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This section contains all the news stories and articles that we think might be of interest to parents of babies and young children.

6 Things You Need For the Perfect Family Picnic

24/05/2017
No matter the season, when nice weather comes to town, its time to get outside with your family and have a picnic! In summer heat or on warm spring days, the grass will fill up with families like yours looking to make new memories together.

Family picnics with kids of all ages can be a lot of fun, but there are a few things you should make sure to add to your picnic basket before heading out to the park so that everyone has the best time possible.

Here are five things you should never forget before heading out for a picnic.

1: Wet Wipes Chances are, your picnic is going to get a little messy, and you will be thankful that you brought wet wipes when that happens.

These inexpensive hand wipes are great for cleaning up any spills, wiping off dirty hands before eating, and cleaning up when the picnic is over!

Pro tip: bring an extra bag along with you for your trash, including these wet wipes! They can make everything damp, so its best to keep them in their own trash bag to keep any smell from developing.

2: Blankets And Layers Even if the weather is nice when you head out for your picnic, you never know how the weather will change while you are out. If youre sitting somewhere shady or the wind starts to blow, your family might get chilly.

So, youll want to pack a few all-purpose blankets and layers to keep out the chill!

Back a light jacket for everyone in the family. Then, make sure to pack a blanket as well. Your best bet is to stick to all-purpose blankets that are waterproof with thermal lining. Not only will these all-purpose blankets keep you warm, but theyll also stay dry if there are any accidental spills!

3: Light, Packable Toys Picnics are great fun, but youll want to have some toys with you to keep everyone (especially the kids!) amused. Pick out some toys like balls, Frisbees, or board games to bring with you on your picnic.

You can play these games after eating to wrap up a lovely family picnic and having them with you will ensure that nobody starts whining that theyre tired or bored!

4: Plenty to drink Make sure you keep your family hydrated with plenty of water or juice. It might get warm outside especially if your little ones are running around so it is important to give them plenty to drink throughout the day


5: Sun Protection Ideally you will want to sit under some shade if the sun is out but if that isnt available make sure you cover up with sun lotion and wear a hat! You can get some great spray on sun cream for little ones now that is not too sticky and make sure you get a hat with neck protection. Another great idea is a big umbrella, pop it on the ground and you have an instant shady spot!


6: And Of Course Food! It wouldnt be a picnic without food, now would it? The menu is up to you, but you should always make sure that it includes a yummy dessert (well with all that preparation, youll deserve one, wont you?).

Keeping Children Occupied During the Holidays

17/05/2017
We all know how hard it can be to find some free time when we have a toddler in our life. We all love our children and enjoy them relentlessly; almost. During the holidays, when were free from work duties and our family who we havent seen in ages surrounds us, we have an urge to spend time with those who we dont see on a daily basis. The issue here is how to keep your little ones occupied in a safe place while you indulge in some much needed alone time with family and friends.

The Kids Table
Weve all been there at some point of our lives. The adults sit at the big boy table while the munchkins talk and babble amongst themselves. Most likely youll be celebrating the holidays with family members who have kids that are both older and younger than your own. Dish off a bit of the responsibility to the oldest of the children and have them undertake the Mum and Dad duties as you enjoy your feast on your own terms. Just make sure the kids arent out of sight and that theyre wearing one of our funky baby bibs or burp cloths.

A Designated Nap Room
The holidays can be a kinetic time filled with noises, food, and constant movement. If youre tuckered out from all the activity, imagine how your little one feels? Whether it be his or her bedroom or a room that has been cleared and made into the designated nap room, make sure your child has a place where they can take refuge for frequent naps. If youre going to a family members house for the holidays, make sure to bring a baby monitor with you.

Colouring Books
Your child needs activities that they can do that pose minimal risk without having to attend to them with every moment. One of these activities is colouring. Once its established that your child wont eat the crayons or draw on the walls you can let them draw away without having to offer them constant attention. Cover up valuable objects with newspaper and supply your child with ample paper and crayons.

Race Cars Through on a Race Track
Find out if your child has a passion for cars, competition, and speed when you set up your own racetrack and let them have at it. Use masking tape to create your own race track that extends for as long as you want it to. If youd like to get the full details of your cousins most recent wedding that you couldnt make it to, construct a track that goes from the kitchen to the dining room, back to the kitchen, and ends on the foyer. Invite other toddlers to race your little one to make for a more enjoyable and lengthier race.

Looking for some cool ideas for your little ones? Funky Giraffe are full of them! Check out our fantastic range of baby bibs, clothes and accessories today!

Must have Items for your Registry

11/05/2017
One of the most exciting and daunting tasks during pregnancy is creating a gift registry. A registry makes it easy for baby shower attendees to find the perfect gift and lets mom-to-be (you!) relax knowing that you are getting the items you choose from brands you trust. Knowing exactly what to add to your registry can be nothing less than overwhelming, so we have compiled a list to help you do just that.

Baby Gear The first thing you will do upon leaving the hospital with your baby is to strap him or her into a car seat. Of course, you want your new arrival to be as safe as possible, so this is not the kind of baby gear to scrimp on. The best car seat for a newborn is a rear-facing seat with a five-point harness and detachable carrier. To get more bang for your buck, opt for a travel system, which includes a stroller, car seat base, and detachable carrier.

Furniture The cornerstone of any nursery is the crib. A good crib can be quite pricey, but the good news is that almost all cribs today are convertible, meaning that your child will get years of use from one purchase. A dresser/changing table is another necessity that will be with your child for years to come. This combo allows for the top to be used as a changing table while the dresser can be used for its intended purpose until your child is an adult.

Safety Every new mommy worries constantly about their baby. But you cant stare at your baby all the time, which is where a video monitor comes in handy. Most models have night vision so you can rest assured that baby is snoozing soundly. Its also never too early to start baby-proofing your home, so you may want to add outlet covers, cord stops, and baby gates to your registry as well.

Comfort - Baby slings hammocks After safety, your babys comfort is your next priority. As much as you might want to, you cant hold your baby 24 hours a day. But you can get products that will simulate that feeling for baby and (sometimes) for you. Baby slings are an excellent way to wear your baby (see our articles on mei tais and babywearing) and come in a variety of styles. Baby hammocks are suspended from a stand or from your ceiling and provide a gentle swaying motion while cocooning your baby in comfort.

Newborn essentials One of the most crucial items to put on your registry is a high-quality breast pump. Even if you plan to be a stay-at-home mum, at some point you will have to be away from your baby, and it is important to still be able to provide your baby with healthy nutritious breast milk. Nappies are another must-add since the cost of nappies in the first year of babys life can be staggering.

Of course there are many other items you may wish to add to your list, but having these basics will have you well on your way to creating your perfect gift registry!

Bonding with Your New Baby

02/05/2017
Not every mum falls instantly in love with their baby read on to learn about things you can do to soon make your relationship a strong and healthy one.


A common fear for many first-time mothers is one that no one wants to talk about: What if I dont bond with my baby? The prevalence of postpartum depression tends to exacerbate this fear, leaving lots of new mothers feeling like failures over something that they cannot control. While postpartum depression doesnt carry the same stigma it did twenty years ago, many women go undiagnosed and feel ashamed that they arent instantly in love with their new arrival. If this sounds like you or someone you know, read on to learn about things you can do to make your relationship with your baby a strong and healthy one.
Baby slings carriers Baby slings and baby carriers are fantastic for you and your baby. Skin-to-skin contact can stimulate oxytocin production (there go those warm fuzzies again!) in both mum and baby. Having your baby in such close proximity for so long lets the two of you get to know each other on a deeper level. Baby will know your voice, your smell, and even the way you move, and you will develop a second sense for your babys needs before she has a chance to get fussy.

Talk to your doctor This may sound like a no-brainer, but many new mums are embarrassed to admit that they havent bonded instantly with their baby. Your doctor may diagnose postpartum depression or refer you to a specialist who can.

Nurse your baby Breastfeeding is the best possible thing you can do for your baby, and it has benefits for you as well. Nursing releases oxytocin, which is responsible for that warm, fuzzy feeling. Some mothers even say they feel a sense of euphoria while breastfeeding their babies. If nursing isnt an option for you, dont despair; you can still make feeding time special. Go into a quiet room and take in the sights, sounds, and smells of your baby. If you arent comfortable with that much intimacy just yet, then read your favourite book or turn on Netflix and watch the latest episode of a television show.

Talk to your baby It may sound silly since your baby cant talk back, but talking to your baby is very soothing to him since he already knows your voice from hearing it inside the womb. Talking to your baby also plays a big part in language development. But dont feel you have to go 100% baby talk babies who are spoken to frequently in a natural conversational tone have the opportunity to better learn the rhythms, intonations and sounds normal language communication.


Bonding with your baby may not be as easy as it looks in movies or on television, but that doesnt mean anything is wrong with your relationship with your child if you dont immediately feel the love in the way that perhaps you had anticipated. Take it one day at a time, and soon your little bean will be your favourite person in the world.

The Wonders of Mei Tai: 6 Benefits of Baby Wearing

27/04/2017
Have you heard about the wonder of Mei Tai?

Mei Tai is a traditional, Chinese baby carrier. While it is one of the simplest baby carriers around, it is also one of the most effective and comfortable ways to carry your baby. In its essence, a Mei Tai is nothing more than a rectangular section of fabric with straps at each corner.

But a Mei Tai is so much more than that. Lets explore the top 6 benefits of using a Mei Tai to carry your baby!

1: Incredibly Customizable For All Bodies The Mei Tai can be made to fit every body with ease. Because of how this carrier is structured, you get a very comfortable, snug fit every time. Everyone in your family can use the same Mei Tai thanks to the ease of customization with this type of carrier.

2: Still Provides Structure While there are many types of customizable wrap carriers that you can use for your baby, some of them do not have as much structure as a Mei Tai.

In a way, the Mei Tai is the perfect blend between very structured carriers that have buckles and wrap carriers. You get the comfort and flexibility of a wrap carrier with added, soft structure. There is no other carrier like the Mei Tai.

3: Get Stronger! Carrying your baby rather than using a stroller is a great way to get a fitness boost. The extra energy your body will put into supporting the extra weight will make your arms and back stronger without feeling sore or overworked.

Who doesnt want a little extra workout built into their everyday routine?

4: Bond With Your Baby Using any type of baby carrier that puts your body closer to you helps improve the health of both you and your baby through bonding. The closeness of bodies helps babies bond with the person carrying them, so switching to a carrier like a Mei Tai boosts your bond.

5: Distributes Weight Better While some wrap carriers are very comfortable, they quickly become bothersome because the weight is not properly distributed and puts extra stress on the carriers body.

The structure of the Mei Tai and its wide, two-shoulder straps helps to situate the weight in a way that is comfortable for your hips, shoulders, and back. No more aching backs from one shoulder carriers or thin straps!

6: Versatile Carrying Options Some baby carriers can only be used on the front or only on the back of your body. By tying the Mei Tai in different ways, you can use it on the front, side, or back of your body, which gives you the option to choose your carrying method from day-to-day.

How to choose a baby carrier

21/04/2017
The world ofbaby carriers is confusing especially when youre just starting out. Here at Funky Giraffe, we want to make things as simple as possible by helping you answer the question of how to choose a baby carrier. Below, weve outlined the some of the main types of baby carriers wraps, slings, soft structured carriers, and mei tais. First, however, there are some considerations to take into account when youre choosing a carrier to suit you and your baby, such as:

Who will be using the carrier?
Will it just be you, 100% of the time? If there are multiple caregivers, you probably want to look at something thats either a tie-up carrier (see woven wrap, mei tai) or easily adjustable (see soft structured carrier).

How long do you plan to babywear?
It pays to look at whetheryouonly want something to get you through those first couple of months at home with your newborn (see stretchy wraps), or whether you want something thats built to last your baby as they grow (see woven wraps, mei tais and soft structured carriers).

What is your budget?
Baby carriers can be expensive, but many of them are designed to last your baby right up until they reach preschool age (and in some cases, beyond). The more affordable stretchy wraps are perfect for those who want to wear for a short time. For the investment wraps, for approximately 3 years of fewer tantrums, easier travelling, and happier, more content babies, we think thats money VERY well spent!


Wrap
Also called: woven wrap, stretchy wrap,carry sling
There aretwo types of wraps woven and stretchy.

Stretchy wrapsare made from a soft jersey or fleece fabric, and usually come in one size fits all. They are best with babies 6 months and under, though if you have a particularly heavy baby, you may not even make it to 4 months before you want to switch to something with a bit more support. With stretchy wraps we also recommend you only use front carry, and adjust for nursing as needed. Back carry is not recommended for stretchy wraps.

Advantages:Very comfortable and excellent for beginners, tying methods are limited but you can pre-tie them to get your baby in and out more easily.

Disadvantages:These tend to have a lot of fabric, so if you live in a warmer climate, you will probably find a stretchy wrap to be too hot to wear. Recommended up to 15kgs by most manufacturers, but from experience we can say youll want to switch when your baby is around 7-8kgs (approximately 17-18lbs).

BEST FOR:newborns smaller babies

Woven wrapsare the most versatile baby carrier you can own. There are a number of ways you can tie them, so you can find a method that suits you and your baby best. They can be used for every size baby from preemie through to a sleepy 4 year old whose legs are too tired to walk! They come in a variety of lengths, but the most common is around 4.5m. You can carry your baby on your front, hip, or back, and they also allow you to comfortably breastfeed.

Advantages:You can do just about anything with a woven wrap, from wearing a premature baby; all the way up to wearing a near school aged child (back carry, naturally). The beautiful patterns are strangely addictive (master this type of carrier, and you WILL end up with more than one, just wait), and because you tie it, it will fit you perfectly every time.

Disadvantages:Has a bigger learning curve than any other carrier and requires more practice to find a type of hold that suits you best. However, we would urge you to stick with it woven wraps are well worth the effort for their durability, versatility, and all-round awesomeness.

BEST FOR:all-round babywearing

Ring Sling

Slings, or ring slings, are a more modernised version of the baby carriers traditionally used in cultures in Indonesia and Mexico. Its a one-shoulder carry, pieced together with a pair of nylon or metal rings, and baby can be worn on your front, hip, and (for toddlers only) back. Easily adjustable, this carrier is quite a bit easier to use than a woven wrap, but still has a bit of a learning curve.

Advantages:the long tail of the sling can be used as a nursing cover, sun shade, emergency rain shield, or even a light blanket. Its quick to put on, great for breastfeeding, and quick to adjust. The Amazonas Ring Sling even has a handy pocket!

Disadvantages:You dont have a lot of options with different holds, its not great for people with back or shoulder problems (due to the one-shoulder carry), and the tail can be annoying for some people.

BEST FOR: people who need a fast on/off; who want to breastfeed on the go

Soft Structured Carrier

Also called a buckle carrier
Structured carriers are probably the easiest, most user-friendly baby carrier on the market today. Because they have buckles, theres little to no learning curve, theyre super easy to adjust (ever had a backpack? Its the same principle) and they are really popular with dads as well. You can use them with newborns, right through to pre-school age children.

Amazonas also offer an ultra lite vesion of the structured carrier. This design is super popular with baby wearing dads as its made with parachute silk and is super light and very strong!

Advantages:Comfortable for longer carries with heavier children, great for beginners, feel very secure, widely available.

Disadvantages:Not as cosy, buckles and padding can feel very bulky (especially for petite people), too large to throw in nappy bag, newborn inserts can be cumbersome, dont adjust easily for breastfeeding.

BEST FOR:beginners, reluctant babywearers, heavier children, people who dont have the time/desire to learn how to tie a woven wrap.


Mei Tai

Pronounced may tie, themei tai carrierhas been used for centuries by mothers in Asia. It resembles a soft structured buckle carrier, but with ties in place of the buckles. The straps are often very wide, to provide extra comfort for the wearer, and they come in a range of gorgeous designs. Theyre perfect for wearing while doing housework, or for longer carries, as they are built to be comfortable for longer.

Advantages:provides a custom fit every time, many carrying positions, easy to learn, suitable for all age groups, easily adjustable shareable amongst caregivers, very comfortable

Disadvantages:Knot tying can feel less secure for beginners; can be frustrating for toddlers who want quick on/off options, long straps can be cumbersome

BEST FOR:all-round baby wearing.

Whatever you decide it is important that you pick the best carrier for you and your baby as baby wearing is a wonderful bonding experience that parents can have with their children.

Easy Ways To Make A Kids’ Room More Fun

18/04/2017
A kids room should be a safe place for them to rest every night, but it should also be a place where they can make the most of their childhood by having a ton of fun!

Every kid loves having toys, but there is more to making a room fun for a kid than adding more toys to it. In fact, there are a lot of incredibly easy ways to make a kids room their favourite place in the whole house. Lets learn how!

A Wall They Can Write On
In recent years, chalkboard paint has made a huge impact on the home styling industry. From kitchens to closets, this paint is turning everything into a surface you can write on!

Adding a wall that you can write on to a kids room is a great way to add a fun, unique touch to their space. Theyll be able to draw and decorate their room in a new way, every day!

Using chalkboard paint is super easy. You simply paint it on, let it dry, and then write away! If you dont want to deal with chalk, there are even dry erase panels that can be added to any wall as a cleaner alternative.

Improve The Seating! Kids will spend a lot of time in their room sitting around. Whether theyre reading, playing games, or just relaxing, changing up the seating in their room is an easy way to make their room more fun.

One especially unique seating solution is to consider adding indoor hanging chairs to kids rooms! Indoor hanging chairs may sound like a lot of work, but theyre actually very easy to install.

Once hanging, indoor hanging chairs will provide a comfortable place for your kid to chill out in their room that keeps their feet off of the ground.

Look Up! What do kids spend the most time in their room doing?

Sleeping! So why not make sleeping a little bit more fun? Adding a unique design to the ceiling of a kids room will add a little fun to their night as they fall asleep.

From glow-in-the-dark stars to massive superhero decals, there are dozens of ways to add a little of something your child loves to their ceiling so that they can fall asleep with a smile on their face.

Label Everything Fun labels to make everything more enjoyable, including cleaning up. Yes, really!

Make labels that feature bright colours and your childs favourite characters. Put them on storage organizers, books, and other items that should be organized in their room.

When its time to clean up their room, you can tell them to look for the different characters on their labels! This will make even a dull round of room tidying much more interesting for the kids, and that will make life much easier for you!

How Baby Hammocks Can Revolutionise Your Baby's Sleep

11/04/2017
Baby hammocks are not simply a smaller version of a traditional hammock. They are specially created baby beds that have been used for hundreds of years and can help your baby sleep better than they ever have before.

Explore the benefits of putting your baby to sleep in a baby hammock!

Help Your Baby Feel Safe Secure After a baby is born and brought home, they are laid to rest in a bassinette or other baby bed that is very different from the womb. The womb has been the babys home for months, and typical baby beds feel very different to your child.

A baby hammock, on the other hand, simulates the environment of the womb in many ways. It cradles your baby in a safe, secure environment that will help them be more comfortable and sleep better.

This bed can help your baby transition from the womb to the world, and that transition period will help them feel more secure in the world around them.

Rock Themselves To Sleep As most parents know, many babies love to be rocked to sleep. The swaying motion helps soothe babies, but it can be hard for mom or dad to need to rock their baby every single time they wake up throughout the night.

With a baby hammock, your baby can actually rock themselves back to sleep! Its been found that babies will move around in a baby hammock, which moves the bed, and then they quickly fall back asleep thanks to the rocking motion.

More sleep for your baby means more sleep for you, and there is nothing better than that!

Healthy, Natural Reclining Position Many young parents feel a lot of stress when their babies develop colic or reflux disorders. As part of the care plan, its often recommended to allow babies to recline more often to help them get better.

When using a flatbed, its difficult to achieve this position. Baby hammocks, on the other hand, help babies rest in a natural reclining position.

In this kind of position, you can relieve your babys symptoms more quickly in a baby hammock than on a flat bed.

Keeps Babies On Their Backs Many parents are afraid of allowing their baby to sleep on a cot or other sleeping arrangement for fear that they will turn onto their belly, which can be very dangerous for a young baby.

When you put your baby to sleep in a baby hammock, you are ensuring that they cannot turn over off of their back and onto their belly. This can help to keep your baby safer while they sleep and help you sleep easier knowing that they are safe.

Great Ways To Bond With Your Baby and Be Closer Than Ever

05/04/2017
The bond between parent and child is a special one. Some of that bond comes naturally and is reinforced by biology. But thats not all there is to this bond.

The bonds between babies, their parents, and their loved ones are all special and unique. Developing these bonds take time, but the time spent is worth the effort because these bonds will be your babys tether to the world as they grow up and learn about the world.

From baby carriers to nap time: here are some unique and effective ways to bond with your baby!

Nap time Is Special Time For many new parents, nap time means break time - your little one is napping, so you can finally get other things taken care of!

However, nap time is actually a great time to sit down and spend some time with your baby while they dont need anything from you but your presence. If your baby is napping on your bed or in a bassinet, sit next to them.

Without even touching them or talking to them, youll be able to increase how aware of each other you are, which will help you long-term bonding!

Carry Your Baby Close A great solution to bonding on the go is to carry your baby close you, and you can do that easily thanks to baby carriers!

Baby carriers keep your baby right up against your body while you walk about. Not only does this help improve you and your babys strength, but it also helps you bond. Your baby will become more familiar with your face, your voice, and your body by using a baby carrier.

Whether you wear a carrier around the home or while youre out, this is a proven way to help you and baby bond. Plus, everyone can try it - this includes aunts, uncles, grandmas, and more! Help everyone bond with your baby.

Massage Your Baby Recently, some parents have taken to the art of the baby massage to help their babies fall asleep easier.

Giving your baby a baby massage before bed each night not only helps improve their muscle formation and circulation, but it also helps improve your bond.

While massaging them, your baby will be feeling relaxed and paying attention to your touch and your face. This will help them associate you with the same happy, warm feeling that you have for them, and there is no better bonding than that.

Take Care Of YOU! Lastly, a great way to bond with your baby is to take care of yourself! Take a break when needed. Take a long bubble bath or read a book.

When you are stressed, it will be harder to pay attention to your babys needs and bond with them. A well-rested parent can bond better with their baby!

What the Best Way to Cradle Your Baby?

14/03/2017
Did you know that there is an instinctual preference for parents to hold their babies to one side rather than the other?

The Nature Research Journal has recently published a study by Janeane Ingram that shows that children of mammalian parents approach their parents from the left of their body. This approach, as well as the cradling of children on the left side of the body, has come about because the right hemisphere of the brain is used for processing social cues and building relationships. This is the part of the brain that receives signals from the left eye, which is why children are, so they say, more often cradled on the left side of the body. Parents, then, may be able to care for their children better and form lasting bonds simply by observing this natural preference for cradling babies on a particular side.

After examining interactions between infant baby whales, horses and their mothers (as well as a host of other mammals), Ingram noticed that infants bonded by rubbing their bodies against their mothers when they were on the left of their parents. She also noticed that when they positioned themselves on the right of their parents, the children were less likely to be left behind.

Ingram noted that during leisurely walking and suckling, children would be to the left of their parents. However, this positon was likely to change as children increasingly became more independent.

Ingram and other researchers who have studied this tendency separately have all concluded that an evolutionary advantage is the underlying reason for keeping loved ones to the left of us, with the presence of predators more easily felt when they approach from that same side. Now, were not suggesting that you should start living in fear of a hungry pack of wolves attacking you from your left side, but that extra level of bonding potential is something to consider the next time you have your baby snuggle up close in one of our Amazonas Baby Slings.

Overlooked Gift Ideas for New Babies and Parents

27/02/2017
You know we have just a few things for babies here at Funky Giraffe, but for those casting about for prezzies, wed like to point your attention to a few necessities that often get overlooked. Here are our recommendations for gifts that might not seem fancy but will be supremely useful and very much appreciated.

Bibs, lots of bibs
For parents the world over know only too well, the more little boys and girls babies eat, the more mess there is and washing to be done. Our large baby bibs come in affordable sets, and they just might save someones Christmas. Funky bibs are a parents best friend and there are never enough of them.
Post-newborn clothing
New parents will of course receive the piles of newborn onesies and leggings, but they often dont receive much for the ages after that a few sets of snuggly warm outfits for 3-to-6 or 6-to-12 month olds makes a very smart gift (and a smartly dressed baby).

Diapers for 4 months and up
Babies love scarves too! (and their parents). Funky Giraffe have some super-cool baby snoods; perfect for winter, and great as a little, friendly Christmassy gift.

Bathing, sun cream and other skincare products
How much you can buy will depend on the strictness of the parents preferences if they want only specially crafted, all-organic products from Neals Yard, youll be looking at a rather expensive gift if you want to get more than a few tubes. Brands such as Earth Friendly Baby and Jason make ecologically sound products that are more affordable than Mustela and Weleda. A basket filled with washes, lotions, sun cream and barrier cream is a joy to receive!

A little extra something
Rather than a disposable box, consider putting your gift in an attractive basket or bin that can be reused. New parents need organisational items like you wont believe.

And it definitely wont hurt to include something for the parents wine, beer, good coffee, hot chocolate? The parents will raise a glass or mug to you, awesome friend, for remembering that they need a little TLC, too.

Explore the Great Indoors with Your Kids

16/02/2017
Its too cold to go out there, you dont want to but the kids do and believe me, even in this day and tech-filled age they still love jumping in the snow and making muddy tracks in the house. For most of the year thats a great thing. I mean the last thing I want to encourage my toddlers to do is to sit around in front of the TV all day long, I know full well that the day is coming soon enough when their computers, tablets, and gaming devices will turn them into royal couch potatoes.

Thing is, its freezing out there, and not only do I not fancy being out, I dont want either of them getting ill. So for today and maybe a couple of other days like today its totally fine that they want to laze around the house. Of course not indoor activity is centred around the TV, here are a few positive playtime tips based on how we spend a bundled up day together in the great indoors.

Bake their favourite treats, together All kids (99.99%) love sweet treats. Not very many of them are healthy and its for that reason we dont want to encourage they eat them all the time. A day inside however is the perfect opportunity to introduce them to healthy versions of their favourite snacks. Make some oatmeal cookies, or black bean brownies. Encourage them to help out, not only will they have a blast, theyll be learning valuable lessons about where their food comes from and how to make it themselves. Be warned; they will make a mess, and if theyre very young make sure theyre wearing a baby bib.

Create, paint and play music The telly isnt the only way to keep them entertained. Leave some paints lying around (water colour so they dont stain), or maybe some musical instruments. Now just a warning a xylophone, drum, or recorder dont usually sound wonderful when your kids are banging (or blowing) away at them, but just remember, youre inspiring them to be creative and one day it will all pay off. In the meantime, I suggest using earplugs, works a treat.

Make a movie If you have some Halloween leftovers, great. If not, no worries, just cut some old rags, some fun accessories, and use make-up and those water colour paints to make suitable costumes. Come up with a little story and set your camcorder to record. Have fun and get creative, use the attic to make a spooky horror movie. Theyre going to have a blast, and youll have a movie to remember your day together.

They might make a fuss at first when you dont let them play outside, but theyll stop moaning as soon as they find out about all the fun things you have in store for them. Once you start getting creative you yourself will be amazed at how many activities you can find to keep them busy, engaged and physically active.
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The Benefits Of Carrying Your Child Using A Baby Sling

06/02/2017

Cradling your baby protectively to your chest prompts such lovely feelings of devotion and affection. Holding your precious bundle close provides the perfect opportunity for serious bonding, but while doing this for hours at a time sounds like a joyous prospect, its hardly practical.

Baby slings come into their own here. They are designed so that you can securely hold baby close, providing comfort while releasing your arms to attend to other, less fulfilling duties. A baby sling or babywearing can make mobility so much easier; useful for indoors when youre busy and equally convenient for carrying baby when out and about. Sometimes you want to travel light (ok, maybe the term travelling light and travelling with a baby dont mix well) however, you might just fancy a trip without the pushchair. Baby slings eliminate the disturbance of having to transfer your snoozing child, eradicating the changing bag/baby/pushchair juggling act (never any fun) and lets not get started on pushchairs v stairs or busy streets.

Aside from the practicalities, babywearing can be hugely beneficial to the wellbeing of your child. Human touch and close interaction is known to aid bonding, providing security to your baby and comfort to both of you. You can rest assured that baby is safe and contentedly snuggled. Baby slings can provide an inspiring environment and this, in turn, enhances development. Baby can hear your voice and adopt a quiet alertness they are awake, relaxed and happy.

Baby slings (which are endorsed by professional throughout the world) can also be useful if your baby suffers from colic. The motion of being carried around can provide some respite and comfort. Other plus points include (for Mum) easier breastfeeding, but the rest of the family shouldnt feel excluded. To add to their convenience, a baby sling can be worn by any family member (bring on the proud to bursting grandparents). Speaking of family, the arrival of a baby heralds joy but also a little hullabaloo (in the nicest possible way). Babies often demand a huge amount of attention and if you have other children its easy for them to feel left out when you are constantly racing to pick up their crying sibling. Studies indicate that babywearing can in fact help to reduce crying by around 43% and its fair to say that a contented baby makes for a more contented family life.

Naysayers may suggest that you are spoiling your baby, but allowing him or her to be soothed by hearing your heartbeat, feeling your body warmth and recognising your familiar smell is certainly not spoiling. You are merely choosing to use a baby sling or baby carrier to ensure a nurturing and safe environment for your precious bundle.

For more great baby gear, check out our new Amazonas range of slings, carriers, hammocks, chairs, Mei Tai and blankets.

The Latest Allergy Advice for Your Little One

23/01/2017
Feeding babies seems like it should be a simple task (other than getting them to actually eat). Equipped with a stylish baby bib, a parents biggest worry should be dodging thrown food. Unfortunately, concern about children developing food allergies have the process more challenging. In the late 1990s parents were advised to avoid feeding children certain foods in order to reduce them developing allergies. Now a new study by the Imperial College London is reversing that recommendation for most children.

College London found that feeding children egg between the ages of four and six months many reduce their risk of developing an egg allergy. Consuming peanuts between the ages of four and eleven months also reduced the risk of developing an allergy to the food. Meanwhile, College London didnt find anything to indicate that early exposure to milk, fish (including shellfish), tree nuts or wheat increased the risk of developing an allergy.

NB: Naturally, this does not mean that giving children foods to which they are known to have an existing allergy will somehow help them get past it.

And if youre giving your baby a new food and wish to keep an eye for a possible reaction, just give them a tiny amount and look out for: skin reactions, like eczema or hives, flushes and rashes; any swelling of the tongue, lips or face; vomiting and diarrhoea; or any trouble breathing, such as wheezing. If you have any concerns, speak to your GP beforehand.

So it would appear that the information on allergy development in infants is fast-changing. Whats not so fast at changing is your baby (see what we did there?), so why not help them change into one of our funky designs?

The Funky Giraffe range includes fantastic quality and super-stylish designs in baby bibs, baby clothing, super-cute baby shoes and baby accessories and also check out our Gift Certificates here.

The latest data is showing that our children benefit from early introduction to a wide variety of foods, so have those bibs at the ready, youre in for a long battle ahead!

How to Keep Your Baby Looking Sharp in a Bib

14/01/2017
Your baby doesnt know they look terrific in their new bib during your special dinner, but your guests do. Sitting your baby at a dinner party might not be something youll do all the time, but on some special occasions, or if your baby cant sleep, he or she will enjoy a place at the table with the adults and older kids.

With the right accessory you can dress your little one for the occasion, and not only will they look adorable, with our line of bibs and other accessories, babies and toddlers can feel absolutely comfortable in their fancy attire. At Funky Giraffe, we have an extensive catalogue of great ideas to help your little one join you at the dinner table. Here are just a few of the items we highly recommend.

Cutie Collars These frilly bibs will be the talk of the evening. Theyre not only adorable, theyre also made of the same soft polar fleece as our standard bibs. Check out our White Brown Spots Cutie Collar Bandana Bib, with a cute bowtie and frills this bib is just one example of how fun it can be to dress your baby up.

Satin bibs For very special occasions where there might even be a photographer present, we have a selection of silky smooth satin bibs, each one ornamented with a colourful bowtie or Satin Rose Applique Swirl.

Messy Aprons You might want to get your toddlers excited about the meal, and theres no better way than letting them help with the prep. Have them help prepare a simple, healthy desert, but just remember things might get messy in the kitchen. Our selection of Messy Aprons are fully waterproof and will keep their outfits clean. The best part is they look super cute!

We offer a wonderful selection of baby bibs for all sorts of occasions. If you want to plan a nice dinner party, and you want the kids to be part of it we can help you find bibs that will keep them dry and protected while looking as adorable as can be.

Outdoor-Friendly Winter Activities for the Family

06/01/2017
Just because its getting colder out there doesnt mean you need to hideaway indoors. Each season offers a different array of fun-filled activities that you can do outside with your family and winter is no different. Talking of fillings, have you seen our personalised Christmas stockings? Be ready for snow, chilly winter evenings and fun days out with these great ideas for you and your family:

Snow Graffiti
Throw on your ski mask and hit your backyard for a little tag session. Dont worry Mum and Dad, youll be able to leave the spray cans in the garage for this one. All you need to do is fill a spray bottle up with some water and a little dye and you have yourself your legal graffiti spray bottle; just dont go spraying on the neighbours lawns.

Snow Cones
Imagine if food just fell from the sky. Well on a snowy winters day, thats just what happens. The main ingredient for any snow cone is of course, snow. With a little bit of syrup that you can either make at home or purchase from a store, you can turn your little one into a gourmet chef without having even to clean up after yourselves.

Ice Skating
Not every outdoor winter activity needs snow to be accomplished. When the weathers below freezing either head out to a nearby pond or lake thats been frozen over, or take to the local skating rink to carve it up with your little one.

Bingo Hiking
Heres another activity that is in fact made better when snow is yet to blanket the ground. Before embarking on your lovely winter jaunt, create a couple bingo cards that you can carry and fill out with you as you walk. When you spot something on your card, shout it out and fill the square in. Not only is this good fun but itll give you and your toddler a dose of exercise. In your frosty bingo squares, you can include things such as: robin redbreast, pine cone, squirrel, holly bush and fir tree.

Admire the Local Lights
One of the best ways to get in the holiday spirit is by checking out local Christmas lights. Walk around your neighbourhood and adjacent ones in search of the best holiday lights. Glowing reindeer, blinking Christmas lights, Father Christmases and elves go out and see what you can find.

The temperatures might be low, but spirits can stay high. For soft, snuggly outfits for your little ones, check out these funky designs!

Funky Giraffe are full of great ideas, great quality and great value. If youd like a personalised baby bib or bandana, start exploring our fantastic range now!

Foster Your Baby’s Brain Development with ‘Motherese’

30/12/2016
Long have we engaged with our babies through high-pitched, playful voices. Now recent research has found Motherese to be an effective means of creating a meaningful bond with our children.

Children come into a world that is completely awash in novel stimuli. To avoid being overwhelmed by novelty, children must create an internal ranking system that assigns value to input. This is where Motherese comes into play.

From brain scanning infants, researchers at Cambridge University have found that newborns value information more when its presented to them in a sing-song, lullaby-like manner. Lead researcher Dr Leong is even surprised by the findings, Although it sounds odd to us, babies really love listening to Motherese even more than adult speech. It holds their attention better and the speech sounds clearer to them. So we know the more Motherese the baby hears, the better the language development.

Dr Leong also found that babies tend to be more engaged when a caretaker is involved in face-to-face interactions. Face-to-face contact paired with the sing-song quality of Motherese is one of the best ways to bond with your child while simultaneously help their learning process.

Another factor that plays into how quickly and easily children take in new information is how nurturing and peaceful their upbringing is. Dr Leong notes that, If babies experience stress early in life, their brains develop a little too quickly and so rather than work out the very best connections they should make, they go with ones that are good enough. Love and caring for a child is the best way to foster brain connections and to create a flexible brain.

At Funky Giraffe, we LOVE all things baby. We are full of great ideas and designs, so check out our range of baby bibs, burp cloths, shoes and more today to see what your little one might enjoy.

How to Keep the Happy in Your Holidays

23/12/2016
Whether you love carols, a big family meal, or opening gifts under the Christmas tree, the holidays are filled with fun and merriment. And challenges. But not to worry, take note of some of these tips and therell be no need to crack open the sherry just yet.

Family Photos
If youre planning on a special image of your new baby decked out for the holiday (hint: We have some super-cute seasonal personalised bibs for adorable photos), try to minimise the ways this can go wrong. A baby in a high chair or being held is more likely to be camera-friendly at just the right moment, but youll do well to minimise the other distractions in the room. A candy cane or holiday toy can be an excellent way to focus your babys attention while adding a festive touch to the final result. Want your children and pets together for a blissful holiday picture? That is a lovely idea. Just realise its probably impossible but no problem. The biggest family photo failures are often the images we enjoy most. Children fighting, crying, pets gone wild, and everyone looking the wrong way are natural, spontaneous, and all the more charming for it. Digital photography makes it easy to take a series of pictures to honestly capture the mayhem sorry, charm of a family photo shoot. Post a collection of these and youre sure to entertain more than you would with any well-executed Victorian posturing. Dont get so caught up taking pictures that you forget to enjoy the special moments. We all love to look back on special times, but living in the moment is also important! So once in a while, be prepared to drop the camera and commit the occasion to memory instead.

Traditions from different cultures


You and your partner may have discussed your beliefs but dont forget to discuss your holiday traditions. There could be a few surprises in store and these can become contentious once new parents are ready to share those traditions with their children.

Discuss it now. What were your holiday traditions growing up? What were some of your favourite moments? Talk about what time you like to open gifts you might both celebrate Christmas, but do you both celebrate it on the 25th? Compromise. Your familys celebrations probably wont be exactly what you experienced growing up. If youre from different cultures, find ways to blend your traditions so that the holidays are special for everyone. Keep the things that are most important to you without trying to recreate the past. Your familys traditions will become the special memories your children will cherish, feel free to make them uniquely yours.

Holiday Food


Whether they are recipes passed down through the generations or your parents made their own versions of holiday food, meals probably played a central role in your holidays.

Be realistic. If this is your babys first holiday season, you might be tempted to cook every dish from your childhood. Remember that wee tykes wont remember what they had for dinner this year. Your better option is to limit the menu to a manageable size. So pick one or two favourites, and if you have more than that, try to spread them over a few days (there are plenty of special ones ahead over the Christmas period). Share. If youll be hosting a big holiday event, dont do it all yourself. Have guests volunteer to bring some dishes. Ask older children to arrange the silverware or put away jackets as visitors arrive. Youll have more fun if everyone is working together to make the holidays special. Expect mishaps. Drinks will be spilled, silverware dropped, and children will dribble. Plan ahead by having extras glasses, silverware and cleaning cloths close at hand to quickly avert a mini crisis and resume the festivities. A stockpile of our special satin baby bibs will add a dash of style to kids holiday attire while handling the food that they dont. Our practical larger bibs for older children and adults are a tactful way to help others who may be likely to make a spill once in a while.

The most important thing to remember about the holidays is to take the time to enjoy your family and other loved ones. Dont be afraid to cut yourself some slack so that you can have happy holidays, too.

Gift Ideas for New or Expecting Parents

14/12/2016
We have just too many adorable items in stock right now, but if we were going to choose a few and assemble a bang-up gift for new parents, wed go for the items below...

Three Bandana Bibs Two seasonal designs and one year-round, perhaps? Our bandana bibs are the be-all, end-all of bibs in size and absorbency. New parents dont know how much fluid these littlies can produce, so dont leave them unprepared! And, bonus: our prices go down as your order quantity goes up, so you can get these three bibs for just 7.50.

Five pairs of socks Colour coordinated with the bib selection, of course.

Our baby socks are just 1.50 a pair. Sizes larger than 0 have grips on the bottom the blue ones shown here have pawprint grips, which makes them extra cool. Youll get all five for 7.50.


A RascalHeart outfit (or two) RascalHeart leggings, rompers, and vests are soft, made from pure cotton, and have style for days. We think the leggings would look smashing with the green socks.


The colours are easy to mix and match, and you can order rompers and vests printed with interesting, edgy designs. Because dressing the baby needs to be fun for the parents. Leggings are 5 each and vests are 8.

Shoes We have the right baby shoes for healthy foot development they have a wide, square toe box and are completely flexible so babys feet arent hampered in their movement.

The Most Important Camera Feature for Family Photos

05/12/2016
This article was written by one of our regular blog contributors, a father of two and photography enthusiast.

Kids grow up quickly. One day theyre wearing a dribble bib, and the next theyre off to college. It all happens in the blink of an eye; my children are 2 and 4 years old (although seeing the mess all over Susys highchair isnt what I would describe as angelic). I remember my first video of them being held by Mum in the hospital, their first walk like it was yesterday. Time really does go by very quickly.

I love taking pictures, and for me its very important to capture the moments that remind us why we get up in the middle of the night to administer some timely TLC, or why weve all but stopped going to the cinema, and why we now only go out with friends once in a blue moon. But I dont just want to capture the good times, I want to remember it all.

Like many parents, I need a camera that can help me capture their first walk, or that one time they score the winning goal. A lot of people will recommend a brand, or a specific camera that was touted as the most advanced photo machine the world has ever seen.

Im not here to recommend one brand or another, nor to deny you the pleasure of buying the worlds most advanced camera. Im here to share with you the camera feature that has been most helpful in capturing wonderful everyday moments with my kids.

Low light performer What does this mean? A lot of the pictures and videos youll shoot will be indoors. Birthday parties, achievements in the kitchen, play dates with friends. If you dont have the right camera setup, youll either end up taking pictures with lots of flash, or getting frustrated while you wait for your camera to focus on your subject. Of course kids move around quickly, often sporadically, so you want a camera that can capture spontaneous quick action.

There are two things you need: one, a camera that can take many pictures very quickly, and two, a lens that lets in lots of light. Thing is, you might have taken 50 shots of Tommy, but in every picture his face is blurry. Why does this happen you ask? Its because the sensor in your camera cant see enough light to understand what its supposed to focus on.

If you own a point and shoot camera, you want to keep the lens as wide open as possible (not zoomed in). If you have a camera where you can change the lens, youre most likely using the kit lens that came with the camera. Thats OK, but again, be sure and use the widest view possible.

Lets say you want to invest in a lens to better handle low light, then always go for a prime lens. These lenses tend to be wide open and let in the most light. 50mm is usually the cheapest prime lens you can buy. That just means a lens that doesnt zoom. A lens like that, combined with a high burst of pictures is far more likely to get you at least a couple of keepers for your photo album.

There are many essential features on a camera, but when you have kids being able to capture that spur of the moment shot is probably the most important. Dont be shy, take your camera wherever you go you never know when youll find yourself sharing those special moments with your family.

Funky Giraffe are full of great ideas and designs for the family. Why dont you check our fantastic range of baby bibs, cloths, shoes and accessories today?

Healthy Little Feet

01/12/2016
As with so many aspects of child-rearing, the sands of whether pre-walkers and toddlers should wear shoes have shifted over the years. We here at Funky Giraffe have baby shoes that dont interfere with the growth and development of little feet.

The normal, fully grown human foot has 28 bones, but a babys feet do not begin to ossify until they are at least 6 months old. Their feet are structured with just a lot of cartilage. As children learn to walk, they need the feedback and stimulus they receive from all the many points on their feet to help with their balance and to develop a good stance. Many podiatrists specialising in infant and childrens feet are now coming round to the idea that being barefoot as much as possible during this time results in healthier development for their feet and their posture.

But with all the outings you want to do with a baby, they cant just be barefoot all the time now, can they? Our super cute baby moccasin shoes tick the boxes for healthy baby footwear: square toe box, wide through the heel and flexible. These allow the bones and tendons of the feet to develop as they should and prevent problems later on. And with the interior padding and great colours, you increase the chances that your baby wont want to take them off and leave them in a restaurant.


These make a fantastic gift for new parents theyll be needing them before they know it!

How to keep your family well in winter

28/11/2016
Now the weather has turned much colder there are germs and bugs all over the place and babies are very susceptible to catching colds which they can then pass on to you and all the other members of your family.

Following these tips can help avoid some of the colds out there. Look out for my next blog about what to do when your baby does catch a cold.

Wash your hands often yours and your little ones
It is very easy to remember to wash your own hands after a nappy change but be sure to wash your babys hands too. Their hands end up in their mouths a lot so it is very important to try and keep them as clean as possible. Remember to wash all their teething toys and dummies too.
Wash hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water and dry well with a clean towel. Make sure to always wash hands before and after eating, handling food or feeding your baby/child and after using the toilet, changing nappies or helping your child use the toilet. In the absence of running water and soap, use an alcohol-based hand gel, but make sure you put enough on so it takes at least 30 seconds to dry.

Clean disinfect frequently touched surfaces

Use an antibacterial surface spray (or handy wipes) on a daily basis to clean surfaces and kill germs. Its also a good idea to clean doorknobs, handles and switches.

Sterilise all baby feeding equipment

Babies have fragile immune systems, especially in the first year of their lives, which means that they are more susceptible to catching germs. Washing only removes some of the germs whereas sterilising kills them, including fungi, bacteria and viruses. There are 2 ways to sterilise: 1/ steam (using an electric steriliser or in the microwave). 2/the Milton Cold Water Method - which is using cold tap water and either sterilising tablets or sterilising fluid. Click here for a step-by-step video guide on how to sterilise.

The mixture of milk (whether from the breast or formula) with babys saliva creates an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, so even if you breastfeed its a good idea to sterilise breast-pump parts and nipple shields too.

Travel smart
Wash your hands or use an antibacterial hand gel before and after using public transport. Even when travelling in your car (youd be surprised the number of germs on a forecourt petrol pump!)
If your baby does catch a cold dont panic. It is bound to happen to everyone.
Look out for my next blog about top tips for looking after your baby when they have a cold.

At Funky Giraffe, we offer fun, practical, environmentally friendly bandana bibs. Take a look at our baby bibs, clothes and accessories today for gifts, sales and free UK delivery for orders over 7.

Sling safety for little ones

22/11/2016
There are many benefits to using a sling with a very young baby; in fact. many hospitals use them in the practice known as Kangaroo Care, and there is much evidence to suggest this skin to skin contact between mother and newborn (especially premature babies) can confer great benefits to both.

The baby gains assistance with their physiological regulation of breathing and heart rates, temperature control is improved, and the contact helps to establish breastfeeding and promote more rapid growth compared to babies who are not held as close for as long. Furthermore, the baby will feel more secure in their developing relationship with his caregiver, due to the time spent in close contact.

The caregiver may find that he/she is able to bond with her baby, due to the increased release of oxytocin, and post-natal depression may be reduced. Being able to be hands-free can really make a difference to a familys ability to get around with their new baby, keeping them active and engaging with normal life.

The key is to know how to use the sling in a safe and secure way, just as you may practise learning to ride a bicycle, or drive a car. Familiarity and practice make perfect. Many parents choose to use a stretchy wrap for their tiny baby, as they are very soft and snuggly, very respectful of babys natural position, and easy to take on and off again. Others may use a less structured and very adjustable ring sling and some will choose to use a supportive but rigid buckle carrier. Others will use a bag-shaped sling as they have seen it for sale and seen it marketed as suitable from birth.


How can be sure that I am using my sling safely?

A good sling should mimic the natural, in-arms upright position for carrying babies, ensuring the caregiver can see and sense the baby at all times, and thus able to be quickly aware of and rapidly responsive to any changes.

A good thing to learn is the Sling ABC

Airway, Body position and Comfort.


A

Babies heads are heavy and it takes time for their muscle strength and tone to develop enough to hold up their heads and support their own airways; until then, it is our job as parents to be as caring and careful as we can. A babys head should be resting against the caregivers chest, with the windpipe straight, not curled over. A good guide is at least two fingers being able to fit between babys chin and his chest. Air should be able to circulate freely and the face should not be obscured by fabric, or buried within cleavage. Babys cheek can rest against parents chest, and hands should be accessible to the mouth for sucking if needed (and not trapped down the side of the sling)

B

The upper body should be supported against parents chest, to ensure no slumping (this is why carriers should be tight, to make sure that babies do not roll up into a ball). The pelvic tilt into the M shape with knees higher than bottom will help support babys back as well as being very comfortable. The back of the head should be supported where possible to avoid backwards lolling. The pelvic tilt and using a rolled muslin cushion can be helpful if babies resist head support.

C

Make sure your baby is happy in their sling and not slumped into a tight ball or folded over in a cradle carry.

You will want to make sure your baby is Tight, In View, Close enough to Kiss, Keep Chin off the Chest, Supported Back.

Cooking and Music: Two Indoor Activities for Kids that Don’t Involve Screen Time

14/11/2016
As the days get shorter, so does outdoor playtime. Outside is cold, wet, and often off-limits during the colder months.

And of course, you dont have to do much convincing these days to get kids indoors. Tablets, consoles, and the internet can keep them entertained for days, but its time to show them how to have fun the old fashioned way (say 1997, when dial-up internet was the only option). Theres nothing wrong with tech in moderation, but it wont hurt for them to try their hand at these two indoor activities, which will help kids develop life skills that dont involve Google.

Everybody in the kitchen! The kitchen really should be the go-to place for a number of reasons - the first one being that your children are going to get hungry at some point anyway! You may as well get them making their own snacks. Teaching children to cook has other positive benefits as well, such as laying the groundwork for survival skills when they have to fend for themselves in the wide world (Uni).

Cooking helps teach kids about nutrition, and if you do it right you might even get them to enjoy their vegetables a bit more than before. Try making healthy versions of things they enjoy eating; teach them how to core and slice apples, and then make a whole grain apple pie. Or bake oatmeal cookies and shape them into things like robots and monsters. Cooking together is fun just remember to cover your surfaces and put your little chefs in aprons, or be prepared to spend some serious time cleaning up afterwards.

Musical madness
Another way to spend time with kids and entertain them indoors is by making music together you may just want to be sure the neighbours are out, as not every child is a musical prodigy!

Its important to do what you can to encourage a childs natural musical creativity - even something as simple as leaving a couple of used tins and wooden spoons lying around is likely to get some rhythmical interaction. If you play an instrument, even if you dont play it well (no one is judging), you can accompany them. Pick up a guitar and strum along. Your child will get more into it with a little guidance. They can even invite their friends over to join the band. If it goes well you can record your musical session and they can let their classmates hear.

These are just two indoor activities to engage your children in during colder weather, but remember you can make an activity out of anything! Teach your children to knit, pull out a roll of paper and let them scribble away, or encourage them to make a sculpture out of sticky tape and recyclables the possibilities are virtually endless. And at the end of the day when youre ready to plop down on the sofa, you can allow the iPad to take over for a little while without feeling too much guilt.

Must-Have Clothing for your Newborn

08/11/2016
You become a parent long before your child is born. Being prepared for your childs birth means having clothing already at your home awaiting the arrival of your newest family member.

Here are some articles of clothing that you should be equipped with before your child moves in.

A Baby Bib
Even when food isnt around youll be thanking yourself for having a baby bib set at the ready. Our babies are expert droolers and exceptionally good at keeping food on the outside of their mouths. Bibs function not only as protectors of clothing but as napkins to help wipe up that excess breakfast, lunch and dinner. A new toddler can turn your house upside down; a bib is an easy way to minimise any mess. Check out our funky baby bib sets here!

One-Piece Outfits
Babies can get away with just about any style. They dont really care about what colour theyre wearing as long as what they have on is nice and snug. One-piece outfits are perfect for both sleeping in and wearing out. They keep your baby safe from chills and strong light, protecting them from the sun, cold and wind.

Hats Beanies
Hats keep our babies cosy and out of the sun and wind, which can easily cause their sensitive skin to become dry or burnt. Funky Giraffes rascal heart hats for babies are made from natural fibres, and come in a great range of colours, tones and attitudes lots of personality, and perfect for the colder months.

Pantaloons
For an alternative look, dress your child up as the true rocker that they are. Our punk pantaloons will give your kid a little edge and make them stand out amongst the crowd. Despite looking tough around the edges our pantaloons are made from natural cotton so your kids can rock out while staying warm and comfortable.

Readying yourself for the unknown is daunting. Having the basics already at your disposal will lessen your anxiety and allow you to enjoy your newborn.

How to Wash your Baby – Top Tips

03/11/2016


Babies have a wonderful habit of getting themselves into all kinds of mess. They want to explore as much as possible, and instinctively pop everything they can into their mouths since thats how they best understand what theyre handling. Being mindful your babys cleanliness is of course essential, but knowing how best to manage their delicate bodies can be tricky you want to be thorough, safe and sensitive.

Giving your baby a bath can be about much more than just those practicalities, though. Bathing is a special bonding experience for both parent and child, so its important to be able to do it with love and confidence. Here are some tips on bathing to help keep that wiggling, babbling, beautiful baby of yours clean and cheerful.


How Often Do I Wash My Baby?

A lot of parents think that due to the lack of contact with bacteria and germs pre-birth children are highly susceptible to illness and must be washed every day. Its true that their immune systems arent as strong as adults, but this doesnt necessarily merit everyday bathing, which may dry their skin. The lack of mobility in our babies means that they dont come into direct contact with too many objects. For newborns, all they need is a wash two to three times a week. Later, when they begin to crawl, you can start bathing your baby more frequently.


Where Do I Wash My Baby?

No need for a big bath for a little baby the sink is the perfect spot for a baby wash. Its small area makes it easy to fill up, theres little room to slip around in there, and sinks are at the perfect height to handle that slippery customer. The one thing to remember is that sinks may see a lot of different hands and faces throughout a busy day, so before bath-time make sure it has been given a thorough clean. Water should be up to around 38 C just above body temperature. If you dont have a thermometer handy you can use your elbow to check the water it should be neither hot nor cold. The water should be about five inches deep, with that water level never higher than your babys waist.


How Do I Wash My Baby?

Be firm but gentle, and use a mild soap and soft flannel or sponge to wash every inch of your baby, not forgetting the groin area and armpits. Pay extra attention to the nappy area, hands, face and hair as these areas are more likely to get mucky than any other part of the body. Use some cotton wool for the little corners around the eyes, nose and ears. Avoid cleaning inside the ear as your babys eardrums are sensitive and we dont want them to get wet. Make sure that when you begin the bath, you already have a soft, fluffy towel at the ready so that once the bath is over, you can gently wrap and pat dry so that your baby is kept nice and warm and that no spots remain damp.

Follow these tips and your child should be as soft as a babys bottom is supposed to be.

At Funky Giraffe, we offer fun, practical, environmentally friendly bandana bibs. Take a look at our baby bibs, clothes and accessories today for gifts, sales and free UK delivery for orders over 7.

Solutions for Dribble Rash

01/11/2016
Until youve had a baby, you cant really imagine the sheer volume of liquids theyll produce. This volume goes up significantly once they begin teething, which can start before four months of age and is often accompanied by a near-constant flow of saliva out of the mouth. The state of their skin and clothing being constantly wet is why so many babies develop whats called dribble or drool rash. The rash can develop over the chin, cheeks, neck and chest and can prompt or worsen an eczema outbreak.

First, youll need a heaping pile of large bibs to keep the little one dry and comfortable. Change bibs frequently so that baby doesnt have something wet on his or her skin all the time. Keeping the skin dry and clean is the first step to keeping the rash in check. To clean, use the absolute mildest, hypoallergenic cleanser you can find (such as a Mustela product). If you have a roly-poly baby, be sure to get in the folds of the neck, where saliva can gather and leave bacteria.

For skin soothers, you have quite a few safe, non-toxic choices:
Weleda makes a calendula cream that provides safe, non-toxic relief.
Aloe vera gel is effective and provides a barrier to keep skin from being wet.
Coconut oil is also suitable for soothing, but it wont provide a barrier so might not be effective against stubborn cases.
Loads of mums have good results with Lansinoh; if youre nursing, you might already have some around the house.
Vaseline is often recommended because it provides a physical barrier, but traces of it could make their way into the mouth, so use it only for the chest.
Cautions: If the rash is resulting in broken skin or has any kind of smell, see your pediatrician as this could be a sign of infection or fungal growth. And if the rash turns into crusty patches, this could be eczema, which might warrant a steroid cream depending on the severity.

Funky Giraffe is a trove of supplies for teething time. Our supersoft bibs and bandanas are perfect for the frequent dryings and affordable enough to keep you in fresh ones for days.

How to Remove Protein Stains

31/10/2016
You are not imagining it: that spot you sponged up on the rug is still there, weeks later. Protein stains caused by breastmilk, formula, and the aftermath of those products (hello, spew!) are the bane of new parents, but especially those of us who love adorable baby clothes and accessories. Its hard to watch such cute things get so abused. As we are in the business of selling adorable items, well share a bit of information and advice about protein stains.

The challenge
Not only are protein stains stubborn, they are also sneaky, sometimes making themselves known after a washing and, because they settle into the fibres, even weeks later in the form of discolouration and yellow splotches on white. Wood floors, carpets, your clothes nothing is safe.
Stain removal tips are great, except that their advice never seems to take into account real life with a baby. When parenting a newborn, its pretty tough to follow the first dictate of stain removal blogs everywhere: act fast. Youre not going to carefully blot that stain up and put some kind of treatment on it, because you have only one free hand, if youre lucky, and the baby needs to be fed again. No, the more likely scenario is that youll change the bib or onesie and toss it in the laundry basket, where it might sit for a few days.

The solutions
A non-toxic product called Bac-Out by Biokleen allows you to actually follow the act fast rule: just give the stained area a quick spray or soak with Bac-Out and then you can leave the item until its next washing. A lot of parents say that pre-treating with Bac-Out and washing with regular gentle detergent is all they need. Its a lifesaver in the nappy bag.

You can also use enzyme-based washing powders, but check the ingredients; cellulase is an enzyme that will break down cotton fibres over time. Common products such as OxiClean (which contains sodium percarbonate and sodium carbonate) and Persil Bio are excellent at stain removal. Skin irritation is rare but possible with these products, so switch to just Bac-Out and a non-biological cleaner if you think your washing powder is causing irritation to your baby.

A few notes: enzyme cleaners do not work at high temperatures, so wash your bibs and bandanas at a medium temperature. Also, baking soda raises the pH of water, so it can counteract the enzymes dont use the two together.

Life with a newborn rarely leaves us with time to be fussy, but if youre burning with a desire to treat some stains, you can blot up the offending spew, rinse through the fabric, and blot on a bit of hydrogen peroxide.

Caring for your little ones teeth

20/10/2016
Caring for your little ones teeth

Tooth development of your baby actually starts when they are still in the womb, around the sixth week of your pregnancy and by the time they are born the crowns of their baby teeth are already finished.

You can normally see their first tooth between six months olds and 8 months old. You can normally tell when they are about to get their first tooth as they will start dribbling a lot and they will be putting their hands in their mouths a lot, wanting to chew things. This is when dribble bibs come in very handy, as do chew toys. Your little one also might enjoy chewing on very cold things so some chew toys can be popped in the freezer which will be soothing on their sore gums.

Oral hygiene for your little one begins at birth. Even though they dont have teeth you can get them used to cleaning their gums with a soft cloth. You can get them in to a routine twice a day when you wash their face and hands; it will be easy to include a gentle rub of their gums too.

As soon as you see a tooth you can start really taking care of their teeth. Dentists suggest that you will want to brush your babys teeth every evening after eating. Make sure you use a baby toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. You will only need to use the smallest smear of toothpaste as your baby wont really understand the concept of brushing and will probably try and chew and suck on the toothbrush.

The easiest way to brush your childs teeth is to sit them on your lap with their head resting against your chest. Brush the teeth in small circles and encourage your child to spit out the toothpaste afterwards. The easiest way for them to learn this is to watch mummy or daddy brushing and spitting. Most little ones love copying you so use this to your advantage!

Make sure you brush your childs teeth until they are at least school age as it is easy for them to miss teeth, especially at the back and you want to make sure that all their teeth are well brushed and clean.

Another way of looking after your childrens teeth is limiting the amount of sugar they have. Avoid sugary drinks. Babies will only need milk and water.

When your child is a little older make sure they dont have sugary drinks like juice in a sippy cup or bottle as this can increase tooth decay and if you choose to give your child juice make sure it is at mealtimes so the saliva they produce while eating will help kill off the harmful sugars.

Hopefully these healthy teeth protecting tips will ensure they not only have healthy milk teeth but they will have habits that will keep their adult teeth healthy and shiny too!

How to make the First Christmas with your little one extra special.

12/10/2016
We love Christmas in our house, my children all want to put up the tree in mid-October as they are all so excited but you only get one first Christmas with your first baby so how do you make it extra special?

Here are some tips:

Ask for help. This is really important as you are likely to still be tired and getting used to not sleeping through the night and coping with the demands of a tiny person. You will likely find that parents and in laws would be delighted to be asked as they can spend some time with the newest member of the family. If they cant help, rely on your other-half or friends to help you. Delegate certain tasks like the fetching of the tree and basting the turkey.

Decide on what traditions you want to start for your little one. All my children have a Christmas Eve box which they get to open the night before Christmas. Inside are new pyjamas, a Christmas book and hot chocolate with marshmallows. It is lovely to all be cozy reading the night before Christmas before everyone gets up in the morning.

