Easy home-made baby toys

There are so many baby toys in the shops, but as any mum will realise, babies are often more interested in the packaging or random kitchen implement that you’ve left lying around! You can channel this by making some of your own baby toys from things you might have lying around your house, or if not, easy and cheap to find in the shops (if I can find it in Hong Kong, then it can’t be that hard to come by!). There are so many ideas for making baby toys online – you can scour Pinterest or google to find them. I can’t remember where most of my ideas came from, but I’ve included references where I do know.

Here are some things that I’ve made for my own children. I hope you find inspiration to find some things to entertain your own babies with! (or you could make some for other babies that you know…)

Hanging toys

These were the first things that I made, and they comprised woolly pompoms and balls of tin foil.

I made some pompoms before the twins were born and blogged about how to do so here, and I hung these from their activity centre for them to bat at (note: these come apart pretty easily so keep them out of grabbing distance – mine are now almost completely demolished!).

The tin foil balls were the ones that caught their eye the most though, they took quite a bashing! I just scrunched up a large piece of foil into a ball and wrapped some string around it to hang it with. The foil balls did fall out of the string sometimes so you might want to try other ways of attaching the string – perhaps you could glue it inside somehow?

20140206_075659

You can see the pompoms and foil in the middle of this photo, although they’re a little blurred. I forget how small the twins were once upon a time!

Discovery bottles

These are so easy to make and my twins still play with them at 15 months. All you need to do is find some plastic bottles and put interesting things inside them. Here are some of the things that I have put inside our discovery bottles:

  • Beads of different sizes and colours (note: my twins didn’t like this when they were really little because it’s actually very noisy when shaken, but they love it now!)
  • Pipe cleaners, some curled into twirls
  • Little pompoms (bought from a stationary store)
  • Coloured rice

Discovery bottles baby toys

The easiest way that I found to make the coloured rice was to squirt a small amount of hand sanitiser into an old margarine tube, mix with a fairly generous amount of food colouring, and add enough rice so that it was all covered and there was no hand sanitiser left at the bottom. You really don’t need much hand sanitiser for this at all.

I got the idea for the discovery bottles here and they have lots of ideas for other things to put in the bottles too! I can’t find the website I used before for the rice colouring, but this one does the same thing.

Glitter bottle

These are everywhere online, they are sometimes called calm bottles or time out bottles. I ended up looking at a few different websites before I made mine so I can’t give a reference, but they’re really easy to make. A little side note: many people make them with mason jars or other glass jars but obviously that wouldn’t work for babies, so I just used a plastic bottle with relatively smooth sides so you can see the glitter easily.

To make mine, I filled the bottle most of the way up with fairly hot tap water. (Note: I tried using hot boiled water from the kettle but it melted the bottle! Do not try this!) Then I squeezed in two small tubes of glitter glue and poured in some additional loose glitter. I also added some CLEAR glue (again, I know by trial and error that white glue does not miraculously go clear in warm water and you end up with a foggy mess!) which slows the movement of the glitter in the bottle – the more glue you add, the slower the glitter settles. And finally, I added some food colouring.

The reason the water needs to be hot(ish) is to break up the glitter glue. I found that it clumped a bit to start with but after a couple of hours there were no more clumps even though my water wasn’t that hot to start with. If you’re not using glitter glue, you can just use clear glue and loose glitter, and you then don’t need to use hot water, it can be cold.

Here is my green glitter beauty!

Green glitter bottle

And here it is when the glitter has settled…

Glitter settled glitter bottle

I made mine in a fairly large 750ml bottle, which makes it quite heavy for the twins to lift and carry (although they still do) – I’d recommend using a smaller bottle, less than 500ml if possible, if you’re giving this to babies to play with.

Buttons

These were a big hit! I just bought large buttons (as big as I could find) in different colours from a button shop in Sham Shui Po (THE place to buy all things haberdashery in Hong Kong). The twins loved to play with them, bang them together and against anything else, drop them so they made a spinning noise on the floor (like a coin does), or watch while I spun them. It was fun trying to make as many spin at the same time as possible! Sadly, these had to go away when the twins got bigger because their mouths grew enough that they could fit the whole button in their mouths and would walk around like that! I hope they’ll come out again soon when they stop putting everything in their mouths.

Big buttons as toys

I got the idea for the buttons from one of the Babycentre emails, which features activities to do with your babies every week.

Ribbons

This was a bit of free thinking on my part, but partly based on some props used at a music class I go to with the twins. I had some hair bands lying around and bought some cheap brightly coloured ribbon (again, in Sham Shui Po) and just tied long lengths of ribbon to the hair bands. I tied simple knots in the ends of the ribbons to help stop fraying, but I’ve since bought a lighter which I now use to seal the ends of ribbons. I assumed that I would put the hair bands on their wrists, but they just like waving them around in their hands instead!

Ribbon pom poms

I also tied long lengths of doubled-up ribbons into a plait. I just did it for a fun thing to do, but Isobel quite likes playing with it.

Ribbon plait

Something else that I’ve seen at the same music class is that they sellotaped long lengths of ribbon to the end of a chopstick to make a streamer. I fancy doing this myself!

I’m sure there are many other toys you can make with ribbons, just let your imagination go wild!

Water play tray

I got this idea from this website. They used plastic milk bottle tops but I didn’t have any (for some reason the milk here comes in tetrapaks instead) so I used large jam jar lids instead. Also, I used a large oven tray on the floor rather than the high chair tray. My twins didn’t really get the idea of bashing the lids around the water so they float, but they did enjoy taking them out and trying to eat them. And also splashing the water all over the floor. This activity is best to do on a hard floor rather than carpet! As I said, my twins didn’t really get what was going on, but it did entertain them for 10-20 minutes so that gets a thumbs up in my book :)

Some other things that I’ve wanted to make but haven’t got round to yet…

Baby treasure baskets – basically find a basket or container and put things in that your baby will find interesting. Lots of ideas of what to put in on this website

Sensory bag for baby – looks like fun!

Rainbow spaghetti – colourful sensory play

Post the blocks – my twins are at an age now (15 months) where they just love to put things in things and take them out so I think they would love this. It probably isn’t very suitable for babies under 1 year as they won’t have the co-ordination, but you will know what your baby is and isn’t willing to try

Block painting – I’ve not tried much in the way of ‘art’ yet with my twins but this is something I’d love to try soon! I saw somewhere the idea of using plain yoghurt with food colouring in instead of paint if your baby likes to put everything in their mouths, which I think is a great idea!

Update: I have pinned many more things you can make or do with babies on my Activities for Babies Pinterest board – take a look if you’re looking for more inspiration!

Let me know if you have any other great ideas for easy to make baby toys. I’m sure the ideas must be endless!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

Advertisements

Tips for looking after newborn twins

Looking after twin babies is certainly a lot of work! There are many challenges that mums (and dads) of twins face, that parents of single babies don’t have. Plus of course, there is double the feeding, changing, crying etc.

I had a few ideas of what I wanted to write here, just some things that I’ve learned after looking after my babies (who now seem to be getting more grown up by the day!). But I thought I’d see if my twin mum friends had any suggestions too, so I got in touch with the Hong Kong Mothers of Multiples (MoMs) and they have supplied some of the tips below!

With that in mind, tip no. 1 is find your local mothers of multiples or twin support group. The Hong Kong MoMs can be found via their website or facebook page. It is inexpensive to become a member and then you get to meet all sorts of other lovely ladies who have been through or are about to go through what you are, and can offer lots of advice and support. I’ve really enjoyed being part of this group, and I think it’s a great aspect of being a twin mum!

Also, on the theme of support, accept all offers of help. This is particularly important in the first month or so. I was lucky enough to have my in-laws visiting for the first two weeks, and then my parents visiting for the next two weeks – I don’t think we could have got through that time without them! After 5 or 6 weeks, the babies were much easier to handle on my own (while Tom was at work) but that beginning time was tough, especially as I was a first time mum so it was a very steep learning curve! Friends also brought round food and one lovely couple cleaned up our flat a bit for us! Be aware that this is an exceptional time and you will want all the help you can get.

Get the babies’ father involved. This is really important, even now I think it would just be such hard work if Tom didn’t share the load. But I’m a lucky lady because he was prepared to do his part from the word ‘go’ and look after one of the babies in the night feeds, change nappies, soothe crying babies etc. In my limited experience, men have much less of an appreciation of what it’s going to be like to have a newborn (or two) around so discussing this before the babies are born and deciding who will do what is a sensible thing to do.

