Monday, 31 December 2012

Apps to track weight loss (or gain!)

I do love a good app, especially if it's free. To help me get on track for my healthy (well healthier) January as part of Operation Mojo I thought I would check out some of the free apps for iPhone that help monitor weight loss.

My Criteria

  • It must be free (currently)
  • It must be an iPhone app as I have an iPhone 5 and I want to quickly record info on the go
  • It must allow me to enter my weight each day
  • It must plot the information on a graph- because I like a visual of how I'm doing
  • I don't want to record calorie intake or what exercise I am doing so I haven't looked at apps where you can enter that additional information


(In the order I downloaded them)

BMI Buddy by AppManimal.com 1/5

Highs
  • You can record lots of measurements, but not measurements I am interested in (not sure where I would measure my abdomen for instance and I don't know what my subscapular is)
  • Graphs plot BMI and caliper measurements against time
  • Male friendly
Lows
  • Designed for personal trainers to keep track of their clients, so less suited to individuals (unless you happen to have a pair of calipers).
  • You can only enter whole kg (or lbs)
Monitor Your Weight by Husain Al-Bustan 4/5

Highs
  • Allows you to enter a Start Date and Start weight so you can start using the app after to you have already started to change shape and still show total loss (or gain)
  • Suggests ideal weight and a target date, but you can overwrite these (which is handy because I know I can't eat and maintain the weight it suggested for me).
  • It suggests the amount of calories you use per day based on your life style and weight/ height
  • It has a good summary page including how close you are to your goal weight and time as well as average daily and weekly loss
  • It doesn't have adverts (currently)
  • The graph shows baseline and actual weight
  • It has a handy in app help section
  • You can track multiple people
  • You can export your entries via email, good for back up
Lows
  • You can't record measurements

Weight Recorder by Travis Luke My Rating 3/5

Highs
  • You can import and export data
  • It will automatically calculate your percentage body fat from your bmi or from key measurements
  • You choose for the graph to show Weight, BMI, Body fat or waist measurements
  • No Adverts
Lows
  • You can't enter targets

BMI Tracker by Mindlowned My Rating 2.5/ 5

Highs
  • Very Simple: you enter your weight and it shows it in a list and on a graph as your BMI
  • The graph is coloured to show you if you Obese, Over Weight, Normal or Under Weight
Lows

  • You can't record any measurements
  • You can't set targets (it's based on reaching/maintaining a normal BMI)
  • Adverts are next to where you need to press to view the graph which gets in the way


NHS BMI healthy weight calculator and tracker by NHS Choices My Rating 3/5

Highs
  • You can set reminders as either a one off, weekly or monthly
  • Nice simple summary page showing you your BMI is in the range and your last weight entered
  • You can easily switch between a graph showing weight or BMI against time
  • You can add multiple users
  • It provides some (basic) advice about what you can do to change your BMI
  • No Adverts
Lows
  • You can easily change your height, this shouldn't be required once set up
  • You can't record any measurements
  • You can't set targets (it's based on reaching/maintaining a normal BMI)

Fitter Fitness Calculator & Weight Tracker by MigoApps LLC My Rating 3/5

Highs
  • When you enter a new weight you can share it via facebook and twitter
  • You can set a goal of either maintaining current weight or losing a specified amount a week.  If you enter your target weight it also tells you when you can expect to reach it
  • The graph shows your actual and target weight
  • You can enter and calculate your BMI, BMR, body fat and waist to hip ratio.
  • It has a good summary page of where you are now which links to a number of graphs
Lows
  • The adverts make the information on screen a bit squashed, this feels worse on my iPhone 5 as it's not optimised for the longer screen and I generally don't like the look and feel, although the functionality is ok
  • Back up, password etc require an upgrade (£1.49)

Tap Weight Free by Olexandr Luchlovsky My Rating 2/5

Highs
  • If you want a very simple app to just record weight this is it.
  • You can enter historical weights
  • No adverts
  • If you turn your phone sideways you get a larger graph which allows you to look at more historic data and change the scale
Lows
  • You can't enter anything other than weight
  • Too basic for me
  • You can't set a target

Weight Diary Free by curlybrace.co.uk My Rating 3/5

Highs
  • You can protect your information with a Passcode
  • Good summary screen shows current weight, goal  weight, BMI and a graph or log of previous data or a summary of progress to date
  • You can export data to dropbox
Lows
  • Additional features require an Upgrade (69p)


I'm going to continue using a few of them for a couple of weeks to decide which one works best for me



Sunday, 30 December 2012

Operation Mojo

It's that time when people reflect on the year that is past and what the year ahead holds. Many will make a resolution to change or improve themselves, and I am no different.  My New Years resolution is shaped by the problem that I no longer fit into my work trousers (again). So it is time to lose weight (again).

