5 Ways to Enjoy and Document Your Pregnancy

Pregnancy photo shoot

Pregnancy, especially your first pregnancy, is such an amazing time. To see your body transform can be shocking and exciting. You will want to remember how you looked, how you felt, and what you dreamed about your new little one on the way.

Before you begin your documentation project, think it through. That doesn’t take a long time. Just consider your goal.

  • Is what you are doing all about expression of the moment, or are you creating a keepsake? If you are just expressing yourself in the moment of all of that beautiful pregnancy energy, go for it! No limits.
  • If you are creating a keepsake, who will keep it? Is it for you or for your baby?

I don’t want to discourage you from documenting your pregnancy—not at all. I just want you to think now about how you you will use this later because that might help you create even better documentation while you still have a lot of choices.

#1 Baby Bump Photos

Photos showing your physical transformation are The Classic pregnancy documentation. If you’ve ever seen a pregnancy board on Pinterest, you’ve probably seen a photo montage showing belly growth. I love these because they grab the visual person and tell them exactly what you want them to know—I’m growing!

HOW: Keep the background the same and mark where you stand so your body is the only thing that changes. Or, add a chalkboard, t-shirt or some other prop that changes with you to show the number of weeks. It is also fun to put your collection of photos together as a video.

#2 Professional Photo Shoot

Your family is about to change a lot, whether you are going from just you to parent and child, a couple to a three-person family, or a family with children to a family with another child. A professional photographer can capture the essence of who you are now just before your baby arrives on the scene.

HOW: Decide whether the photos will be of just you or of the whole family. Will they be in color or do you like striking black and white photos? Set your appointment before your 37th week of pregnancy. You want to show the biggest belly possible, but you don’t want to schedule so late that you miss your pregnancy altogether if the baby comes early. If that does happen, though, you now have a photo shoot with your new family. You make the best of it!

#3 Belly Cast

A belly cast is made by covering your belly with a layer of plastic wrap then dipping gauze in plaster and covering your belly (or belly and breasts) layer by layer to create a lasting, 3D keepsake of your shape. Once the plaster dries, you can paint your belly cast. I loved doing this with both of my babies, but now I wonder what to do with it. How will you use the cast? It will become more stuff you have to haul around with you.

HOW: As with the photo shoot, you want to document the biggest belly possible without missing your pregnancy entirely. Aim for 37-38 weeks. Depending whether you mind sharing your naked self with friends, this can be a fun project to do with a group of girlfriends, or just do this as a couple. It does help to have at least one other person present.

#4 Journal

First ask who you are writing for. If you are writing only for yourself, let it all pour out. If you are writing for your baby, at what age? What would your child want to know about the pregnancy? For example, I used to play footsie with my first baby. She would press her foot against the edge of my ribs, and I would touch back. Push, touch, push, touch. That play was so precious to me, and I love to tell her about it now. That kind of story could be appropriate for a child of any age. Another thing my kids remain interested in are the names I considered for each of them. For them, these are potential lives they didn’t live—lives that have names. They are fascinated by naming ideas, and you future children might be as well. It’s all about how much you want to share when, so keep your audience in mind when you write your pregnancy journal.

The Pregnancy Journal

HOW: A paper pregnancy journal is easy to use and easy to keep for the future. It’s also private. You might want to keep a public pregnancy journal as a blog or a microblog (like Tumblr). Decide who you are journalling for and choose the format that will reach your intended audience.

#5 Make a Recording

Recording your voice for your future child is another way to document the sensory experience of pregnancy. Your voice recording could be another way to create a journal, or you could make it different. Sing songs, record yourself reading a (soon-to-be) favorite story, or record an older sibling talking to the baby. My almost-three-year old made talking to the baby bump part of her nightly routine. She would tell the baby what she did that day. She would read (or recite) stories. She would talk about what fun they would have once the baby was born. I didn’t record that; now, I wish I had.

HOW: Most phones can record voice, but remember to download and backup your recording so it isn’t one of those bits of data forgotten when you switch phones. Do a test in different rooms to find the best quality. For example, a bedroom will probably absorb sound while an office might echo. You could make these recordings video rather than just audio.

Document your pregnancy. This is such a time between times, a time of great energy. Don’t get so caught up in the documentation, though, that you miss the experience of every moment. Have fun, and ride that wave.

