What I learned from the first week of potty training

Hi! It’s been a while!

I took a bit of a break to deal with the stress of miscarriage, and the excitement (and strain) of being in the first trimester with baby number two!

For the last few weeks we’ve been potty training our daughter. It was a bit of a shock to us that she seemed to be ready a few days after her second birthday, but we followed her lead. She’d been following us to the loo for a while, and was very adamant that she wanted to use the ‘big potty’. So, we threw ourselves in off the deep end, purchased a seat that fits our toilet, and away we went. Here’s what I quickly learned.

  1. Just because they say they don’t need to go, doesn’t mean its true.

After a few days of absolutely no accidents, I found myself relaxing a little around our trips to the toilet. My daughter had been in such a good routine of saying ‘mummy, wee wee’ that I was beginning to trust that she knew when she wanted to go.

Wrong.

Just because she knew she needed to go, didn’t mean she would. I found that my little one was often so enraptured with whatever she was playing with at that time, that she’d try and convince me that she didn’t need to go so that she could carry on playing.

Lesson learned. Do not believe a two year old. It will result in wet underwear and a big old mess.

2. If you don’t take spare clothes out with you, its your funeral.

I’ve recently found that 3 is the magic number. One change of clothes in, and its an accident. 2 changes in and you’re obviously not paying attention to the fact that your little needs to go, they’ve been having a nap, or in my case, you have a stubborn daughter. 3 changes means it’s time to go home. We carry a wet bag with us for wet clothes, and any reusable nappy inserts we’ve had to use to soak up wee outside. The one day I forgot this was obviously the day that my daughter went through all 3 clothes changes.

3. Wiping a toddlers bum is nowhere near as easy as I thought it would be.

Why did I think it would be easy to wipe the bottom of a toddler that’s pretending to be a dinosaur?! To be honest I don’t have any more to say about this one. If you have any good suggestions, help me out and leave a comment and potentially save my sanity

4. A little praise goes a long way!

I’m not talking full on sticker chart, prize at the end of the day kind of praise. If you find that works for you, that’s great! We’ve found that a simple high five for number two’s in the toilet has worked best for us so far!

5. Remember that they’re only little

At the end of the day, we take for granted the fact that we interpret our bodily functions so easily. It must be so difficult to learn to use the toilet properly at the same time as learning to talk, and learning all about the world around them that must seem so big and wonderful. We’ve found so far that a little understanding goes a long way. We only use praise, if our daughter has an accident we tend to say ‘oh no! Let’s clean it up’ and leave that to be the end of the discussion. Positive reinforcement has definitely been the way forward for our family!

So far, we’ve been potty training for a week, and honestly I’m so amazed by how far my daughter has come in this time. I know that its not a long time to be nappy free, but I never expected to be buying tiny knickers for my just turned two year old!

How did potty training work for you?

I abandoned the mirror – and you should too.

9 months ago when I moved house, I did something that many would call drastic, or unnecessary. While decluttering and sorting through my possessions, I decided to get rid of my mirror.

Yes, that’s right, it’s gone. The only mirror left in the house now is a 20cm round mirror that I use to put make up on in the morning sometimes, and my husband uses it to do his hair. Honestly? I think getting rid of it is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for my mental health.

I’ve spoken before about my previous history with Anorexia, and how I’m trying to combat that now I have my daughter. I don’t feel that Anorexia is something that ever truly goes away – I’m much better now, but I think the way you perceive your body is forever altered after having an eating disorder. I’ve also written about my struggles with Gastroparesis. which can cause physical symptoms that can be difficult to deal with if you’ve got an eating disorder history, like early satiety, bloating, abdominal discomfort etc.

So, why did I do it?

Quite simply, it was doing more harm than good.

I noticed that the more time I spent per day looking in the mirror, the more unhappy I was with my appearance, and that had a knock on effect for the rest of the day. I noticed that I could spend a whole day in an outfit I was comfortable and confident in, but the second I looked in the mirror and saw something I didn’t like, I’d have to change. I noticed that ‘just a few seconds’ here and there could add up to time better spent somewhere else. I also noticed that the days I hadn’t looked in the mirror were the happiest.

I soon discovered I wasn’t alone. I spoke to a close friend about it who told me she had in the past spent lots of time looking in her mirror at all the things she hated about herself. It broke my heart to hear it, because I think she’s beautiful.

The more I thought about it, the more it ate me up inside. I remembered as a teenager seeing a friend look at her stomach in a mirror and tell me that she wished she could just cut it all off. She was just 13 years old. I don’t want that for my daughter.

