snuzpod review

News: my trusty Snuzpod is going to be a cosy sleeping place for a fourth newborn baby! No, I’m not pregnant again, merely loaning out one of the best baby gadgets that money can buy. Can a crib be called a gadget? I think it can, when it does something above and beyond the normal functions of a crib…

You can read my full Snuzpod review here, but in short, it’s a bedside sleeper for newborn babies that is slim and space-saving in design and has a zip-down side that allows you to easily slide the baby in and out of the crib. No getting out of bed, no leaning over (brilliant when you’re sore in your nether regions or you’ve had a c-section) and no bulky cot taking up all of the space beside your bed. (Hand up who’s had to forgo their bedside table for six or more months? Balancing cups of water on teetering piles of books, keeping their iPhone under the pillow? Cots wedged into anything but the hugest of bedrooms are a serious space-stealer.)

Co-Sleeping and the Snuzpod Review

Anyway, Snuz is going in for baby number four – having done Angelica, then my friend Lauren’s newborn, and then Ted, it’s off to Bath to welcome a baby boy next year. It really is the gift that keeps on giving – thanks Mum! I’d say that four uses makes it pretty good value for money – and it has survived really well, despite the fact it has lived in seven different houses and travelled about 600 miles. Snuzpods are so well made and very easy to clean up if they get a little grubby on the canvas parts. The only part that has been replaced in all of this time is the mattress.

My Top 5 Newborn Essentials

I was actually drafting this post well before the fourth baby situation arose, because I was using the Snuz in the living room in our rented house to get Ted to sleep in the evenings. He went through a really rough patch of not sleeping at all (still not great) and I would take the Snuzpod off the main frame, place the curve-bottomed crib on the floor and rock him with my foot. Usually whilst eating a Magnum. It struck me that the Snuz was a crib of many talents and deserved an extra post. The fact that I was still using it eight months down the line (albeit in an off piste, non-recommended sort of way, because he was a little too large for it by then and could sit up) seemed quite marvellous.

So there you go – I can’t recommend the Snuzpod enough. It comes in quite a few colours and finishes now, all of them beautiful. You can find them online at Amazon here* (free next day delivery for Prime), John Lewis here* and Snuz here. Prices with mattress hover around the £2oo mark.

Update: ER, I’ve just seen that Snuz do a cot for older babies! I shall research and report back. It looks gorgeous!

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tips and tricks for nappy changing

This is the first of three posts that I’m writing in collaboration with Huggies Pure Wipes. A while ago, I started talking with Huggies about some ideas for features about nappy changing and I realised that it wasn’t a topic I had covered before. There are some obvious comedy moments that could have been discussed (anyone else experienced the 3am “wee fountain”?) but apart from those, I always considered baby changing, or nappy changing, to be one of those tasks that we all just got on with. No need to discuss – it’s not like breastfeeding, or sleep issues, where you desperately want to hear other people’s experiences and get reassurance about the way you’re caring for your baby…

But then I started thinking about the actual process of nappy changing and how frequently we do it throughout the day (and night). It’s probably the biggest interaction that we have with our babies other than feeding them, and it’s also quite possibly the most that we touch and examine them, because we undress them and clean them and then often we have to apply cream or change their clothes. And then, when you think about it, it’s a time when they have our absolute undivided attention, because they are there, a captive audience, looking up at us, and I often find that it’s the time I do the silliest faces or chat the stupidest chat or sing the silliest songs.

tips and tricks for nappy changing

So actually, as it turns out, there’s quite a lot to talk about when we turn to the task of nappy changing. Not least things like nappy rash and nappy creams and – one of my favourite conversations with fellow baby-carers – poo explosions. (Severity of, duration of, items of clothing binned, items of furniture ruined, square footage of carpet requiring steam-cleaning, etc.)

In this post I want to talk nappy changing – I’m looking forward to some brilliantly graphic anecdotal material from you all in the comments section! Then in the next Huggies Pure Wipes post, I’ll be talking about my favourite natural skincare products for babies. In the third and final post, some lovely ways that you can interact with your baby while you’re changing them – making the most of the one-on-one time, regardless of how short it might be.

It’s funny to think of this now, but before Angelica was born the thing that was top of my list of “things I don’t feel prepared for” was nappy changing. I had never done it, it seemed like a very complex process (to be fair, I still regularly put nappies on the wrong way around) and because it was a totally alien experience to me, I worried that I would mess it up. Oh the irony – nappy changing was one of the simplest things to conquer. Cracked nipples and having to inject myself with anti-clotting medication, definitely more of a challenge.

