Story Massage Routine

Making up stories to go along with your massage routines is an excellent way to encourage discussion, promote imagination, and make massage more interesting for your child. Once you are both completely relaxed and as comfortable as possible, in whichever position suits you both best, the first thing to do is to ask your toddler where they would like to be massaged and what story they would like to hear. This helps them understand their body, and helps them become involved in the massage in general. It keeps them interested and gives you a way to remember the steps involved too!

You must begin the massage with asking for your child’s permission. Without it, you should never attempt to continue to massage your baby or toddler, as it could put them off massage completely, and will only serve to make everyone tense and stressed. You will soon be able to understand how your child is feeling and will know when it is the right time to attempt a massage.  When the time is right, why not try our story massage below and get to know Mumma Love’s characters, The Jungles, some more.

Here is the story, just encase you didn’t want to follow the video – sometimes it’s easier to go at your own pace.

Harper the Hippo didn’t want to go to bed

Harper the Hippo didn’t want to go to bed, she was having far too much fun in the jungle, plodding around trying to find her friends.

Put one hand on top of the other and make a figure of eight from one shoulder, across the top of your child’s back, to the other shoulder. Repeat up to four times. 

First, she found Ernie, but he didn’t want to play, he was too busy splashing water from his traffic trunk.

Next, keep curving your hands and stroke down your child’s shoulders to their wrists. Repeat two or three times. 

“What are you doing? “Harper asked in an inquisitive tone. “I’m giving myself a nighttime bath” yawned Ernie, blowing a big bubble from his nose. “You should be doing the same Harper, the moon is nearly up.”

Put one hand on top of the other and make large sweeping circles across your child’s back to represent Ernie blowing a bubble. 

Next, stroke your fingertips around your child’s back in a circular motion to represent the moon 

“But I’m not tired” huffed Harper, and off she plodded deeper into the jungle.

Make fists with your hands and press them lightly up your child’s back to mimic Harper plodding deeper into the jungle. 

Next, she bumped into Rory the Lion; he had bubbles all over his hair… “You look funny Rory” giggled Harper as she looked at Rory’s bubbly head. “I’m getting squeaky clean before bed Harper, that’s what I’m doing, you should be doing the shame, the moon is nearly up” instructed Rory in his gruff lion voice.

Walk your fingers up to the top of your child’s head, and begin to massage there. The motion required is much as though you were shampooing their hair, using the tips of your fingers and rubbing the scalp. 

“But I’m not tired” huffed Harper, and off she plodded a little deeper into the jungle.

Stroke down from the head to the base of the spine. Then make fists with your hands and press them lightly up your child’s back to mimic Harper plodding deeper into the jungle. 

After a while of plodding Harper noticed her friend George the Giraffe lying in the waterhole, he was covered in big, bright, bubbles, staring at the stars twinkling in the night’s sky. 

Lift your fingertips so that your hands are arched, and press them lightly all over your toddler’s back, one at a time, sweeping up and away, this move represents the stars.

George noticed Harper staring at him from a distance and with a Yawn shouted: “Harper come and join me, the moon is up, look how bright it’s making the bubbles.”

Put one hand on top of the other, in a large sweeping motion make a circular movement across the back to represent the moon.  

Harper was intrigued, the bubbles where so bright, so she slid in the water next to George and stared up at the moon. The warm water on Harper’s skin made her feel happy and relaxed; it even made Harper a little sleepy.

Put one hand on top of the other and make a figure of eight from one shoulder, across the top of your child’s back, to the other shoulder.

Next, use your fingertips to trace a horseshoe or U shape over your child’s stomach to represent Harper being happy.

Harper plodded out of the water. “Where are you going” questioned, George.

“I’m tired” whispered Harper. And with that, she shook dry and tucked herself up to bed for the night.

Stroke up your toddler’s back and squeeze down their arms to represent being tucked into bed. 

Goodnight, Harper, Good Night.

With the palm of your hand make a waving motion on your child’s back to say goodnight. 

Story Massage

Being a parent is a rewarding, magical and an exceptional time. And being the parent of a toddler… well, let’s add some frustrations and some delights into the mix, as new ideas and concepts come together with limitations on what your child can do. That hasn’t changed from when they were tiny, of course, but it’s now that they can ensure that you – and everyone else in the near vicinity – knows about it!

Parenting a toddler can be a time of high stress, as well as immense pleasure and, although in years to come you will look back on this time and wonder why you worried, whilst you are living it, everything just seems to be another layer of pressure until you feel as though you might collapse beneath the strain of it.

This is especially true in today’s high energy, high-stress world when the workday doesn’t end when you leave the office, and the world of social networking can add to feelings of guilt, or simply not being good enough. Family commitments, work, and general household tidying can also combine to make you feel as though you are neglecting your toddler.

But there is a way to reconnect. A literal way to get back in touch with your child and that’s through massage.

Toddler Massage

If you have got five minutes (or more) every day, you can ensure that you and your toddler become closer than ever. It’s all about touch – adding just five minutes of massage, for example, into your child’s daily routine can give both you and them peace, relaxation, and calm. It unwinds, it de-stresses, and it bonds.

Massage has been hailed for centuries as a way for everyone – no matter what age – to gain at least a little well being. Positive touch is understood to have huge health benefits, and positive touch with love behind it… there can be nothing better. If you want to boost your child’s immune system, make them feel loved, give them a better sleeping pattern, give them better cognitive function, aid social development, as well as keeping them calm, then a daily massage is an easy, enjoyable (for both of you!) way to get closer.  

And the great thing is, there is no need for any specific, professional training. A gentle, caring massage will work whether you have years of experience or are trying it for the first time. It’s all about the love behind it.

The wonderful thing about massage – also called ‘touch therapy’ – isn’t just for those times when there is something emotionally wrong. It can even help with a physical pain, which is why it is an amazing tool for help with teething, constipation, headaches, or minor sinus problems.

The difference between a ‘traditional’ massage (where an adult will want to float away in relaxation, and just let the masseuse take control and do their thing) and a toddler massage is that the child needs to be involved in the touch therapy in some way. It keeps them motivated and interested, and it also helps to relax them. One way to do this is to use nursery rhymes or funny poems (Twinkle Twinkle or This Little Piggy work really well) to explain the movements of your hands. Your child will understand more, and will remember. The repetitive sounds will calm them as well.

Benefits of Toddler Massage

There are both emotional and physical health benefits that come from a soothing, bonding, enjoyable toddler massage.

Emotional benefits include:

  • Bonding. As mentioned earlier, bonding between parent and child is essential for a well rounded, happy, healthy toddler and stress free parenting time.
  • Relaxation. It’s not just relaxing for the child, it’s relaxing for the parent too. Heart rates slow, the mind is given some space, and ultimately everyone unwinds and feels freer and happier.
  • Behaviour. Hyperactive or aggressive children can really benefit from a massage (or rather, an on-going change to a routine that includes massage).

Physical benefits include:

  • Digestion. Massage can aid digestion, meaning that toilet function is improved – your toddler will need to go more regularly, which will also help with potty training, since they will understand the feelings associated with needing to go to the toilet much more quickly.
  • Circulation. Massage also promotes blood circulation, which not only makes the child feed great, but makes their skin healthy too since oxygen and nutrients are also flowing around the body.
  • Internal organs. Internal organs are stimulated through massage, and develop better this way.
  • Immunity. Massage helps the lymphatic fluid on your toddler’s body to flow more easily, which in turn boosts your child’s immune system.
  • Growth. Even the growth hormone within the pituitary gland increases production.
  • Joints. Massage is relaxing, we all know that. But relaxation is a physical sensation as well as an emotional one, and massaging a toddler will encourage their muscles to relax, which will free up their joints. This is ideal for when they have been running around all day, and might be a little stiff now that they have finally stopped moving! It also means that as they get older, their joints are kept in tip top condition.

Introducing Positive Touch To Your Child

If you have been massaging your child since he or she was a newborn, then continuing the practice won’t be an issue, and your toddler will be familiar with how it all works, what to expect, and how happy they will feel during and afterwards. However, if your toddler has never had a massage before, then it can be a strange sensation, and it can be difficult to explain just what you are doing, and why. After all, a small child won’t understand what it means to be calm and stress-free until they feel it, and they won’t understand the correlation between massage and that euphoric state until they allow it to happen.

Persistence is the key. But it is persistence coupled with acceptance; acceptance from your child to have the massage done to him or her, and acceptance from you that, even at the best of times, they may not want to have it done. Forcing your toddler to have a massage will undo any good work you might have been aiming for and, what’s worse; your child will not feel happy voluntarily having any kind of massage after being made to have one that they did not want. Positive touch is a wonderful thing, but it must always be consensual.

When To Massage?

Adding massage to your toddler’s bedtime routine is a great idea. At this point in the day, massage has been shown to promote deeper, longer sleep, and it will also help your toddler to fall asleep in the first place – they will be totally relaxed and able to simply drift off happily. As a bonus, during massage the oxytocin (or ‘love hormone’) levels are elevated, which leads to a fantastic bonding experience.

Toddlers are great at accepting new ideas when it comes to their routines as long as familiarity of some sort is involved. Repetition helps too. So if you are thinking of adding a few minutes of massage before bedtime, it is best to pick one specific spot in your home and stick with it. This is the massage area, and soon enough your child will accept this new way of working. The best place for the calmest start has to be the child’s own bedroom. They already associate peace and calmness (usually!) with this room, so why not play on this association technique when it comes to massage too? If your toddler has issues with his or her room, then the relaxing sensations that come with the massage – the safe, secure, trusting ones – may well help to make the room better for them in general.

If you are using the floor, or choose to be by a door or window, make sure there are no drafts. The room should be warm for the best results, especially as the ideal massage will be carried out when your child is partly undressed.

It is essential to create the calmest atmosphere that you can; otherwise all of your good work will be undone. To create this ideal atmosphere, why not play some gentle music (instrumental is best since songs with words may distract your child, especially if he or she is familiar with it) or sounds of nature? Or perhaps keep the room as quiet as possible and allow the essential oils infusing the air to do the job. Make sure the light is as dim as possible (this could be difficult in summer time when the light lingers outside for longer, but with a good black out blind you shouldn’t have too many problems) without being entirely dark. Candles are an excellent way to light massage time, but of course, you must take extra care when it comes to naked flames and small children who are unpredictable at the best of times!

Turn off the television, leave your phone elsewhere, and don’t allow yourself to be interrupted. This is a special time between parent and child, and should not be disturbed.  

Different Massage for Different Ages

When your baby is brand new, the massage you give to him or her will be a little different to the one you give your older toddler. That is because a toddler has more control over their body, and will move a lot more than a small baby – as any parent knows! It is more difficult to ‘control’ a toddler, and it doesn’t matter how restful the room is or how relaxing the massage is, there will come a time when your child has had enough and decides that it is over.

The best way to keep a toddler involved in the massage process is to talk to them about it. Find out where they would like you to massage, which also teaches them to name body parts. Make the massage into a game (an educational one if possible, as this will obviously help with their brain development). A good way to do this is to create a story with the massage. Work together to come up with a character, and incorporate that character into the massage ‘story’. Ask questions to continue the story, and soon enough your toddler will be interested enough to lie still and enjoy the massage. For story massage ideas, head over to Mumma Love Organics youtube channel or check out our blog.

Top Ten Homoeopathic Remedies for Babies and Children

Homoeopathy (or the modernised spelling of ‘Homoeopathy’) invented in the late 18th century by German physician Samuel Hahnemann, is the art of treating ‘like with like’. Hahnemann believed that by using a very minute amount of a substance, that would ordinarily create a certain reaction within the body, would aid the body to cure itself of the same affliction. Homoeopathy is one of the most popular systems of healthcare in the world today, beloved by many including the UK’s Royal Family. Although it has its critics, its popularity is not waning and used as a complementary addition to modern healthcare, rather than an alternative to it, homoeopathy can prove very useful, particularly in instances where conventional remedies are not advised, such as pregnancy, when many discover homoeopathy for the first time.

It is important to highlight that the remedy suggestions below are not intended to replace conventional medicine or medical advice and at all times if you are concerned about the health and wellbeing of your child you should contact your family physician.

The following are perhaps the ten most useful remedies to include in a family’s ‘homoeopathic first aid’ kit:

Allium Cepa

Made from onions, this tells us pretty much all we need to know about this remedy. Stinging, itching, teary eyes, a runny nose, sneezing and lots of thin watery mucus are all Allium Cepa indications. The most common scenario therefore that we would use allium cepa is in treating hay fever.

Allium symptoms tend to be worse for being inside in a warm room and better for being outside in the cool air.

The most common potency for Allium Cepa is 30C

Apis Mellifica

Apis Mel, or just Apis, is made from the honey bee. This, therefore, is our go-to remedy for insect bites and stings, particularly when they become very sore, swollen and red.

The most common potency for Apis is 30C

Arnica

Arnica is perhaps the most famous homoeopathic remedy. Most people know it for its healing effects on bruising, however, it is used for so much more. The chief symptoms to look for when prescribing arnica for a physical complaint are feelings of soreness, lameness and bruising, however, arnica is contraindicated if there is a break to the skin. Arnica can be useful for post birth healing, for both the mother and the baby if the birth has been natural (remember if there are breaks to the skin, as in a C-Section, it is contraindicated), it is especially useful if the baby has been born via ventouse or forceps. For the mother it is a great help for helping to pass urine after the birth, especially if her perineum and urethra are swollen.

Arnica can also be used for many emotional states, particularly shock and emotional trauma. A key indicator here is a child who is upset but conversely wants to be alone.

For physical issues give in either the 200C potency (for anything birth related) or 30C potency (for all other physical issues), for an emotional issue consider the 200C or 1M potency.

Belladonna

Belladonna – otherwise known as ‘Deadly Nightshade’ is all about reddy/purple colouring, great heat and a violent nature of onset – such as a sudden fierce temperature. The child will often have a dusky red hue to their skin that will feel as if it is on fire when you touch it. A key word associated with belladonna is ‘throbbing’ – any pain associated will be a fierce throbbing pain. Belladonna is all about blood – and is therefore a good remedy for nosebleeds, particularly ones with lots of fresh bright red blood, it is also good for ailments relating to the sun, such as a headache brought on by too much sun or sun burn.

Belladonna is also a handy remedy for night terrors, where the child thrashes around and is prone to violent lashing out. It is commonly associated with a hazy glazed look to the eyes, whether during a night terror or a fever.

The potency of choice for Belladonna in most cases is 200C

Bryonia

Bryonia is all about dryness (remember ‘bry’ = ‘dry’). The two most common reasons this may be used as a family remedy are a dry cough and constipation. The key to remember with a bryonia cough is that it is dry and extremely irritating, if the child is mucus or coughing up phlegm look elsewhere.

The most common potency for Bryonia is 30C

Calendula Tincture

Calendula tincture is made from marigold petals. It is the only one of our ten remedies that is used externally on the skin. It is the remedy of choice for wound healing – particularly open cuts and is a great addition to the first aid cabinet in a house with an accident prone toddler who is always grazing their knees. It can also be healing and soothing for nappy rash and is commonly found in commercial nappy rash creams for this reason. It is simple enough to make your own calendula tincture at home for those who are green fingered!

Calendula tincture is best used by placing 3-4 drops in a cup of lukewarm water and then gently dabbing the affected area with cotton wool and leaving to dry naturally.

Chamomilla

The two most important words to remember for chamomilla are “calmness contraindicates”. Chamomilla, made from the chamomile flower, is all about whiny, grouchy, clingy, unhappy children. It is particularly suited to teething babies and this is probably why most parents are aware of it. A ‘chamomilla teether’ will often have one red cheek and their nappies will often look like they contain dark green chopped spinach! They are very clingy unhappy teethers, however although they want to be held, the holding often won’t help and although they cry to be picked up they will often push you away again when you hold them.

For a teething baby consider the 200C or 1M potency, use the latter if the baby is a very ’emotional teether’.

Mag Phos tissue salts

Magnesia Phosphorica – or Mag Phos as it is more commonly known – is what homoeopaths call a ’tissue salt’. It is famous for its effects on cramps and colicky feelings and as such is the top homoeopathic remedy for colic. It can also be helpful for post birth after pains and menstrual cramps and for cramps caused by a diarrhoea and vomiting bug.

The most common potency for mag phos is the 6x potency.

Rhus Tox

 Rhus Tox is produced from the ‘Poison Ivy’ plant – which gives us a good clue as to its uses. In a family first aid kit its most common use is to ease the itch of chicken pox. Rhus Tox is particularly indicated for symptoms that are worse at night and negatively impact sleep as a result.

From an adult’s point of view it’s a handy remedy to have if you are suffering from flu or have severe aches and pains that are initially made worse by moving, but then are better for movement.

The most common potency for Rhus Tox is 30C

Walnut Bach Remedy

Not strictly a homoeopathic remedy, Bach remedies are made in a similar context. Walnut is a wonderful remedy for children as it is the chief remedy for ‘change’. It aids in making transitions – such as separation anxiety, starting school, moving through tweendom and approaching puberty. Walnut also seems to help during teething too.

For older children one drop directly under the tongue, for younger children, a drop placed in some water is the dosing of choice.

 

Mindful Parenting in a Modern World.

The bookstores are packed full with an array of instructional parenting books giving advice on how to bring up children and promises of a peaceful night sleep, but there’s nothing that really focuses on mindful parenting in this modern, hectic world.  And that, of course, is what we all really need.

Our busy lives seem to be overrun with an abundance of commitments; work deadlines, paying the bills, trying to be a supportive partner, keeping fit, and on and on the list goes – it’s no wonder we get stressed at times. The demands of this modern world can weigh heavily on our shoulders which in turn can take a toll on our minds and bodies. But more than that, it also can have a negative impact on our parenting. Becoming a more mindful parent allows us to take some time out from life’s dramas and connect with our children in a more compassionate way. It enables us to step back and enjoy the moment rather than let it pass us by. Our children’s childhood is so important; how we parent our children can affect them for the rest of their lives. When it comes to parenting there are no second chances, so it’s important to make the most of this time now.

So what is mindful parenting?

The concept of being present and in the moment with your child is a fresh and exciting one; a parent’s attention is by far one of the greatest gifts we can give our children and mindful parenting is a way of providing this. Being mindful means living in the moment, with a non-judgemental, compassionate awareness. It allows us to observe a newfound consciousness intentionally, and helps us sustain that attention over time in the best way we can. Allowing our minds to maintain this attentiveness brings more awareness into our lives and lets us parent in a more instinctual and compassionate way.

Nevertheless, the problem with society today is that we often run on auto pilot, mindlessly functioning day by day, without questioning our existence. Our brains seem to operate in two ways; they are either swirling with past events that we can’t control, or they are preoccupied with future circumstances or concerns. This way of thinking often leaves us feeling stressed, anxious and even depressed; the amount of emotional strain we put on ourselves frequently leaves our minds and bodies exhausted; which can have a detrimental effect on parenting. This is where introducing mindfulness into our day to day parenting can help – it’s about stepping back, taking a moment and looking through our children’s eyes. Being in the moment with our children allows us to understand new possibilities, benefits, and even challenges with a newfound conscious awareness. Allowing ourselves to parent in this conscious way will enhance the engagement we have with our children, promoting a deeper understanding of our family and ourselves, which in turn cultivates a certain awareness. This is known as mindful parenting.

Mindfulness can create the imaginable; practicing it can give you the capability to see past any parenting challenges and certain behavioural issues. It allows us to see our children more clearly and opens us up to be more empathic, compassionate, and understanding. This will create connections that will last a life time. Most parents want to do right by their children – they want to be loving, warm, provide structure, set boundaries, and provide a positive role model – this is where mindful parenting comes into play. Parenting mindfully can be rejuvenating and transformative for both parent and child. However, learning and implementing this style of parenting is a task you’ll need to master.

Where to begin?

Firstly, let’s get one thing straight; you don’t have to be a Zen master to practice mindful parenting. You do, however, have to be willing, patient, and persistent. Just like any new skill, it can take a while to grasp.

An ideal way to begin mindful parenting is simply to be more present with our children. When we are more present our communication becomes clearer and our words become more meaningful. But, as well as being more present, we can also use other tactics to become more mindful, like the ones I share with you below:

Unplug yourself

Our children are our world, but we often seem to disregard their needs as other priorities take over our day to day life.  When we run on autopilot we miss signs that our children are trying to give us, our inattentiveness can, in turn, make them feel worthless, and they may start to feel like they are beneath our attention and will begin to retract inwardly.

For example, if you are preoccupied on your phone or computer when your child is trying to have a conversation with you or tell you something important, they will start to feel inadequate and eventually will give up trying to communicate with you at all. However, we do live in the 21st century and life is fast-paced, so we can’t unplug the whole time we are with our children. Nevertheless, we can control how much time we spend on our devices. Technology is a brilliant thing, but it can affect the amount of quality time we have with our families. So make sure you unplug yourself at least once a week, keep your mind present and fully enjoy your family time; this will enhance your children’s self-worth and make them feel like they are top priority and not having to compete with your gadgets for your time or attention.

Take the Time

In this modern world, time doesn’t always seem to be on our side. But have you ever wondered how we find the time to accomplish menial tasks yet hardly ever take a moment to focus on our family’s mental well being? Ask yourself, how does it feel when we laugh with our family or have a great conversation over a meal, or when we cuddle up with our little ones and really listen about their day – I bet I can answer the question for you; it feels great, doesn’t it?

Another question; why do we make time for boring routine tasks but we don’t allow time in our daily routine to create more positive family dynamics? We seem to procrastinate over and over again, telling ourselves that we just don’t have the time. However, time is truly valuable; once a moment in time has gone we can never get it back. It’s so true, how often you have heard grandparents say “make the most of this time now, they grow up far too quickly”. They are right but the question is why aren’t we spending more quality time with our children?

The truth is this modern world exhausts us, and after a long day in the office or feeling overwhelmed with mundane family chores we are simply tired. This is why the very first step to mindful parenting is self-care; which we will look at in greater detail on my blog, next week. But to cover briefly, we have to make sure we take care of ourselves so we can take care of others. Often parents don’t take time out for themselves; they see putting their needs in front of their families as selfish, unreasonable even. Parenting is one of the hardest jobs in the world. It’s physically and emotionally draining. Therefore, it’s important to take time to recuperate and recharge your batteries, so you can be the parent you want to be.

Go easy on yourself

Mindful parenting can seem like a dream when our children are acting angelic, playing together, or willing to go to bed. Nevertheless, children do have a habit of pushing the boundaries; we all know that feeling that children can conjure up; our blood starts to warm, then slowly simmers, our kids push a little further and we’re now at boiling point, ready to explode! As a parent, this is the time to put your mindfulness into practice, take a mindful pause and just BREATHE. Our children will challenge and irritate us at times (that’s parenting), but there’s always a reason behind such behaviours (reasons that are often out of our control). What control we do have is how we respond when parenting becomes demanding.

Taking a moment to take a breath can have a powerful impact on unwanted behaviour.  It will allow you time to gather your thoughts and encourage you to respond to your child’s needs rather than react to them.  In general, people use the word reaction and response synonymously but there is a world of difference between the two. A reaction is provoked by certain behaviour; it’s instant. It often has no consideration behind it. You literally meet your child’s emotionally-led behaviour with your emotionally-led conduct. Reacting to your child’s behaviour in an angry, aggressive way simply isn’t the answer; all this creates is a crash of negatives emotions.

Responding, however, gives you the time to allow your child to express their negative feelings; they need to let them out, and if you try to suppress them they will to erupt another time – trust me. If your child does become angry, upset, frustrated respond by letting them have this moment, let them verbalise their feelings without any punishment, humiliation or guilt. This is a time to show your child empathy, consider not just your feelings but the thoughts, feelings, and reactions behind your child’s behaviour too. Portraying a calm exterior will defuse the situation a lot quicker than trying to fight in with a battle of spiraling, negative emotions.

Nonetheless, this is no easy task and is a really tricky concept to get your head around. Responding instead of reacting is a big part of mindful parenting but to others, it can often seem weak, even ineffective. However, the rewards you will reap later in life from this style of parenting will show in abundance. Your children will learn that it’s safe to show their emotions, will talk openly to you about their feelings, and will come to you in times of need. You see, mindful parenting allows us to understand our children’s emotional needs, which in turn builds a closer, more resilient bond between parent and child. What we have to remember as parents is our children are not their flare-ups. Their outbursts are often emotionally led by anger, frustration, tiredness even. These hosts of emotions can play havoc with a child’s emotional guidance system. It’s a struggle for little people to master control of their temperamental behaviours but guide them with love and kindness and they will soon become pros at it. Remember, it’s our job as parents to calm their little minds, not present them with more chaos.  I’m going to cover an array of behavioural issues and how to deal with them more mindfully in the next few weeks… but for now here are some conscious ways of how we can respond to our children instead of reacting to them:

Negative Reaction Positive Response
Will you just stop crying! You look upset, is everything ok, do you want a hug?

 

Will you just get away from me! I’m feeling a little frustrated right now, I’m going to take five minutes out to calm down.

 

That’s life young lady – you don’t always get what you want. I can tell you are upset with my decision but let me explain the reasons behind it (if your child doesn’t want to hear why, walk away and be calm until they do).

 

Your sitting at the table until you’ve eaten all your dinner If you’re not hungry now don’t worry, I can heat it up later.

 

Stop whinging, ask me like a normal child Can you ask me that question in your happy voice, not your whinging one.

 

 Mindful parenting isn’t always about managing difficult behaviour, just as importantly, it’s about treasuring the loving, joyful family moments too. This parenting style has so many benefits for children and parents alike; using this method of parenting has been gaining traction as a way of improving happiness and well-being within families for a while now.  Studies have shown conscious (mindful) parents engage in more positive and less negative parenting styles which were then linked to more positive, loving behaviour in children. This meant fewer tantrums and less meltdowns.  Being a mindful parent means growing and developing as your child grows and develops too. Parenthood is a steep learning curve, but that doesn’t mean being mindful is impossible!

Wholesome Homemade Baby Food

During the first six months of a baby’s life, breast milk or infant formula milk is ideal. It is truly all that they need, and it easily sustains healthy growth and development. Plus, feeding your baby in this way is wonderful for bonding and emotional development. Just think of how they nestle into you and trust you implicitly. It is amazing.

So when the time comes to start weaning your baby towards a diet that includes solid food, it is completely understandable that parents (and often particularly mothers, although not exclusively) feel slightly apprehensive. You will have had six months of a feeding routine that will now change, and that can be difficult for everyone. Before it was enjoyable, but now? Who knows? There are so many questions to worry about as well; which foods should be avoided? What are the best foods for a good level of vitamins and minerals? Is it possible to have a vegetarian diet for your baby? And so much more.

Signs of Weaning-Readiness

The best time to even start thinking about weaning is when your baby is six months old. Weaning much earlier could be a problem for your little one’s immature digestive system, and no one wants that! When your baby can sit up on their own, and hold their head up (making it easier for them to swallow), then you can look at their hand-eye coordination. If your baby can pick up small pieces of food and bring them to her mouth, it is likely they are ready for weaning.

Baby’s Nutritional Needs

Weaning does not – and should not – happen fast. The idea behind it is that you gradually reduce the amount of milk you give your baby and replace it, bit by bit, with solid food. It should all be done gradually. The first part of weaning is less about feeding and more about allowing your baby to try different textures and tastes. It also gives them a chance to practice the technique of eating.

It can get messy, and it can feel frustrating. Why is baby spitting everything out? Why won’t they swallow? Do they like nothing at all? The thing is, it’s not that. Not really. It’s more about discovering new tastes and needing to get used to them. He or she may indeed like the taste, but their initial reaction could still be to spit it out at first. As a parent, your job is to persevere – the little one will soon get the hang of it.

Before weaning, your baby will only ever have tasted milk – it’s sweet and creamy. So anything that is not sweet and creamy (and to begin with, anything that is not milk in general) will taste strange to your baby. That doesn’t mean it tastes bad to them, but it does taste different, and that’s especially the case when it comes to bitter or sour foods.

What’s more, it’s all part of human evolution. Instinctively rejecting bitter foods is a survival mechanism, as it stops babies from swallowing toxic substances (poisonous berries, spoiled milk and so on). Having said that, this can be ‘overwritten’ to some extent – and it should be. A baby’s likes and dislikes are not set in stone – that happens much later. At this early weaning stage, they can be ‘programmed’ to taste and eat most things. Leaning towards what a baby seems to like can be a self-fulfilling prophecy; thinking that a child prefers sweeter tastes, and therefore offering them those flavours, can ‘programme’ them to actually only like those flavours. They will develop a taste for one type of food over another, and this then can become difficult at a later stage when they are seen as ‘fussy’. The problem with this – or rather the main problem, as there are a number of them – is that healthier alternatives can often be rejected too.

As parents, it is our job to help our children taste a variety of different types and flavours of food so that they have a well-rounded diet. It is much healthier for them. One way to ensure that they try all types of food even when they do seem to be leaning in preference to a certain type is to combine the food that they seem to prefer with a contrasting flavour. Combine naturally bitter or sour foods with those that are naturally sweeter, and they will go down a lot easier. Resist the temptation to add any sugar or salt to your baby’s meal – it really is not necessary.

Babies are naturally curious, and their senses are how they explore the world before they are able to get up and move by themselves. Their sense of taste is vitally important, and it is essential to nurture that sense from as early on as possible. So, let our recipe section on our website be your guide, let it help you to create and offer your little one tasty, nutritious meals that expand their taste habits and excite their taste buds in a way that standard baby food simply cannot do.

What is important to remember is that there is no need to be worried if your baby seems fussy, or doesn’t eat much when you give them a meal. Milk (either breast or formula) gives your baby everything they could possibly need to be happy and healthy. This includes all the vitamins and minerals, fats, protein, and carbohydrates that a child up to the age of 12 months needs. By the time they reach one year old, cow’s milk is a fine alternative, because they will also be eating well-balanced meals that make up any deficit. This is why, when weaning begins, if the baby doesn’t eat much then there is no cause for concern because they are getting everything they need from your milk, or the formula you are giving them.

Another bonus to breast milk, as an aside, is that it contains many enzymes and antibodies that will boost your little one’s immune system, and this can protect them from not only illness, but also allergies1.

A Note About Allergies

A personal or family history of food allergies, or an early diagnosis of an allergy in the baby him or herself, can lead parents to worry that any food they give their child early on in the weaning process can trigger further problems. And there are some foods – peanuts, eggs, milk, wheat, seeds, and food that contains gluten – that are particularly problematic. If you are worried, it is best to offer just a small amount of the food to your baby at first. Leave a gap of around three days to ensure that there are no allergic reactions, and then introduce a different food. If you try too many foods at one time and your baby does suffer a reaction, it will be difficult to tell what ingredient caused it.

Signs to look out for when checking for allergies are hives, dry skin, swelling, coughing, wheezing, nasal congestion, and breathing difficulties.

A Mini List of ‘Worrisome Foods’

  • Honey

As tasty as it is, honey shouldn’t be given to children under the age of 12 months. That’s because it can contain bacteria that little ones can’t fight off very well, and it can lead to a serious illness known as infant botulism. As well as that, it’s also really high in sugar, so it’s not ideal for tiny teeth.

  • Eggs

Eggs, in general, should be fine, but raw or undercooked eggs can lead to salmonella food poisoning.

  • Salt

Too much salt in a baby’s diet can make their kidneys unhealthy, and it is even linked to high blood pressure, strokes, stomach cancer, and osteoporosis as they get older. Good, healthy eating habits developed at an early age will help to prevent these diseases.

  • Sugar

There is a long list of problems that link back to too much sugar in your baby’s diet. Tooth decay, obesity, diabetes, heart disease… It’s just not worth it, for them or for you.

  • Grapes

Although grapes aren’t an allergen (usually), they can be a major choking hazard. For very young children they should be peeled and mashed.

  • Shellfish

If you want to give shellfish to your baby then just make sure you cook it thoroughly as it does carry a high risk of food poisoning. If you are at all worried, seek advice from a healthcare professional – and that’s especially important if your baby has asthma, eczema, or any other kind of food allergy.

Go At Your Own Pace

Every baby is different; each one is totally unique. And that means that every weaning experience is different and unique too. Babies will all be ready to try different tastes and flavours at their own pace, so don’t get too worried or stressed out about things. Just relax and go with the flow (and whatever you do, don’t compare yourself or your little one to what anyone else is doing).

The one thing to bear in mind when weaning begins is that you should offer your child as many different tastes as possible in the first month or so. As mentioned earlier, they are still getting all their essential nutrients from the milk they are having, so if they don’t eat all – or any – of their meal, it’s not a problem.

Just like with anything, there are some things that your baby will respond to positively, and some that will appear to offer a more negative reaction. This is fine – but don’t give up just because you might get a shake of the head and a screwed up face; every taste is brand new, and can be very strange. That doesn’t mean that it’s not going to be okay eventually. Giving up at the first sign of a bad reaction means that the child will never have the chance to get used to the food that you are offering, and in many cases, it really is a ‘try, try again’ situation! Studies (including the fantastic ‘Variety Is The Spice of Life: Strategies for Promoting Fruit and Vegetable Acceptance During Infancy’) have shown that a baby needs to try a new flavour between eight and 15 times before they can really determine whether they do or do not like it.

In the above-mentioned study, mothers were asked to feed their baby green beans every day for eight days. Whether the baby ate the beans straight away or refused them entirely, it didn’t matter. The point was to simply try to give them the beans. At the end of the eight-day process, it was determined that the babies who had had the beans every day went on to eat more of them afterwards. It showed that babies can discriminate between flavours, and that they are generally willing to eat something even if they rejected it the time before (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18222499).

Over the following weeks we will be adding an array of baby food to our recipe page, but in the meantime, why not try these delicious starter foods.

Basic Vegetable Purees

Root vegetables are a fantastic way to begin weaning your baby. Little ones like the taste because they are sweet, and parents like the fact that they are packed full of nutrients.

Carrot Puree

Perhaps the most popular – for adults and babies – of all the root vegetables has to be the fantastic carrot. Sweet and delicious and jam-packed full of anti-oxidants, dietary fibre, and a multitude of vitamins (especially vitamin A which is essential for enabling a healthy immune system, promoting growth, and boosting vision, although it also contains much vitamin C which is fantastic for maintaining teeth, gums, and connective tissue). One carrot provides your baby with everything he or she needs to stay healthy and thrive.

Ingredients:

1 medium carrot

Method:

Make sure the carrot is thoroughly washed to remove any nasty extras you don’t want, and peel. Steam (either for 20 minutes in a steamer or you can use the microwave – just put the carrots in a microwaveable bowl, add a tablespoon of water, cover, and cook on high heat for around 6 minutes until tender). Puree until it’s nice and smooth and add breast milk (or formula) to create the perfect creamy consistency.

One carrot makes 4 portions, and it can be frozen.

Butternut Squash Puree

The great thing about butternut squash is that it is easily digestible, which means it is an ideal food for weaning. Just as with carrots, butternut squash is high in vitamin A, so it helps with eyesight and skin. It also contains natural poly-phenolic flavonoid compounds (A and B carotenes, cryptoxanthin-B, and lutein). Once ingested, these clever little compounds become vitamin A, boosting the healthy aspect of the butternut squash even more. Basically, when you add in all the minerals that a butternut squash includes (such as iron, zinc, copper, potassium, and phosphorous), you can tell it’s a ‘super food’ to give to your baby.

Ingredients:

½ butternut squash

Method:

Peel the butternut squash, chop into cubes, and steam (use a steam for 20 minutes or so, or place in a microwaveable bowl, cover with a tablespoon of water, add a lid, and cook on high for around 6 minutes). Puree the squash and add as much breast milk or formula as you require to give it a creamy texture.

Half a butternut squash gives between 8 and 10 portions (whatever isn’t used can be frozen for another time).

Parsnips

Similar to carrots in their sweetness, these fabulous veggies are full of starch and fibre, vitamins C, E (a natural antioxidant), and K (excellent for blood clotting, and therefore healing wounds faster). Parsnips also contain folic acid, thiamin, pantothetic acid, copper, calcium, iron, potassium, and manganese, all of which contribute to healthy bodies and minds.

Ingredients:

1 parsnip

Method:

Peel the parsnip and chop. Steam for around 20 minutes in a steamer, or alternatively use a microwave (pop the parsnip into a microwaveable bowl, add a tablespoon of water, cover, and cook on high heat for around 6 minutes). Once cooked, puree to a smooth consistency, adding as much breast milk or formula as you require to get the perfect creamy texture.

You should get up to 6 portions from one parsnip, and you can freeze whatever you don’t use for future use.

Sweet Potato

Although perhaps not as common in the kitchen or on the table as its other root vegetables cousins, sweet potatoes are excellent when it comes to nutrition and healthy properties. They are full of vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants, and because they are high calorie foods they are great for weaning.

Ingredients:

1 medium sweet potato

Method:

Wash and scrub the skin and then dry it thoroughly. Prick it all over with a fork. Pop it in the oven for about 45 minutes at 200oC (180oC fan, 400oF, gas mark 6) until it’s soft. Once cooked (and slightly cooled), split the skin and scoop out the inside. Mash it until it’s lovely and smooth, adding breast milk or formula to achieve the right consistency.

Pumpkin

Not just for Hallowe’en, the pumpkin is an all round brilliant vegetable to use for weaning since it is full of anti-oxidants, minerals (copper, calcium, potassium, and phosphorous), and vitamins (vitamin A, B, B-6, C, and E).

Ingredients:

1 small pumpkin

Method:

Peel the pumpkin and chop. Steam on the hob for about 20 minutes (until tender), or steam in the microwave for 6 minutes (again, until tender – it may need more time depending on your microwave). Puree the pumpkin until smooth, adding breast milk or formula until you’re satisfied with the consistency and texture.

A small pumpkin can make up to 10 portions, but since it can be frozen you won’t waste anything.

Fruits

You might wonder why we suggest trying your baby with vegetables first, when it’s more likely that they will enjoy – and therefore eat – fruit, thanks to its sweeter taste. Well that’s exactly the reason; getting your baby used to eating his or her greens is the hardest part or weaning, as a baby’s taste buds need to get used to the taste of the vegetables. Once that is mastered, it’s time to move on to sweeter things.

Apples

Apples are an amazing fruit. Not only do they taste great, but they have absolutely everything that your baby needs for good health in mind and body. Apples give a range of healthy vitamins and minerals including anti-oxidants and phytonutrients, and they really do ward off a number of nasty diseases by boosting the immune system.

Ingredients:

1 small eating apple

Method:

Wash the apple thoroughly, peel, core, and chop. Pop the chunks into a saucepan with a small amount of water and bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down and allow to simmer until soft (about 5 minutes or so). Once cooked, puree until smooth and add breast milk or formula if you choose to (this isn’t necessary, but you might want to for flavour and consistency).

One small apple makes about four portions.

Banana

Bananas are amazing fruits. Packed full of vitamin B6 and vitamin C, as well as copper, potassium, and manganese (which is fabulous for strengthening bones), they not only taste incredible, but the texture is already lovely and soft, so they are easy to prepare and digest.

Ingredients:

½ small banana

Method:

Mash the banana with a fork, making sure you get rid of all the lumps. Add enough milk (both breast milk and formula work equally well) to give it a lovely smooth texture.

This just makes one portion, but it’s so easy to do that it’s not a chore to make more when you need to.

Pears

Pears tend to get a little forgotten when thinking about fruit, which is a shame as not only do they taste great, they are super good for you and the little ones too. Pears have loads of minerals (copper, iron, potassium, manganese, and magnesium), as well as folates (where folic acid comes from), and riboflavin (essential for red blood cell production).

Ingredients:

1 small pear (make sure it’s ripe)

Method:

Wash the pear, then peel and core it. Pop the whole thing into a saucepan with a little bit of water, and then bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn down the heat and simmer (covered) for around 7 minutes. Once soft, puree and add breast milk or formula should you wish to.

One pear makes about 4 portions.

Mango

Mango – possibly the most summery of fruits – is vitamin filled, juicy, and delicious.

Ingredients:

1 small mango

Method:

Wash the mango and then peel it in order to get to as much of the flesh as possible. Cut it away from the centre stone and puree everything.

One mango should get you 6 portions.

Avocado

Avocados might not be everyone’s first choice, but they shouldn’t be forgotten since they are rich in dietary fibre, minerals, nutrients, and vitamins. In fact, they pretty much have everything your weaning baby could want.

Ingredients:

1 medium avocado (check to make sure it’s nice and ripe)

Method:

Simply mash the flesh of the avocado until it’s as smooth as it will go, and then add breast milk or formula to get it to the perfect consistency.

For more superfood inspiration check out our baby food section on youtube!

Keep children safe online

The world in which our children are growing up in is vastly different to the one we found our feet in. Children today face so many new and varied pressures that just didn’t exist when we were navigating the tricky terrain of childhood, and so it makes sense for us as parents to be as switched on as we can be. We need to be taking an active and mindful interest in our children’s lives, and we need to be aware of the ways in which we can keep them safe too. With many under 16s now owning a smartphone, tablet and/ or computer it really is crucial for parents to know. How to keep kids safe online. This week we’re looking at ways we can do this, and reasons why it’s so important. Please do get in touch with your thoughts too.

 Why keeping kids safe online is so important

 The internet is amazing. When we were growing up, we didn’t have instant access to such a wealth of knowledge, information and opportunities to be social at the touch of a button. It’s one of the most amazing and innovative creations of the modern world and our children are so lucky to have it. Those who can remember the days of tape loading games and how long that used to take will know exactly what I mean! But with the wonders that it brings, there are inevitable pitfalls too.

 The internet is, quite frankly, a HUGE place for our children to be visiting. There are so many areas of the web that we don’t know about, and so many ways that our children can become vulnerable without us even knowing. The digital world changes so frequently and so rapidly that it can be really hard for parents to keep up with what their children are doing. Because of the nature of these changes, certain screen guarding procedures may not yet be in place, and this can mean your child isn’t always safe online.

 What does being safe online mean?

 We advise our children not to speak to strangers at the park and to always let you or a teacher know if they are being bullied; the same rules apply to online activity too. Sometimes it’s only too easy for kids to get ‘duped’ by online personas who aren’t all that they claim to be, so having an awareness of the ways in which your child might be vulnerable is so important. Read on for more tips on how to keep your child safe online.

 Understand what your child does online

 Your child will most likely go online to connect with friends and to browse the internet for information or to play games. Your child is likely to use Google, Whatsapp, Instagram, Snapchat and even sites such as Facebook and Twitter too. Do you know how to use these sites too?

 Lots of children also chat via other sites such as games or YouTube, and actually can browse for literally anything online. That’s quite a scary thought!

 Keeping kids safe

 If the thought of your child being able to access almost anything online makes you sweat, then you need to know how to keep them safe while they’re online. A complete blanket ban of the internet is not going to go down well, and isn’t necessary either. There are so many learning opportunities online for your child that you really don’t want them to miss.

 Stay safe while gaming

 You need to know what games you child is playing. Some are not suitable for children and may contain disturbing images or concepts. Some may contain abusive material directed towards others and some have chat room facilities that your child will be able to access freely. This means that they can speak to anyone, around the world, and conversations aren’t always monitored. Some children find certain games addictive and when this happens, other areas of their life can be affected.

 If you’re concerned, always check the game’s suitability (age rating, reviews, or take a look for yourself), and know how to block and report if you need to. It’s also a good idea to educate your child and be certain they know not to share information and to let you know if a game has upset them.

 Always activate safety settings, and update parental controls regularly. Check your child’s browsing history to make sure they haven’t been able to access inappropriate material and talk to them about what they have been doing online.

 Keep the conversation going

 It’s so important to keep talking to your child so that they always feel able to come to you if something isn’t right. And while we know its essential that your child trusts you, it’s also reasonable for them to know that you will be checking their phone and/ or tablet regularly to ensure they are staying safe online. Just a quick scan of messages and photos is suffice, but do it regularly and et your child know that passwords for all sites must be shared too.

 

Health Benefits of Avocado for Kids.

Children don’t always like to try new foods – especially the green, fresh kind. However, trying to entice your child to eat a more healthy diet comes with an array of benefits – kids become happier, more fulfilled and have an abundance of energy. Unfortunately, at some point, our children’s taste buds will head towards an array of dull, beige-coloured foods such as chips, nuggets and toasted soldiers, but it’s our job as parents to tempt their palette with more nutritious food choices (even, if it’s done, sneakily).

Avocados are an ideal super food to try when you’re attempting to tantalise your little ones taste buds. This naturally nutrient-dense fruit contains an array of naturally good fats, which are essential for your child’s growth and development. It’s easy to present avocados appealingly to encourage children to eat them. You could add some cocoa powder, mash in a banana and whip it up into a yummy mousse, or make your own creamy dip. You could even pop some in a blender with some strawberries and milk and make a strawberry milkshake. Trying to get kids to eat healthily can become a bit of a challenge, but present the food right and you’re onto a winner!

Here are five reasons why we need to be feeding more avocados to our kids:

They provide essential nutrients.

Avocados provide your child with the vital vitamins and minerals they need for their development. They come with an abundance of healthy fats – which are a great energy provider and help our bodies digest and absorb fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, and vitamin B6.

They relieve constipation.

Avocados are ideal for improving digestion, encouraging regular toilet trips and relieving constipation. It may seem misleading, but despite their creamy, rich texture this wonder fruit is actually full of fibre. Getting your child to eat just one avocado a day will work as a mild laxative and help any uncomfortable toilet troubles.

They’re a ‘good mood’ food

Is your child feeling sad, grumpy, anxious? Simply solution – feed them an avocado! Avocados have an infinite supply of good ‘mood-boosting’ fats. The healthy fats provided by this wonder fruit will keep your child feeling chirpy and cheerful throughout the day. Why? Because avocados are rich in tryptophan, vitamin B, and folate, combining these vitamins with healthy fats help to turn tryptophan into the feel-good hormone serotonin. When serotonin levels are raised in a child’s body feelings of happiness are created.

Eating them boosts your immune system.

Avocados are a true power house food; they provide a combination of essential vitamins and minerals (such as vitamin A, C, and E, Zinc and Iron), these nutrients are ideal for promoting immune health and supporting our body’s adrenal functions. Plus, as mentioned, avocados aid the absorption of other fat-soluble nutrients (found in food), which in-turn has a positive impact on our body’s immune system.

Avocados are also a rich source of vitamin E and Zinc; vitamin E promotes a healthy antibody production which can help fight against an array of diseases. Zinc, on the other hand, assists in healing wounds but also supports the manufacture of white blood cells; which will help protect your child’s body from any nasty invaders.

Eating them keeps our bones healthy

Avocados contain 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 fruit is also enriched with calcium and potassium; which is essential for keeping our kid’s bones healthy.

As you’ve just discovered there is a myriad of healthy fats and nutrients found in avocados – they’re so beneficial for the growth and development of our children.

Here are some ‘sneaky’ ways to entice your little ones to eat them:

• Mash them up into a chocolate pudding (recipe below)
• Hide them in a strawberry milkshake
• Add a little honey and turn them into popsicles
• Create a pesto, avocado pasta sauce
• Hide them in some healthy brownies
• Create a sneaky dip
• Add them into fruity muffins
• Make sushi sandwiches

Avocado, Banana & Chocolate Mousse Recipe

Serves 2

Prep time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

1 Ripe Banana
1 Ripe Avocado
2 heaped tbsp. Nutella
1 heaped tbsp. Peanut Butter
2 tbsp. Water
3 tbsp. Double Cream

Method:

Place all the ingredients into a food processor and blend them into a smooth mixture. Keep the mousse chilled and serve it when desired.

Mumma’s Tip: Place strawberries and chopped almonds on top for an even tastier pudding.

Samantha’s new book ‘Mum’s Sneaky Recipes’ is a one-of-a-kind fully comprehensive guide to healthy eating in families. The first book of its kind to incorporate creative ways to smuggle fruit and vegetables into delicious meals for your children, while teaching little ones about healthy eating. This recipe book also aims to teach children in a fun and interactive way how to cook their own healthy, nutritious recipes in the kitchen.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/cka/Mummas-Sneaky-Recipes-creative-vegetables-delicious-children/1472139097
https://www.waterstones.com/book/mums-sneaky-recipes/samantha-quinn/9781472139092

The Benefits of Baby Massage

Human beings have five incredible senses; sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. We use these fantastically important senses every single day of our lives, and that includes the day we are born. Although newborns can’t see too well until their eyes become fully focused (at around 6 to 8 months), their hearing isn’t fully developed (until around one month old), and their taste buds only encounter milk until weaning begins, their other senses are already helping them to understand the world around them, which is essential for healthy growth and development.

Their other senses being smell and touch. And smell, although useful, will only account for a small percentage of a child’s ability to learn.

It is, perhaps, touch then that has the most profound impact on a child from the very start. When adults interact with a small child, they often automatically reach out to touch or stroke the baby, and certainly when holding the child they are stimulating the situation with the sense of touch. As soon as a baby is born, they are handed to their mother for skin to skin bonding. This isn’t just about holding a gorgeous newborn; this is about comfort and love and for your child to learn who is there to protect them from the start.

So baby massage, with its emphasis on gentle touching and soothing, is the next logical step for any parent who wishes to add another element to their child’s daily routine. An element that has many benefits other than simply being a pleasant thing to do (although that is certainly the case!).

Is Baby Massage Right for You and Your Baby?

There is nothing quite like the touch of another human being. A hug, a caress, a massage. Just being held is a wonderful experience that lowers blood pressure and makes both parties feel happy and secure. Babies may not understand everything that is going on around them, but they do understand the people who love them when they make literal contact with them. Sometimes that is all they need to know.

Amazingly, a newborn can soon distinguish between which parent is actually cuddling them, and their response is different depending on whether it is Mummy or Daddy.

And of course, baby massage allows for uninterrupted quiet time with your baby, which, in these busy days can sometimes be overlooked.

Although baby massage has been proven to strengthen the bond between the parent and child, will give your child confidence, calmness, and peace, and will even help your baby sleep well (and for longer), there are other fantastic reasons for getting involved in baby massage. These include easing the pain of wind, colic, or reflux, soothing eczema, and other skin complaints, and, for you, helping with symptoms of postnatal depression.

How To Start

You do not need any professional qualifications in order to begin soothing and relaxing your child, although it can be a slightly daunting idea at first. There are specific baby massage classes that are often run by local parent and child groups, and these can be very useful in giving you the confidence to get started. But don’t worry, there is no ‘one way’ to massage your baby. Do what seems right for you.

To start, you need to be in the right frame of mind. You need to be relaxed. You need to be calm. You need to be in a quiet, darkened space with no distractions and no chance of being disturbed (otherwise all your good work will be undone in seconds!). Make sure the television is off, your phone is elsewhere, and you are not playing any loud music. The idea is to keep the massage room in dim light. Speak in whispers if possible. Before you bring your baby into the room, make sure everything is ready, including a blanket or towel for them to lie on (a towel is good if you are using oils, as it can be washed easily), a fresh nappy, and warm clothes or another blanket for cuddling up in after the massage.

The Etiquette

Although it may feel strange at first, it is good to talk to your baby about what you are planning to do – as time goes by, they will associate the sound of your words (and eventually the words themselves) as the start of their massage time, and they will automatically become more relaxed and receptive. Before you touch each part of their body, say that you are going to do so (“I’m now going to touch your arm”, for example), and ask whether it is all right. You are building trust by doing this, even though your baby won’t be able to speak back to you to begin with. Since that is the case, it is essential that you watch your baby as you begin to massage them; if their reaction is not good, stop immediately. And never massage a poorly baby.

The Benefits

Massage is not simply a purely physical thing; it is emotional too, and it causes an attachment through touch. Massaging your child benefits you as it brings you closer to your baby, and it benefits the baby since it makes them more relaxed and content. Just enjoy the moment, and don’t worry about what is next on the agenda, or the washing up, or where you have to be at a certain time, or any of the other dozen things on today’s to do list. They are for later. Keep massage time purely as a moment of serenity for you and your baby, and enjoy it.

Massage increases blood flow, which in turn increases the number of endorphins that are present within the body. Endorphins are mood enhancing hormones that make us feel happy and puts us in a good mood. Not only that, but massage soothes pain and can ease constipation, wind, colic, and reflux. It improves oxygen flow which eases muscles and joints. And as a bonus, massage boosts the immune system too! With all these health benefits, baby massage is a wonderful way to keep your child fit and well in a way that will also strengthen the bond between you.

So why wait? Even if your child is older than newborn, introducing massage is still a great idea, and one that will become a fun, enjoyable part of your daily routine. If you need any advice or support, please do get in touch www.mummaloveorganics.com – we’re always happy to help.

Boost your chances to conceive naturally

When you’re trying to conceive, there is no better time to shine the spotlight on your body and mind, and changing the things that are currently not working for you. We can all benefit from taking stock of our overall health from time to time, and especially when you intend to nurture new life! Here are some tips on how to boost your chances of conceiving naturally.

Facing infertility

Infertility can be hugely distressing, and often a subject that few women like to discuss openly. It’s intensely private, and there are many reasons why couples might prefer to keep this to themselves. The heartache of trying to conceive naturally can be hard to deal with, so if you do find yourself in this position, take care to nurture and protect your relationship with your partner as much as you can. Talk to each other, and support each other through your journey. Despite the frustration, there are alternative methods of conception that you can explore with your medical team, so do read up as much as you can on all of your options.

If you are only just starting out on your journey to conception, there is no reason why you can’t maximise your chances now.

Eat well

Your body needs nutrition to be able to function well. And you need the energy to maintain tip top physical and emotional health too! Many women may believe that a certain diet might be the key to conception, but actually a normal balanced diet is the best course of action to take. Make sure your daily diet includes:

● Fats. Yes, really! The body needs fats (or essential fatty acids) to maintain a healthy diet. The fats found in eggs and butter are particularly good for fertility as they contain arachidonic. If you’d rather not eat eggs and butter, you can up your intake of avocados instead. Also supplement your diet with oils such as coconut or evening primrose.
● Carbs. Another dieters no-no, but carbohydrates are vital for the body’s ability to maintain thyroid health. Go for whole grains, nuts, starchy vegetables, and 1-2 servings of fruit per day.
● Cut down/ eliminate alcohol and caffeine. Recent studies report that drinking alcohol and caffeine can impact your chances of conceiving, so work to avoid these at all costs!
● Plenty of greens… and reds and yellows too! Eating a wide range of fruit and vegetables will boost your fertility and help you to maintain overall health too.
● Eat fish- particularly types that are high in omega 3s (mackerel, trout and salmon) but go easy on fish such as tuna, which has high levels of mercury.
● Go organic- if in doubt, choose organic produce, and aim for as many natural, unprocessed ingredients as you can.

Use herbs

Herbs can be used to help stabilise and regulate hormones in the body, and this can have a great impact on fertility. For example, Macca can be used to raise the body temperature, leading to more chances of conceiving naturally. Red clover is also fantastic, as it’s high in vitamins and minerals, and helps to process metabolic waste in the body. This means that the body is more alkaline, which is better for conception. Red clover also relaxes the reproductive system and strengthens the blood and bones too.

Cleanse your mind

If you are stressed and anxious, your body is working overtime in all the wrong ways. Lots of women find that once they clear their minds and focus on positivity, their fertility issues become a thing of the past. If you are feeling stressed about conceiving, try to take steps to relax a little more. Try:

● Meditation- this can feel more energising than a full night’s sleep!
● Gentle exercise- yoga, for example is wonderful for focusing on your breathing, and clearing your mind effectively. Walking and swimming are great too, and all have the added bonus of ensuring your physical health is being looked after too.
● Keep an open mind. This is easier said than done, but it really can help to remain open to your journey. Allow your body to explore it’s fertility and set yourself apart from stresses and strains.

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.