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Babies + Kids

3 Things Every Parent NEEDS to Know

Congratulations…you’re officially a Parent! That’s Parent with a capital “P”!

Because being a Parent is awesome…..but also being a Parent is hard as hell.

You welcomed this precious little baby into the world and oh man, it was cute as a button, smelled so dang good and was itty bitty teeny tiny! You thought to yourself, I got this!

And you do “have this!”

But also, more often than not, you don’t.   Parenting is tough shit.

I wish someone had taken me aside and told me some of the hard truths of my new role as a Parent.

Parenting is a journey and sure, you may have felt prepared at first, but chances are there will be something that throws you off your game and you’re left with a jaw dropped “WTF?!?”.

Yep. That’s being a Parent.

But here are three nuggets of advice I want NEED to share with you, my fellow Parent:

1. Lower Your Expectations

I’m serious.

Don’t expect a lot from yourself OR your partner for that matter.

That’s because most days taking a shower will be a huge accomplishment…and it is.

You’re in survival mode for the first few (read: several) months.  Also, all of things you expected your partner to do or the things they had done before are NOT fair game anymore.

But hey, as a bonus, if you don’t expect a lot and then stuff does get done it’s like Christmas morning!

 

2. You’re not the same person you were before kids

You will never be the same person you were before kids. Let that person go. Because the truth is, you just can’t be the same. You’ve got a tiny person that needs you for everything and you’re priorities will be different.  That’s the other thing, your relationship will not be the same either (more on that in another post!).

The problem starts when new Parents try their hardest to be their “before kids” selves. It’s not possible, friend.   And the more you try to be your BK (Before Kids) self – the harder life will be. Embrace your AK (After Kids) self for all that it is – compassionate, empathetic, nurturing, responsible, protective, and loving!

You are one hell of a person – and I promise you’ll love the new (Parental) you!

 

3. You will never be prepared. ever.

Your diaper bag could be the most organized, most well stocked baby bag on earth, there could be a Wal-Mart in that bag….chances are your baby will need the one thing you didn’t pack.

Yup.  That’s the world of these magical, unpredictable AF babies.

You’re going to forget things. You’re going to screw up. And you’re going to be “that Parent” at some point. We are ALL “that Parent” at one time or another.

I’ve yet to meet a Parent who’s got it all together, all the time. Even us “experts” are just making it up as we go along.

But you’re also going to learn a ton and you WILL figure it out.

It’s a steep learning curve and you learn new things every day for the rest of that baby’s life. It’s life long, it never ends and it’s the best ever!

parenting1

So listen, I’m not an expert in all things babies by any means. But the above three nuggets are things I’ve learned on my own the past 3.5 years and things I wish someone, anyone, had told me. So I’m sharing them with you.

But in the end, this shit doesn’t matter. What matters is the smile on your baby’s face when they first really see you, or the laughter or joy they get from just hanging out with you!

That’s the good stuff that makes the other stuff totally worth it!

Being a Parent is the most important job in the world and you just landed the gig!

Challenge accepted.

 xo

Dr Aliya

Pregnancy

Things I wish I had known before my first baby!

Yup – that’s me! 2 years and 8 months ago. Almost 40 weeks pregnant with my first baby and not quite sure what to expect after the baby was born.

I did what most pregnant women do. I listened intently to the advice and stories of all the other moms around me – my mom, my mother-in-law, my grandmas, aunts, friends and even random women in the grocery store. Everyone had a story or some tidbit of advice they wanted to share.

I also tried to read every book and article related to pregnancy in a last ditch effort to prepare myself for what was to come.

Looking back now, it was super overwhelming and just a bit over the top. Ha! That sounds like me.

Inevitably, by the time my 2nd pregnancy rolled around, the “overachiever” in me was too exhausted by my crazy toddler to even pick up a book. And honestly, I felt I didn’t have to. I had mentally compiled a list of all the things I wish I had known the first time I was pregnant and ready to give birth to a tiny human.

I call it my list of “Wish I Had Known’s”.

Here are a few things “I wish I had known” before having our first baby:

  1. Expect the Unexpected…for life

“My pregnancy, labour and delivery went exactly the way I had planned” said no mom EVER. Be prepared to just “go with the flow”. Sounds cliché I know, but it has become my mantra. Letting go of plans was the absolute hardest thing I had to do from labour and delivery to my baby’s sleep and feed schedules to handling my toddler’s meltdowns.

  1. The first 12 weeks are going to be HARD

This is one of the single most important things every mom should know. The first 12 weeks or fourth trimester (as it’s often called) is super duper tough. It calls for survival mode. Recruit help as often as you need and just keep your head down to get through it. It gets better, promise.

  1. You will not sleep (soundly)…again

Even if your baby is a “sleeper”, you still will not sleep soundly every again. You will worry constantly. Is your baby still breathing? Is your baby too hot? Is your baby too cold? Do they have enough blankets? Did they wet the bed? Are they home from that party? Etc.

  1. Your Post Pregnancy Body WILL be different than your Pre-Pregnancy Body

And that’s more than okay. It’s amazing! It will forever be your reminder of the truly remarkable, life-changing thing that you did.   You will have a few more stretch marks, there may be some weakness or a scar, but look at what you’ve created! Be easy and kind to yourself and to your body. It’s recovering and healing and it will feel different and may not be what you had expected (see number 1 above). But it’s still yours to love.

  1. Motherhood may make you feel more vulnerable than ever before, but you are NOT alone

Many, many women feel isolated after childbirth. You question your identity, your ability as a mother, your body. Your sense of confidence is shaken by the challenges that come with a new baby and it may leave you feeling raw, emotional, and vulnerable. You are not alone. At some point, almost every single mother goes through this and please know that the transition to becoming a parent isn’t an easy one for anyone, no matter what instagram portrays! Talking to someone will help. I promise.

  1. Girl, trust yourself!

We all have natural maternal instincts. Trust your gut! It may take a bit of fine tuning and honing but they’re there and they will help you figure out what’s right for your baby.

 

Honestly, I wish I had known half of these things before my first baby was born. But that’s how life unfolds. You learn those key life lessons from experience not from Chapter 4 of a pregnancy book. You’ll get there mama!!

 

xo

Dr Aliya

 

Babies + Kids

Easy Snack Ideas for a HANGRY Toddler

Ever had a “hangry” toddler in your midst? Eyes bulging, face crimson, mouth drooling, high pitched squeaks emanating….it’s not pretty.

My 2.5 year old is an utter monster when she’s hungry and as a parent there is a fine line between getting the monster fed with whatever is within reach stat and making sure she has a healthy, nutritious snack to gobble down.

I know I’m not alone when I say that it’s often a struggle to come up with some creative snack ideas to keep your child fed nutritiously.

I wouldn’t say I have a picky, fussy eater – but she definitely has her moments when the same snack offered at daycare pick up just isn’t going to cut it and sends her over the edge into tantrum land.

I also know that just like her mama, she is a “grazer”.   She likes to snack frequently during the day and doesn’t do a ton of eating in one sitting.

That’s when we rely on healthy, “well-timed” snacks, which can help balance out an uneven diet, tiding toddlers over between meals and keeping them from getting so hungry that they become unyielding terrors. Most toddlers do well with three meals and two or three snacks a day.

The good news is that toddlers aren’t aware of “junk food” at the age of 2-3 and the influence you have on your child’s eating patterns is amazing at this stage. They’ll basically eat what’s served to them (for the most part) and as parents we can try to take this opportunity to set the stage for some healthy food choices.

Here are few super easy healthy snack ideas and tips:

  • Stock up on fresh fruits and veggies that are easy to eat and are colourful (raspberries, blueberries, pomegranate seeds, red, green, yellow peppers, etc)
  • Think small, easy to handle bite sized portions. Cutting up cubes of cheese or chopping up an apple in slices rather than chunks is a novelty to your toddler. Trust me, offering snack choices creatively helps!
  • Dips – my toddler loves any type of “dunking” – things like hummus and veggies or yogurt and strawberries keep your little person interested and occupied for a few moments.
  • Offer a couple of snack choices — let them decide if they want nuts and raisins or carrots and hummus.  A few snack options are a great way for your toddler to feel in charge of their food choices.
  • Involve them in the prep process. Its easy to have them peel a clementine or mandarin or pull the skin from a banana. They feel pretty grown up when you include them in the process and they take an interest in the food they are eating.

These ideas are just a start! You don’t have to be a supermom to put together creative snack ideas…trust me! If I can do it….you can too!

Plus, below are a few foodie blogs that I absolutely LOVE that offer a TON of information and creative food ideas from babes to toddlers. Check them out!

www.babyfoode.com – Michele is a mama of 2 and her blog is an amazing resource with tons of recipes and ideas broken down into baby food, toddler food AND family recipes! She also has a bunch cookbooks and ebooks that are filled with yummy recipes!

www.joyoushealth.ca – Joy McCarthy is my go-to for healthy, amazing food inspo and since having her sweet baby Vienna she has cooked up some amazing tasty and healthy recipes for babes and toddlers. Rosie absolutely loves her Good Morning Breakfast Cookies and her Strawberry Chia Pudding – both are staples at our house!

www.sproutright.com – Founder Lianne Phillipson-Webb’s book and website is a great resource for parents offering simplified nutritional information for your little people and for your family. She covers topics such as introducing your baby to solids as well as how to cope with food sensitivities and allergies your toddler may develop.

xo

Dr Aliya

 

 

 

 

 

 

Babies + Kids

4 Fun & Easy Ways to Re-connect with your Partner – Post BABY!

I had a mama-to-be come in to see me last week and she asked me if I had any advice for the first few months after baby is born.

“Just try to survive the first 3 months”, I told her honestly.

Remembering the first three months after Rose was born was difficult. It was a complete blur!

My husband and I found ourselves managing on a day-to-day basis and our relationship took a toll, to say the least.

That is until about 4 months post-birth when I found myself missing him and trying to come up with different, unconventional ways to re-connect. Our new responsibilities were crowding out everything that seemed important before baby.

One day we found ourselves on the living room floor playing cards (our internet was down and our Netflix was out of commission), enjoying each other’s company in a way we hadn’t since becoming parents.

Trust me, I get it.

It’s easy to fall into a routine, the hum-drum of life takes over and we forget to nurture the relationship we have with our partners especially when kids enter our world.

For this very reason, I’ve thought up some easy and fun ways to re-connect with your partner.

  1. Learn something new together

To keep things interesting, try learning a new skill or hobby or playing a new sport with your honey. Things like taking a wine-tasting course, or a cooking-class, learning a new language or even trying out a new sport such as tennis or squash or my favourite thing to do – going for an easy casual bike ride around our ‘hood!

  1. Day dates

Perhaps an evening date may not be in the cards for you two, but meeting for quick coffee or lunch during the day can easily fit into your schedules. Take a longer lunch break and meet your partner downtown for bite or even schedule an afternoon off to hang out and get a couples massage.

  1. Games night

Board or card games aren’t just for your kids. Challenge your sweetie to a game of cards, Monopoly, Scrabble or Trivial Pursuit to lighten the mood and reconnect.

  1. Get in love!

Remember how it felt when your partner gave you flowers for no reason? Or that time you were wearing something sexy and the look on their face? Every relationship needs a kick start of romance post-baby. Try things like writing a sweet note, or buying a nice bottle of wine.

Rekindling a connection to your partner is crucial to any couple’s relationship and can easily fall by the wayside after baby is born.

Start with small gestures and easy, fun things to do with one another and your relationship will be back on track in no time!

 

 

Babies + Kids, Health + Wellness

Life Lessons Learned from my Little

 

No one ever said motherhood would be easy.   Actually, I’m pretty sure we’ve all had our butts kicked by our kids at some point or another. For me, it’s a constant reminder that she really is “The Boss”.   And the boss is a little crazy.

But I will say one thing….my little boss is constantly teaching me things.

Today I took a second to stop and think about all the little nuggets she’s shown me or taught me over the last 2 years.   Some pretty awesome life lessons.

Here are a few:

1. Take pleasure in the little things.

Blow bubbles. Splash puddles. Let snowflakes land on your tongue. Try on mommy’s jewelry.   Eat raisins one at a time. Lick the jam off the toast before you take a bite.

She loves taking her time, investigating and savouring the little details.  Life moves so fast – it’s easy to get caught up in it and forget the little things that make you feel joy!

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” – Robert Brault

photo rose 1

 

2. Dance to the rhythm of your own drum.

Sing off tune. Dance they way you want. Wear mismatched socks. As adults we’re constantly fearful and mindful of what others will think or say. Her life is limitless. She’s not scared or fearful of failure or judgment.

As we get older, we fear the unknown, stay safely in our comfort zone and perpetually match our socks. I’d like to think the sense of unknown exhilarates our senses and keeps our spirit awake.

3.  Baths aren’t just to get clean.

Baths are to practice swimming or to pretend you are an octopus. The crib isn’t just where we sleep – it’s a giant castle for all of your stuffies or a boat that’s sailing through the sea.

A child’s imagination is wild. I can’t believe all of the things she dreams up and how creative her mind becomes. She sees an elaborate fairytale story everywhere!

“Logic will get you from A to Z. Imagination will get your everywhere” ~Albert Einstein

photo rose 2

4. Every day is a new day

She pushes a reset button every night.   Every morning is a fresh start and all of the worries from the day before have flown away. Her adaptability constantly surprises me – she kinda just goes with the flow (clearly she doesn’t get that from me!).

There’s no baggage from day to day.   How I wish I could as easily let go of the past with its often tenuous situations and just chuck my baggage out the window!

“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” – L.M. Montgomery.

5. A hug and kiss fix EVERYTHING.

I’m serious. It’s like a magic potion. It works for skinned knees, major meltdowns and a lost stuffed bunny.   It still amazes me how powerful a loving hug is when she’s in the throes of her emotions – whether it’s anger, sadness or frustration.

It’s such a tremendous feeling to know that I have the best antidote to all of the crappy things life hands her… she still needs her mama to make things better!

“The Best Medicine in the World is a Mother’s hug”

Babies + Kids

The Ins & Outs Of Swimming With Baby

Yes, it’s -10°C outside. And yes, maybe the last thing you are thinking about is a dip in the pool.   However, Toronto’s indoor pools are pretty busy this season with parents finding indoor swimming and lessons a great way to keep their children busy as outside temps fall below freezing.

Swimming at all ages is awesome and it’s particularly amazing for infants for a whole host of reasons.

When can you take your little one for a dip?

Although a specific swimming age appropriate guideline doesn’t formally exist, most pediatricians and health practitioners advise parents to wait until their baby is about 5-6 months old before enrolling in swim classes. By this age your baby should have pretty good head and torso control. Plus, at that age your baby will be able to splash, kick and enjoy the water.

After spending nine months suspended in fluid in the womb, it’s not surprising that most babies have a natural affinity for water.  Babies have primitive reflexes that actually help them in the water.

Specifically, the laryngeal reflex (or gag reflex) allows them to hold their breath and avoid inhaling water in response to the sensation of water on their face, nose or throat.

 

The Benefits of Swimming in Infants

The American Academy of Pediatrics states that younger children may benefit greatly from swimming classes.

New data shows that early swim training may actually lower drowning rates in children under the age of 4.  Swimming also helps to develop a child’s confidence, as well as improve motor skills and co-ordination.

Swimming helps develop a child’s confidence and improve motor skills and co-ordination

Here are a few tips to turn your tot into a water baby:

  • Visit pools that have warmer water temps for baby’s comfort
  • Use bath time as an opportunity to get your baby used to the water.  Sing a song, use a cloth or sponge to dribble some water over baby’s face, splash, and blow bubbles.
  • Take your time and be patient.  Give her plenty of time to get acclimated to the water.
  • Start with slow, gentle motions like bouncing up and down together or swaying from side to side.  Once she’s more comfortable with her surroundings, explain and demonstrate some fun, basic skills like blowing bubbles or splashing.
  • Hold off on introducing floats or other floatation devices until baby is comfortable in the water.
  • Enjoy yourself.  If you are relaxed, smiling and having fun, your baby is more likely to be at ease!
Babies + Kids

Fevers: Friend or Foe?