It's well known that you are more likely to lose weight if you have support. It's the reason WeightWatchers and Slimming World are so successful. For some time Twitter has been my source of support so it made sense that I used the medium of a tweet to ask for help and companionship. And my call was answered.

Among the people who replied was Heidi @anewmother who suggested the hashtag "#OperationMojo".  I love it.  The idea comes from an article by Claire of @MinistryOfMum which you can read here, but in essence it talks about finding you again: the you that was lost when you got caught up in being a parent or otherwise being an adult.

Operation Mojo isn't about losing weight, getting fit or anything else so boring. Being a size zero doesn't make people happy.  To rediscover a lust for life requires more.  For me I need to lose a bit of weight because a muffin top gets in the way of my confidence. I can't walk with a swing in my step if I am focusing on sucking my tummy in.  For you the key to finding your Mojo maybe something else.

Choose your key and join in.  #OperationMojo starts the 1st January

Fireworks
Happy New Year

Silent Sunday

Big gloves, little lady


Silent Sunday

Monday, 24 December 2012

12 days of Christmas: an ode to parents

My alternative lyrics to the 12 days of Christmas for all the tired parents with beautiful, amazing children:

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

12 minutes sit down
11 loads of washing
10 hours cleaning for
9 seconds tidy
8's past your bedtime
7 times awaking
6am's a lie in
"No, not the tree!"
For heaven's sake
Three minutes more
To give me a break
So I can have a cold cup of tea







Merry Christmas everyone

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Material Girl

I was watching the news recently and there was a story that really got to me. I'm still upset by it a week later. The story was about a landslide which had resulted in a number of houses being condemned. They had an interview with a lady who lived in one of the houses and she said she was given half an hour to collect her belongings before the property was closed off ready to be destroyed. Imagine: just half an hour to pack up all the items that mean the most to you.

I'm not really sure why it bothers me so much.  If there was a fire in your house you would probably lose everything and what should really matter is your family is ok. Possessions are just things. I like my possessions though. The idea of starting again really scares me.

 

If you had half an hour to pack up your house what would you take?


Anything in my loft would be ruled out as it would take up too much time to get to so that's goodbye to all M's newborn clothes, as well as various memory boxes and photographs from my childhood through to University (before the days of digital photo sharing). While all these things mean a lot to me the reason they are in the loft is I don't look at them often.

All our books, DVDs and CDs would be left as they would be too hard to pack.

I love a lot of the items in our kitchen, but I could just about accept that my beautiful sparkly midnight blue Le Creuset casserole dishes could be replaced.

I would also have to say goodbye to all our furniture.

 

The Keepers


My priorities would be to fill bin bags up with our clothes, my shoes, bags and make up. And I hope I would remember to grab my useful documents (passport, driving license, insurance documents etc). Mustn't forget my daughter's toys either.

I suspect there would be a lot of things I would forget, then I'd keep kicking myself as I remembered the things I had lost like the canvases on the walls (largely of my daughter).

On a practical note one of the things this reinforces is just how critical contents insurance is. Although we have no individual high value items our level of cover is high because we have hundreds of DVDs and CDs which would cost a fortune to replace. Some of my clothes I have owned for 10 plus years and to replace my wardrobe would cost tens of thousands of pounds. I suspect our level of cover wouldn't be enough and the total value of our items probably comes to more than the house.

Clearly the news story bothers me because of the value I place on material goods. I have always been a bit of a nester and I don't do travelling light. My husband despairs of my desire to keep things 'just in case', but you never know when you might need something.

My Inheritance


My hoarding tendencies are inherited from my grandmother who was a crafty lady. All the family knew that she would store items in the attic that she might be able to make costumes or stage props out of. I don't think any of us realised just how ridiculous this had got until we were clearing everything out before the house was sold. On the plus side I inherited (stole) several thousand buttons, millions of beads, about a hundred cotton reels as well as beautiful 1940s Singer sewing machine that I can't work. She had about 40 years of stashing things in the same attic over me, but I can see things heading the same way.

Part of my Grandmothers crowded attic
A box of vintage buttons
Liberated buttons















I find a good clear out therapeutic, but I only throw away rubbish and broken items. It's really a good opportunity to go through my treasures and store them neatly so I have space for more.

Fingers crossed I will never have to start over. One day my daughter might be going through my possessions with her children wondering why her crazy old mum had a box of 20cm long ribbons (they are those ribbons that keep clothes on hangers in the shops). I'm comfortable with that though. I hope she might even want to nab a few things for herself.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Reindeer footprint Christmas messy play

This weekend has been cold and wet.  It's also starting to feel a bit like Christmas so I decided we would have a bit of festive themed reiny day messy play and make Rudolph.

Whilst really easy in theory: the reindeer is made up of a foot for a face and handprints for antlers, it wasn't very easy to persuade M to put her painted parts in the right place. I wasn't very happy with them, but the addition of the eyes and nose finish him off well.

oh and this time I remembered to feed M first so I didn't end up with painted hand prints all over my top.


creating Rudolph the foot reindeer
Rudolph the reindeer made from foot and hand prints

Silent Sunday


Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Pregnancy, breastfeeding and making decisions


As most people who read my blog or follow me on twitter will know I am “still” breastfeeding my 14 month old toddler. It’s not been an easy journey and at times it has been lonely, but it is one I am proud of. Before my daughter was born I “hoped” I would be able to breastfeed and armed with my NCT breastfeeding class I thought I would be fine.  I wasn’t.  Fortunately the support I received from my family and midwives carried me through until I became properly informed and built up a proper support network.

There are 2 side effects to this: I know a huge amount about breastfeeding for a lay person (and more than many medical professionals based on what I have heard) and every time I see a small baby being fed formula I get upset.

I support every parents right to choose how to look after their children, but out of everyone I have ever spoken to about breastfeeding very few have made the decision to not breastfeed or to stop breastfeeding after being fully informed (about the benefits of breastfeeding and the risks of formula feeding) and given correct advice and support at the right time. This is what upsets and frustrates me.

The results of the 2010 Infant feeding study were published yesterday and although more women are trying to breastfeed (81%) the figures drop off pretty quickly: 23% are exclusively breastfeeding at 6 weeks.  What this means to me is that the message is out there that people should try to breastfeed, but people don’t receive enough information about what they should expect and there isn’t enough timely support available.
If 1% of mums are exclusively breastfeeding at 6 months (the minimum recommended by the NHS), how many are still breastfeeding at 2 years (the minimum recommended by the WHO)?

Every week at the moment someone I know announces another pregnancy.  After I stop the jumping up and down with excitement one of the first things I want to do is talk to them about breastfeeding. I don’t want to scare them, I don’t want to put them off and I don’t want to them to think I am a some crazy boob pusher (lets face it there are some pretty nasty names breastfeeding advocates are called including “the breast is best Gestapo”, thanks the Daily Mail). But I do want to try and ensure every baby is given the best start in life, and when that comes to breastfeeding my window to successfully influence this ends around the time the first bottle of formula is introduced (there is evidence showing that once this happens the breastfeeding relationship is likely to be short lived).

So what do I want to say to pregnant ladies?

Breastfeeding can be hard: my daughter’s total dependence on me for the first few months was the most relentlessly hard thing I have ever done in my life.
But it is worth it.

It is totally normal for newborn babies to want to feed hourly, and for an hour or so at a time.  Yes this can mean that in the early days they are feeding more or less constantly. In the womb they had food 24/7 don’t expect that to change straight away.
It gets better: they get more efficient at feeding and feeds space out

Find out what support is available to you before the baby comes, trust me googling in the middle of the night with a screaming baby that wont latch on is not fun.

The number of people that genuinely can’t breastfeed is thought to be around 3% have confidence that you and your baby can do this.  It is what you were designed for: to nurture your child. If you have problems get help.

Get a second, third and forth opinion until you find advice that you are comfortable with.  Especially if anyone less qualified than an IBCLC (lactation consultant) tells you to introduce formula.  Truth is a lot of doctors, midwives, nurses and health visitors are really poorly informed about breastfeeding, and worse still many are misinformed and give advice which can actually reduce the chance of breastfeeding getting established.  Hand expressing, syringe feeding, even donor milk should all be considered as short term options before formula is introduced.

Find out about the benefits of breastfeeding, and realise that formula increases risk to babies. They are not comparable; formula is just food, breastmilk is so much more.

If you decide breastfeeding is not right for you after finding out everything, or after getting all the right advice and support be confident in that decision. No parent should feel guilty. The relationship between you and your baby is THE most important thing. You should not let how you feel about breastfeeding damage that.

Check out www.kellymom.com and www.analyticalarmadillo.co.uk for reliable and useful information about breastfeeding and everything related to it.