Eat well. I think this is actually pretty hard to do, especially at the beginning. Even now I struggle to find the time to prepare wholesome food for myself. But it’s really important especially if you’re exclusively or majority breastfeeding. You have a LOT of nutrients and calories leaving you several times a day and you need to replenish them! This advice is coming from a place of regret. I am still breastfeeding at 8 months and still trying to improve the quality and quantity of the food I eat.

If at all possible, try and get your twins doing the same thing at similar times e.g. feeding, sleeping. Sleeping is particularly important because if they don’t sleep at the same time then you’ll never get a break! Whether you decide to have a strict schedule (à la Gina Ford) or follow the babies’ cues is obviously totally up to you, but it’s good to have a bit of structure so that you know what’s coming next. I know quite a few twin mums who swear by Gina Ford and it’s really worked for them. I found that I couldn’t personally stick to a schedule like that and much preferred to have a loose daily routine where the timings fluctuated daily according to the babies. Even then, I don’t think we really settled into a routine for the first 2 or 3 months but from the start I made sure that they were at least in sync with each other.

20131020_123202

Feed your babies at the same time – it’s a total lifesaver! While my in laws and parents were around, I was feeding one at a time, which was fine (although very time consuming) because there was generally someone else there to look after the other baby when needed. When they left I quickly found that most feeds were a nightmare – one baby would cry while you feed the other one, and then they’d switch round! Feeding them both at the same time meant that they were both occupied, and also meant less time feeding. If you are breastfeeding, I’d recommend a U-shaped twins feeding cushion. I still use mine now (at 8 months)! I also found this page to be full of useful tips on breastfeeding twins. If you are bottle feeding then you might need to try a few things to see what works best, but I’ve heard of a few people who have sat on the floor with a baby in a bouncy chair on either side of them and held a bottle to each baby. One lady with twins slightly older than mine was showing me a photo the other day of her twins sat down with soft toys piled up on them and the bottles balanced on top!

Keep a log of what you did when and with whom. Here I’m talking about feeding, peeing, pooping etc. This is especially important if you’re not doing the same thing to both twins at the same time! In the fog of new mother-dom it’s very difficult to remember these things. I think we dropped the log after a month or so but in those early days it was very difficult to remember when the last feed for each baby was!

Try and get out with the babies every day. This may not be possible in the first month or two, but after a while it becomes necessary to maintain your sanity, as well as a nice change of scene for the babies. I wrote a blog post here on how I find getting out with the babies in Hong Kong, which puts a bit of a negative slant on it but most days we only pop to the local shops or walk around the area so it’s pretty straightforward. As I mention in the blog post, if I’m going in anywhere or travelling on public transport then I tend to use a single stroller for one baby and a carrier for the other, but if I’m just going for a walk nearby then I pop them in the double stroller. If you have a car, I think you’ll find it much easier to get out and about with twins – just make sure you can fit the double stroller in the boot (or ‘trunk’ for our American readers)!

I read somewhere not to worry if you spend more time on one twin than the other, it usually balances out in the end. When the twins were born, I found that Jack was much more time-intensive than Isobel because she was just more laid back and I worried that she wasn’t getting enough attention. But then a couple of months ago I found I was spending more time with Isobel and now I think it’s switched back again. So the advice was correct for me!

20131022_080507

Also, one of the other twin mums told me that some crying is inevitable, so don’t worry about that either. And she was right – when you are dealing with one (e.g. changing a nappy) and the other one starts getting grumpy for no obvious reason, then you just have to let them cry for a while until you are able to deal with it! If there are two of them and only one of you, you just have to accept that it’s going to happen and the babies will survive a bit of crying.

Treat them as individuals. I don’t know about identical twins, but the mums of non-identical twins who I have spoken to have found this one to be pretty easy because their babies are really different. Mine are no exception. Even despite this, you sometimes find yourself comparing them or lumping them together especially if you spend all your time with both twins together. At the newborn age it doesn’t matter so much as when they are older, but remember to celebrate the differences – and don’t give them matching names!

Have a glass of wine! This was a favourite tip among the Hong Kong MoMs! It’s really important to reward yourself and find a way to relax at the end of a long day, whether it’s a glass of wine, a nice bath or something else you enjoy.

Enjoy your babies. This is far easier said that done, especially in the early days when you are struggling to get by on very little sleep and it all just feels like really hard work. I remember all the cards we got when the babies were born saying ‘double the joy, double the love’ – and all I could think was ‘double the crying, half the sleep’! I think you just have to remember that it will get easier, and they change so quickly that you won’t get to enjoy them like they are now for very long. Celebrate each new skill they master and have lots of cuddles while you still can.

P1070143

Looking after newborn twins isn’t easy, but I hope these tips help. If you’re a twin mum with any tips of your own to add, please comment below – I’d love to hear how you found it!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

newsletter signup banner

What I’ve learned about newborn babies

This post originated from an email I sent to a few of my pregnant friends a couple of months ago. While it was still fresh in my mind (and rapidly coming up to their due dates) I wrote down some of the things that I learned about babies that I found most useful. I hoped it would help them on the steep learning curve that is becoming a parent for the first time.

So I thought I’d share my thoughts with you too. If any of you are expecting your first child soon, it may come in useful! Please note that every baby is different and what worked for me might not work for your baby. Also, I am by no means a childcare expert, nor do I have any training whatsoever. These are just based on my experiences with my baby twins (who are now approaching 6 months old).

Before birth

If you are intending to breastfeed, think about what you will wear for nursing in advance! I totally didn’t give it a moment’s thought and all the dresses that I usually wear (I love dresses) are totally inappropriate for breastfeeding (no access to the critical areas!). Luckily a friend of mine gave me a bag of second hand nursing tops – a total lifesaver! I would say that you don’t need specialist nursing tops (although they are very convenient) but loose tops and buttoned shirts work just as well. It’s worth just thinking about how it will work before the baby comes along!

I’d also recommend that you read a couple of baby books, just so you’re not totally unprepared. I read ‘A Contented House with Twins’ by Gina Ford and ‘The Baby Whisperer’ by Tracy Hogg. I would say that I took some tips from each but didn’t follow either religiously (see my point about this later on). It’s just nice to have some idea of what to do! I have also found the babycentre website to be very informative, and ‘Baby Love’ by Robin Barker is another great reference book (although not the sort of book to read from start to finish before the baby comes along, more one to dip into when you have questions you need answered).

The first few days

20131017_162742

Newborn babies do not have a hunger reflex. This was something I didn’t know. Therefore, at least to start with, you have to impose a feeding routine on them to make sure they get enough milk/colostrum (I fed mine every 3 hours). I found that both my babies (and one in particular) were very sleepy for the first few days and it was really difficult to get them to wake up enough to feed! So to start with I would just do what I could and assumed that they’d drink more at the next feed because they’d be hungry, but that wasn’t the case. My babies lost about 9% each of their body weight in the 5 days I was in hospital (standard time for a C-section in Hong Kong) which isn’t actually that uncommon, but I feel like I could have reduced the weight loss if I’d have tried harder to get them to feed. Be prepared to be mean to wake them up if you need to! Water on the hands and feet, tickling, blowing and removing clothes all help.

For the first month or two, be prepared to throw everything you’ve read about babies and structure/routines out the window. I just found that mine were just too little and new to cope with anything like this, and I wasn’t the sort of person who could impose it on them! I did try to have a pattern to my day, just to have something to aim for, but at the end of the day you just have to do whatever works for you and them in order to get through the days. For the first couple of months, you can’t spoil them by holding them too much, rocking them to sleep etc. so just try not to feel guilty and concentrate on loving and looking after your baby!

Using formula vs breastfeeding is a contentious issue. I’m very happy that my babies are majority breast fed and have been from birth (apart from anything else, formula is extortionately expensive in Hong Kong!), but they have also had formula pretty much every day since birth. I did feel guilty about giving them formula to start with but now I’m much more relaxed about it. Formula fed babies still thrive and you just have to do whatever works for you. I give my babies formula for a number of reasons including the fact that it took my body a few months for the milk production to settle down so sometimes I just didn’t have enough milk, my husband likes to feed the babies at least once a day and we take it in turns to do night feeds, and to start with it was a way of bringing their weight up as I was getting the hang of breastfeeding. I tried pumping a bit but I found it hard to get the ‘let down’ so hardly any milk came out to start with (although that’s not the case now) and I just didn’t have the time or energy for it! I know some of my friends exclusively breast fed their babies for a long time (including all the night feeds) and felt very guilty at the thought of giving formula, but sometimes it is just more practical to do so and your baby won’t be any the worse for the odd (or indeed most or all) formula feeds.

