101 things you can do with a baby carrier

 I’m writing sitting in the garden. It’s 8.47am and already warm. It’s looking like a beautiful day. Little D is snoring gently in the baby carrier and I’ve just been watering the garden: something I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do today. But with a bit of careful manoeuvring and a few yogic positions (the garden’s pretty cramped) I soaked the roses and gently sprinkled the sweet peas.

I love the baby carrier. This one’s an Ergo 360 and was a present from my mum from the Baby Show earlier this year (thanks to Emma’s Diary for the tickets). Much as D seems a bit calmer than Scrip was at his age and will actually sit for a few minutes in the bouncer (the Baby Bjorn is the best) he won’t happily stay for long enough for me to do too much. Maybe in time. But in the meantime I’ve been more confident this time round with popping him in the carrier when I need to get things done. Here’s what I’ve discovered you can do with a carrier and a five week old:

  • Make a cup of tea (only if really needed and keeping kettles far away from him)
  • Give a toddler a bath
  • Get a toddler dressed (socks are the hardest on an angle)
  • Blog (on my phone – just discovering this one)
  • Nursery pick ups and drop offs
  • Push swings (again…and again)
  • Chase a toddler (mock running – a bit Benny Hill)
  • Power walk to try and shed those baby pounds
  • Make lunch (side on)
  • Eat cereal (tricky with the milk)
  • Sit in the garden (not too strenuous, this one)
  • Wind the baby
  • Feed (apparently – not sure my body is quite made for this one…)
  • Make calls about those endless appointments
  • Watch TV (when it all gets a bit too active Frasier is my favourite)
  • Water the garden

(Ok that’s not quite 101 but it’s only been five weeks…)

New Wafer Wisps from Heavenly – organic snacks for babies and children

 

 Pushchairs, car seats, nappies, bottles – it feels like everything has moved on in the three years since Scrip was born. We’re a way off thinking about baby food for little D yet but I’ve no doubt there will be a whole lot of new options alongside what were Scrip’s firm favourites.

When I was weaning Scrip I started off playing it very safe with baby rice and mashed banana at five and half months. Then an NCT friend handed my little one a rice cake one grizzly lunch time and everything changed. She gobbled it up (or gummed it up), and from then on we moved on to baby crisps, crackers, toast, sandwiches, baby biscuits and lots more rice cakes. She loved finger food and mastered the art of holding and eating it pretty quickly.

So when Heavenly offered their new Wafer Wisps for a trial, I was keen to say yes and start exploring what baby food was now out there. The Heavenly range is made up of healthy snacks for babies and children. Currently well known in Northen Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, it was founded by Shauna McCarney-Blair who wanted to give her child healthy, organic food that was suitable for allergy sufferers.

The Wafer Wisps have just launched in the UK via Ocado and come in two flavours – “Pumpkin & Banana”, and “Spinach, Apple & Kale”. Suitable for 6 months+, they are designed to be super healthy – made from organic fruit and veg, blended together with ancient grains like buckwheat.

We all tried them – even me (a hungry breastfeeding mum!) Scrip liked them, although she is used to crackers with something now so we topped with some Philadelphia. My friend’s eight month old enjoyed them and my friend was pleased they were relatively mess free and dissolved in the mouth, with no sticky leftovers. And although I found the mixture of savoury and sweet a bit unusual, they tasted natural to me and not at all artificial.

So there’s a Heavenly thumbs up all round and one to remember when I’m weaning this very hungry baby in a few months.

Wafer Wisps are £2.19 per box 

To find out more visit the Heavenly site

 

My maternity staples – taking you through 9 months of bump

maternity staplesI definitely stuck to a capsule wardrobe during my pregnancy this time, and whilst some things were great for the early stages I’ve found there were a few classics I was able to wear from mini-bump to maxi-bump, and that stayed comfy and shapely along the way. Here are some of my maternity favourites this time:

H&M MAMA black stretchy jeans (£20)
These didn’t lose their shape or get too faded and I wore them for 4 or 5 months as well as after birth. They’re comfy and more flattering than a lot of maternity jeans.

