I’m always impressed at how a visit to A&E can make a poorly child well again – even before they see a doctor

Yesterday, at about 10.00am, Eli started throwing up. He then proceeded to sleep, wake, scream, arch his back, retch, vomit, scream, relax, sleep in a regular cycle that lasted about 20 minutes at a time for hours.

By 16.30, when it clearly wasn’t abating, I thought I’d give NHS Direct a call so they could tell me he probably had a virus and I should just keep him hydrated. Basically I wanted them to validate what I thought was the right course of action but, without access to my GP (why do these things always happen on a weekend?) figured NHS Direct would be the next best thing. They told me to go to A&E. Dammit. Of course, once you’ve been given advice like that you have to go otherwise what if it really is serious and you ignored it…

Packed up a bag with all the muslins I could lay my hands on and off Eli and I went. He finally asked for a feed whilst we waited in the waiting room and then proceeded to be violently ill about 10 minutes later. Yay to another mother in the room who helped me clear up the mess as cuddling Eli meant I couldn’t do much but stare at it. We didn’t have to wait long after that incident for a nurse to see us and she rolled her eyes when I told her what NHS Direct had said. Eli was looking ok, just a bit pale, but she had to double-check he could tolerate fluids so she started us on a fluid challenge, 5 ml of water every 5 minutes.

Poor Eli, he was so thirsty that he sobbed each time the syringe of water finished. He wasn’t sick again though and by the time we saw the doctor it was pretty clear we didn’t need to be there. Two hours after we arrived Eli was waving at other children in the waiting room and trying to talk to them. He was having 10 ml of water every 5 minutes and had had 5 minutes of milk without incident. Honestly, you would never have known he had been so ill for most of the day.

Eli today – if you hadn’t just read this you’d never know he’d been ill yesterday…

It’s always a bit embarrassing when you take your very ill honest! baby to A&E and they are clearly in absolutely no danger of anything except an over protective mother by the time they are seen. That said, all I have to do is remember the time I thought Lex (at 4) had a bit of a temperature and a cough and I eventually took him to the walk-in centre and he ended up in hospital for a week with pneumonia (in my defence he’s always been a bit stoic about pain, it really wasn’t obvious at all how ill he actually was!). So I go to A&E when advised even if I don’t think I should, even though I’m 99% sure it’ll just lead to a miraculous recovery and the doctor will think I’m nuts – ‘So he’s your first?’, ‘No my third.’, ‘Oh…’ – just in case!

Using gNappies – putting them together and putting them on

gNappies are great nappies – they’re incredibly slim fitting and look great on – but they do have a few idiosyncrasies that makes them not like any other cloth nappy that I’ve owned/seen. This is not a bad thing but does mean putting them together and putting them on is a bit different too – I thought a little run through might be useful for anyone considering using gNappies (or for anyone already using gNappies but struggling to get a good fit). gNappies come in three parts as shown above: the gPant, a cotton outer (not waterproof); the gPouch, a waterproof pouch to hold the absorbent layer; and the gCloth, the absorbent layer with a fleece top to keep baby comfy and hemp and cotton for absorbency. You can replace the gCloth with gRefills, which are a fully biodegradable, disposable option.

To put the nappy together the gPouch is first poppered into the gPant. This poppering makes it really easy to replace the pouch when you do a nappy change. It also makes the pouch more flexible within the nappy which helps the pouch keep a good seal (when it’s fitted properly!). The gCloth can then be laid in the pouch. The cloth is slightly larger than the pouch which causes the nappy to fold in half slightly – this is expected and makes sure the nappy fits without the cloth moving about and possibly escaping the pouch.

I tend to make up all our nappies at the same time – makes nappy changes a bit quicker. As we have twice as many pouch/cloth combos that gPants I also put the spares together so that I can change Eli into a clean gNappy and then snap in another pouch to the previous gPant. We’re all about saving ourselves a bit of time at the nappy changing station!

Right, so now the nappies have been put together, it’s time to put them onto a baby. The main points to remember when fitting a gNappy are:

  1. The ‘g’ logo is on the bum – yes this means that they do up around the back.
  2. The tabs must be done up straight and not too tight.
  3. The pouch edges must be within the crease of the baby’s leg – very important!
  4. Give the gPant a little tug at the back when you’ve finished the change.

Doing up the tabs

gNappy tabs do up at the back which must be great with a toddler – no tempting tabs to yank undone! It’s a bit strange to do a nappy up ‘backwards’ at first but you soon get used to it.

Doing the tabs up straight means no uncomfortable rubbing for the baby. Don’t be tempted to do the tabs as tight as possible – you’ll just end up with lots of leaks around the waistband as the seal will be broken at the top of the pouch.

Checking the pouch

To make sure that the pouch has a good seal around the legs you need to push it inwards so that it is right in the crease of your baby’s leg. This is definitely the most important part of getting a good fit on a gNappy – if the pouch edge is too far out you’ll struggle to avoid lots of leaks around the legs.

All done

Just give the gPant a little yank at the back (the back should be slightly higher than the front) and baby’s all set for 2-3 hours of gNappy wear.

Cloth nappy wishlist

I’m really happy with the cloth nappies that we’ve chosen for our current stash but there are so many other types of nappy out there though and I’d really like to try a few just to see what they are like, all in the interest of blog research of course…

So, each month I’m going to buy a nappy or wrap, use it for a bit and write about it here. Might need to buy a new nappy box first though since the existing two are already full to bursting…

My current fluffy wishlist is (links are to the manufacturer’s website or to retailers that I’ve used and been happy with in the past, links in bold are to the results of my nappy trials):

With one a month this could take a while to get through but I’m going to try as many as I can before Eli potty trains.

Guiding hands and growing up

Eli is currently putting shapes in his shape sorter for the 5th time in a row. Each time all the shapes are in the sorter he complains until they have once more been released. It’s a bit of work for his helper – he’s still too little to find the correct hole for each shape and needs some help at points to orientate the shapes to fit them through – but the shouts of glee once the shape is in definitely make you smile.

Other than shapes, Eli most likes to play with balls. He’ll play by himself, throwing the ball and then chasing it, or with someone else, throwing the ball to them and waiting for it to be rolled back to him.

It’s in these games that his growing understanding and ability to communicate shine through. He was playing with a little toy golf ball the other day and when he threw it, it rolled under the side table next to the sofa I was sitting on. Unable to retrieve it himself Eli decided a big person should help and so he pulled himself up on the sofa, grabbed my hand and pulled it down gently willing me to get the ball for him. As we then passed the ball between each other it became my job to find the ball as it got stuck under the sofa. He’d have a good attempt at getting it himself but when that didn’t work my hand would be grabbed once more and I would be directed to do my part.

Moments like these remind me that whilst he is still my baby, it won’t be long before Eli is no longer an actual baby – toddlerhood is almost here.

It’s a recurring theme but we have a poorly boy again

A poorly (but smiley) Eli.

It is fascinating, in a completely sleep-deprived way, how each of my children has suffered teething differently. Lex’s first teeth resulted in fevers and a clingy, limp, sleepy (except at night) baby. With him Medised, now outlawed, was brilliant as it helped him sleep despite his discomfort. Tilly didn’t have the fevers, I do remember disturbed sleep but generally teething did not bother her too badly (that I remember – maybe I’ve blanked the memory!). Eli seems to be following in Lex’s footsteps and throwing in a couple of variations of his own.

It’s been a rough couple of days and nights for Eli and those of us he has been depriving of sleep and I think that he has another tooth (or two) on its way out. Of course whether or not I’m right won’t be proven for a day or so but it helps to have something to blame!

Just like last time he cut a tooth we have a feverish boy – his temperature’s been up for the last two days, at its highest reaching 38.9°C (easily controlled using paracetamol or ibuprofen luckily). A new variation on the theme was the D&V he had after his nap this afternoon. Whilst smelly and messy it was a good opportunity to end the extended play date Lex and Tilly were having with some of Lex’s friends from school who live nearby. Eli’s nappies generally have been yuck and frequent for the past couple of days.

No sign of any other illness though and there is a massive bump next to his one existing top tooth. I really hope I get some sleep tonight but I won’t expect it, pity it’s R’s turn for a lie-in tomorrow morning.

So the Olympics went to London and all we got were these lousy announcements

I sat watching the closing ceremony for the London 2012 Olympics which was one part ‘yay athletes’ and lots of parts ‘wtf, why this music?’ and listened to lots of talk about ‘inspiration’ and ‘legacy’. My son spent the last half-term of school enjoying topic work based on the Olympics and was very enthusiastic about everything to do with the various sports and events. So, what does government propose we do to capitalise on the sporting spirit

Firstly we have an announcement that the compulsory 2 hours of physical education for primary school children was scrapped because ‘non-sports’ like ‘Indian dancing’ were being used to fulfill the requirement. It seems strange to scrap something just because it’s not being done the way you want (surely tighter guidelines would have sufficed) but also to be pretty bold in determining that activities like dance are not sport. I took part in a Bollywood dance class during a friend’s hen do and it was hard work! Not an organised sport of course but that didn’t stop it being physical exercise. I did try to determine what Lex’s PE lessons consist of but apparently he can’t remember except that they get drinks and there are throwing competitions. At least they get to be competitive which leads us neatly on to the next announcement.

Now all primary school children will need to take part in competitive ‘recognised and recognisable sports’ as apparently too few already do (at school at least). I like the fact that Lex’s school manages to have a competitive sports day – each child chooses 2 or 3 events to take part in and can win medals for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place – that also has a team ethos – each child earns points for their team. However, aside from an after-school multi-sports club sponsored by a local football team which is focused on skills not competition, there are almost no after-school sports offerings at the school. I think that there is a netball team in the upper school but there is no football team, cricket team or anything else that would fit the recognised sport criteria that Lex could access. There once was more (a couple of football teams) but the government’s removal of the sports partnership funding ended that. I am interested to see how this proposal actually works in practice – what will be offered and how will they make it possible for all children to take part?

I had accepted that sporting activities would need to be paid for activities away from school – currently swimming and gymnastics, neither cheap – perhaps this announcement will be a good thing but all I expect to happen is possibly more netball and football teams because they’re easy to organise, don’t require particularly skilled staff to oversee them or expensive equipment. Lex would like to play cricket, I’ve been putting off contacting the local club because it will be yet more expense even though I’m sure he’d love it. Dare I hope that this announcement means an opportunity to play at school?

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside…

Throughout the year Tilly asks us “Is it summer now?” and for the quarter of the year where the answer is yes (regardless of the actual weather) her next question is always “Can we go to the beach?”. As we don’t really live too close to beaches that we (grown-ups) particularly like – I grew up in South Africa, beaches to me should be primarily white sand, not pebbles, mud or whatever else tries to pass for a beach on this island – to answer yes to the second question requires a good weather forecast and an early morning lest we spend too much time fighting for parking.

So last night, with a great forecast for today and an agreement to forgo a lie-in this morning, we decided that today would be our beach day. Despite Eli’s attempts to prevent us having any sleep last night, R managed to make the sandwiches and I managed to get out of bed and together we were all out of the door by 8.30 for the journey to the sea.

It was a lovely day. Eli touched sand and sea for the first time (not too impressed with either but began to enjoy the sand eventually). The big kids dug holes, built castles, splashed and ran in the sea. We visited the pier and the town and ate packed lunches and bought ice-creams.

Now we’re home, kids are washed and in bed and R. has headed to the local 7-11 to buy cake. Absolutely brilliant day.

Science with kids 1: Making an explosion with a bottle of pop and some mints

Our kids have been born to parents who both have a science background. It’s something we’d like to share with them so what better than simple experiments with easily obtainable materials and easily observed results.

The plan was to have fun, make a mess and hopefully introduce a few science concepts. To that end we decided to start with the classic mentos into coca cola experiment.

Before starting we asked the kids what they thought would happen. Tilly decided that it would ‘go all fuzzy and stuff would explode out’ and Lex thought that ‘air pressure in the bottle would push the cola out’. There is a slight possibility that they may have been doing some sneaky Googling beforehand…

Materials: tube of mentos mints, 2 litre bottle of coca cola (diet or regular, although diet apparently gives better results regular was the version on sale near us) and a tube the diameter of the mentos tube to facilitate rapid deployment of the mentos into the coke (we just used a bit of cardboard from an Amazon delivery box held together with tape.

Method:

  1. Fill the cardboard tube with mentos, using a bit of cardboard taped across the bottom to stop them from falling out.
  2. Go outside.
  3. Find a level piece of ground in an area (at least a few metres square) that you don’t mind getting messy.
  4. Open the cola bottle, empty the tube of mentos into it and move away quickly!
  5. Watch what happens.

Sadly I didn’t manage to capture the most impressive part of the resulting geyser with my camera but it was somewhere between 2 and 3 metres high which was pretty cool.

Outcome

The kids were pretty excited by the outcome of the experiment. We then looked at what was left over, measuring the remaining coke (only 600 ml) and investigating the mentos which ‘looked like they’ve been sucked!’.

The Science Bit

So why does it happen? Well, it’s all to do with the carbon dioxide gas in the coke. To make the coke fizzy this is added to the liquid and pressurised, the surface tension of the coke liquid then stops the gas bubbles from expanding (holds them in place). When we add the mentos the gas bubbles cling to them (just as they would do to a straw in a glass of fizzy drink) and when the outer coating dissolves the surface tension is disrupted. This disruption allows the gas molecules to expand and push the liquid molecules out of the way. The liquid has nowhere to go but out of the bottle and the expansion is so rapid and forceful that whoosh there goes a geyser.

For a more detailed description try: Steve Spangler Science – Mentos Diet Coke Geyser

Kids Rating

Our kids gave this experiment two thumbs up – although considering it involves an explosion I’m not sure there could have been any other outcome!

Things to note if you’d like to try this yourself:

  • you need an unopened (before the experiment) bottle of coke – you want as much carbon dioxide in the bottle as possible
  • it does need to be coke (not just own brand cola) if you want a decent geyser although you could use different types if you wanted to let the kids add some variables into the experiment
  • you really need to be able to get the mentos into the bottle quickly – take a little bit of time to make sure your cardboard tube is the right size

Our nappies – Tots Bots Easyfits

The first ever cloth nappy I bought was a Tots Bots, a blue Tots Bots Cotton Tot, a shaped nappy made from terry cotton. When Tilly was in cloth she was in Tots Bots Flexitots a two part system. Needless to say I love Tots Bots nappies and they’ve moved on massively since my first cotton tot – when I discovered the Easyfit whilst choosing nappies for Eli I promptly bought a few to try. I then bought quite a few more as they were great and when they brought out the version 3 we then bought even more!

Pros

  • can last for ages without leaking
  • lots of colours and prints to choose from (I love the limited edition London nappy best)
  • one-size and generally easy to find a good fit
  • not the slimmest fitting nappy we have but still not too bulky
  • easy to put on – if my Mum needs to change Eli’s nappy (not often) this is the type of nappy she will always choose
  • they’re designed and made in Britain (Scotland to be exact)

Cons

  • can leak around the waistband if trousers are too tight fitting

The vital statistics for our Easyfits:

How many do we have?

  • 13 Easyfit v2
  • 7 Easyfit v3

Which sizes do we have?

They are one-size nappies so will fit from newborn to toddler – there are two levels of poppers on the front to make the nappy smaller.

How long would we be able to use just this part of our stash?

About 3-4 days, I could (if I didn’t love some of my other nappies so much) only use these and still not have to do much washing.

How often do these nappies need to be changed?

These nappies can easily last 3+ hours – the version 3s especially are brilliant at not leaking even after 4 hours.

How easy are these nappies to wash?

We wash all our nappies together and don’t need to do anything special for these. I do take the tongue out of the version 3s because, unlike the version 2s, I find that they don’t tend to come out in the wash.

How long do they take to dry?

  • I tumble or air-dry the version 2s and they don’t take too long to dry via either method.
  • I air-dry the version 3s and they’ll generally be dry by the following day if I hang them inside and within a few hours if outside.

So, how long did you breastfeed the others for?

Through our baby group I’ve made friends with a great group of mums all of whom are first-timers. To begin with, and surprising to me considering the breastfeeding rates in my local area, the majority were breastfeeders. This has changed slightly over time and I think we have a 50/50 split now as people have weaned onto formula for a variety of reasons. As our babies get older, the first two soon to hit the 1 year mark, there’s more talk of weaning and the question has been asked, ‘So how long did you breastfeed the others for?’.

The person who’s asked is handily the one who is most able to understand that everybody does what is right for them and my choice does not mean I expect you to do the same. I’m not ashamed that I fed the other two until they were a few months past their third birthdays but I know how strongly people can react to the idea of feeding a young toddler let alone a walking! talking! able to ask for it! pre-schooler. I’ve heard one person voice the idea that ‘it’s wrong when they’re bigger’ and it makes me sad and frustrated that it’s this attitude that can make extended breastfeeders hide away feeling that they are doing something strange and that they aren’t supported.

I hope that my answers to this question or its companion – ‘so how long are you going to breastfeed Eli for’ given truthfully puts a normal face to longer-term breastfeeding rather than the ‘look at the strange weirdos’ image the media likes to put across. I also hope that it shows that you don’t ‘have to’ wean at 6 months/1 year or which ever arbitrary milestone is reached whether or not mum and baby want to continue. Of course mostly I’ll be carrying on doing what works best for my family and me and happily supporting my friends in what works for them.