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The Answer To All Your Last Minute Holiday Shopping Needs

The idea of going into the final week before Christmas without one gift being purchased yet would cause most folks insane anxiety. Rightfully so, if you expect to be picking up all the gifts on your list from *gasp* the MALL! I have learned from years of unnecessary panicking that last minute mall shopping is not the way to go if you want to enjoy the holidays without getting high blood pressure by December 24th. My motto has simply become this…No mall. No lines. No stress. It’s really just that simple and it means I get to chill and actually enjoy the holidays.

 

There are a handful of online retailers that I rely on during this time of the year, but I swear, Best Buy is the move for last minute shoppers. Why? Their “Reserve + Pick-Up” service is the ultimate destination for all the tech-obsessed people on your list, even the youngest ones. It’s actually brilliant and so incredibly efficient. A couple of days ago I reserved some items online and seriously within 20 minutes, I had received a confirmation notifying me that they were not only set aside at the store but also ready to be picked up at the Best Buy location closest to my house.

I got a chance to test out the service earlier this week when I ordered a special little pre-holiday surprise for my little girl that was delivered to our home by a Best Buy Blue Shirt employee. I partnered with Best Buy to add an extra-special step to this already awesome service – even though this is a service they don’t offer, we had the opportunity to have the gift delivered to our home by a Best Buy Blue Shirt employee to capture the full-effect of the surprise. It was actually really cute. We cruised the website until she found something that made her squeal and giggle. Not surprisingly, it was the Spin Master Zoomer Playful Pup. A bit of a mature toy for her but the kid is obsessed with dogs and a toy robot dog that can roll over, bark and answer to commands is the coolest gift ever, so I could never say no.

Reserve + Pick-Up is available all the way until December 24th, so Best Buy has you covered down to the wire. Just find the items you want, click the “Reserve in Store” icon and choose a location nearest you for pickup. An email confirmation is sent shortly after notifying you that everything is good to go for pick-up and will be kept on hold for you to pick up within 24 hours.

Ok guys, its probably time to stop reading about how to shop stress free this season. Let’s get you actually shopping and crossing items of your gift giving list right now by heading to BestBuy.ca.

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

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!

How To Make The Most of Your Summer Road Trip With An Infant

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.

Buick Enclave Avenir - So Sasha

Buick Enclave Avenir - So Sasha

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.

Buick Enclave Avenir - So Sasha

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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!

    Buick Enclave Avenir - So Sasha
    Video by Shawn Pinnock & Images by Jess Baumung
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

    Rear View Mirror Camera on the 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir
  7. 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

The Ultimate Guide For Flying With An Infant

Traveling can induce anxiety but throw a baby into the mix, and it takes it to a whole new level. I was a hot mess a week before we left for Spain, trying to convince myself that packing up Maxwell’s entire room was a logical idea. Thank god I had two good friends who advised me it wasn’t and made me ditch half the items I planned on bringing along. And you know what? It all worked out just fine. We are so over this cold here in Toronto, we actually just booked our next family vacation to Mexico for my birthday and Mother’s Day. Here’s a few tips for infant travel I learned when Maxie was a newborn that will be sure to help you when you’re ready to take your first adventure with your baby.

HOW AND WHAT TO PACK

Babies don’t really need as much as we think they do so don’t even think about paying extra to pack an additional suitcase for them. Everything should be able to fit in you and your partner’s suitcases and carry on; you just need to be strategic. To make sure all the babies belongings stay clean and uncontaminated, I suggest roll fold everything and put them into zip lock bags. These bags also can come in handy for the trip back home for any items that get soiled with spit up or poop.

Huggies Mom Ambassador

Huggies Mom Ambassador

Huggies Mom Ambassador

Huggies Little Snugglers

When it comes to diapers and wipes, just like any other mum I am attached to a particular brand. Max has been wearing Huggies Little Snugglers since she was born and on a 9-hour flight to Barcelona and long days of sight seeing, these diapers provided extra protection that gave us the confidence we needed as new parents traveling as a family of three for the first time. While changes may be less frequent during travel, it’s important to have a diaper that provides a gentle layer between your baby’s skin and the mess. When your baby is still in the stages of poo explosions, Huggies Little Snugglers pocketed waistband and proven leak lock system helps to keep messes inside where they belong. While in transit though, it’s the wetness indicator that was the real MVP. There was no guessing game when it came figuring out if Maxie needed to be changed. The minute she got a bit fussy, we immediately checked the diaper’s wetness indicator for the blue line and made a beeline to the bathroom to change her.

Huggies Little Snugglers

As an infant, babies can go through approximately 12 diapers a day and to be honest, they can take up a considerable amount of room in your luggage. We packed the daily amount of diapers plus a travel pack of Huggies Natural Care wipes inside our carry-on luggage, just in case we got delayed or something and an additional 12 with another travel pack of wipes in our checked baggage for the return flight back. We stayed in an AirB&B in Barça so we actually shipped a pack of Max’s Snugglers down to the owner of the property so they were waiting upon our arrival. I know this is not realistic in every situation. You can also always check ahead of time to see if the diapers you use are sold in the city you are traveling to so you can buy them there.

Here’s a Sample Packing List For You To Use As a Guide

Carry-On Luggage

Checked Luggage

12 Huggies Snugglers Diapers 12 Huggies Snugglers Diapers & 8 Little Swimmers
Huggies Natural Care Wipes Travel Pack Huggies Natural Care Wipes Travel Pack
Extra Sleeper/Onesie 1 Bathing Suit
Swaddle Blanket Swaddle Blanket
Sweater Towel and 2 Wash Clothes
Toy and/or Teething Ring Baby Bath Wash, Lotion & Sunscreen
Infant Pain Reliever for Fever and Pain 3 Long Sleeve Onesies & 7 Short Sleeve Onesies
Pureéd Food and a Snack (6+ months) 3 Pairs of Pants
Baby Carrier or wrap 3 Dresses (if the baby is over 3 mths)
Fleece Blanket 3 Pairs of socks and 1-2 Shoes
Diaper Change Pad Sun hat & Sunglasses
Anti-Bacterial Gel Books for Story Time (age dependent)
Breast Pump (if you’re pumping) Sleep Sack & Stuffie
Formula & 1 Bottle (if you’re not breastfeeding) 2 Bibs Per Day of Travel
2 Bibs *Sound Machine & Baby Monitor for Sleep
Crib Sheet

Huggies Little Snugglers

Navigating Through the Airport and Getting Through Security

While most airports have a separate security for those traveling with young children, I still advise to arrive a bit early to avoid any unnecessary stress. To be honest, we have been whisked through separate security when we’ve had Maxwell in tow and it’s like traveling VIP style so I no longer get stressed about her getting fussy waiting in line ups. There’s always the dilemma amongst new parents in regards to whether or not to check the stroller when traveling. We choose to gate check ours instead of checking it in with our luggage for convenience. If this is the route you go, just ensure to bring along a stroller that can fold down in one piece. Trust me! If your stroller has to be broken down into two separate pieces, you run the risk of something going missing while in transit. Some people fear that their stroller may get damaged if it’s gate checked but I would much prefer to know I have the stroller with me and available as soon as we deplane, than running the chance of it getting lost or delayed. It also makes getting around the airport until boarding time easier. That being said, it will have to go through the X-Ray machine when you go through security. Our goal is always to travel lean, with as little as possible. If a car seat isn’t going to be necessary during your travels, leave it at home. Renting a car seat at your destination is the best way to go if you’re going to need it.

The last time we traveled I was breastfeeding exclusively but Max is now eating solids, drinking pumped milk and formula. Regulations that limit the amount of liquids you can bring through do not apply to breast milk or formula. Let the TSA Agents know you have breastmilk, and be careful of packing gel coolers they aren’t allowed through. A great suggestion that we were given is to pack your breastmilk in frozen peas for security when you travel. Don’t let them send your breastmilk through the x-ray machine.

Boarding and In-Flight

Boarding: Most airlines let families who are traveling with young kids board first, but this is a courtesy not a right. Check with the agent beforehand to let them know you are traveling with a young child and when you should board. As nice as it sounds to get situated early before everyone else gets on and not standing in line behind all the other passengers, once you are on that plane you don’t have anywhere to hide or much room to move around if they decide to start screaming. The best option is if you are traveling with your partner, have them go on early with your bags and get a seat, and then you can meet them on closer to take off.

Seat Selection: A baby under the age of 2 doesn’t require a seat, which means they travel for free – yay!  We plan to travel as much as we can during this time. However, this means your little one will have to be in your arms or wrapped to you throughout the flight if you choose not to purchase an extra seat. A useful tip when booking your flight and selecting your seats, if you’re choosing two seats in a row of three, select the two end seats leaving the middle one empty. Chances are, if it’s not a full flight, nobody is going to willfully choose to sit in between two people, which will leave the middle seat empty. Huge win. On our flight down to Barcelona, we were seated in a bulk head row so I was able to request a Baby Bassinet (or Sky Cot). This was brilliant. A bassinet is secured to the wall panel for babies under 8 months in front of you so they can sleep peacefully and parents can rest, eat and drink with extra leg room. I also elected Réjean to be the designated diaper changer during the flight so I made sure he was the one sitting in the aisle seat.

Feeding: You can relieve pressure on your baby’s ears during takeoff and landing by feeding feeding them. It worked for us like a charm. However, I also advise that you have a bottle on hand as they may reject the boob on the plane. I don’t know why but it happens and I’ve heard it from plenty of other mom’s. I like to also book our flights during Maxie’s nap time so feeding during takeoff means she usually falls asleep shortly after.

Consider The Season

Before flying with your newborn or infant make sure to consider the season. You might want to avoid taking a young baby on a plane during flu season. If you must take them on a plane, bring sanitizer wipes to clean the hand rest and other areas around the seat that the baby will put their mouth on… because we all know babies will touch everything and somehow it will end up in their mouth!

If you’re headed somewhere warm, make sure to bring along a sun hat, child safe sunscreen, baby sunglasses to protect their eyes from the sun and swimming diapers for the pool or beach – we have been using  Huggies Little Swimmers for Max’s pool and beach time.

Don’t Be Afraid

Don’t be afraid of anything. If you need help, especially if you’re a mama traveling alone…ask a flight attendant for assistance. Also, forget the fear of what other passengers will say if your baby cries or gets fussy. You will always have your one grumpy passenger who is incredulous that babies cry and angry that it is ruining his business trip. Ignore him. Babies cry, and many people on the flight are parents and grandparents and they understand. So before you go apologizing to everyone on the plane, relax and don’t let a crying baby stop you from future travel!

Photography by Jess Baumung

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

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

5 Easy Ways to Prevent Diaper Rash

As a mother (new or seasoned veteran) we do whatever we can to keep our littles happy and healthy by any means necessary. The idea of our child being in any discomfort disturbs mom’s so much that we often find ourselves seeking out preventative measures for common conditions amongst babies in hopes we never have to encounter them. Funny enough, just when you think all the bases are covered, you can be hit with a little unexpected surprise leading you to spend countless hours reading comment boards and researching online.

We have been pretty lucky with Maxwell so far. I had worried a bit after she started sleeping through the night that being in the same diaper for 12 hours could cause some issues but we have been free and clear. No major concerns or issues however early on we saw the early signs of skin irritation in between her bum one day during a diaper change. My baby’s skin was nearly flawless, so to see this colour of crimson down there literally freaked me out. Terrified she was in any kind of discomfort and to be honest, worried it would soon turn into full blown diaper rash. My mother laughed when I called her on the verge of a diaper rash induced breakdown and quickly assured me that it’s a common condition that can be cleared up within a week once I incorporate a few extra steps into our diapering routine.

So, you’re probably thinking, “what are the causes of diaper rash and how do we prevent it?”  With newborns extra sensitive skin, special care needs be taken to ensure that the area stays as dry as possible and moisture down there is a major culprit. It’s also common amongst babies between the ages of 9-12 months when their bowel movements start to change due to the introduction of solid foods. However, allergic reactions to soap and laundry detergent are not to be overlooked. In order to determine the cause of Maxie’s irritation, I immediately changed her laundry detergent and only used olive oil on her skin until the redness cleared up completely. Once it disappeared, I was able to re-introduce products like gentle wipes. We love using Huggies Natural Care wipes because they are safe for baby’s sensitive skin. They are made with 99% water and filtered 3 times, so we don’t have to worry about putting it on her skin. They are also hypoallergenic, fragrance and alcohol free, with the healing properties of both aloe and vitamin E.

Following these ABCDE’s of diapering can help you prevent diaper rash on your bub’s bum:

Air:

  • Diaper-free time once a day was one of the best thing’s I could have done for Maxie early on and we continue to do it until this day. I typically like to let her air dry in the morning when she is well rested and fed for at least 5 minutes. I find when she is cranky she doesn’t like to lay around without clothes on.
  • I’ve also started having her spend this time inside her activity play centre where the colours and hanging toys keep her preoccupied, allowing her to kick around sans nappies for an extra 5-10 minutes which works wonders.
  • If you have a newborn, chances are you have no time for a blow-out, but you can always use your blow-dryer on a cool, low setting to help expedite the drying process if there is no time for a diaper-free session.

Barrier:

  • Adding a barrier between the diaper and urine (or stool) until the irritation heals is something my doula recommended quite early on. We opted for EVOO (extra virgin olive oil). It’s natural and literally found in everyone’s kitchen pantry. I know some mother’s use zinc-oxide diaper cream or petroleum jelly and have had great success with those too.
  • I applied it during every diaper change during her flare-up but now only use it at nighttime or when I think she may be in her diaper a bit longer than usual (i.e. a long car ride or during travel).
  • Cornstarch powder. Baby powder is apparently a no-no these days as they have been proven to be harmful to baby’s skin and lungs, however cornstarch powder is still widely used amongst mother’s, myself included. I put a bit of this powder on the infected area (I also use it in her neck folds where moisture builds up from sweat, saliva and milk residue) 2-3 times a day. Pro Tip – always put cornstarch powder onto your own hands first and then apply on baby’s skin to avoid powder dust getting into the air and your baby’s lungs.

Cleanse:

  • How you clean the area is extremely important. Always wipe gently and pat dry when tackling this area as rubbing can cause extra irritation. When Maxwell was a newborn, we found that putting her bottom under warm running water then using  Huggies Natural Care Wipes was the best way to clean after a bowel movement.

Diaper:

  • Your baby’s diaper is one of the most important elements to this prevention equation. There has been so many advances in protection technology in disposable diapers that choosing Huggies Little Snugglers for Maxwell was a no brainer. They’re designed to feel like a hug and let your baby’s skin breathe, so it helps protect their delicate skin.

Education:

  • Paying attention to your baby’s patterns is one of the first things my midwives told me after giving birth and it applies to everything – even skin health. Take note of how and when your bub gets any skin irritation down there and if you find it continues or worsens, talk to your pediatrician or health care provider.

To help you find the right diapers and wipes for your baby, visit https://www.huggies.com/en-ca/diapers.

This post has been sponsored by Huggies, however all views and opinions are my own!

How To Safely Use hydraSense for Infant Nasal Congestion

Becoming a mother means you will pretty much be wearing your heart on the outside of your body for the rest of your life. You will worry constantly about your child. You just can’t help it even if you tried. It’s an innate quality I think women have that is embedded in our DNA. It’s even worse when you are a first time mother desperately trying to learn the ropes of a new role that can be considered the toughest job on earth.

HydraSense for Babies

HydraSense for Babies

Hydrasense for babies

Maxwell has just turned five months and the learnings are endless. Just when you think you have mastered one thing and settled into a groove there is a sudden plot twist and you are back to square one. One of the most surprising discoveries came very early on just days after having Max. She had terrible nasal congestion that made it challenging for her to eat during her first week and putting her to lay down to sleep was nearly impossible. She screamed her head off, especially at night typically when anything gets worse. As new parents by the second night we were so panic stricken we rushed her to the emergency room. I remember the looks on the triage nurses faces as if to say, “We have another overreacting new mother over here thinking her newborn is dying” accompanied by an exaggerated eye roll. Seven hours later and we were told all was fine and that babies just have a lot of mucus post delivery because in the womb they are surrounded by fluid. Fast forward to today, we are still experiencing some nasal congestion to be quite honest and I think at this point it from a combination of a couple things. One, we live in a condo where air circulation and dryness can be much worse than inside a house. Two, the winter months don’t help either as the heating inside makes our place extremely dry. Plus, I am convinced that she is beginning the teething process, which can also create some congestion in the nasal passage.

Hyrasense - So Sasha

After Maxwell’s three month check-up I began using HydraSense products to help with her moderate nasal congestion as recommended by her doctor. We love that it’s a 100% natural source with seawater with more than 70 marine trace elements. They are actually the #1 nasal saline solution brand here in Canada for children and contains no medications, additives or preservatives – making it the #1 choice for Canadian mamas. Combined with our Dyson humidifier that we have set up in our room not far from her bassinet, we have seen quite a significant difference with Max’s mucus levels.

At home we apply HydraSense’s Ultra Gentle Mist twice daily During her morning wipe down and again during her bedtime routine. The nighttime application is critical because she is generally more stuffier at night and the last thing I want is for her sleep to be interrupted because of a congested nose while we are sleep training her. The bottle may  appear  large and what you would expect for an adult product but the tip is ultra soft and specially designed for use in the nostrils of infants.

Hydrasense

Hydrasense

hydrasense

To administer the spray, I put her on her back and turn her head to one side and press down on the applicator for 1-2 seconds in the upper nostril. I repeat the process on the other side and generally wait about a minute or so as she sometimes sneezes everything out. If not, I then use a nasal aspirator to remove any mucus debris still obstructing the nasal passage. The HydraSense Nasal Aspirator Kit is perfect to use during those times where there is stubborn mucus that has hardened inside your baby’s nose. It was at the top of my packing list when I was preparing for our trip to Barcelona in December and I even keep a vial or two in the diaper bag in case I need to clean her nose on the go. It comes with hydraSense EasyDose vials and the nasal aspirator has a tube with a mouthpiece and a hygienic filter that allows you to gently suck out any mucus while also prohibiting it from passing through the inhalation tube. Prior to using the aspirator, it’s best to apply 1-2 drops from the EasyDose vial into each nostril (make sure to not re-use a vial after it’s been opened). Then insert the aspirator into entrance of the nose and inhale through the mouthpiece to gently remove the mucus as needed. Once finished, I gently lift her up to allow any remaining mucus to drain out on it’s own. The final step; soak a tissue or cotton ball with hydraSense and wipe around the nose. Max has gotten so accustomed to this routine that I can even sometimes get a giggle out of her when we are use the aspirator.

Hydrasense

Hydrasense
Photography by Jess Baumung

Check out hydrasense.ca for more information on hydraSense products. To make sure this product is suitable for your baby, always read the instructions and follow the label. If your child’s symptoms persist, please contact your healthcare provider.

This post was created in partnership with hydraSense for monetary compensation and/or product however all views and opinions are my own.

Huggies No Baby Unhugged Initiative – The Power of Hugs

Children are considered to be a miracle and every day I count my blessings for giving birth to a healthy baby girl. That being said, there are so many Canadian families that are not as fortunate. Sometimes extenuating circumstances, like a newborn baby having to enter the NICU, can prevent a mama from giving her bub all the hugs they so desperately need when they first come out of the womb. This past summer, I watched a friend share her and her husband’s experience dealing with their son in the NICU. For weeks on end they commuted to the hospital a few times a day so she could breastfeed and they would go home at night. Repeating the cycle until their son was finally released. Six weeks later as I watched this all unfold on their IG accounts, the sound of my heart breaking was almost audible. I cannot even fathom the pain they felt. Pregnant during this time, I couldn’t imagine giving birth to Maxwell and not being able to have her at home with us during the first month. This made me wonder how NICU babies get the extra TLC in the form of hugs and cuddles at the hospital, when their parents aren’t there?

No Baby Unhugged - So Sasha
Photography by Nathalia Allen

Not too long before I had Maxie, I discovered Huggies had created the No Baby Unhugged initiative which includes a volunteer hugging program that has been introduced into three Canadian hospitals over the past three years – Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket, ON, Cape Breton Regional Hospital in Sydney, NS and Victoria General Hospital in Victoria, BC.  The program was started to help ensure that all babies get the hugs they desperately need – even when mom’s and dad’s can’t be there. Heart warming and very necessary, I am sure you will agree.  As part of Huggies continued commitment to the No Baby Unhugged, the brand has recently announced their latest volunteer hugging program launch at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital in BC.

The newly launched program will have three dedicated volunteers available for eligible pediatrics infants and will be on hand to cuddle, rock and sing to newborns for extended periods of time. I kid you not, this has to be one of the best jobs in the world and I am patiently waiting for a local Toronto hospital to launch the program so I can get involved in some way. If this wasn’t enough already, Huggies has also come through with an additional $25k to help promote the importance of skin-to-skin and hugging by supplying the hospital with volunteer training, positioning devices, rocking chairs and more.

Want to get on board to help this amazing initiative? Simply pledge your support on nobabyunhugged.ca. By registering on the website, you’ll receive a free package Huggies Little Snugglers and Natural Care Wipes as a token of thanks and in return, they will also donate $5 to hugging programs in Canada. Let’s help spread awareness for this amazing program. Please check out this Facebook video from Huggies Canada. The brand will be donating $1 for every re-share.

This post was created in partnership with Huggies Canada for monetary compensation and/or product, however all views and opinions are my own.

Our First Family Vacation to Barcelona

Some of my favourite memories as a child are from my travels with my family. My mother had us on a plane traveling all over the world before the age of one. By the time I was 10, I had more stamps in my passport than someone three times my age. Being exposed to different cultures, food and language helped to make me the rounded individual I am today. I knew very early on, if I was lucky enough to have a child, I would do the same thing for them.

I’ve been an Aeroplan member since 2003. For years I had only been accumulating miles through booked airline travel and gas purchase. What a rookie mistake! When I was pregnant with Maxie I discovered there are endless opportunities to earn more miles to help get me one step closer to my goal – taking my family on our first vacation abroad.  If you were following my pregnancy earlier on this year, you may remember my nursery tour which was brought to life by purchases from Aeroplan’s retail partners on their eStore.  An online hub where you an shop from so many of your favourite retailers and earn miles on all your purchases. Believe it or not, I actually earned miles on all the big purchases and decor items for Maxie’s room. As an added bonus, we racked up extra miles over the last two years on groceries, date night dinners and just about everything in between using Réjean’s TD Aeroplan Visa Card.

The Destination – Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona with Aeroplan

Choosing a destination for our first family trip was no easy feat. With wanderlust permeating through my veins ever since I had to stop traveling after 34 weeks pregnant, I was overwhelmed by the endless possibilities of destinations we had to choose from. A wise person once told me, “A vacation with a baby is not a vacation. It’s a change of scenery!” Hearing that deterred me from a beach vacay this time around, knowing that I wouldn’t able to spend countless hours on the beach in a half induced piña colada coma. I decided that this would be a great opportunity to visit a city in Europe neither one of us had traveled to before. While most new parents think about a potential language barrier, time changes and travel time being an issue; we made that the least of our worries. We only wanted to make sure our destination had a great ‘walk-score’ because we wanted to explore the area mostly by foot. After much deliberation, we finally decided on Barcelona, Spain. It’s a baby friendly European city known for their food, art, historical sites and shopping. The winter time, although mild, is considered low season for this tourist friendly city, so traveling during December meant we were able to avoid crowds and line-ups while sightseeing.

Barcelona with Aeroplan

Barcelona with Aeroplan

La Pedrera Cafe

How We Traveled – Life As A New Family of Three

Traveling with a newborn for the first time is one of the most nerve wracking things I’ve ever experienced. I was stressed throughout the entire planning process but my anxiety reached a whole new level about a week from our departure. Questions like; “Will I be that person who has a baby that screams and cries during the flight?”. “Should we bring a car seat along?“. “Is our stroller going to be suitable for travel?“. “What about her diapers? Should we bring them along or purchase when we arrive?”. “Can we travel with pre-pumped breastmilk?” “Will the restaurants we want to go to be child and stroller friendly?”. I am telling you, the list of questions were endless and at one point I got so overwhelmed, I wanted to cry and cancel the whole thing. Thankfully, my circle of savvy traveling friends with kids got me to settle down and ensured me that everything would be alright. Our game plan was to travel as lean as possible. Pack only the essentials and anything else we felt we absolutely needed, we would just get it while we were there. I’m thinking about doing a separate post where I share what worked and didn’t in regards to traveling with Maxie, in hopes to give other new mums the confidence to board a plane early with their littles.

Barcelona with Aeroplan

Barcelona With Aeroplan

Barcelona with Aeroplan
Barcelona Cathedral – Gothic Quarter

Barcelona with Aeroplan

Barcelona with Aeroplan
Casa Batillo – designed by Antoni Gaudi at night

Cable car ride up to Parc Montujïc

Olympic Stadium – 1992 Games
Park Montjuic Magic Fountain
Park Montjuïc Magic Fountain
La Boquiera Market of La Rambla. Home to tons of food stalls with fresh seafood, meat, fruit, veggies, spices and candies all made locally

Barcelona with Aeroplan

Our Barça Accommodations in Dreta D’Eixample

Barcelona with Aeroplan

Without a doubt, we knew that the only way this trip was going to happen was if we stayed in an AirB&B. Having an apartment that gave us access to some of the things we have at home; laundry, kitchen etc just made me feel more comfortable. We were even able to query for properties that are “baby/child friendly”, and those properties were willing to provide a crib upon request. Plus, Euro hotel rooms are notoriously small and claustrophobic, so the AirB&B option gave us the space we needed. The challenging part was determine which area of the city to stay in. If we were traveling sans baby, I would have wanted to stay in the Gothic Quarter or El Borne but the amount of noise and foot traffic late at night was a slight concern. Consequently, we chose to stay in the Dreta d’Eixample (Right Extension) area, which was recommended by my dear friend Diala. The neighbourhood is home to Barcelona’s high end shopping streets, wide open plaza and footpaths, tons of Gaudi’s work and popular areas like Passieg de Gràcia, Casa Mila and Casa Calvet. We couldn’t have chosen a better hood to call home for the week. Personally, I would recommend the area to anyone and actually have to a couple friends and followers looking to travel there in the new year. Clean, trendy, easy access to taxis/public transportation plus close to amazing restaurants, galleries and some of the best shopping Barcelona has to offer – all within walking distance may I add. Here’s a sneak peek inside our humble abode on a quiet side street called Carrer de Diptacio in Dreta d’Eixample:

Barcelona with Aeroplan

Barcelona with Aeroplan

Barcelona with Aeroplan

What To See & Do in Barcelona With a Baby (or Without)

I truly thought eight days in Barça would be more than enough, leaving us with a couple days off just to rest but turns out, we actually ran out of time and didn’t get to cross everything off our list. When I put a request out for Barcelona recommendations on my IG stories before we left, we received an outpour of messages of every nook and cranny we should explore. After day one we quickly realized that having Maxwell along with us was not going to cramp our style at all. There are babies EVERYWHERE in Barça. I’m pretty sure 1 in 3 adult pedestrians were pushing a stroller. And that’s not all. In North America, we have a tendency to say our lives revolve around our kids schedule but in Europe it is the other way around. They believe their lifestyle should not have to change just because you have children. So it is very typical to see parents with young babies dining at restaurants past 10pm, shopping on Passieg de Gràcia late on a weekday evening and hitting up art galleries and museums. We decided to follow suit and take Maxwell to the Gothic Quarter, La Rambla, Parc Montjucïc, countless museums, galleries, rests etc and she did a lot of her napping on the go. This easy going lifestyle meant that almost everywhere was stroller accessible and baby friendly, so we never felt like we were missing out on anything while we were there. However, there are a lot of stairs in this city for some reason at a couple of historic sites so if you’re traveling with a baby, you may want to think about bringing a baby carrier.

Barcelona with Aeroplan

Flax and Kale Barcelona

Barcelona with Aeroplan

Flax & Kale – seriously look at all the colours in their food

Barcelona with Aeroplan

Barcelona with Aeroplan

Barcelona with Aeroplan
Gothic Quarter – 8:30am

Barcelona with Aeroplan

Barcelona with Aeroplan
Photos shot by myself and Olya Lisova

Must See

  • Gothic Quarter – You cannot go to Barça and miss this historic area so full of character. The narrow streets, the Barcelona Cathedral, tiny shops, cafes and museums, it is one of the most popular spots in the city. That being said, if you are looking to take photos, you better make sure you have an early start before the tourists all come flocking in around 9/10am.
  • Arc de Triomf
  • La Boquiera Market – I was obsessed with this marche and went three times during our visit. Arguably the best market in the world with rows upon rows of controlled stalls selling everything from the tastiest meats, seafood, chocolates, candies, seasonings, fruit, veggies, fresh juices and the infamous jamón in a cone – all locally made.
  • Christopher Columbus Monument
  • La Ramblas – a 1.2km pedestrian street lined with restaurants, cafes and shops starting at Plaça de Catalunya and ending at Christopher Columbus Monument at Port Vell.
  • The Sagrada Familia – The largest Roman Catholic Church in the world designed by famous Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi. If you decide go, make sure to book your tickets advance and show up on time as they are strict. Also, the rooftop views are spectacular and worth the extra $.
  • Parc Güell – an expansive park composed of gardens and architectural elements created and designed by Antoni Gaudi. Built between 1900 and 1914, the park was officially open to the public 26 years later. In 1984, it was declared a World Heritage Site under “Works of Antoni Gaudi”.
  • Picasso Museum 
  • Parc Montjuïc – home to the 1992 Olympic Games in addition to museums, art galleries, Poble Espanyol (artisans’ village), and The ‘Magic Fountain’ that famously has a spectacular light show at night. You can get to Montjuïc by taxi, foot if your fit and adventurous, which Maxie and I attempted during a cab strike. Not easy as the hills are quite steep or by the cable car, our mode of transport on our second attempt to the top.
  • Passeig de Gràcia – One of the major avenues and known for the best shopping in Barcelona. Also, has some of Barcelona’s most celebrated pieces of architecture; such as Casa Baillo and Casa Milá (La Pedrera).

Where to Eat & Drink

  • 7 Portes – arguably has the best paella in the city. Cool trivia, this spot opened back in 1836 and got its name from the seven doors that leads into the restaurant. Pablo Picasso also used to eat here in his day.
  • Firebug  – Just on the outskirts of Eixample, we stumbled on this spot on our very last night and was not disappointed. A small space that serves large size tapas and sharing plates that are so delicious not matter how full you are, you will be hard pressed to order more. Plus the drinks are amazing, even the virgin cocktails.
  • Flax & Kale – perfect for lunch and brunch. The superfood bowl and cold pressed juices I would recommend but pancakes and pasta dishes are also fantastic.
  • Bar del Pla
  • Gallito
  • The Green Spot
  • El National – Ok, so this may be somewhat of a tourist spot and located just off Passieg de Gràcia but the set-up is pretty cool and something you should experience once. It appears to look like a flea market from the outside but once you’re through the doors you step inside a large gallery space that contains 4 bars and 4 restaurants comprising a very unique gastronomical Barcelona experience.
  • The W Hotel – Even if you’re not staying at this hotel during your time in the city, you MUST eat and drink in one of their restaurants. The property is located on the beach and the views are phenomenal.
  • Granja Petitbo
  • Bar Cañete
  • EL Passatge del Mur Muri – One of the best squid paella’s I’ve ever had in my life. The restaurant doesn’t open until after 8pm for dinner but the hotel also has a cozy lobby bar with great drinks and you can also order the full dinner menu from there if 8pm is too late for your dinner start time.

With the new year just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about what destination you would like to check off your bucket list next. Whatever your travel plans are, with Aeroplan you can get there. Pro Tip #1: Think outside the box when it comes to earning your miles. As an Aeroplan member you can accumulate miles on hotel stays, car rentals, retail purchases, insurance, banking (credit cards), even online when you shop your favourite retailers like Sephora, Apple, Indigo, Hudson’s Bay, and so much more on the eStore. Need help devising a plan on how to make your travel dreams a reality? Tell Aeroplan what your plan is for your miles. Pro Tip #2:  Tell Aeroplan what your plan is for your miles and they will help you get there. All you have to do is enter a few details pertaining to your goals here and you will be provided with a detailed plan.

I couldn’t think of a more better way to close out such a big year for us than this trip to Spain. I am so proud that we are exposing Maxwell to travel at such an early age and I do hope that she adopts our love of seeing the world. Thank you Aeroplan for being apart of this very special moment. I am already planning our next #TravelWithMaxie adventure. In the meantime, stay tuned for a forthcoming post with tips on how to travel stress free with your baby!

This post is sponsored by Aeroplan however all views and opinions are my own.

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