Each issue we put your questions to our panel of experts.
Tips for The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge from the nation’s best parenting experts
Today news broke that the Duchess of Cambridge has gone into labour with her third child.
Coping with three under five is no mean feat and while William and Kate will have plenty of help on tap, it’s important to remember that they are a real couple too, facing the same problems that all new parents with an ever-growing family face.
To offer a helping hand for them, and others with a second, third or fourth, on the way, The Baby Show, which returns to the Birmingham NEC from 18th – 20th May, has asked their speakers to share their expertise for parents coping with their latest addition to the family.
Be open minded
Milli Hill, Founder of The Positive Birth Movement and Author of The Positive Birth Book says: “If you have had fairly straightforward and smooth running labours with your first two, this doesn’t necessarily mean that everything will be plain sailing with baby number three; indeed, some people call the third baby the ‘Wild Card’ as it can sometimes bring unexpected surprises! Likewise if you had difficult first and second births you might have a really positive experience with this baby - as your body (and mind) are now really well prepared for labour. Either way, be open to surprises!”
Lucy Shrimpton, The Sleep Nanny® agrees: “Whilst you may feel experienced in giving birth and, to some extent, know what to expect, remember every birth is different and things don't always go to plan. If you remain open minded and flexible about how the birth takes place, you will be less likely to feel disappointed if it doesn’t quite go to your ideal 'plan'.”
Prepare for the birth to be quick!
Milli Hill says: “Sometimes second or third babies can come quick! It’s a good idea to mentally prepare for a quick labour, and prepare on a practical level - for example by prepping your partner on what they may need to do if this happens."
Give your children important roles
Chireal Shallow, Consultant Psychologist and author of The Gentle Sleep Solution says: “Getting older children involved in caring for the new baby makes them feel included and special. Easy things could be taking responsibility for bringing the nappy bag or baby’s toys. Make sure you spend time with each child separately each day – no matter for how long, but ensure you’re engaging in an activity they like.
“Put older children to bed last so that they feel important and give them fun things to do while you put the new baby down. When feeding your new-born have your older children around you engaged in an activity so they feel close and are not bored or bothering you.”
Annabel Karmel, best-selling cookery author and expert in creating nutritious meals for babies and families says “It’s important for those who are welcoming a new arrival to continue to eat well both for you and for your baby. If breastfeeding, your fluid requirements increase dramatically so keep a close eye on your daily intake and remember to stay hydrated. Kate should be drinking lots of water, herbal teas or unsweetened fruit juices, and keep a bottle of water handy when she breastfeeds.
“Kate needs to up the all-important intake of calcium, iron and fibre-rich foods. She should aim for at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and include plenty of fibre while red meat, dark green leafy vegetables and pulses are great sources of iron. Vegetarians should take pulses and lentils with a source of vitamin c which has been proven to help enhance iron absorption. Finally – calcium. A great way to start the morning is with a bowl of granola topped with fruit and yoghurt or some delicious bircher muesli soaked in milk. Plus, it’s two for the price of one in the nutrition stakes - oats and bran are low GI foods, so they will help fuel your body through a busy morning.”
Lesley Gilchrist Midwife and founder of My Expert Midwife says: “You will be offered plenty of help so take it. Many friends and family will offer their time and that doesn’t mean that they need to be in your house. Laundry, cooking and shopping are all jobs that can be done by others and planned in advance, so make a list and if anyone offers they can choose from the list.
“Within your normal household routine there will be a need for additional help to support you all in those early days; you’ll be tired and a new baby can be all consuming. A close family member or friend can be invaluable, helping you with nappy changes, your other children and making sure you’re all eating properly. If you don’t have family and friends that would be able to help, why not look into Doulas? Doulas provide non-medical support but are professional and knowledgeable in helping you all adapt to new parenthood. They will also offer practical help such as washing and food preparation. Although Doulas charge a fee, doulas in training offer reduced rates and through Doula UK and other doula organisations if you’re on a low income can apply for funding.”
Take Time for Yourself and your family
Lesley says: “By the time you have your third child, you’ll be older than you were before and have more children to look after which will be more emotionally and physically exhausting. Plan in advance by saying that you’ll be having family time to allow your other children to get to know their new brother or sister. Decide on the length of time you’d like for complete privacy; one week is the norm although it’s completely up to you, you can always change your mind once baby has arrived.
