Thursday, 27 October 2011

You can't always get what you want

Baby boy is in full-on exploration mode these days. He's mastering the art of crawling - he still crawls a bit like a worm, tummy on the ground, using his elbows to push himself along.

As he crawls he's discovering all kinds of interesting stuff on the floor. Naturally, he's only interested in the things he really shouldn't touch. Like electrical outlets, wires, and my husband's personal favorite, the Playstation 3, which we also use as a Blu-Ray player. In other words, the Holy Grail of "don't touch!"

I have yet to do a full baby-proofing job on my house. There just never seems to be enough time! So while I've covered up some outlets and cleared rooms of certain easy-to-reach dangerous items, I have to spend a lot of time chasing baby and keeping him out of non-baby-proofed areas of the house.

Naturally, human nature prevails and he takes a much greater interest in examining the things that are taken away from him. How many times have I had to pull him away from the TV? Countless... I can only imagine what's in store when he (very soon) becomes a toddler and starts walking! Meanwhile I guess I have to get a head start on teaching him the word "no!"

This need to explore isn't strictly limited to crawling time, either! Make no mistake, those oh-so adorable diaper ads on TV of the babies crawling, rolling, scooting and running away from diaper changes are not simply entertaining. They are a true reflection of my life.

Diaper changes are impossible these days. He rolls over, crawls away and wants to touch everything around him. He does not want to be held down! You can just imagine how much fun it is to change a poopy diaper these days.

Little buddy, one of life's cruelest lessons is unfortunately beyond your comprehension right now but you should know one thing: you can't always get what you want!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

So you think you know genetics?

When I was pregnant, one of the things I used to daydream about was what my baby boy would look like. I wondered whose eyes he would have, what his little nose would look like and if he would inherit his daddy's long eyelashes.

I was absolutely certain of one thing though. With both a mother and father who have curly dark brown hair, hazel brown eyes and olive skin, he would have the same coloring. I used to tell everyone that I had no doubt about that.

When he was born, he was little miniature version of his father. But as the days and weeks went on, he started to morph into a fair-haired, blue eyed little boy. His eyes are now big, round and a beautiful deep blue that get commented on everywhere we go. I might be biased but I think he's a pretty handsome little boy.

But he looks nothing like what I envisioned and he certainly doesn't look like my son! I look more like his nanny than his mommy. He still looks like his father but the coloring throws off the resemblance quite a bit.

Fortunately I do know where he gets these traits. He did take something from my genes, which is my mother's French-Canadian/Norwegian fair complexion and crystal blue eyes. But as it turns out, blue eyes need to be on both sides of the family in order to be passed down to your children. There are people with blue eyes in my husband's family but we're talking great-grandparents.

I was never very good at high school science but I remember being fascinated the day we talked about genes and how certain traits are passed down. Clearly I retained nothing from that day's lesson or I might not be so surprised today whenever I look at my son and think "Where did this kid come from anyway?!"

In spite of my astonishment, I think he's pretty lucky to have been blessed with the big blue eyes that I always wanted. Watch out girls of the future!

Friday, 21 October 2011


My 8-month-old son loves books. He eats them for breakfast. He devours them. I mean that quite literally.

I can't read him stories anymore because he wants to chew on every single book I try to read him. He has no preference for author, illustrator or size of book. He doesn't care if they're colorful or if they rhyme. He just wants them in his mouth.

I've always believed in the importance of reading to babies, no matter how young. But it's kinda hard when your kid would rather snack on Green Eggs and Ham than read about them.

So I've had to memorize a few just so he can get a bit of a literary education. I can recite several in my sleep, including Goodnight Moon, Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed and Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? These are of course some of the simpler children's books on the market but it won't be longer before I've mastered Guess How Much I Love You.

I guess it will be a little longer before we can sit and enjoy a good book together...the way they were meant to be enjoyed, that is.

On the bright side, he also really enjoys gnawing on his baby toothbrush, so I'm feeling pretty good about his oral health. Then again, he's got a lot of book residue stuck to those gums so the toothbrush fixation makes sense...

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Will you still love me tomorrow?

It's no secret that my baby boy is a terrible sleeper. It's gotten to the point where my friends say they think of me in the middle of the night when their little ones are keeping them up. Just call me the poster child for sleepless nights!

I didn't think our nights could possibly get any worse but over the past week they escalated to such heights of sleeplessness that I found myself bringing baby to sleep in our bed, something I swore I'd never do. But it was better than waking up with baby every half-hour. Anything to get some rest!