Write down somewhere what gifts people give you when your baby is born! We received so many presents but being very busy and sleep deprived at the time, we have no idea who gave what. If you gave us something for the twins when they were born then we thank you very much and we really appreciate it!

Settling down

P1070143

As you get over the first few days and weeks, you start to learn interesting things about your babies. For instance, they are fluff magnets! I don’t know where it all comes from! In the creases of their skin (especially the hands) they just seem to accumulate fluff – so bizarre. I was forever cleaning them out, although it seems to have calmed down now.

Also, regularly clean in the folds under the chin(s) and behind the ears. Vomit accumulates here and it goes crusty and stinks! Such an awful smell!

Another random thing I learned quite recently is that babies don’t sweat (although they do feel clammy sometimes so I don’t know how that works). So if your baby has a damp back when they wake up, unfortunately it means they have weed everywhere and not that they’ve got too warm!

If you are breastfeeding, you may find that it takes a while for your milk supply to settle down. I really wanted to breastfeed my twins as much as possible but at one stage I just wasn’t producing enough milk for a full day. I found that drinking loads of water and taking fenugreek tablets really helped. With the fenugreek, you need to take 2-3 capsules three times a day (i.e. quite a lot) – if you only have a little it doesn’t have any effect but I found when I took this much I was overflowing with milk! I didn’t have to take the tablets for very long (less than a week I think) to boost production enough to feed the twins. Your body makes as much milk as the babies drink so I guess eventually my production would have increased on its own but the fenugreek helped speed things up.

When the babies were really young we used a white noise YouTube video to help calm them to sleep. Some people swear by it (or a vacuum cleaner or hairdryer, which make a similar sort of noise), and whilst I think it did help a little, I’m not sure exactly how much effect it had on our babies. But to this day we find that shushing loudly in their ears helps to calm them. The theory is that this sort of noise reminds them of being in the womb (which is apparently very noisy).

I read somewhere that no baby fits one of the parenting books exactly, and I personally agree with this. I think it’s good to read some books so you can make an informed decision about how you want to structure your days but you need to figure out what suits you and your baby and work around that. For example, Gina Ford’s books set out a very rigid routine for the day. I thought I liked the idea of a routine before I had babies (don’t let them rule the roost!) but once they came along I realised I just couldn’t do it. Apart from the fact that I couldn’t figure out how on earth you’re supposed to make a baby sleep when you tell it to, I’m just not the sort of person who can stick to times that precisely. I tried but then I’d realise that I was running late all the time! So I have taken the rough structure of the day that Gina Ford suggests but I ignore her timings. My babies nap when they get tired so the timings of their 3 naps a day can vary by up to an hour. But they do always go to bed in the evening at roughly the same time. Anyway, my point is that I think having a repetitive structure to your day is good for the babies but how that works out in reality will vary depending on your and your baby’s personalities!

One of the hardest aspects that I found of becoming a parent is that I have very little time to myself any more. Before the babies were born I had several months when I wasn’t working so I had all day to indulge myself with my jewellery and this blog and anything else I chose to do, but of course that came to an end once the babies were born! Now they nap fairly consistently during the day so I get a little time to do the non-baby things that I want to do, but I guess as they get older and sleep less that’s going to reduce again. Also, I think if you go from working full time to looking after a baby then it must be quite a massive lifestyle change. I believe a lot of women struggle with this, but it helps if you are expecting it and have thought about it in advance. I guess you have to figure out how you can still get some of your favourite activities into your week and otherwise try and embrace this new lifestyle. Making other mummy friends definitely helps as it’s quite social and a nice way to spend time so that it’s not just you and your baby all day long. I try and meet up with people once or twice a week (some are mummy friends, some are just friends who don’t work full time) and we go to a couple of baby groups once or twice a week.

So, like I said, these were the things I found most useful when looking after my newborn babies. I hope you find them useful if you are expecting a baby! Please leave a comment below if you have anything to add that you found really useful too!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

newsletter signup banner

 

What I’ve learned about twin pregnancies

When I found out I was pregnant with twins, it was a bit of a surprise (there are no other twins in my family!) and I knew very little about pregnancy, let along twin pregnancies. Along the way I’ve had to find and filter information and come to my own conclusions about what is best for the twins. Therefore, I thought I’d share some of the knowledge that I’ve gained in the hope that it will help other twin mums-to-be.

