Does baby need a minivan, a three bedroom home, and an expansive yard? As parents peruse baby registries and ponder the sheer bulk of stuff they’re expected to bring home, it certainly can seem that “upsizing” is the only way to raise baby comfortably. Are you managing to balk the social pressure and raise your little one in a smaller space? What are the challenges? What are the benefits? What would you tell other expectant parents who are hoping to manage with less space when baby arrives? Thanks for sharing your experiences!
One complaint we hear about cloth diapers is that they’re too bulky. Babies sporting disposables boast a trim and lean figure, while cloth-wearing tots have what we may affectionately refer to as a “basketball butt.” How can you avoid this dreaded condition? Here are some ideas:
Embrace it. If you have a skinny baby (as I did), you’re in luck, because you’ll find clothes will fit much better with the cloth diapers than without. In fact, once my daughter potty trained, she couldn’t fit in most of her pants anymore! Also, don’t babies look adorable sporting hu-u-ge diapers like this one? You can’t get that look with a boring old fitted disposable diaper!
Switch to pocket diapers. Prefolds with covers will be bulkier than pocket diapers, which usually have just a thin terry insert.
Buy bigger clothes. One of my friends confessed that she almost gave up on cloth diapering because none of her daughter’s pants could fit over the Bulge of the Cloth. Then she had a flash of insight: She could buy bigger clothes. Problem solved!
How have you overcome the challenges of bulky cloth diapers . . . or learned to accept them?
Want to repair your tired diaper covers for just a few bucks and an hour of your time? I learned how recently from my good friend Valerie Perrot. As she began to cloth diaper her second child, she noticed the covers she had used with her first weren’t fastening correctly. Upon closer inspection, Valerie found that the soft part of the Velcro closures wasn’t as deep as it should be. Considering that she had purchased the covers used, she wasn’t surprised that they were worn–but she wasn’t about to go out and buy a whole new set for her second child.
After getting advice from a seamstress, Valerie decided to take matters into her own skilled hands. She found an outdoor gear website called thegreenpepper.com that offered soft Velcro and heavy duty sewing needles for just under ten dollars. The Green Pepper has loads of patterns for making your own backpacks, fleece jackets and other notions, as well as fabric and materials. Honestly, the website is a bit difficult to negotiate, but they are very helpful if you call or email.
Valerie stitched the soft looped part of the Velcro on right across the old, and within an hour had completely repaired all of her diaper covers. She didn’t need to replace the hook side of the Velcro at all! Not only will the covers work better on baby number two, but the high quality Velcro she used will allow them to be passed onto other babies for years to come.
You might be able to score diaper covers in consignment shops or garage sales that are marked down because of faulty Velcro. With just a little bit of work, they can be repaired and provide an easy and inexpensive solution for diapering baby.
Thanks for joining us for a whole new year of Thrifty Green Thursdays! If you’d like to be one of our contributors this week, click here to learn how to jump right in. We hope you can share some frugal, eco-friendly tips with our readers in 2009!
Those first few months with a new baby are exhausting, and sometimes it’s difficult to scrounge up a piece of toast, let alone a complete wholesome breakfast. While homemade oatmeal is a cheap, nutritious standby, sometimes you might want to indulge in something even easier.
Now, as a whole foods purist, I was not seduced by the organic packaged foods at Grocery Outlet–but my husband, Andy, was. Here are his reviews of some of the products he tried.
Nature’s Path Organic Toaster Pastries, brown sugar maple cinnamon. ($2.00, $.33 each)
6 per package
16 g sugar, 3 g protein
All natural, organic ingredients-but the second ingredient is sugar.
Andy: “They weren’t sweet enough. They’re a little bit dry–maybe because I’m used to Pop Tarts, which are too sweet. They were good, though, because they’re filling because they’re whole wheat, so they’re pretty hearty. Admittedly, they’re probably better if they’re toasted.”
Weil by Nature’s Path organic Veri-Berry hot oatmeal. ($3, 37.5 cents each)
10 g sugar, 4 g protein
Second ingredient sugar
Andy: “The first time I made it I didn’t make it right. [He just added hot water but didn't cook it further, so the berries didn't hydrate enough.] The second time I made it the right way, so the berries expanded. I don’t think one packet is enough for a meal. I had to have two.”
Weil by Nature’s Path organic Chocolada Almost hot oatmeal. ($3.00, 37.5 cents each)
8 g sugar, 4 g protein
Second ingredient sugar!
Andy: That surprised me because I didn’t think I’d like chocolate oatmeal, but it was pretty good. It seemed richer than the berry one. It was cocoa-y and good.”
Health Valley organic toaster tarts (raspberry). ($1.50, 25 cents each)
First ingredient raspberry filling, second sugar.
16 g sugar, 2 g protein–but many vitamins including folate (good for pregnant women!)
Andy: “Those were good. I ate them all really quickly. They were small, so just one bar is not a meal. Once I ate one of those in the afternoon–violating my breakfast rule–because they were so good. They are kind of like Fig Newtons. But they’re small, and there’s a lot of packaging to them, which is the unfortunate part. One of those coupled with an oatmeal was the perfect breakfast.”
Balance pure “made with simple ingredients” fruit and nut energy bar. ($3.00, 33 cents each)
Evaporated cane juice invert syrup, cashews, soynuts, dates, cocoa, soy protein, peanut oil, salt
16 g sugar, 9 g protein
First ingredient is sugar
Andy: “Those are like a little brownie; they’re pretty good. They’re rich. I could imagine eating just one of those for a light breakfast. They’re kind of filling, more like a traditional energy bar. Calorie to dollar those are probably one of the better deals.”
Yes, I will be the first to admit that packaged breakfast foods are not actually “green, ” although the fact that they’re natural and organic makes them a little better than some of the other offerings in the freezer aisle. They work for Andy, and they may save the sanity of a sleep-deprived new parent out there, too. For more Works for Me Wednesday tips, head on over to Rocks in My Dryer.
Here in Oregon, the only way our children get to see the light of day during the winter is to slip on raingear, hitch up their boots and enjoy some puddle jumping. As I was shopping for my son’s rain slicker this year I hit several used clothing stores without any luck. Finally, I went to my local retailer to pick up a coat and found the icky plastic smell overwhelming. It made me wonder, what were raincoats really made of?
I was worried that PVC, a toxic chemical often used in waterproof items such as shower curtains, bibs, and sometimes even soft baby’s chew toys, could be a factor. PVC or polyvinyl chloride releases toxins such as mercury, dioxins, and phthalates throughout its life cycle. For more info on PVC, check out this website.
When I googled “PVC in children’s raincoats,” instead of getting articles describing the dangers, I found several raincoats for sale openly stating that they were made of PVC. How bizarre!
I finally found a few spots that sell PVC-free raincoats on line. Calunaloves.com, CWDkids.com, Lands End, and L.L. Bean all offer coats made of safer plastic. Apparently many big box stores also have plans to eliminate PVC from their product lines. When shopping, look for the PVC-free tag in raincoats.
I’m still in search of the perfect raincoat, so please give me your advice if you’ve found one you love!
People are often shocked by cloth diapers, but as we’ve learned firsthand, it’s really no big whoop to wash diapers yourself. We are impressed, however, by the families who cart their diaper laundry to coin operated machines a few times a week. If you are just such a family, we’d like to know how you do it. Rebecca wrote a post on washing diapers in public machines here, but we’d appreciate even more input. Did you spend a lot of money on laundry? Are there machines in your building or do you have to travel to a Laundromat? Have you gotten any negative or positive responses from other Laundromat customers or building tenants? Would you recommend it to someone else? Thanks for sharing your experiences and wisdom with our readers!
I first encountered diaper-free kids on a trip to China, where I witnessed little ones running around in split pants. “How do parents know that they have to go?” I asked. “Oh, they just know,” I kept hearing. When I returned home I checked out a couple books on the subject. Here are a few titles I found on Amazon:
Infant Potty Basics: With or Without Diapers– The Natural Way by Laurie Boucke
The Diaper-Free Baby: The Natural Toilet Training Alternative by Christine Gross-loh
So how do parents know when their babies have to go? They observe their children for signals and use cues to help their babies go on a little potty rather than in a diaper. After reading one of Laurie Boucke’s books, I vowed that one day I, too, would raise my baby diaper-free. My main motivation was to avoid diapers altogether and save the planet. My only problem was that I didn’t have an actual baby at the time.
A few years later, my daughter was born, and suddenly observing her signals and using cues seemed too overwhelming for me. I am sad to report that I did not even attempt to potty train her at birth. I still think infant potty training sounds like a great way to help out the environment. Has anyone here given it a try? Please post a comment–or drop us an email–and let us know how you kept your baby out of diapers!
For us, the craziness of life with a toddler takes over any moments we could use to reflect on our spending habits, but this is the perfect time to evaluate our family budget and make some positive changes. We aren’t always thinking of our long-term goals or values when we run out to a big box store and come back with far more than we intended. But we’ll start by acknowledging our progress this year.
2. How can we go greener and cut costs in 2009?
How do you manage spending and assure that it aligns with your eco-friendly values? Do you go through your budget each January and set goals for the coming year? We’d love to hear how you are planning on saving money and energy in 2009!
Please add a link below if you have a way to jumpstart a money-saving, energy saving lifestyle. If you’re not sure how to start, check here for directions. We’d love to have you share your comments and input with the other bloggers who are joining us this Thrifty Green Thursday!
In the early days of the Green Baby Guide, I admitted to some baby “rules” I violate to save the planet. One of them is separating baby clothes from the rest of the laundry–a guideline I heard during our childbirth class and read in various baby books and websites. I am not sure what the reasoning behind that bit of advice is; certainly if someone in the house has a contagious illness there are easier ways to catch it than wearing clothes that have been washed in the same load.
The average family of four does more than seven loads of laundry a week. Many people wash even more than that, according to the answers to this Yahoo question. We (three of us) don’t do any more than three–maybe four–loads a week, and that includes diaper laundry! (We also use cloth napkins and dish towels instead of paper towels.) Reducing the amount of laundry you do can save thousands of gallons of water, not to mention electricity. If you have a 40 gallon top-loading machine and wash a load a day, you’re using over 14,000 gallons of water to wash your clothes every year! Tumble drying all those clothes could release as much as 1,825 pounds of carbon into the atmosphere in a year’s time, depending on where you live.
So how can you cut down on laundry? Here are three ideas:
Doing much less laundry works for me. (For more Works for Me Wednesday tips, check out Rocks in My Dryer.) How many loads of laundry do you wash per week? Any more tips for reducing the amount you do?
More Green Baby Guide laundry posts:
As we’ve been churning out blog entries, parenting our toddlers, teaching, and keeping up with our monthly column in Metro Parent, we’re also finishing up work on our book, The Green Baby Guide: Down-to-Earth Ways to Save Time, Money and The Planet. We’re sorry to say that you’ll have to wait awhile to see a copy since it won’t be published by Stewart, Tabori and Chang until the spring of 2010, but our deadline is looming in just a few short months and we’d love to get more input.
We’re specifically looking for people who are willing to be interviewed (by email) on the following topics:
If you have a fascinating story that you think may fit into our book, please comment on this post or email us. We’d love to hear more!