Monday, 30 April 2012

Amber, teething and the recall

Baby M doesn’t have any teeth yet so she has been spared the incredible pain of teething so far.  I know from friends just how hard some babies find teething and how many sleepless nights can accompany the cutting of a new tooth.  I’ve also heard a few lucky mums saying their babies barely noticed the eruption of their shiny whites. If your baby is one of the unlucky ones you will want to do anything to reduce their discomfort.  If you could use something natural that is meant to reduce or prevent the pain you would want to try it wouldn’t you?

Many mums swear by amber necklaces, bracelets and anklets to reduce the nasty symptoms of teething.  They are meant to work by being worn next to the skin (not to be chewed).  As they are warmed it is claimed they release succinic acid which is then absorbed through the skin and reduce discomfort.  As far as I’m aware there is no scientific evidence to support these claims.

Baby M was given a amber teething necklace as a Christening present.   Neither my husband or myself were sold on the claims of this wonder jewellery or any other treatments that lack evidence.  A few weeks before her christening Baby M had been experiencing a lot of teething pain so despite our scepticism we thought we would give it a whirl.

Baby M wearing her amber teething necklace

Baby M showed no interest in the necklace at all: no touching or playing with it so I was confident in leaving it on at all times (the advice is generally to take it off at night when the baby is unsupervised).  The first night she wore it she had a really good night’s sleep.  Of course there is a good chance this was nothing to do with the necklace, but it was enough to persuade me she might as well keep wearing it.

A month ago I lost Baby M’s necklace when I took it off for bath time.  I didn’t notice any difference in her in the days that followed. 

In the last few weeks I think Baby M’s teeth have been on the move again: she’s taken to biting me during some feeds, increase in dribbling, pink cheeks etc so I thought it was time to try the amber again.  I went online to buy her a new necklace from Amber Pumpkin but I discovered they were no longer on sale.  Amber Pumpkin, alongside other reputable stockists of baby teething necklaces such as Dino Daisy, had voluntarily stopped selling them at the request of Trading Standards.  I bought an anklet instead of the necklace, but these too have stopped being sold.

An EU wide investigation has taken place into the safety of the necklaces, bracelets and anklets for children under 36 months.  The concern is that “small parts can be easily detached and swallowed” becoming a choking hazard.   In addition necklaces that are too long are considered a risk of strangulation (source: Europa Consumer Affairs website).  I have not found any reports of harm caused by amber jewellery.

I’ve no doubt that if an individual bead was inhaled or swallowed there is a possibility it could become a choking hazard, but I think this risk of this happening is very slim. The necklaces are designed with a double knot between each bead so if the jewellery did snap only one bead is likely to come off.  Baby M has very good hand to eye coordination, but I’ve seen her trying to eat peas;  I very much doubt she would be able to swallow it.  I’ve also seen the size of some pieces of food in her nappy, they are bigger than any of the beads.  Her necklace was of a sensible length that was not too tight and was not long enough that it was likely to catch on anything.

The findings of tests have resulted in Trading Standards in the UK asking suppliers to issue a voluntary recall of the products.  A quick browse of facebook, forums, blogs etc suggests that the majority of parents will not be returning the jewellery.  I will not be returning Baby M’s jewellery and I will continue to allow her to wear it.  I don’t want to risk my baby’s safety and if at any point I do become concerned I will put it safely away.

Whether or not amber jewellery does help to relieve symptoms of teething (and the jury is still out in our household) I think it is a shame these products are no longer considered suitable for those under 36 months.  There are two side effects of the recall and cease of sale of amber jewellery for babies that I think are particularly sad:
  • If people want to buy amber jewellery for their infants they will have to purchase items designed for older children or adults.  These are likely to be too large and wont necessarily be double knotted meaning they pose an increased risk than th eprofuces removed from the market.
  • Companies whose business has been built up around the sale of amber teething jewellery will be badly hit and may not survive.  I was advised by AmberPumpkin that they have thousands of necklaces that they can no longer sell and that Trading Standards ideally want destroyed.
I'm not critical of the recall.  I think it is important that we have strict guidelines to ensure products sold for babies are suitable.  But this recall makes me sad.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Out in the cold

Is it reasonable for a shop owner to ask you to leave your buggy outside the shop? What about if your baby is asleep in it?