Try to include some routine in the day for a newborn. Even though its a special day your baby wont really notice that its Christmas and will likely be more fractious if their routine is disturbed so make sure they are still fed and go down for naps at their usual time. This will make them more likely to be happy and alert for the rest of the day so you can enjoy them.

Take lots of pictures. Even though your little one wont remember their first Christmas it is a beautiful experience you will never want to forget so be snap happy! Little ones often delight in wrapping paper so you will have some great photo opportunities with them sat in the middle of presents or if they are even smaller lay them beside the Christmas tree so they can look at the lights and that also makes for a great shot.

Remember to dress them festively! Funky Giraffe has some fantastic Christmas bibs which look totally adorable on boys and girls. They can all be found here: http://funkygiraffebibs.co.uk/bibs.html
Funky Giraffe bandanas also make great Christmas presents for new babies too and if youre stuck for ideas remember you can always get a gift card.

The most important thing to remember is not to get stressed over having the perfect Christmas. Enjoy time with your perfect new baby and make memories that will last a lifetime.

How Early Should We Introduce A Second Language?

26/09/2016
A recent study from the International School of Advanced Studies has found that babies pay significantly more attention to speakers that share his or her mother tongue than those who dont.

In the study researchers familiarised 12-month-olds via video with actors that spoke different languages. After toddlers were given enough time to identify who they shared a common tongue with, another video would be played which simply showed each actor gazing at an object. What researchers found was that despite the actors remaining silent, these children gazed for much longer periods of time at the person who spoke the language that was familiar to them. An identical prior experiment with five-month-olds yielded similar results.

Researchers infer that such favouritism comes down to optimising stimuli input. Since newborns are constantly in the process of categorising their brand-new world, they need to find ways to attach value to their surroundings. The trust of someone who speaks the same language Mum does is one of the ways that infants assign value.

We can use these findings to amend the way we choose to integrate a second language into the lives of our children. If language is used to assess the importance of information at such an early period, parents need to reconsider at what point they choose to introduce a new language to toddlers.

Judging from this research parents may want to start integrating a second language into the lives of their children at an even earlier age. Considering your children dont understand the nuances of their mother tongue, parents dont need to be fluent in order to talk to your baby in a different language. This early integration should motivate you to learn the basics of the intended language or apply what you already know to help indicate that your mother tongue and second language are just as important as each other.

Establishing value in another language will incentivise your baby to value the videos, books and people they encounter that speak this language.

At Funky Giraffe we design and manufacture bandana bibs, personalised bibs and other great baby accessories! Browse our range of goodies today and see what catches your eye look out for sales, gifts and free UK delivery for orders over 7.

Reading Your Child’s Non-Verbal Cues

16/09/2016
Actions speak louder than words. When applied to toddlers this phrase carries more weight than ever. Your toddler will have about a twenty-word vocabulary by 18 months. But before this youll have to rely on all kinds of babbling and non-verbal cues to discern the needs of your child. Having not spoken babble in some time, we as parents must be pretty perceptive when reading our childrens non-verbal communication.

For example, a pointing gesture may come in the form of a mere hand raise or quick flick; pouty lips and frowns may indicate overstimulation; and it could be time to put that baby bib in place if your baby starts sucking their fist a strong indication that theyre hungry.

The following are some of the most common and universal expressions a child can make.

Averting Eye-Contact
Gaze aversion is one of the easier expressions to understand. Lets recall our own experiences to figure this one out. When was the last time you felt ashamed, embarrassed, uncomfortable, or overstimulated in a conversation? If youre as human as I am, you probably sought relief by breaking eye contact for a brief period of time. If your child refuses to look at you it means theyve had enough. Maybe youre trying to feed them and they give you the cheek, or youre trying to play peek-a-boo and suddenly your childs giggles disappear and they couldnt care less. When such situations arise just lay off a bit. Realise that your child might want some me time to examine his or her toes.

Mimicry
We tend to mimic those that we aspire to be or have a great deal of respect for. Youll find yourself at times shadowing the gestures of the most magnetic person at a dinner party or your partner when youre feeling especially affectionate. As the focus of your childs universe, youll be who they look to in order to understand the world. If youre anxious in a group, your child will adopt your response be considerate this if youve noticed that they arent being as social as you might hope. If you see your child reacting in negative ways to certain stimuli perhaps certain foods or smells, or music or places work on being conscious of what kind of messages youre sending with your expressions.

Face Rubbing
You may be a bit confused when you see your baby rubbing and prodding their face. While its possible they are simply trying to scratch something, its just as likely that theyre indicating that theyre sleepy or fatigued. Children will slowly come to use their eyes to express any tiredness or other feelings. Until then be aware that most face stroking will deal with sleepiness, although we should be mindful of a possible ear infection or a rash being the cause of an apparent infatuation with the face.

Dont be too hard on yourself if you dont turn out to be the baby whisperer you aspire to be. If you dont quite understand what all those ticks and squints mean, you can take solace in knowing that while weve been trying to decipher the secret baby code for generations, nobodys quite cracked it yet.

Funky Giraffe are designers and manufacturers of stylish, environmentally friendly bandana bibs. Browse our baby clothes and accessories today for sales, gifts and free UK delivery for orders over 7.

Great autumn meal ideas for your family

12/09/2016
I love Autumn cooking, I love all the squash and pumpkin recipes and warming soups and stews that we can start to cook again once the weather starts getting cooler. I thought I would list some of my favourite foods that I cook for my little ones and that are brilliant for baby led weaning as well.

Roast butternut squash soup.

Butternut squash is a favourite with children as it has a sweet taste to it and this soup is scrumptious and it can be easily frozen which is great for busier days when you dont have time to cook.

1 butternut squash
1 sweet potato
1 onion
1 chicken stock cube (can be substituted for vegetable)
2 cloves of garlic
2 desert spoons of paprika

Peel the squash and the sweet potato and pop them in a roasting tin with a little salt and pepper and then roast for half an hour on a high heat until they are soft.
Chop the onion and garlic and lightly saut in a pan until pale. Add the roasted veg, paprika and stock cube and then pop water in to cover. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes. Once everything is soft, blend until smooth.
This is such a simple dish but it is healthy and delicious and the perfect meal to come back to after a walk in the fallen leaves. For baby led weaning cut up some soft bread and dip it into the cool soup and let them enjoy. They will be orange by the end of the meal so make sure they are wearing a messy apron from Funky Giraffe!


Celeriac mash.

Celeriac has got to be the ugliest vegetable but it is wonderfully good for you as it is a good source of fibre, and nutrients such as B vitamins and magnesium, and also very tasty! I love topping cottage pie with celeriac mash as it adds another depth of flavour but its also good on its own.

To cook just peel and boil with a little salt and you can mix it with potato for a more filling meal if you wanted. For a great comfort food its lovely sprinkled with grated cheese and a meal your little ones will love!


Apples.

Tis definitely the season for apples and in the UK we have such a fantastic variety of them and there are so many ways to enjoy them. One of my family favourites is apple and cinnamon porridge for breakfast. This is a great start to the day as it keeps you full and is also another way of sneaking another 5 a day in to your little ones diet.
You can prepare the apples in advance and keep in a sealed container in the fridge.

6 large apples (coxs are perfect for this)
Spoonful of cinnamon

Peel and chop the apples and pop them in a saucepan. Put enough water in to cover the bottom of the pan but not too much to cover the apple. You want them about half covered with water. Bring to the boil and then simmer, stirring regularly to make sure they dont burn. If they start sticking then add a little more water. Cook until soft and mush and then add the cinnamon.
Add this to porridge, pancakes or just let your kids eat it with a spoon. You wont need to add any sugar to it as the apples are already sweet.

I would love to hear some of your favourite autumn recipes, feel free to comment on our Facebook wall or send me an email!

Why and how should I keep a baby bump diary?

05/09/2016
Writing a pregnancy diary can be extremely rewarding. You have something to look back on and something to share with your child which can be a magical gift for them but it is also practical too.

During pregnancy your body will change dramatically and it can be a bit worrying if you are not expecting certain things so keeping a diary can be quite reassuring as you will have a comprehensive account of what is happening that you can talk to your doctor about or ask advice from other mums. It is also very helpful if you have a second baby as you will be able to compare the two.

Women tend to remember very few pleasing details of their pregnancy, although there might be some aspects, which you had wished would get over, soon there are other aspects which you can cherish for several years to come. You might remember the traumas you went through during the pregnancy which includes heartburn, endless nausea and much more. But jotting down those precious feelings while you felt a life build inside you is second to none.

How do you get started?

Firstly set aside 15 minutes to half an hour every day and decide where you would like to write. Get yourself a book and a nice pen or if you prefer write on your computer or laptop. Make yourself a drink, turn your phone on silent and settle down for some time to yourself. This might be difficult if you have other children but make sure you have told your partner about this so they can help you out.

Dont plan what to write just start with the date and go from there. You can document your feelings, your worries, any pregnancy symptoms you are experiencing the good and the bad! You can also write about your plans, make to do lists and jot ideas down about the future, you could even write little messages to your child for them to read in the future. Something I did was record some of my dreams. I had a lot of anxiety dreams in my first pregnancy, and jotting these down helped keep them at bay and calm down my fears.

You can include such things as cravings you might be having, foods that you can no longer bear the smell of or even what you are enjoying reading or watching currently. All these will be a lovely thing to look back on for both you and your child.
Try writing for 10 minutes without stopping. If you run out of things to write about dont worry, there will be other things on other days and this doesnt need to be an epic tale of Tolstoy proportions!
Many of us mums experienced baby brain and it certainly made me very forgetful so having this diary was brilliant when I had my check-ups as I could document all the sill nagging questions I had and the midwives and doctors patiently answered them and then later I could write down what they had said (if I remembered that is!)

You could also use your diary as a scrap book too, keeping a record of pictures you took throughout your pregnancy of your growing belly. Maybe you took a babymoon and have tickets of things you did before another family member joined you. You could even get members of your family to write little notes about how they are feeling and then add that to your memories.

Remember every chapter of life brings changes into your life and in you. Pregnancy is a huge stage of your life, which not only changes you physically but mentally too. Thats why it deserves to be recorded at every stage. Its a safeguarded journey that you and your unborn baby embark on which makes it even more exciting to record.

How to help if you think your child is being bullied.

30/08/2016
This is something all parents worry about and bullying can take so many forms it is so hard to spot and even harder to stop.

Recently my cousin noticed a Facebook page that was bullying her 12 year old son, fortunately she got the page removed but it did make me question, how would I know if my child was being bullied, are there signs to look out for and what do I do if I spot it?

So firstly what are the signs to look out for if my child is being bullied?

Has your child suddenly started becoming worried about going to school? Have they asked to stay at home, have they pretended to be ill? This might be one of the first signs as they are not enjoying school and want to avoid it. Also check on how well your child is doing at school, sometimes bullying can cause a child to start performing badly, especially where previously they had been doing well.

Has your childs behaviour changed? Have they started being grumpier or even aggressive? Children can occasionally copy a bullys behaviour and act out towards younger siblings or even pets.

Has your child become withdrawn? Often, happy children will come home from school and want to talk about their day, especially younger children. If your child is being bullied, they may shy away from you and any conversation about school and friends.
Obviously these behaviours dont necessarily mean your child is being bullied but they are signs that something might not be quite right and you can try and talk to them to see if you can help.

If you find out your child is being bullied it is very easy to be very angry. I know when my own little boy was being called names in the playground I wanted to go right down there and confront the other child and the parents and I was even tempted to call the police I was so upset! Fortunately I calmed myself down and had a quick google about the best thing to do! Where would I be without the internet and the advice from netmums!?!

Listen to your child. Ask them questions about what happened, and listen to their answers without interrupting. You need to be a safe space for your child to be able to vent their feelings. Ask your child what they would like you to do about it. You might not feel that their answer to this is the best way forward but it is important for them to feel that they have a say and they are somewhat in control. After all, bullying is all about taking their control away so you want them to feel empowered.
Reassure the child that this is not their fault. Remind them that bullying happens to lots of children and even adults too and encourage your child to try to appear confident - even if they dont feel it.


Sometimes people say nasty things because they want a certain reaction or to cause upset, so if your child gives them the impression theyre not bothered, the bullies are more likely to stop. Role-play bullying scenarios and practice your childs responses. Talk about how our voices, bodies and faces send messages just the same way our words do.

If you can try and find out what happened before and after the bullying. Sometimes, especially in the case of younger children there is more to the story than first appears. When my little boy came home in tears because another child had called him a poo head, I was ready to do battle but when I gently asked more questions I learnt that my little angel had actually pushed the little boy out of the sand pit and stolen his tractor! Hmm, cue massive parental guilt about having dreadfully behaved child!

After talking and trying to get my son to empathise with the little boy he was able to explain to me why what he did was wrong and how sad the little boy must have felt which is why he called him names. We decided to go together and talk to him and my son said he was sorry and now they seem to be best friends again so alls well.

Obviously this is a happy story and for many children this isnt the case and they really do suffer at the hands of bullies.

If you think the matter needs addressing more seriously dont be afraid to make an appointment to talk to the childs teacher or even the head. All schools have to by law have a bullying policy so ask to see it and approach the school with the aim of working with them to sort it out.

Check out my previous blog about what to do if you think your child might be a bully and remember parenting is hard work so take it easy and be kind to yourself.

Good luck with back to school week!!

How to stop your child from becoming a bully

23/08/2016
Recently my cousin posted on Facebook, an appeal to report a page that was bullying her 12 year old son. This page was made up of 11 and 12 year olds who seem to have nothing better to do than leave malicious slander that was hurting not only my cousins son but also other youngsters in his school.

We all hate bullies and desperately want to protect our children from being hurt by other children but what do we do to actually prevent our children from doing the bullying? I thought I would do some research in to this as the younger you start training children the better so I wanted to learn how to teach my kids to be empathic on the playground.

Understanding why kids bully. Obviously all children are different and will bully for different reasons but often there is insecurity or a feeling of not being in control which kids have so they try and control someone else by being mean. This can take the form of name calling, leaving someone out or even being physically abusive. Picking on someone else provides them with a feeling of importance or might make them feel popular.

Sometimes kids have no idea that it isnt acceptable to pick one someone because they are different so they need to be taught and some kids might see aggressive or unkind interactions at home and copy that behaviour while they are in school so it is important to try and set good examples for your children as they learn from us. Very young children may not understand what they are doing hurts others so they need to be gently told so they fully comprehend it.

Setting a good example at home is paramount. I try and let my children see me and my husband as much as possible help other people. This can be as small as buying a coffee for a homeless person, encouraging my children to put money in a street entertainers hat, offering to help one another with household tasks etc. We also are careful with what we say. It can be very easy when someone has annoyed you and you want to vent to your other half to come out with phrases like that mother in the playground was an absolute cow! and I know I am guilt of slagging off people as much as the next person, but I have tried to curtail it when my children are around as I dont want them picking up on either my speech or that I think it is okay to be rude about other people. Obviously I want my children to talk to me so I try and encourage them to be constructive. For example if my son had someone who snatched a toy away I will want him to tell me about it, how it made him feel and why it might of happened. Maybe the other boy didnt realise how much my son wanted it and how to handle it next time it happens.

Something I have recently done with my Beaver Scout group is given them all a piece of paper and told them to scrunch it up as hard as possible. Then I asked them to try and smooth it out and asked them if it looked like it did when I gave it to them. They all said no, they couldnt get it smooth again. I used this to try and explain the effects of bullying. Sometimes even after a bully has stopped there are scars that wont go away when someone is that upset.

According to research, most children who bully have been bullied themselves so look out for signs of bullying and try and use their previous experience to explain how frightening it is to be bullied. Watch out for my next blog where I will share some tips about what to do if your child is being bullied.

Preparing for the first day of School

16/08/2016
I remember getting really quite sad in the middle of the summer holidays as a child when I saw all the hundreds of back to school signs everywhere. Of course now I have children I view them differently, a little sad as I will miss my munchkins, a little relieved as I will have some time to myself again and quite a lot worried as, as usual, I have got nothing prepared!

This year my eldest will be going in to year 1 and my second will be starting preschool and going three mornings a week. My eldest is excited to be going back but number 2 is a little more concerned so we are planning on making the whole thing as gentle and fun as possible.

I needed firstly to prepare myself! Watching your children grow up is wonderful but its also tinged with sadness as you know that they are not going to remain little forever and will carry on growing up, making big changes and gradually become independent from you. All this is wonderful of course and there are some days I cant wait for them all to be out of the house but it is a mixed bag of emotions being a parent!

Obviously we know the school when but before our eldest stared there we visited the school a few times with them. We met their teacher, looked around the classroom and made sure he was familiar with the places he would hang his coat, eat his lunch etc. This was really important as he would be able to know what to do straight away and feel more comfortable. He loved his classroom right away and I could see he felt very grown up having his own peg where he would hang his coat and bag.

It helped me to see how excited he was as I knew that he would enjoy himself and have fun so I neednt worry too much. I was going to miss him, more than he missed me!

Something I always recommend is using stories as a teaching aid. In the summer before he started school we bought several books about first days at school. Books we read a lot were First Day Jitters by Julie Danneburg, First Day by Andrew Daddo and Jonathan Bentley and Come to School Too, Blue Kangaroo! by Emma Chichester Clark. Just as a side note we love love love the blue kangaroo books in our house! By reading these books we had something to fall back on so whenever he was feeling a bit nervous I could ask do you have the jitters? and this would make us both giggle as we remember the story. I think it is always nice to feel that you are not alone in first day nerves so if you know some of your favourite characters in books also feel like you do then it gives you that security.

Lastly we went on a special shopping trip just for him and this will be something I will be doing with number 2 as well. I made the whole shop about him, we didnt go in to any mummy shops and we bought his new uniform, a new bag and all the bits and pieces you need for school including a lunch box, stationary, shoes and a coat. He loved doing this and loved his lunch box so much he even took it to bed with him that night! This was a great way to prepare because we were able to talk a lot about what he would be doing at school.

After the uniform was bought I was able to sew his name in to everything (yes everything) I even wrote his name in his shoes in pen, I also drew half a smiley face in both shoes so he knew which foot each shoe goes on. This was not only for my benefit as I would rather not replace things but also having his name in everything gave him that bit of confidence that he would always know which coat and which jumper was his.

Obviously there is only so much you can do and even the best prepared mums and dads can still have jitters on the day but be confident, smile lots and plan to have their favourite meal that night so you can all talk about their exciting first day at school!

Theodora Children's Charity

09/08/2016
I want to let you know about a fantastic charity we have been in contact with at Funky Giraffe and you will see quite a bit in the future on our Facebook pages.

I first met a Giggle Doctor at one of the London Baby shows and I was struck by how warm and funny these kind hearted people are. They are dressed in white coats but with a difference! Festooned with funny items, multi coloured hats, stickers, bow ties, odd socks and general bling these doctors cant be missed!



These fantastic giggle doctors are named things like Dr Tickle, Dr I Spy and Dr Bananas and they are made up of magicians, actors, entertainers and musicians. They have a fantastic medicine that they administer, the medicine of laughter!

I am grateful that so far my children have never have long stints in hospital but I know from when they have been in briefly that it can look a scary place, even the childrens wards because it is unfamiliar. When my children have had their vaccinations they have screamed and cried and become even more scared of doctors so my heart really does ache for the parents and children who are in hospital regularly for scary and painful procedures. This is where the giggle doctors come in. The dont take away the pain but they do offer a brilliant distraction by playing games, telling jokes, doing magic tricks and just being tirelessly funny and happy. They can play peekaboo for hours with tiny babies, they can produce an array of funny things from their pockets and some of them might even steal your nose!

This is what one parent wrote about their experience with a giggle doctor

We first met the Giggle Doctors about 2 weeks after my six year old daughter was diagnosed with cancer. Up to that point she cried every time someone in a uniform came near her. When the Giggle Doctors arrived all we heard was laughter and lots and lots of smiles and this has continued ever since! For this I will always be grateful to you. Keep up your good work!

The Giggle doctors are highly trained as they have to be very aware of topics such as child development, infection control, child bereavement and the impact of illness and bereavement on families. They are also trained in Intensive Interaction which is a practical approach to working with people with very severe learning difficulties, helping them to relate and communicate better with the people around them.

And they dont just make the children in hospital happier, they are aware that when you have a sick child the whole family suffers so they will include any other children in their fun and games too and this has given so many parents some relief just to watch their children be children and be silly and giggle.

Obviously all this costs money so we are very happy that we have the chance to help this charity that works so hard to put smiles on childrens faces. Just 10 will fund a visit from a giggle doctor to a child in hospital.

You can find more information about the trust here: http://uk.theodora.org/en-gb

The Importance of Parents and Language Learning.

08/08/2016
As a woman whenever a baby is handed to me I go all gooey inside and start cooing and my voice has a sing song sound to it. I cant help it, it is something I do instinctively. It is also something I have noticed many other women do also, that as well as the uncontrollable baby sway! Worryingly I found myself swaying with a basket of laundry the other day, I must be getting broody!
Interestingly the language a mother instinctively uses with her baby is called Motherese.


New research has been done regarding motherese and we have found out that using these types of changes in our pitch and rhythm when we talk to our children helps children identify where words begin and end, and provides them with the clues needed to help them develop their own language skills. Its not just mothers of course that can coo at babies, dads can do it too as well as aunts, uncles and grandparents! The most important thing is your child is talked to.

A cool study you can do at home, even with tiny babies, is to lie them on your lap with them looking up at you. Start a conversation about anything but make sure they know that you are talking to them. Maybe you could ask them a question such as hello beautiful baby, how are you feeling today? Then pause and wait for them to respond. Even tiny babies will make some response as they know that they are engaging in a conversation with you. They might gurgle or smile or simply just wriggle but that is their way currently of engaging with you. You can then respond to them and this way you are actually conversing with your baby and they absolutely love it!

Have you noticed how dads talk to babies? Often if a mother uses a lot of the vital motherese style of chatting to their baby their father will use a lot more grown up language as if they are talking to another adult. This is just as important as the use of baby talk to an infant and a child as studies have shown it provides the bridge from baby babble to coherent sentence structure. Babies and young children can actually compare the two types of speech used when their parents are talking to them and apply them to real world conversations. So it doesnt matter if a dad is talking about car mechanics or their local football match, a child will love to listen and pick up on the excitement in their dads voice.

Babies in particular love listening to their parents voices and this is a great excuse to read to your baby. You dont even have to read baby books, I have read Harry Potter to my tiny baby and she seems to enjoy it just as much as Spot goes on holiday! They will not understand what you are reading but they enjoy spending time with you and hearing you read is a great way to encourage an early love of books and a grasp of language.

In a fascinating study conducted by Harvard University, we found out that parents even read differently and both these styles impact children positively. When mothers read to their children they often focus on characters feelings. For example when reading about Spot on holiday we might say do you think he is feeling excited or a bit scared, or poor Spot has lost his luggage and that must make him sad etc. This is a fantastic opportunity for your children to really learn to empathise with others. Of course this can be used as learning lessons later on too. When faced with similar trials to those in books, I have often used do you remember how Spot felt or something similar. This is why books about having a new baby brother or sister are so popular and books about learning to use the potty work so well. Children love to empathise with characters in books and by doing so they will become kinder and more considerate adults in the future.

Fathers, when they read to their children will focus on more of the real world objects. For example a dad might be reading the same story and he will say look there is a plane in this picture, can you see the wings and the propellers? Is it like your toy plane? Children find this more cognitively challenging so it is brilliant for exercising their brains and increasing their language abilities.

What to do on rainy days during the summer holidays?

02/08/2016
What disappointing weather we are having currently. If you are like me you will have been scouring the weather pages trying to find a decent forecast but this week I have had no luck, they all say rain and sadly they have been right!
So I have had to ditch the garden plans and pop the paddling pool back in the shed and come up with other ideas to tire out my kids who are starting to whinge with the inevitable cries of Im bored Mummy!

Here are some things we have been doing and plan to this week.

Bake. This kills 2 birds with 1 stone as the kids enjoy it and we have ready made lunch or dinner. Yesterday we all made pizzas which is much easier than you might think. Pizza dough can be bought or made but you can also buy the bases too which takes a lot of the hassle out of the preparation. I then fill up bowls of tomato puree, sweet corn, cheese, pineapple, ham, onion, peppers, halved olives and anything else I can find that might go on a pizza and let the kids decorate their own. This works brilliantly as it will keep them entertained and they are far more likely to eat things that they have made themselves. They love making smiley faces with bits of pepper and olive eyes and then cackle with delight when they take a bite of their pizza monsters! We have also had fun making and decorating fairy cakes. Remember if you are worried about mess you can buy the fabulous long sleeved aprons from Funky Giraffe!

Make playdough. Actually because I have a six year old boy I decided to completely make his day and make Poo Dough instead! Dont worry, its not as gross as it sounds! You follow the instructions to make normal salty play dough but take out a cup of flour and add in a cup of cocoa. This makes the play dough smell amazing, so watch out younger children dont taste it, although if they do its not harmful and very salty so they will soon spit it out! The cocoa in the play dough turns the dough a rich brown colour so it looks like, yes you guessed it, POO!! Children will love it and you can also have fun learning about animal tracks this way too as they can make up different types of poo. We have made rabbit poo, cow poo and dog poo. Just be sure they know not to touch the real stuff when you are out and about!

Go outside anyway. As the scouts say, there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad preparation. Make sure your little ones are well protected with waterproof coats and willies and go and find some puddles to jump in. The good thing about rain in the summer is it still relatively warm so an hour jumping in muddles and getting wet and muddy doesnt make the kids cold and it does let them blow off steam.

Hold an indoor treasure hunt. This is good to set up after the kids have gone to sleep. I bought some brightly coloured pegs and numbered them 1 to 10 although you can have as many or as few as you like. I then hid them all over the house. Once the children had had breakfast I told them to find all the pegs and once they had done it there was a surprise for them all. This turned out to be a brilliant idea as they all helped each other to find the more difficult ones and it kept them busy for almost 2 hours which gave me time to work without too many interruptions. Just dont expect your house to be tidy after small children and rampaged around it trying to find small wooden pegs!

I would love to hear your ideas for rainy day activities, feel free to let me know on our Facebook page.

Getting and keeping your children asleep in a hot bedroom

25/07/2016
Dont get me wrong, I love the hot weather. I love the children playing with a sprinkler in the garden for hours and I love sunny picnics in the park.

What I am less a fan of is hot nights and bedrooms that feel like ovens. My kids are hot and sticky and dont drop off easily and then wake up too warm to go back to sleep.
Here are some useful tips I have found to cool down a room and help your child get their necessary shut-eye.

A safe room temperature of between 16-20C (60.8-68F) is recommended for your baby. 18C (65F) is just right.

Whatever the weather, the rule is the same says midwife, Anne Richley, put your baby to sleep on her back and be careful not to let her become overheated.
My general rule of thumb is put the baby in the same layers as whatever I am comfortable in, plus one thin layer. Lately I have been sleeping in thin cotton shorts and a cotton t shirt so my littlest one is in her cotton baby grow with a light sheet over her.

Try and keep the room cool during the day by keeping the windows open and the curtains shut as this will block out the sun. Another great tip is to put a bowl of ice in front of a fan. The ice will cool the air around it and the fan will blow the cool air around the room.

Also open two windows on different sides of your house as this will create a breeze and cool down the rooms.

Avoid plastic mattress toppers. I know they are fantastic at protecting mattresses from accidents during the night but these will only make your children hotter and sweatier.

Sometimes if it has been very hot during the day and the children are still too warm for bed then a very quick lukewarm bath or shower works wonders. I make sure to keep it very quick as I dont want them to get cold but it quickly lowers their temperature and they feel more ready for pjs and bed.

Make sure they are well hydrated during the day. I try not to give my kids too much to drink just before bed but during hot weather it is even more vital they get plenty of fluids so I have bottles of water in the fridge so they have easy access to cold water. I also use a few tricks to encourage my children to drink plenty. A bottle of frozen water is great fun and very refreshing to drink and also they can keep it out with them in the garden and it stays cool. They also love bendy straws and often will quickly drink a cup of water through a straw more happily than they would without! Making sure they have plenty to drink during the day means they are well hydrated before bed and hopefully wont need the toilet too much during the night after drinking lots at bedtime!

Remember to enjoy the hot weather with your children and make the most of the sunshine!

How to keep your children entertained in the summer holidays.

18/07/2016
Well its that time of year again, six weeks of no school; no extra after school clubs and even Beaver Scouts has finished until September too!

I decided as this is my year of being more organised that I would have a bit of a plan in place for keeping my kids entertained so here are some of my ideas.

Throughout the year I have been collecting things for the art trunk. This is just a big box that I snuck some things in that the kids havent seen. There are even some Christmas presents in this box that were given to us by relatives that I have stored for when I hear the inevitable cries of Im bored Mummy!. This box is great for rainy days when you would rather your kids were not mindlessly sitting in front of the television but you really dont have time to entertain them. It includes kits from Hobby Craft such as a make your own stained glass window and paint you own pirate treasure box. These kits are easy to use and you can often pick them up in sales too. Also in the trunk are colouring books, new paints and colouring pencils and also a shoe box full of material like felt, cardboard, pipe cleaners and sparkly fluff in case anyone wants to become the next Picasso and go a bit abstract in their arty creations!

When the weather is nice I try and encourage the kids to be out in the sunshine as much as possible. We have a few family walks that the kids love as it involves a very muddy stream where they can dam build which has always been a favourite pastime in our family. However as I work from home I cannot always take the time to take the kids out so sometimes they just have to entertain themselves. At the end of the garden we have a patch of mud which at one point I thought of turning in to a sand pit but I think my kids prefer the mud! I have watched my kids make mud pies, mud soup and mud castles, which are fantastic and letting them free play like this really exercises their minds and imaginations.

Books! Although books might not be the first thing your child gravitates to when they are bored they are a great distraction and also really improves their literacy. If your kid has a library card, you can make books quite exciting for them as they can choose their own new books each week. A tent or special reading place for them works really well too. Pop up a tent or den in your sitting room or garden, fill it with tantalising tales of The Big Friendly Giant, Harry Potter, The Magic Faraway Tree or Olga da Polga and it will give your older children a fantastic place to escape to. And you can pop in occasionally with drinks and snacks too!

Starting a project. This is a great idea as you can put it down and pick it back up throughout the holidays. Last year we built a scrap book of the holiday as it not only earned my eldest his collector Beaver Scout badge, he could also take it in to show and tell in September. We collected lots of tickets, pictures and leaflets from our family holiday and when we got home they were able to stick it all in along with a load of other stickers I had bought and this provided them with a fun thing to do and also a memory book which they can keep. I also bought star stickers so they had great fun rating the holiday activities and this was much more entertaining than writing anything down!

Dont be afraid of letting your children be bored for a little while. Necessity is the mother of great invention so sometimes your children will invent the best games when they have nothing else to do so let them explore their own capabilities sometimes and run wild, just make sure you check up on them if it all goes very quiet!

Expecting baby number 2? How do you tell your toddler about it?

12/07/2016
My eldest was 2 when we found out we were having another. Of course we were very excited as although we hadnt exactly planned on baby number 2 quite yet, we did want another one.

My toddler however was in the phase of believing that the whole world revolves around them and I was worried about how he was going to share the limelight with a new baby.

I wanted my boy to learn about the baby from us so I made sure he was one of the first to know. He was vaguely aware of babies in tummies as he had seen friends of mine heavily pregnant. I think he had a vague notion that these tummies were popped and a baby exploded out! I was very conscious that no two year old can keep secrets so I didnt tell him or many other people until after 12 weeks, by this point I was showing so people were starting to guess!

I tried not to make a big deal of it when we told him, we made sure it was a calm and peaceful environment and we had just read a couple of stories featuring new babies. These books were great, Topsy and Tim, The New Baby and also little one loved Theres a House Inside my Mummy. We do a lot of reading and I have always enjoyed using books as a learning tool to explain new things like using the potty.

After he and everyone else knew we were expecting baby number 2 we could start planning and preparing. We reused a lot of our things from our eldest but we did need a few things so when we did a shopping trip we also got our eldest a present and let him choose a present for the baby. We did have to persuade him that the new baby was unlikely to play with the sort of toys he wanted to choose!

I was careful not to blame my morning sickness or tiredness on the baby as I didnt want toddler to blame their new sibling for mummy not being as playful as usual. I also asked a few of my friends with newborns if we could spend a bit of time so my eldest could understand what we would be having in our house. That backfired slightly as when my toddler was peering in to the wrapped up new bundle that was my friends beautiful new baby, I asked do you like her? Of course the answer was a resounding No! But that could be because it is his favourite word!
Expecting baby number 2? How do you tell your toddler about it?

One of the things that was most successful was showing my toddler lots of pictures and videos of them when they were a baby. It is important that they know that your love isnt going to be split between them and their new baby brother or sister.
Most important of all, dont get stressed about it. Your toddler will feed off your emotions so if you treat this as a big deal then so will they. Of course they will love their baby brother or sister. Involve them as much as possible as they are extra special now, they are a big brother!

How to make seed bombs and make gardening fun!

04/07/2016
July is here and the holidays will be here before we know it.

I love to be outside as much as possible with my children in the summer and gardening is a great way of entertaining the children and even getting a bit of work done although quite often the garden looks a lot less tidy after the children have helped!

We dont have a massive garden so we have been careful in what we have planted leaving as much space as possible for the kids to have space to run around. The front garden is full of flowers that bees like and I have even managed to get a little herb garden going in a raised bed which the children love as all the herbs have such fantastic smells. One of my little ones favourite jobs is going out to pick fresh mint for mint sauce.

I try and encourage the kids to be as involved in looking after the planet as possible and I came across this great idea of making seed bombs. Seed bombs are little balls that hold together well and contain a mixture of wild flower seeds.

Here is my recipe:

2 parts potting soil
5 parts pottery clay mix from your local art store (HobbyCraft sells it)
1-2 parts water
1-2 parts seeds of your choice (I just went for a wild flower mix)
Large tub to mix ingredients
Box to dry and store seed balls

We mixed all the soil and clay and water together until there were no lumps, we got roughly the consistency of plasticine, and then we added the seeds and kept mixing. If its a bit dry and crumbly you can add more water. Separate the mixture and roll in to small balls and then let them dry in a cardboard box for 24 hours.

Once the bombs are dry you can throw them anywhere you think needs wild flowers. Hedgerows down country lanes, any unmaintained areas in your town that could do with brightening up, roundabouts or quite literally anywhere! The kids loved their guerrilla gardening and we are now looking out for foxgloves and forget-me-nots to be springing up all over the place!

Tips for taking your baby on a plane

27/06/2016
The summer holidays are almost upon us and many families cannot wait for their long awaited family holiday somewhere hot!
We love our family holidays although sometimes the journey has been so stressful I feel like I need an extra week of holiday just to recover!

Here are some of my top tips for flying with a baby.

While your little one is under 6 months old, request a basinet. These are an absolute life saver as it means your infant can sleep flat. Remember to check the requirements before you fly though to make sure you get the right size. Also some airlines request that you remove the baby from the bassinet if you experience any turbulence in flight.

Make sure your baby has familiar things to take with them to help them sleep. This can be their favourite toy or blanket they sleep with as well as familiar pyjamas.

Try and keep a routine going. If you can, try and fly at night so your little one is ready for bed. Follow your usual bed time routine of face washing, teeth brushing and story or song if you can as this will make your baby feel comfortable and more ready for bedtime.

Remember snacks and milk. The cabin crew are normally very happy to warm up baby bottles for you and your little one will probably get thirstier in a dry cabin so making sure they have plenty to drink is important and will also help them sleep better.

When you have a toddler with you, make sure they have extra blankets and a comfy pillow so they can snuggle up and go to sleep too.

Some airlines say that they carry nappies and wipes but in my experience it is always better to carry your own. Your child will more comfortable in a brand they already know and you will have the correct size. Always take a multitude of wipes as they are not only useful for nappy changes but also messy hands and faces and also useful for wiping down the tables and changing areas.

If you are taking older children make sure you pack things to keep them entertained. Tablets are brilliant as they can watch their favourite films or play games which will keep them happy and quiet and allow you some chill out time. Colouring and sticker books are great for smaller children if they need something to do.

As well as packing familiar toys for a baby or toddler, I tend to pack a new surprise toy as well and give it to them during take-off or just before as this works as a great distraction!

Aeroplanes are one of the easiest places for your children to catch other peoples colds too, so being extra scrupulous about hygiene is a must. Pack a small bottle of anti-bacterial gel and make sure your children and you wash hands before eating.

You may find the low hum of the plane settles your baby quickly and they drift off to sleep. If they are anxious try playing a few games like peekaboo or pat a cake. You could look at a flight as a long uninterrupted gaming session with your baby, well as long as you dont have older children also clamouring for your attention!

Remember not to stress out if your baby is crying. People tend to be a lot more understanding than you might think and remember to ask for help if you need it! This is the start of your holiday, enjoy it!

How to Introduce your Baby to your Cat

21/06/2016
Introducing your cat to your baby

Before our first born arrived out cat was our baby and Im not embarrassed to admit it. We realised when we moved from our rented flat to our new house that our cat actually had more furniture than we did! Our little fur baby kept me company all day and although not the cuddliest of cats he was always up for play time and he knew he was the boss!

I was really worried when I was pregnant that he would soon fell left out and resent the baby so I Googled madly and followed these steps.

As soon as I knew I was pregnant I started preparing little things. I bought some baby products to use in the shower so our cat would get used to unfamiliar smells. I also played noises of babies using videos on YouTube, especially of babies crying so it wasnt such a strange noise to hear.

About three months before the birth I bought a crib and put a cardboard sheet, with double sided sticky tape on the top, in the crib. This meant that every time the cat tried to jump in, he would have a very unpleasant sticky feeling on his feet so he soon stopped doing this. This was a great idea as he has never tried to jump in the crib since! You can also use this for prams, Moses baskets and anywhere else you dont want your cat exploring!

We changed his feeding area. Our cat has a raw food diet so I really didnt want the baby when they were crawling to end up putting raw meat in his mouth so as soon as we found out I was pregnant the cat started eating up high. We dedicated a space in our utility which is nice and quiet for him and he has never minded the change, in fact I think he prefers to eat up high as it must remind him of his ancestors dragging their kills in to trees!

Our cat does not have a shortage of safe zones. He has a huge high cat tree where he can observe the goings on and be free from grabby fingers. He is a very sociable cat so likes watching people so this is perfect for him.

When we brought the baby home we didnt make a big deal of introducing them both. I carried on with routine as much as possible, feeding the cat at the same times and making sure someone plays with him at least twice a day for 10/15 minutes. The cat was naturally very curious about the wriggling small person in my arms so came up for a sniff and I was prepared with a cat treat too to make it a pleasurable experience. Actually the cat lost interest very quickly with the baby and went for a nap so all in all an easy hello!

Despite the ease of introduction I never left the cat alone with the baby. I used a sling a lot in the early days so the baby was normally attached to me which made things much easier. As the baby got older and started crawling things got more difficult as he really wanted to hold and cuddle pusscat like a toy but pusscat was having none of that. The cat normally managed to stay well away from little hands although we did do a few practices of gentle stroking.

Having a pet certainly makes bringing a baby home slightly trickier but I wouldnt have changed anything. Watching my babies laugh in delight at the cats antics has definitely been worth it and I think even the cat secretly likes these tiny humans too!

What is in my changing bag?

14/06/2016
This weekend I decided to be industrious and had a major clean out of my changing bag! I love my changing bag, it has seen me through all my kids and is still going strong with baby number 3. It is wipe clean which I love as it makes cleaning up milk and other spills super easy. This is what I found when I cleaned out my bag.

I always have a changing mat in my bag as when Im out with littlest one it takes the worry out of cleaning surfaces. It is the bulkiest thing in my bag but at least it provides somewhere clean and a bit more comfortable.

I always have a wet bag available where I can dump mucky clothes and dirty bibs and clothes. It means at the end of the day I dont have to rummage around trying to find the dirty things to wash, they are just there in a bag waiting to be cleaned.

Spare clothes. I think I may have mentioned that all my kids suffer with car sickness. They get it from me as I still cant sit in the back of cars without feeling queasy! Most of the time I have a spare change of clothes for all my children, or at least a clean top but littlest one never travels without at least one complete change of vest, top, trousers and bib!

Bird seed. No I dont make a habit of this, I just found an awful lot of it in my bag after frequent visits to our local lake! I have now cleaned it all out, although no doubt it will start filling up again as feeding the ducks is a favourite pastime in our house!

Baby wipes. I go through phases with baby wipes. I love Cheeky Wipes reusable wipes as they are amazing at cleaning up stinky bottoms and also they are much kinder to the planet. I do tend to have a pack of disposable ones as well though, just because you can never have enough baby wipes!

Bandana bibs and muslin cloths. All of my kids have dribbled and littlest one is no exception. I do find Funky Giraffe bibs are incredibly absorbent so I only get through 2 or 3 a day. Muslin cloths are great when I am burping baby as it catching any sick and dribble and they are so easy to wash.

Snacks and drinks. I always have bottles of water wherever I go and normally a couple of sesame snaps too in case of hunger related tantrums!

Oddly enough there were no nappies in my changing bag, how badly prepared is that! I have now added 1 disposable and a couple of the washable ones as I do prefer those ones but I am not perfect and sometimes just use the Aldi Mamia ones!

Of course my nappy bag contents changes regularly and when we go to the beach I find that it has normally been filled with rocks and shells! But those are my essentials, except the bird seed!

I would love to know what other people keep in theirs and hope yours was tidier and better organised than mine!

Bee Stings, what should we do?

06/06/2016
There has been a lot of talk about bees lately and how they are in imminent danger of disappearing which would be disastrous for us. Because of this, hubby and I decided to start educating the kids about bees and how important they are and how we can encourage bees into our little town garden. We planted lots of bee friendly flowers like honeysuckle, which I love because of the wonderful smell and also hollyhocks, Michaelmas daisies and campanula. The kids love helping in the garden and its a great way for them to learn about looking after the planet. We also made a bee house using hollow bamboo canes. I havent actually seen any bees using this yet but maybe they are just very sneaky or ninja bees as my six year old has suggested!

We have however seen an increase of bees in our garden so the children know to be gentle and not to swat at them as this can scare them. The children are not scared of the bees and we have enjoyed watching them weave in and out of the spring flowers, except on Sunday when my littlest one decided to sit on an ivy covered tree stump where an unsuspecting bee was hiding!

My little one screamed so loudly you would have thought he had been shot. We quickly calmed him down, distracted him with an ice lolly and embarrassingly had to Google what to do when stung by a bee!

Finding out what to do after a bee sting is definitely something I should have done before inviting lots of bees in to our garden but fortunately it was all quite plain sailing.

We removed the bee sting with tweezers as it was easy to see, you can also use a credit card for this as you can scrape it over the sting to remove it. It is important the sting is removed as quickly as possible.

We then washed the area with soap and water. If the area looks sore and red it is suggested you pop an ice pack on it.

We then used the magic pink lotion which is what we call Calamine lotion in our house as it really is magical and can be used for everything including bee and nettle stings.

Fortunately our littlest one is clearly quite hardy and took all of this in his stride while eating an ice lolly and having a cuddle. We kept a careful eye on the area as although its small it is still an open wound and infection is always possible and we wanted to make sure he wasnt itching.

We are very aware of possible allergies so we didnt let him out of our sight for the next few hours and watched for signs of wheezing or trouble breathing, swollen lips, tongue, or face, hives, and flushed or pale skin, weak or rapid pulse, dizziness or fainting and nausea or vomiting.

Thankfully none of these appeared and he doesnt seem to have lost his love of bees as he still wanted to read The Very Greedy Bee at bedtime!

Trip to the Beach

31/05/2016
Wow a sunny bank holiday weekend! I cant remember the last time that happened.

We wanted to make the most of the sunshine as a family and decided to head to the beach. I loaded up the car with bottles of water, lots of snacks that dont melt and factor 50 suncream. The children were kitted out with hats and long sleeve tops and we were ready for the off. I dont know about you but I always have a check list of things I must take to the beach. Here is my list of essentials.

High factor suncream. As a tip, pop this on before you get to the beach as not only will your little ones not want to stay still when you get there it also prevents you getting your sticky freshly creamed skin covered in sand! Remember to reapply the cream when needed though, especially if it isnt waterproof.

Hats for everyone. You can even get swim hats now so there is no excuse not to be covered up!

Long sleeve rash vests. I love these and you can buy them cheaply now too. They are so comfortable to wear and if you make sure you buy the type with UV protection you can rest easier letting your child play in the sun.

Water bottles that I froze the night before. I always take loads of water with us as dehydration is not only dangerous it also makes for really grumpy kids!

Towels and a big umbrella. Not just good for shielding you from the sun but also a handy marker for your picnic spot.

Several plastic bags. Ideal for popping wet clothes and rubbish in.

Sand toys! Buckets, spades and diggers to name just a few. A childs imagination has so much scope at the seaside!

Wipes and paper towels. Wipes are not just for nappy changes but great for sandy hands before you eat.

Changes of clothes. To be honest this is a staple in my nappy bag anyway especially as my kids always get horribly car sick and its a regular occurrence that we have to change vomit covered clothes. But I guarantee you a nicer journey home if your little ones are in clean dry clothes in the car.

Changing pad. If your little one is still in nappies then this is a must! Sandy nappies are not nice at all!

Snacks. I take snacks that dont need to much fuss or handling. Grapes are great, and individually wrapped crackers. I also find wraps last better than sandwiches in the sun.

Change. This is the one I normally always forget. Change is always useful for parking and also ice-creams which are another seaside essential!

Obviously each family is different and will have their own essential items for a beach outing. If you think I have forgotten anything please drop me a message or write on our Facebook wall.

Finger Painting Fun

25/05/2016
After a weekend of rain I had to come up with new ideas about rainy day activities for children under 5, easier said than done especially with a bored cat that decided to investigate everything we were doing and entertained himself by pushing paint pots off the kitchen table!

Once the children were dressed and had smeared jam over the table and poured rice crispies over the floor we were ready to start with our activities for the day! I liberally covered the table in newspapers and put the fantastic long sleeved messy aprons from Funky Giraffe on the children and then got out the finger paint! Finger painting is brilliant with little ones as they love squeezing the paint between their fingers and experimenting with the colours they can make, it mostly turns out brown!

We use homemade finger paint using this recipe

2 cups flour
2 tspsalt
2 1/2 cups coldwater
2 cups hotwater
Food colouring

Method: Mix the flour and salt. Add the cold water. Beat until smooth. Gradually add the hot water and boil until clear. Beat until smooth. Divide the mixture and add the food colouring of your choice.

Finger painting really allows your child to fully exercise their fantastic imaginations as the sky is the limit. Finger tips can be leaves on trees, bodies of animals or the heads of stick men! Most children also find finger painting to be very soothing which is fantastic if they have to be cooped up all day because of the rain. Finger painting activities allow the young child to work with the medium, moving it around, blending it and creating anything from an abstract expression to a family portrait to explore his own creativity. Watch out though as little ones rarely remember their hands are covered in paint when they want cuddles or stroke pets!

Finger painting has also shown to improve fine motor skills and helps with hand eye coordination. Finger painting strengthens hand muscles and you can even use it to teach basic math concepts, shapes and letters. The interactive process of finger painting is an important way that little ones can learn new words such as colour vocabulary or sensory words like slimy, squishy or sticky. Your children wont notice that they are learning while they are having fun!

Dont mind too much about the mess, the fun you and your children will have is definitely worth it!

Taking your baby swimming

16/05/2016
Lots of mums are keen to get back in shape after they have had their baby and swimming is excellent exercise but what about swimming with your baby?

It is suggested that you wait six weeks after giving birth, before swimming otherwise there may be a chance of infection. If you are keen for your baby to be introduced to swimming before he is six weeks old your partner, or someone else, can take him. Some private baby swimming classes start at four weeks, but most start at six weeks. There is no need to wait until your baby is immunised before taking him to a pool.

If your baby is younger than six months old only take him to a pool thats heated to about 32 degrees C. Its best to go to baby swimming lessons which use warm pools for young babies. Big, public pools are too cold for young babies.
Start at home by making water fun for your baby, share baths together and splash the water gently over them. Sharing a bath will make your baby feel very safe as the combination of feeling the warm water and hearing your heartbeat and voice makes your baby feel as if they are back in the womb. When your baby feels comfortable you can lay them on their back and gently move them through the water.

Try and pick a time when the pool you go too wont be too busy. Ask the pool attendant to check the temperature for you to make sure its not too cold. For the first time it might be helpful if you go with your partner or a friend. Your baby will be more relaxed and happy if you are calm and having fun.

To make the experience fun for both of you take things slowly and enjoy your time together in the water. To boost your babies confidence hold your baby close when you are in the water and maintain eye contact with them, talk to them and give them lots of praise and encouragement. Your baby may not understand the words but they will certainly feel soothed by your calm and happy tone. When you feel a little more confident try extending your arms and swishing them through the water, perhaps you could chase a few of their bath toys together. Put your mouth under the water and show your baby how to blow bubbles, this is important as when your baby is blowing then they cant inhale the water. Lay your baby on their back with their head resting on your shoulder and encourage them to splash with their legs while you move around the pool.

If you dont feel that you are a confident swimmer you can still make sure your baby enjoys the water. You could try going for a few swims on your own in your local pool before taking your baby with you. Or you could enrol in a baby swim class. This will probably boost your confidence as much as your babys, and is a good way to meet other mums.

Learning to enjoy the water with your baby will strengthen the bond between the two of you as well as making you feel more positive about swimming.

What is Baby Led Weaning?

09/05/2016
What is baby led weaning?


Baby led weaning or BLW is letting your child feed themselves rather than poking pureed food in to their mouths. This means no pureed food, no baby rice, no blueberrie and broccoli combos just ordinary food cut into hold-able sized pieces for your baby to munch on.

Not a lot of formal research has been conducted regarding BLW although small studies have shown that babies are more likely to eat a wide range of family foods early on and be less picky if they have been allowed to feed themselves. Many mothers on Mumsnet maintain that BLW has been much easier for them and their little ones seem to enjoy it and be healthy.

You can start BLW from six months although it is advised that you carry on breast feeding or giving your baby formula milk in between mealtimes. Your baby will slowly start decreasing the amount of milk they take in as they eat more solids.
You could with sticks of steamed vegetables such as carrots and broccoli also sticks of soft fruit and vegetables like mangos and avocados. Dont give honey or nuts to any child under one because this can be very dangerous. Always watch your child when they are eating and learn the difference between choking and gagging, many little ones will gag when they start feeding themselves so try and be relaxed about it but make sure you know exactly what to do in case they do start to choke. Be careful with raw pear and apple because they can be quite hard so you could lightly steam them or even fry them with a little butter and cinnamon for a very yummy snack.

Babies can find it hard to chew on well cooked meat which is a good source of iron so make sure you include other foods with high iron content such as hummus or beans. Try not to put the food in to your childs mouth, rather pop some different things in front of him such as steamed sweet potato and cucumber and let them play and discover these foods on their own. It is much better to put them straight on to their high chair tray rather than in a bowl as bowls and plates have a tendency to get flung on the floor!

BLW can get very messy so make sure you and your baby are dressed for smushed banana and smeared tomato sauce! If its warm outside your little one can sit outside in just a nappy and happily experiment with lots of foods, just make sure you are watching closely the whole time and you have your camera ready for all the messy pictures!

BLW is easy to do anywhere as all you have to do is pop some ready prepared finger foods in a Tupperware container and let your baby help themselves, they will love rummaging around looking for the food they like best. Some interesting recipe ideas can be found here; http://www.babyledweaning.com/recipes/

Party Planning

04/05/2016
Party Planning!

Princess Charlotte has just celebrated her first birthday and we hope she had a wonderful day!
Do you love planning your childrens birthdays or is it a stress filled last minute dash to get nut free birthday cake for the child you forgot was allergic!
We love birthdays at Funky Giraffe so we have written some of our top tips to help you out.

Plan ahead! Write down all the food so you can buy and prepare in advance. Write down a selection of party games and even the music you want played. You can never do enough preparation.

Involve your child in the planning of their party. Children love to be involved and may have some ideas that can help you. They will have been to all their friends parties too so will have a good idea of what they want to see at theirs. Although dont let them write the plan as you may find yourself having to say no to a circus or the entire cast of Frozen!

Delegate. Make sure you ask people to help and give them detailed instructions of what you would like them to do. Make sure you are on hand to return the favour and help out at their parties too!

Decide on a venue. Parties at home are lovely but you may find that hiring a venue and having an entertainer causes less stress for you on the day.

Keep the food simple and try and keep away from food that might cause problems like peanut butter sandwiches. Snacks the children are familiar with are a good idea and you can always turn sandwiches in to interesting shapes using biscuit cutters.

Dont be pressured in to inviting too many children. Older children handle bigger crowds better than little ones so dont overwhelm them. The general rule of thumb is that the number of guests should be the age of your child plus one once your child is aged three and over, although it is always good to have an even number of children so nobody feels left out.

Party games often dont last as long as you think they might so make sure you have a couple of emergency games to keep everyone entertained.

Think about hiring an entertainer. Entertainers do just that, they keep the children entertained while you can concentrate on other things. Themed entertainers are very popular right now so you could hire your very own Spiderman or Princess Elsa to run all the party games.

Open presents once everyone has left as this will be something to look forward to once the party has finished and everyone has gone home. This also means there is less chance of losing the card that comes with the present so you will always know who to thank.

Enjoy yourself and your childs delight! Your children dont stay little very long so make sure you are there enjoying your little ones party. Take pictures, play games and eat cake and treat yourself to a hot bath and maybe a glass of wine when its all over!

We would love to hear your tips and ideas about planning the perfect party so feel free to send us your suggestions or write them on our facebook page.

Teething Tips

02/04/2016

Cutting teeth can be a pretty painful experience for both babies and parents, take a look at our top tips on the best way to ease your little ones teething troubles.

Teething just like everything else to do with babies is unique and no two babies are therefore alike. Some might breeze through the teething process with barely a whimper, whilst others will feel it more keenly.

It could be your little one will show signs of teething quite early, but the average age tends to be approximately 6 months old. Signs your baby could be teething include, fretfulness, red cheeks and of course, a lot more dribbling than usual.

So what can you do to help?

Well give lots of cuddles for a start! Your baby will probably be more clingy than usual, thats because you are their main source of comfort and she will be looking to you to make her feel better.

Teething rings and teethers filled with gel, that can be put in the fridge to keep them cool, providing a welcome relief for inflamed gums are a good investment. Dont put them in the freezer!!

Rubbing your babys gum can also help, make sure your hands are washed beforehand of course and be prepared for your finger to be used like a chew toy!

Distraction can also work well, so try and take your little ones mind off things by reading to them or going out for a walk.

Try soaking a wash cloth in camomile tea, putting it into a clean ban and leave it to chill in the fridge. Take it out of the bag and give to your baby to munch on, she will like the coldness of the cloth and also the texture of it, which will help soothe her irritated gums.

Offer some more cold comfort! Hot swollen gums react in a good way to chilled foods, which can help comfort you baby. So offer chilled fruit purees if your little one can take solids. Frozen bagels and froze bananas are also good. Be sure never to leave your baby unattended though as you need to be aware of any potential chocking hazards.

Avoid dribble rash by keeping babys neck and chin clean and dry, use a natural barrier protection cream and of course pop on one of our bandana dribble bibs!

If you prefer not to use over the counter pain relief, you could think about making your own natural remedy. For example, natural vanilla or almond extracts are known to help soothe the gums.

Dont forget to book that all important dentist appointment!

Grab a cuppa and read what other mums are saying about Funky Giraffe!

01/04/2016


Read all about what other mums are saying about Funky Giraffe!

Still awaiting that all important first tooth, baby Luisa has just started teething and so mum Hannah decided to road test some of our bibs to see for herself if they really are worth drooling over!




Heres what she says:-

You only have to take a quick look on the Funky Giraffe site to see that they have a big range of bibs in designs to suit every taste. I love the fact that so many of them are bright and a bit different. While your baby is still small their bib is a good 1/3 of their outfit so I always like to make sure L has stylish options on hand.

When the bibs arrived I was actually surprised at how great they looked. Of course I expected them to be nice, Id seen the website and chosen them myself, what I mean is the pictures dont do them justice. The shape and size of the bibs is just right. Quite a few of the other bandana bibs weve tried have been too big and looked a bit odd. Check out her bloghttp://www.hibabyblog.co.ukand read the full reviewhere.

Whilst mum of 7, yes 7- Mandi says:

When Viggo was little I was introduced to the very lovely Funky Giraffe bibs, and I instantly fell in love with them.

Their bandana bibs are fabulous, very soft and they certainly kept Viggo dry during that dribbling stage, and saved quite a few items of clothing when he ate something orange!

How does she do it? 7 children! We are in awe Mandi! Why not check out her bloghttp://www.hexmumblog.com. You can read her full reviewhere

And Caroline fromMy Family Ties, thinks our bibs make great baby gifts! We do too! Whats more if you want to add the personal touch, our personalised bibs are always well received.

My friends have just this weekend had a beautiful baby girl and I have been busy putting together a hamper of goodies to welcome the new baby to the world. One essential for any new baby is a supply of bibs - they are so useful and gone are the days of boring white bibs as you can see from Funky Giraffe Bibs you can buy some really bright colourful ones.

Protect and Prepare! How it’s perfectly normal to have the nesting instinct in pregnancy

15/01/2016

It could be you have always been super organised, obsessed with cleaning and selective in the company you keep... or you could just be in experiencing a primal instinct dating back thousands of years, otherwise known as nesting.

So what is nesting?

Nesting can actually occur at anytime during pregnancy, but tends to effect most women in the third trimester and in some cases, it signals the onset of labour. So instead of soaking up the bubbles in a nice warm bath, some of us find ourselves up to our armpits in soapsuds instead!

According to a study conducted in 2013 by researchers at McMaster University in Canada, the urge to get our house literally in order, stems from the need to protect and prepare for the unborn babys imminent arrival. Controlling the environment in which the baby will live is part of this process. The same researchers also found some mums-to-be can become choosy in who they wish to have around them, preferring to select those they trust.

Nesting can take many forms, you could wish to paint the nursery, sort out yours and babys wardrobe, or scrub the walls and clean the floors until they shine! As in most things to do with pregnancy and babies in general, it is best to go with how you feel. Top tip! Always listen to your body and dont be tempted to overdo things.

Tasks to avoid

Avoid lifting heavy objects as you wont want to take any unnecessary risks. Likewise climbing up ladders as balance isnt always that easy with a bump! Ensure you have good ventilation if you are using cleaning fluids.

But dont worry if you dont develop the urge to feather your nest, upend it and start all over again! Not every woman will experience the need to spring into action and clean the house from top to toe! You can always ask your partner to do the honours, while you put those ( swollen) feet up, rest your ( aching back) and enjoy the art of delegation! Whether you nest or not, it wont make any difference to whether you will be a good mum or not!

Baby it's cold outside! How to keep your little one warm in winter

23/11/2015

As those hazy days of summer are now long behind us and winter looks like it might be taking a firm hold, its important to think about how to keep your little one warn and cosy- but not overheated.

The very best way to dress your little one is in layers, as they will allow you dress and undress appropriate to the temperature. So make sure you stock up on all those winter essentials, like vests, body suits, hats mittens and socks! Top tip! Give yourself extra time to wrap baby up! Layering can take time!

So what kind of clothes should you be investing in for your baby?

Bodysuits are ideal, especially those with longer sleeves in the winter and with poppers for easy nappy changing access!

For getting out and about, snowsuits are a must have. Make sure you remove the snowsuit or coat before putting baby in a car seat, as wearing one can prevent their harness from fitting correctly. If you are worried your baby might be a little chilly, pop a blanket around them.


We love our hats here at Funky Giraffe, have you seen our range? Hats, mittens and socks should from part of your babys wardrobe. Our scood range, is a brilliant cross between a scarf and a snood. They are soft and gentle around your babies neck and because they have poppers, they are super easy to put on and off. Perfect winter warmers!

Its really important not to allow your little one to overheat indoors. So make sure you remove any outside layers, such as hats and mittens as soon as you come in from the cold.We know you dont want to wake your sleeping bubba who finally dropped off on that walk - but babies cannot regulate their body temperature, especially when first born so it is vital you do de-layer! A good indicator is too feel your babys neck.

A good rule to go by, is dress your baby pretty much like yourself, but with one extra layer.

Babies and hot rooms are not a good mix at night, why not buy room thermometer so you can keep an eye on the temperature. Top tip! Use lightweight blankets to layer rather than extra clothes, however, if you double the blanket then you must count it as two layers.





Picture this! How to photograph your baby

02/10/2015

From the moment your little one is born they are destined to get caught on camera as much as a red carpet celebrity! So how do you ensure you can grab those all important precious first moments?

Check out our top tips:-

From the very beginning....

The eyes have it! Dont miss mums first look at the wonderful human being she has been carrying and talking to for an entire nine months!

Its a touching moment! Capture those very first cuddles

Baby comes first! Click away at those baby firsts, from first breath, to first feed and first sleep.

Bathing glory! Babys first bath is very special ( and scary!) Lovely to grab a pic, something to show at their 21st!

