What you need: the first 6 months

Now Elizabeth is 6 months old I thought I'd share a few of the things that we have found useful for life with a 0-6 month old. This is by no means a definitive guide or a guide to 'essentials', those would be more along the lines of buggy/car seat/cot, dependent on your location/lifestyle/budget and a bit boring. These are the things that have made our life easier and/or more enjoyable with our young baby.

What you need: the first 6 months
  1. A decent nursing bra. Very important if you plan to breastfeed. I started out with an M&S 2 pack (thanks mum!) and although they were good for the hospital and the first few weeks when my boobs were like watermelons and I didn't leave the house much, they weren't supportive enough for everyday life (I do wear them in bed though - worth doing when you're breastfeeding and run the risk of boob leakage all over your new Orla Kiely duvet set). I got measured at a specialist shop and was reassured by the saleswoman that it's fine to have an underwired nursing bra - hooray! Getting the correct support and a better shape did wonders for my postpartum confidence. I got this one from Anita maternity.  
  2.  A baby carrier or sling. We have a baby bjorn on long-term lone from a friend. I use it nearly everyday. In the early days it calms your baby whilst giving you free hands to do more important things, like go to the toilet or apply make-up. Useful. You can go on walks, cruise the supermarket and easily ride the tube/bus, and your baby will love it. It used to send Elizabeth to sleep in minutes. Nowadays she loves facing out and I use it to wind her down her at the end of the day. If I were to buy one I'd go for a sling that you could breastfeed in like this one.
  3. A bouncy chair - doesn't need to be fancy at all - the one pictured is just an example as we inherited a pink vibrating one from a friend. Like the sling, it's good for co-existing happily with your baby. Babies don't want to be lying down all the time, Elizabeth certainly didn't. She welcomed the change in perspective and for a while the vibrations calmed her down. She's outgrown it now and really objects to being strapped in. Good till about 5 months or until your baby can sit unsupported. 
  4. Hand cream. You will be constantly washing your hands, washing your baby, washing bottles and wiping stuff up. Your hands will get dry. Very dry. My bestie bought me this Neil's Yard Melissa hand cream after E's birth. It does the job and smells divine.
  5. The Nuk. This might not be for everyone but getting a baby who's used to nipples to accept a bottle can be challenging. Elizabeth wouldn't take the tommee tippee bottles we had naively stocked up on. After weeks of unsuccessful and stressful attempts we remembered a recommendation for the Nuk which (sorry this is gross) flattens out in the mouth more like a nipple. We bought one and it wasn't a miracle cure but it did work eventually. Essential if you want to do anything that involves being away from your baby for longer than 3 hours.
  6. A bouncer. This is just for fun. My folks bought it for E for Christmas and she absolutely LOVES it. This is the one we have. Buy for a very happy baby. 
  7. Le Sophie. The best teething toy we have come across so far (and we have a lot), bought for E by her Auntie Eddy. There isn't a photo of Elizabeth from Christmas without Sophie's head poking out of her mouth. She goes back to it time and time again.
  8. Instagram. I'm a bit addicted to instagram (@julesandclem in case you were wondering) and have loved documenting E's life so far on this fun app. I can barely remember those funny new born faces she used to pull, her first smile, our first trip out together, how tiny she was. But it's ok, I don't have to, it's all on instagram! Highly recommend this free app. 
There you have it. Have I missed anything? Do you agree/disagree? 

Better skin: step 2 (the hard part)

I've been putting off writing this post, mainly because I don't want to actually do it. But to do these fancy products justice I really need to improve my diet. My problem: Sugar. I am addicted to the stuff. From my morning coffee to the ketchup on the side of my dinner, my life is full of sugar and I bloody love it. But it causes inflammation...or something. I don't really know, but I keep reading how bad it is and as I don't smoke, rarely drink and almost never go out in the sun (I live in England for f'sake!) my sugar intake seems to be the only 'lifestyle' factor I can blame my bad skin on. Apparently it's an easy addiction to kick. We'll see. Here's my strategy:
  1. Stop adding sugar to coffee. I have (a generous) 2 teaspoons per cup. Over a day that's 4-6. I don't even taste the coffee anymore.
  2. Stop drinking squash. I drink about 2 pints of squash a day and always congratulate myself on my ample water consumption. But adding sugary cordial is cancelling out any good. Will replace with herbal tea, the nice flavours like peppermint and peach ginger snaps. 
  3. Throw away the ketchup. I'm an adult, I can do this. 
  4. Have no more than 2 pieces of fruit a day. Will make up vitamins in veggies. Easy.
  5. Say no to cake and biscuits. I got through pregnancy on cake and chocolate digestives and have grown very fond of both. This is going to be the hardest. 
So there we go. Now I've written it down I have to do it. Supposedly it won't take long for my palette to 're-set' and soon I'll be finding all sorts of formally bland tasting foods sweet. I like the sound of that. Other benefits might include shifting that last stone of baby weight. Bonus. Will check back in a month or so with results.

Do you have any tips for better skin? 


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"A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2013."

A sleeping baby. A rare and beautiful thing. This was taken on the platform waiting for our train into London on Saturday. We met up with friends, had a walk by the Thames and then a play date. E was perfectly behaved - catnapping when she could, full of smiles and curiosity. We had a good day. 

6 months

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Already? Really? It seems like only yesterday that we were on the labour ward clutching our little black eyed baby, exhausted and ecstatic, yet I struggle to remember a time when my life did not revolve round her. Pregnancy is a distant memory. Life before that? A different world. And here we are with a 6 month old mini person in our house. Shiiiiiit.

At 6 months she really is her own person. She's all about the good times - making new friends, achieving new stuff, persistent and good natured. Rolling is the mode of transport de jour. Check out the look of concentration on her face. I kinda thought she'd just fall into it, almost accidentally, but no, it is a carefully calculated maneuver and boy is she is pleased about it. The world is ripe for exploring (or at least her room and our bed).

measuring roughly the size of this pasty
She's started properly chatting, not actual words, but funny little nonsense sentences with proper intonations. Daa daa da daaaa da is a favourite. Matt is particularly smug about that. She is very friendly and will chat away to most people. The conversation starts out pretty civil but soon crescendos into red faced shrieking and enthusiastic bouncing (she LOVES to bounce) at which point her fellow conversationalist usually looks a bit scared and hands her back to me. Thanks!     

She's been eating solids for about a month now. I say solids, its actually mush. But very tasty mush. I often eat it too. I like this new part of parenting- watching as she timidly tries a new flavour, smushes it round in her mouth and either screws up her face in disgust (apple) or eagerly grabs the spoon hoping for more (everything else). Fun. Wiping dried parsnip from her nostrils, not so much.

Stop trying to feed me apple mum

She bloody loves her dad and is hardly able to take her eyes off him. If she hears floorboards creaking outside our room she turns to the door waiting for him to burst in. It's sweet and I am not in the least bit jealous. Honest. She is also fascinated with anything adults do and never tires of grabbing at coffee mugs, phones, glasses, books etc. I can tell she is going to grow up way too quickly.

This month you have been to a new year's eve party, been to the most southerly part of the UK, and finally (touch wood) learned how to fall asleep by yourself. Happy half birthday Elizabeth.

Photos from our holiday

Traveling with a baby is hard work. I'm glad we went but it was anything other than relaxing. Here are a few of the things I was thinking about instead of unwinding: When is she going to nap next? (in the car, always) When will we get the chance to feed her? Will she be too distracted to actually eat? (yes) Will she sleep tonight? (no) Will her whole routine, which we spent countless hours, days, weeks working on, be ruined when we get home? (er, yes.) Life really is different these days. We did manage to do lots of the other things I enjoy doing on holiday though ie drink coffee in snug cafes, eat nice food, walk about, catch up with friends. I took lots of photos too. Here are my favourites:


1) Cream tea in the only place open in Padstow
2) Spending the morning in Stu's cafe
3) Stu
3) Delicious coffee
4) Two beards and a baby
5) The view from a coastal walk we took in Falmouth
6) Stu and Emily silhouettes
7) Hotel baby
8) Sunday lunch with Stu and Emily
9) Apple and quince crumble
10) Elizabeth and I walking to lands end
11) And again
12) Being tourists
13) Lands end
14) Snowy drive back through the Mendips


This post is a bit late but not without good reason. Holiday! We got back from Cornwall late last night. I could do with another holiday to recover - this little baby does not like sleeping away from home. Yawn. Still, it was great to get away. This portrait is Elizabeth with my good friend Stu who she met for the first time this weekend.

We're going on holiday

Hooray. We nearly decided not to go but I'm so glad we changed our minds. Traveling with a baby is proving more complicated than I expected - and we're only going to Cornwall! What do you do in the evening when she needs to sleep? Still not sure but we'll figure it out. I never wanted to be the type of parent whose life stopped as soon as their baby arrived. This is a small step towards making sure that doesn't happen. So, it's bye for now. I'll be updating my instagram if you're interested @julesandclem Back next week.




Here's our portrait of the week. This was taken on our bed, where we often retreat to for a bit of soft play. Elizabeth loves it, she can roll and sit and bounce around and as long as we keep her away from the edge (all hail kingsize), she's safe. I know we won't be able to do this for long, soon a time will come when we actively discourage her from playing on our bed, so I'm happy to capture this moment. It's also reflective of the week we've had. We have ventured out; lunch with mum friends, visiting my family and a visit from my lovely friend Rekha, but much of the week has been spent inside hiding from grey skies, cuddling up, reading and working. Next week we're hoping to accompany Matt on a trip down to Cornwall (he'll be working). It might not happen as traveling with a little one is proving to be more complicated than we hoped but I'm crossing everything. It would be so good to get away.

I want to ride my bicycle

Two summers ago in the midst of a tube strike I discovered Boris bikes. And what a  marvelous discovery it was. There is nothing quite as liberating as cycling around London; whizzing past tourists and jammed bus lanes, wind in your hair, joy in your heart. From that day on any trip into town became an excuse for an adventure on two wheels. Fun. And then we moved. There's no bike scheme in Berkshire and no Boris to implement one (small mercies). There are also no tourists or busy bus lanes, but there are royal parks and forests begging to be explored by bike. So I guess that means I'll be BUYING one soon. Yay. Let the bike ogling commence:


photos Papillionaire, miss moss, pinterest

Better skin: step one

I wrote in this post about how I would like better skin now I'm in my 30s. I have spots, dark circles and a dull looking complexion. I wear make up everyday. And it still looks shit. I've always been prone to breakouts but my skin got especially bad during pregnancy and hasn't improved much since giving birth. So maybe it's down to hormones, lack of sleep and worry (yep, being a mum can lead to excessive worrying. The books don't tell you that) and maybe I can't control those things. But I can control what I put onto my face and into my body. So that's what I'm doing. On the advice of this blog I'm throwing away my face wipes, my trusty time-saving face wipes, and ushering in these new kinda fancy, kinda expensive products (so kinda expensive that I had to ask for them for Christmas):


Oskia Perfect Cleanser - an emulsifying balm. You massage it on (this bit is important, here's how you do it) and wash off with a hot facecloth. It's anti-inflammatory so good for hormonal spots (hello my chin).

Clarins Lotion Tonique - this one is an old favourite but I'd let my last bottle run out a good two years ago. Balances, softens, nourishes.

Alpha-H Essential Hydration Cream - soaks into my skin instantly and is packed full of good stuff: arnica, ylang ylang, peptides and peppermint which makes my face smell a little bit like tooth paste. In a nice way.

Step two: diet. Will post about this later. 

Project 52

I read about project 52 over at My Little Acorns and now all my favourite bloggers are taking part. I want to join in too! It's a series started by Jodi at Ché and Fidel: a portrait a week of your baby, child or loved one. Obviously I'll be photographing Elizabeth (sorry Matt). I took this one on Saturday of Matt and E enjoying some skin on skin before her bath. It's pretty similar to the last picture in My week in photos. I will be more original next time I promise, and sorry for making you look at Matt's hairy chest twice in one week!


Our week in photos

Some photos from the first week of a new year (not from my instagram feed, for once!) We're easing ourselves into 2013 gently with fresh air and exercise, good reads and baby cuddles.


First taste / Ready for lunch / running shoes / reading / duck pond / Valley gardens tomem pole / E and me / Winter bloom / Little hats / Skin on skin
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