My baby is nearly ready to start solids. Should I go with traditional purées or try baby-led weaning?

Sheena says: “I followed Annabel Karmel with my eldest and it worked really well. But I’ve been trying baby-led weaning with my second and I love it! She eats what we eat, so that means I’m more health-conscious with what I prepare. She’s learnt to chew food and then swallow it, instead of starting with purées then introducing lumps gradually. She’s eating a much wider array of foods and is happy to try anything. She gets so excited to join in with the rest of us. I must admit, I was concerned about choking and I’m aware many paediatricians advise against this. Because of this, I put our household through an emergency first-response and CPR course to put my mind at rest.”

I’ve read a lot about stem cell banking but am still not sure if I should do it…

Sheena says: “Initially this seemed like a no-brainer to me but, once I looked into it further, I changed my mind. The way in which stem cell blood is collected is by clamping the umbilical cord as soon as you have given birth to your baby. This is so there is enough blood in the placenta and cord to collect and bank. When your baby is born, the cord and placenta system contain about one third of your baby’s blood, whilst the remaining two thirds are in your baby. The cord supplies oxygenated blood, which supports the baby until he/she can breathe on their own. After a few minutes the cord stops pulsating and then the placenta detaches. I opted against stem cell collection and instead decided to go with delayed cord clamping as I wanted my baby to have all her blood and iron stores in her body.”

Where is the best place to take little ones for an outing?

Janine says: “During the incredible Dubai winter season, the quiet Safa Park 2, in Umm Suqeim is the place to be! It is a small park with beautiful trees that cast shade over the four playgrounds. Right in the centre, there is a little café that makes fruit and vegetable smoothies (they make an incredible carrot, apple and ginger one for only Dh12!) There are slides, swings, sandy areas and little go-carts for rent. The entire park only has one small gate, which is managed by security so that the little ones cannot escape. Best of all, its free! Our second best is Elevation Burger on Beach Road. They have a large, clean play area upstairs and friendly staff – and their burgers are organic, so practically guilt-free!”

Tess says: “There are so many soft-play areas, but for little babies, the one on the top floor of the Oasis Centre is great as there is space for them to roll around and play without being crowded by toddlers and bigger kids!”

There seems to be such a fuss around registering babies for school as soon as they’re born. Is this really necessary?

Kirsty says: “I think that this used to be true, but with so many new schools opening, I believe parents will have a lot more choice in the future. Popular schools will always have waiting lists, but unless you know you’ll be here for a few years and exactly where you’ll be living, I’d wait. Enjoy their babyhood – you’ve got a couple of years before you need to worry about schools, in my opinion.”

Tess says: “If you have a specific school in mind that your little ones absolutely must attend, then, sure, register them when they turn one. Otherwise I would say don’t get sucked into the hype. Yes, the school process here is annoying – especially if you don’t have the spare cash required to submit applications to lots of schools. But one of the real advantages of the UAE is that we are spoilt for choice with exceptional schools. There is a school out there for everyone – with various curriculums, and excellent teachers and philosophies. Even if you don’t get into your number-one choice, it’s not the end of the world – there are still plenty of fabulous schools out there for your child.”

There are so many prams and travel systems on the market, I don’t know which is best!

Kirsty says: “I decided on a Bugaboo Donkey – having twins meant we were limited in our options. I wanted them to be able to lie down in a bassinet for the first six months to protect their spine, and then to be facing me so I could interact, talk and see their smiles. The Donkey has lots of combinations and worked perfectly with the Maxi Cosi Pebble car seats. It also goes from a double to a single pram.”

Janine says: “I went for a Mamas and Papas Solo – it’s so light and I can fold it with one hand. I also bought a double stroller from Dubizzle for travelling.”

Sheena says: “I opted for a Bugaboo Cameleon, suitable from birth to age three. It’s lightweight, easy to manoeuvre and is built to last. It has a large storage basket at the bottom and you can get various additions, such as cup-holders and storage pouches. The car seat adapters, generally sold separately, mean it can be used as a travel system with many car seats including the Maxi Cosi Pebble.“

I’m six months pregnant and finding it increasingly difficult to sleep. Any tips?

Kirsty says: “When I was pregnant with the twins, an S-shaped pillow was a life-saver. I’d been advised to sleep on my left as it improves the blood flow and nutrition to the baby, and it also helps your kidneys to work more effectively at removing excess fluids and waste from your body – which should help reduce the risk of swollen feet and ankles. It takes a bit of getting used to, though, and my husband and I had to swap sides of the bed, but we did adjust. I am using it again with this pregnancy and I find it comfy and don’t suffer with backache. If I’m lying on the sofa I pop a pillow between my bent knees.”

Sheena says: “Get Epsom salts to put in the bath before sleeping – it’s affordable and available from most pharmacies – and magnesium supplements, which my doctor suggested. I suffered from restless legs syndrome and this really helped – especially towards the end of the pregnancy. A Theraline pregnancy pillow was a must-have in my third trimester. It is around 1.5m in length and sausage-shaped, filled with microbeads that shape around your body. With one end tucked in between my knees and the other end moulded under my ever-growing belly, it would still reach up to my cheek. I especially liked the fact it was anti-allergenic and breathable, which is much-needed when you’re feeling hot. I bought mine from a little shop next to BookMunch Café at Wasl Square.”

I’d like to use a baby carrier but there are so many different types and styles, it’s hard to know which one is best for me and for baby…

Sheena says: “I went to an informative baby-wearing group where I learnt about ergonomic wraps and carriers. Prior to attending, I had bought a Baby Bjorn but found the position wasn’t right for my baby. Next I went for a Boba wrap – a long single piece of fabric. She slept for hours in it, which was great for long journeys and flights. It was perfect for the cooler months as it’s warm. From six months, I started using the Little Frog ring sling, which was easy and great!”

Tess says: “It all comes down to personal preference – with our first we spent a small fortune on a fancy little contraption that would hold Dylan in a number of different ways and we envisaged long walks through the forest with him. He hated it and we eventually gave up on it. One day I tried him in a simple Baby Bjorn and it was a completely different situation – I could have cried with relief. My advice is wait until you have the baby and then physically go and try the baby in them before buying one.”

I’ll be travelling on my own with my baby for the first time and I’m panicking. What are your top tips?

Tess says: “Pack the essentials only and don’t take lots of toys – just one or two of their favourite comfort toys. Then you can just use what’s around you – packets of peanuts make a good crunching noise, and blankets can be used for peekaboo games. Here’s my list of essentials: however many nappies you’d normally use during the time frame, plus two extra; the same with bottles and formula if you aren’t breastfeeding; two complete sets of baby clothes; and, if it’s a night flight, some pyjamas for your child so you can still do a version of your bedtime routine to encourage winding down. And always take a spare top for yourself – trust me, dirty trousers can be ignored, but sitting for eight hours with baby vomit on your top just inches from your nose sucks.”

Janine says: “After having three kids, my only rules are to take my own food and keep my hands free – everything else flies out the window. Make sure that your wet-wipes are packed at the top of the bag, along with a light blanket. If you have to make bottles during a flight, ask someone for help. Also, always ask to be boarded last – having to board a flight first makes the trip just that 45 minutes longer.”

Kirsty says: “Travelling on your own with little ones is not easy, so making friends with the cabin crew is a must as they can be such a great help.”

Choosing a name is so hard... How did you choose yours?

Janine says: “We wanted names for our children that would speak life into their futures – names that were strong and that had meaning... Eventually we chose our great-grandparents’ second names for our children.”

Tess says: “This can be a total war zone in mixed culture families as it needs to sound good in two languages. But when I was eight months pregnant, we heard the same name three times in one day. When we found out it means ‘son of the sea’ it was the clincher for my water and sailing-obsessed husband. And it’s the perfect name for our son.”

Sheena says: “Our first daughter was named after my mum, Tauri Rose, and my husband chose our second daughter’s name, Summer Rose. When we found out we were pregnant again, my husband promised Tauri that she could choose her sibling’s name. She chose Belle, after Beauty and the Beast, so we ended up with Summer Rose Belle.”

How can I boost milk supply?

Janine says: “Fenugreek capsules, skin-on-skin contact, Blackthorn Elixir and oat cookies all the way! I also had to learn to ask for help. In the beginning we tend to try to be superhuman. Here is a lactation cookie recipe:

Ingredients

1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup coconut
1 cup chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups flour
200 grams butter
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg

Method

1 Mix together the sugars, baking soda, oats, coconut, chocolate chips and flour.

2 Melt the butter and golden syrup, add the vanilla and then whisk in the egg.

3 Mix the wet ingredients into the dry, then flatten walnut sized spoonfuls on an ungreased tray with your palm. Bake at 180 C/350 F for 15-20 minutes.”