Sunday, August 16, 2015

Sleeveless Bibs for Baby Led Weaning

We've tried a lot of bibs and bib combinations for our voracious eater and have yet to find the perfect bib. It's summer, so sleeveless bibs are working just fine for now, though I expect to try some more sleeved bibs in the future! Here are the features I've found to be very desirable:
A pocket that baby can learn to scoop dropped food from
  • Easy to rinse and quick to dry so the bib can be used for multiple meals before getting a good wash
  • Dishwasher and/or washing machine safe
  • Doesn't stain so it still looks cute after washing
  • Enough coverage to protect the neck of baby's onesie and baby's pant legs as well so that we don't have to strip him down to his diaper each time
  • Soft and comfortable, no hard awkward plastic that gets between baby and the high chair!

Oxo Tot Roll-Up Bib

I seriously love the silicone part of this bib. It rinses clean beautifully so I find that of all bibs, I can reuse this one the most before needing to toss it in the wash. Though its a structured bib with a pocket, its still soft enough to be comfortable for baby and not interface with leaning against the high chair's tray. The fabric part sometimes gets stained, but so far its always come out in the wash.

This is definitely my favourite bib thus far, unfortunately, I really only ever use it when baby is naked. Even tied tightly around the neck, food sneaks onto a onesie below. And no matter how you tie it, its just too small to protect the sides of a onesie and pants, even for my super skinny 15lbs 7 month old.

Goo-Goo Baby Perfect Pocket Bib

I have tried both the size large and size small with my skinny little man, and I would recommend skipping the small and going straight to the size large. It still fits pretty snuggly around his relatively small neck but it has extra coverage for his legs which I really like.

The pocket is good for catching crumbs, but not helpful for scooping food out to ensure it doesn't go to waste. No matter how hard I try, even scooping it out with a spoon, I find bits left when I unsnap it to clean. And wyatt definitely hasn't figured out how to save food from the pocket yet though he has with the Oxo Tot Roll-Up Bib.

Its very easy to rinse under water to reuse for the day before tossing in the wash, but doesn't dry as quickly as silicone does. In any case, I get at least 3-4 meals of use before I toss it in the laundry if I rinse it after every meal.

I've also been washing these in mesh bags in our regular laundry and they stay very nice, however stains seem to really set in. We have one with a white background and there are some orange spaghetti stains that just won't come out. (Though I fully admit I haven't perfected my wash routine to get rid of food stains!)

And baby's onesie? Still gets stained around the neck and sometimes on the hips, but not nearly as much as with the Oxo Tot bib.

Kushies Taffeta Waterproof Ribneck Bib

The best part of this bib is the neck. The white fabric has proven to be the best at protecting his onesie around the neck. The pocket, however, is pretty useless. It catches some pieces but its not nearly as wide as the other two. And because it doesn't have the brilliant snaps like the Goo-Goo baby one, it's a lot more difficult to empty of food bits after a meal. 

This bib is more difficult to rinse, so I find that I only get one or two uses out of it before tossing it in the wash. Also, because the neck is white, well, its no longer white.

The Verdict?

While I continue my search for the perfect bib, I'm alternating between stripping baby down to his diaper and double or triple bibbing him.

If I really care about what he's wearing, I used a three bib combo. Laugh, but it works: a Tommee Tippee Milk Feeding Bib, with the size Large Goo-Goo Baby Perfect Pocket Bib on top and left unsnapped to protect his pants, and finally the Oxo Tot Roll-Up Bib to catch food bits and make them easily scoop-able for small hands and for me to put them back on his tray.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Baby Led Weaning: Our Journey from Fun to Devouring Food

When we first started Baby Led Weaning, some days we offered food and others we didn't. If we were sitting at the table, we'd sit him in his high chair and offer him a spoon to play with or a big piece of food as you can see in my 5.5m posts.

At first, the goal was to offer foods that were easy to hold but difficult to bite chunks off of, since he didn't yet know how to chew and swallow. We tried a few things, but the best were fruit and vegetables with some juice that could be sucked out of them: raw cucumber, celery, watermelon, orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime and steamed asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower to name a few. We also gave our son bones with most of the meat and cartilage removed to suck on.

He then discovered how to bite big chunks off from these foods, which was terrifying because we were offering hard foods and stringy foods that were most definitely choking hazards for starting out! So I then offered roasted vegetables in stick form, that were soft enough to mash between two fingers. These were easy to hold and a great way to learn how to chew. At first he would take bites and spit back out pretty much anything that went into his mouth, but I was less worried watching him because the food was so soft.

One day, at 6 months and one week old and after 2 to 3 weeks of playing and gradually improving his grasp, it just clicked. He ate ten sweet potato "fries" in a row and I went off to roast every fruit and vegetable in sight! We also steamed cauliflower, broccoli and asparagus, and he was able to eat the tops but the bases are very stringy and difficult to mash without teeth and molars (I subsequently learned in my infant CPR class that these are actually choking hazards because of the stringiness, so to offer them with caution). I also offered other soft foods: blueberry halves, and one and a half inch long pieces of shredded chicken but he had trouble picking them up and also moving them around his mouth to swallow. We tried scrambled eggs on his tray and he had no problem eating them, though he ended up with hives and is actually allergic to eggs.

