Friday, 24 May 2013

Ready for labour - yes but is your partner? Dad's maternity hospital bag checklist.

As women we have a very conscious 9 months (give or take) to prepare ourselves for the birth of our little babies. Coming into the third trimester we begin to think about our maternity bags and if you're like me, start slowly packing from around 30ish weeks. With Zack I left my bag open in the nursery and would just add to it when I'd been to the supermarket or a baby shop. This gave me the opportunity to regularly see what I'd bought and what was left to get. It also meant I didn't get too overwhelmed (which was easy at the time) by having to pack everything all at once.

When early evening Friday 29th July 2010 came :) and it was time to put my maternity bag into the car, fortunately it was all ready to go and didn't cause an unneeded extra stress.

I wish the same could have been said for my partner and his 'maternity bag'. Naively I had presumed he would have managed to organise his 32 year old self; managed some forethought; realised that using the time when I am crippled in pain and have the patience of a raging bull seeing red, to think (yes this took a lot of time too) and pack some things for the hospital was an inopportune time and probably should have been done days before (especially as I was 5 days overdue). Not that I'm bitter of course!

So for all you Mum's-to-be and Dad's-to-be start to mother before your baby arrives by getting Daddy's maternity bag ready too.

This is what he should have:

Some spare underwear,
Toothbrush (just buy a new one then it's in the bag before labour day),
Toothpaste (again just buy a new travel sized one then you/he can pack it before labour day arrives),
Camera - fully charged,
Telephone list (this might be in your/his phone but make sure any numbers you don't have are on an old fashioned paper list so he can inform all and sundry on your new arrival),
Music - whether this is going to be on an iphone, or CD's tell your other half it is his job to organise,
Massage oils - you may have these in your bag, but it will be his job to use them!
Magazines, just put ones in for you, men don't admit this but they enjoy reading our mags just as much as we do. It is also a nice distraction to get your partner to read the articles aloud when you are in labour,
Snacks - just buy packaged stuff you can pack beforehand without the worry of them going off. E.g. crackers and cheese, museli bars, dried apricots (fruit), crisps, chocolate. These will be handy for your partner to keep his energy levels up - you probably won't feel like eating anything,
Jumper, if its a long labour, going through the night he might get a bit cold,
Pillow, again if its a long labour a pillow will be nice for Dad.

Now go and tell your partner this is his list, he has a week to get it organised and you're going to be checking it!!!

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Cradle cap cure

Zack had a mane to rival goldilocks, his little, tiny head was a mass of wavy, thick locks that had a life all of its own.

Beautiful and the envy of any limp, thin haired lady!

He did, however suffer from cradle cap. Cradle cap has many alias'; seborrhoeic dermatitis, crusta lactea, milk crust or honeycomb disease and is common for almost half of babies from about 3 months old. If you think about an arid cracked, sandy riverbed then you are picturing cradle cap. It is yellow and scaly and can cover baby's scalp from the eyebrows to the rest of his head.

What is it?
Well they don't know! (why don't they research these things - like morning sickness). Many health professionals believe it maybe a fungal infection. However, don't be alarmed, cradle cap is not caused from poor hygiene or an allergy your baby may have. It is also considered harmless and will eventually disappear overtime (6 to 12 months). Some arguments claim cradle cap is related to antibiotics either given to Mum or baby in the first few weeks of life. Others suggest cradle cap is caused by the over production of the sebaceous glands.

Of course there are old wives formulas which claim to prevent and cure cradle cap. I wanted to stay natural so tried them all but unfortunately none of them worked. That is not to say give them a try if you so wish, you never know it may work on your littlie.

The  old wives formulas!
Olive oil/baby oil/Almond oil/Coconut oil
Using a babybrush, dab some oil onto baby's head and brush the loose skin away. For sure, this does brush some of the scales away but they return and it doesn't get rid of cradle cap in total.

Cover baby's head with vaseline, leave it overnight and wash off in the morning. Nope never worked.

My health visitor is a little batty and can often suggest some things that I would nod at in her presence but would secretly be thinking she was mad and no I would never subject my baby to that. One of the things she muttered through a visit was that I should wash Zack's hair with an anti dandruff shampoo. Outraged that I would use such a strong chemical on my little one's precious head I bravely nodded my head and said of course I would try it. Well the weeks passed - without anti dandruff shampoo and the cradle cap continued. My next health visitor meeting came and she asked if I had used the shampoo she suggested. Erm yes, I lied. 'How odd' she reproached 'that always works'. Trying to hide my reddening cheeks I changed the subject thinking I'm for sure going to hell with all this lying I'm becoming accustomed to (you know; you haven't made tea because you were tired and the baby was crying all day, I'll only have a small glass of wine for a change, my baby needs that really snazzy pair of highly overpriced dungarees that cost the same as the couch but you say were given to you).

When I got home I mulled over whether I should give it a go. I used the smallest amount of shampoo it barely caused a lather and when Zack's hair dried his scalp hadn't fallen off and he still looked the same - no skin blemishes, burns etc.

By the second wash using anti dandruff I could see a noticeable difference and by the time I had washed his hair half a dozen times the cradle cap had disappeared.

Things to consider:
Zack was around 6 months old when I began using anti dandruff.
I never got any in his eyes.
I only ever used the smallest amount to wash his hair - about the size of a 5 pence piece (10 cents).
I only washed his hair once a week (at most).
Please be aware anti dandruff shampoos come in different strengths.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

GUEST POST pregnancy fitness


Katie Moore has written and submitted this article. Katie is an active blogger who discusses the topics of, motherhood, children, fitness, health and all other things Mommy. She enjoys writing, blogging, and meeting new people! To connect with Katie contact her via her blog, Moore From Katie or her twitter, @moorekm26.

Make Your Pregnancy the Best It Can Be: Eat Right and Exercise

Pregnancy is one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve ever had. Part of why I loved being pregnant was the fact that I felt so good throughout my term and for the duration of my delivery. I tried my best to eat right, exercise regularly, and most importantly I enjoyed myself because the reward was a healthy body and a clear mind. I loved my experience because it made me feel so good. Before my doctor even told us how important nutrition and exercise were going to be for the health of our unborn child, my husband and I began researching all things pregnancy. We knew knowledge was going to be our best asset in making any decision. We gained knowledge about birthing options, cord blood banking, parenting styles and so on. Friends and family also helped guide us using their personal experiences that led them to have healthy pregnancies. Many woman use pregnancy as an excuse to overindulge in foods they would not normally eat so much of. However, this is not good for you or your baby. I definitely had cravings for sweets when I was pregnant, and there were times I wanted nothing more than to hit a drive-thru for salty fries and fried food three times a day. However, I was able to forgo those cravings and find healthier alternatives for my cravings. One of the best things I did for my body and my baby while I was pregnant was eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. When I wanted something sweet I’d indulge in a piece of whole-wheat toast with a little jam or I’d dip fresh strawberries in dark chocolate for a sweet treat. When I was in the mood for salty I’d have some baked chips or light popcorn. I was able to hit the spot with each craving while still eating a healthy diet that consisted of good food that was good for my baby and me. I also drank plenty of water. When I did want something really sweet and strawberries and chocolate weren’t working for me, I’d indulge in a little frozen yogurt, which always did the trick. Of course, I did not forgo decadent desserts all the time. I had them from time to time, but I always had them in moderation, because who can resist chocolate peanut butter pie for nine whole months? Not me! Aside from eating right, I worked out while pregnant. I spoke with my doctor first to ensure that my golf, walking, and yoga weren’t going to harm my baby, or me, and she told me to go ahead. I golfed occasionally with my husband- until my stomach got in the way, and I enjoyed walking in the evenings when it was a bit cooler. I did prenatal yoga for about a half hour from time to time to get a variety of workouts. As a result of my healthy diet and exercise, my labor went relatively smooth. I can’t say it was comfortable the whole time, but I knew that I had prepared my body the best that I could. I enjoy sharing my experience about how eating healthy and exercising helped me throughout my pregnancy, just as my family and friends shared their stories with me.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Maternity Bag - Help what to take to the hospital

I'm literally going to make this a list you can check off as I feel the easier and more straight forward this is the less likely you are to forget anything.

Okay first of all choose a small travel suitcase or bag, that opens out into two sides. I thought it was much easier to pack because I could put my newborn's things on one side and my own things on the other side.

Your baby's side of the case

1) nappies   - x 8    (about) you will be able to use the hospital ones but have a few incase the midwives  are busy when you need a nappy

2) wipes   - x 1    packet, you won't use these on your baby yet as their skin is far too delicate, but they are always handy for spills, a face wash (for yourself), etc

3) face cloth   x 1   make sure you just use this on your baby

4) muslin cloths   x 4 like the wipes, they are handy for everything, when you are burping put baby on one of your shoulders incase they sick up a little

5) babygrows/sleepsuits    x 2    if you stay in longer than a day or two you can always get your partner to bring in extras

6) a 'going' home outfit      x 1    well you have to don't you?

7) hat   x 2   to keep baby's head warm when they first come out, then one for going home in

8) little jacket or outer layer    x 1   for the journey home

9) blanket    x 1   mainly to put over baby in the carseat on the way home

10) small toy   x1   put this on your body so it gets your scent, then leave it next to baby in the cot so baby knows your are around

11) towel    x 1 we didn't want to leave the hospital until we were shown how to bath Zack! novices.
(optional extras) - dummy

Your side of the case

1) underwear    x 4   at least, make them big, and granny styled

2) pyjamas or nightie   x 2    one for labour and one for after

3) water spray   x 1   some people get hot during labour and find this helps

4) toothbrush    x 1 

5) toothpaste    x 1

6 ) shampoo  x 1   travel size

7) conditioner   x 1  travel size

8) body wash   x 1 travel size

9) brush   x 1

10) make up   you might want to pit some lippy on for photos, if you're like me I couldn't care less

11) moisturiser    x 1  always, body and face!

