Monday, 29 September 2014

What's In Your Diaper Bag? - Natalie and Isaiah

"Now that we have Isaiah with us I have so many years of experience that it has been MUCH easier this time around. All that I have learned from having Michael young, and having other children with health issues has made me a stronger mommy."

Natalie is a mom with experience to spare. Just 5 weeks ago she welcomed the adorable baby Isaiah into the world – her fourth son in 23 years. The spacing of her children’s ages may be a tad unique, but each new child offered new opportunities to learn and her close family have always worked together.

In her own words: “My oldest Michael is 23, Christian is 16, Noah is 9 and we just welcomed Isaiah 5 weeks ago. Having all of my kids with large gaps in between has taught me a lot and has been very useful. Having Michael at a young age didn't come easy but with the help of my parents I learned the basics of raising a child. Through the years I would learn more and more that better prepared me for Christians arrival. Michael was at the age then to help out with caring for his new brother and has been a huge help with all 3 of this younger brothers. When Noah was born he had a few health issues that we are still dealing with to this day. A lot of what I learned through my experiences with Michael and Christian became very useful in dealing with Noah's early struggles. Both the boys did what they could to help out too.

We’re really lucky this week to get to ask Natalie for her diaper bag tips!

What's In Your Diaper Bag?

Mommy's Name: Natalie

Baby's Name (and age): Isaiah (5 weeks)

Most Important Thing in Your Diaper Bag: Baby wipes. These are useful for so much more than just changing diapers. Can be used for cleaning and sanitizing on the go. Something I never leave home without.

Basic Save: PC brand natural diapers. These diapers are $7.99 for 40 newborn sized diapers. They are biodegradable after 2 years and are great for the baby.

Essential Splurge: Isaiah's play yard. Doesn't quite fit in the diaper bag, but can't live without it. It is what I use the most right now

Best Preparedness Advice: If you don't have it with you don't worry about it. Don't get stressed out if you have forgotten something at home. Improv comes in very handy in these situations. Try and have everything with you but if you forget, don't get yourself too worked up about it because it won't make the situation any easier.

Contents: wipes, diapers, bum cream, changing pad, soother (our essentials). Plus some bottles for on the go and an extra outfit in case of emergencies.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Best Books: Ages 3-5

Reading with a 3-5 year old is all about building vocabulary, creating positive associations with literacy, interaction, and HAVING FUN! Let your child have a say in book choice and encourage them to "read" with you by selecting books with lots of repetition and onomatopoeia. Try choosing more than one book based on theme, singing a related song, or doing a craft on the theme of the book to build on the experience. The older the child, the more they can participate in the reading. You still may not get to the end of a book with a three year old (be patient) but by now they should have a better understanding of story form and the concept of a book, so it's something to work into every day's activities.

Here are some excellent choices for the 3-5 year olds in your life that you maybe haven't read yet:

Book: Do Like a Duck Does / Judy Hindley

What's It About?
When a fox comes across a mother duck and her babies, claiming to be a duck like them, Mama Duck decides to put him through a series of tests to prove it.

What Makes It Great?
The rhyme scheme in this book is amazing and the onomatopoeia written into the text is super fun. It has the potential for many different levels of interaction, from quacking to getting up and strutting like a duck.

Book: Owl Babies / Martin Waddell

What's It About?
Three owl siblings wake up to discover that their mother has gone out and left them alone. Together, they reassure each other and themselves that she'll be back soon as they consider all the possibilities of her absence.

What Makes It Great?
A great choice for a grandma or babysitter to read as it helps children to deal with the feelings associated with being temporarily separated from their parents. It is a simple and cute story, with a great read aloud flow and beautiful full-page illustrations.

Book: The Bear Snores On / Karma Wilson

What's It About?
One cold night, a forest full of animals all congregate in a bear's cave for an impromptu party while the bear who owns the cave sleeps beside them. But, what happens when the bear wakes up?

What Makes It Great?
The sounds, the rhyme scheme, the repetition: this book has it all! It is simply a joy to read aloud. The illustration style is really nice, too, which makes for a great story time read. Enough stimulation to keep a toddler/child engaged for the whole of the story. A great go-to read.

Book: The Enormous Potato / Aubrey Davis

What's It About?
This story is a fun retelling of Tolstoy's The Great Big Enormous Turnip. When a farmer plants a potato eye in the garden, it grows into the biggest potato in the world, and it takes some serious teamwork to pull it out of the ground to eat.

