Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Slung, with love

I've talked about baby wearing before. I find it much easier when it's just me and Ellie to wear her, rather than getting the pram and pushing it around. It's comforting for me to be able to talk to her and drop little kisses onto her head when the mood strikes. I also think its nicer for her to see things from my perspective as well. I already have the Ergo and a wrap (or two), but I've been curious about ring slings and when one of the sites I stalk had a sale, I couldn't resist.

Although I can tie the wrap that I have into carries similar to a ring sling, it's quite a long wrap (size 5) and I find that I have meters of fabric that I have to wrap around me and tie into decorative styles to keep from stepping on it. I then have to untie them when I want to make adjustments, which can get annoying. I just love the colour of this wrap though and it's my go to for doing back carries (Mr Fork prefers the Ergo for everything).

Rocking a robbins hip carry on one of our walks
I bought a linen Sakura Bloom ring sling. It is unpadded, comes in one size and is lovely and thin, so it folds up small, but it's also very supportive and I have no hesitation in carrying Ellie in it (she is about 9kg now at 13 months old). It doesn't have any patterns in the Irish linen fabric but they do come in a choice of colours. After much deliberation I chose twilight, which is a dark blue and I think is quite versatile to pair with a lot of my wardrobe (so vain). The photo below has a lot of sun coming in - it's not so light in person. I even got a tea sample with my order (I love freebies!).


I'd done a bit of research into the fabric type I wanted and I figured linen was a good choice, despite the crease factor. As it comes from flax, it's a nice strong, natural fibre that wears well and is supportive, definitely something you want when you're carrying a child in it! It is also antibacterial and has great wicking properties, both of which are fabulous features which you have an infant who will spill things and maybe overflow a cloth nappy on occasion. The fabric is breathable and dries quickly, perfect for hot Brisbane weather and for when it needs to be washed. It is a sewn ring sling, which means that the rings are built in. I'm ok with that as I'm not one of those who need to change patterns or wraps all the time anyway and I don't want to be messing around setting up my sling with a new wrap constantly. The rings on the Sakura Bloom are made from aluminium so they're very light and since they're continuous, also very sturdy.

I know that many people have said that wrapping is uncomfortable, but honestly, that hasn't been my experience. With the wraps and ring sling essentially being long bolts of material, they are really adjustable and easy to make them sit just the way you like it. It's sort of like origami-ing your baby onto you. Ellie looks really pensive below, but she was just fed up after a long day out. The colour is a fairly accurate representation. Unpadded, I still find it very comfortable, even for long periods of time, and it's easy to get Ellie positioned nice and snug.

Too tired to look at the camera mummy
Long story short? I love my Sakura Bloom ring sling. It's portable, easy to carry around 'just in case', and very simple to use. Ellie loves it and I love having both hands free while I carry her and not have to mess with the longer wrap. Win all around. I've found that the more I use it, the softer it's gotten, and it wasn't even all that stiff to begin with so I'm really looking forward to having it fully broken into delicious softness. 

What's your favourite way to take bub out and about?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Things I wish I'd known about cloth nappies from the beginning

I've mentioned before that we use modern cloth nappies (MCN) for Ellie. It was something I felt strongly about, so I took Mr Fork and myself off to an education class while I was still pregnant. It was an eye opener and very useful, but there are things I know now that I do wish I'd known from the start. Here goes:
  • They aren't that much more work than disposables. With a baby, there is lots of washing - clothes changes, burp cloths, bibs, sheets. What's a little extra work to throw in some nappies?
  • The thought of being up close and personal to bodily excretions may seem gross, but you're actually supposed to flush solids from disposables down the loo anyway (most people don't do this). After a few weeks, let's be honest, you're a parent, nothing is going to seem disgusting after you've seen it all, smelt it all and been covered with it too.
  • Try different brands and types of nappies. There are so many options: snap ins, pop ins, all in ones, all in twos, minky, PUL, sized, one-size-fits-most... and the thing is, you won't know until you try them which will suit your baby. They all have the same purpose, but some are better for tummy sleepers, some work better on chunky bubbas or at night, some are designed to wick away moisture faster or contain poosplosions... and what works well while they're a newborn might not work a few months (or weeks!) later.
  • There is nothing wrong with buying second hand. After all, I keep telling Mr Fork, these things are just pretty poop catchers! As with anything though, do your research. Know what the going rate is for brands and types and quality. Learn what the acronyms sellers like to use mean, and ask questions. Make sure you get full disclosure about any stains, smells, crunchiness etc. Buy from a trusted source where the sellers have some kind of verification and safeguards in place. Of course, this means that you could sell yours off when you're done too. There is a genuine market for these items.
What's not to love about a cute fluffy custom butt?
  • Strip wash. Especially if you're buying second hand. This term is thrown around a lot but it took me awhile to figure out how to do it right. Essentially it's a washing process to help break down any buildup in the nappies and assist in getting rid of stains or smells. If the nappies stop being absorbent or start to stink - it's time for a strip wash. It's also the sort of thing that you only do a few times a year. You do a wash using plain old dish washing detergent in warm water, then rinse, rinse, and rinse some more until there are no more bubbles.
  • Sun! Oh my, the sun is your friend. It gets rid of some truly heinous stains. Sun those nappies well because along with being a fabulous stain remover, it's also a great sanitiser and the fresh air makes those babies smell fresh. (On this point too, don't use a drier. It is not your friend although you'll wish it was as you desperately try to dry nappies during rainy winter weather!)
  • Nappy safe products. Nothing will ruin your (admittedly sizable) investment faster than using the wrong products. MCN are quite sensitive. You don't need to use a nappy cream as this can create a barrier in the inserts to stop them absorbing wetness. If you do feel the need to use something, make sure it doesn't contain zinc. I like MooGoo. Washing powders - you don't really need them, just plain water and sun will do the trick. If, like me, it's habit, make sure you use one without enzymes, as that deteriorates the plastic waterproof coating and rots the elastics. I use Aware, or Rockin Green. Canestan is also handy for killing any nasties.
  • On the topic of cleaning, something like a Little Squirt will be your friend. I held off getting one for ages because I was outraged by the price. I couldn't believe my luck when I saw one pop up on my local Freecycle group. Now I couldn't live without it. If you're handy, I've also heard of people making their own, and it really does make fast work of cleaning out nappies.
  • Hang them right. I mentioned elastics earlier, well you want them to last. So don't stretch them when you hang those nappies. Hang your nappies lengthwise to avoid putting unnecessary strain on them.
So many small, cute things in this picture!
So share with me, what kind of nappies do you use? What influenced your choice? Anything you would change? Any questions I can answer about cloth nappies?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Cussons Mum&Me New Mum Stretch Mark Fader review

I'm not sure with a one year old that I qualify as a "new" mum anymore, but I do love to review things, so when Cussons sent me their New Mum Stretch Mark Fader to try out, I jumped at the opportunity.


I was relatively lucky with my pregnancy, I didn't get terribly large and actually, one of Mr Fork's favourite things to do was to rub my growing belly with various lotions and creams as I got bigger. It helped that Ellie dutifully kicked at him every time he did that. So I was kept lovely and moisturised throughout pregnancy although I did get crazily itchy as my skin stretched. I don't have any tummy stretch marks, but there are a couple on my hips, although I can't be sure they're all from pregnancy.

Apparently, up to 90% of us get stretch marks at some stage or another, whether it is through pregnancy or just as we're growing normally. That's where the Mum&Me Stretch Mark Fader comes in. With a triple moisturising serum designed to absorb rapidly, and a neat rollerball applicator to help massage in the serum, what's not to love? It's also supposed to be Dermatologist Approved but to be honest I'm a little fuzzy about what that really means.



Thoughts:

Best results are supposed to come from using the product twice a day for at least four weeks. I don't really have time in the mornings to do it, so I only used it once a day and it's been about two weeks so far. I usually do it after my shower when I do all the rest of my pampering routine (ok fine, pampering = slap on moisturiser). Anyway, the product is quite nice. It doesn't have a strong smell, which is great, and I really love the little rollerball applicator. It was easy to use and didn't get clogged up at all, as I had suspected it might. It's different enough to keep me interested in using it, especially because you're supposed to use the roller to just generally massage for best effects after the serum is applied.

After I was done I got into pyjamas, and I didn't notice any residue so that's a plus for me. My skin does feel nice and soft, but I'm not sure if that is specifically from the product or just from all the extra love and attention I've been giving it. Similarly, I think that my stretch marks are marginally fainter, but again, I'm not sure if that's due to the cream working it's magic or an improvement in my skin as a whole due to all the targetted care.

Would I buy this product? Probably not, but only because I don't have that many marks and I'm not too fussed about that. If I did and I was, this is the sort of product I would be using, if only just because it would inspire me to pay a bit more attention to me, which is always a good thing right?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

G for Gift Giving (for new mamas)

With Ellie's first birthday recently, I started reminiscing on where I was and what I was doing a year ago. It got me started on thinking about those first days after she was born – just how tired I was, and how tentative I was and how scary looking after my brand new daughter was. Some memories really stood out for me. I admit that I did a few things that with hindsight I wouldn't do again:
  • We had guests and visitors galore, both at home and hospital, and those were frantic and hectic times instead of being a calm period spent getting to know Ellie. I would tell people to leave us alone for a few days
  • I was stressed and I think that translated into lots of feeding difficulties as Ellie picked up on that. I would have been much more calm and zen had I been able
  • When visitors did come, I didn't tell them when would suit me and let them come whenever. I ran around after them, getting them tea and letting them hold the baby – what I should have done was let them wait on me and accepted their (genuine) offers of help.
Gratuitous Ellie shot
All of this came to mind again as I've been invited to a baby shower in a few weeks and I'm pondering what to get the mama. You'd think having done it myself I'd have some ideas but I want to make sure I get her something useful.
 
I've already spoken about Mr Fork and my gift giving ideas for Ellie before, but I have some more ideas and baby related gift thoughts based on what I know now and what I would have wanted back then:
  • If you visit a new mama, do not go empty handed. Those early days are scary, and you barely have time to think. Take her a home cooked meal, preferably one that can be eaten one handed. Pack her a few extra meals for the freezer if you're feeling generous. Or some snacks for when she's ravenous but can't leave the baby.
  • If you genuinely want to help, that's a gift in itself. If someone had offered to hold Ellie while I had a quick shower, or used the bathroom or even had a 15 minute catnap I would have been delighted! I would have kissed the hand of someone who offered to put on a load of laundry, vacuum my floor or even just do a quick tidy of my kitchen.
  • The friend who gave me a bag of baby essentials at my baby shower was onto a good thing. She gave me things based on what she knew I'd need, not just a bunch of cute things for baby. Her bag had panadol, nurofen, a bottle, a bottle cleaner, a little rattle, nipple cream, baby wash, powder, Eukybear rub… and so many other things I didn't know I'd need until I needed them! Don't get me wrong, I loved everything we got for Ellie, but really, she grows so fast did she need eleventy-billion dresses? Probably not. Especially when she lived in onesies…
  • Something for mama. Not for right away of course, but when she's back in a routine. When you're pregnant, you're the centre of attention. People check your weight, constantly ask how you're feeling and gosh, even give up a seat on the bus for you. As soon as you have that baby, you're second fiddle, and it's a little bit odd. The doctor asks about baby, not you. Hospital is all about caring for the tiny human, no word for the person who grew them. So let mama know she's loved. Get her a spa voucher. Some tea just for her. Some special hand cream to guard against dryness from all the hand sanitiser.
So what am I going to get my pregnant friend? I'm thinking I'll make her a couple of meals for the freezer. A batch of lactation cookie dough which I'll also freeze ready for her to bake up as required. An eye mask for when those post baby hormones kick in and your eyes swell up from crying. And if I get the time, I might make her a wetbag as I know she's going to use cloth nappies.
 
Share with me, is there something you wish you'd gotten when you had baby? What do you like to give new parents?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Baby Mum-Mum review

Ellie just loves rice crackers. She may only have two teeth still, but she uses them with gusto. There is nothing that she won't eat, or at least try, for which I am very grateful. I have heard that this will change when she is older, but for now I choose to live in blissful ignorance that this is how it will always be.

When the1337mum gave Ellie one of her small man's Baby Mum-Mums to try on a recent visit, Ellie was hooked. I think it was something about the lovely crunchy sound that they make when she bites into them. She will happily sit there and just bite into a cracker repeatedly to hear that sound. Then when it's so chewed it couldn't possibly hold together any longer, she will gum it and start all over again with a fresh part.

Usually I buy her supplies while I'm grocery shopping, but our local shop only stocks the banana and vegetable flavours. Have I ever mentioned how much I loathe both the smell and taste of bananas? Ugh. Anyway, I was pretty excited that Baby Mum-Mum had a stand at the recent Brisbane baby and toddler expo as there are always some pretty awesome deals to be had and a host of flavours on offer. That excitement fizzled out when I realised there was nothing left by the time I got there. Yes, they are just that popular. Not to be deterred, the good people at Baby Mum-Mum got in contact with me and offered to send out a little something. Of course I jumped at the chance!

In due time, a box of goodies was delivered, and what a box! We were very generously given 6 boxes of apple flavoured Baby Mum-Mums and 6 boxes of banana Little Quackers.

Baby Mum-Mums are yum-yum!
I have to say, they are both a hit. As soon as the contents caught Ellie's eye, she was signing for me to give her some right away! Sure, she may look a little manic in this picture, but who doesn't when they are eating delicious rice cracker goodness?


Later, while I was putting away the contents of our parcel, this happened. I don't know who got in first and encouraged who, but I reached for my camera right away because it's just so ridiculously cute!


Disclaimer: I was provided with the rice crackers as a consideration. This is not a sponsored post, the products are just a hit at chez Fork.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Dreamer Dotty Blanket Review

About

This cute little blanket is designed for a cot and measures in at 100 x 150cm. It's an ivory base with a mixture of blue, orange and brown dots. The material is a really fluffy knitted cotton velour and claims to be anti-pilling, anti-allergic, light weight and very breathable.

My experience
When the1337mum asked if I'd like to try on of these blankets, I jumped at the opportunity. Ellie is at a stage now where she is very textural, and one of her favourite things is minky softness. We have them all over the place - in the car, as a blanket, as a pillow pet in the lounge and even a few cold weather minky sleep suits. The Dreamer blanket is no exception. It was a hit as soon as I removed it from the packaging, with Ellie grabbing it and lying down on top of it immediately!




The size is great too, as I can use it as a cot blanket, but its not so large that we can't put it in the lounge or use it in the car as well. The minky has stayed nice and soft after washing so I know that this is a blanket we'll use over and over until it is loved to pieces.

This post first appeared on Lifestyles of the Modern Mum.

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