Hi-Tech Feeding Bottles

Despite the professionals at the Cow & Gate helpline assuring us that the best bottles for bottle feeding (regardless of colic, tongue tie or need for boobie similarity) are the cheapy ‘straight up and down’ ones you get from the chemist, there seem to be a plethora of new, super-sciency ones out on the market at the moment.

Our Slick Mummy testers gave the following the once over (with three and six month old babies):

Munchin Latch System

This one is meant to mimic the breast, rather than look like one. The teat is much larger and less ‘pert’ than most and comes in three flow speeds. The bottle has a built in anti-colic valve and the bottle comes in two sizes.

Pros: our tester thought the bottle performed well – especially with the faster teat – and the design (including the pretty blue valve) was lovely.

Cons: the base arond the valve is hard to clean.

Available at Boots, £6.99 per bottle

Tommee Tippee Closer To Nature Advance Comfort System

The Tommee Tippee bottles have the appearance of the sort of breast that would neatly nestle into a champagne saucer (wouldn’t ours all?) but this new addition to the range includes an air venting system (a bit like a cocktail swizzle stick) which prevents bubbles. Again, these come in two bottle sizes.

Pros: our tester thought the product performed well and was compatible with the regular TT accessories (bottle warmer etc)

Cons: our tester advised that one screw the lid on a bit tighter just before feeding as hot water cooling seems to contract the seal a little bit.

Available at Boots £13.99 for two bottles.

Dr Brown’s Natural Flow System

These claim to reduce colic and also preserve vitamins through preventing oxidation (who knew milk oxidized?) and they come in a variety of colours,  sizes (including preemie) and teat flows. Recommended by 9/10 midwives.

Pros: our tester liked the colourways and the fact that they were easy to clean and didn’t cloud.

Cons: a bit fiddly to put together and prone to leaking if not done properly.

Available at Boots £19.99 for starter kit.

Kids on Planes

If you were one of those watching the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge take Prince George on a 31 hour flight to NZ thinking ‘the horror!’, you have probably at one time or another been ‘that person on the flight with the screaming baby’.

As we all know, certain budget airlines go out of their way to make life difficult for traveling parents, but the following have at least tried to make an effort:

  • Virgin Atlantic: kids all get an unsurprisingly Branson-branded backpack with branded toys, plus special kids’ meals including cheese strings and pizza. Babies are offered cots and complimentary nappies, plus there are bottle warming and changing facilities on all flights.
  • British Airways: BA do offer a couple of useful services (you have to ask tho!). One is a free actual seat for under 2’s as long as you bring an approved car seat. The other is serving the kids’ meals first to avoid tears as the trolley moves up the aisle.
  • Emirates: keen to snare their travelers young, Emirates offer tots the chance to rack up their own frequent flyer points, to exchange at theme parks. They also provide complimentary strollers in the airport and cots on board the flight, plus free formula for babies and kid friendly movie choices.
  • Gulf Air: with their ‘Sky Nanny’ programme, this airline is a cut above when it comes to being child friendly. Sky Nanny can watch the kids, change the baby, play games, sing lullabies – a veritable Mile High Mary Poppins.

Traveling on a low cost airline? It’s often actually cheaper to book another seat for a child than it is to struggle with the excess baggage costs – although most do offer a discount for baby items such as travel cots, carseats and strollers.

A few lifesavers we’ve discovered:

  • Banz Ear Protectors: great for blocking out loud runway noises. Possibly worth offering to your fellow passengers also!

  • Babasling or Moby wrap: handy if the little one needs to sit on your lap and you’d like both hands free to drink in-flight wine.
  • Mothercare ‘My Move’ stroller: at just £20 and in a range of colours, this is super light, super easy to fold and brilliant value as a holiday stroller if the weight of your regular one threatens to ground the plane …

  • Poncho: as we know, in some countries keeping our boobies under wraps is more than modesty, it’s the law. Play it safe if you’re planning to breastfeed on a flight. This one from Etsy comes in vibrant holiday colours and doubles as a blanket.

  • Ready Mixed Milk: either in cartons for tots or disposible bottles for babies, avoids having to taste it at check in to prove you’re not disguising liquid nitrogen as infant formula on a flight you’re taking your actual child on (as airport officials seem to suggest!) Aptamil and SMA make both in their range.

  • Pacapod Firenze Bag: holds 40 litres, includes internal storage sections big enough for feeding/changing items, child’s hand luggage, laptop and Duty Free.

 

What to *really* pack in your hospital bag for labour

Read Mothercare’s recommendations here – they suggest things like nighties, maternity pads, camera etc. Yeah yeah, very practical. But we think there are a few touches you could find room for that might make the experience a bit slicker…

  • Colourful baby blanket: Myleene Klass takes this opportunity to plug her Baby K range, but when the little one comes out in an NHS hospital they tend to just wrap them in a regulation white towel. So pack a nice blankie and not only with your newborn be snuggly, but those first pictures will look less ‘clinical’… Hillcrest Knitwear in Scotland make some gorgeous cashmere ones in a range of colours (from raspberry to teal to lime to chocolate) at a very reasonable £24 each.
  • Jurlique Rosewater Facial Mist: smells like Valentine’s Day in a bottle and cools whilst hydrating and softening. Spray it liberally on your brow, feet, nape of neck… Heck, give the tired nurses a quick blast too…

  • Contraction Master App: OK, not so much one to pack as to download, but let’s face it, who wants to faff about with a pen and paper and a stopwatch when you can track contractions on your iPhone. The App also plots a handy graph you can show the midwife when you arrive and is techy enough to keep your partner interested…
  • Bubble Popping Game: forget watching a romantic film or reading Tatler, what you really need is instant gratification. Try downloading an old skool game like this bubble wrap popping one: http://www.games.com/game/dragonsnare0/bubble-blaster
  • Hipflask: OK so not ‘hospital approved’ but Dads-to-be might find a little dram in the car park helps with the stress of a long labour. Just get a taxi home…
mock croc flask, £45 from Aspinal
  • Post partum girdle: super skinny ‘blessed with good genes’ Natalie Portman may have emerged from hospital without a mummy-tummy but a good girdle not only helps keeping the wobbly bits tucked in but also gives a bit of back support.

  • Gifts from the baby to an older sibling: Aaah, the first time your little darling meets its nemesis, quite unlikely to go without screaming ab-dabs and general confusion. Reduce the drama with a petit cadeau – we’d suggest something non-projectile like this ‘Big Brother’ tee from Cafepress.

  • Lollipops: sucking on lollipops helps regulate breathing through contractions, provides you with a much-needed sugar hit and generally gives you something else to do with your mouth bar screaming, wailing and biting your husband’s hand… Keep it classic with fruity Chupa Chups.

  • Thank You cards: after your midwife has spent 24 hours mopping, coaxing, measuring your cervix via the medium of gloved hands and doing most of the above whilst being grunted at, you might like to scribble a little note of apology/gratification afterwards. Bizarrely, hospital shops don’t seem to stock anything other than ‘Get Well Soon’ cards – so come prepared. Smythson’s ‘Truly Wonderful’ notecards (£40 per set) say what you might be too overwhelmed to write…

  • And pack it all in this Travel Bag by Chamomile from not on the high st: gorgeously girlie, comes with a travel pillow, a blankie that doubles as a changing mat and notepads with crayons for you to scribble rude words on, this is the ultimate in calming, beachy-chic baggage.

 

 

 

 

 

The lazy way to do Kegels

Mother of three Kate Winslet famously said (in 2002) ‘I didn’t do pelvic floor exercises cos I didn’t have the time, I don’t even know where my pelvic floor is…’

Well, frankly, who *does* have the time to be imagining lift shafts in your nether regions whilst sitting in traffic, or pulsing and releasing whilst doing the washing up? Not busy actresses, that’s for sure…

But somehow, even the dire consequences of downstairs-dribbling during hilarious girls’ nights out, explosive sneezes or even ‘roomy’ sex can actually motivate most women to practice Kegels on a daily basis.

So, there must be a cheat’s way, right?