As time goes on ....

Timing is everything! Once you have established a routine for your baby, have a think about the best time to get that special shot. For example, your baby might wish to shun the limelight if they are tired or hungry!

Take focus! Focus on all those little dimples, special smiles and tiny lashes and tiny toes that make up your unique bubba!

Pix perfect! Since the digital age has really taken over, it isnt so vital to capture the moment in one shot, so snap away and delete those photos you dont want or need.

Setting the scene! We love the idea to photo baby every month/on a special day each year with the same object ( teddy, doll, cushion) as it really helps to show how much your baby is growing and changing.

The light of your life, also needs to be photographed in natural light where possible, so try and avoid using a flash where possible.

Practice makes perfect! Read the instructions and get the most out of your camera, you dont want to miss that special shot by pressing the wrong button!

And lastly, breathe a little life into your photos by setting them free... from the hard drive and show them off instead, your walls are your own art gallery!

Have you any tips to share? Dont forget we have a new photo gallery on our website page, if you would like your little one to appear, please email socialmedia@funkygiraffebibs.co.uk for a consent form.

Boost your fertility with these top 12 foods

18/09/2015

If you are trying for a baby, you might want to check out these top 12 power list of foods, which might help to boost your chances of conceiving.


Go Bananas! Bananas really are one of natures power houses, they contain that all important vitamin B6, which is known to help conception. A deficiency in it can lead to problems with irregular periods and low sperm count. So get your man to tuck in too!


Ask for Asparagus! They are a great source of folic acid- very important before conception and afterwards.


Egg- cellent Eggs! Packed with vitamin D, its no yolk these lush little ovals can really help increase fertility levels and your chance of conceiving.


Nuts, nuts nuts!Almonds are a super source of vitamin E, which can help increase the sperm count. Walnuts are a good choice too.


Sour power! Ok, you dont have to suck on any lemons... but eating citrus fruits can help with the sperm count in men and also helps to regulate hormone levels in us ladies!


Get fishy! Eating salmon is a good source of a nutrient called Selenium, which can help miscarriage and birth defects. Mackerel is also a great fish to choose. The current guidelines are to limit fish intake to twice a week.


Go potty for peas! We say peas please- as they contain zinc, which is known to boost sperm count in men. A deficiency in women can lead to hormonal imbalance between oestrogen and progesterone


Lets hear it for avocados! Super tasty on toast, combined with marmite or honey, avocados are actually a fruit! They are packed full of essential minerals and vitamins, especially vitamin E, which studies have shown can be really beneficial in improving the lining of the uterus and helping embryo implantation.


Bring on the butternut squash! Rich in beta-carotene, eating butternut squash can help sperm count.


And the beets go on! If you are a slightly older couple, then checkout beetroot as it is known to contain an antioxidant called resveratrol, which can help age related infertility problems.


Stock up on superfood quinoa! Its a good source of protein, which can help with conception, is gluten free and is a super nutritious!


And last but not least on our super powered fertility food list are pomegranates! If you dont fancy them, as they are, try them in a juice instead. Did you know they were seen in ancient Persia as a symbol of fertility? They pack a powerful vitamin and mineral punch as they contain vitamins K and C, as well as folic acid. Cheers!

The main thing is, try not to get too stressed, it can sometimes take awhile for conception to occur and for some couples it can take up to a year. If you are feeling anxious or worried, talk to your GP.

Eating out with children - how it is possible to take your little one on a dinner date and survive!

04/07/2015
Ok, it may not be like the romantic dates of your BB ( before baby!) lives, but it is still possible to go to dinner en famille and for it to be a relaxing ( if not intimate) occasion! So take a look at our top tips and make a meal of it! Have time on your side! Choose a time when it is less likely to be busy at the restaurant, it will cut down on serving time and your little one might feel more relaxed ( i.e not as stimulated - aka as not having a tantrum!) in a quieter environment. Book Ahead! Reserve your table, so no waiting around beforehand. Apart from finding out when is a good time to go, you can also check what equipment they have, like high chairs for example, oh and if they actually LIKE having children in their restaurants! Eat BEFORE you go! Not you obviously.... but your baby! If you are still at the breastfeeding or bottle feeding stage, then feed your baby before you set off. Who knows- they might feel so sated they sleep through the whole dinner date! If your baby has progressed on to solids, prepare your own food before hand and ask for it to be heated up or speak to the waiter and get him to bring their food as quickly as possible! Come Equipped!Make sure you have stocked up your changing bag with nappies, wipes ( useful for messy eaters too!) a couple of bibs and bottles or cup as appropriate. Top Tip! Pack a couple of favourite toys or books to help keep your little one occupied, but beware the glare of others diners if they are the noisy kind! Dont leave it too long to get down from the table! Dont expect it to be a long drawn out evening- keep it short and it is more likely to be a success. Keep Calm and dont be put off! Even if your baby does start to make a fuss, try and stay relaxed and calm, remember little people are very good at picking up signals from those around them. Most people will sympathise as pretty much every parent has found themselves in the same situation at one time or another. Think about what could be causing the situation, maybe they are over tired or need another feed. Top Tip! Get moving for awhile as sometimes a change of scene or a new distraction can work wonders. Have you any tips for eating out with young children and babies? Let us know!

Taking the heat out of summer! How to make your baby comfortable in hot weather

01/07/2015
As temperatures across the land begin to soar, we thought it would be timely to write a blog on keeping your baby cool in this very hot weather. Summer can be quite a tricky time, for mums, as you don’t want to layer your baby up and make them too hot ( cue heat rash) or expose them to the damaging rays of a hot summer sun ( cue sunburn).

So check out our summer sun survival guide below!

Smart Dressing! No, we don’t mean get the frilly frocks or the velveteen breeches out (But you knew that!) We’re talking about being smart about the type of clothes to put your baby in. Generally your baby should wear the same amount of clothes as you, possibly an extra layer if they are not able to move much. You should choose lightweight breathable fabrics, like cotton as nylon and other synthetic fabrics can make your baby feel hot and itchy. If it is really hot, your baby is fine just wearing a nappy and nothing but a smile!

We developed out cotton range of bibs as a great alternative for those living in hot climates or if holidaying abroad. So your baby can still look super stylish, whatever the weather ( and decidedly cool!)



Know your baby! Your baby can’t tell you how they are feeling, so you need to be able to read the signs for yourself. You can tell if your baby is too hot, by touching the back of their neck. This is a much better indicator than the feet or hands. If your baby is too hot ( or too cold) they will usually let you know about it as they will become fractious and upset. If they are breathing rapidly and have a flushed face, these are also signs to watch out for.

When wind is a good thing... only joking, what we mean is you should make sure your baby is left in spaces with good ventilation. Babies only have a limited ability to sweat and regulate their body temperature, so they must never be left in a hot car or a room that is too hot.





Don’t sweat the small fry.... Babies can sweat, but only the via the glands in the head, neck, hands and feet, so it is very important to keep them nice and hydrated, as they might be leaking precious fluid through sweat. In the first few days after birth, it is only the glands in the forehead that can produce sweat. Whether you are breast feeding or bottle feeding you should offer your baby more feeds than usual if the weather is hot. Babies under 6 months old are unable to take water, so feeding them more often is the only way they can keep their fluid intake up ( by as much as 50% in the summer)

Clock this! Make sure you avoid going outside during the hottest part of the day ( between the hours of 1000-1400) Get Shady! If you are outside, be sure to take time to pick a nice shady spot. Many mums find a UV tent a great investment as you can be sure to always have shade that way. If your baby will wear sunglasses, then out them on. If your baby is less than 6 months old they should be kept out of direct sunlight. If your baby is over 6 months, you can be more liberal with the sun cream application. Be sure to pop on a sun hat!

It is vital to keep your baby cool and not overheated so get wise to the summer sun and take the heat out of the situation! Have you any tips you can share?

Breaking the habit! How to help your child stop sucking their thumb

27/06/2015
Some children find sucking their thumb to be a real comfort to them and it can therefore be a pretty tough habit to break - I know a certain 21 year old who is still known to occasionally suck her thumb after a tough day! ( Not a good look by the way..!)





“Thumbs the world!” Did you know many children begin life as a thumb sucker in the womb as a comforting action. Once they are born, the act of thumb sucking itself releases endorphins, performing in much the same way as a dummy does. So your little one is using their thumb to self soothe. Many children stop by around 4- 5 years old , but for others it can continue for quite some time, making it a far harder habit to break.

Thumb vs dummy? You can’t lose a thumb, but on the other hand you can’t just take it away either!

Words Up! Thumb sucking becomes more of a concern if it starts to interfere with your little ones speech. If it obstructs him or her forming words. It is very important not to allow your child to speak with the thumb in their mouth, but to ensure it is take out when they are speaking.

So here are some tips to help your little one wave bye bye to their little attachment!

Establishing a pattern - does your little one suck theIr thumb more when they are tired, is it just towards bedtime or all day? If it is happening a lot during the day, try and see if you can gradually get them to reduce this, as it will have an effect on how much they need to suck their thumb at night.

Break the rule of thumb! If you notice they suck their thumb more because they are tired, then try allowing them a longer nap or try putting them down sightly earlier. If it happening because your little one is upset or cross, try encouraging then to express what is wrong, rather than turning to their thumb.

Distraction is key! When you do see your child with their thumb in their mouth, try offering them a distraction, for example get them to hold the book with you if it is happening at story time or a ball or toy to play with, for example.



Give them the bigger picture! Talk about older brothers or sisters, cousins or friends who don’t suck their teeth as they are all getting bigger and more grown up.

Talk Teeth! Tell them how important it is for them to allow their teeth to grow in the right place and sometimes sucking their thumb can affect how the teeth will grow. But don’t panic and try to be patient, as most dentists agree, no real damage will be done until your child’s permanent teeth start to form- normally around 6 years old.

Have you any tips on how to stop thumb sucking? Pleas share and let us know.

Breastfeeding your newborn - some tips for first time mums

24/06/2015
It’s National Breastfeeding Week and so we thought it would be timely to write a blog post on breastfeeding your newborn in those all important early days. For me, the main benefit to breastfeeding your baby ( from a mum’s perspective) is you always come prepared! What I mean by this of course, is you do not have to worry about preparing a formula feed and making up bottles, you have all the equipment you need right on you ( literally!) And there is no better place to start than in the delivery room itself.

Of course, it is not always possible for mums to be able to do this straightaway, for example, if you have had a c-section, you might need a little longer to recover after the birth than if you have a vaginal delivery. Or if you your baby was born premature. If this is the case, make sure to tell the midwife you want to breastfeed and use a pump to express your milk.

Top tip! It is a good idea to find out as much as possible about breastfeeding before the birth and you should include in your birth plan, whether or not you would like to breastfeed or not. If you do not want your baby to be given formula, make sure you make this clear too.

Benefits of breastfeeding straight after birth

It promotes bonding between mum and child as both of you will benefit from that skin to skin contact.

It gets things going! Breastfeeding your baby straightaway, will provide the stimulation needed to start the milk flowing.

It helps your uterus to contract.

It provides your newborn with colostrum, which helps boost their immune system.

It helps you take advantage of the fact a newborns sucking reflex is actually at it strongest for a few hours after birth.

Do not panic if your baby does not seem to be able to find or stay on your nipple in this very early stage. Perseverance and patience are the two main cornerstones of successful breastfeeding. You can encourage your baby to find the nipple by gently touching her upper lip with your nipple and once her mouth has opened pull her on to your breast, ensuring the mouth covers the areola. Don’t worry your baby’s tummy is really tiny at this stage and she doesn’t need much colostrum to fill her up. Try and relax and enjoy the closeness you are experiencing together.

Top tips to help you breastfeed your newborn

Relax - you have already come pre-prepared! All mums make colostrum, your baby only needs a teeny amount at first ( about as much as a teaspoon!) so don’t start worrying about supply and demand at this stage!

Feed as often as your baby wants to be fed. The very act of feeding itself, will stimulate your milk flow. So the more your feed, the more milk you will produce. Every baby is different and some will want feeding more often than others. On average a newborn is fed between 8-12 times within a 24 hour period. It might be your baby is sleepy and she will need to be woken gently to feed ( my daughter for example, was slightly jaundiced and need to be woken to feed) or your little one might fall asleep during feeding. Again, do not worry, just be patient. Your breasts will start to produce milk approximately 2-4 days after you have given birth. You will produce creamier milk as time goes on. Resist topping up your baby’s feed with formula, as this can actually have an adverse affect on your milk supply- remember the more you feed the more milk your body will produce.

Go with the flow! At first you might feel all you are doing is feeding! This can be hard on some mums, but try not to rush or worry as eventually your baby will settle down into a routine, as your milk becomes more filling and satisfying.

Don’t worry if you feel your nipples tingle when your baby sucks. This is called the let down reflex. Equally, don’t worry if they don’t tingle! Mums are different to each other too!

Springing a leak?! Breast pads are a good idea as they can stop your clothes from getting wet. A bib or burp cloth, are always useful at mopping up too!

Don’t stress about whether you are producing enough milk. Boobs are not bottles- so of course we can’t physically see how much milk is in them, but try and relax in the knowledge your breasts are up for the job! A good indication of whether your baby is getting enough milk is by the number of wet and soiled nappies they produce each day.

It can feel a little uncomfortable and sore when you first few minutes of feeding your baby, but this should pass. If does not and continues to feel sore or painful then you might need to try latching your baby on again This nipple soreness might happen over the first few days of feeding, but again, it should stop altogether after that point.

Drink lots of fluids as breast feeding makes you thirsty! Eat a healthy diet and rest up, above all enjoy this special time with your baby.

Seek advice and help if you need it. There are many organisations, such as the NCT who can provide much needed support to new breastfeeding mums.

Celebrating dads! How Father’s Day is celebrated around the world

12/06/2015
Since Father’s Day is just around the corner, we thought we would put together some fun facts about Father’s Day, so take a load off and check them out!

Different Dates for Different Dads! Not all countries celebrate Father’s Day on the same day. Here in the UK, as well as countries like the USA, France, Greece and Canada all celebrate it on the 3rd Sunday of June. So this year, this is 21st June. Whilst others celebrate it in March, May and even September in Australia.

Denmark is definitely different! They celebrate Father’s Day on the 5th June, irrespective of what day of the week it is! What- no lie in! Whilst for dads in Bulgaria is held on Boxing Day!

Mexican Waves! Mexicans it seems just love to party! They go all out to celebrate mums on Mother’s Day and it is just the same for dads, with lots of fun and festivities including food and music. There is a tradition in Mexico city itself, for some dads to take part in a 21 km run!

It’s all about the hike! In Germany, they celebrate by organising a hike and picnic.

Want a Father’s Day to Thai for?! In Thailand the King makes a speech, as he is much loved and seen as the father of the people, whilst the traditional present to dad is the Canna Flower.

Babble-on! Apparently Father’s Day can be traced back around 4000 years to Babylon. It became an official holiday in 1972! Seems like quite a wait!

Meaty stuff in Brazil! It’s all about the meat in Brazil, with families tucking into all you can eat BBQ’s.

All about the man! In Russia, it is called Men’s Day or Defender of the Fatherland Day, echoing back to Soviet Union days. Here there are lots of parades and the day also celebrates veterans, whilst men are given presents from the women in their lives. Seafood Special!

Hook, line and sinker! In Japan, the main dish served on Father’s Day involves fish.

How are you going to celebrate Father’s Day?

Get Fresh! 10 tips to keep your toddler safe during outdoor play

08/06/2015


Now the weather is starting to heat up, you and your little one will no doubt be spending more and more time outdoors. Take a look at out top toddler tips for keeping safe in the garden.

Do a clean sweep! Make sure you have a good look around the garden for any possible safety hazards, such as gardening tools being left out or patio stones that have become loose and raised. Never leave your little one unattended in the garden.
Pool Party! Paddling pools provide hours of fun for your toddler, but remember to keep a close on eye on them, whilst they play as it is possible for a child to drown in a fee inches of water. When not in use, make sure you have drained all the water away.
Poisonous Plants! Make sure you have checked your garden for any poisonous plants, as we all know little ones are happy to put anything in their mouths- including dirt and berries.
Lock up your shed! Make sure your little one can’t wander into any out buildings and keep poisonous chemicals locked up.
Prune here there and everywhere! Low hanging branches or plants with sharp thorns, such as roses can be a safety hazard, so keep on eye and cut them back.
Child’s play! Keep your sand box covered, so as not to allow it to be used by the neighbourhood moggies! Choose one with it’s own lid.
We all scream for sun cream! It is important to slap on the suncream, as your little one can easily burn, even on a sunny day.
Grr to gravel! Be careful about gravel or little stones, as these can be a choking hazard if your toddler decides to eat it.
Bumps a daisy! Check any play equipment for possible wear and tear.
Hot stuff! If you decide to have a BBQ, keep your little one away from the grill and think about using disposable cups and plates.

If you take these simple precautions, you and your little one will have plenty of fun in the garden all summer long!  Have you seen our new summer inspired bib designs?







The wheel deal! Top tips on buying baby’s first pushchair

05/06/2015
And you thought buying a car was complicated- welcome to the world of pushchair buying! Are you newly pregnant and thinking of purchasing this all important big purchase? We’ve compiled some top tips to help you navigate your way through!

Wheels in Motion! First things first, how do you normally get around? Do you have access to a car or will you need/prefer to use pubic transport for getting around? If you are going to use public transport, it might be more suitable to look for lighter weight pushchairs that fold up easily. You won’t be able to put your baby down anywhere once you get her out of the buggy, so you want something that will fold easily      ( and quickly!) How big is your booty?! If you have a car, you need to think about how big your boot space is, as you will want something that will fit in easily.

Dem Stairs can be uphill work! Do you live in a flat or a house? Considering how heavy your pushchair will be is important if you need to go up and down stairs a lot ( with baby and shopping bags in tow!)

Flat Out! You need to lie your baby flat, for the first three months, once they are able to support their head, they will feel more comfortable in an upright sitting position than at an earlier stage. Look out for models of pushchairs that have a variety of sitting and lying positions. Top Tip! Time to get heavy baby... although many people feel using a sling will compensate for not buying a from birth pushchair, the reality is, your baby might be a bit too heavy for you to want to put him or her in a sling, until they are able to go into the pushchair.

Basket Cases! Pushchair storage is a really important consideration, as it is so useful to be able to put bags underneath. Top Tip! Beware putting heavy bags on to the handles of a lighter weight buggy, as it could destablise it.

Casting Extras! Would the inclusion of various extras, sway you choice? Some of them aren’t strictly necessary! For example, do you really need to have a matching changing bag?! However, a rain cover is vital and many mums also like to have a cosy toes ( mini sleeping bag). Top Tip! If the essential extras don’t come as part of the overall package, make sure you find out their individual prices before you buy!

More combinations than the Bank of England’s Vault! There are so many different combinations to choose from- do you go for a two in one, a three in one, a travel system, a three wheeler.... Have a good think about whether or not you will use all the elements and what is the most suitable to wheel around!

Space! Where will you keep the pushchair when you get it home? How big is your hallway/ under the stairs cupboard for instance? Under Foot! Where will you be using your pushchair the most? Do you live in a town or city? Do you want to walk the dog and the baby at the same time?! What you walk on most, will determine what will suit you and your baby the best.

Top ten foods to help increase your milk supply

29/05/2015
Worrying about whether you are producing enough milk for your baby is very common, after all, although boobs are pretty awesome pieces of kit, they are not see through! So we can all be forgiven for feeling a little unsure as to the amount we may or may not be producing. In fact this uncertainty is one of the main contributing factors for mum’s deciding to give up breast feeding.

Your baby is the best indicator of how much milk you are producing, although it is perfectly normal in the first few days for your newborn to lose a little of their birth weight, they normally tend to gain weight after a short while. You can also tell if they are getting enough milk, by the amount of times their nappy is wet throughout the day ( a minimum of 6).

There are some foods you can choose to eat, that are considered to help produce breast milk, these are known as lactogenic foods.

Get your oats! Oatmeal is often recommended as a food to boost milk supply. Apparently, even the simple act of tucking into a hearty bowl of it can contribute to the production of a hormone called oxytocin, which helps produce milk.

Go Green! Eat plenty of spinach as this is known to contain important vitamins and minerals, including folate, which as we all know, plays a key role in preconception, pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Do a Bugs Bunny! No, it’s not a loony tunes idea to consume carrots whilst you are breastfeeding! Downing a glass of carrot juice is thought to enrich the quality and quantity of breast milk as the vitamin A and beta-carotene found in carrots can help raise energy levels.

It’s OK to dip! Hummus is a good choice of snack for breastfeeding mums as it is made from chickpeas, a good source of protein. It is super easy to make your own, simply blend the chickpeas and add lemon juice and garlic.

Pick a papaya! Did you know papaya is considered to be one of nature’s sedatives? This means it will help you to feel relaxed and therefore more able to produce breast milk.

Amazing Asparagus!  If you are careful not to over cook asparagus it really is delicious. It packs a punch when it comes helping to increase your milk supply too.

Switch to brown rice!  Whole grains are considered to be far more nutritious, so swopping your bowl of white rice for brown is an great way of eating an energy boosting carbohydrate. Did you know, researchers believe it may boost the serotonin levels in the brain- great mood enhancers to help with your sleep, appetite and general sense of happiness! Milk supply sorted!

A is for Apricot! Dried apricots in particular are a good source of iron and fibre and are recommended as a lactogenic food source.

"Try Fishing"! Include salmon in your diet, as it is rich in essential fatty acids. Mums whose diet contains essential fatty acids are able to produce richer and more nutritionally sustaining breast milk.

And finally - water it down! Breast feeding makes you thirsty, so drinking enough water is really important and is known to have an effect on milk supply. Do talk to your health visitor if you are worried about the amount of breast milk you might be producing. There are plenty of support resources and organisations out there, who can help you if you want additional support. Expressing your milk and feeding on demand will also help with your milk supply.

Beach Babe! Tips on taking baby to the seaside

26/05/2015
Oh we do like to be beside the seaside! Now the weather looks to finally be resembling summertime, you might be thinking about a seaside outing! If so, take a look at our top tips to ensure your trip to the seaside goes swimmingly!

The X Factor! (Well ok, not quite- but you get the gist!) We’re talking sun protection factor here, rather than singing supremos, but either way, suncream should almost certainly be given super star status in your changing bag! Your baby has very delicate skin and it is imperative his or her skin is not overly exposed to the sun’s rays. In fact, if your baby is less than six months old, they should be kept out of the sun altogether. Top Tip! Think about investing in a UV pop up tent, so you will always have shade. Older babies and toddlers can go be exposed to the sun more, but you should avoid the hottest part of the day ( between 11-3) Choose specially formulated suncreams especially made for little ones and reapply regularly through out the day.

Ring those changes! You will need to take several changes of clothes. Little ones might take to the water like fishes, but they do not like to sit in wet clothes! It’s a good idea to bring clothes you can use as layers too, such as long sleeved cotton tops ( they double up as added sun protection) and a cardigan or jumper. We can all feel a bit chilly once we’re out of the water and babies and small children can get cold very quickly ( especially if they are at the stage when they can’t move around much). Top tip! Pop a few extra bandana bibs in too, to protect clothes ( think dripping ice creams!) our cotton bibs are great for hotter weather. A sun hat is an essential piece of kit.





Come equipped! Bring several towels - damp, sandy towels are not great to lounge on, so make sure you have a couple spare. ( You might not mind a bit of natural sand exfoliation, but your little one won’t be quite so keen!) Bucket and spade, ball, cool bag for food and drink ( it’s very important not to let your little one get dehydrated.)

Choose your spot! When you first arrive, carry out a quick reccy of the beach and select an area that is not too far from the water’s edge, but not too close that you will need to up sticks and move if the tide comes in! Top Tip! Never leave your baby or little one unattended.

Water baby! Your baby will probably be super excited by the sea and small waves can be great fun. Make sure you pop your little one in a rubber ring of use swimwear with floats for added protection, but keep a strong hold on them at all times. Stay in the shallows. Limit your time in the water, as babies can’t regulate their body temperature like adults and so can get cold quickly. Top Tip! Don’t get upset if your baby turns out to prefer the land rather than the sea! You might find the next time you take them to the beach they are more keen.

Babies who lunch! Obviously if you are breast feeding, it is easier to feed your baby on the go. A wind break, can sometimes provide an extra bit of privacy if you wish for it. If you are bottle feeding your baby, it is probably easiest to bring ready made formula in a carton. If you don’t want to bring this, then you should bring boiled water in a flask which you can add to powdered formula ( Top Tip! Measure the amounts you need at home first). If your child has moved on to solids your main challenge will be serving food not coated in sand- so best thing to do is give your little one, her food one piece at a time. Bring plenty of baby wipes so you can wash their face and hands first ( bibs come in handy too!)



A nap in time! It’s not always easy to get your baby to sleep when there are so many new things for them to see and do! You might find after a swim and a feed they are happy to have a sleep in the shade ( this is where those tents come in so handy)

Not such a beach buggy! You might want to think about taking a buggy on to the beach as they can sink into the sand and are hard to push! If your little one isn’t mobile yet, use a sling.

Finally Don’t forget to record your special day!

Going back to our roots! 10 toddler gardening tips

19/05/2015
Have you been inspired to get back into the garden by the wonderful creations at this years Chelsea Flower Show? Now that the warmer weather ( well, the mostly warmer weather!) is here, it’s time to get fresh with your toddler and enjoy all the outdoors has to offer!

Check out our top tips for gardening fun with your little one.

1. Cover up! Gardening can get messy, so don’t dress your little one in their finest outfit. Pop them into some old clothes and use a bib or cover up for added protection. For a fresh look, why not choose one of our garden themed bibs or some flower designs? They might provide you with some added inspiration for the task ahead ( and they make for a cute pic too!)





2. Hat and suncream are also really important, even if you are only in the garden for a short time.

3. Cast aside any Chelsea Flower show aspirations for the time being and just enjoy letting your toddler “help” create their idea of the perfect garden!

4. Think about including sensory items in your garden, for example, paint some stones in different colours and dot them around the garden to aid colour recognition. You could have a go at creating your own wind chime too or they could paint flower pots.

5. If possible, include a vegetable patch, there’s is nothing more satisfying than seeing a normally fussy toddler tucking in to a tomato or carrot fresh from the garden ( washed first if course!)

6. Create your own herb garden - this can be done inside too if you don’t have a garden. You could also plant some window boxes with flowers if you don’t have outside space.

7. Toddler sized tools are a great idea, if you want your little one to enjoy digging and planting. If budget is an issue, why not make your own watering can from an old plastic bottle or milk carton, simply create a few holes ( saves overwatering by over enthusiastic toddler too!)

8. How does your garden grow? If the answer is slowly- that’s not going to work with your toddler as they are not long on patience! Choose plants and fruits that are easy to grow Marigolds, cherry tomatoes and sunflowers are great choices.

9. Sing garden themed nursery rhymes and look at some toddler books on gardening together.



10.  Finally do make sure you keep an eye out for hands in mouths and wash your little ones hands after you have finished in the garden. If you are pregnant, you should wear a pair of gloves.

Smile! It’s National Smile Month!

17/05/2015
The 18th May marks the start of National Smile Month! We have teemed up with the British Dental Health Foundation to help create awareness of this important campaign, which aims to improve the oral health of both children and adults in the UK.



From their very first tooth and visit to the dentist, it is so important to give your child the very best experience you can. It’s a sobering thought that approximately 8/9 children in every primary school class will be suffering from tooth decay.

Thanks to the British Dental Health Foundation for the following advice on the best dental care for mums-to-be and babies. This advice, plus additional information can also be found at https://www.dentalhealth.org/tell-me-about/topic/childrens-teeth/dental-care-for-mother-and-baby.



Taking care of your own oral hygiene is important at all times, but none more so than when you’re expecting a baby. As many mothers will testify, the significant changes to the body mean taking extra care, and that includes oral health.

TEN FACTS ABOUT DENTAL CARE FOR MOTHER AND BABY

Your gums may bleed more easily during pregnancy due to hormonal changes and so frequent visits to the dentist and a high level of oral hygiene are advised.

Your baby is more likely to have poor teeth if you smoke due to the enamel not being formed correctly.

Good nutrition from the mother during pregnancy is important in order for baby’s teeth to develop.

Adult teeth are developing in the jaws below baby teeth at birth.

Expect teething to begin around six months and last until all 20 baby teeth arrive at around 2 and a half.

Signs of teething include swollen or red gums where the tooth is coming through, the cheek on the side of the mouth where the tooth is appearing may be red and disrupted sleeping pattern for both parents and baby.

Poor oral health during pregnancy increases the chances of premature birth and low birth weight babies.

Dental treatment is perfectly safe during pregnancy, but do inform your dentist.

There is no truth in the rumour about calcium deficiency due to pregnancy causes tooth problems.

You are entitled to free NHS dental treatment, including check-ups and prescriptions, if you are pregnant or have given birth in the last 12 months.

FIVE TIPS FOR MOTHER AND BABY DENTAL CARE

In addition to following the British Dental Health Foundation’s three key rules for good oral health, the following tips are recommended for mother and baby:

If you are sick through morning sickness, rinse your mouth out with water to prevent the acid in the vomit attacking your teeth and causing enamel erosion.

Introduce your baby to the sights and sounds of the dental practice at an early age to allay any dental phobia that might develop, take them with you when you go for a check-up.

Wean your baby off the bottle early to avoid them developing dental problems.

As soon as your baby begins teething you should start cleaning their teeth with a 1000ppm fluoride toothpaste.



Avoid using a dummy and discourage baby from sucking their thumb as both can cause oral developmental problems.

For free, confidential and impartial advice about how to improve you or your baby’s oral health, contact the British Dental Health Foundation’s Dental Helpline on 0845 063 1188 or email: helpline@dentalhealth.org. Alternatively, the charity has more information about how to care for babies teeth. Visit Tell Me About: Dental Care for Mother and Baby.

Daddy Cool! How to be perfect birthing partner

16/05/2015
Watching the birth of your baby ranks right up there in the awesome stakes- it is certainly an unforgettable experience! Although dad’s can’t physically endure the birth itself, they can still be very active participants! So how can you ensure you can offer the best support to your partner?

She knows best! Make sure you have a clear understanding of what your partner wants and expects during labour. It is really important to talk about this beforehand, for example, what level of pain relief would she feel comfortable with, does she want music playing ( i.e read the birth plan!) However, remember birth plans are only guides and might well have to be deviated from, but it helps to know what your partner would like as the best possible outcome.

Keep your own strength up! You could well be at the hospital for several hours, so make sure you have packed some snacks and drinks for yourself too. After all your mind should not be full of the munchies, but the mum-to-be, so it helps if you are not hungry!

Read up on birth! Make sure you do your own research so you know what to expect during the birth. Attending antenatal classes with your partner is not only a valuable source of information for you both, but is also a great way of making friends with other parents to be.

Become a focal point! During the birth, it is your job to help remind your partner about breathing techniques and to help her through contractions. If this is not needed just talking and keeping her mind off things can help- especially if the labour is long. Offer lots of encouragement!

Number 1 supporter! You are your partners number 1 source of support during the birth. Just by being there will be reassuring for her ( of course, it’s great you can run around if need be, getting snacks, wiping brows, changing the music, plumping pillows etc!) You are also able to act as her mouthpiece and convey her wishes to the midwife if your partner is not up to it.

Word of advice! Do not fall asleep. get hooked on the TV or take work calls- all your attention needs to be on one person!

Snap it! Make sure you bring your camera and or video recorder to capture those all important precious first moments.

What kind of birthing partner were you? Will you be doing it differently next time? Any tips you can share?

Organising a christening, naming ceremony or naming day tips

13/05/2015
Princess Charlotte will next be making her appearance at her christening and no doubt she will be as stylish as her mum, older brother Prince George and dad of course!





Are you thinking of having your own little one christened or perhaps you will prefer to organise a naming ceremony or hold your own naming day instead. However you want to celebrate, it will be a very special occasion. We have put together some handy tips on making the day go smoothly.

Save the date! Whether or not you choose to invite lots of people or keep it to close friends and family, be sure to send out your invites in plenty of time. Top tip! If you are hosting your own event and have flexibility regarding the date, take a peep at the sporting calendar, as you don’t want to clash with the footie ( or this year, the rugby world cup!)

What should baby wear?!  You might have a christening gown in the family, if that is the case then it’s great to be able to carry on the tradition. If not, why not start your own tradition and buy a gown you would like to be handed down throughout the generations. But if you favour a more modern approach, a pretty dress or baby chinos look super cute too. Our gorgeous satin bib range is a perfect choice if you want to add a touch of glamour to your little ones outfit, without spending a fortune. They are also a great way to keep your baby’s special clothes from getting wet or stained. Top tip! Make sure you have a burp cloth to hand so you don’t run the risk of any splodges on your own outfit!



Where will your party be held? If your baby is being christened in a church, you might want to hold your party in the church hall- this is a good idea if you know other parents having their babies christened at the same time as it will save on costs. If you are having a naming day at home, think about the time of year as it might be possible to hold it in the garden.

Who will you choose as godparents or supporting friends? It is quite a difficult task as the role means different things to different people. For example, is it important to you for your baby to have religious mentors who will be there to help your child on their spiritual journey? Or do you see them acting more as guardians who can step in, if there is an emergency? Do you think they should be family members or live nearby?

Food and drink  Budget of course will have a part to play on the type of food and drink you will have at the party. If you are catering it all yourself, try and make things as easy as possible and use paper plates and disposable glasses ( you don’t want to be worrying about the washing up!)

And finally, whatever you do- don’t forget to charge your camera, video recorder or phone!

Feed your bump! Top foods to include in your pregnancy diet

07/05/2015
Taking care of yourself and ensuring you eat a well balanced nutritional diet, is vital when you a pregnant and of course, in the pregnancy planning stage too! Many people are aware, folate or folic acid, is very important to take before conception occurs as well as in those early weeks, but did you know it plays a key role during the whole pregnancy? Folate is the natural form of vitamin B9 and can be found in a variety of food. Folic acid is the synthetic form of the vitamin and it can be found in supplements or fortified cereals.

So what foods should be on your pregnancy shopping list?

Do a Popeye! This smart sailor knew what he was doing by eating spinach as it the number one source for natural folate. Kale is super good too- cook it briefly and add a squirt of lemon.

Broccoli, not only contains folate, but it is also high in vitamin C. Try adding some raw to your salads.

The bells of St Clements! Oranges and are particularly high in folate, strawberries and raspberries too. You might need to go easy on the lemons, if you already suffer from acidity like heartburn, they can exacerbate it.

Go bananas! Feeling in need of an energy boost, choose a banana instead of reaching for the biscuit tin! Sugar found in processed foods end up leaving you feeling more tired than before, as after the initial boost to your energy, you will have a blood sugar low. Bananas contain potassium, which naturally boosts energy levels.

Meat feast! Not everyone, likes or eats meat, but if you do, then meat is a great way to ensure you keep your iron levels up. If you are a vegetarian eat dried apricots, pulses and eggs to ensure you get enough iron. If you are or were a pregnant vegetarian, have you any tips you could share with us?

Say cheese! Although some soft cheeses are to be avoided in pregnancy, you can still find a variety of other cheeses that are safe to eat in pregnancy. Cheese contains calcium. Always check with your midwife or GP first if you are not sure.

Eggs are egg-cellent! Eggs are a fab way to get enough protein. A hard boiled egg makes a good pregnancy snack too! Use your loaf! Swop white bread for the wholemeal variety as it is a good source of fibre, iron and zinc.

Oats are totes filling! Try eating a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, it will fill you up for longer.

Go nuts! Obviously eating nuts must be avoided if you suffer from any nut allergies. However, if they are something you can eat, they are a good source of natural fats, which is important for your baby’s developing brain. Beware of eating too many though as they are high in calories.

Smooth operators! Try making your own smoothies, especially good if you suffer from pregnancy sickness as you can add ginger to them, which helps combat nausea.

What can you buy a second time mum? Let us inspire you with some gift ideas

01/05/2015
What can you buy a second time mum?  Perhaps Kate and Will’s friends and family are pondering that very question as we speak?! Irrespective of whether you have a whole wardrobe filled full of baby clothes, now grown out of by baby number 1, it is still lovely to be able to dress your second son or daughter in something brand new!

Maybe you are pregnant with baby number two and feel like dropping a hint or two, or maybe you know someone about to have a new addition to the family- take a look at our gift ideas for some inspiration!

All Change! We all know how having a baby and certainly a second baby brings about changes to your family, indeed Prince William described having a second child as a “game changer”, but in this instance, we are talking about changing bags! It might be a bigger bag is now needed in order to be large enough to accommodate all the paraphernalia associated with two children. Also we all love a new bag!

Free babysitting! All mums especially ones with a newborn and toddler on tow are grateful for the offer of free childcare! Whether it is for an hour or an afternoon, offering to take child number one off for awhile allows mum to spend some quality time with the baby. It is doubly effective as it also makes the now oldest child feel extra special.

Presents for toddler! Always appreciated as they can help keep him or her busy whilst mum is feeding or changing the baby. Activity type toys are the best- maybe some crayons, a book, a jigsaw for example or if you are feeling really generous a doll or teddy that can be dressed and fed at the same time as the baby!

Beauty boosters! Who doesn’t love to be given some special skin savers, pregnancy can leave your skin feeling really dry so a moisturiser would go down a treat, not to mention some actual makeup like mascara and foundation. As we all know it can be hard to go shopping with a new baby and a little one and treats like these will be especially appreciated.

Bibs and burp cloths! Of course it is also a great idea to replace bibs and burp cloths. Luckily, we have plenty of new designs to choose from all the time ( as well as some old favourites!)





Gift cards and certificates are also handy to receive, especially those redeemable online. Our gift certificates start from as little as £5 up to £50, that way mum can choose whatever they want, whenever they want! It might be they need some extra items once the baby has arrived.





Get Personal! Why not think about personalising your present, whether it’s a blanket, photo frame, door sign, adding a name always adds an extra special touch. We find mums and dads love creating their own unique bandana bibs.

Replenish the book shelf! Babies love books and as we know encouraging reading from an early age brings many benefits. Giving a new book is a super idea.

New teething toys! One thing is for sure every baby will be cutting new teeth at some stage, so new teethers and teething toys would come in very handy as these always need to be replaced.

A helping hand! If money is an issue, think about offering to lend a hand cleaning up or cooking the odd meal. This kind of present is something money truly can’t buy, but is worth its weight in gold!

Have you any ideas? What was your favourite gift?

Get moving! Tips on how to ensure your child is keeping fit and active

30/04/2015
Fit for Sport  recently compiled data from an activity survey they conducted with 10,000 primary school aged children. The children underwent a series of fitness tests to measure their fitness, agility, stamina, co-ordination and cardiovascular endurance and the results were disappointing. A staggering 67% were unable to meet their targets in a number of key areas, such as throwing, jumping and running, with 24% falling significantly below. Instilling an active and healthy routine from an early age, can help fight against obesity and diabetes, as well as aiding the development of muscle and bone growth.

Active children are happy children, so what can you to start early and ensure your little one is fit for an active life?

Having a baby is a moving experience in more ways than one!  It is really important to encourage your baby to get moving right from the outset. So as soon as they show they are able, you should cheer on their attempts to grasp, crawl, push and pull. Not only does all this encourage them to develop key skills, but as they grow it is important for them to be able to burn off their energy and as a result you will probably find they go to sleep easier and are less irritable.

Kick it! Let your baby kick their legs when they are lying down

Allow your baby time on their tummy ( with supervision) this aids the development of their muscle strength, which they will need in order to crawl. Top tip! Make sure you child proof your house!

Once your baby is sitting up, encourage them to reach for toys. Putting toys just out of your little ones reach, will encourage them to crawl.

Go with the flow!  Swimming is a great activity to do with your baby, why not head to the local pool and take your baby swimming. You could enroll in classes or go it alone.

The good news is- toddlers are inherently active ( any parent chasing their little one all over the place, all day long already knows this!). So your toddler is a willing participant in keep busy and active.



Try and avoid letting your toddler sit in high chairs, car seats and their buggy for long periods of time.

Turn off to TV! Try and limit the amount of time your child watches TV or plays on an iPad.

Shake that booty! Kick off your shoes and dance! This is a fun way for ( both) of you to keep fit and is a lovely way to bond with your little one. Cue those disco lights for a multi sensory  play experience!

Head out doors and explore the garden or play areas near you. Toddlers love exploring, so even a walk to collect leaves or jumping in puddles is great fun and by doing so, your little one will be exercising without even being aware of it!

Play ball! Playing with a ball will really help develop your toddlers motor skills and coordination.





Give the buggy the brush off! Let your toddler walk as much as possible and practical, rather than being put in the push chair and ferried to places.

Set a good example!  If you are fit and active, they will be too.

How do you encourage your baby and toddler to keep fit? Let us know.

Word of mouth! Tips on how to encourage your toddler to talk

27/04/2015
It is SO exciting when your little one utters their first word, be it mama, dadda or dog, it marks another stage in their ability to communicate with you ( which usually continues to develop until they reach the teenage stage and words suddenly change back into half grunts and babble!)

Talking and listening to your child is of fundamental importance, as it not only helps you bond, but it also aids brain function too. Your child’s brain is growing and developing the most during the first 3 years. Once your child is able to communicate with you using words, it helps to combat frustration ( you and them!) as they can verbally tell you if they are hungry, tired, what toy they want etc.



As we have said previously, if you talk or sing to your baby whilst they are still in your womb, they will be able to identify the sound of your voice from the moment they are born. So get into the habit of talking to them before they are born and most certainly after they are born. Your baby will love to hear the sound of your voice, they might not be able to understand what you are telling them, but they can respond to the tone of your voice.

Read on! Reading with your child is a wonderful activity, it helps you spend some quality time with them and it will also help them to hear your voice and eventually they will come to the recognise words. This is especially true if you re-read old favourites ( again and again!) as it helps build up recognition. But it really doesn’t matter what you choose to read in the very early stages, as long as you read!

Shh..! Quiet time does not have to be limited to libraries! Research has shown your little one will be able to absorb words and repeat them easier without the background interference of a TV or radio in the background.

Repeat after me! Don’t correct your child if they do not pronounce the words correctly, that will come in time. For example if they say babbit not rabbit just say, yes well done that’s a rabbit! Top tip! Do write down all those early words in a baby book or for your baby’s memory box, it’s fantastic to be able to look back as see how they built up their vocabulary and what they used to call things.

Point and say! Make sure you name objects and people, for instance at meal times, say what each item is, table, bib, spoon, cup and encourage your child to try and say the names too.





Rhyme time! Singing nursery rhymes is a great way to help your toddler to talk. You won’t believe how many you know from when you were little! Somehow or other we never forget the words! Did you know Hickory Dickory Dock, Miss Muffet and Round and round the garden like a teddy bear are the top 3 favourites according to a survey by the Booktrust?

Question time! Get started on your own questions before the tables are turned ( Why mummy?!) Ask your child if they want to play with teddy, or which dribble bib they want to wear, for example and wait for a response- even if your baby can’t respond yet, it teaches the art of conversation(-the pause and response)

Simple Simon Says- play games! Playing with your toddler is also a great way to encourage them to talk. For example you can do simple jigsaw puzzles together and point to things on the picture ( Cow, giraffe, apple etc). Playing Simple Simon or Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes is also a fun way of getting your child to know the name of things.

Word to the wise! Above all, do not worry if your child is not talking as much as other children are, chances are they are storing up all they know and will come out and recite whole passages of books they have been read instead! Remember, all children are different. If you are worried about your child’s development, have a word with your GP or Health Visitor.

Have you any tips you can share with us? What was the first word your little one said? Was it what you expected?!

Tips on dealing with eczema in babies and toddlers

21/04/2015
Does your baby suffer with eczema? Although the exact cause is not known, it is quite often the case, the condition will tend to run in families. Childhood eczema tends to appear within the child’s first 5 years and in many cases from about 6 months old. Babies who suffer with eczema will usually have red and in some instances weepy patches on their cheeks, forehead and scalp. This changes as your child grows, for example, toddlers tend to have patches of eczema around the back of their knees, inside wrists, inside elbows and hands.



Flare ups happen when the skin becomes very dry leading it to become red and itchy. It can be exacerbated when your baby is drooling as the saliva coming into contact with the skin around your little ones neck, chin and cheeks can prove very irritating. Using bandana dribble bibs, will stop the wet soaking through to your babies skin. (Good job we have so many different designs to choose from!)

Bamboo bibs are also a really great choice for babies and young children who have very sensitive skin. The material is super absorbent and so soft it feels like cashmere! It has natural anti bacterial properties too, which is additionally important if your baby suffers from eczema.

Medical advice should be sought if your little one has severe eczema, if it is fairly mild, then a moisturising routine is essential. How about looking into a natural moisturiser, like coconut oil? Oatmeal baths are another alternative idea to think about, grind or blend the oats into a very fine powder and add to your little ones bath, let them soak in the bath for approximately 20 minutes.

If your little one is on solids, think about their diet as it could be they have an intolerance to certain foods, which increases the chance of a flare up. Some mums have noticed a marked improvement when the diet is altered. Don’t overheat your baby or toddler, choose lighter, breathable fabrics, like bamboo or cotton.

Eczema can be very itchy, if you find your baby is scratching a lot, you could consider using scratch mittens to help protect the skin and minimise damage.

Have you any tips you can share? We would love to hear from you, especially if you have tried natural alternative treatments.

The waiting game... aka when will my baby be born?!

13/04/2015
The countdown to the royal baby’s birth has begun in earnest, with lovely mummy-to-be Kate now on maternity leave and pundits betting the baby will be born on 25th April. The only clue to go on, is the baby is due sometime between mid to end April!

Even though the royal couple are keeping the exact due date to themselves, it is a fact that less than five percent of woman actually give birth on the date they originally think they will! Babies as we all know, are certainly not predictable!



If the baby decides to want to share the limelight he or she could be born on the Queen’s birthday ( 21st April) or her parents wedding anniversary ( 29th April). The point of the due date, is so your doctor can monitor how your baby is growing properly. If you are a first time mum, find out if your mum gave birth to you on time- or did you keep her waiting?! If this is your second baby, then you might find you follow the same pattern as you did with your first (mine kept me waiting!) According to royal sources, Kate gave birth to Prince George a week over due- so maybe the baby will not make an arrival until May!







Apparently half of the babies born will arrive after their due date- which means err... the other half are born on or before! 90% of babies are born within 2 weeks before or after the predicted date! The best advice is not to get too hung up on the actual predicted date as babies are not always amenable to parental schedules.....!

Did you give birth in your due date? If not, did your baby arrive early or late? Let us know!

Tips on getting to sleep in the third trimester

11/04/2015
By the time I reached the third trimester, you could pretty much pull up a chair and use my bump as a table, if I chose to lie down! The phrase, there she sails springs to mind! Anyway suffice to say, I carried a pretty heavy load up front... which sometimes made it hard to get comfy at night.

By the time you are heading into the home strait, it’s not always easy to feel comfortable in any position, especially at nighttime and let’s not even get started about the frequent trips to the loo... All this can lead to you feel pretty tired.

So what can you do?

It is recommended you lie on your left side and avoid lying on your back for long periods. If you are finding it hard to get comfy, think about buying a pregnancy pillow or if you prefer not to buy one of these, just use regular pillows to cushion behind your back and under your tummy. This helps particularly if you are suffering from back pain.

If you are finding you are waking up a lot during the night to go to the loo, think about reducing the number of drinks towards the early evening onwards. Your poor old bladder is being squeezed by your growing baby and it therefore makes it easier for you, if it is not quite so full at night!

Some mums-to-be suffer from restless leg syndrome. Taking a warm bath, massaging the legs and doing gentle exercise can help alleviate the symptoms. It has also been suggested that cutting down on caffeine can also help.

Heartburn can also prevent you from getting to sleep, particularly in the third trimester. Cutting down on certain foods can help minimise the chances of getting it. So go easy on the chocolate, spice, citrus fruits and of course caffeine!

If you tend to suffer from cramps, try stretching out your leg muscles before you go to bed.

If your little one appears to be a night owl and is intent on putting on a performance each night, rather than in the day, it can be another reason why it’s hard to sleep in latter stages. Remember to Count the Kicks so you can be aware of any reduction in movement throughout the day.

Just can’t nod off? Your mind is no doubt going into overdrive as you head towards the birth of your baby, with your To-Do list no doubt ever growing! Try using relaxation techniques (breathing really can help) read a book or listen to music. I’m a great believer in a nice warm bath to help you feel relaxed too.

Have you any tips for sleeping better in the third trimester? If you’ve had more than one child, did your pregnancies differ? What techniques can you suggest?

How becoming a parent can lead to the birth of a whole new career!

07/04/2015
Drawing on your experience of becoming a parent, can sometimes lead to giving birth to some fantastic creative ideas of your own! David Solomons, director of Sungglbundl tells us how becoming a parent led to his own Eureka moment!



Necessity is the mother of invention

When my first child was born we did what most parents do, we went out and bought loads of baby stuff! Some of it we found really useful and essential, others barely got out the packet before we realised that it was an unnecessary item that we could have done without. By the time our second child arrived we had most of what we needed already, but could also look at other new products on the market with keener eyes. We could look at something and say “That’ll be really helpful “or “No, we don’t need that! “And then of course there are the things that you wished had existed to help you but hadn’t yet been conceived. Things that would make parenting easier!

It was during this time that I came up with an invention of my own called a Snugglebundl which has subsequently gone on to receive great acclaim and is doing rather well in the UK and now starting to cross into mainland Europe and the rest of the world. Mine was to simply add handles onto a baby blanket so you could lift and lay a baby as they slept without waking them, and at the same time avoid having to bend or stoop which really saves your back and helps a mums post birth recovery.

It did take us a lot of time to perfect the design and it has been a lot of work launching a product onto the market but it has been a lot of fun too. On this journey I have met a great many parents who have also come up with and launched their own inventions, all from having children and seeing a need to solve a problem. We’ve been fortunate to meet so many successful British brands over the years most of whom are parents that came up with ideas to make their lives easier. If you’ve been to an airport recently you would have seen how many kids have Trunki suitcases. A kid sized suitcase on wheels that your child can scoot around on. The Cuddledry towel that gives you both hands free when getting a baby out the bath, The iphone baby monitors, The Snoozeshade sun shade, The Pourty potty that is easy to tip out.  And many, many more! So many great brands have come from finding the solutions that people say “I can’t believe nobody’s thought of that already!”

Even the simple idea of dribble bib bandanas like those for sale here on Funky Giraffe are amongst those ideas, that if I was having another baby now I’d look at and say ”Yes, we need one of those!”

So the message is really, that if you come up with a solution to solve a problem with your baby or child then you may well have come up with the next big thing. If that’s the case then we wish you well. If not then you never know when that Eureka moment may strike.

David Solomons Director, Snugglebundl

www.snugglebundl.co.uk

Help ensure you baby sleeps soundly and safely

21/03/2015


The Lullaby Trust has launched the first ever national campaign to help raise awareness on how to put babies to sleep safely. It is undoubtedly scary when you first being them home from hospital and lay them down in their own cot. But although it is true to say there are no failsafe methods for totally preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), there are steps you can take to help minimise the risks.

The current advise includes:

Back to basics! Make sure you put your baby down to sleep on his or her back, not on their tummy.

Share your room, but not your bed with your baby. Put your baby to sleep in theIr own moses basket or crib near to you bed for the first six months.

Remove loose ends! Do not leave loose items such as pillows, cot bumpers or soft toys in your baby’s cot.

Keep your home a smoke free zone. Babies and smoke don’t mix. End of.

Make sure your baby does not get too hot. You can check your baby’s temperature by touching the back of their neck or placing a hand on their tummy.

Choose a firm waterproof mattress that is in good condition. Check the mattress regularly.

To download the Lullaby Trusts advice for safe sleeping, click here.

A new tool for the trade! Head over to our dedicated WHOLESALE website and discover a whole new world of possibilities!

06/03/2015
Good news! If you are a retailer looking to stock Funky Giraffe products, you can now order direct from our dedicated wholesale website maiascompanyltd.com.

Registering online, will give you full access to our range of trade products and prices. You will be able to check out our brand new, exclusive  and exciting designs!

We have even more coming soon, so once registered, be sure to keep an eye on our trade website, as we pride ourselves on updating our designs on a regular basis and this remains true for our trade side too.



This super cute owl, is certainly something to tweet about!

You can also sign up to our trade newsletter, meaning you will always be the first to hear about forthcoming, promotions and offers to suit you and your customers pockets!

We decided to develop the retail side to our business, after being approached by both high street and online retailers, who wanted to buy our wholesale bandana bibs and  knew just how well received they and our other baby products would do down with their own customers.

Access to original designs is just one benefit of becoming our trade partner. We have also created some beautifully packaged themed box gift sets too. As you would expect from us here at Funky Giraffe, all the our trade products are extremely competitively  priced.





Perfectly packaged! 

Why not take a look at our wholesale website and discover for yourself, the wonderful new designs, products and prices, available exclusively to retailers. Of course, should you wish to purchase from our existing range of bandana bibs and products on a wholesale basis, then you are also able to do so, via our  dedicated trade website.

What’s more, as a family business, we understand the difficulties other small businesses can sometimes face in a competitive marketplace, so that is why we have adopted a no minimum order policy.

To become one of our TRADE partners, simply register on our dedicated website and start enjoying some of the benefits of working with a major brand name in bandana dribble bibs and baby wear. As one of the original creators of bandana dribble bibs, we have worked hard over the last five years, to establish an enviable position in the marketplace, as a manufacturer of quality products, mums and dads love, at prices they can afford.

So if you are looking to purchase quality, wholesale bandana bibs and other wholesale baby products, such as our super cute baby grows, vests and burp cloths then don’t delay, register today!



Can pregnancy be a hair raising experience?! Tips on how to cope with your hair during pregnancy.

02/03/2015
As gorgeous mummy-to-be, the Duchess of Cambridge continues to dazzle at every stage of her pregnancy, the fact she has been seen sporting her own version of fifty shades of grey has caused a media meltdown it seems!

Coping with the physical demands on your body during the third trimester is hard enough, without being caught in the spotlight we’re sure. The sight of the silver strands ( need a microscope, or is that just us?!) got us thinking about the effects of pregnancy on the hair.

So what happens to your hair during pregnancy. Well as always.. we can blame it on those hormones! Pregnancy brings with it a whole cocktail of hormones, with some mums-to -be experiencing changes to both the texture and the growth of their hair. Usually, the hair tends to grow faster when you are pregnant and sometimes not always on your head! Moving on....

Some mums-to be find their hair thinner and perhaps harder to manage, although most notice an improvement after the second trimester. This can be attributed to the fact, as the pregnancy progresses, the body produces less of the hormone oestrogen, which reduces the amount of sebum produced. Too much sebum, means an oily scalp and heavier looking hair, if there is less sebum or oil produced the overall look of the hair is lighter and less limp ( in other words, thicker looking!)

Every pregnancy is different and the effects of hormones will therefore also be different on every mummy- to be. There is no way to predict how your hair will be, how it will be can even vary from child to child!

Going back to the lovely Kate, there is no scientific link between grey hairs and being pregnant. Stress can be a factor in producing grey hairs however and being pregnant definitely comes with both ups and downs!

So how can you combat pregnancy taking its toll on your tresses?

Maintain a nutritious diet and eat little and often ( certainly go no longer than 4 hours between snack) It takes a lot of energy to grow a baby! Make sure you eat plenty proteins, fish and meat are a good source of this as protein is essential to maintaining good hair growth. Check with your midwife for the current advice on what is safe to eat. Eating foods containing vitamin C is also a great way to maintain hair growth. Eat foods like broccoli and spinach, as well as citrus fruits.

Keep it a case of aqua natal! Drink plenty of water as keeping hydrated is really important.

Switch shampoo! Sometimes your hair can benefit from a change of shampoo and conditioner.

Get oiled! Think about massaging some natural oils into your hair once a week. Almond oil and coconut smell great and can work wonders too as they will give added nourishment to your hair. Some people add a little honey to the mix too.

Just sitting and relaxing for awhile is great too! Stress as we have said can play havoc on the body at any time, not just pregnancy. Why not try out a prenatal yoga class, take a long bath or just chill out on a walk. Whatever helps you to relax is best for you!

The colour question! Whether or not to colour your hair during pregnancy and breast feeding, remains a controversial subject. The general consensus tends to be to avoid using any chemicals during pregnancy. If you are really desperate to colour your hair, you could look at using natural vegetable hair dyes. If you are not sure, always seek medical advice.

Keep up the hairdressing appointments as a regular trim will ensure you have cutting edge style in the pregnancy stakes!

Have you any tips to share with us? We would love to know how you kept your locks luscious during pregnancy.

Good to go! Eight tips for feeding your little ones whilst on the move

17/02/2015
Are you planning to see us at The Baby Show later this month at the Excel Centre? If you are maybe these tips will come in extra handy! Please stop by and say hello!

Be prepared! Never underestimate the planning stage of any excursions when you have a baby or toddler in tow! Time spent before you leave the house on thinking and packing what you will need will save lots of tears ( yours and theirs) later!

Be flexible! You might not be able to stick to your normal routine. You might not be able to warm up the food for example, that’s why planning is so important, so you have options with you. Top tip! Think about taking a vacuum flask filled with hot water, which you can use to fill a bowl to warm/ take the chill off your baby’s food.

Get packing! Make sure you pop extra clothes, a couple of bibs and baby wipes in the changing bag, in case of spills. And as we all know, babies quite literally feed their faces, as well as themselves!

Gather up your frozen assets! Pack any food in a cool bag, a small one is fine, with an icepack to keep the food chilled.

Buy plastic bowls with a lid, these serve a dual purpose as they not only store the food, but also store any unwanted food, you might not be able to throw away, after baby has eaten.

Don’t booby trap your day! Breastfeeding is obviously the most convenient way to feed baby on the go, as there is no need for any extra equipment! Choose clothes that are easy to access and you feel comfortable in.Top tip! If you are wearing a buttons down the front top or shirt, unbutton from the bottom upwards. Maybe wear a vest/tank top underneath to keep your tummy covered.

We say, never allow anyone to make you feel uncomfortable about breast feeding your baby in public, if you are relaxed, your baby will be too.

Bringing a  bottle? If you are bottle feeding, for sheer convenience, consider using ready to feed formula packs, although these can be quite expensive. You can also get pre- measured packs of powered formula, which means you don’t have to worry about the amounts. The cheapest solution however, is simply to measure it out at home in to small containers. The easiest solution if you do not want to go down the shop bought, ready made route, is to make the bottles up on the go with your pre measured formula and previously boiled water stored in a thermos flask. Professionals advise, to continue to sterilise your baby’s bottle until they are a year old. If you are going to make up the bottles at home, you need to be sure to store them correctly. Prepared bottles can only be kept at room temperature for an hour before they must be discarded. If you are not going to use it within that timeframe, you need to store it in a cool pack. Top tip! Do not be tempted to keep any formula left in the bottle if your child leaves it, you must throw it away.

What tips can you share? Do you have a portable high chair or mini food dicer? Do you find it easy to breastfeed in public or has recent publicity put you off?

Bedtime battles! Tips on how to put your toddler to bed and they stay there!

15/02/2015
What’s it like in your house when it comes to your toddler’s bedtime? Do you find they suddenly need a drink? Want ANOTHER story read? They can’t possibly sleep without George the Giraffe?! Cue one frustrated parent and one tired, but not admitting it, toddler!

Your little ones reluctance to go to bed and stay there is just another way for them to assert their growing independence ( yes- another way!) and is also because they really, really, don’t want to be separated from you or the action! Just as much as you long for a spot of inaction....





So what can you do to encourage your toddler to go to bed and stay there?!

Reassurance is key! Some babies and toddlers simply do not want to be left alone as they are worried you will disappear and not come back! Help to reassure them by telling them you are nearby and that you will come back and check on them. Top tip! DO make sure you pop back if you have said you will, otherwise you will break their sense of trust in you.

Let them master the art of sleep! (When they reach teenage years, you will realise what a good job you did, as they never get up!) Jokes aside, it is really important you teach your child how to go to sleep by themselves. If you always stay with them until they fall asleep, you will find it a very hard habit to break later on. Reassurance is again the key, tell them you will pop back and check on them, as they will safer and more relaxed if they feel they are not being left for too long.

Anticipate their needs! Toddlers are very adept at finding reasons to delay doing anything they want- and that includes going to bed! Build extra time into your routine, so they can get special toys together, have one last drink etc.

One last request! Allow your little one the chance to ask for one last thing before they go to sleep, this will help to make them feel independent and help you set limit to the number of their requests!

Involve your toddler in their routine! You can do this by asking them what story they would like you to read for example, or what PJ’s they want to wear ( depends on how you feel about endless washing!) This will help to make them feel part of the decision making process. Top tip- avoid giving them too many choices and do not ask whether they feel it’s time to go to bed now ( they will invariably say no!)

Create a calm atmosphere in the run up to bed time. It will be difficult for your toddler to fall asleep if they are overtired or overstimulated. This is where bath times can be useful, think about adding some lavender oil to the water, which has a calming effect. Top tip! If you are having trouble putting your little one to bed, think about the time- it could be they are going to bed too late for them and are overtired as a result.



Lights on? Some children are scared of the dark and would sleep better with a nightlight or landing light on. Top tip! Why not let your little one choose their own night light, it’s another way of making them feel involved in their bedtime routine.

Keep calm and carry on! It is very hard at the end of the day to feel patient with a toddler who simply won’t stay in bed. Above all, do not give in! You must return them to bed straightaway. Top tip! First time talk to your child and tell them it’s bedtime, second time just take the by the hand and put them to bed but do not say anything. And so on..! Your little one needs to know getting up does not result in extra time and interaction with you. They will soon work out they have nothing to be gained by getting up!

Have you any tips or suggestions you could share?

Style wrapped up! Why choose bamboo baby bibs

11/02/2015
Super soft and super absorbent, it’s no wonder many parents are choosing to dress their babies in what has been widely heralded as the new super fabric, bamboo.

We all know how sensitive s baby’s skin is and for those babies prone to eczema, bamboo is a great choice.

It’s naturally hypoallergenic, as well as anti bacterial, which helps to reduce skin irritation. Whats’s more it’s a breathable fabric, so ideal for warmer weather too.

And did you know it’s extremely absorbent, making it an ideal choice for a dribble bib!



Very sustainable, bamboo is a very eco- friendly fabric, as it can grow without the need for chemicals or pesticides, it also grows at a faster rate than any other plant.

It feels really luxurious too, as it’s incredibly soft to touch. This awesome fabric is also a thermal regulator, it helps to keep your baby cool in hotter weather and warm in colder weather! Isn’t nature a great provider?

Baby clothes and accessories need to wash well and this is a very strong fibre, meaning you can wash and wash these bibs and they will continue to look great.

Bamboo also contains natural deodorizing properties, which helps to overcome certain odours and also protects against the sun’s harmful rays, as it blocks out ultraviolet.

All in all this is one super star of a fabric. Did you know about all these points? Will you consider buying products made from bamboo now?

Cutting to the chafe- tips on how to prevent and treat dribble rash

05/02/2015
Dribble rash is typified by a red rash or sore looking skin in your baby’s neck and or chin. As in most things, prevention is better than cure and this is certainly true of dribble rash.

When your baby is teething, they will be producing more dribble than usual and as the dribble contains digestive enzymes, it can irritate your baby’s skin when it comes into contact with it. Excess dribbling will also make your baby’s clothes wet and this will result in the clothes irritating and rubbing against their neck and chest, resulting in the tell-tale sign of redness or sore looking skin.

So what can you do to prevent dribble rash?

Top of your list? Buy a dribble bib! Functional and fun, our dribble bibs offer the very best dribble protection for babies who are cutting it in the style stakes! Our bibs have been specifically made to fit around your little ones neck, ensuring the dribble can’t drip through and the fleece backing works brilliantly, to stop dribble penetrating through to their clothes and chest. It helps they look super cute too!



Use barrier creams to prevent dribble rash, these are effective, but white splodges are so last year! Better to create a barrier with a dribble bib instead!

Have a burp cloth or muslin cloth to hand as they can be a useful aid to mopping up excess drool too.





Check your baby’s clothes regularly to ensure they are not wet, if they are, you should change them as soon as you can into dry clothes. Top tip! Always ensure you have an extra set of clothes with you as you never know when you will need them. Our bandana dribble bibs offer reassurance against this happening- but we can’t help if your baby is leaking from the other end!

What can you do if your baby has developed dribble rash?

Some mums and dads are reluctant to put traditional barrier creams on their baby’s face and neck. If that sound like you, have you thought about using coconut oil? It’s a natural product and so chemical- free. It also contains anti-bacterial and anti fungal properties, both of which are important in preventing and treating things like dribble rash. What’s more, it smells great too! Top tip! You can use it for nappy rash too.

If the rash persists, or you would like further advice,  you should always consult a health professional, such as your GP or Health Visitor.





































All mashed up or a hands on approach to weaning? When to start weaning your baby and which method to choose?!

26/01/2015
Talk of the table....

In most cases, your baby will be ready to go on to solids from around 6 months old. This is called the weaning stage.



Image via Pinterest

By six months, your baby should also be able to sit properly and grasp objects and most babies will have started to cut a tooth or two as well as developing better jaw and tongue coordination. If your baby suffers with reflux, you might be advised by your doctor or health visitor to wean earlier.





Face First!  At the beginning, try not to worry too much if most of the food tends to go all over your baby’s face ( that’s what Funky Giraffe Bibs are for!) as your baby at this stage, will still be getting most of their nutrition from your breast milk or from baby formula, if you are bottle feeding.

How do you start? That depends whether or not you choose puree or spoon feeding baby as opposed to Baby Led Weaning. (A very popular foodie fad!) It’s very exciting offering your baby their first taste of food, but it can be quite scary too, as it’s another milestone for you both. Don’t worry, take a look at these tips for getting started.

Never leave your baby unattended when they are eating, in case they choke. This applies to both ways of feeding your baby.
Let your baby enjoy touching the food! Yes, it can get messy but that’s what bibs and highchair tables are for! If you have chosen BLW, you let your baby lead the way and start with finger foods, rather than purees from the outset
If your baby is not keen to try the food, never force the issue, but wait until later to try again.
Never force a spoon into their mouth. Let your baby open their mouth for the food. Some people recommend allowing the baby to hold a spoon at the same time as you. Allow your baby to get used to the feel of the spoon in their mouth.
Only offer a very small amount of food at first and limit to once a day. At this point, they do not need to have three meals a day either. Once your baby has started to accept the food, you can increase the amount and frequency it is offered.
Think Goldilocks and test the food before feeding your baby! You do not want to give food that is too hot or too cold, but just right!
Never add salt or sugar to your baby’s food. If you are going the puree way, then include foods like, mashed potato, soft cooked vegetables like parsnips, carrots or fruits such as apples and pears.

So which side of the table do you sit on? In our recent FaceBook impromptu discussion, the overwhelming majority of comments appeared to be in favour of BLW. This “ messy method” allows babies to literally get stuck into food and explore different tastes and textures.

Here are just some of the comments in favour of BLW:- “ At 15 weeks he grabbed a banana and ate half!” “Fantastic eater” and “ Eats everything”, with some mum’s choosing to do a combination of both puree and BLW.  Spoon fed babies were also described as "great eaters."

Our top tip? At the end of the day, as always, choose the method and the timing that best suits your baby and you. Try and stay relaxed around mealtimes, as your child’s attitude towards food is shaped by those of their parents. Just remember to have plenty of bibs to hand whichever method you choose!

What tips have you got to share? We would love to hear from you!









Is your baby teething? Here’s our handy checklist of the main signs to look out for:-

19/01/2015
Hold me mummy! If your baby seems far more clingy than usual, then it could be a sign they are teething. It’s tough to teeth- we forget, but can you remember what it was like when your wisdom teeth came through? Not great... Babies can’t verbally tell you they are in pain, they look to you to make things better, whether it’s changing their nappy, feeding them or taking away discomfort and so they show you the only way they can- they want you to stay close to you, as their main source of comfort. It’s natural after all....



Role Reversal! You maybe the one used to drooling over your baby, but now they’ve traded places and are drooling over you! Increased dribbling and drooling is one of the most common signs your baby is cutting their first tooth... and second and third.. you get the picture! You might not actually see the tooth coming through at this point, the saliva helps to cool down inflamed gums. That’s why it’s always best to keep their clothes and chests dry and free from dribble. ( Lucky we have so many bandana bibs for you to choose from!)



Hands on approach! When it comes to finding ways to help relieve the discomfort of teeth coming through, you will notice your baby will want to chew on pretty much everything that comes in their way... from your fingers, to books, to older siblings! All gummed up! You will probably notice your baby’s gums look redder and more swollen than usual. You can feel the gums and they will be harder to touch, your baby won’t mind you rubbing their gums ( go on- they won’t bite!) in fact, it will bring them some comfort if you do, just make sure your hands are clean first.

Up all night.... Some babies might wake up more often than usual if they are teething, due to the discomfort they are feeling. Remember they look to you for comfort and help. Crying times.. Your baby might seem more fretful and have a tendency to cry far more than normal. All you can do it offer cuddles and comfort. The teething stage, is just that, a stage and won’t last forever.

Red cheeks all round! Your baby will more than likely suffer from red cheeks during teething and sometimes this extends to their nappy end too!

Your baby should not suffer with a temperature, if they are teething and although some parents attribute diarrhea to teething this has not been scientifically proven.

If you are unsure what is bothering your baby or they are exhibiting signs of being unwell, always consult your GP or Health Visitor.

Making Sense! Your baby’s five senses

12/01/2015
As soon as they enter the world, babies will start to try and make sense of the world around them, in the only way they can- via their five senses. Until they can communicate using language, it’s the only option open to them and it is also your way of communicating information to them too. Hearing, tasting, feeling, smelling and seeing what’s around them helps to develop the brain ( for example, builds memory skills), aids language development ( it is not just a tree, but a big tree, little tree, the water is hot, cold etc) and encourages the development of motor skills.

Get in touch! From the very outset your baby will love and respond to being touched. Babies are born with a highly developed sense of touch, in comparison to some of their other senses. Baby massage is very popular with parents and babies as it has benefits for both of you! The rhythmic stroking of your baby’s body has a calming effect on you too, as it releases certain chemicals into the your body, helping to raise the production of so called “ happy hormones” enabling you to bond even more deeply with your baby. As for your baby, massage has been proven to improve weight gain, improve circulation and even lessen teething troubles. You baby’s skin is very sensitive and if you stroke it gently, it will help soothe and relax them. It will help them feel very loved and secure. You have probably seen for yourself how your baby responds to your touch. Babies explore their own sense of touch by putting everything in their mouths!

Eye, eye! A baby’s vision is one of the least developed of their senses and takes several months to develop. A newborn for instance, will be able to see your face from about 8-12 inches away. But by 6 weeks, your baby’s vision will have improved to the extent they will be able to see you from a distance of between 15- 20 ft. Eye muscles will also be developing during this time and they will start to have the capability to move their eyes in order to track objects, such as your finger, if you move it in front of their face, from side to side and by 4 months, he or she will start to get more out of that strategically placed mobile placed over their cot!

Word to the wise.. the language of love  Your baby’s hearing actually starts to develop in the womb ( see our other blog on playing music to your bump!), this helps your baby recognise and be familiar with your voice from the moment they are born. As your baby develops they are more able to focus on speech and will imitate you by babbling. Talking to your baby is therefore very important and an integral part of their development. Reading to your baby is essential and in the early days, it doesn’t matter what you read as they are responding to the sound of your voice and not the words themselves. So if your partner wants to read your baby the sports section, let him! Babies don’t like harsh sounds and prefer and respond better, to adults who speak in gentle tones.



Scent- sational! Babies generally have a pretty good sense of smell from birth. This means your baby will know your “smell” from the outset and will start to recognise the rest of the family within a week. As we know babies are very sensitive to the smell of their mother’s breast milk, which can sometimes make it hard for other people to settle them. The general advice is not to wear heavy perfume if you are breastfeeding as your baby’s sense of smell and taste are closely linked and so he or she might not respond to breastfeeding as well as they could, if they don’t think much of your perfume choice!

( This doesn’t mean you have to become part of the great unwashed either....!)

Taste Notes! We all know babies are sweet things- and it seems it is also the case when it comes to their taste preferences too! They prefer sweet tasting things to sour, as there are several hundred ( it’s true!) more tastebuds in their mouth for sweet things, then for sour. (Maybe we really are all born with a sweet tooth?! ) There has been some research in to this area which suggests, babies can learn the taste of different flavours through their mum’s breast milk and so if you are breastfeeding, try and eat a wide range of food, so your baby can develop their sense of taste.

Have you any ideas on how to stimulate a baby’s senses? Let us know, we would love to hear from you all. Did you decorate the nursery in a certain way?

Our Customer Services Opening Hours during Christmas and New Year

15/12/2014
Should you need to contact us during the festive period, please be advised of our Customer Services opening hours below. Customer satisfaction is hugely important to us and are always keen to resolve any issues as quickly as possible, should they arise.

We can be contacted via email at info@funkygiraffebibs.co.uk or by telephone on 020 30111800

Our Customer Services Opening Hours during Christmas and New Year

Tuesday  23rd December 0900 until 1300

Christmas Eve 0900 until 1100

Christmas Day Closed

Boxing Day Closed

Monday 29th December 0900 until 1700

Tuesday 30th December 0900 until 1700

New Years Eve 0900 until 1300

New Years Day Closed

2nd January Closed

Are you expecting a special delivery of your own this Christmas?

06/12/2014
Are you having a December baby? Firstly, congratulations! It’s wonderfully exciting to be expecting a baby, whatever the time of year it might be! One things is for sure though, if you baby’s due date falls at or around Christmas, people seem to love offering their opinion about it!





Image courtesy of Memory Gate Photography, Wimbledon.

We thought it might be fun to round up some fun facts and ideas to share about having a baby in December!

There are fewer babies born on Christmas Day than on any other day of the year, making them extra, extra special!
Children born on Christmas Day are guaranteed never to have to go to school on the birthday and when they are an adult, they will be less likely to have to work on their birthday too!
Lots of family will be around to help during the Christmas period
You have a great excuse not to have to cook Christmas lunch ( or do any shopping!)
You do not have to worry about holding your tummy in when tucking into all that tasty Christmas fare!
Winter time is a great time to be pregnant as you have your own in built heating system and you don’t have to suffer through a heatwave!
December is the ultimate party month!
Your baby will be six months old in May and will be able to enjoy the forthcoming summer months!
Smiles all round! According to the Office for National Statistics, a child born on December is more likely to become a dentist! They analysed the birth months of people in 19 different occupations compiled from the last census and came up with this research finding!

There are lots of great names to choose from too!  The good news is if you want to name your baby with a Christmas inspired name, then there is actually plenty of choice and it isn’t just limited to Holly and Noel!

How about these festive names?

If your baby is a girl and due on Christmas Day how about Natala ( Italian), Natalii (French) or Tashia ( Russian) These names all mean “ born at Christmas!”

All babies are sweet little things, how about Candy?!

Eve, is a lovely classic choice

If you want a more spiritual name, what about Mary, Angel or Emmanuelle?

If your are expecting a baby boy, there’s Nicholas after good old St Nick himself! Jack ( as in Jack Frost) Kris after Kris Kringle, Joseph or Gabriel after the Angel.

Birthdays are always special no matter what day they land on! If your baby is born on or around Christmas Day itself, then it is important to mark the occasion, just like you would anyone else’s birthday! Have a birthday cake, wrap presents in birthday paper and make sure there is a special non Christmas space for them to put birthday cards up!





Lots of people seem to make a big thing about joint Christmas/Birthday presents, but there can be benefits to them too, especially as they get older and want more and more expensive presents! It can mean they can get that Ipad, Playstation or Prada handbag after all! Rather than wait and save up birthday and Christmas allowances. It really is a matter of what works best for you and your child.

Have you had a baby at Christmas? Have you any tips and experiences to share?

If your baby is due this month, we wish you all the very best for a healthy and safe extra special delivery!

Baby’s First Christmas

28/11/2014
Will this be your baby’s first Christmas? Are you ready to don the red suit, eat the mince pies AND the carrots, tread white footprints over the carpet and make sure you never, ever, mix up Santa’s wrapping paper with yours?! Parenthood comes with a lot of responsibilities!

Christmas is such a magical time of year and your baby’s very first one will be extra special. Even though she or he won’t know much about what’s going on! It’s a moment you will never forget, the first of many firsts and milestones, so why not start creating all those special memories and traditions.





Your baby will be transfixed by all the many sights, sounds and smells of Christmas, from the coloured lights and baubles on the tree to the sounds of relatives visiting to smells of cinnamon and spice, it can be a very stimulating time for your baby’s sensory development. It can of course be an over stimulating time too, as your baby could well become over tired and fractious due to a disruption to their routine!

Here are some tips and ideas to help make your baby’s first Christmas special

Tiny fingers and tiny toes! Actually make adorable presents ( when made painted and made into mini hand or footprints reindeers or Christmas trees) They make lovely keepsakes.

All that glitters.... Watch out when it comes to decking out the house with Christmas baubles and tinsels as they can represent a choking hazard. It really depends on how old your baby will be, but remember if they can grab they will!

As always, routine matters! Babies as we’ve mentioned before and no doubt will again, like routines. So try as far as possible to preserve your regular routine. We know it might not be that easy if you have lots of guests popping in and out, as this can be a bit disruptive for you and your baby. Babies also seem to know when they might be missing out too, which means they might not be quite as amenable to having an afternoon nap as usual! But try.....

Christmas wishes and kisses! Not every baby will want to be held by different guests, if your baby is not keen on being held by someone unfamiliar, don’t worry, Great Aunt Gertrude will get over it.... eventually!! Do what’s best for your baby and what you feel comfortable doing.

Think outside the ( toy) box! If this is your baby’s first Christmas, you really don’t have to spend the earth on their presents. They won’t appreciate it at this early stage and yes it’s true... they do quite often seem to prefer to play with the empty box rather than the toy! Why not choose some lovely new books to read together, bath toys and maybe one special cuddly toy.





Perfect stockings!  You might want to start the tradition of having a Christmas stocking, from bibs and bandanas to socks, soft toys and teething rings, there are lots of small cute and inexpensive stocking fillers to choose from.

Snap those smiles! Make sure you have charged your phone, camera and video recorder so you can grab all those special moments.

Keep baby’s outfit simple! Remember babies like to be comfortable, so be careful when it comes to choosing a special outfit for the day. You would be far better off keeping it simple and topping the outfit off with a special Christmas bib, jumper or cardigan rather than trying to cajole your baby into wearing a super cute Elf’s outfit! Don’t forget there are also bound to be spillages from both ends at some point in the day! Keep things as stress free for you and your baby.



Get Fresh! A change of scene can do everyone good if you have all been cooped up all day. Why not take your baby out for a short walk, they will probably feel calmer if it’s less noisy for a while and you no doubt feel better walking off that Christmas pudding! ( Or is that just me?!)

Don’t expect too much from the day, it might be your baby sleeps for most of it or they are not impressed by all the comings and goings associated with day.  Try and keep things as simple and calm as possible and you will enjoy it more.

Have you any tips or stories to share? Let us know, we’d love to hear from you.

Where do you stand on the great dummy debate? Check out the pros and cons of using a pacifier for you baby.

24/11/2014


Who knew there would be so many things to consider when you become a parent! It’s natural for all of us to want to do the right thing when it comes to our children, but sometimes it’s not easy knowing exactly what the right thing to do is! Especially when the world wide web yields so many different viewpoints! It seems ironic dummies are also known as pacifiers and soothers because they sure can ruffle a few feathers at times!

There has been some evidence to suggest using dummies could cut the number of baby deaths in relation to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. However, the advice also is, if your baby does not want a dummy, you should not force them to have one as there isn’t any evidence to suggest not having one is harmful. Traditionally opponents of dummies cited they interfered with the development of children’s teeth and prevented the establishment of breastfeeding techniques in those vital early weeks. Recent research carried out in the US however, suggests dummies can actual aid breastfeeding, but no one yet can tell why this might be the case! So there you go....

If you are considering introducing a dummy take a look at these pros and cons:-

On the plus side!

The truth is a lot of parents find a dummy really can help to soothe a fretful baby. This is because babies are born with a sucking reflex which helps to reduce stress and soothes the baby back to sleep. Young babies aren’t able to soothe themselves in other ways until they are a little older.

A dummy can help calm a fretful baby, take their mind off what temporarily might have become a stressful moment for them ( they are feeling tired or getting an injection for example)

Sucking on a dummy may help ease the pain of teething and once your baby has teeth the extra salive produced when sucking on the dummy csan help combat plaque build up.

Using a dummy is considered preferable to sucking thumbs, as this habit has been linked to dental problems later on. It’s obviously easier to break the dummy habit than a thumb sucking one. How many times have you heard the saying, you can take away a dummy, but not a thumb?!

And those against say....

The current advice is to avoid using a dummy prior to your baby reaching six weeks old, as it can prevent them from developing an effective sucking mechanism during breast feeding, which can then interfere with the production of a good supply of breast milk, in those early stages.

Dummies used by children over a year old can interfere with speech development, as some children may not have had the same opportunity to babble as much as those who have not used a dummy.

Your own sleep might be more interrupted if your baby keeps waking up due to the dummy falling out of their mouths when they are asleep and you need to keep getting up to put it back.

Using a dummy for long period of time has been linked to repeated ear infections in babies

Prolonged use of a dummy can interfere with the growth of your baby’s teeth. It is more likely to cause this problem if your child is over two and still using a dummy, with the worst problems occurring in children over four. The same goes for thumb sucking.

If you do decide to use a dummy, here is a round up of do’s and don’ts

Don’t use the dummy for long periods, limit to sleep times or if your baby is really unsettled.
Don’t wait too long before you try and wean your baby off using the dummy. You should ideally start reducing the times they need it by the time they have reached six months old and certainly by the time they are a year old.
Don’t allow dummy sucking to become just a habit.
Do remove the dummy before meal times
Do encourage your baby to “talk” and remove the dummy.
Don’t ever dip the dummy in to something sweet and give it to your baby, as this can lead to tooth decay.
Do try other ways of soothing your baby if you are trying to wean them off using a dummy. For example, read or play together or offer them a cuddle instead.
Do keep your baby’s dummy clean. You need to clean and sterilise them in the same way you would their bottle teats. Always check to see if the dummy has become cracked and damaged and if it has, then throw it away.

What will you decide to do? Have you used a dummy with one child and not another? What tips can you share for weaning a baby off their dummy? Do you think dummies get bad press and are a much maligned and necessary soothing aid?

+ Please note this is intended as a useful guide to the topic of dummies and is not intended to be taken as professional advice. Please always refer to your GP or health visitor regarding queries and concerns about your baby.

Dressing the bump! What’s your pregnancy style?

14/11/2014
When it comes to putting a stylish bump forward are you more of a Kourtney Kardashian or a Kate Middleton? Are you due a maternity makeover?! As in all aspects of life, the key to looking good is feeling good! So comfort and practicality has to go hand in hand with style.

Check out these tips for looking good through out every stage of your pregnancy.

First Trimester Style

The majority of mums choose not to reveal their pregnancy until after  their 12 week scan. If this sounds like you, then you don’t want your clothes inadvertently revealing your closely kept secret too soon!

So don’t choose clothes that are too tight or clingy, you should be able to get away with wearing your normal wardrobe at this stage, but avoid those bodycon dresses! Choose instead, oversized jumpers and tops - but beware of anything too tent-like as they will just make you look bigger than you actually are! Try loose fitting dresses or my personal fave, tunics! I love wearing tunics pre, during and post pregnancy! They do wonders for deftly disguising any extra weight around the middle!

Top tip! Avoid the gap! If you find your tops are not doing up, try popping an extra layer like a t-shirt or tank top on underneath!

Show off a little in your second trimester !

You are hopefully now over any morning sickness and beginning to feel a little less tired so why not make the most of your burgeoning looks with these style ideas.

You gotta have front!  For some mamma’s to be it’s a case of, if you’ve got it flaunt it! One of the perks of being pregnant is your increased cup size, so why not make the most of your cleavage with some well chosen necklines!

Show off those pins! Invest in a good pair of maternity jeans with an expandable waist that will grow alongside your bump and help support it too. Classic style!

Be a wrap star!  Wrap dresses are a great choice as they are so comfortable and can literally expand as you do! They also add a little va va boom to your outfit, as they have the added bonus of showing off your great cleavage (again!)

A wardrobe on the dark side?!  To be honest whether you choose to wear vibrant pink, leopard print or black and white, it’s up to you! Go with what makes you happy and you feel good in. Darker colours can look a little more classic and slimming, but if you want to glitter in gold, then go for it!

Third trimester - how to dress to impress your bodacious bump!

Ok, by this point you might well be feeling a little less awed and more than a little bored with your pregnancy wardrobe! You are in count down time and probably don’t want to start splashing out on new clothes.

Top tip! If you are on a budget, check out your local charity shop, you can simply shop for bigger sizes or see what they might have in maternity fashion. Or look on line as there are lots of sites specialising in pre owned maternity clothes.

At this stage a good idea is to don those accessories and dazzle ‘em! If you want to buy something new, why not treat yourself to something you can wear or use after your baby is born? Maybe a new handbag, shoes or makeup?

We say, all mummy’s are yummy, so embrace your bump and go with styles you want to wear and you feel comfortable in, because at the end of the day, you look gorgeous!

Have you any style tips you can share about dressing your bump? Did you dress on a budget or blow the budget?!

Top tips for travelling on public transport with your baby

06/11/2014
The Lord Mayor’s Show takes place in London on 8 November this year and this got us thinking about travelling on public transport with small children in tow!

Even if you are not heading into the capital we hope you find these tips a useful aid if you are a mum or dad on the go!

Some peaks are best avoided!  Try and plan your journey to ensure you avoid rush hour. It will be far easier for you to get on and off transport, to avoid crowded platforms and to find a seat, if you avoid the crush hour!

Top tip! Always make sure your baby is securely fastened in their pushchair, brakes are applied and hold onto the buggy if you are waiting near to the tube or train platforms in order to avoid unnecessary accidents.



Get Appy!  There are several great apps out there to help you plan your journey around tube stations with lifts or have stair free access. Take a look at Gobabyapp and Mumunderground.com

Sling and go!  You might like to consider putting your baby in a sling, as you will be far more mobile, if you are not trying to handle a buggy, a baby, a changing bag etc! It will also help to have your hands free should you have other children to look after, for example.

The wheels on the bus go round and round... You might feel more comfortable getting a bus, rather than a tube. All London buses have low-floors to enable wheelchair access. You are allowed to use the wheelchair space for your buggy, but would need to make way for a wheelchair user if necessary as they have priority.  Transport For London say, “If you are using a double buggy, feel free to get on the bus at the back exit doors, but remember to check with the driver first.”

Size really does matter!  It isn’t always the case that biggest is best and certainly not when you are trying to get on and off tubes, buses and trains! If possible, buy a compact, lightweight, cheap buggy that is easy to fold.

Water baby? Depending on where you are headed in London, you might be able to take a boat. There are several ferry operators on the Thames.

Black cabs - this is obviously the most expensive option, but black cabs are big enough inside to take an unfolded buggy.

Feet first!  Why not think about walking? There are lots of fabulous sights and sounds to see around London and sometimes the distances between all of them are not as far as you think. Walkit.com is a really useful website as it calculates how long it could take you to walk places- not just in London, but all over the country.

Ask for help!  If you need help, ask....



Have you any top tips for travelling with tots?  If you don’t live in London, how do you find getting around on pubic transport? 

Have you seen our new fab London bib range? Check the website for full details.





What other landmarks would you like to see on our bibs?

It’s mine! Tips on teaching your toddler to share!

01/11/2014
There can be fewer more dreaded words uttered in a toddler get together, than the ubiquitous “Mine!” swiftly followed by an outpouring of heartrending emotion when a toddler discovers their much prized doll, lego piece, crayon or game ( delete as appropriate!) is no longer in their possession, having been seized, quite literally by another pint sized guardian of the toy box!



You see, that’s just the point- young children are not able to see a situation from another perspective, due to the way the brain develops, they cannot empathise with others until they reach four or five years of age. So a toddler is really only responding instinctively when they refuse to hand over the goodies to a playmate. Make you feel better? Probably not- so how can we help teach our children to share? It’s an important skill for them to learn and one they learn over time.

Toddlers have a very strong sense of ownership of things as they are trying to make sense of the world around them. It is genuinely hard for them to understand the concept of sharing at this age.

Check out these top tips:-

Try not to make a huge fuss when your child refuses to share as this will only increase their resistance.
Encourage them to see the situation from the other child’s point of view. Say something like, “ Alice is feeling sad because she doesn’t have a toy to play with, maybe you could let her play with one of your toys for a while”
Introduce the concept of taking turns, for example, “ It’s Toby’s turn to play with the train, then it will be your turn. Shall we play with the cars whilst you are waiting?”
Don’t jump in straight away, try and give your toddler some space to work things out for themselves.
Don’t snatch the toy off your child yourself! This will only confuse them as it’s pretty much doing what you are telling them not to!
Lead by example! Don’t forget children learn behavior from those around them too. Talk to your child about sharing, how it makes you and them feel, for instance, do they feel happy when mummy shares her biscuit etc?! Once this concept is grasped get used to showing how very happy you are to receive, a half eaten soggy biscuit or chewed teething ring from your smiling and sharing toddler!
If you are hosting a play date at your house, explain to your child before their visitors come, their friends will want to play with their toys, just like they themselves, like to play with their friends toys at their houses. Top tip! Maybe put away a particularly favourite or brand new toy away before the guests arrive.

Please share your tips with us! We would love to hear what you find works best.

The big bang theory- fireworks and babies, do they mix? Should you take your baby to a firework display?

29/10/2014
Should you take your baby along to a firework display? We all know how loud fireworks can sound and that’s to our ears, so imagine what they must sound like to babies and small children. According to babysensory, fireworks register at 140 decibels, which is loud enough to cause permanent hearing loss, as any noise over 80 decibels can effect the development of hearing in little ones. They suggest using earmuffs for babies over 6 weeks old and leaving very young babies at home.

Check out these top tips if you do decide to go

Under wraps! Although we have enjoyed unseasonably warm weather well in to the autumn this year, there is little doubt a chill is in the air, especially at night time. So wrap up your baby in several layers of clothes and be sure to keep their heads, feet and hands covered too.

Keep little ones close! Keep hands free by wearing a baby sling, a forward facing one means they can look out at the action. Putting your baby in a sling is a good idea if you also need keep an eye on older brothers and sisters, as it leaves your hands free, making it easier for you to focus on the more mobile children!

Top tip! Keep a safe distance from the display and bonfire as sparks can fly!

Never give a sparkler to a child under 5 years of age. These can cause nasty burns if incorrectly held.Make sure your child only holds the sparkler with their gloves on.

Every baby is different!  Some babies will love to see this multi sensory display of light and colour, whilst others might be frightened by the loud noises and the crowds. We all react differently to situations- and so do babies! If your child is showing signs of distress then the best advice is to beat a retreat! You don’t want to put them off coming to future events, or indeed loud noises, like thunder.

We love fireworks as much as anyone! They are hard to resist and even as an adult, I find them rather beautiful and magical when they light up the nights sky.

Have you seen our NEW firework bib?





What’s your view? Have you taken your baby along to a display? How did it go? Have you any top tips you can share? Or did you take your baby or toddler and wish you hadn’t? Whatever your view, have a great time on the 5th November, keep safe and enjoy a happy bonfire night.

If the hat fits! Tips on how to dress your newborn baby

16/10/2014




I remember being so worried about how to go about dressing my baby son so we could leave hospital after he was born. I was terrified of  inadvertently hurting him by moving his tiny arms and legs in the wrong way, to get them into his baby grow. I just sat there for ages, staring at the tiny baby grow laid out on the bed, trying to figure out how to do it! In the end I was rescued by a maternity nurse who showed me what to do, she reassured me babies are actually pretty robust and gave me the confidence I needed. Besides, as the old saying goes- “needs must” and as I didn’t want him leaving in his birthday suit, I had to get on with it! Did any of you feel like that? It can be quite daunting being a first time parent, as you realise you are totally responsible for this tiny human being.

Top tip! Think about dressing your baby in a nightgown in the early days- even if it is a boy,  as it allows for fast, direct access for nappy changes, without having to worry about fitting legs into baby grows or undoing poppers etc. This tip was given to me by a wonderful lady who has fostered over 30 babies and had 5 of her own! I took her advice!

Here are some other tips to check out- don’t worry, you will soon be carrying out multiple changes every day with all the confidence you need!

Where should you dress your baby? The best place to dress your newborn baby is on the floor, as this minimizes the chances of an accident happening. Use a baby changing mat as this will make it comfortable for your baby. If you don’t have one, use a folded towel instead. Make sure the room is warm ( after all who likes to get dressed or undressed in a cold room!) Top tip! The first thing to put on is a nappy!

From head to toe! Buy outfits that will make it easy for you to get the clothes on and off your baby. Top tip! Make the clothes fit the baby and not the other way around! Look out for wider necks, as these are easier to get over baby’s head. Stretch necks of clothes to ensure they can easily go over the baby’s head. Baby’s tend not to like it if something covers their face. Avoid any clothes that might be tight around your baby’s neck.

This little piggy went to market! Reach for those tiny fingers through the sleeve and gently gently draw the arm through the hole. The same goes for legs, reach through the the leg holes until you reach tiny feet and then guide them gently through the opening.

Plus One! It’s a good idea to dress your baby in layers as this way you can regulate their temperature. The general rule seems to be dress baby in the same number of layers as you have on, plus an extra layer. The extra layer doesn’t necessarily have to be an item of clothing, but could be a blanket. Top tip! A good method to use for checking if your baby is too hot, is to feel the back of their neck and whip on or off the layers as appropriate!

Buttons and bows! Make things easy for you and for baby, by avoiding clothes with lots of buttons on the back of the garment. This is because as babies lie on the their backs a lot at first and you don’t want to make it uncomfortable for them. You should also check for any unnecessary labels and choose clothes that are nice and soft. If the clothes do have bows and ribbons, you need to check they are securely fastened as they could be a chocking hazard.

Sing, chat, hum, coo!  Whatever way you want to do, it communicate with your baby throughout the whole time and they will feel happier spending this time with you. It makes it a little more relaxing for your both!!

What was it like for you, when you first dressed your newborn? Have you any tips you could share with us?





















































Funny pregnancy traditions to predict your baby’s gender

10/10/2014




“Do you know if you are having a boy or a girl”?! This surely must be the most common question all mums-to-be are asked, after.. “When is it due”?!

Tradition also has it, the sex of your baby will be determined by the diet you ate, prior to conception. Apparently, if you ate lots of diary, nuts and green vegetables, then you could be having a little girl. If you snacked on fizzy drinks, crisps and red meat, then you might well be having a boy!

Many expectant parents these days, do in fact want to know what sex their baby will be, it really comes down to personal choice in the end. As for me? Well I always feel it’s a little like unwrapping your Christmas presents early- very tempting, but do you really want to and how will you feel afterwards? Others take the view they would prefer to know what sex there baby will be, in order to feel more prepared. There isn’t a right or wrong answer, it’s what ever is best for you.

If you are tempted to find out and don’t want to wait for the ultrasound, we though we would round up some fun “Old Wives tales” gender predictor tests. Be warned- whatever the outcome, we wouldn’t suggest rushing out and buying all things blue or pink just yet!

Feeling nauseous? If you have quite bad morning sickness, tradition says, you are expecting a girl!

Bump like a basketball and carrying all up front? Yep, it’s a boy!

A little weighty around the hips, and the bump is pressing on your bladder? Well, it’s probably a girl !

What to know if it’s a boy or a girl? You can tell in a heart beat! According to tradition, baby boys have a slower heart rate ( under 140 beats per minute) whilst baby girls hearts beat faster ( over 140 beats per minute)

What are you craving? Is it’s all sugary sweet things, then you could be expecting a girl! ( After all aren’t all little girls made of sugar and spice and all things nice?!) If it’s all about salt and spice, then you might be expecting a little boy! ( Slugs and snails and puppy dog tails! You get the picture!)

Heard about the Chinese Gender Chart? This Ancient Chinese tradition dates back hundreds of years, where legend has it a special gender chart was found inside a tomb. It is said to be about 90% accurate! The chart predicts your baby’s gender in accordance with the mum-to-be’s age at the time of conception, together with the month the baby was conceived in! Umm.... If you like the idea of trying this one, there are lots of examples on Google.

Bigger boobs than usual? Could be a girl then!

Glowing hair and skin? You could have a baby boy in there! Dull hair and spots? It’s a baby girl then, as tradition has it baby girls try and steal their mother’s beauty! Not sure about that one, since all babies are born gorgeous without even trying!

How about trying the wedding ring test? Some cultures use a threaded needle. Tie a wedding ring to a thread, lie down and ask someone to hold it over your bump. As far as the Old Wives tale is concerned, if it swing in a circle, you are expecting a girl and if it swings backwards and forwards, it’s a boy of course!

Feeling brave? If you mix a sample of baking soda with your urine and it fizzes, then it could be a boy! If there isn’t any reaction, it’s a girl...

Want to know if you hold the key to unlocking the surprise? Ask a friend to pick up a key, if she picks it up by the narrow part, it’s a girl. By the rounded part, a boy. ( Some traditions say the expectant mum should be the one to pick up the key, when a friend puts it in front of them)

Feeling hormonal? Well, it’s a girl in there! ( Cheek!)

Will you give any of these a go? Do you know of any traditions we might have missed? Have you tried them and they were proved right?!  Remember, nothing to with children is entirely predictable, but if you are determined to find out the sex of you baby before he or she is born, best wait for the ultrasound!

Writing a birth plan

09/10/2014
Can you ever truly plan for childbirth? Yes- but remember, nothing to do with babies is set in stone! So be flexible and open minded to the fact things might not always go according to your plan!

A birth plan sets out how you would like the birth to go and helps you focus on important considerations, such as pain relief, before you go into labour. If this is your first pregnancy, it will probably help you to feel reassured if you do plenty of research around labour and birth. You should look in to the different forms of pain relief available to you. Try not to become too fixed about one type of pain relief, as you really won’t know how you might feel when the time is upon you, or how your labour might progress. In the end, you need to do what ends up being best for you and your baby- even if it wasn’t in your plan!

You also need to research the facilities at the hospital you are going to, for example there is no point planning for a water birth, if a birthing pool is not an option there!

It’s a good idea to make a couple of copies of your birth plan once you have written it. One can go in your maternity notes and the other can be packed as an extra in your hospital bag for your partner to refer to during labour.

Some things to think about putting in your birth plan

Number one is probably, who will be there to help you through the labour and birth? Do you want them to stay with you through out the whole process? Would you like them to cut the umbilical chord, if this is possible? Are they happy to do this if they can?
Pain Relief : What have you decided you would like do when it comes to pain relief and which order should they be in.
What equipment does your hospital offer? For example do they have birthing balls, mats or beanbags? Do you want to use them if you can? Can you bring your own in?
What positions have you considered for birth? Do you want to be able to move around during labour?
How do you want your baby’s heartbeat to be monitored? Intermittent or constant? You need to be guided by your midwife on the day as they will know how your baby is reacting to labour.What if you need help with the birth? Are you happy for a ventouse or forceps delivery? Are you happy for your midwife to make the correct judgement.
What about the placenta? Do you want to keep it? Do you want to speed up its delivery?
Do you want to have your baby placed on you straight after the birth? Sometimes the baby needs to be cleaned up before hand, if they have passed meconium for instance.
Are you planning on bottle or breast feeding your baby? If you do not want your baby to be given formula, you need to make this clear.

When should you write your plan?  You should write the birth plan before the 36 week stage of your pregnancy, in case your baby decides to put in an early performance! You should take it with you to one of your antenatal appointments and discuss it with your midwife. They can help you, in case you have forgotten to include anything.

The most important thing to remember?  No amount of research and planning will guarantee things will go according to your plan. A birth plan is helpful as it lets your midwife know your wishes and it helps you to think about what you want prior to the birth. Your midwife will be acting in the very best interests of your baby and you. At the end of the day, being a parent can be unpredictable- and that start’s from day 1!

Good luck if you are writing your birth plan at the moment. Have we left anything out? Let us know if you have anything else to add.

Help your toddler to tidy their toys!

07/10/2014


Does it seem like an impossible dream to have kids AND a tidy house? Believe it or not, the two aren’t necessarily exclusive! Try these ideas for a clean sweep!

Start young! Encourage your toddler to start tidying up their toys from an early age and it will be far easier for you and them then introducing the concept way down the line. Toddler’s like to “help” and will often mimic you when you clean house, for example. They feel a sense of achievement if they are seen to be helping. So harness this goodwill and get them to clean up their toys!
Be proud! Toddlers don’t have always have the necessary coordination to achieve so don’t expect perfection! Not everything will perhaps end up in the right place, but hey it beats being all over the floor!
Keep instructions simple Don’t make a task seem too big- none of us like to feel defeated before we start things! Best to ask for all the books to be put on the shelf or the play food to be put in the shopping basket.
Have a sort out! Think about reducing the number of toys you have, perhaps you have several of some toys and you might not really need them all!
Box them up! Nothing beats a good storage system at the end of the day. Top tip! Think about attaching a picture of the toys that go in each box. This will help your toddler learn to sort their toys into the right places, even if they can’t read yet.
Colour me happy! If things have really got messy and your toddler is showing a reluctance to help tidy up. Play a game with colour and get them to pick up everything that is red or green etc.
Be consistent! You need to get your toddler to understand tidying up their toys at the end of the day is part of their routine.
Make it fun! If your child is a little older you could set them a challenge, for example, who can pick up a certain number of toys in a certain amount of time.
Say thank you! Appreciate their help......
Reward their efforts- maybe after all the toys are tidied up you could settle down and read a story together for example.

What can you suggest? Have you any tried and tested ideas to help toddlers tidy up! If you have then please share..!

Mummy don’t go! Some way’s to deal with your toddler’s separation anxiety.

06/10/2014
It can be physically difficult ( ever tried walking with a toddler wrapped around your legs?! ) as well as emotionally difficult, to leave your baby in the care of someone else, when they are clearly showing how much they don’t not want you to go! However, we all do have to do just that at some point, so if you are dreading leaving your little one with a baby sitter or at nursery, then here are some useful ideas on how to overcome separation anxiety.

It’s all perfectly normal! Many children experience this emotion, with the peak time being between 8- 18 months and if accompanied by tears and clinginess it can be really hard for the parents too! Eventually your toddler will start to realise, when you leave them, you do come back. Separation anxiety tends to decrease as the child grows older, but it can surface again from time to time, for example if your child starts at a new nursery or with a new child minder.

Top tip! Don’t compare your child with others! We and they are all unique and there are no rules or set time scales. Try and remain calm and patient with your child, they will eventually grow out of this period. Fast forward to teenage years, when you will do anything to get them to spend time with you!

Why does separation anxiety happen?  Since they were born, you and your partner have been at the very centre of your baby’s world and as a result it can be scary for them to let go of you, as you represent all that is familiar to them. They depend on you for survival and have not yet understood there are other people who can also provide for their needs. You are their security blanket!

At this stage, toddlers do not understand the concept of time and so if mum or dad leaves the room even for a short time, it can feel far longer to your child. Try and convey the concept of time if possible, by breaking it down to timescales they can understand.

Top tip! Make sure you always say good-bye to your child rather than just slipping off, as by not doing so, you can increase their feeling of anxiety as they won’t know if you might simply disappear.

What can you do to help ease separation anxiety?

Always say good bye and never just slip away
Try and convey a sense of time, for example Mummy is going to take Jake to school and then come back and we can play.
If you know there is soon to be a time when you are leaving your toddler with someone else, try and prepare them by talking about the person who will be looking after them. For example Anne, who lives next door loves it when she hears you giggle or Grandma can’t wait to come and play with your new toys etc! ( Am sure you get the picture!)
Try not to let your own feelings show, if you are worried and upset, then your child who has best antennae for these things, will most definitely pick up on it!
If your child has a favourite stuffed toy or blanket then this can sometimes help as it acts as a kind of transitional object they can focus on and feel secure with, when you are not there.
Try and ensure your child has some time to settle down with the person looking after them, before you leave. Maybe they can be reading a book together.
Try and break down separations in to small periods at first, so they can get used to it slowly.

Have you any tips and ideas you can share?  

Blame it on the hormones! Skin changes during pregnancy

02/10/2014




Pregnancy brings glowing skin, right? Not always!

Blame it on the hormones!  

Your body is undergoing huge changes when you’re pregnant and sometimes these changes show outwardly, in the form of unwanted spots and blemishes. Or thank the hormones if you are experiencing a pregnancy glow! The hormonal changes and fluctuations means your skin will be more sensitive and some people find brown pigmentation spots start appearing on their skin. If you are pregnant, you should try to ensure you cover up more if you are in the sun, especially if you start to find you are prone to pigmentation patches. Freckles and moles tend to become darker too. Top tip! Wear sun block every day, especially on your face.

If you tend to be prone to suffer spots, you might find they increase during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester. This is because during pregnancy the sebaceous glands secrete more oil. Be careful when using any treatments as some might not agree with your baby. If you are concerned, always talk it through with your health visitor or GP. Top tip! Lemon and cider apple vinegar is a great home remedy for treating breakouts!

You might find your skin becomes drier in pregnancy, if this is the case, then use a richer emollient moisturiser. Try and keep skin moisturised, especially if it becomes extra dry and itchy.

Stretch Marks

It’s generally believed if you are going to get stretch marks you will anyway, regardless of how much you moisturise. They tend to appear around the second trimester and are typically found on the tummy, breasts and thighs. They usually fade in time. Limiting your weight gain can help, but if stretch marks run in your family, you wil probably find you can’t avoid them.





Big hair day?

You might feel you are growing more hair than normal, but it is more the case you are not losing it at the same rate as when you are not pregnant, coupled with the fact the hair tends to grow faster when you are pregnant.

Some women find they also start growing hair in unusual places too, but don’t worry if you start getting a hairy tummy- you’re not turning into a human yeti it’s all perfectly normal and things will return back to normal once you have given birth!

And don’t forget....



If the shoes fits.... tips on helping your baby put their best foot forward.

29/09/2014
It is SO exciting to buy your baby’s first shoes and SO tempting to rush into doing so when there is really no need. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of time- you will be buying shoes for many years to come!

If you want to buy some shoes, select the pre walking ones, they tend to have a grip on the bottom, which makes them less slippery than socks on indoor flooring. Perfect as your little one tries to find their feet indoors.

Before they start walking in earnest, shoes are really only helpful in keeping their feet warm or acting as a sock guard! You really only need to buy shoes when your little one is really confident on their feet and walking outside, otherwise it’s perfectly OK to let them toddle around indoors totally barefoot. Going without shoes is actually beneficial for their growing feet, because the bones in the foot are soft and you don’t want to restrict them with shoes unnecessarily. Top tip! Make sure you cut your babies toe nails regularly.

It is always best to got to a recognised shoe shop where they have professional fitters, that way you will know you are buying the right shoes for your baby, as the fitters have been trained to ensure they fit shoes correctly. It is vital for your baby’s growing feet to make sure they have shoes that fit them. At this stage the bones are not fully formed, so you do not want to damage them, leaving your baby with problem feet later on.

If your baby is not as happy as you at the prospect of getting their first shoes, don’t worry, maybe leave it and come back another day. Make sure you go back every 8 weeks to have their feet remeasured, as babies feet can grow pretty quickly. Keep a check on them at home.

You can choose whichever style suits you and your baby best at this stage. For example if you baby prefers to hot foot it out of there, then maybe choose shoes with a velcro strap, for speediness! Buckles or laces are also an option.

Check they have been done up properly when you baby is standing up as this is more accurate than if they are sitting down. Let you baby walk around the shop in order to get used to the shoes. The foot should not be able to move either backwards or forwards in the shoes. Take care to ensure socks and tights are on properly, as they can cause discomfort otherwise. Take a look at the Society of Podiatrists and Chiropodists tips on how to buy children’s shoes.





Via Pinterest 

Are you about to buy your baby’s first real shoes? Has your baby now outgrown them? Have you saved them as a keepsake? Any tips to share when it comes to taking your baby for their first shoe fitting?

Do you like this Keepsake idea?



via Pinterest



Keeping fit during pregnancy: Have you thought about swimming or trying aqua natal classes?

26/09/2014


Want to keep fit in pregnancy and meet other mum’s- to- be? Aqua natal classes are a great way of doing both. It is considered a safe way to exercise, as it has been developed especially for pregnant ladies and the majority of classes appear to be run by trained midwives. But you would need to double check who the classes are run by and the availability in your own area.

The water offers great support for both you and your bump, so is great place to exercise, as there is less risk of straining yourself. You don’t have to be a swimmer to join aqua natal classes, as they usually take place in the children’s pool, where the water only comes up to your chest.

If you have always swum, you can still carry on when you are pregnant. Swimming is a great way to improve circulation, increase muscle tone and strength as well as helping to build stamina. If you swam a lot before your pregnancy then you should be able to continue with your usual routine. Swimming is also  usually considered  a safe way  to exercise whilst pregnant, however, you should always double check first with your GP or midwife first , to be on the safe side and to make sure it is right for you. The most important thing to remember is not to over do things. Listen to your own body and do what’s right for you.

You can actually keep on swimming right up to the end of the third trimester, but not after your waters have broken- you only want a birthing pool delivery if you planned for it!

Floating and exercising in the water is so relaxing and can heave health benefits too, as if you are calm and happy, your body releases end endorphins, which helps to further relax and calm you and your baby!

Will you give it a go? What other forms of exercise can you recommend for pregnancy? Have you found this to be a great way of keeping fit during pregnancy?

Help raise funds for leading pregnancy charity Count the Kicks by recycling your unwanted items

23/09/2014


Feeling your baby kick for the first time is probably one of the most incredible feelings a mum can experience. Up until that point, you may have known a new life was growing inside of you, but to feel your baby move is truly magical and a great confidence boost for any mum-to-be.

From that moment onwards, you can monitor and feel reassured by your baby’s movements. Pregnancy, like everything to do with children, is unique to the individuals involved. Some babies will start moving from 18 weeks, whilst others will be later, the most important thing is for mum to start to recognise their baby’s own pattern. If the pattern changes, it is important to seek medical advice immediately.

The charity Count the Kicks, is one of the UK’s leading pregnancy charities. It aims to empower mums with the knowledge and confidence they need to monitor their baby’s movements throughout pregnancy. By doing so, the charity, which is run solely by volunteers, hopes to equip mums with vital knowledge to detect early warning signs and  drastically reduce the number of families that experience the tragedy of stillbirth in the UK. Sadly a heartbreaking 17 babies every single day.

We are sure if you could save a little life, you would in a heartbeat. Luckily, Count the Kicks, has made it easy for us all to help raise the money needed to fund this worthwhile campaign. All you need to do is recycle and let the charity turn your unwanted products into cash! Everyday products like baby wipe packets, baby food pouches, Tassimo coffee pods, sweet biscuit wrappers, used stamps, printer ink cartridges and clothes and shoes can all be swopped by the charity for much needed funds.

So if you are having have a clear out, if your baby has had a growth spurt or you no longer need those maternity trousers, then bag it up ready to be collected by one of the charity’s regional coordinator’s. Please spread the word and tell your friends to get recycling! Not only are you being eco-friendly, as the majority of these items would otherwise go to a landfill, you are helping to raise awareness and much needed funds that really can mean the difference between life and death. So lets’s all get moving.....and help all mums-to-be to Count the Kicks.

Pregnant? Take a look at this useful advice from Count the Kicks

Always call your midwife…

If you notice a change in your baby’s normal movement pattern
If you have any itching or a rash
If you have a temperature or fever
If you have any pain including headaches
If your vision becomes blurred or you see colours or patches
If your hands or feet become swollen or painful
If you have any fluid loss or bleeding
If you have pain passing urine
If you have a “bad feeling” or feel uneasy in any way



Understanding the 8 Shades of Baby Poo!

18/09/2014
When you were single, the idea of examining poo was probably as far away from your mind as flying to the moon! But once you enter parenthood, whether you like it or not, smelling for poo and examining it, becomes a very important activity. Changing nappies – can be compared to unwrapping birthday presents: you have a pretty good idea what’s inside, but once in a while, you get a big surprise. So, here’s the low down on the 8 shades of your baby’s poo.

Dark Olive Green/almost black – Baby poo this colour is normal within the first 48 hours after your baby is born. But for older babies, this could mean that they have eaten something dark (like liquorice or dark chocolates), or in very rare cases it could be due to a more worrying reason, that needs to investigated and eliminated. If your baby‘s poo is black and you do not think it’s done to the food they have eaten, see your GP or or speak to your Health Visitor.

Bright red – Again, the colour change may be due to red foods such as beets, raisins, cherries, or even certain medication. If food is not the culprit, your baby’s poo should start to go back to normal, when he has food of different colours. If it doesn’t change within 24 hours, it is a warning sign and you need to consult your GP.

Red streaks – This could be a sign of bleeding around your baby’s anus due to skin breaks around the area when your baby passes large hard stools. This is more likely to appear in babies who are on solids. Babies who are still exclusively on milk don’t tend to have very hard stools. You can help soften your baby’s poo by feeding her apricots, prunes, raisins or any high-fibre food like porridge.

Green – This is normal for breastfed babies during the first 3 months. Babies who are on solids may also have green poo if they eat food that are green, like spinach or broccoli or food high in iron. Green poo may also signal the presence of bile, which can be caused by an intestinal infection. However, in case of an infection, your baby will also exhibit other symptoms apart from the change in the colour of his poo. As long as your baby is comfortable and happy, green is nothing to worry about.

Yellow/ Brown – This is also a normal colour for babies, unless it is watery and accompanied by other symptoms like tummy cramps.

Chalky white – This could mean that your baby’s bile duct is blocked and there is no bile in the liver to digest his food.

It’s a snip! Cutting edge tips to make sure you baby’s first haircut isn’t a hair raising experience!

17/09/2014


A snip in time...

Whether your baby was born with a full head of hair or was bald as a billiard ball, one thing’s for sure, eventually they will need to have their first hair cut. So how do you manage to make things go smoothly? Some babies can be quite young, my friends daughter was born with so much hair, she looked like she was wearing a wig! She had her first hair cut at 17 weeks and went from a mousy brown to a blonde sensation overnight, as her roots were bright blonde and the ends were brown. Talk about a transforming haircut, she’s now almost 21 and still beautifully blonde!

A little heads up! So how do you know when the time is right to go for the first hair cut? If your baby’s hair is falling over their eyes, they are rocking the punk look or their luscious locks have turned into a tangled mess, then it’s probably best to make that first appointment. Many mum’s and dad’s feel reluctant to cut the curls, but at some stage you are going to have to- especially if you don’t want a little Max to be mistaken for a little Maxine!

Preparation is the key! If your baby is a little older, you could encourage some pretend play at home first. For example they could “ cut” your hair or perhaps act out the scenario with their toys. You could also rehearse by doing a spot of role playing with your baby. Pop them in a chair, wrap a towel around their shoulders and use your fingers to make a “cut”. This is a good way of explaining to them what will happen.

Top tip! Do not talk about having their hair cut, but hair trims instead. I guess none of us like the sound of having our hair cut off!

Pick your salon and stylist! Try and pick a salon and stylist you already know. If this is not an option, ask other mum’s who they tend to use. Perhaps look at some child salons, if you have any in the area. Sometimes hairdressers will do block bookings at kids play centres too. Whatever you do, choose a salon used to dealing with young ones, as you and your child will feel more relaxed in a child friendly environment!

Book the right slot! Avoid booking appointments too close to nap or meal times. You can look at booking shortly after, but never before! A hungry, tired toddler does not make for a relaxed salon experience! It might be best to book as early morning appointment, following the rested sleep you have all had the night before!!

Top tip! Call the salon before you arrive to make sure the stylist is on time, as you don’t want to prolong your visit unnecessarily.

Keep baby occupied Make sure you bring a favourite toy or book for your child to have whilst they are sitting in the chair, as this will help make them feel happy and occupied. Maybe have a snack or two to hand as well!

Keep calm! If your child is not happy to sit on the chair, maybe it will be better to pop them on your lap for this visit. Try not to get agitated or your child will pick up on this. The most important thing you want to achieve, is your child finds the hairdressing experience a happy one - as hair does grow back, which means return visits! If your child is reluctant to wear a cape, you might need to pop one on too!

Don’t leave without a lock or two! A lock from your baby’s first haircut is something you will want to treasure forever, so don’t forget to take a bag with you to collect a few precious samples! Put them in your child’s baby book, with the date and maybe add how they behaved during the event!

Have you any tips you might like to share with us? How was your baby’s first haircut? Are you a hairdresser, what advice can you give?

Sweet Dreams! Tips on how to manage your child’s transition from cot to bed.

14/09/2014
There aren’t any hard and fast rules when it comes to moving your baby from a cot into a bed. There isn’t for example, any need to rush things if your baby is sleeping well in their cot.

For some children it can be a little tricky to manage the transition, as they feel safe and secure in the familiar surroundings of their cot. However, like with many things involving children, time and patience is the key!

The Great Escape!

Most parents will decide it’s time for a change, when the baby shows signs of trying to climb over the bars and out of their cot. However, if you feel he or she, is not ready to make the move to a bed yet, try lowering the mattress in the cot, as this will make it harder to climb out. Make sure there aren’t any toys or cot bumpers they are using to give them extra height. Try and catch them in the act and be very firm about the fact they are not allowed to climb out of the cot.

First in, first out?!

For some, it can be a matter of practicality, a new baby is on the way or the child has simply outgrown the cot.

Top tip!  If you are moving your little one, because a new baby brother or sister is on the way, make sure you plan the move a month or two before the baby is due to take up residence! You want to avoid any possible resentment forming if they feel they are being ousted from their cot to make way for a new sibling.

Get ready for bed!

What type of bed are you thinking of getting for your child? If you are not keen on a regular sized bed, maybe take a look at the other options around. Some beds can be quite low off the ground, some are shaped like cars, some have special guard rails. Think what might be the most suitable for your child.





Making the changes

Involve your child as much as is possible, depending on their age. You could for example allow them to help you pick out some new bedding. What’s their favourite colour, TV or book character? Allowing them to make some of the choices, can really help, especially if the move coincides with their growing independence!

Bring in the toys!

Add a few of their favourite teddies and stuffed toys to help them feel at home in their new bed.

Double up!

If your child’s room is big enough, try setting up the new bed in there, whilst the cot is still up. Get them used to lying on it, whilst you read them a bed time story. This does help allow your child to gradually adapt to the new set up, but we appreciate not all rooms will be big enough to accommodate this suggestion.

Be patient!

Not all children welcome change. Maintaining your bedtime routine will help and being as encouraging as possible, so they associate positive thoughts with the new sleeping arrangements.

Not staying put??

Your child will soon discover they have a new set of freedoms, in so much as they can climb out of bed and start wandering around their room. If you are worried, they might start to wander around, try putting a stair gate in the doorway. This at least confines them to their room, without having the door closed. If they do start getting out of bed, try and break any pattern forming by incentivising good behaviour i.e. staying put will be rewarded by an extra bedtime story.

Top Tip!  Make sure you have thoroughly child proofed their room, for examples all electric sockets should be covered with a special child proof cover and windows should have child proof locks on, in order to avoid unnecessary accidents.

Have you any suggestions on how to make the transition from cot to bed? What worked for you? Let us know, we’d love to hear from you!

Suffering from morning sickness? We’ve rounded up some remedies to help combat nausea in pregnancy

08/09/2014
Firstly, just why is it called morning sickness?! For some mums-to-be, it’s morning, noon and night sickness! Nausea in pregnancy varies enormously from person to person, with approximately 50% experiencing actual vomiting.

Motherhood is a roller coaster alright!

Although, the exact cause of morning sickness is not officially known, most experts agree it’s partly down to the hormone cocktail that is bombarding your body! It’s a sign your pregnancy hormones are high enough to allow your baby to develop and grow.

However, if you are NOT experiencing morning sickness- DO NOT WORRY! You might be one of the lucky 30% of mums-to- be who don’t experience any nausea!

It might seem like it’s never going to pass- but it does! Morning sickness usually starts around 5 weeks and ends between 12 - 14 weeks. It depends on which hormone is causing you the problem!

Other triggers

You can also feel more nausea if you are hungry, tired, stressed, or of course, if you are expecting more than one baby as the hormone levels will be higher!

Get help if you need it

Get help, if you are vomiting several times a day and can’t keep any food or drink down. If this is the case contact your GP or Midwife straightaway as severe vomiting can lead to dehydration, which might require hospital treatment.

What can you do to combat it?



Bring on the carbs! Eat little and often as getting too hungry can trigger the sickness. Try snacking on high zinc content snacks, like seeds or wholemeal bread or high -carbohydrate and high protein foods like, almonds, pretzels, granola cereals. Avoid greasy and fatty foods as these can make you feel worse.

Bring on the Zest! Fresh lemon has a natural calming effect and can help reduce the nausea. Try squeezing fresh lemon juice into some water and drinking it first thing in the morning. You can mix it with ginger and mint if you like too. If that doesn’t appeal you can just try smelling the lemon peel as it’s freshness can overcome the smells which sometimes trigger the nausea.

Get minted and pick up a peppermint! Peppermint helps to calm the stomach, try peppermint tea. If you want, you can make it fresh by using some peppermint leaves in boiling water, leaving them to infuse for about 10 minutes and then straining them, before drinking the tea. Just sucking on mints can help or put some drops of essential peppermint oil on a tissue and inhale.

Bring on the ginger! Ginger is considered by many as the most effective natural remedy to relieve nausea. It doesn’t really matter in what form you take it. Try it raw, as ginger ale, in a capsule or have a cup of ginger tea. (Try and avoid relying too heavily on ginger biscuits though, as they are not as healthy! ) Anyway, the choice is yours! It’s not for everyone though and some people might find it aggravates the nausea, rather than relieves it.

