List: Skills Required to Parent an 8 Month Old

Do you have....

1) The ability to function without sleep? At 8 months babies can start finding it hard to sleep what with all the work their brains are doing learning how to crawl and developing and whatnot.   Add in teething and enjoy getting up all hours of the night (like with a newborn).

2) Upper body strength?  Your tiny baby is now a whopping walrus, so have fun trying to bounce them up and down to 'The Grand Old Duke of York'.

3) Patience?  You move the spoon loaded with delicious, home-cooked, organic puree to their mouth...they grab the spoon, scrape off the puree and put the empty spoon backwards in their mouth.  You wrench the spoon out of their clenched fist, load it up again, move it to their mouth...they grab the spoon, scrape it off and put it in their mouth.  You wrench the spoon out of their clenched fist, load it up again, move it to their mouth...they grab the spoon, scrape it off and put it in their mouth...repeat ad nauseum.

4) The ability to turn the other cheek?  When your baby takes a huge mouthful of water and then spits it in your face/the highchair/the kitchen floor can you ignore the bad behaviour so as not to encourage it and turn the other cheek (so they can spit food and water on that one too)?

5) A bit more patience?  "Mummy! Look, I threw the toy on the floor, pick it up" , "Mummy! Look, I threw the toy on the floor, pick it up", "Mummy! Look, I threw the toy on the floor, pick it up", "Mummy! Look, I threw the toy on the floor, pick it up." Arrrggggh!

6) Spatial awareness?  You will  need the ability to put a nappy and clothes onto a moving, wriggling baby from behind.  You will yearn for those days when the tiny baby just lay nice a still on the changing mat.

7) An excellent singing voice and lack of shame? Because you WILL sing tunelessly and say words in silly voices in public.  Loudly.  Often.  DONKEEEEY!

8) A sharing, generous nature?  The toy phone is REALLY not as interesting as your iPhone.  Or your laptop.  Or your new magazine.  Stand in their way and feel their wrath.

9) Humility? When playing with the laptop or iPhone (or any of their own electronic toys) the 8 month old baby will be able to make it do many, many things that you can't.  But don't worry, the younger generation always have a better grasp of technology than the older generation.  Just be humble and bow down to their superior knowledge.

10) The ability to overlook a messy house?  Sick on the sofa.  Poo smeared on the floor.  Rice cake stuck to the DVD player.  Puree smushed on the kitchen cupboards.  And the tiny nooks and crannies of the highchair.  And their hair.  And now the baby needs entertaining all day there is no time to clean it.  Don't worry, fellow parents understand. 

If you can answer yes to all of these then well done, you are ready to look after an 8 month old child (and are a better parent than me!)

List: Mother's Day Gift Ideas!

Mothering Sunday is on the 3rd of April this year, so don't forget to treat your mum to show her how much you care for her! Every Mother's Day should be special, mummies do so much for their babies, and the first Mothering Sunday should be EXTRA special. 

If you've got a child under five then they probably haven't got a present or card (after age five they might have made them at school, but check!) so that falls on you dads! You might also be planning to get a gift or card for your friend or relative who has a new baby but be stuck for ideas.  Every mum is different and the best gift is always the most thoughtful, not necessarily the most expensive. 

Some ideas are a new or rare book by her favourite author, a print by an artist she likes, a cd by her favourite band, something you've made her or a framed photo of you and her/her and her baby.  She might even love a Playboy duvet set or a ride on a Harley Davidson, everyone's different and unique! I would steer away from things like an apron or recipe books, unless she's a really avid cook, as this is a gift that is going to require her to slave away in the kitchen so she will see it and feel like a stressed skivvy!

Here is a list of ideas that I think my mum would like and that I would love as a new mummy, in case you need inspiration.

Flowers from The Real Cut Flower Garden, about £35, or By Nature, about £39, or pick some yourself! I used to make my mum and my friend's mum a little posy of daffodils every Mothering Sunday at Sunday school! Find out which flowers your mum actually likes, and buy local, seasonal SCENTED flowers that are field grown in the UK and organic if you can.  There's nothing worse than a lurid, limp bunch of garage flowers that don't even smell of anything!

