Bebe Bag – hospital essentials

Packing my hospital bag first time round was like a magical, mystical birth preparation ritual. The bag itself, the precise contents, the order in which they were packed… Pretty sure I did it at around 30 weeks pregnant, and it required extensive research and numerous *special* shopping trips, with a fellow preggo, to ensure all the essentials (and the rest) were covered. The bag was by the front door months before Bebe FF arrived – in fact I think it actually gathered some dust.

The second time round and I only got to thinking about the bag around 36 weeks; it was all a bit of a shambles. Like many things in my life at the moment, I started doing “the bag” and before I knew it I was lost in the dark depths of a wardrobe, knee-deep in Bebe FF’s old baby stuff, looking for an old nursing bra I didn’t even like, and listening to Hokey Cokey on repeat. Even locating a suitable bag was a challenge and I almost ended up going to hospital with a Trunki. When I got back to focusing the bag a week or so later, I actually genuinely couldn’t think what to put in it except pants. And PJs. And a snack  – obvs. I quickly realised why: to plan what went in the bag I would actually need to get to grips with what was about to happen. I would be giving birth and no matter how joyous that is, it’s also a little bit scary.  And the “planning process” also reminded me that I had no real clue what would happen on the day we would eventually go to the hospital, no matter how much I wanted to be in control.  I knew that from first time around. You have a theoretical birth “plan” but really what you’re going in to do is have a baby and there isn’t much more of it that you can actually plan….

When I was going stir crazy at 40 weeks I salvaged the bag packing situation and properly packed a bag for me and one for bebette.  Tip: You’re probably best having two bags. Especially as you will be instructing  your other half to do some of the critical bag-searching when you can’t move / are otherwise occupied pushing a baby out, and you want to make it as easy as possible for them to locate things. If your partner is anything like mine, when asked to locate a particular item in a receptacle containing a number of items, the receptacle suddenly becomes a Mary Poppins style bag and the item requested is some sort of other worldly object the partner has never heard of. “Can I have my lip balm please?” Silence. Blank look. “Leep bolm?” *Monsieur FF plunges into the baby bag, pulls out a tiny nappy, is redirected to the mama bag (should have clearly labelled them…) and rifles around for about 15 minutes, spilling items all around the floor and eventually pulls out giant pants*: “Zis?”

I thought it would be worth a quick blog just to note what I took and used, whether it can help to prepare you or remind you, or make you laugh at the ridiculousness depending on which journey you’re on.  If I were a man looking at this I would probably be guffawing by now: “It is so typical of women to need a special detailed shopping list, and dedicated blog, just for the things they need to go to the bloody hospital! Pants and keys! That’s all tha needs! What a kerfuffle!” (*Yorkshire man, possibly my dad*) Well, men, when you’ve grown a human for nearly 10 months and then eject it from your body in a foreign place with foreign people all around you, and with those people playing with your bits and your bits being totes out of control, THEN you can come back and give us your fantastic opinion. Plus FYI menfolk, you would probably forget your pants and / or keys anyway. The hospital bag is not only essential (no one needs to be unnecessarily nude in the hospital) but may bring you a little bit of relief, even joy, at a very emotional time.

First and foremost: the pantaloons. You need giant comfy pants. Accompanying these are your maternity pads. However your bebe comes into the world you will spend the next 6 weeks or so leaking. The hospital will provide you with some pads whilst you are there but they don’t have any sticky. You need stick. You can get the giant maternity pads from chemists, most supermarkets and you can also try the organic variety available on Amazon.

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Actual size of maternity pad

Second: milk / feeding essentials. If you’re breastfeeding I strongly recommend some sort of nipple cream. You can also apply your own milk to your nipples (I.e. Rub it around your nipple to reduce soreness – this does work) but in the early days you don’t have milk as such, it’s colostrum and not so easy to get out. I used Lansinoh Lanolin religiously both times and have had no issues. You should pack a couple of nursing bras, in case you’re in for a few days, and some nursing pads, although again the leaky boobs don’t really set in until 3-4 days post partum. If you’re bottle feeding the formula producers have some handy mini bottles ready to go. I have taken one of these packs both times to the hospital just in case anything isn’t working with the boobs. They are also handy for short spates of freedom later.

Third: outfits for the Bebe. Your baby needs to be wrapped up warm. They’ve been in a spa for the past nearly 10 months and funnily enough don’t particularly enjoy being cold and naked. You need blankets, muslins and snuggly clothes. The softer and easier to put on the clothes the better. Despite appearances, the little nippers are hard to get into clothes and don’t always love it. They are also often very curled up and in our case, both times it was Papa’s job to get bebe dressed for the first time.  Zip onesies, soft vests (recommend M+S and Next) and a snuggly hat and cardi were winners for us. Also these awesome little “bundlers” – like a tiny baby nightie, they are open at the bottom for easy nappy change, no poppers, and long enough to keep bebe’s legs warm.

Fourth: nappies for the Bebe. And wipes. Or cotton wool. I’m sure the hospital could help you out with nappies, but newborns can go through them relatively rapidly, and the méconium poos are quite something. So come prepared! Enjoy the little tiny bum size as they grow so quickly!

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Such a tiny nappy and yet it looks so massive! Bundler in action – no need to undo poppers. Boom.

