OBSERVATIONS OF A FIRST TIME MOM

As my daughters first birthday is rapidly approaching, I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on her first year in this world, as well as my first year as a parent. It’s true what they say. They really do grow up quickly. And in my brain I understood it. But I didn’t TRULY understand it until now. If you are a parent, you know what I mean.
So here are a few random things that I’ve learned in her first year of life. No rhyme or reason or order. Just thought I would share. But I do hope at the end of it, you will pass this onto another mom, and or add your voice to the conversation. After all, the education I received from other mothers’ has been my biggest source of inspiration, learning and support. I hope where ever you are in your journey, this helps.
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* I CAN survive on less sleep than I thought I could, and so can you. I know you don’t believe me now (pregnant moms) but trust me, your body just goes into this other gear you didn’t even think you had. Sleepless mode. Some days it works. Other days use caffeine.
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* EVERYBODY asked me the same question: Is she a good sleeper? It must be the universal conversation starter to anyone with a baby. Be prepared.
* If you breastfeed – when your milk supply comes in be prepared to look like Dolly Parton with a boob job gone wrong. Enough said.
* As a mom with a baby – I was a senior citizen magnet. They love babies. Makes them feel good. I can’t tell you how many seniors were brought to tears by seeing me with my baby. Told me how lucky I was. Made me happy and a little sad at the same time.
* Sometimes I just needed a break. Giving my daughter to my husband. Going for a walk alone. Having a shower. Taking the dog out. It was a sanity saver. I couldn’t do it all the time. I tried. But it just doesn’t work.
* The first week of my daughters life, I fell in love with my husband all over again. Then shortly after, with no sleep, him going back to work, things became tougher and tougher. We took our frustrations out on each other. We never did a date night. Still haven’t in almost a year. But if you can, I think it’s worth it.
* Watching movies with babies/children/kids even adults being hurt/abducted/killed was excruciating. Couldn’t watch them without thinking that was someone’s child. Never cried as much as I did this year during TV shows and movies. (New moms do NOT watch ‘Broadchurch.’ Very good series. But tears galore!)
baby-stuff
* Babies come with a lot of stuff. We lived in a one bedroom apartment to start, and I shrugged off the notion that (especially in her first year) her stuff would overtake our place. It was a jungle gym in less than a month. They need stuff. Be prepared.
* You are inducted into the world of Motherhood by other moms. All of a sudden you are nodding at other moms with babies. They smile back at you. It’s a secret world where you understand each other without really knowing each other. It’s comforting, especially on harder days.
* Everyone has a piece of advice for you. My girlfriend was given advice from a grandmother who thought her baby was ‘underweight’. Came right over to her and told her to start feeding her rice cereal. If you can, resist the urge to spew profanities at them. All I can say is they usually mean well (*usually).
* I realized, I was very bad at giving gifts to new parents. We had a stampede of people come through our doors in my daughters first six weeks of her life. And everyone brought a gift. We are very thankful and appreciative people thought of us. But I think the best thing to give new parents is either sleepers, onesies, food or diapers (check the size).
* My previous job required me to look very professional. Clothes, makeup, hair. I had to look as though I had just walked out of a salon. This past year, I can probably count on one hand how many times I did my hair and or makeup. Funny thing is, I found real beauty again. I looked natural all the time and it felt good.
* Babies cannot blow their noses. I found this super FRUSTRATING. Little noses. Not much space to get in there. Like I said. Super Frustrating.
mombaby
* ‘Things’ didn’t matter as much. Shopping, going out to the movies/club/party, or wearing the latest boots/jacket/shirt etc. I stayed home at night more than I ever have. I wore the same clothes again and again. I rediscovered how the material things didn’t bring me the happiness that simply being with my girl did. We could be wearing paper bags, and playing with a box, and she wouldn’t have cared. I learned not to care either. That is a real gift.
* Babies can expel from every orifice in their body. At the SAME TIME. No explanation required.
* It takes a village to raise a child. One of those things you don’t realize is VERY TRUE until you have a child. You need a community of people to help out. My husband was very sick for almost a month this past year, and because of it I have a new appreciation for what single mothers go through. But the support of my community was what helped me through it. Consider yourself lucky if you have a village.
* Starting solid foods is STRESSFUL! Organics vs. non organic. Purees vs. store bought baby food. Times have changed since my mom opened a glass jar of pureed peas.
* Accomplishments in the mom world are so different than the professional world. In my previous full time job, I was constantly on the move. Everyday. Every hour. Always something different. But as a mom, the world slowed down to a snails pace. Time was spent just lying next to my baby singing songs. Or laughing at each other in the mirror. Or tasting toes for the first time. I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything in the world.
* If I could have banished sickness, I would have. The first time she got sick, I panicked. Sneezing. Coughing. Stuffy nose. People weighed in. She might have whooping cough. Sounds like maybe phenmonia. Seriously? Like I needed anymore anxiety. I called the pediatrician. The nurse called me back and calmly asked me her symptoms. She then asked me if this was my first child. I said yes. She said the next child, you won’t even notice this. In one year she’s been sick four times. I hear once they hit daycare/school it only gets worse.
mom group
* I realized I am a joiner. 8 weeks after my daughter was born I took a Mommy Connections class. I felt understood. I felt validated. I felt like every mother in that class understood what I was going through, because they too were in the trenches with me. That was priceless to me. And on top of it, I still talk to some of these moms. In fact we just exchanged Christmas cards. I look forward to watching their children grow up and looking back in 20 years wondering where the time has gone.
There’s so many more things I could write on this list. It was as if I went to a new parenting class everyday of her life this year. And I don’t think it ever ends. Next up for us: Walking and talking!
So join our conversation! What did you observe in the first year of your child’s life?

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was six years old. Once my little clock hit 8:00 am I was out my bedroom door faster than you could say Barbie. I ran down the stairs as fast as my little legs could carry me, and when I rounded the corner and saw it, I swear, you could hear a little chorus of angels singing in the background.
There it was. In all it’s glory. THE Barbie Dreamhouse. Barbie and Ken kicking back on their little plastic sofas. Dining room sets complete with a full set of forks and knives. Cozy beds, TV’s, plus boxy chairs and couches. Plus, an elevator, because the dreamhouse had three floors. Nothing like a healthy does of reality. Way to set future expectations high Santa!
barbie house
It was the best gift I ever got at Christmas. (A close second was my black rabbit I smartly named ‘Blackie.’ But once I realized Blackie hated the world and everyone in it, I was left to wonder if I had really made Santa’s naughty list that year.)
Fast forward almost twenty years later, the best gift I received this year, was a manicure and pedicure from my parents. In my younger, carefree days, I never appreciated such a simple luxury. Nowadays to have an hour all to myself, with someone pampering me? Yes please!
So what’s the best and worst gifts you’ve gotten Christmas past and present? Just for fun, I did a very unscientific survey on a mom’s facebook group in Calgary. Here’s some of the BEST:
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* A mother’s son home healthy (that is the ultimate best gift for any mom)
* Hand knit scarf, toque and mittens – it was the last gift she ever got from her mom
* A mother watching her son experience the magic of Christmas
* A trip to Banff as a family
* iPad (a very popular gift this year)
* Kobo Reader
* A brand new TV (yes please!)
The worst? There are some doozies!
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* A wife finding her husband having ‘relations’ with another woman on Christmas
* A makeup kit sent from family in Toronto that had been opened and robbed along the way – all she got was an empty box
* Elderly shoe grips (useful for some, not so much for others)
* Zombie decals for the family fan
* Skeleton wine bottle holder
* A curtain rod (functional, that’s for sure)
* Joint gift: A universal remote control (my husband would do this too!)
* Queen size panty hose (NEVER a good idea!)
So what do the experts say? Tada! A brand new coupon site from Shopzilla, Inc. polled 6,581 shoppers after they had checked out from 2,987 online retailers.
Hunting dog with a gun
Topping the list of best gifts, was money, ipads, clothing, trips and a car. However some of the more wierd items included a bible, a 9mm gun (this was an American site), a divorce, a dog and a gun (again an American site), and extra flaming hot Cheetos (huh?!).
As for the worst presents, the one that topped the list on many sites I researched was no surprise … socks! I did get socks this year, and I do love them as they have lots of cute designs on them. But I really did need socks. Most people just want to get the value bag of black socks and don’t want someone to waste a present on them.
socks
Other items on the worst present list: Sweaters, a blue velour jogging suit (who does that?!), a can of blood sausage, carpet cleaner, fruit cake (wholeheartedly agree), nose hair clipper and razors. Why, oh, why people?!
Anyways regardless of what you got for Christmas this year, I hope that it was an enjoyable year with family and friends! And if you got undesirable gifts, think re-gift or better yet donation! One person’s trash is another person’s treasure!
