Back to School Essentials

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My baby boy is starting kindergarten this fall. Cue the ugly tears. He’s only going to be 3.5 years old since he’s a December baby, but as much as it’s bittersweet watching him grow up so fast, I’m also really excited for him.

He’s a little social butterfly and wicked smart, so I think school is going to be good for him. And I wanted him to look forward to it, and be excited about going-so why not have fun with picking out some fun and cool things that are all his own to take along each day?

 

Mabel’s Labels

We went with the best of the best when it came to choosing labels for all of Ryker’s school things. Mabel’s Labels have been around since 2003 and were created by Canadian mom’s, which makes me love them even more. Not only are they dishwasher and microwave safe, but waterproof and completely customizable. We chose the rocket ships-but you can choose your own here.

 

Go Green Lunch Box

Most schools in our area are big on promoting a litter less lunch, which I think is an awesome idea, as it makes sense not only environmentally, but cost wise as well, when you eliminate constantly having to buy brown paper bags, plastic wrap and Ziplocs. Ryker is a big eater, and as much as we found other bento style, fun lunch boxes, the Go Green was the best choice for us. With each compartment individually sealed, I can throw in some of his favourite Rolling Meadows Dairy Greek Yogurt and not worry about it making his sandwich, or crackers and hummus soggy. Added bonus, it comes with a cute, insulated lunch bag that has a white board for messages, as well as an gel ice pack and stainless steel water bottle. Find them here.

 

Parkland Design and Manufacturing Backpack

I first came across Parkland backpacks at Indigo when Ryker was about 1.5 years old and I was looking for a backpack to use instead of a diaper bag. We bought a camo print one that held up great after two years of being drug around, that he still uses on sleepovers to the grandparents house or day trips. When this space obsessed kid saw the cool rocket ship print one while back to school shopping, we knew it was time for an upgrade. Not too big and not too small, with comfy, padded straps, they’re perfect for starting school.

 

Re-play Snack Containers

This little guys are awesome. They hold a substantial amount of munchies, and you’re able to stack them together to save on space in the knapsack. Made from recycled milk jugs that are BPA, BPS, PVC, lead, melamine,and phthalate free, and available in a variety of fun and bright colours, they’re durable and dishwasher safe. Find them here

 

Hope you all have a safe and happy new school year!

 

 

 

 

Peanut Butter and Jam Pancakes feat. Rolling Meadow Dairy

I’ve always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with dairy.

Growing up, I ate it with no problems on cereal, in recipes or a yummy bowl of yogurt or ice cream-to no ill effects. But I noticed as I got closer to puberty, I was becoming more sensitive to it with stomach upsets and unmentionable bathroom visits. So I began to just strategically avoid it as best as possible.

When R was born, I was unsuccessful with breastfeeding-so we ended up bottle feeding him. Very quickly we noticed he began showing obvious signs of a lactose sensitivity and made the choice to put him onto a lactose free formula-and had great success with it.

When he turned 1, we attempted cows milk to the discover the same lactose sensitivity he’d had as a newborn. Soy products made me nervous and we tried goat milk with some positive results, but ultimately ended up choosing to have him on nut milks as they were the easiest to come by and the most affordable.

While researching the best alternatives for R to have, I also unfortunately discovered the downside to the dairy industry. Cows kept in tiny stalls, fed processed feed, pumped with antibiotics and growth hormones (this is somewhat better controlled and monitored in Canada then in the US) and just living a miserable existence hooked up to pumps daily. It bothered me to find out that a food group so widely consumed was not being run very ethically.

We ended up deciding to just eliminate dairy entirely from our home.

R has never been a picky eater, and ate a wide variety of fruits and veggies and whole grains, yet we always struggled with his protein in take as he was not an avid meat eater and seemed to have a distaste for eggs.

Diving into the world of nutrition, it kept leading me back to dairy. There’s no doubt that dairy offers a growing body a lot nutrients like protein, calcium and vitamin A-and as much as we enjoyed trying the vegan lifestyle-I’m a huge believer in eating balanced and clean, as opposed to eliminating certain foods from your diet.

