Category Archives: Uncategorized

Fighter

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It’s been a while.

This week my almost-two-and-a-half year old got attacked by a bigger kid at soft play. He’s a pretty gentle boy-very physical and good at jumping and climbing but not particularly tactile with other children. Nothing like this has ever happened before to us or any of our friends children so its been a bit of a shock.

On sharing the photos of his scratched up face the overwhelming reaction from other parents (mums in particular) was that of incredulity that I didn’t go ‘all mama bear’ or ‘punch her [the mums] face in’.

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The soft play where the incident happened is quite small and in a local garden centre cafe. It’s quite well set up so that it’s separate from the main cafe and parents can take drinks and cake in so they can supervise their children appropriately. Most the seats were taken when we arrived so we ended up in the corner where visibility isn’t very good. There were quite a few parents in the play area with their children so we stayed seated next to it. Every now and then we got up to check if we couldn’t see the children and a friend of ours was sat inside at the bit where our vision was blocked by the slide.

Suddenly there was screaming. We both stopped and looked at each other, grateful that it wasn’t one of our kids. Worried that my child could have caused the crying I went to investigate to find that noise was indeed my child.I’ve never heard him sound like it! My friend had managed to drag him out of the ball pool having realised that a child had his hands around R’s neck and was on top of him.

I thanked my friend, and she told me which child but wasn’t sure exactly what had happened. I took R out for a cuddle and milk and we investigated his wounds. The friend I was visiting with popped over to have a check on her son but all seemed fine. A few moments later, he’s being ‘saved’ from the same child who was grabbing out at him. J crawled in (despite being heavily pregnant) to console her child too. The mother of the boy reluctantly climbed in too and muttered a perfunctory ‘sorry’. J pointed out that he hasn’t actually hurt her child but had hurt R. Her response was ‘Well he’s two and a half, what do you want me to do?’

A moment later, smiling, she walked towards me. ‘Here it comes, an apology’ I thought. She walked straight past mine and my sobbing bleeding child to go look in the netting at the end to watch her child. Oh. Well that’s something.

We stayed a while after that. The mother was overheard telling het child ‘mind out, there are babies in the over twos section’. Despite all or children being two, and very capable.

Children do stuff that you can’t predict or always control before it’s too late. I get that.  But there’s certain things I expect the parent to do regardless.

1. If you know your child has a proclivity for violence, you watch them like a hawk. This was clearly not an isolated incident and this child seemed experienced and persistent in his violence.

2. If a child is wailing at soft play, regardless of whether you think it’s your child or not, you go check it out just in case. Esp with point one in mind.

3. If there’s any chance your child was involved in making another child cry, regardless of whether you think it might have been an accident or not, you suit down and have a chat with them.

4. If you find out they have been involved in hurting another child, they need to be taken aside, away from the fun thing they’re enjoying to talk about behaviour and consequences.

5. If they have hurt another child, it is at least the parents job to approach the parents of the other child and acknowledge it and apologise.

So why didn’t I approach her and go mad?
Firstly, I was so focused on my baby. He doesn’t cry a lot and was genuinely very upset and hurt. At that moment that was all that mattered to me, song whatever I could to make him feel better. Secondly, I didn’t see the incident. I can only speculate based on what my (very reliable) friend saw. I doubt know the child or parent. I don’t know what they’ve been through that day.  I don’t know what kind of journey they’ve been on to this exact point in time. I don’t know how I would feel if that was me. I’d had a difficult morning with R, if he’d then attacked another child and then the parent had come for me it would have likely broken me. And finally, with her offhand and passive aggressive manner for handling my friend when she mentioned that her soon had hurt mine, yes, I might have gone a bit crazy at her. And that’s not an example that I want to set. My son showed me a great example by not retaliating, so let me do the same back.

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Cloth Bum

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We have been part time clothbum parents since small was about 3 months old. We knew that we wanted to use loth but also saw the benefits of disposeable nappies, and so were happily using both. Usually cloth for at home during the day and disposeables at night and out of the house. At Christmas we were away and decided not to take the cloth nappies with us. The travelling combined with the small deciding that lying down for a nappy change wasn’t something he was willing to do, meant that cloth- especially the 2 parters we were often using were not currently working for us.

However, recently it was Reuseable Nappy Week and I was inspired to get his bum back in cloth and have another go at it. It helps that we now have more all-in-one nappies (mostly pocket nappies) which are a bit quicker to put on, however we have more leak-free success with the two parters.

The reason we wanted to try cloth was because of the obvious environmental impacts of disposeable nappies. I worked in Recycling for a few years and the amount of waste we produce in the West is really quite frightening. One family’s bin doesn’t feel like a lot, but then you multiply it by the 45,000 households in your town, then think upwards to your region, county, country, etc… it really is huge. NAppies alone- each baby will go through around 4,000 before potty training and they each take 200 years to degrade fully.

The Basel Convention has estimated the amount of hazardous and other waste generated for 2000 and 2001 at 318 and 338 millions tonnes respectively. These figures are based on incomplete reports from the parties to the Convention. Compare this with the almost 4 billion tonnes estimated by the OECD as generated by their 25 member countries in 2001 (Environmental Outlook, OECD) and the problems of calculating a definitive number for global waste generation are obvious.

http://www.grida.no/publications/vg/waste/page/2854.aspx

(Average amount of disposeable nappies used by one child, birth to potty)

Some people like to argue that reuseable/washeable nappies are bad for the environment because of the washing. Like everything it depends on how you approach it. There is an assumption that nappies are washed on high temperatures and then tumbledried, which actually goes against most manufacturers guidelines. Most people I know who use cloth wash on lower temperatures with an extra rinse and then line dry. Although I am doing this I do feel I need to learn how to use my washing machine better!

An updated government report published by the Environment Agency in October 2008 found that reusable nappies can be 40% better for the environment than disposable nappies – but only when parents take sensible steps to reduce the environmental impact of cleaning and drying them.

http://www.which.co.uk/baby-and-child/nursery-and-feeding/guides/disposable-vs-reusable-nappies/environmental-impact-/

We have two main types of cloth nappies- I’ll let BabyCentre do the hard work in describing what they are and how you use them:

Pocket diaper

A pocket diaper consists of a waterproof outer layer and an inner layer of fabric that has a pocket opening. An insert is stuffed into the pocket opening before wearing and then taken out for washing. Pocket diapers’ absorbency can be adjusted by using more or fewer absorbent inserts.

The inner layer of fabric is sometimes made with stay-dry material to keep your baby comfortable. Pocket diapers have elastic around the legs and waist and fasten with snaps or tabs.

An “All in Two” diaper, or AI2

An AI2 diaper consists of an outer waterproof shell (similar to a diaper cover) and an insert that gets put into the shell and lies directly against your baby’s skin. Some inserts attach with snaps or Velcro, and some get tucked under flaps in the cover.

The shell has elastic around the legs and waist and fastens with snaps or tabs. The insert is made of absorbent material. Some inserts are topped with a stay-dry fabric for your baby’s comfort.

All-In-Two Nappy (images thanks to Ecoaction.com.au, words from http://www.babycenter.com/0_cloth-diapers-a-quick-guide-to-your-choices_10320145.bc)

We have joined some clothbum facebook groups and started using the cloth more again. Hardest thing is getting small still for long enough to adjust a cloth nappy to get it right. There are some great youtube videos out there to help so I won’t bang on about it, but they do sit differently to disposeables and it’s worth taking the time to find it out.

Cloth nappies can be a bit scary- some people don’t like the thought of it or don’t know where to start. We got lots of second hand cloth and worked our way from there. For us the best fit is a tots bots or bambino mio pocket nappy with a microfibre insert, possibly a bamboo one too (as these are thin) and then a fleece liner with a flushable paper liner on top to catch any pooh! Very different at 20 months to three months!

We did buy a few cheapy pocket nappies with soft outers and although we love them, the fit isn’t great!

All in all, I’d say to go for it if you’re not sure. I do like cloth even though it takes a slightly different mind set and we’ve also been using them out and about now we’re more confident! Your local council may offer a cheap starter pack or even a cashback incentive. Even though we bought all our nappies second hand, we have recently applied to get cashback from our local council!

Challenge

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Gemma from sling meet suggested having a go at this:
30 day challenge
The 30 day sling challenge.

We do #1 as standard, so thought we’d try the rest.

Day #2 was the semi forward wrap cross carry. Gemma posted this video:
Wrap your Baby
And I had a go.
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I couldn’t quite get a slipknot sorted in my thick woolie size three, so thought I’d look up another video.

Wrapping Rachel Semi FWCC
And then realised this was actually the first wrap I ever did with my 3, but the technique is SO different I hadn’t realised it was the same.
I did it again and took this shot:
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(other hip)

Not for me, this one!

So we did a thing. …

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I’ve been helping out with our local Bracknell sling meet group as the previous people ruining it were getting increasingly busy with the rest of life. I organised a few meet ups in the summer which was nice but we don’t have anywhere regular to meet.

So a newer member Gemma and I met up today to talk about sorting a more regular meeting and potentially setting up a sling library. This is exactly what is sounds like-a facility where families can come and hire out different slings and wraps for a couple of weeks to see how they get on with them before committing to buy.

We had a really productive meeting and have thought very carefully about how it might work in practice. So we’ve got a new blog/site set up at Bracknell sling meet. Not much to see there yet but I’m hoping it will grow!

Clearly what I need is more hobbies. ….

NOT!

At one

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A little post from me whilst I feed the small person to sleep about what is like to feed a baby at one year old.

In past posts I’ve talked about attitudes towards breastfeeding and I’m going to take that a bit further by looking at attitudes towards “extended” breastfeeding (as it’s often called). What it refers to is a bit confusing-beyond 6 months?  Beyond 12 months? Longer than that?

Many people in Western society see breastfeeding as something disgusting-either because it clashes with the sexualised societal view of what breasts are our because they cannot see humans as mammals in the same way that pigs and cats and monkeys are. They see us as more important and more civilised than animals and therefore find the suggestion of breastfeeding inhuman.

My point is that we are mammals, named so because of our mammary glands. We are linked to other mammals by the way we carry, give birth and feed or babies.

I chose to breastfeed my baby because I simply couldn’t see any other options that I was happy with. I am a mammal and is what my body was made to do, therefore I’d try my hardest and persevere to ensure I could do it. What I didn’t then want to do was chose an arbitrary cut off point at six months or a year. How would I explain to my body and my baby that decision?

I have gone back to work three days a week. So for ten hours a day for three days a week I don’t breastfeed him at all. He has decided that he didn’t want any kind of milk (formula/expressed  breast/cows) from any receptacle except me (bottle/cup/sippy cup) and so goes without milk when he isn’t with me.  We had a small breakthrough this week when I was out late for work and he deigned to take a bottle of warmed cows milk though. A year later!

Anyway. Feeding a one year old is different to feeding a 3 week old baby. He is heavy and he wriggles. He makes his own decisions about when and how he latches on (including making the decision after swimming half way through getting changed! ). He can ask for milk (usually patting a boob) and pull at my top. He has six teeth. He can support himself when feeding so it’s not so uncomfortable. He feeds much less often so I can wear more normal clothes.  We have a giggle together whilst he feeds.

Most babies and toddlers I know that were breastfed on demand self weaned between 2-3 years old.  Technically children can breastfeed until they lose their milk teeth-adult teeth change the shape of the mouth so the child can’t latch on any more. I don’t think I plan to feed him that long and I hope he doesn’t have plans like that either! But I would like him to chose for himself whether he wants breast milk any more. 

So for the people that ask How long are you planning on feeding him the answer is I suppose that it’s up to him! I have no plans on stopping and don’t think that’s weird at all!

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Your one year old might even have a spare hand to stroke the cat!

