Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Best of Brands: Disposable Diapers

Diapers, believe it or not, are a very controversial topic. Much like breastfeeding, people strongly hold their position for a number of reasons. You have to consider the cost, sustainability, quality, and many other concerns when deciding whether cloth or disposable (or a combination) makes the most sense for your family. Once you've made that decision, it doesn't get much easier. There are dozens of competing brands and each one offers multiple variations on their products! Not to mention, you have a growing, living thing - the style and cut that fits your stationary newborn might no longer work for your active crawler!  

For those of you using or considering disposables, here are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for your diapers. I'll touch on some aspects that matter for the big two, Pampers and Huggies, mentioning the store brands now and again. The discussion might help you "pick a side" so to speak, and give you a hint when it's your diaper and not your baby that is the problem. 

Cost


The price of diapers is one of the most confusing variables of the first year. On top of the difference in cost between brand names and store to store pricing, the actual numerical size of your diaper impacts the per diaper cost. I will use a Pampers Swaddlers "Giant Pack" at Walmart as an example. This chart shows, $39.97 a box means a huge range of price per piece:




As you can see, as your baby grows, so too does the cost of diapers. Fewer fit in the box. But it gets more complicated than that... If you've ever heard about sight line marketing, you know that the products a store most profits from are right at eye level. Diapers are the same. Pampers Swaddlers in the "Economy Pack" is located on the very bottom shelf and on a later page online. They sell for $33.87, despite there being more in the box. 186 in the size 2 box. Yes, 54 more diapers for $6.10 less, taking the price per piece down to .18 each.



Shape

The more I talk to other moms about their diaper choice (it does come up), the more apparent becomes the importance of shape above all else. A well fitting diaper lasts longer because there is less fear of leaking or other diaper problems (like tearing during crawling or bunching during sleeping). Pampers has a tendency to fit higher up the back, and slightly tighter on the legs for a lean baby. Huggies is a more compact shape with bigger leg holes. You might have to try it for yourself, so get a sample or one from a friend before buying the bulk sized box. Don't forget your local store brand, if they are on sale. You might be surprised! A friend of mine found that the only thing that ended her daughter's poo-spolsions was the now defunct Target Up-and-up brand! The search begins again...



Scent


Some diapers seem to smell differently than others, and that factor plays a role in the brand a family prefers. I have often been told that Pampers has a very faint floral or powder like fragrance that Huggies does not. I agree, and I like that. Much of what happens in there isn't very nicely scented, so why not? If you like the cut, but are worried about irritation, almost all brands (including Pampers) make organic and/or sensitive versions of their products.



Absorbency

When it comes to long outings and night time, absorbency is the key. A lot of brands have special variations with an extra layer for extended use, for which they charge a premium. They might be branded as overnight, since arguably that's the longest junior spends in one diaper, but they are perfect for long car rides and other outings where a quick change isn't ideal.  Keep in mind, if your little one is constantly leaking, your problem might be shape, as previously discussed, or even size. If you went up too soon, or long over due, the fit will cause trouble.

Final Thoughts...


If you were lucky enough to have a diaper shower, you've probably had enough trial and error to know what works for your baby. If not, be experimental early on, while it's still cost effective to buy smaller packs and your baby is less mobile. Otherwise, clip coupons and always stock up when they are on sale. Buy a size ahead if the price is right! If you're brave and spot a deal, use your bargain brand on a few days while you're at home while you test their efficiency. There can be some, let's say "surprising" results. 

Monday, 27 April 2015

What's In Your Diaper Bag? - The Best of WIYDB?

When we started this blog 9 months ago, I don't think either of us imagined we'd still be going strong this long. We've put a lot of thought and hard work into keeping this blog interesting, fun, and well researched because - besides having a good time - our number one goal was to be a resource to new moms. There may only be the two of us running the show over here at WIYDB? but we would have never come this far or have been as successful as we have without the thoughtful advice of our diaper bag contributors. They are the life blood WIYDB; our inspiration for starting this blog and our reason for coming back every week with new content. It is amazing to be able to share thoughts, ideas, advice, successes, and challneges with this community. So, in this spirit, this week we're looking back on some of the most interesting, unique, and helpful pieces of advice we've gotten in over 28 diaper bag features. These are the little gems of advice that really bear repeating because they're bound to save you time, energy, money, or embarrassment.



