Best Things to do with Kids in Downtown Toronto

After living in Toronto consistently for about a year now, and realizing how much it has to offer for free to little ones, I decided I needed to start making a list for other parents to benefit from.

I’ve been coming to Toronto for almost 10 years now. I spent a lot of time here while Waseem and I were just dating as well as while we were married and now after we’ve had Zayd. Since Zayd was only born 2 and a half years ago, I’ve only been discovering things to do around downtown with a child in my recent relationship with Toronto. In the last year or so I’ve learned so much about where to take him, including a bunch of places that are free! The longer I live in Toronto with a kid, the more I see why people live here with kids. It really does just have so much to offer even for those who don’t want to be constantly spending an arm and a leg to keep the kids busy (which is all of us, right?)

Below are our favorite places to visit in downtown Toronto. These are all the free options we frequent often. I’ll make another list of places that are also great to visit but come with a cost.

 


Riverdale Farm

Riverdale Farm Location can be found here.
Riverdale Park East Location can be found here.
When to visit: Open 365 days a year! Even during holidays.

This has by far been Zayd’s favorite place to visit since he was about a year old. Riverdale farm is a beautiful farm with animals in the heart of downtown. It really is hard to believe that just a few minutes down the road you’re back in the hustle and bustle of it all. The grounds are just stunning. It’s amazing that it can look so different with each season.

They have an adequate number of farm animals inside barns and out in stables that are always fun to watch. Unfortunately there isn’t a petting zoo aspect, but there are a couple barns that can be visited when it’s a little colder. One of the barns houses sheep, goats and an occasional kitty. The other barn is where you’ll find chickens, ducks, turkeys, pigs, and even bunnies.

Outside the landscape is adorable, like something straight out of a children’s book. Wooden fences around the horses and cows, several vegetable gardens and even a windmill. At the end of one of the paths there’s a pretty pond where you’ll sometimes see ducks, there are a few picturesque spots too with lots of flowers in the spring/summer months.

I could go on and on about this farm and all it offers to its community but I’ll let you discover the rest of its hidden gems (as well as a Halloween event they put on every year with a boo barn. so cute!) They also have a kids room that’s got some toy farm animals and books that’s only open when they have special events but a great spot to visit.

Did I mention I’ve been coming to this farm for almost 10 years now and that includes coming several times with Waseem while we were still dating. Yes! This is an awesome place for a date!

Last thing, if you walk through the farm and out the other end, you will end up at the bottom of Riverdale park East. This in my opinion, is one of the absolute BEST parks in all of Toronto. The most stunning view of the city you will ever see! Once you get to the top of the hill on Broadview Ave, enjoy the view and get a great cup of coffee or a snack from Rooster Coffee House.

Toronto Canada Man at Riverdale Park(Totally worth keeping the image this size!)


Allen Gardens

Garden can be found here.
Playground can be found here.
When to visit: Open 365 days a year.

Ladies and gentlemen I want to introduce you to our second most favorite spot in the city, Allen Gardens. I think this is my favorite, Zayd I think would still choose the farm as his but this is definitely a runner up (they have fish and turtles!). Another place Waseem and I have been coming to forever. I have pictures of us when we were so young, wild and free in here, as well as pictures of us while I was pregnant and now some with Zayd of course.

(I’ll just leave these right here 🙂 )

Allen Gardens is one of the oldest parks in Toronto. It’s got a beautiful plant conservatory that sits on a great park with a fenced playground and two significantly large dog parks (One is for big dogs, the other is for smaller ones).  The conservatory has several different climate controlled rooms and so much greenery in a very concrete jungle part of the city. It is an oasis. Humble in its size compared to other botanical gardens, it is tastefully landscaped. Each room has a different feel to it with totally different plants and flowers. They have the tropical room that is quite humid (this is where the pond and the turtles are), a couple of rooms that have a similar temperature to what’s outdoors (a little warmer so no need for your jacket when you’re inside the gardens at all), a center palm room and my favorite, the desert room.

The fish and turtles are a huge draw for Zayd but I think he subconsciously loves being surrounded by all the greenery and flowers. He also gets pretty excited to visit during the winter months because they set up a little train that’s constantly moving around in one of the corners that he just loves to watch. The playground is right behind the conservatory so I usually take Zayd to both when we plan our visit. A great way to spend a couple of hours!

Keep an eye out for events the garden holds by checking the bulletin boards at the entrances. During the summer they have a weekly event where you can bring your kids to play in one of their gated outdoor gardens. Kids get to water the plants, do some muddy play and make art with volunteers, all completely free (donations appreciated). We only got to it once last year but Zayd really enjoyed it!


The Children’s Book Bank

Book Bank can be found here.
When to visit: Daily from 10 am onward. Closed on Sundays and most holidays.

The children’s book bank is a place we totally stumbled upon last summer. My cousin Nour and her son Badr were visiting us for a month so we were always out and about exploring. One day when we were on our way back from our favorite farm, we walked right past this place and decided to check it out. The book bank looks like it used to be someones home and has now been converted into this absolutely adorable space that we loved just as much as the kiddos did!

There are three separate rooms filled with books, a couple cozy places to sit and read with your little’s, a table to do some coloring and finally every kids favorite, a fish tank! The books are all organized really well by age (books from birth to 12 years) and category and we always find books Zayd’s interested in exploring.

This place isn’t just great for all the reasons I listed above but also, everyone who takes a trip to the book bank, can leave with a book of their own for free! Yup, hard to believe I know. It really is an amazing concept and I really do find it helps build your child’s love for reading. Although you can’t just walk in as a Mom without your kiddo to pick out a book for him while he’s at daycare (I tried lol), they have a policy where adults unaccompanied by children are actually not even allowed to visit. Makes total sense. It’s actually kind of cute if you think of it, this is the one place in the city where your kid is the star of the show and your ticket to get you into that special “club” 🙂

Finally, the book bank will actually take back old books your child isn’t interested in anymore. I find this is a great way to teach kids the concept of donating what they no longer need or want. (Teach them how to live mindfully while they’re young and it will be something they can benefit from for the rest of their lives!) We highly recommend the book bank! Oh, and it’s not too far from Riverdale Farm so would be a great addition to your day out and about.


Toronto Railway Museum

Museum can be found here.
Roundhouse Playground can be found here.
When to visit: Hours can be found here.

When it’s warm out you can find us here! Zayd is a typical kid in a sense that he just loves his trains. We ride the subway on our way to and from school when it’s chilly out and he just can’t seem to get enough. Always looking to say hi to the operator as we get on and off the subway and always hoping they’ll honk the horn for him (a lot of the time they do and it just makes his day!).

