A selection of Isla’s firsts

As Isla is fast approaching her first birthday, here’s a selection of some of Isla’s firsts so far in her first year….

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The struggles of sleep regression 

During the past year, there have been some things that we’ve struggled with. Getting Isla to take a bottle in the first few months was one, as has her eczema which I’ll discuss later. But the biggest and most challenging problem we had was when Isla was 4 months old. I’m talking about sleep regression.

Up until then, Isla was a pretty good sleeper and would go to bed at about 7.30-8pm, wake up at 1am and then 4am for a feed and go back to sleep. But she needed either rocking back to sleep or she’d fall asleep on me, and then I’d have to wait until she was deeply asleep before I could pop her oh so carefully back into her Moses basket.

She started waking up every 90 minutes throughout the night and it was a real struggle to get her back to sleep. I hoped this was just a phase but as the weeks dragged on, I became desperate and exhausted. I needed to do something.

My sanity was saved after discovering two sources online I’d like to share with you. First of all was weebeedreaming. After doing a lot of research, I realised that as she would nap once in the morning and again in the afternoon, a big part of the problem was that Isla wasn’t napping often enough or long enough and wasn’t going to bed early enough, and was therefore getting overtired. She actually needed to be napping every couple of hours and go to bed an hour earlier according to weebeedreaming. The other issue was that Isla had come to associate breastfeeding and cuddles with sleep and wouldn’t sleep any other way. So the key was getting her to nap more and to get her to settle herself without needing boob or cuddles.

But how to get her to settle herself? The advice on sleep training was very vague and short of letting her cry it out, I couldn’t find any clear instructions of how to do it.

Until I found this on a NetMums forum….

This advice, along with following WeeBeeDreaming’s sleep schedule, was the best thing I found. When it was nap time, I made sure she was full and with a clean nappy, and popped her in her Moses basket. For the first few attempts of following these instructions, it took a long  time and a few tears for her to fall asleep, but once she did she slept for nearly 2 hours whereas usually she’d be awake after half an hour, hence why she was so overtired. That night became a bit of a battle, but she gradually improved and within a week, she was waking up just once a night! Ahhhhh blissful sleep!

This advice saved my sanity and now I’m sharing it with you, so if your little ones  have a sleep problem like Isla did, give this advice a bash. It works!


Lady of leisure?! I think not!

When I told a friend of a friend that I was a stay at home mum, he said that I was a “lady of leisure” and it took all of my self restraint not to either laugh hysterically or drop kick his nuts down his throat.
Because as all stay at home mums will attest, there’s NOTHING leisurely about my life.
From the moment Isla wakes up in the morning to when I finally crash into bed, I don’t stop. Even when Isla is napping I’m still trying to keep up with the endless household boring jobs. Here’s a vague rundown of a “quiet” day at home, i.e a day that doesn’t involve nursery, play dates or baby classes:

6-6.30am: Isla wakes up for the day and has a bottle. Sometimes I’ll bring her into bed with me for a few minutes for “cuddles”, which invariably means Isla will attempt to crawl off the bed, climb up my head or roll around with her stuffed pig cuddly toy
7.30am: Time for breakfast, which means I make Isla her Weetabix and toast and attempt to drink a hot cup of tea while she eats her toast.
8am: This is when I’ll get 5 minutes to eat my breakfast while Isla watches Fireman Sam, but no longer as her attention span doesn’t stretch to longer than that.
After that I’ll get her dressed and its playtime then. “Playtime” is basically keeping a wriggly, curious 11 month old entertained so I’ll read to her until she gets bored and tries to eat the book, chase her around the house as she crawls everywhere, stop her from climbing up the coffee table/tv stand/washing machine/oven/kitchen chairs etc etc
10am: Isla goes down for her morning nap, so this is when I’ll shower and dress, then get started on the first round of jobs such as putting in a load of washing, tidying up the breakfast things, hoovering etc etc, and at some point I’ll try to enjoy another cup of tea!
11.30am: Once Isla wakes from her nap, we’ll generally get out of the house for a bit, whether it’s a walk around the village and a trip to the park, or on Tuesdays I’ll take her swimming which she loves
12.30pm: Lunchtime! Generally we do baby led weaning for her lunches, so she’ll have finger foods like fingers of bread, strawberries, Pom bears, carrot sticks, slices of cheese and so on, finished off with a fruit yoghurt (all easily chewable stuff as she only has one and a half teeth). The good thing about her eating a buffet lunch is I can eat mine at the same time
1pm: After lunch it’s more playtime, and Isla tends to have most energy after eating so this is the most chaotic period of the day. This normally ends up with her ball pit tipped upside down, the balls throw all over the floor, me trying to stop her crawling into the downstairs toilet or climb up the radiator and more often than not, pull the Sky box from under the TV unit.
3pm: When Isla goes down for an afternoon nap, this is when I try to finish the washing from earlier and batch cook some food for Isla. I tend to make at least 4 portions at a time and freeze them, so much easier than cooking every day!
4pm: After nap time it’s more chaotic playtime until teatime at around 5pm, and then I start trying to wind her down before her bedtime. Which involves me trying to read to her and do counting, letters and colours, and eventually she gets bored and said books end up in her mouth.
6.30pm: Bedtime routine starts now, which involves a bath every other night, pyjamas and sleeping bag, bottle and a bedtime story before she goes into her cot at around 7pm. And breathe…… 

