Monday, 30 March 2015

What's In Your Diaper Bag? - Hope and Allison

On Parenthood
"...not what you ever expect it to be. It's terrifying and wonderful all at the same time"

Often in life, we make friends with people because of situations we're in, such as school or a job. Since circumstances change, you often lose touch with individuals who at one time you considered very close. This is one of those people. From sleep overs to school dances, Hope and I drifted apart in our twenties. Now (ahem) a little older, and toting diaper bags rather than back packs, we've reconnected. We can talk about life as moms with our kiddies in tow while our crazy husbands play hockey. Unlike Hope with a whole gaggle (and by that I mean three kids), I only have to worry about what my one son needs! I had to find out how this busy mom of two active boys and a growing daughter packed her main accessory now that Bonnie Bell lip balms and pencil cases are a thing of the past!

What's In Your Diaper Bag?

Name: Hope

Baby's Name (and age): Allison (nearly 1), but also Keith (6) and Ethan (3.5)

Most Important Thing:

Extra clothes, toys and snacks

Basic Save:

I pack a couple of newspaper bags for dirty diapers, make sure I have snacks and juice or water for the older kiddies and extra clothes for all.

Super smart! Much like Stephanie's savvy swap of dollar store diaper or doggie bags, newspaper bags are perfectly sized, free, and delivered right to your door!

Image borrowed from
Essential Splurge:

We don't really splurge on anything, if we have extra money and the kids have been good then we reward them with eating out or a small toy (ie hockey cards are a favourite in this house).

Best Preparedness Advice:

Pack the night before, then you aren't running around before you leave and forgetting anything.

Final Words of Wisdom:

Always double check your diaper supply, I have gone out of the house with only one diaper for a whole day. Not fun to realize you don't have any more in the middle of a diaper change!

Friday, 27 March 2015

Mommy Money Matters: Swings, Exersaucers, and Large Entertainers

My mom laughs at me for certain comments I made when pregnant. No matter how much experience you have with kids, there are just some things you can't know until you have your own.  For example, having started my family later than some, I had already filled my house with stuff and asserted staunchly that I would not have an explosion of technicolor baby paraphernalia crowding my space. Well... let's just say, it's inevitable. Your child needs toys to engage them, stimulate them, and occasionally just offer you a break! There is a limit though, for your wallet and room in your house. With so much stuff out there in cute coordinated patterns and sky-high prices, what do you actually need? The truth is, not as much as you think. Any toy you accumulate is soon out grown and gets relegated to some already crowded corner of your garage or basement until the next one comes along (or garage sale season).

With local spring mom swaps around the corner, we're doing a detailed breakdown of 5 big ticket baby items found in most playrooms and even living rooms at one point or another. Decide for yourself on what you should splurge, seek in seconds (see our tips here), or skip altogether!

Swing and/or Bouncer Seat

age: Birth to approx. 6 months
purpose: to calm the baby and secure them in a safe place for when mom is occupied for a short period.
cost: anywhere from $25 to several hundred dollars depending on features and brand name.

Although the swing was a fantastic addition to my home, I didn't pay for mine. I borrowed from my cousin whose son had just out grown it. Unlike my son, hers couldn't stand the thing, and it was in perfect condition. That is to say, it could end up being an extremely expensive blanket rack, or the mommy essential of the age. Bouncer seats are a little smaller and lower tech. They usually have a small mobile and a vibration function for a similar calming effect. If you have a smaller space, or a smaller budget, and you really want to buy new, a bouncer might be a fantastic option. They serve a similar function (a secure place to put baby if you need to fix lunch or run to the toilet), but a bouncer is much easier to move from room to room if your baby needs you in constant sight. If you have your heart set on that swing, and you can't borrow, you might consider buying used. These pieces are very short lived in your baby's life, and as such, remain in excellent shape for multiple children. In order to closely examine it before purchase, and maybe have a small guarantee, a place like Once Upon A Child is a fantastic middle ground between big box store and Kijiji. 

Exersaucer and/or Jolly Jumper

age: Approx. 4 to 10 months (from when the baby can support its own head, until they out grow it physically, or grow bored of it).
purpose: to exercise the baby physically as well as mentally.
cost: between $25 and $250 depending on complexity.

Both of these products engage and exercise your baby, helping them to work out some of that energy safely and in one spot, so you really only need one or the other. The Jolly Jumper is pictured above. It's basically a bouncing harness traditionally clamped to a door frame, but also offered with a stand for new homes that don't have the framing. That's certainly something to consider before buying one. Because of the potential to interact more freely with pets and siblings, this option really requires more of your attention. With a stable floor base, large tray surround, and plenty of toys and songs, I feel a lot safer grabbing a coffee or checking my emails with an exersaucer. Space is a factor, however, and you might not have it. This plastic monolith does take up a big chunk of my family room. These items see a lot of use, and can be damaged from child to child, but again, a second hand item will save you approximately 80%.


age: Birth to approx. 24 months (depending on child's size and physical strength).
purpose: to provide a safe temporary play or sleep environment.
cost: $80 - $250 depending on portability and bassinet/ change table features.

