We all know the deal – as a country we take too many antibiotics, and rely too heavily on painkillers and other medications. We want to do the best for our children though, so what are the alternatives? Are there ways to protect the health of our babies and toddlers without having to resort to a prescription?

The good news is that yes, there are! We’ve put together a few of our favourites, but do let us know if you have any other home remedies that your family swears by.


The echinacea plant


A good all-rounder, echinacea is used by lots of people to stimulate the immune system, helping the body ward off infection. Particularly useful in winter, it may help protect your family from the usual round of coughs and colds, by giving the immune system a much needed boost. Useful resource: A.Vogel Echinacea


Coughs, colds and runny noses seem to be a permanent feature of most young families, and most will run their course quite naturally, supported by plenty of rest and fluids. Research has shown that honey can be a useful way to soothe coughs – give 2.5ml of honey to children two to five years old; 5ml to children six to 11 years old; and 10ml to those 12 years and older. Never give honey to babies younger than one.


Arnica is a very popular herb, that can be effective against a whole range of ailments including joint pain, swelling, bumps and sprains. Arnica is particularly helpful in speeding up the healing of bruises, and reducing the risks of any complications arising from bruising. Useful resource: Arnica A.Vogel Herbal Remedies

Salt water

Congestion can be very frustrating, especially for babies trying to feed and breathe through their nose at the same time. Saline nasal drops or spray are very effective for relieving congestion, both in babies and older children. For babies, place a few drops of salt water in each nostril to thin mucus, wait at least a minute, then gently use a bulb syringe to remove any discharge.

Milk Thistle

One for the mummies! If you’ve had maybe one too many glasses of wine the night before, (for stress relieving purposes only obviously), try a bit of milk thistle as a treatment for hangovers…

Get well soon!

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You’ve got married, you’ve bought a house, you’ve had a baby, life should be perfect right?

So how come you feel so tired all the time? And why is it that every time your partner leaves a towel on the floor you want to stab him with a fork?

OK, perhaps it’s not always quite that bad, but things certainly aren’t the happy ever after you imagined as a child, planning your dream wedding and picking your baby names.

Fear not. This is normal.

I’m not saying that it’s OK to stay in a relationship that genuinely doesn’t make you happy, or to live a life you don’t want at all, but it is normal when you’re raising a young family, and juggling work, bills and children, to sometimes feel like you want to run away and hide under the duvet for a week or two.

Naturally, when you’re feeling tired and under pressure, it’s the people closest to us that bear the brunt, and so it’s often our partners that become the focus of our frustrations. Relationship and sex problems are a common symptom of parenthood, but although they happen to many people, they aren’t something that you should ignore.

So, what can you do to ease the strain?

Make time for yourselves as a couple – yes we know, everyone says this, but that’s because it’s true! The idea of ‘date night’ may sound like a horrible cliché, and having to put on a bit of make-up and brush your hair when all you really want to do it lie on the sofa watching Take Me Out is tough, but it’s worth it in the long term. When you do go out, try to think of things to talk about other than the kids…

Ask for help – “If you want me to do the hovering,” says the man of the house, “just ask!”

“But I shouldn’t have to ask!” complains wife. “I want you to notice it needs doing and just do it!”

Sound familiar?

Unfortunately, a lot of men, (and women too), just don’t notice things like this, and if you wait for them to, and let your resentment grow with every day that they don’t, you’re wasting everyone’s time. Having to ask doesn’t make you a nag, it isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s being assertive, and getting things done.

Be more accepting – Towels on the floor are annoying, but is it really the end of the world, especially if it means he’s been taking charge of baby bath time. We’re not saying you should let yourself be treated like a doormat, but just be aware that it’s all too easy to transfer our own high standards onto others, and end up feeling let down and resentful. Look instead at the things your partner does that really matter, like listening to you and spending time with you.

Take a lesson from author Dr Richard Carlson and don’t sweat the small stuff.

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Although the news of a baby’s arrival is a happy one, it is important to be prepared. Babies are free, but their maintenance fee can be a shock! Most expectant parents don’t realise the financial burden they are taking on, and focus mainly on schedule disruptions and the exhaustion they will be facing.

The biggest expense is childcare (if you are a working mum.)  The next, will be formula (if you choose not to breast feed) and then nappies. Yes, nappies! Consider that a baby can use 8-12 of these a day, so the costs really do add up. Expenses can begin before the baby is born!

