Year 1 with baby

Time to put photography aside for just one moment and chat a bit about something that had a major impact on our lives for the past 12 months (and forever to come).

We're in that period of our lives where we, and 90% of our friends, are becoming families. And when you are a family to be, you have to gear up.

Frédéric is a fan of gear, whatever the gear may be. Just like he does when it's time to buy a new camera, lens or software, he researched and read up on all the baby gear out there to find out exactly what we needed to survive. As for me, I wanted to avoid over-consumption and garbage production as much as possible. The bear essentials would suffice, and reusable, second-hand and long lasting were key factors.

After a year, here's a bit of what we've learnt and liked:

  1. Not everything can do double duty: I wanted to avoid buying 10 different chairs/swings/bouncers that all do the same thing but slightly differently. Couldn't there be one that did everything? Well, no, not really. Babies change so fast, and so do their (and our) needs. A swing is good when the baby is tiny and you want 30 minutes to work out, a bouncer is useful to bring in the bathroom while you shower, a seat with a tray is useful for trips (as a portable high chair) when baby gets older. Our favourite chair though: Babyjorn's Bouncer. So light and super portable!
  2. Cloth diapers make up their own universe: There are a gazillion models of cloth diapers out there. While I didn't test them all, I was very happy with Bummies Cloth Diaper Kit.  It had everything we needed in one box and it paid for itself within a few months. When Camille got bigger, we switched to bumGenius pocket diapers. We got these second hand from a friend and they are also great, although we have the Velcro model and I would recommend the push buttons, even if they are more expensive. Camille likes to take off her own diaper now so we have to rush to get her pants on before she removes it!
  3. Alternative to baby wipes: Ok, this is our number 1 most favourite thing. We were given a second-hand baby wipe warmer. I bought these at Canadian Tire, washed them (they become super soft after a wash), and soaked them in hot water and a teaspoon of almond oil. I keep them in the wipe warmer. We still use toilet paper or wipes when it's more messy, but 9 times out of 10, these are perfect, and cost next to nothing! Thrown in the wash with the diapers and they are good as new. We've also noticed that Camille doesn't get diaper rash with these wipes + cloth diapers.
  4. Best place to buy clothes: MiniTrade is a gold mine! It's a premium second hand online clothing store for babies, kids and now women. The quality of the clothes is exceptional and the system (buy second hand, send in your own clothes for credits) is the best. Get everything delivered to your door, anywhere in Canada.
  5. If you need help with your baby's sleeping, call Ayleen now! As many of our friends know, our first 8 months with Camille were intense. She would wake up about every two hours. In Belgium, she woke up every hour, for five weeks. Until we called Ayleen from ABC SleepyTime, Frédéric and I had not slept more than 3 straight hours. Ayleen is a nurse and sleep coach. She can help you wherever you are located since all consultations are done over the phone. We worked with Ayleen for about a month. She helped us build a schedule for Camille and slowly but surely, Camille's days and nights got organized and her mood improved immensely. When she wasn't sleeping well, she was grumpy and whined a lot. It was hard for us to have any quality family time since we were all exhausted and our lives revolved around getting her to sleep as much as we could. Now, she's a freaking angel! She smiles all the time and we're enjoying her so much. She goes down for naps without a peep and at night she sleeps a good 12 hours.
  6. Take pictures every day: I know this seems like shameless self promotion but not at all! Of course you should get professional photos whenever possible (wink!), but even with our cameras always near by, we have a ton of great iphone shots that we would have otherwise missed. Babies change so much so fast - whatever your camera, take pictures, capture these moments!

PS. We've discovered over the past year a wealth of makers and crafters in Quebec that produce some of the most unique and special baby and children's gifts. If you have someone special expecting or celebrating a birthday soon, here are some of our favourites: