#AaronStartsSolids - The start of our weaning journey with baby #2

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It’s been a hot minute since I last wrote a blog post, but seeing as I am currently on a little holiday at the beach with Granny and have some extra hands, I’ve had a few moments to write this in between the general chaos of life with #twoundertwo.

As I did with Everly, we’ve done & will carry on doing a mixture of puree’s & baby led weaning, but as I really want to make sure that Aaron is getting loads of nutrition, we are doing more puree’s as opposed to him playing around with food. I do love the idea of ‘Food before 1 is just for fun’ but as you’ll read below, we have needed to really get into proper solid meals quite quickly, and mashing up stews and mixing lots of different food is the perfect way to do this.

So, let’s dive straight into sharing how Aaron’s journey to solids has gone so far.

First of all, I must say that looking back, I actually think that Aaron has been ready for real food for quite some time. I delayed it, because I started with Everly a little too soon, and I wish I had waited until she was 6 months old. Because of this, I thought waiting was the best way forward with Aaron. But, as we all know (but us moms don’t aways really internalise) ALL BABIES ARE DIFFERENT, and starting later with him hasn’t been the best thing for him.

For the last couple of months I have been a little concerned with Aaron’s weight gain, and decided to see the Paediatrician for his 6 month vaccinations (I usually just pop into a pharmacy and see the nurse for the routine jabs but this time I thought it might be worth seeing a doctor). While Aaron’s weight hasn’t dropped off, he hasn’t been gaining as much as he should be (according to his other measurements) and it seems something happened around his 3rd month, as that is when he stopped gaining weight well. I think what happened was a combination of the stress of having two little ones, Aaron stopped being a sleepy newborn and really started fighting his day time sleep, and the biggest thing for me, I think his nutritional needs were not being 100% met by my milk. In saying this, I don’t believe there was anything wrong with my actual milk supply or milk quality (something the Paed mentioned to be the issue…but something I don’t really think is an actual issue as I believe your body always makes exactly what your baby needs…but when your body makes breastmilk, it does draw from your own ‘supplies’, and so it’s always moms body which is left depleted as opposed to your milk). Anyway, her advice was to take better care of myself (no skipping meals…something I was doing not because I wanted to, but because I genuinely wasn’t finding the time to make myself food) and to get Aaron on to solids pronto. We had started him on solids a little bit here and there, but now I am fully into the swing of things and will share what, when and how we are going about it this second time…as well as sharing what you need to get started.

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Equipment

Recipe Books & Inspiration

These are my go to books for weaning advice, recipes & inspiration:

  • The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care by Sally Fallon and Thomas S. Cowan (slightly alternative ideas in here but I take what I like out of it and leave the rest)

  • Real Meal Revolution: Raising Superheroes Book by Bridget Surtees, Jonno Proudfoot, and Tim Noakes

  • Weaning Sense by Meg Faure & Kath Megaw

  • Real Food, Healthy, Happy Children by Kath Megaw

I used the first 3 books with Everly (Nourishing Traditions, Raising Superheros & Weaning Sense) and recently bough the Real Food, Healthy, Happy Children and it’s great too! From the titles of these books, you may have seen that we follow a slightly non-traditional approach to starter foods for baby. As with my daughter, we are be introducing Aaron to REAL food from the get go…this means no baby cereals, opting for egg yolk, veggies & iron rich meat. The ‘blandest’ food he gets that is the most like cereal has been oats, but I give this to him with lots of cream, cinnamon & fruit puree.

**NB I am not a Pediatrician, or a dietitian or any other form of the 'tion' family, so please use your mommy guy when it comes to food for your little ones. We also have no family history of allergies, and both Farmboy and I loosely follow a LowCarb/HighFat or Banting lifestyle and so my babies eat accordingly. If you are feeling nervous about giving your little one something I mention in this post, rather chat to your Doctor/Paed. I'm simply sharing what I do and what my little girl has loved eating, and what her brother now loves too. We follow the school of thought that encourages the introduction of ALL food groups before the age of one (this includes all allergenic foods from fish to peanuts to eggs). The only exception to this is raw honey. As for cow’s milk, I give Everly & Aaron full-cream dairy yogurt (preferably homemade), cream cheese, cottage cheese etc. Please listen to your mommy gut, and if your family has a history of allergies speak to your paed about introducing allergens.


Something to prepare food with:

While you can absolutely use a pot to steam food & then a hand masher, I am all about time saving gadgets. We have both the Philips Avent Combined Steamer and Blender and the Tommee Tippee Steamer Blender (this was sent to me to review when I started solids with Everly) and I’ve loved them both. I’ll eventually get around to doing a comparison of the two, but they both have pros and cons and so I use them interchangeably. Both of these awesome gadgets steam & blend food, making preparing your little one’s meals a piece of cake.


Something to store food in:

I use ice trays to freeze pureed food in once it’s been steamed and blended. Then once frozen, I pop out the cubes and put them into little zip lock freezer bags, label them, and then pop them in the freezer. I find ziplock bags take up less space in the freezer, and help keep things nice and organised.

These pastel coloured ice trays are from Plastic Land, and I use the Woolies mini ziplock freezer bags to store the cubes in.


Something to sit in:

We have a few different things that we used with Everly that we are now using with Aaron. You don’t need to have all of these, or even any of them, but this is what we have used and found worked well for different places & traveling:

  • High Chair (the plastic Little One from Game is wonderful! Super easy to clean and it’s neat and tidy)

  • Bumbo (we don’t actually have a Bumbo, but I do have the Baby Throne potty haha which works just like a Bumbo so this gets used often when Everly is using the high chair)

  • ‘Counter/Table’ chair from Safeway - we use this when traveling and it works like a bomb. It’s similar to the ones that restaurants usually have.

  • Bouncy chair - this is what I used when we first started as Aaron spent a lot of time in it anyway.


Something to eat with & eat out of:

  • I’ve used a mixture of Tommee Tippee Essential Food Pots & their Pop Up Freezer Pots that I was sent to try when Everly started solids. These are great for freezing food in, as well as serving out of.

  • Avent breastmilk storage post (these are the BOMB!) I still use these for storing Everly’s food when we are out and about, and they hold a lovely sized portion too. I bought mine at Clicks, but you can buy them at BabyCity and Dischem too. I have the Avent Manuel breastpump, so I use these pots all the time, not just for food.

  • Munchkin White Hot Spoons are the perfect size for little mouths (Everly still uses them) and are soft tipped too. They also change colour to show when food is too hot. We have used these for years and I love them! I bough mine from Mr Price home.

  • Then I also use any and all small glass/ceramic bowls at home to heat the food up in/serve out of…so no need to buy any thing fancy, you can make do with what you already have at home.

  • Tommee Tippee Magic Mat which keeps bowls from being flung off the table with it’s lovely suction base.

  • Once Aaron gets older, we will use the Tommee Tippee Bowls which are also great for putting snacks in and you don’t have to worry about them shattering when they get thrown off the table.


Something to keep baby (relatively) clean:

I LOVE these long sleeve bibs from Trendlings, and used one for Everly (she still uses it even though it’s getting a bit small for her) and now Aaron has one too. They just help moms (if you’re anything like me) with the anxiety that comes with baby led weaning and food going here, there and everywhere. While food still ends up in places you didn’t think possible, these bibs take care of most of the mess.

Trendlings also sell wet bags in matching prints! Wet bags are basically waterproof bags for storing wet things (like cloth nappies when you are out and about, or even swimming cozzies). I’ve got the matching wet bags in the feather print, and the polar bear print.

But, I also have a stack of regular fabric bibs on hand too. These get REALLY dirty and stained, and so I just keep a pile of old ones near the high chair to grab for meal times.


Aaron’s current (rough) milk & food schedule at 6.5 months old:

  • 6-7am wakeup & breastfeed

  • nap

  • +-9:30 am breakfast (oats/egg yolk & veggies/liver & veggies)

  • nap (breastfeed on wakeup)

  • +-1pm lunch (pureed stew/veggies & meat followed by some yoghurt & nut butter/fruit puree)

  • nap (breastfeed on wakeup)

  • +-5pm supper (pureed stew/veggies & meat followed by some yoghurt & nut butter/fruit puree)

  • 6pm bath, breastfeed, bed

  • plus one or two night feeds depending on whether he is super grumpy/teething/grouchy/missing his mommy

So, Aaron has +- 5/6 milk feeds, and then 3 solid meals in 24 hour


Weaning your baby

All of the books I posted above have great guides & ‘meal plans’ for starting solids, and how you go about it is up to you and your baby. Lots of moms like to add in one ‘thing’ at a time for about 3 days to see if baby has any reaction to that food, others go right on with adding mixes of food from the very beginning. A few things to bear in mind when starting solids (and to encourage you that you aren’t doing anything wrong):

  • There WILL be LOADS of waste in the beginning! Think about it, your baby has had nothing but milk/formula for his whole life, and now you’re suddenly giving him something new. Aaron took two weeks of pulling his nose up at everything , and then suddenly it was a light switch went on and he is devouring anything and everything I can throw at him.

  • Some babies need longer than others to get used to solids, and that’s okay. Listen to your baby, and watch for their signs of being full/not being interested.

  • Follow your baby’s readiness. I don’t think Everly was quite ready for solids when I started with her (just over 5 months) but looking back, Aaron has been ready since about 4 months old. Try not to compare (as hard as it is!!!) and remember that your baby has their whole life ahead of them to eat, so don’t rush them if you aren’t showing any interest.

  • Some foods take time to get used to. Keep offering the foods that your little one turns their nose up at, it can take up to 10 introductions of certain foods for baby to get used to it, and to realise they do actually like it.

  • You don’t have to follow any set rules for starting solids. Some moms like the idea of baby led weaning and hate the idea of preparing purees. Other moms are scared of the idea of their baby chocking on food and so like to go the puree’s route. Follow your gut, and do your research. Find other moms who do things the way you would like to do them.

  • Enjoy the journey! It’s a really exciting & new journey for you and your baby (not matter how many times you’ve done it before). Relax and have fun with a whole new world of flavours, textures and smells for your little one.

More posts on Starting Solids

Please feel free to ask any questions you might have on starting solids. I love hearing from you, and always reply to all comments posted.

Happy weaning!

Two Under 2 - A life update 6 months in

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Whew! We’ve made it to 6 months as a family of four, and I think we all deserve a high five (or rather, Mommy & Daddy deserve a night of uninterrupted sleep, or maybe just a 10 minute lie-in, or wait, maybe just a hot cup of tea, I’d settle for that!). The past 6 months have been crazy, filled with nappies…and more nappies and then a few more nappies on top of that. And even though it feels like the days dragged ooooonnnnn and ooooonnnn this time has really flown past. Everyone said that it would be hard, and to be honest, I didn’t really believe them

Or rather, I didn’t really understand what hard would look like.

My first born, Everly, was (and still is) a unicorn baby…you know the ones that sleep like the book says they should (and then some!) who eat anything and everything, who play independently for hours at a time…the ones you don’t believe really exist. And so I really thought I had it all down pat when it came to having another baby. I just assumed that Everly turned out the was she did because of how we had parented. And while I think part of this is true, a whole lot of it has to do with her being a girl, being our first baby, and of course the things we have no control over, her nature and personality.

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Life since Aaron has been hard. It’s been hard for lots of reasons, not just because he has been a colicky baby, but also because of things like the small age gap between him and his sister (17 months) which means effectively I have two babies to care for. Also, with your second baby, you have far less time to sit and coo over them, and I was able to rest more when I had Everly (I spent the first 6 weeks REALLY taking it easy after her birth) and with Aaron, I was basically up and about and picking up a busy toddler after barely a week. It’s also been REALLY hard trying to co-ordinate two little schedules. I am very routine orientated, and somewhere over the past couple of months, Everly has needed to drop from two to one naps (I know, I should be thanking my lucky stars that she has made it this long on two naps) but that transition was quite tricky. Anyway, we made it and she has now settled nicely into her new one nap a day schedule, and thankfully still sleeps through the night (even through Aaron’s bad nights…long may that last!).

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I really don’t believe that my little boy is a very difficult baby, he has just been really different to Everly. A big component has been that I actually have forgotten what Everly was like in the early months. But, in saying this, Aaron is a whole lot busier than Everly was, he has already got 2 teeth (and two more are breaking through and he HAS not been a happy chappy for days on end before and after those pearly whites broke through…unlike Evs who only got her first tooth at nearly 8 months and ever since then barely makes a peep when they do) and from what I can tell from my friend’s with boy babies, he is a typical boy. He just wants to be close to his mommy, and he likes intense one on one interaction about 90% of the time. It’s not always easy for me to mentally sit down on the floor and play with him, when I feel torn between work on my computer and then the things that I love doing (photography, blogging and sharing our behind the scenes farm life on Instagram…but gosh writing that out here really does sound terrible…I’m basically saying playing with and talking to my baby is taking me away from doing the things I love doing…and that pretty much sums up parenthood haha). But I do think all of these thoughts are normal (please tell me I’m not alone!) and while the first 4 months for us were the hardest, the last 6 weeks have had way more happy & sunnier days.

Aaron is giggling and laughing, and developing his own sense of humor (typical boy style, the fist full on laugh was over ‘fart’ noises) and he LOVES being thrown up into the air. He is getting really good at sitting, and his slow-to-smile nature means that every smile you do get hits you with ALL THE FEELS.

Here is our new #TwoUnderTwo schedule, for anyone who might like to know how we (try!) to do things most days:

  • 06:30 - 7am both kiddos wake up (generally at the same time, which is chaos, but some days Evs wakes up before Aaron and then I get to spend a bit of quality time with just her while I get her changed for the day). I feed Aaron & change his nappy, and then pop some music on for him while I change Evs nappy and get her dressed.

  • 8am Everly has breakfast while Aaron sits in his bouncy chair (he gives me about 10 - 15 mins before he starts getting bored).

  • 08:30 - 10am Aaron has his nap. Everly and I go an play in the garden, read books, potter around the house.