For Baby:

"Check before you leave. An ounce of prevention is worth not having a pound of poop in the only onesie you brought with you!" - Seana & Elliott


"Wipes. Buy bulk, buy on sale, buy the cheapest brand! They're for poop: don't need anything fancy!" - Doriana & Benjamin


Essential Splurge? "Battery Pack - if my phone dies while I'm out I can recharge it in minutes." - Eve & Isaac

Basic Save? "Formula dispenser. Great because you can measure out formula into sections and then can dispense one bottle at a time. Have enough for 3 bottles without bringing formula tin." - Nicole & Hayley

Basic Save? "Coconut Oil in a small baby food jar as bum cream." - Lauren & Austin


Bum cream is just a start! This natural and usually organic oil is a fantastic moisturiser for a number of uses. Are you interested in some of the ways coconut oil might work for you and your little one? Check out the ideas on this great list.



"...if you have a dirty outfit or sleeper (even from just wearing it) fold it inside out. That way you can easily identify which clothes are still clean and what needs to be washed, cause if you're like me, by the time you get home you won't remember." - Aline, Zoey, & Elysse


"I used to buy Diaper Genie bags for soiled diapers. I have found it was an unnecessary expense. I now just bring produce grocery bags with me and they work just as well." - Eva & Gilad

"Consider packing an extra shirt for mom and dad too in case you get spit up on. I usually remember most of the essentials for Henry but sometimes wish I had thought to pack something for myself." - Jennifer & Henry

"...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." - Michelle, Rowan, & Bryer

"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." - Stephanie & Aniela


For Mama:


"...if your baby just can't seem to stop fussing or crying and you're at your wits end, give that baby a hug. The hug is more for you than anything. You'll feel better after." -Brooke & Sebastian

"...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." - Katie & Desmond

"Make sure to enjoy every little moment no matter how messy or smelly, you may never get to experience it again." - Emalie & Presley

Friday, 24 April 2015

Mommy Money Matters - Direct Sales



Whether you take 3 months or a whole 12 off, maternity leave is a very special time between a parent and child. You wake up together every morning, primed to spend the day sharing new experiences. It's a really amazing thing to be able to be there for every milestone, and to teach your child about the world. Even something as small as the first time touching grass is a memory to be kept close. So, it's no wonder that when it's time to head back to work, many moms start looking into options to stay home while still bringing in an income.

One popular option is direct sales. If you have a Facebook page, or have attended a mom-to-mom sale, you have probably heard of these companies. While each company has a slightly different business model, the jist is the same: independent consultants use word of mouth and social media marketing to sell products locally. There are no store fronts, just community representatives selling at in-home parties, local events, and online. It is very easy to get into direct sales, a nominal fee to get started and you're on your way to running a business from your home. Many women and men find that they can be successful and flourish in this arena but there are a few things to consider if you're new to this type of work.

Direct sales requires a consistent commitment from you. You only make money if you sell your product, so you cannot sit back and expect the money to just roll in. You have to reach out to friends, family, and new people you meet through networking to set up parties and direct traffic to your online site. You may find that you have a huge surge of profit in your first few months as those close to you rally around your new business and get introduced to the product, followed by a few months of weaker sales as you attempt to broaden your client pool. 

You also need to find a balance between getting the message out to those around you and overwhelming people with information and sales pitches. Some people have negative opinions about direct sales, or have many friends working for different direct sales companies, and feel burdened by party requests. You just need to read your audience and focus your energy on people who show interest, and don't pressure those who don't. Start a business Facebook page to share information with your friends who want to be in the know, and limit posts about your product on your personal social media outlets to 1 out of every 5 (or whatever ratio works best for you). Also, show don't tell. Instead of telling people the new line has arrived, post a picture of the pie you baked in your Pampered Chef pan or of your Jamberry manicure at a recent wedding. It's less aggressive, and shows people the product in a visual way. Pictures tell stories in a way words can't when it comes to sales. 

Direct sales requires confidence, dedication, and product knowledge. You have to have a passion for people and communication. It is not a job that everyone can do, so do your research before signing up with your favourite company. If you're thinking of trying direct sales as a way to boost your income, or in order to stay at home with your baby, I suggest you PACE yourself.

P - Pick a product that you are passionate about. Self-reported averages aside, the company you'll make the most money with the is the one that aligns with your lifestyle and allows you to sell a product you believe in.

A - Accept that it's not a "get rich quick" career. It takes consistent effort, and hard work to be able to continually share your message with new people. Be prepared to put in time every week to maintain your online presence and reach out to new contacts and acknowledge that most people never make a full-time salary doing direct sales.

