Inspiring Instagram accounts



Instagram is a machine powered by billions of photos and millions of faces and souls behind each one of them. I don't demonize it, because I truly believe that there are many fantastic creators on Instagram, who have interesting stories to tell. I love content that inspires me to grow as a person, mother, friend and artist. I believe in the value of each of the Instagram accounts I am going to share with you today, and I have selected some of the best ones out there. 
Instead of simply describing them in a few words, I decided to tell you how exactly they have inspired me, and in order for you all to understand that, I had to be vulnerable and share some feelings I have never shared publicly beforeHope you enjoy!
                  
   
Zuza Gasiorowska  @zuzagasiorowska   Photo credit: Zuza Gasiorowska and @kubazawada
Zuza Gasiorowska is a phenomenal Polish photographer born in Australia. She blows me away with her craft and sophistication. Just like the high contrast colours she uses, her photographs are both subtle and powerful. I follow the work of many photographers, but what makes Zuza special is her ability to unveil what is unique about her models, and keep her work so coherent at the same time. She doesn't have many colours or props to play with, yet the way she captures people tells me so much about them. Her Instagram account is a pure gem, looking at it feels like walking into a stunning temple, when the beauty of it, and some kind of sublimity makes you speechless. Her harmonious feed is one badass artistic haven in the twee and vulgar world of Instagram. Hats off to a true artist! 

A few of my favourite pieces. Masterpieces! Photo credit: Zuza Gasiorowska @zuzagasiorowska



Daniel Daggers  @daniel_daggers  Photo credit: Harry Borden, Daniel Daggers 
I first heard of Daniel Daggers last year, but it was an episode of The Ikonn's podcast he appeared on earlier this year that made me start following his journey on Instagram. Daniel is one of the best real estate brokers in the world, who climbed up to the top of the ladder in his field in a very respectful way. And the best thing about it is that it didn't happen over the night. He started over 20 years ago as an intern in a local estate agency, and his hard work, persistence and loyalty helped him succeed. 
His Instagram account is a fantastic source of information for people starting out in real estate, a source of inspiration for those, who are dreaming of buying a luxurious property one day, or those, who are on a hunt for one. I follow Daniel because his content is a daily reminder to stay focused and learn more, and that hard work, efficiency and dedication are the core of success. 
Moreover, there is one thing that I find the most inspiring in Daniel's Instagram account, and it is the respect he has for his parents. He is a grown-up man, working in an extremely serious field, and yet he repeatedly, in front of thousands of people, proudly says 'I love you, mum' and 'I love you, dad'. As a mother, I find it so inspiring. It shows the value of parental unconditional love, attention and support. When I decided to get pregnant, I knew that, just like with everything I do in my life, I was going to give my son 1000000% of my attention and time. I knew it was going to mean taking a major step back in my career. Since I am a crazy perfectionist and workaholic, it still hurts me being constantly judged by people for the decision to fully commit to motherhood up until my son turns 3.

What Daniel said on the episode of Ikonn's podcast about his parents ensured me that my decision was right and that our children will remember and cherish the time we spent with them more than anything else. I always knew that, but I listened to that podcast on a morning when I was feeling humongous mum guilt, and it helped so much. 



Mimi, Alexa Love and Alex Ikonn.  Photo credit: Mimi Ikonn  @mimiikonn
When I think of inspiring people on the Internet, Mimi and Alex are always the first couple that comes to my mind. They are dreamers, who overcame a crazy amount of obstacles, and built not only a few extremely successful businesses, but first of all the life that they always wanted. They are entrepreneurs, authors, Youtubers, and social media influencers. Mimi and Alex are parents to Alexa Love, a smart and adorable little girl. 

What is fascinating about them, is that they grew mentally, spiritually and financially without allowing their egos to grow even a little. Mimi's and Alex's approach to business and marketing is admirable. You won't see them flashing their products in every video and Instagram post, or over-promoting them. 
What is more, I always adored the way the Ikonns treat people, and most of all- the way they treat one another. It is fascinating how much respect and kindness there is in every word they say.

A few months ago they created their own podcast, where they share a lot about their past and present lives, their fears, the problems they had to face on their way to success and self-growth, and business tips. They invite fascinating guests, and I have to admit that I have cried listening to each one of the episodes. It is, honestly, the best source of inspiration on the Internet. 

