Friday, 20 January 2017

A bond doesn't come from a breast or a bottle

A lot of you may think from the title that this is a breast/bottle debate, is, albeit not the usual. 

I recently read an article over on Huffpost Parents UK, about the breast/bottle debate from a mans, specifically a fathers, viewpoint. 

In the article, the author, Nigel Higgins  explained that he has no passionate feelings towards either breast or bottle feeding, but emphasises that with breast feeding, he (obviously having no breasts) can't really comment on it apart from that 'dads are left out in the cold'. 

I have to say, I found this an odd comment. He goes on to describe how not feeding his breastfed child and thus having 'no role as a parent' made him 'seriously question whether he had even became a parent at all'. 

With Nigel's subsequent children, who were required to be bottle fed expressed milk, he states that he was able to bond much quicker with these children, as he felt that he wasn't able to bond with the previous child until the weaning stages (!!). Nigel explained that 'nothing compares to the bond when feeding your child'. He ends the article by saying "So, when I see these debates, almost arguments, about what’s best, breast or bottle, just a little thought could be given to dads in these little babies lives. We want to bond and feel the special moments too. It’s not always just about mums." (I actually wonder if he realises the debate is actually breast milk/formula milk, rather than breast/bottle, as none of his children were formula fed.)

You can read it here

This article left me so baffled I wondered for a moment if it was a spoof article. For one, yes, actually aswell as being all about the baby, breastfeeding IS all about the mum. For the sole reason in my eyes, that it's really bloody difficult. I remember my wife's breastfeeding journey, syringing drops of breast milk into our month-early newborn, him too sleepy from antibiotics and prolonged jaundice to latch. The pain for weeks, struggling to get him to feed, his tongue tie procedure, her determination to do the absolute best for our son - remembering that journey is why i believe so much that breastfeeding women should be so incredibly proud. And through that journey, my wife needed my support, not for me to demand 'but what about me?!'. 

I took my wife fennel tea into hospital to increase her milk supply, i sat with her again and again, expressing her milk into syringes, I sat with her and held her when she cried at the pain, I told her I would support her decision if she stopped, I told her over and over, that she was incredible, and now, still breastfeeding a 7 month old I bring her water as breastfeeding makes her thirsty - we were, and are, a team. 

But what I find strangest about the article, is the claim that you are obsolete as the 'other parent' if you do not feed them, that you cannot bond or feel like a parent until you feed them. I have fed Oskar bottles of expressed milk occasionally - I can't say it's an overwhelming experience! 

I have an amazing bond with my son - it comes from being the first one to hold him when he was born,holding him skin to skin, from holding him, talking to him, singing to him, reading to him, changing and dressing him, teaching him, playing with him, wearing him in a sling, bathing him, making him laugh, keeping him safe and warm, cuddling him, watching his eyes light up when he sees me, or feeling him hold on to me..compared to those things, holding a plastic teat to his mouth, is kind of insignificant.

I don't mean to disregard the authors feelings, he is entitled to them, but these are mine. Did the dad in the article not do any of the above things? If so, did he not feel a bond was created through them? Yes, breastfeeding is undoubtedly the absolute best way of giving your child nutrition and women who breastfeed are superheroes, but it is not the only, or even the best, bonding activity. 

I'm sure there are other ways a father can bond, if myself as a mother have found many. Myself and my wife are both mothers - our bonds with our son differ in some ways, but are undeniably equal. 

A few people have mentioned induced lactation to me, where a woman induces milk production, enabling her to breastfeed a child she did not give birth to. Firstly, this is kind of impractical in a lesbian couple in my opinion. It's hard enough for one Mom to ensure she is feeding enough to keep up supply/satisfy the child, ensuring she is feeding from alternate breasts etc - managing that twice sounds difficult! Plus, I went back to work when Oskar was six weeks old, and the biggest reason - I just don't see it as important or necessary; breastfeeding, and definitely not bottle feeding, doesn't = bond. 

I feel more of a bond sitting with my wife while she breast feeds our son, than feeding him myself with a bottle of expressed milk. 

As one of the many baffled comments on the article states, a baby is more than a digestive system. A bond is created through many different ways apart from feeding, but more than that, the bond of working together as parents to care for all aspects of your child's needs, knowing as a family you all have your ways of caring for each other, is the most beautiful bond of all. 

A bond comes many things - not just from holding a bottle.

Just to add - as this picture of our son trying to latch onto my arm shows, he doesn't even realise milk only comes from breasts, never mind only Lauren's breasts!

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Not forgetting the fur baby! Pawsome Box review

Our dog Willow has always been very much our fur baby - she has been with us everywhere, from on the London Underground to the tops of Welsh mountains to Brighton beach. She has treats on her birthday and an advent calendar at Christmas! 

But when you have a human baby, despite us previously being people who couldn't imagine loving a human baby as much as our fur one (!!) the attention that you can give them unavoidably decreases. 
So we have made sure if one of us is sat holding Oskar, the other one has Willow, she accompanies us on walks with him, and we try and make time for playtime whenever we can.

So when we were contacted by Pawsome Box to test out one of their dog subscription boxes, we thought it was an ideal way to give Willow a little 'congrats on being a big sister' treat! 

Subscription boxes are huge at the moment, with the craze originally starting with beauty items and snacks, they are now branching out into other avenues - we already subscribe to a vegan box. And who doesn't love receiving post?! 

Pawsome box however, is as the name suggests, entirely for your dog! 

The company behind the Pawsome Box describes it as

"Recently developed by a team of passionate pet lovers, the Pawsomebox and Purrfectbox are a monthly arrangement of 5 to 6 specially selected goodies for your faithful companion. This new concept will enable you to receive an arrangement of constantly renewed goodies from the top brands. Pet food, toys, animal care products and accessories, from £14.90, free of shipping costs."

We received our box a couple of days before Christmas, so it was perfect timing to give to our pup on Christmas morning! 

On opening the box, they have definitely thought of the recipients humans too - the items were folded in cute paw print tissue paper, with a little booklet 'Paw Notes', containing information about the products, and recipes of treats you can make for your pooch! We thought this was a nice touch. 

But what about the goodies?!

Willows box contained: 

A squeaky santa soft toy
chicken and rice treats
Plouf dog shampoo 
A squeaky penguin toy
Beef and apple treats
Christmas themed poop bags!

Which always come in handy! 
We hadn't heard of the Plouf shampoo before, and for a while have just washed Willow in baby shampoo as it is gentle. So we were intrigued to try this out! Plouf have a range of shampoos, this one was the Universal (all fur types) shampoo, which is paraben free, gently cleanses and contains grape extract to add brightness and shine. We have to say, Willow isn't the biggest fan of baths (tip for dogs who agree - we found putting a towel in the bath for them to stand on, which stops them sliding around, helps!) but we loved this shampoo! It smells amazing, and the scent subtlety lingered on Willows fur afterwards. Her coat had a beautiful shine, and the product seemed very gentle. 

The next two products are Willow's favourite - food! The box included two bags of treats - Premio rice chicken balls, and Iams beef and apple snacks. Both were really great quality and Willow loved both of them. 

And finally, another popular one with Willow - toys! The box contained two, both Christmas themed which was great, one soft and one hard plastic. Willow always goes for the soft toy type toys first, but despite being a very small dog, they don't last long! This one did however last longer than normal, and we are happy to report the penguin is still going strong! 

Ears up, tail a blur - it's a winner!

We were really impressed with the Pawsome box - it really has been well thought out. From the great packaging, to the fact the items are tailored to information you provide about your dog, to the variety of items - we really liked that the box contained equal parts food, toys and grooming. The products were all very different from each other, but were all fantastic quality; there were no cheap filler items whatsoever. 
The box is also fantastic value - anyone who's had a shopping trip around large pet stores knows how much toys, treats and grooming items can add up to, and to many of us our pets are members of the family who we want to spoil, but despite the products in each Pawsome box being worth around £30 - the box costs around half of that. 

And if you're more of a cat person, there is also a version for cats, The Purrfect Box! 

We have a discount code to get our readers £5 off either a Pawsome Box, or a Purrfect Box - just go to their website at or and enter the code ukb1qvky.

Thank you to Pawsome Box for allowing us to treat Willow, and introducing us to some great new products!

Sunday, 15 January 2017

The Sunday night feeling

Most people experience it...the dreaded 'Sunday evening feeling'.

You know the one, where after a weekend of seeing your partner, child/ren, family, friends, of days out or long brunches, lazy lie ins and takeaways on the sofa, there is suddenly the knowledge that it's soon coming to an end! 