C - Consider keeping your current job ... until you are totally comfortable in this new role. We admire bravery, and nothing shows commitment more than jumping right in with both feet, but remember why you're doing this: for your family. It won't help your budget or your bond with your partner and kids if you add a lot of stress to your lives. Once you know you like direct sales, and you have a feel for it, then make an informed decision to scale back to part-time at your current job, or go full-time with sales.

E - Educate yourself as an entrepreneur. Read up on entrepreneurship and what is involved in this choice, but also read up on information relevant to the product you're selling. Before you jump into a trunk sale, house party, or Facebook page, make sure you have valuable facts and information to share. You'll be more successful if people see you as an expert in health, fashion, skin care, etc.


If you want to try direct sales as an income booster, read on for some information we've compiled about some of the most popular options. If you've decided it's not for you, stay tuned as we look into other stay-at-home money making options for moms in future posts!



                           DIRECT SALES COMPANIES FOR CANADIAN MOMS                          

Company: Stella & Dot


What's Your Passion? Fashion / Design / Style

What You'll Be Selling: Accessories like jewellery, scarves, and clutches.

What You'll Earn: Up to 35% commission on personal sales (trunk shows in people's homes and through your online link). They boast an average of $800-$1000 in sales per trunk show and as a beginner you can expect to bring in $200-$500 a month with a 3-5 hour per week time commitment. You'll also earn a commission on introducing new people to the sales team. Payment is simple as any money you earn is loaded onto a VISA card weekly but it does cost you a small monthly fee to keep the card. If you choose not to use the VISA card, you can have your earnings transferred into your bank account at .15 cents per transfer.

What It'll Cost You: The Stella & Dot Starter Kit is $199. When you sign on as a stylist, you receive $350 of product credit in your name and 50% off anything above and beyond that during your 30 day jump start period. After that, stylists get 25% off year round but there are chances to get 50% off when new lines launch based on your quarterly sales. You must pay shipping on any orders you place. While you don't need to buy an inventory, you will need to buy samples for each new line of products as they are released in order to showcase the pieces at trunk shows, so expect a cost for upkeep. There is also a nominal fee for attending monthly meetings (to pay for the space and food) but they are crucial for learning new techniques and getting support from your team.

"I love the freedom and flexibility. I had been a Stella & Dot customer for years and was on maternity leave hosting a party, and thought why not! I love the company and what they represent; giving each woman a means to style her own life. The extra money helps. There are no monthly minimums to sell and incentives if you sell a certain amount. I personally love meeting new people and this company allows me to do just that. Either through online sales or trunk shows. A Stella & Dot trunk show is a fun experience: there is no cost to host, I come and set up my samples (jewellery, bags , scarves, little girls collection, etc.) you invite your girlfriends, colleagues, neighbours, and family over and we have fun! Our average hostess earns $250 in free product credit and 4 items at 50%."

- Jacqueline (Stella & Dot Stylist)

Check out the newest accessory lines or get more information about becoming a stylist:

www.stelladot.com/jacquelinepoorter  |  jacquelinepoorter@gmail.com
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Company: Juice Plus+

What's Your Passion? Health / Wellness

What You'll Be Selling: Health supplements like protein shakes, bars, and capsules.



What You'll Earn: As a "Direct Distributor" you'll earn a 6% commission, and as a "Virtual Franchisee" you'll earn a 14% commission on your sales, but there are minimum sales volumes to hit to get either of these titles right away. You get additional commissions for growing a sales team and there are cash bonuses for hitting targets in specified time frames.


What It'll Cost You: There is a one time $50 application fee to become an independent representative, making this the lowest fee to entry of all the companies we're looking at in this post, but you are required to purchase product samples, marketing materials, and other necessities for running your Juice Plus business.


"Our beautiful daughter is the love of our lives and brings us happiness we never could have imagined. I cherish every moment that I have with her, but I soon realized I could not make a good living and be home with my daughter enough! So like any woman would do, I did my research and asked mothers or women like myself what my options were to escape this lifestyle. Several woman told me about this unique wholesome food product that is really good for the body and it was called Juice Plus. Within a week of myself, my husband, and my daughter being on the product I noticed huge results. After a month I had more energy and had completely eliminated caffeine from my diet. Even my daughter started making healthier choices on her own and drinking a lot more water. So ultimately, because of my experience with this product and seeing the health benefits my family was receiving, I decided I wanted to become a representative. The chance to share my experience, make extra money, and help educate others about a healthy active lifestyle seemed like a no-brainer. All I paid was a one time fee of $50 and I now can say I own my own successful business, using only word of mouth and social media. With only doing this part-time, from my home, I have brought in an additional $1500 in my first two months. By this fall I will hopefully be working from home full-time. The best part though will be the all the extra time I can spend raising my daughter!!! To me that is the greatest feeling in the world!! This has been the best experience and investment I have ever made and want to share it with the world!"

