Tuesday 3 November 2015

Why I hate car seats

OK, hate is maybe extreme.

But I do have a strong dislike for them and more importantly, how completely uneducated our country is on car seats and their safety and purpose. 

Our society has changed dramatically in the last generation or two. Thanks to cars and motorways we now have the luxury of being incredibly mobile, we travel great distances around the UK daily. I travel approximately 6 miles to take my nephew to school, so that is a minimum of 24 miles a day in the car for Seb. He has to get in and out of the car more times a day than I would like, but we chose to live somewhere relatively isolated for the benefits of living in a rural village. We reap the benefits of living on a green with a playground opposite, he goes to pre school across the green and one day will hopefully attend the school next to it. But I care for my gorgeous and niece and nephew, so that means Seb is treated as though he is the youngest of three and that means he sometimes has to do some trekking around after them. (This is not all bad, it is very good for children to learn that it isn't all about them all the time!)

Prams and travel systems are now made with these handy little add ons for mums and dads to attach their car seat to their set of wheels so they don't have to lift their child in and out of a car seat constantly. But WAIT. That means, a baby can stay sitting (and lets just remember that new born babies can't sit unaided... for a reason) in a car seat for potentially hours... you could go and get your shopping done, pop them in the trolley, back into the car, into the house because the little one has fallen asleep and you can just leave them there while you get some jobs done, back out in the car and out to meet a friend. Ok, so that is maybe extreme and hopefully even car seat lovers don't leave their babies in their car seat for that long (presumably during that time they would need a nappy change and maybe a feed... though if it is a bottle you could just do it in the seat...) But hyperboles aside, car seats make it a little easy to allow your baby to sit in a very unnatural position for far to long. I hate to be dramatic, but the risks to your baby can be severe. 

Bestbuggy.co.uk give this scarily long list of the risks to infants whilst sitting in a car seat 

What are the risks of having an infant in a baby car seat?
Plagiocephaly – ‘flat head’ syndrome.
Adverse cardiorespiratory effects – respiratory and heart rate increases
Increased reflux – some babies with reflux are better sat up, for other babies the pressure placed on the abdomen, in an upright position, can make reflux much worse.
Bradycardia – a slower pulse rate than is typical which can lead to problems with breathing, dizziness, nausea and fatigue.
Oxygen desaturation - less air reaches the lungs, which causes lower levels of oxygen in the blood.
Positional asphyxiation – the baby’s head falls forwards so that the chin is on the chest. This cuts off air flow to the lungs which leads to death.

SIDS – Sudden infant death syndrome is where there is an unexplained reason for the death. The upright seating position in a car seat could be a contributory factor in an increased number of deaths where babies were not placed on a firm mattress. Limiting the amount of time a baby is asleep in a car seat is a risk factor which could be removed.
Restricted growth of internal organs –  Babies grow when they are asleep. If a baby is regularly asleep scrunched up in an infant carrier, then their internal organs e.g. lungs will not expand fully and grow.
Spine development is inhibited 
- the continuous curved position of the spine affects vertebral growth.
Muscle wastage 
- the muscles in the baby’s back are not used properly in the curved position. This will affect the long term stability of the back.
Motor Skills could be impaired – if the spine and back are not developed properly.
After months in the womb, a baby needs the early months, to unfurl, stretch out, and allow optimum growth.

Terrifying huh. So before you go and buy those handy little clips so you can pop your maxi cosi (other brands are available) on your wheels. Just think... is it worth risking all of these things? This family talk about dealing with the loss of their child after he was put to sleep in his car seat and found cold and blue a short while later, so preventable and completely down to ignorance. Terrifyingly, this child lost his life at a nursery, where you would hope the staff would be more knowledgable. But really this just harks back to orriginal point, that we are all incredibly ignorant and uneducated on the safety of children in car seats. 

Now lets be realistic. Car seats are obviously extremely important. It is crucial that they fit your car properly, check when you are trying and buying that this car seat fits well in your car. Not all car seats fit all cars well! Until I was educated by an extremely helpful and knowledgable car seat expert at Kiddicare I knew nothing of buckle crunch and hadn't given a second thought to how differently shaped car seats are. As far as my research can find, isofix and inertia reel (seatbelt buckled) seats are as safe as one another PROVIDED they are fitted correctly. Maxi Cosi state that an alarming 8 out of 10 car seats are incorrectly fitted by new parents with an inertia reel, so make sure if you choose one like this you are shown exactly how to fit it. So the main benefit of isofix is it is much harder to fit them incorrectly. 