Once I got rid of the mirror, I soon noticed a change. I spent more time during the day thinking about how I was feeling rather than how I looked. When my husband complimented my appearance, I began to genuinely believe him rather than tell him that he was just obligated to compliment me because we are married.

Soon after ditching my reflective friend, I had to go clothes shopping as a new medication change had caused me to lose more weight. I thought that stepping into a changing room would be a challenge because I hadn’t looked at myself in a full length mirror for a few months. If anything, the opposite was true. I found that I had a newfound appreciation and respect for the way my body looked.

9 months later, I think I probably have the best self esteem and the healthiest relationship with my body that I’ve ever experienced. I appreciate the things my body can do rather than the way it looks. At the end of the day, I know that God made me perfectly to be just the way I am.

I’m not a perfect person, but I’m learning to be perfectly ok with my body just the way it is.

If you’ve never had some ‘mirror free’ time, or you’re struggling with self image, self confidence, or you just feel uncomfortable in yourself, I’d highly recommend abandoning the mirror for a while. It helped me to appreciate the person I am before the body I’m in, and it could very well do the same for you!

Have you taken any big steps to better your mental health?

If you liked this you may enjoy reading…

Wonderful Women: Mum of three, ASD and Faith

This Wednesday we have a great feature from Caroline. She has three children, and has been a mum for the last 23 years, but has been caring for little people for a lot longer!

  • Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Hi, I am one of three children. I was born in 1960 – At the time you don’t think you are in an iconic decade! I went to Chichester to do my Teaching Degree. At that time I had no idea I was being equipped to raise my future children. I taught for 13.5 years before this privilege came to pass.

  • One of your sons is diagnosed with ASD. Can you tell us what the process of getting his diagnosis was like? Did you know much about ASD before he was diagnosed?

As a parent, you are very aware if there is anything not quite right with your child’s development. James was a very active child, with little concentration. Although he started to talk, he didn’t start with the classic words; Dad and Mum etc, but stared at bright things. His first word was “star.” He went from eating everything until he turned 2 years old, then became very fussy and certain foods made him hyperactive.

 He went to playgroups and nursery but he played how he wanted to. He found it difficult to do school type activities and wouldn’t draw or write anything until he was 5 years old. He loved energetic play. Once on a trampoline it was difficult to get him off. His fine motor skills were not so good. James didn’t sleep well he didn’t sleep through the night until he was 2 and a half. I asked for James to be seen by a professional on starting school. 

From his medical exam, anomalies were present and he went to the hospital for tests. They thought him too young to be given the label ‘autistic’. He also saw the Nutritionist at the hospital as he ate so little.

 His Special Needs Coordinator who came from London when J. was in Yr 3, verbally spoke of his behaviour being ASD. It was only when he refused to go to school in Yr 5 that the school paid more attention. James did not disrupt the class as his hyperactivity had become anxiety. He couldn’t cope any longer being in a school setting and was referred again to the Child Development Team by the school. Still nothing for another year. Even though we pushed, nothing happened until he was properly assessed before going to Secondary School.

 His test results were classic scores. His language scores were very low. He got a Statement of Education. Very frustrating! Six years waiting, but we were so pleased with his diagnosis. He wouldn’t manage without extra support. He had some specialist language tuition as well to try and catch up. Bullying was ongoing in some form and James was only safe if he didn’t go on the playground. 

From the age of 5 onwards I learnt everything I could about Autism. Watching programmes, You Tube videos, Autism charity pages etc. and being a teacher helped, as you learn a lot about child development.

  • Do you have any advice for families going through the diagnostic process?

Don’t give up! Keep pushing. See your GP. We went along the educational route and it took longer. In many ways you are teaching teachers about Autism because it isn’t always on the Teacher Training Syllabus and unless they have someone they know with it, they don’t know what to do.This May have changed now.

  • How are you helping your son transition from being a teenager to being an adult?

Liaising with the College. Each student is unique with their own needs. James has a Health and Education Plan with set things the College needs to put in place for him. Our role is making sure tutors know these. Exam support is vital as he has his exams in a room by himself or small group, with more time. James uses a computer or laptop. At home we make sure we give opportunities for him to express where he is having difficulty and how we can help with hygiene, eating properly, the importance of sleep, finishing college work on time and not handing it in late, the need for social input and relieving sensory issues. Etc. We also make sure we communicate any issues to the college immediately so J. Doesn’t become stressed.

