Saturday, 6 December 2014

Making Choices

As a first time older mum, the minute I knew I was pregnant, I couldn't do enough research into all the options available, and all the choices and decisions I'd have to make.

Some of the choices I've made have raised a few eyebrows (babywearing and baby led weaning for example), but I've done my research and I'm comfortable and confident in those. So much so I generally don't even try to defend those choices when questioned.

The one thing that is repeatedly asked of me though is why I give my child the food he gets, or rather why I don't give him the food I don't.  I believe in encouraging a baby to try as many flavours and textures as possible, as long as it's healthy.  That's not to say I won't ever let him have chocolates, cakes, chips etc, but there's a time for those and that time is not right now.

The latest figures, for 2012/13, show that 18.9% of UK children in Year 6 (aged 10-11) were obese and a further 14.4% were overweight. Of children in Reception (aged 4-5), 9.3% were obese and another 13.0% were overweight. This means almost a third of 10-11 year olds and over a fifth of 4-5 year olds were overweight or obese.

As someone who was slim when growing up because of a healthy diet and lots of exercise, but who didn't understand nutrition and has ended up a couple of stone heavier than is healthy; I don't want to see my child struggle with his health because of his diet later in life.  What's important to me is to ensure that my child enjoys ALL foods and learns about a healthy, balanced diet. One which includes fruit, vegetables, fish and fresh meat, as well as nuts, seeds and CAKE!  Gawd, I can't imagine a life without cake and wouldn't dare inflict that on anyone, but it's important to learn what a healthy lifestyle is all about.  Of course once he's older he can make his own choices but at least they will be informed choices.

In the meantime I take my responsibility as a parent seriously. We have fun with food and exercise while nurturing and developing our bodies. I will encourage him to try all foods and learn to cook, understand where food comes from and understand the importance of food choices on your body and mind.

The basics are obvious, limited sugar and salt. The NHS website provides lots of useful information, but the key rules to follow are these:


Babies shouldn’t eat much salt as it isn't good for their kidneys. Don't add salt to your baby’s food and don't use stock cubes or gravy as they're often high in salt. Remember this when you’re cooking for the family if you plan to give the same food to your baby.


Your baby doesn’t need sugar. By avoiding sugary snacks and drinks, you'll help to prevent tooth decay. Use mashed banana, breast milk or formula milk to sweeten food if necessary.


Occasionally, honey contains bacteria which can produce toxins in a baby’s intestines, leading to infant botulism, which is a very serious illness. It’s best not to give your child honey until they’re one year old. Honey is a sugar, so avoiding it will also help to prevent tooth decay.


Whole nuts, including peanuts, shouldn't be given to children under five as they can choke on them. As long as there's no history of food allergies or other allergies in your family you can give your baby peanuts once they're six months old as long as they're crushed or ground into peanut butter.

"Low-fat" foods

Fat is an important source of calories and some vitamins for babies and young children. It’s better for babies and young children under two to have full-fat milk, yoghurt and cheese rather than low-fat varieties.

Whole nuts, including peanuts, shouldn't be given to children under five as they can choke on them. As long as there's no history of food allergies or other allergies in your family you can give your baby peanuts once they're six months old as long as they're crushed or ground into peanut butter.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

The First Weekend Away Of A Breastfeeding Mum

This weekend was the first time I've been away overnight from my little boy. He's 8 months old today and it doesn't seem 8 months since he came into my life.

Ages ago however, in my naivety, I thought at 8 months I wouldn't worry about leaving him,  at 8 months he'd be sleeping through,  and at 8 months he'd be happily taking a bottle of expressed milk.

Guess how many of those things actually happened?  None!  To be fair perhaps I wasn't worried as such but I sure as hell felt lost without him and would have preferred to have him and my boyfriend with me for the weekend.

In the week leading up to the trip I have expressed milk like it was going out of fashion. On the plus side I now have a freezer of milk, which as a friend said, is probably enough to feed the street! On the downside, increased expressing means my body thinks there's increased demand when there isn't.  I planned for this and brought my breast pump with me and made sensible plans to express as soon as I got to my hotel and other key points during the weekend, but the best laid plans and all that!

We arrived at the hotel to find our rooms were not ready yet.  Not having gone this long before without feeding I felt my boobs were ok for a couple more hours. After a couple of hours I desperately needed some relief.  We didn't make it back to the hotel until about 4pm and as soon as we were in our room I expressed while mum made that all important cup of tea!

A night out for Chinese food and a couple of drinks were merrily enjoyed but before I could go to bed I needed to relieve the boulders resting on my chest.  I had thought they were pretty bad,  mmm, until I woke at 2am, again at 3, 4 and half 5. Each time the boulders getting harder and heavier.  At 6.45 I gave up and  headed for a hot shower to express a little in there under the heavenly hot water.

Disaster! At 7am in the Hilton, we had no hot water.. :-(

On went the pump and within 20 minutes I managed to get two full bottles.  Unheard of and incredibly uncomfortable.  The day ahead involved visiting the NEC and spending the day at The Good Food Show.  I wasn't expecting much in the way of facilities to be honest but decided to ask at customer services.  I was directed to the Parenting Room which really surprised me .  I can't praise the NEC enough for this.  The room had a big play area with toys,  a tunnel and a teepee for kids to play with,  two high chairs,  tables and chairs,  two changing tables complete with nappies and wipes,  and a private screened area with plug points for breast pumps. Amazing!

