Friday, 27 February 2015

Mommy Money Matters - Buying Books

We talk a lot about books here at WIYDB, so we've come up with some tips and suggestions for building your home library. Here's when to buy brand new, what to borrow, and where to look for a bargain.

Ages 0-6


Reading is important from birth. You'll notice very early on how your child reacts positively to the sound of words as you read to him from a variety of books. Books can be incorporated into every day play, and reading itself is a sort of game at this stage. Remember to vary your volume and facial expressions while you read as storytelling helps to teach empathy, as well as ideas and vocabulary. You may have read about some amazing books for this developmental stage (maybe even from this blog) but it's important to give your child a little autonomy in choosing which books appeal to them, too. Every book is an experience worth trying out.


Buy: 
There is nothing quite as special as a brand new book and right now some of the most innovative and creative children's books are being published. If you come across a favourite author, or find that your child keeps picking the same book from the library, go ahead and buy it brand new. I would suggest building a home library full of John Klassen, Oliver Jeffers, and Bob Shea. It will be difficult to find these books used, and they really are worth the money.

Borrow: 
Use the library as a testing ground for different types of books. Very young babies like high contrast (think black on white picture books) and looking at other babies. The library will carry a selection of these types of books for this stage that doesn't last too long. Also use the library as a place for your child to explore their own tastes. As soon as they are able, let them select books from the shelf. It doesn't cost you any thing, so check out the whole children's department during the first couple of years. Why not?

Bargain: 
Those classic books that you remember from childhood (like Good Night Moon, The Runaway Bunny, Dr. Seuss, etc.) and always dreamed of reading to your child? They're worth owning as they have a special meaning to you, and will be read often, but there's no need to buy them brand new. They've been around so long that every used book store will have a ton of stock and some are still in perfect condition.

Tips: Board books are meant to withstand a lot of damage. They can be thrown around a room, stomped on, pulled at, and most importantly put into little mouths without getting ruined. Buy a pack of pacifier/toy wipes to give a nice cleaning to any board books you buy used or borrow from the library before you hand them off to your baby to explore. (We like these ones, but any will do!)



Ages 7-13


By the time a child is six or seven, they can most likely read on their own, and they're starting to get excited about "chapter books," a huge reading milestone! At this age, they have more confidence in reading alone, but they're not totally adventurous. Enter the series. Series are so popular at this age because children can read many new books within a set comfort zone. Once the child learns the characters, style, tone, and general vocabulary of a series, they are excited to read every published tome because it is a perfect balance of new and established. Nourish their voracious reading appetites at this stage as it is a building block for lifelong reading.

Buy: 
You may find that you have to buy the hottest new books by the most popular authors (such as Rick Riordan or Kenneth Oppel) at the book store or through Amazon.ca. If your child is an avid reader stuck on a certain author, the library wait list will take too long and the used book stores won't carry it for months. This includes series that must be read in order because the plot of each book builds on the story of the last (like Harry Potter). Luckily, children's books are generally cheaper brand new than adult novels.

Borrow: 
If your child is in to a stand alone series of books - where each book shares a theme, style, and/or topic of interest but stands independent in every other way (think Goosebumps or American Girl) or an episodic series - where each book focuses on a singular adventure but the characters and/or setting carries through the whole set (think Geronimo Stilton or Rainbow Magic) then you're a-ok to borrow them. The library won't guarantee availability so it's easier to use it for books that can be read in any order. Borrowing is also ideal for non-series titles for this reason.

Bargain: 

If your child likes any type of series books, or really likes a certain author (like Roald Dahl) you can seek out a bargain in the form of a full or partial set for one inclusive price. Each individual book can run you anywhere from $7-$20 retail so finding a lot on an online auction or a set at a garage sale or charity book sale is a great way to get many books for one low price.

Tip: Although you may prefer your child move away from picture books, graphic novels are legitimate reading material. If your child is interested in manga, or another graphic novel series, you should encourage it just the same as a more traditional text based series. They will feel more comfortable expanding their interests later if they haven't felt pressured to read prescribed books at this stage.


Tip: Once children demonstrate reading independence, most parents stop reading aloud to them. Don't stop!! There are many benefits to reading aloud to your older child. You're modelling the use of cadence and emphasis. You can choose books beyond what they could read on their own, introducing them to larger vocabulary. Not to mention, you're bonding with them and helping them to love reading.




Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Baby's Own Health: Babies Meeting "Fur Babies"



Those who know me well know how much I love my pets. I've had a string of "misters" in my life that pre-date my husband; Mr. Bill (a 17 lbs rabbit), Mr. Chow (a super chubby long haired cat), and currently Mr. Fritz (the most affectionate and dog-like cat you've ever met.) Needless to say, the thought of subtracting his from my life to add my son to the family was not an idea that crossed my mind. It was just a new "mister" to add to the clan! It never occurred to me that Fritzy might not feel the same way, and the transition was not exactly smooth... Based on the experience of my friends and I, we hope to help you ease the joining of your family with these tips!

Cats

Your feline family friends are extremely territorial; they have spots for sleeping, good vantage points for surveying their land, and... well, and a couple more good sleeping spots, let's be honest. The very fact that they sleep in your clean sweater purely because it's slightly more elevated than your bed, tells you their attitude. They are in charge, and your are their loyal subject. It only makes sense that when a tiny new interloper takes all of your time, plus has lots of cozy places only they're allowed to sleep, the adjustment would be abrupt. To prevent undue wrath from your feline overlord, follow these tips.

  • Be firm with the rules from the beginning. Cats respect you until they find a crack in your armour. If you put Sir Fuzzington on the change table for a picture, it will never be off limits again.
  • If you can, avoid putting baby things like cribs, bassinets, and play pens in "designated" cat areas. It will only tempt them to sleep in and/or destroy the offending item.
  • Do your best to maintain your cat's routine. Of course, in the delirium of taking care of a baby, you might not get food in their bowl for 7 am on the dot. They will, however, let you know that you're late, and remember the offence for later.
Dogs

While your cat might be a little ticked, you risk really hurting your dog's feelings, and this is so much worse. The loss of their spot on your bed, the decrease in walks, and less cuddle time will have a huge impact on Spot. A puppy lives and breathes for you, and if you start to yell at them or ignore them to take care of junior, they can get depressed or start acting out to compensate. A good friend of mine has a gorgeous big dog, and I asked her how she prepared for him to meet her new daughter.
  • Bring a blanket that was used by the baby home from the hospital for the dog to smell and get used to before the actual baby gets there.
  • While you might not think you have the energy, walks and play time are important to address your puppy's energy in a healthy and safe way. Hey, it might just give you a nice break and help with the mommy tummy at the same time.
  • "When we brought her home my husband went in and greeted Henry while I waited outside with Adeline, then we switched and I let him say hi to me. We let him get his excitement that we were home out of the way so that he would be as calm as possible when we brought the baby in."
Pets don't end with our four legged pals either. Whether you have fish or a hamster, the fact is that animal is going to have to cede some of it's attention to a new person, and you are going to have way more to consider than you did before baby. Good friend and diaper bag alumna Eva, for example, has a bird.  She told us "After two weeks Gus completely ignored Gilad and only in the last three months has been showing interest in Gilad. She flies down to the floor to see what we are doing when we play there. Now she flies over to see us when he's eating in his high chair. I am still nervous to let them touch because Gus is a biter but they get super close."

Integrating pets and children isn't impossible, but it's not always easy. Not all pets are capable of the discipline you want and not all parents want to deal with the additional work once a little one arrives. You wouldn't be the first to choose flesh over fur if push came to shove. The additional cost, care, and supervision might not be for you, and that's okay too. If you're determined, just don't give up. Be consistent and patient. They will grow to love each other, and having a pet can be a very rewarding experience for the whole family.

Monday, 23 February 2015

What's In Your Diaper Bag? - Emalie and Presley


Pregnancy is not easy, and it's more enjoyable for some than others. Lucky mom Emalie had a pretty good experience, other than the dreaded swelling (something that I also dealt with!) Now feeling more herself after an unexpected c-section, she's got a beautiful baby girl to call her own, and so much to look forward to. Even only having been a mommy a month now, she's got her diaper bag in order. Today she tells us how she packs to take her little lady on the town.

What's In Your Diaper Bag?


Name: Emalie

Baby's Name (and age): Presley (1 month)

Most Important Thing in Your Diaper Bag: Extra onesies

Basic save: Wipes

No matter what you do, you are going to go through more wipes in your baby's first year than you thought humanly possible. You can cut costs by buying in bulk once you know your brand preference. Don't get stuck with a whole bunch you hate the smell of or that baby is allergic to! You can even make your own if you're feeling ambitious, and you are concerned about chemicals, or if your baby has sensitive skin. Check out a great tutorial here.


Essential splurge: Good quality diapers

Best preparedness advice: Make sure you have some extra onesies and receiving blankets for throw up and accidents.


Final words of wisdom…

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


Too true! Whether it's early afternoon, or late at night, there's a great sense of stolen time with your little one. You won't be able to bundle them up in a blanket and rub their face when they're 40, so take a moment each day to appreciate what you have!


Diaper bag contents: change pad, a couple of receiving blankets,
extra onesies, diapers, wipes, gripe water, spare pacifier.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Controversy Corner: Consent

As with all babies, my three month old daughter is currently completely reliant on me. I have to nurse her and change her diaper several times a day, bathe her several times a week, and carry her from place to place. Every single day I am building her trust and proving to her that she can count on me to protect her, to care for her, and to respect her needs and wants. Right now, she doesn’t have much of a say in where she goes or who holds her, but I am already teaching her about consent. I want my daughter to know from the earliest age that she is in charge of her own body.

