I remember wondering when my little munchkin would move… I remember her dad trying to show her how to crawl… I remember thinking “oh I hope she can crawl soon”… What the heck was I thinking! Gone are the days of putting my little munchkin down, turning away, and turning back with her being in the same spot… she is on the move people! Destruction seems to be coming hand in hand with movement! Baby is a gogo (I couldn’t help myself)! I am a believer that you should baby proof at least a little, but that doesn’t mean bubble wrapping your entire house. I remember hearing somewhere to have a safe space where you can put your little one if you need to answer the door, or go to the bathroom, and I thought this was great advice! Another great piece of advice was when you decide to baby proof get down to your baby’s level and look around… you never know what might catch your (or your babies) eye when your at such a low level! I know that as she starts to be more consistent with pulling up and walking we will discover more things to baby proof… but here is what seems to be working well for us so far!
We installed baby gates before H was fully moving… only having one staircase going downstairs we made the choice to have two gates not at the top of the stairs. Knowing me I would have somehow managed to trip and fall down those stairs if there was a gate at the top! We installed them pre movement to allow us, and George the cat, to get used to them (it worked well I think).
Plug covers – quick, easy and makes me feel better!
Dangerous furniture to the basement – I knew that we didn’t have a very child-friendly coffee table (glass, jagged corners, perfect baby head bonking, eye poking height) so it was only a matter of when, not if, we moved it! We still have a few things that I would rather she not play with, but so far they haven’t been a huge issue so I am not going to move them until I need to. Two examples: a side table with a low drawer, and a low open shelf filled with board games. I have also heard many people talk about securing items such as bookcases to walls… depending on what you have this may be something to consider.
Heating vents – So this one was something I didn’t expect… little miss H loves pulling up the heating vents and checking out what might be in them. So those need to be taped down!
Door latches – ok first off no one told me what a pain in the … you know what, these would be to install! Perhaps it was the brand (safety first), but these things were the WORST! We were going to install more but after three we were like… “nope”. So we did a tiny bit of rearranging and figured now if she gets into the unlatched cupboards there is nothing she can’t play with if she REALLY wants to! We made sure to latch the two doors under the sink and a cupboard that has some medicine in it (all other cleaning supplies are located in a cart in the basement so there is no chance of her getting at them!)
Daily – Tiny objects – I always make sure that their aren’t any tiny pieces of anything on the ground… this means more vacuuming and sweeping… a necessary evil! With a little one crawling around all over the floor it just makes sense. I was told somewhere that if it can slide through a toilet paper roll is it too small… I think that is a great rule of thumb!
I should probably start by saying that I am by no means some great yogi! This post is for the regular folks out there that enjoy some yoga, but cannot … no matter how many times they go… remember what the heck any of the poses are called, with the exception of downward dog and child’s pose!
I would say the absolute best time to go to yoga with a baby is when you are pregnant! I looooooved prenatal yoga! Even if you have never done yoga before I would still recommend giving it a go! I know it can be intimidating but I’m telling you, with the right instructor, it can be absolutely awesome! It was great for making new friends and before class we would always have a little check in … a great time to get some commiseration and ask any questions that weren’t really Dr. related… like “where around town to get tall pregnancy pants” or “anyone else slept like 2 hours last night?” It was also so relaxing and nice to just take some time for myself. I cannot recommend giving it a go enough!!
What you need for prenatal yoga:
stretchy clothing (it doesn’t have to be anything special, but once I got my pregnant yoga pants it was hard to wear anything else!)
yoga mat (if you don’t have one or forget it most studios will have one you can at least borrow!)
Once I had H I needed time some time to heal up… unplanned C-sections with some complications (another story, for another time)… but once I was feeling more myself I started doing mom and baby yoga (I want to say when H was almost 3 months). I did this at a different studio because some of my mom friends were already going there… and it was great! I do think that the instructor can make a big difference, but in all my friends and my own experiences, the people that are teaching prenatal and mom + baby yoga are usually wonderful humans to begin with! It is important to have a teacher that understands what you body has been through, and can guide you through appropriate moves. I really loved that this studio was so warm… It wasn’t hot yoga or anything, but I must admit that I did nearly fall asleep a few times at the end of class. Most of the mom + baby classes I have seen have said in some way or another no crawlers… which makes sense if you want to get any yoga done! That being said, depending on your experience with the instructor, other moms, and if you are really loving it, there are ways that it can also work with a little mover! I really appreciated that we were all moms, so if you need to feed your baby… no problem! Baby crying… mine too! Arrive super late… hey you made it! It was a very supportive environment that reminded me I am not alone!
I found taking this time with H to do something for myself, so early on, was really important! I had to somewhat drag myself out of the house to get there, but once I was there I would always think, “This is just what I needed!” Whether it is yoga, a hike or maybe eating that large cupcake it is so important to take care of ourselves!
What you need to mom + baby yoga:
Diaper bag (eventually I added some toys, but H loved looking around at the other babies the best!)
Blanket to put your little one on
Stretchy clothing (I wore the same prenatal yoga pants)
If you are in Calgary I did my prenatal yoga at The Yoga Studio (Cannot recommend it enough!) and I just happened to do my mom + baby yoga at The Bodhi Tree (another wonderful experience!). Both places offer prenatal and mom + baby yoga and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend either!
One of the activities that baby H and I have been really enjoying is swimming. In fact she enjoys it so much that dad takes her to swim lessons on the weekend, while I do aquasize during the week. It doesn’t matter if she is hungry, tired, grumpy… she gets in the water and is so happy! Also her naps after swimming… awesome!
Aquasize means that everyone puts their babies in a little boat… so stinking cute! The cute factor can actual be a bit of an issue as we are often distracted and miss what we should be doing! We do laps with them, jump around, all kinds of water exercises… it’s a ton of fun. If there is a class nearby I highly recommend giving it a go with a little one! If you have another kiddo they actually have a little shallow swim area right beside the big pool where they get to play in the water with a lifeguard… those kids are always having a great time! Swim lessons generally consists of songs and some dunking (they aren’t ready to work on their front crawl just yet!
We found a great pool nearby that is boarder-line a hot tub, if you ask me. The average temperature… 34 degrees (93 Fahrenheit for my American friends). This pool also has many programs for people with a variety of disabilities so in the change room are large padded benches… perfect for changing a squirming baby! Once your baby is changed you can put them in these chairs fixed to the wall, that you clip the little ones into. There is an open swim before aquasize and you always hear giggles and oohh’s as everyone sees the babies in their little swimsuits. I don’t care who you are… it’s like a parade of cuteness!
A few things to consider when bringing baby swimming:
Personally I wouldn’t rush to put a baby in a pool too soon because of their sensitive skin
Your peanut will need decent head support to sit in one of the little boats for programs like aquasize (we started at about 4.5 months)
Some babes, even when a bit older, have sensitive skin so you might want to space out when you go (we go on Wednesday and Saturday for this reason)
You will want to rinse your babe off as soon as you are out of the pool, which can be a bit scary for your wee one at first (exposure to a shower has really come in handy when we were in a pinch for a bath in Hawaii!)
If you have a wiggly one try to be as prepared as you can be when you are getting dressed so you don’t have to continually ask your neighbor to make sure your baby doesn’t roll away on you! Depending on the lay out of the change room if you can leave out babies towel, lotion, clean diaper and clothes you will be in great shape (if not have them ready to grab!)
You might want to consider the outfit your munchkin is wearing to make changing easier (we like H to be in her PJ’s! One piece and your done!)
If you find that your little one does have skin sensitivity (H does!), really make sure to shower baby off very well and apply lotion ASAP!
