Author: Agnes

 

How to feel like yourself after having a baby? Postpartum hardships

Whenever you go out with your baby for a walk, you pass by coffee shops, pubs and restaurants; you look at the people inside -couples having lunch and friends having a laugh. You go to the park and look at young group of people sitting on a grass, having a picnic and sipping wine from plastic cups.

They all look so happy, carefree, just enjoying the moment.

And then you experience this weird feeling- flashback of your own memories with a mix of sadness and maybe even jealousy. You’re guessing you’ll never going to feel like they do, like you used to feel yourself before you had your baby.

You think of all the boring staff you have to do when you get back home- cook dinner, feed your baby, do the laundry and clean the house. By the end of the day you start to feel overwhelmed, tired of your routine, sick of the fact that tomorrow you have to wake up and be the prefect housewife and mother all over again.

Sounds familiar?

Some call it baby blues, I like to call it postpartum hardships. And it doesn’t have to last only for a couple of weeks, it can actually lasts for months.

Postpartum period is a definitely a vast and complicated topic to discuss. Everyone says having kids changes your life but they don’t really warn you how difficult it is to get used to this new lifestyle or how to cope with it.

You’re asking yourself: how long it’s going to take before I start to feel like the ‘old’ me? Am I ever gonna feel like the old me?

That’s why it is not uncommon to fall into postpartum depression if you don’t find answers to these questions.

In this post I’ll try to give you some perspective on how to feel like yourself after having a baby.

Be kind to yourself

May sounds like a cliche but it’s real. You have to realize your body went through massive changes while you were pregnant and did something miraculous: gave birth to a tiny human! And now you have to do something even more heroic- look after that tiny human, keep him safe and healthy (ultimately alive).

I mean, we did not even have a break after bringing a child into this world (and that was a hard, almost 40 hour job for me!).

So give yourself some slack and be kind to yourself, lower your expectations- you can’t clean and cook as much, you won’t look like a top model until you get some more sleep, you may not be willing to have sex right now because you’re simply tired. And it’s all okay, it’s all normal so don’t push yourself to do anything you don’t feel like.

Accept the new you

You’re looking on Instagram or a glossy magazine and see women (probably personal trainers for a living) with a perfect body few weeks after giving birth. And you feel jealous, maybe bad about the way you look.

Yes, you can lose weight after pregnancy but you need to be aware that all women are different and some changes are irreversible. The wider hips are here to stay and the skin on your belly might stay wobbly.

Your old self went to the Neverland! So look in the mirror, smile to your reflection and accept what you see. It’s a new version of you and it’s beautiful!

Your personality is also in process of transformation- from a carefree spirit you’re becoming a responsible, worried mother.

Embrace this change and see it as a new chapter in your life.

Buy something new

There’s nothing to improve your mood like small shopping, am I right? Although obviously, it’s not a long-term solution, you can lift your spirits when buying something nice that fits your new figure.

Even if you’re going for a walk to the nearby park, instead of wearing the old pair of joggers, wear those new jeans !

For me, it was buying a new perfume that did the trick as I have a kind of incentive to take a shower, get dressed and smell nice, do you know what I mean?

No matter how ridiculous it sounds, buy whatever makes you want to get up in the morning, from jewelry to sexy lingerie.

Go out (by yourself)

What I mean by yourself is without your baby:) Going to a pub with your friends will help you to feel like yourself again; you will forget about your problems for a moment and listen to others! Just make sure you talk about anything else but your baby routine.

If it’s your first time leaving your little one with daddy, you might be worried and end up texting every 20 min to check up on them- it’s normal and understandable (maybe not so much for daddy).

Even if your mind is partially somewhere else, going out once in a while will only bring you benefits- you’ll come back home more relaxed, missing your family, feeling especially grateful there’s a tiny person waiting for you (plus your partner will appreciate you more, guaranteed!)

In fact, going out anywhere by yourself will benefit you, even if it means only going for a short walk or to a grocery shop. Having to spend all day long with a screaming baby takes a toll on our mental health so try to get some time for yourself at least every second day.

Pamper yourself

That means little ‘me’ time- just because you became a mother doesn’t mean you stopped being a woman. Book yourself a hairdresser or a beautician, get your nails done- whatever you’ve been doing before you gave birth. You probably won’t have time to do it as often as before but at least try to pamper yourself like that once a month.

If you want to save money, you can arrange your own ‘home spa’- take a warm bath with candles (just don’t fall asleep!), put your face mask on and voila:)

Of course, choose the time when your baby’s already asleep. Or even better, tell your partner to take the baby out to a playground so you can have some peace and quiet.

Get a childcare

It’s often out of a question, but if you can afford and want a nanny, do it. If someone else can help you during the day, let’s say your mother or a friend, even better.

You can get some sleep when she’s taking your baby for a walk, eat lunch in peace or read a book. Whatever gives you some extra energy. As somebody said, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Don’t forget about your partner

As you’ve probably noticed, having a baby also changes your married/couple life. You need to make sure your partner knows what you’re going through and ask for his support.

We put our babies first but don’t forget to spend some time with your man as well. If you can get a nanny, choose one evening per week (or realistically speaking: one per month) to go out for dinner, just the two of you. It would give you the desired time off and improve your relationship. And it would definitely make you feel like yourself again; preparing for a date and being on one is a whole process of flowing endorphins and other happy hormones!

Find a playgroup or sign up for a class

Since your life has changed you will have to change your environment too! If your friends don’t have babies yet, the best way for you to find new friends is to attend local play sessions or sign up for, let’s say, activity class for mums and babies. Over there you’re going to meet like-minded women who know exactly what you’re feeling and they can give you the mental support you need.

These things helped me tremendously to feel like myself again. It took me some time to understand that, since I have a new body and a new mind, I will never really feel like my ‘old’ self; that person is gone and I needed to redefine the person I became: a strong, confident woman with a heart bigger than ever before.

Acceptance of the new life I’ve been given followed with a great appreciation.

So guys, remember, being a mother is a beautiful journey and it’s only just began. Of course, it is hard at the beginning but trust me when I say: it gets easier with time. With every month s/he grows and every milestone your baby reaches, you can be proud and say: I’m so lucky, I’m so blessed. And we all truly are.

Are you still in a transition period or you’re already beginning to feel like yourself again? What are your tricks that helped you out in the proccess? Let us know in comments:)

Take care of yourself mamas!

xoxo

A.

Are you ready for this? Travelling with a baby- essentials

Do you remember the times when you were traveling on your own, and the only thing stressful for you was the fact you might have forgotten to put your mascara in the transparent bag with other liquid products?

Well, you’ll have to embrace a new meaning of ‘stressful’ as you’re about to travel with your little one for the first time. Don’t panic, it doesn’t have to be so dramatic as you’ve probably heard from other parents. It will definitely be more challenging but if you organize yourself and plan everything ahead you will have everything under control.

When it comes to your little one’s safety and the right time to travel, there are different opinions out there; many airlines allow you to travel with your infant when he’s only 2 weeks old but doctors say it’s safer to wait until your baby’s immune system gets stronger so at least until he reaches 3 months old (especially if you’re traveling by plane). At the end of the day it’s up to you; I personally waited until my baby girl was almost 4 months old.

Here are few things you should remember and essentials you should not forget once you decide to travel with a mini version of you.

