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How to choose the perfect stroller and travel companion for my family?

You are so excited to show your newborn baby the big beautiful world outside. But choosing the right stroller can feel like a mammoth or daunting task because where do you start?  Whether you’re go on regular walks or only use a baby carriage when you go to the mall or on vacation, your stroller is going to be one of the most frequently used pieces of gear you will own.   There are so many prams to choose from, with many different features, different age groups and colours.  This can be quite overwhelming – you just want the perfect ride for your family.  Something safe, compact and easy to use or maybe you are looking for the “Rolls Royce” of baby strollers 2020. I have put together a few key features, factors and key points to consider when choosing the right stroller for your family.

What factors and features to consider when choosing a stroller?

What works for one family might not work for your family. There are many different factors to take in account when choosing a baby stroller.

Lifestyle:  Probably one of the most important factors to consider when deciding on a baby stroller.  Do you stay in the city?  Are you an urban family who will be using the stroller every day?  Or are you a suburban family who will mainly need the baby trolley for walks around the block or mall?  What type of space do you have available at home to store the stroller?  Would you need to take your stroller onto public transport or up some stairs?  Do you plan on buying an all-purpose stroller or a complete travel system (baby stroller with car seat)?  Do you plan on upgrading the stroller as you little one grows?  These questions might seem like allot to think about, but your stroller needs to meet the your needs in order to accommodate you and your baby at best.

Family Size:  If you have one child, plan on having only one child or if there is a huge age gap between siblings, a single stroller will work just fine for your family.  But if you plan on having another baby within three years. Consider a stroller that can convert into a double stroller, or one that has the option to add an additional seat.  Maybe you are expecting twins. The double or twin stroller is designed for exactly this purpose but can be used for children in different age groups too.

Cost:  The price tag on strollers may shock some first-time parents.  Pricier strollers will often feature things like better suspension, higher-end fabrics and colour options, modular seats that can be switched between from and rear facing or convert to hold more than one child.  But it’s also possible to get a stroller that fits your family, needs and budget.

Accommodates newborns:  Not all prams and strollers can accommodate newborn babies.  This is because the stroller does not have extra padding or features to support your newborns head and neck. If you plan on using the stroller from day one, a travel system with removable seat would be a better option for you as the seat will have all of the needed features and padding to ensure your little one is snug and safe.

Easy to fold:  Being able to quickly open or pack-up the stroller with one hand can be a lifesaver. Even better would be if the stroller is also self-standing, meaning when it is folded it stands upright, by itself without tipping over.

Weight:  Is it heavy to carry?  When you are on the road, lighter is the better option.  A lightweight baby carriage will be more manageable taking in account that you will probably be carrying a baby, nappy bag and pram before setting it up at your destination.

Washable fabric:  Babies are messy.  Your baby stroller with take a beating from drool, snack accidents, spilled milk and the list goes on and on.  So, it will be great if you can remove the seat cover and throw it in the washing machine. 

Sun canopy:  Big canopies provide more shade and privacy for your baby.  Many canopies have a little window for you to check on your little one and some even have magnet closure, instead of clips and zips so it is nice and quiet.

Stroller basket:  If you plan on doing lots of shopping with your stroller, look for a stroller with an extra-large basket. It will just make your life so much easier when having to carry parcels.  The typical stroller basket will be located under the seat.   Baskets with a wide opening across work best. You won’t get frustrated getting to get your parcels in and out of the basket.

Other cool features would be a rain cover, snack and cup holders and toy attachments.

How safe is the stroller?

Safety first – always.  So, when it comes to hitting the streets with your baby it should not be any different. Almost all baby trolley models meet basic safety standards, but there are a few safety features to consider and ensure the stroller has.

Inspect the frame.  The frame should feel solid and steady, not flimsy.

Look for a five-point safety harness. Five-point harnesses are relatively standard. Test the snaps to make sure they’re secure. They should be easy to buckle (and not too easy to unbuckle, at least for baby!).

Put on the brakes — literally. Be sure to test how easy the brakes are to use — and how easy they are to trip, too. You would want them to stop securely. And that you can easily disengage the brakes when you’re ready to roll on.

Examine the edges. Little fingers and toes can get caught in tight spaces, so beware of any protrusions or sharp edges.

Lie back. How deep does the seat recline? This is important if you’re planning to put a newborn into the pram. Find a pram that can easily attach an infant car seat.

Ready to start shopping?

Head over to The O-Babystore, they have a selection of high quality strollers from Chicco, Bugaboo, Foppapedretti and Mamakids to choose from.

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The Benefits of Play – Part 1 – Dingle Dangle Toys

A Baby’s brain is like a sponge and they are eager to learn about the new world around them. Every new colour, shape, texture, taste and sound is a wonderful and exciting learning experience. Dingle Dangle toys that are safe and stimulating will help them discover and develop their senses. Toys with contrasting colours are fascinating to babies and stimulate their developing vision. Bells, rattles and toys that make a sound are definitely one of the favorites among infants too.

Babies reach developmental achievements during their first months through a mix of motor, sensory and emotional experience.  Playtime is a major part on your little one’s development.  From cognitive and physical development to emotional and social growth. Sensory toys involving textures, sounds and bright, contrasting colours are all great developmental choices for babies. By 4 months old, babies can bring their hands together and use their eyes to coordinate hand movement, they can hold their hands up, make eye contact and turn their head towards sound, they start to babble and treat us with a that beautiful toothless smile (Each baby develops at their own individual pace, talk to your paediatrician if you ever have any questions or concerns.)

Your baby’s development and happiness can be enhanced with high-quality baby safe products and toys products. A Dingle Dangle set or Play Gym is one of them.  It provides stimulation, learning opportunities and activities that are important for development.

Why is a Dingle Dangle Set so great?

Dingle Dangle Sets and Baby gyms allow your baby to learn the basics of cause and effect. Between about 6 weeks and 4 months, babies engage in something Piaget called “primary circular reactions”. This means they learn to repeat an action that they initially did by chance. Then between about 4-8 months babies begin to intentionally initiate these actions and repeat them because they find them fun or amusing! These actions are called “secondary circular reactions”. Some examples include grabbing, kicking or pulling a toy in order to make it light up or make sounds. This skill is important because it is the beginning of logic and the understanding of cause and effect. Dingle Dangles facilitate this development of the understanding by providing dangling toys and even kick- or pull-activated toys that respond to their actions, encouraging them to interact with them again.

Gross motor benefits:

This is probably the most obvious benefit of them all. Dingle Dangles encourage babies to use and develop the muscles in their arms, legs, tummy, back, and neck. Dingle Dangles and Play gym toys are great for tummy time too.  Tummy time not only strengthens your baby’s neck, back, and arms, but it also supports the development of higher-level gross motor skills (like rolling, crawling, walking), hand skills (developing the muscles), visual skills (teaching the eyes to work together). Additionally, when babies spend time on their tummies it takes weight off the back of their heads and is important for prevention of flat spots. The benefits of a Dingle Dangle set or play gym are unbelievable and supports all so many areas of development?!

Visual perception benefits:

When babies are born, they are near sighted, which means objects far away are blurry. They can perceive objects the most clearly when they are about 18 to 20 cm from their face, and Dingle Dangles are set up perfectly to accommodate for a newborn’ s developing visual perceptual skills. Newborn prefer objects with highly contrasting colours such as black and white. Babies begin to develop depth perception around 4 months of age.  They will also enjoy to toys more as they can see what they are grabbing when they reach out.

Grasping and reaching benefits:

Newborn babies grasping and reaching skills are dominated by reflexes, which means they automatically react in a certain way when stimulated and don’t really have any control over it. For example, newborns demonstrate a “palmar grasp reflex” and reflexively grasp anything that is pressed into their hand. This means newborns can grasp rattles or rings hanging as they learn to hold objects, develop a visual understanding of what they are holding, and build an understanding of cause and effect as they wiggle and shake toys.

Dingle Dangles can also facilitate babies’ development of the ability to bring two hands together while laying on their back while they hold a toy (around 1-3 months) and reach for an object with two hands together.

Sensory stimulation benefits:

Dingle Dangles often feature a different textures, sounds, and colours in order to stimulate babies’ senses. Once your baby begins mouthing objects, you can hang teething toys too so your little one can reach for them (on back or tummy) and bring them to the mouth for oral stimulation and exploration. The dangling toys in a play gym can also help develop the visual awareness skill. The bells, music or rattles hanging can help babies develop the ability to search for sounds with their eyes then to look directly toward where the sound is coming from.

How does it work?