- Casi-Lee (Juice Plus+ Representative)

To learn more about this line of health food supplements, or to get information on how to become a consultant yourself:
http://casi-lee.canada.juiceplus.com (Clee.juiceplus@gmail.com)
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Company: Steeped Tea

What's Your Passion? The perfect cuppa!

What You'll Be Selling: Loose leaf teas and associated accessories.




What You'll Earn: You'll get 20-30% commission on personal party sales depending on how many parties you have per week. With one party a week you could be looking at $450 a month in income, and at three parties a week you could potentially be making over $1600 a month. There is a chance to earn commission for team sales if you recruit two or more active consultants.

What It'll Cost You: The Steeped Tea Starter Kit costs $99 and includes popular teas, accessories, a tea pot, and the forms you'll need to run your business. You do not need to maintain an inventory to stay in business, but you'll want to have samples and catalogues to share. You can buy "kit boosters" for around $45 each. In order to be considered a consultant with ordering privileges, you are expected to have a minimum of $100 in sales in a six month time frame.


"I wasn't necessarily looking to get into direct sales when I decided to start with Steeped Tea, BUT for me it just made sense. My cupboards were full of tea, Steeped Tea was a great local, high-quality product, and I was looking for something to supplement my income to support my family. I signed up and fell in love! I also wasn't necessarily looking to grow a TEAm, but Steeped Tea made it easy. The support for consultants is remarkable - the company and founders want you to succeed. I have found the product to be incredibly marketable, it really just sells itself and my customers continually come back for more - who doesn't love tea or know someone who does?!"



-Erin (Steeped Tea Consultant)


To learn more about the world of loose leaf flavours or get information about this sales opportuni-tea:


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Company: Arbonne

What's Your Passion? Skin Care

What You'll Be Selling: Skin care, cosmetics, fragrances.

What You'll Earn: You will earn a 35% commission on the resale of products that you bought in advance at a 35% discount. You will also earn a 15% commission on orders placed by "preferred customers" (a title that has a lower registration and renewal fee associated with it). There are non-monetary bonuses, as well.

What It'll Cost You: There is a $95 registration fee to become an Arbonne independent consultant, and a $36 renewal fee every year. In order to maintain your rank as a consultant, you must sell $1,200 in a 12 month time frame. If you do not, you will be reassigned as a preferred client, unless you start again. You are expected to buy the product at a discount and then maintain an inventory for resale, so this is a more expensive option to start.

"The main thing about Arbonne is the fact that everyone is independent. This gives each person an equal chance to make money. You are part of a team, but you can also grow a team of your own. With a small start-up cost you can earn a pay check at your show or party. The team part of Arbonne is fantastic so you always have others you can call or message if you need help. Most of the people who sell the products also use them, thus allowing them to experience the true quality of the products."

-Dale (Arbonne Representative)

To learn more about the skin care products on offer, or to discuss joining a sales team:

www.arbonne.ca ID # 115230241 or dale.houghton@yahoo.ca

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Company: Pampered Chef

What's Your Passion? Cooking / Baking

What You'll Be Selling: Professional quality cooking tools.


What You'll Earn: You'll earn between 20-25% commission based on your monthly personal sales, and 33% commission if you build a sales team. Two shows a week could potentially net you $1,100 a month, while four shows a week would be closer to $2,300 (based on their self reported averages). Plus, you get discounted prices for product for yourself, to use and to demo.

What It'll Cost You: You have the choice between the $195 New Consultant Kit, or the $125 Mini Kit, to get you started. Both have the products you'll need for your first couple of shows. You don't need to maintain an inventory, orders are shipped directly to customers or party hosts. You'll want to purchase products for demonstrations, though, and this collection will grow as you stay with the company.



"Pampered Chef has changed my life in more ways than household income. Pampered Chef has given me the confidence to speak in front of large crowds (I may still fumble a little, but who doesn't, right?). I can be there for my boys if they are sick, or if they forget to take something to school. I am my own boss, and I get to raise my kids myself. My shows are like fun girls' nights out, and I get to have adult conversations. I love helping other moms start their own business, and teaching them great new family meal recipes. With our Freezer Meal Workshops, we have even more ways to help busy parents feed their families. Pampered Chef and I can help you solve many challenges.. pay off a credit card, buy a new car, go on a family vacation. You can work the business full time or part time, and I will show you how to make money and have a lot of fun doing it. Questions? Feel free to contact me."


- Roberta (Pampered Chef Director)

To learn more about the cookware or to get started with sales:
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Company: Jamberry

What's Your Passion? Style / Nails

What You'll Be Selling: Do-It-Yourself nail art and accessories.



What You'll Earn: You'll make a minimum of 30% commission on personal sales, and up to 10% in sales bonuses based on your monthly retail volume. There are also product credit bonuses (based on different criteria depending on how long you've been a consultant), marketing credit bonuses, and rank advancement bonuses. Payment is made weekly via Propay (a prepaid debit Mastercard that has money loaded directly onto it) or cheque. If you choose cheque, you must earn a minimum of $30 in that month and there is a fee of $2.

What It'll Cost You: The Jamberry Starter Kit will cost you $119 dollars (plus shipping and handling), and includes sample cards, brochures, 4 sheets of wraps, and the tools you'll need for demonstrations. You must sell $200 worth of product per month to be considered an active consultant to earn bonuses (however, if sales are under $200 for the month you would still earn your 30% commission) and $600 in any given 12 month period to remain active with the company. You have the option to maintain an inventory but it is not mandatory. New lines are leased every 6 months.


"Out of all of the direct Selling companies, I often get asked why Jamberry? It is because I LOVE the product, I believe in it, and have a passion for it. Any product you choose to sell; you have to love, use, and believe-in to be able to sell successfully. I started as a Jamberry consultant because it was a low cost investment which included all of the application tools and some free wraps for me to play with (along with a whole business and all of the necessary marketing materials). A lot of women in this country get their nails done so why not show women how to have beautiful nails at fraction of the cost. Who wouldn't want a $3 manicure!? I figured that if it didn't fly as a business opportunity then at the very least it would be a fun hobby for myself that I would love. In less than 2 months I had paid off my starter kit and started making money. I love that with Jamberry I get paid every week, the commissions scale is excellent, the support from other consultants and the company as a whole is exceptional, I get to meet new people, and essentially I get paid to have pretty nails. This is the kind of business where you can make your own hours but the outcome will be determined by how much work you put into it. I make sure that I talk about my business everywhere I go and am always giving out free samples. You are your own best marketing tool and so are your customers-people notice our beautiful nails and word of mouth spreads like wild fire! My biggest piece of advice when it comes to direct selling is to be patient and keep working at it and you will see that your business will build!"

-Brenda (Jamberry Nails Consultant)

For more information about becoming a Jamberry consultant, or to check out what's trending in nail art:


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Company: Thirty One Gifts

What's Your Passion? Style / Organization

What You'll Be Selling: Accessories like bags and totes.

What You'll Earn: Up to 25% commission on every sale you make (house parties and through your online link). There are non-monetary incentives as well based on sales performance. You also make a commission on the sales of people you have recruited to your team as new consultants.

What It'll Cost You: The Thirty One Gifts Enrolment Kit is $135 (plus shipping and handling). When you sign on as a consultant you receive over $500 worth of supplies and samples. There is a minimum number of parties or cumulative sales needed every quarter in order to remain an active consultant and you are responsible for purchasing swatches and catalogues for each new line in order to stay current.


"I originally got into thirty one because I love their organizing products. Then I started selling it because of how great their product is and how well they stand behind it. I've never had a product that they wouldn't exchange or refund. Plus, the best part is how they empower women! I've never worked for a company who supports and promotes women so much. They do so much to encourage and uplift us. They treat us more than fair. The product is made in China and they hire women there. Instead of paying them the cheap China wages they empower them by paying them more and United States wages. If they never stood behind their product or encouraged women the way they do I wouldn't have a deep love for them like I do. Plus, you know, doing this on my own hours so I can keep my family first is not a bad side of it either."

-Vicki (Thirty One Gifts Representative)

To learn more about the newest in organizational décor or to become a consultant:

Trendy Totes with Vicky Veale https://www.facebook.com/groups/244078929131315/

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**Note: With many of these companies, a personal business website comes included in the starter kit, but only for a trial period. You'll have to pay to maintain a website after 3-6 months, so make sure to include that in your business budget, as it is a crucial selling tool!

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Battle of the... Infant Tooth Products


You have likely been brushing your teeth for a really long time now. In fact, if you think back, you probably don't remember the first time you did. You can recall many times being told by your parents to brush, panicked adult moments in which you've forgotten, and extra particular instances leading up to the dentist. The first time though? That's way back. So, at some point between now and when your teeth first came in, someone started brushing for you. It follows that, at some point, you're going to have to start for your little one.