So, you want to buy a rear facing car seat because you've read it is the safest (I am a fan of the lie flat bassinets - there are only a handful on the market and they pass every test required of a carseat... another post to follow on which I chose and why). If you do get one, get something like this to go with it - a snugglebundl.

These clever things allow you to lift your child out seamlessly without waking them, you simply place them in the seat before the baby and then when you arrive at your destination you can lift them out using the blanket without manhandling them, and place them in a lie flat position. Magic. 

A real pet peeve of mine is seeing babies strapped in the front of the car, with parents giving the statement that they can check on them more easily. This is nonsense and it is distracting and potentially dangerous. Get a mirror that fits to your back seats and position it so you can glance at the baby, if you are concerned for their well being... pull over and get out. If for some reason you really need to strap your baby in the front seat of your car ensure your airbag is turned off. This goes for all children sitting in the front. Most cars have a little switch somewhere (often the door hinge) to turn off the passenger airbag, if you were to crash the airbag has the potential to crush and suffocate your child.

So, the real message here is: 

  • Be knowledgable on your car seat, don't choose one that is trendy or cool, choose one that is safe and fits your car. 
  • Don't leave your baby in their car seat longer than is absolutely necessary (i.e. the length of a car journey).
  • Car seats are not prams. 
  • Lying flat is ALWAYS best for babies.

NQP x  

Tuesday 27 October 2015

Other Peoples Children

Other people's children are never quite as precious as your own. This is fact. I am a nanny and I truly love and have loved other peoples children but having your own is always the top. Other peoples children are significantly less precious when in public arenas. I'm not talking about that annoying child in a restaurant or on a plane. That is a whole different ball game. I'm talking about that child when you walk into a soft play centre that you just hope and pray is going to steer clear of your child. That's right, that one, the one kicking someone, or pelting balls at the younger children or (a real pet peeve of mine) climbing UP the slide.

So what do you when there is a run in with another child? Let me start by saying... I under no circumstances think that my child is an angel who does no wrong... in fact shortly after he turned 2 we had an instance where he was THAT child... shouting at other children, kicking a baby in the face (that's right, the face), pushing children off the bouncy castle. Suffice to say, we had to leave and thankfully have not an another day quite like that! 

So back to the point, do you tell other peoples children off? Personally, I tend to go for a reminder of the rules after ensuring the parent/carer isn't there to step in themselves, 'we only go down slides, remember!' or 'let's all go carefully, remember he's only small!' etc etc. I really hate that we are all so afraid of talking to other peoples children. If Seb was doing something wrong I would prefer he was reminded by another parent that this was not OK, or that they came an told me. Generally, I am always watching, but as they get bigger and disappear into enormous climbing frames and pirate ships it becomes harder and I appreciate that this is the same for other mothers. So unless you choose to stand next to your child at all times (which also... is not healthy - see my post on risk aversion societies!) then you have to accept that sometimes children are going to need to be reminded of the rules. 

I don't think there is an easy one size fits all solution to managing other people's children; here are my top tips:

  1. Don't berate other peoples children. That will not make you friends and will almost certainly result in a very stroppy mother appearing. 
  2. Do remind children of the rules or how to be safe - 'We only go down slides.'
  3. Do make generic statements that apply to all children rather than singling out a child - 'we all need to take turns,' 'let's not push one another'. Even if you look directly at a specific child when you say it!
  4. Do make sure your child is behaving in a manner you think is acceptable before worrying about what other children are doing! 

Let me know your thoughts on this in the comments below... maybe you think parents should never speak to other children? Or maybe you think we should be harder on other children.... let me know!


Wednesday 21 October 2015

Go Clock - Product Review

With the clocks changing back this weekend, it seems like an appropriate time to review one of my favourite baby products. The Gro Clock. It wasn't the first to market in terms of sleep training or time setting devices, there have been bunnies who wake up and sheep which light up in the morning etc etc. Over the years and I have seen several of them used with various families I have worked with. I decided to go for the Gro-Clock because I am a fan of the company anyway, I like their Gro-bags, their general ethos and one mother I worked with raved about it. 

