How To Replace Dairy?

Oatly

As a breastfeeding mother, this topic of eliminating dairy from our diet resonates at a very personal level.

Ever since I started nursing my baby, I developed an aversion to dairy. I could not for the life of me express my milk without feeling extreme discomfort and unease. The idea made me squirm. So to think of a cow with her udders attached to a machine sucking milk out of her which is originally meant for her calves became simply unacceptable for me.

Cow’s milk is for calves, just like my milk is for my baby. My milk is not for my dogs or cats. Humans are the only species in this entire world that consumes milk from another species long after their body has no need for any dairy consumption whatsoever.

A well balanced wholefood or plant based diet will make sure that you get your daily calcium intake without having to consume any form of milk at all. And the long-standing belief that milk is a vital source of much-needed calcium has also been widely debunked. (For a wide ranging review of some of the debate around this, see this piece in the Guardian).

Indeed, worse, Colin Campbell, the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University, claims that: “cows’ milk protein may be the single most significant chemical carcinogen to which humans are exposed”.

My daughter suffered from very bad eczema and stomach upset. Ever since I took dairy out of her diet, her eczema and tummy have resolved themselves and never come back.

Why? I suspect lactose intolerance, which numerous studies have found to be incredibly widespread. Lactose is the sugar in milk, and it needs to be broken down by the enzyme lactase that lives in our intestines and bowels. “If the lactose we absorb is greater than our lactase capacity, undigested lactose travels to the large intestine, where it ferments, producing gas, carbon dioxide and lactic acid. The result? Bloating, cramps, diarrhoea and farts.”

Did you know that a stunning 75% of Indians are lactose intolerant?! Uncle keeps farting? Get him on hemp milk instead!

Anyhow, so how to transition into a non-dairy lifestyle. It is easy!

There are so many plant based milk available

Soy Milk

Almond Milk

Oat Milk

Hemp Milk

Coconut Milk

Hazelnut Milk

……and many more

Nutritional Info Comparison

Soy Milk (per serving of 250 ml)                         Cow’s milk (per serving of 250 ml)

Calcium          : 300 mg                                               Calcium          : 300 mg

Protein            : 8.5 g                                                    Protein           : 8 g

Fat                    : 4.8 g                                                    Fat                   : 9 g

Saturated Fat : 0.8 g                                                    Saturated Fat :  5.7 g

Total Carbs     : 0.8 g                                                    Total Carbs     : 11.7 g

Sugars             : 0.3 g                                                    Sugars              : 11.7 g

Vitamin B12   : 1.0 ug                                                 Vitamin B12    : 1.0 ug

How can I get enough Calcium?

As you can see in the nutritional facts above that plant-based milk and cow’s milk have the same amounts of calcium in it. (If you are on a vegan diet you’ll need less calcium per day)

I do understand that plant-based milk can either be difficult to get hold of in some places or a bit expensive. Worry not, because there are so many food items that can provide you with sufficient amount of calcium in a day.

Brown or White Bread (Calcium is added to bread by law in the UK)

Chia Seeds

Kale

Spinach

Broccoli

White Beans

Black Eyed Peas

Almonds

Dried Figs

Seaweed

Sesame Seed (Tahini)

Tofu

Oranges

Tip: I drink two big glasses of green smoothie a day on top of a balanced diet. That ensures I get my daily dose of iron, calcium and other nutrients that I may have missed out.

But I Can’t Live Without Cheese? 

Sure. You won’t live long with cheese either. Cheese is full of saturated fat and salt. So if you are health conscious, cheese shouldn’t be your favourite.

Anyhow, there are a lot of plant-based cheeses available in the market now. There are also a lot of Youtube videos on how to make your own cheese. Cashew being the main ingredient but I make my cheeses with almonds too (watch this space for some tasty recipes!)

Supplementing

I don’t supplement but I have nothing against supplementing either. If in doubt, always supplement yourself with an over the counter stuff. Just make sure you don’t overdose on calcium. It can have bad effects on your kidneys.

I am not a huge supporter of taking pills. I try to consume a well-balanced diet so if possible, do you research and try and eat healthy. Do not concentrate too much on one nutrient. If you eat a wholesome diet, you are bound to get a whole range of nutrients than one.

Confessions 

You must have a heard a lot of vegans promote the idea that non-dairy products are as good as the dairy products. Some even claim that one can’t tell the difference.

Even though that might be true in some cases, in my experience, it isn’t true in most cases.

Non-dairy products do not taste like dairy. Plant based dairy can replicate the texture, the look and the nutrition but not necessarily the taste.

Non -dairy does not taste bad, it tastes different and a slow transition would be best. I started off with sweetened milk to develop a taste for soy milk. Once I got used to the texture and all, I switched on to the unsweetened milk. Trial and error baby, trial and error!

It takes time to get used to non-dairy products. But the way I think about it is that my taste is not bigger than my desire to be compassionate and healthy. Infact, after almost a year of not consuming dairy, I could not tolerate a kiss from my husband who was in the middle of eating dairy ice-cream! It’s all a matter of habit. Your tastebuds will evolve.

Non-dairy options are healthier than dairy in most cases because of it’s added vitamins and minerals. Infact most fortified dairy products have added vitamin D, which is important for effective calcium absorption, especially if you come from a cold country like me.

Don’t have to be a vegan to try non-dairy! Start incorporating non-dairy slowly into your diet rather than taking it out completely if you are not into absolutism.

Let me know your experience with non-dairy? 

 

Breastfeeding For A Year & Counting…

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Copyrights @LouiseGibbens

As a kid, I was breastfed for 7 to 8 years! It was the best bonding experience I shared with my mother. My mum and I are still very close and I have not seen a doctor for more than once in 20 years! Therefore, when it came to my baby, my decision to breastfeed was pretty straightforward.

Baby Ro was born at home. Soon after his birth, we had skin to skin and we let Ro latch on when he was ready. He was ready within the first few minutes to be honest. I struggled initially, more in terms of handling as I was overwhelmed by it all, but luckily Ro came all ready with a perfect latch. He knew exactly what to do. And thus began our beautiful journey of breastfeeding.

 

First few days……

Eventhough, baby Ro had a perfect latch and my breastfeeding journey was seemingly easy and straightforward, it wasn’t completely pain free. Baby Ro was very tiny at birth and so was his latch. Smaller latch meant a lot of cuts and recurring blebs on my nipples. They were very painful. I took pain killers. I felt like I failed myself. After having given birth without any pain relief, not even gas & air, I succumbed to the pain of breastfeeding.

I wanted to enjoy breastfeeding. I hated the fact that I was fearing the pain as the time for his next feed was approaching. If a pain killer would help me achieve a positive experience without causing any harm to my baby, why shouldn’t I take it!  In about 6 weeks, my milk supply was properly established and so was Ro’s latch. My nipples were sore free and breastfeeding was as joyous as I had hoped.

Breastfeeding in public

There was nothing in the world that would stop me from feeding my baby. Because of the support system I have in my family and amongst my friends, I was pretty confident about feeding in public. I was always slightly worried about people making snide remarks at me but I was prepared to ignore it and not let that have any effect on me. To my surprise, no one ever said anything. Infact, I received a lot of love and praises from people.

I still breastfeed in public and plan to feed him into his toddlerhood.

Breastfeeding and baby weight

Ro was a mere 2.5 kgs at birth which isn’t an alarmingly low weight for Indians, but according to UK standards, he was pretty small. Luckily, I established breastfeeding right after birth, but I was told that if he did not gain weight, we will have to talk. I seriously did not want to give him formula unless absolutely necessary.

Roshan wasn’t gaining tons but he was gaining at a steady pace. That gave me hope and instilled my faith in my milk supply. I had a great support system in my mum, my husband , my doula and my friend who is also a breastfeeding peer supporter. They all helped me stay focussed.

After couple of months, I started receiving some pressure from relatives back home to give him some formula to make him chubby. I, very politely, ignored their advice and carried on.

Roshan kept gaining weight slowly but steadily. He has never been a chubby baby and I do not particularly desire him to be. Yet, Ro is one of the happiest, noisiest and most awake/alert baby around the block.

Feeding routine

There is no routine. I feed on demand and that is what I did when he was born. He sometimes fed every 2 hours, on somedays every 30 minutes; sometimes he fed for an hour whilst some other times he fed for 10 mins. There was no routine or expectations. We chose to simply respond to every cue by breastfeeding. We may not understand what is wrong with the baby or why is he crying, but breastfeeding happens to be the right answer to most worries. So use it to your benefit!

Tips:

Breastfeeding can be demanding but it does not have to be so tiresome. It is so much more rewarding and enjoyable. Those little moments when they shove their fingers into your mouth, or giggle whilst still breastfeeding or look straight into your eyes or stroke your chin or fiddle with your necklace; all those moments are priceless! Trust me!