  • Have you had to face any stigmas since your son was diagnosed with ASD? What were they and how do you respond?

Yes, we have been seen as over protective. People who don’t understand Autism would see you as doing too much for your child.

The alternative is to watch your child vegetate as they don’t want to do anything that they are not comfy with.Fear of going to school, fear of going out, fear of going to a friends party, fear of crowds and being fearful of loud noises – James’s sensory difficulties only exasperated these situations. James’s carefree hyperactivity turned into anxiety from the age of 8 years. Before that he was seen as naughty and unable to access and participate in the more academic areas of school. Only certain members of staff could settle him if he was upset.

I am very sensitive to the comments made by people. Having the diagnosis changed that. I went from a back foot position to making those around us aware of his difficulties and making sure he got what he needed from his teachers and support staff. I have always explained his difficulties but with the diagnosis you speak with more conviction and authority.

  • it can be challenging enough to care for someone with additional needs, but you’ve also spent time caring for your husband at the same time. What motivates you on a difficult day?

My faith motivates me on a challenging day! Love and forgiveness. Only God sees all you do when no one is around. He helps me daily to do what I need to do and gives me the wisdom to do it. This is true today too. This is not easy though, but perseverance and discipline of the mind is important.

Prayer is so important. Philipians 4 v5-7 continue to be with me daily.

Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:5-7 ESV

I just love being a mum. All aspects. When you do something you love for people you love you go the extra mile.

  • You work with an amazing group called TLG. Can you tell us what they’re all about and why you decided to get involved?

TLG stands for Transforming Lives for Good. It is a Christian Charity. My children are grown up now but the joy of working with children is still just as strong. This is a way to help a child and have the joy of helping them.

As a coach I get to support one child, once a week for one year. The child may have a difficult home situation or a difficulty in school. We come alongside the child and support them through it.

  • What are your favourite pastimes and hobbies?

My hobbies are jewellery making, crochet and various arts and crafts. I also love to sing and dance and do Pilates.

  • If you could give your younger self some advice, what would it be?

Take one day at a time. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Enjoy each day and focus on the good. Put your relationships first.

  • Is there anyone who inspires you that you’d like to nominate for our wonderful women feature?

I’d like to nominate my friend Diane. She is a wonderful mum to 6 children, she runs a children’s group for the church and has lots of students stay with her over the summer!

If you liked this you may enjoy reading…

Why I refuse to be ashamed about my miscarriage

Unfortunately, my husband and I experienced a miscarriage in May. If you’re close friends or family, this will probably not be news to you, but if you’re not, there you go.

When it first happened I felt totally lost. We told only the essential people, and spent lots of time giving our 18 month old daughter lots of extra cuddles and attention. However, when the time came that I felt I wanted to tell a few more people what had been happening in our lives, I was amazed by the amount of women who said ‘I’ve had one too’.

The one statement that I heard more than anything else was ‘it’s not something you just talk about’. Why is that? I was met with a few different responses

I was only 6/7/8 weeks. Not far enough to be too upset.

While I understand that the pain felt due to an early loss would be different to stillbirth, that’s not to say that experiencing pregnancy loss doesn’t hurt. At the end of the day, a life is still a life. From the moment a woman discovers she is pregnant, she starts to form an emotional connection with her baby. She has plans and dreams for them. It’s painful to lose that, and be totally out of control.

2. I don’t want to burden people with my problems.

I want to start by saying that pregnancy loss can be absolutely devastating. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by some incredible people during our difficult time, and anyone who knows me knows that I do not mince my words and I tell it how it is. I do this because I want my daughter to grow up and know that her feelings are VALID, she’s not a burden, and that she deserves to be listened to.

BUT I do understand that not everybody feels comfortable to do that.

However, telling people about your miscarriage or asking others for help does not make you a burden. It makes you BRAVE. The people that love you are happy to help, and it doesn’t make you any less of a person to need help with something that, at the end of the day, is a big deal. Telling people about your miscarriage helps dispel the idea that there’s something wrong with discussing it. It helps you feel less isolated and alone, and it helps reality set in.

My body was designed for one thing, and it failed.

Yes, your body was designed to reproduce, it’s true. But you know what it was also designed for? To run, climb, laugh, love, eat, sleep, play, sing – the list goes on. Yes, you are created to reproduce, but you’re also designed for SO much more. While it’s difficult, don’t reduce yourself to that one function.

