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maternity & infant



SPRING FASHION For you & your little ones


9 772009 193014


From first days to weaning

HOLIDAY FUN Surviving the school holidays

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CHOOSING CHILDCARE CRÈCHE, CHILDMINDER OR AU PAIR? HEALTH SPECIAL Looking after your health this season 19/02/2016 14:52

Ireland’s most watched daytime show Crammed full of the latest lifestyle and showbiz news, the Today team of experts will be giving you at home, practical tips every day. Join Maura Derrane and Daithi Ó Sé Monday to Friday at 4:10pm.

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On the Cover


50 53 64 69

FEEDING SPECIAL Support is essential if you’re planning to breastfeed – or if you decide to bottle feed, you must make sure you follow the safety guidelines. Here’s all you need to know about feeding your newborn. CHOOSING CHILDCARE Crèche, childminder or au pair? We talk to four mums who tell us their reasons for choosing the type of childcare they use. HOLIDAY FUN Easter holidays are three weeks long this year, folks! Here’s how to navigate the inevitable cries of “I’m bored…” HOW TO BE A SUPER PARENT! Want to be one of those parents who makes having children look effortless? The secret is in good organisation – oh, and a few little insider tips… SPRING HEALTH Introducing our BRAND-NEW seasonal health section, full of expert advice, handy how to’s and great health tips. This is your guide to health this spring.

29 Features


30 Style

24 28 67

MATERNITY From dressing like a princess to stealing Anne Hathaway’s pregnancy style, we have all the best maternity pieces here. BABY & CHILD That all-important “first outfit”, stylish overalls for little ones and stealing Harper Beckham’s casual style, this is your guide to dressing your little ones this season! YOU Lounge around in style with the latest trend.



Win! 79


BURNING TOPIC: CHOOSING YOUR BABY’S GENDER It’s possible to choose your baby’s gender through IVF – but legislation is coming in to ban it in non-urgent situations. Should you be able to choose your baby’s gender? Why not? PRODUCT GUIDE: BREAST PUMPS Continuing our new series of practical guides to some of the big purchases you’ll make as prospective parents, we take a look at breast pumps and choose our favourite buys. DR PIXIE’S GUIDE TO WEANING Dr Pixie McKenna takes us through the three stages of weaning your little one onto solids.

Register your name to be in a draw to win a Baby Elegance Beep Twist travel system. Even better, every entrant will get a FREE annual subscription to maternity & infant digital!

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Contents Opinion

17 21 22


39 80


44 47

PREGNANCY EATING “RULES” Do you really have to avoid the deli counter for nine months? And what about runny eggs? ANDREA MARA gets to the truth behind those pregnancy eating “rules”. BABYMOONS Is a babymoon really essential or just another excuse for a holiday? Rachel Murray looks at exactly what a babymoon can do for your relationship. ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT… TUMMY TIME Is tummy time really essential? What if your baby HATES it? This is your no-nonsense guide to encouraging tummy time in your little one.

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DRAMATHERAPY Dramatherapy is an excellent way to deal with anxieties around pregnancy and motherhood – here’s what you need to know. GETTING FIT WITH TODDLERS Time to get fit and healthy – with toddler in tow! Encourage a love of physical sports in your little one with these handy tips. GREEN PARENTING Taking care of our environment is hugely important too, and it’s never too early to teach your little ones about re-using, recycling and generally being green.


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A DOCTOR’S PERSPECTIVE Introducing our newest columnist, Dr Sinead Beirne, who talks about why antibiotics are not always the right treatment for your little one’s ailment. MUMMY MY WAY One reader tells us her experience of becoming a mum while living far away from her family. DAD’S DIARY Nick Wilkinson’s little girl has been sent to the principal’s office – but why? THE BREAST ADVICE Breastfeeding advisor Cliodna Gilroy on how to cope with people’s opinions about your decision to breastfeed. BLOG WE LOG What made us laugh or cry in blogland this month


M&I ONLINE TOP TEN What’s on our shopping list this season. NEWS All the latest news, reviews and products. ANNABEL KARMEL Treats to make with your little one STORE DIRECTORY WIN A FIVE-STAR FAMILY BREAK IN THE HERITAGE KILLENARD! This fabulous prize is the perfect treat for all the family! DIRECTORY OF USEFUL CONTACTS

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Y A ! W A ND A s e h c A , r e v e F e v a e L d n i h e b s n & Pai








100 mg/5 ml ORAL SUSPENSION.

Sugar Free and Colour Free! CHILDREN 3 MONTHS TO 12 YEARS (>5KG)

MI Spring 2016_Ad Template.indd 5 1 238852_1C_Buplex_MALS_MI.indd

Ask your pharmacist for advice. Buplex Junior contains Ibuprofen. Read the leaflet carefully. Date of Preparation: December 2015. FADGP-144-01.

19/02/2016 18/02/2016 14:59 12:41


Welcome I’m so proud to present to you the results of a lot of hard work over the last few months. maternity & infant has undergone a transformation for 2016, and is now available through GP surgeries in Ireland as well as through the usual newsstands. We’ve tried to keep the core values of maternity & infant intact – great advice from experts and fellow parents, topical features and all the best products and fashion for pregnancy and beyond – while tweaking some of the content to make the magazine relevant and useful to our new, expanded audience. So whether you’re a seasoned reader or picking this up for the first time, we hope you enjoy the read. Even better, log on to our busy website,, for your daily updates and 24/7 advice, and get talking to fellow mums through our Facebook page, This is our spring issue, and we hope that this will help you navigate your way through the season. Turn to p69 for our new Seasonal Health Guide, which


combines our expert advice columns with some essential health advice for springtime ailments for both you and your little ones. This issue we also introduce our “feeding special”, from p32, which looks at that allimportant decision that every parent faces: how to feed your new baby. We also look at the different types of breast pumps on the market, and Dr Pixie McKenna talks us through the three stages of weaning. Continue reading over on our website where we will be publishing weekly features on all aspects of feeding babies and toddlers. Elsewhere we have informative features on choosing your method of childcare (p50), keeping your junior and senior infants occupied during the three-week Easter holidays, and of course all the new season fashion (p23-30). Enjoy the issue!

Penny Gray

Editor: Penny Gray Editorial Assistant: Rachel Murray Intern: Emily Crowley Editorial Manager: Mary Connaughton Creative Director: Jane Matthews Design: Jennifer Reid Photography & Illustrations: Getty Images, Thinkstock Production Manager: Mary Connaughton Sales Director: Paul Clemenson Email or write to maternity & infant, Ashville Media, Old Stone Building, Blackhall Green, Dublin 7; Tel: (01) 432 2200; Web: All rights reserved. Every care has been taken to ensure that the information contained in this magazine is accurate. The publishers cannot, however, accept responsibility for errors or omissions. Reproduction by any means in whole or in part without the permission of the publisher is prohibited. © Ashville Media Group 2014. All discounts, promotions and competitions contained in this magazine are run independently of maternity & infant. The promoter/advertiser is responsible for honouring the prize. ISSN 2009 1931

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Both Danny, 5, and Ellie, 3, love books – this beautiful publication (look for Book 2 as well) is in aid of Laura Lynn too, so we’re having fun while supporting a great charity., €5 each

I had these very ones for Danny when he was a baby – wonder do they make them for five year olds? And would he kill me if I made him wear them? The Little White Company, €45

I’m a big fan of crafts for children and letting them go nuts with paper and glue. This 1,000-piee set will keep them going for ages (and quiet, hopefully)! Argos, €14.99

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We’re still in awe the kids have a whole three weeks off this Easter. Seriously, are they ever in school? It’s practically a mini summer holiday. Anyway, don’t worry because we have you covered; our website is updated weekly with family events, indoor games, outdoor games, hotel offers, and Easter camps. Search for our post on car games to keep the kids entertained, it’s packed full of really great ideas.


Watch out


We’ll be back on RTÉ’s Today Show with Maura & Dáithí throughout the spring, where we’ll be discussing our 2015 Boots maternity & infant Award winners and announcing how you can get involved in this year’s awards. Play your part in finding the best products and services in Ireland as voted, tested and approved by parents, for parents.

@Gaetano De Pasquale Do you ever wake up your baby while they’re sleeping because you miss them? #honestmotherhood #momlife #momproblems @Cassandra Ray  Caught myself playing peeka-boo... with our dog. I think it’s time for me to go to bed #honestmotherhood

PREGNANCY is updated with new competitions every week. We’ll also have seven days of huge giveaways when the Boots maternity & infant Awards 2016 launch in March! You can enter through our Facebook, Twitter, and by signing up to our weekly ezine. competitions



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If you are expecting, is your one-stop-shop for all the latest pregnancy trends, advice, maternity style and all those embarrassing pregnancy questions you don’t want to ask out loud, we’ve got the answer! https:// pregnancy-and-birth


If you have a query you would like other parents’ opinions on, go to All questions are posted anonymously and we always get a great response and helpful suggestions from all of our lovely Facebook followers.

@mary hayes When you drop your child off at daycare with one shoe, and you’re just SURE you left the house with two #honestmotherhood #sendmorecoffee @Jessica Avery My day: spilled coffee, temper tantrum, nap, broken phone, Dad visit, tyrant refusing dinner, ER trip. #honestmotherhood #notglamourous @Carrie Sunday My kid is screaming in her crib because it’s bedtime. Again. I want to hide. #honestmotherhood @Dana B. Myers  So wrapped up in #mommy stress you can barely breathe? Step away, even if it’s for just a moment! #momtips #honestmotherhood

19/02/2016 14:21





d e t n a Mo s t W


Here’s what’s on our shopping list this spring…

‘APPY FEEDING MyMedela is a brand-new app from the breast-pump manufacturers offering great support to breastfeeding mums. Available on iTunes, the app enables parents to keep track of daily feeds and pumping sessions including which breast baby feeds from, the duration of each feed, the amount of breastmilk expressed and more. Mums can also track their baby’s key development including nappies, sleep patterns and everyday activities.

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FAB FLASK Keeping kids’ food hot or cold when on the go or in school is always a challenge, which is why we love the new Mummy Cooks food flask, €15.99, which holds 300ml and is designed to keep food hot or cold for up


We’re gearing up for the Boots maternity & infant Awards 2016, which are launching at the start of March. Log on to www.

to six hours. Available through if you have an innovative product you’d like to enter, if you want to nominate your local crèche or if you’d like to put forward your story about a person who has gone far beyond the call of duty to help you in your parenting journey. Get involved today!

BABY ROYALTY We’re big fans of celebrity maternity brand Seraphine here at maternity & infant, and now your tot can be dressed in style too with their new babywear range, which features Princess Diana’s pastel tartan. These luxury baby clothes are made with wool and cashmere from Scotland, and 12 per cent of the price goes to charity The Diana Award, which aims to empower young people. Buy online at www.


JUST IPEACHY iCandy has long been a favourite brand of ours, and we couldn’t be more in love with the new version of their iconic Peach travel system. At €897, it’s not the cheapest, but it holds your child from birth to a marketleading 25kg, is compatible with multiple carseat manufacturers including MaxiCosi, and is easily converted into a double. See eire. for more.

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PRETTY BLUSH High on our Mother’s Day wish list is the Gwen Stefani Blush Set, €42, from Urban Decay. Containing six versatile shades of blush, bronzer and highlighter, this limited-edition palette gives you perfect cheekbones in seconds. No one will know you’ve been up all night with a crying tot!

7 TRAVEL LIGHT We do love our travel systems but a stroller you can throw into the boot is pretty much an essential at this time of the year. The Nanu Stroller, €79.95, from Mothercare is fully adjustable, suitable from birth and features an umbrella-style fold for easy storage. This Teal version brightens up even the dullest day too.



Check out these two beautiful

books by Mary Shiel about Piper’s Pet Shop, each containing two great stories. Illustrated by Adrian O’Reilly, these books will make any book-loving child happy. Even better 100 per cent of the profit from the books goes to LauraLynn to care for very sick children across Ireland. Each book costs €5, and is available from

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SANITY SAVER Infacol is quite simply one of our hero parenting products. It’s easy to give to even the squirmiest of babies, effective and one bottle lasts a long time! And when you’re in the midst of colic hell (turn to p11 for ideas on coping), this is quite simply a godsend. Available from supermarkets and pharmacies.


CHOCOLATE HEAVEN Lazy weekends are just made for afternoon tea, and one of the best we’ve found is the Tumbling Through Truffles chocolate-focused afternoon tea in Wilde’s, the innovative and stylish restaurant at The Lodge at Ashford Castle. The highlight is the dramatic chocolate bomb, broken open at the table to reveal a secret stash of sweets! This sweet treat costs €17.50 per person with hot chocolate or your choice of tea. Or go for a two-night Chocolate Experience package including afternoon tea and dinner one night, from €225 per room per night.

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Sudocrem has been trusted and loved by generations of mums for soothing and healing nappy rash, simply because it works!

When it comes to your baby, only the best will do. That’s why mums have been trusting Sudocrem to treat, heal and soothe their baby’s nappy rash for 85 years. And with a range of sizes now available, including the handy tube for handbags or nappy bags, it’s easier than ever to make sure you have Sudocrem on hand for every nappy change.

Nappy rash commonly affects babies at some stage during their first two years of life, but with a good skincare routine, any discomfort can be minimised. Try these tips from Sudocrem:


Change your baby’s nappy frequently


Go nappy-free for as long as possible

Let your baby go without a nappy for as long as possible during the day or night, as fresh air will help heal the skin.


Apply Sudocrem Antiseptic Healing Cream to the affected area at every nappy change to soothe and heal the skin. If symptoms persist, talk to your GP or healthcare professional for advice.



Use cotton wool or a soft cloth to clean your baby’s bottom between changes. Dab the area with plain water and avoid harsh soaps.

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Sudocrem Antiseptic Healing Cream can be used for a number of different common skin complaints, including cuts and grazes, eczema, acne and nappy rash. It is available in pharmacies and supermarkets nationwide in a range of handy sizes

Use Sudocrem frequently

Nappy rash occurs when your baby’s delicate skin comes into contact with wee and poo, so changing the nappy as soon as possible after it is soiled can lower the risk of your baby getting nappy rash.

Gently clean the area


Prevention is key

Look for new Sudocrem Care & Protect, now available in Tesco and Boots stores, which can be applied at every nappy change to help prevent nappy rash from occurring in the first place.

FADGP-150-01. Date of preparation February 2016. Always read the label. Ref: Merrill L. Prevention, Treatment and Parent Education for Diaper Dermatitis, Nursing for Women’s Health 2015 Aug-Sep;19(4):326-336

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BEAUTIFUL DAFFODILS Is there any other flower that can make you instantly happy after a long winter? ST PATRICK’S DAY Use the kids as an excuse to


embrace the Parade this year. EASTER


Chocolatey goodness, and clearly you’re helping your kids by eating their eggs... ALL THOSE BANK HOLIDAYS We’ve waited aaages for a day


off and now there’s a flurry of bank holidays. Hurrah! THAT WEIRD EARLY SUMMER


Get your togs ready, our summer tends to happen in April… SUMMER HOLIDAYS Just thinking about the beach makes us feel like bursting into


happy song!



Embrace your inner child with some wellies and a good splash in some puddles.

distinct possibility, and you no longer trudge to work through the dark.



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Time to put away those (hopefully faux) fur coats, Kim and North - at least for a few months...

LONGER DAYS A walk in the evenings is a

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Ah the pregnancy hormones – if they’re not making you sick, they’re making you cry... We asked our Facebook community for some of the weirdest reasons for a meltdown during their pregnancy. I was watching Come Dine With Me and I just started bawling because they were such a lovely group of people (get a grip!!) Monique Tijtel

Craving pickles and ice cream – together? You’re not alone. Pregnancy cravings are very common, especially during the first trimester. Just make sure you’re not making up a craving to justify eating mountains of junk…

I was chopping a butternut squash and the knife got stuck in it and I couldn’t get it out so I cried uncontrollably for about 20 minutes. I was about five months’ pregnant haha! Cathy O’Brien I started crying one morning because it was lashing rain and I had to walk the kids to school. I looked out the window and said to my husband that’s it I’m not going out in that, the boys can stay home today. After 10 minutes the tears stopped and I braved the cold and heavy rain and brought them to school. Cassi Jordan I cried for hours as my feet swelled up and I had no shoes that fitted any more. I’m a size 9 my husband is a size 6 so i couldn’t even borrow his. I had to go to my hospital check-up in flip flops in November in the snow... Una Cosgrave-Hanley [Pregnant or not, we would have been bawling too - Ed] I cried because I couldn’t bend over comfortably to get the cat’s water bowl off the floor to give him more water. I also had a complete meltdown for weeks on end when my house was wrecked by storm damage this time two years ago when I was 21 weeks’ pregnant. I couldn’t do anything about it but what bugged me the most was I couldn’t get the nursery ready so I cried and cried, lol! Phillippa Golds

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When my also-pregnant friend gave each of my kids a flower to give to me on my birthday I actually sobbed, then my friend sobbed, also pregnancy emotions, and then my little girl chimed in and there was snots and tears everywhere. My three sons and my hubby were just standing there gawping at us like wtf it’s just a few flowers like! Ann Murphy Just finished work and the car front window wasn’t defrosting fast enough, so I rang my husband bawling. When I got home he had the relevant page left open in a pregnancy book to explain my crying. Niamh Flynn In the middle of a shop because they hadn’t any Twister ice creams left and I was craving one really badly. The shop assistants were laughing so hard one actually peed in her pants. I wasn’t laughing at the time. Samantha Gale

The Guide Dogs Association were having a fundraiser in a local shopping centre and I saw two children petting one of the guide dogs – I started crying at the cuteness of it all! Emma Ní Thuama A friend of mine gave me a bootful of clothes, and when I went to open the boot, I just stood there and cried because I was too tired to put them away! Sharon Clinch My husband simply asked me one Sunday morning “what would you like to do today baby?” The tears just rolled down my face. The poor man was left standing there baffled! Karen Bury When they didn’t have any chips left for me down the shop! Lee Anne Ní L My partner made spag bol and didn’t do garlic bread – who does that?! I had serious bread cravings at the time… Denise Doherty

✹ If your particular craving is not so healthy, indulge but don’t go nuts altogether. For instance, go for a mini chocolate bar rather than a giant one, or some low-fat chocolate milk instead of chocolate cake. ✹ Eat breakfast, as if you start the day off well, you’ll be less susceptible to midmorning snack attacks. ✹ Distract yourself from the craving by doing something healthy, eg go for a walk or meet a friend for a chat. If all else fails, wash your teeth and that cake mightn’t seem so appealing. ✹ Keep healthy snacks handy – if hunger leads to cravings, having something handy might be more important than the bad food itself. ✹ Remember the rule of healthy eating – everything in moderation. It’s fine to treat yourself as long as you eat healthily the rest of the day. Go by the 80/20 ratio of good food and treats. ✹ If you are craving anything odd, like ashes or clay, contact your GP or healthcare team. This is known as “pica” and could indicate a nutritional deficiency.

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Colic can be distressing for both parent and baby, and when you’re in the middle of it, knowing your baby will grow out of it is scant comfort. Here are some easy ways to cope with colic.

Colic is a common issue among newborn babies, affecting an estimated one in five babies between the ages of about two weeks and three or four months. It’s characterised by long bouts of crying, usually about three or four hours at a time, typically in the late afternoon and early evening. Some experts say that crying bouts happen naturally for babies trying to get used to their new surroundings, while others link it with digestive issues – but it’s important to stress that colic can occur in both bottle- and breastfed babies. Whatever the reason for the crying bouts, it’s generally believed that colic is harder on the parent than on the child. Here are some ways to cope and treat colic:


Make sure there’s nothing else wrong

If your baby is otherwise thriving, colic is usually just a phase and nothing much to worry about. But if your baby cries in a highpitched and continuous way, has frequent bouts of diarrhoea or vomiting, has a high temperature, isn’t interested in feeding, is losing or not gaining weight, or is lethargic, see your GP as this could indicate illness. If your baby is crying beyond the “rule of three” with colic (three hours of crying, for more than three days a week, for more than three weeks), and seems uncomfortable after or during feeding, your baby could be suffering from reflux. Talk to your GP or public health nurse if you’re worried.


Look at your diet

If you are breastfeeding, could something you eat be giving your baby gas or indigestion? Try eliminating

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Ergonomic Carrier, from €120, Tula

3-Position Carrier, €39.95, Mothercare

dairy products, caffeine, onions, cabbage, broccoli, garlic, and spicy foods from your diet. Or if you are formula-feeding, could changing your formula help? Talk to your GP or public health nurse before changing, however, and remember it can take up to two weeks for a baby to get used to a new formula.


See what works for your baby

Every baby is different, so it’s important to see what soothes and what doesn’t soothe your little person the best. Some practical ideas to try include warm baths, keeping baby upright after feeding, frequent winding (trying winding in the middle of a feed too) and gentle massage on the tummy and legs, which can release gas. Over-the-counter remedies like Infacol can also help. Some babies react well when outside stimulation is reduced; eg lower the lights, sing quietly to him and reduce the noise of the house. White noise can also help; some

parents report the noise of a hoover or hairdryer soothes the crying immediately!


Use rhythm

Some babies are soothed by movement, so try putting your baby in a sling (the upright position and close proximity to you will also help), taking your baby for a walk outside, or going for a drive with your baby in his car seat. A vibrating rocking chair can also help some babies.


See an expert

Some parents report great results after a session of craniosacral osteopathy. This involves a gentle massage of the baby’s body to release any tension or nerve issues that may have occurred during the birth process. However, make sure you see an experienced and registered osteopath, and do your research before you seek treatment. See for more details.

Organic Carrier, from €129, Ergo


Keep calm

Recognise that colic is stressful and upsetting for you – if you feel angry or frustrated, take a break if you can. Or if you are by yourself (and making sure your baby is safe), step outside for a minute and breathe deeply. Get regular breaks where you can go for a walk or take a bath by yourself. Remember that colic is common; talk it over with other mums in your baby and toddler group or go online to a discussion group to talk about your worries.

19/02/2016 14:37



LEARNING GAMES FOR TODDLERS A learning toddler is a happy toddler. Therefore not throwing a strop, in other words. Try these games to keep the tantrums at bay…



Divide & Count


King of the Accuracy

Set up a game of indoor basketball by scrunching up some paper and placing a wastepaper bin a couple of inches away from your child. Slowly increase the distance, aiming to get about a metre away. This will help improve hand/eye coordination. Tip: don’t be tempted to use a ball unless you want every picture in your living room smashed.


