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Counting Sheep

I remember the sheer bewilderment we felt the first night we were home from the hospital with our daughter. We were all a bit traumatised from her entrance into the world and it perhaps didn’t help matters that we got home around 10.30 at night. At that point, due to my random superstitions and paranoia, we still had to put a sheet in the crib and work out how the bottle steriliser worked.

Do you remember the first time?

The calm before the veritable storm

The calm before the veritable storm

On arriving home, we placed our daughter in her car seat on the sofa. At the opposite end sat the cat who, along with the rest of us, had little idea of the impending crisis about to hit us all. What the hell were we supposed to do with our little bundle of joy??

That was the calm before the storm. Then the crying began. Me and her.

We tried putting her in her crib. She cried. We tried holding her and cuddling her. She cried. We tried feeding her. She drank a bit. And then she cried.

“Well, she was quiet in her car seat – let’s put her back in that.”

The car seat was placed carefully on our bed and our daughter was put in safely and securely and we rocked the car seat. She cried. We got her out of the car seat. And still she cried. It was getting towards 4 o’clock in the morning and none of us had slept for the preceding 72 hours.

“What was that sheep thing you got at that baby show thing you went to?” asked my husband.

Gingerly, I stood up (as I did most things gingerly for the first few weeks) and rifled through the wardrobe full of things I’d bought during pregnancy, not really knowing what would be useful and what would be a waste of money. And there I found Ewan; still in his packaging – luckily with batteries in him.

We pressed one of his legs (I forget which one) and through the calming tones of the sound of rain we heard it for the first time. Silence. Contentment on our daughter’s part. We’d calmed her!!

I can’t remember a worst time

Ewan the Dream Sheep

Calming the storm

OK, so I’m not sure how much credit we can take for it, but from that first night, Ewan the Dream Sheep became a stalwart of our nightly routine. He’s also played a part at nap times, not to mention he became a sleep aid to my husband and I when we were sleeping in shifts, desperately trying to catch 40 winks in the day time so we could cope with the night times!

On the outside, Ewan the Dream Sheep doesn’t look that special. He’s got a quirky face, he’s soft and cuddly and he glows. So what – so do many other cuddly toys for babies.

What makes Ewan the Dream Sheep a special is that, when pressed, each of his legs plays calming and soothing sounds which are perfect for a baby.  One is a lullaby, whilst the other three play soothing white noise sounds of the hoover, rain or womb sounds.  I know there are various apps you can buy for far cheaper that play similar things, but aside from the fact they’re not as cute as Ewan the Dream Sheep, you’re then left without your phone, iPad or other device whilst your baby sleeps!

ewan-the-dream-sheep

Peace at last!

Don’t you know that we’ve changed so much since then, oh yeah, we’ve grown

As our daughter now nears one year old, I’m more than aware there are various schools of thought on sleep cues. Indeed, I wondered for a time whether our potential overuse of  Ewan the Dream Sheep had meant she couldn’t settle herself to sleep without him.  But I’m happy to say that not only is Ewan now played with during the day as a teddy, she can sleep without him if needs be, but does still enjoy his gentle harp lullaby each night whilst she’s crawling round the cot having a quick adventure before bed!

Visit us at www.practicalbabygifts.com

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My Daughter’s Love Affair

It all started when she was about three months old. I didn’t notice the change. It just crept up on me almost over night. I should have known it was coming. My daughter suddenly wanted someone other than me to help soothe her to sleep. And that somebunny was Bunny.

It started with a kiss

Desperately looking for the much promised ‘signs of tiredness’ at around three months, I noticed that she started putting soft things to her nose when she was looking a bit sleepy. To begin with, it was mostly inappropriate things, like our (very non-docile) cat’s tail, or a sock or slipper. In looking for something a little more suitable for a three month old to sniff on, I gave her a lovely little Jellycat rabbit a friend had bought us as a present when she was born. And so the love affair began.

Jellycat Bunny Rabbit

Snuggling with Bunny – where it all began!

With ears and arms that are just right for little hands to hold and snuggle ‘Bunny’ as he was creatively named has now become a part of everyday life. Oh, he’s been through the mill a bit – he’s been dropped and thrown, covered in food, and subsequently been through the wash a few times, even though his little label says ‘surface wash only’. As if!

He’s also got a friend who our daughter also shares her bedtime snuggles with. He’s called ‘Mr Bunny’ (see what we did there?) and also comes with a little comfort blanket, although she only has eyes and hands for his ears and arms!

Since the introduction of ‘Mr Bunny’ the two have been interchangeable, with each finding favour at various times. A bit like an emperor’s concubine.

Bunny’s been everywhere with us. He’s been to see her grandparents, to the seaside, to the supermarket (on more than one occasion – on some days). He’s been very kindly offered to her cousin – perhaps without realising the consequences if said cousin had taken a particular shine to him! He’s even been to the doctor’s. The lovely doctor chatted to my daughter about Bunny and pretended to listen to his chest when he was listening to hers. What an absolute star! Obviously, she looked a bit puzzled, but I had the sneaking suspicion it was more for my benefit. And I have to admit I loved it – I’m a sucker for that kind of thing!

The horror!

Jellycat Bunny

Morning Cuddles with Bunny

But obviously, Bunny’s adventures bring with them a certain amount of risk. I’m forever checking that he’s still in her pram, as I don’t want to face the bedtime when Bunny’s nowhere to be found. One of my favourite stories when I was little was Dogger by Shirley Hughes. Its beautiful illustrations belied the harsh truth that your favourite toy can go astray and life may never be the same again. That is, unless you have a nice older sister (who appears mean at the start of the book, but shows she has a heart towards the end) who retrieves Dogger from the nasty people who thought they bought him fair and square at a village fete. The horror!

With the intention of avoiding the Dogger situation at all costs, I wanted to secure Bunny to the pushchair. As useful as they are for extending hanging pram toys, it just didn’t seem right to use plastic linking rings to effectively tie Bunny to the pram. I pictured those horrid adverts about dancing bears with rings through their noses. Whilst a little far fetched, perhaps, for a soft toy bunny, I just couldn’t bring myself to attach Bunny to the pram with plastic rings round his neck.

Fifty Shades of Grey

Bunny Snuggles

Bunny Snuggles – still snuggling after all this time

So, on the quest for something a little more ‘humane’ I recently started using a Ruby and Ginger Toy Tie. The nice soft material velcroes gently around Bunny’s neck yet allows my daughter to cuddle and snuggle Bunny when we’re out and about. Even when she tried to (affectionately, I’m sure) launch Mr Bunny out of the pushchair today, she was most baffled and, I think quietly relieved, that he was still hanging on by his paws to her chariot, via the lifeline of a Toy Tie. (Albeit his comfort blanket was slightly greyed from getting trapped under the wheels whilst crossing the road! Thank God Mr Bunny’s ‘surface washable’ too – in the washing machine he goes tomorrow!).

The Toy Tie’s water and dirt resistant material makes it a practical pushchair accessory, whilst its beautiful and modern pattern means it’s something that people will no doubt notice and admire. It’s a practical pushchair accessory that looks pretty lovely too. The concept of the Toy Tie may well have slightly baffled my daughter to begin with, but it’s certainly going to be as permanent a feature on our pushchair as Bunny or his gentrified counterpart is.

Ruby and Ginger Toy Tie

Studying Mr Bunny and why he doesn’t fall off the pushchair!

How far do you go to keep your child’s favourite toy safe? Do you use anything in particular, or just wing it? We’d love to hear your views!

Visit us at Practicalbabygifts,com for nifty ideas on practical baby products.

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Why Breast Wasn’t Best for Me

It’s a decision I made fairly early on in pregnancy and one that I’ve been questioned on a significant amount since. Right from the get go, I knew I didn’t want to breastfeed my baby.

I have never questioned whether breastfeeding is the best thing for babies. I believe in all the health benefits for both mother and baby. I know it would have saved us a significant amount of money too, but I just didn’t want to breastfeed.

Having thought about it many times since having our daughter, I think there are a number of reasons which led to my decision.

She’s lost Control

Why Breast wasnt Best for me

Plenty of photos of feeding in the early days

I think the biggest factor in my decision was the lack of control. I think there is a lot of pressure put on women at the moment to be the perfect Earth Mother and some people just don’t subscribe to the philosophy. I wanted to know how much my baby had had to eat and when she might want more. Don’t get me wrong – on arrival she had an insatiable appetite like most babies, so we were constantly feeding her, but at least we knew what she’d had and when. We even kept a notebook.

When people see new mothers bottle-feeding a newborn baby, some also judge them. Many’s the time I felt the sympathetic glances of those who may have felt that by bottle-feeding I must have failed at breastfeeding and had to resort to using a bottle. Many is also the time I almost wanted to shout from the rooftops that it was my choice to bottle feed!

A Fear of Failure

The greatest myth out there about breastfeeding seems to be that everyone can do it. Having seen (or heard about a few weeks down the line) a lot of my friends struggle to establish and maintain breastfeeding for weeks after birth, I don’t subscribe to that philosophy. I had no intention of setting myself up to potentially fail that early on in motherhood when I knew there would be plenty of opportunity for that further down the line.

I also knew from the get-go that I had absolutely no intention of resembling a dairy cow and attaching myself to anything electronic or hand-powered and milking myself. All at a time when, pregnancy love-in hormones or not, I knew I was going to be overwhelmed by the task at hand of rearing my own little calf.

Getting them out in public

Whilst I am no Jordan or Dolly, I’m certainly no Kate Moss (in more ways than one) and I do believe that plays a part in those who are successful in breastfeeding and feel confident to do so in public. I for one, wouldn’t have felt confident and probably would have bought any number of the breastfeeding modesty products on the market to try and hide my insecurities (and my boobs).

Nine Looooong Months

41 weeks is a long time. I know, because with no job for 39 weeks of my pregnancy I practically counted down every second of it. Once done with labour and birth, obviously my life would just get back to normal, but with the addition of a very little person in it, and as such I also wanted my body back for me. The thought of giving part of it over to said very little person for another six to nine months (or longer if Little Britain is to be believed) frankly filled me with dread. I wanted to know that I could put my old bras back on (eventually) and get back to being me.

Many people have been shocked and almost saddened when I’ve been quite open about my decision. In the early days of pregnancy my partner tried to convince me it was a good idea, but then it wasn’t going to be him who had to do it! I remember the hushed silence of the course leader and the other couples at our ante-natal classes when the question ‘So, is everyone planning to breastfeed?’ was asked and I said that I wasn’t. Half an hour of the course then ensued on all the benefits of breastfeeding which left me a bit numb.

After All

Why Breast wasnt Best for me

The early days of a feeding frenzy

All of this is not to say I didn’t try. Very shortly after the birth of my daughter I conquered my fears and put her to my breast to see what happened. I endured everything that I didn’t want in terms of it suddenly being perfectly acceptable for foreign hands to be grabbing my boobs and pulling, pushing and squeezing them towards this expectant little mouth.  My husband also got his hand in there too. Perhaps not so foreign, but still as unwelcome at that moment. Whether she got any colostrum or not is beyond me as I may have been there in body but certainly not in mind. It was hardly the beautiful bonding experience described and experienced by many.

In the end it was my body, and not my mind, which let me down. The traumas of labour and birth (one for another time) meant my milk didn’t come in for a week anyway, by which time, our little girl with the insatiable appetite would have been a bit peckish. I have to say the lovely midwives at our hospital were extremely supportive in helping us bottle-feed and I didn’t experience any of the patronising, dismissive treatment I was led to believe would be coming our way.

Don’t get me wrong. I have so much admiration for those who do breastfeed. In all likelihood because they conquered something I didn’t even truly attempt to – my own fears. Whether our daughter has suffered any detrimental side effects of my fears and anxieties about what should apparently be the most natural thing in the world, we’ll have to wait and see. But at the moment, she seems happy, healthy, not too fat and not too thin (but quite exceptionally tall), so who knows?

Visit us at http://www.practicalbabygifts.com

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Bounty Hunters

Oh, she may be weary

There has been a lot of discussion in the news in the past day or so with Mumsnet calling for sales reps from Bounty to stop targeting vulnerable new mothers on maternity wards.  The issue is one of government policy, and this being the only area within the NHS where sales reps are allowed access to wards to effectively sell services to patients; new mothers.

The early hours with a newborn are precious

The early hours with a newborn are precious

Firstly, Mumsnet’s call is something I wholeheartedly support. Whilst I don’t think I was even with it enough to compute who this strange woman was who was coming to bring me a carrier bag full of leaflets which soon ended up in the recycling bin at home, I think it is wholly wrong to allow representatives of commercial entities access to anyone receiving care in hospital – let alone those just getting to know a new life.

You know she’s waiting, just anticipating

Like many mums-to-be, when I found out I was pregnant, I signed up to the many and varied parent and baby clubs.  Each one offered free gifts, coupons or access to special events in exchange for my personal details and weekly advisory emails telling me what vegetable my growing bump resembled each week.

Now, as a marketing professional (non-practicing) I completely understand the value of customers’ personal details. But in the c.40 week period of pregnancy and the similarly-timed period since, I don’t think I have ever experienced such misuse and mishandling of personal data.

Aside from Bounty, my other main beef was with Emma’s diary – a very similar commercial entity for whom the main promoters seem to be the community midwife at the initial booking in appointment. Again – how can those who work for the NHS be seen to promote companies?

But the soft words, they are spoke so gentle

When not out having coffee and cake, my early pregnancy was spent at home watching what some might consider to be far too many US crime drama series. That was when my viewing pleasure wasn’t being interrupted by incredibly pushy salespeople from all manner of random companies. In looking into how these companies had got my details – it was all from signing up to Emma’s Diary and missing the very small print hidden somewhere deep in their site that they will basically give your details to anyone who will pay them. That may be a great commercial model for them, but surely not something that should be endorsed by the good old NHS?

Having signed up for the Bounty Packs I have to say the collection of each one led to increased disappointment. It was like being given a party bag when leaving a child’s party, with mouldy cake in and a broken whoopee cushion. The sense of disappointment was palpable. The only good thing in any of them was the Child Benefit application form and a handy nappy bag sized pot of Sudocrem!

Also, the quality of the weekly emails from Bounty and Emma’s Diary was terrible. Those from the other companies I signed up for (supermarkets and baby formulae) were well written and mostly contained useful advice and information.  On the other hand, those from Bounty and Emma’s Diary read like a poorly put together newsletter with useless and irrelevant information – and that was in the 30% of space that wasn’t taken up with adverts.

Try a little tenderness

Maybe we’re a nation gone mad – one that wouldn’t normally give out personal details to any Tom, Dick or Harry…unless pregnant and / or there is the promise of free stuff. Maybe we should look to Finland where the government and expectant parents are much more in tune; where expectant parents are issued with a maternity box containing all manner of useful and practical items – and with no hard sell for nonsensical items within 24 hours of a traumatic birth.

What do you think? Did you sign up with Bounty? Did you think someone visiting you within hours of birth was intrusive or were you happy with Bounty’s service?

Visit us at PracticalBabyGifts.com

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Rockin’ in a Shy Way

3 x Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star, 2 x Oranges & Lemons, 1 x Baa Baa Black Sheep, 1 x Beautiful Dreamer, 1 x classical ditty from a bank advert in the ’90s…just some of the plinky-plonky lullaby tunes so far endured in trying to get our little one off to sleep in the past few months. Oh, and I forgot – a few versions of ‘Rockabye Baby’. But not on a tree top….!

The cradle will rock

lullaby-renditions-of-the-cureNope – the Rockabye Baby I refer to is soothing music at its best.  It’ll rock your baby to sleep whilst keeping you entertained with humming along to the songs you know and love – albeit, they might sound a little bit different.  What Rockabye Baby does is transform rock favourites into instrumental lullabies.  Guitars and drums are traded for Xylophones and bells.  And they’ve been a sanity saver! Whether you prefer the more classic rock titles from Queen, or the poptastic Madonna, there’s something to keep everyone entertained.  And it’s educational for babies too!

Boys Don’t Cry

Well, baby boys probably do.  But here are some of our favourites from Practical Baby Gifts.

Heaven knows I’m miserable now

Lullaby Renditions of The Smiths

Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now

When I’ve mentioned Lullaby Renditions of The Smiths to friends, many have suggested it might be a bit too depressing for a baby!  But what can be more entertaining whilst getting increasibly frustrated with a non-sleeping baby, than hearing (in your head) Morrissey lament Thatcher’s Britain through the medium of harp music?!

Tonight, Tonight

If today is the greatest day you’ve ever known and tomorrow’s much too long, then the Lullaby Renditions of Smashing Pumpkins is for you.  This is a definite treat to the ears and number one on my list of practical baby gifts for a few friends…they’ll just need to actually have a baby first!  (When they’re ready of course!).

Enjoy the Silence

If you just can’t get enough of Depeche Mode, this one’s for you!  We tested (possibly) one of DM;s biggest fans recently with tasters of the Lullaby Renditions of Depeche Mode and can attest to their authenticity!  I think the score was seven out of eight!

In Bloom

Or for the friend in your life who’s In Bloom, but still prone to reliving her grunge-youth, there’s always Lullaby Renditions of Nirvana.  Whilst we can’t promise it comes packaged in a Heart Shaped Box, the CD does offer very faithful renditions of Kurt et al’s best work.

Not yet in production, but here's hoping - Lullaby Renditions of The Doors

Not yet in production, but here’s hoping – Lullaby Renditions of The Doors

The time to hesitate is through

i could go on….and I think you’ll guess from the selection of Rockabye Baby Lullaby Renditions CDs we’ve chosen so far, our grunge and Britpop leanings have slightly tainted our decisions!

And then there are the titles Rockabye Baby are yet to turn into Lullaby Renditions!  Whilst the vaguely ‘cool’ part of me is leaning towards the production of a Lullaby Renditions of The Doors, there’s a large part of me hankering for lullaby versions of Belinda Carlisle!

What do you think?  Aside from the artists already given the Rockabye Baby treatment – who would you like your little ones to drop off to?

If you’re looking for something a little bit different to give as a baby gift – look no further! than http://www.practicalbabygifts.com/sleep-time/soothing-music

Or view our whole range of Practical Baby Gifts at practicalbabygifts.com

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The Practical Gift of Knowledge

When starting out on the epic journey of parenthood, soon-to-be mums and dads try to prepare themselves in various ways.  Advice from friends and family is complemented by reading books, blogs and magazines.  Then there’s always Dr. Google who can provide practical help, advice and reassurance  (and downright panic) at the touch of a few buttons.  Alongside this, many expectant parents still sign up for good, old fashioned antenatal classes.

Pregnant and clueless

Pregnant and clueless

But is the information provided by these methods, including antenatal classes, really focused on equipping new parents with the skills and knowledge they’ll actually need?

Knowing me, Knowing you

I’ll be honest and admit that the main reason I signed us up for antenatal classes last year was to meet other local people having babies around the same time.  Pure and simple.  That’s not to say we didn’t already have a wealth of friends who had recently had babies who were poised and ready with all kinds of advice as well as many lovely hand-me downs.

We decided against the ‘local’ NCT classes, as they were held not-so-locally on the other side of the city.  Instead we plugged for those part-subsidised by our local Children’s Centre,  run by BirthPrep. (The one positive contribution our Children’s Centre has made to our daughter, but that’s for another time.)

If you don’t know me by now

I’ll admit my expectations of the classes were heavily influenced by too many TV programmes.  I was anticipating several evenings sitting on the floor, supported by my husband, practicing breathing techniques in a room full of other couples whilst being shown how a baby doll makes its way out of a knitted cervix. However, it seems things have moved on somewhat, and instead we sat around talking frankly about the process of labour and birth – on chairs – like the adults we were truly about to become.

Antenatal classes - the practical gift of knowledge

Sitting on chairs and not a knitted cervix in sight!

We were lucky enough to be ‘dropping’ around the same time as five lovely couples.  All were similarly minded and with great senses of humour that got us through even the darkest moments of discussing labour and birth.  But there’s the rub, really.  Out of the three three hour sessions, two were focussed on labour and birth and only one on the next 365+ days of caring for a baby, primarily covering feeding and bathing.

When every book on the subject confirms that each and every labour and birth is different – what’s the point of focussing so much time on something that is so far out of anyone’s control?

Now, that’s not to say that the Midwife-led approach to the BirthPrep classes should or could have been any different.  And that’s also not to take anything away from the wonderful help, assistance, advice and general goodnature of the lovely Cathy who took our classes.  But I can’t help thinking that more practical advice about the early days with a newborn would really help new parents, not to mention the poor, helpless baby depending on two clueless adults who should at least know the basics!

This time I know it’s for real

Antenatal classes - WTF?

Antenatal classes – WTF?

On being handed our little bundle of joy, I think I was awash with about 5% instinct and 95% blind panic!  The midwives in the hospital were amazing in helping and offering advice and assistance, but I felt completely under-prepared for the task ahead of us.  Advice on how to wind a baby, what to do when you’re left alone in the hospital with your new baby for the first time, when and if to use a dummy, what to do when you first bring the baby home and tried and tested plans for coping with newborn sleep deprivation might have been useful.

However, I suppose in many ways, the course we went on, did offer us this help and advice in the long run.  Largely through meeting up regularly with the lovely ladies from our antenatal classes, we have all shared experiences, tips and advice over the ensuing months.  We’ve laughed.  We’ve cried (largely with laughter). We’ve shared baby sick, nappy changes and weaning adventures. We’ve eaten a hell of a lot of cake and drunk an obscene amount of caffeine.  We’re even planning on drinking something a bit more grown-up soon!

What do you think?  Did your antenatal classes adequately equip you for the challenges ahead ?  Where else did you get help and information from?  What was the best advice you were given?

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To sleep, perchance to dream?

To quote The Smiths rather than more Shakespeare: I ‘haven’t had a dream in a long time’.  Largely because the erratic night time sleeping patterns of a certain little lady aren’t really allowing me to enter that deepest stage of sleep required to do so.

I don’t know what we’ve done wrong.  From six weeks until about seven months we had the dream child.  We could pretty much count on an unbroken stretch of eight hours’ sleep each night.  Things were rosy.  We felt human.  Things got done around the house. A website even got launched.

She slept once!

She slept once!

There is a light that never goes out

Then what happened?  I’m not really sure.  There was a cold in there somewhere which didn’t help matters.  The clocks changed.  Also, she became generally more aware of her surroundings (meaning a terrible weekend’s sleep for one and all at Easter when we went away). She began waking up a few times in the night and needing comforting back to sleep.

Then, around six weeks ago, she decided instead to wake up anywhere between 3.00am and 5.00am and take at least two hours to get back to sleep, completely messing up any semblance of normality in the day, let alone a blessed routine!

Meat is Murder

I spoke to our local health professional who said upping her snacks could help.  Poor child – I think she thinks I’m constantly stuffing her full of food, and whilst she’s not aware of the analogy, I can’t help thinking of the ‘gluttony’ part of the film Se7en. Anyway, three days on and a pot belly later, she’s still waking up.

On Sunday came the crunch-point.  A two hour session of getting up to try and get her back to sleep between 4.00 and 6.00 was the last straw.  Action had to be taken.  My husband and I had to actually discuss the problem at a time other than the wee small hours of the morning (not really a great time to discuss anything).

There’s more to life than books you know, but not much more

On Monday, having emptied our local library of anything with the words ‘baby’ and / or ‘sleep’ in the title (including one about 3-8 year olds – that’s how tired I was) I read up while she happily amused herself bashing some stacking cups together.  It turns out we have created far too many ‘sleep cues’ that she now needs to get back to sleep and she needs to learn to self-settle again.  (presumably she could do this between six weeks and seven months of age!).

Sing me to sleep

The books also suggested the controversial method of controlled crying or letting her ‘cry it out’. This is something that my head tells me is a great idea, but my heart really struggled with.  Every ounce of me wants to hug and comfort her whenever she’s upset or distressed.  But no, I had to be strong.

