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


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