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110315_BlogHeader_Sweet PeaBlogImages_Ice Cream SandwichesSummer is here and nothing kicks off warm weather fun like a long weekend! Bathing suits are on, fireworks and cookouts are planned, and children (and adults) across the country are searching for a cool, refreshing treat that will result in sticky faces and satisfied tummies. We’ve found the perfect treat that is both easy to make and kid friendly!

Ice cream sandwiches are a great way to combine a cool blast with a crunchy treat. Sweet Pea Organic Cookies are a favourite among both young and old at our house and with their 100% whole grain organic ingredients, they are a great way to make a special treat a little healthier and are the perfect size to make a kid portion. Available in four different flavours, you can customize your ice cream sandwiches to build any combination of flavours you like, satisfying even the pickiest of palates.

A fun activity to do with kids, try making some this weekend (bonus points if you decorate them red and white for Canada Day.) My helper loved making these almost as much as she enjoyed eating them!

Here is how we made our Sweet Pea Ice Cream Sandwiches:

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone non stick mat like Silpat.

2. Line up bowls of your favourite ice cream toppings to decorate with.

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3. Pick your favourite Sweet Pea Cookie flavours (we especially love the Strawberry Vanilla and Sweet Apple) and line an even amount of them with tops facing down on your baking sheet.

BlogImages_On Pan

4. Using a 1 Tbsp Ice Cream Scoop, place a scoop on half of all the cookies. Using a scoop will help keep a consistent amount on each cookie and will also keep the ice cream contained. Work quickly because this can be melty business!

5. Once you have placed the ice cream on the first set of cookies, top each scoop with a plain cookie, pressing gently to spread/flatten the ice cream to cover the bottom cookie surface.

6. Place the entire tray in the freezer to firm up for at least an hour (the waiting is the hardest part!)

7. Once your sandwiches have firmed up, take them out of the freezer one by one to decorate. You can roll them in sprinkles, chocolate chips, nuts, fruit- just about anything you like to pair with your ice cream! Cover the surface of the ice cream sides and then place it back in the freezer while you continue to decorate the rest.

BlogImages_Done cookies8. Now that you have tortured your tiny helper long enough as you wait for these to be ready, enjoy!

BlogImages_Elle Ready

If you try out this recipe this weekend, leave us a comment or a picture and let us know how it turned out! As a special treat, all Sweet Pea Organic Cookies are on sale this weekend so grab them while you can! If you have don’t like ice cream we can’t be friends the cookies are also delicious on their own! Cheers to the long weekend! Happy Canada Day Everyone!

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Posted in 2016, Family, Feeding, Product Reviews, Seasonal | Tagged , , , , , , , |

Safety Series: Summertime

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babysafetyseries-header

babysafetyseries-subhead-summerSummer is finally here! I know it’s been elusive all over Canada, with just the right amount of teasing to drive us insane. Summer is a wonderful time but comes with some safety concerns, just as winter does here in Canada.

The first of these concerns: the sun. A little sun is always great, but be careful not to overdo it, especially when your babes are quite little. The best way to keep your little ones protected from the sun is to avoid the peak times of the day – the sun’s rays are strongest between 11am and 4pm. If you have a toddler, that’s usually lunchtime and nap time so that works out nicely.

A few more sun tips:

Sunscreen

For infants over 6 months, use a sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays – bonus points for a sunscreen that isn’t full of a bunch of garbage. You can check the EWG rating for one that is free of junk ingredients.

Cover up

Those sweet little one or two piece traditional swimsuits for girls (especially) are so cute but provide hardly any coverage and therefore sun protection. When kids are in and out of water, it’s hard to ensure that their sunscreen is always perfectly applied. Make sure they’re wearing a hat (ideally with a full brim) and a swimsuit that actually covers their skin.

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Shade

Get in the shade! Our backyard has hardly ANY shade during the peak daytime hours so sometimes I had to create my own, although somewhat crude. I suggest something more sustainable than holding an umbrella. You can get swimming pools and outdoor toys with canopies on them. Don’t discount the value of the shade! What if you’re a sun goddess? Well I used to setup the blanket so half was in the shade and half was in the sun.

Sunshine1Hydration

Stay hydrated! I’m looking at you, breastfeeding mamas! Keep in mind your little ones may be a bit thirstier than usual, may “ask” (demand) milk more often. It’s important to stay hydrated in the sun at the best of times, let alone when you have someone stealing all your liquids. Help your older children to stay by offering water often and making sure it is always nearby. We bought a Skip Hop Straw Bottle that my son loves the act of drinking out of and it helps him to get more water with less effort than his Wow Cup (although we still adore the Wow Cup). And psssst, if you’re out and your child drinks all the water you brought, or it was just one of those days and you forgot it, any coffee shop will happily oblige with some water for a little one.

Water

Water table, backyard pool, splash pad, sprinklers… incorporate water play into your outdoor activities to help cool off. Never leave little ones unsupervised around water – I wrote a whole blog post on this and you can find it here.

Get Inside

Lots of homes around the country don’t have air conditioning (I’m looking at you, Alberta!) because the need for it is so slight that it is an unnecessary cost to the homeowners. So what to do when it’s hot inside and hot outside? Well that’s a dilemma indeed! You can try going to a movie, depending on the age of your kids – perhaps the “Stars and Strollers” afternoon movies would be best. Go to the mall, indoor play places or run a few errands in air conditioned stores.

Posted in 2016, Safety, Seasonal | Tagged , , , , , , , |

Potty Training Essentials

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Blog_EssentialsWithEmily_HeaderAfter six years and three kids, our household is officially diaper-free! I still need to pinch myself, because after years and years of diapers, usually diapering two kiddos at a time; it’s hard to believe we are down to just one child, using one diaper for over nights. It’s so surreal. And we didn’t get here quickly, or easily.
I’ve read all the books and tried all the methods, and I can assure you that not one technique will work across the board. Always be wary of a method that promises perfect results in a set period of time (especially if that period of time is a day or two!). Kids are unique, their bodies are all different, and each child matures at their own pace. Instead, I’d like to share some guidelines and general ideas surrounding potty training, in hopes of making your potty training journey a smoother ride.

BlogImages_Potty1Is my child ready to be potty trained? Here are a few signs that they may be:
• Does he tell you when he’s going pee or poop?

If a child starts to tell you they’re going, they have the interest and awareness needed to potty train. Some kids just don’t care if they’re in a dirty diaper, and that tends to mean they’re not concerned enough to potty train.

• Does she communicate verbally?

This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but potty training is infinitely easier when your child is verbal. For our first child, who was a late talker, we waited until she was verbal before potty training, even though it meant she was almost three. Our second child was verbal sooner, so we potty trained sooner (maybe too soon, more on that in a minute!), and our third child wasn’t verbal when she was potty trained but she showed such interest we went for it anyway. It’s totally possible to potty train a non-verbal child, but it’s easier if they can at least say the basic vocabulary of potty training: Go! Pee! Poo!

• Can he easily remove pants and underwear?

If your child can’t easily take off their bottoms, they’re going to have a hard time rushing to the potty. One tip would be to make sure they have elastic wasted bottoms that are easy to remove, or just to let them go around in underwear while you’re potty training. During this season, overalls are your enemy and leggings, your best friend.

• Is she over age two?

We’ve all heard those stories (usually from women a generation older than us…) about how their child was potty trained before they were two. I’m not sure why people think this is helpful information to share, and I’m also not sure that I believe them! It’s not a competition, and if you potty train too early you may find yourself frustrated and inconsistent as your child just isn’t ready yet. This happened with our son. I was one month away from delivering our third child and didn’t want to deal with potty training when I had a newborn to care for, so I rushed potty training, before he was ready. He showed some signs of being ready, but not all of them, and we pushed ahead anyway. He went days and days with little to no success, and then I’d take a few days off from exhaustion (or running out of bottoms), and we’d start up again. This went on for months and every day I wished I’d simply waited until he was a bit older. An almost-three-year-old is light-years ahead of a not-yet-two-year-old developmentally, and potty training them will be so much easier.

If your child meets these markers, they may be ready to give potty training a go.

BlogImages_Potty2If you’re ready to take the plunge, here are a few tips when you’re starting to potty train:

• Get a potty, or two.

If you have a two-story home, it’s easier to have one potty on each level. We used the BabyBjorn potty and loved it for its high back and simple design.

• Let them pick out new underwear to get them excited about potty training!

Our kids loved this! I’d say a child needs around eight pairs of underwear if you do laundry every-other day (accounting for accidents).

• Clear your schedule

Potty training requires all of your attention and if you’re not consistent, your child won’t grasp it. If your child is truly ready to potty train, you should be alright to get back to your normal routines within a week or so, but for the week that you’re really investing in potty training you’ve got to hunker down. No play dates, no grocery runs, no park visits.

• Get them REALLY hydrated

They need to learn to go to the potty when they feel the urge, so you’ve got to create that urge frequently. This is the time to go nuts and give your kids all the watered-down juice they could ever want!

• Ask them if they have to go to the potty ALL THE TIME.

You will feel like a broken record but you need to give them the opportunity to assess their needs and go to the bathroom, and kids are easily distracted! I asked my kids every 5-10 minutes. If they say no, leave them be, but if it’s been 20 minutes, it’s not optional. Tell them, “Ok, now we’re going to give it a try – even if nothing comes out, its good to try. You never know what will happen!”