Most evenings we like to wind down by having a cup of tea and lighting our candles, but as I do that this evening, I started thinking about the 'Sunday night feeling.'

In the spirit of my new journals encouraging gratefulness, I realised - Sunday evenings, or the days ahead that follow them, aren't so bad.

I may not LOVE my job, but it's in a field I'm interested in and want to remain in for the foreseeable future, I have brilliant workmates (with people, including my boss, I class as good friends,) in fact some days I actually enjoy my working day! And more than that, I was reminded by a blog post about working mums today, a job is something to be grateful for - it pays for us to live in our nice house, it pays all our bills, for the car we drive. It sets a good example to my son. It gives me a purpose, interaction, challenges. 

Likewise, my wife gets up Monday mornings to a new week of raising our son. She plans to find a part time job in the near future, so this time of being with our boy all day every day is not infinite. But we are so lucky to have her. She is the best wife and mother ever. She makes sure our house is clean, and that we have healthy, delicious meals, whether that's the three of us sitting down at the table to dinner in the evening, or making me lunches for work everyday that make my colleagues envious! She takes care of us. Our son is 7 months old and has never watched television, because Lauren spends the whole day taking him to various groups and classes, reading to him, and playing with him. But just like my job brings me perks, her day does too - she is lucky that she spends all day with our boy, that she has the odd peaceful moment to herself when he naps. And when she has a job, that will bring benefits too - because as amazing as being a stay at home mum is, mums are also humans! Her future job will bring variety, talking to adults, and more money for us. 

No one is perfect, and is always thrilled/grateful about another week at uni/work/home with a baby all the time, but it means your week ahead involves studies that will ensure you realise your dreams one day, a job that feeds and houses your family, or time with your little ones. 

Be proud of yourself, and enjoy the rest of your Sunday! 

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Babease & baby led weaning

It seems many of our favourite brands we have discovered at the Baby Show - Cheeky Wipes, The Do Good Baby Company, and G Nappies to name a few. Unfortunately last time we were a little disappointed with the lack of innovation and originality on offer, until we came across a stall called Babease, that is.

As Oskar was about 4 months old at the time, we were starting to look in to our options for weaning, for when he was about six months, so decided to take a look. Their stall looked fantastic, with lots of multicoloured veg, and we spent a while chatting to the owners of the company about the products they offer.

Created by a chef and a nutritionist, Babease make 'food for babies, not baby food' - a range of vegetable led recipes where 'every ingredient is used for a reason'. The owners explained to us that many baby food pouches on the market that sound like they are full of vegetables are actually bulked out with sugary fruit. Although fruit isn't bad for babies, it is thought that by giving vegetable based tastes to begin with, you will build their palate to accept and enjoy savoury, vegetable flavours and tastes and not just go for the sweetness found in fruit.

Babease have two stages available - 4+months, which are smoother purees, gentler flavours and use a maximum of 30% fruit, and 7+ months plus, which are chunkier, and the savoury recipes have 0% fruit. 
Both are focused on using premium organic ingredients, sourced in the U.K where possible.

The vegetable led recipes from Babease introduce babies to real foods and flavours, rather than just sweet fruit based puree, and they use some flavours never included in baby food flavours before, helping babies to develop broader palates. We are definite foodies and love trying new things, so we definitely want our son to be as adventurous with food! 
The recipes in the 7month+ sound like meals we eat ourselves!
The ingredients in the pouches are listed clearly on the back in a wheel chart form - so you can easily see every ingredient in the pouch, and how much of it makes up the whole recipe.
 We also chatted to the owners about the fact that although we thought the Babease products sounded amazing, we were leaning more towards the baby led weaning approach. They told us that pouches can actually be used with baby led weaning, and were used by a relative of theirs who successfully used the baby led weaning method with their baby (more info on this coming up!)
Babease kindly sent us a box of amazing goodies when Oskar was ready for weaning at six months, including lots of their yummy pouches, and one of their adorable bib in a bags! (The bibs in bags are available from their website for £4.99, we have our eye on the butternut squash one!).

As we've mentioned before, we never write here about brands we don't genuinely love - they need to be great products, either innovative , ethical or both, with great companies behind them. 
And we can genuinely say, we loved these pouches! They made aspects of baby led weaning much easier (again, we'll discuss this shortly), and it was great having peace of mind that we knew exactly what was in each pouch that we were feeding to our precious boy. It was also nice to have spoken to the owners before hand, which really gave us a feel for the company - they seemed so genuine and passionate, and obviously really believe in their products. Oskar was definitely a fan too! 

