When primary-coloured pasta looks delicious

I got a small moment of pleasure when The Child really got into playing with the pasta I dyed*:

playing with dyed pasta

She enjoyed transferring from cup to cup; she even pretended to drink it from the cups I had laid out. Oh, she’s paid attention when I told her it wasn’t food, I thought. Then she stuck one in her mouth and bit off a corner.

* I waited till she’d gone to sleep one night and quickly dyed three small batches in freezer bags. The blue and red colours turned out better than the yellow.

How do you deal with tantrums?

You just can’t do anything right, Mummy

There are lots of things I’ve tried to learn from those who have children slightly older than The Child, and these projects are undertaken in stages. Currently, my latest research involves the developmental phase known as the Terrible Twos, otherwise known as temper tantrums because they aren’t getting what they want.

I know we’re meant to ignore the bad behaviour and praise the good, but when The Child deliberately throws food on the floor and stares at us defiantly, we have to do something — usually pushing her high chair away from the table so she can’t touch anything, and that’s when the crying starts. And when she tantrums somewhere relatively safe, i.e. lying on the floor somewhere, I try to leave her to it till she gets over it.

What I’d like to know are other parents’ methods of dealing with toddlers when they spit the dummy. What works for you?

Have my soup and eat it

Can I just say I’m getting really tired of this “I love soup!” / “I hate soup!” schizophrenia thing that’s going on? If we’re having soup and The Child acts like Gordon Ramsey in Kitchen Nightmares (without swearing — at least I assume she’s not swearing with all that babbling going on), the menu ain’t changing. She can bloody well have fruit.

“So, is The Child sleeping through the night yet?”

She naps like a champ

We get asked that every time we hear from The Mother-In-Law. The best The Child has ever managed is six hours, and that was only last week. Then she woke me up at 3am and nursed like a fiend till 7.

I am a firm believer that all babies are different, and some babies are just temperamentally more likely to sleep — or put themselves back to sleep — without needing their parents to interfere. Formula is harder for babies to digest than breastmilk, so they feel fuller for longer, which may help some of them sleep better. But as it seems unlikely for parents to allow researchers to mess about with their babies, feeding them formula and breastmilk on alternate nights in a laboratory setting, we’ll never really know if my belief holds true.

(I’m going to digress here and mention an advertisement for a power company that screened in the UK last year. Babies who are asking for milk at night do not wait calmly in their mum’s arms while Dad boils the kettle to heat up a bottle of formula. DO NOT BE FOOLED BY THIS BABY-MAKING PROPAGANDA. You want to hear blood-curdling screams? Delay giving a hungry baby milk. By a minute.)

My co-sleeping with her is what we have employed to get us through*. A ‘family bed’ is a nice term, but we have a double bed and a baby who likes to sleep perpendicular to her parents, which means either one or both of us will be barely hanging on to the bed while she snoozes with her finger up The Husband’s nose and foot on my throat. Placing the cot next to the bed with the side down worked for a while — then she got mobile and I was being wakened by The Child crawling up to me. We’ve tried many, many things to get her to sleep in her cot, but we finally gave in and moved her into the sofa bed in the second (and only spare) bedroom, so that her frequent night waking (and feeding) would be less exhausting. And perilous.

As I have not given birth to a baby who sleeps peacefully through the night nor self-settles without crying, I can’t attest to the existence of these creatures, but I am told there are definitely a few cases out there in the world. And I point at their reasonably well-rested mums and smile, because I’m thinking, SLEEP REGRESSIONS.

Oh yeah. Your babies who don’t disturb you? Or you’ve sleep-trained to not disturb you? Introduce a disruption: teething, illness, developmental advances like crawling, a holiday, and ha! What you think you’re suffering, it’s my daily life! I’m used to it, and you’re staggering about in bleary-eyed confusion, barely able to function.

(I take small victories where I can get them. Even if they’re a tiny bit Pyrrhic.)

If, like me, you have a child who wasn’t programmed naturally to sleep for hours at a time, take comfort (as I have) from the following blog posts in Psychology Today:

* Please remember that co-sleeping can be very dangerous if there is any risk of you rolling over onto your baby and not waking up, or of your bedding overheating and / or covering your baby’s face. It’s all about having good instincts and figuring out what will work for your family.

Cook: Purple sprouting broccoli pasta

Following this pasta recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall more or less as instructed turns out a quick and tasty meal. But as The Child isn’t too enamoured with chilli, I left it out.

You’ll need:

Pasta (we were given a 500g pack of organic penne and used about two-thirds)
Broccoli, purple sprouting or otherwise
A few cloves of garlic, chopped
A small tin of anchovies in oil

Boil the pasta and broccoli: boil the kettle, then pour the water into a pot. Add salt and oil, and when it’s boiling, add the pasta. When it’s five minutes from done (i.e. don’t use fresh pasta, or boil the broccoli first), snip in the broccoli in bite-sized chunks.

Make the sauce: heat some oil in another pan, then throw in the garlic and fry until you can smell it. Tip the anchovies, oil and all, into the pan. Stir it around until the anchovies break down into a brown mess.

And to finish: drain the pasta and broccoli, and tip it into the pan with the sauce. Mix well.