A blog by Dr Lin Day



GUEST POST- Trying to Stop Wishing Time Away

Being a first-time mum is all about learning lessons – within just a few hours of my baby being born, I had built up my knowledge of parenthood far more than reading all those books throughout my pregnancy. But one of the biggest lessons I had to learn early on, and one that I still have to remind myself of, is to stop wishing time away. 

And let me tell you, despite comments of “don’t they grow so quickly” and “she’ll be five before you know it”, I found it very difficult to do. 


Yearning for a routine

There’s no sugarcoating it, those first few weeks of motherhood are really hard. I didn’t know what I was doing, whether I should be feeding by the clock or on demand, whether I should be waking her up at night to feed or waiting for her to wake up naturally, to swaddle or not to swaddle, to rock or use the dummy. 

There are so many things you have to decide from the get go that you feel will shape the parent you will become and the habits your children will form, I found it very overwhelming at times. 

As *Moo always had to be walked, driven or bounced to sleep (and stay asleep!), it’s hardly surprising I yearned for the days when I could put her down in her cot for a nap and leave her chatting until she dozed off. 

And while I had no routine of feeding, sleeping, showering or even leaving the house during those first few weeks, I envied those mums who had their toddlers in a professionally set schedule. 

At the start, we lived in chaos, and despite everyone cooing over my beautiful baby daughter and delighting at how tiny she was, I really looked forward to the day her hands weren’t so small and her button nose not so teeny, but at least our lives were in order again.  


Waiting for the elusive ’12 weeks’

I guess I started wishing time would speed up when other mothers began to tell me it’ll all get better at 12 weeks. It felt like there would be a magical turnaround at three months when looking after Moo – who wouldn’t settle at night, even after endless feeding, who had reflux so bad she screamed when you laid her down, and who cluster feed for hours before bedtime – would suddenly be a walk in the park. 

When Moo was five weeks old, I remember clearly being told to hang in there, as I was halfway through. I never found what was meant to happen at ten weeks and I was too sleep-deprived to ask, but every day it felt like we were just counting down to a better, easier, calmer experience.

And every time someone told me to “not wish time away”, I was torn with the guilt that I wasn’t enjoying this time as much as I should’ve been and that I’d miss it when she was a toddler throwing a tantrum in the middle of the supermarket. (FYI, I do). 


A miracle turning point?

The sad thing is ten weeks came and went, then so did 12 and while, admittedly, things did get a bit easier, they weren’t exactly a doddle. 

And they might have just got calmer because of my sheer determination to set up the routine I coveted so much and help Moo learn how to self settle so naps and evenings were a bit easier (for me). 

It is definitely true that she couldn’t have learnt those things when she was a dot and she eventually developed a fantastic schedule and great habits that make my life easier now, but I think it’s only afterwards you realise how precious that time at the beginning really is. 


Take each day as it comes

Babies have the rest of their lives to grow up, learn how to nap and get too big to sleep cradled in your arm, and they will soon be crawling away or answering back to you before you know it. 

So, maybe I should’ve accepted the advice of other mums who came before me and enjoyed the special time when she was a newborn more, instead of feeling my eyes sting with tears of anger and guilt at their mere suggestion that I was silly to want to skip the difficult first few weeks. 

Don’t get me wrong, motherhood became far more enjoyable when the long colic nights, reflux and endless screaming came to an end. But when I see my little girl, once someone you could rest in the crook of your arm and stare lovingly in her eyes, now growing faster than you can imagine and jumping on the bed with a vocabulary that gets bigger every day, I realise how fleeting that newborn time was and we’ll never have it back. 


So, do I regret wishing that time away? You bet. 

But, do I bite my tongue to stop telling other new mums to make the most of this precious time? I certainly try.  

Instead, I’d tell them to take each day as it comes. Tomorrow will be a little bit easier, but today is just as special. 


Natasha Al-Atassi



* Our affectionate nickname for our beautiful baby girl. 


Top Easter Tips for You and Your Baby

Your baby may be too young to decorate a hard-boiled egg or go on an egg hunt, but there are still plenty of ways to make Easter an educational and enjoyable event. 


Here are a few ideas to get you started:


Hide and seek

One of the best games to play with your baby is ‘peek-a-boo’ or ‘hide-and-seek’. It’s traditional, simple to organise, educational and lots of fun. 

To develop your baby’s thinking, memory and hand-eye coordination skills, hide a plastic egg under a cloth or cup. Say “Where’s the egg?” If your baby is at the reaching and grasping stage, she will look for it, even though it is out of sight.  When your baby is a little older, she may deliberately prolong the fun by hiding the object for you to discover.

If you have a spare tissue box, fill it with Easter ribbons or brightly coloured fabrics. Your baby will delight in pulling out the materials one by one. She will also discover that when you put the materials back in the box, they continue to exist even though they are hidden from view. 

To encourage logical thinking, problem-solving and exploratory skills, hide behind the sofa and call out your baby’s name. When your baby discovers your hiding place, she will learn that you haven’t just vanished because you are out of sight. This teaches your baby about object permanence and stability. Psychologist Jean Piaget suggested that this awareness was typically achieved at about 6-months-old. However, recent studies show that if peek-a-boo games are played regularly, babies understand these concepts from about 2 months-old.


Easter puppets

A rabbit puppet and a pop-up frog are wonderful hide and seek toys. They provide a wealth of learning opportunities from visual stimulation to speech and language development. They also encourage rich parent-baby interactions and the element of surprise that babies love so much. 


Easter Books

Three-dimensional books with large, brightly coloured illustrations, textured materials and hide-and-seek pictures that encourage interaction make great Easter presents for babies. Your baby may investigate the properties of a texture with her finger tips or turn the pages to discover something new. Your voice and facial expressions will capture your baby’s interest and attention and liven up her experience of the world. Best of all, your baby will enjoy cuddling up to you, which has a huge impact on her future learning and development. Research shows that babies who are regularly cuddled have bigger brains than babies who are deprived of close loving physical contact. 


Easter Treasure Basket 

Line a shallow basket and fill it up with Easter-themed objects such as a textured book, a soft toy rabbit or lamb, a plastic bath duck, a shaker (a must-have for every baby), and a toy your baby can safely chew on (see www.thebabysensoryshop.co.uk for ideas). 

 When your baby can sit up with or without support, a treasure basket filled with interesting and engaging objects will develop her sense of curiosity. When your baby explores the objects, she will find out about weight, size, shape, taste, smell, sound and temperature. Every time a new object is explored, highly sensitive nerve endings in the skin will send messages to her brain. In this way, information is collected that will lead to the later recognition of objects. 


Easter Songs

Focus on Easter songs such as ‘Peter Rabbit’ and ‘5 little Ducks’. Even if your baby cannot understand the words, she will enjoy the sound of your voice and your facial gestures and body movements. These time-honoured songs have a repetitive theme, which help to establish a sense of order (mathematical reasoning) and a sense of security. They also provide a powerful stimulus in terms of language and social development. 


Easter Games

A simple activity such as rolling a plastic egg across the floor will encourage a whole range of mobility skills as well as hand-eye coordination and sensory exploration. When your baby is a little older, you can sit on the floor and roll the egg back and forth or roll it down a slope for your baby to catch. Best of all, your quality interactions will make a huge difference to your baby’s emotional development and learning.


Nesting Set

Towards the end of the first year, your baby will enjoy activities that encourage use of the pincer grip. A multi-coloured nesting set for example, provides a wonderful, educational opportunity. When your baby tries to nest the cups, she will learn about size and space, which forms the foundation for mathematical and spatial awareness. These skills will stand her in good stead for the future.


Easter Outing

The spring air provides the perfect opportunity to tantalise your baby’s sense of smell. The fragrance of flowers, cut grass, new leaves growing and the smell of rain will help your baby learn about the world. Fresh air contains high levels of negative ions that can have a positive impact on your baby’s health and brain function. Sunlight provides Vitamin D that your baby needs to grow strong, healthy bones and offers protection from a number of common ailments and disorders. 

Activities that the whole family can enjoy together might include a visit to the river or pond to see the ducklings, a trip to a farm to see the baby animals or the excitement of an Easter party, which involves relatives and close friends. Avoid dressing up as the ‘Easter Bunny’ since the costume might unsettle or even frighten your baby. 


Capture the Occasion

To mark the occasion, dress your baby in an Easter-themed outfit. Your baby will look adorable in a bunny costume. Capture the moment on camera. A photograph will provide a fond memory of your baby’s first Easter for many years to come.


By Dr. Lin Day (www.babysensory.com) 






GUEST POST- Gearing up for a magical first birthday!

Gearing up for a magical first birthday

 

During the first few weeks of our baby’s life, it felt like time suddenly stopped still. The 12-week milestone everyone kept raving about when things apparently get easier felt like an eternity away, and every challenge seemed to last forever.

 

But then something astonishing happened – our newborn baby turned one.

 

Waking up to a one-year-old

 

My daughter’s first birthday was probably one of the only times we were awake before her, waiting eagerly for her to get up. I don’t know why we were so excited to see her little face, it would’ve been just the same as the day before, and the day before that. But this was the first time we’d see her as a one-year-old.

 

Before, Moo* had been “x-days old”, then “x-weeks”, finally “x-months”. But now, quite simply, she was “one”. And it suddenly sounded so grown up.

 

It’s a mother’s prerogative to go overboard

 

As a first-time mum, I found it hard to work out how to celebrate our little cherub’s first birthday. I’d never done this before, so gauging what to spend on a present, what to do for a party and who to invite were all mysteries to me.

 

After confident declarations of “we won’t do much – she won’t even understand”, we did the exact opposite. Moo ended up having not one, but three, birthday parties, three birthday cakes, and a whole host of gifts.

 

We had a birthday party with her friends (aka our friends’ children), one with her NCT baby pals, and one with family. Of course, each party needed a separate cake, decorations and activities, and there were presents galore.

 

I still (perhaps naively) claim that this was a unique birthday – her first one! Therefore, it’s only natural to go a bit overboard and get excited, right? But I can’t help but feel there will be many more birthdays to come that are met with the same enthusiasm as her first.

 

Reminiscing about last year

 

Of course, Moo’s first birthday wasn’t just special because it was such an important milestone in her life. It was also significant because it brought me back to the events of last year – her birth.

 

I found it so poignant to recall the days leading up to labour, knowing our lives would change forever but not really understanding how. And then as soon as she was born, it was like we’d never been without her.

 

She’ll probably tell me to “shutup mum” when she’s older and I’m trying to tell her the beautiful story of her birth every year on her birthday. But I still find it moving – from the speedy labour and being rushed in a wheelchair to the delivery suite, to being told she’s a girl by my husband and holding her in my arms for the first time. 

 

All of it was difficult, painful but amazing. And that’s probably one of the main reasons us mums all go a bit mad over our babies’ first birthdays. Because it reminds us of such a phenomenal point in our lives, and all the amazing changes that have occurred since.

 

Seeing the years fly by

 

In the end, our baby girl becoming one was a huge turning point for us. Not so much for Moo, who had already been walking and chatting away for a couple of months.

 

However, for my husband and I, this was the first time we could see the years fly by in front of us. Instead of feeling as though time had paused and the weeks were passing ever so slowly, like they did in the beginning, it suddenly dawned on us we’d be preparing for her second birthday before we knew it.

 

And now as I spend my weekends learning how to bake a Peppa Pig cake and trying to throw a special (albeit much smaller) celebration for Moo as she turns two, I realise we were totally on the money.