Here are some handy tips that will help you enjoy your breastfeeding journey:

Water: Drink a lot of water. Dehydration can have some really serious problems. It can not only have an effect on your supply, but also have an impact on your mood. Headaches, muscle aches, grumpiness, insomnia or overly emotional behaviours are often signs of lack of water. So please mama’s, drink a lot of water to boost your supply and energy levels!

Skin to skin: Skin to skin is so important, not only for warmth and to maintain body temperatures but also milk supply. The closer the baby is to your skin, the more responsive your body becomes to the cue of making more milk.

Babywearing: It helps achieve the closeness, calmness and skin to skin required to produce or establish milk supply.

Oats: This may not apply to all, but till date, a bowl of porridge really fills me up (I mean my boob). I can tell oats helps me with my milk supply a lot. So, if ever feeling unsure of the supply, eat a bowl of porridge before going for the formula.

Sleep on the boob: This one is frowned upon by many people. There is a culture of putting the baby down as soon as they fall asleep on the boob. No, please let them just have the boob in their mouth unless they let go completely. The motion of sucking is not a waste of time, there is a lot of communication going on between the baby’s saliva and your nipples. When the saliva comes in contact with the areola, it sends a very important message to your body. It exposes your body to all the bacteria the baby has come in contact with, and if the baby has come in contact with any bad bacteria, this saliva sends a message to your body to make milk rich in enzymes and antibodies needed to fight the germs  and infection the baby is infested with. Therefore, the baby gets rid of the germs before it even has a chance to make him fall ill. Don’t you think it is amazing?

I have spent hours and still do, sitting on the sofa with him in my arms, sucking on my nipples, clearly not drinking but fast asleep. It is the best time to read a book or a good excuse to just sit down and chill out.

The aim of this article is not to make non-breastfeeding mommy’s feel bad. I understand that breastfeeding is a very personal choice and it may not be for everyone. The number of women who can actually not produce milk is about 2% I think, and in those cases formula is probably your best option. If in doubt about your supply, please seek the right kind of help. If you produce breastmilk, you are more likely to produce enough for your baby (some women established proper supply a bit later but they do eventually). So any aunt telling you to feed your baby formula because the baby is too thin should not be taken seriously before you have met some lactation consultants. 

 

 

Babywearing, Society and Soul Slings

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“Babywearing” is one of the best ways to carry your baby, in my opinion.

I knew I wanted to babywear even before I was pregnant. I loved the idea of being able to hold my baby so close to me without tiring myself out – and while keeping my arms free.

When I was pregnant, I also went shopping for a buggy, but couldn’t find a single buggy that felt small, light and comfortable enough. (I also couldn’t imagine making my dogs heel alongside a buggy. And as I walk dogs for a living, folding a buggy in and out of the car numerous times per day on my dog walks would have been really inconvenient).

Wearing Baby Ro

I wore baby Ro from week one of his life. He was very tiny at birth and so it was not easy to wear him without swallowing him up in fabric, but we started off with a kanga wrap, caboo, homemade saree wraps and finally moved onto full buckle slings.

Bonding

If mothers choose to breastfeed and co-sleep bonding’s not usually a problem. But babywearing is an added bonus – and also makes it extremely easy for fathers and grandparents to bond with the baby.

Magic Sleep Dust

Once you find the right kind of sling, you will know that some of them are blessed with a magic sleep dust. As soon as you pop your baby in, he/she will cosy up and go to sleep.

Skin-to-skin:

Babywearing makes getting skin-to-skin time so much easier. In summer, when Ro would get fussy, the only thing that would calm him down would be some skin-to-skin and with chores to do, I couldn’t just lock myself up in a bedroom topless giving Ro cuddles. That is when wraps came handy. I have answered the door topless with just a baby snuggled up in a wrap. No one ever realised!

Love Hormone:

Cuddles are good for us. It helps the babies to regulate their stress levels. Babywearing lowers the blood pressure, soothes the baby easily and releases the love hormone called Oxytocin. Oxytocin makes both baby and mama feel happy and connected, making motherhood an even better experience.

Hands – Free:

I have two bigger children and two dogs, plus my dog walking business to look after. I need my hands free. With a sling, I was able to go back to my school run routine as soon as my baby-mooning period was over and I started my work immediately after a 40 day long hiatus. I could take care of chores while the baby slept in the sling. And these days he looks around, chatters away, and even eats a snack whilst in the sling.