That's when I started experimenting more. Once it was clear he could take bites, chew and swallow, I started looking into recipes for muffins, pancakes and meatballs. I came up with my own allergen-free recipe for sweet potato banana oatmeal muffins which he loves.

I then started offering more of the foods we were eating at the table: chili, pasta sauce, sweet potato curry, lentil dahl and as a result he learned how to scoop up food using his hands in a very very messy way that he clearly finds very satisfying.

I kept offering different shapes of foods to see what he was most able to grasp and move around his mouth successfully, including small pieces that he couldn't really pick up. At 6 months, 3 weeks, he mastered the pincer grip which I expected to happen much later, like 8 months. Blueberry halves? No problem!

The transition was gradual, but as he started to be able to eat anything around 6 months 3 weeks, I now offer most of our own healthy meals. As a result he started to demand eating more often then just when it was convenient. At 6 months 4 weeks, a week shy of 7 months, he decided food must be offered minimum three times a day and must be delicious and full of sauce. The more spices (cinnamon, ginger, curry, cumin, cilantro to name a few) and flavour the better! I don't exaggerate when I say that I currently need to feed him three times a day or he gets angry. He wants food all of the time! It's been a slow progression with days where he clearly made huge leaps in his abilities, but where we're at now is nowhere short of amazing.

I'm certain there will be a time where the newness of it wears off and I'll have to coerce him to eat more, but in the meantime, I'm offering him food every opportunity I get!

What about allergies?

The current recommendations are to introduce all foods at 6 months except honey, for which you need to wait until one year to prevent infant botulism. If you're concerned about allergies, you can introduce foods, especially the ones known to be high allergens, one at a time. See Eat Right Ontario for their recommendations.

I didn't follow a three or four day rule, but I have been careful when introducing eggs, dairy and nuts. Eggs I introduced on a weekend when my significant other was home, which turned out to be a good thing because my son is allergic (turns out his grandfather was allergic as a child as well). Dairy I have waited because he has issues when I eat yogurt and drink milk, but not with cheese, so I've given him tiny bits of cheese but will introduce the rest progressively, with cooked dairy first. Nuts, I'm being careful with because my cousin is anaphylactic to peanuts. I plan to introduce them the next weekend we're all home.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Banana Sweet Potato Oatmeal Muffins

So it turns out that my little guy is allergic to eggs. I have yet to test how allergic or to see if perhaps yolk will pass the test, so in the meantime I'm experimenting with healthy mini muffins to keep him entertained at the dinner table.  These were a huge hit. At 6.5 months, he had never eaten any baked goods: bread, muffin, you name it. This was the first attempt and it was great. So moist and easy for him to hold onto, none actually went to waste. It was a little terrifying to watch since it looked like it was trying to shove the entire thing in his mouth, but he figured it out and ate the entire thing.

Sweet Potato Banana Oatmeal Muffins

Recipe by Dominique Simoneau-Ritchie
Sweet Potato Banana Oatmeal Muffins

Delicious bite-sized allergy-friendly muffins for your baby to bite into! These are dairy free, egg free, nut free and gluten free so long as you use gluten free rolled oats or oat flour.

Yield: 24 mini muffins


  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 cup oat flour (or 1 1/4 cup rolled oats, ground into flour)
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • pinch nutmeg (optional)
  • 1 ripe banana (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup sweet potato puree


  1. In a large bowl, mix chia seeds and water. Refrigerate for 15 minutes to set.
  2. Mash banana. Mix banana and sweet potato puree into chia seeds.
  3. Add the remainder of the ingredients and mix well.
  4. Pour batter into greased mini-muffin tins. You can fill them almost to the top as they don’t raise very much. Bake at 400 degrees for 12-14 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. If you don't have mini muffin tins, you can fill large muffin tins up to about 1/2 inch.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Baby Led Weaning at 6 Months: Banana

This was fun! The banana was really ripe so it almost melted away as he tried to eat it. I simply cut a banana in half, took the bottom half and scored a line about 3/4 of an inch down and peeled the banana up to that line. Once he started running our of banana (mostly because it ended up absolutely everywhere!), I repeated the process again. 

Beware, banana causes constipation! If you feed your baby banana, try also feeding oatmeal, plums, asparagus to help make sure he gets lots of fibre to help move it on through his system!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Baby Overnight Oats

I started making myself overnight oats for breakfast and I love them. With unpredictable wake times and being hungry all of the time, I find that its so great to have breakfast ready to go. I stumbled upon this great tutorial on Organize Yourself Skinny that got me started experimenting with my own flavours.

