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


Camping holiday with a baby (is it a holiday?) – list of essentials

Relaxing amidst lush green fields, beautiful beaches with freezing cold water, eating stinky cheese and baguettes for ten days solid and drinking only the reddest of red wine. Our camper van trip to France was full of potential for our first family of three holiday – and it was fabulous – really lovely. Daisy loved the seaside – shouting with excitement each time she saw dogs jumping the waves, ponies trotting down the beach, and seagulls swooping down to scavenge picnics. To watch her little inquisitive face trying to work out all of the new things that she was seeing was fabulous.

But seriously… nobody tells you that camping with a baby is HARD WORK! I can’t decide if we came back more tired than when we left (actually, we definitely did!), but on reflection it is definitely worth it. So go ahead and book that ferry crossing, dust down the camper and get packing.  My advice is: know your subject.

So, here is my holiday essentials checklist for camping with a baby:

          awning or  gazebo come rain or shine to avoid sunstroke and to keep the pram dry during downpours
          at least two beach or yoga mats that can be your base when back at camp and can be taken to the beach etc for picnics (beach picnic with baby on the move = very tricky)
          tiny blow up paddling pool (AKA baby bath) to keep baby clean and to cool down on a hot day (we got ours from the pound shop – best £1 I’ve ever spent)
          highchair – this may seen excessive but is probably no. 1 on my list of essentials as Daisy was SO distracted when eating picnic style as she just wanted to crawl around.  The highchair enabled me to keep my sanity during mealtimes and prevented Daisy from starving (luckily, we’d splashed out on the Baby Bjorn highchair which folds flat and is super neat, so didn’t take up too much precious room in the camper).
          sterilising tablets to keep baby alive (and another top tip: be vigilant about rabbit poo on the floor = BAD when put in baby’s mouth)
          plenty of hats / bibs / vests / weaning spoons and bowls
          easy to put on / take off cardigans and warm layers
          WET WIPES
          head torch
          warm, runny baby porridge for the morning – drunk from a bowl (I consider this to be the baby equivalent of the early morning caffeine fix….an essential kick start to the day)
          bananas (the simplest,  healthiest, easiest of all foods for littluns, non?) and other easy to access snacks (esp. for driving days)
          small selection of toys

Finally, don’t forget to take a healthy amount of humour for the ride – it was much needed at times, especially when the tiredness crept up on us!

Enjoy the trip brave travellers – your baby definitely will – but be prepared to book grandma in for a day on your return so that you can rest up and recover!


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.

Children with HIV….how you can help

By Gill Perkins, CEO Wandsworth Oasis

When Baby Jumble asked me to contribute to their blog, I was honoured and then I thought, what on earth will their supporters want to hear about from the Chief Exec of a small community charity shop chain that raises money for local people with HIV?  I thought I could write about the amazing donations we get that are children and baby related  from antique rocking horses to soiled nappies (yes, really!).  Or I could shamelessly promote our lovely charity baby shop in Mitcham Lane SW16 (but I’ll do that later!).  And then it hit me – why not talk about the work that one of the charities we support does at the coal face with children and babies affected by HIV.


I recently met with Zetta Thomelin from the fabulous Children with AIDS Charity (CWAC).  Do you ever think about children having HIV?  I confess that even though I work for an HIV related charity I was quite shocked to find that there are more than 19,000 children affected by HIV in the UK.    Zetta described this as  a’ hidden’ group of children living with perinatally acquired HIV, contracted from their mother in the womb, at the point of delivery or shortly after birth, while being breastfed.  A group that was never expected to grow from babies into children, much less teenagers and young adults.  And what’s more, the stigma that society still places on HIV has another, even more unpleasant knock-on effect: it means that children cannot be told of their diagnosis until they are judged to be able to keep it confidential.

I was also humbled by some of the work CWAC  does that I had not heard about.  We provide funding to their worthy hardship fund each year for everyday items such as bedding, clothing etc.  Between January 2010 and April 2012 the fund supported more than 2,300 children affected by HIV.   67% of the children were living with one parent; most of the families have insecure immigration status and are unable to work.  Families are living below the poverty line and are unable to cover the basic needs of their kids.  But I hadn’t known about the large increase in the number of HIV positive women in the UK expecting a baby who are applying to the fund because they cannot afford to provide formula milk for their new child – if they breast feed, there is an extremely high risk that this loving act will transmit HIV.  It costs around £600 to provide formula milk for one year, whereas it costs up to £360,000 for a lifetime supply of HIV treatment.  How fundamentally sad this is on so many levels.

It seems to me that CWAC’s Formula Milk Campaign is a real no brainer in terms of funding, so we really want to try to support this.  Baby Jumble is donating a percentage of its entry takings to Wandsworth Oasis and we will earmark the money for CWAC’s Hardship Fund for Formula Milk.  We will also be supporting their Time for Tea fundraising initiative on 4 October in at least one of our shops.  If you want to support CWAC directly, you can text CWAC21 £3 to 70070 and play your part in protecting a baby from HIV.

Baby Jumble is also donating any stock left over after its sales to us if the original owners are happy with that so I hope this helps to put into context what we do with the physical and cash donations we get from you…And a final plug for our Oasis Kids shop at 127  Mitcham Lane SW16  – it’s a lovely, bright, colourful shop well stocked with toys, clothes and equipment – so do drop in if you want need something for your kids and you can’t find it at Baby Jumble or donate your old stuff to us if you are having a clear out, but don’t want to put it in a sale.  We collect in South West London and sometimes further afield.


Yoga For Pregnancy

Guest blog by Sunnah Rose – Yoga Teacher, Pregnancy Yoga Teacher and Child Birth Educator in North London

I feel so honoured to be part of the positive experience that women go through on their journey to becoming a mother. With their body changing before their eyes, the sense of control, the harmony and the peace that Yoga helps to realise can be such a powerful benefit to mums-to-be, whether it’s their first time or if they’ve been through it before.

Yoga plays a very important role in pregnancy. It is such a wonderful time and yoga is a beautiful way for a pregnant woman to allow herself the opportunity to connect inwards with herself and her baby.

The postures and movements are all designed to ease problems that come up while pregnant and by keeping flexible and mastering different techniques Yoga can be a wonderful way to promote positive outcomes for mother and child. Even if you breeze through your pregnancy easily (lucky you!) the breath work and visualisation will help you to connect with your body and baby.

The classes are designed to give you a range of tools to take in to your birth, and working with similar movements week on week helps you to trust in your body. From experience, I know that a lot of women find themselves too much in their heads throughout pregnancy and delivery but of course the female body is a highly developed baby machine and yoga techniques are one of many great ways to recognise and trust in this.

The tools that you learn will help you through the discomfort associated with labour, will give you positive relaxation techniques and from this relaxed place, hopefully you will be able to deal with whatever comes up in as calm a space as possible.

Sunnah Rose

Another useful resource for finding yourself a brilliant local Yoga teacher is