You’ve done the hard part – giving birth. Now it’s just playgroups and nursery rhymes, right? If only that were true. There are no end of little hurdles we all have to hop over on this journey that is being a parent. Just when you think you’ve got it cracked, up pops a new challenge where a little perspective and assistance can really help navigate you through. This is by no means comprehensive, but we’ve pulled together a few resources to get you started, and point you in the direction of further information on a variety of these potential struggles.
They say there is no sense crying over spilt milk, but when it’s 3am and your baby is screaming, it’s hard not to.
Feeding can be one of the hardest parts of being a new mum, but whether you are using breast, bottle or both, there are lots of resources to help you. You are not alone!
Local Breastfeeding Clinics (more details on the daily calendar)
Monday 10-12pm The Grove Pub, 39 Oldridge Rd, Balham, SW12 8PN (run by NCT)
Tuesday 2-3.30pm Balham Health Centre
Wednesday & Friday 10-2pm Macmillan Way Surgery
Thursday 10-2pm Steers Mead Children’s Centre
Friday 10-12pm Franciscan Children’s Centre
National Breastfeeding Helpline
La Leche League
Mother to mother support, through their helpline or chatline, accessed here, and through local meetings. LLL Clapham host a coffee morning every Tuesday at the Imperial Durbar, Tooting Bec, 10.30-12pm. Contact them here or on facebook .
Association of Breastfeeding Mothers
There are lots of useful resources on their website, here, and also a helpline 0300 330 5453 open 9.30am-10.30pm.
Local Lactation Consultants
There are a number of hugely empathetic experienced lactation consultants working locally who can give you a home visit and be on the phone with advice. Ask on Tooting Parents Network facebook group for latest recommendations; here are a few to get you started:
Sue Ricks via the Fountain Suite at St Georges
There is a local support group for mums who are bottle feeding (including mix feeding alongside breastfeeding), based on facebook to give virtual hugs and support. Find them here.
One surprisingly common problem with feeding can be tongue tie – where the babies tongue is too tightly anchored to the bottom of the mouth. If you are still under the care of your midwife or health visitor, they should be your first port of call and can refer you for fast treatment at St Georges. If you find you are facing a wait, or aren’t getting clear answers, there are a number of consultants working locally who can help with a diasnosis and treatment.
Ann Dobson www.anne-dobson.co.uk
Carmelle Gentle www.gentlebirthsandbeyond.co.uk/tongue-tie
The first step to getting out and about with your baby is working out how you’re going to transport them around. For many, baby wearing is the most practical, giving you hands free cuddles. Wearing your baby can also be useful if you have a baby with health or attachment problems – for example babies with reflux often benefit from being upright after a feed.
We’re lucky in Tooting to have a dedicated baby wearing boutique on Thrale Road where you can try a range of carriers to see which best suits you and your baby. You can hire before you buy so that you can be absolutely sure that you’re choice really works in practice. They also run workshops covering an introduction to babywearing, and on specialist topics such as twin carrying and back carrying. See details at https://wearmybaby.co.uk/boutique/
The current advice is to start introducing solid foods at 6 months, if your baby can sit up and hold their up head, can co-ordinate eye, hand and mouth, and can swallow. Until the age of 1, food is really for fun so don’t stress the weaning, and have some fun exploring flavours and textures with your little one. The NHS has clear basic advice on introducing first foods and there are lots of recipes online to give you inspiration.
Baby Led Weaning
There is some debate about whether purees can lead to picky eaters, which has led to a trend for baby-led weaning – letting the child do it all. Read more about the theory and approach here.
Many parents are worried about choking risk so this is a great time to do a baby first aid course. Smallwood Children’s Centre offers a course (contact the centre for details) or there are a number of private providers such as Daisy First Aid or First Aid for Life who run regular local courses or will come to your house (it can be a good thing to do together with your NCT group).
This can be the time that allergies become apparent. It’s advised to introduce nuts, dairy, eggs, fish & shellfish, wheat and gluten one at a time. Your GP can refer you to the allergy clinic at St Georges if you have a concern that your child has allergies. Lots of local parents have been through this so do ask for tips and advice on the Tooting Parent Network facebook group.
No baby should sleep through; regular wake ups is a way of staying alive and a sign of an active brain. So don’t panic if you little one isn’t sleep 12 hours straight at 4 weeks old. Many of us have 5 year olds who still haven’t slept through the night. Having said that, sleep deprivation can adversely affect your ability to be a great parent, can affect relationships, and is not pleasant, so it’s worth doing what you can to encourage healthy sleep habits.
Numerous books exist all with slightly different takes. The most recommended from the parents of Tooting are Sensational Sleep Plan by Alison Scott Wright; How to Enjoy Year One by Rachel Waddilove; No Cry Sleep Solution; Gina Ford; Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child.
Various sleep training consultants are available locally – either in person staying over at your home, visting for a daytime consultation, or available on the phone or by email. It’s worth asking around for personal recommendations, again the Tooting Parent Network on facebook is a great place to do that.
Classes and Workshops
Practical tips can also be gained from classes and workshops. Nurturing Mums run post-natal classes covering sleep tips, see below for details, while Doctor and Daughter run specific toddler and baby sleep workshops.
Newly launched locally is a series of post-natal classes covering many of the above topics. Nurturing Mums run a 5 week course covering baby development, sleep, first aid, and an introduction to weaning with practical non-judgemental advice. Details can be found here. The next courses to run start early March at The Grove in Balham or The Leather Bottle in Earlsfield.