Since my son now sits at the table with me as I eat breakfast, I of course wondered if I could make him his own overnight oats, but I couldn't find any recipes! I'm mostly doing Baby Led Weaning and hadn't planned to do any cereals. But a few days into Baby Led Weaning I realized that it's important to prevent constipation and thus prevent having an unhappy baby that hasn't pooped in five hours when he usually poops 4 times a day, oops! Oats are an easy first food to digest and known to be good for preventing constipation so I decided to give them a try.

Which oatmeal to use?

So then... which oats to use? Baby oat cereal, instant oats, old fashioned rolled oats or steel cut? Some quick research led me to discover that steel cut are the least processed but also require the most cooking because of that. So I decided to give both steel cut and rolled oats a try. 

After experimentation, I found steel cut oats to be more difficult to grind and don't come become as soft when soaked overnight, probably because they haven't previously been steamed and rolled as rolled oats have been. As such, they didn't produce as nice of a texture as the rolled oats. So my preferred oats for this recipe are rolled oats.

Why soak?

Honestly, laziness. I'm already preparing overnight oats for myself, and at 6 months, a baby only eats 3-9 tbsp of cereal a day. In our case, because he's getting fruit, vegetables and meat as well we really don't need more than 3 tbsp at 6 months. Am I really going to cook 3 tbsp worth over the stove? Absolutely not. I suppose this is why they sell baby cereal which is almost the same as instant oatmeal only fortified: it requires less cooking because its already been cooked. In order to use regular oats, overnight soaking seems like the perfect solution.

If you do some research online, lots of blogs and websites claim soaking is healthier as it reduces the amount of phytic acid. That may or may not be true but my research yielded only results that claimed soaked oats were easier to digest than cooked oats so I decided to go ahead with it!

Basic recipe

1 tbsp rolled oats, ground
2 tbsp breast milk, refrigerated or room temperature which has not been refrigerated yet

Grind the oats using a blender or food processor. I used my Cuisinart Smart Stick as it has a food processor attachment.

The resulting oats are not as fine as flour or infant cereal but since we aren't doing very fine purees my son didn't seem to mind. If you're more patient than I am you can probably get them to be even more finely ground.

Ground Oats
Ground Oats

Mix the oats and breast milk in a container and store overnight in the refrigerator for 8-12 hours. I like to offer him oatmeal when I eat it in the morning so I just make our oats at the same time and we eat them when we have breakfast together.

Infant Overnight Oats
Infant Overnight Oats

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Baby Led Weaning at 5.5 Months: Getting Started for Fun

Though its highly recommended to only start giving solids at 6 months, we started a bit early with foods that were easy to hold and suck on. We really only did it as a way to keep him entertained when we sit at the table. Most of what we've handed him he's only sucked on and practiced chewing so far. He still spits out any chunks he manages to break off. The real benefit has been watching him improve his dexterity and also improving his ability to sit.

I make an effort to sit him at the table with me when I eat, especially at dinner time when everyone is home. He gets something random to play with, either a toy, a spoon or a piece of what we're eating.
If you're planning to do baby led weaning but are terrified of your baby chocking or gagging, you can try starting with some of the easier foods we've started with. Browse my 5.5m posts to see pictures showing how I chose to cut various foods when starting out. They are foods which don't come apart very easily and that are satisfying to suck on. Note that it's recommended that you start baby on iron rich foods, so though you might try to introduce a large variety of foods like we are, you'll also want to ensure you're consistently offering foods high in iron and pairing them up to help the iron get absorbed. Some foods are also easier to digest than others, so you might decide to avoid certain foods for the first while if you baby struggles with digestion.

Note: As soon as Wyatt started actually chewing and breaking large chunks off, I completely changed my approach to what I gave him. What I previously considered safe, I found was too hard and could become a chocking hazard when bitten off, so we then transitioned to roasted vegetables that were easily mashed when pressed on.

Baby Led Weaning at 5.5 Months: Orange

This was a fun one. I was peeling an orange to put in a fruit salad using a knife so I had rind with some extra juicy pulp on it. He loved sucking off the juice and kept going even when it was just rind. His face was priceless as it started to get bitter! This was really easy to hold for him and not too stressful as he didn't manage to bite off any pieces of the rind.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Activities to Keep a 5 month Old Entertained

I've been having trouble keeping Wyatt happy and entertained when we stay home. He seems to get bored quickly and even my old stand by songs just aren't cutting it anymore to entertain him. I thought he was tired when he started crying, but turns out that he really does want different activities and when I change it up to something he likes I easily get another happy 20 minutes out of him, which is saying a lot. He gets easily frustrated by the fact that he can't crawl yet and is constantly trying to move!

So here is my new go to list to keep me inspired and having fun when we stay home.
  1. Sing a song, especially one with actions or that involves touching him. (Think along the styles of head, shoulders, knees and toes).
  2. Bath
    You might not consider this an activity but he loves it, especially if I get in with him and pour water, spray water and kick water with him. It's a completely different experience when we're in there together!
  3. Sit in high chair
    Though solids aren't recommended until 6 months, Wyatt is loving sitting in his high chair at the table while I eat. At first I gave him extra support with blankets and just gave him a simple toy or spoon to play with. Now that he's showing lots of interest in food sit him there and give him something safe to suck on: chicken bone, broccoli, celery, watermelon rind, etc.
  4. Read
    Wyatt loves doctor Seuss books, I think because they rhyme and have very few colours on the pages. Though lately he prefers to handles the books, hold them and try to put them in his mouth. We do this little game where we take ABC, which is white in front and blue in back and show him the from and say "light side" and flip it over and say "dark side". Or open the book, say "open" close it and say "closed". This activity is part of our wind down routine and he just loves it. I also try to point out objects in a book instead of reading if he's losing interest, but he's not very interested in that yet.
  5. Wind
    I take a blanket and just fan him with it while he lies on his back and he'll easily giggle for 20 minutes. When he gets bored, I'll lightly brush his body with it instead of fanning it, he's in a phase where he loves to touch everything and that really seems to entertain him. He also likes it when I blow on his belly or toes or even face.
  6. Naked time!
    When he's upset, i often just take his diaper off and give him his toes while on the change mat. He loves sucking on them and likes being diaper free. If i want to give him some more naked time, i lay out this awesome $6 change pad from Ikea on the carpet and let him roam naked until he gets bored or pees or poops himself then throw it in the wash for next time.
  7. Go outside
    I lie him straight on the grass in the shade. Sometimes he hates it, sometimes he loves it, all depends on his mood. If he doesn't like it I might help him sit or lie him on a mat but with his fingers touching the grass. He loves the texture of it and of course tries to grab it and put it in his mouth.
  8. Massage
    Grab some coconut oil and rub it all over him, between his toes and fingers and those cute leg rolls!
  9. Blow bubbles
    Make or buy bubble blowing soap and blow away.
  10. Stack stuff and let him knock it over: measuring cups, tupperware or an actual stacking toy
  11. Give him every day objects to handle, one at a time: water bottle, tupperware, measuring spoons. Make sure they aren't small enough to fit through a toilet paper roll to make sure they aren't a choking hazard. I find he gets frustrated really easily with toys and objects if they don't fit in his mouth and are easily held so I use this as a last recourse. Some good ideas for every day objects on Plain Vanilla Mom.
  12. Play with water
    Sit outside with a spray bottle, peri bottle, some small plastic bowls with just a bit of water and let baby go to town while helping him sit up. Some more water inspiration on Dirt and Boogers, or try Coloured Ice Cubes and Water or Bubble Discovery Bowl.
  13. Explore smell
    Try raiding the spice drawer, maybe rubbing different spices on your fingers to have baby smell.
  14. Explore touch
    Either give baby different types of fabric to touch, or walk around the house letting him feel every day objects, the wall, wood, plastic, etc. You can even make a sensory board or bin with different fabrics to feel
  15. Peekaboo
    There are a lot of variations of this to play!
    • Take a toy and a tupperware big enough to hold it and hide in inside, over or under.
    • Hide a toy under a blanket and ask baby to find it.
    • Sit your baby in front of a mirror and show him how to play peekaboo with his own hands and face.

Baby Led Weaning at 5.5 Months: Asparagus

This was a big hit. We lightly steamed it and gave him a chunk of the stem to start. Because it's very fibrous like celery, it doesn't come apart easily and he can happily gum it for a while.

Baby Led Weaning at 5.5 Months: Strawberry

At 5 and a half months I'd only do this with a very large strawberry and watch carefully that the entire thing doesn't end up in his mouth. We gave him a ripe one that wasn't too ripe, so he was able to suck on the juicy flesh but the inside was hard and easier to hold onto. It was definitely the most challenging for him to hold, but he managed rather well by mostly sucking the tip of it.
We cut the top leafy green part off, though it would make a good handle if you don't mind your baby potentially eating the leaves.

Baby Led Weaning at 5.5 Months: Watermelon

I thought he'd like watermelon because the cold rind would feel good against his gums, and like cucumber it's mostly just water. I only gave him a bit of flesh so that it wouldn't be too bitter to the taste.
I might experiment with peeling it and just giving him the rind, I think the skin was tough to chew on and not as satisfying. In any case he enjoyed it, though not as much as broccoli.

Baby Led Weaning at 5.5 Months: Celery

I didn't think he'd really like celery because its hard. Turns out that I was wrong, the first time I gave him really fresh and crispy celery it kept him entertain for a good 20 minutes. I really like this as an option because it doesn't come apart easily, and it doesn't require cooking. So it's just something fun for him to hold onto.

Baby Led Weaning at 5.5 Months: Chicken

I tried to give him an actual piece of chicken, but it fell apart way too easily for my comfort level given that he's still only 5 and a half months.
So instead I gave him a bone. I chewed off any potentially loose cartilage to ensure he didn't inhale anything. He surprisingly found it quite enjoyable to gnaw on!

Baby Led Weaning at 5.5 Months: Broccoli

Broccoli was the first food we introduced to our four and a half month old, long before the recommended guidelines of 6 months. We did it thinking it would entertain him and help him practice holding objects, not thinking he'd really ingest much. Turns out he loved it, sucked and swallowed most of the little green tips off the broccoli and it was very easy for him to hold.

We lightly steamed it and let it cool before giving it to him. We also took care to remove any really loose small stems from the sides so he wouldn't suck in an entire stem.

Note that broccoli is known to be difficult to digest, and in the past was recommended to introduce later, around 8-9 months so keep an eye out to see if it upsets your baby's belly if you introduce it early.

The video below is of Wyatt enjoying broccoli for the first time at 4 and a half months old. 

Baby Led Weaning at 5.5 Months: Cucumber

This is one of the first solid foods we introduced to our son, mostly because it seemed safe enough that he wouldn't get too much off to swallow, and I had read that cold it would feel good against his gums. It was a big hit!
Though it's highly recommended to wait until 6 months to give your baby solids, and to start with iron rich foods, we gave this to him at 5 months as he just couldn't keep his hands off our plates.
Tip: If you're weary of baby swallowing anything and just getting started, cut the seeds off.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Mom & Baby Activities: Drop-In Infant Playgroup

Ontario has the most amazing free resources for new parents. By far, one of my favourite mom and baby activities has been infant playgroups offered by Ontario Early Years Centres. Don't let the name fool you, your little one is probably too little to really care much about playing with other babies. This activity is for you. If you're thinking about leaving the house for the first time and want to find a safe place to try for the first time, this is the best option. whether your baby is sleeping in the car seat, playing with one of the many provided toys, nursing or having a bottle, this is the place to be. You meet other moms that usually live in your neighbourhood, all with infants under a year old.

Many of the centres also offer toy lending libraries so you can bring home interesting toys for your baby to play with without having to buy them.

My favourite so far is the drop-in hosted by Mothercraft in my neighbourhood, where I had the pleasure of meeting many moms with babies born within a week of my little one (last time there were 4!) as well as moms with slightly older babies, which are great for asking questions about what to expect next. I also met a mom that lives a few blocks away from me, who is on maternity leave most of the same time as I am. The only down side is that its very popular and maxes out at 16 people, so you aren't always guaranteed the ability to get a spot.

To find a drop-in infant playgroup in your area of Ontario, go to Ontario Early Years Centre Locations, select your location and then find the links for calendars.

You might also do a search for groups on Facebook, as some community centres also host infant playgroups such as McKellar Park, which has drop-in infant playgroup the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of every month.

Mom & Baby Activities: Yoga

I did a lot of prenatal yoga and loved the way that it prepared me both physically and mentally for birth. There was no doubt in mind my that I wanted to continue doing yoga once baby was born.

Many yoga studios offer mom and baby classes, and some local stores even offer free mom and yoga. There are classes where you can wear baby in a structured carrier or wrap, others where you lay baby on your mat while you exercise and others that combine exercise for mom with activity for baby. There are also venues that offer child minding services, if you prefer to go it alone. Some will even take your infant as of day one and have no minimum age.

I had planned to do mom and baby yoga at my local studio, however when I got the all clear to exercise at 6 weeks postpartum, I realized the last thing I wanted to do was pay to only hopefully get to do any yoga depending on how baby was doing at the time. Yoga is supposed to be relaxing! It's difficult to guarantee you'll get to relax for an entire hour to hour and a half class, so I opted to try a free option: Mom & Baby Yoga at Bayshore Shopping Centre.

The yoga at Bayshore Shopping Centre is an hour long class, and baby is included in the poses. There's a lot of ups and downs and moving baby around which I found to be too much for my infant, so I left him on the mat for most of the class. When he was tired, I popped him in my Lillebaby carrier and did my best to follow along. Because it was free, it wasn't a big deal that I needed to hold him for the latter half. Also, being at a mall, I was then able to go for lunch and shopping.

The best part? Bayshore Shopping Centre has a great new nursing room with multiple chairs tucked away by the food court, so when it was time to nurse we headed over there, nursed, changed diapers and let baby have some more play time on our yoga mats before heading out.

Some other providers of Mom & Baby Yoga in Ottawa:
Many providers offer a free introductory class, so don't hesitate to give it a try to see if its right for you.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Mom & Baby Activities: Singing

I thought I knew a lot of songs, but having a baby really put my knowledge of lyrics to the test!

Singing was the most consistent way to get our little 6 week old to smile, so we found ourselves rushing to find songs we liked along with their lyrics. I now regularly sing upbeat songs to elicit smiles out of my little one, and we selected a couple of wind down songs to use before nap or bedtime.

I discovered a number of programs that involve singing for infants, and registered for one in my neighbourhood. This is the first activity I signed up for, as its stress free: you can sing while feeding, changing a diaper, holding a sleeping baby, so no matter what mood your baby is in you can get something out of this activity.

The program I signed up for is Hush-a-Bye Babies. I've attended a session in Westboro twice so far and its been well organized and very easy to manage with my son. The moms are all very nice, and because its in such a good neighbourhood people tend to stick around and go for tea or lunch afterwards. Alice, the host, provides a healthy baked treat and fruit during a mid-class break, which offers a great opportunity to get to know the other moms.

In Ottawa, there are quite a few options available. These are the options I found while searching for a class to register for:
  • Hush-a-Bye Babies is a paid program offered in multiple locations around the city. The host brings snacks and there is an emphasis on meeting other parents.
  • The Ottawa Public Library offers free sessions, named Babytime. These are great but not as good of a way to connect with other moms, as daycares and nannies also make heavy use of this free program.
  • Kindermusik for which you can register via the Ottawa Recreations Program.
  • Making Music Meaningful offers both French and English programs. Its similar to Hush-a-Bye, but classes are only 30 minutes and they also include a short bout of the instructor playing an instrument, which varies weekly, for the babies to listen to.
  • In the summer, Monkey Rock Music offers free infant-appropriate sessions in the park.
  • For slightly older infants, Mothercraft offers a 2 session Baby Signs and Songs series. Its said that babies as young as 9 months can learn how to sign before they learn to speak, and this workshop emphasizes learning to communicate with your baby before they talk by learning songs and signs. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Top Uses for Carriers with a Newborn

I purchased quite a few carriers prior to our son being born, not knowing what I would prefer using and what would work best for us. Most are 100% washable, so I picked most up used, gave them a wash and had them ready for when he was born.

Before deciding on any carrier, consider what you'll use it for most, and consider buying more than one.

Convincing your baby to have a long nap which doesn't constrain you to the couch

Your newborn will love snuggling up to you, and you'll enjoy it too, but you'll enjoy it even more if you feel like you can walk around or at least have your arms free.

In particular, stretchy wraps such as the Boba and Moby are awesome for cuddling up with a newborn, especially in winter. Additionally, stretchy wraps are a lot like swaddles, and can help your baby fall asleep. I haven't yet mastered the art of putting baby to sleep as soon as he's tired, and often have to sway, shhh, bounce, etc to get him to sleep, and the stretchy wrap is perfect for that. He often fights it when first put in, but within minutes of walking around in circles, he's out and can sleep for hours, even well beyond his next feeding time if I'm not paying attention.

Soothing your newborn while out on the go

My baby doesn't always take to the carseat well, and can go from asleep to crying in about 3 seconds. As a result, I keep a lightweight easy carrier in my diaper bag at all times. A couple of good options for this are a one-layered simple ring sling (less padding and fabric means it takes up less space) and mei tais without too much extra padding. I currently keep the Sakura Bloom Classic in my diaper bag but am keeping my eyes out for a mei tai I like.

Wearing your baby for long periods of time, even while awake

As your baby spends more time awake and wants to see more and move around more, you'll want to find a carrier that is extremely comfortable for the both of you, so he learns to enjoy being in it when awake and also so you can wear it for long periods of time without injuring your back.

I've found that for longer period of time, soft structured carriers (SSCs) are very comfortable. Also, my baby prefers being in an SSC while awake compared to a wrap as he's more free to move around and not as stuck to me. A few examples of these are the Ergobaby, Lillebaby Carriers, Beco Gemini, Tula Baby Carrier.

Our First Winter Walk in the Stroller

February 2015 was apparently the coldest February on record for 115 years. So naturally I've been terrified to take our son outside until the past two weeks where we've seen "warm weather" of -10 Celsius.

It was -2 Celsius midday yesterday, and I finally took him for a long walk, of about 30 minutes each way in the stroller instead of wearing him. So wonderful for my back! I still haven't mastered the keeping him warm but not too warm. On the way there, his little fingers got a bit cold because I tucked them into his snowsuit but didn't put the mitts on properly, and on the way back, I think he overheated as I added an extra blanket.

WARNING: The following is definitely too many layers for -2C, as he was unhappy when I got home and his back was slightly red and splotchy which I assume was heat rash!

Here's what overdoing it looks like!

A few too many layers for a sunny -2C winter day?
The breakdown of how I layered him up:
  • Cotton sleeper
  • Fleece snow suit and little mitts
    Mommy, why are you putting so many layers on me?
  • Fleece blanket
  • 7 A.M. Blanket 212 evolution on its smallest size
  • Put the Uppababy Cruz stroller cover up to block the wind and the sun
I suppose if I really wanted to overdo it I could have put the raincover on the stroller too, thankfully I didn't!

The Summer Infant WrapSack

You may have seen my post on Newborn Swaddles, in which I compare all of the swaddles I tried on my newborn. Well, now that my son has outgrown all of our swaddles, I was able to go out and purchase any swaddle of my liking!

After quite a bit of research, I settled on the Summer Infant WrapSack. It's as easy to use as the SwaddleMe, but doesn't constrain his legs, and has a zipper for easy nighttime diaper changes (of course, at 9 weeks, we now finally rarely need to change his diaper at night!)

It's a bit wide, as we purchased the size Large which is designed for babies 14lbs+ and Wyatt is just under 11lbs. However, after a wash and a trip to the dryer, its actually not much wider than the HALO newborn swaddle we've been using up until now, and we're still able to tie him tightly enough in it for it to be safe. Here he is peacefully sleeping with one arm out.

Summer Infant WrapSack
We never really needed to constrain his legs, so I think we would have loved this swaddle in a size small when he was born, assuming that the size would fit as nicely as the SwaddleMe.

Pregnancy and Babywearing in Winter with the M Coat

After trying on multiple coat extensions for pregnancy and babywearing, I opted to purchase the M Coat. I actually loved the panels, and will likely get one in the future, however with the jackets I currently own I didn't find that the panels looked good or fit well. For pregnancy, the panels look best with a mid-length jacket, and my winter jackets are either too long or too short.

In pregnancy, I found the M Coat to look a bit bulky on my small frame, but it was comfortable and kept me very warm. Except for my legs which were used to being covered by a knee length winter jacket.

For babywearing, I absolutely love it. The jacket is nice so I have no problems wearing it as my primary jacket, which means I can just pack the panel in my diaper bag with a carrier and I'm ready to take baby for a walk no matter where I go.

Going for a walk in -10C with our 10lbs 8 week old son
In the above picture, our son is wearing a light cotton sleeper inside the Boba Wrap, and I've zipped up my fiance's sweatshirt around us before finally putting the jacket on. And we were way too warm, the sweater was too much! Below, you can see the full jacket on another day. Underneath I'm wearing our son with the Lillebaby Complete Original. He's wearing a fleece sleeper and we don't have another layer on top of us and we are cozy warm.

Walking in -5C with our 10 week old


  • Fits well without the panel, no one would know that its made for babywearing
  • Pockets hold a lot which is useful when wearing your baby
  • The panel fits the jacket perfectly, no messing with the positioning of a panel that wasn't made for your jacket
  • The panel is perfectly designed to shield your baby's head from the wind
  • The panel can easily be folded down for nicer days or for an older baby so he can look around
  • Machine washable


  • Sleeves are made very short; I always need to wear mitts with this jacket
  • Pockets don't allow you to just put your hands in them as the opening is on top, not on the side
  • Pockets are bulky in pregnancy and add width where you don't need extra width!
  • The length is too short for cold winter days, and as baby grows his legs will become too long to fit under the jacket
  • The panel is a fixed width and can only be tightened in one spot, which is fine for babywearing, but for pregnancy makes it quite big when you're in that awkward in-between stage where your current jackets don't fit but you aren't showing significantly; both coat extensions offer a way to make the width smaller
  • The jacket and panel can't be cinched at the bottom, so babies legs can get a bit chilly in colder weather. That's why wearing a big sweater on top of both of us works really well

Would I buy it again? Absolutely. However, I was able to find a used jacket in new condition at half price. At full price, I'd consider getting myself a warmer, long length, Canada Goose jacket with a Kokoala panel if I'm pregnant again in winter. Yes, its a splurge, but these jackets are extremely warm and you get the extra length.

Removing Newborn Poop Stains

We've all done it: continued to use the remainder of the diapers in a certain size because they "still fit" and we have 50 more to get through. Or, if you're like me and a first time mom, it might take you a few days to realize that poop suddenly escaping the diaper is a sign that its time to move up a size, even if the diaper appears to fit perfectly.

I tried spot treating these stains with Shout, soaking overnight in Oxyclean, washing pjs a couple of times and I couldn't get these awful stains out. And all of these methods are pretty abrasive and left the clothing looking not quite new.

As a result of cloth diapering, I found an absolutely free and very simple solution... sunshine! Stains easily disappear with no rubbing or soaking when drying in the sun. This strategy works especially well on 100% cotton clothing, which is the case for most baby clothes, but I've succeeded in using it on other fabrics as well. So, how do you do it?

  1. Rinse the area with cold water, making sure to remove any seedy bits
  2. Hang to dry in the direct sun, outside or inside by a sunny window
  3. Toss it into the wash as you usually would

This approach works very quickly if the stain is fresh, but even a set in stain will disappear. You can repeat 1 and 2 a few times for really set in stains.

Diaper after sitting in the sun for only an hour

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Newborn Swaddles

If you've read or watched Happiest Baby on the Block, then you know that one of the keys to settling an infant and keeping the moro reflex from waking him is to swaddle. We tried every option we had in the house to get him to settle when he was fussy in that first week, with varying success, until finally getting into a routine.

Our son was born at 7lb 3oz, skinny and long. We tested these options between 6lb 15oz and about 9lb. His narrow frame is a bit more challenging to fit snuggly, but overall there are a lot of options that are working for us. At 4 weeks, he's comfortably sleeping swaddled every night in the Summer Infant SwaddleMe, mostly because we have three of them, and every now and then we rotate another option in.

Currently, it being -20 Celsius outside, we put him to sleep in two cotton sleepers, and then put the swaddle on top of that.

Summer Infant SwaddleMe - Size Small/Medium

The Summer Infant SwaddleMe is our go to option, as it fits the most snuggly and is the easiest to take on and off.

Summer Infant SwaddleMeSummer Infant SwaddleMe

Reasons we love it:
  • Made narrow, fits nicely on our thin 7lb newborn
  • Easy to wrap tightly as there isn't a lot of extra fabric
  • Though its not designed to be used this way, we often leave one arm out of the swaddle
Reasons I really dislike using it:
  • Must be removed to change diaper, a huge con if you have an infant that hates being changed and needs to be changed every time he is fed as this just lengthens the entire process
  • The velcro is quite loud, so if you do have a calm baby that can almost sleep through a diaper change, the velcro will likely wake him
  • The first few times we used it he easily got at least one arm out, which may have been because he was very small or because we were too afraid to swaddle him tightly enough

Halo SleepSack Swaddle - Size Newborn 

The major difference with the Halo SleepSack Swaddle is that it has an inner layer that you put on your baby, with arm holes and a zipper to close, prior to swaddling. I think this would be really great in the summer when you don't need an extra sleeper underneath, but in the winter I find the extra arm holes to be rather annoying when dressing him.

HALO SleepSack Swaddle
HALO SleepSack Swaddle

Size-wise, even though it says it will fit 6lbs - 12lbs, I find it to be made much larger than the Summer Infant SwaddleMe. The wrap around swaddling part is too wide and also too long for our baby, and as a result it can't nicely be tucked in under his back and makes for an uncomfortable bulge underneath him. Now that he's 9lbs 8oz and 54cm long it fits a bit more nicely, but the swaddle is still too wide for him yet he's almost outgrown the length.

The major pro for this option is the upside down zipper which, in theory, enables you to change the diaper without taking it off. However, I find the swaddle to be made quite wide, so unless you have a baby with short legs and a long torso, the swaddle overlaps with the diaper so we need to end up unswaddling him. Here I am changing his diaper in the middle of night without unswaddling, doable but really not well designed for it.

A late night diaper change without unswaddling

Note that HALO makes a Preemie size, and the online reviews for this swaddle pretty consistently say that Newborn size is too big, so I'd highly recommend getting the Preemie size if you're anticipating a small to average-sized baby.

Miracle Blanket

The Miracle Blanket is made for magician babies, that can break out of everything. Even in the first week when we were completely new to swaddling and it seemed our baby could break out of every swaddle, he couldn't get out of this one. It also pins his arms to his side so he can't move them to the front or anywhere once he's locked in.

Miracle Blanket
Miracle Blanket

Ultimately, this option is preferable if you prefer something quieter, as it doesn't use velcro, and you need something your baby is guaranteed not to escape!

Ergococoon Swaddle and Sleep Bag

I was really excited to try the Ergococoon Swaddle and Sleep Bag as I thought it'd be the miraculous easy solution to late night diaper changes with its 2-way zipper. It has the softest fabric of all the options, and we have the slightly warmer autumn/spring option which allows us to put just a cotton sleeper underneath.

Ergococoon Swaddle and Sleep Bag

Unfortunately, there's no way to tighten it around the arms, so our little guy was able to move his hands all of the way up to his face while wearing it. I received many recommendations for this one, so if your baby moves his arms around less and you only need to prevent the moro reflex from kicking in, this could be the option for you. Unfortunately, I don't think we'll be able to use this again until we take his arms out.

Summer Infant Muslin Blanket

The Summer Infant Muslin Blanket is designed to be used as a swaddle, but it requires some practice to successfully use. These blankets are soft, and the colours are brilliant, so we use these for a lot of things, including burping, however these have not been a good swaddling option for us as they are simply too difficult to tie tightly. Our little guy was able to escape these every time, and I didn't feel comfortable leaving him swaddled overnight in them because of it.

At 40”x40”, these blankets are larger than receiving blankets, but not quite as large as the Aden + Anais muslin swaddling blankets. They are stretchable, which we found made it more difficult to swaddle tightly. They are also nice and breathable, so these would be great as a summer swaddling option.

Summer Infant Muslin Blanket
Summer Infant Muslin Blanket

Aden + Anais 100% Cotton Muslin Swaddles

The Aden + Anais Cotton Muslin Swaddles are by far my favourite of the muslin blankets we own. They are the largest we've found, at 47”x47”, so we had a bit more success swaddling with them than with the Summer Infant Muslin Blankets. I've use them to keep baby warm and to protect myself from spit up when nursing. The gentle colours make great back drops for brilliant pictures as well.

Aden + Anais Muslin Swaddle
Aden + Anais Muslin Swaddle

Ergobaby Swaddler

I didn't actually get to try the Ergobaby Swaddler, but when researching which swaddle to buy next, I stumbled upon it and wish I had found it sooner! It is designed for easy diaper access in the middle of the night, and beyond that also allows for hands to be swaddled up as opposed to by baby's side. Definitely worth researching if you're looking for an optimal swaddle.


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