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The Best Toddler Gift To Give This Holiday Season

I’m a mom to a very precocious toddler and at two years old, we have reached the point at home where stuffies have become less interesting; now, it’s all about toys and activities that engage her little developing mind. The toddler years are often a trial and error period for most parents when it comes to toys. We make impulse purchases at toy stores to keep them from having meltdowns, or they are gifted for birthdays or holidays only to get discarded after being used just a handful of times. For that very reason, I have taken a more pragmatic approach in our home, preferring toys that not only keep my daughter engaged for longer, but that have also been proven to help with children’s development, like LEGO Duplo.

For 50 years, LEGO Duplo has been introducing block sets to little builders with big imaginations. These colourful plastic bricks have become iconic, and for good reason. For starters, they connect like regular LEGO bricks, but the Duplo pieces are much easier to put together and pull apart—not to mention a lot safer for toddlers, as most kids this age are still putting everything into their mouths.

Duplo is not new to our household, but we had never tried their themed play sets, like the LEGO Duplo Frozen Ice Castle. Little fans of the film are going to love this special edition set, out now ahead of the sequel’s November 20th release date. We’ve spent countless hours building and adapting the infamous castle together with its accompanying accessories on our living room floor. Every time we put the last block up, Maxwell wants to tear it down and start all over again. I actually encourage this because each time we work on building the castle, she is essentially mastering elementary construction skills and developing fine motor capabilities as she assembles and re-positions the bricks. Her little hands have grasped the basics of connecting the pieces on her own so well that she can now entertain and occupy herself using her own imagination, practicing dexterity and problem solving.

5 reasons this is a great gift idea for toddlers this holiday season

1. While building and creating, you get to watch your little one hit all these amazing early childhood developmental milestones like learning colours, shapes and numbers, while expanding their imagination and vocabulary.

2. Get some toddlers together to play with LEGO Duplo and you will quickly understand how well it facilitates social development. Besides teaching young children to take turns and share, it also promotes communication skills.

3. Even though LEGO Duplo pieces are larger than the original LEGO blocks, it still takes a fair amount of hand-eye coordination and strength to snap and pull apart the bricks. Using these blocks actually helps to strengthen the muscles in toddlers’ tiny hands, improving dexterity that will become important when they are a little older and learning to write.

4. Miniature versions of the film’s main characters—Elsa, Anna and Olaf the snowman—are included in the set, along with a slew of accessories: a slide, table, chairs, miniature kitchen equipment and outfits for the characters that allow for endless imaginative play.

5. All kids will love the multicoloured light brick feature that tops the sparkling Ice Castle. It is the last brick to be added to the castle, marking completion and giving children a feeling of accomplishment. This special brick also illuminates at the touch of a button and flashes, allowing toddlers to discover and learn to identify various colours.

Images by David A Pike for Today’s Parent Magazine and SoSasha.com

For all these reasons and more, I—along with countless other parents—absolutely love LEGO Duplo. The multi-faceted Duplo building play sets will not only keep toddlers entertained longer than most toys for the 2+ age group, but parents will really appreciate that they are very educational while still keeping things fun, making it the perfect toy for toddlers this holiday season. While building and creating, you get to watch your little one hit all these amazing early childhood developmental milestones like learning colours, shapes and numbers, while expanding their imagination and vocabulary.

8 Things You Should Know (But Nobody Tells You) About Post Pregnancy

It is almost hard to believe that four weeks has gone by since our little Maxwell was born. A week late on August 22nd at 2:34 am, our lives changed forever. To be quite honest, I have been in a bit of a haze the last two weeks surviving on cat naps and coffee. Tons and tons of coffee. It’s all good though, because when I look at this ridiculously adorable face, it makes it all worth it.

8 Things You Should Know Post Pregnancy - Huggies Mom Ambassador

8 Things You Should Know Post Pregnancy

Throughout my nine months of carrying Maxwell, I was told all the cliché things about pregnancy and motherhood; “Giving birth is the greatest gift!“, “Motherhood is the hard but the most rewarding job” and a slew of other Hallmark sounding phrases. All 100% true statements but what I needed to hear the most that realness on what to expect post labour in the first few weeks. Documenting my journey to baby has allowed me to connect with a lot of you in the IG community and I’ve discovered that so many of you are expecting your first baby this year. So, here’s eight things you should know (but nobody tells you) about post pregnancy to help you survive the first few weeks.

1. The Importance of Skin to Skin

Skin-to-skin with a newborn is important and crucial in so many ways for both you and your baby. Most advocates of doing skin-to-skin would recommend that this start at birth. Both Réjean and I created a hug plan very early on during my pregnancy which we shared with our midwives and doula as we were keen on having our skin hug with Max as soon as she entered the world. That first contact is the most intense connection ever! When we placed her on our chests and she starred into our eyes, it was like she knew exactly who we were. But more importantly, there’s actually some scientific stuff according to Canadian Association of Paediatric Centres that makes skin-to-skin so beneficial:

  • It helps promote healthy weight – when baby’s are warm they don’t use their energy to regulate their body temperature, so they can use that energy to help them grow instead.
  • It can help make breastfeeding easier – newborns have a heightened sense of smell so placing your baby skin-to-skin helps them seek out the nipple and begin breastfeeding faster.
  • It reduces baby’s stress and pain – just 10 minutes of this skin cuddle time can reduce your baby’s stress hormone and increase oxytocin.
  • It promotes better sleep – less stress = better sleep
  • It helps dad and baby bond – we have a whole nine months to bond with our little one when they are in our stomachs and once they enter the world it’s almost as if Dad has some catching up to do. This is a great way for Dad’s to get in their quality baby bonding time.

2. The Truth About Diapers

8 Things You Should Know Post Pregnancy

Oh my goodness…we were not at all prepared for the amount of diapers we were going to have to change a day. Trust me, probably one of the most surprising discoveries since becoming parents. The first couple days were not so bad as the baby was only getting colostrum and my breast milk hadn’t come in yet but holy moly, once she hit a week old,things got hectic. Our midwifes gave us a rule of thumb to go by when it comes to the number of changes Maxwell should have per day. Basically, the number of diaper changes should mimic how old they are. For instance, if you’re baby is 3 days old, he/she should have gone through 3 diapers. On day five there should be five changes and so on. However, after a week, the daily nappy change should be anywhere from 6-9 diapers.

8 Things You Should Know Post Pregnancy

Using Huggies Little Snugglers has made our lives so much easier and has been reassuring knowing that little Maxie is in a diaper designed to keep her delicate newborn skin clean and healthy. For you fellow new time moms out there, you can receive a free pack of diapers to trial on your little one by supporting Huggies “No Baby Unhugged” initiative. The wetness indicator on this diapers are amaaaaazing and has taken the guess work out of knowing when it’s time to change her diaper. When the baby starts crying, Réj has a mental check list he runs through of the possible reasons for her agitation and looking to see if that indicator has gone from yellow to blue is the first thing he checks out. Most helpful during the middle of the night especially. Maxwell’s belly button healed in record time too, partially due to the umbilical cord cut-out on her Newborn diapers which is brilliant.

3. Midwifery and Doula Post Natal Support

8 Things You Should Know Post Pregnancy

I had planned to discuss this at more length when I share my birth story but in short, the support we have received from our midwives and doula has been phenomenal. Both during our pregnancy and post labour. To be honest, I am not sure we would have made it through the first week at home with Max without Kristen and Alusha at Toronto’s Community Midwives and our Doula Leah Jackson. We chose this avenue of care because of the extra benefits during the prenatal stage but it wasn’t until much later that we learned that the postnatal care and assistance was even more critical and useful. What most don’t seem to realize is, having a midwife comes at no extra cost for the Mum and Dad. I know the assumption from many has been that it costs thousands because the idea of this personalized care sounds fancy but in  Ontario the costs are actually covered by OHIP. We had 5 in-home medical visits for Max within the first week after her birth and a little extra postnatal care from our Doula whose role is to not only help with the baby but to also provide assistance and care to the new Mama. Max and I have enjoyed Leah’s massages, lactation assistance and she’s even helped with the first couple bath times. Ladies (and gents) do yourself a favour and be open minded about these options and also know that they can be used in conjunction with hospital births.

Maxwell getting her congenital heart test done at home by our Midwife Kristen

8 Things You Should Know Post Pregnancy - Huggies Mom Ambassador
Doula Leah Jackson – BirthIsBeautiful.ca

4. Make Bath Time a Fun, Bonding Experience (Your baby will sleep better too!)

8 Things You Should Know Post Pregnancy

8 Things You Should Know Post Pregnancy

In these early stages, everything you do for your child is an opportunity to bond with your little one. Although it’s super easy to feel robotic going through a cycle of feeding, changing and putting your baby to sleep, try your best to do each thing mindfully and with intention as time flies so quickly. I was petrified at the thought of having to give this tiny human a bath alone after being shown twice the ropes from Leah, but now I look forward to this time with Max, especially because she loves the water so much. Plus it’s time for the three of us to connect as a family. After she is out of the water, we have added baby massage to our routine and it’s help tremendously with sleep time at night, even though she’s only a month old. Co-bathing and breast feeding in the tub has some tremendous benefits as well!

8 Things You Should Know Post Pregnancy - Sasha Exeter

8 Things You Should Know Post Pregnancy

8 Things You Should Know Post Pregnancy - So Sasha

5. Sleep Deprivation is REAL!!!!!

Ok, so this is absolutely no joke. There is a reason why sleep deprivation is used as a torture tactic in some countries. After a 43 hour long labour and five days straight of no sleep afterwards, I entered in a mental parallel universe and trust me when I say it has not been a pleasant experience. No matter how many people told me, ” Make sure you sleep when the baby sleeps!” I did not listen. You will want to do all of the things you can’t when you bub is awake; like cook, clean, work (if you’re like me and work because you’re self employed) or something even as basic as have a shower, but trust me, not getting any sleep is not only going to affect you but it will affect the baby too. A happy, rested mama = a happy, rested baby. If you’re unable to take naps during the day, perhaps think about pumping your breast milk or using formula so your partner can help you out with the nightshift.

6. Teamwork Makes The Dream Work

Number five is the perfect segue way into pro tip #6…you and your partner need to work as a team. Bringing a little human into this world is no easy feat and caring for you bundle of joy in the first few weeks can seem overwhelming, especially for the Mum’s who are already suffering from drastic hormonal changes. Finding a way to tag team and share responsibilities with your partner is critical during this time and sets the foundation for how the household will run as a new family. Easier said than done, I know! Réjean and I struggled hard during the first week. I hadn’t slept well since month seven of my pregnancy, followed by a very long labour. By day five of no sleep post labour, I thought I was going crazy. This led to arguments and fuelled my postpartum blues. I was so angry watching him sleep blissfully for 11 hours a night on the couch while I tended to the baby alone in the bedroom all night. Thankfully, an intervention from our midwives and doula helped us realize quickly that we needed to implement a plan immediately which involved breast pumping my milk or using formula so Réj can feed Maxwell while I catch up on sleep or get work done. Splitting the nightshift when possible is key because two tired parents is truly a recipe for disaster. Since I am in more demand than he is with breastfeeding and all, he has stepped up to the plate with meal prep, coffee making and keeping the common areas of our home tidy. It has not only tremendously taken the pressure off me to “Do All and Be All” but it’s also made us better humans to each other and to Maxwell.

7. Breastfeeding vs Formula

8 Things You Should Know Post Pregnancy - Sasha Exeter

Do yourself one big favour and don’t pay attention to anyone that makes you feel bad about your feeding choices – or any choices when it comes to you and your baby for that matter. Remember, if there was a manual with all the right things to do, our children would come with one. Some women have a very difficult time with breastfeeding; whether they don’t produce enough milk or they are suffering from chapped nipples or mastitis. While some babies find it challenging to latch or have nipple confusion. Full disclosure: I don’t love to breastfeed. Matter of fact, I don’t love it at all. I understand and appreciate the benefits it gives my baby, which is why I do it but if things continue to be uncomfortable, I will move to my plan B feeding plan. My advice, find what works best for you and the baby. If you are adamant about breastfeeding but finding it to be a challenge, there are free  breast feeding clinics made available to women throughout the city, just ask your healthcare provider for the information. Formal lactation specialists can also be hired and they come to your home as well. At this point, we are doing about 80% breast milk and the remainder formula and you know what, the baby is doing just fine. As long as your baby is fed and not going hungry, that’s all that really matters.

8 Things You Should Know Post Pregnancy - Sasha Exeter

8. Mind, Body & Spirit

Photography by Jess Baumung + my personal iPhone 7Plus

There is so much going on with a woman’s body during this time, it’s easy to think that you are loosing control. Truthfully, at some points I’ve believed I actually had. The raging hormones that plagued women during pregnancy don’t disappear right away after birth. Often times, your hormones can cause you to be even more unpredictable once your bundle of joy has made it home. I spent the better part of the first two weeks crying uncontrollably and I am finding out this is very normal. Crying from exhaustion, hunger, physical pain from labour, no longer recognizing myself and the changes to my body, postpartum edema (swelling), painful symptoms from “Baby Wrist” also known as Tendonitis, discomfort from stitches due to vaginal tearing…the list goes on. Just four weeks in, I am very much still in what a lot of Mum’s refer to as the trenches, so I am trying to be mindful and gentle with myself but it’s difficult. The best advice I have been given about this is that it’s temporary and this too shall pass. These are all very normal feelings but it’s important to keep a watchful eye on it and to not feel embarrassed if we need to seek help of any kind.

 

“Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is also about making mothers; strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength!”

If you’re expecting and interested in creating a hug plan for you and your baby,  you can create one right here.

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

Advice for Expectant Mothers From Mom’s Who Get It

Whether you’ve planned your pregnancy or are completely surprised by the news you’re expecting, are you ever really and truly ready for the task of “Motherhood”? Réjean and I discussed having a baby before we began to trying to conceive and with my age slowly creeping higher and higher into the thirties bracket, there seemed to be no better time than the present to get the ball rolling on our baby making plans. Truthfully, conception happened much quicker than we anticipated and of course we were ecstatic but that feeling of excitement was quickly replaced with fear and sheer terror. If you know me, you would probably describe me as confident or even stoic and definitely ready for any challenge BUT with my impending role of Mother just around the corner now, I’m not going to lie, literally freaking out.

Photo by Jess Baumung for Huggies Canada

Funny enough, all the questions that I asked myself before getting pregnant I was able to answer confidently but now there is some self doubt creeping in all of the sudden and only seems to worsen the closer it gets to my August due date; “Can I REALLY handle this responsibility?”, “Do I make enough money to give this kid the life he/she deserves?Will I be a good enough?…because my own mother certainly set the bar hight” . That being said, I have gained some confidence from discovering the benefits of practicing skin-to-skin when Bean arrives after getting introduced to the Huggies Hug Planwhich I dished all about earlier this month – found here in case you missed it. Réj on the other hand is somehow the calmest I’ve ever seen him and he keeps reminding me that our mother’s, grandmother’s and women generations before them seemed to innately know things for example the importance of hugs without having access to scientific research.


My plan for sanity is to stay clear of the extensive books on expecting and planning to stick to a few trusted sites like Huggies.com while also turning to some incredible women I am lucky to know, who I look up to and each exemplify the type of mother I want to be for Baby Bean. I’ve turned to them for advice on everything from skin-to-skin knowledge, midwives vs doctors, breast feeding, to even helping me choose Huggies diapers and wipes for my babe (thanks to Shannae) and decided to share some of their best insights with some of you who are also nervous moms-to-be.

Trisha Enriquez – Founder of NoTummyMommy.com, Nutritionist, Pre-Natal Fitness Expert and Mommy to Harper

Trisha Enriquez has become infamous in the city for her adorable photos with 3 year old daughter Harper who shares her mom’s love for fitness, health and wellness. Her Instagram account motivates mommies near and far to find time in their day to move and stay active, while often wearing the cutest matching activewear. A multi-hypenate, Trish is the creator of NoTummyMommy.com, a certified nutritionist, pre/post natal fitness expert and also specializes in helping mama’s work on core rehab, pelvic floor health and diastasis recti (otherwise known as separation of the abdominal muscles during pregnancy).

One of the best suggestions I received after having a baby was to pay an expert to help sleep train my child. It was worth every damn penny and the entire family benefits!
 
Best advice during pregnancy? Get your hubby to up his perineal massage game! This could be a serious game changer in my opinion.”

Suzanne Cohon – President, ASC PR; Mommy to Parker

Suzanne Cohon - ASC Public Relations

A native New Yorker, Suzanne Cohon, who now calls Toronto home, is the fierce boss lady behind ASC PR. Mother to Parker, her 11 year old mini-me, Cohon also finds time to give back to the community as Chair of the Ronald McDonald House Opening Gala and as a member of the Board of Directors at the prestigious Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery just to name a few.

As a new mom, I always kept wishing for the moment for my daughter to crawl, walk, talk, go to school, sleep through the night, etc. I was constantly looking forward to how much I would enjoy her future self. I look backward and regret as I think I missed so much. So much was taking place right before my eyes however, I wasn’t looking. For any new mom or mom-to-be, my advice is this – enjoy every minute of everyday. These littles grow so quickly. If you don’t stop and focus, these precious moments will pass you by.”

 Shannae Ingleton Smith – National Advertising Sales Professional at Rogers Publishing; Mommy to Kensington Grey

Toronto transplant and Calgary, Alberta native, Shannae Ingleton Smith is new to motherhood, after giving birth to her daughter Kensington Grey back in December 2016, but what she is not new at is being successful in media sales and the publishing world, currently employed by Rogers Publishing & Media for Macleans magazine. Shannae is currently working on re-emerging herself into the digital space with a new site (launching soon) after taking a hiatus from the blogging world to focus on her corporate career.

Having my daughter has been a life-altering yet beautiful experience.  I’m still blown away by the fact that my husband and I created this tiny human being that is a miniature version of both of us but unique in her own way. I’ve learned many useful lessons about motherhood since having Kensie. The first of which, I learned from my mother early on. She told me to relax. Trust the ones you love with your baby. You can’t do everything and you can’t be with her every living, waking moment. Trust me, I tried and then sleep deprivation kicked in. Suppress your inner control freak and let the ones you love help out if they are willing and able.  This will allow you to recharge so that you can be the best version of yourself for your little bean, especially in those first few weeks.

Also, as a new mother, I’ve found using a diaper for your baby with a wetness indicator like Huggies  Little Snugglers, goes a long way. There will be times when your baby is crying and you’re not sure why so this feature can be a huge help when trying to figure out what your baby needs.

The last piece of advice that I’d give to moms is to not lose your mojo. Don’t be afraid to do all of the exciting and inspiring things that helped define you pre-baby. Becoming a mom is my greatest pride and joy, but being a mom isn’t the only thing that I am. Continuing to nurture my passions post partum was a non negotiable for me. Write that screenplay. Run that marathon. Start that blog. Wear the killer outfit. Keep being the badass, rule breaking, thought provoking, opinionated girl boss that you were pre-baby. Your mini me is watching and he or she will thank you later.”

Elle Daftarian – Entrepreneur, Small Business Owner and mommy to Sophia
Elle Daftarian started off her career in fashion business but then went on to tackle careers in event planning & design titles and is most well known for her upscale bakery Petite and Sweet (now closed) and her television show, Sugar Stars on the Food Network. Now, this petite beauty is transitioning into her next role that will be launching soon on ElleDaftarian.com.
My best advice…lead by example. Kids watch everything you do and they want to be just like you. Learn to love yourself before you can love them and make sure they know how much you value yourself. Lastly, once that baby comes out they become their own person. As a mother, you are there to support their journey, not tell them how to live it.”
Felecia Exeter – Former magazine editor and mommy to yours truly

Sasha Exeter - Huggies Mom Ambassador

For those who have followed my social channels, you have seen her face sprinkled in IG posts and appearing in some of my IG stories on weekends here and there because we are thick as thieves. My mom moved to Canada after marrying my father. If you can believe it, she only saw him a total of three times over the course of a couple of years due to their long distance relationship before he popped the question and moved her across the pond to Toronto. A bank employee at BNP (Banc Nationale de París) before going to Canada, she secured a job at Telemedia Publishing, at the time home to magazines like Canadian Living, TV Guide and more, as a secretary and worked her way up within the company eventually becoming an Editor. Being my hero and inspiration, proving that hard work pays off in both love and in your career.
Sasha, as you know I had virtually no additional support when I first had you. I was in my early twenties and thousands of miles away from my family and friends. Everything that I learned was from trial and error, I would say and pretty simple now that I think about it, however I do wish someone had told me these things when I was a new mum.
When the baby is sleeping, you should use that time to get your own shut eye, which you will really need; have a bath or just do something relaxing for yourself. Remember to set priorities. Your job as a mother should be very similar as your career job in a way. It is impossible to get everything done every single day. Do what’s crucial and important and everything else can wait. Last but not least, try and remain positive throughout the pregnancy. YOUR baby feels EVERYTHING!”
I may not be an official “Mommy” yet but I’ve learned so much about pregnancy throughout these last 28 weeks and still learning something new every single day. It has been the most humbling experience. The advice I have for other mother’s is to listen to you your body! If you’re a high functioning person like I am and used to pushing yourself, you will need to slow down and let the baby and your body guide you. When you’re hungry – eat. When you’re tired – rest. If you’re starting to feel stressed out and overwhelmed – find a way to relax and chill. And lastly, don’t underestimate the importance and benefits of hugging your baby before he/she arrives. Give your baby infinite love and good energy by hugging your belly. It’s a great way to interact and connect with your little one and when your further along in your pregnancy, it’s so fun to feel your baby react back with movements.

SHOP THE HUGGIES PRODUCTS I’VE BEEN STOCKING UP ON HERE:

 

Thank you to all these fabulous ladies for taking the time to share their thoughts and advice with me…trust me, I need every single bit. Have any amazing mommy-to-be tips you want to share with me prior to the Bean’s arrival? I would love to hear from you via Twitter @SashaExeter, where I can also share your advice with my social community.


This post was sponsored by Huggies® Canada, however all opinions and thoughts in this post belong to myself and the women who agreed to participate!

Expecting Soon? Here’s Why You Should Consider a Hug Plan!

As I get closer to my delivery date, my anxiety continues to rise exponentially. And when it comes to impending motherhood and raising a child, I am realizing how little I actually know right about now. In order to stay grounded, I keep reminding myself that if there were a manual for being a parent, then our baby would come with one. At 25 weeks along, I am now starting to put some thought into a birthing plan with my midwifes and pre-natal naturopath, which I am pleased to say will include a hug plan for our little Bean. Trust me, not a term I had ever heard before until my first official meeting with the Huggies Canada team. I guess now would be a good time to announce I’ve joined their group of No Baby Unhugged Mom Ambassadors alongside Jeanine Macintosh of Six Time Mommy, Elaine Atkins of Elaine Loves, Solmaz Khosrowshahian of TheCuriousCreative.com, and Natalie Preddie from The Adventures of Natty P among others.

Sasha Exeter - The Hug Plan - Huggies Mom Ambassador

Sasha Exeter - Huggies Mom Ambassador
The perfect Mom-to-Be starter kit with stuffed animals, books, onesies, Huggies Snugglers and wipes

Ok, so I will be the first to admit, having a baby has somehow turned into a multi-billion dollar industry with products, services, gadgets and apps for literally everything under the sun you can think of, to apparently make parents lives easier. But, with so many options out there, it’s almost impossible not to get too overwhelmed. A lot proving to be useful or even necessary, while there are others you can certainly do without. Diapers are one of those things that obviously fall into the “necessary” category and in my personal opinion, is one of the most important first decisions a parent will make for their baby. Why? Your baby’s diaper is directly on your child’s skin 24 hours a day (more than any other garment) and the choice of brand is usually made before the baby comes before even trying it out. Réjean and I did extensive research over the last few months to allow us to make an  informed decision how we were going to diaper “the Bean” and we both undeniably agreed that Huggies was it (much more on why in the coming months).

As part of the #NoBabyUnhugged program, I attend an event last week at what I like referring to as the “Huggies House”, a private mansion in Yorkville, where we got an extensive education on the importance of skin-to-skin, tips on what should be included in our hospital bag and a deep dive into diapering and wiping 101.

The Power of Hugs

Sasha Exeter - No Baby Unhugged

Unless you’re a mother, mom-to-be, or surrounded by friends who have already given birth and won’t shut up about it, chances are you’ve never heard about skin-to-skin before. I sure as hell had not heard the term legit until two months ago. It pretty much implies exactly how it sounds and refers to hugging or holding your newborn baby, when he/she is only in a diaper, against your bare chest within the first hours, days and weeks after birth. Sounds quite basic doesn’t it? Turns out it’s actually one of the most valuable gifts you can give your little one. Proving to be vital for the healthy development of babies, our intimate group got a chance to speak with Dr. Dina Kulik, MD; an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Staff Physician in Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Sick Kids Hospital, who shared her very personal story on the rapid improvements she witnessed to her newborn son’s health through skin-to-skin contact after having health issues at birth. During our first of three interactive stations, we got to do a “blind feel” test to get a chance to experience what baby’s would feel when they come in contact with blankets, swaddles, diapers and touch for the very first time while also getting a chance to try on Hug Vests that mimicked the feeling of being hugged.

Sasha Exeter - Huggies Mom Ambassador

Solmaz of TheCuriousCreature finding her way through the blind “feel” test

To be honest, I think the power of hugs has always been inherent with mother’s but when babies are born with health complications, it has been doctors and nurses in the past who had usually recommended babies be taken away and placed in the appropriate unit for extensive care – with good intentions of course. Fast forward years later and 600+ medical studies on the effects of human touch; looks like moms actually do know best and the physiological and psychological skin-to-skin contact were just too great to ignore…dramatically changing the way newborns are treated immediately after entering this world:

  • Improved oxygen levels
  • More stable body temperature and heart rate
  • Improved pain tolerance
  • Faster weight gain
  • Improved sleep
  • Healthier brain development
  • Less stress, and much more

Last year,  Huggies launched the world’s very first Hug Plan, which acts as an extension of a mom’s existing birth plan in order to help her fully get the opportunities and benefits of skin-to-skin for their newborn. We have just filled ours out actually and it helped Réjean and I list our skin-to-skin preferences in every possible scenario (because who knows what could happen on delivery day) post birth to make sure the Bean gets adequate hug time. You can create your very own Hug Plan and find more information right here.

Hospital Bag Essentials

Sasha Exeter - Huggies Canada - No Baby Unhugged

Fellow “Mom-Bassador” Natalie Preddie, who had her son Charlie 6 months ago, took us through her labour/birthing experience in the second station and touched on how she found skin-to-skin with her husband and baby, plus dished a few details in regards to what was included in her hospital bag. With most of the items being things I would have naturally accounted for in mine, I will be honest, the Depends protective underwear was quite a surprise and come highly recommended for comfort.

Sasha Exeter - No Baby Unhugged
Natalie Preddie’s Hospital Bag Necessities

Diapering – 101

Seeing as though hugs are so important for infants, it only makes sense to have a diaper that’s soft and comforting too. Diapers have come a real long way from what I remember them to be in the past and Huggies has become known for their constant innovations that allow them to offer the best protection, comfort and skin care; specifically designed to allow a baby’s skin to breathe.

At our third and final station, in a mock nursery no less that looked so freaking amazing I want to replicate it at home, we got the low down on Huggies Little Snugglers. Seriously, how damn cute is that name? And ironically the same diapers my best friend Shannae swears by for their baby girl. I’ve come accustomed to hearing BM (bowel movement) massacres from other mom’s (who have been using other brands) where poop has literally shot out of diapers and through clothes, and while sometimes the messes are bound to happen, it seems as though Huggies has a good handle on such things with a Pocketed Waistband designed to keep messes where they belong and their trusted Leak Lock System that provides up to 12 hours of leakage protection – thank GOODNESS. While some of the other ladies present were already new moms, I was the only “Expecting Madre” so I found even the simplest details like the colour changing Wetness Indicator, that will tell me when the Bean’s diaper needs changing and the front/back labelling on each will no doubt be a lifesaver when Réj is on diaper duty. Crazy to think that this is how big, or shall I say small, the Bean is right now in my stomach. Currently the size of the baby below weighing in at just over 1 lbs and approximately 10 inches long

The absolute tiniest diapers ranging from preemie (only available at hospitals) to newborn

I left the Huggies House, feeling more confident and a teeny, tiny bit less stressed out but it definitely got me thinking more about the No Baby Unhugged initiative. Most babies are born healthy and are able to get warm embraces right away from their parents, however there are circumstances in which a mom may not be able to be by her baby’s side…so what happens then? Be prepared to get a bit teary-eyed people! Huggies is going above and beyond the call of duty here and helping ALL babies get the hugs they need when mom’s can’t be there themselves, by funding and facilitating hugging programs in Canadian hospitals.

Sasha Exeter - No Baby Unhugged

Sasha Exeter - The Hug Plan - No Baby Unhugged
Shot by Jess Baumung for Huggies® Canada

If you’re expecting too, you can totally take part by visiting NoBabyUnhugged.ca and uploading a photo of you holding your baby (or your belly) on Instagram using the hashtag. In return, as a thank you for your support, you will receive a complimentary pack of Newborn Sized Huggies Diapers.

This post was sponsored by Huggies® Canada, however all opinions and reviews are my own!

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