Our week at Elveden Center Parcs

Mention Center Parcs to your friends and it will generally divide the group. Usually those who can’t think why anyone would want to spend an entire week in a man-made village in the UK, and those who revel in the thought of a week riding bicycles in the woods. Until 3 years ago, I probably fell somewhere in the middle. Then I met Zac’s Dad and was dubiously dragged along on the annual family holiday to Center Parcs. I fell in love with the place, and ever since I’ve looked forward to one day taking our own little sprog there.

 

Last week that day finally came when we took our 5 month old little boy on his first holiday to Elveden Forest. I was super excited about going away, firstly because holidaying with the sprog was going to be a completely new experience and secondly because having the extended family in tow would mean mummy and daddy would get a bit of a break!

After tetris-style packing everything bar the kitchen sink into the car, we set off on our 3 hour journey. The Easter traffic was a bit mad and after a few stops to feed and change little one, we successfully arrived in Thetford for our 5 day holiday. Instead of blabbing on about what we got up to, i’ll let the pictures do the talking. Center Parcs is incredibly family friendly, and for those of you thinking of taking little ones I’ve taken photos of all the children-specific small touches that I feel make all the difference. We had a fab time and can’t wait to go back soon!

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Main Pool Area

 

swimming pool
Zac’s first swim!
adventure cove
Adventure Cove
zac sleeping
Nap time
changing
Clean, spacious changing facilities
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Cots in the pool area
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Sports courts
play
Soft play
shop
Supermarket baby section
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Free baby food, microwave and bottle warmer

Princess and the Sprog: Packing for a UK holiday with a baby – the things you really need!

It’s extremely easy to get carried away when packing for holiday with a baby, and overwhelmed at the thought of remembering everything! Taking a break in the UK when you have a newborn is a great alternative to going abroad because let’s face it, having a car and the option to come back home if it all goes tits up is incredibly reassuring.

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Earlier in the year myself and the sprog spent 5 days over at my Mums, and at the time I made a rough list of things I thought I would need. This week we are away with the family on holiday in Suffolk, and having revised the list of the essentials I feel like I’ve somehow managed to wing a pretty good list together.

So if you are thinking of taking your little one away this year I’d love to save you the stress and share this list:

  • Travel cot/crib *some hotels/holiday parks will provide these for you – double check. In an attempt to recreate the familiar environment of our bedroom at home, we take our Next2Me crib. A Moses basket would work in the same way, whilst also acting as an open suitcase to put other items in for space saving* – some babies are very good at adapting to new surrounding and sleep well in unfamiliar places. But for a bit of reassurance in the very early days I found this the best method to half guarantee a decent nights sleep for both you and baby.
  • Bedding (mattress cover, growbag/blanket) plus a spare for potential leakage/sick up situations.
  • Monitor (both parts!)
  • Bottles if bottle feeding
  • Bottle brush for washing up
  • Washing up liquid
  • Formula milk
  • Breast pads, shields, pumps etc if breastfeeding
  • Travel Steriliser (we have one that you bung in the microwave that will do 2 bottles) or steriliser tablets if access to a microwave is going to be tricky
  • Changing mat
  • Nappies
  • Nappy sacks (alternatively bags/tubs for dirty reusable nappies & cloths)
  • Wipes/cotton wool
  • Muslins (can you ever have too many of these?!)
  • Bath stuff – shampoo, sponges, flannel, water temperature gage, jug, chair/aid, towels, lotion, talc etc etc
  • Meds – if your baby has any. Calpol/Nurofen for back up, infacol/gripe water if you have a windy baby (for us it’s the Gaviscon for reflux) teething gel/drops/granules if you are at this stage. Nappy rash/barrier creams for babies and nipple cream for Mums. Whilst I’m here, paracetamol/ibuprofen for parents. Because, well, parents.
  • Baby clothes for the day (spares galore, the more the merrier)
  • Baby clothes for night – babygrows/pjs
  • Baby outdoor wear – snowsuit/blankets, hats etc during colder months aka most of the year in the UK!
  • Baby swim stuff – swim nappies and nappy cover/swimsuit
  • Buggy & rain cover
  • Sling/carrier if you baby wear – a great way to explore hands free whilst on holiday
  • Baby nail clippers/file (our little one is currently trying to enter the Guinness World Record book for quickest nail growing by a 5 month old, whilst also learning the new skill of clenching and grasping, so we are trimming every other day!)
  • Blackout blind – if you have a travel one fab. Bin liners and tape do a good job if you get desperate.
  • Bedtime story books
  • Toys/comforters
  • Ziplock bags (really handy for keeping things as sanitised as possible. Spare dummies, teethers, meds etc.) 
  • Bowls, spoons, bibs, food, hand blender (if you are at the weaning stage) – this can be quite expansive in terms of what you do with your baby so go crazy, just remember the space you have/haven’t got in the car. Also think about the highchair situation and consider packing a feeding booster seat if you’re going somewhere that definitely doesn’t have one.
  • Bouncer/playmat – not essential but handy for somewhere to put baby and keep them occupied.
  • Phone charger (because there’s nothing worse than being stuck under a sleeping baby with a dead phone…)
  • Baby changing bag (having listed nappies, sacks, wipes in this list, these are all a second set to leave at holiday base camp so to speak – whether it be your parents, a cottage, caravan park or hotel – I can assure you having a second set of all of these is invaluable. The last thing you want is to be transferring wipes from bag to changing station and then forgetting to put them back in the bag, going to change little one out and about and uh oh, they’re not where you thought they were. Easily done.)
  • Oh, and all your stuff! Clothes, toothbrush, make up, shower things, shoes, coats, money, holiday paperwork etc.

