Posted on

Is your baby a room-mate or a house-guest?

Curious Baby

Many years ago, a client told me about how she and her partner had felt about caring for their baby in the middle of the night: “Everytime he woke up and needed a diaper change we behaved as though a GOD had landed, and we both had to get up to worship him and cater to him.” After a few weeks of this, they decided they were “over-staffing the diaper changes” and did not need both parents to get up each time.

Many new parents in the baby groups I facilitate have told me that they don’t know what to DO with the baby, when, after a few weeks, the baby starts to stay awake for longer stretches and seems to be looking for something to happen. The parents say they don’t know what to do to “entertain” or “stimulate” the baby. The braver ones confess that they find it boring, to talk to a small baby and rattle toys in the air.

It makes me think of the difference between a house-guest and a room-mate.

When a friend or family-member comes to stay at my house for a few days, or even a week or two, I tend to focus on them. I cook special meals. I make them cups of tea. I might take a few days off work to spend with them or make sure I come home early from work. If they go off to their room for a nap, I might relax and go do the dishes, but when they come out of their room, I feel I should give them my attention, and offer them a drink.

Once someone has lived with me for several weeks, though, they become a room-mate. We might plan to have dinner together, but I don’t have to rush home from work. I can do the dishes while they sit in the kitchen drinking their tea. We might even sit in the living room together reading the paper, and be quietly companionable.

You might feel about you new baby as though they are a very special houseguest at first. But that’s not sustainable for more than a few weeks. Eventually, you have to acknowledge that your baby is your long-term room-mate, who’s going to stick around for the next 18-25 years!

Of course, you should give your baby attention.

You should talk to your baby, and play little tickle games, and rattle toys, and read books, and sing songs. But it’s also ok to hang out in the living room together sometimes, and read your book, or answer your email, or listen to a podcast while baby kicks and rolls around on the floor and looks at the ceiling or out the window. You will look over once in a while and check in with baby, make sure baby know you are still there, still available. But you don’t have to stare into your baby’s eyes every minute of the time they are awake!

Remember that your baby did not come here to “play.” You baby’s goal is to learn to be like you! So you can help your baby by showing them what a happy busy grown-up looks like. Let your baby see you doing chores. Fold the laundry on the floor while the baby lies next to you. Put your baby in the bouncy-chair to watch you while you empty the dish-washer, or vacuum. When your baby can sit in the highchair, put them in there to watch you do the dishes or peel the carrots.

I hope your life is not only made up of chores though!

Let your baby watch you doing things that make you happy. Dance around the living room, do some yoga. A friend of mine decided to learn the banjo during her mat-leave. Her son loved listening to her play. An artist I know used to paint big colourful canvases with her baby watching, fascinated, from the baby seat.

But you also want your baby to learn to kick back and chill out. So model that behaviour. Go lie on a blanket under a tree with your baby and just be peaceful.

Posted on

How to bottle-feed a baby – Paced Bottle-Feeding


Whether we are exclusively bottle-feeding, breastfeeding-with-occasional-bottles, or doing-half-and-half, it makes sense to feed the baby in the most physiologic, relaxing, pleasant way possible, which helps parent and baby develop a comfortable attachment. This process is sometimes called Paced Bottle Feeding. It involves mimicking the flow that the baby might get at the breast, and allowing the baby to have control of their experience, the way they would at the breast.

This information is intended for babies from birth to six months or so. After that, the baby will be better able to communicate their needs.

General guidelines:

1. Feed your baby based on the baby’s cues, not on a schedule. Hunger cues are:

a. Lip-smacking
b. Tongue darting
c. Squirming
d. Rooting – looking for something to suck on with their mouth
e. Hands to mouth
f. “Barking”
g. Crying is a very late cue – really more a sign of distress than hunger.

2. In the first three months or so, a bottle-fed baby will need small amounts of milk, 2-3 ounces, about 8-10 times per day (24 hours). Gradually they will start to take more milk at a time and feed less often.

3. Hold and cuddle the baby a lot. Even when you are not feeding them. We often over-interpret baby’s crying as meaning hunger when really the baby is asking for physical contact, movement, stimulation.

4. Don’t change the baby before the feed (unless absolutely necessary.) It just makes a hungry baby angry to be changed when they want to eat. It’s better to take a little break in the middle of a feed to change a diaper. And babies often poop when eating anyway!

5. Have your baby skin-to-skin when feeding, if you like, and if it’s convenient. Do not swaddle the baby when feeding them. Let the baby’s hands be free to explore and participate.

6. Use a slow-flow nipple – this is a nipple which, when held upside-down with milk in it, will release one drop of milk per second. This makes sure the baby does not eat too much, too fast.

7. Plan to take 10-20 minutes to complete the feed. Every feed does not need to be the same length. We all have some long meals and some short ones. Taking a longer time to feed allows the baby to recognize the feeling of being full before they become over-full. This reduces “colicky” crying.

Step-by-step Bottle-Feeding:

1. Make sure you, the parent, are comfortable. Make sure you are not hungry yourself, and can sit and focus on the baby for the next 20 minutes or so without interruption. Find a cosy place to sit, with good support for your back and arms. Make sure you have the bottle and a burp cloth and maybe a box of tissues nearby, as well as a water-bottle for yourself, and perhaps your phone, so you don’t have to jump up if it rings.

