Thursday 31 January 2013

Something Strange Is Happening

Something unusual has happened to me this week!

I’m tired, run down, fighting against some kind of bug (sore throat), because of this I’ve not had the energy to exercise this week and think my body just needs to chill out – but none of this is unusual. I’ve a 5 month old baby that has erratic sleep patterns through the night, giving me an amazing 6 hours or more solid sleep one night then getting me up 2-3 times and throwing stinky midnight nappies into the mix the next. Its no wonder I’m run down, my body doesn’t know whether its coming or going. If Millie had the same sleep pattern each night, my body would get used to it and I’d feel more ‘normal’ but its the complete and utter randomness each night that takes its toll.

So, with me feeling pretty shitty, how is it my brain is suddenly starting to function again? Out of the blue? I’m remembering stuff, I’m achieving stuff, even having the odd witty or wise moment! Not only my brain, my motivation to do stuff has been standing up to the knackeredness (yes spellcheck, its a word!) and I’ve baked homemade chicken nuggets AND homemade pizza for (and with) Callum this week for the first time, DOUBLE AND, I’ve even…EVEN….sewed a button on one of Millie’s tops!!! *FAINTS*

Watch out, I’ll be ironing next…or gardening (it has crossed my mind!!).

I don’t know what’s come over me! I haven’t had such a productive week since before I was pregnant with Callum.

Now, the aim for next week is to get my energy back, exercise and still retain my sudden ability to achieve!!!

Move over babybrain…I’m coming back!

Monday 28 January 2013

Why I Can’t Wait for Weaning!

Millie turned 5 months old 8 days ago on the 20th January. Sorry, let me say that again in case you missed it FIVE MONTHS!!!! How did that happen? Do you know what comes next? SIX MONTHS!!!!!

With the 6 month birthday/anniversary/whatever fast approaching, my thoughts turn to weaning.

With Callum on the run up to him becoming 6 months old I started to dread the time when I would have to wean him. The thought of puréeing, batch cooking, strict weaning timetables and prohibited food. Ugh! The thought didn’t feel me with joy, in fact I feared it. Then I heard about Baby-Led Weaning (BLW).

I was a fussy eater growing up and one of the benefits that is meant to come from BLW is that children are less likely to become fussy eaters as they are encouraged to experiment with foods and are trusted to do so at their own pace. I was willing to try anything to prevent Callum going down the same route as me!

On recommendation, I bought Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett’s book Baby-led Weaning, Helping your baby to love good food. Other benefits, to quote the back of the book, include:
  • Helps to develop your baby’s natural abilities, including hand-eye coordination and chewing
  • Allows your baby to join in with family meals right from the start of the weaning process
  • Makes mealtimes more enjoyable and battles less likely
Upon reading the book, I also discovered no longer was there a huge list of foods that you must not give your baby. Instead there were a few sensible foods to avoid like too much salt (processed foods), too much sugar, honey, bran or high fibre and anything likely to cause a choking hazard (whole nuts – nut spreads were fine). Allergies were less of a worry because at 6 months, a baby’s digestive system is more mature and prepared to cope with a variety of foods and, as Stuart and I don’t have a family history of food allergies, we had even less reason to be cautious.

Food could be given in its original form – just cut into easier to hold pieces (like sticks).

The book also made me realise that choking was going to be a lot lower risk for a BLW baby as their gag reflex would adapt at a natural pace and is used effectively as a safety mechanism. They may cough and the food may fall out of their mouth but they are less likely to choke.

Another point I really liked was that it should teach children portion control and there would be less inclination to over fill their plates or overeat. Who was brought up by their parents saying “no pudding until you finish everything on your plate” or, like my husband, made to eat everything they were given because their parents or grandparents (in Stuart’s case) were raised during the war when food was rationed, and you’d be made to appreciate every mouthful too. Have you heard yourself doing the same to your children? I confess to doing this with Callum now – its natural when you’ve slaved over a meal only for them to pick at it and you just know that they’ll be complaining that they are hungry 5 minutes after the plates are cleared! But it is also said that this attitude and behaviour with food is one of the causes of obesity in adults – we somehow feel like we can’t leave anything on our plate. We don’t stop when we are full, we continue to stuff in every mouthful until our plates are clean. The below is copied from the Change for Life Marketing Strategy document:
“Since there is no clear guidance on how much babies should eat, parents often offer portions that are too large and encourage children to finish everything on the plate (since it is emotionally satisfying to see babies ‘eating it all up’).”
As the baby is leading what s/he eats and how much, they eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full.

So, having read the book, aware of all the benefits and seeing just how easy it could all be, suddenly, weaning became exciting.

Now, 4 years on, I don’t regret this approach one little bit!

In action, not everything was as perfect as the book led me to believe, I had hoped Callum would be more adventurous at trying new foods than he has been over the years and, where other babies were fighting their parents for the spoon, I was giving Callum the spoon and he wanted me to feed him! Typical lazy boy!

But, he did have a pretty varied diet right up until he went to nursery at 16 months where he was subjected to the same weekly menu for the whole 18 months that he was there (he was there full time) – typically they agreed to vary it just as he left!! During that time he went from eating courgette, asparagus, couscous, various meat dishes etc, to not wanting anything unless it was one of the 5 meals he ate at nursery plus sandwiches and he stopped eating the foods he previously enjoyed. It has taken me a year to reintroduce most of those foods.

One thing the book did warn me was that there would be mess! And yes there was mess. This worried me to start but then I thought, what the hell, what’s a bit of mess and as I was prepared for it, I didn’t mind it. And it very soon became less messy as Callum’s dexterity improved very quickly. I was also given tips – I bought plastic ‘disposable’ messy mats from Mothercare that could be used for art or food (have checked their site but don’t think they do them anymore). They could be wiped clean or thrown away. Someone else suggested an old sheet on the floor that you can just pick up and throw in the washing machine. Taking antibacterial wipes where ever you go is a must as the highchairs in some restaurants etc are less than desirable and I’d be in fear of things growing on them!

But overall, I was very pleased with the results of BLW.

At 15 months, I still had friends that were struggling to introduce lumps in to their child’s diet. Callum, however, was munching on chicken on the bone and burgers at a BBQ.

When my friend’s children were taking handfuls of raisins and putting them all in their mouth at once, Callum would take 2 stuck together, separate them and put one in his mouth at a time. Even now, he rarely gets greedy and takes more than he needs if he has the chance to select his own portion size, such as when there is a buffet or bbq (except on the rare occasion with mini cold sausages).

Soon it will be Millie’s turn and I can’t wait! I have the same book beside me ready to read and refresh my memory with all the tips and tricks and signs to know when baby has had enough (throwing food on the floor) and why its good for them to play with their food before eating. Also, with her brother as her example, I’m hoping she’ll enjoy trying and learning about food and eating as much as we will enjoy introducing her.

Here is Callum at 7 months eating a rib from the BBQ:


and here is a short video of Callum eating his wheatabix (btw, these bibs from JoJoMamanBebe are fab):

Sunday 20 January 2013

Sunday 13 January 2013

My Babies–General Update



I’m going to start with Callum as I’m just so excited to tell you about his swimming. I’m so very proud of him. He is moving up from Pre-School Level 2 swimming to Pre-School Level 3. He has got a certificate and his very first swimming badge!


To achieve this award, Callum had to be able to do the following:

  • Jump unaided but supervised into the water
  • Submerge completely
  • Rotate through 360 degrees either horizontally or vertically
  • Show a mushroom or star float
  • Travel 10 meters on the front or back without assistance
  • Climb out of the water with assistance if needed
  • Buoyancy aids may have been used during the completion of this award

To many this may not be anything special but to me it’s amazing.

My own memories of swimming lessons at school (age 7-11) were messing around playing ‘don’t touch the floor or the crocodiles will get you’; dodgy pink flowery (granny) swimming hats if you made the mistake of forgetting yours; and cheating for my 50 meter badge by walking on the bottom of the pool then splashing my leg up every once in a while. There was also the occasional visit to our local leisure centre on a Sunday with my parents where my dad tried to teach me to dive, starting with the pixie dive. I regret not putting more into my swimming as I’m really not a very strong swimmer and I don’t have a great deal of confidence. I can hold my own in the pool but my front crawl resembles a shark attack and the most lengths of a pool (which was about half the size of an olympic pool) I’ve managed is 24 and I was extremely proud of myself!!!

To put it into context as to what this certificate actually means to Callum’s swimming ability – he is a long way off being able to swim confidently without buoyancy aids, though he can do about 2-3 meters on his own but he has so much confidence in the water and I hope that in turn will be a benefit to his confidence overall when he starts school, being as he is usually show shy and intimidated in big groups of people.


Now for Millie’s turn!

Basically, she is still gorgeous! She hasn’t rolled much more, from front to back (finding the right time when she isn’t going to puke just after a bottle but still has enough energy before naptime is a challenge!) and she hasn’t mastered back to front yet but she is often really close. She loves her feet which hold her attention much longer than any toy. Her grab & hold is also improving.

