It's my life, but not as I knew it!

Archive for February, 2014

Babywearing Alert: for your information

As a huge babywearing advocate, I will tell everyone and anyone to get themselves a sling and start wearing their baby as soon as they can. It is also important that people wear their baby as safely as possible too.

A recent babywearing tragedy has been reported to the Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT) by Dr Brierley, a consultant intensivist at Great Ormond Street Hospital. A baby was smothered whilst being carried in a ‘soft fabric bag-style baby sling’ around London by his mum (read the alert here).

The poor mum thought that she was doing her best at keeping her baby safe, and yet every parent’s worst nightmare happened to her. Of course, accidents happen each and every day. That is why we do our very best to try and prevent them happening. We secure our TVs to the wall, put stair guards on our doors and cover the sharp corners of all our furniture. If you, like me, still want to babywear then make sure you follow simple rules to make that as safe as you can.

Safety advice

The simple safety advice for wearing your baby in a sling is to make sure that it is tight, the adult can always see their baby’s face by simply glancing down, the adult can kiss their baby’s head by tipping their head forward and the baby should never be curled up so their chin is forced onto their chest, as this can restrict their breathing.

A very good rule of thumb for parents who use carriers is the TICKS mnemonic:

Tight
In view at all times
Close enough to kiss
Keep chin off the chest
Supported back

Remember there are many different types of sling available for you to use, we have used ring slings, Mai tais, buckle slings and woven wrap slings. If you are still worried, or feel you need extra help or advice then I strongly recommend you go to your local sling library and have a talk with one of their extremely qualified and experienced babywearing consultants who will be able to give you all the safety advice you need to feel comfortable.

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The Baby Show 6: Health Visitor 4 U

Every once in a while you’re doing something very normal, like visiting a baby show and you meet someone very special who becomes an important part of your life.

We visited The Baby and Toddler Show at Bluewater when the twinnies were very small. It was a big outing for us from Central London, but we thought that we might find something useful there so off we trekked.

One thing we were interested in was having a chat with a sleep expert, having never had any experience with twins we thought we’d see what she’s have to say. Unfortunately, the expert that the show had organised didn’t use up to date research, particularly when telling me that I should take their dummies off them at six weeks old:

FSID [now the Lullaby Trust] now recommends that a dummy be offered when settling the baby to sleep from one month to 6 months of age. If it falls out when the baby goes to sleep it should not be replaced, and if the dummy is refused it should not be forced on the infant. The dummy should never be coated with something sweet. Two studies have suggested that if an infant who is accustomed to dummy use is not given one on a particular occasion, the degree of protection may be less than during sleep periods when a dummy is given, so if a baby uses a dummy as part of his or her general routine it should be given for every sleep period.

This set my back up against her and I didn’t want to listen to her anymore. However, two stalls down from her was Health Visitor 4 U and the wonderful Penny, the vision behind it. Health Visitor 4 U provides a complete range of private health visiting and childrens’ sleep consultancy services from the very earliest stages of pregnancy to child care up to 7 years of age and Penny is so knowledgeable with decades of experience of working with children and families as a nurse, midwife and health visitor. We hadn’t even stopped to chat to her about anything in particular, she was just complementing us on the gorgeous twinkles and we got to talking.

Going to baby and toddler shows not only shows you products to buy, it introduces you to companies that offer services that you might not have known about until you walk past one of their stalls. The concept of Health Visitor 4U seems like such an obvious one when you think about it, it just required someone with the background and career that Penny has in order to give their clients the best possible service for their money. The bonus is Penny herself!

She helped me through some tough times and experiences, just by being there and someone to talk to. I couldn’t recommend her highly enough.

I didn’t receive any products or money to review Penny’s services, I just want to spread the word about her!