Starting from the left:

  • Disc: Soft, multiple textured ribbons for tactile development.  Each disc has a special little quote. Tip – For very young babies, place it on the outer side so that it is close by for tiny hands to brush against, encouraging touch and feel.
  • Bell: As your little one starts to become more aware of their surroundings, they will be able to kick and tap the bell which not only keeps them engaged, but the playful sound promotes auditory development.
  • Resistance Beads: This one is oh-so-exciting because it’s stretchy! With long multi-textured ribbons to grip and pull, it allows baby to move to the next stage of development by encouraging those all-important gross-motor skills through resistance. Tip – For very young babies, place it on the outer side so that the ribbons are close by for tiny hands to brush against, encouraging touch and feel.
  • Character: What will your little one’s favorite animal be? Each set comes with its own Ruby Melon animal character to brighten up the nursery and create the groundwork for imaginative pretend play.

Good to know:

  • Suitable from birth
  • Mobile frame sold separately
  • Made from natural wood
  • Hand painted with lead free paint
  • Contrasting colours providing visual stimulation
  • Tie your dingle dangles to sit at roughly 20cm from your little one – this is the average newborn depth of field and is the perfect height for babies to touch, kick and keep them entertained
  • Create a play station by adding our Mobile Frame and Change Mat
  • Tie them to mobiles, cots, strollers, infant car seats…just about anything!
  • Approx. 40cm long
  • Do not leave your baby unattended during play
  • Each Dingle Dangle is loving made by hand – ribbons may vary ever so slightly
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Braxton Hicks – Braxton what??

pregnant woman sitting on bathtub

Our bodies are absolutely amazing.  Not only do we perform the miracle of life and grow an entire little human in our womb, and we have the massive job to deliver the tiny human too.  Our bodies change and prepare, by itself, for the final event – amazing.  While you might not be ready for your baby’s arrival just yet, your body has instinctively already started to prepare for the big day.  You will be reminded of this every time you feel your uterus tighten up.

Braxton Hicks are irregular and random contractions.  Often referred to as false labour pains.  Think of them as a dress rehearsal for your baby’s big debut. The fancy name came from Dr Braxton John Hicks who first described them in 1872. Braxton Hicks are often thought of as warm up exercises for your uterus in preparation for labour so even though they might be uncomfortable at times, they are most definitely a good thing.

You will start to notice Braxton Hicks around 20 weeks or so and increase in frequency and strength as your pregnancy progresses all the way until real labour starts– Some women have then many times a day and some don’t feel them at all. Your baby bump might tighten up, become hard, then go back to normal. The sensation, which might resemble menstrual cramps, usually lasts between 15 – 30 seconds and up to two minutes. 

What causes Braxton Hicks contractions?

They are caused when the muscle fibers in your uterus tighten and relax.  Your pregnancy hormones are hard at work.  They send messages to your body to start the labour process (very slowly).  It is best to call your doctor if you’re in a lot of pain or see any kind of unusual vaginal discharge.

Braxton Hicks vs. real labour contractions

The purpose of real labour contractions is to thin and dilate the cervix, whereas Braxton Hicks contractions are just practice for the real thing.

Braxton Hicks contractions are irregular, random and infrequent. The sensation, which might resemble mild menstrual cramps, usually lasts between 15 – 30 seconds and up to two minutes.  And they will get better as soon as you stand up or change positions.

If your contractions are increasing in intensity and frequency and you notice more than four in an hour, it’s “go” time and you may be in true labour.  Call your doctor right away or go to the hospital (especially if you aren’t yet 39 weeks pregnant) 

Real labour contractions are quite regular and grow stronger and stronger as time goes on.  Longer and closer together as you near labour. They usually last about 30 to 70 seconds each, and they don’t ease with a change position.  It’s time to grab your hospital bag when real contractions start. Real contractions may also be accompanied other labour signs such as your water breaking, losing the mucous plug or bloody show.

How are Braxton Hicks contractions treated?

There is no treatment for Braxton Hicks contractions. But there are things you can do to ease them, such as:

  • Changing position or stand up
  • Put your feet up and lay down if you’ve been very active
  • Go for a walk if you’ve been sitting down for a long time
  • Relax in a warm bath or have a nap
  • Drink allot or water – Stay hydrated
  • Use this opportunity to practice your breathing techniques for real labour

Other Abdominal Pain During Pregnancy

Sharp, achy and crampy shooting pains on the sides of your belly are called round ligament pain (more info available on what to expect’ s website here).  Your uterus is supported by thick bands of ligaments that run from the groin up the side of the abdomen. As your uterus grows, the supporting ligaments stretch and thin out to accommodate the increasing weight.  Think of them as growing pains.