2. Make the baby comfortable in the crook of your arm. Your elbow should be supported, and the baby’s head is resting against your forearm. The baby’s head should be higher than their stomach. The baby does not have to sit absolutely upright, but being on an incline is better than flat on the back. (Babies fed while lying flat are at more risk for dental caries and ear infections.) Being upright means the baby is able to release air they might swallow.

3. Touch the baby’s upper lip with the nipple and draw the nipple downwards over the bottom lip. When the baby opens their mouth, put the nipple in slowly, letting the baby draw it in. Do not force the nipple into the baby’s mouth.

4. Keep the bottle tilted so most the nipple is full of milk. But don’t worry if the baby sucks in a little air – this is quite normal.

5. Count the baby’s sucks and swallows. If the baby does not take a breath by the fourth or fifth suck, remove the nipple and allow the baby to have a break in the flow to swallow and breathe. Keep the nipple right there, by the mouth, so the baby can latch on again when ready.

6. The baby may be upset when you remove the nipple. Talk to them and tell them it’s coming back. They just need a little break. After you have done this a few times, and they know it always comes back, they will be calmer.

7. Other signs a baby needs a break are:

a. Opening eyes wide
b. Pulling the head back, or turning it to the side
c. Arching the back
d. Pursing the lips
e. Letting go of the nipple

8. Take the nipple out right away and sit baby upright or put baby up on your shoulder if you see these signs of mild distress:

a. Milk spilling from the mouth
b. Opening eyes widely
c. Stiffening of arms and legs
d. Flaring nostrils
e. Grimacing
f. Lips turning blue

9. Talk to your baby. Tell them a story. Talk about your plans for the rest of the day, or about what you did this morning. Make it clear that you are focusing your attention on them in a loving and relaxed way, and that you enjoy their company. Develop a habit of pleasant meal-time conversation that will last a life-time!

10. Switch sides halfway through the feed. If you were holding the bottle in your right hand to start with, switch so you are now holding it in your left hand, and the baby is resting on your right arm. This provides for symmetrical eye stimulation and development.

11. Let the baby decide when the feed is done. Signs of being finished are:

a. Falling a sleep
b. Turning head aside or back from the nipple
c. No longer sucking
d. Letting go of the nipple

12. Resist the urge to encourage the baby to finish the last bit of milk in the bottle. The baby is in charge of their body and their stomach. Letting the baby feel satiation cues and responding to them is a good way to set up good eating habits for later life.

13. Put the baby up on your shoulder to burp. Pat their back gently.

14. A baby will often fall asleep for a few minutes, and then decide they could use a little more milk. Take advantage of that little break to change the diaper. Then be prepared to give the baby a little more milk. That’s okay.

15. If the baby still seems to root around even when they have had a large amount of milk, consider that they might just need to do a little more sucking. Offer a pacifier and a cuddle and see if baby falls asleep.

Resources: is a good website on family health – lots of information there on formula feeding and bottle preparation. is another source of British Columbian health information. is a Quebec resource with good, detailed information – in English.

Many of the ideas I have shared here are influenced by:

Posted on

Perinatal Care for Gender Diverse Families

Families come in many forms. It is a responsibility of perinatal care providers to adapt to meet the needs of all parents-to-be in dignified and affirming ways. While many people from diverse backgrounds and life experiences will share hopes and worries about pregnancy and parenting, transgender and queer parents may have some needs and desires that are unique to their gender and sexual identities.

Join Katie McNiven Gladman (Registered Midwife, IBCLC) and Kingsley Strudwick (founder of Ambit Gender Diversity Consulting) for an evening of education and skill-building to better support transgender and queer people as they embark into parenthood.

Date: Friday, May 25 from 7pm to 9pm at Mothering Touch, 975 Fort St

Cost: $35 per person

Book online here or call Mothering Touch at 250-595-4905 to register.


Posted on

Sing! Sing! Sing!

These days, with the Christmas season approaching, it feels that all I do all day is singing and babies, babies and singing. Of course, babies and families are my work-work, but singing is my play-work and it takes over my life at this time of year. I sing in a choir and I am cast in a musical, and I will be singing for a few church services.

I sing because I love it, but also because I must. I must sing for my mental health, for my creative spirit, but also for my physical well-being. And I believe that singing to your babies is good for their mental health, their creative spirit and their physical well-being. And for yours too.

When you sing to your babies, you tell them that there is nothing to worry about (or why would you waste energy on song?). You master and regulate your breath and this relaxes your body and theirs. You share your feelings with them, joy or sadness.

When you sing to your babies, you expose them to long, often rhyming, rhythmic segments of language. This is such valuable input to someone who is trying to learn to speak! And the abstract words are combined with musical information about the emotions associated with those words. We know about the value of talking to your babies, but when that one-sided conversation starts to be difficult to maintain, sing!

When you sing to your babies, you give them information about their day. In the morning you sing getting-up-and-washing-your-face songs. When it’s time to go out you sing getting-into-your-car-seat songs. At changing times you sing diaper-changing-songs. And at bedtime you sing lullabies. Those musical snippets (Wagner called them leitmotifs) announce change, activities, moods, useful information for a baby who has no control over their day. It’s so much easier for them to go along with what you planned if you give them a little advance warning!

When you sing to your babies, don’t worry about how well you sing. Your enjoyment of and emotional commitment to the song is much more important that your vocal technique. Don’t pass a fear of singing on to your babies. As the days get shorter, and the winter cold keeps us indoors, pull out some old songbooks or cd’s from your childhood. Remind yourself of the lyrics you love and pass on a love of song!


Posted on

Is a Prenatal Class about Childbirth or about Babies?

Prenatal Childbirth Preparation for Doctors' Patients

This term we use – Prenatal Class – is confusing, isn’t it?

Some parents-to-be are fascinated by, or worried about labour and birth and are wanting to spend a lot of time talking about it. They come to our 12-hour, six-week Childbirth Preparation classes and are happy to spend most of the time on labour and birth, and practicing comfort measures and coping skills, and find that it’s great that we also spend two entire hours talking about babies and breastfeeding.

Other parents, who are more worried about how they are going to cope with the baby once it is out, feel they would like to spend more time talking about babies and breastfeeding.

It’s for this second group of parents that we have designed the Parenting the Newborn series. It’s a three-week, six-hour series in which a postpartum doula and breastfeeding educator takes you though two hours on baby care and two hours on breastfeeding, and then a First Aid Instructor comes and teaches two hours of Infant First Aid and CPR.

Many of our parents take both sets of classes. And we encourage this by giving parents a $15 discount if they sign up for both classes at the same time. (We also acknowledge that there will be a little overlap between the classes.) Some parents take only one, or only the other.

I would say, that if you take only one, the Childbirth Preparation Class is the one to take. Experiencing childbirth in a healthy and satisfying way takes knowledge and preparation. Labour and Birth happen all at once, in a big storm. There is little time to consider, or problem solve during labour. The learning and considering and deciding needs to happen before labour starts – even though you may change your mind during labour itself – in fact you probably will.

You can learn baby care and breastfeeding over several week and months. Babies are very patient with fumbly parents, and every parent figures out their own way through the challenges of of the first weeks. In fact, the hormones you make (yes, parents of all genders make hormones when they are around babies) will help you be more attentive and respond more sensitively to your baby.

At Mothering Touch, we believe in people’s basic ability to give birth and care for their babies. We want parents to feel well-prepared and well-supported, to feel satisfied with their birth experience and to be able to enjoy the first weeks with their baby. That is the goal of all our classes and groups.

Posted on

My Baby Hates the Car Seat! – Guest post by Aliya Khan

“My baby hates the car seat!” Such a common complaint from new parents in our Baby Groups. Recently, Aliya Khan, a regular in our baby groups, offered to write a blog post for us on her experiences with her daughter. As you will see, she has TONS of ideas!

Caring for an infant can be hard. And having an infant that hates the car definitely doesn’t make things any easier. (I’ll just say it: Having an infant that hates the carseat sucks.)

So what are you to do when your baby gets upset every time you place them the car seat?

For one thing it forces you to reevaluate your priorities:

‘Do I really need to leave the house?’
‘Is that appointment really that important?’
‘Do we really NEED groceries?’
‘Do I HAVE to take auntie Kelly to the airport?’

The answer can’t always be no, and eventually you’re going to have to put your baby in her car seat.
So do you just put up with the screaming? If you’ve ever driven in your car with a screaming baby you know just how insurmountable this task can be.

I’ve been there. I’ve experienced the whole spectrum of feelings from hopeful, to anxious, to enraged and finally defeated (mixed in with some guilt over the rage). Before I had a baby I thought if you couldn’t get your baby to settle down at home then that’s what you did; go for a drive and let the car lull them to sleep. I was led to believe it was the go-to, fail-safe, do-this-when-all-else-fails, sanity-saving method for us new parents. But our baby quickly let us (and the whole neighbourhood) know how she felt about being in her car seat. So I had to either get creative or spend the first few months of her life staying home or going no further than my feet could take us.

I soon discovered, through the ‘new mommy’ circles I ran with, that this is actually very common among infants. And that I wasn’t the only (by far!) that was struggling with this issue. Nor was I the only one who experienced the emotional roller coaster that each trip manifested. Thankfully she outgrew this around her 5th or 6th month and she’s developed into a delightful young traveler, but I could have used this list in those bleary-eyed early days.

First- is your baby comfortable: are the straps twisted, is she too hot or too cold, hungry, does she have a soupy diaper, etc…the usual checklist. Rule out any medical conditions by talking to your baby’s pediatrician. If everything seems good and they’re still upset give any or all of the following a try:

  1. Find two or three radio stations that play mainly static and save them to your presets in your car.
  2. Pulse the static radio stations to mimic a heartbeat.
  3. Attach a ribbon to your baby’s window your baby can entertain herself by watching the ribbon flutter in the breeze.
  4. Leave the house at a predictable naptime or just make short trip between naptimes.
  5. This one worked for me the most: the sneaky side boob feeding. Nurse your baby to sleep with they’re clicked into the car while casually, awkwardly leaning into her seat, boob at mouth level. (Please note that this is not comfortable for you in ANY way. This method may not work for all boob shapes. If you bottle feed this will probably be way more comfortable. And it will only work if someone else is driving, of course.) (Mothering Touch Comment: Make sure your own seatbelt is fastened!)
  6. Sing. Sing the whole time. Sing so your baby doesn’t have a chance to start crying. They’ll be busy listening to you sing your butt off (don’t be shy here, it doesn’t matter what you sound like, your baby just loves to hear your voice).
  7. Place a mirror on the back of the head rest so your baby can see themselves and reflections. Maybe they’re lonely back there.
  8. Crack the window slightly. A cool breeze, the sound of the wind, the sudden pressure change in the car might be enough to grab her attention and stop her from crying.
  9. Open and close her window over and over. (Please note this only works if you have power windows.)
  10. Attach something to the car seat bar. In my case it was a luggage tag but a soft toy or something similar would work too. I kept it close enough for her to touch but far enough away so she couldn’t put it in her mouth.
  11. Talk. Talk about anything and everything. Talk about what street you’re on, what colour the car is in front of you, how many trees there are on the road where you’re going, what you’re going to do when you get there. Talk so much that your baby won’t have time to think about crying.
  12. Put up a sun shade over her window. There’s nothing worse than finally getting her to calm down only to get stuck at a stoplight with the sun shining right in her eye and getting her all upset again.
  13. Change, Feed and burp right before strapping her in. An uncomfortable diaper, being hungry or a gas bubble can quickly escalate to screaming when strapped in tight.
  14. Pacifier. My daughter Never really took to a pacifier unless it was in my mouth first and then she’d try to grab it. Then she would either play with it or chew on it. Warning: if the pacifier falls out you may be stopping the car to put it back in.
  15. If all else fails strap her into your carrier and take the bus (or walk if that’s an option.)

These are some ideas that help me 75% of the time. All these tricks can be helpful but if you’re too distracted by your unhappy passenger, pull over.

Posted on

Monday is Massage and Relaxation Day

Big Brother Daniel giving Baby Hannah a massage.
Big Brother Daniel giving Baby Hannah a massage.

Starting on January 6, 2014, Monday is going to be Massage and Relaxation Day!

Registered Massage therapist, Sylvie Gilbert, is going to be offering Prenatal Massage in The Nest (our cozy back room) on Mondays between 10am and 5pm. She is going to bring her massage table and her prenatal pillow which allows tired, achey pregnant moms to lie on their tummies. You can book appointments with her (1 hour for $85) through our front desk.

From 11:30 to 12:30, on Mondays, Sylvie will take a break from massaging mommies, to teach Baby Massage to new parents. Babies LOVE massage. The best age to start is sometime after 6 weeks. Babies who get regular massage from 6 weeks or so, will love to be massaged for ever. But babies who have never had massage, may not be interested if you introduce it after they learn to crawl – they are too busy! So our class is best suited for babies from 6 weeks to 8 months.

From 5:15 to 6:30 on Mondays, Sylvie, who is also an experienced HypnoBirth teacher and doula, will be teaching a drop-in Self-Hypnosis and Relaxation for Birth class. Learn how to control relaxation and ease tension and pain through visualization and self-hypnosis for childbirth techniques. Tension, shallow breathing, stress and fear all create chemical reactions in our bodies via the sympathetic nervous system. This creates an unproductive fight or flight response that elevates our perception of pain and decreases our natural sedative endorphins.

Learn easy and simple methods to control stress and tension during childbirth. Reduce the risk of complication and prevent excessive pain while promoting the release of endorphins and oxytocin.
Enjoy guided visualization techniques for a full body relaxation. Each week you will learn to master your own ability to meditate, breathe and relax during childbirth. Become efficient at responding to stress and pain with effective visualization techniques. Take what you learned and practice at home or drop in weekly.

Imagine how chill and relaxed we’re going to be on Mondays from now on!

Posted on

Sunscreen Should Be Safe!

A recent article on Mothering’s site sums it up pretty well when they say…

"Summer is here and many of us are thinking about how we can keep our kids safe in the sun.  The first line of defense for most parents is to grab the sunscreen and make sure the kids are properly covered.  But who wants to slather on a cream that contains potentially dangerous chemicals?"

A few years back, I came across a fantastic resource – The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is an environmental health research and advocacy organization.  Their mission is to, "serve as a watchdog to see that you get straight facts, unfiltered and unspun, so you can make healthier choices and enjoy a cleaner environment".  Knowledge is power and this website puts a whole lot of power in your hands.

The EWG gathers data on everything from make-up to shampoo and everything in between, then they rate the products based on the potential hazard they may pose to your family’s health on a scale of 0-10, with 0 being the safest and 10 being the worst.  For each product, they describe all of the ingredients and their potential risks.

Every summer, the EWG also puts out a Guide to Sunscreens… for parents being bombarded with warnings from every direction, this guide is invaluable.

You may be surprised to find that most of the popular commercial brands of kids and "baby-safe" sunscreens on the market today rate around 7 (high hazard!).  Year after year though, one brand seems to rise to the top, with an average rating of 1 – Badger!

Badger SunscreenBadger is a small, family-owned and family-friendly business; they blend organic plant extracts, exotic oils and butters and beeswax to make their healing balms, safe mineral sunscreens and other personal care products that work and feel remarkably good… and we’re super stoked to now carry Badger here at Mothering Touch!

Check out the links above for more information on the EWG and Badger, then come on down to Mothering Touch to see what we have in store!

Posted on

Practical Parenting Tips

We recently held a contest asking for one really practical tip they have discovered in their life as a parent or soon-to-be parent.  It had to be really PRACTICAL… not, “love your baby”, or “be patient.”  We wanted to know HOW to show our love, HOW to be patient.  We wanted tips that included stuff like duct tape, TUMS, chocolate, exercise balls, baby carriers, salt-and-vinegar chips, diaper wipes, chicken soup, swaddling blankets and stain remover.

These are the tips we received.  We love ALL of them.  They demonstrate how loving, resourceful, intelligent, practical, generous and committed parents can be.  Thank you to all of you.

  • Sanity saver – join a local Facebook mommy group, (even while pregnant if nothing else to start building resources).  When you’re a new mom surviving on little sleep and even when you can’t get out of the house you can still interact with other mommas/vent/have a place to ask any and all questions about baby that’s worrying you/have an instant resource/find a network for playdates/know what baby-friendly events are going on/know where the baby-related sales or deals are/child-rearing tips and if nothing else, by reading other people’s posts you know you’re not the only one going through the same things or know what to expect.  – Annie Smith

  • Everyone who visits after the baby is born brings a food item for the fridge or freezer as finger food or quick dinner for the new family.  And morning visitors get to hold the baby while mom eats, showers, washes and conditions her hair AND brushes her teeth all before noon!  – Maartje Goodeve

  • Practical tip for pregnant ladies: always, always carry a snack with you.  You never know when hunger still strike and when it does, it is fierce!  – Annie Shum

  • Have a hair dryer near your diaper change spot for your new baby – turn it on very low to warm and dry little bums.  Sure to make diaper changes easier and your little one might even fall asleep!  – Tanya Binette

  • Put your babe in the jolly jumper, hung from the bathroom door framehead, and you get to shower!  (tip given by a friend, which was part of our morning routine for many months).  – Rotem Regev

  • Plain yogurt directly on a diaper rash.  cleared it up overnight and i’m sure it felt nice and cool on baby’s bum 🙂  – Lisa Kat

  • Baking soda & water soak followed by a water and vinegar soak will take the old milk smell out of that gross bottle or sippy cup that has been missing for days & you know is hiding somewhere in your house 🙂  – Ceilidh Myers

  • For the adventurous, use a blow up kiddie pool as a travel “containment” system at your campground.  Use frozen ketchup packs wrapped in gauze as mini ice packs.  – Kristyn Kaitila

  • When all else fails, a handful of cheerios on the floor will buy you five minutes of peace.  – Jana Kim

  • Try to get out of the house each day, even in the early weeks of parenthood.  Even if it’s just to the grocery store to buy one thing, go to the coffee shop, or walk the dog.  Just getting a change of scenery and some fresh air is refreshing for body and soul.  – Meghan Wiebe

  • If you ever manage to cook/bake up something your baby likes then do up a big batch and freeze into portions.  Then you always have a quick and easy meal on hand.  – Lara Engst

  • If you are planning to go back to work after your mat leave go on many daycare wait lists as soon as you know you are pregnant.  – Clare Randell

  • Start singing one song/lullaby as soon as your baby is born whenever you put your baby to sleep.  I did it with my baby.  And after about a month, whenever he fusses, I would start singing it and he calms down right away.  Very useful when you are in the car or trying to get him to calm down to feed or for a quiet time.  – Juliana Wijoyo

  • Be sure to have one-handed meals at the ready for the first couple of months.  Wraps, muffins, soup in a mug… anything that can be prepared and eaten easily with one hand while feeding!  – Rhea Harriman

  • Don’t be afraid to follow your instinct when it comes to your little one, you really do know what’s best for her, and don’t let others instill doubt in you! 🙂  – Celle Rikwerda

  • When your munchkin colors on the gorgeous glider and ottoman, or the couch with pen/marker, bust out the dish soap and good old elbow grease!!  – Angela Scandale

  • My practical tip is for a mother’s sanity.  Join a baby group.  I felt very isolated in the beginning, but then a friend recommended coming to Baby Group.  I could not thank her enough.  Not only do you get to hear that all the crazy things your baby does is actually normal, but you get the support of all the other parents.  You also get to make friends, who conveniently are on maternity leave as well, and would love to meet you for a coffee or a walk.  I think it is the best advice I received and it is the advice I give to all new Moms I know.  – Jamie Owens

  • If your little one is a fussy eater mix anything with yogurt and I bet she/he will eat it!!!  – Jessica Johnson

  • If you plan on pumping and bottle feeding or formula feeding and are thinking about buying bottles, I recommend buying a few different types of bottles and then once baby is born, see what they like best, then go out and buy more in that model of bottle.  I see so many parents buy 20 bottles of say Ventaire but then their baby is born and don’t take to the bottle and prefer another kind!  (Even my daughter did this :))  So, try out a few different bottles with your little one and then decide from there 🙂 – Nicole Baldwin

  • The one practical thing I could recommend for those becoming parents is to know that something that works for one baby doesn’t work for another.  Therefore there is no point in buying everything before baby comes – better to borrow from a friend and test it out first.. Like carriers, swings, bounce chairs, wraps, etc… Baby’s are picky!  – Lucy Smirnis

  • If you have smaller breasts (I’m a C cup, and it still works for me), no need to invest in expensive designer nursing tanks and bras.  Two tank tops layered do the trick nicely.  To breast feed just pull up the top one, and pull down the one underneath, and viola, a discreet way to nurse at half the price.  – Zach Brittany Mallett

