run out of womb

... learning how to be a mum from scratch

Wednesday 30 September 2015

Competition! Win a luxury relaxation hamper

Ever since I announced my pregnancy, one of my less-cheery colleagues would daily tell me to enjoy whatever I was doing in my spare time, because 'you'll not get a chance to do that again for 18 years'. He reckoned reading a book stopped with parenthood ("you'll never get past the first chapter"); ditto listening to music ("it's Twinkle, Twinkle from now on..") and even enjoying a bath ("there's always someone else who wants the bathroom...")

Well, parenting a newborn certainly is busy, and I don't know how single parents cope, and struggle too to consider how people do it *whilst looking after older kids too*... But there are still the odd moments in my life for reading (whilst feeding), music (my tiny man loves One Direction as much as I do, and I'm not embarrassed to say so..) and bathing. 

And the latter relaxation time is where this competition comes in. It's a stonker: a chance to win a brilliant Pamper Hamper from Serenata Flowers, including:

  • A Lavender & Chamomile Aromatherapy Set 
  • Salted Toffee Truffles 
  • Caramelised Butter Fudge 
  • White Chocolate Covered Strawberries
  • and Higher Living Organic Licorice Tea

All boxed up in a pretty willow hamper, that I'd definitely fill with baby sock / nappies / bath toys after use.

Here's how to win:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday 29 September 2015

Review: Snuzpod 2 three-in-one baby bed

Apart from university and hotel stays, I've only slept in two beds in my nearly-three-decades of life: one in my childhood home, the other in the flat which I bought with my boyfriend, now husband, where we still sleep now. (If by sleep you mean intermittently lie in bed waiting to be woken by a hungry baby).

Said baby, by contrast, although only five months old, already owns four beds - and has snoozed in many hotel and travel cots too. Of course, his favourite place to sleep isn't actually his bed at all, but our one...

Still, the reason he has so many is that he's the lucky youngest cousin of four. So one cousin's Moses basket was his main bed, another's crib became a 'day bed' for lounge snoozes, and another's big cot is waiting for him to move into.

And the fourth? That one's brand-new: a Snuzpod. This "bedside crib" is the baby bed that my NCT buddies raved about; the one that I'd have bought had I purchased from new. The Snuzpod attaches to your bed, so you're sleeping side-by-side with your baby. That makes night feeds much easier (you don't have to get out of bed), and it's supposed to be a safer alternative to co-sleeping as there's a zip-up side so the baby has his own, secure space.

Plus the Snuz's thoughtful design means you can also use it as a standalone crib (zip up all sides, detach the clips from your bed) or as a Moses basket/bassinet by pulling it out of its frame. 

In our flat, tiny man's nursery is a staircase away from our bedroom, and since he's still waking up so much at night, and under six months (the highest risk factor for SIDS) I don't yet want him to move out. But his Moses basket was getting too tight - so the chance to review the more spacious Snuzpod was well-timed.

First thing to report: those breezy words in other reviews that the Snuz took 20 minutes to build didn't ring true with me. I love a spot of DIY and especially an Ikea product-building session (just like a giant jigsaw), but it still took me a good hour to get the Snuzpod up and running. Some parts are heavy, too, so avoid doing this alone in pregnancy - but, having said that, the instructions are clear and parts are all well organised.

Once the Snuz is built, it's easy to strap to your bed frame, and there are two straps: one for a divan-style bed, the other for a standard one. You can put the bottom of the crib at various levels, dependent on your bed height, so it lies flat against yours - although unfortunately none of the options were high enough for our tall bed, so there is a height difference.

Night one didn't go very well: I left the cot three-sided, and tiny man kept rolling into the dip between the Snuzpod and our bed, getting annoyed, and waking up. Night two was better - I zipped up the fourth side and he must have felt more secure because he slepy long and well. After a week, he was used to the Snuzpod: for expectant parents, I'd recommend using it from the start, with a newborn, (perhaps with a towel rolled up at the base to make it feel cozier) for a smoother process.

My overall verdict? The Snuzpod is a great concept: it means your sleep is far less disturbed by feeds (for a breastfeeder, you just slide the baby across, give them the boob, and slide back, rather than you having to get out of bed and wake up much more). It means you can relax in the knowledge that your baby is so nearby, but has his own space away from risky duvets and pillows. And the fact that the Snuz lifts out completely will be useful for newborns - you can carry your baby to other parts of your home easily.

Some negative points: parts were tricky to build (the wire rods, for example, were difficult to get into their fabric holes), and it's a shame there aren't more levels so the Snuzpod lies flush with a greater range of beds. 

But overall, of the many baby beds we tried, in the words of Goldilocks, this one is just right.

 Item sent to Run out of Womb for review. Rest assured, though, that I'm seriously gobby and would never rave about something that's rubbish.

Monday 21 September 2015

Five best baby travel gadgets

People have one of two reactions when you tell them you're taking your newborn baby on a transatlantic plane for seven hours, then going to three destinations in the US, involving taking three ferries, a ten-seated Cessna jet, and hiring a car as well as two international flights. 

The first? "You idiot. Your baby will hate it, your fellow fliers will detest you, it won't be a holiday, you'll regret it." The second? "Great! This is the best time to take them away! No food to worry about, no running around on the plane..."

So at Heathrow, waiting to start our biggest adventure as a family of three, we were nervous. Luckily, though, the second view turned out to work out for us. Tiny man slept through all the flights, and was a virtual celebrity in Cape Cod, Nantucket and Boston, where we travelled and where everyone we met was so helpful and happy to see us. True, it wasn't quite the flop-on-a-beach / manically explore trips we've had in the past, but it was brilliant. 

That was helped by loads of preparation. My packing list was really useful, but so were a few key items that came along in our suitcase.

And so, in no particular order, here are my five top gadgets for globe-trotting with a baby:

1) Out N About buggy bag: travelling with a four-month-year-old, I was really keen to take the bassinet part of our Cosatto travel system and not just the buggy. Firstly because tiny man wasn't really big enough for the buggy, but also because the bassinet is great to get him to sleep in restaurants in the evening. Plus if he really hated hotel travel cots, I knew the bassinet was a great back-up. But how to transport it? Most buggy bags are far too small to fit a whole travel system. 

But after much research, the Out N About bag came to the rescue. It's specifically designed for the Nipper Single and Little Nipper buggy, but as I discovered, also fits a range of brands. After flattening the bassinet, it plus the whole buggy chassis apart from the wheels fitted neatly into the bag, which protected from any bumps and poor handling from airport staff. Of course, for the Nipper buggies it was designed for, all contents easily fit in, including muff, shopping bag, etc. Extra bonus? You can squish soft things like nappies, coats, etc into the bag and since most airlines carry buggies for free, you can get more into your suitcase luggage allowance.*

2) Babymoov Ni - I've raved about this tent-come-play pen before, but it really came into its own on holiday. We could pop it up on the beach, shading the baby from the sun, wind, and sand (except when I stepped inside with half the beach on my foot) and even use it in hotel rooms where the carpet didn't look too clean. Compact and useful.

3) Green Baby Mosquito Patches Insect Repellent: I was worried about my tiny man's chubby thighs and the rest of his body being mauled by bugs, especially as one of our hotels was on a lake, mozzies abounded but I didn't want to put gross poisons on my newborn's skin. Someone recommended these patches, and I bought them but was sceptical. However, in two weeks, my husband and I (religiously smothered in anti-bug spray) were liberally bitten whilst the baby, with one of these patches daily stuck to either his buggy or sun hat, stayed bite-free. Next holiday I may well walk around with a Green Baby Mosquito patch stuck to my forehead. 

4) Bar of Vanish (and bag of Napisan) - because poonamis happen away from home too, and they're far tougher to deal with. But this bar of Vanish, rubbed onto the sick or poo stain, quickly bought all clothes back to their original state.

5) Banz Mini Ear Muffs: as part of our trip, we had to fly on a tiny (and terrifying) Cessna aircraft, which was pretty noisy. Worried about our baby's ears, we popped these on him (one of the few brands that are OK for younger tots) - and he promptly fell asleep. 

 * Item sent to Run out of Womb for review. Rest assured, though, that I'm seriously gobby and would never rave about something that's rubbish.

Wednesday 16 September 2015

Iron (wo)man

During my pregnancy, I was obsessed with having my baby in my hospital's birthing centre. Not because of a hippyish obsession with a candle-lit natural labour, but because the smell, and all that medical equipment makes me feel terrified - and tense. And throughout pregnancy, I kept being told staying relaxed was the key.

So when I found out about my hospital's birthing centre (the Whittington) it sounded like the perfect solution: specialists just a corridor away if anything went off-track, but the rooms there look like hotels, not hospitals. All medical equipment is hidden, there's a birthing pool, a double bed so your partner can stay with you... I knew this was where I wanted to give birth. 

Then in one of my last antenatal appointments, something was blocking my route to this dream birth place: my iron levels.

They weren't dangerously low, but they were scraping along the bottom of the 'normal enough to give birth in the birthing centre' index, and I was worried. I stockpiled spinach, gave myself the right to eat as many burgers as I wanted, and then my midwife suggested taking Spatone. 

It's sachets of iron-rich water which come from a well in the Snowdonia mountains of North Wales. Sounds exclusive but they weren't too expensive - about £8 for a month's supply.

During pregnancy, I poured my sachet into a daily glass of orange juice (iron is absorbed better when consumed with vitamin C). It tasted a bit metallic, but not too bad - and it worked: my iron levels rose. I gave birth to tiny man in exactly that calm environment that I'd wanted.

Now as a sleep-deprived mum I'm still taking my daily iron. Spatone comes in a new apple flavour, so swallowing iron doesn't have to taste like you're swallowing a glass of ball bearings. One sachet provides the recommended daily amount of iron and of Vitamin C, so I'm hoping it cuts down winter colds as well as reducing tiredness and fatigue.

This post was written in collaboration with Spatone, all words and opinions are my own.

Tuesday 15 September 2015

Bib-berty bobberty boo: the bib awards

Before becoming a mum, I used to wonder why so many babies were trussed up in dribble bibs all the time. I thought they looked silly, and what was a bit of dribble...?

And then I had a baby, and that baby was intent on disproving the claim that breastfed babies can't over-eat. My baby eats like he's at a 24-hour, all-you-can-eat buffet (which, in fairness, he is), and wants to get his money's worth. And when he's eaten so much all that milk just won't fit inside him anymore? Then he chucks up.

Once I got sick of all the sick-imbued clothing piling up, I saw the value of the bib. A lot. So now I've been testing out different brands and sizes and ... here are my bib awards for greatness.

Best conversation-sparking bibs: Baby Moo's
If you're annoyed at having to cover up all the cute clothes in bibs, at least get a joke out of it. Baby Moo's other clothing catchphrases include "I like big baps and I cannot lie"; and "My mummy doesn't want your advice". They're soft too - although once wet, they did stay wet for a while. £3.99 each.

Softest bibs: aden + anais 

These are the closest I'll get to a designer bib - they're pricey (£17.95 for two 'burpy bibs') but for that you get a muslin and bib in one, as it's a burping cloth with poppers to transform into a bib. The normal bibs are £20 for three - and their generous size would probably swamp a newborn, but they're capacious enough to cover any potential sick spots far more than a dribble bib and are really soft to touch. Watch out for the big labels though - they're an invitation for a baby chewing session.

Best bibs to embarrass your future teenager: Funky Giraffe

Yup, this bib does read 'I'm not pooping, I am just thinking hard' and yup, that does make it the ideal fodder to embarrass your future teenager, 17 years down the line, by getting out a snap of them wearing this. It's really, really soft though and very absorbent too: my baby loves it (for now). £4.50 each.

Best every-day bibs: Mum2Mum

The clue's in the name and these bibs (pictured up top) really seemed to me like they've had a lot of thought put into their production. They promise to hold over 1/4 cup of liquid and certainly kept my baby's clothes and skin dry for a few feeds -which helps protect against dribble rash. Their materials include velour toweling with a water-resistant backing - and they came out the wash as-new too.

Other worthy bibs:

My baby also (seems to) rate Cheeky Chompers' bibs: they have a built-in teether for sore gums to chew on and their bib attachment means it can't get lost/endlessly fall on the floor, unlike Sophie a certain giraffe. Tommee Tippee's Milk Feeding Bib was a winner too: its dribble-catcher around the neck helps avoid dampness irritating sensitive skin.

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