Friday, 29 August 2014

What to Pack: Long Distance Travel

Leaving the house with a baby is inevitable, however, most excursions won't require more than your trusty diaper bag in tow. Unfortunately for us, with an 8 week old and no notice, we had to fly across Canada to mourn the loss of a near and dear friend.  Both money and time were tight and I did not relish the thought of a plane ride with my son. Whether you have family to visit, a wedding to attend, or a vacation ahead, travel may be in your future sooner than you might like.

Packing for any longer trip requires forethought and pre-planning and it can seem that much more stressful with junior along.  There are basics, additional things that you'll need for the circumstances, and those essentials that you can't live without.  Traveling with baby is no different.  So why does flying with baby seem so undesirable?  Largely due to the stigma!  Be calm, be prepared and your visit can be more pleasant that you would have thought.

Before you go:

Take a deep breath and think about what you are going to be doing while you are there.  How many outfits do you and baby really need?  Will you have access to laundry?  Would it be a big deal if baby is in a white onesie rather than that frilly tutu? Minimizing any additional weight is key, for your wallet and your muscles, so take that in to consideration.  We made a point of packing the smallest amount of diapers and formula we felt comfortable to travel with, knowing we could purchase more at our destination. You might consider checking with your airline about quantities of baby extras (strollers, etc), "babe in lap" age restrictions, and liquid exemptions.  We had no trouble with security in regards to the volume we had packed.

On route:

Take care of the basics; make sure that both you and baby are fed and comfortable.  A pee break and a diaper change are a must before you are cramped up in the cabin for an extended period. Having had to change a messy diaper in a pinch on one of those horrendous excuses for an in-flight diaper stations, I assure you any alternative is preferable.

I also kept it light in the airport with my baby carrier and a small bag as much as possible. I took time to walk around and stretch my legs.  This would be a good time to keep an older little one engaged with the sights available and activities you have packed. The ideal situation, once in motion, is a sleeping little traveller.  Infants might need a small feeding or a pacifier to deal with cabin pressure changes.  My son coped admirably, but best to be ready.


Stuff happens - and it might throw a major wrench in your plans.  Our airline didn't put our car seat and stroller on the same flight we were on, so trust me: I know stress.  This is where forethought is key.  Have a change of clothes for both yourself and your little one in your carry on in case of missing luggage.  Have a family member available for contact, if not picking you up directly.  Perhaps contact the hotel ahead of time to see if rental strollers are available. The airport also has these items available for use.

Don't worry if you have the crying baby, the restless toddler, or the barfing youth.  The airport and flight attendants have seen it all and fellow travellers will feel worse for you than upset. Also keep in mind, the reason for your visit might not be fun, as was the case with our family, but assuming it will be miserable from the outset will only ensure that it is.  Make the most of every adventure and you will come home with lots of memories-and probably great stories-to share for years to come!

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Best Books: Ages 0-2

In an earlier What to Pack column, I discussed the importance of reading to your baby everyday, and suggested throwing a few board books into your diaper bag for impromptu story times. I am so passionate about this topic that I have decided to offer a continuing list of reading recommendations to keep you (and your child) inspired. Each month, I'll highlight a few books that you maybe haven't heard of that will delight children of various ages.

You probably received books at your shower, for birthdays, and even picked some up on your own. Generally, these are the classics: I Love You Forever, Good Night Moon, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, etc. Don't get me wrong, these are wonderful choices and fit into any first library, but I hope to expand your baby book horizons by showing you a few lesser known titles and letting you know why I love them so much. 

To start, I'll focus on books for the littlest readers - birth to age 2. For this age group, board books are best because learning and experiencing the world is a completely tactile process. Babies are still honing their fine motor skills, and board books are made to survive grabbing, throwing, and chewing. Many of your favourite stories come in board book format, but stick to books with minimal text and large colourful images for this stage. Keepsake stories should be purchased in regular soft or hard cover because they are longer lasting.

