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Bittylab: Is your newborn too dependent??


There was a major Twitter storm this morning around a US baby bottle manufacturer called BAREâ„¢ and their charmingly named Twitter account @bittylab

The BAREâ„¢ bottles are marketed as a bottle which closely mimics the breast, reducing nipple confusion and supporting breastfeeding. You’re interested, right? Bottles and expressing are by no means a necessity for most breastfeeding mums, but if you do want to use them, you want the one closest to a breast, as do most formula feeding mums… great idea! (NB. PLEASE DON’T STOP READING HERE. THIS IS NOT A MARKETING POST!!)

Unfortunately, for some reason they decided to market their products like this:

Feeling like you’re competing with your newborn for mommy’s attention? Meet BAREâ„¢ air-free #babybottles #baby

Your newborn takes up all of mommy’s time? Meet BAREâ„¢ #air-free baby bottles #breastfeeding

and… you’ll LOVE this one:

New baby? Reclaim your wife. Meet BARE™ #air-free #baby

Not so interested now? Hmm….! I’ve redirected the links because no-one with judgement this poor is having any free advertising on my site, no matter how negative…

There are so many things wrong with this, I couldn’t quite believe what I was reading! If it was intended as ironic, which from their half-assed apology it clearly wasn’t, it really missed the mark.

So, for those of you who missed it, here is the Bittylab guide to newborns and parenting…

Newborn child:
Small parasite who competes with their father for luxuries as food and water. Clearly this is the case, as breastfeeding mummies will not be able to cook poor ineffective Daddy his steak supper when he gets home… He may starve!!

An inadequate, insecure figure who has no purpose in his baby’s life past his initial sperm donation. Jealous of all the attention the baby gets from his wife and intent on “reclaiming” her for himself.

Provider of milk and attention who will clearly have more time for “attention” if she expresses, refridgerates and then reheats the milk that came out of her at the correct temperature the first time.

Impressively, they managed to unite mums, dads, breastfeeders and formula feeders as one in complete and utter repulsion and their sexist and unethical marketing tactics. Maybe it was a clever marketing plan after all, eh? World peace next?

I thought I’d share with you a few of my favourite replies from Adrian Bott ‏@Cavalorn

Dear @bittylab: I had no urge to ‘reclaim’ my wife from my child, because a) I am a grown up and b) I did not ‘claim’ her in the first place

WTF do these people think men are, Dothraki horse lords? ‘Reclaim your wife’. FFS.

Being less eloquent, I stuck to a factual and balanced response (natch):

A question for @bittylab… If #breastfeeding #mums aren’t sexy, how do we know that exclusive breastfeeding can be a contraceptive? #fools

Oh and lovely Lauren D. ‏@Daresie shared her confusion:

@milkchic never understood the ‘jealous dad’ concept. He’s free to get milk from the fridge whenever he wants. #bittylabsucks #bfing

As usual, Wolf Mommy ‏@Wolf_Mommy summed up the key issues:

there’s no question bottles are useful. There’s no need to violate WHO guidelines or insult women to sell them

You’d think they couldn’t make anything worse, but then there came the apology that wasn’t, where we were told that we had misunderstood, floating the possibility that their Twitter account had been hacked if the offending tweets were still there… really? “Sorry” wouldn’t have worked then?

Shame, but I don’t think they’re coming back from this one. Complete and utter marketing fail.

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How can Dads support breastfeeding mums?


Mr MilkChic and small oneDads are often left out in the cold where breastfeeding is concerned. Well of course they are! They don’t have breasts, can’t produce milk… It’s no wonder many men are left feeling a little like spare parts when it comes to feeding, and we’ve all heard comments about bottle feeding “allowing Dads to bond with their babies”, as if it was the only possible way.