Image ©  | Dreamstime.com

Celebrating His First Father’s Day

Father kissing baby

If your first baby was born within the past year, this Father’s Day will be special for the baby’s father. Becoming a father, becoming a parent, is one of those profound transformations we don’t necessarily realize we’re about to go through until the process is underway.

I’m not usually big on celebrating holidays like this, but I think there are ways to make Father’s Day and Mother’s Day special without giving in to the push to buy stuff. I also think it is important to take a moment or a day—any day you choose, really—to call attention to the transformation of becoming a father.

One of the reasons I don’t like a holiday with perfunctory gifts is that I don’t want my children to put a lot of their energy into what is for them a big gift or a big project only to create something that is thrown away or forgotten. I want to value their gifts, so I want them to learn what receivers will value.

Your baby is too young to quite be aware for gift giving yet, but you can set family habits in motion now by thinking about what this first Father’s Day really means for him.

It’s Not Just about Him

Don’t just make Father’s Day about him, as you would on his birthday; make it about his fatherhood. Make it about his transformation or his relationship with your child. If you give him a gift, make it a gift that helps him build on this new relationship he has as a father.

Or, make it a gift that helps him remember where he is now. You’ve heard that the time goes quickly. I’ll still repeat it for you: the time you have with your child does go quickly. You will be surprised when you see years behind you, and so will he. Your gift could mark the beauty of now and become a keepsake.

Daddy & Baby Photos

Remember this fleeting moment. Take him and your baby to a professional studio to get Daddy and baby photos. Then, repeat this every year. It takes discipline, but they will both love it. They will both marvel at how time changed them as they look back on these photos.

Anticipating Projects

Is he an active guy who is always involved in projects? Find him a great book of projects he can do with kids: science experiments, electronics, building outdoors, gardening, or anything else he loves doing. Sure, the baby is too young to do these things now, but you can spark his imagination now and watch the ideas grow along with your child.

Parenting Handbook

Do you talk together about how you will raise your child? At bynature.ca we carry only a few parenting books that we really value. One of them is Between Parent and Child, a book that was originally published in 1969 by renowned psychologist Dr. Haim Ginott and has since been revised and updated by Dr. Alice Ginott, clinical psychologist and wife of the late Haim Ginott, and family relationship specialist Dr. H. Wallace Goddard.

Between Parent and Child

Through 5 million sold, this book changed the way parents communicated with their children. Dr. Ginott believed that parenting was a skill that could be learned. If you baby’s father is wondering how to discipline and communicate in a way that your child will learn trust and self-confidence, this book is a gift that will help him and the whole family.

Your Message to Him

Your baby is too young to send the message, but you can let him know that he is doing well. Tell him what you appreciate about his parenting. Make sure he feels supported in this transformation into Father. You could just tell him, or you could write him a letter.

Whatever you choose to do, mark Father’s Day by acknowledging the importance of this new role as Father. It’s a tough job, and it helps all of us to know that we are noticed and appreciated.

Image ©  | Dreamstime.com

Kids Birthday Parties

Kids birthday party with roses

Summer birthdays for kids can be so fun. We make an effort to keep the parties green, focusing on nature and the experience rather than the stuff. These are a few of the articles we’ve posted on eco birthdays and giving. We hope these help you plan a great birthday party for your little one.

Most of the posts on EcoBabySteps are written by NatureMom (Tamara, who owns bynature.ca) and AttachedMama (Lori, who writes EcoBabySteps). Both of us are figuring out the issues we write about. Both of us have had to find a balance between our desire to celebrate our children’s birthdays in a big way with a preference for natural and eco-friendly celebrations. Meaning, we had to find ways around the waste without birthday parties feeling like lectures in environmentalism.

These are two stories of actual parties each of us created for one of our children. Maybe seeing what we did will help you come up with ideas that fit your child and your family.

Our Eco Birthday Party
Eco birthday party table

When Nature Mom threw a birthday party for her daughter, she worked to lower impact for every aspect of the party. Here she shares the story of what she did and how she did it.

My Daughter’s Eco Super Hero Birthday Party
Gaia Girls elemental circle

On my daughter’s 11th birthday, she and her friends celebrated girl eco-super heroes. My daughter had a Gaia Girls themed birthday party. Gaia Girls is a girls adventure series in which four girls are each approached by Gaia, the living organism of the earth in the form of an otter, to help her. Each of the girls has power over one of the elements: air, fire, water, or earth. Gaia, as an otter, asks each girl to help her by using the elemental power she has. The author joined us by phone, and the girls at the party were treated to a chapter in one of the unpublished books in the series. This is the story of how I made that happen.

Planning the Party

Start with a plan. Will you invite friends or keep birthdays a family celebration. There is no wrong answer. We’ve done both.

Once my kids could talk (starting with the 2nd birthdays), I asked them what they wanted. I built themes around a buffalo, alligators, a little stone cottage, rock climbing, trains, and a lot of other ideas. Each of these became a homemade cake, and the party grew from that core idea.

Here are a few ideas we have posted on themes and core ideas for children’s birthday parties.

Creative Family Birthday Celebrations
Family birthday celebration

Holidays and birthdays are opportunities to celebrate the familiar—the family-ar, as in, those ideas and those people who are so close to us that they are part of our intimate circle. For a lot of us who are focused on attachment parenting, those intimate family relationships are the core of our motivation for all of these choices. We are creating our children’s reality. We are setting a pattern for what our children will celebrate as familiar.

8 Fun and Free Places to Hold a Birthday Party
Kids meeting a horse

Cut down on children’s birthday party expenses by finding a place to hold that party that doesn’t charge an entrance or event fee. New places may suggest fun themes and activities beyond the usual party games. Even if you do the usual games and cake, going to a new and exciting place can be an adventure that makes the party memorable.

1st Birthday Themes for Babies
Baby's first birthday

Babies have a lot going on around the time of their first birthdays. Many speak their first words and take their first steps near their birthdays. They are busy! A birthday party will be a new experience. Frankly, first birthday parties are more ABOUT the baby than for the baby. To have the best chance that your baby will actually enjoy the party, keep it short and simple.

Toddler Birthday Party Ideas
Toddler birthday party

Toddlers are ready to have a good time. Even those children who would rather sit on their mothers’ laps during a party will often have a good time observing the fun from that safe spot. The secret to a successful birthday party for toddlers is flexibility. Have a plan B and plan C to accommodate the ever changing moods of your little guests.

Birthday Party Themes for the Imaginative Young Child
Child pirate

Between the ages of 5 and 8 years old, children are immersed in imaginative play. They love dress up, and they don’t look for direction from adults in creating their characters. A birthday party for young children should take full advantage of this phase. Give the children plenty of chance to be the characters, to tell the story, and to make up the party as they go.

Older Children Provide Their Own Birthday Party Ideas
Children rock climbing wall

As children get older, between 9 and 12 years old, I have found they want birthday parties about their interests, whether those interests are friends or activities. You may not need to think through a focused birthday party theme or a predictable structure like you did when your children were younger.

Birthday Party Workshops for Teens
Teen doing aerial dance

By the time your child is a teenager, the cute themes are over. (So, take advantage and enjoy it while they are little!) If you have used your own child’s interests to give shape to parties every year, that will make it even easier to do the same for teens. For a birthday party that engages teens, start with your child’s passion.

Birthday Gifts

Do your kids anticipate birthday gifts? I start hearing plans and requests for birthday gifts at least 6 months in advance. We tend to save big gifts, like a bike or skates or a musical instrument, for holidays. This year my teenage son wanted a suit! As long as I listen closely, I can usually find a way to give them something they hoped for as well as adding a twist that surprises and delights them.

We try to de-emphasize stuff, though. The biggest gift in our family is for everyone to take the day off of work or school or any other obligations and do what the birthday person wants to do. This often involves movies and ice cream, but sometimes we go for day trips and hikes. Whatever they request, we do our best to make it happen. Birthdays are dreams-come-true days for us.

Reusable Gift Wrap
Reusable birthday gift wrap

We my family started showing up at holidays and birthdays with gifts in cloth bags, it didn’t take long to convince our extended family that this was a great idea. This is a holiday post, but I find it relevant for birthdays as well. This is how we manage not to use only reusable wrapping for gifts.

10 Ways to Give without Stuff
Teen knitting wool scarves

This is another holiday post, but I thought you might find the giving ideas helpful for birthdays. I interviewed my daughter for the post, as I do for a lot of posts. These ideas were based on her ideas and our brainstorms.

My Rules of the Eco-friendly Loot Bag
Girl with a birthday party bag

Has your child ever come home from a birthday party with a bag of candy and throwaway plastic toys? Is there really anyone who can say “No!” to that? I’ve even seen myself give out party gifts that make me groan and feel more determined than ever to improve the loot bag with each passing year. Every time I throw a children’s party, I manage to get a little closer to the ideal of a low-impact loot bag. These are my evolving rules of the eco-friendly kids’ party bag.

Allergy-free Birthday Cakes
Baby with a birthday cake

For both of my children, their first birthday cakes were their first solid foods. That means all at once they covered their faces with milk, eggs, wheat, and other potential food allergens. A lot of us take the chance that our baby won’t have a reaction or sensitivity to birthday cake even if we are careful introducing new foods slowly otherwise. If you are introducing your baby to new foods at a birthday party, at least simplify the birthday cake recipe to reduce the number of potential food allergens.

Reusable Birthday Party Supplies

Parties can generate a lot of garbage. If you want to avoid that, you can move toward reusable supplies like cups and plates as well as decorations like garlands and hats.

You will find a lot of reusable party supplies in the bynature.ca store in our Green Celebrations department: candles, decorations, games, and a few great gifts for a green loot bag.

Waldorf Birthday Rings
Wooden birthday ring

Have you seen Waldorf birthday rings and wondered how they work? I explain this beautiful family tradition to help you get started. Then, year after year you will spiral back around as you focus on your birthday child.

Party Hats
Reusable birthday party hat

Where did the tradition of party hats come from? I did a little research.

Happy birthday to all the children of summer! Drop in to bynature.ca and ask how we can help you green your birthday parties this year.

Image ©  | Dreamstime.com

The Latest Baby Swim Gear

Bummis baby swim gear

Heading to the beach? Every year, we comb through the latest baby swim gear to choose the best environmental and social choices for hip swimming babies.

Because babies need more sun protection than older children and adults, and because most babies still need diapers, we need to treat them a bit differently than the rest of the family. Babies need sun hats and swim diapers. For extended periods in the sun, some parents find it easier to use swim shirts and sun suits for complete coverage.

Baby Sun Hats

Sun hats offer better coverage than sunscreen for the skin that is most often in the sun when you go to the beach with baby. This year we have four different sun hats in stock.

Solid Color Adjustable Sun Hats

Adjustable sun protection hats

  • Wide brim
  • Lightweight and crushable
  • Adjustable elastic around head
  • Solid colors
  • Nylon
  • SFP 50+
  • Made in Canada

Swim Baby Reversible Hats

Reversible baby sun hat

 

  • Lightweight and crushable
  • Reversible
  • Ties for windy days
  • Solid one side, print other side
  • Lightweight nylon
  • UPF 30+

Reversible Sun Protection Hat

Sun protection hats for baby

  • Lightweight and crushable
  • Reversible
  • Adjustable with hook & loop
  • Prints or solid
  • Lightweight polyester
  • SPF 50+

Bummis Swimmi Sun Caps

Bummis sun cap for baby

  • Wide brim in Floppy (one-piece) or Flap (baseball cap) styles
  • Long back to protect the neck
  • Lightweight and crushable
  • Prints match Swimmi Swim Diapers
  • SPF 50+
  • Materials sourced in North America
  • Made in Canada

Reusable Baby Swim Diapers

Swim diapers aren’t a substitute for an absorbent diaper, but they are designed to keep a baby’s mess out of the pool if an accident happens. Many swim diapers come with matching sun gear, like the sun hats above and the sun shirts below.

Mother-ease Swim Diaper

Mother-ease Swim Diaper

  • Stretchy swimsuit material
  • Adjustable snaps
  • Mesh inner layer catches poop
  • Wear alone or under swimsuit
  • Solid color or print
  • Made in Canada

AppleCheeks Swim Diaper

Apple Cheeks swim diaper

  • Fine knit outside
  • Adjustable snaps
  • Polyester mesh layer inside
  • Solid colors
  • Made in Canada

Bummis Swimmi Swim Diaper

Bummis Swimmi swim diaper

  • Our favorite! Perfection in a swim diaper
  • Cotton laminate layer outside
  • Mesh layer inside
  • Adjustable hook & loop
  • Prints
  • Matching sun hats and co-ordinated swim shirts
  • Made in Canada

Sun Shirts & Sun Suits

When you want more coverage without slathering on the sunscreen, a swim shirt, tankini, or a whole body sun suit will give your baby consistent protection that doesn’t wash or wear off while they play in the sun.

Bummis Swimmi Tankini Swim Suit Top

Bummis Swimmi Tankini

  • Pictured on baby at top of post
  • Made with durable, swimsuit-quality Supplex
  • Adjustable halter top
  • Coordinates with Swimmi sun hats & swim diapers
  • Made in Canada

Bummis Swimmi UV-Tee Swim Shirt

Bummis Swimmi UVT Swim Shirt

  • Made with durable, swimsuit-quality Supplex
  • Coordinates with Swimmi sun hats & swim diapers
  • UPF 30
  • Made in Canada

NoZone Sun Protection Suit

Baby Sun Suit

  • Protection of body, upper arms, and upper legs
  • 100% polyester quick-drying material
  • Flat seams for comfort
  • UPF 50+
  • Made in Canada

Drop by our store to talk to us about your needs, and we will help you choose the best sun solution for your baby or child.

Next week, we’ll do our annual review of the best children’s sunscreens for this year. Check back before you buy!

5 Outdoor Fun Accessories to Keep Baby Safe & Organized

Beachfront Baby water wrap

As summer creeps up on us and the cottagers and campers start visiting our store, we have seen a lot of interest in sun and fun accessories for babies and children. These are our most popular outdoor items this year.

Rosk Sun Cover

Rosk sun cover for babiesWhen your baby is too young for sunscreen, under 6 months old, we have the perfect non-toxic solution: a lightweight cotton sun protection cover. The cover is versatile. Two sets of ties work with soft baby carrier, car seat, or stroller. Lab-tested to block 98% of UVA & UVB rays. Infant to four years. Made in China.

Water Resistant Outdoor Blankets

Make a soft, dry place to sit against damp grass, beach sand, or a dusty campsite. We have beach and park blankets in two styles this year.

Beach blanket

Water Resistant Blanket. The cool cotton striped top side of this outdoor blanket comes in two colors. Lightly padded for comfort. Rugged nylon backing.

Outdoor blanket easy carry

 

Attached carry handles and storage pockets make it easy to fold then keep both blanket and child in hand. Water resistant. Total space: 31 sq ft. Made responsibly in China

Waterproof Picnic Blanket

Spring Park Blanket. If you know it’s going to be really wet, even after a rainstorm, this 100% waterproof polyester fabric will keep your family dry. Folds into a carrying bag. Easy to clean, just wipe or machine wash. Available in two solid color combos. Waterproof. Total space: 23 sq ft. Made in Canada

JuJuBe Super Be Beach Bag

JuJuBe Super Be beach bag

When you are traveling with children, you need a lot of odds and ends. The best beach bag around is the JuJuBe Super Be. Generous size, lightweight, with inner and outer pockets that are easy to see into, and a zip top to keep everything from spilling out.

JuJuBe Beach Bag pockets

Choose from a range of patterns from subtle adult to wild beach style. Easy care by machine wash and air dry. 18″ x 15″ x 5.5″. Made responsibly in China

Non-toxic Sun Protection Suits

Kids Sun Protection Suit

If you are avoiding sunscreen, you don’t need to avoid the sun. This lightweight, stretchy sunsuit gives your child freedom to play in the sun without worry. Especially for children who are sensitive to sunscreen or who just wipe it off before it does its job. UPF rated to 50+, blocks 98% of harmful UV rays. (You will still need to use some sunscreen on arms, legs, and face.) Made in Canada

Beachfront Baby Water Wrap

Baby beach wrap baby carrier

What do you do about a slippery baby at the pool? Hold your baby tight with this stretchy, comfortable water baby carrier. Keep your hands free to play with older children while you wear your baby, even in the water. There is even just enough stretch to wash yourself and baby in the shower. Light, airy, and quick to dry. One size fits most. Water use to 30lbs; land use to 20lbs. Made in USA.

When you are heading to the beach, be sure to stop by to see all of the summer fun accessories we have for you at bynature.ca in Orillia, Ontario.