Baby Things – Good or a Waste?

So recently my friend Billie Brown, of Young London Mum, asked me for my list of what’s good, and what’s not-so-good, to buy for baby. I thought I’d post my recommendations here – and add a couple more, of course!

1. Top 5 Buys

– a stretchy baby wrap. I now have two that I interchange. I started with a Jojo Maman Bebe wrap with Stevie, and now with Elia I primarily use a Mona Lisa Mamas wrap (a homegrown South African company). You can also make your own using t-shirt fabric!

– a baby bath seat. We bought one for Stevie originally in the UK, and we bought another one for her when we loved to SA. We now also use it for Elia- babies are slippery to hold in the bath, and much as it sounds lovely to bathe with them all the time, sometimes it just doesn’t work that way.

– a good bouncer/rocker. Brand really doesn’t matter (although we love our Tiny Love rocker), just find one you like and it’ll prove invaluable – so handy for when you need that 5 mins just to have a quick shower or make a cup of tea.

-a great quality, long-wearing travel system. We have the iCandy Peach, which we bought before Stevie was born. We did a LOT of research into different brands, and we liked the giant wheels and the slightly higher vantage point of the seat. Besides missing a bar (I think it’s still in my cousin’s car) it’s lasted us well for 3 years! It fits either a Maxi Cosi or BeSafe car seat, then has the pram attachment and the buggy. Stevie still uses the buggy bit, and Elia has taken over using the car seat and pram. Special shout out to the BeSafe car seat, which has also lasted 3 years!

Mimijumi bottles. Essential for a breastfeeding mum with a boob monster! The shape mimics that of a breast and baby needs to suck to get out milk, thus making it the closest bottle to a boob. Weirdly, it even looks like a slightly odd nipple! Every other bottle was useless for us – Stevie refused anything but the real thing until this bottle came along. It’s pricey, but totally worth it.

– a baby nest. We stupidly left our Sleepyhead sleep pod in storage in the UK, but we found a new one! A must for any mum, it can create a safe co-sleeping space (nice, firm walls) or a safe space where they still feel cocooned inside their cot.

2. Useless things

– Tommee Tippee breast pump. Sorry to the makers of this breastpump, but if I’d have known how long I’d be feeding for (nearly 3 years now) and how much expressing would have to happen per trip (hi, model who looks like a dairy cow in designer clobber) I’d have gone straight for the big guns in the form of the Medela Swing and saved myself a load of hassle. Frugal doesn’t always mean sensible!

The joys of pumping and travelling – this is on a 16-hour direct flight on the way back from Mexico

– Moses basket. Thankfully we didn’t invest in one, but we know lots of people who did and who weren’t happy. It’s cumbersome to move with one hand (whilst holding baby) and just gets in the way – and baby grows out of it so quickly, it just seems a waste of space.

– breastfeeding pillows. I used one with Stevie, but I haven’t needed one at all with Elia – I’ve realised far too late that any cushion will do the same job!

– dresses for girls and fussy clothes for boys, in the 0-6 month size category. Super cute but totally uncomfortable and impractical! Our girls have been stuck in them for photos, but for everyday wear, stick to a cute baby grow or trouser/top combo.

– expensive baby clothes. Okay, so this one is kind of a given – but it’s still true. Babies wear their clothes for maximum 3-4 months, and I guarantee that they’ll poo/puke in the most expensive item you own. My MIL bought a beautiful Petit Bateau baby grow for Stevie, white velvet with a Peter Pan collar. So pretty, but the Cursed Onesie. If we ever needed her to have a poonami, we’d pop her in that. Rather stick to Asda/Tesco or Morrisons clothes in the beginning – they wash nicely and you won’t get upset if your child explodes in them!

Late Pregnancy and a Black Tie Do (or two)

I love a good wedding. I love a bad wedding, too, but then I don’t really believe there are bad weddings. But weddings are great.

Not so great (read: nerve-wracking) is dressing for a wedding at 6.5 months pregnant. And then again, and 8 months pregnant (my sister gave me a get-out-of-jail-free card with hers, with an infinity bridesmaid dress – more on that later).

What does one wear to a black tie do when you’ve got a giant, bowling ball of a bump protruding from your midriff?

Well, here were my thought processes, and eventual outfits.

First of all – consider the weather. Both weddings were well above the 28 degree range, so definitely height of summer. No clingy, jersey fabrics for the bump this time – flattering as they are, I’d rather not Invite sweat to drop down my forehead more than it already has to. Also, sweaty bump equals itchy bump. Not nice. And riding-up-the-sweaty-legs never did anybody any favours.

So it needed to be floaty. That cancelled out half of my pregnancy wardrobe, so that was easy. My next problem was my legs.

I work hard on my legs. When I’m not pregnant, these little old legs of mine are a mark of pride. I run for miles, squat and lunge and box jump for days on end, just to keep these little leggies of mine toned and cellulite free. Pregnant me still squats, even now at 36 weeks, but, hello, water rentention, welcome, cellulite. I don’t feel at all comfortable showing off my legs when I know there’ll be a camera and plenty of leggy ladies around. So the dress needed to be long.

I didn’t want to buy a maternity dress that I’d never wear again, so I found myself at the Stuttafords closing down sale (RIP, Stuttafords, you will be very sorely missed by me) and staring at a brightly patterned, slightly-too-big, Banana Republic tent dress. Perfect – the pattern would flatter the belly nicely, it was nice and floaty, and – bonus – I will be able to wear it cinched in with a nice belt, once the bump has turned into a baby. Result!The biggest bonus of this dress turned out to be the weather – it was unseasonably hot in Michigan for the time of year, and my tent dress saved me from heatstroke. I felt pretty, cool(ish) and comfortable. We danced the night away until 9pm ish, when Stevie fell asleep on the dance floor in my arms, to the sounds of Jay Z. What a wedding.The second wedding was my sister’s, where I was a bridesmaid. I was picked to be said bridesmaid way before I fell pregnant again. There was a brief worry that my sister would disown me – just joking. Thankfully, she chose custom made infinity dresses. Saviour! A gazillion different ways to tie the straps, empire line before my ribs stretched, and, again, cool and floaty and comfortable. The best thing about infinity dresses is that you don’t have to be the bridesmaid to wear one. One of my best friends wore a beautiful purple one to my wedding years ago. If you’re ever pregnant and concerned, and can’t find a Banana Republic tent dress, go for the infinity dress. You will wear it again! Just make sure to take nipple pasties (thanks to my other sister and sister in law) and no-show knickers. If you’re that way inclined, pregnancy spanks will work, too.There are countless ways on Pinterest on how to tie an infinity dress, but we just went for it on the day. And, trust me, I was super comfortable. If you’re the type of pregnant lady who feels confident in everything when carrying a baby, or who doesn’t get cellulite-y legs, then you can probably ignore my advice and go for what you fancy. But this worked for me. Comfort is always key. Good luck!Unfortunately for us here in South Africa, now that Stuttafords has permanently closed, there seems to be nowhere else to buy Banana Republic other than their website Banana Republic. Hopefully this will change, soon.

Pregnancy photo shoots

It’s weird being pregnant and being a model. My entire life is made up of photo shoot after photo shoot, contorting my body in ways to make myself look even more lithe and long than I already am, in order to make a more appealling picture.

But being pregnant and modelling is completely different. Firstly, there aren’t as many pregnancy shoots as everyone thinks. Sure, I modeled up until 16 weeks, but then once I started showing I had to stop for a while. I’ve done two shoots for Your Pregnancy magazine, which were great, but this time, unlike with Stevie, I decided to try something different. I actually did a real pregnancy shoot with my friend Tahlecia.

Last time I shot with Tahlecia, it was a hair job and I was about 9 weeks pregnant. So normal business. This time was different and strange, but so lovely. This time it was just Tahlecia and I, so she did my hair and make up and just the two of us got me set up in her amazing home studio.

We’d already shared inspiration pictures, so we knew exactly what look we were going for – think of all the Victoria’s Secret models when they do pregnancy shoots: sleek, natural and just nice. No excessive make up and hair, or overdone outfits. Just me, the bump, a pair of baggy Acne jeans and my favourite, white H&M shirt.

Mega pregnancy inspiration right there – thanks, Behati!

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves, but they took us about 45 mins to shoot and I’m so happy I did them. I’m not one of those people who loves being pregnant, but neither am I the girl who hates it. I’m kind of indifferent, but I do feel as though I’ll have some very valuable memories to last me from this pregnancy.

Holiday Ponderings… AKA Thoughts by the Pool

Stevie is fast asleep. She was in the pool from about 8.30am until about 45 minutes ago. I knew Pisces children were ‘fish,’ but I honestly didn’t take it that seriously. I’ve learnt my lesson – and I’m VERY glad we have a pool fence at home. Otherwise my pregnant self would be having a heart attack every half an hour.

Holiday may seem like a strange time to write a blog post on the state of your pregnant body, but when I’m the only one in and I’m alone by the pool in a bikini with my ridiculously hot sister-in-law as my company, it’s natural I start thinking about it.

My job has made me possibly more conscious of my body than usual, and this time, second pregnancy, it’s interesting to note how different things can be.

We all know no two babies and pregnancies are the same. I’ve said before that I put on more than 20kg with Stevie – but that 20kg number was after she was born. Tall people can possibly carry more, but even so, for someone with a low BMI (if you believe in that sort of thing) the recommended maximum amount of weight is 18kg.

Pregnant with Stevie at 28 weeks – I’d been eating all the food for a while here. You just can’t see my enormous behind!

This time, I’ve been determined to do things differently – and I can already feel (and, thankfully, see) the difference. I can still fit in my pre-pregnancy jeans – if only actually closing them wasn’t such a big deal for me! I can take a photo and not worry about looking like a different person – which was the biggest deal in my last pregnancy, for me. I didn’t look (or feel) like myself.

I’ve been working out (gently) throughout. Now we’re on holiday, I’m in the pool with my little fish every single moment. I have a tan, which obviously helps. But the main thing is – I’m eating exactly the same as I did before I got pregnant!

Generally speaking, a pregnant woman does not need any more calories in the first trimester than usual, and she only needs an additional 340 calories a day in the second trimester (where I am now). That’s the equivalent of a large smoothie, or half a bar of chocolate – not a lot, when you think about it. In the third trimester, that goes up to 450 calories per day, which equates to a large snack or an extra small meal. So much for the ‘eating for two’ I did in my first pregnancy!

In other news, my bump is enormous and I’ve got terrible reflux. I’m fairly sure the two are connected (reflux occurs when baby pushes all the organs up towards the diaphragm). Is my bump bigger because I’ve put less weight on this time? Possibly – but every pregnancy is, after all, different. Maybe this baby is bigger? Who knows – we’ll find out when he/she arrives!

What do you think I’m having? Has anyone had suck hugely different pregnancies before? Let me know – I love feedback!

D-Day is Almost Here…

For those of you who don’t know, tomorrow, Thursday, in the evening, just over 24 hours away, we will be boarding one of the world’s longest direct flights. I’m 6 months pregnant. We have a 2 year old. And we will be flying Economy.

Now you’ve caught your breath on just how stupendously daft this idea is, let me make it even worse.

Upon arrival in Atlanta, we have an 8 hour layover. We have to collect our bags, as we’re on a different airline, and then sit for 8 WHOLE HOURS in the airport. Then we board another plane (2 hours this time) to Detroit. Then, finally, we have arrived.

Now, contrary to popular belief (and the above photo) we have done long flights, in economy, with Stevie. She’s very much the seasoned traveller. She sleeps well on planes, she’s very used to the noises and the goings on, and the normal 11-hour flights we do are a doddle. But this one is seventeen – yes, seventeen – hours in one go.

I don’t want to give her any drugs or herbal remedies to make her sleep longer, as sleep isn’t the problem. It’s the 5 hours or so of awake time that we’re going to struggle with. There are only so many movies she can watch on a little, tiny screen, and only so many trips to the loo we can take, before she starts to go stir crazy. I’ve done this flight a few times before, and, hell, even I go stir crazy.

So we’re going to stock up on stickers, prepare her favourite books, and load up on bolting, popcorn, cheese and any other snacks we know will keep her even slightly occupied. I can’t promise the same for us!

Wish us luck!

Your Pregnancy

So today I had the privilege of shooting bikinis for Your Pregnancy magazine. Your Pregnancy are great – we shot a ‘half day’ which finished at 11.20, and every item was non-maternity and a little bit sexy… excellent for a quickly-growing bowling ball like myself!

The lovely Aubrey Jonsson took the pics – and the magazine will be on stands in mid-November for any South African readers! I’ll post the pics on here of the full story once it’s published.

Oh, and for anyone wondering – that amazing ‘mermaid’ one piece is from Woolies and, yes, I shall be purchasing one myself… I want a mermaid bump!

Leftovers for Lunch

So, last night we made excellent stuffed peppers for dinner. I stuffed them with quinoa (boiled in chicken stock with peas), mince beef (stir fried with coriander, cumin, paprika and turmeric), finely chopped baby spinach and grated mature cheddar.

So today, for lunch, I wanted to do something that both Stevie and I could enjoy – something healthy (because I am not getting fat this time around) and tasty and filling.

So I decided to use the leftover stuffing for a quinoa bowl – with a twist.

I should explain now – we love quinoa bowls in this house. They’re a staple meal for when we’re feeling lazy. Before Stevie could use utensils, she could get her hands in and dig around, and as far as sensory experimentation and pincer grip goes, it’s fab!

So back to the recipe. I just made more quinoa-and-pea mix, and strained some baked beans. Stevie adores any kind of legume, and they’re full of goodness. She sometimes brings me cans of kidney beans from the cupboard if she’s hungry… I know, odd child. Maybe I should move them up a couple of shelves.

I chopped more spinach, grated some more cheese and fried everything off in a coconut oil-filled pan.

And voila! We have a glorious, healthy, economical lunch that both adults AND toddlers can enjoy. Next time I’ll add a soft-poached egg!

The best thing about this, is that you can meal prep as it’ll stay good in the fridge for a good 3 days – and it can be eaten cold or hot.

Weaning Sense

So this week I was invited to the launch of a new book, Weaning Sense.

The majority of South African readers will be familiar with the author and occupational therapist Meg Fauré. She’s written countless baby books. As a Brit abroad these days, I wasn’t all that familiar. So I went into this launch with a nice, open, new mind.

The launch was in the gorgeous Broadacres Mall in northern Joburg, in BubHub. This is now my new favourite shop. They act as almost an old-fashioned community centre, with preggy belly Pilates classes and a coffee bar, and a baby clinic alongside the all-natural baby toiletries and amazing boutique buys (my favourite was Little Me – black and white, high-contrast pram toys, muslins and baby crockery). Pete and Stevie took themselves off to browse the pet shop and look at the duck pond.

I was introduced to Meg and her co author, Kath Megaw (clinical dietician). They said that this book has been the most fun the write of anything they’ve writtten before, and I can understand that completely.

Their concern is that the amount of ‘noise’ around baby feeding and weaning (in the traditional sense of weaning baby onto solids and not off milk) has taken the fun out of the whole exercise. The whole book concentrates on both parent AND baby being involved with the weaning process – no force feeding baba pureés until they literally scream for no more, but rather giving them an interesting variety of complimentary foods and putting some of the enjoyment back into eating. Because who wants to be that person who doesn’t enjoy food?

The book categorises babies and toddlers into different types of personalities, and by understanding which ‘type’ your child is, you can learn to help them eat and experience food better. For example, there’s the slow-starting baby, who needs time to understand food instead of it just being shoved in their mouth. There’s also the settled baby, who is so laid back they’ll just go with the flow.

Each section of the book is accompanied by scientific research to back it up, and recipes (with beautiful pictures, of course!) to accompany each ‘stage’ of eating. The photography and recipes are truly beautiful – I will not be waiting for baby no 2 to arrive and start solids before attempting the quinoa beef meatballs! And, as a bonus, there’s a freezer guide for each section, too! For myself, with my 3 freezers (no joke, but one is full of dog food) this is VERY handy.

This is a commercial baby book, but the general feeling is to take the business out of it, and to strip the whole experience back so parent and baby both have fun experimenting with new textures and tastes. If you only buy it just for the recipes, it’ll be so worth it.

The book Weaning Sense is available at Takealot and in select Exclusive Books stores. Meg Fauré is a renowned Occupational Therapist, and Kath Megaw is a clinical dietician and contributor to Nutripaeds. BubHub is based in Broadacres Mall, near Fourways, Johannesburg.

A little bit ‘taboo’

So here’s something only my friends know about me…

I’m still breastfeeding my toddler. Yup, you heard it right, my two-year-old still latches herself onto my (sore, swollen) nipples every night before bed. Now, she doesn’t fall asleep on there anymore (apart from last night, since she’s poorly), she just has a 5 min comfort suckle.

Why does nobody know about this, you may ask? Because it’s still, somehow, taboo.

Baby needed boobie, apparently

Just this week, I’ve had judgement. Mostly, it comes from people who are ‘concerned’ that Stevie is too old for her boobie. Well, in the words of my lovely hubby, if she was too old, she wouldn’t have it any more. These are the worst kinds of people. There is no basis to this claim, other than it makes them feel uncomfortable. I do have an issue with this – Stevie only feeds at bedtime, these days, and barely then, so who, exactly, is it offending? It’s nobody’s business how I put her to bed.

The other type of people are genuinely concerned about the safety of breastfeeding whilst pregnant. Some people, not incorrectly, are curious whether I still have milk left for her. Well the straight answer is ‘no.’ My body has been producing colostrum since 13 weeks (I travelled for a job, so had the luxury of seeing what I expressed). And it’s perfectly safe to feed whilst pregnant, as long as you have a healthy, low risk pregnancy. I have been very lucky, both times now, to carry children with ease. Long story short, if you can have sex, you can breastfeed.

Stevie’s first latch

Breastfeeding was the most wonderful child-rearing tool for me, with Stevie. It’s something just she and I have to share, it’s all ours, and I hope to have the same experience with the growing babby. It also helped me to lose all my breastfeeding weight and be back in shape by 6 months post partum.

6 months PP

I’m sharing this story because it was World Breastfeeding Week recently, and I wasn’t sure how to say what I wanted to. But here it is. I’m proudly breastfeeding a toddler while I’m pregnant. So there!

All breastfeeding information can be found on the Kelly Momand La Leche League websites.

Sick toddlers

We got back to Joburg today, after spending all of yesterday and last night in Parys (with my mum and my youngest sister, Georgia – otherwise known as ‘Wildlife Sister.’)

But lo and behold, of course Stevie decides to get poorly. A 24-hour bug, falling directly over those 24 hours we’re away from home.

Call me a bad mum, call me what you want, but she didn’t eat and she was vomitting water and cattargh (sorry for those with sensitive stomachs). Pete had a couple of things to keep an eye on at home, so it fell to myself and Hollie (‘Yoga Sister’) to drive the 1.5 hours with a vomitting baby. And of course, the thought of leaving her at home did cross my mind, but I didn’t. She was so looking forward to seeing Nana Berny (or Nana Burby, in toddler-speak) and ‘Georda’ and My-Chew (Michael) that I couldn’t say no. And besides, she had a cold – a bit of excitement should take her mind off it, right?

She dozed uncomfortably the whole way there, waking up periodically for water. And she was extremely excited to see Nana Burby. But the excitement lasted all of about 10 minutes, until she realised Nana Burby was holding her instead of Mummy. And so began the rest of the day…

We went to see some cheetahs – usually Stevie’s favourite pastime ever – and she got bored within 20 mins. She giggled a bit when they hissed at her, but all too soon the tiredness set in and we went back to Nana’s.

Auntie Lollipop (Yoga Sister) didn’t get a look in. We got the wrong flavour Panado, so I had some sport trying to get it down her throat. She hurled up her Zinplex and sent (yes, she sent them) Nana and Yoga Sister to the shop to get her crisps and rusks.

She perked up a bit in the evening, but of course woke up every 3 hours or so annoyed because she couldn’t breathe through her nose. Mummy was very tired. Typical, 24-hour-bug hits when we go away.

This morning we left Parys at 9.30am. And of course, after a lie-in (by her standards) Stevie wakes up happy as Larry, ready to “go home and see Daddy and Cleo and Spoo.”

Little s**t. Of course, she’s fine today…