I’m going to put a disclaimer out here that this list is *obviously* subjective to personal choice, but in general these are the things that we packed/crammed into the car and actually used! Also it goes without saying that most of these items you can easily pick up at supermarkets near to your holiday destination if you arrive and realise you didn’t pack them i.e washing up liquid, baby food pouches, formula etc. But if you’re anything like I was in the early days, having things prepared can be a life saver, especially if you have a grizzly monkey who needs something fast, or are in a particularly rural location.

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Just remember, it’s a huge achievement to have organised a holiday and reached your destination with a small baby! Consider the time it takes to travel in the car and try to plan breaks along the way if it’s far. Always majorly over estimate the time it will take to get there, and if you do arrive ridiculously early, find a garden centre with an aquarium and let the little one enjoy a free sensory experience to fill time. Not to sound like an OAP but garden centres always have nice cafes and good changing facilities. Result. If you have any extra things that you think I should add to this list please comment below, would love to hear about people’s packing experiences!

fish

 

Minimeltdowns – Pre-natal Mental Health and Me

#minimeltdowns

The Perinatal Mental Health team meant a huge amount to both me and my husband during my pregnancy. The Perinatal Mental Health team are a pretty new service to Warwickshire and we’re incredibly lucky to be able to access them. Peri (meaning around) and natal (meaning birth) means that this team are there to help you both before and after birth.

I’d like to talk about the help I received during my pregnancy in this post.

First and foremost, from what I understand, this service exists specifically to help any Mum- (and indirectly Dad-) to-be who is struggling with their emotional well-being as a result of the pregnancy. Your GP can refer you. I was referred to them as I had a history of depression and anxiety and was struggling with a number of things related to the pregnancy.

I was unlucky enough to be pretty ill during my pregnancy. This meant a lot of time spent in three places… sofa, bed and hospital bed. Yes ladies and gentlemen, it was pretty boring 🙁 , not to mention emotionally and physically exhausting for both myself and my partner. As a result, I became depressed, and my partner experienced very high levels of stress trying to juggle a very busy job with hospital visits, the lion’s share of the household work, preparing everything needed for the arrival of wondrous bundle of joy and caring for a sick wife.

The Perinatal team are based between Warwick and Stratford and they’re lovely. My initial assessment was with the Perinatal psychiatrist (sounds a bit scary, but it was honestly really relaxed). She asked me about how I was feeling emotionally and physically and, importantly, she explained that this was not uncommon and reassured me there is proper help out there.

