Tuesday, 8 December 2015

BLW Recipe: Carrot cake cookies

This morning after a night of barely any sleep Baby D was full of beans by 5:30 am...lucky me.

So, what does any normal mum do at this time in the morning do? Bake of course!

I wanted a little sweet snack for her to take on a morning outing today and I'm still not giving her sugar so concocted this quick and easy recipe. The sweetness comes from banana and the carrots add some extra goodness.
This batch made 8 small cookies - about the size of a 50p.

Preheat the oven to 170C, 160C fan or gas mark 3.

Half a small banana - 40g or so
A small grated carrot - about 35g
Rolled oats - 20g
Flour (plain or self raising) - 10g
Raisins - 10g
A pinch of cinnamon 

Mash the banana into a bowl then add all the other ingredients and mix thoroughly.
Grease a small baking sheet and roll blobs of the batter into little balls then flatten onto the tray.
Bake for 10-15 minutes.

Simple! They are a hit with Baby D.

Dawn x

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Can magnesium help you and your baby sleep better?

If you know me or read my various posts you'll know that I really like Sarah Ockwell-Smith and her books & blog. I've read Babycalm, Toddlercalm and The Gentle Sleep Book and have found all of them invaluable. I was having a browse through her recommended products list on her blog and noticed a recommendation for magnesium oil. She mentioned that around 60% of people are deficient in magnesium. This got me curious so I reverted to type and started doing some reading. 

I knew absolutely nothing about magnesium a month ago. I had no idea that it is actually a really important mineral in the body and is essential for bones, muscles and the brain. It's actually a sort of antidote to stress which relaxes muscles in turn promoting sound sleep.  And if you're one of these people who twitches a lot in their sleep therefore waking you up (I know I am) you may find that a boost of magnesium can prevent them. It can also help prevent nightmares and night terrors again by increasing relaxation.
It's also reported to improve many other conditions from IBS to headaches and PMS.

Apparently magnesium deficiency is very common because of modern farming methods that strip the soil of magnesium. Crops then have lower levels of the mineral within. Also our tendency to eat processed foods like flour and sugar have hardly any or no magnesium due to the production process.
I read that studies show that the magnesium levels in vegetables declined by 24% between 1940 and 1991, fruit declined by 17%, meat declined by 15% and cheeses declined by 26%. No wonder it's hard to get your full recommended amount each day.

So, as we know Baby D is not the best sleeper and I'm exhausted so thought I'd give supplementing magnesium a go. I figured it would go into Baby D via my breastmilk so I'd focus on increasing my intake. I looked into foods that are high in magnesium but it's surprisingly hard to get the recommended 400mg a day. You'd have to eat for example a handful of almonds, a fillet of halibut, half a cup of spinach, a bowl of bran and half a cup of Swiss chard every day! We have a healthy and varied diet but foods rich in magnesium are not plentiful.
So I looked into the oil that Sarah Ockwell-Smith recommend. It's called Better You, I got it in the health food shop. Magnesium is best absorbed through the skin rather than through food or tablets which was news to me. Also it's safe for babies, children and pregnant ladies too. You just spray it on and rub it in, I put it on my legs or arms in the morning after my shower. It has a strange tingling sensation as it's absorbed but is not uncomfortable or anything.
The only problem I've found is that you don't want to get it on broken skin as it will sting...I have bad eczema on my hands so rubbing it in stings my fingers like crazy! Because of this I thought I'd try tablets/capsules so went to the health food shop again. They had different types and wasn't sure what to go for so had to do more reading. I found out that magnesium carbonate, sulfate, gluconate, and oxide are poorly absorbed and I should go for magnesium citrate, glycinate, taurate, or aspartate instead. Side effects from too much magnesium include diarrhoea, which can be avoided if you take magnesium glycinate. So I got myself some magnesium glycinate in 400mg capsules online.
I also thought I'd try to feed Baby D as many foods that are high in magnesium as possible especially at our evening meal. I found that chia seeds are a good source so have started putting them in her yoghurt every evening.
Other foods that are a good source of magnesium are: nuts and seeds, dark leafy greens, fish, beans, yoghurt, bananas and whole grains.

I did an extremely unscientific experiment and did a few days with magnesium supplements and a few without. I was pretty shocked by the results and found that both Baby D and I slept so much better with it and went 'back to normal' (a bit rubbish) without. When taking magnesium I stopped twitching entirely and also felt less stressed in general, even in the day. Of course it could be a coincidence...or possibly not. I'm definitely going to continue with it and have recommended the oil to a few friends and family who have also found it beneficial. We had a bout of illness and at this point the magnesium didn't seem to make any difference at all. It was no sleep all round!

Do you supplement with magnesium? If so have you noticed any changes? I'm really interested to hear.

