Category Archives: Establishing a Routine

On Night Nannies

babies in cuddlesFor some, there is a stigma attached to having a night nurse, as if you are somehow outsourcing motherhood. But for others (like one of us) it was a life saver. We thought that it would be helpful to share our experience. At moomboo corner we belive that there is nothing wrong with getting some help once in a while!

For those who do not know, here is how it works in London. The night nurse comes to your place usually around 7.00 or 8.00 pm. She helps with the bath, night feed and to get the baby to sleep. But where the real value of it comes in, is during those feeds at 2, 3 or 4 am; by the time you have fed, changed and settled the baby, you feel like it is time to get up again! The night nurse, takes care of all of this so you can either feed and then go straight back to sleep or even express so you can get a proper night sleep (well, until your breasts feel like they will explode, that is). She then leaves at 7.00 or 8.00 am when you have hopefully had a good night sleep and are ready to start the day. During the first few weeks, I was so obsessed with whether baby was still breathing, that I only slept when the night nurse was around.

twinsGranted, it is a very personal/ intrusive thing. My night nurse would bring the baby into our room for a feed in the middle of the night and come and take her away – all this whilst my husband was snoring next to me blissfully. That is why it is important to chose the right person and keep the same person with whom you will build a rapport. Some agencies that send a different person each time have probably put people off by making what is a really personal thing, quite impersonal and business like.

The best night nurses, and I can say that I was lucky enough to have one of them, will also start sleep training the baby at an early age (from a week old or so) so that by the time they go, baby is close to or actually sleeps through the night. An added bonus for clueless people like me, was that I actually learned how to do most baby things from the night nurse. She taught me how to bathe, change, feed the baby. She even helped with establishing breast-feeding and expressing. The moomboo came in so handy; baby would sleep in our room and move to the nursery when the night nurse was there. The moomboo made the transition from one room to the other very smooth.

photo (11)Having a night nurse is expensive, there is no way around that (usually ranging from £100 to £180 per night). But it really depends on how much value you place on your sleep and if you take into account the added benefits (i.e. that you do not have to check if the baby is breathing or not every 5 minutes), it is definitely worth it.

Choose someone you like and that will make the experience 100 times better. During the precious first months a good night nurse will enhance your confidence and help you enjoy the experience more. Try Carol Mae Consulting (http://www.carolmaeconsulting.co.uk/) for a very personal and unique experience or Night Nannies (http://www.nightnannies.com/).

Share your night nurse experience with us.

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Routine or no routine? Our happy inbetween

alarm clockAs part of our routine or no routine series, we have tapped into our network of multi-cultural mummy friends who have shared their experiences with us. Part three of this series, is written by Mrs C who has adopted a more…. relaxed approach to a baby routine.

“When I was pregnant, I would observe our friends with kids and I always thought that the best behaved children were the ones on a routine. It was probably just a coincidence, but it anyway made my mind up that routine was the way forward for us. The benefits seemed endless…predictability, well behaved baby, rested mummy… I was so set on this, that we actually employed an expert as soon as we could, to help us establish the routine.

And the routine worked great. Our baby girl was one of the first to sleep through the night, and the predictability of the feeding and napping cycles, meant that I was very attuned to her needs. However, what I found very hard, and what I think that most people on a routine do not always admit to, is that for it to work you have to continue working at it (sometimes hard) and that it also means that you are a little imprisoned by it.

a2ed3ad1e971c8322436775d1b51aeefI am a very active and sociable person and I found that having to stay indoors between 12.00 and 2.30 EVERY day very limiting. It was probably also that my baby is such a light sleeper that she would not follow the routine when out and about. After a couple of weeks of not joining my NCT friends on the various activities because ‘it is nap time’, I decided that this was not going to work for us. A happy mummy is a happy baby, and this mummy was the happiest when surrounded by her friends, their babies and a nice skinny cappuccino.

