Life of a Mum

Christmas Gift Guide

I’ve been busy looking for gifts for Dorothea- so thought I’d come up with a gift guide blog. Dot is nearly 4 at Christmas so that’s the age group these would be suitable for.

I’ve based this on the 4 gift rule- Something they want, need, wear, and read. It’s an easy way to teach your children that they can’t have everything they want.

This is a mix of things I’ll probably get her, or things she already has and loves that your little ones may love too.

I’ve tried to stick to the more ethical/eco brands or items from small businesses. Hope you enjoy.

Want- they’ve probably asked for similar

The perfect pram.

The Neo Vario from Bayer design is a Combi pram- so easily converts to a pushchair; it can also be set up child facing or world facing. Dorothea loves the swivel wheels, meaning it’s easy to manoeuvre and great to run with. You little one won’t be disappointed with this beauty

Playset of your favourite book

Dorothea loves ‘we are going on a bear hunt’ so she adores this linked play set from Small Eco steps – it’s a great way to make a story last longer. Other story playsets are available. Use ‘ivfninja’ for discount.

Rope doll basket

Dorothea adores her babies- but doesn’t have anything like this- it’s such a reasonable price too.

https://www.nordicstork.com/collections/imaginative-play/products/rope-doll-basket

Need- these are my must haves for 3-4 year olds

Peg Doll

We love our Peg Dolls from Little Rainbow Play they can be made to order; so to look like your family, or your little ones favourite characters. Small enough to pop in your bag to amuse them at dinner, but a good chunky size for small hands. Great to support a small business too.

Balance board

A great investment is a Balance board- wonderful for all sorts of play. Dot loves hers to rock on, as a slide, or to grab a blanket and chill out on it.

Use ‘ivfninja’ for 10% discount Capikooa shop

Dorotheas favourite Doll

Dot loves her dolls- this is one of our faves. Dinkum dolls come in a diverse range of skin tones- you can also buy cute clothes and accessories. This would make a fab gift for any little one.

https://www.babyandthegang.co.uk/collections/dolls/products/olli-ella-dinkum-doll-sprout

Wear- our go-tos for an awesome wardrobe

Pigeon Organics

We love Pigeon Organics year after year they are one of our favourite brands. They wash and wear really well and the classic designs and fabrics will never go out of fashion.

Buy preloved

You can’t go wrong with good quality preloved; you get more for your money and you get to be smug for shunning fast fashion. I love preloved, as it means I save on half of Dots wardrobe, meaning I can splurge on new items from the brands I love.

My favourites are Peachy & Birdie and Kidclo give them a try.

Frugi at Small Eco Steps

We love Frugi’s values and always adore mixing up their bright colours and funky prints! For Christmas or parties their skater dresses are always a winner. Shop at Small Eco Steps and use ‘ivfninja’ for discount.

Shoes from Colourful Soles

Don’t worry grandparents; you can grab a voucher so they can go for a fitting. Colourful Soles (based in Lutterworth) stock a wonderful range of brands and styles; we rarely leave the shop with just one pair. The experience for your little one is also just awesome; a colourful shop with toys and Peppa Pig on repeat- no stress here!

Read- our favourite books

Books by Joanna Hutchinson

If you love the rhymy style of Julia Donaldson with colourful and cute illustrations- then these are the books for you. Your little one will love the cute characters, such as Hettie the Yeti, and also love guessing the rhyming word. The tales are perfect for true story lovers- as talk about other favourite stories, and are a great length for bedtime. Books by Joanne Hutchinson

Personalised Christmas book

We love this stunning book from Personalised book shop – it has so many cute touches- you can make the character look just like your little one, add a photo and a message too. Use MMMAIVF20 for discount.

Usbourne Christmas books

Every year some of our favourite Christmas books are from Usborne books- this year is no different. Great story’s, activity books and sticker books Katrina’s reading corner is my distributor- mention ‘ivf ninja’ for discount.

I’d love to know if you chose my recommendations- please drop a comment below or tag me on Instagram @ivf.ninja

Baby/Toddler stuff, Playtime

Our favourite books

We love books! We always have, from bedtime stories to using them in play activities or discovery baskets. From when Dot was little we attended ‘Story Imaginory’ classes run by the wonderful Freya. These classes are themed around a letter and a book- with the class leader reading the story and guiding you through related songs/dances (with signing) and some amazing play activities- all linked to the original story.

Story imaginory

Since lockdown Story imaginory have gone virtual- with stories being read- and play activities given on a sheet to recreate at home- it’s amazing and Freya (and the other class leaders are awesome story readers).

Attending the Story Imaginory classes have inspired me with how we read and use books at home. As well as just reading stories to Dot, I try to get her more involved by encouraging her to point things out in the book, linking play activities to the book or finding books that are more interactive.

Here are some of our favourites.

The Jolly Postman– this is one I remember from my childhood- and we bought her the Festive one for Christmas. She loved it so we recently added this to our collection.

It’s wonderful as it’s really interactive; with envelopes with postcards, letters and puzzles for little ones to open and explore. It’s written in a way that it’s super easy to read and you can be really expressive too.

Play activities we’ve tried linked to this book.

  • Used it to guide writing postcards to friends and family on lockdown.
  • Made a quick postbox (out of a shoe box) and posted letters which we then delivered to her teddies and friends.

Who’s hiding on the farm. We bought this from one of our not so recent trips to a National Trust property; I find they always stock awesome books. This isn’t a story book; but a great interactive ‘lift the flap’ book, which toddlers tend to love.

We love creating ‘farm’ themed play trays with dry foods/sand/moon sand and our farm animal toys.

Why do we need a potty? Together with the book ‘what is poo?’ We are using this to help our potty training mission. It’s not going well, to be fair; but Dot does have full understanding of the toileting process, and loves to play with her babies on her potty.

Me and Daddy think these are the most bizarre books ever; but she seems to love them.

Read with Fred- local Usborne book lady

Questions and answers about plastic. Another great Usborne book; and if you follow me on insta, you’ll know I’m on an eco mission. Another lift the flap book so entertaining enough for a toddler; but I think Dot will really enjoy this book as she gets older too.

To use this book in play I encourage Dot to sort (clean) rubbish into groups- recyclable and not or plastic/paper/cardboard etc.

Zog – well we love all Julia Donaldson books; and they mostly make up our favourite bedtime books. Zog is our most recent Donaldson purchase; it’s a bit more difficult to read than others (in my opinion) but I think it’s a great story which shows Princesses aren’t just there to be pretty.

We recently read this book and made our own crafty crowns.

Rabbits Nap- another Julia Donaldson book, but definitely lesser well known. It’s a cute short, lift the flap book (so ideal for younger toddlers). We find this one links very nicely with the ‘hop little bunny’ song and dance.

First facts BUGS- a great factual book to get little ones interested in bugs. I didn’t want Dot to be scared or bugs and beasties- so bought this book and some play resources recently to help her understand their importance. She’s now loving butterflies, bees and spiders- and saying hello to them instead of running away.

For a range of awesome play resources check out The future image and use ‘ivfninja’ for discount.

I hope you’ve liked my recommendations of books and simple play ideas follow me on insta for more My insta and drop me a comment with what you think.