Our Toddler's Evening routine - what we've done (and still do!) from +-3 months

Our Toddler Evening routine what we've done from 3 months citygirlsearching blog-01.png

Seeing as we now have a toddler and a newborn, I wanted to share the bedtime routine we have done with Everly since she was about 3 months old. I want to write it here so I am also able to reference it in a few months time when Aaron wakes up from is sleepy newborn slumber and starts being more wakeful. Hopefully you find this post useful/interesting, and as always, I’d love to hear from you in the comments if there is anything else you do that you find works for you and your family.

Before having Everly, I was adamant that a baby would just slot into our lives and we wouldn’t be ‘those people’ who plan their day around their little one’s naps. But alas, I have since realised, a happy baby = a happy mommy & daddy and wherever possible, we try to keep to our routine as much for their sake as for our sanity. Everly has always slept well, and slept a lot. It even got to the point where I was googling ‘can a toddler sleep too much’ because the majority of my friends seemed to have babies and toddlers that just ‘hate sleep’. And while I am going to be a bit controversial here (because I’m sure there are little ones out there that REALLY struggle to sleep) I am going to say that the majority of babies/toddlers want & need sleep, they may just need more help to actually get to (and stay!) asleep. Even at 17 months old, Everly still naps twice a day (mostly) and these two naps range from 1.5 - 2.5 hours each. She also sleeps at night on average, for 12 - 13 hours. This post isn’t meant to be an ode to how wonderful my child is (from what I can tell with my friend’s kids, Everly may be more of the exception to the rule than the norm) but I do wish at least one person had shared with me that it is possible to have a good sleeper, and that you shouldn’t feel bad about the fact that your child genuinely needs/wants lots of sleep. I think there are lots of factors that play a role in ‘creating’ a good sleeper (things like diet, routine, patience and a WHOLE lot of strong will when it comes to ‘sleep training’…I’ll share our thoughts on this in another post) but as always, each child is different and each family is different too, you need to find what works for you.

Everly Rose Newborn Photos by Roxy Hutton of CGScreative & CityGirlSearching (6 of 18).jpg

We have done the same evening & bedtime routine since Everly was about 3 months old. Before that, she just fed & slept anywhere and everywhere. From Day 2 home from the hospital, we put her in her own room, mostly because she was so noisy when she slept, that neither me or hubby could get any sleep. I LOVE the idea of co-sleeping, I just know that it wouldn’t work for our family. I am a very deep sleeper, but Farmboy isn’t, and as he is up at 4h30 every morning to go and milk the cows, co-sleeping is just not something either of us feel would work for us. Having baby/toddler in their own room, away from you so you don’t hear every single sniff and gurgle, helps a whole lot in ensuring a better sleep for mom & dad…but again, if this isn’t for you and you prefer to have baby in your room, that’s a choice completely up to you to make. This post is not a post to bash moms and dads who co-sleep etc but more about sharing what we do and what works for us.

Everly’s evening & bedtime routine

  • Supper is at 5pm.

Everly has been brought up on a low carb, no sugar way of eating right from day 1 of starting solids. If you’re South African, I guess you would say she was & is a Banting Baby (although we aren’t strict with carb counting) and if you’re not sure what Banting is, it’s basically a low carb high fat way of eating. What this means is Everly doesn’t eat any form of processed carbs (no toast/crackers/cereal/pasta etc) and no form of processed sugar (no juice/sweets/chips/cake/commercial kids snack bars etc). You would be surprised at just how much hidden sugar is in most baby food products…and while I can control what she eats, this is how we have chosen to raise her. You may be wondering what on earth I feed my child, so here are all my posts on #whateverlyeats:

I strongly believe diet plays a huge role in sleep/development/overall contentedness (and the same applies to us adults!) and it would be my first suggestion to look at your little ones diet if they are struggling with sleep.

  • Bath & bed time starts at 6pm sharp

If she’s been cranky/hasn’t had proper naps during the day we often start earlier so she’s in bed by 6pm, but very rarely is she in bed past 6h30pm.

Farmboy has always done bath time, as it’s his special time to with her. After her bath, she has her milk (I breastfed her up until 13 months - around the 3 month mark of my second pregnancy, at which time it just became too sore for me, and she got too big to be lying on me and my growing tummy) and that’s when we started her on cows milk. She gets a 150ml non spill cup of milk (it’s raw farm milk…which she has grown up on and is the same milk I used to make her homemade yoghurt which she ate from about 7/9 months old).

We started her milk in a TommeeTippee Explora Cup, and she’s still using it today. Even though this cup is probably more suited to babies than toddlers, Everly wasn’t ever weaned from breast to bottle, we went straight onto asippy/drinking cup from the breast, and so this was her water bottle, and now this is what she gets her milk in. I don’t worry about how much milk she drinks, and didn’t ever measure out exact quantities, even after I stopped breastfeeding. Reason being, she eats a LOT of dairy (mainly cheese and homemade yoghurt) and so I knew she wasn’t ever going to be calcium deficient, even if some days she would only drink a few sips of her milk at bedtime. Whatever she doesn’t drink at night, gets put back in the fridge and she gets that in the morning when she wakes up.

While Farmboy is bathing her, I get her milk ready, close the curtains and put her nightlight on (we use a beautiful pink Quartz lamp that she’s had in her room since she was born) as it gives off the warmest, softest glow. I bought her pink quartz lamp (and the white quartz lamp in Aaron’s room from StaticEnergy in Jhb).

I then lay out her pyjamas and night nappy (we use cloth nappies and the night nappy is always a rather big and bulky situation as it needs to last +-12 hours). Then I say goodnight to her, we say some prayers (when I can remember…I really want to reinforce this with her but haven’t been so great at it up till now) and I leave the room. Farmboy dries her off, puts cream/massage oil on her (we still use and LOVE Pure Beginnings Massage Oil), and then dresses her for bed. She has a dummy (which she has nicknamed ‘Nunni’ and a special sleep time soft toy, ‘Dudu’), which she only gets to have when it’s nap or bedtime.

We’ve always had a bedtime song that we have and still sing at bed time. It’s more of a lullaby that we hum, but it’s such a nice way to reinforce that it’s bedtime. When Everly would wake up often at night, one of us would always use that lullaby to calm her down and help her get back to sleep.

Once she’s dressed, it’s story time. Sometimes she will still have her milk at this point, but we take it away once we leave the room. Story time is mostly a full blown discussion of ‘what’s da’ or ‘what’s that’ as she points to each and every picture in the book. It’s the sweetest thing listening to the Daddy & Daughter chatter before bed. Once story time is done, it’s a quick kiss good night and and ‘I love you’ and then whoever is doing bedtime walks out. 9 times out of 10 she settles quickly. But since getting a video monitor a few months ago, I’ve actually seen that she isn’t always sleeping when I think she is! I don’t mind though, as long as she’s happy and quiet in her bed, I don’t really mind what she’s getting up to. I’ve watched her for over an hour just lying there, legs in the air, playing wit her DuDu and stroking her face with it…funny thing.

We also recently took the sides down of her cot (CoziCot Stijl) and turned it into the toddler bed it’s able to convert into, as we slowly transition her to the single bed in her room. It’s been about 3 weeks of her in her ‘big girl’ bed and it’s been a relatively painless process (blog post to come on that move soon). I was REALLY nervous about the whole thing, especially as she is now able to get in AND out of her bed whenever she wants to, and has free access to everything in her room, but I have been pleasantly surprised at how it’s all gone. I was most worried that her night time sleep would be disrupted by the move, but apart from one night of her falling out the bed, and her waking up slightly earlier than normal (6am instead of 7am), it’s like nothing has changed. I think it’s been such a smooth transition because of the same routine we follow every night. Even when we go away, we follow the same ‘bath, milk, pj’s, story, bed’ routine and 9 times out of 10 she goes down without a fuss. We also, as much as possible, stick to the 6pm bath & bed time routine no matter where she goes to sleep.


I weaned Everly off her last night time/early morning (it was at about 3am) feed at about 7 months. We had a couple of rough nights, but she adjusted quickly. We then went on an overseas trip to the UK, and she went back to demanding that early morning feed, which I went back to giving her during the trip as we were staying in relatively small homes with family and I didn’t want to keep everyone up. But once we got home I weaned her off that feed again and within a few days she went back to sleeping +-12 hours at night.


If you’d like me to share our sleep training ‘methods’ I’d be happy to write about them in a separate post. Hubby and I are very strict when it comes to bed and nap times, and do leave Everly to cry if it’s time to sleep and she’s up and about. This has worked extremely well for us, and I’d be happy to share what we’ve done, right from the beginning…let me know in the comments below!

I hope you’ve found this post interesting. I’d love to hear about your families routine, and what you’ve found works for you. Leave me a comment below, I always enjoy hearing from my readers.

x

15 months - What Everly Eats along with tips & ideas for your little one

What Everly Eats at 15 months Banting Baby Low Carb High Fat for Toddler CityGirlSearching Blog-01.png

I haven’t done a post on Everly and her eating habits for a while, and so thought it time to remedy that and hopefully inspire you with some meal ideas. And at the same time, I’d love to hear from you in the comments as to what your little ones are eating to help inspire me!

In case your new around these parts, Everly eats a pretty much Banting/LowCarbHighFat diet with no processed foods or sugar. This means she doesn’t get bread or pasta, and lives off of meat, fish, veggies, lots of full cream dairy products, loads of eggs and a bit of fruit. She’s a healthy, happy chubby baby and is never sick (I could chalk this up to good genes and the fact that I breastfed her till over a year) but I really believe her diet plays a big role in her health). I don’t judge any of my fellow moms, we all make our own choices, but we choose not to give our daughter anything processed (and try as much as we can to steer clear of store bought baby food….although those food pouches have their place!). This decision isn’t an easy one, especially when it comes to birthday parties, but like I tell family and friends, while I am able to control what Everly eats 99% of the time, I want the food going in to nourish her completely, and so she’s stuck with a mom who feeds her chicken liver sardines ;) It’s also a lot more work to prepare your own baby food, but as with our decision to do cloth nappies, you get into a routine and it just becomes a part of your day. Also, a low carb ‘diet’ (although I hate that word and my little girl is not on a diet…let’s go with the term lifestyle) doesn’t mean NO carb. We don’t count carbs at all like a lot of very strict Banters, but as we also eat a pretty low carb diet, we swop out white potatoes for sweet potatoes, and the veggies she eats regularly are butternut, sweet potatoes, beans, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots.

Here are my older posts on our journey to solids:

I’m 7 months pregnant with Baby#2 and so haven’t been feeling the most inventive when it comes to preparing meals, and as much as I love the idea of Everly eating what we eat, our meals are pretty sporadic too, and we eat a lot later than her so she either eats leftovers the next day or I end up preparing her something much earlier on in the day. This leaves me only feeling up to opening a tin of tuna by the time supper time comes around for us.

Also…how many days can a child survive on cheese alone?!?!? I remember seeing my friend Deborah post about that a few weeks ago and I really had a good giggle. While Everly is a pretty amazing eater and gobbles down just about everything we throw at her, she has been very fussy with texture lately. It’s really strange as she will eat hard/crunchy/very textured things but then went through a funny stage of refusing meat and spitting out most of the food I’d try give her. After a week or so of VERY frustrating meal times, I realised it would very unlikely that she would starve herself and we seem to be coming out of that phase.

My friend Sophie gave me some wonderful words of encouragement. She said it’s our jobs as moms to decide when baby eats and what they eat, and for them to decide on how much they want to eat. This helped me a lot during what felt like a very dark time. Luckily we are out of that fussy season, but it really just goes to show you that ALL babies/toddlers go through phases and they do (hopefully for everyone!) emerge and return to their old selves before you know it.


