Gentle sleep tips for toddlers

Does your toddler sleep through the night? Most do, but if your answer is a very firm ‘no’ then rest assured you’re not alone! Every child is different and they all reach certain milestones at different stages; your toddler might just need a little more persuasion than others about the joy of staying in bed at night time! That said, broken nights that drag on longer than two years can be incredibly draining and no doubt there have been days where you’ve felt you just cannot make it through to bedtime… We feel your pain. Here are some gentle sleep tips for toddlers that will hopefully help you and your toddler to get a better night’s sleep sooner rather than later.

Why the gentle approach?

 Toddlers can be fickle little things at the best of times, and by the age of around 18 months or so any habit that they’ve formed will no doubt be very well formed indeed! Translated as- you might not find it easy to persuade them to break their habit of waking. By taking a gentle approach, you can make small progressions towards that full night’s sleep without disturbing or upsetting your toddler, or yourself. Gentle sleep training relies on working with your child’s needs and emotions in at the forefront of your mind. You allow your toddler to lead the way and you gently teach them independent sleep habits to replace their old habits.

Understanding sleep issues

 Hopefully your toddler is able to talk to you and tell you why they’re waking at night times. Take some time to talk to them and ask them why, and explain why it’s a good idea for them to stay in bed to sleep at night times. It might be that your toddler reveals something that can be easily rectified- perhaps they’re missing a comforter or teddy bear, or perhaps it’s a fear of the dark preventing them from falling back to sleep when they wake.

Make sure your bedtime routine is calm

 A calm and peaceful bedtime routine will work wonders for your toddler’s night sleep. And consistency is key here. Try to do your routine at the same time each night, with everything in the same order so that your toddler knows what to expect and when.

What to do if your toddler struggles to fall asleep

 Sometimes it’s going to bed that poses the problem for toddlers. If you spend longer than you like putting your toddler to bed, and longer still traipsing up and down the stairs before they finally settle, then maybe these tips will help you:

  • Agree to a bedtime that suits the whole family (and not just your toddler!) and stick to it. Let your toddler have a say if they’re old enough, so that they feel an element of control.
  • Agree on a bedtime routine with your toddler, and stick to it so that there is no confusion as to when they’re expected to get into bed.
  • Make sure your toddler’s bedroom is dim, and at the right temperature for sleep.
  • If your toddler wants you to stay after the lights go out, this is fine for the first few nights. And if they call you after you’ve left the room, always make sure you go back into comfort them.
  • If your toddler needs to you to stay while they fall asleep, then make sure you stay until they are definitely asleep- they will check!
  • After a few nights, gradually reduce the length of time that you spend in the room, until your toddler is confident enough to fall asleep independently.

The aim here is to eventually put your toddler to bed, turn out the lights and go downstairs to put your feet up!

What to do if your toddler wakes in the night

If your toddler wakes through the night, the first thing you need to do is try and determine why. Is the room too hot, or too cold? Are they thirsty? Try to eliminate as many reasons as possible. Then repeat your gentle sleep training techniques as already described, until your toddler falls asleep again. It’s worth noting here that if your toddler wakes and asks to come into your bed with you, that’s fine to do- as long as you’re happy to bed share and you are able to do it safely. Read these guidelines to make sure you’re safe.

Remember that it’s important to stay positive with your toddler, and to celebrate every small achievement in this journey. They will develop better sleeping habits eventually, and while these days seem long we promise they will be relatively short-lived in the grand scheme of things. Good luck!

 

Tips and tricks for dealing with fussy eaters

As a parent, there’s nothing more frustrating than when you’ve spent time cooking and preparing a meal, only for it to be greeted with the dreaded word, Yuck! Quite often this scenario ends in one or more parents hurrying around, throwing together a mixture of meals to please all the little tummies at the table- but this leads to more frustration as mealtimes become a battleground! So what came we do to combat these fussy little people? We don’t claim to be experts but we are experienced with mealtime battles, so we’ve put together some tips and tricks for dealing with fussy eaters- let us know if you try any and how it went!

You are not alone!

 First of all, it might help you to know that you most certainly are not alone if you have a fussy eater at home. At least every family has experienced this and often it’s a normal part of growing up. Please don’t compare your child to anyone else’s- this will only lead to frustration and upset and there’s enough of that already when your toddler is throwing a tantrum over tonight’s meal choice! Remember that your child is unique with individual tastes and opinions, and nothing you do is going to change that. So let’s work with it, shall we?

Involve your child in meal planning

 If your child is old enough, ask them to help you plan out the meals for the week, or maybe just for the day if you’d prefer. Ask them to choose the foods that they like and try to put them into each meal if you can. Hopefully, this will be an incentive for your child to try something new at dinner time.

Another way to get the kids involved with meal planning is by asking every family member to choose their favourite meal, and pick a day of the week to have that meal. When it’s your turn, everyone else in the family has to eat what you’ve chosen, and then on other days you have to eat what someone else has chosen. This can work so well for older kids, and helps to teach turn taking and tolerance too.

Don’t force empty plates- and watch your portions!

 Sometimes children can become overwhelmed by the sheer amount of food on their plates. Take a look at this handy guide to children’s portion sizes to check you aren’t piling on too much when you’re dishing up. Another excellent tip at mealtimes is to reassure your child that you don’t expect them to eat everything on their plate. This can work wonders for relieving the stress that some children feel at mealtimes, and will help to reduce your anxiety levels too. Sometimes it helps children to know exactly how much you expect them to eat, so maybe start with ‘let’s try three carrots first’, and move on from there. Ultimately it’s a good idea to allow your child to lead with their own appetite at mealtimes.