This week we decided that enough is enough. Baby, you are not the boss of me! I am the boss of you. Time to start sleep training... Again.

Sleep training, for the uninitiated, can mean many different things. Essentially it's implementing a process to try and get your baby to sleep through the night. For many (and for us) this means letting your baby "cry it out". I tried a lot of different things and finally decided this is the only approach that will work for us.

For a long time, I didn't want to go this route. I thought letting your baby cry seemed cruel and unnecessary. But a few months ago, we decided to give it a try. It didn't work. I had read that for most kids, within a week of letting baby cry it out, they'd be sleeping through the night. I know now that the reason it didn't work was that we were being inconsistent. Some nights we'd let him cry, other nights we wouldn't. I struggled with hearing him scream alone in his room. Maybe it just wasn't the right time. It went on (and off) for weeks. So we stopped and I went back to waking up with the baby every time he woke. I felt like he needed reassurance and nurturing during a time that he was going through so many developmental milestones.

I wasn't doing him any favors. The nights only got worse, especially when you throw the arrival of five teeth into the mix. He's been cranky and restless and clingy and just not the baby I knew.

So this time I vow to stick with it. I will be consistent and I won't bend. He may be stubborn, but I'm more stubborn.

Two nights in, I'm already seeing major improvements. He seems to be sleeping more soundly and is sleeping for longer stretches at a time.

In the mornings we are both better rested and much happier. And the best part, he still loves me even though I let him cry alone in his crib. I have a feeling things are changing for the better!

Friday, 14 October 2011

The breast spots in town

Hey breastfeeding mommies! As you know, one of the nice things about breastfeeding is that (if you're comfortable) you can feed your baby anytime, anywhere. During the warm summer months it was nice and easy to feed baby just about anywhere, from park benches to the backseat of the car!

As the colder fall and winter months are now upon us, that may be a little harder and much less comfortable for both mommy and baby. So here's my round-up of some of the best places for breastfeeding in Montreal...

1) Fairview Pointe-Claire: one of the nicest breastfeeding rooms in the Montreal area is in the food court of this shopping mall. There are two rooms, one larger one for mothers only and a smaller family room where daddies are welcome to join mom while she feeds baby. Both rooms are equipped with comfy couches, change tables, sinks and microwaves. The environment is also quiet and nicely decorated, which makes these rooms a comfortable oasis in an otherwise busy mall.

2) Rockland Shopping Centre (in TMR): This swanky mall has an equally swanky family washroom which is nicely equipped with a play area for kids, a corner with comfy chairs for moms and dads to feed babies, large bathroom stalls and a large counter for changing diapers. My only criticism is that the changing counter is made of a hard stone surface which can be uncomfortable for baby and with no straps to secure the baby, the risk of them falling is higher. But the room, situated in the food court, is otherwise great.

3) Carrefour Laval: this ginormous mall in Laval is so big, they have 2 spots for breastfeeding. One area is much nicer than the other so choose carefully. The nicer of the two breastfeeding rooms is located at the washrooms between Mexx and B2. In this area, there are two small, dimly lit rooms with rocking chairs and a soothing environment for feeding baby. Just outside the rooms is a changing area and a family washroom.

The other breastfeeding room is located in the bathroom area near Starbucks and the Bay. It's a much sparser area with uncomfortable chairs for breastfeeding and that's about it. If you want to change baby's diaper you have to go into the neighboring washrooms but it's a bit awkward to maneuver your way from one room to the other. So when in Carrefour, I recommend the other breastfeeding room every time.

4) Complexe Les Ailes (downtown Montreal on Ste-Catherine St.): This urban mall features a lovely little family breastfeeding room complete with a rocking chair, change table, a kitchenette and even a little play area for older kids. It's a nice space but be warned, there's only enough room for one family at a time in this spot. It's located on the first floor near the information desk where you have to ask for access to the room.

There you have it - my top spots for breastfeeding when you're out and about. I'm sure there are others but these are some of the best I've seen.

Where do you breastfeed baby when you're out? Any suggestions I haven't discovered?

PS - We're lucky in Montreal to have so many great places that are accommodating of families and especially breastfeeding moms. On a few recent trips to the U.S. I found there was much less available for families. Maybe that was just my experience - if you're aware of family-friendly spots south of the border, let me know!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Working on the night moves...

It seems that when it comes to my son, there's always some reason for sleepless nights. Growth spurts, teething, feedings, teething, teething... Did I mention teething?

These days he's completely restless because he's learning to crawl and is constantly in exploration mode, even in his sleep! He'll be sound asleep, then all of a sudden he'll flip over onto his tummy and start crawling around his crib, waking himself up in the process. And me, of course!

It's non-stop, every hour. Then putting him back to sleep becomes an impossible task.

According to popular parenting expert and pediatrician Dr. William Sears, "Major developmental milestones, such as sitting, crawling, and walking, drive babies to "practice" their new developmental skills in their sleep." (For more interesting facts about infant sleep, read 8 Infant Sleep Facts Every Parent Should Know:

So it's been a non-stop after-hours party in my house this past week...anyone else ever experience similar issues?

Thursday, 6 October 2011


There are days when being a mother to a baby is a joy... When naps and feedings are a breeze and they're just a sweet bundle of cuteness. When you can pop your baby into their stroller and go for a nice long walk in the crisp fall sunshine while you count your blessings.

And then there are the other days.

The days after a night of hell spent trying in vain to get your baby to sleep. The days when napping just isn't on your baby's agenda. The days when whining and crying is the only way they want to communicate. The days when your hair is pulled and your skin pinched so much you think the neighbors will think you're abused! When putting on a diaper is like pulling teeth (actually that's every day). When motherhood seems like more of a curse than a blessing.

I like to refer fondly to those days as motherhell. On days like that, I spend an inordinate amount of time threatening to drop my baby off at the closest orphanage. I drink too much coffee and think about a nice stiff drink.

Today is one of those days. Raise your hand if you know what I'm talking about!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Go outside and play, Mom!

New motherhood can be an isolating experience. Yes, it’s true that you’re now joined at the hip with another human being, but until they can talk, the early days of maternity leave can be lonely and boring. Don’t get me wrong, in the beginning there were days when I hardly had time to brush my teeth between feedings, diaper changes, doctors’ appointments, having my washing machine repaired (yet again) and trying to catch a nap after a long, sleepless night. In fact, the first few months of my baby’s life, I calculated that I spent an average of six to eight hours a day breastfeeding, especially during growth spurts. But there came a day when feedings became shorter, diaper changes fewer and further between and I realized there was simply no way that my baby would nap for stretches longer than 30 minutes at a time. Suddenly I had more free time on my hands and I wanted to get out of the house!

I’m fortunate that I had a few other new mother friends and family members that I could call on for company (and those numbers are growing – yay!) but I’m a social butterfly and I needed more. So here are some of the things that I found in my neighbourhood that helped me cope and still do, to this day…

Hit the gym
Before baby, I used to be pretty religious about working out and going to the gym at least four times a week. I even did prenatal aquafit and yoga when I was pregnant (not that it stopped me from gaining 55 pounds, but I digress). So one of the first things I did when I could was sign up for stroller aerobics twice a week at the YMCA. It was a great way to help shed the baby weight, not to mention getting out and meeting other mommies.

Now that baby is bigger, we’re also doing something (also at the Y) called Aqua Parent and Baby. It's basically an aquafit class where your baby joins you in the pool, floating around in a little “boat” made of heavy Styrofoam… okay, that might sound dangerous, but it’s completely safe and there are least three lifeguards on duty, I promise. Plus, the instructor, Loretta, has seven children of her own (and grandchildren)... need I say more?

Take some classes
One of my favourite spots in Pointe-Claire is a centre called Belles Mamans. It’s a pregnancy and parenting centre that offers classes, workshops, informational support, playgroups and yes, coffee. They offer everything from fitness classes (mom and baby yoga or salsa, anyone?) to workshops on subjects like introducing solids, baby massage, infant CPR, etc… Just last week, baby and I attended a fun afternoon there making handprints and footprints…something I might have attempted to do at home, but in this case, someone else provided the art supplies and did the cleanup! We also take a music class there once a week, which both my son and I love attending. I think this a pretty unique place and I love it. It would be great if more resources like this existed for moms everywhere. If you live in Montreal, I highly recommend visiting Belles Mamans.

Catch a flick
Once a week, Cineplex theatres show movies for mommies with their Stars and Strollers offering. Parents and babies can hit up their local Cineplex theatre to catch a movie in a baby friendly environment, including stroller parking and a change table. It can get a little noisy in there when the baby orchestra gets going (why is it that when one baby cries, all the others want to join them?) but as parents, I’m pretty sure we’re capable of drowning out a little noise as we escape with the latest Brad Pitt movie!

Those are some of my favourite playtime activities… what are yours, moms?

PS – I wasn’t compensated by any of the abovementioned companies for endorsement. I just like 'em!