Caring for a baby’s skin in winter

Your baby’s skin is very delicate and a lot more sensitive than an adults, which means that it requires lots of special attention from you. The skin is the body’s largest organ, and whatever we put onto it is absorbed by the body- and for babies this happens a lot quicker too. Your baby’s skin is also a lot thinner than yours, which is why it needs to be treated with care, and why what you put onto it needs to be closely scrutinised. Throughout the cold winter months, the skin can take a battering in terms of temperature changes and adverse weather- and this goes for babies too! Here is a quick guide to caring for baby’s skin in the winter.

Before you go out

Before you leave the house, make sure that you prepare your baby’s skin for the weather outside. Cold winds, rain and icy weather can not only make us feel cold, but can have an affect on the skin too. Babies are extra sensitive to changing temperatures, so you also need to take care not to let baby get too cold or too hot. Wrap up warm to leave the house, but make sure you remove the extra layers as soon as you come inside.

Another good tip before you go out is to make sure your baby is dressed in breathable layers, which will defend against heat rash. In the winter months it is still possible for babies to suffer from this when they are bundled up warmly to protect against the cold! It might also be a good idea to apply some balm to baby’s lips to protect them from chapping. With the cold weather and a baby’s tendency to drool and dribble, chapped lips are often the number one cause of upset for babies in winter- and it’s something that’s easily resolved.

It’s also a good idea to use a rain cover on your pram (if you aren’t carrying baby in a sling/ carrier) and don’t forget the hats and gloves too. Babies lose lots of heat from their hands and skin on the hands can become very sore in cold weather.

Lastly, make sure you apply a good but delicate moisturiser to baby’s face before you leave the house. This will help to protect against biting winds and cooler temperatures, because it helps the skin to stay hydrated, making it less susceptible to chapping. Use only natural ingredients on your baby’s skin and lips as chemicals can not only cause adverse reactions, but are less likely to protect against the elements.

At bath time

Bath time is an excellent opportunity to reinforce your baby’s skin care routine, and this is ever more important in the winter months. Don’t skip bath time; allow your baby to splash in the warm water, and follow it with a soothing baby massage to help relax and soothe sore skin. Use a warmed (in your hands) massage oil to moisturise baby’s skin and as you relax and bond, you are providing your baby’s skin with extra protection against the cold weather outside. Remember that cold air carries less moisture than warm air, so you may need to moisturise your baby’s skin a little more often.

Conditions to protect against

There are a number of skin conditions that may affect your baby during the winter months; alternatively existing complaints may worse during cold weather. These include:
● eczema: if your baby suffers, pay close attention during cold weather as this can often exacerbate symptoms. Make sure you keep up your skincare routine and regularly check your baby’s skin for soreness
● frost bite: make sure baby wears gloves or mittens and it goes without saying that feet need to be covered too! In extremely cold weather babies can be more susceptible to frost bite so keep outings short if you can, and take extra care to shelter from icy winds.
● snow burn: did you know that snow can reflect the sunlight and cause sunburn? Take care to protect baby’s skin as you would in summer.
● chapped skin/ lips

Natural ways to protect the skin

Of course, whatever you put onto your baby’s skin will be absorbed by the body so it’s important to pay attention to what you use. Look for natural and organic ingredients when you buy baby’s toiletries, and pay special attention to the labels in case there are hidden chemicals in there. If you are at all concerned, do speak to your doctor for further advice.

A few of our favourite natural ingredients to use on baby’s skin include:

● shea butter
● organic calendula oil
● sweet almond oil
● coconut oil

Don’t forget that your baby does not need to bath every single day, especially if she suffers from skin conditions that worsen in the winter. Always pat skin dry and apply moisturiser is gentle downwards strokes. It’s a good idea to make sure that clothing is soft too, and only use non-biological washing detergents.

Tips for being a mindful parent

In this busy world where we work and play hard, it can be all too easy to fall into bad habits in life. But when it comes to parenting there are no second chances. What we do now can affect our children for the rest of their lives, so its important to make the most of this time.

This week we’re looking at ways to be more present for our children, and sharing some tips on being a mindful parent. What does it mean to be a mindful parent? Being a mindful parent means being present in today. Being there for your child and being able to respond to your child without distractions. Being a mindful person requires a level of self understanding; to be a mindful parent we are required to understand our children.

This can be done! Conscious parenting is so much more in reality, and it’s not always easy to get it right – but that’s ok. Being a mindful parent means growing and developing as your child grows and develops. Parenthood is a steep learning curve, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible!

Here are some tips that might work for you.

Be intentional, not accidental

By this we mean, approach each situation with your child with intention. Re-create your world when your baby is born, and make sure your re-creation is a child friendly version. Now that you’ve decided to be a parent, you may have to make sacrifices and self improvements too. Often parenthood is a huge job with no salary- you have to really want to do it! Approach it with positivity and good intentions… and prepare to learn as you go along. And if part of being a mindful parent is also being a mindful person, be aware of your own strengths and celebrate them in your parenting journey.

Listen to your child

Being a mindful parent means keeping your child in mind at all times. Listen to her and respond accordingly to her needs. You are your child’s biggest advocate and it’s up to you make her feel safe, secure and loved. This will come naturally, so don’t panic! This is not a difficult task- this is your calling! When you listen to your child and understand what she is communicating, you are able to better respond and strengthen your bond.

Be open to ideas

Part of being a mindful parent is making informed choices, and this doesn’t mean avoiding all advice or throwing all the parenting manuals in the bin. Instead, take time to read up on any issues you’re experiencing, and be open to advice and guidance.

