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.

Would you: Do Baby Led Weaning?

It’s a big month for us this month. Aside from #JanuaryJoy (yes, it’s still going on and there will be more posts this week!) Beatrice turns 6 months soon and we’re thinking about weaning. It seemed the perfect time to get these discussion and sharing posts going again and hear your thoughts on weaning. Please do share your thoughts and experiences – both myself and the readers find these posts so helpful I know, so thanks in advance!


Image from Baby-led Weaning: Helping Your Baby to Love Good Food

So, weaning. I think I’ve said before that I live in quite a hippyish area of Manchester and I could be forgiven for thinking that everyone does baby led weaning. Before having Bea it seemed like BLW was just the thing to do but I wasn’t sure if I was fully on board with it – it looked messy and I wondered if it was just the latest middle class fad. Since having Bea my thoughts were that I couldn’t do BLW; I’m going back to work when she is 8 months old and as she has thus far been exclusively breast fed (and I have no plans to add in formula once she’s over 6 months,) I’m aware some of her milk feeds will drop, even if I express and that she will need to be getting some nutrition elsewhere.

So I bought the baby led weaning book, fully expecting to disregard it but I am strangely drawn to the idea now. For those not familiar, the book suggests allowing your baby to start eating soft but normal foods (like steamed broccoli for example,) anytime after 6 months that they show an interest. No purees, no spoon feeding, just let them feed themselves. The catch is that the first couple of months or more are very much about learning and playing with food. Babies don’t know how to chew food or pass it back to their throat to swallow initially, but then slowly learn and improve. Milk feeds remain the vast if not entire basis of their nutrition which on reflection actually makes more sense as breast or formula milk is way more nutritious than a bowl of pureed carrot or apple will ever be.

And now I don’t know what to do. I think I want to do BLW. It seems right for Bea and for us. Everything we have done so far has been based around listening to her – her sleep routines and so on but is that because they suited us? Some passages in the book liken giving purees to force feeding and make it sound awful, when like many other baby methods in various books on sleep or behaviour, millions of children have been brought up like that without damaging lasting effects. I don’t really buy into the theory that BLW makes kids less fussy and choose healthier options in later life – surely fussiness is natural toddler behaviour thats inevitable as they get to exercise some choice combined with a bit of boundary pushing, and once a child is exposed to sugars etc, won’t they need some parental moderation of those things naturally? I do however like the idea of her self moderating her intake, just as she has whilst BF. On the other hand with pureeing Bea would eat what I gave her, I wouldn’t have to worry about the salt or sugar contents as I’d be making it and she would no doubt progress easily to being less milk reliant as I go back to work. I still plan to keep feeding her as long as expressing, feeding when I’m home (which is going to be 4 days out of 7 after all,) and my milk supply allows. I wonder if my leaning towards BLW is partly emotional attachment to BF – I do feel guilty that my return to work may impact on her feeding even though I know I should hold onto it as long as possible given the benefits to both of us. Many people tell me that their BF baby just has water or initially some expressed bottles when they are apart, then BF as usual when they are together, but is that me being selfish and hanging onto it, when she might actually really miss it or be hungry in my absence?

So, there’s lots of food for thought there and I’d love to hear your experiences, particularly around your return to work. In case it’s relevant, she won’t be at nursery initially but with my mum at our house or with Pete, so whatever we choose will be easy to continue in my absence.

Wade in readers!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

5 months with Bea

Morning readers! Apologies for the lack of posts this week, I’ve had 2 and a half days of my internet being down for some unknown reason and Erin is having the same problem. Today it’s back, hurrah! So here’s an instalment of life with Bea for you all today. Thanks for bearing with me!

When I last wrote about life with Bea, things were pretty much rosy. We had just got back from Florida, I’d transitioned her into her cot in the day without any problems (Hello smug face). For about a week after we got back she was the perfect baby then bam! It all went south.

