Browsed by
Category: Babywearing

5 Tips for successful hiking with small kids

5 Tips for successful hiking with small kids

Hiking together is something that Super Dad and I have enjoyed doing since the very start of our relationship.  We often talked about how we would continue hiking and having an active lifestyle even with small kids.  Now three years into that time in our lives, we have learned a few key things to make for a successful outing for everyone.

In no particular order…

  1. Pack endless snacks and water: this is basically a rule of thumb for us anytime we leave the house but even more so when we’re taking off on an adventure.  Everyone is happier and willing to hike further with full bellies.  Typical snacks for us include crackers + veggies + hummus, apple slices, cheese slices, sandwiches, granola bars etc.
  2. Bring a well fitting carrier:  It’s no secret that I am a big fan of wearing my babies but I truly don’t know how we would have accomplished some of our adventures without a well fitting carrier.  By ‘well fitting’ I mean both for you and for baby.  Ottawa has an amazing babywearing community both online (Facebook: Ottawa Babywearing Group) and in person (Milkface and Belly Laughs).  My ‘go-to’ carriers for a hike is a standard Tula for Jude (13mo) and a toddler Tula for Clyde (3yrs) but it’s worth trying on a few options to find out what’s the best fit for your family.  Clyde always walks as much as he can manage and then goes up in the carrier for the home stretch if he needs it.
  3. Play games along the way: sometimes our greatest challenge is to maintain a decent pace when Clyde is walking.  He is either walking slowly or stopping to look at every. single. rock.  Games like ‘I Spy’ or scavenger hunts are a great way to get him moving in the right direction.  A walking stick (read: a big branch that we pick up on the trail) is also always a big success.
  4. Travel in packs:  we love to extend the invitation for others to join us on our hike.  I guess it’s like the ‘strength in number’ concept…it’s fun and the enthusiasm of hiking in a group always helps to go farther.
  5. Aim for the top and be ready to turn back at any time:  this is such a big one.  I had initially wrote ‘set realistic expectations’ but the more I thought about it, I realized that’s not at all what we do.  We always set out on our hike with the expectation of getting to the top (or the end) and we talk with Clyde about what we’ll see when we get there.  Often times we make it but sometimes, we can tell that his tank is running low and we decide to turn back early – with no hard feelings.  It’s important to aim high when you set out to do something with the kiddos because you never know but you might just make it farther than you had anticipated!  See below for two memorable hikes that we set out on with ambitious goals and made it!

Top of Cape Split (16km return hike)

Top of Luskville falls (5km return hike…40 weeks pregnant.  I went into labour on the drive home!  Read the rest of Jude’s birth story here)

Fast forward six weeks: life update!

Fast forward six weeks: life update!

hold.  the.  phone.  Has it really been over a month since I’ve last written?  I’ll admit I had to go back to the blog to see what my last entry was but it immediately felt like it was just last week that I was sitting on the back deck writing about our trip to the East coast.  In what feels like a blink of an eye, six weeks have gone by and we have been through so much change.

For starters, I cut my hair.  Like really, cut my hair.  Yikes!  A hair cut is always a shock but there’s something about a Mom bob that feels so good.  Who’s with me?

In more serious news…I’m back to work now!  I started back at my full-time job in recreation after the labour day weekend.  I was more ready than I realized to get up, get dressed and get out the door in the morning but we are all still adjusting to the transition.

Before getting back to a more ‘traditional’ routine, we were able to squeeze in a few more things into our unforgettable first summer as a family of four.

Just one week after getting home from Nova Scotia, we loaded up the truck once more with our camping gear for another 10-day tour – this time of Southern Ontario.

We joined my Dad and Step Mom for a visit in Welland, Ontario where my Dad grew up and my Aunt, Uncle and cousins live.  Clyde got to swim and ride bikes with his cousin – second cousin?  First cousin, once removed?  My cousin’s son…for anyone that understands how that works.  We drove into Niagara to see the falls and enjoyed some long overdue family time.

