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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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Confessions of a Clingy Mummy

Happy motherhood
Photo: MyTudut

I am a clingy mummy.

There. I’ve said it. I’m not proud of it, but that’s the way it is.

When small one was born, I didn’t want someone to “take her off my hands for a bit”. I didn’t want to “have a night off”. I didn’t want a night out with the girls, and I didn’t want a romantic meal. And when she slept, I didn’t want to put her down and get some things done… All I wanted was to stare into her beautiful blue eyes and snuggle.

Which, to varying levels is pretty normal, I’d guess, despite the friction it caused at the time (rod for your own back anyone?).

What apparently singles me out, is that those feelings haven’t really gone away. Small one is 2.5 years old and I still haven’t spent a night away from her. We went out for Valentine’s day, which was lovely, but I still felt a pang of sorrow that I wasn’t there when she fell asleep cuddled up in her adoring Grandad’s arms.

She goes to a wonderful, small, home-based nursery twice a week, and I still hate dropping her off at the door. I don’t feel comfortable with the idea of babysitters, and I wouldn’t leave her in a creche.

This isn’t a criticism of those who do, you understand (I’m aware that I’m the odd one), and it’s not a smug “I love my child more than you do” rant. I often wish for peace and quiet, and a little time to myself – I just can’t quite reconcile that with the idea of being away from her.

I know I fit the stereotypes – I breastfed my daughter until she was 2 (clingy…?), back permitting, I preferred a sling to a pram (clingy), small one only got her own room in November, and she co-slept at least part of the time from about 6 months on (clingy, clingy, clingy… can’t let go…). Admittedly the fact there were five of us in a two-up, two-down terrace had some bearing on that last one, but you get the picture. What’s more, given the finances, I would have loved nothing more than being a stay at home mum.

But I would like to set things straight – I’m clingy, not overprotective. I don’t want my daughter tied to my apron strings forever, but I do have this primeval fear of losing her.

I don’t know whether my pregnancy made that worse – I had wanted a child for a long time before I finally fell pregnant, and only 5 weeks into that miraculous pregnancy I was told I was miscarrying. It doesn’t leave you with much emotional balance, and having spent 9 months focusing on keeping her with me, trusting someone else to take on that care is insanely hard.

But more than that, she grows and changes so fast. I hate missing the little wonders in every day that make her face light up with such joy. When her Dad, and big brother and sister take her into town, I’m not really worried they’ll do something wrong. I’m just jealous that they’re there without me, that I am missing out on some precious, unrepeatable moment in her life.

But there has to be a balance. I – who have always been a “kiddy person”, who dreamed of being a stay at home mum… who technically has been a stay at home mum the last few months – miss work. I miss the variety and, if I’m honest, I miss the status. Because stay at home mumming isn’t just the play and the fun – it’s also the bulk of the housework, the general dogsbodying, and the stress of not working and still not spending enough time 100% with your children.

And I need something to fill the void that will be left when small one starts school.

Because I may be a clingy mummy, but my breastfed, co-sleeping, attachment parented, babyworn, and generally adored toddler is an independent little soul. And one day she is going to walk out of  that door without a backward glance, leaving her poor, clingy mother a gibbering wreck in the corner…

And I will be SO proud.

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Book Review: Stuff Every Mom Should Know


Like most mums-to-be, I read a fair few parenting books in pregnancy. Everyone is different, but on the whole I find I prefer the ones which pass on well-researched facts, tell you how your child develops and give you the information you need to find your own way. Too many authors seem to offer up their own limited experience as a formula for all.

Stuff Every Mom Should Know is a little bit different. It is a (rather lovely looking) book filled with all those little gems of knowledge that you can only get from other mums – practical advice and reassurance that seems to ring true whatever your parenting ethos.

It does have its issues. It could do with being revised for the British market – I personally struggle to identify as a “Mom” rather than a “Mum”. That’s just semantics, but some chapters don’t work as well for UK readers, for instance the large section on stocking your medicine cabinet isn’t a great deal of help, and I took a few pages to figure out what a “boo-boo” (bump) was. References to soccer moms and Halloween costumes also went over my head.

If you can get past that, it’s filled with great ideas for parenting babies right through to teens.

How many parenting books deal with the really big issues?

  • Making a long wait fun
  • How to photograph your child
  • Dates that don’t need a babysitter
  • Ridding a bedroom of monsters
  • How to deal with unsolicited parenting advice

Possibly my favourite bit is the “pick-up lines” for meeting other mums. I felt like a gawky teenager again at the mother and baby groups and would definitely have felt more confident armed with a few opening gambits.

And what mum of a teen wouldn’t like advice on “how to hug your teen without her knowing”?

All in all, it’s a great little book full of common sense, simple tips and practical advice on day-to-day parenting that made me smile. Well worth a look and a nice gift for a new parent. Stuff Every Mom Should Know, by Heather Gibbs Flett and Whitney Moss is out in March 2012 priced at £6.99.

Disclosure: I did not get paid for this post but I did receive a sample copy of Stuff Every Mom Should Know 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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Why you should always give toddlers your full attention…


Mummy!!!” Mummmeeeeeeeeeeee!!!

“Yes darling….”

Dolly’s poorly Mummy….

“Oh dear… kiss him better”

Mummy!!! Mummy!!! Dolly’s head!!!

“Yes love. He’ll be OK. Kiss him better.”

Mummy!!! Mummy!!! Dolly’s head!!!

“What about Dolly’s head sweetheart?”

Ummmm!! Dolly’s head!!!!!!!!!!

[Levers self off sofa]

Dolly’s heeeeeaaaaad!!!

Headless baby doll
(C) MilkChic. All rights reserved

“Ah… I see…..”

Silly Dolly…!

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Losing it


It’s been a heavy few days chez MilkChic.

Small one has been night-waking for a while, often with bad dreams. For the most part, it’s not a problem now – when we are consistent with her routine, she goes to bed at a reasonable time. When we aren’t, she runs riot of course, but that’s our own stupid fault…If she wakes and can’t get back to sleep in the brief window while I’m still capable of standing upright then she comes in with us. Which is fine.

The night before last, she woke up at 2am and couldn’t go back to sleep. And she wouldn’t come in with us because she wanted to sleep in her own bed.

As a result, I spent most of the night awake and singing zombiemum lullabies (hushabye small one, please go to sleep, mummy is tired and soon she shall weep…). At some point, I am ashamed to say I lost it and shouted.

She was trying to go to sleep, she just wasn’t managing it. And she couldn’t understand why mummy wanted her to sleep in mummy and daddy’s bed when she was trying to be a big girl and sleep in her own bed.

I apologised and she finally went to sleep for a couple of hours.The trouble with toddlers is that forgiven is rarely forgotten. The next morning she happily told Mr MilkChic, “Mummy was a tired grumpy last night. She said RAR! And she said 1,2,3…..”

I wonder what stories get to nursery…?