An oldie but a goodie – get your toddler to copy your movements when you say “Simon Says” before the command. Use the game to get your child familiar with the names of their body parts, eg

Build a Room

This might take a little organisation but is well worth it. Draw or find pictures of individual rooms, eg bathroom, living room, kitchen, garden. Then find as many pieces of furniture and appliances as you can, eg bath, cooker, sofa, and so on. Lay out all the rooms and get your child to match the piece of furniture to the room. This is great for very small children who need to increase their vocabulary or conversational skills.

Using two plates, get your child to sort out a big pile of items (buttons, raisins or crayons are ideal), using the “one for me, and one for you” method. When he gets used to dividing the items in two, involve a teddy or a friend so he can practise dividing things in three. This is a great introduction to counting too.

Simon Says

they miss, cross out one of their letters. Then your child can throw you the ball – if you miss, one of your letters gets crossed out. The person who crosses out all the letters on their DONKEY loses. This game will improve hand and eye coordination, as well as introducing them to letters and spelling.


A Colour a Day

“Simon says put your thumb on your nose”. Younger kids might not get the “Simon Says” concept (eg they shouldn’t do what you say if you don’t say Simon Says first), but introduce it and if they don’t understand, leave it out for now.



Write “DONKEY” in big letters twice on a big sheet of paper. Pin it up so both you and your child can see it. Using a small soft ball, stand a little away from your child and throw them the ball. If

Give each day a colour for a week and challenge your child to do everything in that colour for the day, eg for the Yellow Day, find yellow flowers, eat something yellow like an omelette with yellow peppers, go through picture books and find everything yellow in it; learn the word for yellow in Irish; name as many things as you can think of that are yellow. For older children, set them a “treasure map” of yellow items to find during the day. Tip: choose an easy day to begin with, such as red!


Printed jacket, €37, Next

Frost floral bomber jacket, €11, Penneys

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Autograph green rain mac, €52, M&S

Navy lightweight fleece-lined parka, €32.95, Mothercare

Sherpa lined puffa jacket, €15, Heatons

19/02/2016 14:37


Starting school brings with it another hurdle to overcome – homework! AOIFE O’BRIEN, head of research at Hibernia College, offers us her tips on encouraging good homework skills in your Junior and Senior Infants.

HOMEWORK BOX Turtle pencil sharpener, €2.00, Tiger Stores


If your little one is anything like the Junior and Senior Infants in the maternity & infant office, then you’ll be aware of all the excuses they come up with to avoid the homework. Our solution? A homework pack with everything they need to get going with it!

Despite their angelic faces, it’s easy to lose patience when you’re working with small children. This is especially true when you’re doing homework with them. Homework is often a source of contention and many parents were conditioned to hate homework as themselves, and that carries over to their helping their child as parents. Learn to be patient and enjoy the process, and you’ll break the cycle! Small amounts of homework will be given once children settle into school. Junior Infants and Senior Infants in Ireland generally have little homework, perhaps have some colouring, work cards, or reading to complete. You should encourage your child to complete shortly after he or she returns home from school, once they’ve had time to change out of their school uniform and had something to eat. Homework should not be left until late in the evening as a many children will be very tired after the school day. Set a routine around homework including a set time, place and procedure. You can also set up some necessary structures that will encourage your child to get their homework done as quickly as possible when they come in from school. Ensure that homework is done at the same

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time each night. Homework should be done in a public area of the house, such as the kitchen table, or a designated homework area with a special desk and chair free from distractions. Homework should always come first. Restrict ‘screen time’ until homework is done. No TV, no Xbox, or tablets. SOME QUICK ADVICE FOR PARENTS: ✹ DETERMINE YOUR CHILD’S LEARNING STYLE. Many children don’t process visual information well, but are quick to learn if the material is spoken out loud. Some are the opposite. Your child’s teacher can help you determine what teaching methods work best for him. ✹ DECIDE BEFORE YOU START how much time you’re going to devote to helping with your child’s homework.  ✹ LET YOUR CHILD DO AS MUCH AS HE CAN.  The homework looks so easy to you, you want to jump in and tell him how to do it. But he won’t learn that way. Wait

until he’s stuck before you reach out to help. ✹ RESIST THE TEMPTATION TO TELL HIM THE ANSWER when he’s stuck. Try everything you can think of to get him to figure it out for himself. ✹ WHEN THEY’RE FINISHED THEIR HOMEWORK, find something you can praise your child about. Maybe they finished it in less time than you expected, or got most of the answers on the first try. Complimenting not only will make him feel good, it will make you feel like your time was well spent. ✹ REMEMBER THAT CHILDREN ARE NATURAL LEARNERS and generally enjoy their school experience; make sure that you also enjoy this exciting time. Hibernia College was established in 2000 and is Ireland’s only government-accredited eLearning college. Hibernia College specialises in postgraduate and continuing professional development (CPD) programmes for students and professionals across the globe. Log on to www. for more.

“I can’t find my pencil!” “I don’t have a red pencil!” “My pencil broke!” “Jack robbed my rubber today!” Yes, we’ve heard them all. Us m&i staff members with small kids have learned a few things over the last while – 1) small kids are not very imaginative with their excuses for getting out of homework, and 2) small kids are weirdly generous with their pencils and tend to come home regularly with someone else’s broken pencils that they decided to trade their brand-new Twistables for. It can take a while to teach them that keeping their school supplies neat and available saves them time and energy in the long run! For now, our solution to the homework obstacles is to keep a homework pack at home. This can be a simple pencil case with the following: ✹ Three lead pencils (sharpened) ✹ Basic colours (blue, black, brown, yellow, red, pink, orange, green and purple) ✹ Pencil sharpener ✹ Rubber (two if these tend to go missing) ✹ Small ruler ✹ Notepad for you to write/draw on if your child needs help. Our final tip? Guard this with your life or it’ll get traded for a Frube the next day in school!

19/02/2016 14:38




All kids are creative – it’s just a matter of tapping into their own creativity and providing inspiration. Let their inner artist shine!

Easy Painters, €5.99, ELC @ Mothercare

Complete easel accessory set, €29.95, ELC @ Mothercare

From a very early age, kids are creative – they can look at an old cardboard box and make it into an integral part of enough games to last a week – but unfortunately studies have shown that thanks to a variety of factors, including increased screen time and toys that do the playing for children, this creativity tends to wane as a child gets older. But creativity doesn’t have to be only for those naturally gifted as artists – encouraging your child to experiment, imagine, create and explore will help develop your child’s brain and motor skills in more ways than you can imagine. Here are some of our top tips on unleashing creativity in your child. ✹ BE GUIDED BY YOUR CHILD Creativity is a lot more than painting and drawing – see what your child likes and encourage them by providing appropriate toys that inspire rather than dictate creativity. “Danny is five and could colour until the cows come home,” says maternity & infant editor Penny Gray. “But Ellie is three and hates colouring with a passion. Danny is perfectly happy with a colouring book – he’s particularly taken with the

MI Spring 2016_News.indd 14

adult ones! – and a big tin of pencils, but Ellie likes messy play and cutting up pieces of coloured paper into shapes. Playdoh is perfect for her.” ✹ MAKE UP A CREATIVE BOX A few art supplies can go a long way – look for bumper craft packs or head to discount stores like Mr Price for bargain bits. Don’t think that you have to buy everything in the shop – a few accessories like stars or pipe cleaners, a kids’ scissors, some kids’ glue and a few pieces of coloured paper will suffice. Add in pictures cut out from magazines (great for creating a scene), some foil from chocolate boxes, cardboard from old boxes and empty house products like egg boxes, empty toilet rolls and washing up bottles, and you have a treasure chest for creative minds. ✹ GIVE THEM TIME Reduce down the amount of screen time, especially if your child tends to be hynotised by the TV or computer, and

make sure their schedule isn’t overloaded with extracurricular classes. Children need time to play and let their imaginations run wild. Put a cloth on the table, lay out the creative supplies and let them draw, paint, cut and stick to their hearts’ content.

Chad Valley 1,000 piece craft trunk, €14.99, Argos

✹ LEAD BY EXAMPLE Having kids is a great opportunity to explore your own creativity. Try sewing, knitting or painting; or if all else fails, decide on an art project with your child and help them make it. How about creating a big country scene with art paper and painting animals to stick on? ✹ GET INSPIRATION FROM NATURE Get out to the park and collect up natural objects to incorporate into your art work. Collect shells on the beach, or leaves in the woods. Try painting them or sticking them on paper as part of a bigger picture. Big stones can also be cleaned and painted, while small sticks can be used as “paint brushes” for interesting effects.

Hama Maxi Beads and Pegboards, €52.99, Argos

Crazy Cuts, €24.99, Playdoh

19/02/2016 14:38


TELLING TALES Reviewed by Anne Whelton and Linda Crosbie PICK OF THE PILE

For more children’s book reviews, competitions, recommendations for Christmas reads and interviews with some of your favourite authors and illustrators, visit

A Dublin Fairytale By Nicola Colton (The O’Brien Press), €12.99 Picture books have always been wonderful tools to help young children understand different people and places. However, it’s important to remember that if you look hard enough, you can find just as much magic in your own village, town or city. A loose retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, our heroine is Fiona, a young Dubliner who has to visit her sick Granny. However, unlike Red, Fiona’s journey to visit her Gran takes her not through the woods, but through Dublin city centre. Of course this is still a fairytale so Colton has added an extra layer of magic to the city – St Stephen’s Green is now St Stephen’s Green forest, home to a friendly giant; Trinity College is a college of sorcery, not dissimilar to Hogwarts; and mermaids swim in the Liffey under the Ha’penny Bridge. Utterly charming. We like … the warm illustrations. They’ll love … spotting familiar places from around Dublin city.


3I’m+ years a Girl!

+ 3Odd years Socks

+ 3Have years You Seen

By Yasmeen Ismail (Bloomsbury), €11.05 Many readers might remember the #LikeaGirl campaign - this is the picture book equivalent. Who says girls have to wear pink and be “sugar and spice and all things nice”? Some girls like to run fast and wear T-shirts and do all the things boys like to do, and that’s exactly what the girl in this book does, so much so that she’s often mistaken for a boy. Luckily, our young heroine doesn’t take it lying down and shouts ‘I’m a girl!’. A vibrant book that challenges the status quo and teaches your child about the importance of being true to themselves. We like … That it challenges gender stereotypes. They’ll love … That this girl is just like them – an individual.

By Michelle Robinson, illustrated by Rebecca Ashdown (Andersen Press), €17.99 Suki and Sosh are a husband and wife who do everything together; by day they work at keeping two little feet warm and by night they snuggle up in the sock drawer. But one day Suki develops a hole. Every day Suki’s hole unravels more and while the other socks tell her she’s done for, Sosh refuses to give up. Things take a turn for the worse when Suki goes missing and it’s up to Sosh to save her. This sweet story will make you always pair up your socks so they’re not lonely! We like …The very sweet love story. They’ll love … Sosh’s big adventure, especially his enounter with the family dog.

By David Barrow (Gecko Press), €16.50 A pretty straightforward caper, a boy and his dog agree to play hide and seek with a fun-loving elephant. The only problem? Elephant has a hard job blending in and gets caught hiding in some of the most unusual places. The perfect picture book for repeat reading, little ones will love searching for Elephant on every page – think of it as a simplified Where’s Wally – and laughing when the boy can’t find him; while parents will enjoy the gentle illustrations by David Barrow. We like … the illustratons. They’ll love … finding Elephant hidden in the most obvious of places.

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3+ years Double Trouble By Atinuke and Lauren Tobia (Walker Books), €17.99 The much-loved Hibiscus family are back – with two bundles in tow! Anna is now a big sister to twin baby boys but she’s not all that sure she likes it. No one seems to have any time for her anymore. Yes, jealousy has crept into the Hibiscus household. Thankfully, It doesn’t take long for everyone to notice Anna once more and for her to feel proud of her big sister status. If you’re expecting, this book introduces the concept of being a big brother or sister in a loving way. We like … the fun family dynamic of the Hibiscus clan. They’ll love … learning that baby brothers and sisters aren’t all that bad.

19/02/2016 14:38

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MI Spring 2016_Ad Template.indd 5 1 238345_1C_McCabes_ALS_MI.indd

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19/02/2016 19/01/2016 14:59 09:10


Our new GP columnist DR SINEAD BEIRNE explains why antibiotics are not always the correct prescription for your little ones…

Popping Pills...


s I’m about to tell you why antibiotics aren’t always the answer to your little one’s ailments, I feel I must come clean and disclose something to you…I’m only after finishing a course of antibiotics myself! I’m pregnant (with my first) and heading into the final trimester. I am lucky to have enjoyed great health throughout this pregnancy despite a hectic schedule. It was only when I stopped for a break at Christmas that I started developing a hacking sore cough and I found it difficult to catch my breath. The very last thing I wanted to do was to expose my poor unborn child to drugs, but after several phone calls to a doctor friend of mine (who happens to be a chest specialist!), the decision was made and I started a course of antibiotics. My doctor friend told me about two other pregnant ladies who had tried to ‘fight the chest infection at home’, and were subsequently diagnosed with pneumonia and admitted to intensive care for intravenous antibiotics. In pregnancy, the immune system drops dramatically, and when you get sick it can become serious very quickly. I’m sure you’re tired of hearing the statement that ‘antibiotics are wasted on colds and flu’. I know I’ve heard multiple radio advertisements reiterating this important point. In practice, over 90 per cent of the childhood infections I see are viruses: slapped cheek, hand foot and mouth, croup, the common cold and the flu are all caused by viruses. I have to admit there are rare occasions in practice when I end up prescribing an antibiotic even though I’m not completely convinced that a child’s infection is bacterial. In a GP surgery you don’t have the luxury of having access to blood tests or chest X-rays to make sure a child doesn’t have pneumonia. More often I give a parent a holding prescription for an antibiotic with the

advice that only if the cough persists or the temperature remains elevated should the prescription be filled. Wellinformed parents are usually delighted when they don’t need to fill the prescription and everyone’s a winner. Typically the infections that require an antibiotic include a strep throat (when your child has red golf balls of tonsils with white spots and a fever), impetigo (the red rash that has a golden crust covering it and is highly contagious), pneumonia, urinary tract infections and some ear infections. I often tell parents about the ‘three-day rule’, which goes like this; if your child has a high temperature (over 38 degrees) for more than three days, then there’s a greater chance that their infection may be bacterial and it’s time to have them assessed by a doctor. Another sign that an antibiotic might be needed is when a chesty cough isn’t getting better after 14 days. But what’s the harm in giving an antibiotic even if the child may not really need it? When your child gets a broad spectrum antibiotic it acts a bit like an atomic bomb and gets rid of the good bacteria (which they need for good health) as well as the bad bugs. This can lead to nasty symptoms of thrush and diarrhoea. If your child is allergic to the antibiotic, they can develop a widespread rash and may find it difficult to breath. We also need to preserve our finite pool of antibiotics for the kids with weakened immune systems who depend of them in life and death situations. As a parent, you know when your child is sick. Your GP is trained in knowing whether your child needs an antibiotic or some other treatment. So listen to your gut instinct, it’s a powerful tool. All content in this column is for general information only and should not be treated as a substitute for the advice of your own doctor. Always consult your own GP if you are concerned about your health.

Dr. Sinead Beirne is a GP in Irishtown in Dublin and the resident doctor on TV3’s Ireland AM and Newstalk Breakfast. She is a presenter of TV3’s ‘Doctor In The House’, second series due to air in March 2016. Follow her on Twitter, @DrSineadBeirne

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19/02/2016 13:46





ore and more parents are finding out the sex of their baby before the birth, with reports of up to 90 per cent of parents choosing to find out the sex of their unborn child. Gender-reveal parties are hugely popular in the States and are quickly catching on this side of the pond too. But ask any expecting parent if they would like a boy or a girl and we are usually met with the same standard answer: “I don’t mind, once my baby is healthy.” Online parenting forums tell a very different story; one thread on popular website Mumsnet is called ‘gender disappointment, please help,’ and here parents share their devastation at finding out that a longed-for daughter is a son (or vice versa), feelings that perhaps parents are not willing to be so open about in real life. They describe feeling robbed of future shopping trips and pedicures with their fantasy daughters, or ‘grief’ that their husband won’t get to watch their son play football. All of these feelings are completely natural and understandable. There is an argument that if you have a strong gender preference you should find out the sex so that you can come to terms with it before your baby is born; however, many parents on the same parenting thread said their feelings of disappointment quickly evaporated when they were handed their baby in the delivery room. Advances in fertility treatments have made it possible for doctors to identify male and female embryos. But under new laws currently being drafted to regulate surrogacy and as-

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The government’s bill on assisted human reproduction due to be published in 2016 will include a ban on sex selection. But why do parents feel the need to be so politically correct when admitting they might want a boy or a girl, and is it terribly wrong for someone to choose the sex of their child? OUR SURVEY We surveyed 100 maternity & infant readers to get their opinions on sex selection.



of you found out the sex of your baby before he/she was born.


Do you agree with the Government’s plans to ban sex selection?


said YES


sisted human production, Minister for Health Leo Varadkar (at the time of going to press) announced plans to ban parents using assisted human reproduction from choosing the sex of their baby. Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Minister Varadkar said that the new law will not allow so-called ‘designer babies’ to be created. Sex-selection will only be allowed under ‘very rare’ circumstances. This includes where a genetic disease in the family is more prevalent on the male or female side. “The priority throughout will be to safeguard the welfare, safety and best interests of children and to uphold the principles of consent and equality,” said Minister Varadkar. Many people who use assisted human reproduction avail of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) or pre-implantation genetic screening (PGS). PGD helps to identify genetic defects in embryos created through IVF to prevent certain diseases or disorders from being passed on to the child. PGS is a procedure usually used on older women (38+) who are trying to conceive through IVF because there is a higher risk of abnormalities due to poorer egg quality. Doctors are able to tell the sex of an embryo from both PGS and PGD and these are the circumstances where Minister Varadkar plans to ban sex selection. Sex selection will only be available to those who run a risk of passing on a sex-linked genetic disorder. Embryologist Dr Declan Keane agrees: “I think under medical circumstances where perhaps a male embryo is the carrier of a disease for example, haemophilia, sex selection should be available. Otherwise, I think the government has made the right choice to rule out any

19/02/2016 13:24


WE ASKED: If you could choose between having a boy or girl would you pick the sex of your child?


Do you think people trying to conceive using artificial insemination and IVF should be able to select the sex of their unborn child?

MI Spring 2016_BI Gender Choosing.indd 19


said YES



Do you think it is ethically wrong for people to be allowed to choose the sex of their unborn child?




said YES


said NO


Do you think sex selection can lead to an imbalance in our population?



said YES

19/02/2016 13:24


ARE YOU HAVING A BOY OR A GIRL? (OLD-SCHOOL STYLE) We’ve put together some of the myths that can recognise if you’re carrying a boy or a girl. Believe at your own risk!

“Sex selection will only be available to those who run a risk of passing on a sex-linked genetic disorder”

✱ IF YOU EAT THE CRUSTS OF BREAD, it’s a boy. If you prefer to eat the centre of a loaf you are expecting a girl. ✱ IT’S ALL IN THE NOSE. If your nose appears to be getting wider or bigger, it’s a boy! ✱ IF YOU FEEL YOUR BEAUTY DISAPPEARS during pregnancy, expect a little girl. It is said that a girl receives her mother’s beauty throughout her pregnancy. If you think that pregnancy has done you a favour and feel you’ve never looked better, you might just be having a boy. ✱ IF YOU HAVE ACNE WHILE PREGNANT, count on a girl. It’s thought that the extra hormones you produce when having a girl results in acne. ✱ SUPPOSEDLY IF YOU PUT A PAIR OF SCISSORS and a wooden spoon beneath your bed and a place pink bow under your pillow while you sleep, you are more likely to conceive a little girl. Who needs to spend thousands on sexselection when we can do this?! ✱ IF YOU ARE CARRYING A HIGH, big and round belly you are having a girl. If you are carrying a low, smaller belly that tends to stick straight out, it’s most likely a boy. ✱ IF DADDY’S WEIGHT REMAINS THE SAME throughout pregnancy, which means no losses or gains, you are expecting a boy. ✱ IF YOU SUFFERED BADLY FROM MORNING SICKNESS or felt really nauseous during your pregnancy, expect a baby girl. If you had a smooth pregnancy with little or no morning sickness, count on a boy. ✱ IF YOU NOTICE YOUR AREOLAE (the part around your nipples) have darkened in colour, it’s a boy. If they are staying the same colour, it’s a girl. ✱ STRONG CRAVINGS FOR PROTEIN such as meat and cheese mean a baby boy is in the oven!

MI Spring 2016_BI Gender Choosing.indd 20

favouritism of male over female or vice versa. “Very few people who come to our clinic state that they are looking for a boy or a girl. The only circumstances where we may run into this is if a patient already has a son or sons and would like a daughter, but it’s not something we can entertain. I would not impose my will over someone else but it’s not something routinely done in Ireland and it’s not something that we would offer in our clinic.” Sex selection is banned in the UK, Australia and Canada. Parents who want to avail of sex selection for family balancing reasons (they have a child of one sex and want one of the opposite sex) usually travel to the States where sex selection is legal in every state. Sex selection is an expensive business, one that will not only cost tens of thousands, but also means patients have to undergo very invasive infertility treatments and take fertility drugs with potential side effects. At some fertility clinics, patients are not eligible for sex selection unless they are married and already have at least one child of the opposite sex. There is no way of knowing how many women travel to the States to undergo the procedure but from reports in American clinics the number of British patients travelling is in the low hundreds. Dr Jeff Steinberg, Clinic Director of the Fertility Institutes in America, which claims to be the largest ‘gender-selection service’ in the world, says he has treated at least half a dozen Irish clients. They included a couple who had lost a son in a motorbike accident and wanted their next child to be a boy, and a mother who already had a son and daughter, but wanted another girl because she wished her daughter to have a sister. Speaking to the Guardian, Dr Steinberg says the business of gender selection has ‘gone wild’ over the last few years and the majority of his

sex-selection cases are couples coming for ‘family balancing’ reasons. Ninety per cent of Steinberg’s Chinese families come for boys and 70 per cent of his Canadian patients are trying for girls. “The Brits are fairly evenly split, perhaps slightly favouring girls,” he says. “When people come in, we can often tell what sex they want before they tell us. We find that if it’s the woman who makes the first appointment, 70 per cent of the time they’re going to be wanting a girl. If the man calls up, 90 per cent of the time it’s for a boy,” he added. Mother Nature has already tipped the odds in favour of boys. According to data from the National Center for Health Statistics, approximately 105 boys are born for every 100 girls. Sex selection is available if you meet the criteria and have the means to go ahead with it abroad but it is not something that will be available in Ireland as stated by the Department of Health: “Drafting of the General Scheme on Assisted Human Reproduction is currently underway and the General Scheme will be published in the first half of 2016. Sex selection for social reasons such as gender balancing will not be permitted. However, in cases where there is a high risk of serious genetic disease or impairment, sex selection for medical reasons will be permitted subject to strict criteria.” But the stigma around openly admitting whether someone would like a boy or a girl should be removed. Of course we all want our children to be born healthy, that is a given, but it is completely natural to have feelings of preference for a boy or girl. Next time someone asks you if you would like a boy or a girl, tell them exactly what you would like but also tell them you will be perfectly happy with either!

