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How to introduce your pet to a new baby

We were glad to give new parents and parents to be some advice in Mumfidential. New research from The Baby Show with MadeForMums has found that nearly half of new parents today have pets and that three-quarters of parents believe that having a pet is beneficial for a child’s development, teaching them a sense of responsibility and improving their social skills. (Photo credit Bumpkins).

This said, the process of introducing the family pet to a new baby can be a tricky experience and one that needs to be managed and monitored carefully. Expert speaker at The Baby Show, Sarah Beeson MBE, and Head Vet at Notting Hill and Baron’s Court Vet, Dr Emma Nicholas, share some top tips.

Dr Emma Nicholas (Mum of 2) and Head Veterinary Nurse Anna Connell (Mum to be).

Dr Emma Nicholas (Mum of 2) and Head Veterinary Nurse Anna McConnell (Mum to be).

Dr Emma Nicholas’s tips

Prepare your pet
Give yourself plenty of time to let your dog or cat adjust to being demoted in importance before your baby arrives. You can prepare your pet by gently starting to distance yourself, for example, leaving your dog at home for slightly longer periods of time.

If your dog or cat is used to sleeping on the bed or sofa, it’s a really good idea to get them used to a bed or basket of their own nearby while you are pregnant. In this way they won’t suddenly be upset if they are no longer allowed on when the baby arrives. By encouraging your pet to become self-sufficient the stress of the change will be minimised.

Watch out for the cat litter
Pregnant women who own a cat need to keep away from the cat litter. I advise my pregnant clients not to handle the tray because of the risk of Toxoplasma. If you are worried you can ask your doctor to perform a test to see if you have antibodies to the parasite.

Prepare your home
A lot women worry about cats getting into the cot with the baby. When I had my babies I had three cats and I was very worried about this. I bought a cat net to go over the cot to stop any cat jumping in and to put my mind at ease. A stair gate can also be useful for stopping the dog going upstairs (something that will come in useful when the baby starts climbing too!)

Make time for your pet
When your baby arrives, do make time for your cat or dog when you can or she will feel neglected. Try and keep to her routine and give her a cuddle when you can. It’ll do you good too. Studies consistently show that owning a pet is good for us. It drops our blood pressure and creates a sense of well-being.

Having a baby can be challenging at times and maintaining who you are is important. Your previous relationship with your pet may seem at first glance to be a trivial thing to some, but I believe that it helps you to maintain a sense of self whilst everything around and about you is changing. Embrace the fact you have a furry friend!

Keep your pet’s routine
Work out in advance how you can manage caring for your baby alongside your dog’s usual walk times. It is important that your dog doesn’t feel rejected when the baby comes home; forward planning will make it easier to adjust your dog’s routines as your baby’s routines change too.

Ask for help
Having some friends and family who can step in to take on dog or baby duties will help you get the rest you need.

Get some fresh air
It can be really great for mum, baby and dog to go for a walk. I really enjoyed the exercise and the head space it gave me. Everyone’s needs were met so it’s a win-win when you feel up to it. Babies who get out in the fresh air on a daily basis also have much more chance of sleeping well at night. The soothing motion frequently induces slumber so, fingers crossed after you’ve walked the dog you can put your feet up with a cuppa when you return home.

Sarah Beeson MBE (photo credit Our Family Film)

Sarah Beeson MBE (photo credit Our Family Film)

Sarah Beeson MBE health visitor and author of Happy Baby, Happy Family: Learning to trust yourself and enjoy your baby agrees that preparation is the key.

Sarah Beeson’s safety tips for pets and babies

1. No matter how nice your dog or cat is, it’s better to be cautious as accidents can happen in a spilt second.

2. Never leave your pet unattended around your baby or put them close together. If your baby pulls or hits the animal they are likely to retaliate on instinct.

3. Play it cool, don’t try and too hard to get your pet to like the baby, they’ll become friends in their own time.

4. Be realistic about your pet’s ability to understand and recognise what’s happening; it’s natural they may feel pushed out.

