If there’s any way to make looking after a baby or toddler a little easier, most mums and dads will grab it with both hands.
Blogger Kate Murnane (katemurnane.com) knows how hard it is to get everything done, as she regularly posts videos and blogs for her 348,000 YouTube followers, while looking after her two young sons, Archie, aged six, and Elliot, three. Like most mums, she’s picked up tips and tricks on her motherhood journey, and is now sharing them in her new book, The Little Book Of Mum Hacks.
“My main reason for writing the book was to share my passion for making life as a parent that little bit easier,” she says. “All we can do is try our best and, thankfully, there’s often a way to do something quicker, or more simply and efficiently, that enables us to free up that one thing we can’t get more of – time.”
Here are some of Murnane’s favourite hacks…
“I couldn’t have got through the first night of being a new mum without this hack, and I’m so shocked at how many people have told me they didn’t know this simple trick,” she says.
Instead of taking a baby vest off over baby’s head, you can pull it down over their shoulders, thanks to the stretchy envelope neckline on almost all baby vests, she explains.
“This was an especially useful hack for us, as my first son was very ‘mucus-y’ when he was born, and was sick about five times that first night in the hospital (so don’t let anyone tell you you’re taking in too many outfits, we got through them all and needed more).
“Aside from sick, this hack also comes in handy for poo explosions, as it helps you keep the mess away from your baby’s face, allowing you to change them with the least amount of upset for both of you, and to keep things as clean as possible. It’s also useful when your child gets to the wriggly, crawling-away-as-you’re-trying-to-change-them stage, as you can quickly pull the vest off them as they zoom in the other direction!”
Munane doesn’t shy away from the subject all new parents know about but don’t love – poo explosions – pointing out that they definitely take a bit of getting used to, and quickly turn all the beautiful white vests, baby grows and expensive outfits a much less attractive mustard shade, even after a few washes. But never fear – your lovely baby whites can shine again with a simple sunshine hack, she promises.
“The day I discovered the sun is nature’s way of bleaching stains, I have to say, I felt like a genius,” she says. “Place the washed item of clothing in the sun and watch the poo stains disappear. OK, maybe give it a few hours. But it’ll happen!”
She says it works best on white clothes, and also works well on soft baby pinks, blues and pastels. But avoid anything brightly-coloured, as the sun will bleach the vibrant colours too.
Baby-led weaning, where young children explore the texture and taste of food with their hands and mouths, can be messy, and Murnane points out that because babies’ little hands are still learning to grasp, it’s not unusual for them to struggle to hold certain foods initially, so most of them end up on the floor. But there’s an ingenious way to help your baby hold food, she says.
“Try using a crinkle-cut potato cutter to cut your baby’s cooked vegetables, and even some fruits. The ridges will give them a better grip on slippy foods. Some fruit and veg can be really difficult for small, uncoordinated hands to grip – instead of a carrot stick, it would look and feel more like a crinkle-cut chip.”
As babies leave the newborn stage, they start to focus better on objects, faces and lights, and Murnane says they’ll really enjoy and be stimulated by safe, sensory home-made toys.
She suggests: “Fill a box with household objects that have different textures, and make different sounds, such as a rattle they can begin to grasp, brightly-coloured or black and white objects, or pictures with bold patterns, that will catch their attention and make them want to explore.”
All parents of toddlers will know they’re fascinated by things like keys, zips and handles, and love seeing how they move and sound – although often mum and dad don’t feel they should be playing with them. The solution, says Murnane, is to create your toddler’s very own busy board for little to no money.
“Take a wooden board and firmly attach items such as door knockers, zippers, wheels on casters, door chains, clips, and anything that opens and closes, or has an interesting texture or mechanism,” she suggests. “You may have many of these items around the house or in the garage or shed that you’re no longer using. It’s great to help toddlers develop their fine motor skills and will keep them busy for ages! I’ve seen some that are pre-made if you’d rather buy one, but it’s fun to get creative and see what you can come up with.”
- The Little Book of Mum Hacks by Kate Murnane is published by Seven Dials. Available now.