Friday, 2 October 2015

Swimming for Babies - Why getting in the pool with your baby is good for you…

by Guest Blogger Water Babies.

The physical and emotional impact of a new arrival can be intense. Happily, help and support is there to help make sense of the flood of new feelings that go with having a baby. Every week in Water Babies we see how baby swimming helps new parents.

We could talk all day long about the benefits of baby swimming for the baby. But we want to take a moment to focus on the new parents, and how getting in the pool with their baby can help them too.

While swimming helps your baby develop physically and cognitively, it also helps ease your physical aches and pains, bond with your baby and adjust emotionally. This is wonderful for postnatal mothers, and also for fathers, adoptive parents and extended family members.

The Physical

Let’s start with the obvious benefits to your body. Water is supportive and gives resistance. That means that by moving through it for half an hour, you are getting much more of a work out than you would on a 30 min walk, while the strain on your body is much less.

Importantly, in the face of growing rates of obesity, you’re also establishing a weekly exercise routine for you and your baby – healthy habits than can last a lifetime.

The Emotional

Many new mothers feel some sort of post-natal low, from what’s called ‘baby blues’ to clinically recognised Postnatal Depression (PND).

We see new parents visibly relax in the warm water with their babies, and that’s when the magic begins. Bond-strengthening skin-to-skin, eye contact and engagement – it’s hard to describe how amazing it is to swim together.

“I started Water Babies lessons with Archie when he was six months old,” says Ali, who suffered from PND. “Right from the start he loved it. We soon began really enjoying the sessions together and it helped me to get to know him much better as we were both relaxed.”

Lots of men have swimming as ‘their’ thing that they do with their baby, and the magic bonding effect also works for them. Of course, that goes for adoptive parents, grandparents and other carers too! The way in which you interact closely with your baby in warm water is really quite unique and very special.

The Social

If you’re suffering from depression or anxiety, having a routine where you meet like-minded parents is one of the best things you can do. If that routine involves exercise, even better because it releases endorphins, our happy hormones.

Come On In!

Humans are 80% water, our babies spend 9 months growing in it, and for centuries, people have used it for healing. Just as it helps in labour, water soothes physical aches and pains and helps calm your breathing, reducing tension and anxiety. It also lets you gently exercise, which releases happy hormones, and bond beautifully with your baby.

We teach in warm, private pools across Bristol, Bath and Weston-Super-Mare. You can start your baby from birth. If you’re a new mum, you can get in the water as soon as you feel ready. We also have early evening and weekend classes which are popular with dads too.

Please call us on 01179466919 to find out more.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

How Massage can Help with your Baby's Digestion

Our Guest Blogger Anna runs 'The Gentle Touch' baby massage classes in Bristol. In our "Throwback Thursday" blog this week, we revisit her blog about the benefits of baby massage for digestive complaints.

One of the most common reasons that parents come to our baby massage classes is help with their baby’s digestive complaints. Massaging the stomach with certain, careful strokes helps to move the milk and any wind around the intricate intestines, easing the pain, improving constipation and any cramps.

Another ailment common to many babies is gastro-oesophageal reflux. Reflux occurs when the muscle that controls food entering the stomach is not yet fully matured and so the contents of the stomach – food (milk) and stomach acid - passes back up into the food pipe (oesophagus). Stomach acid burning the oesophagus causes the baby pain, and they are frequently sick. It’s also possible to have ‘silent reflux’ where the baby isn’t vomiting regularly, but they will be uncomfortable and cranky.  In addition to the frequent posseting and / or vomiting other signs of reflux can be arching away from you during feeding, refusing milk, crying and waking frequently at night.

During the first year the valve at the stomach opening will grow stronger, and many babies will eventually grow out of their reflux. However, in some cases it doesn’t go away, causing far worse complications.

How does baby massage help?
Gentle massage strokes help to calm your little one who may be distressed and in pain.  Massaging the whole body will help to improve muscle co-ordination and tone throughout which can improve reflux. Whilst we cannot massage the specific muscle responsible for the reflux, massaging your baby’s skin across the whole body stimulates the nervous system, including the Vagus nerve. This nerve controls many aspects of the digestive system.