We had a great day at the show and about lunchtime I went and availed myself the facilities.  At the end of the day we found ourselves short on time and at the other end of the centre and I couldn't really make it to the Parenting room,  express and make it to our coach on time.

We were in the Wetherspoons having a quick refreshment.   We spied an empty table with a plug socket and with some sneaky shielding I actually managed to express both sides without anyone realising.

We're now on the coach home and I know my other half has done a very hard but great job of making sure the little one has had his milk,  but I can't wait to get back to feeding him.   I'm in no rush to spend so long away from him again.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The day we nearly met Pingu

After a terrible night with almost non stop crying and a morning of grumpiness,  I thought it would be nice for Oscar to meet Pingu.

We went with some friends and hung around waiting for Pingu to make his grand entrance. The crowd showed their appreciation as he worked his way round towards us. Oscar's pal Henry had a little stroke of Pingu's nose and then it was Oscar's turn.

Pingu held out his flipper to say hello and Oscar turned down his bottom lip and let out a huge shout.  Poor old Pingu pulled his flipper back so quick!

Poor Pingu.

Friday, 17 October 2014

A day in the life of...

The strange sound of an alarm woke me up. I've been so used to the yelling of the baby getting us up on a morning, that for just a moment I thought I was dreaming.  Then I remembered, today was the day we'd been waiting for and my other half was having surgery.

The sound of the alarm gave us half an hour to get out of the house and hit the road. I left the Poomonster asleep on the bed while I got dressed and packed his bag with his clothes and all the food and milk I'd prepped the night before. The poor dog was very confused by so much activity at such a disgusting hour and deservedly gave me a filthy look when I put her breakfast in her kennel and put her out for the day.

The car was loaded, toys were grabbed, and at the very last minute a sleeping baby was carried downstairs to be put in the car seat.  Operation Minimal Disturbance was activated. Poomonster woke briefly and looked a bit confused but happily settled into his seat and before we knew it he was out like a light.

On arrival at the hospital,  it was still dark and wet and everything loaded into the car had to be unloaded again and the baby (now not asleep and being very nosey) was transferred to his pram. As we sat waiting in reception Poomonster kept telling us how excited he was while we hid our nervousness and laughed with him.

After a short wait we were shown to D's room. As soon as we were in, it was a case of business as usual.  Poomonster was laid on the bed clean nappy,  clothes changed and toys given out.  It was only 0730 at this point, and the beginning of a long day.  Within 10 minutes a steady stream of professionals were in and out of the room and Poomonster delighted them all and made me so proud at how well he just went along with it all. Nothing much seems to faze him.

At 0845 D was taken to the anaesthetist and the long wait began.  It was just me and the wee one in a hospital room. We took advantage of being alone and the quiet and he had a great feed and a lovely nap while I drank tea and wrote letters to friends. So rare to have the oportunity and I pounced on it.

Once awake we left the hospital to buy some juice for the patient and in search of somewhere with a highchair so Poomonster could have his breakfast.  Half a bowl of porridge later and some toast I did a dash to get supplies and buy myself some lunch.

Back at the hospital, we had about half an hour to wait for the patient's return and the wee boy happily played on a blanket on the floor with his toys. All of a sudden it seemed I needed to clear everything up, and move things so that D's bed could be wheeled in.

The patient was back and the wee boy looked a bit confused but was soon gurgling away at his daddy and holding his fingers.  I spent the next 3.5 hours in a cycle of playing with the baby, giving the patient water,  playing with the baby etc....

I was really pleased at the breakthrough moment of Poomonster happily taking a bottle from me during the day.  Pretty sure it worked this time because he was strapped in the pram and boob simply wasn't an option. Whatever the reason I was happy,  he had lunch and pudding and plenty of milk in a very strange environment.

About half 3 we made a move and headed for home.  The whole rigmarole of packing up everything was done again and kisses goodbye given.  It felt strange leaving without D and even stranger walking in the house without him knowing that he wouldn't just be walking in later that night.

In the old days I used to really appreciate a few hours to myself but tonight it just felt strange. No rest allowed just yet though as Poo's evening meal needed to be made,  given and his bedtime routine done. Dinner tonight for the wee man consisted of some asparagus and seafood sticks, some creamed asparagus and kiwi fruit to finish.  Strange combo but he enjoyed everything so that's a success in my book.

With the little one finally down for bed I got on with the important job of ordering take away. As I opened the door to my delivery, the baby with his impeccable timing opened his mouth and screamed. Half an hour later I was eating my luke warm dinner. After only an hour staring at the TV, the early start and the prospect of another night of nightfeeds sent me up to bed.

I was awake at 10 to feed him. And again at 2. At that point my sniffling cold kicked in and I was wide awake.

Two hours later and I'm still not sleepy and suspect the wee one will wake within the next half hour anyway so what's the point in even trying?

Hopefully we'll get a couple of hours after the next feed and we can start tomorrow and whatever it brings.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Every baby is different

One thing I've learned as a mum is that every baby is different.  This seems like an obvious statement but there are some things that some people don't realise.

My little fella rolls, sits like a Champ, laughs,  giggles and chats away to me.  He enjoys his food but isn't a fan of breakfast but really loves satsumas.

But then I have friends whose babies are a similar age and don't do some of these things. But then those babies will do things such as sleep through the night! Something Oscar definitely does not do.

For a while now it's been difficult to see other breastfed babies sleeping through and wondering what I was doing wrong.  The long and short of it is that I'm not doing anything wrong. I'm frequently asked by family and friends if he's sleeping through and receive lots of suggestions of things to try.

But then I read the information in this website:

As we all know every baby is different but it's not uncommon for breastfed babies to still wake for feeds at the age of 1.

I have adjusted somewhat to the lack of sleep,  you just have to.  As long as Oscar wants to breastfeed I'll continue, so, yes, I may be still feeding him in the night for many months to come.

Rest assured the minute he starts sleeping through,  you'll know about it!

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

The hunt for baby friendly

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

This quote has often been on my mind in my lifetime and a recent dining experience brought it to mind again.

Over the last six months my social life has been mainly limited to spending time with my "mummy friends". Don't get me wrong,  I love this and love spending time with them.  We started off meeting in the same place quite frequently, well it was summer, the sun was shining and most of us could walk there. It was perfect.

Then the weather got less fantastic, boredom set in and so began the hunt for "baby friendly" venues to devour cake. Not massively difficult normally,  but there is always at least three of us, with babies, prams etc.... It ain't that easy.

I foolishly assumed that if a place has highchairs they will be welcoming. WELCOMING and able actually. Wrong!

One of the first places we went to wasn't too bad. The warm and friendly delight of Clervaux. We had a Groupon voucher and I popped in the day before to let them know we were intending to redeem it. The cafe hosts NCT mother and baby meetups, so they're definitely welcoming. Just a bit of a shame that noise carries so much in there and it's quite hard to negotiate prams in there when they're busy.

The second place (Robineau) is the subject of my recent fool me reminder. We turned up one morning, four of us with babies and three prams between us. As I was first there I asked for highchairs and the lady I spoke to was happy to rearrange seats and tables and fetch high chairs etc. Sadly the waiter was less than impressed.

As usual the food was delicious but the service was sketchy. As the babies were finished eating we asked for the high chairs to be taken away, there really wasn't much room and we didn't want to get in people's way.  We laid a blanket on the floor in our little space and let the babies sit and play on that. It kept them quiet and happy and didn't disturb anyone. The service was really slow and the attitude of the waiter was unhelpful. 

One of our group doesn't drink tea or coffee and she'd asked to swap the drink on a set menu for Orange juice.  This was initially met with a negative as it was a set menu and they weren't prepared to change anything. When challenged we were told that it would be more expensive so they couldn't do it. They were pushed to check this and suddenly orange juice was not a problem!  When it came to paying it took ages to get the bill and longer to pay. By this time it was nearly lunchtime and it starting to get busy,  you'd think they'd be wanting to give us a swift exit. We uhmed and ahhed about going back, but as it's the only cafe in the village where rhyme time is, it really was that or nothing. 

So we went back a couple of weeks later, this time, only the three of us and we didn't need highchairs. We were shown to our seats very quickly and we settled the boys in to their blanket on the floor and perused the menu. We waited and waited and people arriving were having their orders taken. Eventually we enquired and we quickly were seen to after that.

The order was served fairly quickly but again we struggled to get the bill paid.  We moved to the shop at the front and found a waitress running after us asking ud to pay the bill.  I joked that we weren't running out and the waitress tried to downplay it but I don't think she was too impressed.  

They fooled me twice and now I know that just because they have high chairs it doesn't mean that they are baby friendly. 

In fact one of the best experiences I had was visiting a little vegetarian cafe in town at the back of a health food shop. It was tiny, no highchairs, but they were so accomodating in moving furniture to be able to get the pram in and checked we were happy.

Now we just need to find somewhere like that but with more room for 4/5 of us. 

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Feeling human

One thing I've done since I was a teenager is colour my hair. That's still the case, but in my late twenties I started to play around with my look and started adding pink and purple and blue into my hair. Not huge amounts, just a few strands. But it didn't feel enough.

Then in 2006 I received a diagnosis which completely changed my outlook on life. I stopped holding back and decided to just go for it. I dyed my whole head atomic pink. I loved it, but never felt comfortable with the attention it seemed to get. While I'm chatty and bubbly and will talk to anyone, I'm not massively confident and don't feel comfortable being the centre of attention.

At work I found myself interacting with more senior staff members and I wanted to be taken seriously.  I never really believed people saw past the hair. Consequently, I gradually started toning things down.

Looking at old photos recently I realised I really missed it. The hair made me feel like I was being true to myself,  like normal, despite it being a most unnatural colour!

Despite being home alone with a demanding baby this afternoon, I've finally given into the siren call.

The Pink is back and I feel NORMAL.