In my opinion, consent is not something we simply teach our children like math or reading, it is something they learn through experiencing respect and feeling empowered from as early on as possible. Right now, this just means that I tell her what we’re going to clean next in the bath, or when I’m going to put lotion on her tummy or toes. Even if she can’t understand the language, I let her know in advance of my actions and I pay attention to her cues. I have to clean all the residual poo off of her body, obviously, but if I can accommodate her, I do.

As she grows up, I am going to continue to take her cues and respect her feelings about physical contact and this means - and here's where it gets controversial - that I will never insist that she hug, kiss, or even high five someone if she doesn't feel comfortable. No matter how much I want a picture of her with a mall Santa. Even if that person is someone as close to her as her Grammy who she doesn't get to see very often. I am prepared to have to explain this decision as feelings may be hurt, but I want to make sure that she is always fully aware that her body is her own.



Just as a woman does not owe a man sex because he pays for dinner and a movie, a child does not owe a person a hug and a kiss just because they are related to them. I want to be clear: This has nothing to do with an anxiety about hidden pedophiles in our everyday lives and allowing my child to keep her distance until she feels comfortable with an individual is not an accusation of bad intentions. You or I would feel awkward and potentially distressed if we were forced to embrace a stranger on the subway, someone whose scent is unfamiliar, or whose history we do not know. Friends and family members who do not visit often are almost strangers to a child, and it is natural for them to feel uneasy in their presence. A few minutes (or maybe hours) of conversation and child-led bonding will most likely lead to a hug, or at the very least a fist bump.

It is important to me that my children are comfortable telling me how they feel, or telling others when something is not okay with them, and I don't believe we can inspire this kind of confidence by over ruling them in some cases. If we want them to know that "no means no" then we must respect it at home.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Mommy Money Matters: Looking for Daycare


The reality of the modern North American woman is that we are balancing a lot on our plates, trying hard to have it all. That usually includes working outside of the home once our maternity benefits expire, or even before. Just thinking about going back to work brings up all sorts of emotions to a first time mom. You feel scared at the prospect of creating a new routine. You are more than a little nervous about remembering your job, and how you will handle the distance from your little one. There's a little excitement in there, because you're going to have permission to eat lunch a set time, and have adult conversations again... there are a lot of pros and cons. Unfortunately, and possibly the hardest part of all, is thinking about your baby in the care of someone else.

If you're not lucky enough to have a family member at home with your child, you are going to have a lot to consider. You need to know that the care you choose is safe, stimulating, and cost effective. Will you go with a home care, a multi-employee daycare, or even an early education centre aka "mini school" (such as Montessori or Waldorf)? Based on the information gathered searching within Ontario, here is some information to consider about each to help you decide what works best for your baby and situation.

Home-Based Daycare

Employee / child ratio: Usually one primary care taker for a number of children that varies by home, and by the comfort level of said care taker. Legally, for locations that care for more than 5 children under the age of 10, they are required to be licensed and meet provincial standards annually. They can care for under 5 children without a license, so be especially sure to ask for references under these circumstances. See the Ontario government guidelines here.

Philosophy and care included: This depends on the preferences and skill set of the individual, so if it really matters to you, be sure to ask questions about meals and snacks, outdoor activities, crafts, reading and educational tasks, and any other concerns you have. You may find a mother who speaks 3 languages, or has super fun themed days! It's worth the extra research.

Perks and extras: Since home care is offered in the guardian's home, you are more likely to find one with convenient distance to your home, office, or child's school. They might also be more flexible with your child's routine or medical needs (ie, allergies.) 

Standard work week pricing: It varies greatly by demand and area. Smaller towns may offer care from $25 a day, whereas big city pricing is upwards of $75. Expect to pay in the range of $150-$250 for a single child.

Overtime policy: Some homes offer a 12 hour day (typically 6 am-6 pm) to allow for drop off and pick up. As the individual sets their own hours, be sure their operation and your commute match, not just your work hours. Overtime may not be available at all.

Other considerations: Home care that I researched often have caveats that you might not factor in to your budget. Most require payment for statutory holidays and some even for when your child is sick. Also, if the care giver themselves are sick, you will need to make alternative arrangements. There are bridging services that work like a staffing agency for independent home care providers. They offer a bit of insurance, cover vacation, pays out sick days, etc to the care provider. This extra regulation is a good middle ground between home and centre care. Check out a website such as http://weewatch.com/.

Centre-Based Childcare

Employee/ child ratio: While this also varies, the number of responsible adults is usually closer to the number of children, with approximately one for every 3 or 4. Children are also separated by age group or into smaller rooms to make supervision easier for the staff.

Philosophy and care included: Centres are much more likely to have structured days, with a fixed routine. They are also regulated by the government as a part of the Ministry of Education, and will follow standardized rules pertaining to snacks, acceptable outdoor play conditions, and allowable media. That said, they will still have individual programming in terms of activities and toys.

Perks and extras: Generally multi-employee centres staff are Early Childhood Educators (ECEs) who are specially trained in first aid, child behavioral challenges, and age-specific activity planning.

Standard work week pricing: Often facilities price differently for age group, meaning you will pay slightly more for the additional attention an infant needs. The average work week cost is about $200, but for more detailed averages pooled from multiple sources, check out this handy guide.

Overtime policy: Limited overtime may be available depending on the centre and it will involve a surcharge or penalty depending on whether the extra time is pre-planned or accidental. It's important to know what is on offer ahead of time, especially if you work far from home or have unpredictable shift times.

Other considerations: Your child may get a leg up on school away from mom with this type of care, but it might be a bit of a shock for a shy kid or a very young baby. You won't necessarily get the same adult bond, so try to visit with your child a few times before leaving them for the day. You might also ask what type of reporting or updates the centre allows to ensure things are going well.

Mini-School Care

Employee/ child ratio: As an example, the Montessori teaching material states that "the Primary Montessori classroom [contains] a high ratio of children to 1 trained Directress and an assistant: 23-25 children to 2 adults is ideal." This approach is the closest to school, but is still variable depending on the method and teaching style. It is strictly regulated by the government to ensure enough supervision is present for classroom sizes.

Philosophy and care included: A mini-school scenario is a much more self-directed and educational approach to child care. There will be a firm structure to the day, with large blocks of time dedicated to reading, problem solving, and creative game play, often with natural material and music incorporated.

Perks and extras: With an education based day, children who thrive in this environment often learn to read and vocalize at an early age. They are also more prepared for the public school system to a certain degree, having a similar day structure.

Standard work week pricing: Depending on the school and teaching style, this is a very pricey care option. You can expect around $300 to $500 a week for tuition, and may increase over the summer, which can be considered separately.

Overtime policy: Often these schools run on a school-day schedule, which doesn't always match up with a full work week. There may be before 8 am and after 3:30 pm school surcharges to consider on top of normal enrollment rates.

Other considerations: While some mini-school programs offer care starting at 6 months, and it seems like a huge leg up, you have to consider if this program is worth the price for someone of that age. I would consider it extremely tempting at age 3, if it was affordable, but it seems a little much for infant care.

No one knows your child better than you, so never feel bad about asking questions that are pertinent to your situation. Need to know that blankie is allowed? Concerned about television exposure? Interested in French or other second language opportunities? It's better to know, and go in with open eyes. Also, as hard as it can be to find child care, it's not forever. If your first choice doesn't pan out the way you had hoped, you can always change your mind.

Monday, 16 February 2015

What's In Your Diaper Bag? - Jennifer and Henry


As if parenting a little one isn't enough, today's mom is also self-improving! Jenn is a "graduate student working from home part-time in between peek-a-booing, reading, chasing, stair-climbing, squealing, and generally having fun with my buddy Henry." Phew! I'm exhausted just thinking about it! A shy kid at first, he's a very caring and happy guy when he feels safe. It's fun to watch him spread his wings as he slowly moves from mommy's lap to being one of the guys. Coming from smart and patient parents, I can only imagine how the gears turn in his own clever little noggin!

What's In Your Diaper Bag?

Name: Jenn

Baby's Name (and age): Henry (9 months)

Most Important Thing in Your Diaper Bag: 

Diapers of course, and lots of wipes. For the first 6 months of Henry's life I would have also said receiving blankets for the constant spitting up, but that seems to be resolved now.

Basic Save: 

I love to sew so before Henry was born I tried to make a few items that he would need. Making things yourself isn't always cheaper, but it's nice to be able to customize what you make. One of the most useful things I made was a small diaper pouch to go in the big diaper bag. The pouch holds 3 or 4 diapers and a pack of wipes so if we're just going to the grocery store or on another short trip, we will just grab the pouch instead of taking the whole big diaper bag. This saved me money in not buying multiple diaper bags. 

 Tutorial: http://www.noodle-head.com/2010/05/diaper-pouch-tutorial.html

Essential Splurge: 
Toys! Now that Henry is more interested in toys, I try to stash at least one that lights up and makes noise in the bag for maximum distraction if he's about to have a meltdown. 

Best Preparedness Advice: 

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.

So important at the beginning. I wish I had this advice earlier on. Almost every mom I know has an unfortunate spit up (or worse) story. If it's already happened, it's a funny story, but heck, avoid it if you can!


Final words of wisdom...


Remember to go through your diaper bag periodically to make sure that everything in there still works for you and your baby. Henry seems to grow so quickly and the other day I realized that the extra pants I had stashed in there for an emergency wouldn't fit over his thighs.