This museum is totally free and really nice to check out. You can get on and off all the trains but can’t really go inside them. There are metal steering wheels the kids love to play with and I think just being able to be on an old train like these is fun.

A fun aspect of this museum is the mini train you can ride with your kid when it’s operating (Returns May 2020). The train takes a ride around the grounds and even honks its horn. A really fun ride for kids and parents as well. This is the only thing that costs a couple bucks to do but totally worth it.

Finally, after getting some train time in check out The Roundhouse Playground located right next to the museum.


Pam McConnell Aquatic Center

Aquatic center can be found here.
Regent Park can be found here.
When to visit: Daily as early at 7 am.

A really fun place to take the kids is the aquatic center. This is a stunningly modern looking facility that has three swimming pools and even an indoor water slide! We’ve only ever been here one time but I plan on going back in the near future. With lots of windows, it’s so bright and really aesthetically pleasing. The showers and locker areas are very clean and well managed. The pools are monitored with several lifeguards for peace of mind.

I think the reason we haven’t gone more often is because I actually need to go swimming with Zayd and I don’t always feel like it haha. I imagine we’ll be going more often now that he’s getting older and I would like him to learn how to swim before the summertime comes around.

The center has a bunch of swim classes (registered and drop ins) for kids from 6 months onward as well as programs for adults who want to learn how to swim. Aqua aerobics classes are also available. They also have programs for kids and adults with disability (therapy pools) which I think is just amazing.

After swimming make sure to visit the attached playground in Regent Park.


Jill & The Beanstalk

Jill & The Beanstalk location can be found here.
Jill & The Beanstalk’s events can be found here.
Music Together Classes website can be found here.

I discovered this great community based store while looking for a music class for Zayd. This place has a children’s store up front with tons of great products (free downtown Toronto delivery!) for your little ones including a couple awesome consignment sections. I really enjoy looking through their clothes and shoes for my little guy and have often scored some great finds.

The back end of this store has a room that is used for various community events and open play times. They’ve got a shelving unit with a bunch of kids toys and books and often have drop in times and song circle meets. We visit the store once a week for our music class that Zayd really enjoys called Music Together (this is a paid program but so worth it if you’re looking to do something fun with your kiddo. They have various locations too so if this store isn’t convenient for you check out their other spots). Find Toronto locations here.

Make sure to check out Jill & The Beanstalk’s website for a list of all the workshops and events they hold. Last week I attended a potty training workshop that was so great I was able to potty train Zayd in just three days!! Yes, you heard that correctly. Other programs they offer include a breastfeeding monthly support group, baby speech and language workshops, infant and child first aid and CPR, sleep workshops and much more!

Jill & The Beanstalk truly is a great gem in the community and I’m so glad we stumbled upon it!


The Menagerie Pet Shop

Pet shop can be found here.
When to visit: Weekly as early at 10:30 am

A really fun pet shop to take kids to (and adults!) is The Menagerie Pet Shop. This is one of the only pet shops in downtown Toronto that actually has pets (as opposed to just selling pet supplies, but they sell those as well). They have a reptile section with various tanks to check out, a bird room, a fish area and a section with hamsters and other little critters.

Zayd and I have been visiting this spot for about a year now and we truly enjoy it. One of the reasons we like visiting this pet shop as often as we do is to see our friend Josh. Josh is a character, is super informed about the animals in the shop and seems to really enjoy teaching people about them. He’s also really good at talking with kids.

I’ll never forget the first time we visited the store and Josh took out a snake to show Zayd. It was the first time he’d ever seen a snake up close and was pretty scared. After getting closer and closer to it (and me putting the snake around my neck) he eventually started to touch it and get more and more comfortable until he was so comfortable that he actually gave it a kiss! That was huge for me as a Mom. It just showed me that if my kid is afraid of something, I can help remove that fear if I show him that his own mother isn’t afraid. Josh helped with that. We take anyone who visits us to this shop and everyone enjoys it. Josh also has a few videos on YouTube worth checking out that you can find here.


High Park Zoo

Zoo can be found here.
When to visit: All year round. Open daily from 7 am to dusk

High Park Zoo is a free zoo in the middle of the beautiful High Park. There are 11 enclosed paddocks with various animals ranging from reindeer, sheep, capybara, bison, peacocks and even emu. It’s not as big as the Toronto Zoo and not half as hard to get to (you don’t need a car to get there like you do to get to the Toronto Zoo).

Besides the fact that there are no cars in the area and the kids can run free, they also open the Llama pen on the weekends where you can touch the Llamas! I call that a win win.

There is a lot to discover at High Park. One of our favorite summertime activities to pair with a trip to the zoo is a visit to the parks splash pad and playground.


Hope you enjoyed my list of the best free things to do with your kids in Toronto. If there are places you’ve discovered that I missed please put them in the comments and help other families keep busy on a budget!

 

 

 

 

 

Marinate Flank Steak with Oven Roasted Broccoli and Carrots

Marinated Flank Steak with Oven Roasted Broccoli and Carrots:
It’s summertime and one of our favorite things to eat are fresh vegetables that are in season! I usually drop Zayd off at daycare and stop by the farmers market nearby to pick up some veggies for the week. This has opened up our eyes to a variety of veggies we wouldn’t normally eat. There’s something about eating produce that’s in season that can’t be beat. Everything just tastes to much more flavorful when you shop this way. Luckily, our farmers market also sells fresh meat from a nearby farm. Roasting vegetables is so easy and it’s fun to try different combinations and see what works well together. Here’a a recipe that will definitely make you want to come back for more!

e42721dd-2bb1-4baf-ae70-bcb6752fce92Servings: 2
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:
1 lb Flank Steak
2 Large Carrots, chopped in thirds (substitute 1 1/2 cups baby carrots)
1 Med Head Broccoli, cut into pieces
2 Tbs Olive Oil
1 Tbs Garlic Powder
Salt and Pepper to taste

Meat marinade:
2 1/2 Tbs Canola oil
1 1/2 Tbs Soy Sauce
1 1/4 Tbs Vinegar
2 tsp Fresh Lemon Juice
1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1/8 tsp Ground Black Pepper

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, mix the oil, soy sauce, vinegar, lemon juice, worcestershire sauce, mustard, garlic and black pepper. Add the meat making sure to coat from both sides. Cover and put in the fridge as long as possible (Anywhere from 4-6 hours is ideal)
  • Turn oven up to 425 degrees to preheat before preparing the veggies.
  • Chop carrots, broccoli and red pepper somewhat into the same size pieces and spread evenly on a baking sheet.
  • Drizzle with olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  • Place the vegetables in the oven for about 15 minutes, take tray out, toss and roast for 10 to 15 minutes more.
  • While vegetables are roasting, place the steak on a stove top grill (or even better, a real grill if you have one) Grill for 5 minutes on each side, or to desired doneness.
  • Serve and enjoy!