I went to my local haberdashery and yarn store today. It's one of those tiny stores with bits and pieces everywhere; the sort of place I love to explore. While there was space in the main bit of the shop for my buggy I couldn't get it there because of the amount of items in the entrance corridor. This meant I could only get my buggy just inside the door (a mere 3 metres away from the furthest side of the shop).  I stopped by quickly before a baby sensory class, but as I was short on time I decided I would go back after. Shortly after I arrived 2 other people came into the shop and although there was enough space for them to squeeze past it was decided they should go outside to let me out.

After the class I went back, excited about choosing some fabric. When I opened the door the store owner (I assume) asked me to leave the buggy outside "after what happened earlier". She said she would stand outside with it.

I wasn't keen on taking my time browsing while my baby (who had just fallen asleep) was outside with a stranger. I said I would just buy the ribbon I had already selected, but I would buy my fabric somewhere else.  The lady became difficult and said "I offered to stand with it". I was polite and said I would prefer not to leave my baby outside as she had only just gone to sleep and I was worried about her waking up and crying. I also didn't fancy shouting through the doorway to try and explain which rolls of fabric I wanted and how much.  The store owner continued to imply I was being unreasonable which only fuelled my desire to shop elsewhere.

I think staff working in a shop have every right to make reasonable requests of their customers.  I was not comfortable following her request so it was my right to choose to shop elsewhere.  I don't think it's acceptable to make your customers feel guilty or to have a go at them. Instead of possibly coming back another time without my daughter, or with someone who could look after her, I now don't wish to ever go back to the store. This is a shame because it's the only haberdashery shop I know nearby.

Even with the current popularity of 'crafting' local yarn stores and haberdasheries are struggling to survive.  It can be easier and cheaper to shop online.  I encourage everyone to support their local stores, but in return local stores should support their customers and provide a friendly customer service.  Online stores can often be faceless yet every one I have dealt with recently has had brilliant customer service and it has been a pleasure doing business with them, even if I have had to wait longer to have the items in my hands.

Anyone know any good websites to buy fabric from?

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Buggy free in London

On my recent trip to London Zoo I decided that I would leave the buggy at home.  I wasn't sure if this was a crazy idea or not, but the idea of the dragging a buggy up and down steps in the rain did not appeal.

I have a Close baby carrier which I loved using when Baby M was younger, but at nearly 7 months (and as many kilograms) I wanted something a little more structured for my day out.  A quick call to a friend and I was in possession of her BabyBjorn.  As it was a loan I'm not 100% sure of the model, but I think it is the original (it's a navy cotton).

Staying dry and watching the penguins
I left the house at 8.15am with Baby M securely in the carrier. It was very easy to put on: I simply followed the diagrams on the inside of the carrier.  As it was a slightly chilly day Baby M was tights, a long sleeve vest and a thick snow suit.

My walk to the station was far quicker than with the buggy and I easily got through the ticket barrier, over the bridge to the right platform and onto the train without needing any assistance.  With the buggy I would have felt slightly uncomfortable amongst all the commuters and imagined them glaring at me (whether they were or not), with the BabyBjorn I took my seat and noticed a few admiring glances of my gorgeous daughters.  I didn't encounter any problems over the rest of the journey and instead had the benefit of being able to help my friend with her buggy.

Being a slightly cold and rainy day it was nice for both Baby M and I to have the extra body heat.  I could also keep us both dry using my umbrella without putting up any barrier between us or between Baby M and the animals.

I started to struggle around 2pm from carrying the excess weight.  Fortunately as my friend had a double buggy I got to have a short break from carrying and instead got to push. Half an hour later I was ready to go again.

Heading home during rush hour I abandoned my friends with their buggies so they could descend via the lifts and I joined the throng heading down the escalators. When a busy tube arrived I was grateful that I could squeeze in with Baby M.  With a buggy I would either have had to wait for an untold period for an emptier train or risk annoying half the carriage by forcing the buggy on.

When I finally walked through my front door ten hours after leaving home I was exhausted: my feet, shoulders and back hurt and I wanted a lie down, but I had made it.  A whole day out without my buggy.

After a day with the BabyBjorn what did I think of it?

It's simple to use, comfortable to wear and it was nice to wear a well known quality brand.

I enjoyed being able to communicate with my baby all day. She napped less than usual because there was so much going on, but she got to be involved: she could see what I could see. Despite being tired at times she stayed in a good mood. In fact the only time she really cried was when I put her in my friend's buggy for a break.

Yes my back was aching at the end of the day, but that wasn't surprising as I'm not used to carrying the extra weight around for so long (I had backache during pregnancy too).

Ideally I would like something (like the BundleBean) to wear over the top and provide an additional layer of warmth, dryness and to block out stimulation when she was tired. BabyBjorn sell a cover, but I've only seen this online.

The main thing that would stop me buying a BabyBjorn is how much longer I would be able to use it.  The carrier has 3 different positions to adapt for different size babies and I had Baby M in the lowest position (for babies up to 90cm and up to 11kg) which should theoretically last us for another year, but I'm unconvinced about how comfortable this would be for either of us.

The day out did convince me to investigate baby carriers further as they are definitely the best way for Baby M and I to enjoy activities together.

Looking at the fish with the neck support down
The BabyBjorn

Saturday, 21 April 2012

A rainy day at the zoo

I love going to the zoo.  As a member of ZSL I get to go to London or Whipsnade zoo for free whenever I like, but unfortunately due to pregnancy, winter and a little baby I haven't been for a while.  This week I was excited to get invited to help Mummy Gadget Geek with Wee Man and Bubby D and go to London Zoo to meet Trunki and see their new SnooziHead range.

I enjoyed the day at the zoo despite the frequent rain showers, but is it really a suitable place to go with a 7 month old baby?


Baby M showed little interest in the komodo dragons (unsurprising since they probably looked like logs) and she was barely interested in the giraffes despite her love of Sophie. She enjoyed animals that moved quickly and those she could get close to. Favourites included fishes in the aquarium, the butterflies, meerkats and the penguins.

To make it easy for parents the zoo is child and buggy friendly with plenty of baby changing facilities, ramps and even a children's zoo.  It is free for under 3's.

Getting there is less easy as the 2 nearest tube stations (Camden Town and Regents Park) don't have step free access.  I went without a buggy and carried Baby M in a BabyBjorn all day, but between the 3 of us (MummyGadgetGeek, Rocknrollerbaby and I), some coerced strangers and 2 friendly transport police officers we successfully negotiated the steps and escalators.

Feeding time at penguin beach
Teaching perspective: small, far away
In the aquarium
Butterfly paradise is a warm, inflated 'tent' where the butterflies might even land on you
Trunki are one of those brilliant ranges that capture the imagination of both children and their parents. So why were Trunki at London Zoo? 50 pence from each of their new Animal SnooziHedz sold will go to support the brilliant work of zoo's (either ZSL London or Bristol Zoo's penguin conservation project depending on the animal purchased). The SnooziHedz are a snuggly blanket that comes in a pouch which (with the help of an inflatable insert) turns into a pillow.  They also have a "Trunki grip" which can help the blanket stay on. My favourite is the penguin, but all 4 are cute and would make lovely travel sets.  At £19.99 rrp does anyone want to buy Baby M one for her birthday?

The lovely Trunki ladies also had a range of their paddlepaks on display.  These lightweight waterproof backpacks are designed for kids to take swimming and have a fishy theme. Given the rather wet British weather they would be great to take out for any adventure.  I love the new shark and killer whale designs with a fin on the back, but unfortunately these are for older kids (6 plus).  Trunki kindly gave me a pink fish PaddlePak (suitable for 36 months plus) for when Baby M is a bit older.

Pippin the Penguin SnooziHedz
A blurry Jaws PaddlePak
Baby M modelling her PaddlePak

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Should you share everything?

Do you always need to know everything and tell all? 

Last night I went out for my acupuncture appointment.  I had tried going during the day, leaving Baby M at the crèche for an hour.  The appointment had to be abandoned after 15 minutes because she wouldn't stop crying and I could hardly relax hearing her crying in the background.  I thought leaving Baby M for a couple of hours with her Dad would be the easier solution.

As always my treatment was fantastic.  I got to relax for 45 minutes and the magic needles got rid of my headache. I arrived home in a great mood hoping to eat dinner and have an early night.  

My great mood was knocked a bit when my other half barely looked up from his laptop when I came in, but then I made the mistake of asking if Baby M had gone to bed ok.  In response I got a "yes" that was barely more than a grunt.  So I enquired further.  It turns out that she was crying for about 45 minutes before going to sleep.  This took away my great mood.  Instantly I felt guilt for going out.  If I had stayed at home there is a good chance there would have been no crying and she would have settled easily like she does for me most evenings.  My other half says that he didn't want to tell me about the crying because he knew it would upset me.  How can I help prevent the same thing happening again if he doesn't tell me?

One of my friends had a similar situation when her in laws were babysitting.  She found out they lied to her about how much food her daughter had eaten as well as ignoring what time to feed her and give her naps.

For most young babies the main caregiver will be the mum.  This inevitably means that they will be the closest person to the baby have the best idea of what the baby needs to be happy.  At times though the mum will need to leave her baby with others.  Is it realistic to expect her advice is followed and to get accurate information afterwards about what happened?

Knowing that my wishes will be ignored makes me reluctant to leave Baby M again.  If I can't leave her with her Dad though (or trained professionals at a crèche) who can I leave her with?

To make my mood worse my other half hadn't made dinner. This was reasonable given that he had only had 20 minutes after finally settling Baby M and he had chosen to spend that time relaxing, except he didn't tell me that.  I made myself a sandwich and took it to bed.  With both of us in a mood I got no good night kiss and a bad nights sleep.

When I'm stressed or in a mood I need to share to de-stress.  Telling your husband how much they are annoying you doesn't tend to go down very well so in the past I have vented via twitter.  The wonderful mums and friends on there listen and respond in good humour swiftly making me feel better. Recently my other half joined twitter so I've lost that outlet.  

So what is making me feel better today? My baby blowing raspberries and grinning.  Instant medicine.

In conclusion?  Please share honestly when I ask something or if it's something I need to know, but if I don't: keep it quiet and hide it well. 

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Who am I?

Before I went on maternity leave my former manager gave me a piece of advice: he said it's very easy to lose "Kate" and become "Mum" instead.  I've now been a Mummy for nearly 7 months, and I think he was right.  I think I have lost who I was, but you know what?  I love being a mummy.

I can't remember what I was like before every waking moment was taken up by caring for or thinking about my baby.  I don't know what I talked about before, but I know that the majority of my conversations now end up baby related.  I don't know what I wore before all my tops had to allow easy access to my boobs. And I can't remember a time before I had a (very small) encyclopedic knowledge of breastfeeding and baby led weaning.

I'm happy (most of the time) with my new life, but in a little over 4 months I go back to work and I suspect that after the initial "Welcome back, how's your baby?" questions, people aren't going to be that interested in my new specialist subject: Baby M.  Being a mum is the hardest thing I have ever done, but going back to work is going to require using my brain in a way that hasn't been required of me since I learnt to function on so little sleep.

Going back to work is not going to be a return to my old life, rather the beginning of another new chapter.  I am gradually getting my life more organised, starting to use my brain again and making sure I continue to treasure every minute with my beautiful baby.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Missing the connection

Finally after several weeks I am fully connected to the internet again and I have so much to catch up on.  A few weeks ago my netbook died and while it turned out it was only the charger, it meant my only connection to the world (wide web) was via my iphone.  Then just to make things worse I went away for a few days to somewhere with no reception and only very occasional wifi access.  The good news is: I survived!

I did feel that I was missing out on something though.  I missed finding out what everyone was doing on twitter, especially the #zombiemoms.  I wanted to write and read blogs.  And I wanted to shop (so some good did come out of it after all).

Is it a bad thing that in some people's view I am addicted to the internet?  I don't think so.  Community, friends and family are as important as they have ever been.  In today's world there are different communities and different ways of making friends and staying in touch.  Are these friendships less real?  Via twitter, email and text I keep in contact with people, I receive and (hopefully) give support, and even occasionally I arrange to meet up with people.  If it wasn't for the time I spend hooked up to the internet I suspect I would feel lonely.  I would have given up breastfeeding.  I wouldn't be able to fight depression.  In short: I wouldn't be me.