So the idea is that when your child goes to bed you switch from the sun to the star, the star then has little stars around the edge which count down through the night until the sun comes back at the time you have allocated - like an alarm clock. We dress this up as Mr Sunshine and Twinkle Twinkle - if I'm honest, no discussion or thought went into these names, I think one of us said it once and it has stuck! So when Seb goes to bed we press the button and say 'Goodnight Mr Sunshine!' usually followed by 'Oh look! Who is there now?' To which the standard response is 'Twinkle Twinkle!' With surprising glee considering that this is a routine we have now followed for about 4 or 5 months. Seb, or ninja child as he is sometimes known, climbs out of his cot so we encourage him to stay in bed whilst Twinkle Twinkle is on the clock. Generally speaking in the morning this works and he often runs in to our room say 'Mr Sunshine's up!' Our once perfect evening routine doesn't always follow suit and for some reason he is currently a fan of climbing out of bed several times before eventually realising that we really mean it... it is bed time and giving into sleep. 

I think the clock is easy to use, though my husband would disagree (which one of us do you think read the manual?) and the graphics are large and clear. There are three buttons total, an enter or return button and two arrows, so it requires two button clicks to turn it to the Sun and then to the star; I think this is what he struggles with for some reason. There is a setting for day time sleeps but if I'm perfectly honest I have never really used this, if I do decide it's necessary because he's being a monkey and not sleeping then I usually just use the night time mode and switch it to the sun when I come back in to get him up. 

The Gro-Clock also comes with a book that helps you to introduce the clock to your child. Personally I read the book to Seb once and with our discussions about it he got it and didn't need it covered again, but other children might benefit from visiting the story a few times. It is not such an amazing story that you'll want to read it again and again though!

So with the clocks changing this weekend, you may find this clock is your best friend. Just make sure you change the time before you go to bed and in theory your little one will stay in bed until the Sun comes up! Otherwise you may find your little 6am waker suddenly shouting out or appearing next to you at 5am GMT! They are very reasonably priced at around £19.99, though if you buy on Amazon I have seen them there for £14.99 in one of their prime day deals. 


Wednesday 14 October 2015


I'm sure you are all getting ready for Halloween, the shops are bursting with costumes and head boppers, spiders and pumpkins, skeletons and monsters and frankly it is hard not to get carried away. I generally have to avoid these aisles because I would spend money unnecessarily on what is frankly... tat. Also, Seb is two. He doesn't wholly understand what Halloween is and I would hate for him to end up frightened!

My husband suggested that we took him trick or treating this year to a couple of neighbours as he thought he might enjoy the process of dressing up but it was with the condition that I was very careful about what costume I bought. Last year Claudia Winkleman's daughter was famously badly burnt on her legs after her witches dress caught fire. She has been on a mission since then to educate parents about how unsafe these outfits can be as by the regulators they are viewed as toys rather than clothing, meaning they are not required to pass the same testing procedures. This is also usually why they end up being so cheap, previously to our delight as they may realistically wear this outfit once or maybe even twice! You can watch Claudia Winkleman retell her story here and see for yourself how easily it could happen to your child.

This is not something I had ever given thought to before. We put our children in tule and glitter, hang capes and long sleeves all in the name of spookiness! So now, I have done a bit more reading up on the best ways to avoid fire incidents around Halloween and found Good Housekeeping to have some great tips along with a video of some outfits that they gave a fire test to (here).

I shan't be putting my lit pumpkin on the doorstep as I can't guarantee what other children will be wearing. I will either buy and electric candle or keep it indoors in the window out of reach. After a chat with Seb about what he might like to dress up as, he came back with the suggestion of Hulk. All the best looking costumes I found online said quite clearly - keep away from an open flame - or - highly flammable - in the description so those were a no go. Husband suggested PJs. Genius! He will actually love wearing these again and again after the event and it means I don't mind spending a little more as they will get the wear. So I headed to the Disney Store and found these PJs which will hopefully go down a treat and a mask from Amazon, which has arrived and he is terrified of.... so that was less of a win!

Don't take all the fun away from Halloween because of our need to be risk averse... but risk manage. Be safe, make sure your kids are safe. Make sure they understand the risks of fire and what to do if something does catch fire. Letting children knock on strangers doors is peculiar enough at this time of year, make sure your child isn't the one who gets rushed off to A&E with 3rd degree burns as well.

To end on a happier note... here is a picture of Seb at his first halloween two years ago.... awwww baby skeleton!!


Wednesday 30 September 2015

Parenting as a team

There is no greater test of a marriage or relationship than having a child. It is one of the most difficult and the most important jobs you will ever have and will push you and your partner to the limit. This is why it is so important to ensure you and your other half are on the same team! You may find that one of you is naturally 'harder' than the other and it is very tricky to change your nature... but it is important that you are both singing from the same hymn sheet. 

In your generic family where the mummy is the main care giver, she becomes the expert and fathers can often feel left out or like they are always getting it wrong. Particularly in the early days when the plan changes all the time, i.e. last week we rocked him after his milk to make him sleep... this week however that makes him vomit! This continues as they get older but it might be about how to manage them swearing, hitting, not eating dinner... you get the picture!

As a childcare professional, my husband was accepting from day dot that this was my bag and he was happy to follow my lead. That is not to say that I always get it right (who does?!) or that I don't value and ask for his opinion. In fact, Seb has been having trouble getting to sleep lately... or rather the little monkey would rather climb out of his cot 87 times before going to sleep. On one particular evening where I was tired and fed up with this trend (excuses, excuses...) after putting him back in bed quietly with a firm goodnight for the tenth time, I shouted at him to stay in his bed. I then left his room very cross with myself because I had lost control. Five minutes later I hear Mr. NQP shouting at him to stay in bed. I gave him a puzzled look as he came out of the room... 
'I was copying what you were doing?' He responded.
I felt awful! Poor Seb got a mouthful from both parents because I lost my temper and Husband thought that was the 'new plan!' Doh. 

  1. Communicate! Talk to each other. Preferably before the event. If Seb is exhibiting some new behaviour I try and explain to husband how I am dealing with it... i.e. we are ignoring this, or he knows now this is an immediate doormat offence, or try saying this to calm him down. Consistency is so important for children and will really help your marriage.
  2. Only pick them up on the things that really matter. With tiny babies it is easy to get obsessed with routine, or the way you got them to sleep one day, or how to get them dressed or change their nappy... if your other half does it slightly differently... but it got the job done... then leave it be! They are trying just as hard as you, they just have even less time to perfect their parenting skills.  If it really makes a difference or they are making matters worse then step in, but make sure it's in a helpful, meaningful way!
  3. Try not to play good cop, bad cop. There is no need for it. If one parent is managing behaviour, let them manage it through to the end including the reconciliation. Nothing makes a parent feel worse than them having to be the bad guy all the time. 

Happy team parenting! Thoughts and comments below!


Thursday 10 September 2015

Bad influences

Seb is lucky enough to spend a lot of time with his older cousins aged 6 and 11. He absolutely adores and idolises them which for the most part is fab as they are both wonderful with him. Spending time with older children can be great in lots of ways, it encourages children to progress faster as they are eager to copy and learn, it encourages good social skills and encourages mature behaviour.

HOWEVER - spending time with children significantly older also has its draw backs. Despite never watching anything on TV about anyone dying or anything with violence ( CBeebies and Peppa pig are low on this aspect!) he has spent the last week running around the house shouting 'die die die!' This made me really cross! What an awful thing to say! So I started by explaining that this was not nice. Then I started getting cross with him and tried explaining that it would upset people (namely me apparently!) After a few days of this my husband asked me what I would do if Seb swore. 'Ignore it completely' I quickly replied. 
'So... Why are you not doing the same with this?' 


He was so right, I was making such a big deal about it because it really bothered me! So we ignored it, his cousins were also instructed to ignore it and do you know what... He stopped saying it! A few days later he delightfully came out with both 'I'm going to chop your head off' and 'I'm gona kick you in the balls.' Marvellous. But this time I was on it - everyone was instructed to ignore it and after initial sniggers from his cousins they got it and it seems to have disappeared. 

I await the next fabulous phrase...

  1. Ignore. Try and ignore those choice phrases or swear words. Highlighting them only makes them think it is big and clever! You might need to apologise or explain to those around you, but ignoring is definitely a tried and tested method!
  2. Cut off the source. Try and stop where the bad words/phrases are coming from. Is it a TV programme... is it you?! I have definitely stopped saying Oh God because it just sounds so odd coming from a two year olds mouth. Obviously, I can't and won't stop him spending time with his cousins but I have spent time with them both encouraging them to think about what they are saying and pull them up when they actively encourage him to say 'hilarious' things!
What awful things have your little ones come out with?


Wednesday 9 September 2015

Risk aversion

A few days ago I shared a really interesting extract about a mothers endeavour to stop over parenting her children. This particular extract (available here) focuses on how her over parenting had lead her child to be unable to tie his shoelaces at age nine. We are lucky enough to live in a society in which our children are emotional assets; meaning we have kids because we want kids and they will make us happy. Not because we need them to plough the fields or earn us an income. This leads itself to us becoming hugely invested in every second of their life. We all are guilty of trekking after our little (and big) ones to various activities, standing on side lines in the cold, lovingly mending broken toys, buying new ones, indulging them in too much TV and endlessly picking up after them. I like to think that I encourage Seb to pick up after himself and at only two he is quite good at tidying away toys. But I'd be lying if I didn't say that it is often just easier and quicker to do it myself and then I don't have to have an argument with anyone!