19/02/2016 13:25


SHAUNNA MURPHY is mum to baby Senan, and tells us her experience of giving birth in London, far away from her family in Dublin.


’m 23 and living in London with my partner. We both are from Dublin but got the opportunity to work over here a little over two years ago. Being away from family sometimes is hard, but I’m a very independent person so it didn’t bother me much. I fell pregnant last December. Surprisingly I knew right away I was pregnant and he knew too. But it wasn’t supposed to be that easy. In 2012, I was diagnosed with a pituitary gland on my brain, which meant that I didn’t get my period. I was on medication to help, but was told by the professor at Beaumont Hospital that my chances of naturally conceiving were very slim. But I did, and it took a long time to sink in, even when going through all the usual symptoms like morning sickness and tiredness. Senan arrived into our lives nine months later on his due date after only 40 minutes of labour. He was delivered by an Irish nurse who was in as much shock as me when I told her this was my first. That morning I had woke with a few pains in my lower abdomen but didn’t think much of it. I got up put some washing on, cleaned the floors and called the hospital to ask for advice. They said to call back if I was getting these pains twice in the space of 10 minutes. I already was but decided to wait. By 11am the pains were constant but I knew I had to hang out the washing at 11.30 so I waited. It seems crazy now when I look back! At about 12 we set off for the hospital, which was only 15 minutes away. But stupidly my partner took the wrong turn and instead went in the direction of all the speed bumps. At the time this was not good, but looking back, it was a good thing as by the time I got out of the car, my waters had broken. By 12.20pm, we had arrived at the hospital, and the contractions were coming thick and fast. Once examined, the nurse called for a wheelchair to get me to labour asap. “Don’t push,” she said while we got into the lift. We made it thankfully and at 1.10pm he was born totally naturally, which meant we could go home instead of spending the night in hospital. Since having Senan our lives have changed in more ways than one. Living away from family has become a lot more difficult. Although we have Facebook, Skype and everything else, it’s not the same. Everyone just wants to cuddle him. We take so many photos and videos so family and friends won’t ‘miss out’. When he was just six days old we made our way by car to Dublin, which was surprisingly fine. Finally seeing my parents and the rest of my family physically holding the baby was such a relief. We were home for two weeks so tried our best to see everyone, but even with that amount of time it’s quite difficult. Usually when going home, I can’t wait for my own bed, but this time it was emotional, to say the least. Going from seeing so many people and family members to just us three back in London was daunting. So as soon as we got back the phone was back out and the posing for the camera began. It wasn’t long before I took the plunge and booked a flight back with just myself and the baby. I’m making the most out of my maternity leave and seeing as much of my family as possible.

MI Spring 2016_Mummy My Way.indd 21


19/02/2016 14:01


CORNERED! NICK WILKINSON’s little girl was sent to the principal’s office for fighting with a boy – just punishment or rough justice?


clearly remember the day I was put off mathematics for life. I can’t have been more than six or seven. For a reason that neither of us can remember, my cousin, who I was sitting next to in class, hit me over the head with her abacus. The flimsy wooden counting contraption splintered into smithereens and little coloured beads scattered everywhere. After a bit of hullabaloo, I was sent to stand in the corner. Forbidden to look up, I remember staring down at my feet and seeing beads that had rolled into the corner. Having an ancient counting device smashed over my head didn’t hurt as much as you might think. But I felt that being blamed for the assault was an outrageous injustice. I had plenty of time to stew over this as I spent the day in the corner, staring at my brown socks, leather sandals and those little beads. I know that to younger parents, any one of those details ages me considerably. I promise, it was well into the 1980s but socks and sandals were still the height of children’s fashion. I mention all this because my junior infant came home from school the other day a little subdued. She loves school. I think they get to use calculators now, so it’s probably a lot safer. Also, some time during the Eighties, parents worked out that socks and sandals really don’t work in a climate like ours – never mind the fashion implications. Anyway, I couldn’t figure out why she seemed a bit down – until her brother arrived home. He cracked and told us that she had been sent to sit in another classroom for the day – the principal’s. She stamped her foot at him. If she’d had an abacus, he’d have had to run. Naturally, this brought on a lot of worried questioning. Our daughter tried denial, but her brother snitched on her so we know exactly what happened. She was sent to the principal’s office for fighting with one of her friends – a little boy. Apparently it was the last straw. I asked if this kind of thing happened a lot – not the fighting, but kids

being sent to see the principal. Nope, this was the first time her brother had ever witnessed such a thing. Possibly in the history of their quiet little national school. She went to her room and collapsed on her bed in tears. My wife was very upset. Fighting boys in Junior Infants? It all suddenly seemed a bit serious. I told my wife the story about the abacus. It didn’t seem to calm her down much. In fact, now it was my fault. With a little coaxing and more informing from her brother, we established that her and a friend have a loving but rambunctious relationship that involves some rough and tumble. This day, it had got a little heated and her exasperated teacher sent them to her boss to hammer the point home that they had taken it too far. Our daughter was very remorseful. I reckoned a trip to see the teacher might be in order. When I did visit the school, I learned that my daughter and her partner in crime had spent the afternoon following the incident playing happily together. Her teacher just wanted to ‘nip it in the bud’. Fine. Kids, eh? And teachers, I thought – why couldn’t she have just made them stand in the corner? Apparently they don’t do that anymore. Probably went out with socks and sandals. Over the weekend, I found my daughter making quite a palaver over wrapping a present. She told me that it was to say sorry to Teacher. I took a peek between the many layers of paper and Sellotape and found a bottle of hand soap – nearly empty – that she had taken from our bathroom. I suggested that Teacher might like something a little more fancy. We settled on a tin of quite delicious drinking chocolate. Teacher loved the present. Weeks later, I came home to find my daughter using an ancient-looking abacus. Was I mistaken, or was there a large crack along one side where it had been clumsily glued together? She was also having problems using it because several beads were missing...

“She was sent to the Principal’s office for fighting with one of her friends – a little boy. Apparently it was the last straw.”

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19/02/2016 13:33




Image: mamalicious

Spring is finally here and the evenings are thankfully getting brighter. Soon it will be time to put away our winter accessories and spring into our summer wardrobe. In this issue, we’ve taken inspiration from Kate Middleton’s springtime maternity style last year – it was effortlessly chic, a look that never goes out of fashion. Anne Hathaway is our steal her style star on page 26 Anne’s casual look is the perfect choice for any mum-to-be. In trimester trends on page 24 we show you how to cover up that bump with a pregnancy hack you need to know.

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19/02/2016 13:09


Trimester Trends

A long shirt or top is a great fit for mums-to-be. You don’t have to worry about your bump peaking out when you sit down and your burgeoning bum is also not on show! Here are three ways to look chic in a long top throughout the nine months



















4 4



6 6




6 1 Black leather fitted biker jacket, €160, River Island 2 Dark yellow sleeveless top, €25, River Island 3 Burgundy tote with metallic straps, €39.95, Zara 4 Pure lipstick, €4.99, New Look 5 Maternity over-the-bump Joni jeans, €52, Topshop 6 Black mule loafers, €80, Topshop 7 Contour wand, €13, Topshop

MI Spring 2016_TrimesterTrends.indd 24

1 White secret support maternity vest, €35, Seraphine 2 Clutch, €60, Aldo 3 Floral shirt, €49.95, Zara 4 Over-the-bump ripped skinny maternity jeans, €65, Seraphine 5 Multi-blusher in soft coral, €17, Marks & Spencer 6 Taupe brogues, €70, Buffalo at Arnotts

1 Classic square scarf, €125, Susannagh Grogan at Brown Thomas 2 Pale pink stand-up collar shirt, €69, Cos 3 Pink rim sunglasses, €20, Marks & Spencer 4 Box clutch, €39, Marks & Spencer 5 Face palette collector spring collection limited edition, €55, Yves Saint Laurent at Brown Thomas 6 White cropped under-the-bump maternity jeans, €59, Seraphine 7 White lizard detail lace-up trainers, €29, Topshop

19/02/2016 14:26



Appearance Kate Middleton’s maternity style last year set the bar high for springtime maternity chic. We’ve taken inspiration from the princess, whose effortless style is classic, comfortable and always polished to perfection.




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MAIN PIC: Floral print maternity dress, €155, Isabella Oliver 1 Square sunglasses, €20, Accessorize 2 Pale blue cashmere blend coat, €180, Seraphine 3 Navy round collar hybrid jumper, €57, Topshop 4 Bright blue jeggings, €29.99, New Look 5 Navy/blue shopper, €155, Calvin Klein at Arnotts 6 Multi flat pumps, €99, Arnotts 7 Pearl ring, €270, Ayami at Brown Thomas 8 Black suede pointed mid-heel court shoes, €65, River Island 9 Blue handwoven perla clutch, €165, Ale Walshe at Arnotts 10 Jersey maternity top, €39.95, Mamalicious 11 Navy print maternity dress, €145, Isabella Oliver 12 Drop earrings, €225, Ayami at Brown Thomas

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26 TREND Black blazer, €70, Zara

Gold necklace, €10, Accessorize


STYLE Anne Hathaway knows how to keep it cute and casual while running errands in Los Angeles. This mumto-be doesn’t let her busy schedule ruin her killer maternity style.

Only last month, actress Anne Hathaway revealed her pregnancy after months of speculation by sharing a bikini picture with a very visible bump. The mum-to-be had this to say about her exciting news: “I figure if this kind of photo is going to be out in the world it should at least be an image that makes me happy (and one that was taken with my consent. And with a filter :).” Anne is now almost half way through her first pregnancy with hubby Adam Shulman. The couple married in 2012.

Lulu Guinness black tote bag, €455, Arnotts

White tank top with butterfly design, €10, New Look

Aviator sunglasses, €13, Topshop


Boyfriend jeans, €40, H&M

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Black quilted tote, €45, River Island

Black suede loafers, €23, New Look

19/02/2016 14:27

• r e n • W in r u o y e t a n i No m


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Newborn Necessities

Whether you’re expecting a boy, girl or waiting for a wonderful surprise, be prepared for that all-important trip home from the hospital with everything you need to keep your newborn warm and comfortable. BLUE









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6 1 Blue five-pack socks (0-2yrs), €7.50, Next 2 My First boy’s true knit shawl, €19.95, Mothercare 3 Buttoned knit sweater with pocket (0-9mths), €14.95, Zara 4 Bear t-shirt bodysuit (0-3mths), €8.50, Mothercare 5 Blue short sleeve bodysuits four pack (0-3yrs), from €12.50, Next 6 Knitted hat and booties (03mths), €15, J by Jasper Conran at Debenhams

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1 Grey bear ears cardigan, €50, The Little White Company at Brown Thomas 2 Geo knit blanket, €29.50, Next 3 My First unisex true knit and mitt set, €11.95, Mothercare 4 Cowboy print baby sleep bag (0-3mths), €25, Marks & Spencer 5 Rainbow cardigan (0mths-2yrs), €16.50, Next 6 Silver-plated brush and comb set, €29, Mamas & Papas

1 Pink travel slumbersac, €20, Slumbersac 2 My First girl’s two-pack mitts, €3.95, Mothercare 3 Pink knit pom pom hat, €7.95, Zara 4 Pink romper suit, €17.99, H&M 5 Multi-pack vests, €9.99, H&M 6 Pink suede shoes, €19.99, H&M

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LOOK 2 Owl rucksack, €17, Monsoon

Blue blouse (3mths-3yrs), €10, Zara

Printed jacket (3mths-3yrs), €33, Mamas & Papas

LOOK 1 Pink t-shirt (3-18mths), €17, Childrensalon

100 per cent organic cotton sheep dribble bib, €7, Toby Tiger



Patterned twopack socks, €7, Heatons

No matter what age, dungarees are adorably cute on both boys and girls.

Heart dungarees (18mths-10 yrs), €15, H&M


Blue dungarees (9mnths-3yrs), €17, Zara

White canvas prewalker shoes (2-12mths), €17, Mothercare

LOOK 3 Red hooded mac (3mths5yrs), €25, Mothercare

Blue sunglasses (0-5yrs), €21, Childrensalon

Denim dungarees and stripe t-shirt (0–2years),


Lifestyle: Denim dungarees and t-shirt set (3-9 months), €28, Mamas & Papas

Red heart striped t-shirt (3mths-5yrs), €6, Mothercare

Yellow/navy rain boots, €30, Hatley

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Astronauts rain coat (2-8yrs), €50, Hatley

Red sandals, €20, Zara

Navy corduroy dungarees (0mths-2yrs), €35, Brown Thomas

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30 TREND Denim jacket (4yrs-14yrs), €25.95, Zara

Flower hair garland, €11, Monsoon



STYLE Harper Beckham is the offspring of two of the most stylish celebrities on the planet so it’s no surprise Harper’s wardrobe is bursting with designer labels. We love how her mum and dad, David and Victoria Beckham, keep it casual when it comes to dressing their only daughter.

Pink Pink floral cotton dress with bows (12mths-4yrs), €121, Il Gufo at Childrensalon

Pink floral embroidered dress (2yrs5yrs), €45, The Little White Company at Brown Thomas

Harper Beckham’s roll call of fashion labels includes Bonpoint (a favourite), Burberry, Stella McCartney, Hermes and Caramel Baby & Child; dad David has previously said Harper’s designer wardrobe is ‘ridiculous.’ But thankfully it is possible to recreate her style on only a fraction of the cost – here are a few ideas.


Purple drinking cup with straw, €10, Paperchase

Black lace and zip boots, from €70.50, Dr Martens at Brown Thomas

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Pink ‘Roma’ logo tights (0-24mths), €50, Fendi

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our premium newborn collection

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Feeding YOUR BABY In between all the talk of buggies, car seats and cots, one decision you need to make is how you are planning to feed your baby. Our advice? Do your research and seek support from professionals and fellow mums‌

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here is such a lot to think about during pregnancy – not only is your body changing by the week, but you’re also thinking about labour and birth, and of course caring for a baby afterwards! It can be all quite overwhelming at times. It’s important, therefore, to give priority to the most important things – and one of the biggest decisions you can make is how to feed your baby. We cannot emphasise enough that breast is best for both you and your baby; obviously the decision is yours alone to make, but unless there is a reason for not breastfeeding, we would encourage every mother to do her research and at least look into breastfeeding. Your breastmilk protects your baby against a wide variety of illness and conditions, and is designed perfectly to meet your baby’s every need. Breastmilk contains essential enzymes, hormones and immunoglobulins vital for your baby’s normal growth, development and good health. In fact, it’s probably one of the single most important things you can do for you and your baby’s health. Even if you breastfeed for only a short period of time, it will count towards the good health of your baby.

Getting support Ireland has one of the lowest rates of breastfeeding in Europe, but this is slowly improving. Louise Brownell, a leader with the Portadown La Leche League group, believes it’s to do with family habits. “My mother is Dutch and breastfed me, and so it was a no-brainer for me; breastfeeding was just how you fed your baby,” she says. “I can understand then how new mums would be nervous of breastfeeding if their own mothers didn’t breastfeed.” The rates of breastfeeding may be low, but they are improving, thanks to better information and support. Breastfeeding is a skill that needs to be developed over the first few days and weeks with your new baby. “Every baby is different, and just because one way of feeding worked for your first baby, doesn’t mean that the same way will work for your next,” Louise says. “On my first baby, I was given a lot of conflicting advice about stretching out feeds. I ended up with mastitis and an unhappy baby, and went to my local La Leche League where I got some really helpful advice. That’s really what promoted me to get involved and train as a leader and breastfeeding counsellor. While training I became pregnant with my second baby, but even after breastfeeding my first baby and doing the training, I found I still had to learn with my new baby.” After giving birth, the midwives and doctors can help you start and establish breastfeeding, but once you’ve been discharged from their care, there is plenty of support in the

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FINDING SUPPORT ✱ LA LECHE LEAGUE aims to help mothers to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information, and education, and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and mother. The organisation is celebrating its 50th anniversary in Ireland this year, and will hold a special conference in Sligo on March 5th-6th to celebrate. More details and tickets are available on their website, www. ✱ DETAILS OF MEETINGS around the country can also be found on the website, plus contact numbers of the leaders. You can also keep up to date with the latest news and reports on the organisation’s Facebook page: LaLecheLeagueIreland ✱ FOR INFORMATION ON BREASTFEEDING, the HSE offers a very informative website and guide to breastfeeding, It’s also well worth getting in contact with your local public health nurse or centre for details on breastfeeding groups or consultants. Arm yourself with this information while pregnant to give yourself the best possible support once baby arrives.

community to help you if you hit some barriers along the way or even just to get together and share stories with. It’s important to familiarise yourself with these groups and to even visit them while pregnant. “Connecting pregnant women with their local support group, whether it’s La Leche League or whatever, is important,” says Louise. “Once the baby arrives, it’s a steep learning curve and you’re tired, and if you don’t have that support in place, it can be very easy to reach for the formula. By visiting a support group and hearing other mums talk about how people are telling them that their baby should be sleeping for 12 hours a night but in fact wants to feed every two hours – and then hearing other mums reassure them that this is perfectly normal for a baby with such a tiny tummy – it can be really reassuring to hear. Plus, maternity leave and being at home with your baby can be really isolating, especially if you don’t have friends having babies at the

same time or perhaps feeding differently to you, so a group can be really help.”

Keeping going The Growing Up in Ireland report, published in January 2015, revealed that 56 per cent of respondents breastfed their baby, as opposed to a European norm of about 80 per cent. However, by six months of age, the number of mothers in Ireland still exclusively breastfeeding had fallen to just 6 per cent. This is in spite of the recommendations that babies are exclusively fed breastmilk until six months old before solids are introduced; breastmilk is still regarded as an important part of a baby’s diet alongside solids until two years of age and beyond. So while every breastfeed is great and should be celebrated, Irish mums are not continuing for as long as recommended and, perhaps, they want. Hopefully this is something that will change with the increased level of information available to mums, and the growth of support groups like La Leche League. Louise also says there is a lot of work for the government and policymakers can do in order to improve our breastfeeding rates, such as making good support accessible to women both after birth and in the first months and years of the baby’s life. “Many women don’t realise that they have a right to pumping time when they go back to work,” she says. “There’s also legislation being considered that would fine people who discriminate against women who breastfeed in public. My personal view is that if we normalise breastfeeding in front of our children, then our children grow up believing that breastfeeding is normal. “Infant feeding is such an emotional topic. Many mums know that breastmilk is the normal baby food but a lot of mums stop breastfeeding before they want to. There is a lot of guilt around that situation. Encouraging mums to seek out support if they need it is great (and also whilst pregnant in advance of baby arriving), but I think society does have a responsibility to make that support accessible, and to coordinate a breastfeeding support strategy. There are countries out there who have turned around their breastfeeding rates dramatically so we could look to see what policies and practices worked for them and consider whether they would work for us.”

MATERNITYANDINFANT.IE Our website,, will be publishing weekly features on feeding issues and concerns for the months of March, April and May. Sign up for our weekly ezine and like us on Facebook ( maternityandinfant) to get all the latest news and features.

19/02/2016 13:42


Bottle Feeding


Mums may choose to formula feed for many reasons; if you do, it’s important to make sure you’re following the latest guidelines to keep your baby safe and healthy.

T NUK is a registered trademark of MAPA GmbH, Germany * For optimally combining bottle and breastfeeding. Moral et al. BMC Pediatrics 2010, 10:6. For further information go to

he World Health Organisation and the Department of Health and Children recommend that you breastfeed your baby exclusively for the first six months and then continue to breastfeed as you introduce weaning foods. However, a variety of reasons might result in you wanting to formula feed – in that case, make sure you are following the HSE’s latest guidelines to make every feed as safe as possible. Remember that powdered formula is not sterile, and therefore the following steps must be followed in order to kill any bacteria that could make your baby sick. Remember to wash your bottles thoroughly between feeds and sterilise in a steam steriliser or using a product like Milton.

✱ Boil fresh tap water in a kettle or covered saucepan. ✱ Cool the water for 30 minutes only; water above 70°C will kill any harmful bacteria that may be present in the formula. ✱ Clean the work surface well. Wash your hands with soap and warm water and dry. ✱ Read the instructions on the formula’s label carefully to find out how much water and powder you need. ✱ Pour the amount of boiled water you need into a sterile bottle. Add the exact amount of formula to the boiled water using the clean scoop provided. Reseal the packaging to protect it from germs and moisture. Adding too much or too little formula could make your baby sick. ✱ Screw the bottle lid tightly and shake well to mix the contents.

✱ To cool the feed quickly, hold the bottle under cold running water or place the bottle in a large bowl of cold water. Make sure that the cold water does not reach above the neck of the bottle. ✱ To check the feed is not too hot, shake the bottle and place a drop of liquid on the inside of the wrist – it should feel lukewarm, not hot. Feed your baby. ✱ Throw away any feed that your baby has not taken within two hours. If you baby is a slow feeder use a fresh feed after two hours. ✱ It is safest to prepare a fresh feed each time, and to give it to your baby straight away. However, if you need to prepare feeds in advance, make up individual bottles, cool them quickly and place in the back of the fridge (5°C or below). Throw away any feed that you have not used within 24 hours.

