8 months with Bea…

Whoa. Where is the time going? I went back to work days before Bea was 8 months and as I write, we are approaching 9 months. Fast. I want to just hit pause sometimes!

Somewhere around 7 months it seems like we entered a whole new phase with Bea. The one where she never. stays. still. The big news this month was the beginning of crawling… but even before that she was rolling, spinning and wriggling anywhere she wanted to go within one room. We were on the edge of crawling for so long and still I was always convinced she was about to do it, but we weren’t really sure when to say she had. So many developmental things she has done were instant, sudden smiles one day, suddenly sitting on another. Crawling has been much more of a gradual progression from rolling around, to spinning on her belly, all the yoga moves of getting some air and lifting herself up, commando crawling around, then suddenly she used her hands too and was off… she was 34 weeks or just short of 8 months.

It’s been another really rubbish month of sleep too. For the first time, the developmental leap surrounding her learning to crawl wreaked havoc and when she turned over at night she got straight up onto her knees then seemed to wake up disorientated and crying. Only feeding settled her back down. Bea came down with another horrible cold on Mothers day – by far her worst yet, she actually had her first temperature and was thick with snot for the best part of 2 weeks. That meant after 2 nights of sleeping through again after the crawling settled, we were back to being up several times a night. After having moved her out in to the nursery we set up the travel cot in our room again as I couldn’t cope with getting up so many times to the nursery and we fell into co-sleeping habits to allow for soothing feeding back to sleep and a bit more shut eye for me. At the end of month 8 and unfortunately with me now back at work, things were better but not massively and we’re still up 2-3 times a night. :/

Since then, Bea has got a whole lot busier. She is speeding around the room, following me out of the rooms and into other rooms, like a little shadow. She’s interested in everything except the toys you place in front of her, particularly wires, dirty shoes, ornaments and every hazardous item I fail to remove in advance of her roving crawl!

So how are things with you mama’s out there? Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Love,
Rebecca

PS
7 months, 6 months, 5 months, 4 months, 3 months, 2 months and the first month with Bea.

Would you…: Keep Breastfeeding at work?

*Warning, if you’re not a mother or not Breastfeeding, you may not enjoy this post! But it’s a normal thing to do, so I’m not holding back on talking about it here.

A few people have asked what I’m doing about feeding now I’m back at work. I’ll share my situation here but each situation when it comes to breastfeeding is as unique as the mother and child combination, so I would love if you would share your experiences and solutions in the comments if you can add to the conversation – I know many readers will be interested and grateful.

Bea is exclusively breastfed and has been since birth. She’s never had any formula as we have been lucky enough not to need it. I’ve not spent a lot of time apart from her and expressing doesn’t bother me that much, apart from it being a bit of faff. We have only infrequently given her bottles, (the bulk of my expressing here and there went in the freezer to bolster my back to work supplies,) mainly when I went to evening practice meetings each month for work. Apart from a brief period around the 4 month mark when she wouldn’t take a bottle, she has taken it when she wants milk, but not in the same enthusiastic way she would breastfeed. We initially started with a Medela calma teat (which is supposed to require the latch a baby needs to breastfeed, to get any milk out of it,) but switched to a slow flow normal teat when she was a bit fussier with a bottle, as I felt if she could taste the milk she might then take the bottle. It worked, but I don’t know if that was just the passage of time rather than the change of teat.

So back to my back to work plan… I’ve kept a close eye on Bea’s feeds since she was born, but continued to track them well after BF was established, mainly to see what I would need to provide for her once back at work. I’ve been asked how I tried to reduce her feeds and I didn’t really try, but two things probably had the greatest impact. Firstly, I didn’t push her to feed generally as she got older and so noticed that she went longer between feeds. That might sound like straight forward demand feeding, but I noticed myself that even though she was fed on demand, you do get into a routine of feeding when you expect they will need feeding rather than waiting for them to be hungry or cry. On occasions where it went a bit longer and I realised she didn’t need a feed until 2.5 or 3 hours after the last one, I tried to adjust things going forwards. Secondly, as she got older and consolidated her three short naps into 2 longer ones (around 6-7 months) that stretched out the feeds again (as she went down for a nap not long before she would normally feed and then I fed her on waking, after more time had elapsed.) Weaning also stretched things out a little more, but it hasn’t made a massive difference really, the meals have just had to be shoehorned in between the feeds.

On the expressing front, as I said, I have stockpiled quite a bit in the freezer (as you can see from my photo’s!) which should also give you an idea of how much milk varies – even on frozen portions you can see how the milk changes in consistency and amount day to day, which I thought might be useful to show if its something that worried you. I was very worried about expressing at work as I have always got the most milk, quickest, by expressing on one side when Bea feeds from the other, I think the let-down is stronger that way. When I have occasionally tried when Bea isn’t even around, its been much slower going and less productive, so I was worried if it would work when I was away from her and back at work. Having done it for the first time yesterday (I didn’t get time on my first day back!) I’m happy to report it was easy! I managed a full bottle easily which is great as I can then use that on friday when I’m back in work again. I’m also lucky that I have my own room at work so I have simply let the staff and my colleagues know I am still feeding Bea and will need to express at some point when I’m at work (so they know why there’s a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door,) and lock the door for privacy.