Over protectiveness is hugely linked to how we allow children to manage risk. Managed risk in children's life is so important as it encourages and allows children to learn how to manage difficult situations and confrontation, builds self confidence and fundamentally is usually quite fun. If you compare your childhood to your own child's now, you will see what a loose leash you were given by your parents comparably to now. Maybe you walked alone to school at a younger age, maybe you were allowed into the fields or woods near your house, maybe you were allowed to play outside until dark?

We are all guilty of being over protective at some point. I had to sit on my hands in a huge soft play area the other day because Seb wanted to go into the big children's area on his own. Who am I to say no? What more of a managed risk could you ask for?! It is a totally contained soft play. What was the worst that could possibly happen? Of course he looked tiny next to the 4/5/6/7+ year olds but he didn't care. He had an absolute whale of a time and I sat nervously watching to see him appear at any of the netting areas on my side of the mammoth maze. 

So, top tips for allowing children to manage risk...
  1. Ask yourself 'why?' Why am I saying no? Why am I doing this for my child? Why can't s/he do this for themself?
  2. Don't run when they fall over. Naturally, this does not mean completely ignore them. Young children look to you for how to react to situations, if you are dramatically running over to them looking terrified, chances are they will cry and you won't actually know how bad the injuries are, if any! If you calmly say "whoopsie! Up we get!" you will quickly learn whether they are really hurt or maybe just need a quick brush down and off they pop. 
  3. Enrol them in a forest school. Forest school sessions are becoming increasingly popular in both schools and pre-schools. If your child's school or pre-school doesn't have one, take a look online to see if any others do locally, sometimes you can just sign children up for these sessions. They are usually run by specifically qualified forest school staff and are entirely child led. This means, if they want to run around with sticks they can, if they want to look and bugs or climb trees, they can. The staff won't stop them within the bounds of what is safe, but what they percieve to be safe will be considerably more lenient than what regular teaching staff consider safe. (This is meant with no disregard to teaching staff, often they are limited by what is permitted within the school rules or fear of litigation.) 
  4. Encourage them to do things for themselves where possible. I don't mean abandon them to do the dishes, but allow them to try. In our swimming lessons, if our child throws themselves from our arms we are encouraged to allow them to go under the water before picking them up again. This both allows them to know the risk of being on their own in the water but also permits them to try and learn further what they can achieve unaided. Each time you do something new with your child, take a little step back and see how much they can do alone. You might be surprised. 

It isn't easy. And sometimes it goes against your nature and need to protect your young. But it will honestly create a greater generation of adults who are confident and capable.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments box below.


Monday 31 August 2015

The importance of role play

Role play is a hugely important part of children's development. One of my nanny families expressed a huge interest in their child (aged 3) learning maths and the alphabet and were concerned that all their son seemed to do at nursery was play...

I took a deep breath and explained to them the importance of play at this age, how valuable it is to children and the many areas it can help to develop. I could go on and on but I will try in this post to just focus on role play. 

This came up at home today, because Seb recently got some Playmobile for his 2nd birthday, which he absolutely loves. He has named one Seb, one Mummy (the pregnant one... clever boy ;-) and one Daddy. He put them all in the car today, all that is except Mummy who was put on the doormat. Now, if you have read some of my other posts, you will know that this is our time out spot. 
'Oh dear!' I exclaimed. 'What has Mummy done? Is she sitting on the doormat?'
'Hitting,' was the response. He then walked into the lounge and shut the door to the hall, as we would do when he has time out. I asked him who mummy hit to which he replied 'Daddy.' Daddy and I had a little giggle at this, whilst also secretly hoping that this wasn't a conversation that went on outside the house and just for the record... Mr. NQP and I do not hit each other (or anyone for that matter)! We then discussed with Seb what should happen next and concluded that Playmobile Mummy needed to say sorry to Playmobile Daddy because hitting is unkind and then it would be time to move on and they can go on their trip in the car (which was the original plan!) Seb diligently went and spoke to Playmobile Mummy and she said sorry to Daddy and got in the car. 

It was brilliant to watch, as Seb has recently (since he got the memo about being two and therefore terrible) been hitting a lot. People, toys, books, chairs, anything that frustrates him. On this particular day he had been to the doormat twice for hitting, so to see him role play it out, with him being on the other side of the battle was really interesting and hopefully a development in his understanding of hitting. Watch this space. 