This a very functional piece of baby equipment. It can double as a bassinet or place to nap at grandma's. It's a contained play space for when you need to vacuum or (heavens forbid) use the washroom. I can't think of much in the way of negatives, other than the huge amount of floor space they take up, and the ridiculous prices they try to charge for one. Prior to buying one, I was under the impression that a $50 gift card would be more than enough for the cost of a raised box covered in mesh. Not so. That said, this is a piece that will get dirty. Food, bodily fluids, dirt from transport or outdoor use... For me, this is where my ick factor kicks in. If you plan to buy used, make sure it's opened, not stored in a handy carrying case. Make sure it is not torn, stained, and that it is structurally sound. This is serious business. Check out what the government of Canada recommends for playpen safety.

Floor Seat (ie toddler rocker, bumbo, etc)

age: Approx. 4 months to 3 years.
purpose: to provide a secure seated position for eating or playing.
cost: $25 - $ 100

Much like the bouncer for very small babies, the advantages of a floor seat include the stability, safe restraint, and entertainment of your little one if you are occupied for a short time. The difference is more in the conversion possibilities of the various models. Some have food and play trays, others potty additions, while others recline or rock. A select few also function as boosters that can attach to kitchen chairs, but be very certain this is the case with your seat before you try. The majority are not meant to be elevated. Consider what function you need to fill before buying a seat on hype alone. If you already own an exercauser and a high chair, you may not need one at all, unless it is to fill these uses at Grandma's house. If the fabric is detachable to machine wash, or if the item is largely plastic, this is a prime item to look for used.

Walk & Ride Toys

age: Approx. 8 - 12 months to 24 months
purpose: to provide encouragement and stability for new walkers.
cost: $20 - 50

I don't think I understood the purpose of this toy, until I watched 18 babies compete for the elusive 2 walkers in a local community play group. It is certainly a sense of pride and confidence they have as they parade in wide circles, occasionally running in to obstacles. The ride on feature also prepares your little one for the tricycle stage by strengthening their legs and accustoming them to the propelled motion. These toys do require some open space, so if your living room is small and you don't have an alternative, this might be more of an outdoor plaything. That, and the fact that they can be used well into their "terrible twos" might mean that the toy has been used roughly. The inexpensive new price tag might merit getting new (on sale if you can), but used is also possible if you're also going to use it outside. A little scratched paint won't impact the use, so it's up to your comfort level.

Kids will be kids, and things are not exactly going to be used delicately, but budget trimming is worth keeping a few more tips in mind. If you are planning on having multiple kids, keep in mind how you will store some of these items. Basement and garage storage will mean fabric should be easily washed and plastic should be able to be scrubbed. There are entire Pinterest boards dedicated to tricks involving toothbrushes and Oxyclean to keep your items sparkling. Even if you're not, the nicer your item weathers, the higher resale you an see for your own mommy table or Kijiji ad. 

How do you protect your baby items? Tell us on Facebook!

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Mommy Musing - Top 6 Reasons I Didn't Go To A Mommy Group This Week

Ah, the mommy group. The opportunity to get out of the house to commiserate and celebrate with other mothers. They are a much needed respite from the every day isolation of maternity leave where women can bond, and at the same time they are cesspools full of baby germs and rivalry. I attend my share of events in my neighbourhood to meet people and get out of the house and I've found it a very rewarding experience, but it's not something I can do too much of. So, here are the top 6 reasons I didn't go to a mommy group this week. (Or, last week, or whichever week I chose to abstain.)

6. I Couldn't Get It Together

This is not a newsflash: some days are a lot harder than others. So, if we didn't sleep all night because of a growth spurt or teething or if I've just finished cleaning up the third poo-splosion of the day, I'm not going to get out of the house. Some days the kitchen gets cleaned during nap time, the groceries get picked up on the way home from an extra long play date, and dinner is a new recipe I found in a magazine. The majority of my days look nothing like that, however. Most days, success means the baby is playing quietly on her play mat (finally!) while I get to pee for the first time in 5 hours. I try to shower every day but it doesn't always happen. The last thing on my mind when we're in between meltdowns is which drop-ins are happening that afternoon. Getting out of the house, meeting new people, exposing my baby to new faces, and learning new skills or songs are all important to me, but sometimes I just cannot get it together enough to add a mommy group to the mix.

5. I Couldn't Get There.
We are a zero car family. Neither my husband nor I have our driver's licences, but even if we did, we would not be able to afford multiple cars. (Or even one car, right now, probably.) So, when mommy events happen across the city or somewhere with limited transit service, we simply can't go. I've met some amazingly nice mothers who offer to drive baby and me to different meet-ups, but that isn't always an ideal solution. If my daughter gets especially fussy, or I have something to do right after the event, I am not free to leave on my own. This pressure flows onto the mom kind enough to drive me, as she tries to feel out whether I am ready to go or not when she's done socializing. When it comes to going anywhere with an infant, you need the freedom to be able to pack up and leave at a moment's notice, because, honestly: sometimes baby just isn't feelin' it.

4. I Couldn't Afford It.

Putting aside for a moment all those amazing mommy resources in the city that cost an arm and a leg to access (baby yoga, stroller-cise, art classes, etc) and the programs that require membership fees just to get in the same room with other moms - being in a mommy group can get really expensive. A warm weather walk ends at a fancy cafĂ© for a pricey coffee drink and baked goods. Lunch dates are hosted at up-scale sushi places or fancy restaurants instead of tuna sandwiches at someone's house. I know mom's are looking to get out of the house, (and also wanting to take advantage of the perks of weekday afternoons at different businesses) but my husband and I cannot afford for me to go gallivanting about town, spending upwards of $50 a day just to be social. Man, do I ever wish I could reap some of the benefits of these classes and clubs, though.