First of all, a disclaimer: I’m not a medical expert in any way shape or form. These are just my opinions based on my own experiences and my interpretation of the material that I’ve read. Please use your own judgement when reading this and come to your own conclusions.

The most important thing that I’ve come to realise is that twin pregnancies are different to single pregnancies, and you need to treat them as such. They take a much larger toll on your body and carry a whole extra set of risks. I’ve been very lucky with my pregnancy, which has gone very smoothly but I know of other twin mums who have had complications, been put on bed rest or given birth to pretty premature babies. It is really important that you look after yourself throughout your pregnancy to give your babies the best possible start. Now I am over 37 weeks pregnant with healthy-looking full-size babies who are currently showing no signs of wanting to come out!

Please don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing: I was admitted twice to hospital with threatened miscarriage twice very early in the pregnancy. Thankfully both times the babies were fine. I think that problems like this, and exaggerated pregnancy symptoms (such as morning sickness and heartburn) are all part and parcel of twin pregnancies.

Rest

I would recommend that you slow down and rest as much as possible. I’ve been in the fortunate position that for most of my pregnancy I was only working part time and since about 24 weeks I’ve not been working at all (my Etsy shop is now my work but I can do that at my own pace!). I attribute this to a significant part of how well my pregnancy has gone. If I’m tired, I can sleep in in the morning or stop what I’m doing and take a nap. I realise that many others may not have this luxury but you still need to rest as much as possible. At the very least, you will want to stop work earlier than if you were having a single baby.

More significantly, you need to listen to your body. At various points along the pregnancy, I’ve been out doing something and fatigue has totally overcome me either then or the next day which made me realise that I can’t do that anymore! For example, we were showing some friends around Hong Kong and I just got too hot and tired and had to sit down and let them continue without me. I learned from that that I needed to avoid being out in such hot weather for long periods of time. Since then, the amount I can do has gradually got less and less and now at the end of my pregnancy I barely leave the house. My body quickly tells me if I’ve done too much!

Eat well

This was an area that I found very confusing. I read a book called ‘When You’re Expecting Twins’ by Dr Barbara Luke, and she advocates that twin mums-to-be consume 3500 calories a day (a huge amount) and lists the amount of weight that you should have put on every few weeks! I read this book when I was at about 24 weeks and I had only put on about half the prescribed amount! By contrast, the NHS guidelines say that you should not eat any more than normal until the end of your pregnancy, when you should consume an extra 300 calories per baby per day.

After talking to a few people and deliberating this a large amount I opted for a middle ground. I do actually believe that you need to eat more than usual throughout a twin pregnancy, despite what the NHS says. By 24 weeks (during which I had been eating a similar amount to pre-pregnancy) I felt that I had lost a little weight off the rest of my body, although the bump and babies were growing well. I was a little worried that I wouldn’t have enough stores to make breast milk once the babies were born too.

One twin mum told me that her doctor had suggested eating 6 small meals a day, each with some protein in. I felt that this style of eating didn’t quite suit me, but I adjusted my diet to include more protein and added substantial snacks mid-morning and mid-afternoon (sometimes more than one!). I now try to eat as much protein and calcium as I can, and lots of fruit and veggies too. Since then I have gained weight much more steadily and I actually feel a bit podgy now! I’m hoping that breastfeeding will help to take away the excess weight!

Here are some examples of the things I’ve been eating:

  • Cheese and ham sandwich
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Pancakes
  • Omelettes
  • Jacket potato with cheese (I don’t like baked beans but these would be a good addition too)
  • Chunky soup
  • Porridge
  • Peanut butter on toast
  • Cereal bars
  • Dried fruit and nuts
  • Raw carrot and hummus
  • Yogurt

Strengthen your core

About halfway through my pregnancy, I started getting backache. I’ve never been a particularly fit or physically strong person and I guess my body was just complaining about the extra weight on my front. Therefore I’d recommend that early on in a twin pregnancy you should start building up your core, perhaps through pregnancy-specific back exercises, prenatal yoga or prenatal pilates.

However, I have to admit that I didn’t do any of these – perhaps I am just too lazy! Some other twin mums recommended buying a pregnancy support belt and it has been a bit of a lifesaver for me. I wear it every day and whilst my backache isn’t completely gone, it has definitely been alleviated to significant extent.

Another thing that I found is that some of my bras were getting too tight and giving me backache or sore ribs. A bra extender (or two) helps with this (or you could just buy bigger bras…).

Get support

I joined the Hong Kong Mothers of Multiples group, and I’ve really enjoyed meeting with other women who have been through or are going through the same thing as me. It’s good to know that I can turn to them if I have any questions or problems. I’d really recommend other twin mums and mums-to-be find a mothers of multiples group in their area. I think most areas have them.

In the UK, there is an organisation called TAMBA (Twin and Multiple Births Association) who are a great source of information. They also have a hotline that mothers of multiples can call if they have any problems, and they run twin-specific antenatal and parenting classes. If was in the UK I’d definitely have joined!

There are other online sources of information too, although I have to admit I haven’t really used them. Some examples include:

What to buy

I think deciding what you need or want to buy for your babies is a very personal thing but you need to remember that you don’t actually need two of everything! For example, we have only purchased one cot (and no bassinets). While the twins are small, you can put them both in the same cot – and I read somewhere that often twins like to be near each other as it mimics their conditions in the womb. Similarly, you only need one bath, one changing table/mat and one set of toys (they can share). However, you will need twice as many clothes, bedding, nappies (diapers) and feeding bottles!

We have gone fairly extreme in our aims to keep purchasing to a minimum and have only bought a single stroller (pushchair). Double pushchairs aren’t very practical in Hong Kong as they tend to be big and heavy, and most people here use baby carriers instead of pushchairs anyway. Our plan is that if Tom and I are out together we’ll take one baby each in a baby carrier, and if I’m on my own, I’ll carry one and push the other one in the stroller. We’ll see how well that works!

We’ve also bought a lot of things second hand, partly because there is no point in spending a lot of money on things that the babies will grow out of quickly, and also because baby stuff in Hong Kong is very expensive! Here are some great sources of second hand baby goods in Hong Kong:

  • AsiaXpat – this is the most active with something like 100 new listings per day
  • Discovery Bay Flea Market – DB has a LOT of families (and a surprising number of twins) so there are new things going up all the time. I don’t live in DB but I’ve still bought things from here
  • GeoBaby – not as active but still worth a look
  • swap-it-hk – very active but not just baby/children stuff
  • Hong Kong Mothers of Multiples – occasionally people sell things through this facebook group, sometimes very useful twin-specific items

So those are my main learnings from my pregnancy. As I said, this is all based on my own opinions so if you are a twin mum or mum-to-be and you disagree with any of these or have additional things to add, please do write them in the comments below! I’d love to hear your experiences!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

Two ways of making woolly pompoms

When I was younger and a family member or friend was expecting a baby, my Mum would encourage me and my brother to make pompoms for the new baby. So it seemed only right that I would make a few for my own twins who are due any day!

Woolly pompoms galore

I have found 2 ways of making pompoms, which I will call the ‘traditional’ way and the ‘quick’ way. Let’s start with the traditional way.

For this you will need:

  • Wool (any type, in 1 or more colours)
  • Card (I used a piece of a cardboard box)
  • Scissors

Cut out two circles the same size from the card. The circles should be roughly the same diameter as you want your finished pompoms to be. Now cut smaller circles from the centre of your circles so that you have two rings. I made two sizes of pompoms: for the larger ones I made the circles 7cm in diameter with a 2.8cm hole, and for the smaller ones I made the circles 5cm in diameter with a 2cm hole.

T1 card rings and spools

Cut your wool into manageable lengths and wrap into spools (pictured above). I found that 3-4 arm lengths of wool per spool was about right.

Put your two card rings together and start wrapping the wool round. It is best if you start with the free end at the outside edge so that it matches where the rest of the pompom ends will be.

T2 starting off

T3 threading the wool

T4 winding the wool tightly

When you are wrapping, pull the wool fairly tight. Keep wrapping until you have finished your little spool of wool. Trim the free end so that it finishes at the outside edge of your card ring.

T5 one spool completed

Start the next spool of wool next to where you left off. Depending on how you want your finished pompom to look, you may want to choose a different colour for the next spool. I used 4 colours of wool in this pattern, and made each one go about one-fifth of the way round the card ring.

