Archive for category Baby
These French slippers (they are and have been made in France since 1947) are my favourite and they work for the whole family: sizes go from European 18/US 3/UK 2 (babies of 6-12 months) to European 47/US 13/UK 12! I started using them 4 years ago, so I have now a good feel of how durable they are. Up until now I was ordering them directly from their French website but I just spotted a first UK internet distributor called Skin&Bliss.com.
If you want to see the whole range it is best to go directly on the Collegien website. They have an incredible choice and have always some items on sale. If you are buying for the whole family or friends, even adding on the Euro 6.95 shipment charge to the UK, you might end up with a better choice and price than a UK distributor. Shipment charges are zero for orders above Euro 100.
What I like about them:
1) Comfortable. The concept is simple: a soft sock with attached a breathable, durable, non slip sole. I am not sure how the sole is built but one thing is sure: they are very comfortable for adults and children.
2) Natural fabrics. 80+% of the sock material is a natural fabric (mostly cotton but sometimes also wool and silk). The rest is an elastic blend to make them strechable.
3) Non-slip. Unlike the leather ones that I started using for my babies when they were 6 months old, these don’t become shiny and slippery with use. They have some rubbery spikes that really make a difference. For toddlers this is key because the last thing you want is seeing them sliding around the house.
4) Extra soft soles, very flexible, for maximum comfort. The soles are very flexible, you can test this by rolling the slipper onto itself.
5) The non-slip characteristic does not come at the expense of breathability. The soles are perforated.
6) 100% machine washable at 30°C. This is absolutely key for me. No cheesy smells and no problem if a bit of food falls on them.
7) Lots of sizes to fit the whole family. For most styles the sizes go from European 18 to European 47.
8) Long lasting. They last more than other slippers for two reasons: because they are made with high quality materials and because, if you have growing children, because each pair will cover two sizes (18-19, 20-21 etc).
9) Many, lovely designs! They make a very good and useful gift!
The company advises that if your size is 39, you should take 40/41. If your size is 38 or 38 1/2, take size 38/39. This is valid for all sizes.
I am a big believer in sleeping bags for babies and young toddlers. I will cover the reasons behind my views another time. If you are in the process of hunting for a good sleeping bag, and your average room temperature is 17-30 degrees Celsius (63-86 Fahrenheit), you should look into Bambino Merino’s Sleeping Bags. I have just put to bed my youngest child and while I was zipping up the sleeping bag I thought I should write a post on them. They are just amazing!
Bambino Merino’s sleeping bags are 100% made of New Zeland’s natural Merino wool. Merino is thought to be the oldest sheep breed in the world and most importantly, its wool has very unique properties that make it the fabric of choice for example, for high-end, performance athletic wear (hiking, running etc). These same properties are also key for the wellbeing of your baby/toddler while sleeping: a) Merino wool helps regulating the body’s temperature; it provides warmth, without overheating the wearer and draws sweat away from the skin, b) Merino wool absorbs water and, unlike cotton, retains warmth when wet, c) Merino wool contains lanolin, which has antibacterial properties and tends to require less washing, d) Merino is one of the softest types of wool available and is particularly warm relatively to its weight so your child will be super comfortable. The maker says it is suitable even for children with mild eczema. I have not verified this.
What I like about it:
1) Made out of 100% Merino wool – this is great for the reasons just mentioned above.
2) If your room temperature fluctuates between 17 and 30 degrees Centigrade (63-86 Fahrenheit), the Bambino Merino sleeping bag can be used all year around. The bag comes with a useful table that advises the right layering (basically what to wear beneath) for different room temperatures (see below). This means that if you live in a country with a temperate climate you won’t need to buy different sleeping bags with different TOGs: you will just layer up or down the same Merino Bag.
3) Bambino Merino’s bag sizes are designed to last more than the usual 6 months. The ‘baby size bag’ (about 92 cm long) will last from 2 months to about two years: there are two poppers at the armholes that can be closed to adjust the bag to younger babies. The ‘toddler size’ (about 110 cm long) will last from two years to four years.
4) A full length zip and the shoulder poppers allow the ‘baby size’ sleeping bag to be opened flat for easier night time nappy changes. The ‘toddler size’ has an all round zip that really helps with very wriggly toddlers.
5) Easy to care for: machine washable at 30 degrees C with wool detergent.
6) Extremely durable. I bought my sleeping bags more than 4 years ago and after daily, heavy use, they look still like new.
