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Does baby brain exist?

What is baby brain? Is it a debilitating condition that turns your brain to mush or is it an excuse for when you’re not on par?

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I can’t deny I’ve had my share of baby brain moments. Such as when I put a whole toilet roll in with the washing the week after baby was born and when I dented my brand new car by literally driving into a parked van. There has definitely been a post-baby change to my brain where at times I wonder what has happened to my mental state of mind. I actually hope baby brain is real because it’s nice to have something to blame – I’m not actually going mad, allegedly.

The good news is that as my baby has got a bit older, my moments of baby brain-ness have reduced. This increase in mental strength has got me thinking and I’ve developed a theory on baby brain…

I don’t believe that mums’ brains are being turned to mush. I think that mums’ brains are being filled with so much more information and are being used so much more, we’re actually displacing our old knowledge. A theory I’m calling BBD – baby brain displacement.

Learning how to look after a baby takes a lot of time, concentration and (without realising it) brain capacity. Your senses are heightened and you not only need to look after yourself but need to become automatically atuned to looking after another human being. We’ve all heard of a mother’s instinct. I think that this is something that your brain actually builds and develops. In the same way that your body is tired while you’re pregnant because it’s supporting another life, your brain is bound to become fatigued when it’s learning to do the exact same thing once baby is born.

Think about how much more you do when you’re a mum:

– Even when you’re asleep your mind is on alert for baby. In the early days, even the semi-silent sound of baby wriggling and opening their mouth can be enough to stir you from slumber. If that’s not instinct, what is?

– Your day takes meticulous planning. You have a 10am music class followed by a play date. You’re up at 7am (if you’re lucky) so surely you can get out in three hours? Routine: Up, nappy, bottle, breakfast, wash, dress, nappy, desperately try to help baby fall asleep so they’ve napped and are not therefore grumpy making any outing pointless, get yourself washed, dressed, sterilise bottles, pack changing bag with nappies, spare clothes, bottles, milk, muslins, wipes, clean dummies (once hunted for), toys and books to entertain, lunch (once you’ve figured where you’ll be and will they heat it). Then another bottle, set up the pram, leave the house, return immediately for a dirty nappy requiring a full change of clothes. Leave again – this time needing to run because you’re so late…already thinking about the next feed and nap.
Think we just rolled out of bed and leisurely rocked up drinking tea and eating cake? No, this was a military operation.

– When you’re doing something seemingly simple such as walking down the street, you’re not only concentrating on the task in hand but are on high alert for any hazard and foreseeing any potential danger or accident; there’s a pot hole at five paces, dog poo at eight paces, pebbles to be picked up at 16 paces, steps to mount at 20 paces, is that the sound of a car? Will that patch of gravel trip baby over? Is baby about to make a run for it? Will not crossing the road to pet a doggie make them roll on the floor in a tantrum rage? Do I bash the car that’s parked on the pavement with the wheels of the buggy? Wait, it’s tea time in 10 minutes and we’re 15 minutes away from home! And all this while singing wheels on the bus on a continuous loop.

– Then there are the endless to-do lists which circulate in your head and the panic of when you’ll get stuff done. If baby naps for only 40 minutes, can I wash and sterilise the bottles, clean up after breakfast, boil the kettle for tea, shower, change, make the bed, do the washing, pack the car ready to go out…oh and catch up on precious sleep? Not really. No wonder the tea never gets drunk hot!

– And don’t forget you’re doing all of this while being physically tortured by sleep deprivation. Fuelled by (cold) caffeine and as much cake as you can lay your hands on, you have to perform like a super hero when you’re so tired you could sleep standing up.

So the next time you try to put yourself down by worrying about having baby brain, think about the amazing feats you perform every single day in caring for, nuturing, feeding and entertaining your baby. All this with no experience, training, guidance or sleep. If you do have a “baby brain” moment, it’s not that you’re losing your mind. That piece of information has just been justifiably displaced.

What do you think of this theory? Leave a comment below or say hello on Facebook or Twitter.

Like this blog post? Read these:
Post baby: why I changed
Things parents do they’re not proud of

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How to get rid of the black stuff from bath toys

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The gunk from just one bath toy

What’s the best way of getting rid of the black gunk in your bath toys? You know, the little black flakes which pops out of your five little ducks and your squirty bath toys when squeezed.