Fully satisfied without the tummy pains. Inspired by

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Helps prevent colic

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Helps to prevent colic thanks to improved vent:

the NUK First Choice+ Baby Bottle. Inspired by nature: the NUK First Choice+ Teat is modelled on a mother’s nipple as she breastfeeds and therefore optimal for everyone who wants to both bottle and breastfeed naturally. It has an extra-soft baglet which adapts perfectly to the palate and is particularly well accepted by infants – that is even clinically proven*. Its improved vent helps to ensure a natural flow of liquid, along with satisfied babies with no tummy pains. Find out more at

NUK. Understanding Life. 15/02/2016 16:56

19/02/2016 13:43

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MOTHERCARE MIDWIFE OF THE YEAR Now accepting nominations Log on to


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Product Guide to:


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19/02/2016 14:04


For the first-time mum-to-be contemplating breastfeeding, choosing a breast pump can be, frankly, bewildering. Here’s what to know…


ou’re pregnant and you’ve been reading up a storm on how best to care for your baby. All the literature has convinced you that breast is best and you’ve decided to definitely give breastfeeding a go – good for you. But while choosing a buggy seems logical and straightforward (we’re obviously talking before you’ve actually looked in a shop and come up against all the sales bumf about “smooth rides” and “all terrain”), looking at breast pumps can have even the most confident of mums to be clutching their boobs in fright and thinking of cows being milked in the shed. But in actual fact, breast pumps can be a useful piece of kit, allowing you to step away from your baby for a few hours, giving you a bit of a life back and your baby used to being around other people. Here we answer some of the common questions about breast pumps, and recommend some great models and accessories overleaf…

When should I buy a pump? The good news is, experts recommend that you don’t pump immediately (unless, obviously, there’s a medical reason, in which case your midwife can advise you on the best pump to choose). It takes a few days for your milk to come in, and longer for your supply to get established. Ideally you should wait six weeks to get your baby used to breastfeeding and for a feeding rhythm to be established before reaching for the pump. Also, breastfeeding doesn’t work out for everybody, so don’t invest in an expensive pump until you know you will use it. Instead, read up on the different types, know your preference and get it when you need it. Before we get into the different types of breast pumps, remember that every mother will have her own preference. If one doesn’t work for you, don’t assume you can’t pump. Instead, get advice from your local breastfeeding class and try a different type.

What is a manual breast pump? A manual breast pump is probably the most simple type of pump, and is good if you’re an occasional pumper. The suction cup goes over your breast and you squeeze the handle to create a vacuum that stimulates the milk flow. Manual pumps can take some getting used to, but as they most closely resemble a baby’s sucking action, they can feel a little more natural than an electric pump. They are generally lighter and cheaper too, and as there is no motor noise, your baby

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can feed from one breast while you pump the other. You can also control the suction, which means a manual pump may be more comfortable than an electric one.

What is an electric pump? Some mums find that electric pumps are easier than manual pumps, because when you place the cup on your breast and turn it on, effectively the pump then does the work for you. Generally speaking, an electric pump allows you to extract more milk in less time, which is useful when you’re busy – or perhaps even if you’re back in work. Models range from simple one-breast pumps to more expensive products that may boast such features as a double-pumping action (to allow you pump both breasts at once) or adjusted suction levels. Electric pumps are not without their downsides, however; they tend not to be as portable as manual models and can be noisy and cumbersome.

How do I find the right pump for me? Firstly, do your research and ask friends who have used pumps for advice and recommendations. Every pump has its advantages and disadvantages, so what suits someone mightn’t suit you. Think about your budget, how often you need to express and where/when you will express. If you want to express while out and about, a manual pump might be the most portable option (it’s also generally the cheapest, so if you’re planning on breastfeeding with a pump only the odd time, a manual might be the best option).

“Remember that every mother will have her own preference. If one doesn’t work for you, don’t assume you can’t pump. Instead, get advice from your local breastfeeding class and try a different type.”

However, if you want to start pumping because you’re returning to work, then time is of the essence and a single or dual electric pump might be the most efficient. If you need to express a lot and often, a hospital-grade pump might be the best option – as these can be hugely expensive, renting one might be best – see www.medicare. ie.

Can I buy a secondhand pump? It’s not recommended that you borrow or buy a secondhand pump, simply because most commercial consumer pumps use an “open” system. This means that the diaphragm of the pump motor can come into contact with milk particles. The diaphragm cannot be removed or sterilized effectively, so even with a brand-new accessory kit, your milk can come into contact with the previous mum’s milk particles. Mold can also grow in the tubing. Hospital-grade pumps operate on a “closed” system, meaning there is a barrier between the pump tubing and the breast shield. This also ensures that the expressed milk is protected from impurities in the air. A closed-system pump was designed so it could be used by multiple mums. Many consumer pumps now have a closed system; however, unless specified by the manufacturer, these should not be shared with or passed on to other mothers.

What features should I look for? Again, this depends on your needs. First, look at the cycle time. A nursing baby sucks approximately 45 to 55 times each minute, and the closer a pump is to this range the more effective it will be. Anything below a cycle of about 25 will be slow and could cause pain, as the breast will be manipulated more than necessary. Look for an adjustable vacuum that will allow you to change the settings to suit you. A double pump means that you can cut pumping time in half; it also boosts milk production by emptying both breasts, so is ideal for mums expressing for premature babies or exclusively expressing. If portability is an issue, you might want a model that has the option to be run on batteries in case there’s no electrical outlet (but don’t go for a battery only model, as batteries can waste easily and the pump can be inefficient). Finally, make sure that you’re comfortable with using, cleaning and assembling your chosen model. Talk to other breastfeeding mums in your class or in your circle of friends for advice.

19/02/2016 14:04


Breast Pumps: OUR TOP PICKS Confused by the choice in the shops? Here are some of the best pumps and breastfeeding accessories widely available in Irish shops nationwide

Simple manual

Top protection

Great support

Express feeding

NUK JOLIE MANUAL BREAST PUMP, €39.99 For sheer portability and value, you can’t beat a good manual model. Go for a reputed brand that will make expressing as easy as possible. The Nuk Jolie model features a soft, textured silicone cushion and a pleasant massage that encourages milk to flow.

PHILIPS AVENT NIPPLE PROTECTORS, €9.95 Nipple shields are a good idea if you’re experiencing discomfort. Avent Nipple Protectors are made with soft, tasteless silicone, and protect sore or cracked nipples, allowing you to feed your baby for longer. Plus their unique shape means there is still that skin contact between you and your baby.

SUMMER INFANT BODY SUPPORT PILLOW, €55, LITTLEWOODS IRELAND A nursing pillow is a great aid if your arms tend to ache during a feed. The curve of this lightweight pillow can be adjusted to support the baby’s head while the base acts as a cosy mattress. It’s even long enough so the pillow can be used as a sleeping aid for mums too!

TOMMY TIPPEE EXPRESS AND GO POUCH BOTTLE, €9.95 There are plenty of storage solutions for expressed breastmilk on the market, but for sheer efficiency, this Tommy Tippee pouch bottle is a great option. The bottle comes with the brand’s Closer to Nature teat, while the clear sides allows you to see exactly how much milk your baby has drunk.

Going electric INNOSENSE ELECTRIC BREAST PUMP, €79.95, MOTHERCARE There is a wide range of electric pumps currently on the market, but we like Mothercare’s Innosense model, which features a three positional funnel to allow you to personalize your own comfortable expressing position. It can also be battery or mains powered, so it’s perfect for using on the go.

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Care & soothe LANSINOH HPA LANOLIN OINTMENT, €11.99 Lansinoh cream is quite simply a must-have for every hospital bag. It has been specially developed to help soothe and protect sore, cracked nipples in breastfeeding mothers. Even better, it’s completely natural and tasteless, and doesn’t need to be removed before breastfeeding.

Nursing essential BRAVADO DESIGNS BODY SILK SEAMLESS WHITE BLUSH NURSING BRA, €47.95, WWW.BRAVADODESIGNS.COM he Bravado seamless nursing bra gives mums the ultimate in comfort and versatility. The cups completely drop away, which allows maximum skin-to-skin contact. Plus it can be transformed into a regular bra once breastfeeding is done.

Double trouble MEDELA FREESTYLE DOUBLE ELECTRICAL PUMP, €329.99 If you are exclusively expressing or need super-quick expressing, then a double pump is an excellent idea. Medela is the brand behind the hospital-grade pumps available to rent from Medicare, but if you want your own, then the Freestyle is available from Amazon and Mothercare.

19/02/2016 14:04



COMMENTS Now a mum of three (congratulations Cliodna!), NUK Ireland breastfeeding advisor CLIODNA GILROY remembers another important part of breastfeeding – to not let other people’s remarks get you down…


ince my last article I have become a mother of three. I am happy to report that all ‘unfortunate’ veins are back where they should be and my maternity clothes are gone, never to be seen again (fingers crossed). To my great relief my new baby girl latched straightaway and is a great feeder so we don’t have the drama that I had in the first 11 weeks of motherhood when my son would not latch and I had to set up Dublin Dairies expressing bottles on a regular basis. It has occurred to me though that this is the first time in the two years of writing these articles that I am feeding a newborn baby rather than drawing on memories of my son or older daughter. Very often I talk about support and joining groups, talking to your public health nurse and finding other breastfeeding mothers in your area to help ensure that you and your baby have a successful breastfeeding experience. I still think this is essential but it is also important to get that support from home and to not let any remarks lead you to doubt yourself. I would say that my friends and family have all been very supportive of my choice to breastfeed all of my babies. Many of my peers made the same choice, and my parents and relatives of that generation are very comfortable and don’t expect me to leave the room to breastfeed. That being said, I have noticed a few comments that start with ‘I suppose the trouble with breastfeeding is…’ When I hear these comments now it rings a bell and I remember hearing it with my other two children. ‘I suppose the trouble with breastfeeding is do you know how much the baby is getting?’ was a

question I remember my mother asking me. My answer was ‘he gets a boob full’ and to be honest, while I was being smart, it’s a fairly accurate answer. The challenge of breastfeeding it that you don’t see the ounces doing down on the bottle markers so you have to have a little faith that you are making what your baby needs and once the baby is growing, weeing and poohing then you’re doing great and your baby is getting enough. Another gem is ‘I guess the trouble with breastfeeding is the baby is very clingy to you’, a comment made by a friend a couple of weeks ago when my baby was six weeks old and got fussy in her arms. Babies, no matter how they are fed, want their Mammy. We are the most important person to them. They spend more time with their mother than anyone else and we are the person who mostly feed them, comfort them and tend to all of their needs. Of course a baby’s mother will be more equipped to settle their crying baby, weather that be breastfeeding, rocking them or singing to them. Very often these comments are meant well and from a good place so try not to take it too personally and have faith that you are doing a great job and also doing the best for your baby. Make sure that all your loved ones know you plan to breastfeed and that you want their support. If you can, express a bottle every now and then so that extended family can get some time to feed your baby and also it gives you time to yourself, to do the glamourous things like bring my son to swimming lessons or my daughter to doctors appointments, ah the fabulous life of the mother of three!!!

“Very often these comments are meant well and from a good place so try not to take it too personally and have faith that you are doing a great job and also doing the best for your baby.”

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19/02/2016 13:27


The Art of

Weaning Want a definitive guide to weaning? Dr Pixie McKenna, an Irish-trained doctor and currently a GP on Harley Street, and a mum herself, has just published her own guide to weaning, the first of a series of books on children and nutrition/ health. Here she chats about the current thinking behind weaning rules and the three stages every baby must go through when taking to solids.

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he ultimate aim of weaning is to provide adequate nutrition and energy for your child, something he won’t get from mother’s milk or formula alone beyond six months. Weaning also plays an important role in the development of the muscles of mastication. These are the chewing muscles, which will help when the time comes for your little one to utter a few words. Weaning means a baby can experience new tastes and textures and develop social skills. The process fosters independence and makes your child feel like he belongs when he sits down and enjoys family food. Delaying weaning beyond six months may give rise to delays in the progression to solids and can have an impact on speech development. Nutritionally, the child may also miss out, with iron deficiency being a big concern in a late weaner. There is also a greater possibility of the child being a fussy eater if weaned late. But again, every child is different. Premature babies usually need to be weaned later than full-term babies to ensure they are ready for solids. Equally, children with cystic fibrosis have a high calorie demand and normally end up weaning earlier.

When should you start weaning? Almost two decades ago it was normal to consider weaning at four months. However, in 2001, the World Health Organisation issued new guidelines stating that weaning should start at six months. The advice was that exclusive breast-feeding was adequate for all your baby’s nutritional needs up this point. It’s no wonder people are confused. Many parents would themselves have been weaned at four months and there is still baby food to cater for this age group on our supermarket shelves. The one firm rule is that you must not introduce your baby to first foods before 17 weeks.

Stage One While you may be bursting with enthusiasm, don’t expect to get the same sentiment back from baby. You may be met with a disgruntled face and showered in spit. This stage is more about getting started than getting calories in. Remember you will still be breast- or bottlefeeding as normal until baby gets into her stride with solids. The first solids should be something savoury, not sweet. Baby rice is another option if you don’t want to puree. Week one is an experimental week so keep the milk feeds as normal. Offer the first solids in the early evening and aim to offer them in the middle of the feed, as baby isn’t going to opt for solids if she’s starving or full following a feed. Aim to introduce a new solid every two to three days. If she doesn’t seem to like it on the first offering remember it can take 10-15 attempts before she decides it’s palatable. In week one expect her to

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WHO AM I? About Dr Pixie McKenna Dr Pixie McKenna trained as a GP in Ireland, and found fame as one of the doctors on the hit Channel 4 series Embarrassing Bodies. Most recently, she appeared in RTÉ’s You Should Really See a Doctor. She is now a GP in Harley Street, London. Pixie is mum to a young child, and has combined her own personal experience with her medical background to write First Foods, which is the first book in a series of three. First Foods is published by Igloo Books and is full of beautiful recipes for every stage of weaning.

take one to six teaspoonfuls per meal. If you find by week three that your baby is managing three sittings of solid food per day, it’s time to progress to stage two.

Stage Two At stage two we are stepping up from mush to mash. Get rid of the blender and instead hand mash with a fork for a lumpier texture. At this stage, baby begins not only to explore a greater variety of tastes and colours, but also to experience texture, flavour and food combinations. You can opt for stronger-tasting foods like broccoli and cauliflower and sharper fruits like kiwis and plums. At this stage you can also start

SIGNS TO LOOK OUT FOR: Your baby may be ready to begin weaning if he: ✱ CAN HOLD HIS HEAD UP. Your baby needs to be able to maintain an upright position in order to be able to swallow his food safely; ✱ HAS GAINED SUFFICIENT WEIGHT. As a guide, babies are often ready to be weaned when they have doubled their birth weight; ✱ MAKES CHEWING MOTIONS. If your baby starts to dribble less and can move food to the back of his mouth and swallow, he may be able to manage his first solid foods. If this skill has not been developed he will end up with more food around his mouth than in it; ✱ IS CURIOUS ABOUT WHAT YOU’RE EATING. Watching you eating your meals and reaching out to try foods you’re moving from your plate to your mouth is a key sign; ✱ HAS GOOD CO-ORDINATION. Especially for baby-led weaning it is important that he should be able to look at food, grab it and put it in his mouth, all by himself.

introducing finger foods. This can range from a rice cake to a cheese cube, just ensure they are soft enough for baby to chew or suck. You can also start adding soft cooked meat, pasta and rice to her repertoire. Aim for her to eat three lots of solids per day, reducing her milk feeds accordingly. You are ultimately trying to put a ceiling of 500-600ml on milk consumption. Remember, however, the aim is not to come off milk entirely at this stage, but rather to complement it with solids. When introducing foods with allergy potential, do it one at a time. These foods include wheat, egg, mustard, peanut, seafood, sesame seeds and tree nuts such as almonds or hazelnuts. Wait for 72 hours before you trial your baby with a further potential allergen. Signs of a reaction include rash, vomiting, breathing difficulties and diarrhoea. None of these foods should be introduced before six months of weaning.

Stage Three The aim at stage three is to provide variety and nutrition while expanding the textures and flavours offered. Food at this stage can have lumps and chunks. Baby can now start to eat mince and chopped meats like lamb or beef. Finger food can be upgraded from soft to hard, eg toast. By this stage she has also mastered the pincer grasp so is able to pick up smaller morsels. Take care when cutting up finger food to ensure it is cube shaped or baton shaped and avoid cutting things into coin shapes (eg slices of sausage) as this has a greater choking risk. You should be aiming to have baby eating three meals and two snacks a day by the end of this phase. This sounds like a lot, but she will be moving around a great deal more than previously so she needs more calories. When choosing foods, consider the iron content. This doesn’t have to just be red meat – dried fruit, eggs, cereal and green veg are also great resources. Remember, to access iron for absorption you also need vitamin C. Fruit and veg are great vitamin C resources – mango, melon, tomato, even the humble potato!

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Nil Mouth BY

From the moment you find out you’re pregnant you’re surrounded by rules – especially about what you put into your mouth! But what are the real facts? ANDREA MARA finds out…


lue cheese, undercooked steak and paté – just three of the foods to avoid in pregnancy. But what about smoked salmon, tuna, Parmesan and nuts? Depending on who is dishing out the advice, the answers may vary, and the anxious mum-to-be can find herself sticking to little more than toast for nine months. How do you decide what’s safe or not, and is there a risk that there’s too much emphasis on what not to eat? When I was expecting my first baby, I remember telling a friend that I found it confusing trying to work out what I could eat. “I know,” she said. “And you can’t even have ham or coleslaw – what do you eat for lunch at work?”

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This ban on ham and coleslaw was new to me, and after she left, I googled frantically. Some US sites did say to avoid deli meats and shop-bought coleslaw, whereas there was little or no mention on European sites. I decided to go with the latter, and stick to my daily sandwich. But it did highlight the confusion that surrounds pregnancy and eating. Elaine Fitzgerald was similarly frustrated when she was expecting her first baby last year. “I had some idea of what to avoid but it was anecdotal. I was surprised by the mixed messages and myths. One example is peanuts. I was told by some well-meaning folk not to eat them – I remember someone who seemed horrified that I was helping myself to the snacks at a party – so I researched and found it used to be on the restrictions list but has been removed. Runny egg was a big one, and probably the one that motivated me to do my own research. I’ve never had Salmonella and I love Eggs Florentine, so I wanted to understand why this was deemed a no-no.”

Finding answers Emily Oster, author of Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong – and What You Really Need to Know, had the same problem. “When I got pregnant, I found myself bombarded with the pregnancy ‘rules’, but a lot of them seemed to be impossible to understand. Worse, when I tried to get answers to my ‘why’ questions, none of them seemed to be based on evidence. I ultimately decided to go get the evidence myself – just for me. But then all of my friends were pregnant at the same time, and they all had the same questions. And I started to help them, and finally decided I’d put it all together in a book.” Part of the problem is that there are thousands of websites offering advice, and it’s often conflicting. Even if you decide to stick to reputable sites like and, there are inconsistencies. For example, as Elaine discovered, pregnant women are told to cook eggs through, in order to avoid Salmonella – bacteria found in raw eggs. However, where the HSE website says Salmonella can harm the unborn baby and interfere with its normal development, the NHS website states that while Salmonella food poisoning can cause severe diarrhoea and vomiting, it’s unlikely to harm your baby. GP Deborah Martin explains the perceived discrepancy. “Eggs should be cooked through to avoid salmonella, as it may cause severe diarrhoea and vomiting, which in turn could harm the baby by virtue of the mother being dehydrated and unwell. Pregnancy is an immune-compromised state, so your immune system isn’t as strong as usual, and you are at increased risk of illnesses that you would nor-

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Avoid foods that contain high levels of vitamin A – this is harmful to the development of your baby’s neurological system. Examples include liver, liver paté, cod- or any fish-liver oil tablets, or multivitamins containing vitamin A. Mould-ripened cheese and blue-veined cheese should always be avoided - soft cheeses generally have a higher water content which make them a perfect place for bacteria such as Listeria to grow. Other cheeses that have been pasteurised are generally safe to eat, so some “soft” cheeses are OK, such as Mozzarella, Feta, and cheese spreads. Meat, poultry and fish should be cooked through with no red or bloody meat visible, to avoid Toxoplasmosis which can be very harmful to the baby. Most fish and seafood is fine, as long as it’s well cooked. But you shouldn’t eat fish that have higher levels of mercury – swordfish, shark, and marlin – and you should limit your tuna intake to two tuna steaks, or four cans of tuna per week. Peanuts are safe, unless you or your partner has a history of peanut allergy.


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mally be able to fight off.” But ultimately, there is a distinction between foods that are prone to causing food poisoning, and foods that if contaminated, could specifically harm the baby. To make informed decisions, expectant mothers need to know the difference, and the information is not always available. Arguably, you could simply avoid every type of food on any given list for the duration of your pregnancy, but for most people, that’s not a realistic option. Certainly, avoiding blue cheese and undercooked meat is important – Listeria and Toxoplasmosis are dangerous for the baby – but for many other everyday foods, research and common sense are useful.

Confusion However, even doing that research can be challenging, as Elaine discovered. “I searched online a lot but never really found any specific website that I would recommend. So I searched for individual items, like ‘why is raw meat not recommended in pregnancy’ as opposed to a general search on foods to be avoided, because I wanted to understand the specifics and not just see lists.” Dr Martin agrees that it’s difficult. “Food rules during pregnancy is an area that I think many pregnant women find confusing, as there is quite a bit of conflicting advice out there, and certain rules that are ‘musts’ and others that are more general advice around healthy eating.” And could the information-overload be a problem in itself – is there a risk that if pregnant women are told “don’t eat this, don’t eat that” about almost every type of food, they’ll ignore all the advice, and possibly then make real mistakes? Emily Oster thinks so. “Yes, I do think there is a danger in creating so many rules that you cannot figure out which are real. The example I keep coming back to is smoking. Smoking during pregnancy is quite bad – there is a lot of evidence that it contributes to low birth weight and other complications. Of course, ‘Don’t smoke’ is one of the pregnancy rules. But it appears right there next to rules like ‘No Sushi’. And then every week there is another thing – no soft cheese, no deli meats, avoid particular vegetables this week, and so on. Eventually, it becomes too much. The worry is that women will throw away the baby with the bathwater – they’ll think that ‘Don’t Smoke’ is just like ‘No Sushi’ – and just ignore it. And that’s really dangerous.” So what should an expectant mother do? “Know the hard and fast rules,” says Dr. Martin (see panel). “And there is a great page on NHSChoices that I direct a lot of my patients to – ‘foods to avoid when pregnant’.” Beyond that, just be comfortable with your decisions. For some, that means following all the rules rather than worrying about perceived or real risks, and for others, that means doing research and making decisions based on evidence. “If you’re concerned and can’t find the answers that satisfy you, do what makes you comfortable,” agrees Elaine. “No point in having a packet of dry-roasted peanuts if it’s going to cause you stress afterwards! And take advice from well-meaning strangers with a pinch of salt. Not too much salt though, because it’s bad for you...”