But the ethics behind the dairy industry still bothered me.

That’s when I came upon Rolling Meadows Dairy. A company made up of farmers from Southwestern Ontario, the milk is 100% Canadian and from happy, healthy cows that graze on pasture as long as our weather allows-and then are fed stored grasses throughout the winter.

Grass fed dairy is not only higher in Omega 3 (up to 300% compared to non grass fed), but also CLA (conjugated linoleic acid, a naturally occurring fat with numerous health benefits) and easier to digest. It is also milked from cows that live the way a cow should, grazing and munching on pasture for as long as the weather permits, and treated with nothing but love and respect.

Check out our yummy recipe below for peanut butter and jam pancakes featuring ingredients from Rolling Meadow Dairy.

Peanut Butter and Jam Pancakes (batter recipe courtesy of Tasty with our personality added to make it our own)

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2cup sliced strawberries

Mix milk, egg and peanut butter in a bowl and whisk until blended. Mix flour, baking powder and salt in separate bowl, then blend with peanut butter mixture-whisking until smooth. Ladle batter into a greased pan. Place strawberry slices into batter in pan. Flip and fry until cooked through. Top with maple syrup or topping of your choice and enjoy!

Zoocchini Organic Cotton Underwear 

I see London, I see France, I see super cute, organic cotton underpants.

Zoocchini, an awesome brand of children’s products, ranging from hats and backpacks, to wash cloths and underwear-really abide by their motto of being beautifully different. Promoting a love of animals, nature and colour, the company only uses materials that are BPA, phthalate and lead free and strictly work with manufacturers that abide by their same precise standards.

 

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Made with super soft, organic cotton, these boys boxer shorts are not only incredibly comfortable to wear, but also bright and whimsical-and easily help my 3 year old determine front from back with quirky little friends printed on the bum.

While sized a little generously, the fit is comfortable and loose and they’re easy for independent potty goers to pull on and off, while the elastic still maintains it’s shape.

If you’re looking for quality, fun products for your little one, I encourage you to visit Zoocchini’s official web site to find these adorable boxer shorts, and all the other amazing products they have to offer.

This post was my honest opinion in exchange for product.

Squeasy Gear

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This post is my honest opinion in exchange for product.

 

I hate plastics. I try to avoid them as often as I possibly can (although they seem to control the world), especially when buying products for my boys. So when searching for an easy-to-take-along, non plastic water bottle that wasn’t quite as costly as stainless steel or glass, I was delighted to discover the Squeasy Gear Snacker and Squeasy Gear Sport 100% food grade silicone squeeze bottles.

 

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These bottles are seriously the best. Not only are they fun to drink from because you can squeeze and squish them, but they’re also leak free, incredibly easy to clean with no small parts, and can be used for purees, apple sauce and yogurt as well-making them that much more versatile.

 

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The Squeasy Snacker is 6 ounces, and I’ve loved using it for quick snacks in the car or for after parkour class or trips to the beach. They’re quick and easy to fill with whichever squeezable snack you choose, and won’t soak up the water from melted ice in a cooler. These will be a staple for snacking while we’re camping this summer.

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The Squeasy Sport is 16 ounces, and we’ve absolutely loved using this one strictly for drinks, especially in the hot summer heat. It’s a must have for us to take along on any day trip as it holds a perfect amount of liquid for my older son, and because it’s fun to drink from really encourages him to drink a lot more water. The added bonus of it being silicone, is that when you do choose to put juice in them, the bottle won’t stain or absorb the smell.

 

Squeasy Gear bottles are now available in Canada at Wal Mart, or online at Squeasy Gear’s official web site.

GoumiKids

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This post was written with my 100% honest opinion in exchange for product.

 

 

Working in the children’s retail industry and in child care, I’ve seen a lot of different children’s clothing brands. Some are certainly cute, but the quality isn’t there. Some of it isn’t exactly my personal style but is functional and well made-and some of it, well, some is just plain ugly and cheap.

When I had my boys, I didn’t realize how much enjoyment I’d get out of dressing them in not only clothing I felt was top quality, but clothes that were cute and functional.

Enter Goumikids!

