Britain’s Driest Nappy vs Britain’s Prettiest Nappy

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I’ve already written about my reasons for using cloth nappies – mainly the fact that I hate taking the bins out, and especially bins filled with festering baby poo, urgh!

So when I saw that Pampers were asking people to do the ‘Britain’s Driest Nappy’ challenge it got me thinking.

First, I came up with all the excuses for why ‘dry’ wasn’t the be all and end all – the waste argument of course; the cost savings when using reusables; the chemicals in disposable nappies; the fact that feeling damp helps babies potty train earlier, etc etc.

And then I realised that I actually have no idea how cloth nappies compare as far as keeping baby dry is concerned.

I know that we only get the occasional wee leak, usually when I’ve left the nappy on too long, and that despite C being a very heavy wetter we’ve found a nappy that copes perfectly well with being on for 13 hours overnight, whether she sleeps through as she’s finally begun to recently, or if she wakes for sometimes 2-3 feeds which means she wees more overnight.

And I know that we pretty much NEVER suffer the clothes-wrecking poosplosions that I remember only too well from our disposable days and see and hear other Mums talking about.

But how dry do they keep C’s little bum? Is the poor girl sodden the whole time that I’m blissfully cooing over the pretty prints and colours?

I thought I’d better put it to the test.

This isn’t about knocking people who choose to use disposable nappies by the way – whilst I’m a cloth nappy advocate I would never judge another mum’s choices and cloth nappies aren’t for everyone (incidentally, that’s why I help run a cloth nappy library which lets people try cloth nappies for themselves before committing to buying their own).

And I’m not in any way trying to knock Pampers either – they’re our nappy of choice when we do use disposables – yes although we mostly use cloth we do use disposables occasionally as well.

Rather, I was genuinely curious to see how the nappies I choose to use feel against C’s skin.

I picked out one of my favourite nappies (a Bumgenius Freetime, if you’re interested), a Pampers Baby Dry nappy that I had to hand, some water, tissue, and a terribly angled camera phone that beautifully accentuates my double chin.

Impressed? I was, and I have to confess a little relieved too! I was actually expecting a little bit of dampness to come through the fleece, so was surprised that the tissue was pretty much bone dry.

What I forgot to mention is that the fleece liner also makes it really easy to chuck poo down the toilet without having to touch it – but that’s got nothing to do with Britain’s Driest Nappy so it’s not really relevant anyway. It’s just usually one of the first things I get asked about when talking about cloth nappies!

I should add that the slight dampness from the Pampers nappy was really nothing to write home about, it was, in fairness, really very good at locking away the moisture.

I’m just pleased that I don’t have to rely on finding excuses to justify my choice to use cloth nappies, and can rest assured that C’s bum is as dry as it is pretty.

If you’re interested in trying cloth nappies you can do so cheaply, and in some cases for free, by getting in touch with your local cloth nappy library via the UK Cloth Nappy Library Network, or by searching on their map of UK Cloth Nappy Libraries.  Nappy Libraries offer advice on finding the right nappies for you, as well as hiring out kits so that you can try before you buy.

The things we forget

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Even when we keep a blog or diary, it’s amazing how many of the little things we forget as the kids get older.

I was reminded of this last night. We don’t often have a babysitter, but it was our wedding anniversary so we booked one of our ‘regular’ babysitters for a night out.

When I say ‘regular’, the last time she came to stay was over a year ago, long before C arrived on the scene (you can tell how often we get out..!).

Talking her through the bedtime routine she reminded me that last time she came G was going through a phase of insisting that she wore one sock to bed. Just the one, and it had to be on the right foot, if I remember correctly.

Needless to say, G no longer wears one sock to bed. But it did get me thinking of all the other little things that she grows up and out of, but I don’t really want to forget.

Like the fact that for about a year when she first learnt to talk bananas were known as ‘lurger-lurgers’.

And the fact that she calls own label Shreddies ‘owl treats’ or ‘superhero snacks’ based on the picture on the box (guess where we shop?!).

The way if I pretend to pick her up like a baby she shouts ‘I’m not a baby! Look! I’ve got long legs!”.

Or the way she would crawl around the house for hours if we’d let her, pretending to be a dog.

Yeah ok, so that last one gets a bit annoying after a while.

Anyhow, my point still stands. I love seeing my children growing up. But I don’t want to forget the little things that make us laugh and smile along the way.

C’s still developing her little personality. She’s already proving to be a little explorer, determined to pull on, open and attempt to climb into every thing she can find, despite not having learnt to crawl yet (although she’s trying very hard).

She hates being on her tummy, and will only tolerate being laid down for a short while – ever since she learnt to sit she wants to sit and watch, reach and grab at anything within a 3 foot radius.

She smiles and laughs at the sight of her big sister or daddy coming home from school or work, and stares fixedly at people she doesn’t yet know, taking everything in before she decides whether she’s going to smile at them or not.

And she certainly knows how to get what she wants, mostly by shouting and looking at you pointedly until you figure out what it is. The quote “she may be small, but she is fierce” seems rather apt for my littlest girl!

If you’re interested, we had a lovely night out for our anniversary, with all you can eat ribs and chicken at the Southern Eleven restaurant in Manchester. And we came home almost too full to sample the cake I’d made earlier in the day at G’s request, mostly so that she could decorate it in her usual inimitable style.

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Coincidentally this evening, the story of how the husband and I first met has been immortalised in a BBC Online news story. No, our anniversary isn’t that big news – it turns out the venue where we first met, The Cockpit in Leeds, has closed down.

Sad times all round, and an opportunity to reminisce over the little things that happened during our university days, that otherwise might be forgotten.

Earth Mother

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Growing up in the countryside I never thought I’d ever be a city girl, so I’m still kind of surprised that I’ve spent most of my adult life in cities and, god forbid, am bringing my children up in the suburbs surrounded by houses and cars, rather than by animals and fields.

Sadly I’ve realised that sacrificing the view of cows from my kitchen window is better than sacrificing hours of my time every day commuting.

But living in the suburbs shouldn’t and doesn’t stop us from getting out in the countryside and going a bit earth mother every so often.

Every summer since I met my husband I’ve suggested going strawberry picking. We’ve never actually made it, so it’s become a bit of a running joke between us. And once again this year we missed strawberry picking season, but at a loose end this weekend we decided to make a trip out to Kenyon Hall Farm near Wigan, where they have a year-round supply of pick your own fruit and veg, a playground, farm shop and of course a cafe.

Well, we can’t be leaving all the urban comforts behind now, can we?

Whilst G excitedly ran up and down the rows of peas, sweetcorn and blackberries, C took it all in from her vantage point up on my back – our trusty woven wrap being far more useful in this case than a pram.

We came home happy, with a slight pink tinge from the late sunmer sun, three corn on the cob, a punnet full of garden peas, and a rather sad handful of blackberries – the blackberry bushes having apparently been stripped by visitors earlier in the day.

After teaching G how to shell peas (another ‘earth mother’ moment right there), they made it into that evening’s Sunday roast, with the rest of our haul saved for another day.

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At 8 and a half months old, C is perfecting her pincer grip, and this coupled with inheriting her big sister’s love of food meant she made short work of dinner, peas included.

I had a fleeting realisation when I looked back at the photos that if we go again next summer it’ll be with with not one but two children running up and down the rows.

Time really does fly, doesn’t it?

In her Mummy’s foot (or hoof) prints?

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Confession time. I was one of those girls who was obsessed with horses when I was younger. I mean, really obsessed. To the extent that on one non-uniform day at primary school I actually insisted on wearing my jodhpurs and riding gear.

Oh, the shame.

I spent what felt like years helping out ‘work for rides’ at a local stables, and at the top of every birthday and Christmas list was ‘pony, saddle, bridle’.

Every time, without fail.

Even falling off and concussing myself didn’t put me off. It’s no wonder that eventually my parents relented, and thanks to a school friend who lived on a farm I was finally able to have my own horse. From then on every penny I earned doing paper rounds and all sorts went into an old Hamlet Cigar tin (feels a bit inappropriate these days?!) to pay towards keeping her. Despite adding a broken leg to the injury list I have very fond memories of my farm based horsey youth.

Most stables take children for lessons from the age of 4, but knowing full well quite how expensive horse riding can get I’ve been putting off taking G for lessons. Secretly however I was just waiting for the day I could take her on her first pony ride. I decided that this summer would be the time, and so last weekend we headed over to Reddish Vale Farm for her first pony riding experience, and – hitting two birds with one stone – C’s first time meeting a horse.

I’d never been to Reddish Vale Farm before but had heard good things about it, and liked their approach, where they encourage children to go along for short £2 pony rides on a Sunday afternoon before taking the plunge into ‘proper’ walkouts and eventually lessons.

And the farm made for a great day out too – for £1.50 on too if the entrance fee we got a bucket of carrots which G could take to feed the animals – cows, pigs, donkeys, alpaca, llama, an escapee goat roaming the farmyard and of course C’s first horsey experience, the very lovely – and very large – Shire horse called Kylie.

The pony rides are clearly popular as families started queuing up well before the advertised time. We dutifully took our place in the queue and waited our turn as G got more and more excited and C indulged in her latest ‘hobby’ of staring at people stood close by!

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G took the pony ride in her stride and enjoyed every minute. Coupled with a yummy lunch in the cafe, a play on the bouncy castle and playground, and finishing off with the obligatory ice cream, it’s no wonder that G now claims to enjoy horse riding as much as her mother.

With G’s 5th (5th!!) birthday coming up, I wonder how long it will be before I have to start fending off the requests for ‘pony, saddle, bridle’?

Sleeping like a baby

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Unlike her big sister, who could sleep for England, sleeping has never been one of C’s strong points. In fact it’s not uncommon for us (or more precisely me) to be up every hour or so through a good chunk of the night.

Which makes days like today, which happens to be C’s 8 month ‘birthday’, even more surprising.

Apart from a feed at 11pm, C has been fast asleep since about 830 last night.

That’s 13 hours!!!

13 HOURS!

Just imagine how much sleeping I could’ve got done in that time! (Yeah I know, 13 HOURS!).

Of course it didn’t quite work out that way, and we got rudely awoken at 630am by the aforementioned big sister, who decided today was the day to role swap.

But I’m not complaining, no not me! Hell, I even managed to write this blog post, which is more than I’ve managed for weeks!

Today is a good day.

A proud Mummy post (sorry!)

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Today is G’s last day at nursery school before she moves up into reception in September. She’s had a fabulous time this year and has really enjoyed nursery, where she’s made lots of wonderful friends, but is also really looking forward to moving on to reception class.

She’s also got so much out of nursery school – and I don’t mean academically (she’s far too young to be worrying about that!). My shy little girl who kept quiet if there were lots of other children around has blossomed into a girl who plays with everyone in the class and can’t walk across the school playground without some child she’s befriended shouting her name.

I feel privileged to have been able to see all this too – if I had been working this past 6 months or so I wouldn’t have been able to see how she interacts with other children or watched her develop. I only now think I understand what people say about being a Mummy being one of the – if not the – most rewarding job going. I only hope this confidence and friendliness lasts until she grows up – kids can be mean to each other as they get older after all.

This isn’t meant as a mummy brag post but you’ve got to forgive a mama a little proudness… I found out yesterday that at a school assembly for their departing head teacher, G went up in front of the whole school to present the teacher with a book of pictures the children had done for her. Apparently the teacher offered to go up with her but she said she didn’t need her to.

Where has that shy child gone?!

I’m sure I’ll be feeling rather more frazzled and less warm and fuzzy once I’ve got through 5 whole weeks of entertaining both kids in the summer holidays.

But at least I seem to have picked the right summer to be off as far as the weather is concerned.

Camping out

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We’re doing lots of little holidays this year. It’s nice being able to spread out the anticipation and the fun, and the glorious weather we’ve been having makes it ok that they’re all in the UK.

Last week we went on C’s first camping trip. G is already a fan of camping, and of course knows all about it thanks to Peppa Pig (who says kids don’t learn anything from TV!). And I have to admit, although I never thought I’d say it, I’m a convert. You won’t find a hotel where the kids can run off and make friends to play with before you’ve even unpacked your bags.

Last weekend was slightly different in that we weren’t on an official campsite. A very good friend of mine had organised a wakeboarding weekend in Oxford – a return in fact to the site of her hen do which I helped organise a few years back. We’d arranged to camp overnight at the water sports centre which was perfect.

Sadly (?) there are no pictures of me attempting to wakeboard – a dodgy shoulder put paid to those plans. But G was thrilled to go on her first speedboat ride, then surprised us all braving the lake for a swim afterwards.

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In the meantime, C cooed, gurgled and laughed away in her big sister’s play tent (which made for a handy sunshade). She’s pretty good at sitting up on her own these days, although she’s still showing no interest on being on her tummy, rolling or crawling. I like to think she’s just being lazy. She’s certainly learnt how to get what she wants – mostly by staring and ‘shouting’ at you until you pass it to her.

C even got to join in a bit with the evening BBQ before both kids headed off to bed in the tent. Of course it was far too exciting to think about actually going to sleep so we all ended up tucked up together until I realised that I was the only one awake and made my escape.

All three (yes three – it seems the big kid was also worn out!) slept pretty soundly until the morning, with a brief and well timed wake up from Daddy in order to catch the end of the football, huddled under the sleeping bag with the sound switched off.

We decided against joining in with the early morning open water swim, and instead set about packing up for the trip home. But somehow despite being one of the first to start packing up, by the time we were loaded up everyone else had finished and were already heading off.

It seems despite only being away for one night, we haven’t learnt how to pack light.

Her first Whit Friday

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Back when G was small we lived in Saddleworth, a collection of villages pretty much atop the Pennines between Manchester and Leeds. It’s a lovely place, but unfortunately the practicality of commuting and getting home in time to pick up children meant we moved to the suburbs.

We still love to join in with the Saddleworth traditions though, and there’s none bigger, better, and quite literally brassier than the annual Whit Friday brass band contests.

Easily the highest profile event in the Saddleworth calendar, the mornings are taken up by the traditional whit walks to Uppermill, with each group of villagers led by their own brass band. In the afternoons and late into the evening each village puts on their own competition, and bands travel from miles around to compete in as many as they can.

G has been to Whit Friday in Dobcross every year since she was born, and this year was C’s first time experiencing it. As you can see from the picture she was (as per usual) pretty nonplussed by the whole thing, more interested in playing with her toy than watching the rather good Fairey Band walking out behind her (they came second at Dobcross, beaten by Black Dyke who also won the overall contest, and who C also had the pleasure of watching, er, mostly ignoring).

C did, however, rather enjoy the picnic we took along with us. Yes, despite my trepidation we’ve started weaning and had no issues so far!

Being an old hand at these events, G was straight in to grab a spot on the grass right next to the band, and happily danced, sang, and ate (yep, she enjoyed the picnic too!) through the bands.

There’s only so many times you can listen to Knight Templar however – and I fully expect to be shot down by the real brass band enthusiasts for saying that – so we made a move up to the local pub where the bands typically play more modern tunes as they march down from the band club for their turn. Here C took a much needed nap (eating is tiring work, you know), and G dragged first Daddy, and then Mummy up and down the marching stretch to follow each band down in turn. Highlights included Tartan Brass (“Look! They’re from where Daddy’s from! And they wear that thing Daddy wears!”) and perhaps the furthest travelled band, Neo Brass Band from Japan.

Heading home with two tired kids in the back, I idly wondered how often we’d be able to keep going to Whit Friday in Saddleworth. And as G headed off to bed she turned and said “can I take my toy trumpet next time?”.

Perhaps what I should have been wondering was whether we’ll ever have to swap the civility of sitting on the grass at Dobcross with a picnic for chasing band buses around the villages to cheer on a trumpeting daughter or two?

I think I could live with that.

What To Do If You Think Your Baby Has Tongue Tie

Having never even heard of tongue tie before C was born, I’m astounded at how many people are struggling with the effects of it.

Some might say it’s the latest ‘fad’ to diagnose tongue tie, but given the UK’s appalling breastfeeding success rate and the fact that the first response to feeding problems from health professionals seems to be to push babies onto formula (ironic given the focus on breast is best), it really isn’t surprising that many people never got as far as a diagnosis.

But this isn’t supposed to be a tongue tie rant. Instead I thought it worthwhile to share what I’ve learnt through our tongue tie journey and that of those I’ve spoken with in thEme way. Some is what I did, and some is what I would do next time, knowing what I know now.

Key for me is that the quicker tongue tie is identified and treated, the less impact it is likely to have on mum and baby alike.

So, if you think your baby might have tongue tie, what should you do?

1: Find an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).

Breastfeeding support groups, midwives and health visitors are great if you need some emotional support with breastfeeding or some pointers on technique, but anything beyond that will definitely benefit from a fully trained professional eye.

Your health visitor or children’s centre might be able to direct you to the most senior lactation consultant in your area, or you can find a local one on the Lactation Consultants of Great Britain website.

A lactation consultant can tell you if your baby does have tongue tie or not, and observe you feeding to identify any problems with technique etc. And once you’re seeing one you can use that fact to ward off any unwanted pressure from other well meaning healthcare professionals (see 3 below).

2: Swot Up

This is one occasion when consulting ‘Dr Google’ is highly recommended. Some starters include:

NCT overview of tongue tie

The Leaky Boob

3: Stand Your Ground

If you haven’t already noticed, let me let you into a little secret. Health care professionals don’t know the right answer. Go to three health care professionals with the same issue, and you’ll come back with (at least) 6 different answers.

It’s not that they’re trying to confuse you or don’t know their stuff, it’s just that there often isn’t a single right answer. And most of the health care professionals we see have quite a wide skillset, which means that whilst they have knowledge of lots of different potential problems you might face, they can’t possibly know individual subjects in great detail – hence why as above, if you’ve got a breastfeeding issue I would always go to a breastfeeding expert.

Don’t be pushed or bullied into doing anything that you don’t want to do – which includes formula top ups, timed feeding schedules, medications, early weaning, etc etc. Read up on your subject, keep the evidence to hand, and don’t be pushed around.

If your baby has tongue tie and you want it released, there’s a good chance you will have to push for it, so stand your ground here too. Get a referral as soon as you can. Matter tongue tie release babies have to relearn how to latch and feed. Time is of the essence and sadly referrals on the NHS take time, sometimes a long time as there are relatively few practitioners who release tongue ties despite it being a very simple procedure.

4: If you can, go private

Not everyone can do this, but going private can be a huge advantage in terms of getting tongue the dealt with quickly. We got an appointment the day after diagnosis!

The cost seems to be around £250. Call your local private hospital (eg Spire) and ask who performs tongue tie release or frenulectomy.

If you can, and if your or your partner’s work offer it, get your baby added to your private healthcare cover as soon as possible after baby is born. Many policies won’t cover pre-existing conditions so waiting until there’s a problem could be too late. Our BUPA policy covered our appointments and meant we didn’t have to wait.

Our Favourite Sunny Day Trip – Hathersage Outdoor Swimming Pool

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Blimey it’s been a while since I last blogged – we’ve been pretty busy since our holiday and I just don’t seem to have found time! So I’m playing catch up here.

It was on our way home from our holiday in Sherwood Pines that we decided to make the most of the sunny weather and stop off at one of our favourite sunny day trips – Hathersage Swimming Pool.

Nestled away in the Peak District, and handily located off the Snake Pass which runs between Sheffield and Manchester, Hathersage pool is a 1930s heated outdoor pool that makes a fabulous spot to visit. We’ve been quite a few times with G when she was growing up, so it was a great place to take C for only her second ever swimming trip.

Before swimming, however, came lunch. And our favourite option in the area is the nearby David Mellor Cutlery Museum. Yep, you read that right, a cutlery museum.

Technically I think it’s the David Mellor Visitor Centre and Design Museum, but ‘cutlery museum’ is a bit more attention grabbing, in a ‘what did you say’ way, don’t you think?

I have to be honest here, I’ve never looked round the museum, I just go for the yummy food in the cafe, and a browse around the too-tempting fancy kitchen shop.
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From the cafe I have learnt, however, that alongside cutlery David Mellor is responsible for the humble yet ubiquitous traffic light, as there’s one in the middle of the cafe where G still delights in pressing the crossing button over and over again. Apparently his achievements included recognising that you need less electricity to run traffic lights at night when it’s dark, as they don’t need to shine as brightly. It’s one of those things that makes total sense when someone says it, but you would probably never have thought of yourself.

So lunch it was, before we headed back to the pool for the afternoon swimming session. On a sunny weekend you have to get there well in advance to join the queue that snakes down through the car park, but being a Friday it wasn’t too bad. We were soon up the stairs and in, ready to nab a coveted table on the grassy section between the changing rooms and the pool.

Despite only having been swimming once before I think C has the makings of a bit of a water baby. She watches her sister’s swimming lessons intently every week,and loves bath time, so I really need to sign up for some baby lessons for her. As it is we remembered enough of the baby swimming lessons that we did with G to play a few games, sing a few songs and brave a quick go at underwater swimming (babies have a dive reflex meaning they hold their breath when submerged).

It wasn’t long before she’d had enough though, and I got to soak up the atmosphere from the side as G splashed and swam with Daddy. Until of course G remembered the promise of post swimming ice cream from the pool cafe!

We were grateful for having made the stop off as we crawled our way back to Manchester through heavy traffic.

But it was a lovely end to a lovely holiday, and a place we’ll hopefully be visiting more often through the summer months.