The survival guide to a possetting baby (Take note Victoria Beckham)
Of course, babies don't plan these things, they just get on with it. But somehow it always seems to happen at the worst possible moment. Brand new coat, favourite skirt, freshly dry-cleaned suit. And, usually, out and about so you're left fumbling for the wet wipes and hoping no one noticed.
But as the mother of a baby who liked to do 'a little sickie' as it's known in our house, I learned damage limitation is possible. Victoria broke fashion's number one rule: never wear black. Darks are a no-no and block colours are risky too. Think pastels and choose highly patterned - for baby and you.
If you can't live without a little black dress, keep the muslin cloth handy at all times. In fact, keep at least three muslins close by if you want to be safe.
And did anyone mention bibs? Our baby would get through a dozen a day, so choose them carefully - Velcro fasteners are a disaster when your newborn has just dropped off to sleep. Better to get poppers, and with a cute design if you can. Just about every photo ever taken in those first few months show our baby in a bib.
Most babies posset milk - described by experts as 'effortless regurgitation', and by health visitors as 'a laundry problem'. We had to baby proof our home from day one, so if you have fancy upholstery think about putting a throw on it before baby throws up on it.
Feeding in public becomes a lesson in strategy - cafes with leather sofas can be surreptitiously wiped clean and summer mums are lucky to have the relative safety of outdoor tables and chairs.
But there will still be little sickie accidents, and while most of us are not strolling through the airport on the way to New York Fashion Week with a trail of photographers capturing our every move, it's embarrassing all the same.
My first weekend away with our baby involved an epic three-train cross country journey deep into the heart of the Cotswolds. I hadn't even walked to the end of our street when, whoosh, our baby was spectacularly sick, throwing up right out of the pram, across the cover and almost onto my feet. I had no choice but to dash on to the train for a major clean-up operation en route. On the plus side though, I knew she was 100% empty and unlikely to do that twice in a day.
One dad who must remain nameless confessed his baby did a little sickie in a far grander location - a National Trust property up north. Baby was in the carrier smiling when suddenly there was the familiar splatter of baby sick on the carpet. Fortunately it wasn't a priceless Persian rug, just the everyday stair runner the visitors walked on. Mum quietly cleaned it up with the ever-present muslin.
Another friend had an awkward moment wetting the baby's head at the local pub...baby was being burped over the shoulder and, oops! Milk projected onto the patio below, covering an innocent drinker. Fortunately he was very understanding and the offenders weren't barred.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel, and seven-month-old Harper Seven may find it's a lucky number for mummy Victoria if my experience is anything to go by. After near-daily milk explosions our baby stopped the little sickies at seven months, just after we introduced solids. The same clean bib languished in the changing bag for a week and the laundry problem solved itself.
Old habits are hard to break though, and I haven't stopped checking my reflection in passing mirrors. I like to make absolutely sure there isn't a little smear of dried-up milk on my shoulder, or a dribble down my back. It's a badge of honour that says, yes, I have a baby.
Does this sound familiar? Did your baby grow out of the 'baby burps'? What was your most embarrassing experience?