Though sometimes confusing and frustrating, it is important to allow children to navigate these role plays (rather than me saying, 'no! Mummy hasn't been naughty.' Or 'mummies don't sit on the doormat!') Role play is how children explore situations that they are endeavouring to make sense of. This 'making sense of' is often why children enjoy role playing dramatic situations that they are unlikely to have been in, like policemen, firemen and paramedics, but also those 'close to home' situations like mummies and daddies. Some children like to physically be each character through dressing up and some prefer to role play with figures like dolls or Playmobile. Both are valuable and neither is better than the other. Children are also able in these types of situations to stretch their imaginations and explore further situations. This is something that I pointed out to my nanny family, developing imagination is vital for all different aspects of learning, not just literacy but as wide spread as creative problem solving (key for the keen mathematician father!)

So the key points are:
  1. Indulge your children's role play, it is an amazing insight into how they perceived a situation and also how they may resolve one. 
  2. Don't be concerned when they take examples to the extreme. This is really normal and is usually just children flexing their imagination. 
  3. Provide role play opportunities. Toy people of some sort or dressing up make a great addition to any set of children's toys. We chose Playmobile because it is something that can be added to over many birthdays and Christmases and has many different settings (i.e. home, hotel, pirate ship, playground etc!) and can be played with for many many years to come!

If you would like to know more about role play, KiddyChart has some great info on her blog here... 

Don't forget you can comment below if you would like to know more or if you have any other links which might be useful!


Thursday 27 August 2015

What about me? Post labour must haves...

There are endless lists and blog posts about what you actually need for a newborn baby. It is usually significantly shorter than the list most shops would like you to have... but that is not to say that other 'non essential' items can't come in handy too!

I thought it might be useful to think about the things that you will need for you after having a baby. After baby number one, I felt I was totally prepared for looking after a new born (OK, being a nanny before hand probably had a lot to do with that... I am also blessed with an amazingly supportive family on both sides!) But I felt woefully unprepared for how I would feel post labour. I mean, when you apply logic, it makes sense that your body might feel just a little traumatised after pushing a little one out... but I suppose at the time you are so busy thinking about what your little baby will be like and need, you forget about you.

So, if you have had a baby you probably know a lot of these things, but maybe pass them on to your friends who are having babies and maybe add to the list if you think there is something I missed.

  1. Arnica tablets.  You will be a little battered, bruised and swollen down there. Start taking these as soon as you can post labour. They do not recommend you take them whilst breastfeeding, but I know this is something midwives often recommend breastfeeding or not, so maybe consult yours if you aren't sure.
  2. A LOT of maternity pads. You really can't have to many, personal choice for me was Sainsbury, they were comfortable and inexpensive but I definitely didn't buy enough and had to keep sending people to get me more.
  3. Big pants. You will want something soft and not too tight fitting and smart money says buy black... just incase. 
  4. Flax seed.  I ate porridge with blueberries, banana and honey for breakfast for the first couple of weeks, sprinkled with a good tablespoon of flax seed  The first number two after having a baby is fairly terrifying, and you may well feel like your whole insides might fall out with the pressure. Flax seed is really good at getting everything moving and helps to prevent you from getting constipated. 
  5. Comfy leggings. I couldn't put jeans (even maternity ones) on for probably two weeks. Admittedly I had an infection which didn't help, but I just couldn't bear the tightness of jeans so lived in a variety of leggings and different shirts/ long tops. 
  6. Vest tops. Cheap and cheerful vest tops if you are breastfeeding will be your best friend. I didn't get on very well with any of the breastfeeding specific type tops and personally I find them to be ridiculously expensive. I far preferred to wear two tops, the top (usually a looser type) would lift up and the under one would pull down. This isn't particularly good for the straps, hence the cheap variety being key! It meant I could feed anywhere with modesty and ease!
  7. Good food in the freezer.  Whether you want to batch cook before or buy a bunch of Cook meals (they do a 10% discount for new mums!)  it is worth having a variety in. It is so important for your recovery and your milk if you are feeding that you eat well during this time. 
  8. Tea and coffee.  You will get a ton of visitors when the wee one arrives, so be prepared! 

I hope this helps prepare you for your new baby! 


Tuesday 11 August 2015

5 Top Tips for managing those terrifying toddler tantrums

Sometimes you just don’t see a toddler tantrum coming. Sometimes, something they do every day becomes something worth throwing themselves on the floor over and no one really knows why!

Sometimes however, they are preventable and all it takes is being a little proactive and having some foresight. Often it is similar situations that occur that cause the tantrum, now I am no advocate of changing your entire life to suit your toddlers latest whim… but there are often very small adaptations you can make.

  1. Give your child choice. I don’t mean free reign to choose anything, but if the latest tantrum is about shoes, then offer two pairs and ask them to choose which they prefer. If you are already at the brink of a tantrum then you can still offer children a choice, ‘are you going to go on your scooter or hold mummys hand?’ (because sitting on the pavement isn’t really a viable option) or ‘are you going to help mummy choose the cheese in the supermarket? Shall we choose the red packet or the blue packet?’ Choice works as both a distraction technique and also prevents children from feeling trapped and dictated to. Children like to be able to exercise some control and this allows them to within the confines of what both fits in with your life and is safe. Always follow up with ‘good choice!’ Seb regularly congratulates me on my good choice so clearly I use those words a lot!
  2. Pick your battles. This is a tough one, you have to choose the things that matter most to you and work on those and then work backwards to the others; remembering that lots of experiences for toddlers are new ones. 
  3. Be consistent. This is where picking your battles is tricky and why you have to plan a little in advance what matters most (this is the foresight we talked about earlier!) If you really want them to sit on their bottom through the whole meal then that needs to happen and there needs to be warnings and consequences when it doesn’t. (See my time out article here
  4. Communicate. If you've read many of my articles, you may be noticing a theme here. Communicate to your child what it is you are asking them to do. Or ask them to use their words so that you can help them. Lots of toddler tantrums leave us completely bewildered as to where they came from. I often find myself saying 'I want to help you, but I can't if you don't tell me what the problem is.' This is really empowering for children, sometimes they are confused by the world they are in and they just need acknowledging that it is OK to do what they are doing. Of course if what they are doing is not ok, then refer back to the previous points!
  5. Stay calm. Admittedly, this is easier said than done. Tantrums often happen on days where you feel least equipped to manage them (this possibly is because we as mothers are tired from whatever sort of night we've had, so maybe haven't dealt with the moments leading up to this in the best possible way... but turns out, we are human too!) I find tantrums are most quickly resolved when I stay calm, using a stern voice without shouting, they are over much more quickly than when everything escalates to shouting. If you start shouting, you've got no where to go, so try and reserve it if you can. 
Do you have any questions about toddler tantrums? Maybe there is an area you feel I haven't covered. Do let me know in the comments box below!


Monday 10 August 2015

Tackling Time Out

I am not a huge fan of the term ‘naughty step’. I believe in the importance of labelling a child’s behaviour and not the child and it is likely that sitting a child on a naughty step will make the child think that they are naughty rather than that their behaviour is naughty. I also live in a bungalow and don’t have steps. But that’s neither here nor there. In my house we use the doormat and it is just called the doormat. It is an area of the house that you are not likely to need to use in the time the child is having their time out and everyone usually has one; so wherever you are you can implement the same consequence. Whatever you choose to use, be consistent with it. It is confusing for children to have time out spaces all over the house so try to just use one space.

It is really important to give your child warnings before they have to sit in their time out space because as I mentioned in my post about new experiences, children are still learning. We live a culture with a lot of social boundaries and expectations and we each have slightly different expectations. You can’t expect a child to immediately know how to behave in each of these instances. Sometimes a warning will also come with a distraction and importantly an explanation. Speak to your child! ‘Freddie, we mustn’t snatch. Suzie is having her turn at the moment and in a minute she might let you have a go. You wouldn’t like it if she snatched from you. Here we go why don’t you play with this toy and in a few minutes you can swap,’ as an example. It sounds obvious… but I can see that it is not. If this happens again, you remind them that they mustn’t snatch and that if it happens again they will be sitting out (or having time out, or sitting on the doormat… whatever your terminology.) Then if it happens again, sit them out. This naturally will vary slightly with the age of a child and the seriousness of the behaviour. My son is nearly two, he knows that hitting people is not allowed and if he hits someone he goes straight to the doormat. When he was younger however, he was given the benefit of the doubt initially, always.

When you first introduce your time out space, there should be a short introduction to sitting there, for example, you must stay here until mummy comes back to talk to you. You are here for hitting your brother and hitting people is not kind.

Then walk away.

If they get off the step/space, put them back. If they scream and shout. Let them. But remind them briefly, that you won’t be coming back until they calm down. I don’t usually give an amount of time to the child because I feel that different behaviours result in different times and sometimes calming down after an incident takes time for a child and generally speaking children have no concept of time.

When they are calm, or when you feel an appropriate amount of time has passed (think maybe a minute or two for a two year old, slightly more as they get older,) go back and sit with them at their level. This is not a time to shout and scream at them. The minutes they’ve sat out should have given you time to calm down if you have felt flustered or cross as well! Explain to them why they are sitting out, if they are young, keep this very brief, then explain what usually happens after this – is there someone they need to apologise to for example? Then when they are off the step, that incident is done. Forgotten. Move on. Don’t keep talking about what has happened, they have had their consequence and now we are moving forward. If they immediately do the same thing again, sit them back down. Remind them that this not OK and go through the process again.

Some top tips for managing tough behaviour:

·      Follow through! If you have warned them that they will have to sit out, sit them out when they exhibit the same behaviour.
·      Try not make ridiculous threats; if you do that again you’ll be sitting out all afternoon. No they won’t. Don’t cancel Christmas, or going to a party or friends house…these are things that you will not follow through on… (see point one)
·      Try not to tell a 2 year old to behave. It is something that slips out of our mouths so easily but means nothing to them. Explain that what they are doing is not acceptable behaviour.
·      Model good behaviour. You can’t expect children to ‘behave’ if they don’t know what that is. So show them, show them how to play, show them how to be gentle or take turns or share.


Wednesday 5 August 2015

Swaddling... friend or foe?

I have recently had a number of people ask me about swaddling and I shall be upfront and honest with you and tell you .... I LOVE IT! Every baby I've nannied for from newborn, I have swaddled. I swaddled my own son and will undoubtedly swaddled bumpalina (testing out new names... thoughts?!). However, it is something that seems to be very personal and has in the last year or so, received some pretty bad press.

In my opinion if proper swaddling techniques were taught to mothers at ante natal classes, by midwives or health visitors in hospital or on home visits, then we wouldn't have reached the point that many mothers seem to be at. Lots of mothers are afraid of swaddling because they have heard that it can cause damage to babies hips, that babies don't like being tightly wrapped or that its restrictive. Some are afraid their baby will overheat. 

So here are the reasons I love swaddling and a few myth busters too...

The Startle Reflex - babies are born with a reflex that causes them to startle frequently. In the womb they are surrounded by water which allows them to move fluidly, once out in the real world it takes a little time for their tiny bodies to adapt to the way they move in air. This startle action will often wake a baby which can be very frustrating and upsetting for them (imagine that startle awake feeling you get when you are just dozing off to sleep) and can be extremely frustrating for mummy and daddy who seem to have a baby that only sleeps 20minutes at a time! Swaddling keeps their arms close and prevents this startle reflex, therefore preventing the frequent waking. 

It mimics the womb - Swaddling is nothing new. Women have been swaddling or wrapping their babies for centuries, across many different cultures. The first three months are often referred to as the fourth trimester, so swaddling makes perfect sense as a method of creating the cosy, comforting environment of a womb. Just think how little space your little one had before they came into the world, and believe me, they were happy as Larry in there!

It shouldn't be bad for their hips - Swaddling should only ever be tight over a babies arms. Never over their hips. I also always use proper swaddling blankets that have stretch rather than any old blanket, my favourite one was actually a gift for my son from The White Company from a thoughtful family member. You can also now buy shaped swaddle blankets - almost like a cross which makes it even more difficult to accidentally make it too tight over a babies hips. Personally, I prefer the old fashioned method, but I know my sister in law far preferred this type. My husband also became a fan of pushing Seb's legs up towards his stomach after he had finished wrapping him just to check it wasn't tight. 

Don't dress them in too many layers - Overheating is absolutely something you should think about when swaddling a baby. They are going to be wrapped up snuggly in a blanket so they won't need so many layers underneath. Seb was born in a warm August, so he usually was in a thin vest or grow or on hot days just a nappy before being swaddled. As we moved into the cooler months he wore more layers or thicker layers. Think about what you would wear if you were going to bed in the day. Would you go and have a sleep in the day, under the covers in all your clothes? Probably not.

So this is where I stand, what I have learnt through research over the years and how I believe I had a baby that slept well most of the time (he's only human!) from day dot! 

Here are two videos that I find helpful - 

The NCTs advice on swaddling : 

And here is a video on an amazing baby whisperer.... 

Need further help? Want to chat about swaddling or ask more questions? Feel free to get in touch!