Tag Archives: baby

Fever in the morning, fever all through the night

Sleepless nights, as promised. Zombie-like, every hour or so, I reach for the little wriggler and stuff my boob in his mouth to ease the pain and comfort him back to slumber, avoiding the dreaded pink stuff – if possible.

20130415-182921.jpgI was given it, everyone else was given it, everyone continues to give it, and it is the brand synonymous with infant wellbeing: Calpol. They have cornered the market in baby medicine for years and most people pour it down without a thought – anything to shut the baby up. But aren’t there alternatives?

Our little boy was in agony with three teeth coming through at once, crying desperately, whimpering and clingy. It’s awful watching your child suffer, but this is part of life – part of growing up. I told myself if his fever goes much over 38°C I’ll do it, give him some Calpol, but I’ll do my best to bring his fever down naturally.

Why am I so bothered? Well, I think this blogger sums it up perfectly. I do not object to giving my baby paracetamol as a last resort (soluble Disprol is the purest approved option I’ve found, though it seems to have been discontinued), but I do object to unnecessary additives. If you want something less fussy, many pharmacy own brands provide fruit-flavoured medicines without all the Es.

Packaged food everywhere is full of processed rubbish, manmade chemicals, dangerous amounts of sugar and salt, preservatives, you name it… Oh, and guess what, most “medicines” are just the same. I wonder how much tax revenue pharmaceutical companies generate versus the cost to the NHS of repairing illnesses caused by adverse side effects. Does it pay to keep us poorly? I’d also be interested to find out which additives in processed foods are supplied by Big Pharma. Very interesting stuff, but that’s for another day.

What annoys me more than Calpol itself, is the way it has been adopted as the standard solution for any ailment – recommended by doctors, praised by parents. Ear ache: Calpol; tummy ache: Calpol; fever: Calpol; immunisations: Calpol; won’t sleep: Calpol. Really?

So what happened before Calpol? I can hear you now, “progress” brigade: “Infant mortality was much higher…” and the rest. But lots of babies also survived – that’s how we’re here. Funnily enough, people got by. They treated minor ailments themselves, usually using food or herbs and prevented a lot of illnesses before they occurred by living a life harmonious with nature.

The trouble today is that we think we know better. Do we? I’m not so sure. Sometimes, it’s best not to interfere. Our bodies are amazing, evolved with an immune system to protect us against disease. One of the reactions to infection is a fever, which shows the body is fighting it. If it’s not at a dangerous level, why suppress that?

The body also triggers messages to the brain to alert us to problems (which we feel as pain). And although paracetamol may numb that, it disguises the symptoms of illness, tricking you into thinking that everything is fine. Surely that in itself is more of a risk.


Disclaimer: The opinions stated in this post are my own and should not be taken as medical advice. I am not a scientist nor medical professional. If you have any concerns about medicating your child, please discuss them with your GP.


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Filed under Breasfeeding, Parenting

It’s my party and I’ll spend if I want to…


Planning any party is a stress-filled treat, but baby’s first birthday takes it to a new level. For a start, you are marking the first year of your precious offspring’s life on earth. Secondly, you feel you deserve a trophy just for surviving this first year. Third, you want to show off (just a little bit).

There’s a lot to think about:

1) How much to spend. Most of us are counting the pennies these days so setting a budget crossed my mind, but I didn’t think it would really be an issue, as we were just planning to have a few close friends and family round for a couple of hours.

Wrong. By the time I’d purchased a few decorations, cake sprinkles and “thank you” notes to suit the theme, I was already well over the £100 mark and horrified. We hadn’t even got to the food yet…

2) Who to invite. I know a mum who has distributed over 50 invitations to every baby at every baby group she attends, and hired a hall with an entertainer. I know another mum who had a quiet day at home with her husband and baby to reflect on the year.

I was pitching for somewhere in between as I want to share the occasion, but don’t want to spend a fortune. We have gone for grandparents, uncle, best friends, a couple of colleagues who have been there for us, and eventually decided to include our NCT group.

3) Party theme. It started as a small gathering and has gradually evolved into a duck-themed extravaganza! We chose ducks because our boy loves them and after “milk” it was his first baby sign. Also, as his birthday falls close to Easter and it’s [supposed to be] spring, it seemed like the right thing to do. So with a firm mind not to overspend, buy any stupid plastic and avoid anything that we can’t reuse, I clicked over to eBay.


And the can of worms was open; my inner party-planning goddess unleashed… Well, we will need duck invitations, duck “thank you” cards, duck tablecloth, duck balloons, a duck balloon weight, duck cake decorations, duck biscuit cutters, duck-shaped ice, duck candles, duck toys and, of course, bunting.

I convinced myself that only the theme colours will do and therefore ordinary paper plates would not suffice. My attempt to control spending meant I ditched the duck plates, duck cups and duck napkins, but instead went for the still-quite-pricey plain blue and yellow ones.

I tried hard to maintain my green principles but failed miserably – even caving in to a pack of 25 latex balloons for which I then had to purchase a disposable helium canister. On the bright side, the bottle can be recycled.

4) Entertainment. There’s no way I’m spending money on a children’s entertainer this time, but I do like the idea. The babies are too young for party games and we don’t have many older children coming, so it’s a pile of toys on the living room floor and funky music on the stereo. We have created an appropriate playlist of clean, well-known songs that should keep spirits lifted and appease most musical tastes.

I couldn’t help buying a bubble machine. Bubbles are brilliant, everyone loves them (including rubber ducks) and it’s a cheap way of bringing smiles to a lot of faces. I will be making my bubble mixture using eco-friendly washing-up liquid using a recipe I found here and will probably have the gadget positioned by the front door to delight guests as they arrive.

5) Food. Who do I cater for? The babies, the adults or both? It has to be both. So now to strike the balance with healthy, safe and tasty food. I’m sticking with finger food to avoid disposable cutlery and messier foods, cooking posh nibbles from scratch to avoid any added sugar or too much salt, and catering to a variety of dietary requirements (vegetarian, vegan and nut allergies).


I want cake but I don’t want sugar so I’m baking honey and lemon cupcakes with lemon-lavender cream cheese frosting and another lot of spiced banana with pineapple frosting, using apple juice as a sugar substitute. I took my inspiration from this blog.

I’ve ordered a silicone ice cube tray (duck shapes, no less) but I thought I might try to use it to create some sugar-free pineapple jelly as well. Accompanying “ice-cream” will be frozen banana blitzed in my Vitamix. I may add some coconut cream and lime juice to give it a piña colada feel. To keep costs down we will only be offering beer or juice and have encouraged guests to bring their own if they want to drink. However, it would be wrong not to serve Duck’s Fizz.

A lesson learned

I got carried away. The urge took over – I wanted to do things “properly” and lost my mind. The guilt started to set in as soon as I checked out through PayPal and realised what I’d done. This is money that should be saved for his education, or more immediately to pay the bills.

But then I justified it again by filling my head with clichés about remembering the day for the rest of our lives and that it will only happen once. Blah blah blah. Basically, I was stupid, I should’ve thought it out more carefully, I should have set a budget and not everything has to match the theme.

Out in town and I saw ducks everywhere because Easter is approaching. Bad news. What did I do? Buy more bloody ducks! I figured now I’ve started, why stop? Again, I lost my mind. But what I have promised is that next year we will tone it down and keep it small until the next milestones (5, 10, 13, 16, 18 and 21).

Better start saving.

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Filed under Consumerism, Family, Green, Plastic, Shopping

Will I ever be godly?

20130227-152533.jpgIf cleanliness is really next to godliness, then I worry I will burn in the eternal fires of hell. Though a messy house can feel that bad, so perhaps I am already there.

It’s hard! I wonder how other people manage. I see them, with their children and their jobs and their clean houses. How and when do people find the time? While caring for my grandmother it’s surprisingly easy. I make a mess, I tidy it up. I leave her rooms tidy and kitchen spotless every day before I leave to come home to my pigsty.

Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating, but sometimes my house is so far from my standard of what I feel is acceptable that it makes me want to cry. But oddly enough, not clean up. How do people stay on top of it all and have any life left to live? I feel that I have failed as a woman (sorry feminists) to not be able to manage it all.

I have been known to cancel house guests because I’ve not had time to dust the skirting and polish the towel heater. I change plans with friends because I’m so scared they’ll judge the oil spattered along the back of my range cooker or cat hair on the carpet. Even having a “leccy” round to give a quote to fit a shower sent me into blind panic about the limescale around the bath taps and mess in the fuse cupboard.

Recently I got suckered into buying a steam cleaner plus all the accessories from a shopping channel. I used it once, the pad got caked in old dirt from a tiled floor, I panicked as I didn’t know how to wash it, and it’s been sitting in the dark ever since. Why, when I fantasised so vividly about the jet nozzle giving the grout a seeing to, have I not even used it yet?

I want to host, I want to welcome people into our home, but I worry so much about what they will think of how we live that I end up stifling my social life and avoiding so much as a cup of tea at mine. Surely this is not normal behaviour and I need help of some kind. Or I need to quit a hobby, watch less TV, go on eBay less, ping on a pair of marigolds and just get on with it.

The only time this strange obsession is put into perspective is when I visit other people’s messy houses and realise that it’s normal for a home to look lived in. In the way air-brushed cover girls wreak havoc with my body image, I expect my abode to resemble a show home and must have a distorted view of reality. It’s like anorexia but without the malnutrition. A kind of household dismorphia.

So, I have OCD but don’t do anything about it – what is wrong with me…? Maybe I’m just lazy. Should I hire a cleaner or is that failing? I fear failure more than all of the above. But that’s another post.

Please help.

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Filed under Family, Self-discovery

Caring for the elderly vs caring for the planet

reduce-reuse-recycleIn many ways my triple “r” habit was inherited from my grandmother: drying and reusing pieces of kitchen towel; double-dipping teabags; eating (perfectly safe) food out-of-date; using things sparingly; and making do and mending. However, now I am in a position where I am caring for her full time and I’m struggling to sustain my “green” habits in order to prioritise hygiene, safety and my sanity.

I find myself constantly throwing away once-used tissues, using worrying amounts of harsh chemicals to clean up spills and “things”, wasting uneaten food, leaving too many lights on and burning the central heating in mild weather. This is stuff I wouldn’t imagine myself doing at home or even at work, where possible. But while juggling my Nana with my eleven-month-old son, I have found myself taking certain shortcuts in order to meet both their needs while minimising risks in her home to them both.

So I’m challenging deeply ingrained habits that took years to perfect and it’s making me question what is more important. My usual stance is to consider the “greater good” and strive to do the right thing by our environment. Here, I am faced with a choice: the planet or my Grams. And for the sake of my survival, being able to continue in this role, the planet is losing.

She is constantly cold and refuses to layer up. My options are to manhandle and force her into more clothes or keep smiling and turn up the thermostat. Incontinence has taken its toll. My options are to spend half her pension on eco-friendly products or buy cheap, spray and mop in a flash. One minute she’s hungry, so I cook up a nutritious meal. Next minute she looks at me like I’m crazy and refuses to even take a bite. My options are to big_meatsleave and reheat or just prepare something cold that will last. Of course it’s unsafe to keep reheating or leave lukewarm food lying about the place. So what have I found myself doing? Buying cheap packaged foods like quiche, cheap deli meat for sandwiches (with questionable welfare standards) and biscuits – because sometimes that’s all she’ll eat.

I’m still recycling, trying my best not to be wasteful, turning off the radiators and throwing a blanket over my nan when she’ll let me. But it’s not easy. And it’s making me think perhaps I’ve judged others too harshly in the past, without considering their personal circumstances and limitations.

As I settle into this routine, I’m sure I’ll be able to improve certain things. I’ve already taken a step in the right direction and bought some bicarbonate of soda in bulk to freshen up the carpets as the little man is on-the-move, soon to be crawling. Phew! That’s when the trouble will really start…

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Filed under Caring, Family, Green