1. Read the reviews of a hotel/ apartment you want to book

Whether it’s a hotel or an Air B&B apartment, it’s important to find out about real conditions of the place you’re about to book. Beautiful pictures with seemingly perfect description won’t help if others say there’s a mould on the walls.

Most importantly, make sure it’s a baby-friendly place: if they offer a travel cot and a baby bath, if there’s a place to heat up your little one’s food any time you want and if there’s a playroom or a playground.

Also, make sure there’s a short walking distance to the shops, beaches or lake (depending where you’re spending your holidays) – you don’t want to end up taking a bus everywhere you go or walk for over 20 minutes with a screaming child just to use a hotel room toilet.

2. Book the right airplane seats

If you’re traveling by plane, it’s important to know which seats are the best for your needs.

Whether you’re planning to hold your baby on your lap or you’re putting him in a car seat, it’s always good to have an extra seat for an extra space (it’s a life-saver when having all those baby staff around!). Plus, you won’t have to worry about feeling uncomfortable every time you have to stand up and excuse the person sitting next to you just so you could walk around or use the toilet to change your baby.

Some airlines will be happy to kind of block the middle seat for you and your baby (usually on long-haul flights and only if the plane is not full), however, from my experience on short-haul, budget flights, there’s no option like that and you need to buy a separate ticket if you want that extra ‘luxury’. Either way there’s usually a small charge when your baby stays on your lap (at least, that’s the rule with Ryanair, Wizzair and Easyjet); this charge, on certain occasions, might actually be higher than buying an extra ticket itself! So just make sure to contact customer service for support if that happens.

If you have a smaller baby that still doesn’t sit properly, it’s best to take an aisle seat as you may have to stand up a lot to calm your little one down. If she’s bigger and already paying attention to things, the best seat will be by the window as you can distract her with what’s going on outside.

3. Choose the flight that aligns with your babies’ nap time

This is a rule I wish I had thought through when I was traveling with my daughter for the first time!

Never take an infant on a plane in his ‘waking’ hours- you will regret it. Even if the afternoon flight is cheaper than the early morning one, it’s not worth to save those £20 and have a 2 or 3 hour horrific flight of screaming and crying. Usually the best time to travel with your little one is early morning (or whenever your baby would normally be sleeping). If you do that, you can pretend you have the most well-behaved and quiet baby other passengers have ever seen! Other parents will give you the jealous look and you won’t be one of those miserable mothers who’s desperately trying to calm down her child ( while everyone else wishes she was on a different flight!).

4. Make sure you’ve got a travel insurance

This is for obvious reason and it’s a must when you’re traveling with a baby. Also, find out where’s the nearest hospital/ ER at your holiday destination. Hopefully you’ll never have to visit that place but it’s always good to know everything in advance, just in case.

If you’re traveling in Europe (and you’re an EU member yourself), it’s very handy to have an EHIC card- it gives you right to the same health care as citizens of the country you’re visiting. So, if you unexpectedly get sick (or your baby), you will be covered.

5. Don’t travel alone

I know it’s not always an option but it’s not much fun traveling with a little baby on your own, especially if it’s your first time. If you have someone by your side you can divide that stress in two! But if not, don’t be afraid to ask for help, people are generally very kind and helpful.

Also, use the benefits of traveling with kids whenever it’s possible- priority boarding, faster security check lanes and family line at customs- always ask someone if you’re in doubt.

6. Pack as light as possible

I know it’s hard thing to do, being a woman and having an extra little person to worry about (when you still have so many things to pack for yourself) but if you’re only going away for a couple of days/ weeks, there’s really not much you will need.

For yourself take only 2 pair of jeans, 1/2 pair of shoes, couple of T-shirts (you can forget about fancy dresses at this point). Pack as little baby gear as possible- babies don’t need as much as we actually think.

Here’s the list of essentials of what you’ll need for your little one :

a) for the baby changing/ carry-on bag (choose one that has separate space for bottles, nappies and a changing mat, I bought this super practical one on Amazon).

  • some wipes and nappies
  • changing mat
  • some extra clothes (in case of small ‘surprises’ )
  • dummies+ clippers
  • toys/ books (take only those which your child really likes)
  • a blanket (useful to cover when your baby falls asleep)
  • snacks + baby water bottle
  • trash bag (for dirty diapers)
  • a lightweight stroller- BabyZen Yoyo is really great for traveling, I borrowed it from a friend on one of my travels and I can’t recommend it enough. It’s so small and compact when folded that fits into overhead compartment on board. It’s also very light and can adapt to many car seats (such as Maxi Cosi Pebble Plus– you’ll need adapters though). If your baby is already bigger and you’re spending a short vacation in a city, you can just take an umbrella stroller (it’s much cheaper but obviously doesn’t have so many features as BabyZen Yoyo does). I normally take my everyday Bugaboo Bee 5 which is a bit bigger than Babyzen Yoyo but it’s still lightweight and compact enough not to give you any headaches (take a look at my full review here). Either way, you can take any pram all the way to the plane and get it back once you land.

  • the right car seat- necessary whether you’re taking a plane, car or train. Make sure it’s compatible with your stroller (if you have a younger baby) but also it should fit the seat of a plane, if that’s how you’re traveling. If you’re not taking the car seat on board, you don’t have to worry about the measurements but if you do, always check what are the requirements of the airline you’re flying with. If you have a chance to rent a car with a baby car seat, that’s the best option- you won’t have to drag you own car seat with you all the way from home.

  • a baby carrier- great for walks and whenever you need to have your hands free (or simply don’t want to bother with a stroller). I’ve used ErgoBaby 360 for most of my trips (you can read my full review of the product here). However, when my daughter grew up a bit (she was about 11 months old) I started to use a hip baby carrier as I’ve found it more comfortable and easier to use for quick shopping or whenever she refused to stay in her stroller. It’s also great if your toddler is walking already and you don’t need to carry him all the time.

b) for the suitcase:

  • clothes- pack only practical clothes such as leggings, long/short sleeved bodysuits, all-in-ones, jumpers, hat etc. (try to avoid skirts or dungarees)
  • muslin squares
  • some diapers and baby wipes for the first couple of days (you can buy the rest at your destination)
  • 2 or 3 baby bottles and an insulated bottle bag – to keep the milk warm for couple of hours
  • medicine such as Ibuprofen (might be useful in case of any unwanted fevers/colds) and other supplies such as thermometer, nasal aspirator, diaper cream etc.
  • manual breast pump -for nights out
  • baby sunscreen if you’re heading to a sunny place
  • small inflatable pool (again if you’re going to a hot place)- splashing water was my baby girls’ favourite activity on the beach

  • a stroller rain cover (you can’t predict the weather!)
  • pop up beach tent– a must have if you’re planning to spend your holiday at the seaside, lake or anywhere outdoors where you and your child will be exposed to the sunlight. It gives a shade from the sun, protection from UV rays and the wind. And it’s perfect for the nap time- for the both of you! (If you’re already tight on space, you can always ask at the hotel or apartment you chose if they have anything like that to borrow; in some places these tents are available for renting with other beach equipment).

7. Prepare some entertainment for the travel

So, apart from the toys and books, you should charge your phone or a tablet beforehand. Even if you’re not a fan of playing cartoons for your little one, it might be a game changer, especially if you have a very impatient baby (like I do!). Cartoons and songs on YouTube should occupy your child for some reasonable amount of time. If she’s still too little to watch, then you just have to be more creative- even squeezing an empty candy bar can catch her attention for a while.

If you’re traveling by car, it’s best you make enough stops (it’s recommended to take breaks roughly every 3 hours) so your little one’s spine could get some ‘rest’ from sitting in one position for too long.

I’d also suggest downloading any app with a white noise on your phone, especially if you have a younger baby. Sounds like rain, wind or even a tumbling dryer may help your little one to fall asleep in a new place.

8. Breastfeed if you’re able to

For take off and landing it is the best thing you can do as it helps your baby to feel less uncomfortable when the pressure in the cabin changes. In my case, boobs saved my butt on countless occasions, not only on the plane. It’s way more convenient than feeding from the bottle, you can do it anywhere you like and there’s less equipment to carry. Only bonuses!

9. Be prepared for different kind of food abroad

If your baby is already on solids and she’s a fussy eater (like my daughter), make sure you take some food she likes with you. Chances are you won’t find the same brand or type of food wherever you’re heading and that’s a great recipe for the unwanted drama.

However, if you’re traveling around the same continent you live in, you should be able to get anything your little one eats regularly. You can always do your online research, otherwise you can end up with 10 jars of food you could have got in the local store next to your hotel.

10. Be on time

Remember the rule, be on the airport 3 hours before the departure? Remember when you were never actually there so early?

Well, now you have to be or you won’t make it on time! You need to have time for the check- in, the security gates (and they will stop you to check the baby changing bag- that’s a minimum another 15 min of waiting) plus feeding, changing and all the fun staff. So just don’t add up to the stress you’ll be going through. Don’ be late.

And…I believe that’s it. There always has to be a first time to anything so follow my advice, don’t stress out too much and you’ll be just fine!

Can you think of any other travel essentials that we could add to my list?

Let me know in the comments!

Take care and enjoy your holiday:)

xoxo

 

Best ways to lose weight after pregnancy. How to get back in shape?

This is often the first concern of a mum-to-be: am I ever going to look fit again?

After over 9 months of growing a baby, you want to get your body back (I’m with you sister). Although some lucky women lose their belly and most of the ‘baby fat’ fairly quickly during the postpartum period, majority of fresh mums struggle to lose those rest extra kilos they gained during pregnancy. And unfortunately, once the baby arrives, you don’t even have time (or strength) to think of exercising or taking on a new diet.

Please be aware that you are NOT allowed to be on a diet or doing any overtiring sports/exercises for the first 6 weeks after delivery. This is the time your body starts to ‘heal’ and recover after the huge changes that happened to you so it’s super important to keep it easy.

In this post I will give you some tips on my best ways of losing weight after pregnancy.

 

1. Breastfeed on demand

There’s a reason breastfeeding mothers should eat extra 500kcl daily than the average woman.

By breastfeeding your body burns loads of calories which in turn helps you to lose weight. In fact, the more often you breastfeed your baby the faster your will lose those unwanted pounds. And let’s not forget about the glorious benefits for your baby! So you have a win-win.

2. Choose foods rich in fiber and protein

Consuming foods with fiber helps with weight loss while adding proteins improves metabolism and decreases appetite by making you feel full for longer. Here you can find a list of particular foods you should be eating (basically the same rule applies here as when you were pregnant).

3. Keep only healthy snacks at home

That would include things like fruits, veggies, nuts. Throw away all the sweets and unhealthy food so they don’t tempt you. Stock up on healthy snacks and within couple of weeks you should forget about all the junk food you’ve been craving before.

4. Avoid sugar and processed foods

Sugar is not only bad for your teeth, skin and overall health but also contains lots of calories and has no nutritional value. Processed foods are also high in sugar, fats, calories and salt- all of which will only make you look fatter!

Choose whole foods instead such as vegetables, legumes, fruits, meats, fish, eggs, nuts and yogurt.

5. Ditch alcohol

Having a glass of wine comes with certain health benefits (for your liver and digestion process). But when it comes to getting slimmer it’s unfortunately a non-beneficial matter- it’s high in calories and has no nutritional value.

However, if you’re breastfeeding you can’t really drink anyway so it shouldn’t be such a big deal for you.

6. Start moving

You don’t need to exercise per se to get rid of the ‘baby fat’. You can start from taking walks every day. Only 30 min of steady walk can make your body burn up to 200kcal!

Once you start moving you can easily go for weight lifting,  exercising with your baby and running.

If you’ve been active before the baby or you’re up for a challenge, you may want to buy a jogging stroller.

Unlike traditional strollers, joggers have three large wheels made to slide through surfaces (without the bigger effort of pushing) and a suspension system which reduces the feeling of a bumpy ride for your baby.

7. Drink lots of water

At least 2 litres a day is a must! If you’re breastfeeding staying hydrated is even more important for your health and for the uninterrupted milk production.

Drinking water will make you feel less hungry, improve your metabolism and reduce calories intake.

8. Try to get enough sleep

With a strong emphasis on the word try! We all know how challenging it becomes to get those recommended 7-8 hours sleep after you have a child. But if you can involve your partner/ nanny/ grandma to do some night shifts for you (or maybe at least give you some time off during the day so you could take a proper nap) it will be very beneficial for your weight. There are studies out there showing connection between sleep deprivation and weight gain.

9. Exercise in a group

It’s always easier to motivate yourself for exercising or doing any kind of sport if you have at least one buddy to work out with. You may not have time/money for a gym or a personal trainer but what you could easily do is find an online course on YouTube or buy a DVD specifically designed to train different parts of your body.

You will most likely get quicker results if you work out in a group rather than if you did it by yourself.

There are also many free online videos on YouTube where they show you how you can involve your little one for your exercise routine, It will actually be fun for you both!

10. Be realistic

Loosing weight after pregnancy may take some time so don’t get fooled by reading glossy magazines where celebrities show off their postnatal body.

With a proper diet and exercise you should be able to get your body back into shape. But you need to set yourself a realistic goal and work towards it. Some parts of your body will stay different than before you got pregnant (such as wider hips or a bit flabby belly). But the most important thing is that you return to a healthy weight level.

Do you have any other magic tricks that can help us lose weight?

Let me know in comments!

Good luck mamas.

xxx

What to put in your hospital bag for labour? Must-have checklist

When it comes to packing your hospital bag you may think you don’t need any tips, it seems so obvious, doesn’t it? You just need some ugly underwear, PJ and maternity pads for yourself all the baby staff for your newborn. But you would be surprised how long that list will get once you start writing it all down. In fact, you will probably decide you need 2 separate bags.

That’s why it’s handy to have a checklist before you pack all the essentials since pregnancy can make you so absent- minded and forgetful (I actually almost forgot to pack pampers).

To make it easy for you I prepared a list of things you should put in your hospital bag for labour.

When shall I start packing?

It’s always good to be prepared just in case your baby decides to arrive earlier. Once you reach 36 weeks of your pregnancy, that’s when you should have your bag ready. (However if it’s your first pregnancy and you didn’t have any complications it’s most likely you won’t need it for at least next couple of weeks).

Your ‘labour’ bag

THINGS you will need before the delivery include:

1) Your maternity notes including your birth plan. It should be like the Holy Bible for you.

2) A nightdress or a longer T-shirt for labour. Don’t bring anything new or expensive as it will get dirty and you’ll most likely want to throw it away afterwards.

3) Dressing gown and slippers. These will be great if you have to walk around the hospital in early labor. It won’t be much of a catwalk out there as you probably expect… I mean how can you look fabulous and graceful with a massive watermelon ready to pop out any time?! That’s why it’s best to take a lightweight, darker dressing gown as the hospitals can be warm and the dark colour will cover any stains (plus black makes you look slimmer! just kidding). Slippers should be easy to slip on and off, also flip-flops will do (you don’t want to be bending right after delivery).

4) Socks. Fun fact: your feet might actually get cold during labour! Although I had a friend who got pedicure right before her due date just to look at them during the pushing stage, swearing it made her feel a bit more confident (isn’t that crazy?).

5) Hair bands. You will sweat during delivery a LOT and the last thing you need is your wet hair on your wet face blurring your vision.

6) Lip balm. Very useful little thing, especially if you decide to use gas &air;.

7) Pillow. Don’t count on the hospital pillows, they’re quite frankly rubbish. If you want to feel a bit more comfortable, bring your own favourite pillow. Also, it’s a really good idea to take some nice essential oil, such as lavender oil- and put few drops on your pillow; it gives you that calming effect you are yearning for.

8) Massage oil/ lotion. That’s a must-have I’m telling you! I can’t thank my partner enough for massaging my back during these worse contractions, it really helped me to reduce the pain. Again, if you have an essential oil, such as almond or coconut oil, it will only improve the whole process.

9) Snacks and drinks. I guess there’s no need to comment on the fact how horrible the hospital food is.

10) Book, magazine/ tablet, music device. Bring anything that will distract you from hours of waiting… And don’t forget the charger to any electronic device.

12) Birthing ball. Only necessary if your hospital doesn’t provide one so make sure you ask first. If they don’t have a birthing ball it’s worth to buy one for yourself as it can speed up the arrival of your baby. Don’t forget to bring a pump.

What will I need after the birth?

  • Maternity pads. Bring at least two packs-even though at the hospital they should give you a couple of them right after the delivery, the nurses will be reluctant to give you extra ones on the postnatal ward ( I ran out of my maternity pads and had to literally steal few more from the hall when nobody was looking!).
  • Maternity bra & nursing pads– you’ll need them even if you won’t be breastfeeding as your breasts will still naturally produce milk after you give birth
  • Pyjamas. Make sure it’s 2-piece and has a front-opening shirt- it’s super handy for you while breastfeeding.
  • Nipple cream. You may need in those first days of breastfeeding. It really does wonders.
  • Cosmetics& toiletries. To save space take smaller bottles of unscented (or mildly scented) toiletries so your baby can get used to your natural smell such as shampoo, shower gel, moisturizer etc. The hospital should provide you with a towel but you might want to take your own with you, unless you’re already short on space. Don’t forget about a hairbrush and a foundation (trust me, you won’t look super fresh days after the delivery as you will be on your feet most of the time). These will make you feel better when taking those first pictures of you and your baby and when it’s time to leave the hospital and take your new family member home.
  • Some plastic bags to put your dirty clothes in.
  • Old pants or disposable pants. Bring a cheap pair of pants as they will get messy. If you are having a c-section it’s best to take big cotton (disposable) pants as they won’t affect your wound.
  • Eye mask and earplugs (don’t worry, you’ll still manage to hear your crying newborn, I can guarantee you that!). They will help you to sleep especially when you want to rest during the day (and it will be bright and noisy on the ward).
  • Clothes to change. When it’s time to go home you’ll want to have some comfy, loose clothes with you (it may take some time for your belly to down).
  • A notebook & a pen. So you could write down any questions you may have and anything important your doctor and the midwives will tell you. It’s also useful to bring a bigger envelope or a folder for all the information and documents you will be given (about breastfeeding, postnatal recovery, your baby’s registration process etc).

 

Your baby’s bag

  • Pampers. The most obvious item and yet you still have to get used to having them around on a daily basis( yes, I’m trying to make excuses for myself for almost forgetting to pack them!).
  • Cotton wool. They are recommended with a warm water to clean your newborn’s sensitive skin over the wipes (at least for the first few weeks). But if you decide to use wipes make sure they’re alcohol and fragrance free. You may want to check out the water wipes.
  • Baby clothes for the hospital stay and ‘going home’ outfit. A couple of bodysuits will be the best, most comfortable choice for you and your baby. When leaving the hospital consider the weather conditions and dress accordingly; don’t forget a hat for your newborn, even when it’s warm outside.
  • A blanket. Essential for the ride home and inside of the hospital for swaddling. You may want to bring a special swaddle wrap.
  • Muslin squares. Must-have for winding and cleaning up your baby.

And there’s a third bag to pack for your partner…

But you know what? Let him worry about that, you have enough on your plate already!

Hope you don’t feel dizzy from all the things I listed above but remember, you have time to prepare yourself and pack so don’t stress out. Just don’t leave anything for the last minute and you can sleep safe and sound.

Hold tight mamas!

xoxox

What to do when my toddler won’t wear shoes?

If your child hasn’t made a big drama when you were putting (or rather trying to put) on his first shoes you can consider yourself very lucky. Most mums freak out when their toddler won’t wear shoes (including me) but what they probably don’t realize is that its very common situation. Introducing shoes means your baby can no longer act like a little Tarzan… so imagine how frustrating that must be for him! He’s probably thinking you are trying to take away his freedom and there’s no way he will let this happen!

Your little one will run away, cry, scream or everything at once, and it’s not fun for us at all, especially when in a hurry.

But fear not, I’m gonna give you some helpful tips on how to convince your toddler to start liking what’s on his tiny feet.

1. Pretend you don’t care

It’s really important for your child to associate wearing shoes with something fun and enjoyable. If you show determination or any sign of anxiety about the shoes your little drama queen will make a big fuss about it. Instead of stressing out about him/her refusing to wear them, just don’t make a big deal out of it. I suggest putting the shoes somewhere close to your toddler so that he could explore the new item and then explain to him what these are made for. You could also take your own shoes and demonstrate how to use them (remember about a happy face while you’re doing that!)

Now you can gently slip on one of the baby shoes on top of his foot so he could get the idea but don’t force it for now. Just leave them lying around, even for your little one to play with. Soon he may surprise you by showing the interest in them and even asking you to put them on.

2. Distract your toddler

Other way to make your child wear those shoes is to simply distract him. Show him a video he likes, give him a snack, play peekaboo, give favourite toy- whatever gets his attention. If your partner (grandma or a nanny) is around, use him to put the shoes on while you are playing the clown. Chances are he won’t even notice that you are trying to trick him.

3. Make sure first shoes have soft soles

Kids almost always reject hard soles probably because soft soles are much more comfy and feel like wearing socks. But, unfortunately we can’t get away with using socks all the time, especially in colder months.

Soft sole shoes are apparently easier to wear. They will give your toddler much better flexibility and mimic barefoot movement. So, leave the harder soled shoes for later.

Stride Rite is a great brand to start with. If your toddler loves wearing socks and won’t wear anything else go for the Robeez– this American brand is known for the super-soft soles; however they might be the best choice if your baby just begins to walk and still practices indoors.

4. Choose straps or zips instead of laces

Little shoes with laces might be cute but not so practical as first choice for your baby. You are already struggling with putting any kind of shoes on those tiny feet, so you don’t need a double job by trying to do those annoying, short laces. Plus, they do tend to undo very often, so you’ve got another reason to go for a strap/ buckle or zip finish.