Set a good example

 Now, why should your child ‘eat up their greens’ if they don’t see any on your own plate? And how can they be expected to sit nicely at mealtimes if you are either on your phone, or not even sitting at the table with them? We are our children’s role models and they will only learn good table manners if we show them. Studies have also found that children respond well to sitting down at a table to eat too, so don’t be tempted to eat in front of the TV every night. Make family meal time an occasion to look forward to every day if you can. It’s not always possible when you’re busy, but you will see the difference if you do make time.

Explain good nutrition and where food comes from

 Kids are never too young to learn the origins of their food, and they’re like little sponges with new information! So tell them what they’re eating, why it’s so good for them and how it’s made too. Let them come with you to dig up potatoes from the garden, or to the supermarket to choose ingredients for meals etc.

What are your top tips for fussy eaters?

Your natural medicine cabinet

When it comes to the health of your little ones, it goes without saying that you want to do only the best for them. And while this does mean your family doctor is likely to be the most trusted source of advice and information, that doesn’t mean that you can’t remedy some ailments yourself at home. We love the idea of creating an all-natural medicine cabinet, and today’s post has lots of tips and information on how to create one yourself. Of course, please do always seek professional medical advice when your little one is not well; this post is not intended to be a replacement for medical attention. However, if you are interested in natural remedies, here is a quick guide to creating your natural medicine cabinet.

What is natural medicine?

Natural medicine is, put simply, a practice whereby herbs are used to treat ailments and illnesses in place of prescription medicines. It’s important to have a sound understanding of natural medicines, and if in doubt always seek professional advice. When you buy herbal treatments, check the label for the words Traditional Herbal Registration because this means that the product you’re using has been assessed against safety standards. It’s also worth noting that you should seek advice if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, and when using with children.

Top ten items for your natural medicine cabinet

If you are informed and ready to start, here are our top ten items to include in your natural medicine cabinet:

Vitamin C. surely the greatest weapon against coughs, colds and illnesses. Vitamin C can be found in lots of natural sources, but if you keep some powdered versions handy in your cabinet, you will be fully equipped as soon as the first signs of illness strike.

Peppermint essential oil. A wonderful resource to have in your medicine cabinet as it can be very effective in treating nausea, headaches and muscle aches. It’s also fantastic for reducing fevers when rubbed (diluted) onto children’s feet.

Chamomile for soothing, calming and relaxing. Great in teas, and wonderful in the bath. Chamomile can be used to treat minor skin conditions and can help babies to sleep too.

Lavender can be used in many ways, often in conjunction with chamomile, and is wonderful for calming and soothing too. Lavender essential oil can be used to treat wounds and relieve pain and is great for helping little ones to relax at bedtime too.

Eucalyptus essential oil is wonderful to use when your little ones have a cold as it is known to soothe the lungs and clear congestion. It also has antibacterial and antiviral properties.

Saline spray can help to unblock little noses and relieve congestion during cold season, and is suitable for the smallest of babies too.

Ginger is a must have for any natural medicine cabinet. Ginger capsules are wonderful for upset tummies and an effective treatment for heartburn, nausea, indigestion too. Ginger can also be beneficial for children suffering from travel sickness, and for easing symptoms of nausea during pregnancy.

Arnica is great for treating bruises and trauma to the body because it reduces healing time and soothes sore muscles right after an injury.

Coconut oil is one of life’s little miracles. There are SO many uses for this wonderful stuff and aside from tasting great when used in cooking, coconut oil can be used to moisturise skin, hair and nails- as well as treat nappy rash, minor skin conditions and chapped lips.

Raw organic honey- not only does it taste great, but its health benefits can be utilised in other ways too. Use to treat minor burns and grazes on the skin, or use it to moisturise minor skin conditions too. Honey and ginger in hot water is also great for relieving symptoms of nausea too.

Guide to using your natural medicine cabinet

Keen to get started with your natural medicine cabinet? Here are some tips to help you:

  • As with all other medications, keep your natural medicine cabinet out the reach of children, and make sure you check the contents regularly. Use with caution and always seek professional medical guidance when illnesses occur.
  • Stock up gradually. Your cabinet will probably never hold everything you want or need to treat ailments and illnesses, so don’t try to fill it all at once. Read up carefully as and when you need to treat a condition and make an informed choice each time you add a new natural remedy.
  • Slowly replace over the counter remedies with your natural choices, so that the expense of doing so is not a major blow. Often herbal remedies can be pricey, but they are more guaranteed to last longer and be more effective in the long run.
  • Read up on recipes that you can follow to make your own medicines.

 

Kale for Kids

Kale, it’s naturally nutritious, but unfortunately, most kids don’t find it delicious! If you live with fussy eaters, you will understand just how hard it can be to entice them to eat anything green; especially kale. Luckily, this dark green leafy super food can be hidden in many tasty dishes; which is a bonus, as your fussy little eaters won’t even know they’re eating it.

Why Is Kale So Fantastic?

Kale is a nutritional power house food that supplies our body with an array of nutrients, like vitamin A, vitamin C, good fats and fibre.

Eating Kale Strengthens Your Immune System

Kale has an abundant amount of vitamin C; which is known to be one of the largest immune system supporters of all time. A daily dose of vitamin C is a MUST for kids, due to its substantial amount of health benefits. It not only boosts your child’s immune system, but it also helps repair red blood cells, strengthens your child’s blood vessels and helps heal cuts and bruises too.

Kale Makes You Brainy

Kale is the king of good fats; strange I know, you don’t often think of vegetables to be fatty, but these hidden fats are essential for your child’s brain health. This great green vegetable has an ample amount of omega-3 (good fat), which supports cognitive development by nurturing the growth of the neurons and supporting them as they connect to one another. Due to its nurturing role within the brain, it may also help a child to manage any psychological or behavior problems as it supports the function of the neurotransmitters. For this reason increasing the level of omega fats in your child’s diet also has a positive effect on their mood and memory.

Kale Helps You Grow.

Kale contains vitamin A, which plays an important part in a child’s development as it promotes healthy cell growth within their body – it also plays a significant role in supporting healthy bone growth and vision. This fantastic vegetable is also enriched with calcium and potassium; which is essential for keeping our kid’s bones healthy.

Here are six sneaky ways to hide kale in cuisine and allure your children to eat it:

• Chocolate Fudge Pops (recipe below)
• Crispy Kale Crisp
• Fruity Kale Green Smoothie
• Kale & Banana Pancakes
• Cheese, Kale and Avocado Pasta
• Sneaky Kale Meatballs

All these recipes are on my website- so why not check out the recipe section and start sneaking.

Kale Chocolate Pops

Ingredients:
1 Medium Banana
50g Kale (stalks removed)
50g Hot Chocolate Powder
400ml Coconut Milk
85 ml Double Cream
2 Tsp. Vanilla Essence
150g Good Quality Chocolate (broken into small pieces)

Method:

1. Gently heat the coconut milk and hot chocolate powder in a saucepan until it’s blended together. Add the double cream, vanilla essence and chocolate, stir continually until the chocolate has melted.
2. When the mixture is combined pour into a food processor with the kale and banana, then blend until smooth.
3. Divide the mixture between 8 ice pop moulds and insert pop sticks. Freeze for at least 4 hours before serving.

Three Self Care Tips for Dealing With Postnatal Anxiety

When you have a new baby, there is so much excitement and so much love surrounding you. You have visitors, cards, phone calls and emails congratulating you, and not to mention the gifts! So many gifts! New mums are literally inundated with well wishes and this is a lovely thing to happen. The thing is though, that while this honeymoon period doesn’t last, it can be rather overwhelming. And with all the well wishes and joy that a new baby brings, let’s not forget the hormones that are still raging around your body too. All of this can make for a confusing mix of emotions, to say the least. Many people are well versed with the prospect of the so-called ‘baby blues’, but what if there is something else going on too? Recent studies have found that postnatal anxiety is more common than previously assumed, so what help is out there for women who are suffering? 

 What is postnatal anxiety?

Postnatal anxiety is not as rare as you might think. Sometimes the emotions that flood you after your baby is born can be transferred into feelings of worry and anxiety, and this is absolutely and completely 100% normal. We new mums are supposed to worry about our babies. This is a natural instinct and the reason why the human race has managed to survive for so long. After all, our babies are helpless and if we didn’t worry about them they wouldn’t last too long at all. So some degree of worry is completely normal and to be expected. It’s when the worry turns to anxiety that starts to impact on everyday life that help is needed.

 If you think you are experiencing postnatal anxiety it is really important to seek some help. It might be that simply talking through your fears can be a huge help, or it might be that alternative treatment is needed. Sometimes medications are used, but for many women counselling sessions can help immensely. There is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to seeking help; hopefully your health visitor will notice that you are experiencing anxiety and will offer help sooner rather than later. But if no help is forthcoming, requesting someone to talk to is an important first step to take.

 Self-care

 It may be a bit of a buzz word at the moment, but there is a reason why self-care is gaining in popularity right now. We are the masters of our own destiny, or so they say, after all. If you are experiencing anxiety, there are things that you can do to help control those feelings. It’s easy to forget about your own needs when you have a small baby to take care of, but honestly putting your needs at the forefront of your mind now and then will certainly benefit you and your baby so please don’t neglect yourself. Here are three self-care tips we swear by- I hope they help you too.

 Stay active

When you’re a new mum, it might feel like you are always on your feet, and the lack of sleep at night can be a killer during the day. Exercise may be the last thing you feel like doing but studies have found that exercise is actually one of nature’s most powerful remedies for low mood and anxiety.

Just 15 minutes of activity a day can help to soothe the mind and boost the surge of powerful endorphins that will lift your mood and clear some of the fog. And if you’re doing something for YOU, that is going to lift your mood too. You don’t need to book yourself into the gym either. Go for a walk with the pram, or practise some peaceful yoga while the baby sleeps. Ask someone else to take the baby while you go for a walk, if you’re comfortable with that. There are so many ways that you can keep active – for more information visit this site.

Sleep

Sleep can be a huge factor when it comes to anxiety, and especially when you have a new baby. It’s not easy, but making sleep a priority for yourself as well as for your baby is vital. If you’re having trouble sleeping make sure you speak to your GP for advice, and if you can sleep when baby sleeps then please do. It’s also a good idea to speak to your partner about sharing some of the night feeds too.

 Keep a journal

Sometimes, as a new mum it’s easy to feel a little invisible. Once baby is born, focus shifts on to them and away from you and it’s easier to tell people that you feel fine rather than the truth- that you are finding things hard. So many women find it hard to ask for help or to admit that they’re struggling. If this is you, keeping a journal might help. Sometimes writing down our worries and concerns can help us to feel more in control of our emotions, and help us to see solutions for problems that can seem overwhelming. You can also try gratitude journals or achievements journals that can help with feelings of low self esteem too.

