Subscribe to Busy Mama to Receive Our Weekly Newsletter!

Archive for January 2015

Adventures in the Toilet

Friday, 30 January 2015

Did you know that the average child goes through about 7300 diapers before s/he is potty trained? It's a scary thought, isn't it? If your child is still in diapers, you are probably wondering about when to start potty training. You need to potty train your child when s/he is ready, not when you are ready;). But what does that mean exactly? It's not like your child will come up to you one day and say "Mom, I'm ready for potty training.". Join me in the diaper-free world to learn all you need to know about the land of toilet training.

Q1: So, the million dollar question is "when is the right time to toilet train?". 
What you need to understand first is that being toilet (or potty) trained is a developmental milestone. In other words, your child would sense the need to pee and poop and eventually perform these functions on a toilet or a potty (without being prompted). I say without being prompted because if you need to take your child to the bathroom every hour or every couple of hours and s/he pees or poops, then you're the one who is really toilet trained, not your child. Studies and research suggest 2 important criteria to be met in order for your child to be successful in toilet training:

1. Your child needs to understand the urge to go;
2. Your child must have the desire to be clean. Your child needs to understand the connection between using the potty and staying clean.
Personally, I would also add that not wanting to wear diapers or copying others, such as an older sibling or you, can be substituted for #2. Research also suggests that boys usually care less about being clean than girls, which is why girls potty train earlier than boys in most cases. So, how do you know when your child is ready? Look for the signs. Is your child asking you for a diaper change? Does your child know how to pull his or her pants down? Is your child old enough to sense the urge to go? (Most experts says that children under 1 do not have these skills yet. However, my friends and I, kids of an older generation were all potty trained before we turned 1, and in those times there were no such things as disposable diapers, so go figure!) In any case, if the answer is 'yes' to the above questions, then most likely your child is ready to be potty trained. On the other hand, if your child is hiding when you're calling him to pee or poop or if s/he is waiting until nap time to empty his or her bladder, then you may want to wait until a later time to train him or her. Most kids get potty trained between 2.5 and 4 years of age; it all depends on the child.

Another important thing to remember about timing is the season or time of the year. You don't want to train your child in the winter or early spring as it is very cold. If your child goes outside wearing snow pants and has an accident, you won't notice it and s/he may not tell you, and your child could get sick as a result; so, you want to avoid that. Also, you don't want to train your child for weeks on; potty training should take about a long week-end, or a week at most, and sometimes 1 day. If it's taking you longer, don't go on cleaning up all those accidents and being frustrated, and making your child feel like s/he has failed. Just pick another day down the road.

With my older son it was clear to me that he was ready just after he turned 2 (he was pulling down his pants, asking to sit on the potty, handing me toilet paper, wanting to flush, and seeing his friends at daycare toilet trained), but then winter came and we decided to wait. In spring time, just before he turned 3, potty training him was so easy. He did have a few accidents, but not much. With my younger son, it was a whole other story. Just before he turned 2, he would always want to come to the bathroom when his older brother had to go, and showing the same signs for potty training readiness as my older son. So, I decided to start training him before my daughter was born. It was a nightmare and a lot of frustration, so I gave up. Then I tried it again a few months later, and success!!! I still prompt and ask him to go sometimes, but he has mastered the concept at most times. So, as you can see, every child has a different experience. 

Remember, it happens when your child is ready - not when you're ready!

Q2: What's first  - pee or poop training?
Most experts suggest that it really depends on the child. But again, do you trust those 'genius' experts? What do you think? Obviously, you will start with peeing first. I have never heard of anyone potty training and starting with #2! In my experience and based on other what I've heard from other parents, most children will usually accomplish peeing before pooping on the potty, and often getting used to pooping on the toilet takes some time to master. If your child refuses to poop on the potty, just be patient and give it some time.

