Friday 24 June 2016

Interview with Sarah Beeson MBE - Award Winning Health Visitor

Just over a month ago you may have seen a competition and review I did of a book called Happy Baby, Happy Family by Sarah Beeson. If you didn't you can see it here. I asked people on the competition and over social media if they would like to ask sarah any questions for an up coming interview with her. I chose 8 questions. One was the winner of the book's question, and also asked 2 of my own. 

Sarah Beeson is an award winning health visitor who has more than 40 years of experience. In 2006 she was awarded a MBE by Queen Elizabeth II. She works around the Staffordshire and London area giving advice to parents and working along side magazines such as Prima Baby Magazine. 

I have met sarah before and got great advice from her and so I was delighted that I was getting to ask her some more questions and also ask her some from my readers. 

What I love about Sarah's advice is that she is really wanting to help people and make parenting easier for us all. Everybody encounters parenting problems and has questions. Even me and other parental bloggers who write about childcare on a daily basis. Sarah and I was speaking about how important it is to know that its perfectly fine and perfectly normal to not know everything. This is why I though this interview was a brilliant idea. Not only giving people some answers to some questions but outlining some common concerns from parents.

Another thing that I think is great about Sarah, is that although sometimes help is needed, she also believes in mothers following their own instinct and also doing things the way they feel best. Its so common to not know what to do when you have lots of people telling you different ways you SHOULD or SHOULD NOT be doing things. But when speaking to Sarah I was given the impression it was important to her to let parents know they should do things the way they are happy with and in their own time.

I hope you enjoy reading the following interview and hope it helps some of my readers out with a few problems. 

The Interview 

My Question - Lily still has One - Two feeds in the middle of the night. I have no idea how I’m going to stop her from having them with out her having a major breakdown. She is so used to me going in and just giving it her and even points to where I sit to feed her if I try to cuddle her instead. Any suggestions about the best way of weaning from them last feeds? 

"I think its fine to be still feeding Lily in the middle of the night if she wants it. There could be many reasons for her to be waking up. Could be teething, could be hungry, she could be disrupted by noise. But if a feed is what settles her then I don’t see that being a issue. 
But if you are wanting to get her to sleep better and not wake up for those feeds I would suggest looking at what she eats. Its important for her to have all 4 food groups a day. With 3 servings of milk, 3 servings of protein and 3 servings of carbs. Each meal should have some type of protein and carbs in it. You could start to introduce eggs or sausage in the morning for her breakfast. I would also suggest that she has a supper before bed. Cereal is a good one to try, or try toast or cheese scones if she is a big fan of cheese." 

My Question  - I really struggle to get Lily to drink much water. She will only have 1 sippy cup a day and would like her to drink more but she isn’t interested, and most the time will hit it away from me. Ive tried putting a little juice in the bottom but she is still doing the same as she does with water.  Any tips? 

"I would change up how she drinks to make it more interesting for her. This could be with using different sippy cups each day. You could start to let her practice using a cup and she also may enjoy drinking with a straw from a cup of water. 
Another fun thing you could do is set up a little tea party with water, let her pour her own water in the cup and by her doing it herself she will be encouraged to drink it. Especially if she is very independent."

My grandson will only fall asleep in my daughters arms before being transferred to bed.. he is 9 months old. Is it possible to rectify this?

"If the parent is quite happy to have the baby fall asleep on them then I think its fine. But make sure that you give him 10-15 min sleep before you move him into his bed. This will make sure he is in a deep enough sleep to be lowered with out waking up.
If the parent is ready to start having the baby fall asleep in his bed then I would suggest a bedtime routine starting to come into place. Having some relax time with mummy before getting put down to sleep will stop that need to be cuddled to sleep. Some nice ways to do this would be to read some stories and sing some soothing songs.
Making sure that the baby is in a relaxing environment also helps. You can buy things that put lights around the room or play lullaby’s and these are always worth a try. It may take a few weeks for this to start to work." 

When my son was very young he never wanted to be put down which of course made things difficult when I had things to do around the house. He also didn't like being in his swing, swaddled or worn so I had to carry him in my arms at all times. Are there any tips that could help me with this if the next time around we have the same problem?

