Monday, 30 July 2012

The Union Flag

Everyone knows the flag for Team GB don't they? Having seen a lot of Olympic footage it turns out not so much so here is a quick lesson courtesy of my mother in law:

The name:
Although commonly known as the Union Jack it should really be called the Union Flag, unless it's on a boat. Which I suspect you aren't.

The right way up:
Give the Union Flag a quick glance and it might look symmetrical, but it's not. To support Team GB in style you should have your flag the right way up. If you look closely you'll see some of the diagonal white lines are wider than others. One of the thinner lines should be on the bottom left hand corner (the side your flag pole would be).
Union Flag Correct Way Up

So now your know so go forth and wave your Union flags with pride

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Competition: Win A Pink Lining Bag

Last week I wrote about how great I think Pink Lining is and now I have one of their bags to give away.  This is a great prize and thank you very much to Pink Lining for providing it.

It is really simple to enter the competition: just choose how you would like to enter via the Rafflecopter widget below.  Options include commenting on this post, tweeting about the giveaway, following me or Pink Lining on twitter or liking our pages on facebook.  The more ways you enter the more chances you get to win.

Win this bag

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Every crowd has a Pink Lining

Ok, maybe not every crowd, but they are definitely one of the most popular changing bags to have around here. I live in Loughton, the land of TOWIE. Despite what you may have seen on the tv show there are a lot of beautiful and well dressed women around here. Unfortunately for my self esteem there seem to be several at each of the baby groups I go to.

The first baby group I went to (for parents of 6 months and under at the local NHS clinic) several of the mums had really pretty "Yummy Mummy" bags. At the time I had never heard of Pink Lining, but over the last 9 months I've seen their eye catching bags with the bright pink lining hanging off the pushchairs of many a smart mum.

What's so great about Pink Lining bags? The designs are gorgeous and limited edition, but they are also really well designed with changing mats and pockets for all the essentials. The most popular bags are the "Yummy Mummy" bags, but they also do other bags including extra large bags for twins and mini bags (Mum on the Run and mini yummy mummy bags) for when you only need a few items. I have a lovely Poppins bag and later this week I have one to give away to celebrate my 100th post.

 I've recently discovered Pink Lining do a range of accessories to go with your changing bag (or for those that love the designs, but don't have to carry around nappies and baby wipes).
Pink Lining kindly sent me one of their wallets in the Lovebirds design (to match my changing bag) to review.

The Highs

  • Large and rectangular with a zip all around the outside (10x20x2cm)
  • Come in a range of prints so you can choose your favourite
  • They are made from the same water resistant material as the changing bags (cotton canvas coated in PEVA laminate)
  • Inside as well as a flash of pink this wallet is a lovely shiny gold
  • Lots of pockets for cards (10) and receipts and notes (3)
  • A long zipped pocket for your loose change

The Lows

  • If, like me, you end up with a wallet full of receipts you might struggle to zip it up.  I will need to empty the wallet more regularly
  • I can't think of anything else negative.  

Our Verdict

If you love the Pink Lining designs the wallet makes a lovely addition to your collection.  Last seasons designs are currently on sale at £21 and the new designs can be preordered for £29 available from 10th September 2012.  See the Pink Lining wallets here

Small Print: Pink Lining sent me the wallet to review, but all words and thoughts are my own

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

My A to Z of Babywearing

A is for authorised stockists.  There are a lot of fake versions of the more expensive carriers. Before buying one check out the authorised retailers on the brands website.  Fakes are poorer quality and may be at best uncomfortable and at worst dangerous.
B is for breastfeeding on the go.  You don't need to breastfeed to babywear, but if you do slings can allow you to discreetly nurse while out and about.
C is for keeping your baby close enough to kiss.  This is great for cuddles and it distributes the weight better making it more comfortable for you.
D is different styles for different people.  Choose the one that is best for you and your baby.
E is for easy. Even wraps are easy to put on and wear when you get the hang of them.
F is for facing in with frog legs (their bottom should be lower than knees).  It's important the baby sits in the correct position to avoid the risk of hip dysplasia.
G is babywearing is great for shopping, and travel, and walking, and colic, and teething and just about everything.
H is for hands free.  If your child wants to be carried a lot, or is going through a clingy phase wearing them can mean you can get on with doing things again.
I is for inside the house. Babywearing isn't just for when you are out, at home it means you can get things done, like housework.
J is for jealousy. Expect this from your friends who are having to wait for elevators or are trying to push their buggy through crowds.
K is for kangeroo care.  Babywearing allows extended skin to skin sessions which has proven benefits with newborns.
L is for light. Yes your baby might be feeling heavy when you carry them in your arms, but a good sling or carrier will make your baby feel light again.
M is for Mei Tai: a carrier consisting of a square of fabric with straps at each corner (2 tie around the waist, and 2 go over the shoulder).
N is not just for babies. A good carrier allows you to wear toddlers and young children too.
O is for obsessive. A warning: it is easy to get obsessed with carriers and you may end up with a collection.
P is for lots of pretty patterns and designs.  The reason for my obsession.
Q is for once seen as quirky babywearing is quickly becoming the practical and popular way to transport babies.
R is for ring sling: a fabric sling that goes over one shoulder and across the body, joined together and tightened with 2 rings.
S is for Soft Structured Carriers (SSC): fabric carriers with some form and padding which do up with buckles.
T is for try before you buy at sling meets/ sling libraries to make sure you get one that works for you.
U is for keeping baby in an upright position. This position is great for babies with reflux.
V is for vomit in your cleavage.  Not everything about babywearing is brilliant.
W is for wraps. Stretchy for beginners and younger babies and woven for the more experienced.  These long pieces of fabric can be worn in a huge number of ways.  Check out YouTube for some great videos.
X is for crossing the straps at the back can make the carrier more comfortable.
Y is for if you are not persuaded yet, you really should be (yep I'm running out of ideas).
Z is for zzzzzzz, great for getting babies to sleep.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Walking with Baby

Everyone knows life changes when you have a baby. New parents will have to sacrifice some of the things they enjoy (like sleep).  J and I weren't exactly the type to be partying every weekend: we're quite quiet people. One of the things we enjoyed before Baby M arrived was walking. 

We often went walking at the weekend and we plan our holidays to places where we could enjoy long scenic 'rambles'. Highlights included the view from the top of the Old Man of Coniston in the Lake District where I felt on top of the world and the sense of achievement after completing the Meningitis Trust's 5 valleys walk: a 21 mile long walk that left my legs in agony.  The day I went into labour we even went on a 3 mile waddle.

The Peak of the Old Man of Coniston

Since Baby M's arrival walking has become more functional than for enjoyment. When we do go out for walks as a family with our pushchair it's usually on pavements, not hills, forests or countryside. The Bugaboo Bee is designed for the city and pushing it through muddy grass leaves the wheels clogged and difficult to push. I appreciate you can get rough terrain buggies but you still need to choose your paths carefully. Not so with a baby carrier.

Falling in love with babywearing has meant that the world is my oyster: stairs, puddles, mud and mountains all suddenly seem possible again.  The biggest problem is my fitness level. Carrying myself up a hill can be a challenge without the added weight of a baby. So the obvious solution is for my fitter and stronger husband to carry Baby M.  This leaves one more challenge: finding a baby carrier that he will wear. All baby carriers can be worn by men, but they are more commonly worn by women and the designs often reflect this.  My other half was uncomfortable wearing the Close Caboo Carrier as he was unsure how to put it on and was worried about Baby M falling out when she wriggled.

I was excited to get the opportunity to try out the Chicco Caddy carrier.  Backpack style carriers with a frame seem to have been designed with men in mind. They are the only carriers I have seen worn more often by men than women. Suitable from 6 months (7.5kg) I was keen to head out to nearby Epping Forest and put it through it's paces.

The Highs
  • In bright red, blue and black it is attractive and gender neutral
  • There is a small amount of assembly to set it up, but it is easy to put together
  • A mobile phone holder and small bag (perfect for storing the rain cover in and a few others)
  • The baby/ child sits in a seat and there is a 5 point safety harness to keep them securely in place
  • The metal frame opens out and can support itself so when the carrier is taken off the baby can continue to sit in the carrier eg for lunch.
  • It comes with a detachable sun canopy and rain cover
  • The straps of the chest, shoulders and waist are all adjustable and can fit a large man easily without extensions
  • Around the seat is well padded and Baby M quickly fell asleep so must have been comfortable
  • The child is separated from the wearers back by some padding which should keep both child and wearer cooler in hot weather
  • The child sits quite high up so they can see over the parents shoulder and enjoy the view (if they stay awake)
  • Available from £60.00 (eg Argos, John Lewis) it is cheaper than similar framed carriers eg Littlelife
The Lows
  • Compared to other types of baby carriers (eg slings) it takes up a lot more space, but it folds flat and all metal framed carriers take up space (closed dimensions are 19x41x83cm)
  • The seat is height adjustable, but at the higher position Baby M found the straps uncomfortable (this could be my fault not the carriers).
  • There is a metal bar which protects the baby, but for Baby M it was at eye level.  She chose to slouch down underneath it to see out which meant she wasn't in the healthiest sitting position.  This would be unlikely to be a problem for larger/ taller children.
  • The chest strap is not height adjustable and was in the wrong place for my boobs
  • No carrier is comfortable unless the straps are adjusted correctly and I struggled to make this carrier comfortable for me: the weight seemed to be on my shoulders rather than distributed lower down which meant I could only wear it for a short period.  Having looked at other reviews people have commented that they found it very comfortable so I blame my body shape or failure to adjust it properly.
  • It is great that it comes with a rain cover and it is well designed to keep the head and shoulders of the toddler dry, but I think the lower legs would get rained on (I haven't found a cover for any type of carrier yet that keep legs dry if they are in the correct sitting position).

Our Verdict

Although Baby M was 9 months when I took her out and 8kg she is still a little small for the carrier. The carrier is designed to carry children up to 15kg so we'll be trying it out again when she is a bit bigger.
I love that the seat allows you to take the carrier off without putting the baby down on the floor and I love they can look around and see everything even if rainy or sunny.  I couldn't make it comfortable enough to wear for long periods, but the price makes it a good option if you are looking for a rucksack carrier with a frame.

Small print: we were given the Chicco Caddy Backpack to review, but all words and thoughts are my own (or those of my husbands)

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Confession time

I had one of those shopping trips today. You know the type: you are running short of time, can't fine what you want, you're hungry, the baby is hungry and tired and you are distracted. We've all been there. When I got back to the car I discovered a bottle of water. The bottle of water I had given Baby M in a shop. The same bottle of water I had forgotten about when paying for everything in that shop. Oops.

This isn't the start of my criminal career. A few months ago I went into a cafe to have a drink and feed Baby M. I then went to the toilet and left. It was only when I was in the shop next door I remembered I hadn't paid for my drink. I quickly rushed back and rectified the situation and the waitress claimed they hadn't noticed.

I'm going to blame Baby Brain.

Please people, make me feel better. What have you forgotten to do, or done by accident when you were tired, stressed or otherwise not yourself?

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Suffering Separation Anxiety

I took Baby M out in her pushchair recently after my mother had babysat.  When I opened the pushchair up I discovered the seat had been turned round so it was forward facing, but as I was short on time I put Baby M in it and headed off.  For the next 15 minutes I felt very uncomfortable. I couldn’t see my daughter, I could occasionally hear her, and every so often I stopped the buggy and went round to check on her.  But I really hated not being able to see her.

Baby M wasn’t bothered.  She was happily looking around and enjoying the walk.  I tried to justify how I felt by telling myself it is better for babies developmentally to be face to face, that if she is facing away from me I wont be able to tell if she is eating something she shouldn’t, if she is about to escape from the straps or if she is otherwise unhappy.  All true, but the truth was I’m not ready.

There are a lot of milestones Baby M and I will go through as she becomes increasingly independent and I’m starting to realise that all of them are likely to be harder on me as her mum than on her.