The Baby Show 5: Cheeky Rascals and The South London Sling Library

When I go to the Baby Show I am obviously drawn to those stalls with products of the babywearing variety. Some of them are not so great: promoting slings of the outward facing, crotch-dangling variety, despite all the research out there highlighting the dangers of them. Some of them offer good slings that will maintain the correct frog-like position of the legs but do not have the time, or the expertise, to properly assess what sling is the best for you and your family.
Then there’s Cheeky Rascals, a company offering a wide variety of baby, toddler and child related products. We met them when we were looking for our buckle slings and went on to buy our much loved Manducas. They talked to us for ages about what we wanted a sling for and allowed us to try them out with the twinnies.
Now they have gone a step further, not only do they also stock mai tais and ring slings (which I am absolutely desperate to get, just having to buy two of them for twins means more budgeting is required) but they also now contract the very lovely, knowledgable and experienced sling and babywearing consultant Emily, from South London Sling Library. This means that not only can you go along to their stall to try out the products that they have, but you can also get to have a chat with someone who really knows their stuff and can answer all your sling and babywearing questions.
The Cheeky Rascals’ stall is always a busy and popular one thanks not only to their fantastic products, but also their fabulous staff and customer service. It is definitely worth coming along to their stall if you find yourself at a baby show and I promise you will not be disappointed if you stop to have a chat with Emily if you have even the tiniest interest in babywearing. In fact, if you live anywhere near South London, then I would recommend going along to one of her sessions and trying out her slings and really seeing what would suit you and your needs best.

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Again, I have not received products or money in return for this review of Cheeky Rascals or South London Sling Library. Just little old me recommending good people, products and customer service.

The Baby Show 4: Cheeky Wipes

When I first walked past a stall advertising ‘reusable baby wipes’ I personally couldn’t see the appeal! But, again using the bonus of being at The Baby Show and being able go and speak to the people behind the idea, as well as see/feel the product they’re selling turned me into convert.

I met Helen at Cheeky Wipes and had a long chat to her about what cheeky wipes were, what their uses are and the benefits to the environment, the twins and to our wallets!
Cheeky Wipes are soft, cloth wipes which you store in a ‘fresh box’ with water and fresh essential oils until the time comes to use them on your little one. After cleaning up (and before you panic, you don’t have any more contact with the poop and even the messiest, stinkiest, grossest nappy will only need one wipe) you pop them in a ‘messy box’ inside a net with water and mucky essential oil until such a time that you will be doing a load of washing. Then take out the net and pop it in your washing machine with the rest of your laundry and you’re good to go (as they’re just for bottom cleaning, we don’t worry about what colour wash they go in with). For the twins, we got two sets of the cloth wipes so we could allow them to dry fully after their wash before using them again.

The essential oils that you use smell lovely (and they have a range of smells to choose from) and are so kind to little ones skin. Biscuit has super sensitive skin and is prone to nappy rash, we find that the cheeky wipes are really good for her. When she’s had lots of nappy changes using disposable baby wipes (e.g. at the childminders or her grandparents) her bottom quickly goes red and sore. A couple of days using Cheeky Wipes sorts her out though, back to her usual pink gorgeousness! This is because of all chemicals that are contained even in sensitive baby wipes (i.e. Parabens, Phenoxyethanol, Propylene Glycol, Tartaric Acid, Benzoic Acid, Butylene, Glycol, Ceteareth 12 and Citric Acid).

Not only do we love our Cheeky Wipes for their numerous nappy changes, we have also bought the weaning set that has lovely rainbow colour microfibre cloths, a fresh box and essential oils. No need for a mucky box with this set as they go straight into the washing machine to wait for your next load. We used to get through so many disposable wipes at each meal time for hands and faces, now we just keep the box on the table ready to go.
For out and about, there are double wet bags- one part for clean wipes and one part for you to put the mucky ones in until you get home. You can use these bags for nappy or face wipes.

Okay, now if any of you still need added convincing then think of all the money that you will save. The Cheeky Wipes website outlines these savings for you

What if we told you that using Cheeky cloth baby wipes could save you £250 – £500 in the first two years vs. using disposable wipes? Gulp!
£500. That’s right. Enough for a cheeky weekend away with your beloved…or a new pair of shoes…or a treat for the kids…
Using one pack of disposable baby wipes per week at £2.49 in the first two years of your lovely baby’s life comes to a staggering £258.96!
The Cheeky Wipes cloth baby wipes kit costs just £39.99!
And for mums with more than one cheeky monkey (or just a particularly messy one!) – who go through 2 or more disposable baby wipes packs per week, so you could be saving over £500!
Cheeky cloth baby wipes mean more cash in your pocket!