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#PND – Signs of Postnatal Depression in Mums

Sarah Beeson talks to Kate Saines about Postnatal Depression in Just Her a magazine for military mums. 

There’s advice and the EPDS quiz for mum’s on depression in Chapter Three of Sarah’s book Happy Baby, Happy Family.’

Mums with older babies get postnatal depression too, it’s not just when you have a newborn 

“Postnatal depression, generally, is much higher than we realise because women either don’t want to say they have it, or don’t get an opportunity to say,” said Sarah, who is also author of Happy Baby, Happy Family.

But there are other factors, which Sarah believes provide a barrier to women coming forward. For one, there is a misconception that postnatal depression is suffered only by women with newborn babies.

In fact, Sarah believes the illness can occur in women whose babies are up to nine or ten months old and sometimes, even, in mums with toddlers.

“Often it’s seen in mothers with new babies,” she explained, “but usually it’s when the baby is three, four or five months old that postnatal depression can start.”

And it’s this misconception that discourages women from opening up to their health visitor, doctors or families – they believe they shouldn’t be feeling depressed at this stage.

Anyone, in any situation, from any background can get postnatal depression. Sarah said some women, maybe those who have lots of family nearby and seem to have a strong support network in place, often think they don’t deserve to seek help. But, said Sarah, everyone who recognises the signs should be frank and seek help, because support is there for all.

 Why women with partners in the military are at high risk of postnatal depression

But while anyone can suffer, there are certain groups of women who are more vulnerable to postnatal depression, and this includes those whose partners are in the armed forces.

“It all falls on the women.” said Sarah, “The childcare, housework, keeping things together. Plus there’s all the worry. It’s almost as if they are not allowed to express feelings of isolation, stress and anxiety.”

“Some women can’t say anything. They can’t say it because that makes it real.”  Importance of PND Support networks 

But Sarah believes that by actually admitting to these feelings, sharing them and admitting how you feel you are helping yourself on to the road to recovery.

But there are lots of other ways actually speaking out can help you. Sarah explained that there may be support in your area from charity Homestart which provides volunteers – who are all parents themselves – to help look after the kids while you have a sleep, do some housework or accompanying you on trips. In some areas there are PND support groups.

By speaking to friends, particularly those with babies the same age, you may find someone else who is the same situation.

Sarah said: “I have spoken to women who see other mums with babies and think ‘they know what they are doing’ but often those other women are looking at her and thinking exactly the same.

“When you are in the same boat there is a bond and support and often women going through PND can help each other and go on to have lasting friendships.”

Activities such as yoga can help with depression – some yoga teachers run classes where mums can bring their babies. Sarah also advises using relaxation CDs or DVDs and treating yourself to a spa day or back massage to provide some respite from the everyday strains.  How to help a friend you think may be postnatally depressed

Finally, if you happen to be reading this and think a friend or family member might be suffering from postnatal depression you may be wondering how to approach them about the subject.

Sarah suggests opening a dialogue with them, rather than just asking “how are you?”

“As a health visitor, I would never just ask someone how they were because people generally always say they are well. Instead I would ask them what sort of week they had. This opens a dialogue and gives them permission to open up and not have to put on a front.” 

If you’ve got a question about your LO check out Ask Sarah or get in touch.

Sarah Beeson is a health visitor and author of Happy Baby, Happy Family. She writes with her daughter Mumpreneur and writer Amy Beeson. Sarah’s memoir of training to be a nurse in 1970s London The New Arrival is a heartwarming true story published by HarperCollins.

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Am I changing the nappy right?

You’ll be an expert in no time but who couldn’t do with a few tips from a baby expert on avoiding nappy disasters. Sarah Beeson shares her top tips with Prima Baby magazine.

Safety first

When changing your baby’s nappy Sarah says “It’s safest on the floor. If you have a back or knee problem it’s fine to use a changing table, but you have to be there every second as your baby will soon get to the stage where he can roll off.”

