Easter Trip to the Gincase Farm Park

Spring is here! There are lambs in the fields, daffodils and talk of the Easter Bunny. I love the feeling of newness and potential that comes with the milder and brighter spring days. It feels like a time to put energy into new ideas, let go of the past and move forwards.


There will be no playgroup session at The Settlement Thursday 17th, instead we will be enjoying a trip to The Gincase Farm Park.


The Gincase, just off the Allonby Road, past Bank Mill Garden Centre, has an animal barn with pigs, donkeys and more, a huge soft play barn with ride on trucks and tractors, and an outdoor park. There is a good cafe and you are also welcome to bring a packed lunch, or mix and match the two.


We plan to meet there at 11:00, and there will be a chance to join in with animal feeding from 11:30 and stay and play and enjoy the rest of the day.


The entrance fee is £5.95 per adult and child over 2.We are able to get a group rate of £4.50 each with ten or over people, so if you would like to come, please let me know by Tuesday 15th so I can book.


The Gincase Farm Park, Mawbray, Hayrigg, Silloth Cumbria CA7 4LL



6 Ways to Support a Newly Breastfeeding Mum


Mother breastfeeding baby



The waiting is over, the baby is here, and now begin the adventures of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding-friendly support from partners, family and friends is one of the most important factors in helping mums to get breastfeeding going well, to stick with it, to develop confidence in herself and enjoy feeding her baby.


1. Let her know you support her decision to breastfeed

Even before the baby is born, let her know you think her decision to breastfeed is great. Take a bit of time to look into the benefits of breastfeeding for yourself if you are not aware of the many short term and life-long benefits that each and every feed gives to mum and baby. Remind her she is doing the most important job in the world, and the benefits of each and every feed will be with her baby for life.


2. Help her to be able to spend time with her baby

Young babies like to feed a lot, and to feed often, day and night. Having the time to be with her baby and feed him as he needs can be challenging, especially if a mum has other demands on her time. Instead of offering to take her baby for a while – which is not really supportive of breastfeeding, offer to help her with the other things that she needs to do. Playing with her toddler or older kids, bringing around some dinners for her freezer, picking up some shopping, helping out with washing or cleaning will take the pressure off her and help her to relax and concentrate of feeding her nursling.


3. Learn how breastfeeding works on a supply and demand basis

Breastfeeding works on a supply and demand basis. When the baby feeds, this stimulates the breasts to produce milk. In the early days babies feed often to build up a plentiful milk supply. So when a baby feeds often, this does not mean the mum does not have enough milk, but just the opposite, that the baby is programming the breasts to make the perfect amount of milk to meet her growing needs. If a mum is tired and feels her baby is feeding all the time remind her of supply and demand, help her out with practical stuff and let her know she is doing just great making perfect milk for her little one.






4. Give breastfeeding friendly support

Often the things people say to a newly breastfeeding mum are said with the kindest and most loving intentions, but may undermine successful breastfeeding for her.Any suggestions to give the baby a bottle or a dummy to give her a break, or to let her milk fill up really work against breastfeeding. As you now know, # 3. supply & Demand – the baby needs to be at the breast to produce milk, anything which gets in the way of this, or separates mum and baby can disrupt breastfeeding. Learn how to listen and support her and give breastfeeding friendly suggestions.

If she is tells you she is having a hard day, or has been feeding all night, instead of suggesting she gives the baby a bottle, remind her of the benefits, and tell her what a great job she is doing. Remind her that babies build up their milk supply by feeding more. Your friendly support and understanding is so valuable. You could offer to cook tea for her family or collect her kids from school whilst she goes to bed with the baby.


 5. Give her some TLC

Any mum of a new baby, whether she is breastfeeding or not, is giving 1000% to her baby. Babies are totally dependent, relying on their mums and dads to meet all of their needs, but this also means figuring out what their needs actually are, day and night, no matter how tired you are. Show her you recognise how much she is giving to her baby, and take some time to nurture her. This doesn’t need to be big, complicated or expensive, just let her know you recognise what a great job she is doing, and put a little thought into looking after her. Bring her food and her fave flowers, healthy and tasty snacks and drinks to enjoy as she feeds her little one, treat her to a home massage, or buy her a book or film you know she’ll enjoy when snuggled down with her baby.