From there, we continued on with my Dad and Step Mom to join them in Toronto for a few days.  My Dad was staying in a hotel on business and made room for our family to tag along.  We lounged in the lobby for continental breakfasts, walked down the hall to the hotel pool and snuck back to the lobby once the kids were asleep for an ‘adults only’ Haagen Daaz.  We briefly left the comforts of hotel living to peruse the Yorkdale mall and to visit a friend from home and her two boys.  We made sure to enjoy our last sleep in the hotel knowing we were leaving the next morning for one more camping trip of the summer.

From Toronto, we carried on to Gateway Camping in Wasaga beach.  Super Dad’s sister and her family live just 20 minutes from Wasaga so the boys got to spend time with their cousins everyday.  I’m wishing this heat wave were in now had come through a month ago but we still made the best of our time by the beach.

We stopped in to see some more family in Whitby on the way home to Ottawa.  My Mom met us there and I stayed behind to join her at the Bruno Mars concert in Toronto!  We all made it back to Ottawa and this time with two of my older cousins in tow!

The last week of our summer flew by.  We unpacked, prepped meals, stained the deck, harvested the garden, shopped for fall clothes, planned Jude’s birthday party… oh yes, and bought a condo that required a full renovation…because, why not!  Honestly.

Super Dad is easily the handiest and most hard working person I know.  He, with the help of family and friends, built the house that we live in now.  Together, he and I are very interested in maintaining rental properties and stumbled on a great investment opportunity in a building we know and like!  Our hope was that it would close mid-August leaving us time to renovate before starting back to work but no such luck.  We closed on September 1st with an ambitious goal of renovating and renting by October 1st so needless to say, this month has been busy.

We are so incredibly fortunate to have grandparents nearby that are willing to help out in any capacity – whether it be childcare or building Ikea kitchen cabinets – and even family that will come from out of town with their work clothes to lay hard wood.  We are a tired family but so thrilled to be on track to meet our goal.  Before and after pictures of the condo to come!

Until then, I will leave you with these… some pictures from our sweet Jude’s first birthday party.  I’ve said it before and I will say it a thousand times over – it was the most wonderful year spent with this sweet boy.  He is gentle, funny, curious and so full of love.

Thank you for coming back to visit after six weeks of silence… I am slowly but surely getting my feet back under me and am thrilled to be back writing again.  See you all next week xo

Babywearing: sweater and coat

Babywearing: sweater and coat

The final post in my baby wearing series (for now) talks about outer layers to wear with baby.  I wore Clyde a lot in his first two years but always made it work without specific “baby wearing clothes.”  The Kangaroo sweater was something that I bought for myself when Jude was just a few weeks old and I quickly realized what I had been missing.  Keeping Jude dressed in plain clothes to go outside in a wrap or a carrier is not only one less thing to do getting out the door but it makes for a better fit for him in the wrap or carrier.  More specific information below!

Baby wearing sweater: I own the Kangaroo baby wearing sweater purchased from Belly Laughs and I can’t rave about it enough.  This sweater can be worn with baby on your front or on your back.  It is a Polyester/Rayon blend and the perfect weight for an extra layer year round.  I typically wear a size small and find this sweater to fit true to size.  I have even been able to wear it with a wrap and soft shell coat underneath with no issues.

Things to consider:  There are a few other brands you can look at including the Boba sweater or the Lenny Lamb fleece to name a few.  The only feedback that I’ve heard is that the cowl neck on the Lenny Lamb is too much fabric but I haven’t tried it myself.

Verdict:  The Kangaroo sweater has met all of my needs and then some.  If you’re wearing regularly outside, I would highly recommend choosing an outer layer that you like!

M Coat:  The M Coat is a Canadian made down-filled 3-in-1 winter coat that can be worn on its own, while pregnant or baby wearing.  I got this as a Christmas present after Jude was born so I can only speak to option 1 and 3 but I have nothing but good things to say.  I set an alert for myself on Kijiji for this coat and picked up this red one for $150!  Considering they sell new for $400+, this was a steal.  I bought it in a Medium and it fits well.  The belt ties nicely at the waist to help keep some shape when not wearing baby.  The coat also comes with a panel insert that zips in to accommodate a baby bump or a baby in carrier.  It is very warm and well made.  I dress Jude in plain clothes and wrap him with a wool wrap under this jacket and he is toasty warm when we come in.

