Its time for us to board a flight! Yippiee.. But its never so easy with a toddler is it?! with all the excitement in the air, there is one imp factor which I MUST look into..yes my toddler ofcourse. packing for him alone is a whole new story. although i have taken an international flight (alone!!) with B, everytime it is a different story.

ok so how do you go about it? i mean packing for the toddler.. so here’s my tips on travelling (by experience ofcourse!) and what i am doing for my travel on fri.

  1. first and the most obvious is check if your travel destination is baby friendly and to what extent (NZ is totally baby friendly and since my travel now is local i am relaxed!)
  2. depending on the length of the flight, you might want to book a seat in front with enough leg room for yourself. Toddlers will definitely not fit in the bassinet provided but your baby can rest there peacefully.
  3. i had taken a night time flight with B for his first travel and i would highly recommend it.  i would recommend taking a flight during their nap or sleep time so they remain sleeping throughout the journey and don’t have to go through the ear pains caused by change in pressure. if for some reason they are awake during take off and landing (B was so excited for his first travel that he fought his sleep at 12.30am to experience the take off!), make them munch on food or drink water or milk.
  4. stroller? yes i think you should if your holiday is a travel and you will be out the whole day.
  5. food? not all destinations have kids meal and even if they do, who’s to tell what your toddler’s mood is going to be like? so its best to think ahead and carry your toddler’s fav snacks along for the long drives (remember hungry toddler/baby is super cranky).
  6. always (and i repeat again), always have a separate bag for your baby/toddler. its just so easy this way. DO NOT mix your clothes with your little one’s. you will never be able to find their XS size socks amongst your L size jackets! trust me.
  7. diaper bag is a must! try not to have a carry-on or cabin luggage for yourself as you already have a toddler and 10 other stuff of his to carry along.

and so now that this is clear, its time to start packing. check the weather of your holiday destination in advance so you know what you are packing for. our holiday is for 3 nights 4 days, hotel accommodation, and destination is windy with a few showers so i am going to pack accordingly.

Untitled-22Diaper Bag/Hand bag

  1. Diapers, wet wipes, nappy rash cream – atleast 3 diapers, you know all about this!
  2. Ipad – it has all of B’s fav games and books to read! I cant go without this and you cant really rely on in-flight entertainment for toddlers. they need their stuff they are comfortable with.  keep it fully charged. if not for the flight (its just max an hour long flight), i will need it for the drives during the holiday.
  3. Formula and milk bottle – if its a long flight, its good to have your formula dispenser full to make atleast 3 bottles of milk. for my last trip, i carried the 250ml milk packets for B (he has on cow milk then). either empty them in their milk bottle or let them sip it with the straw.
  4. water – to keep the little ones hydrated if they are not eating enough during the flight.
  5. Books – since B loves his books, i will be keeping his fav in my diaper bag and a few more in his checked-in baggage.
  6. A change of clothing – atleast 1 set of clothing for spills.
  7. Hand sanitizer – i cant really trust B’s inquisitive mind and hands anymore!
  8. A few snacks – B’s fruit sticks, multigrain Cheerios, crackers, biscuits to keep them busy during take offs and landing.
  9. Packet of tissues – for any clean ups.
  10. Wash cloth or hand towel – for accidental spills.
  11. Bib – atleast 2 bibs for under 2s.
  12. Jacket – airports and planes can get a bit cold for the little ones.
  13. Blanket – if B decides to sleep in the flight, or in his stroller or car.
  14. And lastly his Teddy! after all his teddy needs a holiday more than B!

