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Knitting Friday

Becky over at The Laughing Owls always has a Knitting Friday post, and seeing as I’ve just started knitting something new I thought I’d join her.

Knitting in progress

So I just started this last night. It’s going to be a Christmas Elf hat for Toby! We’ve got the Baby Sensory Christmas party in a couple of weeks and I’m taking the opportunity to dress him up. Although I would love to make him a whole costume myself, at the moment I don’t have the time or the inspiration. So I’ve ordered him this cute elf all in one from Tesco but I thought it would be nice if I made him a hat myself. And although it’s Christmassy colours he’ll still be able to wear it after Christmas too.

I bought the pattern off Etsy as a PDF download which was quite handy. I had the green wool lying around and as I wasn’t sure if there was enough of any one to make the whole hat I decided to go with the stripes. The hat is knitted in one piece and seeing as it’s only for little Toby’s head I would think I’ll have it finished for next Friday! Come back then to find out how it turns out…

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Recipe: Chicken and Chorizo One Pot Dinner

Chicken and chorizo recipe

We all have busy lives so who doesn’t love a quick dinner that can all be cooked together with minimal preparation and even less washing up!

This Chicken and Chorizo recipe is a regular in our house. Chicken and chorizo is a classic combination – in this recipe you can then add any vegetables of your choosing, stick it in the oven and you’re done!

You will need (serves two):

  • two chicken breasts – you could use chicken thighs if you prefer but I don’t like them, so we don’t!
  • two chorizo cooking sausages – I take the skin off and then cut into four pieces
  • one large or two small sweet potatoes – peeled and chopped into large chunks
  • one large or two small courgettes – again cut into large chunks
  • mushrooms – either leave whole or cut in half
  • red onion – peeled and halved or quartered (if you leave a bit of the root intact they should hold together)
  • peppers – any colours, cut into large pieces

The idea is to cut all your vegetables into pieces of roughly the same size so that they all cook in the same amount of time. Of course you can use different vegetables, just use what ever you fancy. I sometimes use baby new potatoes instead of the sweet potato but you’ll have to boil them for ten minutes first.

Put the meat and the prepared vegetables into a large roasting tray – try to mix everything up and make sure the chorizo pieces are evenly spread around the tray so that the oil that comes out as they cook can flavour everything. Drizzle the whole lot with some olive oil – I use garlic infused oil but again whatever suits you. You could also add salt and pepper before it cooks but I don’t add salt to anything and I’m not keen on pepper so the hubby just covers his after it’s cooked!

chicken and chorizo recipe

Put the whole lot in the oven and cook at 200°C for about 30 minutes (it might take a bit longer if you have particularly large chicken breasts). If you like you can throw some green beans on the top about 5 minutes before the end of the cooking time.

And that’s it. Easy peasy. I actually then drizzle a bit of salad dressing over the top which sounds slightly weird but is actually lovely.

We haven’t started weaning yet but I would have thought that this would be a good meal for little hands to share, perhaps without the chorizo which is quite chewy and salty.

I love meals that can be prepared in advance (I quite often do all my chopping and preparing when Toby is napping in the afternoon) and then just put in the oven when you’re ready. And the lack of washing up from this way of cooking is also an added bonus. Do you have any favourite one pot meals you’d like to share? Please leave a comment and pass them on!

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The Ordinary Moments #3

I’m linking up with Katie at Mummy Daddy Me again this week for some more ‘Ordinary Moments’.

My husband works in Edinburgh and so has quite a commute every day. This means that during the week he doesn’t get to see much of Toby. He usually leaves before Toby is awake in the morning so he only sees him for half an hour or so before bed time in the evening. Toby and I go and pick Daddy up from the train station at twenty past five and then there’s half an hour for cuddles and playtime before bed.

Daddy and baby

It’s so lovely to see the two of them together in the evenings. Toby clearly adores his Dad and always has a big grin for him when we get home. I know it’s hard for hubby not too see very much of Toby during the week so I’m really glad that his work is flexible enough that he can at least get home for bedtime – it’s a luxury that a lot of working parents don’t get.

Daddy and baby reading

As well as some cuddles we usually try and fit in a story at some point before bed. In the last week Toby has really started engaging when we read to him. He reaches out and touches the pictures and even tries to turn the pages.

So there we are, another Ordinary Moment in our daily lives.

mummy daddy me

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Living with a reflux baby

reflux medication

At four months old Toby takes 1ml of medicine in a syringe three times a day. He also has Infant Gaviscon added to every bottle of milk as well as Dentinox Colic Drops (although I’m not entirely sure that they really do anything!). I don’t like having to give him medication so regularly but for now it is just something we have to live with. I know that we are very fortunate that Toby’s illness is in no way life threatening and, if we are lucky, he should grow out of it fairly soon. That said, gastric reflux has not made the first few months of my little boy’s life as smooth sailing as it could have been.  Before Toby was diagnosed I found a lot of really useful information online and from reading about other people’s experiences so I hope that by sharing our reflux story (so far) we might be able to help another baby who is struggling with the same problems.

We first thought something might be wrong when Toby was just a week or two old. As I have already written we had some trouble breastfeeding in the beginning and a lot of that was trying to get Toby to latch on properly. Instead of rooting and turning towards the breast he would actively turn away. I think the difficulties we had were a big contributing factor to why we ended up moving to formula feeding full time. Of course it’s only with hindsight that I can link these difficulties to reflux.

The second major indicator that something wasn’t right were the noises that Toby would make when he was lying in his crib, especially during the night. He would make all sorts of grunting and choking noises, keeping both himself and us awake. Sometimes he would be asleep but still making these noises. It was horrible hearing my baby sounding so distressed even though it didn’t actually seem to be bothering him that much. I mentioned it to our health visitor but she just dismissed it as ‘babies are just noisy’. Toby was still sleeping in our room at this point and I even resorted to wearing earplugs to try and get some sleep!

When Toby was about a month old I turned to Google to see what could be causing all these noises he was making. One of the possibilities that came up was reflux.  I didn’t really know much about reflux; a friend’s daughter had suffered when she was a baby and remember her having to have Gaviscon in her milk but that was about the extent of my knowledge. It was also at this point that Toby started being sick a lot more. This coincided with our move to full time formula feeding meaning he was managing to eat a bit more in one sitting. This vomiting was something which was also dismissed as normal by the health visitor. I know babies often bring up some milk after feeding but Toby was bringing up virtually full feeds, sometimes straight away, sometimes half an hour or an hour later. I would put him down to sleep and then find when I checked on him that he had been sick over his shoulder – his clothes, hair and sheets would be soaked. And I was terrified that he wouldn’t turn his head and would end up choking. His vomiting was so forceful that on one memorable occasion I sat him up to wind him and he was sick all the way up my dressing gown sleeve, managing to get it up past my elbow!

The more I read about reflux, the more convinced I was that I had found the cause of Toby’s symptoms. Along with the vomiting and the noises, there were also continued difficulties feeding even after we had moved to bottles full time. Reflux is really another name for heartburn. It is quite common in babies as the muscle at the top of the stomach can be underdeveloped making it very easy for the contents to come back up into the babies throat and the acid from the stomach can be very painful for them. During and after feeding Toby would arch his back and scream in pain. It was just heartbreaking to watch. Even very young babies can quickly learn to associate feeding with the pain of reflux, but equally they know that feeding can help to alleviate the pain temporarily as the stomach contents are pushed back down. What this led to was a cycle of feeding on and off all day. Toby would take an ounce or two of formula then refuse to drink any more as he knew it would hurt him but then he would be hungry again half an hour later and this went on day and night. It was exhausting for both of us.

From reading online I found quite a lot of tips of things we could do to try and help Toby. We tried to feed him in a more upright position, keep him upright after feeding (it was recommended to keep him upright for half an hour, which is fine during the day but not so practical at three o’clock in the morning!) and to tilt his crib so gravity would help keep the milk down. We tried all these ideas. We used books to raise the head of his crib. In fact at one stage it was at such a steep angle that we had to tuck his blanket really tightly under his arms to stop him sliding down the crib and ending up in a heap at the bottom!

However, after a week or so of trying anything we could think of without seeing any improvement I took Toby to see our GP. I explained Toby’s symptoms and, after checking it was nothing more serious, the doctor agreed it was reflux. I suppose it is quite difficult to diagnose reflux accurately in babies. Certainly when we were at the doctor Toby was happy and showed no sign of any discomfort. The doctor just had to go on what I told him. Anyway, the first step in treating reflux in babies is Infant Gaviscon. For formula fed babies this is added to the milk (it can be used for breastfed babies too but administering it can be a lot more tricky). Unlike the adult version Infant Gaviscon contains only a mild antacid. Its main function is to thicken the milk, making it easier for a baby to keep down and so reduce the symptoms that way.

So we started with the Gaviscon and we did see something of an improvement in Toby. He stopped being sick pretty much completely and he did seem a bit more comfortable but the night time noises and the back arching were still there. After a week I took Toby back to the doctor, this time armed with a video to show him exactly what was going on. I knew there were other medications that could be prescribed that I thought might help Toby further. But as Toby had stopped being sick and was still gaining weight the doctor just wanted us to continue with the Gaviscon.

So we carried on for another week or two. Toby was definitely better than he had been but his feeding routine hadn’t improved. Feeding was still going on through most of the day (and night) making it really hard to go anywhere or do anything. We were going to just persevere with the Gaviscon but one day I was browsing in our local charity shop when a book called The Sensational Baby Sleep Plan caught my eye. I’ve mentioned this book by Alison Scott-Wright in another post but the reason I bought it was because it had a whole chapter about reflux. The author made the very good point that we couldn’t expect Toby to sleep well until his reflux was under control. In the book there is a list over four pages long of symptoms that can be associated with reflux. Of course in isolation some of these things could just be normal baby behaviour but when a baby has several of the symptoms and isn’t able to sleep and feed comfortably then that can indicate reflux. I’m not going to go into the whole list but here a few of the things that Toby was doing:

  • Frequent hiccups – also babies who have frequent hiccups in the womb, which Toby did, often go on to develop reflux
  • Arching the back and neck
  • Body goes rigid and stiff, it always seems as if the baby is trying to stand up on you
  • Displaying stress-related behaviour as a reaction to pain or discomfort – head-thrashing, rubbing together heels and/or feet
  • Appears to fall asleep after a few minutes’ feeding and is impossible to wake to continue with the feed
  • Cries when laid horizontal
  • Wants to be constantly held
  • Having excess mucus and seeming to have a constant cold
  • Small amounts of vomit produced all the time – we would often see a little bit of milk come up into Toby’s mouth which he would then swallow back down, causing burning from the stomach acid both on the way up and the way down again.

So you can see, this is quite a diverse list of symptoms but when I read it and so many of them applied to Toby I knew his reflux still wasn’t under control and so we headed back to see the doctor again. This time we saw a trainee GP so I just went in, explained Toby’s symptoms hadn’t improved and asked to be prescribed ranitidine, an antacid that I knew was used to treat reflux in babies. Cue much confusion from the trainee as she checked her reference books – ranitidine isn’t licensed for babies even though it is widely prescribed so she was struggling to work out the correct dosage. As it turned out is was a good job we have an observant and thorough pharmacist because she actually prescribed over ten times the correct dose! Luckily it was all sorted out and Toby started on his new medicine. And there was an almost immediate improvement. Within a week most of his symptoms had gone, he was feeding better and sleeping better. Within a couple of weeks we had him feeding roughly every three hours and sleeping through the night. It was amazing.

Since then we have had to increase the amount of ranitidine Toby was getting – the dosage is calculated on the babies weight so as they get bigger the dosage can need recalculating if symptoms start to reappear, Which brings us to today. Toby is largely free of the symptoms of reflux. Babies do usually grow out of it at some point but the only way to really tell is to reduce or remove the medication and see what happens. We have tried reducing his Gaviscon recently but he just starts being sick again. However, yesterday I forgot to give Toby his lunchtime ranitidine and he was absolutely fine all afternoon. So today I didn’t give him that dose again and still no problems. So we are going to keep on with his morning and evening doses for now and see how it goes and if all is well then maybe we can start reducing those doses too.

If I had any advice for parents of baby suffering from reflux, or who they think might have reflux it would be to see your doctor as soon as you can and if the medication you are given doesn’t seem to be working then go back until you get something that does. I know we were lucky in a way that the ranitidine worked, but if it hadn’t I know there are other medications we could have tried. If I could go back I would have gone to the doctor much sooner and maybe tried to get the ranitidine earlier so then Toby would have felt better quicker. But at least he’s doing OK now and I’m sure there won’t be any lasting damage caused by his difficult early weeks.

Reflux does seem to be more common now but I wonder if that is because parents can do more research themselves online and so are more aware of it, and therefore it is being diagnosed more often rather than dismissed as colic or just a ‘sicky baby’. Did your baby have reflux? Did you find it easy to get a diagnosis and appropriate treatment or was it a bit of a struggle? I would love to hear about the experiences of other parents in a similar situation to us – feel free to leave your comments.

 

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Review: bumGenius Freetime

Bumgenius Freetime

We have been using bumGenius Freetime nappies full time since Toby was about 7 weeks old. I am writing this review simply because I think they are a great nappy – we were not given any nappies or other incentive.

The Details

bumGenius is a family run American company – I believe that most of their products for sale outside the US are produced in their own facility in Egypt. bumGenius nappies are available from a variety of UK stockists. I got mine from a few different places depending where I could get the best offers at the time. The Freetime usually retails at £15.99 (unless you can get one in a sale or get discount for bulk buying) which is towards the top end of what you would expect to pay for a cloth nappy. However, the nappies are an all-in-one (AIO) nappy which essentially means you don’t need to buy any extras like inserts or wraps. It is also a birth-to-potty (BTP) or one-size-fits-most (OSFM) nappy so they should last as long as your baby needs to wear them. And they should last for more than one baby so the cost works out quite reasonable in the end. These nappies are available with popper or velcro (sometimes called aplix or hook and loop) fastenings and in a variety of colours and prints. All but one of our nappies are velcro fastening as I find it easier to get a snug fit and we have pretty much one of every colour I think!

The Pros

bumGenius FreetimeThe nappies are really easy to use as you can see in the pictures above. The length, or rise, of the nappy is adjusted using three sets of poppers on the front of the nappy. We currently have the nappy on the middle setting. As the nappy is an all-in-one the inserts (the part that actually absorbs the pee) are attached, which means there’s nothing to get lost in the wash and no need to match things up with the right nappy afterwards. As the inserts are only attached at one end they open up for drying (1) which dramatically reduces how long it takes. On a fine, breezy day they will dry in an hour or two on the line. Seeing as we don’t have many of those at the moment though, mine usually dry overnight in the airing cupboard or in about an hour and a half on low heat in the tumble drier. Once you have your clean dry nappy then you simply fold the flaps back in. They can be folded several different ways. Because we have a little boy we fold the front flap in half before folding it back into the nappy (2). This makes it more absorbent at the front where the majority of a boy’s pee ends up.
The back flap is then folded over the top (3) and a fleece liner (if you are using them) is placed on top (4). I then store my nappies in a drawer like this so they are just ready to take one off the pile and put on when needed.

bumgenius FreetimeThese nappies, like a lot of others, also have laundry tabs which are used to protect the velcro during washing and to stop all your nappies ending up stuck together in one big ball when they come out of the machine.

The Cons

There really aren’t many; I think the bumGenius Freetime is a great all round nappy. They only thing I would say is that, compared to my Tots Bots nappies, the velcro is quite stiff and can be a bit scratchy. This doesn’t actually matter if the nappy is put on properly as it doesn’t come into contact with your babies skin but if they aren’t put on quite right it can catch his tummy if he’s been sat up in a car seat for example.

We have only had a couple of very minor leaks from these nappies. Even then it was only a little bit where the moisture had wicked through at the leg seams and really my fault for leaving the nappy on too long! Usually Toby can wear one of these nappies for two or three hours before it needs changing. Because of this I don’t think I would recommend the bumGenius Freetime as a night time nappy unless you want to change nappies as frequently at night as you do during the day.

The only other minor negative is that there isn’t quite the same variety of cute prints and patterns from bumGenius as you get from some other brands of nappies (for example these by Tots Bots or these from Baba and Boo). This of course has no bearing on the performance of the nappy but it might sway some people.

The Verdict

I would recommend the bumGenius Freetime to anyone whether they are starting out with cloth nappies or are seasoned users. They are especially good for anyone new to cloth nappies (or maybe any reluctant Dads out there!) as they are really just like changing a disposable. The only thing I think that might put you off this nappy in favour of an alternative would be the price. We have 14 of these nappies for day time use so the initial financial outlay was quite high. That said, I only wash every two to three days so if you were willing to wash more often you could get away with less and they are quite often available in promotions or you may even be able to pick some up pre-loved making them a more affordable option.

So, in conclusion, the bumGenius Freetime is a great all-in-one birth-to-potty nappy. It certainly gets my vote.

**Disclaimer: I did not receive any compensation in return for this review. All opinions are my own.

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Four month sleep regression?

Four month sleep regression

Four month sleep regression. Is that even a real thing? I heard about it but naively thought that I have a baby who sleeps, it won’t affect us. Oh how quickly things can change. It was only two weeks ago that I was writing on this very blog, smug as you like, about my wonderful baby who regularly sleeps 14 hours a night.

Then last week Toby had his third set of immunisations. No problem, I thought. He was fine after the first two lots, why should this time be any different? So we put him to bed as usual. And then he woke up and wouldn’t settle until he was fed. Then he woke up again. A cuddle this time and he went back to sleep. Then he woke up again. Another feed, some Calpol, and the snot sucked out of his nose. Back to sleep. Awake again. Dad settled him with a cuddle and a bit of rocking. 5 am. Awake again, a dirty nappy. Another feed. More snot. Eventually back to sleep. Then my alarm goes off. Of all the days, I was going to work for my first Keeping In Touch day!

Suffice to say we had a bit of a bad night. I just thought though that it was a combination of his injections and a cold. So while I went to work Toby had a quiet day at home with his dad. We bought a Calpol plug in vapour thingy and for the next three nights normal service was resumed. But then on Monday night Toby woke at 3:30 am and wouldn’t go back to sleep without a feed. Last night he woke up at 12:30 am and I ended up feeding him again. And he’s been properly hungry, finishing whole bottles. Last night he woke up crying again at about half three but by the time I had got up to go to him he was back asleep again. We are lucky that when he does properly wake up he does tend to go straight back to sleep on his own once he’s been fed so I’m usually only up for about 20 minutes at the most. But it’s 20 minutes I’d rather be in bed! Especially seeing as Toby was kind enough to pass on his cold to me! On the plus side the napping situation has improved quite a lot over the last few weeks and we’re usually getting a decent afternoon nap in now (sometimes both of us!).

So what’s happening? Is it a growth spurt? A sleep regression? A wonder week? Who knows?! Toby does seem to be making more developments at the moment. He sat up on his own without toppling over on Monday. He’s almost found his feet. (He also found his willy getting changed after swimming today!). He’s babbling a lot more than before too. So hopefully this is just a bit of a developmental phase he’s going through and soon things will go back to normal. For now I’m just going to try and go with it. I’m going to try and get some more milk in him during the day, although that’s sometimes easier said than done. Toby can be quite stubborn if he doesn’t want to eat. And if he wakes up in the night hungry I’ll feed him and put him back to bed. I’m reluctant to introduce a dream feed when he was managing fine without before. When we tried it before it never made him sleep any longer anyway and I’m of the mind that waking a baby when you want him to be asleep is just counter-intuitive.

Anyway, any advice or even reassurance that things can get back to normal would be gratefully received at this point. After six weeks of full nights’ sleep all this getting up business really is making for a tired and grumpy mummy!