lamaze gardenbug footfinder rattles

I wish that I’d bought these a hell of a lot earlier; they’re absolutely brilliant! If you’ve ever wondered what to do in the toy/amusement department when your baby is too young to grasp hold of something, these are the answer. Little socks and wristbands with rattly, crinkly garden bugs on them. Baby A goes wild every time I put them on her – I have to limit the amount of time otherwise she gets too overexcited!

lamaze gardenbug footfinder rattles

I think that the rattles are supposed to encourage interaction and movement and the bright colours and little sounds from the rattles are exciting and stimulating – I love the fact that you don’t need to actually hold anything in front of your baby, you just put the socks on and away you go. Beware, however, if you have cats and dogs because the noises seem to be absolutely irresistible to them – coupled with jerky little baby-leg movements and you’ve got animal chaos on your hands.

I take the socks everywhere with me, now, and pop them on when I need to provide a bit of distraction. They take up a lot less room than something like a playmat or a mobile, so if you’re out and about and need a “toy” for a newborn then it’s a great option.

I got my Lamaze Gardenbugs at Amazon here – they were £11.97

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unisex safaro babygrow sleepsuits mothercare

We have been moving back into our newly renovated house and I keep discovering bags of things I’d forgotten I had. It’s brilliant – kind of like Christmas, but without having to go shopping or cook a roast. In one of the baby bags I found a pack of three “safari” babygrows from Mothercare that I had stowed away because I thought we’d be back in the house a lot sooner than we were…

Previously I had only had the starter packs of babygrows from Mothercare, which are great, quality-wise, and pretty good value for money. There were some white ones in the treasure-trove, so they were handy, but the pack of three was a bit of a bonus. Especially as they are a size 0-3 months and I thought they’d be too short for Baby A by now, but they just about fit her!

unisex safaro babygrow sleepsuits mothercare

The quality is absolutely gorgeous, soft, thick fabric with good poppers and nicely sewn-in feet. The babygrows are a lot thicker than the ones in the starter packs and they wash perfectly. So, just a hint – if you’re looking for something a little more luxurious then go for the “3 for £15” packs (here) rather than the value packs. Sounds obvious, but, y’know…

I don’t think my babygrow design is still available – I got them back in May – but they have very similar ones here and the hedgehog and penguin ones are really cute too. And unisex, so stock up on these if you’re about to have a baby but don’t know whether it’s a girl or a boy!

Mothercare Baby Sleepsuits

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the uphill baby blog

The three month update. I would use that age-old phrase the time has flown by, but actually, this month hasn’t. Probably because we’ve been waiting to move back into our house and every day has presented a new delay or obstacle, but also because there have been so many little changes with Baby Angelica and I’ve started to be able to tell one day from the next instead of them all running into one another! Let’s see what’s been happening in the crazy world of Mum and Baby…

Baby

Chewing, licking, kicking, dribbling, giggling, gurgling, sighing and, most importantly, rolling. Not often, and not all the way over, but Baby A has started to be able to propel herself sideways. No longer is she an immobile little heated package, she wriggles and kicks and – if you pop out of the room to grab something – it’s very likely you’ll find her in a completely different position to the one you left her in. I’m not talking acrobatics, here, but there’s some definite activity going on!

Over the past month I feel as though new motherhood has taken a massive turn; there’s a lot more proper “awake” time that requires interaction and a hell of a lot more effort and attention than the “feed, change, sleep, repeat” kind of routine that takes up the first month or so. Certainly there are less of the longer naps (finding the time to write these posts is becoming more difficult!) and trying to get tasks done when Baby A is awake can sometimes be met with furious objection on her part. An absolute Godsend, for me, has been the BabyMoov Swoon Up – review post coming soon – which is a bouncer with two height levels, one on the ground and one at adult waist height.

ruth crilly baby blog

It’s high enough that the baby is out of reach of Dexter the dog, who likes to come and try to lick her – and she can see exactly what’s going on in the world, rather than being stuck looking at ankles and the lost socks and dust balls beneath the sofa. (It’s here online if you’d like to see more detail.)

Anyway, this extra-alert awake time was something of a shock to the system when it first happened, because I was used to this inert little bundle and then she suddenly opened her eyes and responded to words and started patting my boobs when she fed! No longer a little Tamagotchi but a proper, all-singing all-dancing tiny human. But how incredibly rewarding! Every smile, every bumbling bit of baby chatter, every tap of the hand or crazy leg-kicking session, they all have me completely captivated and I have to stop myself from recording minutes and minutes of footage on my iPhone, because when I watch it back it looks like some creepy silent movie. (Baby solemnly stares into the lens. In the background a kettle comes to the boil and a dog whines. Baby kicks left leg, yawns, returns to blankly stare at the camera.)