4 to 5 months was tricky. It was probably also the hardest time I’ve had with Bea. Before then, bad days had been just that, days, not weeks but in early December (around 19 weeks) something happened with her naps… er, what naps? For 5 days Bea napped steadily less and less. She had been having about 3 hours in the day and day by day she went from 2.5, then 2 then at the worst only 1.5hrs. Those with babies will be feeling my pain already, those without, let me just tell you there’s a very fine line between a very happy well rested baby and the cliff top drop over the edge into over tired, distressed angry screaming baby. Nuff said. After about 5 days she improved slightly and the nap times started to go up again. But they only made it to about 2 hours and that’s where they stayed for that month, on a good day.

It was really hard. Hard because there is nothing more soul destroying (for me anyway,) than pacing around rocking and shushing in a darkened room for 45 minutes trying to get a baby to sleep. You emerge shell shocked, only for them only to wake up 30 minutes later. It was heartbreaking watching her so desperate for sleep that she was banging her head onto my chest and crying with frustration. And hard because amongst all this I steadily beat myself up that I was creating bad habits (rocking her to sleep because it was the only thing I could do or feeding her to sleep,) poor sleep associations and emotional scars if I ever left her to cry for a few minutes to see if she would learn to sleep by herself. The latter was a particularly useless tactic as eventually I always caved and went back, only to rock her to sleep anyway; Cue more beating myself up for letting her cry and for reinforcing that if she cried she would get what she wants.

How do I feel about it now? Well, like I said in my end of the year post, a few days do not a bad habit form. Bea went from going down with no fuss, awake for at least 2 or 3 of her 3 or 4 naps a day, to needing rocking or feeding to sleep for every single one and guess what, for some unknown reason, she is now back to going down without fuss for most of her naps in the cot again. Every couple of days I would try and after a few weeks she just kind of got over whatever was wrong. I’m able to beat myself up less now, but it’s always better with the benefit of hindsight. For whatever reason, she needed me. I did a lot of reading in these weeks about sleep patterns, needs and training and whilst I didn’t try to ‘sleep train’ her, I did leave her to cry a couple of times – more frustrated shouting rather than real crying with tears, wondering if she would settle herself in the ‘ten minutes’ or whatever some sleep expert recommended. A couple of times she did, but more often she didn’t and it ended up feeling like a wasted episode of crying as we achieved nothing. I definitely know more about the likelihood that she will settle now though by listening to her different sounds. She does sometimes, shout, chatter or cry before she sleeps, but it’s more of a whinge and it’s part of her dropping off, as much as her sucking her fingers is.

And why did it happen? Who knows. Do we ever really understand babies behaviour? Some would say it was the ‘dreaded 4 month sleep regression‘. I don’t really believe in sleep regressions as I read a blog post and it makes much more sense to me that she was simply dropping a nap. After all, babies sleep requirements don’t change in a day and throughout this period she would have 3 or 4 naps a day, whereas now she generally has 3. I found that site really helpful with info about bedtimes too and ideal sleep requirements. It makes much more sense to me to work around her sleep patterns, noting how long she is awake before she needs a nap, rather than prescriptively saying she should be napping at X o’clock. I also wonder if it was all made worse by the fact I was busy (more reasons to feel bad… the 5 month picture we have below is also her ’21 week’ photo as for the first time ever I forgot to take her weekly photo :( ) – things were worst at the beginning of December but the week before Christmas was also pretty bad, exacerbated by builders and tradespeople banging, ringing the door bell and generally taking my time up. There were times she was crying and they needed me to speak to them about something, and lots more times when I cursed them for being noisy and waking her from a much needed sleep. Or was it a wonder week leap? Who knows what it was all about, but it’s also over!

There were great things about 4-5 months too though. Bea learned to blow raspberries and bubbles, she’s laughing more and more and at 20 weeks she rolled over. In a classic moment, I returned from being out of the room to find her on her front when I had left her on her back.

Right now, we’re having a glorious 6th month and I’ll be back to tell you more about that soon. How are you getting on with your little ones? Does any of this sound familiar?!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

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

4 months with Bea

I’m a little bit behind with these posts and time and development marches on apace so it’s almost hard to remember what was happening in Bea’s fourth month. Last time I wrote about her naps being problematic and her first real changes that made her less of a newborn and more of a baby. The month that followed seemed like a godsend of perfect calm and enjoyment.