Breastfeeding on the go:

Yes, you can breastfeed on the go when you babywear. It takes a bit of practice but with the right sling and the correct technique, it is easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Society

soul slings

Once seen as entirely natural, babywearing was pushed aside by the advent of the pram (alongside Victorian mores) and came to be seen as a preserve of the poor and the indigenous. It’s now come full circle,thankfully.

When I expressed my desire to wear my baby, I was mocked by some of my Indian friends because as a child we grew up seeing beggars or street vendors carrying their infants in a sling made out of scrap piece of cloth. Even though strollers weren’t such a big thing in India (partly due to the lack of space), babywearing wasn’t a go-to option either.

Detachment parenting, cry it out methods, supernanny and stroller companies all curbed babywearing. But attachment parenting and acceptance of instinctual parenting have paved the way for its return.

I think babywearing helps raise babies into secure and confident beings They say that babies who are raised with attachment parenting as an ethos, are less likely to succumb to substance abuse. I think that is amazing!

There are several myths about babywearing in our society that are genuinely untrue:

  1. Babies will get spoilt: Not true. Babies who are carried a lot, are less fussy, less needy and more confident. Babies who are carried have lesser reason to act out to get your attention.
  2. You will mess up your back: No you won’t. An ergonomically designed sling/wrap will help achieve a better posture if anything else and distribute baby weight across your torso and hips!
  3. Too big to be carried: Honestly, let the care-taker decide!
  4. You will delay crawling and walking: Not True! I carry my baby a lot. Probably 5 to 7 hours a day. Bonkers right? It has not prevented him from crawling at 10 months. His neck and trunk muscles developed strong enough to sit up at an appropriate age and crawl at the right time and at 12 months, he is already walking holding on to things.

 

Soul Slings Review:

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I have tried various slings and wraps to carry Baby Ro. It took me a while to find the right one and just when I found the one I thought I loved, Soul Slings sent me their Full Buckle SSC and I fell in love all over again.

Fabric:

Soul Slings full buckle carriers are made from woven cotton wraps. So they are very soft and they simply mould into your baby’s body perfectly.

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Light and Airy:

This was such a selling point for me. Most carriers available in the UK are very warming which is great for winter months but not so much during heat waves. As a dog walker, if the weather gets even slightly warm, it is easy to get hot. This is when a Soul full buckle feels perfectly breathable compared to the western makes, which can be slightly bulky.

Breastfeeding Friendly:

It is super simple to feed in Soul carriers. There’s an adjustment panel on both chest straps to lower the baby, to reach to an optimum position to feed without putting pressure on your shoulders and back. The hood helps in maintaining some privacy too.

back carry

Back Carry:

In 11 months of babywearing Roshan, I truly never managed to carry him on my back. I always found it difficult for some reason with my other carriers. Maybe it was just that he was small and I was less confident or maybe it was the carrier. All I know is that Soul full buckles made it easy. The lightness of the carrier and the smooth glide of the adjustment buckles made it very easy to back carry Ro. It is super quick to do a back carry with this sling, which is essential because Ro starts fussing if I take too long to achieve the optimum position and comfort.

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Design:

The one I have is called the Topaz Jacquard Full Buckle. They have some amazing prints but I like their geometric patterns; the colour adds just the right amount of vibrancy and is nicely unisex.

The one they sent me is also quite versatile in terms of colour coding with your own outfit. It was one of the things we’d consider when spending on a carrier.

Ergonomics:

The soul carriers are made very ergonomically for both baby and the wearer. The babies achieve a good M-position in the carrier with their knees higher than their hips which is crucial for their optimum hip development.

The padded should straps provides comfort to the carrier and the waist belt helps distribute the weight across the body, thereby taking away pressure from the shoulders.

Sizing:

Soul Slings full buckles, in my experience, comes a bit bigger. They have a lot of give. The standard carrier is from 7kgs up. A lot of babies achieve 7kg by the age of 6 months but my Ro is a small baby. He was only 7.5 kgs, when he was 11 months old. So although he could only start using the standard Soul sling at 11 months, it has so much space for him to grow, I don’t think we would need the toddler size one (which is great).

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Easy to wash:

I found it super easy to wash the carrier. When you have a baby that enjoys his snacks on the go, your carrier ends up with all sort of sticky things on it. To wash it, I simply fastened all the buckles and popped it in a pillow case. I washed it on a gentle 30 degrees wash for an hour and air dried it. Ok, no I dried it on my electric dryer (as it rains a lot in England). But it was dry and ready to go overnight. Clean and fresh as a daisy.

Price: 

My sling costs Rs. 5,750 INR which is about £70 GBP. A standard full buckle costs anywhere from £60 to £120. So I think it is appropriately priced especially for me as I won’t need a toddler size at all. It is total value for money and a babywearing win!

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My only minor gripe is that the carrier doesn’t have a pocket – but I know that Soul Slings have started incorporating that into their latest design. 

All in all I love Soul Slings. It is my favourite so far. I highly recommend it. I think, Indian companies have nailed the art of making slings better than western countries in so many ways, it makes me proud.

 

Why We Chose Cloth Nappies?

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There are many good reasons why people choose to cloth nappy their babies. Ours was essentially environmental (also, I am a sucker for cute prints).

We, as a family try to be as conscious as possible when it comes to the environment and we try to incorporate a lot of cruelty free products into our lifestyle.

Infact, the very first thing I brought for the baby was a big stash of cloth nappies. I do not like the idea of something synthetic and plastic against my babies skin. So when I knew I had an option to cloth nappy my baby, it was a no brainer that I would go that route.

When I tell people that I cloth nappy my baby, I get a lot of questions. I will try and answer as many queries as I can think of, some queries were received by people and some made up by me to make sure we cover all the basis when it comes to cloth nappy-ing.

1.  Isn’t it a lot of work, washing and drying them?

Yes it is!

Unfortunately, we have ignored the eco-system for so long that, to be honest, we cannot afford the luxury of ignoring it anymore. In order to save our planet, we will have to go that extra mile. 

Honestly, it only seems like extra work because we live in a quick fix culture. Once you get a hang of things, you start incorporating the nappy wash into your routine and before you know it, it becomes less of a hassle. 

The rewards of not using plastic based nappies to the eco-system and our babies skin is so huge that the time consumption involved in cloth nappy washing seems miniscule. 

Aren’t cloth nappies expensive?

No. My baby is 12 months old and I might have spent a total of about £250 – £300 on nappies. Now it seems a lot at first but honestly it is not even a tenth of money you would  be spending if you were using disposables.

Also, these nappies only get more absorbent with use and last for a long time which means you could potentially use it for your next baby (s).

They also hold their resell value. After selling, if you tally your money, you would have spent much less than your initial investment. 

Won’t babies feel wet? 

Yes and No. 

Most cloth nappies have a top layer of microbire which prevents babies from feeling extremely wet and protects the skin from extreme dampness.

It does feel wetter than disposables if left unchanged for a long time. But it is this damp feeling that helps toddlers potty train themselves early. Babies in disposables are much harder to potty train because it keeps them dry and comfortable for so long.

How often do you change nappies?

You don’t have to change nappies as often when they are babies unless ofcourse they are heavy wetters. But as they grow older, you need to change them ever 2-3 hours just like disposables. 

How do you clean poo-ey nappy? Isn’t that gross?

Yes, they are vile!

But when they are a newborn and are exclusively fed on milk, their poo is water soluble, so they can go in the same wash as the pee nappies. 

When they get older and start solids, that’s when things get dirty and muckier. In my experience, the easiest thing to do is to put a biodegradable nappy liner that catches all the poo. They can be disposed off easily. If you do catch some poo in the nappy, the microbire is such that you can, in most cases simply flick it in the toilet and the poo comes off, if not a bit of jet spray and job done!

How to get rid of stains?

Sun them out or let it rain! After you have washed the nappies just dry them outdoors, the sun has magical powers. Even on a grey day, it usually works. I sometimes let it get rained on and then leave them to dry as the weather settles a bit. I haven’t had to try anything else. 

Be careful what detergent you use. No liquids or bio detergents. Also, stay away from stain removers. They totally ruin the shelf life of your nappies.

Don’t they take ages to dry?

Cloth nappies come in different materials. Microbires and cotton for example don’t take very long to dry but bamboo takes longer to dry. 

They recommend not to tumble dry your nappies but if you are in a cold country like I am, I would recommend investing in an electric air-dryer. I brought mine for £30, second hand. My nappies dry overnight and it is a handy investment which you can resell easily, especially to someone who is cloth nappying.

It doesn’t sound travel friendly, does it?

It is a matter of perspective.

Cloth nappies consume some space plus they take some time to dry. You have to carry atleast two days worth of nappies which can be anything from 12 to 15 nappies.

When we travel for day trips or to a friends house, we don’t bother with cloth nappies. But if we are visiting family and they don’t mind us using their washing machine to wash dirty nappies, we carry cloth nappies. 

Handy tip: I always leave a few clean nappies home, for them to be ready to use when we arrive back just incase what I bring back is dirty and wet. 

What kind of nappies do you use?

There are so many choices but we use two types. We use all in ones and two parter. 

In two parters, you have the minky nappy and then a leakproof cover. An all – in – one is exactly what it says. It is like putting a disposable on. No cover involved. 

All in ones are less bulky and but also comparatively less absorbent. Hence, they are perfect for day time wear, easy to pack in your nappy bag and quick to change.

Whereas, a two parter is a tad bulkier but has a brilliant absorbency. They are perfect for night time wear. But I use two parter even in the day time. They are my favourite as I have a super heavy wetter.

Did you use them right from birth?

No. But that is only because my baby was very tiny at birth. He was a mere 2.5 kgs baby. Most newborn nappies fit babies that are 6 oz or 7 oz and up. There are cloth nappies for tiny babies but I knew that my baby will outgrow them as soon as my milk was established and he started gaining weight. 

Will my baby get a nappy rash?

Well unlike disposables, cloth nappies are notorious for wasting your money, that is if you have invested on an expensive nappy rash cream (not all rash cream are cloth nappy friendly by the way).

In all honesty, my baby has been wearing cloth nappies since he was 6 weeks old and I have never had any problems because unlike disposables there are no chemicals in the nappies. Having said that babies do get rashes especially if they aren’t changed often enough or due to some irritants like a new detergent or the material of the nappy even.

The only time I saw a sore bum was when he was teething. I use two things on such ocassions coconut oil or weleda nappy rash cream. Both are cloth nappy friendly and very good for rashes. But there are plenty of options out there.

How many nappies do you need?

In my opinion, 20 is a good starting point. 

I personally brought a pack of 20 nappies. Realistically, you will need about 6 to 8 changes a day.  Because my entire stash of 20 was a two parter, I then invested in another 10 all in ones. And that is personally more than enough, especially if you plan to do a wash every other day. If you plan to wash in longer intervals you will need more. 

I hope I have answered most of the common queries people may have about cloth nappies. There is honestly nothing negative to say about them, when what they do to this earth is so rewarding.

Let’s not contribute to that landfill and let our planet breathe.

……to a better and a cleaner future. Cheers!

 

A Letter To Baby Ro On His Birthday

 

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Happy Birthday Roshan!

You are one already. It just feels like yesterday that I gave birth to you and was having sleepless nights, not because you won’t sleep but I couldn’t stop looking at you in awe. It still feels surreal that you made me experience motherhood like never before.

You have been the easiest baby. You came to this world without causing mama any pain, and you have lived for an entire year so far and have not caused mama any trouble in any form. I had a terrible pregnancy. I was worried for you because I could not eat or drink for the first six months, but you came out with a very loud pair of lungs and energy that is so infectious. You light up everybody’s day and your smile, just heart warming.

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Everybody knows you as the “happiest” baby in the world. On your birthday, we all started the day by having an early morning breakfast as daddy had to shoot off to work unfortunately. We opened some presents and daddy read you a book.

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Later on, we went to the grove ferry with Reuben and Irene and the dogs. The park was empty and the sun was shinning. There were dandelions all around. You had a nice sleep in the sling.

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When you woke up, you insisted we sat down. We played tickles with you, Irene made you a bouquet of wild flowers, you loved playing with dandelions. We watched a lot of birds together and you even tried to play ball with Pepper. In the afternoon, we visited Flo’s house and invited them to come over for some tea and cake at our house. Mama made you a nice chocolate cake (you devoured it). We sang you happy birthday, even daddy joined us on video call. It was so precious.

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Party cake by Kim

Your birthday celebrations did not stop at that. On the weekend, we threw you a huge birthday party. A lot of friends came to see you from far and wide. You were showered with so much love and presents. To be honest, you were slightly overwhelmed and the teething had given you a temperature, so you couldn’t be your own self that day. But people loved to see you nonetheless and enjoyed a lot.

This entire year has gone so quickly. You have learnt so much in just one year. There were so many moments that I have cherished with you. Some of them are already fading in my memory. But here are some of the fun facts that I remember about you and I know you would like to know them when you grow up. This is some of  the ways you have about you that makes you so special:

  1. You love to feed everyone whatever that is you are eating.
  2. You are really the happiest baby we have ever seen. You must have cried less than 10 times in the entire year (most of which was for legit reasons like temperature, teething, falling etc). I honestly, remember three such instances: once when I accidentally burnt you. So sorry! Once when you were teething and had a temperature and once when you fell for the first time.
  3. Babies have a reputation for not sleeping well or waking up in the middle of the night all active and hyper. But you have never done that. You wake up for night feeds, but you have literally never woken up with your eyes open wanting to be taken down to play or chat etc. We all sleep through the night pretty much.
  4. Recently you have developed a new attachment towards daddy. You prefer to sleep in between the both of us, roll over to me for some milk and then roll back over to sleep with daddy. It is so endearing!
  5. You never threw up, not even whilst burping after a feed. Burp cloth? What is that for?!
  6. You tell us off or whinge or even start to cry everytime Pepper is told off. Pepper gets away with murder these days, all thanks to you.
  7. You also have learnt the trick to feed the dogs under the table. You are so cheeky that you call the dogs even when they are in their beds to come and eat food from you.
  8. It is no surprise your first proper word happens to be Pepper. You do say mamma and babba, but it is still all babbles but when you say Pepper it is very intentional, articulate and full of effort.
  9. Your second favourite thing in the world after Pepper are birds. You are fascinated by them. You can point them out and say, “buuuuuuuds”. If we ask you where is the bird, you find them and then point out to say, “theeeyyhh” Awwww (melts my heart)
  10. Your favourite song to watch happens to be this bollywood song called, “bum bum bole” from “taarein zameen pe”. If you find anyone on the laptop or phone, you start saying, “umm umm, umm ummm” and do a little bounce bounce as if you want them to put the song on so you can dance.
  11. You are very gentle with cats and dogs. You have never once pinched them or scratched them or pulled their tails. Unlike your mama, you really like cats. Cats love you too. So far, all cats have rolled over for you including the stray ones. I hope it stays that way!
  12. You are obsessed with daddy’s guitar. He is the coolest rockstar for you. You almost have a baby crush on him. You relate to the “beep beep” song that he used to play when you were in mama’s belly.
  13. You also have a quirky way of eating your biscuit. You love dipping it in my tea. It has to be done!
  14.  You have always woken up just as mama sat down to eat. No seriously, every single time! Every single time! No seriously!
  15. You have one very annoying habit of twiddling with my other nipple whilst feeding on the other. If I move your hand, you boss me out by shouting.
  16. You have recently learnt to crawl up the stairs, and you love to climb all three storeys to get to Reuben’s room and play with his toys. You enjoy taking all his books off the shelf and empty his lego box and mess up his entire room.
  17. You love emptying all the cupboards in the kitchen. Well all babies do, but what you like the most is putting them back in. By the time you finish, the cupboard is a mess but you know what, they are all in the cupboard and I am grateful that I don’t have to do it.
  18. You also love emptying the washing machine for me. So after a wash I sometimes put you in front of the machine with a bucket, and you very happily empty it out for me. So thank you. Wonder how long will this last! I hope forever!

Honestly, the list could go on and on. There are just so many little details I don’t want to forget but I know I will with time. I hope you and I can read this together in the future and have a laugh about it.

We all love you so much. You have brought so much love to us all. You are the one who makes us a family. I hope you feel loved all your life and you carry on giving just the way you do at the moment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Irene’s 8th Birthday

Irene was 8 years old on 14th of August. We decided to have a family birthday this year. Her birthday falls in the middle of summer holidays, hence if we aren’t super organised it is usually very hard to assemble and gather any of her friends together as most of them tend to be on their holidays away. Luckily, for Irene little is more and she always finds happiness is whatever she is given. She is one grateful child and ofcourse we are grateful for them!

It has been 6 glorious years that I have been her mother. I have enjoyed every bit of it. I still remember the tiny little 2 year old, who was waiting at the railway station on a very cold winters day at Stourbridge with her 4 year old over excited brother to see “daddy’s friend”. We DID NOT hit it off right away unlike with her brother, who thought I was a princess and loved me right away.

Irene was shy (she still is), slightly nervous which came across as being grumpy and the only few phrases she loved saying in Korean was, “Sheeroh” or something like that which meant, “I hate it” or “I don’t like it”. And “Aneeyah” meaning “No” and ofcourse, “Anaajoh” meaning “pick me up and cuddle me”. It took a good few days before she gave us a smile and a hearty laugh and I was pleased that it was me who got it out of her. Ever since that day onwards, it has always been a not such a straightforward journey with Irene. We always get through things eventually but can never be on top of things. She is although very sociable, she is also an introvert. Today, when I think of all those six years that we have been together, I wish for a future full of immense confidence and strength in her. I hope she can always find a way to express herself openly and realise her dreams because I know she has an enormous amount of will and determination to make them all come true. As a parent, I hope we can provide her with tools to grow into a strong woman who can stand for herself and many others.

This has been a very special year for Irene. She became a big sister, and what a good one she is! She made us so proud with all her endeavour towards cross – country runs wherein she came 23rd amongst hundreds. She is taking her violin lessons and practices religiously. She makes us so proud. She is beautiful, charming and very kind at heart. What more could I want as a mother of an 8 year old.

For her birthday, we simply had a family breakfast, walk with the dogs, visit to the air show in Herne Bay and a meal together. It was a very good day and she was so content (or so it seemed)!

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When she arrived downstairs to clean her teeth, she heard us singing and was totally taken aback by the preparations. Her face, bless her!

 

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Hoola Hoop expert

 

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Grandma trying the hoola hoop

 

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Hoola Hoop was pretty popular and family friendly present

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My three babies – complete family!

 

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We do pancakes every weekend, but not American style with Berry compote. This went down a treat!

 

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Air Show – Herne Bay

 

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Rudy Warmar and the Heavy Weather

 

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Air Show – Herne Bay

 

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Air Show – Herne Bay

 

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Air Show – Herne Bay

 

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Irene wanted a banana cake for her birthday. I told you, she is an easy kid!

Babywearing in Hot Weather

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For anyone who knows me and has been following me on instagram and what have you, I am rocking this babywearing thing like a pro! I might be addicted.

Babywearing is a really good way to bond with your baby. It makes them feel safe and hence keeps them calmer and best of all you can have your hands free to get on with some other things like laundry or blogging for that matter.

In winter it is a very good way to keeping yourself and the baby warm but what about summer time? Recently the weather has been very hot and humid. A lot of us have struggled babywearing. But my job involves walking dogs, there is no way I could push a pram and walk dogs. Sling is my only friend. So I came up with a few tricks to keep me and baby safe and cool in hot weather.

  1. Parasols: Shade is the best way to keep us from over-heating. But it isn’t always easy to find one. So make one!. Parasols are a great way to protect your scalp(easily forgotten) from the harsh sun light and UV rays. A normal parasol will do but then there are some special summer parasols available with UV protection too. You may appear a bit looney carrying an umbrella in summer but hey-ho it serves a purpose.
  2. Caps: My baby wears a cap all the time. I wear hats when not using parasols. We lose heat very easily from our head and we increase our chances of a sunstroke if we don’t protect our head from direct sunlight. So, use hats! They look cool too.
  3. Gel Ice Packs: My sling has a little pouch in it so I put a mini ice gel pack in it. It is a great way to keep the sling cool. And if you are using a wrap, there are so many layers in it, that you can hide an ice pack in there pretty easily. Having an ice pack is so nice in summer days, they are so multi-functional. You can use it to keep your picnic cool, apply them on your pressure points to cool down and also help soothe bruises when you kid fall off that slide at the park.
  4. Rose Water: I,personally find rose water very refreshing and cooling. I carry it everywhere with me for a quick spritz. I think it is also a good after-sun spritz. My 15 weeks old loves it when we apply rose water on his face.
  5. Water Wipes: Good old water wipes! They are so versatile in use. I give myself and my baby a quick wipe to cool ourselves down during our long walks on a sunny day.
  6. Less is more: For a babywearing mama and baby, less is more. Don’t layer up. Remember that the baby and the sling serves as an additional layer. Dress in natural fabrics like cotton, wear lighter shades and if you have a cloth nappy baby then don’t even bother with trousers for him. Just a vest or a t-shirt with cloth nappy would suffice.
  7. Sunscreen: Very important! Especially if you are applying, “less is more” in your dressing.
  8. Water: Stay hydrated! If you are breastfeeding, this is paramount. Your baby does not need water, your breastmilk is enough. But please make sure you stay hydrated. Your baby may have a lot of short drinks just like us they will get thirsty but NOT for water. Water is for mama, breastmilk is for the baba.

I hope the above tips are useful. Please stay safe and enjoy the sunshine.