Time Well Spent

During my maternity leave, I was fortunate to have my sister, sister-in-law, and a couple of other friends have babies around the same time. Same thing happened with my first child, and I enjoyed my maternity leave in a similar fashion. Since this was the second time around, I was able to provide helpful suggestions on how we can enjoy baby time.

Winter time was difficult. You can’t really walk outside or enjoy the weather. Also, ensuring that the babies were warm was a challenge. There are many options out there, though. One thing I recommend is Ontario Early Years Centers. I find that it’s very important for children to interact with other children and other people in general. It helps to develop social skills and lessen separation anxiety or stranger anxiety. There are a variety of classes that are held throughout the week and day. It’s also helpful for new moms to get advice.

We also enjoyed trips to several malls around the city. There are some that are not so baby-friendly, but many of them are providing nursing rooms and diaper changing rooms. The only problem with some of these malls is that they require owning a car. Unfortunately, public transit is not baby-friendly. I recommend Yorkdale Shopping Centre, Vaughan Mills, and Sherway Gardens. All three malls have great nursing rooms and diaper changing rooms. However, Yorkdale TTC Station is not stroller friendly. Vaughan Mills has a shuttle from downtown, but it is only available in the summer. Sherway Gardens requires a bus ride from Kipling TTC Station. Best time to go is not during rush hour, unless you would like to get bad looks from commuters because of the space your stroller is taking up.

There are also attractions that are fun to do: Art Gallery of Ontario, Royal Ontario Museum, Ontario Science Centre, Toronto Zoo — these 4 have passes available from the library, Ripley’s Aquarium, and Centre Island. Some of these attractions can be free through the the Toronto Public Library Museum and Art Pass. There are other attractions listed as well.

In the summer time (and on warm spring or fall days), we found that a day at the park was fun. There are many parks in Toronto that have closed off play areas for the kids and babies. My favourite park is Jean Sibelius Park. It has been newly renovated and it’s a little piece of nature in the centre of Toronto.

As summer approaches, I look forward to enjoying spending time with both kids and exploring all that Toronto has to offer.

Sleepy Time

I found that the for the second time around, sleeping was vastly different than the first time around. Sleeping for myself and the baby. For some reason, the second child could not go to sleep on his own for more than 6 hours at a time. This was very frustrating because I couldn’t do anything at all. Any little noise would wake the baby and I would have to comfort him back to sleep. And, I was walking zombie because I hadn’t achieved REM sleep since the night before he was born — so that was 9 months of a gradual descent to zombification. He was also still feeding through the night. At 9 months, this was not necessary. So, I decided to invest in a sleep trainer. And I am very glad I did. If it wasn’t for the sleep trainer, I wouldn’t have been able to do this blog, or any other chores I needed to do.

At the fall baby show, last November, there was a booth for Precious Moments Babeez that didn’t require a person to come to your house to help you sleep train the baby. This is what drew me in because as much as I wanted help sleep training the baby, I don’t like the idea of a stranger in my house putting my baby to sleep. It wasn’t about the safety concern, but more of an embarrassment at the state of dishevel due to not having any time to myself to clean up. Precious Moments Babeez works with you over the phone or by text to help you sleep train your own baby. This makes logical sense because if you have someone else putting your baby to sleep, what would happen once that training was passed onto you? Precious Moments Babeez works with you to fine tune your current schedule to help with the sleep training. And depending on the package you buy, a consultant works with you through the night to stop any bad habits and develop good habits to put the baby to sleep. I was very curious to see how this would work with my little Incredible Hulk. I was surprised that it actually worked! Don’t get me wrong, he fought it. He did not like not being in the control seat. But I persevered and followed their advice and it worked.

Some of the advice that I can share that is available on their website through their blogs is the use of a white noise machine, black out curtains, and a sleep routine. The white noise machine is a dream. There have been many articles about the damaging effects of white noise machines, but if you read them carefully, you will note that they refer to the use of the machine on the highest noise level. Of course, this would be damaging, it’s common sense. Further readings show that you can have it set to around 50 dB, which is less than normal conversation sound levels. I love it because we can move around and the white noise machine blurs out that noise. The one I bought is the HoMedics SoundSpa Portable Sound Machine. It has the best reviews, it’s portable, and it has many different choices.

HoMedics SoundSpa Portable Sound Machine

The next thing they suggest is using black out curtains. I didn’t have the time to install curtains, so I made a makeshift blackout curtain out of black foam boards taped up to the size of the window in the kids’ room. This worked out great because it removed all light from the room, especially when the days got longer in the summer. Luckily for me, the baby did not have problems sleeping outside of the house, so I didn’t need to purchase blackout shades for the stroller.

Having a sleep routine was the clincher. Doing the same thing right before bed triggered his knowledge that it was sleepy time soon. I was able to put him to sleep after following the set of events.  Using the sleep sack, having a bath, reading a story, and snuggling for a bit got him to sleep. Also, their methods of dealing with the wake up during their sleep time helped train him to settle himself down. If you’ve read all the advice you could to put the baby to sleep and it still hasn’t worked, I recommend using Precious Moments Babeez to sleep train.

Splashing Away

This time around, I figured I could just use the same tub I had for my first child. As a newborn, I first used the hammock that lets the baby rest slightly elevated from the tub bottom. That worked well. He then got bigger and I had to use the big, bulky plastic tub that you put in your current tub. The problem with it was that it was big and bulky. It also broke on me so I had to buy a new tub. I tried just using the tub as it was and fill it with water, but that’s a lot of water wasted for each bath. So I researched online and saw various folding tubs.

There was the Puj Tub, which is a flat soft foam that can be folded to a cradling tub that fits in the sink. This would work if I had a large sink to bathe my baby, however, I find it weird to bathe my baby in the kitchen. It also requires the faucet to be far from the basin of the sink to work well. My sister-in-law received one from her baby shower and she felt that it didn’t work well because the water would leak out from where the foam folds onto itself because it wasn’t a tight fit. She was also afraid that my nephew would be pinched by the folds.

I noticed that inflatable tubs looked efficient. They were large when they were inflated and can be deflated into a small size. The first tub I purchased was an inflatable tub. Since we were going away for some fun at Great Wolf Lodge, the inflatable tub would be useful for a very squirmy baby. The inflatable tub worked for the a couple of months, but the problem with inflatable things is they get holes in them. And as much duct tape as I could possible use on it, I still couldn’t figure out where the leak was. So, I had to do more research.

Out of the ones that had good reviews, I found very few. One that had great reviews was the Boon Naked 2-Position Collapsible tub. I wanted to buy it but it was quite expensive. They did have a sale but I didn’t get to the sale on time. It would have worked, but luckily I didn’t get it because I fell in love with the one we decided to get instead.

I found the Stokke Flexi Bath. It worked well because it folded flat enough that it didn’t look bulky and it could stand or lean near the bathroom cabinet. It is large enough to fit a 4-year old so I felt it was a good four year investment. It also has high sides so that the baby won’t tumble out and he can sit comfortably in it. It’s like a mini bath tub. I would recommend this to anyone who has a baby. There’s also an accessory that you can use for newborns that acts like a sling.

Aside from the tub, I wanted to give a little tip about the towel. Hooded towels are the best for wrapping the baby up and keeping him warm and dried. The hood was great for keeping the head from dripping. The problem I found with it was transferring the baby from the tub and into the towel without getting wet. There are towels you can buy that can be worn like an apron on the parent, but I find that they tend to be too expensive. So, a friend of mine suggested attaching a ribbon to the corners of the towel so that you can transform the towel into a towel apron. Very smart DIY way of adapting a good hooded towel into a great hooded towel apron.

The Portable Baby

From time to time, I needed to carry the baby quickly without taking out the stroller. Or, sometimes the baby does not want to be in the stroller and demands that you carry him around. As a mom, you start to develop great upper body strength carrying the increasing weight of a baby around. But you can only go so far unassisted before he starts weighing down on you. Luckily, they have a great baby accessory that can ease the cute burden from your arms – The baby carrier.

There are a variety of baby carriers out there. I started out with the Snugli, that can be used in the front, back, and on the hip. Like all the baby products I purchased or placed on my baby registry, I chose multiple functionality. It worked well for me. I used it on the TTC, travelling with my first born, since using a stroller (especially the clunky Graco travel system) was not TTC friendly. They don’t sell the particular version I have, but a similar one, the Seated Snugli Soft Carrier, functions in the same way. My carrier had the added bonus of pockets on the front, which I used to carry my phone, wallet, TTC tokens, and change. It also had a vibrating lumbar support, but I didn’t really use that. The only problem I had with it was using it in conjunction with the stroller. It did not compact well to carry around.

I have heard from many other moms that they did not like the Baby Bjorn. Many have mentioned that it caused discomfort. I haven’t personally experienced this. I have noticed, though, that if you wear the carrier incorrectly, it can cause discomfort. The back buckle that holds the straps together should be in the middle of the back. There have also been issues with the position of the baby’s legs in these carriers. Ergonomic carriers, like the Ergobaby are ideal. However, the baby cannot face out.

So, I also decided to make my own version of a baby wrap. It takes some practice trying to wrap yourself in it to make it into a functioning soft carrier, but it was easy to make. I just used a knit jersey material that was on sale at the fabric sale and purchased 6 feet of it and cut it down the length of it to make two wraps that were 6 feet long. Since the material did not fray, I did not need to hem it. Unfortunately, it was also hard to port around with the stroller because there was so much material, it was like carrying around a blanket. There was also a lot of effort wrapping your whole body in it. I liked this better than the sling. For some reason, the baby did not sit well when I used it. I tried both the ring sling and the sling made to size.

When my second child came, I still had the Snugli soft carrier, however, I noticed that my sister was using something similar to the baby wrap, but a whole lot easier. It solved the problem with wrapping yourself up like a mummy and it was easy to transport. I present the Baby K’Tan!

Baby wrap without the wrapping

Baby wrap without the wrapping

If you go to the product website, you can see how to use it. I love it because it is also very portable. The whole thing fits into a small pouch that is part of the carrier. It is also multifunctional, which I am a big fan of. It was comfortable, portable, easy to put on, and ergonomic for the baby’s legs positioning.

From time to time, I would use the Snugli because it is great for long walks or travelling on public transit. But, I would use the Baby K’Tan because of all the above mentioned advantages of the Baby K’Tan.

Battling the Cold Weather

This winter has been quite cold. Colder than I remember, but I guess it’s all relative when you have to take into account the warmth of a toddler. For my 6 year old, they had snowsuits, and because he was a late walker, I would have him in the snowsuits during his winter months. With my 1 year old, he started walking at 10 months and a snowsuit doesn’t work well with his mobility. I have him in a winter jacket, with a hat, gloves, thick pants, and walking winter boots.

There have been many improvements in winter gear for the stroller. I use the Tivoli Couture Mommy’s Hug Carrier Cover in London Grey that I got on Babysteals at a discounted price. I used it with the baby k’tan and my snugli carrier and also with the infant carrier when he was just born. Now I can use it with the stroller like a sleeping bag/blanket to keep him warm while he rides around in the stroller.

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This is not my baby, but you get the picture.

I have just discovered that there is another great product to use in conjunction with a baby bunting bag like the one I use. It’s a rain and weather shield that would help with the wind and snow and general protection of the baby’s face. Because even though the bunting bag can keep the baby warm, it doesn’t protect him from the wind and snow. It the Manito Elegance Plus Stroller Weather Shield/Rain Cover. It would also work well in the summer time to protect from rain and act as a great sunshade.

