Day Out Review: Tenby

I could waffle and waffle about Tenby for days – I love the place!  I had never been to Tenby before our holiday this year, but it reminded me so much of some of the lovely seaside places where I spend much of my Summer holidays as a child.

Unlike some seaside resorts, which have unfortunately become rundown over the years, Tenby still retains a lot of its charm, and has a lot of character to it which is still so appealing to tourists.  With the town walls and the colour-washed buildings, I would almost say it has a meditteranean vibe going on – I think the weather helped of course, I probably wouldnt have the same opinion if I had been there on a rainy, autumnal day!

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There’s a lot to appeal to all kinds of visitors – out of season it seems pretty peaceful so I’m sure it attracts a lot of the older generation, however it definitely feels like a very family-friendly resort, with lovely safe beaches, ideal for getting the bucket and spade out!  There’s public toilets and a baby-changing room right next door to the main beach – great for getting all that sand out of our baby’s nappy!

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Just around the corner from the main town beach – tucked away under the arches of the harbour wall is a lovely little coffee shop called Stowaways – please visit if you get the chance.  It’s a tiny little place, blink and you’ll miss it, but the coffee is amazing and it’s run by the friendliest guy in the world!  He couldn’t have been more accommodating with E and treated her like a little princess (he has children the same age) and he was just a wonderful character to talk to.  We could have spent hours in their, it was so interesting!

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Later in the day we ate in the Ocean Restaurant overlooking the harbour.  Again, a very unassuming, run-of-the-mill Italian restaurant but the staff couldn’t have been more friendly.  We’d attempted to have lunch in a pub a few doors down the road, but we found the staff so rude that that we got up and walked out before we even ordered!  The staff at the Ocean were by contrast, extremely helpful to us, going so far as to help us choose off the menu for our fussy-eater – and when the meal arrived, she scoffed the lot!

When we came back to Tenby a few days later, we grabbed some fish and chips from Fecci’s which is a well-known traditional italian takeaway situated just within the town walls.  We sat on a bench along the seafront and enjoyed them as they should be – they were amazing – just watch out for the pesky, giant seagulls!

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Top Tip:  Parking in Tenby can be quite expensive if you’re there for the entire day, but if you arrive early enough there are quite a few places for free on-street parking at the top of the hill above North Beach.  It’s only around a ten-minute stroll into the town from there, and the views on the way in are lovely!

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Eating Out Review: Prezzo

Following our trip to Wagamama a few weeks back, this time we went around the corner to Prezzo – of all the italian style chains this has been one of our favourites, particularly as they usually have really good offers!  It’s all about finding the bargains!

I ate here a few times when pregnant – pasta was one food that I couldn’t stomach during pregnancy, even looking at it was a complete no no so not sure why I ended up in Prezzo in the first place, however the lasagne went down so well that I had to go back! I was wondering if the taste of  it might have rubbed off on E!

What I love about Prezzo is that they don’t just have a generic kids menu – which in most restaurants is aimed at bigger kids, and the smaller ones just have to like it or lump it – they also have a tots menu (aimed at those up to age 5).  It’s £3.95 for three courses and a drink, which is excellent value.

So, what’s on the menu?

Considering it’s aimed at those ‘with smaller tummies’, the portion sizes were pretty generous.  There’s only one starter – garlic bread, which comes with or without cheese; two choices for the main course – either pasta (with a choice of 3 basic sauces) or a small margherita pizza (with a choice of three toppings).  Dessert is either ice cream in a choice of flavours or a fresh banana, then either juice or squash for the drink.

E polished off the garlic bread (this is always a winner), but the tomatoey pasta mainly got launched on the floor.  We realised pizza may have been the preferred option when bits of Daddy’s meal were sneakily snaffled off his plate. Of course the ice cream was polished off, no problem.  We turned the drink down in favour of our own water – as I’m a mean mummy who hasn’t let E taste juice or squash yet!

The paper menu included puzzles and various things to colour in, however E decided that the crayons were much tastier than the pasta so these were swiftly hidden at the other end of the table!

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Results:

Food: 4/5 standard italian fayre, nothing adventurous
Service: 3/5 – could be friendlier
Baby-friendly: 5/5 separate menu, clean highchairs, colouring activities
Toilets/baby-change: 3/5 clean and tidy, nothing special

Total: 15/20

The Story of E – Season Three Recap

Well as you can see I’m a bit late with this one – should have been done at the end of December but what with Christmas and everything else (see my last post!), well I hope I can be forgiven for the slight delay!

What’s she up to?

Well it’s no wonder I’ve not been able to post much on here – so much happened between 6-9 months! Everyone always told me that once we hit 6 months that’s when the real fun begins and boy were they right! She’s a right little character now and learning so much. Where should I start!

Weaning

I guess the biggest change we’ve had is that E is now on solid foods. I was really looking forward to weaning E, I couldn’t wait to see her little face when she tried new tastes and textures but there was also part of me that was dreading it… what if she hated everything?

E was about 25 weeks when we started weaning – we wanted to wait until as near to 6 months as possible as per the recommended age. I know many people do it earlier but we just didn’t feel E was ready any earlier than this.

I’d been reading a lot about Baby Led Weaning (BLW) before we started but I decided that I wanted to start with purees and spoon feeding, just to see what she was like with different tastes.

I 100% agree with the principles of BLW, I just wanted to be selfish for a little bit as I think it’s just so cute feeding a baby! I made up a few different purees to start with (carrot, sweet potato, broccoli, parsnip, apple, pear) and froze small portions of them in ice cube trays, so it was really simple when it came to mealtimes. We did this for a few weeks before starting to introduce more textures and flavours. I’d like to say I did all the cooking myself, but I must admit to cheating a little bit. I did carry on making different purees and mash, but as I am often lacking in imagination when it comes to cooking we did make use of various jars and pouches in the early days until we had become a little bit more confident with what she liked/didn’t like.

We did move onto BLW quite quickly – my confidence was a bit shaky to start with as I couldn’t bear the gagging reflexes however I persisted as I knew it was all a part of E’s learning experience – and mine!
I’ll write about this in more detail in another post but while I was at this early stage of weaning, I completed an infant first aid course run by Millie’s Trust. It was scary but I’m glad I did it and I do think it’s helped me get over my fears.

E is a pretty confident little eater now – although she’s still a little bit picky with certain things, however she’s still young and I’m sure certain things will come with time. There are certain foods that are flavour of the month, yet next week I know she won’t eat them. Sometimes she likes to pick things up herself, other days she’ll want me to spoon feed her. I guess it’s all a bit trial and error but we’ll get there.

We’re currently transitioning onto cups and cutlery – this will be fun. I’m just glad the weather is getting a bit warmer as I’m think introducing naked feeding time is a must at this stage!!

Crawling

And I was panicking when E started to roll… that was nothing compared to the speed she now gets across that floor!
The crawling came at about 7 months – no signs then all of a sudden, zoom…. she was chasing after an IKEA catalogue that I’d flung on the floor! Weirdly I was heading to IKEA later that afternoon so I’m sure it was some sort of sign!
Since then there’s been no stopping her – I just feel sorry for our poor cat. She was confused enough when E was immobile but now she has a little terror chasing after her and trying to grab her tail wherever she moves to!

Teeth

Oh the dreaded teeth! It seems likes she’s been teething since about 10 weeks but with no sign of anything in her gums I did start to wonder if they’d ever appear, getting all the more jealous of other babies who already had about 6 teeth and were confidently chewing on food! Little did I know that when they did arrive I’d be wishing them back to whence they came!

Teething must really suck if you’re a baby – toothache is such a horrible thing as an adult so for a little one who can’t express what they’re going through it’s just horrible to see them going through this.
I actually think we’ve been quite lucky with E’s teeth compared to some other stories I’ve heard but even so, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

We had three nightmarish nights when the first tooth decided to show – it didn’t help at all that for one of them we were staying with family and E was in a travel cot. No sleep for the household that night.
We’d begun with a very hot clingy baby, a rash and then a few sporadic sleepless nights with the worst one being while we were away. The next morning the tooth had popped through and there was a sea of calm!

We’ve got six teeth so far – two bottom and four top. After the banshee inducing crying with the first tooth, the remaining five didn’t give us so much of a peep. She’s obviously hardened up to the fact now!
Seriously though, I do hope that the rest don’t give her too much trouble but I believe the molars are pretty bad. We are preparing ourselves for the worst!

What’s next

Well as I’ve been so late with this blog, it won’t be long til my next update when E is 1!! Scary how fast that time has gone!

Eating Out Review: Wagamama

Since E was very young we’ve never shied away from taking her to restaurants – both her dad and I are real food lovers, and we’re hoping it will rub off.  We want her to get used to trying new tastes and to feel comfortable in restaurants – meaning that we can enjoy the experience all together as a family.

The first time we took E out for a meal, she was only around 6 week old and she just happily snoozed away in her car seat under the table!  Now she’s older and eating real food, I really enjoy being able to pop her in her high chair and let her experience the same things that we do.

Now we’re not a huge fan of chain restaurants and generally prefer to eat at more local, independent places, however for the purposes of this blog, the larger restaurant chains are going to be more well known to the majority of people, as opposed to the little cafe round the corner from our house so we will be trying a few more out – and as I’ve found many of them are very well equipped for families so are ideal for introducing baby to eating out, without too much stress!

Wagamama is actually one chain that I’ve never had an issue with.  We have an abundance of chinese restaurants and a handful of decent thai places but that’s really as far as oriental cuisine goes round here – so having a wagamama on our doorstep is actually very welcome.

We decided to head here with a couple of friends (also with baby in tow) on a Sunday lunchtime – due to the location we knew it would be busy so called to book, forgetting their policy of no bookings for tables under 8 people.  However, when we told them we had two young babies with us, they waived their usual rules and were happy to book us in.  So far so good!

On arrival, we were shown to a table at the back of the restaurant – I had completely forgotten about the layout of the tables (long benches) in Wagamamas and had a mild panic about where they were going to fit us in with two highchairs!  No need to worry, they give you ones that clip to the table!

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Have you ever used a Phil and Ted highchair?  They’re pretty cool!

When we’ve taken E to restaurants previously, we’ve always either taken our own food – particularly when we were just beginning weaning, or she’s eaten off our plates, but we decided to try something off the kids menu this time.

The staff in the restaurant were brilliant and really friendly with the babies – we’re familiar with the adult menu but they were happy to go through the children’s dishes with us explaining what each one consisted of, so we could make an easy decision.

My all time favourite dish at Wagamamas is the classic Katsu Curry and I was so excited to see that they did  a mini version of it too – including a vegetarian option of Yasai (Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato).  I ordered the latter for E – she’s not a massive fan of chicken (or any meat for that matter) so we thought this would go down well.  The dish arrived very well presented – with a small portion of sticky white rice, a decent size portion of the Yasai, plus a salad of grated carrot, cucumber and sweetcorn.  The curry itself came in a separate dish which meant E wouldn’t have to eat it if she didn’t like it.

For around £4, it was pretty good value for money, and it seemed like a pretty healthy option. The portion size was probably more suited to a slightly older child but it wasn’t overwhelming for a baby or toddler, particularly if you are used to baby-led weaning.  And of course any left over, was obviously going to be polished off by me or her dad anyway!

All round I’d highly recommend it – it’s nice to see a kids menu that’s not all burgers and fish fingers – and as E seemed to love it we’ll  definitely go back.

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Results:

Food: 5/5 tasty and fresh, miniature portions of the adult menu
Service: 4/5 – friendly, smily staff – happy to explain the menu
Baby-friendly: 4/5 great menu, cool highchairs – not much space for large prams – we put our umbrella fold under the table, but if we’d had the larger buggy we’d be a bit stuck.  Take your sling!
Toilets/baby-change: 4/5 spotlessly clean – I didn’t use the babychange here but my friend said it was fine!

Total: 17/20

Perfect Prep to the rescue

As I’d planned to breastfeed, I hadn’t even looked at what bottle-feeding involved.
Yes, I had been prepared and bought some bottles but they were to supposed to be for expressed milk, not formula.

In hospital we had been given ready made formula, with teats that screw directly onto the bottles. (Looking back, it’s funny how tiny those bottles were and if we could get E to drink half of it we were lucky!)

Whilst I was still in hospital husband and I discussed what to do when we got home. Ready made formula is expensive so we decided to go for powdered formula so off he went to the supermarket opposite the hospital to purchase a tub so we were all set for our departure that evening.

When we arrived home we still had a couple of bottles so that was simple – then came the night feeds!!

We’d spent the evening (along with being completely in awe of the little baby that was lying in our living room) googling ‘how to make up formula’.

Doing it by the book

We stuck with the NHS guidelines of making up a formula feed fresh every time, by boiling a kettle, letting it cool for 30 minutes and then making up the feed.
However what the NHS don’t tell you is that a hungry baby doesn’t have a stopwatch and won’t wait for half an hour while your water cools down! This was stressful!

So we decided to go with the other option of boiling the kettle, making up the feed and then cooling the bottle down under a running tap. It still took ages to get to the right temperature (and I was having mild panic attacks about my water bills!)

The Old Fashioned Way

On the internet forums that I’d been reading, many people were discussing how they made up batch feeds, kept them in the (back of the) fridge and then warmed them up slightly in a jug of boiling water. Not the official guidelines but helped them get through the night. So before we went to bed, we decided to do the same and make up at least a couple of bottles.

The next day the midwife came to see us and stressed how important it was to make fresh feeds every time. We didn’t tell her we’d made up bottles in advance but she still made me feel incredibly guilty as if she knew what we’d done. She wasn’t the most pleasant of midwives i’d come across, and if I could have my time over id have told her so, however as a brand new mum who’s overwhelmed with EVERYTHING unfortunately I took her word as gospel.

So the next day we returned to making the feeds up each time we needed one, including through the night. And believe me, when your baby is feeding on demand every 1-2 hours this is NOT fun!! I don’t know how long it takes a kettle to boil but when it’s at 3am in the morning, it takes FOREVER!

I needed a solution

A lovely lady I’d met on the internet years previously had been talking about the same thing a couple of months previously with her newborn, and had been singing the praises of some kind of gadget that would help with the preparation of formula. I didn’t pay a great deal of attention at the time, apart from thinking ‘how difficult can it be to make formula?’

Well now I know!!

So I decided to find out more about this gadget to see if it could revolutionise my life…

The Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine retails at approx £100, however there are usually offers around on Amazon and stores such as Toys R Us, Argos and Mothercare. It’s also worth checking out the baby event in Asda too as it was down to about £60 when this was on.

It looks like this:

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Basically it’s a glorified coffee machine for babies. You first run through a simple rigmarole of cleaning and adding a filter (takes about 5-10 mins) and then it’s set up and ready to go, just add water!

There is a dial on the perfect prep so you can set it to how much formula you want to make, from 4 ozs to 10 ozs. Once you’ve set the level, then you press the big button once and it gives a burst of boiling water into our bottle. This kills off any bugs that are present in the powdered formula. Add in your scoops of powder, give it a good swirl to mix it and then place back under the tap and press the button again (it glows green to remind you and you have 2 mins to press it, if not you need to start over again). This then fills your bottle to the required level using cool, filtered water which gives the finished milk an optimum heat of around body temperature. All in under 2 mins, so no impatient, screaming babies!

Is the Perfect Prep necessary?

The Perfect Prep should probably be considered as a luxury item but for me personally, I couldn’t have lived without it. It’s been an absolute godsend.
Of course you don’t NEED it – as we all know you can make up formula using a kettle – but seriously, if you value your sanity (and your sleep) and you have the money, buy it!! You’ll never look back!

Before we bought this, my husband and I were tearing our hair out with stress at 1am in the morning (and 3am, and 5am…and so forth). Once we bought this, it was like a giant weight had lifted off our shoulders!

A screaming baby that has to wait half an hour for a bottle, teamed with parents that have matchsticks holding their eyelids open will probably take much longer to settle than a hungry baby who’s only had to wait 2 minutes for a bottle. Chilled out parents who are able to get more sleep at night make for a much happier and relaxed baby in my opinion! (Says the mum who’s writing this blog post at 4am!!)

The only downsides to the Perfect Prep are a) the initial cost, however as I said you an sometimes pick it up much cheaper than the RRP – and to me it’d be worth every penny at twice the price and b) the minimum feed level is 4 ozs. In the early days E was only drinking 2-3 ozs per feed so we were always wasting 1-2 ozs of formula each time we made up a bottle so if you’re counting the pennies, this cost should be taken into consideration. To us this was negligible and was offset by the fact that it made our lives easier, and at the time that was priceless!

It didn’t take too long for E to increase her feeds though so now it does the job perfectly, as it’s name suggests!

If you end up formula feeding, whether through choice or necessity, then the Perfect Prep is definitely worth considering!

Tongue Tied

The first things I heard when E arrived into the world…

“Congratulations, it’s definitely a girl”

“Gosh, hasn’t she got big feet!”

“Oh she’s got a definite tongue tie there…”

The first one made me smile, the second one made me laugh, and I wasn’t sure what to think of the third…

We’d been told about tongue tie in our antenatal classes so I wasn’t completely oblivious to what it was, but I wasn’t really sure how it would affect E.

I knew it was pretty harmless but that it could potentially have an effect on feeding and we soon found out how much.

Not meant to be

If you’ve read any of my earlier posts while I was pregnant you’ll know how keen I was on breastfeeding. Shortly after E was born, I put her to the breast (with help from the midwife) and she seemed to take to it straight away – I was so pleased. However, once we moved onto the ward and attempted further feeding, it was clear that there was going to be a problem. The midwives were a tremendous support, helping E to latch on, but where they were expecting her to feed for 15-20 mins she would drop off after only a few minutes. No matter which position we tried she just wouldn’t take to it for very long. The closeness I felt when feeding was lovely but I was conscious that she just wasn’t getting enough.

I breastfed for a total of 24 hours but unfortunately we decided that the tongue tie was affecting her latch just too much so we took the decision to try E on bottles. This wasn’t instantly successful either, it took us another 24 hours to get anywhere near a decent amount of milk down her, but at least she was taking in something.

The good thing was that her nappies were changing so we knew she was actually getting some nutrition, however feeding times were slow and difficult. All the other babies on the ward seemed to be taking to the breast or bottle really easily and were being discharged in a matter of hours after birth whereas I was still here 48 hrs on.

As much as I wanted to get home and settle down with my new little family, looking back I’m glad that I stayed in hospital for as long as I did. With the problems that we had with feeding, I couldn’t have asked for any more support. They were there through day and night – there were times that I felt I had them at my bedside constantly!! When we finally did get home, I felt lost without them!

A waiting game

Unfortunately, in regards to the tongue tie, E’s birth came just at the wrong time. If the problem had been sorted within the first couple of days, I truly believe that I would still have had a good chance at breastfeeding but as it was we would have to wait for another few weeks. The lactation consultant that deals with tongue tie cases had just gone on holiday for two weeks and apparently shes was the only one in the whole county that could help! I of course had the choice of expressing breastmilk but with E feeding only every 1-2 hrs, and expressing between those times, there was simply no time to enjoy being a new mum and taking pleasure in my lovely new daughter!
If I’d only had to do it for a few days, it might have been different but by the time we finally got our appointment with the consultant, E was almost 4 weeks old.

The right decision

Taking the decision to solely feed E with formula was simply the right way to go, but it was a really hard one for me to make and there were tears a plenty. For days I chastised myself for not trying hard enough and the crying was almost like I was grieving for something. I suppose I’d thought about it for so long while I was pregnant that it took me a while to come to terms with not being able to do it, but seeing E thrive once she started taking to the bottles gave me a huge sense of relief that we had made the right decision.
It’s about her, not me. Although the benefits of bottle feeding, including daddy being able to help out have obviously been great for me too!

All’s well that ends well

When we eventually got to see the consultant (just last week), I told her about trying with breastfeeding in the early days but she took one look at the tongue tie, and said “you’d have had no chance with that”. With that one sentence all the issue of self-loathing that I’d had weeks earlier instantly dissolved.

E had her tongue tie snipped – and despite a few tears (from me, not her), all is now well. E has a wonderful free moving tongue and has delighted in sticking it out at mummy and daddy at every occasion! It might be a rude gesture but to us it’s perfect as it’s a sign that she’s happier than ever!

Boobs, bras and breastfeeding

If there is one thing that I’m panicking about once baby arrives is being able to breastfeed.

It’s something that I really would like to do, and determined to give it my best shot – however I appreciate that it doesn’t work for everyone.

Unfortunately most of the mums I know haven’t had the best experiences and have ended up bottle feeding so I don’t have many positive role models.  It’s also something that it’s pretty hard to prepare for as you don’t know how you’re going to get on until the baby arrives…

If I’m successful I thought the least I could do was get myself some tools for the job… I’d like to get a breast pump to help things along but I’m going to wait to see what happens before I spend any money on something like this so my starting point is to arm myself with some nursing bras!

Bra shopping traumas

Being a rather well-endowed lady, it’s not been an easy task to find well-fitting bras at the best of times.  I had a bit of a bra epiphany a couple of years ago after discovering the wonderful Georgina at Fuller Figure Fuller Bust and since then have tended to stick to the same range (Freya) which offers great support for us big-boobed girls.

Knowing that I’d have to relegate my rigid underwired bras to the back of the wardrobe for a while actually brought me out in cold shivers – where was my support going to come from?

A few months back I bought a non-wired maternity bra from Freya in my usual size, but I was so disappointed in it.  It gave me absolutely no support whatsoever, flattened my boobs completely and made me feel like a frumpy old women.  In the early stages of pregnancy when my boobs were hurting quite a lot, it was the most comfortable thing to wear but once that had worn off I went back to my trustworthy old bras.

This time round I was determined to get something which not only brought comfort and practicality but actually gave me a bit of shape.  It didn’t need to be glamourous – It’s not like I’m planning on flashing my underwear to anyone except husband and baby!

I went to Mothercare to get measured – normally I’d completely gag at the thought of getting measured somewhere other than Bravissimo (I’ve had horrendous experiences with measurements at both Debenhams and M&S), but I assumed as a dedicated maternity and baby retailer, the assistants in there would have a good knowledge of the right type of bra to wear for nursing – and the support that a new mum needs.

Out comes the tape measure

When she measured me I was quite pleasantly surprised.  I know that many girls get bigger breasts in pregnancy and being a 34H normally, I was a little bit worried about growing to some ridiculous size that would mean I’d really have a shortage of bras to choose from.   However, I came out at a 40G – so I’ve expanded a few inches around my ribcage but the difference between the fullest part of my bust had decreased, meaning I’d gone down a cup size.

Seeing as the most lingerie retailers go up to a G nowadays (I really struggled with the H’s previously) I was pretty pleased that I could probably find a bra at a reasonable price – and actually be able to try it on in the shop!

I picked up a few of the nursing bras in Mothercare to try on but they were a disaster – the majority of them gave no support whatsoever, and just made my breasts sag down to the side – a very attractive look!!

I did however find the perfect bra eventually!!   This is the one I went for:

Mothercare Blooming Marvellous Padded Nursing Bra£18.00

NB: I went a back size down with this bra to 38G, as although I’d measured at a 40, the backband in all the 40s I tried on just felt too big – the 38 on this one felt snug, which is exactly what I look for in a bra.

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It’s very pretty with a lace trim, and it’s slightly padded so it’s comfortable whilst giving you the feeling of support around your breasts.  It’s by far the most supportive non-underwired bra I’ve worn so far (which isn’t many I admit).

If they’d had this bra in different colours, I would have bought all of them!  That is however, the one thing that lets Mothercare down is the ranges that they have in larger sizes.  They also do a pretty pink lace bra, but with no padding it didnt feel like it gave me any support at all.  I also bought a Black T-Shirt Nursing Bra which also has slight padding but didn’t feel quite as nice as the one above.  However at £16.00 it was very reasonably priced and should be comfortable and practical enough for feeding time!

Let’s just hope I can crack it when the times comes!!