Saturday, 23 January 2016

We use Makaton in our family

I'd heard of Makaton but didn't really know anything about it until my friend's little girl started learning it as her primary communication (she is non-verbal due to development issues).
The main reason initially for Baby D and me to learn it was so that we could communicate effectively with her in the future, I didn't really think too much how it would benefit us until it started to happen.

If you're not already aware Makaton is a language programme using signs and symbols to help people to communicate. It is designed to support spoken language and the signs and symbols are used with speech, in spoken word order. It's quite simple and great for children and adults alike. 

We (baby D was only about 4 or 5 months old at the time so it was me really) learned a few signs at the local Sure Start Centre 'Baby and Me' group. They encouraged us to start using signs as much as possible and we might be surprised at the results. 
I started off by doing the sign for milk - which mimes milking a cow - each time I offered breastmilk to her. I kept doing it every time until about 5 or 6 weeks later she started using the sign herself. It was great! She was able to tell me exactly what she wanted clearly and easily. This gave me the motivation to learn new signs.

I bought a pocket baby signs book from the Makaton charity website and later downloaded the app which includes short videos of how to do the signs.
She slowly but surely started picking up signs including dog, cat, food, drink, hello, goodbye, more, please, thank you, friend, funny and many others.

We also started watching Something Special on CBeebies which stars Mr Tumble and Justin who promote the use of Makaton. They teach signs on each episode and the show features children with special needs. I really like this as it shows Baby D from a very young age to empathise and embrace people with disabilities and shows that all children are special regardless of ability. And of course Baby D loves it and joins in with all the actions, it's very cute.

Baby D started talking at 11 months old. She said 'dog' and signed 'dog' too. She now uses the signs and the words at the same time which is really helpful because sometimes what she's saying isn't massively clear, as you'd expect with a little toddler.

It takes a lot of frustration away from Baby D. She can make herself understood nearly all of the time often using signs as an aid, I think that's pretty neat at less than 18 months old.

I thoroughly recommend learning a few basic signs along with your little ones, it really does make life easier!

Dawn x

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Something a bit different: Louise Boulter Illustration

You may have spotted that the Me and Me Babber artwork has changed. This portrait of me babywearing Baby D was created by super talented illustrator Louise Boulter.

Louise is a full time Illustrator and does an array of interesting projects.

Her latest works include a book jacket design for publisher Penguin’s Monarchs series and publicity and merchandise for Sarah Millican’s Outsider tour.
She illustrates regularly for Standard Issue. Check out this online magazine for women by women, it’s a great read with loads of really interesting articles and some weird and wonderful drawings by Louise. My favourite being Lady Parts: Weird Hair…I think the lady on the left looks like me! It makes me smile. 

She takes commissions for family portraits which I honestly think are so amazing and fun. She can incorporate anything really, anything that makes your family individual and you.

Visit her website here.

Dawn x

Saturday, 9 January 2016

How and why we became a cosleeping family

I always knew that I'd want my newborn baby next to me at night. I had a couple of friends who had their babies in the bed with them but never really thought that I’d be comfortable with that. It just never really occurred to me that cosleeping was an option for me and my family. I envisaged a Moses basket or cot next to my bed then once baby reached 6 months or so they'd move to their own room in a regular cot...little did I know how differently I'd feel once Baby D actually arrived!

A kind friend lent us a Bednest for the first 6 months. It's a bedside cot that you put at the same height as your bed then you don't have to get out of bed for feeding. All I had to do was roll over, pick Baby D up, feed her then pop back (I always kept the side piece fully down so it was open onto our bed) It was an absolute godsend and I loved it. 

At 5 months we attended a family funeral that was a couple of hundred miles away from home. We decided to stay in a hotel for two nights - one before and one after. We asked for a travel cot and thought nothing of it until we actually came to use it. We moved it from the corner of the room to next to my side of the bed so I wouldn't have to rummage around in the dark looking for my child when she got hungry. But when it came to putting her in there it all went terribly wrong. She slept in it for roughly 8 seconds before screaming her head off. We tried numerous times but of course she wanted to be close to mummy and out of this cavernous contraption. It got to the point where I was getting exhausted and we all needed to get some rest after a long journey and before a heavy day ahead so I suggested putting her in the bed with us. Darling husband was not keen to start off with. After having had so many people say how dangerous it is to have baby in with you he was rather dubious about it but my gut was telling me it's ok and I decided to go with my instinct. I remembered reading about safety guidelines in an article somewhere so had a look online to refresh my memory.
Luckily we had a superking sized bed so there was tons of space, I placed Baby D in between me and her dad but quite a distance from both of us (the bed was high and not next to a wall on either side). It helped but Baby D continued to wake every few minutes. Eventually I pulled her close to me and sort of curled my body around her, her head next to my chest and we both slept soundly for a few hours. It was a revelation to me! I reverted to type and began reading more and more about cosleeping and found that there is a lot of scaremongering going on about it - I’ll write about that another day.
There are safe ways to do things. We use baby seats in cars, bathe our babies with complete supervision, follow TICKS guidelines when using slings. There are safe practices to follow when cosleeping too. 

Back at home Baby D outgrew the Bednest at 6 months but was still waking frequently at night for feeds so instead of putting her into the big cot we'd spent a lot of money on in her own room we decided to keep her in with us for a while longer and bought a secondhand space saver cot for £20. My other half customised it by taking the rails off on one side and adjusting the height of the mattress and sidecar'd the cot onto our bed. It worked exactly like the Bednest and again was brilliant...

...until she learned how to stand up and climb out/off and hit the floor like a sack of spuds. I've never felt like such a terrible mother. It was awful. Luckily there was no harm done, and freakishly lucky was the fact I'd chucked a spare pillow on the floor minutes earlier which she landed on.
But needless to say we needed to find a new solution.

In Baby D’s ‘bedroom’ in which she’s never slept the cot converts to a toddler bed. So, we got rid of our divan base of our bed and put the mattress on the floor then sidecar’d the cot which we’d converted to a toddler bed which made the two mattresses the same height. It’s that simple. She was and has remained a boob monster. I don’t fancy the idea of having to get out of bed to do night feeds, I don’t feel the need to night wean and we really like all being together. On an average night she wakes for two feeds and we all sleep very well, it’s pretty amazing. However when she’s teething or poorly we are up every 5 minutes! but at least I can stay in bed and cuddle, her, feed her and comfort her, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Baby D is now 18 months old and the next part of the plan is underway. We are buying a low bed frame (cheapy ikea) for our mattress and another one the same but a single version which we are going to bolt together to make a massive family bed. Watch this space!
Check out my post about our family bed here

Dawn x