The dirty deed

“Clean him every time, whether he’s done a wee or a poo. I’ve nothing against wipes, but some babies are sensitive and react to them. Alternatively, big lint-free cotton wool pads are good. Use slightly warm water and squeeze it so its not sopping wet.”

Preventing nappy rash

“Use a thin layer of barrier cream at most nappy changes. Every day, give your baby five minutes of nappy-free time kicking on the changing mat on the floor- it really does help prevent nappy rash. Line the mat with some paper towel or an old towel first.”

 

all ready

“If you have a boy, make sure his penis is pointing down when you put the nappy on, otherwise when he wees it will go up his neck!”

About Sarah Beeson

If you’ve got a question about your LO check out Ask Sarah or get in touch.

Sarah Beeson is a health visitor and author of Happy Baby, Happy Family. She writes with her daughter Mumpreneur and writer Amy Beeson. Sarah’s memoir of training to be a nurse in 1970s London The New Arrival is a heartwarming true story published by HarperCollins.

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Why does my LO do that? Problem pages in Mother & Baby

Sarah answers real mums behaviour questions in Mother & Baby magazine. Why won’t my three-year old poo on the potty? Is it OK to pass my baby around for cuddles? Do the terrible two’s really exist?


Potty problems

“Gentle encouragement and opportunity are what’s needed here.”

“Make doing a wee on the potty a part if normal everyday routine, without  saying much about having a poo.”

“Let her sit on the potty in her nappy , if she wants to. Loosen the tabs day by day until it’s almost falling off, then replace the nappy with toilet paper.”

Cuddles

“Your baby will tell you how she feels about it. Always responding swiftly to her needs is what matters.”

“Newborn babies often aren’t bothered…It’s when she gets to seven months plus that she may prefer to be held by Mum and Dad..”

 

Terrible twos

“As with everything, it varies from child to child.”

“Each child is unique, but every one needs praise, love, security and a consistent approach to dealing with the terrible or not-so-terrible twos.”

“Suggest let’s do this rather than ‘no, don’t do that’, and physically him out of the situation.”

About Sarah

Sarah Beeson is a health visitor and author of Happy Baby, Happy Family. She writes with her daughter Mumpreneur and writer Amy Beeson. Sarah’s memoir of training to be a nurse in 1970s London The New Arrival is a heartwarming true story published by HarperCollins.

If you’ve got a question about your LO check out Ask Sarah or get in touch.

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Why each child develops at their own pace 

Sarah Beeson MBE health visitor and author explained why four mums Little Ones’ developed at a different paces. Answering questions on weight gain, walking, talking and why twins and premature babies may develop at different speeds for Gurgle Magazine.

Walking

‘Most children start walking somewhere between ten and 22 months. And taller babies  may take  longer than those with shorter legs. Tummy time and floor play really help – and try to resist the urge to hold a pre-walking baby’s hands; cruising around the furniture and pulling themselves up to standing is vital exercise for strengthening all the important muscles needed for walking.’

Baby’s Weight

‘Some babies are just slower to gain weight than others, and very “long” babies may be slower than shorter ones. But generally, if a baby seems contended – smiling, happy and producing plenty of soiled nappies – there may be no need to worry. ‘ In Chapter One of Sarah’s book Happy Baby, Happy Family she explains the three signs that tell you if you’re baby is getting enough milk – and weight gain is just one. 

Talking

‘It’s expected that premature babies will be slower to reach key milestones, although by about a year they are likely to be catching up. A speech and language therapist can help enormously. These are very important areas of a child’s development, paving the way for all other cognitive skills. Ask your GP to refer you if you have any concerns.’

Twins

‘Any direct comparison between children is unhelpful, but that’s doubly the case with twins. As with language learning in adults, some babies need to have all the components of language learning in place before they will even utter a single word – and it’s common for some children to wait until they’re well past two to do so – whereas others start babbling from a very early age and imitating all the sounds they hear.’