  • 10:00 Aaron wakes up, I feed him, change his nappy and then geenrally pop him in the pram and take him and Everly for a walk.

  • 10:45 Everly has a filling snack (usually homemade yoghurt with nut butter/blueberries)

  • 11:00 - 13:00/14:00 Everly has her nap (which can be anywhere from 2 - 3 hours long).

  • 11:00 Aaron has his solids (we just started about a week ago)

  • 11:30 Aaron goes down for his nap, which can be anywhere from 1 - 2 hours long.

    From 11:30 - 13:00 is generally when I get to have my only break from both kiddos. I don’t usually get longer than 45 mins, but there have been a few days when I’ve had 2 hours to myself. It’s wonderful! But it did take 6 months to get here, as usually Aaron would wake up as I was putting Everly down, or vice versa.

  • 13:00/14:00 Everly has lunch when she wakes up from her nap, and then the three of us play together until Aaron’s next nap.

  • 15:00/16:00 Aaron will have some sort of nap at this time, some days he has a short 30 minute nap, other day an hour. Other days, my wonderful Nanny will put him on her back while she does the ironing and I’ll take Everly out into the garden to play.

  • 17:00 Everly has supper

  • 17:30 I start running the bath, getting the kids pj’s and nappies laid out (this may sound strange, but as we use cloth nappies, the night time nappy is always a bigger one that has lots of layers, and so I go and fold them/get them ready.

  • 18:00 Bath time. I bath Everly while hubby get’s Aaron undressed and baths him. Then I take Aaron to his room to change and feed him, and then pop him down for the night. Everly gets changed and has story time and what she calls ‘talk time….soooo cute’ with Daddy, and I usually get to pop my head in to say goodnight.

  • 3:00-4:00am Aaron wakes up for a feed, and then goes right back to sleep till the morning.

It’s taken us a while to get to this point, and I’m so proud of my family! We had about a month recently of Aaron waking up multiple times a night, me feeding him often, us leaving him to cry and eventually settle himself to sleep (again, this has only been doable because Everly sleeps through the noise) and just general rough nights, but with lots of perseverance and consistency, we are back to a good nighttime routine again. I have no doubt this is going to change again, and I’m okay with that, because I know we will get back to our ‘normal’ again.

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In other news, I’ve been quite busy again lately with branding shoots & website design, which always pulls me in two directions. I also am in charge of our farm’s BEE certification, and we have our audit coming up in the next 2 weeks which has been crazy stressful, and really, really, really hard to juggle with two little ones. It’s the kind of work that needs uninterrupted focus time (haha yes I hear the moms in the back laughing along with me at the though of uninterrupted focus time when you have kids) but I’m getting there, and once this audit is done, hopefully it will be a while until I need to work on it again.

So all in all, we are getting into our groove and the latest fun milestone has been giving Aaron solids and starting his weaning journey. I’ll be doing more blog posts on that soon, but if you’ve got a little one and will be starting solids with them soon, here are all my blog posts on what we did with Everly:

Some goals we have now for our little family are to go on a hike, and when the weather warms up, to go camping. Are we crazy or is it doable? Do you have any tips for doing any of the above with two little ones? I’d love to hear from you!

Biddykins All-In-One Cloth Nappies - A review of these Easy on & Easy Off cloth nappies

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We are on to our second baby in cloth, and have been using cloth nappies for nearly 2 years now. I started with newborn cloth for Everly (she will be 2 in September) and went straight onto newborn cloth with Aaron (who is 5 months old now) and I’ve loved every single moment! We have used more disposables on Aaron than we did on Everly (mostly because #2under2 is no joke and traveling with two babies in nappies is just crazy), but Aaron is in cloth about 85% of the time, and Everly is in cloth 99% of the time when we are at home.

Here are my other posts on cloth nappies that you might enjoy reading, with a post on newborn cloth, how to wash cloth nappies, how I store dirty nappies and a detailed post on the nappies we used and loved for Everly over her nearly 2 years of being a cloth bum:


While I was sent some of the AIO’s pictured here in this post, all thoughts and views on them are my own. I have spent thousands of rands of my own money on Biddykins throughout the past 2 year s(I also LOVE their pail liners to store dirty nappies in, and am a firm lover of their breast pads!) and so you can rest assured that although I was given the pretty nappies in this post, my review is 100% honest.


I mainly used flats, pre-folds, fitteds and covers for both my babies until they fitted into their OSFM nappies (this was at about the 5 month mark with Everly and when we get back home next week I will start Aaron with them), and then I moved onto pockets, snap in ones (SIO) and my all time favourite nappies, all-in-ones (AIO’s).

While it’s really hard to recommend one type of nappy to anyone (this is mostly because each baby’s shape is different, their output is different and changes as they get older, if they are tummy sleepers, how sensitive their skin is, what climate you live in also affects how often you wash & dry nappies…the list goes on!) all in one nappies are a firm favourite for lots of moms because of how easy they are to use. While they don’t offer the most absorption (newborns wee A LOT and need to be changed more often than say a 5 month old because of how much and how often they wee) I loved using them on Everly from about month 6 - 9, and then again from about a year to now. All-in-one nappies are just what their name suggests, they have all their parts built into the nappy so there is no stuffing inserts like you do with pockets, no folding like flats, no added covers to put on…you literally just snap them on. They are the closest to disposable nappies and so Dad’s & Granny’s love them.

If all-in-ones are so amazing, why doesn’t everyone use them?

There are only really two downsides to AIO’s…they are the most expensive of cloth nappies, and they take a long time to dry.

You can’t stick them in the tumble dryer (although you can do this with some brands, always read the label!) but I often stick them in for about 20 minutes if I’m running out of nappies.

If you don’t have a budget, then drying time won’t be an issue for you as you can buy have enough to cover 2 - 3 days of wear and over wash day. I always recommend that people buy a variety of nappies when they get started, and to always have a few (3 - 5 is a nice amount) of AIO’s in your stash so you can get a feel for them. Also, as your baby becomes a toddler, they tend to use less and less nappies in they day, and then AIO’s are wonderful! They are also great for traveling and being out and about because they are so quick and easy to put on. Once you’ve given them a good try, then you can add more to your stash.

I wouldn’t personally recommend AIO’s for the newborn stage, simply because you go through nappies at such a rate, and getting a good fit around those skinny legs to prevent leaks is much easier to do with flat and covers. Also, as you can end up going through 10 - 15 nappies a day, it would cost you a small fortune to buy AIO’s that really would only last you a few months at most. That’s why I recommend buying OSFM (one-size-fits-most) all-in-one’s to use once your baby is about 5ish months old.

In terms of worrying about leaks…you can also add more inserts/flats to an all-in-one nappy to increase the absorption. Everly is now 22 months old and I mainly use AIO’s. I just pad fold a newborn sized hemp flat underneath the inserts for her nap time, as that’s when she really needs more of a boost to prevent leaks.

We have gone through our fair share of leaks with AIO’s, but this has mainly been due to not fitting the nappy properly, and then troubleshooting when she has increased her output during the day and over nap time. Both my babies have been medium to heavy wetters, and so we have definitely not been able to use AIO’s for nighttime. Everly is in all-in-ones 70-80% of the time during they day, with the other 20-30% of the time being in pockets as the covers dry super fast and I can tumble dry the inserts.

My favourite brand of All-in-one Nappies

My favourite brand of All-in-Ones are local South African label, Biddykins. I always rave about Biddykins to my friends because they are well priced, great quality, and the prints are AMAZING! I own about 10 girlie print pockets, and then about 10 girlie print AIO’s, and that’s not even counting Aaron’s collection!

Here are a few photos of Everly rocking her pretty Biddykins AIO nappies:

The Biddykins AIO’s have the following features:

  • a tummy strip that help prevent moisture creep along the tummy.

  • various insert layers, size and positioning are carefully researched to offer the best possible blend of absorbency AND trimness, ensuring that the inserts fit INSIDE the nappy, regardless of the size adjusted setting! Being custom designed, they are able to periodically tweak the size of the inserts slightly as they continue to work towards achieving the optimum combination of trimness & absorbency.

  • a 5-layer bamboo blend top insert, which includes a suede-cloth "StayDry" layer, ensures baby feels dry and comfortable.

  • a 4-layer bamboo pure lower insert ensures maximum absorption whilst remaining as trim as possible.

  • the suede-cloth "StayDry" lining that continues right up to the back elastic not only keeps baby feeling dry, but also ensures that 'everything' is contained within the nappy.

Price wise, the plain one-coloured nappies are R130, standard prints are R140 and then there are a few special print nappies that are R150 each.

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We love our all-in-one nappies, and I can’t wait to get out my boy stash for Aaron when we get back home to the farm next week. We’ve been using disposable nappies while traveling (one has to be practical sometimes), and I’ve missed my cloth SO much! If this sounds like a strange concept, I urge you to give cloth nappies a try. I am 100% sure you will become a #clothconvert in no time at all!

Life with a Baby - Week 15 of Baby #2

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While scrolling through the hashtag I made for my little girl (please tell me I’m not the only one who scrolls through their own hashtags!), I came across the photo I shared of Everly at 3 months, and the corresponding blogpost I wrote on her at 15 weeks. As Aaron is 15 weeks old now, I thoroughly enjoyed reading through it and comparing my two babies. I’m so glad I have kept up with blogging, as it has become a wonderful walk down memory lane on so many occasions.

Here’s a comparison of Everly & Aaron at 3 months old:

My pregnancy with Aaron was a very happy and relatively easy one. I stayed as active as I could (going to Pilates for as long as I was able to) and Everly pretty much kept me active all day every day. We also moved house when I was 7 months pregnant (fun & games that was!) and Everly only officially started walking the day I gave birth to Aaron…so having to carry her around all day also helped keep me fit and strong. Although my birth didn’t go according to plan, again (I was hoping for a VBAC but my cervix just wouldn’t play ball…again) this time around the whole experience was a lot more peaceful because I had been through it all before. I was very grateful to go into labor naturally, at 38 weeks on the dot (just like when I had Everly) and I was up and about in the hospital the very next day, which really helped with my recovery time.

Here are all the posts I wrote on my second pregnancy, including a post on what to pack for hospital for both mommy & baby:

Not that I can really remember, but from what I wrote in my post on Everly at 15 weeks, she started really resisting her day time naps at this stage. This is nothing new for Aaron, as he has been cat napping like a champ for a good 2 months now, and surprisingly is actually now starting to settle into more of a predictable routine.

So…the total opposite of Everly.

I also thought Everly was an amazing sleeper at night, but it seems that Aaron is even better than her, and has been sleeping 11 - 13 hours a night since about 7 weeks old (I’m going to say that he is making up for his lack of daytime sleep…or perhaps he gets more than his fair share at night and needs less during the day?? Who ever really knows!).

While I haven’t read/re-read any baby books this time around, here is what I shared in Everly’s post that could give some reason for the unsettledness that happens at about this time:

  • The dreaded 4 Month sleep regression (in reality I feel like babies make up their own timelines when it comes to sleep regressions/growth spurts)

  • A growth spurt

  • Teething (I laugh looking back at this as Everly only got her first tooth at 7 months…so the fact that thought she was teething at this age really gives me a good giggle)

  • A Wonder Weeks developmental leap

  • Travel or disturbance of environment/routine

  • Transitioning out of a bassinet and into a cot (we made the move with Aaron today!)

  • Vaccinations (here in South Africa there are shots at 14 weeks)

  • And the most probable one...babies just being babies, growing and changing with no real explanation as to why they do what they do!

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Up Until Now

Aaron’s first few weeks were relatively smooth sailing, and he pretty much ate and slept all night. He slept about 2 -3 hours during the day, and stretched to about 5 hours at night. From about week 5 - 9, he had terrible gas & tummy trouble (I want to say he was colicky…but I now know that Colic is the word used to describe unsettled babies who generally are just not very happy/have sore tummies/are more on the niggly side of things). I tried every drop/liquid under the sun, but didn’t really notice much of a difference, and he eventually grew out of that at about 10 weeks.

We have also gone through a very hazy 6 weeks or so of crazy cat naps during the day, ranging anywhere from 20 - 50 minutes in length. I tried 3 days of intense sleep training, which I didn’t find to work very well, and then both kids got colds and I put all that on hold. Throughout all of this, Aaron continued to sleep REALLY well at night…sleeping from 6/6:30 - 7/8am with one feed at about 5am. But the days were shocking, and I rememeber pretty much crying at some point every day. I feel like things escalate from 0 - 1000 in a split second, and hubby would leave the room and I would be all cheerful and smiley, and come home 10 minutes later to find me in a complete heap, two screaming babies and lots of tears all around. But thankfully, each day seems to be getting easier, and I hope this continues.

In terms of routine & schedule, we follow the same bed time routine that we started (and still do) with Everly:

  • 6pm bath time (depending on the afternoon nap I’ll either feed him one side right before bath time or when he wakes up from his last nap which can be anywhere between 4 & 6pm). Then once out the bath it’s a quick massage, a nice big clean nappy (we use cloth nappies on both kiddos...click here to read more about our cloth nappy journey so far) and pyjamas.

  • +- 6:15pm feed the other side, burp & then straight into the cot by 6:30pm

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Here's how I put Aaron to sleep at night:

After his bath & last feed & burp, I pop him straight down in his cot while he is awake but drowsy, put his dummy in and walk out the room. Aaron sleeps on his tummy (unlike his sister who HATES being on her tummy…not matter how much I tried). If he’s fussing a bit, I may go in a few times to pop the dummy back in and give a few reassuring pats on the bum. This is the only time of the day that I feed before sleep.

