27 December 2010

Reflection on Change

Tomorrow Layla will be 8 months old. Eight months ago, my life changed forever. As I was putting Layla to sleep tonight, I found myself thinking about how things change and also stay the same. Every night for the past eight months we have followed the same bedtime routine. Yet the baby I put to bed tonight is so different to the baby I brought home all those months ago. Then she was so small and fragile. We hardly knew each other. Everything was new. I didn't know how long she would sleep, was unsure when she needed to feed, whether she was full or hungry. My body had changed and was continuing to change. I had become a Mother and my child was fully dependant on me for her survival.

Layla - only a few minutes old
Now eight months on, we know each other. We have a routine. I know Layla's signals, her cries, her noises. While I'm still breastfeeding her, Layla knows how to feed herself finger food and is showing her independence more and more everyday. I know eight months is not eighteen years. There are plenty of changes and challenges awaiting us in the weeks, months and years ahead.

Layla - almost 8 months
What today really made me think about was change. On reflection, I can hardly believe how much we have been through and how much change we have dealt with in such a short period. One of my favourite sayings is that "this too, shall pass". When things are bad, you need to know that this too shall pass, things will get better and another change will come. When things are good, you need to know that this too shall pass, you need to enjoy the joys for they will not last forever.

When Layla was really small and I was having problems, people would tell me that these dramas would end and that she will only be small for a very short amount of time. At the time, my vision was clouded and I saw no end. Now I look back in amazement at how right they were. It was hard to enjoy the early days and appreciate how quickly life changes with a baby. Then she was so tiny and frail. Now she's so chubby and happy. Then, I had nearly no idea what I was doing. Now I feel more confident and feel in tune with my child. It's difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you are sleep deprived and being challenged by a crying baby. What you (and I) need to remember, is just how quickly things change and that every challenge is to be enjoyed and relished. It'll all be gone before too long.

26 December 2010

Do I Really Need to Buy All That Stuff Now? Part 2

Since I posted Part 1 of this series, I've given the topic some more thought. Now is definitely the time to stock up on your baby stuff with sales in most stores here in Australia and around the world. Here are a few extra things that you may not need or use in the first few weeks but will come in handy shortly after.
  • Baby Gym - these things are a great place for your baby to lie and play right from the start. They also provide a nice, soft and stimulating space to practice tummy time. Pick one that has plenty of colour and overhead beams where toys can be hung off. There is a huge range of styles and makes available. Layla used hers amost everyday until she was over 6 months;
Layla playing in her baby gym - almost 5 months
  • Bouncer/Rocker Chair - I bought a simple bouncer for Layla and found it to be invaluable. From an early age, she would sit in the bouncer while I ate my breakfast, tidied up and generally when I needed to have my hands free. She used it until she was five and a half months and able to sit on her own. While I had a simple bouncer, if I had my time again, I'd have bought a chair that had an inbuilt vibration mode and a rocking function. It would have been invaluable when I could no long rock Layla during unsettled periods;
Layla having fun in her bouncer - 6 weeks
  • Toys - while toys are not essential right at the beginning and tend to be given as gifts, having a few educational toys from companies like Lamaze are great for entertaining your new baby;
  • Nail file - baby's nails grow incredibly fast! Even now I struggle to keep Layla's nails in order and stop her from scratching herself. I bought nail scissors and clippers but found them difficult to use due to her tiny nails and that she never kept still in order to use them safely. Instead I have used a nail file and a manicurists nail buffer to keep her nails short;
  • Nappy / Washing Bins - the number of nappies and outfits a baby goes through each day can be staggering. In order to keep things in order, we bought two simple white flip top bins - one for clothes and one for nappies that we empty each day. There are other more expensive options but this one worked for us.
I hope these suggestions help you in  preparing for the arrival of your new baby. Jas x

22 December 2010

Packing your bag for a trip like no other

There comes a time, in every pregnancy, when you realise that the little being growing inside you, has to come out. I know it seems obvious, but most women have that moment of fear. With most women choosing to give birth in a hospital, the time when you decide to pack for your trip to hospital truly cements the realisation that you will soon become a parent. 
Daniel, Layla and I in hospital - Day 1
Packing for hospital is not like packing for a holiday but rather is like packing for a career change. There are certain clothes, tools and equipment that will be necessary to make your stay comfortable and successful. Here are my tips for what to take to hospital:
  • Clothes - in most cases, you are not going to hospital because you are unwell. As such, there is no need to spend the days of your stay in your pyjamas. I remember when my Mum had my youngest sister Michelle. In those days, women spent their days in bed in their nighties. Oh how things have changed! Take enough changes of clothes for at least one fresh change per day. A couple of extra pairs of pants and tops may be needed especially if you accidentally leak during the day. Pick soft and comfy clothes that you can sleep in during the day if you get a chance to have a nap;
  • Underwear - you'll need more than one change of undies per day. Given the bleeding that occurs after birth, it's best not to take your best lacy lingerie. Much better to take some cheap, plain, black and comfy undies that can be discarded if they get stained;
  • Bras - as your milk comes in, your breasts will change. If you intend to breastfeed, you'll need a feeding bra where the bra cups can be dropped down for feeding. Getting the size right can be tricky. It may be best to take a half top style feeding bra that is comfortable to sleep in and feed in. I picked up a cheaper one from Target as well as an Elle Macpherson Maternelle bra that were really comfortable in the early days. Once your milk comes in, you may need to purchase a bra more suited;
  • Pads  - you'll need to bring sanitary pads with you. Choose the thicker maternity style pad which will offer padding if you end up having to have stitches. Bring a couple of packets with you. You should also bring some breast pads with you;
  • Toiletries - don't ask me why but I packed toiletries as if I was going on a resort holiday. Needless to say, I never got a chance to give myself a full facial! Pack the things that will make you comfortable during your stay. Most women don't wear perfume in hospital due to the sensitivity of your baby's nose and not wanting to mask your smell that the baby will come to know. Remember to take some Lansinoh with you for your nipples. Earplugs are also a good idea if you want to get some rest in a noisy shared room;
  • Slippers  - slippers are a good idea to wear around the ward. Thongs would also do;
  • Pyjamas - bring pyjamas that you can breastfeed in. There is nothing glamorous about having to strip off in a hurry to feed your crying baby in the middle of the night. Button through tops are convenient as are pyjama pants and a feeding singlet or maternity nighties like the ones sold by Loveable or Hot Milk;
  • Feeding singlets - these singlets have an inbuilt bra or support with drop down cups. They are great when you are learning to feed and are comfortable to wear without a bra either for sleep or in the early days. I swear by the Loveable Maternity Essentials range;
  • Labour bag - you may want to pack a separate bag for labour that includes snacks, stress balls, clothes to wear (like a big t-shirt), music, essential oils and camera. I also had some amazing socks from my friend Susan. They kept my feet warm as the room was heavily air conditioned and had rubber soles, great for gripping when pushing;
  • Camera and phone - to capture those precious moments;
  • Coming home - clothes for you and the baby to come home in are important. The first time I dressed Layla in her own clothes rather than the hospital nighties was a really special moment;
  • Pen and Paper - always comes in handy;
  • Panadol  - even though you are in hospital and there are plenty of drugs on hand, having your own stash of panadol comes in handy when things get busy in order to ensure you maintain some level of pain medication all the time;
  • Watch/Clock - you'll want and need to write down when you feed your new baby in the early days. Knowing what the time is at different times of the day and night is important. You can use your phone if you prefer;
  • Names list/book - if like us, you don't have names picked out, you may need to have further discussions once bubs arrives.
Leave me a comment if I have forgotten anything. Best to have your bag packed at least 4 weeks out from your due date. Personally, I left it to the last minute. Probably was due to my disbelief that I was about to have a baby!

20 December 2010

Do I Really Need to Buy All The Stuff Now? Part 1

So you've walked into the baby shop just to have a look. Everywhere you turn there are colours, shapes and interesting items you've never seen before. Lucky enough, most stores have a handy check list of all the things you'll need for baby. The problem is that the list is SO long and to purchase everything right now you'd need to stay at work for another 9 months just to save up. You ask yourself "Do I really need to buy all this stuff right now?"
Layla coming home from hospital......so little and cute!
In short the answer is NO. There is very little that you need right away when bubs arrives. I put together my basic list of things I think you need for the first few months that you should buy before bubs arrives. If you have time you may be able to hunt things down in sales or on Ebay in order to save a few dollars.
  • Sleeping :
    • Cot/bassinet - the choice of whether to have baby in a bassinet in with you or a cot in his/her own room is a very individual choice. If you go for a cot there are generally two sizes - standard and large;
    • Swaddles - whether it is muslin or a one of the new style wraps (Love Me Baby Wrap Me Up - see previous post), these are important;
    • Bedding - options include sheets, blankets and sleeping bags.
  • Changing:
    • Change table/mat - whether you chose a dedicated change table or a mat on top of a chest of drawers, having a place to change baby is important. Pay attention to the height of the change table as one that is the wrong height will place stress on your back as you spend significant time bending over. Also having a table with sides may be a bit safe as it will help prevent baby from rolling off the table;
    • Nappies/wipes/creams - very individual choice over disposable or reusable, which creams and wipes. You may change many times once bubby arrives.
  • Feeding:
    • Breast:
      • Breastfeeding pillow - while not essential can be very helpful. Make sure you take it to hospital with you when you're getting used to feeding;
      • Lansinoh - pure lanolin that you can use on your nipples while feeding without having to remove;
      • Breastpads - I like the Pidgeon disposable pads because they are thin and less noticeable under your clothes but again this is an individual choice;
      • One handed squeezable water bottle - really helpful to keep your fluids up while feeding;
      • Feeding bra - your breasts will change as your milk comes in. Initially chose a soft bra that you can feed and sleep in;
      • Feeding singlet - like one made by Loveable or Bonds are really helpful when you're in hospital and learning to feed.
    • Bottle:
      • Bottles/teats - very individual choice. I use the Tommee Tippee 'Close to Nature' range but I know many lactation consultants recommend the Pidgeon peristaltic nipples;
      • Formula - very hard to get any advice on which formula to chose. Speak to your friends and Doctor;
      • Sterilser - I have a microwave one but an electric sterilizer would be better if you regularly have to prepare bottles;
      • Bottle brush
  • Travelling
    • Car seat / capsule - I received a car seat from a friend but if you plan on having your newborn in and out of the car regularly I'd recommend a capsule. Layla hardly ever goes in the car so a car seat has been fine;
    • Pram - see my blog post. Such an individual choice depending on what and how you want to use it;
    • Nappy bag - can be expensive. I got mine online from the USA much cheaper. You can also use a large tote style bag with an organiser inside (http://www.bagorganiser.com.au/);
    • Clothes - you'll need clothes to bring baby home in. You may get clothes as gifts but if not start simple. They grown quickly and go through clothes very quickly. I preferred to have lots of white as it can be bleached very easily and always look nice. People told me not to buy 0000 clothes and go straight to 000. Problem was that Layla was a little baby who took quite some time to regain her birth weight. I think I even had a 00000 jumpsuit for the first month. Layla stayed in 0000 clothes for the first 8 weeks or so.
  • Home
    • Night light - available from hardware stores, these little lights turn on when it gets dark and are helpful for use in corridors when you're up at night. A nightlight like the Tot Spot (see earlier post) is also helpful;
    • Lamp with a dimmer switch - useful when tending to baby during the night;
    • Baby bath - I got mine off Ebay for a steal that had hardly been used. We use our bath every night as a part of our bedtime routine. Having a bath on a stand with a hose to empty the bath makes bath time easier;
    • Bath & room thermometer - Avent makes a great thermometer that can be used in the bath and also tells the room temperature. This ensures that baby is comfortable in the bath and bed;
    • Foot stool - A simple little stool from the kids department that is generally used for kids to stand on is handy to elevate your feet when feeding. I got mine from K-Mart for $10;
    • Baby towels - hooded towels are nice for babies but you can use just any towel;
    • Old fashioned cloth nappies - really helpful in cleaning up messes from nappy changes, to posset and spills;
    • Heating/Cooling - depending on the season and the temperature in your home, you may need a fan or heater to make sure your baby is comfortable;
    • Baby monitor - you only need one if your house layout is such that you can't hear the baby from other rooms;
    • Feeding chair - having the right chair to breastfeed in is really important. It is important that the back is upright, your knees are at 90 degrees and arm rests can also be important;
    • CD player - I got a cheap one with an iPod dock. It has been great to play nursery rhymes, lullabies and white noise in Layla's room right from the beginning;
    • Baby sling - my Mum bought me a sling and it became an invaluable piece of equipment to get Layla to settle on the days that seemed to never end. I'll do a post on slings soon!
I have another couple of posts in this series that I hope to put up this week. The next posts will detail what to take to hospital and some extra things to have at home when baby arrives home.

If I've forgotten anything, please feel free to add a comment to this post.

Let's talk about parenting taboos

I stumbled across this link and video today on a talk by Rufus Griscom and Alisa Volkman on parenting taboos. It is a funny and very poinent clip for all new and expectant parents on a topic many of us don't like to talk about.They expose 4 facts that parents never, ever admit -- and why they should. Funny and honest, for parents and nonparents alike.


I particularly liked Rufus' comment that becoming a parent is like getting on a plane, having packed for a trip to Europe only to find that you are actually going treking in Nepal. There is nothing wrong with treking and in fact it is a great adventure, but it isn't a trip to Europe....oh so so true!

I hope you like it as much as I did. Jas x

19 December 2010


When it comes to night time feeding, it is generally recommended to keep light and noise to a minimum so as to avoid excessive stimulation of your baby in teaching them the difference between day and night. When I was setting up Layla's nursery, I looked everywhere for a nice and affordable lamp that had a dimmer switch for use at night time waking and feeding. I had no luck and was running out of time. I set my sisters the task of helping me find the elusive lamp (we work well as a team when it comes to finding things each other needs). My sister Jacqui came to the rescue with a recommendation from a colleague.