7) Thoughtful design details: fabric labels are sowed inside seams rather than behind the neck which is more comfortable for the baby, and soft zip covers keep the zip ends away from baby’s skin and makes it more difficult for little fingers to undo the zip.
1) Price: the ‘baby size’ retails at GBP 50.00-60.00 for one bag – not cheap but worth it if you consider that you will use them for much longer than the traditional sleeping bags.
2) A minor issue in my view, the only design available is stripes but you can choose the colour of the stripes: Sage (a sort of grey green), Petal (light pink), Sand (beige), Sky (light blue) and Ruby (red/blue).
Other points of interest
1) If you are trying to compare with the usual TOG measurements you might find useful to know that the Bambino Merino Sleeping Bags are minimum 0.8 TOG. A number of other factors will determine the actual tog value of the bag among which the layers of clothing worn beneath the bag. Please see below a table containing various room temperatures and the suggested layers beneath the Merino sleeping bag:
17 – 19°c A long sleeve merino bodysuit or vest + a long sleeve merino sleepsuit or pyjamas
20 – 23°c A short sleeve merino or cotton bodysuit or vest + a long sleeve merino or cotton sleepsuit or pyjamas
24 – 26°c A short sleeve merino or cotton bodysuit or vest only
27 – 30°c A short sleeve cotton bodysuit or vest or just a nappy on its own
2) Recently Bambino Merino has come out with 2 new versions: a “Travel” sleeping bag that has a slot at the front and the rear for a car seat or pram harness and a “Winter Weight Travel Sleep Bag” that has the slots for the harness and has a minimum TOG of 2 which is suitable for colder climates.
3) Baby sleeping bags should never be used with a quilt or duvet. Although its is common sense it is always good to be reminded.
4) You can read more about the qualities of Merino wool here.
Melobaby is a large wallet made of a strong, washable, fabric designed to hold neatly and functionally a couple of nappies, nappy change cream, 1 body and a slim travel pack of baby wipes. The wallet has 4 pockets and a mesh zipped pocket. The wallet folds out to a very soft, fleecy change mat attached to the wallet via magnets. The magnet system is a very good idea because 1) it keeps in place the mat but allows you to easily detach it when you need to wash it, and 2) allows you to clip the mat to elongate the changing surface for when your baby grows. This point will be clearer if you watch the demo by clicking on the link below. Each Melobaby comes in a clear, sturdy plastic transparent bag (which can be used to keep spare clothes) and a small zebra light plastic pouch. It makes a very good gift for new and not so new mothers.
Nice to have but do I need one?
Having using it intensively for two years I think Melobaby is a must have. It is so easy to use in your favourite handbag for short trips instead of taking your (larger and heavier) nappy bag. I also use it inside my usual diaper bag just to have things tidy and easy to find. I love it.
With a retail price between GBP 30 and GBP 35, Melobaby might seem quite expensive for what it is but the quality is excellent and so is the durability. It comes in several colours.
What I like about it
1. Good size (3 x 26 x 18.5 cm): small enough to fit in a normal handbag or backpack and big enough for a “small trip out” on its own,
2. Easy to fold/unfold even with one hand,
3. Good quality, durable, nicely designed. I used it heavily for almost 2 years and it looks brand new,
4. Easy to clean and does not stain (I was surprised to discover how many changing mats get badly stained with pooh)
5. Great solution for daddies on duty, they won’t need to carry a large nappy bag,
6. The changing mat is exceptionally soft and machine washable: good for both baby and mummy.
1. I have not managed to fit more than 2 nappies, travel wipes and a nappy cream and one body which might be too little if you are out and about for several hours with a newborn. I just try to take a few extra nappies and put them at the bottom of my bag just in case.
2. The small zebra plastic pouch Melobaby comes with is useless: very fragile. In my case the zip was broken after a few uses. This does not compromise the main functionality of the wallet though.
You can wash the mat and the wallet in a washing machine at 30/40 degrees but neither of them should be put in a dryer as it will deactivate the magnets.
Take a look at the demo by the product designer and company founder.
If you are wondering what happened to workingmuminlondon and why the posts have not been so frequent recently the answer is: scarlet fever, tonsillitis and chickenpox. Yes, we had them all, in a row! Not exactly a relaxing summer.
Here below you will find all the things I wish I knew before we started. I will focus on chickenpox because a) number 2 got it really bad so I ended up doing a lot of research b) there might be steps you can take to limit its severity.
What is it
Chickenpox, also known as varicella, is a very contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It is spread easily through the air (when infected people sneeze or cough) and through direct contact with the infected blisters. Just being in a room with someone who has the disease can be enough to get infected BUT less than 5 hours exposure is not likely to result in an infection while a very prolonged exposure of several days can result in a more severe case (typical in the case of siblings). Chickenpox is contagious from 1 to 2 days before the appearance of the rash until all blisters have formed scabs (or lesions fade away if no blisters develop). If you or your child are still contagious it is best if you can stay at home or at least avoid busy places (trains, buses, planes, supermarkets, shops). Infecting someone ‘at risk’ (see below) can have terrible consequences.
And one last point: the scabs are not contagious.
Symptoms appear between 7 and 21 days after exposure to the varicella-zoster virus. They are:
1) fever – 38 up to 40 centigrades for up to 4 days
2) loss of appetite and general malaise
3) pink rash that becomes ‘blistered’ with 24/48 hours. The blisters are initially small, then fill up with a clear fluid that gradually becomes cloudy and then scabs over. The rash generally starts on chest and face but rapidly spreads over the body (even into mouth, ears, eye lids) for 2 to 5 days. Note that in some cases, 7 days after the first rash, a ‘second wave’ – a brand new rash and new blisters – can develop. The extent of the rash and size of the blisters varies from individual to individual (and seems to be related to the length of exposure to the virus). Some people may only have a handful of small spots while others will be literally covered from head to toe (250-500 blisters) with quite large vesicles (1-1.5 cm diameter). Once formed, the crusts will completely fall off in 1 to 6 weeks.
4) Redness around the blisters/vesicles may suggest a bacterial infection, probably introduced by scratching. This needs to be monitored carefully and might be treated with antibiotics.
Who is ‘at risk’
The risk of serious complications is higher for:
1) adults (can develop lung problems, pneumonia),
2) pregnant women (during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy there is a serious risk of birth defects) and
3) babies below 4 months.
4) For children it is not usually dangerous but in around 20% of cases a bacterial infection of the vesicles develops. This needs to be treated with antibiotics as soon as possible. If not treated can even lead to death in as little as a few days.
Prevention by vaccination – for boys and adults a must!
1) The chickenpox vaccination does not guarantee life immunity to the virus but reduces the risk of contagion and reduces the severity of the illness. I read that in clinical trials two doses of vaccine (in general one at 12-15 months and one at 4-6 years of age) were 99% effective in preventing the disease in children.
So if you have boys it is definitely worth getting them vaccinated. If you have girls it is less of a no brainer (they can still catch it when pregnant).
2) For adults and children of 13 and above it is also recommended to give two doses of the chickenpox vaccine, administered 4-8 weeks apart.
3) The varicella vaccine is safe. It has been around since 1995. The most common side effects are mild pain and redness at the injection site. In the USA chickenpox vaccination is done routinely.
Best treatment in case of infection
1) drink plenty (milk and water)
2) cut short your baby’s nails (or use mitts on the hands) to reduce the risk of bacterial infection of the vesicles. You can also dress your child in loose cotton clothing to prevent further irritation.
3) in case you notice some redness/swelling around the blisters/vesicles try to treat the area with some Chlorhexidine Gluconate. This is a pink liquid that prevents bacterial infections. It is not easy to find but some Boots stock it.
4) take paracetamol to ease high temperature (fever), headaches, and pains. Aspirin and ibuprofen should be avoided with chickenpox.
5) take anti-histamines (such as Zirtek, Piriton). Although they have limited effect on itchy skin conditions they cause drowsiness and help the child sleep better.
6) if your case looks right away very severe ask your doctor if aciclovir might be advisable. Antiviral pills such as aciclovir (Zovirax) can limit the severity of chickenpox by stopping the virus from multiplying. Adults, teenagers over the age of 14 and sometimes young children that were heavily exposed to the virus (young siblings of an infected child) may be advised to take an antiviral medicine. Note it can only be started within 24 hours of the rash first developing. My doctor advised aciclovir to my number two.
7) Try soothing creams (general emollients) on the spots to ease itching. Unfortunately there is not one product recognised to universally work but searching around I came across a few that you might want to try:
-Chickweed creams/ointments. These can help soothing the itchy and crusty skin. We used under the suggestion of a dear friend ‘Chickweed, Neem, Tamanu, Nettle and Vitamin E Cream’ by the Organic Pharmacy, pictured above but there are plenty more around.
-Calamine lotion, although widely used in the UK my doctor said it can have a drying effect on the skin that may exacerbate the condition and actually cause further itching and scarring.
-ViraSoothe Chickenpox Relief Cooling Gel this should relieve the itchiness without any drying effect on the skin but it did not seem to help my daughter very much.
-Some friends in Italy used happily Talco Mentolato but is difficult to find in the UK and some doctors are against it (again it can have drying effects).
8) Avoid long baths and soaking of the blisters that can fall off and delay the healing process.
What is your favourite chickenpox remedy? If you found something amazing please comment on this post. I will try to amend it over time if I discover anything else of value. I hope it helps!
Sources: among others National Foundation for Infectious Diseases Web site: http://www.nfid.org (USA).
If you are looking for a breakfast alternative for the whole family that is tasty, quick and healthy, you might like to try Panmonviso Rusks. These rusks (toasted, slightly sweet, wheat bread) are a traditional, good quality, italian bakery product (‘fette biscottate’). By chance, I discovered that they are now available in the UK under several white labels brands. Tesco, Asda and Morrison call them ‘French Toast’. I have only bought the Tesco ones but I understand that also Asda and Morrison have the same product made by the high quality Italian company Panmonviso.
What I like about them:
1) Light: no eggs, low in fat, sugars and salt (37 kcal per toast; 5g of saturated fat, 0.4g of salt and 18g of sugar per 100g). No artificial colours/flavours. Compares well with a lot of cereals and baby products such as the Organix Goodies or Organix Finger Foods.
2) Suitable for sweet or savoury toppings.
3) Compact and easy to spread: with cream cheese, butter, jam, honey or whatever takes your fantasy.
4) If soaked in milk, they soften quickly and work well for young children without a full set of teeth.
5) Perfect alternative to biscuits for dipping in milk or cappuccino.
6) Nice and crunchy for teething children from 10/12 months onwards.
7) Long expiry date, and so perfect to keep at home for when you run out of bread.
8) Work well as an afternoon snack. If you are on the go, remember to store store them in a plastic container or they might distribute crumbs everywhere.
9) Very good value: GBP 1.30 for 200 gr.
I have not seen an organic version.
If you are about to start weaning your baby, take a look at the Vital Baby Soft Tip Weaning Spoons.
They are the best I have tried: well-designed, good quality, BPA-free baby spoons that you can use from the first weaning efforts to the ‘self-feeding phase’. They exist in 3 colours: blue, pink and yellow/orange. They retail at GBP 3.45 for 5 spoons.
What I like about them:
1) The tip is soft and flexible. For me this is key when you are weaning as: a) it won’t hurt the teething gums of your baby, b) children love chewing on it, c) you can use it to keep your baby’s face clean while feeding, d) it will help you to scrape every last bit out of the bowl and mixer, and e) your baby can play and try self-feeding without the risk of hurting himself.
2) Well-proportioned handle: long enough to reach the bottom of a baby jar but not too long so that your child can handle the spoon easily and start self-feeding with it. The spoons that have very long handles (such as the Tommee Tippee Basic, on the extreme right in the photo above, which has a total length of 16cm) are good for mothers, but are more difficult for the child to self-feed with. The total spoon length of the Vital Baby is 13cm. A 3 cm difference is relevant for the manoeuvrability of the spoon in the hands of a baby.
3) Thin and elongated tip: good shape for feeding little mouths. Note that the Tommee Tippee Explora Weaning Spoons (light green in the photo above) and the new Tommee Tippee Soft Tip Weaning Spoons (also called Explora) have too big and to deep of a tip for the first months of weaning.
There are also ‘soft finger locators’ on the handles, which are meant to help the baby to learn how to hold a spoon, but I am not sure they make a difference.
1) The tip is slightly longer than some other first stage ‘weaning’ spoons on the market. As a result some food can remain on the top of the tip in the first few weeks of feeding. It did not bother me. I just used the front half of the tip.
2) Not “heat sensing” (i.e. changing colour when the food/spoon are too hot for baby’s mouth), although I have not found a spoon that is as good as the Vital Baby that has a good heat sensing system.
3) A slightly longer handle would make it more comfortable for mums and still fine to use for the baby.
Good to know:
1) All light-coloured soft-tipped spoons on the market, if in contact with carrot or tomato puree, will remain stained. If it bothers you, choose a darker colour.
2) Tommee Tippee used to make the best Soft Tip Weaning Spoon on the market (the second spoon from the right in the photo above). It had a slightly longer handle (total length 15cm), a smaller and less deep tip than the Vital Baby and it existed in a brilliant heat sensitive version as well. Unfortunately they stopped making it. I have just noticed though you can still buy them on Ebay. The new ones are not as good. I prefer the Vital Baby.
Although I survived my first daughter without one, I think a baby formula dispenser is a very good investment. Especially if you choose to bottle feed. You will love it any time you will be away from home, needing your formula pre-measured and ready to go. It will be good also for the night feeds. It will make preparing the bottle easier and will avoid getting the counting wrong! Now that I have one I cannot live without it.
Out of the many available on the market I chose Brother Max Slimline Milk Powder Dispenser. At about GBP 6 it is not the cheapest, but it is well designed and durable.
What I like about it:
1) Designed to be emptied by turning on its side (not upside down) which helps avoid leaving powder behind (but does not solve the problem completely).
2) The spout is longer than most on the market, so it goes right into the bottle and thus avoids spilling.
3) The spout cover can be locked away so that it doesn’t get in the way.
4) Each dose remains in its own compartment. This is absolutely key!
5) Has 3 separate compartments for 3 feeds. This is quite standard on the market. What you want to check is the size of each compartment. In the case of Brother Max you can fit 7 scoops of formula comfortably (to prepare 210ml/7 fl pz of milk). Please note that fitting 8 scoops of formula will be difficult. Consider this if your baby is a big eater.
6) Comes with a dedicated funnel that helps filling without spills.
7) Compact. Only around 10 cm in diameter and 4.5cm deep.
8) Dishwasher proof and BpA-free, Phthalate-free, PVC-free.
1) The lid is difficult to clean because of the narrow grooves. I use a baby bottle brush and it comes out perfect. You have just to make sure it is completely dry before filling it.
2) Can only be ‘cold’ sterilised.
1) Turn the spout so that it isn’t in line with a hole when not in use otherwise the powder will go in to the spout and you risk losing some when you open it up to pour in to the bottle.
Baby and Toddler Sleep Problems: ‘Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child’ by Dr Marc Weissbluth, the book that changed my life!
I shall start by saying that not only is every child different, but every parent has different views and convictions that a book is unlikely to change. Plus solving toddlers’ sleep problems is much harder than preventing them as it demands a very consistent approach that not all parents are willing/capable to implement. So will this book work for you? I hope so. It helped Disorientata and since she has kindly mentioned Dr Weissbluth and Whatsbestfor in her blog, I have written here a bit more about it.
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr Marc Weissbluth was first recommended to me by two of my good girlfriends (Eva and Stephanie, I will be always very grateful!). After 12 weeks of ‘not sleeping’ I felt exhausted and unhappy. My first baby had been very colicky right from the day we came home from the hospital. I have always been a 7-8-hours-a-night person so, with an average night of about 3-4 hours of interrupted sleep, I was not in good shape. I became more and more determined to find a solution. I had heard of many children that don’t sleep till they are 5/6 years old and that idea really scared me. My friends said Dr Weissbluth’s philosophy worked even with colicky babies, so I tried. I have to say It worked for both of my children, even if they had very different issues.
Why This Book Is Different
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child was first published in 1999 and has been a bestseller for years in the USA. The author is the founder of the Sleep Disorders Centre at Chicago’s Children’s Memorial Hospital, is a Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the Northwestern University School of Medicine, a pediatrician and sleep researcher with 30 years’ experience.
With hundreds of sleep books on the market, this is different because it is based on clinical research. The material presented is not ‘just an opinion’ but is accompanied by a long list of references and citations, which I find very reassuring. The book is divided into three parts. Part I is about why sleep is so important, what constitutes a healthy sleep pattern and typical sleep problems and solutions. Part II is about the sleep problems that may arise within different age ranges – this covers from age zero to adolescence. Part III deals with special sleeps problems (night terrors, nightmares, sleepwalking for example).
What He Says (but there is much more!)
1) Not addressing and fixing a baby’s sleeping problem can cause a number of serious issues in later life.
2) Baby’s sleeping problems do not go away on their own. Studies show that sleep behaviours developed in infancy tend to carry over to toddler-hood, childhood, adolescence and adulthood.
3) Healthy sleep habits do not develop automatically and, most interestingly, parents can help or damage the development of healthy sleep habits! Read the rest of this entry »