Friday, March 22, 2013

Baby Products - Momma Weighs In

After my first year of being a mom I have had a chance to try all kinds of baby products and equipment. There are things that I wish I hadn't bothered with, others that I loved from the get-go, or wished that I had all along, and some are things I liked, but I could live without. Again, as always - just my opinion!

  1. Pampers diapers. By far the best brand in my opinion. We tried out all kinds for long enough to know what worked best. The end results : Huggies leaked, Kirkland LEAKED, and while we did like LIFE brand from shoppers, Pampers were hands down the very best.
  2. Travel System  - I had a four wheel system that was big and bulky. I liked it because it closed up and had lots of storage underneath but it was hard to access when the carrier was in it.  It was really hard to turn around and got caught on all kinds of things when we were going around, especially aisles at stores. I would opt for a three wheel system if I were doing it all again.
  3. High Chair - I had a stand alone high chair and while it was good, I recently switched to a booster seat that attaches to a chair. This is more practical and less expensive. It takes up less space in the kitchen and can be taken with us more easily when we travel. In hindsight I would have just purchased the booster and not bothered at all with a clunky high chair. 
  4. Jolly Jumper -  I'm talking about the simple harness over the door. This thing is awesome! I was skeptical in the beginning because it appears to be unsafe , but once I got over that I realized how great it is. My son improved in his leg strength after just a month of bouncing and now he loves getting in it. Not only is it a great way for him to release his energy and build strength, it has become something of a reward for him.  
  5. Fisher Price Ocean Wonders Aquarium. This item was one of the greatest things we had for our little guy. It attaches to his crib, plays different songs, lights up and the fish inside can move and water bubbles appear when you select the option. This calms my son and allowed him to learn to put himself to sleep in his crib. It also has a remote which is bonus. Fisher price toys in general are great, I like all the ones we have.
  6. Carter Clothes. These clothes by far are my favourite. They fit better than most others, and are great quality for a great price.
  7. "Net" like ball - I'm talking about a plastic ball that is full of holes, great for a baby to grip. I don't have a brand preference here. This is a very simple inexpensive toy and one of the best. Babies love balls but they have trouble gripping them and keeping them, but the holes in the ball are great for ensuring they can play with them on their own.
  8. Nuk Nestle Bottles and Playtex Sippy Cups. The Nuk nipples were the best for my little one and the best bottle he used by far. Playtex are a close second in bottles but come up first in Sippy Cups, at least for the ones without straws. They are easy to grip and don't leak, while the Nuk Sippy Cups do leak.  
  9. Wipe Warmers and Diaper Genies. Convenient and good, but could take or leave. The wipes are warm and that's great, but when we go out they aren't but luckily my son never noticed the difference. The Genie is convenient because its right there and solely for dirty diapers, but to be honest, it wasn't as great as I expected for keeping away the stinky poopy smell. It needs to be changed more often than I thought in order to keep the smell away and it does fill up really fast. As far as places to put diapers I think it is one of the best, but a less expensive closed garbage can might be just as good. 
  10. Baby Mum Mums - These are great for snacks on the go and were a wonderful thing that aided his independent eating. They taught my son how to chew and hold food and I would highly recommend them.
  11. Disney Baby First Years Winnie The Pooh Calendar. This is a personalised calendar that allows you to put in the months and important dates using stickers provided. Each month you can add a picture of your little one as they grow. We loved this one for keeping track of the important moments.
  12. Sophie the Giraffe. Admittedly I was skeptical at first about this toy but it was great, especially for teething. It is easy to grip and makes noise, and I now understand why just about every child has one.
  13. Bassinet. I transferred my son to his crib really young, but the bassinet was great for daytime naps and helping him know the difference between day and night. We kept it in a lighted noisy room during the day and nighttime he slept in his dark room in his crib, so he soon got the concept of sleeping longer at night. It was also good travel bed for the early months as the top part of the one we had could be detached easily.
  14. Breast Feeding Pillow. I only used this for the first couple of weeks of breastfeeding. I did not find it was overly helpful beyond that for feedings. However, later on when my son started sitting up on his own and was still wobbly, this served as a great cushion that fit snugly around him.
  15. Pack and Play.  This is a must. Keeping baby safe and a place to hold toys without making a huge mess all over the living room. It's also good for sitting as if he falls he won't hit as hard, or for reaching up and eventually learning to pull himself up using the sides for assistance. It collapses quickly and takes up minimal space so it great for storing away or taking with you. We use it as a baby bed when we travel since our son outgrew his bassinet.
  16. Umbrella Stroller. Get one! They are usually inexpensive and are so much more compact. Great for tighter spaces and for travel, and are so much easier for getting around. 
These are just some of my thoughts on some of the baby products I have used in the past year.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Job Description

Are you innovative, creative, resourceful? Can you multi-task? Do you aim to please, like to solve problems, love a challenge? If your answer is yes, this may be the perfect position for you!

  • Hours will vary - you will be required to work days, evenings, and weekends
  • You will be on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Your boss is younger than you and has less experience
  • You will be expected to take a salary cut, plus there are no health benefits
  • You will be expected to anticipate and determine your boss's every need. All communication initially will be non-verbal.
  • There will be minimal to no training provided
  • You will be expected to make decisions with very little time and will have to think on your feet constantly
  • Breaks will vary in schedule and length and could end on a moment's notice, and there will be days you will not get one at all
  • Your day to day responsibilities will change constantly and vary in intensity as time progresses
  • You will be responsible for providing food, transportation, and basic needs(ie. clothing, personal hygiene) for someone else before you will consider yourself
  • There is no sick leave, and any vacation time you take, you will likely have  to pay someone to take your place, and you are still on call
  • After holding this job for a year, you will be expected to return to your normal career and have this as a side job, or you may continue to do this job full time with no pay. As with vacations you will likely have to pay someone else to take your place, and you are still on call.
  • Your boss does not care if you do not sleep
  • You will likely be required to go through a 9 month preparation period prior to starting that will forever change your physical appearance and capabilities, and you will not be any more prepared for your daily tasks once this is completed.
  • There is no guarantee that you will be appreciated for your efforts
  • You will love this job and do it more willingly than any other!

Job Title : Mom

Monday, March 11, 2013

Here Comes the Sun !

Just a quick note today - hoping everyone is enjoying the sunshine the past couple of days! It makes such a difference to the mood and feel!

Have had a busy time lately - will make up for dragging my heels with my next post. Just had to comment on the weather today.

Here's hoping you got a chance to take your baby for a walk! I'm so ready for summer now, had forgotten how great it is. The sun really makes the dreary winter seem so much better.

Stay tuned for more detailed thoughts on some more baby topics coming soon!

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Daycare Diligence

As promised, here is my checklist of questions and things to look for when seeking daycare for your little buddies and gals!

  1. Registration? Day cares that are registered are more carefully screened, regulated, and provide receipts. Things like child to adult ratios, menus, and safety regulations are all closely monitored. This very item may be one of the most important factors.
  2. Insurance.  Is the daycare insured in case of accident or emergency?
  3. Location, location, location. To be practical, a daycare must be either close to your home, or close to yours or your partner's workplace. Having to do a lengthy commute for daycare drop off may cause more trouble than it's worth. Keep this factor in mind. It may seem small in the beginning, but it affects your time and gas mileage.
  4. Cost. This is another huge factor. You have to be able to afford where you send your child, plain and simple. If lunch and snacks are included, prices are naturally a little higher. Daycare is getting more expensive but it does vary from place to place, so do your research on what is typical before you venture out.
  5. Certifications. Does the caregiver have Early Childhood Education certification? Do they have First Aid and CPR and if so, what levels? Have they had a Code of Conduct Screening? Ask about these items and ask to see the certificates to prove it.
  6. Ratios and Numbers. Knowing how many children and at what ages they are is very important prior to hiring a caregiver. There are limits on the numbers of children below the age of two and again on the total number of children in the daycare. Ask and determine if it is within guidelines for your child's age.
  7. Menu. Do they provide lunch and snacks? This may be important, especially if you are very busy. If food is served, will you receive a weekly menu in advance?If so, ask to see a sample from previous weeks to determine if you are satisfied with the food that will be served to your child. As a rule of thumb, if you aren't comfortable serving a menu item in your home means you are probably not going to like it coming from a daycare.
  8. Times. When can your child be dropped off? Is it early enough to accommodate your work schedule? The same applies for pick-up times. You must ensure that you are off in time to pick up your child or you can at least work out something with your partner and boss to ensure that someone picks up your little one on time.
  9. Transportation. The daycare may offer day outings where applicable and it is important that you are aware of these events and that proper licenses are held by potential drivers of vehicles that may transport your child.
  10. Transition. Does the daycare provide a period where you gradually transition your child and slowly increase their time spent getting used to the facility?
  11. Vacation. When you take your child on vacation, it is assumed that you will continue to pay to hold your spot during that time. However, does your worker assume that you will pay for their vacation? Do they provide a substitute worker when they take vacation, or are you expected to provide alternate arrangements for that time?
  12. Storm Days. Storms are going to happen, but is the daycare going to be open? Is it likely that you will have to take a day off to care for your child if there is a storm?
  13. Sick - What is the policy on sickness? Many registered establishments require all children to be sent home/kept home when showing any signs of illness, particularly if it is contagious. It can be disconcerting to pick up your child(ren) only to discover that they have been around a child who has been very ill all day and remained in their presence, or that your own child has been sick and you haven't been contacted.
  14. Ages/Additional Children. What is the maximum age your child can attend a particular daycare? Do they offer an after school program or will you have to find alternate arrangements when you child starts school? If you have another child, will he/she be guaranteed a spot or at least be on top of the wait list?
  15. Play Space. Is there a designated play area or do they have the "run of the house"? Is there an outdoor area and is it fenced in? Are there safety measures inside in appropriate places? What activities are routine and what other types of activities are going to be offered? How much space is for play, and is it sufficient? Where do the children nap, where do they eat? Is it in a home setting? All very important questions.
  16. Pets. Are there animals in the home? Besides the potential for dirt, dust and allergies, there may be safety issues here.
  17. Leaving notice. Establish guidelines for how much notice you will require should the caregiver decide to stop operating, or if you decide to transfer your child to another facility.
  18. References - Ask for professional and character references, and do your homework and check them!
  19. Previous Relationship. If the caregiver is a relative or a friend, this can go either way. Be careful here. Things can get sticky when it comes to your child and while you may trust a familiar person more with their care, you may have a greater chance for a difference of opinion ruining a relationship.  Decide if you can handle it.
  20. Gut Feeling. To me, this is the single most important factor. Upon the interview with the potential caregiver if there is some nagging unpleasant feeling that you just can't shake, listen to your instincts. Sometimes you may not be able to put your finger on it, but if you are not fully comfortable with the person, do not send your child to them. Remember, your child is going to be spending the best part of their day with this person, and you have to trust your feelings about their capabilities.
Ultimately, these factors will balance out differently for every parent, and you have to decide what will be deal breakers and what will be things you can learn to live with. For example, you may overlook location issues for an excellent facility; or you may accept no meals offered if most other things meet your criteria.  It is unlikely you will get every single item that you wish for, but it is up to you to decide ultimately what is most important.  Hope this list helps! Good luck with your search!