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Before and After: A Kmart Wooden Play Kitchen Hack

I am all for upcycling and re-using what I have around the home before looking to buy new and so when I realised that our Kmart play kitchen was sitting in the kids play room, collecting dust, I was up for the challenge to revamp it and rekindle the kids interest in play.

The Kmart wooden play kitchen is a great buy and has the main features that the kids love to use during imaginative kitchen play. My girls love opening and closing all the doors, pretending to cook on the stove top and washing up in the sink. Two of the doors have plastic inserts in the doors and it didn’t take much for my girls to shatter this and I had to remove it all together. The bright red and teal colours didn’t exactly fit in with the rest of the décor either. So it was pushed into a corner and not getting much love.

My first plan was to paint it white and add some wall decal stickers or contact. But my girls are pretty rough and tumble and I know that this would get pealed off and ripped in no time.

We love rainbows and I wanted to incorporate this into our new play kitchen design. I found some lovely bright mosaic glass tiles online that were quite affordable and thought these would make a lovely splash back for the play kitchen.

To paint over the bright colours of the kmart wooden play kitchen, I used an undercoat primer in white. 

 

Next I applied a couple of coats of an interior semi gloss paint in white. 

I first mocked up a design for the tiles in a rainbow pattern on paper and then laid the kitchen down flat on it’s back and stuck the tiles down with silicone. I used a silicone gun to squeeze out a line of silicone and then stuck each individual tile down. It was simple and quick and as the silicone doesn’t dry immediately, I was able to move the tiles around if I made a mistake. I left the play kitchen to dry overnight and it was ready to go the next day!

We also added some little hooks above the sink so the girls could hang their play kitchen utensils up and some hooks on the side to hand toys. I added some clips to the “fridge” door for the girls to hang art work. They really love it and our revamped wooden play kitchen has now become a much loved unique feature in the play room! 

Here is a close up of the mosaic tiles - I chose a random selection of colours, some plain, some glitter and some have a pearl effect.

So before you throw away those old toys that the kids no longer seem interested in, I hope this gives you some inspiration to have a go at revamping them to see if you can reinvigorate their interest before buying anything new! xx

February 1st 2016 update: I am thrilled to discover that our post has been featured on Mum's Grapevine - we love this blog! Thank you for including us in your article about Kmart Kitchen Hacks :) More gorgeous Kmart Kitchen Makeover inspo can be found here: http://mumsgrapevine.com.au/2016/01/kmart-play-kitchen-hacks/

Coming soon: I am currently working on another DIY project - converting our old IKEA change table into a play market stall (inspired by the Le Toy Van Market Stall from the Honeybake series) - I will pop up a blog post on this soon, once all complete xx



We are wrapped to now offer gift cards and free gift wrap!

We know a lot of you are carefully handpicking eco friendly, natural gifts for a special new baby or for a gorgeous mumma-to-be and selecting the perfect baby shower gifts. So we thought we’d try to make life a little simpler by offering a range of environmentally friendly gift cards and a free gift wrapping service! Yay!

Once you have selected your gift and card from our range, you will have the option to add free gift wrap during the check out process:

You will have the option to include a message with your gift.

If you have purchased a gift card from our range, then your message will be handwritten inside of the card. 

If you have not purchased a gift card then your message will be written on one of our gift cards (as shown in the gift wrapped present below).

All of our cards and gift wrap are printed on recycled kraft paper and printed using environmentally friendly inks. 

You can view our range of baby gift cards here: http://www.mynaturalbaby.com.au/greeting-cards/



Homemade Blueberry Chia Coconut Ice Cream

We just whipped this up on the weekend and it was the perfect treat for a 30 degree summers day here in Sydney. The whole family loved it. Particularly as our toddler is crazy for blueberries, it was perfect. Ice cream is so easy to make yourself with the help of an ice cream maker. My mum recently purchased a fancy Thermomix so we inherited her ice cream machine. It is fast becoming one of our fave appliances, especially since ice cream is my greatest weakness! So I was so happy to find a recipe for ice cream without refined sugar and it's also dairy free. The original recipe is from Pete Evans book 'Family Food' - it's a great introduction to paleo for the whole family, I just love this book and highly recommend it as an essential for the cook book collection.

ICE CREAM INGREDIENTS:

450ml coconut cream

450ml coconut milk

4 eggs

180g (1/2 cup) honey or maple syrup (I used manuka honey)

3 T black or white chia seeds

BLUEBERRY JAM INGREDIENTS:

500g frozen blueberries

240g (2/3 cup) honey

juice of 1 lemon

METHOD:

1. To make the blueberry jam, pop the frozen blueberries into a small pot, combine with honey and juice of 1 lemon and mix well over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low to simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes (or until jam is thick) and stir occasionally. Then remove from heat and set aside to cool down. The jam will be mixed through the ice cream at the last step but there will be some left over jam so you want to keep it in an air tight container like a 750ml glass jar. Once it has cooled down, put it in your container and keep it in the fridge until ready to use it.

2. To make the ice cream, place the coconut cream and coconut milk in a saucepan and bring to the boil, stir occasionally and remove from heat.

3. Meanwhile crack the eggs into a heatproof bowl, whisk with the 180g honey until light and fluffy.

4. Pour half the hot coconut mixture into your heatproof bowl and whisk together with your light and fluffy egg/honey mix. Mix in the rest of the coconut mixture and whisk.

5. Pour this mix back into a clean saucepan over a medium heat and keep stirring until it thickens to form a custard like texture and coats the back of the spoon.

6. Using a fine sieve, strain the coconut custard mixture into a bowl. Mine looked a bit like a lumpy mush but once strained through the sieve it was all good. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge to cool for at least 2 hours.

7. Set up your ice cream maker. Pour the coconut mixture into your ice cream maker and turn it on to churn. Mine needed to churn for about 30 minutes. Check your manufacturer instructions if you are not sure how long it needs to churn. 

8. Now your coconut mixture should resemble what looks a lot more like ice cream! And tastes so scrummy! Scoop it into an air tight container and mix your blueberry mixture and chia seeds through. We used about 3/4 of the blueberry jam but I feel this was a bit too much. I really love the coconut flavour and would prefer a more subtle blueberry taste so next time I think i'll only add a bit less than half of the jam. We popped it into the freezer for a good hour before eating just to firm it up a bit more. (Hard to resist waiting that long, I know!). According to the recipe, this makes 1.3 litres.

We used blueberries this time but you could use mixed berries, strawberries or instead of making a jam, try mixing through some chopped up mango or pineapple. We even love just plain coconut ice cream and mix through some coconut shavings. The combinations are limitless. Next I think we might try some lime. 

Pete Evan's recipe also suggests trying cinnamon, cardamom, saffron, ginger, licorice or herbs such as mint and basil. Ooh that gives me an idea, mint and dark chocolate chips...um yum! Like I said, the options a limitless, enjoy!



Baby Skin Rash Causes and Natural Remedies

Both my darling daughters have sensitive and dry skin. I hate seeing my baby girl scratching away at her legs and arms, not understanding why her skin is so itchy. Most parents don’t realise this, but eczema is most common in infants where it occurs in around 1 in 5 children under 2 years of age. And with 2 under 2 years, we are constantly treating some kind of skin rash, eczema/dermatitis, cradle cap! I have spent quite a bit of time researching various eczema treatments and natural remedies to provide relief for these skin irritations. We’ve played around a lot with our diet, tried lots of different products and spent a load on various organic skin care.

While everyone’s situation, medical background and environment is different, I hope I can provide some insights based on our own experiences with infant eczema and hope that you also find it useful.

While there is no actual known cause for eczema, we do know that it typically begins due to some kind of allergy. The tricky part is that we don’t always know yet what our children and babies are allergic to in order to remove it from their environment. So we need to do a bit of detective work to figure out the root problem causing skin irritations. I look at it from 3 perspectives:

1. What are we putting into our body? 

  • Consider your bub’s diet – dairy, wheat, eggs, soya, nuts. Remember that intolerances to artificial colours and preservatives can cause skin irritations in some people.
  • If you are breastfeeding, then also keep in mind your own diet.
  • Trial a week without the suspect foods and see if it makes a difference. If your bub’s skin improves, then start introducing the foods one at a time to see if it causes the eczema to flare.
  • We tried this but found it made no difference so we then figured it is more likely a type of allergy reaction to something our babies have come into contact with. Remember, your personal situation could be different.

2. What are we putting onto our body?

  • Consider what skin care products you currently rub onto baby’s skin.
  • We found that our daughter’s skin rash became most inflamed during bath time. She sits in the bath and scratches like crazy. We stopped using the bubble bath, soap, baby shampoo and body lotion we were using at the time and now only use organic products that contain 100% organic, natural ingredients. The effect was immediate. Find out more about  certified organic skincare here.
  • After bath, we moisturise their skin with an organic moisturiser suitable for babies. You will find our recommended  organic baby moisturisers here.

Did you know that there is little regulation and legislation that protects us from harmful toxic ingredients, including known carcinogenic (cancer causing chemicals) in our cosmetics and these can be found in products for our babies too! To check out more we recommend you visit the  Campaign for Safe Cosmetics website.

And this article in NY times about Johnson’s baby shampoo is a MUST read: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/18/business/johnso...

