Archive for October, 2014

Avoid the Wipe Recall: Make Your Own Baby Wipes!

Friday, October 31st, 2014

Make Your Own WipesYou have probably heard about the recent recall of baby wipes made by Nutek Disposables and sold at ten different popular stores. Whether or not you were using these brands, it certainly makes you stop and think about the potential dangers of disposable products. If you are looking for a safer and cheaper alternative to commercial baby wipes, here are some great options to try!

If you use cloth diapers and were using disposable wipes, perhaps this is the nudge you needed to try cloth wipes. In my opinion, it is easiest to match the wipes you use with the diapering system you use. Cloth wipes and cloth diapers were a no-brainer for us.

There are many cloth diaper brands that sell cloth wipes for great prices. A couple of my favorites are Thirsties and Bum Genius wipes. If you prefer to make your wipes yourself, just buy or repurpose a bit of flannel, cotton, sherpa, terry cloth, or velour. All they need is either a turned and top stitched edge or a serged edge and they are good to go. Another option is to repurpose those soft baby washcloths as cloth diaper wipes. The soft baby terry cloth is perfect for a wipe.

If you use disposable diapers then it makes the most sense to make a disposable wipe. I’ve seen many recipes for homemade wipes solution around and all of them use sturdy paper towels as the wipe source. Some recipes recommend Bounty paper towels and some recommend Viva paper towels. Once you choose a roll, just use a sharp knife and cut it into either thirds or halves depending on what size wipes container you will be using. Then, just set the paper towel roll into the container, pour over your solution, and let it absorb. Most people recommend taking out the cardboard center as a way to “start” the dispensing action of the roll.

Whether you use cloth or disposable wipes you will want some sort of wipe solution to go with them. I’ve found a couple different recipes to recommend, depending on what ingredients you want to try or have on hand. A recipe written by Kitchen Stewardship uses castile soap or natural baby soap, tea tree essential oil, white vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil. I really like the use of tea tree in this because it will keep bacteria from growing (unlike the recalled disposable brands!).

This recipe at Southern Savers just uses coconut oil and baby soap or castile soap, so if you need a quick one with items you probably have on hand this one sounds great. This one at Wellness Mama has the most ingredients, but I really like her use of Witch Hazel Extract and Aloe Vera as skin soothers. She also uses castile soap, EVOO, essential oils for scent, and Grapefruit Seed Extract is her oil of choice for antibacterial properties.

Thankfully despite the baby wipes recall there are a lot of safe options out there that you can make right at home. Keep your baby safe from the bacteria-filled commercial disposable products and make your own!

Becca Schwartz is a cloth diapering, baby wearing, semi-crunchy mama to a toddler girl and baby boy. She and her husband have a small mini-farm with a flock of chickens, a few goats, and rabbits, and are making plans to move out west to start a homesteading adventure together!

How to Buy a Year Of Toddler Clothes for Around $100

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

How to Buy a Year of Toddler CLothes for Around $100Buying clothes for babies and toddlers can be a very expensive prospect each season. If you buy new clothing you can easily rack up a very large total for each child. There are definitely ways to keep costs down however–I manage to spend only about $100 per child per year! Here is my strategy for buying kids clothes.

Buy Used: The biggest part of my strategy is to buy used clothes. This might change as they get older, but at least through the baby and toddler years it works great. Babies and toddlers are just not that hard on their clothes because of how quickly they move through the sizes. You can get clothes that look new for a small fraction of the new price! I have purchased about 98 percent of my kids’ clothes second hand and have always been able to find nice looking clothing items.

Go to local Mom To Mom sales: We have a whole bunch of Mom-to-Mom sales in our area. Generally there are multiple locations in the spring and again in the fall. I just picke one venue and plan on going to both the spring and fall sales there. Once there, I just look for people who are selling the season and size that I need and buy a whole bunch at once. If you are buying a lot of clothes from one person it is really easy to offer a bundle price and get a better deal on each clothing item. You can search this site to find a seasonal consignment sale in your area.

Skip sizes: Another thing I do with kids’ clothes is skip certain sizes. Which sizes you skip just depends on how your kid grows, so it’s not a hard and fast recommendation, just what has worked for us. Both of my kids grew fast and were tall enough that I skipped the 12-month size and went straight from 9 month to 18 month. This meant that I could use the 18-month clothing for a solid two seasons, saving me the cost of a whole size.

Basics, layers, and minimalism: I buy a lot of t-shirts, onesies, and neutral looking pants. That way for the winter season I can continue to use all of the basic layers and just add cute sweaters, cardigans, or hoodies. I also keep the number of clothing pieces I buy to a minimum. I realized early on with my daughter that she generally wears 4-5 favorites all the time and the other clothes stay in the drawer. Now I buy less and she wears them all, saving me time and money!

Continue to buy gender neutral: If you have children of both genders, continue to buy basics in neutral colors so that your next child can put them to use too. I had a girl first and then a boy, so for his smaller sizes I had to buy a whole new wardrobe. Now that I have a boy though, my shopping strategy for my daughter has changed. I still buy her cute dresses and girly outfits, but since she is really into dinosaurs and construction trucks I have also started shopping the boy sections in her size as well. T-shirts, long sleeve shirts, sweaters, hoodies, and pjs are all very interchangeable for boys and girls at the toddler age!

Using these strategies I have successfully gotten through three years of baby and toddler clothing purchases and spent around $100 per child per year.

Becca Schwartz is a cloth diapering, baby wearing, semi-crunchy mama to a toddler girl and baby boy. She and her husband have a small mini-farm with a flock of chickens, a few goats, and rabbits, and are making plans to move out west to start a homesteading adventure together!

The Fourth Trimester: Cloth Diapering from Day One

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014
The Fourth Trimester: Cloth Diapering from Day One

10 lb, 4-day-old baby boy in Lil Joey Newborn All-in-One Cloth Diapers in pumpkin

I’ve had my eye on Lil Joey Newborn All-in-One Cloth Diapers for a long time now. So when I got pregnant with my fourth child, I was super excited to order a two-pack for my own little wee one. We didn’t know baby’s gender so I went with gender-neutral colors crimson and pumpkin.  Now for those of you who have ordered cloth diapers before know the excitement of getting fluffy mail! The day my diapers arrived was a happy day. They looked so itty bitty to me; super soft and fluffy! They were completely perfect for a newborn. I was really looking forward to cloth diapering my new baby from his very first diaper.

Sometimes even pro cloth diaper people will be discouraging about cloth diapering a newborn from day one. Some of the reasons range from the issue of meconium, to how quickly babies outgrow their newborn stash, to how much work newborns are. I would like to offer some simple and inexpensive solutions to these obstacles.

Meconium – Meconium is a baby’s first stool. It is dark green, almost black in color and is very thick and sticky. Some people prefer to use disposables until all the meconium is passed, typically within the first days. The thought is that meconium might be hard to clean or will possibly stain cloth diapers. Personally I have had no issues with washing meconium from cloth diapers, nor has it ever stained my diapers. However if you were really concerned about diapers being difficult to clean or staining, there are some easy fixes. One option would be to use disposable diaper liners.  These also come in super handy when baby starts eating solid foods.  Another option would be to make your own inexpensive cloth liners. I bought some clearance fleece and cut it into strips to place inside our cloth diapers– Inexpensive diaper liners that you can wash! Although you won’t feel bad about tossing one if for some reason you cannot salvage it.

Investing in a newborn stash – We all know how quickly newborns grow. How often do we hear a new mom say, “He/She never even got to wear most of his/her newborn clothes more than once!” For this reason some people are hesitant to invest in a newborn cloth diaper stash. However there are several ways to build an affordable newborn stash. My very favorite cloth diapers for newborns are prefolds.  Prefolds are generally the most economic cloth diaper choice and are truly multi-functional as they can also be used as an insert for pocket diapers.  Prefolds with one-size covers are a wonderfully affordable cloth diaper option for newborns. I will be honest: It is nice to throw in a few newborn all-in-ones (such as Lil Joey Newborn All-in-One Cloth Diapers) into your stash for outings or special events but it is not at all necessary. You can easily get away with a newborn stash consisting of all prefolds.   Another option is to use one-size cloth diapers that grow with baby or pre-loved diapers.