There are dozens of products out there to make this transition safe and easy for you. From cute little self-directed brushes that double as teethers to topical gels that need a little assistance, you might go through a couple of products in order to find what works for you. I tried two NUK brand products aimed at baby's pearly whites and here are a few of the pros and cons of each:


Gum & Tooth Wipes:

For my taste, this is an odd, and seemingly unnatural way to do the job, but it sure does. The fibrous cloth has a mild cleansing agent and a slightly course texture with which you can rub your baby's gums. Although extremely portable and convenient, an older baby will immediately baulk at a cloth of any kind coming at his or her face. They've been around the block a few times with post-dinner face washing and nose blowing by now. A more inexperienced baby might like the gentle scrub, but beware how forward their gag reflex is located!


Infant Tooth & Gum Cleanser with Finger Brush

This cute set feels more like brushing and differentiates itself from the large assortment of wipes we now all posses. The rinse-free gel is sweet tasting, which makes it appealing, and the finger brush quickly becomes an understood part of bath time. I feel it is targeted at the young eater, rather than someone exclusively nursing, but rubbing a younger baby's gums without the paste might also be soothing when teeth are just about to cut. It is a convenient way to apply a topical numbing agent, such as baby Orajel as an added bonus. It's not the easiest thing to keep in your diaper bag, as the brush needs to be kept crumb and hair free (ideally), but kept at a diaper station or with the bath set works extremely well.

In short, they could both play a part in your developing oral care routine, or used as stepping stones one into the other. If you only bought one, I strongly recommend the cleanser with the finger brush, but at approximately $6.00 each, they are competitively priced. Infant tooth care sets are sometimes priced well over $30.00 due to organic ingredients and multi-purpose brushes. This seems downright crazy, if you ask me. Just as your 16 year-old driver does not need a brand new Mercedes (unless you had unlimited funds), so too does your young eater not need top of the line dental products.

There is no definitive rule for when it's time to start, and as with most firsts, deciding when is tricky. Babies can start teething extremely early, with drooling and irritability abound, and yet not show teeth for months. Some babies, like my son, seem to sprout multiple at a time, and sometimes with little warning. As long as you're starting with an infant-safe product, you can start whenever you're comfortable. The gum massage can be soothing, and it's good practice both for you and your child that this is part of the hygiene routine.

Monday, 20 April 2015

What's In Your Diaper Bag? - Caitlin and Cole

"This has been the best year of my life. Can't remember what I used to do with my time... When you have a busy baby like my son you need the biggest diaper bag you can find. I always look like I'm packing for a weekend, when I'm just trying to get out to a program." --Caitlin



Motherhood can often feel very isolating at the beginning. As you start to learn your new baby and your new role, it takes a while to meet people that you really connect with. I was very lucky to meet today's mommy early on. As one of the only other parents holding a tiny newborn in a room of crawling babies, we've bonded since what feels like the start of our children's lives. Sweet and confident, Caitlin is just the kind of friend you need to ask questions and share stories. Through the sleepless nights, random baby freak outs, and teething misery, she makes it fun and manageable because you're in it together. It's not hard to see from whence her son gets his kind and generous nature!

What's In Your Diaper Bag?

Name: Caitlin

Baby's Name (and age): Cole (10 months)

The Most Important Thing: Burp cloths. Those things have soooo many uses. 

Basic Save: Diapers. I was originally buying the Honest Company diapers but those became WAY too expensive. We now buy what is on sale.




So cute and tempting, and with claims about free trials, it's not hard to see how mommies get swayed! Subscription services may seem easy and convenient, but do the math first! If the budget makes sense, do it. Delivery is way better than wasting gas to buy diapers or lugging a huge box on the bus! Being locked in when you're not using the products or the quantities is just a waste.

Essential Splurge: Snacks. I never thought I would buy puffs but they are definitely worth it.

Best Preparedness Advice: Always have at least two changes of outfits. When you use something make a note on your phone to replace that item. It's better to have too much stuff then too little. You never know what you might need or what you can lend to a friend.



Friday, 17 April 2015

Best Books: Imagination Inspiration

Ah, the imagination. That magical, wondrous part of all of us waiting to be used. Books are meant to inspire the imagination by taking us into the lives of different characters, walking us across the landscapes of different places (real and fictional), and showing us things we may never see in our real lives. Every single story asks us to use our imagination in some capacity, but some books inspire us in very unique ways. I've compiled a list of some books to read to your toddler to get them to think creatively, and to inspire new ways of seeing the world. Pick up any of these books in the book store or local library and get ready to have a lot of fun.

Book: Not a Box / Antoinette Portis

What Makes it Great? This is a book that is heavily dependent on pictures and not story, but simply put; it's about a little rabbit, a box, and a big imagination. This book challenges children to think creatively and to go beyond prescribed uses for things. As the character keeps insisting that what's he's playing with is "not a box", children get a chance to guess what imaginative thing the box is being used for using the bunny's position for clues. I have read this at many story times and the answers always surprise me! There are hundreds of ways to use a box. Also check out the follow up book with the same structure, Not a Stick.

Book: Press Here / Hervé Tullet

What Makes it Great? This is a book for the child who is obsessed with your smart phone. Throughout the pages, you're encouraged to interact with the dot on the page, seemingly manipulating it's movements. Press on it to multiply, shake the book to get it moving, etc. Children will love how they make an impact on the images by moving and touching the book. If your little one can already read, it is a great book for the back of the car on a long ride. If they can't read yet? Cozy up close and read it together, but don't be surprised if you have to read it more than once!


Book: It Looked Like Spilt Milk / Charles G. Shaw

What Makes it Great? Similar to Not a Box above, this book asks the reader to think creatively based on simple images. Each cloud picture has the shape of something recognizable, that your non reader can guess before you read the words. The pictures are no more than white blobs on a bright blue background. Simple and sweet. I suggest reading this book at the park on a nice spring or summer day, and then laying down and finding shapes in the actual clouds above you. Or, on a rainy day, you can create your own bright skies by gluing down cotton balls on blue construction paper in different shapes. Keep those imaginations ever working!


Book: The Book With No Pictures / B.J. Novak

What Makes it Great? While the other books on this list focus on pictures to inspire the imagination, allowing the images to do all the work, this book goes in the opposite direction. As the title states, there are no pictures at all, and the fun comes from the cadence and emphasis used when reading and the silliness rampant in the text. This book needs to be read aloud, and don't be surprised when your very visual child laughs out loud the whole time. When you commit to reading this book, you really have to own it. Use your most enthusiastic voice. Full of nonsense words and hilarious imagery (what does a robot monkey look like?), this book is sure to please.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

What to Pack?: Healthy "Food-tainment"


When mommy or daddy need a little break, or to get something done, there are lots of little tricks to keep junior occupied. Some are great, but not always possible, like getting the baby to nap. Some are always possible, but maybe not ideal, like putting on a kids' show. Then there's that middle ground. It's sneaky, practical, and also very effective - a snack. Knowing what we know about childhood obesity and emotional eating, this crutch can be a worrisome tool as well. Since I can't always remember to have fresh cut bananas with me, I decided to look in to some of the most common baby snacks on the market for children under 2. I'll rate them in terms of virtues (like nutritional value and portability), vices (like added sugar or salt) and cost effectiveness.

Puffs (ie Gerber) 
A modern classic for any snacking age baby is the "puff"; a whole grain puffed rice treat with added flavours ranging from savoury (like veggie or cheesy) to sweet variations (like banana or vanilla blueberry). Kids love them, and seem to be able to detect another baby partaking from miles away. While a fairly healthy treat, being mostly air and all, these are flavoured. They contain sugar, and are certainly meant only for occasional consumption. Ranging anywhere from $1.99 to over $5.00 for a can containing 42g, that's probably for the best. Remember, they are great for practising the fine art of the pincer grasp, but half will end up on your floor.

Cheerios
Before there were puffs, there were Cheerios. A whole grain breakfast cereal for toddlers and adults alike. While not marketed directly as a first food, the ingredient list is a lot more lengthy that your average baby food item, but no worse. They are slightly higher in sodium and lower in sugar than puffs, and much cheaper! A 595g family size box is only $3.98! If that's not enough of a selling feature, think about this - Cheerios can be strung like a necklace! It's a great afternoon activity for older kids and a perfect distraction accessory for grocery shopping!


Yogurt Drops
For a snack with less (or even no) grains, yogurt drops might be right for your baby. Packed with pro-biotics, these fruit filled treats are more chewy than their cereal counterparts. I feel that this presents the same choking hazard as raisins, for a much higher price. While careful supervision has made these little guys a hit with some mommies, raisins were a better value for my son. He just didn't dig the texture. Another thing to consider is the higher sodium and the presence of dairy, which might not be right until a little later on.