I was first introduced to Goumikids when I started working at my current job at a local baby boutique. A company started by two mom’s who were friends in high school, both on a mission to find scratch mittens for their wee little babes that would actually stay on, they created their Goumimitt. From there came their booties, hats, preemie mitts, Jamms and ‘Alls.

I fell in love with their super soft, bamboo and organic cotton Jamms for Oakley’s first outfit in the hospital. (pictured on him in photo above).

Not only did this classic style infant gown make those first diaper changes easier, but it was handy to have his teeny new toes kept warm, but also at easy access for when the nurses came around to unfortunately prick his heels for the required newborn screening. The other feature I loved about the Jamms was the built in Goumimitts ; with a high contrast pattern on one side, to help stimulate brain and eye development, and to keep his hands covered and germ free when being held by visiting family.

We’re excited to try the next stage up, in the Goumi ‘Alls-with pant legs that convert to toes-free for plenty of wiggle time, a super cute bum flap to make night time changes easier and the same built in mitts as the gown.

An added bonus to shopping with Goumikids, aside from all the bamboo softness-is they have a line called GoumiGiving-where 100% of the profits accumulated from purchases of that specific print, and 10% of their entire profits go to organizations against human trafficking, such as Solid Ground International.

If you want small, purposeful, organic and superior quality made baby essentials from a company that loves to give back, I strongly urge you to check out Goumikids.

 

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Oakley’s Birth Story

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I’m not one who believes in birth plans. I didn’t with the birth of my first son, Ryker, three and a half years ago, and I didn’t with Oakley. I didn’t want to get my mind set on having things go a certain way and then be frustrated or disappointed when they didn’t.

Child birth is not a predictable thing-at all. I learned that my first time. With Ryker, I was induced due to some minor issues with high blood pressure. Part of me was ok with being induced-it gave me the satisfaction of knowing when he was going to make his entrance-but part of me was somewhat disappointed I wasn’t going to experience natural labour. To keep the story short, the birth was quick; to the point that my husband almost missed it. On top of that, the nursing staff I had were somewhat cold and unsupportive, we had some scares with baby having low blood sugars and gagging on mucus, and a complete lack of breastfeeding support-among a few other things.

 

This time we chose to be under the care of the amazing Barrie Midwives. And what an amazing choice that was.

I was due on May 21-but after getting through the day without even experiencing anything birth related, I went to bed somewhat disappointed that I seemed to be ending up going overdue. Unlike my first pregnancy, this one was rough on me. I was sick through most of it, suffered through a lot of back pain and acid reflux, and was just exhausted. Being pregnant and caring for an incredibly active 3 year old was a lot different then being pregnant with your first.

 

The morning of May 22, after getting a much better sleep then I had in months, I was awoken around 7:20 am with some stinging, consistent, what I assumed to be cramps-as to be completely honest, felt like I simply had to use the facilities. I lay in bed for a few minutes, riding a few out and trying not to get my hopes up that they actually meant anything. Yet they seemed to be coming steadily every ten minutes. Hauling myself out of bed, I tried seeing if I was able to get any relief, but seeing as they still continued coming-I started feeling that little flutter of excitement that maybe something was finally happening.

With my husband Ryan and Ryker still sleeping, I tried to see if I could get some extra sleep too, but that wasn’t meant to be. Ryker, unfortunately, is a morning person like myself, and within five minutes of me lying back down, he was calling for me to come take the baby gate down from his bedroom door, because as he puts it “the sun is up on my clock, Mommy.” (darn you, Gro Clock). As I got up to get him started for the day-changing pull-ups to underwear and heading down the stairs to let our dogs into the backyard-I realized the cramps were still very much coming frequently.

 

Ryan followed down the stairs about ten minutes later, to find me leaning over the kitchen counter in the middle of prepping Ryker’s breakfast- as the contractions were slowly starting to intensify, but weren’t coming anymore frequent. He asked me if he should be going into work that day, or if I felt like this was the big event and that he should be staying home. I sent him to work. The contractions were strong, but between them I felt perfectly at ease, and I knew they weren’t coming close enough together to think that things were going to start happening soon.

Reluctantly, he left, after I promised him that after I finished with breakfast, Ryker and I would get packed up and head over to my parents home across town, and closer to the hospital-so that in the event that something was to happen, I was with someone and there was someone able to care for Ryker.

I arrived at my childhood home with Ryker and hospital bags in tow around 10:30 am, still experiencing contractions that were refusing to come any closer together. My mom distracted Ryker with activities to do, while I rested on the couch and tried to time the length and the frequency of the contractions. They had moved to being now eight minutes apart, and I called my midwife, who advised to call her when they began coming closer to five minutes apart.

 

We hung out, ate lunch, chatted. Around 12:45 pm my mom went to bring Ryker for a nap-and that’s when things changed-and quickly. My contractions went from being eight minutes apart, to having three intense ones within ten minutes. When my mom came back down, I told her I needed to call my midwife again cause something was happening. Getting a hold of Andy, my midwife, she knew right away from the sound of my voice-and told me to meet her at the hospital as soon as I could to be assessed. Ambling around, the pressure was there, but I managed to collect my things and leave Ryker’s things with my dad, get into my mom’s car, and get a hold of Ryan to tell him to start heading home because we were heading to the hospital.

Arriving at the hospital, we headed up to the birthing unit and I was given a temporary admittance as I met up with Andy, and my other midwife Amy, to be assessed. Things were calm and we chatted amongst ourselves as the midwives did their jobs. Much to my mine and my mom’s surprise, I was already fully dilated and baby was right there, ready to make his entrance-yet my water was still intact. Andy told me if they broke my water now, or my water decided to break on it’s own-baby was going to be here quite quickly. We chose to ride it out until they either broke on their own or to break them when Ryan arrived.

 

 

In the hour or so before Ryan was able to make it, my birth photographer Amy (who also did our Fresh 48 session) arrived, and the group of us women enjoyed each other’s company-laughing, chatting, pausing for contractions here and there. A smoothie for me, coffee and tea for others. Things were so light and fun that we had nurses commenting they didn’t believe I was fully dilated, as my mom, Amy and walked laps around the birthing unit hallways. Pausing for a few contractions, Ryan soon arrived and I waddled back to the room with him-ready to get things on the move.

Having come straight from his job site-and me forgetting his change of clothes in our vehicle at my parents home-Ryan was given the full doctor get up-minus the work boots of course. We were ready to go.

 

 

Andy wasn’t wrong, that once they broke my water-things began moving quickly. Trying several different positions, to try and get comfortable, I ultimately ended upon my back again, as my contractions began to slow down. My uterus was tiring out- and our little man wasn’t out yet. After a quick examination, it was discovered my waters hadn’t broken all the way, and after they were broken again, things began to progress again- for a short time.

As it turns out, baby was deciding to come out with his arm in a Superman pose beside his head-making it extra difficult to get him out. On top of now having a tired uterus again, with contractions quickly disappearing-the muscles in my right leg kept seizing and my hip was locking, causing extra pain on top of labour. I was exhausted, nauseous and felt defeated.

But with the encouragement and support of my amazing team, husband, and mother- after several more excruciating pushes- our little superhero entered the world at 6:21 pm.

 

Welcome to the world, Oakley Willem Jakob! We couldn’t imagine life without you!

A huge thank you goes out to our amazing team from the Barrie Midwives-don’t know where I would’ve been without you ladies. And to Amy from Amy D Photography-you’re a rare talent and a true pleasure to have around.

 

A Meeting of Brothers

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Boy crazy. My mom and dad always told me that’s what I was growing up. I liked boys-hanging out with them, crushing on them, bantering with them. I wasn’t a tom boy, per say-but I’ve never been super feminine or girly either.

 

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So, when we found out at our 20 week ultrasound that baby number two was going to be a boy, I wasn’t disappointed in the least. Not only was I going to be a mom again, but I officially got to claim the status of boy mama-and how awesome is that?!?