Untitled-23Checked-in luggage

  1. Clothes – pack atleast 3 pairs for each day for your baby and 2 pairs for each day for toddler. since we are staying in a hotel and laundry may not be an option, i will keep an extra pair as well. so i have socks, tees, jeans, caps, hooded puffer jacket, hooded jackets, hooded sweatshirt (yes my destination is quite windy), vests, shoes, belts. add in sleepwear as well. depending on your destination, you can also pack in swimwear/beachwear.
  2. Toiletries – no hotel will ever provide baby shampoo and i just cant risk using them on B. so i am packing B’s face towel, bathrobe, his shampoo, ‘Mr. Frog’ loofah, body cream, sunblock.
  3. Wipes, diapers – if its a short holiday, carry extra with you since some destinations wont have the same brand or for the same price.
  4. First aid – anti repellent roll-on, an anti bacterial cream, nasal spray (B catches a cold with the slightest change in weather), paracetamol, baby balm, measuring spoon, digital thermometer and other basics.
  5. Water bottle – one more..
  6. milk bottle – one more. don’t forget the brush and other accessories to clean the bottles.
  7. Lunch bag – to carry B’s snacks for each day. he’s super excited to carry his bags.
  8. Blanket – carry an extra one which is more warmer for the night sleep (if your baby/toddler is going to sleep in the cot provided by the hotel) or you can use the hotel blanket if your little one is going to sleep on your bed.
  9. Books/Toys – you wont need many if you are going to be out whole day. but i will need a few books for B’s bedtime! and maybe his few fav cars and puzzles for the long car rides. basically you need small flat toys that don’t occupy space.
  10. Snacks – a few extra for each day since i am not sure i will get them at my destination.

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i have heard so much about these cookie dough cupcakes that i just had to try them out. so for M’s bday, this was his treat.

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i am totally addicted to this cookie dough. for all the cookie and chocolate lovers, this is THE recipe!

there is also an absolutely delicious cookie dough frosting recipe which i did not use, but will surely share it here. you will then need some chocolate chips to garnish over the frosting. you can also use a mini cookie on each cupcake for decoration.

Ingredients

COOKIE DOUGH FILLING
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips

CUPCAKES
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

COOKIE DOUGH FROSTING
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

GARNISH
additional mini chocolate chips
12 mini Chips Ahoy cookies

Method

Untitled-211. Prepare the cookie dough filling (see *Notes below): In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to stir together the butter, sugars, milk and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients and the chocolate chips. Refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes, or until the cookie dough is firm. Scoop out dough in 2 tablespoon scoops and place it on a cookie sheet. Freeze until firm, at least 30 minutes.

Untitled-162. Prepare the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a cupcake pan with 12 liners. Place the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda and salt in a blender. Blend to combine. Add the water, oil, egg and vanilla. Blend to combine, scraping down the sides as needed a couple of times until all is well mixed. Divide the batter between the 12 cupcake liners. Drop a ball of frozen chocolate chip cookie dough into the center of each cupcake. If you would like the cookie dough to bake up slightly, keep the top visible as pictured. If you’d like to keep the cookie dough somewhat raw, push it to the bottom of the cupcake wrapper, making sure that the batter comes up and over the dough.

Untitled-193. Bake the cupcakes for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cupcake portion of the cupcake (not tested through the center where the dough is), comes out fairly clean. Cool the cupcakes completely before adding the frosting.

Untitled-184. Prepare the frosting: In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to combine the butter and sugars until smooth and creamy. Mix in the flour, milk and vanilla and continue to mix until all is well combined. Frost cupcakes with a knife or scoop the frosting into a piping bag and pipe it on decoratively. Sprinkle mini chips on top and garnish with a small chocolate chip cookie. OR you can simply decorate it as pictured in this post below.

Untitled-20Notes:

1. You don’t necessarily have to melt the butter and refrigerate the dough before scooping. The melted butter just helps the sugar dissolve a bit more so you don’t have that grainy texture in the cookie dough. It is necessary to freeze it though.

Tired of the traditional lasagne with mince? have you tried it with chicken? a few days ago i made lasagne with chicken, spinach and other veggies in a creamy white sauce. turned out quite tasty and different.

Untitled-3Ingredients
500gms boneless chicken
1 cup washed fresh baby spinach (change the quantity as per your liking)
1-2 cup of vegetables of your choice (i added broccoli, mushrooms and carrots)
2 cups white sauce (or more as per your liking)
2-3 lasagne sheets (to cover base of the baking tray)
salt to taste
1 teaspoon garlic paste
1 teaspoon ginger paste
black pepper to taste
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Method
1. Pre heat the oven to 180deg C.
2. Marinate the chicken pieces in garlic and ginger paste. Keep aside.
3. Cut the vegetables of your choice. In a mixing bowl, mix in the spinach leaves and the vegetables. Next pour the white sauce (or other sauce of your choice) and mix it. Put in the chicken pieces. Add salt and pepper as to taste.

