Toddler Tales 33 jpeg

Well it’s been a rollercoaster of emotions in this house with a lot of changes happening. James recently moved up to the preschool room to prepare for September. When I asked what the difference was he said in preschool there’s no biting, no hitting, no slapping and you have to listen. My immediate reaction was to go in and hug the teachers he has had for the past couple of years as it seems they were working in what can only be described as an out of control zoo!

When my laughter subsided, as he is incredibly dramatic, not too unlike his mother we moved onto more serious issues. James broke up with Holly! There I said it, his first heartache. He told me since they moved to preschool she hasn’t been playing with him and she’s now going out with a preschooler and they’re not speaking anymore. They’ve been together for about a year and a half now so as you can imagine this has been tough for everyone. Just as I was about to put my hat away James came home the very next day and announced he had a new girlfriend called Lauren. “I’m going to marry her,” he said.

“Now hold on a second my here James,” I said. I think you should take things slow as you’ve just broken up with Holly and you could be moving into marriage a bit too quickly. “Ok” he said as bright and breezy as ever. You just let me know when then. I hope the exact same things happens if I don’t like a girlfriend when he grows up but something tells me that’s wishful thinking.

I seem to be spending quite a lot of time holding in my laughter these days because let me tell you if you laugh he gets very upset and wants to know why I’m not taking him seriously as he’s a big boy now (eh nearly 4!!!)

I will admit I did shed a few tears the day I dropped him up to preschool at The Toddler Inn. I’m such an emotional being and he’s growing up so fast. To make myself feel better, I asked him will he leave me when he gets older and as I moved in for the right answer, which would of course have been No, he told me “yes mum, but don’t worry because I’ll come and visit.” Now where’s that receipt??


We are dinosaur crazy here at Canavan towers and I was delighted to find a great selection of dinosaur books at Hamleys. Here’s three of our favourites:

Yikes StinkysaurusYikes Stinkysaurus – €9, This is our current favourite book as kids seem to think everything to do with saying stinky is hilarious. James even rolls around laughing when he takes his socks off!!





Tyrannosaurus DripTyrannosaurus Drip – €9 One of my favourite childrens authors and author of the Gruffalo Julia never disappoints. When a little compsognathus robs a duckbill egg it ends up in the T Rex’s nest! Of course he doesn’t fit in and most certainly doesn’t eat meat. A great book to help kids understand meat and plant eaters!




Noisy DinosaursNoisy Dinosaurs – €14






SnoozeShade for travel cotsI think the SnoozeShades are a must for every parent for the buggy and car seat and now I’m delighted that they have unveiled the new and improved SnoozeShade for Travel Cots. This simple, portable sleep solution will provide a darkened, distraction-free sleep environment making any time naptime. An essential accessory for families going on holiday. €68.50





Hi Alison

I’m looking for a good night serum. Do you use one yourself and do you think its necessary?

Thanks, Jenni

Hi Jenni

I do think serums are important for lots of reasons. Our lives are so hectic and the pollutants we are exposed to nowadays means we have to try and rectify with a good skincare routine. Up till now I have used the same one for both day and night but I have recently started to use SkinCeuticals brand new Resveratrol B E night concentrate. It’s an innovative formulation designed to target the visible signs of skin ageing and accumulated skin damage. As soon as I saw this I said sign me up! It helps to optimize the skin’s natural night-time processes which include: Promoting the skin’s natural defense systems, reinforcing the skin’s natural protection against free radical damage, strengthening the skin’s functionality against visible skin ageing and diminishing the appearance of visible skin ageing. Your skin will be looking Radiant, the elasticity will feel better and the appearance of density will be restored.


Resveratrol B E strip outThe SkinCeuticals launch Resveratrol B E Night Concentrate €140, expensive but will last and get results.






AMy star buy: The world first lifting blanket and ingenious parenting solution is endorsed by breastfeeding specialists, midwives, sleep experts, Osteopaths, Chiropractors and many more! €50





 get shit doneREADING Niall Harbison’s new book “Get Shit Done!” He’s an inspiration and I’m certainly motivated to get shit done since I’ve started reading it.






Popsnap LogoDOWNLOADING the recently released new Photo app Popsnap (FREE App) that allows you to print your photos directly from your phone. Available on iPhone & Android. You can now order beautiful high quality photo prints direct from your phone for delivery anywhere in the world.

SuperHands CoverGood communication in my opinion is one of the most difficult challenges we face today. From the minute your baby is born we are trying to figure out what they need and want. It can be incredibly frustrating for parents and for babies who have no words yet this can often lead to meltdowns and tantrums.

Baby sign language can be very helpful in these situations. I first met the creator of Superhands, Miriam Devitt on one of my ‘0 To Toddler shows’ a few years back. James and myself had lots of fun with her book, which is the most beautifully illustrated book that introduces parents, and their little ones to the first forty signs they will need to communicate with each other.

Miriam first read about the benefits of signing with your baby when she was pregnant. She then went on to study Irish Sign Language (ISL) and started signing with her daughter Robin. Robin’s first sign, milk, came when she was just seven months old and when other parents started asking what they were doing and why she was signing with her baby even though she wasn’t deaf she knew she had to share this with more parents.

Basically, baby sign language is a series of simple gestures, or signs, that parents and their little ones use together to quickly and easily convey meaning. This helps to reduce the frustration associated with them not being understood. Most babies don’t begin to speak until well into their second or even third year and this can lead to frustration and tantrums.

According to Miriam, a baby who expects to be understood – and can be understood using sign language – is calmer in any situation. Just imagine if your baby could tell you he wanted his teddy, or more milk, or that he saw a plane! It is a lot of fun for both babies and their parents.

Most babies will have the gross motor skills from around six or seven months to make signs. Using ISL, Irish Sign Language, parents and their babies learn the signs for people, objects and emotions they will use every day. Parents are encouraged to start with just one or two signs and to use them consistently and in context. For example, every time you go for a drive you say the word ‘car’ as you sign it. “Does baby want to go out in the car?” “You like the car, don’t you?”, “What a lovely red car!”. You are repeating the word and the sign, and baby quickly understands what the sign means. Then, after a while, she will be able to sign back.

There are many advantages to using sign language with your baby. Here are just a few: Firstly, it reduces the incidents of tantrums arising from frustration. Signing also encourages your baby to talk – you speak as you sign – and research shows that babies who sign tend to talk earlier than their non-signing counterparts.

It also creates a strong parent/child bond. When you spend time signing with your baby, you spend quality time speaking with them, making eye contact and, often, singing and saying rhymes. These fun activities for baby are crucial to their early development and will help their vocabulary, self-expression and confidence by providing them with a responsive and nurturing environment.

Research has shown that babies who learn to sign have a greater vocabulary at school-going age and a higher IQ at the age of eight.

Signing is great for emotional development too. When a baby can sign he is hot, cold, tired, calm, excited, hungry, sick, sad, happy etc. he is developing an awareness of his emotions, and a vocabulary with which to express them.

Teaching your baby to sign is fantastic for fine motor coordination – thus giving your little computer programmer/engineer/footballer/dancer/artist a head start in developing these crucial skills. In order to do all those clever things when your baby is older, she needs first to develop her hand to eye coordination and her spatial reasoning. Signing is a simple way to have your baby practice these skills every day from an early age.

Inside SuperHandsSuperHands have baby sign language classes running in Dublin, Kildare, Meath, Laois, Sligo and Cork and you can also purchase the book online at for €14.99




One of the most frequently asked questions I get is whether I read to James every night.

I recently spent the night at my cousin’s and this topic came again.

There were three mums there and we all had very different opinions and experiences. However we agreed, fundamentally, that reading is a crucial part of our child’s development.

For me, personally, I love the bond it creates. I started reading to James when he was a few weeks old — primarily because I’m a complete nerd and had been reading lots of research about how it improves listening skills and helps to improve IQ.

But, most importantly for me, it has been shown to help you and your child communicate, while increasing their attention span (miracles also do this!).

TNM Monkey cover copy (2)In the early days, I used to point out the pictures and colours and bought the entire collection of the ‘That’s not my…’ Usborne children’s books. I loved the different textures on each page and James did too. Reading always helped me to keep him quiet in restaurants and still does.

For me, reading with James has become a form of escapism from everyday life. I adore listening to his stories as he usuallyN embellishes whatever we are reading with secret characters and storylines that are quite spectacular.

As your child grows, remember to differentiate between words and pictures. And, when you’re reading, run your finger along the sentence from left to right. If you’re having a chat about a character, I often ask James to point him or her out and describe what they’re wearing.

I find it keeps him focused and he feels like he’s involved. He often wants the same story read for weeks on end and then he will ask me can he read it.

This can become a bit tedious and boring, but hang in there — because sometimes that story can appeal to their emotional needs or interests at the time.

Our lives are so hectic but it’s important to try and find even ten minutes a day and it doesn’t have to be at bedtime.

James is going through a phase of reading his Smyths toys catalogue at night now before it’s lights out! I used to put so much pressure on myself trying to do things right and now I find that at night, with the evenings being so busy, I usually put him straight down and we read during the day or in the morning. A great piece of advice I was given when James was very young is that ten minutes a day is better than an hour at the weekend.

Reading and books are powerful tools in teaching your children thinking skills early on. Your children can also learn to understand cause and effect and exercise logic through reading. It can teach them the consequences of their actions, and the basics of what is right and wrong.

Reading can also be a very useful tool for parents who are dealing with emotional problems or indeed issues like bullying with their children. There are many books on the market now that deal with all these issues and Joanna Fortune from parent/child relationship clinic, Solamh, has written a list here you might find useful.

There are also books to help with grieving and loss. And when a child reaches a new stage in their life or they find themselves in a new and unfamiliar situation, reading them a story relevant to the new experience can relieve their anxiety and help them cope.

For example, if your child is stressed about his first day in school, having a new sibling or moving to a new location, you can read a book that shows and explains how other children/characters go through similar experiences and find solutions.

This can be great for parents who might find it hard to communicate themselves.

Books teach us all about relationships, situations, personalities, and what is good and what is bad in the world we live in. For your children, it’s no different. So give them the gift that keeps on giving and create memories you’ll cherish forever.