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.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Printing Memories

My family are always asking for photographs of my little one. Who can blame them for wanting pictures of such cuteness?

I was recently given an opportunity by PicStick, to review their magnetic pictures.  That was a "Hell Yeah" and we quickly received details for ordering them.

These magnetic pictures come as a sheet of nine and only cost £9.50 with free postage.  Pretty decent!

It was really easy to order, simply upload nine pictures, then drag and drop onto the template. The hardest part is choosing which 9 pictures you want! Once you've done that you can edit the picture placements to suit, and TADAHHHH that's it.

They arrived really quickly and I was surprised at the high quality and how easily they split into single magnets.

The family members have all received them but we couldn't bear to give them all away so we have kept three.

Now you too can have PicSticks and at a bargain price. Just enter the code TATTY25 for 25% discount (for the next month).

Disclosure:  We were sent a free sheet of PicStick in order to write this review.  All opinions are my own and are 100% honest.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Media misleading

I'm a huge fan of babywearing.  I currently have three different baby carriers, and love having different ways to carry my little one.  I love the feeling of having him close to me to snuggle, and we have such a laugh and a giggle together when we're walking along.   In the main the comments we receive are positive but very occasionally we get the odd negative comment from people who mistakenly believe it is dangerous to wear your baby.

What I get really annoyed about is the media getting it wrong. The latest example is the BBC programme "In the club", which showed this scene...

This particular baby carrier is not safe at all. In a bag sling, there is no safe way to position the baby. They have to lie lengthways and the sling curves them into a C-shape, pushing their chin into their neck and can restrict their airway. The design of this also means that any air they can breathe is re-circulated air.

There have been deaths associated with this sling. Wearing your baby is easy but it must be done safely for both baby and parent.

If you want to baby wear, please do your research and please find your local sling library to try before you buy, and learn how to wear your baby safely.

There are so many benefits to babywearing:
 1. Wearing a baby is convenient.
When we carry a baby in a sling, we can walk around freely and not have to worry about negotiating steps, crowds or narrow aisles with a stroller. Car seats are heavy and awkward for parents.Babies often look uncomfortable, and they are kept at knee level.  Prams are often cumbersome and bulky in heavily pedestrianised areas.  A sling can block out excess stimuli when breastfeeding an easily distracted (nosey) baby, and it allows for discreet nursing in public places. A sling can also double as a changing pad, blanket, or cushion when away from home.

2. Wearing a baby promotes physical development.
When a baby rides in a sling attached to a parent, he is in tune with the rhythm of their breathing, the sound of their heartbeat, and the movements they make – walking, bending, and reaching. This stimulation helps him to regulate his own physical responses and control his balance. The sling is in essence a "transitional womb" for the new baby, who has not yet learned to control his bodily functions and movements. Research has shown that premature babies who are touched and held gain weight faster and are healthier than babies who are not. Mechanical swings and other holding devices do not provide these same benefits.

3. Babies worn in slings are happier. Well mine is anyway :P

4. Baby-wearing is healthy for you!
It can be challenging for new mothers to find time to exercise, but if you carry your baby around with you most of the day or go for a brisk walk with your baby in hissling, you will enjoy the dual benefits of walking and "weightlifting". A long walk in the sling is also an excellent way to help a tired but over-stimulated child fall asleep. Slings are usually associated with infants, but they can be very useful for toddlers as well; most slings accommodate children up to 35 or 40 pounds. The world can be a scary place for toddlers, who feel more confident when they can retreat to the security of the sling when they need to do so. Toddlers often become over-stimulated, and a ride in the sling helps to soothe and comfort them before (or after!) a "melt-down" occurs. It can be very helpful in places like the zoo, aquarium, or museum, where a small child in a stroller would miss many of the exhibits.

5. Slings are a bonding tool for fathers, grandparents, and other caregivers.
Slings are a useful tool for every adult in a baby's life. It makes me smile when I see a father going for a walk with his baby in a sling. The baby is becoming used to his voice, heartbeat, movements and facial expressions, and the two are forging a strong attachment of their own. Fathers don't have the automatic head-start on bonding that comes with pregnancy, but that doesn't mean they can't make up for this once their baby is born. The same goes for babysitters, grandparents and all other caregivers. Cuddling up close in the sling is a wonderful way to get to know the baby in your life, and for the baby to get to know you!
Instead of running loose in crowded or dangerous places, a child in a sling is held safe and secure right next to your body. Slings also provide emotional safety when needed, so that children can venture into the world and become independent at their own pace.

6. They're budget friendly
Slings cost far less than strollers, front-carriers or backpacks. Many mothers consider the sling to be one of their most useful and economical possessions. Inexpensive used slings can be found second hand and new ones can be bought for about £30 -£100 - not bad for an item many parents use daily for two years or more! A sling can also be sewn for the price of a length of cotton, some rings and batting; sling patterns are available.

7. Slings are calming.
Studies have shown that the more babies are held, the less they cry and fuss. In indigenous cultures where baby-wearing is the norm, babies often cry for only a few minutes a day – in contrast to Western babies, who often cry for hours each day. Crying is exhausting for both the baby and his parents, and may cause long-term damage as the baby's developing brain is continually flooded with stress hormones. Babies who do not need to spend their energy on crying are calmly observing and actively learning about their environment. Baby-wearing is especially useful for colicky babies, who are far happier being worn, but placid, content babies and children will also benefit greatly from the warmth and security of being held close.

8. Baby-wearing is fun.
Who doesn't love to cuddle a precious little baby? And when your baby is older, having him in the sling makes conversations easier and allows you to observe her reactions to the wonders of the world around her. It's also fun for baby, because when she is up at eye level, other adults notice and interact with her more. Your child will feel more a part of your life when she is in her sling, and you will find yourself becoming more and more enchanted with this special little person.

It really isn't dangerous as long as you follow TICKS . 

Sunday, 7 September 2014


Everyday of my life now I have to take responsibility for someone else.  He's on my mind in everything that I do,  whether he's with me or not. He's even on my mind as I cross the road, making me more careful and taking less risks in life.

This week, we made one of the first of many decisions relating to his care and wellbeing. We chose his nursery for when I return to work. In some ways it was harder than I expected it to be.   When we first started looking into nurseries I had a list in my head of key criteria and thought it was as simple as that.

As soon as we looked at the first one I realised there were so many things that I hadn't even thought about which were so important.  With every nursery we looked at, more and more things occurred to us.

We eventually narrowed it down to two. We were left with two final questions. Which one did we feel he would be happiest at, and which one did we feel we could trust to keep him safe, and care for him in the same way we would.

It's the weirdest thing having to choose someone to look after your child, and to pay them for the privilege of spending time with him. Because,  it really is a privilege.

I'm now officially dreading 2015.

Every day that I finish work I'll be desperate to reassure myself that we have trusted the right person to take care of the most precious thing in our life.