Then she put a plan in place. This included a mixture of talking therapy, medication (it was a tough decision but one I remain happy with) and contact with her colleague, the Perinatal Mental Health nurse. It was a very friendly and supportive environment, where I was offered practical help too. For example, PANDAS, a pre- and post-natal mental health group in Warwick. Through this combination of treatment, I continued to either remain stable or improve my mental health. This had great benefits for my partner too, as I became more capable of managing things and didn’t need to rely on him as much. The result is that I have a beautiful, healthy little boy (or the Tasmanian Devil…depending on which day you get me on 😀 😀 ).

If you are struggling, please visit the GP and explore your options.

This is not uncommon. Be brave. Seek help.

 

Previous #minimeltdowns blogs….

Minimeltdowns – Help me…I’m going back to work

Minimeltdowns – D and V and all things nice

Minimeltdowns – Guilt, guilt, guilt!

Minimeltdowns – Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Pre and Post Baby: A Closer Look

Minimeltdowns – Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Pre and Post Baby: An Introduction

 

Princess and the Sprog: Exploring Charlecote Park National Trust

March 10, 2018
Finding things to do at the weekend with a small baby is sometimes a bit tricky. They’re too tiny to get stuck in at soft play yet are dying for some decent stimulation (more than the house-full of Lamaze toys and sensory foil can provide anyway!). The English weather can be somewhat unpredictable, but after visiting a National Trust site with some friends whilst the sprog was just a few weeks old, I decided that membership would be a great starting point to getting us out and about in the fresh air as a family as well as travelling to parts of the country we otherwise might not think of exploring . There are so many locations across the UK – along with free parking as a member – so the plan is to visit as many National Trust places as possible, taking photos of the scenery and facilities and sharing our experience of the different sites.

 

Charlecote ParkWarwickshire

 

A typically wet February weekend meant it was pretty muddy under foot, but the pathway around the house and café area allowed us to go on a fairly long walk with the buggy. If we’d been feeling a bit more adventurous putting the sprog in the baby carrier would have been perfect for some ‘off piste’ exploring. A lovely little café offers the usual hot drinks, snacks and lunch with outdoor seating for the summer months. Changing facilities were clean and easily accessible inside the ladies’ loos situated by the house. I think there might be a second changing area in the disabled toilets closer to the café, so Dads you’re not getting out of the nappy changing that easily.

Although we didn’t venture inside the house, it is stunning from outside and will put this on the list of things to do on our next trip – a la sling. We are lucky to have Charlecote Park just down the road from our new house so will be on the look out for seasonal events going on here in the future. Such a beautiful place – highly recommend a visit!

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/charlecote-park

Princess and the Sprog: Sleeping Beauty and the Sleep Thief

 

Princess and the Sprog

February 19, 2018

“I might just have a nap, standing up, holding the baby” said a lady next to me one coffee morning. Before you ask, yes she was joking and no, that’s probably not advised – but dear lord have we all thought about it at some point in time.

How was your night? – possibly one the most reoccurring questions that crops up in our ‘mum group’. Being able to share the trials and tribulations of the previous evenings antics is quite refreshing when you are surround by other women that are in your camp. Z has just had his 3 month birthday, and now that we have reached the magical 12 week stage I can confidently say that the two hourly wake up calls have started to subside. I visited my Mum’s for a few nights a couple of weeks ago and the little angel slept over 6 hours in one stint. I couldn’t quite believe it. All this foreign surroundings, unfamiliar atmosphere chat that I had so often heard about (and had therefore made me a tad anxious as I started the evening bath, feed, cuddles routine) seemed to completely unphase him. Only to return home and go back to the 11pm, 2am, 4am, 6am malarkey. As they say, just as you think you’ve cracked something, your baby takes a good look at you, laughs, and then moves the goal posts.

sleep meme 1

What really fascinates me is how some babies are complete Sleeping Beauties, sleeping through from the moment they were brought back from the hospital, whilst others like to have a rave when the sun goes down, completely robbing their poor parents of any rest – and there we have the Sleep Thief. No amount of baby massage, lullaby singing or white noise apps helped us in the early days, Z was just being a newborn and wanted to tell us all about it. Baths have become less traumatic now and we even get a cheeky smile with some impressive leg kicking. We’ve found that not only does this knacker him out, but it starts the bedtime routine off to a good start. I sometimes find myself thinking how chaotic and brilliant bath times will be with a few more sprogs, chuck them all in the tub with grubby faces and enough bubbles to replicate the Eastenders launderette. Anyway, as much of an effort as it can feel at times (especially after a long day), a bath every evening seems to be having a good impact on the night ahead.

zac bath

 

By talking to other Mums I have come to the conclusion that there is never any harm in trying new techniques (whether that be structuring your day and sticking to specific times or going with the flow and taking cues from the little ones) as long as you go in with an open mind, expect the worse and hope for the best. We are currently managing to get Z down before 8pm which gives us a bit of an evening as a couple, and then 2 night feeds around 1am and 4am. He’s an early riser around 6am but I’m learning to embrace the early starts and am looking forward to the light mornings. With any luck he will drop one of these night feeds, but I am aware we are edging dangerously close to the dreaded 4 month sleep regression. I am going to pretend it doesn’t exist for now…

I really feel like I am dancing with the devil by writing about sleep whilst it’s going well, but I might want to look back at this in a sleep-deprived state to remind myself that there is hope!

On a side note we have been using Gaviscon for the reflux for over a week now and I can see a real change in how Z is during and after a feed. I won’t lie, I am excited by the prospect of weening as I hear solids can really help reflux babies so I will be sure to write about our first spag bol up the wall experience.

(Good) Night x

sleep 3

Princess and the Sprog: All Things Sensory

Princess and the Sprog

February 7, 2018

There’s a lot of talk about baby sensory amongst the world of Mums and child development so I thought it was about time I took Zac to see what all the fuss was about!

We went over to a local sensory room that we hired out (as opposed to a structured class) along with a couple of other mums and babies. This allowed us to explore everything at our own pace, which given Z’s sightly unpredictable nature of late seemed like a great plan. I was super keen to introduce him to this sensory malarkey because like many newborns, he is obsessed with lights and anything that looks like it might have the potential to glow (this includes light bulbs that aren’t even on…oh babies 😐 !).

We spent A LOT of time laying next to a groovy set of mirrors on zigzag squishy triangles, as we have now discovered little one enjoys staring at himself. I’ll definitely be buying some play mirrors for home as this was a big hit. He was also mesmerised by a big water cylinder that bubbled and changed colour. Little (plastic) fish bobbled up and down in it and i’ll admit that I quite enjoyed looking at it too. The whole room was very soothing with white walls and moving multi coloured lights. There was a little black tent in one corner and a big bean bag in another for the babies to lay on and explore. Fluffy feathers, floating balloons and scrunchy fabrics were scattered around for the little ones to feel against their skin and hear the sounds they made.

 

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Zac was so calm throughout the time we were there and going by some of the rather challenging days and nights we’ve been having it was just so nice to see him enjoying the whole experience. I came away with the inspiration to turn the entire house into one massive fish tank equipped with lava lamps and bubble machines but I fear the other half might have something to say about this. We’ll absolutely be doing some more sensory sessions in the near future so I’ll make sure to write about the new things we discover. A massive yes to the fascinating world of baby sensory 😀

 

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Princess and the Sprog: Clubbercise – Mums get fit!

January 20, 2018

 

Having giving birth to a tiny human being  over 2 months ago, and making up for the lack of off-limit foods during pregnancy by eating my body weight in Brie and cured meats over Christmas, I decided that instead of moping about feeling like a right old lump I’d best get off my increasingly large backside and do some exercise.

The thought of outdoor jogging was hardly appealing. 1) it’s subzero temperatures in January and pitch black come 5pm and 2) I’m not 100% confident my body would manage a run long enough to burn off a raisin let alone a chocolate bar. Then a thought came to my head – I’d heard about Clubbercise through an old work colleague and had looked at going years ago but had never plucked up the courage to go. When I originally moved to the area, being over an hour away from friends and family was tough. But one of the best things about starting a new life in an unfamiliar town and having a baby is that along the way I have met some amazing women who I genuinely get along with. Yes, there’s the fact we all have babies in common, but there’s so much poo, wee and (lack of) sleep talk you can have before the conversation hopefully moves onto non-baby stuff like what you do for work, your favourite films, reminiscing about uni days and in general cracking jokes about useless partners, bedroom antics and your love for coffee and cake.

