Monday, 20 May 2013

Junior's cup collection


When Junior was born, we started reading the long lists of must-haves for babies and parents. Some of them seemed essential - nappies, clothes, buggy - and others, not so much - Diaper Genie. We made it a goal not to buy more stuff than we needed, and to buy multifunctional things where possible (a cot that turns into a bed, for example).

To a large extent, we have succeeded, but S pointed out the other day that Junior's cup collection runneth over (if you'll excuse the pun). I thought I'd chronicle the evolution of his drinking equipment and skills before relegating some of the lesser-used vessels to storage.

1. Bottles
Philips Avent bottle and trainer

Before Junior was born, I intended to try breastfeeding, but I bought some bottles to have on hand in case we needed to give him formula. I managed to breastfeed exclusively for the first five weeks; then we began supplementing with formula. Junior did not have any trouble adjusting to his bottle. In fact, he started holding it around ten weeks, and by sixteen weeks he was drinking by himself - quite a popular (and envied!) party trick among the playgroup set. I gave him the trainer attachment around six months when I was ready to move him onto sippy cups. Oddly, he didn't take to it - but he was fine with a proper sippy cup.

2. Free flow sippy cups
Tommee Tippee First Cup and First Beaker

There is some debate over the types of sippy cup: free flow or spill-proof. The received wisdom says that spill-proof cups are bad for growing teeth, but I have yet to read or hear any compelling evidence for this - please feel free to set me straight in the comments. That said, Junior seems to prefer his free flow Tommee Tippee cup with handles for water, although he will accept the beaker if it is offered. He does not like drinking milk from these, however.

3. Spill-proof sippy cups
anywayupcup Cow and Bird cups

I found out about anywayupcups from @SonyaCisco's review here:
I was still trying to introduce milk in a sippy cup, and the cow cup seemed like a good bet. I ordered one cow cup and one bird cup. Sadly, Junior never managed to drink more than a few sips of milk from the cow cup, and the only disadvantage of the cup is that it is not see-through (I had become somewhat obsessed with knowing exactly how many ml's of liquid he was taking when we introduced formula). He also prefers water in the bird cup (which is see-through). For now, I leave the cow cup in his cot with some water so that he can take a drink overnight if he needs it. He does not use it often, but knows it is there.

4. Straw cup
Nuby insulated flip it

My nephew uses straw cups, so I thought this might be a good alternative for Junior. He loves to play with it, but has not yet managed to suck hard enough to get any liquid from it. I'm putting this one in storage and waiting until he's bigger to reintroduce it.

5. 360 cup
anywayupcup 360 Junior cup

When I ordered the cow and bird cups, there was a delay in production and the bird cup did not come immediately. After a few months, I wrote to the company and asked if I could have a 360 cup instead. Junior had shown interest in drinking directly from our glasses and tea mugs, so I thought he might be ready (if young) for one of these. Like the straw cup, he loves playing with this cup, but does not manage to drink much from it yet. I'll reintroduce it in a few months when he has more control.

A last word about anywayupcup: once the bird cups were back in production, they sent me not just one, but TWO bird cups! I had already received the 360 cup as a replacement, so I was not expecting anything further. I gave one to another mummy blogger whose daughter is starting to eat solids now. I hope she likes it. Two thumbs up for anywayupcup - great customer service! Thank you again...

6. Sigg water bottle
Sigg toddler cup

Our most recent discovery has been Junior's Sigg cup. When we were in Barcelona, he preferred drinking straight from our sports-cap Evian bottles, rather than using his sippy cups. Two friends recommended trying a Sigg bottle with a toddler top - it's perfect! He will drink a whole bottle of milk from it. In fact, at seventeen months we got him off the Avent bottles completely; he now drinks water from his sippy cups, and milk from the Sigg. He loves the design and turns it around to look at each animal. I also had it engraved with his name for no extra charge (see here: engraving)

In conclusion
I started giving Junior cups almost one year ago, and it is interesting to see which ones have worked and which have not. He seems to understand the mechanics of drinking with no coaching, but has more success with some shapes and nozzles than others. I did not expect the Sigg cup to be such an automatic winner, but he took to it with no hesitation. I will still try the straw cup and 360 cup when I think he's ready for the next level, but I'm happy with his Sigg/sippy combination for now.

And the best news: he has stopped breastfeeding on his own! At the start, I hoped to reach one year. The first few months were long and painful, but we hit our stride around seven months. At twelve months, I started pulling back but he still relied on it, especially overnight. I never imagined I'd still be breastfeeding at seventeen months - and apparently, neither did he. We had cut back to one feed in 24 hours, then it stretched to 48 hours, and then several days passed and he has not needed a feed. He seems perfectly fine and so am I.

About the brands
I do a lot of research before buying things for Junior, partly from other mums, partly online, partly in shops. I am happy with the brands I have chosen, but I'm sure Junior would have done just as well with different ones. None of the companies I have mentioned asked for a review, but I'm happy enough with their products to promote them. Feel free to use this post for reference - I know it's hard to find good information out there! - but trust your own instincts in the end. Like all mums, I'm hardly an expert...!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

happy in my skin

For Christmas, my lovely in-laws gave me a voucher for a massage, and I used it over the weekend. The spa was not one I would have normally chosen - it was more of a posh gym that offered treatments - but that's what makes gifts like this fun. I had the opportunity to spend an afternoon in a part of London I rarely go to, at a spa I didn't know existed.

Upon arrival, I was asked to complete a confidential health questionnaire. No big deal. But several of the questions seemed odd. Out of place. Unnecessary.

What is your main concern?
I wasn't particularly concerned about anything. I was there to relax and refresh. So I wrote "relaxation".

If there was one thing you could change about your body, what would it be?
Hang on, I'm just here for a massage. What are you planning to do to me?!

How would you like to feel today after your treatment?
Ummm, see question 1.

I didn't spend very long answering the questions, but they stayed on my mind. After I had finished registering, I had about 45 minutes to spare before the massage so I went for a swim in the pool. If I had had any doubts about the gym/spa, they were confirmed: I am not their target demographic. Most of the members looked to be attractive twenty-something singles. Men with six-pack abs giving their muscles a rest in the jacuzzi. Women in bikinis using the sauna. Even when I was a single twenty-something, I didn't dare wear a bikini - I avoided bathing suits as a matter of course.

In my early thirties, I finally developed a healthy body image. I knew that I'd never be skinny (at least, not without more diet and exercise than I was ever likely to manage and sustain), and I accepted it. I knew I'd never be 5'10". I knew my curly hair would never hang straight without professional assistance. And I decided that this was all fine. Real women have curves. Real women go grey before forty. Real women have imperfect breasts. And real men appreciate real women (and have their own body issues, too).

So I became happy in my skin. I had a healthy pregnancy. My body has changed - things have shifted and stretched, but to be fair, I had stretch marks before pregnancy. I wear them with pride. War wounds, if you will.

Back to question 2. I answered, "quite happy in my skin, thank you". But the more I thought about it, the more it bothered me that they even asked. What message does that send to their normal members? Why are their members so body-conscious, so self-conscious, that they want to change their bodies so dramatically?

Outside - outside my little world, outside the spa - there has been a recent backlash relating to a stupid comment made by the CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch. You can read about it elsewhere. Suffice it to say, I'm not A&F's target demographic, even if I were skinny/rich enough to shop there. I've never been drawn to their clothes, which is just as well since I'd never fit into them.

But presumably there is some overlap between those particular gym members, and A&F customers. Presumably quite a lot of the women - and men - push themselves at the gym so that they can wear trendy, "cool" clothes. And while I'd like to think that they're confident, well-adjusted people, I'd bet that there are parts of their bodies they'd like to change. Bigger pecs, smaller waists. Maybe in extreme cases, cosmetic surgery for a nose job or more shapely boobs. Questions and comments like this perpetuate a culture obsessed with perfection, defined as skinny, tall, tanned, primped, preened. SIGH.

As for me, I enjoyed the massage. I did leave feeling relaxed. I didn't worry about showing my big thighs in my swimsuit. Would I want to change anything about my body? YES - I have always wanted to be taller! But can I change that? Not without a magic wand or fairy godmother. So for now, I'm happy in my skin, with my greying hair and forty-year old eyes that now need reading glasses. I don't/won't shop at A&F. I should do more exercise and eat better, but not in order to fit someone else's idea of beauty.

And that's all fine.