Untitled-14. In your baking tray, line the base of the tray with lasagne sheets till it is completely covered. Pour over the chicken and sauce mixture evenly. Sprinkle grated cheese or cheese slices over it. Cover it and place it in the oven for 20-30 minutes. The chicken should be done. Please note baking time varies for different ovens.
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Note-
1. You can also use the Bechamel sauce you get in stores instead of making white sauce.
2. Baking time varies for different ovens. You may have to bake for longer than 30 minutes. Do check the progress after 20 minutes.
3. I used the pre-cooked lasagne sheets and hence needed no boiling prior to using it.

phases

i really enjoyed reading a blog ‘Scary Mommy’ recently where the blogger writes about 15 phases her boys (aged 5+) are going or went through. and that got me thinking about B’s various phases since birth. tiresome, funny, cute, hilarious are just a few words i use to describe those times.

1. Sleep Deprivation. This phase is mostly for the moms when you don’t remember the last time you had a good 5 hours sleep at a stretch. Luckily this phase just lasted for 4-5 months for me when miraculously B decided to sleep full nights, giving me my 7 hours of night sleep again! and just when i thought things are getting easier…

2. On the move. when B wanted to put every choking hazard in his mouth. the highlight of this phase was he gulping down half a magazine and then puking it all out on the floor! my ability to complete any household task was seriously compromised, if not completely destroyed. B would initially crawl on his tummy so i would determine how dirty my house was based on the dirt stuck or collected by his tshirts (i called him a ‘mop’ and would be glad when he would swim on the kitchen floor on his tummy!). and later by the shade of gray (or black) on his knees and on the tops of his feet and palms.

3. Walking. i still remember when he took his first steps independently. there was just no sitting-down for him after that. and that evening we went to the mall and made his ‘nana’ chase him all around the mall while ‘nani’ and i shopped!

4. Carrots. He only wanted to eat carrots. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. He had to get the taste of carrots in every dish he ate. he would finish 2 carrots in a day when he was just 7 months.

5. Anything and everything sweet. if his meals were not sweet, he would not eat. i would take turns to add peas, corn, carrots, kumara in his meals. thankgod this phase did not last long. i hated mashing peas and corn!

6. Only plain roti. this phase still frequently visits B. he will only eat plain roti, without any gravy. unless its mango puree. then its another story all together.

7. The Simpsons. his recent on-going phase and craze. its cute. finally something gets him to sit straight on the sofa on a stretch of 30 minutes.

8. Mickey mouse. this was his phase before the simpsons.

9. Drinking only from a glass. when he was introduced to the glass concept, he wanted to drink water 24/7, only from a glass. he would take a few sips and then tilt the glass 180 deg down. we had wet patches on the carpet for weeks. this phase took a long time to go! sigh…

10. Cheerios. this was his love, and still is. but there was a phase when he only ate cheerios. cheerios was the first item on our shopping list.

11. Burhan eat. it all started when he did not eat for a few days and got me all worried and worked up. that’s when i realised he wanted to eat by himself. he would say ‘Burhan eat’ and would take the spoon from me and feed himself. although this phase tested my patience and was completely messy from M to Y, i am happy this phase happened.

12. read book. B LOVES books so i am not surprised when there were days he would get obsessed with ‘mummy read this book’!! while eating, washing dishes, before sleeping, while cooking etc.

13. You build and i break the blocks. every kid goes through this Lego Blocks phase. B would make M build a ‘big bus’ and he would break it off in secs and the cycle would continue. and once the phase dies off, the blocks are thrown in every corner, waiting to be stamped upon by us! Ouch… this phase comes every 2 months. now he builds and breaks it himself and throws it everywhere!

14. Cars. started after his first bday. there were days when he only played with cars, wanted every car he saw in any shop and would embarrass you in public if he did not get it. yea happened in dubai – he stared angrily at the cashier for taking 5 long secs to scan the car and give it back to him!

15. Drink from all the bottles at home. again this a recurring phase. pour water in different bottles and drink, whether thirsty or not! crazy fascination with bottles!