Book: Where is the Green Sheep? / Mem Fox

What's It About?
As with many books for this age group, there is no particular plot for this book. It does demonstrate many opposites and near opposites, but the real appeal is in the rhyme scheme and flow.

What Makes It Great?
The build up! As we go from page to page, taking note of the different sheep, we have the wonderful repitition of the refrain "where is the green sheep?" As children get a bit older, they anticipate the question, asking it aloud along with the reader. The illustrations are simple but silly.

Book: Little Blue Truck / Alice Schertle

What's It About? 
The little blue truck makes friends every where he goes, as he takes the time to beep hello to the animals he passes along his route. When a big dump truck, with an inflated sense of importance, zooms by and gets stuck in the mud, the little blue truck is the only one willing to help...but everyone steps in to help Little Blue.

What Makes It Great?
This book is full to the brim with sounds, which makes it very fun to read aloud. The rhyme scheme is spot on, flowing effortlessly like a song. Kids will love to quack, neigh, and beep along!

Book: Piggies / Audrey Wood

What's It About?
Hands! This simply, yet beautifully, illustrated book takes a close look at hands. There is no true plot to speak of but it's a super fun romp with a few opposites thrown in.

What Makes It Great?
This bedtime story is entirely interactive. Children can follow along using their own fingers, and while it isn't set in rhyme it has a sing-songy feel. There is a lot to stop and look at on each page, so this book is good for multiple reads. It might even become a bedtime routine.

Keep in mind, at this age babies don't have amazing attention spans, so manage your expectations before you start reading. You may have to stay on the same page for 5 minutes (and 13 read throughs) and you may not make it to the end of the book. Let your child choose the pacing by picking up on the signs they give you. Enjoy the experience. Point out different images and name them. Relate a line of the story to something you did that day. At this point, it's not so much about cover to cover reading, but about bonding and building a positive association with reading (while also building vocabulary).

Monday, 25 August 2014

What's In Your Diaper Bag? Brooke and Sebastian

Although good things come in small packages, that might be more true about Brooke than her bundle of joy!  At only 5'1", the arrival of a healthy 9 lbs 12 oz baby was a major feat!  Dealing with an infant son and C-section recovery at 23 is not exactly easy, but Brooke has risen to the occasion.  She's loving life as a mom and certainly has some stories to share.  With that in mind, we asked her...

What's In Your Diaper Bag?

Name: Brooke Cummings

Baby's Name (and age): Sebastian (11 months)

Most Important Thing in Your Diaper Bag: Toss up between diapers, wipes and a change of clothes. At one point or another, I was in a dire need for one of those things, sometimes all three at once.

Basic Save: Sunscreen. Being a new mom I was incredibly worried that the Sun would burn my little boy's skin. Looking through the options for sunscreen, I was bewildered by the prices being so high. I decided to just try the store's own brand of sunscreen instead of going for a name brand, and I must say it was a good decision.

Essential Splurge: Good diapers! I had the misfortune of going for a cheaper brand. Two days into the diapers, my son had peed through them and soaked his outfit because of the improper fit.

Best Preparedness Advice: Always have a diaper and change of clothes at hand for both you and baby. Even a simple shopping trip can end in poop on the pants and up the back and pee on your shirt. It's no fun walking around soaked in baby pee.

Once, after driving all day, my fiancé and I went into Leon's to furniture shop. Thinking we would only be 10 minutes, we left the diaper bag in the car. BIG mistake. Sebby decided he needed to poop, and poop everywhere. I had to rush my fiancé out the door to get the bag and a second time to get some clean clothes. While trying to clean up the massive poo storm that happened in my son's pants, he decided to pee on my shirt. After getting him all dressed and clean, I had to walk around the storm covered in baby pee. One of those moments when not being prepared just ends in a moment to laugh it off.

No kidding! So what's Brooke's best tip to fellow and future mothers?

