Thursday, September 5, 2013

Reasons I Love Babywearing

Since I got an Ergobaby carrier almost 2 years ago I have fallen in love with babywearing.  I bring my Ergo everywhere I go with the kids and still wear Peanut even from time to time, although she is closing in fast on the 40lbs limit.  I have been wearing Squirt in our Ergobaby Organic carrier with an infant insert since he was a week old and it has been fantastic.  Here are the top 6 reasons I love to wear my kids, because I couldn't pick just five.

6.  Its a pretty darn good view for little people.

Wearing Squirt at a month old and supervising
the older two.
Have you been to the zoo or a museum with anyone under 3.5ft tall?  Its kind of obnoxious.  All the exhibits are really designed for big people to look at.  The constant "Uppy!  Uppy!  Uppy!" from my 30lb toddler followed by the inevitable struggle 5 minutes later to get down makes my back scream.  Babywearing is a great way to get him up where he can see in a way that is comfortable for me.  That is of course accompanied by the warning that if he wants to get down he's not getting back up because I'm not playing this Babywear-Walking Yo-Yo game that toddlers love.

5.  I know where my kids are.

If my child is attached to my chest or back, I can't lose him.  Babywearing is perfect for crowded events where strollers are a pain to get around with, but I want to keep my kids close.  Knowing my kids are close and safe brings my stress level down and lets me enjoy things (or stress about something else... like catching a plane!)
Peanut really wanted in on the babywearing.

4.  Off-roading.

Walking in circles on a track is boring.  Strolling around the neighborhood is okay.  I seriously love hiking though -- uphill, downhill, over fallen trees, across streams.  Babywearing is perfect for taking my kids with me.  And when the big ones get tired they can take turns on my back.

3.  Quiet baby.

Its utter magic when my son quiets and falls asleep on my chest.  At least I can get one of the children quiet without much effort.  Did I mention I can still do other things while he sleeps?

2.  Two free hands.

Munchkin wearing his lovey in a kids' Ergo 
Food prep in the kitchen?  Toddler with a boo boo needs to be held?  Grocery shopping?  Sweeping?  Vacuuming?  Need to carry more things than humanly possible because I'm a mom and that's what I do?  Got it.  All while carrying my baby too.

1.  Easy on my back.

I started babywearing with an ErgoBaby Sport Carrier after I herniated a disc so I could hold Munchkin without hurting.  I was literally terrified of babywearing because I didn't want to aggravate my back but found it to be a comfortable, ergonomic, and pain-free way to hold my son.  I was pleasantly surprised to find the front carry with Squirt hasn't bothered my back even though he was a whopping 10lbs at birth and now weighs 19lbs.  If you ever have been unable to hold your child, you'll understand how amazing it is when you can hold them.

There is one thing that would make babywearing better: being able to pee standing up.  Every time Hubs walks into the mens' room wearing Squirt and walks out 2 minutes later completely relieved, hands washed, and Squirt content on his chest, I get penis envy.  Peeing with an infant in tow is a 20 minute minimum endeavor for me with a carrier, if I can accomplish it in the first place.  Tips?

Disclaimer: I was provided an ErgoBaby Organic Collection Bundle of Joy by ErgoBaby because they are awesome.  This in now way has influenced my opinion of the ErgoBaby carrier or babywearing in general, and the views expressed in this post are my own.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

If I could cloth diaper all over again

... without a washer and dryer.

If I could cloth diaper all over again

This post was written as part of Padded Tush Stat's "If I could cloth diaper all over again..." series.  I was in a hurry to post and forgot to add their image!  Read on, then explore other posts about a cloth diaper "do over" by other bloggers, or add your own experience!

Full disclosure -- I have a washer and dryer now, and I love them.  They are glorious.  However, when I first started cloth diapering my kids, I washed all their diapers by hand.  I say "their" not as a common English grammar mistake, but because I was cloth diapering both Peanut and Munchkin at the same time.  I washed their diapers by hand for a year and got a pretty good sense of what kinds of diapers are easy to clean by hand and dry quickly on the line.

First... the washing apparatus.

The plunger and bucket were cheap, but to be honest I love the Laundry Alternative WonderWash.  Killer biceps are pretty cool, but I'd rather burn my 500 calories a day doing yoga or chasing my kids around, not churning poopy diapers.

As for drying?

I'd totally get two Ikea FROST drying racks and three packs of PRESSA clothes pins.  They've lasted us 2.5 years and are still going strong.  If it ain't broke...

Oh yah... you want to know about the diapers?  That's a can of worms!

My everyday diapers...