Rice Rusks (ie Mum-Mums)
These crunchy, melt-able treats are always a winner with my son. Low in salt, sugar, and calories, you don't have to worry about keeping these individually packed wonders as a snack on the go. While recommended for 6+ months, a well-supervised beginner could manage these, and they continue to be a hit well past a year. Although they're still edible, they do seem to get pulverized when stored in the wrong pocket of your diaper bag, so be aware of that when you're packing! With a huge assortment of flavours and an inexpensive price tag, they are my go to portable treat.


What's your little one's favourite snack? Got tips for entertainment on the go? We want to hear about it! Comment here or on Facebook!

Monday, 13 April 2015

What's In Your Diaper Bag? Celebrity Edition - Fictional Book Babies

We had so much fun a few months back imagining the contents of our favourite TV characters' diaper bags that we decided to keep our imaginations going with our favourite book characters this week. If these fictional babies had diaper bags - and really why wouldn't they? - (other than the fact that many of them aren't human) what would be the can't-leave home-without items? Since no one else is considering or writing about this issue, I guess we're the definitive guide. So! Hey favourite characters from our childhoods and beyond, what's in your diaper bag?

Baby's Name: Very Hungry Caterpillar


Most Important Thing in Your Diaper Bag? SNACKS! A growing baby caterpillar needs to eat a variety of nutritional snacks throughout the day to stay healthy and active, and this baby is hungrier than most. Keeping some berries and leafy greens in a Ziplock bag to pull out on a moments notice is crucial for a drama free day.
Baby's Name: (Unknown)


Basic Save: We try to save on anything we can. You never know what's going to end up broken or flushed down the toilet when you have an active little boy. If you're going to have to replace it more than once, why spend more than you have to? The dollar store is surprisingly good for the basics and it completely takes away the guilt of abandoning a mud covered bib in the park trash can. When we stop focusing on the stuff, we can focus on our unwavering love for our babies!
Baby's Name: Runaway Bunny


Essential Splurge: Definitely our safety harness. I was on the fence because of the controversy surrounding baby "leashes" but when you have an active toddler with a sense of adventure like mine, you need to take precautions. I may be willing to follow my baby to the top of a mountain to bring him back home safe, but sometimes a mama just needs to get to the bank before it closes.
Baby's Name: Kate Read

Best Preparedness Advice: Always carry a book or two in your diaper bag. You'd be surprised how often it'll come in handy. A longer than normal bus ride, an unforeseen wait at the grocery store, or even just a spur of the moment stop at the park on a beautiful day: it's always a good time to pull out a book and share a story together!


Baby's Name: Little Critter

Final Words of Wisdom: Children love adventure and new experiences, so swap out the contents of your diaper bag to suit that day's storyline. You'll need different things for a day with Grandpa then you will for a day at the beach with the whole family. While the basics stay the same, it's smart to pack the diaper bag with each excursion in mind.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Play Time: Favourite Tickles

We're big fans of reading here at WIYDB?, that's no secret. Whether it's a quiet bedtime story or a raucous afternoon story time complete with funny voices and call and response, reading is important to include into every day, where you can. But, there is more to pre-literacy than books. Songs, rhymes, bounces, tickles, and play all work together with books to prepare your child for reading and communicating throughout his or her life and, really, who doesn't like to play? We're introducing this new "Play Time" feature to the blog to give you tips, tricks, and hacks for the ultimate (but not expensive) play experience with your growing little one.

Why tickles? Simple tickle rhymes are a great way to bond with your baby using language and fun. The use of rhyming words builds phonological awareness while the movements help to connect words to actions and associate words to fun and love. It's great to add rhymes, songs, and tickles to a story time - to keep your child's attention and build different skills - but you don't have to set aside special time in your day to incorporate a tickle. Try a back tickle when you've sat your child up to button the back of her shirt, or do a tickle while you wait for the bottle to warm up (much needed distraction).

Below are some of my favourite tickles, illustrated and annotated so you can do them at home with your baby or toddler. Take a minute to try one out this afternoon!

Slice, Slice:


*If your baby can't sit up on his own yet, make sure you offer proper support as you do these tickle rhymes. Or, put him down on his stomach and alter the actions a little bit.

Criss-Cross Apple Sauce:


* Take cues from your baby. If she doesn't seem to be enjoying the tickle rhyme, don't force it. She may be fussy or gassy and just not feeling it right now. Try again later - after a nap for example - when she's in a better mood. If she still doesn't like it, just move on to another kind of play, like a bounce or a lifting song.

Slowly, Slowly:

*When possible, face your baby towards you while you play. It's a great bonding experience, and you can see that adorable happy, laughing face! Allow a toddler to do the rhyme on you for added fun.

'Round and 'Round the Garden: