They said what?! How to piss off a new mum in 8 easy steps

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If you’ve been there you’ll know that life with a newborn can be bloody hard work. If not, I’m about to save you from seeing your friend turn into satan in a dressing gown. You have been warned….

1.You really should sleep when the baby sleeps

Really? What a great idea! Unfortunately he usually sleeps whilst I’m doing laps of the ring road in my car or pushing a trolley round tesco, neither of which are ideal snooze locations. On the rare occasion I’m at home when he naps I have precisely 20 minutes to shower, eat, empty the dishwasher, tidy the house, make dinner………

2. Are you sure he’s not hungry?

Nope, hadn’t crossed my mind at all. I mean he’s only attached to my nipple for 90% of the day, and during the rare moments he’s not i’m either changing his nappy, wiping up sick or thinking about when he next needs to be attached to my nipple. Fml.

3. But what do you actually do all day?

Please see numbers 1 and 2. And never darken my door with your stupid questions again.

4. You’re making a rod for your own back there….

Yes, I’m well aware that needing to jiggle my baby to sleep whilst simultaneously breastfeeding and reciting the alphabet song is not an ideal long-term strategy. But for now, it works. And frankly that’s all I care about.

5. ‘My two both slept through the night from six weeks’

Oh really? How lovely for you. And this information helps me how exactly? Now excuse me whilst I unfriend you on Facebook…..

6. Are you sure you should have that glass of wine whilst you’re breastfeeding?

Possibly the meanest thing that anyone’s ever said to me. Please don’t take my wine away.

7. Aww is he teething?

How on earth should I know? Once you’ve ruled out a need for food/a clean nappy/sleep it appears that everyone else knows that your baby is teething. Or has wind. Apparently.

8. ‘I just popped round to see how you’re doing’

How sweet of you. But know this- the unannounced visit is NEVER appreciated. It will almost inevitably involve you waking a sleeping baby, require your friend to make you a cup of tea or feel generally embarrassed that she isn’t dressed at 2pm. Just no.

So there you have it. If you’ve been through it, you’ll understand. If you haven’t, I’ve probably just saved you a few friends.

Grubs up

veggies

Weaning. In theory, it sounds simple- give baby food, baby eats food, everyone’s happy. Except when I began to think about weaning my little one, I found a mass of conflicting information both online and from well meaning friends and family. Every man and his dog have a view on how it should be done, and I’m no expert. All I hope to do is share how I have chosen to do things, and the purchases I have found useful so far. I will state from the start that I have not done ‘baby led weaning’. This is the method promoted by many a health visitor these days, and it has a lot of research and evidence in its favour. I am totally supportive of this approach but it wasn’t right for me and my baby, chiefly because as he was born two months prematurely it would have meant me delaying weaning for some time in order to get a smidgen of grub down his chops.

Preparation

books

In anticipation of the start of our weaning journey I did what I always do- bought a load of books! Knowing that I was going down a puree route initially, I opted for books advising on this approach- Ella’s Kitchen and Annabel Karmel (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ellas-Kitchen-First-Foods-Purple/dp/0600629252; http://www.amazon.co.uk/Weaning-Annabel-Karmel/dp/1405348240). To add to my confusion, both advocate slightly different ways of doing things and different ages at which certain foods ‘should’ be given (e.g. dairy, meat etc). I opted for the Ella approach initially in that I only gave vegetables for the first two weeks, the theory being that this reduces the chance of your baby only accepting sweet things. I am continuing to use formula in my cooking rather than cows milk, though many sources state that this is fine from six months (only in cooking, not as a drink until after 12 months). I am also planning to buy the Gill Rapley baby led recipe book for use when I have moved on from purees.

The Kit

spoons

There’s a lot of stuff out there, and obviously I haven’t tried it all! I’ve found these bits and bobs helpful so far:

* Beware- these are very easy to overfill, in which case they will open when they expand in the freezer

** Free flow cups are generally recommended instead of no-drip as they encourage the development of sipping rather than sucking which will be needed when baby eventually drinks from a beaker

What I actually did

food

This is a rough guide to how I did it- everyone has their own way of doing it but this worked well for us. I did initially try baby rice but my littles was not a fan.

After getting to grips with the basics I blitzed up a load of different fruits and veggies and stored these in the freezer in weaning pots. After trying these one at time over the first few weeks, I then began to offer combinations by mixing two different pots. I started with one meal of day and experimented with the time of day that I gave this. Breakfast time (after the first milk feed of the day) worked best for us. After a couple of weeks I added in a teatime meal and eventually lunch, also gradually increasing portion sizes according to how much my little man was enjoying and adding in a pudding after his teatime meal as well. With time I will be moving onto finger foods and snacks as he appetite and skills develop.

Sample day week 1-2: Once a day, one size 1 pot of vegetable, blended with boiled water, formula or breast milk.

Sample day week 3: Twice a day, one size 1 pot of fruit or vegetables

Sample day week 4: Breakfast- one size 1 pot of fruit. Teatime- one size 1 pot of vegetables, followed by one size 1 pot of fruit

By week 4 my little man was easily finishing these portions and I began to defrost two pots for each meal and offering combinations (e.g. sweet potato and broccoli, or pears and apricots).

Around week 6 I began to introduce new food groups such as Weetabix and porridge for breakfast, and adding dairy to meals (e.g. potatoes, spinach and cheese). Now, at around 8 weeks in I’m also giving a small meal at luncg, and beginning to add in lentils, beans etc. A typical day now consists of porridge and banana for breakfast, avocado or fruit for lunch and lentils/potato/veg for tea followed by fruit and yoghurt. I’ve now moved up to stage 2 weaning pots, and I also offer water in a cup with every meal.

Every baby is different and I have followed my little ones lead in terms of when he seemed ready for bigger portions or new tastes. Some babies will be ready for three meals a day far earlier, whereas others are satisfied with the odd bits here and there for months. It’s often said that ‘food is fun’ until the age of one i.e. milk should continue to provide their main source of calories and nutrients, with food as a supplement, so I have not yet dropped any milk feeds. I will also add that my purees have never been anywhere near as thin as shop bought ones- more like a mash really.

So there you have it. It might not be the ‘right’ way, but its right for us. And so far its actually been quite good fun!

Judged

So, mums judge each other. All the time. About everything. Who knew? Well, not me actually. Before my foray into motherhood I imagined mothers exchanging high fives, at least mentally, as they passed each other pushing their precious offspring round the park. That the ‘sisterhood’ of woman meant a ‘we’re all in this together’ attitude prevailed where mums helped each other out. And sometime we do. But I’ve also seen mothers sneered at and bitched about for their choices. I myself have been judged, and (horror of horrors) have judged. Here are the four main subjects which seem to breed this kind of ugly behaviour.

Feeding
Let’s start with the biggy. Whether breast or bottle, unfortunately most mothers have felt judged for their method of feeding at one time or another. Be it the trials and tribulations of trying to subtly get a tit out in Costa coffee, or feeling looked down on by the other mums in baby yoga as you mix your formula, I don’t think many escape it. Sadly a lot of this judging also comes from ourselves- in my experience mums who wanted to but couldn’t breastfeed put an awful lot of guilt on their own shoulders, which makes me sad. Especially as Albert Einstein was formula fed, and he turned out just fine.*

Crying
Another ‘controversial’ topic. Personally I’m not into the whole ‘cry it out’ thing i.e. leaving your little one to cry until they give up and eventually settle. You could cut the tension with a knife when another mum ‘confessed’ during yoga circle time that she used controlled crying- she may as well have said she’d injected heroin into her baby’s eyeballs. But while it’s not something I would do myself, I don’t think it means she loves her child any less or is an inherently bad mother. We’re all trying to do what we think is best and muddle through in our own way. So let’s give each other a break.

Weaning
‘So you’re not doing baby led then? Oh….’. That is all.

Prams vs slings
Now, I’ve been both the woman struggling to manoeuvre her pram round the clothes rails in topshop, and the woman merrily breezing through with the baby in a sling feeling the glares of the pram pushers. Each has a time and a place, in my opinion. And until recently I was blissfully unaware of the levels of judgement from within the baby wearing world (‘crotch dangler’ anyone?). Whilst I’m slightly in love with my Harris tweed connecta, lugging a 13 pound baby on your front and shopping on your back has its limitations. Chose your method carefully.

So there you have it. It can be a tough old world out there. Let’s all chill out and have a gin.

*possibly not true. Who knows.

Initial musings

Sooo first blog post eh? I must admit I’ve always viewed blogging as quite a self indulgent activity- me, me, me, blah, blah, blah. Recently however I seem to be spending a lot of time with a small person attached to one of my nipples. This has also meant a lot of time spent daydreaming (I.e planning imaginary child free mini-breaks, arguing with myself over the need for cake, wondering when I started to think it was acceptable to leave the house wearing leggings etc) and very little actual adult conversation. So, for my own sanity I thought I’d give this blogging lark a go.

Mainly I will write about the comings and goings of day to day life with my little one ‘O’, currently five months, hence the ‘slings and swings’ username (slings, by the way, are amazing! More on this later). Each day starts with a coffee in bed whilst the aforementioned small person is suckling at my chest, and this is when I envisage possibly having the time to blog. And so, ‘coffee in bed’ was born.*

Today was a little different from the norm as we’re in big old London Town. With a day free to roam the city (whilst freeloading on my husband’s business trip), I decided I’d join the yummy mummy’s of Notting Hill in a trip to the rather swanky electric cinema. Monday’s mornings here mean a baby friendly screening (nattily titled ‘the electric scream’) of what today turned out to be a prettying crap rom com (The Intern- don’t bother. I was bored, and I have a pretty low entertainment threshold these days). Still, a Monday morning sitting in a fancy cinema armchair sipping a latte can’t really be moaned about. Sadly getting there entailed catching the tube, which I’m not a fan of at the best of times, let alone with a 13 pound baby strapped to my chest (slings all the way in London!). I will write more about this when I have the energy.

Caffeine has featured heavily in my day today, as it does most days. Today’s ‘coffee in bed’ was a nespresso cappuccino- not perfect, but a vast improvement on the freeze dried supermarket crap I usually begin the day with. Caffeinated beverage number two- an orange spiced latte courtesy of cafe Nero was a little sickly for my tastes. I found coffee-based perfection in my third hit of the day- a cappuccino at Gails bakery- it was spot on, not too strong and just the right amount of foam. Sadly Gail doesn’t seem to have ventured North of the border from where I hail.

By now, anybody actually reading this blog will have realised that it really is a disconnected jumble of my musings on life. I hope to find my own style in time as I enjoy this self-confessed self-indulgent journey into the world of blogging.

I will leave you with the highs (and lows) of my day in photographic form. Don’t even ask about the goats.

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image image image*Note- this was the blogs original name. Coffee instead of gin? Who was I kidding!

Travel (avec les enfant)

Travel (avec les enfant)

Before I had a baby everyone said ‘oh you’ll not be able to just pop out of the house anymore when little one arrives’ ‘your life’s not your own anymore’ etc. Great.
So when I discovered the joys of the sling (baby sleeps, I have my hands free- win win), I was feeling a little smug. But then I realised. Yes, the sling is awesome, but I had only been travelling around on foot. Oh.

The car
This can be your best friend or your absolute effing nightmare. On a good day, your little cherub will sleep for the entire journey, leaving you to enjoy a relaxing drive whilst sipping coffee, listening to non-nursery rhyme based music and generally feeling like you’ve got this motherhood lark sussed. On a bad day you will wonder why you ever even bothered- quite frankly Jamie Dornan waiting covered in chocolate sauce at the end of the journey is not worth the agro of being trapped in a metal box with a crying screaming baby monster. I invested in one of those back seat mirrors which enable you to see your small person whilst in transit (I have this one from tesco: http://www.tesco.com/direct/lindam-adjustable-back-seat-mirror). Whilst in theory these are a great idea, all they actually mean is that whilst your little one is having their meltdown as you’re stuck in hideous traffic, you get the full visual as well as audio experience without being able to do a damn thing about it. Far better I’ve found is to leave longer journeys til a time when you have a second person in tow who can provide on board backseat baby entertainment.

‘Travel systems’
Ugh, hate that term. It basically means a pram base to which you can affix a car seat or a carrycot. We have the icandy strawberry system- it’s alright. Not as shiny and fancy as most of the other mums prams at baby sensory though. I genuinely could not get my head around why you needed a carrycot for quite some time (and some people don’t bother), but basically it seems to be because it’s not recommended to have your little one in the car seat for more than an hour or two at a time so it is much better for their spines to lie flat (for the first six months at least anyway). We’ve also used ours as a travel cot on occasion in a hotel room or whilst staying with friends. After six months (or whenever your baby is sitting up from what I can gather) you can dispense with the carrycot and affix the pushchair bit to the base, meaning your baby sits upright and generally faces the world rather than you (they’re possibly sick of your face by this point anyway). I haven’t reached this stage yet so have no idea how to assemble the bloody thing. More on that at some point in the next couple of months.

To add to the list of terms I had never heard of before falling pregnant- the isofix base. This is a contraption that you can fix to the back seat of your car (if it happens to be ‘isofix compatible’- another minefield), so that a car seat can simply be slid in and out at the touch of a button. It is pretty handy, I’ll give it that.

Public transport
I haven’t ventured on a bus avec Les enfant yet, but have endured both train and tube. Generally the sling is the winner here again. If your baby can tolerate it it’s far nicer for all involved to keep them snuggled close to you whilst you sit and read the paper. Trying to drag a pram up the steps of a train (or, as I witnessed in a non-baby friendly tube station, trying to squeeze it onto the escalator) is no fun. What I will say though is that during my one experience of catching a train solo with the pram is that people did offer to help, and it was usually the stoner-looking-type teenage boy and not the polite middle class type you’d expect. This was up north though. You Londoners are on your own I expect.
The downside to the sling is that you will have to bounce a small person on your lap whilst you attempt to eat lunch and hold a conversation as you’ve got nowhere to put them. At least until they’re big enough for a highchair anyway.

So that’s it in a nutshell. If I do venture onto a bus (not planning to anytime soon) I will keep you posted. But basically walk everywhere. And for heavens sake buy a sling.