It was at a Mumma and baby social that I suggested to a couple of the girls about Clubbercise. I’d hoped the good ol’ phrase of strength in numbers might encourage a group of us to don the Lycra, get off our arses, and actually do some exercise we so often talked about wanting to start again. So on Monday evening myself and two friends arrived at the local sixth form school car park, dressed appropriately in the most garish, neon clad sports entire we could find, and rather sheepishly walked over to the gym doors. I couldn’t help but burst out laughing when we arrived, as I could see the flashing disco lights coming from inside the dark school hall, and I immediately had flash backs of dodgy year 8 discos where boys stood on one side, girls on the other, and eventually Shaggy’s It Wasn’t Me united us all together (little did we realise how inappropriate the context of that song was aged 12 but then again Spice Girls 2 become 1 was my fave way before that so who cares). We were greeted by some smiley ladies dressed in florescent hoodies who asked us to sign a few forms and we handed over our £5 for the hour class. We were given 2 flashing glow sticks each and off we went into the hall.


Now I’ll be honest here, I haven’t felt so ridiculous and nervous yet at the same time so excited in a very long time! I felt like I had been transported back to Ibiza as the impressive music system blared out some of my favourite dance tunes, whilst at the same time assessing the average age of women in the room at about 45 waving these brightly coloured sticks about like an enthusiastic fight path attendant at Luton airport!!

To think that this might be a jolly piss about with my friends would be an understatement because the instructor up front was not mucking about. Equipped with a Britney Spears head mic and quads like a body builder, she kicked off the class with some grapevines and heel taps and quickly progressed into some impressive up tempo aerobics moves. Each music track had a different routine and after initially recovering from our fits of laughter we really got stuck in, attempting to follow her every move grapevining here, doing jumping-jacks there literally sweating our arses off. The best thing about it was that you didn’t really feel like you were working out -punching the air to Pendulum’s Tarantula and marching it out to Martin Garrix Animals were some definate highlights. I sense an animal theme going on here… Also it really is in complete darkness so any initial worries about looking stupid went out the window.

It’s safe to say we’ll definitely be going back next week, and as if anyone ever needed an excuse to buy some more neon clothing this will be mine ?

*insert cheesy picture of the gorgeous and appropriately sweaty Laura and Heather (and myself) featuring many a glowstick*

Princess and the Sprog: Baby cinema – our trip to Odeon Newbies in Coventry

Princess and the Sprog

January 9, 2018


 

Well this was a new experience. Cinema AND baby…how could this possibly work I asked myself. Won’t he hate it? Won’t I spent 95% of the time trying to shhh him and miss the entire film? Well it turns out that when the screening is exclusively for parents and babies, everyone knows what it’s like to deal with a grumpy little tike and instead of getting judgey stares you find yourself having a bit of a giggle with another mum across the stairway. So who cares if yours decides to join in the sing-a-long mid film. Which was more than appropriate as the film we went to see was Pitch Perfect 3.

I packed my changing bag for every eventuality: milk, bottle, five hundred muslins in case of spewage, blanket, spare outfits, nappies etc. and opted to pop the sprog in the Caboo sling for hands free ease. I hoped he might go to sleep as he likes being in there and that way I’d actually get to see some of the film. I have to say the boy done good (!) and other than waking for a feed my 8 week old little lad virtually slept through the whole thing. Definate success.

