Blog : Little Lilypad Co

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The Little Lilypad is a lifestyle blog mostly written by a mum to two beautiful, cheeky and entertaining daughters. It is sometimes written by the Man on the Pad or our baby bloggers and occasionally we accept guest posts. There is frequently talk of shoes and clothing (we love fashion and savvy shopping), chocolate (who doesn't love chocolate) education and swimming (we love this too). It is hopefully helpful, sometimes funny and always honest.

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  1. We have written a lot about swimming and alot about asthma but we are learning new things all the time. There was a time when I wouldn't have taken my little one swimming when they had a cold or had just had their injections but as we have come a long way on our parenting (and swimming) journey, I am more confident about when I should and shouldn't take her swimming. I am also learning new things about asthma all the time and a relatively new one for me is that asthma and eczema are linked. Although it’s not exactly clear what causes eczema, we know that it tends to run in families, therefore is part of your genetic make-up. However, there are many things that can cause it to flare up, from cold weather to your favourite perfume or jumper. Changes in temperature, feeling unwell and stress can also make your eczema worse.

    Atopic eczema affects around 20% of children under five years, making baby swimming a question for some parents. Is it still ok to take your baby swimming if they suffer from eczema? It’s not nice to see your child have to miss out on something they love so much, but the good news is that swimming doesn’t have to irritate the condition further. In fact, evidence shows that it can actually help some children.

    What do the Professionals Say?

    Asthma UK advise that we all need to try to be as active as we can be every day and the recommended amount of gentle swimming is two and a half hours a week, or half an hour a day. Although it is work noting that chlorine used in pools or cold pools may be triggers for some people with asthma.

    The National Eczema Society has recently advised that diluted bleach can reduce bacteria on eczema-affected skin, and this process is replicated by the chlorine in swimming pool water. Salt water is a natural disinfectant and can have a similar effect. Ask when chlorine is added to the pool so you can avoid swimming straight afterwards, when the chlorine level will be at its highest. 

    Both the British Association of Dermatologists and the National Eczema Society advise you to avoid taking your baby swimming if their skin is especially irritated. Apply emollient ointment before swimming; and rinse and apply more emollient after swimming. I always found it beneficial to have a towel handy that I could wrap my baby in straight away, and to have a toy to keep their hands busy and distract them from the urge to scratch.

    Baby Swimsuits

    You can protect your baby’s skin further with a long-sleeved and long-legged swimsuit. Look for one which is designed with as few scratchy seams as possible, and, if it is being worn outdoors, which has 50+UV protection. As well as stopping your baby from being as slippery as a fish in the water, a swim suit will help stop emollient ointment being rubbed off, and protect delicate skin from sunburn if you’re swimming outdoors.

    Allergies

    Benefits of Swimming with Eczema 

    I recently talked about the many benefits of baby swimming and these are just as true for babies with eczema as for those without. Studies have linked having eczema to a higher risk of developing asthma. Swimming helps control the effects of asthma by strengthening the cardiovascular system, so is great for eczema babies.

    Trust Your Judgement

    You know your child better than anyone. You’re the one looking at their skin and applying cream, so you’ll know straight away the effect swimming has on it. Pay attention to the signs and use your judgement. It may be that short baby swimming sessions have no adverse effect but that there’s a tipping point when their skin becomes irritated. You could find that their eczema reacts differently depending on the pool due to various chemicals and temperatures. Outdoor pools tend to be cooler and therefore less irritating. If one pool doesn’t work, try another.

    Speak to your doctor about baby swimming with eczema. Try a variety of barrier and moisturising ointments until you find the right combination that works for their skin (this is true even if you’re not taking your baby swimming).


    There might not be a cure for asthma or eczema but its effects can certainly be managed so you and your baby can enjoy all the fun of swimming together.

  2. It could be argued that there are many “most” nerve-wracking times in a parent’s family life, from your child being born, to their first steps, leaving them with someone else and now, waiting to hear about school places for both infant and senior school (I didn't plan that very well did I?)

    LLP - Playing the school place waiting game

    Aside from having two new lots of uniforms to buy, the stress of actually getting the school place we want hasn’t exactly made us go grey overnight, but it has certainly added to my husband's silver stripes, as my youngest calls them (thanks, princess!) So. Much. Pressure. Will we get our first choice, or even our second or third? Are the horror stories from parents of previous years about massive oversubscription true? Is that red rated school really as bad as Ofsted say and, if so, can we afford private school, because I am quite certain my sanity can’t afford home schooling.

    Private School

    Fed up with the stomach-churning sensation that surely means an ulcer forming, I have come up with a variety of distractions.

    1. Play School Brag Bingo. Score points for every time you hear a nursery parent confidently name drop a governor they know. Score double points if they know a head teacher.
    2. Look into the cost of private education. Sit down. Debate whether avoiding a poor school is worth paying off a re-mortgaged house for the rest of your life.
    3. Investigate the process of home schooling.
    4. Investigate the cost of hiring a tutor to home school.
    5. Give evil looks to every old person you see living in catchment area.
    6. Consider moving.
    7. Write a list of reasons that “bad” school may actually turn out to be a blessing in disguise. At least you won’t have to fork out hundreds of pounds for school trips each year.
    8. Eat cake. Not a new distraction, but a good one all the same.
    9. Start running. The endorphins exercise release feel almost as good as the smug satisfaction you get from arriving at the school gates in running shoes that have actually seen some action. And it will help negate the effects of that cake
    10. Try to avoid turning too much to wine for solace. Actually, do what you like - I’m not going to judge (though I bet you a bottle of Prosecco that there will be a parent at the school gates who will. It’s ok, you don’t want your child to play with theirs anyway).

    Keep things in perspective. Your child’s life won’t be over if they don’t get into your first choice of school. Life is all about rolling with the punches. Who knows, your child could turn out to be the next Muhammed Ali.

    Speaking of keeping things in perspective, I love this letter Harmony Hill Primary School sent pupils recently, reminding them that they are worth more than a grade. Whether or not your child is accepted does not come down to how good a parent you are, but factors largely outside your control.

    And in the end, while education IS a serious matter, don't take this blog post too seriously .... well except the bit about cake, I am very serious about that!

     

  3. I’ve talked about the many benefits of baby swimming before. It’s a pastime I love sharing with my girls but I know that not all children are keen on going in the water. For example, my friend has a son who had an inexplicable hatred of water – even baths. Baby swimming sessions for them were fuelled with stress, and it wasn’t until he was older that he came around to the idea of swimming for pleasure.

    What can you do if you have a child who hates the water? Should you encourage them to swim and if so, how do you do it? Here are five effective ways you can turn your stubborn swimming hater into a frolicking fish.

    Lose the Structure

    You don’t have to have a formal process to swim. If swimming lessons are the worst half an hour of your week, stop. Take a breath. Start swimming for fun. Forget lessons and go when your child feels like it, just for pleasure. Take a pool noodle and have fun races, or tow them around the pool as if they were a speedboat.

    Play with Water

    I learnt this trick from my friend with the water-hating son. When even bath toys wouldn’t encourage him into the water she turned it into a game by incorporating it into their daily routine. He would “help” with the washing (some face cloths in a tub of soapy water), and get involved in his older brother’s water pistol fights.  A paddling pool in the backyard in summer was the bridge she needed to encourage him into a bigger pool, and now swimming is a highlight of their weekends.

    Try a Different Location

    It might be something as simple as a cold changing room, or a too-large pool, that puts your child off swimming. Try a different location, lots of baby swimming schools have a variety of locations that make this easier for you. Make the most of available swimming pools on your summer holiday, when they may be encouraged by seeing other children having fun swimming outdoors in the sun.

    Make it Social

    Peer pressure can work wonders with encouraging reluctant children into the water. Take them to watch older siblings, or arrange to go swimming with a friend who has children of a similar age.  Go into the water with your child so you can stay close to them and show them it’s nothing to fear.  Older children may feel awkward putting their changing bodies on show. Don’t make a big deal of it, just occasionally float idea (no pun intended) that they go swimming with a friend, and be sensitive to their feelings.

    Try Someone Else

    If you have tried all of the above and still can’t encourage your child to swim, get someone else to take over whether it’s a specialist swimming instructor who excels in teaching reluctant swimmers, or your dad who has endless patience where yours may wear thin. Though you may want it to be, especially if you love the water, it doesn’t have to be you that gets your child to enjoy swimming. We love our children more than anyone else on the planet, but I’ve learned that we’re not always the best people to convince them to do things!

    Have patience. Swimming is such a healthy pastime that it’s worth persevering. 

    LLP - 5 Clever Ways to Encourage Your Reluctant Child to Swim

  4. With two children of school age, Ofsted is a word that we know well so we were interested (and a little horrified) to learn that following an Ofsted-run review of UK children's services, 19 out of 74 were found to be "inadequate" and none were classed as "outstanding", Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to take action. A number of high-profile deaths of at-risk infants over the past few years has seen children's services thrust into the public spotlight and the latest announcement, which will allow high-performing local authorities, trusts or charities to take over failing children's services, is seen as a landmark reform. What, however, will these changes mean for those working in social work jobs who deal with vulnerable children and their families on a day-to-day basis? Let's try and explain: 

    Unwelcome news

    Bridget Robb, the CEO of the British Association of Social Workers, has stated recently that, although government involvement in child protection and children's services is a positive step, the effective "privatisation" of the sector is unwelcome. She affirms that, rather than seeing children's services as failing and wading in heavy-handedly, the government would perhaps do well to scrutinise funding cuts within the sector and investigate the reasons why social workers are increasingly stretched as a profession. Read Ms Robb's comments here.


    Privatisation

    Vital children's services cut

    Shadow Education secretary Lucy Powell waded into the debate last week, warning that Mr Cameron's proposals are merely smoke and mirrors, attempting to take focus away from the government's slashes to early intervention programmes, which play an important role in the prevention of young people entering care in the first instance. She pointed to the budget for children's services in the north-west, which received a shortfall of £160 million during the last five years. This directly impacts on the working conditions of employees in front-line social work jobs, who are dealing with closing children's centres and cuts in children's mental health support. Read her interview with Buzzfeed here.

    Outsourcing children's services

    The proposal to outsource children's services to trusts, charities and other bodies is not a new one. In education, David Cameron's "academy" brainchild is already being rolled out in schools up and down the country and is being heralded as a huge success. From this model, we know that management structures will be centralised and more graduates will be recruited into social work jobs. It remains to be seen whether these reforms will provide the investment that vulnerable children and their families so desperately need. The Guardian is wary; you can read Patrick Butler's commentary here.

    What do you think?