Stroll Into Springtime (Part 2)

Your North County Guide to Stroller-Friendly Ways to Enjoy Spring, continued

Spring is here and here comes the sun! Along with that opens a seemingly endless amount of opportunities to go outdoors and enjoy our San Diego landscape. Never fear, us at Babies in Bloom have weeded through the trailheads and walking paths throughout North County and come up with a tailored list of our favorite places to soak up some Vitamin D with your little ones.

For the second part of our series, our theme is “Choose Your Own Adventure.” Our featured location features multiple trails to choose from depending on your time constraints, physical aptitude, and baby portability.

San Elijo Lagoon (Solana Beach/Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA) –  Seven Open Trails, Seven Total Miles!

Check out each individual trail for directions and address.

The San Elijo Lagoon is one of the most diverse coastal wetlands in San Diego County. Its biodiversity offers a little bit of something for everyone, from trail enthusiasts to families with small children, photographers to bird watchers. The reserve spans nearly 1,000 acres and houses seven trails to choose from (and that only includes the ones that are currently open).

Nature Center Loop – EASY: One Mile Double Loop

2710 Manchester Avenue, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA 92007
Free & Stroller & Baby Carrier-Friendly, Dog-Friendly

Looking for an easy trail to walk with a stroller or a wobbly toddler? Look no further than the Nature Center Loop. This mile-long double loop of smooth trail features up close and personal views of the San Elijo Lagoon, where you will likely see many various bird species and maybe even fish splashing in the water.

This time of year, all the native San Diego plants are in bloom and thriving, making the views while you stroll all the more captivating. Scattered along the trail are benches that you can use to rest, breastfeed, have a little snack, or just take a few deep much-needed mom breaths before you continue.

An added bonus to the Nature Center Loop is that it begins and ends with…you may have guessed, a nature center! Think of this nature center as a mini museum that is free to the public and kid-friendly. In fact, it’s exhibits are made with kids in mind. Open daily from 9 am to 5 pm, this center features some living animals, displays that detail the history of the reserve lands, educational tips for conservation, and more. This is a place that your children can enjoy and learn from as they continue to grow. If that’s not enough of a hard sell, the Nature Center also includes outside picnic-style tables that you can have lunch on, restrooms, and with its two levels, offer expansive ocean and coastal views.

Fun fact: the Nature Center platinum certified by LEED (U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), which means that the entire two-story building is made from recycled materials and relies on solar energy, natural light and ventilation! On top of all that, the water used to irrigate the landscape is recycled!

Rios Avenue Trail – EASY: Multiple One-Way Trails (Rios to I-5: 1.16 miles, Rios to El Camino Real: 2.86 miles, Rios to Pole Road: .96 mile; Gemma Parks Trail: 1.0 loop)

Directions: I-5 to Lomas Santa Fe exit, West on Lomas Santa Fe, Right on Rios Avenue, Drive to end of Rios Avenue, with street parking available

Free & Baby-Carrier Friendly (Stroller not recommended), Dog-Friendly

The Rios Avenue Trail actually features multiple trails depending on which direction and distance you are willing to go. If you’re looking for an easy one-mile loop, just east of the beginning of the Rio trailhead is the Gemma Parks Trail. Once you finish the loop, you can choose to continue further to explore the rest of the trails, just know that you’ll have to turn around to get back to where you started versus a simple loop.

The Rios Avenue Trails to include Gemma Parks Trail is also a relatively smooth walking trail. Since there is a little bit of a bumpy slope at the start of Rios Trail as it starts at the end of a residential street, this might be a good trail to wear your little one. If you want to make it work with a stroller, you can carry your baby down to the start of the trail and have someone else carry the stroller down separately. Not recommended if you are going it alone with a small child unless you wear them (or they can walk relatively independently).  

The views and landscape of the Rios Avenue Trail will be very similar to the Nature Center Loop, but you will get more of the lagoon, and are able to enjoy the coastal lands from a different perspective. Like the Nature Center Loop, you will also find benches and shaded areas where you can stop for a bit, but no picnic tables or facilities, so plan accordingly!

Another feature of the Rios Avenue Trail, you can catch a peak of the Annie’s Canyon Trail, the most strenuous of trails San Elijo Lagoon has to offer.

Annie’s Canyon Trail – MODERATE TO STRENUOUS: One Way, From N. Rios Ave. (0.6 miles), Annie’s Canyon (0.25 miles)

Directions: I-5 to Lomas Santa Fe exit, West on Lomas Santa Fe, Right on Rios Avenue, Drive to end of Rios Avenue, with street parking available

Free & Baby-Carrier Friendly *WITH A BUDDY* (Stroller not recommended)

If you’re looking for a walk that is a little bit strenuous, a lotta bit unique, and a tad adventurous, Annie’s Canyon Trail is a must on your Wish List. It’s such a short length that you don’t need to set aside your whole day to explore, but is such a wild experience, you will feel like you are no longer in San Diego County. Take our words for it, this is a place you have to see to believe.

