Friday, January 28, 2011

Fun (and not-so-fun) with Bean: Treasure Hunt and Alphabet Bags


A friend of mine sent me over to Counting Coconuts a few weeks ago to check out her Alphabet Box.  Over the past few months, Bean has been more and more into letters and learning the sounds they make.  He goes to preschool two mornings a week and they learn a letter a week. That, combined with Bean's love of reading and words (both of which are loves he shares with his father and grandfather), has had him asking what letter various words start with.  He's pretty good at it!  He knows the phonics for half the alphabet (more or less?).

So I thought he would really like an alphabet box, and I also thought we could make an adventure out of it.  Yesterday we went to the hardware store in search of drawers and some small hardware items that started with the right sounds.  They didn't have any drawers that would work, but we bought a "ssssssssscrew! a nnnnnnnnnail! a w-w-w-w-washer!  and a b-b-b-bolt!"

Then we headed to Hobby Lobby to see what else we could find.  Again, no drawers or other storage that would work, but we found some clear plastic bags - and I figured Bean could learn to open and close them, which would be a bonus.  Bean picked out a sheet of letter stickers (they're somewhat stylized letters - Bean commented that some letters are "funny-looking).  And then we set out looking for little objects to put in our bags!

First we found the button section and bought a pack of vehicle buttons - a police car, a truck, a motorcycle, a firetruck, etc.  Then we hit the mother load!  I had no idea there was a miniatures section!!

We picked up a packet of miniature fruit and vegetables, a toaster and two slices of bread, a lamp, a baseball, bat, and mit, and a few other packets.

We got home and laid things out on the kitchen table.  I opened one packet at a time, Bean took out an object, and we made bags as we needed them.  He loved this.  He would pull out an object and name it, and I would emphasize the beginning sound.  Then he would shout the letter.  Sometimes it took him a little while - he'd just keep shouting "D!  D!"  And then he'd pause and shout out the right letter.

When we were all done putting the objects in the right bags, I sang the alphabet song while pointing at the bags as we lined them up in alphabetical order.  I started by singing "A" and having him find the "A" bag, then "A, B" and he found the "B" bag and put it next to the "A."  He got a little restless toward the end of the alphabet - he loved finding the letters, but he got crazy while I would sing and point.  So I dropped that and just told him what to find.  He was so proud when we had them all arranged on the table!


He spent the rest of the afternoon opening and closing a bag, and this morning has been playing with the little objects.  I need to supervise a bit so I don't end up with chokeable miniatures all over the house when Squeak gets mobile, but Bean likes finding the right bag for these things so I don't think clean-up will be a battle.

I'm using crates from clementines to store some structured activities - Bean has very little structured play/activity, though.  And he likes to combine the activities - usually with Duplos in some capacity.  So it takes some patience on my part.  He never plays with things like I expect.  He very much thinks outside the box!

Which leads to a little bit of honesty on my part - Bean was on my last nerve by the time we finished this.    At the hardware store, he insisted he needed to poop and couldn't wait, and Squeak was getting fussy but I had left the carrier in the car, so we were on borrowed time!  He had just pooped before we left the house.  He didn't need to go.  There was taking off of coat, hat, gloves and jostling of stroller for no reason. 

At home while we worked on the bags, he kept throwing bags, and they weren't closed so tiny objects were flying out at me and rolling on the ground.  And I still had a fussy baby through some of it.

By dinner, I was out of patience and Bean was a little overtired (no quiet time OR nap yesterday!) - which meant I needed a little quiet and he was shrieking.  And then he stalled like mad at bedtime and was upset and screaming when I needed to get Squeak to bed.   I had already done what I could to calm him down, but he was also suffering the consequences of one of his stalling tactics, so The Beast was not to be involved further in bedtime.  I walked calmly into Bean's room and said, "You need to be quiet now.  I am about to put Squeak to bed, and your screaming will wake him up.  If you'd like to scream, I'll put you out in the car where we can't hear you."  Instant quiet.

I swear I would have turned the car and heat on for him.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Once Upon a Time...




 Once Upon A Time I was re-born as a mother.

But Once Upon A Time - before that - I was a woman with a history of her own.  Now my stories seem to begin with my firstborn’s birth story, or maybe the story of my complicated pregnancy with him.

