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Monday, 29 November 2010

My little weaning friend, two must haves to make weaning EASIER!

Getting children to move from milk to solids can, for many people, be harrowing, scary and just another one of those "baby hurdles" that you'd really rather not face, particularly with the first child as it's uncharted territory. Fear not though, as help is at hand in the form of modern technology, the written word and some advice passed on from wise old birds.

It is very important to remember that ALL babies are ready for weaning at VERY different times, and just because mother nature at Monkey Music started weaning her child "with no problems whatsoever at four months", this does not mean that you need to do the same. The government recommend that you feed your child nothing but breast milk until they are 6 months old, but you can wean from 4 months. One of the biggest worries with early weaning however is that you might feed your child something that its immune system cannot handle the younger it is and then allergies can become a problem. I, however, am not a Dr or a Health Visitor and should you have ANY concerns these are most certainly your first ports of call. On the up side though, your child will let you know. Milk won't satisfy them for as long as it used to, if they are around you when you eat they will follow what you are doing intently and perhaps mimic your opening and closing mouth as you eat. If, in a routine, they might start waking at night for no particular reason as they are hungry etc. The time has come, baby wants solids.

Another thing to remember, babies are not born with prejudices for food. They are TOTALLY unaware that brussell sprouts taste like the devil and they will be forced (at some point in their lives) to eat at least one every year at Christmas. They are unaware that broccoli is delicious or that without peas most of the population would be stuck with very little vegetable matter. In short, you have carte blanche here to set them up until the time that they can make their own culinary choices. Be adventurous, feed them well and feed them panoramically and kaleidoscopically. The wider the selection you give them to start with the easier meal times will be in the future and the less of a quandary you will face when constructing your daily menus.

Anything you can read about this before you start is great, and this is where my first recommendation comes in. My bible before and during this period with my girls was Topsy Fogg and Janice Fisher's Truuuly Scrumptious book of organic baby puree. Not entirely sure about the name, but that doesn't affect the weaning of children, it is the content. There are tables on when and how to do it. Information that is simple and "truuuly" helpful and better still recipes that are quick, easy, delicious and, towards the end, recipes that you can feed the whole family. What more can you ask for.

My second recommendation comes in the form of the Babycook from Beaba. This is an electrical item that I don't think I could have survived without. It steams and it blends, which is really all you need at this time and best of all you only need one machine to do this with, so washing up is limited and mess is minimal. I jest not, I literally love this machine and still use it now to do vegetables or fruit puree for the girls and they are nearly 3 and 18 months. I keep thinking I should pass it on, but the moment I think that I get jealous of the person I should pass it on to, so I have to keep it. This, people, is the thing that you won't be able to live without you'll love it as much as I do, although sometimes I imagine that is probably quite hard to conceive. 

There you have it, the keys to success, and as the wise old bird once told me "don't panic, there's always tomorrow and your baby will have no qualms about starting again, the only person with worries about this is you". That sort of made it easier and I hope it does for you, good luck, although after all of this, I can tell you you won't need it.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

A good night's sleep.

I had my first child without literal, or indeed figurative, knowledge of children, they just happened to be peoples, other people's. Children then were things, babies were sweet but fear mongers, if I hold it, it's going to cry and I'm scared of that, fear mongers! Children were lovely until they wanted you when you didn't want to be wanted, like when you were doing something that interested you and they wanted you to play some inane something or other, or dress you up and put make up over every bit of exposed flesh, or get you to chase them or whatever it was when frankly, I was happy talking or sitting or being. I was too young to do anything like look after my younger sister when she was a baby and no one I know had children before I did, so I really had no need to know anything about babies. So yes, absolutely not the first clue as to what to do with one, not even a snow flake in hell's chance that, knowing what I know now, I would have opted for the role of mother in anything other than in the context of serving tea. The thing, I think, that saved me from the mania that is babies was routine.


My first child was born early. She screamed for about 5 months (which, at 5 months and 4 different doctors consultations later, we learnt was reflux) and she probably slept for about 3 hours of that. I knew nothing, she woke, what seemed like every other minute, I fed her and changed her and simply hoped for the best. At 8 weeks, I spoke to a friend of mine who was about 8 weeks behind me with having her first and she, after 2 weeks, sensibly, had got "someone" in who'd sorted her out. "Give me her number."

