Monday, 29 June 2020

Day Trips With A Baby

Summer 2020 - woo! Not exactly the summer we were all expecting as we're currently in the middle of a global pandemic, but as a Canadian I will take my summer however it choses to present itself. While we won't be partaking in the usual summer concerts, events and public swims for health reasons, there's one summer traditional that I am excited to (safety) resurrect and that is the summer road trip!

If you guys follow me on Instagram or have been reading my blog for some time, you know that I absolutely love day tripping around Ontario. There's just something about a road trip from the city that just reinvigorates you and makes you appreciate the beauty around you even more. Pandemic aside, I have another change to add to my local summer travels - my 11 month old son Benjamin!

Taking a day trip, even just a quick one, with a baby definitely presents itself with its own unique challenges. You need a lot more stuff, timing is absolutely imperative and there is potential for tears - from both mama and baby, depending on how the drive is going! As we're slowly coming out of months of quarantine and self-isolation, I have to admit that I've lost a bit of my mojo with taking Benny with me. Traveling with a baby can be overwhelming, even if that travel is just a day's road trip.

Thankfully after a few successful car trips with baby Benny under my belt, I feel as though I have a handle on road tripping with a little. Yes there is more stuff that you need to bring and the trip is not as carefree as your childless days, but honestly it's so worth it. Here's my tried-and-true packing list, as well as some tips to make road tripping with a baby as stress free and enjoyable of an experience as it can possibly be!

What To Pack:

  • Snacks. So many snacks. At least 3 times the amount you think that you need.
  • Sunscreen
  • Soother wipes. It can be daunting trying to keep baby's hands and belongings sanitized (we are still in a pandemic,) so having a pack of soother wipes handy can really help.
  • Extra Diapers
  • Wipes - not only for diaper changes, but also to clean baby on-the-go (especially after all those snacks.)
  • Soft toys that are safe for the car trip
  • A picnic blanket (I use this one from Amazon, which is actually a tablecloth.)
  • A hat for baby
  • A bottle of water
  • A change of clothes for both baby and mama
  • Anything of comfort for baby - whether that be a pacifier, lovey, blanket, etc.
  • Bug Spray (this one is deet-free and is safe for babies over 6 months)
  • Travel stroller (we're still loving the Uppababy Minu and it lives in my trunk.)
For me, the source of most of the stress that comes along with day tripping with a baby has to do with gathering all of the stuff and panicking over forgetting something important. To combat any anxiety over the added stuff, I keep a canvas bag filled with all of the above and keep it in an accessible area. That way, it's easy to just pop into either the bottom of your stroller (for anything within walking distance) or the trunk of your car. Just make sure that you're periodically changing the diapers and changes of clothes to match your baby's current size.

Car Ride Tips

  • When taking road trips and day trips with a baby, timing is absolutely everything. It may seem like an obvious statement to make, but timing your car trips to line up with your baby's naps will be such a game changer. I even plan to leave about 15 minutes prior to Benny's scheduled nap time because I know that it takes him some time to get settled in the car. 

  • You know your baby best, so if they have a tendency to get worked up and anxious during car rides then it's likely to happen on a road trip (even if you time naps perfectly.) If you have the option, an extra person to sit in the backseat to entertain your baby can make the difference between an enjoyable drive and a nightmare. Grandparents, partner, big kids - anyone who offers to help, definitely take it.

  • Create a rock-solid playlist that's full of songs that you know your baby enjoys. Benny loves watching Mother Goose Club, so I have all of the songs cued up and ready to go for our car trips. Do I love listening to 'The Wheels On The Bus' multiple times a trip? That would be a hell no from me. But, I will sacrifice my typical classic rock road trip tunes for a happy baby any day.

  • Skip the drive through and fill up with gas beforehand. I've learned this lesson the hard way, but if you're timing your baby's naps with your driving time then the last thing that you want to do is interrupt said nap. Reduce any need to stop, and potentially wake up and upset your baby.

  • Have patience and trust that you're making great memories. It can be so hard to keep your composure when you're in the thick of motherhood and don't have the comforts of home to rely on. For me, my trigger is when Benny is crying in the car and there's no way for me to comfort him. Even in our worst moments, I have to trust that we're making family memories and that I'll forget about any of those hard moments as time goes on. 

These photos were taken at quite possibly the most beautiful lavender farm that I've ever visited! Purple Hill Lavender Farm is a picturesque piece of paradise in Creemore, Ontario (about an hour and a half drive from Toronto.) The farm is family-owned, and you can just feel the amount of care and love that goes into the property. The lavender is currently at peak bloom and will remain this shade of vibrant purple until about mid-July. Make sure to visit their website to book your ticket to visit - and bring the whole family. Honestly, you won't regret it.

Road tripping and day tripping with a baby can feel daunting, but it's so incredibly worth it. We may have a very different summer on our hands for 2020, but getting out and exploring nature and what our province or state has to offer is a great way to make lemonade out of lemons. I'm excited for all of our summer day trips to come. Where should we go next?

xo Joëlle

Friday, 29 May 2020

Favourite Canadian Baby Boy Clothing Brands

Baby boy mamas, who can relate: you're on the hunt for some cute, neutral and high-quality clothing for your little only to be hit with either horribly tacky prints or zero selection. Been there. As someone who really enjoys fashion and dressing myself for the day, that same passion extends into finding and dressing Benny in cute little boy clothing. While there certainly isn't as much selection for baby boys as there is for girls, and you may need to filter your results a little bit more, I have managed to build a very cute and incredibly practical capsule wardrobe for Benny from predominantly Canadian brands.

While admittedly I've been slow to shop Canadian brands for myself, I have jumped in whole heartedly for Benny! Supporting our local businesses is more important now more than ever and we Canadians have some absolutely fantastic brand selections for children's apparel - especially for little boys! If you're like me and seek out neutral colours in natural, breathable fabrics and good quality for your baby's wardrobe then I highly suggest checking these Canadian shops out!

Little Yogi

Made in Canada using natural materials, Little Yogi is the answer to your frustration with gendered children's apparel. Made famous by their harem pants, every single piece of clothing that I've received from Little Yogi has been in heavy rotation in Benny's wardrobe (bonus - it washes beautifully.)

Mini Mioche

Organic and made in Canada, Mini Mioche has been one of my favourite brands to build Benny's wardrobe since he was a newborn! My must-have item from the line is their Romper, which makes cooler-weather dressing a no-brainer. I also love the variety of gender-neutral colours and simplicity of their designs!

Petit Lem

Recently I needed to replenish Benny's sleeper stash, as he had grown out of his previous size, and had a hard time trying to find anything that fit. Thankfully I was able to get my hands on some Petit Lem sleepers - and I may never buy anything else! We were well acquainted with Petit Lem for Benny's newborn wardrobe; everything is super soft and is made with the absolute cutest patterns. They also have hard-to-find premie sizing. Another incredible Canadian brand.

Hey Folks

Made in Canada and formally Minimoc, Hey Folks is the only place that I have been buying Benny's shoes lately. I love their simple designs and the fact that no matter how hard Benny tries, he can't seem to kick them off. Plus, they're so cute and come in such beautiful, neutral colours that I typically buy one pair and Benny will wear them with everything until he outgrows them!

Junior Foxes

As a former baby-wearing mama, adding a ring sling into your arsenal of baby gear is an absolute necessity. I love the beautiful colours and patterns available at Junior Foxes, a local Canadian brand, and how durable their sling fabrics are.

With so many adorable Canadian brands to shop for your littles, he list certainly doesn't end here - these are just a few of my personal favourites, and who's websites I'm constantly browsing.

I would love to know your favourite Canadian brands! Any favourites and stand-outs? Where do you shop for your little boy? Let me know!

xo Joëlle

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Entertaining My Baby in Self Isolation

We're in the midst of a Global Pandemic with Covid-19, and I for one am doing my part to flatten the curve and am staying home. While most friends and people I follow online are using this period of self-quarantine to practice self-care or maybe develop a new hobby, I'm over here trying to entertain and occupy my almost 8 month old baby while still staying sane.

Staying home while entertaining a young baby is no joke, and definitely requires a lot of time and attention. I find that we're hopping from one activity to the next, with me just hoping that something on Benny's play mat peaks his fancy for more than a few minutes. Some toys are a big hit one day, and fall flat the next. Sometimes I can entertain him for almost an entire day with regular household items. It honestly just depends!

Here are a few toys, household items and books that we've been using to keep 8 month old Benny entertained while practicing Social Distancing.

Baby Toys

Remember when I said that I would only buy aesthetically pleasing, wooden baby toys? I have to laugh at my pre-baby self. Our condo is definitely a haven for all of the brightly coloured, loud baby toys.  Honestly though, if Benny likes them then I'm on board.

Here's some of Benny's favourite toys, and those that we have on regular rotation at our place. I like them because they're small-space friendly, and seem to really catch and hold his attention.

1. VTech Turn & Learn Driver
2. VTech Busy Learners Activity Cube
3. Fisher Price Piano Gym
4. Soft Crinkle Books

Household Items

Sometimes, the best ways to entertain a baby is through everyday items found at home. We learned this lesson when we took Benny on his fist flight: if it's something that catches his attention (and isn't dangerous to play with,) then just go with it.

Now, we're a little more strategic with offering everyday items that we know Benny will enjoy and play happily with for a longer period of time. There are a few things that I reach for in a pinch, and Benny seems to love them!

  • Tupperware containers (non-breakable, plastic) and lids
  • Pots and wooden spoons
  • Wrapping paper
  • Clean cardboard boxes (ones that have not recently entered the condo)


We're still trying to foster Benny's eventual love for reading, so having books available to him to have read and to play with is so important. Right now we're sticking to board books that have beautiful, colourful images and even different interactive textures.

The Jellycat Board Books are ideal for babies that are in and around the 6months - 1 year age range. Not only as a fun book to read with them, but also as a means of independent play with the mix of textures in each book.

Being in social isolation and quarantine is tough in the best of situations - it becomes even more challenging when you add a baby to the mix. With a rotating selection of toys, household objects and books, we've managed to find a nice routine when it comes to entertaining a baby.

We can get through this. Day 12 of social isolation and counting.

xo Joëlle

Saturday, 7 March 2020

Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres with Air Transat

I remember being asked, while I was still pregnant, what I was most excited for once baby arrived. That's simple, I said - I was excited to take my baby on their first trip. It seems like a strange answer, but it's true. Travel is and always has been a huge part of my life. My family, due to being a military family and living overseas, were always going on adventures when my brothers and I were young and it made for the best memories. Not only did I want those same memories and experiences for my own child, but I couldn't wait to experience the joy that comes along with seeing my baby experience new things.

Imagine my incredible excitement when the opportunity arose with Air Transat to visit Mexico to check out the recently opened Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres, a five-star luxurious family-friendly resort in Cancun. Both Brian and I were ecstatic! Not only would be we able to take Benny on his first trip at 6 months old, but we would be able to return to Cancun as a family - a beloved destination that holds many special memories for us.

So off we went, flying on our first flight with a baby with Air Transat and had the most amazing week in paradise. The Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres was an actual oasis. The resort was the perfect choice for a first vacation as a family with a new baby. The experience could not have been more accommodating to traveling with a baby, while still staying in the kind of luxury us late-thirties parents had grown accustomed to. The whole week exceeded my expectations and set the bar for family travel extremely high.

Let me guide you through our week The Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres. I know how important choosing the right resort when traveling with kids can be, let alone your first family trip, so I'm going to try to share everything and anything that made our week incredible and why I would recommend this property for family travel (or really anyone looking for a luxurious getaway in paradise.)

The Property

Upon first look at The Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres, I was struck by how absolutely gorgeous it is. Being only just over a year old and with beautiful, modern buildings and touches, this property makes an impressions before you even check in! Here's some quick facts about The Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres and some things that I really appreciated from this unique and luxurious property.