A few months ago, my 14 month old daughter Rose woke up in the middle of the night with a fever. She went to bed easily and a few hours later, she was awake, crying and heating up. Her temperature was 103°F and rising. Like any parents, my husband and I were both worried. However, as a chiropractor treating many infants and children, I know that fevers are a part of our body’s healthy immune response. But that didn’t stop us from being slightly panicked anyway.

Many parents misinterpret the dangers of a high fever and believe they should be suppressed immediately, at all costs. We often confuse fever with being a sign of illness instead of a sign of our normal immune response. In fact, fevers are one of the body’s natural and effective protective mechanisms. Temperatures between 100° and 104° F (37.8° – 40° C) are generally a sign of functioning immune system and are good for sick children helping their bodies fight infections.

Here are a few fever related questions I often get asked by parents:

Q.  When should I be concerned about my child’s fever?

A. Children can be warm for many reasons – they are basically giving off heat. Generally their temperatures should be back within normal ranges within 10 to 20 minutes. Normal ranges vary depending on the way the temperature was taken (eg. rectal, ear, oral, axillary).

Here are the guidelines for parents to seek medical attention when their infant or child has a fever (using the rectal or ear method of taking temperatures):

    • Infants 0-3 months with a temperature higher than 100.4°F (or 38°C); parents should seek care immediately and continue to breastfeed often while waiting for care.
    • Children 3-36 months with a temperature higher than 102.2°F (39°C), if they appear ill. Breastfeeding often while waiting for care.
    • Children older than 36 months with a temperature higher than 104.5°F (40.3°C)

For children not in the above three categroies, bed rest and fluids will support the fever and allow it to do the job that your child needs it to do.

Q. What are febrile seizures and are they harmful?

A. Febrile seizures are convulsions brought on by a fever in infants or small children. During a febrile seizure, a child often loses consciousness or shakes, moving limbs on both sides of the body. Seizures are very scary to watch but are over rather quickly and do not cause permanent harm.

An article in the medical journal, Neurology, concluded that most febrile seizures do not adversely affect global measures of intelligence, nor do they harm more specific functions such as memory in children older than 1 year of age.

Q. My child has a low grade fever. Should I give her some medication to reduce it? 

A. Most parents, myself included, want to do everything we can to help our children feel better. However in the case of a fever, the best medicine is to support the fever and let it run its course. A fever of 102°F to 103°F is considered the optimal defense against microbes.

Supporting your child’s fever means keeping him or her comfortable and resting. Offering plenty of fluids and keeping them cool by removing layers. Don’t force food. Generally children have reduced appetites when fighting infections – let her determine when and what she eats. Keep in mind, sugary foods often delay the natural immune response.

Medication is not always needed to reduce a child’s temperature. In fact, the best reason for giving your child medicine is not to reduce the fever, but to relieve any aches and pains.

Here is the American Academy of Pediatrics advice to parents as found on their website:

“Fevers generally do not need to be treated with medication unless your child is uncomfortable or has a history of febrile convulsions. The fever may be important in helping your child fight the infection”

Remember moms and dads: Fever is one of the good guys.

Suppressing a fever will only delay your child’s natural immune response to help fight the infection. Instead supporting a fever will help your child feel better, faster!

And we all want happy, healthy babies after all!

 

 

References:

Neurology (July 10 2001; 57:7-8, 37-42)

www.mercola.com (Dr. Mercola)

www.aap.org (American Academy of Pediatrics)

(graphic www.magicmum.com)

 

Babies + Kids

How to strengthen your baby’s back muscles!

Unfortunately these days our babies spend way too much time in carriers, car seats, highchairs and strollers! It’s important to let babies and toddlers explore the world around them. Teaching them to engage in a wide range of physical activities is important for their strength, balance and co-ordination.

As your baby grows into a toddler, “tummy time” may no longer be applicable. However there are a few ways to stimulate his postural muscles to help development and improve brain function!

