Tuesday, 30 July 2013

To Become Mum tips: baby clothes

As soon as we knew we were expecting, I simply could not resist buying baby clothes. It was a little tricky as we didn't want to find out if we were having a boy or girl, but nevertheless, if I saw a cute sleepsuit or tshirt, I HAD to buy it then and there.

I did have some self control in the form of a well researched list of 'baby essentials' based on what various websites suggested a newborn needs to begin with. However, I found answering the very simple, and perhaps silly question, of 'what does a baby wear?' incredibly hard to answer. So, three months into this motherhood malarkey, I thought I'd share my top tips so you can perhaps avoid some of the mistakes we made and so you know what we have actually used now baby boy is here:

- Bodysuits, but not too many, we bought loads with different prints on but you usually use these as the under layer - choose some plain ones from somewhere like George at Asda and go for vest / short sleeve if they're born in warmer months and buy some long sleeve ones if it's autumn / winter. You'll need no more than 10 really - these aren't the fun clothes you can buy!
- Sleepsuits with integrated mitts are essential for newborns as they can get separate mitts off in two seconds flat. I'd recommend having around nine of these to begin with as when they're young, they'll spend all day and night in these and if they are sick or have an accident, you'll be having a few costume changes every day. I'd again recommend a few basics from George at Asda as you can't beat the value.
- Swaddle shells were great for the first few weeks as they kept little man snug and stopped his flailing arms from keeping him awake, the zip up kind were the best as we could change his nappy by unzipping them from the bottom up without disturbing him too much in the night.
- Scratch mitts, for when they're not wearing a sleepsuit.
- Two cotton hats, appropriate for the season, which are easy to put on and go with anything - white is probably best and you'll only need these for when you take baby outside.
- Keep them in sleepsuits for as long as you can - I couldn't wait to dress little man up but really, sleepsuits are so comfy for them and all they really need when they're small. If you want to buy a couple of other items for when they're tiny, opt for trousers which have integrated feet, so you don't need socks of booties (in my experience, these never fit properly or stay on for long when they're small), and some easy fit tshirts.
- Bibs are essential and bandana style bibs are a really fun choice. We didn't use bibs in the early days but after a few nights where Ethan was sick on his swaddle shell, sleepsuit AND bodysuit (believe me, milk gets everywhere!), we quickly realised that putting a bib on before we fed him would dramatically cut down the need to change him so often and thus he could fall to sleep much quicker.

- Do not choose anything which has buttons on! Newborns are wriggly, sometimes don't like being naked (Ethan screamed every time we took his clothes off for the first few weeks) and buttons are far too fiddly when you're tired and trying to change your baby for the umpteenth time that morning. Check before you buy for clothes that have poppers (a godsend!) or envelope openings around the neck.

- Don't spend a fortune on the basics as all baby clothes seem to shrink a little or fade in colour quite quickly. Next clothes are great quality but you do pay more, so just think about your budget and perhaps save your pennies for when they're a bit older.

- It's true that babies grow out of things quickly so it's really important not to buy too much. As I've said, sleepsuits are all they need (with a bodysuit underneath when needed) for those early weeks and you will get bought some gifts. When you meet you're little one, you'll probably want to go and buy a few more things anyway, it's an impulse that's hard to resist, so just get the basics in before they arrive.

- Buy tiny baby sized clothes, even if you're midwife thinks baby is going to be a big one. Shops call their sizes different things but tiny baby tends to be up to six pounds. Trust me, this sounds tiny and they look tiny but most newborns will fit in these, despite weighing more than what the label suggests. Ethan wore tiny baby clothes exclusively for the first month and only then needed a couple of sleepsuits in first size as he was getting longer. You can always return them to the store if you don't need them, if you buy them in the last couple of weeks before baby is born, or you can gift them to a friend. My philosophy is that it's better to have it and not need it then need it and not have it - in those first few days and even weeks, you won't want to go out emergency shopping because the clothes you have don't fit baby.

- Buy the basics in the first few sizes and leave baby's first few outfits to friends and family to buy as gifts - most people buy a size or two up so that they know baby will fit in them in due course. It was really reassuring for me to know I had sleepsuits and bodysuits 'in stock' in tiny baby, first size and 0-3 months plus additional clothes for first size, 0-3 and 3-6 months.

- When buying that oh so cute pair of trousers or snug pram suit, bear in mind the season and buy it in a size appropriate to the age they will be when it's appropriate to wear it. For instance, we found some super cute Kermit The Frog boots but decided to buy them in 3-6 months so he would be big enough for them and we were given a Winnie The Pooh pram suit in size 6-9 months as it's far too thick to wear now during summer.

- Organise baby's clothes according to size and type. Do this before they're born so everything is ready and you know what you have and what others have bought you, then regularly go through and sort their clothes as they grow out of some things and into others. We have a cupboard in Ethan's room with lots of shelves in which we use to store his clothes, towels, blankets and so on. I bought different coloured plastic storage baskets and put all the tiny baby clothes in one colour, first size in another, 0-3 months in another and so on. Then, each basket had one type of clothes in it, e.g. one basket for sleepsuits, another for trousers etc. I then organised the baskets in the cupboard so the smallest sizes were at the bottom and in close reach, going up in size the higher up the cupboard.

- Plan an outfit for baby before you start changing them. For ease, whilst Ethan is sleeping in his Moses basket in our room, we place the current clothes he fits in in their baskets, inside the cot so they're right next to the changing station we have that sits across the top. It makes it much easier to have everything in view and in reach. Likewise, we have a basket of bibs on the side and muslin cloths close by.

- Always have at least one change of clothes ready and waiting in your changing bag, so you're never caught short when you're out and about.

- Add personality to outfits with some funky bibs, as mentioned earlier - I've blogged about Funky Giraffe bibs earlier this month (see under 'Baby' - the Blogger app won't let me add links!).

- Take lots of photos! There's been at least five outfits I can think of off the top of my head which Ethan has worn once, usually because when they've been washed first time, on a delicate wash, they've shrunk. If there's something you love them in, take photos and take extra special care when washing.

- Every two weeks, sift through their clothes to remove anything that's looking worn or too small and check what you have to replace it - you don't want to forget you have something only to go and buy more clothes that they just won't have time to wear.

These are the key pieces of advice I would recommend based on my experiences to date. Little man has had so many clothes already and I've had four sort outs of old and new items already. I've saved a couple of his early sleepsuits and put these in a memory box and this week I've filled a suitcase with clothes that he no longer fits into, which I think we'll keep in the loft, just in case we can out them to good use in the future. We really have bought more than he needs but at the same time, we've been we'll prepared and never had something missing or needed to rush out and buy a bigger size. If you keep track and keep on top of what you have been bought or given, you're baby is always going to be the best dressed on the playground.

Monday, 29 July 2013

A chair fit for a prince

My little man has just turned 12 weeks old and I'm just amazed every day at how he's progressing.

Siting in his chair, you can see the cogs in his brain working as he's taking everything in and trying to perfect the art of swotting. He loves his chair and it's where he spends a lot of his time in the day, particularly when napping.

It's the Fisher-Price Happy Forest Calming Vibrations seat, which retails for around £44.99 and was bought for Ethan by one of our best friends. It also features in the latest Argos advert, with the family of Aliens.

It's fairly typical in it's style, with the wire legs that allow gentle bouncing movements as baby wiggles around. The seat vibrates (one mode only but this seems just fine for my baby) and it is made from a wipe clean and machine washable material with a fun woodland animal print. 

It also features a 'tree branch' arm that dangles in front of baby with an owl, toadstool and apple hanging there to engage them. There's two great things about this arm - the owl hoots and sings two nursery rhyme tunes each time it is tugged lightly plus it can be removed easily by the release of a clip at the side, so picking baby up is easy to do.

To begin with, Ethan was too young to appreciate the entertainment aspect of this chair but we were really grateful for how it helped to soothe him from day one! As he's got older, he likes being able to see me or his daddy whilst also keeping himself content wiggling around. If he gets a little upset, we can gently bounce the seat with one foot, which often sends him off to sleep, and now he's learning to engage with the world around him, he's as happy as can be.

He's been quite taken with Mr Owl for a while and sits there staring at it for ages but he's now developed to the next stage - swotting. No longer just happy to watch, Ethan wants to touch and grasp and over the past week, he's steadily made progress and it's wonderful to see. Day by day, he is learning to control his arm movements and his hand more and the enticement of the colourful chair accessories keeps him trying to do better every time. 

He is getting bigger now but the chair will still be big enough for him for a while yet. It's easy to clean, batteries last for ages, it is really helping his development and aside from mummy or daddy's arms, it's Ethan's favourite place to be.


Sunday, 28 July 2013

Mummy dresses up

I've been lucky to have some time off from mummy duties recently - one night and one day, both work related events - thanks to my lovely husband. 

With the heat, I've needed to rethink my make up and I didn't want to look 'over done' for either event. So, the tools of my trade at the moment are as follows:

- Garnier Moisture Match Protect and Glow: SPF20 and leaves you with a healthy glow, fast absorbed so you don't feel like an oil slick

- Soap & Glory One Heck Of A Blot: mattifies without leaving you looking caked in powder

- Benefit Perfect 10: a classic but a good one for a subtle sun-kissed look and highlighted cheeks

- Softly pencilled eyebrows: my eyebrows are quite fair and sparse so need a little help to accentuate them

- Soap and Glory Lid Stuff in Off The Wall Flowers: bright shades that last a very long time, the beige/mink/shimmer gold shade is light enough for day but still a glam touch that's great if you've caught a little sun

- Eyeliner and lashings of mascara: my staple look, but instead of black, I sometimes choose a coloured liquid eyeliner for a softer look

- Soap and Glory (yes, again!) Sexy Mother Pucker Gloss Stick in Fuscia-ristic: gives a gorgeous gloss finish that's not sticky and has a lovely flush of peach colour on my lips (Nudist is also a very wearable shade in the day) plus it has a delicious scent too

- Gok Body Butter: I love this range from Boots which comes out around Christmas and my friends have bought me tons of, because it smells divine and leaves my skin looking great and feeling really soft - it feels very luxurious 

As for my hair, since Ethan has come along, I tend to wash, add a spritz of leave-in conditioner then let it dry naturally, but for a special occasion, I need to make more of an effort.

Here, I used rollers at the front on damp hair to give a nice flick at the front.

For the races on Friday, I used my new Mega Volume Sleeprollers the night before on freshly washed and dried hair. 
First of all, I used the Sanctuary Daily Spa Escape Rescue Hair and Scalp Mud Treatment and can honestly say this made such a difference. 
Used before you shampoo and condition, this mask left my hair feeling softer than it has in a long time.

As for the Sleeprollers, these were easy to use but with a full head of rollers in, it was a little tricky lying down. They stayed in well overnight and I could feel they had added real lift. The results were more subtle than when you use rollers on towel dried hair then blow dry, so perhaps a little disappointing after wearing them for 11 hours. My hair did look good with the added volume I wanted but the results only lasted around five hours.

I looked forward to and enjoyed both events immensely, especially having a little time to treat myself, BUT I did miss my little man and was oh so happy to be back with him. I guess it's all about balance and I think it's true what they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder.


It's been a busy week!

I haven't posted nearly as much as I wanted to this week but phew, me and the little dude have been busy!

Monday we had a lunch date at Morrisons and I had some serious crafting to do ahead of my first craft fair in months. 

Tuesday, I had to go to the hospital to get a scan on my thumb. Yep, that's right. Somehow, I have no idea how, I've hurt my thumb and it was so sore on Tuesday morning I went to the doctors. They said it could be a strain or, because my psoriasis has got worse recently, they wanted me to have an X-ray in case it's psoriatic arthritis. Results in two weeks, anti-inflammatories until then.

On Tuesday afternoon, we had visitors from Durham come to see Ethan for the first time. My good friend Nat and her other half Stu came for two days and we went for dinner, to the pub and for milkshakes whilst catching up on all our latest news. I also got some belated birthday presents and we had such a nice time that it ended up feeling like a second birthday.

On Wednesday we also had our second session of baby massage and hub was able to come along too. Little man was a star again and really enjoyed the special attention - well, who doesn't like being massaged from head to toe? What was particularly funny though was how Charlie, a 15 week old on the same course, decided to try and sprinkle his mum with the hose, with Ethan following suit just seconds later. Boys, eh?

We also had a look at the nursery there and have another couple of places to visit next week too - it's still months away before I'll be going back to work but we want to make a decision soon so we know where we stand.

We had another lunch date with two mummy friends on Thursday and their little ones, Daisy (11 months) and Jeffery (7 months). I find it really fascinating to see the difference in our babies and talk about all the things we have to look forward to with Ethan. 

Friday was mummy's day off. My work always celebrates our anniversaries and we are 21 this year so we headed for a day at the races in Uttoxeter. Hubs and Ethan had a boy's day at home whilst I had a little flutter on the horses. 

Out of seven races, I picked three winners and two second / third place horses but only had the guts to do place bets. The final race I did however chose a horse to win, and they did, but the odds weren't great so for a £5 stake I won just £12.40. Ah well, I still won and ended up making a little more than I spent so I can't complain. To round off the day, The Black Eyed Peaz, featuring Will.I.Ain't no less, performed and we had a little dance in the sunshine before heading back onto the party bus for some Jaegermeister fun. 

Luckily, I was in bed just after 10pm (we had started at 10.30am after all), as yesterday was my craft fair day. I had some really nice comments about my felt notebooks in particular as well as my scrabble art and handmade cards. I'm doing another fair next Saturday with a friend and that location is always particularly busy so hope to sell a bit more then.

As for today, I'm a little worn out. A day at home, with my favourite two people in the world, is in order I think. 


Thursday, 25 July 2013

Visiting the Grandparents

At the weekend, we went to visit my parents in leafy Hampshire. I moved away almost 11 years ago to go to university in Birmingham and I've stayed ever since, having met my husband during my second year. 

I'd lived in Fleet most of my life and really enjoy going back. When I was a teenager, I couldn't wait to leave as I'd been there so long and it's the kind of place where everyone knows you so if you don't get on, tough. Also, it's not exactly known for it's buzzing nightlife, although the nightclub Jaxx is rather infamous. 

But it is known for being voted as the best place to live in the UK according to the Halifax who look into crime rates, life expectancy, health etc.

Both my parents still live in the area and we were excited for them to see Ethan as they've only seen him on two other occasions. It's difficult with us living apart but this blog, our daily Facebook updates and Skype phone calls all help to keep then up to date with how Ethan is doing.

Last weekend we went to a big craft fair, a classic car show and had a takeaway whilst sitting in my mum's beautiful garden. 

Ethan was a little unsettled at times but it was really nice to spend quality time with Nanna and Gramps who very much dote on him.

One day it would be lovely to move closer but to move anywhere we'd need to have a sizeable deposit as houses aren't exactly cheap. It just means we make the most of our time when we are together which is nice - we don't take each other for granted.


Monday, 22 July 2013

Picture perfect

Thanks to the dawn of the iPhone, anyone can fancy themselves as an amateur David Bailey. Want to take a quick snap to remember a moment? Point and click. Done. Before you know it, you have taken 2,000 photos on your phone of your 11 week old son. Trouble is, whilst the quality of iPhone photos is good in good lighting, anything else isn't quite as good in print plus the best shots are close up so you end up having 2,000 head and shoulder pics.

And these are great - it's so nice to be able to take a photo when the mood takes you - but you can't beat proper photography. For that reason, we bought ourselves a DSLR camera, despite me being on the appalling SMP income, as I didn't want to look back at Ethan's early years and have just candid phone photos to remember it all by. The iPhone just doesn't do my little boy justice!

So, when Ethan was eight days old, we had some professional photography taken by the incredibly talented and extremely nice Shaun Fellows of Shine Pix. I've worked with Shaun on many a PR shoot and he's well known for his wonky photo specials but after he took some stunning shots at a couple of colleagues' weddings, I was keen to snap him up (apologies for the pun) as soon as little man arrived.

Shaun came to our house and transformed our sofa and our dining room into a studio for the morning. A white sheet, a black sheet, a teddy bear and hubs and I were all that we needed to get some truly fantastic shots. Oh, and Ethan, the star of the show, of course!

I won't propose to tell you how he did what he did, but Shaun worked his magic during and after the shoot an left us with a beautiful collection of photos of our baby from his first week in the world. 

Here's my favourite photo of the three of us: 

I've only used our new camera for a couple of days but I'm pleased with my first attempts. I don't think I'll be giving Shaun a run for his money any time soon though!

Check out Shaun's portfolio here: 

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