If you liked this recipe and want to see what else we’ve been cooking, check out our quick and delicious One Pot Pasta recipe that really hits the spot!

One Pot Pasta

One Pot Pasta:
When you’ve been running around after your little one all day the idea of tackling dinner seems exhausting. It’s usually the last thing I want to do! This recipe is perfect to make on those busy days when all you want to do is throw a few things together and be done. What’s great is, not only is this meal quick and easy, it’s also really tasty as well.

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Servings: 4
Prep Time:  15 min
Cook Time: 10 min

Ingredients:
12 oz. Linguine
1 Yellow Onion, thinly sliced
12 oz. of Cherry Tomatoes, halved
4 Garlic Cloves, thinly sliced
1 Small Red Chili, thinly sliced
2 Big bunches of Basil
A few Parmesan Cheese Rinds (I usually save them as I use the cheese to use for this recipe)
Handful of Grated Parmesan Cheese
3 Tbs of Olive Oil
1/4 Tsp Freshly Cracked Pepper
2 Tsp Salt
4 1/2 Cups of Water (Substitute with chicken stock)

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Directions:

  • In a large skillet place the linguine in the center and on either side of it make two piles of tomatoes, onion, Parmesan rinds, garlic and chili. Break up the basil leaves and place them all around the pot.
  • Drizzle the olive oil on top of the entire thing and add the salt and pepper.
  • Finally, pour in the water and turn the heat up to high, we want the water to boil.
  • Let it cook for 10 minutes watching it carefully and stirring occasionally.
  • 10 minutes later you’re done. Add some freshly cracked pepper on top and grate some cheese over the pasta and you’re ready to enjoy it!

 

Baby Sign Language, A lifesaver

A couple years ago when I was pregnant, Waseem and I took a tour of the birth center we planned on giving birth at. While walking around the center we were pleasantly surprised to bump into someone Waseem has known since he was a camp counselor at Camp Tawingo. It turns out her sister was in one of the rooms giving birth and her and her Mom were waiting in the waiting room. While chit chatting about her young daughter, she told us all about the sign language they were using with her. That’s where we first heard about baby sign language. We were definitely intrigued.

Fast forward a year or so later, Waseem and I learned a few signs and started using them with Zayd. (I want to say around the 6 month mark). We started by signing “more” when we started him on solids. Of course he wasn’t able to sign back yet, but we were determined to practice it regularly with him in hopes he would one day get the idea. We also used the sign for “milk” before I nursed him and “bath” before or during bath time.

Screenshot 2019-07-12 at 10.56.06 AM

The first time Zayd signed we were taking a walk at Red Sea Mall. He must have been around 11 months old. I vaguely remember it at this point but I do remember being extremely proud and happy about it. He signed “more” while I was feeding him. Needless to say it was the highlight of the week!
Screenshot 2019-07-12 at 10.56.40 AM

He’s now two years old and he’s been signing like a pro for the last year or so. I have to say it has really made our lives a little easier. He doesn’t get as frustrated as he could get because he’s able to tell us when he wants to nurse, eat, drink, or take a bath. He’s even started coming up with his own signs! Of course when he does it takes us a few tries to guess what he means but then once we do we’re golden.

The funniest sign he’s made up is his sign for “cheese” (the food). He will point as his cheek and say “chee”. We’re not sure how it all started but we’re thinking it’s probably a combination of the word “cheese” sounding similar to “cheek” and the idea of saying “cheese” when you are having your picture taken.

Since we speak to Zayd in English and in Arabic, he’s taking his time with speech. He’ll say a couple words here and there “Baba” (he calls everyone that, even me!), “turtle” (he’s obsessed with the turtles at Allen Gardens so that’s where that came from), and of course the famous “daqqa” which he uses for almost everything (musical instruments, construction vehicles,  airplanes, and helicopters, you name it!). Some argue that it’s the reason he’s not really using words, we argue that it’s helped us communicate with him for a long time now and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

It can seem intimidating to learn and teach your child sign language, but it’s actually not intimidating at all. You can learn just the words that are most beneficial to your family and start practicing them with your child right away. Practice is key and so is patience. One day your kid with just use a sign and it will make you happy/excited beyond belief. Makes me super excited for him to actually start using his words! That’s gonna be a whole other type of fun!

 

 

5 Best Baby Bath Products

I put together a list of my favorite products to make bath time easier and more fun. Hope you like it!

If you find this list useful and are curious to see what other lists I have on the blog, check out 8 Best Pregnancy Products, 6 Best Postpartum Products or even 6 Best Baby Transport Products!

COLLAPSIBLE BOON BATH TUB

When I was trying to figure out what the best tub would be for our family, I got pretty excited when I found one that I could collapse flat and store out of sight. When you live in an apartment, you can quickly accumulate so many baby products that you forget adults also live in the home. This tub is very simple and extremely practical when you’re dealing with small spaces. The fact that it also has a newborn and a toddler setting makes it even more appealing because we can use it for a long time. Zayd is 17 months old and he still uses it. We put it in the big bath, but this way we don’t waste too much water because we only fill his tiny tub up. It’s size is great too to contain his toys all within arms reach. When we’re done using it, we flatten it up hang it behind the bathroom door. It’s even got a hook at the top of it for easy storing!


SUMMER INFANT BATH SPONGE

If you opt for the Boon tub (or really any baby tub) this sponge insert works really well for the newborn days. It’s pretty thick and soft so baby will enjoy laying on it, and I love the fact that it stays warm while you’re bathing baby. It’s also very easy to wring out and dry. Another plus is it’s very affordable and does the job well. With all the baby products you need as a new parent, it’s nice to not always have to splurge, especially when it’s something you will really only be using for a couple of months!


POTTERY BARN BATH WRAP

If you’re looking for a hooded towel that’s really soft and big enough to use for the first few years of baby’s life, Pottery Barn bath wraps are definitely the way to go. They’re made of really nice cotton terry material and they have so many different characters. Unicorns, raccoons and sharks just to name a few! With all the “baby shark do do do do do dooo” hype you’ll wanna get your hands on one to help entice your little one to get out of the tub at some point (cause sometimes they wanna stay in the tub forever!)


BURT’S BEES

When Zayd was born I went a little nuts only wanting to use natural and chemical free products on him. I started off with Aveeno and Johnson & Johnson until I read all about how J&J was being sued over an ovarian cancer case because of asbestos in their baby powder. That was enough to put me off of J&J. I was then reading the back of the Aveeno baby bubble bath bottle and I saw that it was a J&J product! I got pretty mad and immediately stopped using that as well. Now I check all products I buy (for Zayd or for us) to make sure J&J is nowhere to be seen.