Round ligament pain tends to happen with movement, like standing up, rolling over, coughing, sneezing, or even urinating.  It typically lasts only a few seconds or minutes.

To help ease round ligament pain:

  • Change your position or activity. It might help to lie on your opposite side.
  • Support your belly when you stand or roll over. Move more slowly.
  • Try to rest. A hot bath or heating pad may help.
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Baby’s first bath

Your baby’s first bath, another magical first that comes along with becoming a parent.  Through all the magic may come some anxiety and the question “Am I doing it right” will arise.  Relax! We’ve put together some tips to help you and to make the process run as smooth as possible for you and your baby.  Bear in mind, the first few weeks your newborn will only need sponge baths.  After the umbilical cord falls off, is a great time to introduce the bathing process.  After a while, bath time can turn into the perfect opportunity to engage your baby’s senses, bonding and splish-splash fun.  Bath time can also form part of baby’s bedtime routine, followed by a massage.  Baby will feel relaxed and fall asleep quicker.

When you are ready:

Some parents choose to bath baby in the morning, when baby is are alert. Others prefer to make baby bath time part of a calming bedtime routine. Its up to you. Choose a time when you’re not rushed or likely to be interrupted. Make sure the room is warm (24 °C) – Babies lose body heat.  Be sure to clothes all the window’s and doors (we don’t want baby to get sick!)

Gather everything you may need for bath time:

  • Thermometer for the water– The water should be around 37 °C – Test the water with your hand or wrist too – it should feel warm but not hot – Did you know that there are baby bath’s available on the market with a built in heat plug? Check out the Stokke bath on our website.
  • Warm and soft towel to dry baby (a hooded towel works best) You can add a blanket over if it’s cold or during winter
  • A soft sponge/washrag and baby cleanser (according to the Johnsons website:  “Water Isn’t Enough for Your Baby’s Bath.  Cleansing with water alone removes only about 65% of oil and dirt. It doesn’t remove the fat-soluble impurities left behind undernappies and clothes, and if they remain, they can cause the delicate skin barrier* to break down. And water alone can actually dry your baby’s skin. Repeated use of water only, especially when hard or chlorinated, has been shown to cause moisture loss from the skin cells, leaving baby skin irritated or red.  A gentle baby-specific cleanser like JOHNSON’S® baby TOP-TO-TOE® wash is recommended to help cleanse effectively”)
  • A Bowl of clean (boiled and cooled down) water to wash your baby’s face
  • Clean cotton pads
  • Fresh Clothes and nappy ready for when baby is dry
  • If you have a boy, you might want to have an extra wipe and towel ready.  He will most likely urinate as soon as his genitals come in contact with fresh air.

Fill the tub with too much water – it should be a shallow bath (8cm – 10cm deep with water)

Step 1 – Face First

It’s easier to wash your baby’s face first before they are in the water and you start the bath.  Wash your baby’s face without any soap or cleanser.  This is where the cotton pads and clean water come in.  Wash with soft cotton pads dipped in water and squeezed out.  When cleaning around the eye area, go from the nose outwards.  If baby has dried mucus around the eyes or nose, gently dab it to soften and then wipe.  This will help you not to get water in their mouth, nose or eyes.  When cleaning baby’s ears, clean only what you can see; avoid putting anything deep into your baby’s ear.  Use a fresh cotton pad and clean around the ear.  Clean under the chin and then dry their face.

Step 2 – The Body

There are two ways you can go about washing your baby’s body:

  1. After undressing baby (bear in mind to clean your baby’s genitals and bottom first if the nappy that you remove is soiled) Use one arm to support your baby’s neck and head and gently slide them into the bath.  If you are using a bath support or bath with a built-in support like the Schnuggle Bath or Stokke (which is highly recommended and will make it much easier for you) you won’t have to support your baby’s head all the time.  If not, keep supporting.  Use your free hand to wash your baby.  Wash baby gently with a sponge and remember too much soap can irritated sensitive areas such as the genitals. 
  2. After undressing baby, you can rub (with your hands) baby’s body everywhere with the cleaner and then just gently rinse baby in the tub.  Most parents prefer to do it this way.

Should I wash my newborn’s hair?

If you think your baby’s hair needs washing, go ahead. With your free hand gently massage a drop of mild baby shampoo into your baby’s scalp. Rinse the shampoo with a cup of water or a damp washcloth, cupping one hand across your baby’s forehead to keep soap and water out of baby’s eyes.

