Heads & shoulders, knees & toes

I’ve been reading to Millie since before she was born.

Not sure if she could hear me or if it’s the reason she now loves it when I read her a book.

I found the little book Oh, Baby, the Places You’ll Go! which is a book designed to be read in utero.

It’s adapted from the Oh, the Places You’ll Go! story by Dr Seuss (and coincidentally, that was the book we used as a reading at our wedding) and it’s said that learning starts while bub is still in mum’s womb.

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Oh, Baby, the Places You’ll Go!, adapted by Tish Rabe from the works of Dr Seuss

Once she arrived, I bought Millie a board book called Mesmerised, a black and white book of pics to help her see.

High-contrast images are much easier for babies to see when they are little. I’d prop it up beside her and soon discovered the title was apt…she would stare at the pics for ages.

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Mesmerised, by Katey Love

Now I read her a nightly story – I’ve found she responds well to books with repetition – and we’re regulars at our local library’s fabulous Baby Rhyme Time sessions.

Held every couple of weeks, the free 20 minute sessions are designed introduce your child to language, literature, singing and the library.

Millie loves it. I wasn’t sure she would sit and listen but she is entranced by the singing librarian and often turns to look at me and giggles, as if to say she approves.

Humpty Dumpty, Five Little Ducks, Heads and Shoulders…they are all read or performed, often with puppets or dolls.

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Enjoying Baby Rhyme Time at Brighton Library
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Brighton Library

There’s toddler and preschool storytime at our local branch too, so I can keep taking Millie along until she goes to school.

Hopefully it will introduce her to a lifelong love of reading.

Blockbuster baby

My house is pretty small. I’m ok with that.

Millie doesn’t need much space yet, but when she does we have a huge park (complete with play equipment, cricket fields and a lake with ducks) just up the road as well as the beach at the very end of our street. She’s a lucky baby.

The size of our home, however, meant I was super keen to leave the confines of our four walls and get out and about soon after bringing Millie home from hospital.

During a daily stroll I found my local cinema ran ‘bubs’ sessions, where mums can bring their new little bundles while checking out the latest flick.

It’s been fantastic. Searing heat? The cinema is air-conditioned. Freezing cold? You’re in a comfy cinema, out of the house but still out of the elements.

It doesn’t matter if your baby cries. No-one cares. I think you are only actually disturbed by your own baby’s grizzle. I didn’t notice when the babies around me sooked.

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Millie slept through her first visit to the movies

I took Millie for the first time when she was only about four weeks old. My sleeping baby was snuggled in my arms, I had a latte in the cup holder beside me and didn’t even have to share the popcorn. Bliss!

Feeding is encouraged, the sound is lowered and the lights are left dim.

We’ve witnessed Cate Blanchett in what is tipped to be her second Oscar-winning performance, we’ve watched rom-coms, arthouse gems and the latest Hunger Games installment.

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Millie testing seat comfort at our local theatre, the Classic Cinema in Elsternwick

Even if the movie of the week is not my cup of tea, I cherish the couple of hours where I can sit and just cuddle my baby – and not be distracted by the dishes in the sink, the washing that needs to be hung or crappy daytime television.

Spit The Dummy Sessions run every Wednesday morning at the Classic Cinema, Elsternwick. Tickets are $11, babies under 3 are free.
Village and Hoyts also host mums and bubs screenings.

The Nappy Collective

Millie and I have just come back from a morning stroll where on the way we donated some leftover disposable nappies to The Nappy Collective.

The new charity redistributes donated nappies to organisations that support disadvantaged mums and families.

We only had about 10 nappies to donate (how is it that Millie can fit into a nappy one day, but it be way too tight the next? Is she really growing that quickly?) but every nappy counts.

The volunteer mums who started the collective late last year have already helped distribute more than 1500 nappies to those in need.

There are 19 collection points in a Melbourne and Sydney that will accept unused nappies for two weeks from today. There will be more collections in June and October.

Click here for collection points near you, or to find out more.

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Millie helped to collect the nappies she’d grown out of

Steering down the right path for Bugaboo accessories

We bought our baby a Bugaboo. Despite the fact it cost more than my first car, it’s been one of the best baby items we’ve bought. I love it. Millie loves being in it. It’s a smooth ride. It’s easy to push and manouvre. Happy days.

Millie and her little friend Olivia snooze under their Breezy Sun Canopies during a walk to Luna Park
Millie and her little friend Olivia snooze under their Breezy Sun Canopies during a walk to Luna Park

We bought quite a few baby essentials at a David Jones Baby & Toddler Expo. The department store hosts these special days a couple of times a year and brand representatives are on hand to answer questions – but the best part is that prams, cots, car seats, monitors etc are 20% off on the day.