Here are the key things I’ve learnt about nappy changing (add your own tips in the comments):

  1. You must always be prepared. Nappies and wipes to hand – take the wipe (at least one) out of the pack before you start. Pull the nappy out and have it open, ready to slide beneath the baby.
  2. Always use protection. (Insert joke here.) You need a changing mat beneath the baby, or at the very least a couple of folded towels. The most preferable scenario is to prepare the whole room with plastic sheeting, like a scene from Dexter (look it up) but short of this, be ready with an extra muslin cloth to catch anything untoward that shoots up into the air/towards your body/down to the floor.
  3. Never change a nappy with a dog around. If you have a dog, you’ll know why.
  4. Embrace the “should I/shouldn’t I?” dilemma, because you will never be rid of it. The “should I/shouldn’t I?” dilemma is what happens when your baby is asleep but has a full nappy. This might sound like a no-brainer to you (of course you should wake them up and change them!) but if you’re running on two hours’ sleep and it has taken you a whole evening to get the baby to drift off, it’s not an easy decision. You’ll deliberate for ages and then make the wrong choice. Get used to it.
  5. Nappies will only overflow when you are a) on a packed train b) at your limits with exhaustion c) in the toilet of a pub that has no baby changing facilities or d) out of clean nappies. That’s the rule.

tips and tricks for nappy changing

And what about the process of nappy changing itself? It seems simple, doesn’t it? Remove dirty nappy, clean the hazardous area without becoming a victim of some sort of foul gunging, apply and secure clean nappy. But after my chat with Huggies, I started to think a lot more about the importance of caring for the baby’s skin during nappy changing – it’s not just about cleaning. When you think about how many times a wipe comes into contact with a baby’s skin throughout the day, it’s actually very significant. We look at what’s in products such as body oils and creams, or baby shampoos and washes, but what about wipes?

I’ve been using Huggies Pure Wipes for three months now – on both baby and toddler – and they’ve been a great addition to my baby changing kit. (FYI, other items in my arsenal (arse-nal, geddit?!): Kit and Kin nappy bags, biodegradable; Weleda Calendula Nappy Cream and the Tommee Tippee Nappy Disposal System, which is perhaps the most useful of all bins ever invented. You stick the used nappy through the hole in the top, twist the handle and it gets sealed into its own section of bag. When you empty the bin you have a succession of nappies, cocooned in plastic – it’s like a giant string of beads!)

tips and tricks for nappy changing

Huggies Pure Wipes are made with 99% water, plus natural absorbent fibres** mean they’re very gentle, soft and kind on delicate baby skin. They don’t contain phenoxyethanol or parabens and are safe to use from day one. (Which is a huge bonus, because the faff I had with newborn Angelica and the “cotton wool and water” method was unreal. “Just use cotton wool and water in one of those plastic top and tail containers!” they said, and I cursed them, all of them, as the water from the cotton wool dribbled down onto the bedlinen and I put my foot into the plastic container and almost broke my neck, sending the dirty nappy flying into the air only to land poo-side-down on the carpet.)

Knowing that you’re using the most kind and gentle products on such a sensitive area feels like a huge baby-caring box ticked: it’s like when I get Angelica to eat a massive bowl of peas, or chopped fruit, and I have a sense of relief that she’s had some sort of food that’s not beige. (Why do they like beige so much and hate green? What did I do wrong? I started her with vegetables way before she had any concept of them being boring, wind-inducing ordeals. And I eat my broccoli in front of her with an almost indecent level of enthusiasm. It’s a mystery.)

tips and tricks for nappy changing

I sometimes feel as though it’s the products we use most frequently in life that we overlook. I know that when I’m writing about beauty, people are far more interested in the face mask than the deodorant, but surely it’s more important to know what’s in your deodorant, something you use every day, rather than an occasional face mask? The body scrub arouses more interest than the shower gel – again, which do you use more? It’s like when we spend money on a “going out” outfit that will only get worn a few times, but refuse to pay more for jeans, which get worn (if you’re me) every day. Toilet paper, jeans, trainers, baby wipes, shower gel – these are the important things in life!

Ha.

In all seriousness, I’ve never had any major nappy rash problems with either Angelica or Ted, even throughout teething. I think that gentle cleansing is important – so Huggies Pure Wipes are perfect, and also the natural body washes and bath products that I’ll talk about in the next post. And making sure that nappies are changed as soon as possible after the deed has been done seems to be a good rule. I’ve always tried to be fastidious about frequent changing and also drying the creases at the tops of the legs as well as the more obvious areas – it’s amazing how deep the creases are in their chubby little limbs! It’s like prospecting for gold, mining on down into those folds.

tips and tricks for nappy changing

Right, comments team: hit me with your worst nappy-changing stories. Mine was the time I had to change Angelica in a pub restaurant that was packed with OAPs, on the carpet on the floor because they didn’t have a baby changing area. (But they did have parking spaces with chargers for electric cars, so, priorities.) Angelica was about a month old and the poo had shot down both legs and up to her neck. I had to dress her in a napkin!