At first you think you can’t have cleaned the bath properly. Then with one firm squirt, you witness the gunk pour out of your baby’s beloved duck. Disgustingly, it’s mould. I’ve thrown a few of the offending ducks out but I’ve gone through so many now that I’m convinced there’s a way of reviving them. So I’ve done my research and here are my results to getting rid of the bath toy black stuff.

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One of the offending creatures

1. Dishwasher: don’t bother, this did nothing. Although my toddler thought it was vaguely amusing seeing them in there.

2. Soak them in cola: squeeze out the air and suck up the cola into the duck until it’s full, then leave to soak.
Some people swear by this but it couldn’t persuade the ducks to clean up their act for me. It was slightly old Coke but I did try leaving it for 24 hours. No impact.

3. Soak them in Milton: I read that you can soak them in a solution of bleach and water but I worried about the bleach residue so I opted for Milton instead.
This worked a treat! The ducks do smell a bit Milton-esque but a good rinse and a trip on the dishwasher ride sorts that out:

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Happy clean duck and his dolphin pal

4. Vinegar: If you don’t have bleach or Milton, try soaking them in a solution of 80% white vinegar and 20% water. Can’t vouch for this as I’ve chucked the rest of the gang in the Milton bucket. I’m a mum, I don’t have THAT much time to waste. Anyone else tried it? Let me know.

5. Stab them: take out your frustration by stabbing the hole in the toy a little bigger – or cut it carefully with a scissors. Then you can use a toothbrush to give it a scrub and it also means the water drains out of it easier in the first place to stop the mould building up.

6. Glue gun them: best to do this on new toys to prevent the problem in the first place. Dab the hot glue over the hole to make sure they’re fully sealed. No water will get in and the toy will float. This is fine for ducks but kind of defeats the object for your squirty toys.

7. Life too short? Don’t have the time to scrub a duck and you’re not crafty enough for a glue gun? Send them to ducky heaven and buy some more. Invest in non-squeezy toys or, if ducks are a must, keep a look out for ones without a hole – such as the Munchkin Bath Ducky which are a bit more expensive but they come in lots of different characters and they also tell you if the water temperature is too hot (by a sensor on it’s bottom – not by quacking!)

Going to try this? Has this worked for you? Got your own tips? Add a comment below 🙂

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The Calpol Controversy

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When you’ve got a little baby at home, you start to think like a mad scientist. Each day I reinvent normal household items to have magical powers; a nappy that can actually contain THOSE explosions, a dummy that jumps into baby’s mouth when they wake at night, bed sheets that auto wash when covered with more than one bodily fluid, a pause button that allows you to drink just one hot cup of tea a day.
Maybe I have too many waking hours to think sensibly anymore.

But there’s one thing that already has magical baby powers which I think is getting too much stick at the moment; Calpol. Doctors say that Calpol is too sweet and looks like milkshake – it appears that babies actually like it. Here’s the original story in the Mail on Sunday but it’s also going widespread at the moment.

When I think of Calpol, I picture my screaming, tiny, ill baby, beside herself in pain from a nasty ear infection. And me trying to calm her enough to offer her a dose of Calpol. We quickly discovered the also magical medicine dummies in place of the syringes which I can never actually control without squirting it everywhere. After the initial taste, my baby would cautiously take the rest of the dose. The sucking motion calmed her and soon after, the Calpol worked its magic touch and she took a deep breath and quietly cuddle up to me as the pain subsided.

To me, that’s magic. Could you imagine baby Calpol NOT existing? It would be our number one want on the mad baby inventor programme.

The argument is that Calpol tastes so good that there’s a risk of overdose. There are reports of kids clambering into cupboards, busting open the caps and glugging their way through the bottle. Sounds like me and gin at baby bedtime.

In the reports I’ve read, Calpol makers are taking a hammering. So much so that I was compelled to write this post. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not making light of the serious issue of potential overdosing. Yes, action does need to be taken to reduce the risks. But part of me thinks that there is an education process with parents about the very real danger that overdosing on paracetamol can cause with advice on storage – even if it involves hiding it in a locked medicine cupboard. I know that terrible accidents can happen when you’re a parent. But if your baby rolls off a changing station, do you blame the manufacturer or do you start changing the baby at ground level?

Calpol, here’s my message to you: Thank you for not only making a magic potion that takes excruciating pain away from my baby but also making it appealing enough that even in the deep dark depths of despair, my baby will take it.
Let’s not forget that “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”. Even Mary Poppins agrees.

What do you think?