One piece of advice that I find has helped me a lot is do what feels good for you, as a mom. Don't feel pressured by other moms who decide to give you their own tidbits of advice are trying to help, but if you aren't comfortable with it don't do it. If you have a happy, healthy baby, obviously your mommy instincts are working. Also, if your baby just can't seem to stop fussing or crying and your at your wits end, give that baby a hug. The hug is more for you than anything. You'll feel better after.

Top row: diaper bag / Middle row (left to right): sunscreen,  , gripe water, Tylenol with syringe, Hydrasense, Penaten cream, Peepee Peepees, diapers and change mat / Bottom row (left to right): toys and book, thermometer with spare battery, baby lotion and powder, change of clothes.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Mommy Mental Health: Body Image During Pregnancy

From the moment my baby belly started to show, my transitioning physique (in all its swelling glory) was apparently open for discussion. At the beginning, I was enamoured with my ever growing belly. I loved the perfectly rounded shape and I felt proud to walk around in my flattering maternity clothes almost as if I had joined an elite club. Sadly, this feeling falters now and then as I get further into my pregnancy for two reasons. The first is physiological: my belly gets in the way of simple tasks and I have been suffering serious back pains because of it. These feelings of frustration can generally be assuaged by reminding myself that I am growing a little person…and it’s so worth it!

The second reason is harder for me to control: my psychological reaction to the changes fuelled by the running commentary of other people. The worst hit to my self-confidence being the dreaded comparison to other pregnant women.  There is nothing like being called “huge” and having those around you go on and on about “how much bigger” you are than someone else who is currently expecting. Most comments are vocalized with good intentions, but even the most innocuous statement (“Wow, you've really grown!”) can validate the horrible feelings you've been having about your changing body.

In the spirit of blocking out negativity and refocussing on the wonderful joy of being pregnant, here are some tips for loving your body (and keeping your sanity) for the whole 9 months and after:
  • Eat Well. By now, we all know that "eating for two" is a myth. There is nothing wrong with indulging every now and then (whether you're pregnant or not) but it's better to focus on nutrition the majority of the time. If you eat a Big Mac and fries every day of your pregnancy, you'll end up gaining more weight than necessary and fuelling the bad feelings about your body.
  • Take Some "Me Time." It isn't a good idea to spend all of your time worrying about the changes in your physical appearance or the stressful changes on the horizon. Do yourself and your baby a favour and schedule in some time to relax. Exercise is recommended during pregnancy so take a nice long walk, or if taking a bubble bath is your thing, fill up that tub!
  • Get Fancy. Splurge on a new haircut, or take the time to put on make-up in the morning. Whether you're growing a baby bump or trying to shrink it down after the fact, focus on the things you can control. Do something that makes you feel beautiful. (Remember your limits, though: your hair is different because of hormones while you're pregnant so don't go too crazy with a haircut that tailors to your thicker will change back. Also, dyes are not advised during this time.)
It's normal to feel uncomfortable -both physically and mentally- during pregnancy and immediately after, but it shouldn't take over your life. Take the time to bond with your belly, and don't let other people's comments get you down. If Kim Kardashian can survive the onslaught of pregnancy fat jokes, you can too!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Mommy Money Matters: Starting Out (Part Two)

No doubt about it, having a baby can mean a great deal of shopping.  If money were a non issue, that would be a whole lot of fun! Children's stores see a mom like me coming; colourful outfits with cheesy graphics, bright toys with educational slogans, and a whole host of other useful products in matching themes.  It's very easy to get carried away.

Being a frugal mommy, I decided early on not to over do it on the onesies and stuffed baby animals.  Keeping in mind the shower haul, the product expiration dates, and the "ick" factor discussed in Amber's previous article of this series, I went looking for bargains.  If you have the time and the contacts, there is always a deal to be had.

For many reasons in addition to snagging a great find, your local mommy community is a great place to start.  Contact your local Early Learning centres through your public health nurse or city's web page.  You might even be given a list of contacts at the hospital to help you get started.  These groups of local moms will often have play dates with babies of varying ages at which you could inquire about buying an item a little one has out grown. 