And during the day:

I try to follow a 'wake-eat-change-play-sleep' routine during the day so that he doesn't associate sleeping with feeding, as feeding before sleeping makes life really hard as baby ends up refusing to go to sleep without a feed. This has become much more of a challenge with short naps. For the first few weeks of his sleepy newborn state, he would sleep about 3 hours at a time during the day, which meant every time he woke up it would be time for a feed. I roughly follow a 3 hourly breastfeeding schedule. I do the same sleep routine during the day as at night, Except this time he gets put down after play time. I generally try to follow the following wake time schedule, which is based on age appropriate periods of awake time:

  • morning wakeup

  • 1 hour of awake time

  • nap

  • 1hr 15mins of awake time

  • nap

  • 1.5 hrs of awake time

  • nap

  • 1.5hrs of awake time

  • bedtime

Up until now, it’s been really hard to follow a ‘eat, play, sleep’ routine, as the short day time naps inevitably mean I’m feeding him just before his next nap, otherwise I would be feeding him every hour. I am not against demand feeding, but I find we are all happier when we are following more of a set routine, and 3 hourly feeds works well for this. When (or IF) Aaron’s naps consolidate (apparently this generally happens naturally around month 5) then this will be much easier to follow. So in the meantime, I pop him in the carrier is he wakes up early and it isn’t time for a feed, this way he is happy to either be close to me, or nods off for a bit more.

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And Now

Sometimes it still feels like all Aaron does during the day is cry…I know this isn’t the case, but gosh it sure does feel like it some times. He is a typical boy (at least, from what I have been told and seen with my friends boy’s) he just wants to be held and is happiest when being worn in the carrier. This is completely the opposite to Everly, who could lie on her play mat for ages and ages, and was very content to just be. She also woke up happy after every nap, whereas Aaron wakes up rather grouchy and is happiest only once he has been fed.

Even though I feel frazzled most of the day (I’m sure this has less to do with Aaron and more to do with the fact that I have two kids to take care of and I work from home) each and every smile from him warms my heart and makes it all worthwhile.

I’m also SO thankful his nights are so good #longmayitlast.

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NOW FOR THE FUN STUFF...

Current favourite nickname: Arrow

Loves: being in the carrier & watching his big sister

Hates: day time sleep (haha) being taken out the carrier

Teething: Not crazy amounts of drool, and not too much sucking on his hands yet

Eye Colour: Grey? Dark Blue? Hazel?

Hair Color: Dark Brown 

Weight: Weighing in at 6.2 kg's, the same weight as his sister at this age. I have gone through a week or so of worrying that I am no feeding him enough as I only feed him on one side per feed. He was 3.6kgs at birth, and Everly had doubled her weight by this time, so I’ll keep an eye on this. I’m trying to drink more water and make sure I eat a lot more oats (any other suggestions to increase your milk supply?)

Feeding: Breastfed

Sleeping Aids: His hands & a dummy

Current clothing size: 3-6 months

Currently eating/not eating: I’m eating & drinking everything I did before being pregnant, as well as when I was pregnant. I’m drinking regular coffee (although I try not to drink caffeine after 3pm) and I’m also still drinking my homemade kombucha. Although a lot of people talk about diet affecting their breastmilk, I really don’t believe it makes too much difference, and find I am a happier mom when I eat what I like.

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And that’s where we are now friends. Here’s hoping Aaron continues to settle more during the day, and that he keeps up the wonderful nights (I’m hoping he sails through the 4 month sleep regression!) but if not, I’m going to just try to remember that these are all such short seasons, and before we know it, he will be up and running after his big sister in the blink of an eye.

Chat soon!

x

Transitioning from a Cot to a Toddler Bed

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Everly is now 20 months old, and has been sleeping in a ‘bed’ for the last 3 months. She has surprised us all with how well she has transitioned (although this is something I kept reading would happen…that our kids are capable of far more change/independence than we expect) and so I’d like to share how we went about making the change.

Although some people told me Evs was too young to be in a bed, in reality, we didn’t have much choice. Aaron was on the way, and I wanted Everly to have some time to adjust to her new bed (and the freedom that came along with it!) before a new baby entered the house and life as we knew it would change. We also didn’t want to have to buy another cot, preferring to rather put Aaron in the cot and Evs in a bed. While I had planned to put her straight into a regular single sized bed (she has one in her room that was left over from when our new home was a guesthouse…click here to see photos of our home as it barely 6 months ago!) but the bed is an extra high one, and she is still rather little. I wasn’t worried so much about her falling off the bed (in my mind this could be solved with pillows on the floor/a pool noodle put under her sheet etc) it was more the getting back up on the bed that I knew she wouldn’t be able to do unless we had a ladder/box for her to climb on. And seeing as her cot converted into a toddler bed, this seemed like the perfect first step for her. Now that Aaron is getting too big for his bassinet, we will move Evs into the regular bed in her room (maybe by taking the legs off the base/removing the base altogether and just putting the matress on the floor) in the next few weeks and he will go straight into the cot. I’ll also be sharing photos of what her room looked like when she was in her toddler bed soon, and I’ll also share a post of what Aaron’s room looks like while he is in his bassinet. Once Everly is in her new bed, Aaron will then go into the cot and I can finally share photos of the gorgeous custom bedding I had made for his room. Look out for those blog posts coming soon.

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The cot we have is the Stihl from CoziCot (which retails for R4708) but I bought it on special in 2016 for about R3500. The cot comes with toddler panels, and these were pretty easy to put on once the rails were taken down.

I love the simplicity of the cot, and the fact that it has two levels, meaning no more sore backs from lifting baby in and out. The only concern I have had since having it, is once you’ve lowered the cot so the mattress is on the lowest level, the sides have grooves where the cot base fits to raise it to the higher level, and for the more adventurous baby/toddler, these would provide the perfect ‘step’ to break free from their cot. Everly didn’t ever attempt this, which is why I only recently thought about it. We did put cot bumpers on the cot from about 7 months which hides the ‘steps’, but also to bear in mind, Everly was rather slow to reach her physical milestones. She only started crawling at 13 months, and only walked at 17 months. So she wouldn’t have really been able to break out even if she had wanted to. Just something to keep in mind if you’re looking at this cot.

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So, how did we go about actually transitioning Everly?

We didn’t mess around, and basically took down the panels, and she had her first morning nap in it right away. Her first nap she barely moved in her bed, the second nap (she still naps twice a day) was shocking as she got off the bed and straight away bee-lined for the door and opened it. Our house is an old farmhouse, and the door handles are really low, and the latch on the door is very precarious, you can just about blow on it and it will open. And so, once she realised she could open then door, it was all bets off and so, after using all sorts of contraptions to keep the door closed (mainly ties tied around the door handle and a chair) we went out and bought a small hinge lock that secures her door shut. Her first night sleep wasn’t too bad, she got off her bed a couple of times and came to the door winging a bit, but I was most surprised that after 10 minutes she put herself back to bed. We had about 2 days of really horrible day naps, where she cried and cried outside her door, but I would go back in after about 10 - 15 mins and put her back on her bed. Often she would actually put herself back on her bed and cry for a bit longer before passing out. Her night time sleep was not affected at all, and it only took a few days for her day naps to go back to usual, especially once she realised she couldn’t open the door any more.

She did fall off the bed a couple of times in the following weeks, but after a few tears, she always got up again and put herself straight back to bed (I watched her on our video monitor…something I HIGHLY recommend to parents once your little ones are older so you can keep an eye on what they actually get up to when it’s nap/bed time). I think it really helped develop her own confidence to let her sort herself out when she fell off the bed, as I think us going in there every time would have disrupted her sleep. Toddlers are really incredible, and will continue to surprise you all the time at just how much independence they can actually handle (and how much they actually love being able to problem solve!) when given the chance.

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All in all it was a rather quick and easy transition. Something that I do think helped a lot, was to make a big fuss of the fact that she was now going to be in a big girl bed. We also included her in the actual dismantling of the cot (look at her cute cross face when we had to take away the sharp screwdriver so she didn’t stab herself in the eye!).

Making her a part of the physical side of her new bed, and then being firm with her when she got out of bed in the beginning helped too. Giving your little one freedom in their room is a huge step not just for them, but for us as parents too. It’s not for everyone, but I really love the Montessori approach of giving your child the freedom to be independent.

We did go through a few patches of Everly waking up much earlier than usual from her night sleep, but as she could now get off her bed, instead of crying for me to pick her up, she simply got off her bed and would go get books to read on her bed. Although I’m not sure what on earth she was actually looking at as we keep her room pretty dark with block out curtains. We have also gone through a few patches of her resisting her afternoon naps lately. I have spent a few afternoons listening to her play the xylophone for over an hour, but it’s my thinking that as long as she’s quiet and not crying, she can do what she likes in her room during nap time.

Sometimes I do still go in and firmly put her back lying on her bed with her blanket and dummy, and often she does then go back to sleep (we got a video monitor from the time we transitioned her into a bed so we could see what she was getting up to), but sometimes she just lies there quietly singing to her toys/reading her books. I know this might mean she is ready to drop that second nap, but rather than drop the nap time, I am moving towards a ‘rest time’ where she has to be in her room, with the curtains drawn, and I don’t mind if she isn’t actually sleeping at this time. This allows me a bit of breathing room during the day, especially as I have another little one to care for.

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Some things to keep in mind if you are going to allow your little one freedom in their room:

  • Safety wise, you need to make sure the room is completely childproof. We do have a few electronics around her room, but I have moved the plugs and hidden them from view. She has never shown any interest in those plugs, and when she has gone close to them we have been sure to firmly explain that they aren’t for touching.

  • You also need to keen in mind the heights of furniture, and make sure any furniture you have in their room is sturdy and won’t fall over if they climb up onto it.

  • I was also quite ruthless with her toys, as she now has access to all of them. Her chest of drawers is very solid and the drawers are very sticky so she can’t actually open them herself, and then all the other toiletries (wipes, creams, medicines) are put up high out of her reach.

  • Think about what you want to do with the bedroom door. Our old farmhouse is a little trickier with fitting a baby gate onto door frames, and this is why we decided to put a lock on her door from the outside. Everly no longer tries to open the door, so we don’t actually need to use it anymore during the day, but at night we definitely lock her door because I don’t want her roaming around the house while we aren’t there to make sure she’s safe. What friends have done is to put a baby gate on the door frame, meaning you can actually keep their bedroom door open if you want to. What you do to keep your little one ‘contained’ is up to you. Let me know in the comments below if you have any other creative suggestions.

How old was/is your little one when you moved them into a regular bed/plan to move them into a bed? How did the transition go? Let me know if you have any questions about the whole process, and I’d also love to hear how it goes for your toddler makes the big move.

Two Under 2 - an update on life 10 weeks in

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Goodness me the past 10 weeks (technically 12 weeks by the time I have been able to publish this blogpost) have flown by in a hazzy blur. I’m writing this post so I can (hopefully) look back on these days and remember them if there is a third little one in the future. I”m also hoping this post enourages/inspires other moms and dads out there, and helps them in their own parenting journey.

I’m not really sure where to start, or whether what I’m going to share is even going to make sense and not seem like the jumbled thoughts of a half crazed person, but life with two under two is no joke. I don’t think anything can quite prepare you for a second child, just the same as nothing can really prepare you for having your first baby (although friends with 3 kids have said the jump from 2 to 3 is nowhere near as hectic as the jump from 1 2 kids).

As this is a rather long post, I say grab yourself a hot cup of tea or coffee (something I haven’t had in 12 weeks!) and get comfy…

The hardest part of it all so far for me? My expectations of just about everything, from how much I expect Aaron to sleep, to how much I expect to be able to get done in the day.

Everly was a very easy and content little baba. She has always been a really great sleeper, and everyone told me that I just got lucky with her and that I wouldn’t be so lucky the second time around. Because of this (and my rather defiant nature!) I have been determined to prove them wrong…enter my unfair expectations and hence the frustration I have felt towards my little boy more often than I would like to admit. While he is definitely very different to Everly, I think rather than say he isn’t as good a sleeper as she was, I think the actual difference is that I am forgetting all the hard moments with Evs, and comparing Aaron to a very chilled 20 month old toddler who is firmly in her routine when it comes to naps. Also, when you have your first baby, you are able to give them 100% of your time and attention, especially if you are a stay at home mom, or if you work from home (although the fact that I work from home puts another spanner in the works as it’s one more thing to add to the expectation list). I wish I had been more thorough with Everly’s baby book and documented more than I did (although I’m so glad I did actually have a book and that I wrote the few things/memories down that I did…I wish I had noted more often what her routine was like, how much she slept and how often she fed etc) so that I have something to work from when going through the weeks & months with the next baby.

I’m pretty sure that Everly was napping (or rather NOT napping) for that long during the day at this age. I know she went through a patch of cat napping at around the 3/4month mark, but she did settle back into 2 long sleeps if 2-3 hours and one shorter one in the afternoon by the end of 4 months (I think!). I’m hoping I can get Aaron to link his day time naps soon, because those 45minutes that he does sleep fly by in the blink of an eye when you’ve got another one to look after.

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And the next hardest part, trying to figure out a routine for two babies.

I still see Everly as a baby, even though she is technically a toddler. She’s still in nappies (although I’m pretty sure she will be out of them soon as she’s super aware and let’s me know whenever she is making a poo) but she also isn’t that confident of a walker yet (considering she has only actually been walking for 3 months). Thank goodness she is a very independent little thing and has always been very happy to read her books, toddle around and amuse herself. She has taken to the new addition very well, and has not been extra clingy or demanding of my attention. I was worried she would act up when she saw me feeding Aaron, and I had prepared for this with whole basket of new toys for her…but she surprised us all and has just gone about her life as though nothing has changed. I’ve been able to bring out these new toys for her and I to play with when we get a few moments alone together. And while she happily coos over him and talks about her ‘Arrow’, she has handled the disruption to her life (and most importantly) his, what seems like pretty much constant crying, far better than both Farmboy and myself.

Aaron had a very sore tummy from about weeks 5 - 8, and was very unsettled. He just wanted to be held, and he would scrunch up his legs, farting like a trooper, and just generally be very niggly most of the day. I tried just about every colic mixture or tonic I could find, and even though I found Bonnisan to help the most, I genuinely think the only think that cures that unsettledness is time. You WILL eventually get there, and their little tummies will eventually adjust to life outside the womb, but gosh when you’re in the trenches it really feels like it’s never going to end. My best advice is to find another mommy with a little one a similar age to yours so you can vent & encourage one another when the going gets tough.