What Makes It Great?
This book is all about the repetition and humour. As more and more characters join in the struggle to pull the potato out of the ground, their efforts gets added to the text chain. Kids pick up the pattern quickly and read along. And, let's not forget that it's a great moral about team work.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Trend Watch - The Amber Teething Necklace

Spending time with other parents and kids through community groups has been wonderful for my son and myself. We get social interaction, a reason to get out of the house, and lots of motherhood advice I likely would not have been exposed to otherwise. With many of our children entering that drooling, miserable stage of teething, we have talked about myriad solutions that trial and error has taught us. I was surprised to hear that the "hip" new tool comes in the form of jewellery. Any potential choking hazard makes me immediately skeptical, but these moms swear by the effectiveness. I had to find out more.

Amber teething products, usually in the form of a necklace or bracelet, are purported to work as "body heat triggers the release of a minute amount of oil that contains succinic acid, a naturally occurring substance in the body. When the oil is absorbed, fans of these beads say it has an analgesic effect on swollen, sore gums." It is also said to be a conductor of safe negative ions that contribute to the body's ability to heal itself and release stress. A bold statement that is powerful enough to have mom's flocking to pick one up.

And they appear to be fairly readily available.  A quick survey found no less than 3 places to purchase them in my area.  They come in various styles and colours so that boys can rock the accessory in a manly way, and products start at under $10.  It's a small investment for something claiming to have such outstanding qualities.

At various social groups I've had several mothers praise the product.  After speaking to many mothers who have tried or are actively using the gems, the results are mixed.  Some say it has reduced their child's general whining and drooling considerably.  A group facilitator went so far as to say the item is 92% effective when used consistently.  One, however, claimed that despite believing in the healing powers of amber and desperately hoping the product would end up being a beneficial addition, found it ineffective for her daughter.

On a personal level, I feel skeptical.  The idea of constant wear worries me.  Having anything in contact with my son's neck during vigorous play and sleep makes me uncomfortable.  Of course, there are bracelets and anklets, but the goal is to keep the contact point as close to the ailment as possible, which in this case is near (but never in) your baby's mouth.  In addition to the choking hazard, threat of loose beads, and the additional task of constantly hooking and unhooking the necklace for safety reasons, I struggled to find much serious scientific evidence of its effectiveness.

There are many reasons to want this product to work; it's simple, fashionable, and a straightforward approach to eliminating a great deal of discomfort for your child.  That said, beyond the placebo effect, I just can't see how the resin could actually do anything.  There are lots of similarly easy and inexpensive ways to help your child deal with the symptoms of teething:

  • Speciality toys that can be chilled, chewed, and cleaned (the 3 C's of teething) are ideal. Things like Sofie the giraffe, mesh chew pouches for frozen grapes, or gel rings for example.  These products can be priced as low as a dollar.
  • Frozen breast milk, formula, or cows' milk is a great way to feed and soothe.  You can freeze directly on to a pacifier or buy small ice pop moulds for the purpose.
  • Infant gum brushes or even a damp face cloth run over the gums aids in cleaning as well and massaging the gums. 
  • Massage, either of the jaw area or even just the soothing contact of mother's touch, is also a major stress reliever and sleep aid during this uncomfortable time.  There are classes, instructions, and even YouTube videos to help you learn some techniques.
  • Medication is also available for days when nothing else works - infant Tylenol for the pain and fever or a numbing agent such as infant Orajel or Anbesol.

If you feel that your child could benefit from the amber gems, please proceed with caution. Even carefully fitted strings can become detached, have loosened beads, or cause a tourniquet situation.  Use your best judgement as to where and when your baby should wear them.

Pictures and quotes from:

Monday, 22 September 2014

What's In Your Diaper Bag? Janine and Evy

 "The most amazing thing about motherhood to me is discovering the capacity I have for love. I've been moved to tears on countless occasions while just holding my daughter because I am so overcome with love for her. What am amazing feeling and how privileged are we as mothers to be able to experience it! Watching my daughter grow and learn has been the most rewarding experience of my life."
From the time she was a little girl Janine knew she wanted to be a mother. That she would have children was a certainty, but the timing of her first pregnancy came as a surprise. No problem for Janine who just says Evy “came earlier than we had planned.” A natural child birth was important for this loving mama, and her little one was clearly in a rush to join the family because she arrived 3 weeks early and with no lag time. Janine remembers the rush of it all: “my water broke at 2:00pm and she was born at 5:03pm that same day.”

Now, Evy is almost 2 years old, and finding balance has been the name of the game. Janine tried going back to work fulltime but found that it wasn’t the right move for her family. “I went back to work fulltime when Evy was about 14 months old and it was hell for me. My hours were terrible and I missed her so much. After 7 months of that I had had enough. Now I work part-time and have found the perfect balance. We're both much happier.”

With a toddler rather than an infant, Janine has learned to pare down the contents of the diaper bag, "Since Evy is older now, I don't carry nearly as much as I used to. I don't bring this fully packed diaper bag with me anymore if we are only going out for a few hours - just the mandatory diapers, wipes, snacks, and a sippy cup."

