The Best Valentine’s Gifts For Expectant and New Moms

As a new mom or a pregnant woman, I didn’t always feel particularly romantic on February 14th.  But I did appreciate any efforts to make me feel loved and appreciated.

My husband, who is a fantastically thoughtful fellow, took me out for Valentine’s Day sushi while I was pregnant with my son.  I had been experiencing deep and vivid sushi cravings and enjoyed the food so much that I actually asked him to stop talking so I could chew in silence with my eyes shut.  It was so rude–but the sushi was divine!  That kind of patience and grace is really the stuff of true love.

So what would a pregnant mother or new mother want this Valentine’s Day?  I can’t speak for everyone, but I know that for many women, their longings aren’t limited to flowers and chocolates.  Here are some suggestions based on my hazy memories from those time periods.

Sleep. Taking the baby overnight so that a new mother can get a solid six to eight hours of consolidated slumber is utterly glorious.  I know I would have even been thrilled to get a break for a few hours for a nap and a shower.

Food. Growing another human being in your body is bound to make you hungry.  When that little person arrives and you’re breastfeeding ten times in twenty-four hours, it can seem impossible to get enough to eat.  What a gift to provide dinner or offer to grocery shop for someone! My mother filled my fridge with nutritious foods and served them to me at regular intervals when each of my children arrived.  It wasn’t Valentine’s Day, but I felt nourished with love!

Housecleaning. What would it feel like if someone arrived at your door and spent a few hours washing dishes, doing laundry, and straightening up?  I suppose some people would feel uncomfortable, but I am not one of them.  What a gift to save time and be able to enjoy a more orderly home.

A date. It took my husband and I a long time before we could secure a babysitter, make plans, and haul ourselves out for an evening with a new baby.  But what a wonderful reminder that we aren’t just parents, we’re partners!  If you can provide babysitting to friends or family to allow a couple to go on a short date, it would probably be greatly appreciated.

Time alone. As mothers, we become accustomed to being with our children every waking moment.  I was just laughing with a friend about how we sometimes have to hold our babies on our laps while we use the toilet.  What happened to privacy?   Imagine having two hours to clean out your closet, journal, or run errands.  Bliss….

The Eco-nomical Baby Guide. This is pretty much a shameless marketing ploy, but we do heartily believe that our book is a good investment at a cost of twenty bucks.  Even though we’re frugalistas, sometimes you have to spend a bit to save heaps.  And maybe they’re just being polite, but we keep getting enthusiastic thanks from readers who are glad to have found an eco-friendly, budget-friendly baby guide like ours.   We also get regular praise from women who read our book after they’ve had a few children, and wish they would have had it years ago.  It’s packed with the sort of realizations you have in the years following your first child, such as “We don’t really need a lot of gear!” And, “We could save heaps by buying secondhand clothing and using cloth diapers.”  And, “Hey, why don’t we just puree up the baby food ourselves?”  Plus it has a full guide to the best values in new green gear.  Who could resist?

Whatever you get for Valentine’s Day this year, I hope that it makes you feel cherished.   Many of us will receive roughly scribbled pictures on red construction paper, bordered with glitter.  Really, what could be better than that?

How Have You Re-Used Your Baby’s Cloth Diapers?

Have you sold your baby’s used cloth diapers?  Did you pass them onto a friend’s baby?  Did you use a site like Diaper Swappers to trade them in for a different size?  Does your local consignment shop accept secondhand cloth diapers?

We’ve happily passed some newborn covers and diapers onto other parents, but our small prefolds are currently stashed in a kitchen cupboard to mop up floor spills.  Those green-stitched cotton prefolds were purchased secondhand from a diaper service, then diapered both my children, and were also leant to a friend to diaper her two children before they became kitchen rags.  Some of them eventually get so ratty that I toss them into the compost bin, but about two thirds of my original diapers are still going strong!

Eco-friendly Potty Training Gear

After Joy’s recent posts about The History of Potty Training in America and Training Pants for Babies and Toddlers, I’m sure you’re left wondering, “What’s new in eco-friendly potty training gear?” Well, we’re here to satisfy your curiosity.

Safety 1st Nature Next 3-in-1 Potty


According to the product description: The Safety 1st Nature Next potty is made of 50% bio-plastic in a zero landfill factory. Besides being eco-friendly, it’s also one of the most versatile potties available: a potty, trainer seat, and step stool, all in 1. Removable bowl for easy cleanup.

TrendyKid becoPotty


  • Made from natural plant fibers
  • Ethical manufacturing
  • Biodegradable
  • High back offers extra support
  • Large splashguard helps keep potty training hygienic

Growing Up Green Bamboo Potty Seat


  • Fits most standard and elongated toilets
  • 100% bamboo
  • Wash with mild soap
  • Pesticide-free
  • Eco-friendly

Growing Up Green Bamboo Wood Step Stool


  • Multi-purpose
  • 100% bamboo
  • Wash with mild soap
  • pesticide-free
  • Eco-friendly

Do you own any of these eco-friendly potties, potty rings, or step stools? Please chime in with your reviews!