The next baby wash and shampoo I tried was The Honest Company and although I loved the way it smelled (and the fact that I could get two pretty big bottles as a set from Costco), I felt like Zayd’s hair was always oily. It just didn’t feel like it was getting the job done. So the hunt went on.

Since Burt’s Bees was a company I always use and love for myself, I got pretty excited when I found their line of baby products and decided I’d give them a try. Problem was it was one of the more expensive products (hence the trying it so late in the game). Once I tried their baby products though, I was immediately hooked. Every one of their washes smell amazing, the bubble bath makes the perfect amount of bubbles for bath time and never leaves Zayd with greasy looking hair. Finally, the search was over! If I could do it all over again I wouldn’t waste any time and just go right for Burt’s Bees. They make the best products for babies and adults!


SUMMER INFANT 4 SIDED CHANGING PAD

This is the changing mat we opted for. Instead of having two contoured sides it has four for just a little added security. It’s pretty long and can be used till your baby is around 3 years old (hopefully you won’t still be changing diapers by then!) and is very well cushioned. Having a strap is an added bonus for when baby starts to learn how to turn over and plan his escape! It’s also very affordable compared to a lot of other mats out there that don’t have the same 4 sided feature. We use this mat in the bathroom for putting pajamas on after bath time.


MUNCHKIN WATERPROOF CHANGING PAD LINERS

Most parents opt for purchasing extra changing pad covers for the ability to wash ones that have been soiled. I initially thought I would be in the same boat until I came across these great pad liners. Moms have so much to do on a daily basis that it just saves time to throw one of these guys on top of your pad for ease of changing. They come in a convenient pack of three and they wash pretty well. I also used to throw one into the diaper bag or a purse if I didn’t want to take the diaper bag out that day just to have on the road. They can be put under a sleeping baby, on a play mat, anywhere really. Bottom line, they’re so versatile and useful that I think all parents should have a set!


If you find this list useful and are curious to see what other lists I have on the blog, check out 8 Best Pregnancy Products, 6 Best Postpartum Products or even 6 Best Baby Transport Products!

6 Best Baby Transport Products

Here are our favorite products for moving around with baby. You may also like to see my list of  8 Best Baby Travel products.

BUGABOO CAMELEON 3

Screenshot 2018-08-25 at 2.19.43 PMScreenshot 2018-08-25 at 2.19.57 PM

This was our number one choice for our every day stroller. Years ago I lived with my Uncle and his wife and their two young boys, and they had a bugaboo that I got to know very well. I immediately knew that one day, this would be the stroller I would have to get when I had a baby. Luckily, my in laws gifted the Bugaboo Cameleon 3 to us when Zayd was born. The Cameleon has lots of different features that we love.

PROS

  • This stroller glides beautifully. It really feels like you’re pushing it on a cloud.
  • The Cameleon comes with a bassinet that can be used for 0-6 months and a seat that can be used from 6 months until approximately 3 years.
  • Most car seats are compatible with the Cameleon and can easily be clipped on to the stroller frame, making it easy to move baby from the car to the stroller without having to disturb sleep.
  • The handle can be adjusted to fit the height of the person pushing it.
  • The handle can also be moved back and forth making it easy to push the stroller up to a table if you don’t have a high chair for example, or if you would like to have the big wheels in the front when you’re at the beach or on a hike.
  • I love that I can pick up the seat and turn it around to either face me or have it’s back towards me. (This is great when you have a fussy child who would rather see the world)

CONS

  • The undercarriage can be a little hard to get to when the seat is in the upright position. It comes with a drawstring covered top so your belongings can be hidden away, sometimes that’s useful (like if it’s raining), but sometimes it can be a little annoying.
  • Unlike some other strollers on the market, the foot rest can not be moved up, so baby’s feet are always dangling unless the whole seat is in the recline position.
  • The Cameleon 3 does not make the best travel stroller since it’s pretty big even when folded and placed in its travel bag.
  • Finally, it is considered to be one of the more expensive strollers on the market. It’s extremely high quality and will last for years and years to be used to with multiple pregnancies. It also has a pretty high resale value and can be sold for close to 50% of it’s retail price even years later.

BABYZEN YOYO+

There’s a reason this is one of the best travel strollers on the market. Besides the fact that it looks stylish and glides so easily when you push it with one hand, it also only weighs 13 lbs making it easy to carry around. Since we had the Bugaboo I was convinced I wound never need another stroller, but when we decided to go traveling around Asia for a few months, I started to look at lightweight travel stroller options. Never did I plan on owning a Yoyo+ since we already had one pretty pricey stroller. (A yoyo+ costs around $500 USD!). I was pretty lucky when my cousin called and told me that she had just been to the second hand store in town and saw that they had one of these guys for sale. I then of course headed over to see it as soon as I could and boy was I happy I did! I ended up buying it for $50! I was really lucky with the price since the people selling it had no idea how much it originally cost. A few bucks later and we had a brand new fabric set too. Let’s just say I still talk about it as being the deal of the century haha!

PROS

  • The Yoyo+ can be used from 0-6 months in the flat nest and from 6 months to around 40 lbs (4-5 year old) in the upright position. The same frame can accommodate both positions.
  • This stroller feels like silk and can easily be pushed one handed while the other hand pulls a suitcase or holds a coffee.
  • The seat it fairly easy to recline and although doesn’t go flat, it is still goes back at enough of a recline for nap time.
  • It’s claim to fame is it’s ease of opening and closing. It’s actually unbelievable that it can be opened and closed with just one had. (Click here –> I had to see this to believe it!)
  • This stroller can fit in a backpack (sold separately) that can be carried on your back, which is really perfect when traveling.
  • The hood is SPF 50 which is great for traveling and also has a peek through window up top to spy on sleeping baby.
  • There’s a big zippered pocked under the handle for storing diapers and wipes or a phone and wallet for quick trips (this is so practical!)

CONS

  • The handlebar isn’t adjustable so that may be an issue if you’re very tall or very short.
  • It is one of the most (if not the most) expensive travel strollers on the market.
  • The undercarriage is quite small and doesn’t fit much.
  • Since the stroller is so lightweight, it makes it difficult to hand a diaper bag on the handle without being afraid the stroller will fall over.

MAXI COSI MICO CAR SEAT

We love our Maxi Cosi Mico car seat. A really good friend gifted it to us when Zayd was born and boy are we grateful for that. We initially didn’t think we needed to get a car seat because Zayd was born in downtown Toronto and we don’t have a car. Also, the birth center where he was born had car seats for rent. After lots of discussions with friends I have who already have kids, I was convinced we’d be happier with one. It just makes life a little easier if we needed to take a cab somewhere or for when we traveled. A lot of the time we actually would go out for walks with the car seat attached to our Bugaboo instead of the bassinet. I liked letting Zayd sit up right and see the world sometimes. He did too!