They might also organize "Mom-Swaps" or community sales.  It's at one of these amazing events that I managed to snag my Baby Bjorn child carrier, an item that retails for well over $100, for only $20!  It is in perfect condition and is easily my best deal to date. Other items available for sale included everything from large exersaucers and highchairs to clothing and linen.  I saw strollers for as little a $10 - an amazing discount, assuming the product still falls within government guidelines.

If there is no local sale of this kind near you, don't be discouraged.  Browse for yard sales that mention the availability of kids items or seek out specific pieces for sale on websites such as  Ask questions of the seller including the number of children who have used the product, if there are pets or smokers in the home, and the year the product was bought / received.  You control the transaction, so if the listed price seems high and they won't budge or the item doesn't look as good up close, you can always walk away.

Although it might be a turn off to some moms, second hand stores are also a great resource, especially for school aged kids.  Backpacks, shoes, and other items that have been lightly used and need replacing frequently are heavily discounted. Sporting equipment is an example of a very large initial output.  If dad is convinced that your little man is destined for the Canucks' first line, consider places like Value Village or Play It Again Sports - at least until you establish the boy can actually skate!

All that having been considered, I think we can agree that the best price for baby stuff is actually free.  In the next part, we will discuss hand-me-downs and borrowed items; where to get them, how to care for them, and how to (politely) say no. 

Monday, 18 August 2014

What's In Your Diaper Bag? Scotland Edition: Claire and Aaron

Babies come in all shapes, sizes and - well - nationalities!  Out of curiosity, we contacted our cousin and fellow proud mum over the pond.  Having tried for a long time to have a baby, a prouder mother would be difficult to find. Her little one is over a year now, and being back to work with a handful like hers is bound to come with a great diaper bag! The slang is little different, but the needs are the same, so we asked Claire...

What’s in YOUR Diaper Bag?

Name: Claire Hutton

Baby’s Name (and Age): Aaron (14 & a half months)

Basic Save: Don't always go for the big brands on nappies (diapers)/wipes like pampers. I found them terrible as the cheaper ones of own make/supermarkets brands are just as good [and] saves a lot of money. Buy in bulk too as it saves money in long run but watch sizes as they can grow out them very quickly. Me [and] my cousins have been swapping things such as clothes old toys that are still about like jumperoos, bath seats.

Essential Splurge: Derek [my spouse] laughs on my big splurges like prams (strollers). I've had so many, on my 4th pram, but I'm not the only mum to do that and won't be the last. I'm tempted to buy another one I've seen I really like. Plan in advance take what you need: "if in doubt don't leave out" that's what I say. Nothing prepares you for having a baby not even if you're super organised every day, hour is a learning curve.

Best Preparedness Advice: Most important thing in Aaron's bag is nappies, food, comforter, and milk, toys I can't decide what's important as they are all needed.


Bag Contents (L to R) : Mickey backpack, plastic blocks, a board book, plenty of diapers, a change of outfit, diaper rash cream, and a large bib.

Having had over a year of experience, we wanted more of her valuable wisdom! With my son only just starting to crawl, it's a little hard to picture the new excitement (and, let's face it, anxiety) of the next phases! Walking, climbing, temper tantrums... so what does Claire advise?

"[Every] day is different but enjoyable, rewarding, unconditional love.  Took me so long to have him I couldn't imagine him not in my life. You wonder what you did with your time before they came along. Plus you find out who true friends are the ones that disappear and the ones that stay, and accept help from family when they offer."

Friday, 15 August 2014

Battle of the...Bottle Warmers

Infants have very little food selection - they get their breast milk or formula at a lukewarm temperature presented at regular intervals. Seems easy enough. Keeping up with the demand, however, often means preparing ahead and storing the excess in the fridge or freezer. Even if you're breastfeeding your little one, from time to time a bottle will be a convenient way to give Dad a turn at 3am or to fit in a date night while the grandparents take charge. This means warming a bottle; the delicate dance that can go: still cold, still cold, still cold, molten lava.