3. I Couldn't Make the Timing Work.

What is it with the people who plan programming for mothers and babies? The library story time is from 10:00-11:30 and my closest Ontario Early Years 0-6 month baby group is 1:00-3:00 (otherwise known as nap times). With all of the recommendations of getting your baby on a sleep schedule and "consistency is key" messaging, why do the programmes that are tailor made for babies fall right in the sweet spot of sleeping times? I understand that there will be issues with any time slot, as mommies everywhere rush to get a baby dressed, changed, and fed before going out (to minimize the chances of a meltdown), but I feel like certain times are more universally selected for nap times than others. As my baby gets older, she is less likely to sleep just anywhere, so I have to be strategic in which events I attend to lessen the impact on her precious sleep times. (Because, I really NEED those sleep times!)

2. I Couldn't Compete.

Personal sleep doulas. Lactation support technicians. Nannies. Swim lessons directly following pre-ballet class? I can't compete with other mothers (I don't think I got directions to the starting line) and some days I just can't listen to women talk about how their babies are doing everything sooner and better and with way more professional support than my own baby is. There are definitely resources I would take advantage of if I had more money, and I feel that exact same surge of pride when my baby does something a bit sooner than the experts say to expect it, but I really resent the attitude that if you aren't doing this or haven't purchased that, then you're not doing it right. A lot of my discomfort stems from my own insecurity, I know. I read into things and see gauntlets being thrown down where none were, but there is definitely a spirit of competition ripe in mommy groups and I do not feel like playing that game.

And, the number one reason I didn't make it to a mommy group this week...

1. I Just Didn't Feel Like It.

Just as a zebra can't change his stripes, a homebody, introvert will not change into a social butterfly when a baby comes. I like to stay at home. I like to go on long walks just me and baby pointing out the new and different sights. I like reading a book while my baby takes a much needed nap. Some days I am taken aback by how isolated and lonely I feel at home alone with a 4 month old but most days, I just don't feel like getting out there and making small talk. This isn't because I dislike people (I have met some wonderful mothers and babies so far) and it isn't laziness. I just feel stress and pressure when I'm surrounded by people and I prefer to be alone a lot of the time. I do know how important it is to expose my daughter to other babies and new experiences, so I make sure to get out there at least once a week. But, more often than not, you'll find us walking around our neighbourhood singing songs or cuddling at home with a book, and that suits us just fine.

Monday, 23 March 2015

What's In Your Diaper Bag? Celebrity Edition - Mila Kunis and Wyatt

Borrowed from
Having a celebrity baby is big business. One picture of the child of famous hotties Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher was the shot of a lifetime for hungry photographers, but they were very secretive, not even revealing the child's name or gender for a lengthy period after the birth. For private people, they have been quite open with how they are raising their daughter together. Hands-on dad Ashton in particular has been very vocal regarding equality for parents. He has even Tweeted about the lack of change tables in men's rooms! For gender equality purposes, maybe we should be asking him...

What's In Your Diaper Bag?

Name: Mila Kunis (That 70's Show, Ted, Black Swan)

Baby's Name (and age): Wyatt (5 Months)

Most Important Thing in Your Diaper Bag: Diapers! A classic, but when you read about this pair, it comes up again and again. Wyatt is mostly breastfed, so early on Ashton took over most of the diapering duties! No wonder he laments the lack of change tables! Mila also mentioned to Ellen that he's a "Master Swaddler," so I'm sure a few wraps and blankets figure in there too!

Basic Save: 
Clothing! Born well over 9lbs, Wyatt is growing really quickly. On Ellen "Newborn never happened," Mila said. "Newborn diapers never happened. And newborn clothes never happened. Zero to three. She's 4 months old and wears six-month clothing — six to nine. She's a big girl, ya'll." No point in buying Channel when she'll outgrow it in a couple of weeks.

Essential Splurge: Though not strictly in the diaper bag, US Magazine reported about the deluxe baby nursery the pair readied in their $10 Million Californian abode. She even started to limit guests to the home pre-baby in order to prepare.
Borrowed from

Best Preparedness Advice: Despite her celebrity status, Mila is not getting a nanny. She's enjoying the process, sleep deprivation and all, knowing every stage is fleeting. She explained it to Ellen like this:

"Here's the thing: when I go back to work full time and have to have 17-hour workdays, I'm gonna need somebody to come and help me, because I can't do both. But because I'm in a very specific place in my life where I could take time off, I did. And I don't think that everybody has that privilege. I think that people nowadays have to go back to work right away, and I didn't, so I took advantage of it. Like, I love the fact that the first three months she and I were up every night. And I figured her out and she figured me out and she now sleeps in her own crib in her own room, and I will never have that time again, so for me it was a really nice three months."
They seem to be a very sweet and down to earth couple, and we can't wait see this beautiful baby grow up!  Want to take part in a diaper bag profile? Click here to take our online survey!

Friday, 20 March 2015

Mommy Money Matters: The FAQs of Mom Swap Shopping

At WIYDB, we love a bargain, so you'll often read about how we've pinched our pennies on everything from diapers to toys and beyond. One of the ways we do that is by establishing when an item can be bought second hand (see our article here). If an item is large and plastic, or otherwise easily washed, I'm always willing to have a look and see if the price is right. A fantastic place to do that is at a local mom swap - a sale at a community venue, usually hosted by a mom group or a charity, as a fundraiser. Often when I talk about ones I've been to, or plan to attend, I get asked a lot of the same questions. Here are some of them, and hopefully some helpful answers to encourage you to have a browse.