Things to consider:  If I’m still wearing Jude a lot next fall/winter, I will upgrade to something that does back carries as well.  Likely a soft shell like this.  Having a front-only option was fine for his first winter because I often needed to shelter him from the wind anyway but having him on my back is a better vantage point for him and leaves me more hands free.  You can also shop for a coat extender like this if you already have a coat that you like!

Verdict:  A really great option for a warm and practical winter coat!  I would highly recommend watching for one second hand and shopping the $150-$200 price range.

That’s a wrap (pardon the pun) on baby wearing information for now.  In case you missed, read about my baby wearing journey here or reviews and buying guides for soft structured carriers here and wraps and ring slings here.  Please comment with questions or requests if there’s anything that’s on your mind.  I’m always happy to talk about wraps and carriers!

Baby wearing is such a short journey but one of the most fulfilling experiences I’m sharing with my boys.

Whatever your journey – enjoy the snuggles and #wearallthebabies!

Babywearing: Wraps & Ring slings

Babywearing: Wraps & Ring slings

Jude is my snuggle bug wrap baby.  With the exception of using the Moby wrap on our trip with Clyde, I had never used a woven wrap before but I knew it was something that I wanted to try with Jude.  Below are my thoughts on a few wraps that we’ve tried.  A reminder that no carrier is best for everyone and trying a few options with baby is truly the best way to find what’s most comfortable.  Check out some other tips for a great baby wearing experience, here!

Moby (Stretchy wrap):  I borrowed a Moby wrap from a friend to travel Vancouver when Clyde was three months old.  A Moby wrap is a long piece of stretchy fabric intended to carry small babies.  There are lots of similar brands including Solly Baby and Boba.  Our trip to Vancouver was my first time wearing Clyde in a wrap and I really enjoyed it.  It was great to travel with because it folded nicely into my bag and doubled as a blanket to lay him on or lay over him.  It’s machine washable making it very easy to care for!  Since stretchy wraps aren’t intended to be worn for a long time, they are highly available second hand.

Things to consider:  These stretchy wraps are intended for newborns and small babies.    They are amazing for the first few weeks and months so that baby can stay close to Mom.  Clyde was a big baby at 3mo and by the time we came home from our trip, my shoulders were really sore from wearing him.  Looking back at pictures, that was probably also due to my poor wrapping technique but we all need to start somewhere!

Verdict: A definite yes in my books!  This is the perfect option for a new baby at home.  It also buys you some time to go with baby to a store and try on some carriers to see what will be a good fit for a longer term option.

Ring Sling: A ring sling is a piece of fabric roughly 2m in length with two rings sewn into one end.  The opposite end of the fabric threads through the rings to create a pocket for your baby.  My ring sling lives in my purse and I use it almost everyday.  It is a really quick option for a cranky baby if you’re out somewhere or to use for errands.

Things to consider: Prices range from $50-$200 and beyond.  The main difference in pricing is the type of fabric used and in turn how soft and supportive it is.  You can buy a ring sling already made in varying lengths or you can buy a woven wrap and have it converted by a local converter.  To some extent, you will get what you pay for with respect to support, ease of use and comfort but as with anything, there is a happy medium.  Ring slings also come in a variety of shoulder styles – information on that here.  As with soft structured carriers, try a few different types before buying.

Verdict:  If I had only two options for carriers, it would likely be a Tula and a good ring sling.

Woven Wrap: A woven wrap is a piece of fabric ranging from 2m-5m+ intended to carry your baby through a variety of front, side or back carries.  With the exception of a brief stint with the Moby wrap, this style of carrying was new to me for Jude.  When he was born, Clyde was just two years old and I had this vision of myself wrapping Jude on and chasing Clyde around.  We are five months into being a team of three while Adam’s at work and this is still what most days look like around here.  Woven wraps have a wide price range and take into consideration the fabric(s) it’s made from, the length of the wrap, whether it’s handwoven or machine woven, how many are available and personal preference.