A box of vegan cupcakes, from £11.99 for 6, Blue Lotus Cakes.  Blue Lotus products make the MOST delicious cupcakes that they deliver to your door on the specified date.  You can choose from almond, cappuccino, carrot, chocolate fudge (highly recommended!), chocolate mocha, coffee, lemon curd, lemon-vanilla, rich fruit, triple chocolate or vanilla and they also make large cakes, chocolate brownies, bakewell tarts, muffins, millionaire's shortbread etc.!
Personalised Pink Hearts 1/2 Pint Mug
A personalised teapot or mug from Emma Bridgewater, from £14.  Now this is the present I'd wish for if only we were made of money! You can choose the item you'd like to personalise, (there are lots, including teapots, mugs, cups, plates, jugs, bowls, etc.) then you choose the pattern (hearts, stars, polka dots, mice, diggers etc.!) then the wording (I Love You Mummy?) and the piece is hand painted for you.  To make it even more special you could fill it with her favourite chocolates! Make it snappy though, the last order date for Mother's Day delivery for personalised items is 22nd March!

A Picnic Set, I love this one from Cath Kidston, it's sooooo yummy! And I know my mum would love it too! However there are less expensive ones at Argos etc.  Pack up all her favourite foods and take her out for a lovely lunch to the park

Dark Engraved Chocolate Heart, £6.50, Hotel Chocolat.  I'm sure every mummy loves chocolate but probably doesn't treat herself to posh chocs very often!

Gianduja Praline
Gianduja Pralines, £14, Hotel Chocolat

A spa day.  If you're in Bristol I highly recommend the Relaxation Centre in Clifton, it's amazing.  Really peaceful, beautiful surroundings with two hot tubs, two saunas a steam room, a plunge pool and a relaxation room where you can get a cup of tea and a teacake! Lovely! One thing that mums always need and never get is a bit of time to relax! Some spas are discounted at times when they are less busy, and you can usually buy a gift voucher.  If this is a present for a new mummy, organise time off work or plan to have the time free so you can look after the baby, or organise a trusted babysitter so that's not something she has to think about, and bear in mind that if she's breastfeeding she might not be able to leave the baby for more than a few hours, so plan it well, after all you want her to be less rather than more stressed!

Fingerprint Jewellery, from about £90.  My boyfriend got me a beautiful silver heart charm with Eric's name, date of birth and handprints on a long silver snake chain for Christmas.  It's absolutely beautiful and I wear it every day, and Eric likes to grab/play with/chew on it too.  It's the nicest gift ever and would be lovely for new mummies with babies on Mother's Day!

A lovely bath product from Lush, about £3! My favourites are Ceridwen's Cauldron, Amandapondo, Big Blue, Dreamtime, Fox in the Flowers, Rainbow Worrier, Tisty Tosty, the list goes on! For a tired new mummy, run her a lovely bath in the evening with candles, bring her a glass of wine or cup of tea, be on 'baby duty' and let her relax for half an hour.  She'd really appreciate it!

A photo gift, from £7.99, Snapfish.  This is one of the things I'm going to get my mum (she doesn't read my blog, so I can tell you!) Find a lovely old, special photo of you and her and scan in a high resolution image, then order it on canvas or maybe make a little book of photos with special memories. 

 you are amazing mother's day card

Don't forget a lovely card! Paperchase and quirky galleries do my favourites, and homemade ones are always the most touching and special.  I never throw any cards away, I have boxes of them! Spend some time finding one you think she'd love rather than buying whatever's left in the supermarket in a mad panic on Saturday 2nd April!

  • and the best present of all.....

    A lie in! 

    List: Fashion Wishlist of the Week!

    After looking through a New Look magazine that I got inside another magazine earlier I fell in love with this gorgeous paisley print kimono dress, £29.99, so immediately went online to look for it, but annoyingly, it's not on there! 

    New Look Halter Top, £16.99, Pattern Cardigan, £18.99, Gold Necklace £5.99 And Scallop Shorts, £21.99 - In Stores Soon

    I had the same problem recently after seeing this gorgeous New Look outfit in Look magazine months ago, but it still hasn't come online! It's driving me crazy! Why do brands do that?  