At least 50% of my stash would be gDiapers -- they've worked really well for my kids from birth to potty training and my medium gdiaper covers are on their third bum.  I'd either make my own bamboo and hemp inserts again or invest in a mix of Blueberry EcoLiners and Nappy Shoppe's gFlappers -- some bamboo and some microfiber/hemp.

Surprise!  I would also throw in some flats!  I scoffed at using flats when I first started cloth diapering because they looked so hard.  I have since found out they are versatile, absorbent, and easy to clean.  I'd also get three Snappis -- one to lose constantly, and two to make me feel like I always have plenty on hand.

I would also make some quick flat wraps to add to my stash because they are easy to use, easy to clean, and contain things a little better than a flat diaper with less effort on my part.

In addition to the gDiapers, I would keep some Next Gen Uni covers on hand.  I have a Gen Y Universal that I have grown to love and the Next Gen Uni is the newest revision of the Universal.  I would probably splurge on one large and one small.  I love the full coverage and that I can use them with inserts or a padfolded flat when I feel lazy.  Plus the covers are just plain easy to clean and cute.

For overnight wool is a must.

Wool covers are bulletproof for heavy wetters and breathe which I think helps rashes heal overnight.  Plus they are low maintenance and can go a week or two without washing.  Anything to wash fewer diapers.  I love my Covered Caboose OS covers, but I don't think Jeanne is making them anymore.  I would probably opt for Sustainablebabyish wool covers and maybe a pair of longies if I couldn't get my hands on some Covered Caboose covers again.

I would throw in some Blueberry Econappis too.  Sometimes I super lazy.  Sometimes I want a self-contained diaper.  And they work wonderfully overnight.  Plus they are easy to wash by hand and line dry because of the way the inserts fold up for use.

Even though I have big babies I would still invest in a few newborn diapers.

For the newborn stage I would make some newborn snap-in-one diapers using the free NB Rocketbottoms pattern, and some small snap-in-one diapers from the Totally Squared pattern.  They fit great, make for quick diaper changes, and dry quickly.  They were a nice change of pace from the small gDiapers.

And yes.  I would have some disposable inserts on hand.

Washing diapers by hand every day was a pain.  It was tiring.  It took time.  And sometimes I needed a break.  One of the reasons gDiapers would make up most of my stash is because their gpants worked just as well with their disposable inserts as with cloth inserts.  Part of the reason I started cloth diapering was to decrease the amount of waste my kids produced -- the gDiaper disposable inserts are flushable and boy do I love to flush away the mess some days.  Yes, they are more expensive per change than regular disposables, but they are more earth friendly than conventional disposable diapers, don't give my kids rashes, and I was saving enough using cloth 90% of the time to splurge a bit 10% of the time.

Accessories... of course.

I'd have a few Planetwise Wet/Dry bags for outings.  They simply work.  I'd also get a diaper sprayer and a SprayPal to clean the poop off.  I found WonderWash's Kryptonite is poop, so rinsing diapers well before washing is a must, and doing it directly into the toilet makes things easy.  And its not completely perfect, but I do love our GroVia Perfect Pail a lot, so I would get one to store dirty diapers.

What would you do differently if you could cloth diaper over again?  Don't forget to check out other bloggers' take on a cloth diaper do-over!

Disclaimer: I am a proud gMum and get promotional materials and small gifts from gDiapers every now and then to help spread the gLove.  These tokens do not influence my opinion: my love for gDiapers precedes my participation in the gMum program.  I have not received any compensation from any of the other companies mentioned.  All the thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Music with Mommy: Fast and Slow

We started school this week.  Peanut and Munchkin are busy learning -- spooning, counting, sorting, tracing, cutting, drawing -- all in the front room of our house.  We've decided that Saturday is a special day in school.  It is Music with Mommy day.  I don't know as much about music as I do about other subjects, but I know my fair share after 7 years of piano lessons and 6 years of school choir.  Not to mention all the modern music greats that Hubs has exposed me to like U2, Aerosmith, and U2.

Today I slept in though and didn't have much time to prepare a lesson.  We have been learning about Greenville, SC this week so I went to the Wikipedia page for Greenville, searched under "Music", and came up with... Lynyrd Skynyrd.  You got that right folks -- our inaugural music lesson was brought to you by Lynyrd Skynyrd.  Who knew they played their last concert with all original members in Greenville, SC way back in 1977 (remember that year?  cause I don't).

When I think of Lynyrd Skynyrd, I think of "Free Bird", and that is exactly what we listened to.  All 15 minutes of it.  That provided the perfect jumping off point for our lesson on Presto and Largo, Fast and Slow.  If you haven't listened to "Free Bird", take the time.  Be forewarned though that this video is rife with late 70s concert glory.

"Free Bird" is great for talking about fast and slow because of the variation in tempo.   The kids were impatient to explore the instruments, but I had planned to have them dance and move with the music, getting faster when the music gets faster.  It doesn't speed up until 6 minutes in so you might want to skip ahead if your kids have a short attention span like mine.  Afterwards we each picked an instrument and went in a circle playing our instrument fast, then slow, then fast again, then slow.  I used a percussion instrument to help keep time.

Finally we sat at the piano and explored the metronome.  We set the metronome as fast as it would go (Prestissimo) and as slow as it would go (Largo) then in between.  We all chose a note and played it in time with the metronome as best we could.  I then played "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" slow, then fast, then a little faster and we sang together.

The kids loved it and I had fun making music with them.  Great lesson for a couple preschoolers.

What songs can you think of that would be great for teaching fast and slow?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Diapering Babyzilla: One size, Two size, or Newborn?

In the interest of answering the age old question "Will that one size diaper fit my ___lbs newborn?" I gave our two one size diapers the good old college try.  We have a BumGenius Freetime and a Happy Heineys pocket diaper, both advertised to fit babies as small as 7lbs.  Since Squirt was 10lbs to start I figured they would perform fairly well.

The two sized systems we had were some Rocket Bottoms Totally Squared (RBTS) size Small made by my Gramma and the Swaddlebees MiniNappi.  We received the TSs a few days after Squirt was born and they fit well from the beginning.  The rise was low enough it didn't bother his umbilical stump even though there wasn't an umbilical snap like his newborn diapers.  The MiniNappis had a higher rise that rubbed his stump, therefore we didn't use them very much until it fell off.  Both had a narrow crotch similar to the Newborn diapers.  This did make it difficult to stuff the Mini Nappi (a pocket diaper), but it wasn't a problem for the RBTS as it had a snap-in insert.

You can see the difference in rise between the RBTS and the Mini Nappi -- the Mini Nappi rubbed the stump which I didn't like.  Both are as trim between the legs as the Newborn though and don't look much bulkier.

I didn't get around to trying out our One Size diapers until week two.  We have a BumGenius Freetime and a Happy Heineys Pocket Diaper.  The Happy Heineys has cross over snaps which allowed for a fairly snug fit.  The BumGenius had velcro which also crossed over, but not as far.  Both gaped slightly at the leg when Squirt was sitting in his bouncer which contributed to some leaks, but his legs chunked up to the point they no longer leaked by 3 weeks.  The One Size diapers sported a wide crotch compared to the two size diapers.  Since the Happy Heineys was a pocket diaper I was able to stuff it with a narrower insert which helped create a trimmer diaper.  They both also had a higher rise which covered the umbilical stump.  I preferred to wait until his stump fell off to start using the One Size diapers.

The BumGenius is substantially wider at the crotch as compared tot he RBTS and the Newborn diaper.  You can also appreciate how the One Size diapers covered his belly button with the rise on the BumGenius the highest of all.  Hello Steve Urkle.

Here's a great illustration of all the diapers side by side.  As you can see even at three weeks the BumGenius looks fairly bulky compared to the newborn diaper.  The Happy Heineys is a little more bulky than the two size diapers, but not by much.  Neither of the One Size diapers leaked past three weeks.

At this point the Newborn diapers were no longer working very well, but the two size diapers and the one size diapers were fitting great.  Squirt had already moved to the middle snap setting on the RBTS and the Mini Nappi by four weeks and the One Size diapers, although still bulky at the crotch, were fitting great.  At this point he was about 12lbs.

In summary, I preferred the two size systems over the one size and the newborn diapers.  They fit well from the beginning without being much bulkier than a newborn sized diaper.  Squirt is now two months old, 13lbs 10oz and he is on the largest rise setting on both the Mini Nappi and the RBTS small.  However, he still has plenty of room to grow at the waist.  At this point they have lasted twice as long as the newborn diapers and I expect them to last another month.

Even though the two size system was my preference, the right one size diaper is a realistic choice from a couple weeks old to potty training for a large baby.  If I had to pick one of our two, I would choose the Happy Heineys OS pocket diaper.  It was fairly trim when stuffed with a smaller insert and the cross over snaps gave a secure fit without wing droop.  Both the bumGenius Freetime and the Happy Heineys also fit my 2 year old 30lb son.  I usually keep one of the one size diapers in our diaper bag for outings since I know they will fit either one of my sons.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Diapering Babyzilla: AIOs

My little boy is 8 weeks old and I'm finally willing to admit he's not a newborn anymore.  Of the different types of diapers we used, my favorites at the beginning were the AIOs, so I'll talk about how long those lasted first.  My son had two different types of AIOs in his stash: Grovia Newborn AIOs and AIOs made from the Rocket Bottoms newborn pattern.  There are two main difference between the Grovia Newborns and the Rocket Bottoms NB.  1.  The Grovia NB has a snap down rise.  2.  The Rocket Bottoms NB has an umbilical snap.

From day one the Rocket Bottoms NB fit the best out of the two AIOs.  The umbilical snap down kept the diaper out of the way of his stump.  I enjoyed quick diaper changes with the Rocket Bottoms NB and they didn't leak as long as they were changed every 3-4 hours.  Plus they were trim which meant his 3mos onesies fit very well.  By about 4wks however the Rocket Bottoms NB were starting to get tight and they leaked almost every time.  There are two snaps side by side on each wing and I think the diaper performed better when we could comfortably snap both on each side.  I finally retired them all by 6wks.

In contrast, I wasn't impressed with the GroVia NB AIO from the beginning.  The top edge rubbed against his umbilical stump so I waited until he was at least 2 weeks old to start using them.  They leaked and I struggled to get a good fit.  You can tell from the photos that we actually tried a tighter fit around the waist and snapping down the rise at 4 wks in comparison to 3wks.  Nothing seemed to change the fact that they needed to be changed every couple hours though.  Regardless they seemed to have a decent fit at 6 weeks old even with the extra room offered by the snap down rise but I retired them anyway due to frequent leaks.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Diapering Babyzilla: Intro

One question I see frequently on cloth diapering forums is "should I invest in a newborn stash if I'm expecting a big baby?".  I pondered the same with my most recent pregnancy.  My first two babies were 8lbs each.  I did not cloth diaper either child from birth -- Peanut was first cloth diapered at 18mos, and Munchkin at a week or two old.  Small gDiapers worked just fine for Munchkin -- a fact I had forgotten in my ooing and ahhing over teeny tiny newborn diapers.  I ultimately decided to dive in and invest in a newborn stash -- after all they might be the only new diapers Squirt gets to wear.

Well our tiny newborn, Squirt AKA Babyzilla, weighed in at 10lbs2oz when he arrived.  I had packed my hospital bag full of teeny newborn cloth diapers and sitting in the delivery room I wasn't so sure they were going to fit.  Good news is that they did!  The following series will hopefully shed some light on the pros and cons of newborn cloth for large babies.  Squirt's newborn stash consists of small gDiapers, Grovia NB AIOs, AI2s and fitteds made using the free Rocket Bottoms NB cloth diaper pattern, newborn/small AI2s made using the Rocket Bottoms Totally Squared pattern, NB quick snap flat wraps, Swaddlebees Mini Nappi, a size small Bummis cover, NB covers made from the Babyville Boutique pattern, a OS Happy Heiny, and a OS Bumgenius Flip.  Some fit great from the start, and some did not.  Follow along and I'll give you the skinny!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

"Take only what you need to survive"

or "Holiday travels with small children"

This Christmas we were blessed to be able to go visit my parents.  Unfortunately that involved a 2 hour car ride, navigating a rather large airport, 4 hours in a plane, navigating another large airport, and a second car ride of undetermined length (I fell asleep).  And then we had to go back.  Thank God for tailwinds and non-stops.

Was it fun getting there?  No.  Was it worth it? H-E-double-hockey-sticks yes.

Its a trip we've made a couple times already with at least one child and I like to think we get savvier at airport travel with toddlers each time.  The first time was with Izzy as an infant.  We took her travel system.  Better decisions have since been made.  The last time was with Johnny in my lap, and Izzy in her car seat strapped to a Gogo-Kidz Travelmate.  Getting close.

This time, with a 3 yr old and an almost 2 year old I decided we would not survive the airport without:


1.  Safety.  In large crowded places where my attention is divided I am a firm believer in kid restraints.  Be it a stroller, carseat, or baby carrier if my child is strapped down I know where to find him/her.  The Diono RXT+Travelmate gave us the option of wheeling the kids through the airport strapped to their carseats.  When they got tired of that, or absolutely needed to be held (like Johnny did on the way back), the Ergo allowed us a free set of hands for carrying bags while keeping them secure.

Yes my son is picking his nose.  *sigh*
2.  Ease of boarding.  Take a Diono RXT, attach a Gogo Kidz Travelmate, and cue Handel's Messiah.

The Travelmate makes traveling through the airport with a car seat much easier, but the Diono RXT makes it pure amazing because it is narrow enough to fit down the aisle of the aircraft.  Barely.  We just strapped the kids in, wheeled them to our seats, removed the Travelmate, installed the seat, and sat down.  Last time my husband had to carry our car seat to our seats because it wouldn't fit down the aisle while I navigated our baggage, an almost 2 year old, and a 3 month old to our seats.  I couldn't imagine doing the same x2 car seats.

3.  Hands-free comforting.   Johnny had a meltdown on the way back.  I mean full-blown I'm-going-to-cry-for-20-minutes-and-there-is-nothing-you-can-do-about-it meltdown.  Turns out he's not a huge fan of new experiences he hit his limit just as we joined one of LAX's famously long lines.  First I tried back carry in the Ergo.  He kicked and screamed -- with Hub's help I couldn't even get him strapped in.  I 100% forgot I was pregnant (don't say its never happened to you), plopped him on top of my 28wk bump and strapped him on with the Ergo.  He was still screaming, but at least it wasn't for lack of being held and I still had two hands free for luggage.  I left Johnny strapped in through security which turned out to be a good idea since the TSA absolutely had to check his Mr. Giggles for explosive devices.  Unhitching him to walk through the metal detector might have cued another inconsolable melt down, but thankfully the agent let him stay attached and we passed with flying colors.  And the TSA agent even hand delivered Mr. Giggles right away after proving he was just a stuffed animal.

4.  I don't trust the baggage handlers.  That's a personal problem.  We could have checked our car seats.  In fact Johnny could have sat on a lap.  I figured at 30lbs he would make a pretty nasty projectile in a crash though.  More importantly I like to know our car seats are intact on the other end and safe to use.  Whether they will actually get thrown into the cargo hold like a rugby ball or placed gingerly, I can't shake the thought of the former scenario from my head.

5.  No strollers.  The Ergo is so much easier to travel with than a stroller.  It folds up, we don't have to check it (see above), and its one less bulky item we have to squeeze into the vehicle picking us up on the other end.  Granted my parents have a stroller, but it was nice to know we didn't need one because we had the option of carrying the children in the Ergo.  Our kids walk most places now, but I did end up back carrying Johnny a couple times while we were visiting.

Notes and future improvements:

The Diono RXT + the Travelmate does not fit through the xray machine even though the TSA agents desperately wanted it to.  Requesting a hand check before they even tried manhandling it into the machine made things go smoothly on the way back.  Yes it might have fit if we took off the Travelmate, but having it hand checked was so much easier.

Hubs and I found the release latch for the Travelmate is not simple to operate when we are tired and stressed from travelling.  Practicing ahead of time might have made boarding go more smoothly.

We probably could have left the second Ergo with the industrial strength hair dryer. Hubs used it once the whole trip when Izzy wanted to be carried.

In case you missed it, the Ergo didn't set off the metal detector.  Hallelujah.  I was kind of excited about that.

Security is still a hassle.  Kids don't have to take off their shoes anymore -- hurrah!  But there was still the "take off all coats, belts, shoes, empty those water bottles, pull out the tablet, empty those pockets and pray you're not hiding some microscopic piece of metal" dance.  At least one bag each way had to be hand checked for suspicious items anyway.  We found it best to find a line with a long set of tables and wave people past us as we took our time getting everything binned.

We could not fit the Diono RXTs in Economy class rearfacing.  We tried.  We really wanted to.  It just wasn't going to happen.  If you plan to take an infant on a plane who needs to be rearfacing and plan on sitting said infant in a car seat I would suggest taking a different car seat.

Lastly, muchos gracias to the Delta employee that moved our family + screaming toddler to the front of the baggage check line.  I think the people standing around us in line that could still hear really appreciated it, as did we.

P.S.  For those of you who are wondering, no we didn't travel with cloth.  We had a package of gDiaper flushable inserts and some disposable wipes shipped to my parents house and packed in our carry-on bags enough flushable inserts and disposable wipes to get through the airport and then some.  We left the extras at my parents' house in hopes we will go visit them sometime before Baby potty trains.

Disclaimer:  I have in no way been compensated by Diono, Delta, or Gogo Babyz for this post.  I am a gMum and get regular shipments from gDiapers.  I also have received one free Ergobaby Bundle of Joy from Ergo for review.  The other Ergo carrier we bought ourselves and love :)  These gifts have in no way influenced my opinion of the products made by these companies and all opinions expressed in this post are my own.