Blog Tour Book Review – The Baby Detective

The Baby Detective by Sarah Norris

The Blurb

The only parenting book that offers a unique, step-by-step guide to enable parents to solve baby care problems for themselves.

The Baby Detective is the only book of the parenting genre to develop a unique, step-by-step investigative process that will enable parents to solve their own baby care problems.

It puts them firmly back in the driving seat, giving them the tools to do away with sometimes conflicting and confusing expert advice, and to face parenting challenges using their own intuition.

Drawing on case studies of Sarah’s previous clients, the book is based around her unique principle of AIM, in which parents are guided through the process of Assessing a problematic situation, Investigating the possible causes and Modifying behaviour in order to resolve it.

It provides insight in to how and why environment, biology and personality interact to affect your baby, as well as suggesting numerous tips and strategies for remedying problems.

What I Thought

Where To Buy


The Author – Sarah Norris

With 25 years experience Sarah is one of the top maternity nurses and Baby Care Consultants in the UK, and is the author of the exciting new parenting book ‘The Baby Detective’ with Orion Books.

In her role as The Baby Detective, Sarah employs her unique investigative approach, based on clear thinking, common sense and compassion, to empower and encourage new parents, and to help guide and support them through the confusion that is modern day parenting.

Sarah is passionate about her work and is dedicated to providing advice that is non judgemental and unbiased, is equally supportive of all parenting and feeding methods, and is always respectful of the parents choices.

Social Media


Twitter @Baby_Detective

Coping With Anxiety – Grounding Techniques

Anxiety is the feeling of unease, worry or fear.  Everyone experiences anxiety during their lives – you may worry about taking an exam for example.  But there are peopl who experience these symptoms daily and struggle to control them.  Anxiety can take over a person’s life and be a constant struggle.

barefoot beach blur break

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Anxiety is common in people with chronic illnesses.  Our lives often give us lots of extra things to worry about – our health, hospital appointments and tests, eating well etc.  Symptoms include overwhelming nausea and sometimes actually being sick, breathlessness, palpitations, trouble sleeping, feeling out of your depth and feeling numb.

Grounding is a simple technique which you cn use during these times to help you feel reconnected and calmer.  Today I wanted to share a few of these techniques which I have found help me when I feel an anxiety attack start to come on.

Breathe Square

This is one of my favourite techniques and it is really simple.  Getting your breathing to steady when you feel anxious is a quick way to begin the process of you feeling calmer.  Our breathing often speeds up during an anxiety attack, and sometimes people hold their breath to try and counteract that.

First up, trace a square with your finger in front of you.  As you go up the side, breathe in for three seconds.  As you go along the top, hold for one second.  Down the other side and breathe out for three and then along the bottom hold for anther second.  Keep your finger moving steadily so your breathing becomes the same.

5. 4, 3, 2, 1

This is a common one and is used well by many people.  However, I find myself struggling to remember the order which then results in more worrying for me.  I suggest writing it down on a small piece of paper which you can keep close at hand,  to save that from happening to you!

Name 5 things you can see in the room around you (eg. chair, mirror)

Name 4 things you can feel (eg. the cool breeze on your skin, the leather chair you are sat on)

Name 3 things you can hear (eg. children playing outside, the fridge humming)

Name 2 things you can smell (eg.  bacon cooking, perfume)

Name 1 thing that is good about you (eg. I am a great teacher, I am strong)

Find Your Feet

This can be done siting or standing.  For a minute, place all of your focus on the soles of your feet.  Pay attention to any feelings or sensations.  Yu can also close your eyes if this helps you concentrate

Mental Distraction

There are different ways you can do this, but this is the one I find easiest and most useful. Think of a catagory and then name as many things as you can relating to it.  For example you could choose dog breeds, capital cities, football teams or authors.  This will help focus your mind on something oither than what is causing your anxiety.

Re-orientation Technique

Again, there are different versions of this, but this is one that’s easy to do. Ask yourself who you are, where you are, what you are wearing etc.  These questions and the answers you give will help you focus on the present and reorientate you, bringing you back to yourself.

photo of woman wearing white top

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These five different techniques are all simple and can be used anywhere and I hope they will be helpful to you, like they are to me. If you find your anxiety getting worse or you are struggling wth the effect it is having on your life, please visit your GP and speak to them about it.  They can help in many differenmt ways including with talking therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and/or medication.  Nothing should be forced on you and you need to feel comfortable with the plan your treatment will take, but please do go with an open mind.

I am more than happy to discuss this privately as I know how difficult it can be to find someone you can  talk to.  I will add a comment box to the bottom of this paragraph, you can fill it in and it will send me an email, which I can reply to privately.

If you have any more grounding techniques that work for you, I would love to hear about them in the comments below.  Anxiety comes under the umbrella of mental health and should not be something we shy away from discussing.  It is very common and you are not to blame.  The best way to overcome it is to take the power back, regain control of your thoughts, speak up and get help and support.



Baby Led Weaning VS Puree Weaning

Happy Wednesday!  It is the middle of the week and I thought I would do a bit of a parenting post for you.  This one is about my experience with weaning.  Please note, this post is written entirely based on my own experiences.  I am not an expert but after doing this a couple of times, I thought I would share what I found with the whole process.


The WHO guidelines suggest solely breast/bottle milk for the first 6 months of a baby’s life.  The weaning process can then begin.  Some common signs that your little one is ready for weaning can include

  • chewing their fists
  • being able to sit well unaided
  • waking in the night when previously sleeping through
  • drinking increased amounts of milk

These are not necessarily present in all babies and can also indicate other things, but will give you an idea of things to look out for.  Your health visitor will be able to advise you on your baby as they are all so different, especially if you think you may need to wean early.

Puree Weaning

I started weaning Leo at around 5.5 months and chose to use a mixture of purees and finger foods.  His first meal was a couple of teaspoons of baby rice which he loved!  I would make up my own fruit and vegetable purees and started off with simple, one item purees so he got used to different tastes.

I would generally cook a load of extra vegetables on a Sunday when I made the roast dinner, and then puree them all down in a bit of a marathon mash up!  I would then put them into large ice cube trays to freeze, which would then be popped out and placed in freezer bags to save space.  This made the whole process really easy as I had homemade purees, ready and to hand.  I could also choose a single puree, or as he got older choose two or three different fruits/veggies to mix together.

When I started to give him breakfast, Leo would generally have weetabix, baby rice or baby porridge and I would also sometimes mix in some fruit.

I would give finger foods as a type of pudding or for snacks.  These started off as very soft and mushy items, generally getting more complex as he got older.  I would always give Leo his own spoon and encourage him to dip it in and feed himself from an early age.  Around the age of 7 months, I started to introduce small bits of meat into his diet and by ten months he was eating our meals, well chopped.  His favourite at this age was my chicken enchiladas -although not super spicy, don’t be worrying about introducing a little spice to their palate.

This method of combining the two worked really well.  Leo was always content, he got a wide range of different fruits, veggies and flavours and as a result is a very good eater.  If I were to have another one this is definitely the approach I would take again.  I have tried to round up the weaning process in a timeline below but please comment or pop me a message with any questions.

6 months

Baby Led Weaning

This approach became more and more popular since I had Leo and with a recommendation from my health visitor, I decided to give it a go with Riley.  We started off with soft veg sticks when he had just turned 5 month old.  I think the fact he had to be weaned slightly early may have meant this was not the most suitable way to do it, but hindsight gives you all the information too late.

Riley was a hungry baby which was why he needed weaning a little early, and unfortunately, he could not feed himself fast enough so it just got terribly frustrating for us all.  Just before he turned one I had finally had enough and took a little step back and started mashing his food and feeding him with a spoon.  It felt like a from of regression but we had to almost begin again to get it right for him.  He was nowhere near as adept at feeding himself and using a spoon and fork, even though, like Leo, he had always been given them.

I am in no way ‘bashing’ baby-led weaning – I have friends who have done it very successfully – it just did not work for us!  I also think it depends on your child, and what works best for them.  This infographic shows you my top 5 purchases if you are going to attempt baby-led weaning to get you prepared!


I hope you have enjoyed my little round up.  I can definitely go into more detail if anyone is interested, on either of the methods.  Feel free to comment below or message me with any questions.  I would also love to hear your success stories and how you coped with the weaning process?  Let me know below!

NatalieThe Spoonie Mummy

Blog Series – Conditions Associated With IBD – Fistulas

So I didn’t manage to get this one up last week.  After the unexpected hospital stay, I took some time off to recover.  Today is the second post in the blog series I am doing on conditions associated with IBD and we are looking at fistulas.

What are they?

A fistula is an abnormal channel or tunnel which develops in between two organs of the body.  These can occur anywhere in the body but generally involve the bowel and intestine.  They may connect two parts of the bowel together, or the bowel to the vagina, bladder or skin.  They are more common in people with Crohns rather than Colitis, as they begin when the whole lining of the bowel is inflamed.  Colitis tends not to cause inflammation of the entire lining of the bowel.

Types of fistula

The most common types of fistula associated with IBD are

Anal (also known as perianal fistulas) connect the anal canal to
the surface of the skin near the anus. These are the most common type of fistula and usually appear following an abscess
Bowel to bladder fistulas (enterovesical or colovesical fistulas)
Bowel to vagina fistulas (enterovaginal fistulas or rectovaginal fistulas)
Bowel to skin fistulas (enterocutaneous fistulas) These mostly occur on the abdomen and often develop following surgery
Bowel to bowel fistulas (enteroenteric or enterocolic fistulas) link different parts of the bowel together, bypassing some parts of the bowel

Symptoms of a fistula

Depending on the type of fistula you may experience

  • Tender swelling or lump in the anus, followed by pain and irritation which is worse when you sit down, cough or poo
  • A fistula can drain blood, pus or poo

From the one above my anus – leaking pus and mucus constantly so I have to wear a pad, occasionally blood or stool passes through too.  I have an abscess which drains through it which can be painful

Tiffany, Crohns diagnosed 2017, rectovaginal and perinanal fistulas, runs Tiffany Nicole

I suffer extreme pain from the waist down. I get random bursts of bleeding which results in low iron.  I also get leakage constantly and pain on my skin

Alannah, diagnosed with Crohns 2012, permanent ileostomy, ‘pelvis riddled with fistulas’ and runs a blog here
  • Passing air, pus or faeces through the vagina/in urine

Before I had my bag I was leaking stool from my front.  I was passing wind from there too and I ended up developing sepsis. Only symptoms I get now, 3 years on are drainage from the seton and some discomfort the odd time from the seton and then my team just change it

Anonymous, diagnosed with UC in 2004 which changed to Crohns Disease in 2015, loop ileostomy, rectovaginal fistula

I have symptoms less often in my rectovaginal fistula but it itches sometimes and occasionally leaks stool which made me panic at first, I thought I wasn’t wiping my bum properly!

Tiffany, Crohns diagnosed 2017, rectovaginal and perinanal fistulas, runs
  • Frequent UTI’s
  • Frequent urge to pass urine
  • Pain during intercourse
  • The person may experience dehydration or malabsorption issues

How are they diagnosed?

MRI, ultrasound, CT scans and fistulography tests may be performed by your doctor.  They will want to identify the route the fistula takes and where the openings are, the number of channels there are and if there is an infection also present

My doctor had a look, the area was very red and swelled, and knew straight away what it was.  They did MRI’s too

Anonymous, diagnosed with UC in 2004 which changed to Crohns Disease in 2015, loop ileostomy

I was diagnosed with a vaginal inspection, MRI scan and biopsies

Alannah, diagnosed with Crohns 2012, permanent ileostomy, ‘pelvis riddled with fistulas’ and runs a blog here

I was diagnosed with a colonoscopy and MRI scans

Tiffany, Crohns diagnosed 2017, rectovaginal and perinanal fistulas, runs

For vaginal fistulas, a blue dye test can be used.  This involves the doctor inserting some blue dye into the rectum and a tampon into the vagina.  If the tampon is removed and is stained blue, it will indicate a fistula.

Doctors may also carry out a cytoscope test to view inside the bladder and urethra to identify a bowel to bladder fistula.

How are they treated?

  • Antibiotics
  • Azathioprine
  • Biologics / Anti TNF medication
  • Surgery – seton, fistulotomy
  • Steroids

I’ve been on biologicals called Infliximab for two years till they stopped working and now on Vedolizumab and I’ve had a seton stitch put in place to drain it

Anonymous, diagnosed with UC in 2004 which changed to Crohns Disease in 2015, loop ileostomy

Living with a fistula

Regular, warm baths can help ease the pain and discomfort.  Clean the area with warm water and a soft, disposable cloth rather than a sponge or washcloth.  Ensure the area is properly dried by patting the towel, rather than rubbing it on the area.  Avoid soaps, talcs and creams in the area unless prescribed by the doctor (they may be able to precribe a barrier cream to help protect the skin).  Wearing loose fitting clothes and cotton underwear may help.

The hardest part is where it is, I feel I smell all the time no matter how often I shower and try to keep the area clean.  Plus not many people explain it in detail like they did my stoma.  As it’s my vaginal area it can make intimacy a bit uncomfortable (luckily my partner is very supportive) and examinations from doctors as the area can be tender

Anonymous, diagnosed with UC in 2004 which changed to Crohns Disease in 2015, loop ileostomy

Cushions and pillows may help when sitting down.  You can purchase memory foam or ring cushions, designed to relieve discomfort and pain.

The worst thing about having multiple fistulas is that no matter how many surgeries I have it will never go away.  I will never be rid of the pain I go through daily.  Some days and nights there is nothing I can do but lay there in pain and cry and wish they would put another seton in

Alannah, diagnosed with Crohns 2012, permanent ileostomy, ‘pelvis riddled with fistulas’ and runs a blog here

Dealing with fistulas can take its toll both mentally and physically.  Taking part in sport and swimming may be harder.  It can also affect your feelings about sex and intimacy.  Feeling depressed, frustrated and embarrassed are common.  Your IBD nurse may be the best person to talk to with the most experience of dealing with fistulas.  You may also find talking to a professional counsellor helps.  Online support groups can also be helpful, especially as you can connect with others in the same situation.

The worst thing is definitely having poo in your vagina… how do you discuss that with people?  I’ve been advised not to have a smear test because of it and although I am not sexually active if I were I’d be very concerned and embarrassed!  The abscess in my bum cheek drains and refills and when it’s full I can only lay down meaning I can’t go to work

Tiffany, Crohns diagnosed 2017, rectovaginal and perinanal fistulas, runs

I feel very lucky to not suffer from any fistulas as the people I have spoken to have shown just how hard it is to deal with what they do.  There is help and advice out there for people suffering though so please don’t feel alone.  Anybody who would like to chat or pointing in the right direction as to where they can find some help, please feel free to contact me using the contact form on the home page.  A huge thankyou to the people who have shared their experiences with me for this piece.  You can also find out lots more great information over on the CCUK page here


Stinky Stanley – Coping With Smelly Output

It’s probably one of the biggest fears for new (and old) ostomates and people prior to having ostomy surgery – the smell factor.  The fact is, we all poo and it all smells, but ostomy output can smell pretty strongly and as we have to empty them more frequently there is more chance you will have to do it in a public toilet or at someone else’s house.

Firstly, the bag itself does not smell.  You can not smell anything, so you are not going to put people off you just by sitting next to them.  The bags work well and everything is enclosed so it just doesn’t happen.


Onto the output.  One way of controlling smells is by watching what you eat.  This sheet gives you an idea of things that can be odour producing.  Fish is by far the worst for me, I love it but only eat it sporadically when I know I can deal with the output I am going to get.  You may find other things that cause unpleasant smalls but this is a great base to start from.  Keeping a food diary if you are worried about the smell is a great way to see which, if any of these cause you a particular problem.  Remember, what works for one doesn’t work for all but I haven’t found another ostomate so far who doesn’t suffer from fish!



There are certain products available from your stoma product suppliers which may help.  I have been sampling a few to find out what I think are the best so I could share my views on them with you.  Everyone is different and some things can help some and not others but this will hopefully give you an idea of what is out there to try.

Ostomist Spray/Drops

These are available from Respond.  I had a sample of the drops not long after getting my ostomy and I must say, the tangerine ones are excellent.  I did find that I used them up quite quickly as I tended to put more than the suggested one or two drops in my bag but I was a newbie and worrying about smell so much at the time so I just wanted it to work.  I did like the spray but found it wasn’t quite as effective at neutralising the odour, however I have a friend who swears by it.  Many GP’s are trying to cut costs at the moment and products like this are often being cut from prescriptions.  You can talk to your GP or your stoma nurse if you believe it is a vital product for you to use, but they can also be bought from the website and aren’t overly expensive.

Both of these are available in a variety of fragrances and you can order samples to try, just click the links below

OstoMIST In Pouch  Odour Neutralising Drops

OstoMIST Odour Neutralising Spray



This is advertised as one of the best and many ostomates use it.  It worked alright for me but wasn’t as good as some of the other things I tried.  I also found it quite expensive so if you can’t get it on prescription that may be something to bear in mind.  This is another one where you put a drop or two in your pouch every time you empty.

Order a sample here

Buy Na’Scent here

Brava Lubricating Deodorant


I found this to be a great lubricant and helped make sure when my output was thicker, it didn’t clog up around my stoma.  However, it made no difference to the smell unfortunately.  I would definitely recommend this if you are having issues with pancaking but not one I would use to help with small.

Order your sample/products here

Happy Flush

happy flush.png

This worked really well for me and I have continued to order since first receiving some samples.  You use the product by spraying it into the toilet before you empty your bag and it has definitely been one of the top performers for me.  It comes in a range of smells and I don’t dislike any of them but my favourites are the Rose Bloom and the citrus based ones.  They also have a range of sizes which is great as I use the small ones to take out and about in my bag and the larger ones in my bathrooms at home.  There are a couple of similar products out there now but this is a lovely, family based company who also put a lot of work into raising awareness of the conditions that people that use their product suffer with, so I think it is a great one to receive my custom.  The people that make the product have always been friendly and helpful when I have contacted them, and the oils they use are completely natural and not tested on animals.  Visit the site by clicking the link below

Happy Flush

‘Old Ostomates Tales’

Forget the old wives, there are also a number of ideas that are often talked about in the ostomy communities, that people have found work for them.


Don’t shake your tic-tacs, put them in your bag instead.  The amount of people I have seen suggesting this and saying it works for them is unbelievable but… it does nothing for me!  I am not sure if a different flavour works better (I just used the mint ones) but found it made no difference whatsoever.

Peppermint Capsules

This isn’t one I have tried but my mum was recently put on them and she said it made her trumps and poo smell of mint (sorry Mum!). If it works for someone with all their bowel, it is surely going to work for me who has less than half a bowel connected to my bag!  Will definitely be trying them and I will let you know!

Air Freshener

I generally use the Febreeze or Oust ones but they don’t really do a lot for the smell.  It lasts for about ten seconds and then you can smell it again or it just mingles in so you smell it all mixed together.

Flushing The Toilet

This was a tip I heard from Lauren (founder of Purple Wings) and it is one of the easiest and best ones you can do.  I tend to use the Happy Flush then empty my bag, flush, clean the end of my bag and flush again.  This has been the best combination I have tried.  Getting rid of the cause quickly is key!

Lighting A Match

I have heard this works but haven’t got round to trying it yet.  I am not so scientifically minded to be able to explain how, but I am inclined to believe it helps at least.  Has anyone tried this?  Let me know in the comments!


It has been fun testing out all the products, even if they haven’t worked.  My top three would have to be the Respond OstoMIST drops, Happy Flush and flushing quickly and I will continue to use all three.

Like I said at the start, everyone poos and nobody’s smells like roses so you shouldn’t feel awkward because of it.  I do tend to use a disabled toilet when out to empty my bag in a public bathroom, as I feel more comfortable than in a stall with someone else in the cubicle next to me.  I got my radar key with my first stoma supplies delivery but you can get them from charities like CCUK along with the Can’t Wait cards.  Please don’t allow the worry of smell to cause you to not enjoy your life getting out and about.  It can be nerve wracking at first, but finding something that works for you and with time and trying things being the best things for confidence, it will get easier.

I hope these ideas will have given you some tips and ideas to try, if I have missed anything from my list please let me know in the comments below, or let me know what works for you.

Rachel AKA Rocking 2 Stomas and a great friend of mine, also wrote a post about coping with the smell from a urostomy. Check it out by clicking here