About Sarah Beeson

cropped-sarah-beeson-circle.jpgIf you’ve got a question about your LO check out Ask Sarah or get in touch.

Sarah Beeson is a health visitor and author of Happy Baby, Happy Family. She writes with her daughter Mumpreneur and writer Amy Beeson. Sarah’s memoir of training to be a nurse in 1970s London The New Arrival is a heartwarming true story published by HarperCollins.

 

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How do I make mornings go more smoothy?

Sarah Beeson in Prima Baby Magazine with some parenting advice on how mums can have smoother and happier mornings.


Nail their routine

“When children spend too long in their PJs they often won’t be willing to break off from what they’re doing. Get them washed and dressed and clean their teeth first thing. Use an apron to keep clothes clean while they have breakfast.”

Keep them on side

use narrative

“Pretend you’re a football commentator and narrate what’s going on”…”For example ‘Are those your shoes? Shall we put them on?'”

speak nicely

“Don’t order them around, try to be inclusive. Say ‘Let’s do this’ rather than ‘Do this now!’. And speak in a warm, friendly tone.”

give regular praise

“Always say ‘Well done’ if they eat their breakfast. Otherwise why will they bother in the future? If their behaviour is really awful, blame the behaviour, not the child. For example, say ‘Kicking is not acceptable behaviour'”

offer two choices

“Give two choices-both things that you’re happy with. For example, say “Do you want toast or porridge today?”

give yourself credit

“If it all goes a bit pear-shaped, don’t beat yourself up- it happens to everyone. Don’t focus on what’s gone wrong, just give yourself credit for everything you have managed to do. Remember that most of the time you’re doing a splendid job.”

about sarah

If you’ve got a question about your LO check out Ask Sarah or get in touch.

Sarah Beeson is a health visitor and author of Happy Baby, Happy Family. She writes with her daughter Mumpreneur and writer Amy Beeson. Sarah’s memoir of training to be a nurse in 1970s London The New Arrival is a heartwarming true story published by HarperCollins.

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Using gentle touch and sound to help your baby sleep

Sarah Beeson MBE parenting author and health visitor was happy to give some baby expert tips for The Pink Lining Papers on how mums and dads can help their Little One get calmly off to sleep.

And so to bed…

By Sarah Beeson MBE Author & Health Visitor

Getting the right amount of nap time and milk during the day is part of the secret to a good night’s sleep. Frequent feeding during the day often means your Little One will wake less frequently in the night. It is normal for a newborn baby to wake to feed in the night because they don’t have a concept of night and day, only the inner clock that demands feeding.

The right amount of sleep varies from baby to baby but they all need a good night’s sleep and restful naptimes which you can facilitate. Sleep is important because your baby is growing whilst they slumber – it is their time to rest and recuperate and is vital for development, so your baby can reach their optimum growth.

Music
Babies respond positively to calm and harmonious voices that they recognise from life in the womb. Your voice is familiar and relaxing and gentle tunes will make your Little One to feel safe and secure, helping them to drift off into a peaceful sleep.

Singing a lullaby or playing gentle music can really work wonders on some babies. You’ll soon learn what your baby likes to hear, and if you sang and played music a lot while you were pregnant it’s quite likely they’ll like those tunes best of all.

I remember when Neighbours was at the height of its popularity. Pregnant women would often put their feet up and relax to enjoy the show. I found there was a whole generation of infants who stopped crying and nodded off when they heard the Neighbours theme song.

Shush, shush, shush
Making gentle, rhythmic shushing sounds will often help babies to relax. It stimulates the noises of blood circulating heard in the womb. From gently behind the ear, not into the ear, make low-level rhythmic shushing noises for a couple of minutes to calm your Little One.

Stroking their forehead and temple of the back of the head
Some babies like gentle stroking to their head. This rhythmic motion and the warmth of your touch can be very soothing and help them get off to sleep.

There is no one way to put your baby to bed. Trust your instincts and do what fees right. Most parents instinctively combine a number of techniques that reassure and soothe their Little One – you are the expert on your own baby.

