The Saturday Question: What was baby’s first food?

Many pediatricians recommend rice cereal as a standby, but conflicting information is emerging about making homemade porridge or feeding baby pureed avocados.  What did you first feed your little one and how was it received?  Did you get lots of advice from friends and family?  What seemed to work best?  Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

Family Planning and the Planet: To Breed or Not to Breed

Maybe I was a weird kid, but I remember worrying about overpopulation at a young age.  Last summer Jennifer Lance of Eco Child’s Play wrote Should We Stop Having Children to Save the Planet?  As someone who grew up with a consciousness of zero-population growth, I thought she made some excellent points.  She even includes some statistics from Mother Jones:

  • Zahara Jolie-Pitt will produce 45,000 lbs of CO2 yearly, compared with 221 lbs if she still lived in Ethiopia.
  • A typical baby goes through 3,800 disposable diapers in her first 2.5 years. (We have heard that it’s closer to 6,000!)
  • 96% of American babies wear disposable diapers. In China, only 6% do. In India, 2%.

The article was great–and the comments were fascinating, ranging from “shocked” that anyone would suggest having fewer children “just” to save the planet to dismissive of the idea that overpopulation is even something we should worry about, let alone do anything about.  At the other end of the spectrum were the people who equated having even one child with environmental terrorism.

Reading Lance’s article and the comments got me wondering about our own readers’ thoughts on the topic.  Do you (or did you) keep the planet in mind when planning your family size?

Cutting Costs in 2009: Part 1

With a recession underway and holiday bills coming due, many families are feeling the pinch this month.  But even if you’re feeling comfortable financially, January is a great time to evaluate spending and consumption in 2008 and set new goals for the year to come. 

In my family we look through our bank statements and think about how they line up with our priorities. 

1. Did we spend too much on a few things we didn’t need? 

We’re making far too many quick trips to the market that result in rash purchases.  Our goal for 2009 is to plan our meals each week and try to limit our shopping to one major trip.  Also, we tent to go a bit crazy in Grocery Outlet at times, buying some organic processed foods to stock our pantry that we sometimes don’t like in the end.

2. Are we shopping more at secondhand shops or big box stores?

The answer is pretty clear to us.  We need to be sure to hit thrift stores first and patiently wait for things to appear.  When time is a factor, we might need to pick up certain items but we can frequent secondhand shops more this year.

Next week I’ll continue the budget review by focusing on our family’s thrifty green victories of 2008 and our goals for the year to come.  We hope you’ll join us again next week for  more eco-friendly, budget friendly tips. 

If you’d like to add a link to your blog below, go here to get directions.  We’d love to have you help us make 2009 a wonderful Thrifty Green Thursday year!

Ode to the Humble Prefold (Or, Why Prefolds Could Beat Pocket Diapers in a Diaper Duel)

Don’t get me wrong–I think pocket diapers (like these pictured from BumGenius) are adorable.  They come in a variety of prints and colors, look cute flapping in the breeze on the clothesline, and go on just like disposables.  That last reason is why I see many parents recommending pocket diapers to new parents or cloth diaper novices.  Joy went on and on about pocket diapers here and herePocket diapers are advertised as “daddy and daycare approved;” meaning, I suppose, that once they are stuffed with an absorbent liner, they go on just as easily as a disposable.

Before my daughter was born, I stocked up on three dozen prefold diapers (like these pictured) and about six Velcro covers (like these basic Prorap covers Audrey is wearing).  I chose this system because they were the more economical choice.  Prefolds run about $1.25 each, whereas a Fuzzibunz costs about $17 new and $7 used. 

Now I’ve had the chance to try a variety of pocket diapers in addition to the prefolds and have come to an unconventional discovery:  I prefer prefolds to pocket diapers.  Here’s why:

1. It takes me less time to fold the prefold in thirds, place it on the cover, and put it on the baby than it does to individually stuff every pocket diaper. Sure, pocket diapers are “daddy approved,” but this seems to go along with the sexist assumption that the mom does the diaper-stuffing beforehand.

2. I spend less time doing diaper laundry with prefolds. I can wash a full load of prefolds every four days because three dozen can fit in the washer at a time. The pocket diapers, which look trimmer on the baby, actually take up more space in the washing machine. About fifteen to twenty pocket diapers make a full load.

3. Because I do less diaper laundry, using prefolds is better for the environment than pocket diapers. With my high-efficiency washer, I use 12.4 gallons of water a load. If I wash every four days, I’m using  just over 1,000 gallons a year on diaper laundry. Washing pocket diapers every other day would use 2,000 gallons–and multiply those figures by four if you have a top-loading machine.

4. Dirty diapers are easier to handle with prefolds. Cleaning out dirty pocket diapers is a mess if you don’t use diaper liners. Cleaning out prefolds is actually fun! (Okay, just joking about that one.) Seriously, though, I found that when a dirty diaper necessitated the dreaded toilet-dunk, it was easier to do with a large piece of cloth rather than a pocket diaper, which has little gussets and seams.

5. Prefolds are adaptable. Because my daughter is so small, I used just one set of prefolds–the size with the green stitching–until she potty trained. I just had to buy new covers. If I don’t have another child, I can use the diapers as rags or even resell them. (To be fair, pocket diapers have an excellent resale value as well.)

Again, the point of this post is not to diss pocket diapers, but to give the underrated prefold a chance to share the cloth diaper glory.  I keep hearing how pocket diapers are so easy to use, so cute, and so wonderful in every way, and I wanted my poor little prefolds to know that I loved them, too.  In many ways, I loved them more.  So thank you, prefold!

Prefold cloth diapers definitely work for me.  For more tips, head on over to Rocks in My Dryer.  Want to weigh in on the great pocket vs. prefold debate?  Post a comment!

Read Our New Article for 25 Ways to Green Your Pregnancy!

Our latest Green Baby Guide article is brought to you by Joy Harkins of the Just Plain Joy blog.  You’ll find twenty-five tips that will make you, your baby, and the planet happy.  Some you may have heard before (eat organic food) and others you may have never considered (purchase a scanner).  Enjoy!

25 Tips for a Green Pregnancy 

Three More Reasons I Love Pocket Diapers

#1  They have a high resale value.   Many people find it odd to consider the resale value of their diapers, but pocket diapers often sell for more than half of their retail value AFTER baby has used them.  They cost more up front, but it’s important to factor in how much they’ll earn you at a consignment shop. 

#2  They’re easier for traveling.  We always use our prefolds for weekend trips or even all-day excursions. They’re easier to put on and take off when we’re doing those creative diaper changes in a public restroom, your car trunk, or on your great aunt’s living room floor.

 #3  They’re easier to line dry.  Prefolds air dry into stiff, shingle-like sheets that aren’t easy to fold and use with baby.  But pocket diapers air dry extremely quickly and always have a soft fleecy layer close to baby’s skin.  They may require more washing, but they’re much easier to dry in any season just by hanging them on a rack in your home. 

 Stay tuned for Rebecca’s rebuttal to these pocket diaper posts when she professes her love for prefolds!

The Saturday Question: How did you gear up for your adopted child?

Adoption is catching on in America, which is a great thing for families, children and the environment.  We thought we’d ask the experts (adoptive parents) how they prepared for their new addition.  If a family knows they’re going to be welcoming a newborn there’s a lot more information about what you’ll need, but many adoptive families aren’t sure how old baby will be when the adoption proceedings are complete.  How did you deal with baby shower and gift registries?  What tips would you pass on to families who are beginning to prepare for their baby’s arrival?

The Thrill of Cloth

Here’s something disposable diaper-using parents may not understand: I truly enjoyed cloth diapering my daughter.  I didn’t just put up with it because I wanted to save money.  Nor was I slaving over those diapers as a sacrifice for Mother Earth.  Before my daughter was born, I pored over websites on the Internet, reading all about prefolds and diaper covers and laundering techniques.  Once I got my diapers, I admired their softness and cuteness; I couldn’t wait to try them out.  I even took pleasure in laundry days–ah, the anticipation of waiting for a nice, fresh batch of diapers to emerge from the dryer!

Yes, I took a picture of myself holding a cloth diaper

Scouring consignment shops for my preferred brand of diaper covers became my new focus in life.  Discovering a new cloth diapering tip (Sunlight removes stains!  You can wash diapers in cold water!) would send me into a frenzy of delight.  I know what some of you are thinking: this lady has no life.   I am exaggerating only slightly when I say that cloth diapering gives me a sense of accomplishment one must feel upon ascending Mt. Everest, winning an Olympic gold medal, or discovering a cure for diaper rash.

Starting the Green Baby Guide added a whole new layer to the thrill of cloth diapering: now I could impart my cloth diapering insights to others.  Some might have no interest in the practice whatsoever.  This is hard for me to understand, but I hear it’s true.  After all, only ten percent of the population uses cloth.  Others eschew disposables out of economic necessity or perhaps out of obligation to the planet.  And then there are those like me . . . those who can write three whole paragraphs on What Cloth Diapering Means to Me.  Those who don’t just tolerate cloth diapers, but actively like them.  A lot.

Welcome Back to the Thrifty Green Thursday Blog Carnival!

For most of us, going green isn’t about quantum leaps, it’s about tiny fledging steps that are made in the midst of our hectic lives as parents.  If you have a budget-friendly, earth-friendly tip (even one that seems a bit obvious to you) you’d be a perfect addition to Thrifty Green Thursday.  

What are the benefits of adding my post to the Thrifty Green Thursday carnival?

It’ll help you generate traffic for your site, put you in touch with like-minded bloggers, and give you a chance to pick up some easy tips for going green on a budget.

How do I join the carnival and link my post?

It’s incredibly easy. (And believe me, this is not coming from a cyber-genius!)  Just follow this link for simple instructions.  Also make sure that you include a link back to the Green Baby Guide in your post.  Email us if it doesn’t work or you have any questions and we’ll work with you.

When should I schedule my Thrifty Green Thursday posts?

The carnival is weekly and starts on Wednesday night at 7pm and runs through Thursday.  You can still add your posts after that, but it may not get as much traffic as if you post earlier.

What if my link gets deleted?

We’ll email you to make sure that you can correct the problem, but you want to be sure you include a permalink directly to your TGT post—not just to your webpage.  Then when people want to follow your link days or weeks later, they can still get back to your TGT post.  

Anything else?

It’s great to read one another’s posts and offer comments.  The Thrifty Green Thursday crew has grown into a community of bloggers because of those efforts.

We’re glad you can join us this week, and hope that you’ll make it a point to visit in the weeks to come.  Please check out the linked posts below to get a head start on saving green while going green!

Lose that Post-Pregnancy Weight–for Free!

 “Get in shape” tops many of our New Year’s Resolutions lists, especially for those of us who just gave birth . . . three years ago.  So which weight loss program will work best for you?  Will you pay to join Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers, buy cans of Slim Fast, hire a personal trainer, or renew your gym membership?  While many have had success with those methods, it should be possible to shape up without spending any extra money. 

Here are some no-cost and low-cost alternatives to personal trainers and gyms:

  1. Walk.   I consider myself extremely un-athletic, so walking is my exercise of choice.  (Here’s my car-free with baby post.)  With a baby in tow, all you need is a carrier of some kind or a stroller.  I prefer to walk to specific destinations rather than ramble aimlessly, and I do almost all my errands by foot, whether I head to the grocery store, library, doctor’s office, or emergency room.  (Yes, I walked myself to the emergency room one time.  That’s how seriously I take my perambulations.)
  2. Run.  Running does involve a bit of gear, especially if you plan to do it with a baby along for the ride.  Most doctors recommend holding off on running for six weeks after giving birth.  After that, you’ll need proper shoes and a running stroller.
  3. Bike.  I was disappointed to find out that biking with a baby under one year old is not advised.  After that, babies can ride along in a bike trailer or seat.  (I suppose this is not exactly a free or low cost exercise option, considering the expense of the bike and baby seat.  However, you can use the bike as an alternative to gas-guzzling transportation, so I’ll leave it on the list as a green form of exercise!)
  4. Hike.  I am a bit of a wimp when it comes to carrying heavy backpacks (heavy, in my opinion, is anything over about eight pounds), so I prefer to do this when someone else volunteers to carry the baby.  Actually, I prefer not to do it much at all. . . .
  5. Jumping jacks/jump rope/push-ups/other simple exercises.  Okay, these really are free.
  6. Check out fitness DVDs from the library and follow along at home.  Free!

Is anyone else resolving to get fit in 2009?  I want to know how you’re pulling it off-especially if it does not involve an elliptical machine.  

Avoiding gyms seems to work for me.  Head on over to Rocks in My Dryer for more Works for Me Wednesday ideas.