Sunday, April 27, 2008

Kids do say the darndest things

Like the jargon of any organized group, families all seem to have their own secret language that only the members share – and it’s the children who bring the unqiue words to us.

The funny little expressions they use as they are learning ways to express themselves are often fleeting, but sometimes they stick. Just ask my uncle, Carlo, who is still called “Caco” as my sister reaches her late twenties. It could have been worse, though I’m not sure that Coco would be much better than Caca.

Since these are so fleeting, I thought I’d take the chance now to share a few of Isabelle’s particularly cute or funny ones:

- greffast: as in “Daddy made me pancakes for greffast”

- dewey: not the decimal system, but rather “dirty”, now largely outgrown, but we heard it a lot during the fastidiously clean phase that preceded her current ‘devil may care’ hygiene rules

- eye-spy down: as in “pineapple eye-spy down cake”

- eye-spy up: the reverse of eye-spy down

- mamote control: oddly, Isabelle could say “télé-commande” in French well before she could say it in English and just recently dropped mamote term

So, readers, share your favourite cute ones with me…

Friday, April 25, 2008

Out of my bedroom

Pierre Elliot Trudeau famously once said that the state did belong in the bedrooms of the nation. I’m increasingly beginning to believe that the medical establishment ought to stay out of them as well, at least as relates to how young families divide their sleeping quarters and activities.

Sleep (or lack of it) is the perennial topic of conversation among new mothers – it arises invariably and, like so many parenting topics, there are camps and there is limited overlap between them.

In broad strokes, the cry-it-out camp believes that infants/young children can be trained to sleep alone for long periods and teaching this is a parent’s duty. The family bed camp believes that infants/young children develop nighttime independence at their own pace and that parents should respond to their children’s needs whether the hour is reasonable or not. There are experts who claim to be somewhere in the middle, but frankly, either you think it’s ok to let a baby cry himself to sleep or you don’t and there’s not a lot of gray.

Three guesses which camp I fall into and the first two don’t count… Yes, our king-size bed is maxed out between the two of us, Thomas and sometimes Isabelle. Yes, there are times when Dan or I are hobbled because we spent the night with a strategically placed little foot between our ribs. For us, this is the way to maximize the total amount of sleep that we all get and still ensure that everyone’s needs are being met.

Bed-sharing isn’t necessary, but it’s a survival strategy – I don’t do sleep-deprivation gracefully. I recall standing in the hallway to our room when Isabelle was a few weeks old, asking Dan where he put the baby as she lay cradled in my arms. That was the night she came into our bed - until she set up shop in her big girl bed down the hall when she was a bit past two. This was around the same time she weaned

This is the part that frustrates me about the experts who suggest that co-sleeping is taboo and that babies should learn to self-soothe. It is entirely unreasonable to suggest that a parent (whether they are working outside the home or not) should be up and down the hall multiple times per night. The risk of falling asleep with baby in a chair or tripping on the stairs in exhaustion is obvious to anyone who has ever felt that kind of exhaustion.

It is also unreasonable to suggest that every baby is able to take the necessary nutrition in their waking hours and does not “need” to eat. I’ve now nursed two children into their second year and can tell you unequivocally that their nighttime nursing sessions are when their intake is highest. If the goal is to continue nursing until age 2 or beyond, as the evidence would suggest is best for mom and baby, health-care practitioners need to start recognizing that night nursing can be key to maintaining nursing in the busy toddler and stop treating normal nightwaking as a “sleep disorder”.

Do you have strategies for dealing with nighttime parenting?

Monday, April 21, 2008

BPA Bottle Returns: better late than never

With Health Canada finally taking the sensible position on BPA, there are lots of worried parents out there, both because of what they may have been outwittingly exposed their children to and because of the significant cost of replacing all their bottles, sippy cups and even breast pumps. Add to this the fact that the #7 plastic is not easily recycled and most municipalities don't accept it and what you've got a big heap of garbage!

There is a huge long list of items that will now be on the "banned" list, but rest assured that if you have Medela pumps/bottles, you're fine.

On the other hand, if you have Avent, you can be sure that their #7 plastic does contain BPAs and that includes the Isis Hand Pump (which totally stinks, because I have one and really like it). Other manufacturers include: Dr. Brown's, Playtex and Gerber.

This blog has a pretty good explanation of what BPA is and why it's bad stuff:

The whole thing really stinks, but there is some good news in all of it: Zellers, Wal-Mart and London Drugs have all agreed to offer store credit for the now-banned items. While it's only a store credit and it doesn't negate the hassle of returning them (or the worry at having used them at all), it's a good PR move on their part. No receipts or packaging - if you have trouble be sure to ask the store manager, as this is a national campaign.


Our site is running a couple contests that I thought readers might enjoy:


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

To die for tie-die

Ok, sorry for the cheesy title, but tie-die is very in this year (so they tell me!) and my friend Kate makes very, very cool tye-die stuff in all sorts of patterns from infant all the way up to adult.

Plus, lots of her things are made with re-purposed t-shirts: giving new life to stuff that would just end getting thrown out, so they're green even though they're rainbow.

Check out her facebook page: or email her at for payment and shipping details.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Green Stuff

While the jury is still out on the effect of eating certain foods in pregnancy, it’s well-known that foods that mom eats during breastfeeding affect the taste of her milk. From the very first nursing, a breastfed baby is learning about the unique diet her family follows and receives a gentle introduction to the world of tastes. Researchers believe that this is part of the reason that breastfed babies typically accept a more varied diet and are less likely to be picky eaters.

Despite everything parents do to ensure their children eat a healthy, varied diet, pickiness often occurs in the preschool years. Isabelle ate every vegetable we offered her from asparagus to zucchini in her early years, but developed a real suspicion of anything new and “green stuff” as she approached her third birthday. This is quite a natural phase as children begin to make choices and define their own preferences.

Parents should continue to model good eating habits and offer healthy choices from which their toddlers can pick. If everything on the table is healthy, it will no harm if they only eat one dish. If all else fails, sneaking some ‘green’ into a tomato sauce is as easy as buying a hand-blender and making sure that they aren't in the kitchen while you're making the sauce. (Just don't tell Isabelle about this one - she's already a bit suspicious!)

Friday, April 4, 2008

On the road again...

Add about 1/3 to the normal time it takes to complete a trip. For example, we drove to Boston to visit friends when Isabelle was 5 months old. The trip normally took us a leisurely 8 hours pre-baby; with baby, it was a solid 12 hours. If possible, try to have one parent sitting in the back seat with the kid(s). Try to plan your departure for a time when baby isn’t asleep – that way you get some “play” time, then (hopefully) a nap before you stop for the first time.

Travelling with a breastfed baby is infinitely easier – all she needs is mama. Never be tempted to take baby out of his car seat when driving – much as his cries may be heart-wrenching. Pull off at the next safe spot and have a nurse while dad stretches his legs. If your child is older, bringing along some special snacks that they really enjoy can buy you a little more driving time.

If your trip is longer than 3 hours or so, try planning your route so that there is an attraction somewhere along the way – it will give you something to look forward to that isn’t as far as the final destination. Bringing along an extra pair of hands can be a great help during the drive and at your destination – whether it’s grandma or teenage cousin. Just be sure your “helper” is someone you want to spend your vacation with or it could be no help at all.

My only plug is that we carry a great little toddler travel pillow that’s ideal for road trips.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The best use for a barbie...

As promised, here's the finished product for Isabelle's 4th birthday: her mermaid princess cake (who knew I would end up with a girly girl?). I'm pretty proud of it - it turned out to be quite the centerpiece. Plus we got to hack a Barbie doll in half, so two good causes were achieved.
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