IKEA makes a device called a DIMMA. It is a simple and cheap ($19.95) attachment that fits almost any lamp. The DIMMA allows you to dim the lamp with a simple sliding switch that can be used with your hand or your foot (great when you have your hands full with a sleeping baby).
 This simple device has been a wonderful addition to Layla's nursery and has made a huge difference. I hope you find it as useful as I have.

16 December 2010

The Things No One Told Me #2 - Milk supply

One of the key concerns of most breastfeeding mothers, is having enough milk to satisfy their baby's appetite. There are plenty of old wives tales about things to avoid in order to preserve your milk. I remember my grandfather (definately not an expert in breastfeeding) telling me that I had to make sure I didn't eat too much salt and definately not to lift my arms above my head as both things would result in the loss of my breastmilk. Needless to say, neither activities resulted in the loss of my milk.

When I went to the Doctor with Layla to have her two month immunisations, he mentioned to me that in the coming week or so I should expect to notice changes in my breasts and not to worry. He was right! From 8 weeks, your breasts may no longer feel hard and full when you're ready to feed. The reason is that feeding becomes easier and more efficient. Your breasts become softer and the 'fuller' feelings become less. These changes are normal and are not indications that your breast milk production is becoming less but rather that your breastfeeding has now been well established. Many women panic when these changes occur and think that they are losing their milk or that their supply is insufficient to sustain breastfeeding. I'm sure I must have read about these changes somewhere before Layla was born but I had forgotten. Thank goodness my Doctor had reminded me otherwise I too would have panicked. Should you have any concerns about your breastfeeding make sure you seek assistance from you Community Health Nurse, Lactation Consultant, Doctor or Breastfeeding Counsellor from the Australian Breastfeeding Association.

15 December 2010


Over the past few weeks, I have run into a number of old friends either in person or on facebook. I have been delighted to hear how many people love reading my blog! From new mums to expectant mums as well as girls who have no baby plans right now. It is so lovely to know that people actually read what I write and find it useful. You've given me a new energy injection to keep writing.
Thank you SO much. Watch this space - there's more to come.
Jas x

14 December 2010

There Are Going To Be Bad Days

Over the last week, we've had a number of bad days. I've been thinking about writing this post for the past week and contemplating what makes a day 'bad'.

Before I had Layla, I had bad days. Bad days were normally the result of a bus that didn't come on time, forgetting toiletries or clothes at home when I went to the gym, a flight being delayed on a work trip, getting an unexpected bill, having a disagreement at work, dealing with a difficult work matter or being stuck in traffic. Some of these things were caused by my actions but many things were out of my control. The things that were within my control often required better planning, more patience or acceptance that things don't always go to plan.

When Layla came along, I found out that bad days continued to exist. Bad days with a baby normally involve poor sleeping, poor eating and crying. Unlike the bad days I used to have, I often don't know why a day turns bad. Despite doing everything the books tell you or keeping to the same routine you have been following for weeks, some days things just don't work. The days you need your baby to sleep, she decides not to sleep resulting in an overtired and irritable baby. The days you need to go out and do things, she decides to sleep all day and your plans fall by the wayside. I remember hearing a podcast where an expert of sleep said that parents want their children to have their best day sleeping experiences every day. I smiled as I am one of those parents. I crave order and routine. I like to know what will happen next. I like to plan my day and week and then tick things off the list. A baby changes things......everything!

What I've realised is that when a day turns bad, it often is not bad for Layla but rather it is bad for me! I'm the one who had plans or really needed to have a sleep. I'm the one who is frustrated. I'm the one who has to rearrange my day. Layla rarely has a bad day. Sure, she may have a day when she is overtired or doesn't want to eat, but generally she is a happy child.
Layla having a wonderful time in her new play pool at home in the garden

The most important thing I have learnt is that tomorrow is another day. No matter how bad today is, tomorrow will be better. And if tomorrow is no better, then the next day will be. Some days just need to come to an end and need to be forgotten. When 5pm comes around and Layla's bedtime routine begins, I know that the difficulties, frustrations and craziness is about to end. I just need to get through feeding, bathing and bottle and then it will be 7pm and bedtime. This has always been the way. Even when Layla was very small. Sometimes it took longer to get her to sleep and I'd have to put her in the sling with me until she settled, but once she was asleep, I could put the day aside and hope tomorrow would be better. I often have to remind myself that tomorrow will be better and that all the frustration I feel is because I didn't get my way rather than Layla being to blame. Children teach you a new level of patience and acceptance. I've had many bad days over the past seven and a half months, but I wouldn't trade them for the world. The good days when Layla does something new or just cracks up laughing for no reason cancel out all the bad days and makes it all worth while.

POSTSCRIPT - After posting this blog post I was thinking about what I had written. I decided I needed to add one more point. My ability to see through the bad days now at 7+ months is very different to how I felt at 2 or 3 months. There were days when I could not see through my tears and I thought that the frustrations and sleep exhaustion would never end. There were days when no matter how sweet and cute Layla was, all I wanted to do was be somewhere else. My ability to deal with my frustrations and handle bad days with Layla have developed over time. It takes time! For new mums or expectant mums reading this post, know that the bad days do end, that things get better and that this is the hardest job you'll ever do. Hang in there and the sun will shine again! Jas x

09 December 2010

The Things No One Told Me # 1 - Day 3 Feeding Frenzy

Morning all! This series of posts is based on the things I discovered the hard way and wish someone had told me either when I was pregnant or when my baby arrived.
I read all the books and thought I was prepared.
Oh how wrong I was!

This post is dedicated to Lior and Michael who welcomed a beautiful baby boy into the world yesterday. Mazel tov!

On day 2 or 3 after you give birth, your baby gets hungry....really hungry! If you are breastfeeding, your milk is yet to come in but is on it's way. This sudden burst in hunger is due to your baby's tummy and gastro-intestinal tract now having been emptied of all the mucous and amniotic fluid that was sitting there from the womb. Your baby's stomach size also increasing in anticipation of milk feeds that are about to arrive. The feeding frenzy is the way your baby helps your milk come in in order to start your breastfeeding journey.

I'm sure I read this kind of information when I was pregnant and it was discussed in our parenting/birth classes. While I was aware, I really didn't know! When people talk of a feeding frenzy, they mean it. Your baby will want to feed every hour or two, all day AND night. By the time the morning of our fourth day arrived, I was a wreck. After a long labour and two nights of broken sleep, the feeding frenzy knocked me for six. I remember my obstetrician coming to see me the morning after our night of constant snacking. I told her that if Layla wasn't so cute, at that stage I was ready to give her back (oy, if I only knew then what was to come)!

So what can you do in order to prepare? Ultimately, what your baby is doing is helping you (as ridiculous as that may seem). The constant sucking is what helps bring your milk in. There may be no way for you to be well rested before the feeding frenzy begins nor to hold off feeding in order for you to rest. I found that having my Mum or husband there to take the baby out of the room and walk her while I rested and slept even for 1 hour made a big different. Babies are very noisy sleepers and as a new Mum your ears are tuned to react to every little noise they make. By not having them in the room even for 1 hour, you may be able to recoup a little bit of sleep before the next feed. The feeding frenzy also has a tendency to cause grazed nipples. Constant feeding and poor attachment when you're really tired can do serious damage to your nipples. All I can recommend is to attend the breastfeeding classes offered in hospital, get the hospital lactation consultant to see you and apply lansinoh after EVERY feed.

