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MotherFest!

MotherFest – Friday May 10, from 2-7pm!

mom

For those who may not know yet, MotherFest is our annual Mothers’ Day Extravaganza!  This is the third year that we are running it, and it has grown into a great, fun, busy, chatty, but also strangely peaceful and relaxing event.

Well, the store is busy and chatty and the big meeting room at the back is dim and quiet and relaxing.  Most of the hands-on practitioners are in there and moms can go and have an acupuncture treatment or a little massage or reflexology treatment in a quiet, relaxing environment.  There is a belly-painter for the moms-to-be who want to show off their beautiful baby-bumps, and a photographer to immortalize the artistic creations.  And for the less adventurous, there are manicurists and an esthetician doing eyebrow threading.

Meanwhile, in the store, there is a sale going on and there are practitioners running information tables about their services.  There is live music (my son Simon and his friend Gabe and also our friend Avram McCagherty) and lovely snacks from Patisserie Daniel.  Many of the doulas in town come to hang out and help with holding babies and making everyone comfortable. And our store manager, Janice, always arranges for some lovely give-aways.

To give you a preview of the services and information that will be available tomorrow, here is a list of our participating practitioners:

Amie McColl – Registered Massage Therapist – Aria Health-Wellness Clinic
Amie has been supporting Victoria moms during their pregnancy for the last 6 years.  She has a passion for women’s health, and loves to assist in the nurturing and growth of mom while she is pregnant.  You’re going through so many changes – massage can ease some of those discomforts and encourage rest and relaxation.

Christina Chan – Registered Acupuncturist – Heart and Hands Health Collective
Heart and Hands Health Collective is a grassroots social enterprise located at 851 Cormorant St.  The core service is community acupuncture; high quality sessions provided in a supportive group setting at sliding scale rates.  The goal is to increase accessibility so individuals can receive care as much and as often as they need to get well and stay well.

Christina Cheply – Professional Face & Body Artist – Danger By Design
Danger By Design provides creative services ranging from pregnancy belly painting, maternity henna designs, pregnancy body casts, custom paintings, illustration & portraits, graphic design, window painting, murals and much, much more!

Corrin Adams – Thai Massage Therapist – Living Art Yoga & Thai Massage
Corrin is a 25-year practitioner and teacher of Yoga. She is a certified Doula and Mother. Corrin is a certified Thai Massage Therapist and also teaches pre and postnatal Yoga.

Heather Minielli – Registered Clinical Hypnotherapist & Certified Doula – Birth and Beyond
Heather has practiced as a doula in the community for the past 12 years and has recently achieved the designation of Clinical Hypnotherapist.  As a clinical hypnotherapist, Heather is trained and interested in helping to address anxiety, fears/phobias smoking cessation, weight loss, PTSD, sleep issues, emotional healing and pain management.  Heather is strongly dedicated to helping women achieve a more positive birthing experiences through hypnotherapy and teaching self-hypnosis.

Jesse Hlady – Photographer – Jesse Hlady Photography
Jesse has been specializing in portraiture for 10 years.  Since the arrival of is own son in 2009 Jesse has turned his focus to Maternity, Newborn & Families Portraits.  His aim is to provide something unique and artistic that captures the emotional connection between a mother and her unborn child.

Jodi Ganton – Registered Physiotherapist – Lifemark McKenzie Physiotherapy
Jodi is a registered physiotherapist who specializes in pelvic floor dysfunction.  She has particular interest in treating post-partum moms and helping them regain their fitness after baby and prevent future problems with urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.

Julia Young – Homeopathic Practitioner (DCHM) – Julia Young Homeopathy and Labour Support
Julia is a certified homeopath and doula focussing on services for women and families.  Her interest in homeopathy began with her years working in natural medicine and was highlighted with the birth of her children.  It was here she experience the great benefits of this safe, gentle and effective form of medicine.

Kate Shelton – Spa therapist/aesthetician – Tonic Spa-Tique
Kate is the owner of Tonic Spa-tique located in Fernwood Square.  The spa has a focus on quality aesthetics, pure plant based products and a walk-in brow and lash bar.

Maria Korpecky – Esthetician – Homespunspa Mobile Spa
Maria is a licensed esthetician and owner of homespunspa mobile spa.  Maria has a passion for everything spa and enjoys helping others relax and feel better by providing healing facials, manicures, pedicures and massages to people wherever they live in the Victoria BC area.

Michele Powell – Pleasure Activist – Tellmia
A trained counsellor and group facilitator, Michele now focuses her energies on her passion of encouraging and supporting people towards more fulfilling and exciting sex lives.  Her dynamic and comfortable approach to sexuality is refreshing and always a lot of fun.

Michele Mork – Registered Canadian Reflexology Therapist- West Coast Reflexology
Michele has been certified as a Foot Reflexology Therapist since 2010.  Her maternity clients have found her treatments to be relaxing and rejuvenating, relieving constipation, nausea, fatigue, back pain and insomnia.

Ranjit Sharma – Esthetician – Grace Esthetics
Tanjit has been working as an esthetician for ten years and opened Grace Esthetics, a home-based esthetics service, two years ago.  Grace Esthetics offers a full range of aesthetic services, but threading is a speciality.

Sheila Hobbs – Registered Massage Therapist – Modalities Massage Therapy
A RMT for nine years and a mom for 4, Sheila appreciates the challenges and joys of balancing motherhood with self-care.  "I can only care for others if I care for myself."

Stephanie Curran & Rachelle Goulet – Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine – Elements of Health Centre
Stephanie and Rachelle are both mothers and licensed practitioners of acupuncture and Chinese medicine; they both have a special interest in treating women’s health issues and have completed extensive training in the treatment of fertility and obstetrics.

Stephanie Gillett – Registered Massage Therapist – Elements of Health Centre
Stephanie has a special interest in treating women and women’s health issues.  Stephanie takes a holistic, preventative approach to massage therapy, she believes health care is collaborative; together, you can work with her to identify both immediate and long term health care goals.

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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The Challenges of Motherhood

Last Friday, in the context of the "Mommy-Boost Month" organized by Elements of Health, I met with a lovely group of ten mothers and mothers-to-be to discuss "The Challenges of Motherhood".  One mother was still pregnant, most had babies under 6 months and the most experience mother there had a school-aged child and a toddler.

The Challenges of Motherhood are what I talk about with moms every week in the Mothering Touch Pregnancy and Baby Groups.  But this time, instead of just pushing the same ideas around and sharing with each other, I thought we should collect the ideas and publish them to let other parents know how we feel about this very difficult job.  So at the end of the discussion, each of the mothers wrote her biggest challenge down and I promised to collect them all and put them on my blog.  Below is the list we came up with.

I so sympathize with these feelings.  Motherhood is such a central experience in a woman’s life, we want SO badly to do an excellent job!  And yet we often feel that we are losing ourselves and our relationships in the process.

The Greatest Challenges of Motherhood

  • Staying connected with myself separate from my role as a mother.
  • LETTING GO.  Letting go of everything: ideas about time, ideas about achievement, ideas about perfection, ideas about motherhood.
  • Filling each day.  Loneliness.  Feeling like I’m doing enough to stimulate my baby.
  • Fatigue.  Not having the time and energy to care for myself.
  • Isolation.  Missing adult conversation.
  • Motherhood can be lonely and overwhelming.  There just isn’t enough support.  It’s hard not living up to expectations.
  • Knowing whose advice to take, what book to listen to.
  • Knowing what to do with my baby, making sure that I’m stimulating him enough.
  • Feeling like I’m fulfilling my duties as a Mum and staying at home: keeping the house tidy and cooking with a baby.
  • Connecting with other "like" women.  Smaller casual encounters are needed to form stronger bonds and make real friends.
  • Adjusting from being an independent professional to have a completely dependent child that I am at home with 24/7.
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Emotional Availability

This article in the Globe and Mail, Want Baby to Sleep?  Be “Emotionally Available”, jumped out at me because I spend quite a lot of my time listening to parents tell me about their sleep woes with their babies and toddlers.  The article reports on the cleverly-named "Study of Infants’ Emergent Sleep Trajectories" (SIESTA).  Dr Douglas Teti, a professor of human development and psychology at Penn State University conducted a three-year longitudinal study looking at how parents put babies 1-24 months to bed.  He found that the bed-time ritual itself did not predict how well babies slept at night as much as the WAY the parents (all mothers in this study) put their babies to sleep.  He found that more “emotionally available” mothers had babies who slept better.