19/02/2016 14:06



BABY MOON Couples holidaying together before the birth of their baby is becoming so popular that it’s now got a term of its own: babymoon. But is a babymoon really necessary or is it yet another marketing fad?


abymoon. Only a few short years ago we had never heard of such a thing. But the term has quickly found its way into the Oxford English dictionary, and is described as ‘a relaxing or romantic holiday taken by parents-to-be before their baby is born.’ And we have to say, is there a better excuse for a holiday or relaxing break than the fact that your life will never be the same? We don’t think so. While a new baby is of course a fantastic change in your life, a babymoon is a chance to take a step back and enjoy the time you have left as a couple before your family expands. Not only are babymoons a time to relax on the beach, in a spa, or by the pool but they are also a chance to bond with your partner about the birth of your baby and discuss the changes family life will bring. Communicating any worries or fears you have about the impending birth is an excellent way to start family life, because once baby arrives communication is key to a lasting happy relationship.

Welcome break Life goes on while you are pregnant. You and your partner continue to work and live, yet things are busier than ever thanks to hospital appointments and the sheer toll

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“Babymoons are a chance to bond with your partner about the birth of your baby and discuss the changes family life will bring. Communicating any worries or fears you have about the impending birth is an excellent way to start family life, because once baby arrives, communication is key to a lasting happy relationship�

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that pregnancy has on your body; fatigue, nausea, aches and pains are all part and parcel of pregnancy. And so babymoons are increasingly popular; more and more couples are choosing to take some time out and enjoy uninterrupted relaxation and bonding time with each other before the birth of their baby. We asked Bernadette Ryan, a counsellor with Relationships Ireland, what she thought of couples going on a babymoon: “I really like the idea of a couple tuning in together before the birth. Communicating with each other their joys, fears, what kind of parents they both want to be and what they want for their child’s future. “However, I do caution parents not to think a babymoon is something they have to do before the birth of their baby. If going on a babymoon suits you and your circumstances then go for it but if not, don’t put yourself under any additional pressure.  Go with the ideal of a babymoon and tune into each other. Try to go out on a few dates together because it will be a while before you will be able to do lots of things just as a couple.” Remember, a babymoon doesn’t have to be an exotic holiday, it can just as well be a day break to spa or a couple of nights in a hotel.

Things to consider If a babymoon is something you would like to do with your partner, there are a few things that you need to take into account. A survey

THE PRACTICALITIES AER LINGUS will allow pregnant passengers to travel up to 28 weeks. From week 29 to 33 you may fly with your doctor’s written permission, after that time you cannot fly with Aer Lingus. RYANAIR will also request a ‘Fit to Fly Form’ from your doctor from week 28 onwards. The form must be dated at least two weeks before your flight. However, they will allow uncomplicated pregnancies to travel until week 36. For uncomplicated multiple pregnancies, travel is not permitted beyond the end of the 32nd week of pregnancy.

carried out by found mums-tobe want to babymoon somewhere that’s quiet, great food, comfortable bed, lots of romance and treats, afternoon naps and fruity virgin drinks. Sounds like a slice of heaven! If you plan to go on a babymoon abroad, choose a destination that appeals to both of you but keep in mind to minimise travel time. Choose a location that won’t require too much effort and make sure to check there is a hospital nearby just in case. The second trimester is usually the most comfortable time to travel, nausea will most likely have subsided and you will experience a burst of energy. It is also the

safest time to travel. Health professionals recommend flying in weeks 18-24. Make sure to let your GP know you are planning to travel and remember to check if you need any vaccinations before travelling. Also, carry your GP’s or obstetrician’s contact details with you at all times. If you plan to travel in high summer, don’t go somewhere where the temperature soars. Extreme heat and pregnancy are not a good mix and anything over 25 degrees will most likely be uncomfortable for you. Keep really well hydrated in heat too. If you are planning a spa break for your babymoon, you should be aware of what you can and can’t do. For example, swimming in a pool is fine, but steam rooms, saunas and Jacuzzis are generally not recommended while you are pregnant. It is also recommended that you are past your first 12 weeks and your pregnancy is going well before getting a spa treatment. When you arrive for your treatment remember to tell your therapist that you are expecting and how far along you are. Many facials are suitable during pregnancy or can be modified for prenatal clients (some oils can not be used during pregnancy), but massage is usually the most popular choice for mums-to-be as well as the most useful to relieve some of those pregnancy ailments. Massage works the whole body but can also focus in on areas of need. Suitable treatments and massages can be given right up until your due date.

OVER TO YOU GILLIAN GRACE, MUM TO JAMES & ARCHIE, WENT ON AN IRISH BABYMOON A FEW MONTHS BEFORE THE BIRTH OF HER TWINS We always try to go away in late summer or early autumn but this year, because I was pregnant, we stayed at home and tied the break away with a visit from my partner’s brother. I was coming up to five months’ pregnant with twins when we went on our babymoon. For our babymoon we decided to stay local due to finances and flight restrictions due to complications during my pregnancy. Our babymoon was a chance to relax – anything away from work is general relaxation but we also did some sightseeing. Unfortunately, I fell ill on the second day, but we tried to keep doing some activities within reason. I think any dedicated time away from the mundane stresses of work and “normal” life helps but because I fell ill away from home and my team of doctors, it highlighted how vulnerable I was during my pregnancy and I took things much slower when I got home.

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ROB BATTIGAN, DAD TO HARRY AND EVE, WENT ABROAD WITH HIS PARTNER AMY WHEN SHE WAS FOUR MONTHS’ PREGNANT As our son, Harry, was due at the end of May, we felt that things would be hectic over the summer so going on a babymoon made perfect sense. My partner Amy was four months’ pregnant and over the nausea of the first trimester when we went on a babymoon for two weeks. Our first was spent in Barcelona and Madrid. For the second week we flew to the Canary Islands. During the first week we did lots of sightseeing, spending quality time together and eating out. The second week was complete relaxation. We read books by the pool, enjoyed beautiful meals out and went for long walks on the beach in the evenings. Most nights we were asleep by 11pm. Our babymoon provided us with an opportunity to get away and enjoy some quality time together before the madness really began but I don’t think a holiday of any kind can really prepare you for the birth of your child.

SALLY ANN JOYCE, MUM TO JAMIE, BELIEVES THAT A BABYMOON IS GOOD FOR TAKING TIME OUT FROM THE WORRIES OF LABOUR AND BIRTH Our babymoon was a chance for us to get away and get some quiet time in before baby arrived. As a couple we decided to go on a babymoon for complete relaxation but I think getting away as a couple at any time helps. We went three weeks before my due date to a hotel in Meath for proximity reasons (just in case). Unfortunately, although this hotel had a leisure centre it wasn’t entirely relaxing. Also, as it was midweek the hotel was very quiet and felt a little dead. Despite the issues, our babymoon was really lovely but when we went away for a night a couple of months after our baby was born it was even nicer because we remembered exactly what it was like when it was just the two of us and that’s really important. I don’t think going on a babymoon prepared us for the birth but it was nice to have time out from the thoughts of labour and all the worries that come before you get to meet your baby.

19/02/2016 13:18




Sounds like just a cute pastime, but tummy time actually has a very serious role to play in your baby’s development. Here’s all you need to know…


What is tummy time?

Tummy time is quite simply the act of putting your baby down on his/her belly for a period of time each day. It’s essential to encourage tummy time from as early an age as possible, even if your baby isn’t overly enthusiastic about it. The reason is that tummy time helps your baby develop essential motor skills like pushing up, rolling over, sitting up, crawling and pulling to a stand. Experts have found that babies who don’t get regular tummy time often experience delays in reaching these milestones.


Why is it important? Up until the 1990s, when

experts began encouraging parents to put their babies to sleep on their backs to help prevent sudden infant death syndrome, babies generally lay on their tummies to sleep, so tummy time wasn’t an issue. But now that babies sleep on their backs and spend most of their waking lives also sitting in car seats, rockers etc, scheduling in tummy time sessions had become vital to help babies develop these motor skills.


key is to keep it simple. Put a clean blanket or mat on the floor and place your baby on his stomach. Get down on the floor and play with him. As he gets older and more alert, put some toys in a small circle around him. As he reaches out for different toys, he’ll strengthen the muscles he’ll one day use to roll over, crawl and cruise. At this stage, tummy time sessions can be longer in duration. If your older baby is reluctant to crawl, place a toy slightly out of your baby’s reach during tummy time, therefore encouraging him to move forwards to get the toy.


How can I incorporate tummy time into other parts of the day? Tummy time doesn’t

mean just time on the floor. You can also lie down on the sofa and place your baby on her tummy on your chest. Babies love the comfort of lying on their parents’ tummies and staring up at their faces. Alternatively, add a little tummy time after changing her nappy, perhaps before putting on a new nappy (therefore giving her bum a little air time too to help guard against nappy rash), or when drying her after a bath. Placing your baby on her tummy can also help some babies with burping and with griping stomach pain. The main thing is to try new things with your baby to see what she likes, but at the same time, incorporate as much tummy time into her early days as possible.

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How can I prepare for tummy time? The


But what if my baby hates tummy

time? You’re not alone.

As babies now spend the vast majority of their time on their backs, being put on their tummies can feel uncomfortable and unfamiliar. At first, your baby won’t even have the strength to lift her head and might even feel abandoned. She might fuss or cry. That’s why it’s vital to choose the right time for some tummy play, eg not when they’re tired or hungry. Wait for an hour after eating to avoid any spit-ups. If your baby starts to fuss when she’s put on her tummy, talk or play with her to keep her there for longer. At first your baby might only be comfortable for a minute or two on her tummy. Try a couple of sessions a day and build up the time slowly.

19/02/2016 13:11


HEALING THROUGH Motherhood is a massive change for any woman, but thankfully there is lots of help out there – this issue we take a look at dramatherapy, which we promise isn’t as scary as it sounds!

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ecoming a mother is one of the biggest transitions a woman can make in her life, and like any big change, this can take some time and energy to process. But from the minute a newborn is placed on a woman’s chest, life speeds up – and all too often the woman is left behind while the responsibilities of being a mum take over. In addition, the rhetoric around motherhood is always overwhelmingly positive. We’re expected to be ecstatic with our tiny newborns, and while of course being a mother is a privilege and a joy, it also brings its hardships – yet many women find it’s taboo to say if we’re not enjoying it as much as we think we should. Or if we want to be something as well as than a mum. If you’re reading this and nodding, you’re not alone. A straw poll of mums in our immediate world reveals that pretty much every mum feels like this at one time or another. The snag comes if you don’t have a safe outlet to express these feelings and get any help you need – what happens then? Thankfully there is a plethora of therapies out there that can help, and one extremely interesting option is dramatherapy. Practitioner Marianne Marcote tells us more: “Dramatherapy is one of the creative arts therapies, which includes art therapy, dance therapy and music therapy. It’s the intentional use of drama techniques to promote wellbeing and positive psychological change. It is a creative process that will help participants to gain a deeper understanding of themselves and process the emotions that need to be channelled.”

Time of change Dramatherapy can be useful in pregnancy as well as beyond the birth. “Pregnancy is a time of change, and it’s a journey into the unknown,” explains Marianne. “From my own experience, you get a lot of physical care during pregnancy, but there was very little that looked at your mental and psychological wellbeing. Then when the baby is born, there’s a lot of emphasis on the baby and the baby’s wellbeing, and in a way, the mother is pushed a little aside, with very little emphasis on the psychological change that the mother has been through. “In terms of pregnancy, dramatherapy provides a space in which the mum to be can explore any worries she might have and what her expectations are. As women, we are transitioning from one role to another, and the dramatic form can really help explore this – the dreams, the aspirations, the fears and so on.”

Creating a space Dramatherapy can be done on a one-to one basis, but Marianne explains that a group setting

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WHAT ARE .... THE CREATIVE ARTS THERAPIES? According to the Irish Association of Creative Arts Therapists, creative arts therapies are: ✱ the planned and creative use of art, dance movement, drama or music to accomplish individualised clinical goals by a qualified Creative Arts Therapist. ✱ evidence-based health professions with a strong research foundation that actively apply supportive science to the creative, emotional, and energising experiences of art, dance movement, drama and music for the benefit of individuals. To find out more, or to locate a therapist in your area, log on to

is usual, and this has advantages too. “Working in groups is one of the strengths of creative therapies as it promotes a sense of community. The groups are closed, so you might have six or eight sessions but it’s always with the same women. Therefore trust is built and women feel they’re in a safe place and can express things like ‘I’m finding motherhood difficult but this should be the happiest time of my life!’ It’s a common feeling but we can feel ashamed of thinking that way and therefore don’t share it and the feelings tend to build up.” The key is to create the safe space in which women can express themselves. “The courses I facilitate provide a therapeutic and confidential space where women are prioritised, supported and valued, so that they can express and explore in a creative way both the challenges and joys of being both mother and woman. We look at ways of building up resilience, reconnecting with our bodies and easing off the anxiety when it hits hard. We do this through soothing activities, such as mindfulness, breathing techniques and body movement, but also through fun games, creating images with objects, dance and exploring different characters from myths and stories. Ultimately, the course provides a space for mothers to deeply nurture themselves by creatively exploring and re-finding their

own voice, and meaningful time to reconnect with their needs, which as mothers we often forget.”

No performance necessary The word “drama” can strike immense fear into many people, with memories of having to get up on stage in front of your class in school and sing, whether you have a voice or not – but Marianne explains that dramatherapy is nothing like that. “That’s actually a point we need to get across. It’s nothing to do with performance; rather, we use theatrical processes to achieve psychological change. Theatre processes are incredibly healing; in fact, healing and psychological started in theatre in ancient Greece through their rituals. Dramatherapy is a balance of the two worlds between psychotherapy and drama. “An example of an activity we might explore during the sessions is the drawing on paper of your own Personal Mandala. A mandala is a circle divided into different sections, each section corresponding to one part of yourself. The guided creation of this image helps to reinforce and remind you of your supports, your strengths, your values and skills; you will write those supportive words within the mandala before colouring it, creating a holistic image of yourself, a quick map that can guide you when you need support. The visual quality of the Personal Mandala also works as a soothing and balancing aid.” Think this is something new? Think again – creative arts therapies have been around in Ireland for decades, but not that many people know about their benefits. “Creative arts therapies have been around for many years,” says Marianne. “This year is actually the 30th anniversary of the Irish Association of Creative Therapies – and it really works, but not a lot of people know about it. The message really is to go and try it, because it’s hard to describe what it is unless you have experienced it. Every woman that I have seen has got a lot out of the sessions.” Marianne Marcote MA is a Dramatherapist and an executive council member of IACAT (Irish Association of Creative Arts Therapies). She facilitates workshops and courses at Oscailt Integrative Arts Centre. Contact:

FORTHCOMING COURSES: MOTHERHOOD — A JOURNEY OF PERSONAL TRANSFORMATION — four-week course for mothers with stress and anxiety. Next start: April 5th . PREGNANCY — AN EMOTIONAL JOURNEY OF TRANSFORMATION — four-week course to reinforce resilience, supports and process change in pregnancy. Ideal during the last trimester. Participants are welcome to rejoin after birth with their babies. Next start: April 8th

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Childcare One of the biggest decisions a parent has to make following the birth of a child is choosing the method of childcare once maternity leave ends. We talk to four mums about why they chose their particular model of childcare and ask for their tips in making the choice.

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hen you’re pregnant and working, maternity leave can seem like an age away – and in the hard slog of late pregnancy, you mightn’t be able to think beyond childbirth and the first few months. But seasoned parents will tell you that those six months of maternity leave can flash by – and at the end of it, if you’re returning to work, you need to have some sort of childcare plan in place. These experienced mums will also tell you that doing your research while you’re still pregnant (preferably in the energy-filled second trimester) will give you peace of mind that can’t be beaten. “One of the best things I did when pregnant on my first baby was look into childcare from early on,” says Maria, mum to twins Sarah and Jack, 2. “I knew I had to go back to work after six months and I had to go for a full-time commercial childcare option, as I live too far away from family. Because of the low ratio of three babies to every staff member in crèche baby rooms, it can be difficult to get a place in a crèche – never mind two places, as I have twins – so I decided to go for a childminder. Being able to take my time in looking for the right person, and doing a few trial afternoons towards the end of my maternity leave made the transition back to work so much easier.” The other issue is the cost of childcare – there is no disputing that childcare in Ireland is expensive and we have yet to benefit from any government propositions on making options more affordable for working parents. Costs differ across the country, but you can expect to pay somewhere in the region of €1,000 per child

for full-time childcare. Discounts can apply for multiple children, plus there are obvious discounts for the pre-school years and for school time, but if you’re in full-time employment, you can expect to have fairly hefty childcare costs for your children until they can care for themselves. So how do you choose? The first step is to look at your salary and the cost of childcare in your area. You may find that it’s not worth you returning to work at all, or for your partner to take over childcare when you go back to work. However, remember that costs go down when your child reaches pre-school age, and when you take into account promotions and incremental salary raises, you may find that after a year or two of little profit from working you’re in the black again. Or you may like working and want to continue – it’s really about what you’re most comfortable with. In any case, if you have decided to return to work, you must have some sort of childcare in place. The most common options are a childminder or crèche, but if it’s a case of needing more casual help, an au pair might be a good option. For older kids, after-school clubs might be appropriate. Whatever your thoughts are, our advice is to start early, do your research, check your chosen childcare’s credentials and continually assess your childcare to make sure it’s working out for you and your child. Here we chat with four mums who have each chosen a different type of childcare for their families, and ask them how they made their choice, whether they are happy with it, and for their tips on choosing childcare.

CHILDMINDER “Jamie gets one to one care and the hours are much more flexible than a crèche” AUDREY GRIFFIN IS MUM TO JAMIE, 3, AND CHOSE A CHILDMINDER FOR HER YOUNG DAUGHTER. When returning to work following maternity leave, I did extensive research into what type of service could provide our daughter Jamie with the best possible care. I work full-time as a consultant leaving at 6:45am and often not returning until after 6pm. Not many crèches open in Meath before 7am so that ruled them out.  My partner knew of a lady who had been a nanny in Michigan for 20 years living locally. I rang and arranged a meeting in her house. The sense of relief that I was happy for this lady to care for Jamie was instantaneous. Fast forward three years and Jamie is part of her family, she gets one to one care and the hours are much more flexible that a crèche. She provides stimulating activities and Jamie always runs to her happily every morning. One downside to choosing a childminder is the lack of social stimulation with other children. This year I enrolled Jamie in a Montessori for two mornings a week so now our daughter has the best of both worlds. I would advise anyone to weigh up the pros and cons of childcare providers by researching online forums and visiting your local childcare committee website.  Go with your gut and choose a service that suits your situation. Ask around locally, or place ads in your local stores. There may be a childminder right on your doorstop who can provide a caring and loving home-from-home environment and will be part of your child’s development right through their childhood.

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“I would advise anyone to weigh up the pros and cons of childcare providers by researching online forums. Go with your gut and choose a service that suits your situation”


afterschool club”

“Being with an older group of kids than her sisters is an experience Maeve enjoys in her

MICHELLE CURRY IS MUM TO THREE GIRLS – MAEVE, 6, EVELYN, 4, AND DERBHLA, 2 – AND DISCUSSES THE PROS AND CONS OF AFTER-SCHOOL CARE FOR HER ELDEST CHILD. I work a four-day week, and chose a crèche for our three daughters. However, challenges arose when our eldest started school. We chose an afterschool club in our home town – they collect her from school and provide a snack. Activities include art, baking, music, outside play, homework (from 1st class) and Friday pizza and movie! Being with an older group of kids than her sisters is an experience she enjoys. Commuting is a challenge. The school drop-off limits how early we can start and therefore finish work. The afterschool club closes at 6.15pm regardless of traffic / weather and we commute along the M50 and N4. They do offer morning drop-offs but so far we prefer to drop her in ourselves. My advice for using afterschool care would be to visit and make sure you feel happy with the premises and the staff. Get recommendations from other parents if possible. Check opening hours and policies on care over summer / midterms / Christmas / days off. I feel that the afterschool club and crèche work out better for all three girls giving them outside friends and activities suited to their ages.

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AU PAIR “For someone looking for another pair of hands to help out with the children, an au pair can be a great option” TRIONA WHELAN KELTER HAS TWO CHILDREN, TADHG, 6, AND CLARA, 5. SHE DECIDED TO TAKE ON AN AU PAIR WHEN HER HUSBAND HAD TO SPEND A YEAR WORKING IN EUROPE. Both of our children are in primary school

and I work part time while they are in school. I had never needed childcare before due to my working hours bar school holidays, and between summer camps and my parents helping out the odd day we always managed fine. However, my husband was offered a job that would mean a 12-month secondment to Europe. It was a good opportunity for him but I knew that it would have to work for us as a family. So the best option for me was an au pair. I needed someone to be flexible and not stuck to the strict hours of work. And as the children are in school she would be free most days and I’m here too after school. But I needed to know that I could go for a run, meet a friend for a coffee or get to the shops without it being an ordeal to have someone come to mind the children. I chose a woman in her late 20’s who I felt I would get along with because after all, I have to live with her too. And I felt that at 27 she would be mature enough to be left to look after the children. I spent a few weeks chatting to her via Facebook Messenger so I could get to know her and then we “met” via Skype. It works out well for us as she is here in the afternoons should I want to go for a run or meet a friend and to babysit when my husband comes home every second weekend. The downsides are that you always have someone in your home. I had been told that lots of people don’t like this so I was expecting a period of adjustment, but luckily I have never found it to be an imposition. She helps out with the housework and laundry too so it frees up some of my time. An au pair is really only suited to families with school-going children as they are not there to be full-time childminders, but for someone looking for another pair of hands to help out with the children, they can be a great option.

CRECHE “The structured approach to the day in crèche really appealed to me” JILLIAN GUEST-BARDEN IS MUM TO SEAN, 4, AND LIAM, 1, AND BELIEVED A CRÈCHE WAS THE BEST OPTION FOR HER FAMILY. As my pregnancy on

our son Sean was high-risk and all our focus on his safe delivery, we thought about childcare later compared to most people. When I accepted that I would indeed have to return to work (always the plan!), we began to discuss childcare options. I had thought about a childminder but given that we did not know anyone using one or any childminders I dismissed it as an option. As my sisters had always used a crèche for their children and had positive experiences, we decided to review crèches. One of the main considerations for us was that at the time, we were both working in a local manufacturing facility with an 8am start time. The local crèche opened at 7.30am and had a breakfast club, so we were able to get the kids out without rushing breakfast. The crèche had a small baby room, which meant that there was only three babies to the minder, and each age group had its own room. The structured approach to the day really appealed to me – from the first day, Sean had the same sleep and feeding cycle as at home (perhaps better!). I love that the kids spent so much of their day doing activities or being outside in the play area as weather permitted. Working 8 to 5 all week can often leave little quality time in the evening with the children, so knowing that the kids had gotten to do some ‘fun’ stuff each day helps lessen the guilt. I also enjoy reading their crèche books in the evening detailing their day; so while I wasn’t with them I know what they ate and slept and what activities they participated in during the day. Whether crèche suits all children or not is a difficult argument. My personal opinion is that children enjoy routine and like some predictability to their day and I believe the crèche offers this. Over the years I’ve seen the most upset newbies settle into the crèche within a couple of days regardless of their previous routines. The staff and management of the crèche have become a huge part of our life and I know they love and care for our boys. The fact that the my boys smile and are happy going in each morning tells me that we made the right choice in choosing Treasure Island crèche to look after our children.

