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LIFE WITH BABY

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Mommy + Me Grey County Adventure

I’ve done my fair share of road trips with Maxwell since she was a newborn and as difficult as it may be hitting the road with a teeny tiny traveller, we have created memories that will last a lifetime. That being said, road trips with a toddler are NO JOKE!  I’ve learned that a) it’s best to not schedule the days and to go with the flow because at this age, everything is unpredictable – sleep, mood swings…you name it and b) if you must go, don’t do it alone! My girlfriend Solmaz (and one of my favourite travel bloggers/writers behind TheCuriousCreature.com) invited Max and I to tag along with her and adorable son Luka to explore Grey County and I couldn’t say no to discovering one of the most picturesque Ontario destinations. So armed with backpacks crammed with snacks, juice boxes and an iPad downloaded with a seasons worth of Paw Patrol, we were off.

As two marginally intelligent women and traveling mamas, we were smart enough to add two stops on route to Grey. One to change diapers and let the kids stretch their legs then a little over the half way mark to our final destination, we took some time to explore Scenic Caves Nature Adventures. It was actually our second time visiting this spot. The first was last winter where Maxie and I went snowshoeing  along the grounds. Experiencing this tourist attraction in the summer months may be my fave because there are a ton more things to explore on the grounds for every age.  Solmaz and I were blown away to be honest at how many child-friendly activities were offered there. There’s tons of nature hikes on site, but there is also a super cool Gemstone Mining activity where kids can go panning for semi precious jewels to take home with them, mini-put, the infamous 420 ft long suspension bridge, a massive playground, bird feeding and Rocky the Train. Luka and Maxwell could have rode on that thing for hours. In hindsight, this could have easily been a full day stop, so if you plan to head up there, make sure you give yourself enough time to explore and also make sure to wear closed toes shoes (THEY ARE MANDATORY!).

Photo by Solmaz of @TheCuriousCreature

If you’re traveling sans toddlers you can also enjoy other dope activities like zip-lining down Ontario’s largest twin zipline, treetopping adventures and discovering the unique caves and caverns that were formed by ancient glacial ice. I’ve yet to try these things but if there is ever a chance I am back in the area and have someone to watch Mawell, the zip lining will be the first thing I do. There is food is available on-site with  a seasonal BBQ during this time of the year. We ordered yummy chicken burgers and the kids got chicken tenders and fries. There’s also a snack bar that is opened year round and tons of souvenirs available for purchase. Personally, I found the prices are reasonable based on what you get. General admission will run you $26.50 for adults and $24.25 for youth (under 18) + HST. Group rates are also available and this gives you access to the playgrounds, caves, all the nature trails for hiking, the suspension bridge, train and tractor rides. The mining, mini gold and all other activities cost extra. Prices can be found on their website.

WHERE TO STAY

We ended up staying in Georgian Bay, which was a first for me, at the beautiful and quaint Cobble Beach. Ask anyone who has stayed there what they think about it, they will not stop talking your ear off –  it’s that amazing. If you’re looking for a road trip getaway to somewhere a bit off the beaten path, you’re going to want to book this spot IMMEDIATELY. The property sits on an expansive 574 acres and is located only 10 minutes from Owen Sound, in the Township of Georgian Bluffs. Surrounded by the most perfectly clear lake water and views, every where you turn looks like a painting.

Photo by Solmaz of @TheCuriousCreature

Photo by Solmaz of @TheCuriousCreature

The property is known for it’s epic, world-class golf course and from what I hear people travel from far to play 18 holes here. The Inn at Cobble Beach also has a spa, plunge pool, 2 immaculate tennis courts, almost 20km’s of trails, 10 guest suites in the main building and 5 newly built, stunning lakeside cottages. You guys, the accommodations are TO DIE FOR. Bright, airy and minimal. At first we were going to just get separate guest suites but decided last minute it would be a good call to shack up in a cottage for our two night stay. It worked out perfectly because we were able to enjoy some much needed wine-time at night in our living room once Luka and Maxwell went to bed. We each had our own spacious bedrooms and bathrooms (there are two of each in every cottage) a small kitchen set-up with all the necessities we needed to keep items refrigerated or up during our stay.

Cobble Beach is year round resort with plenty of things to do each season, but I will say this, summer and fall really are great times for those heading up with families. The beach club has a park for kids, canoes and kayaks for those who want to be in the water. The trails are a perfect spot for long walks or runs to take in the fresh country air. It really is a dream. We brought strollers for the kids but turned out we didn’t even need to. You can rent this jogger caboost, which can actually connect to a bike, bicycles, and even helmets from the Own Sound Tourism Centre. These two loved being shuttled from the cottage to the club house for meals in it (not the golf cart LOL) and it’s super cute.

So the Inn at Cobble Beach is really small, however they do offer onsite dining in the club house at Sweetwater Restaurant. They offer a daily buffet brekkie each morning that we absolutely loved. Baked goods, cereals, yogurt with the fixings to make your own bowl situation, with of course traditional breakfast chow we all know and love like eggs, bacon, with mini french toast and mini pancakes that were the perfect size for the kids to handle and feed themselves. We did our dinners at the hotel as well, just made sense, and was easy seeing as though the club house was literally 30 feet from our cottage. If you’re there during the weekday, don’t miss Pizza Night on Wednesdays. It’s so bomb. It ends promptly at 6pm though so make sure to get in early. We lost our minds over the wood oven pizzas that the mamas paired with a yummy Pinot Grigio and the kiddos the region’s finest apple juice LOL! It and was not to be outdone by our final dinner of the Atlantic Salmon served on a bed of coconut rice with broccolini, curried mango and acidulated raisins. That plate was packed with the most insanely delicious flavours. I should mention that the menu is seasonal so this salmon dish has been updated and altered slightly on their current Fall/Winter menu but still sounds just as good.

WHAT TO SEE

There are loads of activities within a short driving distance that will easily keep you and the family entertained and seriously, at a price point that will not break the bank. Here’s some stops that I would highly recommend should be on your “MUST-SEE” list if you make the trek to Grey County/Owen Sound.

Harrison Park

Ummmm hello, this place under promised and seriously over delivered. Harrison Park is a dream and made of about 40 hectares of of streams, trails, gardens, playgrounds, forest and green space. Similar to Scenic Caves, this could easily be a full day experience for anyone that loves the outdoors or has kids. On the grounds you’ll also find a full serviced campsite, dining options, outdoor musical instruments, a swimming pool, basketball courts, a bird sanctuary, boat rentals, mini-put and more.

Just a short walk away from the park’s core, is also Weaver’s Creek Falls, a small waterfall that we were able to trek to in only a few minutes with the kiddos. It’s amazing that so much nature and beauty was so accessible. But you know what, besides the playgrounds (which was almost impossible to peel the kids off of) we really enjoyed our paddle boat experience on the Sydenham River. Luka looked like he had a blast and as for Max, she gave me a couple heart attacks  on our little boat cruise, wanting to jump off  to go pet the geese and then spent the rest of the time barking instructions to me as to which way she wanted to go.

Inglis Falls

Now that I think about it, waterfalls seemed like a theme on this trip. We snuck in a quick visit to Inglis Falls on the day we were departing back to Toronto and we were pleasantly surprised how easy it was to catch views of this beautiful site. Located within the 200 hectares that make up the Inglis Falls Conservation Area, the 18 meter high cascade brings tons of visitors each year.

Photo by Solmaz of @TheCuriousCreature

Also in the conservation area, you will find almost 8km’s of nature trails in varying difficulties, historical grist mill, geological potholes, picnic facilities and access to Bruce Trail. Entrance into the grounds costs a mere $6 per vehicle, heads up they only take cash, and once you park, you are only steps away from the falls. Impressive because that pretty much makes it stroller and wheelchair accessible. There are a handful of steps, maybe no more than 6 or so, that will bring you to the lookout point where the kids watched the water, however the falls can be seen without going down them.

Grey Roots Museum 

So this turned out to be the perfect rainy day activity. The site was actually a lot larger than we anticipated housing both Grey Roots Museum and Moreston Heritage Village on the grounds. We popped in to let the kids take in the summer exhibit “Under the Canopy: Animals of the Rainforest”. They were both obsessed with the Owl that they got to watch eat it’s dinner of mice and pet snakes, while I almost passed out in fear. I love that this place has tailored activities for toddlers. During the month of October, they will start “Toddlers Take The Museum” a morning series of stories, songs and crafts lead by a Grey County Early Years Literacy Facilitator for toddlers and pre-school ages kids and its FREE!!!!.

Other Notable Mentions: The Flying Spatula Diner

Well, there is no trip up north complete without a heritage diner experience. We were told we MUST not miss a chance to hit up The Flying Spatula before heading back to Toronto so we did exactly that. We were so determined to eat lunch there even though it was in the middle of nap time, Solmaz went in and pre-ordered our food and got everything set up allowing me to stay in the car while Max got some much needed sleep after our Inglis Falls excursion. What makes this spot so special? Chef Greg Galoksa, who has appeared on foodie reality show Chopped Canada, the original decor and of course the joint’s main server Nina. Seriously, between the comfort food and Nina, I would make the drive up there just to eat and then go back home. I splurged a bit and decided to go all in with the fish tacos and fries, then finished it off by splitting a slice of coconut cream pie with Solmaz. It was so damn good, I ordered an entire pie to go…but wait for it, then accidentally left it behind in the midst of packing up all our stuff. I realized this when we were about 8km’s away and still turned around to drive back to get it. IT WAS THAT GOOD. And you know what, Miss Nina was waiting by the door for me withe pie and homemade cream all packed up. That’s what I call good people.

Photo by Solmaz of @TheCuriousCreature

I’m not sure if this has convinced you to visit Grey County but I will tell you know,  writing it has definitely convinced me to go back. I would love to rediscover this area in the fall with the beautiful colours of the changing leaves. A special thank you to the Visit Grey team for hosting us last month and helping us put together such an epic itinerary. We were wiped by the time we got back to Toronto and it took me two days to recover but Luka and Maxwell had the time of their lives, which is what it’s all about.

 

Why The New Hyundai Palisade is the Perfect SUV for the Modern Family

As a modern mom on the go, I rely on the car I drive to take me from meetings to play dates and everything in between. I recently test-drove the new 2020 Hyundai Palisade and after a week getting acquainted with the vehicle, I have to words to describe it: Refined Luxury.

 

Today, families looking to purchase a new vehicle are looking for more. More seats. More room. More power. More comfort. More safety. More technology. Even more cup holders. The new Palisade meets those needs and is packed with a healthy suite of driver assistance tech and bold design to make it a clear front-runner in its category and an attractive option for families on the go.

2020 Hyundai Palisade

IMPRESSIVE INTERIOR/EXTERIOR

As soon as I opened the door for the first time, my eyes were immediately drawn to the nappa leather seats in every row with beautiful quilted detailing that even extends onwards to inside on the door panels. As a mom to a toddler, there was a brief moment of panic thinking how it was going to hold up against mess and spills. While surprisingly wiped clean easily, the crumbs on the ground from Goldfish snacks were inevitable. Dual sunroofs let tons of light into the cabin, which is great on a summer day, but not always ideal when there’s a child napping in the back. A rear sunroof that closes and second row window shades, turned out to be the perfect combination for nap-time on the road.

2020 Hyundai Palisade SUV

2020 Hyundai Palisade

2020 Hyundai Palisade

If you’re in the market for a three-row SUV, comfort and cargo space will no doubt be high on of your priority list. The Palisade can seat up to eight with the bench seat option as the middle row. Our luxury loaner accommodated seven due to the upgraded second row captain seats. And here’s the thing: regardless of which row you’re sitting in, there’s always enough legroom. So, if any parent needs to ride with their kid in the back, rest assured there’s enough space for you back there.  In most vehicles this size, the third row is a place nobody wants to be in since it’s, often difficult to access. However, the Palisade makes this back row easily accessible by just the touch of a button, “The idea was to make the way-back seats easy enough to get in and out of that a kid could do it by themselves”, explained the Hyundai employee who gave me a guided walk-thru of the vehicle. The second row seats have two big, kid-friendly buttons that are even within reach for mini passengers. Tap one and the seat swiftly leans and slides forward.

Driving with kids, whether it’s to the mall or to the cottage, means you’re always going to need a ton of room for all the necessary things that have to come with you. For my partner Réjean and I, it means having enough room for our second stroller (which we always keep in the trunk) and for the equipment and props we use for work. There is 18 cubic feet of space behind the third row, which is actually quite generous. There is ample room for a stroller and a handful of bags after a grocery run. There’s even a secret sub trunk where you can stash smaller items or the cargo cover if you’re not using it. However, with the third row down, that’s where the magic happens: with almost 46 cubic feet of space, there’s no longer any need to doubt whether or not you’ll have sufficient space after your Costco or Ikea haul. Win.

2020 Hyundai Palisade SUV

The exterior holds its’ own, too, and is what makes people’s heads first turn when they see the Palisade. Its sleek lines, bold design and its massive, patterned front grille looks quite sophisticated and very hard to miss on the road.

TONS OF TECH

The technology in the Palisade was enough to turn my jaded self into a real Hyundai believer. The top-level trim has a dreamy digital dashboard and infotainment center. The 10.25-inch touch screen display is where you’ll find everything from navigation to media and everything in between. It also hosts the innovative and thoughtful features that make parents’ lives on the road with kiddos easy and wait for it…even enjoyable.

