Fatema Ezahra Igli, 26, Moroccan, midwife and mother of one

I arrived in Abu Dhabi in 2017. My husband Mohammed Erradi is a materials inspector at an airline.

I studied midwifery in Morocco and used to practice even during the years I was studying. So, over the course of some three years I must have helped hundreds of women with their babies. I have done labour and delivery management, neonatal and paediatrics care, neonatal resuscitation, breastfeeding assistance and more.

Although I have a bachelor’s degree in midwifery, I was a bit apprehensive when I was pregnant last year. I do not have my extended family with me here in the UAE so I knew I would have to take care of the baby all on my own and do all the household chores as well. Apart from that, I knew that my body would need rest after my delivery.

Being a new mother was a bit overwhelming initially, says Fatema, but her experience as a midwife helped her recover quickly

Then just after Tassnim was born, Covid struck. I was planning to be with my parents in Morocco to enjoy and participate in all the festivities that are usually done for mothers and newborns. Unfortunately, the government restricted travelling three weeks after my delivery and we were compelled to stay back.

Handling all the responsibilities of a new mother was truly a bit overwhelming initially but the experience I had in my career helped me a lot.

Tassnim is a year old now and she is a happy and playful child. When she grows up, I will surely tell her the story of how she was born at a time when the whole world was affected by a pandemic. But her parents stayed strong for her because she is the most precious thing to us.

My experience at Babyshop

When I came to know that I was getting the opportunity to meet Babyshop’s personal shopping expert (PSE), I was very excited as I had a lot of doubts that needed to be cleared (please read my conversation with the PSE below). Fortunately the PSE was extremely helpful, and provided us with good advice, making our shopping experience a pleasure. I found some good products including Mustela Shampoo & Body wash, Giggle baby’s bottle, Giggle baby’s drinking cup and Tommee Tippee pacifiers. I must say, the products are of very good quality and are useful for the daily use of my baby as she grows. The experience of shopping at Babyshop was exciting, not just for me but also for my child. She enjoyed exploring the store admiring the vast variety of stuff there.

Fatema: Since summer is approaching, which cream is good for our baby?

PSE: You have to first check if your baby’s skin type is dry, oily or mixed. Also, a baby’s skin is sensitive so you should use a water-resistant skin cream. Since the cream is best absorbed when the skin is wet, it is better to apply cream all over the body after the bath.

Fatema: How can I wean her from a nipple bottle to a sippy cup?

PSE: Ensure you use the same brand when you make the transition because babies often do not like a change from what they are used to. Use a sippy cup with a silicon-tipped spout so nothing spills. It should also have handles so that she can grasp it firmly. Look for bottles that are easy to clean.

Fatema: Which is a good shampoo for her?

PSE: Baby’s scalp is very sensitive. You need to use a gentle cleansing gel which has a shampoo and a shower gel. Make sure it is hypo allergenic.

Maryam Sajedi, 38, American-Iranian, aesthetician and mother of one

I moved to Dubai from the UK in 2009. Sophie, my first child, is nine months old. As a first-time mum who has no family here, I was planning to have my in-laws visit us from the UK to help us out for the first few months. But when the pandemic closed the borders, that couldn’t happen and I was disappointed.

That’s when my husband, Robert, and I realised that we would have to do everything by ourselves. We decided to step up and make the best of the situation.

My friends were so excited about my pregnancy and they’d planned a baby shower. But since that also couldn’t happen due to social distancing, Robert and I celebrated together at home. We ordered the decorations, cake and food, and had a Zoom call with our family.

Respecting social distancing regulations, Maryam and Robert decided to hold a virtual baby shower with their family on Zoom

To prepare for parenting, we attended a few online baby courses. I did a 30-minute yoga session on YouTube every day and tried to be as active as possible.

After Sophie Grace was born in June, Robert was working from home, so he did his best to sort things out and help me. I had few friends who cooked me food and left it at the door.

Since it was just the three of us, it was a great bonding time for our small family. We proved how much love and care we had for each other and I’m proud of it.

My in-laws came in December and stayed with us for six weeks. I loved watching them bond with Sophie. Now they have taken their special bond online. They are on call with her when she has her dinner or when she is playing and even when she takes a bath.

Sophie is now nine months old. Despite all the hardships, my pregnancy was a beautiful journey because we had decided to look at the positive side of any situation.

I have a baby book in which I write down all that happens in Sophie’s life for her to read later. Being featured in Friday magazine will be one of the highlights in the book.

My experience at Babyshop

Once you read the crux of my conversation with the PSE at Babyshop below, you’ll realise that shopping for Sophie overwhelms me as I’m never sure what’s best for her. So when I came to know that an expert was going to help me shop at Babyshop, I was relieved as for the first time someone who has enough knowledge about baby products was going to help me make the right choice. The stair gates that I picked up, for instance, are absolutely great as they are not only easy to fix but ensure Sophie is not in danger while she crawls around.

Sophie loves her Dr Brown sippy cup. She holds the handles and tries to drink water on her own. Now I regret not having someone like Babyshop’s shopping expert help me when I was shopping for Sophie before I delivered. I had to rely on the internet for information. I am so glad Babyshop provides this service now. It could help a lot of parents.

Maryam: My baby has just started to crawl and is all over the place. I am scared she will try to climb the stairs in our house. How can I baby-proof my house?

PSE: You can use a complete safety kit which includes material for lining the rough and sharp edges of furniture and corners of walls. The kit also has locks for cupboards, shelves and appliances like fridges so that she won’t be able to open them. 
We have soft knee and elbow pads specially designed to protect her soft skin while 
she crawls.

For the stairs, the best option would be to keep metallic gates which can be adjusted to the width of your walls, so that the baby can’t have access to the steps.

Maryam: She has just started teething. Should I start brushing immediately? How can I take care of her teeth?

PSE: You can use a finger brush to gently clean the teeth as soon as they appear. It is equally important to take care of her gums. Clean the teeth after every meal. As the teeth start to grow, you can switch to a soft toothbrush. By the age of one you can start using toothpaste.

Maryam: Since we can’t go out much, how can I keep her entertained in our garden itself?

PSE: There are lot of outdoor toys like swing and slides. You can also have toy sandpits, jungle gyms and water toys. In fact, inflatable pools for children are our bestsellers every summer. These toys can be used for up to three children, so it is perfect for a small and cosy play date.

Fenny Patel Adbe, 31, Indian, homemaker and mother of one

I came to know that I was pregnant in November 2019. The same day I had to travel to attend my cousin’s wedding and I was very excited because I could break the news personally to my family.

Till the third trimester, everything went smoothly. We had a baby shower in February 2020 with our small group of close friends who are almost like family. They were very helpful and supportive throughout my pregnancy.

I got admitted 15 days before my expected date and wasn’t prepared for the finale yet. But when I finally held my baby in my arms, everything seemed worth it.

My husband Umesh is a general and laparoscopic surgeon. Since he used to be exposed to a Covid environment daily, we had to be more careful taking all precautions when he used to return from work.

With her husband Umesh working as a surgeon, Fenny had to take extra precautions in caring for Naisha

Naisha is now eight months old. In retrospect, all I can say is that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. I would never have imagined that I would care for my first born single-handedly. Luckily, Naisha is not a troublesome child so it’s easy for me.

Sometimes I feel emotional that my parents, in-laws and other relatives haven’t seen her in person as yet. All of them are so desperate to hug and cuddle her once. But since the entire world is going through a pandemic, we should learn to count our blessings and hope everything ends soon, and families are reunited.

My experience at Babyshop

From hygiene and skin care products, to educational toys and clothing, the store takes care of every need of parent-to-be as well as parents. But for me, my interaction with the shopping expert will always be special as she provided us, first-time parents, with a lot of relevant information regarding the various products.

She gave me some very valuable tips and tricks regarding baby weaning feeds, toilet training, sensory motor developmental skill training, etc. I felt happy and well-informed while leaving the store after my shopping.

Fenny: What kind of toys do you recommend for Naisha?

PSE: Since she is eight months old, you can choose toys which help her in her sensory and motor coordination. Babies love colours and shapes and while playing with them, they learn tactile sills. Musically-enhanced toys also help them learn words quicker.

Fenny: Since she outgrows her clothes and toys very quickly, how can I store them?

PSE: We have lots of baby friendly and compact items in our furniture section. We have shelves which can be put inside cupboards. You can use colour coded shelves for storing different items so that is easier to retrieve when you need them.

Fenny: How can I prevent diaper rash?

PSE: Since babies her age are very active, diaper rash is common. It is a good time to start potty training. We have different kinds of cloth diapers and pull up pants which can also be used for her.

Raquel Jacinto, 34, Filipino, HR professional and mother of two

I work in HR for a bank and my husband Nikhil works in a hospital. While I am from the Philippines, my husband is from Kerala. We met while we were working for the same hospital. We had three weddings in one month – in the UAE, Kerala and the Philippines. We have been married for five years now.

Three years ago, we welcomed our first son Zion. My mother, Teodora, is here with us assisting me in taking care of my kids.

Pregnancy during pandemic is mentally stressful. I was worried for myself and my baby’s health. However, my employer has been very considerate and protective of the employees’ safety and well-being during this pandemic. As the number of cases increased, they set up a work from home arrangement which was helpful and timely during my pregnancy. This reduced the stress of being exposed to the virus as we did not step out of our house.

While the pandemic has limited their social activities, Raquel says it has also given a “golden opportunity to bond more with our family”

My second child Zayden was born in December 2020. I’m still on maternity leave. Once I get back to work, I know that managing two kids and a job is tough. Zion is not in school yet. I am grateful for my mother’s support to our family. Since she takes care of the entire household, I can manage my career, enjoy my job and spend quality time with my family.

Although the pandemic limits us in many ways, it has given us the golden opportunity to bond more with our family. We have to stay positive and be grateful for all the blessings. I am glad I got to enjoy this special treat from Friday and Babyshop during this time. It has made me feel special.

My experience at Babyshop

It is always fun and exciting to shop at Babyshop as they offer a variety of products that not only a newborn and mom-to-be should have, but also products that are suitable for a growing child. While I have been shopping at Babyshop for all infant-and baby-related products for both my kids, it was still an eye-opener when Jenny, the shopping expert at Abu Dhabi’s Marina Mall outlet, patiently helped me understand my baby’s growing needs. In a word, the customer experience is superb. Not only that, she introduced me to a range of products – from clothing to feeding products and toys – that are suitable and beneficial for each stage of my growing child.

Raquel: What factors do I have to consider when buying a milk bottle for a three-month-old baby?

PSE: Breast-feeding babies might find the switch to bottle-feeding uncomfortable leading them to being stressed and cranky and refusing to drink. So the product should have a flexible nipple for seamless transition from breast to bottle. For safety measures, the material should be made from high quality BPA/BPS free material and should have an anti-colic venting system.

Raquel: Is there any product that will help me in training the baby to eat solid food?

PSE: There are lots of products that are helpful to mother to conveniently feed the baby while they turn 6 months

Spoon feeder: You can use this when feeding liquid foods like soups, and oats.

Food feeder: Ideal for feeding fruits and vegetables, it reduce risk of choking 
for babies.

Suction bowls: It holds the bowl firmly in place preventing unnecessary messes while baby is eating. This can stick either on the high chair or kitchen table. Having a high chair can also be very helpful in feeding 
the baby more conveniently for mothers. 
It actually encourages self-feeding in 
babies and comforts them while keeping them safe.

Raquel: What clothes can I use if my 
baby is having sensitive skin?

PSE: 100% cotton-made material is recommended for infants. It is soft and not harsh on the babies’ skin. It keeps your baby cool and its non-allergenic. Cotton clothes easily remove and absorb moisture from babies’ bodies. We have body suits, sleeve suit, socks, mittens, pajamas all made with cotton.

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