I realized the other day that I don’t talk about my history with my friends.  These days, I mostly spend time with moms of kids around Bean’s age, and we mostly talk about funny things the kids did, or how to handle various parenting challenges, or what is coming up that we want to do together (and usually with the kids). 

This is not necessarily a bad thing, as I have no time to dwell.  Certainly I have no time to live in the past while an almost 3-year-old is racing through the living room, asking “why??” constantly and my almost 4-month-old is insisting I shake a toy over him lest he take back his sweet smile and unleash his baby wrath.  Motherhood has hardly allowed me to think about or address my needs of today; I lose track of how long it has been since I showered (though I can tell you how long it has been since the baby’s diaper was changed), I sit nursing on the couch holding an empty water bottle (it was empty last time I nursed, too…but I forgot to refill it, or even to drink water between feedings!).
 
I am busy remembering to take care of my most basic needs in addition to two other people's – and taking quiet where I can get it.

In talking to a friend the other day (a “mom friend” who did not know me pre-kids), I started thinking how little of our lives beyond kids my friends and I have shared with each other.  Again, I think this is neither a good thing nor a bad thing.  At first, I thought maybe it was unfortunate – that these friendships must lack intimacy or depth.  But then again, these friends have seen me – and my children – in some difficult, awkward, and emotional situations!

So I guess I don’t expect my current “mom friends" – even those I consider my very close friends - to know my pre-kid history.  I certainly have pre-kid friends for those situations that require advice with longer perspective.

But there is a bit of a duality then, isn’t there?  In a sense, I was completely re-born as a mother; I have new friends, new social expectations, new responsibilities, new body image, etc.  I view myself very differently than I did three years ago – looking at pictures it seems like it was decades ago.  Perhaps lifetime ago!  But I am also still that work hard/play hard college student, that teenager lugging baggage literally and figuratively, the newlywed who lights up upon seeing her husband unexpectedly.

I am still that person, but not in many people’s eyes – including my children’s.  And the people I really think about knowing my personal history (or not) are my kids.  What will I tell them, and when?

How about you, fellow parents?  Do you feel this push and pull of identities, roles, expectations, and perceptions of you?  Do you try to reconcile them, or do you just let yourself fall into those different patterns with different people in your life?  What about when your parental role meets other parts of your life and “worlds collide?”  (Like, perhaps, your children meeting an old friend who sure could tell some stories about you!)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cry-It-Out and Trusting Each Other



Last week I read a post by Annie at PhD in Parenting that led me to a post about leaving babies to cry-it-out (CIO) to sleep. It got me thinking further about the way we mothers communicate with one another, why, what the consequences are, and whether I can do better.

What has turned into this post was initially a comment on Annie's post.  Here goes!

I think there is a lot of dishonesty from parent to parent, and even more from parents to non-parents.  I admit I am dishonest - I sugarcoat or lie by omission or degree about things like my temper and impatience and how HARD parenting really is sometimes.  I am trying to be better about it, because we (parents and future parents) deserve better.  We deserve to know what we're getting ourselves into before we have children, we deserve to know what the range of normal is for children (in sleep, eating, behavior, etc) and parental reactions to them - I think the dishonesty breeds guilt and animosity and self-doubt.

(I know, what the heck does this have to do with CIO?  I swear I'm getting there!)

Actually, when I think of CIO and the debate around it, I think specifically of another PhD in Parenting post that I have given a lot of thought to since it was posted.

There are a lot of cultural myths involved in parenting and, oddly, the myths are often completely contradictory to one another.  (A humorous illustration can be found here.)  They are upheld partly by the lack of firsthand knowledge-by-observation that a society not particularly keen on babies and children in public places seems to result in. Many of us go into our own birth-giving without ever witnessing a birth, and then go into parenting without having witnessed nitty-gritty parenting --- or having witnessed it at the grocery store and deemed it "bad parenting" when it's really just parenting out of context.  And again, the dishonesty - when we parent around other people (the babysitter, the fellow shoppers, etc) we are on our best behavior, and sometimes so are our kids!  Parenting thus seems so very black and white before you have kids!

