Hello.

Hello... You may be thinking, how is this blog any different to the millions of blogs out there... well, I have created a unique site, unique to me (my pregnancy, my delivery & finally motherhood) which will continue to expand on my experiences, new ideas, challenges & successes along the way! Hope you enjoy. Feel free to look around :)
When scrolling down to the bottom of the screen, don't forget to click Older Posts to see what's on the next page!

A Toddler's Diet!

I am currently, and actually have been for a while, in this phase of trying to get my child to eat! Not an easy task. He really used to eat SO well... then we went on vacation, he had his first birthday, the grandparents spoilt him and... I came back with a fussy eater.

With the help of Andalene Salvesen (AKA Super Granny) my son is back to eating super healthy scrumptious meals most of the time. Her ideas have been fantastic, and I'd love to share with you some of my favourite recipes...

A complete breakfast for a toddler: Smoothie!!!

Put into the blender:
1 x banana
A small handful of mixed berries (I use blue berries & raspberries)
1 x heaped Table spoon crushed almonds
1 x heaped Table spoon crushed oats (I blend these ahead of time)
1 x heaped Table spoon plain full-fat yoghurt (or a bit more depending on the size of the fruit)
A touch of full-fat goat milk

Blend & Pour into a cup with a straw. Make sure there are no lumps and that the consistency is smooth and easy to drink through the straw.

If your little one is used to sweet, sugary foods, try adding a spoon of honey to the smoothie, and slowly wean them off.

The great thing about this smoothie is that it's filled with energy, protein & carbs all in one! Also, the dairy intake is LOW which is great!


Next on the menu...
Lunch: Delicious Broccoli Pancakes

Mix together:
1x cup water
1x cup pancake mix
pinch of cinnamon
1/2 cup broccoli puree
(Fresh broccoli in bulk - steam - puree - 1/2 cup portions in freezer bags - freeze - defrost in warm water when ready to use)

Batter should be lumpy
Spray a pan with non-stick cooking spray
Spoon 1/4 cup portions of batter onto the pan
Cook until lightly brown
Serve with a dash of *HONEY*



Yummy!



What the heck is in our baby products?

Ever wondered what's inside the toiletries we use on a daily basis? Well it's time to take a look and see what potentially harmful ingredients are commonly being used by the personal care industry, particularly in... our baby products!

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or Sodium Laureth Sulfate

It's used as a detergent, that will cause a product to foam and bubble.
How is it harmful? SLS/SLES's are known to irritate the scalp eyes and skin, and cause hair loss & damage to teeth. Studies on lab animals show evidence that SLS's damage the reproductive system, liver, lungs and immune system and may mimic estrogen. SLS's can be stored in the brain, liver, heart and lungs.
Where will I find it? SLS/SLES's are found in most commercial shampoos (including 'baby' shampoos), bubble bath, shower gel, cleansers, mouthwash and toothpaste (where the body gets its biggest dose of SLS/SLES's due to the mucus membranes in the mouth)

Ethanolamine

It's an ingredient used in skin and personal care products as solvents, emulsifiers and detergents. They fall into three categories: DEA - Diethanolamine, MEA - Monoethanolamine, TEA - Triethanolamine
How is it harmful? Ethanolamine's are "suspected of carcinogenic activity." In tests on lab animals they have been shown to cause tumors in the kidneys and liver, and can react with preservatives in toiletries to form other known carcinogens.
Where will I find it? Soaps, shampoos, bubble baths, lotions, cosmetics, sunscreens and hair colour.

Propylene Glycol (PEG)

It's a humectant (a substance used in toiletries and cosmetic products to help retain moisture)
How is it harmful? Propylene glycol has been shown to cause damage to the liver and kidney's, and can inhibit skin cell growth and cause dermatitis. If ingested it causes problems with the nervous system and gastro-intestinal tract. Propylene Glycol is rapidly absorbed through the skin and stored throughout the body.
Where will I find it? PEG is used in almost all shampoos and conditioners, toothpastes, deodorants, face creams, baby wipes, shaving gels, hair color and bleach; facial cleansers, styling gels and lotions, and body wash.

Propyl Alcohol

It's added to toiletries as an antiseptic and a binding agent.
How is it harmful? Alcohol acts as a solvent and particularly when used in mouth wash and oral care greatly increases the risk of oral cancers.
Where will I find it? Propyl Alcohol is used in shampoos, shaving products, waterless hand cleaners, cosmetics and in large quantities in mouthwash.

Methyl-methoxycinnamate

It's used in sun creams to absorb UVB and some UVA rays.
How is it harmful? By absorbing rather than reflecting light rays (as safe mineral sunscreens do) research suggests that new toxic chemical compounds are formed in the skin which may cause the skin to become sensitized. UV light may then be delivered to and damage DNA, potential causing cancer.
Where will I find it? Sunscreens, and moisturizers with Sun Protection Factor.

Toulene

It's a solvent.
How is it harmful? Toulene is a very Volatile Organic Compound. Acute exposure can irritate the nose, throat, and eyes, and cause headaches, loss of consciousness, and death. Chronic exposure can cause mutations, damage developing fetuses, and damage the liver, kidneys, brain, and bone marrow.
Where will I find it? Toulene shows up in most perfume, nail polish and nail polish remover.

Benzene

It's a petrochemical which is a solvent.
How is it harmful? Benzene is a very Volatile Organic Compound which is classified as a carcinogenic. Long-term exposure to high levels of benzene can decrease red blood cells, leading to anemia, it can also affect the immune system and in extreme cases cause leukemia. Short-term exposure to high levels of benzene by inhalation affect the central nervous system, and can cause dizziness, rapid breathing, tightness of the chest, tremors, rapid heart rate, sleepiness, convulsions, paralysis and coma.
Where will I find it? Benzene is used in most perfumes, nail polish and nail polish removers.

Talc

It's a fine powder and is chemically similar to asbestos.
How is it harmful? The use of talc-containing feminine sprays & powders used in the genital area have been linked to an increased risk of ovarian cancer. Inhalation of talc causes irritation to the respiratory system.
Where will I find it? Baby powders, feminine powders, condom lubricants, and in cosmetics.

Parabens

Are used to prevent the growth of bacteria and as a preservative in a wide range of personal care products.
How is it harmful? Parabens are endocrine disrupter that mimic estrogen and have been linked to breast cancer and reproductive system defects. They can easily be absorbed into the blood stream and are especially dangerous for babies in utero when used by pregnant mothers.
Where will I find it? Shampoos, body and face creams, deodorants, condoms, baby lotions, bath products, facial cleanser, some sunscreens SPF 15 and above, conditioner, hair color and bleach, eye shadow, foundation and other cosmetics.

Synthetic Fragrances

Synthetically manufactured 'scents'.
How are they harmful? Synthetic musks can cause irritation to the throat, nose and eyes, cause allergies, trigger headaches, migraines, and asthma attacks. The biggest issue is that synthetic musks act as toxic enhancers by debilitating the cells natural ability to defend against toxic substances. Synthetic musks are most likely in products that already contain toxic chemicals such as parabens and phthalates and, as enhancers the synthetic musks act in increasing the toxicity of these chemicals.
Where will I find it? Perfumes, body lotions, body wash, shaving foam, conditioner, shampoo, toothpaste, cosmetics and styling treatments.

Mineral oil

It's a derivative of crude oil
How is it harmful? Mineral oil blocks the pores of the skin hindering normal respiration by keeping the oxygen out, as a result trapping toxins. Mineral Oil exacerbates skin disorders such as eczema.
Where will I find it? Mineral oil is found in many products including baby oil and bath and body oils.
Also known as: PARAFFIN OIL, PARAFFIN WAX, PETROLATUM, MINERAL OIL JELLY, LIQUID VASELINE, PARAFFINUM, LIQUIDUM, BABY OIL

Phthalates

Are chemicals added to personal care products to give substances a 'smooth' effect and to help the fragrance last longer.
How are they harmful? Phthalates are endocrine disruptor's. Health issues related to toxic phthalates include increased risk of miscarriage, male reproductive development impairment such as undescended testicles, enlarged prostates and reduced sperm count, and early onset puberty in girls. These reproductive abnormalities increase the risk of cancer in later life such as breast and prostate cancer. Toxic phthalates have also been shown to cause liver and kidney damage.
Where will I find it? Nail polish, especially chip-resistant polish. Fragrances, phthalates are often used as part of the "fragrance" in some products but most probably won't be listed separately, as it will just fall under the umbrella of 'fragrance' or 'parfum' on the ingredients list. To avoid it choose toiletries and personal care products that don't have the word "fragrance" on the ingredients list. Phthalates are often found in personal care products, including deodorants, perfumes and cologne, aftershave lotions, shampoos, hair gels, hand lotions and insect repellent.
Also known as: PARFUM

Triclosan

It's a synthetic chemical that is anti-bacterial and anti-microbial.
How is it harmful? Triclosan is a close relation of dioxin, which is the most potent synthetic animal carcinogen ever tested,. Lab studies link triclosan to cancer, developmental defects, and liver and inhalation toxicity. Triclosan may also affect the thyroid and other hormone systems. This powerful antibacterial and anti-microbial causes genetic mutations in bacteria and viruses, producing new stains for which the human immune system has no defense. Triclosan is not only dangerous to human health but also to the environment, when flushed into waterways it contaminates streams and is toxic to wildlife.
Where will I find it? Hand wash, toothpaste, & deodorants.

Formaldehyde

It's used in toiletries as a disinfectant or preservative.
How is it harmful? Formaldehyde is a irritant and a suspected human carcinogenic. Formaldehyde can irritate the eyes, nose and throat and may trigger asthma attacks.
Where will I find it? As a preservative formaldehyde can be found in a huge range of personal care products including face and body creams, shampoos, toothpaste, nail polish, cosmetics, perfumes and fragrances.

Glycerin

It's used as a solvent and plasticiser.
How is it harmful? Draws moisture from the lower layers of the skin and holds it on the surface, which dries the skin from the inside out.


You may think I'm just getting carried away with all this information... but it's important to remember that anything which goes onto the skin is absorbed into the blood stream! 

Toxic and chemical free products can be pricy, but during those key times in life: conception, pregnancy, babies, children & teens who have developing reproductive systems, it may be better to go without and ensure your every day toiletries are safe from harm!

For more info visit http://www.littleacornstomightyoaks.co.uk

New/Expecting Mom in Dubai?

Contact Cecile DeScally
050 694 7938
cecilemidwife@yahoo.com

Book your antenatal classes with her!
Find out more about doctors/midwives/hospitals in Dubai?
Questions on the birth/new born care?
Practical steps to breast feeding successfully!
Help with sleeping through the night!
HOME VISITS :)

Shelley - She is the BEST 'baby' contact I have in Dubai & an absolute must-have on speed dial!

Breast Feeding, Goats Milk & Schedules


I was planning to breast feed for atleast a year, but at 10 and a half months, my little one decided he'd had enough! And just like that he 'weaned' himself off breast milk and took straight to the bottle.
I'm not a big formula fan, and neither is he, so I spoke to a homeopath/nutritionist about my options and decided to go with Organic Oat milk. WOW! My son LOVED it. Around his first birthday we went on vacation for 7 weeks and unfortunately I wasn't able to get Oat milk there. So we tried Organic Rice milk (which he didn't like) but in the end resorted to Lactose free cow's milk. However, as soon as we got home he went straight back to the Organic Oat milk. A month later there was no Oat milk to be found in Dubai (very frustrating) but I was determined not to give in to cows milk so I tried him on Organic Goat's milk... YEAY! He loved it and has now been drinking Goats milk ever since!

WHY am I so persistent in NOT giving my child cow's milk or formula based on cow's milk ???
Is my child intolerant to dairy? Nope
Has my child developed any allergies? No and he shouldn't!

So why???

MANY reasons... 

Cow's have a TOTALLY different digestive system to humans, and it's very difficult for a baby/child's digestive system to break down the protein in cow's milk. 
The path that transforms healthy milk products into what we buy from the grocery store begins with modern feeding methods that substitute high-protein, soy-based feeds for fresh green grass and breeding methods to produce cows with abnormally large pituitary glands so that they produce three times more milk than the old fashioned cow. These cows need antibiotics to keep them well.
Their milk is then pasteurized so that all valuable enzymes are destroyed. In fact, dozens of other precious enzymes are destroyed in the pasteurization process. Without them, milk is very difficult to digest. The human pancreas is not always able to produce these enzymes; over-stress of the pancreas can lead to diabetes and other diseases.
The recent approval of the use of BGH (Bovine Growth Hormone) by dairy farmers to increase their milk production only worsens the already scary picture! BGH causes an increase in (IGF-1) which survives milk pasteurization AND our intestinal digestion. It can be directly absorbed into the human blood stream, particularly in INFANTS! This has also been linked to the promostion of human breast cells to cancerous forms. IGF-1 is also a growth factor for already cancerous breast & colon cancer cells, promoting their progression and invasiveness.
Dairy products are a huge cause of ear infections, sinus problems, asthma, colds, runny noses... in both infants and children! Infact, a lot of them develop allergies & intolerances to dairy!
But what about calcium??? It is possible to obtain ALL your calcium from dark vegetables... such as cooked collard greens and kale etc.
So there we have it... Goat's milk is a fantastic alternative!
It's protein forms a softer curd which makes the protein more easily and rapidly digestible. Goats milk also contains lower levels of lactose and contains 13% more calcium than cow's milk! So In theory, goat's milk is less allergenic and more easily digestible than cow's milk!
Our 1 year old's routine...

7:00am Wake up & bottle of Organic Goat's milk
8:00am Breakfast 
9:00am Down for a nap (90min) small bottle of Organic Goat's milk
10:30am Snack with small bottle of VERY diluted juice/water
             Play time
1:00pm Lunch
2:00pm Down for a nap (90 min) small bottle of Organic Goat's milk
3:30pm Snack with small bottle of VERY diluted juice/water
            Play time
6:00pm Dinner 
6:30pm Bath time with daddy
7:00pm Bed time & bottle of Organic Goat's milk

Traveling on a plane:


Traveling solo, on a plane, with a baby is a daunting task, BUT, having done it a couple times now, I've learnt a few things along the way.

Traveling with a baby under 6 months:
My son was 4 months old when he flew overseas for the first time. It was just him & I... and 12 hours of traveling! This was probably the easiest flight I've had with him, and I was as prepared as I could be for EVERYTHING I could think of happening at an airport or on a plane!

I booked my flight well in advance which ensured a Basinet seat on the plane. This is essential for traveling with a young baby. My son napped happily in the basinet, with his comfy blankets, and during 'play time' I propped him up with pillows so he could sit and face all the other passengers whilst playing with his toys. This really fascinated him, and kept him busy enough for me to glance through a few magazines and watch a film in 20min slots!

When checking in my luggage, I insisted on keeping my stroller with me until I boarded the plane - Best decision ever! Trying to get to the boarding gate with a baby, baby bag, and small trolly bag would have been a nightmare without my *Quinny*. When you get to the boarding gate, ask if there's any space on the plane to put your stroller onboard (ie. an empty business or first class seat). This will ensure than when you reach your destination, your stroller will be ready and waiting for you when you step off the plane - an absolute NECESSITY! If not it will go into the hold and you will only get it when you collect your bags on the baggage conveyor belt. DON'T forget about your stroller when collecting all your other bags!

During take off and landing I had to keep my baby bag in the overhead compartment, but for the rest of the time I had it on the floor underneath the basinet for easy access!

What went in my hand luggage:
Passports (in an easy to reach zip-up compartment)
My wallet
Elizabeth Arden's 8 hour cream 
A small toiletry bag containing mints, lipgloss, hair brush, deo, pair of socks & an extra t-shirt for me (JUST INCASE)
Bottle of water

Now for the little one:
8 x Disposable nappies (he only used about 6, but be on the safe side)
Changing mat
Pack of wipes
Pack of tissues
Hand sanitizer
4 x extra Outfits ( a handy tip: have each outfit wrapped separately in a zip lock bag. Makes them easy to reach & keeps free from spills!)
4x Bibs
2x Burp cloths
2x Dummies (NUK ;)
1x thin Cotton blanket
1x heavier Woolen blanket
1x pair of Socks

Don't forget the meds:
Infacol (great for trapped wind, gripes, colic etc)
Tylenol (pain & fever)
Syringe
I was advised to give a dosage of pain relief (Tylenol) prior to take-off and landing which really helped to prevent any ear pain, and enabled my son to sleep wonderfully onboard!

Entertainment:
The toys I found best for this age were: rattles, shakers, tactile stimulating books (ie. fabric books), teething toys, bright & colourful toys which they can hold.


Traveling with a 1 year old (aka MOBILE baby):

Book a basinet seat... you will NEED the leg room for all the toys & gear required!
Our flight was completely FULL so I'm glad I had the basinet seat. He was still small enough to have his naps in it! He was too big, however, to sit in it so I used the leg room infront of me,  lay down a blanket and created a mini play area for him. I tried to block his escape to the aisles with my big baby bag. He was quite content to play in the little area I'd created for him for quite some time. When he got bored, I sat him on my lap and let him play with the pull-up tv screen and remote! This was very exciting for him! Occasionally he would lean over and pause the film on the screen of the passenger next to us. Fortunately, she didn't mind :) When he'd had enough of the remote, the tv and all of his toys, I'd let him have a stroll down the aisles. 

Rules for wandering down aisles:
An occasional stroll down the isle, be it crawling or walking, should be fine IF you abide by the following 'unwritten' guidelines:
1) Make sure there aren't any cabin crew in the isles doing their rounds. Preferably wait until the food/drinks have been served and everyone's sitting down.
2) Don't allow your little one to scream or shout. This isn't the time for 'chasing' them down the aisle.
3) Be sensitive to the other passengers, don't let your little one linger next to their seat or outside the bathroom door.
4) When the seatbelt sign goes on, sit down with your little one and get strapped in.

Entertainment:
At this age, babies get bored VERY quickly, so the idea is to have a variety of toys that are light enough to carry in your baby bag, and don't take up much room. 
Put away a few of your child's favourite toys a week before, and save them for the flight! He/she will be thrilled to see them again :)
Stacking cups (such as those from ELC) are a fabulous choice PLUS they all fit into one another! 
Items that are cheap, noise-free and disposable make GREAT distractions for those looooooong hours on a plane!
- box of colourful straws
- an old newspaper (so much fun tearing it up!)
- bracelets/bangles from a 1 dollar store (who doesn't like playing with jewelry?)
- mini torch
-colouring book & crayons
- puppets
- zip lock bags filled with various little toys/snacks etc.

Do your best to keep your child on your seat, on the floor next to you or in the basinet, but don't stress or get anxious. If your little one starts to get fidgety and needs a break or change of scenery, go for a walkabout. You can't please everyone, so just try to be sensitive and just do what you can :)

Don't forget your little one's favourite blanket, dummy, bottle & sleep soother (ie. bunny)

Happy Traveling :)


Traveling with an 18 month old:


Soooo he's a little too heavy and long for the bassinet, HOWEVER, one could still probably do with the extra leg room :) I've decided to go ahead and book the bassinet seat for myself anyway! Once again I'm traveling on my own and this time I'll have not just a little crawler, but a super fast walker!!! The chances of getting a vacant seat next to me are slim pickings! So probably best I stick with the seat that has a 'play area' (aka bathroom waiting area) and of course a touch of roominess by my feet and of the passengers sitting next to us ;) So bassinet seat it is!

Ok, I am officially over how things LOOK! This was once VERY high on my priority list of baby gear... but been there and done that too many times. I was lucky in the beginning and my darling *Quinny* travelled first class upfront. But the last couple of trips where my poor darling had to go with the rest of the luggage in cattle class, leaving me arriving at our destination carrying a baby, baby bag, trolly bag & all the paraphernalia that would have gone into my stroller (which was somewhere at the bottom of the plane)... well enough said! Those fabulous Quinnys, Bugaboos & 4x4 lookalikes are NOT meant for traveling overseas! They are FANTASTIC for baby's first year, and I wouldn't have survived without mine, but with the traveling schedule I have ahead of me, I'm ready for something simple, light & practical. Hopping from plane to train to bus to taxi requires the least amount of luggage as possible!

So the new stroller (buggy) search began. Picked up a great one at Baby Shop. Nothing fancy but it does the trick and works well with our little toddler! So now that that's sorted, lets move on...

What to pack???

I always take too much but fear the day I don't take everything, I'll need it all! But this time I'm really going to limit my 'on board' luggage to the bare minimum.

Check your schedule and work out how many nappies and outifts you will need. At 18months, I'd say a nappy for every 3 hours and 2-3 outfits (for an 8 hour flight). Again, don't bother with outfits that require buttons, zips or anything that requires time and effort. Simple slip on t-shirts &  trousers are hassle-free! Planes are DIRTY so dress your little one appropriately. Keep those sunday best clothes for when you get to your destination. Keep nappies, wipes & new outfits handy! A great tip I was given: pack whole outfits (nappy included) into zip lock bags. Pull out one ziplock bag at a time for when you need it. This also protects from spills and leaks! You can never be too prepared. My last flight began with a 1L carton of milk leaking over everything in my baby bag at the boarding gate! The flight hadn't even started!!

Make sure you take enough drinks and snacks with you! Your little one probably wont fancy the bottled baby food he'll be served on board, so think this one through! Now's not the time to introduce new foods. Pack foods you know your baby will eat, and foods that don't require a high chair! At this age, wholesome finger snacks are a good idea! Such as...
Raisins, fresh fruit pieces, dried fruit pieces, muesli, cheese squares, finger sandwiches, sliced vegetables, crackers/biscuits, potato wedges etc.
Foods such as yoghurt, casserole, soup etc. could be quite tricky on a bumpy plane!

Keep in mind your baby can quickly dehydrate, so stock up on fluids. I have never had a problem taking 1L cartons of milk on a plane. I always take extra fluids, just incase! The last thing you need is for your only bottle to spill! Then what? They may carry extra snacks on board, but formula, goat milk or baby fruit juice wont be found unless you bring it with you! Ceres do a fantastic kid's range of rooibos & fruit juice mixes. These are great to dilute with water! They come in baby size cartons as well :)


Extras...
Blanket, Fluffy (sleep prop), Dummy, Bottles!
Black shawl. (Reason, last time my son woke up whenever the lights came on. I'm hoping this shawl will help block out the light)
Meds: Infacol (tummy aches/gas etc.) & Panadol/Calpol/Stopyn (fever/ear aches/SLEEP etc.)
Wipes & Tissues
My personal items: wallet, lip gloss, Elizabeth Arden's 8 hour cream & passport

Last but not least... Entertainment!

At this age, the mini tv screen should come in handy and may keep your toddler occupied for hours! Yeay!
You could do what I did last... take a couple of your toddler's favourite toys the week before the flight, and then reintroduce them onboard!
Better yet, take disposable toys with you. I was forever running after my son's toys on our last flight - not fun! This time I'm taking toys that I don't have to go searching for when everyone's rushing to get off the plane. If they break or get lost... who cares! You don't need to be stressing about losing your child's favourite toy on a flight! Prioritise moms!!!

So, what will I look like arriving at Dubai airport?

Very cool, calm and collected as I will have everything super organized! (Again, as organized as humanly possible ;)
- Simple, snap-shut stroller with happy toddler in it ;)
- 1 x trolley bag which I'll take on board. I plan not to have to use anything onboard that goes into this bag. It's just for safe keeping items! And an extra t-shirt for me JUST INCASE!
- 1 x large baby bag with EVERYTHING I need onboard in it!!!
- Check in luggage

Bon Voyage!

Planning the Ultimate Baby Shower


When planning a shower, CHECK LIST's (with timelines!) are essential! For the sake of your sanity, don't try to plan one without them! 
And if you are anything like me, as soon as my bestie falls pregnant, I automatically start thinking of ideas for the 'perfect' baby shower for her. The "for her" part is the most crucial part of that sentence. When it's YOUR shower you have full rights to make it all about YOU. But when planning a shower for someone else, think of THEM, and what would make THEM feel comfortable, happy and above all... special!

Where to start??? 

Decide on WHO will be planning the shower
Are you going to do it on your own? Or are there friends or family members who may want to pitch in and help? Remember that a shower can be quite an expensive little gathering, so splitting the costs may come in handy down the line. 

Decide on a DATE & TIME
But before you do, talk to the "expectant mommy or daddy" and possibly the "expectant grandmother" too. Find out what day and 'time of the day' suits them. It can still be a surprise, but this information might be very helpful for you.
These days parties happen any time, both day and night, weekdays and weekends. Keep in mind who the guests are (business woman who work long hours, busy moms with lots of kids etc. etc.)
With regards to the timing of the party, take into account how much time will be required to set everything up. A Saturday afternoon or late morning is usually a great time to have it! Also think about how long the party will go on for. 2 hours is generally a reasonable length of time. There is always a lot of hype, laughter and cheer at baby showers (which is great). But, any longer than 2-3 hours and your guests or expectant mommy may fall asleep. 

Select a THEME
If you already know the sex of the baby than that is quite helpful. But either way, the options are endless... you could go with the theme of the baby's nursery (which is a subtle yet ideal way of letting the guests know what type of gifts to buy), or something completely random. You could have a party that is totally cute with the most adorable baby decor OR you could go in the opposite direction and have a bit of a 'hen's night' vibe! I've been to all kinds of showers... one that had over 50 guests and everyone was baby-crazy, and another that had 12 guests who weren't interested in baby's at all (but we were served caviar & champagne!!!) 
So again, think of the "expectant mommy" and the setting in which she'd feel most comfortable, happy and above all... special!
Having a theme is VERY helpful for you when it comes down to the invites, decor, snacks etc. So get set on a theme before moving on!

Establish the 'ever important' GUEST LIST
But prior to this, establish whether or not spouses are invited. Most likely it will just be for the ladies, but once again, check with the "expectant mommy" first! To avoid leaving someone out, ask the "expectant mommy" for a list of people she'd like to have (ie. family members, friends, coworkers etc.) Make sure to have both their email addresses and mobile numbers!
Decide whether children are allowed to attend, and feel free to say no! It's totally up to the hostess of the party. However, it you decide to let children attend, make sure you have loads of extra food and something for them to do!

Decide on a BUDGET

Determine a realistic and reasonable budget. The cost of a baby shower depends on how many guests are invited, where it is held, what kind of snacks & beverages you'll provide, the type of invitations, decor, games & prizes there will be... and on it goes! This is where co-hosting helps as you can split the costs 50/50.

Choose a LOCATION
It's very common for the 'event organizer' (yourself) to host the party in your home. This saves you from hiring a place! However, it all depends on the 'feel' and 'vibe' you're wanting to create. It's not unusual to have it at a hotel or restaurant, in a park under a tree or even in the "expectant mommy's" home! Think about the atmosphere, noise level, parking, space etc. 

Decide on the FOOD & BEVERAGES
When making your decision, take into account the following:
How many guests are coming?
What time of day is the party?
How much time do you have to prepare?
The location of the party?
The theme of the party?
What type of guests are coming? (The chip & dip kind or the shrimp cocktail kind? Know your guests and plan your menu accordingly!)
Who will prepare the food? (Yourself, bring & share, caterers etc?)

Create and send out the INVITATIONS
This is the first impression of the baby shower your guests will have, so think about what you want to ay and how you want the invite to look/. Evites are very common, as are facebook invites.
Important information to include:
Date
Start & end time
Location with directions or a map
Theme of the party 
When & where to RSVP
Your contact details
What to bring (ie. if it's a bring & share, or if they need to bring something to participate in a game (baby photo) etc.)
The "expectant mommy's gift registry or gift list
Lastly, if the party is a SURPRISE make sure to really emphasize it!!!

Decide what you will need to buy/borrow/steal for the party
Cups & Saucers, Glasses, Plates, Cutlery, Serving Spoons, Serving Trays, Hot Plates, Table cloths, Napkins, Tables, Chairs, Lighting etc. 
Decorations!!! For the table, walls, front door, "expectant mommy's" chair, etc.(flowers, balloons and diaper cakes are always a winner!)
Games & Prizes!!! Again the options are endless, just google it!
Party Favours??? (Very traditional and very American... all depends on the budget and the 'feel' of the party!)
Name tags for the guests???

Arrange for someone to BRING the "expectant mommy"! (And possibly a suitcase for all her gifts!)

If you can prepare the food and decorate the room the day before, that will help to relieve you of some unwanted stress!

YOUR check list for the day of the shower:
Check the weather forecast  - You can never be too prepared ;)
RSVP list
Clear parking area for guests 
Camera (fully charged)
Video camera (fully charged)
A specific chair for the "expectant mommy"
A place in the room for all the gifts!
Clean guest bathroom (with enough toilet paper - what is with pregnant woman ;)
Paper & pen to record each gift and who it's from
AC (if you live in Dubai)
Music... this will help you relax in those crazy moments before everyone arrives!
Set the table - Snacks & Drinks
Games & prizes

Now ENJOY yourself ;)

Baby Showers 101

My next series of posts will be all about BABY SHOWERS... so if you're going to be attending one, hosting one or on the receiving end of one, forward this to all your friends and watch this space!

When buying a gift? 
Your BEST bet is to find out if there's a gift registry or gift list. Buying off their registry/list is the SAFEST option as you know that whatever you get will be useful & appreciated! If there isn't a list, use the following questions to guide you in your gift buying...
is it a boy or girl? 
is it their first baby? 
what colour is the nursery? 
is there a theme to the party? 
what hasn't the mom bought yet?

Buying a gift for a first-time mom? 
First-time moms are often the easiest to buy for... what doesn't a first-time mom need? See the post 'New Baby Check List' for ideas. However, if you're new to this or have been out of the 'baby thing' for quite some time you might not have heard of half the items on the list! Going into a baby shop can be quite daunting for some, as there's SUCH a large selection, one doesn't know where to begin!

Here is a list of items which I think make great baby shower gifts:
Something for the mom... a massage voucher, some new smellies, creams or bath oils, or even a good book! Something for her to enjoy!
Now for the little one... 
Bibs You just can't have enough, and don't waste your time getting bibs without plastic backings - pointless. Mothercare does a great pack of 10 white bibs with plastic backings. 
Baby Cheeks Reusable Nappies. Buy a beautiful starter pack (organic nappies & accessories) which the mom can add to with a wide variety of colours to choose from. Contact me for more details (shelleywatkinson@gmail.com)
Books There are so many to choose from... waterproof (great for bath time), texture & colour, 123, ABC's, animals etc.
Burp Cloths (unfortunately they don't have a better name :) VERY useful, especially in the early days. H&M do some really nice, small ones which fit perfectly over the shoulder.
Blankets, depending on the climate! If you're in a warm country, I wouldn't bother. However, if you're living in a cold country, they make a perfect gift, and you just can't have enough!
Clothing, atleast 6 months and up! I know the new born and 0-3 sizes look cuter, but EVERYONE else is buying them! So, why not buy an adorable outfit for the little one's first birthday? However, if you cannot resist, buy full length baby grows rather than onesies. (Ok, onesies are the ones without arms or legs! Babygrows are the ones with full arms & full legs). Most people buy onesies, but babygrows are better for cooler climates, or AC'd climates (such as Dubai) and can double up as pyjamas. 
Educational toys! Teddy bears are adorable to look at but not much fun for a baby discovering his world! Anything from the Early Learning Center would make an awesome gift! Just ask the sales assistance for some advice.
Hooded Towels Look for the heavy, fluffy ones! Mothercare have some luxurious individual hooded towels as well as packs of 3.
Keepsakes are very special. You can find quite a variety in Mamas & Papas (Mercato Mall) & BabyShop (Mall of the Emirates)
Music (CD's or even DVD's) Virgin Megastore has a great collection of songs and nursery rhymes for little ones.
Personalized Gifts are always a winner! Pottery Barn in Mirdif City Center and www.dubaibabies.com do some lovely ones.

Buying a gift for 2nd/3rd/4th time mom?
Again, first check to see if there is a gift list/registry. If not, then go for something different. By the 3rd of 4th child, the house is probably FULL of toys and baby products. So look for something new! Check to see if there's a new product on the market which the mom may not have had for her other babies. Once again, perhaps a gift for the mommy would be greatly appreciated! 

Risky gifts... 
1. Sayings on baby clothes (someone mind find it offensive if all your gifts insinuate their little baby is a terror!) Be mindful of the person receiving the gift when selecting clothes with sayings. 
2. A seriously avantgarde look or traditional attire belonging to YOUR home country. Again it all depends on how well you know the mom, but think about THEIR baby wearing the gift and NOT your own. 
3. It may seem obvious to some, but don't buy "BOYISH" gifts for a girl, and "GIRLY" gifts for a boy. Yes, some boys do wear pink, but not  frilly, floral hats! 
4. TOYS make wonderful gifts, but there are some which are a little tricky! Be mindful when buying LARGE gifts... you may find your gift on ebay the following month, especially if it's a 6ft stuffed giraffe (I am not speaking from experience ;). Just bear in mind It might look good in the shops but not necessarily when it takes up half of someone's living room! 
5.Toiletries... unless you know the brand she likes, rather wait to find out. Most mom's know which brands they like and often will prefer one over the other! If you really can't avoid buying toiletries, choose hypoallergenic products which are sensitive on baby's skin. 
6. Bottles, Sterilizer or Breast Pump ... again unless you're certain you know the brand the mom prefers!

Find out the deal on second hand items!
If you're a mom, you may well have LOADS of baby clothes or products which are still in excellent condition. I'm always surprised that there aren't more second hand gifts given at baby showers! Newborn clothes especially are hardly worn and often still look brand new by the time baby has outgrown them. If the mom you're buying for is open to second hand gifts, why don't you go through your baby's 'outgrown' collection and see what you can pass on. Often a baby will try out 3 or 4 different types of bottles before they find one that they like. Why not pass on the bottles that were only used once or twice? An unused blanket, toy, sterilizer, bottle warmer etc. I'm sure a lot of moms have some gifts which they never or hardly used.

Things You May Not Know About ROOIBOS...

What is it?

Rooibos is a special indigenous plant that has been used by South Africans for it's health and beauty properties for generations.

Why is it good for you?
Rooibos is completely pure and natural, and safe for all ages as it contains no additives, preservatives or colourants. The tea's soothing properties make it useful for people suffering from irritability, headaches, disturbed sleeping patterns, insomnia, nervous tension, mild depression or high blood pressure. 

Rooibos tea also has a very soothing effect on the digestive system, making it effective in treating mild nausea, vomiting, heartburn, indigestion and constipation, as well as colic and cramps in infants.

Because of it's soothing effects, Rooibos can also be used directly on the skin to relieve itching and irritation such as eczema, nappy rash, sunburn or insect bites.

It's soothing and antioxidant properties also make it a good face wash for treating oily skin.

Rooibos for Mom...
During Labour
Add fructose (a form of sugar) powder or syrup to a thermos of Rooibos tea and sip it throughout labour. It will relax you and help ensure that you have the stamina to pace yourself throughout labour and delivery.

Painful Perineum
Incase of pain or discomfort caused by an episiotomy or vaginal tear, brew a pot of strong Rooibos tea  and add it to a sitz bath with a handful of course salt. Sit in the sitz bath for at least 15 minutes. This will help to soothe the area.
You could also soak a flannel is strong, cold Rooibos tea and hold it against the perineum for 20 minutes.

During Breastfeeding
To help ensure a good flow of breast milk, keep up your liquid intake with at least 4 cups of Rooibos tea and 4 glasses of water a day. Drinking Rooibos tea, rather than caffeinated teas & coffees, will help to prevent and treat tummy cramps in a breastfed baby.

Cracked Nipples
To relieve sore and cracked nipples, air your breasts for 10 minutes after each feed. Then place a used Rooibos tea bag over the nipples. Leave on, inside the breast-pad until the next feed.

Rooibos for Baby...
Treating Colic
Rooibos tea can help to prevent and treat colic in babies. Offer baby 25ml to 50ml between feeds. If baby is nursing, give the tea using a syringe.

Soothing Skin Conditions
If baby has itchy, dry skin rashes, brew a strong pot of Rooibos and add it to baby's bath water. The rash should show marked improvement within a few days.
Rooibos baby products are available, to help prevent rashes.
Treat a small but persistent patch of rash with a moistened Rooibos tea bag

Treating Fever
If your baby suffers from frequent fevers, offer "ice lollies" made from a mixture of Rooibos tea & fresh fruit juice. Freeze the mixture in moulds. These lollies will help them to keep their liquid intake up, as well as cooling them down. They are also a good alternative to other treats.

TIP: For newborns with trapped gas


You feel helpless as your tiny baby stiffens and arches his back whilst crying out in pain. Newborns often suffer with trapped gas and their little bellies can feel hard as rock.

Advice I was given which worked wonders for my newborn's tummy cramps & trapped gas was to give the following mixture through a medicine pacifier:

1 tsp warm water (bottled water, previously boiled)
1 tsp Gripe Water
1 tsp Infacol

Remember to check with your doctor if you have ANY concerns about your little one's health!

Pampering Must Have's & Do's

I LOVED Victoria Beckham's book 'That Extra Half an Inch'. One of her chapters was entirely dedicated to Pregnancy & Post Pregnancy...

"Things have really become so much better within the past decade, thanks in no small part to labels like Juicy Couture and Seven who have started doing maternity clothes, proving that just because a woman gets pregnant doesn't mean she abandons her sense of style, and also that there is a huge market out their for nice maternity wear."

Some of VB's Pregnancy Love's...
  • Ponchos - they have room for your tummy, boobs and back!
  • Maternity jeans - yuck! So she makes her own by cutting V-shapes in the sides by the pockets and stitching in elastic.
  • Avoid buying into the cliche' of how a pregnant woman should dress (ie. frumpy tent dresses & smock tops)
  • Play up the parts of your body you feel fine about and be discreet with the parts you aren't so happy with.
  • Don't make ANY drastic appearances to your physical body, you're often very hormonal and not thinking straight!
  • Find ways to look, and more importantly feel confident about your appearance during pregnancy. 
  • The number one item every pregnant woman needs is a wrap dress!!!
  • It is essential that you get a good maternity bra!
  • This is one time in your life when little empire-line vests & tops work with a big bust.
  • Really, you just need your maternity clothes to be practical.
  • Indulge yourself with some beauty treatments!
  • Slathering yourself in really delicious body moisturizers will make you feel happier in your skin - and sexier - and can be a good way to help prevent stretch marks.
  • Massages are amazingly good for you too, as is the occasional facial.
  • During ALL her pregnancies, one product she really relied on was Elemis's Japanese Camellia Oil. One of the few aromatherapy oils you can put on yourself when pregnant. Apply to tummy, bottom, thighs and boobs!
  • Have loads of comfortable tracksuits & pyjamas to wear after giving birth.
VB's FAB Pampering Beauty Products...
  • Eight Hour Cream by Elizabeth Arden
  • Eight Hour Hand Cream by Elizabeth Arden
  • Shielding Lip Balm by Prada
  • Bubble bath by Radox
  • Paradise Found Body Scrub by Origins
  • Caviar Anti-Aging Conditioner by Alterna
  • Make-up by MAC & Bobbi Brown
  • Make-up brushes by MAC & Bobbi Brown
  • Nail polish by NARS
  • Instant Fake Tan by St.Tropez
  • Creme de Corps Nurturing Body Washing Cream by Kiehl's
  • Daily Moisturizers by Dermalogica, La Prairie & The Body Shop
  • Almond Coconut Milk Honey Bath & Body Cream by Laura Mercier
  • Super-rich Avocado Oil & Shea Butter Body Cream by Mama Mia
  • Exfoliating Gloves & Body Butter By The Body Shop
  • PERFUME!
My Own Pampering Must Have's & Do's...

I agree with treating and spoiling yourself wherever you can! Believe me, once the baby has arrived, it will be ALL about the baby, and not about the mommy ;)

My best treats were... a foot rub by my hubby, a full body pregnancy massage at the spa and the occasional prezzie for ME (and not the baby) ie. journals & note pads, body creams & moisturizers, make-up and flowers!!! Who doesn't like being spoilt?

Take the TIME to spoil yourself... often setting aside time JUST for you is a treat in itself. One of my favourite 'spoils' was a candlelit bubble bath, glass of wine, ferrero rocher chocolates & a good book! 

Reading in general (be it a mag, book or IKEA catalogue) was a 'spoil'. I didn't think it at the time, but NOW I do!

Sun tanning at the pool! Once baby arrives, days spent leisurely in the sun are few and far between.

Spring Cleaning! Some people find this fun... I am one of them! However, what used to take me a few days to do, can now take up to a month. I remember setting aside a whole day to declutter or revamp a room. There is no such thing as dedicating your whole day to any ONE thing when there's a baby around! 
Interruptions galore ;)

Start a hobby! Whether it's scrap booking or a low-impact sport. If you're fortunate enough to stay at home, or have the afternoons off, use your time wisely and invest in what I like to call 'ME time'. 

Fill in a pregnancy journal, update your facebook page with pics and scans, email friends and family, go out for coffees & movies, spend time with the girls and have loads of 'date nights' with hubby!

My ultimate FAVOURITE... decorate the nursery!!! I started designing my nursery wayyyy before I fell pregnant. I actually began gathering ideas when I first started studying Interior Design. I knew exactly what I had in mind, and thankfully hubby liked my taste! 
Doing up my first nursery brought me GREAT pleasure, and hours of fun! There's something quite therapeutic about folding away little clothes and shoes! And along with that buying ADORABLE little outfits... including the treasured Dior Shoes I bought about 5 years prior for my little girl, one day :)