With all of her experience and passion for motherhood, we're eager to know:

What's In Your Diaper Bag?
"Now that Evy is almost 2,
her personality is exploding and I adore the little person that she is!
She is polite and affectionate, careful and responsible, funny and determined."

Mommy's Name: Janine

Baby's Name: Evy (23 months)

Most important thing in diaper bag: Pacifier (we call it her "sucky") and her blankie, (which she calls her "kiki") are equally important. 

Basic Save: I'd have to say snacks. When she was much younger and just starting to eat finger foods, I would buy her those little star puffs that can be found in the baby section of any grocery store or drug store. There was a choice between a Gerber brand and a no name brand which was MUCH cheaper. Obviously my 9 month old daughter did not notice the difference so I went with the cheaper brand. However, as she has gotten older she has become more picky. She definitely knows the difference between no name fruit snacks and Dora fruit snacks.

Essential Splurge: I do not carry this in my diaper bag any more but my breast pump was definitely my essential splurge when Evy was a baby. When she was first born, we lived 6 hours away from family so we did a lot of road trips. Evy was breast fed exclusively when at home, but we had a difficult time breast feeding in public as I had an over-active flow and we would both get very messy (not something I wanted to share with the public), so I would pump and bottle feed when we were at rest stops along the way.

Now that she is older my essential splurge for any long trip is our portable DVD player. It has saved our sanity countless times!

Best preparedness advice: Keep the diaper bag packed and ready to go at all times! This seems like the most obvious advice, but for some reason, it took us a while to figure this out. When preparing to leave the house, we would race around grabbing diapers and filling the travel wipes container, packing a bottle and toys and spare clothes etc etc. We would always forget something and it was an ongoing joke amongst our family that we were never prepared. My Mom's house is now fully stocked with supplies so that we don't even have to bring a diaper bag when we visit her!

Contents: Diapers, wipes, change of clothes, a book, whatever toy she has selected to bring with her that day, sunscreen, hat, snacks, bottle, blankie and sucky, sippy cup, hair brush (because she has wildly thick, curly hair that needs to be tamed frequently).
As you can see, Janine has it figured out. Her great advice doesn’t stop at the diaper bag, though. She is a huge supporter of listening to your own instincts as a parent when making decisions:

“We made the personal choice to limit how much we "baby proofed" our house when we discovered that we have a staircase that cannot accommodate a baby gate, so we were forced to find a new way to keep Evy safe. We have been teaching her the consequences of her actions rather than simply blocking her off. Of course we have put locks on all the cupboards that contain cleaning supplies (we are not THAT radical). Our families have struggled with our parenting style quite a bit. They have a hard time trusting us that she will not fall down the stairs, or touch the fireplace etc, but she has yet to have an accident. My theory is that if it isn't going to kill her, let her try it and experience the consequence so she can learn. At 22 months, she is extremely cautious and careful around things she isn't sure about, but at the same time she is brave and independent. One day when we were at the park, another mother mentioned that she was impressed at how careful Evy was on the play structure for her age. I was very proud :) It's not a conventional parenting method, but we feel we've made the right choice.”

Do you want to be featured in an upcoming WIYDB post? E-mail us at for info on how to participate. We'd love to hear from you!

Friday, 19 September 2014

Best of Brands: Bottles

When I was pregnant, I gave bottles no thought at all.  I was convinced I would be breastfeeding and wouldn't need very many.  Due to my son's latch, stress, and a host of other reasons, we decided as a family that he would be better served with a full belly and a sane mommy.  I don't regret it, but I can tell you that it was an amazingly difficult decision.

Now thriving on formula, I had to invest some time in to finding, sanitizing, and stocking all the bottles I had been gifted at my shower and given as samples.  As time progressed, I realized that having a few extra on hand wouldn't be a bad thing either.  By 2 months in, I owned eight different brands of bottles with different advantages, disadvantages, and price points attached.  Yes, eight.

I can tell you, not all brands are created equal.  One brand, despite a hefty price tag, was so unusable it was thrown out within weeks.  Another inexpensive bottle was fine, but seemed to take forever for my little one to drain.  His frustration made it not worth using. Here are some of my thoughts on the five brands that ended up in our rotation. I have taken the prices from and I have used a scale of 5 diapers to consider the value, ease of use, and overall experience, with 5 being the highest ranking.  As ordered above:

AVENT 4oz BPA Free Natural Polypropylene (2-Pack $19.97):
This bottle was given to me as a sample, and honestly, I think it is over priced.  In my experience, it was the most difficult to latch, to clean, and to heat.  The lid attachment is almost as big as the storage, making it awkward to hold, but very balanced so it does not tip over easily.  It is a solid product, so it would survive a lot of reuse, but it is not my cup of tea.

