May 14th, 2013
I read in The Times newspaper this week that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has recommended that midwives give women a carbon monoxide test in early pregnancy, to establish whether they are smoking or not. Apparently not all Mums-to-be tell the truth about giving up smoking in pregnancy! The test will be a breath test, and women found to have high carbon monoxide readings will be referred to “smoking cessation services”.
Some members of The Royal College of Midwives, however, are not keen on the idea, and The Times reported that a source said they feel such a test could damage relations between women and their midwives. Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the RCM, said the test could help show women the potential damage to unborn babies, but said the final decision must lie with the woman.
What do you think? A sensible measure to try to reduce the 21% of women who smoke during pregnancy (risking low birth weight and associated health problems) or Nanny State gorn mad?
May 1st, 2013
The Daily Mail newspaper is running ‘Bump Watch’, ‘Now’ magazine has a Royal Bumpwatch and even Harper’s Bazaar is running a weekly Royal Babywatch - is this the shape of things to come?! With fewer than three months to the mid-July arrival of the royal baby, the august institution that is the British Press have turned their collective attention to the size of Kate’s bump. Expect more and more inches to be devoted to the Duchess of Cambridge’s tummy size over the coming weeks! I’m sure the experts will expand on the subject of the bump with speculation about whether Catherine is carrying to the front or all around, and if this means we can expect a baby boy or girl to arrive in the summer.
Being pregnant can be a tricky time, because obviously having a growing baby within is a personal event, but your visible bump can make it a public event- people you barely know want to touch your tummy, and they come out with the most bizarre and sometimes deeply unhelpful comments (in my case, at a Christmas ‘do’ a week and a half before my due date (and just 7 days before Chiglet was actually born) ”good grief, haven’t you had that baby yet?” Er, no- or else I wouldn’t be standing amidst a partying group of glamorious Air Hostesses looking like a whale!).
So I can only image what it must be like to live out a pregnancy in front of the full glare of the world’s media. Hang in there Kate!
April 15th, 2013
Today marks the start of Real Nappy Week in the UK, which this year runs from the 15th to the 21st of April. Real Nappy Week is an annual event aiming to promote the use of real (ie not disposable) nappies. There are lots of promotional events, nappuccinos*, demonstrations and competitions run by real nappy manufacturers and retailers.
Benefits of real nappies are both financial and environmental- over the course of babyhood, it’s cheaper to use reusable nappies than disposable. Goreal.org (the real nappy information service) calculates that a starter kit with all the nappies a baby will need can cost as little as £80, and adding £1 per week for washing costs means there’s still a saving of £500 compared to branded disposable nappies.
Environmentally, there are apparently c 3million disposable nappies thrown away every year in the UK, and 90% of those will go to landfill. A baby will use around 4,000 disposable nappies between birth and potty training, so parents can make a big reduction in the amount of nappy waste going into landfill by using cloth nappies.
* (in case you were wondering, a Nappuccino is an event where Mums and Mums-to-be can pop along for a coffee and a chat about real nappies- find out all about them, ask questions, and there’s often a cloth nappy demonstration!).
There is even a real nappy week ‘clothopoly’ game with lots of prizes- you can collect letters from various websites, unjumble the anagram to find a phrase for the main prize (worth £500), and there are lots of other prizes to enter for along the way (the total prize fund is £9,000!)
Cloth nappies can even be included in nappy cakes, one of Chiggs stockists, Hello Baby Gifts was recently asked to make a ‘nappy-less’ real nappy cake which was really well received by the parents- Nikki who runs Hello Baby Gifts says she loves coming up with new ideas when these challenges come her way!
April 11th, 2013
I heard a report on BBC Radio 2 lunchtime programme yesterday about the shortages of baby milk formula hitting British supermarkets. Due to an increase in demand in China for foreign made powdered baby milk, some UK shops (Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Morrisons) have said the purchase of certain brands would be limited to two units per customer per day.
Danone, who make Aptamil and Cow & Gate baby milk powder, apparently asked for the restrictions, and said most supermarkets were introducing a restriction of two cans per customer in order to prevent some individuals from bulk-buying baby milk for “unofficial exports”. Retailers have put the same limits on sales of SMA milk, despite the makers Nestle saying there were no stock shortages.