While men are encouraged to take active roles in every other aspect of pregnancy and parenting, breastfeeding seems to stand outside this. Our (otherwise brilliant) NCT classes included a “women only” breastfeeding session with no equivalent education or support for male partners. We learned about the latch, breastfeeding holds and potential issues, knowledge of which would have definitely helped Mr MilkChic support me as I tried to establish breastfeeding.

In fact, research shows that Dads are incredibly important in successful breastfeeding relationships. Women who feel supported by their partner are not only more likely to start breastfeeding, but also continue for longer.

These are my top tips for supporting your breastfeeding partner:

Be Prepared:

  • Get involved from the start – discuss feeding options together and learn about potential “boobie traps” that might jeopardise the breastfeeding relationship.
  • Make it your job to get a list of local support groups etc. so you can get help quickly if she needs it.

Get Involved:

  • Be part of the feeding routine. Just because you don’t physically feed your baby doesn’t mean you have to be excluded. In the first few months, those may be the only quiet minutes you get to spend together as a couple – make the most of them!
  • Carve a niche for yourself – Mr MilkChic was much better at winding small one than me, and I was relieved when he took over the job almost entirely. Both he and my teenage stepson took manly pride in the “efficiency” of their burping techniques, reaping the benefits in  sleepy cuddles afterwards.
  • Don’t isolate your partner because she’s feeding. Stay in the same room with her when possible, and make sure she always has something to eat and drink within arms reach

If things go wrong:

  • It is heartbreaking when your partner is suffering and you feel unable to help. Channel your energies into ensuring she has every comfort and support – cushions, creams, shields etc. etc… your job is to research, source and apply as necessary. If she’s not getting the support she needs, act as intermediary and insist that help is provided.
  • Try not to push formula. Not because formula is necessarily bad, but because you are between a rock and a hard place. Breastfeeding is an emotional issue and “giving up” can leave mums feeling both sad and guilty.
  • Equally, don’t harp on about the benefits of breastfeeding. If she’s continuing to try and feed in the face of real difficulties, she is only too aware of them. Expect tears or anger. Probably both.
  • If things get really bad, the only person who can make the decision to continue or to stop is your partner. Whatever she decides, back her up.

Breastfeeding in Public:

  • It’s natural to feel protective of your partner when she nurses in front of other people, but if you are nervous, try not to let it affect her confidence. Your attitude can make the world of difference, so make sure she knows you support her 100%.
  • Should any ignorant fool (technical term) dare to disapprove of your partner breastfeeding in public, firmly assert her rights on her behalf. This is one occasion where you are fully within your rights to be over-protective – someone is suggesting you should deprive your baby of food. Even if she finds your reaction embarrassing, she will still love you for it.

 Make her feel good:

  • Most mums need a bit of a boost post-baby. They’re exhausted, their bodies don’t feel right, none of their clothes fit… and everyone they’ve ever met wants to come and visit! On the bright side, you don’t have to do a lot to make her feel pampered – just giving her 10 minutes to shower baby-free is a luxury. If you’re after real brownie points, book her a haircut and go along to babysit, or pop to MilkChic to find some flattering breastfeeding clothing.

Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful “breastfeeding Dads” out there. Your support makes everything easier.

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Review: Babies & Toddlers For Men


Mr MilkChic is now an “experienced” Dad (not old, oh no… not old at all!). He has managed to father one child right the way through to adulthood, and we have high hopes for the other two… so I felt he was well-placed to review this book.

Babies & Toddlers For Men is a parenting guide aimed at Dads. It’s a very practical guide and having managed to prise it off Mr, I reckon it’s pretty good for Mums too.

Most books seem to either be very factual (at 5 weeks, your child will weigh xlbs, enjoy high contrast pictures, have mastered 5 types of cry and hold their head up) or be focused on “managing” one aspect of a child’s behaviour (sleep, potty training, learning French…). This one is unusual because it manages to sit somewhere in between – giving the information you need, and telling you what to expect without prescribing solutions for what, in most cases is just normal baby behaviour.

Mark Woods manages to cover some fairly unfunny and sometimes sensitive subjects in a brilliantly witty way. It’s a really honest guide to what being a Dad is really like and we both really enjoyed it, which is something I can’t really say about a lot of the parenting tomes. You know that it’s a good book when you find yourself reading sections out loud to each other:

You can feel intense irritation and impatience before breakfast, frustration and despondency by lunch and an acute sense that you need to earn 37 times more than you do now just after tea.

Oh yeah!

The book is organised in 3 monthly chunks, with sections on key issues for each stage and comments from real Dads, which bring them to life. There is great honesty in covering subjects like lochia and the shock of sex (or lack of it) after childbirth, and he expresses with eloquence that mixture of pride, exhaustion and unbelievable frustration that a young child can bring.

There’s a sense of a chat with mates, which makes it very readable. It’s completely up to the minute, covering the online networks that keep mums going (and why we need them), parenting politics and the way toddlers can work iPhones better than their parents. It references recent research, relates to the real world, and is non-judgmental, which is refreshing.

And the breastfeeding?? There are certainly some bits we felt that could have been better researched (I flinched when I saw that he recommends a certain self-styled “breastfeeding expert”, who has no formal qualification beyond a few years as a midwife in the mid-80s… presumably before on-demand feeding was recommended!). But for the most part, breastfeeding is covered well, with lots of practical information about benefits, the Dad’s role, and the pressures their partner might feel. I particularly liked this comment about dealing with difficulties:

Your support, love and understanding are crucial. The social and moral pressure that some mums feel to succeed as they put themselves through hell can be overwhelming. Knowing that you support her whatever the outcome will go a long way to giving her the belief to either carry on trying or to make the switch to formula.

All in all, a fabulous book that really rings true, and one well worth reading.

I did not get paid for this post but I did receive a sample copy of Babies & Toddlers for Men to read and keep. I follow the Britmums Blogging with Integrity Guidelines – I always write honest and truthful reviews and disclose any perks I receive!

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A-Z of Breastfeeding


Daddy – supportive Dads make a breastfeeding relationship work or work better.

Demand – Feeding “on demand” means responding flexibly to your baby’s requests for food, rather than trying to enforce a timetable of regular feeding. I believe that demand feeding is absolutely key to successful initiation of breastfeeding. This is a great article on why it is so important. If you are a very structured person, the uncertainty of breastfeeding on demand can feel very uncomfortable at times. Building in a routine around the feeding process so that only the timing is uncertain can help you to regain a feeling of control without making breastfeeding itself harder than it has to be.

Designer milk – Breastmilk is available in the correct volume, at the correct temperature, perfectly designed for your baby’s age, growth stage, the time of day, the weather and with all the antibodies your baby needs… wherever and whenever they need it.

Dispelling Breastfeeding Myths – one of my favourite breastfeeding blogs.

Distractions – As your baby gets older, there are a million and one things that will distract them in the middle of feeds. It is a developmental stage that is amusing, frustrating, occasionally embarrassing (when they pull off and look around while exposing you to all and sundry) and sometimes painful (when they forget to let go before looking around).

Donating Milk – Some women are unable to breastfeed, often due to stress or illness. If you have an oversupply of milk, consider donating to your local milk bank. You can find more information about donating from the United Kingdom Association for Milk Banking.

Dream Feeds – Offering a feed just before you go to bed. This seems counterintuitive if your baby is already asleep, but often you can feed without really waking the baby. If you are lucky, dream feeding can mean that you get a longer sleep at night before they wake again.

Dress – You don’t have to avoid dresses just because you are breastfeeding. There are specially designed nursing dresses available, but button down dresses and wrap dresses work equally well.

Drugs in Breastmilk Hotline – If you’re worried about taking prescription drugs while breastfeeding and need some advice, call the hotline on 0844 412 4665 or e-mail including age of baby, dose, frequency and name of medication or drug for help and information.

See the full A-Z of Breastfeeding so far, and feel free to add your own in the comments!