Category Archives: Ms Conception

Joining a Mothers Group – it’s all about you

Joining a mums group is not about baby. No way. It is all about you: getting you out of the house, interacting with other adults and giving you an opportunity to vent with a bunch sisters in arms that are fighting the same battle you are. A sense of normality and sanity is what joining a mothers group can give you.

Being the first of my friends to have a baby and having moved to the other side of the country only a year before becoming a mum, I felt pretty isolated.  My community health nurse told me about a group starting up for new mums in my area so I decided to go along and see what it was all about.  I have never regretted it.

Despite the range of ages, ethnicities, professions, beliefs and life experiences of the 12 women in my new mums group, we all had a lot in common thanks to our bubs, who were born within 8 weeks of one another.  We found that we would be experiencing many of the same issues at the same time and could share tips and advice with one another on how we were dealing with our problems.

Being part of one of these groups is a great way to develop friendships with other new mums and gives you an avenue for gaining some reassurance. By sharing experiences with other new mums, you will find that your are not only dealing with a lot of the same baby issues but similar emotional, physical, social and financial issues as well.

If you wondering whether your baby is developing normally for their age, seeing how other babies of a similar age are coming along definitely gives you some piece of mind: another great reason to join a mothers group.  Having a bunch of bubs in one place also gives your baby an opportunity to socialise, which benefits their development.

It’s not all serious stuff though.  In fact, our group was quite informal, usually meeting in the park, café or someone’s home. We’d chat about everything from sleep deprivation, sore nipples and sex (or the lack of it) to how our husbands were getting on our nerves.  And, or course, no girly chat can ever exclude the subject of shopping.  Mums group was a great way to find out exactly what certain products were like from people who had tried them out for themselves such as modern cloth nappies, toys, books, teething rings, breast pumps, bottles, teats, lotions, sleeping bags, medications and more.

Mothers groups, parenting groups, baby playgroups – whatever you want to call them, if you are not part of one, you are truly missing out.

Parenting By The Clock

If you can cope with being a parent without having a set daily routine for your children, well you are a better woman than I.  As a mother of two, I couldn’t live without routines.  I think they the cornerstone to parenting and a vital part of life for parents and children alike.

Kids are chaotic and unpredictable, but having a routine can give bring some semblance of order to your world.  Parenting by the clock may sound like a silly, unrealistic or even cruel to some – especially grown-ups who have never lived by much of a routine themselves – but in fact, children thrive on routines.  Routines provide kids with the predictability of knowing what is coming next and since they know what is happening they also know what is expected of them and therfore (usually!) behave accordingly.

So for example, by following a feed-play-sleep routine with your baby, your baby will be less resistant to sleeping when you put him down.  In fact, having routines help to program baby’s circadian rhythms – by feeding and putting them to sleep at the same times everyday, they will become hungry or sleepy at these times each day.

With my first child Alisha, I breast-fed on demand and let her establish her own sleep routines – you know, the usually rookie mistakes inspired by the whole politically-correct child-centred parenting school of thought.  I was able to keep this up for around 3 months before – in exhaustion – I said enough is enough.  We moved onto routine feeding and sleeping times and life became a lot more orderly and happier for all of us.  Not to mention that Alisha became a much more settled child since.

Learning from this experience, I started my second born, Sara, on routine feeds and sleep times from the time she was one week old.  I have never had a problem with her being overtired or unsettled.  She is a really happy and content baby which I believe is largely to do with my strict adherence to routines. In fact, by being a by-the-clock parent, I haven’t found looking after two little ones, working part time, keeping fit and maintaining a household as difficult as I thought it would be!

In contrast, I have family and friends that have never set routines for their kids and they are constantly on the back foot.  Every meal, bed time every night – EVERYTHING – is a battle between them and their kids.  Yet they wonder why their children are always so well behaved we they are at daycare, kindy, school or my house where everything has a time and a place?





Baby Bookworm: why reading to your baby is important

Reading to your baby is one of the best things you can ever do for your child.  Although you may feel silly doing it because you don’t think they’re paying attention or understanding exactly what you are saying, you are in fact encouraging early brain development and helping to develop language and pre-literacy skills. With around three quarters of human brain development occurring before three years of age, being read to from as early possible helps to lay the foundations children need to learn how to read, write and perform well in the classroom.

I started reading to my eldest child Alisha daily from around the time she was three months old.  As time went on, we both came to love snuggling up and having that one-on-one time with together each day.  I maintained reading as part of our routine because of this bonding element, not because of some underlying ambition I could nurture a baby genius. At best I was hoping Alisha would develop a love of learning.

To my astonishment, Alisha starting talking at 10 months of age.  By 15 months of age, Alisha had a vocabulary of around 50 words and could easily follow two-step instructions.  At 18 months of age, she now has a vocabulary of well over 100 words and is joining words together to make short phrases of 2 to 4 words – all skills which are not generally expected until age two and beyond. Nowadays, after we’ve tucked her in, every night she sneaks out of bed to pull a bunch of books off her shelf and we can hear her flicking through them and babbling to herself.

Four-month-old baby Sara also now joins in with daily story time.  Sara loves listening to my voice and watching my face as I read aloud as well as looking at the pictures.  Alisha even stops me during the story to point things out in the pictures to Sara, which is really sweet to see.

If you want to start sharing books with your little one, I suggest you start with board books because they are more durable and it’s easier for little fingers to turn the pages. Babies also love books that are interactive such as those with touch and feel elements or flip-flaps.

I don’t think children can ever have too many books.  As a mum of two, here are my top five baby book selections:

  • Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
  • Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill
  • Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  • Itsy Bitsy Babies by Margaret Wild and Jan Ornerod

Nurturing your parent-child bond, encouraging speech development and giving your child a head start in their education: who would’ve thought books were so powerful?


Are Baby Travel Systems Worth It?

Baby Travel SystemsGetting your baby from A to B is nothing short of a logistical nightmare, but thankfully there’s a logistical blessing; baby travel systems!

Ever since the arrival of my second child, it never ceases to amaze me how something so small needs so much stuff just to make it through a short outing comfortably and safely.  Although I never had the luxury of one myself, many other parents I know found baby travel systems a simple way to make taking baby out and about a less arduous task.

Baby travel systems are a combination of items that fit together to help you move your baby around with ease.  Systems are usually comprised of a stroller, car seat and carry cot.  The mums and dads that I know who swear by baby travel systems love them because they enable you to move your baby without waking them.  For anyone who has had problems getting their baby to sleep or ever dealt with an overtired bub knows that this in itself makes these systems a worthwhile investment.

When I was searching for the car seat and stroller best for me, I decided to steer clear of baby travel systems because I didn’t want to be locked-into using the same brand for all of my baby things.  This was a choice based on my budget, style preferences, needs and my perception of the quality and usefulness of the individual components that comprise baby travel systems.

Many of the baby travel systems I saw came with things that I didn’t want or need, like change bags and boot covers.  I found it cheaper to just mix and match the items I needed, which I narrowed down a stroller, car seat and infant carrier. The strollers that were part of a system were lightweight and compact but I didn’t think that they looked particularly sturdy or long-lasting which I thought was important considering how much wear and tear this item would have to endure.

When choosing baby things, another reason I didn’t go for a travel system was because I didn’t like the idea of a carry cot, firstly because I didn’t think I would use one for long enough to justify the purchase.  The second reason was that I thought it would be cumbersome and awkward carrying one around, especially while shopping. This is why I chose an infant carrier instead – the closeness of wearing your baby usually puts them to sleep while allowing you to have two hands free.

Whether you choose to buy individual travel pieces or baby travel systems, shopping for baby things, particularly for your first one, is like navigating a minefield: your purchases will either be hit or miss.  Some of the baby things you buy will be utterly useless while you will find others to be indispensable.  It’s all part of the learning process of becoming a parent.

The Sucky Side to Parenting

My kid’s a thumb-sucker, so what? It doesn’t both me one bit. But I’m so surprised how so many people – including complete strangers – seem to have such strong opinions on the matter.  The reality is that babies love to suck. Thumbs, fingers, toes, pacifiers (AKA dummies or binkies depending which part of the world you live in), boobies, random household objects, you name it they’ll put it in their mouth.

Bearing the constant barrage of thumb-sucking critics is probably just karma’s way of paying me back for being such a dummy-hater.  I have a few reasons for my position on pacifiers.  Firstly, my teeth are crooked because I refused to give up my dummies.   My parents struggled to get me to kick the habit – in fact, I was sucking on dummies for so long that I can actually remember using them.

I’m not a fan of pacifiers after witnessing countless numbers of 4 and 5 year olds – yes, quite big kids – screaming at their mothers, “Give me my dummy!”  I swore never to be on the receiving end of one of these tantrums. I also just hate the look of dummies – especially when bigger kids are sucking on them.  I know it’s a trivial thing, but it just annoys me.

My 1½-year old, Alisha, started thumb-sucking when she learned how to settle herself to sleep at around 4 months of age.  Since then, she sucks her thumb when she gets tired or stressed.  It provides her with a great source of self-regulated comfort – she just pops it in herself when she needs it.  For my part, I have never had to worry about putting a fallen pacifier back in Alisha’s mouth to help her sleep, lost or dropped dummies.

I also figure that if she wants to suck her thumb, let her, she will stop when she is ready.  As for the criticisms that it will ruin her teeth, well they seem to be perfectly straight so far.  Plus, I used a dummy and my teeth didn’t turn out too great so I don’t really think that’s a valid argument.

I’ve also been told that thumb-sucking leads to speech difficulties.  So far, this has also proven untrue. Alisha began talking in short sentences from 16 months of age and with excellent pronunciation.

If Alisha doesn’t learn how to stop on her own before she starts school, my only concern is that she will be teased.  But then again, that’s just what school is like isn’t it? Every one get’s teased for something.  If it’s not for being a thumb sucker, it’s for what’s in your lunchbox, having a funny-sounding name, being a slow runner or maybe even for having crooked teeth after being allowed to suck a dummy for too long!