A first time mum’s thoughts on dressing

March 22nd, 2019

So, you’ve been home a couple of weeks now. You’ve gotten the hang of feeding and sleeping, you’ve probably figured out how to get a quick hot drink at least once in the day and, if you’re really lucky, you’ve even found a way to fit in a shower. Then the time comes to venture out of the house and, if you have a winter baby like me, there’s a whole new world to figure out. What should you dress your baby in?

The basic rule is one extra layer than you are wearing. I don’t know about you but I think this rule is rather ambiguous. How do you know your baby will feel the warmth the same way that you do? I know that me and my husband feel very differently about the weather and sometimes he’s wrapped up in 5 different layers and I’m only wearing 2 so which person’s layers do you base it on then? It’s basically just trial and error. As a new mum it can feel like there is a lot of pressure to get everything right the first time, but, it really isn’t the end of the world if you get it wrong for those first few outings. Or if you forget the rain cover for the pram and end up walking home really fast hoping the rain doesn’t start to soak through the not so waterproof hood of the pram. (It didn’t in case you were wondering. Sam and I were drenched, baby stayed dry thankfully.)

From what I have learned so far it seems that layers are your friend. Especially in the British winter. Sub zero temperatures one week then 18 degrees the next. In those few very cold weeks in January it was easy. A snugglesuit kept her warm and cosy. Now it’s spring, it’s a little harder. It’s cold, sometimes windy and rainy, but when that sun is out it can actually feel quite warm. So it’s good to be able to have the option to take off a layer or two when you feel your baby is getting a little warm. This is also really handy if you’re in and out of places so your baby doesn’t get too warm while you’re indoors.

If you dress your baby in wool then there’s also the added benefit of the temperature regulating properties that comes with it. Wool has the ability to transfer heat and moisture into the cooler environment so baby should stay snug without overheating. Brilliant! If you’re like me though, you may have some preconceived ideas about clothes made from wool. I imagined the clothes to be old fashioned and bulky, and, I envisaged myself stood at the sink every day wringing out masses of hand washed clothes. But this hasn’t been the case and I’ve been thoroughly converted.

I definitely stress less now about what she's wearing when we go out. Sometimes I worry that she's getting warm when we go indoors but I'm confident enough now to actually remove her from her pram in public so I can take a layer off if needs be. Most of the time it's just lifting her blanket off her though, which is much easier and less likely to disturb her because nobody wants to wake a sleeping baby. The blanket is definitely the ultimate layer! As with everything it just comes with practice and experience so maybe I'll know what I'm doing soon!

 

Here are some of my favourite products.

Disana dungarees in Organic Merino Wool - These are gorgeous! In my opinion, this piece of clothing has it all. They are soft and stretchy so I know my baby will be comfortable in them.

Molly modelling the Disana wool dungarees

Disana Baby Jumper in Organic Merino Wool - I love this jumper. I know she’ll be lovely in warm so I don’t need to worry in those lower temperatures but it’s also soft so she’s comfortable in it too. I used to put it over a sleep suit and it never looked bulky.


Molly wearing the Disana jumper over a sleep suit

Disana Wrap Baby Cardigan in Organic Merino Wool - Like the jumper but much easier to put on!

I don't seem to have a picture of her wearing this cardigan. Will definitely have to rectify this at first opportunity. You can't have too many pictures can you?

Wrap baby body in organic cotton with fold over scratch mitts - Baby body’s with built in scratch mitts are genius. They eliminate the need for scratch mitts which I guarantee you will lose at least once.

Molly having fun in the Iobio wrap baby body with scratch mitts

Premature and Newborn Baby pants with feet by Serendipity - Trousers with built in feet! I had no idea these even existed but I’m so glad they do. I love them because it means your baby can wear something other than a sleep suit for a change but still have their precious little feet covered. They also eliminate the need for socks which, again, I guarantee you will lose at least once.

Molly having a snooze in the Serendipity pants with feet


A first time mum’s thoughts on feeding

March 15th, 2019

It doesn’t matter how you choose to feed your baby, one thing we can all agree on is that it seems like they are constantly feeding. Especially at night when we are all losing out on our precious sleep. And don’t even get me started on that second night. The ‘cluster feed night’ they called it. I think we must have gotten about 2 hours sleep. And it was our first night at home so we thought this was how it was going to be. I have to admit, there were some thoughts of ‘what have we done?!’ It does get easier. Already, at 5 weeks old, Molly is feeding less during the night and the feeds are a lot shorter than when she was a newborn.

It hasn’t always been so easy though. Molly has been a professional at this breastfeeding thing from day one. I consider myself very lucky. I have had days, however, where I have wondered if it was all worth it. There have been days that have been so painful I have considered sacking it in. Engorgement made me feel like I had boulders on my chest and blocked ducts can be agonising. And have you ever heard of mastitis? But I’m so glad I have persevered. It’s an amazing bonding experience with my baby and, once everything has settled down after the first few weeks, it’s actually rather enjoyable.

The basic message out there seems to be breast is best and there is no doubt that breastfeeding has many benefits for both baby and mother, but formula fed babies are happy and healthy too. My baby has had both. When Molly was just two days old the midwife took one look at her jaundice and sent us straight to A&E. Unfortunately, this meant admittance to a ward for some phototherapy treatment. While we were there, the nurses were very insistent that Molly needed to put on weight. We were only allowed to remove her from her lightbox for 30 minutes every 4 hours and because my milk hadn’t come in properly yet, she needed formula top ups. It was heartbreaking to know that I wasn’t producing enough milk for my baby. Even more so when I found that her jaundice may have been exacerbated by my choice to breastfeed. At the time I wish I’d known that breastfeeding can increase the risk of jaundice, but looking back I don’t think it would have influenced my decision to breastfeed. Those formula top ups did the trick and I’m grateful that option was available until I was producing enough milk. I still have some in the cupboard now, just in case, because you never know.

Sam feeding Molly in hospital after admittance for jaundice

If the feeding wasn’t hard enough, sometimes the milk comes back out a lot quicker than it went in! You’ve just finished feeding, you have a nice content little baby, then before you know it you’re covered in spit up and your baby is crying because they’re hungry again! It’s the last thing you need, isn’t it? The laundry basket is full, you don’t have any more clean clothes, so you spend all day sporting a nice white stain on your black top. Muslins are your friend though. They are absolutely essential and you should aim to have one within 2 feet of you at all times so you’re armed and ready for the next spit up accident. They also make brilliant covers for when you want to breastfeed discreetly in public. Just remember to keep a couple handy in your changing bag and/or handbag for every time you leave the house.

My experiences with feeding have made me realise that there’s is no black and white when it comes to the choice of milk for your baby. Sometimes things happen unexpectedly that means our first choice isn’t available or appropriate for the circumstances. As long as baby is happy and well fed that’s all that matters. Let’s keep that in mind, take the stresses away and just enjoy the closeness of feeding our babies, because before we know it, they’ll be grown up enough to be feeding themselves.


There’s a new Cambridge baby!

March 8th, 2019

My name’s Tanya and my husband, Sam, and I have just had a baby. You’ll know Sam as he answers many of your calls and emails and has probably packed your order!

I’ve been a mum for just over a month now to a beautiful baby girl named Molly. She is pure perfection and I could not have predicted the immediate and overwhelming love I have for her. My husband, Sam, and I were definitely wrapped up in our own little baby bubble for the first three weeks while he was on his paternity leave. Now Sam has returned to work, it’s just me and Molly in our happy little baby bubble. 

Molly under her Disana delicate wool blanket.

Although I have never been happier, unfortunately, the lack of sleep, the overwhelming sense of responsibility and having to accept that my life will never be the same again occasionally (frequently) get the better of me. There have been many times when I have sat and cried. In fact, just last week I did nothing but cry all day. My daughter would not stop crying no matter what I did so we just sat and cried together until my husband had to come home from work early to rescue us both. I’ve never felt as much a failure as I did when she settled in his arms that afternoon. What did he have that I didn’t?? Probably a nice steady heartbeat and breathing rhythm in comparison to me who was so wound up my heart rate must have been in the thousands. Thankfully, I have not been too traumatised by that day and we’ve actually learnt from the experience and have managed a week now, without any mummy tears, while daddy has been at work. Sense of accomplishment has been restored! Note to self: a bad day is not failure and calm husbands are worth their weight in gold.

Actually, surviving my first month of motherhood is a major accomplishment in itself. It’s hard. No amount of books or classes could prepare me for the drastic life change a baby brings. I’ve been assured it gets easier but honestly, I don’t need it to. She’s worth every ounce of effort I put in and I’m incredibly grateful to spend the rest of my life being her mum.

Molly and I are really looking forward to sharing our journey with you all. Here at Cambridge Baby we sell a lot of clothes for babies and I’m sure many of you have been through, are going through or will be going through soon, many of the things that I’ll be writing about. We'll be posting weekly so keep checking back. I hope you enjoy joining us and we’d love to hear from you over on our social media pages!


Making clothes look good naturally

July 19th, 2017

At Cambridge baby we pride ourselves in choosing natural breathable clothing that children love to wear. We love the expression on children's faces when they try wearing wool for the first time and feel how comfortable it is.  We were looking for photo's that capture the joy and ease children feel when they are comfortable. Seeing our shout out for models photographer Helen Alderton offered to help us. Helen specialises in taking portraits of children & families in a natural environment (she's excellent at studio photography too but its the natural backdrops she loves.  To find out more about what she does see http://www.haphotography.co.uk/

We think she's captured the essence of Cambridge Baby. Here are a few of our favourites the children and the mother are all wearing wool from Smalls, Engel, Cosilana  Disana and Living Crafts with Organic cotton Dungarees from Iiobio.


Why wool is wonderful when wet!

June 28th, 2017

rain on river

It's soggy here in Cambridge!

Even when we are soaked through our merino base layers are still keeping us comfortable. Here's how.....

Wool is able to soak up to 30 percent of its own weight in moisture without feeling wet, hence it's ability to keep you warm even in the rain.The natural crimp of the fibres helps to wick moisture away from the body. Getting this moisture off your skin helps you feel warm and comfortable in wet conditions, but the complex make up of the fibres have still more ways of keeping you comfortable.The crimp in the wool fibre means that they trap tiny air pockets between them when they are next to each other. Air pockets act as insulators -- keeping you both warm and cool. Air can move heat by convection -- When air is contained in small pockets, it can't circulate easily, and the heat or cool is retained.

There's also some chemistry at work here. Wool fibres are made up of three layers. The first, keratin, is a moisture-loving protein that all animal hair has. It is designed to maintain a stable body temperature. Think how useful this is to babies, athletes and your own day-to-day living. The second layer is the cuticle a scaly covering. The overlapping scales are tiny, but as they rub against each other they push off the dirt. So it is self-cleaning, as anyone who's put their baby in wool knows. The third layer is a filmy skin the epicuticle which keeps the rain out. Wool is quite water-resistant, as duffel-coat wearers and sheep can testify. Now, the two outer layers have tiny pores which allow moisture to pass through to the keratin core, which absorbs it. The hydrogen bond of water, H2O, is broken, creating a chemical reaction within the fibre molecules to generate heat when it has taken on a lot of moisture. But because the air pockets allow moisture to evaporate from your skin, you won't overheat when you sweat.

So, you can see it's not just sheep who can enjoy being out in the rain in their woolly coats.

I'm not a fan of  crackly waterproofs so when it's raining  I prefer  to wear the following for running/ walking in the rain. I'm not totally dry, but I feel warm and comfortable.

Merino Leggings

Merino Tank Top

Merino Fleece

Wool base layers are also the perfect layer under a waterproof as they wick the sweat away from your body.


Synthetic micro fibres from clothing are potentially a bigger threat to marine pollution than microbeads.

February 23rd, 2017

When we started Cambridge Baby we decided to source clothing made from natural fibres for two reasons (both intrinsically linked). We believed natural fibres amazing properties were better for our children and that their renewable and biodegradable nature meant they were better for the environment.

It turns out that our environmental choice was even more important than we originally thought. What we didn't know then is how many micro fibres are released from synthetic clothes when they 're washed that then end up in the marine food chain. According to a research team from the University of California  a city of 100,000 inhabitants releases a volume of microfibers equivalent to 15,000 plastic bags from their washing machines. A city  with the population of Berlin may be responsible for the equivalent of 540,000 plastic bags – every single day.

The Guardian says "The impact of microplastic pollution is not fully understood but studies have suggested that it has the potential to poison the food chain, build up in animals’ digestive tracts, reduce the ability of some organisms to absorb energy from foods in the normal way and even to change the behaviour of crabs."

One of the findings from the research was that old polyester fleeces release more fibres than new ones. So even sourcing second-hand synthetic clothes isn't a brilliant option from an environmental point of you. 

The good news is that moving away from polyester, and acrylic clothing is not only good for the environment its better for you and your family to. Natural fibres biodegrade naturally and  have other properties that contribute to your family's well being. Our pure wool fleeces are soft, breathable, antibacterial, naturally flame retardant, water repellent and even dirt resistant! 

 

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/sep/27/washing-clothes-releases-water-polluting-fibres-study-finds

http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/commentary/2017/02/16/microfibers-source-ingestible-plastic-worse-already-banned-microbeads

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-37263087

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/sep/07/microfiber-pollution-ocean-advocacy-groups-alliance


Christmas Jumper Day

December 14th, 2016

Make your own Christmas jumper

My 7 year old decorated her Disana merino jumper for Christmas Jumper Day on the 16th. Here's what we did to ensure the jumper would go back to the same favourite everyday jumper it was, and make it easy to re-Christmas it or another jumper next year.  

 

red-disana_jumper

 

 

  • She came up with line/pattern design based on other Christmassy patterns she'd seen. 
  • Using wool she'd carded, she needle felted the Christmas trees and snowmen onto a piece of felt.

felting-trees

 

  • We then stitched on some other embellishments she had in her sewing/jewelry box.
  • She plaited some merino tops for cuffs.

plattingwool

  • I carefully tacked on the piece of felt and the cuffs to the jumper so as not to damage the jumper and to make it easy to snip off after Christmas.

finishedjumper_square


Ethical Wool?

May 5th, 2016

Below is a letter Helen wrote to a customer who was concerned about animal welfare and the ethics of wearing wool.

Dear xxxx,

Thank you for your email and it is always good to know our customers are concerned about ethics and better ways to live.

I share your concerns about the issues raised in the article regarding animal welfare. First of all, the majority of our wool is certified organic. This is not simply about avoiding potentially toxic chemical and hormonal sheep treatments but also about raising sheep in a humane way, and about holistic management practices. Secondly, none of our wool comes from farms that practise mulesing - we specifically check this with every supplier. Thirdly, at present none of our wool comes from the USA or Australia which do have histories of poor management practices, although I believe they are improving in response to lobbying which is good news. Most of our existing suppliers are small companies also concerned about the ethics running through their supply chains and we are confident that they act on their principles, and we ask for an ethical statement from new suppliers which includes questions about animal welfare as well as social issues (working conditions) and ecological issues (environmental footprint, organic/eco status etc).

While I think it's great that organisations such as PETA campaign for animal welfare, I don't think it's good to take a blanket approach. It is better to support those farms and farmers that engage in good practices and boycott those who don't. In terms of ecology, we know that are many parts of our moors and mountains that benefit ecologically from managed grazing which increases biodiversity, both here and in New Zealand and South America, for example, whereas monocultures can be exceedingly environmentally damaging as highlighted recently by theWWF and Greenpeace.

I take issue with the article stating that

"With so many humane fabrics, including rayon, cotton, hemp, acrylic, nylon and microfibre..."

as these may only be humane at one level - the use of petrochemicals in the unnatural production of man-made fibres is in my opinion disastrous - not only is it polluting, it is unsustainable and also these things are not biodegradable - who would want their old skirt or t-shirt knocking around our planet in 1000 years time? The production of acrylic and nylon is highly chemicalised and damages our planet and therefore the animals within it - not only this, but it uses an number of carcinogens and a recent study found that women working in acrylic factories were seven times more likely to develop breast cancer. I know it is hard to make good ethical decisions because there is so much to look into - but it should be looked into by organisations like PETA if they are promoting alternatives as ethical which clearly aren't.

While hemp may be ecological, cotton isn't on the whole. We stock organic cotton because of the damage caused to people's health in the use of chemicals on cotton - this is widely documented, and to call cotton humane when it kills human beings and causes ill-health in children in developing countries is very narrow minded. Furthermore the high levels of pesticides used in conventionally grown cotton must, if they are causing death and hospitalisation of humans, be exceedingly toxic to animals too. Even organic cotton is troublesome in that it does require a lot of water, problematic in many countries. But we still feel at Cambridge Baby that we want to support organic cotton and organic agriculture generally.

Finally, microfibre... what can I say? The sea is swimming in microfibre fleece particles as they are not filtered out from your washing machine and end up as minuscule ubiquitous pollutants in landfill and in our oceans. FAR better to have a wool vest, wool top, wool fleece...

Wool is unarguably sustainable, natural, and it bio-degrades naturally. It is healthy for the skin as it is designed to clothe mammals and therefore needs less processing, and organic rearing of sheep is humane, does not pollute the ground, sea or other animals, and is of no danger to farmers and their families.

Clearly everyone has different values but for me there is no question, I strongly advocate using wool over the alternatives - but yes in doing so making sure that the wool is organic if animal welfare is your overriding concern.

I hope this is helpful.

Best wishes,
Helen

PS we are currently looking into hemp again and may be stocking it in the future.

> Cambridge Baby Team

> Cambridge Baby - discover natural, organic clothing for your little explorers (aged 0-100).


Wool, a mother’s perspective.

January 28th, 2016

When my first daughter was born, I got some handmade woollen hand-me downs, gorgeous tiny knitted cardigans and precious booties. They were made of the softest yarn in pastel colours with intricate lacy patterns. They were stunningly beautiful... and I despised them. I found them outrageous. They embodied everything that was wrong with parenting these days! I was, of course, extremely young and extremely foolish.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated their beauty and the fact that they had been made with love, but I bemoaned their lack of practicality. Hand wash only! For a baby! As if new parents had time for that. To me, Hand Wash Only was a dreaded label that should be avoided at all costs. I grew up in a tropical climate so there was never a wool culture in my home. My mother was a power professional who always had her suits dry-cleaned. The few delicates that escaped her strict “no hand-wash garments” policy piled up at the bottom of the dirty clothes hamper for weeks on end. Once they reached a critical mass, mum would grudgingly fish them out and scrub them with a vengeance. Thinking back, they would have probably fared better in the machine.

In my early twenties I left home to study in Ireland, a move for which neither my mind nor my wardrobe were prepared. Just before I left, my wise mother bought me an under-shirt, the first I’d ever owned. It was a gorgeously soft blend of merino wool and silk and it was machine washable! Oh, how I loved that shirt. And yet, it never occurred to me to buy more woollen clothes, maybe because I was a broke college student and I weighed any purchase against how many Tesco Value ramen I would be able to afford with that money. Had I been a little wiser I would have saved myself more than one nasty cold.

It wasn't until after I became a mother that I started to learn the importance of surrounding and dressing ourselves with natural materials. I did a lot of online research and was lucky to meet a few like-minded mothers who taught me more than I ever thought I could possibly learn. One lesson in particular stands out in my mind. My friend and I were having lunch with our toddlers and her 8-month-old baby. Dessert was fresh mango and the baby ate it with gusto. And by “ate it” I mean poked it, squished it and rubbed it all over her face, with the yellow juices running down her arm and chin onto her white knitted cardigan. Seeing this, I joked to my friend “I hope that cardigan isn't hand wash only”. She looked at me with genuine puzzlement: “Yes, it is. Why?” I was aghast. Wasn't it obvious? “Isn't it… too much of a hassle?” I asked. “Not at all!” she answered nonchalantly. “I'm staying at my mum’s tonight and she doesn't have proper wool detergent but baby shampoo works in a pinch. I'll just give it a rinse in the sink while the girls are having their bath, it’ll be dry by tomorrow”.

That was it? Could it really be so simple? If you grew up wearing wool you’re probably laughing at me right now, but it really took a while to wrap my head around the fact that hand-washing didn't need to be a huge affair. I started researching and began to understand. Wool is antibacterial! Wool repels stains! No scrubbing your knuckles raw, you just need to let it soak in soapy water and rub stains gently. It dries super fast. And some wool is even machine washable!

After this eye-opening experience, I tentatively ordered my daughter’s first pair of woollen pyjamas… and I fell in love. Caring for them was as easy as everybody promised it would be, and never again did I need to worry that my baby was too hot or too cold at night. No more icy hands, no more sweaty foreheads thanks to wool’s property of thermoregulation, which I believe is a fancy word for “mama, don’t fret”. By the time my son was born I was a convert… and I found myself wishing I hadn’t returned those handknit woolies that I used to hate so much. They were pink and purple and frilly… but I would have put them on him anyway, and he would have been happy.

Lorena Díaz García. ( A Cambridge Baby customer)


Christmas Crafts

December 3rd, 2015

Making decorations is one of our favourite things to do. Here are some of my favourites this year. Hammering wild carrot Christmas trees into cloth is a fun thing for children to do. They can come out looking great too.12314091_10153371944413722_4033771897848355208_nYou can make some beautiful decorations using cinnamon and dried fruit. Simply slice the fruit thinly and dry in the oven at around 80C for an hour on each side. Then children can string them with cranberries and cinnamon sticks.

I love this twig wreath and will dig out the drift wood I've saved since a holiday in Cornwall.
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Finally if you have accidentally shrunk some jumpers or they are too old and holey to pass on this is a nice way to upcycle them and make your house feel warm.enhanced-buzz-30374-1354550934-4