Baby massage also allows you to reconnect with your baby, who may be irritable and not sleeping well, so it can be a tough time for parents as well. A short regular massage can help you regain some of those loving feelings together.

How to massage a baby with reflux
Babies with reflux find it difficult to be flat on their back so lie them down with a cushion under the top half of the back so they are at a 45 degree angle. Listen to your baby’s signs and if they are distressed move to another position such as sitting up on your lap, or lying on your outstretched legs.  Use gentle massage strokes with an edible cold-pressed, organic oil, we recommend sunflower oil.
Babies normally all enjoy their legs and feet being massaged so you could start here to introduce them to massage and work around the body. Any strokes to the stomach area should be left to right, and clockwise as this is the way the digestive tract works. Leave at least 45 minutes after feeding to massage the stomach.

Some parents find it helpful to carry your baby during the day which keeps them upright, and research has shown that carried babies cry less, and crying makes reflux worse. If you’re breastfeeding you could look at your own diet and cut out triggers such as dairy, caffeine, citrus and rich, spicy foods. These can be reintroduced one by one to see if this affects the reflux.

Your baby’s back muscles strengthen as they grow and they gradually learn to sit up, which improves the reflux with more time spent upright.  You can practice a short amount of tummy time each day to allow them time to develop their back muscles.

If you’d like to find out more about the benefits of baby massage and learn a full body massage for your baby then come to one of our four week courses. Classes at various venues in Fishponds and Southville. Also available for 1:1 sessions or home groups with friends / antenatal groups. To find out more get in touch with Emma and Anna at or

You may also be interested in reading Aromatherapy and Massage for Mother and Baby by Allison England R.N. - the definitive guide to using essential oils during pregnancy, birth, and early motherhood. 

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Our Brilliant BumGenius Nappy Offers This Week at Born

Buy a BumGenius Flip Nappy Cover with an insert, and we'll give you a free box of 18 biodegradable disposable inserts!

Our packages include a One-Size Flip Waterproof Nappy Cover to fit your little one from birth through to potty training as well as the soft inserts to go inside (choose from Microfibre, Organic Daytime or Organic Night Time).

Flip Nappy Cover with Organic Night Time Insert and FREE Disposable Inserts

Flip Nappy Cover with Organic Daytime Insert and FREE Disposable Inserts

Flip Nappy Cover with Microfibre Insert and FREE Disposable Inserts

In addition, we'll add a box of 18 Biodegradable Disposable Inserts completely free, ideal for childcare and nursery, when you're out and about, or on holiday. Simple and easy to use, the Disposable Inserts are made from non woven bamboo viscose with a wood pulp inner, and are dye free, fragrance free and Oeko-Tex certified.

And if you run out of inserts, we're offering a Buy One Get One Free deal on the boxes of 18 Disposable Inserts. Top up now, while we've still got stock!

Visit our Full Range of Cloth and Eco-Disposable Nappies & Accessories at

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Helping your Baby to Practice Natural Posture

Did you know that when they are young, sitting babies align themselves in gravity, with their spine straight right on through to their necks, so that the head is beautifully balanced and they are not under any strain? As they get older, badly designed buggies and furniture, misconceptions about posture, and even telling a child to "sit up straight" can all cause unnatural stress and back pain in later years.

In this Throwback Thursday, where we select a favourite or useful article from the Born blog archives and re-share, we've chosen a blog from 2013 written by Yoga teacher Clare Chapman, sharing the advice of natural posture guru Esther Gokhale of how to support your child in retaining their natural position through early years and beyond.

Clare's article on child development and posture is very much in tune with our approach here at Born and the reason we are so fussy about the Baby Carriers, Pushchairs and Footwear that we stock.

Good back health for parents and babies by Clare Chapman 

Every parent asks, “How can I best hold, carry and transport my baby and toddler?” After all, children just don’t come with a care manual! Yet, for thousands of years it was simple… everyone, including older siblings, adopted the traditions of the role models around them.

Today, of course, we raise our children in a very different context. We live in an industrialized, high-tech, consumer society. We have an unprecedented array of products such as slings, car seats and pushchairs to choose from, and can consider how each brand shapes up against various criteria – safety, budget, ease of use, style, multi-functionality, etc. But there is another, hugely significant yet little-known factor to guide our decision making, and its effect on our children will literally last a lifetime…

Since the industrial revolution families have become more geographically dispersed, with parents often raising smaller families many miles away from grandparents and other extended family. This has led to a break in all sorts of cultural transmission, including the handing down of tried and tested (body movement) traditions. Probably the most significant postural shift occurred in the 1920s as the new generation abandoned what came to be seen as the rather formal uprightness of the pre World War I era in favour of a more casual, slouched body language. For the first time it became widely fashionable to tuck the pelvis and tail under and droop the shoulders forward, a position reflected in furniture such as the Mies van der Rohe chair and the ‘flapper-girl’ fashions.

1920s ‘Flapper’ fashion encouraged tucking the pelvis.

Over successive generations this tucked posture has increasingly come to be viewed as normal. Open any fashion magazine or people-watch from the coffee shop, and in all probability, that’s what you’ll see. Such distorted posture is a cultural blind-spot that Esther Gokhale is determined to bring under scrutiny, having herself suffered agonizing back pain when pregnant with her first child. After unsuccessful surgery and medical advice not to have any more children, she dedicated herself to addressing the causes of so much back pain and structural problems in our culture. Now with three grown-up children, Esther is author of ‘8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back’ and has established the Gokhale Method(c) to share her research, understanding, and eminently practical approach with the public.

Gokhale found compelling evidence that our loss of traditional body wisdom has resulted in a much poorer level of musculo-skeletal health in contemporary industrialized societies than is found in our traditional counterparts. For example, traditional communities she researched extensively in parts of Africa, India, Brazil and Southern Europe report an astoundingly low (5% - 7%) incidence of back and joint pain despite long hours of manual or sedentary labour. In the UK the rate is over 80%, and back, hip, knee, neck, shoulder and foot problems are affecting people at an increasingly young age.

Unfortunately, we often unwittingly undermine the healthy instincts that our infants are born with because of our modern misconceptions about the human form. For example, because we now think it is normal to tuck the pelvis under, you see babies held with the parent’s forearm tucking baby’s bottom under – this prevents her from stacking her spine on her own. We don’t realize we are ‘wiring in’ poor habits for our children.

If you observe almost any one or two year-old, you will see natural, healthy posture in action. When seated on the floor for example, babies will automatically sit right on their sitting bones without slumping or slouching. Gokhale Method(c) teachers would describe this as having the pelvis positioned in “anteversion”, that is, not tucked under, but rather, slightly tipped forward, rested on the sitting bones. From this foundation babies and young children align themselves in gravity, with their spine straight right on through to their necks, so that the head is beautifully balanced. Because they do this naturally when ready to sit up unaided, there is no strain. The head does not have to be ‘held up’ and is free to turn effortlessly. So, as baby becomes able to sit on her own, let her sit on your forearm with her pelvis tipped forward in this way. Notice that she will naturally stack up without any difficulty.

The toddler stacks effortlessly upright with her bottom behind her. (c) Esther Gokhale

As for carrying infants for longer periods, in most parts of Africa, for example, young babies are wrapped onto their mother’s backs, held securely with fabric. Their bottoms are supported and their backs are stretched in a lengthened position. Larger infants will be carried with their legs out at to each side. Allowing their legs to externally rotate in this way helps prevent hip dysplasia and allows the immature hip sockets to ossify in a healthy way. What a contrast to some modern pushchairs, their concave bucket-style seats and saggy footrests encouraging the hips and legs to internally rotate, setting children up to have knock-knees and fallen arches.

Mother carrying infant, Burkina Faso, Africa

To help promote a long and healthy spine with proper pelvic positioning, ideally you would carry your baby on your body as much as possible. If you are looking for a modern body carrier for a baby/toddler, find one where the baby/toddler’s bottom has space to remain behind her, such as The Ergobaby, for example. To carry your baby on your front, you can use a sling, choosing one that holds baby as close to your body as possible. The closer the better, both for baby and for you. If the sling does curve the baby’s spine somewhat, are you balancing the time your baby spends in the sling with time spent getting some gentle stretch in his torso?

Parents in our culture often find that their own structure can’t sustain this degree of load comfortably, (that’s another blog!), and of course slings and carriers are not always practical in our inclement weather. Sooner or later, it is important to know what to look for in a pushchair or buggy.

Unfortunately, many buggies available today are molded in a ‘C’ shape, which will be the position recreated in the baby’s back. This curve will collapse a baby’s spine, tuck the pelvis under, and bend her neck forward. Slumping like this will squash and inhibit the functioning and development of baby’s lungs and digestive organs. In addition to forcing baby to sit poorly, consider also that she may be in these carriers for hour after hour, sometimes from the car, out, and back in to the car again. Such furniture can become the chief culprit in breeding familiarity with the poor sitting patterns that set kids up for slouching and poor bending habits.

Slumping will inhibit the functioning of baby’s lungs and digestive organs.

The more traditional pram is great in that it gives baby the chance to stretch out on his back or to be angled up towards sitting with a straight, not curved, spine. Try and avoid sole use of pushchairs where you just click in a curvy car seat. Almost all infant car seats are slightly curved, and for safety reasons, you may not be able to avoid them nor is it advisable to modify them. Try to minimize the time your baby spends in car seats, and of course, leave the seat in the car rather than restricting your little one to this compromised position.

As your babe grows and can sit upright, find a car seat with a 90-degree angled seat. Watch out for protective side panels that will push a child’s shoulders forward as they outgrow the seat. Also watch for deep, padded side panels to the seat that prevent children from resting with their knees naturally apart. Avoid soft, dish-shaped seats (like in umbrella strollers) that encourage the child’s legs to rotate internally. You want to give the child room to scoot her rear end back and then stack the spine long - just like she naturally sits. Sometimes you can help this along with strategically placed folded towels, for example.

As your toddler begins to walk, he will use an innate reflex that allows his feet to play an active part in this new skill. The grab reflex babies are born with remains in place for the first 20 months of life, and this ability to use his arches and foot muscles will give him the power and control to walk in balance. If shoes are put on babies’ and toddlers’ feet this foot coordination can become inhibited or lost altogether. Whenever possible, let your toddler walk barefoot. If the floor is cold, find flexible socks/slippers that have some sticky tread on the bottom. Whenever possible, let your baby work his feet in sand, soil and against contoured surfaces when crawling to build up his foot action for walking.

Don’t inhibit natural foot reflexes with shoes

Another thing to mention here is that the synchronization of arm and leg movement in crawling is also instrumental in proper gait development, so it is important not to by-pass this stage by putting babies in any type of ‘baby walker’. These contraptions may also encourage infants to feel the ground from a slumped, semi-seated position, which completely interferes with their natural ability to find their balance by aligning their body weight perfectly over the heel bone. (Note from Born - this is why we don't sell walkers or seats that sit a child upright when they are not ready).

Toddlers naturally align their weight over their heel bone.

If an infant is fortunate enough to be carried well and has good furniture, he is likely to do what comes naturally and no teaching will be necessary. He may even choose to stack well perched on the edge of a bad chair, rather than slouch. Children who have been less fortunate as babies will more often need help, but do avoid the clich├ęd calls to "sit up straight". Though well intentioned, this instruction can in fact lead to further problems because it can’t actually achieve a healthy postural response. If a child (or adult), is tucked in the pelvis (sitting on the tail bone and sacrum rather than having these behind them) they will be unable to sit upright in a relaxed way. They will need to arch their spines, introducing tension and compression in the lower back. Instead, use child-friendly and fun cues such as "have a ducky bottom, not a tucky bottom", or "imagine you have a fine tail. You want it be out behind you, you don't want to sit on it.”

Providing a posture-friendly environment as your child grows can help her to retain her natural posture into her toddler and school-age years. Notice her positions. When reading books or playing, let your child sit on the floor. If you catch her slumping and tucking her pelvis, gently re-position her body. Offer a cushion and encourage her to sit on the edge of it to help keep her pelvis anteverted (tipped forward). An infant who sits on her tail with her spine rounded is likely to replicate that shape in standing and bending. This dysfunctional pattern reduces the range of motion in the hip joint, overstretches the ligaments and muscles in the back, and compresses the chest, abdomen and back of the neck and spinal discs.

Sitting rounded trains the back to curve when bending too.

Bending with a straight spine is a much healthier option for the discs and ligaments.

Finally, a word about parent power – our children will benefit from well informed consumer choices, but, like our ancestors and the traditional peoples of today, they also acquire good habits by example. If we are constantly slouching on our sofas, sitting hunched over our laptops, or straining to ‘sit up straight’, the chances are they will soon do the same. By improving our own posture we not only reap the benefits of an active, pain-free life - we create the positive role model for our children that grants them their birthright. Let’s empower them to do the right thing in as many ways as we can.

Clare Chapman is a Yoga teacher in Bristol and teaches the Gokhale Method to groups and individuals, and offers free workshops to companies and organizations.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Remember, Remember, Organic September!

With apologies to Guy Fawkes for stealing his rhyme, did you know that across the UK, September is being celebrated as Organic month? Led by the Soil Association, the theme for Organic September this year is "Small Changes, Big Difference" - a concept that we, at Born wholeheartedly support.

Now, we could spout on about all of the fabulous organic products that we sell - things like the Pigeon Organics Baby Clothes & Blankets, the Boba Organic 4G Baby Carrier, the Little Green Sheep Organic Baby Bedding and the gorgeous Organic Toiletries from Weleda,  Earth Friendly Baby  and Natalia - but we won't (much). Because you know that we sell lots of lovely organic goodies for babies, toddlers and parents... the real question is do you know why we sell them?

Why is choosing organic important?

Lets tackle clothing first. Conventionally grown cotton is one of the worlds most sprayed crops. 25% of all insecticides and 10% of the pesticides sprayed are used on cotton plants. Half of the world's textiles are made from cotton so it is important to consider the impact all these chemicals are having on the planet, the farmers and the wearers.

Once picked, conventionally grown cotton goes through many chemically intensive processes which are hazardous to health. These chemicals are still present in the fibre which is why we feel it is important to have organic cotton next to your baby’s skin. We have found that babies and children who are prone to eczema, itchy skin conditions or sensitive skin do not have as many flare ups or reactions when they wear organic cotton, especially as underwear. It is also beneficial for them to have organic cotton bedding as they are in bed for up to 12 hours.

As well as the benefits to humans organically grown cotton is far better for the environment - pests are dealt with in harmony with nature - for example in Uganda, black ants keep cotton plant-eating caterpillars under control. In other countries mixtures of chillies are used. All these natural pest deterring methods ensure that ultimately our food chain and water supply is not contaminated and the foods we eat are safe.

Of course, buying organic sometimes means paying a little more, but you don't need to go out of your budget. We have found that organic and quality go hand in hand - one or two pieces of quality organic clothing will usually far outlast cheaper, conventionally-grown cotton clothes, and organic cotton seems to get softer after each wash, so the "snuggle factor" wins every time!!

With toiletries, especially baby toiletries, we could talk for hours about the impact that chemicals have on the skin, and on the environment. Suffice to say, at Born, our rule is “If you wouldn’t let your baby eat it, don’t put it on their skin!”, because up to 60% of creams, soaps, oils, and powders are absorbed into your baby’s skin and enter their bloodstream, just like the milk they drink or food they eat.

Again, you may pay a little extra, but with organic toiletries, "less is more" - you only need a tiny bit in order for it to do its job, so it'll last a whole lot longer!  All of our toiletries, for both mother and baby, are made from 100% natural, organic ingredients.

If you haven't thought about using organic products yet, you don't have to completely "convert" overnight. Give one or two a try, see how you get on, then branch out from there. 

"Small Changes, Big Difference" - for you and for the planet!

Friday, 11 September 2015

How to take Beautiful Baby Pictures

Welcome to Born's Throwback Thursday, where we select a favourite or useful article from the Born blog archives and re-share! This week, we've chosen a blog from 2011 with tips from famous babyME photographer Melanie East on how to take fantastic pictures of your baby.

When your newborn arrives it's not only a wonderful and unique time it's also a period when many of us have an almost overpowering desire to want to capture and record every single moment. The first yawn, the first stretch, the first holding of your finger...

So it's only natural, given the uniqueness of the experience to try and make sure any photographs you do take of your baby or toddler are wonderful photographs that do your baby justice.

At Born we take the odd shot but none of us are budding David Baileys, so we've asked Melanie from the fabulous babyMe Photography to offer us all some easy tips on how to take awesome baby photographs.

Melanie East is a highly acclaimed specialist maternity and newborn photographer, and founded the highly successful babyME Photography® based in Bristol. Melanie's images combine the beauty of new life with absolutely stunning photography.

Here, Melanie gives you some tips on how you can take great photographs of your baby during that first year.

1. Get right down to your babies level - this will illustrate baby's perspective and means that he won't be constantly looking up at you.

2. Taking close ups of your baby's hands and feet will capture the detail, and there's nothing cuter than baby toes!

3. When choosing where to photograph your baby, choose somewhere without background clutter, you want the focus of the photograph to be on your baby, not on the television in the background...

4. Light will make or break a photograph - turn the flash off on your camera, and photograph your baby during the day time - place him or her by a window and use natural light. If you are photographing him outside, then if its a sunny day, maybe choose a spot under a shady tree to avoid your baby squinting.

5. Pop out from behind the camera to talk or sing to your baby - if your baby can see you that will elicit expression and those cute baby smiles

6. Photograph during your baby's "happy time", which you will probably find is when she has a full tummy and has had a nap.

7. Think about photographing your baby at more unusual times, such as when he is asleep, as these sorts of shots can be very peaceful and serene. You want to capture all of your baby's life, not just when she's awake and smiling.

8. Don't forget to take documentary photos of all your baby's favourite niknaks - their favourite teddy, the nursery, and that rocking chair that your Dad lovingly restored. All the memories of a baby's life, not just the images where your baby is the centre of the shot.

9. It may be considered naff by some, but you can't beat embarrassing her at her 18th birthday by bring out the picture of her in a Santa hat!

10. Lastly, but clearly not least, make sure you visit a professional baby photographer at least once in your baby's first year. These are the days that you'll never get back and however hard you follow these tips, you're not going to achieve what years of training and skill will capture. babyME Photography® offer "the babyME plan" - which is a beautiful and unrepeatable memory.

To see Melanie's website, visit - it's well worth it! And why not become a fan of her facebook page

Monday, 7 September 2015

Free Sling Mirror with every Baby Carrier, Sling or Wrap at Born!

When you're carrying your baby in a sling or carrier, it's sometimes hard to check on their wellbeing without disturbing them, especially if they are being carried on your back. Are they still asleep? Are they happy, or beginning to get upset?

Our brilliant sling mirrors clip easily onto any carrier, sling or wrap, so that anytime you need to check your little one, just lift up the mirror and see their reflection. Once you've used one, you'll wonder how you managed without it!

We're offering a Born Sling Mirror FREE with every purchase of a carrier, sling, or wrap, so you can keep an eye on your baby or toddler whenever you need to!