Things that I thought were great about baby cinema at Odeon Coventry:

  • Tickets only £5, babies free – bargain
  • Plenty of space to spread out, so can easily use seats inbetween everyone for all the baby toot.
  • Escalators and lifts from the street entrance and car parks so easy for prams
  • Baby changing facilities in the toilets outside the screen
  • Free parking IF you can find a space. Odeon is on the 7th/8th floor, I got to 13 and, not knowing how many levels there are, decided to head back down. My friend ended up successfully parking on the 18th floor and I assume got the lift. Would have been quicker to parachute down.
  • I’ve just read on their site that the sound is a bit softer than in a usual screening. I did think it wasn’t as bellowing, but couldn’t work out if it was because of all the gurgling, burping and farting going on in the background – and that was just the mums…

Hope you enjoy my cheesy video of our first cinema experience!

Here’s the link to the Odeon Newbies:

http://mobi.odeon.co.uk/newbies/

Princess and the Sprog: New Year New Identity

New Year New Identity

January 3, 2018

As I sat watching the New Year fireworks on TV whilst feeding my 6 week old baby boy, I found myself thinking about just how much my life has changed.

Little one had managed to time his feed so that we could see in the new year together, just me and him, and as I pulled him close I thought just how lucky I am to be sharing this moment with him. It was only earlier that day he had demonstrated just how testing a new born can be, pulling off a spectacular meltdown at the supermarket tills (a place where you are literally trapped like cattle, the only thing to do is to continue moving forward until you get to the green grass aka the car).

The past few weeks have been a bit of whirlwind, doing a constant mental ticklist of clean bottom, full tummy, is he too hot, is he too cold, cuddles cuddles and more cuddles, burping, playing white noise, YouTubing nursery rhymes and singing like Charlotte Church to Wheels on the Bus, sterilising bottles, the endless visits from family and friends, and of course attempting to get out the house for coffee and cake with the mums and babies.

It was only a few years ago that I spent New Years Eve with my friends in Times Square watching Teighlor Swift performing live, wondering if she’d actually eaten anything that week as I scoffed a slice of deep pan pizza and danced with strangers in the freezing cold. Not much has changed there – I still eat greasy carbs and dance like an idiot but now I do it in my pyjamas, in the lounge, whilst similultaneously juggling a baby, swapping a vodka coke for a cold cup of tea and my jam is The Animals Came in 2 by 2 – horrah!

As I enter 2018 with a new identity as a Mum, I enter it with a beaming smile. Yes having a baby means putting yourself last, yes you are completely sleep deprived and when a child-less friend says they’re tired you look at them with daggers as if to say love you have no idea, yes you are probably covered in sick and haven’t washed your hair in longer than you’d like to admit, but would we have it any other way? Abser-bluddy-lutely not. Being a Mum is the best and despite having pushed a watermelon out the size of a ping-pong sized hole only weeks ago,  and the many evenings where the only thing that will calm my baby boy is hours of bouncing on the ruddy pregnancy ball, I can 100% say it’s all worth it. Happy 2018 everyone, it’s going to be quite the year. Cheers!

*insert picture of me pretending I’m down with the kids on NYE with a blue wkd*

Princess and the Sprog: The first few weeks of Motherhood

Princess and the Sprog

December 1, 2017

When you bring your little one back from hospital and are in the comfort of your own home, you suddenly realise that all the research and prep you tried to do whilst pregnant will only get you so far. Just like anything, learning on the job is the best way to find out what works and what doesn’t!

I’ve put together a list of things that I have learnt and hopefully will be useful in those first few days and weeks of being a new mum.

1. The Sleep Situation

Whichever sleep ‘device’ you have chosen for your baby (and I say device because the options out there really are quite overwhelming at times!) it is almost garenteed that their most preferred method to get off to sleep will be on you or your partner. I’d heard a lot about this during pregnancy, but what I didn’t quite realise is how much of a fine art it is to get them into their bed. We have a lovely Moses basket for Zac that is by my side of the bed, some people have the next-to-me style cribs, snooze pods etc. For the first couple of nights we took it in turns for baby to sleep on us whilst the other got some kip, as that was the only way he would sleep. He’d be completely zonked out on us, and purely by putting him down on his back would wake him almost instantly. They say they like the feeling of the heart beat just like they were in the womb – it makes sense. I had some fantastic advice from friends to try and make the Moses basket a more inviting place for him to sleep and so far these have been really successful:

  • Heat a water bottle and place on the mattress to make it warm and cosy before laying baby down. **NB, always remove the water bottle before putting baby down and never place baby in their bed with the hot water bottle.
  • Use the same blanket they sleep in to wrap round you and baby whilst they dose off so that your smell and warmth is carried over with them.
  • If possible, have your Moses basket/crib with you in the lounge during the day and practise putting them down when they are sleepy, again for familiarity, to prepare for the night time.
  • Place them on your chest initially to get them off to sleep, the advice I recieved was around 15/20 minutes until they are in a good deep sleep, then place in basket/crib.
  • Consider using a dummy to keep them calm when they stir. This is very much up to you and how you would like to parent ?
  • Sing nursery rhymes, play lullabies and find some good white noise apps to play to baby to help them settle.

These are just a few tips that we have found really helpful, and as I write this post 2 weeks in, I can say we are making real progress with night times. As they say, all babies are different and some take to their sleeping arrangements incredibly quickly, others take more time – just persevere and stay positive.

2. Feeding

Whether you plan to breastfeed, express or formula feed your newborn, prepare to be flexible with what might happen when baby actually arrive. I read a lot of articles about this during maternity leave, and we have now adopted all 3 methods – not something I had originally planned but it’s working for us. Do what is best for you and your baby and go with your instinct. Something that I hadn’t given much thought about was expressing. I bought a Tommee Tippee manual breast pump as a bit of a back up option so that my partner could get involved with feeding too, and it was actually something that I started to use on a regular basis the moment we got home. It meant I could physically see how much milk little one was getting, it enabled us to share feeding duties, and it meant visitors and family members could help out which was lovely. For some mums, exclusively breastfeeding is what they are happiest doing, for others bottle feeding is the way forward. One thing I hadn’t realised pre-motherhood was that for a majority of bottle feeding mums, they tried really hard in the early days to breastfeed and it just wasn’t meant to be – perhaps their milk production was low or their baby struggled to latch – so in the best interests of their baby they use formula. After our first visit from the midwife Zac was showing signs of jaundice, we were advised by the midwife to do whatever we felt was the best to keep him hydrated. So we started formula feeding during the night and breastfeeding and expressing during the day. After all it is incredibly important your baby is hydrated and getting the nutrition it needs. It’s cheesey, but a healthy baby is a happy baby and whatever feeding method you choose it’s important to remind yourself that you’re doing your best for your baby and that’s what really matters.

An extra helpful tip here is to make sure you have an abundance of pillows and cushions in your house – preferably of all shapes and sizes! Small, soft cushions are  best as you can stack them, squash them etc into different positions to help you get comfortable. I have a U shaped maternity pillow which is great for giving your arms a rest when holding little one and also doubles up as the perfect place to put baby down as the shape holds their head and makes them feel secure.

3. Lighting around the house

Getting this right is a bit of a fine art! We both have little lamps on our bedside tables, mine is a multi coloured pac-man light which gives off a glow more than a light. My partners is a standard reading lamp. Mine is too dull to see anything properly, my partner’s is too bright to keep on whilst asleep! We started off with the landing light on and the bedroom door open, now we have progressed to small lamp in the nursery which is not as bright. The same goes for the lounge, our spot lights are blinding, and without them you’re in the pitch black, so a standing lamp in the corner of the room has been brilliant. Long story short, lots of little lights are better than one strong light. This is something I had never thought of before, and after a few trips to the hardware store to buy bulbs and multi-socket electric extensions we’ve finally cracked the ‘baby-friendly’ mood lighting! Also on the subject of light, a friend recommended fairy lights around the car seat to keep little one entertained on journies. We tried this out with Zac’s sleep box and he was mesmerised.

4. Looking after yourself

Set up mini stations around the house that consist of bottles of water, somr snacks e.g biscuits, fruit, cereal bars, muslins and phone chargers if possible. Keeping yourself hydrated when breastfeeding is really important and when you are tired making sure you drink lots of water will help you feel a bit more perky in general. A variety of snacks at arms length will also help to keep you going. We quickly realised that once you have a feeding or sleeping baby in your arms, it’s best to have everything you need around you as getting up isn’t easy when your trapped under a baby! Always have a muslin at the ready for dribbles and burping, and if you can keep the tv remote close by as once you are settled you’ll be grateful you thought about this before you got comfy with baby ?