Bea had her first cold at 14 weeks but we seem to have emerged relatively unscathed as she was mild and just snotty with it really. Fortunately it didn’t affect her sleep. Throughout the month she was smiley and happy regardless and it cleared after about a week.

Probably the biggest change of this month was to feeding. I had noticed that Bea was getting more and more fussy when she fed, pulling off and messing around instead of taking a good feed. I was still feeding her 2 hourly at this point (not on a schedule, thats just about when she wanted it,) and whilst travelling when I didn’t take as much notice of the time, I noticed she fed much better when she showed me she was hungry. As a consequence now she is fed about 6-7 times in 24 hours, 2.5 – 3 hourly in the day, then a dream feed at 10 or 11 pm and she feeds much better.

As you can see here, Bea is getting more and more active. She loves standing up and supports her own weight with only a finger supporting both of her hands, even stamping her feet up and down sometimes! It’s much more clear too what she likes and does’t like, as she kicks and wriggles with excitement or pleasure, or gives us a downturned mouth or wobbling lip before a cry (usually when she’s tired!)

Best of all, after what felt like weeks of waiting, Bea finally laughed! I had been feeling like she was on the edge of laughing for a couple of weeks and was sure she would do it while we were on holiday, then on the very last day she did, out of the blue! I had worried I was missing it amongst the other sounds she makes but it was a proper peel of laughter, although it caused me to shout so loud that she stopped just as suddenly as she started! It’s taken a while but the laughs are coming more and more often now. It’s a cliche to say it, but it really is the best sound in the world.

The other big change has been to napping in the cot now. We switched to a grobag when we got back from Florida and I also immediately started putting Bea down to nap in her cot instead of the crib, mainly so I could do things in our bedroom while she slept elsewhere. It’s been a pretty seamless transition – she doesn’t seem to have noted any difference to the crib and if she’s tricky to get down sometimes I can’t say it’s any different to when she was in the crib. We still have her in our room in the crib however in the evening and overnight.

When we got back from Florida naps were brilliant and we started getting some 1.5 hour naps in the morning, both while we were away and when we got back. The last month however has been another story… I’ll save it for next time!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Essentials for up to 4 months

This morning I’m continuing my list of essential (for us) items as we learn what we did and didn’t need and use as Bea gets bigger. This isn’t the obvious essentials (see more on that here,) for a baby, but the things that have been used every day and made a big difference to our lives, the things I’d recommend to every new mum. So here you go, the up to 4 months edition!

Baby Sleep Timer app
A Mummy essential first… this sleep timer saved my sanity! Around the 8-10 week mark Bea started to cry more than usual, particularly before sleeps. We exhausted ourselves thinking about what could be wrong and after a few days I realised we were totally missing her sleep cues and she was getting over-tired. This app tracks the baby’s sleep and as a result I know what her patterns are. When I’m out and about I find it really useful to know when she is ‘due’ a sleep (as we don’t use a rigid routine yet,) and it helps me stop second guessing myself as to what’s wrong when she is simply tired. Being able to see the patterns also helps me plan. Now she is 4 months we’re working towards a 3-4 nap routine and knowing what time her last sleep of the day is and when bedtime is due has made life so much easier. It essentially means we work with her sleep routine rather than trying to bend her to ours – far less painful!

Giraffe Squeakaboo Squeaker and Rattle Toy
This rattle was a gift and is one of her favourite toys. It is the perfect size for her tiny hands and that’s why it’s a firm favourite for practicing her grabbing, plus there’s a bonus jingle when she finally gets there and safe gnawing!

Bigjigs Toys BB050 Mini Roll Rattle (Blue)
This is also a favourite toy – it contains a bell, a squeak and crinkle in the stick part and she love to stare at it when I shake the bell and try to grab it. There is also textured fabric and it invariably goes straight into her mouth!

