baby 7 month update

Wah! I’m still absolutely stuck on six months – it honestly only seems like yesterday when I wrote the 6 Months Update Post! Maybe because I’ve been ill for over half of the past month – and there was Christmas and New Year to contend with, so it’s no wonder that the time has just slipped through my fingers. But I knew that it would, so this month I’ve been jotting down little notes and observations on a regular basis – you’ll excuse me if this post seems mega-organised with little headings and sub-headings? Thank you. Here we go.

baby 7 month update

Baby

  • The Sleep Issue. Well, the sleep thing (lack of) was pretty hideous for about four or five weeks. Nothing we did worked – ignoring the crying, pandering to the crying, shushing, singing, pacing, rocking, television on low volume, television on high volume… In the end, as I predicted in my sleep post, I just embraced the sleeplessness and the baby-waking (every hour on a bad night) and wrote it off as a phase. And do you know what? It was. So much so that the pain of those weeks has almost entirely disappeared from my memory. (Almost. I have the myriad of empty eye-cream tubes and concealer pots and eye-patch mask packages in my bathroom cabinet as a reminder.) I thought that perhaps it might be a breastfeeding problem, because the baby gets used to feeding from you for comfort throughout the night, but then extensive “research” on Mumsnet and Netmums (confusing) showed me that there were thousands of people with the same issues, whether breast or bottle feeding. So yeah – if you’re reading this through a red-eyed fug, mainlining coffee and trying not to weep because you’ve been up all night, know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I’ll be writing more about this, because there was one thing that did help, but it was so obvious that I’m almost embarrassed to tell you. (*whispers routine*) Enforced daytime naps (husband taking the baby out for a walk in the pram in the late morning, and in the car to the shops in the afternoon) helped massively. But we only really established this routine after the baby had stopped waking up so much, so it’s a bit of a chicken-egg situation.
  • Rolling. Oh good God, there’s nothing like turning your back for ten seconds to find your baby halfway to France, trailing laptop charger cords behind her and trying to kick her way out of the window. We are on a major health and safety drive here – everywhere you look there’s a potential hazard! One of our main things to get used to is charger cords and not leaving things plugged in and also the problem of my husband’s constant coin-dropping. Every time he sits down, whether on the carpet, the sofa or in the car, all of his loose change just clangles out of his jeans pockets, it drives me mad! I constantly find money all over the floor, so I am considering making him wear a bum bag to keep it all in. Ha.
  • General on-the-moveness. Rolling, sitting up (as of yesterday, actually!) and throwing the head around like some kind of crazy canonball; no longer can I just “pop to the loo” with the baby lying in the middle of the bed. I can’t turn my back for a second! Yesterday she managed to climb out of a Bumbo chair! I thought the whole point of those was that they kept them stationary! The on-the-moveness means that there is absolutely no way I can do any work when the baby is awake; I look back on those first months and can’t believe how much I used to get done. I think, on that note, that the time has come for me to look for a bit of help during the week. A couple of days would do it, maybe from about ten until four. But where does one look for this kind of help? A freelance nanny? Do they exist? Preferably one with PA skills and a knowledge of video editing – ha! That would be amazing. Basically I need a clone of myself. I should advertise.
  • Weaning. We started weaning Angelica about a week before she turned six months, but we were quite non-committal about it, really, and just faffed around with a bit of breast milk mixed with baby rice to see how she liked the texture. Since then food has been mainly from the very convenient Ella’s Kitchen pouches, because we have both been quite poorly and the baby seemed to love them. I know, I know; they’re for emergencies, full of fruit, no nutrients because they’ve been heated, blah blah blah; it’s organic baby food in a pouch, people who are about to criticise, not Burger King! Freshly prepared food starts from tomorrow (with lumps and bits in, because she’s had smooth stuff for weeks and seems to have conquered that) and I’ll be back with a little food diary-style post when I get a moment. A friend gave me loads of Annabel Karmel books so I’ve been reading those at breakfast time – lots of the recipes are exactly the same as adult ones, which was reassuring. I thought that cooking for babies was going to be really complicated, but so far as I can tell it’s all common sense and lots of the stuff can kind of be siphoned off from the adult cooking to make a mini-portion, minus the seasoning and spices and so on. Thank God, because the idea of having to make two evening meals in my already manic day fills me with dread!
  • Bottle-Feeding. I’ve got the breastmilk expressing down to pat, now, I’m pleased to say, and the baby now takes a feed every other day or so from a bottle. Mostly to get her used to the feel of the bottle, just in case I need to be away for a few hours. Ironically, I’ve been too ill to go anywhere, but I have a girls’ lunch this weekend and a couple of other engagements, so it will be interesting to see how she gets on. I sometimes think that my husband manages the whole baby thing much better than I do – he’s great at sticking to routines and getting the baby to take bottles and eat her solids… He’s my superhero at the moment – he has the absolute patience of a saint –  but I’ll save all of that for another post. We use the MAM bottles, with teats designed especially for breastfed babies – you can read about expressing and bottle-feeding in my previous post here. I’m still doing about six, maybe seven breastfeeds a day, but I must say that they are dramatically shorter and more efficient than they were even a month ago.

