Tell me a bit about your background and why you decided to start Baby Steps?
I am a Paediatric Nurse, Health Visitor, Infant Massage Instructor and Mummy of two!
I’ve been in the Health Service over 22 years and started Baby Steps back in 2006. I was Health Visiting in central London at the time and services were becoming more stretched. I saw the need for a relaxed, friendly service helping address common parental concerns, as often families were not getting the support they needed.
I also wanted to create a role which could be flexible in the future for when I hopefully had a family. I’ve always continued to work in the NHS too and think it can offer an amazing service. Baby Steps offers Baby and Child First Aid and Weaning courses. Courses can be in the comfort of parents’ homes or at local venues. They can be with friends and family or just for the parents themselves.
I feel incredibly lucky to do something I love so much. Seeing the reassurance and confidence the Baby Steps courses give, alongside my A&E nursing is so rewarding. Right from Day one it has felt such a privilege to work closely with families. It is often the little things that makes a difference.
Do you still work in the NHS?
Yes, absolutely. I do shifts regularly in Chelsea and Westminster Paediatric Accident and Emergency where I have worked since 2000. I really love the buzz of A&E. The variety is amazing; caring for children with day to day illness and injuries right through to life threatening conditions. When it is your own child nothing feels minor and I really understand that!
How do you spend your time when you are not running Baby Steps?
I am a wife and Mummy to Isabella age 8 and William age 5. I knew I would love being a Mummy but it has been a billion times better than I imagined. It’s extremes – amazingly wonderful and the hardest job ever all at the same time! Being a parent has massively helped my work too.
I am really enjoying being a school Mummy and help with school trips and listening to reading each week in their class.
I love girlie time with my friends, being outside and going for lovely walks, to shop, watch box sets, eat chocolate, cook yummy food for family and friends. I love the beach and try to go whenever I can with the family to blow the cobwebs away!
What sort of topics do you cover in your courses?
As a parent, Nurse and Health Visitor, I have combined all that experience that to make the courses the most practical and helpful for parents, grandparents and babysitters. The courses are bespoke and tailored to the age of the children of those attending and if there are any specific concerns or medical conditions.
The Baby and Child First Aid course covers all the main First Aid topics; including burns, scalds, cuts, bruises, allergies, ingestions and head injuries. I am passionate about accident prevention and home safety. So as well as covering the important First Aid I very much focus on how to prevent the accidents in the first place! I also cover temperatures, Meningitis and aspects of childhood illness.
I have an army of manikins and everyone gets to learn and practice the CPR and choking techniques. We chat about where to get help, what to keep in a First Aid kit and medicine cabinet – everything really! Everyone is given a First Aid manual and loads of info to refer to after the course.
The Weaning course really aims to ensure parents feel excited not daunted about this lovely stage. I go through step by step how to introduce solids, the various options; purees, mash, finger foods, Baby Led as it is really confusing these days! I explain how babies can have family food from early on to save hours preparation and massively encourage the fun, social aspects of eating! Everyone gets a booklet of all the info covered with recipes, food ideas to refer to along their Weaning journey. We chat about teething, cups, dummies and other things that can be happening around this time. You can see parents shoulders drop through the course as they can see it actually will be fun!
With both courses I have a stack of demo stuff again to make the courses as useful as possible!
Since you launched Baby Steps what has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
I think like most parents it’s juggling time! Sometimes I stay up to late doing emails or preparation for Baby Steps once the children are in bed, but it’s important to switch off. Also I have so many ideas for Baby Steps and I need to remember to take it step by step!
If you could give one piece of advice to a new parent what would it be?
To go day by day. Everyone says when your babies are tiny the time goes so quickly and you are often too tired to take that in. The tricky parts are just a phase but it can be hard to see that at the time. Mine are both at school now and I am so pleased I made the most of my time with them when they were small. Part time work kept me sane but I am a Mummy above and beyond anything. You do get more balance back as they get older.
When it comes to home safety there is a lot of equipment out there, what do you think is the most worthwhile to buy and why?
Stair gates are so important. Children can move way before they understand the dangers and we see terrible accidents in A&E from stairs. Corner cushions – I know they are ugly but coffee tables are big culprits of head injuries!
A lot of stuff isn’t necessary but it’s preventing the big accidents and reducing your stress levels as you can’t have eyes in the back of your head!
Why should a parent come along to one of your courses?
To feel reassured and confident! They are super practical course and parents are buzzing with tips and ideas following the courses. I have loved it so much when parents have said they feel ’empowered’ from the First Aid course or ‘excited’ about Weaning. Sometimes parents can have had a tough time and the courses can be a turning point to getting the advice and confidence they need. I am always happy to chat through issues on a 1:1.
Where do you see Baby Steps going in the future?
I love the group courses but I also love the 1:1 appointments supporting parents with different issues related to health and nutrition. I am doing more now online (Facetime, What’s App video) so am excited to think I could help parents all over the world!
My interests in Home Safety and Nutrition are growing all the time I am so excited to be passing information on to families. I am on a mission to ensure parents are as fully informed as possible when making decisions about their child’s safety. Often all they see is the marketing and not the potential risks with some products.
As far as Nutrition goes it is huge for all of us as we learn more and more how what we eat impacts on our health, sleep, moods, energy so for growing little brains and bodies even more so. I am so keen for babies to build a good healthy relationship with food early on and for families to enjoy happy meals together.
I haven’t quite got there yet but am planning to run First Aid courses for children in schools and for parents to be able to learn with their children or arrange for a group of kids at home. It’s an amazing opportunity for them to start lifelong learning of First Aid.
You can find out more about Baby Steps via the Website and don’t forget to follow Baby steps on social media for regular updates on upcoming courses @babystepsx
The Ealing Mummy and Baby Steps are running a free event Ealing Mum’s Mush Up on Tuesday 7th November 2017 at the Grove Pub in Ealing 12 midday. Come and join us in a friendly and relaxed environment with taster sessions on how to deal with choking and find out a bit more about weaning. You will also receive a free goodie bag. Limited tickets available, please book your tickets via Eventbrite.