So what is going on? Foreign-made baby formula is popular in China- worried about potentially dangerous levels of hormones and chemicals sometimes found in Chinese baby formula, go to great lengths (and are willing to pay a premium price) to buy foreign brands. Their fears are not without foundation- in 2008 a locally-manufactured formula containing the industrial chemical melamine killed six infants and caused illness in another c.300,000.
Due to the higher prices Chinese parents are willing to pay, there are big profits to be made selling foreign formula, and it seems people have been buying in bulk to (unofficially) export to China, or send over to relatives. Since the introduction of restrictions in UK supermarkets, there has also been an increase in sales as Mums have been stocking up on their favourite brand- which in turn has led to shortages on the shelves. On a local Harrogate Mums Facebook page, ladies are reporting near empty shelves in the local Morrisons and Asda.
It seems some entrepreneurs are hoping to make a quick buck without the hassle of international shipping, and cans of baby milk are selling on eBay for twice the shop price.
Time for a “Keep Calm and Don’t Panic Buy” government poster?!
April 5th, 2013
The Chiggs office is on the road for a few days, as me and Chiglet are visiting relatives in Lincolnshire for a few days, leaving Andrew in sole control of Head Office. What could go wrong, eh? Anyway, whilst watching the regional Look North news programme last night, I saw a piece about a one-to-one parenting mentor scheme that has been running in Hull.
In a similar vein to the CANparent scheme in Middlesbrough and ‘lets stick together’ in Bristol previously mentioned on this blog, the difference with this support programme is that it is aimed at young teenage mums.
Family Nurse Partnership specialist nurses support young mums aged 19 years and under who are expecting their first baby. The teenage mums have a one/one and a half hour meeting per week with a parenting mentor, who can offer all sorts of advice; not just about child development, but also diet and even housing issues. By building a long term relationship with the young mums, nurses can help them deal with any changes and challenges they may face during the first 2 years of motherhood. The scheme has been so successful in Hull that it is due to be extended to help 5,000 more families throughout the country.
More information on the Family Nurse Partnership scheme, which has also been running in Kirklees, can be found on the website http://www.locala.org.uk/your-healthcare/family-nurse-partnership/
ooh, it's Look North on the TV
March 30th, 2013
I’ve taken Chiggs Wheels on the road this week- a large local Harrogate business runs occasional ‘markets’ so their staff can browse and buy in their lunch hour. There are all sorts of local businesses in attendance- jewellery, greeting cards, the local Molton Brown shop has a stand and this time a lady was selling Easter bunny jumpers, too!
I’ve attended a couple of times before- we weren’t outside this time thankfully (it was snowing!)- and it’s always an enjoyable event. I like getting out and about, chatting to people and getting feedback about our products. One of the first ladies to visit the market came over to say that she’d bought a Baby Feed Wheel for her nephew at a previous market, and he said that it was the most useful thing they were bought- made my day!
Another lady was interested in the Baby Feed Wheel and made the comment that “surely baby tells you when they are hungry” Ah, well, that’s the point, I explained- they don’t! Babies cry because they are hungry, tired, cold, hot, need a nappy change- or are just that way out! The first thing most Mums and Dads do to narrow down the options is recall when the last feed was. If it was 40 minutes ago, try something else like a nappy change- if it was 3 hours ago, baby is most likely hungry. And that’s what the Baby Feed Wheel is for!
March 26th, 2013
I enjoyed a very interesting visit to the Harrogate Nursery Fair yesterday. It seems to get bigger every year with more and more exhibitors filling every single hall of the Conference Centre (which is quite the rabbit warren- good job there are lots of very helpful HIC employees to help you find your way- I needed help more than once!) I was also given a lanyard and badge with my name and company details on that is scanned on entry. This always makes me feel very important, and in keeping with the Harrogate trade conference tradition, I wore it all day, around town and everywhere
I stopped by Ruby and Ginger, a fellow Yorkshire company based in Leeds who had a really pretty stand. Although I’ve been tweeting with them for a while now, it was great to actually meet and see their lovely products ‘in the flesh’! Their cosy car seat cover for baby car seats was very popular with retail buyers, no doubt realising that babies will need some extra help to stay snuggly warm in this extended winter weather!
As usual, the trade fair was a mix of vast sprawling stands from the household names (with what must be mahoosive exhibition budgets!) and the ’bijou’ stands of the smaller companies with smaller product ranges, and some new to the market. It’s always an interesting experience, the ‘baby’ industry is a great one to be part of- Chiggs is very lucky!
Today is the last day of the fair, with an earlier closing time of 4pm.
March 23rd, 2013
Tomorrow is the opening day of the biggest trade fair in the Nursery Industry’s calendar, The Harrogate Nursery Fair at the International Conference Centre, Harrogate. Chiggs is fortunate to be based in the beautiful spa town of Harrogate, with Chiggs HQ being a mere mile up the road from the conference Centre- how convenient!
Although spring has officially sprung, someone forgot to tell Mother Nature, and we seem to be in the grip of a new ice age in North Yorkshire at the moment! It snowed pretty much all day yesterday, and as I type this on Saturday morning the snow is still coming down accompanied by strong gusts of wind…brrrr!
The picture here is of our road- so you can see the volume of snow that has fallen on Harrogate in the last few hours! The local roads in the area are very difficult, but the main roads in town are mostly clear. Here is a link to our local radio station, Stray Fm’s traffic and travel updates http://www.strayfm.com/trafficandtravel.php
For those visitors flying in to the trade fair via Leeds Bradford Airport, however, the airport has been snow closed for periods over the last 36 hours with some delays, and it’s recommended that you check with your airline to get the latest updates- here is a link to the arrivals and departures updates on the Leeds Bradford Airport website. http://www.leedsbradfordairport.co.uk/arrivals-and-departures
If you are visiting or exhibiting, I hope you have a very successful show- Chiggs doesn’t have an exhibition stand this year, but if you would like any trade information and a wholesale price for Chiggs Wheels, we have a trade enquiry form on the Chiggs website, or you can email us email@example.com and we will be delighted to send details of our unique, patented new baby gifts and greeting cards!
Nursery Fair Dates and opening times
Sunday 24th March 2013: 9:30am – 6:00pm;
Monday 25th March 2013: 9:30am – 6:00pm;
Tuesday 26th March 2013 : 9:30am – 4:00pm
March 20th, 2013
A report is due to be published tomorrow recommending that new mothers should be interviewed to see about how they are coping with parenthood in order to help them bond better with their babies.
Government ministers have backed the proposals, under which health visitors will offer all mothers-to-be two interviews, one during pregnancy and a second when their babies are three to four months old. Mothers are free to opt out.
The first interview will try to establish if there are any difficult circumstances at home; relationship problems, heavy drinking, or if the mother appears ambivalent about the new baby.
A postnatal interview will also be offered, looking at quality of interaction between the mother and baby. The report’s authors say that for many mums, this will be a confidence-building exercise to reinforce a strong bond, but that any parent who is clearly struggling would be referred to a specialist service.
A third follow-up interview could be held with parents considered to be having difficulty interacting with their baby would take place when baby is 12 to 15 months old.
The report, due out tomorrow is called Conception to Age 2 — The Age of Opportunity, and has been written by two experts on early development. It has the support of the Department for Education and Department of Health, and its findings have been endorsed by Elizabeth Truss, the Children’s Minister.
My questions- but will it actually work in practice? Many parents I know rarely receive the letter inviting them to their baby’s 12 month check-up before the baby is approaching 18 months old.
What will happen to the information given? Would a parent-to-be disclose information about, eg, a family member drinking heavily if that information would be kept on record?
And appropriately enough on Budget Day- where will the funding come from?
February 4th, 2013
The Sunday Times business pages yesterday had an interesting article in their ‘small business’ section concerning companies bringing some or all of their manufacturing back to the UK. An increase in wages and raw materials in China has led to a spiralling of costs, narrowing the gap in production costs between the Far East and Britain. Companies like Trunki (who make the little ride-on children’s suitcases you may have seen on Dragons’ Den) are moving production to the UK, and discovering benefits other than financial- much shorter lead times, no language problems, easier to keep on top of quality control, and of course job creation.
I’ve mentioned before on this blog, because it’s something I am very proud of, Chiggs Wheels are all printed and handfinished in the UK. Our printers are a terrific family business based in Lancashire. The envelope each Chiggs Wheel is supplied with, and the cellophane wrappers they are sealed in, are made by a fellow Yorkshire business in Shipley (which, coincidently, is where my husband was born!). Even the sticky pads the embellishments are attached with are from a very nice company in Bradford.
If you’re a retailer who would like to join the British revolution, Chiggs Wheels are all available to trade at wholesale prices, or we can send you a trade price and terms by email if you fill in the trade enquiry form. Chiggs Wheels are also available from the Chiggs Shop.