Monthly Archives: January 2013

Baby Routine? No Thank you!

passportIn an effort to provide an array of views, moomboo corner draws on the expertise of its multicultural NCT group. Following our post on the advantages of putting your baby on a schedule courtesy of Mrs. V, we thought we would share our dear friend Janie’s views on how allowing their little one to find her own schedule, worked for their uber mobile lifestyle.

“Before my daughter, my partner and I had never really been much of a routine-led kind of a couple..In fact I’d go so far as to say we’d actively avoid the r word…

Not that it’s a bad thing, it just never suited us. As a writer (of both songs and books) I found inspiration would rear it’s head at any time of the night or day and I got used to welcoming it at the oddest of hours, often working when most of the rest of the world slept, finally resting while the majority of London dealt with the morning rush-hour mayhem.

While I was pregnant I read, like most first time mums, an enormous amount of  literature, some of it useful, some it fairly pointless and in retrospect some of it was really quite unhelpful.. I weighed up the pro’s and con’s of  water births (what if he can’t swim? /do they come with a baywatch certified lifeguard?), breast feeding or bottle, (any NCT teacher will tell you it is your moral duty to breast feed until your baby reaches 18  years of age), which buggy (it is a seat, with four wheels, why oh why are there so many to choose from?), and what really are the essential accessories? (I wish there had been moomboo when I had my baby girl).

turquoise vespaI also read a lot on the subject of whether to put your child into a routine or not.  Given my previous lifestyle and my partner and I’s need to travel  frequently (having bases in both the UK and Italy), we decided to opt for a more, let’s see what the baby wants to do, if we’re easy with her, maybe she’ll be flexible when travel plans mean we can’t given her 2 hours in a nursery in silence with the blinds shut to have a nice sleep…kind of approach.. Somehow, incredibly it’s worked for us.

Our little girl has developed her own routine which is not dissimilar to the babies I know who areroutine led.  She gets the sleep she needs but when it suits her and on the plus side she is not overly grumpy if she misses her usual nap, she just takes it later….

lucky baby

Here is how a “typical day” could look for us:

  • Approx. 8am the baby intercom broadcasts a string of incomprehensible babble (which my partner has fondly likened to something from the film “Mars Attacks”.)
  • Milk and biscuits are duly dispensed to our beautiful wild haired little alien followed by a nappy change, general clearing of goo and preparation for the day…
  • Play ensues until mid morning snack of hipp fruit pot or fresh banana and water around 10:30/11.  Nap for 30 mins-1hr can happen around now depending how her night’s sleep was…
  • Lunch is consumed/thrown/smeared at 1pm followed by a walk (for Mum)/ chauffeur driven buggy experience (for Charlotte) then a 1/2 hour nap around 2:30/3..
  • Afternoon tea of fruit or biscuit is requested by Miss Charlotte around 4pm followed by furious play and exploration of every possible dangerous area of the house until dinner at 7pm.
  • Light play (reading together) bath and ready for bed all happens before 9pm then it’s time for beauty sleep, often this suggestion is met with some resistance but the addition of warm milk, patience and a few songs normally works by 9:30pm…just in time for Mum’s take away delivery:)

And that’s the great thing about babies, your one will be the right one for your approach whichever you choose, so my advice would be don’t listen to the books, listen to yourselves. If you love routine your baby probably will too…if not, going with the flow can really work too!”

By Janie Price mum to Charlotte age 10 months

Do you have a similar experience to Janie’s? Let us know, we’d love to hear from you!

Advertisements

Baby Routine? Yes Please!

If you are an avid reader of our blog, you may have gathered that we pull on the collective knowledge of our NCT group of mommies. (For those living outside the UK, NCT is a maternity preparation course that brings together parents-to-be with similar due dates living in the same area). Our group is very close yet highly multicultural in that we have British, American, German, Spanish, Greek, Italian, Korean, Irish and South East Asian mommies and daddies in it. This means we have the advantage of witnessing a variety approaches to child rearing, and while we have all benefited from sharing experiences, we’ve each found our own way.

We thought, that by sharing our group’s experiences we could help other parents find their own way too. So we will kick off a new series to tackle the issue of routine vs. no routine. This blog post, written by our very own Mrs V, will focus on her experiences following a schedule with her very happy baby. (In case you were wondering, she happens to be British, but don’t be fooled- the Greeks and Spaniards in the group did the same!)

Happy daddy happy baby

“As a Mum-to-be I found I was faced with numerous decisions to make about how best to look after my baby and was bombarded with so much conflicting advice. One of the biggest decisions was whether to follow a routine or not, with some professionals/experienced mum’s/grannies/complete strangers advocating that a routine is the only way to go and just as many advising against it (and some even going so far as to suggest it could be detrimental to your baby’s happiness). After doing my research and speaking to a number of friends who had recently had a baby, I decided to try and follow a routine after my baby was born. I have not looked back and thought I would share my top 3 reasons for this:

1. You have peace of mind that your baby is getting enough food and sleep in the day. 

photo (11) - Version 2We all will admit that one of our biggest goals in the first few months after our baby is born is to get them to sleep through the night as soon as possible! With structured feeding and sleeping times, I found I was able to try and make sure my baby was getting enough milk and not too much sleep in the daytime, so that he gradually started to sleep for longer and longer at night the bigger he got. After 8 weeks, if he woke in the night I felt comfortable in the knowledge that he probably wasn’t hungry and giving him a cuddle, and maybe a sip of warm water, would be enough before trying to put him back to bed.

2. Your baby is relaxed and secure in the knowledge that food and sleep will be on its way.

pouting babyI honestly believe that one of the biggest reasons I have a happy baby is that he knows when naps and food are coming. I think it is a general misconception that you have to push babies into a routine and that some books/professionals even advocate this. I can hand-on-heart say that I have never ever left my baby to cry. Of course you sometimes have to be flexible – your baby may be going through a growth spurt or not feeling very well so may need his bottle earlier or a bit more sleep than usual. You know your baby best.

3. It gives you flexibility to get on with life.

lucky babyIf you follow a routine you know when the next feed is due, which means you can get out and about/have some you time/do some chores. Once the routine was established, it was such a relief to be able to meet friends for lunch or do some shopping without worrying about whether you might have to duck into a loo somewhere to breastfeed, or whether you’d be lucky enough to make it home before the next feed.

Of course, there are times when something happens to ensure the routine goes out the window. I suggest you take a deep breath and just start again the next day”!

For those of you who are keen on following a routine, we’ve found Gina Ford’sContended Baby” to be very comprehensive, prescriptive (although sometimes too much) and generally helpful. After all, a lot of the maternity nurses base themselves on a variation of her approach. Don’t be fooled- establishing the routine can be a challenge at first – but as you hear from Mrs V its benefits are rewarding. If you decide to go for this, we wish you the very best of luck, and encourage you to share your experiences with us/and or reach out to us for any support/advice you may need throughout the period. It’s a ride but well worth the effort!!! Don’t forget that the moomboo can be a great companion during this process as it will allow you and your baby to adhere to a sleep routine no matter where in the world you are.  Moomboo will provide the continuity needed in spite of changing environments. To learn more about moomboo take a look at our first post.

Watch this space for a post extolling the advantages of NOT setting a schedule. . .and please do let us know your thoughts and experiences!

Our tips for newborn personal care

baby turcoiseSo you are finally home from the hospital with your new baby….! It is the most amazing time until the panic sets in….how do I look afer this little creature? Here are some simple tips as gathered from experience, and in the case of one of us, the assistance of a very experienced (and scary) maternity nurse.

  • All you need is water! When pregnant and preparing for the arrival of your baby, do not get carried away into buying loads of lotions, baby bath products and wipes. For the first few months, all you need is water. For nappy changes, use warm water and cotton. We found the oval cotton pads much easier to use than the thick cut cotton wool which leaves cotton residue. Clean from the front to the back and do not forget those little creases under the legs. Dry extremely well with a muslin. For the bath, which for newborns is not recommended on a daily basis, just water will do. Many new parents agonise over the temperature of the bath. Invest in a thermometer or use your judgement. The midwife at the hospital told us that the water should feel comfortable to the hand; we found this more helpful than a thermometer.
  • favourite baby in bathSudocream – also ideal for mum’s spots! The maternity nurse would add a little sudocrem at every nappy change. Views vary and the health visitors recommend a more limited use. We settled in the middle, using sudocrem for the last nappy change before putting the baby down for the night (as that nappy tends to stay on the longest) and once during the day. As an added bonus, sudocrem works wondes on spots. A friend suggested this and it made my spot almost vanish – just try to remember you have it on when the doorbell rings.
  • Olive oil. This is not the kind you add to your salad, but a more purified form ideal for baby care. You can find it in most pharmacies and you should use it after the bath, to moisturise the delicate baby skin which due to the harsh water in most cities, has a tendency to dry. Babies develop special skin habits and conditions, so it is best not to invest in any baby moisturising lotions until much later. Both our babies had different skin irritations and we ended using specialist products recommended by the health visitor or the doctor.
  • babies in cuddlesThe umbilical cord is scary! Here at moomboo corner we are always honest and we are not afraid to admit that the umbilical cord scares us. Logically, you know that it is not hurting the baby but it looks painful….Make sure you keep it clean and dry. Only use warm water and cotton and dry off very well with a muslin. Any umbilical cord discharge with a funny smell should be checked straight away.
  • Top and tail. Another one of those terms you hear a lot. All it means is that, as newborns do not need a bath every day, the head and bottom should be cleaned on a daily basis. There are special ‘top and tail’ containers in the market. We do not think you need this. Fill a bowl with warm water and clean around the eyes (from the centre out and using a different cotton piece for each eye), clean behind the ears and the whole face. Then move to the bottom and give it a good clean.

We know its tempting to stock up on all sorts of branded, hypoallergenic, soft, baby products. And we understand its part of the overall experience, but there really is no need to splurge! In fact, if you wait until your baby comes home and is a few weeks old before investing in creams and things you will be better off.

baby in bath

One of us had a baby that suffered from eczema (a severe dry skin condition which is rather common in young babies). As it turned out we had to throw away all our goodies and buy prescriptions and a few over the counter little gems of products. In case you are wondering those were (keep in mind these are for when your baby is little older): (1) Epaderm – this a great vaseline like cream which can be applied all over the body (and is great for mommy’s dried up cuticles from all the washing and cleaning) and (2) Aveno bath oil water emollient  particularly good to soften London water for the babies bath. Just add a few drops before you put your baby in and you’ll see it will help your baby’s skin stay smooth (and also smell nice!) (3) Dermol– although it is another water emollient, it also works as a soap (which doesn’t lather and thus doesn’t dry up your baby’s skin). Of course, before you treat your baby’s eczema make sure to check with your pediatrician or GP, but these creams are great to keep older baby’s skin feeling nice and soft!

Our list is by no means exhaustive, but we’ve tried to minimize the expense for parents while maximising the comfort for babies (and softness of their skin – who doesn’t love to kiss those smooth baby cheeks?)  Please send us your tips for newborn care and any pictures of your cuties in the bath!

5 ways to start off the New Year!

Yes! It’s resolution time. Or you may be thinking “yuk, resolution time, I don’t have time”. If you’re a new mom that is how you may feel. No time to think about yourself, just time to keep doing what you love doing – taking care of others and particularly your new bundle of joy. Although easier said than done, setting time aside for yourself could be the best thing you do for your family. A happy mommy is a happy baby, husband and household. So, this year, why not focus on you a little bit too? We will make it easy and share out top 5 tips, to get “a new you” ready for 2013!

bikram yoga postures1. A Bikram Yoga Session – or maybe two, or if yo’ure up for it a 30 day challenge! Although it is a big time commitment (1.5 hours for the class, getting there and back and having to take an extra shower to get rid of all the sweat), it is well worth it. Not only is it great physical exercise for your body and a great way to relax your mind, but it is also wonderful for detoxing, debloating, and giving your skin a makeover. Your skin will be radiant, soft and clean. Oh, and did we mention that there is one posture (n23) that equals a great night sleep? For those of us who could use with a few more hours in the night THIS posture is the one for you.  You can practice Bikram anywhere in the world, but if you’re in London we highly recommend @SoHotBikramYoga (especially the Victoria studio). The owner Lorraine is a hoot, and the staff is super welcoming. They also do Pregnancy Series which are a great way to prepare for labour (in case you’ve started the year with another little bun in the oven!)

2. Bobbi Brown BB Cream- Get a “new face” with the hottest beauty product of the moment. We have tried a few and the Bobbi Brown one is the best. It evens out skintone and gives a natural glow. It blends easily so it literaly takes a couple of minutes to put on. With SPF35 it is great for those long walks in the park with the pram.

sledge shoe turquoise3. LK Bennet Sledge Shoe– Get “new” legs. OK, yes you may have seen it on K Middy, but that is not why we are recommending the shoe. It’s actually a beautiful, comfortable heel that comes in multiple colours every season. The height is just right to wear for work and for a great night out with hubby. If you want to lengthen your legs with an easy fix, then why not splurge a little on a great sledge shoe? (Although we would probably go for the neutral tones, we couldn’t help ourselves from posting the acqua version). You don’t have to be in London to buy this, they sell online!

4. Return to Glory. Us busy mummies, do not get much of a chance for pampering. We have found that the London Return to Glory home massage and beauty service is a great little treat. HotStoneSchedule an appointment during baby’s long lunchtime nap. The therapist will show up on your doorstep with a massage table (and will even remember not to ring the bell and wake up the baby); she/he will recreate your own little spa in your home. They think of everything – they even bring their own spa music so if you close your eyes you might think that you are in a spa hotel in Thailand (even if it is just for an hour….)

5. Caramel baby and child photo studio- This is a favourite London secret. Every fortnight, the caramel baby&child Notting Hill boutique is converted into a photo studio. The professional photographer overseeing the shoot is amazing! We are not into having pictures of ourselves, but we wanted a nice natural picture as a family. Nana (for some of her shots click here), is the only one who managed to capture my baby, husband and me in the most natural and charming way. If you don’t live in the UK, the same theory applies: why not get a gorgeous, natural photo of your “new self” and the family? If you happen to live in Spain don’t miss Noonu photography, they do amazing family and baby shoots.

This is our frivolous take on pampering yourself just a bit. After all, you deserve it! Don’t feel guilty, just enjoy!!!!!!! And if you try any of these, please let us know your experiences!

First (and last?) holidays without our baby

This is the second instalment of our post about our first Christmas holidays since having our babies. We each approached the holidays with a different plan in mind. Our previous post was about the advantages of renting a villa, and here is my part of the story….

Secluded tropical beach

On our way back from our fist summer holiday with our 6 month old baby, feeling more tired and looking paler than ever, my husband and I decided we need a “real” break.  We reminisced about out mornings sipping coffee in bed, our days spent reading on the beach and our after dinner cocktails. With a mind clouded by exhaustion, we booked a 10 day holiday in South America combining all sorts of non-baby friendly activities (such as sailing) and arranged for the grandparents to come and look after our baby. They were very excited and it all seemed months and months away, too far away for us to have to think about it.

As the departure date was approaching, I began to dread it more and more. First, there were some hard and uncomfortable issues we had to deal with. With both of us away on the same plane, what if we never came back? We had to do our will and think long and hard about who would look after our baby if we both passed away, make financial arrangements for the future and even consider our funeral plans…not exactly the ideal preparation for holidays.

turquoise boat

The departure day came, and after months and months of sleepless nights, the prospect of a 12 hour flight seemed for the first time like …..heaven… Needless to say I was the happiest customer in aviation history, 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep, unlimited cinema releases…food and drink brought to me every few hours. I was re-discovering the simple pleasures in life and it all seemed good and promising. We arrived safely and once check-in our hotel  slept for 11 hours. Once I woke up rested, that is when the trouble begun. I missed my baby so much, I would find myself crying at the slightest thought of her. It was a feeling I had never had before. I had been away from loved ones before, but this was something else, a terrible feeling I cannot compare to any other.

In the meantime, our baby was happier than ever… she had two grandparents who were crazy about her, playing with her all day as well as  grandma’s gourmet food (pancakes, organic home-made chicken nuggets and all sorts of other yummy things that my steamed vegetables could not possibly compete with).

The grandparents would skype with us each day and our baby looked so happy, but every time I saw her it became harder and harder for me to have fun or even to consider continuing being there. I would try and rationalise with myself: ‘it is only 9 days….I am so tired I need some rest…being away does not make me a bad mom…I should be able to have fun, life does not stop just because I have a baby….’ but nothing worked. I think that I started to look for return tickets on my third day there….going back was all I could think about and I was even prepared to leave my husband behind.

We lasted SIX days away.

So here are my thoughts on holidays without your baby if you want to keep your sanity. For what it is worth, I have arrived at these after hours of crying and considerable thinking. And, even though I felt like this, I WILL be going away again without my baby.