"I would suggest trying to vary what the baby sits in/lays on. The baby may be happy to spend 15 min in a swing, and then 15 min laid onto a matt, then another 15 min sat in a ring. Little distractions like toys or lights you can put around the room may also entertain the baby for longer if you vary what they look at.
You could also try white noise. You can buy thing that will play this sound or some babies enjoy the sound of the washing machine or vacuum.
If the baby gets upset you can use the Up, Down technique to relax the baby before moving him/her onto another activity. Or try the Breathing Exercise. (You can read both technique at the bottom of this post)"

I'd love some advice on caring for teeth? - Especially when you can't even get them to open their mouth for you to see what's happening in there.

"Firstly when the baby/child is quite young its important not to panic to much about brushing them perfectly. As you said at times it can be very tricky to get to there teeth especially if they are reluctant. As long as the baby/child isn’t having to many sugary drinks then there teeth will be fine with just a daily attempt at brushing them twice a day.
You can now buy little electric toothbrushes for babies and these really help with getting the teeth clean. Or if the baby is quite young you can buy little brushes that go on the end of your finger and usually this is a easy way to brush as you can feel what you are doing."

I would love advice on getting a baby to sleep through the night. My granddaughter is 1 year old, and never sleeps for more than a couple of hours at a stretch. She goes to sleep without too much fuss, but then wakes and takes a couple of hours to get back to sleep again, during which time she insists on being held.

"Its always good to look at why she may be waking up? Is she comfortable? Maybe she is in pain? Usually babies feel the pain more in the night than in the day and may not show any symptoms of pain in the day but be effected by it at night. You could always book a check up with a Dr, just to double check this and rule it out.
Then you could look at her diet. Is she getting enough food? She is now needing 3 meals a day and 2 of them need to be 2 courses. Also snacks through out the day and a supper could always help. Refer to the first question to see about some types of food you could offer.
Its important you make sure that you don’t replace the intake of food with to much milk. Take a look at how much milk she is having and you could drop some of that and replace with a solid food. 
As for her taking a couple of hours to get back to sleep. Try The Breathing Exercise. (You can find this at the bottom of the post)" 

I would like to ask how would she suppose we transition from being swaddled to sleep to just being in her sleep sac ?

"You can move your baby into a sleep sac either when you feel ready or when your baby can wriggle out of the swaddle. In summer it may be better to use a thin blanket with the baby which you can tuck in snug. You may find that now your baby is a little older they may want to have a little more room to move around than they would if in a swaddle and so they may like that they have been moved over to a sleep sac." 

At what stage should you worry if your baby doesn't want to sit unaided but is happily crawling and rolling freely?

"My first question would be is your baby long? Longer babies can sometimes take a little bit more time to reach milestones like sitting. One way you can help with this is by sitting on the floor with your legs in a V shape and place your baby sat between your legs resting their back against your body. Do this daily for a few weeks. If you notice that there is still no improvement then I would suggest getting a referral to a physio. Its best to go to your health visitor to ask for this referral."

How do you wean a fussy baby?

"Variety is the key with fussy babies. There is so many foods to try and so don’t be afraid to offer lots of different types of food. Your baby may enjoy softer foods or ones that they can chew on. If your baby refuses the food to begin with I would try it again another day as one day they may not want it but another you may find they will.
You could also let your baby try and feed themselves and so eat in there own time. Place different foods down and let them explore.
Sometimes its best to let them get on with it and not panic or worry to much if they aren't eating it all. The more of a big deal you make of it. The more they may not want to eat it. For lots of weaning ideas you can always go and visit the Annabel Karmel website."

How would you recommend going from co-sleeping to own cot? 15 month old. Should I now wait until he can understand me explaining?

"If you are happy to wait you could wait but I would recommend getting him sleeping in his own bed by 2 year old. If the cot is in your room to begin with, this would make a easier transition to him sleeping on his own. But if he isn’t then try and make sure as many nap times as you can are in the cot.
A routine before bed and story time with mummy may help as he gets that all needed cuddle time before bed and then learns its now time to go into his own bed and sleep. Making the bedroom inviting and cosy for him will also help, showing him that its his own space. He may not go the full night in his own bed straight away and its a good idea to do it gradually rather than expect him to manage the full night alone.
If you still struggle after a while then feel free to get in touch with me via social media." 