Training Pants for Babies and Toddlers

If you read my post on the history of American potty training, you know that infant potty training was the norm until the 1980’s when disposables gained a growing market share and experts re-thought toilet training norms from decades past.  In fact, I can’t help but mention that in the 1950’s and 1960’s, 95% of all toddlers were toilet trained by 18 months!

Today, most of the mainstream training pants come in size 2T and larger.  My daughter is 18 months old and her training pants invariably end up around her ankles after ten minutes of running through the house.  I’m searching for a smaller pair of training pants that will accommodate  younger children.

I’ve heard great things about Imse Vimse Organic Cotton Training Pants, mainly from Rebecca.  She used them with her small daughter and was impressed by their quality and effectiveness.   There is no waterproof layer, so they have to be used at home–but they give your child a full sense of how uncomfortable it feels to wet her pants.  A small sized pair of Imse Vimse training pants fits babies 24-31 pounds, which is still far too big for my petite sized daughter–but will fit other children that range from 15-24 months.

Mother-Ease Training Pants seem like a better fit, since a size small ranges from 20-30 pounds.  They have a waterproof layer on the outside, so would work more easily on the go.  They’re also a reasonable $13.50 a pair.

Although I have no idea what their sizing means, I have to say that Blueberry Trainers Pants are just about the cutest things I have ever seen.  They are not waterproof, but their vibrant colors and thick comfortable layers make them really appealing.  And what toddler wouldn’t want to start potty training in order to sport a pair of these stylish pants?

If you’re training an infant, you’ll be happy to know that Diaper Free Baby’s website now sells infant underwear for just $6.00 a pair, and baby training pants for just $8.00 a pair.  They’re not waterproof, but since they’re specifically from a site that emphasizes elimination communication, you know that they will actually fit!

Do you use pocket diapers for potty training, make your own, or find another great brand of training pants?  Please give me your tips on favorite cloth trainers for young toddlers or babies!

Eco-friendly Valentine Gift Ideas

These Valentines are more interesting than a heart-shaped box of waxy chocolates–and they’re better for the planet, too.

Greenfire 3 Pack Lavender Sandalwood Vanilla All Natural Massage Oil Candles, fragranced with essential oils


The tins are even recyclable!

The Lorax Project by Dr. Seuss Eco-friendly 24 Valentines


These bookmark valentines are perfect for a child’s whole class.

8 Organic Chocolate Bars, Tea-infused, in Organza Bag


Organic tea-infused chocolate!

Lettuce Mesclun Valentine Certified Organic Seed


What could be eco-friendlier—or more romantic—than some organic Valentine lettuce?

Come back later this week for some DIY Valentine gift ideas!

The History of Potty Training in America

If you’ve read my recent post on the history of cloth diapering in America, you know that I spend a lot of time wondering how we as parents are influenced by current history–and what we can learn from the past.  Of course, like the history fanatic that I am, I found the information on potty training in America fascinating.

Early potty training in America was completely parent-centered and sometimes disturbingly so. In the early 1900s children were on strict elimination schedules and parents even used suppositories or enemas to enforce regularity. Toddlers were admonished or  physically punished for accidents.  Potty training usually began at six months of age.

Although the harsh potty training methods of earlier decades were abandoned after World War II, potty training still happened far earlier than it does today. One hundred percent of babies wore cloth diapers  in the 1940s and 1950s and 95% of children were potty trained by the age of 18 months.  (Obviously, cloth diapering parents were quite motivated to start training their children early.)

Thirty years later, disposable diapers became more effective and less expensive and the public shift moved away from cloth.  Since many women had entered the workforce, families began to use cloth diaper services or disposables instead of instead of laundering their own diapers. As a result potty training ages started to increase.

In the 1980s Dr. T. Berry Brazelton advocated that parents wait until their children were ready to train, partially in response to the harsh potty training routines that were used decades earlier.  Most parents now don’t even think about attempting toilet training until their children are two or older.  In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting until your child is 18 months old, since it will take her that long to be able to hold her bladder or her bowel movements.  (Isn’t that interesting considering that 95% of babies were  potty trained by 18 months in years past, without the harsh potty training methods of the early 1900s?)

In a dramatic shift, today about 90% of American children wear disposables, and only about 10% are potty trained by 18 months.

With new disposables for children up to four and five years old, the average potty training age in America has now moved to 30 months (but can go as high as 60 months).

Our household history of potty training our two children has shown that while there is no reason to feel pressured to achieve early potty training, it’s possible to buy a potty seat and let your child use it now and again even before age one.  We plopped our baby (pictured below)  on the potty seat at seven months when it appeared that she needed to have a bowel movement.  Obviously it wasn’t a chore and she enjoyed the attention she got for her efforts.  She now uses the potty for solid elimination about 60% of the time, but is cloth diapered all the time.  She was using baby sign to show that she needed to poop at about eight months old.  It’s not all that amazing, but it’s something I never would have even thought about with my first child.

What insights have you gained about potty training through talking with parents and grandparents?  Have you experimented with elimination communication? Do you think cloth diaper use has helped with potty training for children in your life?