I am proud to breastfeed my toddler but few make it this far. Are people making an informed choice to stop breastfeeding or is it because of lack of support?

Monday, 29 October 2012

Discover(y)ing a Mexican feast

What are your favourite foods? Mine range from amazing dishes I have had in restaurants (like the twice baked soufflĂ© at La Gavroche) to reliable and delicious meals I have at home over and over again.  Meals that are often unhealthy, but always comforting and mood lifting. I either eat until I am I pain or I complain that there wasn’t enough.  

My all time favourite dishes to cook at home include: gratin dauphinoise, a cheesy pasta bake, roast rib of beef (cooked very rare) and fajitas.  I rarely use a recipe and this trial and error approach is not always successful.

Discovery offered to send me some of their products for me to cook at home. With my love of fajitas and Mexican food I was interested to see whether their kits and spice mixes made cooking a tasty Mexican meal easy and fool proof.

What we tried

I was sent 3 of their meal kits: 
The Perfect Fajita Kit (Medium Spice)
The perfect Fajita Kit (with a Mild spice gluten free crispy crumb)
The Perfect Enchilada Kit (Medium Spice)
As well as:
Chilli Con Carne Seasoning Mix (Hot Spice)
Fajita Seasoning Mix (Mild)
Soured Cream Topping (Mild, obviously)
Salsa (Medium spice)
Green Jalapeno Relish (Medium Spice)



The Highs
  • The different spice mixes allow you to make the dishes as spicey as you like
  • I like my food mild to medium spiced, my partner likes his hot.  Using the salsa, jalapeno and Soured Cream we could adjust each one to meet our tastes
  • Overall everything was really tasty and incredibly easy to cook
  • I am a sour cream addict and love the idea that I can have a squeezy jar of it in my cupboard for when needed, rather than having a tub in my fridge that only lasts a few days (if I open it or not)
  • I love that the compact packs contain tortilla, spice mix and a relevant sauce/ salsa so you just need to add your chosen ingredients
  • You can use the spice and then add in your own twist: chicken fajita with peppers and onion? Or do you prefer your fajita without meat?
  • Fajita’s can be a healthy and fun dish for all the family (especially if you don’t add cheese and sour cream, but personally I find them slightly less yummy this way). 
  • Children and adults alike enjoy grabbing all the different ingredients and rolling them up in a tortilla.
  • The Crispy Crumb coating is a really easy and tasty way to make chicken bites.  If you like to know the welfare of your chicken (like we do) this is a great alternative to frozen bread crumbed chicken, and it doesn’t take any longer.
  • Using the spice mix for Chilli makes it very easy to get the right balance of flavours.
  • The spice mixes take up hardly any space in your cupboard so you can store them for when you want delicious food in a hurry
  • If you have any allergies they have a really handy chart so you can see at a glance what you can eat

The Lows
  • I followed the recipe for the enchiladas, but if I made it again I would add some veg
  • To prevent waste once you open the squeezy sauce jars you will want to use them for a few meals over a week or two.
  • Read both the “just add” instructions on the front of the packet as well as the instructions on the pack to ensure you have everything you might want before you start.
How we got on

All the recipes were very easy to follow involving nothing more than: chop, mix, stir, cook, roll.

Cooking "The Perfect Fajita"


Cooking "The Perfect Enchilada"

 



Cooking "The Perfect" Crispy Crumb Fajita



Our Verdict

My family really enjoyed eating our way through all the Discovery goodies. They were tasty and easy to make. I would definitely buy the Perfect Fajita Kit, the sour cream topping and the crispy crumb coating again and I'm looking forward to trying some of the other food in their range.


The Small Print: I was kindly sent the products to enjoy and review.  I was not paid and all words and thoughts are my own.

If you want to "discover" a really easy way to enjoy Mexican food yourself you can find out more information on their website, their facebook page, or just pick up a packet in all good supermarkets

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Would you know what to do if your child had an accident?

Two thirds of parents don't feel confident that they would know what to do if their child had an accident (according to a survey by Bounty's Word of Mum Panel). To try and change this the British Red Cross are launching a nationwide campaign to encourage all parents learning basic first aid.

The campaign started today at the Baby Show where they are running a series of 30 minute training sessions every day. If you are at the Baby Show this weekend why not join in? If you aren't you can sign up the First Aid Challenge here where you will find first aid advice and videos as well as first aid courses around the UK.

British Red Cross training

So what sort of thing would be good to know?

