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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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:
Like and comment on my most recent Huggies post on Instagram (linked here)
Tag friends who are expecting or new mamas for BONUS entries but be sure you tag each in a separate comment.
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.cafor allthe 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.
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.
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.
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.:
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.
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.
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”.
Today is Global Hug Your Kid Day! I didn’t actually have a child last year, so this is my first time acknowledging the day. If you’re not already a parent, Hug Your Kid Day may sound a bit frivolous or silly. Maybe even compared to other social content calendar dates like “National Kissing Day” or “National Ice Cream Day” but I promise you this one has depth, meaning and great importance.
Do you guys remember that old poem that became widely popular in the nineties called, “The Hug“? I know I just really dated myself but in a nutshell, it shows just how much a hug can do. Here’s a little excerpt to jog your memory:
A hug can cheer you when you’re blue.
A hug can say, “I love you so,”
Or, “Gee, I hate to see you go.”
A hug is, “Welcome back again.”
And, “Great to see you! Where’ve you been?”
A hug can soothe a small childs pain,
and bring a rainbow after rain.
The hug! There’s just no doubt about it-
we scarcely could survive without it!
A hug delights and warms and charms.
It must be why God gave us arms.
The poem continues to go on but I really love the part that says hugs can soothe a small child’s pain. As a Huggies Ambassador, I have learned a great deal about the power of hugs and touch and how vital they are to a baby’s well-being. If you think about it, mother’s have been instinctively hugging their babies since the beginning of time and finally these benefits are now backed by science. Hugging our little ones from day one can affect healthy development and even who are children become later in life.
The oxytocin that is released in our bodies while we are in an embrace can 100% do magical things. I know during my own low points with my illness or in tough times, being hugged can immediately make me feel better and even safe, if that makes sense. Thanks to the oxytocin and seratonin that’s released in our bodies when we are embraced, hugs create calmness, tranquility and wellness – no matter the age.
Thanks to the recommendation from our friends at Huggies, Réjean and I were encouraged to create a hug plan while I was still pregnant and we shared it with our midwives and doula a couple months before my due date. The Huggies No Baby Unhugged website is such an amazing resource for parents-to-be and new moms and dads. All of the benefits of hugging can be found there in addition, to the Hug Plan template that was developed by medical experts along with the Huggies team. Straight out of the womb, we both did skin-to-skin with Max as per the plan and in the weeks following I did tons of Kangaroo Care with her only wearing her Huggies Little Snugglers against my bare skin.
Now I know I am a first time mum so I really don’t have much to compare it to but I would like to think that our commitment to hugs, touch and skin-to-skin has reaped many benefits. Anyone who has been following along on my journey in motherhood can attest that this little girl truly is a really happy baby. My healthcare providers also agree and believe that our hug moments have played an important role in reducing any newborn anxiety/stress, increased my success with breastfeeding, improved Max’s sleep from infancy, and just overall better health. Personally, I would also like to believe that the affection she shows us, in the form of her baby bear hugs and slobbery kisses, can be credited to the affection she has been receiving since day one. And I honestly cannot describe the joy I feel when she wraps her arms around me.
Celebrate Global Hug Your Kid Day by giving your mini a squeeze and if you’re expecting you can always give your belly an embrace because it’s never too early to start hugging. To learn more about the benefits of hugging your baby and to sign up for Huggies Rewards, visit NoBabyUnhugged.ca.
This post is in partnership with Huggies Canada as a Brand Ambassador in exchange for monetary compensation and/or product however all views and opinions are my own.
When I think of summer, BBQ’s, patio hangs, and ice cream immediately comes to mind. If you’re a Canadian, I think you may also agree that summer is also about road trips and going to the cottage. I’ve surely done my fair share of road trips over the years and they can be fun, with the right company and music (I can’t drive anywhere without XM Satellite radio now), but I think a lot of first time parents or families with young kids legitimately fear the potential of endless cries, screams and hearing the ever so famous phrase, “Are we there yet?” I sooooo get that traveling with little ones can be stressful but trust me, it really doesn’t have to be.
We’ve done a few trips in our Buick Enclave Avenir so far, albeit short ones, and you know what? The car has really been a game changer for extended driving. It has given us the confidence to take Maxwell on a cross country adventure to New Brunswick and P.E.I. this month. I know a lot of you guys are going to think we are nuts but it’s too late. We’ve committed and it’s happening. To be honest, we would have 100% traveled by plane if it wasn’t for the Enclave but I think having a car that makes us feel safe on the road, has tons of space and allows for wireless entertainment powered by 4G LTE wireless can actually make this experience enjoyable instead of stressful. There’s a full suite of technology that has our back while we are on the road. OnStar totally puts our mind at ease. We have roadside assistance, automatic crash response and emergency services right at the press of the blue button. If we are in a bind with reception service on our phones and need assistance with directions, we can always rely on the a representative sending turn by turn directions to the car.
A luxury crossover this large for a family of three plus a dog probably seems like a bit of overkill. We may not require passenger seating for 7 all the time, but we can most definitely utilize the rear for additional cargo space especially on road trips. We looooooove that we have options with the configuration back there. My go-to is using the power fold third row to turn the bench seat into a 60/40 split. Guys, it collapses the back seat in seconds and it makes it easy to accommodate our luggage, Maxie’s stroller, travel crib and even larger toys. One of our best road trip strategy’s that has been fail proof is always having one of us sitting in the back with the baby. I speak more about this in my road trip hacks below, but it helps that our middle row has extra large captain seats with SO. MUCH. LEG ROOM. It’s unreal! You kinda don’t feel like you’re missing out not riding shotgun.
And have you ever been trapped in a car for hours having to take turns charging wireless devices, not having adequate cup holders for the all the road trip bevies or feeling like you’re just drowning in stuff piling up around you…? As in the stuff that couldn’t all fit in the trunk! Well, there’s a spot to house everyone’s cup of coffee and baby bottles plus we can literally charge every single devise we bring along in the Enclave – all at the same damn time may I add. With access to 6 USB outlets and a 120V power outlet. The new spacious designs means there’s way more room for storage in the doors plus the new available compartment located conveniently under the middle console in the front row, where Réjean stores his stash of snacks.
This upcoming trip to New Brunswick will be the longest we’ve ever driven as a family, so I will loop back in with you guys and share the experience when we are back. If you’re considering hitting the road with your mini(s) this summer for the first time, here’s some tips to take note of that will actually make the experience fun:
Plan Frequent Breaks. I learned this one the hard way on our last drive to Montreal. We may be able to drive five or six hours without stopping to use the bathroom or eat, but babies cannot. I have discovered that for daytime driving I need to plan for stops ever 2-3 hours and when traveling at night, every 3-6 hours to do diaper changes, feed, stretch legs and change clothes if necessary. That being said, when you have an extra spacious vehicle like the Enclave, you can actually save time not going into a rest stop or restaurant by doing the quick changes and feeds in the parking lot.
Tag team. This is probably the most crucial – if you are not making the journey alone. While one of you is driving, the other should sit in the back with the baby. Believe me, it makes a world of a difference and that backseat caretaker can keep them occupied, prepare bottles, attend to spit-up, and play Peek-a-Boo like I have to do for Maxwell for hours (see below). It totally takes the stress of the driver too and can minimize stops. And when the baby sleeps, whoever is in the back better get some shut eye too!
Manage Your Expectations. Do yourself a favour and don’t expect that road trip to Montreal is going to take as long as it did when you were childless and single because that is just not realistic. There’s a number of things that can go wrong; inclement weather, teething pain, long weekend traffic or construction causing lane closures. Having a sense of humour about it all can ease the tension.
Keep All The Necessities Close By. You will probably want to pack everything and the kitchen sink on your road trip which is fine, especially when you have the room for it but you’re not going to want to pull over and rummage through your luggage every single time your baby needs something like a diaper change, snack or toy. These things are inevitable so it makes sense to pack these essentials in a smaller, easy to access bag in the backseat. Things like; a portable changing pad, wipes, diapers, infant Advil, an extra blanket, pre-portioned bottles of formula or breast milk in a cooler bag, a couple small toys should do the trick for your little one. Don’t forget to pack one for the adults too with chargers, iPads, high protein snacks, sleep-aids, eye masks and earphones.
Drive At Night. I wouldn’t normally suggest this if it’s just one parent doing the drive with kids tagging along but if you have a partner with you, driving at night is a really brilliant idea. Driving at night means your baby will spend much more time sleeping and less time crying, being hungry and wanting a diaper change. It’s not the most ideal switch for the driver because night driving can be difficult and more tiring but it’s marginally better than dealing with a screaming baby with no exit in sight. There’s some amazing features in our car that provides extra safety during night drives like Lane Keep Assist and Forward Collision Alert that keeps the car safely in the designated lane and warning you of a potential crash aheadBest the driver is probably caffeinated and pulls over to rest or switch drivers because safety is the most important thing. Your best bet is to have your partner pack up the car while the other does the baby’s bedtime routine but instead of putting the baby in their crib, you put them into their car seat.
