A Family New Year!

Well New Year has come and gone!  Where is time flying to?  It seems like just the other day that myself and my husband found out we were pregnant with Oscar.  My pregnancy passed really quickly, I can’t actually believe how fast it went.

Oscar is such a blessing… lots of hard work but a blessing none the less.  People are starting to ask if we are going to have another one. Oscar is only three months old and I really want at least a two year gap if we do choose to have another child.

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Oscar has his cake… and eats it!

Let me tell you about our celebrations to see in the New Year.  On New Year’s Day itself we took Oscar for his first picnic.  Well he is too young to really have appreciated it but I took enough photos to show him when he is older.  There are some brilliant shots, especially the one where he tried to fit a whole slice of chocolate cake in his little mouth.  It was very cute!

New Year’s Day is when our extended family always get together to have a picnic down at the local lake.  It’s a large group, around 30 of us altogether.  My sister and I always cater for our immediate family.  She is in charge of sweet and I am in charge of savoury dishes.  This year I made my favourite bacon and leek pie, nice spinach and feta quiche and some lovely blue cheese with an assortment of crackers and breads.  Of course with the celebration of New Year I had to pack in some bubbly.

A gift to myself

I also took along my new picnic rugs, a gift to myself for Christmas!  I love to go on picnics and as Oscar gets older we will be going on many more.  The picnic rugs are perfect and well made and will last for a long time.

Time away

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This week my husband leaves for a business trip to Europe.  I am in charge of packing, so I have made sure that I have packed everything early.  I hate rushing at the last minute.  At the suggestion of my sister, I bought him a travel wallet.  He is forever losing things, especially papers and this travel wallet is a great idea.  It allows him to keep all the important travel documents on him as all of them fit inside the wallet, including tickets, passports and money of course.

We are really going to miss him.  It is his first trip since Oscar was born and I know that it will be tough for him to be away from his boy. At least it is only for a week, anything longer and I think we all would struggle!  My sister is going to come and stay with us while my husband is gone.    Oscar is still a handful and I need all the help I can get.  It will allow us some sister bonding time as well, no doubt over a glass of wine.  I am looking forward to it!

Do children really need a toddler bed?

toddler bedTo begin with, I would like to continue talking about the transition from cot to crib I talked about in the last blog. One thing I did not include was the issue of having kids close together in age. You may find you end up with a situation where the eldest one is still not ready for the eagle’s nest of the top bunk. But number two is ready for the big bed. This was my sister’s predicament. There just was not room for yet another single bed in the room, what with the bunks and the pram, dressers and floor lamp, toy box and bedside cabinet. There was nowhere for the kids to play. Therefore, my sister decided to get a toddler bed. It fitted in the available space and had both kids on the lower levels. It also came with a fence to prevent the whole ‘things that go thump in the night’ problem. When I spoke to our mother about this, she thought we were daft and started telling us stories of babies spending their first few months in the bottom drawer of the dresser. She went on about, what was the world coming to when it required so much equipment to bring a child into the world. When I showed her the floor lamp, I had put in Oscars room as a night light she was horrified and asked me if I was trying to raise him to be a vampire. I am beginning to think our mother is not the best person to discuss baby furniture with.

She does have a point though. It is better not to get children used to having the light on when they are sleeping, but on the other hand if you have a monster infestation in the kid’s room it may solve the bedtime battle problem and you can always turn it off once they are asleep. In addition, once you do have a child installed in the top bunk they will be at an age where they may need to get up in the night to go to the bathroom and negotiating the ladder on the side of a bunk in the dark could be challenge.

When to move your baby from a bassinet to a baby cot

Being a parent is one of the most important jobs you will ever do in your life and yet there is very little training. There is helpful advice from experts, from your parents and grandparents, and it may not be the sort of training you want. Maybe you had to care for an egg as a school project, but it hardly compares to the demands of a new human being. Then there is the shelves and shelves of books in libraries, parenting centres and preschools. Everybody has different methods and every child responds differently to those methods, so this can become a very confusing and bewildering experience. Therefore, I would like share my experiences so you can see that yours are quite common and normal and to give you hope that eventually you will get to grips with this job and become a confident, successful parent.

bassinet
Today I would like to talk about what to do when baby gets too big for the bassinet. Oscar, our baby, is 3 months old. Wow! how fast they grow. It seemed only a week ago we brought our little bundle of joy home. Oscar’s first bed was a basket style bassinet made of woven cane. We set it on top of a dresser in our room so that he would be close for night-time feeding. It is important to have the bassinet and later, the crib raised up. Mainly because your back is going to be challenged enough with the demands of carrying a baby and having to bend down to pick him up and lay him down will turn you into an old woman before your time.

At about two months, it became clear the Oscar was going to need something bigger to sleep in. He had lost that floppy, new baby look and was starting to develop strong muscles. This meant he was moving about the bed a bit more and the days were fast approaching when he would discover the art of not staying where he was put.

The cane bassinet was designated a clean clothes storage role and we installed a gorgeous little baby cot. Well, he was no longer feeding in the night but I was not keen to have him all on his own in the nursery yet, so the crib and Oscar stayed in the corner of our room for a bit longer.

pushchair bassinet
My sister on the other hand had a clever idea for her baby. They bought a pram. This is like a pushchair only it is a bed. This served as a bassinet and saved the hassle of having to get the baby up to pop down to the shops. The whole pram can be pushed down the street without disturbing baby at all. It later changed its role, became a convenient reciprocal for depositing dolls, and stuffed toys.

Our mother said we both had more money than sense and that we should have, just got the baby cot in the first place and put the babies in from day one. While I would probably agree with her now, the thought of putting wee Oscar into the enormous crib made me very anxious at the time. Get used to the feeling of being anxious it is an occupational hazard of being a parent.

So, we transferred Oscar to his second bed. We bought a crib with a drop down side. It wasn’t necessary to put the side up straight away as he wasn’t yet able to move that much but later when he learned to roll and the first stages of crawling began we kept the side up to prevent him from falling out of the crib.

How to Baby-Proof your Living Room?

living roomAs I told you last time, my husband has installed a bar in the living room. This was before Oscar arrived to change our whole perspective on life. We were sitting having our daily catch up at the bar as we do in the evenings and as I stared at the wall behind the bar, it occurred to me that this would be the perfect place for a wall clock. “What do you think,” I asked hubby. He shook his head. “What is it with you and wall clocks Pam?” “What!” I said defensively. “I just thought one of those ones that you can see all the moving parts and nice brass bits would be an interesting feature and go well with the bar, that’s all.” He sighed “I would much rather have a decent sound system.” “You know, turntable, speakers, records… how about a record player?” “Well, I can just see what Oscar and a puppy would do to that.” I scoffed. There was a long pause.

My brain started to tick like the feature lovely wall clock timepiece I had visualised on the wall. What else was there in here that would become either victim or hazard to Oscar in the near future? Once he became mobile everything would be an object to be studied, handled and of course straight in the mouth to be tested. My mind started to race. What about wet little fingers in the wall sockets, my china vases crashing to the floor in small pieces, books with pages torn and scribbled on, bottles of hubby’s homemade brew all over the carpet. The list started to build. “We need to baby proof the house,” I announced.

living roomHubby’s mind was still back at the record player.

“Ill trade ya the wall clock for the hi fi,” he haggled.

“ok ok,” I agreed, “But on one condition.” “What’s that?” he enquired.

“No cords on the floor or reachable by little hands, plugs installed higher on the walls, records stored up high and any furniture that is unstable is strapped and hooks put by the windows to hold the curtain cords up.”

“That’s more than one,” he quipped. I glared at him.

“Well,” he said, “I did happen to get some soft corners for the coffee table last time I was at the DIY.”

I melted. “Aww now I remember why I married you.”

My mind caste around the house. The chemicals we keep under the kitchen sink are deadly poison. Childproof locks on the cupboards. However, there is a fine line between safety awareness and smothering and be prepared for your baby to receive the odd bump or bruise. This is how they learn to look after themselves.

living room
So just, be aware, that, once baby starts moving, the world is their university and their curiosity will be everywhere. They know nothing about the dangers and it is up you to think ahead and predict possible hazards. Defensive parenting is like defensive driving. Spending hours in an accident and emergency room, waiting, is like hell on earth. Prevention is always better than cure.

What age are bunk beds safe for kids

Oscar is growing like a weed and it has become clear to us that the time has come for him to go into his own room. When we go to bed, we have to sneak into our own bedroom and on several occasions have tuned on the bedside lamp to see his cheeky face smiling and expectant of nocturnal play. We were very keen to discourage this behavior and decided to make the move to shift him into his own space.

bunk bed
We knew he would be fine in the crib until he was at least one year, maybe even two years old and so did not need to worry about new purchases of furniture right away. However, I wanted to find out what the options would be once we hit that developmental milestone.

One of the advantages of having an older sister is that you can learn from her mistakes. So the next time we had lunch I asked her what she thought about furniture in the kid’s room. She said there was quite a bit of debate about whether bunk beds such as these were safe for younger children, but she was pressed for space and had decided to get them.

She told me the first thing to consider when getting them is the dimensions. The top bunk should be high enough so that when you sit on the bottom bunk you do not crack your head on it but not so high, that making it each day becomes a major yoga work out. Not to mention that kids will be kids and they will occasionally fall off the top bunk so you do not want it to be of bungy jumping proportions. Bunks usually have a railing around the top bunk to prevent falls in the night and as long as you do not have a sleepwalker this will keep them contained for the duration. It is not a manufacturer’s recommendation but you might want to consider putting any sleepwalkers on the bottom bunk. If you are concerned about a child going into the top bed, you can always put a mattress on the floor beside the bed to begin with. It is a good idea to have any bedside cabinets, or any other bedroom furniture on the other side of the room so they do not make contact baby in big bedon the way down. Oh! And one other thing, don’t read statistical horror stories. Kids do bounce, and it only increases anxiety levels.

By the age of two, it is time to make the move, and for the first child it is all smooth sailing, because they will be on the lower level. Apart from the odd thump and howl, ripping you into instant fight or flight mode in the middle of the night, most kids adjust and have big bed sleeping mastered very quickly. In fact, by the age of 4 or 5 they often have the skill perfected to thump and climb back in.

As the family grows of course, you will have to face the issue of putting your precious first-born child up in the top bunk but despite your misgivings, kids do enjoy nesting in the eaves of the room. However, while they may have become a pro at crash landings, the top bunk is a completely new level of skydiving. Most recommend not to do this until they are about 6 + years old, and by then they have the agility of a monkey and will have you considering looking up the private coach for the Olympic athletics team.

So, that’s it for now. Remember people successfully raised kids before Prozac and you can do it too.

Is it Safe to have a Dog and a Baby?

Now one of the things I love about my husband is his DIY spirit. He can fix almost anything and if he can’t he keeps at it til he does. He really is very clever. Therefore, when he announced dog and babyhe was going to install a bar in the living room I was confident that he could complete the project to perfection.

He found a large slab of rough sawn cedar with the bark still intact and sanded and polished and oiled and applied 11 layers of very thin polyurethane and voila! Another beautiful feature in the sitting room. We found some wooden barstools that complimented the rustic look of the bar and I made some comfy cushions to go on them.

So, we were sitting on our new barstools one evening after the dishes were done and Oscar was snoring in his crib (in his own room now) and my husband mentioned that he would like to have a dog.

Now I love dogs, but my heart froze. “What about Oscar?” I said. Looked at me a little astonished. “What about him?” he said, “I wasn’t suggesting we trade him in for a puppy!”

baby and puppy
We sipped out wine in silence for a bit. I was worried. What about the dangers. Germs, hygiene, Oscar being bitten by a bone possessive canine. My husband suggested we contact some old friends of ours who had crossed this bridge already. So we invited them to a bar christening dinner.

We raised the topic of babies and dogs and asked them what they thought of my objections. They laughed and said that I had it all wrong. Dogs were great with babies. They made it their personal responsibility to guard and care for them. Knowing they were just ‘human puppies’. Of course, there were exception, maybe a dog has had bad experiences or certain breeds are less highly strung and better at nurturing. However, if you are careful about what sort of dog you get, it is a very good thing for children to be around animals. They were very tolerant of ‘human puppies’ and put up with what most would consider dog abuse. Hair pulling, eye poking, tail pulling, collar dragging, and water splashing. All of this interaction is a learning curve that teaches children how to be around animals in a safe way.

However, dogs are not the cleanest of creatures, and there is nothing they love more than a roll in something that smells disgusting. So if there is a baby living on the floor, our friends said they had made a ‘no dogs in the house’ rule. It is a good idea to teach children to wash their hands after playing with a family pet and not to let them lick their face.

baby and puppy
Their dog sat sentry at the back door all day and lived in its own little house with a cosy dog bed, at night. Dogs do actually enjoy living out doors, and love to be invited in as a special treat. If there is bad weather or just to be a part of family life now and then. They can be trained to recognise this as a privilege and be on best behaviour. (That is unless the cat starts trying to wind them up.)

Animals are very much a part of our ecology and integrating them into the life of children is important for their development. Later on, when the children are older, if your beloved pet should have its own babies it can be a great time for the birds and bees talk. So, I guess we are getting a dog.

That’s all for now folks. Til next time, enjoy them while they are young the will be teenagers soon enough.

Disposable nappies VS the real deal

Just the other day, whilst I was elbow deep in the muck of my new born, I had an interesting thought about nappies and the environment.  Mainly, I was questioning why I had decided to invest in disposable nappies over the traditional cloth variety and what did that actually mean for my footprint on the world.

Having had my mother around recently to help out  with the baby, I heard endless stories and lots of advice about the benefits of cloth versus what the plastic, manufactured material disposable nappies are constructed of.

She made some valid points. Of course one of biggest arguments was the environmental damage that disposable nappies cause. Disposable nappies create millions and millions of tonnes of landfill every year all around the world. Due to the synthetic materials they are made of, these nappies take a very long time to decompose meaning that the only contribute to the growing amount of waste our civilisation creates annually. Interestingly, I read that it is their manufacturing which creates the most damage to the environment.

Cloth nappies on the other hand are also not entirely guilt free purchases. Whilst they do create less landfill as you do not throw them away after use, there is a considerable amount of energy, detergents and water used to regularly clean these and this is an area many people tend to forget when singing their praises.  One very interesting report I read stated that cloth nappies can be nearly 40% better for the environment than disposables in regards to their impact on the issue of global warming. However, it also found that they could actually be 50% worse for the environment if they are only used for one child and always dried using an electric dryer.

There’s not a great deal you can do about disposables in terms of being more environmentally friendly. However I did find some interesting solutions to improving the environmental impact of cloths nappies. They included:

  • Use environmentally friendly detergents
  • Buy lots of nappies so that when it comes time to wash them you can do a large load
  • Only use cold water to wash your nappies
  • Hang and dry your nappies outside in the sun rather than a dryer
  • Don’t use fabric softener
  • Use a front loading machine rather than top loader
  • If you are planning for other children, save the nappies for them

Just thinking about this stuff has made me interested in buying some cloth nappies and giving them a go. I just need to get past scooping the solids off them… that’s still causing me to gag at the moment!

 

My friend Lara has a great video about the above which goes into way more detail!

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