    On the New Look website though I did find some other gems:


    Marzipan White (Cream) Tailored Belted Shorts | 219001711 | New Look

    Pleated Tunic, £19.99
    Cedar (Brown) Pleated Blouse | 211608021 | New Look

    Sky Grey (Grey) Bird Oversized Top | 216774302 | New Look


    Look Effortlessly Glam In Primark’s Woven T-Shirt, £8 And Polkadot Palazzo Trousers, £14

    I also love these Primark Palazzo pants, £14,

    Primark nude midi skirt and

    Ankle buckle wedge

    these Matalan wedges, £18.

    Recipe: Vegan Blue Cheese, Brocolli and Asparagus Pasta

    This is my new favourite meal, we have it once a week now and I make heaps at a time so I can have some for lunch the next day! I'd never tried blue cheese before and didn't know what to do with it so I asked friends on Facebook for ideas and looked up lots of recipes online and they inspired me to create this! I hope you like it :)

    - 1 packet pasta (Fusilli Giganti works really well)
    - 1 big brocolli
    - 150g asparagus
    - 1 block of Bute Island Blue Sheese
    - 250ml carton Alpro cream
    - 2 or 3 cloves garlic
    - Vitalite
    - Salt and pepper

    1) Boil the pasta for 22 minutes ish
    2) Chop up the brocolli and asparagus into bitesize chunks.
    3) Add the brocolli and asparagus to the pasta pan for the last 5 minutes
    4) Drain and leave to one side
    5) Melt Vitalite and crush in some garlic
    6) Pour in the cream and stir together
    7) Crumble in the block of Blue Sheese
    8) Add the pasta, brocolli and asparagus and stir
    9) Season
    10) Enjoy!

    So easy and yummy!

    Experience: Childbirth

    When I first found out I was pregnant I was utterly terrified of having to give birth.  I couldn't even see past it to actually having a baby to look after at the end of it, I barely gave that a thought, I was so hung up on the event! I read endless posts in online forums, asked so many questions at ante natal class and watched countless videos of birth on YouTube, trying to find out what childbirth would be like.  I thought I'd post my experience for anybody who feels the same! I kept a diary at the time so I will just copy it in, and it's in lots of detail.  I had planned a homebirth with no pain relief.

    24th July 2010, baby's due date.

    Well.... despite some bad back and hip ache yesterday and last night, what might be Braxton Hicks and lots of pressure, there are no real signs of labour yet! Looks like Baby might be late (taking after his/her Daddy who was two hours late for our first date, definitely not taking after punctual Mummy!) but we will see what the rest of the day brings! I still have high hopes of having no labour pains at all and having the baby in 30 seconds on the toilet or in the bath!

    Still no sign of baby! I've been really tired today so have slept alot, and am going to have an early night now, maybe my body's trying to conserve energy to start labour in the next few days. Have had hardly any appetite too, which happened to Natalie the day before she had her baby, so maybe it will be on the way sooner rather than later. I did manage a curry for dinner to try to kick start things but to no avail! It's a bit disappointing as I was expecting things to start today! I just hope it doesn't take another 2 weeks, that would seem so long! It's difficult not being able to plan these things! Perhaps baby likes my tummy so much it doesn't want to leave :) But I'm sure baby will make an appearance when he/she's good and ready :) Possibly when the midwife is back from her holiday on the 28th - that would be good!

    That night....

    25th July at 02:30 in the morning (so only 1 day overdue, or if you prefer - and I do! - the night of the due date!) I woke up thinking I had wet myself! I was pretty convinced it wasn't my waters breaking as, as you can see from my last post, I thought the baby was going to be late and not come that day after all. I sat in the bathroom unsure if I was weeing or not! About 15 minutes later I started getting tummy pains in the lower half of my bump, and assumed that I just had an upset tummy from the take away curry we'd eaten for tea!
    However, these pains started to get worse and also spread into my back, so we rang the pager of the community midwife on call to say we thought I was possibly in labour. An hour later, at 04:00 we still hadn't heard back from anyone, so Alex rang again. Finally at 04:45 we got a call from the community midwife who assessed me on the phone. She asked me to explain what was going on, then said I sounded fine, at which point I got a contraction and couldn't speak, and was moaning and writhing around on the floor, begging Alex to make her come now to help us! She said she'd be there within half an hour, and arrived at 05:15. In the meantime I took 2 paracetamol and put on my Hypnobirthing relaxation on the iPod, and got in the bath. I managed to stay calm and ok for alot of the labour, only finding some of the later contractions unmanageable and was bellowing like a buffalo! After Jane arrived she did some paperwork then made me get out the bath and come downstairs where she examined me, and found I was already fully dilated and ready to push. She called for a second midwife, Mary, who arrived quickly and was really nice, spending lots of time rubbing my back. I spent time pushing in some different positions, but after an hour and a half started to get a bit disheartened as nothing seemed to be happening. Alex was so helpful, being reassuring ad saying how well I was doing, and rubbing my upper back. He tried to make the midwives coffee but had soya milk curdling issues! Jane examined me again to check I was definitely fully dilated, and found she was right and that I was, but now the baby's head was swelling slightly where it was being pushed against the cervix. She made me walk sideways upstairs like a crab, which when you're having strong contractions and urges to push was extremely difficult! But unfortunately nothing was strengthening the contractions and nothing was happening, I could not get the baby out :( The midwife phoned the hospital and at 08:00 an ambulance was sent to take me in. Alex dashed about getting a few essentials for my hospital bag. I put on a dressing gown and managed to just get to the ambulance before needing to push again! The journey to the hospital is a bit of a blur. Alex followed the ambulance in the car. At one point we stopped and pulled over as there was a wasp in the ambulance so they had to shoo it out, Alex thought I must be having the baby there and they were going to get him in the back of the ambulance to witness the birth! At the hospital I was taken on the stretcher to the central delivery suite and saw a new midwife, Sharon, and a doctor. Sharon had an accent like Josie from Big Brother, and she was really positive and helped me with my pushing. The decision was made to give me Syntocinon drip to strengthen the contractions. I was upset about this and had a few more big pushes to see if I could manage without, but in the end agreed. It took about 20 minutes for the contractions to gain any strength and then they did get slightly longer, and I was pushing with all my might! The baby was still not coming out so the midwife, Sharon talked about a ventouse delivery. I really wanted a natural birth and I started being able to push harder and she said things were looking a bit better, so we'd try to manage without. I pushed for another hour and she was happy with the progress, and said that she could see the baby's head finally coming down so I should be able to have a natural delivery. I kept pushing and the baby just wasn't moving, so she offered to do an episiotomy. I agreed, but then managed some really big pushes and managed to get his head out. Feeling the baby in the birth canal was so uncomfortable and strange, and crowning really hurt! Sharon realised that the problem was that the baby had it's hand up by it's face, which was making it so hard to push out. After the most exertion and hardest push I would ever have thought possible I finally gave birth to a boy! Seeing him come out was bizarre and amazing, and then they put him to my chest. I was overwhelmed and shocked, and couldn't believe the birth was finally over. Unfortunately because of all the trauma baby Eric was a bit blue, so he had some facial oxygen for a little while, whilst I delivered the placenta. But all was not over yet! Because I had pushed for so long, my uterus was too tired to contract and constrict all the blood vessels, so I lost 1 litre of blood, and had a team of 5 people rushing to work on me to fix it. I then had a catheter put in, cannulae put in each hand (which sprayed blood everywhere!) and was given 4 different drugs via injection, drips, and up my bum! The consultant doctor, Kristen, put pressure on the bleed with her hand - unpleasant. She also put in some sutures as I had a second degree tear. During the whole birth I had no pain relief! I had to remain on the drips for 4 hours, then be monitored for a further hour, to check the bleed had stopped. I then had to have an antibiotic drip. During the whole time I wasn't allowed any food or water and was SO hot and thirsty! Eric only had to be on the oxygen for a few breaths, and then Alex held him whilst the medical staff worked on me. I then had him back and was able to cuddle him and give him his first feed. He was born 8lb 4oz, head circumference 36.5cm, with lots of dark spikey hair :)

     So that was how Eric was born.  It wasn't the birth I planned but at the time I was happy to do anything to get him here safely.  It was important for me to have as natural a birth as possible and the midwives and staff were understanding, and I'm so proud I had no pain relief other than paracetamol.  The feeling is intense, but I don't remember it being painful or unmanageable for most of the birth, and I think being relaxed really helped.  I'd recommend hypnobirthing to anyone, the cd and book I used was Hypnobirthing by Mary Mongan.   I listened to the cd every night for weeks before the birth as I went to sleep, and read sections of the book (though not all of it!) I had acupuncture leading up to the birth too.  It really is true what they say that birth doesn't usually go to plan, and don't forget every birth is different :)

    Diary: Vegan Weaning

    I thought I'd write a post about vegan weaning, at the request of my beautiful and most esteemed friend Mrs Fiona Peacock. 

    Alot of people have asked whether I'll be raising Eric vegan - my answer is of course! It's better for the environment, animals and his health.  The leading health organisations all say that a well-planned vegan diet is suitable for all stages of life, including during pregnancy, infancy, breastfeeding, old age and for athletes.  There's lots of foods he can eat, and I also have the Vegan Society's Feeding Your Vegan Infant With Confidence book so I can plan healthy meals for him.  The book is a bit old fashioned but it has a few ideas! Eating vegan is so easy and it's just as easy feeding your child vegan, the recommended first foods (baby rice and vegetable and fruit puree) are vegan anyway! We have talked to our health visitor who was happy we knew what we were doing!

    We started weaning Eric at about 23 weeks, which is 5 and a half months old.  I wanted to wait until he was 6 months old, but he had started taking food off our plates and eating it so he started weaning himself really! His very first taste was a spear of steamed brocolli: he took it, chewed it, pulled a hilarious face of disgust and then spat it out saying 'eurgh!'.

    We had thought about doing 'baby-led' weaning, where you offer the baby only finger foods and loaded spoons so that they can feed themselves, but after alot of thought we decided to offer a variety of finger foods combined with purees as advised by the health visitor.

    We started off just giving Eric one meal a day at tea time.  From the start we have offered a cup of water (with a free-flow spout) so he is used to it, even though he didn't really drink from it to start with. His first foods were pieces of banana or nectarine served with baby rice made with expressed breast milk, and we also used some of the Ella's Organic Stage 1 sachets.  The first one we gave him was 'sweet potatoes, pumpkin, apples and blueberries' which he loved, and we went on to others such as 'butternut squash, carrots, apples and prunes', 'brocolli, pears and peas', 'peaches and bananas', 'spinach, apples and swede' and 'sweet potatoes, brocolli and carrots'.  He liked them all except for the ones with lots of brocolli, and preferred the sweet ones.  He obviously has a sweet tooth like me! The sachets were very smooth, and he'd usually eat about a third of a sachet per meal, with finger foods that he would suck.

    After about 2 weeks I decided to make my own purees as I would be able to offer him more protein and iron then, and could be sure exactly what was in them as well as saving money (the sachets cost £6 for 5!).  We also increased to 2 meals a day, breakfast and dinner.  I made 'spinach and sweet potato', 'apple, pear and cinnamon' and 'carrot, lentil and parsnip'.  I steamed the vegetables until soft then blitzed them right down in the blender.  I then froze the puree in ice cube trays and when frozen (I found out the hard way that this takes at least 12 hours!) I knocked the cubes out and put them in labelled freezer bags.  When frozen purees last 6 weeks, and the batch of 3 different purees I made lasted about 2 weeks.  They went down really well, which gave me such an amazing feeling that I was nurturing my child and making his food, I felt silly for buying sachets!

    The following weekend I made some more so we could offer more variety! I made 'apple, pear and raspberry', 'sweet potato, chickpea and coconut milk curry' (very mildly spiced!), and 'brocolli, potato and soya cheese'.  He HATED that one, but loved the rest! It is a bit disappointing when you have spent an hour lovingly cooking food for your little one and then they pull faces, gag and cry! But according to the health visitor it can take up to 12 times for them to get used to a  taste, so you should keep offering it.  Another one he hated was  'pea and mint', but I tasted it and let me tell you it is so nice, so he's obviously an idiot! (Only joking!).  I also blended some silken tofu with some just cooked sieved berries and he absolutely loved that for breakfasts, but it doesn't freeze well and needs to be eaten cold or the tofu cooks.  We also started offering more different types of finger foods: toast, chapati, bread, steamed brocolli, carrot or asparagus, twiglets, pieces of mango, cubes of soya cheese and pieces of vegan ham.

    Now he's 7 months we give him 3 meals a day and have started making the purees more 'textured', which he HATED to start with, and was very upset! He would push the food straight out of his mouth, blow raspberries, grab the spoon, throw the bowl on the floor, cry, gag and retch, but over the last 2 weeks he has got used to it and now happily tucks into his food usually (unless he's in a mood when you start).  We tried 2 more Ella's Organic sachets: 'Very, Very Tasty Vegetable Bake with Lentils' and 'Hugely Hearty Four Bean Feast' to start with to get us used to what the texture should be like, but these are the only vegan ones and I enjoy making his food so he hasn't had them since.  He has enjoyed breakfasts of 'plum and apple' and 'apple, pear and berry' which I sometimes mix with baby rice and soya milk, and lunches and dinners of vegan sausage casserole with dumplings, shepherd's pie, spaghetti bolognese and quinoa, parsnip and carrot.  Instead of blending them to a fine puree I either blend them for only a few seconds or mash them.  He also drinks about 50ml of water with each meal now.  He eats rice cakes with hoummous or marmite as a snack or a finger food with dinner, and enjoyed some of our vegan Redwood's roast dinner

    I felt sad starting weaning as I didn't want Eric to stop breastfeeding and was worried he would be full up and would stop, but he is only just now starting to cut down breastfeeds and still feeds every 4 or 5 hours.  I also found the mess stressful and weaning is a very messy business, that only seems to be getting messier! I have found that accpepting it is going to be very messy, having a damp flannel, cloth and a floor wipe to hand and being relaxed and taking time about it works well for us.  We try to leave about 30-40 minutes for a feed rather than 20, and if I'm more relaxed and not trying to 'make' him eat, he eats more.  It's lovely to feed him and see him discovering new textures and things, and it's great when  he enjoys something I've cooked and keeps opening his mouth for more!

    Next step: bigger lumps!

    Product Review: Weleda Teething Granules

    Weleda Chamomilla 3 X Granules 

    What are they?

    Weleda Chamomilla granules are tiny little white round granules of a herb called Matricaria chamomilla radix dissolved into sucrose (a sugar) that help teething pain.  You get 100 grams in one bottle and they cost £6.95.  The granules are vegan and neither the finished product or ingredients are tested on animals by Weleda or on their behalf.  To use the granules you give the baby 1 salt spoon full of the granules every 15 minutes, for a maximum of 6 doses, until the symptoms improve, or for younger babies you can dissolve the granules into cooled boiled water.  

    And what do we think?

    We can tell when Eric's teething as his cheeks (or just the one cheek on the side of the mouth that the tooth is coming through on!) go bright red, he dribbles lots, he wails and is miserable and he rubs his mouth and gums and tries to touch his gum with his finger all the time.  The granules work really quickly and stop Eric's crying straight away.  Sometimes he'll start crying again within 15 minutes so we give another dose, and repeat until he cheers up and seems relieved from the pain.  I have tried Nelson's Teetha granules in the past (before finding out they weren't vegan) and they didn't work as quickly, plus you have to wait 2 hours to repeat the dose, so they don't work so quickly.  Eric seems to enjoy the taste and texture of the Weleda granules more than the Nelson's ones and he happily opens his mouth for them and moves them around his mouth.    The tiny salt spoon included in the pack is great too as it's got a deep scoop and a long handle, so Eric grabs hold of that too and gums it.  I think the granules will last a long time as you only need to use a tiny amount so they're good value for money.  The only down sides in my opinion are that they spill easily and go everywhere as they are so small, and as the spoon is so deep some get stuck in the bottom so I have to dig them out with my little finger and put them in Eric's mouth myself so he gets the full dose! I'm going to continue using these first before resorting to junior paracetamol as they are more natural and have no recorded side effects, whereas there was some recent research that infant paracetamol may cause an increased risk of asthma and allergies after the age of 5, so I am going to use it sparingly only when he REALLY needs it! I really like the Weleda granules and will definitely continue to use them, and I'd recommend them.



    Eric's Post: 1st March 2011

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