In my session today we learnt how to help a baby or child that is choking (firm slap between the shoulder blades with baby or child leaning forward), has a burn (cold running water for 10 minutes), a sprain (frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel), unconscious (resuscitation) and more.



I've completed several first aid classes before for both adults and children, but a refresher is always good to build confidence and to learn the latest advice. The British Red Cross session was really interesting and I learnt some new skills. The best thing about knowing first aid is you may never need to use your skills, but if your child is injured or ill you can do something to help.

Why not sign up to the British Red Cross First Aid Challenge now?





Wednesday, 24 October 2012

What is your Transformers name?

Have you ever wondered what your Transformers name is? Nope me neither, but now I'm intrigued.  To celebrate the release of the Transformers Prime series on DVD this week (perfectly timed with half term) you can now find out. Will you be an Autobot or Decepticon? The generator thinks I'm a Decepticon called Reflector Kate.




Transformers Prime: Season One is certifcate PG and RRPs on DVD at £10.99. It is available from Universal Pictures from October 22nd 2012.


Small print: I have posted the name generator because I find it amusing.  I have not been paid to write this post

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Boba Air Review

This week I got the new Boba Air. I haven't had a chance to get any great photo's but here's what I think.

The Boba Air is the latest offering in the trusted and popular Boba family. It is a soft structured carrier with a difference: it's super light and compact.


Modelling the Boba Air
Being black it doesn't photograph well
The Highs

  • It's tiny. How many carriers can you fit through your letter box?
  • It folds away in to a pouch which doubles up as a pocket while you are wearing the carrier
  • It's super light weighing in at only 400 grams!
  • It makes a brilliant emergency carrier as you can stick it in your bag and it takes up hardly any space.
  • It's 100% nylon which is great if it's wet as it won't absorb the rain. It also makes it easy to wipe clean
  • It does front and back carries
  • It has a sleep hood which will help keep off sun or rain as well as aid sleep
  • As it is suitable for babies and toddlers from 7 to 20kg you can get a lot of use out of it


The Lows

  • There is no padding, which isn't surprising as it's so compact, but it does make it less suitable for all day wear
  • I found the buckles dig in a bit, but I think with a bit of adjustment I should be able to reduce this
  • It comes in any colour as long as it's black
  • It's a little tricky to get on in a back carry because the straps are so light it's hard to scoot it round, but a helping hand or practise should resolve this

The compact Boba Air in it's bag
In the bag, which turns in to a pocket

Our conclusion
If you want to wear your baby or toddler all day you will want something more padded (or a wrap), but for occasional use this is brilliant. As my daughter is starting to walk and outright refuses to go in the buggy at times I can have the Boba Air with me all the time just in case I need to carry her. It's light, it's compact, it looks smart and at £49.99 it's a good price for a well designed carrier from a trusted brand.


Tuesday, 16 October 2012

A Great First Cup for Babies with Bite

Being a boob baby Baby M never had much exposure to drinking from bottles. As she got older and ate more solids I wanted to encourage her to drink water so that when she was away from me she could go without milk. It seemed a bit late to introduce a bottle so I wanted some sort of sippy cup that Baby M could drink from. Preferable without needing a change of clothes.

I tried a few different styles but M struggled to understand what to do with them.  I was sent a Munchkin Click Lock Cup to try in the summer and from the beginning M loved it. Like many 9 month olds loved to chew on things and the spout on the sippy cup is great to chew on.  Over time she discovered that by chewing on it and tipping it up at the same time she could get water out of it. 


Here is our review:

The Highs
  • They come in a range of bright, fun colours ours is pink, green and yellow
  • When you put the lid on properly you hear a ‘click’ this means you can be confident that it wont leak
  • For babies that like to bite the soft silicone spout is great and makes it is easy to work out how to drink
  • The hourglass shape is easy for babies to hold without the need for handles.
  • The clever valve means that you don’t need a lid or a cap so baby can pick it up and drink when they want, and you don’t need to worry about it being put down upside down.

The Lows
  • Mine now leaks. In the top there is a valve which after several months of happy use I put my thumb through when washing it. Don’t do this.



Our Verdict
A great, fun cup. No leaking and no worrying about it being left upside down. After 3 months of frequent use, biting and being dropped on the floor (and occasionally thrown out of the buggy) it lasted well.  
The cup costs £3.99 rrp 

The Small Print
I was sent the 10oz Click Lock Cup to try over the summer, but all words and opinions above are my own.