1 in 4 pregnancies end in a miscarriage. It’s a scarily high figure, but it means you’re likely not alone. 1 in 4 means for every three children you see, a woman somewhere is mourning for theirs.

So, I refuse to be ashamed about my miscarriage. I won’t keep quiet about it or pretend it never happened. Instead, I choose to see it like this: my baby was never cold, or hungry, or scared. There was never a time in their short little life that they were not loved, and cared for and wanted. They will never have to know how it feels to be alone.

And that’s enough for me.

The 5 best one pot meals for busy parents

We all know the drill. Dinner time is approaching fast, the kids are being difficult, and there is a mountain of washing up in the kitchen. It happens to all of us.

Over time, our household has accumulated a list of one pot meals that we love. They’re quick and easy to prepare, they require minimal ingredients, and don’t take ages to cook. Our 17 month old loves them, and so does my husband and extended family. What’s more, they’re packed with healthy ingredients. Win win!

  1. Coconut Chickpea Vegan Curry

We love this one! It uses just 5 major ingredients, and some spices I guarantee you already have in your food cupboard. It took less than half an hour to make from start to finish, and was practically inhaled by my very picky toddler. It’s so creamy, and makes for perfect comfort food that you don’t have to feel bad about. It also does very well in the freezer, so its the ideal meal to batch cook and defrost later!

This recipe is by Jessica In The Kitchen. It’s not only vegan but gluten free (which is ideal if, like me, you have multiple family members with allergies. Jessica posts lots of recipes that are fit for those with allergies, so if you’re an allergy mum like me, you should check her out!

2. Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

Trust me, if you’ve got a child who’s a picky eater (or more than one!), you will love this recipe. The brilliant thing about fajitas is that you can so easily customise them! While this recipe calls for specific vegetables, we’ve used just about every vegetable we can think of, and our little monkey has gobbled it all up! This recipe uses vegan ingredients for the marinade, so you can make the fajitas vegan, vegetarian or full of meat. You can even use gluten free wraps if you have Celiac disease like me. We love sheet pan meals because you pop it all in the oven together and forget about it, which is brilliant if you have little people to keep an eye on!

This recipe comes from Show Me the Yummy.

3. Healthy Enchilada Pasta

Do your kids panic when they see anything green on their plate? Are they basically vegetable-phobic? In our household, anything with cheese is a winner, but anything that’s green gets left behind. This one pot enchilada pasta has the best of both worlds. It uses beans and pulses as the source of protein, so you know they’re getting healthy food, but to your little ones, it probably won’t feel like it. It’s also topped with a healthy portion of cheese, which in my experience will always make it attractive to little ones! Like the fajitas, we love this recipe because it’s so customisable!

This recipe comes from the wonderful Peas and Crayons

4. Chicken Chow Mein

Had a rough day and craving take-away, but need to feed the kids too? This one is for you. This chicken chow mein can be prepared and cooked from start to finish in half an hour. It uses spaghetti rather than fancy noodles, which you’re more than likely to find in your cupboard!

We use low sodium soy sauce and chicken stock when making this recipe as we are feeding our little one too, but if you’re making this solely for adults, feel free to omit this step!

In our experience, spaghetti is usually a winner in the toddler department, so we often have a spaghetti dish once a week. This recipe is great as it contains lots of veggies (but they’re covered in a flavourful sauce, so your little might not mind that much!).

This recipe hails from The Recipe Rebel

5. Italian Chicken and Vegetables

We LOVE Italian food. I love it even more when my daughter eats her vegetables! This recipe is super easy, super simple and very customisable. I love that it only takes twenty/thirty minutes; it’s the perfect food for your ‘oh my goodness, how is it nearly dinner time?’ moments.

This dish is also ideal for those nights when you desperately want something light to eat! As much as I love pasta (and often call my daughter the carb queen) I want her to learn that meals without it can be tasty too!

This recipe does call for 2 tbsp white wine OR stock. We use stock and have found it to be just as tasty! Find this recipe at Sweet C’s.

Do you love a good one pot meal? Have you got any great ideas that we missed? Let us know in the comments.

How to save your child’s life

Before I begin, if your child is in an emergency situation, call 999/911 immediately.

I don’t know about you, but my worst nightmare is to realise that my daughter is choking. Thankfully so far we haven’t experienced it, but I’m definitely on my guard. All. The. Time. In the last 16 months, I’ve spoken to our GP, paediatrician, Health Visitor and several nurses about what I should do if she starts to choke.

Here’s the lo-down on choking, and how to resuscitate a child.

What to do if your child is choking

  1. If you can see the object in the child’s mouth and you can safely remove it without pushing it back into the airway, you should remove it with your fingertips.
  2. If your child is coughing loudly, encourage them to continue to do so and do not leave them alone.
  3. If the coughing makes no sound or they cannot breathe in properly, shout for help
  4. If your child is not coughing or coughing ineffectively, use back blows.

If, during the following procedure your child becomes unconscious, place them on a hard surface, shout for help, call 999/911, and start CPR.

Children over 1 year

  1. Give up to 5 back blows between the shoulder blades to try and dislodge the object. The force depends on the size of the child, and you should take your own strength into consideration, but the blows do need to be forceful enough to dislodge the blockage.
  2. If this has not worked, deliver up to 5 abdominal thrusts. Place your arms around your child from behind, with your arms under their arms. place one clenched fist above the navel and below the ribs. Grip this hand with your other hand. Pull towards you and upwards sharply. Be careful not to put pressure on the ribs.
  3. Call 999 if the blockage has not dislodged. Continue with the cycle of back blows and abdominal thrusts until the blockage is cleared, or help arrives.
  4. Even if the blockage is cleared, your child should still be evaluated by a medical professional, as it could have caused unseen damage.

Children under 1 year

  1. Give up to 5 back blows. Hold baby face down on your thigh, with their head lower than their bottom. Hit firmly between the shoulder blades up to 5 times.
  2. Deliver up to 5 chest thrusts. Using two fingers, push downwards in the middle of the chest just below the nipples.
  3. Call 999 if the blockage has not dislodged.

How to perform CPR on a child

  1. Check for normal breathing. Place your fingers under the chin and tilt the head back. Place your ear close above their mouth, and look down at their chest. If they are breathing, you will feel the breath on your ear or see the chest rise. Gasps do not count as normal breathing.
  2. If you haven’t already called for emergency services, do so now.
  3. If your child is breathing, put them in the recovery position and monitor closely.
  4. If your child is not breathing and is unresponsive, it’s time to deliver 5 rescue breaths. If your baby is under 1 year, cover their nose and mouth with your mouth. If you are unable to cover both, cover the mouth and close the nose with your fingers. If your child is over 1 year old, cover the mouth with yours, and seal their nose with your fingers.
  5. Blow steadily into the mouth and/or nose over one second. You should see the chest rise. While the head is tilted back, remove your mouth and watch as the chest falls. Repeat this four more times.
  6. In this case of choking, the airway is most likely obstructed. You should try 5 times to make the chest visibly rise. If you’re unable to, start chest compressions and return to rescue breaths.
  7. Give 30 chest compressions. This keeps the heart beating blood around the body, which keeps the brain and vital organs alive.
  8. Give two rescue breaths.
  9. Continue this cycle until help arrives, there are signs of life, or you can no longer physically continue.

Chest compression information

  • Fingers/hands should be placed one fingers width above where the bottom ribs join. This is the breastbone.
  • The chest should be compressed at a rate of 100-120 beats per minute. You might find it easier to remember by singing ‘Stayin’ Alive’ by the BeeGees – just make sure that your compressions are deep enough.

Chest compressions for a child under 1

  • Compressions should be performed with the heel of 1 hand, to a depth of 5cm. Do not apply pressure across the ribs – lift your fingers and solely use the heel of the hand.
  • Keep your arms straight. You may find it easier to use two hands with fingers interlocked.

Chest compressions for a child over 1

  • Compressions should be performed with two fingers to a depth of 4cm.

With any luck, you’ll never have to perform CPR on your child, or to help them when they’re choking, but unfortunately it happens all the time. In our household, we believe it’s better to be prepared than stunned when it happens. In the spirit of that sentiment, here’s a nifty trick I learnt recently.

If your little one is struggling to breathe because they’ve put lego/something else thats tiny up their nose, here’s what you should do. Pinch the other nostril shut, and blow really hard and sharply into their mouth. The lego should fly right out!

And that’s it! Did you know how to give CPR? Do you have experience giving CPR or are you a total CPR novice? Let us know!

My daughter will be seen AND heard

I was recently trying to enjoy a nice lunch out with my husband and our daughter. What started as a lovely meal ended with me fuming, with my husband trying to calm me down.

Here’s why.