How Do You Cope With the Exhaustion of Early Parenthood?

My favorite act of support is bringing a meal to the family of a newborn.  Why?  Because I remember. I remember the piles of laundry and dishes.  I remember that crazy insatiable hunger of early breastfeeding.  But more than anything, I remember the free falling fatigue—and the creeping terror that I would never be able to sleep for more than three hours ever again.

We’ve just recently had a run of challenging nights, which puts me back in that familiar fog.  I feel unable to track my own thoughts, I struggle with patience, and more than anything I just want to be able to lay my head on my pillow.  (And I find myself daydreaming about unexpected opportunities to nap.)

I cope by just accepting the fact that I have no control over sleep—and many other parts of my life now that I’m a parent.  Also, I rely on caffeinated beverages.

How do you deal with exhaustion?  Are you lucky enough to have family members that can provide you with a break? Are you naturally nocturnal?  Are you currently in the middle of sleepless struggles? Do tell!

For more sleep-deprivation support, read Pregnancy Exhaustion and the Importance of Self Care, Post Partum Exhaustion and Coping With Less Sleep, Exhausted Eco-Friendly Motherhood, and Sleep Vs. The Planet.

Cozy Wool Clothing, Diapers, and Blankets for Baby

Chilly winter weather has me thinking about cozy wool blankets and clothes. We adore wool—it’s warm, it’s natural, it’s absorbent. And of course all these wool baby items are soft against tender skin.

Organic Merino Wool Baby Sweater by LANAcare ($53.00-$61.00)

Merino Kids Baby Sleep Bag ($79.99)

Baby BeeHinds Wool Wrap Diaper Cover ($23.50)

Cocooi Babywrap Newborn Baby Swaddle and Cap ($69.99)

SmartWool Baby Sock Sampler ($18.75)

Did you splurge on any wool baby diapers, clothes, or blankets? Let us know what you think. For more wooly delights, check out these posts:

Has anyone tried wool diapers?
Product Review: Danish Wool Nursing Pads
Reusable Nursing Pad Reviews and Recommendations

Solutions for Nighttime Yeast Infections Caused by Cloth Diapers

We all want to consider the health of the planet, but when our babies end up with reoccurring rashes and yeast infections from cloth diapers at night, it can be tempting to switch to disposables.  I did.  Of course, first there were weeks of trouble shooting, but then exhaustion set in and I surrendered to disposables.  I tried to switch back several times, all with the same results.

Our readers have rushed to my aid with a host of tips for yeast infection prevention and treatment.  Perhaps they can keep you from using disposables in those hazy nights of early parenting. They inspire me to continue my quest for an all-cloth diaper lifestyle!

“An Indian friend recommended using Neem Cream, or Neam Oil Cream, which you can find in health stores and Whole Foods.  It will remove the infection but if you use it every few nights, it will help keep it from reoccurring.  Also, eating probiotic foods like yogurt helps your baby fight yeast infections.”

“Strip diapers by using one tablespoon of dishwashing detergent to the wash once a week. (Don’t add any laundry soap to it)”

“Try hemp diaper inserts. Natural fibers have less tendency to cause yeast infections while diapers made from synthetic materials hold onto odors and other materials more.”

“Put your child on a probiotic such as Florajen 3 from your local homeopathic pharmacy.  The good bacteria in his or her system will battle the yeast.”

“Bleach the diapers just once.  We did it once and never had yeast problems again.  It isn’t exactly environmentally perfect, but it keeps loads of disposables out of the trash in the long run!”

Now that my baby is slumbering for a whopping ten hours, I can actually consider giving up some sleep to make the switch.  I’ll keep you posted on my progress and look forward to the day that I am free from disposables at night!!

We welcome more tips on this topic so please share any discoveries you’ve made in your nocturnal diapering efforts.

Nighttime Cloth Diapering Success Stories

Yesterday Joy attempted to solve her nighttime cloth diapering problem using cloth diaper history. Ever since we started the Green Baby Guide in 2007, she’s been puzzling over her nighttime diaper dilemma, and after trying many of our readers’ suggestions, she still hasn’t found a way to prevent yeast infections with nighttime cloth diapering.

Two Chinese prefolds plus a basic diaper cover = my nighttime cloth diaper solution

I, on the other hand, never had any problem using cloth diapers at night. Why is this? Did my daughter have a remarkably small or extraordinary bladder? Were my diapers different? Did I employ some sort of miraculous laundering technique? Who knows?

We want to find out! Let’s share our successful nighttime cloth diapering stories and see if any patterns emerge. I’ll start: We used basic Chinese prefold diapers with a diaper cover starting at birth. After a few months, we noticed a bit of leaking, so we used two prefolds and a larger diaper cover. She looked like she was wearing a basketball, but it worked. We never deviated from this magical combo until she potty trained. Our laundry system changed a bit over the years, but we settled on doing a heavy cycle in cold water with Biokleen Laundry Detergent, and we dried them in the dryer.

Do you have a nighttime cloth diapering story to tell? Drop us a comment!