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.  
Fighting Flu Season With A Newborn

It seems that every other person who comes through our doors at the moment has a holiday cold or flu story. So many Christmases and New Years were ruined by snot, coughs, fevers, vomit and aches. Some of ours were too! Argh! It’s proving a rough winter…. and sadly it’s not over yet! With the kids now back in school, we all just seem to be waiting for round 2 to strike….(*crosses every finger and toe*)

Getting sick is no fun for anyone, but let’s be honest, as a parent of a little one, you’d face 20 flus back to back if it meant that your babies could escape it. Especially if they are in their early months. Small tiny bundles with their shiny new immune systems + a flu ridden season = high anxiety!

While it’s impossible to shield them from all germs, (it’s inevitable they will get a cold at some point!) there are still plenty of things you can do to try and keep trips to your doctor to a minimum this winter.

  • THE FIRST TWO MONTHS: If you can avoid crowded places during this time, then do! Not always easy if you have more than one kid and need to pick up, drop off, run errands etc. But the truth is, pre the first round of immunizations at two months, it’s better to be cautious and limit mass public exposure. If someone else offers to help you with your schedule, LET THEM! If you do venture out, try wearing the baby, as people are less inclined to coo closely when baby is attached to you.
  • JUST SAY NO – Everyone wants to come and meet the new baby in the early adorable weeks, and are working to their own busy schedules. BUT, don’t hold back in telling family and friends to wait. Especially if they have had anyone in their house struck with any bugs. Even if they promise just to pop in and have no cuddles….just say no!
  • KEEP ON NURSING – If you are choosing to breastfeed and are able, studies show that breastfeeding can help keep some winter bugs at bay. Even if you are sick yourself, keep nursing! Thank you magical milk antibodies – that extra line of defense can really make a difference!
  • SUDS AND SANITIZER- Plant hand wash, anti-bacterial wipes and sanitizer all over the house for you and guests to use – and keep extra in your car and purse should you need it on the go to clear up a sneaky sneeze, or wipe down a shopping cart, etc.
  • LOOK AFTER YOU – that ol’ chestnut or new motherhood myth! But in this case, it’s really true. Prioritize your own health, rest, and keep boosting your own immune system to try and fend off those unwelcome germs. If you do get struck with a bug (hugs from us), ADMIT DEFEAT! Don’t try to be a super hero and keep doing it all. Step back, accept help if offered – if possible pump your milk and have someone else take over the feeds – consider wearing a face mask, and avoid sharing any beds, pillows, blankets etc. until you have been symptom free for at least 5 days.

    Wishing we could wave a magic wand and get rid of all the yuck that is flying around, but the best we can do is wish you luck and send you all our positive vibes and energy for a happy, healthy 2018! Take care out there, guys!

Viral Video: Contractions

A loving aunt recently made a quick video for her niece, an aspiring midwife, but it’s gone far beyond its intended audience, it’s gone viral! And it’s not hard to see why! It’s honestly one of the best visual explanations of contractions and labor that we’ve ever seen. And oh so simple.

Liz Chalmers, using just a ping pong ball and a balloon, first demonstrates the difference between Braxton Hicks contractions and labor contractions, and then shows the ‘arrival moment.’

It is utterly addictive viewing – and the perfect tool for understanding what’s happening inside during labor. Chalmers said it was something she was taught in a workshop called ‘Stomp Out Boring Childbirth classes.’ (High five to that, and LOVE the name!).

This simple visualization can go a long way in helping moms-to-be stay calm and focused during delivery – because understanding what their body is doing, and why, can help them feel in control.

Like people often feel about childbirth, it looks seemingly impossible at first to get the ping pong ball out of the balloon….you sit there just waiting for the balloon to pop! But it doesn’t. Slowly, steadily and surely, that little ping pong ball makes it way down the neck of the balloon, which first ‘thins’ out just as a cervix does, and then starts dilating until one last push…. And voila. A ping pong ball is born.

