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Editors Welcome

Welcome to your Spring 2021 Newsletter! 

Spring is right around the corner, and we have already started to see glimpses of it with milder days and uplifting sunshine.

It’s crazy to think that it was a year ago that all things COVID started, but now a year later we are starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. Without getting ahead of ourselves, we are hopeful that 2021 will see things opening back up and some semblance of normal life returning.

Unfortunately, life isn’t quite back to normal just yet but hopefully our feature on lockdown birthdays will help you celebrate and create memories. We also talk about going vegan in this issue, and of course include a delicious recipe. And finally don’t miss the latest in our ‘Birth Story’ series. 

If you have any comments, ideas on future articles or would like to join our team please do get in touch – newsletter.reading@nct.org.uk

Cristabel and Natalie 
The Editors 

Jump to Articles

Branch News

Lockdown Birthdays

Birth Story

Going Vegan

Baby Sensations  Complete Childcare

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NCT Reading News


Walk and Talk groups are back! They will be running every week, with a short break in April for the Easter school holidays. We are not running as many as we were before Christmas, but we have introduced a new Henley walk.

Places will need to be booked through our ticketing system. The booking links will be released on a Thursday evening on our Facebook group

Sling Library

We continue to run a contactless delivery and collection service – see Reading Sling Library for details on how to hire. 

Nappy Library

Thank you to everyone who participated in our big nappy sale by donating or buying nappies!

Waiting times for a birth to potty (from 12lb) kit have reduced considerably and are currently only a couple of weeks, if that. For newborn kits (from 6lb) we have availability for due dates from end of July onwards (book early to avoid disappointment!).

Our new booster kit and free budget kit are proving popular. Don't forget we have a pull-ups/potty training kit, a junior sized kit for older children and a twin newborn kit for twins or premature babies.

Please send a message to our Facebook page or email us at nappy.library.reading@nct.org.uk for more details or if interested in hiring a kit.


Keep an eye on our Facebook group for any updates on events and daily threads to help with any feelings of loneliness through isolation.  

For further local support:

Baby Sensations  Complete Childcare

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Lockdown Birthdays

It’s a year since everything changed and we went into the first lockdown. For some children it will now be their very first birthdays, for others it will be their second under restrictions, and even though lockdown is starting to ease, you may still want to keep things low key. Whilst these birthdays may not be quite what we envisaged, we can still make them memorable. We looked to our Facebook group for our members’ tips on a successful lockdown birthday. 

Enjoy the day! Embrace the fact you don’t have to spend the day entertaining family and friends, instead you can focus on your child. 

Don’t pressure yourself. The first few birthdays are mainly for parents, so don’t worry about not having a big party planned for the day. Being together, having some cake and singing happy birthday can be enough. Keep it simple.

Decorations are essential. Balloons, banners etc. It all creates an air of excitement for little ones, and shows that it is a day different to the norm. 

Try and have a birthday activity. This could be a birthday picnic, a role-playing game, garden games, themed arts and crafts, a glow stick party, baking, a treasure hunt (indoors or outdoors), going to feed the ducks, a dance party or anything really. You could hire a bouncy castle, or soft play equipment. Try and do something out of routine to show that it is a special day. 

Ask friends and family to make birthday video messages or write letters for your child when they are older. This is a good one regardless of lockdown.

Video calls. Whatever you use – Facetime, Skype, WhatsApp, Messenger, Zoom – use it to have a party with family. Maybe a tea party, a glow stick party or just everyone singing happy birthday. Gathering everyone to share the day will be a lovely memory. It can be tricky containing a mobile child long enough for a video call. Something like Facebook Portal on the TV can solve this as it covers the whole room. 

Don’t forget to take photos: it may seem silly to take them of a computer screen, and it may not be something you think you will want to remember, but all these little things are part of your child’s childhood memories. 

Baby SensationsComplete Childcare

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Birth Story 

Avani Fernandes, mum of 2 and owner of Reading-based hypnobirthing business The Birth Mindset talks to us about her daughter’s home birth.

“My homebirth story feels alive and evergreen every time I think of it. At 38 weeks and 2 days I birthed my daughter at home.

I had just had my 38th week appointment at home the previous day. The baby, I was told, was high, not engaged and in ‘back to back’ position, which for many women is disheartening, just as women who have babies in breech, transverse lie and other suboptimal positions would testify. But the midwife was so reassuring, telling me that babies are constantly moving and turning even during labour itself.

I went for a walk to help move the baby, but I would not have dreamt in a million years that I would go to bed, labour in what felt like a reverie and have the baby in my arms at 5:39 am. We joke that the birth was 100% organic. My husband built this bed with upcycled wood, cutting it with non-power tools for a 100% natural birth without drugs.

I am convinced that applying my hypnobirthing and mindset skills is what started labour in the midnight hours. She turned her position and oh I felt it! I sat up, feeling deeply powerless, yet only strongly uncomfortable, not perceiving these sensations as pain or labour. It was much like being held against a wall, it was the baby moving into optimal position just a short while before she was born.

The homebirth midwife Sarah used all her intuition and showed up about an hour before the birth. I had called her in a ‘trace-like’ state. I heard her tell my husband she didn’t think ‘we would be needing it’ as the baby would be here any time soon, referring to the birth pool. For labour and post birth she was encouraging, respectful, professional and patient-centric in her care. 

It was lovely to be at home, with my creature comforts like my own shower and home food, in my safe place, saving hospital trips, especially as we had an elder child. This was a great environment in which to establish breastfeeding too.

If asked what made me choose a home birth; far from being a rule breaking ‘hippie’ I'd say because I am sensible and value safety and making informed decisions over blindly following the herd. I am science-led in my approach, and trust in the midwiferyled care model as well as the magic of the birthing woman’s body.

In 2016 I nearly had a home birth, but the Reading Homebirth Team was just getting established. Now they are a thriving, powerful and indispensable team!”

Fernandes Birth

Baby Sensations  Complete Childcare

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Going Vegan

Natalie Gangeswaran, owner of food brands Little Puku and Gloriously Gluten Free, shares her top tips on families going vegan.

chopping veg

“Veganism is becoming more popular and Veganuary is now firmly set in the calendar alongside Dry January. You may have taken the opportunity in January to trial veganism or you may be interested but just don’t know how to start. It can seem daunting at first, but it doesn’t need to be hard. Read on for my top tips:

  • Take it slowly – rather than trying to change your whole diet overnight, why not just make one or two of your meals vegan each week. Once you’ve gotten a feel for it, you can increase the number of vegan meals you’re eating. This way you’re also more likely to succeed in sticking with it, as it won’t feel as much of an undertaking.
  • Put together a budget – a vegan shopping list can cost more, so it’s useful to understand the costs in advance and budget for it. If you’re on a limited budget then steer clear of expensive processed foods and just buy fruit, vegetables and different types of lentils.
  • Keep some non-vegan treats around the house – making the transition to veganism can be tough, especially on children who might not understand, so consider allowing them to still have some non-vegan treats to ease the transition (for them and you!).
  • Understand how to get your nutrition from a vegan diet – cutting out meat, fish and eggs from your diet will reduce your protein intake, so make sure you do your research in advance around what’s needed in your diet to stay healthy. Take a look at the Vegan Society, which gives guidance on vegan diets for adults and children.
  • If you’re missing your takeaways then take a look at your local independent and chain restaurants to see what vegan options they offer. You’ll be surprised at how well vegans are catered for nowadays!

For some inspiration, check out our ‘chocolate’ energy balls recipe below. They’re so good you won’t even know they’re vegan.

For more recipe ideas follow our pages on Facebook: Little Puku | Gloriously Gluten Free

‘Chocolate’ Energy Balls

Vegan, gluten free, dairy free


  • 200g almonds
  • 400g dates
  • 4 tbsps cacao powder
  • 2 ½ tbsps nut butter (almond works well)
  • 2 tbsps coconut oil
  • 4 tbsps desiccated coconut – spread on a plate


  1. Soak the dates in boiling water for 15 mins to soften.
  2. Add the almonds to a food processor and pulse until they are crushed.
  3. Discard the water from the dates and add to the food processor with the coconut oil. Pulse until mixed.
  4. Add the nut butter and cacao and mix again.
  5. Taking a tablespoon of the mixture, roll it into a ball, and then roll in the coconut; covering it.
  6. Repeat until mixture is used up, then place balls in freezer for an hour until firmed up. After this they can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

Baby Sensations  Complete Childcare

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