The location is believed to have been a spiritual place for the Kumeyaay, the original native inhabitants of San Diego County. This fact only helps add to the sense of wonder of this space. During one part of the switchbacks, you’ll get to go into a hollowed out cave that was believed to be a shelter for the Kumeyaay!

There are two ways to experience Annie’s Canyon: (1) the moderate way takes you up to a beautiful overlook and you can do it while wearing a baby easily (2) the strenuous way with narrow switchbacks. If you are claustrophobic, proceed with caution!  

We have to admit, we haven’t experimented scaling the strenuous path, with its steep and narrow incline in the canyon, with a baby carrier. If you are interested in trying this out with babes in tow, maybe bring a buddy or make it a family affair. That way, if it’s too tough, or you’re not comfortable going up with the baby, you can take turns. Just proceed slowly and cautiously. Again, since it’s such a short trailhead, you have that luxury as long as you have a couple adults on hand. We don’t want to ruin the surprise of the experience, but the sandstone walls of the canyon eventually leads up to some steep and narrow switchbacks that can be tricky to maneuver. We’ve spotted young children scaling this with glee as well as senior citizens, so do not be intimidated!

Once you reach the top of the trail, enjoy the overlook for a few minutes and get an expansive view of the lagoon and Pacific Ocean from 200-feet above sea level!  

Insider Tips:

  • Dogs are allowed on all trails except Annie’s Canyon so plan accordingly.
  • Parking at the Nature Center is limited so we recommend visiting this trail on a weekday.
  • The First Sunday of each month is Family Fun Day at the Nature Center from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm.
  • Remember, this is a nature reserve which means that the land is protected! Resist the temptation to walk off trail and be sure to not disturb the plants or wildlife you may see.
  • If you have allergies, consider taking any remedies or medication beforehand to help ward off the sniffles and itchy eyes!
  • Bring plenty of water! It gets hot, ya’ll. Also be sure to wear hats, sunscreen, and anything else to protect from the sun. There are some shaded areas, but most of the trails have good stretches of direct sunlight.
  • Check out these pamphlets for information about the plants and animals that live on the reserve. Great learning resources for parents and children alike! Rios Trailhead & San Elijo Brochure
  • Notice a lot of construction around the lagoon? The San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy is in the middle of a multi-phase Restoration Project, which explains the construction and closed trails. Interested in learning more? Check out this page.  
Why BabyFest is the Easiest Parenting Decision You’ll Have to Make

It takes a village to raise a child, so the proverb goes. If you have been a parent for more than a minute, you would probably agree.

Parenting is hard. It’s difficulty often lies in the constant decision making that goes along with the territory. By some estimates, the average adult makes some 35,000 decisions per day. Adulting while parenting must increase that amount tenfold. From the moment you get that first positive pregnancy test, you have to be ready to make decisions regarding everything from prenatal testing to birth plans.

When it comes to preparing for labor, do you go with Hypnobabies, the Bradley Method, or are the classes offered at the hospital sufficient?

Do you want a more natural birth experience? Do you choose a birth center, or home birth? Can you still give birth in a hospital and get a comparable experience?

Should you get a doula? What does a doula do anyways?

What about saving the placenta? Should you try encapsulation? Is it safe? Did you know there are other ways to consume the placenta?

What is your opinion about delayed clamping, skin-to-skin, antibiotic eye ointment, and circumcision?

Are you interested in cord banking?

Once the baby arrives and you’re on your own, will you go with disposables or cloth?

Cloth? Okay, will you use all-in-one’s, prefolds, or inserts?

Will you wear your baby? Sling, wrap or carrier?

What about your stroller? There are like 1,000 to choose from at Target alone. They surely must be different from one another and have their own special feature, right? Why do they all look the same?

Don’t even get us started on car seats.

What will you do if you experience trouble breastfeeding? Do you know how to contact a lactation specialist? If you need to supplement, will you use donor milk or formula?

Did you get your breast pump already? Did you know your insurance should cover it? Why do you even need a breast pump? When do you start pumping? Do you even NEED to pump?

Trying to breastfeed but can’t get comfortable? Let’s get a nursing pillow…but which one?

When your baby is ready for solids (Wait, when is baby really ready for solids?), do you go with purées or baby-led weaning?

When it comes to self-soothing tools, pacifier or not? What about a lovie? To swaddle or not to swaddle?

Time for sleep training? Will you Ferber or Sleep Lady Shuffle? Why is everyone saying NO to cry it out? Why is everyone ELSE telling you to do cry it out?

Overwhelmed yet? Do you even know what everything referenced above is? Even if you do, you aren’t out of the clear. The decisions don’t end there.

Our generation of parents is both blessed and cursed with the endless amount of choice there is out there. Yelp doesn’t always cut it, and how much time do you really have to read and sift through Amazon reviews before clicking your wallet away? Furthermore, by now, you probably are well aware that the combination of baby plus Internet is a rabbit hole you DO NOT want to go down.

Sure, part of parenting is trial and error, but what about that village we mentioned in the beginning? Aren’t the people in your village there to help save some of that wasted “trial and error” time? Can’t we learn from their mistakes?

What does your village look like? Does it include your parents, partner, closest friends, siblings, cousins, and other neighborhood moms? Sure, they and more of your extended family are all vital parts of that ecosystem.

But why not also your local birth center, lactation specialists, yoga instructors, midwives, baby-wearing specialists, car seat experts, sleep coach, doulas and more? Imagine how amazing and functional that village looks.

This is why Baby Fest descends upon Babies in Bloom each year. Whether you are a new parent, just learned you are expecting, have a second (third or fourth on the way), or are an extended family member looking for a way to help some soon-to-be parents find their footing, the opportunity to explore all things BABY in one location over a six-hour period cannot be beat. As an attendant, you also get the added peace of mind in knowing that every product, expert, and service there is vetted by the Babies in Bloom team, and has received their seal of approval.

Doctors go to medical conferences. Teachers go to professional development seminars. Why shouldn’t parents attend their own expo to get up to speed on the latest and greatest resources, merchandise and services for their families?

Still not convinced? We hear there will be food trucks, prizes, and Babies in Bloom will be donating proceeds from the event to a great cause.

Expand your village Saturday, April 14. For more info, visit: http://www.babies-in-bloom.com/babyfest/

Babywearing Consultations Available

If you would like to learn more about how a carrier works, Babies in Bloom employees are happy to answer your questions and demonstrate its use with our specially weighted babywearing doll. If you would like to try on carriers with your child, please make an appointment for a Fitting or Consultation with one of our Certified Babywearing Educators (who have received specialized training and certification from the Center for Babywearing Studies).

Why schedule a consultation? At Babies in Bloom, the safety and comfort of you and your little one are our top concern. We want to ensure adequate time to educate you on the proper use of the carriers we carry. By setting up an appointment with a Certified Babywearing Educator, you will be getting our undivided attention, as well as all the information you need to know that your baby is being worn correctly and safely. We look forward to helping you “carry on!”

Pregnant? Feel free to attend a 101 class or schedule a consultation. Gaining the information to baby is a fantastic way to set yourself up for babywearing success once baby has arrived.

What we offer:

Babywearing 101 Class: 2nd Saturday of every month- $10 (receive a $10 gift card for attending) This class is for those who have little to no babywearing knowledge and would like a quiet classroom in which to discover and understand the different types and workings of carriers. Our goal is for you to feel comfortable and informed with all of your options, to make the best decision for your family. During the class, you will have the opportunity to learn the individualized benefits of each type of carrier- ring slings, woven wraps, stretchy wraps, mei tais, and soft-structured carriers – as well as ask any questions you have regarding babywearing. The instructor will demonstrate each carrier from start to finish, so you leave with an understanding of which carrier will suit your family best.

Consultations: $40 for one hour (consultation fee applied toward the purchase of a carrier within 30 days.) Interested in babywearing, but have no idea where to begin? Prefer to learn one-on-one instead of a in a classroom environment? Wherever you are in your babywearing journey, this consult will suit your needs! Our certified babywearing consultants will work with you to determine which style of carrier will likely suit you best. From there, try on the different brands and find what you love. Finally, learn how to properly put on and take off the carrier. In other words, this consult time is designed to be a one-stop shop for all your babywearing needs.

Fittings: $15 for 15 minutes (fitting fee applied toward the purchase of a carrier within 30 days.) Want to try on a specific carrier to better understand fitting? Heard about the ring sling just not sure? Have a stretchy wrap for a newborn but wondering where to go next? If you’re hoping to try one of our carriers with the guidance of a trained staff member, a fitting is the best choice for you. Our staff will work to fit you with the carrier of your choice so that you are prepared to bring your carrier home! Practical application will employ the use of a weighted doll. Once we are confident in your babywearing abilities, we will guide you through proper usage with your child.

As your baby grows, the use of your carrier may change as well. Receive free lifetime assistance with any carrier purchased at BiB.

baby-wearing-consultations