Cures for colic newborn

What is hard when you are at home all day with your little ones, you really only have 2 hands, both of which are generally needed to take care of one baby. This means you often have to make a choice as to who should be left to cry/winge…and in our house it’s mostly been Aaron who is left to fend for himself as his needs are more simpler to meet. I know that if he has been fed, burped and changed, there really isn’t much more I can do for him if he is crying and I need to feed/help Everly with something. We have left him to cry for longer, and more often than I care to admit, especially over the last couple of weeks as he has really been fighting me at nap time, and I’m lucky if he stretches more than 30 minutes at a time. This really throws me as I am a BIG lover of routine, and right now he has little to no routine. He is also at that awkward stage where he isn’t strong enough to sit or hold his head up, but doesn’t want to just lie in my arms and snuggle. I remember Everly being at the same stage, where she wasn’t really old enough to engage much, but also wasn’t young enough to just be left to stare at a mirror for 15 minutes. We do have a full time nanny who is wonderful, and while her responsibilities mostly revolve around housework, she is amazing with Everly, and Aaron has spent many a happy hour on her back (this is where he sleeps the longest…much to my dismay…I do so vividly remember saying I would never have him carried around by someone and that he would just have to adjust to sleeping properly in his cot…how I have now changed my tune). BUT, even though we are having to work SO hard on his day time naps, he sleeps so well at night that I don’t know if I am allowed to complain about the day. He has been feeding once at night for the past 2 weeks or so, and this feed is usually between 3 & 4am. He then goes right back to sleep till the morning. We generally have to go in once or twice to give him his dummy, but I’ve found if I leave him for 5 minutes, he generally puts himself right back to sleep. So all in all, a baby that sleeps 6 - 3/4am and then until around 6 am must be a happy one? So then what’s up with the day time my boy?!

While I love and use my Ubuntu Baba carrier pretty much every day, what I can’t really do with it is sit down, and I don’t really like standing at a table when I am working on my computer. This is why I am so determined to get Aaron into a good routine for his naps, and have him nap as much as possible in his cot, rather than on me/in a carrier. It’s far less a case of not wanting to create bad sleeping habits, and more a case of me wanting to be able to actually have a bit of time without a baby strapped to me so I can sit down to my computer work (haha perhaps this is more of a dream right now than a reality) or be able to pick Everly up/play with her/wash my cloth nappies etc. But, for those times when he is just SO unhappy and refuses to nap in his bed, my Ubuntu Baba carrier is an absolute life saver, and has enabled me to multi task like nobody’s business…I have successfully breastfeed Aaron, made supper and been able to feed Everly her dinner, all at the same time. I may have collapsed in a head shortly afterwards, but we all survived and I only have the Ubuntu Baba to thank. On that note, make sure you’re following me on Instagram as I will be running an awesome giveaway in collaboration with Ubuntu Babe next month.

This is our routine at the moment…it’s mostly Everly’s routine as Aaron is pretty much unpredictable right now. I also haven’t figured out whether I want to have them both awake/sleeping at the same time so I get a proper break, or whether I actually enjoy being able to spend one-on-one time with each of them while the other one is napping. I also know first hand that just as soon as you think you’ve got things figured out, they go and change things up by learning a new skill, cutting teeth, reacting to vaccinations etc but it makes me feel better to have some sort of loose plan that I’d like them to be on.

Right now, this is what our routine looks like:

  • 6-7am Wake up (They have both been waking up closer to 7am the past week but it can be anytime from 6 on the dot to 7…I leave Everly in her room to chat/read her books till as close to 7 as possible, but Aaron I go in right away as his cry has a way of eating into your very soul). Generally I’ve been able to feed and change Aaron by the time Evs is awake, so then I will go into her room, give her her milk while I change her nappy, and then she comes with me to Aaron’s room where they both have some play time.

  • 8am Aaron’s nap time & Everly has breakfast. Aaron seems to only be able to be awake for about 45mins at this time, and it works well because I can pop him down and then make Everly’s breakfast. He then sleeps anywhere from 45 mins - 2 hours. Although it’s been far more often the 45 minute sort of nap, unless he is tied to Amahle’s back. I give Everly her breakfast and then we go outside for a walk to see the cows, go and feed the chickens or do some gardening together.

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  • 9am/9:30 Everly’s Nap time. Aaron is generally awake around this time and so I then feed and change him, and then we play together until he starts yawning (ideally around 10ish) and then I pop him down for a nap.

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  • 11h30ish Everly wakes up from her nap. I change her nappy and then she potters around the house until lunch time.

  • 12 o’clock lunch time for Everly. Aaron may or may not be napping at this time, but if he is awake I’ll either put him in his baby chair and he watches us have lunch, or I’ll have him in the carrier so I can sort Everly out. Once she’s had her lunch she then has play time.

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  • 2pm - 3pm Everly has another nap/rest time. She isn’t quite ready to drop this nap yet, but doesn’t always actually sleep. I don’t actually mind what she does during this time, but it’s a quiet rime in the house as this seems to be pretty much the only time of the day when their sleeping has coincided. I change her nappy and pop her down on her bed with the curtains drawn, and she either has a small nap, or quietly reads her books/plays with her toys. She still does the odd 2 - 3:30/4pm nap, it all depends on how long her morning nap has been. She has also been generally quite cheerful on the days when she’s missed the nap/quiet time altogether, so perhaps it’s actually me who isn’t ready for her to drop that nap haha. Either way, when she does drop this nap I still plan on making this quiet time where she will be closed in her room to rest. She seems to enjoy this time, and very rarely fights me on it these days. She has gone through patches of being in there for up to two hours, in the dark, singing and playing her xylophone…funny thing. But like I said, as long as she isn’t crying and actually upset, I don’t mind what she does in there during that time.

  • 3-5pm is general chaos. Usually Aaron is having a nap at some point, and Everly is happy to entertain herself to a point. But usually by 4pm I’ve got both kids outside for a walk/play in the garden, with Aaron in the carrier, and I’m silently counting down the minutes until bed time.

  • 5pm supper time for Everly. Aaron is either being held by Dad if Dad is home at this time, or he is still in the carrier, having a little snooze while I buzz about the kitchen getting supper on the go and giving Everly her dinner. I also get both kids pyjamas and nappies ready, as well as their towels and Everly’s milk all laid out for after their bath. I also try to feed Aaron before bath time, no matter how soon before his last feed this ends up being. I want him to have a nice full tummy for the night ahead. Now that it’s winter, this is also usually when Farmboy will light a fire, something that is always a huge delight for Everly.

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  • 6pm bath time for both kids. We have gotten into a nice routine with both babes…I run the bath and then wash Evs and brush her teeth, and spend some quality time with her before hubby undresses Aaron and brings him into the bath where both kids have some fun splash time. I then take Aaron to his room for a nice massage, dress him and then he has a nice long feed. Then it’s a quick burp while I turn off the lights and hum our bedtime song, then a kiss and a cuddle before swaddling him, popping in his dummy and putting him down on our Nurture One Pillow. Hubby brings Everly into Aaron’s room to say goodnight to both of us, and then takes her to her room to get dressed and then she drinks her cup of milk and it’s story time and then straight to bed. Both little ones are down by 6:30pm and we collapse in a heap!

    While Everly sleeps right through, I generally am up feeding Aaron some time between 3 & 4am and then whew…the whole day starts again.

It took a while to get the above routine down, and as much as possible we try to keep it the same even when we go away. Obviously there are times when Everly has nap later than she’d like/miss a nap altogether especially when we are out and about, but I find the routine is as much for the kids as it is for us parents. Aaron pretty much goes along with the flow right now, and as much as I would like to get his routine waxed, only time will tell whether this is even remotely possible with two kids. On that note, please share your routines with me if you have more than 1 babe and how you make it all work! I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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Something I have been asked a lot is how I ‘manage to do so much’ with having two kids. As luck/Murphy’s Law would have it, I have only recently (literally from the last few weeks before Aaron was born) started booking clients for the web design service I offer. I wouldn’t advise offering a new service to clients when you’ve just had a new baby because you will be torn between needing to care for your little one and having to meet deadlines for clients. Having lots of work has really wonderful, in terms of the extra income. I can now justify all the extra cloth nappy purchases I’ve been making (#jokingbutnotreallyjoking).

BUT, because I feel like a lot of you follow me on Instagram and may think I’m some sort of superwomen being able to juggle two kids and work at the same time, I want to say that my Instagram (along with just about every other person I know) is a highlight reel. I share the beautiful and the happy moments on it, and choose not to showcase the hard times (I use my Instagram stories for this because, yes, there are LOADS of hard times and LOADS of moments where I feel like I’m not going to get through the day and LOADS of tears and frustration). But, those moments pass, even when you feel like they won’t, and everything has a season. I’d say right now we are in the middle of a pretty tough season, but I know that we’ll get through it, and that I’ll probably forget just how hard it was. Choosing to share the good and the beautiful is a choice I make, and have always made with this blog and all of my social media accounts. And I hope this is why you follow along, and that the things I share make you smile.

So how do I manage to ‘get so much done’ you may ask? I try to stay very organised. This means I meal prep Everly’s food (so that all that is required for most of her meals is to take something out the freezer the day before). Because we choose to feed her real food (click here to read more about Everly’s way of eating) having her meals prepped before hand takes a lot of stress out of my day. I also make sure to try and make a batch of yoghurt every 2 weeks or so, so even if I run out of snacks, I know I can always rely on keeping her tummy nice and full with homemade yoghurt which she loves. I also believe that you have to prioritise your day, and that a happy mommy is a good mommy. I like being busy, and I enjoy the feeling of being super productive, and so I generally have a million and one things on the go. I love blogging, designing websites & photographing my kids and our lives, and so I make sure to carve out time (even if it’s 10 minutes here and there) to do those things that make me happy. I’ve also finally accepted there is no such thing as a lie in anymore (or any semblance of an afternoon nap), and I try to get up before the kids so I can at least drink a hot cup of coffee and get dressed before the chaos of the day starts. I don’t always get it right, and quite often Farmboy will pop in during the day and find me looking like a complete wreck, with one kid winging at my feet and the other screaming in my arms, but all make it to the end of the day in one peace, fed and relatively happy.

Some pearls of wisdom from my dear friend Sophie: “Aim for a good morning or a good afternoon, it’s very hard to achieve both and this way if it’s been a bad start to the day, you know things can only get better! It’s also much easier to focus on a few hours at a time, a whole day can seem daunting”

Also…celebrate the small wins with chocolate and the hard times with strong coffee! I don’t believe that food plays much of a role in affecting baby through your breastmilk, and I would much rather have the ‘fuel’ of a strong cup of coffee to keep me going through the hard moments, than be left feeling hard done by and then try to function to the best of my abilities…but that’s just my two cents.

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Farmboy is still a farmboy, working hard all day. I often feel like we are ships passing in the night as he is up at 4:30 to go to work when I’m just crawling back into bed after feeding Aaron. Our marriage is strong though, and although we do fight and get frustrated with one another when our expectations aren’t being met (man oh man I believe expectations are the underlying cause of pretty much all fights between couples), we love each other and I would not be able to be the mother I am without him by my side. We do need to work on carving out more moments in the day/week for us to catch up and connect on a deeper level, so if you have any tips on this and how you navigate keeping your marriage strong when there are lots of little ones taking up all your time and energy, I’d love to hear from you too!

So there you have it, a little update on the past 3 months of being a family of 4. I feel like we are slowly emerging from the haze of the past 12 weeks, and I’m looking forward to the chaos (ahem, I mean, fun) that lie ahead in the months to come.

x

Hello to our new (PINK!) Chicken Coop!

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When we lived at the bottom of my in-law’s garden, there was already an established chicken run, complete with laying hens. It was wonderful having our own fresh supply of eggs (especially as Everly eats 2 eggs just about every day for breakfast…click here to read more about her ‘real food’ weaning & feeding journey) but also because Granny & Grandpa were a mere minute away for visits.

While there is a very old and rusty metal chicken house in one of the farm sheds, Farmboy has been wanting to make his own one for a good number of years now, and so our new home was just the prompting he needed t get started on the project. I will have you know, the pink colour was not my idea, but of course, I am thrilled with it! As there were two options for a primer for the wood (white or pink) the choice seemed obvious to my dear husband, and voila…the pink coop!

Farmboy didn’t work from any plans when we put it together, working from an idea on Pinterest, and his own clever farmboy mind, he whipped together a very snazzy A-frame house, complete with double story roosting space inside, and a hinged door on the side to collect eggs from. The chickens are locked up at night (to keep them safe and sound) and during the day are let out to wonder around their enclosure. We do let them out into the garden too, but they are such social creatures that they are ALWAYS making themselves at home on our verandah, and leaving ‘evidence’ behind that is just impossible to clean.

Here are some photos of the behind the scenes set up, as well as some photo of Everly collecting the first egg (it was promptly dropped, much to our horror) but luckily that evening there were another 5 eggs waiting for us.

We put all of our garden refuse/mulch into their pen, as they love pecking around in it. We also make sure the have straw for roosting and laying their eggs. Oh and don’t forget about Edgar, the man about town. He’s our friendy garden rooster, who lives in the garden, eating insects and other little bits and pieces…he sleeps in the trees! And everyone morning comes along with us to check on his ladies and make sure they are all happy. Funny little thing.

Enjoy

x

Pokkelokkie Newborn Cloth Nappy Review - Sleepy Dust Night Hemp Fitted & Dawn Patrol Day Cotton Fleece Fitted

Pokkelokkie Newborn Cloth Nappy Review Sleepy Dust Fitted Dawn Patrol Fitted-01-01.png

If you’re a part of any of the South African cloth nappy Facebook groups (click here for the official group…it’s where I learned everything I know!) and you ask about newborn cloth nappies, 9 times out of 10, people will recommend you use flats and covers, and then Pokkelokkie will be the brand most moms will talk about.

Pokkelokkie is owned and run by the lovely Kerryn, who is most famous for her hemp cloth nappies. She whips up her creations from her home in Brenton-On-Sea , right here in South Africa, with Pokkelokkie HQ taking up residence in her basement. Her slogan for her business is “buy once, buy well” and I learned the hard way when I first started out. I bought some newborn hemp flats from another company, and I was so disappointed in how they ended up looking after just a few washes. I then bought some bigger flats from another brand and the colours ran and ran and ran, and still run to this day. I won’t ever waste my time on any other brand of hemp flats (even if I’m trying to save costs) I’d rather just save a bit more and buy from Pokkelokkie.

When I found out I was pregnant with Aaron (click here to read more posts on my pregnancy) I knew that I was going to use a lot of Pokkelokkie nappies. I bought a whole stash of newborn sized hemp flats, and Kerryn got in touch and asked me whether I’d like to try out her Sleepy Dust Night Fitted nappy, as well as her Dawn Patrol Day Fitted.

Here are my thoughts…


Sleepy Dust Night Fitted (Hemp)

Pokkelokkie Newborn Cloth Nappy Sleepy Dust fitted review by Roxy Hutton CityGirlSearching Blog

I love this nappy! It’s squishy super absorbant, and I just LOVE the colour (it would be as beautiful on a girl as on a boy).

This nappy comes in either dusty blue or teal green (this is the one I have) and comes in a range of sizes; small medium & large. I have been testing out the Small size, which is recommended from birth to about 7kgs. Aaron is now 8 weeks old, and weighs about 5.5 kgs, but he is quite chunky and as he has been sleeping such long hours at night & has stopped pooing at night (yay & long may this last!) I don’t change him at night at all and so need to boost the nappy a bit. This makes it bulkier, and so I probably only have a couple of weeks of wear left. BUT, Everly was much smaller than him at birth, and I probably would have been able to use this nappy on her up until about 3/4 months.

The elastic around the legs is wonderful, as it really helps to contain those runny newborn poos. Aaron usually gives this nappy the ‘poop of approval’ during his first feed of the day, and I have yet to have a leak. As it’s a hemp nappy, it does need a waterproof cover. I prefer using PUL covers at night, my favourite right now being Blueberry Coveralls & my one and only Thirsties cover (these were all bought overseas and brought over by family) but you can buy Blueberry covers from TineyHiney (click here).

You will also need a snappy/pin to close the nappy. You can buy these from Pokkelokkie or you can get them at Pep/Ackermans.

Pictured below are all the extra bits that come with this nappy…

  • The ‘outer shell’, which is hemp

  • One hemp booster

  • A fleece liner

The Sleepy Dust Night Fitted nappy costs R165 for the small size (to fit newborn - +-7kgs), R360 for medium (to fit +-6-10kgs) & R390 for large (to fit +-9/10 - 15kgs).

Click here to head on over to the Pokkelokkie shop.

Here are a few pics of Aaron rocking his night nappy. The only con for me, I wish I had more! I plan on buying some in the bigger size too.


Dawn Patrol Day Fitted - Cotton Fleece

Pokkelokkie Newborn Cloth Nappy Review - Sleepy Dust Night Hemp Fitted & Dawn Patrol Day Cotton Fleece Fitted

Man oh man I love this nappy for day time use. The best part, the velcro straps! It makes putting this nappy on a breeze (especially for Dads!). The Dawn Patrol Day fitted nappy is made from Cotton Fleece, which means it’s not as absorbent as the hemp nappy, so it wouldn’t work well as a night nappy but it’s perfect for day time use when you would be changing every 2 - 3 hours anyway. Because it’s Cotton Fleece and not hemp, the bigger sizes are also a bit cheaper than the Sleepy Dust Night Fitteds, which is great because you would need a few of them for day time wear, vs just one or two hemp night nappies.

We have yet to have any leaks with this nappy. This nappy isn’t waterproof and also requires a cover (PUL, fleece or Wool are your options) and as I mentioned above, I like to use PUL covers, my favourite being the Blueberry Coveralls.

There are two velcro ‘settings’ on this nappy, meaning it can be adjusted to fit smaller and slightly heftier/older babies. Aaron is wearing the Small/Size 1 nappy, which first from birth to about 6kg’s. At 8 weeks he is just about too big for it, but I’m going to try and squeeze a few more weeks of wear out of it as Iove it so much!

The nappy comes with a cotton fleece ‘rectangular’ booster, and a smaller, round cotton fleece booster. It also comes in two colours, grey and the most gorgeous rust colour. It comes in three sizes, just like the Sleepy Dust Night fitted; Size 1/Small to fit birth to +-6kgs, Medium/Size 2 to fit +-5-10kgs and Large/Size3 to fit +-10-16/17kgs.

Pricing is as follows:

  • Small - R165

  • Medium - R250

  • Large - R275

Click here to head on over to the Pokkelokkie shop

All in all I’ve loved trying out these nappies, and will definitely be buying them both in bigger sizes for Aaron, and would highly recommend them both. Do you use cloth nappies? Is there any reason why you don’t/are scared to? Drop me a comment below, I’d love to hear from you! And I LOVE sharing my love for cloth nappies, so perhaps I’ll be able to bring you over to the cloth side :)

Here are all my posts on cloth nappies if you’d like to read more about our cloth nappy journey (we have used cloth nappies on both our babes from newborn, and Everly is still in cloth nappies at 19 months):

Disclosure: these nappies were sent to me as a gift to try, but all thoughts and views are honest, and my own.

How I store dirty cloth nappies in between wash days

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I’ve been using cloth nappies full time, right from newborn with my little girl (she’s 18 months old now) and now on my little boy (he’s 6 weeks old now) and I am often asked about the best way to keep/store dirty nappies if you’re not washing every day.

Most of the info out there recommends storing dirty cloth nappies in a basket/container with holes in it, as this gives the nappies air which, contrary to what you might think, makes them less smelly. I didn’t like the idea of having an open nappy bin, and so want to share what I use to store dirty nappies.

As I wash every second day, my dirty nappies aren’t left to get terribly smelly. I also rinse Everly’s night nappies straight away in hot water, and then leave these in a bucket next to the washing machine until wash day. So the nappies that go into the nappy bin are mostly wet (wee) nappies. For poo nappies, I ‘deposit’ the solids into the toilet (depending on just how ‘solid’ things are I may need to also rinse anything left behind off the nappy). I do this with a pair of gloves in the toilet. Then that nappy is either put in the bucket with her night nappies (if it was a shocker of a poo nappy) otherwise it goes into the nappy bin.

I wanted a nappy bin that looked nice in her nursery, and that’s where the Korbell Nappy Bin wins hands down. Even though it’s designed as a disposable nappy bin (and you use it with refillable nappy sack things) I just use it without them and use a washable pail liner from Biddykins instead. On wash day, I take out the pail liner full of nappies, and put everything into the washing machine (pail liner included).

I’ve got two pail liners for Everly…a pink one and a white one. So when one is in the wash, I alway have the other in the nappy bin.

I had planned on using Everly’s nappy bin for Aaron, but seeing as Everly is still in nappies (she is only 18 months), and the fact that newborns go through SOOOOO many nappies…they can’t practically share one bin. And so, I found another one second hand (I also bought Everly’s second hand) and then bought two more pail liners for Aaron’s bin…a blue and a grey one. If you’re wondering where to look for second hand baby items, I’ve always had great luck with Facebook marketplace!

I have yet to have any stink issues when using this nappy bin to store dirty nappies, but if you aren’t able to wash every day/every second day, then it might be a different story. When we go away, I generally wash every day as I don’t take ALL our nappies with us, and then I often just use an ordinary bucket. And I have to say, even though the bucket has no lid, it’s not very smelly either. So you could use something similar. I have been told a laundry basket (the ones with the holes in the sides) works well too, and it’s been said that you can add a few drops of tea tree oil on a face cloth and pop that in the nappy bin to help with the smell.

What have you found works best for you when it comes to storing your dirty nappies? Let me know in the comments below!

Our Toddler's Evening routine - what we've done (and still do!) from +-3 months

Our Toddler Evening routine what we've done from 3 months citygirlsearching blog-01.png

Seeing as we now have a toddler and a newborn, I wanted to share the bedtime routine we have done with Everly since she was about 3 months old. I want to write it here so I am also able to reference it in a few months time when Aaron wakes up from is sleepy newborn slumber and starts being more wakeful. Hopefully you find this post useful/interesting, and as always, I’d love to hear from you in the comments if there is anything else you do that you find works for you and your family.

Before having Everly, I was adamant that a baby would just slot into our lives and we wouldn’t be ‘those people’ who plan their day around their little one’s naps. But alas, I have since realised, a happy baby = a happy mommy & daddy and wherever possible, we try to keep to our routine as much for their sake as for our sanity. Everly has always slept well, and slept a lot. It even got to the point where I was googling ‘can a toddler sleep too much’ because the majority of my friends seemed to have babies and toddlers that just ‘hate sleep’. And while I am going to be a bit controversial here (because I’m sure there are little ones out there that REALLY struggle to sleep) I am going to say that the majority of babies/toddlers want & need sleep, they may just need more help to actually get to (and stay!) asleep. Even at 17 months old, Everly still naps twice a day (mostly) and these two naps range from 1.5 - 2.5 hours each. She also sleeps at night on average, for 12 - 13 hours. This post isn’t meant to be an ode to how wonderful my child is (from what I can tell with my friend’s kids, Everly may be more of the exception to the rule than the norm) but I do wish at least one person had shared with me that it is possible to have a good sleeper, and that you shouldn’t feel bad about the fact that your child genuinely needs/wants lots of sleep. I think there are lots of factors that play a role in ‘creating’ a good sleeper (things like diet, routine, patience and a WHOLE lot of strong will when it comes to ‘sleep training’…I’ll share our thoughts on this in another post) but as always, each child is different and each family is different too, you need to find what works for you.

Everly Rose Newborn Photos by Roxy Hutton of CGScreative & CityGirlSearching (6 of 18).jpg

We have done the same evening & bedtime routine since Everly was about 3 months old. Before that, she just fed & slept anywhere and everywhere. From Day 2 home from the hospital, we put her in her own room, mostly because she was so noisy when she slept, that neither me or hubby could get any sleep. I LOVE the idea of co-sleeping, I just know that it wouldn’t work for our family. I am a very deep sleeper, but Farmboy isn’t, and as he is up at 4h30 every morning to go and milk the cows, co-sleeping is just not something either of us feel would work for us. Having baby/toddler in their own room, away from you so you don’t hear every single sniff and gurgle, helps a whole lot in ensuring a better sleep for mom & dad…but again, if this isn’t for you and you prefer to have baby in your room, that’s a choice completely up to you to make. This post is not a post to bash moms and dads who co-sleep etc but more about sharing what we do and what works for us.

Everly’s evening & bedtime routine

  • Supper is at 5pm.

Everly has been brought up on a low carb, no sugar way of eating right from day 1 of starting solids. If you’re South African, I guess you would say she was & is a Banting Baby (although we aren’t strict with carb counting) and if you’re not sure what Banting is, it’s basically a low carb high fat way of eating. What this means is Everly doesn’t eat any form of processed carbs (no toast/crackers/cereal/pasta etc) and no form of processed sugar (no juice/sweets/chips/cake/commercial kids snack bars etc). You would be surprised at just how much hidden sugar is in most baby food products…and while I can control what she eats, this is how we have chosen to raise her. You may be wondering what on earth I feed my child, so here are all my posts on #whateverlyeats:

I strongly believe diet plays a huge role in sleep/development/overall contentedness (and the same applies to us adults!) and it would be my first suggestion to look at your little ones diet if they are struggling with sleep.

  • Bath & bed time starts at 6pm sharp

If she’s been cranky/hasn’t had proper naps during the day we often start earlier so she’s in bed by 6pm, but very rarely is she in bed past 6h30pm.

Farmboy has always done bath time, as it’s his special time to with her. After her bath, she has her milk (I breastfed her up until 13 months - around the 3 month mark of my second pregnancy, at which time it just became too sore for me, and she got too big to be lying on me and my growing tummy) and that’s when we started her on cows milk. She gets a 150ml non spill cup of milk (it’s raw farm milk…which she has grown up on and is the same milk I used to make her homemade yoghurt which she ate from about 7/9 months old).

We started her milk in a TommeeTippee Explora Cup, and she’s still using it today. Even though this cup is probably more suited to babies than toddlers, Everly wasn’t ever weaned from breast to bottle, we went straight onto asippy/drinking cup from the breast, and so this was her water bottle, and now this is what she gets her milk in. I don’t worry about how much milk she drinks, and didn’t ever measure out exact quantities, even after I stopped breastfeeding. Reason being, she eats a LOT of dairy (mainly cheese and homemade yoghurt) and so I knew she wasn’t ever going to be calcium deficient, even if some days she would only drink a few sips of her milk at bedtime. Whatever she doesn’t drink at night, gets put back in the fridge and she gets that in the morning when she wakes up.

While Farmboy is bathing her, I get her milk ready, close the curtains and put her nightlight on (we use a beautiful pink Quartz lamp that she’s had in her room since she was born) as it gives off the warmest, softest glow. I bought her pink quartz lamp (and the white quartz lamp in Aaron’s room from StaticEnergy in Jhb).

I then lay out her pyjamas and night nappy (we use cloth nappies and the night nappy is always a rather big and bulky situation as it needs to last +-12 hours). Then I say goodnight to her, we say some prayers (when I can remember…I really want to reinforce this with her but haven’t been so great at it up till now) and I leave the room. Farmboy dries her off, puts cream/massage oil on her (we still use and LOVE Pure Beginnings Massage Oil), and then dresses her for bed. She has a dummy (which she has nicknamed ‘Nunni’ and a special sleep time soft toy, ‘Dudu’), which she only gets to have when it’s nap or bedtime.