Remember that you’re not alone. If you’re suffering, please do speak out and ask for help.

Introducing solid foods to your baby

For at least the first six months of your baby’s life, the only nutrition she needs comes in the form of milk, whether it is from the breast or the bottle. Breast milk is tailored to your baby’s needs and each feed provides your her with the essential vitamins, minerals and antibodies that she needs to remain healthy and strong. Similarly, formula milks are designed to provide your baby with all that she needs until solid foods are introduced. After six months, your baby’s digestive system is ready to try something a little different- and that is where the fun really begins! Not sure where to start? Read our guide on introducing solid foods to your baby.

Time it right

Your baby will start to show signs that she is ready to be weaned onto solid food, but it’s important to time it right. Your baby is not a robot; she may be ready for solid food slightly before the age of six months, or much later than this. Let yourself be guided by her, and not by what other people are doing with their babies. It is certainly wise to follow guidelines that recommend solid food is not introduced until the age of six months, but if you do have any questions speak to your doctor or health visitor who will be able to advise you. In general, the signs that your baby is ready for solid food are:

● Baby shows an interest in food and watches people as they eat
● Baby is able to hold up her head independently, and to sit up in a chair without support
● Baby is able to chew and swallow

Babyled weaning

If you’re certain that your baby is ready to move on to solid foods, it’s worth doing a little research into babyled weaning. Before the World Health Organisation amended their guidelines to recommend weaning begins no earlier than six months, the age that most parents introduced solid foods was four months. At that age, babies were being fed pureed food, which requires very little chewing. Since guidelines were amended, experts have come to believe that babyled weaning is actually a lot more beneficial for baby, and that by the age of six months your baby has developed significant skills that mean she is now able to chew lumpier food.

What is babyled weaning?

Babyled weaning, put simply, means to follow your baby’s lead when it comes to the whole weaning process. Allowing baby to pick and choose foods she wants to eat, and taking a step back in the process. It is a way of nurturing her self-confidence and encouraging healthy eating habits from the very beginning. It is often a concept that lots of parents struggle with initially, as it means providing foods for your baby that traditionally might not have otherwise been on the menu. It requires a fair amount of patience and understanding on your part, as most meals will see you presenting your baby with a selection of foods that she then picks and chooses from. Some foods she will eat- with gusto!- and some she will not. The temptation will be there to try and feed her yourself, but babyled weaning is all about allowing your baby to lead the way, and to feed herself with the foods that she wants to eat.

The benefits of babyled weaning

Lots of research has gone into weaning, and babyled weaning in particular. Studies have found that there are huge benefits in allowing your baby to take control of the whole weaning process, and they include:

● Babies learn the process of eating a lot more quickly when they are given ‘proper’ food over purees. With pureed food, babies learn to swallow food without lumps and sometimes display resistance when more textured foods are introduced. Babies who are given lumpier foods learn to chew and swallow simultaneously, thus eliminating these issues.
● Babyled weaning often means that baby is exposed to a wider range of foods; this helps to encourage a healthy attitude towards food and eating.
● Babyled weaning helps to encourage an enjoyment of food and eating, and gives baby confidence to try new foods. If baby is having fun, she is learning and she is more likely to dig in and enjoy her meals. She is also likely to transfer that confidence to other areas of development too.
● Allowing your baby to choose the foods she wants to eat, and celebrating her enjoyment at mealtimes makes for happier parents too. Babyled weaning often means that the frustration of feeding an unwilling infant is never an issue at the dinner table!
● Babyled weaning helps to develop healthy eating habits in the sense that baby will only eat when she is hungry, rather than when she is expected to. This can be frustrating at first, but in the long run it is better for baby to be in control and to eat when her body requires fuel, rather than eating when she is not ready to do so.
● Babyled weaning helps to develop and fine tune gross and fine motor skills as baby is doing all the work herself. These skills are essential for your baby’s development.
● The process of chewing means that baby is preparing facial muscles for speaking, and chewing effectively means that nutrients in her food are being broken down and absorbed fully into her body too.
● Babyled weaning means that baby is able to integrate herself into family meals easily. Often, dinner time is an occasion where many families sit and talk and interact at the end of a busy day. It’s a huge deal for your baby to be a part of this!

How to get started

Before you start to wean your baby onto solid foods, please do check that your baby is ready, and speak to your health visitor or doctor if you’re not sure. There really is no rush, and for the first twelve months of her life, your baby will get most nutrients from milk anyway. The initial stages of weaning are more about exploring new tastes and textures, and introducing new foods as supplements rather than replacements for breast or formula feeds. Here are some tips on getting started:

● Stay calm. Don’t worry unnecessarily about whether or not your baby is going to enjoy trying new foods, and don’t panic if she doesn’t seem interested at all. As long as you offer milk feeds alongside solid foods, she is getting enough to eat.
● Trust your baby. She may not want to try new foods at first, so it helps to remember that this is all very new to her. Take your time and allow your baby to guide you.
● Prepare baby’s food into small, bite-size pieces- but not too small! As her fine motor skills are still developing, she will use her fists to pick up her food, so foods that stick to a spoon or that are stick shaped are perfect.
● Never leave baby unattended during feeds. Make sure that you supervise your baby at all times, and especially when she is trying solid foods. Research has shown that babyled weaning does not pose any extra risks when it comes to choking and the key factor here is to remember that your baby will learn quickly that she needs to chew in order to break down her food. That means you need to remain vigilant while she is learning to eat.
● Don’t be afraid of the gag reflex! This does not mean that your baby is choking, and is a very natural part of the learning process for your baby.
● Start slowly. Introduce one new food at a time, and take note of how your baby reacts. It’s also worth checking baby for any adverse reactions to each food too, and if you notice anything speak to your doctor straight away. Leave three days before you introduce another new food so that you can be 100% sure that your baby is ok with each new taste.
● Introduce new foods early in the day, so that any reactions can be dealt with. This also helps with foods that may cause wind for your baby- if you feed her in the morning, she has all day to pass the wind and hopefully night time sleep will not be affected.
● Prepare for a change in nappies! Not pleasant, but your baby’s digestive system is going to have to work a little harder to deal with new foods, so make allowances for this at first. It can take a few days to settle down and if your baby has trouble you can help her with some gentle baby massage techniques. Wait at least an hour after her meal, and stop if she appears to be in any discomfort at all.
● Allow your baby to play with her food. The exploration is such an important part of the process and the messier it is, the better the experience will be. Place a plastic mat under her chair and let her get stuck in. You can worry about cleaning up later!
● Make sure baby has a drink to help the food go down.
● After feeding, always check baby’s mouth to make sure there is no food tucked away in her cheeks.

If you choose to follow babyled weaning when introducing your baby to solid foods, try to resist the temptation to feed her yourself, especially when it comes to messier foods such as yogurt. The idea is that babies learn the independence and self feeding skills as the same time as they explore new tastes and textures, and this is important. When a baby feeds herself, she is in control of how she moves the food around her mouth, and she will lose that control if you take over for her. Trust your baby.

First foods to try

Some good examples of first foods to introduce your baby to:

● Cooked sticks of carrot, celery, broccoli or potatoes
● bananas
● avocadoes
● Cooked pasta
● Cheese
● Breadsticks, toast soldiers, bread cut into sticks
● Pieces of cooked meat or fish
● Chopped hard boiled egg

Parenting with Love

With a myriad of parenting choices available to us all, it can be difficult to establish which one will work best for you. Often it is a case of trial and error, and armed with all available information it is up to you as parents to decide what works best for you and your family.

An increasingly popular parenting choice for many new families is ‘attachment parenting’. This style of parenting focuses on the connection that can be built between a child and his parents and is often viewed as an excellent way to bring up children to be empathetic, secure and independent as well as enabling them to grow into understanding, caring and rounded adults.

What is attachment Parenting?

The philosophy of attachment parenting revolves around giving you, as parents the tools that you need to provide a nurturing environment for your child in which their direct and indirect needs are understood and consistently responded to. It involves treating your child with respect, kindness and dignity so as to build a long lasting relationship – or attachment – rather than rejecting their needs, leaving a divide between you both.

• Attachment parenting builds and strengthens an emotional connection between parent and child.
• A child who feels secure will be more likely to become an independent and confident adult.
• Parents’ should respond to their child in a physical, verbal and emotional way when they are sick, upset, scared, tired or worried.
• Children who trust their parents when they are growing up will learn to trust others in their lives and have the confidence to explore their environment.

Attachment Parenting Practices

There are certain practices that are available to those parents who choose attachment parenting, but remember that this is not a check list that needs to be strictly adhered to. Attachment parenting is a lifestyle choice and as such has the ability to be moulded to your family’s specific situation. Some of the practices of attachment parenting include:

Breastfeeding: Recent statistics published by UNICEF show that in 2010, 81% of newborn babies were being breastfed. (http://www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly/about-baby-friendly/breastfeeding-in-the-uk/uk-breastfeeding-rates/) Breastfeeding is an excellent way of making an initial bond with your baby and taking the first steps to getting to know him. As he grows, you will be able to read his cues and body language and reinforce your bond. Breastfeeding not only provides your baby with every single nutrient he needs to grow and develop in his first few months, but also stimulates your body to produce oxytocin and prolactin (also known as the mothering hormone).

Baby-Wearing: Wearing or carrying your baby helps them to learn from you, gain confidence and be reassured. Evidence shows that carried babies are less likely to cry than non-carried babies, often reducing their crying by over 50%. (http://wrapsodybaby.com/babywearing-resources/baby-wearing-myths-vs-facts/). Baby-wearing also improves the sensitivity of you, as a parent. You get to know your baby very well and will really enjoy understanding their needs and wishes from a very early age.

Co-Sleeping: If you work during the day or do not get to spend as much time as you would like with your child then co-sleeping is an excellent way to reconnect with them. However, it is important to remember that the best sleeping arrangement is one that sees all the family getting the best night’s sleep. For babies, night time can be an unfamiliar and scary experience. Co-sleeping can help to relax and reassure them, helping them to sleep soundly. It is also beneficial to breastfeeding, as your baby has access to the breast whenever he needs it.
Understanding Your Baby’s Cry: Getting to know your baby means getting to know his cries. You will very soon realise that he has a different cry for each situation. Responding to those cries quickly and sensitively will help to build your relationship. Not only will your baby be comforted by you, you will learn to trust your mothering instincts when it comes to know what your child wants or needs.

The Benefits of Attachment Parenting

It may be slightly overwhelming when reading through the practices of attachment parenting and wondering if it really is something that you can incorporate into your life, especially with all the stresses of bringing home your newborn. Thankfully, the benefits of this type of parenting will last a lifetime; so just remember that if you want it, you can achieve it and seeing your happy, content baby growing up to be an inquisitive and confident toddler and a respectful and independent child will reassure you that you made the right decision. For a little extra incentive, here are some of the advantages of attachment parenting:

• Promoting independence: Attachment parenting will nurture your child’s mind. With the right tools, your child will develop a strong bond between you which will also help to provide a secure base upon which to explore the unfamiliar and gain confidence and independence.
• Improving behaviour: An attached baby will cry less, be less fussy and less clingy. This all comes from how the baby feels and whether they feel valued and cared for. If your baby feels good then they will act and behave well; they will not need to ‘act up’ to get what they need, they will already have it.
• Improving development: If your baby is not crying as much, then what are they doing in their ‘free time’? Well the answer is – they are learning. And with more time to learn, they are able to develop effectively and become more receptive to learning.

Follow Your Own Parenting Instincts
It is true that many parents begin to follow the principles of attachment parenting, not because they have researched and invested in it, but because they are just doing what comes naturally to them and their baby. The key to becoming a loving, caring and successful parent is to be relaxed, calm and receptive; so remember this throughout motherhood and your children will grow up to be happy and health members of the family.

Gentle Potty Training

Sooner or later, the day will arrive. Your little one is suddenly not so little anymore and it’s time to move on from nappies! Rather than seeing this as the end of an era, it helps to see this stage as an exciting step forward in your child’s journey. Lots of parents are actually relieved to be able to move on from the ‘grind’ of changing and tending to nappies and so potty training can be a welcome progression for many families. The problem here can be that sometimes children can be rushed into moving on from nappies before they are ready, or parents can grow frustrated at a seeming lack of progress if potty training isn’t grasped straight away. So how do you know when your child is ready to move on to using the potty or toilet, and how can you make the transition as easy and as gentle as can be? Hopefully our guide will help you.

Is the time right?

There really is very little point in starting potty training before your little one is ready, both physically and emotionally. The reason for this is simple. If your child is not ready, they will not understand what it is you want them to do. A child needs to recognise when they need the toilet, and they need to be able to verbalise that need too. Not only that, but your child will also need to be able to recognise when they are wet, and all of this comes with maturity, which occurs at different ages depending on the child. Just because a parent is ready for potty training, doesn’t mean a child is too. So if you have a suspicion that your child is just not quite ready, it might be worth holding off for a while longer- to save the frustration and potential upset if nothing else. The golden ‘rule’ here, is to let your child tell you when the time is right.

There are signs to look out for if you think your child may be close to getting ready for potty training:
● Nappies may be dry in the morning and after naps
● Bowel movements may only occur during the day
● Your child is aware of needing the toilet, and of ‘performing’
● Your child is aware of having a wet or soiled nappy, and may even ask you to change it for them
● Your child tells you they need to use the toilet
● Your child refuses to wear nappies, or asks to wear knickers/ underpants
● Your child shows an interest in using the potty or toilet, and an interest in other family members using the toilet
If you can tick most or all of these boxes, then it looks as though the time is right for your child to start potty training. If you’re not sure, wait until the signs are clearer. This will save you a lot of work in the long run, and there is nothing wrong with a toddler who is three years old and wearing a nappy. It is considered that most children will potty train at any time between the ages of 24 months and 3 years of age, but some children will be older; night time training can take longer still. Any variation on this is fine!

Making a start on potty training

If the time is right and you are both ready to go, then you don’t want to miss your window of opportunity. It’s also important to remember that you are playing by your toddler’s rules here. The last thing you want is to make using the potty or toilet a chore, or to frighten your child in some way. Gently does it.

Give your child as much control over the situation as you possibly can. Take them with you to choose new underwear, a new potty or a toilet training seat. Ask them which they prefer to use- a potty or a toilet, or both? There is no harm in going straight for the toilet (that way eliminates the transition from the potty) as long as you are taking your child’s lead.

Make using the toilet normal. Let your child explore the bathroom (with your supervision) and help them to understand the process of using the toilet with books and simple explanations of what happens to our body when we need the toilet. Explain that all the water we drink and food we eat has to come out and make sure your child understands that it is all completely normal. Lots of parents allow their child to accompany them or older siblings to the toilet so that there is no mystery at all involved; this is fine to do. Talk to your child as much as possible, and answer all of the questions that they may have. Some parents also introduce a potty long before their child is ready for it, just by leaving it around the house to be investigated. This way the potty is not seen as a strange object when the time comes to use it.

Think before you speak. Remember that all of this is new to your child, and that they are looking to you for guidance. Help your child to grow and to explore by praising their efforts, but be specific. Instead of ‘well done’, tell your child that you know they must feel proud for being able to use the toilet. Generic praise is much less effective in the long run, so consider your words carefully.

Forget the bribes. Lots of parents will be tempted to reward children for using the potty or toilet, but this can cause more problems than it is worth. Some children may even hold back from using the potty if there is no reward forthcoming, and all of your hard work on normalising the whole process will have been a waste of time. Instead of rewards (whether they be stickers, high fives or sweets), try to play down the whole thing if possible. Allow your child to recognise the sensations that occur when they use the toilet, and help them to feel proud of their achievements, but make sure that they know this is all their own hard work (and you know it is nothing to do with any potential prize they might be given in return). Rewarding performances on the potty can’t be kept up forever, and can actually cause regressions if said rewards are withdrawn, so stick to guiding your child gently to appreciate what they have achieved instead.

Practical tips

Once your child feels safe and secure enough to use the toilet or potty and has some degree of success with it all, there is no turning back. Try to stick to underwear during the day and reserve nappies for sleep time only. This will help to reduce confusion for your child.

It’s also a good idea to carry around spare clothing wherever you go, in case of the odd accident. This is inevitable in the early days and is really nothing to be concerned about. Like anything, using the toilet instead of a nappy takes practise and some children will pick it up quicker than others.