Sleeping is just as random as it was in the last update – sometimes three or four hours at a time during the day, sometimes no naps in the day, which are the days that I struggle with, and still no set bedtime. It never seems to fall before about nine o’clock – in fact, eleven seems to be the usual, but until we’re back in our house I can’t see any point in setting up a routine – we’re always on the move and car journeys tend to dictate the sleeping times. (She just can’t stay awake in the car! See post here.)

I’m looking forward to creating a lovely little bedtime routine with a warm bath and a song (need to learn some songs, at the moment I sing, in order of frequency, The Addams Family, Bad Romance by Lady Gaga and the theme tune to The Flinstones.) In the last week or so there have been no middle-of-the-night feeds, we’ve been getting a full six or seven hours of uninterrupted sleep, but I have to say that I didn’t begrudge the middle-of-the-night feed, really. I just used to slide Baby A over from the bedside cot, latch her on and semi-snooze my way through it! I found it rather lovely and comforting and – though I welcome a bit of nocturnal normality – I will miss it, I think. (Watch things change this week now – I bet I’ll be up at 2am, 4am, 6am….)

Body

Now let’s talk about me! I’ll keep it brief: the gut is still there, though it is still shrinking and when I wear my very tight leggings, it looks almost (almost) non-pregnant. Which is great news. Boobs: nothing new to report, other than they go like rocks and start aching if I don’t do regular feeds. I did manage to express a bit of milk the other day (Breastmilk Diary post forthcoming) and felt very pleased with the old knockers, even if they are covered in veins and have saucer nips. (Note to self: remember to delete that sentence.) Having my hair blonded and trimmed gave me a bit of a confidence boost, appearance-wise, and I also bought myself some little ankle boots with a small heel in an attempt to feel a bit sexier. Which backfired, because the first time I wore them I did my knee in walking down some stairs. I’m like a cow when it comes to steps – fine going up, absolutely rubbish getting back down again.

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I have come to the conclusion that the best gadget in the world, ever, for saving your sanity when you have a baby is this:

baby sleeping in car

Yes, readers, I am talking about the humble motorcar. The magical, sleep-inducing, cry-preventing machine that is, with any luck, sitting right outside of your front door or maybe at the side of the road in a residents’ bay or in a parking space behind your house. If you have a car and a new baby and have not yet tried the alchemy that is “placing a screaming baby in the back and starting the engine” then you must do this right now. See how the screams almost instantly cease. Feel the life pour back into your body, your headache disappear, see your strained relationship with your partner suddenly fix itself as your eyes meet in the rear-view mirror and the car gently follows the curve where the M40 feeds into the M25. (Yes, friends, sometimes you have to travel far, just to keep them sleeping!)

If you do not have a car and ever, ever needed an excuse to find a way of acquiring one, then this is it. If you can’t drive and ever, ever needed the motivation to learn, then – again – this is it. Even if you buy a 1984 Peugeot 405 (fifty quid, Autotrader) with no wheels and stick it on the driveway (Oh Hi, neighbours!) you’ll be winning in the baby-soothing department – though I’m still not sure which part babies love; the vibrations of the engine or the sound of the road beneath the tyres…

ruth crilly the uphill

I always thought that the “driving baby about in the middle of the night” thing was a bit of a cliché, a method of getting babies to sleep used only by those with particularly screechy, angsty babies. But as anyone with a baby that has cried at them full-volume for more than approximately forty-five seconds knows, it only takes a minute of this stressful screaming for your brain to go into full-on can’t-cope meltdown. When a baby is red-faced and shouting at you at midnight and you’re completely knackered, it’s almost impossible to think of things to offer as a comfort or distraction – you’ve fed, changed, burped and cuddled the baby but you just need the crying to stop.

Car.

Brum brum.

You’re welcome.

cybex aton q car seat review

By the way, I use the Cybex Aton Q car seat – it’s bloody brilliant. I think it provides the most “laid-flat” baby position on the market (or something) and so it’s great for when the baby is really small. And it has been designed, also, with premature babies in mind, and the insert kind of cocoons them. You can find the Aton Q at Mothercare here.

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ruth crilly and baby

Following my Co-Sleeping. Kind of. post, I decided to take the plunge and see what it was like sharing a bed with Baby Angelica. If only for a few hours. Because I started to wonder whether the whole co-sleeping issue had maybe been blown out of all proportion, fuelled by newspaper stories and SIDS statistics. After all, co-sleeping is – quite simply – just having your baby in the bed with you. It’s not rocket science. The safety considerations should be, for the majority of people, a matter of common sense. (Though I suppose many people lack common sense, or are perhaps too tired or overwhelmed by new motherhood to have a good grip on the practicalities of life. In which case it’s probably a very good thing that the co-sleeping safety “rules” are drummed into us. I have to say, actually, that I was staying at a friend’s house last week and she has a very soft mattress topper. I had planned to have Baby A in with me because I was staying alone and thought it would be nice, but I decided against it because the mattress was so plumpy. Gorgeous for me, possibly not for a baby. And perhaps I wouldn’t have even thought of that had I not read about babies needing to be on a firm mattress. So: on the one hand, you could say that the safety drills are overkill, but on the other, maybe they are totally necessary!)

Anyway, the other day, after doing a quick bed “safety check” (was it a water bed? No. Was it a bed of nails? No. Was I drunk or on drugs? Possibly to an outsider it would have seemed so, dressed as I was in a kind of medieval smock with one breast hanging out and a demented look upon my face, but no, I was not drunk or on drugs) I placed the babe in the middle of the (firm) bed, making sure that all pillows, duvets, dogs and loose bits of clothing were well away. I suppose things were helped along on the co-sleeping front by the fact that a) the husband was (inexplicably) on a bike ride with his best friend at 8am in the morning, having not done a jot of exercise in the twelve years we’ve been together, and b) I wasn’t really that tired. In fact, I had been up for a couple of hours after an early feed – ready for a nap but by no means exhausted.

So no fear of a hulking great man rolling over accidentally, and no fear of me being so knackered that I lose track of what’s going on in the baby department. But do you know what? She didn’t do very much. Just lay there and went to sleep. My fears that the duvet would have some kind of supernatural moment and levitate itself upwards and over the baby’s face were unfounded, as were my anxieties about doing a violent side roll (having never before executed such a move in bed, a slovenly mooching slow-turn is the best I can manage).

The baby slept soundly and so did I, and I can tell you that it was utterly joyful having our heads close together and being able to have a proper sleepy little time. I loved it. Would I do it all the time? At night? No. And I’ll tell you why: I do all kinds of jerky sh*t in my sleep – I have night terrors and regularly panic that the ceiling is closing in, or become convinced that the wardrobe is James Corden and start engaging in conversation. (True story). Now and then I sit bolt upright and the husband has to get up and talk me back from the edge. Sometimes I go all rigid and think I’m strapped to a trainline. None of these things, I would have thought, are conducive to a good night’s sleep for baby Angelica. Or for me.

So back she goes into the bedside crib, which is, for me, the best of both worlds. I’d highly recommend if you can spare the cash/ convince your parents that a bedside crib would make an excellent present. Click through to my Snuzpod post to see pics.

Some things I thought of that you may find interesting if you’re considering co-sleeping:

1) I reckon you need quite a big bed. At least a king. Preferably a superking. I say this because you really have to treat the baby as an extra adult – you don’t want to be squishing him/her into the middle of the bed and you don’t want to be lying there with your arms pinned to your sides all night, worrying that you’re going to elbow the baby in the face or suffocate him/her with your enormous boobs. Just my humble opinion, of course – perhaps some people do very well in small beds with babies – but I would say that a small double or double would be a bit tight with two adults and the babe as well.

2) Opt for a firmish mattress so that there’s no “give” beneath the baby – I can’t imagine it’s good for his or her face to be surrounded by soft, yielding mattress topper. Water beds are a no-no, air beds I’d imagine the same.. I have no idea about memory foam. Anyone know?

3) The official advice seems to be that the best place for the baby, if you’re co-sleeping, is between the mother and a wall, so that the baby can’t roll out and the mother has “control” of the space. Apparently Mums are better at being aware of the baby’s presence. Funny that…

Please – as always – add your own comments, advice and experiences below!

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expressing breastmilk

Title is pretty self-explanatory really: things hit an all-time undignified low the other day when it became necessary, due to the huge engorgement of my right breast, to milk myself into a teacup. Closing the blinds in the lounge would probably have been prudent, but my nipple was literally shooting milk in four different directions, like a faulty shower head, and so there was no time for pleasantries. I just jammed my boob into the cup and watched as the flesh deflated. I collected a quarter of a cupful without even touching the breast – it was just shooting out!