At first, I didn't think a warming appliance was necessary.  It seemed expensive and just another annoyance to be ever-present on the already cluttered sight-line of my kitchen counter. After over a month of running the bottle under the faucet and all the manner of mugs filled with hot water, hubby decided to just bite the bullet and try a warmer.  I insisted on keeping the receipt in case it didn't work, broke, or otherwise bugged me.  I'm a practical girl like that.

Well, I'm glad I took the plunge.  The model we have is a small, white, Munchkin brand with a water measuring attachment.  It heats safely in approximately 90 seconds and really doesn't take up very much space.  If you are considering your own warmer, here are some pros and cons to consider.

  • Speed - you can put the bottle on to heat, change your little one's diaper, and by the time you get back, the bottle is ready for service.
  • Predictability - once you figure out the level of water required for a given level of baby's meal, the heat is reliably the same each time.
  • Convenience - no dirtying extra dishes or worrying about over heating, melting plastic, etc. Hey, one less thing. 
  • Expense - a warmer does cost you money that, say, heating a bottle in a mug of water doesn't.  As a mom though, a free moment and a free hand outweighs the small added price to me.  Penny pinching mom's may not agree, and that's reasonable.
  • Initial Effort - it does taking a little experimentation to understand what amount of water is required to heat your bottle to the right temperature.  You can't trust that you've got it right immediately and still always have to check before feeding. As the feeding amounts increase with baby's age, the experimentation takes place again.
  • Portability - you are not going to put this appliance in your diaper bag!  That means continuing the mug approach at Grandma's house, restaurants, and anywhere else you may be bottle feeding.

Of course, there are hundreds of costlier products and relatively-free methods not discussed here.  Other bottle warming devices (such a sleeves, car warmers, and brands of speciality warming cylinders) are available for purchase. Some moms will use the microwave and have no trouble with that. There will also be moms that manage to exclusively breastfeed and never have to worry about this issue! When it comes down to it - find what works best for you and go with that!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

What to Pack: Books

As a librarian and an avid reader, I already planned to bombard my baby with a litany of literacy boosters right away. In our household, reading is a shared value and we spend many an hour listening to a Songza 90’s music playlist while getting lost in a book or magazine. So, it neither surprised nor intimidated me to hear that the American Academy of Pediatrics is prescribing reading aloud to children from infancy. In their policy paper published in June of this year, they summarized that “[r]eading regularly with young children stimulates optimal patterns of brain development and strengthens parent-child relationships at a critical time in child development, which, in turn, builds language, literacy, and social-emotional skills that last a lifetime.”

We all want to give our children the best possible start in life and this seems to me like a fun and easy way to do it. I realize that not everyone is comfortable reading aloud to very young children as it can feel silly, especially when they’re too young to fully grasp what’s going on. Here are some tips to fit reading into your baby’s life:
·      Read aloud to your infant from whichever book you are currently reading. The sound of your voice, the varied vocabulary, and the visual appearance of you reading a book will do wonders for encouraging literacy all through life, even if it's not a children's book.

×         Choose board books for babies that are illustrated versions of songs or nursery rhymes you are already familiar with. It may feel less odd to sing a song or recite a rhyme than it feels to read a story to your very little one.

·      Take your baby to the library for baby time a few times a week. These programs are specifically tailored for babies 0-18 months, and incorporate songs, stories, and movement based on child development research. Let the librarian make a fool of herself while your baby reaps all the benefits!

·      Make up stories while you go on a walk or make up a song while you are preparing a bottle. The language benefits associated with storytelling are immense. If you don’t feel comfortable sitting down with your infant and a book (since they can’t focus like a toddler or older child) you can still talk to them constantly during the day.
Before you go out, throw a few board books into your diaper bag. They’re an easy go-to distraction for grocery store line-ups or a nice post-picnic activity to enjoy together in the shade. Send us an e-mail if you’d like a recommendation for a great book to engage your child.

