When Breastfeeding Turns Sour…

Breastfeeding / Nursing Aversion and Agitation (BAA)

Breastfeeding / Nursing Aversion and Agitation (BAA)

403 days of Boobs

So, here I am at 1 year and 1 month (and a bit) of breastfeeding my second baby. To date, the longest I have fed from my trusty boobs having previously weaned Oscar at 8 and a bit months. It’s something I’m incredibly proud of and I’m a huge advocate of breastfeeding for so many reasons – not least because it reduces the risk of breast cancer, and having had the Big C once, I’ll try anything to prevent getting it again 😅

However, we need to talk, because something isn’t right, and it hasn’t been since before Christmas and it’s only now, just today, that I finally feel able process it and hopefully, do something about it.

Up until now, I’ve not fully opened up to anyone, not even Robin, about how I have been feeling these past few months. My close “mum pals”, who actually now are just “pals” know nothing about this. I speak to them every day, however, if they’re reading this, it’ll be the first they’ve heard of the true extent of it. I’ve kept this to myself partly through shame, guilt, at times disgust, but mostly just sheer confusion about the thoughts I’ve been having, unable to process what it all meant… you name it, I’ve felt it.

Exclusively Breastfeeding

[Read: I’ve raised a Bottle Refuser]

Please, bear with me while I try and articulate this ramble. This is my way of getting it straight in my head, processing it all and working out what to do next!

I’ve mentioned that Scout hasn’t taken a bottle on Instagram recently and had influx of messages saying “hey, we’re the same!” and “you’re not alone!” and I had originally started writing a post about this… but the truth is, this is only a tiny part of the story.

That’s bit I’ve been able to talk about openly. Because it happens – sometimes kids aren’t great sleepers, sometimes they don’t take a bottle, sometimes people admit that it can be a bit much and they need some space. All that stuff sounds fairly “normal”. I was happy to write that post and follow it up with “this too shall pass” etc. But truth be told, I was gonna keep a few secrets because I was worried about what they meant and quite frankly, struggling with the fact that I felt they made me a bit of a sh*t mum…

Truth Bomb

So here it is – in the tiny hours of the morning, as I’ve been lying feeding Scout back to sleep, these “normal” niggles have been completely eclipsed by irrational, intrusive feelings of anger and agitation that have felt far from any sense of normal. As the minutes and sometimes hours tick on trying to get her back to sleep, I feel it slowly starting to creep in. As she suckles for comfort, I get more and more agitated, irritable and to be honest – angry. When she is still awake and feeding, I have to hold her hands away from me to help me cope because I feel physically repulsed by her touch (even using the word “repulsed” is making me wince – but I’m trying to be as honest as I can be here). I’ve talked about the feeling of being “touched out” before, but this is next level.

Then, as I feel she’s starting to nod off I have to count to 100 over and over again to stop me wanting to just prize my nipple out her mouth to get away, anything to get away. The feeling of being completely trapped is overwhelming and claustrophobic.

Once she’s asleep and I escape back to my own bed, I have to lie and calm myself down, breath it out to settle myself, the pent up frustration, to allow myself to wind back down and sleep… then, more often than not, the itch will start. This has been going on for months now and I have had no idea what the hell it was. It sets in as I’m feeding. At first just a niggle that quickly become an insatiable burning itch all over my boobs and chest that can continue for up to half an hour after I’ve fed her, at times it’s been so bad I’ve scratched it with a hair brush for some relief or left me clawing at my skin while everyone else sleeps.

Now, I KNOW this sounds a bit deranged and somewhat dramatic. This was my worry too. That’s why I’ve never said anything – it’s a little crazy sounding. I’m a relatively calm and chilled out person and I have been genuinely scared of these irrational feelings, completely unable to make sense of it all and feeling so so guilty and ashamed. Guilty that I could feel so incredibly angry at giving my little baby comfort and food. So irritated by an act that I’ve loved and enjoyed so much and for so long with two babies. That’s helped me nourish them and bond with them so beautifully.

There have been nights that I’ve genuinely worried that I may be suffering from some sort of delayed postnatal depression… but then come morning I’ve felt absolutely fine again and that’s just left me more confused. I never felt like this at any point of my feeding “journey” with Oscar, so why now? What does it mean?

The Penny Drops … At 4am!

There’s a reason I’m sharing this now. Turns out everything I’ve been experiencing isn’t as scary or confusing as I thought.

Last night, as I was trying to get Scout back to sleep, I took five minutes away, picked up my phone and opened Instagram and there was a post in my discovery section mentioning “Breastfeeding Aversion” – almost immediately I was googling it, and there it was – an article defining it. As I read it, I honestly felt I could have written it myself. It summed up my thoughts and feelings precisely and in that moment the sense of relief was huge – it’s a real thing and I’m not alone.

The horrible things I have been feeling are all real, and recognised, and valid, and lots of other people experience it! I am not nuts. There is nothing “wrong” with me!

Breastfeeding Aversion & Agitation (BAA)

“BAA or ‘aversion’ is a phenomenon that some breastfeeding mothers experience, which includes having particular negative feelings, often coupled with intrusive thoughts when an infant is latched and suckling at the breast”

(Yate, 2017)

The article I read was this one on the Kelly Mom breastfeeding page (I’m already kicking myself that I didn’t look here sooner as I’ve found the site a great resource in the past).

It perfectly outlines the intrusive thoughts, the sense of shame, triggers and even the dreaded itch! That’s when I knew I’d found my answer. I hadn’t even made a connection before now that the itch was related to my feelings of anger and agitation all the while being intertwined with my night feeds.

The causes of breastfeeding aversion seem varied – anything from pregnancy, to dehydration, to sleep deprivation to hormones. I’m unsure where mine has sprung from because I struggle to pinpoint exactly when it started.

Why am I sharing?

I still feel a wee bit weird about writing this.

After finding that these feelings have a name and a cause I do feel validated but I still feel really guilty about feeling them because they are no reflection on the bond that I have with Scout, part of which has probably been built through breastfeeding itself. But I genuinely had no idea that BAA existed and I can’t help but think that there must be someone out there experiencing this too and, just like yesterday’s me, has no idea this is a recognised phenomenon. Maybe you are sitting feeding just now feeling all the things, having all these thoughts and crying about it just like I’ve done – worried about what it all means.

Its real, it’s got a name, and I think I can fix it. This discovery has cemented in my head that it’s time to stop breastfeeding and move onto a new chapter.

I weaned Oscar off my boob at just over 8 months to that I could return to work and this time round I thought it would be nice to let Scout self-wean when she was ready but I just don’t think I can carry on with this effecting me the way it has been these last few months. I’m really proud of how far we’ve come and I’ve honestly loved it. I never wanted to stop on a negative note and it feels like it’s going that way, so I think it’s time. I have a feeling it might be quite tough, but we’ll get there. Even just recognising what’s causing these feelings will allow me to deal with them better I think.

Honestly though? This isn’t a horror story. If I had another baby tomorrow (nervous laugh), I’d choose to feed it myself in a heartbeat. Our breastfeeding experience won’t be tainted by these last few months but I’ll be honest with anyone that asks me about it because man, it’s been hard. Keeping anything like that to yourself is hard. Carrying all the worry and the guilt is exhausting – so don’t. Open up and share it, because if I’d done that I could maybe have saved myself a few weeks or even months of feeling this way… and would have itched a lot less 🤷🏼‍♀️

Well, there’s my brain dump for tonight – I’m going to click ‘Publish’ before I chicken out. Over and Out.

Lou x

Scout – Wild One

Scout Turns One - Diana Baker Photography

Scout: One Week NewThe Quickest Year

Last week, our little Scooty [Scout] turned one. I’m still in disbelief because 2018 may very have been the quickest year of my life… I mean, I thought Oscar’s first year flew in, but this second baby malarkey is next level, is it not?!