Like Chalmers suggests, it’s not just a great exercise for moms-to-be, it’s also a neat and unintimidating way to show older kids how babies arrive – and just how phenomenal the female body is!

Here’s hoping that Liz makes some more videos after this triumph! What a cool aunt.

The Second Trimester

The second trimester is just the BEST! And for a number of reasons:

  • That daily dose of nausea that plagued you throughout the first trimester starts to fade (though sadly, not for everyone)
  • Your energy levels should start to rise – hello, old you, welcome back!
  • You can finally let the cat out of the bag (if you haven’t already) and share your happy news in some ridiculously adorable or creative way
  • You get a legit cute bump now – you no longer have to feel and look a little extra chubby.
  • OMG! You can find out the sex of your little bean! (if you want to know that is…)
  • AND you will start to feel little flutters or ‘quickening’ and then full on kicks in T2, – perhaps any day now – AKA, the best and weirdest feeling in the world!

See, there’s a LOT to love in Weeks 13-27 of your pregnancy. It’s no wonder they call it the ‘Honeymoon Period.’

BUT, with the cute comes the new… and by new we mean, even MORE body changes and a whole new batch of symptoms:

Belly & Back Aches – a result of your growing uterus and the extra weight you are carrying around, many women experience abdominal ‘stretching’ aches and back pains in the second trimester. You can help ease the pressure by sleeping with a pillow tucked between your legs, wearing low-heeled and all-too sensible shoes with good arch support, and our favorite – a MASSAGE! Ask your partner to gently rub the sore spots, or better still, treat yourself to a pregnancy massage.

Skin Changes – With your stretching aches can come stretch marks. Though not always, we’ve seen plenty of full term bellies without them. While you definitely start to see and feel that pregnant glow in T2, an increase in melanin can also cause brown marks on the face, known as the ‘mask of pregnancy’ as well as a ‘linea nigra’ – a dark line down the middle of the abdomen. If you do get any of these, then don’t worry, wear them with pride (your body is INCREDIBLE!). Most markings will fade after birth. In the meantime, just remember to use a good sunscreen – your skin is more sensitive to the sun while pregnant!

Breathlessness – at this stage of pregnancy, it is not uncommon to feel out of breath when doing everyday tasks. Relax, it is perfectly normal  – it’s just getting a little crowded for your lungs inside! Take it as another reminder to start slowing down!

Strange Dreams – Just as your body is physically processing a lot right now, so is your mind! There is a lot to wrap your head around pre-birth – and more than likely, you have advice and opinions coming at you from all directions. This can lead to a few odd or anxious dreams.

Sex drive – Feeling a little friskier than usual now that your energy levels have returned? Well that’s because your body is in estrogen overdrive! Did you know that ovaries produce as much in a single day as a non-pregnant woman’s ovaries do in three years? WOW! There’s more than a few reports of multiple orgasm ‘firsts’ during this phase too, so ladies and gents, ENJOY!

Shrinking Bladder – or at least that’s how it feels. The more space your little one takes up, the less room and the more pee breaks we’re afraid. Basic math!

Appetite – You will most likely see a growth in your appetite during these weeks, but BORING KILLJOY ALERT, you’ll get reminded by most professionals that ‘eating for two’ is a myth. You only need about an extra 300-500 calories a day during the second trimester. Ironically, now your sickness has faded and you can stomach food again, you may find yourself experiencing heartburn. TYPICAL! This is because your digestion has slowed down and food is staying in your stomach for longer, triggering more acid. Baby then puts pressure on said stomach, increasing the chance of acid being pushed up in to the esophagus. Boooo! If it gets too unbearable, check in with your health care advisor to see what they recommend.

By the end of your second trimester, you’ll have around a 2lb little human in that ever expanding belly of yours. You’ll probably wonder at just how much bigger you are going to get. Well, just wait and see. The next 12 weeks are all completely different again, with new rules, symptoms and changes. But that’s children in a nutshell really, just when you think you are have mastered something, it all changes, there’s a new phase and something completely different to learn. Welcome to the never ending school of parenthood!