Except here’s the clincher.  She doesn’t wake up crying! She wakes up in the night wide awake and ready to play.  She sings.  She rolls.  She practices crawling.  She plays a merry tune on the bars of her cot.  And generally she has a lark!  It’s usually around 40 minutes to an hour of this before she even starts with crying which we can allegedly then ‘control’.  All this makes for two very sleepy parents, only one of whom can have the odd daytime nap to try and catch up!

We’re now on day three of no sleep cues and controlled crying.  Last night she didn’t even cry but self settled, albeit she was awake twice (I blame the rain for the first time.  It woke me up!). We shall see what happens on night time number three tonight.  Watch this space!

So please, please, please, let me get what I want – sleep.  Lord knows it would be the first time…..in a long time.

Do you have any suggestions that have helped get your children to sleep better?  What sleep cues do you use or have you had to abandon?

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Why have I never had Eggy Bread before?

When trying to come up with new ideas for finger food to give my daughter recently, a friend mentioned they’d given their baby eggy bread and it had been a hit.  I thought it would be a good way to up her protein intake and be something a bit different, so I gave it a whirl.

I looked up a recipe on the internet.  I do consider myself a good cook, but sometimes the simple things elude me.  (I still can’t actually boil an egg successfully, but I can  make a three course meal for ten people!).  Whilst keeping my daughter content with some other assorted finger foods, I set to making the eggy bread.

Egg on my face

Now, I’m a big fan of scrambled egg, but struggle a bit with it on toast sometimes (don’t ask me – I think it’s the dryness of the toast next to the texture of the scrambled egg). So what could be better than egg already mixed into toast???  GENIUS!

Aside from maybe once at a Brownie pack holiday – why have I never had eggy bread before??

It got me thinking of all the other things you discover or rediscover once you have a baby.  Also – the things you want to pass onto your child from your own childhood – whether they were things you had, or just lusted after.

She’s on the phone

The FIsher Price Chatter Phone - Now and Then

The FIsher Price Chatter Phone – Now and Then

The FIsher Price Chatter Phone - Now and Then

The FIsher Price Chatter Phone – Now and Then

Whilst I was pregnant, I bought my daughter a Fisher Price Chatter Phone.  This is clearly a throw-back to my own childhood memories.  At seven months old, she started playing with it, although I have to say both she and I get a little bit frustrated with the health-and-safety-gone-mad changes that have been made to it.

The string holding the receiver to the phone is so short, she can’t even put it up to her ear without taking the whole handset with her!  It seems a bit ridiculous to me.  Mind you – I’m not sure she’ll ever really understand it’s a telephone, seeing as no modern phones even vaguely resemble the Chatter Phone these days!

Glo-Friends

Glo-worm from the 1980s

I don’t think my Glowey is quite this pristine!

One of the nostalgic purchases I’ve been most happy with since our daughter arrived is buying her a Glo-Worm.  I used to LOVE my Glo-worm (affectionately called Glowey) which I was given on my third birthday.  He came everywhere with us; on holiday, to playschool, to relatives’ houses. I even had a Glo-worm shaped birthday cake!

Now Glowey sits atop a (high) shelf in our daughter’s nursery, watching over her, while Glowey 2.0 takes up the mantle of being fondled and chewed and thrown all over the place.  New Glowey even plays tunes!

Playskool Sensory & Lullaby Glo-worm

Glowey 2.0

And I have to say, Glowey 2.0 has been an absolute Godsend! I don’t know why in particular, but when nothing else will settle her, Glowey comes out and sings his lullabies and shines his little round face, to settle our little one in the same way his forefather did for her mum!

Swiss Roll and Baked Beans

Bluebird A La Carte Kitchen

Wake up Daddy – breakfast’s ready!

And then there are the opportunities missed in life due to not being given the ‘right’ toy for a birthday or Christmas.  Everyone has ‘the toy that never was’.  For my sister-in-law, it was a Mr Frosty.  We had one.  It was rubbish.  I agree wholeheartedly that it was one of the most disappointing toys of the 1980s.  .

For me and my sister, it was the Bluebird A La Carte Kitchen.  As the original advert still taunts me – WE NEVER GOT THE CHANCE TO MAKE SWISS ROLL AND BAKED BEANS FOR OUR DAD!  I’m sure he’s rather glad.

Time’s a great healer

I’m not sure my sister and I will ever get over the lack of an A La Carte Kitchen.  In fact, I’m sure as soon as our children are old enough, they’ll be bought the modern day equivalent whether they want one or not. Nope – it’ll be some other toy which will be the one that got away.  It probably hasn’t even been invented yet.  Or maybe it’ll be a re-hash of a toy we had (or didn’t have) as children!

What was the one that got away from you?  Would you buy your child the toy you never had??

What other things are you rediscovering from your own childhood since having a baby?

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Gro-ing up

‘fess up
Who hasn’t looked at a baby sleeping bag and wished they could crawl into a giant adult sized one tonight?

I don’t know about you, but when I’m out and about with my baby in her various snuggly layers in her pushcair, I’m inundated with comments like ‘oooh, don’t you wish you could just snuggle up in there with her/’.  Well, yes, when it’s -3 degrees outside and I’m doing the pushing and she’s doing the sitting, there are certain times I’d happily swap!  Just imagine what the same women-of-a-certain-age would say if they saw babies all snuggled up in their sleeping bags at nighttime?

Nothing looks cuter than a baby in a sleepsuit.  Despite how pretty or cute an outfit can be, a baby in a sleepsuit is just too sweet for words.  Add to that a sleeping bag that makes them look like a giant chrysalis just waiting for metamorphosis and what could be cuter?

Bag of all trades – master of none

Having initially been put off by the cost of the original Gro Bags, I tried a number of other sleeping bags for our little one.

The Mothercare one we had was good – with useful poppers under the arms to make it smaller to begin with for a newborn – similar to the Loved So Much sleeping bag in their current range.

Ikea's Torva Sleeping Bag

The Torva Sleeping Bag from Ikea is very reasonably priced, but not always easy to get baby into.

Ikea’s Torva Sleeping bag is incredibly reasonable in terms of price.  As you would expect, the Torva is good quality and of practical design.  The only thing that was a bit tricky was the cross-over style of the top.  Getting our baby’s arms into it when half or fully asleep was sometimes a bit tricky and on many occasions woke her up.  Whilst this design may not have been great in terms of getting it onto a baby, as with all Ikea designs, it did have its practical upsides in providing a bit more upper-body warmth than the standard vest-style design.

Whilst pregnant, I bought a beautiful sleeping bag from Gap with a lovely giraffe print on.  It was definitely one of those items bought because it was pretty and not terribly practical.  Once in use, we quickly established the tiny, faffy zip was ridiculous when it came to night-time nappy changes, and to be honest, it was far more lovely to look at the sleeping bag on the clothes-airer than try and persevere with the zip!  (It was lovely though!)

We were also given a sleeping bag from M&Co for Christmas, which was a lovely, pretty design, but which felt very strange in terms of the texture of the lining.  Trying to wind our baby whilst she was wearing it, made her more than a little static!  Maybe that’s why she’s got fly-away-hair!

The original and still the best

When looking for the next size up of sleeping bag (6-18 months) I decided to splash out and buy our first Gro Bag.

Tea Party Gro Bag exclusive to Mothercare

Exclusive to Mothercare, the Tea Party Gro Bag.

I couldn’t resist the beautiful. vintage style of the Tea Party Gro Bag which is exclusive to Mothercare.  And I have to say I’ve been chuffed to bits with it!  Not only does it look beautiful.  It’s very hard-wearing.  The zip is large and robust enough to be pulled in all directions at whatever time of night, yet is tucked away style-wise out of view..The capped sleeves on this design look so cute.  There have been many times in the darkest hours of the night, when you can’t help but smile just because this Gro bag is so pretty!

I also recently happened upon a bargain Alphapinks Travel Gro Bag.  My original intention was just to use this as another standard sleeping bag, but we did recently use it for its intended purpose on a long night-time car journey.  It is very useful for both.  The two-way front zip is great when travelling so you can easily undo the travel harness while baby is still sleeping (in theory) and also great for use at home.  Similar to the Ikea sleeping bag, getting baby’s arms through the sleeves when already sleepy can be a bit tricky, but there is at least a bit more room around them – in fact, as I recently found out – there’s plenty of room to get arms and hands through with the comforters they’re grasping.

Practical Baby Gifts - Hetty Gro Bag

The beautiful Hetty Gro Bag – perfect vintage style and practical design.

Continuing the vintage theme, I also recently splashed out on a Hetty Gro Bag.  The design is beautiful and again, the Gro Bag is robust enough to be pulled every which way and will hopefully stand up to being pushed, pulled and draggefd around the cot once our little one learns to crawl and stand in it!

About a Boy

When choosing Gro Bag lines to stock on Practical Baby Gifts, I wanted to stock those that I would want for my baby girl, or to give as gifts to others.  Admittedly, I seem to have initially veered more towards designs aimed at boys.  The Little Trikes Gro Bag is particularly lovely – with a vintage style print all over and added applique trike on the front.  I think it’s the baby boy equivalent of the Hetty Gro Bag for girls, in that it has the power to make you smile in even the darkest depths of night time!

Similarly, the All Aboard Gro Bag is another favourite.  It’s perfect for anyone who loves the current nautical trend or perhaps for anyone who has used a nautical theme in their child’s nursery.  It’s the perfect complement.

Practical Baby Gifts - Fluffy Clouds Gro Suits

Fluffy Clouds Gro Suits – so cute and practical for the colder months.

Suit up!

In this seemingly eternal winter, our little one insisted on waking at stupid-o’clock due to the cold temperature in the nursery.  At 5 o’clock one morning, I capitulated and ordered some Hetty Gro Suits.  I was willing to try anything to reclaim the early hours to sleep!  The next night, she slept so much better as her arms and hands were a lot warmer.  For anyone looking for a gift for an autumn / winter baby (or their own baby – regardless of season), the twin packs of baby blue Penguin Pop Gro Suits or the neutral Fluffy Clouds Gro Suits are ideal and would definitely be greatly appreciated by any new parents.  Anything to aid sleep!

Good design means zip

But the pretty patterns on the Gro Bags are clearly not the only reason why I think they’re the original and best. It’s the little things and the very, very important things.

It’s the research and advice that’s gone into making them. It’s the endorsement from and ongoing partnership with The Lullaby Trust (formerly FSID) to promote safer sleep for babies. All these things contribute to the quality and design features of the Gro Bags.

These features include the ‘Zip Click’ feature which covers the zipper, meaning it won’t get caught on baby’s skin or sleeve.  The under-arm poppers on the smaller sizes, mean parents can be far more confident in using a Gro Bag in the early months, when the key advice is that a baby’s head shouldn’t be able to slip through the neck.  The Travel Gro Bags are well designed, with ease of use and safety front of mind at all times.  The two-way front opening zip makes getting baby in and out of a car seat or pram whilst sleeping easy and the velcro on the openings for the safety harness mean that the Travel Gro Bag can also be used for a normal night’s sleep at home too.  Two for the price of one!

Practical Baby Gifts - Little Trikes Gro Bag

Little Trikes Gro Bag – lovely print and applique make this perfect for a beautiful baby boy.

Whilst my opinions are solely based on my small amount of experience and not exhaustive market testing (maybe one day), I have been very impressed with Gro and their range of Gro Bags and Gro Suits.

Do you use baby sleeping bags?  Have you found them useful or do you prefer to use blankets and sheets instead?

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Baby Driver

And once upon a pair of wheels…

I’m sure Paul and Art didn’t have pram-pushing in mind when they wrote their song, but it keeps popping into my head recently, as I’ve observed a weird phenomenon.  Those who walk quickly without a pram go very slowly when pushing one, and those who normally walk quite slowly anyway go EVEN SLOWER!  On the other hand, for me personally, pushing a pram is about the only thing that seems to quicken my pace!

Speedy or slow - pram pushing in Knaresborough

Speedy or slow – pram pushing in Knaresborough

Hit the road and I’m gone!

I’m not normally known for my speedy walking pace (or any sort of haste really), but give me a pram to push, and I’m off!  Speeding down the pavement, running over dogs, bashing up and down curbs and through shop doorways.  I’m considering getting my little one a Formula One style neck support just in case her neck starts to suffer from the G force!

OK, so I exaggerate slightly. But the other side of the coin, is those who go on a complete go-slow once they’ve got a pram to push.  When out shopping the other day with my better half, I felt I had to say something after my heels and ankles were aching from the exceedingly slow pace we were walking at, as he was pushing the pram.  It’s normally a case of me practically trotting alongside him trying to keep up, but no, give him a pram to push, and we’re overtaken by octogenarians.

(N.B. he claimed he was just sticking to my ‘browsing’ pace, but it was definitely a case of six of one and half a dozen of the other.)

The Little Old Lady from Pasadena (Go Granny, Go Granny, Go Granny Go)

Then there’s grandparents.  (And apologies here.) Both our little one’s grandmas seem to walk at a snail’s pace once in charge of the pram.  To the point where, again, the ankles and heels are aching and you never quite get anywhere!  It took an hour recently to do a circuit round our town that takes me 20 minutes.

I think it stems from the nurturing instinct (so what does that say about my pace?) and the fact that they don’t wish to wake a sleeping baby.  But then there’ll be the inevitable curb that isn’t dropped or the pram will get lodged in a pot hole somewhere and the baby will wake up with quite a start!

Staying asleep despite the speed!

Staying asleep despite the speed!

Scoot down the road – what’s my number?

And then there’s Grandpa.  He likes to go very fast.  In the early weeks after the birth when I was more than a little slow on my pins, Grandpa had control of the buggy and I thought we would never see our new addition again!  And he definitely ‘drives’ the pushchair rather than pushes it.  I’ve never seen it corner quite like when Grandpa is in charge!

I wonder how your engines feel

And when I am out and about on my own, I of course have become ‘one of those mums’ who thinks she has a God-given right to the pavement.  Why should I go round those without a pram / wheelchair / mobility scooter, when they’re far better able to meander if required?!

But then there’s the camaraderie of the pram-pushing sorority, which I truly love.  That knowing smile shared when one of you is waiting for the other to pass on a tight bend.  Or the mutual admiration with a fleeting glance at each other’s baby. Or the guilty internal grin you give yourself when her under-eye-bags are larger and deeper than your own.  It’s a whole new world.  And I’m speeding through it.

What have you noticed when out and about with a pram? Any strange speeding phenomena? (or lack of?)

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