PROS

  • The Maxi Cosi attached to our Bugaboo pretty easily with the extra attachment clips (sold separately)
  • It’s very lightweight at only about 9 lbs. This makes it very easy to move from the car to the stroller base and to travel with.
  • The entire fabric set comes off and can be washed in the washing machine. (Perfect when you have accidents)
  • It comes with an extra head support pillow for newborns.

CONS

  • It can be used for around a year (5 lbs to 22 lbs) which may not be the best option for a family who does little traveling and doesn’t want to invest in more than one car seat.
  • The sun shade could be a little bigger but I used a car seat cover for when we were out and it worked fine.
  • The base is sold separately and although you don’t really need to purchase it (you can strap the car seat into any car using a regular seat belt), it does make it a lot easier and saves time to just snap it in a clip it out when using the base.

LILLEBABY COMPLETE ALL SEASONS CARRIER

This is hands down the best carrier on the market! I’ve been using it for 16 months now and I feel like it’s growing beautifully with Zayd. We’ve literally been using it since the first week of his life. I don’t know how we would have survived without it. It’s been all around the world with us. We used it in really hot climates with the mesh exposed and in really cold winters with the mesh area zipped up for more warmth. I’ve worn it and Waseem has worn it. It’s just the best. Zayd even loves it and will see either of us putting it on and come right towards us because he knows he’ll be going for a walk.

PROS

  • Can be worn with a baby from 7lbs to 45 lbs
  • We love the fact that baby can be in this carrier from birth and that you don’t need to purchase and infant insert to use it with a newborn.
  • The main reason we were interested in this carrier is because there is a flap on the front of it that can be rolled down exposing a mesh window for hotter climates. The window can also be closed up for colder weather.
  • It’s great that there are six different positions you can put baby in with the Lillebaby all seasons. We loved having Zayd on our back for nap time while we were out exploring on our trips.
  • This has to be one of the most comfortable carriers our there. It comes with a lumbar support piece that really counters the weight on the baby on your front. Zayd now weighs about 22 lbs and I can comfortably wear him for a little over an hour before getting tired.
  • The straps can be worn like a backpack and also crisscrossed for someone more petite or to make it easier to nurse while baby wearing.
  • The torso is extra tall for bigger babies (or toddlers) and provides extra neck and back support that can be snapped up or down.
  • The seat area can be changed to wide for facing Mom or narrow for facing out. This makes carrying baby way more comfortable.
  • One of the best things about this carrier is that you can use it with baby front facing. This was a priority for us since we knew we would be doing a lot of traveling and we wanted to make sure we had the option of Zayd seeing the world. You’d be surprised how many carriers don’t have this as an option.
  • Can you tell I could go on and on?
  • One more thing! There are soooo many different design options for this carrier I will say picking out your favorite is definitely the hardest part!

CONS

  • It’s a little bit bulky if you want to travel with it. I wish it came with a travel case or a way to wrap it up to make it more compact.
  • We really have used it like crazy so some of the stitching has come undone and I had to sew it up myself (so it doesn’t look the best) but I will actually say that this may just be because we traveled around Asia with it for 4 months and used it every single day (there are hardly any sidewalks in Bali and Vietnam so we didn’t use a stroller much)

BAMBOO MOBY WRAP

For as much as we love our Lillebaby Complete All Seasons carrier, we also have a very soft spot in our heart for our Moby wrap. This was another gift Zayd got when we was born and boy did we use it like crazy.

PROS

  • The bamboo fabric is just the softest we’ve ever felt.
  • Zayd loved sleeping in this carrier for hours when he was first born. It kept him close enough to my chest that he could hear my heartbeat and I think that really helped calm him.
  • I found the soft fabric carriers to be the best for using around the house to get things done while your newborn sleeps (bonus: it’s also a workout!).

CONS

  • It can take some time to figure out how to best wrap up baby but once you do it’s a piece of cake! (Check this video out for some help)
  • I found it hard to use while out of the house because I was always trying to make sure the fabric wasn’t falling on the floor as I was tying it up.
  • I found that Zayd and I only liked using this wrap until he was about 4 months old and then he got a bit too heavy and the fabric kept loosening while I was carrying him, which got a little annoying.
  • It’s pretty pricey at $45 and I don’t see getting one if you already have a structured carrier (because you can ultimately use them for much longer).

BABYBJORN BOUNCER

Something you want to keep in mind when you’re putting together a registry or making a list of what you need when baby arrives is a safe place for baby to hang out while you’re doing things around the house. It’s ideal to have a seat or a basket of some sort that you can move around the house with you. For us the BabyBjorn Bouncer did that job. This is a really simple seat that bounces when you push it or when baby kicks. Some people prefer battery or electric operated swings or seats that sway or rock but for us we wanted to find something that did a little less and was very compact.

PROS

  • The BabyBjorn Bouncer is very light and can easily be picked up and carried around the house with you. (or taken to Grandmas house!)
  • The seat has three different positions. Baby can be be seated upright, at an angle to rest and observe and in a sleep position. It can also be folded flat for easy storage.
  • The fabric is easily removed and machine washable.
  • You can buy an add on wooden toy that clips across baby to keep him entertained.

CONS

  •  It’s on the more expensive side costing about $200. It can however be used from newborn until the age of two by turning the fabric around and making a seat for older children. With that price tag, most people won’t opt to also add the clip on toy which is a shame cause Zayd really enjoyed it.
  • If you have a bigger baby, he may outgrow the bouncing position very quickly. Luckily Zayd is a little guy so he was able to use it for close to 9 months.

If you found this article useful you may want to check out my other posts titled 5 Best Baby Sleep Products or 8 Best Baby Travel Products.

5 Steps to Airbnb like a Pro

If you’ve never stayed at an Airbnb before and are feeling hesitant, here are our best tips to make booking that dream home just a little bit easier.

And if you’re still not sure Airbnb is for you, check out my Airbnb Addict post to become convinced!

(An Airbnb we stayed at in Seminyak, Bali)

Make an Airbnb account if you don’t already have one

This is the first step in wanting to stay at an Airbnb. You won’t be able to stay at a home without one. Setting up an account is pretty straight forward. You’ll need your basic information; name, email, password, birthday and a short paragraph about yourself. This paragraph is what hosts read when they’re trying to decide if they’re comfortable with you staying in their home. Make sure you write a detailed description about yourself and your family (if you have a family you travel with), being as personal as you can. The more you share, the better. If you’ve never used Airbnb before and have no reviews yet, your description is especially important.


