Sunday, October 30, 2011

Traveling with Infants 101. Part One

This post has been a work in  progress for months and months. Several of you have asked me in person and via email for traveling tips with your infants and toddlers. Initially, I had planned to share this post as part of a larger project. However your loving requests finally twisted my rubber arm!

Alhumdulillah, my husband I have always had a travel bug in our pocket.  Even in pregnancy we took a few trips! When Zakariya was born there were no questions that we wanted to continue the lifestyle, to broaden all of our life experiences, among many reasons. Before our lil guy reached the age of 1 year, ma sha Allah he had been to places and seen things (and eaten foods) I could only dream of experiencing as a child.

Naturally, my family and friends wondered how we managed such overseas outings. They all wanted to know how I was able to do it so confidently. I told them with Dua, Allah's help, and the right planning, it is totally possible and everyone should try it too. 

So.... without further delay, here is my guide to Traveling with Infants 101 (Part One).

1. When Packing
 Pack never seen before toys. I have read of some Mama's wrapping these toys. Wrapping is added work on top of everything else. Chances are if its the right toy, your child will be excited regardless of the wrapping. 

One activity that can keep little ones engaged for a very long time is a sticker book.When they are a bit older they are interested in pens, markers and crayons, you can pack a tiny notepad for them to color in. 

Another toy that will keep your little one busy is a puzzle or activity/toy in one. For example, something that needs to be put together and can be easily taken apart. Once he/she figures it out, they will want to repeat the fun. There are cars, trucks, dolls and so on that can do this.

Lastly, a toy that saved us on the 4 hour drive from Toronto to Windsor was these lights! Zakariya kept busy with them the entire ride. The lights are very bright so its important to supervise this toy. However, once we explained to him to point them away from his eyes/face he was entertained by putting on his own ceiling display. I don't travel without these, they work amazing in airplanes once the cabin lights are off. These goodies can be found at the Dollar Store. 

Personally, I go light on packing toys/activities. The airport/airplane can be really busy. We try not to over stimulate our little guy and encourage him to explore his environment instead. Try plane-watching, playing around an uncrowded area or just taking a walk and taking it all in.

 A model airplane (car, train or bus) to show your little one how you will be traveling and get them excited about having their own size/version.

 Portable playtime. Typically, I would not invest in something pricey for our travels. However. I got this for $2 (shout out to the Mommy that shared this via facebook: Maryam D!) 

I am most excited because I do not have to constantly sanitize the tray table. I love that all our items can be within reach. The mat easily secures around the tray table for germ free, organized play.

2. When Eating

Nutritious sugar free snacks so your infant is calm and relaxed during the trip. A long flight and sugar rush are not a good combination. Most kiddies, like adults will not find airline food very appetizing. Make sure to pack some home cooked meals for your little ones.

3. When Organizing

 Separate the toys, snacks, medications and anything else you would need in separate large sized zip lock bags. This is by far the most important TIP I can offer. This will help keep things organized, easy to find and easy to access. Sometimes the airline does not allow you to store baggage under your feet during take off. This way you can be prepared and pull out whatever you need and keep it in the seat pocket in front of you. It also helps the spouse (who didn't help pack) to locate items while you are busy with the baby.

4. When Selecting
 Some parents think they need to pack everything from their daily routines. Remember, you want to make this as stress free as possible and stick to the essentials. My favorite products to pack in our suitcase are:

Ecover Stain Remover: Great for leaky diapers stains (if ever) and those surprise spit up stains when you do not have access to laundry. The bottle comes with a scrubby brush. The product is plant based but does contain some perfume. 

Green Beaver: Sunscreen for the whole family. 

Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap: Replaces about everything you need in your beauty products. You can skip all your soaps, shampoos, face washes and body washes. The travel size is perfect because all you need is one squirt. 

Clean Well Hand Sanitizer: I carry the spray in my purse to pretty much sanitize everything. Airports are pretty dirty and my little guy touches just about everything. Love that this product contains no alcohol or chemicals, just clean hands!

Jojoba oil: Replaces any creams or body lotions for the entire family. We don't need to use anything else on our faces or body.

Sniffles Natural Eucalyptus Rub: This works great for runny, dry noses. 

5. When Diapering
Make disposable pouches. Pre-pack a diaper in disposable nappy sack. It will be hard enough trying to get thru the isles of the plane with your baby, let alone your baby bag. It will be even harder to squish all three of you in the tiny bathroom at once. These pouches also help when you are traveling by car and have no where to dump your diapers. 

