The Travel Series 0 - 6 Months

Friday, 23 June 2017


As the warmer days are inching their way closer (hurray!) and our minds start to wander towards the summer months, it can only spell one thing . . . holidays!

While holidays are meant to be a time to switch off and relax with a Pina Colada, if you have little ones, the thought of travelling abroad might fill you with worry, dread and anxiety. If can feel like there is so much outside our control and comfort zones that it’s easier to contemplate a stay-cation.

But fear not! We have written a guide based on our experiences of travelling abroad with our boys.

This 3-part travel guide (0-6mths, 6-12mths, 12mths – 2yrs) will break down our hints and tips based on age groups so we hope you find it valuable.

By tackling some of the main concerns parents have about travelling, we hope we can help elevate some of your worries and give you the tools, hints and tips to get your family tribe overseas and to start making some precious memories.

Time for take off!

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Travel 0-6 Months

Before we dive in, the first thing you need to consider is where you are going to be travelling to and if you need a passport for your baby.

Tip #1 – Passports
All babies are required to hold a valid passport to travel abroad. Be mindful of booking trips in advance and give yourself plenty of time to complete paperwork and send to the Passport Office. The months leading up to July and August are usually the busiest so Stress Buster #1 is to give yourself time and account for any potential delays. If you’re a travel vixen, maybe apply for a passport shortly after birth.

Also, note
If both parents are not from the country you reside in, your baby may not be entitled to a passport for the country they were born in. This was the case for us. Luca was born in the UK, but as I hold an Irish passport and Freddie holds an Italian passport, Luca could not claim British Nationality. We applied for Luca to have an Irish passport based on my ancestry via the Irish Embassy in London. Changes to UK Immigration laws in 2012 mean there are certain criteria you must meet to claim nationality.

Tip #2 - Passport photos for babies
You don’t need to take you baby to a professional photographer to have their photos taken!
Lay them out on a white blanket or sheet and take their photo from above. Stand on a chair if it helps. Get their attention by dangling a toy or have your partner make funny faces/noises. Try and take the photo with a clear photo of their face without shadows if possible. We used Photobox to have our photos printed and cut to size.

Preparing to Travel with Babies!


I first flew with Luca when he was around 8 weeks old. I was visiting my family back home in Dublin and introducing our little guy to extended family and friends. As it is one of the shortest flights I’ve ever taken (approx. 40mins from Birmingham to Dublin) I wasn’t dreading it too much. I had my brother flying with me for support for the first leg of the trip, and Freddie was with me for the return journey. However, as travel is a huge part of our lives, I wanted to have the confidence to fly with Luca whenever I needed to, especially solo. 

Naturally the first time you travel with a baby you are trying to second guess everything from what to pack, to checking in, security, and boarding and that’s even before you’ve left the country! Here’s the ultimate guide to travelling with a baby under 6 months.

Tip #3 - Packing
Babies are great to fly with! Their clothes are so small they hardly take up space in a suitcase! First time I travelled I checked a bag as my Mam had pre-warned me that I would be returning with a lot of gifts! But future trips I have travelled with a carry-on piece of luggage unless it was a long holiday. I find using luggage organisers super useful and I manage to squeeze in everything we need.

Tip #3 – Items you can fly with  
Between the ages of 0-2years infants sit on your lap during the flight. Despite this, you are charged approx. £20 for each leg of your journey or a percentage on the adult fare. The irony of this is that Luca’s ticket often cost more than my fare!

But it's not all bad news – most airlines include up to 3 pieces of baby equipment (e.g. stroller, car seat, travel cot) But note travel systems are considered as 2 pieces of equipment.

I travelled with my travel system the first couple of times but then switched to a stroller as I didn’t want my pram to get damaged. Most handlers treat them well but inevitably it will get bashed about. If your baby is under 6 months make sure the stroller is suitable for newborns. I recommend the Silver Cross POP – the extendable hood is great for nap times and protection from the sun!

Another thing to consider for getting around is a sling. Slings are fantastic for freeing your hands up and they help sooth babies. When you land, most airlines try to have your stroller at the bottom on the aircraft steps or just inside the terminal, but sometimes this isn’t possible and you have to go to Oversized Luggage to collect. In the meantime, you don’t want to have to carry your baby and bags through the terminal, especially if you’re flying solo! I loved the Caboo Carrier from 0-6 months.

Tip #4 – Nappies, Milk, Food
My general rule of thumb when travelling with a baby is to pack extras! Delays are a common part of travelling and the last thing you want to go is get caught out at the airport or on the plane!

