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Baby Sleep

Swaddles Galore, But Which One Is Best?

 Image courtesy of ErgoPouch

Image courtesy of ErgoPouch

When second bubs came along I thought it was a good opportunity to test out a few different sleeping wraps on her. Yep, I put my baby to work as soon as she came out of the womb!

Since doing this review, Ergo Pouch have changed their sizing options, so just keep that in mind when reading.

I checked out 5 different wraps, newborn sizes. I was interested to see them side by side and compare roominess and perceived comfort.

Plum Pod

  • Nice fabric to touch
  • Bamboo
  • Snug top, keeping arms in while legs were in more roomier bottom half section which allowed for plenty of leg movement.
  • I liked that the top part had some give so baby could move arms underneath
  • BUT, the fabric came apart after 1 wash, it split at the seam and the fabric started to unweave.  Yikes.  Would not recommend based on this

 

Wombie organic swaddler

  • Lovely fabric, and organic
  • Snug fit, very much like a cocoon
  • I liked it for a newborn as it would be as comforting as traditional swaddling
  • Once baby starts growing and moving around I do prefer something which allows for more movement

 

The Gro Company Grobag

  • Fabric was nice but not as nice as some of the other bags
  • I loved the design of it - the rounded bottom half allowing for lots of leg movement
  • Really convenient to change – especially the night changes
  • Snug top part but flexible enough for some arm movement
  • Comes with clips on the arms if you want to let them lose, which for me at a newborn stage was not so important but late on it is a good feature to have

Ergo Pouch Cocoon - bamboo + organic cotton

  • This is one of the longer pouches that I tried (and now with new sizing, it will be even roomier)
  • I love the fabric that Ergo Pouch have – they are soft to the touch, plus they age well even after so much washing
  • Snug top part but flexible enough for some arm movement
  • Bottom has more than enough room for leg movement
  • Comes with clips on the arms if you want to let them lose, which for me at a newborn stage was not so important but later on it is a good feature to have
  • This was one of my favourites, and I used them again in the larger sizes

Love To Dream

  • I mainly used Love To Dream with my first, I loved their fabrics and the arm design
  • The butterfly arms are my favourite feature particular for smaller babies that still have their arms inside.  I like that they can suck on their little hands which is something they like to do.
  • Bottom has more than enough room for leg movement
  • Overall the swaddle has a snug fit but the fabric has a lot of stretch in it
  • My only gripe with the dream baby is that it didn’t wash well -  I found that it looked quite tired very quickly. But it’s for sleeping in, so it’s hardly a major issue.  There was never any issue with seams or anything coming apart – and I have had a lot of these swaddles.
  • This is one of my favourites

Please note the gallery below is sorted in order of the text above. First image - all, 2.baby wearing Plum; 3. Wombie; 4 & 5. Grobag; 6. Ergo Puch 7. Love To Dream

The 3 best pieces of advice I got about better sleeping habits for my newborn

shutterstock_110949800.jpg

Everyone has their way of working through sleep habits of a newborn.  I have tried most of them. I did slightly different things for my first than I did with my second. I think with my second baby, as I had seen the after effects of not listening to the right people I was a lot more open to trying different techniques.  All babies are different and will respond to different things. For example, my eldest loved (and still loves) tapping at bedtime. My second one doesn’t seem to be too bothered.  You have to find what works best for you and your family but I found the below really made a difference to me with my second baby.

But a quick note before I start.  I absolutely believe in a bedtime routine, i.e. the same things every night/day as they are going to bed.  And I try to keep to a time schedule as much as possible. It’s not as easy with two but I do what I can, when I can.  And for me that works, for now.  Even the little things, like keeping the same night time buddies, (her Kitty Kippin and Fabelab cushion bunny) in her cot with her always; and her shusher is always switched on as soon as she goes in the cot. I was using the badger sleep balm but I have now stopped as I don’t think she needs it.

 

1.       Give it 2 minutes

At about 2 or 3 months I started to be a bit more committed to establishing good sleep patterns for my little Anni.  We were very lucky because she was a great night sleeper.  But I was struggling in the day time and what I was doing was not working.   The maternal health nurse booked a sleep consultant for a home visit.    Most things I had been doing in line with what her approach was.  But there was 1 difference.  I was running in as soon as she would start crying. So, I would put her to sleep, give her a tap and leave the room.  As she got older she would wait a bit and then start crying. I would come running. Now, just to be very clear about this, she was not crying hysterically, just grizzling and low intensity cry. The sleep consultant recommended that I wait for 2 minutes (or around 2 minutes) to give Anni a chance to settle herself. But if she doesn’t or if the crying intensifies, go in give her a tap or rub, make sure she is comfy and walk out.  For 2 or 3 days I did this (during the day, no issues at night) never letting her crying get intense, and it did the trick.

At the same time as I had this advice, I also was given advise number 2 which I did in conjunction with the above. And it made a world of difference doing these two things together.  She went to sleep quickly once in the cot and she is now 1 yr old and sleeps like a trouper!!!

 

2.       Be consistent

A friend of mine went to Masada sleep school with her second, who are absolutely amazing.  And for anyone really struggling, a sleep program like this one can make a massive, positive change in your life. But the key piece of advice which she imparted to me, was be consistent when going in to the baby. When you are settling the baby, it is as important to be consistent as in the earlier routine you implement. I was being consistent at the start but not when I was coming back in to resettle. Sometimes I would shush, sometimes I would tap for a bit, rub a bit. So, I found a number of taps (80 slow taps) that seemed to work. At first it was 50 but it wasn’t enough time with her, so I increased it to 80.  I would be quiet, no shushing, I would walk in, check her (ie smell her bum), tap her and then walk out.  If she didn’t settle, I would wait the 2 minutes or more (or less) and then go back in and do exactly the same thing.

Worked!! Loved it. I love consistency. But more important - babies love consistency!

 

3.       Give her milk 30mins before lunchtime nap

So, getting to sleep was working well. Morning nap, lunch time nap. Getting to sleep was great.  But, I was really struggling with the lunch sleep timing - Anni would not sleep for two hours.   She was getting to sleep ok, because the getting to sleep methods had worked well. But she was waking up after one sleep cycle.  This concerned me because resettling is a really important tool for babies, and if they don’t get enough sleep because they can’t fall back to sleep – it’s not good for anyone!  A friend of mine had tried the Little Ones sleep techniques which had worked really well for her bubs and she suggested I try feeding Anni 40min-1hr before I put her to bed - a top up feed. 

BINGO!!  That did it. It was the final piece of the puzzle for me with Anni.  Once I started to do that she started to have her full 2-2.5hr day sleep. 

As I said, you have to find what works best for you. All I can do is share what worked for my family. And as you can see, it wasnt just one method or one piece of advise. Don’t be shy to talk to different people and find out what worked for them as you might just find a little hint will make a world of difference.

Safe Sleeping

baby safe sleeping

Safe sleeping practices for babies are a favourite subject.  It’s been a while since I’ve given any updates, so I thought it would be worthwhile doing a round-up. I have included not only safe sleeping tips but also general tips on better baby sleep.

1.       Let’s start with SIDS & Kids and their recommendations:

a.       Mattress firmness reduces SIDS deaths fivefold – make sure the mattress yu choose has passed the voluntary standard for firmness (AS/NZS Voluntary Standard: Methods of testing infant products – Sleep surfaces – Test for firmness)

b.       The mattress should be snug to the sides of the cot – ideally no gaps between the mattress and cot sides; and absolutely flat

c.       Maximum breathability in and around cot – eg no bumpers, breathable mattress

d.       A baby should sleep on their back, ideally in a safe cot or bassinet next to adult care givers’ bed that meets current Australian Standards

e.       The baby’s feet should be at the bottom of the cot or bassinet

f.        Keep baby 'smoke free' before and after birth, ie away from cigarette smoke

g.       Avoid keeping a baby in the parents bed or on couch – for long or short sleeps

h.       Keep head and face uncovered

i.         Bedding should be kept to a minimum - no: pillow, cot bumper, loose lamb’s wool, soft toy e.g: teddy, doona

j.         If using a blanket, then ensure it is firmly tucked into the sides of the cot or bassinet.

k.       If using a baby sleeping bag, swaddle or wrap ensure that it is the right one for your baby’s age and current weather conditions – e.g. babies who are rolling should not have their arms constrained; use only a singlet/light romper and nappy in warm weather or light grow suit in cooler weather

l.         Baby sleep bags or wraps should be made of muslin or light cotton.  Do not use bunny rugs and blankets as they may cause over-heating; no hoods

m.     A baby sleep bag or wrap needs to be firm but not too tight to allow for natural hip and chest wall expansion. Wrapping legs tight, straight and together may increase the risk of abnormal hip development. Loose wraps are hazardous as they can cover baby’s head and face

2.       No strings: Keep any type of string or rope away from the cot or bassinet – i.e. Position the cot away from curtain cords; do not put dummy ties or teething necklaces of any sort into the cot with a sleeping baby; decorative garlands should be at a safe distance; no toys with strings

3.       No head cover: Don’t put hoods, hats or bibs on the baby while sleeping; and if baby has fallen asleep in the pram make sure they are not covered in any way and are supervised.

4.      Temperature control: make sure that the baby and the room are at a comfortable temperature.  An overheated baby is dangerous; a baby that is uncomfortable won’t be sleeping peacefully.  Ensure that you have a non-synthetic breathable mattress and the baby is dressed appropriately for the weather and room temperature and is, ideally, dressed night attire that is made from organic or natural materials.

5.       Wrapping:  Studies have shown that wrapping can have a calming, sleep-promoting effect, increasing sustained sleep and reduce the frequency of spontaneous awakenings. There are different wraps for different age groups and temperatures and to get the maximum benefit from wrapping and keep it safe, you must use the appropriate type of wrap.  Keep in mind, also, that every baby is different and you may not get the right wrap the first time. You may have to change the style you use until you find one that baby feels comfortable in. And don’t be frustrated if your baby just doesn’t like being wrapped. It happens.  The below is a quick guide

a.       Muslin or cotton unstructured wraps are great for newborns but harder to use for growing babies as they are very loose and come undone quite easily. You can keep using an unstructured wrap for as long as it works for baby, by not wrapping the arms once baby has started to show signs of rolling.

b.       Structured wraps for newborns restrain the arms so that baby can sleep and not wake due to startle reflex. It should not be too tight, natural movement of chest and legs should be maintained.  A wrap with restricted arm movement should not be used once baby is rolling. 

c.       Structured wraps for rolling babies – you can buy wraps that have gradual introduction of arms for transitioning i.e. one arm at a time.  You would start using this at around 4 months and transition to a bag or wrap that has complete arm movement.

d.       TOG ratings help you choose the right bag for the weather and room temperature.  The smaller the number the less warm the sleeping bag is.  Eg ergoPouch – 0.2 rated is for warm weather, summer conditions; 2.5 tog for colder, winter temperatures.

6.       No distractions – babies need mobiles to play not to sleep.  Keep distraction in or around the cot to an absolute minimum. The cot must be a restful place.

7.       Burp well – An uncomfortable baby is a wide-awake baby. Make sure that you spend a good amount of time burping the baby during and after the feed.  

8.       Additional peace of mind can be bought – you can buy under mattress monitors or pads that react if baby stops breathing. The simpler, more common monitors are the video monitors that either connect to your mobile or to a compatible monitoring device.

source: http://www.sidsandkids.org/safe-sleeping;  kidssafe.com.au

Skincare during pregnancy

pregnancy skin care

I first became “aware” or concerned about the chemicals I was exposing myself to via ‘skin care’ when I was pregnant with my first baby.  I didn’t act broadly I just changed some things. But it did set me in a direction that I am constantly expanding and have been for almost 4 years.  I’m still not perfect but I am better and it’s a constant state of change as I make new discoveries.

So I am pregnant again and again it has prompted another clean out of the ‘skin care’ cupboard.  I thought I would share what I am using in my every day. Some stuff is new; some I have already written about. 

 Firstly, the thing I noticed more than anything was that the less I used, the less I needed and the better everything became. Simple was so much better for me.  Granted, I am lucky that I don’t have any major conditions.  But the things, like dandruff and face breakouts, that I did suffer from, are no longer an issue and I am spending less on both hair and face than I used to.  If you do have conditions or have any rashes or breakouts that don’t look right, always see your doctor.

I buy everything from Nourished Life.  My wonderful partner and baby bought me a voucher for Mother’s Day so I am getting ready to do a big shop!!!

So from top to bottom, here it is. 

Hair

Acure Brazilian Keratin Straightening Shampoo – not sure it’s doing much straightening but it has been a great shampoo – no dandruff which is the first time in like 20years. I was using the shampoo and conditioner but I switched the conditioner to 100% Pure Healthy Scalp Conditioner and I will probably try 100% Pure shampoo next. I find my hair is especially softer now after switching to the 100% Pure conditioner.

hair care during pregnancy

   

 

Acure Moroccon Argan Oil – so I was using this on my hair and face which was great.  I managed to break the bottle when I was half way through and haven’t done a re-order yet – but I will. Apparently it can be used as a facial serum, body massage oil, hair serum, cuticle repair oil and treatment for dry elbows and heels. 

Hair brush – I got sick of all the plastic so I changed my hair brush to the 100% Pure Wooden Gentle Bristle Brush.

I have not dyed my hair since I have been pregnant, so as you can imagine I am looking fabulous with my long grey roots! But I want to try the HairPrint Grey Hair Remover for Women as soon as I have had the baby. With my level of grey I will probably need 2 packets of this for the first time use. Mixed review but worth a shot.  The description says – “This is a toxic free option to covering greys, but rather than dyeing your hair a different colour, it restores it to its natural shade..”

hair dye during pregnancy

 

Face

I don’t use cleanser, I just wash my face with hot water and cloth.  I don’t wear a lot of makeup and I no longer have the blackhead and break out issues I used to have when I did the cleanse, tone routine, so for now, I am happy.

I use very sporadically (i.e. once per month, if that) the Sukin Face Scrub that I have had for ages – bought on holidays last year.  But I want to get the 100% Pure Brightening Scrub & Mask.  Not sure if you are sensing a pattern here – 100% Pure is quickly becoming my go to for everything.  They have great products and I have been really happy with the stuff I have bought.

Makeup  - I have been using MAC – I love the Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation. But I want to try Andalou Age-Defying Beauty Balm Natural Tint with SPF 30 which is apparently amazing.

face care during pregnancy

 

Toothpaste

One of my new changes – I swapped from traditional supermarket toothpaste to Comvita Whitening Toothpaste.  I wanted to see if it made a difference.  The only change that I can see is that my gums have stopped bleeding.  I don’t know why, or how. It just has.

I was doing the oil pulling for a while with the Coconut Revolution Organic Coconut Oil, that I love, but I have been very slack this year with it.  I should go back to it.  Coconut Oil has so many uses – it is amazing. I have written about it before and will mention it again when I talk about body care.

teeth during pregnancy

 

Body

Deodorant - I swapped to the Lavera Invisible 24 Hour Roll On Deodorant when my other natural deodorant stopped working for me. And it has been brilliant so far.  I know people swear by the Black Chicken Remedies Axilla Deodorant Paste as well – lots of great reviews, but the paste doesn’t appeal to me and I am very happy with the Lavera.

body care during pregnancy

 

I’ve been using a combo of oils since for ages, and not a lot of difference since I’ve been pregnant. The only thing I added was the LaClinica Organic For Mum Stretch Mark Belly Rub Oil which I have loved.  The smell (jasmine, I think) is amazing!!!

I also use the Coconut Revolution Organic Coconut Oil.

I have a lot of natural soaps that I have amassed at various markets and have been using one for washing in the shower.  But I recently tried a sample of the Weleda Creamy Body Wash and want to use that. It’s amazing.  I can’t decide between the Weleda Wild Rose Creamy Body Wash or Sea Buckthorn.

I don’t know if sanity comes under body but let’s just say it does.  I have been using the Badger Sleep Balm as I have had some trouble with sleep. I love it – I think it’s amazing.

Hands & nails

This was a recent change that I made – and am I happy that I did. What a difference.  I swapped my supermarket nail polish remover & nail polish.  I am now using Fresh Therapies Nail Polish Remover & the 100% Pure 10-Free Nail Polish. They both are amazing – I no longer need a gas mask to take nail polish off and the 100% Pure nail polish stays on for almost 2 weeks like the old one.

nail care during pregnancy

 Next on my list

On my radar for the big shop which will replace hand cream, foot cream and lip gloss, plus a little something something for the thighs… Egyptian Magic All Purpose Cream; Hurraw Organic Lip Balm; Weleda Birch Cellulite Oil;  100% Pure Coffee Bean Eye Cream.  All apparently amazing and top class, so I am excited about getting my hands on them.

skin care during pregnancy

  

Tips For New Mums

There are so many emotions after your baby finally makes his or her entrance into the world.  Most of the time they are positive and overwhelmingly pleasurable.  And sometimes they are just overwhelming. And confusing.  Within reason these are all fine emotions to have.  You are readjusting to a new life - for most of us quite different from the one BB (before baby).  Below are some tips to help navigate these new unchartered waters.  Some of these helped me, others I wish I had thought of when I was a new mum. I always say that you have to do what you feel is right for you – every family and person is different. Just remember that.

Tips for new mums
  1. Looking after yourself is as important as looking after your baby.  Eat well – feed your body with the nutrients it needs to feed your baby and keep you active.
  2. Find 5 minutes to mediate at least once per day – it is so easy.  Download the smiling mind app and use their guided 2-5 minute meditations to just take time out.
  3. Accept the unexpected and relinquish some of the old control.  Trying to retro fit your old life into this new one won’t work – just try and work out a new routine for the new life.
  4. Go for a walk at least once per day – 30 minutes or more.
  5. Sleep when the baby sleeps – seriously – stuff the housework.  Just sleep.  The more you sleep the better you will feel.
  6. Find little moments of pleasure - get yourself some gorgeous body care products and when you put them on feel like a million dollars e.g. the Aurora body oil is exquisite.  Amazing after a shower. Put time in the diary to go out and have a mani/pedi and your hair done. Hint to friends and family that a Spa voucher might be a great baby shower present!
  7. There is nothing wrong in finding help where you can and making life run a bit smoother.  Convenience is not a dirty word. And do not be shy about asking for help. Talk to the family and friends who offer about how they can help – e.g. if they offer to make you dinner – say yes please;  if they offer to sit one night while you go out for a quick dinner, say yes please; if they offer to mow the lawn, say yes please.  And if they ask what they can do, tell them.
  8. If you are reading a “parenting” book and it is making you feel uncomfortable or bad in some way – I implore you to put it down and find a different one.  It’s not you, it’s just that your principles don’t line up with the authors and that’s ok.  Give yourself permission to do things your way. 
  9. Have a routine.  It’s not just about sleep, it’s about having some structure to help you as well.  Having a routine around play, sleep and bathing gives you both the structure that we are all quite used to.  It means that you have free hands when you need them, together time which you both need and you both know what’s coming up.  There is good reason why schools, work and life in general works on a schedule - most of the time, we need it.
  10. Make time every day to spend together - just playing.  And make time for baby to play independently.  Both are equally important.
  11. Keep a little journal or baby moment’s journal – I like the Kikki K sentence a day journals as you don’t feel like you have to write reams of words – who has time???  Or try an online version with images and then in a year you can create a keepsake.

I always say, listen to everyone as everyone has a slightly different experience, but ultimately do what you feel is the right thing for you and your family.  The fact that everyone has conflicting information should give you the confidence to go your own way, not make you feel more uncertain. Trust your instincts.

Baby Essentials Checklist - Bathing Baby

We believe less is more in the bathing area.  Skin is sensitive and needs gentle care.  Here are some of our bathing essentials.

  1.  Gaia Organic Sleeptime Bath And Massage Oil;

  2. Eco Lavender Essential Oil for a calming before bedtime - just a  few drops should do it;

  3. Boon Naked Collapsible Bathtub if space is an issue or if you have a surface on which to put a bath. Otherwise go with something on a stand; 

  4. Boon Bath Toy Storage And Toys;

  5. Little Bamboo Hooded Towel;

  6. Kuu Konjac Natural Sponge

Baby Essentials Checklist Bathing Baby

Baby Essentials Checklist - Linen for the nursery

It is very easy to buy too much linen. Maybe because there is so much beautiful linen available or because you think more than what you actually need. My suggestion:

  • have three or four fitted sheets to make sure that you have enough for night time clean ups 
  • have two or three swaddles (or sleep sacks) 
  • have one pram blanket
  • have one indoor blanket
  • and have either a small plain blankie (eg Little Giraffe) or one that is a toy/blankie combo (eg Apple Park)

 

Baby Essentials Checklist Linen for the nursery

Baby Essentials Checklist - Sleep space

There are lots of products to choose from for the nursery sleep space.  The Nursery Bird sleep essentials are:

  1. Oricom Babysense2 Baby Monitor And Sensor Pads;

  2. Nook Pebble Pure Mattress;

  3. A Clean And Serene Colour Palette For The Sleeping Area;

  4. Bednest Bassinet;

  5. Love To Dream Swaddle;

  6. Nook Organic Cotton Cot Sheet 

Baby Essentials Checklist Baby Sleep Space

Baby Nursery Ideas - Creating points of interest

Create different spaces in the baby’s nursery which will work as baby grows. For example, a room can have a reading nook, play space, little discoveries throughout for when she grows as well as the functional feeding/calm space, sleeping and dressing area.  

It sounds like a lot but is manageable in even the smallest of rooms.  

Keep eating and sleeping spaces consistent with limited distractions (for as long as you can) which will help add calm, comfort and focus for bubs. 

Make sure that around the room, there are little point of interest that will keep bubs enjoying her room and always making new discoveries.  Keep in mind that spaces should work for you to spend time with her as a baby and then for her to be able to enjoy on her own once she is older.

Little discoveries in a room can be as simple as using wall stickers of animals and shapes etc.. at various heights in the room for baby to find.  Remember is doesn't have to be complicated.  Just try and imagine how fun it is to discover hidden treasures. Try having a crawl around on the floor yourself.  And also think about things hanging on the walls. 

Reading nook

hint: IKEA spice racks secured to the wall for little book nooks.

Play Space

Little discoveries

Hint: Etsy is amazing for these kinds of cute finds.

Sleeping

 

Feeding

Images sourced from Pinterest

Tory talks ... Caring for multiple kids

If motherhood has taught me anything, it’s that hindsight it a wonderful thing! In my pre-mum days I remember thinking I could just accumulate all the advice from people and prepare myself adequately for what was to come. Sleepless nights, check. Changing nappies, check.  Baby proofing corners, check.

My reality was very different. Suddenly I felt like I’d lost every single spare second of time. I didn't, it would seem, have time for anything so in effect, getting everything done with no time felt very stressful.

This for me was the biggest adjustment. Once I’d realized and accepted the limitations of time and learnt how to adapt to it, adding more kids the mix seemed inconsequential, sort of.

The critical key to 2+ kids is organization and routine. I know there is a school of thought around letting kids run their own lives to develop who they really are. This sounds lovely but as previously mentioned, there is no time left for anything in our house and this includes self discovery so we forge ahead running our tight ship.

Our strict method of parenting affords us the luxury’s like getting everyone fed. Getting out of the house and to scheduled appointments, work, childcare etc.. within reasonable late time frames. Sometimes, when we’re really strict we make them on time! Going into public fully clothed in weather appropriate attire (most of the time)…the list of successes continues.

Some key components of our approach:

  1. Whatever can be prepared the night before, gets prepared (school bags, lunches, cleaning the kitchen, loads of washing)
  2. Give kids ownership of processes (age specific). Getting dressed, cleaning teeth, eating own breakfast etc.
  3. Fit your own mask before assisting others…AKA Get up and ready before the kids get up. Getting multiple kids ready is a challenge akin to juggling so it’s best to not be trying to get ready yourself
  4. Have a game plan. Know exactly what needs to be done and by whom i.e. to get out of the house of a morning, shopping list, weekend plans etc..
  5. Have and monitor a household to do list so that everyone knows what needs to be done and can pitch in
  6. Take/enlist any help you can get/afford e.g. a fortnightly house cleaner is an investment in sanity.

 

So, in the immortal words of Dr. Seuss:

Two kids

So be sure when you step.

Step with care and great tact

and remember that Life's

a Great Balancing Act.

Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.

And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?

Yes! You will, indeed!

(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)

 

 

Why buy organic baby products? Mattress choice for your cot.

There is a lot of scepticism about organic products and the value that they have.  Taking out of the equation environmentally respectful practices and benefits on some manufacturers, I would like to focus on toxicity.

Cot Mattresses - Know what your baby is sleeping on.

As those of you who follow us on Facebok will have seen, yesterday I posted an article about a study conducted in the US on cot mattresses and found high toxicity levels.  Here are the "highlights" (or lowlights) of their findings:  Direct quotes taken from source: The Age

  • Babies are exposed to chemical emissions from crib mattresses while they sleep
  • foam padding and plastic covers of 20 new and old crib mattresses emitted volatile organic compounds — known as VOCs — similar to those found in lemon-scented sprays and other household items.
  • The US Environmental Protection Agency says such compounds are irritants that, in some cases, may cause cancer.
  • Infants are more susceptible to indoor pollutants because, proportionally, they breathe in more air per kilogram of body weight than adults.
  • New crib mattresses release four times as many chemicals as older mattresses
  • Choose older mattress wisely to avoid one that is unsanitary or contains now-banned fire retardants (PBDEs)
  • The UT study looked strictly at volatile organic compounds, not the flame retardant chemicals polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, that have been banned in Europe and phased out in the United States.  (read more on this below)

It will be interesting when they do follow up studies, which are in the works, to cover other parts of cot mattresses and how they emit and also then what harm it is having on our babies.

According to one of my favourite books - Organic Baby.  Simple Steps for Healthy Living by Kimberley Rider, the other element to be aware of is flame retardants.

"...flame retardants on conventional mattresses are essential, because the typical foam used in their construction used in their construction has the same combustion rating as kerosene. The flame retardants themselves, however, contain polybromiated diphenyl (PDBE), a compound known to cause irreversible damage to children's nervous systems and brain development."

Kimberley Rider also highlights that some mattresses are made with polyurethane foam and polyester which are made of petroleum products and have been known to cause, allergies and problems with the immune and reproductive systems.  "Some mattresses also include toluene diisocyanate and formaldehyde, both of which are carcinogens and irritants to the eyes and skin."

Some work in Australia and overseas has been done to stop the use of PBDEs and in some parts of world they are banned.  Some PBDEs are banned in Australia but not all.  To find out more :

I am biased but the reason why I started bringing Nook Pebble Pure mattresses into Australia was because I didn't want my baby sleeping on what was available - I wanted her to have the best mattress I could find. And for me, personally, it Nook

Skin care products for baby

Skin care products for baby

The other day new parents to a beautiful baby boy asked me about skincare.  They had heard that J&J did not have a good reputation and wanted to know what else was out there.  So, I thought it might be useful to share...

newborn baby

To preface - the vast majority of baby products are laden with chemicals.  (As are adult products.) Not only is it difficult to understand, but most of them you can't even pronounce. It takes patience and time to find natural products that work for you and your baby. Everyone is different and every product works differently. The only way to know is to test, unfortunately.

As with anything, check with your doctor if rashes or other skin conditions are not getting better.

Skin

My approach has been to limit, in general, how much I put on Caitlin's skin.  Mother Nature knows best is my approach...  I use products on a needs basis, which is sporadically.  We all have natural oils in our bodies that we produce as necessary. When you need an oil for either baby massage or to condition dry skin try Almond Kernel Oil, Avocado Oil and even Olive Oil. Gaia have an organic oil which is produced from multiple oils.

If you need to use powder - buy the natural variety which generally contains cornstarch.

 

Side Note:  If you are using standard powder on your baby - make sure that you don't use it around the genital area, especially for girls.  Has been linked to ovarian cancer.

Bathing

It was at bath time that I finally found something that would work on her skin rashes - chamomile tea.  So, basically buy loose tea, put 3-4 heaped teaspoons into a cup and make it with boiling water as you normally would.  Leave it there for 10-30mins. Then add the tea through a strainer into your baby's bath, i.e. you don't want bits of tea floating in there.  This helps ease heat rashes and nappy rash for Caitlin.  I always have it in the house now!

I love the smell of lavender in the bath - I have used J&J Bathtime in the bath. I love the smell and a tiny amount in the bath is enough. But unfortunately J&J is far from natural. I also used the Gaia sleeptime bath which was also good (and organic). The one flaw with Gaia is that it is not as aromatic as J&J Bathtime, but I wonder if a drop of lavender oil in the bath wouldn't do the trick? 

I have also used the QV Bath Oil which came highly recommended by a number of people but I'm not sure how much of a difference it really makes to her skin and it contains products that are not recommended - its ingredients are parabens and petrochemical based.  

Nothing beats the Chamomile Tea for Caitlin.

One of my favourite products to use in the bath, which I have already shared on this blog before - the Konjac natural sponge.  Love it. 

 

Wipes

I have been experimenting in the baby wipes area and am happy to report that I have found the most amazing wipes.  Bambeco wipes are not only natural but also biodegradable.  I order them in bulk online.  I have tried a lot (although not WOTNOT as yet) and Bambeco it is.  The reason why I like them is because:

  • they are strong without being overly thick;
  • they are gentle but effective cleaners;
  • they are moist but not soggy;
  • and the fact that they are bamboo, with natural ingredients is a major plus for me.

Nappies & Nappy Rash

I have a graveyard of nappy rash products - none of which have worked except for Amolin and the chamomile tea bath.  Let me say though - they work at the very early stages of rash and on mild rash only.  Once it has taken hold - which happened when the teeth were coming through - the only thing that helped was Hydrozole. A few days and it was all clear.  Hydrozole is a cortisone based cream and should not be used on an ongoing basis. Before using something like this on your baby, check with your doctor.

If you are concerned about chemicals on your baby's skin look no further than the average disposable nappy. (And don't even get me started on mattresses and cotton). We have written about nappy options in the past - find it here. There are a lot of factors which need to be considered but generally, for many reasons, cloth is best. 

Head/Hair

Make sure to gently brush baby's head (or hair if they have any) from early on.  It helps clear oils which can build up and cause cradle cap.  So a bit of gentle brushing with a soft haired brush everyday. If cradle cap does develop, don't worry it's nothing serious, all you need to buy is a special brush & glove set which you use during bath time. It doesn't take long, and easy to do, and gets rid of it quite quickly.  It may come back but just keep using the brush set.  

For shampoo/body wash I have used Aveeno and Gaia.  Much of a muchness in terms of result.  Aveeno claim natural but the ingredients label on the back tells a different story.  Gaia is organic and easily available.

Sun

 

 

Last but not least - sunscreen.  The chemicals in sunscreen are a shocker - and have been linked to cancers and skin conditions.  Solve one problem create another 10....  I bought WOTNOT natural sunscreen originally for Caitlin but we have all now started using it.  

 

So there you have it - this is my list.  There are of course other products.  My list may not work for you, but I hope that it gives you a starting point. There are some great shops around now that stock organic and better for baby products, like Little Green Footprints & Nourished Life.

On a final note, I know it seems like a lot, so my suggestion is go step by step if it's all too much.  If you want to make a major change to baby's exposure to chemicals then start with one or more of the products that spend the most time on or near the baby's skin -  nappies, under clothing, mattress or skincare products.

And, if you want to be more careful with chemicals around the baby, look at the home cleaning chemicals as well - including the dish washing liquid.  There are a great natural alternatives.  Check out our older posts here.

Tips & bits... Mattress selection

cot mattress

Everyone always says buying a great mattress is a great investment in you.  We should spend a lot of time sleeping. And good back support, comfort and “snug” all make for a great night sleep.  So for a baby - whose bones and spine are developing, who spends most of the day and night on her back; and who spends most hours of the day and night sleeping – can you imagine how important it is to get a great mattress?

This is one area that you don’t want to be cutting corners. And you certainly don’t want pre-loved.   

There are three basic types of mattresses – inner spring, foam and natural.  Natural can also be organic but not necessarily.

There is more and more being written about the dangers lurking in mattresses, particularly frightening for babies.  Inner spring and foam mattresses are synthetic and can be made from petrochemicals and formaldehyde which are at best irritants to skin and allergy causing at worst carcinogens and responsible for immune dysfunction. The off gassing produced by these mattresses is not ideal for babies developing immune and nervous systems.

Natural mattresses are most commonly made of latex. (Make sure its natural latex not synthetic.) And some mattresses use coconut coir.  If you are going to the effort and expense of buying a natural mattress, make sure that the cover you use on it is organic.  Cotton is one the most pesticide laden crops (2nd I believe, after coffee) and off gassing occurs even after washing. 

Do your research and buy as well as you can. If inner spring is the best that you can afford, invest in an organic cover and bed sheets. At least that way there is a safe barrier between the mattress and your baby.

Here are some basic things to look out for when buying a mattress:

  • Must be firm – this is one of the most important factors when choosing a mattress. 
  • Must fits to the cots edges – product safety Australia regulates (maximum 20 mm from any cot side or end when centred on the mattress base; 40 mm when the mattress is pushed to one side or end.)
  • Buy new - bacteria, mites and mould are a danger with old mattresses. 
  • Sturdy edges - to minimise chance of child getting trapped between bed and mattress
  • Hypo-allergenic - Any allergies in family – e.g. to wool or latext?
  • Check for breathability – particularly in hotter climates
  • Weight – foam is lighter and therefore easier to change in the middle of the night.  Make sure that what you buy you can easily move around
  • How many coils – generally more coils may mean more support (but not always).  The quality of the coils is also important.  (Consumerreports.org define "About 135 to 150 is a good midrange.")  Check for firmness – this is the absolute key.
  • Price – foam is generally cheaper – but think about this.  Your child will be spending a lot of time on this particular purchase.  A lot of time when the back and the body is developing and growing. This is not the purchase to save on. You don’t need the most expensive, but you need good quality from a reliable company.  And this is one purchase you want to look at carefully.
  • With inner spring mattresses consumerreports.org warn that beware of the insulator pads (which keep the coils in) – “the lowest-quality insulator pads are made from woven polyester.” Coir fibre, hard felt and fibre-wrap pads are best.
  • Always get a protective cover  - water resistant or waterproof – make sure it is a firm fit to the mattress and buy organic if you can which means it will be water resistant not water proof.

As with anything to do with our babies, we want to do the best we can within our means.  I wish I could buy top of the range all of the time, but that simply is not my reality and I am sure I am not alone.  So my objective with any purchase is to get the  best that my money can buy and find ways to make it better in ways that is within my reach.

And the other thing to keep in mind is that you can always put some money aside - plan for it - if it's a big purchase.  Baby won't need a cot mattress for a while, if you have a bassinet, giving you some extra time to put away a little bit of money. 

Keep an eye out for... secrets of happy kids

Found a great article, written by a child psychologist about what makes a happy child.  Easy advice to follow, and fairly reasonable I would say.   

In short - good routine, healthy independence, respect and your heart. Not so much different from what us adults need... 

1. They eat on time.

2. They get consistent sleep.

3. They play without instructions.

4. They are allowed to express emotions.

5. They get to make choices.

6. They feel heard.

7. They experience unconditional love.

 Check out the article here.

Updates from our favourite people... Tory talks sleeping

I think the most overwhelming advice I got when I announced I was pregnant was to sleep as much as possible while I still had the chance because I was really going to miss it.  Hash-tag what an understatement. Firstly I need to address the ludicrousness of this advice. Trust me when I tell you that an extra few hours on a Sunday morning 4 months before the baby is born will not stop the sleep-deprived wrath you will inevitably unleash on someone. It will most likely be a deliveryman who rings your doorbell while the baby is sleeping, probably to drop off a baby gift.

The other rather misleading piece of advice given to any sleep deprived new mother is to rest when the baby goes down. Apparently we’re no longer supposed to be concerned with wallowing in our own filth or wearing clothes that wouldn't have even passed a health check in the Middle Ages. It also means that you sacrifice gorgeous daylight to catch up on sleep so that you can survive being awake in the dead of night, all alone, with a screaming banshee. It was never super appealing to me in theory or in practice and my biggest error was persisting with it for so long.

Round one for me saw my daughter giving me no more than 45 minutes sleep a day. As she slept through from 7pm until 7am from 7 months I put it down to her not being a very good day sleeper and at least I got a full night, right? I was living my life stressed. I was trying to fit in the running of a household into nights and worried about being a bad mother for not making sure my daughter slept enough (something I was  ‘advised’ repeatedly I should be ensuring). I learnt to manage around everything because I was at least getting enough night sleep.

Round two, my son was born trying to sleep during his nap times. He was perfect and it meant that I had a very easy introduction to being a mother of two. So I ruined it trying to attend to him at the sign of any disturbed sleep just to make sure my daughter didn't get woken up. Huge error. Things went from bad to worse as my son slowly unlearnt to sleep. As I got more and more tired, I got less and less consistent with how I dealt with it and  by the time I decided to use ‘tough love’ (i.e. semi-controlled crying) I was too tired to persist with it and as persistence is the key the whole idea was doomed.

The solution to all my problems was Sleep School, specifically the amazing team of women at Masada Mother Baby Unit. My only regret is not going along sooner.

The Sleep School program is a whole week devoted to making sure you get as much rest as possible. Whilst you grab a little time for yourself a team of the loveliest women in the world organize for you to have a fully functioning sleep machine of a baby at the end. They even arrange a time for you to have a massage if you want one. It’s the perfect opportunity to get the R and R you need to get back on top of dealing with everything.

The first night away from home leaving your baby in the very capable hands of these women is daunting and even though you are no more than a few meters away, it feels like you’re relinquishing your responsibility to someone else. It doesn't take long before you get more entrenched in the program and you start seeing the benefits for both for you and your baby.

The Masada sleep school technique is based on persistence. The idea is to teach babies that no matter what, the exact same thing will happen every single time they cry. Eventually they will understand that it’s sleep time. The other great thing is that you never have to listen to your baby upset for more than 2 minutes, which is often the reason for women not persisting. Nothing like a tear or two to generate the impulse for cuddles!

So after two children and 1 and half months of intense sleep deprivation, my son was sleeping 5-6 hours daily and 12 hours nightly (at 5.5 months old). He would dream feed in the middle of the night and self settle. He is now 13 months old and still a champion little sleeper.

I now get plenty of cupcake-making time with my daughter during the day while my son sleeps, I enjoy my son because I don’t see him as the reason I am tired and my husband and I get the chance to talk about our days over dinner. Although these seem like small things, to us, they are the things that make life perfect.

 

Masada Sleep School
Baby Sleep Problem

Links & resources

A few links for you covering the basics:

SIDS and kids safe sleeping brochure. And there is more on their website if you want to read up some more. 

Safety – if you want to get a good understanding of product safety guidelines across the whole range of baby gear the place to go is Product Safety Australia

Below are some great consumer websites - very informative and favourites of The Nursery Bird.

Complimentary to kidspot.com.au, which I am certain you are already using as it is a great resource for all things baby, is a US site to check out thebump.com.  It also houses thenest.com which is a great household resource. I always try to find different sites or blogs which can provide more than one point of view on any given subject. I believe that the better informed you are about multiple points of view, the better the questions you will ask of your primary carers / helpers and the better prepared you will be if one approach doesn't work.  And it is important to understand that babies are all different.  Don’t be afraid or feel uncomfortable about asking lots of questions.

One of my favourite sites to frequent since I started feeding my baby solids is Wholesome Baby Food. It’s a great resources – covering what to introduce and when, recipes and so on.  The only thing to watch out for – official guidelines on when to introduce allergenic foods to baby have changed – around 7 months is the new recommended age.  Beware - as with anything related to the health of your baby – check with your paediatrician or GP before starting any new foods.

    

Tips & bits...Making space for baby

You will need to create space for baby in more than just the nursery.  Baby has a multitude of needs, that will only expand as time goes on.