Growth Spurts

Posted by on Nov 14, 2014 in babble, Maternity Consultant | 0 comments

  From the minute they are born, babies are constantly growing and developing in front of your eyes.  Many of their developmental leaps take place in fairly predictable chunks and you may find that these changes happen without your being aware of them. For the first few weeks, first time parents are frequently lost in a new and confusing fog of the unfamiliar lack of sleep, endless advice and opinions from others and hugely variable “factoids” from questionable websites.  However, babies experience growth spurts at approximately 3 weekly intervals and during the first fraught weeks those little developments can be missed if you blink. The first growth spurt happens at around 3 weeks from the baby’s due date.  The 2nd is at around 6 weeks, then 9 weeks, then 12 weeks and so on.  When your baby seems to be feeding and sleeping (or shouting) on a day-to-day basis, it can be hard to recognise exactly what is going on on the inside, so this little babble might help you better understand the changes that your little one is experiencing. Typically, a breast-fed newborn will feed approximately every 3-4 hours and settle well to sleep with a nice full tummy shortly afterwards.  Just as you feel you are seeing a pattern in the chaos, your baby will throw you a curve ball and begin demanding food as frequently as every 1-2 hours.  By feeding more frequently the actual growth spurt (which usually comes a few days after this change in feeding behaviour) will have all the fuel it needs.  Once his demand is met, he will then get on with the important job of developing his next stage, be that perception, muscular or digestive development. During these growth spurts, your baby may rapidly gain weight or lengthen in a very short time.  Coupled with this, physiological changes occur in your baby’s brain which may result in him being unusually fussy, sleepy, short-tempered or clingy.  You may find that the baby-grow that seemed to swamp him just last week is now stretched to capacity with his little toes curling into the feet of the outfit and you have to stretch vests to get the poppers in the crotch to meet.  Thighs start to chub up, the prominent belly button is now receding as that little tum fattens up around it and the orange-shaped face is now lengthening and the back of his head is starting to change shape to accommodate the increase in the size of his clever little brain. Week 3+: Those little eyes which may have looked rather swollen (think Rocky!) from birth begin to blink open more often, looking through a fuzzy veil at the world around him.  His tolerance for a little kick-about on his play mat is increased to more than a few minutes.  This is a good moment to start introducing a little tummy-time, using favourite toys or a mirror strategically placed to keep his attention. Week 6+: Your baby will start to “map” your face, gazing intently at your features and starting to mimic your facial expressions.  He may stare at simple patterns around him so place some black and white patterned books next to him on his play mat, introduce more brightly coloured toys and walk around the house with him showing him pictures on the wall.  Any day now you should start to get your first “true smiles”. Week 9+: Nappy/clothes changing time become much more challenging now.  They start to twist and reach out for items on the changing mat (rather like dressing an octopus!), their hand/eye co-ordination starts maturing...

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Let Me Entertain You!

Posted by on Oct 14, 2014 in babble, Maternity Consultant | 0 comments

Autumn has well and truly arrived and the opportunities for lolling around on a blanket in the park or enjoying a cappuccino beside the Thames are becoming a distant memory.  With winter around the corner, the time spent outdoors with a newbie becomes less appealing and cabin fever looms. Many of my first-time mums ask me about how and when to start getting out to some fun classes to entertain their new babies.  My answer is usually it’s better to wait until baby is about 6 weeks old or more.  Whilst a newborn baby will enjoy interacting with you for short periods at home, they may find a room full of new faces/music rather overwhelming until they are more able to cope. I am acutely aware that it can seem frustrating to be at home for weeks with a new baby, but you can provide your own entertainment by taking them for a nice walk in the buggy with the hood down during their awake time and create your own gentle colourful games at home for a while. Babies love to look around at the lovely autumnal colours of the trees above them, the swaying branches on a blustery day or simply the bright colours of items on the shelves in toy shops or department stores.  At home, you can tie a couple of brightly coloured ribbons on a length of bamboo, or make some glittery pom-poms (fancy dress shops are great for this kind of thing) and leap around the room like an Olympic Event Cheerleader as baby gives you marks out of ten.  Strictly Come Dancing, eat your heart out!   Use empty containers and fill them with objects (like those pictured above) such as little bells, pom-poms, pasta and buttons and show them to your baby as they sit in their bouncy chair or snuggle up beside them on the bed. Once your babies reaches 6 weeks, they will be more receptive to new sensations, sights and smells.  They will have thundered through their 2nd growth spurt and over the next week or two you may see they are starting to “map” your face when gazing at you, their inquisitive little eyes flicking from your eyebrows to your nose, your mouth to your eyes and back again.  If you start to pull faces, poke out your tongue or make cooing noises, you may start to notice your baby trying to copy you.  It is an enchanting time, and the very beginnings of a basic form of communication. As newborn babies cannot really cope with being awake and happy for more than about 1.5-2 hours at a stretch, it can seem daunting to try to calculate how to get to a class on time.  This is partly why I encourage mums to wait a while until the baby can feed well in a shorter time and cope with staying awake for 30-45 minutes at a stretch. Once your babies are more comfortable in their own surroundings and showing a regular interest in patterns, light & shade, music and interaction with you – then is the time to seek out the baby-friendly activities in your area. You’d better brush up on the words of “Wheels on the Bus”, “If you’re happy and you know it” and the “Hello Song” before you head out though!...

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Smooth Talking

Posted by on Nov 29, 2013 in babble | 0 comments

Smooth Talking Newborns: After almost 20 years with them, I still continue to be amazed at what perfect little human beings they are.  I still love cleaning those teeny tiny feet with miniature curly cashew-nut toes and seeing their little eyelashes grow. I recently read another fascinating fact: “A baby has around 10,000 taste buds, far more than adults. They are not just on the tongue but also on the sides, back, and roof of the mouth. Eventually these extra taste buds disappear.” When I talk to first time mums about the importance of healthy nutrition during the weeks following the birth, they often ask about what foods they should or should not eat.  Explaining that breast-fed babies get trace elements of everything the mother eats helps to emphasise how essential it is to have a varied diet.  Your breast-fed babies eat what you eat! A few months ago, on the advice of our osteopaths at Clapham Osteopathic Practice, my husband and I started making our own Green Smoothies.  We bought ourselves a well written book to read up on the nutritional advice and scientific facts about green smoothie making.  Then we took out our Kitchen-Aid liquidiser and stood, rather nervously, looking at the bags of glowingly healthy and 100% organic fruit and veg we had decided to use.  Fresh organic spinach, chard, bananas, papaya, mango and a bag of Spirulina powder.  With trepidation, we peeled and seeded the items that needed it and then put great fist-fulls of the greens into the blender, added a good dollop of Coconut Water and WHIZZZZZZ! The resulting mug full of green goop looked less than appetising, but we nervously took a gulp each.  It was superb.  Had we been blindfolded for this taste test, we probably would have assumed it was a simply fruit smoothie with a slightly fresher edge to it. We are now hooked.  For the past few weeks we have opted to have a box of organic fruit & veg delivered from Riverford Farm ( so that we never quite know what we will get, we can add to our order as the mood takes us and we get the variation needed in the green element.  I have begun encouraging my mums to try making their own smoothies at home. It always makes me laugh when I see their faces the first time I present one for them to try – like a child confronting a plate full of cauliflower and broccoli for supper!  However, a couple of sips later and I have have a new convert.  All those vitamins and minerals in one glass – and raw – nicely blended with the sweet naughtiness of fresh fruits. Coming to the end of a 4 week postnatal package with a lovely mum, I opened her fridge to see a large green smoothie in a glass – ready for action!  I had introduced this mum to this idea a couple of weeks ago and now, without any further encouragement from me, she is a convert. You don’t have to be breast feeding to benefit either!  The drinks will help boost your flagging energy levels and help you cope with the on-going broken sleep over weeks and months.  Your immune system will get a massive boost and your insides will thank you for reaching for the glass rather than that next chocolate muffin or packet of sugar soaked biscuits. The book we bought was by Victoria Boutenko and is called Green for Life.  Whilst I am not quite going to her extremes of a raw diet lifestyle (I love my...

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For Sanity’s Sake: The Need to Sleep!

Posted by on Oct 8, 2013 in babble | 0 comments

I returned from holiday a couple of weeks ago to a lovely email from an ex-mum of mine, Amanda, who lives over in Teddington.  She suffered badly with PND in the early weeks after the birth of her first baby and I was contacted by her concerned husband to offer her some support.  She sought help for Post Natal Depression and, after a comparatively short while, was firing on all 4 cylinders.  She told me that it was “like someone pulling back the curtains and letting the sun shine in”.   Since then, Amanda has enrolled to do a full course to become a PND counsellor and has become a volunteer with a super set up called For Sanity’s Sake – through whom Amanda started to venture out into the real world, when her little boy was very young.  A wonderful example of Paying It Forward!  This fantastic website is for mums in the Richmond Borough and offers visitors to the site details of events, groups and information for mums and their Littles.  Of course, if you live within striking distance of Richmond/Teddington, this site would also give you some great opportunities to get out and about with your Tiny Smalls.   Now, Amanda, along with the group’s co-founder Rachel, is starting a weekly group for mums who are struggling with PND/anxiety or just the day-to-day chaos of having a baby.   I am deeply flattered and feel very honoured that they have asked me to be their launch speaker on Monday 14th October and am delighted to have been able to say a resounding yes to the invitation.  This particular meet-up will be held at Bill’s Cafe, opposite the Richmond Odeon (near Richmond Bridge).  My topic will be – you guessed it – the importance of establishing good sleep habits!   The regular coffee & cake Monday meet ups will run on a weekly basis at with a different topic/speaker at each even, followed by a free chat session and/or support chat from Amanda.   For further details about FSS, my talk and the venues for the weekly meet-ups, please visit their website: photo credit: HeatherKaiser via photopin...

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Osteopathy for Babies

Posted by on Sep 23, 2013 in babble | 0 comments

A long time ago in a job far, far away, I was introduced by a very open-minded mother, to the amazing world of Cranial Osteopathy for babies. I’d never heard of it back then and agreed to go along with her whilst her little 3 week old baby was given the first treatment.  I watched with a mixture of cynicism and boredom as the practitioner gradually moved her hands gently from place to place, cupping the baby’s head in her palms, holding him gently around the pelvis and laying her hand on his rapidly rising and falling tummy. This particular baby had suffered with bouts of crying in the evening lasting as long as 4 hours.  This was back in the day when I did live-in work so it was not only the mum who was tired, but I was the one pacing around half the night with an inconsolable baby.  It was exhausting and upsetting for all concerned. After a single treatment, the change in that particular baby was enough to convert me and, as soon as I possibly could, I began seeking out good cranial osteopaths in the areas where I was working.  This was back in about 1996. When my work began to evolve into what I do today, I realised that getting this type of treatment as early as possible would prove to be beneficial to both mother and baby.  I had visited an osteopath personally by then for my own aches and pains, so when he and his partner set up their own small practice in North Clapham, I was over the moon.  This meant that I could get many of my clients in to see them as my main catchment area is South West London.  I trusted them completely and they have certainly never let me down. John Carr and Maria Sonberg have successfully treated dozens of babies (and their parents) with whom I have worked over the past few years.  Their gentle approach, warmth and calm nature have instantly put anxious parents at ease and they have helped many of “my” babies with issues such as windy pain, stuck neck, fussing at the breast, reflux and even a baby who pooed a bit too often and was getting sore! The basic principles of osteopathy are: The structure of the body affects its function The body is a self-healing unit A good blood supply throughout the body is vital for good health Restrictions in the body will eventually lead to disease By applying incredibly gentle pressure (never more than resting a 5p piece on the baby’s head!) to various parts of the baby’s body, feeling for tiny signs and signals through their highly trained hands, stresses and tensions resulting from birth are located and released.  I have found that babies who have arrived after a long and traumatic labour, C-sections, Ventouse and forceps deliveries have all benefitted in many ways from even as little as one or two visits to John or Maria. If you are interested in finding out more about this gentle, non-invasive method, have a peek at their website or give them a call for a nice chat to ask any questions you might have. photo credit: FrankGuido via photopin...

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You Are My Sunshine!

Posted by on Aug 31, 2013 in babble | 0 comments

With school holidays nearly at an end, many parents with young babies born earlier in the summer are considering snapping up a bargain offer for a short trip overseas in September/October.  They have probably spent the first 6-12 weeks getting to grips with all the demands of this new little person and are seeing our British Summer slipping through their fingers.  Even though we had a bad start, the weather has made up for it since.  Even I have managed to lay on more than 2 summer barbecues where we weren’t running for shelter from the rain before the end of the first sausage! Concerned mothers and fathers often ask me if their new babies can actually go out in full sun with their fragile skin.  The safest answer is usually “not until they are 6 months old”.   You need to make sure they are covered when in the sun and that you apply some sunscreen to any areas that might burn, keeping them protected from direct sunlight as much as possible by using buggy parasols, or even the trusty old muslin thrown over the buggy hood, clipped on with a clothes peg if all else fails!   Even under the perceived safety of an awning or sun umbrella, the light bounces off the surrounding area and can still burn that sensitive skin.  Don’t assume that because they are in the shade, they won’t burn.  Always make sure they have some good sunscreen on – a minimum of SPF 15. There are coloured creams which, whilst they may look a bit funny, will ensure that your baby is well and truly basted and you’ll easily see where you may have missed any bits as you spread it on those little chubby arms, legs and cheeks.  Always make sure your little ones wear a hat – either one with a nice Paddington Bear type wide brim, or the “Je ne sais quoi” look … le French Legionnaire perhaps … with a nice wide peak with long strips of material which cover the back of their neck and ears.  Do remember to rub cream over the tops of those little ears and over the tops of their feet and re-apply when they have been in the water; certainly at least every 2 hours when outside. If you have concerns about the contents of some of the mainstream sunscreens from your local chemist, there is a super little shop in Wimbledon Village, close to where I live,  called Skin+Care which sells fabulous products that are 100% organic, not tested on animals and certainly much better for your skin than most other products.  Lisa is hugely knowledgeable about the products she stocks and I send many of my local mums to visit Lisa for nice pure stuff for their new bundles.  If you want to put only good things on to your new baby’s precious little bod, pop in and have a chat with her. You can read all about it on the website Whatever you do, make sure your little ones are well protected … Oh – and have a lovely holiday! photo credit: Boudewijn Berends via photopin...

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