient as I can through the times of “I want you to pick me up, No I don’t want you to pick me up, I want that, No I want THAT, No I want THAT so that I can throw it”

Medication (for her)
When we can see she’s in pain with her teeth we’ll tend to dose her up with some painkillers to try and take the edge off for her.  I read recently that ibuprofen is best for teething pain as it helps with the inflammation of the gums as well as the pain.

Medication (for you)
Making sure I have a steady supply of chocolate and coffee helps keep me sane amidst all the screaming.  Ibuprofen for the screaming-induced headache helps also.

Alternative therapies
Lots of parents swear by Ashton and Parsons teething powder and it does seem to help calm Nerys down when she’s really suffering.  We also find Nelsons Teetha powder really good.
Nelsons teething gel has been a real help too; the combination of the magic power of the gel and the counter pressure on her gums seems to make her feel a bit better.

Something to chew on
This idea of counter pressure on the gums is also the main thinking behind this idea of giving them something to chew/bite on.  Suggestions from around the internet include giving them;

  • a stick of cucumber straight from the fridge
  • some ice wrapped in a muslin or flannel
  • a bagel that’s been in the fridge
  • specialist teething biscuits
  • a teething ring or other kind of teether – we foundthese were the best for Rhys

Nerys hasn’t really taken to any of these things, choosing instead to keep hold of the syringe after we give her some medicine and chewing on that!

Positive thinking!
I tell myself ‘this too shall pass’.  Over and over again.  As loud as I can, to try and drown out the screaming!

Does anyone have any other suggestions for how to cope with teething?  I’d love to hear if you have a miracle solution, or if you’re just suffering too, misery loves company and all that!

Let's Talk Mommy
open letter to my daughter end breastfeeding journey

A letter to my daughter at the end of our breastfeeding journey.

Dear Nerys,

Tonight we stopped breastfeeding.

After 13 months and 7 days of my body providing you with nourishment and comfort, we quietly stopped.  No fuss, no upset.  This is the right time for this to happen.

And I knew it was coming.  Just a few short weeks ago you were feeding all through the night.  I had convinced myself that you needed the milk.  That you were growing and needed the calories.  That you were teething and poorly and needed the comfort.  That you needed ME.

But you didn’t really.  You wanted it because it was lovely and familiar and comforting in the dark of the night, but you didn’t need it any more.  What we really all needed was to get more sleep!

So we cut out those night feeds.  Within a day or two you stopped asking for milk in the nights.  You were perfectly happy to have a cuddle, or to cwtch in next to me in bed.

Soon enough we were down to just a feed at bedtime.  That cozy little routine we’d pretty much perfected over the last year.  Bathtime with Rhys and Daddy.  A little play all together on the bed.  Then into your sleepbag and settle down for a quiet feed.  Just you and me.

But over the last few days I’ve felt it coming.  The end of this stage in your life.  This stage in our lives.

I could tell my milk supply was dwindling.  That you weren’t really feeding any more.  I knew that one night soon would be the last night you would need me in that way.

That night turned out to be last night.  I didn’t know it then.  But when we went through our bedtime routine tonight you didn’t reach for me.  You didn’t point to the bed as you used to, instructing me to sit down and feed you.  Instead you pointed to the bottle I had brought up with us, and you sat next to me and drank that happily.

Then you snuggled in to me, allowed me to help you fall asleep in a new way.  I held you in my arms and sang Calon Lan, just like I used to with your brother.  And you drifted off to sleep.  Safe, comforted, loved.

There were no tears from you at the end of this stage in your life.  You’re ready for this.  Ready to stop being dependent solely on me, ready to take that first step away from me and towards independence.

I think I’m ready for this too.  I had a quiet cry tonight, as I held you and stared at your perfect sleeping face.  It hasn’t always been easy, but I have truly loved being able to feed you for this long.  It has amazed me that we made it this far and it’s a little bittersweet knowing that you don’t need me in the same way any more.  But it makes me so happy to see you go to Daddy for hugs and comfort now, and to see you explore Nana and Pops’ house with a new-found confidence.

You have changed and grown so much in the last few weeks.  My baby is almost gone and that does make me a little sad.  I’ve so loved this stage of your life, I don’t really want to let it go.

But that’s what I have to do.  Mamie always told me that your children are only lent to you.  The best thing I can do for you as your Mummy is to let you go, little by little.  Of course I’ll never fully let you go, you’ll always, always be my baby girl, but I have to let you grow up.  And this is the beginning of that.

I think I’m ready for this.  The baby stage has been wonderful, but oh the toddler stage is so much fun!  I’ll miss the special time with you that breastfeeding has given me, but it’s time for a new part of your life now.  It’s time for you to be the Daddy’s girl we always knew you would be!

I will always be here to give you love and comfort whenever you need it, but now that will come from hugs and kisses and gently spoken words in the dark of night.  You don’t need the milk any more; it’s done its work of helping you grow big and strong.  You have so much love around you, you will never be in want of comfort.

This is the right time for this.

Yes, we’re ready for this!


letter to my daughter end of breastfeeding journey