There came a period of adjustment. After being on a routine for a while, when she found herself in a soft play area during nap time, baby was a little confused. But being sociable and adaptable little creature, she soon figured it out. I also figured out that she was happiest when in the company of other babies, and in some ways became more manageable as a result of a more flexible routine. So here is how it works for us:

  •  we roughly follow the Gina Ford routine with the three naps a day (short morning nap, long lunchtime nap and short afternoon nap). We are flexible and vary the nap times depending on our activities. If she does not take a long enough lunchtime nap, she will make it up later by having longer than the 45 minutes recommended by most routines
  • two to three times a week, we stay at home and try to follow the routine by the book. This bores baby and mummy but I think it is important to avoid her getting over tired
  • we are more strict when it comes to feeding times. There we only vary by 15 minutes here or there. Although not so at the beginning, she will now have meals anywhere. This fits with our lifestyle as we love eating out
  •  we are religious about the nighttime routine of bath, little story, bottle of milk and off to bed. She knows that there is no room for negotiation. It is always at the same time and done in the same way.

This more relaxed approach to a routine is not for everyone, but it has really worked for us by giving us a rough outline to the day. What is interesting is that one way or another, all babies (whether on a routine or not) all end up falling into a similar schedule naturally.”

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!

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!

Did the title make you cringe? Then you are not alone. You are one of many parents who has negative associations with the phrase “sleep training”. We did too; until we saw the benefits.

By Nicole Delaney Photography

Sleep is an acquired skill like anything else, and as parents it is our role to equip our children with the necessary tools to be happy and healthy. I am sure as a new parent, you will agree, that sleepless nights catch up to you in the form of a bad mood, a short fuse, delirium, exhaustion, lower ability to process information, and in some, even depression. So why would we want our babies to suffer the same fate? Not teaching them this precious skill could not only lead them to be poor sleepers in the long term, but could also lead you to find yourself in situations that in hindsight seem to be funny, but at the time are no laughing matter. Do you really want to find yourself driving around the block, walking up and down the stairs, moving in circles with baby on the maxi cosi, or rocking the crib with your foot all night just to try to get a wink of sleep while your baby does also?

There are many approaches to sleep training. On one side of the scale is the “letting your child cry it out all night” approach, and on the other is a controlled “letting your child settle themselves on their own” approach.  Although we both applied the latter, there are variations in the approach we each used.

What we are trying to say, is that it is important for every parent to determine the approach that best suits them.  No one can tell you what is best for you and your family. However, we can both attest to the advantages of sleep training our children early and combining this with the advantages of a nap/sleep routine (which incidentally is linked to an eating routing too, but more on that another time).  Not only does sleep training give you predictability in planning your own day (not to mention gives you extra time to sleep at night!), but it also makes you feel empowered that you can help your child achieve something wonderful: the ability to look forward to sleep, and the power to settle themselves – their first step at independence (and happiness!)

Although there are many good books out there such as . . .

  • “The Complete Sleep Guide” by Gina Ford
  • “The Baby Whisperer” by Tracy Hogg
  • “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” by Dr Marc Weissbluth
  • “Your Baby Week by Week” by Dr. Caroline Fertleman and Simon Cave
  • “5 Days to a Perfect Night Sleep” by Dr. Eduard Estivill

. . . sometimes there is nothing like the experience of other parents to help out.

So, we thought, we would use this blog to share our very personal experiences in teaching our own babies how to sleep. We both applied the “teaching your child how to settle themselves” approach, but we did so differently. Today, both our babies are like clockwork  they tell us what time of the day it is with their yawns signalling that its nap time, and their moaning signalling that its eating time (saves us carrying a wrist watch!)

Little by little, we will divulge some of our best tricks to hopefully help you and your babies get off to a simpler, smoother start!

And soon, you’ll be able to get your hands on a moomboo to help you sleep train while reducing changing variables in the baby’s environment, so you know you are giving them the best chance to learn!

In the meantime, why not send us your sleep training story?