Friday, 21 December 2012

Keeping the mozzies away

The mosquitoes are out in force, especially when we were visiting the tropics. I don't like spraying Chubs with insect repellent, especially just before bed. Some things which work for us:
- using roll on insect repellent rather than spray makes it more contained and less likely for her to breathe it in. I'd rather get it on my hands than in her lungs.
- wipes. We found sime insect repellent -soaked wiped (like baby wipes) which made wiping down her arms and legs easier than spraying or rolling. They were pretty expensive though so we used them sparingly.
- in the evening before bed, we put her in a long sleeved romper (pictured) and then put her shoes over the top. It was so hot that she was sleeping in just a nappy, but we put this on while we were enjoying the evening oursite. No need to spray her for a short period of time or to wash the insect repellant off before bed. The shoes over the top looked a bit silly but kept the suit clean and dry - win!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Cloth nappies while actually travelling

As a follow up to the earlier post about travelling and nappies, we have used disposables every time on our actual travel days. The most we have travelled in one day is an 11 hour drive, and we have also spilt this drive over two days. We use mostly cloth and sposies at night and as spares, but using disposables on the actual travel days is so much easier. Being able to toss a wet or dirty nappy when flying means less to carry, and when driving it's one less thing in the car. I've also been worried about washing when travelling for more than one day. When staying away from home (especially in a caravan park) then soaking overnight in the machine and hanging out to dry on the next travel day is not going to work. Nappies aren't like clothes where you can save the laundry up for a week. The ease of the rare use of sposies like this is totally justified in my opinion. We also use sposies all day on the day before we travel (when leaving or when coming home) so that I don't have dirty nappies left at home needing to be washed, or travelling with a big bag of poo.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Cloth nappies (diapers) while travelling


We’ve been using MCNs since Chubs was a newborn, and have travelled several times with and without them. Here’s the decision making process that I think through when deciding to take them or not.


Trips where we didn’t take the MCNs and used disposables only

-          When Chubs was 14 weeks old we flew 800km to visit my in laws for 10 days. Dear Husband had some work at the time as well.

-          When Chubs was 5 months old we flew 1000 km in the other direction for a five week stay; also with Dear Husband’s work.


Trips where we have used mostly disposables and a few MCNs

-          When Chubs was 10 months old we drove and had two nights in an apartment at the beach (100 km)


Trips where we did what we do at home – ie mostly MCNs with disposables as spares and at night.

-          When Chubs was 18 months we drove 800km to visit my in laws for 10 days.

-          Shortly we will be going to a remote island for a week; I plan to take MCNs then.


So how do I decide what to take?

1.       Swimming

If we are somewhere where we will be swimming, the at least a few MCNs is a must. Since we use pocket MCNs, they readily transform into a swim nappy – just leave out the insert. Disposable swim nappies are expensive and wasteful and regular disposable nappies explode when the polymer crystals expand, spilling the crystals ev-ery-where.

If Chubs is in her clothes and an MCN (even with the insert) then it’s generally no worries for some impromptu water play. The MCN with the insert will sag, but it won’t explode with icky chemicals everywhere.

2.       Luggage

When going by air, then the MCNs may need to be left behind. Each time we have flown with Chubs we have been going to major cities where disposables are easily purchased. By the time you add a portacot, stroller, car seat and nappy bag to all your usual travel gear (keeping in mind that a lap child has no extra luggage allowance for her clothes) then fitting in a few days’ worth of MCNs might be too hard. Whenever we have gone away and taken MCNs we have been travelling by car.

If disposables can’t be easily purchased at your destination, then cloth is probably the way to go as reusable cloth will take up less room than single use disposables, especially if you are going for a week or more.

3.       Washing facilities

At home I have my MCN washing routine down pat, and that’s one of the things that makes using MCNs so easy. However, if the washing routine falls apart then it very quickly comes a disaster. One trip (when we were away for five weeks) we were in a serviced apartment with a combination washer dryer and no hanging space. Thank goodness I hadn’t taken the MCNs. The washer dryer was a disaster – it took over four hours to dry a half load and was too noisy to have on at night.

Recently we drove to visit my in laws and we were sleeping in their rumpus room; the laundry is a sectioned off part of that room. This meant that I couldn’t do what I normally do, ie run the nappies at night. It was all ok in the end, but it’s something else to consider.

Another factor is drying – if you plan to line dry, what will you do if it rains for days on end?

4.       Availability of more

When we head away for our remote-ish holiday, nappies will be available if we run out but they will be very expensive and possibly in short supply. I may not be able to get the brand or size that fits, they might be sold out that week and they will be over three times the regular price. I will be taking disposables for night time and spares, but the reusable MCNs will hopefully guard against having to buy more.

5.       Environmental impact

One of the main reasons that we use cloth is for environmental reasons. To head to a World Heritage Listed National Park and leave behind 50 disposable nappies which take hundreds of years to break down didn’t sit well with me.

6.       Ease of use

Our MCNs are pull ups, which is a huge help for a mobile toddler. Especially in summer, a standing up change underneath a dress is so easy. The disposables we use aren’t pull ups so we can’t do that.

7.       Aesthetics

The most trivial of all my points, but I do think that cloth looks much nicer under skirts and dresses than sposies.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Gingerbread House

As previously discussed, I'm not much of a baker AT ALL, but I was thinking that it might be nice to make a gingerbread house for Christmas. I thought that it might be a nice thing to do each Christmas, and I spent quite a long time looking at images to get ideas.
I originally planned to make the hose from scratch, however I have chickened out for my first try. I found too many horror stories about walls collapsing and house falling, and that was without considering the fact that I can't cook and it's very likely that I would burn it. We will be away for Christmas at a fairly remote location, so just popping down to the shop for more ingredients would take more 24 - 36 hours and about $150 extra expense.
Since that all sounds like too likely a disaster, I went with the kit; for $12 I got this one. I've never used one before, but hopefully this will be a nice first time.
Some people do one every year and make them spectacular and even themed - I would love to get to that stage down the track! So I am guilt-less-ly easing my toes into the metaphorical water this year -hopefully all will go well!

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Photos or no photos?

It's a hard decision for me as to if to post photos of our family on this blog, and on the internet in particular. It's something I think about a lot, but it's hard to decide.

I have erred on the side of 'no', since I'm not really comfortable with the idea of Chubs' image being freely available to anyone who has an internet connection. I'm also concerned about privacy. I wouldn't like someone to be able to know where we lived, or what our names were, or other identifing details. However, we are finding this increasingly hard to actually carry out.

I don't mind putting photos of Chubs up on Facebook - indeed I like it. All of my privacy settings are locked down, so only friends can see. However, it's not a simple as this. If anyone else is tagged in a photo, then all of their friends can see that photo. Chubs is in both my cover photo and my profile picture; and both of these are public. Where to draw the line? Allow photos of her, but not if anyone else is tagged? What about when friends put up photos of her, and their friends can see her? What if their privacy settings aren't as tight as mine?

There are more 'leaks' in the plan when it comes to interacting on Facebook. Because Chubs is in my profile pic, then her photo is available to anyone who looks at any other page that I have posted on. The simple solution to that is to not have her in my profile picture; but I like it. I have to decide if the privacy benefits justified the locked-down-ness.

There are more and more opportunities for Chubs' photo to be 'out there' - and out of my control. I could stop this, but I need to decide if it is worth avoiding opportunities for her because I'm precious about her photo. We had an absolutely beautiful photo taken of Chubs having a breastfeed, and I submitted it to a breastfeeeding calendar for consideration. I ummed and ahhhed for a long time - I didn't want the image to be out of my control (or that of those who I trust) and freely available, but it was a bea-utiful photo. I didn't want to let my fears overtake a wonderful opportunity for her.

What about daycare photos? They got individual shots and a group shot. The group shot included identifing information - Chub's first and surnames, her photo, and the name and photo of the centre that she attended, even which room she was in. Should I not have given permission for her to be in the photo? Like every parenting decision, it's a balance.

What about modelling? We said no to a modelling opportunity when Chubs was tiny, firstly because of the photo issue, and secondly because it was linked to modelling contracts with a modelling agency, and we weren't comfortable with agreeing to everything that they wanted, and the messages that we though that would send. However, another opportunity has come up. This time it is for a friend's business. I trust this friend, there is more control, there's less image/ modelling agency issues and I can't wait to see the cute photos that we will get of Chubs! I'm still not totally comfortable with her photos being available, but I don't think that it's worth missing the opportunity.

It's also important to remember that anyone can take photos of Chubs when we are out in public. I might not like it, but they can do it. Should I not let her go to birthday parties in case another parent snaps her in a pic with his child? Should I not take her to the park in case the same thing happens there? What about shopping centres? Yes, I worry about the privacy issues of her name potentially being linked with her address, date of birth or other identifing information. If someone was super computer savvy they could probably do this now; but someone could also follow us home from the shops, or steal my handbag, or break into the doctor's rooms and steal her file. Do these present a great risk?

So, what to do? I'm still not totally sure, but then a lot of parenting decisions are like that. I consented to daycare photos, I let other friends put up photos of her on Facebook and I said yes to the modelling for my friend's business. I will continue to keep Chubs off the blog and forums, since they are more public. I know it's not a perfect plan, but they rarely happen.

What about you? How do you approach photos of you child?

Sunday, 11 November 2012

The Slap

The Slap is a book by Christos Tsiolkas, and I have recently been rewatching the TV adapation on ABC1, and to be honest I'm not really sure what I think of it. I've got lots of thoughta and ideas an questions but certainly not a coherent viewpoint (or blog post - sorry).

The scenario is a barbeque with family and friends for Hector's 40th birthday party. A small child, Hugo, has poor behaviour. Everyone else at the party has a lot of issues, and the tension grows as the afternoon unfolds. The end result is that Hugo is slapped in the face by another party guest.

The show (and the book) is told in eight parts, from the point of view of eight characters. I don't want to go into a total recap, but if you're in Australia you can view them on iView.

I wanted to blog about this, but as I said above it's all a bit confusing to me and isn't very clear in my mind. A few thoughts about Rosie:

I can't really understand her. What are her motivations? Why does she does what she does?

After Hugo is slapped, she snatches him up and then shouts at Harry, the man who slapped Hugo. In a later episode, Harry comes to Rosie's house to apologise on the request of his wife. Rosie is furious at him. She appears to me to deliberately bait Harry - when he arrives she asks Hugo 'Do you remember this man Hugo?' I can't really articulate why this it bad, but it almost seems like Rosie is stirring up the situation to show Harry how bad it is (and therefore how bad he is, as the person who slapped Hugo), even if that means making things worse for Hugo. Hugo has been breastfeeding and is sitting Rosie's lap; as the apology meeting quickly spirals into disaster she shouts and swears at Harry across the table, and right into Hugo's ear. It seems strange to me that she would shout and swear in her son's face while trying to 'protect' him.

She does seem genuienly concerned for Hugo sometimes - when she sees that the pot is on the stove when visiting Rachael she knows that something bad has likely happened. She sets Hugo up at the table with a drawing to keep him busy, so that he doesn't see anything bad.

She seems obsessed, fixated on the court case - selfishly. For Rosie the court case and Harry's punishment become the enemy to pursue with a determination, passion and selfish fanatiscism. She tries to turn every conversation back to her and the court case. When she is shown support and friendship she snaps 'will you stop saying that?' because she didn't get her own way at the court case - much like a tantruming child.

