run out of womb

... learning how to be a mum from scratch

Monday 22 February 2016

These are a few of my favourite things...

Apologies if that headline has stuck the Sound of Music in your head.. I haven't seen many raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens, but nothing says more about how much I've changed since become a mama than a shopping trip.

Where I used to head straight to Zara or Topshop to pick up a new top or skirt for the weekend, now I like nothing more than browsing tiny shoes ready for summer, or an amazing new nappy bag that's nicer than most of my handbags, or a new stripey sleepsuit.

These are some things that have entered our wardrobe this week... 

Jemima bag, Jem + Bea

How great does this beautiful soft leather bag look? Not great as in, not bad for a changing bag, but beautiful, full stop. Yes, it is a changing bag - there are pockets (eight inside, two out), a padded changing mat, an insulated bottle-holder, it's wipe-clean inside. But oh, it's a lovely bag too. 

If you're thinking it looks a bit Mulberry, good spot: one of its founders used to work there, and it shows: alongside the great-quality leather (I opted for tan), you get a clutch/pouch for the few belongings us mums are allowed to tote around, a leather keyholder, mobile slot, gold metal bits and something that poses prettily under the buggy - and on your shoulder. (See tiny man getting his hands on it below..)

You'll want it to last - it's £265, which is loads, but I've already checked that it fits my laptop because this bag is definitely gonna be in my life for longer than I'm carting around nappies. The only sore point beyond the price is it's fairly heavy, once all your paraphernalia is on board. But I forgive the Jemima that, because it makes me feel like a properly dressed, made-up, grown-up on days when I'm wearing the same jeans for the fourth day in a row and have Batiste'd for more days than I care to count... 
Basically, this is a non-maternity maternity bag - and it's gorgeous.

Also this week, we've been shoe shopping. Not because shoes are exactly a necessity when you're ten months old and love nothing more than to dash around on your knees. But they're pretty darn cute. Stocking up for summer (the Womb crew are moving house next week so obv we're prepping for all the important things, like baby fashion...), these tiny Salt Water sandals are so cute. They're proper leather, (and cost about £35, although look out for sale prices, I've seen them for £15), available in a rainbow of colours, unisex, splash proof (they stretch a little when they get wet), and basically the only baby sandals I've ever seen that have NO velcro or rubber or weirdo cartoon characters, and are lovely.
Back to the current, uh, season - and tiny man is wearing these cute rubber Attipas shoes all the time. They've sock-like uppers - so soft and comfortable - and rubber grippy soles, which are great now he's standing and coasting around. They're £16 from Perky Panda, a brilliant online baby and kids' store, curated with cool but reasonably-priced designs. And since these shoes also happen to look one helluva lot like a certain All Stars design, I wear my grey Converse, he wears these, and we're both happy. 

Now when I found myself listing a pack of nappies as one of my 'favourite things', I realised I realllllly was a mum. Because.. really? Nappies. Here's why: they're called Moony. Which is already a pretty good reason that they're good, to be honest, because anyone who's done time in a British school playground is going to enjoy dressing their baby in Moony nappies. 

So how do they differ to Pampers, Tesco's, et al? Well, they're much more slim-lined and flexible - no big baba bum here - but they're also super-absorbent and we didn't have a single leakage with the 60-pack size we tried. 

They've got a wetness indicator, too, which most of the supermarket brands leave behind as babies get bigger, but remain useful, and they're really soft and flexible so crawling babies won't feel trapped or rubbing. There is a drawback: a 60-pack costs about £25, which is really going to add up if you use them every day. But if you keep facing night-time leaks, I'd recommend them, and if you've got a special occasion and want to avoid a big-nappy-bum ruining a cute dress or smart trousers, they're great too. Available from Amazon.

* Items sent to Run Out of Womb for review - but rest assured, we're seriously gobby and would only rave about what we reckon rave-worthy. The rest we just don't feature.


The travel cot made by a rocket scientist...

"It's not rocket science" is the stock insult we knackered parents hurl at each other when the other one can't get the baby's high chair up, or sippy cup sorted, or travel cot secured.

So I was pretty excited when I heard that actual rocket scientists have moved into the baby technology market. And not just any rocket scientists - those working at the European Space Agency and Oxford University. A couple of them - both dads, obviously - couldn't believe how complicated it was to build most travel cots. As someone who once spent the best half of a morning sweating and swearing over the building of a French travel cot on a villa holiday, I'm right with them.

And so I can't wait to review the Space Cot in April - and will definitely be letting you know how it works. The vital stats are pretty promising: 

* The scientists say theirs is the only cot that folds and unfolds in 3 seconds
* It weighs just 6kgs (about the same as a three-month-old baby)
* Folds away easily into a neat bag
* Suitable from birth to 30 months
* Can be carried comfortably over your shoulder
* Eco friendly and hypoallergenic
* Can also be a play pen or everyday cot for those with limited space
* Available in Blue, Grey and Black
* RRP £139.95
* Pre order from February for delivery in April 
* Available from 

And you can find out more about the cot's conception - and see it in action - here:

* This post was written in collaboration with Space Cot, but rest assured Run Out of Womb is seriously gobby and would never rave about anything unless it's rave-worthy.


Wednesday 17 February 2016

Encarta 95.. and other childhood joys my baby will never know

Ever since Louis Armstrong's What A Wonderful World came on the car radio and stopped my baby's roar in its tracks, I've had it on a lot. And one of the lyrics sticks in my mind: "I hear babies cry, and I watched them grow / They'll learn much more than I'll ever know."
It's true in lots of ways - but I started thinking of all the things Noughties-born babies will also miss out. Not just the way that 'gaming' meant breaking out Dreamphone (best game ever), but...

* The fact that researching homework used to involve looking up the thing in the index book of this set...

before you had to then find the one-of-20 books it directed you to, before eventually learning what you needed. When things got really high-tech, remember when you could 'quickly' insert this CD Rom to do the same...?

I fuddy-duddy-ly feel sure that the resultant knowledge stuck longer than when homework questions nowadays are solved with a quick Google.

* Next piece of nostalgia? That my baby will never know the crazed excitement of taking your film canister (with 24 photos... 48 if you REALLY splurged) of holiday photos into Boots. Then waiting a week (again, 24 hours if you really splashed out) for access to the snaps of you and that boy/that pool/that ice cream.. Then lovingly sticking them in photo albums rather than carrying out 1,452 pics of our toes in some sand from four days in Ibiza via the phone in our back pocket.

* And my baby won't have the joy of a 10p Freddo or 1p cola bottle... Or a 10p pack of (disgusting) Space Invaders or almost-as-cheap Panda pop. Poor Freddo will probably cost £10 when today's babes are old enough to get pocket money.


* Now, the age that my baby will end up getting his first mobile (phone, he's already got a cot-dangler) frankly scares me. But I'll also be sad that he'll never know the random pleasure of knowing a friend is a special one because you've called them so much that you've memorised their phone number. The future death of the landline means my baby will probably never have the joy of endlessly bugging his best buddy's parents ("Hi. It's me again. Is XX there again? I forgot to say something when I hung up, just now.")

* And my baby will never watch a film until its tape is scratchy - not just because that video tape won't exist, but because the future version of Netflix will mean he can access so many films that they'll be no need to watch Cool Runnings 16 times one summer holiday, as I once did definitely didn't do. 

* My baby probably also won't know the rigidity of arranging to meet a friend somewhere, and actually turning up in that place, bang on time, because he will probably always have a phone to send a text, or some future method of instant communication, saying, 'Running late, sorry...'

Monday 15 February 2016

Sometimes having a baby is scary... and that's OK.

So there I was: newborn daughter on my chest, and, despite a little pain, blissfully, off-my-head happy. 
Then my husband went home for the night and the lights went out on the ward, and I suddenly worried: ‘how the hell will I ever have a shower again??'
This is a guest post from Rachelle Sananes, mum of Willow and blogger at Unlikely Mummy.
I momentarily considered leaving baby next to the bed to slip off to freshen-up, but realised I needed to accept that brushing my teeth was now a luxury.
With all the joy you get from parenting (and trust me, this is the part that people brag about most, THE JOY!!) you also acquire a ton of anxiety - feelings that, prior to giving birth, I certainly had never experienced. With every milestone came a little ‘scary first’ that almost sent me over the edge every time!
The first bath
I’ll never forget that feeling that if I even dared attempt to remove that tiny sleep suit from my daughter I would almost definitely cause her some serious harm. So, like any logical new parent I decided damage limitation was the only possible route. The heating went on, the towels went onto the radiator, the bath water temperature was checked with all available body parts, until eventually I went for it and DUNKED baby in the bath. 
Then my eyes batted from baby-bath-towel-bed, baby-bath-towel-bed, wondering how I could possibly get baby from bath to towel and on the bed without any injury. All the while delicately dodging what can only be described as a plastic peg, attached to the leftover umbilical cord. The deep fear as I try to avoid knocking it off like an old scab on a schoolkid’s knee... 
Don’t let this experience beat you!! We’ve all been there.
The first outing
At first, the fear of a crying baby in a public place was too much for me to cope with. So I packed enough equipment for a world leader to invade a small country. I clearly remember the questioning look my husband gave me as I insisted that the walk to the corner shop justified taking all this ‘stuff’. The ‘stuff’ that I had just spent 2 hours neatly piling onto my pram.
What the hell did he know anyway?’
The first look of judgement
I couldn't decide which was more offensive: the look from a fellow parent, who should have had my back, or the one from the non-parent, who I reckoned - on my no-sleep diet for the first six weeks, had no right to have an opinion at all! There is truly nothing worse than trying to be one of those ‘fictional’ mums that get it right all the time, so don’t try and certainly don’t be hard on yourself when you don’t get it right.
Your baby crying in the middle of coffee shop for no reason, other than he or she wants to, is not your fault, and that coffee shop will have seen that situation many times before you got there. The dummy I relentlessly picked up off the floor and put in my mouth…. totally normal, although my mother-in-law never thought so!
Now, I just try to remember every single one of us mums was a new mum once. And ‘that smile’ from a passerby, that’s not sympathy or mocking, that, my friend, is a silent nod and them saying “you’ve got this”!
So my sincere advice is don’t let the ‘scary firsts’ scare you into making them your last!
* Read more of Rachelle's mum stories and adventures at Unlikely Mummy.


Saturday 13 February 2016

Weaning part two

Weaning. After approximately two days of lovingly preparing purees for your baby to beamingly swallow smear on every surface but in their mouth, weaning swiftly loses its romanticism.

Luckily - don't shoot me, he'll probably only eat Mars Bars when he's 12 - my baby gobbles up everything. But even so, all that cooking, spooning, freezing, clearing up, wiping, mopping, etc takes ages.

And screw the perfect parent thing. Sometimes you need a pre-made pouch; sometimes you need a helping hand gadget. Following up my Slacker's Guide to Starting Weaning, here's the same for stage two and three: the must-have equipment that makes feeding your baby easier, less time-consuming and more, uh, fun. Maybe. Here goes:

1. Babymoov Nutribaby. The capacity on this thing means it fits SO MUCH IN. You can steam, then blend, so much veg that if you have lots of freezing pots (see below) you can make a batch recipe that will make about 10 meals: steaming capacity is 1500 ml, or for blending it's 600 ml. 

It's also a bottle warmer, defroster and steriliser, so you can use it from birth (which you'd want to, for it costs £90). It's pretty big, but does take the place of a bunch of other gadgets (we don't even use the microwave anymore now we've got this bad boy.) The capacity means it's also become my main cooking vessel for family meals too. Veg are steamed, blended and turned into yummy soup lunch whilst we're having breakfast. The steamer has two baskets, so you can put 'slow' things like fish in at the start, then add speedier things like spinach to the second basket. It has automatic cycles with a timer that beeps when dinner is ready. You get on with the rest of your life as the food quietly cooks itself: amazing.*

2. Make your own pouches. I'm a bit embarrassed at just HOW proud I was when tiny man first sucked a pouch, solo - freedom from the spoon whilst out in restaurants: YAAAAY! But if you don't want to give ready meals whenever you're out (some are packed out with fruit rather than the veg / meat they claim to contain, and none are fresh.) you'll love the Fill'n'Squeeze. It made sense when I heard that a new mum had invented the Fill'n'Squeeze: it's simple and quick to use. You pop your pureed food into the plastic jug, attach a pouch (5 are included in the box, which is £20), push the plunger in at a slight angle, flatten it, then squeeeeeeeeeeze. Once the pouch is full, you pop on a cap. They can go in the freezer and microwave, and are even fairly easy to clean and reuse. 

3. Ready snacks. Babas are hungry beasts. You do your three meals a day, but they still want more. I love Organix rice cakes (no seriously, the apple and cinnamon ones often get diverted to my mouth). AVOID the tomato ring / wafer carrot stick things because they make mess EVERYWHERE and your buggy will never be the same again. (Early in weaning I vowed never to feed in-buggy. This vow quickly dissolved...)

4. Ready-made pouches. Because sometimes you're pooped. And these are the best thing to have in stock. I'm an Ella's fan.

5. Ah, the drinking. My baby would seize the water cup with glee, move to guzzle at pace - then look at me like I'd promised him Moet (aka milk) and given him water. Which I had. I tried about 17 different cups, and this is the NUK one (£5.99) that works. I don't know why, and it might not work for yours - you may have to try a few. My tips? Go for a soft teat to start with, and it's worth spending extra on no-spill ones. My handbag, car, and house can testify to that.*

6. and 7. Pots. You'll need loads if you're going to make in bulk and freeze, which is the only route to sanity. I used tiny wheely-bin style pots at first, but they soon became too small. Ditto ice cubes. Now my favourite is Joseph Joseph Dial pots. Like most things made by these genius kitchen designers, they've a clever twist: in this case, you 'dial' the made-by date into the built-in digits on the top of the pot, so you never let lovingly-made meals go off / go to waste. They come in three sizes - tiny pots and bigger ones, so the first are great for starting weaning and then later filling with desserts (apple and mint is our fave), and the bigger ones perfectly fit a lovely portion. You won't spot them in most baby shops, but they're worth buying online - or in John Lewis.

These Annabel Karmel pots also work well as you can 'pop' the food out; and the Vital Baby Twist'n'Lock pots come on a tray so the tubs don't go akimbo in the freezer.* 

8. Spoons. You'll need lots because there'll alwaus be a few hiding in your handbag/car/kitchen. These colourful Vital Baby ones have a soft tip, ideal for sore teething mouths. 

9. Dustbuster. Yeah, you could get on your hands and knees daily to pick up semi-chewed peas from the surrounding 100 square metres. Or you could invest in this. I have the Flexi Hand Vac - you can get cheaper alternatives but going with Black + Decker's original means I'm enjoying great battery life, and it's fully vroomed up in four hours. Which is vital considering my charging ability: my phone collapses in a dead heap about once an hour. This tiny machine fits in a cupboard crevice and is so useful to suck up the debris of every meal in seconds. We recommend!*

AAAAND, the high chair. For a low-budget option, go for Ikea's. It's wipe clean, comfy (I'm told), £14 (although the £6 insert cushion is worthwhile) and does the job. The only drawback is the legs spread out and you trip over it and swear about three times a day. More to spend? Ignore the rotating, cushioned, impossible to clean options and buy Baby Bjorn's high chair. It's all plastic, so wipes clean, and the table opens up to easily pop your baby inside. Then, when it's closed, it keeps your child 'locked in' and safely sitting down. My favourite thing about it, though, is it folds totally flat - flatter than the ironing board - it's only 25cm wide, which is less than a school ruler and means I can hide it behind the curtains when we have people round and need to fit more chairs under the table.
Last, but not least. Recipes. You can get these from a million different websites; I like My Mini Meals' ideas best. Sometimes, though, you've basically got no food in the house or no time are you're desperate. These are my fallbacks:

a) Avocado + banana. Easy, tasty, done.
b) Couscous with anything. Unlike pasta, potatoes, etc, you can cook this is a mug in 5 minutes. Doesn't need mashing either.
c) Scrambled eggs. Make sure they eggs are well cooked, grate in some cheese and a very chopped-up veg (tomato, pepper, mushroom), add a dash of milk, and you're done.
d) Melted cheese on toast. Peanut butter on toast (if your baba's definitely OK with peanuts). Loads of things on toast.
e) Mini pancakes

What are your fallback meals? What are your favourite gadgets? What have I got wrong? Let me know below! And please share if this is useful. Thank you!

* Items sent to Run Out of Womb for review. But rest assured, we're seriously gobby and only rave about what we love...

Wednesday 10 February 2016

How to take photos of your newborn.. by a professional baby photographer

From the moment your baby is born, you're desperate to capture their insanely amazing beauty on camera. You take four billion iPhone shots. You splash out on a chunky SLR during pregnancy to try to get that blurry background-thing going on. You lie them on that fluffy rug thing that everyone seems to take amazing shots on and... 

It doesn't quite work out as planned, right? Or was it just me... 

The baby wriggles, or the camera won't do what you want, or your family moan you spend too much time trying to capture moments..

So today I had the best time getting snapped by the amazing Heather Neilson. Her baby and child photography specialises in natural settings - you'll be running around golden fields (or slightly muddy ones .. thanks London!) with your kids or cuddling your babe amidst spring flowers. (All the shots in this post are hers, so you can see what I mean.) If you're looking for a fun-loving photographer who's great with kids and knowing with babies (she has a very cute nephew who's given her lots of practice), Heather's the one. 
She even gave me some hints to improve my own tiny man pics. And, since most of us want to know how to take fab photos of our small ones, I asked her to give Run Out of Womb readers her top tips. 

They're aimed at people who want lovely shots, rather than keen amateur photographers who are trying to emulate "professional newborn photos" (which involves quite difficult posing and set ups). Over to Heather...
* Newborns and babies are notoriously difficult to photograph - they are as cute as anything to cuddle, but the wriggling arms and legs, cross-eyes and wrinkly skin make things difficult. The key is to WRAP your baby. Even professional photographers do this when all else fails. It will keep arms and legs neatly contained. Use a muslin, or a receiving blanket in a pale soft colour. 

* The direction of the light is so important. If you are indoors, you will be using window light, which is super soft and pretty. The trick here is to make sure the light is not going up the nose! Otherwise you’ll have that ghoulish “torch under chin” look. Instead, angle your baby so the light is coming from the side of the face. Even better, have the light spill diagonally across the face from the top left or right corners of the head. 

* Avoid direct sunlight like the plague! Whether you are inside or outdoors direct sun is harsh and unflattering (same applies for selfies - or belfies). The light from north-facing windows indoors, or shade outdoors is the softest. Just be careful of dappled patchy light outside.
* Turn off all lamps and ceiling lights and only use natural light. The light from lightbulbs will appear yellow and is not bright enough for good photos.

* If possible, take newborn photos when your baby is sleeping. They look so peaceful and relaxed like this and you won’t be taking photos of baby cross-eyed. Later on, there will be more eye contact which is really cute to capture.

* Don’t forget to take photos of their little hands, ears and piggy toes and even close ups of their delicate eyelashes.

* Watch the background! You might not notice at the time you are taking the photo, but it could be ruined by a distracting bright yellow Lego block. Or worse, a breast pump in the background. Ideally place baby on a blanket, throw or plain quilt. Your grown-up bed is often good for this.

* And finally, don’t forget to be in some photos with your baby! You will probably feel dishevelled and sleep deprived, but these will be the most precious photos to your children when they are grown.. think of how amazing it is to look back on photos of your young parents when you were a little one. Good luck!


Sunday 7 February 2016

Celebrating heritage baby clothes and kit - and *competition*

The approach of the big Four-Oh birthday can be alarming when you still feel like an eight-year-old inside (given I still wake up with excitement at 4am on the night before holiday, I am still regularly astonished that I have a grown-up enough to have a baby).

But if you're a brand, surviving forty years, through tough trading times and booming ones, against mighty chains and online start-ups, is definitely a cause for celebration.
It was back in 1976 that Steve Jobs first set up a little tech firm called Apple. When London Fashion Week launched for the first time. Aaaand when the Swedish kidswear brand Polarn O. Pyret came to life with the launch of its baby range and of its famous stripe.

I see a lot of that stripe - because the company isn't only 40 years old but its clothes seem to last as long too. We've got loads of hand-me-downs from cousins, and the Polarn leggings and long-sleeved Ts aren't even bobbly. Plus - an important one for us, with four girl cousins and just one boy - the brand mostly eschews gendered gear. They make colourful stuff that's designed to be played in (my speed-crawling tiny man definitely puts their soft cotton leggings to the test), not grungy adult mini-me items. 

Oh, and if you've always wondered, as I have, how to say it - it's “Pole Arn Oh Pier Et”, which means “Buddy and the Little One” in Swedish. But I normally just say 'that stripey kids shop' and everyone knows what I mean.

Anyway, Polarn want to celebrate their birthday with Run Out of Womb readers. You can win a £40 gift voucher to spend online on anything you want (there's even an adult range... is it sad that I've just bought a matching Breton-style top to one of tiny man's vests?). All you have to do is think about what's lasted 40-odd years in your life. I'm talking baby and kid-related, not your husband. 

Have a family heirloom blanket that's still going strong? A precious baby grow that's lasted through the generations? A board game or toy that's loved more than the modern stuff? To enter, just WRITE A LINE about it below, or post TELLING US ABOUT IT on Twitter, or SNAP IT on Instagram - remebering to TAG @runoutofwomb and @polarnopyretUK. Celebrate things that last a long time.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

* This post was written in collaboration with Polarn O. Pyret but rest assured, we're seriously gobby and would only rave about things we really love.

Friday 5 February 2016

What's in the Amazon Baby Box - and is it worth it?

Every mum and mum-to-be probably already has Amazon on tap. You're knackered, you're at home a lot - it's the obvious place to pick up books / DVDs / toys / nappies. And since you can do it with one hand whilst feeding at 3am, the online behemoth already has a big chunk of the parent pound. 

But it wants more - so now it's launched the Baby Box. This is a freebie that's going to be sent out - from today - to anyone who sets up a nursery wish list (aka baby registry in the US) and has Amazon Prime. This £79/year membership currently provides unlimited speedy delivery, unlimited cloud photo storage (amazing for those gazillion newborn snaps), and access to Amazon's own film and TV streaming service. Now parents can nab this box of goodies, too. You don't have to make a purchase from your set up Wish List, but, if you were thinking of using the loophole of getting a month's free Prime trial, receiving the box, then cancelling, you can't: it's only sent out after the end of any 30 day trial. So is it worth it?

Opening the box, I was surprised. Most free baby services, like Emma's Diary and the Boots baby club, give a few sample-size freebies. This is more premium. The items collectively are worth £40. They include:
1x large (46in by 46in) muslin swaddle blanket, with a cute hedgehog design

1 x Lamaze bunny toy

1 x Disney Winnie the Pooh teether 
Image result for Disney Winnie the Pooh teething rattle

1 x tube of Medela Purelan lanolin (amazing on sore nipples!) - sample size

1 x bottle - either MAM anti-colic bottle or a Tommee Tippee easi-vent one
Image result for Tommee Tippee easi-vent
1 x Weleda Baby Derma nappy cream - sample size

1 x Angel Care Nappy bag dispenser or two bags of refills

Organix Strawberry & Banana Porridge 120g
1 x Organix baby rice or porridge

1 x Amazon parenting book (which is mostly advertising)

It's a pretty nice bundle to receive. Sure, it's a marketing rouse - but Amazon didn't get to be the biggest online retailer without being clever. If you're not going to get value out of a Prime membership independent of this box, then it's probably not worth your while - you likely won't use every item in the box, for example - and some might hang around for a bit (the porridge until weaning time, for example) and take up space. 

But if you're already a Prime member or reckon you'll use the other benefits too, this is a lovely, useful load of baby goodies that'll fab for any parent or parent-to-be to unwrap.

* The Amazon Baby Box was sent to Run Out of Womb, and we decided to review it. Rest assured, though, that we're seriously gobby and would never rant about something that's rubbish...
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