Bet you’re glad you started reading this post, aren’t you? You’ll never think of me in the same way again!

Anyway. After the cup episode, I decided to be ready with my manual breast pump for the next time. Manual not machine, to start, because I can only handle one set of instructions at a time and I haven’t read the ones for the Medela Swing pump yet. So the MAM pump, then (find it here), except that other than getting it out of the box, I didn’t prepare anything. Just left it on top of the chest of drawers to remind myself to start using it.

Yesterday morning found me waking to a completely soaked bra, pyjama top and bedsheet – a quick glance at the Human Milker, who was sleeping soundly, showed me that I wasn’t going to get any boob relief from that direction, and so it was the perfect opportunity to test out the MAM. Except that I hadn’t sterilised it. A frantic perusal of the instructions showed that I needed to do an initial boil of the equipment to kill germs, but my breast (left this time!) was leaking like a shed roof in a thunderstorm (weirdest simile of the year) and so I decided to just try it out without sterilising and chuck the milk away. Just to get things going. Otherwise I would never break the back of this expressing business…

And so nipple went into funnel and I simply squeezed the handle and….out the milk came! To be fair, it was flying out already so it’s not as though the pump had to do much, but it was definitely spurting with every squeeze of the pump. Weird side-effect: my feet kept getting wet. What is this phenomenon, I thought? And then I realised that I hadn’t screwed the bottom of the bottle on. Ha.

guide to expressing

The MAM breast pump is very simple to use – just a funnel that pops into the handle part – and then a little dial that changes the suction. I found that the second lightest suction level was most comfortable – any stronger and it felt as though my nipple was going to come off. (Weird fact: the pump pulls your nipple so that it’s really long and stretching out down the funnel, it’s quite a sight!) With the lighter suction the milk flowed much more easily and after about thirty seconds the bottom of the bottle had a pleasing layer of milk slopping about. Hurrah!

So far so good, then – I think I had an easy job of it because I was merely siphoning off whatever was already making an exit, but it has boosted my confidence after a week of breastfeeding mishaps (more in a new post soon) and I feel a lot more positive about being able to express when the time comes that I really need to. If the time comes. I still think that all of this bottle lark is a right old faff!

MAM Breastfeeding Starter Kit is on Amazon here – this is an even better deal than the one I got, as it also has a microwave steriliser. £100 worth of equipment, £39.99.

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ruth crilly baby blog

(I just found this post; thought I had published it but it was languishing in my drafts folder. Sorry! I wrote it nearly two weeks ago now…)

Ooh! Well that was a turnout for the books! I’ve just experienced the most primal, intense feeling of protectiveness over Baby A, followed by a bit of a secret cry, head in handbag (pretending to look for wipes) so that the community nurse wouldn’t see me. Yes, friends, we’ve just done the “eight week jabs”. Vaccinations, in case “jabs” isn’t a globally-used term.

Firstly, I’d like to say that nothing could have prepared me for the new type of scream that came out of my baby’s mouth when the injection went in. It wasn’t like the gentle little cries that you get when a baby is hungry, and it’s not even like those angry, red-faced screams that you get when a baby is…er…hungry. Or overtired. Or windy. It had something of an adult “edge” to it – a properly shocked, pained scream. It tugged at my heart-strings, I tell you! I was actually quite surprised at myself, because I had pooh-poohed the suggestion that I might feel as upset as the baby (my sister was in pieces when she took my niece for hers) but when I saw her little round face and all of the hurt surprise written upon it… well. One thought went through my head and that thought was I will do absolutely everything in my power, from this day on, to make sure that you never need to unnecessarily feel pain.

Secondly, and again, this was a surprise: nothing could have prepared me for the fact that this primal instinct kicked in and I wanted to just bundle up my baby and take her out of reach. Obviously I know that you can’t, and that these vaccinations have to be done, but still – after the first one had gone into the left leg, I did very much feel as though I didn’t want the second one going into the perfect, pudgy right leg! The poor thing – she looked up at me before the first jab with such trust in her eyes, and gave me a massive smile, and then in went the nurse with her big old needle.

I can only hope that Baby A doesn’t remember this little episode and hold it against me. She’s currently sleeping like a log, and I’m sitting editing posts waiting for her to wake up and scream the place down. Perhaps she won’t – do all babies do the crying-unsettled-for-two-days thing after jabs, or is it just pot luck? Let me know!*

*update: Baby A slept for ages, then the following day she was quite sleepy. I think that she fed less but she didn’t really cry any more than usual. Just in case you were wondering.

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