Q3: Should I use "pull-ups"?
Personally, I say no. I think it's a waste of money and defeats the whole purpose of potty training. I know that many will disagree, but again, this is a personal opinion. Disposable pull-ups are almost as absorbent as regular diapers nowadays, so why should your child bother to stop playing and go to the bathroom? Yes, your child will have the freedom to take off his diaper whenever he needs to go to the bathroom, but will he bother to do it is another question. I used pull-ups with my younger son only when we went somewhere (like for a play date or birthday party) because he had more accidents. Otherwise, in my opinion, go 'cold turkey'.

Q4: Should I use a small potty or a toilet seat insert?
The decision is your child's. You will surprised to see that your child will have a preference. But you have to give an option to. So, try both - toilet seat insert and a small potty that you can put on the floor to see what works best for your child. 
potty insert

When I started toilet training my oldest, my parents got this wonderful potty from the US (unfortunately, I haven't seen it here in Canada, but I'm sure similar models are available) that was 3-in-1: potty chair you can put on the floor, a toilet seat insert, and a step up stool at the same time. And not only that, it also played music and came with a little book to follow along:).

The Summer 3-in-1 potty is very child friendly and a good value for your money. Like I said, it has 3 stages of use: stand alone potty, removable toilet insert or training seat, and a stepstool. It also comes with an illustrated soft cover hippo themed story book and an interactive sound panel with recorded story and an encouraging reward phrase. There are a couple of buttons to push. One tells a story with a follow along book and the other one says "hip hop hooray". Some parents are against musical potties as they believe it is too distracting during toilet training, and as a parent, it can get irritating hearing the same story, phrase or music over and over again. Again, it will be up to you to decide what suits your needs and preferences best. Both of my boys loved this potty, including the listening to the story and ready the book while on the potty. With my oldest, I used it as a potty insert and with my younger as a stand alone potty; like I said, your child will tell you what s/he prefers.

Q5: Should I teach my son to stand or sit when peeing?

The easiest is sitting. This will be easier for your son, and less messy for you. So, teach your son to squat like a puppy. As he learns to aim, he can pee like a 'Great Dane'. Apparently, aiming requires good hand-eye coordination. Who knew;)?

More Practical Tips

  • How much toilet paper is enough? Research says that "the right amount of toilet paper is four squares". I'm not sure who came up with that. I say use your common sense.
  • Wiping - Just in case you didn't know, girls need to wipe front to back.
  • Aiming - Boys need to learn that their penis should not be used as a water gun;).
  • Washing hands - ALWAYS wash hands.
  • What if my child continues to have accidents after being potty trained? - See my previous post on 'What's up with bed wetting?'
  • My child is perfectly fine at school, but continues to have accidents at home. - Cut no slack at home. Your child simply wants attention. There are other ways to get quality attention. Your child should clean up at home if s/he has an accident. You may want to try using a stamp or sticker reward system, for each time s/he successfully uses the bathroom at home, give a stamp or a sticker. You will be surprised how much kids love stamps:).
  • The daycare won't accept my child unless s/he is potty trained! This is unfortunate and unfair as daycares should not force toilet training before a child is ready. The best solution (if you don't have any other options, i.e. another daycare or train at home and then send to daycare) is to keep your child in the younger classroom until s/he is potty trained. Check out these great potty chart reward systems:

Disclaimer: This post was written by Stella V. All opinions are my own.
Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics, Ari Brown, M.D.; Relationship between age and initiation of toilet training and duration of training: a prospective Study, Pediatrics 2003;

continue reading...

Orzo Pasta with Mixed Veggies and Meat - The Perfect Lunch or Dinner for Any Toddler or Preschooler!

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

This is a wholesome easy-to-make healthy meal your toddler or preschooler will definitely enjoy, and so will you! The most time consuming part of this recipe will be cutting up all the veggies. This yummy dish has pasta (and not the usual one:) - which any kid will enjoy, minced meat - easily hidden in case it's a challenge to make your child eat meat, and healthy colourful vegetables. And, no side dishes are needed to accompany this meal. What more can you ask for?!

And, leftovers will taste great as well!

Serves about 8-10. (My husband and I enjoy this meal for dinner every time I make it for the kids.)
Prep time: about 30 minutes.