Playtex Drop-Ins Premium Nurser (2-Pack $9.97 not including replacement liners):
This system is classic, and boasts a major advantage that no other bottle on this list can - contractible bag liners that minimize gas and spit up.  Feeding-wise, they are great and I did notice a difference.  However, the liners are an additional expense and are not available as readily as I thought.  They also cannot be heated in my bottle warmer at home, but heat more quickly when out and using a mug and hot water.

NUK Nature Silicone Wide-Neck Bottle 5oz ($5.94 each):
This bottle provided the best latch for my little one when he was first starting on bottles. This was not as much of a factor later on, but it was an advantage.  The size is good, it heated well, and was an overall decent product.  The only problem here is; there is nothing particularly special about this brand to merit the slightly higher price.  If you get it as a gift, wonderful, but I wouldn't spend my pennies.

Gerber First Essentials Bottle 5oz (3-Pack $3.99):
For many, Gerber means "baby" and there's a reason why.  These bottles are inexpensive, easy to clean, and heat evenly.  They even have replacement nipples if you don't want to replace your whole set.  This plus, however, results in the only negative I can say for the product; since the nipple snaps out, it can come slightly askew and leak.  That means lost formula and an even messier baby.

Parent's Choice 8oz (3-Pack $3.97):
I was surprised to learn that this is Walmart's own house brand as I was extremely impressed with this bottle and it is the product of which we have subsequently bought the most.  It is the nicest to look at, with great colours and designs, it comes apart easily for washing, and it heats well whether you have 2oz left or a completely full serving.  Best of all: it is the only brand discussed here that has never leaked. It is a high value for the price.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Mommy Money Matters: Decorating the Nursery

With all the preparations necessary when welcoming a new baby into the world, I have had to prioritize things and harness my organizational diva: timelines, budgets, shopping lists, etc. The thing that I am most excited about -beside actually being able to hold my new baby in my arms- is decorating the nursery. My husband and I are now in our third apartment in 7 years and we have never decorated a room before because they were all rentals. We're still renting, but a new baby makes the effort  (and cost) worth it! The problem? Hours and hours of HGTV has given me an inflated sense of interior design prowess. We don't have an inflated budget, however (as you may have guessed) so I have had to figure out how to make the room of my dreams on the budget of my reality.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when designing a nursery without breaking the bank:

Imagine your ideal nursery ... and then scale back. This may feel like either a waste of time—or an exercise in torture—since you won’t be able to do everything in your design, but reverse engineering can be an important step to help you prioritize and plan. By creating a collage of cut-outs, a Pinterest board, or a classic pen and paper list of your expectations, you can begin to decide what is essential, what can be replaced by alternatives, and what can be left out. Don’t go overboard, you won’t get an exact replica Trevi Fountain into your Italian themed nursery, but it’s worthwhile to picture your perfect room.

Image from
Make a list of must-haves. You’ll need a crib and a dresser (which can easily double as a changing table). You’ll also probably want a rocking chair or glider and a hamper. It’s nice to have a separate changing table and a book case, but these items are not necessary if you have a small space or can’t afford them. Be sure to measure the space first and bring those measurements around with you when shopping for deals. It is helpful to draw a to-scale drawing of the room with the furniture placement worked out, too.

Start early. If you choose your colour scheme and nursery theme early, you have more time to wait for sales, pick up items at mommy swaps, do DIY projects, and find inexpensive alternative options for your nice-to-haves. If you’re waiting to learn the gender of your baby, but want gender specific room décor, choose a neutral paint colour that can work with multiple colours. I chose grey walls and white furniture because they look good with yellow, pink, teal, and blue. A theme or gender specific colour can be added once the baby is born.

Choose items with big impact. Paint is the easiest way to make a big difference to the design of a space on a limited budget. One can of paint and primer-in-one should cover most rooms and immediately set the tone. Curtains or blinds also make a room look polished and are a good way to add accent colours. You’ll want to be able to control the lighting in the nursery, so this is a good blend of function and style. Adding large pieces of DIY artwork will also make a big statement on a small budget. Decorative additions are the least important factor when it comes to babies’ needs, so don’t spend a lot of money on throw rugs and pillows. We’ll be doing a DIY post on nursery artwork to give you some great ideas for design on a dime. Stay tuned.

Remember: the most important thing a baby needs from his or her new home is a loving caregiver. It is nice to have a colour coordinated room with baskets and stuffed animals on every shelf, but what your baby really needs is to know that you're there when he or she cries. If you can't design the room you always imagined, there's no need to feel bad; your baby thinks you're doing a great job in any colour room.

Monday, 15 September 2014

What's In Your Diaper Bag? Celebrity Edition (Duchess Catherine and Prince George)

Celebrity babies are certainly not a new thing, but with technology at everyone's finger tips, they have never been so highly publicized. From what Gwyneth named her first (Apple, really?) to how much Kim spends on a cashmere receiving blanket, we're dying to know what the elite are doing. The royal family are celebrities of their own sort, but with a level headed young couple like Kate and Wils heading the newest generation, the baby expenditures are far less exotic. In the spirit of curiosity, I decided to find out:

What's in Your Diaper Bag?

Name: Catherine Mountbatten-Windsor

Baby's Name (and age): George (13 months)

Most Important Thing in Your Diaper Bag: Wardrobe! By all accounts, travelling with the royal baby involves many cameras and public appearances. A blow out on the BBC just would not do! A brief stop in New Zealand saw "dozens of outfits for their eight-month-old".

Basic Save: The diaper bag itself used by the royal nanny is reportedly a Lepliage tote bag, which my research prices at around $145.00, far less than I would have expected. This key baby accessory is praised as being very resilient. "The material is the perfect choice to resist spills and the wear and tear that comes with keeping up with baby..."

Essential Splurge: Safety - as much because he is a toddler as because he's a royal. From strollers to nursery modifications and staffing, George has all the latest security at his disposal. And you thought it was hard to pick a baby monitor!

Best Preparedness Advice: Trust your team and pack light. George is always on the go, and as with any baby, it's impossible to plan for every eventuality. Catherine sends lists ahead, such as having "nappies, wipes, baby food and toiletries... waiting for them when they land." She also defers to those around her, unless she feels strongly about something. You might not have a nanny, but it remains true that sometimes as moms we have to pick our battles.

It can sometimes feel that you are being judged as a mother and as a person. Family and other parents often throw their two cents worth in about the best way to raise a child. The royals and celebrities know that far too well. Next time you leave the house unshowered and in a hurry to reach playgroup, just be glad there's no paparazzi waiting for you!

Quotes and photos taken from:

Friday, 12 September 2014

What to Pack: Medicine Cabinet

The 24 hour drug store is a wonderful thing, but when its the middle of the night and your baby is crying because of gas or teething pain, the last thing you want to do is get into the car and drive to the store. Do future you a big favour and pick up this list of baby medicine cabinet essentials then breathe easy knowing you're prepared for almost any discomfort your baby may experience. Add in a nice basket or box, and this would make a thoughtful (and practical) baby shower gift for a new mother just starting out.

*The items in red are helpful to keep in the diaper bag as well as the home medicine kit.

20 Essential Items for your Infant Medicine Cabinet
  1. Digital Thermometer
  2. Baby liquid acetaminophen like Tylenol and dosing chart (ibuprofen only if baby is 6 months or older)
  3. Saline drops (to loosen mucus) and a nasal aspirator (also known as a “bulb syringe”) for stuffy noses.
  4. Tweezers (for splinters)
  5. Gripe water / anti-gas drops
  6. Electrolyte solution / rehydration fluid such as Pedialyte (for after vomiting or      diarrhea)
  7. Diaper rash cream
  8. Medicine dropper or syringe
  9. Cotton balls (for applying lotions and for disinfecting supplies with rubbing alcohol)
  10. Humidifier
  11. Baby nail clippers or a small nail file
  12. Topical calamine lotion or hydro-cortisone cream (for bug bites)
  13. Antibacterial ointment such as Polysporin or Neosporin (for cuts and scratches)
  14. Cold compress (for bumps and bruises) / heating pad (for aches)
  15. Vicks VapoRub
  16. Baby safe sunscreen / insect repellent (after 6 months)
  17. Baby Anbesol or Oragel and a teething ring in the freezer
  18. Vasoline or baby oil (for sore dry skin)
  19. Mild soap without perfumes or irritants (for cleaning skins around scrapes and scratches)
  20. First aid manual / phone numbers for emergency help and poison control centres (FYI: Ontario Poison Control = 1-800-268-9017)

Keep in mind that the bathroom is not the most ideal place to keep your baby first aid kit, because of the moisture in the air. Aim to keep these items in a place that is easily accessible to you (to deal with 2 am fevers or stuffy noses) but is completely out of reach of your baby. For example, in a clearly labelled basket on the top shelf of your linen closet. Also, since the goal is to have everything at hand, buy replacement jars of lotions etc, before you run out of the current jar.

As a final note: Trust your instincts, you can prepare for almost any eventuality, but if you feel like something isn't right, or a symptom is severe, contact your doctor immediately. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Baby Food - What and When?

Parenting advice is very subjective.  What works for one baby might not work for another for a large number of reasons; temperament, season, heck even the year on the calendar seems to have an impact.  Mothers that raised my generation tell me constantly that babies were put to bed on their stomachs to avoid aspiration of any spit up - a recommendation that has now been changed to a back sleeping philosophy to avoid suffocation.  Another trend that seems to have changed is feeding milestones. When should you start solids?  What should you start with?  With a 4 month old son and a mixed bag of answers, I went on a full fledged investigation.

My first stop is always my Mom.  She not only raised me, my two sisters, and guided an additional host of cousins, but she did home daycare for over a decade.  Her recommendation is not only logical, but what I assumed was correct before asking.

When: Approximately 3 to 4 months.  Generally speaking the liquid only diet is not cutting it anymore at this point and the solids lengthen time between feedings and aid in sleeping a full night.  An exciting prospect.

What: Rice cereal.  It can be slowly added to a bottle to thicken what the baby is already drinking and accustom them to the texture.  Afterwards you can introduce other cereals (alone, then mixed) followed by pureed produce and on down the line.

The only problem, I felt, is that my baby didn't seem ready.  No offense meant to Mom, of course, but he didn't seem to be eating overly often, or much, and sleeping 6 hours at a stretch meant I wasn't too hard done by in the sleep department either. With boxed cereal stating 6+ month disclaimers, I decided to continue by asking my family doctor and her advice surprised me a little.  Not just a GP, but a young mother of 2, she knows her stuff.  I took it seriously, but I admit I scratched my head for a little while afterward.

When: 4-6 months, when baby can sit up on their own and seems more interested in what you are eating than their meal (reaching, crying, not seeming satiated, etc).

What: Anything!  She told me current practices state that you don't need to start with a cereal, or even a vegetable.  You could go straight to meat, so long as you don't start with dairy!  On that front, she said homogenized milk can be introduced at 9 months now, 3 months earlier than previously recommended.

While I am certainly not a medical professional and am still new in this whole motherhood game, the thought of my little one's first meal being pulverized chicken seems more than a little bizarre. Plus milk under a year? That goes against everything I thought I knew about baby dos and don'ts.  I decided to take it to the streets and ask my fellow moms through a web poll and two separate mommy groups.  With the advice of these additional thirty or so women, this is what I have learned.

When: 3-6 months, when the baby is feeding too frequently or is never satisfied.

What:  The vast majority of ladies told me that vegetables came first.  They occasionally offer cereal, but mentioned it was more filling than nutritional.  While some made their own and others bought food, they overwhelmingly told me that starting with fruit caused problems with veggies later. Puff treats that can be either chewed or gummed to a paste were also praised as both food and entertainment. Everyone loves a two-for-one deal

So, what did I establish for my own hungry little bundle of joy?  I guess, as with anything, it just depends on the baby.  Talk to your trusted resources and go with your gut.  You'll know when what you have been doing doesn't seem to work anymore.  Look for some tell tale signs such as; baby constantly eating or upset, not gaining enough or even losing weight, and frustration by or grabbing at table food.  Whether that means weaning from breast milk, switching to soy, or getting out your baby spoons, discuss your options when you think it's time. Mother knows best.

Monday, 8 September 2014

What's In Your Diaper Bag? Doriana and Benjamin

When it comes to cute kids with huge personalities, today's feature is certainly high up on the list! With mommy groups, swimming lessons, and more on his pint-sized agenda, it's a wonder he doesn't need a secretary, not just an energetic mommy! So how does she do it? With a good stroller, a bus pass, and a properly stocked diaper bag!

What's In Your Diaper Bag?

Name: Doriana Hutton

Baby's Name (and age): Benjamin (13 months)

Most Important Thing in Your Diaper Bag: Distraction objects! Benjamin can't sit still for more than 3 seconds, so diaper changes are extremely difficult. He is constantly trying to roll over. Keys, cell phones, his soother, a clean diaper.. all work well to keep him entertained while lying down.

Basic Save: Wipes. Buy bulk, buy on sale, buy the cheapest brand! They're for poop: don't need anything fancy!

Essential Splurge: Good butt cream. I'm still trying to find the best brand, but it's something I don't mind spending money on. I know I feel absolutely horrible when Ben has a bad diaper rash and I can see him flinching when I'm trying to clean his bum during a diaper change. You need a brand that will clear the rash up ASAP. (I'm told Earth Mama Angel Baby Bottom Balm is fantastic, so that's next on our list to try.)

Best Preparedness Advice: Don't over think it. I know when Ben was a newborn, I couldn't leave the house without preparing for every possible outcome. It lead to lots of stress trying to make sure I didn't forget anything, almost to the point where I disliked leaving the house because I knew I had to pack that silly diaper bag. Now that he's 13 months, we leave the house with just the basics and it has been working great! Since we take the bus everywhere, it's nice not having to lug around a giant diaper bag filled to the brim with baby gear. Pack what you need, leave the rest at home. Kids are very resilient; if you forget something, they'll be able to survive without it until you get home :)

OH and always tether everything to your stroller. Babies love to throw and drop stuff. We would have lost so many items if we hadn't bought our handy Elmo tether. Plastic baby links work great too.

Left to right: Snack container, sippy cup, portable diaper genie bag dispenser, hand sanitizer, changing pad (folded up, it holds wipes and diapers inside), tether, soother + soother clip, soother/toy wipes.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Battle of the...Belly Moisturizers

It may be a sign of the power of advertising, but as soon as I found out I was pregnant I ran to the drug store and bought myself Bio-Oil. I accept that my body will change now that I am creating life, but I want to exact control over the level of potential lasting effects - if I can. One container of the store brand Bio-Oil lasted me three months, and when it was time to buy it again, I was lured by the slightly smaller price tag and wholly cooler name of the Palmer's Tummy Butter. It is because of this venture into unknown territory that I can now compare the two for you.

The Details:


  • Smells like baby powder (which I already use most days, so no competition in scents)
  • Easy to apply (absorbs into the skin immediately leaving tummy smooth and dry)
  • Recommended application = 2-3 times a day
  • Cost= $10.99 (store brand) - $13.99 (name brand)

Palmer's Tummy Butter:

  • Smells like what I'd describe as artificial coconut
  • Thick, waxy application ( leaves tummy feeling tacky after application but very smooth next day)
  • Recommended application = 3 times a day (after also applying Palmer's lotion!)
  • Cost= $7.99

Straight up, I choose Bio-Oil. I preferred the ease of use, the scent, and the feeling of my tummy afterwards. I plan to switch back to my favourite Happy Time lotion after the baby comes, but in this contest, Bio-Oil is the clear winner.

I cannot speak to the stretch mark fading promises of these products, as I have been lucky enough to not get stretch marks (yet) during this pregnancy. I started using the store brand bio-oil product at 8.5 weeks pregnant, so it could be speculated that my new commitment to keeping my belly skin very moisturised helped to fend off those pesky markings, but no one can say for sure whether I would have developed them.

Bottom Line: You can't control how your body is going to change and adapt to any pregnancy, but you can do your part to make the transition easier on it. Keeping your tummy moisturised may not stop those dreaded stretch marks from appearing (or help them fade after the fact) but it is still a worthwhile pursuit. If nothing else, I love when my husband rubs my belly and comments on how smooth and soft it is. It encourages him to talk to the baby a bit longer and I love that family bonding feeling!

Tips to help fend off stretch marks
  • Keep your tummy moisturised. You don't need to use one of the products discussed above, any natural oil or lotion will help to keep the skin more flexible to change. The goal is consistency: get in the habit of massaging your belly twice a day. Choose your favourite scent and get lotion-ing!
  • Drink lots of water. During pregnancy, water is your best friend. It not only helps to keep things moving and reduces swelling, but it will also help your skin to be in peak condition for stretching.
  • Eat healthy. The right foods will help keep your skin healthy and moisturised, but eating well will also help keep those pregnancy pounds in a healthy range. The bigger you grow, the more your skin must stretch to accommodate.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Mommy Money Matters: Starting Out (Part Three)

As we have discussed throughout this series (in Pt. 1 and Pt. 2), the costs of baby items sure add up.  Once your shower is over and done with, you might well have a whole list of things that you still need to bring up baby.  While you certainly don't need to stock up on everything too far in advance, you'll need plenty of outfits, a few essential pieces of furniture, and some toys to start out. 

If you are lucky like me, you might have a baby or two amongst your family and friends that have some piece to lend or even give you.  It's a huge blessing because of the cost savings, but also to be prepared for one of those spontaneous overnight growth spurts! Free baby stuff comes with a different kind of price though - an emotional cost.  Here are some tips for successfully acquiring what you need without hurt feelings or other negative side effects.

The most common, and arguably most needed hand-me-down item, is clothing.  Listen; babies grow quickly and go through multiple outfits a day.  Since items will only be worn a handful of times, they are usually in fantastic condition despite having been "used".  You'll find you even get second-hand items that have literally never been worn!  They get forgotten, bought out of season, or just weren't the first mommy's sense of style!  Hey, fashion is subjective. 