5. Bath time

The aim of this Takeshi’s castle style challenge is to get your baby from smelly to clean overcoming all obstacles that you will face. Firstly, getting the water temperature right. We have a little thermometer that came with the Mothercare tub, and every time I run the bath it always feels so cold. But that’s because I always have my bath very warm – guilty. The next is stripping down your baby avoiding the fountain of pee (boys particularly prone, I hear girls more of an unexpected dribble) and hope that this isn’t the moment they choose to poop. I caught it all in my hand the other day, it was not a pleasant sight. It was either that or the fluffy rug…you choose. Once you and baby are ready, the moment of truth will be how your baby reacts to the water. Now I was praying that I’d have some sort of water-loving fish baby, but alas I do not. We have a flannelette deck chair bath aid (that’s not the technical name, it was given to us by a friend) and I would advise having a look at products available on the market as they are great for keeping your baby’s head out the water and supporting their head and back so you are able to wash their little bodies safely. Our method of getting through the next step of the challenge is to use a sponge and jug to constantly pour water over little one’s tummy. We find he is happiest when doing this and keeps him warm. After a good wash, we transfer our slippery worm into a hooded towel and quickly rub down to keep him warm. I like to take this opportunity for a bit of skin to skin time before getting him changed into a fresh sleep suit. It’s upto you when you want to put on a clean nappy, I’m fairly prompt as to avoid the inevitable…others give their babies some naked down-below airation. Again, fate is in your own hands with this one! I look forward to being able to use some bath toys as he gets older and make this part of our bed time routine, but during these early days just making sure they are happy and clean is the main aim whatever the time it is.

6. Socialising & getting out

Although this is the last on my list, it’s also one of the most important. Having family and friends around you in the early days can really help when it comes to both emotional and physical support. Equally, you can end up with half the village visiting the house if you’re not careful so bare in mind it is perfectly OK to say no or postpone visits if you want. Whether you’re new to an area, or simply want to meet other parents-to-be who are in the same position as you, there are a handful of ways you can go about making new ‘mum friends’ (best said in an inbetweeners voice). First tip is to sign up to an antenatal classes during pregnancy. It could be NCT, the free NHS classes or independent companies that also run courses. Although we only opted for the NHS ones, I started to go along to coffee mornings at the local village hall (run by an independent baby group) from about 28 weeks pregnant. This is early days for some people, but as I had moved to a new area and it been so long since I interacted with newborn babies I was keen to stuck in. I felt like it was my first day at big school as I sat in the car park, incredibly nervous about the unknown. There really was no need, a smiley face greeted me at the door and I was introduced to the other bumps and new mums. I was surrounded by lots of little babies and this gave me the chance to just watch how the mums held and played with their little ones. I also got to talk to them about how my pregnancy was going so far. I even got to hold and cuddle a gorgeous little girl and this gave me so much confidence. I came back feeling really positive about motherhood and have been going to this group every week ever since. We managed our first outting as Mum and baby this week and Zac loved taking in the atmosphere. The same ladies meet for coffee in town on other days of the week so this gives us something to put in the diary and is a great chance to have a chinwag with other slightly sleep-deprived mums!

Another way of getting to know other mums and babies is Mush. Mush is an app that helps you connect with parents in your area with babies of a similar age – Tinder for mums if you will! I have my first ‘Mush date’ coming up with two other mums next week. We were all due around a similar time (you can join whilst pregnant and there is a little stork icon that tells you how far gone a person is!) and we would talk about our pregnancies, how the midwives appointments were going and how we were feeling. The app notifies you when new people in your area have joined and I find it incredibly easy to use. Really worth a go especially if you’re a tad apprehensive about throwing yourself feet first into village hall coffee mornings!

Previous Princess and the Sprog post(s):

Princess and the Sprog: Welcome little man – my birthing experience

 

For the Princess and the Sprog blog, click here.