Baby Massage. You know that stiff feeling we get in our legs and back when we have been sitting in a car for hours on end? Well babies can actually become uncomfortable too after sitting too long in her car seats. Infant massage works well on long drives so read up on some techniques and be sure the implement them during the ride or while at rest stops. I like to massage Maxie’s legs, feet and arms while when I am in the back with her and often times it calms her down and can actually put her to sleep.
Take Proper Precautions. I am nuts about double checking everything before going on a road trip – with or without infant. Our Buick Enclave makes it super simple for me to check the oil level and tire pressure throughout the trip on the auxiliary panel and when fuel is getting low, I can see exactly how many km’s I have until the tank is empty. Also, it’s super important when packing to not obstruct the driver’s view, especially the rear view mirror. Buick understands the need for extra safety and had the clever idea to create a rear view mirror that turns into a rear camera in those rare occasions where the trunk is packed full. It used to sound like a “nice-to-have” feature but after a few road trips I have discovered that it’s actually more of a “need-to-have” feature.
You can follow along on our upcoming cross country adventure on my social channels and I will be doing a little recap of the trip here on the blog. To learn more about Buick’s luxurious crossover, head over to Buick.ca
I have gone over thirty years knowing exactly how my body operates. It’s been a machine that has pretty much operated like clockwork. Until I got pregnant. Then shit hit the fan and my body became unpredictable overnight with one change and after another. Most unpleasant, if I can speak candidly. Post baby; things are still somewhat strange and unpredictable. Nine months later I still feel like I am renting out this shell I call for a body. Very few women speak about what they go through physically and emotionally postpartum, so I try to address the issues I experience here because I sure as hell know I am not the only one experiencing these things. Especially when it comes to issues relating to intimate health.
So the term intimate health sounds pretty vague if you ask me, so I am just going to avoid acting coy and get right to the point. The area “down there” or what I like to fondly refer to as the va-jay-jay, is an area that probably sees the most change in women postpartum and it all stems from the vagina’s pH level. Otherwise known as it’s acidity level. Yeast and bacteria play a major part in determining vagina health. Our bodies have limited resources so only so much bacteria and yeast can co-exist at any given time, sometimes causing them to compete. Ideally, for things to be running smoothly in that area the optimal vaginal pH should be anywhere around 3.5-4.5. This would indicate the perfect amount of good bacteria and no overgrowth of the bad kind, that can cause some irritation, odour or even infection. But there are so many factors that can affect this range and cause an elevated vaginal pH level like; pregnancy, intercourse, menstruation and even the use of tampons. Wipes, feminine washes and cleansers are probably the worst culprit because they usually mask the issue instead of treating or preventing them.
I personally noticed some changes after I started getting my period five months after having Maxwell and also noticed some mild symptoms after intercourse. I wouldn’t quite call it a yeast infection because there was no discharge but I definitely something a bit off down there, so that was the catalyst behind starting to do some research on the issue and figuring out how I was going to address it. I prefer to use natural remedies when possible and only turn to pharmaceutical medications when absolutely necessary. About a month and a half ago I started to test my vaginal pH with Hydrion test strips and decided it was time for me to find a solution address the mild va-jay-jay issues I was having. RepHresh Pro-B is a probiotic supplement made specifically for women. Just one capsule a day helps create healthy flora to balance unwanted yeast and bacteria. What makes it super effective is the two strains of beneficial bacterial it contains, called Lactobacillus, that helps keeps all the bad bacteria in check. And the best part, because it’s taken orally, it’s super convenient to use and doesn’t require refrigeration like most other probiotics. It can be taken at any point during the day but I like to stay in a routine with my supplements and prefer to take mine first thing in the morning before I start my day.
RepHresh Pro-B Probiotic is available now. I grab mine from my neighbourhood Shoppers Drug Mart for $37.99 but it can also be found at Wal-Mart and other retailers nationwide. Visit www.rephresh.ca to learn more about how you can keep your intimate health on point.
This post was created in partnership with RepHresh Pro-B Probiotic and Church & Dwight, however all views and opinions are my own.