Don’t let your own emotions get in the way here- it may be frustrating to have to change wet clothes, but if your child has made good progress any negativity from you can cause upset, embarrassment or even fear. The last thing you want to do is to cause a regression because you lost your cool.

If you’re at home, let your child wear just knickers on their bottom half so that quick dashes to the loo are as easy as possible. Lots of parents leave potty training to the summer months for this very reason.

Combating Colic

If having a new baby means sleepless nights coupled with seemingly unending screaming for hours on end, chances are high that your little one could be suffering from colic. And it’s safe to say that colic in babies can be a very distressing time for you and your little one. Looking after a newborn is hard enough, as you work hard to get to know them (and they you) and to decipher their cries so that you can meet their needs. But having your baby scream and cry for hours at a time can be very hard to deal with, and upsetting for all concerned too. Please rest assured that you are not alone, and that there are indeed natural remedies you can try to help your baby with colic.

How do you know it’s colic?

Colic usually occurs between the ages of around three weeks to three months of age, and usually takes place in the late afternoon, evening or at night. Classic symptoms of colic include baby being hard to comfort (when through the day you are able to easily comfort and settle them) and appearing to be in pain or discomfort. Of course, the continuous crying is often the most telling of symptoms, and the one that has most parents tearing their hair out in an attempt to soothe.

What causes colic?

There are theories that suggest colic is caused by air bubbles trapped in the baby’s immature digestive system, which cause baby pain and discomfort. Some doctors will recommend keeping baby upright after feeds and ensuring you wind baby thoroughly to try and relieve trapped wind. Some parents will tell you that very little seems to comfort them at all.

How can I tell if my baby has colic?

If any of the above has you nodding your head in grim recognition, then you may want to check the following symptoms too:
● excessive crying that usually starts at the same time every day
● crying begins when baby is a few weeks old and lasts for a few months
● baby is otherwise very healthy
● baby pulls their legs up to the chest, tightens abdomen muscles and clenches their fists. Babies face may also appear red and contorted in pain.

Be aware that while all babies cry- that’s how they communicate, after all- excessive crying is not usual and is worth investigating. If you are sure that baby is clean, warm, fed and rested but still crying a lot them there is a very good chance colic is to blame.

Colic can be a frightening time for new parents, particularly if you’re unable to soothe baby. Seeing your child in pain is not a pleasant experience, and feeling helpless can lead to frustration and upset. But it’s worth mentioning here that colic is not caused by you having done anything wrong. And it does help to talk to other parents who are going through similar- it’s estimated that colic affects nearly 25% of all babies in the UK, so you are not alone, even if it feels otherwise.

Natural remedies for Colic

Many parents will turn to medicine for help with colic, but there are natural ways that you can help your little one too. Here are some top tips and natural remedies to help ease the symptoms:

● Homeopathy. Such remedies have been used for over two centuries, and with very good reason too. They work. For colic, Magnesia Phosphorica (Mag Phos) is most commonly recommended because it has a soothing effect on cramps. One tablet dissolved in milk and given to baby straight after a feed can offer huge relief from pain and discomfort, and for babies that are breastfed mother can take two tablets three times a day (after meals) so ensure that the remedy is passed to baby through the milk.
● Diet. A mother’s breastfeeding diet is essential in helping to ease baby’s symptoms of colic, and is often the first thing we think of in such cases. Although there really isn’t a known list of foods that should be eliminated from the mother’s diet, there are some foods that are commonly known to aggravate colic and should therefore be avoided. These include dairy, eggs, nuts, soya, caffeine and gluten. Spicy foods are also thought to be best avoided and some women swear that too many carbohydrates such as bread and pasta can also make baby a little more unsettled too. Drinking chamomile tea is a wonderful way to ease symptoms of colic, as it is passed through to baby through the milk and is known for its soothing properties.
● Herbal tea. Studies have found that herbal teas containing chamomile, fennel and lemon balm can significantly reduce symptoms of colic and it’s easy to make a similar version with chamomile and fennel yourself at home. Place half a teaspoon of the herbs in one cup on boiling water. Cover and steep for five to ten minutes, then strain. Once cool you can give baby a few teaspoons. Additionally, breastfeeding mothers can drink the tea and pass the benefits on to baby through the milk.
● Babywearing. Studies have long since shown that babies who are carried upright and close to a parent tend to cry less. Babywearing means carrying baby for long periods of time throughout the day, and it is this that reaps the benefits, rather than short periods of carrying baby to soothe them. Babywearing parents tend to carry their infants for several hours a day, before baby begins to cry and fuss. There is a theory that babies with colic display these symptoms due to disorganised biorhythms that were once regulated by the mother’s body during pregnancy. Once on the outside, these biorhythms are disrupted, but babywearing allows for a reconnection to occur. Babywearing helps to emulate conditions in the womb by providing warmth and security and many believe that it can be hugely beneficial for babies suffering with colic.
● Avoid over stimulation. Some babies cannot cope with too much going on around them and find that excessive noise, lights and action leads to feelings of being unable to relax and unwind. Make sure that you provide lots of calm space for your baby to feel secure and confident during the day, and at night.
● See a chiropractor. Many parents believe that misalignment suffered during labour and birth can cause symptoms of colic, and a chiropractor is able to help with this. Make sure that your chiropractor has worked with infants before, as adjustments should only be very slight. None the less, treatment can help to ease pain and discomfort and make colic less likely too.
● Baby massage. We are huge advocates of baby massage, and truly believe that this is one wonderful way that you can help baby yourself at home. Baby massage can help to keep the digestive system working well and there are no expensive requirements either. Baby aromatherapy. Colic can be treated quite effectively by blending aromatherapy with baby massage oil. Add one teaspoon of organic sunflower oil to one drop of dill essential oil. Blend together and warm in the palm of your hand before applying to baby’s tummy during massage. Dill is well known for its abilities to ease indigestion and gastric upsets.

