Friday, April 23, 2010

Nightime diapering "demystified"?

After another bout of yeast rash, I am reconsidering our nighttime diapering solution.  We have been using two of our regular diapers, one on top of the other, and Boogie sleeps well through the night.  He isn't a heavy nighttime wetter, but it seems the yeast rash cold be related to the wet diapers.

I do change him very frequently during the day, sometimes even leaving the cover off all day so that I can see as soon as he is wet and change him promptly.  So this leaves me with nighttime diapering being the problem.  For now, we are going back to the dreaded disposable at night and are currently using Seventh Generation after having such a great response from their customer service.

I have heard that Fuzzi Bunz are the way to go with nighttime diapering, but the thought of putting down so much money for yet more diapers is somewhat hard to swallow.  We already own 30 Mother-ease contours, a few of the new Flip diapers, 2 Swaddlebees pockets, and one new Bun Genius.  I haven't tried the Bum Genius out at night yet because I haven't washed it enough.  I'm not looking to wash them over and over jsut to be able to use them, so I have only washed them with my regular loads.  It should be ready after another washing but I'll also need to use it durring the day a few times to make sure, and that will mean another week or two at least.  My plan is to stuff it with a prefold. (We also own a few prefolds in addition to those from our newborn diapering days.)

My preference from the start was natural fibers only but after 11 months, I'm ready to look at some of the newer stuff, like the Bum Genius, to find a nighttime solution that will work for us.  I've weighted the pros and cons of natural v. man made fibers against using disposables at night and even with the chlorine-free disposables, I feel like ultimately I would be paying off a few month's worth of disposables in a couple of nighttime diapers pretty quickly anyway.  And since we are planning to have more kids, we'll certainly use them.  But what if they don't work for nighttime?

I enjoy cloth diapering so much and I am hoping to find a good solution.  Has anyone out there found night time diapering to be challenging?  How did you solve the mystery, or at least make peace with 7 disposables a week in your trash?

One of my newest favorite-ist bloggers has a post with insight into cloth diapering your second baby here.  Emily also has posts on anti fungal baby wipes, diaper liners, and more linked on that post.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Customer service can be really fantastic so complain when you don't get you way.

I have three customer service stories I would like to share, and commend the companies for their efforts at rectifying the situation.

A few months ago, I purchased a package of Seventh Generation diapers and found that about 90% of the diapers were cut improperly and barely functional.  We were using them at night some and on trips, etc. Not often, but enough that I felt like I was losing money on that pack.  So I contacted the company via email and complained, while also letting them know that I had previously used their products (a variety of them, not just diapers) with complete satisfaction, which increased my disappointment.  As I was writing it, I recalled that I had also had a few packs of their wipes that dried out almost completely within days of opening them several months before - back when Boogie was a wee little thing - and mentioned it.

I received a response within hours with follow up questions.  One email led to another and before I knew it, I was offered a full reimbursement for the diapers AND the two packs of wipes!  I had figured they would offer coupons or a voucher for a free pack, or even possibly replace the pack itself.  I was shocked that they were so willing to stand by their product that they were going to give me my money back without na reciept, UPC, or even one of the faulty diapers to prove there was a problem.  I was so pleased when the check arrived that I used the enclosed coupon to buy a pack of diapers (when they were on sale of course) to have on hand.  We have used a few and the new design is fantastic.  They are 100% back in my good graces and while buying disposables is rare for us, we are now open to Seventh Generation diapers where I had been paying more for Earth's Best.

Next up is Munchkin.  I bought one of their little insulated bottle totes for carrying Boogie's food around when we are out but recently one of the gell packs that go in the freezer busted open and gell got all over it.  I contacted the company and complained, asking for a replacement.  Again, within hours I had a response from a real person asking me to take a picture of it and they would replace it immediately.  By the end of the week, I had a new gell pack!  They even offered to reimburse me for shipping with an "age and gender appropriate gift" for Jack if I preferred to mail the entire product back for a full replacement.  However, I was able to clean it well and I didn't think it was neccessary.  But knowing that they were interested in doing anything to keep my company loyalty was nice.  I'm not a huge fan of their products, but I have a good reason to choose them over another similar product in the future because I know they stand by their products.

Finally, I have had an issue with Enfamil vitamins.  I have been looking for a suitably priced alternative to Boogie's vitamins, and have even considered not giving them to him at all because in general, I'm not a big fan of vitamins.  However, I suffered from a severe vitamin D deficiency as a teenager that caused me to miss half of my senior year in high school, so I worry a lot about him getting enough vitamin D, especially since sunscreen blocks the natural absorption of this vital nutrient.  So I have been buying them but in the last few months, two bottles have been faulty in their "child proof" caps.  Boogie was able to open them by twisting the bulb, rather than the plastic cap, and dumped them on himself and the carpet within moments when I was only a few feet from him and not paying 100% attention.  I now keep them much farther from his reach (once is a fluke, twice is a problem!).   At least, after playing with the bottle, this is how I assume it happened.

I believe there is a problem with any children's medication that a child can open themselves, especially at less than 1 year old (the first time he was about 7 or 8 months!).  So I contacted them about a week ago and today received two replacement bottles and a prepaid shipping label for returning the faulty bottles.

The moral of the story?  If a product doesn't meet your expectations, complain!  You may not get a refund or replacement, but you will definitely get a good idea of how the company's customer service works and know whether to buy anything from them again in the future.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Making Popsicles is easy and I'm sure just about anyone could figure it out but I wanted to share my son's first Popsicle recipes because I really just need a good reason to show off these adorable pictures of him getting Popsicle all over his face.

First, cut up your strawberries (oh, well wash them first, then cut) and bananas.

Dump in a blender, mini prep, or food processor.  Or for older kiddos, just mash them up really good.


Scoop/pour into molds.  I made half with strawberries and bananas and half with yogurt added to the fruit.

Finally, freeze them overnight and share with the Boogie in your life.  That's a shot of the actual first taste!  He ate about half of it, which is not a small amount for him.

And finally, check out this clever way to make a healthier version of those sugar filled otter pops your kids will beg for.  Love the name of her blog!

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The Sweet Potato Method

I was at Whole Foods the other day when I saw purple sweet potatoes, which not only intrigued me but also reminded me that we are fresh out of sweet potato cubes in the freezer.  Sweet potato is one of Boogie's favorites so I grabbed one for him to try.

Here's how I do it.
Take your sweet potato and wash it off.  Place it on a piece of foil, or on a cookie sheet.  Preheat the oven to 350 and go ahead and stick it in there.  Once the oven is heated, set the time for 30 minutes.  That's about how long it takes for a medium sized (not too fat) sweet potato for me.  I also threw in a regular sweet potato at the same time.

Since you are heating up the oven anyway, take a head of garlic, chop off the top half inch or so, sit it on its own foil sheet, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and EVOO and wrap the foil up around it.  Toss it in the oven with your potatoes.  You will be handsomely rewarded.

The potatoes are ready when they are nice and smushy and give easily.  They will bleed purple sugar all over the foil.  This is one instance where I prefer to throw a small piece of foil in the recycling than wash the sheet pan covered in sticky sugar.

Peel the skin off and...Mash!

Add the regular sweet potato and mash some more!

For a really smooth puree, you can use the blender.  But if they are really cooked well, you can probably mash them well enough with a fork or potato masher.

Your garlic will take a bit longer than 30 minutes.  45-60 minutes should do it.  It will be easy to squeeze all the garlic out.  Just push it into a small container, cover with EVOO if you aren't going to use it in the next day or so and stick it in the fridge.  Or, add some to Boogie's mashed sweet potato because he likes garlic!

Now just spoon into ice cube trays and freeze.  This is one of my fancy Tupperware ice cube trays.

There is it with the lid on it.  That's my husband on his way to put it in the freezer for me.

Oh, and Boogie loved it.  Forgot to get a picture of his purple-covered face but thankfully, it didn't stain.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Goals for the next year...or so

So far in my journey I have made a few minor and a few major changes to the way we live that hopefully will impact not jsut our health, but the environment as well.

Using cloth diapers was never an environmental choice, but I love that something we chose to do anyway is so good for the earth.  And even better for the earth is my recognition that I can get rid of all disposable products (ah...except toilet paper.  Let's not go there).  So my first goal is

1) Stop using disposable paper and plastic products (except said TP).

Perhaps my biggest goals, though, are related to health and nutrition.  I have been researching how contaminated produce can be and have focused on buying organic produce for Boogie.  But I also buy him only free-range organic chicken, organic tofu, beans, grains, etc. for him.  I have had a hard time convincing myself that I deserve the extra cost of organic foods, too.  And since I am perfectly capable of making just about everything from scratch, my next three goals are

2) Buy only whole, organic foods for myself and my family.
3) Make all of our bread from scratch using the recipes in my copy of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.
4) Eliminate as much processed food from our diets as possible.

One thing I want to mention.  Before getting pregnant and having my son, I never really thought much about organic foods.  But I did always kind of hate carrots.  They always tasted weird to me.  Since I switched to buying only organic carrots (which are quite affordable - they are the same price at my local grocery store as conventional), I have noticed that they never have that weird taste.  Which repulses me because now I feel like I have been eating pesticides my entire life.  My son will hopefully never know a carrot that tastes like chemicals.

My husband likes the diet soda so we have talked about ending his relationship (at least on an everyday basis) with this chemical-laden beverage.  I know it is asking a lot of him to change his lifestyle so much, so I'm planning to go easy on this one.  I won't be buying it but if we go out to eat, I'm not going to begrudge him a little caramel colored artificially sweetened water.  For now.

And, finally, I have one more goal that will make our budget a bit happier.  Other than avoiding impulse spending and using sales, coupons, and a rather large freezer to save money, when we get relocated I am planning to

5) Buy used and save the difference.

The now-famous Duggar family (of 19 Kids and Counting fame, for those who haven't seen TLC in years) have been known to use that phrase to describe how they lower their carbon footprint with such a large family, and how they afford the everyday expenses of life.  I believe this can make a big difference in many aspects of our life.

So, for now, we are still camping our with my folks until my husband's career relocates us at an undetermined point in the hopefully near future.  I believe we will be moving in the next 3 months or so, so some of these goals will take a little longer.

Does all this mean that my child won't ever blow his nose with a tissue or enjoy some store-bought graham crackers?  No, of course not.  But I'd love to raise him in a world of handkerchiefs and homemade, wholesome snacks because I believe that he will continue into his adulthood to consume less, spend less, and love the earth that yields so much for us.

If I can manage at least most of this over the next year or so, I'm hoping we can add in an organic garden next spring/summer...wherever we are...

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Store-bought options for baby food. Organic still wins in my book.

Although Boogie more or less refuses to eat anything we have offered him from the Gerber Organic line, or from any kind of "jar" food, he has accepted some of the new pouch foods.  He is especially fond of the fruit pouches because he can suck the fruit out himself and literally sucks it all down in about a minute, with a couple of small breaks to catch his breath.  Plum Baby are our favourite for a quick "toss in the diaper bag" option.

A facebook friend recently noted that although she makes her own baby food, she tried Sprout foods with her daughter and she loved them!  So I thought I would give them a whirl.  Because let's face it - it isn't always easy to carry around a cooler bag full of cubes of baby food and babies need veggies, whole grains, and proteins in addition to fruit.  So when Sprout foods finally went on sale, I bought a few to try.  So far he has tried the Roasted Sweet Potato and White Bean, which he loved, and the Butternut Squash (also loved).  These products are made by Tyler Florence, of Food Network fame, and are organic.  And delicious.  I tried them and I can honestly say that I would eat them.  But at the regular price of $1.39 each, they are certainly not an every day option.  More something to toss in diaper bag when we are in a hurry.

We also tried the Pasta with lentil sauce flavor and Boogie regfused to eat it.  This may be because he is already eating small pasta shapes with real sauce and the pureed version could just be a turn off.  But, then again, I tasted it and found it kind of gross.

We are also fans of Happy Baby products.  Boogie loves their organic puffs and they have half as much sugar as the Gerber brand.  And here, they tend to be on sale fairly often for about $2.50.  By joining the Happy Baby mailing list, I get coupons for $1 off 2 products and that makes them $2.  Gerber puffs run about $2 on sale and the package is smaller.  Again, twice the sugar in Gerber so this is definitly a cheaper, healthier option.

Boogie loves the Happy Baby yogurt drops, but since he does eat yogurt every day, we don't indulge in these often.  I generally mix a couple in with the puffs for a "snack mix" kind of thing.  I add freeze dried fruit bits, as well.  I haven't found a budget friendly organic freeze dried fruit marketed for babies, but freeze dried fruit bits can be found in the dried fruit section of some grocery stores.  Larger pieces can be broken into smaller ones.  Boogie likes mango best!

Still, our favourite snacks are homemade.  We usually do carry a small bottle cooler which holds a yogurt and a small container of fruir or veggie cubes.   I have found that most restaurants are more than happy to bring a cup or bowl of hot water, which I can then sit the container in to thaw the food slowly.  Apparently, they do this all the time for parents who need to warm bottles.

And there's always the universal portable baby snack - the banana!

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Friday, April 16, 2010

on a lighter note...check out this giveaway!

FREE DIAPERS at Feed Your Stash Friday

Check out this giveaway for a chance to win a free Tots Bots all in one diaper at Cloth Diaper Blog.  Adorable colors, no?  I'd love to give this diaper a try!

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Just because everyone else is doing it...

I often wonder if other parents in general consider cloth diapering or if the majority just go with the "default" - disposables - and never really think twice about it.

I had a first-hand opportunity to see that cloth diapers are not what they were when, well, okay...when I was a baby.  And I'm not that old!  A family friend used them with her kids (now both well out of diapers - potty trained completely by age 2!).

So during my pregnancy I researched cloth diapers more than any other single baby item.  And we checked the reviews on everything that entered our house for our little bundle of joy.  We ended up buying the same diapers our friend used.  The price was right and they adjust to fit from about 10-12 lbs (that's when they fit Boogie) through...well, he's about 22lbs now and they have plenty of room.  For the record, we use Mother-Ease contour diapers (pictured).

But I imagine that many parents think of diapering choices as which brand to use (Pampers, Huggies, Luvs, generic...) or whether to use a wipes warmer or not.  What kind of plastic diaper pail system to buy is apparently a hot topic as well.

Anyway, I was a little bit shocked, and a little bit not-shocked-at-all, by this story. When I found it yesterday, I wanted to shout from the rooftops to all new parents and parents-to-be to PLEASE realize that disposable diapers as just as much a choice as cloth diapers are.  Think about what you are going to put on your child 24 hours a day for approximately 2 years.

There are plenty of arguments about whether or not cloth really is cheaper or better for the environment.  These seem to always be the key points in arguments against cloth, but I have also had countless women ask me about Boogie's diapers (usually in public restrooms while I'm changing him) and a lot of them ask me if he doesn't get more diaper rash.

I'm not sure why people ask this, but the fact is that diaper rash has not been an issue for us since we switched completely.  Before we were 24-7 cloth, Boogie did have a lot of diaper rash.  And we changed him quite frequently no matter what he was in.

Which is why I am 100% convinced that cloth is healthier. 

This is a great article (ironically, it shows up with an ad for pampers) that sums up the health costs of disposable diapers.

It all goes back to that old addage that all our parents quoted at one time or another.  If all your friends are jumping off a bridge, do you do it, too?

If you don't even have to stop and think about that one, ask yourself why many parents don't stop and think about why they are diapering with disposables.

I'm not saying that disposables are akin to throwing your kid off a bridge.  I'm just saying that parents should consider all of their options and weigh the benefits and the deficits for each one.  And, hopefully, if cloth isn't going to work for your family, you might just consider one of the healthier chlorine-free disposable diaper options out there.

Maybe, just maybe, if enough parents switch to chlorine-free, healthier diapers, the major brands will have no choice but to start manufacturing a better product.  I know Huggies has a new "pure and natural" diaper but compared to Earth's Best or Seventh Generation, it's just more green washing.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

free cloth diaper with $10 BumGenius purchase

Check out The Thrifty Mama's post about how to get a free BumGenius diaper with $10 BumGenius, Flip!, or Econobum purchase.

I had a coupon from Pregnancy & Newborn magazine and found a new local online shop in my area that carries them.  Sweet Bottoms Baby Boutique is an online shop but based in Fuquay-Varina NC.  It's not a far drive from my home so I called up the owner and asked if I could stop in to her showroom.  She's a new seller and has an amazing little "shop" in her beautiful home and she invited me to come and take a look.

Boogie has been wearing Thirsties covers since he was itty bitty but now that he is crawling all over the place at the speed of light and starting to walk some, they aren't fitting as well.  He's apparently skinny!  With the velcro tabs secured as tight as can be, they slip out on the edges and cause some serious leaks.  It was time for new covers and I've had my eye on the Flip! covers from BumGenius.  I've also been looking to try out the BumGenius all in one diapers, since I haven't had any experience with an all in one.

So I grabbed my coupon and drove over to Sweet Bottoms Baby Boutique and after listening to my message, the owner of the shop had pulled several items out that she thought would work for us, including the Flip! diapers.  They are super cute!  I decided to buy the covers with the inserts for just $3 more (each) than the covers alone so that I can try them out and report back later.  The liners need a few washings before they will be ready to go, but so far the covers are fantastic!  They are not as quick for changing Boogie - he wrestles me at every diaper change and frequently crawls around buck nekkid for a few minutes while I attempt to distract him long enough to finish the job.  I'm hooked.  The covers fit nicely over his Mother-ease diapers and I'm looking forward to trying them with the inserts.  If they work out well for us, I might just buy a few more inserts for days when we will be travelling around a lot, as I will be able to fit more in my diaper bag that way.

As a bonus, I also picked up a free BumGenius all in one diaper for Boogie to try out.  I'm impressed by how soft it is.  Once it's washed up good, I'll post a review.

I just became a fan of Sweet Bottoms Baby on facebook and found a link to this article about the new Pampers DryMax, confirming what I already suspected about these new "12 hour" diapers.  Rashes galore!

Sweet Bottoms Baby Boutique offers a great selection of cloth diapering supplies including all types of cloth diapers, hybrids, and covers, plus wipes, wetbags, other natural parenting items and more!  If you are in the market for some new cloth diapers, check out her site.  She offers free shipping in the US.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Every child should get to do this just once...

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Making cereal - it's cheaper and easier than you think!

Making Boogie's cereal seemed like a chore when I first learned it was even possible.  Perhaps I was being naive, but I never realized that I could give him cereal that didn't come in a box from the supermarket.  When I first read about it somewhere on the internet, I was kind of blown away.  Did people really do that?

Besides, baby cereal is cheap...right?

Turns out it isn't.  I wish I could give you a true cost comparison but I haven't taken notes recently and all I know for sure is that on a week-long trip to NJ recently, I spent about $1 on whole grains - oats, millet, and rice - from the bulk bins at my friend's favorite supermarket.  All were organic and the grains lasted for the week without any left to spare and without leaving us underfed :)

The same amount of commercial cereal (a one week supply) would have cost about $3.99 because we prefer Happy Baby HappyBellies organic cereal, but I could have gone with Earth's Best for about $2.79.  And he would have taken care of most of the package.  So even if you assume that he would have eaten about half the Happy Baby cereal, that's still $2, or twice the cost.

I bought a giant bag of Organic Quinoa recently for $8.99 at Costco. That works out to $2.25 per pound, which is less than what the bulk bin cost is at Whole Foods here.

A word of caution -   If you batch grind your grains, you will need to measure differently.  They will fluff up after grinding and you may need 1 1/2 x as much for a batch of cereal than if you measure, then grind, every couple of days.  This isn't really a problem, though.  You just measure it, grind it, and then measure it again to see how much to use later.  Just store any pre-ground grains in the fridge in an air-tight container.

Here is 1/3 cup of Quinoa before grinding.

...and here is the same Quinoa, after grinding.  It's hard to see but its about 1 1/2 x as much.  My little red bowl has a marking inside for 1/4 cup, and the full bowl is 1/2 cup.  I should probably have levelled the contents for the picture, but I didn't think about it.

Here's my 1/4 cup of Quinoa, again, before grinding.  Maybe this is too many pictures but it also illustrates how it grows after grinding.  I use a simple Krups grinder - it is reserved ONLY for grinding baby food and things baby can eat, like flax seeds, so that I don't have to be super picky about cleaning it since it can't be submerged in water.

See how big it gets?  Okay, you get the idea.  Let's move on.  Before you grind, measure out 2 cups of water and put it in a small pot on the stove to boil.  If baby is only easting a few tablespoons of food a day, you can half this and you'll want to use less cereal to water.

When it comes to a boil and your grains are ground into a nice fine powder (look for a flour-like consistancy), whisk them in.  This is important because if you don't use a whisk, you'll have undercooked lumps floating around in watery mess and your baby will look at you like you are a martian if you try to feed it to him.  Also, undercooked grains are not good for baby!  Set the timer for 10 minutes, and whisk every couple of minues until it's done.  ALWAYS taste it to make sure it is cooked well.

Measure the first time and then guess the next.  I have 6oz bowls and this is what 1/2 cup of cereal looks like in them.  I pour the first three, then put the rest in a bowl with two cubes of fruit (if its breakfast) or veggie (dinner) to help it cool down easier.  Some people believe it should go directly into the fridge.  I let it cool for about 5 minutes before sealing the lids and sticking it into the cold.

Here's Boogie's breakfast.  Once the apples melted and the cereal was nice and cool, I added a dash of cinnamon because Boogie loves cinnamon!

Yup, he's an eater.

Down the hatch!

All gone!

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Tag! You're It! Tuesday

My first game of Blog Tag!


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