I am so glad I took that extra five minutes to go and find out more about these reusable baby wipes, hopefully you’ll be glad you’ve taken these last five minutes to learn about them too and see if they’d be good for you and yours.

I didn’t receive any money or products for writing this review, I am, however, a firm believer in using other mummy recommendations and I am recommending these wipes to you!

The Baby Show 3: Morrck

Every now and then you go somewhere like the baby show with a specific idea of what you want but no idea if anyone even makes it! A situation like this is what led me to the fab people of Morrck and their brilliant products.
I have made no secret on this blog about my love of babywearing and how useful babywearing-related products can be. When the twins were really little we could babywear them with a normal jacket or zip-up hoodie and it would do up over their backs, as they started getting bigger this started to be impossible but we struggled through. Then came a very blustery and chilly day in London and we decided to babywear and walk along South Bank. Rob had a baggy enough jumper on that Biscuit was zipped up nice and warm, but there was absolutely no way that my jacket would do up over Cracker. So I did what any parent would do and sacrificed my lovely warm jacket to him. I took it off and wrapped it round him, leaving my arms exposed and blue! That’s when I knew I wanted a babywearing jacket.
At the next show we went to, thankfully quite soon after that happened, I discovered that Morrck do a fantastic ‘Maternity and Beyond’ coat. This is a reversible blue/red waterproof coat that fits like a normal coat, but has removable zip-in panels that you can add and use either when you are pregnant or when you are babywearing. This means that it will last you from the moment you find out you’re pregnant with your first to when you stop babywearing your last (and beyond, I’m guessing it will come in useful at numerous sporting events etc), with no need to go back and get another coat for when you’re slim between babies or when you’re not wearing them. I wear mine ALL the time, whether I’m wearing one of them, pushing them in the buggy or popping out by myself. It is long enough to cover their toes (also to cover your bottom), has a hood for those particularly miserable days and adjustable elastics to make it more fitted when you are baby free! It is something that always gets admiring comments and is a very asked about product when I’m out and about.

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From the shows, we also found out all the other lovely products that Morrck make, from their car seat/buggy wraps to the beautiful toddler ‘Wrapture’ coats which I may have purchased yesterday in blue for Cracker and red for Biscuit!
Another bonus of the shows is being able to connect with the people you’re purchasing from, something lost when you buy online. We have visited Morrck over a number of shows now and they are some of the loveliest people. We always stop and chat and see what might be new on their stall or in development. We have been chatting lots recently to them about a babywearing coat for Dads to wear (as Rob normally has one or the other of them in his sling when we go) so watch this space…..
Oh, before I forget to mention to the twin mamas and daddas in the audience- this is a very twin friendly company. Isobel has twins of her own and offers a TAMBA member discount. They also have TAMBA as their chosen charity.

We have not received any money or products for writing this review. We met them at the Baby Show and love their products and amazing customer service and I wanted other families to get to know them too!

The Baby Show 2; The Bunk Cot Company

On my very first show, back when Biscuit and Cracker were in my tummy, I saw a product that appealed massively to me as a soon-to-be mama of twins. But please don’t let that out you off, this product is also perfect for people that have a toddler and a baby, or two different age toddlers, or a little one and another little one who isn’t yours but you look after a lot… It is a useful product. This company also has such an amazing show discount that after coming home from Excel and discussing it lots with Rob, I travelled up to the Birmingham show just to see them again and purchase it!

