Bath time

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We started the boys on a bath time routine after two weeks. I think we quickly realised here that the key was to establish a bath time and bedtime routine as soon as possible, as you would with a singleton.

We used a Summer inflatable baby bath which was great. A new born does not need a wallow, glass of milk in hand, or have a splash around with some toys. It needs a quick functional wipe down, and although does not need a bath every night, it was great to get them into a bedtime routine, so we always bathed every night. They knew what was coming. We used our family bathroom on the top floor of our three-storey house (here comes the exercise). This was a good size, carpeted and warm. The only annoying thing was the number of trips one needed to do to get three babies upstairs. My husband would use a baby sling (bought for toddler boy, and the only time ever used with the three babies) to take two upstairs (one in sling, one in arms) and I would follow with the third. One of us would bath all three babies in turn (the other dealing with toddler boy). They were normally quite happy having a little kick around waiting for their turn, but if not, and they were desperate for their expectant milk, you could easily speed up the cleaning process. If they are crying, try to keep calm. All they want is their milk, and they will get it soon.

We had the another ‘changing station’ in this bathroom (wedge changing mat, nappies, bags, cotton wool, creams) and ensured before the bathing procedure that there were clean baby-gros. With my singleton we used the nice snuggly bath towels with hoods. We soon realised that when bathing three babies at once, we just need enough good quality big towels to do an efficient job and keep them warm.

Whilst one of us was bathing the babies, the other would prepare the milks, which would be in our bedroom room ready (woe betide the milk preparer if they weren’t) for when the hungry babies arrived in our bedroom (cot first for safety issues, not on the bed, until all regrouped and supervised). Toddler boy would then have his bath, with whoever had done the babies baths, ensuring we both spent time with all boys.

A little tip here which will save time later is when you are undressing babies, get into the habit of taking their clothes off so they don’t get turned inside out, or if they do, put them the right way straight away. This will speed up the sorting process when getting them out of the tumble dryer and sorting to put away, and when you are doing on average two loads a day, you will notice this helps you be more efficient.

The Obsessions

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So it’s Mother’s Day, and I could write something about how it is to be a Mummy, and to have a Mummy, but I am aware that there are so many different kinds of Mummies and I don’t think I can articulate well enough my thoughts on that and do enough justice to all the different kinds of Mummies that there are. All I will say is that I am very much aware how lucky I am in that I have a truly lovely Mummy and four truly lovely healthy boys. So I went through my old Mother’s Day cards and pictures which are all stashed with loads of my other treasure stuff, and came across this little gem…. Which lead me to think that yes my boys are truly lovely, but actually I think it is safe to say, well, a little odd too….

Ok, so with a slightly crazy over-efficient ‘every thing has to have a process’ mum, it is likely that my off spring will also demonstrate varying degrees of my personality traits.

I can see from looking at my 4 boys, which are most like me, and over the years this has become very apparent, to both me, my husband and our parents.

T2 is relatively a chilled out boy. Obsessive-wise, not really. Apart from generally wanting to eat everything and anything, and enjoying looking at himself in the mirrored reflection of the oven, he didn’t really have any obsessions in his toddler years.

T1, again, very chilled, unlike me. He does however have a strong attraction to anything cute and fluffy (a recent comment  when he saw me in a new faux fur gillet – Mummy it’s not fair, how do you get to wear fluffy things and I have to wear ‘cold’ clothes, basically sums him up). So apart from that and Hotel Chocolat magazines, he doesn’t have any strong preferences, with what I would call a minimal level of obsessiveness as a toddler.

T3 is getting closer to me. Highly strung at times, often prone to a tantrum at any age, and obsessive tendencies. We went through an orange stage. Because of it he has an orange bedroom (just the one wall, and it actually is quite effective). But it was a case of unless it was orange, it wasn’t accepted…always the orange jumper, orange pants, orange cup, orange calculator that often accompanied him to bed, and carrots.

Which brings me at last to toddler boy. So when I wonder why we had the ‘battery obsession’ for just short of 6 months, I know I only have myself to blame, because the genes have come from somewhere.