Some pointers –

  • Consider how long you will be at the airport for (generally 2 hrs but it could be longer
  • How long your flight will be (how many feeds/changes will your baby generally have during this time?)
  • What will the local time will be when you land? (will there be shops open if you need them for supplies?)


When I travel home to Dublin I don’t take much supplies with me, only what I need for the flight. I can buy my usual items when I arrive in Tesco, Aldi or Boots. But if you’re travelling to Spain, France, Italy etc.… you might not be able to buy identical items, but you can buy alternatives. Aldi/Lidl do exist in Europe but they might not be in general tourist areas and will possibly require a car to get to. There are local supermarkets in most resorts and towns.

Formula:
If you’re formula feeding I recommend sticking with your own brand and take it with you. Changes in formula can lead to an upset tummy (the last thing you need when on holiday) You’ll know how many tins you get through in a week so take what you need accordingly. You can take tins of formula powder in your hand luggage through security or put it in your checked baggage. If you do need to buy formula abroad (especially in Europe) you might have to go to a chemist/pharmacy to buy it rather than in a supermarket.

Super tip!
If you do have to feed at the airport or on the plane, you might like to have your formula pre-measured for ease. Try this travel formula dispenser which holds up to 3 feeds of 8oz. Just add warm water from a coffee shop or take some in a bottle warmer.

Breastfeeding:
It’s free! No prep necessary!

Nappies:
Nappies are a little easier to come by and I’ve found Huggies, as well as other known brands easily enough. So, if you want to save on space take what you need for a few days and then buy top ups when you arrive.

Weaning:
If your little one is coming up the 6-month mark, they may have started to wean. You’re probably thinking how you can you blend and puree your way through a holiday!?

We’ve taken Ella’s Kitchen food pouches with us and some baby rice. We’ve also used the Nuby Nibbler and let Luca try fruits and veg. He loved it! Alternatively, if you are self-catering you can take a hand blender and cook/blend. Just ensure all food is washed beforehand with bottled water.

Airport Guide for Babies


 Tip #5 – Airport Security

I think this is one part that fills people with dread! Trying to get all your stuff into trays, while practically undressing and holding a baby! GAH!

The trick here is to give yourself plenty of time! Gone are the days when you can arrive 40 minutes before your flight and make a dash to the gate! Travelling with babies takes time. I enjoyed the experience so much more when I’m not rushing. Get there early and the stress levels won’t rocket too much when they decide to pull your bags apart!

If you do arrive and security is at a gridlock, splurge and buy an express lane ticket (trust me, it will be worth it) Unfortunately, travelling with children doesn’t give you VIP Jump the Queue privileges.

Super Tip:
Make life easier and have the items to need to remove from your baggage easy to access. As well as your normal liquids, you’ll also have to put any baby liquids into a separate tray. These include any pre-made formula, powder formula, yoghurts, water/juices, food pouches, jars of food etc…

I’ve never been refused any baby items when flying including pre-made bottles and airport staff have always been helpful and understanding, even offering to hold Luca while I got my stuff organised! They might randomly ask to do a check on one or more of your items. This involves them putting the item into a sealed container and placing it inside a testing machine. It doesn’t interfere with the food or drink in any way.


Tip #8 – Change before you fly

I always change Luca’s nappy before I fly. The facilities in the airport are bigger & usually cleaner than the toilet on the plane. Also, if it’s a short flight you might find it easier to stay seated unless necessary to change mid-flight.

As babies are prone to pooing ‘accidents’ take a spare set of clothes in your nappy bag for emergencies. As well as muslins for any spit ups. (Julia can verify this!)

Tip #7 – Take Off & Landing

We’ve been quite blessed that Luca has never suffered with his ears or popping when travelling. But when you do hear the blood curdling screams of a baby on a plane it’s probably due to their ears. For young babies the best way to avoid this is to have them suckle during take off and landing; do this by either breastfeeding, bottle feeding or providing a dummy.

Tip #8 – Travel Essentials

There have been a few products we’ve purchased since having Luca that have made travelling super easy and enjoyable.

Travel Cot – most places can provide a cot but check in advance. We were gifted the Chicco Travel Cot. It also doubles as a play pen and means safer play if windows/balcony doors are open.

Snooze Shade – a traveller’s dream with a sleeping baby! We use this quite a bit and it means we can stay on the move during the day. It attaches to most prams and strollers providing a nice darkened space to nap.

Car Seat Travel Bag – if you are hiring a car abroad make sure they provide quality car seats that are installed correctly. As it’s free to take a car seat we have always opted to do so (plus it’s cheaper than hiring) We bought the Venture Car Seat Bag and it’s been fantastic, highly recommended!

Ladybird Mosquito Repellant – this cute little device clips to the pram/stroller and it sends out little frequencies to warn off pesky mosquitos.

Silver Cross POP – as mentioned above, we loved the POP. It’s lightweight, suitable from newborn and the extended hood keep babies nice and protected from the sun.

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Phew! Congrats if you made it to the end of this post, but we hope you've found it useful! If you ahve any other tips for new mums pop them in the comments below, and be sure to check back soon for our 6 -12 months  and 1 - 2 years travel posts coming very soon!

Love Jenn


BELLA MAMMA TEES

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Hello Friends! Today is a special day : we have been working day and night, used every single nap time and every possible minute our little ones gave us free and we are finally ready to share some awesome Bella Mamma news with you!!

Here's something created by Mothers for Mothers, to make you smile, to make you feel comfortable, to make you feel confident, to make you feel proud, to make you feel the awesome Mother you are!


And on top of that, you will help other Mothers and their babies too! With every purchase part of the profit will be donated! This month we'll support supporting Warwick Hospital's Neo Natal Unit! Find out more here !

Perfectly hand finished cotton garments, ethically made & excellent service which includes free returns and exchanges (stc).
Get to https://bellamamma.teemill.co.uk now for more info and embrace the fun motherhood mood with us! And help other Mothers too!


From Mothers to Mothers 
Thank you! 

Our Weekend Post - Happy Father's Day!


WOW! What a scorcher of a weekend and it's set to be a week of sunshine for the next week at least! It was a special weekend around these parts, as we celebrated Father's Day.

A little back story to the men of Bella Mamma, because without them we would never have met and they've been so supportive in our blog (and agreeing to be photographed relentlessly!) 

Freddie & Federico are from Tuscany, Italy and met during their childhood years at school. After school Freddie went to University in Ireland and Federico pursued his studies at Birmingham University. After a few years Freddie moved to the UK to continue his career in Engineering and Federico was doing his Ph.D in Birmingham. Somehow they managed to find themselves living within one hour from each other again! 

Forward on a few years later myself and Julia arrived on the scene and that's how we got to know each other! Since having our boys we definitely see each other a lot more and it's really nice to see Luca and Diego develop a friendship just like their Dads. 

Unfortunately, we didn't spend the weekend together but we were definitely on the same wavelength with our plans! It was sunshine and BBQ's galore! 

Here's what we got up to . . .

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JENN 

We're still in DIY/Renovation mode so this weekend was a mix of enjoying the sun and trying to do some work in the blistering heat! 



It wasn't an easy feat but we (I mean Freddie) managed to get quite a bit done! 

We invested in a paddling pool and a new sand for Luca's water & sand table and it pretty much sorted us out for the weekend! Luca spent most of the time just happily running around in his nappy and wasn't too pleased having to wear clothes when we did venture out! 


On the eve of Father's Day we set up the garden for a romantic date night and we were pretty please with how the garden is starting to look! 


Again on Sunday, it was family hang out day with ice-creams and more 'fires' as Luca likes to call them! Freddie definitely enjoyed Father's Day and all his surprises (which Luca told him about! haha) 

But in sense of seriousness, I do want to thank Freddie for being a terrific dad to Luca! He adores spending time with you either pretend driving in your car or cheeky coffee dates for babycinos. He knows your the FUN parent and absolutely loves you for it. 

Thank you for everything you do. I couldn't have picked a better dad for Luca. We love you!



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JULIA


Thanks to the amazing real summery weather with 28 degrees and no clouds, we spent the whole weekend outdoor and it was just awesome! 

We spent time with some very good friends that we haven't seen since they moved back to Italy last year, they came to visit and Diego loved being around and playing with Eli who is his very first friend! It was amazing to look at them interacting and kind of talking with each others! 


Wearing shorts and t shirts, playing with the water outside, feeling the sun burning on our skins - yep, I had to use super high sun protection for Diego otherwise he would have become red like a pepper, no doubt! -  eating in the garden, having all the clothes dried in just few hours in the sun, seeing our friends.. this list makes up the perfect recipe with all the ingredients for a happy and relaxed weekend and yes, we really had a great time!

And to end the week end in style and prove once again that he he is a fantastic Husband and Father, Fede made his delicious homemade pizza that we enjoyed in the garden!  



The Happiness Diaries #4

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Welcome back to our Happiness Diaries!

We want to thank you for reading this post and we truly hope that you will do this little exercise too! Trust us: our lives are nowhere near perfect!! We do have worries and struggles, we do have bad days and sad feelings, we are human beings and Mothers so we are not meant to be at our 100% best 24/7 ...at all !! However we don't want to forget that no matter how many thick clouds are in the sky the sun is always there, it doesn't stop burning! And if it rains we want to see the rainbow that sure is going to come!! That's why we keep noticing and writing what makes us happy instead of moaning about what could go wrong or could go better, and this shift in our focus really makes a difference in our days!! We are sure you can do the same!!

Here's what has made Julia happy lately

Taking the dust off our tandem and participate to Le's Ride Birmingham, an awesome event for all cyclists! Two of the main road of the city were closed and there were lots of participants of all ages!! So much fun!! We even got new bibs personalised with our names on!!





Spending an afternoon in the sun and enjoying the activities organised for kids at the University of Birmingham


My basil plant thriving and so alive and smelling good ! I am normally terrible with plants but I am managing to take good care of this one this time!!



Having a girls night out with a delicious French dinner sitting outside in the sun and then watching a musical that I absolutely loved!!! And yes, having Fede that is such a caring husband and father and gives me space for myself and always supports me.






Recipe of the Week 3 Minute Yummy & Healthy Crepes

Thursday, 8 June 2017

We know it sounds impossible to have something delicious, healthy and that takes 3 minute to make, but hey we are here to surprise you today!!

It takes no time to measure the ingredients because you actually don't really measure them, you just need to fill up a mug! And it's healthy because the ingredients are super simple - instead of buying a ready mixture where you don't really know what's inside, you make an healthy version in about the same time!


So what are we waiting for? Enjoy this one!!

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Ingredients:
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Mug of Flour
  • 1 Mug of Milk
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon of Sugar


How to make:
  • Put everything in a blender until all ingredients are mixed - only takes few seconds!
  • Put some mixture in a non stick pan to cover the bottom and leave until margins change colour slightly, turn and leave for another minute

Enjoy with fruit like banana, blueberries, strawberries, and why not put some Nutella on it - otherwise it would just be too healthy!!!



This is the perfect treat for a Sunday breakfast for all the family! 
Let us know if you love it too!




A Breastfeeding Story

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

One of the many things you decide about in pregnancy is how you’re going to feed your baby. From the moment you get the thumbs up from the midwife that you’re pregnant, you are given dozens of information leaflets and packs on the benefits of breastfeeding – for both mother and baby. Nowadays, formula feeding isn’t really spoken about apart from the 20 seconds they give it in antenatal classes.
You don’t have to be a genius to agree that ‘breast is best’,
but here’s the thing. . .
What if you can’t?



What if all your hopes of being a breastfeeding mother are dashed because you can’t produce enough, your nipples are inverted, or your baby is tongue tied?
When I found out I was pregnant I set my heart on being a breastfeeding mother. I wanted nothing more than to have the bond with my baby and to give him the very best nutrition that I could offer.
I had an amazing pregnancy and my hypno birth went so well, the possibility that I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed never crossed my mind. I hadn’t bought any bottles, a steriliser or researched formula. It just wasn’t on the agenda.
The moment Luca was born he was placed on my chest for skin to skin and we tried feeding almost immediately. Everything seemed fine at first. The on-call midwife stayed a while once I made my way back to the ward; she showed me positions to feed in, how to encourage him to feed and what a good latch looked like. I was pretty proud of myself!
It wasn’t until we went home the following day that I began to suspect that there was a problem. The pain started and Luca began to cluster feed for up to 7 hours. Everything that I read told me that this was normal so I stayed with it. Lashing on Lasinoh Nipple Cream in between feeds, trying to sleep and eat well and stay hydrated.
It was when we went to register Luca’s birth and I was reading a baby magazine that I noticed an article on tongue tie and turning to Freddie said ‘I think Luca’s tongue looks like this’.
I mentioned it at my next Midwife appointment and she confirmed Luca had a tongue tie but is wasn’t a ‘bad one’.
We were nearly 2 weeks into our breastfeeding journey and it was feeling more painful and exhausting than I ever thought possible.
I had 4 episodes of painful mastitis and I remember sobbing with pain in the shower. This just wasn’t how my journey was meant to be.
I just didn’t seem to be able to satisfy Luca’s feeding demands. I tried pumping and got very little. . . so the question crossed my mind, was my baby starving? I felt utterly awful. Aside for the physical demands, I found the emotional side so much harder.
I was so sore, exhausted, run down and beginning to feel like a failure. I reached out to the Midwife and Health Visitor again. Neither seemed to think Luca’s tongue had anything to do with it since he latched so perfectly; so maybe it was me, maybe I wasn’t producing enough milk. But I felt that giving him formula was the worst thing I could possibly do.
Another few days in and the cluster feeding had eased and things seemed a little better, if not a little less painful. Maybe we were making progress?
But then one evening as I lay Luca into his crib I slumped to the floor, a cold sweat covering my body and I started shivering uncontrollably.
My mum found me and screamed for Freddie. Bundling me into the car he drove me to A&E . . .  but what about Luca?! What if he needed feeding?!
My mum tucked him into his pram and walked to the local supermarket and bought premade formula reassuring me that she would look after Luca and for one night she would feed him until we figured out what was going on with my body.
Back at A&E a lovely doctor gave me a full health check and confirmed I had a rather nasty infection in my milk duct which had caused the sweats and shaking. The milk was building up and not able to be released. I was given an antibiotic and a breast pump.
Sitting in the ward it was the most vulnerable, loneliest and saddest time since I started my mothering journey.
Back home 24hrs later feeling a little better but still frail, I tried feeding again. I don’t use the word ‘broken’ lightly, but the moment he latched I just fell apart. Pain scored through me and I had to ask my mum to take him. I sobbed.
Afterwards, my mum took me aside and being the best mother she could be said ‘it’s ok Jenn, it’s your choice, your body, your baby’. I realised that if I didn’t decide soon I would jeopardise my health and the bond with my baby. I was constantly watching the clock and I would flinch when I heard his hunger cries. This wasn’t what I wanted for either of us.
The first few times I prepared his bottles I cried – tears of failure, tears of anger at myself, and tears for my baby.
However, seeing him drink hungrily, almost guzzling the bottle, I realised how hungry he was. After a day or two I noticed a huge difference in him; he was so much more alert, eyes wandering and exploring the room, engaged when we cooed over him. He seemed happy.
When the Health Visitor came again, I just put my wall up. I didn’t want to discuss it. I didn’t want to feel any worse about the decision than I already felt. I didn’t need anyone else’s guilt.
Over the coming months, we continued our bottle-feeding journey. Luca grew and thrived.
Every mile stone he reached I would secretly breathe a sigh of relief.
But the tongue tie was still there, and the line down the middle of his tongue was becoming more noticeable. Myself and Freddie decided that we would have him seen privately to access the situation. Our research told us that if ‘bad’ tongue ties were not resolved they could lead to complications in speech and after 9 months the procedure would have to be performed under general anaesthetic.
We found the wonderful midwife at Core Clinic in Warwick and booked the appointment. On her evaluation, she examined Luca and turning to be said;
‘I can absolutely guarantee that you’re not breast-feeding now’
Taken back I nodded, the wall went up again and I felt myself get into defence mode.
“Sure, how could you? There’s no way breast-feeding was possible with a tongue tie this tight’.
Shock and relief washed over me. I explained our breast-feeding journey and at the end she just hugged me and I cried (again). Having someone understand and who listened to me made such a difference. That appointment was almost therapy for me. She performed the cut beautifully, Luca hardly noticed and after 20minutes we were ready to go.
Looking back, I wish I had listened to my intuition about the tongue tie sooner and had Luca accessed properly. But as any new mum might relate to, when you’re so run down and fragile, sleep-deprived and vulnerable you just don’t think clearly.
I believe hindsight is a beautiful thing. I fully intend to revisit my breast-feeding journey on our next baby. There is so much they don’t tell you, especially as a new mum, and there’s so many assumptions that you’re meant to just ‘know’. I strongly believe that if we are to improve our breast-feeding statistics then there needs to be a more hands approach and that requires funding and support for midwives and health visitors.
No two babies are alike and every feeding journey is different.
I also feel strongly about the reintroduction of the tongue-tie check to be part of the new baby health check before they leave hospital. This small check could save mothers just like me a world of pain and heartache, and would encourage breast-feeding beyond the 2-week mark. There is a petition to have this check reintroduced and needs 100,000 signatures to be discussed in the UK Parliament. If you feel strongly about this I would urge you to sign here
Breast or Bottle is a very personal choice; one which should never be judged. Every mother I’ve met has always had their baby’s best interests at heart when it has come to feeding. Ultimately I think we can all agree that the best form of feeding . . . is feeding full stop!

Tell us about your experience! Do you have any questions? Ask away in the comments below!
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