This post contains paid advertorial for Huggies Pure Wipes

**65% pulp

 

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mum guilt parenting

If you’re reading this post thinking that I’m about to reveal five one-off occurrences that made me feel really guilty – sort of like a confessional – then think again. This isn’t a “come clean” session that will absolve me of my past behaviour and allow me to continue Mumming with a clear conscience; these are things that I feel guilty about on an almost constant basis. Repeat offences. Serial guilts.

Although the fact that I keep on doing them must mean that I don’t feel all that guilty…it’s just a perpetual, underlying niggle – things that I know I should (and could) change, but simply don’t have the energy and/or willpower. Here goes – please add your own biggest Mum (or Dad) guilts in the comments section below!

parenting guilts

TV

I always thought that I’d be the sort of parent who would find interesting things for my child to do, every single minute of the day. Bored after lunch? Let’s make collages from fallen leaves! Need something to stay quiet throughout the mid-morning? Let’s sit with a giant farmyard jigsaw puzzle made from recycled hemp! In fact, let’s recycle hemp!

In truth, I use TV as the ultimate parenting crutch. I hate, hate even talking about this, but in the interests of transparency (and at the risk of getting a zillion annoying comments) I feel as though I have to be honest. There’s TV in the morning, because it’s always so bloody early and we’re never properly awake, and those extra few minutes in bed, even if Dora the Explorer is wittering on like an irritating parrot in the background, are completely necessary. Then there’s TV at breakfast (on the iPad), a spot of TV before nap-time (one Peppa, so not too drastic) and at mealtimes and then before bed. None of these sessions are like the epic Netflix sessions we adults do, but they still make me feel bad. I’m going to try and cut out the mealtime ones, if only because I can’t actually handle sitting there with kids’ TV on when I’m eating. Then it’ll just be a few “downtime” sessions.

People who don’t allow any television: HOW DO YOU SURVIVE WITHOUT LOSING YOUR MIND? I mean, a) how do you get stuff done and b), don’t you ever just want a sit down with a cup of tea and five minutes of diminished responsibility, whilst your child is in the capable hands of Great Uncle iPad Screen? How do you keep the energy levels up? How do you keep on thinking of ways to amuse for the whole entire day? It’s a bloody long day! Your secrets, please.

7 month baby update

Pouches

My second source of ongoing guilt is what I like to call the Astronaut Diet. Baby food exclusively delivered via the medium of Pouch. Ella’s Kitchen, Piccolo, Babease, whatever you go for, it’s just the most unbelievably convenient invention since sliced bread. Sliced bread, incidentally, seems to be what I frequently “serve” alongside Le Pouch. To be clear, I’m talking about Ted here, who is 9 months old, not Angelica! She eats proper food. Not that pouch isn’t proper food – this week Ted has tried (and rejected) Lamb Stew, Cottage Pie and Vegetable Risotto as well as various fruit and vegetable purées – but I always thought that I’d be there at the hob, slaving away making delicious recipes and then blending them with a stick blender. HA! That’s happened all of once – it was when Angelica was a baby and she refused it for the whole week. The bits I had frozen in stupid bloody effing ice cube trays periodically came out to be defrosted and immediately (and violently) refused. Ella’s Kitchen Spaghetti Bolognese? Went down a treat.

So really, should pouches be a Mum Guilt? I mean, the ingredients seem good, the products are tasty, there’s no salt or added sugar (at least not in the ones I’ve tried) and it probably means that the baby is getting far more variety than I would cook up myself. Are pouches bad? The guilt – for me – comes from the fact that I’m not personally titting around with a blender and a variety of carefully chopped, slow-cooked vegetables. Every time I spoon goop from a pouch and into the baby’s mouth, a small part of me feels disappointed that I haven’t somehow fulfilled my completely unrealistic domestic goddess role, but then I think about all of the things I’ve done instead of the cooking and everything is OK again.

The fact that a pouch habit is ridiculously expensive should not be overlooked, but I can’t say it’s a factor in my Mum Guilt – I rarely drink wine anymore, and I used to spend a hell of a lot more on that!

iPhone

I have the sort of job that never stops, and so I have a constant stream of emails and notifications that come though at pretty much all hours of the day. I have all email and notification sounds off and don’t even get little red flags or whatever they are, but I still have to check intermittently throughout the day. And do you know what, I also have a cheeky check on ASOS, a quick scroll through Instagram and a cursory glance over the latest properties to arrive on the Rightmove app. (Though that’s stopped now as we have a house!)

Now and then I do have a dramatic little breakdown and bang on about how I don’t want the kids to see me check my iPhone ever, and I put it away in a separate room, but it doesn’t last for long. In reality, there are quite a few moments throughout the day when a speedy email check is completely fine, especially if the telly is on (HA!) but still. I try not to do it. In the ideal world, I’d only check it on formal work days, but as I don’t have any of those at the moment until we get another part-time nanny, I have to make do with dirty little stealth-glances. It’s like having an affair, but with an object. Oh, the guilt, the guilt!

Baby Classes

I’ve been absolutely rubbish at taking Angelica to classes of any kind, and Ted has been to a grand total of zero. To be fair, Ted wouldn’t have a clue what was going on, but Angelica loved Tumble Tots and Hartbeeps. We did go to Tumble Tots every week, I suppose, until we moved, but I always thought (again, the fantasy Mum Goddess!) that I’d have a full timetable of fun activities. Swimming on Mondays, archery on Tuesdays, horseriding on Wednesdays and abseiling on Thursdays, etc etc. On Fridays we would freestyle and go to soft play followed by reading the papers together in a coffee shop.

But it was always the biggest faff getting ready for Tumble Tots – we were nearly always late – and quite often, as we made our way around the wooden apparatus and squishy wipe-clean plastic-covered obstacles (imagine the germs on them – the germs!) I would wonder why on earth we didn’t just set up something in the garden. Because we didn’t interact with anyone anyway! Hardly anyone made eye contact, most people looked as though they wanted to lie down on the mats and stare at the ceiling… I once went to a baby play group on a mammoth scale – it was in a huge sports hall with dozens of kids. A woman sat down next to me, sighed and said “I used to have a personality, once.”

parenting guilts

Hatred of the park

Right, I’m going to go there: does anyone else hate going to the park? It fills me with abject horror! Maybe things will change, but at the moment Angelica just doesn’t use the apparatus in any kind of way I find interesting or fun. Rather than hang like a monkey, she touches the bolts on the poles and says “doorbell!”, rather than slide down the slide, she makes patterns in the sand with her shoes. Now it is all very cute, I’m not saying that, but we could do that stuff somewhere else. Somewhere that didn’t require me to stand about like a complete berk, with rain drizzling down the back of my neck and half a gingerbread man clasped in my hands. Doing nothing. Just staring. It must be a bit like what it feels like to be Mariah Carey’s minder or something; you just have to watch out for danger and make sure that your charge doesn’t self-implode.

In my imagination, trips to the park see us cavorting on the swings with the sunshine beating down on us; we take a break to laugh at how Mummy nearly fell over on the pirate ship gangplank, then we hippity-hop up the tyre embankment pretending to be chased by monsters. In reality, I stand there, standing, wearing my parka as Angelica disappears into little cubby holes that are too small for me to climb into and then I try to follow her and get mud on my jeans.

I’m sure things will change, but as it stands (and I stand, standing, watching, guarding) I find it really dull. And that makes me feel so guilty. Because she bloody loves it and gets so excited! Maybe soft play would be more interesting. Though I’ve never taken her to soft play (husband’s domain, don’t know how I swung that one, must have been having another baby or something) and so that could just be one more thing on the list…

OK, people, hit me with your guilty things! Go, go, go! If you have nothing to add, then make sure you’ve read my 10 Month baby update here. I feel even more guilty now that I’ve confessed to my guilty things – Angelica, if you’re reading this in the future, I just hate the park, not taking you to the park. Ahem.

 

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baby and toddler update

This will be the quickest baby update I’ve ever done because I have no internet and my 4G is – to put it mildly – temperamental. You should see me – I’m huddled over my laptop beneath a window in the kitchen, sitting on an IKEA kid’s chair, swearing every time my iPhone disconnects from the computer.

baby and toddler update

In case you haven’t twigged: we’ve moved into our new house! The permanent one. Literally. I am never moving ever again and if I even so much as hint that I have itchy property feet, I want you all to physically restrain me and delete my Rightmove app. What a total pain in the neck it all is.

But the house is wonderful and has surpassed my wildest dreams and we are happily pottering about trying to sort out rooms and find various important things such as the babies’ medical records and the cable for the telly and the sieve and my socks. (Any socks would do; I’m currently wearing some of those pop socks that they give you in shoe shops!)