2020 Hyundai Palisade SUV

Safety trumps everything now that I am carrying precious cargo. Driving in the hectic city with a kid screaming in the back can sometimes be overwhelming. Having the Palisade’s tech-forward safety features definitely made driving in rush hour less chaotic. I especially loved the blind view monitor that streams a live visual of your blind spot directly on the dash cluster whenever you attempt a lane change. There’s a slew of other features within the Hyundai SmartSense package that help keep your family safe and your mind at ease like the Rear Occupant Alert, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection, Safe Exit Assist, Driver Attention Warning, Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keeping Assist, and even Multi-Terrain Control modes to help you expertly navigate the terrain ahead whether it be snow, sand or even mud.

Here are some of the things I couldn’t stop talking about:

Driver Talk: Have you ever driven a large vehicle and felt like you had to scream for the passengers in the back to hear you? Driver Talk is an intercom that allows you to project your voice to the passengers in the very back without having to yell. It’s a brilliant little feature that I’m sure was developed by a parent. Trust me, everyone in the car will appreciate the more civilized communication.

Quiet Mode: Driving with kids that often nap in transit means it can sometimes compromise the entertainment of the driver and front passenger. I loved the fact that this feature allowed me to still enjoy my music, while my kid dozed off to sleep in the back with the muted rear speakers.

Outlets For Everyone: Never in my life have I seen as much power charging capability for devices in one car. As a working mom on the go, this was a welcomed luxury. The center console had a charging pad compatible with the latest iPhone, so I could keep my phone charged, even if I forgot the cable at home (which happens more often than not). Plus, the three USB power outlets upfront and two in the second and third rows means that whenever my team was rolling with me, every laptop, iPad and cell phone along for the journey would stay charged (and there was never any fighting over outlets).

FINAL THOUGHTS

In short, the 2020 Hyundai Palisade has the looks and premium feel to rank high in its segment. It made a great first impression with me as a mainstream model with luxury aspirations, especially with the interior where it successfully manages to mimic an actual premium model. Hyundai really nailed it with this SUV. They have found a way for luxury to be affordable and its design, room and vast technology offering make this the perfect vehicle for the growing modern family.

5 Reasons to Staycation With Kids at the Ritz Carlton Toronto

This city has no shortage of luxury hotels, but not all of them know how to do luxury for guests traveling with kids. Our schedule hasn’t really allowed us to plan our usual big summer vacay, but I have been determined to find little pockets of time this season for short trips and staycations. Someone tipped me off to a link for weekend getaway deals with the Marriott group of hotels and for the first time ever, decided to stay at Toronto’s Ritz Carlton Hotel. I shared some details during our two night stay at the property, but I figured with the questions still pouring in about our experience, I would share a few things that may have you interested in your own vacation within the city at the Ritz with the family.

Location Location Location

Sure, trips up north for the weekend sounds fab but you know what does not sound fab…the commute and traffic. When you only have a two day weekend to spare, time is of the essence. It took us 25 minutes to get to the hotel on a Friday afternoon. If I had to give the Ritz Carlton a walk score, it would be a 5 out of 5. It’s centrally located and walking distance to restaurants, theatres, Scotia Bank Arena, Rogers Centre, and tourist destinations – CN Tower, Centre Island, Ripley’s Aquarium and more.

The patio vibes for brunch is amazing. The waitstaff also has kiddie kits around to keep little guests occupied during meal times with colour pads and books

The Suite (Sweet) Life

Whether you are traveling with one rambunctious toddler, like me, or checking in with a family of five, the Ritz has room and suite accommodations to make any size family comfortable. We stayed in one of the one bedroom corner suites on the 14th floor that had city views, floor to ceiling windows, a pull out couch in a separate living room, powder room and oversized spa bathroom.

Ritz Carlton Toronto - Sasha Exeter

OMGGGGG they brought Max a robe so we could match

Cribs are also available upon request. There was tons of space for Maxwell to run around and have a section of the 650 sqft room to herself to play and hangout. Truthfully though, we normally book larger accommodations, but the Simcoe or Wellington suites were both unavailable during the dates for our stay. These are amazing options if you’re looking for a suite over 1,000 sqft.

Family Fun Packages

One of the biggest tasks while vacationing or staycationing is finding fun activities for the whole family to enjoy. The Family Fun packages are what sets this hotel property apart from the rest when it comes to family friendly experiences. Now that I think about it, it is totally more of an experience for them than it is for the adults and includes the Ritz Kids check-in and welcome amenities, an in-suite movie screening during each night’s stay with choice of snack, access to the exclusive Club Lounge with complimentary EVERYTHING (more on this later) and your choice of family activity to enjoy during your stay

Ritz Carlton Toronto - Sasha Exeter

  • Ritz-Carlton Camp – features in-room tent set-up and special camp themed amenities (e.g. flashlights/glow sticks, stuffed animals, children’s bedtime/ghost story books etc.).
  • Fin’tastic Family Adventure – includes 4 Anytime tickets to Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
  • Explore Canadian Art– includes 4 tickets (2 adults and 2 children) to the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)
  • Dig into Canadian History – includes 4 tickets (2 adults and 2 children) to the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)
  • Culinary Creators Experience – Virtual Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream Sundae interactive activity for 2 children in the kitchen with a Ritz-Carlton, Toronto Chef

Maxwell lost her mind when she saw the circus themed tent set up in our room, which came within the hour of us checking in. The staff and concierge wasted no time and go above and beyond here to make sure kids feel like VIP’s during their stay. Her latest obsession right now is the ocean and the world of animals that live in it, so we also scored passes to Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, which you can get as part of the ‘Fin’tastic Family Adventure option. The aquarium was the perfect Saturday morning activity. It’s a short walk from the hotel, there’s tons to see and do inside and so many food options.

*Extra benefits that come along with the Family Fun package – you can upgrade to one of the corner suites for an additional $100 and complimentary wifi.

The Exclusive Club Lounge

Get ready to have your minds blown people. Without a doubt, the club level is what really elevates an experience at the Ritz Carlton and the other properties that fall under the Marriott umbrella. The newly renovated oasis located on the top floor offers guests comfort and intimacy in a sleek lounge overlooking the CN Tower and Lake Ontario. Access to Club Level comes at an extra charge which can be applied either online during booking or at concierge when you check in and seriously is worth every single penny. Inside you’ll find well appointed furniture and a continuous culinary offering all day long – breakfast, light snacks, appetizers, alcoholic beverages, sweets and more. The cost for Club Level access is around the same price as you would pay for a hotel breakfast for two people so naturally it makes sense.

Ritz Carlton Toronto + Sasha Exeter

Having Club Lounge access means you also get complimentary enhanced wifi access, a dedicated concierge that can assist with in making resto reservations anywhere, they booked our Saturday night dinner at A Toi, a theatre show, concert, local tour, etc during your stay and even complimentary garment pressing during your stay.

Ritz Carlton Toronto - Sasha Exeter

Kiddies will LOVE the lounge too. It’s super kid friendly and I saw tons of tweens popping in and out on their own sans parents for snacks and treats throughout the day. It was also like a hangout spot for some too. There is a space for them to play boardgames and cards plus the TV area is designated Ritz Kids zone for watching TV and movies in a private setting.

*When you stay at the Ritz Carlton Toronto property, access to Club Level comes at an extra charge which can be applied either online during booking or at concierge when you check-in.

Lavish Lobby Perks

At most hotels, the lobby is just the gateway to getting somewhere else in the property or to leave it. The Ritz Carlton has made sure that their lobby is a space guests will want to actually hang out in while they are coming or going. On the Friday evening when we checked in there was a Limoncello cocktail station for adults, there is a daily ice tea station using a tea of the day from the infamous Sloane Teas on the weekends there is a pop-up candy bar for the kids and on the Sunday as we were checking out, they had a cart doing ice cream sundaes to help beat the heat!

The lobby Limoncello cocktail bar was such a treat

Between the suites, club level lounge, family friendly packages and central location, we highly suggest the Ritz Carlton for your next family staycation or vacation. Check the rates for your desired dates for a weekend of fun this summer!

Custom Mommy + Me Bathers

Summer is in full swing now so with plenty of pool days, long weekends and summer travel ahead, I thought I would finally share the scoop on the custom swimwear Maxie and I had designed a few months back. I’ve been seeing a ton of sponsored posts on IG promoting matchy matchy suits and we could have easily ordered some cookie cutter pieces online, but y’all know how much I love supporting local small businesses. We turned to Toronto based brand Unika Swim to customize the perfect one and two pieces for us and you can too using my promo code “Sasha20” which will get you 20% off  your order.

Mommy + Me Matching Swimwear

Unika prides themselves on making inclusive swimwear for all shapes and sizes, so technically you could pop into their Yorkville showroom to purchase or order online, but the custom swimwear is a fit that is specifically made just for your body with options to create the one-piece, two-piece or tankini of your dreams. This is perfect for the ladies who have itty bitty boobies or for those who are on the larger cup size who usually find it extremely difficult to find the suits they love in their size. Unika’s bra sizes range from AAA to a J cup which is unheard of and with 200+ styles to choose from, there’s no way you aren’t going to find something that you’re going to feel confident and amazing in.

HOW IT WORKS

I went through Unika Swim’s booking system to schedule our initial appointment which you can find here. The both of us had our measurements taken and trust me, it was effing hilarious watching Maxwell get hers done and seeing her try on a few of the baby styles to get an idea of how they fit her.

I knew for sure we needed a two piece and with my athletic build, I wanted something both sporty and sexy. Frankly, Maxie honestly looks cute in everything so her needs clearly did not come first here LOL! I ended up choosing a top similar to the Marza cut in yellow and the Unika girls convinced me to ditch low rise bottoms for the more sexier high cut based off the design for the Zafina bottoms.

Mommy + Me Swimwear

But here’s the best part, I felt the back was a bit too revealing so we were able to customize the design to give me a bit more coverage. For Maxie’s bottoms because she’s still wearing a swim diaper we decided that high cut waist with full coverage in the bum worked best. We added a ruffled frill on either side and it came out adorbs. We also got on high cut one-pieces too in the sickest orange colour that works so well on both of our skin tones. They were the perfect punch of colour on our last getaway to Miami Beach.

PRICING

This is the question I have been asked the most in DM’s. The pricing actually is quite fair.

OFF THE RACK: All pieces are sold separately and are interchangeable (BONUS). Tops and bottoms range from $80+

CUSTOM: Average custom suit is around $190+ depending on the fabric, style and cut you choose. Custom pieces start at $106 a piece and the average suit is anywhere from $220-250

REPLICATING A SUIT:  To replicate any of the Unika original designs to your exact measurements with some modifications (if necessary) here’s what the pricing looks like:

One piece $80.00
Bikini bottoms $40.00
Bikini top $40.00
Tankini suit $95.00

MOMMY + ME MATCHING SUITS (SPECIFIC DETAILS FOR INFANT/TODDLER SIZING)

You can customize kiddie suits for both girls and boys under the age of 10. Simply email the amazing team at info@unikaswim.ca to get started and they will make the process seamless. The current sizes for kids range from 3 months to 10 years and the available pieces to choose from are boys trunks, rash guards, two piece, tankinis, and one piece suits.
Photos by Bettina Bogar

TURNAROUND TIME

You can find more details on the turnaround time on UnikaSwim.ca but generally it takes about 10-12 days. I last minute with just about everything I do and waited until almost the 11th hour to get these made for our trip. The team was able to rush our order and can do it upon request at an extra charge.
PROMO CODE IS AVAILABLE FOR ALL REGULARLY PRICED SUITS FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR. MAKE SURE TO CITE “SASHA20” IN STORE AND ONLINE AT TIME OF PURCHASE.

Moments That Matter With Aeroplan: Miami Edition

Hot and sunny Miami. Another stamp in Maxwell’s passport and a pretty sweet place for Réjean and I to spend our third anniversary. Every year around this time when the weather gets cold, the two of us moonlight about spending our winters away somewhere warm like premature Snowbirds. Being down south for the entire winter is still quite a stretch but escaping the cold for a beach rendezvous a couple times during the season is somewhat reasonable and is now actually realistic thanks to some new benefits for Aeroplan Members.

Aeroplan + So Sasha

Aeroplan + So Sasha

Aeroplan + So Sasha

South Beach may not seem like the typical family vacation destination, but turns out more and more young families are heading to South Florida over other warm weather spots. The short three-hour flight is definitely a plus for parents traveling with young children, For us, it also made sense because Réjean’s parents are there all winter and we figured it was a great opportunity for them to spend some extra time with Maxwell. We had SUCH an amazing time during our trip and seriously wish someone had suggested this to me before. If you’ve yet to travel with your little one, there honestly couldn’t be a better destination to get over first family trip anxiety.

There’s lots of new features available to Aeroplan Members now, that we finally got a chance to take advantage of during this last family trip. Réjean and I earn miles in a few different ways. Through online purchases, but mostly through booked airline travel and credit card charges. We have a TD Aeroplan Visa Card, but Réjean just recently acquired an American Express AeroplanPlus Gold Card and we just scored a ton of Aeroplan Miles on it (I will share how a bit later!). In the past, we’ve only used our miles to book flights but this time, we actually used it to book our hotel stay and rental car. or earn miles on so much more than just flights. It’s been a long time coming but it was worth the wait. The new Aeroplan online travel booking portal allows members to use their miles or cash to book hotels and car rentals cars. It can be accessed through the homepage by clicking on the “Book Travel” tab. There you will not only be able to book but you will also find great deals based on recent bookings from other Aeroplan Members as long as you’ve signed into your account. And the new site has more than 25,000 hotels to choose from.

A pretty sweet and generous welcome gift from the Loews Miami team

I did some research specifically on family friendly properties in South Beach, which is how I discovered Loews Miami, then double checked to see if it was one of the preferred properties available for booking on Aeroplan.com. Not only was it there but by booking through the portal, we were able to earn four miles for every dollar spent, which HELLO…we can use towards future travel bookings. So we planned on four days and three nights there before heading to Deerfield to see the in-laws and it was the best spot in SoBe for our little family. A full baby concierge that provided us with a real crib (not a pack-and-play), bath time essentials, a bottle warmer and get this – even a stroller because guess who left Maxie’s Bugaboo back in Toronto by accident? I’ll save you the drama behind how that happened but our lives were saved upon arrival by the Loews concierge, who got a stroller for us within seconds of checking in.

The rooms at Loews Miami may be on the smaller side but more importantly, it’s quiet. NO CRAZY DAY PARTIES!  Day drinking foam parties isn’t really ideal when you’re traveling with a little one. The property has seven insanely delish restaurants that are SO good and convenient, you don’t even really need to go anywhere else if you don’t want to. We had the most exceptional buffet breakfasts every single morning at Preston’s Market, that truly felt like the ultimate indulgence. So much so, it left us no choice but to make sure we exercised at least once a day.  The best french toast I think we’ve ever had was served and I’m pretty sure I ate my weight in smoked salmon and capers. Max loved the mini pancakes and fruit kebobs from Preston’s kiddie corner. A separate section of the restaurant dedicated to guests under 10 years old.

Maxie was a good sport and allowed us a couple dinners out so we enjoyed a night of oysters and cocktails at the Lure Bar, also connected to the hotel, and relished the fact that we only had a short walk back to the room so we didn’t have to worry about drinking. South Miami probably has more restaurants per capita than any other city, so we did check out a few other spots as well like Byblos, who also has a Toronto location that I love. Yardbird Southern Table & Bar was just down the street from the hotel and seemed to keep coming up every time I searched or asked for the best foodie spots in the area. We even went to the neighbouring Kimpton Surfcomber Hotel’s restaurant, The Social, for a relaxed late night meal with live music.

Aeroplan + So Sasha

The pool is the hub of the hotel and flooded with families with small children, so Maxie made some friends there. With the Loews being oceanfront we also got some good beach time in. It also backs onto the infamous South Beach boardwalk, which was a dream. We were able to take long walks together as a family and Réj and I were able to get some runs in.

Being able to rent a car seat from Avis for our rental was super convenient

Four days in SoBe was more than enough for us and the last two nights were spent with Maxie’s grandparents. We rented the Dodge Journey SUV from Avis and you will never guess how much it cost us. Free.99 folks because we were able to use Aeroplan Miles for the rental, which was a blessing. For convenience, we rented it from the airport, so we were able to drive ourselves into the city and use the car to get around locally to take Max to The Children’s Museum and to discover the city. We were even able to rent a carseat from Avis at an additional charge thank goodness, so we were able to travel lean and light without having to bring hers along with our luggage. This is actually the first time we have rented a vehicle on vacation and I am so glad we did. Deerfield Beach is a lot more spread out than Miami was, so it was critical to have a set of wheels to get around while we were there.

Miami Children's Museum - So Sasha

Miami Children's Museum

Miami Children's Museum

We’ve traveled quite a bit as a family now. Short trips, long trips, destinations with different time zones…we learn something new every single time we travel. This trip was no exception. So here are the key learning’s:

  • Always, always, always check Aeroplan’s portal before booking a hotel. If where you want to stay at is listed on the website, you will get 4 miles for every dollar spent on your hotel booking. It’s genius and trust me when those miles add up and you have enough to apply it to your future travel bookings, you’ll thank me.
  • Book a room with a separate living space or an extra bedroom. Ok, so I know this may not entirely be realistic for everyone. but having traveled with a baby in one room with us and having a separate space for her to sleep during naps and at night is a game changer. This trip was the first time since Maxwell was a newborn that we all shared the same room and it did affect our sleep quality and I am sure hers as well. Having a separate space for parents once the baby is asleep also allows you to have some adult time watching movies or chatting over a glass or two of wine.
  • Whether it’s on purpose or by accident (like me forgetting our Bugaboo), travel as lean as possible. When looking at hotel options, it’s always a good idea to check to see what they can provide or have on site for babies and toddlers such as; strollers, bath amenities, toys, bottle warmers and sterilizers, so you can avoid having to lug a ton of unncessary extra stuff.
  • Rent a car. Don’t limit yourself from exploring the city you are in because you aren’t mobile. Depending on what city you’re in, especially in the United States, Uber drivers won’t take you if your child is not in a car seat. Having your own set of wheels and renting a car seat can definitely makes it easier and more convenient to get around.
ALL PHOTOS FROM THIS POST WAS SHOT ON MY IPHONE XS

So what’s next for us…? Well, you know we can’t stay put in one place for very long. We are heading to another sunny destination in early January but you will have to wait and follow along to find out where. A place we’ve both been to before on our own but never together as a family and the home of Maxie’s favourite musical artist. Yes I know, she’s only 15 months but she is obsessed with reggae music. Booking our January trip in full on the new American Express AeroplanPlus Gold Card scored us a ton of new miles, so who knows, there may be more travel adventures happening early next year.

December is the perfect time to set your wanderlust goals for the new year. Now that there’s are even more ways to earn and redeem your miles as an Aeroplan Member,  you can quickly make your travel dreams a reality.

This post is in partnership with Aeroplan however all views and opinions are my own!

Huggies Holiday Giveaway for New Moms

It’s December so that means I’m in a festive mood. My perspective during the holidays has changed dramatically, and this year I am way more focused on giving than getting. Since I got pregnant and had Maxwell almost a year and a half ago, I gained a whole new demographic of followers than I was used to of moms and moms-to-be.  I have connected with so many of you and over the last 15 months you all have watched along as I figured out this thing called motherhood and supported me every single step of the way.