Here is my gorgeous lady. She’s a happy little soul, she’s usually pretty chilled, but she knows what she wants and how to get it. Know why? Because she’s a good communicator. She uses a mix of Makaton (baby sign), words and gestures to convey her wants and interests. She doesn’t shout very much as my husband and I are both at home with her, so she gets plenty of attention as soon as she needs. I’m confident in her communicative abilities, as are most people we meet. Until that fateful lunch date.

While we were waiting for our food, we noticed our daughter smiling and nodding at someone behind us. This isn’t too unusual, she tries to make friends with everyone she meets (including a few shop manikins). The vast majority of people make a few faces to her, give her a little wave, and then leave us alone. But not this time.

The first sign should have been when the man she had been smiling at came over to us to congratulate us on how cute our ‘son’ was. Never mind the fact that she was very obviously wearing a dress, and I’m sure half the restaurant had heard us saying ‘yes, good girl!’ when she had managed to sign the word ‘bird’ for the first time just minutes previously.

Funnily enough, I’m getting used to people mistaking her for a boy. It’s an easy mistake, her hair is only just starting to grow longer, but I usually politely correct, and there is no further issue. But for some reason, the fact that she was a GIRL meant that we had a further issue. Here’s how the conversation went:

ME: Oh, she’s actually a girl, but thank you. We think she’s very cute!

HIM: A girl?! Well you’ve done a fabulous job there then!

ME: What do you mean?

HIM: well, she’s barely saying a word! That means you’ve raised her right!

ME: Sorry? (half confused, half hoping this isn’t going where I think it’s going!)

HIM: All the girls nowadays are so loud! They’re talking all the time, making so much noise, having an opinion on everything. Not like the good old days, don’t you think?

ME: No, I’m afraid I don’t agree, and I doubt my husband would either. I’m sure your mother would be thrilled to know you think all women should be seen and not heard.

HIM: (smiling awkwardly and going a beautiful shade of white). Congratulations. (While walking away he forcefully pats my shoulder in some weird form of congratulations for having a quiet baby? And dislocates my shoulder due to my EDS.

I know what you’re thinking. That sounds scripted! Nobody would approach a stranger to say something like that! Well I promise you, it happened, and I was fuming. And you guessed it, I’ve got more than one issue with this encounter.

The phrase ‘seen and not heard’ originates from the 15th Century, so there’s no ‘I’m from another generation’ excuse for starters. Unless you’re 600+ years old, there’s no way you can get away with using that excuse.

Secondly, this mentality doesn’t just expect young children (or in this case, women) to be quiet, it denies them a voice completely. Why should she (or I) be expected to be quiet simply due to gender? For starters, to deny her a voice would be to deny her her freedom, the ability to share her ideas and creativity, and it reinforces the idea that she is only worthwhile when a man gives her permission to be. And I am NOT going to reinforce that.

IMAGINE praising a child for not speaking (or not being able to). Not everyone would agree with me, but I believe the only time a child should not be allowed to talk is….never. Children are naturally curious beings, how are they supposed to grow and develop if they can’t express their questions and frustrations?

So, I’m raising my daughter to be noisy. I’m raising her to express herself however she chooses, to be loving and creative and happy and free.

You know why? Because well-behaved women seldom make history.

Have you encountered a similar mindset? How did you react?

If you liked this you may enjoy reading…

How (and why) to get rid of the dummy

My daughter is 15 months old, and has used a dummy for the majority of her little life. Recently, my husband and I decided enough was enough. The dummy had to go! Here’s why.

This is my little one at bed time. What you can’t see from this photo is that she was late to bed because we couldn’t find the dummy anywhere. Nearly 2 hours late. Her reliance on the dummy to get to sleep had got to a point that just felt ridiculous. She was usually a good sleeper (with the dummy, of course). I know that lots of little ones sleep with teddies etc and they are used for comfort, but if you read my previous posts on household plastic usage , you’ll know that we try to keep our usage to a minimum, so I was anxious to find a way to get her to sleep without a piece of plastic in her mouth! We also had issues with night waking (think four or five times a night of waking up because the dummy wasn’t right in front of her face).

Our reasons for getting rid of it were a little more than that, too. We recently discovered that long term dummy usage can affect the muscles of the mouth, which can cause the tongue to sit forward between the teeth and affect their position. This could potentially cause speech issues. Experts recommend limiting dummy usage by age 2 and eliminating it completely by the age of 4 to minimise risk of dental issues.

There is also an interesting study conducted by the University of Washington which proposes that using a dummy for too long can increase the risk of speech disorders. Little ones who use a dummy or suck on their fingers after age 3 were found to be three times more likely to have speech problems. This study is 10 years old, but still, food for thought.

Given this, and the fact that my monkey is trying to say new words every day, we decided to bite the bullet and kick the dummy to the curb.

How to get rid of the dummy

There is no right way to get rid of the dummy. What works for one family might not work for another. Here’s what the experts say:

It’s important to remember that most little people use the dummy as a source of comfort. Don’t try to remove the dummy while going through large, unsettling life events like having another baby, moving house etc.

As a newborn, little ones will use the dummy to self settle. However at 4/5 months, sleep patterns can change and so this could be a good time to get rid.

The best thing to do is to begin to limit dummy use to ONLY bed times. We started by letting our daughter use the dummy in the pram for nap time and in her bed for sleep. She lunged for it for a while in the day time if she saw it and it wasn’t time to sleep, but she soon got the message.

Another popular idea is to cut a hole in the tip of the dummy. Once the dummy is broken, many toddlers lose the urge to use the dummy as it can’t be sucked on anymore and is no longer satisfying.

You can also try and swap the dummy for another comfort object like a favourite soft toy or blanket. Lots of parents like to tell their kids things like ‘Santa’ or the ‘Easter Bunny’ needs their dummy, but we decided before our daughter was born that we wouldn’t intentionally lie to her over things like that, so that option was out for us.

If your little one is old enough to communicate effectively, try explaining that they are big enough now to not need the dummy to sleep. Dummies are for babies. This will make lots of toddlers indignant as they are a big girl/boy, and suddenly the dummy becomes much less appealing.

OR you can do what we did. We ‘accidentally on purpose’ left the dummy at Nona’s house in another town, so that we couldn’t give in and give the dummy back on a bad night. The most important thing you can do when giving up the dummy is to stay strong and not give in. The initial few nights could be a bit hairy, but will probably settle down soon after.

And that’s it! There are so many different (and imaginative) ways I’ve read on how to get rid of the dummy, but honestly what worked for us was just to bite the bullet, pull ourselves together and just get rid of the nasty thing.

Have you successfully weaned a little person off a dummy? Are you having trouble? Let us know!

The signs of Sepsis you NEED to know about

I recently had a very scary experience. I had a chest infection, but suddenly I couldn’t breathe. I’m asthmatic, so I’m used to some difficulties, but this was different; it was like I was fighting for every breath. I had a high fever and was deathly pale. I was taken to hospital in an ambulance, where they did their observations and realised my temperature had gone up another degree in the 15 minutes it had taken to get to the hospital. My heart rate was 135 bpm, I was shivering like crazy and I just felt like I wanted to sleep. I was immediately diagnosed with suspected sepsis and put on IV antibiotics.

Thankfully after hours and hours my temperature and vital signs were normal enough for me to be allowed home with antibiotics and steroids, and instructions to check in with my GP every few days for the next week.

Sepsis is a serious complication of an infection.

Sepsis in children under 5

Call 999/911 IMMEDIATELY if you notice any of these symptoms in your child

  • Has a convulsion or fit
  • Is difficult to wake or lethargic
  • Looks mottled or blue
  • Feels abnormally cold
  • Is breathing very fast
  • Has a rash that does not fade when pressed

You should get medical advice straight away if you notice any of these symptoms

Sepsis in older children and adults

You may also notice

  • High fever or low body temperature
  • Fast heart rate
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Nausea and vomiting

It’s important to act quickly if you’ve got an infection and think you or someone else may have Sepsis. Sepsis can lead to multiple organ failure and death if not treated quickly.

Treatment and recovery

In the UK, hospitals use the ‘sepsis 6’. This means

  1. Antibiotics, either through an IV or tablets at home if the infection is caught early enough
  2. Oxygen if your oxygen saturation levels are low
  3. Giving IV fluids
  4. Look at your urine to check your kidneys are working
  5. Take a blood sample to see how severe the sepsis is
  6. Take a blood culture to find out which bacteria is causing the sepsis

Some people recover very quickly from sepsis, but it does depend on the person’s overall health, the severity of the infection, and how much time was needed in the hospital (including the ICU). People with severe sepsis or septic shock often require admission to the ICU, and are likely to be very ill. In this case the condition can be fatal.

The main takeaway from this is that Sepsis is a serious medical condition, but if caught early enough, most people recover with no lasting issues.

Do you know the symptoms of Sepsis?

Sources used – NHS Scotland , Sepsis Trust

What is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)?

It is only natural to worry about the safety of your beautiful new baby, and to do everything you can to keep them safe. I’ve written before about struggling with anxiety during pregnancy, but when I read about SIDS, my anxiety was definitely kicked up a gear in the first few weeks after having delivered my daughter. I’m very medically minded and wanted to be armed with all the facts, but honestly, my friends will tell you that I’m not very good at dealing with things that are out of my control!

So, if you’re like me and want to know everything (to be prepared, obviously), here’s the low-down on SIDS.

SIDS used to be referred to as ‘Cot Death’, however this name was abandoned as it carried to connotations that babies would only die in their cots, and were safe everywhere else. SIDS usually occurs when a baby is sleeping, though can sometimes happen when the infant is awake.

SIDS is the unexplained and unexpected death of an infant who otherwise appears to be normal and healthy.

In the USA, around 3000 babies die from SIDS a year, In the UK around 200 babies die due to SIDS. While this may sound terrifying, the statistics mean that SIDS is quite rare (in 2017 there were 679,106 live births in the UK, and 3,853,472 in the USA).

Causes

The exact cause of SIDS is currently unknown, which I found the most troublesome thing when my monkey was young. There is always research being undertaken to try and determine the cause, such as the Lullaby Trust ,who have been funding research since 1971.

It has been proposed that SIDS occurs at a particular developmental stage, and most affects infants who are vulnerable to particular stresses. Important environmental factors to remember are smoke from tobacco, baby having an illness (however small), becoming tangled in their bedding, or being unable to breathe due to an airway obstruction. It is thought that these stresses can change how babies regulate their blood pressure, temperature and heart rate.

There is also an association between SIDS and co-sleeping.

Risk factors

Because not much is known about SIDS, it is difficult to say what puts a baby at more risk. However it is apparent that babies born prematurely or at a low birth weight are more susceptible. There is also a slightly higher occurrence in baby boys than baby girls.

Prevention

Unfortunately, SIDS can’t be completely prevented. However, a big part of tackling this issue is practicing safe sleep for your baby. Here are some key things to remember

  • Always put your baby to sleep on their back. Babies put to sleep on their stomach or sides are more at risk of choking, and young infants cannot turn themselves back over. Once your child is able to roll themselves, you do not need to worry.
  • Always put your baby to sleep in the feet to foot position. Place your baby in their cot or moses basket with their feet touching the end. This means that baby is unable to slip down under any blankets in their sleeping environment, and is less likely to have their face covered. This applies to all sleeping environments in which you are not holding them, i.e. a cot, moses basket or pram. Don’t let your baby sleep in a car seat, swing or stroller for a long period of time.
  • Keep baby’s sleeping environment clear. Don’t use cot bumpers, pillows, quilts or soft toys in baby’s bed.
  • Stop smoking. Do not smoke while pregnant or after baby is born, and do not allow anyone to smoke near yourself or your child. Research shows that 60% of SIDS deaths could have been prevented if the baby was not exposed to smoke.
  • Sleep in the same room as baby for the first 6 months to halve the chances of SIDS
  • Don’t let baby get too hot or too cold. Feel baby’s temperature by touching the stomach or back (don’t use their hands as a measure for their temperature as they are often cooler than the body). If baby is sweating or her stomach is very warm, remove a layer of blanket from them. The best sleeping temperature for a baby is 16-20 C.
  • Do not Co-Sleep if you or your partner has taken drugs, smoked or been drinking alcohol
  • Never sleep on a sofa or armchair with your baby.
  • Breastfeed as long as you can, or consider using a dummy (pacifier). This is a tricky one. Breastfeeding is thought to provide protection from infections which could raise a baby’s SIDS chances. I wasn’t able to breastfeed my daughter (cue mum guilt) so I settled for a dummy instead, which came in handy when my daughter had her surgery. Research shows that using a pacifier can reduce the risk of SIDS, though researchers are unsure why. So, if you’re feeling worried like I was, it could be worth a shot.

While this seems like a lot of overwhelming information, the best thing a parent can do is follow safe sleep advice, and try and enjoy the time with their new baby. If you have any concerns, speak to your GP or paediatrician right away.

In Emergencies

If you notice any of the following signs, call 999 / 911 immediately.

  • If your baby is struggling for breath
  • If your baby stops breathing or turns blue
  • If your baby is unconscious or seems unaware of what is going on around them
  • If your baby won’t wake up
  • If your baby has a seizure for the first time, even if they seem to fully recover.