So that’s a quiet day. Factor in play dates or trips out where we have to be somewhere at a certain time and it becomes more chaotic. Jobs are crammed into the remaining nap time or the evening when she’s gone to bed, and showering is replaced by a quick stand up wash while I try to keep Isla entertained and out of mischief. So yes, lady of leisure? Not so much.

And by the way, yes that is a cheese puff stuck to her head in that photo on the right, she got all excited during lunch last week and started waving her arms in the air, cheese puff in hand, and it flew in the air and got stuck in her hair! I couldn’t stop laughing and luckily she kept still long enough for me to take a photo!


Ella’s Kitchen vs my kitchen


I have a question. Why are the Mumzillas so up in arms about giving babies a pouch or a jar of food?

The reason I ask is, now Isla is 11 months old she’s eating a huge variety of food, both home made and pouched.
I do prefer to feed her my home made food, such as the pictured homemade cauliflower cheese and sweet potato bake which she loves, but if we’re out and about or just a bit short on time, we will give her a pouch of food too. But I’ve received some snidey looks from some mums for giving Isla a pouch. Why?
If you read the ingredients on the back of the pouches, there’s nothing nasty in there, just the same ingredients you’d put into normal home made food. For example the beef stew in the photo has only organic vegetable stock, organic veggies and beef, and some organic herbs, exactly what I’d  put in if I was making a meal for Isla.
Is it because we didn’t use our blood, sweat and tears to make it? Because making things a bit easier for ourselves is frowned upon?
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy making Isla’s food and it’s a nice feeling when she gobbles up my food. But equally I feel just as satisfied when she finishes any meal, as surely for us parents, the fact that our babies are getting fed is the important thing?
As long as we’re feeding our little ones healthy, nutritious food does it really matter where it came from? Whether it came from Ella’s Kitchen or my kitchen?


Bottling it

So far in our baby journey, we’ve come across some minor struggles, such as getting Isla to sleep in her Moses basket when she was first born and Hubs definitely struggled with very explosive poonamis in the early days, but the biggest struggle we had was getting Isla to take a bottle.
We made the decision before she was born that I would breastfeed her, luckily something that we had no problems with and I’ve never regretted (even when she’s had a growth spurt and has fed every hour through the night!), and that we’d give her a bottle of expressed every now and then so Hubs can be more involved and to give me a break.

Easier said than done.

 As mentioned in a previous post, we followed advice in my baby books that said to avoid offering a breastfed baby a bottle until at least 3 weeks of age to avoid “nipple confusion” and up until she was 4 months old, we could count on one hand the amount of bottles Isla had accepted. Hubs managed to get about 2oz into her on one occasion, and both my stepmum and mother in law had a successful attempt each, but that’s it. Isla refused so many bottles I dread to think how many ounces of breast milk have had to be tipped away. We bought her all kinds of different brands and teats but to no avail. 

This was starting to get me down as I envisioned all sorts of problems when we come to wean her, plus up until that point I’d  only been able to leave Isla with Hubs twice so I can have a break and it was only for 3 hours max in between her feeds, and when I got home she was hungry and screaming from his attempts to bottle feed her.

That was until we discovered Minbie bottles.

I spotted this brand on Facebook and the reviews were excellent. The trick is the special teat which offers a variety of flows (we’ve got the 3 flow which is recommended for combining breast and bottle feeds) and is so similar to a nipple there’s no confusion. The photo in the post was taken the very first time I offered Isla this bottle, she guzzled 4oz straight away with no tears, no struggling, no moaning! I was so impressed. The Minbie bottles didn’t confuse her either so she switched from my breast to the bottle and back seemlessly.  

I stopped breastfeeding when Isla was 6 months old and I swear she didn’t even notice when she was given bottles daily instead of the breast, and I firmly believe that Minbie is the reason the transfer was so easy.

I can’t rate the Minbie bottles highly enough for breastfeeding mums who want to offer their babies a bottle.


Things I’d do next time around

Now that Isla is nearly a year old (seriously, where has this year gone?!), we’ve already started fielding the inevitable “when are you having another” questions. Now the answer to this question varies from day to day. On bad days, the answer is a firm NEVER, whereas on good days, or days where I coo over newborns, I consider giving Isla a sibling in a few years.

But if I did do it all again, there are a few things I’d do differently. Here’s an example:

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  1. Trust my own instincts – the amount of times I wanted to do something, but either the baby books or other people’s advice suggested something different, was ridiculous. I can remember one time Isla was crying and I was told, by an unnamed person, that she must be hungry again even though I’d fed her less than an hour ago. I was sure it was something else but fed her again just to avoid an argument – only for her to throw up all her milk. It turns out she had wind. You know best, you know your baby.
  2. Sleep when the baby sleeps – I really should have made the most of Isla’s newborn sleep patterns and caught up on sleep, but I made myself even more tired trying to keep the house immaculate. I now know that people don’t care if your house is a bit messy when you have a baby, and Hubs wasn’t bothered if the washing was a few days behind. Make the most of the peace and quiet while it lasts!
  3. Cute outfits – newborns really don’t need cute outfits, when you’re changing them 10 times a day they just become a hindrance. Plus Isla was a petite baby right from birth so didn’t fit into most of the newborn clothes we had, so I had to improvise big time trying to find her matching outfits, as you can see! Seriously, sleep suits are fine, especially when they sleep for most of the day!
  4. Cherish every moment, or try to – on tough days, I felt like such a bad mum when I was wishing the day would end, as we’re supposed to “cherish every minute” right? Well, no. It’s ok not to be glowing with happiness when your little one is screaming bloody murder at 3am, motherhood is hard work and I know we’re supposed to treasure every moment as it all goes so fast blah blah blah, but don’t feel guilty if you’re not loving every minute, especially during the tough phases.
  5. There are no medals for Most Tired Parent – I feel bad for the amount of times I’ve berated Hubs for being tired. He works in London two or three days a week and stays in a hotel, which I admit makes me jealous that he gets two nights of uninterrupted sleep and as a result, have demanded to know why he is tired. It’s not a competition to see who is the most tired, it doesn’t get any of us anywhere.
  6. Wean when they’re hungry – I mentioned in a previous post that one of the problems we had with Isla’s sleep was that my breast milk wasn’t enough for her when she was five months old, but I didn’t want to wean her as all the baby books say not to until they’re six months old. As a good friend pointed out, all babies are different and Isla simply became hungrier than the books said she should. Had I trusted myself instead of Dr Randomer who’d never met Isla, we might have solved the sleep problems earlier.
  7. Stop using Dr Google – I was a nightmare for googling anything I thought might be wrong with Isla. Here’s an example of some of the questions I googled in the first few months: “how often should newborns breastfeed?” “Is my baby feeding too much?” “Why was my baby sick?” “Is my baby sleeping too much?” I’m one of life’s worriers and I’ve jumped to all sorts of conclusions, most of which haven’t been helped by Dr Google. For example, Isla had some pretty epic diarrhoea one day and Dr Google put the fear of Christ up me, saying that if it continued I’d need to take her to hospital as she could get dehydrated within hours. I was terrified that she’d caught some kind of killer bug, even though she had no other symptoms and was fine in herself. It turned out she’d just had a bit too much fruit which had made her poo runny. Chill the hell out and stop Googling! If you’re worried, call 111 next time. Which leads me on to…
  8. Dont worry too much about percentiles – Isla is a petite baby and was between the 50 and 25 percentile when she was born, and dropped to the 25 over time. This worried me so much as I was breastfeeding and I was so upset that maybe I wasn’t feeding her properly. Percentiles are just a guide, and our midwife admitted they set too much store by the graphs as babies may grow loads one week and not much the next. As long as they are weeing, pooing and gaining weight steadily, they’re fine.