Tag Archives: children

Guest Post: Essential Tips for First Time Hiking With Your Kids

This week, Zara Lewis, blogger,  mother of 2 and regular contributor to High Style Life joins us for a guest post on essential tips for hiking with children.

As a person in love with hiking, it was one of my greatest fears that once I had kids I would have to forget about my passion. Luckily, it wasn’t the case; my kids love hiking adventures and nature as much as I do, and our hiking trips have been a great source of joy for all of us. Of course, some things had to change, and I have adapted and adjusted so that all of us can have fun but still be responsible.


Be practical with your food

I remember back when I was a kid how my mother always packed just bare necessities in my backpack and I was devastated because I wanted chocolate and sodas like other kids. However, once I became a mother myself I discovered that my mother was right: you do not need a ton of sweets, but rather practical and nutritious foods to keep you strong. I always pack healthy sandwiches, my own protein bars, and plenty of nice fruit: apples, pears, and peaches. This way I am sure my kids are eating healthy food without sugar and additives, and most importantly: we never leave candy bar wrappers or any other sort of garbage behind.

It can rain anytime

Unfortunately, I had to learn this the hard way. After a couple of our hiking trips ended abruptly because of light rain that started falling suddenly, it became a custom of ours to pack light raincoats in our hiking backpacks. These do not take too much space, but are wonderful protection from the elements. We would end our walks suddenly even if it was just light rain, but now we just take our raincoats out and keep walking for as long as we want. Pro tip: you can even use raincoats instead of tablecloths when having a picnic, since they are water-resistant and a million times easier to clean afterwards.


Thorough examination afterwards

Always carry hand sanitizer with you when going for a hike, but when you get home that is when the real battle starts. Remove all of your clothes and examine your body to see if you have any ticks or other possibly dangerous insect bites on your body. Do it for your kids too, and then use a natural cleanser to remove all the dirt from your hands, face, and body. Your face is putting up with a lot during your hikes, and it is important to wear a protective hat and apply sunscreen so you don’t get a sunburn. You can apply a face mask made of baking soda and activated charcoal to remove sweat and dirt particles from your pores.

Stretching and relaxing

Kids will probably want to run like crazy all the time, and that is fine. They are young and restless and they should spend their energy like that. As for you, try not to push yourself too much, choose a nice easy tempo and stick to it so you don’t pull a muscle or hurt yourself. You can even take a short break from time to time and stretch so your body can relax. What is more, there are some easy stretches you should do before you set out on your hiking adventure; this way your body will prepare and warm up so your hike will not be as difficult as you thought it would be.

Time spent with my family away from the city crowd is truly a blessing: we watch birds, learn about different plants and animals, and experience the seasons much more intensely than we would in the city. We are used to fresh air, the chirping of birds, eating while sitting on the grass, and the smell of earth after rain. Don’t be afraid to take your kids out for a hike, it is a beautiful experience which all of your family will enjoy.


How to Fail at Weaning Your Baby

Eating.  We all do it eventually.  Its like rolling over, sitting up, or walking.  But when you have a baby, all these things feel like they will never happen and you’re constantly on the watch for signs of them.  You see your baby slightly flail about a bit and spend the next two hours making phone calls to family and friends proclaiming that “he almost turned over”.

We have a wide group of mummy and baby friends, so have a pretty balanced perspective on what’s ‘normal’ for my baby’s age group.  I try not to focus too much, however, on the one friend’s baby which has been able to hold on to the edge of the furniture and walk around the room since he was 6 months old.  Mine is 8 months and, well, she can sit.  No, wait, last night she pushed herself up to standing in the bathtub.

However, as I’m a foodie and a former professional pastry chef in the fine dining industry and my husband is a great…shall we say patron of the fine dining industry…I thought that weaning our baby would be a non-issue.

We decided to wait to wean our baby until she was at least 6 months old.  There is a lot of pressure to start introducing foods earlier than this.  (Ladies of…ahem…a certain generation, will say that your baby is hungry and needs baby rice (a nutritionally empty food) at…oh, around 17 weeks.  Ignore them.  They’re the same ladies who were telling you to stop breastfeeding and give baby formula so they could ‘sleep through the night’.)  We had a number of reasons which we based our decision upon.  There were the physical factors, such as whether the baby was able to sit up on their own and able to shove items into their mouth.  (She was).  And also that solid foods just aren’t as nutritious as breastmilk or formula.  You need the certainty in the early days that 100% of what is going into your baby’s tummy is doing them good and helping them to grow.  But mainly, we were concerned that the human gut is not ready to deal with solid foods until at least 6 months of age and while your baby may happily take solid foods earlier than that, giving them any earlier can increase the risk of health problems such as atopic conditions (eczema, asthma), autoimmune conditions (coeliac disease) and other chronic conditions (diabetes).  Essentially these are all inflammatory conditions and not something we wished to put our baby at risk for by giving in to our excitement about moving on to the next stage.

I sought my mother’s advice fairly early on.  Apparently I threw my bottle of formula on the floor at 3 months old and she decided that meant I was ready to move on to food.  As I have suffered with numerous atopic and digestive inflammatory conditions for most of my life, I decided that I would not be repeating that route.

But both my husband and I were incredibly excited about introducing foods to our little girl and in anticipation, I attended the weaning session at my local Children’s Centre.  Firstly, I was the only person who turned up.  Obviously all the other mothers of 4 month olds in Peckham were at home shoving baby rice down their children’s gullets and marvelling about how they slept through the night now.  (BTW, sleeping through the night is an abnormal baby behaviour.  Tiny little tummies aren’t designed to go for 8-12 hours without food.)  Once the dietician started her session, with just me and my baby in attendance, I realised that I was probably not the target audience for this kind of session. And the dietician realised that I wasn’t, either, quickly glossing over the display of packaged baby cookies and baby rice she’d painstakingly set up to demonstrate to mothers which kinds of sugary foods to avoid feeding their babies.  (“I can see I won’t need to show these to you.”)  We had a useful conversation on baby led weaning and how to prepare the fruits and vegetables for a baby to eat and a quick demonstration on how to assist a choking baby, but other than that, I came away fairly uninspired and unenlightened.

Finally 6 months of age arrived.  First we decided to go the Baby Led Weaning route.   I cooked some sweet potato and…my baby very politely tasted it and declined seconds.  The same thing happened with broccoli, spinach, peas, red lentils, greek yogurt and applesauce.  I do try to avoid giving her too many fruits, as I’d like her to avoid developing the dreaded sweet tooth which my mother and I both have.  I’m not sure if this is a futile attempt on my part, but I’m sticking with this approach.  She loved over-ripe bananas and she did enjoy gnawing on a piece of pear once and some peach puree, but other than that, I felt I was wasting both my time and some rather expensive organic foods.

And it was just so messy.  I mean really really messy.

Sometime just before 7 months of age, I gave up on full-time Baby Led Weaning and got out my little mouli which I then used to prepare most of the above vegetables.  I had no better success.

And my red lentil dish, though very well cooked, gave her terrible stomach cramps throughout the night.

So around a month or so ago we decided to go the Ella’s Kitchen route.  If only for the sake of convenience.  I was tired of cooking nice foods and watching them get gummed around and smeared on the Bumbo tray for a while before being put in the compost bin.  And it was around this point that we discovered something.  It wasn’t the food that was the problem.  It was the person giving the food.  Daddy could open up packets of Ella’s Kitchen lentils with cumin, vegetable moussaka and squishy salmon fish cakes and they’d all be gobbled up with relish.  I would try to give her the same food and be met with disdain.

At this point, I’m sorry, I don’t have the answer for you.  If you’re struggling with weaning your baby onto foods, I don’t have a solution.  Each morning I make porridge which I try to share with my baby and am met with a mouth shut tight as a Cabbage Patch Doll’s.  My health visitor says this is a phase and she’ll probably grow out of it after she’s two.  Great.

As for the other babies we know, well, they’re all eating platefuls of food.  Some do baby led weaning and others have been conventionally weaned.  But somehow their parents are getting the stuff into them.

I got the The Ella’s Kitchen Cookbook from the library yesterday and intend to copy all my baby’s favourites from the book.  My first attempt, a rich and creamy macaroni cheese made with Boots baby pasta stars was rejected last night with a look of utter disgust.  So I ate it.  It was delicious.

But apparently not as delicious as the manky, half eaten carrot I found the baby about to tuck into from the dog’s bowl…

Organic Mothers – They Raise The Bar For The Rest of Us

Sweet Potato Fries (image from http://www.mccormick.com)

My best friend looked at me with a mix of guilt and fear in her eyes as she put down her toddler’s lunch in front of him.  She was still 9 months pregnant with all 10lb 4oz of her second son (whom I now affectionately know as Sausage) whilst still running around after her demanding 2 year old son, and she looked guilty – she was feeding her child hot dog and fries for lunch.   She began to over explain herself, “The hot dogs are made from organic turkey, and I get them from the farmer’s market.  And the fries, they’re organic.  And they’re made from sweet potato.”

Now, frankly in her condition, she could have handed the kid a tube of raw cookie dough and I probably wouldn’t have blinked.

There are some things that women without children, such as myself, will never understand.  My otherwise meticulously groomed friends suddenly start resembling mad women you might see rummaging through the value bin at Lidl on Old Kent Road.  “I have no time to wash my hair,” they tell me.  I don’t understand that.  How can you have no time to wash your hair?  Put child down.  Get in shower.  Wash hair. Dry off.  Pick screaming child back up.  But apparently it’s true.  There is no time to wash your hair and until you have children, you just don’t get it.   This is what they say, and I believe them, because there but for an (as yet) unproductive uterus, could be me.

And so, I find it amazing when my best friend, at 9 months pregnant, is still able to manoeuvre herself, her bump, and her demanding 2 year old into the car, drives down to the farmer’s market, fights the crowds and queues for an organic hot dog to feed to her son – who will probably only eat half of it before wandering off to watch Theodore Tugboat or something.  That’s dedication.  That’s love.  And that’s looking after the well-being of your family.

And if she has no time to wash her hair – who cares?  I believe her.