16. Throw out the boxes/containers. for days and weeks at a stretch this was B’s hobby. Opening the kitchen drawer and throwing out all the containers and lids all over the kitchen floor. So many of my lids got crushed beneath our feet! and once the drawer would be totally empty, he would climb in it. Mission accomplished!

17. Wear all shoes. he was obsessed/over protective of his shoes. he would carry and wear them around the house, put them in the cupboard, on the pantry shelves. i remember he would wear M’s shoes around the house and then remove and put them safely, whereas throw my shoes down!

Yes. today i am going to share my story of B taking his first spoonful. his ‘new life’ beyond his bottles.

honestly i was very excited the day B had his first spoon. compared to the various articles i read saying it would be quite challenging, i found B enjoying his solids. somewhere even i was getting bored of his boring milk routine and this phase bought in quite a bit of excitement then (although now i wish for the boring milk routine again!).

SO. i started giving him solids when he turned 6 months. doctors say a baby is ready for solids between 4-6 months but its ideal if started at 6 months, since milk is all they require till then. although this is not the case for all babies. i had given B some banana puree when he was 4 months but it did not go down too well with him and so his doctor advised 6 months.

to start with, always give your baby solids when he/she is relaxed and happy (after the milk). i choose the time after B would wake up from his morning nap. he would be fresh and wide awake then. since i did not have his highchair then, i made sit in his car-seat. Bib is a MUST! there were days when B’s bib had more food than him!

i started with just 1-2 tablespoons of smooth, runny, slightly warm fruit puree, once a day. To my luck, B actually liked the idea of having solids and eating from a spoon. ofcourse it took a few days for him to learn to suck the food of the spoon but, i don’t remember he ever throwing food out of his mouth (now its a total different scene!). for the first 2 weeks i gave him solids once a week, then i gradually increased to twice a day, seeing his increase in appetite. i would give one new food item for 3-4 days for him to develop a taste for it, before trying a new one.

at 6 months, the first fruit purees to start with is apple, pear, plums, ripe banana, peach, apricot, mango, avocado. i used to steam the fruit and then puree it. you can also start with veggies like carrot, potato, kumara, pumpkin. again, remove skin, steam and puree. for cereals, i used to give B Farex baby cereals. i used to get the original multi-grain and rice cereal. B never liked it so i ended up giving him fruit purees instead, in the morning. then gradually mixed the purees in the cereal and made that his breakfast. i also gave him dal (lentil soup) mixed with rice cereal for his lunches. he used to love this.

first foodsby 7-8 months B was having 2-3 solid meals a day (after having his milk). at this stage, i tried new food textures with him. i would still steam the food but then would mash it with a fork, instead of pureeing it. This helped him to learn to chew. i also started giving him spinach, cheese, paneer (indian cottage cheese), yogurt, custard (i used the Wattie’s desserts a lot), pasta, bread. some days his dinner would be cheese and avocado spread on bread! yumm! i grated the paneer and cooked it a bit with the spinach puree. sometimes i would add the Farex cereal to it to make it a complete lunch or dinner for B. with pasta, i have tried many different recipes. the best was mashing B’s fav veggies, mixing it with pasta (mashed a bit) and adding some seasoning. we would think its bland, but babies like it. plus that’s how they will start to like the basic taste of veggies, or any food item.

B started having his first finger foods at this stage too. i started with Cheerios and he loved it. i also gave him Farex teething rusks by 7 months. he would happily munch on his Arrowroot milk biscuits for his evening snack. hot roti (indian bread) off the stove was his fav too. by 9-10 months he would have raw fruit as his finger food. oranges were and still is his fav fruit!

first foods1by 12 months, he was all ready to eat our food. he wanted the food that came off our plate. so just after he turned 1 year, i slowly started to give him our food but with less spices. then gradually increased it to our taste. but he still cant have very spicy food so now M and I have changed our food to suit his taste! i just can’t cook 2 versions of the same food everyday! so i now opt for foods like baked pies, risottos, couscous, pasta bake, veg bake, gravy-based dishes so its easy for B to eat with a spoon or simply dip the roti in the gravy and eat.