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The Bunk Cot does exactly what it says on the tin… It is a bunk bed, made of cots! It also converts into toddler bunk beds to last them until they’re six or seven, so this is a highly useful item of furniture that will see you through until they’re old enough for normal bunk beds when they are bigger and less likely to topple out.
As I said, for a mum of twins in a two bedroom flat, I thought this was perfect. It is the size of a toddler bed, much easier to squeeze into your home than two cots with enough space in between them that you can get to them. The top cot is the perfect height for post-section mums who can’t bend over far to put their little ones down (Biscuit and Cracker slept together in the top cot until they were about eight months old). It is a solid, well-made piece of furniture that comes in beech or white (you get the cot sides and the valance fronts and ladder for converting it, plus the mattresses) that will go with the rest of your nursery furniture.
Now, something to bear in mind… The bottom cot is right on the floor (they will just have wooden slats and the mattress between them and the carpet):
*If you have a very bad back or other mobility issues it might be difficult for you to put a little one down there, but if you have a toddler then they will be able to get in and out of bed easily and safely with the valance side on.
*If you, like me, have children the same age going to sleep in the cots, then the one on the bottom will be able to escape pretty easily (even with the cot sides on). We didn’t stress about this too much, just put a stair gate on the bedroom door and let him get on with it. He’s now either bored of that game, or actually a little too big to easily climb out so Cracker now stays in the bottom cot until we come in.
* If you have a very drafty property, then be aware at how low down your little one will be. Our flat is very warm with no drafts so it works fine for us.
Everyone I have mentioned or shown the Bunk Cot to is amazed by it. It appeals to many families and seems such a simple idea that no-one can believe it wasn’t thought of a long time ago! The twins love it, they now peek over and up/down at each other. Biscuit has also found a very effective method of getting more sleep- if Cracker is being too noisy then she throws her dummy down to him to shut him up, we often find him in the morning with both of their dummies!!
When they were little sharing the top cot:

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A more recent snap of sleepy twinkles:

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I would never have found this product if we hadn’t gone to the Baby Show.

I have not received any products or money for telling you about the Bunk Cot. I have written this review so that more people can learn about this fabulous product.

The Baby Show, part 1!

Firstly, sorry for the lack of radio contact recently. Biscuit and Cracker has started with the childminder in true toddler fashion- by catching every bug going and getting very poorly with bacterial tonsillitis needing antibiotics. Fingers crossed we are on the road to recover, and a stronger immune system!

Now, down to the real business of this post- The Baby Show. I would urge all parents-to-be and parents of babies and toddlers to go to these shows. I started off going to one with a friend when we were both pregnant and, yesterday, I went to my 8th (I think)!
I didn’t realise how useful they would be to me as a parent until that friend and I waddled off the DLR at Excel and saw the massive variety of products and companies around and available.
Of course, they are baby and toddler friendly. There are nappy changing areas (with free nappies and wipes available), closed Breastfeeding areas and feeding areas with access to highchairs and microwaves. They also have a free crèche available for either pre-booking or first come first serve, run by Tinies.
For all your baby shopping needs, you get big stores, like Mamas and Papas and Mothercare offering show discounts on a large number of their products, brands like Mam, Vital Baby and many others showing you what products they offer and selling you them at highly reduced prices and many other stalls for other things like cord blood banking, infant resuscitation with St John’s Ambulance (a very worthwhile skill to know) and family friendly holidays.
There are also lots, and lots, and lots of stalls showing a huge variety of buggies, pushchairs, travel systems and prams for you to browse, try out, take apart and put back together, and get advice and information on from the companies that make and sell them.
The big draw, for me, to these shows are the innovative products that you might not have seen or heard about from anywhere else. My mummy friends are always commenting that we have all these cool things that they didn’t even know existed, and how do I know about them? Well now you know my secret! I will have seen them at a show, often spent time having a chat with the owner/inventor and then getting them to use at home. Lots of mums/dads/grandparents etc are seeing a need when they look after their own little ones and creating products that will work in real life.
My next few blog posts will be about these very companies and products. Things that we have purchased because of baby shows and now couldn’t/wouldn’t live without and people that we have met every time and now are part of our baby community. I will introduce you to The Bunk Cot, Morrck, Cheeky Wipes, Cheeky Rascals, Emily from South London Sling Library and Penny from Health Visitor 4U to name a few.
So please come back and see us soon for these introductions!