For those of me who knew me at the time,  they will remember it clearly. It was Christmas Eve. My husband changed the batteries in something (2xAA), God knows what, but toddler boy saw them on the side. Oh can I have these Daddy… and they were popped into a little gift bag that was hanging around, and they were with him until bedtime.

Christmas Day. 3 year old enters our room. ‘Merry Christmas toddler boy, shall we go and see what Father Christmas has brought you?’ ‘Where are my batt-ries?’  ‘Your what?’  ‘My batt-ries’. Oh ok then, well here they are….

That was pretty much it for 6 months. Nothing else got a look in. We would go to the shops. To look at batteries. We would go to ToyRUs, and look at the aisle with batteries. Tesco, Marks and Spencer, Boots. Every shop. Everywhere.

He had a collection. AAA, AA, C. Different brands – Duracell, Panansonic, Shop own brands… all sorts. I have video camera footage of him talking about how Panasonic Extremes are the ‘RockStar batteries’.

We would go to people houses and he would open remote controls, seeing if they were batteries he didn’t have, and we would have to swap them.

I would drop him off at nursery and the teachers would say they had the torches and screwdrivers ready for him to go and change the batteries.

People would come to our house and see his collection of 314 batteries, sometimes in a big tub, sometimes laid out according to brand or size, sometimes in the little trucks on his Thomas track being transported around the Island of Sodor. In an effort to make it more educational, I purchased the ‘Usborne book of Batteries and Magnets’, hoping that he may at least learn something from it if I read this to him. I also sourced a battery tester, so we could test the ‘energy levels’ in batteries, again, hoping to bring some level of education and learning to this, and telling myself that I actually may have a budding scientist on my hands, rather than a slightly odd obsessive toddler boy.

But all in all, it was draining, if not a little embarrassing. I recall a trip to Marks and Spencers. At the till point, we studied the batteries. We went home with the green ones. These were re-chargeable ones, met with some negativity from husband on the basis that they were nearly a tenner and we don’t even have a rechargeable facility… but try telling that to a 3 year old in a queue at a check out.

We went to Boots, and when looking longingly at the batteries on sale, an assistant asked if we needed help. I explained my predicament. She came up with an idea. How about having a rummage through the recycle bin. Brilliant! We went home with a couple of AA ‘s and C’s, toddler boy happy to have new additions to his collection, me thrilled I didn’t have to spend more money on some friggin’ batteries.

Toddler boy couldn’t believe his luck, and a week later  was excited about the prospect at choosing his batteries from the recycle point at Boots again. So we approached the desk and I said casually that my toddler was going to just choose a few if that was ok. The alternative assistant (young, obviously no children) looked somewhat bemused. So we started our rummage. And just as we had chosen our 5, she appeared. ‘I am sorry, but I can not let you take them. It is not safe to let children play with batteries you know’…I looked at her. Toddler boy started crying. This confirmed my initial belief that she didn’t have children. ‘Yes love I know, but my toddler boy really likes to collect them, bizarre as it may seem, and I do supervise him with them and make sure he doesn’t put them in his mouth or chew on them’… ‘No sorry I can’t let you take them’….. I left feeling like a particularly bad mother, and now just hope that when she has her own children they develop their own bizarre obsessions….

So anyway, we rode with it. For the 6 long months. And when opening his 4th birthday presents from his birthday party (which did in fact include packs of batteries), we discovered the ‘lego man’… and £2,657 later, we have never looked back….

It’s ok to change your mind

imageThroughout my life I have changed my mind on so many different things. It drives my husband crazy. Just as I find it equally irritating (well, more probably) when he changes his.

I went through stage of having short hair, then decided I preferred it longer, so I changed my mind (good job too as when recently watching some video footage, husband said ‘Look at Mummy’s silly hair, boys’, to which they all roared with laughter….cheers then boys).

I used to want a dog, but after changing nappies and wiping bottoms god knows how many times over the years, the last thing I want to do is pick up dog dirt. So I have changed my mind.