Seven months on and I still remember the feeding frenzy with vivid memory. Even at the time I recall thinking "Why didn't anyone tell me about this?"

Good luck !

07 December 2010

All the stuff you need to carry

Before Layla, I could easily just grab my wallet, phone and keys and walk out the door. These days, I feel like I'm moving house every time I go out for a walk. My baby bag is always overflowing with 'just in case of emergency stuff. Now that Layla has started solids, I also have to pack an ever increasing number of snacks to keep her occupied and satisfied.

When it comes to baby bags, the variety and price ranges are extensive. You don't want a bag that's too small or otherwise you'll never fit the things you need. You also don't want a bag that's too big or you'll find it weighs down your pram and you can't find anything. Here are a few ideas on nappy bags:
  • I bought my Skip Hop bag online from the USA. It retailed here for $150+ and I managed to get it for under $US60 delivered. Try the USA based online retailers. Either have it shipped directly or use www.hopshopgo.com for easy and cheap delivery;
  • Forget a dedicated baby bag. You can use any large bag as a baby bag. I great idea is to use a fun tote. My hugely talented sister Michelle makes and sells stunning cotton totes that are machine washable and very practical. Check out her range at www.bundarra.etsy.com. Here are a few of her current range. I love them all and wish I had them all hanging in my wardrobe to match my daily outfit and mood;
Japanese Flower Tote                      
  • If you want to use a tote or large bag, getting a bag organiser can be helpful. Have a look at www.bagorganiser.com.au and check out the caddy which would work really well in a tote. The caddy ensures you can find your baby essentials without having to rifle through things creating a huge disorganised mess;

  • Another idea is to carry a zippered pouch with the essential nappy changing things (nappy, wipes, creams) inside your nappy bag that can easily be transferred into your handbag or pram for quick outings.
Happy travels!

06 December 2010

Love it, Love it - Dinky Kids Portable Highchair

The world of solid foods is both exciting and so very very messy. Whereas I used to complain about breastfeeding in public, feeding solids (or should I say mush) when not at home is also a challenge. Not everywhere has highchairs and trying to hold a 7 month old while feeding her is near impossible.

Here is a product I found which is just so very great. The Dinky Kids Portable Highchair is a restraint that attaches to most chairs and acts as a super compact highchair. Made of cotton, it is easily washed and folds up into a tiny bag that will fit inside your nappy bag.

I bought mine on ebay (new) from Dinky Kids for $18 and have since seen similar styles from other conpanies both online and in baby stores (for a lot more). This style appealed because it had shoulder straps in order to restain any baby keen on moving. I used mine just the other day when I was out having coffee with my sister. Layla didn't want to sit in her pram but rather wanted to join the ladies for tea! This way, she was able to sit with us, safely on a chair and enjoy her snacks while we chatted....perfect!

The Dinky Kids Portable Highchair is suitable from 6months old assuming the baby is able to sit by herself unsupported.

02 December 2010

Could we pop over? Dealing with visitors at home

This post is both for new and expectant parents as well as all the well meaning friends/family who ask to drop in to see you and the new baby.

If, like me, you restricted the number of visitors you had in hospital following the birth of your baby, then once you go home, people will want to come over to see you. Having visitors can be a bitter sweet experience. While on one hand you want to show off your bub and see your friends, you also would like to be sleeping when the baby is sleeping rather than entertaining. Here are a few tips on having visitors over once you go home from hospital.

  • Picking a time can be difficult as initially you won't know when the baby will be awake or asleep. Pick a time but don't be afraid to change the time if it does not suit;
  • If you've had a bad nights sleep, there is no harm in rescheduling visitors;
  • Don't be shy to excuse yourself in order to go to sleep while your visitors are over. If your partner is there, he/she can keep entertaining the guests. If you are alone, don't be embarrassed to ask them to leave (in the nicest possible way);
  • Try to keep visits short where possible;
  • There should be no pressure to hand the baby around for cuddles. Especially with your first baby you may not feel comfortable in playing pass the parcel. If someone asks and you would rather not, just tell them that the baby is due for a feed shortly and is likely to get grumpy if passed around;
  • Ask all visitors to wash their hands when they arrive in order to minimise germs being passed onto your little bundle;
  • If someone arrives to visit and they are unwell in any way, don't feel shy to ask them to come back when they are better. The last thing you need is a sick baby.
Here are a few tips for visitors:
  • Don't come empty handed. While a gift for the baby is always welcomed, bring some food for the parents. This may be dinner, lunch, a snack. You may even wish to bring a bag of fruit and veges. Bring some sushi or fruit salad and yoghurt, some nuts or cake;
  • Don't come and expect to be entertained. If you see something that needs to be done, do it! Wash some dishes, fold some washing, hang out wet washing, take out the garbage;
  • Don't stay long. Limit your visit to 1/2 hour in order to avoid being asked to leave or overstaying your welcome;
  • Make a meal and drop it off to the new family without staying. A call or SMS to notify that you have dropped dinner at their front door is normally enough;
  • Call before you come to visit. Even if plans have been set, a quick call before you leave home will help;
  • If the new parents make you food (coffee, tea, cake) wash your own dishes or offer to help tidy up. I always said no when people offered but secretly wished they would have done so;
  • Call or SMS to check how the new parents are going. Don't expect them to answer the phone, return the message or SMS. Just knowing people are checking up on you is the nicest thing.
I'm sure there are more things I could add but I'll leave it to you to add your thoughts and comments. Just remember that a cute little baby is a handful of work. Entertaining visitors once your baby arrives can be a difficult task. Be kind to yourself and remember that your health and well being come first. As for well meaning friends/family, think of how your visit can help the family in order to make the experience a good one.

26 November 2010

It's 3am, baby's crying/feeding again, no one is awake, what do I do?

The hours between 2am and 4am are very lonely hours. Prior to having a baby, I used to spend those hours sleeping or in my much younger years out on the town (aaahhh!).

While some babies bless their parents by sleeping through from an early age, many (inlcuding mine) do not. Being up at all hours of the night to feed and resettle can be difficult, if not soul destroying. There was many a time when I found myself sitting up to feed Layla, in the winter night cold, feeling very low and sad.

When would she sleep through?
Why was she awake?
Was she really hungry?
 How long would she feed for?
Will I be able to get back to sleep?
When will she wake again?
Is this normal?

All the sleepless nights were well worth it!
I found that having someone to talk to provided comfort and reassurance. I used to SMS other new Mums at all hours as I knew that they'd be up struggling with the same issues. Other than your late night Mummy friends, there are a number of 24-hour help lines that operate in Australia, especially designed to help parents just like you. It is ok to cry to them, ask the burning and sometimes silly questions and seek support. Receiving conflicting advice can be very difficult when your baby is small and for this reason, it is important to remember that you are the expert on your child. The people on the end of the line may have some helpful advice and can offer support when everyone else is asleep. The numbers can be found on the back of your blue book but I've included them here as well:

Karitane Mothercraft Society   1300 CARING (1300 227 464)

Tressilian Family Care Centre   1800 637 357 (Sydney metro area 02 9787 0855

Australian Breastfeeding Association 1800 MUM 2 MUM (1800 686 2 686) [Optus phones drop the final 6] . This help line is manned by breastfeeding counsellors who are breastfeeding Mums. They operate 24 hours a day and are happy to take calls during the night. Given that they are also Mums, it's a good idea not to call them in the middle of the night to ask a question that could wait until the day.

Tressilian also now offers an online live help service (Tressilian Live Advice) through Facebook. Search for Tressilian Live Advice and add the application to your Facebook page. The service is only available during the day but can be very good for gaining advice when your baby is asleep and you want to keep things quiet.

25 November 2010

Getting to do the simplest things

It is truly amazing to realise how much time it takes to care for a baby. From feeding to changing, nappies to settling, all the free time you once had seems to disappear. Trying to get the simplest things done can be a monumental challenge. Here are a few tips on using your time effectively in order to get the simplest things done:
  • As soon as baby goes down for her first sleep on the day, brush your teeth. I know this sounds like no big deal but time can easily slip away before you realise it's 2pm and you have not got around to brushing;
  • A friend with 5 children (soon to be 6!) once told me that you need too get dressed as soon as possible after waking. This applies even if you plan on going back to bed when baby sleeps. It seems strange to dress and then get back into bed, but it can be done. This way you'll be ready for visitors or getting out of the house at a moments notice;
  • It is never too early to start making dinner. Meal preparation needs to be broken down into small disjointed steps so that you can stop and start when you have time. Dealing with onions and garlic first thing in the morning can be a little tough but so can soiled nappies. You'll get used to it!;
  • Make double portion meals. It takes no additional time to cook double quantities but will save you cooking tomorrow. If you're not into leftovers, you can always freeze the additional food for next week;
  • Invest in a slow cooker. There are heaps of easy and quick recipes for slow coookers that can be put on first thing in the morning with nothing further to do until you sit down for dinner that night;
  • I always used to shower in the mornings before heading off to work. Since Layla's arrival, I've switched to night time showers. I find that if I shower after she goes to sleep, I can take my time and enjoy some relaxing 'me' time before bed;
  • Lists, lists, lists. Sleep deprivation has a nasty effect on your memory. Start making lists so that your remember the things you need to do. Position paper and pen in a number of locations (kitchen, baby's room, next to your bed, next to where you feed) so you can always jot down ideas or things to remember wherever you are;
  • An oldie but a goodie is to sleep/rest when baby sleeps. It can be hard and frustrating to get into bed, be falling asleep and then be woken by a crying baby but anytime you can find that allows you to rest (and hopefully sleep) is well worth it.
I'm sure there are plenty of tips from other Mummies on how to get the simplest things done. Post a comment to share your tips.

24 November 2010

Love it , Love it - Love Me Baby Wrap Me Up

We all know the importance of swaddling a newborn baby. By wrapping a new bub, it makes her feel secure as if she was still in the womb. A problem arises when hands get lose or your baby does not want to cooperate during the wrapping process. This is where this amazing product comes in handy.

The Love Me Baby Wrap Me Up is a fantastic swaddle solution that ensures your baby stays swaddled when sleeping. Layla slept in hers every day and night until she was 5 months old when I stopped swaddling her. She knew that when I put her in the Wrap Me Up, it was bed time. They wash and dry easily and also allow for baby to go into her car seat without having to take off the wrap. I love them so much that they have become a staple gift for all my friends with new babies. I would have been lost without the Wrap Me Up. I have piles of muslin wraps that I never used as nothing was as effective. I tried other swaddle solutions but found this to be the best.

Love Me Baby - Wrap Me Up

Their website blurb explains everything....

"WRAP ME UP is the original & innovative first swaddle, that allows your baby to sleep in their natural position, with their arms up.

When swaddling, don’t deprive your baby of access to their hands. Swaddled babies who have access to their hands can settle better and sleep longer

Super fast and easy to use. Most importantly WRAP ME UP helps your baby stays wrapped all night long! Even dad will be a wrap expert!"

Love Me Baby has just released a new Organic Wrap Me Up in white and beige (so chic!) and has announced that as of 14th December 2010, a new version of the Wrap Me Up will be available in stores. The 50/50 will have removeable 'wings' so that you can transition your baby out of the swaddle into a sleeping bag....brilliant!

16 November 2010

Hospital Visitors

Many years ago, I used to get very excited about going to visit friends in hospital after the arrival of their new baby. It seemed like such a privilage to be able to see this new little life. What would it look like? Who would it look like? Would it be awake or asleep? Would I get to have a cuddle? What should I take - gifts or food? Then one day my opinion of hospital visits changed forever.

We went to see one of my husband's cousins shortly after the birth of her first son. When we arrived, we were excited to learn that another one of his cousins had also recently given birth and was in the same hospital. What luck - two babies in one visit! We proceeded to find the cousin and surprise them with a visit. We knocked on the door and went in. What we saw next changed my mind forever about hospital visits. There she was, sitting on the bed looking exhausted. Her new baby son was hungry and crying for food. She was trying to breastfeed this tiny new baby and was having no luck. There she was with her boobs hanging out, red eyes from crying, a screaming child. Her husband also looked like he had been hit by a truck and had been lying on the floor trying to get some rest when we arrived. It was at that point that I realised the time a women has in hospital after giving birth is a private and important time. It is a time to start bonding with her baby, a time to learn about breastfeeding and a time for parents to come to terms with their new role. I also realised that my insatable need to visit was all about what I wanted and not much about what was best for the new Mum.

When Layla arrived, Daniel and I had already decided not to have visitors. We restricted visitors to immediate family only. Within half an hour of giving birth, I had 8 family members plus Daniel, Layla and I in the delivery suite....wow....full on! By day two of just family visiting, I said enough. My room was very small and I became overwhelmed with all the people coming and going. In the end I further restricted my visitors to by husband and my Mum.

Layla (2 days old) deep in thought

Always remember why you are in hospital. You are there to rest and recouperate, to learn how to establish breastfeeding and bond with your child. You're not there to entertain. If you were, we would give birth in a restaurant or function centre!

The decision as to whether to have visitors or not is a very individual one. With the joys of modern technology, an SMS and email can be sent with photos of your new arrival which should satisfy many. Over time when you are feeling up to it, you can have visitors pop round to see you at home. I know of some women who prefer to have all of their visitors in the hospital so that when they get home they can restrict guests. No matter which you chose, remember to make your decision based on what is best for you. Everyone else will understand. There is no shame is saying "sorry, no visitors". It is very important that you learn early on how to put your needs first at this time. Make sure to discuss what you want to do about visitors before you give birth so that you can advise family and friends in advance.

15 November 2010

All the things you're not supposed to do

It's amazing how many things you are not supposed to do with a new baby. The books, professionals and experts all advise on the things you should not do. This list includes some of the following:
  • don't rock your baby to sleep as they'll become dependant on you;
  • don't offer a dummy as it acts as a sleep crutch and will prevent self settling;
  • don't breastfeed your baby to sleep as he/she will only ever be able to go to sleep this way;
  • don't take a baby to bed with you as you may roll on top of the baby and suffocate it;
  • don't leave a baby to cry as it will have long term negative effects on it's emotional development;
  • don't go to your baby when it cries straight away as he/she will learn that you'll always come running;
  • a baby should not need to be fed more than X number of times in a day or before every 2/3/4 etc hours.
What you realise once your baby comes along is that you need to do what you need to do in order to survive. Forget the things you're not supposed to do. Rocking your baby to sleep or breastfeeding to sleep so that you too can get some sleep is not a bad thing. Giving a sucky baby a dummy will not be the end of the world. Doing these things now and then will not form a habit. Even if a habit is formed, babies are amazing at being able to change their habits with a little guidance and training from you.

Remember, you're not being marked on this assignment. It's ok to do things in order to get through the tough times. When you are less tired then you can confront any issues and make changes. Until then, just do what you have to do that is right for you and your baby.

12 November 2010

The exciting journey into first foods

Over the last month or so, Layla and I have started the exciting journey into first foods. I remember receiving bibs and cutlery as baby gifts when Layla was born and thinking that the introduction of solids would be a long way away. In less than the blink of an eye, here we are with solid foods featuring in our everyday routine.

Layla (7 weeks) blissed out after a breastfeed. The thought of solids was a long way away.
 Good quality wholefoods have always featured as an important part of my shopping and cooking vision. Creating fun, wholesome and low GI food has been a guiding principle for me since I established my own home. I've always seen cooking as one of my creative outlets even when my energy levels faulted. As a kid, my Mum always made sure we ate good food and the evening meal was family time together. Most nights we ate as a family on the kitchen bench, discussing the adventures of the day and bonding as a family. Meals were always diverse in flavour and origin. We were encouraged to try new things and get involved in food preparation. Now that I'm faced with raising my own child, I want to make sure that meal times are fun and healthy creating a wonderful start in life.

I must admit that when Layla was born I had given very little thought to what I would feed her. I assumed that I'd follow my general food principles. What has become apparent is that a child's tastes are formed during the first years of their lives. As such the example we set as parents is oh so important. For that reason, we have decided to avoid added sugars and salts as well as junk foods from Layla's diet for as long as possible. I cook most of our meals at home and only rarely do we eat out or get take away. As such the next logical step for us was for me to prepare Layla's meals rather than resorting to commercially prepared foods.

Preparing baby food has come along way from rice cerial and mashed bananas. Our freezer is filled with ice cubes of amazingly diverse foods that Layla is enjoying and I am taking pleasure in seeing her explore good food. Here is how I got started:
  • My friend Alizah sent me a great book by Annabel Karmel that has really helped with the introduction of solids, helped me get creative and understand how to move into this new world. Her book "New Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner" features over 200 quick, easy and healthy recipes for your baby. Great baby gift that is much more helpful than another jumpsuit! In addition, her website http://www.annabelkarmel.com/ has heaps of great recipes and ideas;
  • My former colleague and good friend Susan has a wonderful blog called My Little Yummy Tummies (http://www.mylittleyummytummies.blogspot.com/) where she features fantastic recipes for not only kids but the whole family. Her recipes are easy and healthy, avoiding additives and preservatives;
  • I listened to a wonderful podcast from New Moms, New Babies which featured a woman from the USA based organic food company Happy Baby Foods (http://www.happybabyfood.com/). She discussed how to make your own home made baby foods. I then went onto their website to see what food combinations they had which in turn got my mind racing. Some of the combinations they inspired include sweet potato and pear as well as spinach, mango and pear. Both have become Layla's favourites;
  • The website www.homemade-baby-food-recipes.com/ has also provided me with great ideas and recipes as well as www.kidspot.com.au/best-recipes ;
  • www.wholesomebabyfood.com/ is a great site that considers all different types of foods, when to introduce them, how to prepare them, the nutritional benefits as well as recipes for each food type;
  • I looked at the range of foods from Organic Bubs (http://www.organicbubs.com/) for ideas on what foods to combine in making interesting and healthy food for Layla. Their range is really interesting and fun. They have a e-newsletter available on their website that features great information on meals and nutrition;
  • Another great podcast from New Moms, New Babies discussed the idea of baby led weaning where instead of giving babies purees, they are given real whole food to experiment with and learn about. Since milk still provides babies with most of their nutritional needs during their first year, by letting babies experiment with food they self feed from an early age developing a better understanding of food. I was so interested that I bought the book! It arrived today and can't wait to get into it. Details of the approach can be found at http://www.baby-led.com/. Download their free booklet on how to let your child dictate their first introduction to food [www.baby-led.rhgdsrv.co.uk/pdf/blwleaflet.pdf ] . I've started by giving Layla wholemeal toast in the morning as a part of her breakfast as well as apple and carrots to gnaw on before her teeth break through.
So far our journey into first foods is going well. Everyday is a new adventure. What is most important is that we're having fun as you can see from the photos!

Layla at 6 1/2 months loving her dinner and enjoying helping to feed herself
I hope the resources in this post help to get you started. Making baby food is not only healthy, but it's fun, easy and much cheaper than buying commercially available products. This way you know exactly what your baby is eating and it helps you shape their tastes and palette for life.

11 November 2010

No Outfit Is Complete Without a Handbag

Many of us know that a great handbag can complete an outfit. A handbag is also of great value to make sure that you have all of your necessary goodies with you when you need them. Like any other young lady, Layla never leaves home without her handbag.

Layla's handbag full of her essential travel goodies
 My wonderfully creative sister Jacqui made Layla a small drawstring bag from super cute teddy bear fabric that has become known as her 'handbag'. This special little handbag accompanies Layla in her pram wherever we go. Since we live close by to a major shopping district, we tend to walk rather than take the car. As such, Layla spends plenty of time in her pram and needs to have her special things on hand. Her handbag is filled with all of her essential travel goodies - dummy, rattles, teething rings and rusks as well as her favourite 'hello' book. The handbag's drawstring ribbon also provides hours of enjoyment!

Layla's handbag is packed and ready to go!
 Drawstring bags are easy to find in shops like Mr. Tablecloth or from sellers on http://www.etsy.com/ at reasonable prices. By having such a bag filled with baby's special things, I never find myself out without an essential item. The bag stays in the pram and is always ready to go. Layla has learnt how to help herself to her goodies and looks to make sure her handbag is with her whenever we head out.

Why not put together a handbag for your little person and make sure you're never caught without essential entertainment when you're away from home.

10 November 2010

The Battle to Breastfeed....Are You Ready?

I'm yet to meet a Mother who does not want the best for her child. Most pregnant women I know want and plan to breastfeed their babies. The natural process of breastfeeding is rarely discussed by professionals during pregnancy with few first time mothers really understanding the demands that breastfeeding will place on her emotionally and physically. Dealing with changes in hormones, exhaustion from labour and the exhilaration of becoming a Mother is overwhelming enough without adding the additional demands of needing to establish breastfeeding.

Layla (4 days old) and I. Both of us looking a bit tired and worn out already!

While breastfeeding is the natural way to suckle a child, it needs to be learnt by both Mum and Bub. This can take time, trial and error. The days spent in hospital are supposed to be spent learning the fine art but in all honesty there is not enough time to truly get the hang of it. From cracked and grazed nipples to engorgement and leaking as well as attachment issues, the art of breastfeeding is not always glamorous. Having your breasts exposed while a nurse tweaks, pushes and prods is a unique and not always welcomed experience. Many women are unable to breastfeed or find it all too hard ted to switch to formula before the WHO recommended 6 month mark. There was many a time when I too felt like throwing in the towel. I'm not going to bore you with the details of my ordeal (yes it has been an ordeal) but I will say that 6 months on, we are still feeding and finally enjoying the experience.

When I first started to have feeding issues I was shocked and amazed at how many women disclosed the problems they had had once I started to discuss my dramas. Breatsfeeding is emotionally and physically draining yet the demands of breastfeeding are rarely discussed with expectant mothers. Why is it that breastfeeding problems are kept such a secret?

If you are pregnant and wish to breastfeed, here are some tips to help you prepare for the 'challenge':
  • Attend a breastfeeding class while you are pregnant. We had a small component of our parenting classes devoted to breastfeeding but it was not nearly enough. Most hospitals run classes as well as the Australian Breastfeeding Association. HIghly recommended;
  • Find the name of a good lactation consultant and have the number handy for when you go home. Some LC also run classes for pregnant women;
  • Find out whether there is a community lactation consulant (read 'free') in your area that you can drop into see either at the hospital or your Early Childhood Centre;
  • Join the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA). They do great work and can offer a lot of assistance. They have also have a free support line manned by Breastfeeding Counsellors who are also breastfeeding Mums - 1800 MUM 2 MUM / 1800 686 2 686 (Optus phone lines drop the last '6');
  • The ABA has a great online breastfeeding forum which is a really good place to discuss breastfeeding issues;
  • Take a tube of Lansinoh cream with you to hospital. This pure lanolin cream is essential for maintaining good nipple condition and is safe to have on your nipples while breastfeeding;
  • Buy a breastfeeding pillow and take it to hospital with you;
  • Discuss breastfeeding with your partner and family.Make sure they are supportive as you will need their support when and if the going gets tough;
  • Put some disposible nappies that have been wet lightly into the freezer. They will act as wonderful cold packs on your breasts when your milk is coming in and if you run into any pain issues;
  • Buy a wheat pack that can be heated in the microwave as heat can be important in helping the milk let down;
  • Buy a squeezy water bottle that you can operate with one hand. It's important to drink plenty of water while feeding. Having a bottle you can sqeeze and not having to fiddle around with lids can be really helpful;
  • Make sure you have a good chair to feed in. You'll be spending a lot of time in the chair so make sure it works. The back needs to be upright and arm rests can be really helpful;
  • Get a small foot stool. I got a plastic one from K-Mart kids department that is normally used for kids to stand on while they brush their teeth. The foot stool will let you elevate your feet and knees which helps with positioning and attachment, especially in the early days.
Breastfeeding can be both a wonderful and an awful experience. While things have now settled down for me, some of my darkest days were due to feeding problems. Ultimately I was not prepared for what was involved and hope to spare others the problems I had. Saying that, I also have a number of friends who have had no problems at all with feeding. Good luck with your breastfeeding journey - I hope it is a wonderful bonding experience for you and your child.

09 November 2010

Love it, Love it - Totspot

As a new parent, I have and continue to spend a lot of time awake during the middle of the night. Whether it is searching for lost dummies or checking if the baby is asleep, fumbling around in the dark is neither fun nor glamorous.

I received this gem of a freebie with an order from Nursing Angel (http://www.nursingangel.com.au/) last year and almost threw it out without realising its value. The Totspot is a non-invasive LED light that won't wake a sleeping baby. It can be clipped onto your top so that you can attend to the baby and see what you're doing all at the same time. The light has a rotating pivot head so that you can position the light away from sleepy eyes - both yours and bubs.

The Totspot is currently on sale for $9.95 from Nursing Angel and is a must for new or expectant parents. http://www.nursingangel.com.au/p/510310/totspot-portable-night-light---clearance.html

I leave mine on the bookshelf at the entrance to Layla's room so that it's handy at any time in the night. It's funny how something so small can be such a big help. Love it, Love it!!

08 November 2010

Made by hand with love

It could be said that your baby was hand made with love by you.

Freshly Made - Layla (4 days old)
While there are an endless number of fantastic and beautiful childrens products available, nothing really beats a hand made product, individually made with love. It can be difficult to find such beautiful things unless you know where to look. I am blessed to have very creative sisters and a fabulously creative Mum. Layla is a very lucky girl to have received stunning handmade toys, a quit, clothes and a wardrobe full of funky and cute knitwear.

Me (8 months pregnant with Layla), my Mum and my sister Jacqui at one of my Mum's Shnookies Knitwear Parties
Layla (6 months) sporting a new stunning knitted vest courtesy of my super talented & creative Mum
If you're looking for where you can find beautiful hand made creations for your hand made creation take a look at:

http://www.etsy.com/   : US and global sellers of hand made goods and supplies;
http://www.madeit.com.au/ : Australian based sellers of hand made things;
http://www.mathildasmarket.com.au/ : markets that only sell hand made goods. They are on facebook and will send you updates on their next markets. My Mum hopes to feature her Shnookies knitwear at the markets in 2011 (http://www.babyshnookies.blogspot.com/ ). Very exciting!

Layla (5 months) - the Shnookies Supermodel!
Where do you like to buy special hand made goodies from for your little ones? Leave a comment and share your secrets.

07 November 2010

Things to do just before baby comes

Most women realise the value of stopping work a few weeks before their baby is due. Whether it is due to exhaustion, pain or legislative requirements, the break is usually welcomed. If you're anything like me, I was hanging out for the break and then bored 5 minutes after it started! I ended up running around doing so many things that I really did not rest enough. Oh how I long for those days of being able to sleep in, take an afternoon nap and just dream the day away.

Pregnant with Layla - 34 weeks
 Anyway, if I had my time again these are the things I would do just prior to bubby's arrival:
  • Have a hair cut, colour, waxing, facial, manicure/pedicure, massage and any other beauty treatment you usually indulge in;
  • Make time to see your friends for a quick catch up;
  • Stock the freezer with a few emergency meals;
  • Speak to your friends to work out who can and will cook you a meal in an emergency (actually forget the emergency. just cook for you!);
  • Buy a new pair of running/walking shoes. This will be great motivation to get you out of the house and walking;
  • Finish organising the baby's room, your hospital bag and a bag for the baby with stuff you'll need to bring him/her home;
  • Spend some quality time with your partner. Go for dinner, movies, a walk. Make special time;
  • Buy any gifts and cards for up coming birthdays in advance to save on worrying about these things;
  • Attend a breastfeeding class at the hospital, with a lactation consultant or the Australian Breastfeeding Association;
  • Have some nice photos taken of you with a very pregnant belly. It won't take long before you forget how you looked. Even if you are huge, swollen, tired and generally not looking your best, you will treasure these photos in years to come;
  • Try to have an afternoon nap EVERYDAY. You never know if you'll go into labour in the middle of the night or have a long labour. Make sure you are well rested.

Me pregnant at 38 weeks with my sisters Jacqui (centre) and Michelle (right)

What other things would you recommend? Leave me a comment to help expectant Mums.

05 November 2010

Does this baby come with an instruction manual?

My Mum has always said that children don't come with an instruction manual. If this is true, then why are there SO many books written about babies and children?

When I first found out I was pregnant I remember going to Borders and standing in the pregnancy and new baby section. I was gobsmacked as to the number and variety of books. I remember leaving empty handed and completely confused. When I told Mum of the pregnancy, she instantly went out and bought half the books on display at Borders that had bamboozled me! I read all of the books she bought (plus the ones I subsequently bought) and began to study up on the little being growing inside me. As my pregnancy continued, I started buying baby books in anticipation of the imminent arrival. Again, I started reading and getting ready for Layla's arrival. Given my academic and professional background, I was following the logical path of studying before commencing any new challenge. I wanted to be ready, to know what to expect, be 'fit' for the race I was about to run. Despite all my reading, I still have and continue to come across challenges that no book has prepared me for.

A small selection of my baby & pregnancy books

I recently asked my wonderful Mummy friends to tell me about their favourite Mummy things so that I could include them on my blog. My friend Deb gave birth to the gorgeous baby Ava 7 weeks after Layla's arrival. Deb's advice was not to read all the baby books. She says:
"I would suggest to new parents not to read all the textbooks!
You learn more about parenthood through experience, trial & error than getting frazzled about what the textbooks say you should be doing. Stay cool and go with the flow

I completely agree with Deb's comments but that did not and has not stopped me from regularly buying and reading baby books. Ultimately the books are only advice and opinion. As per my post on being an expert, you are the ultimate expert on your child not the author of the book you just read. The books nevertheless provide you with guidance, ideas, solutions and confusion that are all necessary on this journey. When you are at your whits end having tried EVERYTHING, it is only natural to seek information that may work and end the nightmare.

Given my extensive library, I thought I'd share with you my favourite books that I regularly consult:
1. General : Baby Love by Robyn Barker. Great overall guide reference book.
2. Routine: Save Our Sleep by Tizzie Hall. If you think you want to do the whole routine thing, this is a good place to start. It is less intense than Gina Ford's books but follows a similar theme. Remember your baby is not a robot and may not conform to the prescribed routine. The book will help you get organised and figure out how to structure your day;
3. Development: The Wonder Weeks by Hetty van de Rijt, Ph.D. and Frans Plooij, Ph.D. (see previous post - LOVE IT!)
4. Labour: Birth Skills by Juju Sundin & Sarah Murdoch. Great book to prepare you for labour. It's hard to know what labour will be like and what to do. This book is a great guide and really helpful for natural birth (with or without drugs);
5. Food: New Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner by Annabel Karmel. A gift from my friend Alizah that has been fantastic in the past month.

Given my appetite for books, I have found that http://www.booko.com.au/ is a wonderful way to find the cheapest price for books from across the world.

Got  favourite book? Have an opinion on baby/pregnancy books? Leave me a comment and share your thoughts.

04 November 2010

What Really Makes An Expert?

[This post is for a pregnant friend you was bamboozled by an expert yesterday and is stressing]

When I was pregnant I began to realise that there is an excessive amount of information available about babies.

Whether it was books, blogs, shops, pamphlets, goods or services, the baby industry is massive.
As my pregnancy progressed and since Layla's arrival, I have read countless books on babies and children (I have a blog post coming on books!). Many of these books are written by so called EXPERTS. Their expertise is drawn from the medical profession, their own children or their years of helping parents in need. Many offered helpful advice, conflicting information, scary consequences and more knowledge than I could process based on their expertise. When things went 'wrong', I was the first to turn to the expert lactation consultants, mothercraft nurses, parents help lines, authors or doctors for the answer.

Layla with her books - aged 4 months
 What I have now come to realise is than I AM THE EXPERT on my child. I spend more time than anyone else with her. We have been practically inseparable since conception. All the information out there is great advice but deep down no one knows your child like you. Read everything, listen to everyone, seek advice and then make your own decision on what is best for your child. Don't doubt yourself. Even on the day you give birth to your child remember YOU are the mother and YOU are the expert.

The Sound of Silence

Getting and keeping a baby asleep becomes an obsession for most new parents. Whether it is lighting, temperature or noise, there is a strong focus on making the environment conducive to sleep. Perhaps it is sleep deprivation sending us around the twist that makes this focus so intense.
Layla (2 days old) asleep with Daniel in hospital

When it comes to noise, the pursuit of silence is often misguided. Babies are used to hearing and sleeping with a range of noises while in utero rather than in complete silence that as adults we often crave. One of the most annoying noises to an adult is that of radio static. You know the one where you have not properly tuned the radio and a hissing noise is heard. Amazingly this static sound is wonderfully calming for babies especially when they are distraught and inconsolable. This kind of noise is often referred to as 'white noise'. White noise helps to block out general noise like traffic, construction and gardening noise that always seems to start just as you go to put your baby down for a sleep.

There are countless CD's, iPhone apps and MP3 player downloads available featuring white noise to help your baby sleep. The one I found that really worked features white noise with a faint heartbeat in the background that emulates the sounds of the womb. The track can be downloaded for FREE from this link...

I burned the track multiple times onto a CD so that it ran for a couple of hours...worked a treat!

Have you had success with using white noise to help your baby sleep? Share your experiences by leaving a comment.

03 November 2010

But darling, I never pay retail!

Let's face it, kids stuff is CUTE! There are amazing things available for babies and children. There are more things than you'll ever need, you'll ever be able to use or you can afford to buy. That won't stop you wanting to shop! The good part is that many, if most, things you can pick up online are far cheaper than retail. If you're into bargain shopping (like me!), here are a few ideas:

1. Sign up for sale email notifications. Here are a few links to get you started:

2. Find out if your local baby shop has a discount or loyaly program. For example Baby Bunting gives 5% discount if you join their loyalty program. Baby Village in Bondi Junction gives you a $30 discount after you've spent $300.

3. Ebay is your friend! Ebay can offer you many alternatives.
  • Many ebay stores sell baby stuff for cheaper than retail. I bought my Phillips Avent Baby Monitor brand new for a fraction of the RRP;
  • People sell unwanted gifts on ebay. I found my Baby Bjorn really cheap. It was a brand new unwanted gift still in the box;
  • I'm generally not a lover of used goods especially when it comes to baby things. However there are some exceptions. I bought our baby bath and stand on ebay for $25 instead of over $100. BARGAIN!!
4. Shopping in the USA is way cheaper than here. The variety, prices & sales far exceed what you can find locally. Many sites now ship to Australia and even with the shipping costs, things often work out cheaper. If a site won't ship to Australia, USA based freight forwarders will send things onto you in Australia for reasonable shipping charges. Check out http://www.hopshop.go.com/ or http://www.ishop-america.com/ .

Layla looking adorable in some of the clothes I bought online from GAP in the USA

5. Find baby good sellers on Facebook and either join or like their pages. This will mean you'll be notified of pop up sales and great opportunities. Purebaby has a Friday Facebook sale each week with great bargains.

Happy shopping !