Ever thought about learning some Makaton with your little one? It's a great tool to encourage communication and let little ones express themselves when they haven't developed the words yet. My first baby would use the sign for 'bird' long before she could say the word and I still remember the joy on her face looking out the bedroom window spotting them flying and happily pointing and signing 'bird, bird, bird'!
The lovely Nicola aka @baileyandthebabies has kindly filmed some Makaton she uses with her little ones for us to learn. So sit and enjoy, hopefully it will be a useful tool for you too!
Nicola is a mum of three, she is navigating life with twins and also is passionate about raising awareness of Down Syndrome. We had a little chat with her about her beautiful family and life as a mum..
Tell us a bit about you...
Hi! So I am Nicola over at Bailey and the Babies I am a mum of three. I have a little boy Lucas who is age 6 and I have twin girls Harper and Quinn who are now 2 ½ years old. We have a very unique situation, because when we had our twin girls we found out at birth that one of them has Down Syndrome, which only occurs one in one million chance, so we have a very rare set of twins!
Over on my account I talk everything around Down Syndrome because we didn’t know that much about it when we first got Harper's diagnosis and we have learnt a lot of information. A lot of the things we got told aren’t quite true so we’d like to change the perception of what Down Syndrome is. I talk all things motherhood as well and I am partial to a motherhood hack or play activity!
How have you as a mum had to adapt to parenting Lucas, Quinn and Harper?
I think personally motherhood can sometimes be quite difficult. I remember when I first had Lucas it was a massive shock learning to look after another little human being and not just yourself. I think having the twins second time round you definitely learn how to be really organised. We had a very strict routine, I think I would have coped very differently if the girls were first. I think having Lucas I got to understand what motherhood was about so there was less adaption when having twins. The twin aspect- it’s more of the practical things that you don’t really think about, so like a double side by side buggy you can’t get into all shops, or you go to a supermarket and there aren't many twin trollies. It’s all that aspect that we’ve really struggled with!
In terms of having Harper, who has Down Syndrome, I don’t feel personally we did much adapting, I have always just treated Harper the same as my other two children. I’ve understood that her development has been a little bit slower, but I think every child is unique in the way that they develop so I just do play activities, or something according to where she’s at development wise the same as I would any of my children. Harper doesn’t really do things differently, it's just that she can take longer to progress into those milestones.
What has been your biggest challenge in meeting the needs of your three little ones?
One of the biggest challenges I have faced having three children is just the chaos of general life. They are all at very different stages- we’ve got Lucas who is at school so there's the practicalities of school runs and homework and all of that aspect. In the meantime there’s two babies at home, and I also work so the general juggling of everybody's needs is what one of the main challenges has been for me!
Where have you turned to get the support and advice that you need?
One of the main areas I have massively felt support has to be social media. I know a lot of people can talk about the negatives of social media but for me that has been a massive outlet. We’ve met, particularly with things to do with Down Syndrome, some amazing parents who I like to call friends now even though I have never met them. We talk on a regular basis, a lot of our children are around the same age so we talk about different development techniques with children, different play activities- what worked for us, what works for them. They just get it. It’s hard- I think anyone who doesn’t have a child with additional needs, its just something that you’ll not truly understand unless you are in that persons shoes. The little things you experience and worry about are often difficult to a typical child.
So Social media has been amazing. I love Instagram, but I have also got a lot of groups on facebook that are twin groups- which has helped talk about different practicalities, even just simple things such as discount codes- buying for two is a lot more expensive. I have also got groups on facebook that are linked to Down Syndrome, so that’s one of the main supports that we have had.
What’s the one message you would like to get out there to other parents?
If I could give parents advice it would be to trust your instincts and judge your child based on their own ability, I always think every single child is special regardless of where you think they should be at. Go with the flow!