“There will always be exceptions to visiting; some friends and family will visit but it’s important to remember that if you’re tired or want peace to feed your baby then go and rest, don’t feel guilty.”
When establishing breastfeeding, it’s important to understand that every baby is different
Breastfeeding expert, Clare Byam-Cook author of What to Expect when You’re Breastfeeding….and What if You Can’t? says: “When breastfeeding, it is helpful to know that every baby is different, and what works with one baby doesn't necessarily work with another. Milk supply can vary hugely and third time round a mother might have more, less or exactly the same milk as with her previous two babies. The success and failure of breastfeeding is often dependent on combinations - a mother with a good supply of milk and a baby who sucks well will find breastfeeding far easier than a mother who has a low milk supply and baby who sucks badly. When breastfeeding, it is OK to give your baby the occasional bottle so you can catch up on sleep and share the load with your partner.
“Remember, breast is only best if it is going well and everyone is thriving, so make sure you seek help early if you feel things aren’t going to plan.”
Create a bedtime routine
Sleep Expert and author of Gentle Sleep Solutions, Andrea Grace says: “From the earliest weeks right up to teens, a lovely consistent bedtime routine for your children will help them to feel both sleepy and safe. Include a nice warm bath, and lots of loving contact with you. It is a wonderful investment of your time and energy to help your children to go to sleep feeling happy and content.”
Make that routine enjoyable
Andrea says: “Accept that when your family is growing up, you’re going be tired. So go to bed early, and go easy on the wine and coffee. Learn to take advantage of the times when your little ones are napping to put your own feet up. This way you will be better prepared to rise to the challenge of their demands. Make bed time a happy time of day! Even though you might be ready for a break, try to take the time to show your children just how much you love them. Turn off the TV, step away from the mobile phone, and give them your undivided attention. This will help them to fall asleep feeling secure and happy.”
Remember every baby is unique
Lucy Shrimpton says: “You can parent every baby you have the same way but they are unique and you may not get the same response from each of your children. Some sleep well, some struggle and need more help. Some feed well, others have challenges. So long as your baby is loved, you're doing a great job. There are experts who can help with the other challenges!”
Clare Byam-Cook, Andrea Grace, Lucy Shrimpton, Annabel Karmel, Milli Hill, Chireal Shallow and Lesley Gilchrist will all be speaking at The Baby Show, with MadeForMums, at the Birmingham NEC 18th – 20th May.
As well as offering a wealth of expert advice, the event will showcase the latest innovations on the baby market and offer an incredible one-stop-shop for those shopping for their new arrivals – including the UK’s biggest range of prams, buggies and car seats all under one roof!
Friday 18th May: 9.30am – 5pm
Saturday 19th May: 9.30am – 5pm
Sunday 20th May: 9.30am – 5pm
Is it my fault?
Eczema is largely a genetic condition and children who are born with genetic likelihood develop eczema. Certain things, such as pet dander, dust mites, and chemicals in bath soaks or soaps will then trigger this. Don’t be seized by guilt, however. With careful management, you can help your child live with the condition and happily, most children grow out of their eczema.
How can I get my child to comply with treatment regime?
Establishing routines can take time to begin with but in the long run they are always very helpful. Routines, structure and schedules are all really important for children of all ages. If they know their eczema treatment is followed by something they love like their favourite story book, you can say ‘the faster we get your treatment done, the faster we can read together!’
I’m really worried having eczema will affect my child psychologically – what can I do?
It is natural and normal to feel this way. Just like our children, we experience a whole range of emotions - joy, excitement, guilt, fear, sadness, stress, anger, happiness. They all play a part in our emotional wellbeing.
As a mum or a dad you want to try and make everything alright in your child’s world and if you see them struggling with something like eczema, it is bound to have an impact on you. The message we want to send to our children is that, just like them, we are working on managing our emotions. We don’t have all the answers – but we are going to keep trying.
Managing emotions is a life skill and will boost your child’s resilience and confidence throughout life, so having to deal with something like eczema is actually a good opportunity to help them.
It is really tough when you feel useless or guilty, but it means
you can be a powerful role model for your family.
The very best way to help your child with their emotions, is to work on handling your own stress with healthy habits.