Start your hunt for the perfect home

This is the fun part and why I love this company so much. So this is what I usually do when I’m planning a new trip. I’ll first decide if I want to stay in one or two homes while I’m traveling. Waseem and I don’t really ever travel for less than 10 days at a time to one place, and if we do, we will almost always split our trip down the middle so that we can stay in two homes on opposite sides of the city, so we feel like we got to see as much as we could on our trip. I will then zoom in on the area I’m interested in and open up a new tab with each home I find interesting.


(An Airbnb we stayed at in Mattituck, NY)

Send messages to hosts whose homes you’re considering 

I then narrow it down to 3 or 4 that I think are the most exciting to us and immediately send the host a message asking if their home is available for my dates (the calendars are sometimes off) to open up communication lines and buy us some time to decide where we want to stay. Then I’ll just wait to hear back from the hosts I messaged and compare and contrast all homes that are available and decide where we want to stay then. A big part of making our decision is reading the reviews the home has. If I’m torn between two places, the one with the better reviews always wins. Some homes also have “super hosts” (there will be a small medal near their name up top) and those are the ones we tend to lean towards.

I think sending messages to hosts before booking is a great way to ask any questions or give the host the opportunity to ask you anything they may want to know about you or your family, or what type of trip you’re taking for example. We recently traveled to Bali and while I was looking for an Airbnb for Waseem and I and our son Zayd, I wanted to know if the hosts had a baby cot for Zayd to sleep in so I asked them all in the messages I sent prior to booking. Just a good way to add an extra step to help with the choosing which home to stay at option.


Review every home you stay at

A tip I can’t stress the importance of enough is reviewing the homes you stay at even if you didn’t enjoy your stay. Airbnb works as a model because of reviews. The fact that you are able to learn more about a place by what others say about it is key to the type of experience you’ll have. When I’m looking at a potential home I want to stay at, reviews are everything. The pictures could be amazing, the location could be on point, the price could be out of this world, but if there are no reviews or none that excite me, I’ll immediately forget the place and move on. By the same token, if the pictures could be better and the location not the best and the price a little more than I want to spend but the reviews are really great and the host seems to really care about their guests, I’ll be more likely to keep it in the running.

What’s really awesome about writing reviews on Airbnb is that, you won’t be able to review a host until your stay is over. After your stay, the host is given a week to review you and you are given a week to review your host. What’s great is that neither of you will be able to read the others review if you don’t both write one! This entices you to write one even more!


(An Airbnb houseboat we stayed at in Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

Ask if it would be possible to get a discount (nicely)

Last but not least, always ask if you can get a price deduction. It doesn’t always work, but sometimes it does and it’s so so great when it does! A little treat to get you even more pumped for your new adventure!


If you’re still not sure Airbnb is for you, check out my Airbnb Addict post to become convinced!

Airbnb Addict

If you’re new to Airbnb be prepared to become addicted! In the past you were forced to stay in hotels when you traveled, and hotels can be great, if you’re going away for work that is. If you’re going away with family or a group of friends, there’s nothing more convenient and fun than being able to share a kitchen and a comfy living room couch together. Gone are the days where everyone gets their own room and has to call each other to coordinate what time to meet in the lobby!

Waseem and I used to stay in little boutique hotels when we traveled. The smaller the hotel the better in our opinion because we enjoyed feeling like actual people instead of just being numbers. When you stay at a small hotel you’re treated more like a friend or even family sometimes. Big hotels barely know you’re staying there. How many times did you walk into the lobby of the Marriott let’s say to use the bathroom and think, I wonder if anyone will notice I don’t have a room here haha (and of course that never happens)

 

(Airbnbs we stayed at in Long Island, NY – Achrafieh, Beirut and Bali, Indonesia)

Airbnb has been around since 2008 believe it or not. It took Waseem and I a few years to get comfortable with the idea (we stayed at our first Airbnb in 2014), but once we discovered how much we loved staying in someones home in a city we’d never visited before, we were hooked! Since our first apartment in Berlin, we’ve since stayed in places all over the world thanks to this amazing company! I believe Airbnb has given people the flexibility to see more of the world through the eyes of a local as well as offer lots more variety in the price you can pay per night while traveling.

 

(Airbnbs we stayed at in Canggu, Bali – Sanur, Bali and Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

One of the best parts of staying in an Airbnb is the fact that you can really find some unique homes to enjoy, which ultimately adds so much to your travel experience! You may not know this, but you will enjoy a city a lot more if you’re staying in a home that is loved and cared for, than if you were staying in a typical hotel room with a minibar and a bed. With the number of places to rent on Airbnb, it’s sometimes even hard to choose! It can take me weeks to decide where we want to spend our time, and we’ve almost always gone away and stayed in several homes in the same city just to be able to get a few nights in each!

Thanks to Airbnb we’ve stayed in several houseboats in Amsterdam, a tiny rooftop apartment in Beirut, a cozy little hideaway spot with a huge glass skylight in Berlin, an unbelievable house on a cliff overlooking the Indian ocean in Bali, a cute tiny renovated studio in Chicago, a very traditional apartment in Vietnam and a couple places high up in the high-rises of Dubai. It really is amazing!

 

(Airbnbs we stayed at in Nusa Dua, Bali – Amsterdam, The Netherlands and Long Island, NY)

If you’ve never stayed at an Airbnb before, we highly recommend giving it a try! And if you’re feeling intimidated by it, I’m more than happy to give you a hand finding the perfect place. Feel free to send me a DM on Instagram or a comment down below.


If you enjoyed this post and would like to know a bit more about why we decided to do a bunch of traveling as a family, click here.

8 Best Baby Travel Products

Since we’ve been doing lots of traveling since Zayd was born it was important to us to be able to travel as lite as possible. Here are some products that we found essential and very practical while on the move. Enjoy!

For a list of 5 of my favorite baby sleep products click here.

PHIL & TEDS TRAVEL COT

This is the perfect travel cot for anyone who wants the lightest most compact infant bed out there. Traveling is so much easier when you can pack up the baby’s bed and fit it into a suitcase as opposed to it being an extra piece of luggage like most cots on the market. We’ve been using this playpen since Zayd was 10 months old. It’s pretty long as well so you can use it for a good amount of time (Unless you’ve got a little basketball player!). You can also take this cot to the beach or use it outside at parks or in a backyard.  The company recently came out with a traveller bassinet accessory that would be really useful for smaller babies who need to be higher up and closer to you in bed.