Everyday Roots has some lovely ginger tea and ginger ale recipes to try if you would like to.

 Get cracking on the crackers! Crackers are easy on the stomach and can help stop the feeling of nausea. Maybe keep a small supply in your handbag so you can eat them whenever you want throughout the day.

Chomp on some crisps! Be careful not too over indulge, but it’s OK to eat crisps as the salt actually helps to dry up the saliva, which can help relieve the nausea if you are producing too much of it. Choose fat free varieties if you prefer.

Lastly, focus on the end result! 





Have you any tips you can share? Not everything will work for everyone, keep going until you find the best remedy for you.

If all else fails take a deep breath!

Relaxing and keeping calm, listening to your body and taking it easy, can also go a long way to relieving your nausea.

Questions to ask on your maternity hospital tour

02/09/2014
Have you decided to have your baby in hospital? If your maternity unit offers a pre birth tour then take them up on it, as it’s a great way to help you prepare for your baby’s birth and can help you feel less anxious. If there is more than one hospital in your area it can help you decide which one might be more suitable for you. Your midwife can help you decide too. Some hospitals also offer a virtual tour of their maternity units via the internet.

So what questions should you ask?

Who is allowed in to the delivery room with you?
Are they allowed to stay with you the whole time? If not, why would this happen?
Can you move around during labour? What birth aids to they have available? Some hospitals may offer birth/fit balls, floor mats, beanbags and other items to help during labour. If they do, ask how many are available – sometimes these items are shared and you can miss out on the day.
Can you bring your own music in and any essential oils you might want to use during labour?
What pain relief is available? Do you need to hire a TENS machine beforehand?
What about the hospitals policy on induction, routine monitoring and pain relief in general?
Do they offer epidurals?
Do they offer breast feeding support? What happens if you have decided to feed your baby formula?
Will your baby be kept with you at all times? Are there times when a baby is separated from their mum? If so, why?
What is security like?
How soon will you be expected to go home after the birth?
What are the rules surrounding visitor hours?
What is the hospital’s caesarean rate? Not all hospitals are the same, by finding out the caesarean section rate of a hospital, you’ll get a better idea of what sort of births go on there, and what kind of births the staff are used to supporting. The same goes for induction rates.
Do they have a birthing pool?
Are you allowed to film or take photos of the birth?
Have these questions helped? Have we missed any out? Please share your thoughts and let us know.

Worried your baby might be constipated? Here are some ways to relieve your baby’s constipation

29/08/2014
Ah the joy of parenthood. I bet that in your pre-baby days, it never occurred to you that someone else’s bowel movement would worry you. In fact, it would not only worry you but it will occupy your thoughts for most of your baby’s first year. And quite rightly so. Bowel movement may not be a pleasant topic, but it’s an important determining factor of your baby’s health.

Normal bowel movement signals good health. However, ‘normal’ can vary from person to person. Unlike adults,  a baby’s bowel movement can be irregular. Breastfed babies tend to have more frequent bowel movement than bottle-fed babies. Some babies may have bowel movement several times a day, while others may have as little as once a week. So, if you baby doesn’t have a poo within 24 hours, it doesn’t necessarily mean he is constipated. On the other hand, it’s not impossible for a two-week old baby to suffer from constipation.

If you suspect that your baby is constipated here are some tips to help get things moving!

Give your baby fibre-rich food

If your baby is already on solid diet, try introducing a fibre-rich food. Instead of feeding your baby rice cereal, try porridge and other high fibre food. Fruits such as pureed prunes, apples, strawberries, pear and grapes are high in fibre and are known to effectively relieve constipation. If your baby is still on milk and you are breastfeeding, try increasing your fibre intake.

Check your baby’s formula

Some babies may be sensitive to a particular ingredient of the formula he is taking, which causes constipation. Changing the formula to something else, like lactose free or specialised milk for babies will most likely stop any constipation.

Increase water intake. Give your baby water in between feeding. This will help soften your baby’s poo.

Gentle massage. Gently massage your baby’s tummy in a circular motion. This can help his bowel move to his intestines for easy way out. Moving your baby’s legs in cycling motion can also do the trick. Lay your baby on his back, hold his legs and move them gently as if he is cycling. The motion will move his stomach muscle, which in turn put gentle pressure on his intestine and help push content through.

Give your baby a warm bath. This can help relax your baby, allowing stools to pass easily. You can combine it with gentle massage.

Never, at any point, use rectal stimulation. Some mothers insert the end of a Q-tip or thermometer on their babies’ bottom to remove compacted poo. And found that it worked. However, it’s never advisable as it can damage the anal lining and cause injury.

If you’ve tried everything suggested above, and you still feel that your baby is constipated, it’s best to contact your GP or Health Visitor.

Have you considered prenatal yoga as a way of keeping fit in pregnancy?

28/08/2014
Prenatal yoga classes are more popular than ever before and a great way to keep in shape during your pregnancy. Judging by the snaps of actress Mila Kunis on the way to prenatal yoga class, we can confirm this appears to be true!

Coupled with regular walking to ensure you keep up with your cardiovascular exercise, this is a great physical activity to think about choosing, as it helps to keep you limber, tones your muscles, and improves your balance and circulation. Yoga has the added benefit of helping you to learn to breathe deeply and relax- two important skills to acquire before going in to labour and ok, for motherhood too!

There are lots of classes offering prenatal yoga, maybe take a look on NetMums to see if there are any near to you. They are a great way of meeting other mums-to-be and you will probably feel happier if you are being taught by an instructor, especially if you are not used to practicing yoga.

So what are the benefits?

Self Centre! As your baby grows and your bump gets bigger, your balance can be affected, this can also be a result of general tiredness too! The breathing you learn in yoga class can help you listen to your body and keep you centered!
Keep strong! Yoga poses also help to strengthen your hips, back, arms and shoulders. Very useful for lugging all that baby equipment, plus baby, once your child is born too!
Stress Buster! Our bodies obviously change and become under a certain amount of stress as the pregnancy continues. As our abdomen and breasts enlarge our upper back and chest can experience more tension, due to the increased weight and pressure on them. Yoga can help to relieve this tension in the lower back, hip, chest, upper back, neck and shoulders.
Keeping calm and carrying on! Deep breathing is known to have a calming effect on your nervous system and aids relaxation, promoting good digestion and better sleep. Great preparation for the main event! As we said before, the breathing you learn in yoga can really help during the labour itself. As you inhale, you acknowledge the tension that is felt, as you deeply exhale, you let go of the tension. Keeping calm and relaxed during the birth is good for you and your baby.
Bonding with the bump! Prenatal yoga allows you the time to focus your sole attention on the baby growing inside you. Each breath and pose helps you to connect and become even more aware, of the what’s going on, on the other side of your bump! (Ok, we hear you... the indigestion, morning sickness and kicks are also subtle and not so subtle reminders!)
Make new friends! A great way to meet other mums-to-be!
“Me and mini me time” .

Going to the classes will allow you time to slow down and take a break from our routine. They give you a chance to take care of yourself and your growing baby.If you are unsure about starting prenatal yoga, have a chat with your GP, Midwife or Practice Nurse. The general consensus appears to be it is safe to try in all trimesters, although some professionals advise waiting until the second trimester. Everyone and every body is different, always listen to yours. Have your tried prenatal yoga? Did you enjoy it? Did you find the techniques you learnt helped with your labour?

Tips on how to prepare your child for the first day of nursery school

22/08/2014
It probably seems like five minutes ago, you were preparing for your baby to be born and now your child is preparing to start nursery school! How is it, time seems to fly by so quickly once you are a parent....





Starting nursery school can seem a bit daunting, not only for your child, but also for you, as parents. It’s natural to feel a little anxious as you want him or her to be able to get off to the very best of starts. You might need to keep a tissue at the ready, but try and keep it hidden until after the nursery doors shut, as your child will pick up on your anxiety and upset.

The majority of children can’t wait to get inside and explore what’s behind those doors. Of course, there will always be one or two children who might feel a little shy and not as keen to leave mum’s side, but you will find the nursery teachers and staff know lots of ways to help them feel relaxed.

So what can you do before The Big Day arrives?

The most important thing you can do for your child is to BE POSITIVE! Starting nursery school is an important milestone in your child’s life and they will be wondering what it might be like and what’s going to happen there.

Preparation is the key!  It’s really important to take the time to prepare your child for nursery, by talking about what they can expect. A great way to do this is to read “Starting Nursery School” books from the library. There are plenty of these to choose from and you will be able to pick out all the fun activities shown, as a starting point for conversations and address any worries they might raise. Ask them what activities they are looking forward to doing the most, when they start school.

Home-Visits

Many schools now offer a home-visit to allow the nursery teacher to meet the child within their own home setting. Take them up on this, if it is offered to you, as it allows you and your child to meet the teacher in a relaxed environment. You can also raise any concerns you might have with them, for example if your child still has accidents during the day or if you are anxious about how they might settle in. Meeting the teacher before they start school, will really help to reassure your child, as they will recognise them on the day itself, which can make things easier. If a home-visit is not possible, see if it is possible to arrange a quick visit to the school and if possible meet the teacher then. It will help your child settle in quicker if they have seen where the coat pegs or the toilets are for example.

Some schools offer a "taster” session" during the first week or so of nursery. This is when you and your child will be invited in to the nursery, giving you a chance to chat to staff and your child the chance to meet and play with their new classmates! Following these sessions, the children will start being integrated into the nursery. Most nursery schools stagger this, as it helps the children to be not so overwhelmed and encourages a smoother transition.

What else can you do to prepare your child?

Encourage your child to be as independent as possible before they start. Make this as easy as you can for them, for example, choose clothes that are easy to do up or pull up and down, when they need to go to the toilet. Choose shoes that have velcro ties, not laces or buckles. Teach them how to wipe their nose with a tissue!

Teach them to go to the toilet by themselves and how to clean up afterwards! If your child still has the occasional accident, tell the staff beforehand and include a spare set of clothing in their bag. Make sure they know how to wash their hands, this is really important as apart from a basic hygiene must, there are invariably lots of bugs that float around and these can be picked up easily.

Try and teach your child to recognise their own name before they start, so they can know what tray or clothes peg is theirs. But don’t worry if they can’t, you will probably have been asked to supply a photo or two of your child and the staff will have put the photo together with their name on these things, which will help your child know what’s theirs.

On the day!

Leave plenty of time to get to the nursery, you don’t want to rush your child and make things stressful. Make sure you have packed their bag the night before and everything is at hand.

Tip: Label everything with their name, from shoes to socks to coats and jumpers!

Some nursery schools won’t mind you coming into the cloakroom area and helping your child to locate their coat peg and showing them where to go and sit, but do not stay any longer than necessary, as this will have the opposite effect and not help your child to settle quickly.

Play nice and say hello to the other parents! Don’t forget everyone is feeling the same and it will help to break the ice.

Smile! Try not to cry in front of your child as this will upset your child and ultimately confuse them, as you have spent lots of time telling them what a wonderful time they are going to have!

Collect on time! Make sure you are on time for pick up! You don’t want to make your child feel anxious that you are not coming back. But equally, don’t turn up too early and hang around outside, as your child will probably see you and want to leave earlier than they should!

Don’t forget to take a photo of them on their first day, as this will definitely be a day you will want to remember. The first of many firsts in learning to let go ( you and them!).

Good luck! Let us know if you have any helpful tips or stories you want to share.

New mummy? Whole new level of tiredness! Some ideas on how to overcome new mum exhaustion

20/08/2014
You couldn’t wait to see you baby’s face and welcome them into the world and now he or she has arrived, you are finding it hard to concentrate on them through the fog of new mum exhaustion! I don’t think anything can really prepare you for the tiredness that goes hand in hand with becoming a new parent. Not even your BC ( before children!) days when you maybe partied all night and went in to the office the next day!

So what kind of tactics can you adopt to help you through these early few months?





Enjoy your forty winks!  Don’t try and fit in chores when your baby has their mid morning or afternoon nap, go and have a lie down too. It’s amazing how refreshed a little nap can leave you feeling. Listen to your body and if you need to rest, then rest!

Take the pressure off!  Don’t worry about appearances- forget trying to be super mum! No one expects you or your house to look exactly the same way as you and maybe it did before your baby arrived! There is so much to adjust to when you first become a mum, fitting in to pre-pregnancy jeans and having a spotless house shouldn’t feature on your radar.

One at a time please! Or perhaps two by two... manage your visitors! Everyone is excited about the arrival of a new baby and everyone naturally wants to come and see him or her. That’s wonderful of course, but it can also be quite exhausting for a new mum to cope if you feel you need to play hostess too. The best visitors are the ones that don’t stay over long and are happy to make YOU a cup of tea! I know I will always be grateful to a very dear friend of mine, who used to visit and bring a home cooked dish for our dinner.

Get out of the PJ’s and into the shower! Try and nip in to the shower or get dressed when you wake up as this can have a powerful psychological affect on your mood for the day and your ability to cope.

Fresh is always best! Take your baby out for a spin in their new pram and enjoy a walk around the block. Being out in the open, a trip to the local park or the shops to buy a pint of milk can really make you feel better, as you will feel rejuvenated by the change of scene.

Share the cuddles! Don’t forget to involve your partner in helping with the baby. If this is not possible, ask a family member if they can help out for an hour, so you can have a mini break. Making time for yourself can really make a difference to the way you cope in those early days.





Make the most of those L-Plates! You are a new mum, you don’t have to know the answer to everything! Don’t be afraid to ask others for help and advice, you will probably find people want to share their advice and experiences with you! (You might want to embrace selective hearing at this point!) Remember everyone was a new parent at one time or other and we all learn by experience.

Be a yummy mummy! Eating well will help you cope far better than skimping on the calories, when it comes to combating newborn fatigue. So scrap the diet plans and tuck into foods that will release some much needed energy. for example wholemeal pasta or nuts. These contain starch which helps overcome drowsiness and can give you longer lasting energy.

Take a look at these energy boosting food suggestions from mother amp; baby.

Have you any tips to share with us? If you have gone on to have more children, did you find your experience coping with new baby exhaustion was different second or third time around?

Tips on how to prepare your child for the birth of a new baby

18/08/2014


If you thought the arrival of your first baby would bring about lots of changes to your family unit- just wait until you add one or two more to the fold! The birth of a new baby is always a wonderfully exciting time and it is easy for us as parents, to get caught up in the preparations that go with it. Even after the birth, it is easy to focus on the new baby’s needs, as much of our time and attention will be devoted to the latest addition to the family. All this can sometimes be a little hard for an older sibling to cope with and it is not uncommon for them to display jealousy towards the newborn.

It is well worth taking the time then to prepare your older child in advance as much as possible, for the changes that will take place.

Here our some of our  top tips!

Say it loud and say it proud! ( But just make sure you tell your older child before anyone else in the family!) It is really important you tell your child you are expecting a baby and they do not hear it from anyone else in the family first. They will love to be included and will feel very special if they are part of such an important announcement to other members of your family.

Connections Count! Encourage your older child to feel connected to the new baby. Use words such as “ our baby” “ your brother/sister” , the greater the feeling of ownership towards the baby, the lesser the chances they will feel displaced by the new arrival.

Begin with the beginning! Involve them during the pregnancy stage, read books about childbirth and talk about possible baby names you all like. Let them help pack your hospital bag and include a photo of them, so they know you will be thinking about them too. Set the stage during this time, by explaining how mummy will feel more tired and how the new baby will need help to feed and get changed as they can’t do it for themselves.

Top tip! Sort out who your child will be left with when you go into labour, make sure they feel comfortable with your choice and are happy and excited to be left there. You don’t want them to feel unhappy and resentful if you make the wrong choice, as this will spill over to negative thoughts about the baby’s arrival.

Number One Visitor! Try and ensure if at all possible, your child is the first visitor to see the new baby. Make sure you show him or her lots of affection, rather than being too preoccupied with the new baby. This will help reassure any worries they might have.

Gifts! It’s always a good idea for the big brother or sister to be given some presents as well as the baby! They don’t have to be big or expensive. And make sure they have bought a present for the baby too. Choosing something can be part of your preparations prior to the birth.

Little helpers Try involving your child as much as is possible and practical. For example, let them help you choose some items before the baby is born. They could pick out a new baby blanket or some scratch mittens or a mobile for the cot. Once the baby is born, they can help you with some simple tasks. These could include, fetching a burp cloth at feeding time or a nappy or baby wipe during changing time. Children love to be involved and it will really help if they can feel included in the caring and nurturing surrounding a newborn as this will lessen the problem of jealousy.

Toy story! Maybe give your child a new baby doll to care for to coincide with the new arrivals birth. They will enjoy playing mum or dad and mimicking what you do.

Cuddles and kisses! If your older child is too young to be able to offer practical help, they can still be encouraged to interact with the new baby, by giving plenty of cuddles and kisses ( gentle ones of course!). Let your child hold the baby when they are sitting down carefully. Make sure you explain how important it is to be extra careful around a newborn baby and how they need to be very gentle, but try not to worry them unduly. Don’t forget, young children will need close supervision at all times, when it comes to any involvement with the baby.

Wardrobe assistant! Why not let your child pick out what baby grow the baby can wear after bath time or if they need a change of clothes following a nappy change! Or what Funky Giraffe bandana goes with which outfit!

Reading matters! You can also get your child to read to the baby, even if they can’t read yet, they can still tell a story from a picture book. They will feel extra grown up doing this, especially if reading is part of their own bed time routine.

Singing the praises! Don’t forget to make a fuss about all the things your older child can do, the baby can’t yet. He or she needs to know they have an important role in the family. You can say things like, “ I love it when we read together” or “ you are so helpful when you get your brother’s bib at feeding time”. Try and note specific things he or she does, as this helps to reinforce their place in the family. You can point out how grown up they are compared to the baby, for example, they can go on the swings or even that they eat real food! Praising all the little things he or she can do will help them to realise they are special too. Don’t forget to be positive about the baby - for example when the baby reaches any milestones, such as sleeping through the night. This helps engender a sense of pride in the older brother or sister towards their younger sibling.

Set aside some me and you time! We know it can sometimes be hard to achieve, but try and ensure you set aside some alone time to spend with your older child. If possible, try and include your partner as well. This really will help to remind them them, mummy and daddy loves the new baby AND them. You don’t need to make elaborate plans, maybe a trip to the park or playing a favourite game with them.

Memories are made of this! Children love to hear about how they were as a baby. Why not show them their own baby book if you have one or some photos of when they were smaller. It is a really good idea to ask questions like, “ I wonder if the new baby will have the same colour hair as you” or maybe “ do you think you needed as many nappy changes as the new baby?!”

Avoid big transitions: Avoid any difficult stages like potty training or graduating to a “ big bed” too close to the baby’s birth as you don’t want them associated with the new baby and you might also feel too tired to be as patient as needed!

Have you any ideas or tips on how to prepare older children for the birth of a new baby? We would love to see some photos of some special sibling love!

Photo No sibling rivalry here

Expecting a baby? Here’s a good way to work out your due date

14/08/2014


Calculating your due date is never a precise science. Unless you can pin point the exact date and time of your conception, you’ll not get an exact date of delivery. Even then, don’t expect your baby to arrive on the appointed date. He or she may decide to come early or a bit later. However, you do need to have some idea when to expect labour, so you can prepare.

Why is it important to calculate your due date?

When you see your midwife for your first antenatal check-up, she’ll calculate your due date. Your due date will not only help her schedule future appointments, but it is important in monitoring your baby’s development. At every stages of your pregnancy, your unborn baby is expected to reach milestones. For example, at five weeks, your baby’s heart should start to beat. Without knowing your due date, medical professionals will not know whether your baby is progressing as expected.

Your midwife will also schedule a dating scan to confirm your due date. Although a dating scan is more accurate than the traditional method of working out due dates, it’s still not completely accurate.

How to calculate your due date

There are lots of online parenting sites that offer a due date calculator. But if you prefer to calculate it yourself, you will be happy to know, it isn’t that difficult. To work out your due date, you can use the following formula: Estimated Date of Delivery = Date your last period started – 3 Months + 7 Days.

The formula is referred to as the Naegele’s Rule. It’s named after Dr. Franz Naegele who devised it. It’s a method traditionally used by midwives. And it’s the same formula used in online calculators. However, the assumptions in the formula are problematic assumptions. For example, it assumes that you have a twenty-eight day cycle, that you ovulated on the fourteenth day of your cycle, and that each month has equal days. As we all know, every woman is different! And so are babies, some will be in a hurry to arrive, some will be punctual and some will invariably be late! Still, using the formula gives you a rough date on when to expect your baby.

Good luck!

Ideas on how to capture and record your baby’s first year.

12/08/2014
One things for sure, time ( and children) never stand still! If you have recently become a new parent, you simply won’t believe how the time passes from birth to one  year old, in what seems like a blink of an eye.

So how do you recall every special moment of that all important first year of your baby’s life?

Last year, one devoted dad from Hampshire, photographer Sam Cornwell, managed to do just that, by capturing on video, a second from every single day of his one-year-old son’s life. Needless to say, this moving seven-minute film, entitled, A Second a Day from Birth became an internet sensation!  Take a look and  see why!

So that got us thinking, what other ideas are out there?  We know there is a lot to adjust to, when you first become a parent, so try and choose something you’ll find easy to fit in with your routine. It might not suit you to document a detail from each day, so just record something once a month!

Write a mummy ( or daddy) journal

We’re not talking writing a mini version of Tolstoy’s War and Peace here- just a line or two each day, recalling a small part of your baby’s day! For example, they might have slept in their cot for the first time, rather than a moses basket or actually slept for that matter! Or they recognised mummy’s or daddy’s voice for the first time, waved bye-bye or ate from a spoon. It doesn’t matter what you choose -small things all add up to create a great snapshot of your baby’s first year.

Take one special toy

Choose one of your baby’s favourite toys, maybe a teddy bear given at birth and take a photo of your baby alongside it, at the same time each month. What about choosing the date your baby was born on? This is a lovely way to document how fast your baby is growing, as you can do a side-by side comparison.

Building blocks and chalk boards



Via Pinterest

Why not use wooden building blocks or a chalk board to show your baby’s age in a photo.

We’ve been here before ( aka the deja vu montage!)

This is a sweet and simple idea, just take a photo of your baby on the same date each month and in the same place. Try making sure the background is suitable, for example by putting your baby on the same sofa or chair, you will be able to visually see how much he or she is growing in comparison to it.

Make the headlines!

OK, not all of our babies are destined to hit the headlines, but we like this idea of using key headlines throughout your baby’s first year and putting them in a scrapbook, alongside a photo of your baby. Especially good news for all those future historians out there! You can choose a specific date each month and cut out any major stories about what’s happening in the world around them.

Make a memory box





Via Pinterest

If taking a photo is not for you, how about creating a memory box? Add anything you feel is of significance, this could be your baby’s hospital ID bracelet or their first bandana or babygrow. According to one survey carried out on UK mums, some of us like to keep the oddest reminders! Take a look at the list below!

Boots / mittens: 56 per cent

Umbilical cord / clip: 32 per cent

Teeth: 28 per cent

Pregnancy test: 19 per cent

Dummies: 18 per cent

1st birthday candle: 16 per cent

Teddy bear: 12 per cent

Maternity clothes worn during labour: 11 per cent

Lock of hair: 11 per cent

Bowls and spoons:10 per cent

Stained bibs: 9 per cent

Slice of christening cake: 3 per cent

Nail clippings: 1 per cent

First dirty nappy: less than 1 per cent

SOURCE: DottyBingo.com poll of 500 UK mothers (2012)

Blog it!

Become a mummy ( or daddy) blogger! This is a great way of recording your thoughts on being a parent, documenting and celebrating your baby’s first year ( and beyond) and connecting with other mums and dads. And who knows- maybe even reviewing some Funky Giraffe bandanas and bibs on your blog too!

Make a Memory Quilt

Making a patchwork record of your baby’s first year is a lovely thing to do. You could include the baby grow they wore when they first slept through the night or the bib they wore, when they first tried solids, or the hat they came home in from hospital. Any fabric item you want to include is fine. Your child will love to hear the story behind the quilt when they are older.

Involve siblings!

If you have an older child, why not ask the baby’s big brother or sister to “write” the baby a letter or draw a picture for them each month? This could be a lovely way of them recording how they feel or what they have observed about the baby during the first year. You might have to write an interpretation on the back, but it is still a lovely way to involve an older child and will also help them to see and understand how the baby is growing and changing.

It’s worth it! Whatever you choose to do, it is worth it in the end when you look back in the years to come.

Over to you!  Have you already documented your baby’s first year? Did you choose any of these ideas? If not, do you think you might? Don’t forget to let us know if you have any other ideas you want to share.

What You Need To Know About Mastitis

07/08/2014
Having a full breast and being unable to feed your baby or express milk with a pump, is uncomfortable, even painful at times. But the discomfort is nothing compared to the agony of mastitis. Having mastitis is a wretched experience. And if it turns infectious, you can end up experiencing flu like symptoms, which is not ideal, if you are already suffering from lack of sleep and caring for a demanding baby.

On the bright side, non-infectious mastitis is easy to deal with. On the gloomy side, you can have mastitis more than once, and if you don’t deal with it quick enough, it can turn infectious.

What is mastitis?

Mastitis is the inflammation of the breast, which usually affects just one breast. It is most common in breastfeeding mothers, although mums who bottle-feed may also suffer with it. Mastitis is not an uncommon illness. In fact, in the UK, around 1 in 3 breastfeeding mums suffered from mastitis at some point. It commonly occurs during the first 6 months of your baby’s life. However, some mothers reported suffering with it when their baby was a year old and even after they had stopped breastfeeding.

Causes

Mastitis can be caused by milk stasis or blocked ducts. Milk stasis happens when your breast is not properly emptied during breastfeeding. This could happen for a number of reasons such as:

Your baby is feeding infrequently or missing his feeds – such as when your baby starts sleeping through the night.

Your baby prefers one breast over the other – it is not uncommon for a baby to be more comfortable feeding in a particular position, thus making prefer to feed on either the left or right breast. When this happens, the other breast will not be emptied properly.

Your baby is not latching properly – which means that your baby can’t properly feed, and therefore can’t empty your breast.

Your baby has sucking problems – some babies could have a physical problem that stops them from sucking properly, like having tongue-tie (a birth defect in which the skin that attaches to the base of his mouth is unusually tight and short.)

Pressure on your breast – sleeping on your front, wearing tight fitting clothes or restrictive bras can put pressure on your breasts, and can clog your ducts, causing your breast to inflame.

 Symptoms of mastitis include:

Hard breast

Breast is hot to touch

Redness

Sore nipples

Swelling breast

If you are suffering from infectious mastitis, you may also experience flu-like symptoms such as:

Headache

Chills

High temperature above 38.5 degrees Celsius

Exhaustion

Treatment

Most cases of non-infectious mastitis are easily treated by simply resting, drinking plenty of fluids and adjusting your baby’s feeding technique and routine. To reduce the swelling of your breast, you can apply a cool flannel over the affected area or massage it. Soaking in a warm bath can also remove the blockage.

Additionally, you can also take Paracetamol or ibuprofen to reduce the pain and inflammation. Make sure that you GP, midwife or health visitor knows that you are suffering from mastitis so they can keep an eye for any complications.

Infectious mastitis has to be treated with an antibiotic, so you need to see your GP.

Breastfeeding with Mastitis

Breastfeeding whilst suffering with mastitis is very uncomfortable, but it is ok to continue. It will not affect your baby. Your milk will taste saltier than it usually is, but it is safe for baby to drink. Bacteria in the milk are harmless and your baby’s digestive system will simply absorb it. In fact, it is important to continue feeding because it will help remove the milk from your breast, and clear up the symptoms quicker, as well as helping to prevent the mastitis from turning severe.

Toothless fun - do you believe in the tooth fairy?

04/08/2014


How did the tooth fairy get her wings?

Some people believe the tradition started with the Vikings, as a necklace made of teeth was considered good luck when a warrior went in to battle and so money would exchange hands for teeth! Others say the tradition started in ancient times when children were encouraged to bury their teeth in the ground, to prevent an evil witch or wizard finding them and entrapping the children. If this is the case, I can see how a “good “ tooth fairy would be needed!

What’s your view?

Not all parents are in agreement, as to whether or not they should perpetuate the myth of the tooth fairy, when it comes to their own children. Most believe it’s a fun way to make childhood magical, whilst others don’t wish their children to be set up for disappointment, when they eventually realise the truth. Do you enjoy playing the tooth fairy? Maybe your baby is only just starting to teethe- can you imagine this reverse scenario? Or every parents headache - you only have a five pound note in your purse or wallet and the tooth fairy is due?!

Are you ever too old to want to find some cash under your pillow?!

The majority of children continue to lose their teeth until they are 12 years of age! This can leave many parents wondering if they should continue the tooth fairy tradition — or if their kids should outgrow it, like they do their dummies and blankies. Or should they stop the tradition when their kids ask the question..... Is the tooth fairy real? Questioning things is all part of normal development. According to child psychologist and researcher Jean Piaget, children can’t actually distinguish between fantasy and reality until they reach the age of around 7 or 8 years. So that’s why they are so easily convinced by the concept of the tooth fairy, Santa and the Easter Bunny ( not your incredible story telling technique after all!)



So will you keep it going even if your child does one day realise it’s you after all? Maybe the best policy is just to smile and continue to leave a little something under his or her pillow. We all like to be a part of a tradition, children included and most enjoy the feeling of being little still- even when they are the verge of growing up. Older children like being in the know about things too, especially when they have younger brothers and sisters who still believe in the tooth fairy.

What if your child is scared of the tooth fairy?

This can sometimes happen. If this is the case, maybe let your child decide if they want a visit from the tooth fairy. Maybe your child doesn’t want to part with something they feel is part of them. If this is the case, maybe leave a note for the tooth fairy instead, to let her know the tooth has fallen out and see what she says! For the majority of children, the thought of exchanging a tooth for hard cash or a present appears to be incentive enough!





Forgetful Fairy!

It’s happened to all of us tooth fairies — we get busted in the act doing the under-the-pillow swap or forget to play the tooth fairy altogether. What should you do if you want to keep the tradition going?

Don’t panic- there are all sorts of ways to keep the tradition going!

Maybe say the tooth fairy has a special tooth calendar for all the children in the world and their tooth must have come out a little earlier than planned!

Or you could say the tooth fairy had a very busy night and must have been on the opposite side of the world last night! Bet she will come tonight!!

Or maybe your son or daughter hadn’t gone to bed as early as normal and so the tooth fairy couldn’t come, as they only come when kids go to bed on time!

Have you any suggestions on keeping the tradition going? Let us know! After all, don’t forget they went through some pretty tough teething times when they were younger, so I guess the odd bit of small change in exchange for these hard earned teeth isn’t too bad an idea!

Whilst we are on the subject, just what IS considered a fair rate of exchange these days?!

Great tips for hosting a baby shower

22/07/2014
The American tradition of hosting a baby shower appears to have found huge favour amongst mums and mum-to-be over here. Many people consider, a baby shower a great way to celebrate the end of a pregnancy and the imminent arrival of a new life. Normally, the party or get together, is held a month or two before the baby is born.

There are no hard or fast rules when it comes to hosting the event. Traditionally, they are organised by either a close friend or a relative of the mum-to-be and they are usually held at someone’s house. But there is nothing to stop them being held at a restaurant or even a spa!

Who should come and what about the theme?



via http://www.pinterest.com/pin/561050066048610098/

It’s a good idea to think about who should be invited, as it might be best to try and keep the gathering fairly small, although again, there are no rules. It really depends on how much is in the budget as you will need to provide guests with food and drink.

If you are the one hosting the baby shower, you need to discuss with the mum-to-be what theme she would like. There are so many cute ideas out there. Have a look at Pinterest and see what we mean! Once the theme has been decided, you can send out the invites and chase up the replies so you can keep on top of the numbers.

Some Baby showers include games for the guests to play



via http://www.pinterest.com/pin/157063105728856434/

Some are more pampering - consider booking a mobile manicurist or beautician if your budget runs to it. ? Everyone loves to be pampered and all mums and mums-to-be, crave a little bit of “me time”. It’s a nice way of thanking your guests for coming too!

What about baby gifts? Not all mums-to-be will want gifts prior to their baby’s birth, so make sure you double check first. If this is the case, maybe suggest gifts just for her, like body lotions, DVD’s, gift cards etc. If baby gifts are acceptable, then think about giving, baby grows, vests, funky bandana bibs, socks, hats, maybe something for the baby’s room or some nursery essentials such as, nappies, baby wipes, cotton wool - you could make up a mini baby basket.

Over to you ... let us know your thoughts!

What’s your view- do you give baby showers a thumbs up or a thumbs down? What do you think about baby showers? Are you in favour of them?

If you are pregnant at the moment, would you prefer to get together with your friends and relatives after your baby has been born, so they can come and meet the new baby?

If you have been invited to a baby shower, did you feel under pressure to end up buying two gifts, one before and one after the birth?

If you love them, what theme did you choose? We would love to see some photos- especially if you went for a funky giraffe theme!

Have you any tips for hosting them? Let us know your thoughts, we would love to hear your views.

Bagsy this! How to choose a baby changing bag and what to put in it.

21/07/2014


Becoming a mum involves acquiring a whole range of new skills - not least those of a Sherpa porter as you lug around all the equipment and paraphernalia associated with a tiny baby!

Size really does matter!

But fear not, it’s still possible to have bags of style when it comes to choosing the tote of your choice! In the case of baby changing bags, size really does matter! Any bag you choose will need to be spacious in order for you to pack all those baby essentials, such as extra nappies, bibs and baby wipes, but you don’t want a bag that’s too heavy or bulky either.

As in everything in life- what bag best suits you will come down to personal choice. Some mum’s will want the bag to resemble a handbag, other’s a rucksack and what about dad? Will he be happy carrying a bag with hearts and flowers on it? You might need to consider a unisex bag or maybe get dad his own if you don’t want to compromise on your sense of style!

There is so much choice on the market and they range from basic to branded luxury. So before you take your pick, bear the following pints in mind.

Top tote tips!

A changing mat. Having a detachable changing mat makes it easier for you to change your baby’s nappy anywhere. However, this needn’t be a deal breaker as it is possible to buy a separate roll up changing mat, that you can include inside your bag. Or even a towel from home.

Having a baby requires having deep pockets!  No we’re not just talking financial outlay! Lots of pockets or compartments really helps to keep things separate and easy to find. Believe me, you don’t want to be rummaging around your changing bag trying to find a clean nappy whilst your baby is wriggling and fretting beside you!

Keep cool! A really useful feature is an insulated bottle pocket, as this can help keep bottles of milk or food cool on the go.

Does it come with any accessories? There might be an additional small bag included to put soiled clothes in for example.

Are there any see through pockets so you can spot items easily? How about wipeable lining?

 It’s in the bag....

Once you have grabbed your bag, what will you put in it?  Keeping your bag well stocked is important, as you want to avoid the sinking feeling associated with rooting in your bag for a much needed nappy, only to come up empty! However, It’s really tempting to include too much, which will end up making your changing bag too heavy to carry around. Things can also get “lost” inside the bag if you have too much in there.

So what do you really need?  What you need to include obviously depends on the age of your baby and how long you might be going out for.

The Essentials

Nappies have to be the number one essential item to include. Pack a few spares, as we all know when baby has to go, they gotta go- doesn’t matter if mummy or daddy has just changed them or not!

Baby wipes - can you ever have too many baby wipes?! Perfect for cleaning pretty much everything....

Hand sanitiser - really important as it might not be possible to find a sink to wash your hands following a nappy change, in the middle of a park etc!

A small bag to put soiled nappies or dirty clothes in.

Eats and treats-   a bottle of formula or expressed milk, as well as a bottle of water for older babies. If your child is on solids, pack a few finger foods or snacks, plus a bottle or sippy cup of water of juice.

Clean clothes! A spare romper suit, vest, cardigan, jumper, t-shirt etc. It’s a good idea to include spare clothes, not only in case of an accident, but also if the weather changes when you are out and you need for example, to layer up a bit more.

Some bibs! Bibs are useful to include, not only for feeding times, but if necessary they can help mop up any spills.

A Burp cloth- most of us would prefer to be a lady who lunches - rather than one who is lunched over!

Hat - a sun hat and sun cream in the summer.

The little extras!

Nappy rash cream - try and get hold of travel size ones or sample sizes as they take up less space. Pain relief - it’s always a good idea to carry some pain relief sachets or teething gel, just in case. Toys, teething rings and board books are always nice to include, especially if your baby is becoming more wakeful during the day.

Have you got any top tips for choosing a changing bag? Have we missed anything out you should include? Let us know!

What colour should you paint your nursery?

16/07/2014


Picture via Pinterest http://uk.pinterest.com/pin/192036371583818407/

Colour me happy- hold opening that paint can! If you are thinking about painting your baby’s nursery, you might want to take a look at what psychologists say about the the influence of colour choices first.

What colour have you painted or are thinking of painting your baby’s nursery? Did you go for the traditional blue or pink?

Psychologists maintain your colour choices do matter, as that selection can influence mood and behaviour, as well as stimulating the brain and body. Scientific studies have also found that exposure to certain colors can improve sleep habits, increase memory power and even enhance academic performance - excellent benefits for growing minds and bodies.

So what colours should you choose? Warmer colours can create a feeling of comfort and intimacy, so if you want to recreate a womb type atmosphere, maybe go for this end of the colour spectrum! But beware as red and orange are also known to have an energizing effect, which might not be conducive to sleep time! If you want to go for one of these colours, maybe look at painting one wall this colour and then pairing it with other, calmer colours.

Thinking pink? Maybe you have decided on painting your baby girls nursery pink? Traditionally considered soft and feminine, you could well have found the perfect colour for your bundle of joy! But just remember you might get a fair amount of pink related gifts coming in, from baby grows, to bibs, to baby blankets and bears! So, you could end up with an awful lot of the pink stuff- don’t you think?! Maybe match the pink with a neutral colour, such as cream, to offset things.

Mellow Yellow?  Yellow is associated with happiness and motivation. It’s not gender specific either, so might be a good choice if you are not sure whether you are expecting a baby boy or a baby girl! Subtle yellow is better than the brighter shades, as your baby can become over stimulated.

Cool blue?  Blue is associated with open skies and ocean waves. It can have a calming and soothing effect on you and your baby - contributing to a good nights sleep! Be careful to pair with creamy neutrals to ensure the room doesn’t look too cold.

Go Green? Green symbolizes nature, promoting a serene and calming environment for your baby. Associated with health, healing and well being, green has a soothing effect on the body and mind, reducing anxiety and promoting concentration.

These are just some fun ways to think about what colours you may choose! At the end of the day the choice is down to you! If you like red then go for it! If blue is for you, then paint it blue- babies tend to be happy if there parents are too!





Via Pinterest http://uk.pinterest.com/pin/192036371583818407/



Over to you ....

Don’t forget to share with us any decorating tips! Have you had a mural painted? Or maybe you have designed one yourself? What colours would you put with what? Have you changed the colour in your baby’s nursery and noticed any change in sleep behaviours? Let us know, we would love to hear your views.

School Sports Days- do you love them or loathe them?

06/07/2014


Will this year be your child’s first sports day? Does this thought make you feel like running for the hills, or running to dust off your trainers to ensure a good performance in the mum’s or dad’s race?!

Inevitably, like everything else to do with parenthood, how we respond to our children’s many firsts and experiences in life is rooted in our own childhood experiences. Did you love taking part in your own school events - did you win every race or come last in the egg and spoon?! Did you care much- once you were given the longed for ice lolly at the end of the day?

How you respond to school events has a huge effect on how your children will see them. For some children, sports day is a real chance to shine. They might not be as good in the classroom as some of their peers and it is great boost for their self esteem. Of course, there is always one child who seems to be lucky enough to be a cross between Usain Bolt and Albert Einstein- but then that’s life isn’t it? There are always some children that break the mould, but that doesn’t mean the others are any less successful.

Picture the child who crosses the finishing line without dropping the egg or the teamwork involved in the three legged race! Or the sheer achievement of being able to dress up in shoes, hats, neckerchiefs or old t-shirts and coats, in the dressing up race. Sports Days are an integral part of childhood. They teach children that it’s OK to fail sometimes. It happens to everyone. We are all better at somethings than others. Obviously we don’t like to see our children upset, but it’s how we teach them to deal with situations that makes the difference between the real winners and losers in life.

Frankly when they are still very young- it’s an achievement for them just to run or toddle in one direction, without falling over, whilst looking ahead and not at you! If you are proud of them, they will be proud of themselves. There are plenty of “Kodak” moments during a typical Sports Day - and they are not just limited to a shot of the winners podium!

So where do you stand when it comes to Sports Days? How competitive are you? Are you planning to be first in line for the tea and biscuits? Will you have elbows at the ready on the finishing line to ensure you get that perfect snap?! Or are you praying for rain and a cancelled event? Will you have the stopwatch out and your best trainers on, or will you be sitting the races out? Don’t forget, children love to see their mum’s and dads taking part in things and will feel proud of you no matter what...... after all it’s the taking part that matters isn’t it? No pressure there then! Good luck!

Musical bumps takes on a whole new meaning! Today we are exploring how playing music can strike all the right chords with your baby and toddler.

02/07/2014
It seems even in the womb we are learning.

Scientists at the University of Helsinki conducted a study last year, which found when babies are played music in the womb, they remember and recognise what they have been played, for up to four months after they are born! During the study, the babies were played Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, up to five times a week by their mothers, in the last trimester of pregnancy. Shortly after birth they were played the nursery rhyme again, but with several notes altered. Brain activity showed the babies recognised the change and the more the song had been played the greater the recognition.

Previous studies have shown babies recognise some words spoken to them in vitro, as well as music from their mothers favourite TV programme. This study was considered unique because it suggests babies memories formed prior to birth, can be stored post birth! Awesome!





The jury is out still on whether or not playing music, the so called “Mozart Effect” has been proven to boost babies brains. This is because there hasn’t been a great deal of research done on this area. Even the study mentioned above is only very small and doesn’t prove whether or not playing music to your bump will lead to your baby having an enhanced auditory system or an increase in brain development.

The advice from health professionals suggests, the most important thing to consider if you are pregnant and want to play music, is to choose music you find relaxing, as this will be more beneficial to you and your developing baby, than forcing yourself to listen to certain tracks on a loop.

Safety tip! Researchers warned that turning up the volume by placing a speaker right on the mother-to-be’s bump, does more harm than good.

Baby - lets’s rock and roll!

So how can playing music to your child help once your baby has been born? Kids it seems, love music. We all know how singing a lullaby can calm a fractious baby and reseach published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science confirms what most parents already know - babies are literally born to dance! The sudy suggests infants are programmed to move to the beat and respond to music better than they do speech. Again, this was quite a small study  ( 120 children aged between 5 months and two years) listened to samples of classical music, speech and rhythmic beats and anaylsis of their responses showed that even the youngest babies rocked rhythmically to the music in accordance to the tempo.

In sync!  The study also found that the babies and toddlers smiled more, the more they were able to synchronise their movements to the music. Think how we get a buzz ourselves from a good boogie!

So although your baby or toddler, might not quite be able to get down and groove with the polished moves a pop professional, they and you, can still enjoy some musical movement!

Why not crank up the volume and dance?!





First Aid Kit for Babies

22/06/2014
Although babies are more robust than we sometimes give them credit for, they are still vulnerable to any ailments and once they start moving around, can be prone to accidents.

So be prepared, like everything, a little preparation can help take the stress out of life! Make sure that you a comprehensive first aid kit for your baby. Not just at home, but also for when you are out and about.

What should you include in your baby’s first aid kit?

Paracetamol and Ibuprofen Drops- Babies are vulnerable to viruses, so they tend to catch colds more often than adults. Make sure you have a bottle of both age appropriate Paracetamol and Ibuprofen in your medicine cupboard. Also, stock some in sachets. They are handy when travelling. Make sure that you have a few sachets of both Paracetamol and Ibuprofen in your baby’s changing bag. Why do you need both? Paracetamol and Ibuprofen both work as analgesic. They both reduce temperature, but they work differently. If you have given your baby Paracetamol, you can’t give her another dose until 4 hours later. However, if the temperature doesn’t go down, you can give Ibuprofen. Although, when temperature doesn’t go down, even after you’ve given your baby medication, you have to contact your GP.

Antiseptic cream - Include antiseptic cream in the kit to disinfect wounds and abrasion. Anti-sting cream – Insects, mosquitoes and wasps have no respect for age. And they seem to find babies quite tasty. Anti-sting and bite creams are great at soothing itch and preventing irritation. They’re also very effective for nettle sting. Make sure to have one in your baby’s changing bag as well as in your first aid kit.

Digital Thermometer- There are cheaper thermometers around, but digital thermometer makes taking your baby’s temperature very easy. Insect Repellent Lotion for babies with 8-hour protection- Make sure your repellant lotion can protect your baby the entire day.

Fabric plasters – Yes, colourful plasters maybe great for babies to look at, but fabric plasters are more effective and they stay in place.

Cotton Balls- This is easier to wipe and clean the wounds or cut. Oral Syringe- It’s convenient for measuring liquid medicine especially for babies.

Sun cream wipes – English weather is very unpredictable. One minute it’s dark and grey, the next it is sunny. Having sun cream wipes means in your emergency kit means you are always able to protect your baby’s skin when you are out and about and the sun decides to make an appearance. However, they’re not as effective as sun cream lotion, so just keep them for emergency.

Pair of scissors – You always can’t find a pair of scissors when you need one. Putting a pair in your baby emergency kit will ensure you know where you can find one. You can probably think of more things to put in your baby’s first aid kit, but the list covers all the basics. Make sure that you have them neatly stored, so you can easily find what you need when you need them. Also, regularly check the content of your first aid kit for expiry dates.

The tooth, the whole tooth and nothing but the tooth - let’s talk teething!

19/06/2014


Did you know that approximately in one of every 2,000 births in the UK, the baby is born with teeth?

Teeth actually begin to form whilst the baby is still in the womb and do not usually come through until the baby is between 6 months and a year old. But sometimes they are born with several teeth already through.

Fun facts!

The current Guinness Book of Records holder for the baby born with the most teeth is held by Sean Keaney (UK) of Newbury, Berkshire who was born on 10 April 1990 with 12 teeth! Whilst the age of the oldest person to retain a milk tooth goes to Ilse Challis who still had one of hers at the age of 88! Fun facts aside, teething can be a pretty testing time for babies and parents! There are no hard and fast rules about when your babies teeth will appear - everyone is different.

Signs to look out

* dribbling more than usual

* flushed cheeks

* sore, red gums

* loss of appetite irritability and disturbed sleep restlessness

* chewing and biting on everything.

Of course some babies sail through the teething stage without any apparent distress and some teeth will also appear without any obvious outward signs.

But what can you do if your baby is experiencing teething discomfort?

Give lots and lots of cuddles, as this will help to comfort and reassure your baby. Rub gums with a clean finger and this will help soothe your baby. Think about using a teething ring. Keep your baby’s neck and chin clean and dry, this is very important if they suffer from a lot of dribbling. Use a bandana bib and a barrier cream if these areas are getting red. The latest advice from the experts is to try and avoid teething gels, ask your health visitor for the latest information.

Gnashed up- looking after your baby’s teeth.

Once your baby’s teeth come through it’s vital you take time to look after them correctly. So you need to start brushing their teeth right from the start with a small headed soft tooth brush. Try and make brushing time fun and register your little one with a dentist. You should also watch out for hidden sugar content in juices and some foods. Never feel tempted to put anything sweet in your baby’s bottle or on a dummy. Best stick to water in between feeds. Try and aim to introduce a cup, rather than a bottle as soon as possible. You can do this from about 6 months When your baby is on solids, avoid giving sugary foods. It’s OK to do so now and again, but make sure you encourage your baby to drink water afterwards.

In the meantime- keep smiling your little dribble monster will one day have the perfect set of pearly whites, the teething stage doesn’t last forever, it just feels like it does!

Tips on how to breastfeed your newborn whilst having a toddler in tow

14/06/2014


Babies, breastfeeding and toddlers, not an easy combination to deal with, but not a mutually exclusive one either!

Before your second baby is born, it is a good idea to try and prepare your toddler for what life will be like when the new family member arrives. The kind of  things you can include could be, what the new baby will look like, how small they will be compared to them and how often they will need to feed.

Start by explaining to your toddler, what they were like as a baby and the kind of things you needed to do for them. Children always love to hear about what they were like when they were younger, so you should be able to keep their attention! Let them know how the baby will need to be held and fed and have their nappy changed. You could ask them if they would like to be your important helper when the baby is born and get things for you like, baby wipes or nappies, when you might not be able to get them yourself.

If you are planning to bottle feed your baby it will obviously be easier to involve your toddler at feeding time, then if you are planning to breastfeed. But don’t let this put you off breastfeeding, as you can still involve your toddler in the process.

Involving your toddler with breastfeeding

Explain to them how mummy is able to make special milk for the baby, full of all the important vitamins and nutrients, he or she needs in order to grow and to be healthy. Tell them this is how babies “eat” at this stage, as they are not old enough to eat the same food as their big brother or sister. Let them know, when mummy feeds the baby in this special way, the baby will be happier, as his or her tummy will be full again. The baby’s crying is their way of letting mummy know they are hungry or thirsty, as they cannot talk yet.

Ways of coping with your toddler whilst breastfeeding

Once your baby has arrived and it’s time to breastfeed, try and encourage your toddler to sit quietly with you.

Here are some ideas on how you can do this: Read a story book to your toddler. If you haven’t quite mastered the art of having a free hand whilst nursing, don’t worry, you can ask your toddler to hold the book for you and turn the pages whilst you read. Or maybe they can “read” to you and the baby, by telling you what’s in the pictures.

Tip! Using a pillow or a sling can help get baby into position for feeding and makes having a free hand easier to manage.

If your toddler doesn’t want to read, try playing simple games like “I spy” or sing some of their favourite songs. Some toddlers like to feed their own “baby” at the same time as mummy. Maybe buy a dolls milk bottle and some dolls nappies for them to be able to do this. Don’t worry if your toddler mimics your breastfeeding, it is perfectly natural and normal for them to do this. Once you get to know your baby’s feeding patterns, you can pre plan activities for your toddler to do, to keep them occupied, such as drawing, puzzles etc. They could even “ make” you some food, such as a play sandwich from play dough.

Have these ideas been helpful to you? Have you any tips for combining breastfeeding with looking after a toddler? If so, please share them as we would love to hear from you!

Strawberry fields forever! ( Or jam today and jam tomorrow!) Some fresh ideas to do with your toddler.

11/06/2014
 Thinking of a fun activity to do with the kids this summer? Have you thought about fruit picking? It’s a really fun and relatively cheap way to entertain little ones ( and big ones!) as you usually only pay for the amount you eat. The only downside is, it’s really is a fine weather activity, as fruit is not best picked when wet, as it can get squishy and moldy. But being outside in the fresh air is a great way to spend a few hours and showing children where their food actually comes from, is a worthwhile activity. It might even encourage healthy eating and is a brilliant way of getting a perhaps fussy toddler to eat their now 7 a day recommendation! And, whilst it’s true you can get fresh strawberries all year round, nothing beats the taste of a just picked strawberry- especially if it’s being handed to you by a very proud toddler! A bit of handy advice! Make sure you think about what your child will be dressed in! There is no point kitting them out in their finest dress or t-shirt, as they are guaranteed to get a bit  (OK, a lot!) of  bright red juice on their clothing, as they sample what they’ve picked. Maybe one dress code essential is a bandana bib, as this will help protect what they are wearing. Whatever you decide make sure it’s nothing too new, if you are worried about stains. Best to wear closed toe shoes or wellies too. But why stop with just picking strawberries? There are all sorts of berries to choose from, including blackberries and raspberries, as well as vegetables like carrots, broccoli and even sweet corn! All you need to do is check out where your local PYO Fruit farm is and which fruits and vegetables are in season. Extend the activity at home If you want to, you can extend this activity at home, by making fruit pies, smoothies or vegetable juices - you might just want to check out our messy play aprons first! So what do you think- will you give it a go?! PS - don’t forget to pack the suncream, a sun hat, bandana bib and maybe even a change of clothes!

Simple Remedies for Baby’s Cold

04/05/2014
A cold is a mild viral infection that’s very common. According to the NHS, adults have cold two to four times a year, and children, including newborns; have around seven to ten a year. And they usually last around two weeks.

That means your baby can have colds over a third of the year.

Since it’s a viral infection, a cold has no cure, but it is self-limiting and gets better on its own without treatment. So, although it is distressing to see your newborn suffer, there is really nothing you can do, apart from treating the symptoms and watching out for serious complications, like chest infection. Treating the symptoms will help ease your baby’s discomfort while his body is fighting the infection, but it will not prevent or reduce the duration of cold.

Treatments of symptoms
When your baby is over 3 months old, there are medicines you can give him to treat symptoms like fever, congestions and cough. Unfortunately, if your baby is less than 3 months, there’s very little you can give him. But that doesn’t mean you can’t help him. So, here we put together some suggestions to ease cold symptoms in newborns.

Stuffy Nose
When your newborn has a cold, the lining of his nasal passages and sinuses is inflamed and they get stuffy nose or nasal congestion. And they’ll find it difficult to breathe through their nose. But don’t worry they will not come into harm. Babies will naturally breathe through their mouth. However, it will make it difficult for them to feed, as they can’t breathe properly while they have their mouth close.  So, it will help your newborn if you can ease the congestion.

Steam
Steam is a very good temporary decongestant. So let your baby inhale steam before feeding to clear his nasal passages and allow him to feed comfortably. But it is not practical to let your baby breath steam from a bowl of water, as it is a possible accident waiting to happen. Instead, use your bathroom. Run your shower hot to steam the room and take your baby there for a while. It may help to put menthol oil in the room as well.
You can also put a humidifier in your baby’s room to help ease your baby’s breathing while he is asleep. If you don’t have a humidifier, wet a towel and put it in the radiator overnight.

Menthol amp; Eucalyptus oil
Don’t use the oil directly on your baby. Instead, put a drop or two on a muslin cloth and put it under his mattress. You may also try rubbing vapour rub on your chest before feeding, so your baby can smell it but not come in contact with it.

Saline Solution
Saline nose drops can help clear mucus in babies. However, check with your pharmacist before using it. To use it, lay your baby on his back and put two to three drops in each nostril. Wait for 30 to a minute and turn your baby on his stomach to help his nose drain.

Fever
If your baby is baby is between 0 and 2 months, and registers a temperature above 38oC, you must contact your GP.

Paracetamol can be used to reduce your baby’s temperature if he is over two months old. In the meantime, you can help take the edge of the fever by giving your baby a sponge bath with lukewarm water. Don’t use cold water as it cause a temperature spike.

Additionally, you can also help reduce your baby’s temperature by removing layers of clothing to allow his body to lose heat easily.
Offer your baby plenty of fluid. This won’t only reduce his temperature but will also keep him hydrated.

Understanding and Preventing DVT in Pregnancy

03/05/2014
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) has been highlighted in the news in the past few years, with headlines focusing mainly on risk of DVT on long haul flights. But the reality is pregnant women are more likely to develop DVT than people on long haul flights. According to the figures from the NHS, the absolute DVT risk on long haul flights is 1 for every 4,656 flights whilst 1 in 1,000 women develop DVT at some of their pregnancy.

During pregnancy, your blood clots more easily. It is nature’s way of ensuring that you don’t bleed heavily in childbirth. Hence, your risk of DVT is 10 times more when you are pregnant.

What is DVT?

When blood clots develop in your vein, it is known as venous thrombosis, which usually occurs in the pelvic or leg veins. There are two types of thrombosis, Superficial Vein Thrombosis (SVT) also known as Phlebitis, and Deep Vein Thrombosis.

SVT happens when a clot develops in a vein that is close to the skin surface.  Usually, it is not life threatening. It mends and goes away within 2 to 6 weeks.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT, on the other hand is more serious and can have life threatening complication. As its name implies, DVT occurs in the deep vein and the clots has the potential to break away and travel through the blood stream and get stuck in the lung’s blood vessel. This condition is known as Pulmonary Embolism and can be deadly.  According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, in the UK and the USA, Deep Vein Thrombosis kills more people than Prostate Cancer, Breast Cancer, AIDS and traffic accidents combined. If you suspect that you are experiencing symptoms of DVT or Pulmonary Embolism, contact your GP immediately. Don’t wait to see if the symptoms will go away. Early diagnosis and urgent action are vital.

Symptoms of DVT

Sudden swelling of the leg (usually on just one leg, and particularly around your calf)
Tenderness
Pain, which may increase when you are bending your foot towards your knee
Skin redness or discoloration, usually at the back of your leg, just below your knee
Warm skin where the clot is

 
Symptoms of Pulmonary Embolism

Shortness of breath, gradually or suddenly
Sharp chest pain, which may feel worse when you are breathing in, coughing or simply moving
Upper back pain
Extreme sweating
Dizziness
Sudden collapse


Preventing DVT in Pregnancy

Stay active daily as much as you can (walking and swimming are great exercise during pregnancy)
Wear prescribed compression socks to help circulation in your leg
Drink plenty of water
Don’t be on your feet for too long
If you have to sit for a long period, stretch your legs, flex your feet towards your knee and rotate your ankles every 20 minutes. And get up walk around for 5 minutes every hour.

Keeping the Peace with Grandparents

02/05/2014
If parents are the acrobats in the parenthood circus, then good grandparents are the safety net. They don’t have to perform the stunts required from parents, but they are always there to provide support when needed.
Many childcare worries faced by new parents can easily be avoided if there are wise grandparents nearby to provide guidance and support. Unfortunately, the world is smaller today than it was thirty or forty odd years ago.

Families are living further apart, with some living halfway across the world. This can lead new parent to feel isolated, and isolation can blow minor problems out of proportion, turning them into major stresses. It’s no surprise that modern parents find parenting challenging.

For new parents who are exhausted after weeks of disturbed sleep, grand parents can offer major help, looking after the baby whilst the new mother takes a much-needed rest. And for families with no choice but for both parents to go to work, grandparents can provide free childcare. But, grandparents aren’t just good for babysitting or free childcare; they also offer a great deal of practical experience if parents are willing to listen.
The problem comes when grandparents and parents have conflicting ideas about childcare, discipline and other issues. In this case, grandparents became interfering people who pose a threat to parents, and parents became ingrates, who don’t realise the blessings having grandparents around to help.

So, before World War III erupts it is best for both parties to make an effort to tread carefully, so as not to step into each other’s toes.

Grandparents should employ diplomacy and wisdom that befits their age and experience, while parents need to use restraint and learn not to be easily offended when grandparents dish out advice.
If you are a grandparent, it may be difficult for you to stand by and watch your own children make the same mistakes you made 20 years ago, but it is best not to tell adults what they should do with their own children, as this will be met with hostility and resistance. Like clever advisers, you should use subtlety, like dropping hints, to influence parents. And if at some point, you temporarily have to look after your grandchildren, don’t take this as your license to take charge on how to raise them. You are not the parents. You can provide temporary management, but you should never take over.

As for parents, you should take advice in the spirit in which it is given. It is useless to fight advice, so accept them graciously. After all, you don’t have to act on it. Additionally, if you are happy for the grandparents to look after your children, you must accept that they will expect to have some say about your children’s care whilst they are temporarily in-charged. Yes, you can manage without the grandparents, but life is easier if they are around.

How to Wean Your Milkaholic Baby

09/04/2014
Most babies take to solids like a duck to water. But some babies are so hooked on milk that they refused solids point-blank, making weaning resembles a full on battle. For milkaholic babies, eating with spoon is totally intolerable. They will leave you in no doubt what you can do with your spoon, and that definitely doesn’t include putting the spoon in their mouth.
If your baby happens to be a milkaholic, you need to approach weaning gently. Force, coercion and bribery will not work, and you and your baby will simply end up miserable. And your mealtime will have more drama than a cheap soap opera.

Your baby may be little, but when it comes to eating, he knows what he wants.  But not all is lost. You need patience and strategy. But first, if your baby is less than six months old and is still thriving on milk, don’t make a big issue of it. Leave weaning until he is six months, the age health professionals recommend to start weaning. There is no point going into battle when it is not necessary.
Give your baby time to adjust
Start by cutting your baby’s milk intake by a third, giving him non-milk fluids as replacement. At feeding time, before offering him milk, try giving him a tiny amount of solid food. If he refuses, don’t push. However, don’t give up either. Try pattern for a week. If this doesn’t work, further reduce the milk by half. Follow the same process. When babies are hungry, they will eat. So, when your baby shows any sign of hunger, offer solids first.

If your baby dislikes eating with the spoon, try giving him foods he can eat with his hands. At mealtimes, sit your baby at the table with you, and let him play with his food. It is natural for babies explore objects with their mouth. By allowing him to explore the food without pressure, you are giving him a chance to associate food with positive feelings, rather than misery.

Allowing your baby to play with food seems contrary to good table manners, but during weaning, your main goal is to let your baby enjoy food, not good manners. You will have time to teach your baby good table manners when he has mastered eating.
Check for other potential problem
Your baby’s refusal to eat solids may not be due to sheer stubbornness, so check for other potential problem. Does he have difficulty swallowing or chewing? If that’s the case, speak to your GP.