Here is Everly’s current rough schedule:

  • 6 - 7am wake up (I give her a spill proof cup of milk to drink in bed while she ‘logs on’ in the morning). I also leave her in her bed till about 7am as most of the time she is happily playing with her teddy and talking to herself at this time. I also give her a book or two to look at which generally keeps her occupied for a good 20 minutes or so.

  • 8am Breakfast

  • 9am - anywhere between 10h30/11h30 nap time

  • 12 lunch

  • 1h30/2pm - 3ish nap time

  • 4pm snack

  • 5pm dinner

  • 6pm bath, dressed for bed with a cup of milk, story and bed by 18h30


Here are some ideas for meals and snacks that I give Evs.

I find I go through patches of being super inspired to whip up gourmet meals, and other days where pieces of cheese and baby tomatoes seem to be like the loaves & fishes and keep her going.

Breakfast

  • Scrambled Eggs (I whisk 2 eggs and a dollop of cream cheese together and add that to a pan of melted butter) and cook. I keep the eggs soft as I am not a fan of rubbery, dry scrambled eggs! Everly eats scrambled eggs pretty much every day of the week, and then I throw in a breakfast or two (if it last that long!) of chia porridge.

  • Chia Chocolate Porridge: this is a great recipe from the Real Meal Revolution: Raising Superheroes book for Kids by Tim Noakes. This is where I usually turn for low carb meal inspiration.

  • Both of the above are usually followed by a bowl/cup (I still use and LOVE these Avent breastmilk storage cups for storing/freezing/feeding Everly her food) of full cream, homemade yoghurt with either a pinch of cinnamon or some frozen berries.

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Lunch & Snacks

Lunch is usually a mix of whatever I have on hand, so veggies she can feed herself and then some leftovers…usually followed by another cup of yoghurt or fruit she can chew on herself. I mostly end up doing snacky type foods at lunch time:

  • chopped up cherry tomatoes

  • pitted olives - you’d be surprised at the flavors your toddler may enjoy! Everly is currently VERY into olives.

  • blocks of cheese/squares of Kiri cream cheese

  • half a tin of tuna/oven baked hake in butter (recipe posted below)

  • roasted vegetables (I usually do a tray of sweet potatoes or butternut that lasts for a few days). Simply chop up veggies of your choice, drizzle with oil (I usually use avocado oil or butter) and then sprinkle with your choice of herbs. Roast in the oven until crunchy and serve warm.

  • beans (I’ve only just realised how great canned beans are!). Farmboy is going through a bean phase, so there are usually leftovers from his lunch. Kidney beans & butter beans are a favourite at the moment. These are also the perfect thing for little fingers to pick up.

  • steamed veggies (Broccoli, green beans and cauliflower etc.)

  • leftover braai meat (boerewors/sausages are a firm favourite in our household!)

  • whole fruit - Everly annihilates apples…like, whole, the entire thing, core, peel and all! Lots of great fibre in those fruit peels! I usually give her Granny Smith apples so she doesn’t get hooked on the sweetness.

  • biltong/drywors - often biltong/drywors can be covered in salt an flavourings…simply rinse until cold running water and dry off before giving to your little one…the fattier the better ;) Just keep an eye when giving them drywors as sometimes the skin casing can get a bit stringy and be a potential choking hazard.


Dinner

For supper I like to give Everly a big meal so she goes to bed with a full tummy that lasts her through the night. She sleeps from 6 - 6/7 (long may this last!) and so needs lots of good & nutritious food to keep her content. I often cook up a big stew on a Sunday night that lasts the week, and then I freezer portions of it for future meals (again, those Avent cups I mentioned above are perfect for freezing food!).

  • Lamb/Beef Stew: using a slow cooker, I brown the meat (usually lamb or beef…you can buy cheaper cuts of meat at the butcher and remember, the fattier the better!) in lots of butter & garlic, add a chopped up onion, chop up what ever veggies you have on hand (I usually use sweet potatoes, butternut, celery, carrots), chuck in a tin of chopped tomatoes (I vary the flavour by using either the plain/Indian/Italian flavoured tins), a cup of barley, a cup of lentils/tin of mixed beans, and then top up with water and leave it overnight to stew. I serve it as it, as it’s got all the veggies in it, and then I usually follow with some fruit, depending on the season, it’s often blueberries or starwberries etc. Alternatively Everly has more yoghurt.