PROS

  • This is one of the lightest travel cots at the market weighing less than your child at only 6 lbs!
  • It comes with a self inflating mattress that rolls up really compact which is very convenient. (We also like to add Zayds nest on top of it for some extra padding and comfort).
  • The sides which are made of mesh allowing for airflow, zip down in case you want to lay next to your child to nurse him or comfort him to sleep.CONS
  • It takes a few minutes to put together, but once you get the hang of it it’s not too bad (Waseem is officially a pro!).
  • I sometimes wish there was the option of having the mesh sides covered up so Zayd wouldn’t see us in bed next to him for example.

PHIL & TEDS LOBSTER HIGH CHAIR

The Phil & Teds lobster high chair is a great product. We have been using it ever since Zayd could sit up on his own and he’s absolutely loved sitting at the table with us ever since. While traveling in Asia we found that it was really hard to find restaurants that provide high chairs. This made it pretty inconvenient to go out to eat and made it hard for Mom and Baba to enjoy our meals running after Zayd the whole time. This chair was a life saver for us!

PROS

  • It fold down flat and comes with a convenient carry case, making it easy to take out to restaurants or Grandma and Grandpas house.
  • This chair can also be used at home as an everyday high chair since it clips right on to the table. Kids love sitting at the table with you during mealtime.

CONS

  • It is not machine washable, which we found to be extremely inconvenient. Our chair got so messy when we were away and we like to let Zayd feed himself, and even after trying to hand wash it I couldn’t get it as clean as I would have liked it. (Note: I eventually threw it in the washing machine (no dryer) and it came out spotless and as if it were brand new. Not sure why they don’t want you to put it in the machine but I will definitely be doing that from not on)
  • It comes with a plastic removable tray that we found to be kind of useless since you attach it after the chair is hooked on to the table. Zayd quickly figured out how to remove it and throw it on the floor and that was that.
  • The chair unfortunately doesn’t fit on all tables (only ones where the lip hangs out far enough and is wide enough for the chair). We sometimes had to check the tables at restaurants before we could eat there.

BABYZEN YOYO STROLLER

We love love love our babyzen yoyo and couldn’t have imagined doing the amount of travel we did without it! I was so lucky to find this  stroller at a second hand store being sold for a fraction of the price (they obviously didn’t know what it was worth!). We gave it a good scrub, purchased some new fabric for it and voila we had our brand new yoyo ready to take on our trip! (I don’t think we would have been able to afford one otherwise and I pride myself for finding it – well my cousin Nour was actually the one who pointed it out to me – and consider it one of the best deals I ever got!)

PROS

  • The babyzen yoyo’s most popular feature is the fact that it can fold down so small to fit in the overhead compartment of an airplane. This is a really awesome feature, and we’ve used it several times, my only issue is that airlines still haven’t received the memo that this stroller can be placed in the overhead and more than once we were asked to leave it at the door of the plane. Not anymore, we’ve since learned our lesson. We make sure to fold it up before we get to the gate (so the airline employees don’t even see we have it) and hide it in it’s carry bag. When the staff ask us if we have a stroller it’s a quick nope! haha Works every time!
  • A parent with his or her hands full can easily close or open this stroller with one hand! It’s actually pretty amazing. Almost like a magic trick!
  • The stroller had a big zippered pocket under the handle which is really convenient for phones, wallets, keys or even baby essentials if you don’t want to take a diaper bag out.

CONS

  • The sunshade unfortunately doesn’t go out far enough and I always feel like poor Zayd’s cooking in the sun.
  • We purchased the parasol thinking it would solve the short sunshade issue and actually decided that it’s actually one of their poorest accessories. I found that it’s really difficult to keep Zayd shaded with it. It can be attached to either side so I guess the idea is that you move it around based on where the sun is, but I found this to be extremely inconvenient especially if I’m walking down the street and he’s shaded and then I turn the corner and he’s in the sun again. I actually wish I looked up the reviews before I bought it. I later found that the reviews for the umbrella are pretty bad everywhere. It’s not cheap either!
  • We were lucky enough to buy the yoyo used but it definitely is one of the most expensive lightweight umbrella strollers out there. Not sure a lot of people would buy one as a second stroller but I’ve seen some people use it as their only stroller as it can can be used from birth with the bassinet attachment.

ELLA’S KITCHEN ORGANIC FOOD PACKS

This is the BEST baby food on the market hands down! It tastes delicious (Yes, I’ve tried almost all of them!) and uses only organic ingredients. They don’t put anything extra in the packs but wholesome goodness. Zayd loves any packet of food I give him from Ella’s Kitchen but will outwardly reject other brands we’ve tried.  We stocked up on these while in Jeddah and actually took around 30 of them with us to Asia. Lifesavers is an understatement!

PROS

  • All organic ingredients with no extra additives. This makes their products easy to feed to your little one with peace of mind knowing he’s not getting junk.
  • Ella’s kitchen has lots of options from packs of just fruit or veggies, to textured meal packs like beef stew and spaghetti with meat sauce to toddler granola bar like snacks.
  • They even make products for kiddies with special diets like gluten and lactose free and vegetarian. I imagine that’s got to be really awesome for parents who struggle feeding kids who can only eat certain things.

No cons except that these products might be a little hard to find since they are from the UK.


BUMKINS REUSABLE SNACK BAGS

These snack bags are really great. I love all the different colors and patterns they come in and the various sizes options. Perfect for small snacks like crackers or raisins and some sizes can even fit a sandwich. You can really use them for anything, even diapers, wipes or toys. What I love most about them is the material makes them easy to clean since they are machine washable as well as dishwasher safe! Needless to say, we used these in all our travels.


BUMKINS BIBS

Bumkins also makes the best bibs. They’re made out of the same material the snack bags are made out of so they can also be popped into the washing machine. They offer a few different sizes that can grow with your child. And of course the patterns and colors they use can’t be beat!


MUNCHKIN MIRACLE 360 SIPPY CUP

If you’re going to invest in one sippy cup to rule them all, this is the one! We only have one and we take it absolutely everywhere with us. Munchkin makes a bunch of different sizes and colors. They even make some with handles and some without.

PROS

  • The fact that there’s no spout and your child can drink from anywhere around the rim (simply tilt the cup and suck on the valves edge) supports dental health and is dentist recommended.
  • The cup automatically seals when the child stops drinking meaning no spills! (Except if your kid’s anything like Zayd and likes to let us know hes done with his drink by flinging his cup halfway across the room!)
  • Easy to clean in the dishwasher and easy for little hands to hold.

No cons, just lots of love for this great cup!


THINKBABY SUN BLOCK

Finally on the list is our favorite sunblock. We used this on Zayd as well as on ourselves. This is one of the safest, if not the safest, sunblocks on the market. It’s free of harmful chemicals found in most other sunblocks, is not tested on animals and won more awards than any other sun care line! It’s a little on the pricier side but is totally worth it in our opinion. We love that it comes in stick form as well, making it really easy to apply to Zayd’s face without a fuss. Oh, and it smells really great too!


Hope you enjoyed my favorite baby travel products. For a list of  5 of my favorite baby sleep products click here.

5 Best Baby Sleep Products

Check out my lists on 6 Best Postpartum Products and 7 Best Pregnancy Products if you find this list helpful.

 

THE COCOONABABY NEST

We used this great product from the day Zayd was born until he turned about 4 months old when he outgrew it and we transferred him into a nest instead. We were really fortunate to be able to borrow this product from cousin whose son also used it and loved it.

PROS

  • The Cocoonas ergonomic shape reassures baby and is made to emulate the womb promoting deep sleep, and also limits the effect of the (moro) “startle” reflex.
  • It is portable and can easily be moved from one room to the next keeping baby close, comfortable, safe and in sight.
  • The movable wedge under baby’s knees can be adjusted as he grows, and removed when baby no longer needs it. Also, the tummy band helps baby stay in an ideal position without impending his freedom of movement.

CONS

  • The Cocoona can only be used until baby can roll over or until about 4 months of age.
  • It’s on the higher end price-wise and will run you about $220 USD. A bit much for a product that will only be used for a few months. (If we weren’t able to borrow it, I don’t think I would have spent the money on it even though I think it really did help Zayd sleep like a baby)
  • It needs a special fitted sheet. It comes with one, but will cost another $40 USD for a second one! (and we all know that a second sheet is a must when you have a newborn)

LOVE BIRDS SEWING CO. BABYNEST

Baby nests are great, portable, familiar spaces that can be used at home or on the go. They are made to make baby feel comfortable and secure as if he were still in the womb, and simulate the coziness and warmth of a parents arms.

Unfortunately I didn’t purchase one of these beautiful nests when Zayd was born because I opted for a cheaper option that I found on Etsy. It did the job, (and we still use it day in and day out. We’ve traveled all around Asia with it too!) but the padding isn’t as thick as I would have liked it to be and the overall finishing just feels lacking.

PROS

  • These nests are absolutely beautifully made. In addition to the BabyNests they also offer WilderNests for families who enjoy being outdoors and need a heavier more durable cotton to take along on their adventures.
  • The nests come in three sizes, Baby Nest (birth to about 1 year), Toddler Nest (1 year to about 3 years) and a Toddler Plus Nest (2 years to about 8 years)
  • These nests are also considered to be on the expensive side but, they can last for years if you opt to get a nest that’s bigger than your child. I really think it’s worth the investment as it can be used a long time, is easily machine washable and is a great way to always have your child’s familiar sleeping place with you no matter where you are.
  • They also make a great canvas bag that can be used to transport the nest wherever you’ll be taking it!

CONS

  • There are people who can be concerned about their child sleeping in a nest and potentially rolling up against the edge at night and not being able to breathe. If this is a concern for you, this may not be the type of sleeping product you want to purchase. Or you may opt to buy one and use it for naps during the day when you can keep a close eye on your little one.
  • Because you can use a nest for years, it’s price can be justified more than if you were to purchase a cocoonababy nest for example.
  • If you choose to have your child sleep consistently in a nest as opposed to in bed with you, it may end up being a hassle for your family to always have the nest with you if you move around or do a lot of traveling.

ADEN + ANAIS SWADDLE

These are the best swaddles/blankets in my opinion. We swaddles Zayd for every nap or night time sleep from the day he was born until he was about 6 months old and started to pull his arms out and get loose. I definitely recommend swaddling baby to help them sleep and feel the security of being in the womb. Click here for a video on how to swaddle.

PROS

  • Swaddling can help calm babies, stop them from startling themselves with the “moro” reflex (when their arms shoot up and wake them) and make them sleep for longer stretches at a time.
  • Swaddling is one of the 5 S’s in Harvey Karps book “The Happiest Baby on the Block” that triggers the calming reflex. This is done by imitating the sensations of the womb. Check out this book. It will be one of the best books you read before or after you have your baby. To watch a short video summary on the book click here.
  • Swaddling reduces the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). It makes it hard for newborn babies to inadvertently cover their heads or face with bedding and decrease their ability to turn over on their stomachs, which have both been linked to higher rates of SIDS in newborns.

CONS


SKIP HOP NIGHTLIGHT & SOOTHER OWL

When Zayd was first born one of my biggest challenges while nursing and changing him in the middle of the night, was being able to see what I was doing without actually waking us both up.  After doing some research and trying to find ways to fix this issue, my sister got us this great nightlight owl. I initially used it for the dim night light but soon discovered the various white noise options and we were hooked! We only use one of the sounds (the heartbeat) but we have used it every night (and afternoon) since Zayd was a couple months old, and we still use it today!

PROS

  • The dimmable nightlight option emits a warm glow making it easy to see what you’re doing with baby in the middle of the night without waking you both up.
  • The baby soother plays eight gentle melodies including nature sounds.
  • There is a small adjustable lens at the top of the owl that projects a starry nightscape onto the wall or the ceiling to help calm your little one.

CONS

  • It’s a little big in size and since my family and I are big travelers, we probably would have opted for the smaller, more portable option.
  • The product is a little on the pricier side for a sound machine because it plugs into power. Skip hop does offer other soother/night light options that are more affordable, but they are mainly battery operated and portable (Find them here).
  • Some people may not find the idea of a sound machine to work well for their family and that is fine, however the night light option is still a very useful feature that I do recommend.

GROBAG SLEEPING BAG

Putting Zayd in a sleeping bag has worked out really well for us. I decided to look into this option after he stopped wanting to be swaddled. I noticed when I would cover him with a blanket he would soon turn over and the blanket would be at his feet. Using a sleeping bag has given us peace of mind knowing Zayd’s warm and cozy all night no matter what position he’s in. Grobag UK has some really great sleeping bag options, from Groswaddles for newborns to Grobags for babies and kids to Grorompers for toddlers.

PROS

  • Baby sleeping bags are designed to keep your baby warm and comfortable without needing additional bedding. This makes sure your baby wont kick their bedding off at night and wake up cold.
  • A sleeping bag is a safer sleep environment since there are no loose sheets or blankets for baby to suffocate underneath.
  • By putting your baby in a sleeping bag to sleep, he will quickly develop a sleep association with the sleeping bag, meaning the bag will become a strong cue that it is time for sleep.

CONS

  • I can’t really think of any to be honest.

Check out my lists on 6 Best Postpartum Products and 8 Best Pregnancy Products if you found this list helpful.