At 6 months we started bringing a sippy cup for H… because the pool is so warm I feel this helps keep her hydrated and I prefer her chomping on this rather than another random toy the pool provides
Gear we actually use (rather than bring our diaper bag we have a backpack set up to grab and go on swim days):
towels (if you can splurge these ones are amazing)
swim suit (honestly this isn’t necessary, but they are just soooo cute!)
plastic bag for wet suits and towels
clean diapers and wipes because you never know!
Plastic swim cover (most pools require this but also will sell this to go over the swim diaper). I know many baby boutiques also sell them… I am working on finding one that has adjustable legs as this one, from the pool, is a bit tight on little H!
Swim diaper (this is really only to contain solids hence the additional plastic cover above): we used Huggies Little Swimmers… and now have this reusable one (purchased at a local baby store). The reusable one works great. I love that it has numerous snaps so it will lasts a really long time! This being said I do always have a back up diaper because if there is a poop… well I think you know where I am going with this.
Baby boat: if you are going to be swimming on vacation these are the boats we use, I would highly recommend getting one with a canopy for extra sun protection!
Now that you have figured out where you are going it is time to sort out where to stay exactly… Choosing the right place to stay on a vacation, be it for two weeks or one night, can make or break a trip in my opinion! Here are a few things I have found helpful to think about. I am going to use an apartment as my example, but these thoughts can totally be applied to hotels, hostels, camping… whatever! If you choose to rent an apartment my favourite websites are listed at the bottom with a few more tips.
Location, location, location… take some time to research the exact area that you want to spend your time in and then book a place there! This will allow you to really make the most of your vacation. Having a little one you never know when you will need to make a quick trip “home”! Being close to your home base allows you to come and go as you will. I like to take note of parking options (if you have a car) and/or access to public transportation. You would be shocked at how much parking can be sometimes and if you are staying somewhere for a while it is nice to be near public transport! In Europe I have noticed that not all public transportation is created equal. You may need to lug a stroller up and down stairs… so be prepared!
How much space do you and baby need to sleep soundly? If you have a sensitive munchkin you might put the most emphasis on this, or if not this might not be a big deal. For me I have a very hard time sleeping beside H… I wake up to every sigh, peep and squeak. This doesn’t necessarily mean we need to have a separate bedroom for baby H, but we do require a large enough room that she is not right beside my head! Having a separate bedroom for naps is glorious. Also having a separate bedroom for when the little one goes to bed early is nice (so that you don’t have to hide under the covers watching Netflix with earphones). Depending on your little one, splurging on having a bedroom can make all the difference or, if you are really lucky, maybe it doesn’t matter as your babe can sleep anywhere!
Safety… I have noticed looking at many apartment photos that some people just really love to decorate… this can make a place look far more inviting, eclectic or sometimes a bit odd. An apartment’s decorating style is something that takes on a whole new level of importance with a little one. If you have a curious munchkin seeing a thousand knick-knacks might now be a good idea. If there are numerous open fireplaces with massive pointy coffee tables… perhaps this will be an issue for your family. Are their stairs in very inconvenient locations? These are all things to consider… None of these things would necessarily sway me away from a place, but if there were a place next door that didn’t have these issues why wouldn’t I book there instead?
Cleanliness (floors in particular). After our house in Hawaii I realized once H was mobile I would need to pay more attention to the floors… seems a bit funny but with a little person crawling around and sticking everything she can possibly get into her mouth, floor cleanliness takes on an entire new meaning.
What extras does the apartment come with? Not necessarily a make or break, but something that might just sway you on one place over another. For our France trip I made sure that each place we are staying at has a washing machine. Sometimes places will specifically list that they have things such as cribs and high chairs, which can be totally awesome! As I mentioned in my previous post (about choosing a destination) if you don’t want to bring things with you, renting is also an option. I found that if baby things were not listed, if you ask, often places would still provide them! If you are staying in a hotel you will want to ask them as well. Something to keep in mind is that some cribs/high chairs or whatever might not be in the best condition. At the bare minimum I always like to bring my own sheet for baby H. Also, most likely there won’t be any crib bumpers or anything like that. I always have in the back of my mind that if something looks REALLY not clean or safe enough for me I can always either make H a bed in a bathtub, or N and I have even discussed how he can sleep on a pull-out couch and I can sleep with baby H… you can always figure something out!
Other things that might make a difference if you have a particularly fussy little one: noise level of the area, what sort of blinds do the rooms have (is it going to be dark enough for babe to sleep) and heating (in colder months some European houses really have poor insulation)!
I love booking accommodation with airbnb.ca and vrbo.com. I have used both of these sites and have never had issues with either. Make sure you don’t forget to look at the cleaning and service fees. Sometimes the cleaning fee can be significant and then other times it is nothing! It is worth noting that with airbnb you can have rates in Canadian currency, and with vrbo the rates are in American dollars. Also don’t be afraid to branch out and try other sites depending on where you are going. When we were in the Cinque Terre, Italy we found an individual website for what turned out to be a really wonderful apartment (most of the rentals in this area at that time had personal websites and were wonderful)! The key is to do a little bit of research to make sure it is legitimate but sometimes you can find some hidden gems!
With baby H at just 3 and a half months, myself and 3 of my mommy friends (babies in tow) decided to attempt our first hike… how Canadian are we! We packed into two cars and headed for the mountains… to Canmore to be specific. We decided to hike up to Grassi Lakes. We knew that there were two route options so we could decide how we were feeling and what things were looking like when we got there. I must admit I am using the term hike slightly loosely here; it was a slightly more of an steep walk!
Once in the parking lot we decided to take the wider trail up because we were wearing backpacks and babies! I was wearing my Bjorn carrier and the other mommas were rocking out in their Ergo carriers (I have since purchased a lillebabe carrier). All of these carriers have been great, just depends on what you want. I will be sure to post more about carriers at later date! It was very fun to see everyone’s expression as they saw these four moms walking along with their babes! We received countless smiles and positive comments.
It was the perfect temperature for our first hike as it wasn’t super warm (having those little heaters on your chest can get a bit toasty), but not freezing cold. We made sure to choose a hike we knew and dressed in layers! I think these were key elements in making it a successful day.
Once at the second lake I thought I thought I smelt something slightly suspicious coming from my sweet baby H… sooo all moms on deck and it was diaper changing time. I there down a change pad on a bench, got out the diaper and wipes then it happened… like something from a movie… just as I was taking baby H out of the her carrier she spit out her soother. Simultaneously all of us moms cried out “no” and reached out. The soother happily bounced along, under a root and plop… right into the lake!!! All three moms turned to me with the most sympathetic looks… but I only had a smile… Mom win… I had an extra soother with me! Mom win!
Feeling rather proud of ourselves, we decided to go crazy and try go out for lunch. We went to one of my favourite restaurant, The Grizzly Paw, in town. Being that it was mid week and later the afternoon, there was lots of room for us. I would not recommend doing this during the weekend or at any peak time. We literally took over the upstairs! It was rather funny that 4 ladies with 4 babies would take up so much room. It was a great lunch! We all managed to eat without inhaling, had some great laughs and didn’t have any meltdowns (fresh air for the win!). At one point we had one baby sleeping in her car seat, one mom changing her baby in a booth, another feeding her babe a bottle and another snuggling her little one.
Setting off for home we were feeling rather smug… look at us spending the entire day doing things we would do without a baby… then Karma hit. I forgot the golden rule… taking my time. Baby H was not a happy camper on the way home. I had a feeling she would need to be fed but instead I thought I would push it… oops! Fortunately I had a very understanding mom and babe with me so it took us a rather long time to get back home, but we made it and despite the tiny blip heading home, it was a wonderful day!
Gear we actually used:
baby carriers (I was using the Bjorn and my mommy friends the Ergo 360)
diapers and wipes
EXTRA SOOTHER!! Haha
Baby toque (winter hat for the non Canadians out there)
Change of clothing (shirt for me, sleeper for baby H)
So it has been decided… we are off to France in the Spring. Baby H will be 10 months old… so we will see how this goes! I knew that I wanted to go back to Europe in the Spring, but where!?!? Here are a few thoughts that helped us make a decision, in no particular order. The thoughts I have can really be applied to choosing any destination with a baby!
How are you planning on getting around? What I mean by this really is: are you comfortable renting a car? Will you be bringing your car seat with you (is that even possible with specific countries regulations), or will you be renting one (this can be a rather $$$$ option!)? While we have rented cars before in different countries we decided that we would rather not NEED to rent a car, but would be comfortable taking trains, metros and/or city buses. We feel that if we decide when we are there that we really want to rent a car, and car seat, then we can do that for just a day or two.
How long does it take to get to where you want to go? N and I travelled to New Zealand before we were married, and have maintain that we could move there very easily, we loved it so much! To fly there, from here, with a baby… not my idea of a good time. Could we have done it… absolutely… but we decided we would rather go somewhere closer and save that stress for another time.
How flexible do you think your little one is? Just looking back at baby H (at 3 months versus 6) her adaptability and flexibility has greatly decreased. When they are really little they will sleep and eat anywhere, now less so. At 10 months we know that it will be nice for her (and us) to be able to set up in one location for more than a couple of days! I am also thinking having at least one solid nap is going to make us all much happier! We decided we wanted 2 destinations over 2 weeks to keep us sane.
What do you want to do? This had a huge impact on us choosing France over another country. We had a few options we were floating around. One of the top three contenders was Scotland. We realized quickly that we wanted to do so much stuff in Scotland it would mean staying in one spot for a maximum of 3 nights (see the previous point). In Paris we were comfortable with the idea of basically eating croissants and drinking wine… if we get to the Louvre, Awesome! Go up the Eiffel tower… Great! Window shop on the Champs-Elysees … just an extra bonus! We still think that we can do Scotland with baby H, but at 10 months old there are better choices!
How comfortable are you going to be in the country you want to visit? I am dying to get down to South America but at this point I realized that I wouldn’t be very comfortable… Having travelled in Europe I feel good that I have at least some idea of what to expect, the food is familiar to me, I also speak a little French (poorly, but enough that I can somewhat get my point across). I don’t want to go on a vacation and be stressed about every tiny little detail… travelling overseas with a baby is enough stress for me!
How much stuff are you bringing with you? This ties in closely with the first point (how you are getting around)! If you are renting a car from the airport (like we did when we went to Hawaii) you can bring a ton (and we did). If you are planning on taking public transport for even a tiny bit of your trip you may want to leave the crib at home… or, if you think you can manage, go to town! The key here is to try and be realistic.
There are many baby gear rental sites for countries and cities around the world, which is rather nice as this means you don’t actually have to take all your stuff with you. Obviously it’s nice to have things you know how to work but maybe you only need to rent a crib for part of your journey or maybe you want to try out a particular stroller? I did a quick google search for “NYC baby rental equipment” “London baby rental equipment” even “Tokyo baby rental equipment” and a ton of sites came up!
Where do you want to stay? Do you want to stay in a hotel? Rent an apartment? Hostel it up? All of these are options, you just need to be realistic about what you and baby can handle. For us, we knew hotels and hostels were out. We wanted space and sadly could not afford the space in hotels and hostels were too crowded for us.
For more on finding the perfect accommodation check out THIS post
Finally: Sometimes you have to just jump right in! We still wonder if we are mental to be taking baby H to France for two weeks when she is 10 months old… but flights are booked, accommodation is pending… so here we go! We figure if she is going to have a bad day, she is going to have a bad day… I would rather be in Paris! No matter how well behaved these French children are supposed to be, someone is bound to have a meltdown at some point!