I found the post about not asking why someone didn't breastfeed deepened my understanding of my own knee-jerk reactions to formula-feeding.  I realized that I have a level of distrust when someone says their supply disappeared or their baby self-weaned or any number of other things that are supposed to be so rare - and that I was completely undermining other mothers' confidence, not allowing myself to learn and grow in knowing them, and simply not helping when I let myself assume anything about them and what led to their choices.  I also started taking note that I distrusted what some moms told me about their children's sleep - specifically those that told me their child "just fussed" (while sounding sort of defensive or guilty about it - probably because they knew it referenced the black and white debate about CIO), and those who said their baby just went to sleep in a crib all night at x WEEKS old (or anything close to this statement, because my baby sure wasn't doing any of the above...and at almost 3 years old is still just the same - day and night - and often claims he "can't be alone.")

It seems to me now, on the topic of crying to sleep specifically, that there is a VERY broad range of what is meant by that - just like there is a really broad range of what could be meant by "I lost my supply" or "my baby weaned."  Essentially, I think there is often more to the story than "we CIO" or "we don't CIO."

I think there is very little (or maybe nothing) about parenting and all the specific parenting practices that is black and white.  It's all very nuanced.  And one decision leads to another, or one factor influences certain choices.  I always try to give parents the benefit of the doubt;  we're doing the best we can with what we've got and what we know.  And some parents do believe they "know" that their child "has" to CIO, but more because that's what society has told them than because that's what their gut says.  This is something the author of the maybe/sort-of pro-CIO post said - she was very specifically not in favor of "required" CIO.

It seemed to me in the comments I was able to read before my tired brain couldn't digest anymore that there was mainly an advocacy for following their instincts.  I would take this one step further and say that the problem isn't whether or not to let your baby cry - it's the advice that it's one or the other, black or white.  And you must subscribe to one camp or other in every situation.  What amount of crying constitutes CIO?  As a first-time mom, I was so entrenched in "not letting my baby cry" (because that was the commitment I made!) that I had a very hard time walking away even when I really should have - when I no longer had the energy or patience to comfort and parent my baby anyway!  Yes, my gut said not to let my baby cry, but it was compounded by the "crying causes brain damage" rhetoric that I am currently very uneasy about (and I'm wondering if it is the same unease that comes with the conversation about using the phrase "risks of formula" instead of the "benefits of breastfeeding").

The other issue is that some families do not have the support/set-up/resources to make work whatever their gut is telling them.  A family not getting enough sleep, no one who can facilitate a nap for the parent(s), full-time job(s), not enough space or adults to get some sleep without baby, etc, may well have to go against their instincts. 

To which I would like to use Annie's own words words from the comments because she said it so well:

"On the issue of guilt and judgment (separate comment for separate issue), we have done things as parents in some instances that we know is not the best. When we do that, we accept our limitations and know that we cannot be perfect all of the time.

"We do not, however, feel guilty because other people can and do make better choices. We also do not feel guilty when people post opinions or evidence that points to the fact that a different approach is better. If we can change for the better, we do. If we can’t we accept that."

I don't think an anecdote is really going to illustrate my thoughts any better, but I feel compelled to share it anyway!  I do happen to know a toddler who was parented to sleep for many months, and was parented back to sleep many times a night for those months.  His mother and I were zombies together!  And one night his mother left him to cry while she took a break and got a glass of water.  He fell asleep and she discovered that, that whole time, he really wanted her to leave him alone.  I think he may have done a little crying the next couple of nights - but he had slept so much better after putting himself to sleep, and my friend was having a kind of "aha" moment about her baby.  He's now almost 3 and is the same way - he doesn't really like to be touched/hugged/snuggled.  He says himself, "I no really love people..."

She continued to support me through numerous family members and even my son's pediatrician telling me my son "had" to CIO (we changed pediatricians - recommended vomiting was just too much for me).  My friend continued to advocate that I do what passed my gut check.

Beyond the gut check, if I hear someone contemplating CIO or otherwise struggling with sleep-deprivation, I might make some suggestions and see if they can find a way to get the sleep they need while also meeting what they say are their baby's nighttime needs.  But unless I am willing to step in and stay up with their baby (no thanks, I've got my own baby and toddler!), I have to respect if they decide CIO-against-the-gut-check is what they need to do.