It’s now my turn to give back and give a little something to one lucky follower who is expecting or a new mama. I know many moms say the first month was a blur, but I remember every single detail of every single moment and I remember making the decision to choose Huggies as the diaper and wipes brand I was going to use for my baby like it was just yesterday. For you first time mamas, it’s kind of impossible to really know which diaper is going to be the best for your baby when you don’t even have a baby to test the diapers out on. So, I am going to give you a helping hand by gifting some of our favourite Huggies products that got us through the last year and a half to help make that diaper decision a bit easier and get you started.

Maxwell has worn Huggies Little Snugglers since the day she was born. When you welcome your baby into the world, you want them to have the best on their brand-new skin, and the Little Snugglers diaper is designed to emulate a hug and keep your newborn’s perfect skin clean and healthy. The Huggies Little Snugglers newborn diapers have an umbilical cord cut out that is the best thing ever to help baby belly buttons heal quickly,  and the Huggies diapers’ gentle absorb liner creates the most cushiony layer between your kiddos tush and the mess. I also have Maxwell’s nursery fully stocked with Huggies Natural Care Wipes and our diaper bags and my handbags always have a Clutch N’ Clean pack for messes on the go. It’s the brand’s simplest formula ever and is gentle on even the most delicate skin because it’s made with aloe and Vitamin E.

This is a special time, so I want to add in something sentimental for the occasion. When I was expecting I received tons of books for Max, so I am including her current favourite, The Hug Machine, to add to your bub’s collection, plus, a Hug Plan to help you prepare for baby’s arrival and Little Snugglers diapers and Natural Care Wipes...enough to get you started at least. For the mama, the gift of relaxation with a one hour prenatal massage at Spa My Blends Clarins at the Ritz Carlton in Toronto, plus a few other surprises because every mom needs a little pampering.

To be eligible and enter to win:

  1. Like and comment on my most recent Huggies post on Instagram (linked here)
  2. Tag friends who are expecting or new mamas for BONUS entries but be sure you tag each in a separate comment.
  3. You MUST live in the Greater Toronto Area

Contest closes Thursday, December 20th, at 9pm EST and the winner will be announced on my IG stories. In the meantime, to learn more about Huggies or to find a diaper and wipes to fit your baby’s needs visit www.huggies.com/en-ca/

This post is in partnership with Huggies Canada for however all opinions are my own

The One Diaper You Need From Newborn to Toddler

So much has changed in the last 14 months and there have been plenty of transitions. Clothing, sleep cycles and moving from pureed to big girl foods. I feel as though Maxwell went from crawling to full on running in the blink of an eye. Time is moving way too quickly I’m afraid and I am doing my best to savour every single second. There has been one thing that has remained constant since day one. Huggies Little Snugglers and Natural Care Wipes.

Making a decision on the right diaper for your baby is an interesting one because you make that choice usually long before your bundle of joy arrives. I did a lot of research online and turned to my friends who have babies to help me decide, because who better to turn to than your mama tribe, right? My mom also used Huggies with us growing up so I knew it was a brand I could trust.

Let’s face it, every choice you make for your child is an important one but I place diapers and wipes super high on the list simply because they will be in contact with your baby’s skin all day, every single day for years. If you’re an expectant mother, what makes Little Snugglers so amazing for newborns is the GentleAbsorb® Liner that’s made up of these teeny tiny soft pillows that provides a cushiony layer between your kiddo’s skin and the mess. I actually have memories from my childhood watching my mother fold down the top of the diaper when she was changing my brother in an effort to protect his healing belly button but today, Little Snugglers brilliantly integrated an umbilical cord cut out to help facilitate the healing. And trust me, it may not seem like a lot but it means one less thing for a new mom to think about. Our midwives were blown away at how well (and quick may I add) Maxwell’s belly button healed and I credit that to her diapers.

We love the wetness indicator. So helpful when we were new parents and today, it’s so useful when we’re traveling as a family. It remains yellow when the diaper is dry and turns blue when it becomes soiled.
Seems like just yesterday Maxie was in newborn Huggies Little Snugglers. I have kept one diaper from each stage from newborn to size four and look back at how small she used to be.

Over a year later and here we are. One super active baby with a giant personality, who gives me a run for my money every single day. She’s moving, like NON-STOP, so we really rely on her diaper’s pocketed waistband to keep messes trapped inside where they belong while she plays, dances and runs circles around this place. The wetness indicator strip gives me the heads up when it’s time for a diaper change. No need for the sniff test my mom used to do on us, which is the best when we are out and about or traveling. And not only are they functional, they are really darn cute too with adorable Disney and Winnie the Pooh designs.

So here’s the thing about me, I get really attached to products that that work well for me and my family. The brilliant thing about Huggies Little Snugglers is that they come in a wide range of sizes that has transitioned so well with Max from day one until now. There’s no reason to switch diapers (or brands) after every single growth stage. Instead, Huggies will be with our family for years to come.

To learn more about Huggies or to find a diaper and wipes to fit your baby’s needs, visit www.huggies.com/en-ca/

This post has been created in partnership with Huggies for monetary compensation and/or product. However all views and opinions are my own!

 

The Glow Up at Hillcrest

Shopping used to be my number one favourite pastime. That is, until Maxwell came into the picture. I know some mamas love passing the time there with their hub but the thought of fighting for one of two designated family parking spots, struggling to find somewhere to breastfeed or warm up a bottle and don’t get me started on changing diaper full of poo in a busy washroom with no privacy. Yeah, no thank you!

I had been hearing rumours about a mall mecca for mommies that promises to make the shopping experience with a baby on board not only manageable and actually convenient. I was intrigued. So much so, I was willing to compromise Max’s nap schedule to make the trek 35 minutes outside of the city to Richmond Hill to see this with my own eyes. Quite a few of you mamas that happen to live in the area have told me after seeing my IG stories that Hillcrest has been around for an eternity and had no idea about this major renovation they recently went through. Guys, the glow up is REAL! This project includes a refresh of both interior/exterior with a whole new north wing, tons of new retailers and yes some very much needed conveniences for the whole family, specifically mommy shoppers.

West Coast Kids - So Sasha
West Coast Kids has a gigantic section for baby accessories and the Bugaboo shop in shop is the perfect place to find your dream stroller. Love this updated version of the Buggaboo Bee.

West Coast Kids Hillcrest - So Sasha

Wondering if Hillcrest should be destination for your next family shopping haul? Here’s the lowdown on how it measures up based on our experience:

Location. If you live Newmarket, Markham, Thornhill or Richmond Hill, this is basically a stone’s throw away for you and I am a bit jealous of your proximity. For you downtown folk that consider anything north of Bloor St unchartered territory, if you’re are located close to one of the major highway arteries in the city, the drive to Hillcrest can be surprisingly easy as it’s a straight shot up the 404 north. Your best bet is to strategically plan to travel outside of high traffic times. I left the city around 10:20am and comfortably made it there at 11am. We left to head back to the city around 3pm (and yes we actually stayed that long) and missed most of the afternoon traffic. It isn’t located close to the highway exit and is about a 9-minute drive for the DVP still once you exit so in rush hour it could add on to your transit time.

Parking. SO. MUCH. FAMILY. PARKING. I was actually really impressed. Where you normally see anywhere from 1-4 spots allocated for family designated parking total. Hillcrest is setting the bar damn high with several…and I mean several at each of their main entrances.

Hillcrest - So Sasha

Hillcrest - So Sasha

Hillcrest - So Sasha

Shopping Experience/Retailers. Hillcrest doesn’t claim to be anything they are not so if you’re looking for solely high end shopping across the board, this is not the place for you. However, if you’re looking for a collection of retailers to appease the everyday shopping needs for everyone in your family, you will not be disappointed. They have the all the regular mall retailers everyone knows and loves; The Gap, H&M, Mendocino, Hudson’s Bay, SportChek, Aldo, Old Navy, Aritzia, Sephora and Indigo (opening here soon) but I think people will want to go for the stores they can’t find just anywhere like SportingLife, Miniso – a really cool Japanese specialty store that I’ve never seen before, Okaïdi, West Coast Kids and their newly opened HomeSense/Marshalls. I am always looking for decor items for the house and can never go wrong with that store. The HomeSense at Hillcrest is actually incredible. So is Marshalls. Kid you not, I spent over an hour in there picking up stuff for Max and other miscellaneous stuff that I have convinced Réjean we absolutely need. Do you remember Maxwell in this unicorn suit from my stories? I don’t know if it’s for Halloween or for everyday wear but she looked irresistible in it. If she wanted to wear just that every single day, I would totally let her.

HillcrestGlowUp - So Sasha

HillcrestGlowUp - So Sasha

HillcrestGlowUp - So Sasha

HillcrestGlowUp - So Sasha
French kiddie brand Okaïdi has a European vibe, great quality and amazing price points

I spent the rest of my time powering shopping. I passed through Artizia like a Tornado and copped a super cute skirt and classic tee that I plan to wear next week to an event with Maxwell. There was a quick stop in at Sephora to quickly stock up on some Tatcha products and I was even able to find some great pieces to create a couple fall looks for Réj at SportingLife before dedicating the rest of my time to all things baby.

HillcrestGlowUp - So Sasha
Just 1/4 of the West Coast Kids location at Hillcrest. It truly is your one-stop shop for all things baby and kids with the best collections and unique products

West Coast Kids

West Coast Kids - So Sasha

West Coast Kids Hillcrest - So Sasha

West Coast Kids Hillcrest - So Sasha

West Coast Kids - So Sasha
Love, Love, LOVE these books especially the ones specific to Toronto!

We also found a super cool store named Okaïdi. It’s a French brand that has recently landed here in Canada, with only a couple locations to date. The baby girl collection is quite adorable and super affordable so Maxie got to take home some new outerwear and dresses to take her through the season. The newborn and baby collections remind me of clothing that I found in boutiques when we were in Barcelona but the prices are more aligned with Zara Kids and H&M. But truthfully friends, the mall’s piéce de resistance is West Coast Kids. I think there is one other location, but it pales in comparison to the one you will find at Hillcrest. Hands down the best and largest collection of merchandise for kiddos from newborn to teens. Every square inch of the of the space has speciality items ranging from books and apparel inspired by our city of Toronto, super fun accessories, high end outerwear – Mackage parka’s for toddlers if you can believe, tees inspired by hip hop, the cutest footwear to keep your mini in style through all of Canada’s seasons, the coolest strollers and nursery items that will have you rethinking your decorating choices. I wanted everything in the store for Max. EVERYTHING. And tried to justify she needed it all too, plus a new nursery LOL. I did exercise some restraint and left with a couple of cute dresses, some new books for her reading collection and the YYZ sweatshirt you guys have seen her rocking on my stories from Canadian brand Posh & Cozy.

HillcrestGlowUp- So Sasha

West Coast KIds - So Sasha

Hillcrest - So Sasha

Hillcrest - So Sasha

West Coast Kids - So Sasha

Food. You will find the regular food court restos here and even a Panera Bread location, however it’s not actually connected to the mall. There are some tasty speciality spots like Uncle Tetsu’s for those who are obsessed with the Japanese cheesecakes that people line up for year round at the downtown location, Bake Code and Chatime (hello, my fave!) for the bubble tea aficionados. After all the cardio I did shopping for hours my last stop of the day was actually at Chatime for a Mango bubble tea and a matcha croissant – and yes both were they are insanely delish.

Hillcrest - So Sasha

Mommy/Family Amenities. The extra family designated parking spots are one thing but Hillcrest really knocked it out of park with some of the extra conveniences they thought of for families. The mall is actually all one level so it makes navigating with a stroller and young toddlers simple. Both men’s and women’s washrooms have baby change stations so the dad’s need not worry when they venture to this alone with the kids. For the mamas who are still breastfeeding, you’re going to love this…they have a nursing room so you can feed your bub quietly in private and wait for it, the Guest Experience Kiosk offers complimentary diaper kits plus baby bottle warming. It’s located a bit away from where the nursing room and washrooms, but it’s nice to not have to run around a food court asking for milk to be heated. I actually used the service when we were finished shopping so Max could have a bottle for the ride back home.

Hillcrest - So Sasha

HILLCREST FINAL ROUNDUP

Was it worth the drive to Hillcrest? Yes. Would I return to shop? 100%. I’m already planning our next visit and will probably do it with a few girlfriends and their kids. I am in need of a little refresh on our holiday décor so that is the perfect excuse to go back and the Homesense there is bound to have everything I need. Plus, there are loads of things I still want to get for Maxie at Okaïdi and West Coast Kids.

Intrigued? Head over to HillcrestMall.ca for all the details on the renovation, new store openings, promos, and upcoming events.

This post is in formal partnership with Hillcrest for either monetary compensation or product however all opinions are my own.

Baby Skincare Routine: Eczema Edition

So here’s the low down for so those of you that had questions and concerns around infant eczema. Maxwell, just like most newborn babies, was born with perfect skin. A few weeks into life outside the womb she got the normal peeling skin most babies experience that I had seen before on other kids. When she was around three months old though I started to notice some changes to skin that looked like eczema. Let me just tell you, the amount of eczema I found on her probably didn’t warrant the complete breakdown and doctor’s appointment but after seeing my nephew suffering from painful, itching skin issues, I was adamant Max was not going to have the same fate.