Monday, 11 August 2014

What's In Your Diaper Bag? Katie and Charlie

This week, we get a peek into first time mommy Katie's diaper bag. 

When Katie was pregnant, it was immediately evident that she would be a wonderful mother. Not only did she look totally comfortable caring for her belly (rocking back and forth and reassuring her growing baby with a natural ease) but she also spoke so articulately about her plans for welcoming this new one into the world. The preparation and excitement evident in her pregnancy has effortlessly translated into the first few months of motherhood. Below, Katie shows us what she carries in her diaper bag; which, as she points out, is not a diaper bag at all but a backpack instead. For her purposes, she's found that a backpack allows her to more easily transition from snuggie to stroller and back. Getting out quickly, and struggling as little as possible while on the go, is a valiant goal!

What's In Your Diaper Bag?  

Name: Katie Hickey

Baby's Name (and age): Charlie (8 weeks)

Most Important Thing in Your Diaper Bag: Diapers! Sounds stupid, I know, but my son needs a butt change at least eight times a day. And sometimes he's wrecked the new diaper before it's even on! So, having a lot on me at all times is a must!

Basic Save: Receiving blankets. No matter where you get them from or how much they cost they all do the same job. :)

Essential Splurge: Breast feeding cover! Yes, to get a nice cover you have to spend a little but being a BFing Mom I've learned that not everyone is comfortable with it. So having a good cover that will actually cover everything and not smother your wee one is great. Also, having a cover that won't let anything spill out while your little one is kicking their feet is nice, too.

Best Preparedness Advice: Always make sure you have a few outfits. Babies make all kinds of messes. Drool, spit up, throw up, pee, or poo is bound to make its way onto an outfit at some point during a day. So make sure the poor little one doesn't have to sit in it all day.

Bag Contents (L to R): Bench backpack, extra onesie, a whole lot of diapers, snack, [unknown], Boogie Wipes, blanket, emergency kit (with nail trimmers and medicine doser, etc), nursing cover, wipes, soother, and wallet.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Mommy Money Matters: Starting Out (Part One)

Let's face it: babies can be expensive. Especially the very first one. You have to re-jig your weekly budget in anticipation of an additional family member AND you have to make a large one time investment for all the furniture, gadgetry, and linen needed for this special new person. This is the first post in a three part series on the money matters associated with just starting out. We'll explore where to save, where to splurge, where to buy extra, and where to draw the line.

Image taken from
Buying New

Buying new doesn't have to mean breaking the bank. Big box stores offer never-before-used baby items at reasonable prices with the added bonus of special sales and/or coupons. The things you ask for on your baby registry are usually bought brand new or made with love specially for your baby (think of those gorgeous knit sweaters or booties). Family and friends are excited to help you get ready for baby and will look to your registry for what you really want and need. If you absolutely must have it new, make sure it's on the list.

Also, remember you won't need everything right away. Focus on getting the most important things you'll need for baby's arrival, and then you can save (and hunt for great deals) for the next few stages. That being said: if you happen upon an awesome sale on clothes, buy for the future to save yourself a few dollars. Babies are ALWAYS growing!

Here are some suggestions on what to buy new:

  • Car seats, cribs, and high chairs. These products are subject to regular safety standards updates, so it's best to buy new to make sure that you're protecting your little one. This doesn't mean you need the top of the line version with the highest price tag; all new products must adhere to the same current safety standards. Check out Health Canada for safety tips and recall information when shopping for baby products.
  • Items that have an "ick" factor for you. Everybody's comfort level is different, but examples of things you may not want used (whether as a hand-me-down or from a thrift store) are: breast pumps or other feeding supplies, cloth diaper paraphernalia, soothers, nasal aspirators, ear thermometers, etc. Most things can be disinfected and will be fine, but don't feel guilty for wanting some things brand new.
  • Investment Pieces. Expecting a child is an exciting time, so it's okay to want to splurge on a big ticket item like a beautiful, state of the art travel system. If you're going to use it a lot, or you've simply fallen in love with a particular model: go for it. Many baby items have longevity, so if you're planning on having more than one child, you can think of it as an investment. Go for gender neutral choices on these purchases, if possible, because you never know what's coming next.
  • Things that have sentimental value. If you choose to borrow your sister-in-law's bassinet, you may feel pangs of sadness when it comes time to give it back. Certain milestones in a baby's life come to be associated with the outfit they were wearing at the time or some other inanimate object. Some items you may want to buy new and keep for yourself for years to come.