Here are a few ideas:

  • Regularly tickle their back
  • Write letters and numbers on their back in the bath
  • Play on all fours (pretend to be wild animals)
  • Encourage hand-stands and cart-wheels
  • Dance!
  • Use hula-hoops
  • Rub the back of their necks along their hairline
  • Play on jungle gyms, slides, or balance beams
  • Try jumping games like hopscotch or jumping jacks
  • Play on the floor with everyone lying on their tummy

 

 

(Reference: Ticklish by Dr Jennifer Barham-Floreani)

Babies + Kids, Pregnancy

Baby and Beyond: Learning by Trial & Error

As a chiropractor working with pregnant women and babies for years, I’m your girl when it comes to labour prep, solutions for colic, dealing with gas, breastfeeding, morning sickness and the like. I’m ready and willing to share!

But nothing could have prepared me for going through this process myself.   There is so much more to pregnancy, labour, childbirth and parenting than I could have imagined. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last 14 months, it’s that every pregnancy, mama, baby is different. What worked for many of my friends, or even my patients did not work for me.   Unfortunately, there isn’t one way to conquer all that comes with pregnancy and having (and raising) a baby. What I’m slowly learning is that parenting is basically trial and error. As an analytical person, I like to follow rules, steps, flowcharts; motherhood doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Every baby is different and we are all doing our best to figure it out. You might get the hang of certain things – you’re good, you’ve got it under control… And then the phase changes. Sleep patterns are out the window, your toddler stops eating and you have something new to master. It’s a learning curve, and at times it can be frustrating but it’s also so gosh darn amazing!

So if you’ve tried everything under the moon to help soothe your teething, fussy baby (or your morning sickness won’t ease no matter how many tips you’ve tried), my advice to you is: Don’t Give Up! Just because your best friend’s way to burp a baby didn’t work for you, doesn’t mean you are doing it wrong. You’ll settle into your groove and find a way that works best for you.

Chin up Mama – you’re doing great!

Babies + Kids

My Favourites: Books for the first year of parenting

Ever been to the Parenting section of your local Chapters/Indigo? Overwhelming isn’t it?  I, myself have a stack of parenting/toddler books on my night table that I am hoping to tackle one day (when I’m not completely exhausted). On the other hand, I have loads of friends who are the “I don’t need a book to raise my kid” type – and that’s amazing.

For me, a handy resource here and there is like a helping hand and a rational voice. Let’s face it – sometimes we need all the help we can get when faced with an unruly toddler who doesn’t want to wear pants to daycare.

Here is a list of books I found useful and would pass along to friends, if asked.

The Wonder Weeks

This book was recommended to me by a patient when Rose was four months old and it was a game changer. Understanding the reasons behind fussy periods and the ever talked about regressions will help you stimulate your little one’s mental development and gives you a glance into what’s really going on in your wee one’s mind.

Well Adjusted Babies

I bought this one before I was even pregnant! As a chiropractor treating babies, it was a great resource and as a mom it was my holistic parenting bible. I found myself flipping through the pages on nutrition for healthy babies quite a bit when I was starting Rose on solids. The book is also well researched and evidence-based which appeals to my inner science geek.

Breaking the Good Mom Myth

I remember the day I picked this book up. I was feeling terrible about the fact that I had worked a full week and I had barely spent any time with my now seven month old little girl! Time was flying by, she was getting bigger and bigger and I was missing it! I felt as though the author, Alyson Schafer, was speaking to me – telling me to let go of the idea of the “perfect mom”. She does a great job of reminding parents that we can raise children without perfection or selflessness.

No Drama Discipline

Another dear patient of mine recommended this book after I told her that my 13 month old had her first tantrum. I found that the authors offer a clear and effective way for dealing with tantrums, tears and general meltdowns.   It also has a summary at the end of the book as a kind of “cheat sheet” for your child’s caregivers, keeping you all on the same page when addressing discipline.

Bringing Up Bebe

About an American woman raising her kids in France, this book illustrates a different perspective of motherhood.   At times, it made me wish I was a Parisian woman wearing skinny jeans sipping a café au lait while my daughter plays nicely beside me (not in this lifetime). It was a fun, light read and offered some interesting cross cultural observations and insights.