Jojo Maman Bebe 4 Way Maternity cardie (£39)
My version was actually the thicker, winter version of this but it’s got the same shape. It’s nice to pull on when you’re not in the mood for tight clothing, it’s warm whilst being a layer you can take on or off and you can wear it in different ways. Plus there was plenty of room for my growing bump.

Gap V-neck long sleeve t-shirt (£14.99)
A great stretchy staple. Mine was purple (in a bid to move away from the blacks and greys) and it was long enough to pull down over trousers and not ride up. It’s been great for layering.

Vertbaudet Colline maternity sweater (£34)
This looks smarter than a stretchy t-shirt and is just as comfy. It’s been really versatile and I’ve worn it with skirts and trousers, to birthday parties and to work meetings. It’s also good for layering with a vest for breast feeding. 

Isabella Oliver blue dress (£40 on eBay)
Mine was similar to this but much less as I got it on eBay. I love Isabella Oliver and Baukjen dresses – in fact I’ve still been able to wear my non-maternity stripey Baukjen dress up until recently and it seems to ping back into place for post-maternity. This blue dress has been brillant for work, dinner out and most recently, a Christening. It’s smart but comfy and I love the shade. It’s worth signing up to emails as there are always promotions and great sales and the clothes are worth the investment.

And one thing I wish I’d had:

Maternity sweat pants (£20)
For some reason I never got round to buying these. I still had some harem pants from last time that I’ve been wearing but they’re really not very flattering. Something like this would have been great for weekend wearing (or weekday mat leave sofa slouching).

What are your maternity staples? I’d love to know.

Life with a newborn – #winning or #failing? 

 Ten days in and having sent my mum my standard morning sleep progress report text – a positive one – she replied ‘#winning’. Which made me smile. I’d had a few hours’ sleep strung together not once but twice. Result. 

It made me think. These last few days of starting to get grips with a newborn again as well as becoming a mother of two have had their ups and downs. Those winning moments are brilliant – you feel you can achieve anything. But as with anything, they’re balanced out by the little challenges (or fails) along the way. 

And that pretty much sums up the first week and a half (in between all the lovely moments and staring in amazement at our gorgeous little boy):

#win – putting him down and him settling straight away in the Sleepyhead
#fail – next wake up was a five hour feeding session. Who knew they were even possible? From one side to the other on and on (ouch) and grizzling in between

#win – soundly sleeping all the way around our first shopping trip
#fail – then taking 45 minutes to latch on…

#win – first time in proper clothes (including Little Brother top, obviously)
#fail – changing after 5 mins due to suspect yellow stains appearing

#win – figuring out the Ergo Baby carrier and having a nice stroll 
#fail – struggling with playground/swing pushing logistics with carrier on (frustrated Scrip)

#win – calmness in first bath – we use a Tummy Tub – and a helpful Scrip to sponge him
#fail – D inconsolable after leaving the water

#win – Scrip being curious and loving with him (mostly)
#fail – her enthusiasm bubbling over as noisy toys piled on top of him, waking him up (instant wailing)

I expect the pattern will continue like this for a little while, but the wins of being a family of four definitely outweigh any of the bumps in the road so far. 

Introducing our newest arrival 

 

Little D arrived on 15th April – the day before my birthday and the best early present I could ever have. I say early – he was 12 days overdue in the end and although it was all pretty intense and quick I was able to have a water birth in the birth centre and avoid an induction planned for two days later. 

Scrip is everything all at once – excited, proud, confused, a bit jealous. I guess it’s all to be expected but we’re involving her as much as we can whilst making sure it’s not all about D. She suddenly seems so grown up and even more loveable. 

And as for him, he’s pretty perfect. We’ve already had a tongue tie diagnosed and snipped, poor mite. So feeding is challenging but we’re getting there. He’s also very hungry so very little sleep but what did we expect?