51 weeks

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Having had my WordPress app lose three of my posts last week I’m quite nervous about writing another one!

Yesterday signified the last day of my maternity leave. Well, technically I returned to work at the end of July and have been on leave since then but I return to work in just 36 hours.

What have I done with the last 51 weeks? I’ve spent a lot of time pinned to the sofa breastfeeding it with a sleeping baby on me.

We’ve been to 4 doctors appointments, seen the midwife and health visitors about 15 times, been to five breastfeeding clinics and attended about 55 baby group sessions.

I’ve dragged Robin to about 35 buggy fit sessions, visited countless friends and hosted and attended coffee mornings. We’ve watched Robin grow and develop- gaining 13lb in weight and blazing through the clothes sizes up to 12-18 months now.

He’s learnt to smile, clap, burble, found his hands and then his feet. He’s learnt to sit, hold things, roll,pick things up, laugh, stick out his tongue. He can pull himself up, cruise, bumshuffle, wave, copy sounds, stroke the cat. And now he can stand unaided and walk by himself!

I’ve eaten a lot of cake and biscuits, trawled the Internet, cried,  missed out of hours and hours of sleep, doubted myself, Co slept, been bitten, had cuddles.

I’ve walked 978 miles (the majority of which pushing the buggy it carrying baby in a sling) , cycled 115 and run 49!

We’ve reached our 5 year wedding anniversary, and almost ten years together,  we’ve argued and cried and cuddled. I’ve taken photos and videos, made a scrap book, written him a song and a book, painted him a mural.

I’ve given him as much of myself as I can over the last almost-year and I’m going to miss his company terribly.

I am only going back part time to paid employment so I’m hoping to strike a great balance between being a mummy and being a person in my own right.  Might be wishful thinking and I’m sure to be busy and tired and confused. But these are the decisions we make.

Review.

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So I’ve been asked to review a book!

I think the last time I wrote a book review was back at school, but I’m hoping a vague grasp of the English language and an interest in the subject of the book will help me with this one.

Publishers Pinter & Martin have sent me a copy of Evelin Kirkilionis’s book A Baby Wants to be Carried, translated by Kathryn O’Donoghue from the original German Ein Baby will getragen sein. Alles uber geeignete Tragehilfen und die Vorteile des Tragens in 2014.

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My inital thought was “Who is this book for?”. I am what is called a “Babywearer”- not a term I particularly relate to or like but it rolls off the tongue better than “I am a person that sometimes carries my baby in a sling or wrap”, so this book does hold a certain interest for me personally. I didn’t know very much about “Babywearing” when I was pregnant, other than that there were a range of slings available, and a friend kindly lent me one to try. When my baby arrived, I tried out the sling and then realised I wanted to know more about it. I am the kind of person who likes to have good information about what I am doing and why. I like to get things correct, so I went straight to the internet to find a local group to ask “Am I doing this right”?

In the developed western world where access to the internet is simple and fast, it was easy to find a wealth of information about slings and wraps- from companies that manufacture slings, to facebook groups set up purely for advice to community sites about local “sling meet” groups that you can join and convene in real life with other sling mums and dads, or “sling libraries” where you can borrow different kinds of slings to see how you get on. Of course there are drawbacks to having so much information out there- much of it being personal opinions masquarading as fact and some very strong opinions on both sides of the debate. And this is what surprised me: there is some debate about whether slings are good for babies and even discussion about whether some slings on the market are not actually fit for purpose or safe. So this lead me to thinking that this book probably does have a good strong audience- those who are interested in using slings and wraps but are maybe blinded by the huge number of sites and different kinds of information out there. A quick google of the phrase “slings and wraps” brought up 2.5 million results so where to start?

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The subtitle of A Baby Wants to be Carried is “Everything you meed to know about baby carriers and the benefits of babywearing”, which was a promising start. I opened the book really looking forwards to seeing a condensed and concise version of the information I’d personally been trawling through for the past 11 months or so.

One of the first things I noticed about the book was the beautiful photographs. As a photographer myself, I was pleased to see really lovely, well composed and varied photos- not just skinny modelesque women, but normal people (both men and women) with a range of different kinds of carriers. However, I was surprised throughout the book at the positioning of the photographs. For example: on page eleven there is a useful table outlining the main different kinds of slings and wraps, however there were no pictures or photographs to illustrate what was meant for those who maybe hadn’t seen a Soft Structured Carrier (SSC) and couldn’t visualise it from the description. This was a theme that reoccured throughout the book- in places where I expected a picture or a diagram to clarify a description of a carry, position or sling there was rarely one there. I think I’m a visual learner in many ways so for me, this made some of the text quite inpenetrable, though I’m lucky that I’ve seen and experienced many of the slings and wraps discussed so at least had a good starting point to be able to understand the written definitions. Those who were maybe more new to the concept of babywearing might find this a little intimidating.

The book was well structured to cover all aspects of babywearing from the myths and facts surrounding babywearing to some different techniques for tying woven wraps. The contents page was very thorough so if the book were being used more as a reference guide than something to sit down and read all the way through, it’s easy to find exactly what it is you want. I read it in two sittings- which fit in well with the main sections. The first section is The Theory of Babywearing: why carry your child? and the second is The racticalities of babywearing: how to carry your child.

The first section did seem slightly overwhelming to me, and I was surprised at some of the information that is most commonly shared around babywearing groups not being present. There is a lot of discussion and some very good scientific information in this section about culture, evolution, child development, physiology and interestingly for me how babywearing benefits your babies proprio-vestibular sensory system. Some of this was research I’d already read elsewhere, and some of it was new to me and very interesting. However this half of the book is quite heavy, and very scientific. I’ll admit that I did skim read a few of these bits, but it does contain useful knowledge if I were ever to have anyone question my choice to use wraps and slings, and it’s well referenced to a number of studies. I did expect the information to be clearer about HOW to carry a baby in this section. Yes there are a huge number of benefits to both child and parent, but many of these benefits can only be seen when the child is carried correctly. Although parts of this are carried, there wasn’t as much emphasis on the safety aspect of babywearing correctly, and the potential risks of using a non-ergonomic highstreet carrier.

The second half of the book concentrates on expanding on that initial table I mentioned from page 11 (with the different kinds of slings and wraps available)- with a double page spread plus on each of the kinds of carriers mentioned with a photograph this time and bullet points to showcase “special features” and “points to consider”. This was useful to compare and contrast the different kinds of slings, but it wasn’t maybe as clear as it could be to compare the slings against each other.

On page 119 there is mention about the correct leg postition for a soft structured carrier, with a rare illustration rather than photograph. However, the illustration isn’t very detailed and doesn’t show the entire carrier, the incorrect position isn’t particularly emphasised and the issue is confused slightly by also mentioning extra straps for stabilising small babies. The leg position is one of the most important parts of getting a SCC, Mei Tai or similar kind of carrier correct, and it’s a shame that this section wasn’t clearer. The terminology used also wasn’t common parlance- maybe a consequence of it being translated from the authors native German.

The common terms used in the UK/US are “knee to knee” or “M shape” to describe how the legs should be positioned in a carrier- with the following picture being one of the most shared:

Knee to Knee position

In addition to this, on page 135 it says:

“[…}This is one of the T.I.C.K.S rules for safe babywearing you can find on the internet”

I was quite shocked by this as the TICKS rules are one of the first things one learns about babywearing and are the guidelines developed by The Consortium of UK Sling Manufacturers and Retailers and recommended by The British Association of Babywearing Instructors for any babywearer to follow. It seems like a strange omission and for me would be the first thing that the second section focussed on.

TICKS babywearing safely

A large part of the second half of the book was allocated to showing the techniques for different kinds of carry with a woven wrap. I had a go at some of them and found the instructions to be very good. In the past I’ve had to visit YouTube but will now be able to use the book for some of the different carries. The photographs here were very useful to really show where to pass the fabric and the text highlighted the important points to remember for each different carry. The double page spread (or more) showed the minimum length of fabric required for the specific carry (though didn’t equate this to a wrap size but ().