6. Help her find breastfeeding networks

Knowing you are not going it alone is really comforting at every stage of a woman’s breastfeeding journey. Encourage her to check out her local breastfeeding group or cafe, offer to go along with her is you know this would make her feel more comfortable. Meeting other breastfeeding mums can provide a great source of support, encouragement and friendship, so encourage her to join local or online groups and create new networks.

At Beautiful Beginnings Play Group, we welcome any parents who would like to come and have a chat about breastfeeding and meet some local breastfeeding mums during pregnancy, and any stage of their breastfeeding and parenting journey. *
Local breastfeeding groups throughout North and West Cumbria can be found at:


Gift her a subscription to a breastfeeding friendly organisation of magazine such as The Mother Magazine  Le Leche League  The Association of Breastfeeding Mothers


You may or may not have been a breastfeeding mother yourself, but never underestimate the difference you can make with your kindness, understanding and support to a newly breastfeeding mum you know.


* The Beautiful Beginnings Playgroup welcomes ALL parents, no matter how they choose to feed their baby.

New Pregnancy Yoga and Empowered Birth Classes

I am excited to announce that I am beginning new Pregnancy Yoga and Empowered Birth classes in Seaton.

The class begins Sat 22nd Feb 10:30-12:15 and is being held weekly at Seaton Village Hall.

Preg yoga 4


One of the things that I really like about teaching pregnancy yoga is that week by week mums-to-be become more and more confident and familiar with the yoga practices. The yoga postures, breathing and relaxations are so beneficial during pregnancy, releasing stress, anxiety and fear, and cultivating strength, peace and balance in body and mind. Yet the benefits don’t just end here. The yoga postures, breathing and visualisations provide wonderful, reliable and adaptable tools for women to rely on during their labour. My philosophy is, the women explore and enjoy the yoga practices during their pregnancy, then through this practice, the postures, breathing and visualisations will be there to support the women throughout her labour and in her life as a new mum caring for her baby.

Classes are suitable from 16 weeks onwards.


If you would like to book your place, or are interested in finding out more please do get in touch.

Clare: clarevictoriacooper@yahoo.co.uk


Seaton preg yoga poster



BRACUK Appeal for Syrian Refugee Camps

Beautiful Beginnings is supporting the amazing work of Cumbrian-based charity Bootle Refugee Aid which is collecting blankets, clothing and essential items to deliver to Syrian families living in refugee camps.

syria 1


Bootle Refugee Aid is an inspiring charity, whereby Joan Capp and her team of volunteers collect and deliver essential supplies directly to the people who need them:

Our current appeal is for an ambulance and a ship’s container, filled with essential baby supplies, to be dispatched to a Syrian refugee camp as soon as we possibly can.  Countless refugees, fleeing the civil war in Syria, are mothers with children and babies, and there is a great need for them to be given assistance. We have located an ambulance, at a very preferential price, and are now appealing for money with which to both buy it and drive it directly to the refugee camp; together with essential baby supplies and money to pay for the associated shipping costs.

The items needed are:

  • Warm blankets & baby blankets
  • Warm clothing, hats etc
  • Baby clothes
  • Baby essentials – toiletries, soap etc
  • Money donated to pay for delivery of the container

syria 2


If you feel you are able to donate any of the above items please bring them to the Beautiful Beginnings Sessions Thursdays 1.30-3.00pm The Settlement, Maryport, or contact Clare or Hatti to arrange.

You can also find out more and donate directly to BRACUK on their website:



(BRACUK) was founded in 1991 by Joan Capp, and registered as a charity on 24th August 1999, with the sole purpose of relieving civilian suffering in areas of either conflict or poverty primarily, but not exclusively, in Eastern Europe.


Based in the village of Bootle, Cumbria, we are simply a group of people who care about others. Founded during the conflicts of the Bosnian and Chechen wars, BRACUK now receives a great deal of support from the people of Cumbria as well as further afield. We are not affiliated to any other organisation and are non-political and non-religious in both our ethics and practical applications.


We are all familiar with pictures and stories of human suffering. Sadly these images have become almost routine; relegated to the inner pages of newspapers or used as TV and radio news ‘fillers’ – that’s assuming that they are reported at all!  We do not consider human suffering to be either routine or acceptable. Resources are allocated strictly according to specific needs at any given time.  Discrimination between sectors of the civilian population, regardless of political or religious divides, will never be acceptable to BRACUK, and our emphasis is on reducing need to a self-sustainable level, rather than providing superficial assistance.


syria 3

So if you have any spare warm baby items, blankets, coats etc that you would like to pass on to help the families fleeing conflict and violence in Syria please do get involved either through BB or by contacting BRACUK directly.

Christmas 2013 celebrations

It’s that magical time of year again and we are looking forward to some fun Christmas celebrations with the little ones at Beautiful Beginnings. Both events are free and everyone is welcome, whether you have been before or not. We always welcome new people!

Thursday December 12th – Whinlatter Forest Outing Stick man trail

This year at Whinlatter they are offering Stick Man trails. For those of you who haven’t heard of Stick Man it is a great book about a stick who goes on a big adventure and meets Santa! You can find out more about the book here >> The Stick Man trails are free and there will also be some reindeer up there too for us all to see. To find out more details go to the Whinlatter activities page.

We will be meeting at 1.30pm in front of the entrance to the gift shop. Some of us may be going for lunch in the cafe before, so come along if you fancy it.

Thursday December 19th – Beautiful Beginnings Christmas Party

Come along and join in the fun at our Christmas Party. There will be christmas crafts, music, dancing, games and party food. Please bring along some party food to share with everyone and some ideas of Christmas sing songs would be great too! We prefer party food to be vegetarian as most of our regulars eat a vegetarian diet. This will be our last meet before the new year so please come along, all ages welcome!

Hope to see you all this month for some Christmas festivities with friends : )




Learning Through Play

Anyone who has had the good fortune to witness children involved in creative play will know that this is a serious business. Children create their own imaginary worlds, characters and games, they explore their real life scenarios and they explore their environments and the materials around them.


This can look so simple, a baby feeling the texture of a stone or a toddler pouring water. Yet each and every moment of such play is precious and valuable in so many ways. Whilst we adults may intellectualise and assume that our kids are developing their co-ordination, learning and exploring, we can really only guess at the learning and inner experience of the child, as I have recently come to realise!

sol playing

Just recently we were doing some home learning about basic physics, we talked about solids, liquids and gases, about density and what makes some materials heavier than others. My five year old led the way, saying ‘mum I know this already, I learned all about it when I played pouring water and sink or float when I was a baby!’


I was amazed. As a baby and toddler this girl spent many many hours pouring water, mixing and dropping pebbles and leaves into pots of water. She was totally absorbed. I loved to watch her play and knew she must be getting something out of it, but little did I know she was figuring out the properties of the Universe!  Later that day we made birthday cards for a train-loving toddler friend. My daughter’s usual drawings are fairies and mermaids, yet here she was drawing a very accurate train, I told her I liked the details, she said, ‘yes dad taught me how to draw trains when I was three!’


As our family’s homeschooling journey develops, my kids are teaching me how their many hours of toddler play really did teach them so much, and just how valuable each and every moment really is. Our children really do learn from all of their experiences.


Never underestimate the value of spending time with your little ones and giving them the time and space to play creatively. Don’t worry about finding the most ‘educational’ toys. Your time, love and the space to play and explore their surroundings gives them everything they need to start figuring out this amazing world of ours.

Elderberry syrup – a natural winter immune booster

ElderberriesI love to get out with my son and make most of the season we are in. Lately we have been collecting leaves to make pictures and also picking Elderberries together. After 5 years of living in my house I have just discovered that one of the trees is an elderberry tree and heard from a friend that they might be good to help our families never ending coughs! I did a little research and found elderberry syrup is a proven natural remedy for preventing and healing the flu, colds, excessive mucus and sore throats, as it contains large amounts of antioxidants, potassium, beta carotene, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin C. It is a perfect remedy for pregnant or breastfeeding women and children as it is completely natural too. Take a tablespoon daily to ward off illness during winter and a teaspoon every 2-3 hours while ill. You can even drizzle the delicious syrup over pancakes, yogurt, or ice cream! Find elderberries growing in gardens and  forests or along rivers and roads during autumn.

Children love to help with making the recipe too and I think most would love the sweet taste, although I must admit my little boy didn’t like it. I think this might be because when picking the berries he ate a few and was sick half an hour after, which put him off. I read after that the raw berries can cause nausea, so try to keep your little ones from indulging like mine did!

Elderberry syrup recipe


1 cup of fresh elderberries

3 cups of water

1 cup raw/ manuka honey or agave syrup

1 large sterilised jar for storage


1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ginger

3 cloves

1-2 star anaise

Method Elderberry Syrup

1. Bring the elderberries to the boil with the water and spices. Simmer for 30 mins.

2. Pour through a metal sieve into a bowl and push liquid through the berries with a fork.

3.  Add a cup of honey (I used a full jar of Manuka Honey from Aldi!) and stir into mixture.

4. Pour into a large storage jar and this will keep in the fridge for 2-3 months.


This recipe and others as well as lots more inspiration from parents all around the world are featured in my online parenting magazine PARENT TRIBE, which aims to support and inspire families to be creative, be free and be together.

Playgroup Trip to Lake District Coast Aquarium

We are excited to let you know we are having a BB Playgroup trip the the Lake District Coast Aquarium in Maryport on Thursday 24th October.




There will be lots of fishy treats in store for all to enjoy including:

  • Guided tour of the aquarium
  • Fish feeding talks and demos
  • The chance to touch rays and starfish
  • Tropical fish like Nemo, plus sharks, eels and Octopus
  • A short film in the Wild Solway Exhibition
  • Colouring and play time

We are meeting at the Aquarium at 1.30 on Thursday 24th Oct so there will be no BB session at The Settlement that day.


The trip is open to members old and new. Booking Essential before Thurs 17th Oct, so please get in touch and let Hatti or Clare know if you would like to come.


Cost for entry to the aquarium:

Adults: £6.50

Children over 3: £4.25

Under 3′s: Free

There are also annual membership deals available which I would definitely recommend.


To find out more check out their website at www.coastaquarium.co.uk


So we really hope many BB members can come along and enjoy the aquarium together. I have been taking my little ones for years, and there really is something for all ages to enjoy. Babies love the colourful movements of the fish, the tiny seahorses are adorable, and kids of all sizes love to get their hands wet as they try to stroke the rays and starfish.

The Aquarium shop is a real gem with lots of beautiful wooden toys, educational resources and coastline crafts.

Looking forward to seeing you there. Clare & Hatti.




Mum and Baby Yoga Session

For a few months now I have been running a small yoga session where mums come along to practice some simple Yoga whilst their little ones play. The great thing about this session is that mums get to do some post-natal Yoga, such as focusing on regaining core strength, and practicing relaxation techniques, yet they are able to be their for their little ones and don’t have to worry about finding childcare for an evening Yoga class.


The class is pretty informal and always fun. The babies are now crawling and toddling around, so they invariably get involved in the Yoga too. We explore simple postures and look at the ways the babies and toddlers can join in too. We sing some songs in between the postures so we are able to maintain a connection with our little ones whilst enjoying some Yoga for ourselves.


As a teacher I really enjoy exploring how Yoga can be part of our lives, alongside our children, and this class shows how possible it really is!


There is now some space in the class, so if you are a mum or dad with a little one under two who would like to do some Yoga then get in touch. The class runs once a month on a Friday morning. Come along to the Beautiful Beginnings playgroup and have a chat with Clare if you would like to find out more.


I have also started a new blog The Essence of Yoga about Yoga, Pregnancy and Family Life. There are lots of practices for pregnancy, and to enjoy with your children:



Babywearing Essentials: bring and try slings and carriers

It is a really exciting time at BB just now, with 4  families expecting second and third babies in the coming months. The new mums to be are really keen to try out different baby carriers and slings so they are ready for when their new little family members are here. This coming Thursday 12th September we are all going to bring along our slings and carriers for people to try out, so if you have used a baby carrier and would like to share your tips and experience with other families you are more than welcome to come along.

clare sol

With my first baby our sling was a luxury, I would use it on walks and when getting out and about or getting something done around the house, but as a first time mum I had the gift of time with my new baby. There was no need for me to be rushing around doing other stuff so I sat and fed and fed and sat and cuddled and slept my way through the first few months of our daughter’s life. I didn’t realise it at the time, but this was a truly special, and once in a life time experience! Happy memories.


With my second and third babies, a sling has been an essential, a necessity, as I have needed to continue being an available mum to my toddlers as well as a mum meeting all the needs of her tiny newborn. Our slings and wraps have been the most essential piece of parenting kit I could have wished for. The newborn has been held close and snuggled with free access to the breast, whilst I’ve been available for my two other little people. Whatever your experience of baby wearing and carrying previously, I would definitely recommend giving it a try with your baby if you have other little people to care for. It is also SO cute when the toddlers make their own slings and carry their own teddies and babies!


If you are interested in finding out more about slings and wearing your baby, come along to BB group and have a chat with other mums and try out the many different baby carriers that will be at the group this Thursday.

Happy baby wearing.

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