Step 3 – Rinse

To keep bath time extra gentle, carefully use a cup to pour water over your baby and rinse away soap (make sure all the soap is off their skin) Being mindful of your baby’s face when doing so.

Step 4 – Dry

After gently removing your baby from the tub, still supporting their head and neck, quickly wrap them in a towel so they stay warm. Make sure to thoroughly dry every cute little crease to help avoid irritating their sensitive skin. Use a patting motion rather than rubbing their sensitive skin dry.

Step 5 – Moisturize and Massage

Before dressing your baby, use a gentle, fragrance-free lotion to moisturize and leave their skin feeling soft and smooth. This is also a great time for baby massage, which can be a special bonding moment for you and your baby.

Step 6 – Dress baby

Dress your baby in clean clothes, wrap a warm blanket around him/her, and VOILA!

Tips:

  • If you bathe your baby after a feeding, consider waiting for your baby’s tummy to settle a bit first.
  • Not all babies will like having a bath in the beginning, so if you get a few tears, don’t stress.
  • Every baby is different, find a routine that works best for you.
  • NEVER EVER leave your baby alone in the tub!!
  • Clean only what you see.
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Bump Report – We’ve reached 32 weeks my beautiful petal

Hi Baby,

We’ve reached 32 weeks my beautiful petal!!  You’re coming in hot at around 1.6kg and measure about 40 cm – which would explain why mommy started to waddle .. haha!!  You still have to gain allot of weight, about double what you weigh now. Your tiny toenails and fingernails are now fully formed.  Your eyelashes and eyebrows are complete too … WOW!!  How AMAZING!!!

It sometimes feels like we are in the first trimester again, I’m so tired (all the time), I’m hungry (all the time) and my body really feels weird at times.  Things have started to get uncomfortable and somewhat painful, but I’ll hang in there don’t worry.  Daddy helps allot by massaging mommy’s back too. Only a few more weeks left, now for the final stretch.  I’m sooooo excited to finally meet you my angel.  To see your beautiful face and perfect fingers and toes for the first time.  To snuggle up and kiss you .. I just can’t wait!  We will be meeting with the doctor next week and I’m hoping he will give us a date or even an indication on when the wait will finally be over.

Daddy and I have been so busy getting everything ready for you.  Your room is about 90% complete and it really looks beautiful and perfect for a little princess like you.  Mommy packed all your clothes in your freshly painted cupboard, we just need to give them a quick wash and they too will be ready.  Daddy says you have enough clothes until your 18 .. haha you really have been so spoiled with the cutest outfits and I can’t wait to play dress-up with you. Daddy surprised mommy with the sweetest baby-grow for you, it is going to be the first one you wear. It is white with “x’s” and “o’s” all over, which is great as you will be receiving allot of hugs and kisses.

Feeling you kick and move is probably one of my favourite parts of being pregnant.  I love feeling you get bigger and stronger every day.  And giiiiirl your kicks are getting really strong. Sometimes it surprises me and doesn’t feel great when it’s straight to the ribs.  Who knew a tiny foot’s karate kick can hurt so much? Maybe you’ll end up being a star athlete—I know daddy would love that!

Grow strong my angel – only a few weeks left!!

We love you.

Love,

                Mommy

Some key points this week:

How far along are we: 32 weeks

How big are you: the size of a cabbage or puppy

Gender: Girl

Symptoms:  HEARTBURN!!!!!  Oh my, almost every day.  My back and hips hurt quite a bit.  I get a headache now and then.  Still get a stuffy nose.

Sleep: Even though I’m tired all the time, I still battle to fall asleep at night and I’m awake quite often.

Maternity clothes:  Oh yeah .. nothing really fits anymore.  I like to keep it comfy in tights and a big shirt and slippers and when we go to town I will try and dress up a little with whatever still fits.  I can’t wait for summer, to wear nice maternity dresses.

Stretch marks: No.

Belly Button: Partially in .. haha .. yes – It popped halfway.

Food cravings: Chocolate. Chocolate. Chocolate and CHOCOLATE!!!! Ice cream and more chocolate!

Movement: All the time.

What I’m looking forward to: Meeting with the doctor next week for a check-up.

What I’m nervous about/praying for: That you will continue to grow safely and develop into a strong and healthy baby girl – only a few more weeks left. That this pandemic will end soon and that we will remain safe from it.

What I miss: Laying on my tum-tum, biltong … mmmm .. chillibites, blue cheese and still craving gin now and then.

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