Rosie seems to have many demons, but I can't seem to see through them. What are her motivations? Does she love Hugo because she loves him, or does she love him because she is pouring all of her emptiness and disappointments into being - or appearing - to be 'a good mother'. As Rachael says, 'at least Hugo will know that he was loved.' I can't help but wonder, is it all an act? If not all of it, then at least some of it?

Apparantly there is more information in the book; flashbacks to Rosie's childhood (I've not read the book). Perhaps this would make her easier to understand.

For all of her breastfeeding and talking about baby led weaning, I certainly don't think that Rosie is attachment parenting. AP is about being close to your child, intimatly knowing them and responding to their needs and that isn't what Rosie seems to be doing to me. Hugo is crying out for discipline, structure and consistency and that's not what he's getting, because Rosie is so blinded by her issues (manifesting as her persuit of Harry) that she can't see that he needs it; or if she can she doesn't have the strength to look for it.

I wanted to like her, I really, really did, but I just can't.

I've not seen any more; I missed the last episodes when it was last on. I will watch with reserved - interest. I'm still not sure if I'm liking it. It's uncomfortable viewing for sure - the tension is hard to watch. The acting is excellent.

There's another post in this where I want to discuss the breastfeeding, but that is for another day.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Baby bag tip

Today's tip is a Works For Me Wednesday one; that is, it works for us. The tip is to have two baby bags - one for daycare and one for home. Well, not exactly 'home', but one bag for when Chubs is out with us, and one for daycare.

I know that some people have one nappy bag for all the time - I know this because I see them in the lockers at daycare. For us, however, it works much better to have two.

There are several reasons for this. The daycare bag is filled with different things - pretty much just lots of nappies, a lunch box full of food and spare clothes.

The nappy bag for us, however, looks very different. We usually only go out for a few hours at a time and then come home, so I don't need a whole day's worth of nappies. I use small wet bag(s) which can fit one or two nappies, whereas I send larger ones to daycare which can hold five or six. Wipes are provided at daycare but not anywhere else so they are in the nappy bag; I also have books and toys, snacks, paracetemol and a comb. There's a change of cloths and a cardi in there too, and a change mat.

When Chubs was a newborn I found it easiest to repack the nappy bag at night so we were good to go in the morning. At some stage though (I'm not really sure when - perhaps when I went back to work?) I started to just repack in the morning - toss in two nappies, two wetbags and a snack and we're done. I try to keep an eye on when the wipes need replacing. I keep spares of everything in the car, too, in case I do forget anything.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Daycare packing list for toddler

One of my more frequent Google search term hits is 'daycare packing list', so I assume that this is something that people are looking for! The list has changed a bit as Chubs has grown - here's the list when she first started daycare at eight months, and another at 11 months.  
Having this list is very important to low stress mornings. I don't like to be rushed in the morning -it creates a set up for a bad day. Lunches are done the night before and all her clothes to wear for the week are set out on the weekend. Because we have this structure, I know that things will still happen as they should if I'm brain dead - like I am most mornings. We also leave with plenty of time so that if something does go wrong, there is wiggle room.
The biggest difference with the current lists (18 months) is that I no longer need to pump at work - woooooooohooooooooooo!!!! Not pumping at work (but still breastfeeding) is the best of both worlds - a million times easier for me during the day, but still all the nutritional, comfort and immune benefits for Chubs. With all the daycare germs that float around, she needs all the antibodies that she can get! This is perhaps one of the best things about breastfeeding a toddler - most of the hard work has been done already. For a while I was still sending a bottle of soy milk (since she won't drink cows' milk) but when Chubs stopped drinking that I stopped sending it :). Chubs used to eat breakfast at daycare but now she has that at home so I don't send it. 
Our daycare centre doesn't provide nappies (diapers) or most food. (They do provide fruit at morning tea.) Most of the parents send in a box of disposable nappies at a time so they don't need to be packed each day, but since we use cloth that doesn't apply to us.

Night before jobs

- Chubs' lunch. Usually a selection of - sandwich, cut up apple, baked beans, sultanas and corn puffs, blueberries, yoghurt, crackers and cheese

- Mummy lunch

Chubs' daycare bag
Night before

- Sheet bag – top sheet, bottom sheet, bunny rug, cuddle blankie. Goes on Tuesday, comes home on Friday and usually gets washed on the weekend. Chubs has a cuddle blankie which is just for daycare, so it stays in the bag.

- Drawstring with nappies and wetbag. I usually send Tuesday and Wednesday's nappies in on Tuesday, and then send more on Friday. I count for six per day )plus one wetbag per day) but she often doesn't use them

 - Spare clothes - Chubs often uses these so I send two sets. Usually a pair of shorts and a pair of leggings so that there is a choice for the carers depending on the weather, plus two shirts and a jumper. These only need repacking if they have been used. Having two sets also buys me some forgetting-wiggle-room.

- 3 disposable nappies - spares in the bottom of her bag in case she runs out of cloth. Wosrt case scenario, they have spare nappies at daycare so she wouldn't need to go bare.

Morning of- Lunchbox

Mummy work gear
Night before
- Lunchbox
- Book bag
- Anything else?

Morning of- Computer
- Keys + nametag
- Lunchbox
- Anything else?

Monday, 5 November 2012

Kilo of kindness 16 - 21

MamaBear3 has been sharing the love far and wide! She takes 16 - 21.

I have a few, i'm always helping others
*Donated my eggs to someone i didnt know,just wanted to help
*On donated the left over embryo's to help another couple
*called another mum aside in the SCN who was being treated unfairly and gave her the info and courage to call the patient rep.
*Drove an old lady home once-she had come to get her hair set and it started raining. I'll never forget how happy she was and made a big fuss,but to me it wasn't anything.
*fostered a pregnant dog,through a charity, which had 8 puppies then looked after them till they were 5 weeks old.The kids loved it!
*visited my mums friends son,who was in hospital everyday for 7 mths. He didnt have many friends and was 17. I used to read his food chart and surprise him with take away if i saw it was horrid.

Keep the acts of kindness give or recieved coming in in the comment!

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Getting toddler dressed tip

Mornings can be a bit crazy at our house. Some mornings I'm off to work and Chubs goes to daycare. We are on a tight timeframe to get up and out of the house in time to have a non-rushed drop off and for me to get school on time - we need to be out of the house by 7am. Other days I don't need to be out so early but mornings can still be a bit stressful. Chubs gets to a certain time where she starts to go stir crazy.We live in a small unit with no backyard, so we go out every day.

We do many things to make morning easier, especially work days. These include:

- Daycare packing list; packed the night before
- Lunchboxes packed the night before
- Clothes for Chubs set out weekly

I know that my photo taking skills are rubbish, sorry. Theoretically, every Sunday night I fold the week's clothes and put them away. This doesn't always happen, but it usually does. When I am putting the clothes away I check the weather forecast for the week and I put Chubs' clothes for each day into this hanger which I bought especially. I put her shoes in as well when it works, although she often wears the same shoes so this doesn't always work. I also put in her first nappy of the day so it's 'grab and go'. I sometimes put the same clothes from that week to save double handling (basket to hanging shelves means that I don't have to put the clothes in the drawers) but obviously she has more than five sets of clothes so I like to change it round a bit too.

Ideally, the hanger would be near her change table but that wasn't workable, so the hanging shelves are in the wardrobe on the other side of her room. If having to remember to grab her clothes from the other side of the room before she gets dressed, or needing to put her on the floor and on and grab them after taking off her night nappy is the biggest problem of my day, then I think things are going really well.

I am 'in charge' of the laundry in our house - Dear Husband gets other jobs like most of the cooking. I like that because I prefer laundry and with one person worrying about it I have a good picture in my mind about which clothes are where, what is clean or dirty, what is needed for upcoming events etc. The hanging shelves means that either Dear Husband or I can get Chubs ready in the morning without thinking about it - and not-thinking is exactly what we need to do in the mornings. I'm hoping that as she gets bigger that she can take over getting dressed herself and that having her clothes ready will help her to be more independent. We will wait and see what happens here.

I would have liked a seven shelf hanger but couldn't find one, so we just do weekend clothes on the day. And yes, I realise that Monday's clothes are still on the shelf - I didn't get to put the clothes away until Monday afternoon this week, so I skipped ahead to next week :)


Kilo of Kindness 10 - 15

The list keeps plugging away. I've been a bit slack with updating, but here's the next installment

10. Rachael  says: Hubby is away in Melbourne for 3 weeks (back on weekends) but a short trip to my sister-in-law's place on the weekend had her invite me round to dinner whilst he was away. I thought that was nice...a small act of kindness.

11. bubbychoochoo says: I was struggling to unload my trolley of groceries onto the checkout while trying to settle my 2mth old from crying & a woman in her 80's stopped doing her grocery shopping & came & unloaded my trolley for me, then went back to her shopping!

12. breastfeedingisnormal (Nina) has had a rough trot medically recently (to put it very, very mildy). She saids:
In the week before my last surgery I was pretty ill.
On Wednesday I needed a lift to have an emergency CT scan. My friend Karen collected me, waited while I had the scan, held me while I sobbed the bad news, drove me back to the doctor's office and waited while he found me an appointment with another surgeon, before driving me home. All on her only day off in the week.
On Friday, I had lunch with my friend Wendy and I noticed a bruised sort of feeling in my calf. She encouraged me to call my doctor, who scheduled an immediate ultrasound. Wendy drove me to the ultrasound, waited for the results, drove me to my doctor's office, waited while he wrote a script, waited while I tried to have it filled, waited while the practice nurse taught me to inject, drove me to two other pharmacies to find one that had my medicine and drove me home. After a noon lunch date, she left my place at 6pm and then thanked me for the opportunity to feel like she'd done something really useful to help.
That should get you close to your kilo all by itself, right.
13 and 14 come from meme
The other day I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to help an elderly gent who got stuck on his mobility scooter trying to go up a slight incline of loose gravel. Like a pp it wasn't any trouble at all to me and I felt great knowing I'd been able to help somebody who was stuck.

Kindnesses received, a small thing but still lovely. I was given a jumper to borrow while I was cold at a workshop. It was a kindness as the facilitator remembered I got cold from the last workshop I had attended with her and went out of her way to let me know she had brought a jumper I could borrow.
15 is from michnsam:
Random people, friend/ acquaintance and neighbour we've never spoken to offered to help DH to carry furniture and boxes to Ute and on to storage shed. How nice!
What a fantastic way to spread the word. More on the list - updated posts coming soon!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012


I do love cosleeping, I really, really do. However, sometimes it's not all a bed of roses... or even a bed...

Friday, 19 October 2012

Knit a square photos

Some of these have been posted before, and some of these are new. Many of these have the patterns written for them as part of the Knit A Square A Day project. If the idea of getting your needles clicking to help others sounds good, then get started! Knitting for charity can be wonderful in so many ways. For more information visit here or .



Red, white and blue

Scrap squares

Pretty pinks

Assorted squares

Squares for baby blanket

J/J/A wool squares

J/J/A squares

More June/ July/ August squares

June/ July/ August squares

Another suprise on my desk this morning!

Colourful squares

Green, blue and purple

It's hip to be square


Baby blanket

December challenge squares

December challege squares

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Rosette craft: tutorial

A dear friend of mine recently got married, and two weeks before that we had the Hen's night. We had six bridesmaids and they shared most of the work (including Rachael in particular :)  ) but the rosettes were my domain :)
These were for the Hen's night, obviously, but could easily be adapted for birthday parties or any other events.
Materials (makes 12):
- 2 pieces of craft felt in main colour
- 2 pieces of card in coordinating colour (you could use felt instead if desired)
- Printed circles with event name/ design
- 1 four meter roll of ribbon in main colour (will be some left over)
- 1 four meter roll of ribbon in coordinating colour (will be some left over)
- suitable glue (eg PVA or foam)
- stapler and staples
- scissors
- pencil
Step 1a:

Using something round (I used a tea cup) trace circles onto the background colour felt. 
Step 1b:
Start cutting!
Step 2:

Using a smaller cup or other round object, draw circles on the card. Again, you could use felt if you want. Get cutting!

Step 3:

Draw or find and print a logo or design for your event. You guessed it, get cutting! (... and yes, I realise that each rosette is one apostrophe short of a grammatically correct event. Don't worry, it bugged me all night.)

Step 4:
Not pictured

Cut both colours of ribbon into 30 cm lengths. It doesn't need to be perfect - a bit longer or shorter is ok.

Step 5:

Staple a piece of ribbon of each colour to the background felt. It should be about 2 - 3 cm from the edge of the disc.

Step 6:

Spread the glue on the background disk of felt, and then glue the cardboard disk on top. Finish off by gluing the design on top.

Step 7:

Put a safety pin through the top and you're all done!

These were for a one night event, so I didn't spend heaps of time finishing the edges of the ribbon, sewing a loop for the pin or anything like that. Mass production was my aim with the cutting, so the edges aren't as smooth as they could be, although it you are a scrapbooker (and I'm not) you could use those cool cuttie- out- punch things to speed things along and fancy them up a bit. I also wish that I had bought ribbon on a roll, not on a flat cart, since it had all the kinks in it.

The bride had a great night and so did everyone else. I hope that these rosettes might make an appearance at your event to make everyone feel special.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Happy World Milksharing Week

I wanted to have this post ready for September 24th - 30th, which is World Milksharing Week but sadly I didn't get it done in time. When I started this blog I said that it would be for my enjoyment, not something that I would stress over, so this post is late since life happened. So, without any further ado...

World Milksharing Week may well be something that you have never heard of before - either milk sharing, or the event. The goal of WMSW is to celebrate milksharing and to promote human milk as the biologically normal nourishment for babies and children.

There are a few things that I want to discuss about donor milk. As usual when I talk about infant feeding and the like, check out my usual disclaimer.

The World Health Organisation recommends four ways that infants should be fed, in priority order depending on the circumstances. Firstly they should be breastfed by their own mother, or if that is not possible then with their mother's own expressed milk. If that is not available, next in line is milk from another healthy lactating mother; either as directly (wet nurse/ cross nursing) or using EBM (donor milk or milk sharing). If milk from another mother isn't available, then infant formula is the next best option.

In our society, we very quickly jump from options 1 and 2, straight to option 4. Option 4 (formula) is still a very valid and necessary option, but I think that option 3 is too often passed over, or mothers don't even know that it exists.

Most people know stories of cross nursing/ wet nursing in the past, and few have a problem with that. It's actually a quite romantic notion in many people's minds. However, if someone feeds another woman's child these days, it's so controversial that it makes the news - seriously. (I'm not saying that what happened in this story was ok or not of that the reaction by the relevant people was or wasn't ok; I have linked to it to show the horror and outrage which often accompanies stories like this.)

Of course, there are many factors when it comes to deciding what is the best thing to do in a particular scenario, and there are as many different reasons for a baby receiving human milk from another mother as there are babies who do. Here's a selection of possible scenarios:

- Baby is left with a friend/ aunty/ babysitter who also happens to be lactating. Mother and babysitter agree beforehand that baby can/ should be breastfed by the babysitter; either in the event that s/he won't take a bottle or the mother may even not leave a bottle in the first place, knowing that human milk with may be safer than EBM (depending on the circumstances) is readily available

- Baby is left with a friend/ aunty/ babysitter who also happens to be lactating. Something happens - a bottle of EBM or formula gets dropped or leaks in a bag, the baby wakes up unexpectedly and won't resettle, baby is very upset and won't calm down or take a bottle, mother gets stuck in a traffic jam and can't get home in time. Since the baby has been left in the babysitter's care, she does what one would expect, and she acts as she sees fit in that circumstance. In the same way that she would put a bandaid on a skinned knee, or give a cuddle after a fright, or to give a time out for naughty behaviour, she decides that the best thing to do is to nurse the baby. She may have the opportunity to ask the mother if this is ok (if they hadn't discussed this before) but she may not. The mother may be uncontactable, or the babysitter may be too concerned with calming the hungry, screaming child in front of her (and probably her own child(ren) is/are there as well if she's lactating) that she acts in what is, in her opinion, the best interests of the child - as the mother who has left her child with her would expect her to do.

- Mother cannot reliably supply her own child with any/ enough human milk. This could be due to a 'production issue' such as Insufficient Glandular Tissue, complications from previous breast surgery or perhaps the mother is taking medications which are incompatible with breastfeeding, such as chemotherapy. (Side note - very few medications are incompatible with breastfeeding, but that's a for another post...) Perhaps she can't provide her child with enough milk due to circumstance - maybe she works away for weeks at a time and needs to pump and dump, maybe she is an exclusive expresser but despite all the best practise she can't keep up with her baby's(ies?) demands. Perhaps the breastfeeding parent is a transgender man who has had breast reduction surgery. In this circumstance, the family may decide that using donor milk (also called milk sharing) is the best option for their family.

Sometimes milks sharing is a one off, occasional thing involving small amounts of milk; sometimes it is ongoing, constant and the main or sole source of nutrition for the baby. Obviously the risks which surround milk sharing need to be considered and it would be foolish and irresponsible not to do so. However; when considering this risk it is important to compare the risks of milk sharing to the risks of formula feeding, the risks of bottle or other feeding device use, the risk of not breastfeeding.

There a few main things to be considered when it comes to risk. Here is an excellent peer reviewed article which addresses many of the key issues in great detail. It is particularly concerned with peer to peer milk sharing versus formula feeding.

To my understanding, milk sharing falls into pretty much three types

- Direct feeding eg cross nursing/ wet nursing

- Peer to peer milk sharing/ donor milk. A mother pumps breastmilk and gives it to another mother, who then feeds it to her baby usually with a bottle and/or a Supplemental Nursing System (SNS). This happens directly and milk is usually sourced/ donated through informal means - friends of friends, advertising on parenting forums/ magazines and/or through organisations such as Human Milk 4 Human Babies.

- More formal donations through milk banks, where mothers donate their milk which is usually then pasteurised and combined with the milk of other mothers. There is usually no contact between the donors and recipients.

Here are some of the arguments that are often expressed with concern to milk sharing.

Safety: How can you give your precious newborn child milk from some random that you met on the internet? How do you know that it's safe, that they don't have diseases or take drugs or that they have sterilised the pump and stored the milk properly?

This is generally the concern with peer to peer milk sharing - very few people seem to have problems with banked milk. Again, this is a topic for another post but many seem more prepared to trust a more formal, organised milk bank with policies and equipment and rules than another mother. As I said this is a whole different discussion, but it's prudent to point out here than banked milk is not available or suitable for many women.

Firstly, very few places have human milk banks. They are found in only a handful of capital cities, so if you don't live there, tough luck. Secondly, milk banks rightly prioritise their limited resources (financial and lactated) to those who need it most - sick and premmie babies. If your baby is healthy (or becomes healthy) then banked milk isn't available to you. Thirdly, banked milk is not suitable to all families. For example, Muslim women believe that it is their religous duty to provide their child with breastmilk and that babies who share milk from the same mother have a sibling bond. They therefore need to know where all of their donated milk has come from, as their baby has formed a sibling bond with that woman's (women's) children and therefore can't get married when they grow up. In a bank situation the milk from many different mothers is mixed together and the recipient cannot trace it back, so that would be unsuitable.

How can you give your precious newborn milk from some random you met on the internet? Perhaps I can look at this another way (and please keep in mind my usual disclaimer).

Instead of looking at formula baby food, perhaps we could look at it this way. Another animal, usually a cow, pumps its breastmilk (uddermilk?) and this milk is donated to/ given to/ stolen by someone else. The milk is taken from this mother (the cow) and is combined with the milk from lots of other mothers (cows). No information is kept about which individuals have contributed to this milk pool, and there is no way to know any of the health information about the donor (cow) mothers or about the age of their babies (calves). No information is known about how the milk is collected, stored and transported. After being transported it is highly processed, modified and supplemented. Very little information is available about these procedures. No information is available about all of the 'randoms' (that is, all of the people who have been involved with the process) to the families of the babies who use this milk. This process is all performed by for profit companies who place infant's health second to their own profits and are therefore professionally involved in misleading mothers. This cross species processed milk is then widely available for sale as one for two culturally normal options for the feeding of previous newborns.

When you consider formula in this light, does donor milk really look so strange? Donor milk involves a human mother willingly donating (not selling) human milk to another baby who, for whatever reason, is unable to receive his/her mother's own breastmilk exclusively. The mother(s) are (or become) known to the receiving family. They know where they live, the age of their babies, that their babies are human. Generally receiving mothers ask for blood tests and medical histories about the donor mother, as well as information about any medications, diet and alcohol consumption. They mothers generally discuss milk collection and storage procedures. Yes, the receiving families are trusting the honesty of the donor mothers that they are doing what they say - but remember that formula using families are trusting the formula companies for the same thing, which is by no means reliable. (Melamine anyone? Salespeople dressed up as nurses with quotas to fill? Goodnight milk?) I admit that when I first heard of donor milk from people you don't know, I was dubious about it; however, when you consider how much we don't know about formula (and consider acceptable) then I think it paints donor milk in another light.

Remember that all things in life are about assessing the risks of taking a particular form of action (or not taking it). I again link to this peer reviewed article which details a lot of the issues.

This is nutso extreme. Yes, breast is best but you gave it your best shot. Come on - you have IGT, you are one of the women who genuinely can't breastfeed, aren't you the type of person who is allowed to use formula totally guilt free? Isn't driving around to other women's houses to pick up milk and check blood test results a little extreme?

I would also like to point out something that a friend with IGT said to me. One of the biggest criticisms of those who talk about the risks of formula feeding or the benefits of breastfeeding is that this shouldn't be done because it makes mothers who can't or don't breastfeed 'feel guilty'. However, the marginalisation of mothers who choose to use donor milk and the scaremongering around the risks donor milk are extreme and in my opinion shameful.

Again, 'extreme' is a relative position. Feeding your baby purchased, highly processed milk of another species when there is same-species milk available may be considered 'nutso extreme' too.

It has been with mixed emotions that I have noticed more media coverage about donor milk, particularly peer to peer milk sharing. Firstly, the coverage has in general been pretty unimpressive and full of scaremongering. However, the fact that these articles are finding their way into mainstream tabloid newspapers itself seems like a good step to me, because it is normalising the use of human milk.

I also want to thank three groups of people here. Firstly, I would like to thank the mothers who willingly donate their milk to other precious children who need it. Secondly, I would like to thank those who are advocating for milk sharing, and thirdly I would like to thank all those who support the donors and advocates.

I encourage mothers and families to be aware and informed of the risks and benefits of their chosen way of feeding and how it relates to their particular circumstances, and the risks and benefits of avoiding certain ways of feeding.

Yay for milk!


Saturday, 6 October 2012

Simple toddler dress -free tutorial

This too cute dress is very easy to make, since we shortcut a bit with the t shirt!


- Small amount of fabric - 1/2 metre if getting it cut with plently left over, or a fat quarter would be enough too.
- T shirt (I used a size two)
- Thread
- Measuring tape
- Sewing machine
- Overlocker optional.

There are a few modifications that I would make next time, but otherwise it worked well.


Step 1:

To start with measure the bottom of the t shirt. The fabric skirt will be twice as long, so multiply this number by four. (It would be really bad if you were a maths teacher, and you only multiplied this number by two, and cut the fabric half as long as it would have been.) The yellow shirt that I used was 31 cm wide, so my fabric should have been 124cm long plus a little bit more for seams (this is not an exact project, so a bit bigger or smaller is ok.)

Step 2:

Cut the fabric as wide as you need it (four times the width of the shirt) and as long as you want it. I cut it 20cm + seam allowance, which was probably too much. (I put a generous hem on it and will probably take it up a bit more.

Don't cut it in two pieces like I did accidentally. Luckily it was a forgiving fabric and I ws able to stitch it back together. If you were cutting from a fat quarter (rather than 112cm wide fabric cut by the metre) then you may need to stitch the two pieces together anyway.

Step 3:

With right sides together pin then stitch the fabric into one long loop. I used the overlocker, but you could just use a regular sewing machine. You should now have one long loop, twice the width of your shirt.

Step 4:

Sort out the edges of the loop. I put a rolled hem for the bottom (which I ended up changing) and then just overlocked the top edge so it wouldn't be raw.

Step 5 (not pictured):
Mark with a dressmaker's pencil or similar four evenly spaced marks on the loop. That is, put a mark where you want the two sides to sit and the front centre and back centre. This is to make sure that your gather is even (or even-ish)

Step 6:

Set your sewing machine to very large, loose stitches, about 3cm from the top edge. Stitch all the way around the loop. This thread will be removed later so no need to fuss about colour matching or being super straight and perfect. Do not tie off at the beginning or the end.

Step 7:

Pull the thread through so that the skirt gathers up. You want to make the skirt about half it's size; if in doubt go smaller since it's easier to let it out than it is to gather it in. If you do need to gather it in again, pull on the stitching to tighten it up.

Step 8:

Pin the skirt to the shirt. The skirt should be upside down an wrong side out; the shirt should be right side out. To make sure that you have an even gather, only use four pins initially - pin the marks from Step 5 to the side seams and front and back centre of the shirt. For a toddler sized dress, this will be enough pins.

In hindsight, I wish that I had cut the hem off the shirt, or sewn the skirt above it. I may yet go back and fix this, but I won't get another sewing day for months so I wanted to post this before then!

Step 7:

Stitch the skirt to the shirt, smoothing down the gather as you go. You may need to adjust the gather; be guided by the four pins, and estimate an even gather between every two pins.

I'm not sure how this would go using an overlocker; I will try that next. If you did do this, then you could skip overlocking the top of the skirt in Step 4.

When you have finished sewing the skirt to the shirt, remove the gather thread.

Final steps:

Turn right side out and have a look at the dress. I ended up taking the dress up with a 1.5 inch hem. Since I did the rolled hem underneath, I'm hoping that next year when Chubs is taller I can just rip out the extra hem and I won't need to re-hem underneath.

I'm still not happy with the hem join here. Also keep in mind that I haven't ironed it. I haven't really decided what to do, so I will keep you posted. Chubs is wearing this dress to a birthday party at the playground tomorrow, so that should give it a good 'test run' too.

Final final step: Find a too-cute toddler to wear it!

I hope this tutorial has been useful for you; I plan to update this when I've had a chance to make a few more and iron out the kinks. (Get it, since I didn't iron... oh well.) Please let me know what you think in the comments!

Linked and linked

Sunday, 9 September 2012

A Kilo of Kindness: Update 4 - 9

Some more things to update the Kilo of Kindness list.

4. 3LWs said: Dropping off 3 meals, bread, milk, chocolate biscuits and presents after I had DS2?
Surely those count, they made us feel loved!!
5. Mooki said: after I had DS the forum girls arranged homecooked meals to be delivered for the week,we did the same for nightowl and will be doing the same for Loli and Andy too

6. NH said: I think I could nearly fill your kilo! People are truly wonderful. I will work on a list! NH also got send a little package of goodies for her family and for her daughter when she wasn't well.

7. AP said: I had severe anxiety this week. I had friends drop over food and take my son out so I could sleep. I also received messages of support from some lovely forumites. I feel privileged to be a part of this community.

I will think of an act of kindness that I can return to the world.

I really think that most people on the world are capable of massive kindness when required.

8. and 9.Chubs and I have both been sick, and my sister has helped out with some extra babysitting. Thanks Aunty K!

Please keep your kindness ideas coming in - let me know by leaving a comment here (or on any post) or by emailing a_kilo_of_kindness at live dot com dot au . I would love to attribute names/ usernames but I'm happy to leave it as anonymous if you would like.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Plain packaging for formula?

Before I start this post proper, I would like to start this post with what I usually say when I talk about formula advertising. This is in no way, at all, in any way, a critism of how parents feed their children.

Yes, I'm a big breastfeeding fan, however, how someone else chooses to feed his/ her child is not my concern. Yes, I think that breastfeeding (or not) has public health implications, but so do many other things. Someone may write a blog post explaining why exercising regularly is great for the health of your family, and what the risks of not exercising are. Someone else may tell me about their experiences with in home/ family day care, and about how it meets the needs of small children better than other forms of care. Someone else may write a blog post about how car manufacturers encourage dangerous driving by making speeding look attractive, which may encourage reckless driving behaviour. None of these things mean that I am a bad person because I don't go to the gym, I send my daughter to a daycare centre and I have a red car, nor do I think that that is what these hypothetical posts intended.

This post is not several things too. It is not anti formula. It is not passing judgment on how someone feeds their child, it is not meant to be advice, it is not 'telling off' formula feeders. Kick me out of the "yay boobies" club if needed, but I don't think that using formula is something which demands a defence or explanation to random strangers or society at large.

This post is several things - it is a brief commentary on unethical advertising, it is an attempt to raise awareness about these tactics and it is an act of advocacy. With this post, perhaps one more seed of change will be sown. It may take many years, probably decades, but perhaps this post can be one tiny part - though a part none the less - of this change.

Now, for the post proper...

Recently a landmark decision was made in the Australian High Court which is of international significance. (Before I go on, I am in no way a legal expert beyond a fondness for big words, so please forgive my lack of understanding of detail and feel free to correct me if required.) The Australian Government introduced legislation which would force cigarette packets to have plain packaging. Plain packets, no logos or pictures (except for the graphic warning label) or colours or fonts - just a plain packet with the brand name printed and the information about the type and number of cigarettes and so on. It is my understanding (and again, my legalese is very minimal) that the tobacco companies fought against this legislation on the basis that it infringed on their intellectual property rights and that such legislation was not permitted under the constitution.

The good part? The tobacco companies lost. The best part? They had to pay the Government's legal costs, too.

It got me thinking about unethical advertising, and in particular about how similar the sneaky techniques of tobacco companies are to formula companies.

Do you remember cigarette ads like these?


Nope, me either. That is, I remember seeing them in books and blog posts, but as items relegated to the dark ages of pop culture history. I think how amusing it is that cigarettes - perhaps the worst health invention ever - were being advertised as healthy. The worst aspect of the health issue is the respiratory system, and that's the very thing that the advertisments were saying how great cigarettes are - smooth on the throat. Throw in some puffed up professional expert endorsements (like physicians and scientists) and a good drag of pseudo-science and you have an addictive and attractive advertising campaign.

At least, I think it's amusing, until I remember that this actually happened to real, actual people. It's not so amusing, then. It still seems far fetched, though. As a child of the 80s I can't imagine that people actually believed the ads that said that cigarettes were healthy.

Of course, I realise that times change. The high court decision about the tobacco advertising got me thinking - in fifty years time, will the idea that formula was marketed as a health product seem unbelievable? I hope so.

When I was a child the idea that cigarettes were health was long gone of course, although cigarette advertising wasn't. I can't remember ever seeing any cigarette ads on TV, but I remember seeing lots of logos on billboards and lots of sports sponsors. I recall the Windfield Cup and logos adorning atheltes and sporting fields alike. I saw a story on TV about a couple (I think - I was small and it was a long time ago) who ran an informal coast guard service or something; paid for by advertising 'Winfield' in glorious red and white on the side of the boat. The couple were concerned that the (then) soon to be introduced laws banning cigarette advertising would mean that they would lose their funding for this community service. There was an advertising campaign a few years ago against plain packaging - poor, hard working corner store owners couldn't afford to have reduced (cigarette) sales so we should get plain packaging.

None the less, cigarette ads were banned, and now we have this landmark plain packaging. I think it's a huge step in the right direction. If one of the claims against plain packaging "it won't work so why do it" was true, then why were the tobacco companies so worried that they went to the extreme cost of mounting a high court claim? If they weren't really, really worried, then why bother? Now, back to formula. Some would suggested that likening formula advertising to tobacco advertising is ove the top, but I don't think so. The issues of advertising is even more of an issue with formula - formula is a legimate product which is very much needed. Yes, only by a small number of people in a small number of circumstances, but needed none the less. One could reasonably argue that cigarettes could or should be banned completely; not so for formula. As even the rigid breastfeeding supports will claim; when a baby is hungry, he needs to be fed. When the first three options (breastfeeding, expressed milk from mother, expressed milk from another mother) are not available/ practical/ possible, then formula is essential, life saving and vital. The amount of formula sold is obviously well above the amount that would be needed to meet those cases, and I believe that unethical advertising has a lot to do with that. The WHO Code states that no advertising should occur to parents or the general public, including information services such as baby clubs. However, despite Australia being a signatory much of the Code is not enforced under Australian law. A great deal of advertising also sneaks in as permitted through the gaping wide loophole that is toddler formula. Everywhere these days, the 'health benefits' of formula are advertised. The token 'breast is best, consult a health professional' is there - but not on the toddler formula, since it doesn't have to be. Some pseudo-science and a few expert endorsements and it's like we're looking at a 50s cigarette ad. "NAN Pro 3 with Bifidus BL is also sucrose free which is great news for little teeth!" here Similac® Advance®
Give your baby complete nutrition for the first year
Similac Advance has EarlyShield® and is designed to support your baby’s developing immune system, brain and eyes, and strong bones. here Aptamil® Gold+ 1 Infant Formula nutritionally supports the developing immune system. A well-supported immune system is important for your baby’s growth and development. here
"protect" "premium" "gold"
"Gold +" "premium" "Immunocare"
What is ImmunocareTM? Well, I've got no idea. It's trademarked, and it comes on a shiny gold shield, subconsciously protecting my child from all those nasty daycare germs, but how it actually works or what's in it? No idea. Breastfeeding support the child's immune system by helping the child to build passive immunity to diseases that the mother has come in contact with when the mother's antibodies pass in her milk into the baby. Stuffed it I know what ImmunocareTM does."Nutritionally supports the immune system" - so, it's about nutrition, not the immune system at all. Hmmm...
The High Court decision got me thinking about plain packaging formula. Of course, all formula advertising would need to be banned first (including retailers and toddler milk) - and it would take much, much greater legal minds than mine to tell me if the High Court decision could set a precedent in any way for a plain packaging formula push.
Is it too much to hope that the immune-caring benefit of formula eventually goes the way of cigarettes which soothe your cough? The health of our future depends on it.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...