12) face cloth   x 1  I loved this, hot face cloth after labour, freshened me right up

13) towel   x 1   you will NEED a shower after everything

14) loose trousers to go home in   x 1

15) loose tops to go home in  x 1   (you may want another outfit for in the hospital too)

16) maternity pads  x 1 packet   use these like a sanitary towel, again your hospital will provide them but you'll be amazed at how much blood appears

17) knickers   x 4

18) socks   x 2

19) maternity bras   x 4

20) bra pads   x 1 packet    put these in your bra because you will leak milk every time your baby cries, or in my case every time any baby cries!

21) nipple cream    x 1    the sooner you start on this the better - make sure it has lanolin in

22) snacks   a mixture of non perishables, and cartons of juice or water

23) camera    make sure it is fully charged and has memory space

24) plastic bags to put your rubbish, dirty washing in.

Optional extras - a pillow, a jug (gross but you fill it with warm water and pour it over your 'parts' while you are having a wee to stop the stinging sensation), magazines ( I made Phil read out a whole magazine to me from beginning to end), Ipod, or music.

Your partner - get him to throw some things in a bag now (change of clothes, toothbrush, money, phone charger, phone) - don't let him do it when you are in a world of pain and just about to leave for the hospital (like my partner did). Rules about men; they can't make QUICK decisions on what they will need and pack ridiculous things under time pressure so my advice is get him to sort himself out now to save on a future screaming match.

Once your suitcase is ready, leave it out, and open, so you can keep looking into it, it may jog your memory on something you haven't packed. I would start to pack from about 36 weeks. That way you are covered incase you go into premature labour.

Good luck all you Mummy's to be!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Reading with your toddler

I have already written a post on how important it is to read, read, read with our toddlers but is there anything we can do to promote reading at such a young age?

The good news is you are probably already doing some of it. My little boy has just turned two and he now has an impressive selection of books. Some of my recent purchases for him are 'scanning books'. These are books where you have a large picture in the middle of the page and round the outside (or bottom) you have different pictures with the word written underneath of what the picture is of. The idea is that your child has to find the red bucket, or grey mouse etc, etc by scanning the page.

This is the first stage of reading. Honing your child's scanning skills will help them to become fluent, capable readers. As adults with years of reading behind us, we automatically scan to the end of the line we are reading. This helps us to read extremely quickly, without stopping to sound out then read each word separately. Because we have scanned to the end of the line, we already know what word is coming next. Scanning as an adult is automatic and instantaneous.

Helping children hone this skill is the first stage to preparing them for scanning to the end of lines when they can read properly. It develops their eye muscles and gets them to practice sweeping their eyes over a whole page of information.

You don't need a specific scanning book, you can use any book with pictures, start off simple, with big pictures that are in the main part of the page; where is the dog? Then start to ask them to look for more complicated, smaller pictures and use more description in your wording; can you show me where the small, grey, scared mouse is?

Even if your child has begun to read it is still a great technique for them to practice. Scanning will help them in exams and fluency. Think of the Where's Wally books, they are obviously designed for children older than a toddler and yet it is the same skill they are practicing.

Using this technique can also improve children's vocabulary. What is underneath the sideboard? Is the poodle's collar stripy or spotty? The options are endless. If you can see your toddler finds this really hard, help them and with practice they will get better. Circle where about's the object is. You don't want your child to feel they are failing so never make a big deal of them not being able to find something, show them after a few seconds if they are still looking, this is a sign you need to choose bigger, easier objects.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Colicky Baby

I have mentioned before how naive I was about breastfeeding, even once quoting "I don't know what I'll do, maybe I'll breastfeed, who knows, I'm not going to stress about it!" Yeah right, that worked. When Zack arrived, I really wanted to breastfeed him but I soon realised he had terrible wind, colic, cramps, whatever you want to call it. After feeding him for hours I would then wind him for hours. He would burp...a lot, but still seemed to have pains.

If you have a baby who is unsettled, waking up after a short time or they seem 'uncomfortable'; then this is colic. I knew Zack was uncomfortable because he would bring his knees up to his head (aren't babies flexible?) The only position he would be comfy in, was sitting on my knee, slight bent forward and me beating him on the back. This would work, but it was always short-lived.

I was predominantly breastfeeding Zack and was told by my midwife that Zack couldn't have colic because he was a breastfed baby - rubbish. When you get told things like this, and you are a new mum, you believe it because you don't know any different. Deep down, I did think my midwife was cuckcoo
but I'm a sucker for doing as I'm told. Remember to trust your instincts. It is amazing how 'in tune' you are, with your baby. Have faith in yourself and if you think something is not right with your child don't quit until you get a solution.

Despite my 'spot on' instincts'; me of little faith; 'like all new mums' googled my problem and bought lots of products from the chemist.

Colic products and methods results:

Winding - sit baby up and rub or pat their back until you hear some wind release. Hold their head, when they are really small.

Another 'winding strategy' I would use would be to lie Zack on his front and that would release some wind. It seemed to calm him.
Verdict - this is a given, you don't have a new baby and not wind so yes it works to bring some wind up but Zack had colic - I needed something a lot more hardcore that just winding.

Infacol - this is probably the most popular colic relief 'potion' and I used it religiously. It is a liquid that is bought in a small plastic bottle. Put a few drops on you baby's tongue before a feed. It contains an ingredient called Simethicone which has been clinically proven to relieve trapped wind and infant colic. It does say that it works best when used regularly and consistently. It can be used for breastfed or bottlefed babies.

I did think that Infacol helped Zack but it wasn't a complete solution. He still had terrible trapped wind and some days when was still in a lot of pain. However when I didn't use it, he was definitely worse.

Baby massage - this was great for Zack because it relaxed him. I would strip him down to his nappy and lie him on a mat (on his back). Grabbing his feet and knees, I would circulate his hips giving his intestines a massage. Keep the circular motion clockwise pushing his legs round to the right then rotate over to the left. Try and use some pressure while massaging this way to try and 'squeeze out' any trapped wind. Another method is getting some baby oil and massaging their little tummies. Again use a circular motion in a clockwise direction.

Much like the infacol, this worked but was short lived. Often when I was rotating his hips he would let out huge 'gusts' of trapped wind which was satisfying for both of us! He would seem less tight in the stomach and not irritable but it wouldn't take long before he was unable to get in a comfy position again.

Gripe water - a nurse friend of mine recommended gripe water, after I had mentioned Zack's colic. Again this is a liquid solution to relieve reflux, wind, tummy pain, hiccups. It is a sterile water that has been fortified with natural ingredients like peppermint, fennel, ginger and/ or chamomile which are known for their stomach relieving properties.

By the time I started Zack on gripe water I was also using infacol and massage, I was desperate! Much with the other solutions, I could definitely see some improvement, but not enough. I loved the fact that gripe water was all natural and I wouldn't be putting any sugar or chemicals into my baby's body but I was getting really tired of Zack's uncomfortableness and I'm sure he was too.

Colief - this is a liquid which contains lactase, an enzyme which already naturally occurs in our bodies. It is used for breaking down complex sugars lactose found in milk, formula milk and breast milk. It is a bit of a faff to use. When you are breastfeeding you need to pump off some milk onto a spoon or the like and put four drops of colief onto the spoon, feed it to your baby then breastfeed baby as normal. This gives the colief a chance to work on the tummy before you fill your baby's tummy with milk. If you are formula feeding, make formula up as normal then put four drops in the bottle then wait half an hour. This gives the colief a chance to break down the lactose. When I was formula feeding I would make Zack's milk up to hot, put the drops in, then by half hour hour it was the perfect temperature for him.

Amazing! Finally something that worked properly and fully. It was a bit of a faff to start off with but once I got into a routine of sorting the drops out then it didn't seem as much of a big deal. I bought colief in the UK and I know they don't sell it over in New Zealand, much to my panic. If you are in a country that doesn't sell it then look for something that contains the magic ingredients - Lactase.

Colic is a difficult, tiring and frustrating thing for a new mother to have to cope with. Make sure you are getting all the advice you need from your mw and try the colief! It really worked for me and I would recommend it to any of my best friends in the same situation.

Remember when you have had a enough and you feel like you are going to lose it, go down to the bottom of the garden and have a scream. Don't worry we have all been there! Then ring a friend or family member and ask them if they can take the baby out for a walk for twenty minutes. This phase of the baby's life will probably last no longer than 10 to 12 weeks, after this time their immune and digestive systems are more mature and less irritable, easing any colic pains naturally.

Good luck fellow parents. If you have any other top tips on colic please feel free to comment in the comment box down below!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Simple homemade toddler toy - promoting fine motor skills and the like....

Here is another classic recycled, easy to make, but very educational toy for your toddler. And NO MESS! Yippeee.

You will need:
pom, poms
tongs - small,
two pots/containers (we recycled two take-away containers)

The idea is simple. Your toddler picks up the pom poms with the tongs from one container, and transfers them to the other container. Simples!

This promotes; fine motor skills, hand-eye co-ordination, patience, concentration skills and keeps your toddler busy for a little while.