Red Castle Babynomade

babynomadeopenWhen V was born, we received an absolutely insane amount of stuff.

There are three huge bags full of teddy bears and technicolor ostriches and other strange LSD-inspired children’s companions on the top shelf of a cupboard in one of our rooms.

We also received a lot of stuff we couldn’t possibly use. Clothes that she had grown out of by the time we received them.

You can always tell the experienced parents from the gifts they give. Either its clothes she can wear in six months to three years, or its a bag of twenty baby underwear because as a new parent you don’t yet realize how fast these will get dirty.

Occasionally though, you get one of those gifts which confuses you at first (“what on earth is this?”) and that you would never have thought of to buy for yourself, that turns out to be one of the items you use almost constantly because it’s so fantastically brilliant.

Ok, fantastically brilliant is probably a little extreme, but I’m sleep deprived, and that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

One such gift was this wraparound multipurpose baby blanket, by Red Castle, the company also behind the Cocoonababy. The blanket is called a Babynomade, and looks like an oversized pyjama with loose velcro straps. It has soft fluffy material on the inside and our version has quite sturdy material on the outside.

It comes in a variety of finishes and materials so look through everything to make sure you pick the one you want.

When we lay it out on the couch and lay V down into it she always giggles or gurgles happily because she knows it means we’re going outdoors, which she enjoys.

We use it as the blanket for her stroller because it can get really cold in London, and ours also provides some minimal protection from rain because the outside is slightly water resistant. It’s also convenient because you can lift her right out of the stroller while she’s still in it, and I since there’s no change in temperature or comfort, I can often manage this without waking her up. This always makes me feel like I have managed the impossible. There’s a comfortable fluffy belt that keeps her centered in the blanket, and which she doesn’t mind at all.

Most of all though, we use it because she loves it, and that’s super-precious. Absolutely nothing beats watching her smile or laugh in anticipation of something, or when you come home from work.


Our mini orchestral conductor

You may never have heard of the Moro Reflex (Wikipedia), and I only discovered the name when I did a lot of internet research to figure out why my baby was behaving in this strange and startling way.

When lying flat on her back and fast asleep, she would suddenly and without warning raise both arms up in the air, hands spread out as though conducting an orchestra through a particularly energetic movement from Tchaikovsky. The arms would then gradually relax and float very slowly down, only for the whole thing to happen again, several times in a row, before she’d settle. It was as though she’d been surprised or startled but it hadn’t woken her up.

Being new parents, we reacted the only way we knew how. We panicked and spent half the night on the internet trying to figure out what this was.

As an aside, googling “symptoms of…” and then the name of some random pathology typically brings up a list of symptoms so long that you’re bound to find three of four in there that you recognise, and by the time you’re done, especially if you’re doing this on two hours of sleep, you’ll be convinced that everyone in your household has some rare disease that went out of fashion in the middle ages. A better way of searching is to type “<symptom 1> <symptom 2> baby”, or something similar. Then at least the first thing you find out thousands of people are talking about the same thing and you’re not alone.

We swaddled for a while (more about in a future post), but we didn’t do it systematically and we stopped early because of concerns regarding how swaddling affects babies hips some concerns of overheating and not wanting her to get dependent on it to go to sleep. So when we’d choose not to swaddle her, we’d see this conductor-like behaviour in her sleep, which was concerning at first, but really very endearing after we understood it was normal.

The Moro Reflex is a sudden spreading or contraction of the upper limbs as a consequence of your baby believing that they are falling. It happens when you sit your baby down and let them fall backwards onto their backs, and it happens occasionally as they fall asleep, or during their sleep. It’s perfectly harmless, lasts until they are 3 or 4 months old (V stopped when she was just over 2 months), but does occasionally wake up your baby in the middle of the night.


Moro Reflex“, from WikiPedia
Why do newborns startle“, from LiveStrong
Newborn baby tests and checks“, from the NHS (scroll down to “Reflexes”)
Primitive Reflexes: Moro Reflex“, from YouTube

Daylesford Notting Hill

Restaurant scorecard:

Staff: 8/10
Food: 7/10
Space: 7/10
Ambiance: 7/10
Changing Facilities: 8/10

Great atmosphere, decent baby-changing facilities, enough space to park a stroller and friendly (if sometimes slightly inattentive) staff. 8/10.

Daylesford is a farm shop and restaurant in Notting Hill focusing on organic, artisan food for the health-conscious crowd. It shares it’s location with other Notting Hill staples such as 202 and Granger, but typically has less waiting time for a table when you want to eat.

