Author: Janine Smith

Baby Days

As you know I have just spent a few days looking after my one-year old nephew. He was a breeze to look after – he ate well, he napped, he slept, he played, he was happy and he was laid back – yet I was still tired! He has never really been away from mam and dad before so I was a bit nervous but babies can be pretty fickle – as long as they are looked after, safe and loved they are happy and there was barely a tear from him. I knew I would be tired – meeting the demands of a busy baby was always going to be a bit of a challenge but I had forgotten the intensity of just how long the days on your own with a baby can be. I had no other adult interaction apart from some brief chat in the park and with a couple of neighbours – I was totally fine with that because it was only for a few days but it was a …

Loneliness of Motherhood

Having young children is not all about coffee shops and idle chatter. It is not a holiday. It can be one of the toughest times in a woman’s life. The loneliness can be torture. With your first child, the learning curve is steep – learning to keep a baby settled, soothed and alive while recovering from pregnancy, birth and unrealistic expectations of how motherhood would be. We are often sleep deprived, in need of supportive mum friends and it can feel like we are on our own with the day-to-day responsibilities of looking after our baby. In our society mothers are often judged, with unreal expectations stacked against them and their children. It can be a hard slog. When you become a mother it doesn’t matter what job you do, how old you are or how much you spent in Mothercare preparing for your baby’s arrival – you have a baby to look after and it can knock your confidence when they cry, need a poo, won’t sleep and won’t settle anywhere but in your …

The adventures of Aunty Neeny and Oaty

So, the time has come for my solo-auntying adventure with my one year old nephew. This evening I fly to Bristol to take charge of the small person for a few days while his parents take a well deserved trip away – drunkenly wandering around Glastonbury, sleeping in a tent and praying it doesn’t rain isn’t my idea of rest & relaxation but I was born this old so what do I know? As experienced as I am with babies and small children, it has been a wee while since I did this on my own so I am fully expecting to experience the need for eyes in the back of my head, realising just how fast he can move and having to take him to the loo with me because I don’t want to leave him on his own. As a busy baby, days are going to be full and hopefully there will not be too many tears. I have no doubt that I will collapse into bed at 9, my book untouched. I …

baby newcastle and tyneside

Can I Cuddle My Baby?

The question Can I Cuddle My Baby? comes up a lot especially from new mums with a baby who just wants to cling. My aim with this post is to provide good information about baby development, our parenting instincts, what’s normal and why cuddling our babies and children is not just lovely it’s crucial. In our society babies can be seen as creatures to control and to train, and parents are encouraged to make their babies independent and self soothing. Any parent who cuddles and carries and soothes their babies can be seen as giving in, as failing, as making a rod for their own back. So, if you are asking Can I Cuddle My Baby? Here’s what the research tell us… When your baby is born  he has approximately 200 billion brain cells but there are very few connections in his higher brain – these connections are mainly responsible for  emotional and social intelligence. 90% of brain growth takes place in the first five years of life Early stress (prolonged crying) can create negative changes in  baby’s …

Learning to smile and nod…

As a family with a child who doesn’t always display typical behaviour, life often presents us with some interesting interactions with the general public. I spent much of her former years managing the expectations of strangers: “no, she isn’t tired, she has early onset epilepsy and is having absence seizures”; or “no she cant wave, she’s severely developmentally delayed, don’t take it personally”; and “no, she can’t say ‘hi’ but thanks for pointing out that she’s in a grumpy mood today” before giving up entirely and learning to smile and nod. It has become apparent since having kids, even an older child with no additional needs, that as a society we presume to know what is best for other people’s children. From the moment we are pregnant, women are judged and preached to about our decisions: I’ve had everything from glares across a room because I was drinking something that looked like a gin and tonic while breastfeeding (it was tonic water, but who are you to make that decision and FYI there isn’t a …