  • The property itself it only 29 km from the Cancun International Airport, which for us translated into a very quick and leisurely 35 minute drive. This is especially important to consider when traveling with a baby - the less time in transit, the better.

  • There are multiple pools on-site, to suit every age range and taste! Ourselves, we mostly just used the two pools that are situated in the Family Selection area of The Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres and they were excellent. I was also able to sneak away to check out the adults-only pool and it was gorgeous. There is also a large water park that any older children will absolutely love!

  • Fast, reliable Wifi is included and available throughout the entire complex.

  • The resort itself has over 600 rooms, and never felt overcrowded in the entirety of our stay - both during the week and on weekend. 

  • There is easy elevator access for the buildings. This is important when traveling with a baby and a stroller.

  • The on-site spa is Zentropia, which is easily the nicest and most luxurious spa that I've ever experienced. The services are available at an additional fee, and I found the prices to be reasonable (on-par with Toronto spa prices.)

  • I would classify the resort as a nice, medium size. Easily walkable, however with many options if you need get somewhere in a hurry. Normally if we were traveling on our own, Brian and I would have walked everywhere. However, traveling with a baby means that time is of the essence - especially when trying to get to a quick dinner, or getting back to our room for bedtime. We appreciated the many golf carts that were at the ready to assist, as well as the 100% electrical boats that offer a more scenic ride around the property.

Our Room: Family Selection

For our week at The Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres, we stayed in the Family Selection option for rooms. You guys - this was a game changer when it came to traveling with an infant. From the location of the room on the resort, to the incredible family-focused service we received, I could not recommend Family Selection enough. The perks for families seem to be endless; here are the features of Family Selection that really elevated our experience for our first trip with Benny.

  • The rooms with Family Selection are located in the most ideal area of the resort, in my opinion. You're close to the beach (in fact, I could see and hear the ocean from our balcony,) and are close to two family-friendly pools. Our favourite family-friendly restaurant on the resort, The Nest is in the Family Selection building itself so it was our preferred stop for a quick breakfast with Benny. 

  • Family Selection includes a family concierge service, and I honestly think that this service made our experience at The Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres. From arranging our room to be baby friendly, bringing us sunscreen, a diaper genie, a pack and play - everything! We had two concierges, Louis and Fernanda and they were both excellent. Fernanda went above and beyond to arrange all of our dinner and spa reservations, laundry pick up and ideal housekeeping times that wouldn't interfere with Benny's naps. The attention to detail and the care provided to our family completely exceeded our expectations. Most of all, they both genuinely cared for Benny - you could just feel it from them. I was teary eyed saying goodbye to our family concierges, especially Fernanda. The Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres will forever be a main pick for us when it comes to family travel because of the warmth and kindness that we received from the staff.

  • Room service is available 24 hours to guests of Family Selection. We took full advantage, and was a game-changer when we wanted to lounge on the balcony during Benny's naps. The coolest part about the room service is that you ordered from a menu on your TV! So modern, and so convenient. 

  • Our room was spacious and modern, with a large bathroom area and a soaker tub, and a large balcony that overlooked both the pool and the ocean. It was absolutely perfect. The room also included both a coffee and Nespresso machine. You guys know how much I appreciate in-room espresso, so this was a game-changer for me.

  • The Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres is a reservation-free resort, however guests staying in Family Selection are able to reserve times at the à la carte restaurants. Making sure that we had set eating times was really helpful as we learned to navigate dinners with a baby on our first trip. Fernanda, our family concierge, made sure we had reservations for the week at all of our preferred restaurants on the first day.

  • Hydrotherapy services at Zentropia, the spa, are available at no costs to guests staying at Family Selection. Although the spa is adults-only, Brian and were able to enjoy a few sessions each by taking turns watching Benny for a couple of hours. 

  • A small detail, but something that is so useful when traveling with a baby, is that Family Selection is allotted two pieces of laundry per guest at no additional cost. This was so helpful when dealing with accidents in sleepers, airplane outfits - basically the everyday messes that come along with a baby.

The Food

One of my favourite things about visiting an all-inclusive resort is having access to delicious food - with the bonus of not having to do dishes or clean up afterwards, haha! That being said, staying at a property for a full week means that the food needs to not only be delicious, but there should also be lots of options. Thankfully the food at The Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres did not disappoint. Brian and I were particularly impressed with the quality at the à la carte restaurants. Coupled with exemplary service and beautiful, modern décor, every meal felt like a special occasion.

  • There are 8 beautiful à la carte restaurants, with one of them being exclusive to Family Selection. Although the property operates on a no-reservation policy, guests staying in Family Selection are able to make reservations. For those of us who like dinning early (Brian and I because of Benny,) getting a table was never an issue - even without reservations.

  • The Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres takes food allergies very seriously. We were asked at every meal if anyone in our family had any food allergies. We even had a hostess show Brian, who is a pescatarian, around the main buffet so he knew where all of the vegetable and fish options were. We were very impressed.

  • The Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres also houses a trendy coffee shop and even a sports bar that's open 24 hours. I'm not one for sports, but you know that I was at the coffee shop multiple times a day. 

  • Although Benny wasn't quite into a solids routine when we visited The Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres, we noticed so many food options for kids - especially in Family Selection. Fruits and raw veggies, small sandwiches, pancakes shaped like characters - they had it all! On top of that, every à la carte that we visited had high chairs and a fun kids menu.

After a week in absolute paradise at The Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres, we were all sad to leave. Our first trip with six-month old Benny could not have gone any better, and I'm so grateful for such a positive entry into family travel.

Brian and I have always been very picky about the sorts of properties and resorts that we visit, but we had no idea how much staying at a family-friendly place can really make your trip. The Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres has set the bar very high for our first family trip, and was the perfect place for our first foray into family travel. If you're traveling with a baby and/or children, enjoy beautiful surroundings and appreciate attention to details and service then I could not recommend this beautiful place enough.

I hope to be back soon.

Thank you so much to Air Transat for providing our family with this beautiful experience. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

Friday, 28 February 2020

Baby Flying Tips: Benny's First Flight with Air Transat

There are so many firsts that you experience with a new baby: first smile, first time they crawl, their first word. One of the major firsts that I was most looking forward to, and simultaneously gave me the most anxiety, was Benny's first flight.

Readers of La Petite Noob know that I love to travel, and really didn't want to see that love end once we had a baby. When the opportunity came up to take our first flight as a family of three with Air Transat, I was ecstatic! My dreams of traveling the world with a child were coming true, and I was counting down the days until it became a reality. Then the panic set in.

The thing is although I've flown countless times, sometimes as a pair, as a group and often by myself, I had never flown with a child - let alone a six month old baby. What would security be like? What do I pack? Will they cry? What is the protocol for takeoff and landing with a baby on your lap? There were so many questions that arose in the days leading up to our first trip with Benny, I found it hard to move past the fear of the unknown.

I'll save you any dramatics and just skip to how our flight turned out: it was excellent. Check in at the airport was a breeze, we sailed through security, enjoyed a (mostly) silent and sleepy flight to-and-from the Cancun Airport in Mexico, and packed some key baby essentials that made the day a lot easier. Flying with Benny at six months took a lot more planning than I'm used to, and there were a lot more nerves involved, but it was incredible and totally doable for the future.

So let's get into the details of flying with a baby. First, the airline: we chose to go with Air Transat for our first flight with baby and it was such a good decision. You guys know that I've absolutely loved traveling and working with Air Transat over the years (we flew Club Class for our honeymoon) so I was already confident in the airline going into the flight. There are some definite perks to flying Air Transat with a baby that we took full advantage of, and that made our first flight much easier. These perks include:

  • A Family With Small Children check-in and baggage drop off line. As a couple who has not checked any luggage for over five years (Brian and I prefer to travel carry-on only) the fact that we would now need to allot time to drop off our baggage, but also check in with a baby added a whole other layer to the airport experience. Thankfully there is a special line for families with small children with Air Transat that allowed us to bypass most everyone in line and drop off our baggage in no time. We learned quick that time is of the essence when traveling with a baby, so the less time that we spent in lines with Benny the better. 

  • Extra Baggage allowance for Diaper Bags. Knowing that we were able to bring a dedicated diaper bag for Benny, outside of regular carry-on items, on our flight made packing so much easier. 

  • Gate Checking Strollers and Car Seats. Knowing that we would be doing a lot of walking through the airport with Benny, I knew that it would be important that we kept our stroller with us right up until we boarded. Thankfully with Air Transat, families are able to gate check one stroller and car seat at no extra charge, which was a lifesaver for us. Although we didn't use our own car seat on this particular trip, knowing that we're able to easily bring it with us makes traveling to Europe much easier.

  • Families with small children are also eligible for Pre-Boarding with Air Transat. It seems like those traveling with kids are on two very polarized opinions on pre-boarding. For both Brian and I, especially on our first trip traveling with baby Benny, pre-boarding was essential. We took advantage of the extra time that we had on the plane to sanitize everything around us, store our carry on and remove any items that we would need for Benny throughout the flight, and to get organized and comfortable. 

  • Friendly and Helpful Air Crew. The flight attendants and crew working on Air Transat flights are very well-versed in making people comfortable, and they went above and beyond with Benny. From helping us collapse and pack up our stroller at the gate, to briefing us multiple times during take-off and landing, to even bringing me extra water since I was feeding often during the flight: the crew took care of it all. Air Transat crew will even warm up baby food brought from home. A friendly air crew can make-or-break your flying experience, and our crew with Air Transat made sure that we had an amazing first flight with Benny.

After a successful first two flights with six-month old Benny, from Toronto to Cancun and back with Benny on our lap, I picked up a few tricks that I will implement on any future flights. Here's what made our flights a little more comfortable with baby.

  • I was initially worried about the change in air pressure and how it would affect Benny's ears on the flight, so I made sure to breastfeed during takeoff and landing for both flights. I'm not sure if it was this, the particular flight, or our individual baby, but Benny did not fuss whatsoever with changes in air pressure. In any case, I'm sure the sucking motion contributed to Benny's comfort and the feeding seemed to relax him - in fact, he fell asleep every time. If you're not breastfeeding then offering a bottle or a soother would have the same effect.

  • Because we wanted to make sure that we had desirable seats for maximum comfort on the plane, we opted to upgrade our seats on our own both ways to Options Plus. Options Plus is great because it allowed us to select our preferred seats in advance, enjoy extra leg room and gave us food from Air Transat's Bistro menu.  Options Plus also allows you to have priority boarding and our own check in line (should we not have had a child.) 

    Although not always an option, we were so happy to have upgraded to seats with extra leg room at the front of the plane. If you're not comfortable with an upgrade, I would suggest checking in 24 hours in advance of your flight to make sure that you're comfortable with your seating arrangement.

  • Babies are fickle, and I never really know which toys will entertain Benny on any particular day. For this reason, we packed his favourite toys, but also got creative for entertaining baby on the flight. When Benny all of a sudden tired of his beloved keyboard, an empty water bottle with stir sticks inside provided a solid 20 minutes of entertainment. Some other make-shift baby toys are a mirror, snack wrappers - whatever peaks baby's interest, just roll with it.

  • I'm a light packer by nature, so I didn't want to overwhelm our plane seats with too much stuff. The items that I packed for Benny on our flight were a muslin blanket, an extra set of clothes, 4 diapers and a pack of wipes, a pacifier and a pacifier clip, two toys and a package of pacifier wipes to sanitize soothers and toys throughout the flight.  We used everything that we packed, and I didn't wish for anything else.

Flying with a baby can seem overwhelming, but is completely doable and can actually be enjoyable! It takes a bit more planning, some extra stuff, the right airline and a few deep breaths. I'm already looking forward to our next flight with Benny.

What do you guys think? How was your first flight with your baby and/or children? Are there any tips that made the experience easier for you? Let me know!

xo Joëlle

This post was created in partnership with Air Transat. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.
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