And, of course, it is endlessly frustrating to me that we don’t have the sort of society or culture that supports parents, babies, and children in many ways – including getting adequate sleep.  Again, we do so much parenting in private.  Many of us do not feel comfortable asking for help in a situation like nighttime parenting – or, if we do, we don’t have anyone to ask unless we can pay them (like a night nurse or a postpartum doula), and then it seems decadent (don't we criticize celebrities for that?).  Most of us simply do not have a village raising our children.  In fact, for the most part, I think we're distrustful of the other potential villagers!  Someone told me once, "if you want something done right, do it yourself."  Well, parenting my kids is certainly something I want done right!

Photo Credit:  Dave Q on Flickr

Monday, January 10, 2011

Offending, Finding my Voice, Why I Blog, and a POLL

If you get bored of this post and just want me to get back onto a topic that interests you, please see the poll in my side bar and tell me what you want to read about!  You can also leave your ideas in the comments or email them to me at contentedlycrunchy@gmail.com

Offending
I had a tense phone call with a family member (I'll call her S) last week.  She was upset about some of the things I've said on my blog that she felt were indictments of her choices, lifestyle, etc.  Being two intelligent women, I think we ended up having a good talk followed by even better/clearer communications via email.  The conversation got me thinking about so many things and, as always, I'm not sure where to begin.  So I'll dive in.  I guess this post is more for context than anything.

One of the issues was nuance - nothing I've written on my blog is really as black and white as it might appear.  And I really do mean nothing.  But until S pointed it out, I didn't realize just how much nuance I was not getting at and how that could result in statements that read as stronger than I really meant them to be.  I'll try to do better, but I also make no promises.  I don't often get more than 20 minutes of uninterrupted time, my writing skills feel rusty, my thoughts about any issues are often interrupted by parenting needs.  It's just the way it goes!

(I'd just like to insert here, for the record, that I just deleted two paragraphs because I am not sure I want to discuss some things here on my blog, though they add a bit more context and nuance to this post....which leads me to the next section....)

Finding My Voice
Looking at every post title, I can come up with a list of things that I edited out for length/interest, or didn't find the time to work into the format of the post or figured I'd save for another post,  or omitted in trying not to confuse the heck out of readers that haven't known me for years.  Or there are even things that are not well-formatted or well-worded but I was tired of paining over them and just wanted to publish already!  In this way, I guess I'm still finding my voice on this blog - still deciding what I'm going to share of myself and what exactly the focus of the blog will be.

Essentially, the blog feels like an on-going project or conversation and every post feels slightly "To Be Continued..."

I mean, I've currently got the project of writing about all the cloth stuff (I haven't talked about troubleshooting and the massive pain in the ass that is yeast in a cloth diapering family, I haven't gotten to how to wash your diapers, and I have only gotten around to writing about diapers - which are, to me, sort of the most banal of the cloth possibilities because I've read about them and used them for so long - though I know several readers are waiting to hear about other things and have even emailed me!)

I spend my days doing a lot of face/hand-washing and ouchie-kissing and meal-planning and shushing and bouncing and nursing and redirecting and explaining (and re-explaining).  And then there's the laundry (which is currently epic in the face of yeast...).  This blog is just my adult thoughts for the day.  They're not springing forth fully-formed, so sometimes I need to work stuff out with other people (like all this commercialism stuff?  Writing and discussion is helping me figure out what is really bothersome, what is worth addressing, what to let go, etc.)

So, I will try to get at the nuances - and I'm sure I will eventually find and really settle on my voice and/or a narrower topic for this blog.  For now, I am glad to be writing again and dusting off my critical thinking skills on a more regular basis.  Even more so, I'm glad to be engaging in discussions with anyone who is willing!

Why I blog
I've had this list as a draft for awhile - it was something I've been musing over.  Nothing terribly earth-shattering, but this seems an appropriate place to put it (and it gets it off my draft list...)
  • a chance to be heard.  My 2-year-old certainly doesn't want to hear about this stuff, and my husband and I sometimes can't make the time or he's not terribly interested in some of the particulars :)
  • it allows me to think through some issues, but I don't have to do it all at once - I currently have 15 drafts that are unfinished....(that's also how I manage to keep a blog at all - I start them and add to them and finally finish them whenever I can)
  • I miss writing.  I have never been much of a creative writer.  I always loved writing papers in college, though.
  • I miss school, and I'm still so curious.  I research everything I think of!  (Obvious from the monotreme post, right?)
  • I have thought about monetizing my blog, but 
    • It's more important for me to engage in discussion - I don't need a business, I need a social hobby (even if it's only virtually social)
    • I don't have the traffic to make it very lucrative
    • I don't have the time/energy to devote to building readership right now
    • I would be so picky about who could advertise!  The easiest way would be to do the Google ads, I think.  But I couldn't approve who could advertise on my blog - only say categories of items that are not allowed to advertise on my blog.  I want more control than that! 
The Poll
I've added a poll (in my sidebar, just under the "About Me" section) that will stay up through Friday.  It's titles of drafts that are started in some form or other.  Let me know what you'd like to hear about next - or shoot me an email at contentedlycrunchy@gmail.com or leave a comment if you have another idea.  I figure I'd rather write what interests the most people, since they're all things that interest me.  I am working on a long post right now that I hope to have published before the weekend...then I'll tackle whatever you tell me to.

    Friday, January 7, 2011

    Letter in Response


    I returned from vacation and finally sorted through mail.  I have a response from the local pediatrician's office to the letter I wrote.

    Dear [Hippy Lady],

    I'm sorry you were offended by the stickers offered at your child's well child appointment.  Typically we try to offer just a couple options for children to choose from since that makes the decision easier.

    Not all of our stickers are licensed characters; we have fruit and baby animals and many others as we buy many different sticker collections.  Please feel free to decline the sticker at check out.

    Sincerely,
    [OMG Is there any way she actually read my letter?]

    I'm sort of tempted to send her another letter that simply says, "I'm enclosing a copy of my first letter so that you might actually read it."

    And the prospect of declining a sticker offered to my 2.5-year-old is actually laughable.  Right.  I'm going to pick that fight!

    Alas, I'm on a yeast-killing rampage (thrush and diaper rash.  Cloth diapering actually blows right about now, but that's an upcoming post) and have way way too much other stuff on my plate to take on a pen pal!

    Maybe I'll just never take Bean to the pediatrician again.  He'd be thrilled, as he always freaks out at being weighed and measured.  And, of course, he doesn't exactly beg for shots.  This would eliminate a lot of stress, fights, and appointments from my life.  If he gets really really sick, I'll take him to the ER.  The hospital has these bags o' generic treats like little Made-in-China packs of Old Maid cards.  At least I'm pretty sure they're made in China.  You just can't win.

    But that's the best solution, right?

    ::Sigh::

    Also, this is the fastest post I have ever made to this blog.  The sarcasm is flowwwwwwwing.

    Saturday, January 1, 2011

    Cloth for Baby (Cloth Diapers and Wipes)

    With cloth, I easily chose a diaper/cover that color coordinated for pictures.

    This is part of a series on all the reusable cloth stuff we're using!

    Looking for information on washing cloth diapers?  I posted about that here.
     
    I started cloth diapering when Bean was about 6 weeks old.  When I was pregnant, I planned to use disposables because I thought they were easier, less gross, more convenient, and I felt that I did plenty of other stuff to "offset" any environmental damage I would do.  Afterall, we recycle!  Convenience was probably the biggest barrier.

    When I did the math and realized how much disposables would cost us (don't ask me now, I've completely forgotten the math I did personally, but I've seen the cost quoted at about $50-80/month), and I was looking at ways I might be able to bring down household costs, I looked into cloth.  I'm so glad I did!  I did discover that cloth is much less expensive (especially if you do your own laundry, rather than use a diaper service, and even moreso if you diaper more than one kiddo!  Your exact savings will depend almost entirely on which diapering options you choose.).  And now I consider cloth easier, less gross, and more convenient.  Go figure! 

