Getting ready for baby #2

You probably were wondering about my silence during the last few months… In fact, I have been going through a pretty difficult pregnancy, marked by daily episodes of extreme vomiting that have lasted for almost 7 months.

Even though the vomiting has not completely settled, I certainly feel much better now that I am well into month #8 of my pregnancy… And that is why at last I have been able to come back to my blogger activity!

Not having been able to do much physical activity for months due to my vomiting, I began preparing for baby #2 rather late. It didn’t really bother me because I guessed being baby #2 I wouldn’t need to buy much… But when I began preparing, I realized the list would be a little longer than planned. First, because of my daughter, since she was a summer baby, as opposed to my baby boy, and she’s still sleeping in her cot and uses a different pram from the one she used as a baby. Second, because this time around I am expecting a boy.

Let me share with you my baby #2 (shopping) checklist:

Clothes

  • 7 long-sleeved onesies, since I am having a winter baby and my daughter was born in July.
  • 2-3 winter sleepsuits (I could reuse 3 of my daughter’s baby sleepsuits and I received 3-4 baby boy sleepsuits from family and friends)
  • 1 winter pramsuit
  • 2 winter all-in-ones (for newborn and age 1-3 months)

 

Sleeping

Next2Me Bedside Crib | Dropside Cots & Cribs | Chicco

 

  • 1 Zara blue chick cotton blanket with a super cute elephant pattern (I do have several baby blankets, but I wanted him to have his own, which eventually he could use as a security blanket)

  • A swaddle (not all babies like to be tightly wrapped, but for those who happen to like it, it is a wonderful method for self soothing at sleep time… And this time around I am determined to establish good sleeping habits for my baby from an early age!)
  • 1-2 dummies (even though my daughter never used one, I will still offer one to my baby boy, since I believe it is a good soothing method)
  • A couple of brand new soft toys (offered by family and friends)

Bath

  • A whole new set of pretty much everything (baby scissors and clippers, emery boards, soft hair brush and baby comb, Mustela bath set products, including the foam shampoo for newborns)
  • A new soft touch bath support

Travel

Others

  • Sterile gauze, saline solution for eyes and nose, ethyl alcohol, nappy rash cream (In Spain I used Eryplast, but in the UK I use Sudocream),  newborn nappies, adapted cotton buds and nasal aspirator.

These are “the essentials”… I hope you will find this checklist helpful, even if you’re expecting your first baby, because we certainly tend to buy way too many things for baby #1 and only experience shows us what is really necessary!

Our summer birthday party

We are back from our holidays and I wanted to dedicate this come back post to my daughter’s summer birthday party!

Chiara turned 2 years old on 4 of July and we celebrated it with a Peppa Pig theme party at the children’s community center, where we could made the most of the outdoor facilities, thanks to these few ideas!

– We bought a couple of mini inflatable swimming pools and placed them in the garden, close to the sandpit. We did not fill them up completely, but the kids loved to get in them or splash with their hands. Of course, we provided our guests with swimming nappies.

– We played a CD of nursery rhymes non-stop and had a bubble machine for the kids (always a winner!).

– We also had a Peppa Pig piñata attached to the low branch of a tree. We made sure we chose a piñata with strings attached on its bottom, instead of the one that you have to hit with a stick, which could be dangerous for the little ones! And we filled it up ourselves with lots of tiny toys and healthy (and some not that healthy) goodies!

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– We placed the table inside with Peppa Pig nap and napkins, paper cups and hats… If you are wondering where did we get all that Peppa Pig party supply, we bought it in Amazon!

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– For lunch, the kids had margarita and chicken pizzas, as well as fresh carrots and cucumber, water and organic juices, and a personalized cake from Heavenly Cakes catering… Sharina baked for us a Peppa Pig theme vanilla cake completely organic! And delicious!

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– And, or course, the kids went home with a bag of Peppa Pig party favors!

All in all, a wonderful summer birthday party that I hope all the kids enjoyed as much as my daughter, who needed a nap of more than three hours after the guests left to recover!

The end of the summer is almost there, but if you are lucky enough to live in a warmer country than the UK… Do not hesitate to use these ideas for your kids’ parties!

Paris, je t’aime! A fun mummy-daughter afternoon in the city of lights

A couple of weeks ago, my 22 months old baby girl and I joined my husband in his business trip to Paris… We used to live there before moving to London, and we know very well the city. But seeing it through a toddler’s eyes is a completely different story! I am lucky enough to have lots of mummy friends in town that gave me some good recommendations on what to do in those few spring days in the city of lights… Let me share with you what we did in one of those lovely Parisian afternoons!

First stop: we went to a FNAC store to look for books in French for my daughter, since that’s the main language spoken at home, and we owned only a couple of children books in French. We found these lovely books, for 10 euros each. The nursery rhymes are interpreted by children voices… My daughter absolutely adores them!

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Second stop: we did some shopping at OWL L’Afrique c’est Chic, a ’boutique’ with beautiful African clothes and complements for adults and children too. The brand has been featured in several French media, such as Elle… Wax prints are trendy right now, but OWL’s designer definitely brings extra chic to it with its French ‘bobo’ style! Take a look at the skirt I bought for my darling!

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Third stop: we gave a colorful stroll around the 18th ‘arrondissement’, close to the cementery of Père Lachaise, and treated ourselves to delicious Italian ice creams at the gelateria Pozetto… My favourite flavour is ‘gianduja’ (chocolate with a taste very similar to Nutella)!

Fourth stop: we could not end the outing without stopping at the Abbesses carousel, which is smaller and less crowded than the one in Montmartre… and is located in a picturesque square, which gives it a special charm!

All in all, a perfect mummy-daughter afternoon in the city of lights!

5 Tips to have the perfect plane ride with your toddler

We, international families, take our kids on relatively long trips since very early ages… The first time I traveled by plane with my daughter she was only three months old. It was a two hours flight from France to Spain and everything went pretty well, since she was breastfed and the minute she’d get uncomfortable, I would breastfeed her. She pretty much slept for most of the trip… And the captain allowed us to take this pic as a souvenir!

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It is relatively easy to travel with such a young child… most of all, if you are breastfeeding. And I learned a trick from a stewardess to soothe babies when the plane is taking off or landing, and the change in the atmospheric pressure can hurt their ears. You can either breastfeed the baby… or, if you bottle feed her/him, then take four plastic goblets, ask the stewardess to give you two hot wet napkins and do the next: place a napkin inside one of the goblets and then introduce a second goblet inside the goblet that contains the napkin. Repeat the operation with the other two goblets and cover each ear of the baby with one pair of goblets, as shown in the picture below… Now, I don’t know why this works, but I can assure you that it does!

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When it comes to toddlers, traveling becomes a different challenge… And you must take into consideration many other factors. These are the most important ones for me:

1. I try as much as possible not to have my daughter’s schedules altered. This means that I don’t take very early or, on the contrary, very late flights… even if they are much cheaper. This pretty much rules out travelling with low cost companies, but that’s fine, mainly because of the next factor.

2. If the flight is long, I always book extra leg space or, if available, I choose a seat with assigned baby bassinet. The thing to know with regards to this last option is that you can place a toddler in a baby bassinet, even if his/her legs are hanging from it… But you might want to bring a soft pillow to put under his/her legs to make him/her more comfortable. Moreover, a bassinet can even serve as entertainment for your toddler, if, as it happens with my daughter, he/she likes to travel inside it!

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3. I buy one or two new books every time I have to take the plane and, if they do not manage to get her attention, or the flight is too long, then I use different apps in my tablet to keep her busy (Cbeebies playtime, Baby coloring, Drawing desk, WhiteBoard)… or, as a last resort, I have some cartoons episodes in my tablet (Peppa Pig is a winner, but my daughter also loves Pocoyo… and the Mother Goose Club).

4. I always cook a pasta dish to take in the plane (I have a wonderful thermos!), but I also pack lots of goodies that my daughter loves… rice cookies, cereal bars, blueberries, etc. I do not necessarily think healthy, when we travel, as much as happy! Because all you want is having your kid happy and relaxed during the flight… So I recommend to let them splurge! But not to turn our backs completely to healthy, always keep him/her well hydrated with water!!!!

5. I let my daughter travel with her favorite teddy bear… and the blanket she uses to sleep at home. It makes her feel at ease… And I also prepare a little backpack that she can carry around as her very own personal luggage. Because she is at that age in which she wants to do all the things mum and dad do… Isn’t it the sweetest?

These are my tips to travel with a toddler by plane… I hope they help! Another posts will follow on traveling by train/car…  In the meantime, do not hesitate to share your tricks with me too!!!!!

Can your child bond with other family members through Skype alone?

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As you probably know very well, one of the most difficult things to deal with when you have an international family is staying in touch… or, if you prefer, being present even in the distance. We have close family members spread all over the world: siblings living in both coasts of the USA and in Spain, parents in Spain and Africa, cousins in Australia… It is not easy to keep up to date with their daily lives and, in most cases, that is OK, as soon as we are there for the important things… But I am fully committed to keep my parents and my child’s cousins very present in her life.

Family is really important to me, since I am very close to my parents and siblings; so I guess I want it to be also important to my daughter. But there are other reasons for this commitment. One of them is that I want my daughter to speak Spanish (my mother tongue) as much as possible. But the most important one is that, since we are a family of three, I want her to be able to build a bigger support structure in case something might happen to her dad or myself, or simply for the future.

I knew that for my daughter to bond with other family members it would take time, since she would not be able to see them everyday and for a baby that is crucial… I must say that even today (she will turn 2 in a couple of months) she shows a preference for my mom out of the whole family, as she is the family member that she has met in person the most. But this is not the only reason…

My mum is an affectionate person, very much like myself… And through the years I have adopted many of her mimics, language and ways of expressing herself. I think this plays an essential role in their ‘easy’ bonding, since I have also seen it at the nursery, where my child tends to prefer the teachers that have a mellow way of talking, instead of those that speak louder.

Another reason is without a doubt the fact that we call my mum everyday of the week (with the exception of some Saturdays or Sundays) through Skype, even if for a few minutes. My daughter is so used to these daily calls that she can scroll my Skype contacts and find her grandma’s number and call her without any assistance! I know it is said that new technologies are separating us more then bringing us together, but go ask any international family, if that is the case! They will tell you: God bless Skype, Facetime and Whatsapp!!!!

Of course, as I said before, technologies are not enough to succeed in the deeply psychological process that is bonding… Many other factors will play a role in it, such as the child’s personality, the circumstances in which the child will get to meet in person that family member, etc.

The good news is that, eventually, my daughter will grow to know every single member of the family very well… And, even if she will be driven to get closer to those whose personality will work better with hers, I hope I will be able to teach her enough empathy and compassion to treat them all with respect and affection. In fact, let me share with you a personal anecdote: when I was little, I didn’t feel very close to my auntie’s husband. I found him too serious and distant, and I ended up thinking that he didn’t like children. Later on, when I left home to go to university, I would occasionally pay a visit to my auntie during the holidays… On one of those occasions, there were other family members at her place and I totally forgot to go and hug my uncle. Once I was back in university my mum called and told me that my auntie had said her husband had been saddened by the fact that I had forgotten to greet him… It turns out, my mum said, that he is a very sensitive man, but also very very shy… And that is why he never really played or interacted much with us when we were growing up. Needless to say that even though I rarely see my uncle or auntie anymore, every time I do get to see them, I do not forget to give that silent man a big hug!

When it comes to my husband traveling internationally for work, things are a little different. At the beginning, our daughter would simply not realize her dad was missing. When she grew up a little bit, she would get very anxious seeing her dad on Skype, as if she couldn’t understand what sort of trick we were playing on her! With the passing of time, she got used to my saying “dad is out for work” and then seeing him on Facetime or Skype… But now that she is older, she begins to show her dad how unhappy she is when he leaves, by refusing to talk to him when he calls or ignoring him when he’s on Skype… Not easy for daddy!

In any case, technology is there to allow her to at least see her dad and talk to him, when she’ll be ready to do so… It will never substitute daddy, but it certainly makes us feel closer to him!

Do you have any specific tricks to try and facilitate bonding between your child and family members that live faraway? Please, do share them with me!

On how I gently weaned my toddler… by letting her lead the path!

So, even though this blog is not intended to be only about breastfeeding, a friend of mine asked me to share my experience weaning a very much boob-attached 18 month old toddler with almost no tears… I immediately thought it was a super idea, mainly because I had one of those babies that would never let it go! I am sure you know the type…

And having been at that hopeless place, I thought I had a very strong message to share with all of you, mums, out there, dealing with the same situation… It is going to be OK! Your baby will let it go, with the right support and when SHE IS READY to do it. In fact, I was expecting weaning to be terribly exhausting for me… kind of a fight… and even though I cannot say it was easy, I was surprised to see how once I set it on, it was actually my daughter the one that leaded the path!

First of all, I would like to make clear that I do not think there is a ‘one fit for all’ formula to wean your toddler in the less traumatic way for mother and child… The right formula for every child depends on many things, such as the child’s personality, her situation at home (and beyond, i.e. at the nursery), her life style, etc.

But let me tell you in a few words what worked for us:

1. I had way passed the feeling of not being able to take anymore the exhaustion of breastfeeding my child every 4 hours. I was still a living zombie at the time, but one that was not upset anymore with the situation. I had accepted all the bad feelings and somehow made peace with them… And when I said to myself, Ok, things have to change, it was not because I was exhausted, but because I was planning on a second child! Now I am not saying that you can only be determined enough to succeed at weaning your toddler when you want to get pregnant again… but I truly believe you have to take the bad feelings out of your balance and put on a positive note on the whole process of weaning.

2. I had full support (and I am talking 24/7) of a very close friend who was also determined to wean her toddler. We encouraged each other tremendously, in the highs but most of all in the lows of the process… And we kept repeating each other that we were close to the end line, so we could’t give up. Find that person going through the same process as you and, if possible, with the same type of stubborn child… and share every step of the way… It will take you almost to the finish line… The last wonderful steps are for you and your baby to live together and be proud of!

3. I knew I could lose a couple of battles and still win the war, so I never pushed my baby to the corner of desperation, where she just had to cry out all her frustration. We, mums, know our kids very well… to the point where we can tell if bath time on a particular day is going to be hell, by simply paying attention to their body language when they come back home from the nursery! I would use the same intuition with my daughter, not to take her to the breaking point… For example, I would refuse breastfeeding my daughter and would offer instead a juice or other snack. She would, of course, be upset and begin moaning. Sometimes it would stop at that, just moaning. And it was for me a won battle. But if she was way too tired, after coming from the nursery, and would get really upset or cry, then I would offer her the breast to soothe her… and tell to myself: oh, well, tomorrow I will try again. That is why my method was essentially with almost no tears, because I never really pushed my daughter so far in the process… After all, weaning is a pretty serious detachment issue for a toddler and it must be taken us such, with understanding of the scary feelings it might create in the child and lots lots of EMPATHY.

4. I truly let my daughter lead the path towards weaning, because at the end of the day, the toddler must be ready to let go… so if, as it happened in my case, you have repeatedly tried to wean your child and miserably failed, it might be simply because she was not ready to let go. Defenders of the ‘crying out’ method reading this blog are most probably thinking that a child will never wean himself. But I believe that, as breastfeeding is the result of mutual adjustment, love and work between mother and baby, weaning cannot be achieved if only the mum wants to do it… Let me tell you what happened in our tandem! I decided to begin weaning by cutting the 4 am feed. The first night it was my husband who tended to my daughter. She wasn’t happy… She used not to let daddy get anywhere close to her at night, it was a business between us, girls… That first night she complained and cried, as usual, but my husband managed to make her sleep. On the second night, we did exactly the same and my daughter reacted as expected. But, guess what, on the third night my little girl did not wake up for her 4 am feed. We applied the same strategy in order to eliminate the 12 am feed and it worked. It is worth to say that, while taking all these steps, I kept verbalizing what was going on for my daughter to understand. For example, before taking from her the feed before bedtime, I would say to her things such as: “my angel, this is the last milk mummy is going to give you before daytime, because boobies do not give milk at night… since at night we all have to sleep”.

* Note on the side: All in all, and notwithstanding what books normally say, I found weaning my toddler at night much easier than on day time. Indeed, even though she was still breastfeeding before going to sleep, she would finish the feeding with a milk bottle and it didn’t take much for her to accept just the bottle.

5. I also found very helpful all the advice coming from the La Leche League international association on weaning (spending as much time as possible standing instead of sitting, avoiding putting your breasts at the reach of the toddler’s hands; covering as much as possible your breasts, using maneuvers of distraction or substitution when the child insists on being breastfed; weaning in the warmer months of the year to spend a maximum of time out of the house, where the kid can be stimulated and forget about breastfeeding). I figured, since they are so pro-breastfeeding, they would be more sensitive towards the feelings of a mum that truly enjoys breastfeeding her toddler but has decided to wean for whatever reason… Because, let’s be real: our feelings are going to get hurt in the process of weaning and kids have a lot of empathy, so it is my belief that the more we are at peace with the decision to let go, the more chances we have to succeed. On this last note, I send you all my support and positive energy!

References:

Huggins, Kathleen, Ziedrich, Linda (2007): The nursing mother’s guide to weaning: how to bring breastfeeding to a gentle close and how to decide when the time is right.

La Leche League International: http://www.llli.org

Breastfeeding your child beyond borders…

I am not really interested in the debate on breastfeeding vs bottle-feeding. I think each mum must choose the method that best fits her family and life style. In my case, breastfeeding was the choice of preference… And it was not an easy one! I have always enjoyed breastfeeding (leaving the first discomforts besides). I have breastfed my daughter well beyond the 12 months threshold… and yes, this choice has meant not being able to sleep for more than four hours in a row for a really really long time… Needless to say that I have been immerse in a state of deep exhaustion for months, but I do believe it was worthy… and I do not think I need to name in here all the benefits of breastfeeding a child. What I would like to share with you is my experience while breastfeeding my child beyond borders… I have breastfed Chiara in many public places in London, most of the times without using anything to cover my breasts… I do not believe breastfeeding this way implies any kind of indecent exposure and I have never felt any weirdness while doing it, apart from the typical curious looks from people here and there. However, when I traveled to Africa with my husband and my toddler, I was concerned about how my ‘breastfeeding ways’ would be seen… since we were going to the encounter of a very traditional society, most of all with regards to how women should dress, talk or behave in public. Of course, it did not take much time for my daughter to pat my breasts in public (that is the way she would ask to be breastfed). Uncomfortable and unsure of what to do, I tried to ignore it as much as I could… We were, after all, in the company of some elder men. To my surprise, one of those men hurried to tell me that I should feel free to breastfeed my child… I think he saw I was a little hesitant and so he kept going explaining me that in the old days, if a woman would not hurry to breastfed her baby when she was crying, the whole village would come to tell her off and she could even be beaten! It sounds drastic, I know… But what I retained from that episode was that even for some of the most conservative societies on earth breastfeeding is considered as natural as walking, coughing or breathing. So next time you hear about the everlasting debate on if a woman should cover up while breastfeeding her child in public, give this anecdote a little thought…