The Beauty of Baby Wearing

‘Babywearing’, the term given to carrying your baby close to your body in a wrap or carrier, is an age old practice that has been passed down through generations and across different continents. Each different country has traditionally had its own different type of carrier unique to their own climate, and in many cultures today babywearing is a way of life; it is a necessity for many parents who need to carry on with physical work so after babies are born. So in this age of cars, public transport, prams and various other modes of transport, why would we continue to carry our babies in our modern culture? We can just as easily strap them into a buggy and stroll down to the park, can’t we? Yes, we can. But babywearing is about so much more than making life a little easier when you need to take baby along for the ride. Allow us to share with you the true beauty of babywearing.

An easy life

Starting with the most obvious, carrying your baby means that you can have an easier life. Rather than spending hours rocking a crying baby, you can simply pop them into a carrier and go about your business instead. Yes. You can wash up with a baby strapped to your chest. You can brush your teeth, you can walk the school run, you can hop on and off the bus with ease. Babywearing means that you can take your baby with you wherever you go, and not need to worry about folding and unfolding heavy prams and pushchairs. It means that you can have two arms free to do the grocery shopping. It means no more frantic face washes in the morning while the baby cries in the car seat by your feet.

Babywearing makes for an easy life, but this is only the beginning. It is a fringe benefit, if you like- just another reason to love it so.

Close enough to kiss.

When you wear your baby on your chest, you need to make sure that he/ she is close enough to kiss. This is for safety reasons (please see this article, from the babywearing magazine Close enough to Kiss, for the TICKS list and more information) and is important to remember. Beyond that, having your baby this close is essential for many other reasons.

● Bonding. Wearing your baby close to you, so that you can smell the top of his/ her head, and kiss the soft skin whenever you like is an act so intimate and so precious that it is little wonder babywearing has been attributed to strengthening the bond between parent and child.
● The fourth trimester. The first three months of a baby’s life is often referred to as such, because many believe that a newborn baby is not quite ready for the outside world after just nine months gestation. Replicating as many conditions of the womb as possible can help to soothe and settle your baby immensely, and babywearing is known to help. Babies love to be held closely, wrapped tightly next to a warm body. Not only that, but being able to hear your heartbeat helps to calm an unsettled baby too.
● Post Natal Depression. If you’re suffering following the birth of your baby, you may find that babywearing helps to alleviate some of the symptoms, because it can help to increase a mother’s self confidence in her ability to care for her baby. On top of that, babies that are carried are likely to cry less and more likely to sleep, thus reducing mother’s stress further.

Health benefits

It’s not just emotional. Although the reasons already stated do seem to be more than enough reasons to babywear! There have also been lots of studies done into the health benefits of babywearing and we’d like to share them with you.

Colic, reflux and wind. These common conditions can be the bane of some baby’s lives! Being held upright in a baby carrier can help to relieve symptoms and, of course, being close to you will help to calm upset babies too. If your baby is close to you in a sling or carrier, you are more likely to be aware of discomfort or pain that is being experienced too, making you more of a responsive parent as a result.

Physical development. Any warnings you’ve heard about babies that are carried being late walkers and unable to control gross motor skills are nonsense. Studies have found that babywearing actually promotes and aids physical development, because baby is more in tune with the parent’s own physical movements. Bending, stretching, walking and other movements are stimulating baby, and helping to regulate his/ her own movements too. In addition, premature or low weight babies have been known to gain in strength and weight from babywearing, simply due to the way that being carried allows baby to control bodily functions and movements.

Ear infections can be prevented through babywearing. Yes, really. And babywearing also helps to regulate baby’s temperature too. Studies have found that thermal synchronicity can occur through carrying baby. This means that if baby is too cold, mum’s own body temperature rises to compensate. A flexed position on mother’s chest is also much better at conserving heat than a horizontal position.

Breathing is regulated when a baby is carried close to a parent’s chest. This is fabulous news if baby has an irregular breathing pattern; by being close to and listening to a parent’s breathing pattern, baby will copy this pattern and therefore regulate his/ her own breathing.

Stress reactions are also improved with babywearing. Your baby’s responses to certain situations are more controlled, simply because you are there.

Your physical health also benefits from babywearing. Think about all the walking, bending, stretching and lifting you’ll be doing with a small baby attached to you. You’re more likely to walk to the shops too, rather than pop baby into a car seat for a drive.

Your baby’s emotions

Emotionally, babywearing is superb for new parents. And for babies? Even more so. Your baby is more likely to cry less and to feel more confident (that his/ her needs are going to be met quickly) and secure. Babies that are carried have also been shown to be more aware and vitally stimulated than babies who are not. In everything that you do, your baby is at your height and eye level, experiencing it all with you. And as baby relies on the senses so heavily, it’s easy to see why this would be so beneficial. Studies have also shown that babies who are carried develop other skills more quickly too- speaking, listening and general communication is improved, and the ability to learn fast is enhanced.

If you need more reasons why you should be babywearing, or if you’d like to try it out before you invest, do take a look here to find your local sling library. These facilities are excellent places to meet like-minded parents, and to chat to experts that can help you to perfect your carry.