    Pros of Cloth Diapering:
    • You never have to go to the store because you're out (though some keep emergency disposables in case they get behind on laundry or need to use a cream medication that they don't want to have to strip off the diapers alter).
    • Money savings
    • Better air circulation to baby's bottom (means fewer rashes)
    • Cloth diapering is said to lead to earlier potty training because toddlers can feel the wetness.  I think it is more complex than that, though Bean did potty train pretty early (25 months during the day and by 30 months reliably overnight).
    • They're cute.  (Not a huge reason for me, but it's still true.  Great colors, prints, and you can even have diapers custom-made or make them yourself.  Undeniably fun and adorable!)
    • They're less gross, in my opinion, for a few reasons:  the clean smell (I hate the smell of disposables); they must be washed frequently, so there's little chance for them to stink up the joint (and if they're immediately stinky, there's a problem!); when you get to the disgusting poops of a solids-eating baby, you get rid of the poop immediately (flush it down the toilet) rather than storing it in a bin or making a trek to the nasty outside garbage can while you try not to puke.  (Diapering is gross no matter what!)
    • No globules of chemical gel on my baby's most delicate parts.  I don't care what the companies who make them say - it doesn't seem safe and harmless to have that stuff stuck to my baby!!
    • They have resale value!  So, even if your savings is fairly minimal in terms of purchase price of cloth versus disposables (and it's only minimal if you are using a diaper service or you buy the most expensive cloth diapers and then only use them on one baby), you will come out ahead when you sell your diapers!  Try them and hate them?  Sell them!
    Diaper types:
    When you're starting cloth diapering, it can be very overwhelming!  There are a lot of options nowadays.  Outlining options and their pros and cons got so involved that I made a chart, which you can download here (PDF).  It took me all day.  I hope someone (anyone!) will use it!

    Diaper Materials:
    After figuring out what type of diapers you'd like to try (don't commit to one kind straight out - try a couple!  You can always sell what you don't like!), consider what kind of materials you would like to use.   Here are your options for the absorbent portion of cloth diapers:
    • Cotton (organic or not, bleached or unbleached)
    • Hemp:  Better absorbency than cotton, natural antimicrobial properties.  We have some hemp doublers that we add to prefolds for nighttime use.
    • Bamboo/Bamboo Velour (Often organic):  Better absorbency than cotton, natural antimicrobial properties, very soft, very renewable resource (it grows quickly)
    • Synthetic materials (i.e. microfiber):  AVOID AVOID AVOID
    Waterproofing Materials (for covers and outers):
    • PUL - this stands for polyurethane laminate.  It's simply a thin plastic-coated material that acts as a moisture barrier, keeping pee off your lap. 
    • Fleece - fleece, in a diapering context, is polar fleece.  This is a synthetic fiber used in covers because it is breathable but very water resistant.  It is usually used for nighttime diapering.
    • Wool - wool is popular both for its for, and its function.  Wool is naturally antimicrobial and very absorbent.  You can also lanolize it to make it waterproof.  As a cover, it is very popular for heavy nighttime wetters.  You can also buy "longies" (pants), "shorties" (shorts), and skirts with built-in wool diapers - some folks will then forego a diaper altogether.  You don't need to wash wool unless it gets stinky or it gets pooped on.
    Wipes and Wipe Solution:
    You have essentially the same options for materials as the diapers (cotton flannel, bamboo, and sometimes hemp).  I'd avoid terry cloth.

    To use, I just spray wipe solution directly on the poopy bottom or directly on the wipe if I don't want to shock the baby with cold spray.  You can buy wipe solutions, but I make my own with water and a squirt of liquid castille soap.  I used to add essential oils, but I got lazy and they're not necessary.  I've also used a vinegar and water solution to treat thrush on me and yeast rashes on Squeak.  In a pinch, I've used the soap and water solution to give myself a quick wash-up, too.


    What you'll need
    Once you decide what kind of cloth diapers you want, you can figure out what all you need to buy based on this list:
    • At least 2 dozen diapers and possibly half a dozen or so covers (i.e.  a waterproofed poop and pee catching device - see below for options!) - necessity of covers depends on the type of diaper you choose (see below).  The number of diapers determines how often you'll do wash.  With 2 dozen, I do wash every other day no problem.
    • A bin (like a trash can, perhaps) and 2 liners OR no bin but 2 hanging wet bags to store dirties (this goes in the wash with your diapers, so you'll need to have one in use while the other is in the wash)
    • 2 to 3 wet bags to keep in your diaper bag - store wet/dirty diapers, wipes, clothes, burp cloths, nursing pads....anything!  Then dump it in with diaper laundry.  Done.
    • Cloth diaper-friendly diaper rash salve/cream (some popular creams can be staining or can make your diapers smell like fish as soon as they're peed in.  Gross.)
    • Cloth diaper-friendly laundry detergent (currently a bit of an issue for me as I try to cut the cost...).  I highly recommend this chart for information and options!  There's a chart for diaper rash creams and salves there as well.
    • Possibly doublers/soakers/extra inserts for nighttime use (especially with toddlers, who often pee unbelivable amounts in the night, when you don't want to change them for 10-14 hours!).  We have probably 6 of these.
    • If you choose to use prefolds, contours, or flats, you'll also need some sort of fastener
    • For a baby/toddler with solid poops, you might want to get some biodegradable, flushable liners.  They make it easy to get rid of poop into the toilet, and they keep the non-water-soluble solids poop out of your washing machine (breastmilk poop is completely water soluble.  Raisin and corn poop?  Sorry, no.).  I just plopped those poops off diapers at our house, but I've always used liners when we travel, just out of respect for other people's grossness tolerance with their washing machines :)
    • If you choose to use cloth wipes, you'll also need:
      • 2-3 dozen Cloth wipes.  The number depends on how often your particular baby poops, and what you start using them for.  Cloth wipes end up being face wipes, tissues, quick hand-washes, etc!
      • Materials for whatever wipe solution you intend to use (some even just use plain water)
      • Possibly a small (8oz) spray bottle for diaper solution at home and a travel bottle (2oz) for the diaper bag - or some people choose to pre-wet all their wipes and keep them in a small wetbag in their diaper bag.  At home they'll use a wipe warmer or reuse the box from disposable wipes.

    Baby No-Poo



    There's a joke somewhere in that title about a baby called Baby No-Poo...

    I realized today that it has been 5 months since I've used poo'ed myself!  I've had dreams (nightmares?) about using shampoo without thinking, and being so upset about it!  In reality, I've even had my hair cut at a salon, and have just foregone the wash or any product (my hair always looks like crap right after a haircut anyway - it gets all stunned and frizzy.  I look like a q-tip.)

    In any case, I have been really happy without shampoo.  I probably only use baking soda once a month.  The rest of the time, I either spray my hair wet (when I don't have a chance to shower), wet it down in the shower, or use only apple cider vinegar - the ACV is an awesome detangler, so if my hair just feels matted or sort of "not fresh" it works great.  If I actually feel like my hair is dirty, then I use baking soda.

    My hair is pretty dry (curly hair tends to be!), so I have only had minimal problems with oiliness - and it's from adding in too much coconut oil.  I touch up with coconut oil pretty much every time I shower, and sometimes it builds up a little too much.  Then it's time for baking soda - which I use so infrequently that I don't even have it in a tub in the shower anymore.  If I need it, I get a one-use amount in a little cup before I get in the shower.

    I know some people have had problems with dandruff and oiliness, and here is a great trouble-shooting blog entry.  I haven't had to personally try anything...my hair seems to be sort of indestructible?

    Recently we ran out of Burt's Bees baby wash and shampoo.  Bean had been using some crazy blue mousse-style stuff that a grandma got him, and then was into some bubble bath from Northern Essence (love that shop), so I don't think we'll meet much resistance when he returns to using stuff from the Burt's Bees bottle and I've filled it with something new.

    The something new is, thus far, really super simple:  castille soap and some essential oil (for scent).  I used lavendar and tea tree oil.  How much?  Too much.  I don't know how many drops, but I added grapefruit, then added so much lavender that it overpowered the grapefruit...so I had to add more grapefruit.  Now it smells stronger than I'd really wanted.

    If anyone has any idea how to make the Burt's Bees baby bee scent, I'd love to know.  That stuff smells sooooooo good!

    Anyway, I used Dr. Bronner's liquid castille soap (unscented), but I've also seen several recipes that use shavings from bars of castille soap plus distilled water.   You have to boil the water and do more than just put liquid soap in a bottle and (if you want) add something for the smell of it.  I'm really not sure why you'd want to go through all that.  So you feel like you're actually making something more from "scratch?"

    As for what is in castille soap - they are soaps made from pure vegetable oils.  Soap requires a fat (animal or vegetable) and an alkaline solution (usually lye).  I'm only just starting to read up on this part, but castille just implies it that it is made from vegetable oil (it used to be only olive oil).

    And now for a nearly complete aside:  whether you want to use it or not, you have to go find a bottle of Dr. Bronner's soap (any variety) and read the label (or read here).  "Dr Bronner" was most definitely an eccentric, and the labelling reflects it!

    Here's the trailer for a documentary about him (I haven't seen it, but the trailer made me smile).



    There are videos on the company's website of his son Ralph telling stories about him, too.

    And a final complete aside:  Happy New Year!
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