Fitness guru Katy Bowman, creator of the App ‘Down there for Women’ (gosh knows what other delights searching for that will generate in your Store preferences!) claims it is actually all about the squat – focusing on just the pelvic floor simply makes this alone tighten. Midwife extroidinaire Ina May Gaskin mirrored this thinking when she said ‘do 300 squats a day and you’ll give birth quickly’, but Katy suggests that a simpler option (to integrate into everyday life) might be to squat over the toilet – as though you were at an outdoor festival.

Women’s Health Mag’s ‘Better Sex Workout’ also has some more general tips, suggesting you integrate pelvic tilts and hip flexors into your everyday workout.

Or maybe consider a Jade Egg as an Easter gift with fewer calories… Polished semi-precious eggs delivered in boxes of various denominations (Princess, Empress, Queen) are inserted into the vagina and the mere act of holding them up there does the work of strengthening, tightening and toning. To get them out apparently one simply squats and expels – like a bizarre human chicken.

Cosmo, however, suggests that if you really want to incorporate Kegels into your daily routine, why not do them whilst masturbating, or even having sex? Maybe Kate Winslet could benefit from a bit of multi-tasking…

Five Little Miracles

Beauty products to say ‘coochi-coo’ to:

  •  Dior Capture Totale Dream Skin (£90 from Sephora): works like a moisturiser, foundation, BB cream, wrinkle zapper and brightener all in one and smells divine thanks to its powerful plant and flower extracts. This one shows sleepless nights who is boss and thankfully a little goes a long way…

  •  Serge Lutens Tuberose Criminalle: often thought of as the most seductive of florals, tuberose smells elegant yet old-worldly in this fragrance. With notes of orange blossom, vanilla and jasmine, this one lasts for ages and is just a little bit naughty and spicy. Get it online from www.sergelutens.com/TubereuseCriminelle

  •  Weleda Skin Food (£8.95 from stockists): Mrs Beckham apparently rubs this into her tootsies after a hard day’s high heel wearing and (newer Mummy) Adele slaps it on when her stage make up comes off. The soothing blend of pansy, rosemary, chamomile, orange and lavender is suitable for vegetarians and does a pretty good job on stretch marks too!

  •  Rimmel Lash Accelerator (£7.99 from Boots): lengthens, blackens and actually grows your lashes by 17% after 30 days of use. Errr, yes please!

  •  Bobbi Brown Lipstick Shimmer Finish (£19.00 from stockists): lipbalm + light reflecting pigments + wearable shades leave your lips hydrated, treated, plumped up – and gloriously grown up groomed. We love Ballerina Shimmer (a pale pink shade) and Calypso Shimmer (orangey peach, great with a bit of tan)

 

 

 

Weaning Like The French vs BLW

According to Pamela Druckerman, author of ‘Why French Children Don’t Throw Food’, it is all about letting your offspring experience a huge variety of gourmet tastes from an early age. With formal courses and napkins and the right amount of pomp and ceremony.

Aghast at the thought of blending veg into baby mush and shovelling it in with a cheery ‘choo choo’ a la Annabel Karmel, Druckerman reports that our Parisian counterparts integrate tots into the adult (French) dining experience with starters, amuse bouches, gastronomic dishes (and require that they remain at the table whilst Papa retreats for Gauloises and brandy)

Through educating children to appreciate, discuss and discover food, maintains Druckerman, these tiny connoisseurs  se tenir tranquille dans le restuarant.

Other out-takes of French parenting from the book include:

‘Le Regarde’ – ie glaring at your kid menacingly until they oblige (surprisingly effective but hard to pull off in Waitrose)

‘Adult Time’ – described as ‘a basic human right’ – essentially the opposite of attachment parenting and frequently exemplified through Mummy reading Grazia in the playground.

‘Le Pause’ – getting babies sleeping through the night by letting them settle themselves, rather than pouncing on the crib every time one hears a snuffle through the baby monitor.

Obvious downsides: finding intellectual ways to describe the taste of carrots to your child on a daily basis…

(from £3.49 at Amazon)

By contrast, ‘Baby Led Weaning’ by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett advocates much more of a liberal approach. Give them anything and everything, regardless of age, teeth, size or texture – and to hell with cutlery!

Here there is a similar logic to Druckerman’s – exposing babies to a variety of ‘adult’ foods ignites their natural curiousity and thus hones less fussy eaters.

But whilst the French children are encouraged to eat tidilly and finish their courses, BLW suggests food is fun:  ‘the more the messier’; a little bit of everything and it’s just as good to mush it in your hair as to taste it.

Out-takes from this title:

‘Dippers’ – or using food as its own cutlery (scooping up hummus with pitta bread or yoghurt with toast, for example)

‘Family Meal Times’ – with BLW Rapley stresses that there is no need to cater separately for your offspring. Simply serve them the same what you are serving everyone else, minus the G&T aperitif…

‘Chunks’ – teeth or no teeth, Rapley says there is no need to puree food. She suggests letting the little ones gurn away on a lamp chop or vampirically suck the living fibre out of a slice of melon.

Obvious down sides: unless you have a maid or a lackadaisical approach to food hygeine standards, this one is going to result in a good deal of baby led cleaning…

(from £5.99 at Amazon)

How many calories does breastfeeding *actually* burn?

For every smug ‘oh, the weight just melted off from breastfeeding’ Miranda Kerr types there are just as many realists who will tell you that they held onto those extra pounds and hourly feeds meant they were too plain knackered to hit the gym.

Medical studies are actually inconclusive – despite midwives often pushing weight loss as a key benefit – the 2007 Chung and Raman study showed weight loss post partum to be ‘inconclusive and negligible’.

The basic facts are that it takes 400 calories to make 20 ounces of milk.  So the same as running for half an hour.

Or if it’s easier to calculate, 20 calories to make an ounce. 20 calories btw is the same as eating 3 almonds or 84 Cheerios or 4 Skittles…

The WHO recommends nursing mothers increasing daily calorific intake by 500 – so to lose weight by breastfeeding along one would need produce in excess of 25 ounces.

If a newborn consumes around 16 ounces per day – well you can do the math here – if you’re looking to shed pounds via boob milk alone you’ll need to either eat less, wait til the baby consumes more or (controversially, I know) ‘pump and dump’.

PS We’re big fans of the #ISupportYou campaign, promoting positive attitudes however you feed your child.

How to do the School Run in your pyjamas…

You’ve got them up, you’ve sat through Peppa Pig and Fireman Sam with feigned enthusiasm, you’ve sponged the splattered Weetabix from the ceiling. You’ve washed them, you’ve cajolled them into tooth-brushing, you’ve lambasted your significant other for using up all the hot water. You’ve found them socks that match and rescued library books from the dog’s basket and – woo hoo – there’s still eleven minutes before school starts!

Kids -check, keys – check… Oh, right yes, dressing yourself would help, wouldn’t it?

Can you actually get away with doing the school run in your PJs (and still look like Elle McPherson) ?

We think yes, with a bit of creativity…

Go Vintage

It’s a thin line anyway between outerwear and underwear when you go vintage. Pillage charity shops or the Rosie for Autograph rail in M&S for bed jackets and camisoles you can team with a pair of jeans. No one will know you *actually* slept in them too.

Maxi Cover

We’re loving the Lexham wrap coat from Baukjen. Fashionably black, belted and below the calves – this one will cover up nightwear and give the illusion of equally chic, black tailoring underneath. Possibly like a French spy. Or Angelina Jolie.

Baukjen Lexham wrap coat

Layer

Sweater dress over a nightie? Kimono over jim jams? No probs: if the top layer is fancy enough nobody looks underneath. Take inspiration from the Tudors, piling fancy embroidery over grungey underchuckers (or think Helena Bonham Carter in one of her ‘dogwalking on the Heath’ outfits)

A Boden wrap dress would be just the thing…

Accessorise

Not for the faint hearted, but styling up sleepwear with a bit of bling and bravery could be a good thing. Marc Jacobs A/W13 was right behind this look – and let’s face it, if you shelled out for MJ PJs you might as well get your money’s worth and wear them 24/7.

 

Parenting Style Coveted

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