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FUN! Any parents will school-going children will know all too well that the Easter holidays this year are incredibly long – three weeks for most kids! What to do with all that time? Here are some ideas...


ummer, we’re prepared for. Sports camps, holidays, visits to relatives – with a bit of organisation, the months of July and August are easily taken care of. The school holidays during the year are fairly easily taken care of too – a week or two here and there can be filled with enough activity to prevent the inevitable meltdowns and the cries of ‘I’m bored!’. But this Easter is different – the holidays are an unprecedented three weeks long, thanks to Easter being so early. There are lots of camps available if you have the cash or need them minded outside the home. But if you’re planning on keeping them at home, then three weeks can feel like a long time to fill. With a bit of thought and organisation, however, those three weeks can whizz by in a flurry of fun and laughter. Here are some ideas to get you started...

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FUN THINGS TO DO .... Need to get out of the house? Here are some of our favourite activities and events over the Easter holidays this year. Check out the weekly event guide on for more! Egg-cellent fun at Greenan Maze Greenan Maze, near Rathdrum, Co Wicklow, is hosting an Eggstra Wild Easter Celebration this Easter. The Easter Bunny is your host on the scheduled Easter egg hunts, treasure hunts, wild nature trails, feeding animals and watching baby chicks hatch, arts and crafts, face painting and fairy tree walks. On Easter Sunday there’s free Egg Hunts for the bigger kids in the half-acre hedge Maze at the Eggstra Wild Egg Hunt and for the smaller tots in the Solstice Maze. Plus there’s free face painting and arts and crafts on Easter Sunday. And every day during the holidays there are free treasure hunts and nature trails. For admission times and prices, log on to

Visual arts at The Ark The Ark has a packed schedule for the whole of the Easter holidays. Our pick of the excellent line-up is a fun visual arts workshop led by Bethan Parkes aimed at kids aged between two and four. A mysterious treasure chest has been found, and inside are some magical things that are clearly from a very strange faraway land! Work with your toddler on making your own (simple) characters and props that live in the magical land using coloured papers, fabric, stickers, feathers and more. This workshop takes place on Sat 28th March, Thurs 2nd & 9th and Sat 25th April. Tickets cost €11/€8 20% off for Family Ark Members. See www. for more.

Heritage fun One of the stand-out offerings if you’re looking for a short family break this Easter is at The Heritage Killenard, which is offering a family holiday package consisting of three nights’ luxury accommodation, with breakfast each morning and dinner on one evening in the Arlington Restaurant. The Kids Fun Club also returns this Easter with plenty of activities to enjoy, including baking with Philip, the head pastry chef, and gardening with head gardener Bernard. The family holiday package starts from €356 per adult sharing, and the Easter Kids Fun Club runs from Monday 21st March to Friday 1st April. See www.theheritage. com for more.

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Family break in Cork

Chocolate fun

Also running an Easter Kids Club is Castlemartyr Resort in Cork, which is offering a two-night luxurious family break, including a full Irish breakfast on both mornings and dinner on one night in family favourite Franchini’s, starting at €238 per night for a family of two adults and one child. Then on Easter Sunday, join in the hunt for chocolate eggs and surprises on the annual Castlemartyr Easter Egg hunt. For mor information, call 021 421 9000 or visit www.

Not had enough chocolate? Then head over to Merrion Square on Easter Saturday 4th April for the Cadbury Easter Egg Trail for Barnardos. Along with the obligatory chocolate treats, families can enjoy an afternoon of magic, disco hulahooping, face-painting, fun in the egg-citing new bubble garden and much more! Choose from the morning or the afternoon event; family tickets cost €20, with all proceeds going to Barnardos. Log on to to buy tickets or go to

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Learn some skills If like most families, your days are usually a whirl of activity, then having the time to teach your little ones some important life skills is a rare occurrence. Use the extra time at Easter to help your children learn age-appropriate skills like telling the time, tying shoe laces or dressing themselves. If you have a musical instrument at home, let them learn a few notes and perhaps a simple tune like Frere Jacques. Or if languages are something you’d like to encourage, draw a chart with the names of colours in circles in your chosen language and get your little one to paint the correct colour in each circle.

Easter crafts Easter is just made for arts and crafts, and our changeable weather means that you have plenty of opportunity to indulge in some creative play. Try making your own daffodils with painted paper and glue, or make fluffy bunnies and chicks with card and cotton wool. Paint some eggs with faces (this is a good opportunity to talk to very little ones about happy/sad/angry emotions). Go online for some clever Easter ideas; one of our favourite websites is, a blog set up by a UK mum that’s full of great crafty ideas for young children.

to look after, and will enjoy seeing the plants grow after some daily watering.

Build a fairy grotto There are loads of fairy gardens around the country – one of our favourite blogs www. has selected 15 of her favourite fairy trails in a February 2015 post – but why not try and replicate your own? Use a door from The Irish Fairy Door Company ( or make your own, and add in some small flowers, a stone garden, a pathway made out of a sliced cork, and even some glitter to make the garden extra special. Parents – make the experience more magical by leaving little clues and tokens occasionally by the door for your child to discover.

Organise an egg hunt Easter activities wouldn’t be complete without an egg hunt – but don’t feel as though this has to be a chocolate-only feast. Try collecting some hollow eggs (even the plastic containers from Kinder Surprises), and putting in little prizes, such as stickers or little toys. If you have children of different ages, try colourcoding the eggs – children under four collect yellow eggs, children between five and seven collect red eggs and so on. Or try hiding a few “special” eggs, which win the child a special prize like a colouring book. A map with clues (visual for small kids) can get them working as a team – try a series of clues to lead them to the big prize!

able weather, one minute it might be lashing but the next it could be beautiful sunshine. Pack a bag with dry socks and clean clothes and keep it in the car, so if you’re caught out, you have something dry to change into.

Set up shop Kids are fascinated by money, and they’re never too young to learn the value of money and the concept of using money to pay for items you might need. Brave parents use the weekly supermarket shop to introduce the value of money to their children; but if you have more than one child, just keeping the peace may be all you can handle during a Super Valu shop! This is where the genius of the play shop comes in. There are fancy wooden shops out there, but a good option is a DIY version with a table – or try the cardboard market stall, Skylta, from Ikea, which won’t break the bank at only €12. Toy money can be found at most cheap euro shops. Gather up some empty food packets from the kitchen and assign each item with a realistic price. Hours of fun!

Indoor picnic

Okay, so we know the weather is rubbish, but don’t let that stop you from getting out and about. Get the wellies on, invest in some waterproofs and get out there. And with our change-

Raining outside? So what! Plan an indoor picnic, complete with an indoor tent (a sheet over a couple of chairs will suffice). Get your kids involved in deciding what goes into the picnic basket and helping you prepare the food – bonus, even the fussiest of eaters will gladly tuck into sandwiches, veg sticks and homemade dips, and healthy bakes if they have helped make them. Invite the teddy bears and turn it into a very special teddy bears’ picnic. Let your kids design invitations for the bears and arrange some activities for them after eating the picnic. Even better, make sure some of the food has a teddy bear theme, eg honey biscuits and sandwiches in the shape of teddy bears.

Fun for a worthy cause

Outdoor events at Castlecomer

Animal magic this Easter

Families in Galway can support a very worthy charity while keeping their little ones entertained at the Hand in Hand Easter Monday family fun event at the Menlo Park Hotel. Highlights include a bouncy castle, face painting, game booths, egg hunts, Easter crafts and hilarious puppet show. Admission is €5 per child, and all proceeds go to Hand in Hand, a charity that gives much-needed practical support to families of children with cancer. No booking is required.

Bundle up the little ones and head to Castlecomer Discovery Park in Kilkenny, where Humpty Dumpty is making a guest appearance this Easter. Along with the Tree Top Walk Activities, which are open right through the Easter holidays, there is a hectic schedule of special events this Easter including an Easter trail with hand crafted eggs (€10 per family), the new Easter train (weekends only - €3 per person), boating (book in advance), Rosemarie Durr Pottery Easter sale and orienteering trails. Admission is €10; log on to for more.

Don’t forget a trip to Dublin Zoo at some stage over the holidays, which has a packed schedule of special events covering the full three weeks of holidays. Highlights include the annual Easter Treasure Trail, which will keep visitors of all ages entertained with clues hidden all around the zoo. There will also be a fun Easter train, face-painting and an Easter Bunny Hop Disco. A Spring Workshop runs on 8th and 9th April, in which kids aged between six and 12 can make their own ‘window box’ with spring flowers to take home. Log on to for more.

Get gardening Kids are naturally drawn to simple gardening (all that muck!), and springtime is the perfect time of the year to introduce them to growing their own plants and vegetables. Give them a corner of the garden to look after, or let them help you grow something from scratch. Even better, revisit your childhood by growing some mustard and cress in a little box – or give it an Easter flavour by growing some in empty egg shells decorated with a face (so the cress grows like “hair”). Children love having something

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Get out and about

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Keep ‘em


With Irish obesity rates hitting an all-time high, how can we boost our little ones’ activity levels? Mum-of-two PHOEBE DOYLE is on a mission to do just that…

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ike any parent, when I see the news about the declining health of our nation’s children, especially concerning weight gain and inactivity, I worry. As a fitness expert (and enthusiast) I feel I’ve always endeavoured to instil my passion for sports in my children – but I know they don’t play as actively as children in previous decades did. Take the summer holidays, for instance: When I was young, my brother and I would spend hours, make that days, dividing our tiny town garden into different sections for race tracks and bike courses. We were left to play outside for most of the weeks we had off school. This constant level of activity will not only have ensured we burned enough calories to eat as many ice creams as we could persuade our parents to buy us without gaining weight, it also made sure our bodies were gaining muscle tone, we were adding density to our growing bones, and our organs were getting the workout they needed too. Not forgetting, of course, the instant mood boost our hormones will have received from being engaged in activity – without knowing it, and whilst having enormous fun, we were helping our entire wellbeing stay on track for a healthy and happy childhood.

So, what’s the problem? We all know this anyway, right? That playing actively like this is good for children, and that failing to burn as many calories as we use will lead to weight gain and a less healthy life all round. But so many of us are not endeavouring to make sure our children are getting the activity levels they require. It should be easy. Toddlers don’t like to sit still – they wriggle from your grasp and want to be free. That’s tiring for us parents sometimes, but very good for kids. Toddlers naturally enjoy doing what is healthiest for them – being as active as possible. It’s therefore not in their nature to be as stationary as we’re raising them to be, so where are we going wrong? One problem lies in our busy lifestyles. Typically, both parents are working hard, often full-time and long hours. We collect our tots from childcare, and by the time we get home, we’re exhausted and so are they. So, what do we do? We turn to our trusty babysitters – the screen. With TVs in bedrooms, tablets and phones everywhere, it’s just so easy to have staring at a screen as default position for our little ones.

All in the balance Shockingly, a recent UK study found that children are watching TV or at a computer for an average of around five hours per day. Now, as a parent I know it would be a near impossibility to ditch all electronic devices and rewind to

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my childhood decade the Eighties. And would we want to? After all, technological advances are not bad per se. What we need to be mindful of, though, is striking the balance – allowing tablets etc, yet not breeding a dependency upon them. I want my children to grow up loving the feeling of fitness. To believe that being active is just a natural part of their everyday life. As someone who is keen on a target, I aim to get my children moving for a minimum of 60 minutes a day. This can be walking, running around at the park or an activity that they choose to do – such as dancing or football. Some experts say to try dividing a 60 minute goal into two, so have 30 minutes of structured activity, and 30 minutes of free play. This seems a sensible rough plan to follow: making sure you’re active together, whilst allowing them the freedom to use their imagination to play actively too.

Let’s go outside Going outside will instantly boost the likelihood of your child running, climbing, jumping and skipping – hence exercising! And you don’t need to live in the countryside to make the most of the great outdoors – get to the park, go out in the garden, wherever you like, as just being outside will give them (and you) a body and mind boost. Observational studies show that children are more active when playing with a similaraged peer too. So, don’t shy away from potentially tiring play dates; try to embrace them for their potential to improve fitness levels, as well as their skills in socialising.

MANAGING SCREEN TIME Children who watch too much television have disrupted sleep patterns, do less well in school, and have an increased risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes. Here’s how to take control: ✱ DON’T ALLOW TVS IN BEDROOMS ✱ HAVE DESIGNATED TV TIME – such as an hour before teatime, for instance ✱ EAT MEALS TOGETHER at a table, not in front of the TV ✱ IF THE TV IS JUST ON IN THE BACKGROUND – turn it off! ✱ RECORD PROGRAMMES THEY LIKE, and let them watch them, rather than having an endless stream of programming



LEAVE THE CAR Walk rather than drive for short distances. And even if it’s too far for young children to walk all the way, take a buggy for them to sit in from time to time to rest. Even just seeing you walking is a positive change. BE A GOOD ROLE MODEL This one is really important! Even when your child starts pre-school or school, you’re still the main educator, and children learn most through example. Make sure they see you enjoying being active often. Whether they know that you go to the gym, go running or cycling, go with you for walks in the countryside, or make the choice to get off the bus that one stop earlier, being a good influence will have a lifelong positive impact on you both. BE THE BOSS To limit sedentary time, don’t let your toddler spend too much time in strollers, car seats, and high chairs – no matter how much they crave them. All of these are go-tos for an easy life, but can keep kids from being active enough. WORK OUT TOGETHER If you have a workout routine that you do at home, try to include them too. If they learn at a young age that this is a normal part of daily life, they are more likely to incorporate exercise into their lives permanently. They’re bound to find it fun (or funny!) to see you jump and dance around, and doing it together will help you both to get healthier, all while having a good giggle together. FOLLOW THEIR INTERESTS I know from personal experience that this can be a tricky one. We all have a sport we love, or once did, and we feel that naturally our young ones will follow that path too. But they might not! Dig deep, swallow pride, and try and share their love and passion for whatever it is – from ballet to skateboarding, it’s all good!


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green GOING

It’s never too early to show your children how making small changes can make a big difference to the planet, writes DAWN GEDDES. After all, environmental factors will affect their future too…


Reduce your waste

e all know how important it is to go green, but as busy parents, being environmentally friendly is often the last thing on our neverending to-do list! But becoming a green parent doesn’t have to be time consuming; there are plenty of small things that you can do that will make a big impact on the environment. Even better, why not take on some of these eco-friendly challenges with your little one and help save the planet together?

It’s estimated that we waste around worth of food in Ireland every year. Working out your meals in advance and putting together a shopping list that will cover your family’s needs is a fantastic way of avoiding food waste – and saving money. Get your child involved by doing a stocktake beforehand and coming up with new and inventive recipes to use up old ingredients. If, after all your efforts, you still end up with some food waste, don’t fret, make compost instead! Making a compost heap is a brilliant way of teaching your children about the food cycle as they can see how food decomposes for themselves. Any compost you produce can be used to make your very own environmentally friendly vegetable patch down the line!

Recycle, recycle, recycle

Ditch the plastic Plastic is a real problem for the environment. It takes around 450 years to decompose one single plastic bottle and yet our children’s toy cupboards are full of the stuff! Try to choose wooden toys whenever possible. Not only are they are battery and chemical free, they are more durable, compose better and help your child to develop their imagination through play! Limit the amount of plastic bags you consume too by reusing old ones or buying a reusable jute bag to carry about with you. Make sure that you buy your child their very own jute bag so they can help carry the shopping home.

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Fabric tote, €4, Tiger Stores, Nationwide

Even with the best will in the world, most homes do end up with a fair amount of waste every week. Before you throw anything away, consider whether the item could be used again for another purpose. Items such as empty cardboard rolls, buttons, old birthday cards and even empty milk cartons are perfect materials to get crafty with. Get your child involved by putting together a busy box filled with junk materials to use the next time that you are stuck in on a rainy day. Little hands are also perfect for helping with the rest of your recyclables. Get them involved by letting them wash out containers and separate waste into recyclable piles. Take them along to your local recycling centre and introduce them to the recycling process. Depositing the plastic, glass and cardboard into the correct containers can be satisfying for little ones, they’ll be begging you to take them along again next time!

Give items a new lease of life It’s not only our waste and packaging that can be recycled – old toys, books and clothes can be given a new lease of life in the hands of others. If your child is reluctant to give away their old things, soften the blow by allowing them to buy a few items while in the charity shop. For items that aren’t in good enough condition to be donated, consider mending them or transforming them into something new. Get your child involved in the upcycling process and they will be proud as punch with their “new” old clothes!

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Give nature a helping hand Creating a nature haven for local wildlife in your garden is a great green project to take on with your child. Dedicate a small corner or section of your garden and let it go wild to encourage nature in. Let the grass grow long and plant some wildflower seeds to attract bees, butterflies and birds to your garden. A small container filled with gravel, stones and water will bring frogs and toads to your garden as well as giving birds someplace to drink. Once you’ve made your wildlife garden, why not try another eco project such as creating a hedgehog box or a bug hotel?

Shop locally

Where ever possible, try to buy your food locally. Not only will your fruit and veg be much fresher, but the journey that it has gone through to reach your plate is also much shorter and therefore more environmentally friendly. Taking your kids along with you is a brilliant way of getting them involved and teaching them about the different types of foods that can be produced locally.

Save water

While using the car is usually the most convenient way of getting from A to B, choosing to walk, cycle or scoot instead will dramatically reduce your carbon footprint as well as ensuring that you both get getting plenty of fresh air. When getting about on foot is not an option, consider taking the bus or train instead. Using public transport can feel like a big adventure for children and they usually enjoy it much more than sitting in the back of a car! Count the trees, birds, dogs or cats that you cross upon the way to pass the time.

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Zycom Cruz Scooter Blue/Pink, €64.99, Smyths, Nationwide

Reduce your carbon footprint

Cutting back our water use is a really quick and easy way to help the environment. Many of us give our children baths every day, which is unnecessary, even for the messiest of children! Try cutting bath time to three times a week or switch to showers, which use only half the water, instead. It’s estimated that we waste around six litres of water by leaving the water running for just one minute alone! By simply turning off the tap when you and your child brush your teeth, you’ll be saving gallons of water every day. Plus with water charges finally here, there’s a financial incentive to teach your children about the value of preserving valuable water supplies.

Educate yourselves Environmental issues can be difficult to understand, even for adults, but talking to our children about the changes you are both making and the reasons why, is really important. Try reading a picture book together such as Dr Seuss’s The Lorax. The story, about a small creature who is trying to save trees, makes a great talking point and encourages children think about how we treat our environment. Filled with beautiful illustrations and inspirational quotes, it’s the perfect book to inspire you and your child to continue your green journey. After all, in the words of the lovable Lorax: “unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. No it is not.” For more ideas on how you and your child can make a difference to the planet, visit the ENFO Kids website at or the Young People’s Trust for the Environment’s website: https://ypte.

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The must-have family Cooking app Filled with delicious recipes for the whole family to enjoy and a fun interactive cookery course for children, Annabel’s app is the ultimate kitchen staple. Download from the app store

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FUN Lemon Yoghurt ✹ ✹ ✹ ✹

3 tbsp Greek yoghurt 1 tsp milk 1 tsp icing sugar 1 tbsp lemon curd

Mix together all of the ingredients.

Raspberry Vanilla

✹ 85g raspberries (fresh or frozen and defrosted) ✹ 1 ½ tbsp icing sugar ✹ 1 tbsp Greek yoghurt ✹ ½ tsp lemon juice ✹ 2 drops of vanilla extract

Mix together all of the ingredients with a hand blender. Then sieve to remove the seeds.

Tropical Mango

✹ ½ large, ripe mango (125g cubed flesh) ✹ 1 tbsp tropical fruit juice ✹ 1 tbsp icing sugar

Mix together all of the ingredients with a hand blender. Sieve if the mango has lots of fibres.

➽ ➽ Chocolate Orange

Whether you buy from the markets or forage in your back garden, there’s nothing quite like the fresh flavours of spring fruits. But rather than serve up your usual fruity offering, why not get creative in the kitchen this season? Put your presentation skills to the test by threading fruit onto straws, popping it inside jelly and even making tasty dips for dunking.

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✹ 1 orange ✹ 55g chocolate (use milk chocolate, broken into small pieces)

Grate ¼ tsp orange peel into a bowl. Add 2 tbsp juice from the orange, then add the chocolate. Melt the ingredients by putting a bowl over a pan of hot water (making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water).

Fruit Palette and Dips

Use lots of different fruits to dip in the delicious sauces

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Jellies with Summer Fruits MAKES 6 INDIVIDUAL JELLIES ✹ 6 leaves gelatine (about 8g) ✹ 600ml cranberry and raspberry juice ✹ 40g caster sugar ✹ 175g mixed berries, such as raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and strawberries (hulled and quartered)

Put the gelatine in a shallow dish and pour over just enough cranberry and raspberry juice to cover. Leave to soften for about 5 minutes. Heat half the remaining fruit juice with the caster sugar in a saucepan until bubbling. Mix in the gelatine and any juice, stirring until completely dissolved. Set aside to cool down a little, then stir in the rest of the fruit juice. Divide the berries between six individual jelly moulds (or four 175ml/6 fl oz pudding basins). Pour over enough liquid to just cover the berries. It’s a good idea to rinse the moulds first and leave a little water clinging to the sides – this can help to stop the jelly from sticking. Refrigerate for about 1 hour, or until beginning to set. Pour over the remaining liquid, or enough to fill the moulds or pudding basins, and return to the fridge to set completely. To turn out the jellies, dip each mould in a bowl of hot water, then turn onto a plate and give it a few quick shakes. Hopefully the jelly will slide out.

Fruit Flowers ✹ ✹ ✹ ✹ ✹ ✹

For those busy days, stock-up on Annabel’s Chilled Toddler Meals. Inspired by her popular cookbook recipes, they are low in salt and a tasty way towards their five-a-day. Find them in the chiller aisle at Tesco and other selected supermarkets.

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Honeydew melon Cantaloupe melon Watermelon Grapes Bamboo skewers Straws

Using cookie cutters, cut out flower shapes from the various melons and then cut out circles in the centre of each flower. Using a small round cutter or a melon baller cut out small circles or balls of melon and insert them in the centre of each flower. Push the tip of a bamboo skewer through the flower and then cover with a straw and thread a couple of grapes onto each of the straws. You can arrange the flowers by pushing the end of the straws / skewers through the skin of an upturned melon.

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Chocolate-Dipped Strawberry Buds MAKES 8 BUDS

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✹ 100g white, milk or plain chocolate, chopped ✹ 8 strawberries, hulled ✹ 8 wooden skewers

Melt the chocolate in a small bowl and set over a pan of hot water, stirring occasionally. Insert the tip of a skewer into a strawberry and hold the fruit over the bowl of chocolate. Spoon melted chocolate over the strawberry, turning it so it gets completely coated. Allow

the excess chocolate to drip off, then stand the skewer in a glass in a cool place, to allow the chocolate to set. Repeat with the remaining strawberries. If you like, you could pipe swirls or squiggles in contrasting melted chocolate over the cooled and set strawberries.

19/02/2016 13:14



r m e u p m u S

Ever look enviously at mums who seem to be so cool, calm and collected with seemingly perfect kids? Guess what – it’s never as perfect as it seems! But with a few simple life hacks, you too can simplify your family’s life and look like Supermum. Here are 20 easy ideas that you can do TODAY…


et’s face it – parenting is HARD. Dealing with the demands of young children, working, running a family home and trying to have a personal life on top of it all is a tough juggling act, even if you are lucky enough to have help. And worse – we’re constantly besieged by images of slim, laughing mums with perfect-looking kids in the media, leaving us normal people wondering how exactly they do it. Reality check – these are images, not real life. Nobody is perfect, and everybody has their parenting struggles. But there are ways to get organised and simplify your life – and have your own occasional moments of being that calm, together mum! Try these 20 easy tips:


Always looking for your car keys or glasses? Designate a drawer or keep a box in your most-used room and keep your frequently used items in there. If you have young children, keep a pack of baby wipes in there too.


Get organised

Store toys in boxes

It’s spring – so no better time to clear out those wardrobes. If you’re saving children’s clothes, sort them by age and packed them into labeled bags that can be stored flat. Once you have everything organised, keep on top of it by keeping three boxes in the garage – charity, storage and sell. Once a month, empty these.

Invest in some clear storage boxes and keep your children’s toys in them. Label these clearly and encourage your children to tidy away their toys at the end of each day. Once these boxes are full, when a new toy comes in, an old toy must be given to charity to make room for it.

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Keep everyday items together




Deal with post immediately

Keep important information together

Designate a day for cleaning

Open post beside the recycling bin so you can throw away unwanted leaflets and envelopes immediately. Keep bills in a ring binder.

Use a box binder for items like birth/ marriage certificates, car registration certs, insurance policies, prize bonds and PPS numbers.

Name a regular morning/ day for cleaning and get everyone involved. Kids love helping when they’re little, and this is a good time to get them used to having their own jobs.

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Keep a calendar


As kids get older, their lives get more complicated! Keep a diary, preferably on your phone, with reminders set up, or use a system like Google Calendar, which can be shared with other family members.

Take a few minutes to list out what needs to be done during the week, any appointments and any work. List these out in terms of time needed and days, and review each evening.

Use Sunday evening to organise the week



If possible, make any appointments (especially doctor appointments) for first thing in the morning. You’re less likely to be kept waiting. Similarly, avoid the bank or post office during busy times and days.

Take half an hour before bed to get outfits together and to take out bowls and utensils for breakfast. If you like a morning shower, get up 10 minutes earlier to have a shower in peace.

Make appointments for early morning


Go through your accounts and make a spreadsheet with all your regular bills and payments. Set up direct debit bill payments so you never miss a payment. Consider having a separate bill account for your bills from your everyday spending to make sure your bills are always covered.

Keep on top of birthdays Keep a store of bargain generic birthday cards. Store these with some stamps, spare envelopes and notepaper. If you see a good toy on sale, buy a few of them so you’re never stuck for a kids’ birthday party present.


Use your freezer When you’re making meals like lasagne, bolognaise, chilli etc, freeze an extra portion. Make a basic tomato sauce and freeze in portions too – this can be used as a base for pizza or pasta dishes. Treat these as your “fast food” options.

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Stock up on essentials When they’re on sale, stock up on goods like lightbulbs, toothpaste, nappies, wipes, batteries and toiletries.

Sort the morning the night before

Be on top of your financials





Keep antibacterial wipes handy For quick clean-ups, keep packs of antibacterial disposable wipes handy in the kitchen and the bathroom. If you have an unexpected visitor, you can give the washbasin a quick wipe in seconds.



Keep medicine together Designate a cupboard (up high if possible) for medicine and first aid essentials. Keep a list of dosages if needed on the inside of the door. Make sure your kids can’t reach the cupboard or keep it locked.

Store an overnight bag in your car Keep a change of clothes for your children, plus wipes and nappies if needed. If possible, keep waterproof clothing and wellies in the boot for unexpected downpours. While you’re at it, keep a pen and paper in the car in case you need to take down insurance details in the event of a crash.


Limit time online

Be kitchen organised

When you are with your family, resist the urge to continually check your email or social networks. Designate two times during the day to check and deal with anything that comes in.

Stick to a weekly food shop, and go through your cupboards before making your food menu for the week and your shopping list. When storing food, put the earliest best before dates at the front. Pin your menu on the fridge so everybody knows what’s for dinner that night – but add in some flexible options to avoid the temptation to order in if the night’s dinner doesn’t suit/appeal.


Keep a list of emergency numbers Write out and maintain a list of emergency numbers and any household information (eg how to work the heating) – this will save you having to write it out each time you have a babysitter or visitor.

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• r e n n i W • r u o y e t a n i No m

LIDL MUM OF THE YEAR Now accepting nominations Log on to


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MI 2016_Ad Template.indd M&ISpring Mum of the Year 2016.indd 1 5

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19/02/2016 16/02/2016 15:04 10:29


Earrings, €9.99, H&M

TREND Floral jacket, €295, Unique at Topshop

Ear cuff pack, €9.95, Zara

Ivory silk kimono jacket, €320, Jigsaw

Floral trouser, €180, Unique at Topshop

LOOK 2 L’Absolu Velours in shade 193, €26, Lancôme

Black courts, €49.99, H&M

Black leather heeled sandals, €69.95, Zara





Black silk soft overlay trousers, €230, Jaeger White silk shirt, €68, Topshop

Whether it’s floral satins or lace-trimmed silks, designers made two-piece pyjama sets a highlight of their spring/summer collections. Release your pyjamas from the confines of the bedroom and wear with pride.

Stone and crystal drop earrings, €280, Marni at Brown Thomas

LOOK 3 Vinley daisy bud silk blazer, €413, Diane Von Furstenberg at Brown Thomas

Ivory belted blazer robe, €79.95, Zara

Dusty pink clutch, €110, Arnotts

LOOK 4 Black leather shopper, €750, Saint Laurent at Brown Thomas

Ivory cropped bell bottom trousers, €49,95, Zara Black suede bucked heeled shoe, €72, Warehouse

Marbled round sunglasses, €22, Warehouse

Navy courts, €95, Dune

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Janeta print silk trousers, €340, Diane Von Furstenberg at Brown Thomas

19/02/2016 14:29


Littlebird, Mothercare



Accessorize Stores nationwide; Aldo Stores nationwide; Arnotts Henry Street, Dublin 1; www. ASOS Argos


Boots Stores nationwide; www. Brown Thomas www.


Coast Stores nationwide; www. Cos 6-8 Wicklow St, Dublin 2; Childrensalon


Debenhams Stores nationwide; Dune London Stores nationwide; www.dunelondon. com

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Easons Stores nationwide; www.

Harvey Nichols 16 Sandyford Road, Dublin 16; www.harveynichols. com Hatley Stockists nationwide; www. Heatons Stores nationwide; H&M Stores nationwide;


Isabella Oliver www.isabellaoliver. com

Jaeger Stockists nationwide; www. Jigsaw


Littlewoods Ireland www. L’Oréal Stockists nationwide;


Mamalicious Mamas & Papas Stores nationwide; www. Marks & Spencer Stores nationwide; www. Monsoon Stores nationwide; Mothercare Stores nationwide; www.


Name it Stores nationwide; www. New Look Stores nationwide; Next Stores nationwide;


Seraphine Slumbersac

Toby Tiger Topshop Stores nationwide;


Warehouse Stores nationwide;

Zara Stores nationwide;


Penneys Stores nationwide; www. primark River Island Stores nationwide;

19/02/2016 14:10


Spring Health Welcome to our brand-new health section, featuring the very best expert advice and health snippets, all designed to help you and your family through the season ahead. We’ve selected some of the top experts in the pregnancy and parenting field to answer your questions, and combined their columns with health advice and practical how-to guides to help you and your family navigate through some of the most common health dilemmas during spring.

Got a question or need some expert advice in a hurry? Our website,, is packed full of great features and advice, while our community of mums and experts are available 24/7 through our Facebook page ( if you have a particular question that you can’t find an answer for through our website. So get reading, get clicking and most importantly, get talking!

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19/02/2016 14:44




Those days are stretching, hopes are growing for that elusive “great summer”, bank holidays are a regular occurrence… Spring is great, right? Except for that changeable weather that results in your children picking up every single bug and cold going – here’s how to give them the best chance of protecting themselves against the dreaded springtime bugs…

What supplement? At certain times of your life you may benefit from a supplement. Always talk to your pharmacist about the right one for you.

…If you’re trying to conceive


Eat a rainbow

Brightly coloured fruit and veg are full of phytonutrients like Vitamin C and carotenoids that are thought to increase production of white blood cells (which fight infections) and interferon (an antibody that helps cells block viruses). Remember that for a toddler, a serving of fruit or veg is about two tablespoons, so it’s fairly easy to help your child reach his five a day. Try putting some strawberries and blueberries into a bowl of porridge, giving an orange as a snack or grating carrot into a home-made tomato pasta sauce (double points for tomatoes and carrots). Tip: Limit juices and smoothies as they remove the fibre from the fruit and are a far more concentrated source of sugar than the full fruit.


Get enough sleep

Being strict with bedtime is not just to make sure your child is well rested for the day ahead, but it’s also believed to help his immunity system. Studies on adult patients have shown that inadequate sleep can reduce natural killer cells, which attack microbes and cancer cells. The same holds true for children – and for protecting against everyday bugs and illnesses that spread so quickly during the changeable weather of spring.


Get some exercise

Our glorious “sunshine and showers” weather can make exercising as a family rather difficult – you get everyone dressed and ready and there’s a sudden drop in temperature and

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a thunderstorm. Sigh. But exercise is proven to increase the number of killer cells in your body, therefore boosting your immunity, and it’s so important to get your child exercising from an early age. Take a leaf out of Peppa Pig’s book, invest in some raincoats and wellies and go jumping in some muddy puddles.


Practice good hand hygiene

Keeping your hands washed and clean can prevent illness from spreading and keep your child healthy. Teach your child how to wash her hands from an early age, and encourage regular handwashing with easy-to-use liquid soap and brightly coloured towels. Make her life easy by providing a stool so your child can reach the taps by herself. Make sure she washes her hands before and after eating, after using the toilet, and after handling pets. When out and about, bring wipes to encourage clean hands on the go. Tip: if your child has had a cold, cough or throat infection, change her toothbrush when she’s recovered.


Cut out the smoke

If you smoke, stop. Cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 toxins, and adults and children

breathing in secondhand smoke are at a greater risk of developing lung problems, chest infections, severe asthma, middle ear infections and glue ear. Babies are at a greater risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). In addition, children are at a greater risk of health issues than adults, as their immune systems are not as developed as an adult’s, and they breathe at a faster rate. If you can’t stop smoking, smoke only outside the home.


Get some fat

Not all fat is bad – omega 3 fats, which are found in oily fish like salmon, increase the activity of white blood cells, which protect against and fight infection. Make sure your child eats at least a portion of oily fish a week (try making your own salmon fish fingers), or look out for omega 3-fortified foods like eggs and peanut butter. Kale, walnuts and flaxseed oil are also good sources of plantbased omega 3 oils. If you are worried about your child getting enough healthy fats, talk to your pharmacist about a daily supplement that is suitable for your child.

At a minimum, a woman trying to conceive needs to supplement with 400 micrograms of folic acid for at least 12 weeks before conception and for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. If you’re a little doubtful about your diet, go for an overall preconception vitamin to ensure you’re getting both the folic acid and an overall immuneboosting multivitamin.

…If you’re pregnant Pregnancy naturally suppresses your immune system, so it’s more essential than ever to have a healthy, balanced diet. If you feel you need more, than go for a multivitamin meant for pregnancy as it will contain adequate amounts of the essential vitamins for pregnancy, folic acid and vitamin D, but no retinol, the animal form of vitamin A that can be toxic to unborn babies in large amounts. Later in pregnancy, some women may have to supplement with iron, but take direction from your medical team.

…If your child’s immunity is challenged Ideally, children should get their vitamins from a healthy diet that includes fruit and veg, dairy foods, wholegrains and protein like meat, fish and eggs. But if your child needs to cut out a food group for a reason, or is a fussy eater, then a kids’ multivitamin might be of benefit. Look out for supplements that contain Vitamin A, Vitamin Bs, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, calcium and iron.

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IVF BASICS How many months of ‘trying’ should we give before consulting with a fertility specialist and how much money should I have saved for my first round of IVF?

LENGTH OF PROCESS How long does it usually take from the initial consultation to pregnancy test? And can you tell me about the steps in between? The process in total would usually take about four weeks. Please allow for any diagnostics that may be required in advance and making lifestyle changes based on diagnostic results, which may improve your chances of pregnancy. In Repromed, the first step is a consultation with Declan Keane, our director and Senior Clinical Embryologist, and with one of our Gynecologists. They will review your medical history, discuss what the most suitable course of treatment for you will be and recommend if there are any useful diagnostic tests you may

need prior to starting treatment. Once we know you are physically and mentally ready to go ahead with treatment we prepare a medication regime for you. Two weeks are taken to use fertility drugs (naturally occurring hormones) to stimulate the female’s ovaries to recruit more than one egg from the multiple available eggs in her ovaries each month. Another week is used to fertilize her eggs and culture her embryos in the IVF lab. Then after embryo transfer she waits for two weeks until she tests with a home pregnancy test.

This is dependent on the female’s age and the individual couple. If you are under 30 years of age, with no obvious indicators of infertility, it would be recommended to see a specialist after a year of trying; if you are over 30 then we would recommend within six months. If you would merely like ‘peace of mind’ before you start trying to conceive you could have some basic fertility tests done with your GP or a fertility clinic like ReproMed. Each case is different, but usually the cost of IVF would fall between €4,500€5,000 including treatment, aftercare etc.

PREPPING FOR IVF How should I prep my body for its first round of IVF? What kind of relaxation methods and exercises should I embrace? A healthy balanced diet and fitness routine are very important. It is also recommended to reduce, if not eliminate, alcohol and to quit smoking entirely. A lot of our patients have reported that complementary therapies including hypnotherapy and acupuncture have helped them relax during this time and we can recommend a number of different holistic therapists as a supplement to your treatment.

Dr Declan Keane is a senior clinical embryologist with 20 years’ experience. He is director of ReproMed fertility clinics in Kilkenny and Dublin, with a third clinic opening in Limerick this year. For more information, call Declan on (01) 685 6755 or visit


Men’s Health Get your folic acid Folic acid is not just for women. According to a study, men with lower levels of folic acid in their diet had a higher rate of abnormal chromosomes in their sperm. Take a good multivitamin or eat foods high in folate, like beans, leafy green vegetables, wholegrains, and fortified cereals.

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Men also have a role to play in boosting fertility when trying for a baby. Here’s six easy ways to ensure your swimmers are as healthy as possible.

Cut out the cigarettes Smoking cigarettes is linked with low sperm counts and slowmoving sperm. To make sure his sperm is as healthy as possible, men should give up smoking as soon as possible, preferably at least three months before trying to conceive.

Limit the alcohol

Keep your cool

Watch the laptop

Limit caffeine

High levels of alcohol have been shown through various studies to reduce sperm production and cause sperm abnormalities. Drinking in moderation is fine, but limit to one or two drinks a day and avoid binge drinking completely.

Men’s testicles hang outside the body as sperm production needs to take place at a cooler temperature. So for good sperm production, avoid spending too much time in artificial heated atmospheres like saunas.

It’s not just thermal suites you might want to avoid if you’re trying to produce good-quality sperm. Make sure to use your laptop on a desk rather than on your lap, as your computer may overheat your genital area.

A Danish study has linked high caffeine intake with a reduced sperm count and concentration. Limit caffeine-containing drinks (such as coffee, tea and energy drinks) to two or three a day, maximum.

19/02/2016 14:45





I suffered from high blood pressure during my first pregnancy and had to deliver at 35 weeks. I’m still on a very low dose of medication for blood pressure. I want to get pregnant again, but I’m terrified. Should I avoid pregnancy altogether or are there strategies in place for people like me?

I have asthma, and although it’s improved over the last few years, I’m still prone to attacks and take regular medication. I’ve heard that asthma can worsen in pregnancy. Are there any precautions I should take before getting pregnant? The first and most important thing is that asthma will not harm the baby. The fact that your asthma has improved is good. Asthma is also one of the conditions that is treated in the same way regardless of whether you are pregnant or not. There are not really any special precautions except you must tell the doctor or midwife at your booking visit that you are asthmatic because some of the painkillers we use after delivery can make asthma worse. The other thing you will notice as your pregnancy advances will be increasing breathlessness, this is very common and is normal. If you develop any signs of a chest infection during pregnancy make sure you have a check up with your doctor. The only way an asthma attack can harm your baby is if your attack causes you to collapse due to lack of oxygen but this would be very unusual.

TUBAL LIGATION Is it possible to have my tubes tied while having a Caesarean section? I’m 35 and certain that my third baby is my last. This will be my third section too. Yes, it is possible to have your tubes tied, and if this is your third section and you are positive your family is complete it is a very good method of obtaining a permanent solution to family planning. You will need to bring your request to your doctor at your next clinic visit as many hospitals have a specific consent from for tubal ligation, and you should be fully informed before the procedure. The technique itself is very straightforward; a small portion of the midsection of each tube is removed, leaving a gap of

a few centimetres between the tied ends. The portion removed is sent to the lab to confirm a full thickness section has been taken. The procedure adds only about five minutes to the overall operation time. Tubal ligation is designed to be permanent but depending on how much of the tube is taken it is possible to reverse the procedure, but this requires very specialised surgery and is not always successful. So if you are not fully certain your family is complete you should not go ahead with the procedure.   

From the information you’ve given me, it sounds like you either had pregnancy-induced hypertension or pre-eclampsia, or a combination of the two. If you are considering becoming pregnant make sure your doctor knows so that you are on a medication that is safe in pregnancy. You do not need to be terrified, as this is a common condition and is usually very manageable. Close monitoring of your blood pressure will be required; if you had pre-eclampsia last time it may not return as it is more common in first pregnancies. So my advice would be to see your doctor, make sure your medication is suitable for pregnancy and book in early for antenatal care in the same hospital so they have access to all your previous records on your last pregnancy.   


The Flu Vaccine: Yay or Nay?

Dr Sam Coulter-Smith is a consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology, former master of the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin, and a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the Royal College of Surgeons. Visit

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Flu is generally associated with the winter, but in fact, the season runs to the end of April. So if you find out you’re pregnant during the springtime, it’s still a good idea to get the flu vaccine. How serious is flu? For most people, flu is self-limiting, abut in some cases it can can result in serious respiratory complications, including pneumonia and bronchitis. Pregnant women have also been found to be at increased risk of the complications of flu, thanks to their compromised immune systems. Why should pregnant women get the vaccine? According to the HSE, pregnant women are more likely to get complications from flu due to changes in their heart and lung function. Getting flu in pregnancy may also lead to premature birth and smaller birth weight. The seasonal flu vaccine will can be given at any stage of pregnancy. Will the vaccine also protect my baby? Yes. Vaccination during pregnancy can protect your baby for up to the first six months and also prevent you getting flu and passing it on to your baby. How safe is the flu vaccine? “Seasonal flu vaccines have been given to millions of pregnant women in the last ten years,” says the HSE. “Reactions are generally mild and serious side effects are very rare.” Where can I get the flu vaccine? The vaccine is available from your GP or pharmacist. The flu season lasts from September to April; if you are already pregnant when the season begins, you should be vaccinated straightaway. For more, chat to your GP or pharmacist, or log on to

19/02/2016 14:45



BACK PAIN I am pregnant with my first baby and my back has been very painful for the past four weeks. I am also getting shooting pains into my left buttock and leg. Could this be sciatica? I am worried it will get worse as my bump gets bigger.

How to treat cuts and scrapes Hopefully the longer afternoons means that your kids are getting out to play in the fresh air – but unfortunately that might mean more cuts and grazes. Here’s how to treat minor cuts and grazes – and when you might need professional help.

Stop the bleeding The symptoms you describe could be as a result or either sciatica or pelvic girdle pain (PGP). Contrary to popular belief, you are not more susceptible to sciatica when you are pregnant. Aches brought on by pregnancy tend to be in the pelvis and back, not around the sciatic nerve. Many women who think they have sciatica during pregnancy actually have pelvic girdle pain. The sciatic nerve comes from your lower back, travels down the back of your leg and then branches out to your foot. Inflammation or pressure from the back can make the sciatic nerve painful, resulting in aching in the buttock, thigh, calf or foot. You may develop other symptoms such as pins and needles, or numbness in the leg or foot. Sciatica in pregnancy can be caused by inflammation of the facet joints in the lower back, or by the baby pressing onto the sciatic nerve inside the pelvis. It is very important that you are assessed by your chartered physiotherapist, as soon as possible, to determine if it is a sciatic nerve problem or PGP. You will need prompt treatment to minimise your symptoms as your pregnancy progresses.

ACHING FEET I had my first baby a few weeks ago and I am having trouble walking. In the last few weeks of pregnancy, my feet swelled and swelled. It became hard to walk. I thought once the baby arrived that it would ease. While the swelling is certainly less (I can get into my shoes again!), I still have constant aching in the arches of my feet and it’s stopping me from getting out walking. Help!

Clean up You should see your chartered physiotherapist as soon as possible to get this assessed, as there are a few things that could be causing this. It takes up to six months for your ligaments to firm up again after giving birth. The ligaments in your feet support the joints bearing your body weight, so lax ligaments can cause increased pressure on the arches of the feet in the post-natal phase. We can ease this by taping, giving you strengthening exercises for the muscles of the feet, or by prescribing a temporary corrective device, such as an insole, to lift your arch again. You may have had flat feet prior to being pregnant, and your alignment through your legs and hips could be adding to the pressure on your feet. That coupled with the lax ligaments can further flatten your arches, and even make you go up a shoe size temporarily. You may need some insoles or orthotics to help correct this. There may be a trapped nerve causing your pain, although this is less likely if it is in both feet, and without pins and needles. It is important to diagnose and treat this as soon as possible, so your postnatal exercise won’t cause any damage or increase your pain. At home, try not to stand for periods of time on hard tiles in your bare feet - wear your runners if possible to support your arches.

Jenny Branigan is a chartered physiotherapist and partner at Total Physio in Sandyford, Co Dublin, and sees many women during and after pregnancy, treating issues like pelvic girdle pain. She is also mum to Jamie and Holly. For more information see

These answers are not a substitute for a full assessment by your chartered physiotherapist. If you are suffering with any pain or injury, please contact your local chartered physiotherapist who specialises in treating pregnant and postnatal women. It is vital to deal promptly with these aches and pains and they will only get worse as your bump and baby get bigger and heavier.

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A small scrape should stop bleeding by itself within a minute or two, but an open cut might require some help. Get a clean washcloth or tissue and apply gentle pressure to the wound until the bleeding stops. Use two cloths if the bleeding soaks through the material. It may help to elevate the wound above your child’s heart, ie if the cut is on her leg, have her lie on the sofa with her leg on your lap.

When the bleeding has stopped, look for any grit, glass or any foreign bodies in the cut. Try to flush out anything using running water, or use a disinfected tweezers to remove anything stuck to the wound. If something is deeply embedded, get professional help, as trying to get it out might cause more bleeding. Then gently wash around the wound with a little gentle soap and water, but try not to get soap in the cut.

Bandage the wound Finally, apply some antiseptic ointment to keep the cut moist and bandage. Change the bandage at least once a day, and remove completely once a scab has formed.

When to head to the doctor or hospital ✱ When the cut is deep and the edges are far apart ✱ The bleeding doesn’t stop after direct pressure is applied for 10 minutes ✱ Blood is spurting (this could be an artery) ✱ Any signs of infection after a day or two, eg redness, swelling or pus

19/02/2016 14:46




How to treat a vomiting bug

My two year old caught everything going over the winter period. Should I give him extra vitamins to give him a boost now springtime is here? Many of us feel like we could do with a boost at certain times of the year. The word vitamin comes from vital minerals, so called because the body doesn’t make them naturally. We need to eat them to get them. It is best if children get them from food that naturally contains them (eg calcium in milk). Natural food sources contain vitamins in their elemental form, which means that they are easily recognised and absorbed by the body. Vitamin supplements usually contain nutrients that are less easily and less readily absorbed by the body. As a general rule of thumb, children who are eating a varied diet with a mixture of foods shown in the food pyramid don’t need any supplement unless there is a clear medical reason (eg anaemia needs iron). If in doubt, talk to your dietitian, GP or pharmacist.

In children, rotavirus is a common cause of vomiting and diarrhoea, and most children experience at least one stomach bug due to the infection before the age of five. It’s spread by poor hygiene after using the toilet, and is highly contagious among children. Here’s how to treat it.

Keep at home

CHEESE AND HONEY Can I add honey to my eight month old’s breakfast and add blue cheese to his food? It’s great to see small babies showing an interest in a wide variety of flavours and foods. Honey is best given once a baby reaches 12 months and not sooner, as it may contain spores of the bacterium clostridium botulinum, which can cause a serious illness called infant botulism. Hard block pasteurised cheese is a great source of protein and calcium, among others; it’s usually locally produced from quality milk and raw materials and is good value for money. It can be grated and added to meals or offered as finger food over six months of age. Make sure you check the label of cheese beforehand. Unpasteurised cheese will have ‘Made from raw milk’ or ‘Made from unpasteurised milk’ on the label. These types of cheese (for example Brie and blue cheese) can contain bacteria which can cause serious illness in some babies so are best avoided under 12 months of age.

CHOCOLATE FOR TODDLERS My little boy is 18 months old. Can he have a small Easter egg this year so he doesn’t feel left out with his big brothers and sisters? What’s the best kind? The best way to think about giving chocolate to children is that there are no bad foods, so the child doesn’t binge when he gets his hands on the forbidden treat. That said, if habits develop and something like chocolate is offered often, problems can occur. At 18 months of age most babies have no idea what chocolate is and won’t naturally look for it so please don’t feel that he’s being deprived. He will be just as happy with a non-food Easter treat and there are lots of those. Most chocolate contains added fat and sugar, at levels that place it on the top shelf of the food pyramid. It is considered a “treat food” so it shouldn’t be a regular part of any child’s diet.

Ruth Charles is a dietitian with the Early Feeding Clinic, which offers advice on becoming pregnant, nutrition during pregnancy and feeding your growing baby. For more information, visit

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In most cases a stomach bug can be treated at home. Generally, vomiting passes within a day or two, and diarrhoea goes after five to seven days. Seek medical attention if the symptoms go on for longer than expected and you suspect your child is severely dehydrated, if your child shows any sign of dehydration, if your child has a compromised immune system, if there is blood or mucus in the stools, or if your child has been abroad.

Keep hydrated The most important thing is to keep your child hydrated and seek help if he shows any signs of dehydration, such as dry mouth or eyes, sunken eyes, deep rapid breathing, passing urine infrequently and weakness and drowsiness. Keep feeding your child as normal with liquids, eg bottles or breastfeeding, or with water. Avoid fruit juices or fizzy drinks.

Encourage eating As soon as the vomiting is under control, encourage your child to eat. Give him simple carbohydrate foods, such as bread, rice or pasta, which are easy to digest.

Give an ORS sachet If your child is at increased risk of dehydration (eg if he is vomiting or has several episodes of diarrhoea a day, or cannot hold down fluids), then give your child an oral rehydrate solution (ORS) sachet, available from your pharmacy. This will replace important minerals. Dissolve in water and encourage your child to sip it.

Relieve pain or fever If your child has a fever or pain, treat with paracetamol or ibuprofen products correct for his age.

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POOR SLEEPER My child is almost 11 months old and has never slept through the night. Is she just a poor sleeper? Learning how to sleep can be more challenging for some young children. Within the second half of the first year of life young children will reach sleep maturation, which means that they should be able to sleep for uninterrupted segments of time. This ability can be compromised if the child has not developed the ability to go to sleep without assistance from the parent or are unable to cycle through their natural sleep phases, without intervention. Coupled with this, if young children are not on a consistent daytime schedule, that matches their body clock then sleep can be even more difficult to achieve. We are a generation of well read parents, but sometimes books are not specific enough to be effective and often we don’t try the advice for long enough to see results. The lovely thing about sleep is that it is correctable outside of underlying medical conditions and can always be improved on by the parents and it is never too late to start making those changes. It will take up to three to four weeks to achieve your goals, but you should start to see improvements within two weeks.

CLOCKS GOING FORWARD How can I prepare for the clocks going forward in March? Firstly, ensure that your baby is well rested in the run-up to this weekend. Then on the day either:

Do nothing; Adjust your clock to reflect the new time and follow your typical daily routine, with everything pushed ahead by one hour. This way bedtime is potentially a whole hour earlier than the night before and you may encounter a struggle, so respond accordingly. Or... Spilt the difference between the new time and the “old” time for the first few days with the notion of

getting back to your original bedtime within a few days. Match your feeding schedule to this change. For example, if bedtime is usually 7pm, aim for 7.30 “new time”. This way you allow their body to adjust slowly.

Or... You could consider bringing timings forward from the Wednesday before the time change. Adjust bedtime 15 minutes earlier and follow this through over the next few days, gradually changing nap times, meal times and bedtime by 15 minutes so that by Sunday you will already be on the correct clock.

Lucy is a paediatric sleep consultant and mum of four. She runs a private sleep consulting practice where she provides knowledge, expertise and valuable support to families across the country. Visit


What is croup?

Calm your child

Get steaming

Use the cool night air

Treat the fever

Croup is a viral infection that affects mainly children under five or six, and is characterised by a raspy cough at night that sounds like a seal barking. Here’s how to deal with croup, and when you should seek medical help.

Croup appears often during a mild cold at night. Often there is a fever or a symptom called stridor, a harsh, whooping sound when your child breathes in. Try and calm your child by signing softly and sitting her up in bed.

Turn on a hot shower and close the door to generate steam, as this will help clear your child’s breathing passages. Sit in the room with your child and an improvement should be seen within a few minutes.

Often the cold night air helps, so try wrapping your child up well and bring her out. Parents often report that their child gets miraculously better en route to the hospital with croup!

Give appropriate paracetamol or ibuprofen products to treat any fever. Remember to always follow the correct dosage information on the bottle.

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When to get help The above steps should help within about 20 minutes (an hour for the fever); if you feel your child is getting worse, looking paler or struggling to breathe, go straight to the hospital.

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Out of all childhood illnesses, the one that sparks the most fear into parents’ hearts is meningitis, as it can strike quickly and have devastating consequences. Here’s what you need to know.

Meningitis is caused by an inflammation of the lining around the spinal cord and the brain that can be caused by both bacteria and viruses. Bacterial meningitis is quite uncommon, but is very serious and requires urgent medical attention and an intense course of antibiotics. Viral meningitis is a less serious version of the condition, but cannot be helped by antibiotics. The symptoms of bacterial and viral meningitis are very similar, so to determine between the two, hospital tests are required. A condition closely related to bacterial meningitis is septicaemia, which is a type of blood poisoning. The same bacteria that causes bacterial meningitis causes septicaemia, which sees the break down of blood vessels under the skin, and is characterised by rashes of purple bruises and blood spots on the skin.


Symptoms of meningitis

The symptoms of meningitis in children are fever, with possibly cold hands or feet, refusing feeds or vomiting, high-pitched moaning,

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crying or whimpering, dislike of being held, neck retraction paired with arching of the back, a blank and staring expression, the child is difficult to wake and they have a pale or blotchy appearance. A rash may also occur with some forms of meningitis. You can test whether a rash is caused by meningitis by doing the Tumbler Test. If a glass tumbler is pressed firmly against a rash and the marks will not fade, seek medical attention immediately. Time is everything when it comes to meningitis, so it’s important that if your child has any of these symptoms and you suspect meningitis that you seek medical help immediately.


Contracting meningitis

At any time, a number of people in a population could be carrying the bacteria that causes bacterial meningitis or septicaemia. Many people would carry the bacteria in the back of the nose or the throat, without any adverse affects for the carrier. However, some people’s immune system may

not be able to ward off the bacteria and they pass through the lining of the nose and throat and into the blood stream. Viral meningitis is caused by groups of viruses, which includes the mumps virus. Babies and toddlers are at a heightened risk of developing meningitis as their immune systems are not yet fully developed.


Preventing meningitis

There is currently no vaccine that can protect you from all forms of meningitis, but vaccines exist that can protect again some strains. The pneumococcal meningitis A vaccine is available to protect against Group C Meningococcal Disease. This vaccine is included in the Primary Childhood Immunisation Programme and is offered to all infants. The vaccine is available free of charge to all up to the age of 23 years of age. As there is no vaccine to protect against all types of meningitis it is still very important to be aware of, and alert to, the symptoms and signs of meningitis and septicaemia.

What is a febrile convulsion? Temperatures are common enough in small babies and toddlers, but usually respond well to paracetamol or ibuprofen. However, some babies and children can suffer from febrile convulsions, fits that occur with a high temperature. Although they are terrifying to watch, they are rarely harmful. A febrile convulsion usually lasts for between 20 seconds and two minutes. If your baby suffers from a brief febrile convulsion, take her to a doctor or a hospital to be checked over and to confirm the cause of the fit. If the fit lasts for more than three minutes, call for an ambulance. If your baby has a brief febrile convulsion for the first time, take her to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. A doctor can check her and help to confirm the cause of her fit. While your baby is having a febrile convulsion, loosen any tight clothing and remove anything that is in her mouth, such as a soother. Try not to restrain her in any way.



Recovering from meningitis can be a long and arduous process. Fortunately, however, many of the after-effects improve and disappear over time. Some aftereffects include memory loss, lack of concentration, clumsiness, residual headaches, deafness, learning difficulties, epilepsy, weakness, speech problems or changes in sight. Most people recover with no after-effects and the likelihood of developing permanent after-effects depends on the type and severity of the illness.

19/02/2016 14:47



Congratulations to Cora Scanlon from Cork, the winner of last issue’s competition!




elaxed and welcoming, The Heritage Killenard is polished and stylish with impeccable levels of service throughout. The hotel has a world-class Spa, an extensive selection of luxury accommodation, the Arlington Restaurant and Slieve Bloom bar for dining, and a fine array of indoor and outdoor activities. From a game of tennis on the tennis courts, a refreshing visit to the Health Club with its pool, jacuzzi, sauna and steam rooms, watching a movie in the cinema at the Heritage Killenard, sinking into a cosy couch with a good book, follow the 5-kilometre ground lit walking and jogging track or indulging in a restorative spa treatment in The Heritage Spa, or relax in the Heritage Spa Experience there is plenty to do in this lush countryside setting for all ages, whatever the weather. The Heritage Killenard is offering a fantastic family prize of 2 nights bed & breakfast for 2 adults and 2 children (under 13), staying in a family room, with dinner on one evening. Families are very welcome at the Heritage Killenard, and younger guests will enjoy their own dedicated games room, Wii room, bicycles, playground and the Mystical Fairy Garden.

HOW TO WIN To be in the draw for this amazing prize simply answer the following question correctly:

In what county is The Heritage Killenard located? Email your answer and contact details to, with THE HERITAGE in the subject line. Or send a postcard with your answer and contact details, marked THE HERITAGE, to maternity & infant, Ashville Media Group, Old Stone Building, Blackhall Green, Dublin 7. Terms and Conditions: Prize includes two night’s B&B for two adults and two children, staying in a family room, with dinner on one evening, non-transferable, subject to availability. Closing date for all entries is 14 May 2016. Prize is non-transferable. Competition is not open to employees of Ashville Media Group or The Heritage Killenard. No cash or gift card will be awarded in lieu of stated prize. If any of the items offered are unavailable or out of stock, a suitable alternative will be provided. Winner will be selected at random from a draw and will be contacted by phone. Competition entrants must be resident in the island of Ireland. One entry per person. Competition is also subject to all usual terms and conditions.

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The Heritage, Killenard, Killenard, Co Laois, Ireland T: +353 (0) 57 8645500, W:

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Support & Advice Need some expert help and advice? Our directory of useful contacts will make sure you locate the right resource.


Early Childhood Ireland,

One Family, Cherish House,

Hainault House, Belgard Square,

2 Lower Pembroke Street,

Tallaght, Dublin 24.

Dublin 2. Tel: 01 662 9212

Tel: (01) 405 7100

LoCall Info Line: 1890 662 212

HSE, Oak House, Millennium Park,



Naas, Co. Kildare. Tel: (045) 880400




OPEN – One Parent Exchange and Network, National Centre,

Cuidiú – Irish Childbirth Trust,

Aware 72 Lower Leeson Street,

Tel: (01) 814 8860

Irish Multiple Births Association,

Carmichael House, North Brunswick Street, Dublin 7.

Dublin 2. Tel: (01) 661 7211


LoCall Helpline: 1890 303 302


Carmichael Centre, North Brunswick Street, Dublin 7.

Tel: (01) 872 4501




LoCall: 1850 24 1850 Email: Web:

Miscarriage Association of Ireland, Carmichael Centre, North Brunswick Street, Dublin 7. Tel: (01) 873 5702 Email: Web:


7 Red Cow Lane, Smithfield, Dublin 7.

Treoir 14 Gandon House,

Tel: (01) 874 9056 Email: Web:

Aware conducts support group meetings across the country. Manned by trained volunteers, their Depression Helpline is a listening service that operates Monday to Friday, 10am to 10pm. Aware also provide an email support service. Please visit their website for more information.

Custom House Square, International Financial Services Centre, IFSC, Dublin 1.

Information and advice resource for unmarried parents

Barnardos, Christchurch Square, Dublin 8. Callsave: 1850 222 300

Post Natal Depression Ireland,

Tel: (01) 453 0355


Administration Building, Cork University Hospital, Wilton, Co. Cork.


Home Birth Association of Ireland, Tel: 087 164 0847, (0906) 405267 Email: enquiries@ Web: La Leche League of Ireland, Please refer to your local telephone directory. Email: leader@

CHILDCARE SERVICES The Childcare Directory Ltd, 98 Foxrock Avenue, Foxrock, Dublin 18. Tel: (01) 201 6000

Tel: (01) 670 0120 LoCall Info Line: 1890 252 084 Email: Web:

Support Line: (021) 492 2083

A Little Lifetime Foundation,

(Tuesdays & Thursdays, 10am to 2pm)

18 Orion Business Campus,


Rosemount Business Park,


Ballycoolin, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15.

Monthly support meetings are held on the last Tuesday of every month at Cork Maternity Hospital, Wilton, Cork.


Tel: (01) 882 9030 Email: Web:



Childminding Ireland,

First Light- Irish Sudden Death Syndrome Association, Carmichael House, North Brunswick Street,

Tel: (01) 287 8466

Doras Buí – A Parents Alone Resource Centre B unratty Drive, Coolock, Dublin 17 Tel: (01) 848 4811





9 Bullford Business Campus, Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow.

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Email: Web: Childline, 24-hour Freephone Helpline: 1800 666 666 Text: ‘TALK’ to 50101 (2pm-10pm daily) Web: Parentline, Carmichael House, North Brunswick Street, Dublin 7.

Dublin 7. Tel: (01) 873 2711

Tel: (01) 873 3500

LoCall Helpline: 1850 391 391

LoCall: 1890 927 277





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R E T EN DAY! TO Terms and Conditions: Prize consists of the Beep Twist travel system from Baby Elegance in purple, and is nontransferable, subject to availability. Closing date for all entries is 31st May 2016. Prize is non-transferable. Competition is not open to employees of Ashville Media Group or Baby Elegance. No cash or gift card will be awarded in lieu of stated prize. If any of the items offered are unavailable or out of stock, a suitable alternative will be provided. Winner will be selected at random from a draw and will be contacted by phone. Competition entrants must be resident in the island of Ireland. One entry per person. Competition is also subject to all usual terms and conditions.

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When you register you are automatically entered into a prize draw to win the Beep Twist travel system by Baby Elegance worth €459.99, which comprises a pram, buggy and infant carseat in Purple. Even better, as our gift to you, everyone who enters gets a FREE annual subscription to maternity & infant digital!

19/02/2016 14:13


SUPER HUMAN I’m FRAN and I’m mum to four children, aged nine, five, three, and 11 months. I recently took the plunge to become a stay-at-home mum; here I blog about how parents really are [super]human


ome days being a parent is hard. Not every day, mind you. Most days are all they are supposed to be: fun, rewarding, inspiring, challenging and testing. It must also be the hardest job there is. As a parent we have so much responsibility on a daily basis. We hold ourselves to the highest standards in our role as parents. Sometimes as parents we face unknown parenting territory, we don’t know what to do and our response to it is trial and error. Especially when raising multiple children, what worked for one child may not work for the next child. But that’s ok. It’s a learning curve. A steep one, by all accounts. We have to be alert and clued in, we have to care and figure stuff out as we go along. We always keep ourselves in check. We hold ourselves to high regards. We want to be the best that we can be. For us. For our children. Because that’s our job. That’s what we get paid to do…..(Oh, hang on.…That’s right. It’s unpaid.) Whether we are sick, tired, distracted by other things in our lives or are having an “off day”, it doesn’t matter. Our tiny bosses will not give us the day off. They will expect us to be up at the crack of dawn, ready for fun and games with a smile on our face and a bounce in our step. Ready for an exciting, fun day; a day with patience to come up with smart answers to the never ending whys. We are kind. We are patient. We explain to our tiny bosses everything they want and everything they need to know and we explain it again and again seemingly never getting tired. We use positive language and positive affirmation. We praise, we encourage, we stimulate and educate. We kiss the ouchies better and the tears away. We are teachers, coaches, and referees. We are parents. But sometimes when we are having an “off day”, we face this little struggle: between our role as parents and the expectations we have for ourselves and our limitations as human beings.

And when we feel this struggle within ourselves and this thought sneaks into our heads, it is like the ‘parent’ shell breaks away from around us and reveals that beneath lies just a human. And this is when we know today is a day where we just DON’T WANNA. (*stamps foot*) Where we need to hold back the tears because tiny boss accidentally whacked us in the nose while using us as a trampoline. (Yes, Mama has feelings too!) Where we are not okay with being covered in poo after another nappy malfunction. (Seriously. Who poos sideways!) Where a “I don’t like you” mid-tantrum crushes our heart. Where just as we are sitting down with a cup of coffee that’s been microwaved five times, someone wants their bum wiped. Where we are tired of listening to the bickering followed by the high-pitched “I am going to tell Mamaaaaaaaa”. We just want to let out a screech, tell the tiny bosses to bugger off, hand in our notice and walk out from this job, doors slamming and all……… to catch a breath. We are doing the best we can. We are giving this our all. Twenty-four-seven. We aren’t perfect. We can try to be and we certainly aspire to be. But let’s remember that after all we are human. Underneath that parent shell we are still us with basic needs like, having an uninterrupted shower without an audience or a hot coffee…. Is that too much to ask? I salute all you hardworking mothers and fathers. You are doing a mammoth job. Needs to be said. And let’s me say this also: Let’s not be too hard on ourselves. Let’s not feel bad for thinking that thought because as quickly as this thought enters our head, it disappears again. It doesn’t make us a bad parent. Rather, it makes us [super]human. Now go and reheat that coffee and drink it this time. Get ready to be the human trampoline and try not to get whacked in the nose again.

FOLLOW FRAN’S PARENTING ADVENTURES ON If you’re a parenting blogger, we want to hear from you! Email us at

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19/02/2016 13:26

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Profile for Ashville Media Group

Maternity & infant spring digital edition  

Maternity & infant spring digital edition