Author Archives: jennysyd

We’ve come a long way, babies!

My second baby Ben is approaching his first birthday. For me it feels a bit like I deserve a graduation ceremony for passing the baby phase for the second and almost certainly final time. For me, year one for each of my babies were probably the hardest of life.  Neither were particularly difficult babies and there were no significant dramas – this is definitely a case of it’s not them, it’s me.  I am now more than happy to admit that my cute, blue eyed little hair bears just terrified me to my very core. 

I can’t count the number of times a mum has advised me to enjoy the baby bit; “because before you know it they’ll be running around”.  I’ve always nodded enthusiastically whilst secretly thinking how much I REALLY want to get to that running around bit.  In my mind if they can run then all I really have to do is catch them and I’m darn sure I’ll be able to run faster (for the next 10 years at least).

I’ve thought so much about why it has been so hard for me.   It’s certainly not a bonding issue.  I was head over heels in love with both the little monkeys the second I knew they were in my belly.  Both of them have been nothing short of utterly mesmerising to me from the minute they arrived.  I look back at photos of them pretty much on a daily basis.  Cumulatively in both their first years we’ve had 5 professional photo shoots, I have their foot and handprints in silver, clay and on Christmas baubles.  Each of them has a fully completed “Baby’s First Year” book and each has enough blogs and magazine articles written about them to embarrass them throughout their teens.

 Was it the major life upheaval?  Was it lack of sleep?  Hormones?  Am I just not maternal?   I know so many mums who just rock the baby phase. They love every second and mourn its passing.  I’m in awe of them.   For me though, the whole thing was just, well, enormous.

Firstly, you realise when you become a mum that all the adverts, book covers and packaging photography of babies are actually not “baby babies” at all.  When you see an image of a podgy little cherub in a high chair wielding a spoon, sprouting a couple of little bottom teeth and giving you a cheeky wink, it’s likely that baby is approaching its first birthday.  A real live actual baby is about the size of THAT baby’s left leg.  It can’t see, it can’t digest, let alone hold food, it can’t smile and it doesn’t even know it has arms!

Then, there’s the responsibility of protecting something that helpless, coupled with the unfeasibly ridiculous amount that you instantly love them.  It rendered me almost incapable of breathing.  I barely slept for the first years of each of my baby’s lives.  Ironically, they did!  I remember describing one of my nights to a friend; “yeah finally got to sleep at 11, woke at 2, then 3.30, then woke up for good at 5”,   they looked at me sympathetically and told me  the baby would start sleeping through soon enough.  The baby had been sleeping through for the past 3 months. 

For me though, the clichés were all true.  It did get easier.  There is a point in time when my mummying mojo arrives and that is somewhere around the 10 months mark.  I remember the moment with Holly.  She turned that age just as it turned summer and I distinctly remember coming back to life.  I remember giggling our heads off at rhyme time at the local library, playing on swings, feeding ducks, taking her to her first friend’s birthday party and just loving every second.  No fear, definitely not all perfect but mostly just joyful.

 Only this last week, I had my turning point moment with my little Ben.  We were sat in a coffee shop waiting for Holly to finish her gymnastics class (look how far SHE’S come!).  We were playing mock battles with plastic coffee stirrers and both laughing our heads off.  I lifted him out of the high chair and held him up in front of me, he stared right at me and moved in for what might have been a kiss, a bite or simply to soothe his teething gums on my cheek, but he looked me straight in the eye, held my gaze and didn’t stop smiling.  At that moment the whole world melted away.  It was just me and my gorgeous, perfect little boy.    I realised I wasn’t scared anymore.

And so now, my baby phases are near enough complete.  I know there may be trouble ahead – another round of terrible twos (threes and a couple of fours), school, teen rebellion etc. but bring it on.  I’m not scared, just up for it and ready.  So go on my little munchkins, you run.. and I’ll catch you.  Always.

Contributed by our guest blogger Jackie Wilson. Jackie has worked extensively in marketing for brands including Twinings, Del Monte, Kingsmill and Cathedral City.  She is now living the ex-pat dream in Malaysia. She’s mum to two lovely children and is combining looking after them with some freelance writing, most recently for Bonda, the magazine for Malaysia’s equivalent of the NCT and ABWM Mag (Association of British Women in Malaysia).  Her Malaysian journey is chronicled in her blog at or if you’d like to get in touch she can be found at


How To Keep Healthy Over The Festive Period

With the arrival of Christmas comes the worry that we’re going to have to make more an effort to tighten our belts.  Whilst Christmas can be a challenge, it’s not impossible to keep healthy. Here are my top Christmas tips to prevent weight gain over the festive period.
Eat like a child: Regularly Know the importance of eating regularly (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and put it into practice. You’ll have much greater control of your caloric intake and hunger, meaning that you are less tempted by the high fat and sugar treats that float around.
Sitting on your drinks Let’s not beat around the bush, alcohol is high in calories, so going to endless parties can make managing weight difficult. Practice being ‘stealth’: develop your capacity to hold on to a drink longer than others without drawing attention to it. When consuming alcohol at social events consider spacing out your drinks with sodas. Alternatively, choose drinks that don’t need to be chilled so that you can hold on to them for longer e.g. Red wine, rum, whisky etc…
Vegetable variety Yes they are packed with vitamins, minerals and fibre (you know that already), but including vegetables at both lunch and dinner fills you up (ensuring that you are satisfied post meals). Meals don’t have to be all vegetables or all salad, just aim to make them a third of your meal.
Push it real good Kids not walking yet? Get some pavement time by pushing that pram around town for your Christmas errands. Leave the car at home and push that pram like it’s a treadmill and weight machine in one.
Think before you act Question hunger. Christmas can be a month long eating fest filled with parties and food gifts. When you’re diving into another fruit mince pie it’s important to consider if you are actually hungry… Or are you just eating it because it is there?

This time of year is difficult and it’s likely that you will slip up. Don’t worry, just take it in your stride and learn from it. Enjoy the festive period and remember: if you do better than last Christmas you have been successful!
Perryn Carroll – Registered Dietitian MNutrDiet BSP&ExSc
Twitter: @PerrynCarroll

5 reasons why women gain weight after having children?

It can at times feel like weight gain is inevitable after having kids. There are some challenges that make managing weight difficult post childbirth, but it can be mastered.

Here are 5 reasons that may be making managing weight difficult post childbirth:

Plate scraping.  Your child has some food left over (kids are great at knowing when they are hungry and full), but there’s only a little left so you eat it. Although a few spoonfuls, this can add up. Two tablespoons of rice contains around 100kcals and consuming this amount daily over a month could amount to 0.5kg (1lb) weight gain. When cleaning up, consider storing food or throwing it away.

Missing meals. As adults we struggle with eating regularly because we don’t feel hungry.  Over the years our environment and experiences have led us to lose touch with our hunger signals (even though they are still going off). Figure out why you miss breakfast or lunch or dinner and work out what you need to do, to get you eating regularly. Eating regularly has been found to be an important habit in weight control.

Master chef. Cooking 3 meals is not easy and is time consuming. You don’t intend to make variations, but previous tantrums have made you make adaptions…sound familiar?  Don’t worry, you are not alone and there are steps you can take to change things.  If certain foods are rejected, they need to be tried around 15-20 times for you to know for certain if they actually like or dislike the food.  Your kids should be eating what you eat. Not the opposite way around.

Treats for the kids. You don’t intend to eat them, but you do. You’re not alone, a lot of my mother and grandmother clients complain of picking at the treats they buy solely for their kids/grand kids. Consider the next time you go and grab a treat: do I usually grab a treat at this time? If so, there may be a pattern (boredom, stress, feeling low) which you may wish to work on.

Gym membership. You’re thinking right now ‘what gym membership?! I don’t go to the gym. I have no time’. This is exactly it, before kids you had the luxury of time (and money).  In the past you would slog it out doing regular exercise at the gym and local sports in the park.  As a mum being more active basically means moving more. Be creative, I have a lot of female clients walking their kids to and from school, extra-curricular activities and events. This is a clever way to fit in incidental exercise. They are also utilising their aerobic classes recorded from TV or DVDs, alongside their kids Wii sport games (with and without their kids).