Anyway, I’m sure there will be more house updating when I get back into the swing of things, but for now, let’s quickly zoom through the toddler and baby stuff. (Note, I’m probably not going to proof-read this so excuse any spelling mistakes or grammatical errors!)

Toddler

Angelica is chattering away like an old granny, coming out with all sorts of little sentences and exclamations. “Hello Doctor,” she says. “Test your earholes? Test Daddy’s earholes? Then lie down please, lie down.” These innocent words strike fear into me every time – she likes to use whatever implement is near to hand when she’s playing doctors and so I’ve had the wire hook from a coathanger stuck down my ear, a shoe pushed into my mouth as medicine and a used nappy applied to my face as some sort of (I assume) hot compress.

Potty training hasn’t much progressed, although we have managed to cut out the repeated post-bedtime potty journeys, which were climbing both in number and frequency. I think she’d cottoned on to the fact that we didn’t want to prevent her from using the potty when she needed it and so used it as an excuse to prolong bedtime. But two nights of being quite firm about things nipped that in the bud after a tiring, frustrating month of it, and the nappies are dry in the morning so it’s all good there. Funny that when you look back on things it all seems so obvious – why didn’t we nip it in the bud in the first week? – but when you’re in the middle of it all you’re just too tired to see it.

Baby

Talking of nipping things in the bud, or even just “nipping”, or even just nips, I think that today will be the last time I breastfeed Ted. Actually I haven’t even breastfed him, and it’s 9.30pm, so unless I cave in and do a night feed, that’s it! I was doing the odd feed every day, but with absolutely no schedule or pattern and I think that my boobs just didn’t have a clue what was going on. It all came to a head yesterday when I returned from London and felt the need to feed the baby, but when he latched on I could feel that there wasn’t much there. And then at bedtime, I fed him for forty minutes but an hour later, when he woke up crying, my husband fed him 7oz of formula. Which makes me think that he didn’t really get anything out of me at all.

We’ll see – I do love the convenience of a cheeky little night feed and it lulls him back to sleep so quickly and easily. And the comfort of it, and the loveliness of the moment… But bloody hell am I knackered. I thought that I was going to completely lose it last week, when we moved.

Oddities: Ted doesn’t like savoury mush. He likes hard solids, like bread and cheese and tomatoes and cucumber and so on, but he won’t eat baby food on a spoon unless it’s pureed fruit or yoghurt. Slightly worrying as it’s all sweet stuff, so I try to make him have a bit of vegetable risotto or what have you, but he shakes his head and cries until he has the fruit or yoghurt. I’m not particularly worried about the amount that he eats – he has over his recommended milk intake and sits with Angelica at every meal picking at bits from his tray – but I wonder whether his eating habits will give him a sweet tooth. Or whether it’s just a baby thing. Steamed broccoli from tomorrow, if I can get the hang of working the AGA.

(Bloody hell, what a learning curve. I thought I had cooking down, but it seems that cooking on an AGA is a completely new way of cooking. I have to say that for me, the new house having an AGA was a bit of a negative – in the same way that I avoided seeing any houses with a swimming pool, I was instantly slightly put off if it had an AGA. I am not in the game of giving myself extra work to do or making life more complicated! But I may have to eat my words regarding the AGA. Despite it costing more to run than a helicopter (probably) it does have a certain charm. It warms the kitchen and it’s always on, so you can just chuck things into it willy-nilly. Thoughts, AGA-owners or ex-owners?)

Ted is desperate to walk. To the point where he won’t bend his legs if you try to sit him down on the floor or put him in his highchair; he straightens them out and locks them rigid, making it impossible to do anything other than hold him upright and allow him to do his walking practice. Which is great unless you desperately need to answer the door or stop the dog from eating the cat’s sick or whatever. Ted has no interest in crawling, in rolling, even in pulling himself up to hold onto tables or sofas – he just wants to walk. Oh God. And he’s so strong! When he kicks at nappy-changing time you have to seriously try and dodge his legs otherwise you’re covered in bruises the following day.

He has four teeth – two top and two bottom, obviously – and a gap between his top teeth that’s bigger than mine. He has such a good nature, apart from when he’s hungry in the night when he screams the house down, and his favourite thing is to be thrown up and down.

OK, that’s the eighth time that my 4G has disappeared so I’m rounding this up now. Body-wise, no change: still eating a Magnum (almost) every day, still have reasonably large boobs but on the deflate, still exhausted and looking forward to the night where I get more than four hours sleep in a row! Stress levels have been ridiculous – I’m thinking of taking off quite a few weeks over Christmas, just to recharge and refresh. Come back a more relaxed and productive person. Give myself time to recuperate and read and have baths and organise the kitchen cupboards. What do you think?

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