Here are the following techniques I mentioned in some of the answers. 

THE UP and DOWN technique
The Up-Down Technique is a really good way to help calm your baby and stop them from crying when they get really worked up or are not very relaxed at bedtime. It mimics what a baby would have felt while being in the womb. Below are the following steps to do the Up and Down technique. 

The steps below are taken from the book Happy Baby, Happy Family which is by Sarah Beeson herself.

Stand up. Hold your baby with one hand under their bottom, placing your thumb and forefinger gentry round their thigh and resting the babies head in the palm of your other hand. When your little one feels secure, move them up and down slightly away from your body, using a rapid up and down motion. 
Your baby may start crying again when you have stopped but may be a lot calmer now to maybe sleep or feed or relax. 

The Breathing Exercise  

I have used this exercise myself and would fully recommend it for calming down yourself and your baby. 

The steps below are taken from the book Happy Baby, Happy Family which is by Sarah Beeson herself.

Holding your baby against your chest with their head on your shoulder, gently sway and take a deep breath, filling your chest so the air pushes out of your stomach, and then exhale pushing the air out and the abdomen in. Repeat at least ten times dropping your shoulders down and away from your ears and closing your eyes if you want to. As your body begins to relax, so will your baby. 

If you find all this information interesting and helpful, and you want to read more from Sarah Beeson. Head here to buy the book Happy Baby, Happy Family.


  1. This is so interesting! Thanks so much for picking my question; I had no idea you could get electronic toothbrushes for babies and toddlers - I'm definitely going to look into that idea further. :)

  2. Great answer to my question, thank you Sarah! Look forward to trying that next time around :)

  3. She's certainly great with all her ideas
    Sounds like a very motivational lady

  4. She's certainly great with all her ideas
    Sounds like a very motivational lady

  5. Lovely interview. She sounds like a lovely lady who knows her stuff :)!

  6. Fantastic interview, very interesting and informative

  7. Theres some great suggestions here The Up and Down technique is one I havent heard of and sounds sensible (kim Styles)

  8. So many interesting questions! I don't have children yet but I'm sure I have all these and more ahead of me :)

    Jess xo | The Indigo Hours

  9. I like that she encourages parents to trust themselves. Its good that she doesn't force certain beliefs on the parents like "a child should be sleeping in their own bed all night" or "shouldn't be breastfeeding" past a certain age, which you do get with many parenting "experts". Every child is different and its best to support the parents with the unique needs of their own child and finding ways to meet those needs while also accommodating family life.

  10. I'd love to read Sarah Beeson's book!
    Also I agree on the water drinking. My daughter wouldn't drink water in a sippy cup, we ended up trying a plastic beaker (which I let her choose) and a straw! It truly did encourage her to drink more water.
    Sarah Beeson is so helpful and I actually find her very inspiring. I'd love to be health visitor. xx

  11. Fab interview, I think I am going to wait a little longer to start the transition into his own bed and I still breastfeed throughout the night, I think it's habit more than anything, he's eaten well during the day and is comfortable x

  12. Great interview. To get the insider scoop from this health professional is fab! My son is 19 now but the health visitor was brilliant at giving advice and reassuring too.

  13. Great interview, some really interesting questions. It's always great to get another insight x

  14. Wow, what an amazing lady. Great interview and really useful tips and advice. Kaz x

  15. Great review I haven't heard of Sarah before but she does seem like a very smart and elegant woman with many advice to spare x

  16. So inspiring! Sarah has given such great advice! Her book sounds wonderful!

  17. Just purchased an electronic toothbrush for my nephew
    I hope I have more sucess than with the manual one

  18. Just purchased an electronic toothbrush for my nephew
    I hope I have more sucess than with the manual one

  19. I've read this Q&A few times now and it's a brilliant interview, definitely looking into buying that book x

  20. I think an electronic toothbrush for young children is a fabulous idea and sets them in good habits