When you get a glorious delivery of clothes, make sure that the previous owner is giving you the items.  Any items that hold any sentimentality to the first mother should be removed and taken back to her.  You simply cannot ensure that you will remember which items are hers to return them, and even if you could, use might cause the item to be lost or ruined.  You do not want that on your conscience. This is true of books, toys, and furnishings as well.  Can you pass them on to the next mom-to-be?  Only for babies in the family? Anyone in need?  Better to clarify in advance.

Image from

Once you know that the clothes are yours to keep, you might consider a look through and wash.  Even if the previous owner is meticulous, an inspection will help you sort through what your baby needs now, versus what will be stored with the clothes little one has yet to fit in to. A good scrub is all most gifted second use items will need. If you have been given a swing or high chair for example, most padding can be removed and laundered while hard surfaces get a soapy water wipe down. Your little one will be making their own spills soon enough!

What if the item has that "ick" factor we've previously discussed?  What if the item irreversibly smells of cigarette smoke, or is scarred with deep dog scratches?  It's your baby, you do have the right to politely decline.  You might mention that you already planned on purchasing the item, or that you were trying to stay with a theme.  You may have a trusted family member intervene on your behalf.  Ask Grandma to tell your well intentioned cousin that you are grateful, but would like to pass.  If you have storage space, you may accept and then just never use the item.  Who is to know? 

As a mom on a budget, I am extremely appreciative of any help I receive.  Once loved objects passed on with love to you is a sentimental exchange.  Remember that as you sort through your bounty.  And keep the cycle going!  You can't keep every party dress your daughter has ever worn, why not enjoy the sight of your niece in it at your next family function?

Monday, 1 September 2014

What's In Your Diaper Bag? Katie and Desmond

"Desmond is my first child. He’s a very curious and active little boy. He climbs
anything he can and is in to absolutely everything. I can’t take my eyes off of himfor one second or he’s into something. He’s really silly and funny. "

Having your first child can be stressful, but for a natural worrier like Katie, being responsible for a new little person opened the floodgates of potential things to worry about. Luckily, her parenting instincts kicked in immediately and she's proven herself as an amazing mother who has found the perfect balance between being prepared and rolling with the day to day punches. That's why her biggest advice for mothers and mothers-to-be is: RELAX!

"The natural instinct to protect your child is such an intense and powerful force and like most parents, I want to do the best for my child and keep him safe from harm which inevitably leads to a lot of worrying. You can drive yourself crazy worrying about every little thing: SIDS, car accidents, illness, injuries, strangers…the list goes on and on. Worrying about these things can be exhausting, and to be honest, it’s not the slightest bit helpful. I spent the first 4 months of my son’s life worrying about absolutely everything until I couldn't take it any more and had to change my thought processes or otherwise go crazy and drive my poor fiancé crazy as well. My advice is to just follow your instincts and do the things you know you have to do to keep your baby safe and don’t waste your time worrying about all the things you can’t control. Now that I am more selective of what I spend my time worrying about I can finally breath and live in the moment and enjoy this amazing experience of being a parent to this child I love more than anything in this world."

Great advice that we all need to hear. So, Katie:

What's In Your Diaper Bag?

Name: Katie Guscott

Baby's Name (and age): Desmond (13 Months)

Most Important Thing in Your Diaper Bag: Baby Wipes!!! Besides using them for diaper changes they’re amazing for all of the other messes a one year old will make. I use them more than I use anything else in the diaper bag and am always surprised by the various uses I can find for these things. With that said, they go fast so shop sales and by them in bulk or if you’re a DIY type person you can make your own.

Basic Save: Snack foods. I only buy snacks (Puffs, rusks, cereal bars, biscuits) when they’re on sale. They all taste the same to him and they’re great to keep in the diaper bag. Giving my son a little snack while out and about can keep him happy, quiet, occupied and out of trouble (only while he’s easting mind you) which makes life so much easier for me.

Essential Splurge: Decent quality diapers. I've tried buying the no name brands and I find them to leak. Dealing with another human being’s poop isn't the most glamorous of life’s experiences so spend the extra money and get some decent diapers and save yourself a huge mess later.

Best Preparedness Advice: If you’re anything like me (especially in the newborn months) I sometimes forget to pack something I need and have to improvise. This, of course, always happens when I'm in a situation where I end up feeling judged or embarrassed. In these moments, remember that this happens to every new mom and it’s nothing to feel ashamed of. Keep your basic items always packed in your diaper bag so you’re more likely to have everything and if one day your forget and extra set of clothes and your child spilled their entire lunch on their only clean shirt while eating out in a restaurant it’s really not that big of a deal.

Diaper Bag Contents: Diapers and Swim diapers, Wipes, Cream, Baby Tylenol or Advil or both (For doctor’s appointments where he’ll have shots or to have on hand when he’s teething), Extra clothes, Snacks, Sippy cup, Toys, Sun screen, and Hat for the sun.