L to R: Nursing cover, Booties, Sunglasses (mine), Wallet (mine), Pen (mine), Gum (mine), Hairbrush (mine), Lip balm (mine), Sippy cup, Favourite book, Face cloth, Bib, Snack cup with Cheerios, Change of clothes for Henry, Sunglasses (Henry's), Shaker toy, Light up toy, Teething toy, Extra sweater (mine), Immunization record, Diaper pouch with 5 diapers and a travel pack of wipes

Friday, 13 February 2015

DIY - Easy Guilt Free Desserts

Trust me, this won't be a post to show off my awesome food staging skills, or to brag about my prowess in the kitchen, because I have neither of these things. What I do have is a constantly waging war between my huge sweet tooth and my lingering mommy tummy that I wish to be rid of. I actually hate to bake, because it always involves several tedious steps and so many things to clean up afterwards, but I also want to avoid store bought treats as they are full of fat and sugar and other undesirables. What is a girl to do?

Research! That's what! I have taken to the Internet to find easy, healthier recipes that will give me the hit of sweet I crave every night without adding an extra roll of fat to my figure. Allow me to share with you what I have discovered. Come along on this journey with me...

Flourless Brownies


I was immediately intrigued by this recipe on Delighted Momma because of how simple it looked. I've decided to research the Paleo diet to see if I can incorporate any of it into my own eating habits, but that was not what led me to this recipe. My mother is gluten intolerant, so I like the added bonus of it being gluten free, but mostly it just seemed like a really healthy way to enjoy brownies.

My husband was not so sure. He all but begged on hand and knee that I make regular brownies instead, and he made a scrunched up face of disgust when I handed him the first bite to sample, but then he promptly ate 3 brownies and sang their praises. These brownies are good. Very good. Light and cake-y with a serious punch of chocolate. Plus, they take no time to make (which is important with an impatient infant). I threw all the ingredients into one bowl, stirred it, and poured it into a pan. Forty minutes later, brownies were cooling on the counter. I can deal with cleaning one bowl! I really don't feel guilty eating this tasty combination of zucchini, almond butter, and honey (which is kind of dangerous because I have to stop at some point). They aren't as good as regular brownies, but they're darn good!

If I had to come up with a downside of this recipe, it would be the cost to make it. Almond butter is pretty expensive and raw honey can be, too. (Though, I used regular honey.) I always have almond butter in the house already, but it takes 3/4 of a $10 jar to make. Still, it's a small price to pay for such a tasty, guilt free treat.


Chocolate Chia Pudding


There are quite a few recipe iterations of this dessert to be found online, but I can only speak for the one I made (found on Oh She Glows). Other than the forethought of making almond milk ice cubes, this recipe could not be easier or faster. If you need a hit of chocolate right away, this pudding has got you covered.

Some people might not love the texture of this treat. It is definitely thick and creamy like a pudding, but the chia seeds give it a bit of a grainy texture (which I didn't mind). My blender was not really up to the task, though, so I had big chunks of dates in some bites. Not horrible, but not ideal. While I definitely thought this tasted good right away, the flavour started to annoy me after a few bites. It is actually *too chocolatey* maybe? It's hard to describe what exactly bothered me about it. I won't give up on this treat, however. I am going to try a few different recipes to see if there is a combination of ingredients that will please my pallette more, because I love chia seeds, I love pudding, and I hate feeling gross after indulging in a sweet treat.

Frozen Chocolate Covered Bananas

Note: These are not MY frozen bananas.
I didn't get an acceptable picture of mins so I borrowed this one...
Yum. You can't actually go wrong with bananas and chocolate, right? This recipe (which I pretty much just made up as I went along) is truly simple but requires advance thought. You need to allow time for the chocolate to cool in the freezer. I made them simultaneously while I made dinner and we enjoyed them at around 8 pm. They were pretty good, but they don't feel decadent or special. I used dark chocolate chips and Smores flavoured sprinkles as a topper. I think it's an easy go to treat on a week night.

All in all, this week I learned that there are options for me to satisfy my sweet tooth without sacrificing my healthy eating plans, but I will have to allow for a more traditional, (ie. bad for you) dessert once or twice a week because these alternatives aren't quite as good. I'm interested in expanding beyond chocolate based "healthy" desserts, so if you have any suggestions for me to try, please tell me about it in the comments below!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Controversy Corner: To Vaccinate or Not To Vaccinate

My earliest memories of needles only dates back to junior high. We were called down to the nurses office in groups to receive a vaccination that came in three doses spread over the year. I wasn't nervous at first, but as I watched each twisted face and heard each involuntary shriek, my mind started to work against me. My bicep was about to be mutilated by this horrible object no bigger than a pencil. Shortly after my injection, my symptoms started to catch up with me. My arm was hot and swollen, it felt a little numb... in fact, I felt quite faint! That is, until the pizza was delivered.

It's funny the tricks you can play on yourself, and in the interest of being a good parent. In recent history certain celebrities and special interest groups have been lobbying against standardized vaccinations. From terrible outbreaks of the illness we are trying to avoid, to serious cognitive repercussions like Autism, they claim that the needles do far more harm than good. The science behind these controversial claims, largely published in the now infamous Lancet article, has recently been heavily criticized (if not outright debunked), but there are still parents who question the government sponsored immunization schedule.

According to WebMD, "Measles is an infectious disease that causes a red, non-itchy rash over most of the body and severe flu-like symptoms with a high fever." It is a serious illness, that does claim lives every year. Why you would want to risk this for your family, I don't know. However, out of respect for informed decision making, we have researched how this anti-vaccination movement started and what the leading health organizations are doing in the interest of protecting our health.

Anti-vaccination activism as been around for a very long time. According to www.procon.org, The Anti-Vaccination Society of America was founded in 1879 in response to the states enacting vaccination mandates and with the belief that it "is undignified" to mandate vaccinations and that the "efficacy of vaccination as a disease preventative is a matter of individual opinion." Efficacy has long been proven with a barrage of medical tests as each strain was developed, but the supposed indignity? This violation of the individual's right to choose (infringement on religious or autonomous rights) what's best for ones children remains one of the largest reasons to not inoculate. I have to wonder, however, if you had all the information, would you not choose to protect your family?

More recently, however, the major concern divides into fear of the unknown/dangerous/ potentially immoral ingredients and the possible side effects. There have been hundreds of international court cases claiming cognitive delays, and even Autism caused by the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine specifically. Wikipedia notes "In the United States, Jenny McCarthy blamed vaccinations for her son Evan's disorders and leveraged her celebrity status to warn parents of a link between vaccines and autism. Evan's disorder began with seizures and his improvement occurred after the seizures were treated, symptoms experts have noted are more consistent with Landau–Kleffner syndrome, often misdiagnosed as autism. After the Lancet article was discredited, McCarthy continued to defend Wakefield."

The cost of this anti-vaccination movement has been staggering in a few short years. Certain diseases which were considered practically dead to modern risk, returned with devastating results, including a major measles outbreak at Disneyland. I think the National Post sums up my opinions on the matter very well "Most often... travel notices pop up to alert Canadians to health risks in countries where a dearth of clean water, sanitary supplies or reliable medical care facilitate the easy spread of infectious diseases. The United States, generally speaking, has none of these problems. What it does have — along with Canada and many other Western countries — is the scourge of misinformation, which has allowed the spread of diseases once thought to be eradicated by modern medicine." A common comment made by those who contracted the illness was of how unaware they were of the severity of the discomfort. It is not a easy pain to suffer by any means.

World Health Organization has done a quite a bit to try to undo the damage, including new recommendations for immunization week in Europe. They have produced a straightforward document titled "Seven Key Reasons Why immunization must remain a priority in the WHO European Region," accompanied by world statistics on the diseases preventable with current scientific advancements. Of note is item #4: Diseases can be controlled and eliminated. The concrete information provided is certainly food for thought for any doubting mother. I am firmly of the belief that the standardized immunization schedule of any country is not put together lightly. It is a huge cost, both in terms of the research and production undertaking, and the cost of any potential risk to the lives of the population. We have access to well researched, well tested, medical advances that many countries would so gratefully have.

My doctor told me just recently that measles went from eradicated in 2000, to thousands of cases currently confirmed. This includes 5 cases in the greater Toronto area at the time this was written. While your child is too young for vaccination, it can be very hard to protect them. Be aware of any areas that have known outbreaks and try not to expose your baby to people with rashes. I know that's a little extreme, and hard to do, but that's about the best you can do. If you are still worried about immunizing your child, inform yourself and discuss your concerns with your physician. You might find that the hype was just that.

Monday, 9 February 2015

What's In Your Diaper Bag? - Lauren and Austin


Few moms I know fit more in to their day than today's featured mommy. With baby groups in two cities, aquafit for her and baby, plus an active hobby of dog obedience/ training, it's a wonder she sleeps at all! She's proof that you can fit way more in to your day than you think, and also that women can do it all! For those days that she's a little run down, she has a comic of a son to keep her laughing. I had to know what this mom on the go packed to keep her munchkin smiling!


What's In Your Diaper Bag?

Name: 
Lauren

Baby's Name (and age): 
Austin (9 months)


Most Important Thing in Your Diaper Bag: 
Wipes

Basic Save: 

Coconut Oil in a small baby food jar as bum cream.

Essential Splurge: 

Good wipe and wipe container... a good diaper bag itself is also worth spending money on... just not too much money.

If you use a lot of wipes, or are constantly on the go, investing in a pretty and practical wipe dispenser is worth it. Ones like these pictured are sometimes offered as a bonus when you buy in bulk, but you can pick up soft or hard sided, refillable wipe containers for under $10. You'll still be ahead of buying disposable dispensers in the long run.

Best Preparedness Advice: 

Your diaper bag should have it's own supply of cream, wipes, bags, etc, so you aren't constantly pulling things out and putting them back. Also, establish a good restocking routine to ensure you never leave home without a good supply. Everything needs a place in the bag so it's easy to see what needs to be restocked.

Final Words of Wisdom...

Do what you can to pack your bag to help you when your out. ex) I use cloth diapers. I put disposable inserts in the diaper, then place them in the bag. when I'm out doing a diaper change, I don't have to worry about finding the disposable inserts and applying them to the diaper before putting it on my son.


Content: formula, wipes. diapers, bibs, distraction toys, nursing cover, lotion, bum cream.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Best Books: Fun with the Alphabet

Books for children serve many different purposes. They teach a love of reading, an appreciation for storytelling, empathy, literacy - the list goes on and on. While every book helps in development, some books are more obviously didactic, like the classic alphabet book. An introduction to letters is the first step towards independent reading, and publishers have been expanding their offerings as of late. Sometimes, you want something that goes beyond the basic "A is for Apple" alphabet books and are ready to delve into a more creative territory. If that's the case, I strongly recommend you check out these titles. 

Note: I usually have a "What's it About?" section in my Best Books posts, but in this case, I've left that out as they aren't traditionally structured stories. 

Book: Once Upon an Alphabet / Oliver Jeffers

What Makes it Great?
This collection of 26 different short stories (one for each letter of the alphabet) is fun for both adults and children. The illustrations are classic Jeffers, simple and adorable pictures that both depict and enhance the text. The stories are absurd vignettes which highlight vocabulary for each letter while making you laugh out loud. I cannot recommend this book enough.

*My husband, who was hesitant to let me purchase this book at full price, reads this book aloud to our 12 week old and has even given it the following review: "This book is amazing and hilarious. It goes into the list of the greats, like The Stinky Cheese Man." [ed. note: written by Jon Scieszka]



Book: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom / Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault

What Makes it Great?
This is now a classic book, recommended by children's librarians everywhere. The book introduces kids to a personified alphabet with rhyme, action, and onomatopoeia. Using a simple story structure, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom goes through all 26 letters (twice!) in a way that doesn't feel repetitive or boring, but is memorable beyond the traditional song. Check out this book with your 2-5 year old toddler or preschooler and find out together whether or not there will be enough room atop the coconut tree for all the letters A through Z!


Book: ABC of Canada / Per-Henrik Gurth

What Makes it Great?
These days, you can find an alphabet book on almost any topic from dance to things found on the construction site. If you want your alphabet book to do teaching double duty, consider this title which introduces children to the many wonders found in our home and native land, Canada. This book does a great job of highlighting things across the country (it can't be accused of putting Ontario above everyone else). To boot, the simple pictures offer big visual impact, with the use of primary colours and thick black outlining.



Book: Animalia / Graeme Base

What Makes it Great?
For an older crowd (ages 4-7), Animalia is a visual feast that will keep kids interested for hours. Graeme Base treats the alphabet right, giving each letter its own intricately designed illustration and alliterative sentence combo. Its difficult to explain the level of detail that has gone into each image in this book, and you're bound to discover something new upon each viewing. Take an afternoon to soak up the "Lazy Lions Lounging in the Local Library" and the "Richly Robed Rhinoceroses Riding in Rickety Red Rickshaws"... you'll be glad you did.



What's your child's favourite alphabet book? Let us know in the comments below.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Trend Watch: Baby Bullet and Homemade Baby Food


When it comes to eating healthy, the very best way to start is to know what you're eating. Seems easy enough, but with all the additives, preservatives, chemicals, not to mention the mess that is nutrition labels... why it's just easier to do it yourself! That said, we all have days where we order in pizza or make some other ill advised choice for our bodies. We would never want to do that to our children. Well, I'm here to tell you, that you will. They will go to birthday parties, they will spend a weekend at grandma's, they will trade snacks at school. They will survive.

While they're still infants and largely under your control, at least when it comes to nutrition, you might decide to do it all from scratch. An impressive undertaking. When you think about it, what could be more natural? It's simple, cost effective, and you always know exactly what is in them. It does require commitment, however. You need to be prepared with enough time and groceries. You have to be able to store and readily portion for an ever changing appetite. You also need to know what foods are appropriate in terms of nutrient variety, potential choking hazards, and current allergen recommendations! Makes those brightly coloured squish packs just a little more tempting, doesn't it?

On one hand, mothers have been making their own baby food since the beginning of time. On the other, cave women didn't have to think about epi pens and online banking. If there was only a way to make it easier...

Bam! Along comes the cutest darn food processor you've ever seen, along with all the bits and bobs you need to feed junior the ultimate homemade feast easily. Freezable storage containers, recipe book, tiny coordinated spatula?!?! Adorable, and amazing, or so they claim. The official Baby Bullet website features mom's making bold statements like "She finally sleeps through the night!" and "You'll feel like an amazing mom!" I don't know what science backs up these claims, but I doubt they would hold up in court. Don't get me wrong, I think there are pros and cons to homemade baby food, so let's look at them more in detail.


Pros
  • This product is meant to take some of the "where do I start?" out of the process. If you're unsure about what is appropriate for the baby's age, how thin to mill, how to effectively store, and the like, this kit contains a lot of helpful hints and tricks that may give moms the confidence to give it a go. I support that immensely. A little practice (trial and lots of error) and you won't need recipes. 
  • Rather than buying piecemeal all the elements you need to get started, they do come all in one box, which eliminates some of the procrastination, at least at first. Once you try it, you might realize it's not as hard as you assumed.
  • With multiple blades and the recipe book handy, you might be more inclined to try something new, or be more likely to mix an alternative if you don't have your go-to grocery on hand. Nothing ruins that small window of time faster than feeling overwhelmed and under prepared.
Cons
  • This is yet another gadget to add to our already overburdened kitchen counters. You more than likely already have a food processor, hand mixer, or blender that will serve this purpose. Heck, a potato masher would do the job for most foods.
  • The after-prep is the same. The storage of baby food is easy, and doesn't require anything that you don't have at home. You can use freezer grade bags, which are great for labeling content and date. You can also use ice cube trays, which are great for popping out servings that defrost in seconds.
  • We live in the digital age - you can find recipes on Pinterest, watch how-tos on Youtube, swap combos with mommy friends on Facebook. The likelihood of these is also slightly higher than keeping a book on your counter.
The moral of this story? If you get it for a gift, awesome. Enjoy it. If not, don't think that a happy green food mill is the secret to your success or failure. This is another one of those "if it ain't broke" situations. It's not fancy, but it's from the heart, and that's the best part. 


Oh, and as for those squish packs? I buy them! They're strictly regulated, usually organic, and definitely satisfy. Heck, with combos like vanilla berry risotto and leafy greens with brown rice, I'm tempted to eat them! Don't feel bad!

Monday, 2 February 2015

What's In Your Diaper Bag? Groundhog Day Special


Ah, Groundhog's Day. While most people (accurately) associate this holiday with those adorable, alliterative rodents that pop their heads out in search of a shadow,  we here at WIYDB? cannot separate the holiday from the Bill Murray classic. For those of you who somehow missed out on this gem, the gist of it is that Bill Murray's character must relive February 2nd until he gets it right. (But, it's obviously so much better than a one sentence summary, so go rent it!) In that spirit, we're re-living Seana's diaper bag this week, to see what she does differently now that Elliott is six months older and she's a more experienced Mama. From the looks of it, Seana is going to be fully prepared whether or not we get 6 more weeks of winter.

What's In Your Diaper Bag?

Name: Seana

Baby's Name (and age): Elliott (9 months)

Most Important Thing in Your Diaper Bag: 
Pacifier and toy wipes. At this age, my son puts anything and everything in his mouth. If it's on the floor (playgroup, library, grandma's carpet), it's up for the tasting. 

Basic Save: 
I keep Cheerios in my bag for snack time. My boy loves them just as much as those fruity flavoured puffs, and for the same price I get so much more (525g of cereal vs. the 42g of puffed treats.) Come to think of it, they probably rank second in terms of most valuable bag stock.

Essential Splurge: 
Night time diapers. If I'm going to be out later, the last bum change is always in to an extra-dry diaper. It's worth it to have a happy bum for a long car ride, and be able to transfer a sleeping baby without another change. They are a little pricier per diaper, but it's 100% worth it for me.

Best Preparedness Advice: 
Throw in a little of everything, and hope for the best. I mean, diapers, wipes, and an outfit will save you a lot of unnecessary stress, but you can cope with forgetting nearly everything else. I don't worry nearly as much about this as I used to. Don't sweat it if you forgot a burp cloth (use a blanket, or even a spare shirt). It's no biggie if you forgot to repack some toys a book, keys, (or some of those handy Cheerios) will keep him calm. Sing songs, be messy, and own it. No one is judging you harsher than you are.

Contents (from left to right): Change pad, diaper bag, snack cup, powdered formula, travel diaper genie, wipes, diapers, emergency kit (clippers, thermometer, spare pacifier, etc), my items (sun glasses, acetaminophen, lip balm, lozenges, pen, agenda, paperwork), hand products, granola bar, toy and pacifier wipes, change of out fit and cloth, various toys/ distraction objects).