The Happy Baby Project

A happy baby needs a happy mum


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7 months old – and some time-saving tips*

So, I’ve just spent a blissful 2 days with Betty Soo**, one-time contributor to this blog, NCT teacher, home-birth legend and mother to 4 chickens, 3 kids, 2 dogs and a cat. And I watched in awe as she multi-tasked through the day, seeming calm and in control at all times, with 3 well-fed, well-played and happy children. I was amazed when she told me she’d redecorated the house and was studying for an A-level, while looking after aforementioned small people and holding down 2 part-time jobs. It’s amazing she managed to get herself dressed in the morning, but I can confirm she was not only dressed, she showered too, and I even think I saw a hint of mascara…

I have to say it was the kick up the bum I needed. Now Schmoo is 7 months old, sleeping through (mostly), and napping regularly during the day, it’s time I made a bit more of my day and managed to find time to do things for me – if only some admin, blogging, or sorting out the house, and maybe just maybe I can start writing that book…. I often find myself in PJs at midday, or wanting to take Mr S out for a walk but realising I’m neither dressed nor clean so I can’t, or spending his naptime showering or clearing up, thus having no time to do anything at all. Being in PJs til lunch used to be nice but now I just get frustrated and feel like I’m not making the most of my day.

Now I’m never going to be as domesticated as Betty (in one memorable 10 minute “break”, I found myself sitting reading Hello magazine while she got out the Pledge and dusted – dusted!), but there are 2 things I picked up from the visit that have helped ENORMOUSLY since:

1. Eat your meals together

Not only is this nicer, and probably teaches the wee man about socialising and mealtimes, but it means you don’t forget to eat and you don’t waste precious nap time hurriedly buttering toast, etc. I can’t quite manage it for tea-time as it’s too early for me, but I now make both our breakfasts and lunch together. For breakfast, I put on toast and make tea while I make him his porridge and fruit and and after I’ve fed him that, I leave him some finger food to play with while I eat mine. It means he has to wait slightly longer for his food, but it’s teaching him patience I reckon, and if he gets too grouchy I can also put him in his highchair with a banana in his Clevafeed (see below) while he waits. I also try to have lunch with him too. It does feel a bit odd, turning to my dining companion and asking how his day has been, to get only gurgles in response, but hey we have fun.

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Clevamama Clevafeed – shove in ripe banana or pear, give to baby, voila 5 minutes of peace

2. Make tidying up a part of playtime

You really don’t want to spend nap time tidying up so, it sounds so obvious (like putting on a jumper to save heating…), but I now allow myself time to let him kick around while I tidy up his meal stuff, his bath stuff, or his toys. He’s perfectly happy and I make sure I keep an eye on him, and it means the minute he’s asleep my time is my own. I also think putting toys in the storage basket and taking them out is a good lesson for him in tidying up and can even be made into a game.

3. Tidy up as you go along

Tidying up in small bits means you don’t get overwhelmed and you don’t spend precious time tripping over things. Just throwing the toys back in the box before naptime saves a massive tidy up at the end of the day.

4. Shower and get dressed as early as you can

You could do it before baby is awake, but to me that’s like going to the gym before work in the morning – something I know would be very virtuous but I am now old and fat enough to accept ain’t ever gonna happen. I mean shower and change while he’s kicking around after breakfast if you can (’tis what the jumperoo was invented for, n’est ce pas?) or during the first nap. I’ve been guilty of using that time to eat breakfast or just sit and respond to emails etc, but I find if I get up and go, then I have more time later on in the day.

*This is a guide for babies who are over 6 months and you are getting a bit of sleep finally. Before then I could easily be in my PJs til 4pm, having barely achieved as much as making a sandwich in a day, and I reckon that’s perfectly acceptable.

**Not her real name, obvs


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6 months old! Gadgets to make mummy’s life easier…

So Schmoo is 6 months, with 2 little teeth, eating 3 meals a day including chicken, lamb, beef, cheese and fish (hake and cod no less). He’s still sleeping through the night pretty well although we’ve reintroduced the late dream feed to make sure he gets enough milk as it was hard to get 500-600mls in him a day, when all he wanted was banana and mature cheddar! I’m still breastfeeding first thing in the morning and last thing at night which I love and don’t want to give up yet, but he’s on Aptamil 3 for his mid-morning and mid-afternoon feeds, as well as for top-ups before bedtime and the dream feed. He’s a whole lot of fun now – laughing and shrieking and grabbing and generally making me laugh, especially before and after bathtime where he goes MENTAL.

But anyway I wanted to tell you about 3 things that have made my life easier – as you know I’m all about the gadgets*:

1. The neckerchew

Invented by 2 mummys from my home town Edinburgh, this mops up the copious amounts of dribble that pours out of Mr S’s mouth permanently, and also gives him something to chew on given he’s teething constantly. It’s great because it’s round his neck so he can’t drop it and it’s something less to worry about taking out the house.

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2. The Moby Wrap

I didn’t have a great time with wraps previously (I had, and got rid of, the Close wrap because it was just too complicated to work and Schmoo was always a little lop-sided in it; and the Babasling didn’t really fit him either), but I’ve always found the Baby Bjorn easy to put on, but terrible on your back, so I just took the pram out all the time. But the problem with prams is 1. sometimes you go places (health clinics, baby classes, etc) you can’t take a pram 2. baby wakes up the second you get in the door.

So, I found a second hand Moby Wrap for £25 in Fara and tried it the last time I went to the baby clinic. It’s made of soft cotton and, while it’s a little complicated to figure out how to wrap it, it’s not too hard and after a few attempts I got it right. There is something lovely about having Schmoo so close to me, and I think he loves it too. (Although we both keep each other very warm in it, so Summer might be a bit sweaty!).

But the BEST thing about it, is that, on the way home, rocked by the movement of my walk and calmed by the beating of my heart, he laid his head just gently on my chest and fell asleep. And he slept. And slept. And slept and slept. And even when we got home (which is when he’d wake up if he was asleep in his pram), he kept sleeping on me for another 40 minutes, allowing me to catch up on Breaking Bad,

He likes it so much that I can take it to parties, and wrap him up in it on me to have his afternoon nap (alternative = push him in pram until asleep which is always a pain). I worry sometimes he likes it so much that the doesn’t like napping in his cot so much but I make sure I take him out in the pram too to mix it up.

And for me, it’s so much better than the Baby Bjorn as its ergonomic and doesn’t hurt my back. I can’t explain why but he’s just at a good position on me that doesn’t hurt, and I can walk long distances, hands-free, without any discomfort. I’ve also heard the Ergo baby carrier is good for this too.

Here’s me and Schmoo having a nap / watching Breaking Bad.

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3. The Phillips Avent steamer / blender

I am now the Queen of Purees. Were I to die tomorrow, my tombstone should read “She Came. She Saw. She Pureed.”

Now he’s on 3 meals a day, that’s a lorra lorra purees, especially given for 2 of those meals he has a savoury puree followed by fruit puree. So, I’m ordering veggie and fruit boxes from Abel & Cole, plus some meat and fish, and cooking up Annabel Karmel recipes a few times a month and batch freezing them. But still, I find myself whipping up fruits and veggies constantly.

So the Avent steamer and blender in one is brilliant. I basically take whatever fruit and veg are handy, peel and dice, then steam for a few minutes, flip the carton over and blend it all together. And you can then shove it all in the dishwasher. Definitely saves time and washing up and is strangely satisfying in a strange way.

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* None of this is sponsored by the way, I don’t really believe in stuff like that, unless it’s something I was going to buy anyway (so if anyone wants to give me a Tidy Books bookcase that would be lovely. Ahem).