You’re doing a great job.
I wrote a few months ago about how much my family was struggling with the lack of progress with potty training in “When Potty Training Doesn’t Go to Plan”.
It all fell into place very suddenly when my darling boy decided that he would go butt naked out into the garden (which backs onto a road) and stand at the gate and talk to ALL THE NEIGHBOURS. Now, I’m not particularly prudish but there are 47 houses that can see into my garden (yes, I counted) and I only know 3 of them. So naturally, I grabbed the first thing to hand to cover him up a little and on went the big boy pants.
I fully expected them to be soaked within minutes or poo’d in fairly soon but it didn’t happen… at all.
He has been dry in the day since that moment.
Ah, this is one question that possibly all new parents consider at least once! In fact, I’m considering it right now as my daughter screams her head off, refusing to go to sleep, and she’s nearly 2! However, when you’re a first-time mum, there’s a lot of overwhelming information about why you shouldn’t give babies dummies, or how long they should have them for, etc. etc.
So, here is the story of how my daughter came to have a dummy, and how she came to stop using it!
8.5 hour labour.
Breastfeeding ALLLLLLLL night.
Screaming ALLLLLLLLLL night.
Luckily enough we were the only family on the ward at the time, but my god was I so exhausted. The following morning, the midwife did her rounds and asked how we were.
“Why won’t she sleep?” I said, “isn’t she supposed to be tired, too?”
She sort of smirked at me, and while you may appreciate that it was a bit of a daft question, my baby had literally not slept a wink that day/night. My NCT classes had equipped me with the information that labour and birth would be equally as hard and sometimes traumatic for the baby as it is for us, so they should be doing a lot of sleeping in those first 48 hours.
I told the midwife that Olivia had been latching on and off all night and then she said the words that would change everything for me and my baby.
“She’s too sucky, she needs a dummy.”
I was confused. I’d heard all about teat confusion and asked her if it would cause problems with me breastfeeding. She said no, and repeated that my baby was too sucky and needed one. Exhausted and acting on the advice of a professional, my partner Jamie went down to the hospital shop to find one, which she wouldn’t take. I remember feeling relieved. I never wanted to use a dummy for her. In my mind it meant that she’d have it for years and that she’d end up as a toddler with a speech impediment and still using a dummy. Of course, that was completely irrational, but I wanted to avoid them as a matter of personal preference.
We were allowed to go home, and amongst the many gifts we had been given were some tommee tippee dummies.
Amid more screaming and constant breastfeeding during the night, and a baby who wanted to constantly not only be on me but be latched onto me ALL. NIGHT. LONG…
(Again, I know you’re reading this thinking “well what did you expect, you stupid cow?” The truth is, I have no bloody idea what I expected. It was my first time in that situation. I didn’t read any books or blogs or prepare myself in any way other than going to NCT classes, especially having been told that parenting books were a waste of time. So what I expected was nothing. I knew absolutely nothing.)
We tried again with the dummy, and eventually after a few nights she began to settle with it and took it quite well. Breastfeeding was going well, and she was gaining weight well too. There were no issues with teat confusion at all and everything seemed perfectly fine.
Her weight began to drop very steadily with no reason at all. She had a little bit of reflux but no other signs that she wasn’t taking enough milk. I was expressing regularly as well as giving her regular feeds. Teat confusion still wasn’t a problem at all – we were able to alternate very easily between tommy tippee bottles, avent bottles, dummy and breast. I remember feeling incredibly lucky compared with other mums I knew whose babies were very fussy with teats. We had a very good eating and sleeping routine and seemed to have found our little groove together.
I was told to go to a local breastfeeding group, where the lactation consultant told me my latch was wrong, and, oh yes, attacked me for giving my baby a dummy.
The very fact that Olivia had a dummy meant that the real problem went unnoticed for a further 3 weeks.
This is the reason why, with hindsight, I wish I had stuck to my guns and never given her one in the first place.
Olivia was diagnosed with a tongue tie, and finally referred to a specialist tongue tie clinic in London. This was also the last week that I was able to exclusively breastfeed my baby girl, and I had to introduce formula. Up until that point, her tongue tie hadn’t stopped her from breastfeeding, even though it was an anterior tongue tie and she couldn’t move her tongue from side to side! If you want to know more about breastfeeding a baby with tongue tie, click here.
I was sobbing in Tesco, putting the Cow & Gate through the checkout. I know how stupid that seems. It’s made no difference to her development whatsoever – she’s still as clever as she always would have been, but it’s just so devastating that it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to. I wanted her to get her nourishment from me, not an artificial replacement of me… But she had plummeted from the 75th percentile to the 0.9th, so what other choice did I have?
Unable to stop using bottles, we sacrificed dummies. She adjusted instantly, and didn’t miss it at all. In a way, I am glad that we had to stop using dummies at that stage. I honestly believe that once babies begin to have a proper awareness of what it is and what it’s for, it would be so much more difficult to take it away, and then my dreaded fears of having a toddler with a dummy would have been realised! There’s nothing wrong with that if it’s your choice, but, for me, I just don’t like them, and the truth is they really can affect speech development if they are used for too long.
So, all in all, dummies have their ups and downs. My main concern if I ever had another baby (which I don’t plan on doing) would be that I would have a similar issue. It was never fair for the lactation consultant to attack MY choice as a mother to give my baby a dummy, and I just couldn’t face that judgemental attitude again if I had a second baby with a tongue tie.
If you’re planning on breastfeeding, I would really recommend waiting to see if you can go without one. Teat confusion IS a thing, and although Olivia wasn’t affected by it, she is pretty much the only baby I know who can easily adapt between different teats and the boob. In my mind, they’re not worth the hassle of trying to take them away when your little one gets older, and although every baby needs comfort, they can get it just as easily from you, a teddy, or even a little blanket with far less complicated issues that can come up.
Let me know how you managed to get rid of dummies or why you decided to use or not to use them in the first place!
The one thing we parents seem to have in abundance! Unfortunately, I haven’t yet discovered how to live a completely stress-free life, so instead, here are my top 5 tricks on how to cope with stress!
1. Copious amounts of tea
Ever heard the saying that none of the world’s problems cannot be solved with tea? Well, I am a firm believer! Particularly if your problems are stress-related. I know it can be hard to drink a hot drink while it’s still hot these days, but make sure you grab the opportunity when it presents itself! There’s not much else that’s better than enjoying a hot, caffeinated drink and putting your feet up for a minute while you do!
2. Play dough
This may sound daft, but this is ridiculously stress-relieving. Come on, mummies, whose kiddies do not have play dough lying around somewhere? (If not, you can check out the way to make your own here!)
If they do, and if the colours aren’t all mushed up together in some form of absolute ANARCHY, then I seriously recommend just twiddling it for a while and feeling all of your stress leaving your body as you do!
Again, I know that finding time is difficult, but it could actually be the best thing you do that day to get out of the house and going to a yoga class! If not, you could easily pull up a youtube tutorial for some yoga breathing exercises. It’s incredibly calming and whenever I’ve done it, I LITERALLY feel lighter having done so. You can physically feel the tension being lifted and the positivity seeping back into where it used to be, once upon a time.
4. Classical music
I know what you’re thinking. “She’s gone mad”, “how old is she?” etc. etc.
But I am serious! Music defines our emotions so much more than we think. If all you listen to is high tempo, upbeat pop music, you might feel happier but it’s still energetic and active. I’m not suggesting you listen to Bach, Mozart or Beethoven (I mean, you can if you want to), but just go onto Spotify, pop your headphones in, and stick on a classical playlist.
My favourite contemporary classical composer is Yiruma – a Japanese artist. His music is just hauntingly beautiful, and I always feel calm and relaxed when I listen to it.
This tip could probably apply to any music you find relaxes you, but if you haven’t tried it, I definitely recommend listening to a bit of pure piano magic.
5. Scream into a pillow
You really do think I’m mad now, don’t you? But I’m serious… In the same way that sometimes you need a good old cry to just get it out of your system, sometimes releasing all of that pent-up anger, upset and frustration is best done by burying your face in a pillow, and screaming loudly. You’d be surprised how much better you can feel afterwards!
So there you have it, my 5 TOP TIPS to cope with stress, and make life just a little bit more manageable!
Let me know in the comments if you have any other tips that you swear by to keep your cool!
Winter is here and it brought my son the gift of a snotty nose and a sore throat. Toddlers end up suffering colds so badly because they don’t understand what is happening and they can’t dose up on cold and flu medicine.
1. Honey and lemon
This classic cold remedy is brilliant once your little one is over a year old. If they are under one year old this is isn’t suitable because honey contains Clostridium Botulinum. Paired with their immature guts, there is a (very low) risk of them developing botulism.
The honey is good for sore throats because of its antibacterial and potentially antiviral properties and the lemon packs a nice punch of Vitamin C.
I struggled for ages to make it the right temperature quickly without making it taste gross. The answer? Frozen lemon. Buy a few lemons, quarter them and freeze them. Pop one or two slices into a hot water and honey mixture and wait a couple of minutes. Give them a little squeeze and voila! Perfect toddler temperature honey and lemon. We pop ours in a sippy cup with a lid so the lemon can stay in the drink without getting in the way.
2. Vapour rub
Maybe it’s obvious, but vapour rub is brilliant. Don’t just buy the normal strength one though, make sure you get the kids one; the adult one can be a little bit too potent. Most baby ones are fine from six months, but always check the label.
3. Vapour Oil
There are child strength ones available but they are just diluted versions of the normal one. We use Olbas oil which has instructions for use with children from six months, they also make a children’s one which has a different ‘dosage’. As long as you follow the instructions either is fine. When my son was still in his cot it we were able to put Olbas in his room in a bowl of boiling water but now he is in a bed we can’t do that. My solution is to put a drop or two on a little square of cotton or a tissue and put it under his mattress so he can’t get to it. It’s strong stuff so it will definitely work through that many layers. Please contact a qualified aromatherapist for advice if you have pets in the home as some essential oils can be harmful to animals.
I try to avoid turning to infant paracetamol regularly, but I always have it on hand for those times it’s unavoidable. If his colds get really awful I know his sinuses are going to be hurting, easing one symptom can really help manage the others.
5. Muslins or Handkerchiefs
Tissues are a huge waste of time, resources and money just to make your nose sting when you blow it. We all know how sore your nose can get with a cold, now imagine if you had super delicate baby skin? Ouch. We opt for the muslins my son had as a baby – now he doesn’t spit up they may as well get some use. They are soft, gentle and reusable. We’re totally cool about germs, we’ve all been exposed to them if someone in the house has a cold but if it concerns you, a 15 minute soak in sterilising fluid or a 60 degree wash will kill any lurking nasties. If it’s a bug rather than a cold you’ll likely be doing some hot washes anyway.
This one can be so difficult, especially if you have a cold as well.
It’s 2am and your toddler is just crying at you, completely inconsolable and not listening to a word you say. They won’t calm down and it’s making them cough and rasp and you can see the more they cry the more upset they become. You’re freezing because you heard a cry, went straight to them without grabbing a dressing gown and you’re tired because…well it’s 2am (and they did this last night as well). It is so easy to get frustrated but I just think about how much I would panic if I woke up not able to breathe. They don’t understand and they don’t realise you’re trying to comfort them. The best thing I’ve found is to try and distract my son. If I can get him to laugh we are half way there. We already know we’ll be exhausted in the morning – that’s inevitable now, so we might as well have a giggle.
If you liked this you may enjoy reading…
Last Tuesday I tied the knot and became a wife! Crazy, I know. At the ripe old age of 22, I have taken myself securely off the market… Sorry, lads.
The day was absolutely wonderful, and I am amazed with how well my darling 17 month old daughter coped with all the late nights and lack of sleep. However, having her around did make certain pre-wedding things slightly more stressful, so if you can learn from my experiences, I hope it makes it much easier for anyone else in the same boat!
1. Don’t attempt dress fittings with clingy children…
For my final fitting before the big day, myself and 3 bridesmaids all had to get to the bridal shop for final tweaks and adjustments. You would think that, in this situation, there are enough bridesmaids to go around to entertain the little one while mummy had her fitting. Except 2 of them were 50 minutes late, with no explanation. This is more of a choose reliable bridesmaids tip than a parenting one, but the struggle that occurred while I was in my dress and the baby was screaming for a cuddle (overtired, as usual) was awful and made even the seamstress upset! Both myself and Olivia could have been saved a lot of tears if she had simply been left with Daddy for the day.
2. Try not to upset their routine too much…
After a week of being away from home, Olivia was more than happy to go to her own bed, with her teddy and her nightlight, and went to sleep straight away with no fussing at all. You know how, when you stay in a hotel too long and you can’t wait to get home and sleep in your own bed? Well, it seems like babies feel that too. To avoid spending too long away from home, plan the wedding locally! I think the whole saga would have been far more manageable for us if we had a local wedding and were in our own place right up until the wedding day, with Olivia only spending the honeymoon (4 nights) in a different bed outside of her normal routine.
3. Have clear childcare plans for the wedding night…
You may think this goes without saying, but maybe not for those without kids. If you’re relying on bridesmaids/friends rather than a childminder or babysitter, make sure they know exactly what will need doing. My anxiety was triggered a lot on the wedding day and night, purely through not knowing who was looking after Olivia when, and from having to save her from falling down the stairs multiple times. It also took one of our lovely (fellow parent) guests to swoop in and offer to change her nappy for us, a small act of kindness that saved me deserting the wedding party and wiping a bare bottom in my wedding dress!