The troubleshooting began almost immediately. Thankfully, the collection of eczema patches were mainly on her back, especially the area where the waistband of her diapers hit her skin and a tiny bit on her face around the eyes. But come on, it’s my kid and I don’t care if the skin irritation is minor, I didn’t want her to have any skin irritations at all. The doctor said we should monitor it and if it continues to worsen, we could always try a steroid cream. That to me, was not an option. So I did a skincare elimination diet. Stopped using all the  baby skincare products I had been using on her. Changed her laundry detergent and even replaced her formula. Living in a condo without the best air circulation and super dry heat probably wasn’t not helping our cause either. After not seeing much change, I decided to try out some A-Derma Exomega products that were passed along to me that I had heard were pretty amazing for extra dry or atopy prone skin. By this time it was winter and in an effort to not further dry out Maxie’s skin, I would only give her a full bath every other day. When I did,  I would add two capfuls of Exomega Control Soothing Bath to the water and started using the Emollient Cleansing Gel directly on her skin with a washcloth. I think applying a moisturizer to skin right away as soon as I took her out helped a lot. I would apply their Emollient Balm combined with some lavender oil as I was putting on her diaper. It has an extra rich texture and turned out to be just what her skin needed to keep it moisturized. We finally started to see some improvement after a month and to be honest, I couldn’t really telly you exactly when all the patchiness disappeared. They just seemed to fade away but I would say maybe two or three months tops. Seeing as though the first two products I tried worked so well and we were getting closer to spring, I swapped the Emollient Balm for the cream version. PRO TIP: We do a lot of swimming, Maxie really loves the water and I know the chlorine can wreak havoc on skin that’s prone to dryness, so after swims, I do try to still apply the emollient balm.

Photos by David A. Pike

Probably the best thing about these products are that their all natural and fragrance free which means they are completely safe to use on babies from day one but all the A-Derma products can also be used on kids and adults too. I am actually using the shower oil and the balm on myself. I will admit, that because the skin irritations we experienced early on has been completely cleared up, we do sometimes use other products during her bath time routine but the A-Derma products still remain as the core of Maxie’s skincare routine. You can find A-Derma products nationwide in Shoppers Drug Mart (who actually has the line on super sale right now), London Drugs, and Jean Coutu locations in addition to Amazon.ca.

The Power of Human Touch For Babies After The Newborn Stage

Since becoming a Huggies Ambassador a year ago, I have become slightly obsessed with discovering the benefits of skin-to-skin and the power of human touch for babies. Huggies actually has some great resources and information on their No Baby Unhugged website above and beyond product info and it’s where I’ve found useful White Paper documents like “The Power of Human Touch for Babies whitepaper and I know it’s legit because they are done in conjunction with the CAPHC (Canadian Association of Paedeiatric Health Centres). I honestly just find the whole topic fascinating and I’ve incorporated it as much as possible over the last year at home as Maxie gets older. In my experience touch at 1 years old has been just as important as it was when she was a newborn.

Ok mamas (to-be and new mamas), I have some information that is going to legit BLOW YOUR MIND. Our babies benefit from the power of our touch way before they are even born.  Research has shown that as early as 8 weeks after conception, a fetus is able to respond to the sensation of touch in utero. I know, crazy right! And guess what? There’s also some amazing benefits of touch for babies past the utero and newborn stages. There are different types of touch; from skin-to-skin, kangaroo care, facilitating tucking (make sure to Google this!), holding/rocking and infant massage. All these have beneficial effects that are actually supported by science. Pain relief, physiological stability, sleep, crying, both infant and parent mental health and increased breastfeeding rates are some of the reasons why I have been such a huge advocate. In the below chart, the ✔ indicates that there is a sufficient amount of research and evidence to claim it’s beneficial. An empty box means it’s neither harmful nor helpful and a question mark simply means there is not enough findings to say whether it has an effect.:

Findings from CAPHC document on The Power of Human Touch for Babies

For some reason most of the messaging on the benefits on touch tends to be around skin-to-skin and focused towards mothers with newborns, while other other forms of touch when babies get older are less frequently shared.  I’ve talked quite a bit about skin-to-skin and hugging during my pregnancy, early on in my motherhood journey and in my recent “Global Hug Your Kid Day” post here on the blog when she was just my teeny tiny newborn, but Maxwell is approaching her 1st birthday and there are still things we do together at home to incorporate touch as much as possible because of the powerful effect it has on her physical (how her body grows), emotional (her mental health), behavioural (how she will control and manage her own behaviour) and social development (interaction with others).

Infant Massage (IM)

If Maxie could talk, I am certain she would tell you this is her most favourite form of touch…selfishly of course. Adults LOVE massages so why would it be any different for a baby? Maxie had her first bath when she was 7 days old and with the help of my doula, I learned  how to ease Max into her first bathing experience and how beneficial IM can be for babies.

It has been apart of our bath time/nighttime routine ever since. It is the time of day I savour the most. That intoxicatingly yummy baby smell after her bath and the way she looks into my eyes while I rub her down is THE cutest thing ever. Perfect way for a parent to bond with baby. It’s super beneficial for sleep in full term babies and can also aid in digestion. I like to rub her down with a bit of lavender essential oil during the massage, which has a calming effect and perfect for sleep, with a carrier oil right after I put her diaper on. Gentle massage along the jawline and cheeks has also helped a ton for her teething pain.

Kangaroo Care (KC)/Baby Wearing

Yes, I am still very much wearing Maxie in a carrier thanks to the encouragement of my midwives and clinical findings outlined here. We have a handful of wraps and carriers that allow me to have Maxwell directly on my body. When we are at home, this form of touch is always done with her in a diaper only and I usually remove my shirt and bra.

Photography by Jess Baumung

I also wear her this way outside of the house. KC (Kangaroo Care) I find is a bit more challenging during the summer months with the heat which means Max is less likely to stay in there for long periods of time, but she does love it and I can tell she feels a sense of security against my chest. I know some of you will probably ask how long I keep her in the wrap when I wear her but to be honest, I just go by her energy and vibes. When she looks like she’s ready to come out, I take it off.

Skin-to-Skin (SCC)

I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that we still occasionally do skin-to-skin. I really don’t think there’s a disadvantage to doing it this late in the game but I think most just stop after the first few months. During the first three months we did SCC as much as possible but now that she’s much older, I reserve this for when she is sick or feeling under the weather/uncomfortable from teething as it’s known to help with pain relief and crying. I am unsure of the effectiveness at her age but to be honest, it certainly is comforting…for the both of us and my parenting ethos is “do things that feel good”.

To learn more about Huggies and the benefits of skin-to-skin hugs, visit www.nobabyunhugged.huggies.ca

This post has been created in partnership with Huggies for monetary compensation and/or product. however all views and opinions are my own!

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