3. What are we putting around our body?

  • Consider the home environment and items around your baby.
  • Clothing – synthetic fibres, chemically dyed, restrictive or itchy type fabrics are best avoided. They can cause itchy skin rashes and overheating. The best alternatives are bamboo, organic cotton or 100% cotton as they breathe well and are much softer on the skin. Find out more on  organic cotton clothing here.
  • Even consider the towels you are using on bub – organic cotton is luxuriously soft and gently on the skin. Remember to pat dry baby’s sensitive skin and not rub. See our range of  organic cotton towels.
  • Pets – A common misconception is that pet hair causes allergic reaction, however it is actually pet dander that creates the problem. In any case, you will notice a fairly instantaneous reaction if bub comes into contact with a pet and is allergic. Our daughter gets a bubbly looking skin rash/skin hives after touching our dog so our beloved dog has to live outside and we limit the contact they have for the time being.
  • Detergents used to clean surfaces your baby comes into contact, particularly the bathtub and floor. We found this was another major contributor to our daughters skin reaction during bath time. I realised I was using a harsh chemical based product to wash our shower and bath time – the type where you feel like you need to be wearing a gas mask after spraying! Needless to say, we converted to a  natural cleaner for the bath tub.
  • Dust mites – we shudder to think of what little mites may live in our mattresses, pillows and the soft toys that our children hug but they are hard to avoid. Dust mites can be kept to a minimum with a good trusty vacuum cleaner such as a Dyson vacuum cleaner. They often come with attachments that can be used to clean your mattress where dust mites can be lurking.
  • Generally, most houses in Australia have floorboards, but those with carpets and rugs should also consider what shampoo you use to keep your carpets and rugs clean. Regularly vacuuming is a must with kids around and especially crawlers who are always on the floor.
  • Pollen – think about the garden and what the plants in it. Inhalant allergens can sometimes cause a worsening of eczema in spring and summer. This is usually due to pollen sensitivity. Often sufferers of eczema also suffer hay fever symptoms so there could be a link there.
  • Temperature – temperature changes such as heat or overly heated rooms can lead to dry skin. We use a humidifier in both dry and cold weather.

Natural Treatments for Baby Eczema

We have used many products with varying results. I am not going to write about those that did not live up to our expectation because they are still great brands, we just found that the following products yielded better results for us.

1. Nature’s Child Wonder Balm

This has been the most used product in our household. We use it for any rash that appears be it to provide relief from heat rash, nappy rash or those eczema break outs. My eldest daughter is an avid thumb sucker to the extent of causing a bad rash on her thumbs and we have used it with success on this also. Find out more about  Nature's Child Wonder Balm here.

2. Skin Juice Green Juice Balm

Our youngest daughter has had an extremely dry scalp and we have had regular bouts of cradle cap to content with meaning she has lost most of her lovely hair. Over the past few weeks we have been regularly applying Green Juice to her scalp as part of her bath/bed time routine and it has been a miracle product for us! I have photo documented the progress along the way, although I won’t be winning any prizes for photography - it is pretty hard to take a photo of a baby’s head when they never sit still! They were taken with my phone’s camera so image quality is not the highest but the improvement to baby’s dry skin is clear and that is what I want to show.

24/9/2014: You can see from the images below the dry flakey scalp/cradle cap type skin condition. It's not the worst it has been but my daughter was waking every morning with this dry skin and so we went on the hunt for a deep moisturising balm and began applying regularly throughout the day and before bed.

baby dry scalp cradle cap back of head baby dry scalp cradle cap side of head

baby dry scalp cradle cap forehead baby dry scalp cradle cap close up

26/9/2014: Within 48 hours we could see a clear improvement to baby's dry skin. There was still some persistent dry patches on the back of her head where she rubs it in her bassinet but a definite improvement. We continued to apply regularly throughout the day and before bed.

 

28/9/2014: This is how my daughters scalp now looks - so much better than the dry crusty scalp a few days earlier! You can also see that her hair growth has improved a lot as well. I am not sure if this is related but it makes me happy none the less! We still use Green Juice nightly on her scalp after bath before bed time to prevent the skin dryness from reappearing.

baby dry scalp cradle cap treatment baby dry scalp cradle cap natural remedy

Comparing start to end:

baby dry scalp cradle cap before and after

From our experience, we would recommend a combination of either of the following (depending on you personal circumstances) for treating eczema and other common skin irritations:

  • Moisturise bub every day and as often as you need to.
  • Use cotton (preferably organic cotton) or soft fabrics. Its best to avoid rough, scratchy fibres.
  • Take lukewarm baths and showers, using mild soap or non-soap cleanser
  • Gently pat your child’s skin dry with a soft towel – do not rub.
  • Apply a moisturiser within 3 minutes after bathing to “lock in” moisture.
  • When possible, avoid rapid changes of temperature.
  • Learn your child’s eczema triggers and avoid them.
  • Use a humidifier in dry or cold weather.
  • Keep your child’s fingernails short to help keep scratching from breaking the skin.
  • You may find it helps to remove carpets from your house, and give pets dander treatments.


Survival Tactics for Two Under Two - Part Two

PART TWO - Keeping toddlers busy

Their little minds are working one hundred miles an hour. They cannot sit still. You want them to sit still so you can take care of baby! How on earth do I keep this one occupied! A couple of quick ideas…

The ‘breastfeeding’ basket: Call it what you like but basically keep a designated basket of ‘special’ toys that only come out when you need to sit and feed baby. As these are toys that only come out every so often, they are sure to keep your toddler engaged and occupied.

On that note, I have also started a collection of egg cartons, toilet rolls, old bday cards, wrapping paper, ribbons etc to create a craft box so once my toddler is ready, we can start working on some more crafty projects.

High chairs: Pop them in the high chair with some toys, pencils/paper, food they can manage on their own like fruit, carrot stick, biscuits and cheese etc to grab a few minutes to attend to your newborn without a tornado like toddler running about.

The forbidden TV: Yes I openly admit to using the TV as a temporary babysitter. It may not be ideal but when you are home by yourself and bubs nappy is full of what resembles pumpkin soup leaking down her leg and you just need a couple of minutes to deal with it, you have to do what you can amongst the chaos! These are the ‘survival’ tactics! My toddler loves Dora and Yo Gabba Gabba so I pop on an episode and attend to baby’s needs. The Wiggles’s is another fave – anything with bright colours, singing and dancing. Obviously we don't condone extended lengths of time watching TV - how boring and mind numbing - but in a hectic household, TV certainly has it's place in my opinion.

Outside time: Kids need sun and time outside to explore and exert some of that energy! They will settle easier and sleep better after some time outside. Why not kill two birds with one stone – get your toddler to help you hang out the washing, wash the dog, do the gardening etc. Also get out of the house and walk to a nearby park and play. My toddler hands me the pegs when I am hanging out the washing...before being distracted by something else! 

There are some great swing sets and play gym equipment second hand on sites like ebay and gumtree. There are also tables set up for water play and sand that look great too.

Next post we reveal the secrets to a calm baby! No really...they are just the everyday tips we have used and what seems to work for us at the moment :)



Survival Tactics for Two Under Two - Part Three

PART THREE - Keys to a calm baby

Baby isn’t quite at the stage where they can be occupied with toys, they can barely keep their head up and stop whacking themselves in the face with their tiny fists!! So we need to find ways of keeping them calm and settled while we attend to the endless needs and demands of our tornado toddlers ;) Obviously every baby is unique and Mum will know what is best to settle her baby but here are a few things that have worked for me so far:

Babywearing: Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a big advocate of babywearing and with 2 it’s really an essential part of survival!

See our previous post on babywearing: http://www.mynaturalbaby.com.au/blog/demystifying-baby-slings-and-baby-carriers/

Swaddle: like I mentioned, babies don’t yet have the ability to control their arms and these jerky movements can wake them up. Wrapping them up keeps those crazy arms at bay and helps bub feel snug meaning longer sleeps (hopefully). We love the Aden + Anais muslin wraps and yes you guessed it, they are available to purchase on our shop here: http://www.mynaturalbaby.com.au/swaddles/

Baby massage: Who doesn’t love a relaxing massage! It’s a great way to soothe baby and moisturise their skin. Make the room nice and warm and best done after a warm bath. Start at bubs feet, work up the legs, massage the upper body and once bub is fully relaxed, flip her onto her tum and use long smooth strokes down her back. We use grapeseed oil but any plant derived oil is generally fine – coconut oil smells delicious! There are also lots of organic oils available such as Baby Organics Massage Oil: http://www.mynaturalbaby.com.au/baby-organics-baby-massage-oil-250ml/

Diet: Without a doubt when you feel healthy, you feel happier. But what if I told you that what you eat can also help your baby to sleep better? Getting into the science lingo, according to La Leche League, the hormone cholecystokinine(CCK) signals sedation and a feeling of satiation and well-being. During feeding, CCK is released in both mother and infant producing a sleepy feeling. CCK is also released in the small intestine when fats and proteins are eaten. Receptors that respond to CCK are not only found in the gut but also in the brain. In the brain CCK depresses hunger, meaning the more CCK you have floating around the less hungry you are, and the less you’re likely to eat. This is why a higher-protein diet tends to make you feel fuller longer. Did you get all that? OK basically, I try to maintain a reasonable level of protein every day and keep my caffeine intake to a minimum. 

OK now my baby is waking up from a nap so I best finish this post off and will be back later to add more :)



Survival Tactics for Two Under Two - Part One

I have been blessed with two beautiful daughters, they are 17 months apart and my baby girl recently turned 3 months! So I am relatively new to the topic and I know I have a long way to go but I want to share a few of my survival tactics that have kept me going so far. Because it is hard, really hard! And I have fantastic family support and an awesome husband and even so it is still a struggle.

Those first few weeks were especially tough, but you manage by developing strategies - not all are the most conventional or going to get me nominated for ‘parent of the year’ but when you have a newborn totally dependant on you and a toddler demanding attention who cannot yet talk, tell you what they want or follow instructions, it’s all about what you can do to stay sane!

I am certainly not a parenting/health expert, these posts are based on my opinion and I am simply sharing those tried and tested tactics that have worked for us in our home and hopefully they will work for you too! Actually once I started typing and pouring it all out, I found there were so many tips that I think it is best to split them over 3 parts. This first part will focus on the changes and realisations I have had to make, along with the physical changes made to our home to adjust to our growing family…

PART ONE – Adjusting to a changing household

1. Accept it takes a village to raise a child

This is probably the biggest adjustment I have had to make. You truly need to ask for help and make sure to take all offers of help. You have to accept that you simply cannot do it all on your own. There’s an old African proverb: “it takes a village to raise a child” – notice the saying refers to one child – so it definitely requires a village to raise more than one child! As strong independent women, it does not always come naturally to us to ask for help, but we really need to learn quick in this case. Remember, it’s not a question of pride, but the wellbeing of your child/children and that of your own.

And you cannot compare yourself to other people and their family situations. I used to criticise myself and think I should be doing better. My daughters are truly angels, they are not boisterous, overly energetic or have ADHD – it should be easy! But even perfect angels can be hard work! Asking for help is not giving in or a sign of failure. There is nothing wrong with asking for help and your friends and family will be more than willing. As we are used to being so capable and independent, this is often the biggest lesson to learn.

2. Create a baby safe space

Designate an area in your home where your toddler can play without getting into anything dangerous and where you can sit with baby and feed stress free. Our back room is set up like a kindergarten room – baskets of toys, books, play kitchen, child size table and chairs and a nice big recliner chair for me. Remove clutter, set everything up at toddler level, keep it bright and fun with the decor. You can see our pinterest board for play room inspiration, we had lots of fun setting it up: http://www.pinterest.com/kellyboateng/childrens-play-room/

I can sit comfortably for my baby to feed while my toddler plays – a safety gate keeps her securely in our ‘safe zone’. This is so important especially when baby is going through a growth spurt and you can be stuck on the couch as feeds can take 30 minutes or more!

3. Change stations

We have ‘change tables’ set up all over the house! Nappies, towels, facewashers and wipes are stashed in all sorts of places – the playroom, the dining room, the kids rooms of course. This way you have everything at your fingertips to take care of nappy changing while keeping an eye on your active toddler!

4. Time Management and Lists

I can see you rolling your eyes right now at the words “time management” LOL. Seriously though, this is a survival tactic for me. I do admit, I am the queen of lists! I have notepads everywhere, whiteboards on my fridge, random lists are everywhere, I love lists! I just find it so much easier to jot down what you want to achieve – split chores between you and hubby and do what you can when the kids are asleep (or is that when we are meant to sleep? Yeah right!). Personally, I find it gives my day structure in the midst of all the chaos and I get a sense of fulfilment when I get to tick something off (even if I only got one task done!).

Do what you can online – bills, banking, grocery shopping. I love shopping online especially buying groceries online and having them delivered to my doorstep. Most major grocery shops will let you select the time you want it delivered, its so quick, easy and can be all done from my comfy recliner at any time of day or night. Best part is you save the headache of carting bored, screaming kids around the shops!

Take the time to plan out your week. Plan dinners ahead of time. Put the washing on at night time before you go to bed and then it is ready to hang out in the morning. It’s winter right now so hearty stews/casseroles/soups are great – I use the slow cooker, prep the meal in the morning, chuck it all in the pot and then less hassle during that hectic ‘witching hour’. These are some of the tactics working for me right now, you will work out what tactics work best for your household. For example, you may find it easier to make meals that use a similar base because you can make a large batch that can then be frozen and used later in the week. It sounds so simple but it really is the simple steps that can make life that much easier.

5. Learn to let go

OK so after talking about to do lists and getting things done, I think it’s appropriate to also mention that sometimes you also just have to let it go. We put so much pressure on ourselves to achieve everything and be perfect mums with a spotless home and perfect kids. But bottom line, you just have to put your babies first and deal with their needs. If it means today all you do is feed and nappy changes then so be it! The washing/cooking/cleaning and every other fun filled domestic duty can wait. If you didn’t get everything on the list complete, who cares – the kids don’t care but they do care if they are left out while you attempt to be super mum. There is always tomorrow! Our role as Mum is to care for our children and everything else comes secondary to that. Once I came to realise this, I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders (and I still need to remind myself of this from time to time).

5. Getting out and about

Don’t stress if you can’t get to the regular café’s that you used to go to. Go to the local park, have friends come over, visit their place for play dates etc. We have some fantastic kid friendly café’s in our area and I am sure you do too, research online and get out of the house. Admittedly I became somewhat of a recluse for the first few weeks but it does feel great to break the monotony of the daily routine of washing clothes/washing dishes and get outside! We have a double pram or sling and pram also works really well. Going on my own could lead to a double murder/suicide, it is definitely much easier to head out with another adult to help!

6. Mum time!

LOL does it exist? I’ve resigned to the fact that the days of going to the toilet unaccompanied are long over, it’s been well over a year since I visited the hairdresser and getting to have a shower feels like a trip to the day spa…so do we ever get time for ourselves? Well not entirely and I guess that is the trade off, we get these beautiful little beings in our life but it means we no longer get to focus only on ourselves.

I’ve managed to make it work…kind of…the other day I was standing in the shower and thinking how great it was to be alone in the shower – it’s the one time I truly get time to myself! It’s only about 15 minutes of me time but I sure do make those 15 minutes count! Once the kids are in bed, I make sure I get some pamper time in. It might include dying my hair, putting on a mud mask, plucking eye brows, nice smelling bath salts in a hot bath with a glass of wine.

It doesn't have to be pamper time, you might just want to read a chapter of a book, a trashy magazine or do some indulgent online shopping. Sometimes it happens at 6am, or 11pm but you have to find that window of opportunity to steal some mummy time. Make the most of the grandparents/friends to look after the kids so you can have a date night – either with your husband or a night out with the girls. You just have to make it happen for your own mental health!

One baby is hard enough...but two babies is a circus and it takes time to master the juggling act! Not only have we had to learn tactics to keep ourselves balanced, we have had to learn strategies to keep our toddler occupied while we attend to our newborn. We've had to revisit our baby settling techniques too! Keep an eye on this space for our next 2 posts on these exact topics...



​Demystifying baby slings and baby carriers

There has been a lot of focus in the media recently[1&91; about the use of baby slings and for good reason. The selection of baby products out there, all of which are meant to make life easier, is really overwhelming. Like we don’t have enough decisions and choices to make already! So it is not surprising that there is a lot of general confusion around baby-wearing options and how to correctly use them.

While the media attention does pull on parents worst fears of losing their baby (due to incorrect use leading to suffocation), it brings an important point of safety and education to the discussion forefront. At My Natural Baby, we advocate the use of baby slings for the many benefits it provides; we have personally tried and tested many brands of baby slings, wraps and carriers and sell the popular Hug-a-Bub baby wraps. We want to try our best to put together an ‘easy to use’ guide on baby wearing in the hope of clearing up some of the confusion and making choices easier.

Baby wearing jargon buster…

Baby sling, baby sling carrier, ring sling, pouch baby sling, baby wrap, wraparound sling, baby carrier, mei tai baby carrier….there are so many names out there – what is what, what is the difference, which is best?

Essentially there are 3 main options when it comes to baby wearing:

Type Baby Sling

Baby Wrap

Baby Carrier

Description: A long piece of fabric that loops through a ring into a sling and worn over one shoulder. Baby can be worn upright, in-ward facing, out-ward facing or in the peadpod position (across your body) and on your back. A long piece of fabric that wraps around the baby and parent’s body to support the weight of the baby. Baby can be worn upright, in-ward facing and outward facing. A structured carrier that includes straps similar to a back pack that can be adjusted and clips into place.

Baby can be worn in-ward facing or out-ward facing and some carriers allow you to use it on your back.

Ideal for: It is quick and handy to grab and put on.

Perfect for travelling and breast feeding on the go.

Wearing for short periods of time i.e while doing grocery shopping.

Keeping bub close to you while being able to be hands free. There is something about the wrapped up feel that makes bub feel extra secure.

Great head support for smaller bubs.

Perfect for travelling and breast feeding on the go.

It is set up ready to go, no learning how to wrap, fairly easy to put on and straps are easily adjusted.

Provides the best support as baby gets heavier at toddler stage.

Perfect for travelling and breast feeding on the go.

You may not like: The back carry position takes a couple of goes to learn but well worth it.

Weight distribution is on one shoulder and can get tiring – like carrying that heavy hand bag!

Not the best support offered for heavier bubs or as they get bigger – you would only be able to carry a toddle for short time.

It definitely takes a few goes to learn how to put it on but once you nail it, it’s a piece of cake.

Better suited for smaller bubs and not for toddler stage.

Bub is wrapped quite close to our body with skin to skin contact, while this is a plus for making bub feel secure, also be mindful to not let bub overheat.

Some carriers require you to purchase an additional insert to wear with newborn baby.

Made from thicker fabrics so also need to be mindful to not let bub overheat.

So many choices, how to decide?

  • We aren’t going to enter a discussion around the difference between brands like baby bjorn vs ergo baby vs manduca and the like. As with all products, researching online, reading forums, product review sites, asking other parents etc is a great place to start.
  • Take your baby into your local baby shop and try different baby carrying options. Your bub may end up making the choice for you! You may feel different carriers provide you with the support you need. It’s really a case of try before you buy.
  • While personal preference plays a part, it is also important to ensure the baby sling you choose provides good head support, provides good airflow and keeps bub’s spine straight.[2&91;
  • Always look for brands that provide clear instructions on how to use the product safely and choose one that you feel comfortable and confident in using.

