When I first thought about adding our Mother and Baby Gift section to our website I knew I wanted to include some fantastic mum run brands and Cheeky Chompers is exactly that! Run by two mums, Amy and Julie who started the business while on maternity leave. They were fed up of picking up and sterilising dropped teethers and thought ‘Why doesn’t someone invent a teether that stays attached to the baby’? The idea for their bibs-come-teethers was born and their first product was officially launched in 2013. Since then they've become a nappy bag must have with a print for every occasion and taste and most importantly they're stringently tested to worldwide standard. Amy and Julie are still working hard to extend their brand and offer new loads of new products with their signature multifunctional uses and stylish designs. We've handpicked a few for you here!
The first year of a baby's life sees a lot of developmental changes, from that first toothless chuckle to learning to roll over then sit up and another big one – weaning! At around six months of age, it's time to introduce solid foods to an otherwise milk-only diet in your baby's life. But this is no mean feat, nor a small step in your baby's life – it is, after all, their introduction to food, and that is an important relationship for life!
So here are five tried-and-tested and mum and expert-certified tips for making the whole process of weaning less stressful and more enjoyable for both baby and mum.
It's also important to see if your baby is able to sit up on his/her own or with some support, and is able to hold his/her head in a steady position – (and that usually happens at around six months) – so there is no risk of choking. Also, babies have better co-ordination at this age, which helps making the process of eating and feeding themselves easier. And lastly, they are also more capable of keeping the food in their mouth and swallowing it rather than spitting it out.
Weaning takes time and patience, so make sure you don't start when you are travelling for instance, or starting a new job. Choosing the right time – and equipment, such as a good children's highchair – makes all the difference.
2. Make the 'idea' of eating familiar and enjoyable
As mentioned earlier, weaning takes a lot of time and patience. It is an entirely new concept for your baby, so it mustn't be rushed. There will be many trial-and-error moments, times when your baby will not co-operate or even downright refuse, and boy will there be a lot of mess! However, at this point the idea is to make your baby familiar with the concept of solid food and the process of eating i.e. putting food in their mouth, chewing it and exploring new tastes and textures. At the beginning, the amount of food your baby eats is not as important as how he/she responds to food and the idea of eating.
Make it an enjoyable process and go according to your baby's cues and you will be rewarded later on – after all, a child's lifelong relationship with food begins here.
3. Start with vegetables, not fruits (or anything sweet)
It's very tempting (and a common notion) to start weaning with fruit purees, but it might make more sense to start with vegetables first. The reason being fruits are far sweeter, and if your child has tasted sweeter foods, he/she might not want or accept other less-sweet flavours. Once your baby has accepted other flavours, then mix a little fruit or introduce fruit purees. It's also important to remember not to add salt or sugar to your baby's food as both are harmful at this age.
4. Spoon-fed or baby-led weaning?
This is a big question for mums: should you feed your baby or opt for baby-led weaning? Again, as with all things baby-related, there is no right or wrong answer. Do what you feel works best for you and your baby. Experiment with both, perhaps, and see which method your baby prefers?
Else, start with spoon-feeding so it is easier for both you and your baby, and once he/she is comfortable with the idea of eating, leave him/her to experiment with foods and flavours. Offer various soft finger foods so it's easier to touch and feel the food, and put it in their mouth. If you're using a spoon, offer another one to your baby who might imitate you and attempt to feed him/herself.
5. Experiment… but with caution
While the first few months of weaning are all about experimenting with textures (puree, mashed, lumpy, soft solids) and flavours (try mixing different foods together), it is also important to be mindful of certain things.
Never introduce two or more different foods at the same time – so incase your baby has an allergic reaction, you know exactly which food caused it. Certain foods like eggs and berries sometimes cause rashes or mild allergies in babies, so be alert when introducing these for the first time.
Be cautious the first time you give your baby anything with nuts in it – incase he/she is allergic to nuts. And never give babies (or even toddlers) whole nuts for risk of choking.
When offering finger food/ non-pureed foods to your baby, make sure the pieces are small and soft. Babies don't have all their teeth as yet and will not be able to bite/ chew properly. Always supervise your baby when he/she is eating.
Before becoming Mum, Nicole was a Lifestyle journalist with a national newspaper. She now juggles motherhood, blogging and life and documents it all on her Parenting and Lifestyle blog Tales from Mamaville. You can follow her on:
Cloth nappies have had quite the overhaul in recent years: Raggedy fabrics and safety pins are out and beautiful prints with modern fastenings are in! Using cloth nappies needn't be a complete swap from disposables either as many people use a combination of cloth and disposable nappies and find that part time cloth is what works for them. Still thinking about using cloth nappies? Here are some of the pros and cons and figure out if they’re the right fit for your family.
The Environment They’re reusable meaning a huge reduction in nappies going to landfill where it's estimated they can take anywhere between 250 and 500 years to decompose. Even just replacing one disposable nappy per day will save on average of 700 nappies going to landfill per child. Other environmental benefits will depend on how many cloth nappies you choose to buy and where they are manufactured to determine the full environmental benefit eg buying second hand is a lot more environmentally friendly than buying new. But on the whole even factoring in manufacture and washing costs cloth nappies are considered much more environmentally friendly than disposables.
Avoids Chemicals Disposable nappies contain chemicals which many mums prefer to avoid and can irritate a baby's bottom.
Cost It's estimated that the cost of using disposable nappies varies from £210-£450 per year depending on brand and number of changes per day. As most children don’t potty train until at least 2 years old the cost of disposables really adds up. Cloth nappy costs also depend on the type of nappy you choose and the brand. Although it can be considered expensive to start, the savings over two years can be anywhere between £80-£700. Plus cloth nappies can be used for more than one child so if you reuse your cloth nappy stash with future babies it won't cost you any more other than washing costs. Cloth nappies also hold their value incredibly well for reselling after you've finished so many people make a good chunk of their initial investment back at the end of their cloth nappy journey.
Never running out! Ok, so you may run out of clean cloth nappies if you're not on top of your washing but switching to cloth should mean mo more panicked trips to collect emergency nappies and no more nappies taking up valuable space in your shopping trolley.
Potential for easier and earlier potty training Cloth diapers are thought to promote early potty training because your baby can actually feel the wetness against their skin. Disposables are so good at whickimg moisture away from baby that children can take longer to realise when they're going for a wee thus often making potty training a little harder.
Solid waste gets flushed down the toilet Breastfed poos can be washed out in the washing machine and post weaning poos can be emptied into the loo and flushed immediately. So no more poos sitting in your bin and festering on those hot summer days!
Less nappy rash Cloth nappies are made of natural breathable fibers which allow air to circulate around baby's bottom therefore reducing the likelihood of nappy rash.
They look beautiful! There really is a whole world of beautiful cloth nappies available for your little one. From colourful prints to solid colours there really is something for everyone!
High upfront cost You'll pay for most of your nappies early on in your baby's life rather than spreading the cost through their whole nappy journey as you would with disposables so you will have to pay out more in the beginnning.
Convenience They need to be clean and dry for you to use so you need to be a bit more organised to ensure you have them ready for your little one. Plus if you run out when out and about you can't always find them in shops as readily as you would disposables.
Time It can take time to find the right fit for your child and the right style that works for your lifestyle, although this is often also the case when using disposables. You will probably want to research the different types available and experiment with a few different brands before investing too heavily in one brand or style. Local nappy librarys can help a great deal with this but can be dependent on the area you live in.
Extra washing Most people wash their nappies every 2-3 days to ensure they have fresh nappies available which does mean extra loads in the washing machine which can be more challenging especially if you're reliant on a laundromat rather than having your own machine or struggle for space for things to dry in colder months.
Greater chance of leaks Cloth nappies aren’t as absorbent as their disposable counterparts, making them more prone to leaks. You’ll have to make sure you have the right kind and number of insert(s) to accommodate your wetter. You’ll also need to make sure you have a proper fit, with no gaps around your baby’s legs or very soon you could be spotting wet patches on your little one.
You have to clean poo off them Yes, cloth nappies require you clean the poo off of them before washing if your baby has been weaned onto solids so theyre not for the very squeemish or poo averse. (Realistically though many mums become quite desensitised to poo after having a baby and don't find this a huge drawback!)
They can look more bulky Cloth nappies tend to be bigger so you might find certain styles of clothes (such as skinny jeans) more challenging to wear.
Spriraling costs With all the beautiful prints available like anything some people can become addicted to buying the newest print or style to match to baby's wardrobe or for special occasions. This can mean you end up spending much more than you really need to.
I remember asking a lot of mum friends how it was having two when I still just had the one. It was clear everyone has a different experience with their second child. A big factor that came in to play was the age gap between babies but regardless there were still lots of similarities with what people said, things I can now identify with having two myself with a two year age gap.
Everything was unknown first time round First time round everything was new to us as parents. Each week or month it felt like there was a new milestone or development we needed to be supporting our child with and each seemed to require hours of Google research before we could make a decision on how to tackle it. I felt like I was always worrying if I was doing the right thing. Second time round you have the benefit of experience and hindsight, you know what works for you and your family whether it be sleep routines, weaning or simple logistics of the best way to get from A to B. It's a good feeling to finally realise just how much you have learnt from your first child.
Time Looking after one baby was a full time job, everything was carefully scheduled around naps, mealtimes and bedtime. When I had my second it was very different as number 2 just had to slot in around my first's routine and actually that worked fine, especially in the early days when you really appreciate just how much they sleep to begin with! Yes it's hectic with two, there were certainly times when I looked back and wondered what on earth I was doing all day with just one especially when I hit that magical period with one child who always took a two hour afternoon nap - those were the glory days! Also with two I really learnt how to juggle lots of plates at once, whether it be entertaining a toddler while breastfeeding, keeping two entertained in the supermarket trolley or pottytraining one while dealing with a newborn. Multitasking became second nature and baby wearing was a total lifesaver to free up my hands!
Clothes First time around we bought clothes as and when we needed them and carefully washed and stored them when they had been grown out of. Second time round we seem to have endless stashes of clothes in various sizes: Things for child 1 to grow in to, things child 1 wears, things child 1 has grown out of but are still too big for child 2, things for child 2, plus all of the things child 2 has grown out of that you can't bear to part with or are saving just incase you have a third. Every spare cupboard or drawer is crammed full with clothing that doesn't currently fit either of your children but cannot possibly be parted with at the moment.
Photos First time around I had photos that probably captured every single day of my baby's first year thanks to the convenience of camera phones. Second baby has significantly less photos. I suppose I can't spend hours snuggling and photographing my little one while they nap so I have a lot less 'sleeping' baby photos but also the speed of daily life means I just don't mange to take nearly as many as I'd like.
Sibling love Sibling love is amazing. I worried they wouldn't bond or that number 1 would feel left out when number 2 arrived. I know every family is different but we've been really lucky, watching their little bond grow each day has been one of my favourite parts of parenting and makes the madness all worth it.
If I could turn back time and talk to my pre-baby self, what would I want to tell her?
I almost obsessed with birth during my first baby. Reading about childbirth, talking about birthplans, practising breathing for labour and worrying if I would cope with the pain. I almost forgot I would actually have a tiny human to raise at the end of it. By the time I was home from the hospital the actual birth seemed a world away. While nothing really prepares you for actually becoming a mother, it was then that I realised how little I knew about looking after a baby. In reality with childbirth you have very limited control over when or how baby will arrive so I wish I had spent just a tad more time thinking about parenting rather than birthing.
You will sleep for more than three consecutive hours again. You will get back to a routine where day and night are different. You will function as a normal adult human again. You will reclaim some much craved adult time. You will feel like you again. You will wear clothes that arnt marked with baby milk/baby poo/your own lunch.
This phase you're in right now is tough, but it will get easier.
For me, the newborn please was really hard, but the bigger they get the more you will get back from them. Don't get me wrong parenting is still the most thankless role you will ever have undertake but when those first few smiles and giggles start to come it really does make it all worthwhile.
Endless googling of 'When do babies sleep through the night' will not make your baby sleep through the night any quicker. In fact, reading stories about babies who slept through the night from 3 weeks/3 months old only serves to make you feel worse when your baby is nowhere near to doing so. Every baby is different but they will eventually start sleeping a little longer between night feeds and even this will make a huge difference and then eventually they will sleep through the night.
For me, from the moment that I became pregnant, part of me was already a parent. I felt my baby move inside me and formed a magical bond that existed between us even before they were born. In contrast my husband said he only became a parent when our first was born and that bond between parent and child can take much longer to develop for them. In the early days I was baby's only source of food and much of their comfort which often made it harder for him to find a way to be useful. Dads are often back to work for long hours and as baby routines can change from one day to the next dads can feel like they're always playing catchup. It doesn't mean that they don't want to be as involved, just that they're finding their feet with their role as parents too and sometimes this can take a little longer.
At times this can be incredibly overwhelming and frustating. Some of it's good, some of it's bad and some if it's downright ridiculous. Everyone seems to have an opinion on how babies should eat/sleep/be held/entertained. If it's not advice that's right for you then you don't have to follow it, but every now and then someone will pass on a golden nugget of information that's totally magic for your child and you would be lost without.
Parenting can be really lonely in the beginning. So get out there to your local baby group and meet some other mums. You might not like the first one you go to but persevere with different ones. You will be opened up to a whole new social circle of other parents going through the exact same things as you and that can be a lifeline for you in this new stage of your life.
...and not one where you're you know what time it is from what daytime TV your watching. Perhaps not everyone needs this but it really helped me. I went straight from work to having a baby with no maternity time wind down. I found it really hard to adjust to the change of pace from the hectic jam packed schedule of a workday to the completely different pace of this 24h job of parenting where at times I felt like I was living some crazy groundhog day. Don't get me wrong I still watched a lot of boxsets in the newborn days but getting my own routine being showered and dresses (even in the early days if I wasn't going to leave the house) helped me start to feel human again.
Easier said than done if you've had a winter baby but a bit of fresh air really does make you feel so much better, and it doesn't have to be for long. Plus a gentle walk is great for healing post birth.