• Celebrate with them when they’re successful, stay neutral when they fail

There is no space for shaming or disciplining when a child is learning a new and very difficult task. We celebrate when they go in the potty and make sure they know how proud we are of them, but when they fail, we simply clean up the mess and remind them, “next time, you’ll go in the potty, right?” If they start wetting themselves and they’re away from the potty, rush them over to the potty to finish up there. Even if nothing gets in the potty, it’s connecting the dots for them that pee and poop belong in the potty, not in their pants.

With these tips, I hope potty training isn’t too traumatic at your house. As I reminded myself day in and day out when I was potty training, they will get this! Accidents will happen, and overnight dryness may take much longer, but they won’t be wetting themselves when they’re eighteen. And one day we’ll long for the season when our parenting challenges could be so easily cleaned up with paper towel and a smile. Try to stay positive, as your child is looking to you to model how he should feel about this – his successes, failures, and struggles. And keep the end goal in mind – soon you will be diaper and wipes free!

Emily is a Montreal-based writer and blogger, but most importantly, a mom of three littles (age five and under). She geeks out over cloth diapers, lattes, and will do just about anything to travel. You can find her on Instagram @emmorrice where she profusely overgrams pictures of her meals, kids and city. 

Posted in 2016, Life With Baby, Mom Talk, Potty Training | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |
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151014_BlogHeader_Watercolour Series

In the second edition of our Watercolour Collection Blog Series, we welcome Snuggle Bugz owner and Mama, Tanya, to review the BabyBjörn Balance Soft Bouncer. Available in exciting new colours exclusive to Snuggle Bugz in Canada, this bouncer runs on fun alone- no batteries required! Read on to find out Tanya’s take on this product. 

Blog_Watercolour BouncerThe BabyBjörn Balance Soft Bouncer is absolutely incredible! I know you often hear about how amazing so many different products are, and how they will “change your life” but I must say, this bouncer really is worth the two thumbs up that I constantly am raising for it. As an owner of Snuggle Bugz, and a mom of three, I see tonnes, literally tonnes, of products all the time and pretty much can have my pick of any product I would like for my babies – and the BabyBjörn Balance Soft Bouncer is always on my must have list and one of my top recommendations to new parents.

There are a lot of things I look at when considering an item for my babies, and as much as I want something to be aesthetically pleasing, if it doesn’t do more than that it doesn’t make the cut. I need something that is durable, safe, easy to clean and want it to have a life past 2-3 months. Not only does this bouncer cover my must haves, it is also pretty nice on the eyes! Here are my absolute favourite things about this product:

  1. Self Bouncing: With the slightest motion in the seat, from baby kicking legs or moving slightly, the seat gently bounces to soothe baby. I often would sit in front of my baby and play peak-a-boo or read a book without having to also rock her with my hands. It was such a bonding experience to always be able to fully engage with her as she was sitting and bouncing in her chair.
  1.  Compact: I absolutely love how simple it is to fold into a flat position to make for easy storage and travel. Our family was taking a vacation with some great friends when my baby was 3 months old, and they checked with us to make sure we were going to bring “that amazing bouncer we use”! So, of course we packed it up and took it on our flight to Florida with us. We used it every single day, she would sit and giggle in the shade as she bounced herself and we BBQ’d lunch or as I was putting one of the older siblings down for a nap.
  1.  Adjustable Positioning for 0-2 years:  This seat lasted so much longer than a few months. I have three children so trying to keep them out of baby sister’s seat is nearly impossible. Because of the three seat levels, this seat can be used for both babies and toddlers up to 2 years old. Without fail, anytime our baby was out of the seat our 2 year old was running over so that she could sit in it like a “big girl.”
  1.  Comfortable : I always compared my baby sitting in this bouncer to perhaps feeling as she did when she was cocooned in my womb. The material formed around her and gave her great back, neck and body support while still being surrounded by a soft comfortable fabric.  I also love the selection of fabrics, especially the mesh option, as it helped wick away the moisture from my sweaty lil’ babe. In addition to the mesh, they also have jersey and organic cotton, so there really is a fabric for every baby. The best part of all with this fabric- it is easily removed for cleaning! We all know that babies are messy, so this is a MUST in my books!
  1.  Styling: This bouncer continues to adhere to BabyBjörn’s commitment to a sense of  style, created with your home in mind. It comes in a variety of colours, so if you’re like me, and want it to just simply blend into your home decor they have a colour for you. If you’re more adventurous you can pick one of the awesome new Watercolour Collection shades in colours like Turquoise Turtle, Ice Blue Fish, and Soft Pink.

Blog_WatercolourThe BabyBjörn Balance Soft Bouncer continues to be one of the registry and baby gear items I recommend the most to friends and family. If you are looking for a more compact seat for a smaller space or another price point, BabyBjörn also makes a Mini Bouncer to suit your needs! Equally portable and packed with the same bouncing comfort and style, I am so happy there are even more options to choose from.

So much more than a baby bouncer, this product brings peace of mind, adaptability and comfort and two big thumbs up from this Mama!

Posted in 2016, Product Reviews | Tagged , , , , , |

Cloth Diapering Essentials

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Blog_EssentialsWithEmily_HeaderAs of this year we are officially a diaper-free household, after six years of cloth diapering three kids. I’m not going to lie, it feels amazing! By choosing cloth, our family saved thousands of dollars over the course of three kids! We also felt good about our decision, knowing that we weren’t contributing to the 1-2 tons of waste that each child sends to landfills during their two years in disposable diapers.  We still used the occasional disposable diaper, mind you. But knowing that it takes 250-500 years for a diaper to decompose didn’t sit well with us.

Thankfully cloth diapering has come a long way from our grandmother’s day! That said, there are still challenges with cloth diapering. Cloth diapering is certainly more laborious than disposable diapers, though it becomes second-nature quickly. It’s a choice I would make again in a heartbeat, but I had to get over a few personal objections at first.

Blog_EssentialsWithEmily_1Is cloth diapering gross?

Simply put, yes. But news flash: So is all diapering. There’s nothing sanitary and tidy about poop, pee, and everything in between. At first I thought choosing cloth diapering was making the gross choice, but I soon realized that all diapering is gross! Breast-fed babies, formula-fed babies, babies who eat solids – none of this is enjoyable, friends.

A better question is how much more disgusting is cloth diapering than regular diapering? Minimally. A simple wet diaper is exactly the same, regardless of your diaper choice. With cloth, you only have the difference of tossing the used diaper in the laundry bin, or the garbage. Dirty diapers are slightly worse. I toss poop in the toilet for both kinds of diapers – who wants feces sitting around waiting for garbage day?, but it’s essential for cloth diapering to pre-flush poop and then toss the diaper in the laundry.

Is cloth diapering complicated?

This is a fair objection, as it can be. I used bum Genius and Apple Cheeks, which are two-part diapers, including an outer layer/cover and the absorbent insert. When you are tossing your diapers into the laundry, you need to take the insert out of the cover, and likewise, after laundering, you need to put the insert in the diaper cover before using again. These steps become habit in no time, but it can seem complicated at first.

Isn’t cloth diapering just as expensive?

Absolutely not. Even if you have only one child using your cloth diapers, you will save money compared to using disposables, but if you have more than one child, and can re-use all of your cloth diapers on your second child (and so on), you start to see incredible savings.

Let’s say, on average, disposables cost $0.40/diaper (I’m assuming you get them on sale sometimes, too). If you average 6 diapers a day, and potty train by age 2 (and that’s early!), you’re spending over $1,750 on disposable diapers for one baby. Want another kid? That’s over $3,500 for two kids, assuming you buy diapers on sale and that they’re potty trained early. Yikes.

Cloth diapers can be an intimidating up-front cost, but once you buy a high quality, new stash, that’s it. You can reuse them all the time, for many children. Plus you can find great quality diapers second hand too! They are also a great item to add to your baby registry!

BlogImages_Cloth DiaperingFAQ

How many diapers do I need?

You can buy the Apple Cheeks full-time kit which covers everything you will need from birth to potty training, in one kit. This is definitely the simplest route.  I was alright doing laundry every other day, and found that I needed slightly fewer inserts in my diaper stash, so I recommend:

12 size 1 covers

12 size 2 covers

12 inserts (which you buy in a 2-pack)

No matter what brand you’re using, it’s nice to have at least 12 diapers so you aren’t doing laundry every day.

How do I wash cloth diapers?

Every brand will have their own exact directions on washing, so be sure to check those first. In general, cloth diapers are sensitive to laundry soaps and only need a small amount of cloth-diaper-safe soap per wash. Cloth diapers are best cleaned with a lot of water and a little bit of soap.

Never dry diaper covers! They take no time to air-dry, but the dryer can damage the fabric. The inserts, however, are perfectly fine dried on high heat.

To make cleaning diapers easier, you can buy flushable liners, to catch solids, and employ the use of a diaper sprayer for washing out really messy diapers in your toilet.

Do you use cloth diapers all the time?

We used cloth diapers every day, including during naps and outings. Once our kids started sleeping 12 hours through the night, we switched to disposables at night, and we also use them when traveling. We also felt that cloth diapering was our conviction, so we didn’t want to force it on others who were caring for our children, which meant babysitters, day care, and Sunday school was disposable diaper territory. The nice thing about only needing disposables the odd time is that we can wait for them to go on sale and never pay full price!

Emily is a Montreal-based writer and blogger, but most importantly, a mom of three littles (age five and under). She geeks out over cloth diapers, lattes, and will do just about anything to travel. You can find her on Instagram @emmorrice where she profusely overgrams pictures of her meals, kids and city. 

Posted in 2016, Cloth Diapering, Family | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |