Review: BRICA Push to Close Extending Metal Gate

I was fortunate to be given the chance to review the BRICA Push to Close Extending Metal Safety Gate. I have a newly on the move 8 month old daughter and a 2.5 year old. I have been able to use the gate for a couple days now.  See my review below

Munchkin BRICA Extending Metal Gate

The Extending Metal Safety Gate by Munchkin has no unsightly adjustment holes along the bars, and is equipped with a unique tilting spring mechanism to reduce stress on walls every time its used. The spring mechanism allows the gate to tilt open or close, which minimizes pressure applied on walls. Handy quick-release settings allow for quick and easy removal when needed, too. Safe for use anywhere in the home (especially in the stairway), this hardware-mounted baby gate stands 30.5″ tall and fits openings 27.5″-45″ wide.



This review was written by Jennie Vessey, Director of Mommy Connections Saskatoon and a mother of two.

I was excited to receive the BRICA gate – with an 8 month old and 2.5 year old I have used a few different gates and I’m always looking for something that is easy to use. I found that this gate was fairly easy to assemble. I liked how easy it was to set to the width of our hallway and the fact that it doesn’t have the adjustment holes along the top and bottom of the gate. It took us about 1/2 hour to get the gate assembled and mounted. The instructions were just diagrams, not written instructions, which made some steps a bit more difficult to follow, but it wasn’t too complicated.

The gate can easily be opened with one hand, which as a mom is very important as we always seem to have our hands full! The handle is easy to use for adults, but not for children, which is great as I don’t have to worry about my daughter opening it. It is also easily closed – I can ask my 2.5 year old to close it and she is able to with no problems. Another added bonus is you can choose which way the gate opens – towards you or away from you.

The gate locks securely at both the top- and the bottom, making the gate very solid – which is very important with a not so gentle toddler who likes to stand on and pull things! Unlike some gates, the BRICA does not have a bar across the bottom, that could be a potential tripping hazard, which is very important if you are wanting to mount the gate at the top of the stairs.

Overall I really like the product! We felt confident that it would keep our girls safe, which is the most important thing. I highly recommend this product to ay family looking for a gate.

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– Easy to use, secure locking mechanism
– Can swing both in and out
– The lack of adjustment holes makes the gate more aesthetically appealing
– No bar at the bottom as a potential tripping hazard
– Gate can be adjusted to fit a variety of different sized openings

– Instructions were sometimes hard to follow without words, just diagrams



Available online at Babies R Us


To enter to win this great gate Enter Here

We have another guest blog entry from Kara Broks, a Registered Speech Language Pathologist with Speech Language Network. This entry focuses on Speech-Language Developmental Milestones for children aged 3-4 years and different fun activities you can do with your child to foster speech-language growth.

3-4 Years

Speech-Language Developmental Milestones and Fun Activities that Foster Speech-Language Growth

Hearing and Understanding 3-4 years

  • Hears media volume (TV, radio, music) at the same level as others around them
  • Hears when they are called from another room
  • Understands some words for concepts like colours, shapes, family members
  • Knows own name and age
Talking 3-4 years

  • Asks “when, how, why” questions and answers basic “who, what, where” questions
  • Talks about activities that occurred during the day and orders events sequentially
  • Takes part in longer conversations and keeps track of topic
  • Speaks clearly and is understood approximately 80% of the time, both by family and non-family members
  • Builds sentences of around four words and uses about four sentences at a time
  • Uses some correct plural forms (“books”), as well as incorrect ones (“tooths,” “fishes”)
  • Uses pronouns (“I,” “you,” “they”)
  • Uses rhyming words (“mat” and “bat”)

 It is important to remember that each child is unique and as such, there will be variance in developmental sequences. If, however, your child hasn’t reached the majority of the milestones in their age group, you may wish to contact a Speech-Language Pathologist.

You may want to contact a Speech-Language Pathologist if your toddler: 

 DAILY ACTIVITIES 3-4 years Things you can do with your three – four year old to encourage and foster speech-language development; 

If you have any questions please feel free to email: info@speechlanguagenetwork.netand/or call 306 933-3222 to book a free consultation with a Registered Speech-Language Pathologist.      Enjoy and have fun! 

Anna Nissen B.A (Linguistics-U of S)           

Kara Broks Registered Speech-Language PathologistSpeech-Language Network   References:

We have a great guest blog entry by Kaylee Kennedy, President of Saskatoon Swim School. We are excited to have Kaylee presenting to our next Mom and Tot program. Here are some tips and great information regarding the importance of swimming lessons for your little one.


The Importance of Toddler Swimming Lessons!

In the time that it takes for you to answer the phone your child just aspirated a lung full of water, all without you even knowing. What happens next? What do you think?

Children ranging from ages 1 to 4 are most at risk for drowning. ‘Near drowning’ incidences have a 20% likelihood of resulting in severe permanent brain damage. Young children are more susceptible to drowning quicker due to their body’s inability to react fast enough to the lack of oxygen in their circulatory system.

This is not to scare you, it is to make you aware.

Owning a private swimming lesson school has helped shape my ability to assist so many children, including my 21 month old into becoming confident and happy swimmers. Here are the two focal points I ALWAYS begin with when teaching children how to swim:

1) We need to start from the basics – All the way down to how to breath. Infants for some reason understand this concept. If you blow in their face, they take and hold their breath for as long as a couple of seconds. This is exactly what you need in order to submerge your self without swallowing water. From there we build on making their breathing more of a reflex so that confidence becomes the focal point in their learning process. Don’t get me wrong, this does take a while to achieve. BUT it starts with teaching your children how to utilize their natural breathing technique.

Controlled breathing = NO panicking

2) Once that is done, we move into ‘hydrodynamic’ positioning. I make the children kick with their feet behind them at the surface of the water, all the while placing my hands under their armpits for support. This allows them to move as efficiently as possible within the water. Remember that giving your child a life jacket or floatation device does not allow them to feel the movement of the water, it just gives them false security.

A couple of ways you can work on gaining their strengths in the water:

• Practice in the bath tub!

This is where it all starts! Get their face wet when you are washing their hair. Maybe even get in here and show them how it’s done

• Be confident

Children feed off of their parent’s anxieties. If you are nervous, they will be self conscious

• Positive words

Encouragement all the time. Work on building their ego so that there is no room for ‘second guessing’ their abilities

• Make it fun

If they swallow a bit of water, shake it off and show them how easy it is to regain from a little mishap!

• Distractions

Bring in their favourite toys to keep them focused on the games more than the learning

Swimming lessons are always ideal, especially if you are a parent that is new in the water with your child. You want to be able to guide the little ones in the right direction, and that is why there are programs that help make that possible. It may be Fall, but this is all the more reason to start teaching your kids how to be comfortable with water! Summer sneaks up on us and we need to be as prepared as possible for swimming weather.

Have any questions? You can look us up at, or contact Kaylee Kennedy at



A fellow Mommy Connections Director shared some recipes for natural mosquito repellents, that I thought I would share!

Here are some homemade bug spray recipes to keep your little one protected all summer long:


Lavender/Vanilla Spray

Combine in a 16 oz bottle
15 drops of lavender oil
3-4 tbs of vanilla extract
1/4 cup lemon juice
Fill the rest of the bottle with water and there u have it!

Essential Oil Spray
Fill 8 oz spray bottle 1/2 full with distilled or boiled water
Add witch hazel to fill almost to the top
Add 1/2 tsp vegetable glycerin if using
Add 30-50 drops of essential oils to desired scent.
The more oils you use, the stronger the spray will be. (Choose from: Citronella, Clove, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Tea Tree, Cajeput, Eucalyptus, Cedar, Catnip, Lavender or Mint)

Dried Herbs Spray
Boil 1 cup of water and add 3-4 TBSP of dried herbs total in any combination (peppermint, spearmint, citronella, lemongrass, catnip, lavender, etc).
Mix well, cover and let cool.
Strain herbs out and mix water with 1 cup of witch hazel or rubbing alcohol.
Store in a spray bottle in a cool place (like the fridge).
Use as needed.
Added bonus: it smells great and is very refreshing to the skin!

We just experienced our first dental appointment with our toddler. One of the things we are learned being new parents is how important dental care is in our children to avoid future problems. 57% of 6 to 11 year olds have or have had a cavity. There are some easy ways to keep your child’s teeth clean and hopefully cavity free.

Preventive Dental Care

Preventive Dental Care
There are a number of ways to keep teeth and gums healthy, no matter how old you are. Good habits start early. Parents can help their children by:
• Brushing and flossing daily to remove plaque until the children can clean their teeth well on their own.
• Using fluorides.
• Limiting the number of snacks containing sugar or carbohydrates.
• Taking your child for a dental check-up at least once a year
• Providing mouthguards for sports.
• Modeling good dental health habits for your child by taking care of your own teeth and gums.

Fluoride is a mineral that is found naturally in most water supplies. Drinking water with the right amount of fluoride is the best and least expensive way of preventing tooth decay.
Fluoride assists in the remineralization of tooth enamel to make the enamel stronger and more resistant to decay.
People of all ages benefit from drinking fluoridated water.
Fluoride sources are:
• Fluoridated water (naturally occurring or added to community water supply).
• Some foods and drinks.
• Fluoride toothpaste and mouth rinse.
• School fluoride mouth rinse programs;
• Fluoride gels, varnishes, tablets or drops (only when recommended by a dentist or dental professional).


Sealants are not fillings. Sealants prevent tooth decay. They are clear or shaded plastic material applied to the chewing surfaces to protect the teeth from decay causing bacteria that hide in the deep pits and grooves.

Toothbrushing removes plaque and food particles from teeth and gums.
The best kind of toothbrush for general use is one with round-tipped, soft bristles. A child will need a smaller brush than an adult. Replace a toothbrush when the bristles become bent or frayed, (usually every three or four months) or after an illness.
There are several methods of toothbrushing that may be used. Here is a recommended method:
1. Hold the toothbrush against the teeth, with bristles at a 45-degree angle to the gum line.
2. Gently move the toothbrush back and forth several times with very short strokes on two teeth at a time. Repeat until all areas are clean.
3. For the inside of the front teeth, tilt the brush upright and use small vibrating strokes or small circles with the tip of the brush. Thorough brushing takes 3 to 4 minutes.
4. Brush the tongue. This will remove bacteria and freshen the breath.
5. Rinse your toothbrush well after brushing. Store the brush in a clean, dry place out of contact with other brushes.

Flossing removes plaque and food particles from between the teeth and under the gum line, areas where your toothbrush can’t reach. Gum disease and cavities often start in these areas, so it is important to clean them thoroughly once a day. Flossing becomes easier with practice. You will find that flossing takes only a few minutes.

1. Break off a piece of dental floss about 45 centimeters (18 inches) long.
2. Wrap most of the floss around the middle finger of one hand. Wrap the rest around the same finger of the other hand.
3. Hold the floss tightly between the fingers and slowly work it between the teeth and under the gum line using a gentle back and forth motion.
4. When the floss is at the gum line, curve it, making a “C” around the tooth, and slide it into the space between the tooth and the gum until you feel resistance. Then gently slide the floss up and down against the side of the tooth to remove the plaque.
5. Repeat this process on each tooth, using a clean section of the floss each time.
6. Remember to floss the backs of the very last teeth.

Dental Visits
Don’t wait for an ache! Visit the dentist at least once a year for a thorough dental examination, preventive services and treatment.

The teeth and gums, like the rest of the body, need a well-balanced diet to stay healthy. Following Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating is an easy way to make sure children get the nutrition they need for good general and oral health.
The bacteria in plaque feed on carbohydrates and sugars and become active whether you eat a meal or a cracker. Every time you put food in your mouth, you feed the bacteria, putting you at risk for tooth decay. It is important to choose healthy snacks.

Good Snack Choices Include:
• fresh vegetables and fruits*
• milk, cheese and yogurt
• meat, poultry, fish, eggs and nuts*
• bread and cereals
Many cheeses increase the amount of saliva (spit). Examples are aged Cheddar, Mozzarella, Monterey Jack, Swiss, Blue, Brie and Gouda. This helps reduce the harmful effects acids cause the surface of your teeth. Serve cheese as a snack or at the end of a meal.

*For children under 4 years of age:
To reduce the risk of choking, cut these foods the following way:
• grapes (slice lengthwise)
• fruit with pits (remove pits)before serving, i.e., peaches, cherries, plums)
• wieners (slice lengthwise)
• hard vegetable pieces (shred, grate or finely chop)
• hard fruit pieces (shred or finely chop)
Do not give nuts to small children.

Medicine can be a source of sugar that is often overlooked. Ask your doctor about prescribing sugar free medicine.
When buying ‘over the counter’ medications, choose sugar free products.
If a child must use a medicine containing sugar, clean the teeth or rinse.

Information courtesy of Population and Public Health.

There are often so many questions regarding car seats and children – when to switch from an infant carrier to a larger car seat, when to switch from rear facing to forward facing, when to start and stop using a booster seat.


In case you have not heard the Saskatchewan Government has passes a new law and effective June 27, 2014, booster seats will be mandatory for children under 7 years of age, AND less than 145 cm (4’9”) in height AND 36 kg (80 lb.) in weight.


However, the Saskatchewan Prevention Institute recommends that children should stay in their booster seat until they fit the adult seat belt properly. Most children should remain in a booster seat until they are between the ages of 8-12 years.


Why are Booster Seats Necessary?

Booster seats are necessary during the period when children are too big for a forward-facing child seat but are too small for a seat belt. The booster seat works by raising the child in the vehicle seat so the seat belt is properly positioned low over the child’s hips, and collar bone (between the shoulder and neck). An incorrectly positioned seat belt over a child’s abdomen can cause the child to be seriously injured or even killed in a collision.


Does my child need to be in a Booster Seat?

Children are often taken out of booster seats far too early. On average, children are ready for an adult seat belt when they are 145 cm tall (4’9”) and around 36 kgs. (80 lbs.). This occurs for most children between the ages of 8-12 years. The true indicator of seat belt readiness is seat belt fit. Have the child sit with his back and bottom against the vehicle seat back and assess the following:

  1. Does the child’s knees bend over the vehicle’s seat edge without slouching?
  2. Does the lap portion of the vehicle seat belt lay low on the child’s hips, touching the thighs and not across the stomach?
  3. Does the shoulder portion of the belt lay across the shoulder and not in front of the face or on the neck?
  4. Can the child sit in the proper position (not slouching, falling asleep on the window, etc.) for the entire ride?

If the answer to any of these questions is ‘no,’ the child should continue to use a booster seat.


For more information about the new law and car seat safety please visit the Saskatchewan Prevention Institutes website:

Each summer I seem to struggle with finding a sunscreen that is safe for my daughter, without a ton of toxins and doesn’t leave a thick white paste on her skin. Skin cancer and melanoma are on a rise in Canada and it is important to protect our children. However when walking down the sunscreen aisle it is hard to know which one will be effective as well as safe.

When it comes to sunscreens there are 2 main types – those with chemical filters (which absorb the UVA and AVB rays) and those with Physical filters (that scatter and reflect both UVB and UBA radiation). Those with physical filters are safer for babies and children (and even adults) as they don’t have the chemicals and toxins that the other sunscreens use. Some of the most common chemicals to look for and avoid are Parabens, Phthalates, PEG’s (polyethylene glycols), Propylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, and SLS/SLES.


 Tips for using sunscreen:

– Look for water resistant

– Choose a sunscreen with a SPF of at least 15

– Use lots and make sure your child is well covered

– Read the instructions on your specific sunscreen and follow those instructions

– Apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before going outside and reapply 20 minutes after being outside and every 2 hours after that

– When using insect repellent, apply sunscreen first and then insect repellent

– Be sure to test the sunscreen on a small area on your child to check for any allergic reactions


In addition to sunscreen there are other ways to protect your child from the suns potentially harmful rays:

– Wearing a hat

– Wearing light weight and light coloured breathable clothing that covers the skin

– Sunglasses that block out UVA and UVB rays

– Limit your time in the sun

– Drink plenty of water

– Check the UV index


It is also important to remember that it is not recommended to out sunscreen on babies under 6 months of age. For babies this young it is best to keep them out of the sun and in the shade.

There are also some oils with natural SPF that you can use in place of sunscreen (see photo)oils-with-natural-spf

For more information on sun safety please visit


With Mothers Day behind us that means it’s almost Fathers Day. Next Sunday, June 15th is the day we are to celebrate fathers, step-fathers, father figures etc. With this being only my second Fathers Day with the responsibility of getting my husband something I’m still fairly new with this.

With the day approaching quickly I have been thinking about what to get my husband from my 19 month old daughter. What do I get the expresses my appreciation and love for him. There are so many gift guides out there that it becomes overwhelming. Each gift, like each Father is unique. There is clothing, tools, Dads day off, a homemade gift from the children and so many more ideas.

Since my husband wears an old pair of jeans from Value Village and an old t-shirt he got for free from some businesses promotional event to work I won’t be getting him any clothing. The “as seen on TV” go to gift of a tie won’t work.

Tools – I have no idea what he has and what he needs so I will avoid that!

Dads Day Off – nice try – this is a day for him to spend as much time with his daughter as possible!

This year we will be going with the never fail homemade gift from my daughter. The only problem is coming up with a craft that does not involve me doing the entire thing while my daughter plays. I have decided to make him a craft using my daughters hand prints and foot prints. The only problem is we have tried doing the hand or feet in paint in the past which inevitability ends up with me having more paint on me than there is on the paper and my daughter trying to put her paint covered hands in her mouth.

However, I have recently come across a recipe for a non-toxic finger paint and I thought I would share it with you.

What you need

1 cup Corn Flour (Corn Starch)

1 cup Cold Water

3 cups Boiling Water

Liquid Food Colouring

Add 1 cup of cold water to the corn flour in a bowl and mixed it together.

Then using freshly boiled water add a cup at a time to the water/corn flour mix and mixed it together.

Put this mix into a saucepan over a heat and stirred it until it became a consistency of custard.

Use liquid food colouring to colour the paint

You can store it in clean baby food jars


I may also take my husband out for brunch or supper – as that’s really a gift for both of us!


What are you getting the dad in your life this Fathers Day?


Mommy Connections Saskatoon and Heritage Education Funds are soooooo thrilled to be bringing you the Spring Mom & Baby Expo 2013 on Sunday April 21st at the fabulous Saskatoon Inn.

This show is going to be huge and so much fun, featuring the likes of Movies for Mommies, Sleep Well Baby, Hippy Baby Carriers & more, Pickles Maternity, Saskatchewan Safety & Prevention Institute, Children’s Discovery Museum, Boot Camp for New Dads, Kindermusik with Kari and friends, Violet and Blue Photography, So Cute Boutique, Nurturing Families, Discovery Toys, Change Lingerie and so the list goes on and on…………………………….

There will be a dad’s lounge, a private nursing/change area, photo booth, craft time, ‘muddy paws pet clinic’ and so much more.

Fabulous swag bags for the first 200 guests plus door prizes galore!

Entry only $2 or by donation to the Crisis Nursery. 

Mark your calendars NOW Sunday April 21st 10am – 4pm.

Join the event on facebook and share with your friends!/events/363572970422514/

Vendor enquiries please email


My name is Laura Cone, and I am the owner of Nurturing Families: Child & Family Wellness in a Nutshell. 

I like to consider myself a family advocate, because it is my belief, above all else, that my job is to support the families.  I love my job.  There is nothing more satisfying to me than giving a family some information which can seem so trivial to some, but can become life changing for them. 

My journey to become a business owner has been a tricky one.  At times bumpy, with some road blocks, and definitely some wrong turns.  Thankfully, I hate maps, and I love getting lost. When people ask what I do, it is a tricky question to answer.  I am a women of many hats, but the important thing is, they all match.  I am an entrepreneur with a vision, which I believe is very important.  I don’t just want to own my own business, I want to own a business that supports families, works with kids, and heals. 

I am a Child Development Specialist.  I work with you on how to help your child reach their developmental milestones.  Now, I don’t want anyone to get freaked out or frustrated here-note that I said “their” developmental milestones, not the ones passed down from on high saying when a child should be walking, talking and paying their rent.  I work on everything from speech development to toilet training, sleep transitions to social skills, behaviours to cognitive development.  I work with kids aged 0-21 (or so) to support them in life.  And to support the family. Family Family Family.  A child simply can’t be successful if a parent is so sleep deprived they are pouring apple juice into their cereal. 

I am a Certified Infant and Pediatric Massage Teacher, and Nurturing Touch professional.  I teach families how to massage their children, no matter the age, stage or ability.  It is my opinion that massage is fundamental for development.  It aids in growth, eases pain, stimulates cognitive learning, supports a healthy attachment/bond, and helps with relaxation.  Studies have proven that when someone receives massage, the hormone Oxytocin (feel good hormone) increases.  Not only for the person receiving the massage, but for the one applying it.  This means that me teaching you how to massage your infant/child/teenager benefits both of you physically, as well as emotionally. 

I am a Respite Caregiver.  I provide professional, in-home respite services to families who need a break, are working two (or three, or four) jobs, have a party, or just need to get some shopping done.  I provide respite for all families, from newborn infants (sometimes mom just needs an hour to sleep), to medically at risk individuals.  I have experience with lifts, transfers, administering medication, medical equipment and more. 

Most importantly I spend time with your child. I play with them. I take them on outings (with permission).  I become a person you and your child can trust.  Let me know which hat you need me to wear for you.

 -Laura Cone

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