pregnancy & baby festival

O'Reilly Hall, UCD, Dublin
22-23 February 2014, 10am - 5pm

Baby Accessories


We’re delighted to be welcoming Babywearing Ireland to babytalk on Saturday for a sling demo! Babywearing mums and Dads might also enjoy the Sling & Dance Session with Active Mum which will follow.

Babytalk team member Geraldine shares her babywearing adventures…

Image credit: British Consortium of Baby Sling Manufacturers and Retailer

When writing posts for Babytalk I can almost always be relied upon to be entirely impartial, with one proviso – babywearing! I’m so eager to share my love of babywearing it’s impossible to hide my enthusiasm. So I won’t try! Here’s my personal babywearing story.

Before I became pregnant with my daughter I had never really heard of babywearing. I had seen photographs of women in other cultures, busily working while their baby peeped out from layers of richly coloured fabric. “How convenient!” I thought vaguely but I don’t think it ever cossed my mind that I might do that one day. While I was pregnant I read a few articles about wearing your baby and discovered it wasn’t just for mothers from other cultures, it wasn’t even just for mothers! The more I read the more the benefits became apparent; babies love the warmth and closeness, they are more easily soothed and less fussy, it allows the carer to get on with housework and engage with older children, it even exercises the tiny muscles the baby will use when he or she eventually becomes upright themselves!

I was convinced so I bought a deep green stretchy wrap – a long, long piece of soft, stretchy jersey – which I washed, aired and folded up ready for the new arrival. I watched all the tutorial videos and looked forward to trying it out. Since I had been asking family members about babywearing I was also sent a gorgeous handmade mei tai as a gift. A mei tai is a type of carrier originally used in Asia. It’s a large rectangle of patterned cotton with four straps at each corner, quick and easy to use. Now I had two baby carriers and just had to wait patiently for a baby to put into them!

My daughter arrived (twelve days “late”) and after a couple of weeks I decided to try out the stretchy wrap. Major hitch – she didn’t like it! I know now that it takes a little while to get used to wrapping and being wrapped but I was really worried I was somehow hurting her! After a few attempts with only slightly better results I sadly packed up the wrap for another day – or another baby!

Those carriers stayed in the press (and in the back of my mind) for a couple of months as my daughter got sturdier and heavier. She started teething, couldn’t nap (she was never a great one for naps) and I couldn’t get anything done. One particular day I realised that even though it was lunchtime I still hadn’t had breakfast and my arms were half out of their sockets. I had read about “sleepy dust”, the babywearers name for the magical, soporific effect of babywearing. I got the mei tai and somehow managed to get my baby into a back carry. She cried a little as I bobbed about in the kitchen but now I recognised the “tired” cry and knew she wasn’t uncomfortable. Ten minutes later she was fast asleep and continued to sleep for two whole hours. I danced for joy, silently and in slow motion. Now I had two hands free, a happy baby and could finally get something to eat!

As time went on and I became more confident I used my sling more and more. I joined an internet group where I could get advice from other parents and chat about babywearing. From them I learned how to use slings safely and comfortably by following the TICKS checklist (you can see the list above). I also joined Babywearing Ireland, a non-profit group for parents.

I’ve noticed more and more parents wearing their babies around and new vendors and sling types are popping up all the time. My daughter soon outgrew her mei tai and I replaced it with a SSC – soft structured carrier – with backpack style straps and buckles. Both my partner and I can use this as it adjusts to fit different bodies. We’ve worn her around the house, around the city and in the wilds, in buses, trains and airports, on a mountain in Norway and a mountain in Crete. I thought I had become a pro user until Babytalk Director Rachel showed me how she could feed her daughter in their SSC! No need to stop and find somewhere to feed while baby fusses – instant service! My baby is now a toddler and just about to outgrow her SSC but we’re definitely not stopping yet. With a whole world of toddler slings out why would we?

We have some great sling sellers taking part in the festival so you can try and then buy! WARNING – babywearing can be very addictive – once you buy one sling you will want more!

Baby Steps

Once your child takes those first steps, it’s time to get a real pair of shoes, courtesy of Easy Parenting Magazine


Most children start walking between 10 and 18 months, although this varies from child to child. Even though you may want to protect your baby’s feet when they are beginning to walk, it’s important to avoid structured shoes until your child is ready to walk outdoors. While still learning indoors, bare feet are good for grip, or soft-soled booties or socks will suffice. Once your child is able to walk unaided or walk about most of the day, you may need to invest in a proper, protective-soled pair of shoes.

Paediatricians and podiatrists recommend that children’s early shoes allow for natural movement and development of the feet. Medical studies show that they should be as close as possible to walking barefoot, while still allowing for protection from the external environment (such as cold temperature, hard floors, outside surfaces, etc). To achieve this, shoes should be as soft and flexible as possible and also allow the child’s feet to breathe.

Feet take time to develop

It takes about 18 years for a human’s foot to develop fully. The foot contains 22 partially formed bones at birth. These are spongy and soft and at a few months old the foot can even be pushed out of shape by a tight sock, restrictive sleep suit or sheets! By about four years, the bones will have increased to 45 partially fused bones, but it will take the next 14 years for these bones to fuse together to form the adult foot with 26 bones (28 if you include the sesamoid bones at the base of the big toe).

Buying well-fitted shoes, from a trained shoe fitter is hugely important as ill-fitting shoes can affect the alignment of bones. There is no such thing as an average foot, and feet change as they mature. Feet vary in arches, insteps and toes too, so getting the shoes fitted correctly is a must for your child’s comfort.

The longer a child walks without shoes, the more they are allowed to develop naturally. Experts recommend letting your child go barefoot or sock-covered for as long as possible to allow tiny feet to develop for longer. Of course, when they are eager to get outside and exploring, it’s time to protect their feet with proper shoes. It’s also important to check children’s feet every four to six weeks to ensure their shoes still fit correctly. Children’s feet grow, on average, two full sizes a year until they are four years old.

Tips for buying first shoes

A very flexible sole
Bend the shoe in your hand, checking it for flexibility. Ideally, you should be able to fold the shoe in half. For outside wear, the sole should be thick enough to protect baby’s feet from sharp or rough objects. Children before the ages of four years of age should be in a flexible shoe in order for muscles to develop without restriction of movement. Breathable uppers and lining

Select shoes that are preferably leather or canvas (not synthetic). Have a look at where the leather is cut and feel the leather with your fingers. The synthetic leather is smoother and has a synthetic (usually black) material backing. Using shoes that do not breathe can cause bacterial problems with your child’s feet at an early age.

No high-tops and definitely no heels!
High-top (ankle) shoes or boots can restrict the movement of a baby’s ankles, possibly leading to developmental problems. And heels can drastically effect the development of your child’s feet. Look for plenty of toe room. Toe room is not only important in making sure that baby’s feet have room to grow, but also baby needs to be able to wiggle his/her toes freely. It’s best to have about 1cm of space (or one finger width) in the toe area.

A comfortable interior
Put your fingers inside of the shoe and check for any hard seams or ridges that might irritate your baby’s foot.

No arch support
Arch support should not be built into shoes for children under the age of three (unless directed otherwise by a professional). The arches, bones, and ligaments of the feet are still developing, and the feet need to grow and develop naturally without being artificially supported. As the child progresses from three years of age upwards arch support becomes more important.

Expert Advice

“A baby’s first pair of shoes should fit well around the ankle and instep to support the foot in walking, this should have a little room at the toes. Use big toe or second toe if longer as length guide and leave approx 5mm more in length. The sole of the shoe should be stable and quite stiff on the shank (this is just after the heel area). It should also flex at the front of the shoe. Most babies toe walk (up to three years), but getting the right shoe can help support the foot and ankle in their first steps.”

Veronica Daniels, Podiatrist


The Hospital Bag

A pregnant friend of Babytalk confessed that in the last weeks before her baby arrived she began to worry that they hadn’t enough pots and pans in their new apartment! I think a lot of expectant parents can identify with this kind of anxiety, fretting over what the baby might need when it arrives, writing endless lists. For example, what to put in The Hospital Bag. First time parents can find preparing the hospital bag especially daunting – what might you need? What if you didn’t bring it? Stress!

There’s no need to be stressed! Here at Babytalk we have a mixture of birth experiences including hospital birth and homebirth to call on and we all agree that while there are a few things you definitely need, less is more. So, we’ve come up with a list that covers the at-home part of your labour and then includes things you need for the birth whether you plan to be at home or in the hospital.

We also have a great recipe for a refreshing drink called Labour Aid that mothers swear by.

It’s a good idea to check with your hospital about some of their policies as this will help you decide what items can stay at home and what should go in your hospital bag. Do they allow eating and drinking during labour? Will they provide a birthing ball, hot baths or birthing pool?

What did you think was indispensable when you gave birth? Is it on our list? Let us know in the comments!

Labour at Home

Clothing and comfort
Old towels
Old large t-shirts or button up shirts
Old underwear

Surge (Contraction) Management
Birthing ball
Yoga mat
TENS machine
Birthing pool (with pump, flexible tubing, a good hot water supply and a sieve!)

Music/relaxation CDs / self-hypnosis CDs
Aromatherapy oils
Objects to focus on (photos, favourite items, lucky charms!)

Old sheets
Hairclips and brush
Drinks (Labour-Aid)
Snacks (think light and healthy)
Food for everyone else (birth partner, midwife, doula…)
Mobile phone (fully charged!)

Birth at Home

Warm socks
Vest, hat, blanket and babygro for baby
Cotton wool
Almond / Olive / Coconut oil
Nipple balm and breast pads or formula, bottles, steriliser, etc.
Maternity pads
Nice dressing gown (handy for when visitors arrive!)

Birth in the Hospital

Warm socks
Vest, hat, blanket and babygro for baby
Cotton wool
Almond / Olive / Coconut oil for baby
Nipple balm and breast pads
Maternity pads
Nice dressing gown (handy for when visitors arrive!)
Slippers and extra pyjamas
Extra clothes for baby
Phone charger
A little cash for parking meters, taxis, etc.


Labour Aid

¼ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup honey
¼ tsp of salt
one or two magnesium or calcium tablets, crushed
4 cups of water

Mix the ingredients in a jug and voila! You can chill it, make it into ice pops, substitute two cups of raspberry leaf tea for two of the cups of water or come up with your own twist!