It’s been the most magical year. She’s been so laid back and fitted into our family perfectly. I can’t help but feel sad that she is growing up as she is the last baby, but it’s also amazing to see the little person that she’s growing into. I wrote a post when she was just new about how I felt that I am a “different mother” this time round, and I still stand by that. Our second baby has brought us the amazing chilled newborn-ness but without the inevitable worry that comes with the first. Able to soak up all those little magical moments without the overwhelming shock that your life has just been turned upside down and forever changed. It’s just easier, and for me, more natural.

Scout Turns One - Diana Baker Photography
Photography: Diana Baker

Our Unicorn Baby

Although, as Scout has got older, I’ve realised that I’m a different mother in other ways too. Basically, my cup of care is dwindling. I’ve not had the time or even inclination to create routines or analyse “leaps”.

For the first 4 months of her life, she slept like a baby unicorn. She slept like I didn’t know it was possible for a newborn to sleep. Of course, it’s all gone to complete sh*t now, however, a good friend of mine made a very valid point – those first few days, weeks and months are the toughest to adjust and settling into life as a family of four, so being well rested is invaluable. And that’s true. I just wish it had lasted longer… but, it’s not forever, yada yada, one day we’ll be dragging them out their beds, yada yada, eyeroll.

Baby two has broken all the “rules” and she gets cut slack that we never would have with Oscar. I am ashamed to say I spend many an hour actually in her cot feeding her to sleep most [ok, every] night before stealthily ninja-ing my boob away and climbing out. Anything for an easy life.

There were also nights in summer when I was trying to create a bedtime routine, but failed miserably to be honest, because if she didn’t settle I’d just give up after 3 seconds and bring her back through to the living room to watch Love Island with me… because, well , I didn’t wanna miss Love Island, did I? This is stark in contrast to the bedtime drill Oscar had. In his (nearly) three and a half years on this planet, he has not once left his bedroom after “bedtime” – poor lad!

I think I’ve realised that with your first baby the next milestone is new and exciting and you can’t wait for it, second time round, I’ve been happy to just enjoy her and long to keep her small, however unrealistic that is.

Scout Turns One - Diana Baker Photography
Photography: Diana Baker

Happy Birthday, Miss Scout Zelda Rose –

375 days new with 8 teeth that sometimes still get clamped around my nipple at 3am.

Who knows what you weigh because we never take you to the Health Visitor drop in clinic. Sorry.

You’ve been to London and Disneyland Paris & your first wedding but slept through the majority of it. That’s ok, there’ll be plenty more adventure. 

You started walking at 11 months, so that’s something to hold over your brother, he didn’t bother till he was 14 months. It’s come with it’s fair amount of bumps and bruises, but you’re getting there. 

You love clementines, swimming, snuggles, kisses and music.

You can say “Dada” and “Hiya” and I honestly thought you said “Teddy” the other day but I probably imagined it.

You’re feisty but gentle, strong willed but cautious. Your laugh is infectious. You’d play peekaboo all day if you could – preferably with Oscar. You love him. 

We also think you look a little like Pikachu the Pokemon.

Most of all, we love you beyond measure.

Scout Turns One - Diana Baker Photography
Photography: Diana Baker

All in all, 2018 was amazing, but also really hard and stressful at points and we were saying the other day, that Scout has been the easiest bit of it. Of course there have been the cranky 3am breakdowns but it’s all been far outweighed by her little toothy, scrunched up nose grin.

She makes us laugh all day and our hearts burst over and over at the wee bond that’s forming between her and her brother. I mean, it wasn’t love at first sight, for Oscar at least, it’s been a grower, but they’re getting there and it’s wonderful.

What a year. Can’t wait for the next, I hope it slows down, but have a feeling it won’t.

Scout Turns One - Diana Baker Photography
Photography: Diana Baker

 

Christmas Gift Guide 2018

christmas guide 2018

Christmas Is Coming…

Ok, so, CHRISTMAS. Sorry, I know it’s still November, but everyone’s talking about shopping aren’t they? Black Friday fever… even though no one in the UK had even heard about this American phenomenon until about 2 years ago…

I’m not the best at being organised when it comes to the festivities, I usually have the ideas but never get round to actually executing them, and as a result panic buy stuff on Amazon Prime on Christmas Eve Eve. However, I’m trying to be a better person, I’m trying to change this significant flaw in my personality and I thought putting together this little guide might help me do that, and who knows, maybe you’ll find it useful too?

I’ve compiled some ideas for babies, 3 year olds and the Mamas – cause that’s my life. I am not a fan of buying stuff for the sake of it, and I do try to buy things that are quality and have loosely based it around the idea of buying “Something they want, something they need, something they’ll wear, something they’ll read”. This year I will also try with the majority of gifts to ‘shop small’ and support independent as well as local business – this is something my Mum does very well, and always talks about saving our local shops, and she’s right – so I will try and do better. I have chucked in a few more high street bits because sometimes we need a wee bit of convenience!

shop small
Pic: @joannehawker

To The New Mum – 

Want: Family Photography

In the form of a Gillian Morton Photography voucher. What could be better than giving new Mum or parents a gift of captured memories? We did a photoshoot with Gillian when Scout was just a tiny baby and the pictures from it are so incredibly special. This is the kind of thing that new parents might find hard to justify financially, I mean, maternity pay is pretty rubbish for most and you just have other priorities. It’s something that is genuinely worth every penny and will be cherished a lifetime. Obviously, if you don’t live near Edinburgh, Gillian might not be the family photographer for you, but there are many many more. 

GMP
Pic: @gillian_morton

Want: Personalised Jewellery

I was so so fortunate to win a handcrafted Mobius Infinity bracelet from Soremi Jewellery which is personalised with the initials of both our babies – it’s beautiful and I get complimented on it loads. Ghazal has so many other beautiful pieces too at various price-points to find the perfect gift.

Soremi jewellery

I don’t wear a lot of jewellery, I like quite simple pieces, and for a while now I’ve been eyeing up some personalised bits from Lines and Current. My absolute favourite is the Dreamer pendant that you can get personalised with an initial and then add an additional initialed coin for second babies.

Lines & CurrentPic: @linesandcurrent

Need: Skin Care

Recently I’ve been [trying to] put aside more ‘me-time’, and a small part of that has been trying to introduce a strict skin care routine, which I’ve actually got quite into! I’ve found Nicola Dougan on Instagram to basically be a skin care Queen and have made a few purchases on her recommendation that have helped my skin. One of the biggest changes, for me, has been switching to a facial oil at night instead of a traditional moisturiser. I’ve been using Amaranthine and I’m also going to purchase it as a gift for… well, not going to tell ya who for incase they read this!

Pic: @amaranthine_skincare

My pal, Sarah, over at Brass Buttons and Confidence has been collaborating with L’Occitane and using their Overnight Reset Serum which looks amazing too! It’s not what you’d call cheap though, so it would make a lovely, luxurious gift to someone that really rates skincare… It’s something I might treat myself to after Christmas if I have any vouchers to spend!

On the other end of the scale, you can’t beat The Ordinary for great quality, budget stocking fillers starting at a fiver – my top picks are the Hyaluronic Acid and Glycolic Acid toner – I buy the majority of mine on ASOS as I’m a Premier member so get free next day delivery. Quids in.

The ordinary
Pic: @deciem

Need: Treatments

If you wanted to go one step further towards self-care goals – how about treating someone to a treatment? Whether that be a facial or a massage or even push the boat right out and get them a spa day! I’m pretty sure I don’t know a parent that wouldn’t LOVE a day at Stobo. It’s a real treat, and you could even offer to do the baby sitting while they go and use their voucher!? I always think experiences mean a lot more than ‘stuff’ (Amma right Kelly @Organised_motherhood_?!)

Wear: Mama Merch

Every new Mama needs at least some kind of merch, and my go-to is usually Mutha.Hood. She’s got your needs covered from amazing Strong Girls Club jumpers (that now come in new colours) to a little branded popsocket to stop you dropping your phone on your babies face #essential.

Pic: @mutha.hood

Wear: Jammies

Pj’s. Because maternity leave jammies are an essential. For those chilled days lounging, snuggling up sniffing your new baby while you binge watch boxsets on Netflix. Well, for those kinda perfect days, I’ve found kinda perfect jim jams and here they are – Sleepy Doe, and you can get them from Bunny.Hop! You’re WELCOME.