Baby gear is mostly expensive upfront, and will probably be your next biggest cost with the crib, stroller, car seat, baby bath and so on…

These are just the expenses that you can control. It’s so important to save money on the expenses you can control for the expenses that you either can’t or haven’t prepared for. Cutting costs wherever you can will really help you in the long run!

While saving energy in the home is unlikely to be on your list of priorities at this time, have you thought about taking measures to cut down on the energy your household uses?

Start at the source! Consider changing your electricity provider and compare electricity prices to see whether you are with the right supplier and on the correct tariff. Other companies could give you a cheaper deal, plus incentives for changing. With up to £400 of savings at stake, if you switch to find the best option then plenty of pounds will be saved.

Changing your clothes washing habits can really save you money. Just by swapping long wash cycles with hot water for short wash cycles with cold water with a proven stain remover can save you 93KWh of energy a year. Never wash clothes in small loads, only use your washing machine when you have a full load. If you dry your laundry on a line outdoors or on a drying rack indoors and ignore your clothes dryer, you will do the environment a favour and cut your electricity bill by 6%.

When you do use your washing machine, dishwasher or dryer, use it at low energy use times of the day, and avoid using them between 4pm and 9pm.

Use a laptop, it uses almost three quarters less electricity than a desktop. Also, turn off and unplug all appliances in your house and home office at night. Use strip plug adaptors, so you can switch off up to six appliances at a time by flicking off the wall switch.

Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent ones, they use three quarters less energy. Also, kids love Christmas lights! You don’t have to skimp on the festivities just because you are trying to save electricity. LEDS use 10 times less energy than incandescent mini-lights and a staggering 100 times less energy than standard bulbs.

After you have brought your baby home, it is tempting to worry about it catching a chill and turn up the heat. The heating bill is usually the most expensive bill. Instead, invest in insulating your home and watch your bills significantly decrease!

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Weight loss is a tricky subject. One the one hand we know that size zero isn’t healthy, and that we should love ourselves for who we are, but on the other, it’s tough shifting that baby weight, and we shouldn’t be ashamed of wanting to get our bodies back into shape. Concerns about body image can impact on other aspects of our lives, potentially leading to low self-esteem and relationship and sex problems, so it’s important to tackle them head on.

We know you’re all grown ups, and don’t need us to make your mind up for you, so today we’ve got a guest writer with a possible solution. Jane Hodgson started her own business, creating Skinny Sprinkles, and yes, I have given them a try myself, and you can read about that on my own blog. But for now, over to Jane…

I set up an online business selling beauty products a year after having my gorgeous daughter Isabelle, who is six this month.

In that time I put on weight and lots of it! I guess it was the combination of having a baby and sitting at my computer 24/7. I tried slimming supplements but none of them worked for me. I have always dreamed of creating my own product, so I thought a slimming supplement would be the ideal choice.

I wanted to create a product that would take away the stigma associated with losing weight, a product that women would not feel ashamed of taking. Over a period of 14 months and with the support of Dr Nigel Plummer an expert in the development of nutritional supplements, we came up with Skinny Sprinkles®.

I didn’t want Skinny Sprinkles® to be just another weight loss supplement. I wanted it to change the way people feel about losing weight to encourage people to be positive about weight loss and strive toward a healthier lifestyle. The packaging has purposely been designed to be lively and fun not medical; this is the feeling I want Skinny Sprinkles® to evoke. Getting the psychology right with weight loss is as important asgetting the ingredients right, it’s the combination that worked for me.

I want women to feel proud they are making the effort with aproduct that does actually work. (the weight reduction claims relating to the actives in Skinny Sprinkles® have been substantiated by EFSA).

Skinny Sprinkles® makes following a calorie restricted diet really easy. We received our first test batch of Skinny Sprinkles® in late October last year and so I took 3 a day and kept to 1200 to 1500 calories a day and by Christmas I lost a stone. I continued to take them over Christmas and although I did not lose weight because of the inevitable increase in calories, amazingly I didn’t put any weight on. I even indulged a little with my favourite Christmas vice – Baileys!

In total I have now lost 2 stone,  and can now even fit into a pair of size 10 Jeans the first time in 6 years. They are still a little tight though!

If there are any mums out there that would like to try Skinny Sprinkles and be featured as a case study on the website please contact me at jane@skinnysprinkles.co.uk or via twitter @skinnysprinkles.

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Chore wars

Are rows over housework getting you down?  Follow these tips to help everyone feel they’re getting a fair deal.

A new baby means more work for everyone, but the reality is that new mums often end up with the lion’s share when it comes to household chores. And when one partner goes back to work leaving the other with the bulk of domestic duties, resentment can build, causing lasting damage to your relationship.