These are some of their words: 
Munchkin's new range of Click Lock™ Cups are just right because they just CLICK. These cups feature a simple click-and-lock lid to securely close for a leak proof seal - guaranteed. Parents will see, hear and feel the cup lock, so they have triple assurance against dribbles and drips.
Click Lock™ cups are available in an assortment of vibrant colours and styles including spill proof, trainer, straw, and flip straw. Because sometimes things in life just click!
  • Click-Lock™ opening & closing mechanism for leak proof seal
  • New Silicone seal so easier to drink
  • Soft durable tinted spout for easy flow of liquid
  • New contemporary design makes cups easy to hold
  • 3 colours in range
  • BPA free
  • 6m+


Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Letter to my daughter on her first birthday

I tried to talk to you today, but you were more interested in crawling after the cats, and pulling things off shelves, in doing anything that didn't involve staying still and listening to your soppy mummy. I'm not surprised though, after all you are a baby. And an amazing one at that. Yes all babies are amazing, but you are mine and I regularly stare at you in wonder.

A year ago today I held a tiny, wrinkly baby in my arms. You made tiny cries, curled up on my chest with your eyes screwed shut. I struggled to believe that you were finally here, but I knew my life would never be the same again.

Over the past year you and I have spent most of our time together. You have made me cry, and made me angry, but I haven't once stopped loving you. Not even in my most sleep deprived moments when I have wanted to run away. I couldn't though because you and I are still one. You came from me and I continue to provide your nourishment and comfort. One day soon you will need me less, but I hope that I am always there when you want me.

We have had an amazing year full of smiles and laughter, even though you spent months unable to do either. I have watched you grow from a barely moving, quiet ball to my 
Iittle girl who is learning to stand, walk & talk. You have a strong personality with humour, love and stubbornness. I can see myself in you and it makes me proud.

Many people don't understand how I feel. They only hear my frustrations about tiredness and that my life is no longer my own. I am less quick to share the huge amount of joy and happiness you bring to everyday because it's not so easy to share. People think they understand the tiredness, but few can appreciate what the highs are like and just how much I love you. My world revolves around you and I wouldn't wish it any other way.

Today you turn one.

Tomorrow I hand over part of your care to nursery. You will spend more of your waking hours there than with me. I wish I could continue to care for you full time, but even if we could afford it I don't think I'm strong enough. You need different experiences and new opportunities and I don't have the energy to give you what you need. So I know I am doing the best for you, and the best for me, but I will continue to feel guilt and tears when I think about all the magical moments I will miss.

Thank you for the last year, it has been amazing. 

And Happy Birthday.


The beautiful faces of my daughter over the last year




Thursday, 20 September 2012

Cats and babies: do they mix?

When I was pregnant I was worried about how my 2 cats would cope with having a baby around the house. After nearly a year this is a summary of how the cats coped with: less attention, a newborn, lots of crying, hair pulling and crawling and how we have coped with cat litter, cat food, stressed cats and treating fleas.

Hello to my cats

We got our cats as kittens a few years ago from Celia Hammond Animal Trust. After a few months of hiding under the sofa they have gradually become more sociable and now they will jump on most people's laps whether they want it or not. One of them has a tendency to stress and has been in hospital a few times with a blocked bladder so we were worried about how they would cope with the new addition.


Bringing home baby

Advice on the internet says to bring home a blanket smelling of your baby to get cats used to their smell.  This might work if mum and baby are in hospital for a while, but for the majority of births this isn't practical. We used Feliway for a few weeks before my due date and put a cats herbal chill out liquid in their water before we brought Baby M home.

While curious about the new arrival they never came close enough to her that we had to move them away.  When she cried they either stayed away or stood by protectively.  It was like they instinctively knew she was small and defenseless.

You can buy nets to protect cots, moses baskets etc, but we never brought any. I think they were designed by people who don't have cats because I suspect they would get shredded quickly and provide no protection to a cat that wanted to cuddle up to a baby. My cats never tried to jump in the moses basket with Baby M, when it was empty on the other hand it was hard work keeping them out.

Getting used to baby

Nothing changed for a few months. The cats stayed away from baby and she stayed away from them. My husband gave the cats more attention and I gave them far less.  They cohabited happily. Only once did one of the cats try and sit on Baby M and that was when she was on the sofa mostly covered by a blanket so they didn't realise she was there.


On the move

When Baby M started to gain control over her movements she wanted to "stroke" the cats.  This normally consisted of yanking their fur. If anyone else tried this they would have got a scratch. Occasionally one of the cats would raise their paw, but they thought better of it. This didn't change when Baby M started crawling, although the cats spent more time outside escaping.

Crawling brought new problems: trying to eat cat food, playing in the water bowl and worrying about cat litter. I quickly found the only solution to this was keeping Baby M physically away (she has never responded as desired to being told "no"). This proved hardest with the water bowl which Baby M seemed magnetically drawn to (and still does). I make sure the bowl always has clean water and encourage water play in her own water container. This hasn't stopped Baby M playing with water, but at least when she does I don't need to worry as much.

Growing Up

At a year old I have to admit my baby is pretty much a little girl now. And I think the cats know it. Now when the Baby M gets the cats in a headlock (I think she is trying to give them a hug) they are less tolerant and for the first time they have scratched her. It was only a small scratch on her hand, but I don't want to risk anything worse. The cats stupidly wont keep away from Baby M, and she loves them. I'm not entirely sure what to do about it, but for now I keep moving Baby M away and hope she gets the message.


The Downside to Cats

While generally the cats have been great it hasn't all been perfect. The cats have shown some signs of stress by occasionally going to the toilet on the sofa, Baby M's playmat or piles of clothes.  I think this is their passive aggressive way of saying they aren't happy. Fortunately everything has been washable and they haven't done it for a few months.

The harder thing to deal with has been keeping on top of fleas. I have had the occasional flea bite in the past and they are incredibly itchy. The last thing I want is Baby M to have anything that causes her discomfort. Somehow our cats keep on picking up fleas, which we keep having to treat. This is an extra expense we don't really need, but can't be avoided.

For the past few years we have been using Frontline Flea Treatment which has proven effective, but expensive. I was recently given the opportunity to try Bob Martin FleaClear which uses the same active ingredient as Frontline but is cheaper. FlearClear is a spot on treatment that is easy to apply: you just open the pipette and apply to the back of the animals neck. 4 weeks later the cats are still flea free and I'm impressed. There is not a lot more I can say about the treatment. We applied it easily after Baby M had gone to bed so it would have a chance to be absorbed by the time she tried to rugby tackle them.

The Small Print

I was sent Bob Martin FleaClear to try for free. At £10.50 rrp for a pack of 3 treatments it is an effective treatment that I will buy in the future. You can find more about it on www.bobmartin.co.uk All words and thoughts above are my own.

These are their words:

Surprising facts about FleaClear:
·         You don’t need to go to a vets or pharmacy to buy FleaClear
·         It is available at all major supermarkets and pet retailers
·         A single treatment costs as little as £4.50
·         Fleas will stay away for up to 5 weeks for cats and 8 weeks for dogs
·         If used regularly pets can remain FleaClear all year


All cats are different and this post is not recommending cats are left unaccompanied with babies, but i was surprised with how well my cats and baby got along, at least when she was newborn.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Bluewater Baby and Toddler Show Ticket Giveaway

As I've said before I love to shop especially if I can get a bargain. I also love to find the latest gadgets or mummy must have. So I'm very excited that next month see's 2 baby shows for those in the London area.

The first is the Baby & Toddler show on 5th to 7th October at Glow Bluewater (in Kent). This show is new and supported by Emma's Diary. With exhibitors I know and love including John lewis, Cheeky Rascals and Cuddledry I'm looking forward to seeing what the show can deliver.

Parking is free, but you can travel by train if you prefer and once you are done with the show you can enjoy a meal with special offers in several restaurants. The show is on 10 to 5 on Saturday and Sunday, but if you fancy some late night shopping you can go on Friday when it is open 1 til 8pm.

Interested? You can get 2 tickets for £10 using the code BT35 and a free goodie bag. Buy your tickets here. Even better I have 3 pairs of tickets to giveaway, enter via the Rafflecopter widget below.

Small Print
I have been given the 3 pairs of tickets for the giveaway as well as a ticket for myself. This is what Mercury Events (the organisers) have to say:

Visitors will experience all these amazing features:
• Save money with huge deals on top brands and baby essentials, plus find unique and useful products 
All the big names are there including Bugaboo, iCandy, Britax, Mamas & Papas, Maxi-Cosi, Quinny, BabyStyle, Bloom and many more…
• Guaranteed best prices on car seats, buggies and furniture 
• 200+ top brands and products to test, try, compare and buy 
Meet knowledgeable experts and have hands-on demos 
• Free expert advice on feeding, sleeping, nutrition, finance and more

You can get more information at www.babyandtoddlershow.co.uk

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Just a moment

When Baby M started crawling I knew I had to "baby proof" the house. I removed all small items from low shelves, put a baby gate on the kitchen door and at the top of the stairs (we have a door at the bottom) and put in socket protectors.

Soon after learning to crawl came "pulling up" on the furniture so I moved all small items up a few more shelves. About the same time Baby M perfected her pincer grip meaning she could pick up any tiny item on the floor. This means hoovering the lounge at least once a day or every speck off fluff, small stone or unidentifiable crumb disappears into her mouth (and once, very nearly, a ladybird).

A couple of months later we discovered Baby M is a climber. If you want the tv remote in our house you can usually find it safely hidden behind a cushion. We are watching closely to see if we need to attach furniture to the walls.

The latest challenge is Baby M's ability to reach items placed too close to the edge of the dining room table. She might not be able to see what is there, but that doesn't prevent her pulling things off. Her attempts at walking also mean I need to ensure no paper or clothing is left on our laminate flooring to prevent her slipping.
As babies get more mobile, but lack the understanding to know what is dangerous it is the responsibility of parents and carers to make sure children stay safe. Just looking away for a split second can result in a horrible accident if not careful. Recently I have been reminded to be careful about carrier bags (obvious suffocation risk), cotton bags (strangulation risk) and the cat water bowl (risk of drowning). In the kitchen I have to remember to check saucepan handles aren't reachable, I make sure knives are well back from the edge of surfaces and that the child proof latch is on the under sink cupboard (the one with all the cleaning products in).

I don't think you can watch your children constantly and I would rather teach my daughter what is and isn't safe than bubble wrap her entire world, but I've carried out a mental risk assessment on our house. She has a 'safe' cupboard she can play with while i'm cooking full of plastic, metal and wooden cooking items. I will also admit she has eaten more cat biscuits and paper than is recommended, but anything that could instantly harm her has been removed or secured.

We've had a few "near misses" and I keep thinking of what could have happened. I've been lucky and I've learnt my lesson, but not everyone has had a second chance. A huge number of accidents happen in the home and every year thousands of children are rushed to hospital. More accidents happen in the home than anywhere else (reference) so we must be able to reduce the number of children harmed or even killed.

Tomorrow (6th September) is the first national Safety Day launched by Lindam. I think it's a great reminder to us all to think again about how safe our homes really are. A little bit of time and a little bit more care and we can reduce the number of accidents that happen.

For more information visit www.lindam.com or go to Lindam UK's facebook page where they will be sharing stories and tips to help reduce childhood accidents in the home.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Missing Out

As my return to work looms ever closer I continue to have mixed feelings about it. I am glad that I wont have to think of 3 interesting and balanced meals a day for Baby M (weekdays she'll eat at Nursery), I'm also looking forward to having some time to myself. I'm not looking forward to pumping at work, never having naps and boring work politics. Above all I am worried about how much I will miss out on as my daughter grows up as well as just missing her generally. 

When I go back to work Baby M will have just turned one. Around this age babies (or I guess toddlers!) often say their first words (other than mama and dada) and start to walk unaided.

First words are complicated. It's not so much a case that the word needs to recognisably sound like the word used in the native language, but they need to use the word consistently for the same thing. Baby M has said 'mum' type noises for several months, but it's still not clear if it's just a sound she likes to make, if she is using it interchangeably for me and her Dad, or if she is using it specifically for me. Sometimes I suspect it might even be her word for milk (as if I didn't feel like a cow at times already). So when she says another word I wonder how long it will take us to realise?

Walking is easier to recognise. Again it happens in stages often starting with cruising around furniture and progressing to walking with both of their arms held, then one. They usually have the ability to walk unaided before they do: holding on for emotional support rather than physical. Of the 2 milestones I feel that the first unaided steps are more special.

Being independent and stubborn (like her mother), Baby M hasn't shown any interest in walking with my support. If I hold her hands she just buckles her knees, but using her pushchair, high chair (or any other moving object) as a walker she would happily move around.

Suddenly, in the last 2 weeks, 11 month old Baby M is showing an interest in walking. Sometimes she will hold onto both of my hands and walk around, other times she seems really steady and holds one of my hands and walks around ten steps.

On Friday I looked up and saw Baby M let go of the sofa and walk 3 or 4 steps completely unaided across the room! I was so excited. I know it is going to be a while before I can say she can walk: she still can't stand unaided for more than a few seconds and she can't get herself from sitting to standing without help.

I am so happy, even if she doesn't do it again for months, I saw my baby girl's first steps and that can never be taken away from me.
"look at me, I can stand (briefly)"