Mostly I just can’t believe we have a new addition – and a male one (Scrip’s freshly washed baby clothes are largely redundant!) and we’re enjoying these special early days as much as we can. I know all too well they don’t last long. 

Discovering Pho Chiswick: Vietnamese street food

Pho Chiswick It’s always great to find local restaurants you would happily recommend, and Vietnamese Pho (pronounced ‘Fuh’) has become one of these.

I reviewed it for West London Mum during the warmer weather last year and my friend and I enjoyed a night of great food, good ambience and (strong) cocktails with an Eastern twist.

Here’s my Pho Chiswick review. Enjoy (and if you venture there, I’d recommend the Hanoi Mule).

 

Guest post: soft play for dads – survival tips from the front line 

Soft play advice for dadsMy husband has shared his thoughts on soft play survival. To be fair he’s an expert as I haven’t been able to clamber around the oversized climbing frame of doom for at least the last six months (and he secretly loves going).

Given I’m imminently to go on paternity leave for child number 2, I’m already plotting where I may deploy myself when I’m not changing nappies or burping the little one. My wife and I are well aware of the effect our ‘new kid on the block’ may have on Scrip. After all, she won’t have our undivided attention anymore and she won’t, for the first time, be the biggest draw when others visit. Based on this, and to give myself some convenient excuses to escape the intensity of a post-birth household, I daresay I’ll be escaping with Scrip for the odd adventure and treat.

Once the cafes and playgrounds that are our regular haunts have been exhausted, it’s almost inevitable a trip to Soft Play will be reluctantly mooted (by me) and readily accepted (by Scrip).

The words ‘soft’ and ‘play’ do not a relaxing concept make. For any parent. But you can’t get away from the fact that it is to toddlers what rolling in s**t is to a pig. They can’t get enough of it. And Scrip is no exception. The unbridled joy and fidgety excitement as we approach is a sight to behold. I can barely get Scrip’s shoes and coat off in time before she’s launching headlong into the red, yellow, green and blue melange of apparatus.

The thing is, when you go to Soft Play with Scrip, you don’t just sit at the side, read the paper, have a coffee and generally let the madness wash over you. Oh no. At her insistence, you’re in there with her, following in every footstep, climbing over everything (including children), fitting through gaps you shouldn’t and getting stuck halfway down the slide. It’s more of a workout than a trip to the gym, but she goes back in again, and again, and again. And it doesn’t get boring or tiring for her. She doesn’t even want to stop for food or drink. The pace is relentless.

Here are some tips to surviving a trip to Soft Play:

1. Arrive there as soon as it opens
And never a minute after. If only to snare a table on which to put your coat and bag, you’ll be glad you did so. The play area is fairly empty and you get a number of clear runs on everything before the masses arrive and you wish you never turned up.

2. Vary the activity
As soft play is made up of hard core climbing and more genteel, quieter pursuits, it pays to mix it up. If only to catch a breather. It’s like being at a party where you’re being pursued by unwanted attention (I’m sure that happened to me once in my youth) and escaping to the chill out room for some respite until you’re found out. By going to play shopkeeper or doctor in a side room it keeps them entertained and they get to interact with you, too.

3. Be firm with other children
Other peoples’ children at soft play are horrendous. No, they’re not mine to tell off, but if they’re bigger than Scrip (which they invariably are) and devoid of any sense of what is going on around them (always) then I need to fight Scrip’s corner for her. It’s best to be firm with other children rather than bottle it up and huff as that makes it more stressful. Plus you can guarantee that slightly podgy six year old boy will give Scrip a wide berth when next ‘queueing’ for the slide.

4. Cap the trip at two hours
You’ll certainly have had enough by then and, though they won’t admit it, they will too. Fight the inevitable protests, get the shoes and coat back on and take them to the loo. And get them in the car sharpish. The last thing you want to do is pay for an over-priced sandwich and risk being pulled back into the melee.