I used to always shop at Sainsburys, saying I would never go to Tesco because our local one was not very nice, and the trolleys ALWAYS had wonky wheels. But when I realised that some things were cheaper there, and I was now shopping for a family of 6, I changed my mind.

I WILL potty train all 3 boys at once, but when I realised it was like having a litter of puppies and we had no idea of who had done that wee over there, and they had even less of an idea, I changed my mind (very quickly).

I always said the boys could never play with their tablets in their bedrooms, so I could always have a look over their shoulder at what they were looking at, but upon realising that sometimes they (and me) just need their own space, I changed my mind.

I always think at Christmas and Easter that I won’t buy so much chocolate for my boys  but every year I think, well, they are only children once, and I change my mind.

I was a vegetarian for 11 years, after at the age of 14 seeing a documentary on how certain animals were slaughtered, but then after a few drinks at the age of 25, just gave in to a Chicken Tikka Masala.

 

So if I think it is acceptable to change my mind on those things, why do I need to beat myself up when I change my mind about other things.

 

I AM going to feed my first born until weaning. But I didn’t, I stopped earlier because I found it easier to wean whilst having a set bottle routine, so I changed my mind.

I am going to express milk for my 3 babies for 3 months, because I fed my first born for 18 weeks, so it is only fair, but actually it became too time consuming with a toddler to entertain as well, so I changed my mind.

When my boys started 2’s playgroup, I told myself they would each have a morning on their own at home with me, so we could have some time one-on-one, but then when realising that actually I wanted that time as just ‘one’, I changed my mind.

I will not let my children have the TV on at mealtimes. But when feeding meals to 4 children under 3, it takes the distractions away from hitting each other, and gives me more time to sort things in the kitchen, so I changed my mind. (Now at the age of 8 and 6 I am practically begging them to watch TV at meal times so they don’t talk to each other as it leads to teasing and fighting).

I am never going back to work, because I want to be there for my boys after school and in school holidays, but now actually, if you don’t mind boys, I have changed my mind.

I can’t imagine going on a girls holiday again, putting myself at risk on a flight when I don’t need to go, as I am a mother of 4 after all, but actually, I have changed my mind (and sometimes I even think that I can’t get on that plane fast enough).

So why is it that I beat myself up when I change my mind about some things, but don’t when I change my mind about others. Surely it is my right to change my mind about anything?

Well, because those things I beat myself up about when I change my mind is because I have set myself a rule, that at a time I thought was very important, but over time, that changes and a situation changes.  And I have to accept that, and that it is ok to change my mind.

There is always a reason behind why I have changed my mind. And that for as long as I can remember, I have never once regretted changing my mind. Ok maybe I have when it comes to a bet on a horse, or a Strictly or X-factor contestant, but when it has come to something REALLY important, I can’t think of a situation when I wish I hadn’t changed my mind. So I need to trust my judgement and that my reasoning is usually spot on.  So that is ok surely.

(Oh but I never changed my mind on those mince pies)

 

Go!… (Night time feeding)

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Now it took us a while to sort the 10pm feed, probably two weeks. We had been keeping the babies in the lounge before taking them to bed with us at night, so they were in the cot in the lounge until after the 10pm feed. We decided to do this so we could eat tea, watch television and deal with the boys next to us rather than keep running up and down the stairs. This was the most unsettled time for the boys, and often we would start milks early, say 9.15pm. It took us a while to realise that actually the boys didn’t want to be in the lounge, lights on, listening to 24 and Jack Bauer’s latest mission. At night time, SCBU generally had been quiet, relaxed and dark. So we decided that they would start the bed time routine – a bath, clean baby-gro, before going to bed in the cot in our room. We would then do the 10pm feed in our room.

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We would spread the boys out on our bed, lying on pillows, and give them their bottles two at a time, rotating depending on who is the hungriest. We would never leave the babies unattended on our bed.

(The babies are more like 10 weeks old in the above photo, but I don’t seem to have one from the earlier days, but it still gives an idea of the feeding set up).

The 2am feed involved both of us getting whoever woke first and another, even if sleeping. As soon as the first baby stirred, my husband would head off to the kitchen to prepare milks (and set up the steriliser again for the 6am feed).

We would change nappies at this time, either before milk, if we wanted the baby to wake, or after if the baby had woken hungry. Changing the nappy before milk will wake a baby who was happy sleeping so he will be alert for his milk, however, often another nappy change was required post-feed. The other approach of changing the baby after milk meant usually only one nappy change, but more often than not a new outfit as the baby would be sick a little. We often had the scenario where one baby would need a post milk change but not because he had been sick, but his loving brother had deposited some on him.

We would feed all three babies at this feed, even if this meant waking one or two. We needed to keep them together in their routine. At times we would have all three howling for milk, and we would deal with the loudest first, and try a few ounces each if all were desperate. Sometimes it was a frantic feed, but it was normally a relaxed process, each with a baby, then whoever finished first went for the third. It was often a game over which baby we had first as depending on how fast they were depended on whether you got the third – at times I would pretend that my chosen baby was taking a while to get its wind up, so I would sneakily miss out on the third, thus being able to go back to sleep 20 minutes earlier. Bad wife.

We had some special moments during those feeds which I can honestly say I look back on fondly. They started taking about an hour and a half but over the weeks we managed to do these in an hour, as the boys got faster at taking milk, and we moved up the teat sizes quickly. We would record films or programmes to watch during the feeds as we had a television in our room. It just made it more pleasant and memorable.

Breast feeding a singleton can be a lonely experience. Your partner does not need to wake or may even be in another room. Feeding more than one baby is a two person job and it really was a wonderful experience that myself and my husband got to share together with our babies.

The boys would then settle again until the 6am feed, which we could usually get done and dusted before toddler boy awoke at 7am. If we had’t quite completed the feed, one of us would finish it off, and transfer the babies downstairs to their cot in the lounge, whilst the other would deal with toddler boys demands.

 

Go!… (Day time feeding)

Doing milks’

During their time in SCBU, I had been breast feeding in addition to bottle feeding the boys. I would try to take it in turns as to who would breast feed, and they would roughly feed for 20 to 40 minutes which I considered enough and acceptable (and had satisfied the nurses given the length of time they lasted until their next feed and ability to settle after this feed – each baby and breast is different though so don’t take this as a guide).

On the first morning at home, I decided to give T2 a turn breast feeding for his 10am feed. He fed for 25 minutes which I considered enough. However, two hours later he was hungry. I suspected this as he didn’t sleep. As with lots of newborns, the babies would generally feed then sleep until they were hungry in the first few weeks and not do much else. T2 wasn’t happy and I took this to mean he was hungry. Whilst I enjoyed breast feeding, I had no idea how much milk he had had. In order to follow a strict routine, I needed to know that he had had enough. So I decided there and then to stop breast feeding. That said, I still wanted my babies to benefit from my milk so I continued to express four times a day, transferring my milk to bottles and supplementing with formula milk (check latest guidelines on how to supplement breast milk with formula milk). I would get on average 500ml in morning express and on average of 260ml other times. I was happy with this approach and given that I had breast fed my first born for up to five months, I wanted my other babies to benefit from this.
With my husband at home that first week, in the day time hours, we would take it in turns to ‘do milks’ in the safety of the lounge, the other entertaining toddler boy and doing the jobs. I no longer had a hire pump from hospital which I handed back when we ‘checked out’, so purchased an additional electronic Medela swing pump, so used one on each breast. This worked very well and I was able to maintain my milk at a good level.

The 10am feed would be performed by one of us and would take place in the lounge. In the first few days, we would hold each baby individually and feed them one at a time, rotating depending on how quick they were with their bottle. It would generally take between an hour to an hour and half to feed all three babies. The 2pm feed would be in the lounge, sometimes with both of us as toddler would be having his afternoon nap which I had been so keen to maintain. The 6pm feed again would be in the lounge, solo, whilst the other took toddler boy through his bedtime routine.