We’ve always had a bedtime song that we have and still sing at bed time. It’s more of a lullaby that we hum, but it’s such a nice way to reinforce that it’s bedtime. When Everly would wake up often at night, one of us would always use that lullaby to calm her down and help her get back to sleep.

Once she’s dressed, it’s story time. Sometimes she will still have her milk at this point, but we take it away once we leave the room. Story time is mostly a full blown discussion of ‘what’s da’ or ‘what’s that’ as she points to each and every picture in the book. It’s the sweetest thing listening to the Daddy & Daughter chatter before bed. Once story time is done, it’s a quick kiss good night and and ‘I love you’ and then whoever is doing bedtime walks out. 9 times out of 10 she settles quickly. But since getting a video monitor a few months ago, I’ve actually seen that she isn’t always sleeping when I think she is! I don’t mind though, as long as she’s happy and quiet in her bed, I don’t really mind what she’s getting up to. I’ve watched her for over an hour just lying there, legs in the air, playing wit her DuDu and stroking her face with it…funny thing.

We also recently took the sides down of her cot (CoziCot Stijl) and turned it into the toddler bed it’s able to convert into, as we slowly transition her to the single bed in her room. It’s been about 3 weeks of her in her ‘big girl’ bed and it’s been a relatively painless process (blog post to come on that move soon). I was REALLY nervous about the whole thing, especially as she is now able to get in AND out of her bed whenever she wants to, and has free access to everything in her room, but I have been pleasantly surprised at how it’s all gone. I was most worried that her night time sleep would be disrupted by the move, but apart from one night of her falling out the bed, and her waking up slightly earlier than normal (6am instead of 7am), it’s like nothing has changed. I think it’s been such a smooth transition because of the same routine we follow every night. Even when we go away, we follow the same ‘bath, milk, pj’s, story, bed’ routine and 9 times out of 10 she goes down without a fuss. We also, as much as possible, stick to the 6pm bath & bed time routine no matter where she goes to sleep.


I weaned Everly off her last night time/early morning (it was at about 3am) feed at about 7 months. We had a couple of rough nights, but she adjusted quickly. We then went on an overseas trip to the UK, and she went back to demanding that early morning feed, which I went back to giving her during the trip as we were staying in relatively small homes with family and I didn’t want to keep everyone up. But once we got home I weaned her off that feed again and within a few days she went back to sleeping +-12 hours at night.


If you’d like me to share our sleep training ‘methods’ I’d be happy to write about them in a separate post. Hubby and I are very strict when it comes to bed and nap times, and do leave Everly to cry if it’s time to sleep and she’s up and about. This has worked extremely well for us, and I’d be happy to share what we’ve done, right from the beginning…let me know in the comments below!

I hope you’ve found this post interesting. I’d love to hear about your families routine, and what you’ve found works for you. Leave me a comment below, I always enjoy hearing from my readers.

x

What's in my hospital bag - What to pack for baby

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I have T-minus 10ish days until my little boy joins us in the world (unless he comes early like his sister did, in which case I may only have 1 or 2 days to go!!!!), and I have finally finished packing his bag for hospital! They always say you should have your bags ready early, as you just never know what might happen, but I’ve really been rather late to the party with this second pregnancy. But, after a couple of really achey days and loads of cramps and contraction like symptoms, I decided enough was enough and washed everything that needing washing, and packed everything into it’s place. I had packed my own bags a little while ago (click here to read) and I can officially say we are ready! To be fair, babies don’t care whether you’ve taken the perfect photo of their bags before they decide THEY are ready to be born, but it does feel good to have packed everything I’ve wanted to pack, as well as photograph it all and write this blog post.

What you pack will largely depend on what hospital you go to, and what that hospital provides you with during your stay. Some hospitals give you a baby bag with lots of essentials (like nappies, cotton wool etc) and others don’t. Your hospital also won’t provide clothes for your baby, and if you’re anything like me, you might be quite particular about the nappies & products used on your newborns skin. I will be having my baby at Mediclinic in Pietermaritzburg (if all goes according to plan and I am able to have the VBAC delivery I am hoping and praying for, and if I need to schedule a caesar for any reason, I am hoping to book in at Life Hospital in Hilton) and they give new moms a lovely baby bag upon delivery which contains one pack of newborn nappies, as well surgical spirits for the umbilical cord, cotton wool, and a few other sample sized versions of baby wash/shampoo/lotion. Even though these are really lovely extras, I will be packing everything baby needs from the nappy & skincare side myself, and then will share below what blankets and clothes I’m packing too.

what to pack for baby for hospital citygirlsearching blog

Here is the basic guide I was given by my hospital:

  • Five sets of clean baby clothes: vest, babygro, wrapper/receiving blanket, socks, beanie

  • One warm blanket

  • If you are bottle feeding, our milk kitchens are fully stocked and equipped. You are welcome to bring your own bottles, teats, formula milk and sterilising unit if preferred

  • Dummy and holder (optional)


Here is a breakdown of what I’m packing for baby, as well as the brand names in case you like what you see and want to now where I got each item from. I also am pretty sure I’m going to add things to the bag last minute (like more swaddles/receiving blankets) but I am trying not to overpack like I did with Everly:

Blankets:

  • 1 soft cotton receiving blanket (Woolies)

  • 1 soft cotton swaddle blanket (Giggle & Beans)

  • 1 bamboo muslin (Kapas Baby)

  • 1 fluffy fleece blanket ( Not packed or pictured yet)

what to pack for baby for hospital citygirlsearching blog

Nappies & Wipes

We used cloth nappies from the newborn stage with Everly (I started cloth from about Day 5, just after we had gotten home from the hospital) and plan on doing the same with BabyBoy. But I’m not going to pack any cloth nappies for hospital, opting to rather use bio-degradable disposables which I had family bring over from the UK.

Eco-friendly/bio-degradable nappies are unfortunately really pricey here in South Africa, but they are available online from places like Faithful To Nature and The Organic Shop. I love the Kit&Kin range of nappies (from the UK) and luckily had family go there on holiday who could bring them back for me. I’m packing 2 packs (40 nappies in total) for our hospital stay. In case you’re wondering what I do with the packs of disposable nappies I get given (like for example the packs that come in the Dischem Baby Bag (click here to read about how to get your free baby bag) and the Mediclinic Baby Bag) I either donate them or re-gift them to friends. I do keep a couple on hand in my nappy bag for emergencies, but haven’t bought a disposable nappy for Everly in over a year!

As for wipes, I absolutely LOVE Pure Beginnings, and always to stock up on their wipes at the MamaMagic Baby Expo as they are always at a really good price. I also buy a pack here and there when I am in BabyCity or Dischem, as it hurts less to buy them gradually rather than all at once. The Pure Beginnings baby wipes are biodegradable (but please try not to flush them down your toilet…although the odd one won’t hurt, flushing wipes…even the ones that say ‘flushable’ can really wreck havoc on your drainage system! These wipes are so soft and gentle on the bum, and smell wonderful…I highly recommend them!

what to pack for baby for hospital citygirlsearching blog

Skincare

I really, really, really love all the Pure Beginnings baby products I’ve used. And I especially like their Probiotic range for newborns. I used the cream wash and the body cream on Everly until she was about 5 months old, and still use the cream wash every now and again. For hospital I”m packing their travel sized products (where I can) even though we know we will only bath baby once during our stay, choosing to only do this right before leaving the hospital. I think it’s so important that baby. You can read up yourself as to why some parents choose to delay their baby’s first bath, here is a nice article.

Here is what I’m packing in a little toiletry bag:

  • Baby Wax (Oh Lief) this was a sample from Everly’s baby shower, and I just love how smal and compact it is and it does a great job at moisturising dry patches.

  • Wecsin Powder (for the umbilical cord…this all natural antiseptic powder is AMAZING for wounds, and so much nicer than the Surgical spirits traditionally used…it’s also amazing to use on your Caesar scar).

  • Probiotic Baby Cream Wash (Pure Beginnings)

  • Massage Oil (Pure Beginnings) I’m not sure if we will even use this as I prefer to use the Pure Beginnings Sensitive range for the first few weeks at least, but I love this oil and want to have it on hand, just in case.

  • Bum Cream (Pure Beginnings) & a small tub of Sudocream

Something else you might want to pack is a pair of nail scissors. Lots of babies (especially if they arrive past their due date) have really long fingernails. I personally just used to bite Everly’s nails while feeding her (they are so soft and easy to bite) and although it sounds weird, I was too scared that I would hurt her with the scissors and found I was able to be far more careful with my teeth. I only started using nail scissors from about 6 months or so.

what to pack for baby for hospital citygirlsearching blog

Clothes

Eeeek this was really hard.

When Everly was born it was the beginning of September, and as the weather was more on the cool side, it was easier to pack for that than I’ve found now that I’m having a baby in the height of Summer. Hospitals are generally kept at a pretty standard temperature, but I’ve never been very good at gauging what I should dress Everly in. I have gone with what friends recommended, and that is long sleeve baby vests and long sleeve baby grows:

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I have also packed each outfit in it’s own ziplock bag to help keep things organised:

  • 3 x outfits consisting of long-sleeved vests with poppers, long sleeve long leg baby grow/onesie, socks) and beanie (not pictured)

  • 1 x going home outfit consisting of sleeveless vest, long sleeve top with poppers, footed leggings and a beanie

  • Extras: 2 long sleeve vests with poppers, footed leggings, socks, beanie

Long-sleeved white vests: Woolworthes

Socks: Woolworthes & H&M

Onesies: Next UK & Woolworthes

Going home outfit (green & cream): H&M

Goodness me I can’t get over the size difference between certain brands. The two mostly white onesies above were Everly’s, and came from Next in the UK. They are TEENY TINY compared to the Woolies (blue) onesie and the other newborn outfit from H&M (green and cream). On the other hand, the newborn sleeveless vests I bought for Everly just before she was born only fit her for about half a day as they were SO tiny. I ended up having to use scissors (I kid you not) to cut them off her. It does seem that Woolies has adjusted their sizes to be more appropriate these days.

what to pack for baby in hospital when giving birth citygirlsearching blog

Extra’s

I’ve also packed a dummy, a Blue NUK Silicone Size 0 Soother (part of the Blue & Rose collection). It comes in a set of two and also comes with a handy sterlizing/carry case to keep them clean. These are the same dummies Everly used, and the same brand she uses now. We didn’t ever have any problems with nipple confusion etc, and she took to a dummy pretty easily (thank goodness!)

I plan on breastfeeding, and so won’t be taking any bottles along with me, but you might choose to pack your own preference of bottles and teats. I was given a set of TommeeTippee Closer to Nature bottles for Everly’s baby shower, so I will have these on hand at home. We didn’t really do much bottle feeding with her, as I work from home and was around to feed her 99% of the time (click here to read more about our breastfeeding journey).

Sleep association/teddy/fluffy toy of some kind is also a nice extra to take with you. I won’t be packing one as I’d rather not worry about it getting lost in the nursery during our stay, and let’s be real, newborns are pretty much allllll about sleeping and feeding at this stage of their lives. Everly LOVES her Nattou Mini DouDou (you can buy these from Kids Emporium & Hamleys here in SA) but word of warning, whatever cuddly toy you choose for your baby (or whichever one they choose for themselves) make sure you rush out and buy a back up to have on hand for wash days/the times you forget it at Granny’s house ;)


There you have it, the items I’m packing in my hospital bag for my baby boy.

Here is a link to the post on what to pack for mommy (I have packed a bag for labor & a bag for recovery…just to help keep things organised and so hubby knows where everything I might possibly need is)…click here to read.

Please let me know if I’m leaving anything out, or of there’s something you wish you had packed. And as always, feel free leave any questions you may have in the comments below, I love hearing from you!

x

An ode to cloth nappies - sharing the love for modern day cloth

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My oh my we have come a loooooonnnng way in our cloth nappy journey. I mean look at how teeny tiny Everly was when we first started. I am very proud to say that we have officially made it to this point, doing cloth full time (not an easy feat!) and we have loved (just about!) every moment of it.

Today I’d like to share more on our cloth journey, along with what brands and types of nappies we love, the ones that worked for us in the beginning, and what works for us now. I’m also always SO happy to answer questions, so please feel free to fire away in the comments section below.

The majority of my nappies have come from wonderful local South African businesses, how amazing is that! While a lot of the fancy brands are from overseas, we have incredibly talented ladies like Kerryn from Pokkelokkie who HANDMAKE their own nappies. Pokkelokkie are hands down my favourite brand for hemp flats, and are worth every cent! I’ve used Kerry'n’s newborn hemp flats right from newborn to toddler, as I now use them to boost absorbency in my other nappies.

Newborn - the first few weeks & months:

We mostly used flats and covers (click here for a full post on newborn cloth) for the newborn phase, until she was able to fit into the OSFM (One Size Fits Most size which is the next sizing in cloth nappies). There are basically just two sizes you need to worry about with cloth nappies (Newborn & OSFM) as most toddlers are out of nappies by the time their OSFM stop fitting. But, a lot of brands do make larger sizes for bigger & older toddlers too. I also had a small selection of bamboo fitteds and then my mom also helped me DIY our own flats and pre-folds that we made from cotton receiving blankets

For night time we used pretty much what we were using during the day (flat and covers). Newborns really do go through a lot of nappies, and we ended up changing every 1.5 - 2 hours on some days. Everly was a wonderful sleeper right from the very beginning, sleeping up to 3 hours at a time during the day between feeds, and generally 5 - 7 hours at a time at night (please can her little brother be like this too!!!) but this did mean that her night time nappies really needed to be able to hold up for those long stretches. I would use two hemp flats folded together in origami fold, with a bamboo booster at night, and then a cover.

Here are the types and brands we used (I’m linking to the online stores where you can buy them too…although I can see that some of these particular styles from certain brand are no longer in their stores):

+/-Month 4 - 11

Once Everly got to be about 6kgs, she was finally able to fit (sort of) into the ‘easier’ types of nappies. I say easier, as pockets and AIO (All in One’s) don’t require any folding, you just put them on the same way you would put on a disposable and you’re good to go. We used a mixture of pockets and AIO’s, and then still used flats and covers too.

For nighttime, I found pockets and AIO’s weren’t absorbent enough, and so alternated between flats and covers, and Little Lamb Bamboo Fitteds with a cover.

  • Pockets - a mixture of pre-loved Charlie Banana pockets which were sent to me by a friend in the US and then new Biddykins pockets. I was able to use a microfibre inserts in her pockets until about 5/6 months, after which I had to add a bamboo with the microfibre for more absorbancy. At around 8 months I got rid of the microfibre completely and boosted her pockets with a bamboo and a hemp insert. My bamboo inserts are from Little Lambs and the hemp inserts are from Biddykins.

  • AIO’s - a mixture from Biddykins and Pipapo

  • Hemp Flats - a mixture bought preloved & new in medium size (60cm x 60cm) from SugaBums & Fluff & Stuff

  • Covers: Buttons & Blueberry Coveralls (bought overseas but I have linked to South African stores where you can get your hands on them)

I do have a good giggle when I see how big some of the nappies look on Everly in the photos below. It can be a bit of a struggle getting a good fit when their legs are so teeny tiny, but (apart from the Charlie Banana pockets) she is still wearing the nappies pictured below today (almost a year later!).

A year on and still going strong

Once Everly got to be about a year, her ‘output’ increased drastically, and I found I needed to boost all of her nappies a lot. I also started changing her before every nap, as well as changing after her naps.

I still use a bamboo with a hemp insert with her pockets, and sometimes boost her AIO’s with either a pad folded hemp flat, or a hemp/bamboo insert.

Now her stash is mostly made up of pockets, SIO (Snap in One’s) and AIO’s for daytime, and then for night time I use a mixture of hemp flats, pre-folds and bamboo fitteds. I was using Little Lamb Bamboo Fitteds, but found that they weren’t holding up very well and I was getting leaks. There are loads of great tips for troubleshooting leaks, but I found that I was having to boost the nappy so much that it was just so big and bulky, that her covers wouldn’t fit properly and thats why I was getting leaks. But we used these Little Lamb fitteds from about 8 months to now. I have been using the same 3 Blueberry waterproof covers since newborn to now, they are my absolute favourite covers, with soft elastic at the legs, and a double gusset to prevent leaks.

Everly’s Daytime Nappies:

  • She has a mixture of SIO’s (Snap In One’s) or All-In-Two’s from Grovia (which you will soon be able to buy from Biddykins) these are the purple and pink ones below, and I love the Grovia O.N.E.’s. She also has two very special Kylie Co nappies (the floral and white woodland one below), and she also has a couple of Buttons covers and inserts:

Everly’s Nightime Nappies

  • I have two winged Hemp Pre-folds from Kanini. These are the grey ones below. I boost these with a Pokkelokkie newborn hemp flat (these are the same ones I used on Everly when she was a newborn…you really will use your newborn flats all throughout your cloth journey!) which I fold in three, and then a LittleLamb Bamboo Insert.

  • I have 2 Bamboo Fitteds from Sloomb that we only recently got to add to her stash. I got these from a Canadian site called Lagoon Baby and had family bring them over.

  • I have 3 waterproof covers from Blueberry (these are the same ones I used on Everly when she was teeny tiny…they are well worth the price!) but you can also buy lovely covers from Biddykins.

  • Snappies to fasten nappies (I bought most of my Snappies from Pep).

And now for some incredibly cute on the bum shots:

My stash has changed a lot over the past 16 months, and I’m glad I took everyones advice when I started down this path, and that was not to buy all of the same brand/type before baby arrived. I was advised to build up a variety of brands and types, so that I could see what fitted baby the best, as well as what styles I preferred to use. I had family visit the UK just before Everly arrived, and that’s where I bought a lot of my ‘fancier’ overseas brands to try out. Cloth nappies can be as cheap or as expensive as make them, and trust me when I say it becomes addictive! I also bought a variety of nappies pre-loved (second hand) from the South African Cloth Diaper Buy/Sell/Trade Facebook group. This is an excellent place to start looking and building up your stash because you can get some great deals on nappies that people bought but didn’t end up using/didn’t work for them.

I also HIGHLY recommend browsing through the South African Cloth Nappy Users website, as they have everything you need to know about where to start with cloth nappies, how to troubleshoot problems you may experiece along the way, as well as loads of info on all things cloth.

Here are all my posts on cloth nappies (including how to do newborn cloth and what we used, as well as how to wash your nappies).

Let me know if you have any questions at all…I really am passionate about cloth and love sharing what I’ve learned with people.

What's in my hospital bag - What to pack for mommy

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The photo below shows what was in my hospital bag for when I gave birth to Everly in September 2017.

I wasn’t sure how hot or cold the hospital would be (although I was told to expect all sorts of ‘seasons’ even during my 3 day stay due to the aircon working/not working). I had Everly at Mediclinic Pietermaritzburg, and had my husband and doula present through the entire labor (it ended up being an awful long time….nearly 36 hours!) and unfortunately ended up in an emergency ceasar. I feel as though I pretty much experienced both types of births (i.e. went into labor and laboured naturally, with no pain meds and then had the recovery for an emergency caesar) and would like to share what I packed and found useful, as well as the things I will definitely be packing this second time around.

I’m now 35 weeks pregnant, and have been told it’s probably a good time to get all my bags together (you know, just in case things start happening earlier than expected). So whether you are hoping for a natural birth or planning on having an elective caesar, this post should give you a good idea of what to pack. I

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Not everything I packed last time is pictured above, as I had two separate bags, one for labor and one for my stay in the maternity ward afterwards. It helped separating everything and not having to dig around in one huge bag, and it really helped Farmboy and my Doula find things when I wasn’t able to be very coherent. I’m also going to mention afterwards what I plan on packing this time around, so you will be able to see what I actually ended up using, what I wished I had, and what I would highly recommend packing in your bag.


What I’m packing this time around:

As I’m not sure how this birth will go (I’m planning on/hoping for a natural delivery and spontaneous labor) but have learned from my first birth to be prepared for everything. Because of this I’m going to make sure to pack for both a natural & a caesarian…what you would pack isn’t very different, but if you have a natural delivery you might only spend 2 nights in hospital, whereas a caesarian is generally a 3 night stay.

You still need ALL of those maternity pads (I thought you only needed them if you had a natural delivery!) and those mesh panties WILL become your new best friend.

I am also packing two bags again, one for labor and the other for the time I spend recovering in the maternity ward.


What I’m packing in my ‘recovery’ bag:

  • Feeding bras (I actually only ended up wearing one when I had visitors, and the rest of time was far more comfy without one). My favourite ones are the soft nursing bras from H&M. I also really like their nursing tops (strappy tops that have a built in bra that you can lower the straps down to breastfeed). These tops are amazing for layering under your clothes and give your tummy more support, while also making you feel less exposed when feeding.

  • Comfy Pyjamas: last time I packed about 4 different sets of cute pyjamas, and ended up wearing the same one. I packed long night dresses that buttoned up the front, but found the buttons to be a pain to keep having to do up. This time around I am packing one ‘nice’ sleep shirt that buttons up, a soft cotton/viscose nightie (these ones from Woolies are my favourite as they are easy to pull down to feed) and this top and bottoms from PerryWinkle…see below:

  • Breast-pads: Generally your milk only comes in around day 3 or 4, and before that your body is only producing colostrum and so you don’t generally need to worry about leaks. My milk came in when I got home, and from the very beginning I had a very forceful let down. What this means is your milk pretty much comes gushing out (of both sides) as opposed to it flowing in a slower, more manageable way for baby to be able to drink nicely. Often, women with a forceful let down have problems with baby having lots of wind as they are trying to drink as fast as the milk flows and end up gulping lots of air. There are lots of things you can do for a forceful let down (different feeding positions etc) and it’s generally considered a positive problem to have. But one of the effects of having such a strong letdown was a lot of leaking, and so went through boxes and boxes of breast-pads (the Pigeon ones were my favourite disposable ones, and the Biddykins Breast Pads were my favourite washable/re-useable pads). Having to wear breast-pads was always such a pain, and the worst was forgetting to pack a stash of them when leaving the house. I always make sure to keep a whole stash in the car for those ‘just in case’ moments.

  • Breastpump & Nipple Shileds: While it isn’t advised to start pumping before your milk supply has properly established (usually around 6 weeks) I highly recommend taking a pump with you to the hospital. I had a few moments when my boobs were so full and uncomfortable, and while I didn’t really know what I was doing with the pump, it did help relieve them a little. Ideally you would want to pop baby straight onto the boob rathe than pump, but Every was placed under the lights to treat her mild case of jaundice for a couple of hours a day, and so it was during that time on our last day in hospital that I found the pump really handy. All that I was able to pump was a teeny bit of colostrum, but it did help.

    What pump you buy is a very personal choice. I didn’t want to invest in a really expensive pump as I didn’t know how my breastfeeding journey would turn out. Personally, I would recommend buying a manual pump in the beginning, and then depending on how your breastfeeding journey goes, and if you have to go back to work, then perhaps you can invest in an automatic one if you find the manual one too time consuming/frustrating. I did pump quite a bit of milk and ended up building quite a large stash of milk in my freezer that I didn’t ever end up using. I donated my frozen stash to one of the Doula’s in the area who was helping a new mommy and her very prem baby. This was so special for me.

    The reason I didn’t end up using the stash I had so lovingly built up was because I work from home and so was always around to be able to feed Everly directly. When she got older and I did leave her with Granny, she didn’t every really take to a bottle (I didn’t force this issue because I realised I didn’t really need to and while it may have been nice and convenient to have hubby feed her, I really cherished our special time together). Once baby gets older they go longer and longer between feeds, and so you do end up being able to leave them for longer periods of time without needing to worry about feeding. In these instances it was me that ended up suffering more, as my boobs adjusted to not being ‘drained’ and so I made sure to pack my pump in the car with me just in case I needed to pump for my sake. This is another bonus of having a smaller, more compact manual pump as you can pop it in your bag for emergencies. I really liked the Avent Manual pump, but have heard from loads and loads of mums that the Clicks Manual pump is just as good and about half the price. I have also heard amazing things about the teeny tiny and compact silicone breast pump (you can buy this one online from Biddykins or Faithful To Nature.

    Before having Everly, I had no idea what a nipple shield was. It just sounded like some sort of weird kinky object, but now, after using them, I would recommend them 100% and strongly recommend friends pack them in their hospital bags for just in case. While a lot of the very ‘pro breastfeeding’ groups don’t recommend the use of them (they say they can cause nipple confusion and make your breastfeeding journey harder when it comes to weaning baby off them) I just feel that if they help you continue to breastfeed (even if they require effort to wean baby later on) they are 100% worth it. Breastfeeding isn’t always easy, and doesn’t always come naturally to a lot of moms. I wrote a post on my own 13 month breastfeeding journey (click here to read it) and offer lots of tips and encouragement for new moms. I say pack a set of nipple shields in your hospital bag for just in case. You don’t have to use them by any means, but if you have them then at least you have the option if things get off to a difficult start with your little one.

  • Gown & slippers: definitely pack a comfy gown & slippers to wear while wondering around the hospital. Just bear in mind the time of the year (in Winter you might want to wear a fluffy gown and fluffy slippers vs Summer…although the hospital will be temperature controlled). As with all the clothes I packed for hospital, I washed everything in a baby friendly detergent. Newborns have such a sensitive sense of smell, their teeny little bodies haven’t had any time to adjust to their new life outside of your tummy, and so you want to try and ensure they aren’t going to get a rash/reaction to the smells on your clothes (the same goes for body washes, perfume etc). My favourite baby detergent is the W.LAB brand from Woolworths. I washed all of Everlys clothes in it until she turned a year (she only officially started crawling then and so before then her clothes didn’t really get very dirty) and after that started washing all her clothes and blankets in the same washing powder we use for everything else in our home (Ariel). You don’t have to use a baby washing detergent, it all depends on how reactive your baby’s skin is.

  • Pads & Panties: whether you have a natural or a caesarian birth, you will bleed (for up to 6 weeks postpartum) and so will need to have a stash of pads on hand. I am so thankful to my sister-in-law who told me about this, as I had no idea. Maternity pads are your best bet (the Carriwell and Dr White ones are great) and then I recommend having a smaller stash of regular pads for later on when the flow lightens up. You will be given a pack of pads to use during your hospital stay (I was also given a pack in my Dischem Baby Bag and in the Baby Bag given to me when I had Everly in hospital) but if you want to stock up, you can buy maternity pads at most pharmacies, and then Clicks and Dischem have a really good selection. You can also buy lots of the Carriwell range on Takealot. Then I have to mention the mesh panties…these bad boys will become your best friend! They are gently on your tummy (especially if you’ve had a caesarian) and are big and stretchy enough to be comfortable. They are basically designed to hold your maternity pad in place, and while they aren’t the most glamorous of things around, they are super comfy! They come in packs of two, and you can either throw them away after each use, of you can gently handwash/machine wash them and re-use. I gave them a good wash in the shower between uses and then they dried really fast as they really are just a soft mesh material.

  • Pillow, extra pillow cases, a couple of dark coloured face cloths & 3-ply toilet paper: I really, really, really loved having my own feather pillow in hospital. If you do pack your own pillow, make sure to pack an extra pillow case (it’s so nice to put a clean and fresh one on) make sure they are brightly coloured so you don’t loose it during your stay. Dark facecloths are so you can freshen up nicely in your first few showers postpartum (you won’t want to use a white facecloth during that time, trust me!) and then my absolute MUST PACK is soft toilet paper. Maybe it’s just me, but having something soft to use when on the loo felt like a HUGE luxury after my long labor. My mom was the one who thoughtfully brought me a small pack of 3 ply paper for my stay. Needless to say it’s not something I would have thought about before hand, but it makes such a difference to use that instead of the horrible and scratchy 1-ply that is usually in the hospital loos.

  • Snacks: while you will get a good 3 meals a day during your stay (as well as tea/coffee mid morning and afternoon…gosh those first few cups of tea were heaven sent!) I was hungry ALL of the time, and often just wanted something handy to snack on and drink. I really enjoyed those small juice boxes from Woolworths, home baked bran and raisin muffins, biltong, nuts and those yummy oat bars from Nature Valley. I made sure to stock up on all these things for home (we stay about 1.5 hours from the nearest grocery store) but while in hospital, it was easy for hubby to pop out and grab me snacks and drinks during my stay.

  • Comfy going home outfit: I packed one of my Cherry Melon maternity dresses to wear for the car ride home as it was loose fitting and nice & cool. Bear in mind you will (probably) still have a tummy for the next good while (I read somewhere that you still end up looking about 4-5 months pregnant after baby) and so I knew I wouldn’t want to wear anything tight. If you have had a caesarian, you will especially not want to wear anything that is tight on your scar. A dress was really comfy.

  • Toiletries & Makeup:

    • wet wipes: my absolute favorite are the Garnier Skin Active Micellar Oil Infused Cleansing Wipes as they are super soft, gently, smell amazing and leave my skin feeling wonderfully soft and moisturised) .

    • Face Cleanser, Cream & Tonic from Skin Creamery. Their all natural & organic range of facial products smell amazing, and are really gentle on the skin. I love that they contain no nasty additives and leave your skin feeling wonderful. Just what every new mom needs. I also use the Oil-Milk cleanser & Everyday cream on my body.

    • Shampoo & Conditioner

    • Concealer/BB cream, Pressed Powder, Blus, Lip balm & Mascara: just a few of my favourite makeup products so I feel a little more like myself, especially for photos during my hospital stay.


What I’m packing in my labor bag:

  • 2 Big fluffy towels: during my labor with Everly, I was in and out of the hot shower constantly. The hot water really helped with the contractions, and I really didn’t enjoy using a wet towel every time I came out the shower. The hospital did supply one towel, but I really liked having my own.

  • 2 gowns: I wore one gown while things were ‘easier’ in the beginning of labor (this is the same pink gown I had packed and used for my stay in the maternity ward), and then really liked having my fluffy gown on hand to use in between showering. It also was the only thing comfortable enough to wear that actually made me feel covered up, and at the same time was easy to take on and off when needed.

  • Slippers: I packed one pair of slippers that I had in my labor bag, and then used those same ones once I was in the maternity ward later.

  • Dark coloured face cloths: these were absolutely essential during labor, and my Doula used two for cooling me off and keeping me comfortable when things got tough later on in labor.

  • Snacks: I didn’t want to eat much while in labor, but devoured a whole bag of Woolworth’s soft gummy sweets. I also enjoyed being able to drink apple juice in the beginning, but later on only wanted to suck on ice chips and drink water. Having some of your favourite snacks and drinks on hand (this is hospital dependant and not always allowed especially if you have an elective caesar booked but pack them anyway, you’ll get to eat them afterwards in any case).

  • Music: having something to listen to when things really started heating up was essential. It helped me to stay relatively ‘out of my body’ and focus on my breathing. Make sure you pack your charger for your phone/ipod and that you have comfy headphones too.

  • Nice smelling candle: this was another MUST have for me. I had a very special candle from South Korea which I just love and always makes me feel nice and calm when lit. Some ladies prefer some essential oils for massage or their favourite hand cream.

  • Toiletries: I’ll have my toiletry bag with me during labor with everything packed as specified above. As I was in and out of the shower, it felt great to be able to put cream on every now and again, and to use face wipes as the time went on.


There you have a full run down of what’s going into my hospital bags this time around. It’s on my To Do list to make a video of the above, and if I get around to it I’ll post it below. I am also writing a post on what to pack for baby next, so keep an eye on the blog for that. I’ll link it below when it’s up.

Please feel free to leave me a comment below if you have any questions or comments, I love hearing from you! Also, let me know if I’m leaving anything out!

x

34 Weeks pregnant with Baby#2 & an update on my hopes for a VBAC

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Well, this pregnancy sure has flown by, and yet in some ways it feels like I have been pregnant for forever. And what they say about your second pregnancy being a bit of a blur, is completely true! I’m doing my best to capture this pregnancy, and to keep up Baby Boy’s journal ( bough both Everly’s and BabyBoys journals from Typo!), but there are only so many hours in a day and when most of them are spent running after a busy toddler, it doesn’t leave much time to daydream about what life is going to be like when he arrives. In some ways I’m almost glad, as the moments I do have to sit and wonder about what life will be like, I’m left pretty much terrified (in a good kind of way haha). I have zero idea of what life is going to be like with two under two, and as Everly isn’t walking yet (she’s 16 months old now and although she’s cruising along everywhere, pulling herself up on everything, pushing her trolley around everywhere & has taken quite a few steps on her own…she is still not officially walking). While I’m not worried about this from a developmental point of view (I mean, she only started crawling just after her first birthday) it’s more of a worry for me as she is so darn heavy and I’ve already got nearly 20kg’s of baby weight on my front…and so picking up another 12 - 15kg’s in the form of a squirming toddler is not my idea of fun. I’m not up for that kind of cross fit session every time we have to go anywhere ;)

She’ll get there eventually, I just hope it’s before her brother is due to arrive in +-6 weeks time!


Today I wanted to share a bit more about my hopes & dreams for a VBAC.

A VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarian…aka a natural birth after a caesar) has been my dream ever since Everly was born via emergency c-section in September 2017. I do plan on sharing her birth story (if anyone is interested in that) but to sum it up I went into labor naturally, and after 36 hours of unmedicated labor, my cervix started hardening (I was already 7cm dilated) but she just wasn’t progressing any further. I have a lot of ‘what ifs’ and ‘If onlys’ but after that amount of time, as well as my doctor and the nurses worrying about her being in distress (not to mention how exhausted I was) and so I was rushed off to theatre and my little girl was born a mere 30 minutes later. It wasn’t what I had planned, but she was born healthy & safe, and even though it was not the sort of birth I had hoped for, I don’t feel any remorse about it. I just feel a lot of determination that it will go differently this time.

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In saying that, I have come a long way in the past 7 & a half months with regards to my mindset and I’ve realised that what is most important for me, is just to go into labor naturally. I want my baby to choose his own birthday, to be ready to join the world, and for my body to be ready too. I’ve realised that in some ways a Caesar is ‘nicer’ if I can put it that way (no tearing/cutting, a longer stay in the hotel ahem I mean hospital) but the recovery time is much longer than a natural birth, and trying to recover from a second c-section, feed and care for a newborn AND look after a busy toddler is not going to be easy.

VBAC’s in South Africa

Just a little note…these are my own thoughts & perceptions from months and months of research & spending time chatting to care providers and other moms, I am in no way bashing the health system here, but rather sharing my own personal views.

South Africa, in general, is not very VBAC friendly. Most gynaes are not very keen on the idea (I say most, because up until recently I didn’t even know that it was an option to try for a natural birth after having a ceasar as it’s not something the majority of gynaes support). I am generalising, as there are some incredible VBAC pro gynaes out there, but they are few and far between, and there are lots of reasons for this.

First of all, most gynaes will tell you that the biggest risk of a VBAC is your uterus rupturing. While there is a chance of this happening, the actual statistics are soooooo tiny (it’s less than 1%), and there is only a slightly lower risk of this happening even with a regular, first time vaginal birth. Anyway, this post is not supposed to be a rant on gynaes and their choices to avoid ‘risk’, but rather to share my feeling and decisions in wanting to pursue a VBAC.

There are also lots of factors that affect a positive outcome for a VBAC, and a lot has to do with the reasons why you may have had to have a Caesarian in the first place, as well as the type of scar you have (these days its most common for a Low Transverse Incisions to be done…this is from the top left and across). If you had an elective caesar the first time around, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to birth naturally. If, like me, you had an emergency caesar, it can change things a bit as your doctor would worry about whatever happened to prevent a natural delivery the first time, happening again.

If you are wanting to explore the option of a VBAC further, I would HIGHLY recommend joining the VBAC in South Africa facebook group. There are loads of wonderful ladies in that group sharing their experiences, their VBAC successes and failures, as well as LOADS of information of VBAC’s here in SA.

Did you know that Government hospitals will push for a VBAC due to the immense cost & labour (ie staff required) of caesarians, preferring for the mom to rather attempt a natural delivery than have a repeat caesarian. This really should highlight just how normal the idea of a natural delivery after a c-section is.

Here in South Africa, most gyna’es have a very strict tick box list for a VBAC in hospital (these may vary slightly, and some gynaes may differ/be open to changes but these are the general guidelines:

  • Baby must weigh 3.5kg’s or less at birth

  • You must go into spontaneous labor (ie your body has to go into labor naturally) by 38/39/40 weeks

  • Labor has to progress by 1cm an hour

  • There should be at lest a 2 year gap between your last birth and your current due date

From what I have read and from the many, many ladies I have spoken to about this, the highest chance of a successful VBAC is to have a home birth with a midwife & a doula. While I love the idea of a home birth, I’m not sure it would be something I would actually pursue, and the fact that I live 1.5 hours from the nearest hospital basically rules out that option, especially for a VBAC, when most midwives wouldn’t attempt a home birth for a VBAC as if things do go wrong, you need to be able to get to a hospital as fast as possible.

Your second best chance for a successful VBAC is a hospital birth, but with a midwife as your primary caregiver, and a Gynae as backup. This is a tricky one, and unless you really strike it lucky with a Gynae who agrees to be ‘on stand by should things go wrong’ it’s not easy to make happen. It’s different if you live in Joburg or Cape Town, as then you have the option of a clinic like Genesis, which is midwife led, and whose whole focus is on a natural delivery. I visited Genesis in Joburg for my second trimester abnormally scan, and it was just the most incredible place. I even considered moving in with my family in Joburg for the last few months of my pregnancy, just so I could give birth there…but then came to my senses when I had to ask myself if would really be happy being away from my husband for those months, and also would he be happy to be away from me and his little girl during that time.

Third option, and the one I have had to settle for due to my own personal circumstances (basically, the fact that I live out in the middle of nowhere!) is to have a hospital birth with a VBAC pro gynae. There are not a lot of options for VBAC pro gynaes in Pietermaritzburg, and in my months of research, have realised there is a big difference between a VBAC pro gynae and a VBAC friendly gynae. A VBAC friendly gynae is open to the idea, but they are far more risk adverse than a VBAC pro gynae, and the chances of a successful VBAC are much lower. Anyway, beggars can’t be choosers, and I have found a VBAC friendly gynae (she was the gynae who actually delivered Everly as my doctor just so happened to be overseas when I went into labor) and so as she actually did my surgery, I decided to go with her for my second pregnancy. She was very blunt with me in the beginning, not saying no to a VBAC, but not being very hopeful either. She just told me we would have to see how my pregnancy progressed, and gave her strict list of labor protocol. I left every check up with her ( up until about 28 weeks) feeling despondent, and not at all hopeful for my VBAC. I even considered changing gynaes several times…I just wanted someone to give me the chance and to be encouraging and positive about a VBAC. I wasn’t looking for anyone to make any promises to me (after all…I have first hand experience of how things can change during labor) but she was very honest and pragmatic about the whole thing, and I really respect her for this now. She didn’t want to give me an false hope, and I’ve realised it’s not her job to feed into my birthing fantasy, when she knows there is no actual way to know what will happen during your pregnancy, never mind during the actual birth.

I think the guidelines above make it pretty much impossible (if followed 100%) to have a VBAC. First of all, the weight scans during check ups are estimates…Everly was estimated to be 3.5kg’s at birth and was born at 3.085. Not many women (generally speaking) actually go into labor naturally before 40 weeks…many are induced (something that is not recommended for a VBAC as labor can progress very quickly once induction has taken place, and this places a greater stress on your scar tissue. For labor to progress by 1cm an hour is pretty much ideal textbook stuff, and not likely that most women’s bodies would follow this ideal. The age gap stated is to give your body and scar an adequate amount of time to heal, but some women heal faster than others, some scars heal better than others, and so this is a very hard guideline to follow. I have heard most midwives prefer an 18 month gap, and no less. But then again, there are always exceptions and I have read about amazing mommies who have had successful VBAC’s with a 11/12/13 month gap. My gap will be about 17.5 months if baby arrives at 40 weeks.

It was at my 28 week scan when my Gynae told me that although she does elective caesars at 38 weeks, she was willing to make an exception and allow me to go to 39 weeks for spontaneous labor. I was happy to compromise on this, and considering Everly arrived at 38 weeks (and apparently second time labor is likely to be early too) I felt confident that my labor would begin before then. If not, I agreed to set a date for my repeat caesar. I have just gotten back from my 33 week check up, and Doctor was very happy with how things are looking and has told me, that as long as everything is else is in order (ie no complications, baby is in the right position etc) she is happy to let me go to 40 weeks. I am delighted with the news! So, according to my original due date, I’ve got until the 22nd Feb to go into labor naturally. I will be doing ALL the things to try and ensure this happens, but as I mentioned above, I am far more at peace with a repeat ceasar that I was before and now will just have to wait and see what happens in the next 6 weeks.

I’ve got my wonderful Doula, Clare, at the ready (Clare was by my side through my entire labor with Everly and I know I would not have been able to make it as far as I did without her) and was one of the first people I told I was pregnant this second time, and told her to make sure she had a note in her diary for mid/end Feb! All that I can do now is wait, stay healthy, keep active (do my kegels, bounce on my Pilates ball) and be patient.


If you’re still following along after the above very long VBAC related discussion, here are some more general thoughts and feelings on how the last 10 weeks of my second pregnancy have been. Click here to read my first post on how this second pregnancy has been.

My Body

Following on from the tummy comparison I shared above, here is a comparison of me at 33 weeks with Everly (on the right) and now with BabyBoy (pictured left).