baby 7 month update

Body (mine!)

  • Hair Loss. Yeah, it happened. I reckon I have only about two-thirds of my previous hair volume and I have a bald patch on either side of my head, at the front, as though I have a receding hairline. I’ll be honest; it doesn’t bother me too badly, but I think if the receding gets any worse then I’ll have to stop wearing my hair up for a while! I’ve no doubt that constantly pulling my hair into a ponytail or bun is probably not helping the loss situation. I’ll keep you updated.
  • Tummy. Better news here! Despite my daily Mint Choc Magnum, my tummy has shrunk drastically over the last month. It’s not flat (there’s a nice old loose pouch hanging about not knowing really what to do with itself) but it’s alright. I can live with it. I’m going to start doing some Youtube exercise routines in the living room from tomorrow, so let’s see if crunches might have some impact. Giving up Magnums would probably have more impact, but I’m afraid I just can’t compromise on those at the moment. A girl has to have one vice, surely!

As I’ve mentioned, I’ll try and address some of the above topics more fully in separate posts – I have loads of baby equipment reviews to do too. Once I get that clone of myself I’ll make a start…

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Review: Philips Avent Comfort Single Electric Breast Pump

Ooh. New breast pump discovery. Granted, this news isn’t going to turn everyone on, it’s pretty niche, but I’m quite excited because this particular breast pump was a bit of a surprise. I’m not sure why, but I had it in my head that the Philips Avent Comfort Single Electric Breast Pump had really bad online reviews, and so I had shelved it in the utility room and not really felt inclined to give it a try. As it happens, the online reviews for this pump are universally excellent, so God only knows why I thought otherwise; I must have been in the throes of early-post-partum madness.

Missed the previous breast-pumping/breastfeeding posts? Read here…

So yes, a bit of a surprise, it was, (hi Yoda) when I turned on this little beast of a boob-pumper to find that it started my milk flow almost instantly and filled the 120ml bottle that was attached in about twenty minutes flat. That’s in comparison to the Medela, generally considered to be the Gold Standard by most Mums I’ve spoken to or conversed with here on the internet, which takes a good few minutes to stimulate milk flow and then around twenty to thirty minutes to get 50ml of milk.

Now I have no doubt that the three times I’ve used the Avent and obtained vast amounts of milk could simply be coincidence – over-full boob, right time of day, etc – but there does seem to be something that it does that the Medela doesn’t. Maybe it’s the cushioned funnel part (funnel? milking cup?) which is all soft and warm and feels nicer than the rigid, cushionless Medela funnel; perhaps it’s the way that they’ve designed the pump so that you don’t have to lean forward, awkwardly… Maybe it’s the type of suction, long sucks rather than shorter sucks, that floats my milk-expressing boat. I don’t know yet – I just know that it works. Really, really well.

Review: Philips Avent Comfort Single Electric Breast Pump

Let’s talk about the milking position. With the Medela and its uncushioned cup/funnel, you have to kind of press the plastic into your breast tissue to form a vacuum and, if you move your back or shift position, the vacuum is invariably broken meaning that you have to reattach all over again. You also have to keep your hand clamped around the funnel part, I find, to keep a good attachment. And lean forward slightly so that the milk goes down into the bottle rather than sliding back onto the breast. The Avent has been designed in such a way that the cup/funnel part forms a vacuum very easily (I think it’s the nice cushion parts!) and even if you wiggle about to plug your iPhone into the charger for the thirtieth time in a day or unwrap a Mint Choc Magnum it stays pretty well attached. Obviously you need to hold it on – it’s not magical! – but there’s not that constant awareness that you need to be careful about your position. You don’t get rigor mortis setting in by the end of your twenty-odd minutes of pumping time. You can sit bolt upright, too (great for the back) rather than half-slumping in order to keep the pump on..

I have to say that the Avent isn’t as neat or attractive as the Medela and it’s slightly noisier (in that it sounds more like some kind of medieval tyre pump rather than the gentle hum of the Medela) but the results don’t lie. 120ml from one breast is epic. For me, at least. I don’t even get that much out of two, usually! Anyhow, I shall continue my experiments and do some kind of league table for you with pros and cons. Price-wise, the Avent is £84.89 on Amazon (here) whereas the Medela is £99.99 (here), so not a vast amount in it – both include a feeding teat so that you have a complete “system”, though I’m finding the MAM bottles to be the best so far. (See here. I use the number 3 teats now for Angelica as she’s 6 months+.)

Review: Philips Avent Comfort Single Electric Breast Pump

In summary, I love the Medela and I know that it’s a proper favourite – the design certainly looks more refined than the Avent. But in truth, I think that Medela could take a few pointers from the Avent design – the cushioning, the tilt of the funnel, the different suctions options… I’m lucky enough that I’ve had a few different pumps to play about with, but I suppose that many of the people leaving online reviews will only have tested the one, so if that works for them of course they will leave a great review. So it depends on which singular pump they’ve picked up! Which is why I think that my league table could be quite good. I can be the Pump Master. Hohoho. Leave me some suggestions below – I also quite like the MAM Manual pump, though it doesn’t half give me arm ache. Good for stealth pumping in the middle of the night, but let’s not go into that.

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babybjorn balance soft bouncer review

Look, I know that we’re not supposed to really think about “style” when it comes to baby equipment: in the same way that you have to accept that your vintage sideboard is probably going to have Ella’s Kitchen broccoli and swede puree caked onto it permanently by this time next year, or that your best sofa cushions are most likely going to get stained and ruined, when choosing baby “stuff” you are, it seems, supposed to think more about functionality and safety and how greatly it entertains/stimulates your baby.

babybjorn balance soft bouncer review

It now feels ridiculous that we ever sat down to discuss the exact specification of our kitchen units (champagne glass) or got pernickety about the finish on our matte-white, minimalist, perfectly-rendered walls; I can imagine that the worries we had when renovating our house will become completely and utterly pointless when the baby is old enough to run along the open-plan kitchen-diner with a marker pen/piece of beetroot/twig/plastic fairy wand in her hand. It’s laughable that we waited months for a set of corner sliding glass doors “to bring the outside in” and “provide an uninterrupted view into the garden” when almost the entire view is obscured by the great big f*ck-off Fisher Price Jumperoo that we’ve installed in the dining room…

babybjorn balance soft bouncer review

Don’t get me wrong, I do not begrudge any of the rolling/bouncing/sleeping/jumping/feeding equipment that I’ve installed in my house – some of it has provided quite literally days of fun, hours of relief from constantly jiggling a bored baby, whole months of unadulterated amusement. Most of it has been pretty much essential. But why oh why do the things that are bouncy/jingly/interesting have to be so bloody ugly?