Fifth: car seat for the Bebe. You can’t take your baby home without one so it’s kinda critical. We have the Maxi Cosi Pebble+ leftover from last time and bebette rode home just fine in it. Obviously she looks like a tadpole in there, but she was safe and cosy. We are also reusing our fabulous Morrck blanket which keeps her warm but can be opened up to let the air in once she’s in the warm car.

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A very happy Monsieur FF complete with bebette, headphones to block noise and awesome hand sewn bebe bag from a special auntie!

Sixth: PJs for mama. Take two pairs, even three. I had a couple of nighties with a dressing gown, plus some PJ trousers and top. You never know when your waters are going to break or you may be vomited on so have spares. You go from being very naked to being in a room full of new parents so I would recommend sensible PJs and sensible colours. A satin négligée prolly won’t be ideal (although very comfy I’m sure). If your breastfeeding think about accessibility to the boobs.  If you’re organised and thoughtful, at this point pack a Tshirt/pants for your other half.

Seventh: shower essentials. Your first shower after giving birth is quite an experience. You will be shaky and smelly and gross. When you have the shower you will feel human again. Your body feels lighter and thanks to the painkillers you mostly can’t feel anything. Take your favourite shower magic to make the experience even more pleasant. You will probably be showering with a midwife or someone else in tow though, so I don’t recommend bringing your full puff ball and exfoliation equipment.

Eight: snacks.  Now it depends how long you’re in hospital and what stage you’re at but these are critical for both your and your partner’s survival. Hospital shops, despite having a captive market (or perhaps because of that??) have a fairly grim and limited selection of goodies. Think easy to eat, energy boosters that won’t irritate your stomach, like M+M peanuts, cereal bars, haribos, candy kittens (yum!) Pom bear crisps, nuts, fruit, lots of water and energy drinks if you can handle them.

Nine: music, films and reading materials – if you’re in for induction you’re likely going to be there a while, especially if it’s your first, so pop your kindle or some trashy mags in for light relief as you start to experience your contractions. If you’re organised, you should download some series / films onto your portable devices and sit back and relax. You won’t have the same level of calm for a little while after all this…

Ten: pillow – both times I’ve taken my own pillow, just because there aren’t hundreds available in the hospital and it feels safe and smells of my bed.

Eleven: cooling off equipment and lip balm – water spray and flannels, lip balms galore (take a BIG one so your partner can find it in the bag…).  I personally didn’t get round to using these much as things went too rapidly but I often see OBEM ladies enjoying a nice cool flannel and your lips will get dry, especially if your sucking on that gas and air.  Also the maternity ward can get very snuggly, so if you’re in there any period of time, the cool spray will likely come in handy.  I also packed a Spacemask but that was a little optimistic. I could have used it during the induction, but I enjoyed it more in a short nap I was permitted in the first days post arrival of Bebette – interstellar relaxation indeed!

Twelve: change for the car park. Hopefully your partner will be on top of this but again, best to be prepared. You don’t know how long you will be there for and the last thing you want is a congratulations fine from the car park warden (btw I think it’s outrageous that the wardens even do the rounds but that’s a separate battle to be had another time).

Last but not least: your hospital notes!

So there we have the essentials in my humble opinion. Good luck with your packing and the journey that lies ahead – wishing you a beautiful squidge of a bebe!

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Bises from us 4 x x

 

Babywheels – the Venicci 3-in-1 travel system

I have been asked to do a review of the Venicci baby-mobile.  This was the “travel system” we chose to transport Bebe FF in his first months on the outside.  When we were looking, as I mentioned, we found all the information out there to be a bit confusing and unnecessarily complex; the car seat and adapter situation in particular.  There weren’t many helpful reviews and by their nature the reviews were super subjective (or sponsored) so it was hard to take much from them.

Well, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.  So, to add to the confusion, here’s my subjective review of the Venicci 3-in-1 system.  Hopefully it will at least answer some questions – and if not feel free to ask.

Our “travel system” criteria were:

  • sturdy – i’m not being OTT here but I just grew a whole baby in my tummy, it took 9+ months (and the rest) and sh!tload of energy – he was safe and protected in there – if I have to put him in a box on wheels, and push him around the bumpy, dangerous and broken pavements of Britain, I want sturdy!
  • suspension – ref the aforementioned pavements
  • tall – we are not giants by any stretch (even stretching wouldn’t help) but being hunched over and lifting bebe from a low starting point didn’t appeal
  • portable for weedy, tiny weeny arm muscles
  • easy to assemble – for tired, delirious parents
  • weatherproof – Britain
  • not insanely expensive – it’s not an actual car
  • a bit different

I believe it was my sister Em who first sent me a link to the Venicci promo clip. You could be forgiven for thinking it was a joke.  A lady with high heels that Christian Louboutin would be proud of, painted nails and a mini skirt demonstrates how to assemble the different parts of the pram. I hadn’t heard of Venicci, and I can’t say the video massively swayed me to purchase, but it did give me new hope about the world of motherhood and, ok, it did look like it could potentially do the job.  I put the dramatic filmography down to “being Italian” and carried on with the endless research.

Anyway, long story short we had the romantic trips to test lots of the obvious models in M&P’s, Mothercare and, of course, John Lewis.  But we couldn’t decide, and always found more negatives than positives for each one.   So in the end (i.e. 3 months before bebe FF was due to arrive) we just went for it and ordered the Venicci online, without physically seeing one or testing it (we’re crazy like that).

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Venicci

So what did we think? I’ll break it down into pros and cons.

PROS

  • the flatbed/bassinet/carrycot thingy (what are they actually called?!) was great.  Strong, warm, snuggly if you add a lambskin in there, big enough for bebe FF to sleep in until 5-6 months old, which is pretty good going (some babies grow out of them around 3 months).  It has an adjustable base so if bebe has a cough or as they start to want to see more, you can elevate the head area.  It also can be folded down flatfish for storage, and to squish in the boot. Bebe FF liked being in there so much that in the early days he would sleep in there downstairs, or even upstairs when he decided he didn’t like the moses basket.  Or his crib.  Coquin.
  • the frame is super sturdy.  There are no issues weighing it down with many mummy clips and your changing bag along with hundreds of bags of shopping (would I?!).
  • the suspension is excellent. Bebe FF is comfy riding his venicci and not being projected out into the road or having his two teef clattering against … his gums.
  • the handle bar is adjustable so catering to our giant needs.  It is easy to get it to a comfortable height.
  • the various pieces clip onto the frame easily – clips are in red, and you can clip and unclip one side at a time which is significantly easier than having to do the double whammy, especially when you’re balancing bebe on your hip!
  • The brake is very simple to use, a pedal on the chassis which is easily accessible.
  • The wheels come with covers (we immediately lost them), and there is also a rain cover (very handy) and a mosquito net (also MIA within minutes of being unpacked – Boots do a good back-up).
  • The basket size is fair, it’s not enormous but it seems to be as big if not slightly bigger than the competition. It is quite deep so things stay in.  I can fit my change bag in there, plus back up blanket and rain cover.  Occasionally a pizza comes sipping out but that’s my fault for overloading 🙂
  • We went for the white frame as it was a bit different and I’m glad we did. Purely aesthetically it is joyous.  Plus my mum always told me to try to “stand out in the dark” which explains a luminous white michelin puffa jacket I wore for most of my teens.
  • It has a cup holder, or “roadie” holder, which we dedicate to our Texas friends – handy for the endless water drinking required for feeding.
  • the price – the Venicci when we got it was just over £500 including the travel seat adapters.  That seemed like a reasonable middle of the road price, compared to say the “egg” which looked fabulous but was over £1,000 before you even added on the cotbed. As it turns out, I’m glad we didn’t spend more, as it won’t be in significant use for much longer.  As soon as you can use a stroller, you will!
  • Colour combos – quite simple but good, strong quality materials. Being semi-Parisienne we went for black with white chassis. I sometimes regret the choice of black as it is a bit morose in the sunlight, but I don’t think there were many other options when we bought it – it seems there are a few more now, and also a silver chassis.  I was nervous about getting a light colour, but I think the material would wear pretty well and stay clean.

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CONS

  • It is pretty heavy.  If you want strong and sturdy, you have to accept some weight.  I managed fine, but now I have the choice between the Venicci and the ultra-light Babyzen yoyo stroller, I know which my arms prefer.  The Venicci is still the vehicle of choice for local strolls and park trips, but it is a pain hauling it in and out of the boot.
  • The chair part is messy.  I can’t quite put my finger on what is wrong with it, it just doesn’t look very comfy or slick.  Bebe FF is happy enough in there, and it can go forwards facing or facing mummy, although he seems to slump over a bit.  He likes putting his feet on the bar. But the hood and straps in particular look a bit cheap, for want of a better word.  The seat does recline and goes fairly upright.  It has a foot / body muff but it’s not very thick or lined, so unlike some of the competition would definitely require an additional blanket.
  • I don’t like the fastener on the chair – it is the type that catches your skin and gives you blood blisters. I’ve shouted merde! a few times…
  • The car seat is a bit of a waste of space as it’s very basic. There is limited padding in there and the material is the same as the rest of the set, i.e. sturdy and rough and not necessarily what you want rubbing up against your newborn’s delicate skin.  Most people I’ve spoken to opted for the MaxiCosi as their carseat, as others don’t really compare to the safety standards.  In any case you need to get the isofix base.  I think you can buy the set without the car seat, which would obviously save a bit of money – we didn’t know we could do that so didn’t explore that option.

So, from a quick squiz of the number of respective pros and cons, it is apparent that the Venicci, in my very humble opinion, was a good choice.

Any more specific questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

Bisous

 

Backpacking aka travelling with bebe

This post is about travelling with a bébé.  No matter how organised you are (or you think you are) when you travel with your miniyou, you will inevitably feel like a backpacker.  If, like me, at 18 years old you specifically avoided doing the “backpacking thang” because you can’t pack for sh!t and you didn’t fancy hauling your home around on you back, this will come as a rather unwelcome surprise. Buuuuut by now we’ve established having a baby is a bit like being permanently hooked up to an electric shock machine so – fine – let’s get on.

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Me. Every day.

Why would one travel with a bébé?

Travelling is not easy. Don’t be under any illusions. It is fun but it is confusing for everyone.

Your planning will depend largely on bébé and their routine. We have adopted a fairly chilled routine and found Bébé FF has fallen naturally into his own schedule. He’s a fairly regular creature. I’ve also resigned myself to the fact I’m unlikely to have a REAL nights’ sleep for a while.  I’m ok with that. Overall he’s not too phased by travel, but that could be because we’ve been on the go since he made his own dramatic journey into the world.

Our major travel incentive is family. Just to recap, Bébé FF is half French, and his French relatives reside – unsurprisingly – in la belle France.  As such we spend a fair amount of time en route to or from France.  He’s also got strong Yorkshire roots, meaning that we hit the M1 Northbound frequently.  In addition to all this, Mr FF has itchy pieds. He can’t stay still and he likes to be on a train/plane/cruising in the voiture as often as possible.  Since Bébé FF joined us at the start of this year, we have done more travelling than some people do in a year. Or even two. And there’s more to come.  Long haul. Yikes. So we have to have a strong travel game. I should caveat, at this point, you may think you have the Olympic gold in travel game one week, and then Bébé gets a tooth or a bug or learns to crawl and you’re out. Game over.  I don’t purport to be an expert. However, if this is vaguely helpful to anyone thinking about travelling, it will be worth it. This is how we do it:

How does one travel with a bébé?

Before travelling:

~ think about logistics. You’re no longer able to run for flights and jump onto transit trains whilst simultaneously sipping a mochachocafrapucchino and reading Grazia. You have a small person and a shedload of paraphenalia. Pick a flight at a time you can manage both in terms of getting there and bebe’s normal routine. If bébé is usually in bed at 7pm, an evening journey might not be sensible. Also factor in all the journey time. You may land at 6pm, but you’ve got to get your luggage and then get out of the airport and then get home. It’s obvious but when you’re sleep-deprived anything can happen.

~ find out what you can beg/borrow/steal on location. Think sleeping equipment, car seat, buggy even. Do you need to take everything?

~ find out where you are seated on the train or plane. The more space you’ve got the better. If on a long haul flight, you’re aiming for a front row with a baby bed. Not all seats can accommodate an infant so be sure to check when you book – you can’t sit in seats by the emergency exit for example.  On the train, a table can double up as baby seat/bed and even change (sorry fellow commuters but needs must).

think about whether your day-to-day survival mum bag is necessary for the trip or do you need to upgrade to a bigger bag. If flying, check your luggage allowance with bébé as you’re generally allowed extra, up to two bags per person, but it depends which airline and which flight seats you’ve got.

Travel ESSENTIALS

~ nappies and wipes; always take more than you expect. Standard.

~ change of clothes on your person at all times. And a bag for the dirties. Poo-smeared everything isn’t a good look. Or smell. Nappy sacs are good on the go, or a dedicated waterproof zippy bag. On our first flight Bébé FF did a strategic poop as we were waiting to board the plane. Not just any poop, but a full on body-covering explosive Poonami. Up the back and out of the sides. Dripping. Cue dramatic clothing change whilst all the passengers on the plane waited patiently for Mr FF to master the crotch poppers. Which one clips where? Under pressure this question is doubly hard. We located the zippy poo bag (a present kindly accept by Grandmere F upon arrival – mums are just legendary at washing stuff aren’t they!) and scrambled on to the plane; the air hostess whispered to us “whenever you are ready, we are ready.” With a smile she handed over the special mini seatbelt, Bébé FF snuggled in and we were off.

~ milk / water/ Bébé food for the journey. If you’re using your boobs, nice one, less to carry and be “tested” as you go through security. On our last flight we had two baby sippy cups of water; one made it through unnoticed, the other was retrieved and tested. A very panicked security chap came to us brandishing the sippy cup, eyed Bébé FF and declared “ce n’est pas de l’eau. Ce n’est pas possible.” Then he glared at us. A moment of terrible guilt flooded over me – my cleaning and sterilising skills are so sub-par the Evian water is unrecognisable. L’horreur. After filling out a number of forms (in English, security guy “c’est quoi “name”?”) and being detained in a dark room under spotlights (not really but the frenchies can be a bit dramatic) it turned out their machine was broken. Phew. Bébé FF proceeded to tip the cup all over the chair and himself in any event, thus rendering the whole process superfluous.

~ bottles/ sterilising equipment (we use microwave bags)/ cleaning brush/ milk/porridge for the whole trip. Apparently you can pre-order milk / milk products from Boots at the airport and pick it up when you get there.  If you take this as carry on it could significantly reduce your check-in luggage weight. Thank you Ali for this great tip – we will be trying this on the next journey.

You probably know that the number one cause of baby screaming on flights is the air pressure hurting their ears. Like when you were little and someone told you to suck a sweet, the best way to avoid severe earache for Bébé (and therefore for all surrounding passengers) is to get Bébé to suck. On your nipple, on a bottle teat, on a dummy, on your finger. The hardest part with this is (a) getting the timing right so that you don’t run out of suckable things on the runway whilst you wait 20 minutes for every other plane under the sun to depart (b) not inadvertently over-feeding to the point you cause a vomito. As it happens our inaugural plane vomito was a bug-aggh-boo but it could happen.

~ chewy colourful rattly crinkly bulky toys, ideally of a size that when launched at a neighbour it will scare the living daylights out of them. Self-explanatory.

~ car seat – think about whether you need one and if hiring a car, is it more economical to bring your own – anything over 5 days ish with a daily hire charge for a car seat you may be as well taking your own. We got a simple luminous blue bag to transport ours (Amazon prime – Blulu). It has straps to carry on your back. As I said, the backpacker look is inevitable. Embrace it. Go bright blue. Ours attractively hit the back of my knees as I was walking so I looked like I was about to collapse with each step. #winning

~ sling / baby carrier – so helpful as it gives you some hands free time and may be useful for lulling bebe to sleep or if they get fidgety.  Mine also sometimes doubles up as a feeding cover.

~ something from your bebe’s bed. This is to help bébé transition from their normal bed to their travel bed/cot. So far we’ve been lucky enough to have travel beds wherever we’ve been. We have taken Bébé FFs sheepskin liner (thanks to Grandma + Grandpa) and his “main” bed teddy, a muslin that’s been in his bed and near mummy, and a dummy. I’m not going to lie, we’ve not had 100% success – if it’s too hot or noisy or the mattress is not comfy then Bébé FF ain’t gonna sleep. Also if you’re sharing a room with bebe and you don’t usually do this, it will also make it harder for everyone to sleep. Worst case scenario they come in avec vous. You may not sleep but bébé probably will.

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Sleep goals.

~ Bébé suncream, sun hat and bébé swimwear – ideally the body-covering SPF 50 and UV protection 40+ business. Bebe’s skin is super sensitive to the sun. Technically they shouldn’t go in the sun, like ever, but practically it is impossible unless you stay in your bedroom all holiday.  Non merci.  You have just got to be careful. Bébé FF has eczema so we have the added bonus of special creams and extra emollients before and after swims.  We do also have some “Baby banz” which look like goggles and act like sunglasses. Bébé FF is deeply confused by them and usually they only stay on for a few minutes (enough time for me to snap and give the illusion he’s loving them…malheureusement non.)

~ fewer clothes than you think. They are small but they take up space. If it’s hot, Bébé will be in vests, swimwear and nappies.  If it’s chilly, with careful surveillance and lots of bibs that will take the bulk of the dribble and food spillage, you can probably get a couple of wears out of stuff.

~ muslins. Take hundreds. The big swaddle ones are amazeboobs. Use them to wrap Bébé, shade Bébé, cover Bébé, cover the floor, cover the bed, prop up in a seat or high chair, and generally waft Bébé with cool air (makes them giggle – best.thing.ever.). Also good for stated use of mopping up milk/ débris.

~ passports and booking details.  We are beyond tired. I’ve left the house before without them.* Nuff said.

*pre-bébé, don’t tell anyone.

Travel BONUS BALLS

~ you’ve heard me rave about it before, but the Babyzen yoyo pram is a legendary luxury for nipping around the airport and onto the plane. Bebes quickly become heavy and wriggly. If you can persuade them to sit in the yoyo you save yourself armache and tears. You’re also going to be holding on to your wriggler for the duration of the journey (unless you get a little bed on longer flights), so it’s good to get some space and air before you get snuggly. The Babyzen folds up and can be carried on to the plane (although you may still have to explain this to the airport staff).

~ lavender and camomile – scents, oils, creams, bath products. These help Bébé relax and calm down for bed or travel. We have lavender in his room at home so I try to take a little pot of lavender soothing night balm with us. I’m not convinced it does much and I usually forget I’ve even brought it (story of my life) but if nothing else it smells good when I do find it.

~ baby flotation devices for the pool. We got one from Amazon and also they have them in Decathlon. Bébé FF loves it and it means we can have hands free a bit whilst letting him cool down and bobble around.

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Mr FF being just slightly protective.

~ water spritz. Often readily available in France, not so much in the UK, v handy for sweaty Bébé and parents. Cools and calms. Could also be used to clean scruffy hands and may be occasionally mistaken for deodorant. N.B. won’t go through security if bigger than 100 mls unless you can persuade them it’s for bebe. We managed this once and were pretty pleased with ourselves. Partly because we paid ten times the normal price on Amazon for a blumming Evian water spray. It is just a can of water after all. Very handy, but just water.

~ travel portion of Napisan – cold water soak on the go.

~ emergency snacks for you.  Hanger when in a foreign place is not pretty.

~ your stuff e.g. the luxurious old pants, bras and breast pads. (If you’re breastfeeding don’t forget these as they aren’t necessarily easily available in the corner store and stinky milk bra is doubly unpleasant after a week in the heat. For some reason I am incapable of packing an appropriate number of these and end up running short and having to improvise.)  As a mama bear your own packing is lowest on the list of priorities. In the past months I’ve travelled with fewer clothes than ever before, I’ve even forgotten to pack things like pants and sunglasses. It doesn’t matter and you survive. But take a moment to remember you are going away too, and you may actually enjoy the trip once you are there.

Good luck and bon voyage ❤

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Baby Stuff #3 – Bathing, Dressing and Playing

The last instalment – for now – on baby stuff.

Baby bathing products. Yes, you need to bathe your baby. Eau de fromage can become quite pungent after a while.  You have to be careful about the umbilical cord, but once that’s off, you are free to bath.

When you look at your bath and then your baby, you see there is a distinct disparity in sizes.  For the first few weeks we actually used the sink! When the time comes to upgrade to the actual bath, there are some great bath seats around, some that swivel as your babe grows, and you can of course let them splash around pure and simples on their backs.  Careful though – water in the ear can cause ear infections.

Bébé FF LOVES the bath now.  Usually he demonstrates his excitement with a little piddle as his feet touch the water.  It wasn’t always like this.  The journey to loving bath time took a while – I remember his first bath with Auntie Em and Mary, and there was a lot of screaming.  And a few wees and maybe a trickle of poo. The first months were made up of a cacophony of screams (before, during and post bath) not to mention howling when it came to being dressed.

You may have received hundreds of samples of bath products for your baby, all claiming to make your babe’s super soft skin….softer.  Does it need to be softer?

Nope.  It turns out that – in our experience at least – you do not need the super-gentle-made-of-fluffy-marshmallows-and-clouds cream, in fact, you don’t need much at all.  Especially if your baby has sensitive skin, despite what the marketing tells you.  It is best to keep it very simple. (Every baby is different so do see your GP if you have skin concerns, it could be allergy related (washing detergent, moisturiser, bath products, your perfume, the air…) and lots of babies have baby eczema which will clear up.  We also had cradle cap (dentinox seems to be the universal winner on that). We received lots of mixed advice from the health visitors and the doctors – don’t bathe him, bathe him every day, jump up and down whilst you apply five layers of cream…etc.)

We have tried lots of lovely stuff, including Mummy & Me, Oilatum and Neal’s Yard, coconut oil (yum) and currently use Aveeno and QV emollients.

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The post-bath snuggles though are wonderful.   And baby bath towels with the little hood are the BEST.  The more soft and snuggly the better.

Then on to baby clothes, because these are kind of critical and also make up a large volume of the “stuff”.  You might assume clothes will be bargainous.  After all, they use significantly less material. Right?  Wrong. Despite the fact bebe is about 1/6th the size of a normal human being, his clothes are only about 1/2 of the price. Sometimes the same price. Ok slight exaggeration but don’t tell Mr FF….

Bebe won’t like his clothes. He doesn’t want his head shoved through a small hole ever again.  Whoever thought to put poppers on the back of newborn clothes clearly has never tried to dress a screaming newborn.  Think practical.  What is the easiest thing to dress your baby in?  I highly recommend zip-up items for the first few months. If not for your sanity, for the hubs.  (hint:  Don’t put them off dressing the babes, it adds to the general reluctance to change nappies…)

You will also quickly discover that those baby clothes will usually get approximately two wears. Yep, two goes on the item.  And n.b. that does not mean two full days’ wear. That means two wears.  It could quite literally be on and off in the space of a poo.  And, to be fair, the second wear presupposes you know how to fill and activate the washing machine – with one hand – and you have some pretty effective stain remover.  This can be bitterly disappointing and your favourite gift item, the little Petit Bateau onesie or the Bonpoint suit will be ruined…  I digress.

Last there’s the play equipment. This becomes critical after a few weeks of intense cuddling.  Your baby can barely see beyond a black and white cloud of blur at this point. But bien sur he needs a state of the art “gym” including tummy time, scrunkle noises, flying objects, bells, whistles, hooters and insanely bright and clashing colours EVERYWHERE. One similarity with adult life : when he comes out of the gym he is exhausted. When I say “Bebe FF had a great session in the gym and he’s zonked when he comes out” it’s brilliant – you can see people momentarily believing he’s actually been to the gym. Yes, he was totally nailing the cross trainer…

 

He also needs books and cuddly toys so that he can scream every time you place one close to him. Sometimes he will dribble or even vomit on them. Brillo.  He needs things to chew on to help those teef push through. N.b. your finger will always be first choice and you won’t loose that in the bottom of your interminable baby bag (I think I need to post separately about those…!)

All these things take up loads of space in your previously sparsely* inhabited living space and will, naturally, require special “baby” or “nursery” furniture for storage. Bam. Another wad of cash disappears.

So what’s the message here? Three posts about baby stuff.  Likely more to follow.  I haven’t even mentioned nappies, wipes, nappy bins and bags, mussies and milk!

Having a baby actually does cost a fortune, and takes up all the space in the house.  But that’s what a MasterCard is for.  You can’t put a price on your baby’s happiness or safety.  And some of the baby stuff is L’AMAZEBALLS.

New Parents:

If you’re about to embark on this journey of joy and you aren’t made of money, don’t panic.  There are LOADS of ways to get what you want without going bankrupt.

I will try to include tips as I go throughout this blog, but to begin with, a few obvious ones:

  • check out nearly new sales around your area, the NCT organise plenty – you can often get designer attire for primarni prices.  I’ve yet to get to one but Momma F loves a nearly new.  N.B. You have to get there early.
  • Explore Schpock and eBay for equipment that is new or in very good condition.  There are also lots of Facebook pages for local parents selling and looking for goodies.
  • When it comes to nappies and wipes, be sure to test out samples – if you sign up to sites like this one you will get bits and bobs through the post or vouchers to use in stores: http://free.emmasdiary.co.uk.
  • Sign up to Mothercare to get 10% off initial purchases.
  • Amazon Prime. Nuff said.
  • Before you buy your travel system check the auction / second hand sites to see how many are selling and why – useful way to gauge how long they lasted, how much they were used, and why they are being sold!!  If you see someone with a pram shopping for prams… consider asking them why. But don’t act like a stalker.
  • If you are looking the obvious choices are Bugaboo, Joolz, Stokke, Uppababy, MaxiCosi, Cossatto and we went with Venicci.  We also just got the amazing babyzen Yoyo 6+ – more on that later.

 

*anyone that knows me will appreciate the use of “sparse” is possibly slightly misleading.

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Baby Stuff #2 – Travel Systems

The big one often reserved to daddy is the pram, buggy or more accurately, the “travel system”. These are devices on wheels used to transport your precious bundle from A to B when it can’t be achieved using your arms. The hot wheels.  Typically made up of a chassis, a bassinet / flat bed (babe lies flat from birth to approx. 6 months), chair (approx. 6 months+) and a car seat.  This purchase will likely be subject to more debate than Brexit at Westminster.

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Travel system purchasing is definitely one of the more exciting parts of baby shopping and can be done as couple, with many a romantic moment smiling at each other between the aisles of pushchairs in John Lewis.

 

You will also spend a lot of time furtively glancing at the other similarly-pregnated new couples, trying to decipher their potential choices and underlying rationale.  You may see someone already with a bébé in a pram, looking at other prams.  Take note: that doesn’t bode well for the existing pram.

You may spend a bit of time pushing the empty buggy around the shop and when you get entangled in the chassis, pretending you are trying to put the break on and collapse the contraption.  You blame the bump – silly bump, getting in the way – obviously when the bébé arrives you won’t have any problems! What’s more you will suddenly have become superwoman, turkey wings transformed into solid guns and you will be able to lift the pram and car seat with just one hand, whilst delicately balancing le petit in the other.  Perhaps feeding simultaneously.

Good luck with that.

When your time comes, you will probably look at and test 10, maybe 20 travel systems and in so doing travel half way around the country for the pleasure.  Remember you are pregnant and tired and a little groggy. Whichever one you buy, when you actually start to use it, tired and sore and sleep deprived, you will immediately realise your criteria were ridiculous. e.g. nice colour, shiny frame, matches my changing bag and nail colour, has a big basket for shopping, and – oh look – a cup holder! Brilliant! I will need that.

Question: Does the cup holder help you getting the damn thing into the car??? Can you even lift it?! Does it fit in your boot? Can you fold it or unfold it with one arm? Is there any suspension or does your baby practically fly out when you go over a bump? How quickly can you get your foot, or hand, on the break?  How easily can you detach the bed?  How low do you need to bend to put bébé in?  How wide is the contraption? Will it fit in shop doors?  Or coffee shop doors?  Because if it won’t, you are going to struggle getting that coffee my dear.  And don’t forget the adapters – have you got the correct adapters to fix the car seat to the chassis, because if you haven’t, you’ve got a problem my friend. By the way they are extra $$$.  You get the gist.

BTW travel systems are the price of a small car. Ok, slight exaggeration but you get the point. Guess what, most of them last for about 6 months.  Maybe a year. Tops.  More likely than not you will end up buying a buggy as soon as you possibly can, when bébé can hold their heads better, which is light, small and costs a fraction of your travel system.

NB: Unless you get a complete MaxiCosi system, their car seat is the industry best so you might end up getting their car seat (pebble/ pebble plus) – if your “system” includes a car seat, one third of it is immediately redundant. On this point it is worth finding out if you can get the package without the car seat, hopefully for slightly less $$$.

Oh and guess what, just to finish on the babe, after all, this is for monsieur Jnr – he won’t necessarily love the pram.  Why would he?  He wants to be snuggled close to mummy or daddy, not bouncing around in a little cold box! So I strongly recommend a Babybjorn or similar carrier or sling (something like the NCT caboo carrier for indoors), to get through those moments when your babe refuses to go back in the pram.  It can be very awkward when you’re trying to get home and bébé has decided he has had enough of the wheeled box. Bye bye more money, hello peaceful journeys!

<Tips on buggy shopping to be found at the end of Baby Stuff #3>

 

Baby Stuff #1

Babies are expensive. Everyone starts to tell you this about a minute after you announce your happy news. You nod politely but secretly imagine yourself laden with baby joys in one hand and a full purse in the other. After all, you are a master shopper.  Bargains fall into your hands.  Shopping is easy.

When your bump is sufficiently secure and protruding, you will start the exciting task of equipping yourself for ze bebe.  This involves reading endless blogs, signing up for every advisory webpage under the sun and, primarily, mothercare and mamas and papas, reviewing endless “must have” lists and seeking individual and personal recommendations from anyone who has ever been in close proximity to a child.

It is at this point you start to realise that, yes, everyone was quite right: if you survive the birth, you may be bankrupt.  How can such a small thing require so much stuff??

This is the first of a series of blogs on baby stuff.

#1 Sleeping

Let’s start with the simple stuff. When you think of a baby, how do you imagine them?  Peaceful, angelic….snoozing.  You usually imagine them asleep, right? So it probably doesn’t cross your mind that your baby might not actually sleep. Of course he will sleep! I’ve seen lots of them, it’s all they do!

How wrong you are.

You get all the basic sleep devices for a tiny human being; a moses basket, maybe a crib or a cot attached to your bed, or separate, ready for the big move after 6 months (!!).  You get the special mini sheets and blankets and cushions-for-ants. Maybe even a dangly musical mobile, and the special sheep – you know, Ewan the Sheep, the fluffy white, glowing noise machine that pretty much everyone and their uncle recommends… (see pic!)  But that’s just the start, my friends.  You see, the baby won’t actually want to sleep in the basket when it is bed time. Or in the crib.  Ewan the blessed Sheep won’t help. In fact, there is only one sleep thing baby requires and that is to sleep on mummy.  He doesn’t care about white noise, soft sheets or mobiles. He wants warm, milky, sweaty, tired mummy.

By the way, it is strongly recommended by the NHS, the midwife, the health visitor, your mum etc. that baby does not sleep with or on you.  PANIC FACE. What do you do?  You’re extremely sleep deprived and insanely protective of this little thing.  Ok, it makes sense that they should not sleep on you or in your bed – what if you fall asleep or roll over? It’s logical and safe advice not to do it. Except logic isn’t necessarily prevalent right now.  Your baby literally won’t sleep anywhere that’s not you. And just as a reminder, you haven’t slept yourself in what feels like a decade.  You are literally delirious from sleep deprivation.  Every time you feed the little babe they fall asleep on you.  So what the heck do you do?  This was the situation we found ourselves in. To make matters worse Bébe FF wouldn’t sleep on his back at any time, so even when we managed to get him to sleep somewhere that wasn’t on mummy (or daddy, or grandma) then we had to wedge him onto his side.  Not as bad as him sleeping on his front, but still not ideal.

If sleeping problems happen to you, you may need the next level of sleeping device.  And you guessed it, there are loads to choose from, they all claim to work miracles and they come with a hefty price tag.  There’s the baby swaddles that claim to work miracles (we found certain “normal” blankets worked well and secured Bébé FF nicely), baby sounds and smells (lavender and camomile) and then there’s the memory-foam-based-item-that-feels-safe-and-snuggly to essentially wedge your baby into a position that they feel safe enough to sleep in like a womb (like the cocoonababy, the sleepyhead, etc, although sometimes towels will do).  Why someone hasn’t invented one in the shape of boobs I do not know.

In our house, le must ‘ave for sleeping baby is the “Lambie” – a lambskin that bébé can snuggle into, that keeps him warm or cool, and travels around in all sleeping devices as a constant.  He loves it.

Oh and one last thing – when they are asleep safe and sound in their cribs or cots or baskets, with their sleepyheads, sleeping music and sleeping suits, you will then need a baby monitor to check – roughy every 2 seconds – that your bundle is, in fact, asleep.

A baby monitor is essentially a walkie talkie.  Except baby monitors do so much more.  They are literally all singing all dancing… you can get ones with a camera and screen and a light show and musical accompaniment, including white noise, classical music, ones with a safety mat alarm thingamy (I’ve heard these are more hassle than they are worth) – the choices are endless.  Naturally, the level of technical wizardry is proportionate to the level of $$$ you will be handing over.  This may be one that Daddy decides is his domaine.  Mr FF made the executive decision on ours (BT) because, you know, even though it is a baby monitor there are technical things like batteries involved so best to leave it to the experts…

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Unknown baby winning at sleep.  FYI probably not a safe sleeping device.

 

 

Bogeys

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Look at those nostrils….

It’s official. I am obsessed with bogeys. They are everywhere. And they need to be removed. Not my bogeys, I hasten to add: baby bogeys.

Bebe FF produces an insane number of big bogeys, that block his nose and he can’t breathe.  Most troubling – he can’t pick them.  They just sit there blocking his nasal passageways and dangling, temptingly, on the cusp of his nostril. Just a little bit, sticking out. It’s a shame because his little fingers would fit perfectly up that nostril, but he can’t do that because… Well, he’s a little baby and his hands are still scary foreign objects that wack him in the face from time to time. And they look like they are stuck on, Michelin man style.  Grabbing, yes, delicate picking, no.

So, what do I do? I’m his mother, I’m here to protect him and help him survive. He can’t breathe well with all those bogeys blocking his airways. I need to get them out! How do you get a little crunchy, gluey stone out of a tiny hole whilst the owner of the nostril is wiggling and screaming?? And if not wiggling and screaming, and the boy is in fact sleeping, is it worth the risk of waking him up just to get that bogey out? I’ve asked myself this MANY times over the past weeks.  The answer is usually no.

I’ve bought millions of devices (OK, two…) that claim to extract ze bogeys from ze nose. Zey do not. Zey are far too large to get close to the nostril, let alone suction out the little bogey monsters firmly affixed to the nasal passage. So I’ve resorted to my little finger nail. I’ve spent a disproportionate amount of time with my little finger up baby FF’s nose trying to scoop out the bogeys and release his airways.  It’s like one of those slightly creepy long finger nails people grow to strum the guitar. Well, mine is to get baby bogeys.

I only realised I was truly obsessed when I was at a social gathering with my NCT pals and rather than join in on the conversation, I was furtively burrowing in the little man’s nose, having spotted the mother of all bogeys. After much wriggling and poking I eventually got it and slowly extracted it. I cried out “Ahagot ya!” before I realised I was in public and then had to explain that I was delighted to have retrieved a massive bogey… Silence. I then made a point of walking over to the bin to dispose of said bogey, which in my mind was the size of a rock. Of course it wasn’t and I lost it en route, but no-one needs to know that.  Then I felt lost, post adrenalin rush, no more bogeys to scoop …what next?!

My bogey addiction is real.

Update: I tried the crazy tube sucky device (pictured – the “Baby Nose-Clear“) yesterday in a moment of desperation. First seen in action in France I found the concept both terrifying and disgusting. However, it turns out you don’t actually suck the bogey into your mouth, obviously… There’s a filter! And guess what – it worked! The bogey came down and momma grabbed it! Woohoo!  Available on Amazon and in Boots.  Bath water also helps.

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Second update: Bébé FF’s nostrils have grown so much that this is no longer an issue! Took about 4 months…!!