Pic: @bunnyhop.kids

However, if you’re on a tighter budget, and yeah it’s not quite ‘shopping small’, but ASOS have some ace pyjamas in just now! Including these polka dot beauties below that look mega comfy. They all come in around the £30 mark and they also do them in petite and plus size.

Pic: ASOS

Read: Book Club

If you’re looking for a stocking filler, a book is always a good place to start, however, a new parent might not have the time to read War and Peace, so how about The Little Book of Self Care for New Mums instead? A gentle reminder to be kind to themselves!

Pale Girl Rambling has written a wee review of it too! Have a read.

Pic: @palegirlrambling

To the Baby

Want: well, nothing…

Ok, so babies don’t really want for anything do they? But it might be nice to gift them something that they can grow into… not necessarily clothes though. How about a nice wooden toy instead? There are so many lovely independent shops selling beautifully crafted toys for babies including these lovely Plan toys from Bunnyhop, who is based in Edinburgh.

bunnyhop
pic: @bunnyhop.kids

I did also write a blog a wee while ago with a bit of a newborn essential list which could come in handy – check it out here!

Need: Nursery Decor

Instead of gifting a baby something for them to use, whether it be clothes or toys, why not think a little outside of the box and go for some kind of nursery decor? Admittedly this can be hard if you haven’t seen the room or if you’re unsure on taste, but there are so many cute little pieces out there that I’m sure most people would love. Mama.Tot, another Edinburgh based shop, has the best collection of interiors including the Liewood Mobile pictured below (pom poms are life) as well as beautiful blankets and cushions.

nursery decor

On the subject of textiles – bedding! Nice baby bedding is so so hard to come by, or at least that’s what I’ve found. Truth is though, a babies cot doesn’t need much, in fact, the safest thing is to have nothing but a cot sheet. Luckily, That Darling Brand makes the most beautiful ones in a variety of floral and unisex fabrics, ranging in size from Moses basket up to cot bed. We have ‘pickle’ (pictured below) and it’s such a great way to liven up the room with a bit of colour! They also come beautifully packaged and boxed which makes for a perfect gift.

Or, what about a nice personalised print? I love to mix a variety of styles and colours in any room with prints, using different style frames and hanging them on the wall as well as in picture shelves. My absolute favourite at the moment is anything from Eleanor Bowmer – her stuff is all the heart eyes, especially this one featured below which can be personalised and is pretty much nursery perfection. She also has some other great unisex designs including her unique leopards, mono space design and bestselling rainbow!

Pic: @eleanorbowmer

If personalised is what you’re after, I’d also highly recommend Three Penny! Making beautiful name prints in A4 and A3. The story behind the business is a really lovely one too. Oh, and there’s also an amazing limited edition release of Wonder Women flash cards – I’ve got them for Scout and can confirm that they are SO COOL! 😍

Pic: @three_penny

Need: Nappies

Well, these are definitely a need. A 10 times a day need. How about gifting some reusable cloth nappies? These can seem a bit of an investment for parents, so why not give a practical helping hand and kick start their collection… or, add to their existing collection all the while helping the environment. We’ve been using Bambino Mio Miosolo nappies for a while now and love them – they come in great patterns, and they sell other accessories too including muslin cloths and swaddles!

PS. I have it on good authority that they’ll be giving 25% off for Black Friday. I don’t usually subscribe to Black Friday deals because I worry they’re a bit of a con and just railroad you into buying stuff you don’t actually need – but on this occasion I make an exception, because it’s a genuinely great deal if you’re looking to gift any of the items or purchase for yourself!

Bambino Miosolo Nappy

Wear: Organic Zoo + Upcycling

I could list a hundred beautiful clothing brands that sell the dreamiest newborn clothes, but I’d be here all day. So instead I’m going to focus on two of my favourites – the shop Organic Zoo and the wonderful Maker Sophie & Co.

I’ve been a fan of Organic Zoo since Oscar was born, and now, Scout has quite a few pieces form them too. For great quality, unisex pieces, ethically produced in Europe at a really affordable price – they’re a great all rounder. The salopettes below are one of my favourite products, Scout had a pair when she was brand new and they were just beautiful… they also have a matching wrap top that we have and is beautiful on!

Organic ZooPic: @organiczoo

I discovered Sophie & Co a bit later – Scout has had a few pieces and I have more waiting for her to grow into and I love them all. Her designs are unisex, really classic and super versatile. However, what I really want to talk about is Sophie’s Upcyling project. You can now send her old clothes and fabrics from your own wardrobe to be fashioned into pieces for your littles! Jeans can be come bloomers and your partners shirts can become rompers (like Scout’s below)! It’s a great way of creating a personal item and it’s also great for the environment as it’s reducing waste. It just makes it extra special! There’s loads of examples over on her Instagram!

Read: From The Cat in the Hat To Amelia Earhart

I have a love of children’s books, there’s nothing better than a beautifully illustrated board book (before it gets chewed). For babies, illustrated books can also be a lovely decorative addition to a nursery, and then as they grow, it’s so lovely to find a story that they enjoy. The following list is a mixture of books for babies and toddlers and beyond. Including a few non-fiction books that Oscar in particular loves! For ease I have linked them to Amazon, but shop around – there are so many beautiful and local independent book stores including Golden Hare Books in Stockbridge that would love the support.

Our Favourites-

To the 3 Year Old

Want: A Really Cool Toy! (But it’s not plastic)

So, babies don’t really want for anything but the same can’t be said for a three year old really, can it? I know I’m wanting to get Oscar something that he’ll really love and I can’t wait to see his face light up with a cool toy. But you don’t have to bankrupt yourself (and kill the environment) bulk buying plastic from Amazon. There’s some really cool gifts out there that will help you support a local indy business, and for this section, that business is Bon Tot – another amazing Edinburgh store based in Stockbridge! Aside from all their awesome clothing brands as well as amazing vintage finds, they are also selling some awesome toys and gifts this Christmas – from retro Sonny Angels to the coolest Des Enfantillages slingshots and bow & arrow – I’ve never seen anything like them anywhere else!

Pic: @bon_tot

Something else I’ve thought about putting together for Oscar is a dressing up rail or box. This is also a great gift that family and friends can add to. Plus, if you have more than one child – they can all get involved! I technically didn’t ‘shop small’ for this and I actually picked some pieces up in the supermarket sales after Halloween. Meri Meri also do some great accessories but I would love to add some Fable Heart pieces over time. They make the dreamiest wands, crowns and capes that would be a perfect addition to any child’s dress up box and a beautiful gift, suitable for a variety of ages.

Pic: @fable.heart

Need: shoes

So, shoes probably aren’t the most exciting thing for a three year old, BUT, their wee feet grow so fast! I know I feel like I’m constantly buying new shoes for Oscar, so an alternative gift could be a voucher for new shoes when required. This could be for an independent local show shop, or for a bigger high street store depending on preference. It’s the practical gift that a parent might appreciate more than the child!

Need: an activity

Parents need this – time. Time to get stuff done. In my experience, the best way to buy some time is to set up some craft activities for Oscar to play with independently. A craft box is also a really cost-effective present to put together!

You don’t need to buy anything fancy and pre-packed. Instead, why not pick up an IKEA storage tub and fill it with some bits and bobs collected from pound shops and even around the house like –

  • Pom poms
  • a wee set of child scissors
  • glue stick
  • some glitter
  • off cuts of wrapping paper or cards
  • paint brushes
  • a few crayons
  • Googly eyes
  • straws
  • pipe cleaners
  • Or use a craft punch to create some confetti from leaflets, packaging and magazines – reuse + recycle and all that jazz!

Not only is this easy to do and great value but you can also customise it to suit the child’s interests, favourite colours and make it as big or compact as you like. It’s a really versatile gift for all ages!

Pic: Pinterest

Wear: Homegrown Brands + Makers

This is where it gets fun because there are so many independent brands out there making some amazing kids clothes! I’ve narrowed it down to four that I love, have bought from in the past, and will buy from again.

First up – Wex Baby – the coolest T-shirt’s and sweatshirts out there lovingly designed and printed by hand . Basically, every kid needs an item of clothing with Pepe on it (PS. They also come in matching adult sizes in some items!). Oscar has a jumper (below) and a gazillion washes later – it’s still going strong & so so soft!

They have also released a tote bag and an amazing canvas kids backpack which looks mega cute and helps support The Fostering Network – I’m thinking it would make a great wee change bag or nursery or swimming bag for toddlers!

Next up – some unisex personalised tees and sweats from BOB The Brand. Initialled goodies in the coolest mono animal print. I got Scout an initialled T-shirt and Oscar a birthday T-shirt and both are brilliant quality and all designed and handprinted in Manchester! They’ve recently released some new pieces too that are lovely, oh, and they also do adult sizes, so you can twin. What more could you want?!

Pic: @bobthebrand

And lastly, you might want to get some leggings to go with these t-shirts and sweatshirts and for the best prints, quality fabrics, perfect fit, beautifully handmade and great value, hands down, the best leggings I’ve ever found are from The Cotton Barn. I bought Oscar’s first pair when he was around 6 months old and have lost count of how many I’ve had since! They are perfect for boys and girls, babies through to child. My favourite print at the moment is Animal (both Oscar and Scout have leggings in it)

Pic: @thecottonbarn

I could have added SO many more shops and brands to this list but I doubt you’d have made it to the end, so I’ll leave it at this. I hope it’s given you some inspiration. I know I don’t go daft at Christmas, I would rather buy small and buy smart – quality items that will last the kids and luxury items for the adults that they may not buy for themselves.

Also, just be bloody responsible, yeah? Christmas is a great time of year, but it’s definitely not worth getting into a complete faff over or worse, ending up in debt. Giving can feel great, but equally, your time is more important – spend it with your family, friends and loved ones. Take the kids to see the Christmas lights, not everything has to revolve around spending. We’ll also be donating toys to charity before Christmas, so that other little girls and boys get gifts. We will also be donating to a local food bank. Oscar’s childminder did this with all her minded kids last year and they went with her to drop it all off and I thought it was a great idea. Stuff is stuff, don’t get hung up on it. But if you can, and you want to – supporting local businesses and makers really will make their day!

I’d love to hear what your favourite shops are, I’m always on the look out!

And lastly, MERRY CHRISTMAS WHEN IT COMES!

lou x

[Trying to] Save the planet, one nappy at a time! [AD]

Bambino Miosolo Nappy

Bambino Miosolo Nappy

Waste, Waste Everywhere…

Last month we (finally) moved house after a rather stressful few months. We moved into a new build and quickly realised we hadn’t ordered our wheelie bins… not an ideal situation for a family of four. There’s nothing like packing your dirty bin bags into a car to take them to landfill every few days to open your eyes to the amount of waste you have. It’s scary.

There are many aspects of our lives that we’ve tried to reduce waste, some little changes, some a little bigger. From declining straws at McDonald’s when we treat Oscar (read: treat ourselves) after his swimming lesson to being strict about the number of toys, particularly of the plastic variety, we have in the house. In fact, Oscar has very few toys really – but that’s a post for another day…

Luckily since Oscar stepped into his “big boy pants” a number of months ago, we’ve gone back down to one baby in nappies, but that’s still a hell of a lot of nappies! So it was the perfect time to start fresh and really get into using some cloth once and for all!

When Oscar was quite young I took an interest in trying cloth nappies, and I remember asking a girl I was pally with on Instagram that used them for advice and she sent me a huge list of stuff I needed to buy and instructions on how to go about it all. I won’t lie, I was completely overwhelmed, and just couldn’t get my head around it all or know where to start so I sort of just floated on, doing our thing with disposables.

Again, before we had Scout it crossed my mind and I was keen to try them after we got past the newborn phase (ya know, when they’re pooing 6000 times a day?). It wasn’t long after we started weaning Scout that Bambino Mio got in touch to ask if we’d like to review their Miosolo system and I jumped at the opportunity.

I’m pleased to tell you it’s a simple all-in-one nappy. So no list of stuff you need! PHEW!

Going Cloth!

As I said, I was worried about the logistics and the stuff involved with cloth, but the Miosolo all-in-one system makes it really easy!

The Kit

This is my full nappy kit. Nope, I don’t have buckets of towels steeping for days on end in sterilising fluid! Instead I have –

Three Miosolo nappies – the all in one nappy system means the absorbent core is attached to the outer nappy shell and just pulls out for washing (more on this later!)

A roll of nappy liners – these are optional! You can sit them inside the nappy to catch poos 👀 I reckon these are more useful once weaning starts and they definitely help reduce the mess. They are also compostable, so we’ll probably do that now we have our garden waste bin! But as I say, you don’t need to use these.

Miofresh Nappy Cleanser – I already had a big tub of this that I bought from Amazon as I find it’s a great stain remover while also being really kind on sensitive skin. You don’t have to wash your nappies in this, and sometimes I forget, but it’s definitely worth having to get them a good thorough cleanse every so often. I tend to wash them at 30 degrees on a quick 45 minute stain removing cycle our machine has and I’ve not had any issues. They can also been tumble dried on a cool setting, but I prefer to let them air dry naturally – and find they dry really quick!

Mioboost booster pad – handy for when you need a little bit more protection, for example, overnight. You can pick a 3-pack of these up cheap on Amazon. We just have the one and haven’t felt the need to use it that often but if your baba is a big pee’er then they’re probably worry an investment. Especially as they get older I reckon!

How To

As mentioned before, this nappy is an all-in-one, so it doesn’t come apart like others on the market. For me, this was perfect as it seemed really easy to get to grips with.When soiled (soz) I just tip out anything that’s in it (or the liner if using one) and then pull out the absorbent pad using one of the wee tabs. I then have a little plastic box on top of my washing machine that I place it in. Of course you could purchase one of the special buckets of you wanted, it’s only £20, and I probably will once I purchase more nappies, but at the moment, I just have the three so it’s not a big deal.

Unlike in days gone by though, there’s no need for the nappies to soak in sterilising fluid etc while in these buckets. I was still under the impression that was the done thing and it all sounded a bit full on! But no need for any of that with these.

Then I usually just chuck the three dirties in a dedicated wash with a scoop of cleanser in the evening. Once they’re dry the pad just pushes back inside the nappy and that’s it. Done! Easy peasy!

Bambino Miosolo Nappy

But why?

So what are the pros?

Well, let’s start with the obvious – they’re kinder on the planet, and that’s a big deal. Every time you use a cloth nappy, that’s one less going to landfill that’ll take 200-500 years to decompose… even if you only use one a day over the course of a year… or the 2-3 years they’re in nappies, it adds up!

As shown above, poppers and velcro easily adjust the nappy to fit your baby from newborn – potty training. if you’re organised enough you could get through years with a handful of cloth nappies and that is saving a whole load of pennies. Disposable nappies are expensive and the average child uses 11,640 of them… yup, over eleven and a half thousand! We use Pampers, and worked that out to be a cost of about £1629 – that’s money I could be spending on ASOS. So where cloth nappies seem like a bit of an outlay upfront, and they are, I get it, the savings are phenomenal, plus they can be used for subsequent babies, or passed onto friends – reuse, reuse, reuse!

Proof of the pudding is in the eating though, or in this case, the pooing… We’ve not had any issues with leaks or soaking through bar the very first time I used them, and I’m certain that was my incompetence at putting them on, coupled with the fact I hadn’t washed them (more on this later). Thankfully, even when we’ve used them through the night with a booster pad she’s remained dry despite being in the nappy 12 hours which is impressive for any nappy.

Bambino Miosolo Nappy

Plus, they are SO soft. Ridiculously soft and kind on little bums. We’re lucky that (so far, touching wood…) Scout doesn’t suffer nappy rash or had any reactions to nappies, but I know plenty of babies and toddlers that have, so for them I reckon cloth would a great choice.

Oh, and they look great. I mean, they’re mega cute and have lots of amazing prints. And I know that’s not the point, but, it makes them more exciting to use. Ours are from the rainforest range and I can’t wait to add to our collection.

PS. I’ve seen them reduced on Amazon fairly often – have a look!

Where’s the downside? Is there one?

There were a few things that I found a bit of a challenge, although I wouldn’t necessarily call them cons –

Although they are SO cute, they can be a bit bulky under some clothing, namely leggings. But on the whole, this wasn’t a big deal, especially using them in the house when I’m usually too busy to even dress my kids properly.

I’ll admit though, it could be a bit of a challenge out and about, mainly due to my minimalist parenting and my disdain for changing bags. I’ve never had one. Instead, I tend to take a disposable nappy and half a pack of wipes in a wee pouch in my hand bag when we go out. So on that front, cloth was a bit bulky to carry about with me. This only really posed a problem when we were out a whole day and required a few changes – in a those situations, I’d tend to just to stick to taking a few disposables with me, and I’m ok with that! I never set out to be die hard, I wanted them to fit in with our day to day and they have!

Lastly, yes, there is a financial outlay at the offset. And yes, it is in itself significant. I’ve mentioned above about how much money you can save, but buying a pack of nappies in the big big shop every few weeks doesn’t have as much of a sting as dishing out a few hundred pounds, that’s true. My advice would be don’t go all out. Buy a few and the essentials (booster and cleaner) and see how you get on. I have a modest ‘kit’ and still manage to use them effectively and make a change… now that I’ve trialled and like them, I’d be tempted to get a few more.

Someone asked me a very good question on Instagram last night (thanks Kim) – “How many do I need to do it properly?” – the answer is, I’m not sure,but I couldn’t fully convert to cloth with three. I think you would need at least 8… but maybe more if you were using them from day one. The Miosolo Premium Birth to Potty Pack (£249) contains 15, but also come with all the extras. I think if you wanted to fully convert it would be a worthwhile investment… and still save you money in the long run!

Bambino Miosolo Nappy

Top Cloth Tips

So, we’re a few months down the line now, and I wanted to use them for this long before writing a post to see how they’ve worked over time and where I’m still definitely no cloth expert, there have been a few lessons along the way. So here are what I believe to be some top tips for if you decide to take the plunge and ditch the disposables –

Get into a routine – if not, you’ll run out. and go back to disposables. I’ve done this a few times. I have three nappies, and I definitely think I’ll invest in a few more so that I don’t have to keep on top of washing them so often! I’m not the most diligent in this area… just ask Robin, he may not wear nappies, but he often runs out of boxers…

Get them outside! – Yes, they can be dried on a cool tumble setting, but I found it better to get them outside, obviously it’s better for the environment, but I also found the sunlight helps bleach any staining etc and keeps them fresh and soft!

Wash them before use – It helps with absorbency – DUH… I didn’t know this. They arrived, I chucked one straight on, and pee seemed to leak out it really quickly. Since they’ve been washed this has never repeated itself. Also, don’t use fabric softener for the same reason.

Check on Amazon – I am the Queen Of Prime and Bambino Mio stuff is often on special buy. For example – At the moment the Miosolo nappies are £13.50, but I have seen them as cheap as £10.99 on Prime Day. I wanna buy this one next, and fancy getting a bucket as mentioned before and maybe even a wet bag too, to help me when we’re out and about.

Bambino Miosolo Nappy

Cloth Convert

All in all, I think I can say I’m a cloth convert. I’ve really enjoyed using them, they’ve fitted in well with our daily routine. I like that I’m doing a little something to help out our planet, but equally, I don’t kick myself if I use a disposable when I’m out. I’m saving money and that’s only ever a positive thing, because kids are expensive, and there’s always something you need. In the interest of full disclosure, I want to let you know that Bambino Mio gifted me these nappies. I was under no obligation to share but the views expressed above are my own – I am genuinely enjoying the experience and have and will be making further purchases to our cloth collection!

I’d love to hear about your experiences with cloth nappies. Or, if you’re thinking about trying them and not sure, please please fire me some questions, I’m no expert but I will try and help the best I can! There’s a huge cloth community out there, would you liek to be part of it? Why not give it a shot?!

Let’s do our bit to save the planet, one nappy at a time!

Lou x

Scout @ 6 Months

baby scout feet

6 months of you

Where has the time gone? It seems like just yesterday that we welcomed our little 7lb bundle into the world and completed our little family.

It’s not always been easy… at times, it’s been the hardest thing in the world… But Scout has made it an absolute pleasure.

The past few months have been stressful, with a house move still looming over our heads I hoped that by now we might be able to finally get excited about our new home but at every turn something has managed to go wrong! Maybe by the time she hits the less notable milestone of 7 months we’ll be a step closer…!

Scout Zelda Rose

  • Loves to laugh
  • Loves singing, dancing and getting a fright
  • Still has no teeth but been chewing like mad since day 1 – who knows when they’ll appear!
  • Occasional thumb sucker
  • She sleeps so well – and I think I’m allowed to breath a sigh of relief since Oscar was a complete sleep thief!
  • We have just started weaning and I’m trying to feel excited, but feeling sad at the end of yet another “baby phase”
  • Penchant for playing Duplo with her bro… even if he still isn’t mad on sharing.
  • Captain Calamari is life
  • Completed her first level swimming and seems to love the water!
  • Experienced her first two flights – to London & back

It has been so special to watch our little baby grow and start to develop her own little personality, but I’d be lying if I said it hadn’t been bittersweet.

I think with your first baby everything is so new and exciting that you’re always looking forward to “the next milestone”. I wouldn’t say I wished Oscar’s time away, but I was blissfully unaware of how fleeting every stage would be. So with Scout I have found myself clinging onto every stage, willing it to last just another day. Savouring cuddles where I can get them and keeping her up later than I ever did with Oscar.

Onto the next chapter

Those newborn days were over in the blink of an eye and when I think back I do feel sad despite being so excited to get to know the determined little human she’s growing into – and I think that’s ok.

I mean, Oscar turns three next month and it doesn’t seem that long ago that he was Scout’s age! Anyway, here’s to her next six months and squeezing the most cuddles, smile, giggles, adventures and memories out of my maternity leave. 🧡

Lou x

Motherhood: Levelling up in London

Taking the Plunge

This weekend I travelled down to London, solo, to see one of my dearest friends. She hadn’t had a chance to meet Scout yet, and it was proving difficult for her to find a date she was able to get back up to Scotland. So on a bit of a whim, I decided instead to book a flight down to London to see her instead.

I booked it, and told everyone that asked that I was really looking forward to it and it would all be brilliant. And I was really looking forward to it – spending time with one of my oldest friends and exploring more of a city, that previously I’d only actually been to twice… but I was also worrying a bit (maybe more than a “bit”)…

You see, I don’t think I’d ever have done this with Oscar when he was a baby. Generally, I’m not a worrier, but I’m not sure I had the confidence as a first time Mum to a six month old to take the plunge and go it alone on a solo trip. I think it would all have been just a bit too scary.

However, I’ve spoken before about how in some ways I feel like a “different mother” second time round. So I decided I’d just go for it and push myself out of my comfort zone.

As last week rolled round I did start to get a bit nervous. We went on a wee outing to pick strawberries in the week and Scout was on such poor form. Screaming in the carrier and generally just being a massive grump which gave me the FEAR. It did not bode well for our trip considering I was only planning on taking the carrier. No pram.

I think I’m a fairly relaxed person, and mostly, I feel confident in my parenting even if a vast majority of it is definitely filed under the heading “winging it”, but man, I’d be lying if I said I don’t get stressed out sometimes, especially when it comes to crying. That, coupled with the fact of be completely on my own with no one to take turns with if things turned tricky was scary.

The reality was, as ever, nowhere near as scary as I had thought! Ok, so the 4am start wasn’t ideal and as a result, Scout was a wee bit grumpy but that’s where the carrier comes into its own – for sleeping. Sitting on the runway for an hour before we took off also wasn’t ideal… but I survived. At the other end the public transport was seamless and I was sitting on Jess’ sofa by 10.30am.

Preparation was Key

I packed light… very light! I took one little Kanken rucksack. It was more than enough for two nights for both of us. I dwindled my list down to the essentials – an outfit for each day for Scout and the same for me. I wore my bulkier items of jeans and a jumper, although, turns out I definitely didn’t need them in the 32 degree heat of the Capital!

I also packed smart. I had 4 nappies and half a pack of wipes in my trusty Mutha.Hood pouch for the journey and asked my friend to buy me a small pack to use while I was down there. I also borrowed most of my toiletries – cause ya know, what are friends for?! A large muslin, ie. the most versatile baby product of all time, (this one is one of my favourites from Book of Deer) packs smaller than a changing mat, and is perfect for changing, wiping up any sick, using as a wee sun cover or blanket etc.

I also took an extra wee pouch that I kept all my travel essentials in for easy access – passport, boarding pass, phone, some cash and my card. That way I didn’t have to keep taking my backpack on and off to get stuff in and out. If I had been super duper organised I’d have actually bought a little karabiner to hook it onto the baby carrier… I thought about this at the airport on the way home, and I’m gonna get one for future use!

Wear that Baby!

The thought of navigating London transport with a pram brought me out in a sweat, so I decided to just take the carrier, but this came with it’s own worries. It was really hot in London and I was worried about Scout or me, overheating. It also didn’t seem the ideal way to be able to enjoy a meal. As with my packing though, I was keen to travel with as little stuff as possible and the carrier meant I was able to do this. I have a few carriers and I chose to take our Connecta. It was the first time I’d used it but I would highly recommend it as a holiday carrier. It’s nice and light but with good support and really easy to get on and off by yourself – even in the confines of an EasyJet plane seat!

No Pressure

Just have fun! We had ideas of stuff we could do, but it was all really relaxed and we didn’t put any pressure on ourselves to see or do loads over the two days. We stopped in parks when we needed to let Scout out the carrier and stretch, kick and feed and we stuck to the shade when we needed to.

I can be bad for piling pressure on myself sometimes when it comes to doing things. I build days out or activities up in my own head, and then feel like I’ve failed a bit if they don’t go exactly to plan, but it’s taken me a while to learn that sometimes… or even a lot of the time… things don’t always go to plan where kids are involved, and that’s ok.

Levelled Up

I ended up having the best time, I’m so glad I did it… and actually wish I’d done it sooner, or even with Oscar when he was little. I know that I’ve not scaled Everest blindfolded, but still, I’m proud of myself, and I think that’s ok!

There’s been quite a few points recently that I’ve felt a bit bogged down by everything. Parenting two littles has felt like a bit of a slog. As expected, having two has come with a whole host of new challenges, and quite often I’ve felt a bit defeated. This weekend has given me the wee confidence boost I needed. It’s left me feeling refreshed, and reassured me that maybe I’m doing alright after all.

Huge shout out to my wonderful friend for letting me stay with her and making the weekend so great – for picking Scout up when she cried, playing with her to give me some peace and most importantly, holding her while I ate my ramen! We even got to enjoy Love Island together in person rather than over WhatsApp.

I feel like I’ve levelled up and I’ve earned a new badge for my ‘parenting sash’. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think this one little trip has earned me Superwoman status, you might be reading this thinking “I do that all the time, big deal!” But parenting can sometimes feel relentless and can be a thankless task and I think we should always celebrate the wins big and small because that little pick me up can set us back on the right path and remind us that we’re doing more than just surviving!

I’d love to hear about the badges that you’ve earned. Is there any feat you’ve undertaken big or small that has given you a much needed parenting boost?

I mean… even just changing a baby in a plane toilet deserves a medal – amma right?!

Lou x

3 Reasons to Join Turtle Tots [AD]

Turtle Tots

Turtle Tots

In April, when Scout was 3 months old, we were invited along to try out level one of Turtle Tots. There are classes held all over the city on every day of the week. We chose to swim on a Wednesday morning at Damhead as this is the day that Oscar’s in his childminder, so I thought it was be a nice way to start our day together!

Oscar started swimming at around the same age, so I knew it was something I was keen to start with Scout as well and I wasn’t disappointed!

But what’s the deal? What makes Turtle Tots different to just taking your baby to the pool yourself? What are he benefits?

Why should you join Turtle Tots? Well, I’m gonna tell ya!

1. Safety Skills

Swimming is an invaluable life skill for kids to learn early and at the heart of this is safety in and around water. Staying safe is at the core of everything Turtle Tots teaches both parents and littles. From stepping into the pool for the first class you learn the safe way to get yourself and baby in and out of the pool – because let’s face it, when they get wet they’re like wee slippy fish…! You learn the best way to hold them to keep them safe should you slip and by the end of the 10 weeks we had also started to teach babies how to hold on when brought towards the pool edge. Even at such a young age, I could see Scout starting to follow these cues.

The classes get babies used to being in the water, at first, close to you, and then, as they begin to gain confidence, further away from the parent, letting them explore the water more and go for swims with the instructor.

On a side note: Our teacher was Jen and she was absolutely brilliant! Funny, friendly and knew exactly what she was doing. This created such a calm and encouraging environment for us all. So important because taking a wee tiny baby into the water can be quite daunting. I was somewhat used to this given it was second time round, however, I remember being terrified with Oscar! Every new skill is reinforced and then progressed in each lesson so I always came away from a class feeling that I’d learnt something new.

As a child I was a keen swimmer and on holidays I spent 90% of my time in the swimming pool and it, and for us as a family, it was important to instil these safety skills in both of our children, not least for going on holiday. Now, we know never to let our children out of our sight around a pool on holiday, but as parents, we’re also all too aware of how quickly things can happen. In a blink of an eye, a toddler can speed off. I remember quite vividly when I was little, my dad diving into a swimming pool to rescue a young girl that had got into trouble while playing in a busy pool as she just wasn’t as confident as she could have been in the water. So knowing that from a young age Scout will be able to get to the surface and hold on confidently is invaluable.

2. Fun!

Safety is at the heart of why Turtle Tots teach, but, the classes are also a LOT of fun!

Having dedicated one-to-one time was so important and I really looked forward to our Wednesday morning lesson. The close physical contact strengthens the bond between parent and baby and promotes their metal development.

Over the course of the chapter, you learn cues along with you baby. Through various techniques, your instructor encourages you to tune into your babies reactions and read their cues in the water. They learn to ‘hold their breath’ and by the end of the chapter, even at just 5 months I could see Scout reacting to a variety of cues that we had learnt – it really is impressive!

The techniques learned with floats and with songs are all transferable and can be recreated on holiday rather than just being stuck bobbing about the pool with a little baby – slightly unsure what to do with them (I remember this being the case the first time we took Oscar swimming before we started lessons!)

3. Keeping Active

well, we know that keeping active is important. I’d be exaggerating slightly if I told you that Turtle Tots is a work out, but, it is a great way to start getting active again after giving birth. It’s a gentle way to get back into exercise, and it does work those arm muscles a fair bit too!

Although it’s not quite a ‘work out’ when they’re just babies, I speak from experience when I say it get’s a bit more energetic the older they get which is great and a lot of fun.

In addition to the mental development swimming promoted through close contact, bonding and sensory elements, swimming is also great for your babies physical development. Being moved about the water is like having a massage for them and activities are designed to promote coordination and strengthen muscles.

What’s more, Scout always had a substantial nap after her lesson – but i don’t think this is a guarantee!

What are my Top Tips to ace Turtle Tots

  1. Don’t be put off if baby cries, they all have off days! On our second lesson, Scout cried for most of it and it was a bit disheartening, but we still went back the following week and she was fine thereafter. Persevere – it’s all so new to them, and it can be a bit of sensory overload, so hold them close, comfort them with lots of cuddles and don’t worry. The instructor will have seen it all before, maybe even with their own kids!
  2. Teach your partner! Or even get them to come along and watch to see what’s involved. It’s a great activity to share as a family so teach everyone what you’ve learnt – that way you can help each other out, especially if you’re on holiday! We have some great GoPro footage of Oscar swimming underwater on holiday with both of us, and it’s something I can’t wait to do with Scout too. But it’s not something either of us would have had the confidence to do without classes.
  3. This is a practical one – wear your swimming costume under your clothes to the class. That way it’s easy to get ready quickly and jump in the pool. Turtle Tots were great and supplied changing mats and a playpen for the kids but, ya know what it’s like, they can still get a bit ratty especially when tired after a full on lesson so I always tried to wear easy clothes that I could chuck back on. No one wants to be squeezing damp legs into super skinny jeans at the side of a pool in ten million degree heat…

Lastly, just have fun and enjoy it! Don’t worry about drowning your baby, they’ll be fine… but also don’t wear mascara or that will end in disaster!

Please note: I was offered this course free of charge in return for a review – but all views expressed are my own. I will be continuing with Scout’s swimming! x

Baby Massage with Claire Houston [ad]

Claire Houston Baby & Child Massage

[Please Note: I was offered a place in the class free of charge in return for a review. BUT ALL VIEWS ARE MY OWN!]

Baby Massage - Edinburgh

Join a class, any class…

I remember being a new mum with Oscar and thinking that I had to join some sort of class, any class. It was a right of passage to sign up to some sort of activity and go along and “make some Mum friends”. So I signed up to Baby Sensory and I’ll admit, I didn’t really enjoy it. I found it a bit boring. I had grand ideas that it would be centred around messy play and really interactive. But it wasn’t. We sat in a circle and sang some nursery rhymes (to which I was the only fool that didn’t know ANY of the words) and well, yeah, I could have gone on Pinterest and done it myself… and saved £70.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking Baby Sensory – I’ve no doubt at all that there are much better ones out there but it put me off this kind of class. I didn’t want to waste my money again. Instead I wanted to do a class that I could get some enjoyment out of too.

Claire Houston Baby Massage

I started looking at alternative activities to do with Scout after she was born and decided I would try Baby Massage as a few of my friends had recommended it after doing it with their little ones.

Then, when she was just two months old I was lucky enough to be invited along to start a course with Claire Houston Baby Massage at her lovely home in Roslin.

Five weeks down the line and I’m delighted to share a wee review of Claire’s classes, but I must say, I’m a bit sad that we’ve finished!

On the Wednesday morning of our first class, I dropped Oscar off at his childminder and off I went with Scout to Roslin. As a second child, I’m all too aware that she doesn’t always get the one on one time that her brother was afforded as a baby. She spends a lot more time being laid on a playmat while Oscar and I paint/duplo/argue (jokes, kinda), and where he got dedicated tummy time and the likes, Scout is all to often popped into her wrap so that we’re able to get things done.

Because of this I felt really passionate about getting some one on one time with her and doing an activity rather than spending our time just the two of us watching Netflix and eating chocolate while her brother went to his childminder.

Claire runs classes on various days in different venues and I opted for the one that was run from her beautiful home in Roslin. My class was quite an small one with only 3 other sets of mums and babies ranging from a few weeks older than Scout to 9 months old.

I quickly realised, the class would be a lot whole lot more than solely learning the International Association of Infant Massage course. Alongside learning the techniques of baby massage the class offered an array of other skills.

“I hope to empower parents and give them the confidence to massage their babies daily to experience the delights of nurturing touch and pre-language communication with their infant.” – Claire Houston

Relaxation + Wellbeing 

There is a strong focus on wellbeing. Claire taught us various techniques for relaxing ourselves as well as our babies – after all, Happy Mum = Happy Baby. We all know that parenting is tough and it reminded me that sometimes we need to do something for ourselves as well!

Claire also incorporates a few readings, Yes Mum cards and general discussion topics into her class. It was such a lovely way of getting a good chat with some like minded people while eating some delicious home baking!

Baby Massage - Edinburgh

Laid Back Learning 

Importantly the classes are very laid back.

I’ll admit that when I was a first time Mum I sometimes found heading out with a newborn a bit daunting, and maybe it’s part of the reason I avoided classes. I would worry that Oscar would scream the place down, or that I’d need to abandon an activity to feed him. Looking back, I realise how silly that sounds, he was just being a baby, but it was all so new and a bit scary – as I wrote last month, I do feel like I’m a Different Mother this time round, but regardless – this is not something anyone would have to worry about in Claire’s class.

From the outset, the classes are ‘Baby Led’ and we were encouraged to read our babies cues and follow their lead throughout the classes – to stop for a break when needed, to feed if required and sometimes just to leave babies to sleep (Scout often dozed off before the end of the class – typical) – there was never any pressure to try and make the babies conform – I mean, they’re babies, i.e. unpredictable AF!

Tailored To You

One of the things I absolutely loved about the class was how Claire seemed to seamlessly adapt her teaching to suit us as a group – I was not surprised to find out after completing the course that Claire is a trained and experienced teacher!

As 3 out of 4 of us had toddlers at home, as well as a baby, Claire made a point of giving us ideas of how to incorporate massage into our daily routines with both children, including ways of adapting massage into bedtime routines and story massage as well as using it to help the bonding between siblings.

All of this was backed up by Claire’s personal anecdotes of how she uses massage with all three of her own children. It was lovely to hear how it can become a big part of your day to day life and so much more than just an hour and a half class for a few weeks.

On a slightly more practical note – the classes are super flexible! For the last session of the course I was double booked and I was able to tag along with another class on a day that suited better. We all know kids can throw multiple spanners in the works when it comes to sickness and the likes – so it’s good to know you’ll always be able to pick up any class you’ve had to miss.

IAIM Course

Now, of course, along with all these ‘extras’ you’re learning brilliant tried and tested Baby Massage techniques! I won’t go into too much detail (you need to join the class and find out for yourself), but over the five week course you learn a new body part each week, culminating in full body massage. The massage strokes covered have been developed from ancient traditions in massage, influenced by reflexology and yoga, and supported by modern scientific research.

Plus, the benefits are huge, and some of them surprised me –

  • relieves pain from teething, ear ache, grow pains and muscular tension.
  • relieves tension
  • helps ease excess mucus
  • can help babies who are hypersensitive or hyperactive
  • can help soften skin and improve skin conditions like eczema
  • boosts circulation
  • improves immune system
  • helps develop coordination and balance
  • many advantages in terms of cognitive development such as language development
  • stimulates connections between nerve cells
  • promotes body and mind awareness
  • promotes growth and weight gain
  • promotes muscular development and increases flexibility
  • reduction in stress hormone production
  • reduces crying
  • promotes secure attachment
  • helps develop love, empathy, tolerance and respect

And that’s just some of the benefits for baby! I also learned that parents who practice baby massage will find their own stress levels reduce and they can feel relaxed. Apparently parents sleep quality can improve too!

Importantly, baby massage helps to develop a greater understanding of your baby and thus we learn to better read our baby’s unique cues. Parent’s can feel more confident and see their self esteem improve, Claire has even told me that this is something that she’s seen develop in front of her eyes as a five week course progresses!

Baby Massage - Edinburgh

Upcoming Classes

Honestly, I’d recommend this class to every new mum. Since completing Claire’s Baby Massage course, I’ve continued to use the techniques I’ve learned at home on both Scout and with Oscar – so that says it all really! It’s so much more than a way to pass some time & get out the house with your baby. You’re learning a new skill but also a way of communication and bonding with your new baby, not to mention some serious quality time! I’m even considering joining one of the follow on classes available as I’d love to learn even more. Oh, and Claire also runs one-off classes for Dad’s to learn an overview of the course!

If you’re interested in joining Claire for a class, she has a new block starting soon with classes on –

Thursdays – 12.45-2.15 @ Turtle Dove Cafe in Edinburgh (starting 19th April)

Fridays – 10.30-12.00 @ Penicuik Library (starting 20th April)

Wednesdays – 10-11.30 @ Glencorse Centre (starting 2nd May)

Also, starting 2nd May are new follow-on classes for babies who’ve already attended baby massage classes (10.40-11.40 @ Glencorse Centre) and last but not least another Dad’s class will be scheduled in June around Father’s Day!

There’s loads more info on Claire’s website and I’d urge you to get in touch with her if you require any further info!

Suzy Snooze – Review [ad]

Please note: the Suzy Snooze was gifted to me by the lovely folks at BleepBleeps!

Suzy Snooze by BleepBleeps

Gadgets… I love ’em.

A gadget to help your toddler sleep better and give you a lie-in? SIGN ME UP.

I hadn’t heard of the Snoozy Suzy before and I’m surprised, because she is right up our street.

The Snoozy Suzy by BleepBleeps has the functions of multiple baby products – a smart nightlight, sleep soother and monitor – all rolled into one contemporary, toddler friendly design.

Night Night

The nightlight function provides a warm orange glow that helps to promote sleep while providing the option to also play soothing music to get the child ready for bedtime.

Now, I’ll admit, I’m quite strict when it comes to our bedtime routine and for Oscar. I’ve always found it to be important to keep it consistent to maximise his sleep quality, so I was a bit dubious about introducing something new at two and a half to our nightly military operation routine.

I needn’t have worried, she’s been a welcomed addition! Oscar switches Suzy on, by pushing down her hat, after bath while he gets his jammies on and she gives us more than enough soothing light to read bedtime stories. In actual fact, I’ve found the light a lot better than the IKEA lamp we used before which was SO bright! After his book(s) we push back down on Suzy’s hat to turn the music off on it and he knows it’s time for bed as the light dims and “Suzy goes to sleep”.

Suzy Snooze by BleepBleeps review

A Bit Of Fancy Tech

As I said, I love a bit of tech, so was a wee bit excited when I realised Suzy could be controlled by my phone via an app (Apple & Android).

This is especially handy for the lie-in function. similar to the concept of a GroClock you can set a time via the app for Suzy to “wake up” in the morning so your toddler knows when it’s ok to get out of bed.

Admittedly, we’re lucky, Oscar very rarely wakes before 8am and we usually leave him in bed until just before 9am. However, he’s still in his cot and therefore can’t escape anywhere! I think when we transition him to his “big boy bed” within the next few months, this function will come in really handy to teach him when it’s ok to get up. I think it’ll help make the transition a lot easier!

The device also acts as a monitor that you can listen to through the phone app. When Oscar was very little I wanted a video monitor to keep an eye on him, but now he’s older, I’m happy with just the audio function – but I’d say that’s worth bearing in mind if you’re buying it to use for a baby!

On a side note: we live in an old house with thick walls and the WiFi on the Suzy has worked perfectly – a big plus for us!

Suzy Snooze by BleepBleeps reviewWhat’s more, it looks great, I mean really great. And the quality is brilliant. The Suzy Snooze feels weighty and well made and a bit funky. The design is suitable from baby to toddler to child as it isn’t too “kiddy” looking while still being engaging for young children.

However, I feel that there is room for improvement in one area in particular and that’s the soothing music. I just wish there were a few more options that you could maybe download onto your phone and choose from whether that be white noise or heart beats for younger babies or soothing sea noises etc for older children – I just think they’ve missed a trick! But it’s a small change and I suppose one that might come in the future, who knows!

The Verdict

All in all, I love it!

Granted, it has quite a high price tag at £179, but, if you haven’t purchased any other products – a fancy monitor, GroClock, Ewan the Sleep Sheep or Slumber Buddy, a nightlight etc then it is definitely good value as a multifunctional product and has great longevity as your baby grows.

And hey, if it can help to give you a lie-in at the weekend then surely it’s worth it’s weight in gold – amma right?!

Suzy Snooze by BleepBleeps review

A Different Mother

A better mother second time round?

Nope. Just different…

I knew from day one that I was different. Within the first few hours with Scout being Earth-side a profound difference was obvious. But it took me by surprise.

When I became a Mother

The joy I felt when Oscar was born was immense but there was also a fear – this was a whole new world we were venturing into and one we knew nothing about. Ante-natal classes try and prepare you for the birth of your baby but what about beyond that?! I was completely ill equipped!

I remember the feeling that first night in hospital with a teeny tiny Oscar feeling totally out of my depth. He was the first baby I’d ever held never mind care for. After Robin left the hospital for the night it was just the two of us – I was learning how to hold him, how to feed him, change him and give comfort. It was scary!

But of course, we learnt. The next day I got home and together as a team of three we powered on – learning on the job. It was wonderful, but scary. We’d sometimes second guess ourselves. In the night when he cried and we thought we’d exhausted all resources we got anxious that something might be wrong, of course, there wasn’t anything wrong. Sometimes babies just cry.

Take two

Two and a half years later and we waited in anticipation for Scout’s arrival – we didn’t know yet who she would be, but I was nervous. How would it be second time? Would she take to feeding as Oscar did? Would I cope? Can you die from sleep deprivation?

Then along she came and I felt different – I was so completely at ease and content. She made life easy and took to feeding straight away and I didn’t worry about it the way I had with Oscar – I knew she was doing well, I knew I was enough. When Robin left us for the night I felt confident and enjoyed every minute just the two of us.

While I was pregnant, I had read a blog post by Steph_dontbuyherflowers about ‘pulling up the drawbridge’ (well worth a read for anyone expecting a baby regardless or whether it be first or 10th!). It talks about the pressure new mums put on themselves to ‘bounce back’ and basically to be superwoman on the school run 2 hours after giving birth. Back in the day women would spend well over a week in hospital recovering, and now, many people are out within a few hours putting pressure on themselves to get back to normal, despite their body just going through a monumental event – both physically and mentally (seriously, go read, because my summary can’t do it justice). Anyway, it rang true to me – Oscar was a summer baby and I had been so keen to get up and get out in the sunshine and show him off to anyone that cared, and even to those who didn’t! It was so important to me to get ready, do my hair and makeup and trundle on out with the pram – I think part of me was trying to prove to myself that I had my sh*t together and I was doing ok in my new role and not wanting to lose my sense of me.

However, second time round I’ve had nothing to prove – not to myself or anyone else. In those first few newborn weeks we (semi) pulled up the drawbridge – the fact it was January, Baltic & snowing, made this a lot easier. I’m glad that we spent our first weeks together just chilling on the sofa. We put no pressure on ourselves. We had visitors, we welcomed them in, but we didn’t bother apologising for the mess.

The shock to the system that inevitably comes with a first baby seems lesser with the second. I have felt more at ease with the relative surrender of freedom that comes with exclusive breastfeeding – something I struggled with first time even though I knew it was something I wanted to do, something that was important to me and something that ultimately I loved doing.

We have fed, cuddled and napped our way through our first two months as a family of four – sometimes not even changing out of our PJ’s.

Parenting Rebooted

Has this made me a better mother this time round?

Nope. I’m just different.

Free of the incessant worry that comes with your first child (the worry that ages you about 10 years in the first month of their life). We’re not worried about routines – they will fall into place sooner or later. If she cries, we pick her up, she spends her days in our arms or sleeping soundly on our chests and we are confident in the knowledge that we cannot “spoil” her in doing so. We can shrug off unsolicited advice and roll our eyes, knowing we’re making the right choices for her and our family. Honestly, it’s refreshing.

In the last two and a half years Oscar has taught us both so much – not least that the months fly in. So I’m soaking up every little detail because I know all too well how quickly each phase will end. Already I feel the end of the newborn phase is coming and with it Scout is spending more time awake and demanding more attention. It’s sad knowing this will be the last time we do it but I’m excited for what’s to come, because that’s something else Oscar’s taught us – just how brilliant it is watching a little human grow and develop their own personality.

I don’t think there is a right or wrong. That drawbridge can be up or down, just so long as you’re happy doing what you’re doing. Make sure whatever it is though, you’re doing it for you – don’t let anyone else get in the way!

Lou x