  • Oven roasted hake: I buy the Woolworths frozen hake fillets and pop them (frozen) into a dish with loads of butter, some garlic and then sprinkle with herbs. I then usually serve this with steamed broccoli & cauliflower and brown rice. This is a nice finger meal if your little one likes to feed themselves.

  • Liver Pate: Liver is an INCREDIBLE brain boosting food packed full of nutrients for your little one. You can buy tubs of chicken livers from the butcher/grocery store, but you can also use all those left over bits that usually accompany a chicken (giblets, kidney, liver…basically the offal). I know it sounds really gross, and while I’m not the hugest fan of the giblets etc when they are cooked up they taste rather yum! I pop whatever I’m using to make the pate (liver/giblets etc) into a pan with lots of butter and a bit of garlic and onion, fry until just brown, and then add to a blender with a dollop of cream cheese and blitz until smooth. I freeze this in smaller containers as it’s very rich, and your little one probably won’t eat that much of this at a time. This was one of the first foods I gave Everly, and often serve it with steamed veggies (nice for the first few months of weaning as it’s easy to add to pureed veggies). It’s also nice to add to a soft boiled egg, mashed up or serve it with pieces/mashed up avo…depending on how your little one does with texture.

Treats

Ideas for treating your little one, while still ensuring they are able to steer clear of added sugars and other nasties:

  • Ice-lollies: I bought these awesome lolly moulds from PouchLove (R155 for a pack of 4) and Everly loves them! I use rooibos tea (I make litres of the Apple Kids flavor) and keep that in the fridge for me to drink all day, and it makes a really great base for ice lollies! Then I just add whatever bits of fruit I have on hand…Everly loves blueberries and strawberries so that’s what I usually add. Then pop in the freezer over night and voila! The perfect healthy, summer keep-cool treat. They are re-useable and there are endless ideas for different flavors. I think this would also be a a great way to serve soup or chicken/beef/lamb stock on a hot day (I am MAD about stocks and made litres and litres of the stuff for Everly when was just starting solids. It was a great way to make pureed veggies taste nicer, while giving them loads of great vitamins and nutrients).

  • Stewed Fruit: it’s so easy to make your own stewed fruit, which is great to add to yoghurt, or to serve as is. Simply chop of your fruit of choice, add water (or you can add rooibos instead for a bit more flavor and anti-oxidants) and then boil away on the stove until soft and mushy. A combo Everly loved was apples and cherries.

  • Frozen Yoghurt: just as the recipe above for ice lollies, except use yoghurt instead of water/rooibos.

  • dried fruit - I only give Everly this on special occasions as it can be hard to find dried fruit that isn’t full of extra sugar…but mango is a great snack for little hands that will keep them busy, and so are dried apples & apricots. Don’t give too much as too much dried fruit can lead to runny tummies.

  • popcorn - cover in butter (although this can be messy) and sprinkle with dried herbs for extra tastiness. Avoid adding salt if you’re cooking it from seed.


From the above you can see Everly doesn’t have any allergies, and is especially okay with any and all dairy. If your little is lactose intolerant, adjust accordingly (although expensive, Almond milk is an option, but I would steer clear of Soy milk). Often babies and toddlers grow out of their allergies, so keep offering them yoghurt/etc every couple of months etc and see how they manage. On another note, I make all my own homemade yoghurt, this way I ensure there are no nasty hidden preservatives etc. If you are buying yoghurt, try to always give your baby full cream, plain yoghurt. This ensures no hidden sugars, and you can adjust the flavour yourself by adding frozen berries/stewed or steamed fruit/cinnamon and honey when they are a little older.


I hope you found this post helpful. Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments below, or to leave your favourite toddler meals & snack ideas. I always love hearing from you!