We've had quite a few questions about baby led weaning since we began our own journey, so we've answered the most common ones here:

What is baby led weaning?

Baby led weaning is essentially, letting your baby feed themself. Whether it's picking up preloaded spoons or baby friendly sized portions. It puts the baby in control of what they eat, how much, and when. The idea is to wait until the baby themselves become developmentally ready for solid foods, and this often around the 6 month mark. At first babies will sometimes just play with the food, especially as until they develop a 'pincer grip' they will grip the food in a fist. That's why it is important in the beginning to offer foods which are easy to grip, like finger sized pieces of vegetables, toast etc. It is said that babies who are baby led weaned are more likely to enjoy a wide range of foods, and can join in with family mealtimes! 

We want to follow the baby led weaning method - surely you can't use pouches for this? 

Yep, you can! The owners of Babease explained that the pouches can be mixed with other foods to make meals that can then be placed in front of your baby. For example, to make a quick and easy lunch for Oskar, we have used a pouch as a soup base, adding in some chunks of softened veggies, and put it in a bowl with some bread on the side that Oskar loves to dip in to the soup. We give Oskar the same meal as we are having, but found the pouches useful to replace parts of our meal that were too spicy, sugary or salty for Oskar. Like for example a pre-bought pasta sauce may be full of sugar and salt that we don't want him to have, so as we eat pasta and sauce he does too, but his "sauce" is a babease pouch instead. We have also used the pouches as toast toppers, in pinwheels, or just as a snack (hand him a pouch containing his beloved pumpkin and he will suck the whole thing dry!)

We have also used the pouches as a basis for healthy recipes, such muffins and dips. For example the carrot, squash and cauliflower made for a yummy snack mixed with oats, eggs, grated apple, mashed banana and a few spices. The result was soft, flapjack like and Oskar thought it was delicious! A very easy breakfast or middle of the afternoon snack. We also lived that inside the paper sleeve of each pouch is a recipe containing the same ingredients as the pouch, so it really does enforce the idea that these pouches are easy to use in a baby led weaning way!

With baby led weaning how do you know how much they are getting?

Honestly, it doesn't matter. At this stage, weaning isn't about consuming vast quantities of foods, it's about learning how to eat. Learning about food. What it feels like, tastes like, what to do with it. Milk is the main source of nutrition until age 1, so food is an added extra, it doesn't really matter how much food they are taking in  because the baby is still having mostly milk.

You have mentioned you eat a 100% vegetarian, largely vegan diet - will your baby be vegetarian? 

Yes. We do not eat meat for ethical reasons - we think it would be quite strange if we had that view, but then bought and cooked meat and fed it to our child! If our child/ren decide to eat meat when they are older, that's fine, as long as they realise how it is produced, but we will never buy or cook meat in our home. 
We have been met with various doubts over this - from a confused 'but don't babies need meat?' to family members laughing that they will feed Oskar meat, and one stating that we should feed Oskar meat until he is 16 and can decide for himself. 
We find this odd - why do people think they can decide that Oskar can't be vegetarian until he's older, but we can't decide that he's vegetarian now unless he decides otherwise when he's older? If we don't feed Oskar meat, and he does decide when he's older that he wants to eat meat, no harm done. 
However if you switch that, and we did feed him meat, then when he's older he decides to be vegetarian, it would be surely quite confusing to him that we deemed meat to be disgusting, wrong, and something we wouldn't consume, but felt it ok to feed it to him?

But is it ok for babies to eat the same as what you eat?

Yes! Apart from a few food such as honey, and foods containing too much salt, it is perfectly ok - as you can see from Oskar enjoying an English veggie breakfast, and avotoast!

Where foods may have a sauce that is too salty for example, this can be replaced using a pouch.

Well this is all well and good, but what does Oskar think? Well he loved them! It is the only time he has ever cries for more when it's all gone! So it's reassuring for us that he loves the pouches and we can be sure that what's in them is good quality.

So thank you Babease, for allowing us to sample your products, you have firm fans here!

Babease can be found on Twitter and Instagram @Babease and on their website where you can also find a list of stockists including Boots and Ocado.