Highchair suggestions, comments and advice

IMG_0502To go along with all the weaning posts and videos I am doing at the moment I thought I would do a quick post with some highchair advice.  Mainly because we made a big mistake with the first highchair we had for our eldest.  It looked great, it had a comfy padded seat that was wipe clean and a removable tray so I thought I had ticked all the boxes and was pretty chuffed with it for the first few months.

But

What you don’t realise when first buying a highchair is the extent of the abuse they will suffer from your little darlings 🙂 so, although the chair we went for had all of the above good points it also had some massive negatives and these are common pitfalls of a lot of highchairs so I thought I would share them with you.

Look for straps that are DETACHABLE; the straps take a lot of abuse in the form of mountains of food often in pureed form falling on them so a wipe down clean will literally not scratch the surface.  The replacement chair we went for had detachable straps and I just bung them in the washing machine!

Look for seats that are EASY TO CLEAN, now the seat on the first chair was wipeable and I thought I was winning but actually again if you can’t detach it from the highchair frame then a wipe clean won’t do the job, especially if there are thick cotton seams in the corners as these get very grubby after a while!

So what sort of chair would I recommend?  A very basic looking one, as you will very quickly realise that some of the prettier ones in the shops only last a few months before they are so disgusting you want to bin them.  The chair we went for second time around was the Mothercare MiHi Highchair (good point maybe to note that the first chair we had and were now chucking out, was also a Mothercare highchair but completely different design).  The other highchair we would have got second time around was the Ikea Antilop highchair with tray as that has all of the same positive features.  Both of these highchairs are cheap as chips but trust me they are the best on the market!

We have also very kindly been given a second hand Stokke Tripp Trapp chair for our eldest (no attachments just chair) which I do love, although I have no experience of the attachments for younger children.  But if you are adamant to splash a bit more cash on your highchair then maybe look at the Stokke Tripp Trapp or similar chairs.

 

Please note: I am just a mummy giving my opinion on products I have purchased and used.

Weaning top tips

IMG_0502Weaning (British meaning – starting to give your baby food as well as milk) is a really fun and exciting time for parents and babies.  But even for second-time-round parents, a quick refresher of all the recommendations, dos and don’ts and ‘rules’ of this milestone is helpful.

Just a reassuring word from someone who has done it all before and is doing it again can be good.  So here it is.

Quick disclaimer, I am not a health professional, I am just a mummy who is about to start weaning her second baby.  I also don’t tend to follow the million and one rules and regulations certain baby websites, parents, food companies and so on decide to create when it comes to weaning.

Who would have thought that the simple subject of giving our little people their first tastes of ‘real’ food could be so controversial and filled with rules!

So here are my TOP TIPS:

  1. When to start weaning – personally I have waited until 6months with both my girls, because I like to know they will cope well with any food from the start, but it really does depend on you and your baby, many people start a bit earlier.  Look for cues that your baby is ready; wait until your baby can sit up in a highchair, until they can guide things to their mouth and when they start grabbing food out of your hand it is a good signal they are ready.

  2. Don’t worry about mess – starting to give first tastes is all about experimenting and learning, so in reality not a lot of food actually goes down the hatch!  The majority will be all over your baby’s face & body, the highchair, the floor and the walls (if they are a really good aim).  A good highchair (keep an eye out for my highchairs post, coming soon) and a wipe clean mat on the floor are all good ideas as well as lots of good bibs.

  3. Big brothers/sisters are a big help – babies seem to learn the quickest through watching their older siblings, so sitting them down together at meal times so they have a good (sort of) example and so the older ones can help to feed and encourage the baby are great ideas.

  4. Some babies like to do it themselves – a lot of babies like to hold the spoon and my eldest was one of these, so I let her!  It sounds simple, but the amount of people I see trying to stop their baby from getting the spoon, or giving the baby an empty spoon to hold while they ‘sneak’ food into the baby’s mouth, baffles me some what.  I know it can be messy but you are teaching them to eat, so if they want to do it themselves from the start then fantastic! See BLW below too.

  5. Variety and flavour – would you eat the things you are feeding your baby?  Now I am not saying give them some spicy chilli and a glass of wine!  But don’t be surprised if the mashed up, luke warm carrot doesn’t go down so well.  Mix things up and give some different, tasty, healthy options.

  6. BLW – I LOVE Baby Led Weaning (BLW) which is basically the idea that babies can have ‘normal food’ from the start so you just hand them the same food you are eating in suitable sized pieces and they feed themselves.  Although I do a mix of both BLW and some purees/pots/pouches I think there is a lot to learn from the BLW ethos, so check it out.

  7. Everything doesn’t have to be home made – so weaning is one of those areas where parents like to compete in the ‘I am earth mother extraordinaire’ games and you here many a parent brag about the reams of homemade (ice cube trays full of) stuff they have made for their little darling.  But the truth is, there are a lot of really good pots, pouches and trays of baby food available now, so don’t beat yourself into a mush (get it! 😉 ) over making everything yourself.

  8. Don’t eat it all up! / how much to feed them – while I am a very non-interfering and non-judgemental person when it comes to others’ parenting methods, I always sigh when I see parents trying to force those last few bits of the jar/pouch down their baby, or insist they eat everything on their plate.  Base how much you feed them, on their appetite, not the size of the packet.                                                                                                          As a rough guide babies tend to eat the following amounts: 4-6months = few mouthfuls a day / 7-9months = 3 different meals a day but amount guided by baby’s appetite / 12months+ = 3 meals a day with 2-3 healthy snacks.

  9. First foods – Vegetables are the best first foods (eg. cooked carrot, potato, sweet potato, broccoli, butternut squash) then fruit is good next (eg. avocado, banana, pear).  But after those first few tastes move onto everything (only couple of rules, see below).  Include all food groups: cereals (eg. bread, pasta, rice twice daily), fruit+veg (in all meals), protein (eg. meat, fish, beans, eggs twice daily) and dairy (eg. yoghurt, cheese once daily).

  10. When to feed – choose times when they are alert, not too hungry but not full either and when they are happy.  Don’t try to substitute milk feeds with solids, instead offer a little milk first, if they are so hungry they are upset or frustrated, or give milk feed after they have tasted some new yummy food.

  11. Drinks– once you have started giving solid food, babies can have cooled boiled water as a drink with their food, give it in a ‘sippy cup’ – a cup with a lid and a free-flow opening, so they don’t have to suck to drink and therefore begin to learn to drink from a proper cup.  Avoid giving juice as it offers no benefits and can create bad habits.  Cows milk isn’t suitable as main drink until 1yr but you can use it in cooking before then.

  12. Food safety – bit of a no-brainer; wash your hands and equipment and sterilise before feeding.  Throw away any unfinished served food as bacteria can be transferred from babies mouth to the food.  Heat food well, watch out for hotspots, ensure food is thoroughly defrosted if frozen and always check the temperature of food before serving.

  13. Cutting down the milk feeds? – Breastmilk/formula is still an important source of nutrition for baby until they are 1year old.  They still need milk and food is about fun at first.  Don’t force dropping of milk feeds, still feed on demand.  Naturally baby will start taking less and drop feeds by themselves.

  14. Food is FUN! – these first few months are all about fun, learning and good habits.  Don’t worry if things don’t get off to a good start or if they just play with the food, remember that children learn through play!  Even if you feel a bit anxious when giving them new food to try, do it with a smile, your baby will read your body language so give lots of encouragement.

  15. The rules I DO follow – so, while I don’t follow a lot of the excessive rules floating around today there are a few key things I would recommend:           No Salt in baby’s food, No Honey until baby is 1year old, Halve grapes and other round food before giving to baby, Serve eggs well cooked, Give full fat dairy and ensure water given for drinks is cooled boiled water.

My breastfeeding experience

I had always wanted to breastfeed, it’s hard to explain but I had a really strong feeling about breastfeeding.  My mum breastfed me, my sister and my brother, but being the youngest I hadn’t had any experience with babies full stop.

When my brother’s little girl was born, his wife decided to express and bottle feed.  It was nice being able to feed my niece but it was so much work for my sister in law; she had to take time out to express, clean and sterilise the bottles, store the milk and warm it when needed!  I knew I didn’t want to have to go through all that when I had my children as I hate washing up at the best of times!  When I was pregnant with my first little girl though, the thought that something might stop me from being able to breastfeed worried me so much.

My first baby was born in theatre by forceps 37.5 hours after the contractions started and after an hour and half of pushing (she was back to back)!  Because we were in theatre and I had been given an emergency spinal I couldn’t have skin to skin contact with her straight away.  I was begging the staff to put her on my chest as although I was holding her next to me (wrapped in a towel) I couldn’t move due to the anaesthetic.  I was so desperate to have that contact and she looked as though she wanted to feed.

Eventually after asking many times they helped put her on my chest and latch on.  It was the best feeling in the world!  I was in such an awkward position on the bed, unable to move from the waist down and had a very poorly fitted cannula in my arm but I wasn’t going to let it stop me.  I had an extraordinary amount of colostrum, it was going all over the baby’s face!  The midwives joked that we could have filled a bottle with it.  But she was feeding well and I was so happy.

My happiness fell apart when a few hours later, on the ward, my baby was sleeping and the hospital staff came in and said it was very important to wake her and feed straight away as she had been sleeping too long without a feed!

I was so angry that they hadn’t told us this before and now we were panicking.  She was too sleepy to feed and I struggled to get her latched on.  I had the most horrible nurse (who smelt strongly of cigarettes) trying to help me and I was getting very upset.  It had been visiting time too, so my partner took his mum out and my dad went into the corridor.  I wanted my mum to stay but the nurse told her she had to leave as visiting hours were over.

I was then left on an empty ward with this awful nurse.  She told me I needed to express some milk by hand and tried to tell me how to, but then proceeded to hand express me herself before I even had a chance to try!!  It was awful, so awkward and her nails were digging into my boob.  My partner had just got home and called my mobile to check I was okay, she told me to take the call while she carried on!  She was trying to express my milk into a syringe and flicked it to remove an air bubble at one point, flicking milk in my face!  To which she said ‘ah you will get much worse on your face now you’re a mum’!  Eventually she realised that I had quite a lot of milk and it would be a lot easier to express into a cup rather than a syringe.  After she had expressed a decent amount she fed it to my baby from the cup.

The way she handled my baby and talked about how I would soon be breastfeeding with baby in one hand and doing the housework with the other, made me really uncomfortable, my baby had only just been born, she was not a thing for some nurse to show off with!   However, I was just happy that nobody had suggested my baby be given a bottle and after the cup of expressed milk she latched on brilliantly.

The nurses gave me a sheet to record all her feeds on and although my nipples were a little sore it was going well and I was discharged from the hospital.  Once at home I would literally just get my boob out to feed, as establishing feeding and good latch was the most important thing to me.  I did start to worry about how I would ever be able to feed in public, as trying to use a blanket to cover up was so difficult.

Obviously I needn’t have worried as the more I fed the easier it became.  However, I never have felt comfortable using a blanket to cover my baby when feeding and instead wear layers and pull one layer up, one layer down, so nothing is on show.  Having a muslin to hand is always useful too, not only for leakages but if the baby does suddenly pull away you can quickly cover up.

Now my ‘baby’ is 4years old and I breastfed her up until she was just over 1, see my post on ‘when to stop breastfeeding HERE‘.  I am now breastfeeding my second baby and can happily report that nothing like the above happened this time around.

I have breastfed all over the place, including on a packed train.  That’s one of the best things about breastfeeding; you can do it anywhere, anytime, with minimal fuss.  On that train for example, it was very full and my baby was unsettled, there wasn’t enough room for me to get things out my bag, but I could discreetly cuddle her to me and soothe her with a feed.

On the topic of public feeding I think people underestimate how many people they ‘see’ breastfeeding when out and about, as the majority will do it so discreetly that most people will not even notice.  You really can breastfeed your baby, without using a cover, and without anyone seeing your breasts!  I know because I’ve done it! 🙂

The other major positive of breastfeeding that I found with my first baby, was that although both my partner and I were ill with colds etc the baby never caught it!  This can only be because of the immunity she got from breastmilk and it meant she was over 1yr old before she was ill or had to have any medicine! Brilliant!

Breastfeeding my baby has been one of the most enjoyable parts of becoming a mummy and I wouldn’t change anything it for the world.  I know many people struggle with breastfeeding and it’s not for everyone, but I think there is also a serious lack of support, advice and education for new mums in this area; you can read more on my thoughts and experience of this HERE.

Ten Reasons why I love breastfeeding:  1) Special cuddle time with baby.  2) No sterilisation needed.  3) Feed preparation very quick (consists of get boob out).  4) Immunity it gives baby.  5) Helps you get your figure back quicker after birth.  6) Milk is always the right temperature.  7) Milk is tailored for my baby – exactly what she needs.  8) It’s stopping my periods! 🙂  9) No washing bottles etc required.  10) Feeding when out and about is very easy (don’t have to pack milk etc).

Breastfeeding support????

A family member has just had her first baby and the issues she’s facing with breastfeeding have led to my decision to add some breastfeeding posts to my Blog.

First of all to outline my personal position; I always wanted to breastfeed, I was really looking forward to it and worried that I wouldn’t be able to do it because that would have really upset me.  You can read more about my experience with breastfeeding HERE as this post is more about how mums in general are supported (or not) with feeding.

Going back to the new mum, she is currently finding breastfeeding quite hard.  Like many mums breastfeeding for the first time, she’s worrying about having enough milk, the baby latching on correctly, the frequency and duration of the feeds and nipple discomfort to name just a few.  After giving birth, a woman’s hormones are all over the place anyway without the pressure to learn a new skill that your baby depends on!

That word there is the key issue with breastfeeding – pressure!  Now even as someone who is a keen breastfeeding advocate determined to breastfeed no matter what, I have felt an extraordinary amount of pressure throughout my breastfeeding experience from a number of sources and each with a different agenda.  When breastfeeding my first child I felt pressure from all of the following people:

My mum – Made many comments in the first few weeks about the noise my baby made when feeding.  She was quite a noisy eater in the early days and it probably was, in hindsight, something you would comment on.  But, she was feeding fine and these comments made me (at first time mum at the time) feel very self conscious about feeding her and paranoid I was doing something wrong.

My partner – Like many dads, my partner felt a bit excluded when it came to breastfeeding and at one point pushed for me to express so that the baby could be fed by other people (mainly him).  This destroyed me at the time, I understood how he felt and wanted to help him but didn’t want to express for a number of reasons.  As it worked out I didn’t have to but the arguments over it broke my heart.

Another person – Oh where do I start!  She used to sit very close to me while I was feeding and even touched my boob once while asking if the baby could breathe!  She used to comment a lot about the duration of my baby’s feeds and how she got distracted by things in the room; my baby has always been a short feeder, which is perfectly normal, every baby feeds for different duration.  At one point she also started saying that my baby was not getting enough from just breast milk and I needed to start giving her formula top ups as well!  Now that couldn’t have been further from the truth.  There were also comments about giving her water in a bottle.  Current advice states that breastfed babies don’t need water until they start solids; when we started weaning our baby she started having water from a sippy cup, she has never had a bottle because she hasn’t needed one.

The public – breastfeeding in public for the first time and during those first few weeks is daunting for even the most adamant breastfeeding supporters like me.  It took me a long time to feel confident enough to feed in public.  That didn’t last long however and now I will feed wherever, whenever my baby needs it! 🙂  But public opinion is a big issue for many breastfeeding mothers and it’s shocking how many stories there are of mothers being told to stop feeding their babies when in public or even being verbally abused while feeding.

Other mums – there seems to be a lot of conflict over feeding between mums themselves, probably fuelled by both sides having their own advantages and disadvantages and mums feeling the need to defend their choice, whether it’s breast or bottle.  I think this is such a shame, why can’t all mums support one another and respect that the decision is a personal one with many factors to consider?

I don’t know what it is about feeding a baby that makes everyone think they need to put their opinion across, or why people get so involved when it’s not their baby, but it needs to stop.

A new mum, especially a first time mum, needs support.  She is tired, anxious, trying to do her best and probably paranoid about whether she is doing things right as it is.

Breastfeeding is an incredible, natural thing, but it is a skill and it does take time to master.  New mums need the space and time to work on it and someone to help them out so they can get a chance to eat, sleep and wash; these things become luxuries when you have a baby!

Furthermore, if a mum decides she wants to express and either combine breast and bottle or do bottle only then that’s fine.  BUT telling a new mum to start expressing just because she’s finding it hard or for some other reason, is not helpful.  Even those that want to combine are advised to wait until the baby is happy with its latch, otherwise baby can get confused and breastfeeding will be even harder to establish.  Breastfeeding is also a very personal thing and mums can often feel useless, or a failure if they are finding it hard, so someone suggesting they switch to bottle can be a real knock to their confidence.

I know breastfeeding isn’t for everyone and I support any decision a mum makes, but I think it’s such a shame that I know so many mums who tried to breastfeed, but weren’t given the correct support and therefore stopped.

Now I am breastfeeding my second baby I truly couldn’t give a toss about anyone else’s opinions and I am first to put a stop to any ‘bressure’ I witness.

When will I stop breastfeeding?

When will I stop breastfeeding?  Before I had my first baby I knew I wanted to breastfeed, but I didn’t really consider how long I would breastfeed for.  I knew that it is recommended for babies to be fed only breast/formula milk until they are 6months old, so I had an aim in mind of breastfeeding for at least 6months.  I had this aim mainly because I knew it was important to try and be relaxed about breastfeeding and I was aware that it might not be as easy as I hoped, but I was a keen breastfeeding supporter and really wanted to do it.

A few days after I had, had my first baby, a friends mum came to visit me and she told me how her youngest child (now a teenager) breastfed for a really long time.  The really long time she was referring to was, a year.  At that time, only days into breastfeeding, I agreed that a year was a very long time.  However, as I got further into breastfeeding and definitely now; having stopped breastfeeding my eldest 2years ago (when she turned 1!) and currently breastfeeding my 6month old,  I don’t agree that one year is a really long time!  In fact I think one year is the perfect amount of time!

Children can’t have cow’s milk as a drink until they are one year old, so stopping breastfeeding before then means you have to give them formula milk.  Don’t get me wrong, this had been my intention if I had stopped at 6 months and if I ever struggled to bf then I would have no issue with formula feeding, but why would I stop bf before my baby is old enough to have cow’s milk? formula is a breastmilk substitute!

Someone also said to me when I was still bf my eldest at 10months, that I would “have difficulty getting my baby to stop breastfeeding as she gets older”.  This couldn’t have been further from the truth; as she got older, started eating solid food and drinking water SHE cut down naturally how many milk feeds she wanted.  Stopping bf was never an issue for me as by 1year she was only having one feed a day and then dropped that easily when having cow’s milk.

Now, there are times when part of me looks forward to stopping breastfeeding; For example, I am only wearing nursing bras (with no underwire) as that is what’s recommended, so sometimes I long to wear a sexy bra that puts my boobs back where they used to be!  It would also be nice not having to plan my outfit based on accessibility for feeding.

But, breastfeeding is also one of the best things I have ever done and I think one of the best gifts I could have given my girls.  It is sad that breastfeeding mums don’t get more support (You can read further information on my experience and thoughts on this HERE).  It is also sad that mothers who choose to continue breastfeeding their children past a certain age are considered strange and heavily judged.

As an experienced, second time around, bf mum I couldn’t care less what anyone thinks of my breastfeeding choices, but I am finding every ‘mum friend’ that I tell the ‘story’ about my eldest never having had a bottle, reacts slightly shocked, if not completely surprised or confused.

This is not a formula vs. breastmilk debate; that debate is pointless and irrelevant to me as it can be started and ended with one sentence – What you feed YOUR baby is YOUR choice.

But, the issue of how long women choose to breastfeed is entirely different and I think it is such a shame that society today thinks after a few months every baby should be on the bottle!