We do have to warn you though – baby-wearing products become addictive – you may find you end up with a couple of baby wraps and carriers! There are so many beautiful fabrics and options available – it is very hard to stop at one! Personally, I used the hug-a-bub for my daughter up until about 12 months, now I can’t live without my ergo baby.

Baby sling safety…

The biggest risk of sling use is suffocation. After a study found that parents are unclear on the safe practice of using slings, The Queensland Office of Fair Trading is now working towards building an educational resource with reliable product safety information[3&91;. But really, it’s fairly straightforward:

  • Make sure bub’s face and air ways are uncovered and unobstructed at all times, keeping the sling tight to avoid bub falling into the slumped, chin-to-chest position.
  • Regularly check your baby and ensure they are not overheating and can breathe easily.
  • Don’t do anything to put your baby at risk i.e go for a run while wearing baby, bend over where baby could fall out etc – if you wouldn’t do it while holding your baby in your arms, then don’t do it while they are in the sling!
  • Follow the instructions that come with your baby sling – especially age guidelines. Generally after 4 months of age is considered safest but will vary from bub to bub and weight factors, particularly when bub can hold it's head up.
  • Like all your baby goods, regularly check them for wear and tear and toss them if they are no longer up to standard.

And just in case that is all too much to remember – there is an acronym to help:

T - Tight

I – In view at all times

C – Close enough to kiss

K – Keep chin off the chest

S – Supported back

For more information, there are babywearing meet up groups all around Australia: http://www.slingmeetsaustralia.com/

For our selection of organic cotton baby wrap carriers: http://www.mynaturalbaby.com.au/wrap-carriers/


[1&91; http://www.smh.com.au/national/baby-sling-safety-...

[2&91; https://www.productsafety.gov.au/content/index.ph...

[3&91; http://www.fairtrading.qld.gov.au/baby-slings.htm



Breastfeeding and need to increase your milk supply?

I am currently going through the oh so joyous patch of pregnancy: feeling exhausted, nauseas, sensitive to food smells and generally I’m just a whole lot of fun to hang around! The morning sickness (which for me hits by mid afternoon and I feel the worst at dinner time) has really decreased my appetite. I’m trying to eat what I can, but it’s bloody hard to stomach it. I’m still breastfeeding my 11 month old and with the sickness and lack of food, I can feel the effects it’s now having on my breastmilk and it is noticeably lower. This, of course, leads to a grumpy bubby and I’m sure its part of the reason for her waking up more during the night lately. You can see the cycle here and a wakeful baby means Mum is even more exhausted. It’s not ideal, so I’m trying everything I can to find food I can eat, hold down and boost my milk supply. Phew, the challenges us Mum’s face!

I came across this recipe for Lactation Cookies and decided to give it a try. The key ingredient that is meant to boost your breastmilk is the Brewers Yeast so you cannot substitute this ingredient for something else! It is not that easy to find but I’ll share the link to the online store where I purchased it from – I believe it can be found at most major health food shops. The oats are also another important lactogenic.

I purchased the Brewers Yeast and Flaxseed meal both from the following website, they delivered in approx 2 days so fairly quick turn around: http://www.aussiehealthproducts.com.au/

I managed to prep and bake the cookies in under 30mins and the recipe was very easy to follow, even if you aren’t a whiz in the kitchen. It made 14 cookies – I made mine fairly big and chunky as I like soft centres in cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup self raising wholemeal flour (if you have plain flour, add 1/2 tsp baking powder)
  • 1/2 cup low fat butter (for a healthier option, use organic, virgin coconut oil instead which is super good for you!)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (if wanting to reduce sugar, you could try just 1/2 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla (optional, for flavour)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional, for flavour)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of brewers yeast (do not substitute with bakers yeast or any other yeast).
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (use himalayan salt if possible)
  • 1 & 1/2 cups oats (get the thicker cut oats if you can) 

Method:

  • Pre-heat oven to 170C or 338F
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar then add the egg and vanilla. Mix well.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the flaxseed and water, let sit for a few minutes before adding to mix.
  • Add the dry ingredients (apart from the oats and your additional ingredients) and mix well again.
  • Finally, stir in the oats.
  • Make the biscuits (I use a desert spoon as a rough size guide) and place them onto a lightly greased or lined baking tray. Flatten them a little with your fingers or a spatula – if you like a soft centre, don’t squish them down too much.
  • Bake for around 10-12 minutes depending on how well cooked/crunchy you like your biscuits – I prefer them a little soft and lightly cooked. 

Overall, they smelt delicious – and that is saying a lot given my food smell sensitivities lately! They tasted OK, mind you I put a generous sized 2 tablespoons of brewers yeast as I’m fairly desperate for this to be the golden solution to my milk supply shortage! This will make the cookies have a slightly bitter taste so you definitely need to balance it out with a generous dose of brown sugar – or you could try adding in choc chips etc.

Besides the cookies, I have also been having a couple of cups of Weleda’s Nursing Tea. The tea contains Fenugreek seed, Anise seed, Fennel bitter seed, Caraway seed and Lemon leaves. It tastes OK, I am pretty used to it now. There is a health warning on the packaging to avoid this tea if you suffer diabetes and are allergic to any of the ingredients – you definitely need to review this for yourself. My Natural Baby currently don’t stock Nursing Tea but you can purchase this for $16.25 for a pack of 20 tea bags from one of my favourite online shops: http://www.nursingangel.com.au/

Along similar lines, you could buy fresh fennel and add it to salads, soups, curry etc. In general, a healthy diet high in protein, iron, B vitamins and essential fatty acids is important to maintain your energy levels and milk supply.

I hope they help solve any milk supply issues you are going through but if not, I also found these resources to be really useful:

You can’t go past the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) website for expert information and how to get in contact with lactation consultants and breastfeeding support groups: https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/

I am a member of ABA and personally I have found the support groups to be so beneficial. You are joined by like-minded mum’s who are also great advocates of breastfeeding and natural, attachment parenting ideals.

The Royal Women’s Hospital have some great fact sheets available on lots of topics including breastfeeding: http://www.thewomens.org.au/Breastfeeding

Pinky McKay’s website and blog are full of helpful articles on breastfeeding and other parenting matters: http://www.pinkymckay.com.au/

I’d also recommend following Pinky on facebook as the community posts from other mum’s are also really insightful and helpful.

I hope by sharing my own personal experience, that this helps other Mum's in similar situations or just trying to increase breastmilk supply in general. Good luck on your own adventure :)



Exercise During Pregnancy

We recently found out the fantastic news that we are expecting baby #2! Even though I have been through pregnancy already, I feel like I need a refresher course! And just when I had got used to eating my favourite camembert cheese, sashimi and the occasional glass of wine, I now once again need to be conscious of what I am eating. Not just food wise, I also want to maintain my exercise regime but I am just so darn exhausted these days and I now need to consider what level of exercise is safe during pregnancy? I had to start my research all over again and so I figured this time I am going to record my findings.

Now the following information has been sources from the internet and I am by no means a health professional giving advice here. This is purely a summary run down of what I have ‘googled’. It is always strongly recommended to seek the advice of your doctor, physiotherapist or health professional before starting a new exercise program as every pregnancy is different.

Types of exercise during pregnancy:

Generally, the health websites tend to suggest gentle, moderate types of exercise can be beneficial during pregnancy. Suggested exercise includes: 

  • Walking
  • Swimming and exercise in water such as aquarobics
  • Yoga
  • Tai Chi
  • Dancing
  • Pilates
  • Pregnancy exercise classes

Are you part of a Mother’s Group? You could start a pram-walking group in your local area. Pick a nice place like a pathway close to the beach, where you can meet and stroll along together. End the walk at a nice local café.

Yoga, pilates, dancing etc are particularly good for focusing on the pelvic floor muscles. This is one area I did not give enough attention to during my first pregnancy and I definitely underestimated the effects of pregnancy and birth on the pelvic floor. I cannot emphasise the importance of pelvic floor exercises enough!

It also depends on what your level of activity was prior to the pregnancy. If you are someone who jogs daily, then in moderation it is seen to be safe to continue to do so.

Caution during exercise when pregnant:

There are key things you want to avoid during exercise while pregnant:

  • You don’t want to raise your body temperature too high and avoid exercise to the point of excess sweating. Reduce the intensity or avoid exercise on hot and humid days.
  • You know your body and it’s limits. Don’t over-exert yourself. It’s not a body building competition! If you feel tired, don’t push yourself. There is always tomorrow.
  • We are always told to avoid lifting heavy weight during pregnancy. Use common sense and if you decide to continue with weight training, use low weights.
  • The Vic Better Health website suggests “always work at less than 75 per cent of your maximum heart rate.”
  • Always have plenty of water with you.

Resources on exercising while pregnant:

Here is a list of websites I found to be really informative on exercise during pregnancy as well as classes that are available around Sydney:

Sutherland Shire Leisure Centre has some great information on pregnancy and exercise and also runs various programs such as aquarobics, yoga, body balance etc. 

Sydney Aquanatal classes – combined water fitness and birth preparation classes, run by qualified midwifes and health professionals.

I attended yoga classes during my first pregnancy and I am sure it helped me during labour. It is easy to google your local yoga centre and find out if they run pre-natal classes. I have also been recommended Body Awakenings at Gymea.

The Victoria Better Health website always has great information on lots of health topics:

Pregnancy and exercise

Pelvic floor

Postnatal exercise (sample work out)



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