Point-scoring doesn’t help anyone, so here are a few ways to make sure everyone wins.

1. Plan ahead
Don’t just assume things will ‘work themselves out.’  You’re more likely to argue if you end up doing more than you expected, so think it through and agree in advance about who will do what once baby comes along.

2. Value your role
Just because one person earns more it doesn’t mean that their job is more important, or that they deserve more of a break when it comes to the weekend.  “I don’t mind doing the housework during the week, but the expectation that I will also do it at weekend drives me mad!” says Rebecca, 36.  Try swapping roles for a day so he can see just how hard you work – then agree a schedule that gives you both the time off you deserve.

3. Find time to talk
Knee-deep in laundry with a screaming baby on your hip is not the time to tell him how you feel.   Find a time when you can sit down and talk without getting emotional, and show him you’re not tired or irrational – you need things to change.

4. Do some things together
Ok, so it’s hardly quality time, but doing the laundry or dishes together can give you a shared sense of purpose and help you feel you’re in it together.

5. Drop the scorecard
You’ve fed the baby, done eight loads of washing and been up all night, but keeping score means no-one wins.  It’s not a competition, so take a deep breath and let it go.

6. Don’t go on the attack
Sometimes it’s less about what you say than how you say it.  If he feels threatened he’s more likely to counter-attack, so instead of saying ‘you never do the dishes,’ try asking if he’d prefer to wash up or clean the bathroom.

7. Don’t criticise
Telling him what he’s done wrong will only make him less likely to try again, so resist the urge to stand over him or criticise when he does help.

8. Say thank you
A little appreciation can go a long way.  At the end of the day you’ve both worked hard, so make sure you recognise each other’s efforts.

9. Lower your standards
It may drive you insane, but chances are he simply doesn’t notice dust gathering on the picture frames or the layer of grease over the cooker.  Make sure you’re both clear about what standard is expected, but be prepared to lower your sights sometimes if it means keeping the peace.

10. It will pass
Right now it may seem like things will never change, but as your little one grows more independent you’ll start to share things more evenly again.  Hold on and remind yourself that the end is in sight.

For more relationship information and advice, visit The Couple Connection.

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Finding cheap maternity clothes and still looking stylish on a budget is tricky. You want to look good and feel comfortable, but you also want to have enough cash to buy the best for your baby, especially at the moment when times are tough.

Today then we’ve got a few top tips for you to create a not-too-hideous maternity wardrobe on a budget.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask friends for hand-me-downs. Most mums will have a few bits lying around, the odd bag in the attic, and will be more than happy to pass them on.
  • Adapt your existing wardrobe – there are plenty of items around at the moment, like tunic style tops, that you’ll be able to wear quite a way into your pregnancy, and then afterwards too. Just because it doesn’t say ‘maternity’ in the label, doesn’t mean you can’t wear it.
  • Make your trousers go further, quite literally! Belly bands or bump bands help you adapt the clothes you’ve got already, covering up the ever growing expanse of tummy, and meaning you don’t have to spend so much on maternity wear.
  • Club together. One of the most expensive things is buying for special occasions, as maternity dresses for things like Christmas dinners can seem like a lot of money for something that you might only wear once or twice. Clubbing together with other pregnant friends means you can invest in something really nice, and spread the cost.

Do you have any great advice for fashion conscious mummies-to-be? We’d love to hear your top tips!

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Do you know what ‘purple crying’ is? No neither did we, which is why we’ve invited a guest blogger on today – Katie Hilton – to explain exactly what consitutes ‘normal’ baby crying…

For a number of years I worked as a Registered Perinatal Nurse in Canada, during this time I observed many differences in practice, some good, and some bad. One thing that really stuck in my mind was a programme delivered to all new parents called The Period of Purple Crying.

The Period of Purple Crying was developed by the National Centre on Shaken Baby Syndrome with the purpose of educating parents about the normalcy of infant crying and the dangers of shaking an infant. Research shows that frustration with an infant’s crying is the number one reason a child is shaken, primarily because people don’t understand the normality of early increased crying in all infants and that it is a phase all normal, healthy infants go through.

What is The Period of Purple Crying?

The Period of Purple Crying is the phrase used to describe the point in a baby’s life when they cry more than any other time. This period of increased crying is often described as colic, but there have been many misunderstandings about what “colic” really is.

The Period of Purple Crying is a new way to help parents understand this time in their baby’s life, which is a normal part of every infant’s development.

It is confusing and concerning to be told your baby “has colic” because it sounds like it is an illness or a condition that is abnormal. When the baby is given colic medicine it reinforces the idea that there is something wrong with the baby when infact the baby is going through a very normal developmental phase. That is why this time is referred to as The Period of Purple Crying. No, it is not because the baby turns purple when he/she cries but provides a meaningful and memorable way to describe what parents and their babies are going through.

The Period of Purple Crying begins at about 2 weeks of age and continues until about 3-4 months. There are other common characteristics of this period, which are better described by the acronym PURPLE (see below). All babies go through this period, it is just that during this time some can cry a lot, some far less, but they all do go through it.

When these babies are going through this period they seem to resist soothing. Nothing helps. Even though it helps when they are fussy or crying at other times, it is different when they go through these inconsolable crying bouts. Nothing seems to soothe them.

During this phase of a baby’s life they can cry for hours and still be healthy and normal. Parents often think there must be something wrong with them or they would not be crying like this. However, even after a check up from the doctor which shows the baby is healthy they still go home and cry for hours, night after night. Often parents say their baby looks like he or she is in pain. They think they must be or why would they cry so much. Turns out though that the babies who are going through this period can act like that even when they are not in pain.

The acronym PURPLE is used to describe specific characteristics of an infant’s crying during this phase and let parents and caregivers know that what they are experiencing is indeed normal and, although frustrating, is simply a phase in their child’s development that will pass.

Katie Hilton is a Registered Nurse and Registered Midwife and owner of BabyPrep, a pregnancy and parenting education and support company based in Staffordshire. You can find out much more about Katie and BabyPrep at www.babyprep.co.uk

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As parents ourselves, we know that new babies are a massive drain on finances and your stamina.

Unfortunately, we can’t do anything about the tiredness, but we do have a competition today that will help out on the money side, (meaning you’ll have some spare cash to buy yourself a Cuddledry…)

We’ve always been big Argos fans – they’re so handy aren’t they? – but now Argos do a great range of boys clothing and girls clothing too, so there’s barely any need to go anywhere else at all! They’ve got all sorts, from party frocks to everyday essentials, and our favourite is the gorgeous range designed by Emma Bunton:

There are up to three different ways to be in with a chance to win, and each will earn you one entry:

  • Sign up to our newsletter – we promise they aren’t too dull
  • Like us on facebook – we’ve got a great photo competition coming soon, so this one is well worth it
  • Leave a comment on this post, telling us why you deserve to win!

The competition closes at the end of March, after which a winner will be chosen at random.

Good luck!

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In my day, you got one blurry scan at 13 weeks and that was it! Now though, you can have amazing 3D and even 4D images of your baby in the womb – incredible! Whether you want some extra peace of mind, or are just curious, scans from companies such as Apeeka Boo Imaging could be something for you to consider…

Being pregnant is a magical time. However, for some expectant mothers it can be a stressful and worrying time, which is not healthy for either the baby or parents! It is not uncommon to have an ultrasound scan carried out to check all your babies vital signs and gain some reassurance that everything is progressing normally.

A 2D, 3D or 4D Scan can help on many levels. 2D Scans assist with capturing basic measurements of the babies anatomy. Helping to assess the growth velocity of the baby to ensure it is developing in line with your Estimated Date of Delivery (EDD). It’s even possible to check the sex with a Gender Scan or check that the fetal heart is beating which can be tracked with colour blood flow and sound.

With 3D or 4D Scans it’s possible to get a sneak preview of your little one in the womb. For those parents that feel anxious and find themselves needing some reassurance then an ultrasound 4D Scan could be just what you need!

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Why is it that as soon as you find out you are pregnant, one of the first things that runs through your mind is that you have to take it easy, put your feet up and get as much rest as possible. After all when you are carrying a baby you get tired easier and never have any energy….. Don’t you?

In reality, it may be that you feel tired and lethargic during your pregnancy but it doesn’t have to be that way and some gentle exercise can be the making of you during pregnancy. Not only will it help keep you fit and healthy but can also boost your energy reserves and stimulate the feel good endorphins that can provide a much more positive maternity experience. Exercise can give you the life and vitality to really enjoy your pregnancy and ensure that your maternity clothes look good and that you feel great.

If you are intending to start any exercise during your pregnancy then it is essential that you first consult your Midwife or Doctor but once that is done, the world is your oyster and you can start enjoying the feel good factor that can come with even the slightest pre natal exercise. Read the rest of this entry »

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