A good place for brunch with the traditional menu of scrambled eggs, a hundred ways to mix avocado into your food, lots of salads based on pulses, grains, kale, etc and with trendy alcohol-free cocktails named for the effect they’re supposed to have on you (“b green”, “b bold”, “b bright”, and “b balanced”, for example), you might be forgiven for ranking it as “too trendy for its own good”, but you’d be making a mistake. It’s a fun place to eat that isn’t full of itself, and is very baby-friendly.

The last time we were there with V, we were on one of those annoying diets and we’d only popped in for a coffee. Because V was a bit restless, I had her tucked up against me, looking over my shoulder and she was spending her time seeing how much of her fist she could fit into her mouth.

After a few minutes we realized she was being much nicer than usual. Upon turning around we found out she’d been making googly-eyes at the kids on the table behind ours, who were quite a bit older but very taken with how she’d look right into their eyes and then smile at them.

This is not unusual here, people bring kids and infants of all ages, the staff do their best to make room for push-chairs (ours is very small so not too much of a problem) and people are very tolerant. It also perhaps helps that V is quite calm when there’s a lot of hubbub around.

In terms of baby facilities, there’s an elevator tucked away behind the butcher’s section on the ground floor that will take you up to the restaurant or down to the lower ground floor of the shop and there’s a disabled toilet on the lower ground floor with a standard baby changing table and lots of room.

In terms of negatives, it can sometimes be a little challenging to get the staff’s attention, especially when it’s very busy.

We like it here.

Harrods wins at baby-friendliness

When thinking of going out for shopping, Harrods generally isn’t at the top of my list. It’s not that I don’t like the place but I just assume that most of what’s there will be priced out of my range.

£350 for a baby-sized Loro Piana sweater for your 3-month-old anyone?


Not kidding: Skiwear

As you walk through the store, you see glimpses of another world, where infants wear thousand-dollar diamond-encrusted metal cubes on a bracelet, and where the Children’s Essentials range includes nightwear, underwear, swimwear and (obviously) skiwear. Because how can you live without skiwear?

Walking through the children’s clothing section I discovered that all the major designers seem to have cashed on in the obsession with dressing one’s children up regardless of the cost, with brands such as Roberto Cavalli, Loro Piana, Gucci, Melissa Odabash, Dolce & Gabbana and (again, not kidding…) La Perla all competing for space your tiny person’s wardrobe.

And of course you know they’ll grow out of it in a couple of months.

But once you’ve walked through all of those brands and you’ve made your eyes bleed, you begin to spot a few other parts of the children’s sections where they sell normal things, and surprisingly enough at prices that match those in ordinary high street shops. Brands that (while still expensive) are much more affordable such as Petit Bateau.

Now you can buy Petit Bateau anywhere (we have a shop in Notting Hill), but there are three very good reasons to make a trip to Harrods with baby in tow.

The first reason is that the store is fantastic in and of itself. I’m a man so I’ll refrain from words like gorgeous or stunning, but it’s a very nice place to walk around and there’s a lot to see if you  have the discipline to leave your wallet in your pocket. It’s a bit like going to a museum of modern consumerism, all prettily decked out for your visiting pleasure.

A second reason, closely related to the first, is that it’s a nice place to spend time even if you’re not shopping or performing an anthropological study on the consumer habits of people with incalculable amounts of money. The staff are lovely to everyone, regardless of what you’re purchasing (or not), it’s huge with a wide variety of things to see and you can find places to eat that – while not cheap – are very nice. Check the price on the menus before sitting down.

But the major reason, as my wife will happily tell you, is the baby changing facilities in the children’s section of the store. I’d love to show you a picture but unfortunately the one I took is way too blurry. Near the entrance to this section is a discreet little area where you can change your baby – it’s very clean, maintained by someone who’s there permanently, and it has (and this is the really important part) two feeding rooms which are incredibly well appointed.

Now as a man I can only vaguely imagine the degree of happiness such a place can bring to a breastfeeding mother, but having witnessed it first hand, it’s a bit like winning the lottery.

So yes, it’s terrifying because your wife ends up saying “why don’t we spend some time in Harrods” a lot, but it’s one of those rare places in London where it’s not just OK to bring a baby, but you feel like they’ve gone out of their way to make sure that it’s really comfortable for both the baby and mother.

Ten out of ten for Harrods on baby-friendliness (can you please fix the lifts, they’re so slow…).