Good Nutrition for Babies

08/04/2014
Good nutrition is a family concern. If you want healthy babies who will grow as healthy children and adults, you as parents have to create a healthy lifestyle and lead by example. Children are products of their parents, who they are is largely down to their upbringing. Good nutrition doesn’t have to come at a high price. So, bad nutrition can’t be blamed on the economy, the rising cost of living or the lack of time

What is good nutrition?
Good nutrition means a proper balance of fats, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals. Of course it is best to get these nutrients from varied sources, but not necessary. Once food reached the stomach, they all get mixed up and the body doesn’t care whether the source of protein came from chicken or beefsteak, or the carbohydrates came from organic brown rice or your local supermarket’s value porridge oats.

Good nutrition for babies
Babies from 0-4 months get their nutrients from their milk. Formula milk are specifically prepared to contain the nutrients that babies need, while nutrients on breastmilk came from the mother’s diet and her body reserves. If the mother’s diet is deficient, it is likely to affect the quality of her milk, so it is important that mothers have a balanced diet. Of course, this is not a reason to choose to use formula milk. After all, it is easier, safer and cheaper to provide mothers good nutrition than opting for formula milk.

Main goals for improving nutrition:
Babies, children and adults all have the same basic goals for improving nutrition. They are:
1. Increase level of complex carbohydrates
2. Reduce intake of foods high in sugar and refined foods
3. Reduce salt intake
4. Reduce intake of fats for children over two years old and adults

To increase the level of your complex carbohydrates, opt for unrefined energy food like brown bread, brown rice, pasta, potatoes, and oats. Some fruits and vegetables like spinach, artichokes, courgette, Brussels sprout, broccoli and beans are also rich in complex carbohydrates.

White rice and bread from refined flour are not very good source of complex carbohydrates as the refining process strips them of their Vitamin B, fibre and other minerals content.
Proteins on the other hand can be found in meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, tofu, nuts and seeds. Meat and fish proteins are easily absorbed in the body.  Nuts and seeds rich in proteins are almonds, pistachios, peanuts, pine nuts, pecan, Sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and flax seeds.

Vitamins and minerals are more abundant in fruits and vegetables.

Are Clever Children Product of Nature or Nurture?

07/04/2014
Judging by the subtle and not too subtle parental competition in many baby and toddler groups I have the misfortune to attend; and the number of products in the market promising to turn our babies into little Einstiens, many of us want to have clever children. And that is perfectly normal. After all, as parents we should be our children’s number one fan.

So, the question is – what makes children clever? Is it something that parents can influence during the children’s infant years? Are children born clever or are they product of their parents’ nurturing? The answer is ‘both.’ Geniuses are not made by parents who cram their children with academic knowledge. They were already born gifted, and are nurtured to their full potential by their parents.

Parents can help their children developed but they can’t perform miracles. For example, a child with poor coordination may be trained to play football, but will never make it to the premier league. (Otherwise, all the boys who spent all their free time and weekends training would have all been signed up by premiership clubs.) A coach may be able to teach a child with a poor eye for the ball to play tennis, but that child will never become a Wimbledon champion. A child with zero interest in Physics can be taught it but will never be another Einstein. Of course, this doesn’t mean that parents should accept that their child is average. And it’s definitely not a reason for children not to try to improve on what they are born with.

However, the focus on the baby’s development should not be on cleverness but on developing the baby’s existing potential. Each child is born with potential, but they vary. Many children may not have the making of the next Roger Federer, Michael Schumacher or Adele, but they all have the potential for love, patience, hard work, problem-solving and effective communication, skills that are important and necessary in their adult life.

Pushing babies and children to reach beyond their capabilities will simply lead to frustrations and misery. It is far easier and more productive to work with what they already have. The world only needs one tennis player to occupy a number one slot at a time, but it needs people to manage other people, to run businesses, to teach, to nurse, to keep machines going. These tasks don’t need geniuses, they need people who have the ability and willingness to learn and work. They need people who have the skills to get along with others, people who are willing to work beneath their own perceived abilities to get the work done.

Likewise, if a baby is born clever, restricting his ability will end up in the same frustrations and misery. Making children conform to the norm, when he is above that, is a recipe for failure and bad behaviour.

Nutrients Vital to Your Babies Growth

04/04/2014
He may not be six months old yet, but you just know that your baby is ready for solid foods. Milk isn’t enough to keep him through the night, when it was fine a few weeks ago. He can definitely sit on his own, and he can’t take his eyes off your spoon when you’re eating, he makes you feel guilty for not sharing. In fact, once in a while in a while, he gets feed up with you, he tries to reach the food himself, so he can have a taste too. Yes, he is definitely ready. And despite recommendation, you are not putting off solids until he is six months old.
So, off you checked for what you need. Baby spoon and bowl – checked. Bibs to catch most of the food that dribbles out of his mouth – checked. Paper bib for emergency – checked. Funky bandana bib for best – checked. Food processor – checked. Little Tupperware for storing baby food in batches – checked.
Now, the only question left, and the most important of all – what should you feed your baby? What are the essential nutrients that babies need in their diet?
Iron – You may have noticed that many formula milk and baby foods are fortified with iron. That’s because, apart from its important role in the making of red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body, iron helps in the development of your baby’s brain. Iron deficiency in babies can affect the development of their spatial skills, a part of the memory that stores information related to their environment, and is vital for getting around spaces and places. According to a research published in the American Society for Clinical Nutrition, the concentration of iron in breastmilk decreases during weaning. So, it is important that you give your baby foods that are good source of iron.
Zinc – Like iron, zinc is another type of metal that is vital to the human body. It is an important micronutrient for breaking down and absorbing protein. It is also vital for cell growth and differentiation, a process in which less specialised cells changed into specialised cells. It is also important to the function of the immune system. If your baby has low zinc level, he is at risk of gastrointestinal infections and his immune system is weakened.
Calcium - As we all know, Calcium is the foundation of healthy bones and teeth. Your baby’s body uses this element to build strong bones. If your baby has low calcium level he is at risk of developing Rickets, a disease characterised by softening of the bone that results to bowed legs, stunted growth, and in severe cases, muscle pain and weakness.
Vitamin D – This Vitamin is important for Calcium absorption. If your baby lacks Vitamin D, he will not be able to properly absorb the Calcium from the food he eats. Our body produces enough Vitamin D with the help of sunlight. So, in the summer, taking your baby for a walk in the morning when the sun is not too strong will do the trick. However, in winter, there is not enough sun to help the body produce Vitamin D. Although, ensuring that your baby gets enough vitamin D isn’t a major problem as long as your baby still takes formula milk with his meals, as formulas are fortified with Vitamin D.
Other essential nutrients your baby needs are Vitamins A, Nutrients Vital to Your Babies Growth
He may not be six months old yet, but you just know that your baby is ready for solid foods. Milk isn’t enough to keep him through the night, when it was fine a few weeks ago. He can definitely sit on his own, and he can’t take his eyes off your spoon when you’re eating, he makes you feel guilty for not sharing. In fact, once in a while in a while, he gets feed up with you, he tries to reach the food himself, so he can have a taste too. Yes, he is definitely ready. And despite recommendation, you are not putting off solids until he is six months old.
So, off you checked for what you need. Baby spoon and bowl – checked. Bibs to catch most of the food that dribbles out of his mouth – checked. Paper bib for emergency – checked. Funky bandana bib for best – checked. Food processor – checked. Little Tupperware for storing baby food in batches – checked.
Now, the only question left, and the most important of all – what should you feed your baby? What are the essential nutrients that babies need in their diet?
Iron – You may have noticed that many formula milk and baby foods are fortified with iron. That’s because, apart from its important role in the making of red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body, iron helps in the development of your baby’s brain. Iron deficiency in babies can affect the development of their spatial skills, a part of the memory that stores information related to their environment, and is vital for getting around spaces and places. According to a research published in the American Society for Clinical Nutrition, the concentration of iron in breastmilk decreases during weaning. So, it is important that you give your baby foods that are good source of iron.
Zinc – Like iron, zinc is another type of metal that is vital to the human body. It is an important micronutrient for breaking down and absorbing protein. It is also vital for cell growth and differentiation, a process in which less specialised cells changed into specialised cells. It is also important to the function of the immune system. If your baby has low zinc level, he is at risk of gastrointestinal infections and his immune system is weakened.
Calcium - As we all know, Calcium is the foundation of healthy bones and teeth. Your baby’s body uses this element to build strong bones. If your baby has low calcium level he is at risk of developing Rickets, a disease characterised by softening of the bone that results to bowed legs, stunted growth, and in severe cases, muscle pain and weakness.
Vitamin D – This Vitamin is important for Calcium absorption. If your baby lacks Vitamin D, he will not be able to properly absorb the Calcium from the food he eats. Our body produces enough Vitamin D with the help of sunlight. So, in the summer, taking your baby for a walk in the morning when the sun is not too strong will do the trick. However, in winter, there is not enough sun to help the body produce Vitamin D. Although, ensuring that your baby gets enough vitamin D isn’t a major problem as long as your baby still takes formula milk with his meals, as formulas are fortified with Vitamin D.
Other essential nutrients your baby needs are Vitamins A, B, C and E.B, C and E.

How to Help Your Child Cope with Homework Stress

02/04/2014
Whether you see homework as a reassuring sign that your child’s school is taking the children’s academic progress seriously, or simply an added burden that you and your child don’t need, homework is here to stay for the present. And is the bane of the modern families’ busy lives.
Even a happy child, who loves school, once in a while succumbs to the pressure of homework and ends up giving in to tantrums and tears. And very few parents can say hand on heart that they didn’t have arguments with their children and had doors slammed on them over homework.
In a poll posted on debate.org, participants are asked whether children should have homework and a staggering 79% who answered the question favoured the scrapping of homework. Perhaps the result is not surprising as the increasing amount of homework children take home from school is causing stress in children even as young as six years old.
Of course, not all children find doing their homework such an ordeal. But if you are concerned about your child, here some things you can to do help ease homework burden.
Watch out for signs of stress.
To see signs of stress in young children, you may need to pay closer attention to their behaviour. Reluctance to go to school, headache and stomach-ache complaints can be signs that your child is unhappy at school.
Help your children manage their time.
You may think your child is too young to learn organisational and time-management skills, but these are two vital skills they need to help them avoid homework stress. For instance, instead of doing their homework the day before they need to hand it in, get your child to do 10 minutes everyday. This way, he will not be cramming at the last minute, and he doesn’t feel that he is giving up a large chunk of his free time to homework.
Remove distractions while your child is doing his homework. Turn the telly off, or designate a quiet place for studying, preferably away from computer and video games.
Limit your children’s extra-curricular activities. It is not uncommon for KS1 children to be doing different after school activities, from dancing to martial arts classes, Mondays to Fridays. Curricular activities can do your children a lot of good, but if they have to be somewhere every day after school, they will have no time to complete their homework during the week. And they’ll end up spending their weekend doing their homework, or cramming on Monday morning.
Finally, encourage early bedtime.
Sleep deprivation can cause serious problems in children and increases their stress level. Research finds that bad behaviour in children is related to lack of sleep. Children need at least 9 ½ hours’ sleep.

Answers to Your Common Immunisation Questions

31/03/2014
Q: Do I have the right to refuse vaccinations for my baby?
A. Prior to 1898, parents who refused to have their children vaccinated were fined or imprisoned. But the 1898 Act has removed the penalties for non-compliance, thus allowing parents decide whether to have their children vaccinated or not. This has not changed when the National Health Act 2006 was enforced.
So, as parents, you can choose whether or not your baby is vaccinated. It is not legal for heath authority to force you to have your baby vaccinated. However, before making the decision to refuse immunisation for your baby, it is important to examine your reasons against the safety benefits offered by immunisation.

Q. Should I take my baby for his immunisation if he is ill?
A. If your baby has a cold but doesn’t have a fever it is ok to go on as normal. But if your baby has a raised temperature, wait until your baby is better to avoid fever being linked with vaccine, or the vaccine worsening your baby’s fever.
However, speak to your GP or practice nurse before your baby’s immunisation. They will be able to decide for themselves whether it is safe to carry on with the vaccination or to differ it.

Q. Will my baby suffer from side effects?
A. All medicines have potential side effects, but vaccines are proven to be safe. However, it’s possible for your baby to exhibit minor symptoms such as:
…Redness, swelling or tenderness around the injected area. This will gradually disappear without mediation.
… Irritability.
…High temperature or fever.

Q: What medication can I give my baby if he exhibits some side effects?
A. As mentioned, the redness and swelling will disappear on its own, so you don’t need to treat it. You just have to be careful not to bash it. Some parents put a plaster on the injected site to remind them to be careful with it. And you already know that there is no treatment for irritability, apart from making your baby comfortable.
So, the only symptom you can treat is fever. And for this, you can give Paracetamol or Ibuprofen. Never give your baby any painkillers before his vaccination.

Q: Is vaccination safe for babies with allergy?
A. Eczema, asthma or food intolerance should not stop your child from having his immunisation. But if you know or suspect that your child has allergy, discuss it with your GP or practice nurse.

Q: Are there babies who had an allergic reaction to vaccination?
A. Yes, it is possible for babies and children to have allergic reaction to vaccination, but it is very rare and completely treatable. Only one in a million babies experience anaphylactic reaction – a severe allergic reaction, to vaccination. This occurs within a few minutes after the injection. And the people who give the injection are trained to deal with this situation. Children who suffered anaphylactic reaction completely recover from it.

Q: My baby was premature – when should I have him vaccinated?
A. If you premature baby is healthy, he should follow the same vaccination schedule as full term babies. Premature babies are higher risks of catching infection, so it is important that they are protected early. It seems cruel to inject a vaccine to a tiny baby but it is more cruel to leave him unprotected and open to diseases.



As with all medical queries if in any doubt talk to your doctor or Midwife

Pet-Proofing Your Toddler

30/03/2014
Gruesome stories of pets attacking children are rare. However, an exuberant pet or an annoyed dog can still cause some injury to little faces and fingers. Although, this is no reason to avoid pets at all costs. It’s better to teach your toddler how to handle pets. One way or another, your toddler will encounter pets, whether or not you have pets at home. So, it is important to pet-proof your toddler as early as possible.
Here are some rules that your toddler should know about pets:
• If dogs, cats or any other pets are sleeping or eating, leave them alone. Don’t go near them. And never touch their food. Even calm animals may strike back if they perceive any threats.
• Never poke an animal’s eyes.
• Don’t yank the pet’s tail or tug his ears.
• Show your toddler to stroke gently under the chin, not on top of the head (this can suggest superiority, and some animals may not take it kindly.)
• When meeting a new dog, show your toddler to offer the back of his hand for the dog to sniff before stroking or patting the dog.
• Don’t torment or harass an animal. For example, don’t offer a dog a bone then take it away when the dog tries to reach for it. If a dog is going for its bowl, don’t try to block its way. And most importantly, don’t pretend to strike or hit it.
• Stay away from fighting pets.
• Stay away from a dog or a cat that just had babies. New mothers will fight to protect their babies.
• Don’t go near animals without a grown-up.
• Don’t run towards an animal (of any species). Approach them slowly.
• Don’t try to ride dogs.
• Don’t run away when a dog growls or look angry. (If the toddler runs, the dog may chase it. Instead, teach your toddler drop on the ground, roll into a ball and cover her face with her arms.)
• If a dog is sick or behaving oddly, stay away from it. Although dogs in the UK don’t have rabies, it is still important for your toddler to learn to be cautious around strange dogs. Rabies is still rampant in many countries, and your toddler doesn’t know the difference about approaching dogs in the UK and dogs abroad when you are on holiday
• Teach your toddler not to put his face near an animal’s face. Cats can have sharp claws it can do a lot of injur

Is It the Right Time to Have a Second Baby?

19/03/2014
Once babies hit toddler years, many parents start thinking the pros and cons of having another baby. For others, it’s not a question of whether to have or not to have another baby, but when, which is a question that has no straightforward answer.
There is no ‘right time,’ nor ‘wrong time’ to have a second baby. Having babies closely together has its difficulties and rewards. Having two children under two years old is hard work for the main carer. Newborns tend to have frequent feeds at night, which means interrupted sleep. But having a toddler means staying alert and energetic during the day to keep up with your toddler. Not to mention the fact, that having babies closely together, means that the mother’s body isn’t given a chance to recover from her previous pregnancy.
Physical toll isn’t the only challenge parents have to deal with. Having children closely together is also a financially challenging. You have to buy lots of nappies, two car seats (because you need one, before the older baby outgrows his) and new buggies. Additionally, there’s a question whether your house can accommodate a new baby. You are not only talking about having a separate room for each child, but you also have to think where you are going to park your double buggy, as you will definitely need one that can carry both baby and toddler, or else going out and about will be a nightmare. Is the boot of your car big enough to carry the big buggy? Is your kitchen big enough to accommodate two high chairs?
Will having a second baby means moving to a bigger house. Can you afford the move? Or are you willing to move to different part of the country so you can afford a bigger accommodation?
On the plus side, you get the stress of baby and toddler years out of the way quicker. Having children far apart will give you some rest from sleepless night. But getting used to good night sleeps, just to be reintroduced to it all over again, may not be a good thing.
Some parents choose to have children closer so that they can play together and develop a closer relationship as they grow older. But, on the downside, children who are closely spaced are likely to squabble more over a toy, or fight over their parent’s attention.
The decision to have another baby is indeed fraught with questions. But the main question you must answer is ‘Do you really want a second baby?’ If your answer to this is anything other than a resounding yes, then it’s probably best not to have one

Changing Nappies On the Go

07/03/2014
Having a newborn doesn’t need to stop you from heading out and about anymore. In fact, the earlier you can get on your feet and take some fresh air, the better for your recovery and for your baby. (That is, if you haven’t had a CS. It can be difficult to move around during the first week.)

However, going out and about isn’t as easy as it used to be pre-baby. You can’t just grab your keys, strap your baby’s carrier at the back seat and go. Heading out with your baby for a drive or a long stroll needs a little bit more planning. You don’t want to be stranded somewhere with a screaming hungry baby or worse, a baby with a leaked nappy but without a spare nappy to change into, and no shop within short distance. We’ve been there, and it’s not fun.

As parents, it pays always keep in mind the Scout’s Motto ‘Be Prepared.’ If you are prepared, you are not likely to be caught out. So, here are our tips for making nappy changing stress free when you are out and about with your baby.

Always have spare nappies in your changing bag

Spare nappies are essential, even if you are only planning to go out for an hour with your baby. You can’t time when he is going to do it, and how much. If you don’t have any spares, you may end up having to cut your trip short and go home to change your baby. Or, let your baby stay in soiled nappy until you have completed your trip. Either way, your day out will be ruined.

Don’t just keep spare nappies in your changing bag. There will be times when you forget to re-stock your bag. So, keep some at the back of the car and in the pushchair’s shopping basket.

Don’t forget the other essentials
Nappy changing doesn’t just need nappies. You need other essentials to carry out the task. So, apart from a handful of nappies, make sure you also have a packet of baby wipes, and a spare, in your changing bag. Changing mat is also another essential you should have with you when you head out.

Nappy sacks are also as important as the nappy itself. Remember, you may have to change your baby somewhere with no bins around. You don’t want a loose soiled nappy in your changing bag.

Other essentials you may want to keep in your changing bags are burp cloth (to protect your clothes during and after feeding, spare dribble bibs, toys (to keep baby occupied), hand sanitizer (to remove bugs from your hands after changing your baby in public toilets), baby snacks and baby clothes, just in case your baby leaks.

Comforting a Baby with Colic

28/02/2014
As colic has no known cause, it can’t be treated. It is distressing to know that it is not in your power to stop your baby from wailing. All you can do is comfort your baby by trying various ways to relieve the symptoms, which is more likely tummy pain.

There is no fool proof or best way to comfort your baby, as every baby responds to different methods. Finding an effective way to help reduce your baby’s distress is a matter of trial and error. So, here we suggest different methods for you to try. Not all of them will work for your baby. Some of them may work one day, and not the next.

Snuggle your baby whilst he is crying – sometimes, a parent’s touch is all the baby needs to feel comforted.
If you are using slow flow bottle teats, try shifting to fast flow teat. The slow flow teat may cause babies to swallow air while they are feeding.

Burp your baby every time he finishes his feed. Trapped wind can be painful. And it’s almost impossible for your baby not to swallow air when feeding. So, make sure that burping is part of your feeding routine, even if your baby is asleep after feeding.

There are different ways to burp your baby. You can rest him on your knee face down whilst you gently rub his back. Or you can hold him against your shoulder, and rub his back. Make sure to support his head and neck.
Sit your baby with his head higher than his chest and limbs when feeding. This will stop him from swallowing air.

Avoid over stimulating your baby during late afternoon or early evening, when he is most likely feeling tired and ready to howl his head off.

Take your baby for a walk or a drive. Babies like movement. The rocking motion has a soothing effect on babies. If it’s not possible to go out, you can also just carry your baby around the house, in a sling to keep your hands free if you need to do something. Plus, using a baby sling will spread the weight of your baby on both your shoulders, and not just on one arm at a time.

Put on some steady background noise. The sound of the vacuum clear or washing machine can be soothing to some babies. So, if you feel that a colic attack is forthcoming, it might be a good idea to load your washing, then sit next to it with your baby and read. If your baby prefers you to move about, you can try vacuuming your floor instead.

Give your baby a warm bath, followed by gentle stomach and back rubs.


Read the complete series on Colic - exclusive to Funky Giraffe


Coping with colic
Understanding Colic
What Causes Colic
Treatment for Colic
Colic: What Not To Eat When Breastfeeding
Comforting a Baby with Colic






What Causes Colic

28/02/2014
In the past, colic has been put down to various reasons including overfeeding, underfeeding, over active let down, mother’s diet, acid reflux, milk allergies, too hot milk, too cold milk, wind, gall bladder problem, baby’s stubbornness, and mother’s anxiety.

The reality is no one really knows what causes colic. All medical researchers have are theories and suppositions, with very little evidence to back them up.

Immature Digestive System Theory
As babies’ digestive system is still immature during the first few weeks of their lives, they may be sensitive to lactose, casein and proteins found in cow’s milk, making them feel bloated, thus giving them tummy ache.
But what about breastfed babies? People who believe in this theory argue that that breastfeeding mothers who consume cow’s milk, or anything that has dairy, including chocolates, cakes and cheese, can pass these substances to their babies through their milk. Therefore, they should avoid dairy foods.

However, there is very little evidence that support this theory. Additionally, breast milk, like cow’s milk, also contains lactose and casein.

Overactive Let Down Theory
This theory works on the premise that overactive let down is causing the milk to spray into the baby’s mouth, thus the baby may choke or spit while feeding, and swallow air in the process. As a result, the baby gets tummy ache.

Again, there is little evidence to support this theory. And it doesn’t explain the fact that babies experience colic only at particular times of the day, mainly around late afternoon or early evening.

Smoking Theory
This is one theory that is backed by some scientific evidence. Women who smoke whilst pregnant double the chances of their baby developing colic. Researchers put this down to a high level of Motilin during pregnancy. Motilin is a gastrointestinal hormone that helps regulate the movement of the digestive tract.

A high level of Motilin in the baby’s system can lead to babies having the symptoms of colic and indigestion shortly after they are born.

Words of Caution
When your baby has been having a fit of crying for three successive days, don’t be too ready to jump into a conclusion that he has colic. If you do, you’ll risk missing the real cause of your baby’s distress. Try to rule out other potential cause of his crying first before self-diagnosing colic.


Read the complete series on Colic - exclusive to Funky Giraffe


Coping with colic
Understanding Colic
What Causes Colic
Treatment for Colic
Colic: What Not To Eat When Breastfeeding
Comforting a Baby with Colic


Understanding Colic

28/02/2014
Understanding Colic
As parents, your baby’s crying tugs at your heart. It is your natural instinct to comfort them. And more often than not, cuddling your baby, changing his nappy or feeding him will do the trick. But there is that time, when whatever you do doesn’t seem to work. So, you start to get uncomfortable, you feel worried that something is vitally wrong, and you start panicking.
There is nothing more distressing than to hear your baby scream and cry uncontrollably, but can’t comfort him. And panicking will get you nowhere. Uncontrollable crying for no apparent reason is a common state of affairs for colicky baby.

What is colic?
‘Colic’ (also called evening colic, three-month colic, or paroxysmal crying) sounds like a potentially serious illness that needs diagnosis and treatment. But that’s far from the truth. Colic is not an illness; consequently, it doesn’t need any treatment. Although, it feels like it is driving you over the edge, it doesn’t have a long-term effect on your baby (just on your nerves.) Psychologist and popular author of parenting books, Penelope Leach, referred to colic as a ‘distressing pattern of newborn behaviour with no known cause.’ The NHS, on the other hand, defines it as a ‘medical term used for excessive, frequent crying in a baby who appears to be otherwise healthy and well fed,’ in other words ‘they really don’t know.’ In fact, some medical scientists reject the idea of colic.

Still, whether colic is a real entity or not, one thing is sure and real, your baby is in distress. He is hurting. You are not the cause of the hurt. And he is not doing it to simply manipulate you to hold him longer. Your baby is not thinking ‘if I cry a lot and scream my mum’s head off, even when she’s already cuddling me, she’s going to cuddle me more.’ There is just no logic to that thinking.

And he is definitely not thinking ‘let’s see what happens if I cry a lot and push mum’s anger button.’

Although colic is still a puzzle for the medical world to solve, it’s very common, with one in five babies affected by it.

How do you tell your baby has colic?
It’s late afternoon, the clock is just about to strike 6:00 and your baby starts wailing. The baby that was the model of good behaviour and textbook perfect an hour ago suddenly turns red, he back arches, his legs stiffen, his fists clenches, he draws up his legs to his tense tummy and he lets out an ear-splitting scream.

You try to comfort him. You cuddle him, but instead of relaxing in your arms, he protests and wails even more. So, you thought maybe he is hungry, so you nurse him. He tries to suckle but can’t settle. He pulls away.

He continues to scream. If, after trying all the possible ways to comfort your baby, he is still screaming, then he has colic.

Symptoms of colic typically starts to appear within the first few weeks of you baby’s life. By four months, most babies are over colic, however, for some babies it can last for six months.


Read the complete series on Colic - exclusive to Funky Giraffe


Coping with colic
Understanding Colic
What Causes Colic
Treatment for Colic
Colic: What Not To Eat When Breastfeeding
Comforting a Baby with Colic

Me-time On a Budget

19/02/2014
It is amazing how time alone to focus on your self can benefit your physical and mental well-being. It relaxes us, leaves us happier, nicer and over all, just more positive. Unfortunately, once children arrive, me-time becomes nearly as impossible to find as hen’s teeth. But you must not give in, it is at this time when children are little and more demanding, that you must try harder to find time to yourself.

How?
You don’t need to go away on weekends for your ‘me-time’, nor do you have to spend a hefty amount on spa treatment or going out. Me-time is simply is spending time to spend some time caring for yourself. Yes, it could be going away on a weekend with your girlfriends, or spending time in the spa with your partner. But it could be as simple as lying in on your own on weekends, reading your favourite book or painting your nails instead of wading through your dirty washing. And it doesn’t have to be long either. Spending ten minutes to yourself everyday will do the job just as well as a weekend away once a year.

What can you do?
1. Schedule a down time – Consider it as an appointment to yourself and make sure you keep that appointment.
2. Choose Low Key – Going for a full-on, top-to-toe beauty session is time consuming not to mention expensive, but a DIY face mask or hair mask is easy on your pocket and can give you 10 minutes me-time.
3. Paint Your Nails - If you are one of those women who can’t ignore the dirty washing or the mess after the has gone baby to bed, paint your nails. It’s not only satisfying, but the wet nail polish will literally stop you from doing anything else, or risk repainting your nails all over again and wasting more time. So, instead of stressing about the mess and the laundry, put on your favourite DVD, sit and chill out while you wait for your nails to dry.

Busy doesn’t always equal productive. Me-time may sound selfish, but in the long run, you’ll find that if you are happy and relax, you do more work and you do it better. Also, keep in mind that happy mothers mean happy children. There’s no point having a clean and tidy house when you feel tired and resentful of the time.

Babies on Solid Food Earlier More Susceptible to Food Allergies

10/02/2014
Once you have a baby, there is no getting away with breastfeeding and weaning topics. In fact, we are pretty sure that we cover these topics every other month, just as much as we talk about the bandana bibs we make to keep your baby fashionably messy while getting used to solid foods.

Still, we are not the only ones obsessed with feeding topics, researchers and scientists are as obsessed as us. And they are quite right to be. After all, babies’ nutrition is vital to their development and future health. So, here’s the latest on breastfeeding and weaning.

On the 18th of November, Pediatrics – the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, published the result of a UK study confirming that breastfeeding babies longer and waiting at least 17 weeks before introducing them to solid food could reduce their vulnerability to food allergies.

Background of the research
You may not want to know all the ins and outs of the research, but we think it helps to know that the research was done thoroughly, and not just collected anecdotal stories.
The study was conducted by Kate E.C. Grimshaw, PhD, RD, and her colleagues from the Faculty of Medicine at the University Of Southampton, UK.

Grimshaw and her team studied babies diagnosed with a food allergy by age 2 years. They monitored 41 babies, born between January 2006 and October 2007 and were identified with food allergy. The babies were randomly chosen from 1140 babies involved in PIFA (Prevalence of Infant Food Allergy) Study that was part of the big EuroVall project that covered nine countries in Europe.

For each baby being monitored, they had two control participants who were the same age but were not diagnosed with food allergy. Mothers of participating babies were asked to record everything that the babies ate or drank for the first year of their lives. To make it easier for mothers, researchers only asked them to record the names of the food or drink and not the amount consumed.

Result
The researchers found that food allergy is detected at around 56 weeks old, and that hen egg allergy was the most common food allergy in babies, with 22 babies in the study diagnosed with the allergy. They also found out that the most common symptom was eczema. The second most common sign of allergy is vomiting.

They also found that babies with food allergies started solids much earlier than babies who didn’t have food allergy. Additionally, the study also revealed that feeding babies with breast milk alongside solid foods reduced their chances of developing food allergy.

So, there you go. Hopefully, the new finding will help you decide whether to wean or not to wean your baby early.

Are First Born Children Really Cleverer?

06/02/2014
If you ask the economists from the National Bureau of Economic Research, the answer is evidently YES!

According to a new paper titled Strategic Parenting, Birth Order and School Performance by V. Joseph Hotz and Juan Pantano, published last October 2013, the order of the children’s birth, affect their performance at school.
I, of course, personally disagree with their findings. I’m the youngest of 11 children, and I won’t simply accept that my big brother is cleverer. (Although, I won’t say it to his face, at 38 years old, I still quake if he looks at me with disapproval.) However, doesn’t practice make perfect? If so, as my parents had so much practice, I should be the perfect offspring.

But apparently, despite my protestation, it seems that there are some truths to the belief that firstborns are smarter. In their paper, Hotz and Pantano cited surveys published in 1990-2008. In the survey, 33.8% of mothers surveyed believe that their firstborns are the best students in the class while only 31.8% believed the second child is best in class. As for children who were born fourth, only 27.2% of those surveyed think they are best in class, while 3.6% think they were near the bottom of the class, higher than the 1.8% of mothers who think their firstborns were bottom of the class.
(Hmm, I always thought parents are biased towards the oldest offspring, now I have proof.)

However, note that most of their analysis use mothers’ perception and not on a true measure of their children’s true performance at school. It will be interesting to see whether the mothers’ perception remain sound if tested against the children’s actual performance.

The big question is – ‘Is there really a merit to comparing siblings’ performance at school?’ Does it really matter that child A achieved higher grades than child B? Is it better to focus on the children’s uniqueness, than the difference in their school performance?

It’s down to the parents
Hotz and Pantano concluded in their paper that the reason firstborn children perform better than their younger siblings is because parents supervise and monitor them closely. In that, I agree. In fact, their conclusion is something all parents already know.

Any parents who have more than one child know that they are not as strict with their second child. Not out of preference, but simply because looking after two or more children, is more challenging than looking after one child.
But most parents who have grown up children also know that school performance doesn’t necessarily equal better life. So, though this research is interesting, it’s only a useful reminder that parents should avoid comparing their children.

Why New Dads Feel Resentment?

05/02/2014
When the baby arrives in the family, it is a common phenomenon to see dads dethroned. While mum is getting used to having the baby, dad gets demoted to the bottom rung of the ladder. Although most 21st century men are more hands-on fathers, there are still some dads who find themselves feeling resentful about the lack of attention from their wives.

No, we are not talking about fathers complaining about dinner not being ready for them when they arrived from work, or their shirt not ironed, or the house being untidy. This type of dads belonged to the dinosaur age. They are relics, and are frankly better suited on display in museums rather than at home with a wife and a baby.

We are talking about normal ordinary dads who value their relationships. Just because a dad is a good dad, doesn’t mean that he doesn’t feel resentful once in a while. A prime example is my husband. He is a hands-on dad. When our baby was born, he was over the moon. We shared the care of our children fifty-fifty, and he also took on much of preparing our meals. He never complained about looking after our baby after work, and he took the night shift so I can have some sleep. All in all, he was a perfect father. Yet, during the first year of our daughter’s life, he admitted that he felt surplus to requirements. He felt neglected.

Before our baby arrived, we spent most of our time together chatting or cuddling while watching the telly.  But after the baby, all I wanted to do was catch up with the chores or sleep, and my sex drive was at an all-time low. When he tried to cuddle me, I snapped or pushed him away. I would go to bed early, which means we don’t chat as much anymore. I was there, but he felt I was not there at all. No wonder he felt hard done by. And I think his emotion was justified.

Yes, husbands should be patient, understanding and supportive, after all, the baby has two parents, and there was never a rulebook that says mum should be the sole career. But men are humans with emotions. And it is perfectly normal for dads to feel some negative emotions when they feel that their relationship with their wives is changing.

So, if your other half says he feels neglected, hold back your defensive reflex. It probably took him courage to admit it. I know it is easier said than done.  I’ve been there, and I know how hard it is not to take his complaints as criticism or whining.

New Baby, New Lifestyle

05/02/2014
The birth of your first baby is perhaps the most unforgettable event in your whole life, not just because you will have live and breathing reminder all your life, but because it brings enormous changes in your lifestyle. Getting married, buying a house or moving to a different country with different culture, pales in comparison to having a baby.

Once your baby comes home, your lifestyle and your perspective in life and the world will never be the same again. With marriage, at least you get the courtship and the honeymoon phase to prepare you and let you get used with each other. But with parenthood, you don’t get much preparation. Once you land on the ground with a thud, you have to start running. You can prepare as much as you can, but you will still reel at the impact.

Hello Worry

Once you become a parent, worry will become your life companion. You will only find the real meaning of worry when you have children. At the beginning, you will worry about weight gain, feeding and your ability to be parents. Once your baby turns into a toddler, you worry about behaviour, sickness. Then when he starts school, you worry about school performance, safety and social influence. Even after your child has left home, get married, and has children you will still worry. You will worry about his job security, his lifestyle, his partner and his children.

Goodbye Freedom

Once you become a parent, you will never experience real freedom again until your children leave home. Self-centredness has no place in the parental world. When before children you were free to go when and where, now your every decision revolves around your children. No more spur of the moment decisions. No more travelling abroad with just your hand luggage. No more hiking the Himalayas. No more spontaneous decision to stay late at parties.

You will be like Cinderella. Just when the party gets hotter, you’ll have to make a mad dash to the door to get home and let the baby sitter off.

Still, it’s not all that bad. Look on the bright side, you now have a reason not to stay and chat with the most boring person in the world. You can now say, ‘sorry to leave you but I have to make sure I speak to others before I dash home to my baby.’

Just keep thinking that you will not be tied to this ball and chain forever. This will only last around 30 years or so.

Ho to Turn Your Husband into a Perfect Dad

29/01/2014
Ok... Ok. I admit that the title of this article is a bit misleading. You can’t just mould your husband, or any man, into who you want him to be. You might as well get a robot or a dog. But if you’re reading this, then the title had done its job to lure you to read further. I know it’s sneaky, but a writer has got to do what a writer has to do to get some readers.

Anyway, back to what this article is really meant to be, involving dads in the care of your baby. Once or twice, I’ve seen mothers who were very protective of their babies, that they were very possessive and refused to share the care of their babies with their husband. They worry that the dads would not be able to do it as well as them. They talk endlessly about how inept their husbands are at changing nappies or feeding babies. They seem to think that they had an immaculate conception that their babies are theirs and theirs alone. But fathers do have equal rights and responsibility towards looking after the baby. And a wise mother tries to include the dad in all aspect of childcare from the outset.

There are three main reasons why dads don’t get involve with childcare. One, he simply hasn’t accepted the role of a father and decided to pretend he is single. So, instead of spending his free time to look after the baby, he spends it on going out or playing sports with the boys.

Two, the mum refuses to let him do it.  So, for an easier and peaceful life, he lets her get on with it.

Three, and I think is the most common, he doesn’t genuinely know what to do.

The first reason, we can’t really do anything about, but the last two reasons we can definitely overcome through learning the art of delegation.

Being a mum is just like being a CEO of a big corporation. And a good CEO knows how to use the talents around her to have a healthy and powerful organisation. So, make to delegate some childcare tasks to your husband. And once you make that decision, let him get on with it. He may be slow and clumsy at first, but he’ll get there.

Avoid making fun of his efforts, and unless it’s going to put your baby’s life in danger, don’t redo them.

Will Your Breasts Head Down South If You Breastfeed?

28/01/2014
Time and again, health experts remind mothers that ‘breast milk is best for baby.’ And it can’t be disputed. However, even though you want the best for your babies, it is understandable for you to ask what happens to your breasts after breastfeeding.  Do you really have to suffer saggy breasts for the rest of your life, when formula milk provides all the nutritional needs that your babies need? This question may sound really shallow and selfish to some, but it is perfectly valid. After all, your babies will grow up, become adults, and will finally leave the nest, while your breasts will be with you forever. They are part and parcel of your identity.

Sagging breasts is one of the major worries mothers have about breastfeeding and a reason for some to skip breastfeeding altogether. In a previous interview with the Wall Street Journal, plastic surgeon and Director of the University of Kentucky Hand Service, Brian D Rinker, said that women often came to his clinic to ‘have the effects of breastfeeding on their breasts fixed.’ However, this is a myth with no scientific proof.

In fact, when Rinker and his colleague reviewed the files of all the women who came to the University of Kentucky for a breast lift between 1996 and 2006, they found 93 women who had children before the procedure, and 54 of them breastfed one or more babies. After reviewing the photos of these women before they had their surgery and, using a standardized method, measuring the sagging of their breast, they found that there was no difference in the degree of sagging between the women who breastfed and those who didn’t.

Of course, the study was limited in size and only looked at women who decided to have breast lift. But it’s more scientific that the common belief.  And considering my personal experience, I am more inclined to believe the finding. Yes, since the birth of my children, my breasts have undergone a literally big change. Before I gave birth to my first born, I already considered myself well-endowed at cup C. Today, I’m a between E and EE. I breastfed both kids, the first up to seven months and the other up to nine months, but, although they are much bigger now, my breasts haven’t sagged.

So, if the thought of saggy breast is the only thing that stops you from breastfeeding, you can tick it off your list.

Which Breast Pump Is Best?

21/01/2014
Even stalwart supporters of the breasts, at some point in their breastfeeding career, will need the help of the bottle (milk bottle, that is), to feed their babies. It is not possible to have the baby with you 24 hours a day, or to plan your life around your baby’s feeding routine for six months. It is not good for your mental and emotional health. But there is no need for you to rush to the supermarket to choose the most expensive formula milk. You can still feed your baby breast milk from the bottle if you express your milk.

Some mothers worry that their baby will suffer from nipple confusion, but frankly, that is old wives’ tales. Give your baby more credit than that. Yes, feeding from the bottle requires a different sucking action than feeding from the breast, but your baby will get the hang of it quickly. It’s no more difficult than speaking two or three languages, and we know that children can easily do that, given the chance.

Types of breast pumps
There are two types of breast pumps: manual and electric.
Manual pumps are lightweight, simple and quiet to use, portable and, above all, inexpensive compare to electric pumps. On the down side, it takes time to express and pumping is tiring, especially if you don’t have a lot of milk.
Manual pumps work by simulating the baby’s sucking action. The pump comes with breast shield, which is positioned over the nipples, creating a vacuum, which encourages milk flow. The size of the breast shield can affect the efficiency of the suction. If you are using the wrong size breast shield, it can be uncomfortable or even painful.
When choosing a breast pump, look for designs with soft cushions or massage cups, as they are more comfortable to use.

Electric breast pumps, on the other, are faster to use and offer more options. For example, you can get electric breast pumps with different setting or pumping style. Most electric pumps can also be used as a single or double pump, which means you can empty both breasts in one go. On the down side, you need an electric socket or batteries to pump. So, if you are travelling and you ran out of battery, you’ll not be able to use it. It is also noisier than a manual breast pump and more expensive. Some electric pumps can have lots of fiddly parts, making it tricky to sterilise.

To Praise or, Not to Praise

08/01/2014
In 1993, author and lecturer Alfie Kohn published his book ‘Punished by Rewards’ where he claimed that praising children is bad for them. I have only read snippets of Kohn’s work, so it is dangerous for me to criticise or praise it. I must admit, though that I find his titles provocative, and I can’t fully understand whether he is against praise in itself, or the way praise is delivered or the intention behind the praise.

In an interview, Kohn was asked ‘when praise is ok,’ he answered that he has fewer problems when praise are given if the giver is genuinely excited about the child’s effort, but even in those occasions, he believes that it can potentially turn kids into praise junkies. He also believes that praise signals conditional acceptance.

Of course, Kohn’s argument has a scientific basis; after all, he is respected in his industry and considered an expert. However, I think that his view of praise is too cynical for my liking. He considers praise as simply a verbal reward given to manipulate behaviour, and that even if the givers intention is honest, the recipient are still going to experienced praise controlling.

I think this analysis is sad. One because it assumes that all people are manipulative, and two, it underestimates children’s intuition and intelligence.

Children are highly intuitive. They know if their parents are sad, happy and angry. And they can certainly sense if adults are just manipulating them. They may not express it, but that doesn’t mean they are oblivious to it.
Kohn argues that praising children for their effort can have a negative impact. He theorises that this tells a child that he is a loser and not capable of succeeding at future tasks.

Praise isn’t simply a verbal reward; it can be an expression of thanks or pure delight or admiration. Should parents stop themselves from expressing their delight and admiration? Should parents treat children’s achievements and good behaviour as given, and therefore doesn’t need acknowledgement?

Is it wrong for a coach to tell a boy ‘well done for staying alert and catching that ball?’  I don’t think so. But I’m an adult, not a child. In one of his interview, Kohn said why should an adult feel that he needs to tell a child what the child is thinking or feeling. And in that, I agree with him. So, to put that into practice, I asked children whether they should be praised for their work or not. One 10-year old said, yes she wanted to be praised a little because she worked hard to achieve something. She added that she would feel a bit sad if her parents don’t acknowledge her work. Is this a result of over praising her in the past? Could be.

As for the idea that praising is bad for children, a 10-year old boy simply said, ‘It’s a lot of rubbish.’

Swelling hands and feet: Should you be worried?

07/01/2014
Oedema, otherwise known as dropsy is a condition typified by swelling and puffiness. The hands and feet are common sites for this to occur. Often the puffiness will get worse as the day goes on or in hot weather, and will return to normal after resting or in the morning. If it does not improve, it may require medical monitoring.

Why are they swelling?
Oedema is generally caused by fluid retention in your body. If you have swelling fingers, ankles and feet, your GP will look for traces of protein in the urine or an increase in blood pressure as these signs can indicate preeclampsia, which may cause kidney or liver damage in the mother or affect the baby’s growth.



DIY intervention

• Wear support stockings or socks to prevent fluid build-up. Avoid wearing clothing, shoes, socks, and even rings that are too tight, as they can constrict your circulation and make the swelling worse.
• Avoid stress if possible. Stress can cause an excessive production of anti-diuretic hormones, which cause your kidneys to retain more fluid. Do some exercise to help keep your kidneys and colon work efficiently. If you are not used to exercise, avoid rigorous exercises.
• Do some foot exercise to improve blood circulation around your feet and ankles, as well as prevent cramps around your calves. Foot exercise is simple and you can do it while standing or sitting. To exercise your foot, simply bend and stretch it up and down co times. Rotate it clockwise eight times, and counter-clockwise eight times. Exercise one foot at a time.
• Avoid standing for long periods.
• Put your feet up at least an hour a day. When putting your feet up, make sure they are up higher than your heart.
• Avoid foods that are high in salt as salt contributes to your body retaining water.

Oedema as Danger Sign
Although uncomfortable, oedema isn’t harmful, as long as it developed gradually. But, if your face, hands and feet suddenly swell up, you need to see your GP immediately. This could be a sign of preeclampsia, a pregnancy induced hypertension. However, don’t panic. Not all women who experienced sudden swelling had preeclampsia. But it is better to know for certain.

A Guide to Seborrhoeic Dermatitis in Babies

07/01/2014
Babies have sensitive skin that can be irritated easily. Nappy rash are particularly common and can be uncomfortable for your baby. It affects most babies, but some are more prone than others. Also, illness and diarrhoea can make your baby more prone to nappy rash. However, not all skin irritation around the nappy area is because of nappy rash. If the rash around your baby’s nappy area appears blotchy and scaly, it could be a symptom of

Seborrhoeic Dermatitis.
Seborrhoeic Dermatitis has no known cause, and can appear during the first few months of your baby’s life. It can also affect other areas including the scalp, neck, face, armpits and chest. It generally disappears by the time your baby turns two. However, it can come back after puberty, and reappear from time to time throughout your child’s life.

What are the symptoms of Seborrhoeic Dermatitis?
Apart from blotchy and scaly rash around the nappy area, Seborrhoeic Dermatitis is also:
1. Slightly itchy (As your baby can’t tell you she or he itch, look out if your baby scratches the affected area.)
2. Cradle cap – thick yellowish scales on your baby’s scalp
3. Scaly areas behind the ears, on the forehead and eyebrows

Possible Complication
Seborrhoeic Dermatitis doesn’t have any serious complication. However, scratching the affected area can cause bacterial infection, like impetigo, turning the rash raw and weepy. If you suspect that your baby’s skin condition has turned into impetigo, he or she needs to be seen by your GP, who may prescribe antibiotic ointment.

Home Remedy
Make sure that you keep the nappy area clean and dry. When cleaning the area, use emulsifying ointment or just warm water. Don’t use baby soap, as this can further irritate the skin. Avoid using wet wipes. Use wet cotton wool instead.

If your baby’s scalp is affected, you can remove the cradle cap by gently massaging oil on your baby’s scalp, and leaving it overnight. When your baby wakes up in the morning, brush your baby’s hair, to dislodge the scales on your baby’s scalp. After brushing, wash your baby’s hair to remove the scales.
You can also see your pharmacist who can recommend a corticosteroid cream you can apply on the rash. Corticosteroid is more effective if you use it as soon as you see the symptoms. So don’t wait too long before you see your pharmacist.

If your baby’s neck and chest are affected, make sure the areas are kept clean and dry. Use bibs to soak your baby’s dribble. It is probably best to use bandana bibs, as traditional bibs don’t cover your baby’s neck. Change your baby’s bib before it gets soaked.

Winter-proof your baby’s skin this winter

21/12/2013
After the uncharacteristic above average temperature we’ve been experience in the last few weeks, the MET is predicting that the weather will finally turn. Whether we like it or not, the cold season is coming soon. And like the summer, winter brings its own peril to your baby’s skin. Cracked lips, chapped cheeks, windburn and eczema are just a few of the skin problems brought by winter. So, make sure that you protect your baby’s skin from the cold.

So, how do you keep your baby’s skin healthy this winter?
Cover up when outdoor
Strong wind and dry air can play havoc to your baby’s exposed skin, causing dry skin, chapped face and lips, and windburn, which much look and feel like sunburn. To avoid chapped face and windburn, use a hat with flaps secured under his or her chin. This will protect your baby’s ears and most part of his or face. A soft scarf will also do the trick and probably be more comfortable for your baby as it will rub. Its also best to put a spare bandana bib in your baby’s changing bag. It can be a good substitute if you forget to bring a scarf.
Keep baths to a minimum
Having a long hot bath may feel good to adults, but they are bad for babies’ skin. For one, long baths sapped moisture out of your baby’s skin, taking away essential oil that keeps your baby’s skin smooth and supple. Also, when giving your baby a bath, make sure the water is lukewarm, not warm because the warmer the water, the more moisture it saps out of your baby’s skin.
Don’t use soap
Unlike adults, babies don’t smell, so you don’t need soap. Soap is made to remove oil from the skin. As your baby’s skin is already dry, you don’t want to strip it of more oil. If you feel you need soap to clean dirty areas like the genitals and the hands, use emollients.
Pat don’t rub
When drying your baby after bath time, don’t rub the towel briskly. Instead, pat your baby’s skin dry. The process will leave a thin layer of moisture in your baby’s skin.
Moisturise
Use baby moisturiser after bath and before dressing your baby to go outdoors. Moisturise will seal the moisture left in the skin and stop the cold from dehydrating your baby’s skin.

Give your baby plenty of water

Giving your baby plenty of water will replace the moisture he or she’s lost and will stop her from dehydrating. Your baby needs an ounce of fluid per pound of weight per day.



Siesta Helps Toddlers Learn

09/12/2013
The importance of sleep is well documented. For example, it is common knowledge that lack of sleep can significantly affect people’s performance at work.  They become sluggish and their reflexes slow down. And in children, lack of sleep makes them grumpy and more prone to tantrums. Past studies of schoolchildren also revealed that lack of sleep affect their performance at school. But what about babies and toddlers? Does sleep affect their learning?

Most parents would tell you that, of course, it would. But what do parents know? They only look after their toddlers nearly twenty-four hours a day. That hardly gives them expert status. We need hard evidence. We need studies from experts, and it doesn’t matter if their closest experience with toddlers is looking at pictures of babies sporting bandana bibs appearing cool in the arms of their celebrity parents. That fact can only benefit their conclusion, as they look at it without prejudice. But there are very few published studies that specifically looked at how sleep help toddlers’ brain power. Well, until now.

Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst decided that it would be worthwhile spending some time to find out. So, they braved the world of troublesome threes, frustrating fours and fascinating fives. After gruelling months of studying 40 toddlers, (their patience reaching nearly breaking point, and ears constantly ringing), they found that an afternoon nap boosts the toddlers’ memory. In fact, the toddlers remember 10% of information they were tested on after they had a nap, than when they didn’t rest. More significantly, the effect doesn’t just last for the day; it carries on until the next day.

Researchers also monitored 14 children in the sleep lab, and they found that while the children are having a nap, the parts of their brain in-charge of learning and information integration, become more active.
In a statement regarding its finding, lead researcher, Rebecca Spencer, advised that parents should encourage their children to nap. So, if you want to raise a little Einstein, forget buying all those over-priced educational games for toddlers, just put them to bed after lunch and get some peace and quiet.

Fun Christmas Presents for Baby

05/12/2013
Market research specialist, Verdict, is forecasting that people will have more money to spend this Christmas due to the recovery of the housing market and the vast amount of PPI compensation being paid out this year. Unfortunately, not all of us will have a sudden windfall this Christmas. If you’re feeling the pinch, you may not want to spend hundreds of pounds on presents for your baby nieces, nephews, (and even your own baby) only for them grow out of quickly. To help you, we put together a few Christmas presents ides that will give babies endless fun without breaking the bank.

Stacking cups
There are a number of variations of this in the market, costing between £6 and £16, depending on the design. But the one you can pick up for £6 in Early Learning is just as fun for babies as the expensive, decorated £16 version.
We bought one of this for our daughter for her first Christmas, and it was one of the toys she played a lot with throughout her baby and toddler years. She had so much fun stacking them and knocking them down. When our second baby arrived, he also got a lot of fun playing with it. Nine years on since we bought these stacking cups, the children still with them pins for a game of skittles.

Pop up toys
Anything they can bash is fun for babies, and if it makes noise on top of it, then you found a winning toy for a baby. Pop up toys, particularly those with hammers are just that, and educational at the same time. It helps babies recognise different shapes, colours and even different kinds of animals. Again, cost can vary from £10 to £50. Before forking out £50 for a toy, remember that babies can’t appreciate the monetary value of a toy.
Musical footprint mat
If the baby is already moving, musical mats can occupy him or her for a while. As the baby crawls, steps or jumps on it, it plays a tune. It’s better than a musical keyboard because it encourage babies to be active. As the baby grows, he can use it for counting steps or learning left and right movement. The best thing about it is that it can stand up to all kinds of abuse. Even adults can jump all over it.

Of course, if you are looking for more practical but funky present for babies, you can always choose our funky bandana bibs. For just £11, you get five bibs in different colours and design. We promise, you’ll be a hit with the parents.

Healthier Family Routine Improves Children’s Weight

27/11/2013
Concerned about your children’s weight? Less obsession with their weight and spending more time together as a family could be the answer.

According to a study conducted by paediatrician and researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, adopting healthier household routines can help improve children’s weight.

The study involved around 121 families with children ages between two and five. Sixty-two families were educated about, and supported to adopt healthy household routines, but not touching on issues related to children’s weight or obesity. They were encouraged to eat meals together, limit their screen time and get more sleep. The rest of the families received educational materials focusing on children’s developmental milestone, without discussing household routines. During the study, both groups kept the numbers of meals that children shared with the families.

After six months, the families were evaluated, and researchers found that children in families that were encouraged to adopt healthy household routine were sleeping an hour longer than when they started. And their TV viewing time had also gone down by an hour on weekends. Most importantly, children of families that adopted their routine had reduced body mass index (BMI), while those who kept to their routine showed an increase in BMI. The result suggests that the changes in the family routine have contributed to the reduction of the children’s weight.

Senior author of the study, Dr Elsie Taveras, also believed that support and encouragement played a big role in helping families adopt healthier routines. She said that simply telling families to become more physically active is not effective. GPs have to discuss routines with families, and continue to support them while they are making the changes.

Although the study is limited due to the small number of participants, and the findings are not necessarily new, medical professionals welcomed the result. Director of Paediatric Obesity in Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Dr Aaron Carrol, said he is encouraged to see evidence that what our common sense think is right, works and is feasible.

The study was published in JAMA Paediatrics in 9th September.

Is it Selfish to Exercise While Pregnant?

18/11/2013
Thirty five year old and professional weightlifter, Lea-Ann Ellison, caused a major hoo-ha in cyberspace early this month, when photos of herself lifting weights were posted on Facebook. One visitor went as far as saying it’s the ‘most disgusting photo I’ve ever seen in a long time’, and another called her ‘selfish’ and ‘a disgrace.’ But what kind of photos had created this outrage? It’s of heavily pregnant Lea-Ann lifting heavy weights just two weeks before her due date.

Although, Ms Ellison received lots of positive feedback over her fitness, many were quite forthcoming with their criticism. One Facebook user accused Ms Ellison of being selfish and endangering her baby for her own personal gain, while another cautioned that lifting heavy objects whilst pregnant can break the placenta, cause major damage, which can result to miscarriage or early labour.

Ms Ellison is not the first woman to be criticised for doing, what others deemed as extreme exercise, whilst pregnant. In 2012, glamour model and amateur athlete, Neil MacAndrew, was also criticised for running in the marathon whilst pregnant.

The backlash pregnant women received, when doing extreme exercise, reveals that many people still believed in the myth that pregnant women should put their feet up and rest; and that exercise can damage the unborn baby or cause a miscarriage.

Obviously, it is senseless to start strenuous exercise when pregnant if you are not used to it, but it is important for pregnant women to exercise. Medical professionals actively encourage women to be physically active during pregnancy. The NHS recommends that pregnant women keep up with their normal routine for as long as they feel comfortable, and that includes running and other sports.

Personally, I know the difference that exercise makes in pregnancy. When I was pregnant with my first born, I exercised until my due date. I may not be lifting 35lbs of weight, but I was on the cross-trainer and the swimming pool daily. As a result, I didn’t gain excess weight, my labour only lasted 5 hours, no need for any pain relief, and my daughter was fit and healthy. Fast-forward four years; I was pregnant with my second baby. I wasn’t exercising much and I wasn’t fit. By 7 months, I was very big and my legs were swollen. And delivery was difficult. After 10 hours of labour, trying all the pain relief available, I ended up on the operating table.

Just coincidence? I don’t think so. Fitness makes a difference during pregnancy and delivery.

Bibs: Deciding Between Form and Function

14/11/2013
It seems a bit naff discussing the pros and cons of different types of bibs for babies. After all, a bib is just a bib. It performs a simple function: to keep baby’s chin and neck dry. There’s nothing complicated about it.  Or so you think.

Try having a baby who dribbles a lot and goes through a bib every half an hour, and you’ll find yourself looking for something that isn’t only super absorbent, but also easy to wash and if possible, stain repellent. Not to mention, funky enough, so that they don’t look too grubby to use for special occasion. You don’t really want to have a bib set aside to be used just a handful of times.
So, what are your options?

Traditional bibs – You should have a handful of this. They are extremely absorbent, easily available, washable and most of all, cheap (unless you are buying branded ones.) And they have stood the test of time. But they can look grubby and not funky enough for special occasion, when you want to dress up your little one.  Plus, if you get bigger size, they don’t tend to cover the baby’s neck and chest, so dribbles end up going their chest. If you buy a small size they are tight around the neck, and exact sizes, don’t last long before the baby outgrows them. So, parents end up replacing them regularly.

Cover-all bibs – These are great to use when babies have started eating solids. They are usually made up of plastic and they give babies’ clothes protection, including the sleeves. And they are wiped clean. Unfortunately, not many babies like them, as they can be uncomfortable, especially around the wrists.

Disposable bibs – These are perfect for holidays and emergencies only. They don’t offer as much protection as other types of bibs, and they’re not comfortable, either, but you don’t have to keep them until you can wash them.

Bandana bibs – The newest fashion in bibs. They look funky and dressy enough to use for special occasion. They are absorbent, and they cover a wider area than traditional bibs. Plus, they keep babies’ neck and chest dry. However, they are more expensive than traditional bibs.

Sneaky ways to add fruits and vegetables in your child’s diet

07/11/2013
In the last ten years or so, parents have been bombarded with information about healthy eating, with 5 A Day, becoming a buzzword for both children and adults. Yet, despite the numbers of hours spent on creating policy papers and advertising healthy habits, according to a report published by the NHS in February 2013, 9.5% of children in England who started reception during 2011-2012 were obese.

The idea of feeding children fruits and vegetables daily is easy in writing, but many parents know that it is more challenging in practice. For instance, in our home, fruits and vegetables are ‘evil’. Peppers and courgettes are sure to cause dissent on the dinner table, resulting in me threatening my daughter with all sorts of tortures if she doesn’t eat her peppers. If I’m feeling generous, I use bribery.
However, if you object to torture or bribery, try sneaking. Here are some sneaky ideas to add fruits and vegetables in your children’s diet:


Pasta Dish
Very few kids I know don’t like pasta, and it’s the easiest dish to add more vegetables. Simply, go easy on the minced meat and be generous with the sauce. Instead of buying off the shelf sauce, make your own based on creamed tomato, garlic and onion sautéed in olive or sunflower oil. Add finely diced carrots for added bulk to replace the minced meat. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, which is an antioxidant that helps repair damage cells. And unlike other, fruits and vegetables, tomatoes are better when canned or cooked, as the process breaks down and release the lycopene, making it easy for the body to absorb.


Smoothie
Who doesn’t like smoothie? Well, my friend Susan doesn’t like it because it’s cold. But apart from her, most kids and adults I know love smoothie. Made with fresh or frozen fruits, a smoothie is a perfect alternative to carbonated drinks or plain ice cream. What’s more, you can use any fruits you like to make it, so you have a wide choice of flavour to choose from. To thicken, use banana or yogurt instead of ice cream for a healthier option.


Meatballs
Most kids eat meatballs. So it’s another dish you can sneak vegetables into. Instead of buying them ready made, try making your own, adding carrots, mushroom and onions into the mix. Chop the vegetables finely, and your kids will never notice they’re eating vegetables.

Mission Impossible: Shopping with Toddlers

01/11/2013
Your child’s toddler years can be enchanting as well as frustrating. For some parents, toddler years are the most difficult. Although gone are the constant night feeds and unexplained crying, they will be replaced by temper tantrums and chaos, as your toddler explores his newfound freedom. Activities that you used to take for granted when your little one was just a baby, become like mission impossible. Take for example shopping.

When your little one was a baby, food shopping was breeze. In fact, you can do it while interacting with your baby. You put your baby in his carrier and you go around isles picking up supplies while having a conversation with your baby. But once you have a toddler, this rather civilised way of shopping goes out of the window. You end up always on your guard, ensuring that your toddler doesn’t pick a big box of eggs and drop them on the floor. Or worse, disappear in along the other isle while you’re not looking, leaving you with a nervous breakdown.

Of course, there’s the constant whining. If she isn’t running around, your toddler is hungry and wants to eat right now! Or she needs a drink. Or, if she’s already potty trained, she needs the loo. This means living all your shopping somewhere unattended, or wheel the trolley inside a cramp wash room. But shop you must. So, here are some tips to make your shopping less stressful.

Don’t go shopping with your toddler – Unless it is absolutely necessary, don’t take your toddler shopping, unless you have another adult with you. At least, if there are two of you keeping an eye on your toddler, one can shop while the other keeps the toddler off mischief.
If you have to take your toddler with you, make sure that she is well rested and fed before you leave home. And don’t forget to bring with you snacks, in case your toddler decides she’s hungry. It might be a good idea to bring her special toy, just in case she gets the idea that she’d like to play with it while you are shopping. Otherwise, you will end up trying to console her throughout your shopping trip because she can’t cuddle bunnykins.

Prepare a list of your shopping – This will make shopping quicker for you and also ensure that you buy everything you need so you don’t have to shop again short after.

Shop online –If shopping becomes so stressful, online shopping is the best solution. You can buy anything you need while your toddler is busy watching the telly or sleeping, and you can arrange it to be delivered at your convenience. Online shopping also stops impulse buying, which can be good for your wallet.

Gift Ideas for Babies and Parents Who have it all

31/10/2013
Your friend has just given birth. You have a new niece or nephew. Naturally, you would like to celebrate the new arrival; and what better way to do this than offering a gift. We give gifts to let people know they are special or for them remember us by. But, the unfortunate truth is, many of us can’t remember half the gifts we receive. Those that we remember are items that touched us deeply when we received them.

So, it make sense to make an effort to come up with something that shows you’ve thought about the process, rather than just hastily going to the nearest convenient shop. The pricey trinket box or matching newborn outfit may look a perfect gift, but you can bet your life that one in ten babies will be getting the same present. Worse still, three weeks later that matching outfit will not fit the baby and will end up in the charity shop sooner or later.

Sometimes the best gift is something that is free. You don’t need to spend hundreds to pounds to make the new family feel special. Here are two ideas that as parents, we would have loved to receive.

Babysitting time –Offering your time to babysit for your friends’ little one so they can have time together may not be not be tangible, but it will be memorable. And when everything is all and gone, all we are left with are fond memories. Having a new baby is tiring for both mother and father. A two-hour respite to spend time just as a couple can be extremely special.

Don’t forget the presentation. If you just simply tell the recipients of your present that babysitting for them is your present, they may not take you on it because they feel they are imposing on you. So, spend some time creating a voucher or a coupon that they can redeem from you.

Photo session – With digital and built-in cameras in mobile phone, everyone is now a photographer. However, it is still nice to have a family portrait taken by a professional photographer with the whole family together, not sans mummy or daddy. Many parents regret the fact that they didn’t take the time to have an official family portrait done when the children were still babies. Kids grew up so quickly and all parents are left with are the memories of their childhood. Once the baby moccasins, cute bandana bibs and baby blankets have been packed away and given to charity, pictures are the only tangible reminders of what the family had been. But with the chaos that the new arrival brings, arranging a professional photo session is probably the last thing in most new parents’ mind. So, spare them the regret later by arranging it. Photo sessions can be expensive though, so it is a good gift to give from a group of friends or from the whole family.

Your Mother’s Advice: Obey or Ditch?

17/10/2013
When you become a mother, you’ll realise and appreciate how much your mum did for you when you were little. You’ll also realise that a mother never stops being a mum and your mum will try to tell you what to do with your own baby. And since she managed to raise you and you’ve turned out fantastically well, she will have even more reasons to think that she knows best. Here, we’ve put together some of the mad advice you’ll likely to get from your mum.


Wean him early
Your mother may swear that you had solids before you were three months’ old, therefore, you should introduce solids as soon as possible. But this isn’t really a good idea. Your baby’s digestive system isn’t fully developed until he is about four months. So, better hold off until your baby is over four months.


Your baby needs formula milk
Between the 60s and the 80s, bottle-feeding was fashionable. Formula milk was seen as healthier option. That’s because, formula milk has higher protein and mineral content than breast milk, while breast milk has higher lactose content. So, if you were born during these decades, your mum would have been told by experts that formula milk is best.


But, although formula milk sounds healthier on paper, breast milk is still best as it is specially formulated to the right composition to meet the needs of human babies. For example, protein found in breast milk is easier to digest, than protein from cow’s milk, which is what formula milk is generally made of. The high lactose content in breast milk is necessary as it contributes to the development of larger brain.
How you feed your baby is a personal choice. If you want to give breastfeeding a go, stick to it, and turn a deaf ear to mummy’s well-meaning advice.


Don’t let your baby suck his thumb; he will have buckteeth
 Since your baby doesn’t have any teeth yet, and he has been sucking his thumb since before he was born, it’s not likely to harm him. However, by the time your child turns four, and his permanent teeth are starting to grow, it will be best to heed your mother’s advice.


How to handle your mother’s advice
As long as you don’t live with your parents, the best way to handle your mother’s advice is to ignore it, and go with what you believe is right. However, if you live with them and they actively share the care with your baby, it might be more difficult. You’ll just have to grin and bear it. Or move out.

Getting to know your baby’s skin

13/10/2013
We are all pre-conditioned to believe that baby’s skin should be soft, smooth and near perfect. But nothing can be farther from the truth. In fact, if you look closely at your baby’s skin, you will see that it is far from perfect. Baby’s skin has lines, bruises, blotches, spots and specks. All these imperfections are normal and are bound to disappear in time. The remarkable thing about your baby’s skin is that it changes so quickly, sometimes change can happen within in hours.


Stork Bites – Reddish-pink marks usually found on baby’s nape, on the middle of the forehead and eyelids. They sometime look like rashes but they are not. Stork bites are just bunched up overgrown blood vessels that are showing through your baby’s thin skin. These blood vessels will eventually shrink, and your baby’s skin will thicken. By your baby’s first birthday, the mark would have faded or disappeared.


Milia – This looks like whiteheads dotted over your baby’s face, particularly on the nose. They are caused by blockage on your baby’s skin pores. Don’t be tempted to squeeze them out, like you would with ordinary whiteheads. They are normal and will eventually disappear without treatment.


Toxic Erythema or Baby Acne – The name may sound alarming but this yellowish-white spots surrounded with red blotchy ring is pretty harmless. The cause of this skin abnormality is unknown, and although the tiny spots are filled with puss, it is not an infection. It is quite common in healthy babies, particularly with boys, and they can start to appear around two days after birth. By the time your baby is two weeks’ old, toxic erythema will have disappeared without any treatment.


Mongolian blue spots – Also known as ‘spank’ marks. This is more common with babies with dark skin and of Asian or Afro-Caribbean descent. Unfortunately, this is not very common in white babies, so parents’ with babies who have Mongolian blue spots can sometimes be subject to disapproving looks from people who think they have been beating their children. If your baby is mixed race and born with Mongolian Blue Spots, the midwife will record this, so that you can declare it anytime you need to. These spots will eventually disappear by your child’s eight birthday.


Café-au-lait spots – This posh sounding skin mark are flat and brown, and look like tiny puddles of coffee and cream, hence the French name. They don’t grow any bigger as your baby grows, so it will get relatively smaller, but may not totally disappear.

Save your relationship from lack of sleep

07/10/2013
If you imagine that six weeks’ after you give birth, you will be strutting along the high-street, carrying your baby in his designer outfit finished off with a funky bandana bib, looking like a sophisticated modern mum, you’ll probably be disappointed. Being a new parent is exhausting. Even if you are used to late nights, having to function with just four hours of disrupted sleep every night, and care for your baby 24-hours a day, will take its toll.

Sleep deprivation will, without doubt, impact your emotional and physical health. In the first few weeks, you may not feel it as everyone around you will be offering their support, and if your husband is on paternity leave, he will be around to share the burden. But by around six weeks, offers of help will start to die down, your husband will be back to work, and you’ll be on your own for most of the day. It will not take long for you to start feeling shattered, disoriented, grumpy, emotional and unwell. And if you are not vigilant, your relationship will end up suffering.


Why do you need sleep?
It is a common belief that we need sleep to let our body recuperate from the day’s activity. But apparently, that may not be totally true. According to scientists, eight hours sleep only saves us around 5o kilocalorie, which is equivalent to the energy you get from a slice of bread. So, if that’s the case, why do we need to sleep? After all, Margaret Thatcher and Napoleon, managed on four hours’ sleep every night. And Thomas Edison thought that sleep was simply a waste of time.


Well, we may not know how these people managed, but for ordinary individual like us, we need sleep to help our brain function normally. Lack of sleep affects our memory, speech and decision making ability. In fact, lack of sleep is considered to have contributed to major international disasters such the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the worst nuclear power plant accident in history.


How to prevent your relationship from suffering?
Your relationship with your partner is usually the first casualty of sleep deprivation. You’re too tired to even have a normal conversation with your partner, let alone have sex. You may start questioning what happened to the happy couple that you were once.


But don’t fret, if you can get through this phase, your relationship will have it spark again. Don’t feel under pressure that you need to have sex to keep your relationship strong. Your partner will be just as exhausted as you. So, instead of worrying about your lack of sexual drive, focus on spending time and relaxing together. Aim to put your baby to bed early and spend a few hours cuddling on the settee, watching TV and having a glass of wine.
One thing you can be assured of, your sexual drive will come back once you start getting a good night sleep. Although it may take some time, maybe when the kids have flown off the nest.

Shaping up after childbirth

25/09/2013
Apart from the health and development of their newborns, gaining their pre-pregnancy weight and toning their muscles are also major concerns for new mums. But unfortunately, there is no easy way to achieve this.



During the nine months of pregnancy, your body have been through major changes, and it will take nearly as long if not longer, for it to return to normal. In fact, it takes around two years for your body to recover from pregnancy if you deliver normally, and five years if you had a C- section.
For months after you deliver your baby, your body shows many telling clues that you have been pregnant and have had a baby. The extra fat you accumulated during your pregnancy – may leave you with unwanted bulges, and weaken tummy muscles can leave you with wobbly tummy for some time.



When it comes to shaping up after childbirth, patience and determination are key.



Losing weight safely
Remember, it took your body nine months putting on the weight, so don’t expect to lose weight within a few months after delivery. And don’t try extreme dieting to lose weight, especially if you are breastfeeding. Ideally, you need around 500 – 600 extra calories per day to give your baby adequate nutrition, that’s on top of the average 2,000 calories you need to support your body functions and maintain your health.



Here are some tips for losing weight safely.

Consume enough calories that will support your health and well- being – Nutritionists advice breastfeeding mothers to consume at least 2,000 calories daily. The calories should come from a combination of the basic food groups, grains, dairy, vegetables, fruits, meat and fish. If you eat less than the recommended calories while breastfeeding, you’ll not have enough calories to support your health as well as provide your baby with enough nutrition.
Be realistic – Aim to lose weight gradually, around two to three pounds per month. If you are overweight before your pregnancy, you need to lose more than that, less if you were underweight.
Aim to exercise for an hour daily – You don’t have to go to the gym to exercise. Walking briskly for an hour is ideal as it can burn around 500 calories. Plus, it’s great way for you and your baby to get some fresh air. Swimming is also very effective and one hour of breaststroke will burn around 734 calories.
Finally, record your progress. If your weight is going down, you are feeling good, your baby is thriving and your milk supply is not dropping, then you have reached your ideal calorie level.

What you need to know about newborn jaundice

22/09/2013
If you notice that your baby’s skin and eyeballs appear a little bit yellow on the third or fourth day after she is born, don’t panic. Most babies develop some degree of jaundice, and it’s as common as prickly heat in babies.



Jaundice is caused by the build-up of bilirubin (a by-product of old red blood cells) in our blood. Everyday, old red blood cells die and they are replaced with new ones. When red blood cells die, your body gets rid of it, but bilirubin, a yellow pigment that protects the cell, is left behind. This happens in our body everyday, but we don’t turn yellow because our liver filters the bilirubin from our blood, and gets rid of it.



Cause of newborn jaundice
Babies are born with more red blood cells than they need. In the first few days after birth, these red blood cells start to die. However, your baby’s liver isn’t mature enough to handle the extra amount of bilirubin, so they start to build up and settle in the skin, turning you baby’s skin yellow.



Once your baby’s liver matures and the extra red blood cells are gone, the yellow tinge will start to disappear. This usually happens within one to two weeks after, and it is harmless.



Abnormal jaundice
If your baby develops jaundice within 24 hours after birth, it is considered abnormal. It means that red blood cells are destroyed too fast, and too much bilirubin are released in your baby’s system, which if not treated can cause brain damage. However, this rarely happens as abnormal jaundice can be easily treated.



Cause of abnormal jaundice
Abnormal jaundice occurs when your and your baby’s blood type are incompatible. For example, you may have a type-O blood and your baby may have a type A or B, or you may be Rh- and your baby is Rh+. When your baby is born, your own antibodies are circulating in your baby’s blood stream to support your baby’s immature immune system. However, if you have incompatible blood types, your baby’s antibodies will see yours as a foreign body and start attacking it, damaging your baby’s red blood cells in the process. As a result, high level of bilirubin is produced, and jaundice occurs quickly.



Treatment for abnormal jaundice
When jaundice appears within 24 hours after your baby is born, your paediatrician will take a blood sample from your baby to check her bilirubin level. If it is low, it is harmless, and it may not need any treatment. However, if it is too high and is rising rapidly, your doctor may decide to increase your baby’s fluid intake to flash out the excess bilirubin, and put your baby under a phototherapy lamp. The lamp dissolves the extra bilirubin deposited in the skin so it can be excreted in the urine.
Alternatively, your doctor may decide to use a bili-blanket instead of phototherapy lamp. Your baby will be wrapped in a blanket with phototherapy lights that dissolve jaundice.

What is baby led weaning?

11/09/2013
After the information the BBC published about baby food not containing enough nutrients for a baby, I was curious to find out about baby led weaning.


Baby led weaning or BLW is letting your child feed themselves rather than poking pureed food in to their mouths. This means no pureed food, no baby rice, no blueberries and broccoli combo’s just ordinary food cut into hold-able sized pieces for your baby to munch on.


Not a lot of formal research has been conducted regarding BLW although small studies have shown that babies are more likely to eat a wide range of family foods early on and be less picky if they have been allowed to feed themselves. Many mothers on Mumsnet maintain that BLW has been much easier for them and there little ones seem to enjoy it and be healthy.


You can start BLW from six months although it is advised that you carry on breast feeding or giving your baby formula milk in between mealtimes. Your baby will slowly start decreasing the amount of milk they take in as they eat more solids.


You could with sticks of steamed vegetables such as carrots and broccoli also sticks of soft fruit and vegetables like mangos and avocados. Don’t give honey or nuts to any child under one because this can be very dangerous. Always watch your child when they are eating and learn the difference between choking and gagging, many little ones will gag when they start feeding themselves so try and be relaxed about it but make sure you know exactly what to do in case they do start to choke. Be careful with raw pear and apple because they can be quite hard so you could lightly steam them or even fry them with a little butter and cinnamon for a very yummy snack.


Babies can find it hard to chew on well cooked meat which is a good source of iron so make sure you include other foods with high iron content such as hummus or beans.


Try not to put the food in to your child’s mouth, rather pop some different things in front of him such as steamed sweet potato and cucumber and let them play and discover these foods on their own. It is much better to put them straight on to their high chair tray rather than in a bowl as bowls and plates have a tendency to get flung on the floor!
BLW can get very messy so make sure you and your baby are dressed for smushed banana and smeared tomato sauce! If it’s warm outside your little one can sit outside in just a nappy and happily experiment with lots of foods, just make sure you are watching closely and you have your camera ready!


BLW is easy to do anywhere as all you have to do is pop some ready prepared finger foods in a Tupperware container and let your baby help themselves, they will love rummaging around looking for the food they like best. Some interesting recipe ideas can be found here;


I would love to know how you get on if you decide baby led weaning is for you, so all comments are very welcome.

Tips for a safe and less stressful birth

09/09/2013
Parenting begins before your baby arrives. Today, you have many birth options available to you. You are not expected to simply lie on your back with your legs propped up the stirrups. However, along with the freedom of choice comes the responsibility of making an informed decision. It would be unwise to say that you will have a relaxed and easy birth experience if you make the right choices, but it will definitely make the experience safer and less traumatic. In this article, I would like to share some birth tips that I found most helpful based on my personal and professional experience.


1. Keep a positive mental attitude – This may sound like a gratuitous advice but according to a study conducted by Dr Gerhard Rottmann from the University of Salzburg, your mental attitude has the single greatest effect on your newborn. Rottman studied 141 women throughout their pregnancy up to the time they gave birth.  He found that mothers with a positive mental attitude had the easiest pregnancy, most trouble-free births and healthiest baby, both emotionally and physically. On the other hand, mothers with negative mental attitudes experienced more medical problems during pregnancy. They also had the most number of premature births and low-birth weight babies.


2. Keep moving – Lying on your back while in labour is probably the least helpful labour position you can take. That position is more for the benefit of the midwife or doctor, so they can examine you or get to the baby easily if they need to intervene with the birth. In fact, when I delivered my firstborn, lying on my back made the contraction more painful.


So, unless you have had an epidural, keep moving. In fact, in the early stage of labour, you’ll probably feel restless. It’s your body telling you to keep moving. Keeping active can help labour progress quicker and also eases the discomforts.


3. Avoid lying on your back - According to Dr William Sears, co- author of the ‘Baby Book’, lying on your back during delivery puts pressure on your blood vessels, thus reducing the blood supply to your uterus and your baby. He likened back birthing to pushing your baby ‘uphill’, as lying on your back narrows your pelvic outlet. Additionally, when you lie on your back and lift your feet up, it tenses the birth canal, making it difficult for the baby to pass through.


Dr Sear recommends squatting as it widens the pelvic outlet for pushing, or standing, as it allows gravity to help make delivery easier.


4. Create a birth plan – The more you plan your birth, the more likely you are going to get what you want. A birth plan can help your midwife understand what you want, giving them a chance to support you better. However, be flexible. However much you plan your birth, it’s not going to follow your script. So, separate what is most important to you, from what would be nice.  And don’t copy someone else’s birth plan. It’s not a test on how well you can write your plan; it’s about expressing your expectations during the birthing process.

Hand luggage – the essentials when travelling with under 3’s

28/08/2013
The thought of flying anywhere with a baby or toddler can be daunting. It’s hard enough remembering everything for a day out but being cramped on a plane for hours can almost take away the magic of going on holiday. With baggage allowances looming over you when packing, you can often be left unsure of what is essential to include or just leave out altogether. Then there are the worrying restrictions regarding what you can and can’t pack in your hand luggage, especially around liquids which can be especially confusing when packing for a baby who will perhaps need a formula feed during your flight. Here is a guide to give you an idea of the kind of items to include in your hand luggage.


Food and drink for baby – if your little one doesn’t have their own seat (normally under 2), they will not be provided with an in-flight meal (this applies to long-haul, many short haul flights don’t provide in-flight meals at all anymore, check with your operator). With the confusion around liquids, the easiest thing to do is take the ready-made formula in cartons. You will be allowed to take this onto the flight as long as the seal has not been broken, no questions asked. You could either pre-sterilise bottles for younger babies, or you can buy the sterile, throw away bottles just for the flight. This will prove as slightly more expensive however it could save you a lot of messing around. Baby food in jars is permitted as long as the seals are not broken. You will not be able to take anything cooked at home, but sealed items bought from the airport after check in will also be permitted. Snacks bought during the flight can be expensive, so pack a few into your hand luggage to break up the time between meals – there will be a lot of sitting around and very little to occupy their little minds. A little extra snacking than usual won’t do them any harm, especially if you choose healthy options. Check with your airline to find out if fruit is permitted, if not, raisins and sultanas in sealed packets could work as an alternative.


Make sure you pack enough nappies, baby wipes, bandana bibs and more than one change of clothes for your little one. It’s also a good idea to pack a light change of clothing for you.


It’s also important to take some items to keep older babies entertained - colours and colouring books, books to read, a couple of their favourite (smaller) toys. If you have a smart phone, download some suitable games or videos beforehand. You can use your phone during the flight as long as it is in aeroplane mode – you won’t be able to make a call or use the internet but you can provide the kids with hours of entertainment if you plan it properly. Don’t forget soothers and if yours is a later flight, take their night clothes to change into so they can go straight to bed when you get to your destination.


Last of all, try to relax. I’ve spoken to so many mums who are panicking over what to include in their hand luggage. A holiday is supposed to be a fun and relaxing experience so make sure it is. Include these essentials and sit back and enjoy your flight!

Why do children need to have MMR jabs?

27/08/2013
In April this year, measles epidemic in Wales hit the headline when over 1,000 people had been reported to have caught the disease in the area. Measles is a highly contagious and serious disease. In severe cases, complication can include slow progressive disorder of the brain, which doesn’t manifest until after the infection. The brain degeneration causes seizures and, at worst, death. Fortunately, severe cases only occur in 1 in 100,000 cases. Worldwide, measles is the still one of the biggest killers in children. However, in the UK, measles was effectively eradicated when MMR vaccination was introduced in 1988.


Unfortunately, in 1998, a study conducted by Dr Andrew Wakefield claimed that MMR is associated to bowel disease and autism. The study has been subsequently been found inaccurate, as it only involved 12 children, with no controls and wasn’t designed to check for cause or harm. Additionally, Brian Deer, a journalist discovered that Dr Wakefield received money from lawyers who wanted to sue vaccine manufacturers, two years before he published his study. The British General Medical Council has since struck off Wakefield from the medical register.


However, the media frenzy that followed after the Dr Wakefield’s claim prompted many parents not to have their children vaccinated, leaving many children unprotected. Between 2003 and 2004, less than 8 in 10 children received MMR vaccination. As a result, reported cases of measles started to increase. In 2012, England and Wales recorded 2,016 confirmed measles’ cases, the highest recorded in 18 years.


MMR vaccine doesn’t just protect children from measles. It also protects them from mumps and rubella, which are both highly infections, and can have dangerous complications. Furthermore, if a pregnant adult catches any of these infections, it can cause miscarriage. In case of rubella, if it doesn’t result to miscarriage, the baby may develop CRS (Congenital Rubella Syndrome), which can cause blindness, deafness, and heart or brain damage.

A Calmer Kid’s Party on a Budget

09/08/2013
This weekend Poppy turns 9 and we’ve agreed to a huge garden party, our first one since the very expensive 5th birthday party some years ago.

It didn’t start out as expensive we thought that if we made all of our own food it would be fine, but we also had this idea that we should cater for adults too.

You’ll know if you have school aged children that kids party food can look ever so inviting when taking your child to their friend’s birthday bash. As poppy was young and most parents would stay we thought we’d cater for them too. This meant we spent a week making fancy salads, cakes, scones, quiches and canapés along with the usual party food.

As the day rolled around the parents dropped off their children and waved goodbye in a flash. As a parent who’s always stayed close by, I was a little taken aback. Suddenly my husband and I were in charge of 30 five year olds and we didn’t even know all of their names!

The rice Krispy buns and tuna sandwiches disappeared in a flash, whereas the meringues, the scones and the salads just sat there completely untouched.

We were of course thrilled when the end of the party arrived and every child had a home, swapping the food in the party bags for lentil loaf and broad bean salad tubs, we decided we’d at least palm off some of the food.

So this year her party plans to be even bigger as she’s recently moved schools and needs to make new friends, we’re expecting quite a lot of guests. Although she’s four years older, there won’t be a salad in sight, they’ll be sausage rolls, cheese on sticks and cornflake nests, and in fact she could probably do the catering herself!

I’ve also made some lavender and elderflower cordial in advance to add to the lemonade, as I’m hoping it keeps them all a little bit calmer than last time, when we had kids riding the goats bareback and using the washing line for practicing trapeze acts.

There was also one particular boy who was the son of a lord who had an obsession with kicking my husband in the family jewels. He’s dug out his old rugby kit and will be wearing that on the day complete with protective cup!

Silly Sibling Rivalry

07/08/2013
I remember as a child having physical fights with my brother as we fought over the silliest things yet the thought of my own children fighting like this fills me with absolute dread.

It’s an idealistic notion to expect them to get on all the time, and in a way it could be seen as a positive thing that they feel confident enough to disagree but I still can’t shake the dream that they’ll all be the best of friends and grow up without a cross word.

Now, the older two, Poppy and Mitchell are best friends when no one is looking. Mitchell is autistic, so he gels well with Poppy who is four years his junior. They share similar interests in TV and games and so when other friends aren’t present they play well together. Until mum or dad walks in.

They share a competitive nature that means both want to be seen as the best in our eyes, the best at Maths, English, creativity (not housework funnily enough) and this battle for approval can lead them to dirty tactics as they try to discredit the others achievements. This is when the fights start.

I have found the ideal solution for this, and that’s to make myself the common enemy. Quite simply, if I’m the ogre, they band together and fights are forgotten in a trice.

Enter the next problem, our 2 year old Percy, who needs 24 hour care and attention but is an absolute delight. Big brother is old enough to understand the age difference yet big sister, with a 6 year age gap resents the extra attention. I can’t use my ogre tactics here.

I’ve tried everything, from time alone with Poppy to giving her extra responsibility to revisiting her own childhood, to showing just how alike they are. Still she bosses her around as if she’s the family pet and refuses to share any toys unless she attaches terms and conditions.

I will continue to try to encourage Poppy to be the better bigger sister, but if I look back to my old childhood, being the baby of the family, I do remember the clearly defined pecking order that meant I was often left out.

Maybe it’s a case of idealism, a dream that can never be true and the natural progression is all part of growing into a well-rounded adult, only time will tell. Any thoughts or advice is much appreciated!

Potty Training Success with Zero Effort

06/08/2013
Potty training has always been a subject my friends and family discuss as they’ve found it so difficult. Now on my third child, I think I’ve finally mastered how to do it without any hassle although of course it usually depends on the child.

For example, my first child, Mitch is now 13 years old, I remember my ex mother in law forcibly holding him down on the potty as he refused to use it for a number 2. Distressing and unnecessary I’m pretty sure this contributed to him wetting the bed until he was seven years old.

My second child, poppy, now 9 seemed to pick it up in a trice. She hated anything dirty, hands or bum and so would climb onto the toilet, no potty required. She did give me one of the most embarrassing times of my life though when I attended a parents evening for my son. I’d risked taking her with just pants on, but then she had a number 2 accident all over the Lego and stickle bricks. I never did see eye to eye with that teacher again, or view stickle bricks in the same way.

Enter my third child, I’m so relaxed with Percy that I wish I could go back and have a little chat to myself when raising the other two. I’ve not even brought up using a potty as at 2 years old I thought it was best just to let her do her thing without any pressure. She still has milk from a bottle at night and loves her dummy, yet despite in laws telling me to remove them both I see very little point. I’m pretty sure she won’t have these when she’s 25 and sat in a board meeting so I see no reason to force the issue.

This so fa has worked with the potty. On a very warm sunny day I bought a cheap one as she played without a nappy on. She wasn’t interested so I thought no more of it. Then last week, without me realising, she took herself to the potty and now uses it expertly every day.

Of course she’s been congratulated but we’ve treated it as if it’s normal, no massive funfair, just a very big well done. Now she’s trying her best to climb on the toilet so she can be a big girl instead.

I’m sure it doesn’t work for everyone but I do believe after three that when you remove the pressure it makes for a much happier child and mother!

Common Relationship Problems after Baby

05/08/2013
There’s a reason TV chat show hosts always warn against having to a baby to save a relationship, it’s because this amazing event can put an incredible strain on your partnership. Although not often talked about the majority of couples find that they face friction, resentment and arguments once a new baby enters the home.
Of course there is that bond that can’t be broken as the three of you become a family unit, yet the practical side of parenthood does leave us with a little conflict.

Here are the most common problems:

Time Together
You will probably be used to spending time together doing nothing, now every second must be accounted for as one little person needs you 24/7. If with paternity and maternity leave it is impossible to truly relax until the baby is in a good night-time routine.

Intimacy
After everything your body has been through intimacy may be the last thing on your mind and it is recommended you wait 6 weeks too. This can put a strain on some relationships where partners have relied on this to maintain a close relationship.

Responsibility
Without clear ideas of responsibility conflict can arise. He may expect you to complete the housework as you’re not at work whereas you may long for him to come home just so you benefit from an extra pair of hands. Some partners forget just how hard it is looking after a baby without throwing in housework on top, the days of finishing work and putting your feet up til bedtime are gone.

Breastfeeding
Breast is of course best for the baby but it does come with its drawbacks until you are at the stage where you can express. You can swap nightshifts or enjoy just one entire night’s sleep as your partner doesn’t have the means to take over. This can cause resentment as you see them awake fresh as a daisy every morning but it won’t last forever.

Being prepared is the key towards tackling these problems, it’s best to talk about them when you have time before the birth of your baby. Discuss responsibility, make plans for time together and make a promise that you’ll snuggle a bit in the first six weeks.

Time for a Reality Check to Beat Postnatal Depression

04/08/2013
There’s no denying that the birth of your first child is a wonderful joyous occasion that deserves a huge celebration however as more and more women are diagnosed with postnatal depression, I believe that the truth should be offered to expectant mums before the birth so they are prepared for the negative as well as the positive changes on their life.

As it stands many women hide feelings or struggles they face as their friends and family have hid these before them so they assume it is their fault that everything isn’t a bed of roses. This feeling of inadequacy can lead to postnatal depression as the fluctuating hormones compete with new emotions and a drastically altered lifestyle. It’s important for every woman to know that every first time mother struggles, and amongst the giggles, the cuddles and the bonding, there is an exhausting side of this new life.

Common Problems Include:

A Lack of Sleep
It seems ironic that when our bodies go through the most enduring experience we are not allowed the time to rest and recover. In other circumstances we’d easily take a few weeks off work, catch up on daytime TV and make everyday a duvet day. A new-born baby won’t allow this as suddenly those days are over and this can cause exhaustion, when all you really need is rest.

Anxiety and Panic
Suddenly you’re faced with responsibility of this tiny human being who can’t do anything independently. The overwhelming surge of love can leave us breathless when we spot what could be a rash or when they develop a fever. This all contributes to our emotional wellbeing and makes us feel quite wrung out, yet it is a natural part of motherhood.

Bye Bye Beach Body
There are a few lucky people who can endure pregnancy and birth without leaving a stretch mark or scar behind. For the rest of us we have now to contend with a distorted stomach, varicose veins and piles. Suddenly we wish we’d appreciated the mark free figure we had pre baby and lose a little self-esteem as we reminisce.
Read my next post on how it can affect your partnership too.

Day Care Colds – Normal or Not?

07/07/2013
By Martina Mercer

The luxury of being able to stay at home with a baby until school age is no longer achievable for everyone as many of us need to work just to put food on the table.
This leaves us with no option but to choose childcare for our little ones, yet despite strict regulations some are better than others. I’ve chatted with a lot of parents recently and every one of them seemed concerned about the amount of illnesses picked up in day care. Not only is this awful for the child, and the parents with the subsequent sleepless nights, it can become very expensive and also jeopardise jobs as you take time off to compensate.

It’s a fact that once your baby starts childcare they will be susceptible to more coughs and colds but how many is too many?

When Percy was in a nursery she had so many illnesses she spent more time out of childcare than in. It wasn’t until my older daughter also stayed there for a morning that we discovered why.

My daughter witnessed:
Percy eating chalk that had been on the floor and trodden on by every baby and child, yet when she asked the child-minders they told her it was natural.

• Percy eating soil that had recently been weed on by a cat yet once again this was deemed as natural.

• Children eating off the floor as there were not enough highchairs.

• Children with runny noses for hours, which they’d wipe with their own hands and spread everywhere, they weren’t cleaned until parents were due.

It may seem fussy and with ducks, chickens and land, we’re not exactly OCD about cleanliness, we love messy play but this definitely contributed. Now she’s with a child-minder, she has very few coughs and colds’, showing just what is actually normal. 3 or 4 a year is fine; one a week is ridiculous, so if your baby is contracting many coughs and colds, try being a fly on the wall for a day.

Understanding your babies babbles

07/07/2013
Even before your baby was born it could hear your voice and they started to learn how language works. From birth the great adventure of learning to talk starts. Research has shown that within a month of birth, new-borns are able to learn and differentiate sounds of language. Your tiny new-born practises their lip, tongue and palate movements that are all required to properly talk.

From just a few months old your baby will make babbles, consonant sounds like buh or duh. While your baby makes these wonderful babble sounds they will also start coordinating their noises with eye contact. Your baby is having a conversation with you! This time is so important for your baby to start developing their social skills. When you coo and chat with your baby make sure you stop and let them respond in some way, this lets them know how interested you are in them and gives them massive pleasure and reinforces the close bond you have with them. Imitate the sounds they make and let them know how much you are enjoying the conversation by smiling and laughing with them.

From four to five months your baby is discovering how exciting the noises they can make are. They are exploring what they can do with their skills. They will also laugh a lot which will make for some beautiful photos, so make sure you have your camera ready!

At roughly six to seven months you may start interpreting your baby’s babbles as words. Your baby’s brain will start will start cataloguing the words they hear so be sure to carry on talking to your baby as much as possible. Read to them and point out things and people. ‘Look, can you see daddy? He is in the garden by the big apple tree.’ Your little one loves the sound of your voice and they are learning constantly so if you can, try and narrate your day together. The babbles you will hear from your baby are known as canonical babbles. Your baby may well repeat words you say such as dada, or mama, their brain is hard at work associating their words with objects and people.
The last stage of babbling is between 10 and 15 months. You will be able to hear distinctive words although it will often seem like your toddler is speaking a language of their own. This language period is called Jargoning and your little one will be able to understand a lot more than they can say. Encourage your child’s language abilities by playing interactive singing games with them like ‘pat a cake’ or ‘insy winsy spider’.

Don’t worry if your child is not as advanced as you would like, all children develop at different speeds and the most important thing is that you and your little one love spending time together, playing singing and talking to each other. It is suggested by speech and language pathologists however that if your child’s first words are delayed beyond 15 months that you go and see your baby’s doctor.

Remember that your little ones loves interacting with you and never be embarrassed by baby talk, research conducted by the Carnegie Mellon University has revealed that infant-directed speech helps infants learn words more quickly than normal adult speech. So when your baby babbles, be sure to babble back!

“By loving them for more than their abilities we show our children that they are much more than the sum of their accomplishments.”
 Eileen Kennedy-Moore

Choosing bed linen for baby

02/07/2013
It’s the instinctive fear of a parent that their baby will become to hot or too cold in the night. It is especially difficult to regulate temperatures for a tiny newborn, who has little body fat but is too small to have many blankets.

Common sense naturally tells parents that a baby will need less coverage of a night during summer than they will in winter, but what are the right kinds of things to buy?

Thin sheets and cellular blankets are the best choice for a young baby. It is easy to layer thin blankets depending upon the weather, as even summer temperatures can drop during the night. Babies do not need a pillow until they are at least 12 months old.

Moses baskets, cribs and cots all have elasticated or flat folding sheets for use as an under sheet. Baby blankets can be found in many large supermarkets, as well as baby apparel shops. Some cot mattresses also provide a waterproof layer, or can have a waterproof sheet fitted that sits below a regular sheet. They wipe clean and stop any spills accidents from penetrating the mattress.

An alternative to sheets is a baby sleeping bag. These handy inventions are especially good for wriggly sleepers, as there is no way to kick them off during the night. They have a side zip and a pinafore-style top, so that baby’s arms are free on the outside of the bag. Sleeping bags are available in various togs, in the same way that a duvet is noted for thickness.

Some parents opt to have a cot bumper attached around the top sides of the cot. This stops baby from bumping their head on the bars, or getting arms and legs tangled up. Bumpers are safe for certain ages, but can be hazardous in some situations. Always consult with an experienced retailer before fitting one.

Are grandparents always right?

28/06/2013
Last week, my mother casually remarked upon how cautious I am about keeping my child’s clothes clean. She told me that “kids should have a little dirt,” and eyed my pile of muslin cloths and bandana bibs with amusement. I just want to make life easy with these handy inventions! I felt so criticised…

Most parents will feel that their own parents act differently in the role of a grandparent, to how they were with their own children. Inevitably, this is purely because the role of grandparent and parent are usually quite different. Does the benefit of experience mean however that grandparents are always right?

There is no easy answer to this question, and the answer is different from family to family. The best place to start when trying to decide whether to act upon a grandparent’s advice about your children, is to look into your own feelings towards the grandparents as parents themselves. Were you fundamentally happy with the love and support that they gave you? Do you feel that they have the best intentions at heart for your own children? Hopefully the answer will be yes to both of these questions, but if it isn’t, then extra work needs to be done, either privately or via a professional, to resolve feelings from the your upbringing.

Just as everybody makes mistakes, so do grandparents. Learning to assert your wishes to your own or partner’s parents can be challenging, but it is not impossible. If the reason is clear behind your request for grandparents to do, or not do something, then there can be no reason for reproach. Some parents struggle to stand up to their own parents, as they can often still feel like they are seen as a child in their eyes.

Accepting that your child will view you differently to their grandparents will immediately help you to reflect, if you begin to draw comparisons between you. Often, grandparents can seem to be your child’s ‘favourites’, as they may be more indulgent or lenient. It’s best never to take this to heart, or spoil your children to compete with the grandparents. Seeking a balance and understanding between the two generations of child bearers, will promote happiness and wellbeing within the family.

School dinner vs. Packed lunch

26/06/2013
Every once in a while my children come home from school asking me if they can have packed lunch instead of school dinners, and my answer is still the same one I gave my daughter six years ago: ‘NO’.

My daughter is now in year 5 and she has asked me if she can have packed lunch if she prepares it herself. And my answer is still ‘No.’ ‘But Mummy, I’m the only girl in class who is having school dinner.’ - my daughter complains. But I’m standing firm on my decision.

I know I sound like a mean mummy, which I’ve been called by my daughter many times, albeit only jokingly. I’m not refusing packed lunch on the basis of principle, or because I want my children not to give in to peer pressure.

I also don’t believe that children on school dinners eat better than children on packed lunch. I tell everyone that I prefer my children to eat cooked lunch every day because we always have cooked breakfast and tea, and that is what they are used to. And I’ve convince my children that they will be bored with sandwiches every day. Of course, other parents tried to convince me that there are other foods suitable for packed lunch.

The fact is - if I let my children go on packed lunch, I’m afraid they end up hungry. I just dread the thought that they get to school and I realise that I’ve not prepared them anything to eat, and they will tell their teachers that they are hungry because I have not packed them any food. Or worse still, that they will turn up at school late every day because I forgot to prepare their lunch in time. I’m sure that social services will have a great case against me.

I still remember when I go to an office to work. The office is in a residential area and the closest shop is about five minutes’ drive. And often I will forget to prepare lunch that my husband, who works from home, has to drive to my office to deliver my lunch. It was not a one off. It was a regular occurrence. And when my son was at playschool, they didn’t provide any lunch, so all kids had to bring their own packed lunch. At least, once a week, I have to get there before lunch to deliver his lunch because I forgot to prepare it beforehand. At the end, it was too complicated, I moved him to a nursery that provide lunch to make sure he gets a decent lunch.

So, on the debate between packed lunch and school dinner, I would always side with school dinner. Not because it’s healthier or better for my children, but it is much convenient. But I do admire mums who take the time to prepare their children’s packed lunch because I think it requires a lot of planning and organising.

Special Days of the Week

22/06/2013
By Martina Mercer

Although I spend every minute of free time I can with all three children, I’m not a conventional mummy, as I work 60 hours a week and have done since my first baby was born over 12 years ago.

I used childcare sparingly for my first, as he was a delight to take to work- the bonus of being self-employed. For my second I used childcare a LOT, as she was quite hyper active and getting anything done was impossible, for Percy, my husband has taken the reins . Since I stopped breast feeding he has taken over the night time feeds, he sleeps with her if she wakes in the night, he looks after her all day and then works on a weekend.

So weekends are known as Mummy Days!
At 2 years old my daughter knows when these arrive, she seems to have a sixth sense. In the morning she’ll wake up shouting my name, rather than shouting for Daddy as she does on a weekday.

If I happen to go out without her on a weekend, she’ll tantrum until I return, as she does view it as our time. Obviously the older two spend a lot of time with us too.
Lately we’ve been outside with the sun, we’ve bought some ducklings, chicks and baby turkeys and we’ve been teaching Percy how to be kind as one tight squeeze can be the end of them! On mummy days, Percy also refuses to have a nap so we have to find activities all day long.

I’m lucky as my husband does most of the housework during the week as I work so a lot of the time I can concentrate on the children on a weekend. When hubby has the weekend off too, I give him the break he deserves and let him go tinker with wood in his workshop or simply watch the football uninterrupted.

Talking to friends they told me about special days during the week that they have such as a princess day, Pancake Day, pyjama day and Lego day.

Do you have any special days?

The Lack of a Support Network - A Trip Away

20/06/2013
By Martina Mercer
This weekend it’s my birthday and my husband and I are spending a few days of adult only time in a hotel. This has been planned for months and is something we never thought we’d be able to do ever again.

Unfortunately, my MiL who we used to rely upon to look after Percy decided she couldn’t do it anymore, whereas my mother has the two older ones and at 60 something three children is just a little much.

Then a great friend stepped in as she declared we really should be able to have some alone time, but as it’s the first time we’ll have left Percy without family we’ve actually booked a hotel just a few miles away from her house!

It sounds so silly when clients ask where I’m going as we’re staying in a hotel in Hull, not the most popular destination in the world, yet the point is to have some time to ourselves, so with a bit of luck the lack of scenery won’t matter.

My friend is a prescription nurse so I have absolutely no doubt Percy will be in the safest of hands, yet when I’ve finished work today I’ll still be writing another 3000 word essay detailing her routines and dislikes just in case!

When we lost our family support network I did feel a little disgruntled as I’ve always offered babysitting services to everyone, then I talked to my brother, living in London with twins that rarely sleeps he finds it even harder.

He hasn’t had a night alone with my SiL for 3 years and when I offered to take the children for a week he declined as he told me they wouldn’t sleep and they’d just worry so much it wouldn’t be worth it.
We’d love to hear about your support network, do you ever get time alone?

A Tired Toddler or Something Else?

19/06/2013
Nits/ Headlice
With two older siblings in school it was inevitable that Percy would catch nits at some point. My daughter has very long hair and no sooner have we treated her then a couple of days later she’s home with nits again. We use the nit comb every week and tie her hair back but there seems to be one child she always catches them from.

At first I didn’t consider Percy and being under two she couldn’t have the same lotion as the older ones. Instead we used a natural remedy that seemed to do the trick!

Pin Worm
I’m not averse to messy play at all, we have a small holding so dirt is part of everyday life but pinworm never entered my head. Yet on inspection we found that Percy had got it probably from the ducks. It was easily treated and the whinging stopped within hours!

Thrush
Percy and I enjoy a bath together every night it’s one way to spend time together after work, so when I bought tonnes of essential oils, I thought being natural products they’d do no harm in the bath. Unfortunately my sleepy lavender potion gave poor Percy thrush, so now we stick to Johnson’s baby bedtime bath!

Messy Games Babies Love

12/06/2013
From as soon as she could crawl I’ve tried to involve my youngest in my hobbies so that when we spend time together I can spend my time off doing a little of what I like to do to.

This has allowed me to find ways to keep her entertained and now she’s pretty good in the kitchen, garden and around the house.

In The Garden
Before crawling, baby would happily sit in the garden on a play mat watching as I weeded and planted yet once mobile it was difficult to keep her in one place at a time, so this is what I did.
• At 8 months: I discovered by accident that two cups, a spoon and some soil would keep baby entertained for quite a while when she filled up a cold cup of tea with mud. It sounds so simple, but add a little water and they love believing they’re making a concoction, it’s quite amazing to watch.
• At 15 months: At 15 months I let baby loose with poster paints and the shed. The brightly coloured result was so appealing that I was disappointed when the rain washed it all off!
• At 2 years: Now Percy plants, weeds and looks for worms. She is fascinated by every creature she sees from worms to butterflies and bumble bees. Sometimes she will pull the petals off a flower but she’s mastered the art of digging a hole with her trowel and planting plants.

In the Kitchen
I love to bake yet I only have time when I’m not working and thus in charge of all children. Some friends will only bake when their toddlers are out of the house as they simply can’t with children around.
This is how I introduced Percy
• At 6 months: At 6 months I gave Percy bread dough to play with while in her high chair. It got quite a battering and I had to watch to make sure she didn’t eat it. The dough she played with was made into a small bun and rose better than any other!
• At 12 months: At 12 months Percy was given her own rolling pin. From her high chair she’d spend ages bashing and rolling pastry. She would also slice it with a plastic knife and add the odd raisin!
• At 2 Years: Now Percy likes to help with everything in the kitchen. She loves mixing and making concoctions. She will crack eggs into recipes, (I go in and scoop out stray egg shell), she loves to whisk, she’ll chop peppers and soft fruit and still loves her rolling pin. Of course it’s always messy and we do have a bit of waste, but standing on a chair next to the kitchen counter with me, she’s been known to spend hours while I cook and bake!

If Peppa Pig Was My Child…

10/06/2013
By Martina Mercer

I do adore CBeebies and Nick Junior, there have been many times where I’ve been late to the office as I’ve been dying to see what Mr Tumble has in his spotty bag but there are some characters that really get on my nerves.

Such as:
Peppa Pig
I understand that Peppa pig teaches us little ones about trips to the dentist but my is she cheeky and rude, from calling Daddy pig fat to being a show off, I’m really not keen on this little piggy at all.

Nina
Nina is no longer teaching kids science apparently it’s now called “engineering” yet the fancy name doesn’t stop her being completely patronising. Even for 3 year olds she seems to put them down with a smile, teaching them facts such as hot is hot and cold is cold as if they’ve just landed on planet earth.

Poy
If Poy shows me her Little Bo Peep impression one more time I’ll be tempted to take that crooked staff and shove it where the sun don’t shine.
I love Chris’s humpty Dumpty, I don’t even mind the grand old duke of York but Poy’s Bo Peep is akin to scratching nails across a blackboard.

Off Your Rocket
The rhyme rocket is watchable simply because I always find myself rhyming rude words, such as when they look for rhymes to sock, tick, hat and so on yet Officer Ditty’s facial expressions literally give me nightmares.

I applaud anyone who can lose their inhibitions to entertain a child but he seems to go a step too far so even the kids think he’s making a complete fool of himself.

Who are your favourite CBeebie’s characters and which one would you like to see less of?

Double Trouble – Twin Terrors

07/06/2013
By Martina Mercer



My brother has twin boys who have just turned 3 and has described the last 3 years as a complete haze.

He says he finally feels strong enough to re-enter the real world as he’s found the task of bringing up twins exhausting.

It’s interesting to hear about bringing up twins, as it seems so much different than rearing children with an age gap, no matter how small and even now he’s finding there are problems only associated with twins.

Sleeping
Sleeping has been a problem from day one, as one would wake the other, my brother and sister in law got used to snatching the odd hour where they could. With an older son of 5, they found that as th twins woke, he did too, so life seemed an endless battle of catching enough sleep to stay sane.

Teething
As the twins are identical they would teeth at the same time, however the opposite tooth would appear as if they were looking in a mirror. This was quite bizarre but obviously added to the sleepless nights!

Differences
Despite being twins they have a lot of differences from tastes in food to how warm they like their milk. One always likes to walk while the other likes to be carried, one is hyperactive and the other is calm and always well behaved. It makes outings difficult.

Speech
The twins despite being three cannot be understood by anyone outside of our family, this is because they have invented their own language. They can speak to each other for minutes and to their big brother yet to outsiders it sounds like gobbledegook.

Despite the extra work now they’ve turned three they’re much easier and it’s lovely to see them with such a close bond with each other yet they still don’t sleep through the night!

Do you have twins and if you do what differences have you noticed? If you have any advice for my brother too, I’am sure he’ll be forever grateful.

The Tantrum that Turned into a Trip to Hospital

06/06/2013
By Martina Mercer

My two year old daughter has just begun to speak, which means she’s much easier to take on trips such as doing the weekly shop or a bit of retail therapy. Normally with errands like these one of us would stay with her at home as we understand how much longer it takes with a toddler and her tantrums!

Her tantrums however seemed to be calming down, so I’ve been taking her everywhere with me, from the dentist to my friend’s F Word Farm. Yet this weekend I had a nasty surprise.

We’d walked around the farm that Janet Street Porter filmed for the F Word and even bought some chicks and baby turkeys, for two hours she’d been ever so happy just chasing chickens across paddocks and petting the horses. It was an idyllic day.

Then it was time to leave. She wanted to sit in the passenger seat, not in her car seat. She’d seen her big sister with just a booster and thought she could do the same.

Patient at first I tried explaining, but then struggled to get her strapped in, she let out such a yelp that I thought I’d caught her skin in the clips! So I checked all over, she was fine and started the car, only to find the tantrum had turned into a massive attack where she was struggling to get her breath.

It was so scary I did think something was seriously wrong yet I got her treatment quickly and with cuddles and an inhaler she soon returned to normal. Despite the attack, the laboured breathing and going blue in the face, the diagnosis was – a simple tantrum.

I’m hoping I never witness another again, but just to be safe next time I’m going to the farm by myself!

What’s the worst tantrum you’ve witnessed?

Should Baby Sleep In Your Bed?

03/06/2013
By Martina Mercer

Where baby sleeps at first is always a controversial topic, so I thought I’d shed some light from both sides of the fence.

My first baby slept in bed with me (as I was a single mum at the time), my second never left her own bed and my third slept face down on my chest for a whole three months.

I’ve experienced all sides, from sleeping with a bay as a single parent to co sleeping when hubby is in bed too and the only thing I would do different would be to change the strict regime of straight to cot with my second.

1. It wasn’t intentional with my first, I was a new mum and desperate for sleep, he wouldn’t sleep on his back so we nodded off as he lay on my chest. With no partner to please, this continued until he was 3 years old and I’ve never regretted it at all.

2. Then with my second, with a husband unwilling to share the bed with a baby, we strictly made sure she stayed in her crib. If I did nod off while feeding her, hubby would soon put her back where she belonged.

3. Then my third, she’s only sleep on my chest. My new husband was understanding and happy to follow my lead. Family and friends threw criticism though and even called me a “bad mummy” for letting her sleep in my bed.

Then when she reached 3 months, she slept easily in her own cot, but contracted an illness that needed hospital treatment. It transpired that her lungs were underdeveloped and she was incapable of breathing properly lying on her back so my method could have easily saved her life.

In summary, follow your instincts, don’t let others tell you how to sleep with your own child, the main thing is you are both happy and healthy that includes a great night’s sleep and easy breathing!

Do you prefer co sleeping or would you never consider it?

Taking your child for a hair cut

08/05/2013
Unlike many other children, mine refuse to go to a hairdresser. So far, I’ve tried it three times with my daughter. And on all three occasion, she wasn’t impressed. She disliked the fact that she had to sit still while someone cuts her hair. So, for ten years now, I’ve been a hairdresser to my kids, and they have boring hairstyles.

But for many children, a trip to the hairdresser for the first time is exciting. In fact, I remember my nieces and nephews being so excited and proud about it. It’s a ritual that puts them on their way to becoming a grown up, and marks the start of a lifetime of different trends and styles.

Choosing the right time to take a child’s mop for its first chop purely depends on how much hair they have, and how quickly it grows. Typically, a first haircut is likely required within your child’s first 18 months.

Whilst most adults relish the chance to relax in a hairdresser’s chair, it’s sometimes not quite the case for a wriggly toddler. Parents can find a trip out for a haircut a stressful, tiring experience.

Preparation is key. Taking a big bag of lap-based toys will keep a child occupied enough to hopefully sit still in a chair. Most hairdressers are experienced in dealing with young customers, in fact some even specialise in haircuts solely for kids. It’s always best to phone a salon first, or pop in to see if they are child-friendly.

Whilst children’s haircuts can seem a little frivolous at times, they are beneficial in helping the child’s hair to grow thick and strong. Kids with curly or afro hair will require extra attention to maintain a manageable style, as well as children with multiple crowns or cowlicks.

Taking a child to the hairdressers from an early age will help them get used to the experience, hopefully making it easier for future visits. Most children actually enjoy sitting in a booster seat, in front of a mirror and being fussed over!

It can be quite dangerous to cut hair yourself on a small child, unless you are a trained hairdresser. Hairdressing scissors are exceptionally sharp and should only be handled by professionals.

Baby’s Bedroom Boredom

15/04/2013
If you’ve seen the new programme “bedtime live” you’ll know that sleep is something that doesn’t come easily to babies and toddlers. Getting a baby into a good routine is essential for your own sanity however it’s amazing how hard this can be for some.

My brother has twin boys of 3 and a boy of 6 and when meeting last week he told me he still gets up with them on average of four times a night. He even shares a bedroom now with one of my nephews as the master bedroom just doesn’t have space for him anymore.

This made me feel very lucky for the sleeping patterns of our three, yet it hasn’t always been like this. Mitchell, now 12, took 2 years before he’d sleep well through the night, whereas Poppy, although a great sleeper as a baby and toddler, began finding excuses to get out of bed from the age of 3 onwards.
We think we’ve learned with our third. It’s her second birthday tomorrow. In her first weeks we were judged as she’d sleep on my chest and others derided us for co sleeping, telling us it would produce bad habits in the future.

We learned recently that she has underdeveloped lungs and this was her way of being able to breathe soundly, being alone on her back in a cot would not have been very good for her at all.

When she did move to a cot, she began sleeping through almost immediately so we moved her to her room which unlike our friends was completely devoid of anything except her bed, a chest of drawers, a chair and curtains. We’d learned that although we would have loved a brightly coloured nursery full of her favourite toys, this only keeps kiddies awake.

She’s two tomorrow and we’d love to fill her room with planets and moons, clouds and the sky as this is her latest obsession, yet we’re being quite selfish as she knows it’s for sleeping only, and we really don’t want to chance breaking that pattern again. So we’ll have to wait a little longer as for now her room is ultra-minimalist with magnolia walls and hardly any personality in sight – completely unlike the rest of the house!

A Walking Wonder

14/04/2013
Since spring has finally made an appearance I’ve been taking the dog and the children on walks. The first time was two weeks ago, when we chose to find a medieval village that couldn’t be seen from the road.

This three mile walk was normal for my elder two however it wasn’t until we reached the car park that I realised I’d forgotten the all-terrain pushchair. We could either attempt it with a toddler, or go home and do it another day.

The dog made up our mind for us. I prepared myself mentally for a very lengthy walk. Have you ever tried walking with a toddler? Every twig, blade of grass and stray feather must be closely inspected for minutes before steps are taken to find the next interesting object.

Luckily the first mile was downhill (yes we were coming back the same way), so Percy set off chasing after Banana, our dog, with better footing than I had. I slipped and slid all over the muddy track as she ran all the way with no hope of me catching up. My eldest son in front kept shouting tips he’d learned from Bear Grylls; ”lean back if you’re going downhill and you won’t fall over,” little late for that.
Happy that the first mile was over in minutes, I thought we could actually make it back for Percy’s afternoon nap but then she noticed the sky. That was it, every plane, every bird; every cloud was a source of wonder. As we toddled along I rang my husband and told him about our slow progress, to which he replied, “just what goes through her head, and she’s obsessed with the sky and moon- what on earth is so fascinating about them?”

“What’s not fascinating about them?” I replied. Huge iron structures flying in the air, big puffy clouds changing shape every second, a massive moon rock suspended in the sky as if being held up by invisible hands? Our world is absolutely amazing; we just take it for granted.”

Listening to my own words, I was happy to spend the next few hours simply toddling, seeing the world through a new person’s eyes makes you appreciate just what we’ve got.

Showing Some Love for Sibling Rivalry

13/04/2013
For some reason our middle daughter has always felt like a middle child, even before the birth of her baby sister. She’s loving and attentive but does demand the lion’s share of attention compared to her older brother who is more than happy with whatever he gets.

We waited quite a while before we brought a baby into the house, and this was part of the reason as we’d already witnessed her trying to smother the family dog with a pillow and hiding the new-born chicks so they wouldn’t get mummy cuddles too.

When we brought Percy home, she was overwhelmed by this tiny bundle of joy that didn’t do anything much. It seemed the crisis was averted as the baby just needed to be carried about while she still got all the attention she craved.

Then Percy began to walk which took our attention away for a while as we’d chase her around the house and gardens keeping a very close eye. No longer was one place sufficient, this toddler needed stimulation, lots of attention and extra pairs of eyes. At home our daughter seemed to take it in her stride but at school cracks began to show, she got a detention for pulling a moony at a very shocked bus driver (she was 6), was separated from her friend for fisticuffs and demanded to be the start of the school show.

In a strange twist instead of letting her know she was still our baby girl we actually gave her more responsibility. She’d spend time with me doing things only big girls could do and babies were not allowed. Soon Percy started leaning towards her whenever she wanted a playmate and big sister loves having someone to boss around.

There’s still sibling rivalry as now it’s Percy that becomes quite jealous of the attention my other daughter gets however, our middle daughter has finally realised that an extra family member doesn’t mean the loves got to spread further, it means there’s more to go round!

Why Breast IS Best for YOU!

12/04/2013
If you’re expecting a little one you will already know that there’s no substitution for breast milk for baby as the antibodies and nutrition give them the best start in life.

However, there are also many benefits for you too. Have you ever known a woman that is set against breastfeeding during pregnancy only to find that after trying it she breastfeeds for longer than any of your friends? This is because despite the tying nature and the sore nipples, there really is nothing quite like it.

The Bond
Breastfeeding seems to awaken some need inside us, it takes every mothering instinct we have and wraps it in a neat little bundle at feed time. There’s something indescribably about the feeling a mother gets when she knows she’s providing the food that will make baby grow big and strong.
Obviously the closeness plays a huge part in this too and is often the reason why it’s the mums not the babies that have trouble giving the breastfeeding up.

The Weight Loss
If you’re already missing your flat stomach then breastfeeding is for you. Not only will you burn oodles of calories, your stomach muscles will tighten with every feed, which in my case made my belly flatter than ever before. There’s nothing quite like sculpting muscles from the inside out, breastfeeding is worth it for this alone.

The Protection
Not only does breastfeeding protect baby against all manner of ailments, it also protects you against certain cancers. Not even modern medicine can do that!

If you’re still against breastfeeding why not make a little compromise, try just the first three days so baby gets the colostrum which holds so many antibodies. You may find you love it or hate it, either way; you’ve made your own mind up rather than following the crowd.

When Breast isn’t Best

10/04/2013
Before anyone starts jumping on a bandwagon, please hear me out on this. Of course breast milk is the best for nutrients and vitamins and gives your baby the best start in life, however occasionally, the pressure to breast feed can have negative effects on the mother.

For first time mother’s breastfeeding is rarely shown in a realistic light, as only the positives are promoted. This leaves a lot of new mums believing they’re doing something wrong when they do encounter obstacles. These feelings of failure contribute greatly to postnatal depression so for once,

I’m revealing the less desirable side of choosing breast.
I’ve many friends who suffer from extreme guilt as breastfeeding simply wasn’t for them but they have to explain why to every new person they meet. It’s almost as if they are bullied as we wouldn’t dare to interfere in another’s life in any other way.

These are the common reasons people don’t try or give up:

Breast feeding is tying.
Looking after a baby is hard. Leaving the house is not as easy as it was as you plan your trips around naps and feeds. Breastfeeding makes this even more difficult. For instance, I remember driving on a motorway with my baby screaming for a feed (she’d had one just 30 minutes before but not enough), there was no one else in the car and nowhere to pull over. It was a very stressful few miles.

Breastfeeding is lonely.
It takes a good 8 weeks until you express by which time your baby will not take kindly to taking milk from a bottle. These eight weeks can seem a long time as it’s you and only you that sorts out the feeds and gets up in the night. This can be hard and can also make eager dads feel out of the loop.

Breastfeeding is emotional.
I used to become a little weepy after my LO had a big feed. I didn’t make the connection until my midwife told me that this was quite common. Breastfeeding releases hormones that can be akin to PMT.

Breastfeeding extends a pregnancy.
One aspect I found extremely difficult was medication after childbirth. I was in a lot of pain and suffered a little postnatal depression (due to bereavement at the same time) yet couldn’t take anything due to breastfeeding. Many foods were also off the menu and after nine months of being ultra-careful this did get me down a bit!
Breastfeeding is trial and error.

I also found that baby would react differently depending on what foods I ate. Even the mildest curry would keep her up at night, whereas that one cup of coffee would ensure she didn’t sleep all day. I was shattered and now had to negotiate my own diet. Sometimes I didn’t know if it was what I’d eaten or simply baby frustration.

It’s also worth noting that if you are stressed your milk will dry up anyway, and a stressed mummy is no good for baby or you.

I will leave the talk about sore nipples and breasts for another day. To counteract this, please see my post on why breast is best.

A Body Boost after Pregnancy

09/04/2013
I remember being 5 and seeing my mother naked in bath. I was immediately repulsed. I told her I never ever wanted to grow up, have boobies or have a big wrinkly tummy as I like my little body just the way it was.

My mum has never forgotten this, and reminds me quite frequently. She also seemed quite smug when she found out I’d got very bad stretch marks from my first child.

At the time I thought every mother suffered from stretch marks so it didn’t bother me; however I soon learned that I could have possibly avoided them if only I’d resisted the cravings for strawberry milkshakes and cream scones.

Although I was aware how my body would look, I don’t think the full reality hit me until I looked in the mirror and now I wish I’d spent my teenage years in a bikini, showing off my rounded but unmarked tum!

I often bathe with my two daughters, as we have a large Jacuzzi and have a lot of fun, and my eldest at 8 has already told me she doesn’t want children because of the stretchmark’s she might get. She’s finally accepted the fact that she will grow breasts though and threw out a wish that they will be “as soft and as cosy as yours are mum!”

My youngest daughter is now noticing many things about her body, she understands body parts even if she can’t say the words, so when she pointed at my stomach in the bath, I was fully prepared for an “urghh” (Toddler speak for Yuck).

Imagine my surprise when she poked and prodded only to poked and prod her own., When her own didn’t wobble in the same way she became quite upset at not having a tummy like mummy’s. So I took my stretch marked tummy and turned it into a face that gobbled her fingers all up. She defeated the beast and while we got dry, rested her head on the softest (but flabbiest) part of my body.

See society may consider my stretch marks to be ugly, but if my daughters find comfort in that flab that’s good enough for me. I’ll still breathe in every time I undress in front of hubby though!

To the Moon and Back

08/04/2013
Last week I was cursing Mr Tumble as he climbed into his rocket constructed with cardboard and tin foil as my 23 month old daughter has recently developed an obsession with the moon.

This began in the garden when I pointed out the bright crescent shaped object high in the sky one evening. Cue lots of coaxing to bring her indoors as she stood pointing at the moon, trying to reach it, jumping in order to get closer.

Now Mr Tumble had taken it a step further and made little Percy believe she could go to the moon. So off she trotted into the garden and the procedure started all over again.
There was only one thing for it, we had to build our own rocket. So via Tesco’s I ordered over 50metres of foil, brought cardboard boxes out of the loft and spent Saturday afternoon building a rocket as tall as myself.

I let Percy loose with the paint as she customised her rocket as I struggled with the end as I tried to make a triangle top that would rival Mr Tumbles. The end result was shiny but not half as impressive as the one on “Something Special” I’m guessing they didn’t have toddlers knocking about when they made theirs!

Now the rocket was ready, Percy couldn’t wait to fly it to the moon and so we made a control panel, a steering wheel, poked out a circular window and threw in a cushion for comfort. I was now fully prepared for tantrums as I knew she’d soon discover her rocket wasn’t operational so I had to think fast.

I turned off all the lights and pinched my son’s laptop, while bringing my older daughter in to help. Putting button moon on the laptop, we placed it against the round window, while my iPhone showed pictures of shooting stars from the peephole on the door.

We shook the rocket a little and even lifted it off the ground all the while telling Percy she couldn’t go outside without a spacesuit. Heaven knows how much she understood but ten minutes later she received a welcome home with as she proudly believed she’d been where no toddler had been before.

Discipline: Do babies need it?

07/04/2013
Here’s the situation. Your little one has just begun to crawl; a happy, exciting and historical event for you and your family. You’ve been spurring him on for weeks to get up on those chubby little hands and knees and put one in front of the other. When he finally does it you are elated, your little bundle of joy has reached a milestone and has found some independence. For a day or two you happily watch him practising his new skill, calling round friends and relatives to inform them of what talented offspring you have. Everything’s great! He’s happy, you’re happy - fantastic!

You continue with your daily duties of washing, cleaning, bed making and ironing and all of a sudden realise that crawling perhaps isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. He’s now well practised and can travel faster than you can watch him a lot of the time. Everything has to be thought about more carefully, the stair gate must be closed, the iron must be unplugged and the cord moved away from eager hands wanting to know exactly what happens when they pull this! And that sparkly, twinkly, very inviting-looking fire that he has had his eye on for the past 7 months is now within his reach. He must touch it, he has to touch it, and he will touch it. He won’t care how many times Mummy plays the game where she picks him up and pulls him away saying “no, no – hot, hot”, he has to touch that fire.
So what now? Do you continue with this constant cycle of removing him from danger, just for him to think that this is a funny game? Or do you introduce some discipline? Will discipline work with a child who isn’t yet old enough to understand right from wrong? The “game” isn’t working and you don’t want to chance the possible outcome of not getting to him on time. He cannot comprehend the dangers of this and therefore has no reason to stop.
The word discipline can come across as a little regimental, where military style methods are used to teach right from wrong. Obviously this is not the correct approach for a crawling baby and could possibly do more harm than good in the long term. However, if we look at discipline as more of a training programme, where no actual punishment is involved, then this method begins to sound more suitable. Maybe by using a different voice, perhaps sterner and less playful, and maintaining eye contact when telling your child “no” could result in him realising that this is not a game and he shouldn’t do it.

So, do babies need discipline? There is no easy answer. At first I would say no! Definitely not! They are only babies!! However, there are many obstacles in life that we perhaps don’t think about when initially addressing this question. If gone about in the right way, without aggression or punishment, I believe certain disciplinary methods could perhaps help prevent your baby from getting into playful mischief and resulting in accidental harm.

Baby wigs

04/04/2013
A friend who has a lovely baby girl, was got very upset in the past when her little girl was mistake for a little boy, so much so she asked me to make up some pink headbands for her. Now personally I would never take this to personally just as long as people identified my son as a fellow human being.

But my friend did come across this product  which I can only describe as being a baby wig. Once I got over the fact that is is a wig, for a baby. it does look rather cute.

It did make me think of other weird products for babies. I came across a bathroom baby hanger, so you can hang your baby on the side the loo while you sort out your baby.

But I did find it quite amusing to find a fan for your babies bottom.

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Low Birth Weight Babies and car seats

01/04/2013
Low Birth weight babies are hopefully overall health but they do require special attention in certain areas.

Of course the primary source of advice and guidance should be your doctor and midwife, but here are some points you will need to bare in mind with regards car seats as they can effect a low birth weight baby differently. The biggest concern is that the seating position of a standard rear facing car seat can lower the oxygen levels of the baby.

Ask for advice from your doctor or midwife (never be afraid to ask)

So for the first few months try and avoid long journeys

It goes without saying never leave a child alone in the car

Try and have some one else drive so that you can sit with the baby

Lower the car seat so your baby is as flat as possible, but make sure you check the manufactures instructions first to ensure the position is safe for your baby.

Only keep your child in the seat for as long as necessary





Losing the Baby Belly

31/03/2013
I will tell anyone who will listen that if I knew exactly how my body would change after the birth of my first child, I would have worn a bikini even in the midst of winter. It’s the old saying of, “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” and I regret not giving my flat stomach airings while it still existed.

Even on its flattest days it still resembles my grandmother’s jowls when she’s forgotten to put her teeth in and I can’t help but envy the celebrities that are spotted sporting tankinis just weeks after their babies were born.

I have found ways to lose it though, some quite unconventional, none requiring a gym membership and all great at tiring out baby too.

Burping
When burping a new-born, I found it best to sit them snugly on the knee and gently rock my upper body forwards and backwards while supporting their head under the chin. Not only would this bring up any burps with ease it also tightened the stomach muscles, as I realised when I ached after ten minutes of doing it one late evening.

Row the Boat
When baby can sit up unaided try playing, “row the boat”. You both sit on your bums facing each other with your legs apart, then hold hands as you sing the song and rock backwards and forwards. You’ll be amazed how many muscle groups this targets.

Bouncy Baby
Another exercise that is ideal for the baby belly as it attacks the lower abdomen and the pelvis is the bouncy baby. You sit baby on your pubis and lift your bum in the air again and again as baby jiggles on top.

Horsey Horsey
If you have a sound back you can also be horsey for ten minutes, your little one will love this. Let them climb on, holding your clothes or your hair and walk slowly around the room on all fours. As you concentrate on keeping baby balanced on your back you’ll use your stomach muscles to make sure you stay stable at the core, which is great for all round toning.

Is Mess is Good for You and Baby?

30/03/2013
I have a few friends that are new parents and each one shares the same trait, the cleaning trait, which means there’s never a thing out of place, surfaces are always spick and span, windows are always gleaming and the house always looks like it’s a show home.

While the baby is small this may be easy to maintain, yet it does make me wonder how much fun baby will have when he or she starts walking and playing.

The few clean freaks I’ve seen that insist on 100% cleanliness despite their child being 2 or 3 are constantly stressed out. They always have a cloth in their hands, they wash cups before they’re finished with, they only allow one toy at a time out and the child is never allowed messy food such as Rice Krispies.

Of course there’s no right and wrong but while many may admire their ability to keep the home clean, a social worker actually told me something very interesting.

When social workers assess couples for adoption or fostering children, or visit families at home due to some other reason, they also assess the house too.

If children are already in the home they see if there are sheets on the beds and clean clothes available but they’ll also make notes if the place is too clean. Apparently, if a parent has time to clean to a spotless degree, they are either
a) Neglecting their child while they do it or
b) Hampering the child’s development by placing them in a suppressive environment that promotes cleanliness over relaxation, family time and fun.

Keeping a home spotlessly clean is not a task a toddler can ever hope to achieve and so they feel like a failure for doing nothing wrong.

There is a happy medium, and obviously needs must be met, as dirty and unhygienic surroundings are not an ideal place to play. Clean clothes, bedding, and furniture are a must, clutter free floors are not.

So next time you get playdoh stuck to the carpet, your counter is full of flour because baby wanted to “help” or you find chocolaty fingerprints on the door, congratulate yourself on being the mum who lets their little ones grow.

Treating a Tickly Cough

29/03/2013
Since birth my little girl has suffered from Asthma, as her lungs are still quite immature. She should grow out of it by the age of five, however every time she teethes or gets a cold we have endless nights of coughing that keeps us all awake.

It’s frustrating seeing her so exhausted only to wake seconds later as her cough disrupts her sleep, but it’s not only asthmatics that suffer from this, any baby can.

Teething causes an excess of saliva to be produced which can then irritate the throat leading to a cough, it also inflames the throat at times which narrows the airways, not in a dangerous way but enough to irritate.

Although we’ve battled through these sleepless nights, on the last occasion I reached out to two of my best friends, one is a GP and the other is Prescriptive Nurse so I knew any advice would be good.
They gave me some tips that I’d never heard before, so I thought I’d share as they certainly worked for us and if they work for an asthmatic baby, they must be twice as effective for a teething child.

Vapour Rub
They advised using adult strength vapour rub, not on the chest but on the soles of my daughter’s feet. Apparently it allows the camphor to be absorbed which is proven to calm a cough. It should be applied quite liberally and then socks put on over the top so baby can’t get to the rub.

Ibuprofen
Paracetamol is the first thing we usually reach for during a teething episode, yet ibuprofen makes much more sense. It reduces inflammation not only of the gums but of the airways too which can help ease a tickly cough. Goes without saying always read the label, stick to the doses and consult a midwife or doctor if in doubt.

Of course nothing replaces cuddles but these tips might help if you need a little sleep.

Do You Have a Crush on Mr Tumble? I Do!

21/03/2013
I recently came across some wise advice on the internet that said, “never ever tell your toddler that Justin and Mr Tumble are the same person as it will break their heart.” It’s advice I’ve stuck to as both characters are big news in our house.

Maybe because he feels like part of our family with his everyday routine, I’ve started to fall a little bit in love with him. He actually makes me giggle and I’ve found myself repeating his jokes to my older children as I know they’ll get a laugh.

It’s amazing that what we find attractive in a man before parenthood suddenly changes as our lives are transformed with our delicate bundles of joy. All of a sudden, the nice guy rules as we fall in love with our spouses all over again as we watch them read a story, sing a lullaby or make baby laugh blowing bubbles on their belly. This is why Mr Tumble seems so attractive, our maternal instincts tell us that he’d make the best father; he’d be fun to be around, while his alter ego, Justin, would make great adult company.

If we became a little bored we could demand an outing of Mr Cool Tumble, Cliff Tumble, Aunt Polly or Lord Tumble, each coming complete with their own spotty bag!

The man must be a millionaire as he dominates the children channels with voiceovers, characters and a myriad of shows, yet he seems to be completely genuine which must be the secret to his success.

I’d never want to meet Mr Tumble as if I found him to be an arrogant self-obsessed luvvy I’d be mortified, for now the fantasy is just enough!

Justin’s house certainly is the place I’d like to play in, just don’t get me started on Robert the robot – oo young man!

Research shows health benefits of Omega-3

04/03/2013
Health fads come and go, and often it is easy to dismiss some of these things. But recent research has indicted there are significant health benefits to mother and baby.

There are a number of Omega fatty acids, these are so called “good” fats, Polyunsaturated fatty acids or “essential” fatty acids, essential since the human body cannot make these, but they are vital for the healthy function of the body.

In research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, indicated that mothers who took Omega-3 supplements prior to birth had babies which were significantly heavier than mothers who had been dosed with a placebo. Low birth weights of babies have been linked with a number of health problems with some babies.

Omega-3 often found in fish oils, particularly the oily fish like mackerel and some plants oils like flax seed and hemp oil. Animals which have a diet of grass tend to have more Omega-3, so grass fed cows produce milk with more Omega-3.

Although dietary supplements can be expensive, a varied diet which is rich in sources of Omega-3 should mean that you don’t need them. Using Rapeseed, Flaxseed or Hemp oil instead of your normal cooking oil can boost your intake, supermarkets often stock milk and eggs rich in Omega thre as the cows and chickens have been fed a diet rich in Omega-3 foods.

Size chart for Funky Giraffe Moccasins

01/03/2013
Size chart for our Baby Moccasins



Age
UK


0
2


1
3


2
4.5


3
5.5



Power Hour Breastfeeding could save 95 lives an hour

19/02/2013
A report by Save the Children states that babies lives could be saved by Breastfeeding the child within one hour of birth.

The "Power Hour" as the charity calls it is important because it will give the baby colostrums, kickstarting their immune system at this critical stage making them up to three times more likely to survive.

Colostrum is also called first milk, as it’s the first milk to come out after birth. As a newborn’s digestive system is not yet developed, the colostrums plays an important role, being concentrated with nutrients so a small amount will go a long way, with less fat and more protein, it is also packed with antibodies to boost the babies immune system, the effect of these is to give the baby passive immunity in this vital period.

It also has a laxative role to clear out the newborns bowels for the first time, important as the baby needs to rid themselves of a substance called bilirudin which is created in large quantities at birth.

While rates of breastfeeding have risen in the UK, they have not in the rest of the world.  The charity calculated that if every mother breastfeed in the first hour, then 95 babies an hour would be saved mostly in the developing world, that is nearly a million a year.

Empowering mothers and better education  Save the Children is key to improving the situation. They are also campaigning for the UK government to use forums such as the World Hunger Summit and the G8 summit which the UK will chair this year to promote breastfeeding. In addition they recommend that there are further health warnings on infant formula taking up to one third of the packaging.

How to get your child to eat new foods

17/02/2013
Research shows that babies get a taste for foods whilst in the womb.

Researchers from the Monell Centre in the US have been looking into what babies and toddlers like to eat. Unsurprisingly the research shows that children have a strong preference for foods which contain sugars and salt, but it does indicate that a mum who has a varied diet during pregnancy will have a child who is more accepting of different foods as they grow up.

Children can be fickle, and even my son a relatively unfussy eater can suddenly decide that certain foods are yucky and he could not possibly eat them, but getting him to try certain new foods has often been a struggle. For a long time he had a strong resistance to eating anything spicy, until we accidentally brought a pizza which a hot one. He suddenly decided he liked spicy.

The overall conclusion from the research is that early and regular exposure to foods makes the child more accepting of the food later on in life. But this effect was not limited to being in the womb, the food that your child eats will also influence their future preferences.

When tempting children with foods that they should be eating patience is needed, repeating the same food over time to get use to it works, but once your child will allowing it in their mouth don’t make our mistake of giving them big portions, start small and build them up.

What did work well was making it more fun, seeing the dinosaurs in the Natural History museum persuaded my son that that he was a tree eating Tyrannosaurs and thus solving his phobia or broccoli and purple spouting (quick tip, mash potato is great for “planting” the tree broccoli in). Chopping up the food very small and mixing with a more palatable food, like leeks mixed in with mashed potatoes or chopped vegetables into a tomato sauce works wonders, especially when covered in cheese.

Baby Boom

09/02/2013
According to the BBC the UK has seen a 22% increase in babies being born in ten years.

In 2001, the number of live births stood at 594,634, while 2011 the number had risen to 723,913. Boys slightly outnumbered girls, There were 11,330 sets of twins , 172 sets of triplets and 3 sets of quads (or more), hats off to those mums.

Despite this the UK fertility rates remain low, meaning that the population of the UK is set for a gradual decline.

All set for the Excel Baby Show

08/02/2013
Barring last minute disasters we are all prepared for the Baby Show Excel on the 22 - 24th of Febuary. Excel was our first baby show last year and was to say the least a baptism of fire, but we really enjoyed it, and are really looking forward to it this year. This is our local show as we are based just a few miles away from the Excel venue.

We will be launching new Funky Giraffe products at the show, as well as a huge range of bandana bibs. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for more information. We are on the competition trail this year, so look out for the entry forms for your chance to win £1000 worth of baby items

We hope to see you there we are on stand C30 so come along and say hello

The Funky Giraffe team



Putin suggests that Valentines day for making babies

05/02/2013
Former KGB agent, Abba fan, president of Russia and probably the second fittest world leader after Obama, Vladimir Putin has suggest Russian make more babies on Valentines day even inviting the music group Boyz II Men to put people in the mood.

The Russian Fertility rate stands at 1.6 babies per woman, well below the 2.1 needed to sustain the population. Added to emigration from Russia, the Russian population is declining and the government is keen to stop that.

Russia is not alone, Japan has one of the most elderly populations in the world and a fertility rate of 1.4 per woman, while in Europe the traditionally big families in Italy has given way to a fertility rate of 1.42 babies per woman. (The UK stands at 1.96 babies per woman).

Overall the world population is still increasing.





Babies bombarded at "Call the Midwife"

22/01/2013
The new series of Call the Midwife has causes a bit of  stir.

The BBC produced programme has been bombarded with letters from (mostly) proud mums seeking to audition their new born or in some cases not yet born babies for the next series. Apparently no one as yet has sent in an application with a photo from their scan.

The popular show has been praised for raising the profile of midwifes and has lead to an increase in people choosing it as a career option.

Babies a few months old are gently massages with a mixture of grapeseed oil and red colouring to give them the look of a baby which has been newborn.

From our own experience we know that working with babies means a lot of preparation, we need to ensure we have the proper local authority licenses in place, and that we are using a reputable agency for the models, the photographer has a CRB check, that rooms are not to hot or cold etc.

If any one thinks their baby is heading for an early career as a model, they are best off contacting a specialist agency.









Survey, women see over ten midwives.

20/01/2013
The Royal College of Midwives has conducted a survey of new mothers and found that four out of ten women had nine or more midwives.

We found this an amazing statistic as building up a relationship wit your midwife can make life so much easier and less stressful especially for a first time mum, so we were saddened to hear about this.

But worse was to follow, on fifth of new mums are left alone during labour which is against guidelines and common sense. The increasing birth rate in the UK, and more women holding off having babies (which leads to more complications for midwives to deal with) have increased the workload of midwives.

And while the number of midwives has increased, it has not increased fast enough.

"Stardom is no substitute for being a good parent" Damian Lewis

09/01/2013
Damian Lewis has always been a bit of a hero of mine, given the vast number of American actors taking roles as British characters with the most dubious of accents, it is nice to see a British actor with an equally dubious American accent.

I digress, Damian Lewis has been has been interviewed in Vogue recently talking about the difficulty of handling being a parent and a star. Despite having a live in Nanny Lewis and his partner ensure that they only pick acting jobs which means one of them is at home at all the time. For the same reason the couple lives in London rather than LA, as London is a better city for brining up children.

The full interview will be in the February issue of Vogue.

Surge in trade of Baby Food to China

04/01/2013
We normally hear of exports coming from China, but people are making a business of buying formula milk and baby food and sending it in the post to china.

Big food scares in China has reduced trust in the domestic procedures, leading to foreign imported baby food and milk attracting a premium price, leading to new businesses spring up to fulfil this demand.

Breast feeding rates in China are low compared with other countries and recent drives have taken place in China to promote breastfeeding as a safe and effective food for babies.



Vitamin D linked to low birth rates

23/12/2012
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health have linked a lack of Vitamin D to low birth rates.

While most Low birth weights babies are normally fine with the excellent health care available, but it can be dangerous.

Vitamin D is vital for the absorption of Calcium and phosphate, and while it can be part of a diet most Vitamin D is made in the skin where sunlight reacts with fats in the body to produce this vital compound.

The further north you go, the less sunlight there is and people whose genetics come from a more southerly climes are at more risk of lacking vitamin D, as there skin is less effective at making this vitamin.



Save the date: 22-24th Febuary Baby Show Excel

16/12/2012
Funky Giraffe will again be at the Baby Show Excel in February.

We will have a huge selection of our bandana bibs at a special show price, but we have some secret new products which we will be launching as well. We have been busy this week making final preparations for these and of course to get the word out we will have them at a very special never to be repeated Baby Show price. Look out for us on stand C30. We will also be doing the Competition trail where you can win great prizes.

Check our Facebook page for free tickets nearer the date and updates on what will be happening.

If you are lucky stop by when we are having tea and cakes we will bring plenty!!

We look forward to seeing you in February.





Extreme Births: 1000 feet in the air

15/12/2012
A baby was delivered in the back of a helicopter when the crew were scrambled to fly a mother in Labour from the remote northerly island of  Unst of Scotland.

Unst is a wild and beautiful island, but lacks all but the basic medical facilities. When the birth came early the decision was made to fly the coast guard Merlin Search and Rescue helicopter Romeo Charlie.

The delivery was successful and the 7lb baby arrived shortly afterwards at Lerwick hospital.

A spoon full of sugar

13/12/2012
...helps the medicine go down, so the song goes, but with babies this may well be true.

A recent study of babies being given immunisation injections found that those given some sugared water cried less than those just given water. I know form experiments I have conducted myself that chocolate has a similar effect on me.

The Royal College of Pediatrics suggests that the parent cuddle the child to give it comfort or if breast feeding give the baby a snack while the injection takes place, older children should be distracted.

Bio and Non Bio washing powder

10/12/2012
Bit random I know, but I have finally found out what they mean.

Bio or Biological washing powder has enzymes (these are naturally occurring compounds) which help breakdown the fats which stick to clothes.

Non Bio does not have these but has other cleaning agents.

Transparently the UK is unique in selling both types, everywhere else they only sell bio washing powder as its more effective.

But Bio washing powder only works at low temperatures, the heat breaks the enzymes down, so the washing power is less effective, so its better for the environment, as well as saving you money. We design our baby bibs and baby accessories to be able to wash at low temperatures for this reason.





Wills and Kate Baby

09/12/2012
Firstly our congratulations to the Royal Couple, seems like it is going to be the highlight for 2013 as some people have been emailing in requesting a Royal Bandana Bib to be part of the celebrations. We are already working on the design so any ideas do let us know. So far we have HRH Dribble Lots, so let me know if you can do better.

The newspapers are full of theories that it may be twins which makes me wonder which one would become Queen/King.



25 percent of babies deliver with a C-section

08/12/2012
The Health and Social Care Information Centre has noticed a slight increase this year in the number of Cesarean sections being carried out in England and Wales this year.

C-sections were developed in rare cases where complications mean that a natural birth is not possible or could have other risks, but some people choose these days to opt for a c section rather than go through the pain of natural child birth.

While C-sections are a well establish (Julius Ceasar was reputed to have been born this way) and very safe operation, the The Royal College of Midwives did stress that is is still a major surgical procedure, and not to be undertaken likely.

Possible alternatives can be a TENS machine which uses electrical impulses to block the pain, or some people find water births less painful. Personally I found slapping my partner after he told me "I was doing really well" was greatly therapeutic.







Baby boom in Ireland

03/12/2012
It seems that Ireland is the midst of a baby boom.

Apparently the economic situation has contributed to this boom as poorer career opportunities coupled with lower house prices and rents allow couples to afford bigger and more family friendly housing.

According to the Irish Central Statistics Office Irish women have the highest birth rate in Europe at 2.1 babies per woman. This considered to be the level at which a population is able to remain the same size in the long term (excluding the effects of immigration). But is much higher than other European countries.

Chidren are our biggest investment in the future and it looks like Ireland has a booming future ahead.

Odd view of Westminster City Council on Breastmilk

28/11/2012
We were in Covent Garden this weekend and popped in for some deeply sinful fresh cinnamon donuts from a very posh ice cream parlor called Icecreamist.

They are (in)famous for at one point making and selling ice cream made from breast milk (human breast milk I should add). I should clarify that they did advertise on Mumsnet for volunteers, rather than round up a group of new mums (being from a country background I know more about the ins and outs of getting the daily pink than I would like to know).

Anyway Westminster City Council stopped them selling it on the grounds that it was potentially a health hazard.

I have very mixed feelings about the concept of Breast Milk Ice cream (called Baby GaGa by the way), one of those things which I have to say its not for me. But I do wonder what Westminster Council Officials make of the many mothers who live and visit in Westminster and think nothing of feeding their delicate little babies this "health hazard" or in fact if any of these officials where fed Breast milk as a baby and lived to tell the tale?





New products for Baby Show Excel

27/11/2012
Super excited about the Baby Show Excel, where Funky Giraffe will have an exciting range of new baby products.

We are keeping this under wraps at the moment, but what I can disclose is that we will be meeting up with a number of Celebrities who are coming to the show with their little ones. We are also looking to work with the official charity of the Baby Show to do some good.

This year we will be on stand C30, we really hope to see you there. Check back soon for more news and free tickets to the Baby Show Excel in February.





The importance of smoke detectors

21/11/2012
Slightly off topic from bandana bibs, baby clothes and issues about breastfeeding but important.

I was reading (...again) about fires and other emergencies. We are often told to put smoke detectors in our houses and check them regularly, but I never really thought about it. But in the book The Unthinkable by Amanda Ripley, she made the following point. Smoke is what kills in a house fire, and smoke rises, so by the time there is enough smoke to wake you, there is enough to kill. In fact her exact words which shocked me and why I am writing about this is that, you wake up, you stand up you take a breath and that is enough.

I know we are meant to be all nice and sweet and talk about nice baby things, but I did make me think about priorities and frankly this more important for you and you baby.

The London Fire brigade offers this advice about Fire Alarms



Cotton

20/11/2012
I was reading some of the sales brochures from a fabric company, as a way of avoiding doing any real work today. But it did make quite interesting reading

Cotton is a ball of fibers (called a Boll) which is there to protect the seeds of the cotton plant
The plant is native to both America and Asia
The cotton plant is in the same family as hibiscus and okra
It;s use in fabrics goes back to at least 7,000 BC. As I tell my son, that is even older than Granny.
Cotton is also used to make animal feed, paper and explosives
Cotton being a natural fiber is breathable and better for your skin than synthetic fibers



Most cotton comes from China, India or the United States. The cotton used to make Funky Giraffe baby accessories come from the Aegean region, either Turkey or Greece. We look for soft cotton with a nice feel to it, we also check that as a fabric it is make to baby safe standards, and only baby safe dyes are used.

How to avoid being ripped off on line

13/11/2012
People who have searched for the cheapest items on line have been ripped off by criminals online.

The fraud involves very low prices enticing in customers, but payment is taken by bank transfer rather than a card payment.

Sadly for the people ripped off bank transfers are irreversible without a court order and there is no comeback against the bank who handled the transfer.

Funky Giraffe only takes payment via SagePay and PayPal, both offer an excellent level of consumer protection and you have full consumer rights. We have also signed up to Internet Shopping is Safe who also monitor us to ensure we are both legal and fair. We aim to have 100% customer satisfaction but we hope the extra consumer protection will give you peace of mind.



Top tips for baby sleeping part II

08/11/2012
Blackout blinds

The slow change from dark to light can help wake us up, but in some cases you want to avoid that. Investing in black out blinds can help promote longer sleeps for you and your baby as well as to some extend helping to block out noise. We hung ours from the inside of the existing curtains.



Watch out for Caffine

Not only keeps you awake but can be past on via breastmilk



Baby Massage

We tried this and we never really found it very effective, but other people swear by it. Try and see if it works for you.



Be noisy

Sometimes babies and even adults are able to sleep better with some (gentle) background noises, there are various tracks you can buy, even some devices. Again see what works for you, but be wary of buying an expensive gizmo that you only use one.



Relax

What ever it is like for you (and believe me every one has a difference experience  in fact one friend has a daughter who is active and thrives on a minimum of sleep, their new baby appears permanently unconscious) try not to stress about it. The more you worry about sleeping patterns the bigger an issue it will seem.





Baby fashion 56 items or more?

05/11/2012
According to the headlines the average baby will get through 56 outfits as a baby.

I have not counted how many mine got through but this seems excessive (an odd thought for someone who sells baby clothes you may think, but first and foremost I am a mum, and a mum whose partner lost their job 2 months before I gave birth).

I have to admit that I had bagful of clothes as working at a big fashion company I was able to buy all the samples at cost, as well as many of my friends being in fashion doing the same. But as my son grew older we had to buy items ourselves. We concentrated on buy quality basics (which does not always mean expensive) with the odd thing to splash out on. We (well I) was organised enough to buy next years coat in the sales at a fraction of buying in the autumn. I also brought a lot of items from eBay. We did get through a lot of bandana bibs, in fact I often say we set up a bib making workshop just to keep up with my son. Muslin squares were a cost, especially when my son had refux. I liked colourful muslin squares as white ones went grey very quickly. We only ever had two baby hats (one for summer and one for winter).

The most important thing to check after quality is fit. My son was very long so buying clothes was difficult because as a 4 year old he fits 8 year old tops but they are so baggy on him.

Lego has become a big thing in our house, but that has been very cheap, my partner has finally got his old Lego back...

Baby Signing not that effective according to research

04/11/2012
Despite being part of a multi billion pound industry baby signing and related products are not as effective as a attentive parents who regularly talk to their baby and a home environment which is stimulating the researchers from Hertfordshire University.

The main conclusion was that the study did not find any evidence that baby signing accelerated their language development.

It reminds me of the various videos that were (and are still) marketed as "educational" for babies. One firm after being sued for not turning one child into a genius ended up offering refunds.

In the view of Funky Giraffe (not I admit child psychologists  teachers, educational professionals etc) good parenting is not about what you buy for your baby, time and love are much more important to baby. Baby signing may not have worked to help a child speak but I bet the time spent was good for bonding between mum and baby.

Will Storms in the US and Canada lead to more babies?

01/11/2012
While most of the evidence is anecdotal, it does sometimes look like big events, especially those which are a bit traumatic can result in a baby boom afterwards.

Possibly it may be to do with the power cuts and the closing of other places to go, or perhaps for those more poetic the need to be close to the ones we love in troubled times, but it does appear that baby booms do follow big events. In 2002 following the tragedy of 911 in New York the number of births grew by 20%, and going further back in 1966 following huge electrical blackouts nine months later hospitals reported a short period where the number of births were doubled from the average.



Back in London and preparing for Earls Court

22/10/2012
Sunday was sunny in Paris and that meant it was the busiest of the three days. But fortunately my French had improved to the point where some people could actually understand me!! Thankfully people were very kind and understanding. We met some great people there, so was a great weekend, and such cute babies! Our bandana bibs seem to have done down well.

After a made dash for the ferry we hit fog so we had to slow right down and missed the ferry, but got home and unpacked ready to deal with the emails from the weekend and getting everything ready for the Baby Show in Earls Court, only 3 days to go!!

How to make sure your ishopping is safe

15/10/2012
According to the Office for Fair Trading (OFT) more that 30% of online retailers are breaking consumer laws.

The OFT research of 156 popular websites found unreasonable restrictions, or compulsory charges added at check out without being clear or upfront about this.

If fact in some details such as giving consumers an email address and not just a contact form effected nearly two thirds of websites were breaking the rules.

As well as your consumer rights, such as the items being fit for purpose, any customer who buys from a website or by mail order or telephone is covered by the distance selling regulations. These state that

Goods must be delivered within 30 days unless otherwise agreed
Customers can cancel an order within seven working days and get a full refund with no deductions for postage or stocking costs, although return postage is not necessarily covered, unless the item is faulty.
You don’t need to the items in original covering, but the customer is responsible for the safe return of items.

Funky Giraffe try go beyond the legal requirements, that’s why we offer far longer to make up your mind about your purchase, than the distance selling regulations specify. To ensure we’re up to date, we are members of the Internet Shopping is Safe scheme, they periodically check our website to ensure that all our terms and conditions are legal and fair and can adjudicate if any dispute were any ever to occur. We aim to be a responsible retailer an wish to make customers aware of their rights.

Hidden dangers of Baby on Board signs

11/10/2012
Safety signs actually cause one in 20 accidents.

The "Baby on Board" or its various variations are designed originally to alert Emergency Services to the presence of a baby or toddler in case of an accident.

Oddly enough though it seems these are a cause of many accidents according to research done by a major insurance comparison company.

Along with other clutter around windows in a car, the Baby on Board signs can restrict the view of the driver, and thus increase the chance of a accident. Obviously it’s dangerous for a baby to involved in any accident so new parents should be careful to make sure that any signs do not restrict the view. It is also a major safety improvement to keep your baby in a rear facing car seat for as long as possible. Rear facing car seats are much safer, but more expensive.

The research was based on a sample of 2,000 drivers, 46% regarded them as a hazard.

Perhaps the most safe Baby on Board sign is the one London Underground give out to mums-to-be to encourage commuters to give up their seat. Which is an excellent idea as my husband once gave up a seat to a lady who was not actually pregnant...

How to help babies with Eczema

08/10/2012
A friend of mine has a son the same as as my son (in fact as I recall we met at a maternity group), thankfully he is a lot better now, but last year at dreadful Eczema, in fact at his birthday he was stripped to his pants with his dad bent double holding his hands to stop him scratching his body. I did feel sorry for him.

Eczema will affect one in five children, thankfully most cases will not as sever as my friends son.  The symptoms can include redness of the skin, skin swelling, itching and dryness, flaking, blistering or crusting of the skin. Along with other skin conditions such as  dermatitis and psoriasis, Eczema can be anything from a mild irritation through to a horrid blight.

The causes and treatments is a bit beyond my own knowledge and would advise anyone concerned to speak to a doctor about it. But I will share this advise. With Eczema is is vital that the skin be kept moist, and part of that is to avoid many of the regular soaps which can have a drying effect on skin. We did come across one company called B Organic Skincare who designed their range after their own child suffered from Eczema. We have heard really positive feedback about their moisturizers and bath lotions.



Gift wrapping now available

07/10/2012
You can now have your order gift wrapped in an organza bag tied with a coloured ribbon and a personal gift card, making Funky Giraffe the perfect baby gift.

Browser are huge range of Bandana bibs and other funky baby accessories to find the perfect mix of practical and stylish which makes your gift really useful to new parents.

You will find the gift wrapping options in the shopping basket when you complete your order on Funkygiraffebibs.co.uk. Happy Shopping!!

Mothers urged to get Whooping Cough Vaccine

05/10/2012
Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies has announced a program in the west of England to offer vaccinations to pregnant women against the illness know as Whooping Cough.

The vaccine can offer short term protection for the child as the mother will pass it on to the baby while still in the womb, whereas once the baby is born then they can not receive the vaccine until the baby is two months old.

The vaccination program is targeted at women between 28 and 38 weeks pregnant, but is still available to women who are at a later stage.

The symptoms of whooping cough include sever coughing fits the sound of which give the illness its name. While still relatively rare there have been a rise in recent years which has promoted health chiefs to start this immunisation drive.

Baby Born in Hospital Car Park

04/10/2012
A very relieved mum has given in the back of her sisters car, just meters from the entrance to the maternity hospital in St Helier.

Aided by her husband Gemma Slatter gave birth to a 6lb 15oz girl, while her 18 month year old was also in the car. It appears that the contractions came on quickly and waiting for other relatives to come and look after the couples other children resulted in a dash for the hospital but not quite making the maturity unit.
Concerns have been raised by local people that this could happen again if the local maturity unit is closed down.

We suspect that the birds and the bees conversation with this older brother may be fairly easy. Mother and child are both doing well, and a set of Funky Giraffe Bandana Bibs are going to be sent asap.

Practical Tips for Buying a Car Seat

02/10/2012
Pregnancy and having a new baby is exciting but it can also be stressful. It put physical strain on the mother and emotional pressure to both parents. There will always a nagging doubt as the whether you are ready for the responsibility that parenthood brings. Adding to the new financial responsibility that the new parents are facing, they are also facing so many choices in the market. They are bombarded with conflicting messages of what to buy for their new addition, from the hundreds of choice of car seat to all singing all-dancing baby monitors.

The priority for every new parent is safety and the most important purchase you have to make is a baby car seat. There are many choices in the market, from basic ones to a more elaborate travel system.

With so many choices in the market, making a choice which baby car seat is the best can be confusing. However, as long as you remember that safety is the vital consideration, then choosing is not as daunting as it seems.

Prior to making a decision, set your budget on how much you can afford to pay for your baby’s car seat. Once you know how much you are willing to pay, check which car seats fall within your budget. Having seen what are available, compare their crash test result. Check out independent review websites to check the independent safety rating for each car seat in your short list.

If you have two baby car seats with similar safety rating, then you can consider the comfort it will offer. Also, think that for infants, you are also using the baby car seats as a baby carrier, so try to choose something that is lighter.

Before making your final decision, do check that your car can take your choice of car seat. Most cars do but there is one or two car manufacturer that requires a specific size car seat.

If you are struggling financially and are thinking of using a used car seat make sure that you know the history of the baby car seat you are acquiring. If the car seat had been involved in an accident, it should not be used even if you can’t see any visible damage. It is best to get a new one or get one from family or friends.

Recipe for the perfect Baby Shower

01/10/2012
While pregnant we get little chance to party and neither do we want to, especially in the latter stages. A quiet night in with our feet up seems the perfect tonic as big bumps don’t balance well on the dance floor. We do, however miss the social gatherings of our friends and our friends miss us too.

There seems to be a shift in close relationships if one friend becomes pregnant before the others consider conception, yet by taking a leaf out of the American’s book we can ensure everyone feels a part of this imminent bundle of joy.

If you have a pregnant friend that feels a little isolated and lonely due to the changes she’s experienced during pregnancy or if your friend deserves a little love and attention, a baby shower is the perfect tonic.
Baby showers are now becoming popular in the UK as they are the last chance to dote attention on the mum before the focus is switched to the baby.

Who Should Arrange a Baby Shower?
Anyone except the mother or father to be can arrange a baby shower, it used to be traditional for a best friend or close relative yet popularity is growing where even colleagues arrange them.

Should I Plan a Surprise Baby Shower?
Surprise baby showers are not really recommended as the mother to be will love the chance to be able to write a list of baby grows, bandana bibs, playsuits and other items she may need for the baby. She may also not welcome the interruption as it takes twice as long to look presentable when carrying a huge weight. It’s still a lovely gift if you plan it with the mum to be’s knowledge especially if you make sure you do all of the planning and organising so she doesn’t have to lift a finger.

When Should I Throw the Baby Shower?
It’s best to throw the baby shower a couple of months before the due date as this not only allows mum to return any duplicate items but also removes the threat of her going into labour mid swing. It can also help if there are nursery items that need to be assembled, as well as letting mum know what she still needs to buy for the baby.

The Formula for a Good Baby Shower

Games
Baby showers are usually female orientated with the expectant mum’s closest family and friends. Usually there is little entertainment needed as everyone enjoys the get together as they share stories of their own experiences. However the Americans provide games to keep everyone entertained, these usually revolve around mum and baby such as “guess mummy’s tummy size”, “the ring test for sexing the baby”, “finish the nursery rhyme”, “don’t say baby” and the more comical, “pin the sperm tail on the egg”.

Food, Decorations and Venue
Food is also important, if you’re holding the baby shower in a restaurant you don’t have to worry much, however if it’s at a private venue you may want to bring buffet items. Biscuits of baby’s feet and other baby foodstuffs are a great idea. If you know the sex of the baby you can combine the decorations with the food on offer using a pink or blue theme. Don’t forget the cake! It’s also important to be mindful of a pregnant woman’s diet as not only will the mum to be be present but she may invite others from a baby group. This means you must stay away from raw meats, uncooked eggs, soft cheeses and seafood.

Invitations
Invitations should be sent out a good eight weeks before along with a wish list and directions to the venue. It is the organiser’s duty to do this making sure mum receives minimum stress.

Gifts
A relaxed chat with mum to be will allow you to create a wish list for her where guests can purchase products that will be useful after the birth. If buying baby grows, vests or bandanna bibs try to buy 100% cotton as these wash easily and allow baby’s skin to breathe.

Other clothing items you may consider include baby shoulder pads for mum or dads shoulder when burping, baby t-shirts and hats, baby accessories are always great baby gifts. For the nursery bedding is always welcome, as are gift packs of bubble baths and lotions for baby or you can treat mum with a luxury gift set or prenatal massage so she can be pampered before the big day arrives.

Extras
Just like any party you should provide party favours, these can be in the form of goodie bags with cake and a thank you note or something personalised such as sweeties with mum and dads names on.
To add to the decoration you can also use a projector to allow photographs to be shown throughout the party, these can be of mum and dad in their own baby grows as little ones, or even scan pictures.

What About the Dads?
The dad can escape all the baby blue or pink by hosting his own beer and nappy party at the same time. The men can bring beer and a packet of varying sizes of nappies as he fires up the barbecue. Babies can never have enough nappies and this ensures the men don’t have to think or ask their wives to pick out baby grows and vests for them!

Our French website is now live

24/09/2012
We are very excited to launch the French Version of our website www.funkygiraffe.fr. The first sales has gone through to a lady near Strasbourg so it looks like it is all working well. We have always been a  bit of a fan of France and love going there, and on a trip to Paris my son was wearing his Funky Giraffe Bandana Bib and it drew lots of comments so it was always on my mind to do. When last year a French mother who had brought our bibs for her daughter approached us to see if we could work together to sell them in France we thought it was a brilliant idea.

Anyway it is a new little business and so if you do know any one in France, please so spread the word.

Baby Show Excel & Baby Show NEC

23/09/2012
Despite having a great time in Manchester we won’t be at the Baby Show there next August as the organisers have decided not to go ahead with that show. It’s a great pity as we really enjoyed it.

We will be at the Baby Show Excel in February and the Baby Show NEC in May.
We are very excited as we are finally getting more organised and will have loads of new baby and toddler products to show off at these shows. These shows are always enormous fun for us, and we will have free tickets and special offers in the run up to both Baby Shows.

We are though unhappy about and been having discussions with, the Baby Show organisers about the other activities of the company who owns the Baby Shows, (slightly unfair on them as they have nothing to do with that side of the business). We are meeting one of the high ups soon to put across our concerns. Will keep you posted.

First peek at the Christmas Bandana Bibs

21/09/2012
We are really pleased to start sharing the first pictures of the Christmas Bandana bibs from Funky Giraffe. We have a whole set so this is just the first. We know that some of our customers are very organised to like to get their Christmas gifts sorted out early so we are busy making these at the moment and will have them out in plenty of time for Christmas. These make perfect gifts for babies first christmas.

But equally exciting our young model is also wearing one of our prototype t shirts!!

[caption id="attachment_116" align="alignright" width="300"] One from the new range of Christmas bibs from Funky Giraffe[/caption]

Consultation on babies born with three parents

18/09/2012
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has started a consultation regarding the possible treatments for certain diseases caused by defects in a certain part of genetic material past from mother to child (called the mitochondria).

Genetic defects can cause problems such as muscle weakness, blindness, heart failure, and in rare cases it can be fatal, though in many cases there are no symptoms.

The treatment means that the possibly defective genetic material is replaced by a donor, although it is a very small amount of material it would mean that the child would have genes from three different people (the father, the mother and the donor). More details of the treatment can be found here on the BBC website.

Obviously there are serious questions about this new technology, given its promise of saving some children from serious illness, so the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority is holding a consultation to take the views of the public on board. The consultation can be found here.





Free 2- hour childcare for Danish parents so they can make more babies

14/09/2012
Nurseries in Denmark have come up with a novel idea of encouraging parents to have more babies. They are offering a 2-hour free childcare so parents get the chance to spend time together, with the idea that they will hopefully use that time to pre-create.

The shortage of young children in Denmark is putting local nurseries’ future in danger. Dorte Nyman from Grasshopper Kindergarten explained that the lack of new babies has resulted to lower demand for nursery placement, and they are facing a cut in government funding. With no funding and reduced income, nurseries will have to cut staff numbers, making them unemployed.

Ms Nyman is expecting that 50% of their clients are going to take the offer, although lots of them are saying they are not likely going to use the free time to make babies.

Although the world’s population is exploding, Denmark is suffering from low birth rate. With the dwindling natural resources, low birth rate seems to be a good thing. However, with Denmark’s ever increasing older population, without the younger workforce, the country will not be able to support the pensioners and other people dependent on the state.

Dealing with a Toddler’s Quirks

12/09/2012
It’s amazing that almost from birth our babies exude their own personality; even without the power of speech they can make us laugh, keep us company and show us unlimited amounts of affection.

As they become mobile they start developing their own tastes and habits along with some quirks that are often difficult to deal with.



Baby Spiderman
Many quirks revolve around clothes, as some toddlers will become attached to a favourite bodysuit or playsuit never wanting to change into a clean one. One nephew of mine spent three months in a Spiderman outfit as his parents removed and washed the outfit as he slept.
It’s when these quirks arise that we begin to notice the famous tantrums; with the terrible twos on the horizon we try anything to prevent an outburst. Yet sometimes just a simple misunderstanding can create tears as our toddlers become frustrated while they try to communicate their wishes.

Female toddlers especially will centre their quirks on clothes, either the lack of or the wearing of. Some toddlers hate to wear baby vests or bibs and will prefer being as naked as the day they were born regardless of the company you have. Other’s will demand that you put bodysuit on top of bodysuit making them resemble the Michelin man as they find it difficult to walk whilst others will develop a shoe fetish preferring big sisters shoes to their own.



Natural Fibres Solve Many Problems
Natural fibres can solve many of these problems, I’m sure if my nephew’s Spiderman costume was made from 100% cotton he wouldn’t have developed the heat rashes he did. A good playsuit or vest that breathes using natural fibres can convince even the most naturists of toddlers to give clothes a go.

Softer bibs also prevent pulling as when they fit snugly toddlers hardly notice they’re on, the bandana bib also pleases the fashion conscious as they can choose from a range of designs that suit their own personality.

Design a Bid for Kate and Wills

12/09/2012
According to the BBC website, HRH the Duke of Cambridge (or Prince William if you prefer or Flight lieutenant Wales) would like to have two babies with his wife Kate Middleton, I do hope he has consulted her on the matter.

Anyway (I am afraid to say) in what I see as a flagrant publicity stunt is has been decided to design two Kate and Will’s Baby bibs in the event that they have them (we held a vote, I lost), we will design them now so the design is ready for when they are. Even Royal Babies dribble and they could not find better bandana bibs, and all proceeds will be donated to an appropriate charity.

We would love to get our customers ideas about what to put on the bandana bibs (remember we need two) so hope your ideas to our email address or onto our Facebook page.

Halloween and Christmas bandana bibs

10/09/2012
Having learned the lesson from the rather late arrival of the Christmas range of Funky Giraffe Bandana bibs, we have been busy designing our new range early this year. We are having a photo shoot next week and hope to have the range of Funky Giraffe Christmas and Halloween bandana bibs up on the website in a few weeks time. We hope that you will really like them!!

Being for babies our Halloween Bandana bibs are fun and not scary.

We have lots more designs being worked on both for our bandana bibs and for other babies accessories, but we always welcome suggestions. We hope soon to buy a new printing machine to help make more colourful designs and ensure the quality of our prints.

All our designs including the Halloween and Christmas range are screen printed using water based inks as these are less harmful on a product a child may chew. It’s all part of our commitment to ensuring the safety and quality of our bandana bibs, and baby clothes and baby accessories.

Earls court Baby Show

09/09/2012
Funky Giraffe are very pleased to inform you that we will be at the Earls Court Baby Show, London 26 – 28th of October with our fantastic range of Bandana bibs and new ranges of baby accessories. This is huge show packed with loads of bargains for expectant and new parents, parking is not so great, but there are plenty of public transport links to Earls Court. They are always fun and its always great to get out and meet our customers and huge numbers of ever so cute babies, so we do hope that we will see some of your at Earls Court Baby Show.

We are in the process of designing a Peace Bib to hand to the organisers of the Baby Shows.

We will also have some free tickets to give away so keep an eye out on our Facebook page for news of these.

Of course as is traditional we will have lots of special offers at the Baby Show, again keep an eye out as we will announce this prior to the Show.

Funky Giraffe Supports International Literacy Day 8th September 2012

08/09/2012
Education is a basic human right. It is a tool to empower individuals to find opportunities for development. It is vital in fighting poverty, improving child mortality, keeping population growth in check, achieving peace and equality, and maintaining sustainable development.
Here in the developed countries, we take education for granted because it is easily available. However, there are still over 759 million adults all over the world who are deprived of this basic human right and two thirds of them are women.
Funky Giraffe believes that we don’t need to make big sacrifices to support literacy. To join us in supporting International Literacy Day you can:
• Spread the news about the day
• Donate books to your local schools or charity
• Start your own reading
• Volunteer to read to children in your local library
• Send your literacy story to UNESCO

The celebration is global, so we encourage all our customers not only in the UK, but internationally to join in and support International Literacy Day.

Countdown to Christmas

08/09/2012
To give the best chance of delivery before Christmas we have been advised by Royal Mail, that orders of our Bandana Bibs should be placed no later than Monday the 19th of December. This is a just a guide. We have been doing really well recently and any orders for our bibs placed before 2pm is being sent same day.
We wish you all a lovely festive season.

Book Review Alfie Kohn

08/09/2012
Bringing up baby? There is so much conflicting advice out there, it can be confusing and scary for new mums and dads with their brand new dribbly babies! I have recently come across a wonderful author that challenges much of our well worn ideas about parenting. Alfie Kohn, author of Unconditional Parenting confronts the familiar carrot and stick approach to discipline. After looking at hundreds of studies Kohn demonstrates that no one performs better when offered various enticements from sweets and stickers to money and cars. We all want our children to grow up happy and confident and what better way to ensure this than to love them unconditionally. Mostly good parenting is common sense, and I find the majority of parents all have that and they do not actually need a book telling them complicated strategies for child rearing. However it is very rewarding reading a book that confirms all your common sense theories were right with perhaps one or two interesting suggestions along the way.
Unconditional parenting examines how parents think, feel and act with their children. It offers a host of wonderful, practical suggestions for exchanging doing to to working with parenting. It has been described as an eye-opening, paradigm-shattering book that will reconnect readers to their own best instincts. My box of goodies for my friends with new babies will now include this fantastic book, along with a few funky bandana bibs of course!

Orders from the 7th October

08/09/2012
Hi,
We have had a bit of a disaster with Royal Mail and they have lost a whole package of bibs. They have agreeded (very kindly) this is unacceptable and have agreed to offer compensation and we are thus resending all the orders for that day. I am sorry about this delay, but we are working very hard to get this fixed and the bandana bibs sent out to you asap.
Kind regards
The Funky Giraffe team

Competition ideas

08/09/2012
Hi,
We would like to launch a new competitions after the sucess of our faboulous Hamper give away. Please email us with your suggestions, or add them to our facebook page. Of course runner up prizes will be of our wonderful Bandana Bibs.

New designs are here!!

08/09/2012
I love the new Camper Van design which some one suggested, after many hours of taking photos and unpacking we have the new stock ready! So very exciting, many thanks to the workshop team for all their hard work, and putting up with me!

Quinoa as a weaning food for babies

08/09/2012
Quinoa, is a great baby food, I found out about it when I was starting to wean my son and found these super organic baby foods from Plum. But as I really liked to cook for my son I started using Quinoa in my cooking.
The reason why Quinoa is so food and such a superfood, is that it has a very high protein content, as high as 18 percent, and a balanced set of Amino Acids, which babies need to build proteins, add that to the high content of fiber, phospuorous, magnesioum and iron again all essential for growth. To cap it all its gluten free and easy to digest, so really is a super food for weaning babies!
Quinoa can be cooked like rice or coucous and is easy to blend into other foods. Happy cooking but do not forget a good bib to catch the bits your little one misses!!

Muck Magnet

08/09/2012
I think I may have coined a new phase, as I sit here waiting for my in laws to turn up (late as usual). Unusually the house is spotless, a state which appears not to appeal to my toddler, who much prefers to return things to a state of randomness. So Muck or Mess magnet, which seems to suit him perfectly. Still at least he has a perfectly clean and dribble free t shirt and a smart bib, so granny can get some nice photos.

Salt for babies

08/09/2012
I caught a programme about salt in babies food. Apparently 70% of babies consume too much salt. Part of the problem is that big food companies label their food with the sodium content rather than the salt content, this is really dishonest as the actual salt content is 2.5 x as much as the sodium.
Other issues is gravy which contains a lot of salt, its better to use the water from cooking the vegtables to mash the food down rather than the salty gravy.
The other important thing to know is that cows milk contains twice as much salt as breast milk or formula.
The government recommend for babies and toddlers only 1 gram of salt a day.

Book reviews 1 The Science of Parenting

08/09/2012
I have been meaning to write about some of the books I have read on the subject of birth and parenting. Having brought I think every single one I feel in a good position to review.
But beware - as with advice, writers write about their own experiance or those of friends or family. This is their experiance and not yours, yours is different and that is okay. It took me a very long time to stop stressing about the conversations where some one told me about pregancy or what their child was doing or how they were feeling and having compared it to what was happening to me somehow it always worried me.
But the best reassurance is to be found from someone who actually knows what they are taking about. This brings me to my first book. This is the Science of Parenting by Dr Margot Sunderland. (ISBN 9781405320368). Dr Sunderland is a leading expert on early years development, and steers stressed parents through the actual science of what is happening in your childs mind. I found its clear text very useful and great for learning how to cope with my son sleep training. I think this is the first book your new parents and encourage every one to read it, in fact I now have brought around 10 copies for various friends and family. Writen with good sense, clear science and a lot of compassion.

Some feedback about our bibs

08/09/2012
Just wanted to share some emails sent by some really loverly customers. I know that you normally shop for things without really thinking where they came from, but really each items has a real story behind them, peoples dreams and tradegies, it is amazing when you think about it. But I digress. I tend not to realise much about things relating to the business apart from when things go wrong (mixed up orders etc) so feedback like this and the other day when I saw a baby in the park with one of our bibs is so nice!


Just wanted to email you to say a big thank you for such a fab product at such a reasonable price! Received my order this morning. The little man is a happy dribbler now he has not got to wear a white crispy plastic backed monstrosity round his chops. So nice to be able to match them with his clothes too!

Thanks again
K.

They were recommended to me a year or so ago by a friend. I havent bought any other bibs since! I love them, and they look great on my little girl.
Your design stays cool, and amazingly no matter how dribbly T gets (even through teething) they remain dry underneath and protect her clothes as well as her skin. She has never had a problem with dribble rashes or sores around her neck since using them.
She loves them too, and now at 20 months she likes to choose her own colour every day bless her, she has not quite got the colour co ordinating thing going on just yet though!

It is always a shame when you buy your child a lovely outfit, and then have to cover the majority of it up with a huge plastic backed bib! Your bibs allow an outfit to be seen, and added to, rather than covered up!

J.

New Competion on Facebook

08/09/2012
Hi,
We wanted to do a new give away with a very special prize, obviously we will do some runners up prizes with some of our loverly bibs, but wanted to know what people really wanted as a prize. Do let us know on our facebook page.

Echinacea for children

08/09/2012
Disclaimer I am not a Doctor or qualified in any form of Medicine, so please do not rely on my advise, and always consult a doctor if concerned.
My son despite being away from the plague factory that is his play group, has a stinking summer cold, as well as mandatory hand washing every 5 minutes I am dosing everyone in the family twice a day with Echinacea and so far that appears to be working!
I use a remedy from A Vogel for children, and their website describes it thus
quot;Echinacea works by balancing the immune system so that it works efficiently. This means that you are less likely to catch colds etc, and may be less prone to allergiesquot;. The plant itself is rather pretty and I think I saw some growing in a garden recently. It actuallycomes from North America where it was an Native American remedy.I find the taste quite nice especially in tonic.
But please follow the guidelines on the bottle and or your doctor

Greenwich to become a Royal Borough

08/09/2012
Exciting news, Greenwich (where we are based) is to become a Royal Borough (like Kensington amp; Chelsea) next year for the Queens Diamond Jubilee. The BBC article is a bit out of date but its just been given the final go ahead by the council. So along with the Olympics coming to Greenwich next year it is very exciting. If Kate and Will have a baby soon perhaps we can get a Royal Warrent for our bibs.. LOL!!
Actually it is a pity about the horse event in Greenwich park, as they made a horrid mess this year in the test event and most of the park will be shut for the whole summer next year, and my son does love it in the park.

Teething advice

08/09/2012
I like the advice here, which was sent to me by a friend, as it points out that you should not become stresses, which in hindsight is actually one of the most important pieces of advice. it also points out that the baby will need more cuddles than normal which again is really important, after all they do not know why it is all happening!! I always used to let my son chew on my washed finger, which got quite painful after a while but made him happier, which is the main thing.

Reviews on Funky Giraffe Bibs

08/09/2012
Just thought I would let you know what people are saying about our bibs
BabyStylistBibs ARE NOT boring. This was quite a revelation to me. My favourite site by far for some kick-ass bib action iswww.funkygiraffebibs.co.uk.
Leila JoOne word to sum The Pickle up at the moment is dribblicioushellip; So I could not wait to try out the bibs!

Google plus1 buttons on our website

08/09/2012
Google plus1 Sometimes its easier to find exactly what you are looking for when someone you know already found it. Get recommendations for the things that interest you, right when you want them, in your search results (Google only I think).

The next time you are trying to remember that bed and breakfast your friend was raving about, or find a great charity to support, (in in fact the custest little bibs) a plus1 could help you out.


Basically you click on it and that website will be more likely to feature in your friends searches. We now have Google Plus one buttons on our website www.funkyGiraffeBibs.co.uk, so please feel free to share.


New Bibs have been updated on the website!!

08/09/2012
Hi,


Finally finished updating the photos of the bandana bibs, (also had to dash out to see a cousin who was in London for a few days, and ended up having a ice cream hairwash which I really cannot recommend), but so nice to finally get a bit of summer.

Even more exciting we are having samples of the new designs that we will be using on our bibs being made up.

I think the heat may be making my son a bit stroppy, as two people who called today, he has been in a bit of a bad mood, really not like him at all. I suppose we are all allowed an off day now and again, and so far (touch wood) not needed to resort to the TV since playgroup went on summer holidays.

Bibs have arrived!!

08/09/2012
Bibs have arrived, no thanks to the delivery driver who was a bit of a grump.
Well most of these bandana bibs are just restocks of our current bibs, but we are now working on the new designs right away. There are some new ones though and I am busy taking photos of them (when I am not writing this or making Yoghurt Ice cream for my son). I will have those uploaded a soon as I can, cannot wait for you to see them.
I have to say I am really pleased with some of the new fabric we have brought; the plain red especially is great, lovely and soft with a really nice feel to it.

Dribble and dehydration

08/09/2012


We here at Funky Giraffe bibs are a bit of an expert on dribble, so we wanted to share this advice, especially for those lucky enough to be getting off to somewhere where there actually is a summer this year.
Baby dribble is 98% water, so as the baby dribbles that will need topping up to avoid dehydration. Babies get dehydrated very easily as they are only little and donrsquo;t have a lot of reserves of water and this is dangerous.
What to look out for
bull; The baby may dribble less
bull; For very young babies the fontanel (or soft spot on head) may appear sunken
bull; The skin may have less elasticity
bull; Less wet nappies and nappies with a strong odour
bull; Your Baby may appear distressed or irritable
bull; Sensible precautions will avoid problems, but if in any doubt always consult a doctor.
Source NHS website

Calling all mummy bloggers

08/09/2012
Would you like to review our Bandana Bibs? We would love love love to send out some of our bandana bibs to any mummy bloggers who would find them relevant to their blog. We are very proud of our baby bibs and do like to get the word around. Please do get in touch and let us know about your blog info@funkygiraffebibs.co.uk

New designs of Funky Giraffe Bibs - Coming Soon

08/09/2012
We have had an exciting competition on Facebook to decide on new designs for our bandana bibs. These are the designs we will be working with our graphic designer to produce the finished product

Little brother/sister
Funky Giraffe
Doggy foot print
Butterflies
Cherries
Camper vans
Alphabet
Baby footprint
Racing cars
Planes
Trains
Cowboy
Sparkles
Dinosaurs
Diggers
Robots
Numbers
Love hearts
Hot rod flames.

In addition we are looking for ways to do personalised baby bibs as well.
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