Long and short, she gave me the routine, the woman, not the friend...

bottle 7am
bed 7.30-10am
bottle 10.15 am
bed 12.45-3.45pm
bottle 4pm
bath 5.30
bottle 5.45
bed 6pm

Something like that, although this is a very loose translation of what I did and professionals should be consulted if you want to follow a proper routine. Gina Ford is often used and equally often maligned.

I don't know if I've mentioned this, but I knew nothing about children and the routine helped me to get some perspective as well as some "adult" time. I was psychotic about it with my first baby and then learnt with the second that children, rather like adults funnily enough, don't spontaneously combust if everything doesn't happen right at the second that it should. If they get their bottle 15 minutes later than normal, they aren't going to die and if they get 30 mins less sleep than usual, they don't immediately call childline or demand social services come round and see the injustice they suffer at the hand of their time frivolous parents.

I have friends who don't have a routine and they seem to do very well, I also have friends who have a routine that suits them and that's also fine, I also know people who are still just as psychotic about time keeping as I was and that works for them. I think it's about how much you can take. I couldn't take a minute more of sleepless nights, even waking once was too much for me and the routine that I was given, meant that at 8 weeks with my first baby and 4 weeks with the second, I didn't get woken up until about 6.30 / 7 in the morning having put the baby to sleep at 6.30 / 7 the night before.

If you, like I was, are struggling with a new baby and want to know how to have an undisturbed nights sleep, then can I suggest that routine and structure are the key to that deep and restful bed place. As my mother told me, and I in turn shall tell my children, everything looks better after a good night's sleep.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Who is this mother?

It is important to me that, before I do anything, I explain a little about what it is I am trying to achieve. I do not see this an opportunity for another parent to rhapsodise about her celebrated offspring who "actually walked out of my womb and slept through the night before they were born!" Or, conversely, an opportunity for yet another whinging character to limp on about the "five minutes sleep I had last night makes the no time I have to myself so impossible for me to iron the curtains and cook the thousands of people, who really don't give a sh!t, ridiculous baked goods so that I can look like I have it all perfectly under control." NO,NO, NO, this is just me, voicing my thoughts in the hope that maybe one other person (maybe even two, I'm not into thinking big) might empathise/despise and share their musings with me, just so as to pass the motherly, or fatherly, time of day.

My first port of call, Phil and Ted's double buggies (of which I have the Dash!)

Firstly, heartfelt congratulations to both Phil and Ted, they saw a gap in the market and they filled it. Let's be honest, we'd all love a gap in the market, that we can fill, to fall into our lap, but until it happens, it's a lot harder to do than it sounds. So again, well done Phil and Ted.

Secondly, this "rugged and reliable pushchair" has to be the bane of my sorry existence. You need a house to house it in, even if it's folded down. When it is folded down you need the strength of at least ten bears to lift it and that's without children in it. How do you get it up steps and into shops without pulling your arms out of their sockets, knocking your knees on either your babies head or the back of the second seat or removing your children before going up the steps? should you want to get it in and out of the car on any occasion, just how much straining, cursing and swearing is acceptable when looking after two young children? Should you have a car, do you need a new one if you want to take the pram with you on a journey or is it alright to leave the children behind and fill the boot and the back seats just with this "rugged and reliable" beast? How many flat tyres, inner tubes, punctures, call it what you will, have you had to repair since owning your pushchair? How many people have you had to ram on the bus to get your "rugged and reliable pushchair" into the buggy/wheelchair park section of the bus? Have you ever taken it on a train? Where do you put it? When you go shopping, something that I know we all avoid doing with two small children, but, if buying more than a piece of dust and a feather, where do you put the rest of it? For how long do you keep pushing the pushchair in the wrong direction until the front wheel finally realises that you don't want to go down the pavement and into the middle of the road and actually sorts itself out to go in the correct/requested direction? Is it silly of me to give my children snacks in the pram and then not worry about mess because... oh no, you can't put the covers in the washing machine? But don't worry, because you can wash the cover on the handle bar, the liver shaped strap padding as well as the seat cover (that only covers the bit that the children sit on). Everything else is just a simple matter of wiping down because dirt and muck in Phil and Ted's "rugged and reliable pushchair" world just doesn't stain or look revolting. If you have theoklm brake on you only have to mildly concuss your child on the handle bar in order to get it in or out of the back of the pram. I could go on, but it just gets ridiculous.

Thirdly, looks good though!