Keeping up with washing diapers – Are cloth diapers more work than disposables? Yes. Are they a ton of more work than disposables? Not really. For me it amounts to a couple extra loads of laundry a week. An ample cloth diaper stash should allow you to go at least 2 days between washings. You will likely burn out quickly if you have to wash your diapers daily. I generally go about 3 days between washes. I find the economic and ecological benefits of cloth to be well worth 2 to 3 extra loads of laundry per week.

Overnight OptionsOften it takes a little experimenting to find a good overnight cloth diaper solution, especially for newborns due to the frequency of dirty diapers.  This is where I think woolies are awesome! Wool is hands down the best night time diaper cover I have used. Finding a night time cloth diaper for your newborn doesn’t mean you will get through the whole night without a diaper change, but might help you get through longer stretches of time if you find something extra absorbent.

Keep in mind that cloth diapering doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing commitment. Some families find a balance of cloth and disposables for them. For example some might use disposables overnight and/or for outings and then cloth diaper the rest of the time. Some families might opt to use disposables when someone else is caring for their baby and then cloth diaper the rest of the time. Like most things in life, finding a rhythm that works for your family is the most important factor. Our cloth diapering habits have evolved and changed over time as our family grows and we adapt to the season of life we are experiencing.

Sarah Johnson is a crunchy mama to four boys. Her family feels blessed to currently live abroad in the Netherlands and enjoy exploring all it has to offer. 


You Might be the Parent of a Toddler if…

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014
  1. You might be the parent of a toddler if...You’ve ever hidden somewhere in your house to eat something just so you didn’t have to share it.
  2. You’ve ever used a parenting problem-solving strategy on your spouse.
  3. You’ve ever thought that pretty much ANYONE else could do a better job with children than you.
  4. You’ve ever backed silently out of a room when you discovered your toddler was happily playing alone.
  5. Your friends/family have ever been surprised to see your toddler clothed.
  6. You have strong feelings about Daylight Savings Time.
  7. You always have wipes. Always.
  8. You’ve ever excused yourself from a group of adults by announcing you had to go potty.
  9. You consider it a huge victory to leave the house with your toddler in clothing that is situationally and seasonally appropriate.
  10. One word always makes you smile: Bedtime!

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three whose toddlers have made her an expert at laughing when she could be crying.  

Pregnancy Week 25: Hair, Hair, Everywhere!

Monday, October 27th, 2014

photo.JPGHair growth and pregnancy–boy oh boy do they ever go hand in hand. As this week rounds out to a close I’ve noticed my hair is flowing much more than usual; with long, thick dark locks flowing down my back. While I’m enjoying this aspect of pregnancy, I’m not enjoying the other areas the hair is rapidly growing–namely my legs.

I’ve been using coconut oil to shave my legs and it has been working beautifully. With the changing seasons, my skin tends to dry out easily and adding this extra layer of moisture and protection has really increased the suppleness of my shins and thighs. Not to mention having less razor burn! In a few weeks I know I won’t be doing a very good job of shaving anything, so I take what pleasure I can from small victories.

This week I have been working on the baby’s nursery and cleaning up the crib from my last baby. That little boy is a messy guy and he really did a number on that poor old crib. I’m a very nostalgic person and as I clean up the room and furniture I keep thinking about how these pieces will have held and comforted all three of my  babies. It isamazing how looking at a piece of furniture can bring a special warmth to your heart–thinking of the differences and similarities of the beings that shared that space. The same goes for clothing–the blankets, diapers, shirts and pants that clothe these little creatures as they grow. I have a hard time letting go of these items as they are so dear to me–remembering one crawling in jammies, or another pulling up in those pants. Or how one would squeal with joy at the special blanket. Motherhood definitely pulls at the nostalgic heartstrings, and this time around I am wading very thickly in the swamp.

I have also been cutting and pinning a few extra special pieces for this newborn–some easy-to-sew baby pants, a few hats to knit and some wool felt booties. A little bit of handmade goodness for this little babe who will be here so very soon.

Pia Watzig is a stay at home mama to soon to be three little boys. She lives, loves and creates in Portland, Oregon.