  • When my little guy started getting interested in his feet, I started putting them in his hands at diaper changes (and giving him lots of encouragement and smiles for ‘helping mommy’).  Now that he is a very squirmy 7 month old, it helps keep him on his back and (sort of) still during diaper changes… at least most of the time. 🙂  – Holly Fang

  • Coughs and colds, we hate germs.  To help your littles with a cough, put a few drops of eucalyptus oil on the soles of their feet right before bed.  It works.  Give it a try.  – Mira Cameron MacIver

  • My most practicle advice for new moms, get a carrier.  In whatever form… sling, wrap, Ergo, whatever.  When you’re at your wits end (and you will be) strap your baby in and get outside!!!  – Trisha Walker

  • Try to set one goal per day for yourself.  It can be anything – shower and dress, do a load of laundry, empty the dishwasher, make it to Mom group…  And if it doesn’t work out, try again the next day.  Things can change so quickly, and this can be stressful, but trying your best to do what’s best for baby and yourself in the moment is what matters most.  I also tried to get outside at least once a day with the stroller except the days when it really snowed.  Baby loved the fresh air and so did I – for the exercise, to clear my head – and for those first few months, to help my baby nap!  – Lara Perzoff

  • Use an old 5 volt cell phone charger to bypass the battery pack on your swing.  You will never have to buy those expensive D batteries and never run out of power!  Especially good with newborn twins who slept better in a swing at first 🙂  – Sarah de Rham

  • Learn how to breast feed lying down and learn how to breast feed in a carrier.  It’s possible and makes life so much easier!  – Anastasia Cyprus

  • My son drinks from a sippy cup, but I give him a regular cup in the bath for practice.  No soaked clothes and no mess!  – Clara Smith

  • Your child is ever changing.  Once you get used to what you believe is normal, it all changes again on you.  Expect change, and embrace the new stages in your little ones life.  – Jen Schilling

  • In my 16 months of parenting there is one thing that I have learned.  Babies vomit a lot.  The first time my son got sick was around 7 months old.  I found myself constantly doing laundry of stinky milk vomit.  I was really quite discusting.  Unfortunately, my matress was not to be spared as well.  One thing that really helped was mixing baking soda with a few drops of your favorite essential oil.  Mix the two together well and put the powder in a siff and srpinkle on your mattress, leave sitting for an hour and vacuum.  Voila.  The baking powder absorbs any moisture in your mattress and the essential oil gives it a nice smell.  I hope this helps if anyone is thinking about how to get their mattress cleaned.  – Dawn Cheung

  • Always carry a pack of post it notes when out and about – comes in handy for a potty training toddler.  Stick it to the automatic flusher sensor so it doesn’t flush while your little one is still on the toilet.  – Brittany & Crawford

Posted on

Babies Understand “Good” vs “Bad”

In my house I’ve always been so careful not to set up a “good” versus “bad” dichotomy.  After a movie we always discuss the reasons why the “bad guys” do the things they do.  I don’t want my kids to see things black and white and I want them to understand that there is usually a reason why people act the way they do.

I try not to say “good boy”, or tell them something they’ve done is “bad”.  My theory and hope is that they will learn to make their own judgements about how things should be and how people act.  A new study has shown that this understanding may not be learned at all; babies may in fact be born with the ability to evaluate behaviour and punishment for “bad” behaviour.

A UBC-led study shows that babies as young as eight months old want to see bad puppets punished for anti-social behaviour. (UBC)
A UBC-led study shows that babies as young as eight months old want to see bad puppets punished for anti-social behaviour. (UBC)
Researchers used puppets to display kindness, by giving a toy, or ill-will, by taking a toy, from another puppet.  They then saw puppets rewarding or punishing the puppets for their deeds.  The babies were then asked to pick their favourite puppet and the babies preferred those that punished the “bad” puppet.  Scientists believe that the fact that such young babies want to see those who are “bad” punished means that we must be born with an instinctive moral-sense.  Hard to believe that before many babies can crawl they are already able to evaluate and judge complex social interactions.

I find it interesting that the instinct to judge punishment is already hardwired to be fairly black and white and I wonder if the way I’ve been modeling morality is a loosing battle.  Maybe that is just the way children understand social interaction during these young years and all my effort to keep “good” and “bad” out of the equation won’t matter.  Afterall, don’t we as adults want to see the “bad guys” punished in the movies too?  But I guess that is my job as a parent, to raise children that are able to see the complexities and to think beyond basic instinct.

The CBC article can be found here.

– Kaarina

Posted on

Family Meals

From October 4 – 18, we ran a great contest with Healthy Families BC to help them promote their on-line presence.  To enter, participants had to "Like" Healthy Families BC on Facebook and/or follow them on Twitter AND post one good idea on our Facebook Page for how we can involve our children in family meals.  We got a whole lot of great ideas.  Seems to me, all the participants – and their kids – are winners when it come to good family eating habits!

But the winner of the Lululemon Athletica Gift Card is …. (drum rollllll) … Tabitha Easton!!  Here is her really good idea for family meals:

  • "To get my 18 month old son involved I start at the grocery store.  I let him choose between which fruit and vegetables we eat that week.  When it comes to preparing meals he is always at my side wanting to help.  His jobs are to pass me the food from the fridge, throw any garbage away and put all the recycling in the appropriate boxes!  He loves it 🙂  He has his own metal play set of pots and pans and when I cook I put one or two food items in his pans, that way he feels like he is helping me cook… and I don’t have to stress about him being near the stove 🙂 our routine works perfectly! …this month anyway haha."  – Tabitha Easton

  • "Here are all the other ideas – in no particular order.  Thanks to all our participants!

  • "Get the kids to help when making dinner!"  – Anita

  • "I’ve always found that feeding my daughter the same (or roughly the same) food that we’re eating helps her to feel part of the meal and part of the family. So from an early age we used a Baby Led Weaning approach and would give her large pieces of soft food that she could mouth, even well before her teeth showed up. She loved to feel like she was eating the same meal as her parents."  – Sarah

  • "Having kids help out in the kitchen is not only a great way to get them involved and a way teach healthy choices but it’s also an amazing sensory integration tool ex. Making bread!"  – Ashley

  • "I try to let my little one pick out whatever produce item she fancies when we’re at the grocery store… it seems that if she’s empowered to choose her own food, there is a really good chance she will eat it later!"  – Nancy

  • "My littles ones climb up on the chair and help plate there food and take their plates to the dinner table.  Table time in our house is so important.  Everyone shares something fun they did that day.  I also let them open the fridge the pick there snack… 9 times out of 10 they pick the healthy ones." 

  • "Bring baby to the table well before s/he is onto solids.  If meal time is family time then it should include everybody from the very beginning."  – Chantelle

  • "Make meals & snacks varied!"  – Dagmar

  • "Have a high chair or seat for baby that pulls right up to the table so baby feels like part of the family."  – Kyla

  • "We eat at the table together. I find if I feed my little one with grown up spoons she is happier than little baby spoons."  – Jennifer

  • "During our meals with our little guy we will talk to him and practice clapping and other fun things so he doesn’t get bored.  We also like to wheel the high chair in view of the kitchen while we are getting dinner ready.  He loves to watch us work and we talk to him about what we are doing, and what different veggies look like.  Hopefully he will be cooking us meals sooner than later (haha!).  Chef in the making perhaps??"  – Margaret 

  • "We shop garden and cook together as a family tge kuds get to pick what they want to plant for the season.  We also talk about how the new baby breastfeeds instead of solids at meal times!!!"  – Heather Elise 

  • "Get them involved in the kitchen and cook together!"  – Karen

  • "Our little guy is only 15 months and sometimes doesn’t last too long at the table.  We try to have a good variety of food options to keep his interest and lately his interest in mastering the use of cutlery helps as well!"  – Sarah

  • "Let you kids have a say in whats for dinner!!!  If they pick something fun to eat then pair it with something healthy as a compromise!  – Lucy

  • "We get our daughter to help out in the dinner.  She loves to "add" stuff when we’re baking.  Now only if it would work with veggies :)"  – Michelle

  • "I am a full time nanny for 5 children (all 5 years and younger) and they love helping make snacks and lunch, and especially love picking fresh fruit off the trees and helping wash them and get the dishes out."  – Liz

  • "Involve kids in the entire process – from shopping at the grocery store, to growing fresh veggies, to actual meal preparation. Kids are so much more willing to try things that they’ve had a vested interest in.  And of course, having a family dinner every evening, with the TV and computers off and everyone sitting around the dining room table engaging in good old fashioned conversation!"  – Dona

  • "My tip for involving kids in making meals is to let them help you prepare the food.  Talk to your kids about what the food is made of and why it is healthy (or not) for you to eat and how it makes your body stronger."  – Melissa

  • "Love this contest!  To get my 1 year old daughter to be involved and feeling like part of the family meal we all share our plates with her but taking things from our own and adding them to her tray.  My little Amara will eat anything she sees her Mummy and Da enjoying!"  – Beth

  • "Excited for this contest!  I always involve my 2.5 yo in the kitchen, safely.  He gets things from the fridge, throws things away, recycles for me.  He gets little bits of things to try at the same time.  It’s less formal and less intimidating to try broccoli if you don’t have a plateful staring you down."  – Mira

  • "In my quest to get the Lululemon Gift Card… I involved my baby in family meals by having everyone sit at the dining table including the baby.  At the beginning the car seat sat on top of the table, then B moved to a high chair and now his own chair (or occasionally still Mama’s lap) :)"  – Amanda

  • "My tip is to always eat meals as a family at a table. We lose so much family time if we never eat as a family.  Also when they are old enough I also think that its a really good idea to bring them on a farm tour so that they can see how their vegetables are grown.  I took a group of kids one summer and they were amazed to see the different ways food grew."  – Traci Ann 

  • "We do our best to eat the same or similar things and eat together.  It can be a little hard since Jaxson has intolerances but we do our best.  For instance we had french toast last night with strawberries and banana so Jaxson had rice bread with strawberries, banana and Jam 🙂  We do our best."  – Cara

  • "One Good Thing that I do to involve my baby (8 months) into the family meals has been to re-organize our dinner schedule and our entire eating experience as a whole.  Before I was pregnant my boyfriend and I would eat whenever we were hungry and always in front of the television.  Now, to help all of us make healthy choices and to set a good example for our son, we’ve made a schedule to eat together every night at 5:30pm.  The tv set is turned off and all the computers and cell phones are taken away from the table.  Hopefully we are setting the example that dinner time (or any meal time) is a time for family to enjoy each others company, enjoy some good food and conversation, and establish a link between happy families and healthy eating habits."  – Katie

  • "Use the fact that vegetables comes in so many shapes and colours to your advantage and make funny faces or interesting shapes out of them on your kids’ plates."  – Lisa

  • "My 17 month old son is a great help in the kitchen: adding ingredients, mixing and stirring, taste testing, pressing buttons, ‘washing’ the dishes and throwing the odd bit of plastic into the garbage.  His ‘job’ is to take the cutlery, and anything else not hot or breakable, to the table.  Then we all sit down and eat together."  – Elizabeth

  • "Before our daughter was old enough to sit in a high chair, she always sat in one of our laps or in her bumbo during meals so that she was included even at a young age.  Now that she has started solids, we have earlier dinners so we can all eat together as a family and at least one of us always sits down to eat with her at breakfast and lunch."  – Andrea

  • "We have a garden where we grow berries, peas, beans, garlic, carrots, kale and potatoes.  Naomi (3) loves to go into the backyard and pick the the ingredients for a salad and then pull a chair up to the counter and help wash the veggies and spin the salad spinner. We eat breakfast and dinner together."  – Heather

  • "When our daughter was 4 months old she started to show an interest in what we were eating.  Feeling as though it was too early to start her on solids we gave her an empty bowl and spoon to entertain her so we could make it through our dinner.  By the time she was 6 months old and ready for solids she had enough practise getting the spoon from the bowl to her mouth that she could feed herself!"  – Aiko

  • "I like to get my son, who is 2, to help with prepping our dinner.  He can help tear up greens, measure rice, choose a pasta shape, etc.  Then when it ends up on his plate, he seems more interested in eating it when I remind him that he helped to make it."  – Rebecca

  • "When preparing meals, I always have my one year old son close by and show him all of the vegetables and fruit I’m using.  He usually holds them and plays with them (and sometimes tries to eat them!)  We aim to have all meals as a family. :)"  – Ashley

  • "To get my 15 month old involved in dinner – we always have her nearby when cooking or barbecuing – we show her what we are doing and talk to her about what we are eating.  We always have dinner as a family without tv or any other distractions."  – Brittany

  • "In order to involve my daughter in family meals, I have her do stuff she enjoys.  She loves to set the table, choose fruit & veggies from the crisper, wash produce, and of course pick stuff from the vegetable garden!"  – Kerri

  • "One way that I include my toddler in our family meals is to bring him out to the vegetable garden and have him help harvest the vegetables we’ll be eating.  When we’re eating we always sit together and ask each other about what we did that day."  – Jen

  • "I always eat with my 10 month old, and dinner is a family affair.  When I’m busy preparing something in the kitchen, and he wants to see what’s going on I put the high chair in the kitchen, put him in it, and give him his own cooking show!"  – Izabela

  • "To involve our 11 month old, I let him explore the fridge with me while I pick out the ingredients to use for dinner.  When he picks something up, I tell him what it is and talk about what properties it has.  He loves playing in the vegetable drawer!"  – Jennifer

  • "We start by having our baby’s sit in a high chair with toys/plastic plate or cup while we eat.  Then once they start solids we let them play with the food while we eat.  Now my daughter helps me prepare dinner and my 16 mo son watches and says, "mmmmmmm!"  I think eating together as a family is most important!"  – Vashti

Posted on

The Vital Importance of Touch

From our Baby Massage Teacher – Sheila Hobbs

Starved of touch babies will die.  Deprived of adequate, loving touch children will grow up with varying degrees of difficulty making social connections, forming loving bonds and/or experiencing intimacy of any kind.  This is the extreme outcome, the negative results of tragic dysfunction.  Given a normal degree of physical touch and cuddling infants grow strong and healthy, developing into fully functional adults.  What then is the benefit of infant massage – of giving more than adequate touch?

A variety of studies using both average and at risk children show the same types of outcome, improved bonding, less illness, decreased stress, better weight gain, less digestive issues and better sleep patterns.  There is also evidence for improved speed and quality of physical and emotional/mental development.  How does touch do this?

When we are massaged, and this applies to both children and adults, we experience decreases in our cortisol (stress hormone levels) and an changes in our white blood cell counts (indicating better immune function).  There is also an increase in oxytocin levels, as we see with breast feeding, which encourages bonding.  One of the nice things is that massage is not limited to moms but can be done by dads, grandparents, aunts and uncle – whoever might want to increase their connection to a child.

These three basic hormonal and cellular changes are the causal factors for all the rest of the changes.  Being less stressed and not getting colds and flus (or any other diseases) contribute to better digestion, leading to weight gain.  Better digestion mean less gas/colic and constipation.  Reduced stress leads to better sleep – both faster falling asleep and better quality of sleep.  All of the benefits discussed above contribute to a healthier, happier, more comfortable baby, which is a more connected baby – connected to itself and its body, and to its caregivers.  This all means, of course, healthier, happier, better connected parents as baby sleeps through the night, cries less and responds more easily.  Everyone wins.

Shoving aside all this great science and physiology, infant massage give you and your baby a structured way to experience positive touch and quiet, enjoyable time together.  Another reason to look into each others eyes and get to know the people behind them, allowing you and your child to move forward together.

When I am teaching infant massage I love being able to give babies and their loved ones a way to connect to each other and enjoy the fleeting peace that comes as both parent and child sink into the calm quiet of a good massage.  I am so lucky to be able to share my knowledge in return for sharing the wonder of watching the newest members of our world experience something beautiful.