How often are swaps held?

Since it's a community event, you can find one just about anywhere at any time. In your own community, however, they are predictably held approximately 2-3 times a year. Your best bet is spring and fall.

Where can I find one?

If you are already a part of a mom group such as Ontario Early Years, Momstown, or Yummy Mommy, they can usually point you in the right direction. Other good places to look for ads are parenthood charities (like our friends at Beginnings Family Services), churches, and the community events listings in your local newspaper.

What can I buy there?

It depends on what the individual moms have hanging around! Good bets are; clothing, sleepwear, large play centres, strollers, books, and toys. You can sometimes find; furniture, high chairs, maternity clothes, breastfeeding supplies, and a whole lot more. It's helpful to come with a list and look for your essentials first, so that you don't get distracted by the wide array of goods!

Can I haggle?

Sometimes... Often sales are set up as individual tables with the mom/owner of the stuff right there. This is a prime opportunity to ask questions and haggle, but might be a little more awkward to really examine the feet of each pajama set, etc. Other sales are set up in a more consignment store style, with items tagged to credit the mommy, but she's not standing right there. This is better for scrutiny, but makes asking for a price reduction a little harder. Not impossible though. The owner might be taking cash at the end and can be asked, or the representative on the floor might have been given some wiggle room. Bottom line? ASK!

What if I don't like what I bought?

This is the tricky part. If you buy something battery operated and it doesn't work, or bought a onesie with a great big stain, you're pretty much stuck with it. If you're still within the sale, you might be able to go back and explain - people are reasonable - but if you're already home, that's that. The thing is, the prices are so much lower than store prices, it's generally worth the risk. That toy might be fun, even without the bells and whistles, for $5. And that $1 onesie? You can try some stain remover, or just throw it out and call it a $1 lesson in checking better next time.

Have some more questions about how to score a great bargain? Have a story about an amazing mom swap find? We want to hear about it! Comment below or message us on Facebook!

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

DIY - Nursery Artwork

Back in September, we did a Mommy Money Matters post about decorating a nursery on a budget (see it here) by planning ahead, concentrating on must-haves, starting early,  and  making the most impact with pieces that offer function and style. The nursery space has an important emotional appeal when preparing for a baby, but it can be difficult to justify certain expenses above and beyond the essential furniture and fabrics.

Wall colour is the first big decision, but once you've painted, you may feel overwhelmed by the empty vertical space. Large, bare walls can make a room feel incomplete. You’ll most likely be spending a lot of time in the nursery for multiple daily dressings, feedings, and diaper changes, so consider adding some artwork to the walls to set a relaxing or fun tone to the room. It’ll be nice to have something to look at from the rocking chair at 3am while baby eats (or cries).

Artwork is a non-essential, though, isn't it? Prefabricated art - whether stretched canvas, poster, framed print, or other - can be expensive and the bigger the scale the bigger the price tag. I suggest making your own nursery artwork. You get the the double bonus of saving money and having a one of a kind space. Here are some suggestions for adding those finishing touches without going into debt. (As a bonus, you don't even need to be particularly crafty to pull these off!)

If you want to make a big visual impact it logically follows that you need to hang something big. Including one large piece can really anchor a room, but they can easily cost you hundreds of dollars to buy. An inexpensive alternative, that still packs the same visual punch, is to stretch a bold printed fabric over a canvas. Fabric is sold by the yard, so the price will vary based on which pattern/material you choose, and how big you decide to go. Something like this, this, this, or this, would look really sharp on a nursery wall, for a fraction of the cost of a large print or canvas.

Book Illustrations
You can pick up a beautifully illustrated classic or modern children's book for under $10 at a used book store and select three or four of your favourite images to put in frames from the dollar store or Walmart. You'll easily find artwork to complement any theme, and to set any tone from peaceful to silly. Try a modern space or underwater theme, or go for a classic Beatrix Potter or Winnie the Pooh theme.

Scrapbook paper
Just like fabric, scrapbook paper comes in an abundance of patterns and textures and you can pick up multiple 12x12 sheets for cheap. Michael's often has 3 for a dollar sales, and they have a selection of colours to choose from. I used two different kinds of scrapbook paper, and six $2 frames from the dollar store to  spell my daughter's name above her crib. Cheap (under $20) and easy! You can use it in other ways, too, though. Buy a stencil of your choice and paint it in the centre of a sheet of scrapbook paper, or frame and hang a bold print on it's own.

Adding the finishing touches to complete the nursery doesn't have to put you over budget. If you have a little extra money, a little time, and a little bit of vision, you can have a nursery you'll be itching to show off. (If you can keep it clean once baby comes!)

Monday, 16 March 2015

What's In Your Diaper Bag? - Stephanie and Aniela

"Our days are full of so many different things from smiles and laughter, to whining and food throwing. Not two days are the same, but every day Aniela does something new to make me smile"

Among the main descriptions you can use for motherhood, "predictable" is not one of them. The days are filled with a mixed, random assortment of joys and stresses. Stephanie knows all about how much a baby changes any kind of order you had before:

"Before I had Aniela, I was someone who lived by routine and structure. I like organization, and if you ask my family and friends, they will tell you I have OCD when it comes to cleaning and germs. When our little Aniela came home from the hospital with us, I soon realized my life before her was now the past... After receiving good advice from my sister, life got much easier. She informed me that I would not be able to control this situation and I need to learn to go with the flow."

I'm sure many moms can relate to this. It's a whole new ball game, and it can sometimes feel a little chaotic. Stephanie certainly makes it look easy. She's got some great tips for organizing what you can, so we had to ask...

What's In Your Diaper Bag?

Name: Stephanie

Baby's Name (and age): Aniela (7 months)

Most Important Thing in Your Diaper Bag: Wipes! I was warned about the different stools a baby has, but I was definitely not prepared. The explosions were just unbelievable! I have wipes everywhere!

Basic Save: I was using Diaper Genie bags for soiled diapers and then I found out there are biodegradable bags for diapers at Dollarama. They have a light baby powder smell and are great if you are at someone else's house. If they are out of the baby ones, the doggy bags are exactly the same.

Essential Splurge: Clips for soothers. I was the person who always said I would never give my child a soother. Well, that went out the window when Aniela was in the nursery at the hospital and the nurse gave her a pacifier. She loved it and still does. We cannot go anywhere without it. We were always picking up the pacifier and finding a spot to clean it. Now, we make sure it always has a clip and I found out that every type of soother has a clip that will work. The clips have saved us!

Best Preparedness Advice: I always recommend over packing. I have heard too many stories of parents running out of diapers or wipes or not having a change of clothes. I pack a lot in our diaper bag but I have never had a problem arise. I use a stroller most of the time when we are out so I can put the bag in the bottom basket and I never really have to carry it, so, it is ok if it is a little bit heavy.

Final Words of Wisdom: Have a lot of diaper stations. I use little bins/baskets and I fill them with wipes, diapers, and cream. I have one in each room because you never know when an explosion may happen. It's nice to always have supplies handy.

Items: Wallet, bottle of water, bottle, Camilla drops, toys, teether, sunglasses for mom and baby, emergency granola bar, lip chap and gloss, hair clip, nail file, hand sanitizer spray and wipes, hand cream, outfit, sleeper, 10 diapers, diaper cream, wipes, biodegradable bags, wash cloths, nursing cover, receiving blanket, small quilt for playing on.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Mommy Money Matters: Baby's First Wardrobe

Baby showers are a rite of passage for any mom-to-be. It's a little cheesy, full of fun and food, and then of course there's the baby loot! Nothing quite makes you feel loved like multiple car trunks packed full of blessings for your new addition. For my husband and I, although we were well and truly spoiled, we had an unexpected expense afterwards - clothes. We were surprised as to the gender, which made it unappealing, if not downright difficult, to find appropriate clothes ahead of time. Not only that, we had no idea how big my son would be... Did we need preemie stuff? How long would the baby wear newborn size (if at all)? How many outfits a day will this little bundle wear anyways?

While I can't help you determine size or gender (that would be a trick), I can give you a sense of how much you're going to need pre-washed and folded when you get home from the hospital and beyond. This list assumes you have a stock of quite a few receiving blankets, bibs and socks (don't go crazy), and are doing a load of baby laundry approximately once a week.

The first month

The first precious weeks of your child's life don't involve much. They will be eating and sleeping the majority of the time. To a point you wouldn't think possible, in fact. They will also probably grow dramatically during this time, so they won't be in anything long. Sure, you will have visitors, and you'll want a cute little ensemble for coming home, or maybe photos, but otherwise, keep it very practical. You want easy access for diaper changes and skin to skin time, so a bunch of decorative layers won't serve you well. You can swaddle in blankets for warmth, if that's a concern, but sweaters and leggings will just be frustrating. Dress your child (and yourself) simply so that you can focus on the important things; healing and bonding as a family.

Most important pieces: the basic white onesie, cute pajamas

Suggestions on quantities: 10 onsies, 7 pajamas, 4 bottoms, 2 sweaters

One to four months

After the initial growth spurt, your little one will level out a little. As they become more aware and you become more comfortable, you will probably spend more time outside the house. Since he or she will remain largely stationary, clothes can be a bit more elaborate, but don't have to be. They will be at a point where poo-sposions and large spit ups are a daily threat, if not a guaranteed occurrence, so you will need more separates for quick changes. A change for yourself in the diaper bag also wouldn't be a bad idea! I would recommend making sure you have a decent amount of neutrals to pair with the oh so tempting three piece sets you will no doubt be gifted and buying. A pack of bigger white onesies never hurts. They're cheap and match everything.

Most important pieces: neutral separates (pants and onesies)

Suggestions on quantities: 14 - 18 onesies, 10 bottoms, 8 -10 pajamas, 3 sweaters

Four to nine months

Tummy time and crawling are really starting to increase, and your little one will start to get more dirty. You'll likely introduce solids, go to play groups, and otherwise expose your baby to experiences that challenge them more physically. They will spend more time in carriers and strollers, making blanket bundling a little less practical, so you will need more layering pieces. While durability is important, you baby will still only be in sizes for a relatively short time, so concentrate on comfort. Even if you prefer to buy new, you might consider getting more rugged pieces like denim and jackets from second hand stores, as they are still usually in great condition.

Most important pieces: a good jacket, footwear not easily removed themselves

Suggestions on quantities: 14 onesies or shirts, 10 bottoms, 10 pajamas, 5 sweaters

Nine months and up

By this point you'll wonder if you had a baby or hired a personal trainer. Your little one will be crawling, climbing, walking, and getting in to all manner of mischief. This troublemaker will come home in mud, paint, yogurt... Even before they outgrow it, you might have stains a holes that destroy that outfit, so as usual, don't go overboard on price. Comfort is still important, so consider how your baby is moving and will move before buying the next size. Maybe loose tops expose your guy's tummy in the ball pit, or your girl always has her dress over her head. There are also functional pieces sold for your mover, like pants that have built in knee pads. Hey, why not?

Most important pieces: jeans, shoes/ boots with harder soles

Suggestions on quantities: 14 onesies or shirts, 8 pants, 8 pajamas, 5 sweaters

Again, this is just a sample as food for thought. Both my sister and I over bought newborn clothes, quickly going from "nothing to wear" to "too small." My cousin has only 5 daytime outfits for her son's current size and does a lot of laundry. My son had 26 three to six month onesies and didn't wear half of them! You have to strike a balance between fear of running out, and "when did he get this shirt?" You really want those cute outfits to get some wear before they are passed on or relegated to a closet for the next one. Shop smart and plan ahead, always the keys to getting your money's worth!

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Mommy Musing: Breastfeeding

When I was pregnant, I did nothing to prepare for breastfeeding. My OB offhandedly suggested I sign up for a breastfeeding class when I was 37 weeks along, but the upcoming course was already full. Since he didn't seem worried about it, and had never mentioned it before, I didn't pursue it beyond the initial inquiry to the receptionist. I, like many new moms, thought that since breastfeeding was a natural function, it would be easy. It's not. It is not easy and it is especially hard to go it alone when you've had very little exposure to it. While I was still in the hospital, the lactation consultant I was promised never came to visit me, so other than the first few times the nurses shoved my baby's face into my boob, I had no help in figuring out the logistics of latching, timing, or positioning. From that very first day, we struggled. I remember walking (shuffling, really, because of my c-section) to the nurses station that first night to request some formula, at my husband and mother's prodding. I was crying while everyone reassured me, but I couldn't understand why I couldn't feed my baby. I felt somehow broken. (Having to sign a form absolving the hospital of any responsibility for my decision didn't help.) 

Almost four months on, and we have never reached our goal of exclusively breastfeeding. I searched for lactation consultants after the fact but we could not afford an expert and I couldn't find any free resources in my area. I have never felt so helpless, inadequate, isolated, confused, or conflicted in my life. I have nothing against formula - it offers balanced nutrients to my baby that I may not even be able to offer by breast alone (I am notoriously low on iron) - but the media and my experience of watching other mothers always led me to believe that it should be easy. As long as you can produce milk, and your baby can latch, you can breastfeed as long as you want. I never heard anyone else discuss things like low milk production, formula supplementation, herbal boosters, poor latching, cracked nipples, or prescription medicine. I was completely blind sided when I had to take antibiotics for a horrible case of mastitis. I would be feeding my baby in tears because of how much it hurt. Why are we hiding our true experiences from others so that everyone feels like they are struggling alone?

I've recently started taking Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle (12 capsules a day!) to try to increase my production as a hail Mary, so to speak. Every day I feel as though I am producing less and less while my baby wants more. These are things I am only discovering now. While it is too late in my breastfeeding journey to go the prescription route, Domperidone is another option for mothers who are struggling to satisfy their babies with breast alone.

When I was pregnant, I set a goal to breastfeed for the first six months, and I feel very lucky that I have been able to give my baby the breast milk I have up to this point. Not everyone can even get started, for myriad different reasons, so I appreciate every feed we successfully complete. Especially since I still don't think my baby latches totally correctly. I will seek out resources sooner, with my next child, because I now know that my situation is not unique. This is the most valuable lesson I have learned as I have struggled and succeeded through feedings: Breastfeeding is not easy and you are not alone.

I just wish I had learned it sooner.

Monday, 9 March 2015

What's In Your Diaper Bag? - Michelle, Rowan, and Bryer

Mother of two, Michelle, has a great attitude towards parenting. She doesn't stress the small stuff, and laughs where some would stress! Full of advice, but not one to preach, she's been a great source of information to new mommies like myself. With a ton to tote around for her busy duo, she actually packs two bags for the road "One is a large backpack that can hold everything for both kids and has a ton of pockets. The second is a basic tote (mine is from thirty-one) that I place just enough stuff for one of my kids. Why carry a bag bigger then you have to?" My thoughts exactly! With that, we asked Michelle...

What's In Your Diaper Bag?

Name: Michelle

Baby’s name (and age): Rowan (boy, age 2.5yrs), Bryer (girl, age 8 months)

Most Important Thing in Your Diaper Bag: I would have to say diapers and wipes for the most obvious of reasons. Besides that I would have to say snacks and drinks (at least for the ages of my children). I think this changes for every age as their developmental needs change. A little tube of diaper rash cream is important too. Never know when the red angry red bum might attack! Some people feel toys are super important but I find my kids are just as happy playing with a spoon or a water bottle. 

Basic save: I would have to say I save the pennies on the extra clothes I put in my bag. I don’t always change out those clothes and they are backup clothes, so you don’t want to use your favourite outfit and forget it’s in there and not wear it often. I either buy these clothes on clearance, get them at once upon a child, or I use those hideous outfits that you receive as gifts. (I know someone is laughing as they read this because you know what hideous outfit I’m talking about!)

Essential splurge: When I had my daughter, I had two children in diapers. When we needed wipes, we needed quite a few. The little travel wipe containers were not enough and the bringing a hard container of wipes was just two bulky. We splurge and buy the Huggies soft case wipes that come three in a package. They contain almost the same amount of wipes as a normal tub but aren't as heavy and bulky. My son is now potty trained but he still needs wipes for a variety of reasons, be it sticky hands or face, or the inevitable BM in a public washroom. Sometimes toilet paper is just not enough.

Best preparedness advice: Always have a change of clothes for your child. You never know where that poop is going to go. And always make sure its season appropriate (I have been caught with shorts in fall because I forgot to switch it up). This is particularly important now that my son is potty trained but still sometimes has those random accidents where he just doesn't quite make it in time or doesn't quite control his aim.

Final words of wisdom… 

With my son I packed everything but the kitchen sink in the diaper bag. I have since learned to only pack what you need. I am not a camel or donkey, therefore I do not need to carry everything around.

What’s in the Diaper Bag: (Things get switched between the two bags depending on what we are doing)

Diapers, Wipes, Change pad, Small travel sized bum cream, Change of clothes for toddler (pants, socks, underwear, shirt), Change of clothes for baby (pants and shirt, romper in summer), Snacks with longevity (Raisins, dried mulberries, goldfish crackers, granola bars, etc.), 2 water cups (one for each kid), Bib (in case there is an impromptu dinner outing etc.), Little bags for poopy diapers (we have a little dispenser that hangs off the side), Ring sling, Breastfeeding cover, One activity for each kid depending on outing and these change/rotate all the time (teether, crayons and paper, little diecast cars/trains).

Seasonally dependent items: 
Sun hats, Seasons passes (riverside park train, butterfly conservatory, RBG, etc), Sunscreen, Possibly extra mitts

We lug around all sorts of extra stuff for baby already! Don't do more than you have to! Do you have some space saving tips, or double duty items to keep your diaper bag light? Let us know on our Facebook page!

Friday, 6 March 2015

DIY - Start Your Own Article Club

Let’s face it: we’re all super busy. Too busy to get to the gym. Too busy to have a date night. Too busy to even fit in a shower some days. So no matter how much you may crave adult discussion, or new stimulation, or time to ruminate on ideas, you may feel like you simply do not have the time. 

I'm part of a book club that meets every two months or so, and I really like the chance to discuss literature, and the inevitable transition into others topics, over tea and treats. It's hard, though, to read novels like I used to. First of all, when I get a moment to myself that would be suitable for reading, I probably have a list of other things to accomplish: shower, dishes, get dinner ready, or sit and stare at the wall while holding in sneezes so as not to disturb the baby. Chances to read a page or a chapter are sometimes so rare that I get completely taken out of the story and forget where I left off or important plot points. I love reading so I will continue to find ways to reincorporate it into my life, but I totally understand if you think a book club would be impossible for you right now. If you want the discussion of a book club without the struggle of reading a novel, why not try starting an article club?

What is it? It's the same general idea as a book club, but the required reading is much less time consuming. Choose between one and three magazine or newspaper articles (or blog posts) on a subject to read and discuss as a group. It's a great choice for time strapped parents looking for a social event to host. You can choose parenting articles if you're incorporating it into weekly play dates, or you can choose other topics of interest if your group is more diverse.

Here are some tips to starting an article club of your own.

  • If you can, find two articles that take opposite stances on an issue so that everyone comes to the discussion knowing what both sides are saying.
  • Pick a timeline. Are you going to meet once every month or quarterly? Articles may not take as long to read as books but getting together can require lots of scheduling mastery.
  • Set some guidelines. Does everyone have to have read the article in advance or can people who didn't have time attend without shame? 
  • Make it clear that discussions must be respectful. No matter the topic, there are bound to be opposing views, so keep the debates light.
  • If you're hosting, consider hiring a baby sitter to tend to everybody's children in your basement play area or den. Parents get to bring their kids along, saving money and anxiety, but don't have distractions during grown up discussion time.

If you choose the parenting theme, here are some article suggestions to get you started:

(October, 2014) The New York Times: A Cure for Hyper-Parenting - Pamela Druckerman

(August, 2014) Siri, Can you Make Me a Better Parent? - Jane Scott

(October, 2013) Forbes: The 5 Most Important Money Lessons to Teach Your Kids - Laura Shin

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

What to Pack: A Baby Kit for Grandma's House

Before kids, an early summer's day had so much freedom. No need for a jacket, throw on some flips flops and the world is yours. Fast forward to today, and even the nicest weather calls for lots of organizing and packing. I have to think about my diaper bag, I usually have a bottle cooler bag, if I'm going grocery shopping I have a bag of bags... Even with the best possible planning, life happens and you forget something. For me, that usually happens at my mom's. We maybe planned to pop in to say hi, which turns in to several hours, and possibly dinner. I decided a long time ago that my mom needed her own diaper bag of sorts. A back up bag of commonly forgotten or used up items for longer visits. Here's a few things to consider if you are building your own "Nana Kit."

Let's start with the obvious - diapers and wipes. I mean, for a child under two that's just a given. Those are really hard to do without, and are super easy to store in a little bag or bin. Start with a 20-pack of wipes and 5 diapers to see how often you're forgetting. No granny has storage for a Costco pack of Huggies just because you're forgetful! Along the same line, a mini bum cream isn't a bad idea. If your little one is prone to a surprise accident, you might want to keep a travel body wash. Both my son and my niece have needed impromptu sink baths, so it's nice to have handy.

If you have a habit of after dinner cards, or chats over tea that extend past bedtime, a pair of pajamas is also a good idea. I used to keep a set in my diaper bag when my son was smaller, but as his size got bigger, it's something that rarely makes the cut these days. The benefit is huge, however. If your little one is getting tired, you can do that bum change and jammie thing ahead of time to make a sleepy transition from car seat to crib that much easier. You won't likely need to keep any other clothes, as they won't see enough use. An emergency change, even at 2 in the afternoon, can be in to those pj's. Why not? You may want a bib or two, though. Whether its dinner or just a quick snack, covering up is a good idea. We keep a package of disposable ones at my mom's out of convenience.

Undoubtedly there are towels and blankets at your parents' or in-laws', so don't store bulky items like this. You can keep a receiving blanket or a couple of wash cloths for ease, but no more than strictly necessary. A play mat, books, or toys are a nice idea, so long as you keep it reasonable. Most moms would want that available, and might already have some from your childhood! If you are concerned about smoking or pets, storage of your baby's items wouldn't really help anyways. You will just have to bring them with you when you pack up your normal tote.

Some final things to consider:
  • Your baby is growing - check your Nana kit monthly to ensure there are still diapers and pajamas that fit.
  • Your mother is not a storage depot - your kit shouldn't exceed the size of a bread box, if it can be avoided. 
  • Babies are flexible - you don't have to have matching outfits and 40 toys at all times. My son loves measuring cups and wooden spoons.

Monday, 2 March 2015

What's In Your Diaper Bag? - Kelsey and Owen

"Our parents have been incredible at not only helping us adjust to this huge change in life, but setting an example for us of the parents that we want to be for Owen."
Today's mommy was a little surprised when she found out she was pregnant. "Mike and I were definitely shocked when we found out we were expecting Owen. It was something we knew and wanted to happen, but a few years down the line still. Although it was unexpected, it was the best surprise we ever had. Owen has changed us from carefree 22 year olds, to mature and responsible parents. People always say that becoming a parent will change your life, and they are definitely correct." Luckily, with an educational background in education and childhood development, and a supportive cast of family and friends surrounding her, Kelsey has settled into motherhood with a smile. Owen is a smiley little heart breaker who always looks comfortable and content in his capable mama's arms. So, let's take a peek...

What's In Your Diaper Bag?

Name: Kelsey

Baby's Name (and age): Owen (10 Weeks)

Most Important Thing in Your Diaper Bag:

Gripe water. Our little man gets such bad hiccups and this is the only thing that will help him! We don't leave the house without it.

Basic Save:

Our basic save is hand sanitizer. We use it constantly in order to keep Owen healthy. His dad smokes, so he always uses it after a cigarette. We use it before and after changing his diapers, leaving a store or touching anything that may not be very hygienic. With the amount that we go through, we buy it at the dollar store. 

Essential Splurge:

Our essential splurge is his diapers. We don't like the no name diapers on Owen as they don't seem to fit him as nicely. The brand name ones (we prefer Pampers) are definitely worth the extra money for us as we know Owen will be dry and comfortable. 

Best Preparedness Advice:

One thing that I would advise after my first 8 weeks of parenthood, is to double and triple check the diaper bag before leaving the house. We always seem to forget something and its usually something important (diapers, dry outfit). We also bring extra formula with us because we would never want to be stuck in a situation where we had no food for Owen. You can never over pack your diaper bag in my opinion. That's my best advice for preparedness - over pack. If you want to bring something "just in case", do it, chances are you will regret not throwing it in the bag.

Final Words of Wisdom:
Things don't always work out how you think they will and it is important not to get stressed out when your plans fail. When I was pregnant we made the plan to breastfeed, as well as to use cloth diapers through a diaper service for Owen. When our son was first born, breastfeeding was so easy and I was producing more than enough milk to feed Owen. Unfortunately, after 3 weeks Owen started getting extremely fussy while nursing, and was constantly looking to feed. After a few days, it had become clear that my milk had dried up. We had to make the switch to formula, but we were okay with that. As long as he was getting fed, and still staying healthy that was all that mattered to us. I was feeling extremely guilty that I could no longer breastfeed, but my mom and Mike's mom both continued to reassure me that it was fine, he would still be healthy, we would still bond and it was not through anything I had done to cause this turn of events. The diaper service that we had chosen seemed like a fantastic idea at the time. It was $20/week for 100 diapers. They are great for baby's skin as well. After just over a month, we were noticing we were not going through all of the 100 diapers, Owen typically went through 40-50/week rather than the 100 we were paying for. This is a flat rate through the company, $20 regardless of how little or more you use. We worked it out that each diaper was costing us 50 cents, which seemed very high. We made the switch to disposable diapers after doing some calculations that the ones on sale, ended up at 15 cents each.

We made the plans in pregnancy of how we wanted to do things, and it didn't work out that way. As long as Owen was healthy, and we were being financially smart about things, a few adjustments to the plan didn't bother us.