What is the best and worst present you got this year?

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For more on the Tada! poll check it out here:
http://www.tada.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/ta-gift_happiness-04.png
http://www.tada.com/blog/infographic-gift-happiness-facts-figures/
This UK company is fully aware that socks is the worst gift to give someone … however they think that their unique looking socks might change opinions:
http://elliottrose.co.uk/inside-the-box/all-gifts/socks

Happy Holiday’s to you and your family where ever you may be celebrating Christmas this season!
Personally, this has been the best year of my life. My husband and I welcomed our first child in January, a baby girl. We are truly over the moon in love with her (and still are)! Not a day goes by I don’t appreciate the blessing of this little girl in our lives. Don’t get me wrong, being a parent has challenged me in ways I never expected. I have permanent bags under my eyes. Sleeping in is making it to six am and if I didn’t have an ulcer before, I may just have two now with all the worrying I do about her. I also apologize to my mom … a lot. And all of a sudden I realize why my parents did the things they did. Because of love. Love, love, love. I am grateful to my folks more than ever, and I wouldn’t give up this new job as mom for anything in the world.
So this holiday season, we will share the love and joy of the season with her for the first time. Starting new family traditions, and showing her just how magical this time of year really is. From my family to yours, we wish you all the best this season and in 2014.
Now to make you laugh. Laughter is what carries us through the sleepless times, the challenging and difficult times. It’s a staple in our household. So at the expense of my husband (who isn’t really like the papa in this story … I love you honey!) … this is my re-worked version of an old classic, Twas the night before Christmas. I am no poet. Just looking to make you smile.
Enjoy!
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T’was the night before Christmas,
When all through the space,
The only creature that was stirring, was mommy cleaning the place.
The stockings were hung by the chimney (by who else, mom) with care.
In the hopes that St. Nicholas (would ease the burden on mom) and soon be there.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugarplums danced in their heads.
And mama, watching papa sleeping in his ball cap,
He had promised to help her, but fell asleep for what ‘he said’ was a short cat nap.
Santa_-reindeer
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
Mama sprang from the kitchen, cursing about having to see what was the matter.
Away to the window she flew like a flash.
He better not wake up the kids, she whispered as she threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow –
Gave way to kids prints on the window, when they had been throwing objects below.
When what to mom’s wondering, worried and weary eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer —
With a little old driver so lively and quick,
Mom did a fist pump and knew help had arrived, it MUST be St. Nick. (or the drunk next door neighbour, but she was optimistic that it wasn’t the latter).
More rapid than eagles his courses they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
(NOTE: Papa STILL asleep on the couch)
“Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer!” —
“DON’T YOU DARE CALL OUT VIXEN,” shouted Mama!
“I can see Comet, it’s very Cupid, but ENOUGH from Donner and Blitzen,” she said.
“Don’t go on top of the roof or off the wall,”
“Instead PLEASE have them dash away before THE KIDS WAKE UP … so quickly DASH AWAY ALL!!!”
Startled Santa, quickly sent the reindeer away to fly,
Before mom’s blood pressure really went sky high.
So Santa just walked through the front door,
With a little coaxing from Mom for some Bailey’s and more.
clip_art_illustration_of_santa_smiling_carrying_a_large_sack_of_toys_0521-1012-0313-3227_SMU
Dressed in fur from head to foot,
His clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
“Oh great,” said mom, more laundry to do.
“Take the bundle of toys,” she said,
“I’ll clean your jacket and give it right back.”
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
He knew he Mom was a pro, so he had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, and went straight to work,
And filled all the stockings — then turned to the jerk — I meant to say turned WITH a jerk (typo – don’t read into it — I love you honey.)
Santa gave the kids the toys, and the books, and the ipads galore,
So they would stop asking Mom to buy them more, more, more!
And when it came to presents for dear mama,
He decided to reward her, after this long year of drama.
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Red wine, bubble bath, some naughty books to bring her smile back.
New clothes, flats for shoes, after all if he left heels, she’d be sure to give him a smack.
Fancy chocolates, did we mention wine?
A year’s worth of free house cleaning, Santa knew was just fine.
So after mom gave him his laundered jacket that smelled like a rose,
He walked out the front door feeling like a new man in his fresh clothes.
He sprang to his sleigh (amazing what a little Bailey’s can do) to his subdued team and gave not a whistle,
Under the watchful eye of Mom they hurried away before she chased them down for potentially being as loud as a missile.
santa-flying
But before Santa left, she watched him mouth as he drove out of sight …
“Happy Christmas To All Moms …
For all that you do, all that you are, and all that you put up with … you deserve to have a good night.”
So Mom with a smile, closed the front door,
Walked to the chimney,
cracked open the wine bottle and gleefully gave it a pour.
(Note: Papa, still asleep. Sigh. Oh well.)
To you Santa, she raised up her glass,
Now that is one fine man with class.
Merry Christmas Mama’s!

My sister is a Kate-Middleton-aholic. She doesn’t drink. Or smoke. Or gamble. She simply obsesses over the Duchess of Cambridge. It’s her thing. She reads about Kate on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. Watches out for every event she attends. Red carpet she walks down. Public appearance she makes. Buying my big sister a Christmas gift? Very easy. So last week, when she read Kate was speaking at a children’s hospice about introducing George to ‘messy play’ she wanted to know right away, if I had introduced messy play to my own daughter.
kate-middleton-prince-william-and-prince-george
I am not a royal watcher. But admittedly, Kate appears to be a genuine woman. So I can appreciate my sister wanting to make sure her own niece is keeping up with the Windsor’s (minus the money, fame, palace, etc.).
As for the term ‘messy play,’ it is self explanatory, but the phrase isn’t as popular in Canadian education circles, as is ‘sensory play.’ Dr. Jane Hewes, Chair of the Early Childhood Education Program at Grant MacEwan College, focused her graduate work on the fascinating study of children’s play. In her paper, “Let the Children Play: Nature’s Answer to Early Learning,” she explains that from birth to two and a half, there are three types of play:
Exploratory Play, Object Play and Sensory Play
Very young children exploring objects and environments (ie: touching, mouthing, tossing, banging, squeezing). Sensory play appears in children’s early attemps to feed themselves. As they get older, materials like playdough, clay and paint add to sensory play experiences.
So I’m not sure where Prince George is at, but here’s what my daughters’ got covered:
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Touching: Try finding something she DOESN’T touch.
Mouthing: Let’s just say if her job was as a taste tester, then she would be employee of the month on a regular basis.
Tossing: Why do I even bother putting things away. Maybe she will be good in discus or javelin. Olympics here we come!
Banging: Who needs to sleep at six am? And on top of that we’ve stopped buying toys. Pots and pans are much better. Santa just bring us a bundt pan. Merry Christmas me.
Squeezing: Food apparently tastes better, the more it’s crushed between her little chubby hands. And the dog doesn’t care what it looks like either. She still eats it when flung off the high chair. Win-win!
So back to Kate. Where does messy play fit into the picture?
Tina Franchuk, education coach for Bright Path has worked in the field of early childhood education for the past ten years. She says sensory play is more general while messy play is more specific (and as it sounds messier). Messy play includes things like blowing bubbles, sandtables, mud tables, shaving cream, finger painting. Franchuk says both are a major part of a child’s development.
“At this age (six months to age two), they are becoming aware of their environment with first hand experiences. When they can feel something cold, sticky, slimy, they begin to understand and that’s when brain development improves. Instead of telling them it’s cold – as they don’t have the mental capacity yet – let them experience it. That’s when they truly develop their cognitive skills and brain development.”
So what can you do to foster more messy and sensory play at home? Here are some of Franchuk’s suggestions:
MESSYPLAY
Finger painting – using non toxic, washable paint, be prepared to get dirty. Yes, this includes finger and toe painting. We haven’t tried this yet. Apparently not only does their body become a canvas for art, so does yours. So both of you should be ‘dressed’ appropriately. This also helps contribute to creative development.
Bubbles – helps with all learning domains – physical, fine motor skills (pop with fingers), spacial awareness. This was a big hit with my daughter. She wasn’t quite fast enough to catch the bubbles before they burst in her face, but she couldn’t take her eyes off the magical bubbles.
Touch & Feel books – Flaps with pages, soft fur, sounds, squeakers, etc. These are the books that are always a hit with my baby. As she gets older, the ‘flip-ups’ are starting to become ‘rip-ups’ but that’s what tape is for.
Anything with buttons – pushing toys, pushing buttons, flaps open, keys moving up and down.
A cloth bag with a variety of objects inside to pull out, touch, feel – choose a variety of items like a soft ball, bumpy ball, a feather, a bell, Christmas garland. This is a great chance for kids to explore.
bubbles
Franchuk says try to invent something new every week. The more a child is exposed to the activity, the more they are able to learn. She says it takes 16-22 times doing something before a child is able to understand. One time exposure won’t develop the brain. She stresses that you need to continually expose your child to these activities. Just like you tell an adult something and they may, or may not remember. But once it becomes a routine, then it develops into a habit.
So at this point, I think Kate and I just got a little closer. Besides the fact we share the same first name (her official name is Katherine), and middle name, our babies are both adorable and they both love messy play. I may not be a royal watcher but I do like that messy play is apart of George’s education. And if it means more parents will seek it out to be-like-Kate, then I’m all for it.
prince-george-baby-passport-ftr
As for my sister, I’ve encouraged her to do more ‘messy play’ with my daughter when she’s babysitting. In fact just the other day she had a big bag of shredded paper at her apartment. As I was going out to do some errands, I suggested that perhaps if Kate was here, she’d let George loose with the bag of paper ‘shreddies’. She bought it. Opened the bag and let the confetti size paper free. I left shortly between the paper in my daughters’ mouth, and all over her apartment. I think I’ll suggest finger painting next time Auntie babysits.
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Further information:
Jane Hewes, PhD Article on Let the Children Play: Nature’s Answer to Early Learning:
http://www.ccl-cca.ca/pdfs/ECLKC/lessons/Originalversion_LessonsinLearning.pdf
As part of Bright Path’s curriculum, everyday children are involved in sensory activities. Sometimes both in the morning and in the afternoon. Infants always have sensory activities while toddlers have a variety of these activities in the morning and afternoon. For more information on Bright Path early learning and childcare centres, you can find them at:
http://brightpathkids.com/
For more information on Kate Middleton: google Kate Middleton.
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What do you do for sensory play? Or messy play? Leave your comments below. We can always use new ideas!

Hello friends!
We are thrilled to announce we will be holding TWO mom and baby classes, as well as one parent & tot class starting January 2014!
Our mom and baby class is for moms with babies up to the age of one. It’s a chance to bond with your baby, learn more about the development of your little one, and meet other moms in your community. We are offering two classes at two different times and locations (depending on your baby, nap schedules, etc). They are as follows:
Option 1 – Tuesday January 14th – March 4th from 1:00-2:30pm. These classes will be held at Brite Studios (30 Springborough Blvd. SW).
Option 2 – Wednesday January 15th – March 5th from 11:00-12:30am. These classes will be held at Music and Play Studio D in Aspen Landing (333 Aspen Glen Landing).
Our modernized programs are held for 90 minutes over a period of 8 weeks and include expert speakers on topics such as sleep solutions, baby wearing, postpartum fitness, starting solids (nutrition), infant CPR, mom & baby music, baby massage, infant dental care, discovering your role as mom and more!
As for our interactive parent and tot classes, this session will run for 6 weeks and is guaranteed to get your toddler up, active and fully engaged in every class. The class starts on Monday January 27th – March 10 (excluding Family Day) from 10:30-11:30am at Fun N’ More Family Entertainment Centre. Each week your toddler will test out a different class, and a different activity such as music and play, yoga, crafts, storytime, and much more. After the 45 minute class, the kids are free to use the indoor entertainment centre at Fun N’ More for NO EXTRA CHARGE.
If you are a parent or caregiver with a toddler and a baby under a year of age, you can join for no extra cost. If you are a mom with a toddler, and another infant or toddler over the age of one, the second child is half price! Contact katherine@mommyconnections.ca for more information about pricing. This program is for kids who are up to the age of 4.
For more details go to ‘class dates’ or send me an email (katherine@mommyconnections.ca) and I’d be happy to answer any questions you have! Don’t miss out on the chance to meet new friends, learn and bond with your baby or toddler, during this precious time. Space is limited, so register today!
Here is what our January schedule looks like for our mom & baby classes. Dates, times and presenters are subject to change.
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“Baby, it’s cold outside,
I really can’t stay – Baby it’s cold outside
I’ve got to go away – Baby it’s cold outside
This evening has been – Been hoping that you’d drop in
So very nice – I’ll hold your hands, they’re just like ice,
Baby, it’s cold outside.”
Written in 1944, we all know this classic Christmas tune by Frank Loesser. I was pondering this song the other day, and I couldn’t help but think, that if Mr. Loesser had this recipe for delicious, ooey, gooey chocolate chip cookies, he could have skipped the song and she would have stayed for cookies and milk. So as I sit here on a cold and blustery night with the little one tucked away in her bed and my hubby watching re-runs of West Wing, I thought I’d share this yummy recipe. Definitely NOT to MAKE anyone STAY. But more to share the joy of a great chocolate chip cookie on a cold night. Plus, I think we can all agree more time needs to be devoted to eating a just-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookie, with a tall, cold glass of milk (almond or soy included). Yummy!
cookie_batter1
David’s Chocolate Chippers:
1/2 cup butter/margarine
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp soda
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (add more if you want more ooey, gooeyness)
1/2 cup broken walnuts or pecans (optional)
Cream butter (or margarine), sugars, egg and vanilla until light and fluffy. Sift dry ingredients and stir into creamed mixture and blend well. Add chocolate chips and nuts. (try not to eat the batter – I dare you:)
Drop from teaspoon 2 inches apart on a sprayed or parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes (you know your oven best). Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack to cool.
Freezes very well, and tastes good directly from the freezer.
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* Before you head off to make these delicious cookies – one side note.
My husband, who is NOT a baker decided one night shortly after our daughter was born, that he wanted to make chocolate chip cookies. So he made this recipe, and although it was glorious in all it’s deliciousness, the batter was runny and the cookie was flat. Almost pancake-like. It had a slightly different taste than I was used to, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. He liked them so much, he started making them on a regular basis, which is odd because he doesn’t cook or bake often (like ever)! So one day I noticed our two litre of CLUB SODA was opened, I put two and two together, and realized he thought the recipe called for CLUB SODA, not BAKING SODA. It was quite funny, and plus how can you ‘scold’ anyone who voluntarily makes you chocolate chip cookies? That’s why we now call this recipe David’s chocolate chippers.
There was also the time he used EXPIRED baking soda (very hard), and once he used ‘rock salt’ instead of table salt. He’s learning:)
If you have a SCRUMPTIOUS recipe for chocolate chip cookies – please share the love and the recipe! More chocolate chip cookies to go around! Delicious!

This past summer I had a crisis of parenting confidence. It’s not unusual, after all I am a new mom to a little baby girl who hasn’t yet hit her first birthday. Is she sleeping long enough? Am I feeding her the right foods? Will it damage her forever if I don’t give her all organic foods? These were just a few of the concerns I had, and she wasn’t even six months old. But this was different because I am a teacher and education is my forte.
It all started when I had gone out for lunch with a new mommy friend and she began explaining how she educates her son by doing ‘scales’ everyday.
tmy-002_3z
I panicked. I am a certified teacher, having spent six years teaching high school in the public system both in Ontario and Alberta. So as a teacher, I should know this! I should know what scales are, and I should have already started teaching these ‘scales’ to my daughter. The problem was, I had no idea what ‘scales’ were. So I nodded my head, as if this was a good thing to do, and then I noncholontely asked just how she goes about doing these ‘scales.’
Similar to the route method of learning musical scales, she does the same route method of focused learning every morning with her son. With classical music playing softly in the background she takes our her various flash cards (ie: alphabet, number, etc) and goes through each of them speaking them aloud and explaining them to him. She didn’t claim in any way that it would give him an education advantage, but she did said he seemed to enjoy doing it.
Baby-with-glasses
Driving home after lunch, with classical music on in the car of course, I thought to myself, am I missing something? Should I have already started teaching my daughter these things? Is she going to go into school and not have the same knowledge and language skills? When is the right time to start structured education?
According to the Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development your child’s brain develops very quickly. From birth to age two, his/her brain increases from 1/4 to 3/4 the weight of an adult brain. Their recommendation for these crucial years of brain development are to:
* Stimulate your child’s senses. Let him experience new sounds, foods and objects. This will help develop his senses and build the structure of his brain.
* Play with your child. Be a caring parent to your child. These are early actions you can take to help your child’s brain to develop in a healthy way.
* Nurture and comfort your child. Interact with him and be responsive. Show your child that he can trust you to be supportive and to take care of him when he needs food or comfort.
dad-playing-with-baby
So how does that relate to early education? Well, the theories across Canada for best practices for early childhood education vary, based on culture, tradition and family backgrounds. However Judy Arnall of Professional Parenting Canada, says the best thing you can do for your baby is play. Give them a cardboard box to play with, things to build, bang or taste. Help them learn through their five senses (sight, sound, touch, taste, smell) and it’s through this type of education they will get what they need the most which is language.
“Language is the most important thing they need to acquire before school. Everyone starts grade one just requiring to know their name. They don’t need flash cards, they don’t need to learn violin. There’s plenty of time for that later. Too early learning could turn them off. It’s a waste of time. It’s better they chew the flash cards than to learn them.”
I do own alphabet and number flash cards, and at one point I put them in front of my daughter thinking I would go through each of them just like my friend did. But she found more joy in eating them, and throwing them around the room, rather than studying them. I have since put them away, for now. Instead, I am giving her the best educational tool that I could find. Myself. Lots of mom time, unstructured, to just play.
mom-and-baby
For further information, here are a few helpful resources I mentioned in the above article:
http://www.professionalparenting.ca/
http://www.child-encyclopedia.com/pages/PDF/Brain-StructureANGmcP.pdf
http://www.child-encyclopedia.com/en-ca/key-messages-list.html
http://www.parentlinkalberta.ca/publish/default.htm
http://www.programs.alberta.ca/Living/5252.aspx?Ns=363+6242&N=770
* Every province has their own guidelines and cirriculum built for best practices in early childhood education. It’s worth a read to find yours for the particular province you live in.

“Peanut butter sandwich made with jam,
One for me and one for David M.
A peanut butter sandwich made with jam,
Stick, stick, stick, stick, stick.”
– Raffi
Growing up in my house, we loved Raffi. And we loved him even more because he loved peanut butter and jam sandwiches, just like we did.So when my daughter was born, I passed on my love of Raffi almost immediately, but peanut butter, that was a different story.
I had it all planned out. In one arm I would hold my jar of peanut butter, and in the other arm I would holding my baby. I would march into the closest hospital, sit in the waiting room, and give my daughter her first taste of peanut butter.
Then I would wait. Watch. Cross my fingers.
Hope that her skin wouldn’t puff up like a balloon, or worse, she’d stop breathing. But then I had my basis covered. I would be in the hospital already. Just in case.
Fortunately I came to my senses, and decided one morning without any build up, that I would test my ten month old daughter out on nuts.
Almost butter first.
So far so good.
A little on her lips. Nothing red.
A little on her hand. Nothing swollen.
Then a little on a piece of toast. Nothing, but grabbing for more.
A few days later, I put on my brave hat again, and gave her one of my favourite things in the world … ooey, gooey, sticky, creamy, peanut butter.
r-PEANUT-BUTTER-large570
We got lucky. No allergic reaction. But not everybody is so fortunate.
According to the Canadian Paediatric Society, an estimated 7% of Canadians suffer from food allergies. But other evidence from Australia studies claim this number to be higher, especially in infants, with up to 10% of one year olds suffering from allergies.
While I was nowhere near parenting land at this time, the previous advice set in 2000 by the American Academy of Pediatrics suggested waiting until your child was at least one before testing them on milk, two before introducing eggs, and three before giving them peanuts or seafood. The AAP changed their recommendations in 2008, saying their was no conclusive evidence that waiting this long made a difference. And finally this week, the Canadian Paediatric Society agreed.
The CPS released a document this week saying there is:
“… no benefit to delaying the introduction of any specific solid food, including highly allergenic proteins, beyond six months of age to prevent food allergy from developing.” (***this doesn’t count for kids who ALREADY have known food allergies***)
In fact, delaying the introduction could cause more harm:
7_Allergy_Foods
“Later introduction of peanut, fish or egg does not prevent, and may even increase, the risk of developing food allergy.”
The announcement, was welcome news for Jennifer House, a registered dietician, nutritionist and owner of a family nutrition business First Step Nutrition, in Calgary, Alberta. As a mother of two children ages 6 and 3, plus one on the way, she tested her first child with peanuts at a year, tested her second at eight months of age and will now do it earlier with her third.
“This should decrease anxiety in parents, knowing you are doing a good thing by introducing these foods early. Further research is currently underway, but there’s enough evidence for them (CPS) to make these statements. Overall, it’s a good thing. A step in the right direction.”
peanut-butter-baby-425jh100
So when should you introduce these highly allergic foods? To make it simple, if your child already HAS known food allergies, the new CPS position DOES NOT apply to your infant. However if your child IS considered high risk, meaning a parent or sibling has known food allergies, then House says you CAN still try them on risky foods at six months (providing they don’t have any known allergies). But she stresses, to KEEP exposing the new food(s) to your infant more than just once.
“It’s important to regularly expose the child several times a week. Don’t introduce your six month old to peanut butter, then wait until they’re eight months old and give it to them again. Give it to them every few days so they do have that regular exposure.”
As for our little family, well my daughter is really mine. She LOVES peanut butter, and for me it’s entertaining to watch her get it stuck to the roof of her mouth. And now with the new recommendations, I don’t need my brave hat anymore. I can test without the anxiety. Fish,and shellfish are on the menu for next week!
So to sum up … Raffi, peanut butter and jam are now all beloved in our house!
baby-eating
For more information check out the official statement and study by the Canadian Paediatric Society: http://www.cps.ca/documents/position/dietary-exposures-and-allergy-prevention-in-high-risk-infants
Mompreneur and nutritionist Jennifer House can be found at the website below. Her specialty is pre and post natal information – and she has a blog with great tips and advice for healthy eating for the whole family (*and PICKY eaters*):
http://firststepnutrition.com
Also, if you’d like more information on how to properly test your child, check out this excellent website by Dr. Joneja which has VERY thorough and helpful explanations on allergies (for all ages, not just babies/infants):
http://www.allergynutrition.com/
*** You should ALWAYS check with your doctor prior to testing your baby/infant/children on new foods. The CPS is a guideline, and every family is unique with different histories. So be on the safe side always and check with your doctor first.***
How did your first time food testing go? Did anyone have anxiety like I did?

As the countdown to Christmas begins, I’d like to start the holiday season by recommending a book that has become a tradition already, in my daughters’ life. I originally bought the ‘Tickle Monster’ by Josie Bissett, for my husband as a gift for his first Father’s Day. Best. Present. Ever. My daughter was not even five months old at the time, but she was all smiles from the first day he cracked open the book. I’ve written a review of the book below … It would make a GREAT present under the tree this season! If you have a good book to recommend, please add it in the comment section below, as books make FANTASTIC Christmas gifts! Happy reading!
***
Bright. Blue. Mittens.
They’re the first thing that jumps out at you, when you open the box. Yes, ‘Tickle Monster’ is a book, but it’s housed in a colourful thick box. With bright blue mittens hanging inside along with the large ‘Tickle Monster’ book . Intriguing? Definitely. Why not play along.
The mittens have large poke through finger holes for any size hands, and fingers. Plenty of space to flex and move your fingers around. If you are going to read the book, it’s mandatory. Put the mitts on.
Tickle monster is a quirky bright blue cartoon ‘monster’ (if you consider a monster to be super hug-and-kissable). Hailing from Planet Tickle, Tickle Monster or TM (as I will fondly refer to him), travels the world doing what he loves to do best, which is tickling. From feet to knees, necks to underarms, there’s plenty of opportunity for TM (ie the wearer of the magical blue mittens) to tickle and delight young readers throughout the book. It’s light. It’s fun. It’s very creative!
tickle-monster-book
The illustrations work beautifully along the with the text. TM is an adorable character, in fact throughout the book the illustrator Kevan J. Atteberry seems to capture the bubbly, light hearted nature of the words by perfectly designing vibrant characters and pictures.
Author Josie Bissett weaves the TM tale simply yet masterfully, by rhyming and using alliterations from beginning to end. She creates … wait. Why do I recognize that name?
Josie Bissett …. Hmmmmm. Yes! That’s where I remember her from. Indulge me a minute here. If you were born in the seventies or eighties you might remember her as Jane Mancini the colourful character on the popular drama Melrose Place. The Jane who, once sweet as apple pie, eventually became evil and at one point planned to kill an enemy in a plot of revenge. How things have changed!
I digress. Back to the blue monster.
The book is targeted for children ages four and up, but I have no hesitation for suggesting it could be read and enjoyed by kids even younger than four.
My daughter is ten months old now and While she doesn’t fully understand it yet, she does speak the simple language of laughter. Everytime the box comes out, you can see the excitement in her eyes. My husband puts on the gloves, and tickles her as the TM which is how it is designed to be read. It’s priceless and so precious to watch. It’s now become his tradition, between father and daughter. One that I know they will have forever.
Laughter is such a precious sound from a child, and this book will no doubt have children everywhere smiling and giggling from head to toe.
Well done Jane. I mean Josie!
What books have become traditions in your house?
Tickle Monster

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