For more information
For more advice on all things baby and lots of advice on sleep including Sarah’s instant baby calming the Up-Down Technique read Happy Baby, Happy Family: Learning to trust yourself and enjoy your baby by Sarah Beeson MBE it’s Prima Baby book of the month. (Published by Harper Thorsons in paperback, ebook and audio book).

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If you’ve got a question about your LO check out Ask Sarah or get in touch.

Sarah Beeson is a health visitor and author of Happy Baby, Happy Family. She writes with her daughter Mumpreneur and writer Amy Beeson. Sarah’s memoir of training to be a nurse in 1970s London The New Arrival is a heartwarming true story published by HarperCollins.

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Do you ask yourself if you’re a good parent?

Sarah Beeson MBE author of parenting and baby advice book ‘Happy Baby, Happy Family’ thinks today’s mums and dads are the best parents ever.

In an article for The London Economic she lists 20 Reasons You’re The Best Generation of Parents Ever.

By Sarah Beeson MBE, Health Visitor and Author

After four decades working with babies, children and their families as a nurse and health visitor, I can honestly say that this is the best generation of parents there has ever been. One of the biggest reasons is that mums and dads work as a team; putting their Little One’s needs at the centre of family life.

Today’s parents often intuitively meet the needs of their baby in a natural way. Even small babies respond positively to being treated with gentle respect. More people understand that their child is a unique human being with the same rights as anybody else and that you, as their parent, are the custodian of those rights.

How many of these have you nodding along? If you’ve ticked off ten or more, then let’s face it, you’re a confident, caring parent.

1. Saying, “I love you,” – previous generations often loved their children but didn’t say it. Children need affection every day, more of today’s mums and dads do this naturally.

2. Being brave – today’s generation of parents are the rule breakers. More and more parents recognise there is no perfect way to parent and are flexible about finding methods and techniques that feel right for their family.

3. Telling it like it is – more parents talk honestly about the challenges of parenthood. Social media, blogging and parenting groups let people have a laugh, share tough times and know they are not alone or the only one that finds it hard sometimes.

4. Safe sex – as more couples use contraception and plan for pregnancy the result is more wanted babies.

5. Giving nature a helping hand – Gay parents, adoptive parents and parent who have fertility treatment have a more complicated journey to parenthood but are usually fully committed to making that wanted baby the centre of their world.

6. Proud to be a single mum – a loving single parent can meet their children’s needs just as well as a couple.

7. Childless by choice – it is becoming more accepted that not everyone wants children. People being honest and open about this means less unwanted children which is better for everyone.

8. Quality time – more parents invest in giving each of their children individual attention, education and experiences that enrich their lives.

9. More choice for women – today’s mums have a big balancing act but there are more choices available to them. When mums are happy whether that’s keeping a career they’ve worked hard for, or being at home full time – it leads to happier children.

10. Employment rights – flexible working, longer maternity leave and pay, paternity leave and shared parental leave gives parents the opportunity to be with their children more and demonstrates to society how important the role of the parent is, no-one else knows their child better.  11. Less teasing – more parents recognise that humiliating children in an attempt to toughen them up has the opposite effect and is emotionally damaging.

12. Praise – more parents praise their child consciously and unconsciously and see the way to encourage good behaviour is to actively recognise it.

13. Children are heard and seen – more parents today spend quality time with their children and there has never been so many opportunities for family friendly experiences.

14. Health – more parents look at their diet, health and fitness when trying to conceive and during pregnancy. This has big benefits for mums and babies for their physical health but also emotionally they are investing in their baby from the very beginning.

15. Free information – parents are able to access information from so many sources and prioritise reading, discussing and acting on the information available in a way we’ve never seen before.

16. Putting children first – more parents than ever put their baby at the centre of their lives in a way that used to be considered as spoiling the child.

17. Team work – more couples work as a team and there is increasing equality when it comes to childcare, household duties and work.

18. Dads – a lot of men are more hands on. Which is a win/win for the entire family.

19. Children are people too – more parents see their Little One as a person with equal rights and adults treat them with the respect they deserve.

20. Emotional needs – more parents are meeting their child’s emotional needs from birth as well as their practical ones, which results in happier more confident children.  I promise you, no matter who you are or how things might look from the outside, every good parent has doubts about their abilities or the choices they are making. There isn’t one perfect way of parenting; every single baby and family is unique. It is the parents or the person who is the main carer for a child who has the greatest insight into the needs of their Little One.

In my book ‘Happy Baby, Happy Family: Learning to trust yourself and enjoy your baby’ I offer the solutions to help you find your parenting style and to give you reassurance when you need it, so you can be the parent you want to be. Feeling confident, authentic and positive about your role as a parent is the key to building a loving relationship with your child.

Sarah

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Making the most of the last days of Summer 

Sarah Beeson was delighted to be asked by Maggie & Rose to share a few tips on creating memories with your children over summer.   

Children thrive on new experiences and summer can be a great time to do something new, revisit those long forgotten favourite activities or just have some relaxing time at home baking cakes and watching movies together.

You can help influence good behaviour in your children by keeping them topped up with fluids and healthy snacks. When you’re out and about a snack bag will save you money, time and the odd tantrum! The more exercise and fresh air they get the more likely they’ll burn off that excess energy and sleep better.

If the elements are against you it would be good to have some crafty activities up your sleeve but don’t feel like you have to be Mary Poppins. London is an amazing city with so much to offer children but not every day has to be a big adventure. Whatever you do, be part of it- you’ll benefit just as much as the children from a break and a change of scene.

Having a conversation early each evening about what’s in store for the following day is a good opportunity to set expectations and give everyone a say in what’s happening. Having a rhythm rather than a strict routine for the week may help. You don’t have to give them carte blanche on activity choices- present them with a few options and let them have a little bit of responsibility on the decision making.

Being positive and looking forward to spending time together is more likely to mean you’ll be in the right frame of mind to enjoy it. A few treats are always welcome but it is your love, attention and listening to your child that will make the biggest difference of all. Enjoy your summer!

 Enjoy Sarah’s article and the rest of the Maggie & Rose Summer magazine.

Sarah’s baby advice book ‘Happy Baby, Happy Family‘ is a perfect read for new parents.

About sarah

If you’ve got a question about your LO check out Ask Sarah or get in touch.

Sarah Beeson is a health visitor and author of Happy Baby, Happy Family. She writes with her daughter Mumpreneur and writer Amy Beeson. Sarah’s memoir of training to be a nurse in 1970s London The New Arrival is a heartwarming true story published by HarperCollins.

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Clingy Toddlers: Making small changes for happier families

Baby Expert Sarah Beeson MBE gives a family some one-to-one advice for happier mornings and no-tears drop off at the childminder’s in Prima Baby Magazine.

The solution

“It’s normal for toddlers to cling to parents and carers, it’s all part of their learning and development. They do it because they feel so attached to you, which is a positive thing, although it usually doesn’t feel that way at the time! Praise and encouragement works wonders, and while it won’t transform a clingy toddler overnight, it’ll help you both enjoy the journey through toddlerhood together.”

 

SARAH’S 8-POINT ACTION PLAN

  1. ROUTINE MATTERS

  2. GIVE CONTROL

  3. PILE ON THE PRAISE

  4. TELL HER WHAT’S HAPPENING

  5. OFFER CHOICES

  6. play it cool

  7.  avoid the blame game

  8. accept bad days

About Sarah

If you’ve got a question about your LO check out Ask Sarah or get in touch.

Sarah Beeson is a health visitor and author of Happy Baby, Happy Family. She writes with her daughter Mumpreneur and writer Amy Beeson. Sarah’s memoir of training to be a nurse in 1970s London The New Arrival is a heartwarming true story published by HarperCollins.