  • keep calmbe confident and happy with your childcare arrangements. There is nothing worse than knowing that the baby is not happy or being well
    ooked after when you are trying to have some fun. 
    In our case, the grandparents were with us for almost 10 days before we left and we were 100% confident that our baby was happy being with them.
  • chose a reasonable destination and a realistic amount of time away. Yes, in retrospect, 10 days away was too much and it was not helped by the fact that we were on the other side of the world. I think that had we gone to a closer destination for lets say, 3 to 4 days it would have been an ideal and restful holiday and essential time to spend as a couple.
  • do not be afraid to say that you want to go back. It took me a few days of utter misery to admit defeat and come back early from our holidays, and once I did it, I was so much happier. Sometimes, you just have to disregard other people’s feelings and just do what you feel is right for yourself.
  • remember that being away from your baby does not make you a bad mother. A chance to recharge your batteries, focus on yourself and your husband and rest is good for you and good for your baby.

Holidays with 10 month olds

Were you a jet-setter prior to having your baby? Or perhaps you looked forward to your big holidays all year wishing for those late wake ups, breakfasts in bed, a relaxing day of your chosen activities with no need to plan. . . We were like that too, until we had babies! Our first Christmas holidays with babies were very different than they’ve been in the past. We each approached the holidays with a different plan in mind, but I don’t think either one of us was fully prepared for what happened. In this dual post (one today and one later in the week), we will divulge our two very different experiences in hopes they can help you plan your first long haul holiday with your baby.

The Villa Holiday

Image

My husband and I were always the type that liked traveling to remote locations with little to no plans except sleeping in late and making plans as we went along. We were avid goers to Aman resorts, or remote islands like Cat Island (before the Four Season’s was built there when no one knew where or what it was). But when we had our baby boy, this changed. It wasn’t because we felt we couldn’t still do those things it was simply a combination of not wanting other Aman resort-goers to suffer our baby’s teething cries (or for us to stress out about them hearing them), as well as the fact that we didn’t want to put our son through the jet lag that a 10 hour flight with at least 1 layover entailed. So, we thought we’d bite the bullet and find a location closer to home.  Our criteria:

  1. Short flight of no more than 3 hours
  2. Sunny location (we do live in london after all and need to store up on our vitamin D)
  3. Close enough to friends that we can actually have a fun time with on NYE whilst still having the baby on the premises with us but comfortably sleeping.

This was going to be a challenge, because my husband was not comfortable leaving our baby boy to spend his first NYE with a babysitter. He wanted us to be together, even if one of us was fast asleep (our baby boy started sleeping through from 7-7 at the age of 6 months,so we knew he’d be knocked out by midnight!) In comes our saving grace, a very dear friend of mine who suggested Morocco.

Image

Yes, I bet you’re making that face. . . The one we got from lots of friends thinking we were nuts taking a baby to Morocco. Well, all I can say is that it was one of the best decisions we ever made.

  • Morocco is 3 hours from London and has sunshine to spare all day long!
  • The country is on the same time zone as London, which makes it easy on the baby to adjust
  • Moroccans are the most welcoming people who LOOOOOVE children so they go out of your way to help you
  • Our BFF is from there and she hooked us up

If you aren’t lucky enough to have a Moroccan BFF, then here is the best kept holiday-with-baby-secret: RENT A VILLA! It is by far the best way to enjoy your friends company without feeling guilty that you are cramping their style.

ryad mk

They can go out at night, come and go as they please, and you can fit lots of activities in without disrupting your baby’s schedule and without exhausting yourself! For example, your friends can play with the baby to give you a short nap, you can all simply play by the poolside while everyone has fun and relaxes. You can have joint meals, and even host NYE guests at your house while the baby sleeps upstairs comfortably isolated from all the noise. You can even have a tete a tete with your husband when your friends go out to party for the evening and you’ve put the baby upstairs to sleep. In a hotel, you’d either be bound to having room service in the dark (if you have a single room that you share with your baby) or you’d have to get a babysitter. If you don’t like to leave your baby with babysitters (or don’t travel with your nanny), then a villa is the best option for you too!

If you’re convinced about villa holidays, then here is a tip if you’re thinking of Marrakesh as your next destination: Al Maaden (we stayed in a Ryad in Medina Les Oliviers- It was WONDERFUL)!

Image

By the way, if you know of good baby friendly villa holiday destinations in self contained resorts like Al Maaden, please send those tips our way so we can share it in a future blog post!