But better than all of this is that we have had a couple of sleep throughs – well from about 10.30pm until 7am or 11.30pm until 7am or 6.30pm until 4.30am (although there was a dummy replacement). Its all definitely moving back in the right direction. We actually had about 4 consecutive nights of what I would call a sleep through (admittedly not 7-7 but where I got some good solid sleep) then she went back to waking every 4 hours again which was a killer. Having given me a taste of what she could do, she then took it away. But I put this down to her experimenting with how much milk she needed during the day to get through the night. At the same time as she was sleeping through, she naturally started going 4 hours between feeds during the day and started consuming more milk at each feed but then she reverted back to feeding every 3 hours. Then, the 2 previous nights (excluding last night) she had much better nights again with the 11.30pm to 7am being the night before last. Unfortunately, last night we were at a family party and stayed at a hotel so her sleep was all over the place but that’s the first time away from home since she has been out of the moses basket. She had to spend a large part of the night in her buggy in the corner of a room where there was (loudish) live singing taking place – in fact she was awake for 2 hours just staring around the inside of her buggy but she didn’t complain and didn’t want milk. Eventually when she just wasn’t going to sleep, I took her out for a little dance and for the relatives to all coo over her before putting her back in the pushchair at the end of the night just before we were leaving when she went straight back off to sleep! When we got back to the hotel, she didn’t settle well straight away and then woke after 4 hours. Hopefully, though, this was all down to the new environment and tonight will be much better again.

Sunday 6 January 2013

Friday 4 January 2013

NCT–Friends First, Advice Second?

Oh dear, there appears to have been a bit of an upset with NCT, NCT devotees and Kirstie Allsopp. I don’t get involved in many ‘rows’ as I have an aversion to confrontation but it did make me think about my own experience.

I debated for some time about whether it was right for us to do NCT Antenatal classes. I had heard they were very ‘mother earth’, so pro-breastfeeding they made you feel really guilty for considering another option and there was no mention that some women can’t breastfeed for a number of reasons. At the time I was adamant that I was formula feeding from the start, it was only later I changed my mind, so this really didn’t appeal to me.

I had heard a lot of negative press second & third hand from people who had taken the NCT antenatal classes but when I started discussing with friends whether it was the right thing for us or whether, instead, the NHS classes would be better suited to us, they all said go with an open-mind, take a lot of what is being taught with a pinch of salt, make up your own mind but primarily think of it as an opportunity to meet friends who are all starting families at the same time as you so you’ll be going through parenting experiences at a similar time and above all, it will provide a support network for the mums.

We were told that the NHS classes were often very large (around 30 people), impersonal and there was very little opportunity for meeting new people and then forming a support network after (not everyone reported this, 2 of our close friends made several contacts/friends from their NHS class). However, the NCT classes were much smaller – of groups of around 6 couples.

So, we went in for the NCT classes – but did not become members in order to make the classes more affordable. We went with the advised expectations – take on board the advice, but go with the intention of meeting friends.

When the time came for our first session, I was actually very surprised. The teacher made it clear that she was there to give unbiased advice and she was flexible to the group’s needs. She would run the course based on what we wanted to cover, and this she did.

Everyone attending the course was there primarily for the same reason – to meet like-minded friends in the same situation. This was clear when everyone decided to go to the pub after the session for a drink (while enjoying the sunshine in the pub garden) to cement the new friendships.

Unfortunately, Stuart and I only got to attend the first NCT session as Callum decided to make an early appearance that week before the second session took place the following Saturday (we had booked a course that was 2 full Saturdays and one half session that was for women only to cover breastfeeding, but course structures do vary) . However, the lovely teacher agreed we could come in for a ‘show and tell’ to introduce our new little boy to the rest of the group. Apparently, she was going to cover how to change a baby’s nappy but as we gave a live demonstration, she skipped that part (yes I did have an audience as I changed Callum’s very stinky nappy!).

As a group, the women especially stayed close, meeting weekly. As far as I am aware, many of them still meet regularly today although regrettably I am no longer a part of the regular meet-ups as we relocated from Surrey to Bournemouth but I am still in touch with the girls.

You’d have to ask the other ladies (& guys) who attended the other sessions whether the rest of the course was as unbiased and open as the first session but I don’t remember hearing anything to the contrary from them in our discussions after.

I’m pleased to say that not all NCT sessions are biased and focus solely on the natural birth, home birth & breastfeeding is the only way approach but maybe the NCT do need to ensure everyone is getting the same experience from their classes and perhaps they need to be aware of the reputation they have and consider what they can do to change it as, from what I understand, word of mouth is stronger than marketing.