People have always asked if it is possible to feed three babies at the same time. There are ways and I will tell you some of the ways I managed this. You may not find similar ideas in reference books or recommended by health visitors, quite frankly because there are risks involved. However you decide to feed your babies must be in a way that you are completely in control of and observant of all babies at all times. The first key thing to remember is that the baby is crying because it is hungry. You are preparing the milk, and it will get its milk. If the baby has to wait a few more minutes because the temperature isn’t right, you incorrectly measured out the powder and had to start again, it will be fine.  It will get its milk. Stay calm.

If you have three crying, you will have one crying the loudest. Deal with this one first. Quite often, a baby is happy with a few ounces to take the edge off their hunger, and then you can move on to give another a few ounces. Or maybe not. T2 was always hungry and the loudest significantly and still is. He would always go first, and would not be fended off by a few ounces. But at times he would have to wait whilst T1 or T3 had a go.

You can keep track of bottles by simply just keeping that babies bottle next to the baby. You can buy different colour rims, pink and blue, which wouldn’t have been enough for us anyway. Just try to keep them separate for obvious hygiene reasons, and so that you know who has had how much. In a few months time they will be swapping dummies (although we did always make the effort to keep them to their own allocated colours), chewing toys at baby classes and eating mud off the pushchair wheels in the hall (yes, we did have that, and still have the brown stain on the carpet where the particular child was sick after), and you will wonder what all the fuss was for. But babies are small and their immune systems need to build up, so best to try to keep things separate.

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As for winding, siblings would not allow time for me to have a baby on my knee and rub its back for a significant amount of time. There are other ways again, take note of my comment above and never leave a baby unattended and ensure you are observant of all babies at all times. At times when doing milks in the lounge, to wind them all, I would sit on the floor with my legs spread out in front of me, and have a baby over each knee (with head facing sideways for breathing and possett access) and hold the other over my shoulder. You will notice that some babies are windier than others, and some will burp with ease. My babies all burped with ease which was great. For those having trouble with wind, Infacol  (available from supermarkets and chemists) is a great solution which a baby has before a bottle, and this can help with wind. Although I never needed to use this on a frequent basis, I had friends who swore by it.

Now the boys coming home in a good routine was a great outcome from being in SCBU. Another great thing was that they did not need cuddling or rocking to go to sleep. In SCBU, the nurses had just fed them and put them back. No fuss. That was great and over the months and years, if they have ever woke in the night, they would not appreciate being rocked or cuddled back to sleep and could generally settle themselves. I can remember the hours I had spent rocking my first born to sleep, place him down only to wake him again by a squeaky floorboard whilst sneaking out of the room and starting the whole thing again. Painful. There was no time to do this with three, and they didn’t expect it. That said, during the afternoon 2pm feed, if the boys took it in turns to wake over a short time, I would have a lovely cuddle with them. As the weeks progressed, sometimes it was just a manic feeding frenzy. These, whilst made my knees shake getting all the milks ready as they all kicked off in the other room, could be over in 20 minutes. Some feeds were slow, long and relaxed with a few episodes of Emmerdale and cuddles. Others were quick, frantic and more stressful. Nice to have a variety.

 

Crossing to the other side

imageSo tomorrow is it my turn for a first day. Over the last 8 years it has been my boys turn for first days….at playgroup, at nursery, at school. And tomorrow it is my turn. Not just a first day in my new old job, but a first day in my new role. I am crossing to the other side. But when I say that, I suppose I know I am not crossing, because I am not moving away from what I have been for the last 7 years, merely adding to what I am going to become. I am stepping out of my stay at home mum role to a working mum role. And I can’t wait. And over the years if someone had told me I would be at this stage again, I would have not believed them.