The reason my mum had been babysitting was because I had been at my company's staff conference doing a “keeping in touch day”.  As I’ve now hit the unpaid bit of my maternity leave KIT days become extremely valuable as a whole days pay is a lot more than nothing. For those that don't know while on maternity leave women are allowed to go in to work on up to 10 days and get paid.  A great idea in principle, the problem is it involves leaving Baby M behind. 

My mum came over at 7am to pick Baby M up and drive her away.  I continued to get ready for work and when I was nearly ready to go I had a meltdown.  My husband looked on in amusement as I burst into tears and cried “I want my baby back”.  A quick hug and the time pressures of having to get to work meant I soon pulled myself together and left the house.  All day when someone asked me how my baby was I just wanted to cuddle her, and sniff her hair, and kiss her.  I narrowly avoided any more tears though.

By all reports Baby M had a great day and didn’t miss me or her meals on tap.  As soon as she came home and saw me she did get upset, but I think she just wanted my boobage.

In less than 3 months I will be back at work full time.  I’ll have to leave her day after day.  She might have some separation anxiety, but I know she’ll be fine.  I’m sure I’ll spend more of my day missing her than she will me.

The first night I put her in her cot in her nursery I worried about her.  She didn’t stay in there long, but while she was alone I was reassured by the movement and sound monitor.  I could hear if she made noises or if she stopped breathing (or someone kidnapped her). In contrast while she is in someone else’s care I don’t know what is going on. Despite my requests to know: what she ate, when, how long she slept for, nappy changes etc people generally only give me a vague outline. Sorry everyone I am a control freak. I like to know EVERY SINGLE THING.

I know that I need to relax, to let go just a little bit.  As she gets older I will have less and less control and knowledge about what happens in her life, but I don’t think it will ever get easier.

My name is Kate, I'm addicted to my baby and I have separation anxiety

Sunday, 1 July 2012

A BIG Thank you and announcing Competition winners

A huge Thank You to everyone who has read and commented on my posts and entered my competitions as part of the Amazing Keep Britain Breast Feeding Scavenger Hunt.

It's now time to announce the winners

*drum roll*

Charlotte aka @mummyfever gets to choose a necklace from Baby Beads.  Have a look at the website and decide which one you would like

Charlotte R.B has won a Bebe Au Lait nursing cover from Soft Bots

And finally Carolin aka @bcd2009 has won a vest top from Boobiemilk

As you might have guessed I am passionate about the benefits of breastfeeding. 97% of mothers are able to successfully breastfeed if they get the right support, yet only around 3% are exclusively breastfeeding at 5 months.  This is why National Breastfeeding Awareness Week and events like the scavenger hunt are so important.

Increasing breastfeeding rates in the UK could save the government a fortune in healthcare yet there is very little investment in it with most support coming from voluntary organisations.  It is a struggle to get the correct information to pregnant ladies and new mums.  Formula on the other hand has a huge marketing budget and even though they aren't allowed to advertise infant formula (only follow on milk) they still manage to influence people and undermine mums who may be struggling to breastfeed.

Formula is just about gaining weight: keeping babies alive.mBreastmilk and breastfeeding have a huge number of benefits in addition to being the best food and drink a baby can have. If my posts have persuaded even one person to keep breastfeeding one day longer I will feel this has been worth while.

I would like to say a huge Thank You to Karen from Boobiemilk who has spent a huge amount of her time over the last few months making this scavenger hunt possible.  I hope she is really proud of what she has achieved.

My week in pictures

This week I have too much to say for Silent Sunday. 

Baby M is constantly on the move. This brings with it the challenges of keeping her and the cats safe

My attempts at growing fruit and veg this year aren't being very successful.  This is my first harvest: one strawberry.  Baby M adores strawberries and can eat a bowlful in one sitting even when she isn't interested in any other food.  I don't think the strawberries I'm growing will last long.

In my pursuit of the perfect baby carrier I'm trying a wide variety.  This one isn't the most comfortable I've tried