At the moment, Bea is having 4 feeds a day; Morning, after morning nap, after afternoon nap and before bed. (She’s 8 months but has done this since about 7 months.) Although when she is with me that varies – if she’s distracted at one feed and doesn’t have much she might have one or two more smaller feeds throughout the day, as and when she needs it. So I’m feeding her before work and before bed, and leaving 2 bottles. The only thing that is a bit hit and miss is how much she takes, or what I should be leaving her. Obviously I have no idea how much she takes from me, but I leave 2 full bottles and so far, it’s varied how much she has taken and how often. Sometimes she wolfs a whole bottle (we use the small 150ml ones) and other times she’ll have only a bit and want more later when she wouldn’t normally have a bottle. And there’s always more in the freezer, but obviously at this point, she is having 3 meals a day too.

I did a lot of asking around before getting to this point because feeding her back at work really worried me – mainly that I could get her feeds down to a level that I could keep up with to express enough for her. A lot of mums suggested just going to formula, and although I didn’t want to do that*, I knew if it was coming down to her nutritional needs and me not being able to meet them, then I’d have to do it. Others said their babies just didn’t take a bottle and some moved to giving small amounts in a sippy cup or doidy cup if the baby would take it. Other still said the baby jut waited for them to get back and fed more in the evening (and sometimes at night :/ ) and had just water in the day. So I guess there’s a solution for everyone.

And that’s it, our story. I’ll post a little update when I share more about being back to work, and see what Bea is doing then. I’m hoping as my freezer supply dwindles she may drop another feed and the expressing will take even less effort!

Please do chip in with your experiences readers!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

*Just to clarify, I have NOTHING against formula, I just haven’t felt we’ve needed it so far and because BF is all about supply and demand, especially at this time when supply is naturally decreasing due to reduced feeds, I didn’t want to affect it further. I hope to keep feeding Bea at least until she is one and beyond if she wants it, so I don’t want to do anything to reduce the chances of that happening at this early stage.

Back to work Blues…

I’ve put off writing this post for weeks, in a classic example of head in the sand denial. Tomorrow, I’m going back to work.

A bit of context first. I’m going back 3 days a week and doing a phased return, so only Tuesday this week and then 2 days a week for the following 2 weeks before doing the full three days after the Easter weekend. Bea isn’t yet 8 months – she will be on the 21st. Why am I going back now? Financial reasons. I’m technically self employed and have to employ someone to do my job while I’m on Mat leave. The funding for that is only for a set period which ran out some weeks ago and the cost of paying for a locum is prohibitive to do for any longer than I have done. Because I’m going back earlier than I would like, I’ve managed to arrange that Pete will do one day of childcare, and my Mum is doing the other two, then Bea will start in Nursery for at least 1 day a week from being 12 months. That may be more difficult than starting her now on reflection, but thats a topic for another post.

Housekeeping out of the way, how am I feeling? Well thats one of the reasons for not writing the post. I’m not sure I can adequately express how much I don’t want to leave her. Until now, I’ve left her for 4 and a half hours max, and a total of about 5 times in those 7 and a half months since she was born. I haven’t wanted to leave her, I love being with her so much.

I can hear the former me and the judgements I made pre-baby ringing in my ears. Having no understanding of how I would feel, I thought women who didn’t want to go back to work just didn’t want to work. Work doesn’t really feature in my thoughts, except that it will be the cause of me leaving Bea. I thought women who never left their babies (like I haven’t) were… I don’t know, like a shadow of their former selves. Why didn’t they want to go out and do the things they did before? Because it doesn’t compare to spending the day with your little love. Why did they suddenly lose interest in their careers or job? I never expected to be desperate to get back to work, but I didn’t think I would feel so strongly that I didn’t want to go. I suppose it’s an evolutionary thing. After all, if it were easy to leave our babies, mothers would have left them in years gone by and helpless offspring would have come to all kinds of harm.

I’ve heard so many friends and acquaintances tell me the reality is much worse than the anticipation. And I know that in months to come I will probably welcome some time to myself, when she’s a full on toddler and every moment is exhausting and full of ‘why’s’. Or maybe I won’t. Right now, every bone in my body feels that leaving her is wrong and I don’t know how I’m going to do it.

I’m terrified I’m going to miss out. I’m terrified she will miss me and feel abandoned. All I can think is that she might need her Mummy and I won’t be there. That I should be there.

So I may or may not be around for the next week or two. I can see I will want to spend time with Bea instead of blogging, but if I do find myself at a loose end there me be a post or two on these pages. Bear with me, and I’ll be back once I’m on an even keel again.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Babywearing 101

*Before reading on, please know I am not an expert on the subject my any means, but it can be confusing starting out ‘babywearing’ and having recently done a lot of research I simply wanted to share all my new found knowledge in one place here.

Before I had Bea, I had certain intentions – having a baby ‘wasn’t going to change my life’, where I went or what I did. I had decided I’d buy a baby carrier of sorts and our Ergo360 was an early purchase when she was 3 weeks old. Not long after I bought a stretchy wrap, so I could wear her around the house – keeping her close kept her happy and giving me my hands back. I heard a bit about ‘babywearing’ during my research into both of these but it’s become such a big part of our lives now and ignites so much curiosity among other parents and passers by when I have her wrapped that I thought I’d share a bit more of my experiences.

Firstly, what is ‘babywearing’? Well, it is what it says on the tin. Wearing your baby on your front, hip or back in a structured carrier, stretchy wrap or woven wrap (both sometimes called slings.) Why would you do it? Loads of reasons! I started wearing Bea in the stretchy at around 4-6 weeks (you can babywear from birth with the right carrier and knowledge,) when she went through a fussy phase and I needed to get my hands back to do things around the house. I found the Ergo too bulky around the house and couldn’t really sit in it, wheras the sling was just like hands free carrying. Fans of BW say wraps are ‘full of sleepy dust’ and mine rivals any other means of getting her to sleep, even the pram and car. I can also keep it on when we get back from a walk and she has just dropped off, or transfer her to the cot. Now she’s getting older and more mobile, it’s a lifesaver for that 5 o’clock meltdown period of tiredness pre-dinner. I can simply put her in the sling while I cook and she’s happy. Bea hasn’t got teeth yet but other babywearing mama’s say it’s a godsend for the fussy, clingy, teething baby or unwell child and you can even discreetly breastfeed in stretchy or woven wraps while you’re on the go. Going back even further, historically babies have been carried for thousands of years in many cultures, keeping them safe and secure and it’s now a big part of the attachment parenting movement to increase bonding between caregiver and child.

For me, going back to my original sentences in this post, it’s also given me a huge amount of freedom. I think few new parents think when they research that pram purchase endlessly that it can actually be really restrictive travelling anywhere with a pram. They’re huge, heavy, unweildy and often prevent you doing the most basic things like shopping between clothes rails or down jammed supermarket aisles, walking off pavemented paths, getting through doors and up steps, or on public transport. Even lugging our pram in and out of the boot is a hassle. With my wrap, I can take Bea anywhere my legs will carry me and keep her out of harms way in public places or give her a place to nap when we’re on the move. She’s interacting with me, seeing the world at my height and feels secure. I’m kind of evangelical about it. ;)

I’m focusing here on wrapping with a woven wrap – essentially a long piece of fabric that you can wrap in different ways to carry your baby in. You can carry your baby on your front, hip or back, from birth (when you know how,) for as long as you feel able, though most people stop around 2-3 years. If you think baby wearing might be for you, or like me, you want to keep wearing but are outgrowing your stretchy wrap, read on!

The essentials:
A great first port of call if you’re interested in baby wearing is your local sling library or sling meet – just google one in your area or look for one on the Sling Library site. They all stock a range of different types (not just woven wraps) of carrier that you can try and hire, along with friendly advice from experienced baby wearers.

What to look for in a wrap
There are MANY different wraps available and I’ll direct you to some stockists and highlight some brands in a moment, but first there are a few factors common to all wraps that you should consider.

  • Firstly, the blend, or what the wrap is made of. Wraps can be made from 100% cotton (the most common,) or a combination of fibres, like linen, wool, silk or even mohair, alpaca and baby camel! Different fibres give different qualities like softness, warmth or affect how easy it is to use, making it grippy, or adding some stretch.
  • Wraps also come in a variety of sizes. What size you need depends on your size and the size of your wrapee too, and affects what you can do with it – some of the many possible carries need more length whereas others are better with a short wrap. An average sized person usually starts with a 6, then as you learn you can decide if a shorter one is right for you but there’s nothing to stop you starting with a short wrap, you’re just a bit more limited with what you can do with it. This is a great blog post on choosing your wrap size. Oscha also has a sizing table showing what you can do with each wrap size according to your size.
  • Care. Baby wraps are first and foremost practical items. Your baby might soil the wrap in a myriad of ways, you might drag it on the floor or want to put it on in a muddy car park. Cotton and/or linen wraps can usually be machine washed and tumble dried. This doesn’t apply to silk or wool and other blends, which need hand washing and may be more delicate. The weave can also affect the wraps susceptibility to getting pulls from jewellery or velcro. Think about how careful you can realistically be when you’re choosing your wrap. Another great blog post on how to choose your first woven wrap.
  • Style. I was determined after months of wearing a hideous beige stretchy (that I bought because it was cheap and I didn’t know if we would like or use it) that I wanted a beautiful wrap this time and set about looking for one. I’ve always associated woven wraps with being a bit hippyish in rainbow weaves or faded dyes but there’s loads more designs and patterns out there in fact, from stripes to stars to intricate ethnic inspired designs right through to modern geometric ones. Just make sure you have a think about the points above before choosing style over substance. ;)
The most important thing is to buy something you love, as if you love it you will use it and that is what will make you get on well with BW – practise!

So where can you buy a woven wrap?
Obviously, online. Many of the brands are european and BW is big in the Netherlands, Germany and Scandinavia. UK stockists of several brands I sugesst as starters include Love to be Natural and Pour La Bebe (Yaro stockists.)
Great brands to look at for starting out include Didymos, Lenny Lamb, Elleville, Firespiral and Yaro – all well priced wraps. Other well known ones include Girasol, Kokadi, Hoppediz and many more!
Like anything, there’s also a high end market for woven wraps with stylish designs and luxury fabric blends. My favourites are Oscha, Woven Wings and Sling Studio, but there are also many more including Pavo, Uppymamma and one of the most highly sought after, Artipoppe. With all wraps, but more so the high end brands, many are limited edition. There is an obsessive baby wearing community and many releases are snapped up within seconds of them being stocked online so they can be very hard to come by. Yaro slings can be bought for around £40, average prices for middle market are around £70-100 and the high end wraps can cost from £120+ – of course, the blend also affects the price, 100% cotton is always cheapest.
Which leads me to the second way you can buy – preloved. Woven wraps if treated properly can last a very long time so are often sold on. Because wraps often sell out very quickly they can be very hard to get hold of and become highly sought after, priced way above retail value, which is a little bit crazy at times. If you do want to delve into this world, there are fan pages for many of the brands where people buy, sell and trade their used (or sometimes new) wraps. Look on ebay, Facebook fan pages, or there are a couple of dedicated marketplaces on Facebook – BabyWearing FSOT and High End Babywearing FSOT. As with any unregulated online transaction though, take care. Use paypal for some buyer protection and ask to see the wrap in the sellers hand to make sure they have it to sell. It pays to hang around the boards seeing how people do it for a while before taking the plunge. The upside of all this selling and trading means you can often sell a wrap on if you don’t get on with it and trade up or just try something else out.

Once you’ve got your wrap, what next?

First up, your wrap if it is new or has been washed before being sent to you preloved, will need breaking in. If you feel it’s stiff or difficult to wrap with, PERSIST! When I recieved my first woven wrap (a size 6 Oscha) I was completely overwhelmed by how much fabric there was. A lot of sweating and tugging fabric into place, fear I’d drop Bea or frustration that I couldn’t reach, drag it into place, or get it tight ensued. I’d say it only took a few attempts before I felt more more confident and I still get better every time I wrap her. The wrap was also fresh out of the wash and softened up brilliantly in a couple of weeks.

As I said above, sling libraries are great for advice although you won’t be able to get 1 to 1 wrapping demo’s as they’re often busy. You can often pay for a consultancy session 1 to 1 if you feel that would be good and I think if you plan to BW a lot it would be a worthwhile investment. However there are huge amounts of tutorials online and BW bloggers. Most people start with a FWCC (front wrap cross carry) and I’ve linked here to a tutorial on how to do that carry by my favourite three youtube baby wearers: Wrap You In Love (above), Baby Wearing Faith and Wrapping Rachel. These are just some of the very experienced baby wearing women out there and it’s worth watching lots of them as they all have little tricks that can help!

And practice! Practice at home, wear your baby round the house, use a mirror to see what you’re doing and pick a time when your baby isn’t grouchy or hungry. Giving them a toy to play with if they’re big enough helps distract them. I now have 3 wraps, a size 6, a 3 and a 4. An Oscha and 2 Woven Wings. 1 silk and cotton blend and 2 merino wool and cotton blend. I’m still getting to grips with different carries, putting Bea on my back and the different lengths and blends but it’s been liberating and fun and satisfying learning how to wrap and keeping her close. I’ll certainly be doing it for a long time yet :)

I hope if you were curious this has answered some of your questions – feel free to fire more at me and if you’ve thought of trying BW, don’t let anything stop you. I love it :)

Love,
Rebecca
xo

7 months with Bea…

It feels like Bea’s sixth month has been full of big changes. We moved her into her cot, dropped her dream feed, she slept through the night, stopped sleeping through the night, there have been ups and downs!

Early in the month, as you all know already, we started weaning. That was a massive adjustment for me, trying to fit everything in between milk feeds and solid feeds. Between that and Bea’s new found mobility, it seems to be all go. Gone are the days I can go out for a coffee with friends without moving EVERYthing away from within Bea’s swiping reach!

It’s funny, it seems that (as with all babies I suppose) with some things Bea seems to do them really early and others she doesn’t get until late. Only at 28 weeks did Bea start banging things with her hand – slapping it down onto the table top or banging a toy down, when I have friends with much younger babies doing it much sooner. At 29 weeks she really discovered splashing in the bath. Before that she used to lie there looking very chilled out and now it’s all about slamming her legs down at 90 degrees to create maximum tidal wave style splashes!

28 weeks also marked the end of me being able to leave Bea and find her in the same position. She’s been rolling for a couple of months already but now, rather than crawling, is using rolling as a means to get all around the room. Once she added spinning on the spot on her tummy to turn 90 or 180 degrees, she could pretty much get anywhere.

At 29 weeks, she started pushing herself around backwards, using her arms to push her whole body back along the floor. I was sure this was a precursor to crawling and pretty much all month I would say I’ve felt it was sure to be something she did in the next week or so. But at 32 weeks now, we’re still waiting!

29 weeks also marked another sleep hiatus. Another cold stopped Bea sleeping and we were having lots of night time wakes. I always feed her if she wakes, partly because it’s a guaranteed way to get her back off to sleep and partly because I think, if I had a cold and woke up, I’d have a dry mouth and want a drink. When it turned into 4+ times a night however I got worried and even more so, when as the cold started to improve, Bea was still waking at 12 and 4ish, with habitual regularity. I had no idea what to do. Sometimes I wish I had done something to produce a (generally) good sleeper, so I knew what to do when it went wrong, but I don’t.

We have always put Bea in the cot rather than our room for the first part of the night (bed time to dream feed, when we move her in with us) and after a run of waking at about 12am I decided to just leave her there rather than wake for a dream feed, and get up when she inevitably did a couple of hours later. Instead she woke up at past 8am. We concluded that in fact it had been us waking her up rather than the other way around and she’s been in her cot all night ever since. I was so sad, but in a way it spared me making the ‘big decision’ and knowing it was better for her helped, even though it inadvertently came from desperation on our part!

I’d love to say that was the solution to the sleep issues but after 10 days of sleeping through until 7 or 8am-ish, we’ve been back to waking in the night again and then back again to sleeping after I restarted the dream feed. I actually don’t think it has anything to do with whether she sleeps or not, but it’s a vain attempt to improve things that sometimes works!!

The other big thing has been a few afternoons I’ve spent without Bea. At the time of writing, I go back to work in 2 weeks and I was already getting nervous about leaving Bea. Not just because I didn’t want to leave her, but because the people who would be looking after her (my mum and Pete,) hadn’t really looked after her at all yet. – I had left her with both of them, but only at night when she had slept anyway, so I was worried they wouldn’t know her little cues and quirks, or how to manage her routine (which is a bit haphazard!) I had booked a course for work in anticipation, and my mum spent 2 afternoons while I was at the course, looking after Bea. Fortunately it went very well – Bea was happy as larry and her afternoon with Pete while I went to a Spa was similarly successful. So I’m feeling happier that she won’t feel too disrupted without me.

Every week I go to my Yoga group and we all start by talking about something good that happened that week and something bad. The bad part is always sleep! How is sleep going for those of you with babies? And how did you start to get them ready for your return to work?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS
6 months, 5 months, 4 months, 3 months, 2 months and the first month with Bea

What I have learned about : BLW [Part 2]

If you want to read more about our experiences with weaning, Part 1 is here. :)

We didn’t need much for BLW but I did buy a few things:

Lassig bib: Becky recommended these as Bea is small (Ikea do some but they would have been massive on her!) and they are thin so no bulky fabric to restrict her moving her arms to pick food up. They are still too big, particularly round the neck so we layer them with a feeding bib underneath and hope not too much goes down her neckline!
Edit: I should say, we have 3 of these and the other great thing about them is that I throw them in the sink after using, give them a swish about to remove the food and wring out. They’re dry in 5 mins flat! Then I start a clean one every few meals.

MAM Dipper Set (Green). Weaning spoons are flatter as babies can’t shape their mouths yet to take food off a spoon, but when I looked for some they’re all really long – I assume to reach further when you’re feeding them, but that seemed really counterintuitive if I wanted her to feed herself – imagine trying to fed yourself with cutlery longer than your forearm?! These were chubby for little hands and importantly, the right size.

Plastic bowls – we put Bea’s food straight on her tray but if I made weetabix or porridge I like having a small bowl for her food, so we’re not using all of ours u

Lock & Lock Food Storage Set
– for leak proof food storage and taking out with us.

Snacks: Organix corn snacks, Rice cakes and Heinz baby Biscotti! I didn’t even think about shop bought baby food as a result of doing baby led weaning, but discovered these through friends. They’re great for a snack if you’re out or to keep Bea busy while food is cooling or being made. The only downside is that they look like Wotsits or Monster Munch which is a bit embarrassing! ;)

Mamas & Papas Baby Snug . We’re still using this, sat on the kitchen island as it’s virtually impossible to find a high chair that is the right height for a kitchen worktop (let me know if you have!) We bought the ikea high chair too as a handy spare for friends visiting, but haven’t used it.

We also have a Doidy Cup that Bea isn’t getting on with that well and a Tommee Tippee First Cup.

So, what have we learned…

Timing is everything
It took me a little while to realise that feeding Bea solids was a matter of timing, too soon after a milk feed and she wasn’t interested, too long and she was starving, for milk. The same applies to naps, if she’s tired she just throws the food around, so I try to give her her milk, then wait about 30-60 minutes before trying food, which give me a big enough window before her next nap.

Meal times take ages. We can easily sit watching Bea eat for 45 minutes at most meal times. That plus the cleaning up means it’s a big commitment. But it’s usually hilarious too. :)

Just because she doesn’t eat something on one occasion, doesn’t mean she won’t wolf it down on another. This has happened with weetabix, porridge, yogurt and a spinach and ricotta base that I made into fritters once and she rejected twice on the trot. Later she devoured some lasagna made with the same filling and she has since eaten the fritters too.

Texture is key. Bea loves carrots and I guess I could let her suck on steamed ones but as I need her to be eating reasonably before my return to work I over do them a little so she can eat them. The same goes for making sure fruit is very ripe, pasta better done than al-dente, etc etc. For this reason we’ve not had much success with rice yet, even risotto.

As for downsides, well, we’ve had our first choking incident which was very brief fortunately and dealt with by a couple of swift blows to her back, but scary in hindsight. It did make me question my commitment to the BLW cause, but it was actually a piece of softish melon she had bitten off herself that was the offending food, so if it can happen with that, I’m not sure what lengths we’d have to go to to protect her completely.

It’s also not as easy as the hype would have you believe… Bea can’t eat everything we eat as a lot of our food has hidden salt – I’m not confessing to a highly processed diet here, but you do have to read labels like a demon as things like bread, cream cheese, pesto, tinned tomatoes etc all often have higher salt than you should be giving to a baby. I make things easy by making more than we need of things like pasta and then varying the sauce – a bit of tomato one day, melted cream cheese another, and pesto on another day, for example. For things like the fritters or spinach and ricotta lasagna, I freeze portions. And because we often eat our evening meal later than Bea, I often give her leftovers from what we had for dinner, for lunch or dinner the next day. I do make her special food sometimes, just as you would with purees, but mainly because it’s natural to want the best for her and I enjoy making new things for her to try, or for example in the case of the spinach fritters, I was keen to get some iron rich foods into her.

Lastly, it’s such an all-comsuming process. Before weaning we were in a good routine, still breast feeding on demand and didn’t have to worry about schedules or fitting in meals or taking food with us anywhere. At first it felt quite restricting, preparing meals, thinking about feeding her, being prepared to do so with bibs and the like, and the time it took up. But I don’t know how differently I’d feel if it was purees, at the end of the day she has to eat and we’ve just adjusted, as you do!

The whole process has been really fun though. I love seeing her try new foods and flavours and it’s fantastic seeing how much she enjoys her food. It has also been amazing, and I can’t emphasis this enough,) seeing how much it has improved her motor skills. She now (at 7 months) passes food from hand to hand, repositions it in her hand to get a better grip and is learning how hard to grip things so they don’t get squashed in her palm or squeezed out if they’re slippery. She will use two hands to keep something in her mouth and is starting to develop her pincer grip. Her oral dexterity is better too, she can now chew things and pass food around her mouth more, sucking flesh off fruit and then dispatching the skin from her mouth with lightening efficiency! So, it was a great choice for us.

I hope you found this useful if you’re around the weaning stage like us or coming up to it. As before, just shout if you have any questions and please do share your experiences and tips in the comments too!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Resources:

What I have learned about: BLW [Part 1]

As the title suggests, we decided to go for baby led weaning (BLW) with Bea. I had so much to share about this particular topic that I’ve split it into 2 posts. Today is mainly our experience, and on Thursday I’ll be back with Part 2, sharing our essentials for BLW and tips. (And we have Erin’s fashion fix tomorrow if you’re not interested in weaning!)

My main concern with BLW was the emphasis that ‘food is fun before they’re one’ and reliance on continued milk feeds, while they (very) slowly increase their solid intake. At the time of weaning, I was going back to work in less than 2 months and was still feeding 5-6 or more times per day plus a dream feed. I decided I’d give it a month and if she still wasn’t taking much in, reconsider our options then.

Why did I go for BLW in the end? It just made sense to me. I read the book, and developmentally, it all made sense; why feed a baby purees when they can feed themselves? I felt I was relaxed enough to accept if she didn’t eat much because I was used to trusting her intake whilst breast feeding and I knew she was able to feed herself as EVERYTHING was already going straight into her mouth. She wasn’t quite sitting up when we started – as in, sitting unsupported in the middle of the floor, but was perfectly upright in her baby snug. It also appealed to my style of parenting. Within sensible limits of her having some structure, I prefer her fitting in with us. We eat out a lot (still) and it appealed to the lazy part of me, that I could just fed her the kinds of things we eat, ad hoc.

We started weaning 5 days before she was 6 months old. I had been determined to wait until 6 months exactly, despite the grandparents regular chimes of ‘she’s so ready for food!’ but when I did a bit of reading prior to starting, there is conflicting evidence about the benefits of postponing solids until 6 months (increased gut maturity, reduced risk of allergies…) against possible risks (one recent study found a 4 fold increased risk of diabetes if children were weaned before 4 months or after 6 months.) In the end it was simply convenient to start at the weekend so Pete could participate too.

In the very beginning my focus was on exposing her to as many tastes as possible. I didn’t restrict her to popular first tastes to babies (like sweet vegetables) and simply chose things that were convenient for her to eat – things that were naturally or could be made, stick shaped. One of the key ideas behind BLW is that babies feed themselves, which I found very limiting (babies of 6 months usually can only grasp stick shaped things and it takes weeks and months for them to develop the motor skills to pick things up with their fingers or grasp handfuls and release them into their mouth,) so we quickly introduced a weaning spoon which we preloaded and held out for her to take and put into her mouth herself. She was successful right from the beginning (as I knew she would be because of her tendency to put anything and everything straight into her mouth,) and that made things like weetabix, porridge and yogurt easy enough and moderately less messy.

Ah yes, the mess. I was warned BLW would be messy, so I was prepared for it and to be honest, I don’t think it has been that bad. We bought sleeved bibs (see below) and a piece of oilcloth tablecloth to cover our marble worktops. Apart from on herself, the majority of the mess is from dropping her spoon at the side of her seat or onto the floor and whatever is on it splashing off. I tend to eat with her (at least sitting with her,) so regularly spoon catch and keep a cloth handy to wipe up these spills as we go (because dried on weetabix is like cement, be warned!)

If you don’t have a baby or want to hear about nappies, you might want to skip this paragraph. ;) Because I wanted to give Bea every opportunity to progress with weaning, we very quickly worked up to 3 meals a day, even if they were small. It took about a week before we started to see bits of food in Bea’s nappy (undigested) then after 2 weeks her nappies changed completely, confirming that she was taking a decent amount of food in. We are a month on now and she has dropped down to 4 milk feeds; One on waking, one around lunch after her morning nap, one after her afternoon nap, and one before bed.

So readers, I’d love to hear if you have anything to add here or if you have any questions for me. I’ll do my best to answer them. In the mean time, can anyone suggest a worktop height high chair that isn’t ridiculously expensive?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Resources:

6 months with Bea…

Bea @22 weeks Copyright FlorenceFinds.com

Last time I wrote about my time with Bea, we had had a very rough month but things were looking up. Month 6 was a month of two halves. The first half glorious and fun, the second slightly more trying! ;)


A fun family selfie taken on New Years day

After all the drama of having the lounge re-done before Christmas, I made a pact with myself – no more work on the house before my maternity leave finishes in March. I wanted to enjoy every last moment with Bea as I really felt I’d almost lost a month with her while the work was going on. As soon as Christmas was over I really started enjoying things, and after her bad run of nap trouble things seemed to settle. I accepted that in fact, Bea was getting the vast majority of her sleep overnight and didn’t need much in the day, and she settled into a 3 (short) naps a day routine. I was really sad in a way when 2015 dawned as 2014 had brought us so much joy. We were no longer in the year Bea was born in!

Her growing up is becoming so much fun though! Like everything, her first few laughs were few and far between but now I can make her to laugh, pulling funny faces and being silly – all the things I never thought I’d do.

At 25 weeks, Bea spent the whole week sucking in her bottom lip and making her lovely little mouth into a tight line, whilst making noises like her lips had been sellotaped shut – just another phase, but an amusing one! It was put to an end by her first proper cold which seems to have been the prompt for everything to go wrong in the sleep department too!

Bea @25 weeks Copyright FlorenceFinds.com

First we had a few nights of waking several times between bedtime around 7 and her dream feed at 10-11. Then we had a couple of nights of waking up in the early morning around 6ish, although fortunately going back to sleep. Then a week or so of waking in the night again, a couple of times each night. This latter pattern was caused by her cold and a cough which kept waking her up and it was pretty miserable watching her feeling so sorry for herself, not to mention exhausting. I know I shouldn’t complain but there doesn’t seem to be anything worse than having a baby who sleeps less than they were doing previously – I wondered how I ever managed when she was tiny! Once again, I’m none the wiser as to why it all happened, but it stopped as suddenly as it started.

Bea @26 weeks Copyright FlorenceFinds.com

The end of the month and her 25th week reached a peak with us starting weaning! We decided to go baby-led and started just before she was 6 months – it was the weekend and convenient for Pete to enjoy too. I’m going to write a full post about it soon, but it has been so much fun so far. :) She really does get more any more enjoyable every day!

How are those of you with babies all getting on then?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS
5 months, 4 months, 3 months, 2 months and the first month with Bea

Real Rooms: A Modern Animals Nursery

I’m a bit embarrassed that Bea is over 6 months old now and I have only just managed to finish the photos of her nursery. (I’m sure those of you with children won’t be surprised!) ;) We finished the nursery before Bea was born as, of course, we had opened the envelope! Interestingly, before we knew whether we were having a boy or girl, I was convinced it wouldn’t influence my choice of nursery and that I wanted brights. Initially I veered towards this Sian Elin wallpaper, then I felt it was too much for the space and found this incredible animal wallpaper. Once I had a neutral backdrop I couldn’t resist a shot of bold pink to add colour to the room and the room progressed from there. I hope you like it!

That amazing wallpaper is from Beware the Moon – an independent wallpaper designer I found online. It features 51 different animals from the tropical to farmyard, all hand drawn in pencil. It really is a work of art and the neutral palette makes it versatile for the future too. ;) We papered one wall and colour matched the other 3 to the backdrop of the paper which is a chalky white.

Like so many of you, we chose the IKEA Hemmnes 8 drawer chest for all of our storage – nappies, bedding, clothes, it all goes in here. I chose a coral pink shade from our local trade paints shop and painted the chest myself in an eggshell finish, then diluted the colour with white eggshell for the 3 progressively lighter shades for the drawers. I used a gloss roller and it really was very easy. Then I chose Anthropologie knobs in shades of blue and mint to finish it off.

The table doubles as our changing station and I keep Bea’s changing things in the drawers, with a small tray of cotton wool and a bowl of water out on the top. The table lamp is from Dunelm and the changing mat cover is Aden+Anais. On the wall, my favourite animal, a baby Elephant from Sharon Montrose’s Animal Print Shop. That white bear is a Merrythoughts teddy that I had as a child and my mum bought the Histoire D’ours Classic Bear for Bea when she was born.

The mint green chair was a bargain from HomeSense (love that shop!) as I felt we really needed to temper the pink and I wanted somewhere to feed in peace if I needed to. In fact I don’t use it that much but on the occasions I have, I’ve been very pleased to have it. The knitted pouffe is also from Dunelm and unfortunately now out of stock. I also wanted to add in some gold to the room as my current obsession and this seemed the right corner, as the wall is very blank. I used large gold polka dot decals to create a confetti pattern, from Etsy of course. The geometric cushion is Conran at M&S and the throw over the chair back is Urban Outfitters.

I searched and searched for a cot I liked, having become obsessed with the Oeuf Sparrow but drawing the line at £600 for a cot! This cotbed was from John Lewis and similar in style. I know some people think cots should be cheap but I hope this one will see more than one baby and it’s the central piece of furniture in the room so I thought worth spending a bit more on. The patterned fitted sheet (so hard to find!) was from The White Company. I searched high and low for the perfect mobile (thinking about, but failing to make one,) and eventually chose this paper clouds mobile also from The White Company.


We also needed some storage and I wanted to be able to display pretty toys or books and for Bea to be able to get her own toys out (and put them away!) The remaining alcove was a funny width (66cm) but I found these ladder shelves at a great price from The Futon Company. We need to fix it to the wall before Bea is toddling!

I found this rug in Urban Outfitters again, as the floor needed something to soften it up and I loved the geometric grey pattern – and the price!

Lastly, the art came from Society6, my new favourite place for well price art for your home! I chose the ‘Be Brave’ print, a pink and grey fox with a gold nose and hung them with a letter B balanced on top of a ceramic hand and foot print we did when she was 1 week old.

So that’s it!

I hope you liked the tour! ;) If you’d like to see more of the inspiration for the Nursery I’ve just made what was a secret Pinterest board, public. So feel free to have a look!

All the sources are listed below but do ask if you have any questions!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Sources:
Animal Wallpaper, Beware the Moon
Mirror and Mint chair, HomeSense.
Chest of Drawers – IKEA
Knobs – Anthropologie
aden + anais Twinkle Changing Mat Cover
Baby Elephant print
Owl lamp, Dunelm
Gold polka dot wall decals (UK supplier) Etsy
Stockholm Cotbed, John Lewis
Paper Clouds mobile, The White Company
Star fitted cot sheet
Ladder shelf, The Futon Company
Rug (no longer in stock) Urban Outfitters
Art: Be Brave and Pink Fox, Society6.