4. Have entertainment ready for the morning of the wedding…
Hectic as it is anyway, it’s even more hectic in a small space with a baby running around and 7 bridesmaids. Mum-in-law was quick to the rescue by plonking the little ones in a bath together with bath crayons and bubbles, keeping them entertained for a significant portion of the morning! And, of course, bath time means bedtime! So little Olivia slept for a couple of hours afterwards, leaving us to get ready in peace!
5. Do take your baby to the wedding rehearsal…
I think that Olivia going to the rehearsal with us made her far happier on the day of the wedding. She knew what was where, and we only had one mishap with her attempting an escape route up to the altar! Other than that, she was perfectly behaved, and mainly stayed in the child-friendly area of the church filled with toys!
My first tip here is not to take the kids with you – we learned that the hard way! But in all seriousness, if, like us, you want to share your holiday as a family, here are some tips and tricks to make the journey as hassle-free as possible!
1. Pay to take your buggy in the hold luggage, or plan to take one with you…
We made the mistake of assuming Olivia would be perfectly fine to walk about everywhere, not factoring in her exhaustion from all of the late nights she had in preparation for the wedding! As soon as we got to Barcelona, we realised that it wasn’t going to work without a buggy. Happy as she is to walk around, the need for sleep caught up with her and Back Pack Baby in Barcelona were saviours in our hour of need!
2. No amount of snacks is enough for the plane…
I bought 5 packets of Heinz baby biscuits, and 3 packets of Olivia’s favourite fruity bear paw prints. Almost all of that was gone on the outward journey, but luckily she found a hobby in opening and shutting the window blind on the plane, sat on Kiera’s lap. The way back was less easy going, due to having 2 grumpy, whiney children. Olivia managed to get about half an hour of sleep on the plane before her ears began popping in her sleep and obviously making her uncomfortable. Once she woke up and had her remaining snacks, she was her normal self, covered in chocolate and kicking to be free from restraint.
3. Have a nappy plan…
After we had to make an unscheduled nappy change in the early hours of this morning, when Olivia decided it would be super fun to pull hers off and wee on the bed (TWICE), we were left nappy-less by the time we boarded the plane. Of course, Olivia being Olivia, she decided that mid-flight was the best time to poo, and so we had a mad dash through passport control to find a pack of nappies that were definitely too small but had to make do until we could get anywhere else! Wherever you’re going, look up baby supplies before you go, and make sure you’re familiar with sizes. I had no idea where to start and thus we were stuck in this predicament!!!
Enjoy it! Even if you may have some horrific moments, try to cherish the good ones and make lasting memories. Not everything goes as planned, but what I’ve realised is
that I’m lucky to have my new husband, who is particularly talented at turning rubbish times into great ones. I love him and our little family, and we all enjoyed our little trip to Barcelona, even if it was a bit hectic!
That’s it from me today! Share your experiences below!
I began giving her finger foods like cucumber sticks and avocado wedges to munch on, but every time she coughed I was convinced she was choking. My partner must have been sick of my overreacting, but I didn’t see it as that at the time. There was nothing melodramatic, I really thought she wasn’t breathing when she clearly was.
Our weaning journey began what feels like a million years ago, but it was actually only 10 months ago.
My experience of weaning Olivia may have been very different to others’ experiences, but I think that some of the worries and concerns would be the same as any other mum starting to wean their little monster!
At four and a half months old, Olivia was so interested in everyone’s food. She was rolling and pulling herself along the floor, and could sit up all by herself. She also had a habit of putting EVERYTHING in her mouth, and trying ever so hard to pinch my food and eat it, so her hand eye coordination was good enough for weaning too. But I didn’t feel ready.
My baby was giving me all of the signs to say that she was ready to wean, and so the day before she was 5 months old, she had her first rusk. I watched her like a hawk, terrified that she would choke on a bit of it, but she was absolutely fine and she loved it.
That was the beginning, and it started relatively well. I began giving her finger foods like cucumber sticks and avocado wedges to munch on, but every time she coughed I was convinced she was choking. My partner must have been sick of my overreacting, but I didn’t see it as that at the time. There was nothing melodramatic, I really thought she wasn’t breathing when she clearly was.
She was fast approaching six months old, the recommended age for weaning babies, and so pressure from my health visitor was increasing to let her try a variety of foods herself, and I said yes and went along with it. Every mealtime was emotionally traumatic for me. Every mealtime I ended up in tears and snatched the food away from Olivia, throwing it out and replacing it with milk. It was so hard to be sure that she wasn’t choking and that she was fine. Around that time I was re-diagnosed with depression and anxiety having spent two months thinking everything had gone away by itself, and that explained my irrational fear of the little one coughing at mealtimes, but it’s also a common feeling for new, first time mums to feel so worried about choking. I attended all of the save a baby’s life and baby weaning workshops at the local health centres, but it didn’t prepare me for how hard it would be not to assume the worst and overreact at the slightest spluttering.
It didn’t help being told that it was normal and that every new mum gets paranoid, because personally I don’t believe that it’s true. Why are people on the outside so quick to paint as wide a brushstroke as possible to say what is normal? What is normal for me isn’t normal for somebody else. My obsessive anxiety over feeding my daughter was not normal for me, and once I stopped trying to be normal and follow the advice of other mums, my own maternal instinct was allowed to kick in.
I convinced the health visitor that baby led weaning was too hard for me, listening to my partner who didn’t want to see me and our baby crying our eyes out at every meal. I was able to finally speak for myself and access support, not unhelpful advice that clearly wasn’t working for me. She helped me work out a proper feeding schedule, phasing in a ready-brek breakfast, a pureed lunch and a pureed dinner, healthy vegetarian options incorporating different flavours and textures. Choosing not to continue with baby led weaning didn’t mean that Olivia wasn’t going to experience different foods, or that she wasn’t going to learn how to eat (as my partner kept reminding me).
As my confidence grew and my anxiety lessened, we fell back into baby led weaning as if she’d been doing it all along. She took food off my plate, she had fruit and vegetable finger foods, and we switched to toast for breakfast for her to feed herself.
She’s now 15 months old, loves her food, and has absolutely no problems navigating lumps and bumps in her meals. Most foods she feeds herself, some are still semi-mashed up and spoon-fed. Looking back on the first 2/3 months of weaning, it seems silly and unnecessary that I worried so much. I desperately wanted to be able to do something right, after having a ton of trouble breastfeeding I think I wanted to compensate.
There was nothing to compensate for. She was fed, happy, healthy, loved and looked after. Who cares how we do it, as long that’s what we do?
It may take time to find your groove, but it’s there, and everything does click into place in the end.
There are so many practical things no body ever told me when I was pregnant and I never even thought to ask – You don’t know what you don’t know, right?
1. Group B Strep
2. Your birth might not go according to plan
3. Packing for hospital stays
4. Tongue tie (and other feeding issues)
6. How and when to bathe a newborn
7. Dressing your baby
Labour is terrifying
Babies are terrifying
The weight of the world is terrifying
The soft spot is terrifying
Seriously, kid. Did I not do enough to bring you into this world? I think the screaming and crying I did then was enough for the both of us for the rest of our lives!
I was left wondering so many things about breastfeeding after birth and I usually turned to Facebook groups or Google to help my through them. No matter how prepared we are to breastfeed, there will always be things we aren’t prepared for.
As a mother who breastfed her child for the best part of a year, I know that breastfeeding can be hard enough without all the issues that come with it, such as mastitis, teething etc. I was left wondering so many things about breastfeeding after birth and I usually turned to Facebook groups or Google to help my through them. No matter how prepared we are to breastfeed, there will always be things we aren’t prepared for. So here are things I wish I knew during my breastfeeding journey.
Your baby only has a tiny tummy when they are born, so your colostrum will be enough! Your milk can take up to five days to come in, so don’t think because you are hardly leaking or cannot feel any milk in your boobs, that your baby isn’t getting enough!
If you’re only getting half an ounce of milk out when pumping, don’t think that your baby is only getting half an ounce. A baby’s sucking is SO much more effective than pumping! If your baby is content, don’t worry!
You may think because you are wearing the most expensive breast pad, you won’t leak through it. Oh how wrong you are. I will always remember being in a cafe, breastfeeding my daughter and leaking through 2 breast pads and a muslin cloth and soaking my top! So be sure to keep spare tops and nursing bras handy!
At the start, your boobs will hurt. They are getting used to a tiny human draining them but the pain does go. If the pain is unbearable/ more uncomfortable than usual, it may be worth mentioning to your GP or a Lactation Consultant.
You will get hungry when feeding! So try and keep snacks and a bottle of water in your feeding area. Thus is also handy for when baby is cluster feeding and not letting you move for food!
Ignore the saying ‘There’s no point crying over spilt milk’, because there is. Imagine finishing up with pumping, turning to grab something and then knocking over the whole bottle of milk. Whether it is 1 Oz or 8ozs, it will always be super devastating.
No, no it’s not. I have friends who tried everything and anything to get their baby to feed and with no success, they turned to formula. Whether the reason be a tongue tie, traumatic birth etc., what truly matters is that baby is fed. If you are unsuccessful with breastfeeding, do not put yourself down. You are still an amazing mummy, no matter how baby is fed.