There are so many different wrap carries and variations of the various carries that there was no way that they could all be covered in this book. However it did feel like some of the other babywearing options were slightly glossed over to favour the woven wrap- in particular stretchy wraps, ring slings and mei tais. I have three slings- a calin bleu light summer linen wrap in a size L (equivalent of about a 6), a mei tai and a ring sling, so I do feel like the parts I may have found more interesting were not covered in much detail. I recently bought a mei tai with wrap straps, and I’ve been looking for new ways to do back carries with it, but there was nothing in the book to cover this.

The book concluded with some very important issues- one being FFO (Forward Facing Out) carries which are NOT recommended at all due to the hip postitioning for the baby, inability to turn away from external stimuli and the reduction in physical contact, let alone the immense strain on the parent wearing the sling as it can be very uncomfortable for them too. It also touches on inappropriate and badly designed carriers though can clearly not mention specific brands in the same way that internet discussion can. In particular “narrow based carriers” which do not produce the “knee to knee” position I mentioned above, FFO carriers and bag slings which have very sadly been linked to a couple of baby deaths due to them not being fit for purpose. This is obviously a very serious matter, and whilst I was pleased that it was included, it could have been made more prominent for those new to babywearing.

FFO not ideal

It’s always easier to pick holes in something than to find positives, so I’ll say now that this is a good and useful book. This review represents my personal opinion in particular of some of the areas that I feel could have been improved to make the book flow better and to make it more accessible for the kind of person that I assume the audience to be.

As someone who has spent almost a year of nightfeeds trawling the internet for information about safe and comfortable babywearing, I feel I’m reasonably well informed about the issues surrounding babywearing, and was surprised by some ommissions in this book. However, I’d imagine that anyone with any real interest in carrying their baby will find local facebook groups and similar where their knowledge of the subject can grow beyond what can reasonably be expected to fit into a book.

The book is beautifully produced, colourful, well laid out and very well referenced and backed up with scientific studies. I think it would be an asset to any Sling Library, and there are many parents out there who will find the abundance of science, sense and step-by-step instructions a good gateway into the wonderful world of babywearing, although I hope that some of the key material missed out may be included in a future edition.

Happy Babywearing!

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Kellymom

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So Kellymom.com is an amazing American website with lots of useful info about breastfeeding- from information about medicines you can trave whilst breastfeeding to advice and discussion. I follow them on Facebook and recently they asked “what products helped you keep breastfeeding”. Reading through th he answers was really interesting and although some of then clearly weren’t products per se, it was good to see what helped others keep going.

I stated thinking about what and who helped me keep breastfeeding when times were tough.
1. My own utter determination that there was only one option and we would get the hang of breastfeeding. If anything ever in my life, I am proud that I did this and that I persevered.
2. My husband for his unwavering support and understanding that this wasn’t up for discussion.
3. The midwives, health visitors and breastfeeding clinics who helped with the technical and emotional side of things
4. The interwebs- for its wealth and breadth of information and the ability to link up with women in similar situations all over the world.
5. The breast pump for helping me at least try to offer a bottle and for relieving pressure when required.
6. TV, online TV, love film and Facebook. Where would I be without you? My enough hands or braincells to read fit the first six months I needed easy entertainment
7. Nipple shells (no, not shields but shells). Someone told me about these and they saved my nipples! I’m allergic to lanolin so hadn’t bought any Nipple cream. The shells collect any excess leaking milk whilst airing your Nipple. … Very clever. I did eventually find, buy, use and lose Earth Mama Angel Nipple Butter which was great too (good lip balm also)
8. Malt loaf. How many kilos I got through I dread to think but it was great. Yum yum.
9. Decent maternity leave from work. Dear America, 8  unpaid weeks does not constitute maternity leave! 52 weeks, 33 of them paid to a degree. …. that is maternity leave.

🙂