Another thing that actually solved problem with my daughter and her stubbornness was the type of shoes. I bought her really nice ankle shoes (with laces!) because she took her first steps just before autumn started. She refused wearing them for a good couple of weeks, screaming in horror to that point I thought the shop assistant must have chosen the wrong (maybe too small) size for her.

So, I decided to buy one more pair of different type of shoes and see how it goes. I chose Geox sneakers because of the brand well-known Italian quality. Although not fully adequate to the weather, my baby girl loved them! Miracle has happened and I was able to put them without any fuss.

2 or 3 weeks after she got used to those lower ankle sneakers I was able to convince her to put the other pair of ankle shoes I bought for her originally.

5. Choose the right size

This seems like an obvious advice but I assure you it is not. Many parents don’t realize the importance of picking the right size of the first baby walking shoes (the right support for developing feet is super important). So they buy two or three sizes up just to last them for longer. But it’s definitely not worth saving money on your toddles’ well-being: wrong sizing might lead to future orthopedic issues and be ultimately the reason your child refuses to wear the shoes in first place.

Although it’s best to visit a shoe store where somebody experienced will help you to choose the right size, it’s not always possible to go there (maybe you live too far from the shopping mall) and you are left with an online option. It’s still possible to do it at home; you will need a piece of paper, pen, a ruler or a measuring tape.

Put a white A4 paper on the floor and make your baby stand on it in a straight position, preferably by the wall. Now draw a line around the foot, making sure the tiny toes aren’t curled up during the process.

Now measure your piece of foot art from heel to the longest toe (it’s not always the first toe). Your first measurement will probably be around 11-13 cm meaning an EU size between 19-21 or UK between 3-4 (for more accurate measurement have a look at baby’s shoe size chart).

Voila, you’ve got your baby shoe size!

Another important matter is the width. Many babies are chubby (or were simply born with hobbit feet, like my baby girl!) so they will need wider shoes. Clarks offers good-quality selection of shoes with Standard (F) and Wide(G) option.

6. Let your child pick

Let’s face it, your toddler is already acting like a little dictator- but in this situation I’m afraid you have to let him. Otherwise, you’ll be the one suffering; as far as I’m concerned he doesn’t care if he has shoes on or goes barefoot- but surely you do!

That’s why, if your child is big enough to understand or has grown enough to develop his own taste (and apparently it’s quicker than we think), let him decide which shoes he will wear. He doesn’t like dull brown colour and prefers Batman print? Let him have it. She likes the shoes with red Minnie Mouse on? Go for it. Anything to please your baby!

All in all…

Don’t stress out and don’t get frustrated with your baby if you tried all the tips above and he still doesn’t want to wear any shoes. Some kids simply need more time to adjust to this new situation.

If your toddler is beginning to walk during warm spring or summer months- great, you can still let him play outside with bare feet or with socks on. If it happens to be cold autumn or winter months then well…your child will soon find out he has to stay inside of the pram whenever you take him out of the house and eventually understand there’s no running around or having fun on a playground without having the shoes on.

Good luck mamas!

xoxo

Is my little one ready for solids? When and how to start giving baby food

There comes an exciting time in your baby’s (and your) life when she’s ready to try the ‘real’ food. You’ve been probably looking forward to this moment for some time now and waited until the recommended 6th month mark. But then not every child is the same- one develop faster, other slower. So you wonder : is my little one actually ready for solids?

In this post I’ll advise you on when and how to start giving baby food.

1. Signs indicating your baby is ready

There are few things to look out for that will determine if the time is right. Your baby might be ready for solids if she:

a) can hold her head up and sits well. Your baby should be able to be confident in upright and sitting position even if she has to be supported. Many babies start to eat on their parents lap and only progress to the highchair when they can sit up by themselves.

b) has good hand coordination. If she’s looking at the object (not necessarily a piece of food) and able to grab it and then put in her mouth by herself, it’s a green light for you mum.

c) developed curiosity about what other family members are eating. If she’s staring at your dinner and trying to reach for the food (or is pointing at it), it probably means she wants to grab a bite too!

d) is able to swallow. Your baby should be making chewing motions, moving food smoothly to the back of her mouth and swallow. Although choking on the food is not uncommon during first trials (or even later), make sure you know what to do if she doesn’t cope on her own. As your little one learns how to swallow properly, you may notice less dribbling.

e) has gained on enough weight. Most babies are ready to try first foods when they’ve doubled their birth weight. This usually happen around the 6th month. By then many babies will also grow one tooth or more.

2. What foods are good to start with?

Think of healthy food packed with nutritional value such as:

  • cooked or steamed (until soft ) vegetables, for example carrot, potato, sweet potato, butternut squash, broccoli or cauliflower
  • soft fruits: banana, avocado, strawberries, melon/ watermelon, pear (if it’s ripe enough), small pieces of orange or blueberries

When it comes to harder fruits, such as apples it’s always best to grate them and offer it to your baby on the spoon (it reduces the risk of choking).

It’s also a great idea to blend different fruits and vegetables together so your baby could taste different combinations. Or give your little one a couple of different pieces of foods at the same time; this way he’ll have opportunity to explore and eat what he enjoys.

Baby porridge/ rice and other cereal mixed with your baby’s usual milk is another great option for your baby’s first foods. Buy cereal rich in iron, as it’s very important in your child’s development.

Other foods you can give to your baby include:

  • starchy foods such as wholegrain bread, pasta, rice, quinoa, crackers (unsalted)
  • soft cooked lean meat ( turkey, lamb, corn-fed chicken) and certain fish (salmon, cod, mackerel and sardines are good for your baby, however you should limit it to maximum twice a week as they contain minor toxins).
  • hard-boiled eggs (the yolk is the healthiest)
  • dairy products, such as natural yogurt, cheese
  • beans, lentils, peas and corn

3. What texture should my baby’s first foods be?

It’s really up to you how are you planning to offer your baby’s first foods: either blended, mashed or cut into soft ‘finger’ foods. What if your peanut doesn’t have any teeth yet? Not to worry, his hard gums will do the job just right. Try experimenting with different textures and flavours to see what your baby likes.

If you decide to start with purees (like I did), try to move on to mashed or solid foods sooner than later. This will not only help your little one learn how to chew but also speed up his speech development as eating finger foods forces your baby to exercise his jaw muscles.

4. How many times a day shall I serve my baby solids?

When you first start serving your baby solids you should give her just a few spoonfuls or chunks of food once a day. The whole idea really is just to get your baby used to the fact she will now get more than your breast milk or formula.

Remember, until your baby is 12 months the milk she’s having (either from breast or a bottle) will be the main source of nutrition so it’s no point for you to stress out about the amount she’s eating.

As we know, not every baby is the same, some need more some less food than others. But as long as your baby’s weight gain is in healthy rate, you can relax.

What’s more, for many babies the process of weaning means actually experimenting and playing with the food- with my baby girl was exactly like that. She loved to take all kinds of food to her mouth, half of which ended up on the floor or spread around her face and hair. She haven’t really fed properly until she reached about 11 months!

As time goes on, your baby’s appetite will naturally increase; you can start offering three meals a day at about eight or nine months. By the time your baby is 1 year old, she should be having three meals a day ( with some healthy snacks between meals).

5. Which foods shall I avoid?

a) Honey. Your baby should not taste honey until she’ reaches her first birthday. The reason behind is that it can contain bacteria that younger babies digestive system cannot deal with.

b) Whole nuts. They’re a hard no-no until your little one is about 5 years old- for obvious reasons they can lead to choking. However, smooth peanut butter is fine.

c) Certain fish such as baby shark, swordfish, marlin or raw shellfish- they contain high levels of mercury leading to serious sickness and food poisoning.

d) Certain cheeses- some of them can lead to food poisoning because of the unpasteurized milk they’re made of. These include brie, Camembert or soft blue-veined cheese.

e) Tea or coffee- Caffeine will disturb from getting a good night sleep and prevent absorbing iron from your baby’s food

f) Sweet/ fizzy drinks and sweets- As we know, sugar is bad for teeth and overall health (you should not have it too, your baby is watching you!).

6. What ‘gear’ do I need?

There are certain things you have to buy: a high chair, some good bibs, plastic spoons.

You can get either a traditional high chair, which is also the cheapest option or a bit more expensive, but also much more functional high chair like this one here. It has 3 reclining positions so you can start putting your baby in it before he even sits properly. You can also fold it so it won’t stand on your way when not in use, plus it has a very useful basket underneath where you can put toys or other things your baby just randomly plays with during the day. The tray is removable and adjustable so you don’t have to worry about your child growing out of it any time soon.

When it comes to bibs, you would think you don’t need any recommendation, right? After all, you can get them basically in any larger shop. Well, I thought the same and I was using traditional bibs for almost a year until I went to visit my friend who has a baby almost the same age as mine. She got these excellent bibs from Amazon, that have pocket at the bottom. This leak-proof pocket made a difference during our meal times, especially since I started giving my baby girl finger foods. Before most food she didn’t mange to eat landed on the chair and the floor but after I bought those bibs the food leftovers just gathered there and it meant less cleaning for me= yaay! Plus, they’re made of silicone so are easily washable with warm water and they fold nicely so you can put them anywhere you want.

Another essential piece of ‘gear’ (that unfortunately you cannot buy) is smile, encouragement and lots of patience!

Bottom Line

If you’re lucky your baby will love eating and experimenting with all kinds of food, but if you’ve got a fussy eater (just like I do), you’re gonna have to try all kinds of entertainment to make her eat at least few spoons. From puppet show, changing voices, making silly faces to playing a classic ‘spoon airplane’, there are many ways to make eating fun, you just have to find your own path.

Good luck mamas and take it easy!

XXX

Baby and bedtime routine. How to make an energetic baby sleepy?

You know those babies who go to sleep exactly at the some time every night without any fuss, without breastfeeding forever or holding them until they drift away? Yeah I don’t know either (although the rumour has it they actually exist!).

My baby has been full of energy from the day she was born- she was crying the loudest of all the babies that were in a room with us after I gave birth.

I believe each child has been born with a different character and there’s not much you can do to change it but rather shape it. However, when it comes to baby and bedtime routine, apparently each of them can be ‘trained’ to fall asleep on its own. At least that’s what many experts claim in their books. I did try to use few techniques such as ‘cry it out’ method but I just hated it. I couldn’t bare my baby girls’ screams and begging for attention. Maybe I’m too soft for it, maybe I didn’t do it the right way but what I know is that we all have to listen to our instincts and don’t feel the pressure to do anything according to some book. So it’s good to listen to any advice out there but more importantly, listen to your baby.

I prepared a list of what to do to make your energetic baby more sleepy and aware of the coming bedtime.

1. Stick roughly to the same time

Whether it’s 7 or 8 pm stick to that hour (or at least roughly) and let your baby know that it’s time to prepare to go to sleep. Make sure you switch off the TV or don’t use a smartphone in front of your child at least 30 min before he goes to bed as the light from any screen can disturb the healthy sleeping cycle.

2. Make bath a fun time

Warm bath will help your baby to calm down same way it helps us to relax. If your baby is already sitting down on his own it’s a good idea to entertain him in some way (if you want him to stay longer than 5 minutes in there). I tend to go in with my daughter and she loves that but I’m not always in a mood so then I’ve got my bath toys ready. My favourite one is swimming Baby Shark that is activated when it touches the water (and it sings too, not so fun for you anymore); it does the job, your child will be thrilled if he likes Baby Shark song (and which baby doesn’t?).

Oh and don’t forget about brushing the tiny teeth! Don’t use the toothpaste though until your little one learns how to spit. I always try to make the whole process in a not-so-boring way so my little one could associate this routine as a fun activity.

3. Baby spa massage? Yes, please!

Massaging your baby will not only improve his sleep but on the long will also improve weight gain, digestion and blood circulation; it can even ease up teething pain.

Use any organic oil such as coconut oil and gently massage the whole body, including the face (my baby girl loves this part the most!).

It’s always good to sing softly to your baby while doing the massage as a kind of reassurance, especially when your little one is getting used to this experience.

4. Books always welcome

When it comes to reading ‘bedtime stories’, I started pretty early as my daughter was only 3 months old. I used to choose high contrast, black and white books to get her attention but with time we progressed to interactive books such as this one. It teaches your baby first words by pressing buttons and giving different sounds, This way you keep bedtime fun and something your child will look forward to.

5. Choose the right light and ambience in your baby’s room

Many people think blue light is the best option when choosing lamps to their childrens room due to its calming effect. And while it may give you this relaxing sensation or have a good effect on you during the day, it is not the best for sleeping. Same way long exposure to the blue light from tablets or Iphones is harmful, same way blue night lamps will interfere with your little one’s sleep and can keep him awake for longer.

So which colour of the light is the most desirable? According to the scientists, the answer is red. Apparently it will make your baby (and yourself) more tired and won’t keep waking you up in the night, like the blue one would.

What’s more, many parents could swear on the white noise making their babies drift away faster (I was not the lucky one). There are soft toys on the market, such as The Dream Sheep, producing the white noise plus the red light so you get 2 in 1. However, the white noise will usually work on younger babies so make sure you start using it in those early weeks.

6. Keep it cool

When it comes to the bedroom temperature, it’s best to keep it at 18 degrees, which is lower than most people think. If your baby has tendencies to sweat a lot (like mine does), it is also a good idea to cover him with a bamboo muslin blanket, especially during summer. It’s super soft, its properties will help to keep your child’s right body temperature, absorb any sweat and prevent overheating.

7. Don’t forget a comforting toy

As mentioned in one of my posts, comforting toy should be always around your baby and will be a great companion for the bedtime routine. Snuggling should make your little one feel safe and secure.

When things get predictable for your little one he will ‘slide into’ that routine himself. For some babies it may get longer but they will get there as long as you are consistent.

Now you it’s time for you to get some sleep too!

Good luck mamas!:)

When do babies have separation anxiety? Tips for making the process less painful

There comes the moment in your life that you have to return to work or simply want to go out for a couple of hours and leave your baby with a nanny or grandma. In many cases it seems impossible when your little dictator starts to scream in horror, like somebody is actually hurting him.

If you hear this terrible cry every time you leave the house, or even the room, you might be dealing with the separation anxiety.

But don’t worry, it’s a natural and healthy process of your baby’s development. There are few things you can do to lessen the drama time when babies have separation anxiety.

Why it happens

If you were one of the lucky ones with a calm baby that was not scared of anyone, now you probably cannot make a sense of why that little angel changed so much.

But separation anxiety is actually a sign of maturity (no matter how ridiculous it sounds); babies start to realize that they are not independent just yet and have to rely on anyone that cares for them. Being aware of that, they might get frustrated with new situations or with new people. They will get especially upset when they can no longer see you. Feeling unsafe, they will not hesitate to show the world how much it bothers them.

When it happens

Separation anxiety and fear of strangers usually happens between the ages of 6 months and 3 years. But don’t stress out (or at least try not to); it’s a common thing within young children and they will grow out of it.

It will be hard for you once you have to leave your baby in the nursery or with a nanny for longer periods of time. She will cry and, most likely, so will you- it’s distressing for both sides. Just remember that you are not damaging your little one in any way- quite the opposite. You are teaching her how to cope without you as you won’t be there for her forever. She needs to learn how to be more independent (and this lesson will go on until the age of 18 or longer, let’s face it!).

What can you do to stop it

There’s no easy way to stop the separation anxiety but rather make it less painful for the both of you.

To help your baby feel more secure, focus on her feelings and how to deal with them . Your little one will learn that if you leave them nothing bad will happen and it doesn’t mean you are never coming back. If your baby’s old enough, you can try to explain the situation- tell them where you’re going and when you’ll be with them again.

Other things you could do :

  • start to slowly separate yourself from your baby- go for a long walk (by yourself), visit a friend or go to the gym. If you disappear from her sight for an hour or two she will get to see that time spent with her daddy or granny can be as much fun as with mummy
  • talk to them about plans- if your child is older and can already understand things, start speaking about what will you do together after you come back. Keep it positive so that your little one has something to look forward to.
  • leave a comforting toy- this one really worked on my daughter. Introducing a soft toy can make her desperate outbursts easier to handle. Buy a plush toy, such as Bashful Bunny (one of the softest on the market), show your baby how to cuddle it, make sure she plays with it on a daily basis and take it everywhere you go. Once she gets to know that the bunny is her friend and will always be there for her, she should pass all her anxiety and anger onto the toy (there’s a reason they call it a comforter, right?). Tip: buy 2 exactly the same plush toys; in case one of them gets lost you will be covered.

  • attend play sessions or organize play dates – this way your baby will have a chance to be around other children and see how fun it can be. You will still need to be close to her, especially in the beginning but the more often you do it, the better. With time, when it becomes a routine for both of you, she may start leaving her comfort zone and stop paying attention if you’re always next to her (and that’s already a big progress, yaay!).

  • if you’re hiring a nanny, make sure she spends time with you and your baby for a couple of days so your little one can get used to that person.

When to seek professional help

As mentioned before, it is natural for babies and toddlers to be upset and cry when their parents are going away. But the older the babies get, the easier it should be for them to understand that people and things exist even when they’re out of their sight.

Until that happens, it’s crucial their anxiety doesn’t stop them from gaining new experiences such as learning new skills, socializing with other babies (or adults) and enjoying their time at the nursery. And it definitely shouldn’t stop you going back to work.

However, in some cases it may turn out that your disappearance is causing your child a lot of distress. If your baby cries for a long time after you have left and she hasn’t got used to being apart after a few weeks, it is best to talk to your GP or health visitor.

Do you have any other valuable tips on how to deal with separation anxiety? Please share your experience in the comments below. Other mamas will be surely grateful!

xoxo

How to balance breastfeeding and pumping

Whether you are going back to work, you want to go out for longer or your nipples are sore, pumping will be beneficial to you and your baby. However, at times it might be stressful. Looking after and breastfeeding your baby is already challenging (especially in those early weeks) so the idea of squeezing time for expressing can sound impossible. Don’t worry if all of it seems overwhelming; most of the women feel the same way so you are not alone.

To give you some comfort and peace of mind, I prepared a list of tips on how to balance breastfeeding and pumping.

1. Always pump in the mornings

Many midwives and other mums recommend pumping in the morning as your milk supply will be at its highest- you can tell by the feeling of fuller breasts. Since on that time of a day you are well rested (or should be), your body has more energy to produce milk than in the evenings.

2. Make sure you are not stressed out

It’s important to stay relaxed during pumping, otherwise your milk supply will drop. It usually takes a little while for your milk to start flowing. So if you feel like your child is not letting you relax, ask your partner to take over and go to the other room for the ‘expressing session’ (any excuse to get 20 min for yourself is great).

If you find yourself stressed out for any other reason (and there might be thousands of them for a fresh mother) you can simply listen to music or meditate.

3. Pump after breastfeeding your baby

Experts recommend delaying first pumping until about two weeks after birth, or when your milk supply is established.

When you decide its time to use the pump you should nurse your baby first and pump afterwards.

Waiting about 30 minutes after you’re done with breastfeeding can help as well as that’s roughly the amount of time your body needs to start producing ‘new’ milk.

4. Create a schedule but keep breastfeeding on demand

It’s always a good idea to pump according to a schedule however you should not forget to breastfeed on demand, meaning whenever (and wherever) your baby needs to. What you could do, for example, is to nurse your baby from one breast while pumping from the other.

If you want to be economic you could buy these breast shells that collect the milk when your breasts are leaking during feeding and the rest of the day. They also protect sore nipples and help with relieving engorgement.

5. Choose the right pump

Having the right gear is essential if you want your pumping routine to be a success. I strongly suggest going for an electric pump rather than the manual- even though the price of electric ones are much higher. In this case, there’s no reason to save money as using manual pump can make you go mad (unless you are a very patient person). It’s twice as slower and your hands will be sore before you even finish.

Medela swing is so far one of the bests on the market. You can ask other mums around or just read different forums where Medela wins over Avent Phillips or Tommy Tippee. You will also see Medela brand being promoted in many series and movies (especially American) that involve mums and newborns. It’s fairly easy to set up, washes well (both in hands and in the dishwasher), has different levels of suction and its portable if you use the batteries. And yes, you will pay the higher price but you can be sure that, if you will use it frequently, it is worth the investment.

Don’t try to save money and go for a single pump- double will express much more milk in a shorter time (and time IS money, you can probably feel it now more than ever). What is also invaluable when pumping from both breasts is having hands-free pumping/ nursing bra. It will allow you to express the milk with less hassle, without the need of holding the bottles for 15 min (making it a little less boring as you can enjoy your coffee or see what you’ve been missing out on Facebook).

6. Stock up your freezer

Remember the expressed milk you give to your baby should always be fresh and its best to use within 48 hours. According to NHS website, if you keep in on the back of the fridge in the temperature of 4 degrees (or lower), it can stay there for up to 5 days. The excess of milk you are not planning to use should be kept in a freezer in special bags (for maximum of 6 months), just remember to label and date it first. This way in the future you will know which bag you should defrost first.

7. Don’t be too hard on yourself

The amount you express will vary, some women will have it more consistent, some less and it often changes over time.

You should not be upset with yourself if the amount you pump is not what you expected; try not compare yourself with other mums and stay positive.

A tip for mummies who happen to be physically away from their baby: looking at the pictures of your little one often helps to express more milk.

Now sit down, relax and pump some precious milk!

Take care mamas:)

xxx

Best toys for babies development

In those early days with your newborn baby it is hard to imagine finding time between feeding, changing dirty nappies and sleeping for a playing session. Besides, why exactly should you fit this extra slot for games and toys even though your baby’s brain is too tiny to understand anything?

Well, according to psychologists, it is never too early to start engaging your little one in playing and exploring the world. You may think your baby is not even interested in what you show to him, but in reality he’s absorbing much more information than we can expect.

Reaching milestones and gaining necessary skills reflects in a big part from the opportunities that baby receives. That’s why choosing the right toys and activities that match to your little one’s age is so important; it’s up to you as a parent to pick something that will draw his attention.

Are you confused when you enter the shop or browse through online world of toys? Don’t worry, that’s why I’m here for you. I prepared a list of best toys for babies development. I divided them accordingly to the age so you will know what you need once your peanut progresses to the next stage.

Toys for age 0-3 months

Your baby doesn’t do much of a movement yet and she looks so cozy in your arms but it’s important to give her opportunities to wiggle and stretch as much as possible through the day. This way she will develop and strengthen her weak muscles.

It’s a great idea to start tummy time from the first month of baby’s life as earlier you will start the better for the baby. She will most likely not lift her head so soon but could slightly turn the head looking for your face. When she turns 3 months you will notice how much the tummy time has been beneficial for her development; her neck and arms muscles will be strong enough to lift her little head.

My picks for these months are:

Activity mat. Having one of those is a must have for your newborn baby. The clip-on overhead toys might be over-stimulating for your little one until she’s about 2 months old so until then I’d suggest taking them off and placing the mat on top of a rug so your baby is comfortable and safe during tummy time.

Music-playing device. Since baby’s hearing gets developed earlier than other senses, music will catch his attention and stimulate his brain.

The play mat from Fisher Price combines best of these two worlds. It comes with the toys including a mirror (so also great for your baby to stay on her back and stare at her own reflection) plus a little detachable piano that your baby can kick during tummy time and later on use as a toy when she can sit by herself (you may find songs coming from this device quite annoying but at least you will get some well-deserved rest for a minute or two).

• Mobiles. High-contrast black-and-white decorations will be the best pick for your little one. The reason for that is that babies don’t really see colours until they reach about 3 months of age. The black and white graphics will help the early vision development. This mobile from Amazon gives you an option of changing the cards according to age as well as changing the distance of the cord once your baby’s vision improves.

Toys for age 4-6 months

Starting from the age of 4 months babies become especially interested in faces and other circular designs, like spirals. Why? Because their eyesight is developing in a full speed. From about 5 months they also begin to learn cause and effect, so they may be amazed with shaking toys such as rattles and, obviously, put them in their mouth.

My picks for these months are:

• Soft sound-making toys. For example, light soft blocks or balls will be useful for babies that are in the journey of discovering cause and effect. Any sound that the toy will make will be a great entertainment for your baby.

• Teething toys with a rattle. A toy like this will satisfy your baby’s needs and curiosity so you get a package of 2 in 1. Although the teething process doesn’t usually start until 6 months, gum pain may bother your little one earlier. Plus the rattle with a handle will force your peanut to exercise her hand grip while shaking the toy around will strengthen her arm.

Toys for age 7-9 months

After 6 months have passed your baby is probably ready to sit unsupported. If she’s still not doing it independently, you can encourage her to strengthen her abs and spine muscles by showing her how to reach the toys that are lying in front of her. Once your baby is confident enough, she’ll be using her free hands to play with different kind of toys and entertain herself for a short time (hopefully for a long time but who are we kidding).

My picks for these months are:

• Books. Board books and cloth books are safe for little curious hands and they would be really hard to damage. Your baby will love this interactive one as it’s super soft with different textures to explore and it makes noises too! Contrast, black-and- white books are also great as they support eye-development.

Stackable cups. From building a tower to simply putting them inside of each other, they are multi-purpose; with age your child will be discovering new ways to play with them. They don’t only help baby to practice hand-eye coordination, but also can be used to teach him the idea that items still exist even when you can’t see them. To do so just hide smaller objects under the cups (always under your supervision) and then lift up each one of them making it a game of discovery.

• Balls with holes. Or any other easy to hold ball so your baby can keep developing his grasping skills.

Toys for age 10-12 months

By now many most babies will be crawling and starting to pull themselves into a standing position in preparation for cruising. Your little one might also be mastering the act of picking up small objects between the thumb and index finger. At this age, babies memory is working on more advanced level and they’re able to understand simple words. They’re also more tolerant to various stimulation.

My picks for these months are:

• Household items. Exploring at this age will be your baby’s new favourite activity. Many babies seem to enjoy everyday use objects much more than any toy out there. That’s why its good idea to give your little one pots and wooden spoons (so he can bang on them, for example) as well as empty cereal boxes or plastic food containers. You may find out that there’s no need to buy too many toys after all.

• Activity tables. They encourage development of motor skills and hand-eye coordination thanks to the colourful, engaging buttons. They’re also perfect for entertaining a baby who’s just learned or is in a process of learning how to stand since their strong supportive legs will ensure your baby’s safety during playtime. This one is great as you can remove the legs and make it a ‘sit-down’ toy.

• Plush toys. It is common at this time for many babies to grow attached to objects such as plush toys or comforters and want to hang on to them, especially when upset or sleepy. Giving one of them may reduce the separation anxiety that a lot of babies develop after 6-7th month.

*For more information on how to deal with separation anxiety click here.

Toys for 12 months +

Your baby’s biggest achievement around the one-year mark is definitely walking (however some babies won’t be ready to take first steps without help until they reach 15 months). Thanks to the observation, they also start to use some objects in their intended use, for instance they will take a phone pretending to talk( so you get the green light to buy a toy phone).

Older babies, at about 18 months age, will most likely start to show interest in more engaging activities that will take his motor skills to the next level. He may be enjoying kicking the ball around or drawing on a paper with a thick crayon.

My top picks for 12+ months are:

• Push/pull toys. Pulling around an animal on a string or pushing anything with wheels will provide loads of amusement for your walking toddler. This one is a great choice for walking lessons but also for learning first words.

• Cars and trucks. Wheeled vehicles will encourage baby to become more independent by exploring the surroundings by himself.

• Large blocks. Not only building a tower of blocks (and knocking it down right after) is a fun way to play but can be also beneficial to your baby’s brain. Some scientists have found out that young children who play with these toys will be much smarter at maths in the future. Now imagine you are the one who’s raising the next Einstein!

• Baby art supplies. Any toddler will be super entertained by the finger paint—just make sure the drawing tools you buy are non-toxic and big enough for those little hands: Palm-grip crayons, sidewalk chalk and dot markers are the best choice.

  • Wooden cube/ shape sorter. Great for cognitive learning, your little one will learn colours and shapes first and soon she’s going to figure out how to match them with the cube. She may need some help at first so keep encouraging her until she figures it out!

  • Magnetic fishing tableIt’s a great toy for developing hand and eye coordination and it helps with raising your toddlers’ awareness about patience! My daughter was getting quite annoyed when she couldn’t catch the fish at first but with time she mastered it and the toy became one of her favourites.

  • Soft ball pit.  I could not possibly forget to mention this amazing toy. It will give your child hours of fun while helping him to advance his manual abilities such as grasping and throwing. If you don’t have large space at home or you want to spend less money I recommend getting a ball pit that can be folded. (However, it won’t be as sturdy as the first one).

Hope you enjoyed my recommendations. At the end, remember that YOU are the best entertainment for your little one. Toys just give you an extra opportunity to create the bond between you two.

Can you think of any other developmental toys worth mentioning ? Let me know in the comments:)

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