Use bits of the books that are relevant to you and how YOU want to bring up your child

Bear in mind that your child is an individual and that you are responsible for her guidance in the world, but that doesn’t mean you have to go it alone! Think carefully about the big decisions that matter a lot to you and your family, and keep your child’s best interests in mind at all times. We all need a little support now and then, so don’t feel you need to close yourself down.

Go with your instincts

Being a mindful parent means being an instinctive parent, and our instincts can be the most powerful tool we have. With the knowledge you gain from understanding your child and reading around, your instincts will quickly be your go to when you need to make a decision quickly. Follow your heart. Remember parenting is a journey Just as life is not a goal but a journey, parenting is the same. Don’t set expectations on your child and hope for certain results within a certain time frame.

Accept that this is a journey, and it will last for the rest of your life!

Go with the flow where you can, and appreciate the small bumps and twists when they arrive. And most of all, enjoy the ride. Your role in this wonderful journey is to nurture, nourish and protect. Accept your child for who she is. Make room for your child in your life, and be grateful for the changes that come your way. Parenting is one of the most rewarding jobs you can have in your lifetime and it’s up to you to make the most of it.

So switch off your computer, put your phone away and be there in your child’s life for an extra hour a day. You are guaranteed to enjoy it, and one day you’ll look back on all the memories you made with a smile on your face.

Natural remedies for morning sickness

Pregnancy is such a wonderful time-a chance for your body to prove just how marvellous it can be, by growing a whole new person! And the books promise it all, from glowing skin to thicker hair and healthy nails, to a boundless energy that sees you swim, walk for miles and smile at all who you meet… But not always, and certainly not in the early days for lots of women. Morning sickness affects around half of all pregnant women, to varying degrees and for varying lengths of time, and it can be a really miserable time for some.

Most women find that the symptoms ease at around 12 weeks as the placenta takes over some of the leg work, but how to cope until then? It can feel like the longest time ever, especially if you are keeping it quiet until after the first scan, as many families choose to do. Luckily there are some natural remedies that you can try to ease your symptoms, so that you don’t have to suffer in silence.

Vitamin B6

Your midwife may have already recommended a good multi vitamin tablet, with folic acid to help the developing baby, but it is also said that taking Vitamin B6 could help to ease the symptoms of morning sickness too. Doctors believe that a mix of hormones and a lack of this vitamin is the cause of nausea and sickness in pregnancy, and studies have shown that women who take a supplement experience a reduction in symptoms.

Most women are able to get enough vitamin B6 just by making a few dietary adjustments. Foods rich in the vitamin include bananas, nuts, green beans, carrots, cauliflower, potatoes, lean meats, and fish. If you think that you need a supplement, speak to your GP who can prescribe the correct dosage for you.

Acupuncture*

Pregnancy is certainly no time to be squeamish when it comes to needles (they’ll be taking lots of blood from you over the coming weeks!) so for those with nerves of steel, acupuncture might be worth a try. It can help to regulate the enormous changes that occur in the body during the early stages of pregnancy and many women swear by this alternative therapy.
Acupuncture works by restoring balance in the body and dealing with blockages to what the Chinese call qi. It’s an ancient practise that many swear has helped them with the symptoms of morning sickness, even in it’s severest form (Hypermesis Gravidarum). Added to this, many say that acupuncture can be used to treat heartburn, hemorrhoids and sciatica pain.

Acupressure*

Like acupuncture, acupressure has been shown to relieve symptoms of morning sickness, even when it is very severe. It works by applying pressure on certain points in the body, and can also help to relieve back pain and other ailments too. Many women swear by the acupressure bands that are easily found in most chemists (used mainly to treat travel sickness).

*It is essential that your practitioner during your acupressure and acupuncture sessions is fully trained and qualified to work with pregnant women. Your treatment should not take more than one hour, and make sure you speak to your midwife immediately if you experience pain or contractions following your treatment.

Reflexology

Reflexology is another ancient practise, use to treat illness and based on the theory that certain areas on the hands and feet are linked to other parts of the body. By applying pressure to certain points, reflexology can relieve pain and symptoms of sickness in other areas. Lots of women swear by the power of reflexology to ease symptoms of morning sickness, so it could be worth a visit if you’re suffering. Experts believe that symptoms of depression and anxiety can also be treated successfully. However, it is also worth noting that some women have reported symptoms temporarily worsening after a session of reflexology, before improvement has been noted. It’s vital that you inform your practitioner that you are pregnant so that appropriate treatment can be administered.

Reduce stress

An easy enough tip to give, but not always so easy to administer. Studies have found that women who experience stress during their pregnancy are more likely to suffer from morning sickness and nausea, and those who do find that their symptoms worsen when they are feeling under pressure. If this sounds like you, it’s important to take some time for relaxation when you can. Try the following:

● Prenatal yoga/ pilates
● Gentle exercise such as swimming or walking
● Meditation
● Take regular naps
● Avoid stressful situations where you can, and cut down on work hours if you’re able to
By reducing stress, you may be able to reduce symptoms of morning sickness too, so make sure that those around you are away of your need to rest as much as you can.

Water

Nature’s life force. A dehydrated body does not function well, and if you are vomiting during pregnancy it is even more important to replace lost fluids. Water is essential for well-being whether you are pregnant or not,so it’s a great idea to always keep a bottle with you wherever you go.

Eat well and often

Your diet during pregnancy is very important, and more so if you’re suffering from morning sickness. No doubt there are times where eating is the last thing on your mind, but it’s important to keep your strength up. While we agree that eating whatever you can stomach is probably the most tempting solution, do try to look at other alternatives if all you are craving is junk food or worse. Greasy, fatty food is known to worsen symptoms of morning sickness, so avoid these foods if you can.

Try, if you can, to eat a balanced diet of:

● fruit
● vegetables
● protein
● dairy

It’s also a good idea to eat little and often, as many women report that nausea increases with hunger. Foods with a low GI are a good idea as they keep you fuller for longer, so make sure you always have a packet of oatcakes or similar in your bag for when nausea strikes.

Ginger

Ginger is most likely to be the first thing that people think of when you tell them that you are suffering with morning sickness- but there’s av very good reason for that! The benefits of ginger have long been documented and there are studies that have shown its effectiveness in easing symptoms of morning sickness. Used in many Chinese remedies, ginger is especially useful for women who are feeling cold too, due to it’s warming properties. You can eat it in biscuit form (although not too many!), drink it in tea, or add it to your hot water and lemon for an extra boost of anti-nausea goodness.

Peppermint

Peppermint has been known to help women suffering bouts of morning sickness and the good news is that is it readily available. Drink it as tea, suck on mints, or even inhale peppermint oil. All have been known to settle the stomach and all are completely safe.

Lemon

Lemon has many healing and soothing properties and easing the symptoms of morning sickness is just one of its super powers. Lots of women say that just smelling a lemon helps to alleviate nausea and others claim to have symptoms eased by squeezing it into water to drink. Alternatively, you can add a slice to hot water in the mornings to help with digestive issues too. Lemons have a natural calming effect which can really help symptoms of morning sickness, and like peppermints, they are cheap and easy to get hold of too.

Rest, rest and more rest

Sometimes, morning sickness can be so awful that there is nothing else you can do besides sleep. The more you are able to rest, the stronger you will be, and therefore you will feel more able to cope with your symptoms. Lots of women report that sickness and nausea is worsened when they are tired or feeling run down, so it really is important to take time out when you need to. Talk to your partner, family and friends and make sure they are aware of how you’re feeling. When you need to rest, listen to your body, and accept help when it is offered.

When morning sickness is really bad

Severe pregnancy sickness is called Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) and affects around 2% of pregnant women. HG usually occurs fairly early on in pregnancy, and can cause near constant vomiting and nausea for a number of weeks, if not throughout the whole pregnancy. Of course, this is fairly extreme, but if you do experience severe vomiting and nausea it is important to see a doctor in case of dehydration. In some cases, other treatment may be necessary.

Quick Guide to Hypnobirthing

When you’re pregnant it’s inevitable that your thoughts will, sooner or later, turn to the impending birth of your baby. You’re given your estimated due date, and lots of information on how to spot the beginnings of labour, when to call the midwife, what pain relief is available and what to expect if you need a c-section. All of this information and advice is invaluable and we recommend that you read it all- educate yourself on what to expect when the big day arrives, and how best you can care for your body to ensure optimum health throughout your pregnancy. Alongside information on birthing and the different types of births that you can experience, you might also want to consider alternative pain relief methods for use in labour. We’ve put together a quick guide to hypnobirthing- we hope it helps you achieve the birth you really want!

What is hypnobirthing?

Hypnobirthing can be a wonderful way to embrace your baby’s arrival, and lots of women advocate the techniques they learn on the courses. Put simply, hypnobirthing is an education programme that focuses on self hypnosis with relaxation and breathing techniques that are designed to enhance the birthing experience, and to provide effective mindful pain relief without the need for medication.

Women who practise hypnobirthing during labour are able to breathe effectively through contractions, and lots manage to avoid interventions which can, ultimately, lead to more interventions. More than this, hypnobirthing allows women to fight the fear surrounding childbirth, and releases feelings of joy and elation rather than pain and anxiety. With this in mind, you can see why hypnobirthing techniques are rising in popularity!

In control

Lots of women often feel a lack of control during pregnancy and birth. For nine months, or thereabouts, your body is taken over by pregnancy. You’re no longer in control of the changes that are happening to you, and lots of women find themselves feeling a little detached from it all. It’s not surprising either, when most antenatal appointments focus on baby only, and most classes look at ways to manage pain in labour, rather than embracing the experience. Hypnobirthing, in contrast, teaches women how to take control of the whole process, and be in charge of events during birth.

Hypnobirthing can be very helpful for women who have previously experienced a difficult or traumatic birth too- being able to feel in control over doctors or midwives can often release negativity and anxiety in a way that traditional pain relief cannot.

How- and why- does hypnobirthing work?

A hypnobirthing course will cover aspects of labour and delivery that conventional programmes won’t cover. This includes
● breathing techniques
● learning how to reduce the need for medication for pain relief
● reducing the risk of interventions such as episiotomy
● learning how to feel empowered and in control
● learning how to have confidence and knowledge when dealing with medical staff in a hospital setting
● learning how to expel any mystery or fear surrounding childbirth
● learning how to stay positive

Hypnobirthing works by using specific self-hypnosis and relaxation techniques to reduce pain and aid in the natural delivery of baby. It helps by teaching women to have confidence in their body’s instinctive ability to give birth and relaxes the body and mind to a state where contractions are embraced and the process of giving birth is welcomed.

What are the benefits to mother and baby?

The benefits of learning and practising hypnobirthing are immense! For mother:
● a shorter labour period
● less risk of a surgical birth and fewer interventions in general
● more success of a natural turning of breech babies
● feelings of elation after birth
● retaining learned techniques for future births
● feeling empowered to choose type of birth and birth setting- hospital, home, water, land
● techniques can be used for calm and relaxation at any time and not just during labour and birth

Of course, when it comes to childbirth nothing is assumed and nobody can guarantee it will go one way rather than another. Hypnobirthing does, however, help to equip you with the skills necessary to have the calmest and most natural birth as possible, and the confidence to have a positive experience. There is no such thing as a perfect birth but there is such a thing as taking control over whatever situation arises.

For baby, the benefits are also apparent, as a calmer and more natural birthing experience helps to produce calmer and happier babies too. Absence of pain relief medication means that babies are more alert and able to feed efficiently more quickly, and studies have found that apgar scores can be higher too.

Hypnobirthing is a choice. Pain relief medication is also a choice, and however you decide to birth your baby make sure it is your choice if you can. Please do heed medical advice, but equip yourself with as much knowledge about your body and the process of birth as you can. Knowledge is power and knowing what to expect (as much as you can!) will help you to feel strong and empowered when you need it most.

Super Foods for Toddlers

Mealtimes can be a little challenging when your toddler starts to realise he can refuse to eat certain foods! And we’ve all been there- weaning starts well, baby eats a variety of foods, and then BAM! All of a sudden the lips clamp tight and the bowl ends up on the floor! But don’t panic because this is totally normal. Toddlers are supposed to try to exert their power now and then, and mealtimes are the ultimate time to do this. So how do you make sure that the foods your toddler does eat are healthy and nutritious? It’s worth knowing which foods to pursue too, so here is our top ten list of super foods for toddlers. You might want to get a little creative when it comes to serving these!

Eggs

There are so many ways to use eggs, and the great news is that they are a wonderful source of protein and vitamin D. A plate of scrambled eggs is not only delicious but will keep your toddler full for longer, so they’re definitely top of our super foods list! Eggs are so versatile too- you can make omelettes, muffins, boiled eggs and soldiers… be as creative as you can!

Oats

Another super food for toddlers. Oats are also versatile because they can be served as porridge for breakfast, or you can bake them into tasty fruity snack bars instead. What makes oats so super? They provide a slow stream of energy so that your toddler can keep going for longer. And they’re relatively cheap too, so they won’t break the bank.

Fruit

Luckily, most toddlers enjoy the sweet taste of most fruit so make the most of it! Summer months are great for letting them snack on handfuls of berries, and apple wedges make a great after dinner treat too. Remember if you serve grapes they must be cut into pieces to avoid the risk of choking.

Blueberries

Blueberries are most definitely superfoods and they taste delicious too! Stir them into porridge in the morning, pop them into a fruity omelette or simply present them as a snack. I’ve yet to meet a toddler who doesn’t love them!

Salmon

It might be a little more tricky getting your toddler to eat salmon, but its worth a try because its packed with heart healthy omega 3s and these are known to boost brain development. Serve it with foods that you know your toddler likes, or make your own fish fingers.

Greek yogurt

Another great source of protein, yet a food that toddlers don’t often get to try. Add some fresh fruit, or stir in some cocoa powder with maple syrup for something a little more special. Greek yogurt is lower in sugar than most yogurts too.

Avocado

A great source of fibre, avocado is filled with heart healthy monounsaturated fats- so a great addition to your toddler’s diet. Mash them and spread them on toast, use in place of mayonnaise or even puree down for an indulgent chocolate pudding.

Sweet Potatoes

So much more tasty than white potatoes, and filled with fibre, potassium and vitamin A! Chop into fries, drizzle with olive oil and bake in the oven. Delicious!

Cinnamon

Who doesn’t love baked apples sprinkled with cinnamon! This is a superfood with a difference because it has strong antiviral properties that mean it can help to defend against coughs and colds. And it tastes delicious sprinkled over porridge or onto apple slices.

Grapes

Grapes are like sweeties for toddlers! Red grapes especially are great to serve because they’re filled with antioxidants and polyphonyois. Again, make sure they’re cut up into small pieces for toddlers and young children.

Have a naturally beautiful pregnancy

When you see those two blue lines on the pregnancy test, your life changes immediately. Your body is no longer just for you, it is about to embark upon an amazing adventure. And during that adventure you are the vessel, perfectly designed to sail the seas towards motherhood. It’s so important to look after yourself during this time, and there are many ways that you can do that- and you don’t need to compromise on life’s luxuries either. After all, we all need some pampering now and then. And when your body isn’t your own, the desire to make yourself feel better with a touch of makeup or a spritz of perfume is more than tempting. But how to avoid unnecessary chemicals or additives? Here are some tips for a naturally beautiful pregnancy.

Make sure your hair care treatments are kind

Lots of hair products on the market contain chemicals and additives that are no good for you, especially during pregnancy. Why not make your own hair mask with coconut oil and honey? Bicarbonate of soda is great for a deep cleanse and believe it or not apple cider vinegar is fantastic for conditioning dry hair too. There is no need to spend a fortune on natural hair care, and you might find that the surge in hormones during pregnancy will send your hair into a state of glorious shine anyway.

Try this homemade hair mask:

Take
● 1 avocado
● 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
● 5 drops geranium essential oil (to promote emotional balance, mood elevation, and skin health)

Simply place all the ingredients in a food processor and mix until smooth. Apply to the hair and leave for 30 mins before rinsing with warm water. Your hair will thank you for it!

Make sure you use sunscreen… and make sure it is 100% natural

Don’t forget your sunscreen this summer! Hormonal changes in the body during pregnancy means that sunscreen is so so important, but you don’t want to smother your skin with chemicals. During pregnancy your skin is more sensitive and makes you more susceptible to hyperpigmentation so what you use to protect your skin couldn’t be more essential. Make sure your sunscreen is 100% natural and rated SPF 30 or higher.

Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise!
Your pregnancy is going to stretch your skin, and skin that is not sufficiently hydrated is going to suffer. Keep stretch marks at bay by moisturising at least twice a day- but make sure the cream you use is kind to the skin. Coconut oil is perfect for hydrating dry skin, but you could go for any organic butter or plant based oil.

Drink lots of water

This is probably the most important tip of all! Your mind and body (and baby) will thank you for drinking lots of water and not only will this help keep your energy levels up, but it will keep your skin hydrated too.

Don’t dye your hair

If you do colour your hair, try to use natural dyes wherever you can, but during pregnancy you might want to skip it altogether. Conventional hair dyes tend to contain a lot of chemicals, so it’s probably best to embrace your natural colour for a while!

Take lots of time to relax

When you’re pregnant, your body is busy. Your mind is busy. YOU are busy. It’s important to take some time for yourself and make relaxation a priority every day. Whether it is by meditation, sleeping, yoga or swimming- what you do to relax is up to you. The most important thing to remember is that you have earned it! Take some time out of your day to focus on your breathing, to settle your spirit and to remind yourself of the huge journey you are taking on. The road to motherhood can be long and windy, but you can take steps to make it as smooth as possible.

Tips for postpartum healing

Being pregnant and giving birth is one of the biggest physical and emotional challenges you will ever face. Your body will go through so much to bring new life into the world, after which you will immediately be required to care for a brand new person 24/7. This is going to be hard work! There’s no disputing that this is the most rewarding challenge you will face, but there’s no harm in being prepared either. Here are some tips for postpartum healing that will help you recover following the birth of your baby.

Accept your limitations

Mother Nature rarely gives us more than we’re able to manage, but that doesn’t mean you need to prove your ability to cope with it all by going above and beyond what is sensible. Pregnancy and birth are huge challenges for the body to face, and you aren’t going to just walk away from it all without a scratch. Chances are you will be at the very least tired after your baby is born, so it’s a good idea to take this as a signal to slow down. Parenting a newborn is an intense period of time that involves round the clock care for a tiny person that is unable to fend for themselves. You’re going to be required to do this straight after giving birth! So you’re also going to need to accept that you can’t do it all. Take this time to focus on your baby and your baby alone. Leave the chores to your partner, friends or family and take everything one step at a time.

Give yourself time

All women are different, and some of us may not always present a true picture when we’re out and about. Just because your friend from baby group seems to have recovered a lot quicker than you, it doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. Experts estimate that it can take up to 6 weeks to recover from giving birth, but it’s important to remember that this is just an estimate. If you need longer, be kind to yourself and take a little longer. Life is not a race, and if you slow the pace a little you and your baby will benefit.

Tips for healing your mind

Having a baby is such an emotional time! All of a sudden, you go from being pregnant to being in charge of a whole new person, and that can be overwhelming. You barely have time to process this either, because as soon as they’re born your baby needs you. And what of you and your needs? You’re so busy making sure your baby is warm, clean and fed- and the other children, if you have them- that often you can all too easily forget about yourself too. Make sure that you put your own requirements at the top of your list of priorities too. Try these tips:

● Put together an ‘essentials’ basket of all the things you need during the day, so that you’re not spending time running around when you could be relaxing. Nappies, cotton wool, snacks, bottles of water, a book- all great things to keep handy so that you can rest a little during feeds.
● Accept for help when it’s offered, or ask for it if it’s not. Sometimes we give the impression that we don’t need help, especially if this is not our first baby. But we all need to take time out now and then so if someone offers to give you a hand, say yes! Use the opportunity to catch up on sleep, or go for a walk- whatever it takes to clear your head and have five minutes to yourself.
● Talk, talk, talk. Emotions are rife after you’ve given birth and sometimes the smallest things can be the most upsetting. Talk to your partner, friends or family and let them know how you’re feeling. Also let them know what they can do to help you.
● Shop online for a few weeks or so, to make sure that you always have healthy foods available, and to save yourself from the chore of grocery shopping with a newborn baby. You’ll thank us for this!

Tips for healing your body

Being pregnant is a little like running a marathon, and giving birth is like the sprint at the end. Both events leave you exhausted and exhilarated- but unlike running, having a baby can cause a fair amount of minor aches, pains and injuries too. There are natural ways to soothe your body though, and here are some of our favourite:

● Take a herbal bath. This is best done as soon as possible after birth, to help ease discomfort and soothe swollen/ sore tissues. We recommend using sea salt, lavender, witch hazel, calendula and chamomile as these are wonderful ingredients widely used for soothing and healing.
● Use a comfrey ice pack- these are wonderful for easing soreness after birth and for reducing swelling too. Comfrey gel is also great for healing after birth.
● Take arnica tablets to help with healing. These can also help with reducing discomfort from after pains.
● Massage- some women swear by postpartum massage to help ease discomfort and soothe tired muscles. Try mustard oil for a warming effect, or coconut oil for a cooling, hydrating massage. Other oils to use include sweet almond (for relief from muscle pain, inflammation, and itching), olive oil (to relieve stiffness) or lavender to restore calmness if needed.
● Hydrate yourself. Giving birth is draining! Drink plenty of water, coconut water and herbal tea to restore the balance in your body.
● Chamomile for rest. It can be hard to sleep post birth- there are so many emotions whirling around your head, never mind the baby that wakes for feeds on a regular basis! Some women find it hard to switch off and rest, and this can have a negative effect on recovery. On top of this, some hormones post birth can actually cause insomnia so it’s a good idea to try drinking chamomile tea to counter-balance this.
● Take care of your breasts. If you’re breastfeeding, the early days can be painful and your nipples are going to take the brunt of it. Try making up a soothing cream to apply after feeds- use coconut oil, shea butter and coconut butter (in equal parts) to moisturise and soothe.
● Combat the baby blues with bergamot or geranium essential oils. Both are known to help prevent postpartum depression; simply add 2-3 drops to a small water spray bottle and spritz into the air.

Tips for tired toddlers

When your toddler is tired, there’s a very good chance you will know about it before she does! Sometimes fatigue and exhaustion are more evident to us than it is to them, or perhaps they just don’t want to admit it. Whatever the reason for conflict, many toddlers will want to assert a little control over their lives where they can, and resisting sleep can be one such way to do this. So if you have a tired toddler at home, and naps are being refused for whatever reason, here are some tips to help you out!

Understanding the tiredness

Half the battle can be understanding why your toddler is tired, and how you can help her to fall asleep. It might also help to understand what the body needs to be able to fall asleep too. The hormones melatonin and cortisol are key for getting good sleep, and the levels of these change throughout the day. So your toddler will find it easier to fall asleep at some times of the day rather than others.

Cortisol keeps us awake, and its levels are highest around 8 am. So plan your activities for this time of the day, when your toddler is likely to be most responsive and alert. Cortisol levels drop throughout the day, and are raised when you feel stressed or upset.

Melatonin helps us to sleep, and levels are increased when there is an absence of light. So if your room is dim and quiet, you are more likely to be able to fall asleep.

When your toddler is over tired

The over tired toddler is a difficult one. Perhaps you missed the nap window, or perhaps she didn’t sleep well last night? Or maybe it’s just been a long day, and bedtime didn’t come around soon enough for one reason or another. An over tired toddler will find it hard to switch off because her Cortisol levels have started to raise- so it’s going to be up to you to convince her that sleep is a really good idea!

You can spot an overtired toddler easily:

● She becomes argumentative, and fond of the word NO!
● She starts to yawn a lot
● She becomes fidgety and ‘twitchy’
● She displays ‘hyperactive’ behaviour
● She falls out with friends
● Clumsiness
● Fighting sleep

So once you know your toddler is overtired, what do you do? It can be a turbulent situation at this point, but resist the urge to argue with your toddler. Remember that you are the adult and your little one isn’t always 100% in control of her actions. Keep calm and try these tips:

● Remove your toddler from all stimulation. No TV, no computer games, and go inside if you’re out.
● Have some quiet activities ready and spend some time together doing them for a while. Read a book, for example, and give her body a chance to relax.
● Encourage sleep, by perhaps lying down with her for a moment. Remember that as she is over tired she may take longer to fall asleep than usual.
● Make sure the room is dim so that Melatonin levels can begin to rise, and Cortisol levels can drop.

An over tired toddler can be hard work, but there’s no reason why you can’t beat it! And after a nap your toddler will be ready for the day once more… hopefully!

General tips for better toddler sleep

Making sure that your toddler doesn’t become overtired is often the first step towards securing better sleep overall. But it can be easier said than done! Here are some general tips for better toddler sleep all round:

● Keep a good routine and make naps a priority
● Have plenty of quiet times in between busy activities
● Encourage your toddler to spend time relaxing if she is growing out of naps
● Eat and drink well- avoid sugary snacks
● Get plenty of fresh air and exercise
● Make bedtime a priority too- keep to a flexible but consistent routine and encourage all care-givers to do the same.
● Try toddler massage to help your little one to relax at sleep time

Over time, your toddler will learn how to manage her own behaviors around sleep and may go on to lie in a little at the weekends. Or is that wishful thinking?

Toddler Massage

Being parent to a toddler is many things. It is wonderful. Exciting. Exhausting. Rewarding. A full mixture of emotions and challenges, meaning that no day is ever dull. And who would want it any other way? But in this modern culture of busyness and fast living, we constantly find ourselves juggling work, family, cleaning, cooking and all the rest of it, often at the expense of other, equally as important commitments. We don’t always get time to step back and consider other important elements, such as the happiness and well-being of our family and, most importantly, our children. Our little ones need to know that they are special, and its up to us to tell them! Are we literally losing touch with our children?

Toddler massage

Introducing positive touch into your toddler’s daily routine is not as hard as you might think. We’re huge advocates of baby massage but there’s no need for it to end once baby becomes a toddler! Massage is hugely beneficial for people of all ages; we all love to be touched, and a massage is a wonderful way to project feelings of love onto another person. Studies have shown that receiving a massage can help to boost the immune system, ease stresses and strains, and help to maintain a positive outlook on life. Why would we not want that for our toddlers? We don’t all have personal masseurs to hand, unfortunately, but rest assured that you yourself are more than able to give your child a massage. There’s no reason at all why it can’t become a wonderful part of your daily routine for many years.

The benefits of massage

If you’re still not sure, it might help you to know that studies have found many benefits to the toddler massage, and the power of nurturing touch is definitely not to be underestimated. Tiffany Field’s study at the Touch Institute in Miami discovered that children who received regular massages had better sleep patterns, lower anxiety levels and less stress hormones in their bodies. These children also had an improved cognitive performance when examined too. In addition, emotional regulation and self soothing in toddlers is improved through massage, and parents are really able to connect with their children as a result. It’s worth noting that regular massage can also help to ease symptoms of minor childhood ailments, such as headaches, constipation and teething pain.

The differences between baby massage and toddler massage

Baby massage is a wonderfully relaxed and soothing activity between parent and child, and a super way to end the day before bed. Toddler massage is a little different in that older children will need to be more involved in the process. If you have a toddler at home, you might know what we mean! Not many toddlers will lie still for any length of time, no matter how relaxing and soothing their massage is. Instead of expecting your toddler to take a passive role, try:

• Using stories and songs into your routine. Songs such as Incy Wincy Spider, This Little Piggy or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star are great for gentle massage strokes and you can draw out the actions with your hands.
• Ask your toddler where he/ she would like their massage; give them control of the whole thing. This will give them positive physical boundaries and help to empower them in their own bodies. It will also help to build and maintain a relationship of trust too.

Why toddlers specifically benefit from massage

The life of a toddler is not an easy one. There is so much in this hugely exciting world that they want to do, to master and to achieve, and yet many times such things are just out of reach. So frustrating! Toddlers respond so well to positive touch because it helps to calm and soothe at times of frustration and anger. Here are some more reasons why toddler massage might be a good idea:

• Soothing. As already mentioned, a toddler’s life can be frustrating, and not only for the toddler! A relaxing massage can be just the way to unwind at the end of the day for both parent and child.
• Bonding. In our busy lives, we don’t always take much time to really connect with our families, and when you have a toddler it can be even more difficult. Massage is the perfect way to strengthen the bond between parent and demanding toddler.
• Stimulation. Massage aids digestion, stimulates the nervous and immune systems and helps the blood to circulate freely around the body. It also helps to improve skin suppleness and texture.
• Sleep. Massage helps to relax and soothe, and promotes better and longer sleep.
• Respiratory. Massage aids the circulatory system, allowing more oxygen and nutrients to flow around the body. This oxygen uptake also strengthens the the immune system.
• Internal organs are stimulated during a massage, which helps to promote their growth.
• Infections are reduced as the flow of lymphatic fluid is increased, thus leading to a natural resistance to illness.
• Growth is improved as hormones from the pituitary gland are increased.
• Movement. Massage helps to allow the body’s muscles to relax, which means that the joints can move freely. This can release stress and tension in the body and encourages muscular relaxation and joint flexibility.
• Emotional. Toddlers, like us, thrive on touch. The emotional benefits of a massage are huge, as your toddler learns the power of the loving touch,
• Relaxation is not always easy when you’re a toddler, but massage helps to teach essential skills of becoming calm and listening to the body, especially in times of stress. This can help with aggressive or hyperactive behaviour and improves physical and mental energy levels- which in turns encourages alertness, concentration and feelings of well-being.
• Motor development is improved.
• Cognitive development is improved.

Getting started with toddler massage

So you’re ready to get started? Great stuff. If you’re already familiar with baby massage, and your toddler is used to being touched in this way then the transition to toddler massage will be easy. Toddlers who are not familiar with positive touch will also benefit, but it is likely to take a little longer to get them used to the new routine. Take it slowly and keep the communication open at all times. Never force a massage if your toddler is unwilling; take each day as a new day and ensure that positive associations are given to massage at all times. Here are some tips for getting started:

• Choose your time. At the end of a busy day, before bed, is the probably the best time for a massage, but you will know this best. Massage helps to raise levels of oxytocin in the body, which aids sleep and therefore helps to relax before bed.
• Keep it familiar. Choose a location in your home and stick to it. Let your toddler know what to expect every step of the way. The bedroom is ideal, as it helps to promote a feeling of well-being that will be associated to both massage and bed time.
• Comfort. You want your toddler to be as comfortable as possible so make sure the room is warm as your child will be partially undressed. Also make sure that your toddler is resting on a soft surface, such as a blanket or towel.
• Calm. Keep the massage session as calm and relaxing as possible. Dim the lights, play soft music- whatever you need to do to create the right atmosphere.
• Choosing a massage oil. If you’re using a massage oil, choose it carefully and keep in mind sensitive skin or allergies. Avoid nut oils and be aware that some toddlers will most likely end up with oil on their hands and probably also in their mouths! Mineral oils are also best avoided as they are not easily absorbed by the skin and can leave your toddler slippery and greasy. The best oil to use is an organic, unrefined vegetable, avocado or grapeseed oil. Always carry out a patch test before you massage your toddler, to eliminate any adverse reactions to the oil.
• Positioning is important for both you and your toddler. Make sure that your back is supported in a chair, or if you’re sitting on the floor make sure that you support your back with some pillows propped against a wall or similar.

When not to massage

There will be some days where a massage will not beneficial to either you or your toddler. That’s ok! Don’t attempt to massage your child if:
• Either of you are unwell. Wait until you’re feeling better, otherwise the positive associations you’ve built up so carefully could be compromised for you both.
• Fever. Children with high temperatures should not be massaged, as the heart rate can be decreased by a massage. Wait until the fever has passed.
• Tummy upsets can be worsened if the stomach is stimulated, and your toddler will probably also experience discomfort.
• Rashes or lesions on the skin need to be assessed by a doctor before you massage.
• Immunisations can delay a massage too. Wait at least 48 hours after injections so that the medicine can be absorbed by the body at the correct rate.
• Existing medical conditions. Some conditions mean that massage is not recommended for your toddler. If your child is experiencing or has recently experienced the following, a massage is not advised: an infectious disease; a fracture, sprain or swelling; a haemorrhage; meningitis; childhood leukemia; Osteoporosis/ brittle bones; An operation; A congenital heart condition; Aortic valve stenosis; Atrial septal defect; Pulmonary valve stenosis; Ventricular septal defect; Congenital dislocation of the hip; Dysfunction of the nervous system; Epilepsy; Skin allergies

Toddler massage can be a wonderful way to regain precious connections with your child, and when you consider the benefits that can be reaped, it’s a wonder why more families don’t use it as part of their daily routine. So, what are you waiting for?

Using essential oils safely in pregnancy and beyond.

During pregnancy the body and mind is subject to new stresses and strains, and as the months progress, it can be easy to feel more than a little fatigued and emotional. Traditional methods of unwinding might not be recommended for you now, so it might be time to explore a few alternative ways to de-stress instead! The use of essential oils in pregnancy can be a wonderful way to lift moods and soothe aches and pains, but it’s important to know what you’re doing. We’ve put together a quick guide to using essential oils safely in pregnancy and beyond.

Be sensible

Before you start to use essential oils for the first time, please seek professional medical advice to ensure the safety of yourself and your baby. Always read as much information as you can; essential oils are derived from plants and should be used sparingly. Be informed, and make an informed choice. Always buy your essential oils from reputable sources, and never use if you are not in good health. Avoid all essential oils until after 12 weeks of pregnancy.

How do essential oils work?

The oils extracted from plants are highly concentrated, and once they are applied to the body they are absorbed by the skin. Experts are not yet aware of the full effects of all essential oils, but it is suspected that they could be able to cross into the placenta. This means that you must be careful when using them, and always follow safety precautions.

The right essential oils are known to have powerful relaxation properties, which makes them wonderful for keeping stress levels down and for regulating emotions. The following essential oils are known to be wonderful for use in pregnancy:

● Lavender- not only will it help to relax you and aid a good night’s sleep, but lavender can also be used to treat stretch marks too. Mix with a carrier oil and apply to the skin to prevent stretch marks appearing. Massage well, and relax.
● Bergamot. This is a light and refreshing oil with a citrus fragrance and it can help to relieve pain and lift moods- making it great for combatting the rollercoaster of emotions that pregnancy and parenthood brings. Bergamot it also known to relieve the symptoms of indigestion. Mix two drops of Bergamot with two drops of orange and one drop of Neroli for a blend that will settle your emotions and clear your mind on an unsettled day.
● Lemon- a wonderful antidote for morning sickness and nausea.
● Neroli- a multi-purpose oil that has the ability to soothes aches and pains in pregnancy, and resolve digestive issues too. Neroli is also wonderful for tackling anxiety and depression and is known to aid sleep in the last trimester. Additionally, Neroli can help to promote skin cell regeneration so that you really can have that pregnancy glow after all! You can also add one drop of Neroli to one drop of Roman Chamomile to relieve anxiety and fears surrounding pregnancy and birth. Mix the blend with a teaspoon of base oil, rub into the palms of your hands and inhale deeply.
● Rosewood- this is an essential oil for sleep-deprived mums, as it has a mild sedative effect that will help relax you for a good night’s sleep. Mix one drop of Rosewood to one drop of lavender and one drop of Neroli. The blend can be used to quieten the mind and spirit.
● Sandalwood is a powerful anti-depressant and can help treat symptoms of cystitis during pregnancy.
● Frankincense can be used in labor

During breastfeeding and after birth

Some essential oils are wonderful for the postnatal period and can be used effectively with baby too. As always, use with caution and make sure you take safety precautions at all times.
● Vetiver is a wonderfully calming oil that will help to calm and stabilise moods, and can be used to effectively treat postnatal depression. It should be noted that vetiver can be either be inhaled from the bottle, or diffused in a room but only when baby is over 12 months of age. Room sprays or oils in water can be used once baby is over six months.
● Fennel and clary sage can be used to stimulate milk supply for breastfeeding mothers and this combination is known to be very effective. Make a massage oil for the breasts by adding 10 drops of each essential oil to two tablespoons of grapeseed oil. Blend together and massage into the breasts in a gentle, circular motion. Ensure excess oils are removed before feeding baby.
● Roman chamomile and lavender can be used to treat nappy rash and other minor skin complaints. Newborn babies will need the following blend to be halved: Mix one drop of each oil to a carrier oil and apply gently to the skin.

Safety precautions

Some essential oils are not recommended for use during pregnancy, and all essential oils should be used with caution after birth too. When you use essential oils in pregnancy, make sure you use just one drop of oil at a time and limit use over longer periods of time. If you add oil to a bath, dilute if first by mixing with at least a teaspoon of a carrier oil- grapeseed or almond oil are perfect for this.

The following oils are not recommended for use:
● Basil
● Cedarwood
● Cinnamon
● Clove
● Cypress (safe for use after 5 months gestation)
● Fennel
● Hyssop
● Jasmine
● Juniper
● Lemongrass
● Myrrh
● Parsley
● Pennyroyal
● Peppermint
● Rosemary
● Sweet marjoram
● Thyme