Why I love the newborn stage

Yes, I said it. The disturbed sleep, the black, tar-like nappies, the uncomfortable feeling of trying to sit down while your nether regions haven’t healed yet. I love this stage the most.

Once the dust had settled and we’d got our heads around being a family of four, I fell in love with the newborn phase of Rory’s life, just as I had with Isla. And yes, this is a strange opinion, but I’ll tell you why.

As one of my closest friends put it, right now Rory pretty much is in a routine of eat-sleep-poop-repeat, which means excursions out of the house are quite easy as he just sleeps the majority of the time. He feeds every 3-4 hours so it’s relatively simple to plan a trip out between his feeds. I even managed a day out shopping and doing lunch with my mother-in-law when he was two weeks old and he either slept happily in his pram, or watched the world go by. So much easier than keeping tabs on a toddler who wants to touch everything, not hold my hand, and decides halfway round that she doesn’t want to walk anymore.

Plus newborn sleep is brilliant. The average newborn sleeps up to 18 hours a day and we’re lucky that when Rory sleeps, he sleeps. Very deeply, and for a good couple of hours at a time, which means a good amount of downtime for mummy. I can either get jobs done (I’ve even been able to vacuum around him!), eat, enjoy a hot cup of tea, or actually catch up on some sleep – like you’re always being told to. Plus newborn sleepy cuddles are just the best!

Give it a few months and he’ll be napping a lot less, and will be a lot more active, so that cuppa will be left abandoned on a high shelf while I’m chasing a crawling/toddling baby around the house. Right now, I also don’t have to worry that if I pop him in his Moses basket and turn my back for a second, when I look back he’ll have crawled out and will be trying to climb into the washing machine, which I’m enjoying while it lasts.

Because don’t get me wrong, i’m under absolutely no illusions that these blissful, quiet hours will last. I’m very aware that this is the calm before the storm, and that babies can change in a heartbeat from happy, sleepy babies who feed like clockwork to angry little sleep thieves who just want to cry for hours on end. With Isla, that change came on New Years Day 2016 when she turned 4 months old, and then BAM!! Four month sleep regression hit, and Isla stopped sleeping. At all. And because she was overtired, she was miserable as hell, which meant trips out of the house were very stressful and consisted of her screaming her head off, making this exhausted mummy frustrated and weepy.

Then once we were past the sleep regression, Isla started crawling and developing so quickly, so our days were spent trying to stop her crawling under the coffee table and keep her clever little mind active.

So that’s why I’m making the most of these quiet days where I’m actually able to enjoy a hot brew and an episode or two of Game of Thrones. Where I don’t have to worry about packing little pots of puréed food on a trip to the supermarket in case he gets peckish. Right now, just whipping out a boob will be enough to settle him. But not for long!

The old saying goes that mums should “enjoy every minute”, so that’s what I’m doing right now. And hoping that the day it all changes won’t come too soon, as I love sleepy cuddles with Rory. I love watching him sleep and feeling him snuggle into me when he’s feeding. I love watching him flap his little arms and legs around when he’s on his playmat. He’s a little treasure, and I’d love to keep him as the little snuggle bunny he is now!


The Debate Club

When I’m with my mummy friends, we often put the world to rights about various issues that everyone seems to have an opinion on, including the choices us mummies face and often, the criticism we face for making the “wrong ones”. Here’s my two penneth on some of the topics we’ve talked about. FYI, these are just my opinions, I’m not saying they’re the right ones, just that they’re mine…

  • Breastfeeding in public – I really wish I had been brave enough to be one of those mums who could breastfeed her baby in the middle of a shop or restaurant, but I just couldn’t. If I ever had to feed Isla in public, I found a baby changing room. I really admire those who could, and I believe that if baby needs feeding it shouldn’t matter where you are, you should be allowed to just crack on and feed them, but I’d heard too many stories (mostly in the Daily Mail) of poor mums who had been confronted by “offended” onlookers to do it myself. Maybe next time…
  • Vaccinations – surely this one is a no brainer? Why would anyone not want to protect their children from deadly diseases? Yes, some do come with side effects, but I’d rather take the side effects than the disease itself. If anyone can come up with a good reason not to vaccinate their children against meningitis, rubella and so on, I’d like to hear it!
  • Dummies – most of my friends have given their babies a dummy, but we didn’t give Isla one. I know many babies find a lot of comfort in dummies, but we decided not to give Isla a dummy as we were worried that it would be hard to wean her off it. Luckily Isla has always been a very placid, settled baby and we’ve never had an occasion where she seemed like she needed one.
  • Breast vs bottle – I’m very pro-breastfeeding and breastfed Isla until she was 6 months old with no problems. But I’m also very aware of how hard it is and that many women struggle with it. I know I was very lucky to have found nursing relatively easy, that it’s not for everyone and I very firmly believe that as long as baby is being fed, it doesn’t matter whether it comes from a tit or Tommee Tippee. Although I’d definitely recommend all women give it a try, especially in the early weeks, as I found it so much easier to just scoop Isla out of her Moses basket and feed her straight away rather than faff about sterilising and making up bottles multiple times a night! 
  • BLW vs purees – both are brilliant! I’ve got splinters on my arse for sitting on the fence, but we’ve tried both with Isla and they both had their positives. Baby led was great for teaching Isla to feed herself, while spoon feeding her purees was also great for making sure she actually ate something.
  • Cry it out – I admit, I’m not a fan of crying it out but for a somewhat daft reason. When Isla was going through sleep regression, we tried sleep training which was a great success eventually as she learned how to settle herself, and while we were going through it I read a poem posted to Facebook written from the POV of a baby being left to cry it out and it made me sob. With lines like “I need you mommy, where are you?” it broke my heart. I know there’s absolutely no way to know what goes through a baby’s mind when they’re crying it out but it just stuck with me. 

Our top 5 baby food recipes

Weaning was a bit of a minefield for us. Because Isla didn’t get her first teeth until she was 11 months old, her food had to be pureed quite smoothly as she struggled with big lumps since she couldn’t chew very well. Finger foods also had to be soft or easily dissolvable.

I did plenty of reading up on tasty recipes that could be blended to an easy consistency for Isla and found these to be her favourites. I’ve also marked them on how easy they were to make as some recipes I found took an age to prepare!

5. Baby ratatouille by babycentre.co.uk – I tried this one when Isla was about 10 months old and while it took her two tries before she got used to the strong flavours, she gobbled it up and Hubs and I thought it smelled damn good too! It takes a while to cook so not one to make in a hurry, but it’s worth it.

Yummy rating = ****

Easy cooking = ***

4. Cheesy vegetable medley by Heinz Baby – there are many things in life Isla loves, and cheese and vegetables are in the top of the list. So this recipe went down a treat. She’s moving on to more hearty meals but this was a great recipe for the early days of weaning.

Yummy rating: *****

Easy cooking: ****

3. Fish with peas by Cow & Gate – Aside from the slightly fishy smell left in the kitch after cooking, this one is a firm favourite with both us and Isla. Easy pea-sy (sorry) to make and a great place to start when introducing little ones to fish. Isla now eats all fish and loves them. Also as a side note, we found Cow & Gate’s 5 Step Weaning Plan was brilliant. I’d been a bit daunted by the idea of getting Isla to try solids and had no idea where to start, but this guide spelled it out in plain English and it was dead easy to do. I’d highly recommend it to other first time mums, thanks C&G!

Yummy rating: ***

Easy cooking: *****

2. Savoury chicken casserole by babycentre.co.uk – This one is really good if you want to eat the same meal and at the same time as your baby. The chicken casserole is so tasty and filling, super healthy and most importantly Isla loves it. Takes a while to cook so this is one to prepare early doors.

Yummy rating: *****

Easy cooking: ***

1. Tomato and butternut squash pasta by Annabel Karmel – Where do I start? I love love love this one! So simple to make, smells incredible (a welcome change as many baby foods look and smell revolting!) and oh so sophisticated. Have to admit, when I’m standing at the cooker sautéing the tomatoes I feel like a SuperMum, look at me cooking posh meals for my baby, eff you Mumzillas!! And most importantly, Isla gobbled it up at the first go and after three months, is very much the firm favourite. I now cook twice the amount and freeze about 6 portions at a time. I’m gradually working my way through Annabel Karmel’s website as there is such a variety of recipes.

Yummy rating: *****

Easy cooking: *****


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.