 

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We knew we wanted someone to capture the first moments our boys met each other, so we went on a hunt for a local photographer who did Fresh 48 sessions. On a referral from the wonderful talent, Lauren (see our post on her amazing photography with our maternity pictures), I met Amy for a juice date at RIPE, and knew immediately she was the one we needed to hire.

 

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Amy is a not only an incredibly talented photographer, but a genuine and kind soul, a person you really want to get to know-and a true joy to work with. She went above and beyond capturing these treasured moments for our family-and is someone we now consider a friend. (I also love the fact that she happens to be a boy mama herself. )

 

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If you live in the Barrie area and are looking for a true and genuine talent to capture your family’s moments, please check Amy D Photography out. You can find her on her website here. You will love her as much as we do, I promise.

 

 

My floral robe is courtesy of Pink Blush Maternity. A special thank you to Royal Victoria Hospital and the Barrie Midwives for the excellent care we received. All photos taken by Amy D Photography-and be sure to check back for Oakley’s Birth Story, featuring more stunning photography from Amy.

Maternity Pictures with Steel My Heart Photography

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Being pregnant isn’t always the most glamourous, attractive feeling in the world. Especially towards the end. You feel large, and uncomfortable, and tired…the list goes on. But when I was offered the chance to work with Lauren from Steel My Heart Photography after I saw the splendid job she did with my niece’s newborn photos, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

Not only did Lauren have amazing vision, but she made me feel like a beautiful, ethereal woman-a supermodel for the day-even when I can definitely say this pregnancy has definitely not made me feel that way.

Lauren was a delight to work with, open and accommodating (it was bitterly cold and windy the day we shot these and she made sure I was always toasty warm between takes) and just a sweet, kind, genuine person to get to know.

If you live in the Barrie area and you’d like to have some beautiful family memories captured, I highly suggest you contact Lauren through her web site here – I promise you’ll love the results as much as I did.

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Spelly Straws


Little loves his ABC’s-and he loves drinking from fun straws-so when I came across Spelly Straws-I knew he’d love them! 

These customizable drinking straws are not only super bright and colourful, but also really simple to put together and pull apart-making it a cinch for Little to practice spelling and sounding out whatever word or name he chooses-as often as he wants. 

We received the box of 44 pieces, which retails for $9 USD, and has more than enough pieces to help us get our Spelly fun started. They’re also available in boxes sized all the way up to 11,000 pieces for $1000 USD, which would be handy if you chose to use them as a fun add on to host a party or other event and wanted each guest to have their own straw. 

They’re wider mouth straws, making them comfortable to sip your beverage of choice from-as well as making them easy to clean by either hand washing or throwing them into your dishwasher. 

Check them out here on Kickstarter and add some bright, colourful, Spelly fun to your drink today! 

What I’m Packing in My Hospital Bag

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With about six weeks or less to go until baby boy number two is due to make his grand entrance-I figured it was about time that maybe I should have my hospital bag packed and ready-cause you never really know when baby will decide to come.

Considering this is my second, I learned the hard way the first time that I way over packed-but also forgot some things that this time I’m definitely going to be toting along.

I’ve broken the list down by two: my essentials for mama, and then what I packed for the baby.

Mama’s Bag

ErgoBaby Natural Curve Nursing Pillow- $94.99 CDN available at Bed Bath and Beyond , Toys R Us or Best Buy

I really liked this pillow due to the firmness of it, which interestingly enough, is a lot of reasons why others don’t. In my experience from working children’s retail, one of the biggest complaints I’ve heard from customers is that they found breastfeeding pillows to either be too bulky, or that it was soft and comfy at first, but eventually their elbows started sinking into it, causing them to have to prop up with additional pillows. The ErgoBaby pillow is smaller then most, making it more compact, plus, it’s designed to keep baby’s head above their belly, which can assist in proper digestion, resulting in a less gassy, happier little babe.

 

 

The Honest Company Organic Body Oil ($12.99 CDN),  Sweet Orange Vanilla Shampoo/Body Wash in Costco size ($19.99 for two pump bottles), and Lavender Mint Organic Lip Balm ($10.99 for three)-available at Well.ca, Chapters/Indigo, Serenity Birth Studio and Buy Buy Baby

I love The Honest Company products. They’re gentle, natural, and lightly scented, and with the hospital being dry and arid, there’s no question what company I’d choose to help keep my lips and skin moisturized during labour and afterwards.  Plus, their shampoo and body wash is gentle enough to use for your first shower after birth-and if requested-for the nurses to use when baby has his first bath.