Now before I get into this, I am not sure I am comfortable with the terms ‘Stay at home Mum’ and ‘Working Mum’. For starters, all Mums are working, very hard, to do the best for their children. A Stay at home Mum, is often not at home, because if she has small children, she is most likely in the park, at a playgroup, play-date, baby class or doctors appointment, or if she has school age children, she really won’t be at home because she will be doing everything other than being at home because she is ‘FREEEEE’. A Working Mum has a paid job, but then still works on the other job when she comes home. But I am not sure what other terms could be used to describe us Mums and it is just all too controversial so I will leave it there.

When I worked in my 20’s, I did because that is what we all do, and we have a mortgage and bills to pay. But I always hoped that one day I would find a husband and have babies, and my work days may be numbered. So I got married, and worked up until I had my first child at 30, had a year off then went back to work on a 3 days a week basis. I found this particularly hard. Firstly I found the managing of two roles hard. The 3 days a week I was at work, I really wanted to be at home with my baby. Then the 2 days at home I felt like I was not really giving it all to being a mum as I was out of the routine of being a full on mum, and would worry about the work I had to do when I went back to the work. And I suppose what was more likely was that secondly, I hoped to have baby number 2, and then be at home again.

However, as we know, baby number 2 became babies numbers 2, 3 and 4, and at my first scan, I was thrilled when I was advised to give up work as soon as possible. That was it. I had reached that point where I felt it was acceptable to not work anymore. I could become a stay at home mum. And given the fact I was to have 4 children under 2, any discussions of me returning to work became silly not just in terms of child care costs, but the logistics just made our heads go crazy.

So 6 years ago, when my babies were nearly one, and toddler boy was 2 years and 8 months, I formally resigned. And I was happy with the decision that my job was now to bring up these boys.

However, now it turns out that after 2 years of school days and realising the boys don’t need me in the holidays as much and that they want more, I have come full circle and the ‘Oh I would NEVER go back to work again’ has actually turned into ‘Oh my god I just HAVE to get that job again’.

And I have now worked out why. Why when I never wanted to, am I desperate to now, and the reason is clear. It is because of the challenge. It is because of the need to do something. To push yourself. To keep going.

I always said if we had had 2 children, I probably would have gone back to work, then hopefully had another baby, then maybe stopped work. Maybe we would have had another. But I know this. I would have carried on until I felt challenged. Having 4 under 2 challenged me. It made me feel alive. I remember in the early days having my shower in the morning, working out what order I was going to do things that day, which jobs to do when, which batches of food I was going to do during afternoon naps, setting myself little targets. True I am slightly crazy and ran my house like a ship, with a process for everything. But that’s just the way I am. I have never been one to sit down.

These days I usually have my shower after a gym class, between meeting up with friends for a coffee, house work and rushing around the supermarkets on my price comparison frenzy missions. So now I need something else to get that sense of achievement from. And it is time for that to come in the way of my career again.

Over the years, when the boys have been ‘messing around’ (to put it politely), I look at them with disappointment thinking ‘Is this the best I have done?’, ‘Is this what I have given up my career for?’, because if so, maybe I shouldn’t have bothered…. I honestly thought I had given up my career and had written myself off. That I had made a choice. But it seems that some people think I hadn’t.  So if you like me, think you may have had a few years too many off, well maybe you haven’t. During the last 6 years, I have kept up to date with things, kept in contact with people, to keep me in the know. And these days there is a big drive to get women who have had maybe more time at home with their families than was previously acceptable, to get us back into work. Because at the end of the day, we still have those skills we had before we had our families, and now we have a whole host more. The speed at which I can have a conversation and get to the point is amazing, after years of not knowing how long I have to get my words out. My multi-tasking skills are extraordinary.  I have a new found confidence, which I realised during recent interviews. And I am able to prioritise what is important, and hopefully can be better at leaving certain things in the office rather than bringing them into the home.

So I am not pretending it is not going to be hard. I am not naive in thinking I will just be able to slip back into it. And once again, this is something that needs to be taken on as a team. Just like it was when I had three babies in one go. Luckily my husband sees that we have equal rights to work and equal responsibilities for our boys. That when I say I don’t want to be hanging around in the kitchen waiting for him to come home any more, that sometimes I want to be the second one home, that he understands. And I want my boys to see that it is possible for their Mummy to have two roles too. I want them to accept that their future wives or partners will also have the right to have different roles over their lives, just as much as it is their right to too.

So here we go. Off for the first week (well 4 days, steady). But do you know what I am looking forward to most… To having that spring in my step again on a Friday because it is the end of the week. To collapsing on the sofa on a Friday night shattered, because I haven’t had that for 2 or 3 years. For having that Sunday night feeling, to give the week some definition…and for having that challenge, for getting a sense of achievement …..

So as a Stay at home mum, it’s over and out.

Get set…

 

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Preparing milks

As I mentioned in ‘On your marks…’, the feeding routine was the most important thing to the babies and the most time consuming this for us. In order to follow the milk routine, you need to have a swift effective milk preparation routine. Whilst preparing the milks for the awaiting feed, I would ensure the bottles for the next feed had been sterilised and were waiting in the steriliser (they keep sterile in there for a few hours), and the bottles for the feed after that were stacked in a Tupperware ready for transfer to the steriliser. So I was thinking two feeds ahead. It is always good to have a few of the sterilising bags handy as at times you would go to prepare the bottles from the steriliser only to find a teat missing, so the bags are quite handy to have in such instances. (You can get these in packs from Boots, and just pop the bag with the bottle bits in the microwave for a minute or how ever long it states).

You also need to ensure you have cooled boiled water. Get another kettle. You can have one for your needs, and keep one separate to make up the babies’ milk. Fill it to the top, boil it once, then check after each feed if you have enough for the next. All quite straight forward, but necessary for an efficient process.

Make sure you have enough formula milk (if you are using this) in stock. We did a weekly online shop and were buying seven tubs a week of £8 formula milk (this was 7 years ago, it is £10 a tub now). ‘First’ formula milk does not qualify for discounts and loyalty points as someone somewhere is concerned that this would detract from the promotion of breast feeding as the best way to feed a baby. I found this particularly annoying and somewhat insulting. The choice of whether to breast or formula feed a baby is the mother’s decision and I think the majority of mothers would not be swayed by the price of formula milk as to whether to breast or bottle feed. When buying seven tubs of formula milk a week for £8 each for the first few months, a bit of a discount or some loyalty points would have softened the blow. I often question why baby food is allowed to be on offer and attract loyalty points when it is clear that home-made food is better.

When adding the powder, I found it easier to count aloud. You can be adding up to eight scoops of formula, into three bottles. You need to focus. There is nothing more irritating than worrying if you have added too much or too little to a bottle and having to start again, or worry about the decision you took of not starting again – has that baby had an extra scoop, or not enough.

Each bottle can be heated to the required body temperature in the microwave, and tested to check it is not too hot on your wrist. The boys occasionally would have bottles that weren’t as warm as they could be. This is good. You do not want a baby who is fussy about having their milk at a particular temperature. I recall instances when out with friends and babies when I just had a singleton, and some babies would not be happy if their milk was not the right temperature. This really isn’t something you can let a baby get away with when you have more than one to think about. Milk should not be reheated, and we generally had a rule that it was discarded after an hour.

We had the added complications of vitamin supplements for the boys for the first few weeks given that they were premature. The SCBU advised that they should be having these for ten weeks but after consultation with my GP, the boys stopped these at six weeks. These just added another process by having to add different amounts of three different vitamins with a sterilised syringe to the bottle of each feed.

How many bottles do you need? We had 12. You need to keep on top of your bottle washing and quite often can have nine to do in the morning.

Teat sizes

We used Tommee Tippee Closer To Nature bottles which I used for my singleton. I never had any problems with these and thought they were great. Teats come in different sizes, 1-3. Babies normally start with size 1 for a slow steady flow. These require a good strong suck. If your baby is doing well with a size 1, try a size 2. The milk comes faster but they may be able to take it, just watch for the amount of wind and posset after as a sign that they may not be ready. We were able to move our boys to size 2 then 3 quite quickly and this speeded up the milk process rapidly.

So once you have the process in place, you are good to go…..