  • 1-1.5 lb of minced/ground meat - turkey/chicken/lean beef (I personally prefer chicken or turkey; I find the beef too fatty and oily) - you can omit this if you're a vegetarian or vegan
  • 1 medium size onion cut up in small pieces
  • 1-2 medium size carrots cut up into small cubes
  • 3 medium size potatoes cut up into small cubes
  • 2-3 cups of broccoli broken up into small heads
  • 2-3 cups of cauliflower broken up into small heads
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chicken stock concentrate
  • 2 cups of orzo pasta (looks like long grain rice)
  • some olive oil for cooking

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add salt. Pour pasta into boiling water and cook for about 20 minutes until tender. Strain and set aside.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, cut up and prepare all your vegetables - onion, carrots, potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower.
  3. Blanching broccoli and cauliflower: Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add broccoli and cauliflower. As soon as water starts to boil again, strain the water and set veggies aside.
  4. In a large skillet with some olive oil on medium heat, add onion, fry until translucent, about 5-10 minutes. Add meat and cook it until no longer pink, another 10 minutes or so. Add soy sauce and chicken stock concentrate. Add carrots and potatoes for another 5 minutes until a bit tender, but not completely soft.

  5. Add broccoli and cauliflower to the meat mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Add pasta to the big meat and veggie mix, and all done!

Ready to serve!!! How easy was that?!

Bon Appetit:)!

Disclaimer: This post was written by Stella V. This is my recipe:).

continue reading...

6 Things to Consider When Buying a Child Car Seat

Thursday, 22 January 2015

As I mentioned in my previous post on car seats already, buying a baby or child car seat is a critical component of your child's safety. One of the most important roles you have as a parent is keeping your child safe while going somewhere in a vehicle.

I would like to remind you of the general safety guidelines recommended for  your precious little ones:

  • Infants/Toddlers - Use rear-facing only seats and rear-facing convertible seats until your child is at least 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car seat's manufacturer.
  • Toddlers/Preschoolers - Use convertible seats and forward-facing seats with 5-point harnesses for as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by their car seat's manufacturer.
  • School-aged Children - Use belt-positioning booster seats until the vehicle seat belt fits properly, usually when the child has reached 4 feet 9 inches in height and is between 8 and 12 years of age.

  • Older Children - Always use Lap and Shoulder Seat Belts for optimal protection. All children younger than 13 years should be restrained in the rear seats of vehicles for optimal protection.

1) Follow safety rules, laws and regulations - please read my story on child car seat safety at

2) Consider your budget - Obviously you want to save money when you buy a car seat, but sometimes spending a bit more money in the beginning can save you much more in the long run. There are so many convertible car seats on the market, such as the 3-in-1 convertible infant to toddler rear-facing to front-facing, or rear/front facing and booster all-in-one car seats. Instead of spending $100+ on an infant car seat, then splurging another $200+ for a convertible car seat, you may consider investing $300+ on an all-in-on convertible car seat from infancy through childhood, such as the Diono RadianRXT convertible car seat. Also, the #1 concern is always safety. So, you will want to go with the safest car seat that you can afford. The Britax brand is known to be one of the most safest child car seats on the market. But, don't stress too much, just make sure that the car seat you choose is the one you can afford, suits your child best, and is installed properly.
Diono RadianRXT

Britax Pavilion

We had the Safety 1st Complete Air 65 Convertible car seat model before our third which I and the kids absolutely loved, but unfortunately, you cannot fit 3 of those in one row.

3) Consider your vehicle - If you're planning on having more than 2 kids, you MUST think long-run, especially if you're planning to get a new family car which you will not be changing anytime soon. You have to figure out where and how you will install your child car seat(s). Make sure you inquire and check if the car in question has the LATCH system you're planning to use - And, take measurements; this is especially important if you're planning to fit 3 car seats in one row.

4) Consider the future - Please learn from my mistake. My hubby and I definitely didn't think ahead when we purchased our first and second rear-facing convertible car seats. We were pretty much sure that we wanted more than 2 kids. But with an over-exhausted and overwhelmed mommy brain you often tend to miss the big picture. With 3 kids under 4, we needed a car that could fit 3 car seats in the back next to each other. So, when I say 'Consider the future' - consider your future car needs AND the number of car seats in the back as well. We bought the Cosco seats primarily because of the price. I drive a Honda CRV and I have 2 Cosco front facing seats and an infant Peg Perego seat installed in the back. It is extremely tight, but definitely doable:).

Cosco car seat from Costco for $96 - you can fit 3 of these in a row in a mid-size car

Diono RadianRXT Storm (Colour: Daytona)

Foonf boasts a narrow width — under 43 cm (17 in.) at its widest point and 33 cm (13 in.) at the base — making 3-across seating possible.

5) Consider your child - You must do your research and TRY IT OUT with your child. We brought our kids with us every time we had to purchase a car seat, and believe me it made such a difference every single time. A car seat that may look like the best and most affordable on the market for you could turn out to be the most uncomfortable seat for your child.

6) Consider the reviews - Due diligence is important. Take the time to do your research and read the reviews by other mamas like you. It's true that everyone's preferences will differ but you may be surprised by some of the pros and cons you read on various child car seat reviews. Here are some interesting forums on the subject; I wish I had consulted these when I was doing my child car seat shopping. 

Disclaimer: This post was written by Stella V.
continue reading...

Must Have Baby & Toddler Gear Guide

Thursday, 15 January 2015

I don't know about you, but I'm always on the look-out for the best toys, books and children activities on the market when it comes to my kids. With three kids you can only imagine how many toys, books and other crap we've accumulated over the past several years. My husband forbids me to buy anymore toys or books. He does have a point when he says that we could open up a public library at our home for kids, but still.... you need to either buy or come up yourself with new, exciting and age-appropriate toys and books for your kids. Although, my wonderful Mr. V. refuses to see that our boys are growing up and need different types of toys, books and activities to be stimulated, I'm always here to provide an 'objective' point of view;).

So, I'm here to share my favourite baby and toddler gear on the market. This is not a paid advertisement, and in most cases, you'll be able to choose from a variety of brands. And, believe me, you DO NOT need to buy Sophie the Giraffe for $25; in my opinion, it was definitely a waste of money to spend (I hate to say it, but my hubby was so right about that one).

1. Baby Gyms - There are a variety of baby gyms available out there. I bought the cheapest one from Walmart and it worked wonders for all of my 3 babies. Recommended age for these officially is 0+ months, but in real life there is no point using these until the baby is 3 months old.

2. Exersaucers are a great way to entertain your baby once your child is able to sit up unassisted (usually 4-7 months); it allows you to get stuff done at home; however, you should limit exersaucer usage to 15-20 minutes a day maximum - Recommended age: once baby can sit up to 12 months maximum. (Stay tuned for my next story on Exersaucers.)

3. Baby Einstein Count and Discover Treasure Chest - my baby learned all his colours and to count 1-10 with this toy, and still loves it to this day; you can also teach/learn shapes with this toy and babies love inserting the coins in the slot like into a piggy bank - available at Sears for $25.99; Recommended age is 10+ months -

4. LeapFrog - Peek a Shoe Talking Octopus English Edition - My toddler (almost preschooler) still loves to play with this toy; it's a great toy to play peek-a-boo, learn colours and numbers and sing along. This toy is available from ToysRUs for $25 -

5. Baby safety swabs to clean baby ears - $1.87 for a pack of 55, available at Walmart - Please don't use regular Q-tips to clean your baby's ears!

6. Baby Bassinet - I decided to buy a bassinet after our daughter was born, and I still use it to this day even though my daughter is almost 6 months old - this is a great replacement for a crib to have your baby safely next to you during the night or keep it downstairs in the kitchen for nap times (I used it both ways); it rocks or can be flat and stable, depending on your preference - available (in off white as well) at ToysRUs for $99 -

7. Book Display & Organizer - available on for $47-$70, depending on your preferred design - I love this book organizer; we still use it to this day to organize our favourite books in the playroom for the kids; it's a great way to entice kids to read by displaying their favourite books (look out for sales on this item at various kids stores).

8. Baby Carrier - If you recently gave birth and don't have one of these already, run to the store and buy one now! I still haven't seen a baby who didn't like being in a baby carrier or sling close up and personal with mommy:). Baby carriers allow you to run certain errands much easier, hands free without a stroller, and calm your baby at the same time if s/he is fussy. Make sure to test the carrier first make sure to choose one that is sturdy, easy on your back, and will be easy to use when moving your baby in and out. Usually baby carriers can be used up to 25 lbs. Prices will vary greatly on type and brand.

9. Laugh and Learn Fun Activity Table - this was probably the most favourite toys for both of my boys as soon as they learned to stand assisted. There are various types and brands available on the market; choose the one you like the most for your child!

10. Playards - There are many Pack & Play playards out there on the market. I find that Graco makes many different variations, so you'll definitely be able to find the one that suits your needs and budget best. We bought one by Graco that we still use to this day. I don't really recommend using them as bassinets as I find the surface is not smooth and flat enough, but it is amazing for playard use or a crib when you travel. We still use ours for our 6-month old and 2 and a half year old when we travel. Make sure the one you buy is easy to assemble and carry because you will be using it for travel a lot, such as taking your child to grand parents, and so on.


11. Vtech Chomp & Count Dino - This Dino has a variety of activity for your child to enjoy. Each coin contains a picture of a healthy fruit or vegetable that the Dino can recognize. It will congratulate you when you offer him the correct food item:). The Dino also incorporates shapes, colours, and numbers. Recommended age is 12-36 months. This toy is available from ToysRUs for $24.99 -

12. Vtech Grow-Along Music Center - This toy can grow with your child. To start off, it has a music station that can be placed on the floor for an infant. As the child grows, it can be placed on a sturdy base with 2 different height options. The microphone attached is probably the most intriguing for the kids. Recommended age is 13-23 months. This toy is available from ToysRUs for $39.99.

13. Melissa & Doug - ABC Magnet Set Letters-and-Picture Pairs - English Edition - My toddler learned many of the letters and sounds using this set. We play a game by sticking all the letters and pictures on the fridge, then I would tell him to bring letter 'A' for example with a matching word that starts with 'A'. This toy is available at ToysRUS for $14.99 -

14. Stacking Toys - These will be one of your baby's and toddler's favourite toys. There are so many different ones available on the market these day. My recommendation is to go with the simplest and lightest one, all plastic and safest for your child. For an older toddler, I recommend the Tobbles Neo stacking toy (available from Mastermind for $29.95 -; it's a great concept as your child is learning to stack blocks one on top of another because it doesn't require perfect alignment for the tower to hold.
my #1 recommended choice

15. Parum Pum Pum drum and shakers - All of my kids and I absolutely love this toy! It is a bit pricey, but it does come with a lot of accessories, all of which your child will love. The set includes 7 instruments: drum with handle and strap, centipede drumsticks, jingle bell ant, busy bee maraca and clacker, caterpillar tambourine adn 2 shaka-shaka eggs. This is a great toy for travel as well.  Recommended for 18+ months; available from Mastermind for $34.99;
16. Shape sorters - Make sure you get some kind of shape sorter for your infant or toddler to explore. Shape sorters are a great way to learn shapes and enjoy playtime. My favourite one the Weplay Learning Cube available from Mastermind for $29.97. I like it because it's big, colourful and you can use it for more than just shape sorting. The cube features different challenges ranging from shape sorting to number tracing, to puzzles and includes a toddler-safe mirror for the curious little one. Recommended age is ages 2 and up, but I started using this amazing toy at about 14-15 months or even before. You will not regret investing a bit more money into this wonderful Learning Cube.
Weplay Learning Cube

Disclaimer: This post was written by Stella V. All opinions are my own.
continue reading...


Copyright © Busy Mama | Premade Blog Design by Lilipop Designs