 

A comfy robe, slipper socks, nursing bra and organic cotton nursing pads of your choosing.

I’d suggest wearing most of this after birth. Birth can be a messy experience, so unless you have a robe or other clothing that you don’t mind ruining with blood and other bodily fluids, stick with the hospital issued stuff until you get a chance to shower and get comfy after labour. Hospitals can range from being over heated, to cold, so you want to be prepared, but also have loose, cozy stuff to wear while bonding with your new little one in the hospital room-and to look cute for the inevitable visitors.

 

Substance by Matter Company Nipple Cream-$13.99 CDN available at well.ca  and Liam and Lauren Baby and extra absorbent, extra long maxi pads-brand of your choosing.

I did not want a lanolin based nipple cream. I know people rave about the moisturizing benefits and the fact that its safe for baby to ingest-but if you look further into it, it’s actually really gross. Lanolin is a wax like substance secreted from the glands of wool bearing animals. Lanolin has to be purified with chemicals for use for human consumption and can legally contain 40 ppm of pesticides, and sheep are often sprayed directly with pesticides to prevent mites and pests. Like I said, it’s just plain gross. Substance Nipple Cream contains no lanolin whatsoever and is made from calendula, marshmallow root, plantain, witch hazel, olive oil and grapeseed oil-right here in Canada.  And well, the maxi pads-I think we all know why we’ll need those after birth.

Baby’s Bag

 

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Packing for baby is a lot more simple.

 

The Honest Company newborn size diapers ($16.99 CDN) and a pack of wipes ($7.99 CDN)-but you can choose whichever brand you’d like.

Most hospitals won’t provide you with diapers and wipes for that fresh little butt, so be sure to make sure to bring your own. I’d suggest a few extra too, as baby will likely urinate frequently and their first poo, meconium, can be pretty messy and sticky.

 

GoumiKids Jamms in Blue Forest Friends Pyjamas-$39.99 CDN available at Well.ca and Baby Land

I chose these for baby’s hospital outfit/coming home outfit not only because the organic cotton/bamboo blend is so unbelievably soft, but also because GoumiKids has integrated scratch mitts right onto the sleeper, as well as a bottom foot pouch, to make those first diaper changes super easy and convenient, and to keep germs off baby’s hands.  This company also sells adorable scratch mittens, booties and tiny little caps made of the same delicious bamboo/organic cotton blend that I definitely recommend you check out.

 

PEPPA Tino Organic Bonding Doll- $24.99 CDN available at Liam and Lauren Baby, well.ca and Smashing Baby

I love these cute little bunnies for newborns and older children (my three year old has decided his brother’s bunny is now his, so we may have to purchase a second). Filled with 100% antibacterial wool, these dolls are designed to help comfort your little one with familiar scents. Mom and Dad or any other caregiver can sleep with it, or some mom’s deposit a few drops of breast milk onto it, and the wool holds the scent, helping to encourage the bonding process, as well as prevent separation anxiety and can be used to help promote independent sleep when baby is ready. They’re non toxic and with no extra fluff, so they’re perfectly safe for snuggles and the occasional chew. They make really great gifts too.

 

Black Herringbone Bamboo Muslin Swaddle Blanket- $17.99 CDN available at Toys R Us, and well.ca

Canadian made and super soft, Lulujo Swaddles are so cuddly and perfect for baby’s first swaddle at the hospital. You generally are provided with a standard hospital blanket for your babe, but I’d also suggest bringing one from home. They can be used as nursing covers, swaddles, or to bundle baby up on that first car ride home. They also come in handy for spit ups.

 

What were your favourite things or must have’s for your hospital bag?

 

Yellow tote bag featured is courtesy of my best friend Amanda and Thirty-One-you can find her at here if you’re interested in purchasing any awesome Thirty-One products.