There’s No Such Thing As ‘Tough Love’

Heather Wolf — ‘There is no such thing as tough love. Love is kind, love is compassionate, love is tender.”

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When it comes to babies, there is no such thing as ‘tough love’.

The closest thing to ‘tough love‘ I can think of is taking control of all finances whilst your partner who is a gambling addict gets help with his addiction.

When babies are in the mix there is either responding to your babies cues or there isn’t. I hate the phrase ‘tough love’ when referring to babies as if ignoring a babies cries is in their best interest?!

Babies have no idea how to manipulate their parents, as clever as babies are they aren’t THAT clever. Sometimes they cry for attention, and that’s okay. Needing attention is as much of a legitimate need as needing a drink.

And there is TONS of research proving that ignoring your children’s cries CAN be detrimental to their health. I don’t want to hear that you left your darling Peter to cry and he turned out fine. My grandad smoked 30 cigarettes a day for most of his life and he lived until 88. Doesn’t take away the fact that thousands of people die from smoking every single day.

Older children however, I have no idea as I haven’t reached that milestone yet, but if you ever hear me say that I’m leaving my 5 year old to cry himself to sleep then I give you permission to drop-kick me in the face.

‘But the more you respond to them the more they will cry for attention’ I hear you say. Well yeah. Obviously. Is it really such an awful thing that a baby trusts their parents to answer their cries? If you ignore your babies cries then they will eventually stop crying. It doesn’t mean they no longer need cuddling or attention, it just means they know there’s no point in crying as no one is going to come.

So yes, the cry-it-out method does work, I 100% agree with you on that, it doesn’t mean its ethical, loving or right though.

Before you get your knickers in a twist, I wholeheartedly believe that there is a massive difference between chucking your baby in a cot at 7pm and ignoring them all night because YOU think they should be asleep and putting your baby in a safe place for 2 minutes whilst you calm down, cry, get your shit together or call someone over to help you on a bad day.

Humans crave attention, we all like to feel loved and wanted. When we are babies, toddlers, children and adults. It’s normal.

 

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Our Gentle Bed Time Routine

A Gentle Bed Time Routine.pngFor most of us gentle parenting folk, the word ‘routine’ is a scary, scary word.

The word routine has such a bad rep now thanks to the likes of Gina Fraud, *vom* and Super Nanny *vom*, oh and I must not forget Tizzy Hall *vom*.

Their idea of routine is chuck your baby in their cot as soon as it his 7pm and then don’t communicate with them again until morning time. I didn’t realise parenting was only part time hours, some how I’ve ended up with full time parenting hours. Ah well.

Anyway, those of you who know me will know that we have been struggling with Freddie’s sleep for about 5 months now. It wasn’t really the sleep itself that was the issue. He would wake up literally every hour and I didn’t really have an issue with that as I know that for a lot of babies that is completely normal and healthy, it was the fact that during the day he was a complete wreck as he was so tired and grumpy. Oh, and because he was so over tired all the time he also stopped having day time naps so he was only getting around 9-10 hours of sleep in 24 hours. For some babies this is more than enough, but for Freddie this was clearly too little due to how grumpy he was.

I could not for the life of me work out what was wrong, at first I put it down to a leap or growth spurt but after 2 months I started to realise that it probably wasn’t that.

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will know that I LOVE Sarah Ockwell-Smith. She is an author, gentle parenting expert and attachment parent advocate. I absolutely love her and think she’s the bees knees. She has a very gentle, responsive and child-led approach to parenting and she inspires me A LOT.

So when I was scrolling down my dashboard on WordPress I was quite shocked when I came across her latest Vlog. I’m not gonna lie, the title made me wince but I watched the video anyway as I am always interested in what Sarah says.

‘The Importance Of Bed Time Routines For Babies & Toddlers.’

 

 

If you don’t have time to watch the video or you simply CBA; she basically highlights the importance of the lead-up to the child’s or baby’s bed time. She mentions that the time itself is not that important. A general idea is a good thing so anywhere between 7pm-9pm for example but there is no point attempting to put a baby or child to bed when they are not tired and some days will be different to others if you are going out etc.

Unlike many ‘experts’ *ahem BULLSHIT* *ahem GINA FRAUD*, she says that rocking your baby to sleep or feeding your baby to sleep etc is NOT an issue. Body contact promotes bonding and security and there is NOTHING wrong with meeting your child’s emotional needs because us adults are equally emotionally needy and many of us will cuddle our partners to sleep (if you don’t have a baby in between you both).

Sarah reccomends starting with a wind-down routine after tea. Turn off the TV and limit electronics. Play with some toys or do some painting or crafts and listen to some music. After a while of winding down you can start the bed-time routine. The thing I like about Sarah’s example of a bed time routine is that there are no strict times or schedules. It IS baby led.

Gather everything you will need into the bedroom that they will fall asleep in. So a clean nappy, pyjamas, body lotion/oil and a few bed time stories.

Take the baby into the bathroom and get them into a nice warm bath. After a few days of doing this routine they will begin to connect bath time to the beginning of their bed time and will help them wind down.

Once bathed, take them into the bedroom and make sure the lights are dim and the curtains are closed in preparation for this. Sarah recommends giving the baby or toddler a gentle massage with lotion or oil. By ‘massage’ she doesn’t mean that the baby or toddler has to stay still because from 6 months onwards your baby will probably be moving around more! This massage is more about the skin to skin contact and meeting your child’s physical needs and if your baby/child has this skin to skin contact now they will be less likely to keep waking for physical contact and reassurance (although it’s completely normal for babies to wake up for this anyway!!).

Once baby/toddler is massaged and in pyjamas you can settle down and start to read them the book in a soft and gentle voice and of course, you can breastfeed or cuddle whilst reading to them.

This is pretty much all there is to the routine and I love how gentle and baby led it is.

After watching this video, I realised what the issue was with Freddie’s sleep and well being.

We would go straight from being a hustley-bustley bright, loud front room and taken into bed and boobed to sleep all in the space of minutes. Obviously I wasn’t allowing him time to wind down so he wasn’t getting a good quality of sleep.

Obviously every baby is different, some babies thrive off gentle and baby led routines whereas some don’t need it and can wind down by themselves.

Sarah also highlights in the video that even as adults we have some sort of winding down and bed time routine. And thinking about it, it’s certainly true in mine and my partners case.

It’s been over a week since introducing a gentle winding down and bed time routine and I must say we have noticed a massive difference already and it’s also reallllly helped with getting him to sleep without me there. I’ve recently started doing evening shifts and the first time I had my evening shift was a complete nightmare and ended in tears and a total breakdown from my partner! However, on day 4 of using this approach Simon got him to sleep in the Tula after following his winding down routine and he slept until I came home!

I think it’s important to know the difference between a schedule and a routine. A schedule is a very strict sequence of events at particular times. A routine is a sequence of events in a certain order at any given time and can also be switched and changed.

I’m feeling so much more positive now about leaving Freddie to go to work in the evenings and also about the fact that he is a lot happier during the day and also naps easier. It’s only been a week or so but we are starting to see a massive difference and there has been absolutely no tears or anything traumatic for either of us!

 

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‘Your Baby Is Healthy, That’s All That Matters’

top 10.pngAnyone who has suffered with post-birth trauma has probably had this phrase chucked at them along with a handful of other unhelpful and isolating phrases.

Yes-ultimately, giving birth to a healthy baby is the main goal, but mum’s feelings are incredibly important too. If a mum doesn’t get the birth experience she longed for, if things went wrong during labour, or even if the birth went to plan; she can still suffer with a post natal mental health illness and she has every bloody right to feel sad and mournful, even if you don’t see ‘what the big deal is’.

Every woman has the right to make an informed decision on her birth plan and if her wishes and desires are ignored, belittled or have to change in an emergency then this can have a great impact on her mental health.

For example some mums want a home birth, some mums want a water birth, some mums want an epidural, some mums opt for a caesarean due to previous birth trauma, some mums want to free birth and if their plan is hindered then it can cause feelings of failure, guilt, grief, anger, isolation and in some cases it can even make a mum feel like she doesn’t love her child. (It is important to note that just because someone is suffering with PND or post natal trauma then it does not mean they don’t love their baby or that they have ill feelings towards their baby.)

Most of the time these feelings can be resolved within weeks or months at most with the correct support, information, therapy and love. But recovery and bonding with their baby can actually be pro longed if they feel isolated and are being made to feel worse than they already do.

I asked some women online about phrases that really affected them and made them feel worse and also prevented some from seeking help as they felt ashamed and guilty.

  • “Oh, other people would kill to be in your position!”
  • “Just put him on a bottle, you’ll get more sleep and feel better”
  • “These things happen”
  • “Well, at least they let you do things the easy way with the c-section”.
  • “My friend had pnd she found going for a walk really helped”
  • “He shouldn’t be with you if you’re feeling like that”
  • “You had an easy birth compared to some people, you should be happy!”

 

Every single birth and birth plan is different and no one should be made to feel ashamed for their feelings if they didn’t have the birth they wanted.

When my son was a newborn I couldn’t even think about the emergency caesarean without crying and feeling huge pangs of guilt. I felt like I had failed him. I don’t know why I felt this as I look up to other mums who have had caesareans and think they are amazing as the healing and recovery is awful.

I remember waking up when Freddie was 2 days old, we were back home by this point and I woke up in so much pain, I couldn’t even describe it. I waddled to the toilet balling my eyes out, I felt like I couldn’t survive. Those feelings probably seem so dramatic to some people but that doesn’t make my experience any less valid.

The emergency caesarean stopped me from bonding with my son for a while and if it wasn’t for breastfeeding him then I’m not sure how long it would have taken to bond with him! I felt good knowing that he NEEDED my milk to stay alive and that’s what got me through. When he was a few weeks old an overwhelming sense of love just hit me in the face and I knew right then that I loved him more than anything.

Don’t let anyone brush your feelings aside as if they do not matter. Because they DO. You matter, your birth matters and most of all the relationship between you and your baby matters.

 

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Things That REALLY Matter Post-Birth

People so often go on about the things that aren’t really essential post-birth, they may be helpful and make things slightly easier like bouncers and swings but no one talks about what really matters. They may not be essential to some people but they’re all things that have been proved to improve the health and recovery for mum and baby.

Things That REALLY Matter Post-Birth

Delayed cord clamping

Fortunately, this is now becoming common practise in the UK, however mums can decline it if they wish and sometimes in emergencies delayed cord clamping is not an option. I had an emergency caesarean and the cord was cut straight away. With future babies I will definitely be delaying cord clamping.

Delaying cord clamping promotes better blood volume in the baby and it keeps the mother and baby together as 1.

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Skin to Skin

Skin to skin is sooo important for mum and baby, and also for daddy too.

If you’re breastfeeding it helps trigger your oxytocin levels which triggers your milk to let-down. Even if you’re not breastfeeding it’s still very important, if not more so important. It promotes bonding and research has shown that mums who have frequent skin to skin with baby are less likely to get PND. (Click here to see the study)

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Breastfeeding

I think most people know how important breast milk is for a baby, however the support and correct information is still lacking for many mums and they give up sooner than intended or don’t even try at all.

Obviously, infant feeding is always a mothers choice but it should be an informed choice and unfortunately many mums don’t get to make an informed choice. They make the choice based on what their friends and family do or based on myths perpetrated. For example, not breastfeeding because family members have been unable to so mum assumes that she can’t either. Only 2% of mums can’t physically breastfeed but a whole lot more of mums ‘can’t’ breastfeed simply due to lack of support.

If you are on medication, check with Wendy Jones who is a pharmacist and specialises in breastmilk and medication to see if your medication is compatible with breastfeeding. Unfortunately Dr’s and Nurses aren’t trained in breastmilk and medication so they often say you can’t breastfeed on certain medications to be ‘on the safe side’.

If you are struggling then please please seek help! Here is a list of Lactation Consultants in the UK (just enter your post code and it will find your local ones for you!), and here is a list of Breastfeeding Support Groups in the UK. You can also search here for local NCT Latch on groups near you and they can also organise for a breastfeeding specialist or peer supporter to see you.

If you cannot breastfeed or you need more milk whilst building up supply or whathaveyou then Human Milk For Human Babies is a brilliant source to find donor milk near you!

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Bonding

You would have thought this was a fairly obvious one. Every mum knows that bonding with baby is important, right? Well, yes they may do BUT they don’t realise what bonding entails. Skin to skin is a massive factor, but also just spending time with one another without having people interrupting and having you play host whilst they sit on the sofa passing baby around like a bloody parcel. If you must have visitors then tell them to bloody well bring round some shopping or a takeaway, oh and do the dishes whilst they’re at it too! You should not have to run around after anyone at such a precious time. Which leads me on to my next point…

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Relax

I wrote about this before, why the bloody hell do women rush to get back to normality and routine after having a baby?! Just chill!! I know it’s probably easier said than done when you have other kids to tend to but get your partner to take over for a while. Or if you don’t have a partner then get a close friend or relative to come round whenever possible to give you time to relax.

If you don’t have other kids to tend to then you have no excuse! *bossy voice!* It’s not to say that you’re chained to the house, but just take your time and go with the flow. Even after the most simple and natural birth it’s important to give your body time to heal and every woman deserves to be treated like a Goddess post-birth.

I usually HATE the phrase Happy Mummy Happy Baby (read about that here!)as it’s so overused now but I think in cases like these, when the mum is taking time to relax and care for her well being it makes it easier to bond with the baby and give 100% of your attention and care to your baby which in turn means that your baby is happy and is having all their needs met on demand.

 

 

Can you think of anything else that REALLY matters post-birth?

 

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5 Ways To Be Discreet Whilst Breastfeeding

We all know that breastfeeding is a shameful and immodest act. I fear that indiscreet breastfeeding will make men uncomfortable as it’s hard to ogle over boobs when there’s a baby attached. Those poor men.

I’ve written a list of ways to be discreet whilst breastfeeding so we can stop making other people feel uncomfortable. (Because obviously their comfort is more important than your babies.)

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1- Use some sort of cover. A breastfeeding apron is simply not good enough. I recommend buying one of those pop up tents. They’re easy enough to carry around with you and if your baby needs a feed you can just pitch it up in the middle of a shop and sit in there whilst you feed.

2- Carry a ‘warning’ sign around with you and before you sit down to feed your baby place it approximately 5 metres away from you so people have a chance to overt their eyes.

3- If a sign is simply not feasible as your pop up tent is taking up all of the room in your handbag then carry a roll of that bright yellow ‘warning’ tape around with you. That way you can wrap the tape around furniture and isolate yourself in the corner of the cafe or shop.

4- Sing really loudly. That way you will distract the attention from the small amount of skin exposed whilst feeding your child. The perks of this one is that some people may mistake you for a busker and give you money.

5- If the previous 4 tips fail then simply don’t leave the house until your baby no longer breast feeds. If you’re planning to breastfeed until natural term then you may be stuck in for a while so I recommend stocking up your cupboards and making the most of internet shopping.

 

Hopefully these tips will help you become more discreet whilst feeding your baby. After all, feeding your child in the most natural way is not something people should see.

 

Happy pop-up tent boobing!

 

If you enjoyed this article then you may enjoy reading 9 Ways To Create A Rod For Your Own Back!

 

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Why We Will Be Doing Extended Rear Facing

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Before I was a parent, none of this stuff interested me at all. I didn’t realise how many decisions you would have to make as a parent. I literally thought that you just pop the baby out, feed it occasionally, put some clothes on them and everything else will fall into place.

I certainly didn’t even know about extended rear facing (when a baby/child rear faces in their car seat throughout toddler-hood and childhood). I heard about this when Freddie was a newbie, it didn’t really cross my mind though until he was a few months old.

I decided to do some research on this topic as I figured he won’t fit in his infant car seat for long.

The results I found were astonishing and it was apparent to me that we would be doing extended rear facing regardless. I think a large factor of what puts people off of Extended Rear Facing is the price of the car seats. Yes, they are pretty expensive but I’d rather live off beans and bread for months than risk him being seriously injured, or worse, if we ever got into a car accident.

Although the risk of being involved in a car accident may seem minimal I was shocked to learn that being in a car is more dangerous than being in an air-plane! Yes, you heard me right, hovering at 3,000 ft in the air is safer than being in a car. Car accidents are becoming more and more common and car safety is something we need to stay informed on.

There are many questions you may ask when choosing a car seat for your baby. There are many things that put people off Extended Rear Facing and I think it’s important to highlight just how important ERF is.

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  1. Isn’t being forward facing more safe than Extended Rear Facing?

Nope, nope it’s not. A study conducted in 2007 showed that the risk of severe injury in children 12-23 months in a forward facing care seat was over 5 times higher than in rear facing. I was gob smacked when I saw this. I didn’t quite believe it as it seemed crazy, but after thorough research I realised it was in fact true.

2. Won’t my rather long child be uncomfortable in a rear facing car seat?

No, children and babies naturally sit in a position where their legs are bent and very frog-like. There are many ERF car seats available that provide plenty of leg room anyway.

3. Surely they are more likely to break their legs in a rear facing car seat?

There are many studies to actually support this claim, due to their leg position they may be more likely to break their legs if you were ever in an accident. However, I think every parent out there can agree with me on the fact that I’d prefer my child to have broken legs than a broken neck. Although there are studies to back up the fact that a child may be more likely to break their legs when being rear facing, there are ven more studies to back up the fact that a child is more likely to be severely injured or even killed when forward facing.

4. But my baby hates rear facing so I need to turn him forward facing ASAP.

Most babies hate cars. Fact. They are being restricted when they are used to roaming free and playing with their toys/ trashing your house. If your child has never faced forward then they don’t really know what they’re missing and I doubt they are crying or upset because they want to face forward; they just want to get out of the car seat. Instead, I would pack lots of toys to keep them occupied and assign someone to sit in the back with them to keep them occupied.

5. Isn’t it just a money making scam?

Nope. There is tons of research to prove that ERF is far more safe and the reason why these car seats are more expensive is because they go through extensive safety tests and are better made and most are made to last years. (Hence, extended rear facing.)

There are also more budgetable options available if you are struggling for cash. We are getting the Joie Stages for Freddie when he turns one which is usually around the £150 mark. We are asking all of his family who are planning to get him a present to put money towards his car seat instead. He has loads of toys and everything he needs so we see this as a better option.

6. But I wasn’t rear faced and I turned out fine…

I’m truly happy for you. Honestly, because thousands of children and babies didn’t. That is why it is such a hot topic nowadays. We have seen the ill affects of premature forward facing and that is why ERF is becoming more popular.

 

Will your children be rear facing for longer?

 

 

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Mozzarella, Olive and Parsley Snack Bites Ideal For Baby Led Weaning Or Finger Food Snacks For Toddlers And Babies (And Adults!)

I love making Freddie (and I!) yummy snacks and I’m always trying new things. I thought I’d share with you our latest invention.   What you’ll need: 2 sheets of filo pastry 1 egg 8 slices of mozzarella (or more … Continue reading