Instead of taking a change pad, I prefer to use underpads. These are sold at any medical supply store, a pack of 10 for $4. It is easy clean up best of all its absorbent for any accidents that may happen. Anything beats trying to handle a baby and cleaning up your change pad! 

These will be a life saver for those of you who are traveling alone. When you need to go to the washroom you can lay the underpad on the floor and sit your little one on top. You can secure that the baby does not move with your feet. This sounds gross but really when you are traveling alone, you have to get creative. Thanks to the underpad your baby can at least sit on a clean floor.

Your completed backpack should look something like this. Easily accessible and organized. I keep everything in the zip locks through out the whole trip for easy breezy restaurant trips, sight seeing and touristing!

Another important suggestions is to consider a backpack instead of a single shoulder strapped baby bag. The backpack will help you distribute the weight and carry baby. Holding baby on one side, husband on the other will be sure to give you a sore shoulder and headache.

These are just a few things to know, and there's a whole lot more.  To me this is what keeps it simple which is the point of vacationing and traveling!  As Rasul Allah (saw) said "be as a travelor," i.e. think twice about what you really need.  

In the second post in this series we'll talk about how to enjoy your vacation once you are there.

Stay tuned for Part Two of this series!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Kiddie of the Month: Styling Sisters Zayna & Haniya

Having 2 daughters is a real pleasure Alhamdulillah! Growing up with sisters I love seeing my daughters creating that special sisterly bond as they play and share.

Zayna is a talkative, caring and very curious 4 year old. She loves being home schooled and enjoys learning. This for her can mean asking A LOT of questions! She eagerly waits for her 2 year old sister to take her nap so we can do arts and crafts. This usually has something to do with the color blue, since its her favorite color.

Haniya is a very loving and friendly toddler. She loves to give hugs and kisses, especially to baba (her dad). She also loves to wear her Hijab and go to the Masjid. She even  insists on keeping her hijab on until she falls asleep!

Both my girls LOVE dressing up and accessorizing. They enjoy going to partys and weddings. MashaAllah they are blessed to have a big extended family and many caring friends around them all the time. They have their grandparents and great grandmother at home with them. They also visit their naani and naana (maternal grandparents) on the weekends. They have lots of fun playing "house" with their cousins and going to the park. 

Alhamdulillah I truly feel like its a blessing from Allah SWT and enjoy everyday with them no matter how busy or hectic the day is.

May Allah SWT protect them, and keep them smiling!

Ameen to your duas. I have had the privilege of meeting both your dolls. Mashallah they are both adorable and super fashionable. I always see them with their matching purses, shoes and hair clips. I have even seen them rocking matching outfits. Too cute! Your going to have to find them matching grooms! May Allah swt bless them both and keep them under his protection and care. May he make them amongst the righteous.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pregnant Mothers. Literally.


  Regardless of what some of us may feel about being too young or old for Motherhood, birth can be beautiful at any age.

This image of Mother in law, Michelle Duggar with her daughter in law is a strong one. 

Could you imagine being pregnant at the same time as your Mom or your Mother in law? How would it feel? 

And as always.... if you have experience in this, share your wisdom!

Friday, October 14, 2011

A BIG Thank You!

A BIG Thank You to all of you who came out to the Green Living Workshop held at the Madinah Center. Mashallah, the turn out was great. We even had some sisters sit on the floor! 

We had a very informative discussion and Q/A during the workshop. Even after the class was over, no one was ready to go home. Most of the sisters stuck around to exchange ideas. I got to meet many new sisters and hear about their plans to make GREEN changes in their lives.

 I prepared a hand out of recipes for the participants of the class.We made our own Laundry detergent and took it home in reusable glass jars.  The focus of the class was on why toxins are harmful, disease/illness on the rise and  how to make informed decisions as consumers. We looked at alarming stats-- while we are on the topic, did you know that 61% of popular red lipstick brands contain lead?!

Everyone can look up recipes or green living tips in documentaries, books or online. Its important to remember that a workshop setting encourages conversation, exchange of ideas, sisterhood, unity and awareness and activism on another level.

 If you have the option, I would encourage all of you to attend in person. There will be many workshops at the Madinah Center Inshallah. 

If you were not able to attend and interested in hosting a Green Living Workshop for your friends and family, please send me an email at for more information.

Happy Friday from our family to yours!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Defending your Birth Story

Muslimah Source has started a series with yours truly called Doula Diaries. Click here to check out my latest article Defending your Birth Story

If you can relate, leave your comments below the article. Share your thoughts and wisdom!

Monday, October 10, 2011

At the Farmers Market

@ the Farmers Market a few weekends ago.
If you can't buy organic, buy local. If you buy organic , make sure its local. The great thing about the Farmers Market is you can ask about what types of sprays (if any) are used. If you go with a friend you can split your groceries and your cost. For the quantity of produce you get, its the bang for your buck. Its confusing to why we have confined ourselves to supermarket shopping only. It's actually really refreshing to get some fresh air and the best part is there are NO line ups!

Something I like to do to save time is to pre-cut ,chop and wash my produce. I just throw it in a reusable bag and its ready to toss into meals for the rest of the week. It works really well for when I am on the go and running behind on making dinner. We are running out of excuses not to have a salad around here!  Alhumdulillah, the absolute best part about this simple tip- is that it ensures that we throw less away because we use everything we have in our fridge.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Special Feature: The 411 on Eating Healthy

Atkins. South Beach. Cabbagesoup? Sprinkling “Sensa” on your food? Please. Give me a break. I call those diets the “hop on hop off” diets. One month you’re diligently following all its rules that deprive you of flavour and zest and the next you come crashing through the doors of junk food ‘heaven’ sitting on your sofa eating a tub of ice cream with a side of chips because you feel drained of energy, hungry and oddly unsatisfied.

Yet, some of us still want to rock gorgeous bodies at 65 like Candice Bergen or move like Florence Henderson on “Dancing with the Stars” at the age of 76. How do you get there, you ask? Easy. You change your lifestyle. Slowly, but surely.  

First things first, eliminate sugary drinks and deserts from your diet. Processed foods and drinks add extra calories and zero nutrition. Remember, just like you wouldn’t put regular gas in a Ferrari, you don’t put cheap, processed food in your body.  You don’t have to cut sugar out completely, but start cutting slowly. If you drink three cans of soda per day, decrease it to two. Rather than putting two spoons of sugar in your coffee, cut it down to one and a half. If you have a super-sweet tooth, try making things at home ahead of time so that you can control the amount of sugar that goes in your food. Slowly you will start noticing a gradual change in your habits. 

Next, protein, protein, protein! We always hear this from the men in our lives who want thick cuts of steak and big pieces of chicken. Truth is, protein helps to keep you fuller longer and, thus, keeping you satisfied throughout your day. Not only that, but protein helps in muscle tissue repair which you especially need if you are working out. Make sure to consume lean cuts of beef, chicken breast, eggs and fish during each of your meals. Try to keep it to the size of your palm for portion control. If you are a vegetarian, try to consume a variety of beans and lentils to obtain your protein requirements. 

Carbohydrates are an essential source of energy and, quite frankly, the fastest source, as well. Vegetables should be your primary source of carbohydrates. Not only do they provide your body with a steady source of energy but they are full of nutrients your body needs, low in calorie and a good source of fibre. But what about the other stuff? Ah, yes. Every girl loves her pasta and bread. However, the sugar converting substances we’re used to can add a lot to the developing tire around our waists. Thus, make this your mantra: make half of your grains whole. Replace your containers of white rice with brown rice, regular pasta with whole wheat and white bread with whole wheat bread. Not only will you feel satisfied longer, your digestive system will thank you for it! 

Consume fats. Wait. Fats? Surely that can’t make you lose weight?! Guess again. I’m talking about the healthy kind that our bodies need in order to function and our brains need as a protective shield. You get this fat from nuts, nut butters and vegetable oils such as canola or olive oil. Limit your daily intake to about ¼ cup of nuts, 1 tbsp of a nut butter of your choice, and one 1 tbsp of olive or canola oil. 

 Thus, let’s try not to jump on the bandwagon of fad diets and try to change our lifestyles for the better. You will not only trim your waist but you will develop healthy habits that will last you and your family a lifetime. 

Sidrah Abood obtained her Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology with a focus in Human Nutrition and Health from the University of Houston. She has worked with the Children’s Nutrition Research Center at the Baylor College of Medicine as well as at the Texas Obesity Research Center in Houston, Texas. Her goal is to educate people about the importance of eating healthy and the dangers of obesity through the art of writing. She has published articles on, eHow and Associated Content from Yahoo.

Monday, October 3, 2011

A little update

I miss blogging and try to do it as often as possible. The past month has been so extremely busy. Alhumdulillah. I am excited to share some upcoming projects with you all.

For starters...

I am excited to share that I have joined Discover Birth a program that works out of the Scarborough Hospital. I will still work independently but thought this would be a great opportunity to consider part time. The Scarborough Hospital is one of the most ethnically diverse in the region. I absolutely feel the need to be there for women who were facing difficulties because of language barriers or a lack of understanding of cultural/religious practices. I hope to help bridge the gap for these families and help the birth be a healthy and memorable experience. 
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