Remember to consult your doctor or pharmacist before starting taking a new supplement.

Dawn x

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

When Sleep Deprivation and Illness Collide

So a couple of posts ago I apologised for my radio silence and promised to resume weekly posts as usual...then I went quiet again. This is my first post in 8 weeks. I'm sorry to say that motherhood plus self employment and blogging all became a little much for a while and something had to give.

We've had a lot of illness for a start. Not just Baby D but also me and Darling Husband too. Coughs, colds, tummy bugs, even impetigo! As a result of this illness sleeping has been hellish. Baby D has never been the best of sleepers, never the worst either. On a ‘brilliant’ night she’ll wake up once (happens once every few months) on an ‘average’ night she’ll wake two or three times but for a solid 3 weeks she woke every hour - she slept better than this when she was newborn. Bear in mind I’ve had about 480 days of sleep deprivation with the odd good night sleep in there somewhere I started to feel myself going a wee bit crazy.
Baby D is very much a Mummy’s girl when she’s poorly, upset or tired. It’s just the way it is. She’ll only stop crying or screaming if I hold her, Daddy won’t do if Mummy is in the house at times like this. Also with me breastfeeding it makes sense that I’m the one to calm her at night. I actually don't mind...most of the time. I'm thankful that popping her on the boob will never fail to calm her although when you're nursing a poorly child every hour it can get a bit sore. That said I'd go through agony quite happily if it made her feel better.

They say to remember that ‘This too shall pass’ when going through difficult times. Remembering this is so important for me. It’s times like this I believe people resort to leaving baby to cry and whatnot but there’s no way I’m going to do that. Even if my eyeballs are bleeding and my head is about to fall off I’m not leaving her to cry! I feel very strongly about this, but that's a post for another day.

Sleep deprivation is used as torture. No wonder it sends some of us parents round the loop.
There were nights where I’d sit there sobbing, or getting gradually more and more frustrated until it turned into anger then to tears. My poor husband! Luckily he was great and supported me through it. Although as he slept next to me some nights I’d want to punch him for getting a reasonable amount of sleep next to my meagre amounts! There were times where I honestly felt complete despair and the light at the end of the tunnel seemed so far away I couldn’t bear it. I felt like I was losing myself. I became snappy and unreasonable at times. I also started to feel like a failure as a mother and super emotional- crying at everything. And, due to the contagious nature of some of the illnesses we had I wasn’t able to reach out to my support network like breastfeeding group etc so felt very isolated. And of course toddlers still need as much entertainment as normal when poorly! Each day was a bit of a struggle to keep on smiling and trying to keep up the fun and games for Baby D. There were a lot of dog walks!

I'm pleased that I stayed true to my parenting ideals by being there through every tear and waking moment, it was worth it. Now Baby D is finally back to her bubbly, sunshiny self I've almost forgotten the pain.

So, what I'm trying to say in a rambling, nonsensical way is that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. It may feel miles and miles away but you will get there. 

Dawn x

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Reusable nappies - how I do it

So as promised here is my guide to reusable nappies (not very exciting post alert!) Again as with the reusable wipes  there is no right or wrong, this is just my way and it works for our family. And if you'd like a little background here's a link to my original cloth nappy post.

I must emphasise that there are loads of different brands and kinds of cloth nappies out there. To try out different ones maybe visit your local nappy library and see what works for you and your babber.

We have 24 Close Parent Pop-ins Bamboo New Gen V2 (we also have 2 First Gen but they are less user friendly in my opinion). They have bamboo inserts which means they are more absorbent but because they hold more liquid take longer to dry after washing. We rarely run out, it's only when I'm behind in washing that we run out.

On a 'normal' day I'll change Baby D's nappy every 2-3 hours depending on how much she's been drinking (she's a fairly heavy wetter). And of course inevitably the poops always arrive into freshly changed nappies. So we go through 4 or 5 per day (plus 1 disposable at night).

Pop-ins have an outer piece - usually in a pretty pattern or colour then inside a soaker and booster which attach using poppers. For tiny babies you may not need the booster until they are bigger and producing more wee. Once it's all poppered together you put a biodegradable liner in which catches the poop and can simply be flushed down the toilet. If any poop escapes from the liner - sometimes around the edges, especially with breastmilk poops but this doesn't happen much once baby is on solids I just shake off any solid bits into the loo then rinse off with the shower head.
At home we have a nappy bin to put used nappies in. It's a Filur from Ikea, it's great as it has a flip up lid which holds any smells in. 
Then, when we are out and about we have a nappy sack or 'stuff sack' which holds 2 used nappies inside.

I generally do a wash every 2 or 3 days depending on how busy I am. I un-popper everything first (some people don’t but I think they get cleaner and less tangled if un-poppered). And ensure the laundry tabs are done up - this prevents the velcro from attaching to everything inside the washing machine. You have to wash your hands thoroughly afterwards because yes, you get wee on them!
I then either do the insides and outsides separately if there's a lot of them or if there's 12 or fewer I'll put everything in together. I do a rinse (no spin) first, then a wash at 30° or 40° using non-bio powder plus a scoop of Mio Fresh. You only need half a scoop of powder to reduce chances of powder residue remaining in the fibres. For our clothes we use Ecover but apparently you can't use it with nappies - something to do with an enzyme or something so I found a sensitive powder in Asda that is only £3 a box. You should never use liquid detergent or so I've been told and definitely never use fabric conditioner. Mio Fresh is a nappy sanitiser that doesn’t contain any bleaches or nasties that might irritate baby’s skin or negatively effect the fibres in the bamboo.

If I've put everything in together or am just doing outers I do a final rinse after the wash with a spin because the outers have a waterproof coating sometimes soapy water gets trapped inside.
After a few washes sometimes the inserts get a bit crispy like towels do so I put in the tumble drier on a low heat to soften them up. Bamboo doesn't like to get too hot and effects its absorb-ability. The outers have to be line dried and cannot get tumble dried.
In ikea they have handy octopuses that are great for hanging all the nappy bits on and are only £3.

We have had a few issues with leakage: 
1) for a while I wasn’t putting the nappies on quite right. It’s important to get the gusset sides tucked right in on the knicker-line. Once I realised this and rectified it the leakages stopped. 
2) we sometimes get compression leaks when Baby D has been strapped into something (highchair, sling, buggy or carseat) for a while. It took me ages to realise that if she’s sat in a wet nappy it’s like squeezing a wet flannel and the liquid comes out the sides. I simply put her in a fresh nappy before going on a long journey or whatnot.

So that’s it really. It’s not rocket science, just takes a little while to get your head round and work out your own system.

Oh and for the record I've counted that we've now saved 1420 disposable nappies from going to landfill (yes I've counted! My inner geek compels me to keep track of such things!)

Let me know if you give it a shot!

Dawn x

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Reusable wet wipes - how I do it

So I'll start off with a little apology for my radio silence. Life has gotten in the way recently! Lots of sickness, lack of sleep and a bigger than usual workload has left me unable to keep up with writing as I would like. I was generally overwhelmed and wasn't able to focus - I'll write about it another day. Hopefully we are through now and posts may resume as usual.

Anyhoo, as you probably know I am a fan of cloth nappies and reusable wet wipes and recently quite a few people have asked me for advice about them lately...not just what brands etc but exactly how my system works and what equipment etc is needed.

So, at the risk of writing the most boring blog post ever here is my guide to wet wipes and I'll do a nappy post soon too.

Please be aware there is no right of wrong way to do it. This is purely a system which I've cobbled together from tips I've picked up plus trial and error.

I have two sets of wipes. One for bottoms, one for faces and hands.

I like bamboo wipes for bottoms as they have natural antibacterial qualities. We have 30 white ones that I got from Easy Peasy Wipes and we never run out. I chose white/cream colour so that I can see when baby has been wiped clean if you know what I mean...bit gross sorry.
I found the perfect sized plastic box in Lakeland for keeping them in at home. I make a litre or so of Chamomile & Honey tea (chamomile on its own smells a bit weird to me) and pour into the box. I then pop the wipes (dry) into the box and let them absorb the liquid. If there's too much just squeeze them out a bit or too dry add a bit of water then pop the lid on and you're ready to go.

When it comes to going out and about I just pop a few wipes from the box into a brilliant little wet bag I got from H&M for only £1.99 - it's actually a wash bag.

When they are used I pop them in the wash with the nappies. I wash at 40º with non bio powder (not liquid and never use fabric conditioner!) and add a scoop of Mio Fresh nappy sanitiser. It's not got any nasties in it but kills bacteria that may be lurking.

Once washed I always dry them before soaking in the tea otherwise they get a damp and unpleasant odour.

Face and hands:
I use microfibre Cheeky Wipes in a bright colour and have 25, again I never run out. 

I don't soak these like the the others, but run them under the tap when needed as I also sometimes use them for drying like tiny towels.

When used I put these in with the normal clothes wash.

So that's it, all rather simple really. Next I'll write about my nappy system - this is a little more complicated.

Dawn x

Friday, 28 August 2015

Affordable clothes part two: Maternity clothes

When I was pregnant I quickly grew out of my normal clothes. At 4 months nothing fitted any longer so off I went merrily to the high street to buy some maternity clothes. To my horror I found everything was baggy on me. And I don't mean just the belly area but the whole thing, I looked like a little girl in her mother's clothes. Why oh why they all start in size 10-12 I do not know. Now please don't get me wrong here. I am not some tall waifish model type, but a tiny 5ft, slightly built, skinny with small boobs except around the hips and bum area which are rather buxom. I'm the average size of a 12 year old with bottom and boobs added on (see my previous post). Clothes are difficult enough to find in my size but I get by...or at least I did get by. Even the strappy tops were baggy on the boobs! They had nice designs in reasonable prices in H&M, Topshop, New Look and online from ASOS but hardly anything fitted with the exception of 2 dresses from ASOS that they did in a size 4...there's no way they were actually a size 4, they were more like an 8-10 and I bought them because I was clutching at straws (they only truly fitted when I was enormous in the last couple of weeks of pregnancy). I did however find some great over the bump leggings and jeans in H&M so got a couple of pairs of each. But what to wear on the top half? I decided to look at secondhand stuff. Up until Baby D was born I volunteered at a St Peter's Hospice charity shop so that was my first port of call. I ended up finding lots of great bargains in charity shops, not just St Peter's but all over the place. I found dresses and tops that were neither maternity nor my usual style but we're very stretchy and roomy. Here's a few of my bargains:
None of these are maternity wear, just roomy and stretchy (and charity shop bargains!)
And, as and when I passed clothes shops I'd have a quick look at the sale rails and ended up picking up a couple of nice things for special occasions again were not meant as maternity clothes but we're very stretchy and roomy.
Below you can see my work outfit (I'm a photographer and this is me working at a wedding at 30 weeks pregnant). I wore my over the bump leggings underneath the dress and nice comfy Sketchers Go Walks for my swelled up feet. And the other was to wear at a wedding, I love that dress. And bonus, it fits postnatally and I can breastfeed in it too. Winner!
2 bargain sale dresses, left one Warehouse, right one Yumi
Maybe you could pick up a few bargains yourself!

Thank you to Blue Daisy Photography who did the top middle photo and bottom right.

Dawn x

Saturday, 8 August 2015

The Fun Farm Softplay & Sensory Coffee Lounge

Last weekend we had our first trip to The Fun Farm Softplay & Sensory Coffee Lounge on Hanham High Street. 

Baby D and her friends from NCT are all turning one around the same time so we decided to have a joint party and had exclusive hire of the softplay for 2 hours on a Sunday.

We were welcomed by smiley head farmer Jane, she was really helpful and friendly and the kids loved her.

It's a lovely little place. It's small enough that you can keep an eye on the children easily but big enough that there's lots to do and keep them occupied for a long while. There's a ball pool with a little slide, a sensory corner with bubble tube, mirrors, percussion instruments etc, several pretend farm animals that they can climb/sit on, squeakers, wobbly mirrors, big shapes and wonderful bubble machine plus more. 
Sensory corner
It's all for under 3s and was just perfect for our little one year olds who have just started walking (and climbing!) A concern I've had at other places is too many children and a wide age range with confident 5 years olds jumping about amongst tiny only-just-crawlers. I've often seen bigger kids pushing little ones off of apparatus, burying them in ball pools and knocking them flying whilst running past. But at the Fun Farm as they are all under 3 and they have a maximum number of kids at any one time (booking is advised) it's much safer for everyone.

Another concern that I've had at other softplay is the level of cleanliness - often they are filthy and I dread to think what you might find at the bottom of the ball pools! But at The Fun Farm it was super clean. I had no worries about Baby D touching apparatus, it really put my mind at ease.

They have a small cafe upstairs with food and drinks at good prices and if you've hired the whole place (only on weekends) they can provide food for your party.

There's good baby changing facilities and loads of clean high chairs - my favourite IKEA Antilop with fully working harnesses. They have all sorts going on with messy play, grandparents and non walker and crawler sessions.

All of the little ones had a wonderful time, I highly recommend a visit. Check out their website, Facebook page and Tweets.

Dawn x

Monday, 3 August 2015

My Breastfeeding Journey update: one year in

As its Breastfeeding Week I thought I'd give a little update on my breastfeeding journey.

Nearly 5 months ago I wrote about the beginning of my breastfeeding journey. I had a rocky start but soon got on track and ended up loving it and along the way learned to love my body - especially my boobs which I used to hate.

I have now been breastfeeding Baby D for over a year and still love it.
It's become even more valuable a tool as a soother and comforter after the inevitable falls and knocks whilst learning to crawl and walk, calming after a tantrum or settling down for a nap or bed and making her feel better when those pesky teeth are cutting. She now has 8 teeth with another 2 imminent.
I thought that she would cut down on her feeds once we started baby led weaning at 6 months but to be honest she's only started cutting down in the last few weeks along with establishing her appetite for solid food. And she still feeds quite a lot, the feeds are generally only a couple of minutes in the bulk of the day and longer in the evenings, night and mornings. Or if she's cutting teeth she'll have a few days when she's completely off solids and all she wants is boob. I don't mind this but once she cuts back down again it takes my boobs a few days to settle back down and not get engorged.

Speaking to my breastfeeding friends with similar aged little ones, their babies' feeding habits seem to vary greatly. Some now only feed at night, some only feed a couple of times a day, some are very much like me and Baby D. Like many baby related things, almost any variation is normal because they and we are all so different.

Something I really like is the fact that Baby D can clearly ask for milk when she wants it. She'll say 'mama' and do the Makaton sign for milk (mime milking a cow), there's no mistaking it. She can also crawl over to me, climb up onto the sofa and onto my lap ready for feeding, there's no need to pick her up anymore. It's so much easier. Plus she is so funny, giggling and smiling at me during a feed, it's so sweet.

I find however that feeding whilst out and about is not so easy. There's several obstacles I've encountered: 
- Distractions. There's just too much exciting stuff going on for Baby D to settle and have a good feed. She'll hear a noise or something and pull away (typically at the letdown causing milk to spurt all over the place)
- Lack of suitable seating. As I'm so small and Baby D is comparatively big I can no longer feed her whilst sitting on a dining style chair, she's just too long and I'm not strong enough to take her weight. I need a sofa or to sit on the floor. Both of which are harder to come by than you might expect.
- Self consciousness. For months and months I totally lost my boob inhibitions and felt very proud to feed in front of people. Baby D would tuck straight in and there would rarely be a nipple flashing moment and it was a calm and beautiful experience without drama or fuss. Now however because of my last two points Baby D often flails her arms and (very long) legs around, hums, whoops, shakes maracas (yes true story) and generally multitasks whilst feeding. It brings a lot of attention to us...and as she's now toddling with a face full of teeth it seems that some people are grossed out by a 'big baby' breastfeeding. I've lost count of the number of people - both acquainted and strangers - who have said along the lines of "isn't she a bit old for that now?", "oh, you'll be stopping that soon then" or "I wouldn't feed a baby with teeth, maybe you should stop". I understand our westernised society is weird about natural term breastfeeding and I expect some of these comments but quite frankly I don't want a debate or to have to justify my parenting choices when I'm trying to enjoy a cup of coffee in a café. I know I should carry on regardless but if someone does happen to remark, stare or whisper to their companion (always too loudly so all around hear) I'm likely to get riled and upset and it will play on my overactive mind and likely ruin my day. I have stages where I can blank out things like this and not let them affect me at all but most of the time I'm a bit of a sensitive sort.

Like I said before, I love breastfeeding and I know Baby D does too. I have no intention of stopping any time soon, we are quite happy as it is at the moment. I plan on letting her self wean, I'm not sure how realistic that is...watch this space!

Happy boobing 

Dawn x

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Recipe: super easy, quick baby cookies

This morning I decided to try making some sweet snacks for Baby D. I only had a small amount of time as she would only amuse herself for a few minutes before wanting mummy or milk.

She's only just turned 1 and hasn't really had refined sugar yet, I'm trying to delay it for as long as possible and she gets eczema that is aggravated by dairy so trying to avoid that too. So, here's what I came up with. It took about 5 minutes to prepare, 15 to cook plus 5 to cool. That's pretty quick in my book.

Recipe makes approx 16 cookies
2 tbps coconut oil
1 mashed banana (the more over ripe the better)
1 rolled oats - not quite sure in what quantity...read method.

So I mashed the banana and coconut oil together until they were a sloppy paste then stirred in rolled oats until the mixture became stiff. I'd guess 1 cup oats but do a little at a time until the mixture feels right.
I then rolled little balls slightly smaller than ping pong balls and flattened to little patties. Put on a greased baking tray and popped in the preheated oven on 160C fan or 180C for 15 mins or until they went golden brown.
I put onto cooling tray and let cool for 5 minutes.

Perfect little healthy snacks for baby led weaners!

Baby D gave her seal of approval by polishing off two in quick succession.

Let me know if you try this and if your babbers like them.

Dawn x

Here's a little update :)
I just made another batch but added a couple of strawberries to add a bit of interest and they came out great.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Affordable clothes part one: Nursing clothes

I'm one of these people who always has trouble finding clothes to fit me. I am small. Really small. I'm just about 5 foot tall, have a slight physique, small boobies and narrow shoulders but wide hips. Take a look at my post about self image and boobs. And to cut a long story short I get really frustrated with the clothing industry.
My latest annoyance had been with nursing clothes. Firstly they are expensive and nearly always double up as maternity wear which means they have a big space for a bump...and if you breastfeed past 9 months chances of your bump having disappeared are rather high. Having a big baggy bit of fabric under ones boobs is not the most flattering of things. Also their designs seem to be a bit boring and certainly not the kind of style that I feel myself in (of course there are always exceptions like Mama Feels Good: I LOVE their nursing tops). And lastly being such a small person they are nearly always too big for me - my experience is that they smallest size is size 10 which is just too big for a scrawny wee one like me (I'm roughly the size of an average 12 year old except I have boobs and bum), so I look like I'm wearing a sack. Not to mention the hidden slits that you're meant to pop your booby out of sometimes being in the wrong place.

So, what on earth do I wear? My pre-baby clothes are mostly high necked so totally unsuitable for breastfeeding and I'm quite a fan of tea dresses (again high necked) which of course are again totally unsuitable for nursing. Having a baby is pretty expensive as we know so replacing an entire wardrobe is just unrealistic when you've got about £16 left to your name.

Nearly everything I now wear is secondhand, predominantly from charity shops but also from table top sales, car boot sales, hand me downs and eBay, Gumtree and Facebook. Then there is the odd occasion I buy a new item off the high street when I'm feeling flush having saved so much money buying secondhand.
I get compliments very often and people asking me where I got my nursing clothes. I can proudly say "it's a charity shop special!"
So what do I look out for? Generally wraparound/crossover tops and dresses that allow you to slip one side down or button down tops. I personally prefer jersey fabric as there is so much more 'give' than cotton or whatnot. 
Underneath I wear a stretchy strappy top that can easily be pulled down on one side or if it's very warm just a crop top style nursing bra like this one: 
I'm more of a 'pull the top down' type of breastfeeder than a 'pull the top up' type...I'm still quite self conscious about my wobbly, stretch marked belly and would prefer to keep it covered. Although I quite often wear a tight strappy top with a loose top over the top which I pull up then pull down the strappy if you get what I mean.
If I'm wearing a button down or pull down/across type top sometimes it feels like I'm flashing too much flesh - sort of boob to shoulder area exposed - so I wear a small scarf or something or if I'm wearing a card over the top that hides a bit of skin. A nursing cover would never work as it'd be ripped off by Baby D within seconds plus I don't want to hide away, I'm proud of feeding my baby.

Here's a selection of some of my bargains...(please excuse my strange face pulling and funny angles, selfies are quite tricky!)
Charity shop purchases, the most spent is £6 on the zigzag dress (that I look miserable wearing in this pic!)
I'm actually in the process of setting up a little affordable nursing clothes business...watch this space!

Happy bargain hunting.

Dawn x

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Less mess with Baby Led Weaning when you're out and about

There's no getting away from it, Baby Led Weaning is extremely messy (and fun!) Having dogs is very helpful as they munch on all the bits and bobs Baby D throws onto the floor but what do you do when you're out at a friend's house, a cafe or restaurant? I'm not comfortable with leaving a great mess for others to tidy up - I'll end up on my hands and knees under the table picking up crumbs and things: not great in a restaurant setting. At the beginning of weaning I used to just breastfeed Baby D instead of giving her solids when we were out and about but now she's a year old she wants solids and won't be fobbed off with boob! Don't get me wrong, she still breastfeeds pretty often but in addition to solids not instead of any more. Here's some of my tried and tested ideas for less mess when you're away from home.

Ready made foods:

Kiddilicious make brilliant little wafers, they come in banana, blueberry or carrot and handy little packets of two. They make hardly any mess at all. 

Mini rice cakes. There are loads of different makes of these on the market but the ones. I buy are the Boot's own brand organic ones. They have less sugar and salt than the others and come in plain, orange, apple flavours. 

Bread sticks. I buy the mini ones from whichever supermarket I'm in. They can be a bit salty though so I only let Baby D have one or two.

Homemade foods:

- Frittata - I'll make a 2 egg frittata using whatever vegetables I have in the fridge, cook it really thoroughly then chop up into bit sized pieces. Although bits will inevitably fall on the floor they are easy to pick/sweep up. Here's a recipe for Baby D 's favourite frittata.

- Raw vegetable batons - carrot, cucumber, courgette, peppers.

- Pancakes, better still breastmilk pancakes. Recipe.

- Tortellini without any sauce added.

- Cheesy/vegetable breadsticks. Recipe coming soon...

- Eggybread.

Bits and bobs:

I'll always have a few bits in the changing bag for food on the go:

- A Munchkin To-Go Bib (can buy from Amazon, Asda or Tesco). It's specifically designed for when you're out and about. It's made from wipe clean (or stick under the tap) plastic with a pocket at the bottom for catching bits. Then when you're done it all tucks in neatly and sealed with Velcro into the pocket so any sticky or mucky messes are tidied away when you're finished to pop back in your bag without getting the contents of your bag dirty or you can use the attached loop to dangle from your bag. They have cute designs too.

A Tommee Tippee Weaning Straw Cup. Nice and compact with little handles for little hands. We chose to go with a straw cup instead of a sippee cup so that Baby D can learn to use a straw. So, in an emergency we can use a normal straw in a normal cup.

OXO Tot Baby Blocks storage containers. They are meant for storing puréed foods in the freezer but as we are doing Baby Led Weaning there is no purées involved so I use them as useful sized containers for travel. They seal nicely and don't leak plus they come with a tray to put them in.

- Handysitt High Chair. This is the same as the ones they have in Starbucks and other eateries and folds down flat so you can pop in the back of the car. It simply hooks over and attaches to a dining chair (except the really high backed leather/fabric ones). Baby D loves hers and feels like part of things sat up at the table with everyone.

Well hopefully that might help if your little one is starting on solids! Happy weaning.

Dawn x

Baby Led Weaning frittata recipe

This is Baby D's favourite flavour frittata but you can easily substitute any of the vegetables for others and add whatever you like.

Half tsp any oil - I like rapeseed or olive oil
Half a small courgette (zucchini) grated
1 medium carrot grated
6 cherry tomatoes quartered
1 tbsp frozen peas
2 eggs beaten

Warm the oil in a small frying pan and add the courgette and carrot. Stir on a medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and peas, stir and heat for a further minute or so.
Add the eggs and cook slowly until the eggs are firm - about 5 minutes or so depending on the size of your pan (smaller pan makes frittata thicker so takes longer). If you're in a hurry you can pop under the grill to finish cooking the top.
Leave to cool then cut into bite sized chunks.

Other things we put in sometimes are onion, peppers, sweetcorn, boiled potato, broccoli, kale or spinach (chopped into tiny pieces), grated cheese, chicken, turkey, tuna, salmon, sardines, anything you like really.

Dawn x

Saturday, 4 July 2015

My favourite app - Day One

So when I did my post about my favourite apps I stupidly forgot my absolute favourite! What a wally. Anyhoo, that means it gets a whole post devoted to it.

It's called Day One and is basically a photo journal on your iPhone or iPad.

I've been using it for around 3 years now but it really came into its own through my pregnancy and with the arrival of Baby D. I ensure I take at least one photo a day (more often than not of Baby D) add tags and a short description and that's it. It records where the photo was taken and at what time plus what the weather was like and sorts them into chronological order. 
photo view option
It's a really lovely and easy way of looking back through what you've been up to etc. I can look back at my bump growing and looking through the ones of Baby D are ace, seeing her change. One of my favourite tags that I use is 'firsts', I've got her first bath, first giggle, first roll over, first tooth and the list goes on. All the photos are stored online so don't take up space on your device and if you lose your phone or whatnot they are not gone forever but can be restored.

It costs £3.99 through the App Store and to me is worth every penny!

Let me know if you have it or get it and what you think of it.

Dawn x

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

My must haves for when baby arrives

Quite a few friends have asked me what things I’d recommend they get ahead of their baby arriving. There are a few things that me and hubby rate and here is our list of must haves. (Please bear in mind not all parents will agree with our recommendations, they are what work for us, so may not for you. But it’s a place to begin, right?)

- A sidecar cot. 
This is so much better than a Moses basket in the bedroom because you don't have to get out of bed to fetch baby for night feeds (in the first weeks/months there are LOADS of these), simply roll/lean over and pick up baby.  We used a Bednest which we loved - you can buy or hire and NCT have other similar ones available.

- Moses basket. 
Great for the first 12 weeks for downstairs in the house. I got a lovely secondhand one with stand off Gumtree for £10.

- A white noise maker 
In the first 6 months we found white noise an actual life saver. 9 times out of 10 it would calm Baby D down within 30 seconds and often send her off to sleep within a few minutes (in conjunction with cuddling!)
We ended up using a few different methods which were good for different times and places:
- One you can leave in the crib we use 2:
 - Ewan the Dreamsheep - stops playing after 20 minutes perfect for bedtime 
- Sound Spa - plays continuously for as long as you want or on timer for 30 minutes - this is better than Ewan really but once baby gets grabby it's all over for this one! 
- one for your phone for when you're out and about is Sound Sleeper app. See my top app post for further details. 

- Clothes in 'newborn' size. 
We had loads of 0-3 months size which Baby D wasn't big enough until she was about 6 weeks old! Who knew? Not us. Luckily a friend had bought us a pack of sleep suits in newborn size so we had something for Baby D to wear straight away that wasn't huge on her.

- A stretchy sling for when they are newborn. 
We used a Moby but if you had a caesarean you may find a Close Caboo better as there isn't a bit that wraps around your wound area. Holding baby close when you're out and about or just wanting to do some chores around the house is not only extremely useful but also really lovely and cuddly. See my post on babywearing.

I like to be able to see if Baby D is ok, asleep, been sick or whatnot when I'm driving. I got one for £2 at a secondhand sale but the basic ones are not expensive.

- Breastfeeding pillow 
Some people love them, some hate them. I use mine all time and love it. In the first weeks I found it invaluable to prevent Baby D from laying across my caesarean wound. I also used it to sit Baby D in before she was able to sit up herself. I still
use it for night feeds over 10 months on.
propped up in a breastfeeding pillow!

- Nipple cream
Vital in the first few weeks of breastfeeding. It keeps them supple and soothed and helps healing without cracking. Using ones that are safe in baby's mouth are best. You can use Lansinoh lanolin cream which many mums swear by or if you don't want something animal derived (lanolin is derived from sheeps wool) you can make you own like I do, see my post about it.

- Lots of nice booby things to ease the discomfort of breastfeeding in the first few weeks. Also see my breastfeeding journey post. I used my homemade booby cream (see above), Muti-Mam compresses and Savoy cabbage leaves in the bra. Yes you read that right...Savoy cabbage leaves in the bra. This was a great if odd tip from the leader at our NCT group. Apparently there is a chemical in Savoy cabbages that is very soothing, just keep one in the fridge and pop a leaf in each bra cup whenever you need.

-Breast pump
Possibly get a breast pump but you may not want/need one. It's a good idea to choose the one you want then if and when you decide you want or need one send your partner out to get it. They are quite expensive and you may find you don't need one. I used and still use now a Medela Swing and find it efficient and quiet. Plus you can put batteries in it so don't need mains wires all over the place.

- This one is a bit of a luxury: Stokke Tripp Trapp high chair. It's from birth to big kid! I got ours second hand including baby seat for £50 off Preloved. We wanted Baby D to be able to sit to the table at meal times as early as possible to get her used to it, so she feels included and so I could keep my eye on her. I found a newborn seat which simply clicks onto the high chair on eBay so she was at the dinner table with us from birth! It's suitable up to 6 months/sitting up unsupported by which time you'll need the baby seat for weaning.
newborn seat on the Tripp Trapp

- Birth to potty cloth nappies. 
This is not for everyone but if you're concerned about landfill and/or chemicals in contact with baby's bum constantly they are worth considering; see my cloth bum post. We like Close Parent Pop-in Bamboo nappies but there are loads of different ones around. We used disposables for the first 11 weeks while we got used to things. We have 24 nappies which is just about enough - I do a wash every 2 or 3 days on the whole.

- Bamboo wet wipes (reusable).
Disposable wet wipes irritate Baby D's skin not only on her bum but anywhere on her body. She ends up red raw so I avoid them at all costs. I use washable little flannels. They are very simple, I just soak them in Chamomile & Honey tea and keep in a tuppaware box for use at home and pop a couple in a wet bag (they have great ones in H&M in the makeup section for only £1.99)
There's a website that does great ones that are a good price. They are called Easy Peasy bamboo wipes. I have 50 and never run out.
You'd be surprised how few you need to use. Even for cleaning up a poonami I only ever need 2 or sometimes 3. With disposables I'd end up using half a pack!
My top tip is to get white/cream ones. I have a few lovely brightly coloured ones but you can't always tell if you've wiped baby's bum clean with those...sorry for being gross!
So now I use white/cream ones for Baby D's bum and wash them with the nappies and use the coloured ones for face and hands and wash them with her clothes.

Well that's my list. Hopefully you or someone you know may find it helpful.

Dawn x

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Lovely hand sewn gifts for new mummies and daddies

When Baby D was born I was given a really beautiful present of a handmade, personalised Keepsake Pouch to put first outfit, shoes etc in to look back on in years to come. I filled it with all sorts of bits and bobs including Baby D’s ankle tag from hospital, newspaper from the day she was born, first hat and first photos. It’s like a little time capsule to show Baby D when she’s older and for me and hubby to reminisce in the future. It was made by my amazingly talented seamstress friend Catherine of Dotty Owl. 

Dotty Owl hand sews all sorts of gorgeous items for children and babies from dressing up costumes to tote bags (these are extra lovely as you can design your own lining - using children’s drawings!) They are just too cute. I have truly never seen such exquisite, neat sewing and such beautiful original designs. They really are special.
Super hero costumes 
Tote bags - check out the inside pocket design!
I don’t know about you but choosing a special gift for a new mum and/or dad can be a bit tricky sometimes. Two items I particularly like are the Keepsake Pouches and Keepsake Cushions - they would make excellent gifts for new parents.
Keepsake cushion

Keepsake pouch

You can keep up to date with Dotty Owl’s new creations on her website & blog, by visiting her Facebook and Twitter pages and visiting her new Folksy shop.  

Dawn x