kids

Nicky Champ is our Agony Aunt for first-time mums.

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Thanks to our brand partner, Nestle NAN

It used to take a village to raise a child; now it’s mostly parents Googling things in the middle of the night. Since you’ve landed here via Google, or at least, a link — congratulations! You’re already nailing this parenting gig.

If you’ve graduated past the baby stage, you may have already got wind that parenting is fast turning into a competitive sport, but take a deep breath – as an experienced mum I’ve answered some common questions you might have. This is what you need to know.

Will I ever get a full night’s sleep again?

It’s important I be completely honest with you here. In short, no. Unless you teach them how to go off to sleep by themselves. I learnt this the hard way with my first-born. Fast forward nearly five years and this is still an issue for us. My 14-month-old is a better sleeper than my four-year-old.

By 12 months of age, your child should be sleeping through the night. I know how hard that is to hear when your child isn’t — even at 18 months. The Raising Children Network is an excellent online resource when trying to establish new sleep patterns in toddlers. The key is to make sleep a priority (family-wide), and wean them off any habits like being rocked, fed, patted or cuddled to sleep. Be consistent, keep on trying and eventually, a good sleep habit will take hold.

"The key is to make sleep a priority." Image: iStock.

My baby is almost two, will my body ever ‘bounce-back’?

Are you a trampoline? No. Good, NEXT!

But seriously, I’ve found that post-natal bodies pretty much return to what they looked like before, give or take a dress size. The takeout point to remember is if you didn’t look like Heidi Klum before having a baby, don’t expect to two minutes (or two years) after giving birth. Before I had kids I was so focused on being slim; now my priority is to be strong and fit to keep up with my kids in the decades to come.

"My priority is to be strong and fit to keep up with my kids." Image: iStock.

I’m thinking about giving up breastfeeding (insert reason why here), but I already feel guilty about it. Help.

I can’t tell you what’s right for your body and your life, but don’t let anyone else make you feel guilty about your situation. The World Health Organisation still recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of age, with “continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond”.

If you are struggling, consider consulting with a lactation specialist and if you have decided to move on from breastfeeding, know that there are other options available. For me, I weaned both my kids around ten months of age even though I had wanted to keep feeding until at least their first birthday.

How do I deal with a fussy eater?

One day you blink, and that kid you carried in your belly for nine months will be two and demolishing food at the rate you weren’t expecting until the teenage years. Lacking inspiration, you begin following some mothers on Instagram who seem to have this ‘whole toddler food thing’ nailed.

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STOP, UNFOLLOW. In fact, just stay off Instagram. You cannot compete with people who spend their free time making pirates out of organic strawberries artfully arranged atop sugar-free, wheat-free, dairy-free organic porridge. Your kids are likely to tip the whole thing on the floor, regardless of your Captain Jack Sparrow sultana masterpiece.

The art of deception sometimes works best when it comes to feeding toddlers. Image: iStock.

A great trick I learnt from Jessica Seinfeld's ‘Deceptively Delicious’ book is to serve their dinner in courses. Cut up raw (or lightly steamed) veggies with a high protein dip such as hummus or broad bean and yoghurt, then serve meat, then serve pasta or rice. This way they eat the good stuff first before filling up on carbs.

Oh, and invest in a decent blender and add pureed vegetables to absolutely everything - from spaghetti to brownies - they’re none the wiser.

I’m thinking about taking my child to these musical genius classes all my mother’s group are doing, but I’m worried it’s too expensive. Will my child fall behind if I don’t?

Take a deep breath. There is plenty of time for your child to develop his creative/musical ability. Instead, look for fun ways your child can learn to play and socialise that don’t cost money. Playgroup is a free Australia wide initiative, and mix things up by going to the park, beach, or on a train, bus or ferry ride. I am yet to meet a toddler who doesn’t love public transport.

Side note: Your time where you can drink coffee without the kids smashing crockery in front of horrified patrons is limited. Enjoy cafes while you can.

"Mix things up by going to the park, beach, or on a train, bus or ferry ride." Image: iStock.

My toddler had the biggest tantrum in the shopping centre. Now I can never go back there. 

Shopping centres would be ghost towns if none of us went back after our children misbehaved. Kids are like gremlins. Don’t take them to a supermarket while hungry, and first thing in the morning works best. Maybe at like, 6 am when it’s completely empty?

I’d like to tell you tantrums are just a passing phase. But since my daughter turned four, they’ve really ramped up a notch. It’s less throwing herself on the floor, more stomping off in a huff. While I wait this out, I order my groceries online and look forward to embarrassing her when she’s a teenager.

What advice would you give mums with toddlers?

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