When you are a stay-at-home mom like me, long weekends have no meaning really. I feel only the added stress of keeping up social appearances and finishing off long pending odd jobs around the house. This long weekend I did exactly that, I got my husband to mind #babyT while I took on the Herculean task of cleaning and organizing the baby wardrobe.
#BabyT is now 16 months old and his clothes have taken over almost an entire side of the wardrobe we have in the master bedroom. It started off with one shelf and now it stands at four, all full of his clothes – Tshirts, shorts, trousers, night suits, onesies, traditional Indian attire, and then some related accessories. He has over 30 pairs of socks. (Why?? Because he refuses to wear them when we are going out and I always forget to pack socks and then the mall/ restaurant is cold and we need to run and buy a bunch!)
Also I am not even counting the stuff he got as gifts which will probably fit him nicely on his fifth birthday. Lol. People really do underestimate how small babies are. And I have also added to this kitty by buying clothes online and with no standard sizing they are just waiting for him to grow up.
But the harsh reality hit when we were getting ready to go meet some of our friends and their new baby for an early dinner, and I realized that “#BabyT had nothing to wear.”(Yes he does take on after his mommy doesn’t he?) He did not have “nice, new” clothes. So I sat down to reorganize and actually separate the junk from the useful stuff. What I did get at the end of this exercise was constant muttering under my breath “This boy has way too many clothes for a baby and I am never buying anything else for him.”and the emergence of 2 sets of clothes – stuff that doesn’t fit anymore (yes this whole big bag of stuff pic below.) and stuff that fits but cannot be worn for outings because of food stains, stubborn marks leached from other clothing or fading and generally not nice.
A bag like this emerges every 3 months.
This got me thinking as to how much we actually spend on babyT’s clothes and how it is still never enough. The only solution was to actually buy more clothes. Yes, as ironic as it may sound, the fact that he had way too many clothes but not suitable ones meant we had to go buy some more. It ached my heart to know that I would be buying something worth Rs. 500 to Rs.1000+ a piece and he would only be wearing it for a short period, some maybe not even more than 2 – 3 times (Indian traditional attire.) I really wish there was someone out there who understood What Mothers Want – affordable quality clothing, so that we could really splurge and buy tons of clothes without feeling the pinch of the pocket and without the need to strip babies before they sit down to eat anything which is like 10 times in a day.
How do you mommies handle this? I am sure your babies too outgrew clothes really quickly. Leave aside the donating to other babies, how did you ensure baby always had a steady stream of affordable quality baby clothes? And how did you make sure you saved money at the same time? Where do you shop? Looking for ideas!
I don’t call myself a seasoned babywearer. I have found my comfort in certain types of carriers and some are a total fail (read: Wraps) for me. But that is the beauty of baby-wearing, it is capable of providing solutions for every person, to suit their needs, their babies and personal comfort, budgets and so on. Soft structured or full buckled carriers had found their place in my heart for their quick “wearability” and ease of use. I discovered Meh Dais by way of a travelling carrier program and we had a love-hate relationship with ring slings. I was in my happy place with baby-wearing.
Then one morning, I woke up and with half opened eyes, saw a message from Soul, asking if I would like to try one of their carriers and review it. Would I?? When Soul knocks at your door (or Facebook page) you only say YES! They wanted to send me a 100% Linen Full Buckle carrier and I quickly chose the colour I wanted and the very next afternoon it was in my hands. Wow. Blown over with their promptness and speed of response.
What I knew about Soulbefore they approached me was that they are an Indian company founded by Chinmayie Bhat and her husband. They make various types of high quality and efficient carriers and have a loyal base of customers spread across India and the world.
Every Soul carrier is designed, developed, hand-made, checked and shipped directly from the Soul Studio in Bangalore. (Source: soulslings.com)
What I did not know before my tryst with Soul began by way of this review was that they have an excellent team in place which is super responsive, efficient, friendly, understanding and helpful… I shall stop here for want of more adjectives because I do need to review a carrier here. But most importantly I think my view of Soul changed forever because I got to experience how wonderful the entire team is and how the values of Soul reflects in every single member of the team and the community they have managed to build by way of their baby carriers.
My Soul Full Buckle carrier arrived in a small cardboard box. I was amazed that a carrier (and a Soul snuggly) fit in this box. But it did. That is how slim and trim the carrier is when folded up. The carrier itself came inside a cloth bag with the Soul label on it. I love such cloth bags and have used them for many things around the house including to store vegetables in the fridge. The cardboard box too has been re-purposed to store #babyT’s books and toys. I think it is truly admirable that companies go the extra mile to avoid plastic and use reusable and eco-friendly materials to package their products.
From manufacturing to packing, we strive to maintain earth-friendly practices as much as we can. We now use only cloth bags and cardboard boxes for packaging right now avoiding plastic as much as we can. (Source: Soulslings.com)
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My first impressions about the 100% Linen Full Buckle carrier was that it was extremely light weight, the purple of the linen fabric had a beautiful shimmer to it, which I have never managed to capture well with my phone camera, but it is just gorgeous to see. The body panel is really, really thin and the buckles are smooth like butter. All the adjusters like the PFAs – Perfect Fit Adjustors, the back/chest strap and the waist belt, are gentle and yet sturdy.
I have used this carrier for well over three months now and it is like second skin for us. We have perfected the settings and know just where to tug and pull and fold to get the perfect fit and it all comes together in a matter of seconds. But I will admit here that when I began using the Linen Full Buckle carrier I was having some trouble getting off to a good start with it. But I learned soon enough that it was due to the legacy from the other brand full buckle carrier which I was using. Every baby carrier system has some unique features and it is only a matter of time before you find your comfort with the one you have in hand. If I can use an analogy – it is a bit like driving or riding a bike. You have the skill and have perfected it but when you are handed a new brand of bike, you need to spend a few minutes or a few rides to get a good hold of driving it. What did help me was the YouTube videos by Soul to get the perfect fit and you can view this here too.
It is a very comprehensive yet simple way to show how you can get a good fit and find comfort for yourself and baby when baby-wearing. What I did learn from this video was that it is important to “Tighten up” in order to get a snug fit which really helps baby become weightless and therefore effortless for you. <3
Getting a really snug fit helps make the baby feel weightless and baby-wearing effortless for you.
From a usage perspective I am bowled over by Soul’s 100% Linen Full Buckle carrier. It is light, breathable and perfect for Indian weather conditions. I got to use this in the unusually pleasant February in Mumbai this year to the furnacey heat of April & now May. Both #babyT and I are comfortable in it even when worn for long duration. Linen has me fully converted and I am impressed not only by how sturdy the fabric is but also how light and airy it is.
Many other baby carriers have a canvas inner to make them sturdy and that’s what make them so sweaty, clammy and generally painful to wear baby in. Our Soul Linen Full Buckle is only LINEN through and through and so you can imagine how delightfully pleasant it is. Add to this a soft waist-belt and shoulder straps which are only lightly padded means that they don’t dig in to your skin and leave sweaty patches which rub against your clothes and as a result irritate you. In fact I must admit when I put on the carrier for the first time ever I had my doubts as to how successfully I would be able to carry a growing toddler and if they would support his weight, but turns out they did the job mighty well.
Even my husband who is a reluctant baby-wearer because of how hot and clammy baby wearing can get was impressed by how the linen body panel weaves itself around the wearer’s body and how weightless the wearee feels. I have to wage wars now in order to win my chance at baby-wearing #babyT these days as daddy insists I find my freedom and leave the baby-wearing to him. 🙂 He also finds that the natural M position of baby legs when wearing comes more naturally in a linen carrier as the back panel is so thin and moulds itself well around baby’s body.
A deep seat and the natural M position of baby’s legs
And we love back carries in our Soul Linen Full Buckle. I started back carrying #babyT just before he turned one in my other brand full buckle carrier and in that first moment I was kicking myself for starting so late. Back carries are awesome, really awesome and so wonderful for both baby and you. It gives them a new perspective to the world and is truly, 100% hands free for you the baby-wearer.
Back carrying in our Soul Linen Full Buckle (mom hair, don’t care) 🙂
However it can be a bit difficult to back carry if you are not a seasoned baby-wearer or baby is not yet standing up and climbing on to your back. So always make sure you are on a surface which will protect baby in case of a slip or ensure you enlist the help of someone who can support baby while you get the back carry on. Do remember that back carrying may require slightly different adjustments of the PFAs and the shoulder straps etc. This is because baby’s body is more up close to your back as opposed to your front where your breasts and tummy come in between. 🙂 Also tying the waist straps slightly higher and thus getting a higher seat for baby is more comfortable for them and you don’t have the fear of them spilling out and off (although that doesn’t really happen in a full buckle carrier) Once again tightening up will help get a snug fit and mean more comfort for both of you. But trust me on this, once you have tasted back carry you will only want to back carry.
To summarise, what I really loved about the Soul 100% Linen Full Buckle carrier is:
Incredibly light and airy linen body panel
Contoured body panel to give a better fit for baby
Soft cushion at the thigh area for added comfort for babies
PFAs can be loosened to help discreet breastfeeding when baby is in the carrier
How tiny it is when folded up and so easy to carry on the go
Fits perfectly into my hand bag
The shimmer that the fabric has is truly gorgeous in person.
What I wish for: I am not a solids person. I love vibrant and floral patterns and prints. Can Linen be made in prints? Please Soul?
My ratings for Soul’s Linen Full Buckle carrier:
Ease of use: 5/5
After the initial hiccups, once we understood how to get a good fit we were really quick to get up and down in the carrier.
I love all the colours that the Linen carriers are available in but I am still campaigning for linen with prints.
Value for money: 4/5
A little steep at Rs. 8550/- But this is one carrier which will last you from the time baby is 7 kgs till 18 kgs, that is well into toddlerhood. So it does seem to be a worthwhile investment.
It is summer friendly. It is India weather friendly. That is a major win for me.
I am mighty glad that Soul chose me and my blog to review their product. It has added so much comfort and happiness in our lives by way of the Linen carrier. Also it has opened up my life to a plethora of other baby-wearing options too such as their Onbuhimo which is a new release and a beautiful carrier and also their beautiful accessories like the Soul Snuggly blanket (have you read my review of the Snuggly yet?) and their Tote bags. Above all I got introduced to a wonderful community of Soul users and fans and some of them are now close friends. This is what I love about mommying and sharing the same passion and joy for a brand which does so much more than just make a product.
** Disclaimer: I was sent the Full Buckle Carrier by Soul for an honest review. I have used the carrier extensively over a period of 3 months and shared my feedback here. **
For today’s final post for the #AtoZBloggingChallengeZ is for Zeba.
Let me introduce you to Zeba. She is a 20 something woman, who manages her own home and mine. She is the reason I am here everyday, with some amount of sanity and energy left in me to blog and to allow me to pee/ poop/ bathe/ have one cup of coffee in peace. Zeba is our nanny. She minds babyT in the day time. To me she is a big savior who has allowed me to bring in some degree of normalcy to my life. Continue reading
When I started the #AtoZBloggingChallenge I knew what the letter W would stand for.. our favourite book by our favourite children’s author John Butler of course.
W is for Who Says Woof
I buy most of babyT’s books preloved and my favourite store is Eat Play Read. I first chanced upon the book Who Says Woof? during an online book stocking here in September last year. I grabbed it because the cover page looked cute.
When the book arrived and I began reading it to babyT, he had just turned 9 months then, I was amazed how quickly he was picking up the sounds of the animals in them. His favourite was “Who says Baa?” He kept repeating Baa Baa Baa all day long. Once when we were out on the road, he saw a cow on the road (this is India. 🙂 and said Mooo I had hit the home-run, the book was teaching him something. He also loved looking at the pictures. And as with most babies I was made to read that book to him twenty five times in a day…
What I loved about this book?
Has beautiful illustration by John Butler. He is an illustrator and author of children’s books, most of which are about animals and their little families.
I like the fact that he keeps the design theme constant in all of his books. So the bears look the same in all the books. Its like a collection of related books. Very collectible.
The words are few in this particular book. (There are other books for older children with longer sentences too.)
It helps to build a guessing game with your baby… Who says Woof?Turn the page. A dog says Woof. & Who says Miaow? Turn the page. A cat says Miaow.
Who says Miaow.
It taught babyT all that he knows about animals and the sounds that they make. His favourite animal is now the Miaow Cat.
We knew all these by 10 months. 🙂 <3
We then fell in love so much with the book and John Butler’s illustrations that we went on a mission to find more of his books. Some were bought from Eat Play Read and some from Amazon.
The new additions
Our current favourite among these is Can you growl like a bear?
After all the cute little domestic and gentle animals from Who says Woof? this book talks about the ones that live in the jungles – bear, chimp, elephant, wolf and some more. BabyT loves imitating the noises that these animals and birds make in the book. “Can you roar like a leopard..?”
How gorgeous are the illustrations again? This particular page reminds me of a warm sunny day in summer spent wandering aimlessly in a park in London. <3
I don’t know how but this book somehow succeeds to make me yawn by the time we get to the last page. All the animals are going about their business, making the respective noises that they do and soon day turns to night, the wolf howls at the moon (babyT and I love to throw up our head and go Howwwwllll), the panda mommy and her little baby panda snuggle up for the night and soon…
This could work very well as a bedtime story.
This reminds me today is #TellaStoryDay and is celebrated in the USA and UK. I love how apt today’s title is to the event. On #TellaStoryDay people are encouraged to tell a story, not just read books, but share a personal story with your loved ones or on social media. And that is just what I am doing, telling you about my love affair with these baby books and how much they are loved and enjoyed in our home. 🙂
If you are anything like me, then you would have stressed and fussed and lost sleep over your first vacation with baby in tow. We went on our first vacation with #BabyT when he was 9 months old, and the whole idea was to celebrate my birthday in a fun & relaxed way. How wrong was I?
For an entire week before our first vacation, I was suffering from stress migraines, babyT was being his fussiest best and I had also fallen prey to the pre-vacation anthem “I have nothing to wear”, “nothing fits” and “Oh my God, I need some spa & parlour treatments, like now!” It was a nightmare.
But… my baby surprised me and taught me a very valuable lesson. That I need to let go and learn to “chill mom” Yes my 9 month old taught me how to enjoy a vacation. I came back with a list of why it actually makes total sense to travel with a baby. Here is why I completely urge you to pack your bags and leave right now with baby on board.
Babies enjoy holidays – we were so skeptical and anxious about whether babyT will sleep in a new bed and if he will be comfortable in a new room. However the moment we entered our hotel room, he got so excited to see the nicely made bed and the crisp sheets that he leaned towards the bed and insisted we put him on it. He then spent the next 10 minutes rolling around on the bed and we breathed a sigh of relief. He loved the big french windows, the spic and span bathroom and the ride up the elevator to the room. It was so cute to see him marvel at all the sights and sounds at the hotel we stayed at.
Younger babies are fuss free – if they are still breastfeeding then it is an epic win. If they are on formula it is still a win, you can mix it up on the go. But most importantly you don’t have to order special food and then struggle to feed them. Even if they are on solid foods, fruits are available anywhere in the world, require no cooking and so can be offered to baby any time and any place. We went to Goa on our first holiday (obviously had to go to Goa) and even dared to give him fish fry and he loved it. He ate all types of fish. We also learnt here that our baby is a restaurant lover, who got super excited whenever we went to a new restaurant and wanted to try everything that was on our plates. We gave him fish fry, rice and daal freely. We did not carry any baby food from home with us.
Babies have no to-do and to-see list while on holiday – This is the best part, that they have no agendas and you don’t have to revolve your holiday around their plans. You will anyway visit restaurants, beaches or go shopping and babies love being a part of all these environments.
While they are young, they are still too tiny to enjoy stuff like noisy theme parks or even understand places like zoos or aquariums, so we saved all this for future holidays and just did what we wanted to in Goa.
You can still carry them around – Tiny babies who have not yet sprouted legs, can be carried around in baby carriers. They won’t always agree to being carried once they are walking and exploring.
This was one of our favourite moments from vacation – we were walking back from the Candolim beach and entered a cafe to grab a cold drink. Daddy grabbed the guitar at the cafe while babyT caught up with his evening nap in his Anmol baby carrier.
But babywearing is a blessing and I cannot imagine my life at home or outside with a carrier or two in tow. I never leave home without my baby carrier now. I don’t think I know how to carry a baby in my empty arms. 🙂
Having said that, as a parent one cannot help but be all fussy and worried about baby’s comfort while traveling on vacations. But with some careful planning vacations with babies can turn out to be quite enjoyable for you and the little tykes. 🙂
Where to go with babies?
Staycations – you don’t really need to go far and wide in order to catch a break. A staycation at a nice hotel in your city can hit the spot quite well
Visit family and friends in other cities, towns or even countries – there is nothing like the comfort of a close friend or relative’s house in a new place. You have access to all facilities like a well stocked up kitchen, laundry and the support of other people to mind baby while you take a breather.
Hotels with their own restaurants, pools and entertainment facilities– these are the best because you don’t really have to leave the hotel premises to eat or spend some time at the gym or getting a spa service done.
As for the actual travel, packing and vacation itself, good planning is definitely needed to ensure the holiday is stress-free and enjoyable for all of you. To help with this I enlisted the help of a fellow mommy, Charu Sharma, who first traveled with her baby when he was just 1.5 months old, internationally mind you and then bitten by the travel bug, she kept travelling with her little one and seems to have perfected the art of vacationing with baby.
Charu & her son on holiday
Here’s what she has to say to help with flight journeys, (the parts in brackets have been added by me to add on to what Charu has to say.)
While booking tickets, keep in mind your baby’s nap and sleep (and maybe even poop times). If possible avoid travelling in those hours.
If you have to take early morning flight, always dress up the baby in comfortable and warm clothes at night before going to bed teamed with a bulletproof night time diaper. (yes we are cloth diapering moms, and yes cloth diapers do last the entire night and some more) so that you can just carry them away while they are asleep and change them when they are awake.
Carry a spare sweatshirt for unpredictable AC temperature. (Its easy to take off layers of clothes if it gets warm, but difficult to find warm clothes if it is too cold. )
Always carry along a few favorite snacks. Try and keep a few options with you. When babies are being fussy, something edible usually does the trick. She adds that roasted makhanas were a saviour on a 2hours flight as her son kept munching on these throughout.
(I loved this one!) Charu says she hides her son’s favorite toy 2-3 days before their scheduled travel date, and this item appears magically inflight when his tantrums are about to begin. She also is planning to get one of those magnetic doodle boards for the next travel and confides in me that the grand reveal will happen mid air. (this woman is genius I tell you.)
Pack a small and well planned and well memorized diaper bag. Toddlers don’t give you time to hunt down anything in your bag. Charu uses small wet bags (What is a wet bag you ask? Check my blog post here) to store stuff. It is a bonus knowing exactly what needs to go with you to the baby room if they need a diaper change mid air.
Most importantly reach the airport well before those last 45 minutes. Inquire about the baby care room, if you need one. Charu recommends to always feed as well as change the diaper just before boarding. If the airline you have chosen to fly with does not allow you to do web check in with infants, it is best to go early and pick a seat according to your preference.
Gate check in the stroller at the aircraft’s gate and if required ask for assistance for storing the hand baggage in storage bin at the aircraft gate itself. Walking down those narrow pathways with a baby and a hand baggage can be little difficult. Airline staff are generally very helpful and one just needs to ask.
Priority check in and boarding: If the airlines is not offering, ask for it, specially if you are traveling alone. A calm mommy = a calm baby.
If nothing works and your baby is howling and crying despite all your efforts to calm him down, you need to keep calm and not worry too much about those dirty looks (even the sympathetic ones in that particular moment is not looked forward to). Babies cry. Its natural and it happens and everyone goes through it. You don’t have to be guilty about it.
most of the airlines don’t allow you to keep a really big diaper bag with you during take-off and landing. So having small wetbags with essential items does help. You can just take out that particular wetbag which you feel you might need and keep it with you during take off and landing, instead of the whole diaper bag.
Charu is on Instagram as: https://www.instagram.com/charutiwaris/
I feel armed with so many more ideas thanks to all the tips given by Charu here. In fact I am yearning for a vacation now and this time I am looking forward to it. Have you traveled with babies? What was the one thing that you will recommend to someone looking to vacation with a baby?
Note: Did you know I Cloth Diapered while I was on vacation. That was a big win for me and inspirational for many other cloth diapering moms I know. Read the full post here.
Once you’ve had a baby you will be amazed at the amount of free advice you will get. People you have never met in your life and who you never even knew existed in your family tree will invite themselves for delivering a session on how you modern mothers know nothing and how they raised perfectly well and healthy babies with all the massaging, pulling, oiling and feeding. They may be well meaning, but not all the baby care norms which have been practiced over the years are entirely safe or good for baby.
Here is a list of some unsafe practices which we were personally told about and which we heard from our other new parent friends. We also discussed these with our pediatrician to understand the science behind it and if we would be doing the right thing to follow any of them. Continue reading