Establishing Healthy Sleep Habits in Infants

Guest Blog Post By Dr. Nicky Cohen and Dr. Pamela Mitelman

 

Sleep – or the lack of it – is a popular topic amongst parents. Sleep challenges are common in infancy and are among the top 5 parental concerns reported to physicians. Common sleep problems include bedtime difficulties, frequent night wakings, early morning wakings, and napping problems. While there is so much information available to parents through self-help books and on the Internet, it can be confusing as to which advice to follow.

 

Below are some guidelines to help you establish healthy sleep habits for your baby.

 

Falling asleep independently: Babies who are at least 3 months of age can start to learn to fall asleep on their own. Learning this life-long sleep skill is associated with falling asleep more quickly, as well as better night sleep and naps. While the window of opportunity to learn how to fall asleep independently does not close, the earlier a child is given the opportunity to learn, the quicker and easier the process can be.

 

Optimal Sleep Environment: A good sleep environment for a child is important in setting the stage for good sleep. This includes a dark and quiet room, and a temperature on the cool side of comfortable. Low-level white or pink noise (a constant and even sound) can help block noise and can be soothing for a young child. Ensure that the white or pink noise is not too loud in a child’s room (aim for 30-40 decibels) and is as far away from the crib as possible. Moderate-level white or pink noise can also be used in a hallway to help block household noise.

 

Safe Sleep Environment: Practice safe sleep for every sleep period (day and night). According to Canadian Pediatric Society and Health Canada safe guidelines, the back to sleep position is associated with a decreased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). However, according to these guidelines, once a baby can get to another position (side or tummy) on his or her own, they do not need to be repositioned. Due to the risk of safety concerns, most notably suffocation, always ensure that there are no soft materials in your child’s crib. If a second layer of clothing is needed in the cooler months, a sleep sack is a recommended alternative to a loose blanket.  

 

Consistent Bedtime and Naptime Routine: A consistent and predictable bedtime routine is an important step in establishing good sleep habits. A bedtime routine cues to a child that bedtime is approaching and prepares the body for sleep. A routine for a baby may include a bath, getting dressed, a bedtime feed, cleaning gums/teeth, and a song and/or a book. The end of the routine should take place in the child’s room in low-level lighting. A shorter nap routine such as a diaper change, sleep sack (if needed), and song can also be helpful.

 

Age Appropriate Sleep Schedule: Ensure that your baby is on the right sleep schedule for his or her age. By 3-4 months of age, many infants are sleeping 11-12 hours at night. Night feeds are usually needed until a baby is 6-8 months of age (unless the baby has dropped his or her night feeds). Most infants are napping 3 times a day by 4 months of age. It is common for the third nap to be dropped between 7-8 months of age. Make sure to keep your baby awake for long enough between naps. The time that your infant spends awake between naps varies throughout infancy and these wakeful windows increasewith age. Keeping a baby awake long enough before a nap helps to ensure that he or she is tired enough when put down. See the table below for guidelines for daytime wake windows for infants.

 

Daytime Wake Windows

AGE

WAKE – START NAP 1

END NAP 1 – START NAP 2

END NAP 2 – START NAP 3

0-3 months

Varies Widely

4-6 months

2 hours

2.5 hours

2.5 hours

6-9 months

2-2.5 hours

2.5-3 hours

2.5-3 hours

9-12 months

2.5-3 hours

3-3.5 hours

Not Applicable

 

Pleasant dreams!

 

 

Dr. Nicky Cohen is a Registered Psychologist in private practice in Toronto. She received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from York University and developed an interest in parenting issues related to children’s sleep disturbances after having her first child. She is active in the community disseminating information on healthy sleep practices and increasing awareness of the importance of making sufficient sleep a family priority. Dr. Cohen’s book PARENTING YOUR CHILD TO SLEEP is now available in Kindle ebook format and paperback on Amazon.

 

Dr. Pamela Mitelman is a Montreal based Licensed Clinical Psychologist working in private practice. She received her Psy.D. from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology in Chicago. Her interest in pediatric sleep disturbances was peeked while assessing children for learning difficulties and was further solidified after having children of her own. Dr. Mitelman is passionate about educating families on the importance of healthy sleep practices.