T6 one layer completed

Once you’ve gone all the way round the card ring once, start another layer on top of the previous one. I decided to stagger my colours so that the pompom would have random patches of colour.

T7 second layer

Keep going until the hole in the middle of the ring becomes very small!

T8 winding completed

Now for the fun part! Using your scissors, cut around the end of your ring. Once you have cut through all the layers in one place, you can slot the scissors between the two pieces of card to make sure that you are cutting in the centre.

T9 cutting the wool

Go all the way round. Your pompom should look like this.

T10 after cutting

Take another length of wool and slot it between the two pieces of card. This piece of wool will also double as a hanging loop, so make it twice as long as you want your hanging loop to be. Wrap it around the entire pompom and pull tight. Now tie a knot, as tightly as you can. This will hold your pompom together so it needs to be pretty tight! I made mine a triple knot, just to be on the safe side.

T11 tying the knot

Now, cut off the card rings.

T12 cutting the card off

And here is your pompom! You might need to trim the wool a little to make your pompom nice and round with no ends sticking out.

T13 finished pompom

Just a little tip: the tighter you pull your wool when you are wrapping it, the denser your pompom will be. The pompom on the left was wrapped fairly loosely, whereas the pompom on the right was wrapped much tighter!

Patchy pompoms

You can adjust the design of your pompom, depending on the pattern in which you wrap your colours of wool. For the pompom on the left below, I made stripes by making each layer of wool a different colour. For the pompom on the right, I made segments by wrapping each quarter of the ring in the same colour all the way through the layers.

Pompom patterns

However, I have nothing on Mr Printables. His pompoms are amazing! He has blogged tutorials on how to create flowers, letters, and even animals in his pompoms! I’d recommend that you have a look. I’m thinking about trying the letters, and doing one with the initial of each baby in. But I can’t do that until after they’re born, otherwise you might guess what the names will be and we’re keeping them secret!

Ok, now for the quick method. You can only really use this for one colour pompoms. I have adapted this method from one that I found here, which describes how to make a mini pompom using a fork. I wanted my pompom to be a little bigger, so I used my hand!

Wrap your wool multiple times around three fingers until you have quite a fat wool ring. The more times you wrap, the denser your pompom will be.

Q1 winding wool around fingers

Transfer your wool ring to two fingers on your other hand. Take another length of wool and thread it between your fingers and around the middle of your wool ring.

Q2 threading the central length

Pull the wool length tight and tie a knot (you might want to take the wool off your fingers first).

Q3 tying the knot

Cut through the loops on each side of the knot.

Q4 cutting the wool

Your pompom will probably look like this. It’s pretty rough and ready!

Q5 rough and reading pompom

Time to start trimming…

Q6 trimming the pompom

Feel free to be pretty brutal with your trimming, until you have a roughly round and even pompom with as few ends sticking out as possible.

Q7 finished pompom

So there you have it, two ways to make pompoms. Do let me know if you have a go yourself, and especially if you try to make a specific design in yours. I’d love to see them!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

Handmade too-cute-to-be-true felt baby shoes!

When I saw this tutorial for felt baby shoes on The Purl Bee, I knew I had to give it a go. They are so cute! Two of my friends had babies a couple of months ago, so I thought they would make great (albeit slightly late) presents for them.

Handmade felt baby shoes

By the way, The Purl Bee is a blog with a whole load of great sewing, kitting and crochet tutorials (with links to buy the materials from their shop, Purl Soho). I want to make almost everything I see on there! Unfortunately I need to learn to sew, knit and crochet first…

Anyway, click here for the tutorial for the baby shoes. They were ridiculously easy to make and took a sewing novice like me about an hour and a half to make a pair. The tutorial is so good that I don’t even have any tips to add! It tells you everything you need to know.

Felt baby shoes red

The only difference between my shoes and theirs is that I didn’t read the materials list carefully enough and I bought normal 6-stranded embroidery thread, rather than the different type that they recommend. I used 3 strands to sew my shoes, and it seems to have worked ok!

Felt baby shoes stitching

Here are my finished shoes. They should fit a 3 month old baby. Luckily my friends’ babies are both quite small as they were born a few weeks early so I’m hoping that they’ll receive the shoes before the babies are too big for them!

Hand sewn felt baby shoes

I think I may have to buy some more felt and make some for my own little ones when they are born…

Thanks for reading!

Rachel