Mamas & Papas – MAGIC – Stargaze Stripe Playmat
On the toys front, this is hands down the best, well actually the only ‘baby entertainment’ buy we made. There are many cheaper baby gyms on the market but we bought this at 6 weeks and having bought her no other toys thus far, I felt it was worth splashing out on. The other reason we went for this over standard gyms was the integrated lights and sounds. I reasoned that at 6 months she didn’t really look round much and certainly wasn’t grabbing, so a static gym with hanging toys wasn’t going to do much. This has lights built in to the canopy that twinkle with very relaxing (spa-like rather than nerve-jangling baby) music! There’s a kick plate to change the lights and music, and dangling bits that do the same. She is absolutely transfixed when she’s on it and after 3 days gave a big smile the minute the music came on. Every morning she goes on there while I get breakfast and have a bit of me time to plan the day.

GroBag We used to swaddle Bea but when we came back from Florida and the temperature had dropped, plus Bea had grown big enough, we transitioned to a GroBag. I actually bought a neutral one from Mini Club at Boots, but any brand with the side poppers to adjust the size is essential, particularly if you have a small baby, due to the large age range on them. It’s one less thing to worry about knowing she can’t smother under blankets, particularly now she naps in the cot and blankets would have been harder to tuck in.

Mamas & Papas Baby Snug Raspberry
Now Bea is 4 months she is napping less and taking much more interest in the world around her. She’s not even close to sitting yet but we wanted her to be able to sit with us sometimes, to get a different view of the world, as otherwise she is always lying flat looking up. We don’t have a bouncer so it’s great to give me some hands free time when I’m eating, or preparing food and I imagine it will be useful when we start weaning with the built in tray. I also like that this one grows with the child, as the coloured insert slips out – perfect if you have a big baby!

So readers, do you have any of these items? Have I missed anything that you found a life saver at this stage?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS!
Essentials for the first 6 weeks

Bea’s first holiday // Flying with a baby (3 months)

Way before Bea was born my mum suggested a family holiday to celebrate a significant birthday. I was nervous about the thought of taking a baby away so young, for so many reasons, but had always vowed if I was going to have children, I wouldn’t change my life drastically, so I had to finally put my money where my mouth is. We just got back yesterday from Florida and managed to navigate the 8+ hour flight each way, including a night flight on our return and the 5 hour time difference so I thought I would share a little bit of what helped us.

Firstly, Bea is an easy baby and sleeps well which helped immensely, although I have to say it actually was the thing that worried me the most. Before she was born I thought, what’s the difference between sitting in my front room bouncing her, feeding her and getting her down for naps, to doing it on an aeroplane? I didn’t worry about jet lag as I figured she wouldn’t have a routine anyway at 14 weeks when we left. It turns out she did and we were just getting a pattern of sleeping from between 7.30 to 8.30ish until a dream feed, then through the night. I had no idea how to negotiate the jet lag for her. Secondly, we flew with Virgin Atlantic, choosing a direct flight to Orlando, as although it was further from our destination, we figured she would sleep in the car on route to the villa, and we wouldn’t have to haul our stuff and a potentially fractious baby through an airport transfer. In the end she was so good, I wouldn’t worry about doing a transfer at all in future.

Bea was almost 15 weeks when we left so I didn’t find packing too bad at all. I had bought summer clothes for her before she was born which she never fitted because she was so small, so we had plenty of warm weather stuff. Going to America made things much easier as did staying in a villa – I packed only enough nappies for the journey there and the next day, then bought more in the supermarket along with cotton wool for nappy changing. We only took a select few rattles etc for distraction, her bath time toiletries, a multitude of muslins and bedding for incase it was chilly at night.

Virgin allowed us to take a pushchair and a car seat as part of our baggage allowance so I bought a generic car seat cover (iSafe Universal Car Seat Travel Bag) to protect it and the Uppababy Vista Travel bag. This wasn’t cheap but comes with the guarantee that if the travel system is damaged in transit, they will rectify any damage. I’d thoroughly recommend it as it not only protects and stows the contents but it’s easy to pull around, with handles and wheels in all the right places. (Look out for the full review on the Uppababy coming soon…) We also used the bassinet part of the Uppababy as her crib to sleep in while we were away, and the full coverage was perfect for keeping her out of the sun when we pushed her around too. Lastly, we also took the wrap sling on the plane and walking on the beach with a (last minute purchase) hat as it kept her well covered from the sun again. We paid extra to fly with Virgin and direct but I don’t think it was worth it in retrospect. The flight flew by we were so busy with her and we only got a bassinet on the way out for her to sleep in – we were basically awake all night for fear of smothering her on the return leg because we couldn’t put her down safely. We had been assured that whilst not guaranteed, the sky cots are allocated on basis of need and there was unlikely to be 12 babies younger than Bea on board, but apparently those with disabilities got all the seats as a priority.

For the outbound flight I packed 3 baby gros and vests, (in case of poo-splosions etc!), 8 nappies, wipes, nappy bags, a blanket, 2 toys, 2 dummies, 2 muslins, plus my own mini toiletry bag for flying (with lip balm, hand cream, toothbrush and paste and alco-gel in case of needing to clean my hands without a sink!) and purse. Pete carried my magazine etc. All of this might seem a lot of detail but I agonised about what to take, where she would sleep etc in the run up, so I hope this helps someone. Oh, and a spare top in case of vomit related incidents, dribble bibs those disposable change mats I mentioned – perfect for a mid-transatlantic nappy leak in the worlds smallest changing facilities.

I decided on the outbound journey I would try to extend her normal daily routine of an hour or so awake, followed by a nap, beyond her normal bedtime until it was the right time at our destination. The flight was easy enough, although harder than I anticipated. Bea didn’t react to the white noise of the plane, in fact it seemed to wake her rather than soothe her, so she only slept for a few 30 minute stretches throughout the 8.5h flight and had a couple of fractious periods due to tiredness as a result, but on the whole she was great. We landed at about 4.30pm local time, which as 8.30pm our time. She was completely flat out as a result so I woke her, fed her and tried to keep her awake until we got in the car later. I let her sleep the 2 hour drive to the villa, then woke her as if it was her normal dream feed.

The first night she slept until 5.30am, the same the next, then almost 7am, and day by day she slowly readjusted. Other than in the afternoon on the first day when she was really unsettled and crying when we realised it was bed time for her body clock and she was exhausted, she adjusted brilliantly, going to bed earlier in the evening than usual which suited us anyway for eating out and the early waking for a few days didn’t bother us either as we were jet lagged and waking early too!

We’re still going through the aftermath of the return flight. It was a night fight, departing at 7.30pm and I figured I would feed her to sleep on the way up and not wake her for a dream feed, and get her up at the other end as though it was a normal day. We were slightly scuppered as we didn’t get allocated a baby bed for her which meant we both sat awake all night holding her. She was blissfully unaware and after a few startles and wakes at the beginning of the flight, very quickly soothed by feeding, she slept all the way through until we got in the taxi to go home. That was partly because it was 4am Florida time when we landed here at 8am, but I applied the same principles as the outward journey, although I felt like I was torturing her when she wouldn’t wake up. She napped throughout the day as usual (other than a very long one yesterday morning when we also had a cheeky snooze,) and will no doubt go to bed later than usual for a couple of nights as she adjusts back into her usual routine. I’m actually going to use it as an opportunity to get her into a bedtime routine and napping schedule for the first time ever. I’ll keep you posted in the comments later ;)

The holiday itself was worth any minor tiredness we suffered getting there and back. Bea had her first trip to the beach, her first dip in the sea, went swimming in the pool most days and got to play with Daddy every day! :D To be honest the hardest part was keeping her out of the sun which we managed by either using the wrap and a hat, or taking the bassinet on the beach and not going to the beach until the sun was pretty low.

If you’ve got any questions about anything I have missed out, or if you’ve got any great tips for travelling with a small baby please do share them. To be honest, I really don’t think travelling with a baby is much of a challenge compared with a toddler or active older baby, but as with everything new about having a baby, it can be a really daunting prospect. It’s never as bad as you think and it’s worth every moment of family time in the sun!

Love,
Rebecca
xo