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How to have a happy baby – according to science

happy baby boy

I really do think this depends on the personality types of both yourself and your partner. And, of course, there’s the possibility that your baby will take the personality type of a member of the extended family. Either way, I think it only took a few days for me to be able to tell what kind of temperment my little girl had. Yet, I do believe there’s a nurture vs nature issue here because as they grow older, babies are able to learn how to manage their emotions better and that could lead to them having more balanced emotions. According to research, though, it all starts during pregnancy.

Photo by Andre Adjahoe on Unsplash
  1. Minimize stress while you’re pregnant. Do all you can to stay calm, peaceful and above all, happy. Don’t underestimate the impact of your own stress levels on your baby. Also, be more aware of the things that cause you stress. Be more cautious of your environment and the people in it and be willing to reduce contact with any factors that cause you stress.
  2. Children 6 months old and even younger are able to distinguish between a peaceful and a tense situation and will therefore be able to tell when there’s any hostility between their parents. That’s why it helps to prepare as couples psychologically for how much things will change with a new baby in the house. Especially for first time parents. See my list here on vital topics of discussion to have pre-baby. As much as possible, resolve conflicts in a rational manner and very quickly to reduce the amount of tension in the home.
  3. Show empathy. Babies are human beings with emotions and those emotions will be a surprise to themselves sometimes. They won’t know how to handle emotions sometimes, hence tantrums. It helps them when you empathize with how they’re feeling because they learn that their feelings are valid and not the end of the world. You can show you empathize by mimicking their facial expressions and giving hugs and cuddles, for example. I firmly believe that a baby can’t be spoiled by cuddling or being picked up when they’re crying. It only serves to help them feel more secure and if crying is something that your baby seems to love to do, worry not. They’ll outgrow it. As anthropologist Melvin Konner said of people who don’t want to pick up crying babies for fear of spoiling them, “Babies grow out of their undesirable behaviors…It’s good to believe in the growth process, rather than you trying to control everything.”
  4. Breastfeed for as long as possible. Obviously, this is entirely up to you as you know your body best and may not have been able to start breastfeeding at all for biological or health reasons. However, if you started out and intend to continue for some time, then research says you might be giving your baby the tools to a happier existence. Breastfed babies enjoy that eye contact with their mums more often than bottle-fed babies and therefore are able to discern between different kinds of facial expressions earlier. This helps with their non-verbal communication and therefore they have the non-verbal tools with which to communicate their own emotions a lot earlier. This means that their needs are met more easily as they are able to communicate those needs non-verbally more easily. This does sound logical but of course there’ll be many a mother of bottle-fed babies who might argue that their little ones were able to communicate non-verbally just as early as any breastfed baby!
  5. Let them sleep. Now just writing that made me giggle a bit. Let them?! Come on! I wish my baby would sleep as much as I’d like her to. She’s a lighter sleeper than I am and that’s saying a lot. I frequently wish she was more like her father who could sleep through the roof being torn off our home! Well, science says if you let (still chuckling over here) your baby sleep as long as they want, they’ll be happier because they’ll be well rested, have the chance to develop properly and be in a better overall mood for it. This makes sense because it generally works that way for adults and certainly my baby has always been more cheerful immediately after her naps IF she wakes up on her own and is not rudely woken up by anything…but how many babies are truly getting a whole lot of sleep? Especially in the earlier months. And what is ‘enough’? That’s a post for another day.

Would you call your baby a happy baby? Did/have any of the above worked for you? And if not, what else have you tried to keep your baby in a cheerful mood all the time?

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The millennials’ conflict: Marriage, motherhood & careers

perfect happy family with woman doing and having it all

We want it all. In fact, some of us are encouraged to go for it all. Why not aim high? Aim for the husband, the babies and the top position in that company and all before you’re 35. There are women out there doing it. Why can’t you?

Can we all do it all?

It would seem that more and more, Western millenials want to know that we’re financially secure before we settle down and therefore also before we have children. Chasing the money tends to affect when and if we settle down unless we decide to aim instead to find life partners who are financially secure enough to take care of us so that money is never a worry. Interestingly, millenial men are also looking for women who can do it all – make money to help support the family and have as many children to carry on their legacy as they’d like.

Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

We know women do manage to do this but are all women capable of it? Might it be asking too much of some women? Despite battling with these questions, the majority of women largely still see marriage as a goal to be attained. It’s funny then that even if we do aim for marriage, a lot of females would choose to remain single and take care of themselves if we are wealthy enough to do so.

We’re all narcissists

Studies are blaming narcissism for this. We’re apparently the “GenMe” bunch. That’s difficult to argue with. In these social media’d out times, where you’re made to feel like your brand is more important than your soul, it’s hard for us to dedicate ourselves to anything that won’t bring us some form of instant gratification. You might have heard that marriage is hard work. Well, it’s true. It’s about two people and the average millennial may be too wrapped up in themselves to do the hard work that’s required to keep a marriage together. Narcissism could be to blame for the rate of divorce appearing to increase globally each year amongst us millennials. I don’t know about that explanation though. It might be a bit too simplistic.

Photo by Kev Costello on Unsplash

It can be a lot

Before you have children, you can think you have a concept of just how tough it can be; but you don’t. To mother and partner at the same time isn’t easy especially in the earlier years but throw in managing a career as well and it can start to feel like too much. Being a mummy on social media myself, I would say that a more honest narrative about motherhood is being pushed lately because I see more photos on IG, for example, of mothers in real life – bed hair all day, vomit on clothes and a less-than-tidy home are all being shown online. I appreciate photos like those because it’s important for younger females to see that #momlife can’t always be glamorous. Most of it isn’t.

Sometimes though, I’m not sure if I’m seeing these realistic images because I go looking for them. Maybe young women are still being presented with an effortless looking, picture perfect version in squares (IG) of successful women with their husbands and children. It’s concerning to think that any younger women are basing their decisions about when or if to settle down on the images that are pushed at them online. We should never be fooled into thinking it’s easy to “have it all”.

I know the fight is conventionally for women to have it all but apart from wondering whether we can do it all, I sometimes think, do we still really want to have it all?

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My baby’s 6 staple bath time products

Disclaimer: I may get a small commission for purchases made through links within this page.

We’ve come such a long way since my little girl’s first bath. She’s not as tiny and fragile as she used to be, thank God. She’s a lot bigger and can sit and stand without support. She’s still SUPER wriggly when she wants to be though, especially during shampoo time, which she hates. Over the nine months since she’s been born, we’ve figured out what products work best for her. Or at least which products don’t irritate her skin and are as natural as possible. She’s got parents who are both allergic to a wide variety of things and while I’m trusting that she’s managed to skip the allergy gene somehow, I’m not willing to test that just yet! A few of the products have changed since she was born but these have stayed the same:

Oilatum bath

She started out with the usual Johnson’s top to toe wash but a few weeks after, we switched to this. I’m not sure we had a specific reason why but she’s 9 months old now and we’re still using it! We’ve never had any problems.

baby bath product

HiPP Sensitiv Shampoo

We happened to be in Germany when she was five months old and I was excited to see the range of baby products on the shop shelves that would be different from what’s in the UK (I love doing that when I’m outside the country…pretty sure other people do that too! lol). I noticed the majority of their baby bath products were HiPP.

Vita Coco Coconut oil

I like the cute ones in the little tubs. 250ml. I get them at my local Holland & Barretts. I use them as a mini pre-poo for her hair. Mini because I’ll leave it in her hair for about an hour or less while she eats and before her bath. It just makes for an easier comb-through during the shampoo process.

Virgin olive oil

As far as I know, any old brand of virgin olive oil will do. I literally use a few drops of whichever brand happens to be in my kitchen at the time!

Child’s Farm baby moisturiser

This has a very light refreshing smell which I appreciate as strong smells irritate me. It’s also suitable for sensitive & eczema-prone skin so is unlikely to irritate yourself or your baby.

bepanthen and child's farm baby creams

Bepanthen

Honestly, I’d say this is the real star of the show. I’ve used it for since the day she was born not only as a nappy cream but also around her neck where she’s got so many folds and she’s never had a diaper rash. I really do think it’s the best nappy cream out there.

I do have one struggle that’s developed lately. She hates having any water in her face which makes shampooing (rinsing out) so difficult! No technique I’ve tried so far seems to work with her – I did say she’s very wriggly! Any tips on that? Has anything made shampooing an easier process with your baby?

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Top 5 Mums on YouTube

The Ellises – Youtube

I love YouTube and would rather watch videos than TV any day. I do watch more YouTube than telly, save for the news! It wouldn’t surprise you then that a lot of my mum-related research has led me to YouTube videos. As I’ve said before, I had lots of time on my hands during pregnancy to do research into a variety of mum and baby topics. I was already subscribed to many mums but I found a ton more. A TON! I won’t bore you with all of them though. These are my top five:

  • Hannah Maggs – Hannah’s family channel – The Michalaks – is how I discovered her. Their editing is a thing of beauty. If you’ve got an appreciation for excellently done editing and some down-to-earth, honest talk about parenting, occasional politics and friendships to name a few topics, then their channel is for you. Her own channel is more of a parenting and beauty one. It’s nice to see a “real” UK mom on YouTube. There are a lot of course but Hannah’s definitely one of them. Unless you consider being a YouTuber unreal 😀
  • ItsJudyslife – I’ve been watching Judy since before the birth of her first daughter! That’s almost ten years ago! It’s been incredible to watch her family grow with the twins. I admire them for keeping up with their daily vlogs for so long. That’s dedication. They deserve everything they’ve achieved for their hard work. I got to loving their channel years ago not only because of her daily pregnancy updates that were intriguing to me back then but also because of her great husband who pays attention to healthy eating and makes some pretty awesome smoothies!
  • Latoyaslife – This Toronto turned Atlanta vlogger has changed her content quite a bit from when I first found her channel online. It used to be rather drama-filled but now shows a fairly calm and currently pregnant LaToya with her large extended family featuring occasionally. She has a large but very tightly knit extended family who are always a joy to see and her own growing family are simply adorable. Start from her very first vlog where she found out she was preggers with her first, Samia.
  • TheEllises – Khadeen Ellis has such a beautiful family. As the only female, she does an awesome job of making juggling her marriage and three little boys look so easy! She also does a good job of making it clear that she’s not perfect, which is always refreshing in these inauthentic social media times. Herself and her husband Devale also have a podcast where they speak about various life related issues – check it out. They’re always funny to watch and listen to. One word I’d always use for them is “relatable”.
  • SisiYemmieTV – She’s the definition of down-to-earth. I love how clear and honest she is about everything. Sisi Yemmie is currently a mum of two, one of them a new baby, based in Nigeria. As a West African mum, I wish there were women like her on the Tube. West African women who show you what’s really going on in their daily lives without any airs or an unnecessary and often false appearance of opulence. If you’d like to get a glimpse of Lagos and a nice, normal family in Nigeria, you’ll enjoy her channel. She is a fantastic chef too and you can find some good recipes on her channel.

If you look any of them up for the first time and enjoy them, let me know below and I’ll share some more 🙂 Who are some of your favourite YouTube mums?

Sisi Yemmie – YouTube
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How to increase breastmilk production

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That first month of breastfeeding was the toughest time for me. Hourly feeds and backaches from constantly sitting up to feed were the least of my problems when a couple of weeks in, I became concerned that I wasn’t producing enough milk. My baby’s weight didn’t drop at all but various things made me start to suspect that she might like to have more to drink than she was. I may have been wrong but luckily, I had my mum, my health visitor and Dr. Google on hand to guide me on how to boost my supply!

These are the things that helped me to increase my milk supply and extra that I’ve only heard good things about. They still help me today as I don’t plan to fully wean my little one for another few months:

  • Drinking plenty of ANY fluids – my aunt, a midwife, said to me, “I hope you’re drinking a lot…a breastfeeding mum should be drinking all the time. Drink everything and anything!” She clarified, of course, that she didn’t mean sodas, coffee or alcohol 😀 but any and everything else. I certainly wasn’t doing that in the beginning. I suppose it really should go without saying but in the early days especially, I wasn’t focused enough on taking care of myself and if you’re breastfeeding and having the kinds of night sweats that I was, you’ll need more fluids than you’ve ever had in your life in order to give your baby both quality and quantity.
  • Breastfeed, breastfeed, breastfeed – just plough on. The more you do it, the easier it will get and the more your body will understand what your baby’s milk requirements are and supply more to suit those needs.
  • Pump – in the same way as the with breastfeeding, pumping will stimulate your body and alert it that there’s a need for more milk but be careful with this one – it can lead to overproduction of milk and therefore also mastitis if you can’t keep up with pumping enough to free your boobs of how much is produced.
  • Non-alcoholic beer – this is one that I discovered later on around month 5 but it always works so well for me. Bitburger (pictured below) is my favourite one but I unfortunately can’t find anything like it in the UK. I was spoilt for choice in Germany of course but in the UK, you can’t just walk into your local supermarket and find any non-alcoholic beer options. I found the Peroni brand and I’ve stuck to it even though it’s non-flavoured :-(. It tastes better than any of the unflavoured ones I’ve tried. A word of caution if you do go looking for non-alcoholic beer: there are trace amounts of alcoholic in some of those labelled “alcohol free” so if you really want no alcohol, get those clearly labelled “0.0%”.

Bitburger Radler Alkoholfrei 0.0%
  • Motherkind tea – I saw a definite difference in quantity when I drank this tea. I had always heard about it even before I got pregnant so I knew I’d try it. I initially didn’t like the taste because it was a bit…grassy lol but I got used to it and knowing that it was doing what I wanted it to do made me like the taste of it even more!
  • Corndough (koko [Ghana]/akamu [Nigeria]) – this made the biggest difference for me. It improves not just the quantity but also the quality of my milk as it very obviously thickens your milk while making it flow more than usual. It’s amazing. It’s lucky that I like the taste of it anyway or else I’d be forcing it down my throat. I get it from back home in Ghana but I know that in the UK, it’s available in most African shops. It’s also available online here.
  • Oatmeal porridge – now this is one that I can’t personally vouch for but have heard from people that it really works. I can’t tell that it made much of a difference for me but friends have said that it increased their milk quantity and quality as well. I’m sure different things work for different people.

Have you tried oats to increase your breastmilk supply and did it work for you? What else worked for you that’s not on this list?

food to increase milk supply