Things to consider:  Brace yourself. I bought my first wrap with the intention of it being my sole “all-purpose” wrap but I caught the bug and am now heavily invested – financially and emotionally – in woven fabrics.  Be careful, it happens fast.  Also know that wrapping isn’t very family friendly.  The learning curve is steep and the size of the fabric can be overwhelming.  If you’re hoping to get Dad and/or other family members involved in wearing, I would recommend investing in a ring sling and/or ssc first.

Verdict:  Wrapping Jude has become one of the highlights of my journey as a Mom so far.  It is both a hobby and a convenience that he and I love equally.  If you’re at all interested in learning to wrap, I would strongly encourage you to give it a try!

Wrap Buying Guide

No matter what you decide to use, I highly recommend buying second hand.  See my thoughts on that here.  Good sources include Kijiji (tip: set an alert!) or a variety of Facebook groups: OBG FSOT SpaceCanadian Babywearing FSOT SwapCanadian Babywearing on a Budget (nothing over $100!).  Do yourself a favour and read the rules or “pinned post” for each group to ensure you have a good experience.  The guidelines are often the same amongst groups and may involve joining a sister group first, having a feedback link or specific requirements when posting.  I know that it may sound complicated but it’s really not so bad – the information is all there at the top of each page.

When you see something that you like on Facebook, it’s best to ask questions via a private message.  Standard practice is to comment “pm” on the picture and then send a message to the person’s inbox.  By commenting “pm” you’re letting them know to check their inbox for your message.  Here are a few good questions to ask when purchasing a wrap second hand:

  • What is the size of the wrap?  What is the STIH (soft tape in hand) measurement?
  • Do you have action shot and flat shots of the wrap?
  • What is the condition of the wrap?  Any stains, pulls or flaws?

Ultimately, any purchases are “buyer beware” so be sure to ask questions and give it a once-over before handing over your money.

If you are not buying local and don’t have a chance to see the carrier in person, it’s highly recommended to pay using PayPal so that you are protected with their insurance.  PayPal fees are 2.9% of the total amount being paid and it gets charged to the seller.  Sometimes the seller will include this in their price by listing it as “ppd” – typically indicating their price includes the cost of shipping and PayPal fees.  If it’s not included in their price, you can try to negotiate by splitting the cost of fees or offer to pay it yourself.  If the wrap doesn’t arrive or arrives and is not as described by the seller, you can file a claim through PayPal and they will mediate to ensure you get your money back in full.

In all that I’ve bought and sold so far I have had nothing but great experiences and have met some awesome Mom’s along the way.  Wishing you the same success in your wrap shopping!

#wearallthebabies

Babywearing: Soft structured carrier

Babywearing: Soft structured carrier

SSC – Soft structured carrier…basically a backpack for your baby.

Clyde was my ssc baby.  We started with an original Baby Bjorn that we received as a hand-me-down and tried a few others before settling on a Tula.  Below are my thoughts on a few ssc’s that we’ve tried.  A reminder that no carrier is best for everyone and trying a few options with baby is truly the best way to find what’s most comfortable.  Check out some other tips for a great baby wearing experience, here!

Baby Bjorn (the original):  This ssc can be worn on your front with baby facing in towards you or facing out once they’ve established good head control.  The second hand market is flooded with these carriers at a price point of around $30 making it a very economical option.  It accommodates babies from as little as 8lbs and doesn’t require an infant insert.

Things to consider: Baby is not sitting in a great position in this carrier which may put a strain on the hip joints.  More info on that here.  Furthermore, baby outgrows this carrier really quickly and you will start to feel the weight on your shoulders as he or she gets bigger.

Verdict: This was a great place to start but I found others to be much more supportive once I started trying other options. If you’re looking for a budget friendly ssc, I would recommend the Ergo – see below!

Ergo:  I bought the Ergo Organic Original with an infant insert for $60 on Kijiji.  This ssc can be worn on your front with baby facing you or, with good head control, on your back.  The original Ergo has a pocket on the outside which is handy for a cell phone, money or keys – especially when wearing baby on the front so you can access it easily.  The Ergo was a good fit for me, my husband and the grandparents.  It’s easy to put on by yourself and comfortable when wearing baby for an extended period.

Things to consider:  The model that I bought was a few years old and the infant insert has changed a lot recently.  When Jude was born, we tried him in the older insert and really didn’t like it.  If I was to buy this set again, I would look for one that has the changed infant insert.

Another thing to consider is that the panel (this being the main fabric piece) for the Ergo original is not as large as some other carriers meaning that it may not last you as long as other choices.  I hesitate even as I write that because it won’t make an impact until well beyond the first year by which time you’ll know if you plan to continue baby wearing and can invest in a new option.

Verdict: In my opinion, an Ergo is the ideal budget friendly ssc.  It is comfortable, comes in a variety of prints and colours and is highly available second hand.  With the addition of an infant insert, the Ergo can be worn from birth through to well beyond baby’s first year.

img_4550

Tula:  This ssc was my first baby wearing “splurge!”  I bought this second hand for $160 locally and it owes me nothing.  The Standard Tula has a generous panel size and carried Clyde comfortably at two years old (and me at 30 weeks pregnant).  I rarely left home without my Tula.  It’s easy to take on and off so Clyde was able to come up with me, or Adam, or a grandparent as he needed to and then get back down when he had had enough.  The print choices are endless and there are so many great choices.  For Jude, I found a firetruck Tula – Engine 21 and I am so excited for him to grow into it!

Things to consider:  If you are planning to buy a Tula from the beginning, you will need to add the cost of an infant insert for the first 6 months or so.  They surface on the buy and sell pages for around $50.  Also, if you’re shopping for a Tula, you may notice that there is a wide variety in pricing.  This may be due to deficiencies (faded straps, stained fabric etc.) or because it’s a limited edition print.

Verdict:  I would recommend a Tula everyday.  If it’s a good fit for you and baby then it would be money well spent in my opinion.

Accessories: As with anything, there is the option to accessorize.  The most common accessories for an ssc include suck pads, a custom sleep hood and reach straps.

Suck pads are fabric pads that attach to the straps of your carrier and are a place for baby to bite or suck on (my Tula has yellow and white suck pads shown in the pictures above).  These keep the straps of your ssc from getting ruined and they are machine washable so you can toss them in on their own instead of having to wash your full carrier.  There are lots of people that make custom suck pads with fabric to match or coordinate with your carrier.  You can ask on your local baby wearing Facebook page for recommended vendors or shop on Etsy.

sleep hood is additional fabric that attaches to the top of your carrier.  Any ssc that can be worn on your back will include a factory sleep hood.  When baby falls asleep on your back, you slip the sleep hood up over their head to keep their head resting on your back.  It also helps to cover them from any unwanted weather or bright sun.  You can order a custom hood with coordinating fabric, ears sewn on or a “hoodie” style instead of flat fabric.  You can ask on your local baby wearing Facebook page for recommended vendors or shop on Etsy.

Reach straps are fabric strings that clip onto the bottom of your sleep hood making it easier for you to pull it up and over baby’s head.  We are all awesome Super Moms but we don’t all have the shoulder flexibility required to wrangle a sleep hood and when baby is sleeping (or almost asleep), making large gestures and risking waking them is not an option.  Who’s with me??  Also a request for local vendors or Etsy.

SSC Buying Guide

No matter what you decide to use, I highly recommend buying second hand.  See my thoughts on that here.  Good sources include Kijiji (tip: set an alert!) or a variety of Facebook groups: OBG FSOT Space, Canadian Babywearing FSOT Swap, Canadian Babywearing on a Budget (nothing over $100!).  Do yourself a favour and read the rules or “pinned post” for each group to ensure you have a good experience.  The guidelines are often the same amongst groups and may involve joining a sister group first, having a feedback link or specific requirements when posting.  I know that it may sound complicated but it’s really not so bad – the information is all there at the top of each page.

When you see something that you like on Facebook, it’s best to ask questions via a private message.  Standard practice is to comment “pm” on the picture and then send a message to the person’s inbox.  By commenting “pm” you’re letting them know to check their inbox for your message.  Here are a few good questions to ask when purchasing an ssc second hand:

  • Is the carrier in good condition?  Is there any fading or discolouration?  Are there any stains?
  • Does it come with any accessories? (See above)
  • Is it standard or toddler size?  What are the panel measurements?  (More info that here)
  • Do you have action shots?  (If you’re not sure about sizing, it helps to see a picture of other kids in the carrier)

Ultimately, any purchases are “buyer beware” so be sure to ask questions and give it a once-over before handing over your money.

If you are not buying local and don’t have a chance to see the carrier in person, it’s highly recommended to pay using PayPal so that you are protected with their insurance.  PayPal fees are 2.9% of the total amount being paid and it gets charged to the seller.  Sometimes the seller will include this in their price by listing it as “ppd” – typically indicating their price includes the cost of shipping and PayPal fees.  If it’s not included in their price, you can try to negotiate by splitting the cost of fees or offer to pay it yourself.  If the carrier doesn’t arrive or arrives and is not as described by the seller, you can file a claim through PayPal and they will mediate to ensure you get your money back in full.

In all that I’ve bought and sold so far I have had nothing but great experiences and have met some awesome Mom’s along the way.  Wishing you the same success in your ssc shopping!

#wearallthebabies

My babywearing journey

My babywearing journey

img_0557If you’ve been following along on the blog, you know that I often get asked “What is that and where did you get it?” … It’s followed closely by “Did you buy another wrap?”

My journey wearing my boys started the same way it does for many – I got a carrier as a hand-me-down and decided to give it a try for a walk when Clyde was just a few weeks old.  It really wasn’t love at first sight for us.

His little head bopped around as I walked and I had just spent my life savings on a beautiful stroller so I wasn’t convinced.  A couple of months later, a friend lent us a Moby wrap for our trip to Vancouver and we were able to travel without our stroller. When we got home, Clyde was big enough to face out in the Baby Bjorn which he loved and I thought was pretty cool.  Slowly but surely I was starting to feel the love for baby wearing.

Since that time I have tried many different carriers and today I wear one or both of my babies everyday.  I love the one-on-one time with my boys and being hands free basically makes me feel like Super Woman that can accomplish anything.

Follow along over the next few posts as I share about my journey down the rabbit hole of baby wearing and some things to consider to make your experience a great one!

Tips for a great experience:

  • Try before you buy!  The options available to wear your baby are endless and they all fit you and baby differently.  If you’re expecting a newborn, it’s a good idea to buy a stretchy wrap to wear for the first while and when you’re ready to leave the house, venture out to Milkface or Belly Laughs (or a store near you) to get some pointers and try on a variety of carriers.
  • Shop second hand.  Ottawa has a fantastic baby wearing community. On Facebook, you can join the Ottawa Baby wearing Group and shop second hand by joining “OBG FSOT Space” (Ottawa Baby wearing Group For Sale or Trade).  Not only are the prices better than buying new (for the most part), the carrier comes broken in and the members of the groups are an amazing resource to make sure that you are buying a carrier that will be a great fit for you.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions!  Tips on what to look for and things to ask coming up over the next few posts.
  • Don’t be afraid to buy and sell often!  The second hand market for buying, selling and trading baby carriers is amazing.  If your existing carrier was great for you and baby three months ago but doesn’t fit great now, try something new and keep wearing!
  • Practice, practice, practice!  Watch Youtube tutorials to learn how to use your wrap or carrier.  Wrap You in Love is an amazing resource for wrapping demos.  Otherwise you can Google your carrier – for example,”Ergo tutorial” and find a variety of videos to choose from.
  • Find a friend to share in your journey.  The learning curve is steep for baby wearing – especially if you choose to wrap your baby.  Remind yourself (often) that everyone started somewhere and we are all still learning and trying new things!  Buddy up with someone and attend a baby wearing meet up or get together with a friend and watch a tutorial.

Come back tomorrow to read a few review and a “buying guide” for soft structured carrier’s (Ergo, Tula etc.).  Following that will be a similar post for ring slings and woven wraps!  Feel free to comment below if you have any specific questions that you would like to see answered while we’re talking all things baby wearing this weekend.