Alex's Instagram account: @alexikonn

You can listen to The Ikonns podcast here.



Photo credit: Chakra  @chakra
Chakra is the ultimate inspirational account on Instagram. In the past three years, life has challenged me in many ways, and I fell off my wellbeing track. I am in a much better and happier place now, slowly putting the puzzles back together, and Chakra's daily inspirational posts on Instagram help me with it a lot. They remind me to meditate, breathe and focus on positive energy and gratitude. I don't know much about the people behind Chakra, but I  certainly want to thank them for their consistency and time they put into creating their content. So if you need some inspiration to start a mindfulness journey, or if you're looking for calm in the storm, check out their account, they are fantastic! 




Please let me know if you follow any of the accounts I wrote about today, and what or who inspires you to live a happier life. There isn't such a thing as too much positive energy or too much inspiration. Thank you for reading! x




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Why is it essential to let your child say no?


People who change the world are those, who are not afraid to say 'no'. Those, who dare to question anything and everything. Each one of us was born with tremendous curiosity, the thirst for knowledge, and the will to master all skills possible. Unfortunately, often those qualities are taken for granted, and the older we get, the more they fade away. I truly believe that an independent toddler becomes an independent child, then an independent teenager, and, eventually, an independent adult. In order to be fully independent, one must feel free to say 'no'.

INDEPENDENT VS OBEDIENT CHILD 
Raising an independent child is not easy at all. It takes a lot of education, patience, talking, talking and talking. We- parents- must let go of our egos. But it is worth it! Not only we nurture some of the most beautiful human assets in our kids, but also we allow ourselves to grow mentally and spiritually.
Must a child be obedient to his parents? No, he mustn't.
Must a child be obedient to God? No, he mustn't.
Must be child be obedient to the government? No, he mustn't.
Must a child be obedient to an abusive teacher? No, he mustn't.
Must a child be obedient to a drug dealer? No, he mustn't.
Must a child be obedient to his toxic partner? No, he mustn't.
Must a child be obedient to whoever the hell wants to hurt him? No, he mustn't.
But he will be if we never allow him to say 'no'. 

THE IMPORTANCE OF YOUR CHILD'S FIRST RELATIONSHIP
The relationship with the parents is the first one your child will ever build, hence it is the most important one. Based on it, he will create relationships with other people.
If the child is comfortable to say 'no' to a parent wanting to photograph him on a potty, he will most likely feel comfortable to say 'no' to a colleague offering him drugs. 
Yes, it sucks when I bring the camera to the park on a gorgeous day, and my son not only refuses to pose to the pictures, but he doesn't even want me to try and take some when he runs around. The landscape is gorgeous, the light is magical, the model says 'no'. Does it annoy me a little? Yes, it does. Do I take my frustration out on my child? No, I do not. Because his face and his body belong only to himself, and if he doesn't feel like standing still and smiling, he doesn't have to. Yes, it makes everything a little bit more difficult at that particular moment. But as soon as my ego wants to kick in, I remind myself that my patience is an investment in my child's future. Forcing and dictating the kids always brings back disgusting results, often opposite of what we wished for.

FREEDOM DOESN'T MEAN DISOBEDIENCE 
Giving your child the freedom to express his needs and veto demands doesn't mean allowing him to hurt himself or othersHis freedom ends where other's begins. Kids who got the right to say 'no' will respect other people right to say 'no'
If the child refuses to say 'I love you' to an uncle he sees once a year, do not force him to that. In the future, he will not feel obligated to say 'I love you' to a partner he does not love. 

CHILD'S HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP WITH HIMSELF
'No' is OK. 'No' is an option that every child deserves to have. We need to allow our children to build a healthy relationship with their minds and their bodies. Give them freedom of expressing their feelings, emotions and opinions. Give them wings!




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How to support a new mum- a guide for her partner, friends and family


There are a lot of stereotypes out there that pregnancy is a sweet, blessed time, and the biggest struggle for a woman is choosing a name for a new baby. Labour- painful, but she will forget the pain as soon as you cuddles the baby. The first days with a newborn- easy! Baby only sleeps and feeds.
All inaccurate.
There isn't much honest information about the first few weeks postpartum out there. Trust me- it can be a horrible experience for a woman. This is the time when her partner, her family and friends must show a great deal of support. I have divided this blog post into two parts- one for friends and family, and one for a partner/ husband of a new mum. The one for partners includes a detailed graphic description of what is a woman going through in that specific period, so please skip that part if you're sensitive. 


A GUIDE FOR FRIENDS AND FAMILY OF A NEW MUM
All women go through the pregnancy, labour and postpartum slightly differently, but all go through a lot physically and mentally. All new mums need some help, and they need people around them to be gentle, kind and supportive.


ASK BEFORE YOU PAY HER A VISIT:
No matter how much she loves you, she is in this new, crazy mood state right now. It is advised to visit and help out, but make sure you consult the time with a new mum.

RUN SOME ERRANDS FOR HER:
New parents, especially new mum won't have an opportunity to go to the post office, do grocery shopping, buy additional nappies, walk the dog or vacuum the house. If you have spare time, even half an hour, offer your help in a gentle way. It may just mean the world to her. 

BRING HER FOOD AND REFILL THE WATER
New parents don't have time to cook, and they are probably hungry and thirsty like never before. A home-made meal would be a lifesaver, but if you pick up something in a store, they will love you just as much.

PLEASE, DO NOT SHAME HER
If you have the knowledge, and you want to help (and if the new mum wishes to accept your help), do help. But please, please do not tell her that she looks bad, that she isn't doing a great job because her baby cannot settle, or that you don't understand how she can be struggling with breastfeeding. These words, even if they're coming from a place of love, hurt badly. I had the chance to listen to people's opinion,  who were standing me around sipping on coffee and telling me that my milk was 'wrong', or that breastfeeding should be easy. None of them has ever breastfed a child. 

RESPECT HER PRIVACY

I know that most likely you will want to take a lot of photos with the baby and new parents, but before you do- please ensure that they all are happy with it. 
Most of the new parents will appreciate having some extra photos of the baby because they usually have other things on their minds. However, some of them may not want anybody but they photograph their newborn.
One thing goes without saying- please do not publish the photos of somebody's child on social media without the parent's consent. 

WASH YOUR HANDS BEFORE HOLDING THE BABY

Some parents will not feel comfortable to ask you to do that, but it is important to wash your hands before holding/ touching the baby.  

BE THERE FOR NEW PARENTS

If the new parents have pets or older kids, they may need some help in looking after them. If you take their kids for a walk, or read to them, or even play with them for 10 minutes, it will help the parents a lot.
Be there for them, they may need somebody's help and presence, and sometimes they just need a pair of ears to listen to them. 





A GUIDE FOR A PARTNER OF A NEW MUM
If you've always wanted to prove how strong you are and how much you love your woman- the pregnancy, labour and especially postpartum is the chance for you to do that.
The more kind, gentle and supportive you are, the easier you make it all on her. She has gone through a lot. During the pregnancy, she most likely experienced bothersome sickness (improperly called 'morning') and nausea, headaches, back pains, insomnia, cramps, tender breasts, mood swings, fatigue, and many others. Some of these symptoms may have lasted for nine months. 

My labour was extremely painful (I would give it 700/10) but fantastic. I had a great midwife assisting me, but for many women, labour was a nightmare. Some of them had to go through a C-section, which means that probably the pain during the labour was not as intense, but afterwards, they were going through hell.


Right after the delivery, baby and new mum have an hour or two for the skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding. Then mum can shower. I vividly remember how my legs were shaking after 36h hours of labour. I needed a  hand to hold me while I was getting in and out of the shower. I remember that afterwards, my son fell asleep, but he stayed up for 70% of the time we spent in the hospital. 


The emotions, the fear of hurting the baby during labour, the fear of accidental dropping the baby, the exhaustion, the discomfort of a body who just delivered a human being. Often- the struggle with breastfeeding. Hormones go crazy. Zero privacy in the postnatal ward. I promise, at least 70 people saw my breasts during my three days long stay in the hospital. Your woman may have bleeding and sore nipples because it takes time for both the baby and mother to learn to breastfeed. The postpartum bleeding may occur up until 6 weeks following the delivery. It doesn't feel like a being on the period. It feels like swimming in blood. She will need to change her pads and shower way more often than normally she would. It takes time to heal the perineal area (perineum is the area of tissue between the vagina and anus) for women who had a natural delivery, and the tummy wound for women after C-section. Toss in the sleep deprivation.

Furthermore, a vast majority of new mums is affected by baby blues, some suffer from postpartum depression. If their partners and families let them down, they may not cope with it. 

I am not trying to scare you. I just want to tell you what is your partner going to go through, because she may not feel comfortable to tell you. Please remember that this is your baby too, so looking after it is also your responsibility



TALK TO HER
First of all, talk to your partner during her pregnancy a lot. Check in on her. Ask her what she is afraid of, how you are going to manage to share the responsibility after the baby is born. Continue checking in on her after delivery. 

EDUCATE YOURSELF

Educate yourself. Read. Talk to midwives and doctors. Sign up for the antenatal classes with your partner. Don't leave it till the last minute. If you're close to your mum or sisters who had a baby, ask them what they wished their partners did for them in that difficult time. The more you know, the easier all gets.

BE PRESENT

Some countries cultivate the tradition of 'baby shower' after the baby was born. The father, his male friends and family members are going out and getting drunk. It often happens right after the delivery, which basically means that the father is not available for at least one day. I can not even find words to describe how much I dislike this tradition (I mean, I can find the words, but don't want to use them on my blog). It is just selfish. 
You must be there for your partner and your child. It is a responsibility, not a favour. You must be soberIn the first days after the birth of your baby, try to come straight back home from shopping, or work. 

MAKE HER FEEL LOVED
All of the changes in her body and mind are going to happen whether anybody wants it or not. This is something we all have to accept. She really won't need you to comment on her looks. If she breastfeeds- she produces a liquid gold, the healthiest medicine in the world. She gives your child the best thing in the world, and even if she doesn't look attractive with a breast pump in one hand, and a baby in the other- remember that this is why women have breasts. Her body needs time to heal, it needs time to get back to shape. Trust me- the stretched skin and 5kg extra bother her more than they bother you. You don't need to mention that to her. 
Instead tell her that you're proud of her. That she is doing an amazing job. You probably already feel this way, but you need to express it. It will mean a world to her. 

ENSURE SHE HAS EVERYTHING SHE NEEDS
I am not talking about anything over the top, because new mum's needs usually are: food, water, shower, sleep and time for herself. She may need you to get some more maternity pads, painkillers, or her favourite tea. Ask her, make her feel comfortable. Breastfeeding mums may spend hours nursing a baby in one go (it the evening I would nurse my son for nearly 7h in one go, but all kids have slightly different needs).

SPEND TIME WITH YOUR CHILD
I know many fathers who say that they are planning on bonding with their child once he already walks and talks. First of all, they don't know how much they are missing out on, second of all- when you decide to start the family and have a baby, you are a father no matter if the baby is healthy or not, teething or not, whether he sleeps through the nights or not, whether you and his mum are together or not
The more time you spend with your child, the stronger your bond with will be. Trust me- women too don't know how to talk to a newborn or how to entertain it at first. We all have to learn that. 
The new mum is still a woman, a human being that needs time for herself, who has needs and the right to have time away from the child.

IT IS NOT THAT SCARY
I know that the idea of labour and having a child may be scary (especially after my graphic description), but it is not that bad. It is just a phase that you need to pass through together. It is quite a difficult time, but it is genuinely a beautiful time. Try to enjoy it as much as possible. Don't waste your time on Instagram or playing video games, they can wait. Don't allow yourself to miss out on this amazing time. 

IF YOU DON'T KNOW, ASK
You can not read your partner's mind, and nobody knows all the answers. Don't be afraid to admit that you don't know something, I am sure that your partner would prefer if you asked, rather than avoided looking after the baby.

LISTEN AND BE THERE FOR HER

She may want to share with you how she feels now, or how she felt during the labour. She needs you to be all ears. If she cries, be her shoulder to cry on. She will appreciate it more than ever before. 

SOME THINGS GO WITHOUT SAYING
I assume that as a man living in the 21st century you already know that cleaning, cooking, or doing laundry isn't called 'helping out' but 'taking part in running a household'. Please, do not expect a mother 48h after the labour to be serving you a 3-course dinner. 
Also, in terms of sex- your partner has a right not to feel up to having sex after the delivery. It can be dangerous, too. Do not force her, she needs to feel ready to have intercourse. 

REMEMBER ABOUT YOURSELF

I know that some fathers work their socks off to ensure that the baby and new mum have everything they need. You too may feel anxious, depressed or stressed. Try to recharge your batteries, or organize help. Maybe your friends or family members can look after the older kids, or do your grocery shopping. Stay hydrated, stay positive. I know that the arrival of a baby is a lot for dads, too. 


Get ready for a ride in a rollercoaster, for ups and downs, for good and bad days, but first of all- for an amazing journey and the most unique, beautiful unconditional love. Have fun and enjoy every moment of it. You will do great! x

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Encouraging Speech Development


Hello, thanks for stopping by! I am here today to share with you some tips and tricks on how to encourage speech development in children. These ideas worked wonders for us, and my son started speaking at only a few months of age. Please remember that all children develop slightly differently. Some will start speaking earlier, some later, so don't be too hard on yourself and your child. However, if you are concerned that your child may be speech delayed, it is best to check it with the specialists


READ TO YOUR CHILD
Reading develops language, imagination, creativity and intelligence. The sooner we start reading to our child, the better. The long hours spent on breastfeeding when Kian was tiny were a fantastic opportunity for me to read aloud to him. When I was bored with baby books, I would read kids books to him (like Roald Dahl's 'Matilda'). When he was 3-4months old, and his grasp was good enough, he used to grab the soft, fabric books and 'read' them in his own language. Up until Kian turned 1.5 years old, we would read for around 2h a day. It was one of his favourite activities, and it still is until today. 
If your child isn't interested in books right away, do not give up. It is totally normal. Turning the pages, chewing on books instead of listening, or only being able to listen to half of the book is normal, too. 
Reading 5 minutes a day makes 30 hours a year. That is a lot! Trust me- your effort will pay off. 

TALK A LOT AND DESCRIBE THE WORLD
I know that when the little alien suddenly appears in your house, it may feel awkward speaking to him. For most parents, it takes some time to feel comfortable when talking to their baby. I remember not even being sure what to say.
Even if talking to your baby feels awkward, just talk. Minute after minute, day after day it will get easier. You can start by describing the room you are in, the toys that you're holding, the weather, your feelings and emotions. Singing to your child would be perfect, too. When you speak, your voice calms your baby, and you're exposing him to many words and grammar structures. You are your child's first teacher, and the more you talk to him, the more he talks. 

PAY ATTENTION WHEN YOUR CHILD SPEAKS AND ENGAGE IN THE CONVERSATION
It is important to engage in conversation with your child. No matter if they use their body language to communicate with you, or they're already verbal- get engaged. Answer their questions, acknowledge that they're trying to tell you something. If, for instance, they're pointing at the sleeping cat, you may say- 'Yes, our cat is sleeping'. Let your child know that they are important to you, that they have a voice, that they can communicate their feelings, that nobody ignores them. This boosts their confidence, and the more they are understood, the more they want to communicate. 

CUT BACK ON THE SCREENTIME
The labour is an exhausting experience not only for the mother but also for her baby, who spent 9 months in a cosy, warm and dark womb. Right after birth, babies experience seeing so many different faces, furniture pieces, toys, paintings, posters, so many colours, so many textures, so many shapes. Toss in the sounds and smells. It is overwhelming, so if you add a TV in the background, it may feel like going to a techno party with a severe migraine.
The brain of a newborn cannot deal with all the flashing lights and obtrusive sounds.

Watching screens before the age of 2 can delay speech, cause attention issues, and has a detrimental effect on short term memory and reading skills. And yes, I know that babies who are regularly watching TV or any other screens will eventually learn to speak. Some of them may even start to talk very early. But what I need to point out is that children learn all the time. This means that whether you intend to teach them something or not, they absorbe everything they see and hear. The time spent in front of the TV is a time cut on exploring the world, interacting with people, and bonding with nature. With the noise in the background, we usually talk less to our children. The less they hear, the less they speak. 

Also- whatever we surround our children with becomes a part of their beings forever. If we expose them to the TV shows with aggressive language, sexist music videos, frightening video games- they will absorb it just as much as watching the flowers and birds in the park. Kids don't understand that what they see on TV (even the adverts) isn't real life. Even passive watching is still watching. 

FOLLOW YOUR CHILD'S INTERESTS
Whilst exploring the world and absorbing so much of it every day your child will develop his own interests. It is easy to spot them when you mindfully observe your children, and it is best to set up activities based on them. This will give you an opportunity to expose your child to new vocabulary, and because it will be related to his interest, he will more likely want to learn it. New words will be a tool that he could use to express himself, and the more tools he has, the more independent he becomes. 

CREATE A CALM AND SAFE ENVIRONMENT

Kids learn best when they are in the flow state, and in order to be in the flow state, they need to concentrate. 
It is much easier to concentrate on learning in a peaceful and calm environment- quiet, clutter-free, inviting and fun. 
I would suggest downsizing the toy collection, or at least rotating them, so your child won't feel overwhelmed and overstimulated by unnecessary stuff.

PROVIDE YOUR CHILD WITH CALM SLEEPING CONDITIONS
Your baby needs a good sleep just as much as you do.  A good equals safe -without unnecessary clutter in his bed; in a ventilated, tranquil bedroom.
Also, the way we fall asleep and wakeup is extremely important.
It scares me that the Cry It Out method is still very popular, being promoted by some parents and authors. This is a cruel method of sleep training babies that elevates the cortisol, which leads to loneliness, depression and anxiety, and it slows down the brain development process. 
I wrote more about it here.

ENCOURAGE CONFIDENCE AND INDEPENDENCE 
One of the best ways to boost your child's confidence is to let them be as independent as possible. Allow your child to make choices, to help to prepare his meals, to select what he wants to wear. A confident child will express himself better.
We are all born with a natural desire to learn, discover and make progress. Every child has the great potential to live a happy and successful life, and every child will if only his parents give him the right tools. Confidence and independence are the core of happiness. 
I wrote more about it here 

GIVE THE BABY LED WEANING A GO
I know that the vision of a baby eating a larger piece of food rather than puree may be a little bit scary for some parents, but this weaning method allows your child to explore different textures, colours, smell and look of the food items. It allows him to eat at his own pace, it gives him confidence, because he realises that he can make things happen. He will start chewing earlier, and chewing is a fantastic mouth exercise that improves articulation. 
Furthermore, we learn through senses, so we have to stimulate them. 

TRY SENSORY PLAY 
As I have mentioned before, it is important to stimulate the child's senses. You can do it easily by creating various sensory play activities- bins filled with tissue paper/ kinetic sand/ scarves/ sand/ pebbles/ water/ water beads/ artificial grass/ soapy water and some scooping tools, or little figurines; you can make a light table, squishy bags, finger paint, sensory sound bottles, water xylophone. To help your child explore the sense of smell you can make smelling bottles, scented playdough, or let them actively take part in preparing meals. The list of activities is endless. 

WORK ON YOUR CHILD'S FINE MOTOR SKILLS
Fine motor skills development and speech development are closely linked. The better the child's hands work, the better is their speech. 
To support the development of fine motor skills you can set up some activities for your child. For babies, it is important to practice grasping, transferring objects from one hand to another, dropping and picking up objects etc. They can be pulling scarves from the box, banging two small toys together, ripping the paper, grabbing the pom-poms out of a whisk, putting items into boxes (and taking them out).
Toddlers will learn how to feed themselves using cutlery, build small towers, string large bids, scribble, fold the paper in half and many more. So using stamps, playing with playdough, threading beads onto pipe cleaners, making pasta necklaces, whisking soapy water, painting with fingers/ hands/ brushes/ flower heads/ leaves, playing with stickers, drawing and all similar activities will strengthen their hands and support the speech development. 

RETURN THE SOUNDS BABY MAKES BACK TO HIM
These sweet conversations are very encouraging for babies. When your baby makes a sound, try to imitate it and say it back to them. 
However, I would suggest cutting back on the 'baby talk', because babies understand the words way before they can say them, so it is important to pronounce them clearly.

BREASTFEEDING HELPS
I know that breastfeeding is a controversial topic, so I just want to ensure you that I do not shame women who formula-feed their kids, because a) their body- their choice; b) breastfeeding can be difficult at the beginning, most of the times there is no one there for a woman to provide help and support with it;  c) some women can not breastfeed;  d) some children have no mums, or they have  foster parents, or they are growing up in a family with two dads. 
Breastfeeding, however, is great for both mother and a baby, How is it related to speech development, though? Breastfed children have a different pattern of sucking than bottle-fed children, and breastfeeding improves the coordination of lips, mouth, tongue and jaw muscles. 

CUT BACK ON PACIFIER TIME
When Kian was born, he was on the breast for around 20h a day. It was tough. As it seemed unusual to the people around me, they were suggesting to start giving him a pacifier. After a few weeks, desperately wanting to pee in peace, I decided to give it a go. Today I have to say that I am grateful that he has never accepted it, and only tried it a few times (I wore braces because my teeth were awfully crooked, so I wanted to avoid my baby having to go through that). When babies have dummies in their mouth, they don't really feel the need to copy the sounds, babble and eventually talk. I am not trying to say that a baby who uses dummy won't speak, or they will be diagnosed with speech delay, but there is a possibility that they may. 

INTRODUCE SIMPLE ORAL MOTOR EXERCISES 
Some simple oral motor exercises like blowing small objects (tissues, cotton balls etc.) will strengthen your child's tongue. For more ideas for advanced activities, I would suggest reaching out to a specialist. 



I hope that my tips will be helpful. I know how stressful this topic can be for parents, and I know how much we are waiting for children's first words, and sentences. Thank you for your time! x


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MY RECENT CULTURAL FAVOURITES

Sam Waterston as Sol Bergstein in 'Grace and Frankie'. The best, sweetest character ever created. Photo credit: Netflix
Hello, I hope you are well! I have fallen behind my usual schedule of sharing my cultural favourites with you all, but I still wanted to tell you about a few great films and series that I have watched, and a fantastic book that I have read over the past few months. 

Enjoy reading!


Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding in 'I, Tonya'. Photo credit: Curzon Artificial Eye
'I, Tonya' Craig Gillespie
Starring a fantastic Australian actress Margot Robbie, 'I, Tonya' is a film based on a real-life story of Tonya Harding- a phenomenal ice skater stuck in an abusive relationship with her husband and a toxic relationship with her mother.
We follow Tonya from her first ice skating lesson, until the dramatic end of her career, when she gets involved in an attack on a fellow ice skater Nancy Kerrigan. Tonya is a badass, she is feisty and bold. She has a rich personality, which gave Margot Robbie a chance to showcase her acting skills. I loved the performances of the three main characters played by Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan and Allison Janney, and even though I watched this film back in August, I still have a vivid picture of many of its scenes in my head.The cinematography and editing of 'I, Tonya' are great, especially the professionally and dynamically shot ice skating scenes. The movie has a great pace. It is very energetic. Despite exploring the problem of abuse very well, it is not a whiny, depressing, slow film. I loved it, and I am happy that we had a chance to listen to see Tonya's side of the story. 

Zula Lichon (Joanna Kulig) and Wiktor Warski (Tomasz Kot) in 'Cold War'. Photo credit: Curzon Artificial Eye
'Cold War' Pawel Pawlikowski
Set mainly in communist Poland, 'Cold War' tells a story of a couple of artists, Zula (Joanna Kulig) and Wiktor (Tomasz Kot), who meet on auditions for a folk dance group. Wiktor, an intelligent pianist and conductor, can't take his eyes off an intriguing young girl, and the couple starts an on-again-off-again relationship. It is actually one of the bleakest and (sadly) most realistic takes on a love story.  Phenomenally acted, wonderfully directed, written and shot.
Pawlikowski sculpted 'Cold War' with the surgical precision and generously sprinkled it with his sensitivity and craft by contrasting the power of love and the beauty of Polish culture with the ugliness of the system and the imperfect human nature. He faced this ultimate problem by drawing a portrait of two misguided, imperfect people who established their relationship in very difficult circumstances. In a communist country, where life was a survival, and the government controlled every aspect of it. You can not miss this one!

You can read my full review here


Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in 'A Star is Born'. Photo credit: Warner Bros
'A Star Is Born' Bradley Cooper
'A Star Is Born' is a modern take on a classic Hollywood story. Cooper's directorial debut features the controversial and supremely talented singer Lady Gaga, who poured her heart and soul into her role.
Ally (Lady Gaga) is a very talented yet very insecure woman, who feels like she missed out on her opportunity to become a famous singer. She makes her living by waitressing in a large restaurant and singing at the drag club at nights. And there she meets Jackson (Bradley Cooper), a disobedient rock star battling his addictions. The musician is blown away by Ally's version of 'La Vie En Rose' and invites her for drinks. The couple forms a romantic relationship, beautiful and strong but very complex. 

The chemistry between Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper is out of this world, so organic and natural. The two artists joined their forces, sensitivities and energies and created something very special.

You can read my full review of this film here. 


Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Diego Cortina Autrey, Carlos Peralta, Marco Graf and Daniela Damesa in 'Roma'.  Photo credit: Netflix
'Roma' Alfonso Cuarón
'Roma' is a raw portrait of an upper-middle-class family living in Mexico City, and it centres on a life of Cleo, their live-in maid and nanny. Set in 1971 Colonia Roma, the film is an intimate and lyrical ode to women's unbreakable strength. 
Visually stunning, 'Roma' flows at its own pace. The amount of work and thought that went to recreating the 70s Mexico City are impressive. Although the characters lack development, the film definitely is beautiful and moving.
Loosely biographical, 'Roma' is dedicated to Cuarón's nanny Libo (Liboria Rodríguez). He had a chance to fully realise his artistic vision as he wrote, directed, shot, co-produced and co-edited the film. Available on Netflix and in cinemas. 


Natasha Lyonne as Nadia in 'Russian Doll'. Photo credit: Netflix
'RUSSIAN DOLL'
Natasha Lyonne is the star of the newest Netflix original series 'Russian Doll'. She has also co-created and co-produced the show, and directed its last episode. That's a lot of Natasha in one production! And you can sense her energy and charisma in each scene. 
Her character, Nadia, is a New Yorker, who repeatedly dies on the night of her 36th birthday and relives her party over and over again. It sounds weird, and trust me- the show is a little weird but good weird. 
It's very interesting to see how different picture of a woman this show drew, how far away is Nadia from other female protagonists. She is witty, nonchalant, wild, and she has an attitude. I would call her a likeable weirdo. The supporting cast is just as great, and the repeatedly played 'Gotta Get Up' song will stay with you for longer.
There is one more thing I need to point out- Nadia wasn't naked in any of the sex scenes in the first season of 'Russian Doll'. It proves that women can but shouldn't feel obligated to be naked in front of the cameras.
In case you didn't fall in love with this show right away, wait until the third episode. I promise you won't regret


Lily Tomlin (Frankie) and Jane Fonda in 'Grace and Frankie'. Photo credit: Netflix
'GRACE AND FRANKIE'
If you have been reading my blog for a while, you probably know that 'Grace and Frankie' is one of my favourite shows of all time. I sometimes joke that December has its Christmas, February Valentines Day, and January- a new season of Grace and Frankie each year. The show is about two women in their 70s who find out that their husbands are not only business partners but also lovers. The sophisticated, people-hating Grace and a chilled out hippie Frankie need to start their lives over and cope with the burden of a failed marriage and broken families. 
Despite the sad beginning, the series is absolutely hilarious. The 5th season was phenomenal! The only downfall of  'Grace and Frankie' is that the episodes are only 25 min long, so you binge watch the season in one day and wait for a new one for over 360 days. 
This is the most cheering, empowering and hilarious series ever created. It is available on Netflix.


'Journey Into Mindfulness' Dr Patrizia Collard
'Journey Into Mindfulness' Dr Patrizia Collard
Even though I am a very mindful and spiritual person, I found myself feeling overwhelmed, anxious and lost in 2018. The stress was killing me, it affected my health and wellbeing. I needed to fall in love with meditation and mindfulness all over again, and so I dug the 'Journey Into Mindfulness' by Dr Patrizia Collard out of the bottom of my bookshelf, and it was one of the tools that helped me get back on track. 

The book explains the basics of mindfulness and meditation, it includes several exercises that helped me start living in the present moment again. I highly recommend it, especially if you always wanted to learn more about meditation, but couldn't find a simple and gentle guide. 


Let me know what you have read/ watched recently and liked. Thanks for sticking by! x
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