 

 

The information provided by Dr. Cohen and Dr. Mitelmanis not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Individuals are encouraged to speak with a physician or other health care provider if they have concerns regarding their child’s sleep and before starting any treatment plan. The information provided by Dr. Cohen and Dr. Mitelmanis provided with the understanding that they are not rendering clinical, counselling, or other professional services or advice. Such information is intended solely as a general educational aid and not for any individual problem. It is also not intended as a substitute for professional advice and services from a qualified healthcare provider familiar with your unique facts.

 

Are you looking for a safe and effective way to boost your kiddos immune system during Cold & Flu Season? A.Vogel Echinaforce® Junior Echinacea Tabs is a clinically proven safe and effective cold and flu prevention and treatment remedy for children ages 2+.

Echinaforce® Junior can be taken daily to help to boost and maintain an immune system that remains on alert, or at the first sign of infection to relieve the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections (common cold and flu) and shorten their duration.

I have been giving Echinaforce® Junior to my daughters since the beginning of October (along with practicing good hand washing!), and so far they’ve been able to fight off the rampant germs that have been circulating. They have no issues taking the tablets, as they are easily chewable, and don’t taste like medicine.

Earlier this month, Daddy came down with a gross cold, and he tried to accuse the kids of getting him sick – but they had NO SYMPTOMS! Even though he was sneezing and coughing all over the place (seriously Dude, just because we’re family doesn’t mean we want to share your germs – so gross!), they remained healthy, and haven’t had to miss any days of school or daycare.

(New research shows that Echinaforce® Junior reduces cold and flu symptoms, duration and complication risk by 65% and cuts the need for antibiotics by 76%!)

With so many holiday parties and visits with family & friends on the calendar, I’m happy to have something in my arsenal to keep the germs at bay, and hopefully make it through the season without being taken down by illness!

 

By Melissa MacDonald, Midtown Toronto Mommy Blogger

We found out just how hard it can be to pack up even a one-bedroom condo. Since we couldn’t pack much during the day because the baby needed our attention, and at night we didn’t want to wake her with too much noise, we had to be very organized.

Lots of people generously offered their help so we decided to ask some of them to help during the pack stage, and some during the unpacking at our new place. My husband and I also took turns on tackling the packing so that one of us was always available to maintain the babies schedule. We packed overnight bags for all of us so that we always had access to the essentials as the move date got closer.

We started the process weeks early for the knick-knack things and used the time we had help to tackle the big things like the kitchen. We found lots of people giving away boxes through Facebook so we didn’t need to buy any – and LCBO boxes fit your glasses and breakables nicely!

So while it was more difficult with a Little One, it definitely wasn’t impossible. Turns out the village it takes to raise a baby is also available as part time movers.

Use those connections, and ask your village to lend you a hand, Mama!

 

By Midtown Toronto Mommy Blogger: Melissa MacDonald

If social media is to be believed… on Mother’s Day we should be sipping our hot coffee in bed bathed in the warm glow of the sunlight streaming in with baby sleeping soundly in the other room… (cue laughter).

Since this is my first Mother’s Day experience as a Mom I thought I’d share some of the ways I was so wrong about how this morning would go.

Expectation 1: Baby sleeps in and I get to catch up on rest

Reality: Ha! Baby greets the world at 6am

 

Expectation 2: After feeding the baby I can go back to sleep or stay in bed for a bit reading magazines and having a hot coffee

Reality: By 7:30 am husband asks “umm so are you staying in bed all day??” Not a page turned in a single magazine. Gulp down that cold coffee and get moving!

 

Expectation 3: Go for a nice family walk, get a fancy coffee and take some pictures together – with me actually in them!

Reality: 80% chance of rain and the sun is the only thing sleeping in today.

So now I sit… sipping a new luke-warm coffee from a shiny new mug that says “mom” thinking about how lucky I really am to have the cuddles, laughter and reality of my little family.

After all – isn’t that the point of celebrating today? Enjoying the messiness and hilarious reality that is Momhood?!

We should know by now that nothing with kids ever goes as planned! So let’s raise those new “Mom” mugs in solidarity to each other’s achievements and enjoy our day – whatever that looks like.

That’s reality, Mama.

Guest blog post by: Andrea Page, Fitmom Fitness

We can also talk until we are blue in the face, but if we do not have practical solutions for dealing with mental health in real time, talk is yes very cheap. Why do I believe maternal mental health is the benchmark for a healthy society? Simple. 90% of the time a mother is the one providing the fundamental nurturance for infant and toddlers in the time their brains are being wired and developed most.

When we neglect mothers we neglect society.

I did my first media piece on mental health and motherhood 15 years ago on than CITY TV. I was actually in the thick of it. I told half truths and was still banging on doors for help. I was working myself to the bone caring for other mothers and barely sleeping and to be frank was a complete mess most of the time ( but a very good actress ). I lived with shame and guilt. Parented poorly. Did not really know how to ask for the right kind of help. This is a cycle in my family passed down and will share more at a later date. I talked and talked about mental health publicly for years and than I really just stopped. I was tired of stating the obvious and preaching to what felt like the wrong people….. mothers.

After Bell Lets Talk along with a very disastrous mile stone in my families mental health this month, I am opening up again, but with the goal to not just talk but offer tangible solutions and shed valuable insight on improving our collective mental health. I will not be sharing all of my thoughts and insight here but on my personal facebook Andrea Fitmom Page and you are welcome to add me or follow me if this interest you.

I also am available for coaching on how to address with practical measurable changes in addressing acute situations with mothers, children and teens and have caregivers, teachers, principles and parents contact me for advocacy often to help create plans that actually help people without depending on the system that is very broken. You must empower your mental health and that of those you love. There is no quick fix. You have to do the work.

Lastly I will leave you with my post from today on Facebook, and invite you to join me:

“So I have decided to attempt to talk about mental health everyday and back it up with meaningful education and actions you can take for yourself and those around you. A huge corporation that gouges Canadians playing on the vulnerabilities of peoples stories when they have a known track record of not dealing with their own employees mental health does not fly. They ploy us to do their marketing for them for a massive tax right off and does not make a real dent in my opinion. Its about changing us. Our responses. It is about social education. It is not about depending on a broken system.

So day 1.

I have debilitating depression and anxiety that I have learned over time to manage most often and continue to heal the underlying issues. Sometimes my mental health effects my ability to show up for my children and my clients. THERE ARE ALWAYS UNDERLYING ISSUES. You cannot talk about MENTAL HEALTH without talking about trauma current and trans-generational. In fact talk really is cheap. It is good to have someone to talk too but to get the tools to manage a panic attack in real time is essential to helping growth and productivity. The very first thing I would suggest is to recognize there is no easy way out. You MUST DO THE WORK. Hard yes if depression is a factor. Double check if you are surrounding yourself with people strong enough to hold you accountable with love. There can be a cycle of poor decision making when we are suffering the most that feeds the cycle. That is a pattern. You need loving people to challenge you to manage your self care properly. Own your patterns with self love and compassion and commitment to doing better each day. This week I am running a self care challenge that I will run again in a couple weeks. Improving your mental health is about developing self awareness. It is about sharpening your tool kit. It is about fighting back when it knocks you down.”

Each moment is a chance,

Andrea  xo

About Andrea Page, Fitmom Fitness:

In 1999 I became pregnant with my first child I had very little support and I was not prepared for the immense responsibility and stress that accompanies motherhood.

Mothering did not come naturally to me. Like most of us, my reality was often at odds with the glamorized version perpetuated by North American media. I bought into the idea of ‘Supermom’ thinking that if I worked hard to ‘do it all’, I would indeed become one. I was wrong; I often felt isolated and cut off from my community and, it turns out, I wasn’t alone. The experience of raising three sons and training over 50,000 women has taught me that mothering in seclusion is not a healthy option. Community is the key to improving a sense of balance and strength in mothering.

Over the years, my story and what is now called “Andrea Pages Original FITMOM™” programs have inspired women to prioritize their self-care and encouraged women to work together to build community. These values are echoed in every FITMOM™ original class and city that our programs are offered. We encourage our members to strive for balance in their daily lives and we assist them in reaching their personal health and wellness goals. Our ultimate goal is to create a community in which mothers and families can thrive.

By: Shannon Fisher, And Now I’m A Mom

Alright mamas, it’s time to talk about it. We face it every day. It’s amazing, it’s magical, it’s maddening, it’s stretched, it’s different, it’s life-giving, it’s wonderful, it’s earned, and it’s frustrating.

That’s right, it’s our postpartum body. Nobody gives birth and then immediately looks like they did pre-pregnancy, so we’re inundated with two types of articles as we’re spending our few free moments scrolling the depths of social media. The first, is that your new body is basically an eyesore and you must diet and workout constantly until it returns to it’s original state.

Yeah, sure. In the words of Ariana Grande, Thank U, next.

The next type of article is that we need to love and cherish every inch of this large, stretched out squishy belly, because, well it gave us our baby. And let’s not forget the “other women would dream of having a postpartum belly, be thankful what you have” posts (Which yes, is true, and I am in no way taking away from that. But that doesn’t mean we’re not allowed to not be happy with ours).

Now, I get it. I’ve been a strong advocate for body positivity for years, and yes, you should love your new body. I truly believe we should work on and focus on self-love and self-care every day, but that’s just not always the case, is it?

I love what my body has done for me, and I am eternally grateful. But. That doesn’t mean that I’m thanking my stomach every time I have to lift it over the waist of my pants to pretend they fit.

I am thankful that I was able to carry my beautiful healthy daughter for 9 (or 10?) months, but excuse me if I don’t weep with joy when the sweat pools between my delightful belly rolls.

Thank you belly rolls,  for you are a product of my daughter. Thank you, entire wardrobe that no longer fits, because now I don’t need you anymore, for now I understand why moms wear leggings and sweatpants- and I’m so grateful to be a mom that it’s totally ok. 

I’m sorry, but no. Absolutely fucking not. I can love and be thankful for my daughter while simultaneously missing my old body. I can be grateful for the pregnancy I experienced while mourning a large portion of my self confidence, which seemed to disappear around the same time as my ability to wear backless dresses. (Also, where the heck does a new mom wear a backless dress?)

Would I love to feel nothing but love as I squished my handfuls of belly in the mirror? Sure, who wouldn’t? But let’s be real. It’s hard to feel a lot of love for your new belly when nothing in your wardrobe fits you anymore and your silhouette has much more, shall we say… shape? Alternatively, would I love to be doing yoga and exercising regularly, while maintaining a healthy, calorie reduced diet? Yes, I would. Am I going to? Probably not.  Like my first thought after pushing a watermelon out of my vag and then not sleeping for months is exercising, and not, you know- sleeping. Nope. I’m going to nap. I’m going to eat snacks. And I’m going to enjoy my ice cream after a long-ass day, and I’m going to indulge in that creamy pasta because goddammit I want it and I deserve it.

It’s  lovely thought, to be able to either start exercising right away. Or to just love and cherish this new body that gave you your child. But I don’t think it’s realistic. This shit takes time. It takes energy, and it takes commitment. You know what we’re spending that time, energy and commitment doing? Being a new mom.  And you know what we don’t hear enough? It’s okay not to like your postpartum body. Gasp!

There, I said it. And I’m going to say it again.

IT’S. OKAY. NOT. TO. LIKE. YOUR. POSTPARTUM. BODY.

Not liking how you feel in your new body does not mean you love your child any less. It does not make you any less grateful, and it sure doesn’t mean you feel any less sympathy for women who can’t carry children.

It simply means you’re not this saggy, stretched out belly’s biggest fan right now, and that you also don’t really have the energy or great desire to do anything about it for the moment. That’s life. Own it. Vent to your mom friends about it, and how your belly jiggles in so many new ways that it could take someone’s eye out. And do it, while treating yourself to that ice cream sundae and loving every. Single. Bite.

Aqua Mermaid Toronto – Review by resident Mommy Blogger – Shannon Fisher, And Now I’m A Mom

I’ve said many-a-time, to many-a-people, that if I could perform my day to day tasks while being in water, I would. And I meant it. So when I was offered the opportunity to try out a mermaid fitness class with Aqua Mermaid, there was absolutely no hesitation before saying yes, and then quietly humming the Little Mermaid song to myself. I was vaguely familiar with the concept of mermaid fitness, but I couldn’t have told you anything real about it, and I didn’t know something like this was possible here in Toronto, especially for newbies like me. I was super excited about fulfilling my lifelong dream of becoming a mermaid. 

I didn’t really know what to expect in terms of class size or structure, but when I packed my bathing suit and towel and headed out, it turns out I also didn’t know how much traffic I should have predicted. Refreshing my google maps every 5 seconds while my husband took as many side roads as possible, I started to panic that I was going to be late, and I wouldn’t get to wear my tail. I awkwardly changed into my bathing suit in the front seat of our SUV, and waved at a guy who couldn’t stop staring at me while I was changing into my top. Angry at myself for not leaving earlier, I called the number for AquaMermaid and asked how bad it would be if I arrived just at class start time, instead of the recommended 15 minutes early. I was happily reassured that it wasn’t an issue at all, and I breathed a sigh a relief knowing that I hadn’t messed everything up. (But this doesn’t mean you should also show up late- that 15minutes would be key with a larger class!)

We pulled up with two minutes to spare, and I rushed through the change-room, whipped off my clothes and headed out to the pool deck, expecting to see a full class of women waiting for me in their tails. Instead, there was simply the instructor, and two gentlemen happily chatting away holding onto what looked like flippers, but would unroll to reveal the tail. I was originally taken aback by the small size of the class, but it didn’t take long for me to appreciate the ability of the instructor to be able to keep the class personalized to our wishes and capabilities. I also loved the fact that is was men, and not just women who wanted to be mermaid for a day. One mentioned it was his goal to be like Zoolander, and he instantly got my respect. 

I got the fin on, and boy, was I excited! I stuck the fin in the water as I sat on the edge of the pool, and eagerly smiled at my husband as he snapped away with the camera, my daughter playing with a small floatie in her car-seat nearby. We then had to take the fins off again to learn some of the basic moves before adding the extra difficulty of essentially, having only one giant leg. Brianna, the instructor, made her fin-less dolphin kicking look graceful and flawless as she used her entire body to glide through the water, and when I tried, felt- and looked- more like a dolphin who had somehow made it’s way onto land and didn’t know what the hell to do. Luckily for me, there were only a couple of manoeuvres like this, because I sucked at them all and I just wanted my tail on. I got my wish and the three of us shimmied back into the long, glorious tails- mine pink, of course. Repeating those same initial manoeuvres but with the tail made a world of difference, and getting to glide so swiftly like that under water is something I have never experienced before, and I loved it. I felt like I just wanted to swim under water forever and never come up for air. If I had regular access to a pool, you better believe I’d be buying a tail. (You can actually own your own mermaid tail!) We were casually taught a few basic moves, like using our arms to propel us (which turns out to be a major arm workout), and swimming with our tail both face up, and face down, before moving onto some enjoyable (and instagram-worthy) tricks, like handstands and fin-high-fives. 

Everything was pretty relaxed, and the instructor just followed our lead to allow us to learn skills we wanted to, have fun, and have pictures taken all the way throughout. I felt like I was super unskilled, but afterwards in talking with Brianna I learned that many of the trial classes don’t attempt some of the stuff we did, or even venture out into the deep end- which we did almost right away. In my attempt to do a dive off the side into the water, I thought I would never even make it pulling myself out of the water, and flinging my body beached-whale-style up over the side. I made it though, it was amazing, and I’m sure it was super graceful. We ended our class with a group-choreographed synchronized routine that was completely random, but also awesome.  Once the class was done, I chatted with Brianna a bit to find out more about the classes they offer, and what they’re like. There are drop-in classes, for people like me who are new and looking for something cool to try, and there’s also packages for weekly classes, which are geared more towards the fitness aspect. AquaMermaid has been around since early 2015, combining the love of water, exercise, and all around fabulousness. The founder, Marielle Chartier Henault has done an incredible job of bringing forward this wonderful and unique option for a workout choice, and AquaMermaid is now offering classes not just in Toronto, but Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec, Edmonton, Chicago Las Vegas, Fort Lauderdale and Phoenix. Classes are offered for kids and adults of any gender, and just about any age- as long as you can swim independently. But if you’re looking for a new way to spend some time on a Saturday, or are trying to add some flavour into your workout routines, I highly suggest giving these classes a try, no matter what your age or gender- as long as you can swim, you’re good.  Worst case scenario? You get some cool photos wearing a mermaid tail at the end of it, because let’s face it- if it’s not on Instagram, did it even happen? 

For more information and to sign up for classes, go to www.aquamermaid.com 

By Shannon Fisher, And Now I’m A Mom

I love Christmas. Always have, always will. I even survived years working retail at Christmas and I still love it. I love the magic, the lights, the love, the decorations. I love Christmas baking, and all the holiday crafts, even though it can take a lot of time to accomplish. Now that I’m a new mom for Christmas, it feels like the pressure is on more than normal.

At the beginning of the season I had a giant list of tasks I wanted to joyfully get done for Christmas- baking, crafts, decorations, homemade presents… You name it, I probably wanted to make it. I started to stress myself out about needing to get everything done, but I soon realized I was setting myself up for failure, and where’s the joy in that? I can’t just drop everything and bake an elaborate batch of goodies when I have a baby who doesn’t want to play alone, and I can’t easily break out the glue gun when I have someone’s little hands that want to reach for everything. Which leaves the times when she’s sleeping, and let’s be honest. I can barely sit down for a cup of tea, much less start a crafting empire in the hour she’s asleep.

So whether you’re Santa’s Little Helper or Ebenezer Scrooge at Christmas, I’ve put together a little list to help you get through the holidays with a little Christmas cheer left for yourself.

1. Make a list, and check it twice.

Santa had the right idea here. Make a list of everything you want to accomplish. Then, when you look over it again, try to come up with a reasonable timeline of things you can ACTUALLY get done without pulling your hair out.
If you don’t know where to start, divide your list into “necessary” and “if I have time”. And if you can’t get to the second half, don’t give it a second thought. Maybe you can try next year. Maybe not. Who cares.

2. Understand that as a new mom or dad, the stakes may now seem higher, but they don’t have to be. Ask for help.

Moms seem to take on a lot of extra emotional labour over the holidays, and it can be downright exhausting. Making the list for the presents to make sure you don’t miss anyone. Getting the presents, wrapping them, tagging then. Sending out Christmas cards in time. Getting the perfect present for the kid/kids. Making sure the house is decorated, and now-baby safe. Preparing either for hosting, or to travel for Christmas. The list goes on.
It may seem impossible to get through it all with your sanity in tact, but take a deep breath. Delegate where you can, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Overwhelmed with the idea of buying your entire extended family perfectly picked presents? Suggest a secret Santa. That doesn’t work? Suggest a rule where only presents for kids are bought. Last year my family decided to only give socks, and the pressure, both mentally and financially it took off from us was immeasurable.
People can be pretty understanding, and chances are they’re going through the same stresses. You just need to ask.

3. Take a minute for yourself.

I know, I know. Who has time for this?
No new mom, that’s for sure. But try. If you can find an extra 10 minutes to wrap that present for Suzy, you can find an extra 10minutes to take a bath, or go for a walk, or have a coffee or whatever it is that you like to do. Try to stay away from social media scrolling though, because as much as we do it to waste time, we all know it isn’t actually relaxing. You deserve a few minutes to do something for you. Even if it after everyone’s gone to bed, or when you should be doing the dishes. The dishes will still be there when you’re done.

4. Try to limit your social obligations.

People like to use Christmas as a time to host or organize a gathering every weekend. Whether it’s for work, family, friends, sometimes it can seem like it’s taking over your whole schedule. As a parent, this gets a hell of a lot more overwhelming, because you’re not just dealing with your own tired self, you’re now trying to wrangle an overtired, overstimulated baby or toddler and trying to get them to relax enough to not make a scene before you can deal with the backlash at home while putting them to bed.

It’s just. Not. Worth. It.

If an event starts too late, just politely decline and blame the kids. Because, well, it’s true. Send your well wishes and ask for some selfies from the party if you feel like it.

5. Try your best to remember that it’s only a holiday, and it’s only once a year.

Stressing over Christmas seems counterintuitive to me, yet it’s one of the leading causes of stress and depression. Everytime you feel yourself getting stressed about presents, or things that need to get done, remember this- it really doesn’t matter.

If it’s the end of the world that you weren’t able to get a gift, or make that batch of cookies- that person probably doesn’t deserve it anyway. Do what you can, and whatever you can’t- remember that it’s just a holiday, and try to enjoy it. That’s what it’s there for.

The steps involved in buying or selling a home can seem overwhelming, and that’s especially true when deals happen fast. A recent survey by the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) found that the majority of Ontarians who bought or sold a home in the last five years weren’t in the market for very long.

Among the buyers surveyed, nearly 57 per cent said they purchased their property within three months of when they started actively looking.

For sellers, things happened even more quickly: 67 per cent said they sold their property in under three months. Overall, 54 per cent thought the process took less time than they had anticipated.

When you’re ready to make a move, take a deep breath, sketch out a plan and get informed before you enter the market. After all, you may begin by casually browsing listings only to stumble across a place you love, and suddenly find yourself in the throes of a major purchase. By being informed right from the start, you’ll have confidence in the decisions you are making, even if they do happen quickly.

Following these four must-do tips is a great place to start:

1. Shop around before you shop around for a home

Real estate salespeople and brokerages vary widely in terms of experience, expertise and services provided, so meet with at least three salespeople before you sign an agreement. When you have a shortlist of representatives, ask each of them some questions to determine which one is right for you:

– Walk me through your real estate experience.

– Describe your general approach to buying and selling, and how your approach will best suit my needs.

– Tell me about the fees and commissions I’ll have to pay.

– Which services does your brokerage provide, and are any of them included in our agreement?

– How often will you provide me with progress updates, and how will we communicate?

– Could you please provide me with some references?

2. Look them up

Before you meet with any salespeople or brokers, be sure to look them up using the “Look up a real estate salesperson, broker or brokerage” search tool in the top right-hand corner of RECO’s website. It will tell you if they’re registered and in good standing, and if they have faced any disciplinary action.

3. Read and understand everything

When you hire a real estate representative to help you buy or sell a home, you will likely be asked to sign an agreement that defines your relationship with the representative’s brokerage. It’s a legal contract that spells out how long the agreement is for, the location it covers and what fees or commissions will need to be paid.

Also, when you buy or sell a home, you will need to sign a legal contract to complete the transaction. This agreement contains a lot of important information in addition to price and conditions, such as whether the appliances and light fixtures stay with the house.

These are just two examples of real estate agreements that are legally binding, meaning you typically can’t back out once you’ve signed on the dotted line.

Whenever you’re presented with a document that requires a signature, read it and understand it thoroughly. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification, or request that your representative walk you through it, line by line. If you’re still unsure about something, consider asking your lawyer for advice.

4. Be an active participant in the process

Your salesperson is a knowledgeable resource who can help you make informed decisions, but you should always remember that you’re the one in the driver’s seat, even when the car appears to be accelerating down the expressway.

Be an active participant in the process. That means being open and candid with your representative about what’s important to you in a home, and which services you expect from him or her. Your salesperson can best help you when you’re clear about what you want.

And it means you have a responsibility to perform your own due diligence: asking questions, understanding any required paperwork, conducting your own research (when necessary), and being an active participant through every step.

Remember, you own the process.

 

There’s a lot of information out there about market trends and how to get the best price, but you also need to know about your rights and responsibilities as a home buyer or seller.  The Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) can help you with that.

When it comes to real estate transactions, the more you know, the better you’re protected. Visit RECO’s website to learn more.

Looking for a larger home for your growing family? Check out some helpful advice about whether to buy first or sell first and the 5 questions you should ask before selecting a real estate representative.

 

I recently had LifeLabs  come to my home to take my blood, and it was SO nice not to have to get my tired mom bum to the lab, before having my morning coffee (fasting sugars)!

I kept thinking how great it would have been to have this service available when I was pregnant with a toddler in tow (and even more so when I had both a spirited toddler AND a new baby!). I remember it being so difficult and exhausting just to get out the door some days, let alone having to negotiate with a fussy baby & a curious/impatient toddler in a lab/waiting room setting, and many, many meltdowns (sometimes my kids, and sometimes my own).

 

Under this service, a specially-trained LifeLabs technician comes to your home, your workplace, or anywhere you feel more at ease, to complete your blood tests, ECG monitoring, or holter monitoringIt’s a great service for busy parents, busy professionals, or anyone who might feel uncomfortable or nervous in lab situations or who has difficulty getting places, etc.

I think the service is especially great for new parents who are also caring for their own aging or ailing parents, and it would be such a great time and energy saver for everyone to be able to have a service like this available at home, instead of having to travel to a lab.

I personally haven’t had my own blood work done in forever, because this mama is forever taking care of everyone else and forgetting about herself (not good, I know. Mama, have YOU done your blood work lately? Isn’t it kind of sad that a cleaning at the dentist can feel like a mini holiday for busy parents? Anyways, I’m getting off track here – Be sure to get your own blood work done too), but I finally got mine done, and I didn’t even have to leave my home to do it!

You know, I never understood why drive-through banking was a thing.. then I had a baby.. and a toddler.. in Canada. That song and dance of getting kids in and out of the car – especially in the winter, or in rain, or even getting them out of playing in the sun, or if they were FINALLY napping – made me appreciate anything that could make my day easier, and this service by LifeLabs made my day!

To learn more about MyVisit™  click here.

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