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Comes in an assortment of colours.

I’ll probably head down to one of the specialty baby shops and grab one since I can use it while he’s in the stroller.

This winter season is a rough one, it’s especially hard to maneuver through badly plowed sidewalks with an umbrella stroller. Hang in there moms! There is only 6 more weeks of winter!

When’s the Next One?

As much as I loved my last pregnancy and the first year of my second child’s babyhood, my husband and I are fine with just having two kids. That was what we planned from the beginning. After my first child, we contemplated just having the one kid, but we knew in the back of our minds that we wanted two kids. There are many reasons why we just wanted two. I’m in my late 30s. I miscarried before my second child was conceived. Having more than two kids can get expensive.

Many out there would say that this shouldn’t be a reason to stop having kids and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Maclean’s magazine had two articles written contrary to each other (Million Dollar Babies, September 30, 2013 issue versus You Can Raise a Child on $3000 a year, August 22, 2013 issue). But we don’t qualify for daycare subsidies nor do we have readily available child care. Also, adding another child would require a larger car and a larger home to accommodate 3 kids.

But expenses aside, we are satisfied with 2 kids. My beef is with people constantly asking, “When’s the next kid? Why don’t you have another kid? Don’t you want to have a girl?” It’s like they are not satisfied with what you have. And it didn’t just start at asking about a third kid. These are the same people that asked at the beginning, “Do you have a boyfriend? When will you get engaged? When will you get married? When will you have your first kid? When will you have your second kid?” I feel bad for other couples who decide to not have kids and get asked, “Why don’t you want kids? Why do you want to be selfish like that?” I admit that I have asked questions like, “Do you plan on having kids?” to break the ice during small talk. But to scold someone for being selfish because they decide to not have kids? I think that is just rude and uncalled for, and quite frankly, none of their business.

I was asked the question if we planned on having a second kid, and it was during the time when we were debating if one child was enough. The person had the gall to call me selfish because having just one kid is not right. At first I was peeved and irritated, but I just brushed it off because I didn’t want to bother getting into an argument about it. I’m not confrontational. My husband has accused me of being passive aggressive, which may explain my confrontational attitude in a blog instead of in her face. However, after trying for the second child, we faced some difficulty trying to conceive. It dawned on me that if she had called me that while I was having difficulty trying to get pregnant but wanted to keep it private, then it would have been very insensitive. Also, the constant barrage of questions from annoying people about having a child in general would be very insensitive to those with fertility issues who want to keep things private. Why do people focus on the next thing in one’s timeline?

People don’t realize how invasive and in turn, insensitive, their questions can be. We need to think first about what we are about to say and examine what kind of question it is. Families don’t necessarily need to be the picture book mom, dad, son, daughter, and pet. Sometimes it can just be husband and wife, or partner and partner, or mom, dad, and daughter. We shouldn’t judge. It’s none of our business.

The Diaper Chronicles

Luckily, the second child doesn’t have the same problems with bodily functions as the first child experienced. Many parents worry about constipation or diarrhea. It’s funny how in the past, I wouldn’t even examine anything that came out after has been digested. Now, as a mom, I worry if the baby is eating enough, which can measured by the number of wet and full diapers. On top of that, you start to examine the consistency, colour, and quantity of the “poo”. It’s gross but it’s just something you end up doing. I couldn’t examine much with the first child because he was and still is, at times, constipated. With the new baby, I’m fortunate that he is regular. When it doesn’t look like his usual “deposit”, I start to think back to what he may have eaten that could cause it. Since I am still breastfeeding, I would also review the foods that I have consumed and see if there is a correlation. It’s interesting to see what causes constipation that wasn’t the same for the first child. If I eat raw salmon from sushi, it turns green. If he eats french fries from the local fast food restaurant, he gets constipated. If I drink decaffeinated coffee from the same restaurant, he gets constipated (I don’t know if it’s just a coincidence that two food items from the same restaurant caused his constipation, but I just avoided those food items in general instead of placing blame). It was a scary thing when he was constipated just by my consumption of decaffeinated coffee. There was a promotion where free coffee was offered for a week. I try to avoid coffee because there is a limit for the consumption of caffeine while breastfeeding set at around 300 mg. I enjoy drinking pop, so I try to save my caffeine consumption for pop. For the week of free coffee, I drank a decaf every day for the first 4 days of the promotion. I also noticed that the baby didn’t poo for 3 days. I then realized that the only thing that changed in my food routine and his was my consumption of decaf coffee. As soon as I stopped, he pooped 5 times in one day the next day. He was quite backed up. Learned my lesson there. It’s interesting, though, how we change our gross factor with kids when there are things more important than the extent of our contact with gross things.

Dogs Go Woof, Cats Go Meow and the First Child Goes Huh?

Many parents worry about how well the pets will react to the newcomer. The best advice I received was from a booth at the Baby Time Show that detailed how to introduce your pets. I haven’t seen that booth in the past 6 years (I go every year because it’s a great resource as your child gets older), but the information I retained was very helpful. I don’t know if the cat really cared much when the baby arrived, but I knew it I needed the dog to be ready because they can be more territorial and dangerous with little ones.

Some things to do when you come close to labour day is to play a CD of baby sounds. The booth had a great CD filled with crying, laughing, babbling, wailing, etc. You can probably find something like it on iTunes or just do a search on YouTube. We played the CD a couple of weeks before and put it on loud. The cat just ignored it and the dog did that head twist they do when something perks their curiosity. One of my girlfriends gave birth a couple of months before me, so at my baby shower, I took one of her baby’s dirty diapers to introduce to the pets the new smells of a baby. Good thing I got that because for the first child, he came 3 days later!

When the baby finally came, my husband took one of the blankets that the baby was wrapped in and the baby’s dirty diaper and gave the blanket to the dog to sleep with and diaper to sniff. When I finally got home, I left the baby with my husband in the car and went inside the house to greet my pets to show that even though there’s a newcomer, I’m still their for them. I would say it worked out well because my pets and the first son love each other and play well. There were no territorial issues. Of course, I was afraid that the cat would sleep on the baby’s face, so for the first couple of months, I had a play yard tent over his crib and kept the door closed when the baby slept.

So, when the second child was about to come, we reintroduced the pets to the whole routine. However, we had another little one to prepare for the upcoming arrival. Luckily, my first son just turned 5, so it was a good age for him to understand what was coming. If the second child came before that, I don’t know if we would have been as successful because he was very jealous of other babies that I would hold or anything else that would take away my attention. Our approach was to make him be large and in charge of a great responsibility of being a big brother. He would help out and he would be looked at as awesome by his upcoming little brother. It worked out well. He is very proud to be the big brother and is also great with all the other babies that have arrived around the same time as his little brother (There seemed to be an large boom of baby dragons in 2012!). Everywhere we went, he would introduce his little brother and state with flare that he was the big brother and that his little brother loves him very much and that he also loves his little brother (this will change when they hit the teenage years but it’s like that for all siblings).

The pets accepted the new arrival with not much pomp and circumstance, but they have been used to a child for 6 years already so I think they are just glad that the baby wasn’t in their face all the time like the first child is (now it’s a different case because he’s mobile and chasing after them). The dog is happy that he now has a new partner in crime when it comes to getting table scraps he previously didn’t have access to. With the baby dropping things covertly yet with purpose for the dog’s enjoyment and his delight, the dog is a baby chilttlins millionaire! This baby is also very grabby, so I don’t have worries about the cat sitting on him because she stays away due to his grabbiness.

Although our introduction of the new baby to the pets was successful, I still keep a watchful eye on them all. Luckily, the dog is a good cross breed of Shetland and Boarder Collie and the cat is a Main Coon mix…and the first child is a good mix too 🙂