Budgeting for a baby can be stressful. There are a lot of things to buy and a lot of experts weighing in on what is a must have. You may not be in a financial position to buy one of everything from your local "Babies 'R' Us" but that's no reason to feel overwhelmed. In the next instalment, Seana will look into what kinds of things can be purchased used; either at a local mommy swap, at a thrift store, or on-line. Then, in part three, we'll try to lay out some guidelines for borrowing from friends and family to ease the financial burden.

Bonus Tips: 
When picking out one of those awesome 4-in-1 convertible cribs - make sure to buy the conversion kits at the same time. You don't want to find out in 2 years that the product is out of production and you lost the option to make it into a toddler bed.

If you do decide to buy a used product that is subject to safety standards - check the manufacturer's sticker on the side to double check the expiry date. Do a little research, for example this information from Transport Canada on car seats. 

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

What To Pack: Baby Sun Care

With the long, cold, "polar vortexy" winter behind us and the late April arrival of my son, I was excited to finally get out and enjoy some sunshine!  The summer is the ideal time to get in some baby-weight-losing power walks and those much needed trips for free baby entertainment at the library.  Being the type to skip the golden goddess step and go straight to lobster chic, I make sure to at least wear my SPF and some shades when I leave the house.  Naturally I wanted baby to have the same protection (if not more) but a trip to the pharmacy raised a problem - so called "baby sunblock" is only indicated for use in children over the age of 6 months.  I didn't realize this.  Upon mentioning this story to my Aunt, she recalled a similar trip of her own.  When she asked a pharmacist what brand she should buy, he answered: "long sleeves."  Harsh - and not the only time I've heard this type of response.

But it gets worse; we all know a burn is bad for adult skin, but states that "Just one blistering sunburn in childhood more than doubles a person's chances of developing melanoma later in life."  Great, more guilt to add to the ever increasing list of ways we can ruin our child's life!

So what's a mommy to do?  It's hot. For the baby's health—and your own sanity—you can't stay cooped up all the time. Well, stick to the basics:

  • A cute baseball cap, wide brimmed bucket hat, or adorable bonnet is now your constant accessory (so make sure it's in your diaper bag if not on baby's head)!  Stocking caps keep baby warm but don't do much to keep the rays off of a little one's face.  Save these for cooler weather and photo ops.
  • While we're talking fashion, sleeves aren't such a bad idea.  Light weight and lightly coloured outfits are best to keep as much of the skin protected as possible.  Absolutely have to dress baby in that watermelon sundress or sleeveless shark romper?  Pimp your ride instead!  Use a mesh protective cover for your stroller or sunshade for your baby carrier (Snuggly, Baby Bjorn, etc).
  • Stay out of the harshest sun of the day. While it might be impossible to run all your errands before 10am or after 4pm (seriously?), take breaks in air conditioned buildings or stay at the shady side of the park.

Enjoy the warmth and freedom of the summer while you can!  It's a great time to be off and spending time together.

Monday, 4 August 2014

The "What's In Your Diaper Bag?" Innaugural Post

My name is Amber and I’m pregnant.

I know, this isn’t some great revelation only uttered by an elite few, but, for me, it’s a relief to be able to write those words with pride and excitement. While my belly has already been a magnet–attracting hands and unsolicited advice from everyone who comes within 10 feet of it—for a couple of months, it took me a while to “come out” about my pregnancy to my social and professional circles

Now that I’ve stopped stressing about telling people, I’m ready to start preparing for baby. This, as it turns out, is a lot more stressful. There are an abundance of websites dedicated to pregnancy and parenthood. One only has to have an internet connection, a lot of time, and a firm grip on their sanity to find information and, as a librarian, research comes easily to me. On top of that, I am lucky, because my sister recently had a baby and we are able to share tips and advice amongst ourselves, but we just don’t know it all…or most of it, really. She is already an amazing mother, but she’s always willing to learn a trick or two to make things easier (or cheaper).

We decided to start with an easy one: what do you put in your diaper bag? It seems a simple query but, alas, not so. An (admittedly brief) Internet search of diaper bag recommendations offers a slew of suggestions that read more like advertising spreads than real world advice. These bloggers have a suspicion that, not unlike our purses (those magical Mary Poppinsesque bags that are home to flat head screwdrivers and single serve microwave popcorn sachets as well as the traditional wallet and keys), some essential diaper bag contents are unique to the individual. So, in the interest of due diligence, we’re taking it to the people: what is in YOUR diaper bag? Every Monday, we will ask one mommy to bare it all, emptying her diaper bag and telling us what she’s really packing. This way we will finally figure out what truly is a must have, what is worth the extra money, and … what is THAT doing in there?

Never ones to get only one foot wet at a time (unless the water is unbearably cold) we thought, hey, if we’re going to do this whole research into the secret diaper bags of the Canadian woman thing, we might as well delve a little deeper. From “Battle of the Baby Products”, to “If It Ain’t Broke… (How Our Mothers and Their Mothers Used to Do it)” with some baby budgeting and mommy fitness thrown in for good measure, we’re setting out to expose—and then celebrate—this whole crazy motherhood thing.

For our inaugural post, we’ll take a look at Seana, my co-blogger’s diaper bag. Fair is fair: we’ll show you ours if you show us yours. Take it away, sis!

What’s in YOUR Diaper Bag?
Name: Seana

Baby’s Name (and Age): Elliott (14 weeks)

Most Important Thing in Your Diaper Bag: Baby wipes! Not just for the bum, I've used these for coffee stains, spit up, random sticky residue on shared toys, and so much more.  If you think one of those cute 20-wipe dispensers are enough for an outing—think again.  Pampers makes a great 64 count travel pack that will last me anywhere from one to several weeks.  Buy a 3 pack so you have a spare when your pack starts to get low.

Basic Save: Wash cloths - sure it's cute to have Disney themed cloths to match your child's every outfit, but these things get burnt out.  They get lost, stained, and covered in all matter of baby grossness.  Save here and buy ‘em 3 for a buck at the dollar store, or don't even bother!  Baby wipes and a good receiving blanket will serve you just as well.

Essential Splurge: Hand products!  Okay, I'm cheating here and proclaiming my love for both my hand sanitizer and my moisturizing cream.  Although I knew I'd be washing my hands more, “more” is the understatement of the century. Do yourself a favour and treat yourself to a sweet smelling cream you'll want to wear.  Nothing too greasy or hard to open.  I love my EOS in mint.

Best Preparedness Advice: Check before you leave. Who's to say your husband didn't lazily take the spare pacifier out of the bag rather than running upstairs. And didn't you tell yourself at the library that you were cutting it close with only 2 diapers? An ounce of prevention is worth not having a pound of poop in the only onesie you brought with you!

Bag Contents (L to R) : Baby formula (both ready-to-serve and in case of emergency powder), a baby essential travel kit (powder, bum cream, head-to-toe wash and baby lotion), a travel diaper genie, toy/ pacifier wipes, emergency kit (complete with baby Tylenol, a thermometer, nail clippers, and that strange nose aspirator contraption), sun glasses for mommy and baby, travel wipes, a onesie, footsie pajamas, diapers, receiving blankets, wash cloths, keys with a carabineer for access, baby toys (rings and a rattle), my hand products (anti-bacterial and moisturizer), wallet, snack, and gum!