Sleeping

It could be that this is a case of circular reasoning.  Mothers who are haggard and depressed from lack of sleep are much less likely to be emotionally available.  So we may have a chicken-and-egg thing going on here.  Babies who have difficulty sleeping long stretches have mothers who are more tired and more miserable and less likely to be able to find the emotional resources to be available to their babies at the end of a long day.  Anyone who has had a small child knows that awful feeling of desperately patting and bouncing a baby to sleep, thinking only of the blessed relief of being able to go and rest ourselves.  It’s SO difficult in that context to continue to be a kind and tender and emotionally generous parent!

On the other hand, Dr Teti has a good point in saying that it is HOW we do the bed-time thing rather than WHAT we do that helps our children to sleep.  I work with parents who co-sleep and parents who don’t; parents who let babies cry-it-out and parents who never let the baby make a single peep; parents who take six months to teach their baby to sleep at night and parents who take six days.  I am very sure that what matters most to our children is that their parents feel confident and relaxed about the parenting decisions they make.  If a parent is happy and comfortable with her/his approach to bedtime and sleep, the parent is much more likely to be able to be really consistent and the baby is much more likely to feel safe and relaxed too.  The decisions we make about how we run our families need to be suited to our physical and emotional situation and based on our own intuitions and values.  So how I parent will necessarily be different from how my best friend parents, even if we share a lot of the same values, because our personalities and families are different.

I believe the most important thing we can do at bedtime to help our babies fall asleep feeling safe is to TALK!  When you cuddle your baby to drowsiness you say things like: “It’s night time now.  Everyone is sleeping.  Mummy is sleeping and your friend Josephine and her mummy are sleeping and the bunnies and the birdies are sleeping.  And you’re going to cuddle up in your nice bed and sleep well and in the morning we’ll go to the park…”   As you talk you keep yourself focussed on the baby, and focussed on the message which is “It’s sleeptime”. 
And the sound of your voice is cosy and quiet and teaches your baby that even as your body moves away from her, your voice keeps some contact and provides reassurance and safety.

Keep talking.

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Postpartum Dads

The answer I got from the counsellor was, "Now is not the time for you.  Now is the time to take care of your wife."

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that it’s not just women who suffer from depression around the time of a new baby.  Researchers have found that 10% of men suffer from both prenatal and postpartum depression, which can manifest as aggression and impulsiveness.  It is a topic that can be difficult for fathers to talk about, and leaves many feeling alone and isolated.  Read the Globe and Mail article here.

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A Parents’ Guide To Packing

Summer’s almost here and that means camping trips, visits to grandparents and holidays near and far.  Here’s a packing list we think is useful for parents whether you’re just going up-island for the weekend, or travelling the globe.

Medicine & Toiletries

  • Thermometer
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Nail clippers
  • Emery board
  • Baby Tylenol or Motrin
  • Nasal aspirator
  • Infant saline drops
  • Your favourite diaper cream
  • Gravol
  • Q-tips for applying meds
  • Band-aids in various sizes
  • Unscented moisturizer
  • Polysporin

Other items for your carry-on/diaper bag

  • Disposable diaper wipes
  • Diapers (if you use cloth diapers… bringing a few eco-friendly disposables just for emergencies is a good idea)
  • A diaper change pad
  • Receiving blanket
  • Small picture books and non-rolling toys
  • Sippy cup or water bottle
  • Two changes of pants; 1-2 changes of socks and 1-2 changes of shirts; 2 pairs of pjs.
  • 1-2 good coverage bibs
  • 3 face clothes, and a small plastic bag for wet ones.
  • Barf bags
  • A portable DVD player with headphones
  • Magnetic travel games or decks of cards – 52 Fun Things to Do on the Plane by Lynn Gordon is a neat deck of cards with plenty of activities to keep kids of all ages busy
  • Your child’s favourite comfort object – blankie, soother, teddy, etc

Dressing for the Plane – choose clothing for the easiest possible diaper change/trip to the toilet, for example:

  • Pants with snaps through the crotch that don’t need to be taken off completely
  • An undershirt that is just a shirt, not a onesie
  • If using pjs, one-piece zippered ones are great
  • A sweater or extra shirt that buttons so that you can just undo it, or take it right off easily

Tip: If your travels are taking you out of the country, we’ve found Prism Imaging on Fort Street to be the most child-friendly place in Victoria to get passport photos done.

And to make traveling even more fun for kids, check out the Trunki wheeled luggage system for kids (pictured above and to the right), kids can pack it, ride it or even be pulled on it – way to make that airport time fun!  We’ve got the Trunki in stock in every color from pink to tiger-stripe – bring your kids in for a test drive!