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FAMILY LIVING with kids

Parenting Tips: How I Get My Baby to Sleep All Night

How to get my baby to sleep through the night?

My husband and I are the lucky parents of a loving baby that sleeps all night since he is 3-week old. We can’t take all the credits since Zack arrived from his 3-week hospital stay this way.

At four weeks, Zack made us understand that he didn’t want us to wake him anymore for feeding. His doctors said it was OK to let him guide us to what he needs. He drank plenty of milk during the day. He quickly moves to sleeping 6 hours, 7 hours, 8 hours and so on, without a bottle. He sleeps for 10 to 12 hours every night in his nursery since he is 3 or 4 months.

At a time where having a good night sleep is a luxury for most new parents, I felt truly blessed. So, I did some reading to make sure that my baby continues to sleep well. I learned that a few simple rules made it possible. For the ones who doubted that it applies to most babies, you should give a try to know if it works before you make a decision. I read that this method provides a high success rate.

Differencing Night and Day

The first rule for sleeping all night is that your baby must grasp the difference between night and day. Once your baby distingues nighttime, you can teach your baby that night is made for sleeping. It starts by lowering the lights and reducing the noises in the house near bedtime. The light and noise trick comes from the hospital. This is what they do at the NICU.

Short Bedtime Routine

We try to keep our bedtime routine short and simple. Ours used to take up to 45 minutes when he was a few weeks old. Now that he is 17 months old, it takes about 10 minutes. Zack understands it. In fact, he is looking forward to our bedtime ritual. Our babysitter reproduces the same ritual once a week with the same level of success than us. While my husband is prepping his last bootle feed, I change his diaper and put on his pyjama. We feed him in our living room before we move him to his room upstairs.

For about a year, we waited until he was asleep in our arms and then, gently put him in his crib. Sometimes after he reached one year old, we slowly moved away from waiting that he was completely asleep before leaving the room. Later, our son started to tell us that he did not want to be in our arms and that he prefers to go straight to his bed.

We currently feed him a bottle, brush his teeth, mommy quickly gives him a kiss and he goes straight to his crib. After putting my baby in his crib, we turn his pendant light off, we strategically place two OXO nightlights around his room and illuminate his ceiling with stars and a moon. We tell them the story about how the sun went down and the dark sky gets brighter. We only provide him with a dark sleeping environment at nighttime. We have a little play session with a plush toy or we sing him a few songs before we tell him good night. A baby can easily relate to these steps and understand what is coming next.

Everyone, including my baby, is happier since my baby falls asleep by himself, at naptime and at bedtime. I feel that you must do that step when your baby is ready for it.

Give Your Baby Time to Learn How to Sleep

Babies must learn how to stay asleep when they are transitioning from one sleep stage to another stage. This is one of the reasons why they cry. Waking them when they are transitioning from one sleep stage to the next only makes it harder for them to learn that most important skill when it comes to sleep. When this happened, your baby can still be asleep. Give your baby the few minutes he/she needs to make the transition. So wait a few minutes — my limit is 5 minutes —before you rush by the crib. It will be a lot easier to do this if you must get up in the middle of the night and walk to their nursery than if your baby sleeps next to your bed.

Comfort only when Needed

From what I read, the earliest a baby can learn how to sleep on his/her own, the easiest it will be to acquire the skill. I can bring comfort to my baby in my arms if he woke up in tears (arrived a lot when he does his teeth), but he will return to sleep in his crib after that. I often found that he only wants a fresh diaper. Like I said earlier, we quickly reached a point I didn’t need to feed him during the night.

Keep the Noise Down at Night

To further help your baby distingues between night and day, it is best that they sleep with no noises at night and that they can nap hearing your day activities.

What about Naptime?

To not confuse them, rely on a different routine at naptime. Your baby needs to know that we only expect a short sleep.This is why when he was younger, he slept in his room only at night. He napped in the crib of his playard in a corner of my living room during the day.

As he grows older, I tried several napping techniques.  To tell you the truth, I had more problems with establishing a regular naptime than sleeping at night. My boy used to fight me even when he was tired. For the past few months, we found a way that suits him. I tell my son that I will see him soon and that we will play after he sleeps. I often leave him with a book in his crib. He decided when to fall asleep; which is usually a few minutes after I left his room. One important visual cue remains: I partially close his blinds so he sees that their is still light outside.

I know that every parent and baby is different. My technique might not suit your parenting style. My goal is simply to provide food for thoughts. Any comments, any tips to add? How did you teach your infants to sleep at night?

FAMILY GAMES and Toys

Kim Loves: Permafrost Wooden Toys

permafrost wooden toys for the nordic identity exhibition

permafrost wooden toys for the nordic identity exhibition
photography by Johan Holmquist

These toys caught my eye the moment I spotted them at MoCo Loco. I love the shapes and how you can assemble the various elements of this industrial platform. The colours even matched my son’s bedroom. I wish that I could buy these superbly modern wooden toys for my little boy.

I also wish that they were more toys like these on the market. Young kids need to be surrounded with beautifully designed, eye-pleasing products. I strongly believe that good design should be a part of their education.

permafrost wooden toys

They are the contribution that Norwegian design studio Permafrost for the New Nordic – Architecture and Identity exhibition at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Danemark. The exhibition explores if they is still a Nordic identity today. Learn more about this fabulous project on Permafrost blog.

BABY care FAMILY

Baby Food: Essentiels to Make Your Own Baby Purees

baby food

baby food
photo of my son at 7 months after a meal

Introducing a baby to solids can be challenging for new moms. After trying several brands of store-bought vegetable purees, it became clear that if I wanted my son to develop appetite and to stimulate his taste buds, I must cook my own vegetable purees. It is fun and if you do in batch, it will not require a lot of your time.

Before I gave birth, I wanted one of these fancy baby food machines. Let me tell you that you don’t need one. I bought a Beaba Babycook, read the manual and return it. My method is simpler, uses what you already have in your kitchen and would not become useless 6 or 7 months later. Talking to a few moms convinced me that a baby food machine didn’t worth the trouble, the cash and the extra counter space. Instead, I upgraded my 20-year old immersion blender for a sturdy model with a chopper attachment with lid. I never looked back.

Batch Cooking and Freezing

If I was making mashed potato and carrot for our dinner, I doubled the recipe. I froze the rest in ice cube trays. I use standard ice cubes (because I had them), the trays from KidCo and the PLASTIS ice cube trays from IKEA. If you need to equip yourself, buy two standard size silicone trays — it is easier to remove the food from them — and a few PLASTIS trays. The smaller size of the PLASTIS trays is practical for adjusting how much food you serve to your baby.

Season the Baby Food

My goal was that Zack could easily transition to what we eat for dinner. I developed recipes that fit my cooking style. For me, that means seasoning the food. Right from the start, I use butter, olive oil, onions, freshly ground pepper, ginger, fennel, and herbs to provide an array of flavour to my baby.

The Basis of my Recipes

I boiled the  vegetables in a marguerite. I tried roasting in the stove one or twice without success. I cut the vegetables in small pieces to reduce the boiling time. Each puree includes two or three vegetables that complement each other in taste and texture. I cooked them together.

I experimented a lot. Don’t hesitate to look at what inside your fridge or on your counter before you start. One of my yummiest recipe was a batch of caramelized onions that I mixed with boiled carrots. For inspirations, I looked at soup recipes. The list of ingredients triggered delightful mixes that became my signature purees.

Zack adored these recipes:

  • Ginger flavoured sweet potato and zucchini puree. I added a small potato to absorb the water of the zucchini.
  • Ginger flavoured carrot and red onion puree.
  • Mashed cauliflower and potatoes with a touch of fennel.

Have you cook any tasty purees lately? What is your secret?

Zack now eats like us. No more purees for him; in his mind, he is a big boy. He looks forward to lunch and dinner. He eats by himself and likes everything, except for eggs that he never cared for. We will never know if making his purees played a role in that but I am sure that it didn’t hurt. I encourage any mother to make their own baby purees. All you need is your pots and pans, a handblender, good ingredients and a little bit of imagination.

 

FAMILY KIDS products

Sport Plates and Transportation Plates by Boguslaw Sliwinski

Sport Plates by Boguslaw Sliwinski

→ A Healthy Way for Kids to Play with Their Food

Sport Plates by Boguslaw Sliwinski
photography: Sport Plates by Boguslaw Sliwinski

With less than a month before the start of the London 2012 Summer Olympics, the six Sport Plates that drew and sell Polish designer Boguslaw Sliwinski seem to be ideal to share the spirit of the games at the table. Creating your scene with food is probably easier with his plates than cutting and assembling bento style food.

Transportation Plates by Boguslaw Sliwinski
photography: Transportation Plates by Boguslaw Sliwinski

My little boy would prefer his Transportation series since he enjoys playing with trucks lately. All 6 drawings illustrate one way to transport merchandises. What I like about Boguslaw Sliwinski’s drawings is that the kid can learn stuff at the same time. They can invent their own storyline.

Plus, the game is about eating. I am strict about how kids should behave at the table. My son doesn’t play at the table. I thought him that there is a time for eating and another for playing. Since he loves vegetables, we don’t need to stimulate his appetite. But he enjoys looking at his decorated plates and bowls.

If shipping these plates from Poland seems too cumbersome for you, maybe that you can recycle his idea with your own designs the next time you go to a painting ceramic studio with your kids.

+ via MoCo Loco

FAMILY KIDS rooms

Mood Board: From a Nursery to a Toddler Boy Room

mood board for a toddler boy bedroom

mood board for a toddler boy bedroom

My son will be 16 months old next week. I can’t believe how time flies. He becomes a little boy more and more every day. He started to show signs of independence. We went to dinner twice  last week at Bistro Japonais Furusato, our favorite friendly neighbourhood  Japanese restaurant. Zack savoured everything we gave him. I guess that it pays off that we ate there once or twice a week while I was pregnant.

The reason why I mentioned the growth of my son is that, soon, I will need to update the decor from a nursery to a toddler bedroom.

My Design Plan, So Far

I won’t start from scratch since I will reuse his crib bedding. We bought a convertible crib with a toddler rail for that reason. Therefore, I look for accessories that will go with his Owl crib set by Dwell Studio and his fir stand green walls (P5036-41 by Para Paints). His space monster wall decals will go away; my son already removed several characters anyway.

I wanted a theme than would grow with his interests. Zack currently likes trucks. I came up with city life. It provides me with many options and chances for reinterpretation. There will be elements of nature, buildings and transportation. The theme came to me when I started looking for a growth chart. I felt in love with Petit Collage fabric City Growth Chart. I already hung it on the wall. I like the subtle tension between the modern drawings of his conforter and the vintage vibe of the ABC poster transportation by Petit Collage.

I also want to add orange touches. He likes that color. I bought him this adorable Fox plush by a small Montreal brand called Velvet Moustache. Just by the way he hugged it, I know that I am on the right track. It is also important to not confine my choices to kids stuff. I might add the VILMIE RUTA Cushion because I like the mod African pattern.

I estimate that my boy will be ready to move to a toddler by this fall. This is when I will put everything together. I will continue to keep you posted on the development. I still need to find him drapes, small furniture and more accessories. In the meantime, you can revisit old posts about kid bedrooms.

Disclaimer: When I told them that I was working on a story for my son bedroom, Petit Collage nicely agreed to send me for free the fabric City Growth Chart and a framed ABC Transportation poster. I was not able to find the growth chart at a Canadian store. Thanks again, Petit Collage!

 

FAMILY KIDS rooms

Fun Boys and Girls Duvet Cover Sets

hiccups super hero bedding

hiccups super hero bedding

Young children usually ask for a themed bedroom decor. With the right dosage, you can give them what they want without looking like a kit. The key is to mix and match.

When I design a bedroom, I usually start by finding the main fabric. The duvet cover should be the star of any kids bedroom. The sheets play a supporting role. Go for a duvet cover pattern with several colours since it is easier to accessorize. I mix accessories from other brands or collections to create a unique look.

I discover Hiccups last week on a shopping trip to Simons in Montreal. The duvet covers by this Australian bedding makes it easy to decorate a bedroom because they are quite versatile. Their patterns feature the right dose of themed elements. I love what they do.

For a Little Boy’s Room

hiccups super hero bedding
I’m Super Bedding $95 CAD at Simons 

It was love at first sight when I saw the “I am Super” twin duvet cover. Every little boy dreams to have a super power or to be friend with a super hero. I like that the super hero characters move across a modern cityscape. There are so many colours in the fabric that you can put your twist on it.

For a Little Girl’s Room

Although Hiccups showcases these duvet covers with pink sheets, you are not limited to pink. Even if most little girls do, not every little girl dreams of a pink bedroom. These two patterns gives you options.

hiccups Little Red Riding Hood
Little Red Riding Hood bedding currently on sale at $69.95 CAD at Simons

For toddlers, I like the Little Red Riding Hood theme. Look for forest theme accessories to finish the look. You can go very natural if you prefer more subtle tones.

kas kids abbey magic elephants quilt cover set

From Kas Kids, another Australian bedding company, I love the Abbey Quilt Cover set. You can either go Indian style to enhance the magical elephants or highlight the modern geometric shapes.This means that you could keep the same duvet cover and simply update the accessories to get another look.

bicycle theme bedding

If you are looking for a bargain, this Bicycle in the City theme duvet set is on sale at $29.95 CAD at Simons.

FAMILY KIDS rooms

gleePEEPS collection by Polkaros

gleepeeps pouffes

gleepeeps pouffes

As soon as I laid my eyes on the totem made of gleePEEPS pouffes, I was hooked. I want the gleePEEPS pouffes and character bolster cushions to become my son’s friends. They could join him in his bedroom and be invited in my living room from time to time.

gleePEEPS are the creations of Singapore-born lifestyle product designer Ros Lee. She lives and works in Japan since 2005.

chapstick holder

Ros sells some of her creations at her online store, Polkaros. Another fun product that Ros made is her cute animal Chapstick holders. She offered free shipping worldwide! I only wish that they were clip-ons.

SOURCING:
+ photos: Works by Polkaros
+ Chapstick holder $15 USD at Polkaros

 

FAMILY KIDS party

My Son’s First Birthday Jungle Party (Part 2): The Food, the Cakes and the Party Favors

1st birthday snack food :: jungle theme

Click here to read part 1 of my son’s jungle theme birthday party.

1st birthday jungle themed snack table

I do not think that kids party are about food. For one thing, kids birthday parties are often scheduled in the middle of the afternoon and set to end before supper time. This is why I chose to serve healthy snacks for my son’s first birthday party. I went for food that the kids and their parents would equally enjoy.

1st birthday snack food :: jungle party

I also want to devise a menu that shared my party color palette. After contemplating several options, I opted for a fast and easy to make crowd-pleasing menu. I served crudités with a succulent dip, caprese salad on skewers, old cheddar grilled cheese, and as a testimony to my son’s play habit at the time, a tower of marbled cheese cubes.

Two DIY Decorating Projects for my Savoury & Sweet Table

The first project can hardly be called a project since it took two minutes from start to finish. But the raised platters is an important design element of my table. I made the raised platters by simply taping PAPAJA plant pots from IKEA to my collection of Thomas Paul Sea Life melamine plates. Double-sided tape works perfectly for this type of job. Make sure to check that the base of the pots is straight and that the plates sits well on them. I paired the dishes with some IKEA melamine bowls that I bought 2 summers ago — sadly for you, the bowls are no longer available. I was not lying when I told you that I used many items that I already owned for this party.

paint dripped utensils

My main DIY project are the paint-dipped utensils. I did it before dinner the night before. Although it works out, I should have started earlier. I will share what I learned by paint-dipping wood utensils in a future post. For now, let’s talk about two Montreal-based bakers that did an incredible job.

The Cake and Cupcakes

zack 1st birthday cake :: jungle theme

It was important to me to have the right cake for the occasion. I am glad that I bought the cakes at Les Glaceurs. I did not consider Les Glaceurs a contender until I saw the jungle animal cupcakes they did for a kids birthday party. Their style fits with mine. But I also want a cake, not just cupcakes. I inquired and they showed me their portfolio of nicely decorated 6 inches round, 3-layer cakes. I was sold!

The design of my son’s first birthday cake was a collaborative effort. I sent a photo of my party hats to their cake decorator in order for them to match the colors. I told her that I want an elephant on the top and circles on the side. I let them do their magic for the rest. I like the green grass at the bottom of the cake. The character of his first cake turned out to be cheerfully modern and playful, which was exactly what I was looking for. I also want to point out that working with Les Glaceurs was a breeze.

jungle theme cake and cupcakes

I imagined that it would be easier for my son to eat a cupcake. So I ordered one with a giraffe. Plus, I ordered vanilla cupcakes for the kids. It turned out that many moms ask for a cupcake instead of a piece of a cake. I bought cupcake toppers but I did not used them. At the end, I felt that it would have deter the attention from the cakes. I found another good reason to have a supply of cupcakes when a family had to leave before we blow the candle. They went home with two cupcakes for the kids.

The Party Favors

1st birthday crocodile cookie favors

A week before my son’s birthday party I received an email from Isabelle Quinn, the founder and head chef at Sweet Isabelle. I had planned to make goodies bag for the kids. Instead, I took this opportunity and asked her if she would supply me with her cute animal lollipop cookies. Isabelle said yes! I received (for free) an assortment of crocodile, monkey and elephant cookies that the kids were pleased to take home. They all love it!

Isabelle delivered it to me with a batch of mini cupcakes the night before. I got an extra cookie in order to taste it. Sweet Isabelle’s cupcakes are simply delicious. They were the first cake that my son ever ate — I wanted him to have a test run before the big day. Sweet Isabelle’s vanilla shortbread lollipop cookies are as delicious as they look.  The animal collection is always growing. I counted 37 animals at the moment.

If you live in Montreal, take note that she organize cookie decorating party at her shop. Isabelle told me that I should wait until my son is at least 3 years old to plan one.

SUPPLIERS:
+ Cake and cupcakes: Les Glaceurs
+ Animal cookies on a stick: Sweet Isabelle

 

FAMILY KIDS party

My Son’s First Birthday: The Making of a Jungle Party Theme

zack 1st birthday with Kim Vallee

zack 1st birthday with Kim Vallee

Last month, my little boy reached 1 year old. You can imagine that I wanted to celebrate it in style. I had a look at my party supply stack when came the time to select a party theme. I often buy party supplies online as extra items when I need to reach a limit to get free shipping. This time, my past purchases paid off. In fact, I mostly used items that I already owned to decorate the savoury and sweet table.

The Invite

my son's first birthday invitation card

The jumping point of my party decor was when I realized that the alphabet garland from Petit Collage shared the same color palette as my Meri Meri Birthday Party hats. To sweeten the deal, a tablecloth that I bought for my husband’s birthday a few years ago has the same color tones. I also keep a collection of tablecloths. Keeping a party supply reserve is not only handy for impromptu parties!

After I decided which tiles I would use for my son’s birthday wish garland, I designed the invite by first scanning two of the tiles. I converted them into balloons on the card. From that, it was clear that he was having a Jungle birthday party.

I keep everything in the same palette, even the snacks that I served. The party was from 2 to 5 PM. I opted for crowd-pleasing, simple food.

Entertaining the Kids

zack 1st birthday craft and play area

It was important to me that the kids feel welcome and have fun. Since I had a huge age gap between the youngest (my son) and the oldest kid, I planned for two main activities: a colouring/drawing station and a play area with toys. I opted for activities that would be safe for my son and the 2 years olds who were attending while keeping fun for everyone.

kid's castle built  in lego

The big hits were definitely drawing and constructing structures with his Mega Bloks collection. Towards the end of the party, the girls built him a castle with a huge entrance and a courtyard where Zack could sit.

For the activities, I only bought fingertip crayons (mostly for him), 2 packs of Crayola triangular crayons and a pack of thicker drawing paper. My splurge was a MAMMUT play table with a few stools and chairs at IKEA. I cannot stress enough how it is a great purchase. Even at his age, my son plays on it every day.

Blowing Out the Candle

I have a lot of fun memories of Zack’s first birthday. Next week, I will tell you about the food, the cakes and the party favor. In the meantime, I am leaving you with cute photos about eating his birthday cake.

zack 1st birthday cake with mom

zack 1st birthday eating the cake

Click here to read part 2 of my son’s jungle theme birthday party.

FAMILY KIDS rooms

Liberty of London Fabric Garlands Made in Quebec

les triplettes garlands

les triplettes garlands

This morning I had breakfast with Sophie Manessiez Guinet, the co-founder of minibulles.ca and Les Triplettes and the other panelists to prepare our e-Commerce and women panel at Webcom Montreal in May. On our way back, I walked home with Sophie. So we chatted on our current projects. This is where I learned about her new venture, Les Triplettes.

I wish to introduce their fabric garlands made with Liberty of London textile. Sophie is fond of these fabrics. The Liberty of London is a high quality cotton with delicate patterns. I usually buy my fabric garlands on Etsy but it is good to know that they are some produced in Quebec.

Available in 10 patterns, Les Triplettes garlands will cheer up any playroom.

SOURCING:
+ Les Triplettes Garland $36 at Minibulles.ca

FAMILY GAMES and Toys

Alphabet Animals, Farm to Table and Farm Buddies Kidz Box and Placemats

modern-twist farm buddies :: alphabet animals and farm to table placemats

modern-twist farm buddies :: alphabet animals and farm to table placemats

I am counting the months until my son could use those. I have been a fan of the Kidz Box since they were launched by Modern-Twist. They added new drawings that are better than ever for a young child. Alphabet Animals or Farm Buddies could be his first ones since he is familiar with the topics.

Overall, it is Farm to Table that won my heart because it teaches kids where their food comes from. You can either buy the placemats separately or a gift box that includes a set of markers. Grow your collection with time by simply buying more doodle-friendly Kidz placemats. Their  selection provides various styles to suit the kid’s taste, gender and age.

kidz placemats

Artistic, Practical and Eco-Friendly

You will not run out of paper when you eat at restaurant or visit a friend if you carry a couple with you. When the kid has finished colouring, take a picture of their art with your phone before you clean it with a wipe, a damp cloth or rinse. Kids can color the Kidz placemats as often as they want. As a parents, you feel good knowing that you save paper.

SOURCING:
+ Kidz Gift/Storage Box: Farm to Table + 6 Markers $26 USD at Modern-Twist
+ Kidz Placemats $14-$19 USD at Modern-Twist