As noted above, weight control is much more than watching what you eat. It’s about watching the habits you have changed. If you are struggling to manage your weight, I would suggest chatting to your GP who will be able to direct you to your local expert weight loss dietitians for advice.

Perryn Carroll- Registered Dietitian MNutrDiet, BSp&ExSc

Twitter: @PerrynCarroll


The second baby…..twice as nice or double the trouble?

Whilst I was pregnant with my second baby, the first a toddler of 2, I was frequently told having 2 children would be either “so much easier coz you know what you’re doing” or “it’s just literally double the work and worry”.  Now, with my little number 2 about to graduate from newborn, my conclusion is that it’s exactly and entirely BOTH those things.  Here’s how it went for me:

The “easier” bits:

  1.  The Birth:  I don’t think I’ve met a single mother who’s second birth story was worse than her first.  For me, whilst the second took longer it was undoubtedly easier.  The first time round the mounting contractions scared the wits out of me.  It’s when they start to get towards the ouchy stage and you have absolutely NO IDEA of how much more painful they are gonna get, that it messes with your head.   With my first (Holly), 2 hours in I was in a blind panic thinking Owwwwwww!  This is my limit!.. Help me!…… DRUUUUGS!!   In actual fact, half an hour later, little Miss Holly was lying on my chest and it was all forgotten.  Therein lies the rub…. when number 2 is knocking at the exit door you know EXACTLY how bad it’s going to get…and most importantly, you know you can cope, you know that you forget and you know its utterly, utterly worth every second.
  2. Letting go of your pre-baby lifestyle:  Second time round this is painless, because it’s quite simply already gone.   With number 1, I think it takes a good couple of weeks to realise that life as you knew it has pretty much packed its bags and gone to live in Australia (at least for a gap year).   By the time number 2 comes, life as you knew it has been torn down and rebuilt – and yep it’s better. You only ever really look back nostalgically – you don’t really want to go back there.
  3. Shopping:  First time round, for me, it was like – WOW there’s an entirely new sector of shopping malls that are now relevant for me.  PARTY ON!  I bought bottle warmers, singing sheep, bath liners, hundreds of baby gros (sleeveless, short sleeved, with pattern, without pattern, with sleeves but no legs…blah, blah), shoes etc etc.  By the time your first baby is 1, you discover just how much stuff you never used.  Up to 12 months, baby clothes expire in size every 3 months (or less).  You could make a marquee out of the unused babywear from baby 1.  Second time round, you just know.  And by the way, until they walk, babies really don’t need shoes (and that includes Hunter wellies and baby Havaianas, but then you should still buy them coz they’re cute).

Other things that are easier include:  dealing with nappies, curing nappy rashes (Sudocrem!), coping with little sleep and bathing baby (you’ve learned how robust they are and that having spent 9 months in water they are kind of at home there).

The harder bits:

  1.  Pregnancy:  Whilst any pregnancy comes with its own unique cocktail of aches, pains, nausea and ad hoc afflictions, the second is harder because, both to yourself and to others, you’re simply not as special.  You friends have seen what you look like as a weeble, you don’t have enough time to hang around looking serene and magical and your parents are distracted by the gift you have already given them.  Second time round, its less a celestial experience, moreover a 9 month wait with cumulative discomfort (AND with a little being tugging at your leg asking for chocolate and Peppa Pig on the Ipad).
  2. Getting anywhere by car:  I once plotted a process flow chart for getting 2 children somewhere by car.  It blows your mind.  Travel systems, buggy clips, safety harnesses, car seats, wrapping seat belts round car seats, all with an overlay of high pitched wailing and protestations.  Sometimes you will just stay at home.
  3. Weight loss:  I seem to remember that at about 6 months after Holly was born I was near enough back at my pre-baby weight (albeit with a softer belly).   I’d not done much really to get there.  I was back running (slowly and not far), whilst eating a lot more cake.  This time round at the same stage I’m still about the same weight I was when Holly was still in there.  I guess I must just be eating bigger cakes.

Things that are just the same

  1.  Illnesses:  Whilst you may not panic as much, having a sick baby is always horrible.  Even though you know about “the glass test”, any rash will stop your heart, cries in the night will jump start your heart and the sad face of a sick baby will break your heart.  No experience changes that.  Dig in.
  2. Baby weight gain tracking:  There is something about percentile charts that are designed to unnerve.   Whilst Holly was not that interested in food and it was all about getting some pounds on, with Ben I’m obsessed with his length (10th percentile.. but head is 50th… will he balance??).  Percentiles simply make you think too much.
  3. Multiple, random, daily guilt trips:  If you’re a mother and you don’t feel guilty about something, well… you should …errrr probably just feel a little bit guilty about that!

And finally, and of course the most important thing……………..

How much you love them.   There will always be something special about your first baby.  The same way there is something special about your first kiss, your first car, your first…well, you know – everything.  The thing with second babies however, is that whilst the experiences are happening for the second time, it’s still the first time you’ve met this particular little human.  That’s where its heart stopping, earth moving, life affirming magic all over again.


Contributed by our guest blogger Jackie Wilson. Jackie has worked extensively in marketing for brands including Twinings, Del Monte, Kingsmill and Cathedral City.  She is now living the ex-pIMG_4505 (1)at dream in Malaysia. She’s mum to two lovely children and is combining looking after them with some freelance writing, most recently for Bonda, the magazine for Malaysia’s equivalent of the NCT and ABWM Mag (Association of British Women in Malaysia).  Her Malaysian journey is chronicled in her blog at and if you’d like to get in touch she can be found at

How to lose your baby belly……a realistic plan

Just how long does it take for the baby belly to go down? If we were celebrities? Not long at all! This is the high standard that we have to live with (but shouldn’t compare ourselves too). I for one have not had kids (yet), but work in weight loss and hear countless women express how helpless they felt managing their weight post birth. Understandably you would feel overwhelmed! Eating for weight loss isn’t easy at the best of times, but post baby arrival can make it feel like a lost battle. I wanted to do a bit of research into the anatomy of the ‘baby belly’ just so I could get my head around the challenges that are faced…

Why does your belly still look 6 months pregnant 1 day after birth? 

Having a baby belly or ‘pregnancy pouch’ (another name) is quite normal. Throughout the 9 months of pregnancy, the body slowly caters for the little bundle of joy. When I say cater, I mean:

  • abdominal muscles stretching
  • uterus stretching
  • skin stretching

Unfortunately, these don’t just spring back into original position once your child and placenta are out. They take time to tighten.

How long does it take to ‘tighten’?

The baby centre and NHS discuss that going back to normal may take months and sometimes, the body may not return to exactly what it once was. A women’s progress will be dependent on several factors such as: weight gain during pregnancy, exercise level, normal body size/shape and genetics.

Is there anything I can do to speed this up and get back to normal? 

Cheer up -it isn’t all doom and gloom. There are things you can do to give your body a hand:

  • Breastfeeding – This has a double whammy effect because breastfeeding stimulates the uterus to contact and also burns calories. Regularly breastfeeding is the easiest way to get results for little effort.
  • Keep moving – Moving doesn’t mean marathons (Settle down perfectionist). Simply walking about routinely is beneficial.
  • Work the floor – Pelvic floor exercises help with not only tightening your core, but also with controlling a leaky bladder (common amongst women post birth). The Chartered Society of
    Physiotherapy have some good resources for pelvic floor exercises.

Although there is no particular food you can eat (sorry ladies, there’s no silver bullet), keeping a healthy diet is the key. If you need to get your weight down (your doctor or nurse can let you know this) consider these diet musts:

  • Eat regular meals – This doesn’t mean grazing, it means eating a breakfast, lunch and dinner. You’ll find this most challenging in your early weeks post birth. Here are some great suggestions I have come across – keep ready meals in the freezer, get your family to cook for you, chill/ freeze meals and have pre made sandwiches available. Something to eat is better than nothing! Skipping meals can make managing weight difficult.
  • Portion control – A well portioned meal (lunches and dinners) should be 1/3 carbohydrate, 1/3 protein and 1/3 vegetables.
  • Keep hydrated – Sip on water over the day. Concentration is supported when you are adequately hydrated. You’ll be tired (Captain Obvious statement) so instead of reaching for sugary treats, go for water instead.

Feeling too overwhelmed? Chat to a dietitian who can give you tailored advice to meet your busy lifestyle demands.

Oh and Kate Middleton, if you are reading this, congratulations for your new little family! Don’t feel pressured to lose that bump at ridiculous speeds. You are just like every other women at the end of the day!
Perryn Carroll- Registered Dietitian
MNutrDiet, BSp&ExSc

Twitter: @PerrynCarroll


5 important things to know about weaning

  1. Do not start early.

By 17 weeks or so your little one will start watching your every move, including everything you touch and what you eat.  If they are doing this, counts your stars that your baby has good eyesight, but don’t be fooled by thinking that means they want what is in your hand.  Babies are physiologically ready to wean between 24-26 weeks; starting earlier then this puts pressure on them to perform a skill their body isn’t ready for – it can put pressure on their stomach, intestines and kidneys to absorb a food they are not ready for (which may lead to long-term complications e.g. leaky gut, allergies etc) and it is more work for you, as you are trying to feed someone that isn’t ready to eat.  You have your whole life to shop, cook and clean up after them – don’t rush it!

And if you think your little one is hungry, just remember that that milk contains more calories than any weaning food, so a truly hungry baby is going to be better off with another feed rather then anything solid.

  1. Learning to chew takes practice

In the same way you didn’t expect your little one to nail rolling over, sitting or crawling day 1, it is the same with chewing.  They will gag and even have the odd vomit.  They are also likely to try and re-eat what they’ve just vomited or gagged!  It can create some less memorable moments, but gagging is normal and will happen more than once as your little one masters the concept of putting food in their mouth and then sorts out chewing.  Try not to act overly concerned when they gag or vomit – even though it can be a bit scary.  If they know they can get a reaction from you, it can become a way of gaining attention.  And most of all, don’t revert back to purees – gagging is a normal part of learning and no reason to take steps backwards.

  1.   Do not buy any fancy equipment

Of course the companies that sell the fancy equipment are going to tell you that you need them, but truly you don’t.  The only piece of equipment you really need to have in the kitchen is a potato masher to make mashed food and then lumpy-mashed food.  From there you can start cutting the meals into small pieces (ok so a knife is beneficial too).  Having lots of little freezer-friendly containers of various sizes is a definite bonus, but save your pennies that you would have spent on a puree-type machine and spend it on a massage for yourself.  You’ll enjoy it much more and won’t have to find space in the cupboard for it later on either.

  1.   Finger-foods are your best-friend.

To teach your baby to chew, the best foods are finger-foods and there aren’t many foods that can’t be offered to a baby to hold and chew/suck.  In every meal there will always be something your baby can hold to get used to the texture and have that ‘control’ over the meal that they desperately want.  Pasta, strips of meat, vegetable sticks, bread ‘soldiers’, sliced fruit, flakes of fish, chunks of potato or sweet potato… And as your little one gets more confident they will probably want to start feeding themselves the rest of the meal too.  Within weeks your little one will be able to sit and eat whilst you can do other stuff! Bliss! Check your email, call a friend, start preparing another meal, or even eat your own meal – you will love finger foods and the independence it brings you both.

  1.  It will be messy, messy, messy…

Whilst finger-food and self-feeding are good ways to avoid fussy eating, it is a messy business.  For as many things that successfully go in your baby’s mouth, there will be little bits squashed onto fingers, rubbed into eyes and hair, wiped onto highchairs, under table-tops, down table-legs, thrown onto the floor, kicked onto another chair… The list goes on.  I swear I have a 1mx1m space in my kitchen that should be the cleanest place in Britain as I’m on my hands and knees wiping it down after every snack and meal.  Instead I continue to find bits of rice, smears of yoghurt, breadcrumbs and the odd dehydrated blueberry in places you swear you cleaned earlier.  Oh and couscous? I recommend it from a Dietitian’s view on variety, but it is truly the worst thing in the world to clean up.  You have been warned.

Contributed by our guest blogger Fiona Nave, who is a Registered Dietitian. You can find her at Diet Angels and on Twitter @FionaNave


6 months of Heaven or Hell?

My story of being a stay at home dad by Greg Hart (@gregharts)

When my partner first mooted the idea of sharing her maternity leave I must admit my first thoughts (refusing to believe the ‘it’s a full time job you know’ peeps) were 6 months off, hell yes. Now don’t get me wrong I know the first 6 months are not the same as the second six and I take nothing away from the dedication and hard work that our little one was at the start, but in my mind i was thinking how hard can it be? They don’t need much I thought, a bit of milk, some sleep and a little interaction now and again. My pre-conceived perceptions of what the reality of looking after a 6 month old would be like were limited as I assume most new parents’ are, but I was certain of what I wanted it to be like – cricket in the sun (preferably without the snide comments from other members), lunch and afternoon drinks at the local with friends, watching movies at the local baby cinema screenings and generally having fun. What was there to think about?

My half of the paternity leave would be during the spring and summer, after the routine and scary newness of it all had been conquered by my partner – I responded with a definite and naive yes. Money would be a issue yes, but that was probably the only real negative I could see. So membership to the cricket purchased, multiple discussions with my boss who I know was not wholeheartedly pleased about the idea (she had three out of five members of her team going on maternity / paternity leave at the same time) but who, as we work for a large multinational with plenty of processes in place for this sort of thing, knew that she had no option. Reality bites as they say and as the fateful day approached my bravado at work was countered by a slight trepidation at home. We seemed to have been given a baby who refused to go to sleep, had constant colic / acid reflux / whatever the current internet diagnosis was for a grumpy / unsettled / normal baby. Had I made a monumental mistake? Was I stupid for thinking that it would be a fun six months off work? It was too late now. And only time would tell.

Five months of my six have now past. Far quicker than I would have liked, and I can wholeheartedly say that no it’s definitely not been a mistake, in fact it’s been one of the best times of my life right up there with my seasons snowboarding and travelling the world. Don’t get me wrong it’s not been easy, and I would never belittle the effort and energy required to be a good parent. The key I found was getting Eloise to take a nap or two during the day. This took a couple of weeks of serious effort, waiting outside her door for the screams to start and then settling her again, repeating the process countless times over the course of a couple of weeks until she got the idea. Those naps saved me. Even when she was more settled at night, and I was less knackered during the day, they allowed time to do the chores or more likely have a bit of me time, alleviating the incessant attention that babies seem to demand.

The lack of money has been a eyeopener. Things were not too bad for the first 3 months with statutory pay being used for treats for us (or me, depending on your point of view), but once this ran out and we were living on the one wage things were tight. Having to budget and think about where our money gets spent was something I hadn’t done for years although I’m not entirely sure that buying the reduced, but premium items from the meat and deli counter was the best approach to saving money.

As much as I love her, El has been frustrating at times. Using a laptop is tricky when you have a nine month old trying to wrestle the computer out of your hands or randomly tapping the keys when you type (my excuse for any spelling mistakes in this piece). The painful and total lack of respect for my hangovers (although I am sure I’ll have my opportunity for payback on that one, eventually). And I have to admit that I’ve gotten a little cross when all she wants to do is destroy my wonderful DUPLO creations.

But overall I would never have given up the time I’ve had with her. I’ve seen more of the surrounding countryside and coast than I have done in the previous 15 years that I have lived in Bristol. I’ve got to see El grow from the helpless baby that stayed wherever you put her into the crawling, pulling up little person with her own personality. I’ve seen more of my family than I have done in years (and my in-laws!), and seen the joy in their faces that she brings. I have become a better person because of her. Would I do it again? As much as I love her and my time off, probably not another child, but I’ll certainly look at taking my 12 weeks of parental leave before she goes off to school – she should be old enough to learn to snowboard by then.