It was perfect because we picked out what we wanted and paid a deposit while it was all ordered in. There’s not much space at our place and we could relax knowing we had all we needed on its way while we cleared out the spare room that was to become bub’s nursery.

I didn’t test out many prams to be honest, but trusted the opinions of friends who used a Bugaboo.

After a go of pushing it around DJs and a shot at folding it up, we settled on a Cameleon 3 with the plain black fabric set. We didn’t find out if we were having a girl or boy, so black suited either. It looks chic too, and when baby did arrive, the dark canopy meant it was easy for her to fall asleep.

While the pram is close to perfect, there have been some additions I’ve made (seems just because you spend $1000+ on a pram doesn’t mean everything you need comes with it, oh no). There are some pram accessories that I think are worth the extra cash.

The cup holder was on my birthday wish-list. It’s great. It keeps my daily takeaway latte upright while I tend to baby and allows me to have two hands on the pram. You can buy them at Baby Bunting.

I bought a cheap bag hook that’s been super handy, especially while Millie was in the bassinet. The bassinet on the Bugaboo is very roomy (Millie still fitted in it until she was 6 months) but it’s tricky to access the underpram bag holder. The bag hook allowed me to attach lightweight bags without the need for squashing it under. The Brica brand one I have is hardened plastic so it doesn’t make a noisy clunk along the handlebar when you fold the pram up. Toys R Us, Kmart, Target and Baby Bunting all have lots of different types.

I also bought the Bugaboo Breezy Sun Canopy and it’s been fantastic so far in these sweltering summer temperatures. It allows for extra ventilation and mozzie protection through fine mesh panels on the sides and at the feet, has a UPF of 50+ and extends over the stroller seat (or bassinet) so to keep the sun off bub entirely. It means we can still have a walk outside on warmer days. I got mine at Buckets and Spades in Brighton, it was about $100.

After converting my pram to the stroller mode I purchased a seat liner. I figure that it’s easier to pull it off and wash it than trying to clean the actual pram. There are some talented sewers out there making seat liners in all kinds of bright and beautiful printed fabric if you don’t want to spend the $75 on the Bugaboo one. A quick search on Etsy or eBay will offer up plenty of options.

Spending extra money on the footmuff is probably uneccessary. Most babies have multiple sleeping bags with holes for harnesses and warm blankets to keep cosy during the winter chill. If it was that cold and blowy I probably wouldn’t venture outdoors with my baby anyway!

I admit the printed canopies look funky. There’s Andy Warhol prints and alternative colours but the fabric set that it comes with is fine.

You can buy snack trays, parasols and Bugaboo-branded blankets but I think these are add-ons you really don’t need.

There’s even a Bugaboo transport bag…but at $210 I’d be tempted to buy a stroller overseas to use while on holiday or even buy a cheap stroller here that won’t worry you if it’s thrown around and damaged while in transit. Target has a cheap and cheerful stroller available now for just $25 that would suit bubs over 6 months.

Learning skills I hope I never use

 

My maternal and child health nurse suggested my new mothers group think about doing a paediatric first aid course.

We know not to leave bub unattended on the change table, not to leave our children in a hot car and we remember to check the water temperature before we pop them in the bath. But we realised we didn’t know what to do if our babies became seriously ill or injured.

As a group – and with our partners and bubs in tow – we completed the Vital Aid course run by KidzAid Melbourne.

Millie does her best CPR manikin impersonation
Millie does her best CPR manikin impression

The 2.5hr course was held at a nearby learning centre (it can be arranged to complete the course with a small group at home) and made a huge difference to my confidence with my baby because I now know what to do if something goes horribly wrong.

We learnt basic life support and CPR and what to do in the event of choking, drowning, fever, burns and seizures.

We had hands-on practice with lifelike paediatric manikins and learnt from a helpful instructor (all instructors are critical care nurses and paramedics) who made us feel at ease and went over anything ‘baby brain’ failed to understand the first time.

The course is $60 a person, which is money well spent when it comes down to having a little peace of mind.

KidzAid Paediatric First Aid Training can be arranged through kidzaid.com.au

 

 

Kids, I think you’re ready for this Jelly

Millie and I ventured across the West Gate today for brunch with friend (and mum-to-be) Meags in the wild, wild west.

Meaghan and Millie at Jellybread
Meaghan and Millie at Jellybread

Personally, I don’t think Footscray deserves its Footscary nickname. Today, as we walked past numerous mums with babes in prams and houses being renovated by enthusiastic young parents, West Footscray was friendly and unassuming.

We decided on brunch at Jellybread. Boy, do I wish this was around the corner from my place.

The prams parked out the front was a dead giveaway that this was our kind of cafe.

Jellybread is cute, cosy, welcoming and a breath of fresh air for mummas. I often see fear in the faces of new mums as they tentatively wheel their newborns or squirmy toddlers into cafes, hoping, just hoping, to get five minutes of latte-sipping time before bub throws a tanty. This cafe is owned by a mum of three. You can tell she understands.

Millie is still young enough to be content sitting in her pram, but I know this won’t last forever.

The double-fronted cafe, in Barkly St, is full of old-school charm, plenty pasted on the walls to keep little babes entertained and a quaint indoor playroom to keep toddlers amused.

Jellybread's indoor play space
Jellybread’s indoor play space

But if the weather allows, wander out the door to the left of the counter and plonk yourself at an outdoor table. The cafe opens up to a large, fenced backyard, complete with guinea pigs, trikes, pedal cars and a full-size (but long retired from service) caravan.

Jellybread Cafe's backyard is a delight for kiddies
Jellybread Cafe’s backyard is a delight for kiddies

Jellybread has started BBQs on a Sunday that are a big hit with families.

But for Tuesday brunch I scoffed down the dukkah eggs and Millie enjoyed the side dish of avocado while watching other children feed grass to the guinea pigs.

The sun was shining, our tummies were full and this mum and bub were happy little Vegemites indeed.

Jellybread Cafe is at 561 Barkly St, West Footscray, open 9am-4pm.

 

 

 

The fuzzy yellow height chart

There’s a lot of ways to track the rapid growth of your new baby.

Born 4 weeks early, Millie was such a tiny little package, swaddled with her sleeping face popped out the top like Snugglepot in a gumnut.

But boy did she change, and quick! Spindly legs grew chubby, her hair got longer and her beautiful little newborn sleepy face all of a sudden morphed into a beautiful little alert baby girl face. This happened before my eyes, within weeks, all too scarily speedy.

So began the Winnie the Pooh fortnightly measurement of growth.

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I was told about this idea from my pal Holly, who mentioned her in-laws regularly photographed their little boy beside the same teddy to capture how much he changed in the first year.

Giant Winnie dutifully sits on our bed every fortnight and smiles as our growing girl is placed beside him for her photo shoot.

We’ll eventually print them in order in a photo book – such a sweet way to remember what she looked like and how she has changed.

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Before long Millie will be much bigger than Winnie. Once the fortnightly pics wrap up I think I’ll keep the Winnie & Millie tradition going, at least annually, on her birthday or at Christmas.

 

Glowing, glowing, gone

I can create quite a sizable afro montage on the top right hand corner of the shower screen these days. My hair, it seems, wants out.

It wasn’t always like this.

During my pregnancy last year my hair was shiny, thick and swishy. I gave Rachel Hunter a run for her money (showing my age here folks, apologise if you are too young to remember Rod Stewart’s ex wife and her 90s Pantene commercials). My skin glowed without the need for primer. My expanding baby bump rounded and smoothed out the jiggly parts of my tum.

I loved being pregnant. I was lucky enough to escape the morning sickness, the ballooning ankles and the crazy cravings.

But now…oh dear. Hair carpets the bathroom tiles and what my husband and I have affectionately named the hair rat sits on the corner of the shower screen after every wash*. Glowing decollatage is now more likely to come from bub’s dribble giving me a nice ‘sheen’.

Appointments at the waxing and hair salons are squeezed in between feeds and when someone is home to take bub out of your clutches for an hour or three.

(Thank goodness) I’m not Kim Kardashian or Kate Middleton, so don’t have the fear of getting papped once I venture out of the house. But feeling ok about leaving the confines of your home is important – Millie and I enjoy our daily walks, I really believe it’s good for both of us.

I’ve asked fellow new mothers the little tricks they use to help the time-poor, overtired, emotional mummas out there look and feel more human. Some said a fail-safe messy bun in their hair disguised an overdue cut and colour; another had her eyelashes tinted so even without make-up she wouldn’t look like a zombie; many (including me) wear trendy harem/slouch/PJ-style pants instead of trackies – same comfort factor, but much more stylish – and a another friend said dry shampoo was so essential that cans of it should be given to every mum-to-be at their baby shower.

Anyway, I’m sure our bodies will settle down, our hair will return and primping and preening will get easier as the bubs get older and settle into routines.

When all is said and done, I don’t know what I’m worried about. With a cute new bubba peering from the pram, who’s looking at me anyway?

*Hair rats are disgusting, but sticking the stray hair up there until I get out sure beats pulling it all out of the plug hole down the track.