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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.

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

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 Algonquin Road Trip Adventure with Buick

One very important and reoccurring discussion Réjean and I had when I was pregnant was around how we could maintain our lifestyle and continue to do the things we love like explore and travel as new parents. As much as we love our new role as mum and dad, we are still who we are as people and that shouldn’t stop just because we have a little one. With Maxwell more adjusted to traveling in the car, more specifically her car seat, we were finally ready to take on a short road trip last month. Now, Réjean being from a small town in eastern Canada, he loves being up north out of the city and has been begging me to go camping for as long as I can remember. As for me, I couldn’t be more of a city girl and my idea of camping is literally staying at a hotel without 5 star amenities. We truly couldn’t be more different in that sense but we promised each other we would take turns on choosing our family adventures and after a game of rock, paper, scissors; Réj won the right to choose the first one. And I am kinda glad he did because we had a ball and laughed our butts off the entire time.

So Algonquin bound we were with a newborn and probably way more camping equipment than we probably needed. I thought if I was going to try this camping thing out, I want to have everything on hand to make it a legit experience. But just let me be clear… instead of jumping into my camping experience two feet at a time, I decided it was best to just dip my proverbial big toe in first. With it nearing the end of November, a baby on board and me not knowing how I was going to handle the remote wilderness, it made sense to keep the trip short and sweet, LOL. I was pumped though. Not only was it our first family road trip. It was also the first time we did a long(ish) journey in our Buick Envision and I don’t feel like a vehicle really becomes part of you and your family until you’ve done a road trip in it.

The greatest part of a road trip isn’t arriving at your destination. It’s the memories you make along the way with the ones you love!”

Buick Envision

Now just to show you how little I know about camping, I had assumed that you just sort of roll up to a campsite and basically set up wherever you like but apparently it’s not much different than booking a hotel stay. This I didn’t discover until the day before we were set to leave. Large Provincial parks and sites like Algonquin Park, you are usually required to either book online or via phone for a camp plot on your lake of choice (and yes, there are multiple lakes to choose from). Your choice is based on whether you would like electricity or not, access to showers, car access or if you are REALLY into the outdoors; a walk-in site. The latter is where you have to hike for miles to the interior to set up shop. Yup, no thanks…I prefer to be on the perimeter where I still have access to cell reception. I imagine that availability could be tough during the summer high season. After October, all of Algonquin’s parks are closed for the season, with the exception of Mew Lake, which can be used for both day and overnight camping. Lucky for us, not many people wanted to be out there in 11 degrees so we basically had the site to ourselves minus another couple and a gentleman who clearly looked like it was not their first time to the rodeo.

Whenever I venture far north into cottage country, I always fear that I will get lost somehow, but, this time getting there was the least of my worries. Our Buick Envision is equipped with OnStar and it was a great opportunity to test out the service and request turn-by-turn directions directly to the car at the touch of a button. Accessible via the infotainment system home menu or the small blue button located on the rear view mirror, OnStar is literally acts as a safety net, providing drivers with access to a live advisor who can provide assistance for just about anything, around the clock. In our case – directions to Algonquin’s Mew Lake, so we could worry less about missing a turn and just take in the beautiful scenery around us. The best part, seeing as though we skipped town on a workday, I was able to check emails and get some work done, while Réjean was behind the wheel thanks to OnStar’s 4G LTE wifi hotspot.

Buick Envision - So Sasha Buick Envision - So Sasha

So you’re probably wondering what does one pack for a day camping trip with a three month old baby right? We literally brought as much equipment as the car could fit, which turned out to be quite a lot of stuff. For a crossover SUV, the trunk has considerable cargo space. My friend and photographer Jess came along on the journey too and he had ample space in the backseat to relax and keep Maxie entertained on the drive. I am still amazed at how the Buick was able to design a mid-size crossover with the interior of a full-size SUV. The extra room in the backseat also came in handy as it was converted into a nursing and changing station for the baby throughout the day. I ran the car to keep it warm and toasty for her during these breaks.

I turned to MEC (basically a camping and outdoor MECCA) for all of the family’s needs from apparel, sleeping solutions and even cooking supplies. I know this sounds quite extra for a day trip but you just never know. Trying anything new with a baby can cause some anxiety so getting everything we needed under one roof made life so much easier. We bundled up in layers – sweaters and lightweight vests underneath our down Patagonia jackets that kept us surprisingly warm. We wore thermal tights as a base layer underneath wind breaking pants that were also waterproof in case of rain, which it did not thank God! Maxie was in this snowsuit the entire time, with the exception of on the drive to and from. I know some of you were worried about Max being out there in the cold but funny enough, she was the warmest out of the four of us the entire day.

Buick Envision Buick Envision - So Sasha Buick Envision Buick Envision - So Sasha

What We’re Wearing:

On Me: Women’s Patagonia Jacket  // Women’s Sandbagger Pants // Women’s Salomon Hiking Boots // Unisex MEC Glide XC Mitts // ClimaHeat Tights // Soft Wool Toque (sold out) similar here

On Réjean: Unisex MEC Glide XC Mitts // Men’s Osolo Backpacking Boots // Men’s Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket // MEC Cragalot Backpack

After obtaining our park permit and getting our plot assigned by the site attendant we decided it was best to start setting up the tent right away in case Maxie and I wanted to take a nap in there. One of the reasons why camping intimidated me so much in the past was because I always thought it would be such a chore to pitch a tent. I doubt I would have been able to do it without Réjean but it really wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. We used the MEC Cabin 4 Tent. It’s super spacious and has plenty of head room, so we didn’t have to crouch to get in and out, plus we were able to stand up to make changing our clothes easier. It sleeps four comfortably and has double doors allowing us to roll up one, so we could have a nice view of the lake. Our Mallard -5 Sleeping Bags were designed specifically for the weather conditions of November and were insulated with 650 duck down fill – #CozyAF!

Buick Envision - So Sasha Buick Envision - So Sasha Buick Envision - So Sasha Buick Envision Buick Envision - So Sasha Buick Envision

I know it must look like we nailed this trip but if you happened to be following along on my IG stories, you would know that there were a couple mishaps along the way. But hey, it made for some very entertaining moments to say the least. I definitely was not going to be eating tuna out of a can during my first camping trip so we prepped a large container of vegetables with olive oil and seasoning to go along with fish and steak we planned to grill at the site for lunch and dinner. I went up there smug and very impressed with myself remembering to scoop up a cooking grill when getting our MEC Camp Together Cooler but once we decided to get a fire going we realized with had no lighter, no gas tank or lighter fluid for the grill to get things going. Hands down the BIGGEST fail. Réjean literally had to purchase firewood, steal some flames from a neighbouring site and run back to our plot with burning firewood in his hands (as I followed and creepily documented it for Instagram stories of course!) A whole two hours later and we finally got a pit going enough to cook all our food.  The result. Slightly overcooked as it was hard to gauge cooking time over an open flame but having the meat and fish wrapped in foil paper somehow kept it moist. No word of a lie, it just as good as any BBQ steak I’ve ever had.

Buick Envision - So Sasha

These MEC Delux Camping Chairs were awesome. Comes with a built-in bottle opener, a cup holder that deploys when you need it and even comes with a pillow that can be adjusted to provide extra neck or back support

Very different from my type of adventure for sure but it was kind of nice being up there, away from the craziness of the city. Even the air smelled cleaner somehow. The campground actually prohibits music because sound travels so easily up there. Annoying at first because I had plans on using the car’s wifi to listen to the Spotify playlist I created specifically for the trip but in the end I was happy we couldn’t. It was just so peaceful and forced us to actually talk and connect – something that hasn’t been happening a lot lately due to our crazy busy schedules. Max was a total angel and made camping with a newborn easy for this mama bear. Clearly she won’t remember any of this but I am just so happy that we are able to do these things as a family and document it all so when she’s older she can look back at how much she did so early on in her life. My hope is that these experiences will set the foundation for a well rounded, well traveled little girl who will forever be curious, wanting to learn more about life.

Buick Envision
Photography by Jess Baumung

SHOP OUR FAVE CAMPING CLOTHING GEAR

Interested in learning more about our spacious crossover? Head over to www.Buick.ca for more information.
This post was created in partnership with Buick Canada. All opinions and views are my own.

Tips & Tricks for New Moms On The Go

Whether you’re a first-time mom like me or a someone who has been blessed to be a mother more than once, I am sure you can all agree that EVERYONE thinks they are an expert when it comes to parenting. I have never in my life received more advice from friends and strangers alike until I gave birth to Maxwell. While some has been solicited, the majority has been unsolicited and I can’t say that it all works for us because let’s be honest, every baby is different. But as Maxwell and I near the end of what I like to call the “fourth trimester” I feel like I am slowly starting to get into my groove and things are feeling less chaotic. So many of you that follow me on social media have been super supportive and your “You’ve got this!” messages and comments really helped me on the days I wanted to throw in the towel. So, here’s the deal…I have taken some tips from my inner circle and have developed some of my own along the way during the last three months that has helped me navigate this new world of motherhood. Having a newborn by no means makes me an expert either but I wanted to share a few things that has worked so far with us and has kept both mama and baby happy and healthy.

Supplements for Newborns

Giving your bub supplements can significantly help ensure that they get what they need for healthy development. We have been giving Maxie a probiotic formulated for babies in addition to vitamin D3 drops since the day she was born. While probiotics are helpful to maintain balanced gut flora in your little one and to help with tummy troubles, vitamin D3 drops help their bodies absorb and use calcium plus phosphorus for strong bones and teeth.

At home we use PediaVit Vitamin D3 Drops for Maxwell and love it. It contains no sugar/sweeteners, corn, starch, gluten, wheat, yeast, artificial flavours or preservatives. PediaVit Vitamin D3 Drops also come in a gravity bottle specifically designed to release the appropriate dose of 400 IU (10 mcg) every single time, which is just one drop. This makes things super easy as there is no measuring. And as fussy as babies can be in regards to administering pretty much anything into their mouth that’s not breastmilk or formula, the drop can easily be taken during their feeding by placing it on your breast (or bottle) nipple and they don’t notice a thing!

Diaper Bag Prep Like A Boss

So here’s the thing, in the first of couple weeks I got so accustomed to just staying inside with my little squish, not having to worry about having to prepare for the outside world, that I felt extremely overwhelmed when it was time for us to leave the house. I have a few diaper bag options and of course had all the necessary items that I would need on the go however I just got so stressed out trying to leave the house. It takes so much longer to get two people ready. I worried that I may leave something important behind. But the absolute worst part was that by the time I thought I got all our things together so we could leave the house, she would want to eat again which would be followed by another diaper/clothing change. I kid you not, the first handful of times it took me over two hours to leave and once I got so fed up I just decided it wasn’t worth going anymore.

But now all is good and we can be out of the house in an hour or less which seemed impossible just a few weeks ago. For the expecting mom’s – here’s how you can make this process a bit more seamless:

  1. Start Small. Instead of packing up for a whole day out on the town, try just going for a long walk or a trip to the local coffee shop. This requires much less for you to have  on hand. Once you have nailed the short outings, then you will have the confidence for longer ones.
  2. Pack The Night Before. This is a gamechanger and saved my life. It totally eliminates the stress of accidentally forgetting something important. I had actually left the house twice without extra diapers and a change of clothes earlier on and just take a guess who had a poo explosion. When you’re not rushed to be anywhere you can take your time which significantly lowers your stress level.
  3. Keep Separate Bags From Your Partner. Sounds selfish but trust me, it’s worth it. I had to learn the hard way. Réjean would often take my bag and when it was time for me to use it, I would open it up to find that he had not replaced the diapers he used or worse, I would find a soiled diaper hidden in there from when he was out and didn’t have a place to dispose of it. Not cool!
  4. Do Weekly Inventory Checks. Babies grow FAST. If you like to keep extra changes of clothes in the bag, make sure to take look at the onesies and pants in there. You would be surprised, not swapping out these items for just two weeks can leave you stranded with clothes that no longer fit if you’re out and need to change your kid.
  5. Simplify Bottle Making On-The-Go. If you are exclusive formula feeding your bub or use it occasionally for supplemental feedings, find one of those pre-portioned formula containers so you can easily make bottles on the go.

Swaddle for Non-Swaddlers

Some babies love to be swaddled and some HATE it. There are so many benefits to swaddling your child, and I was very keen to find any way to promote sleep because this mama needed her sleep too. But Maxie hated it. There was something about her arms being held down that drove her nuts. Apparently she’s not the only one. So many babies prefer to sleep with their hands up that there are now swaddle/sleep sacks that allow you to swaddle your baby with their hands up in their favourite position making them more comfortable at night which promotes sleep.

Car Travel Without Meltdowns

It is not uncommon for babies to have a meltdown when they are put in the car. I have assumed it has to do with the car seat as babies generally love motion. I knew Max would have to go with me to work and I wanted her accustomed to the car seat as soon as possible. We are now at the point where she is either so relaxed she’s sleeping or cooing away in the back.

photography by Elaine Fancy
  • What I would do is put her in the car seat at home for short periods of time, even if we had no plans of going anywhere. Started with 5 minutes, then 10 and then worked our way up to 15 minutes without crying.
  • A fed and changed baby will be able to tolerate a car ride much better than a hungry one with a soiled diaper. Try to time your departure so that your baby has already been fed and changed before leaving. Also, important to note the way babies are positioned in car seats actually promotes bowel movements. It took me a bit to figure it out but she would have massive poo explosions by the time we reached our destination on several occasions. Having them in the car seat earlier before leaving and then taking them out to help get those bowels moving is also a great idea…so hopefully you both can avoid any diaper disasters while on the road
  • We never put Maxwell into the car if she is crying. The meltdown will only increase once she’s in there and feels restricted by the car seat. I like to put the car seat bucket into her stroller and walk her around the condo or push the stroller back and forth gently. That motion tends to settle her down and by the time we get her wheeled to the car, she is good to go!
  • During the car ride we play soothing music or no music at all and little accessories like a mirror over her car seat also helps to keep her entertained. What can I say, the kid loves to look at herself and can do so for hours.

The learning curve with a newborn is steep and each week there are learnings as we discover new tricks. Products like PediaVit take the guess work out of keeping our littles healthy and happy. To learn more about Vitamin D3 Drops and the rest of their supplement family head to PediaVit.ca Make sure this product is right for your baby. Always read and follow label instructions.

Stay tuned for more of my newborn and baby tips and tricks by following the hashtag #YouveGotThis

This post was sponsored by PediaVit but all opinions are my own!

The BabyTime Show Presented by Babies R’ Us Nov. 10-12th

My knowledge of babies and giving birth was definitely not where it needed to be when I found out I was having Maxwell. To be honest, I didn’t even know how many centimetres I had to be dilated to give birth until I was almost at the end of my pregnancy. A fact that I am not proud of. So you can only imagine how little I knew about what’s hot and trending in the baby world. Since becoming a mom, I have been relying heavily on friends and the other mom’s in the IG community to help put me on to all the things I needed to get me through the initial stages of motherhood.

For those first time mom’s and dazed & confused dad’s, “The BabyTime Show” is the perfect place for you to discover the amazing products out there for prenatal, babies and tiny tots all under one roof. Presented by Babies R’ Us, the show lands in Toronto on November 10-12th and will feature more than 200 exhibitors showcasing new and innovative products. My girl and ET Canada Host Cheryl Hickey will also be on hand as a guest speaker with other experts, the Healthy Mom’s Fall Marketplace will be set up focusing on eco-friendly products for those families that are into living a green lifestyle and a “Mommy and Me” pre/post natal yoga session, plus much more. And if you’re not expecting and have already gone through the newborn and baby phase, there is still tons for you too. Kids can meet their favourite Paw Patrol and Hachimal friends, sing and dance on the Toddler Time Stage with Bob the Builder and crawling babies can enter the Diaper Derby for a chance to win prizes.

Those attending the show will have different things they are interested in learning more about and I am certain some may discover something new for themselves or their little one that they didn’t even know existed. For me, the show will be about finding products and services that will help make my life easier as a very busy mom on-the-go.

We all have our own feeding preferences for our bubs and there is no right or wrong way. My decision has been to breast feed, even though I had great difficulties with it in the beginning. Continuing to work and still wanting to feed her breast milk means that I have had to acquire an adequate breast pump. Making that step was important so I can  pump out a substantial amount of milk to help Max get by while I am away at meetings and shoots. I had a manual hand pump for light expressing early on to relieve myself of breast engorgement or to pump small amounts of milk but I have just upgraded to the new Sonata by Medela who just happens to be one of the show’s exhibitors. This double electric pump is smart, quiet and SUPER responsive. The personalization features is what had originally piqued my interest. The Sonata (now available in Canada) connects to the MyMedela app, so I can do real-time tracking of Maxwell’s growth, my pumping sessions and access to tons of evidence based lactation info all on my personalized pumping dashboard. Went a little crazy with the accessories but we figured – go big or go home.

Shop My Fave Medela Products Here

 

And if it wasn’t for shows like this, I would have never discovered other great products like Sleepbelta hands free skin-to-skin system. Maxie and I LOVE it and it’s made right here in Canada. It’s the perfect thing for the 4th trimester to help make your baby feel safe and secure outside the womb during those first few months. Not only does it create a comfy place for your bub to sleep skin-to-skin (0-3 months), but as they get older, the Sleepbelt can be used forward facing while the baby sits on your lap (when baby has full head/neck control) and as a gentle chair support (when baby can sit unassisted).

The Baby Show + Sasha Exeter

JOIN ME FOR “MOMMY and ME” YOGA ON SATURDAY NOVEMBER 11TH

Maxie and I will be attending our very first yoga class together on the second day of the show, which will be lead by Laura Wood, Founder of & She Moves Yoga Studio. She will be sharing the importance of exercise during pre, during and post baby and lead the group through a gentle flow with our littles. Class is scheduled to take place before the doors open to the public on Saturday November 11th. Space is extremely limited and open on a first come, first serve basis and we hope to see you guys there. *Class participation allows for free attendance to the show that day.

The Baby Show + Sasha Exeter

The Baby Show + The Baby Show
Photos by Jess Baumung

The BabyTime Show Presented By Babies R’ Us at Metro Toronto Convention Centre, North Bldg. 225 Front St 

Dates & Times:          November 10-12th, 2017  from 10AM – 6PM

Cost:                            Parents/Friends ($17)   Grandparents ($10)    Children Under 10 FREE

Parking Available On Site

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