Something that ticks all of the boxes when it comes to comfort, usefulness, practicality, safety and – for the style-conscious – aesthetics: the Balance Soft Bouncer from Baby Bjorn.

babybjorn balance soft bouncer review

This review is long overdue; I’ve been using the Soft Bouncer since Angelica was about three weeks old. It is as useful now, at six months, as it was then – a completely adaptable bouncer that’s brilliant in its simplicity and provides a comfortable, safe place to put your baby down when you need the use of your arms. (Which tends to be quite a lot.)

The BabyBjorn Balance Soft Bouncer is sort of an updated version of those classic bouncers that they had in the seventies and eighties – the bouncer that many of my own baby pictures were taken in – that has a fabric seat that moulds to the baby’s body and supports head and neck. With the Balance Bouncer the baby’s weight is evenly distributed so that even the smallest baby is properly held – no little heads lolling forward or necks dropping into awkward angles. Which is incredibly important in the first few months especially – I was quite paranoid about head support but felt confident that the Balance Bouncer was more than adequate in that department.

babybjorn balance soft bouncer review

For the first few months, the bouncing action was gentle at best – the bounce is completely baby-supplied, so the more they move, the more the bouncer bounces. Now that Angelica can really kick with quite some force, we have to actually limit the time in the bouncer because she gets too excited! But I still love that she is properly supported, even if she is trying to sit up and bounce her way free… No batteries required, just baby-power: or you can rest your toes on the very bottom of the bouncer and flex them, which provides just enough motion to lull your baby to sleep.

babybjorn balance soft bouncer review

I really like the simple, stylish design – very pleasing, especially if you like clean lines and unfussy fabrics. True, there are no inbuilt “tunes” or vibrating seats or dangling plastic lions with the Balance Soft, but this bouncer just does what it says on the tin – bounces. It has been the default place to put the baby down when I’ve been upstairs in the lounge (which has been a lot of the time) – and when I’ve been off visiting people, it has been the chair that I’ve taken with me. It unclasps so that the frame lies completely flat, meaning that it takes up barely any car space at all – and in terms of storage at home, it’s a dream. You can pop it behind the sofa, under the bed, in that space between the fridge and the wall…

babybjorn balance soft bouncer

The BabyBjorn isn’t the most inexpensive bouncer on the market by any means, but in terms of value-for-money it’s superb. Impeccably designed, and probably one of the few that will actually last from birth until when the baby has started to toddle about. (In fact it’s suitable up until about two years because the seat fabric is reversible, turning the bouncer into a rocking seat for those who have started to walk. Tried it with my two-year-old niece over Christmas and she didn’t want to get out of it. Though I suspect she was a little bit over the weight limit.) The fabric is easy to remove and wash and even with an accidental 60º spin-cycle (oops) it hasn’t shrunk or become misshapen. I’m properly impressed.

The BabyBjorn Bouncer “Balance Soft” comes in loads of colours and has an RRP of £119 but on Amazon it starts at £99.80 for the silver/white colourway. Take a look here.

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ruth crilly

A very Happy New Year to you all. I’m kicking off 2016 with my first bit of video content for The Uphill: My Top Breastfeeding Essentials. I hope that you enjoy this and that it provides another little “dimension” to the blog – I’m aiming to try and make one video a month that’s just focused on Mum and baby stuff, so do let me know what you’d like to see in the next video and I shall do my best to accommodate!

You may remember that I did a written post on my breastfeeding essentials a few months ago – if you want to read that then please click here.

Brilliant breastfeeding book – The Food of Love: http://goo.gl/ZxBXXh. It’s a bit “right on” in places, but I found it really useful.

Advice on breastfeeding: http://kellymom.com

and: https://www.laleche.org.uk

My Breastfeeding Essentials:

Thrupenny Bits Feeding Pillow – I have large (£45) but small/portable (£33) is good if you are smaller or when the baby is bigger and you don’t need to raise him/her up as much! http://goo.gl/WbQq8y

BKR Water Bottle: http://goo.gl/KZobI5

Re-Usable Breast Pads: http://goo.gl/pf3VmK

Lansinoh Cream: http://goo.gl/EFxtjI

Emma-Jane Nursing Bras (I wear a 34): http://goo.gl/075mDM

Kindle Paperwhite: http://amzn.to/1NBHi8g

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