My three-year-old took the above picture while nestled into our bike trailer on a multi-mile afternoon bike trip. Our Schwinn Trailblazer, which has served us dutifully as a double stroller and a bike trailer, is still going strong after six years of heavy use. Now that our six-year-old is finally riding his bike independently, we no longer have to strap both kids into the trailer and let them fight over the limited territory. My three-year-old now gets the whole thing to herself!
We bought our Schwinn bike trailer used on craigslist for $100 and it has served us well. But would we have enjoyed the higher-end bike trailers like a Burley D’Like Bike Trailer for $575? Or a Chariot Cabriolet Bike Trailer for $449?
Families that use bike trailers for transportation on a daily basis may want to invest in a top-quality bike trailer, but it’s well worth looking for a used model. Today on craigslist I found a slightly used Burley D’Lite Bike trailer for $115(That’s about $450 dollars less than buying a new one!). And the best news? A family could buy the trailer used, enjoy it for five years, and sell it for almost exactly the same price. Most secondhand pieces of top quality gear, if well-maintained, will re-sell for a similar amount to their purchase price.
So, in my experience, no matter what bike trailer will best meet your family needs, it’s worth the extra time to search for a used model. Do you have a bike trailer that you adore? Do you think it was worth the extra investment?
I never thought I’d be the mother of a picky eater. What imbued me with such confidence? Why, I wouldn’t allow it! I’d feed my child normal, adult foods and she would eat them, too. If she whined about it, too bad. I didn’t want to turn food into a power-play, and I didn’t want to have the kind of child who survived on Saltines and gummy worms.
I remember reading a magazine article about a mother who used to be some sort of gourmet city-slicker. Pre-kids, she and her husband would frequent all of the hottest restaurants and try all the newest food fads. She loved food—she was a food writer, for god’s sake! Two kids later, she was eating hot dogs every single night. That will never happen to me, I said to myself. I won’t allow it! NEVER!
So how did I end up here, with a daughter who does indeed survive on white food and air? Lately we’ve been on a mission to expand her eating repertoire, and she was very proud of herself for trying “salad.” That meant a microscopic piece of lettuce went into her mouth for a few seconds before she spit it out.
Here’s how it happened: She was born this way. I believe that now. I know parents of picky eaters and parents of good eaters. Sometimes the parents are picky themselves; sometimes they’re not. Sometimes one kid in the family is picky, the other is not. I think it’s just the way it goes. Audrey never liked eating. She wasn’t a good nursling. She’s always been skinny.
When it was time to introduce solid foods, I wanted to do it right. Don’t feed them rice cereal, I’d heard. If you do, they’ll develop a taste for bland foods and eat nothing else. Okay. So her first food was avocado. Then I made my own baby cereal out of ground oats. I added in pureed kale and black beans and squash. She ate almost anything if it was mixed into oatmeal. Yet we still struggled to keep her weight up, which I wrote about here in Fattening Baby, Naturally.
She got a little older and we fed her spicy foods—pad thai and salsa. She ate it up just fine. And then at some point, the pickiness settled in like a permanent fog. You see, she started making up her own mind—we could no longer shovel kale and oats into her open bird-mouth. She could say no. She was still too little for her age, so my “just make them eat what we’re eating” model didn’t work out the way I’d envisioned. The thing was, she wouldn’t eat it. She would go hungry if I did that. That’s how it began—we started thinking that she’d enjoy eating more if we fed her things she liked—toast and cheese and fruit.
I made a list of everything Audrey will eat on one of my old picky-eating posts, and some people said they didn’t think her diet sounded so bad. Now it’s three years later, and her diet is more or less the same.
While I do (sort of) believe that she is a picky eater by nature, it’s time that I admit that we have been enabling her pickiness, too. We’ve recently embarked on a mission to introduce her to more foods. I’ll post about our progress (or lack thereof) in the upcoming months. 2013 is going to be the year we turn her eating around. Just you wait!
I had visions of whirling up organic autumn blends of apples and squash for my babes. And I did, but not for every meal. I made huge batches of sweet potatoes and mashed bananas in my blender, froze them in ice cube trays, and then stored them in zip lock bags in the freezer. It was long process, but I loved reflecting on the fact that making baby food means saving about 90% over the cost of pre-made organic baby food and avoiding the environmental costs of packaging and processing. Still, working nearly full time, not getting enough sleep and having a relatively picky baby motivated to buy jars of organic baby food to save my sanity now and then.
Later, when Rebecca and I wrote, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide: Down-to-Earth Ways for Parents to Save Time and Money, I discovered (and included in the book) recipes for homemade teething biscuits and pumpkin pancakes. With my second child I got to try them out and she loved them, but I didn’t always have time to bake everything from scratch. And as we say in the book, it’s all about “progress, not perfection” so any effort was better than none!
Have you made your own baby food? What are some of your baby’s favorites? What is your favorite store-bought baby food?
This holiday season, I’ve been searching for the products that new parents are raving about in online reviews. It’s best to trust those currently in the trenches of early child-rearing for the gifts that children (and parents) will really love this holiday.
The Itzy Ritzy Snack Happened Snack Bag is an overwhelming favorite. Families love that it zips shut (unlike other reusable bags that seal with velcro), that it can easily contain an entire sandwich, and that it holds up well after several trips through the washing machine. The product would be perfect for baby finger foods and would easily transition to preschool within a few years. It’s a great stocking stuffer for a child too as parents are reporting that kids love the designs on the bags.
The Green Toys Fire Truck is another great value that parents rave about. It’s sturdy, adorable, made from recycled plastic and is currently on sale for just $20.22. (My son got the Green Toys Recycling Truck when he was two and is still playing with it as a six-year-old!)
The Melissa and Doug 60-Piece Standard Unit of Blocks is on sale for about $53, and is a great gift that will provide years of creative play for children. Parents recommend the product because of quality, durability, and the flexibility of the design options. These blocks are recommended for children above three years, but I can imagine my kids would have been chewing on them in their first year.
Chewbeads are a GENIUS gift for a new mother (and her baby!) The chic necklace is made from 100% silicone beads free from BPA, phthalates, cadmium, or any other scary stuff. The necklace can be tossed in the dishwasher to rinse off the baby drool and can be slipped over an adult’s head without having to deal with a clasp.
What gifts are you planning on buying for baby or other new parents this year? Help us share great products with our readers!
A mom I know wanted to supplement a bit with formula during her first days of breastfeeding. Our local hospital informed her that they will provide pasteurized breast milk from a milk bank, but won’t give families formula. She was a bit shocked and horrified by the thought of feeding her newborn breast milk from other women. We live in a pretty breastfeeding friendly town, so it didn’t seem like a big deal to me, but I wasn’t ever in that position. Does breast milk from a milk bank make you feel uncomfortable?
I think for me it would have been a huge relief! My milk supply dropped suddenly when I went back to work, but I didn’t want to use formula. I was exhausted from the effort and stress of pumping multiple times each day. A small amount of breast milk from a bank would have probably helped me just relax and move through the transition more easily.
Have you used breast milk from a bank? Would you be hesitant to use it? Are there barriers to obtaining breast milk from a bank that you found difficult to overcome? Have you ever donated to a breast milk bank?
Our first experience with a community supported agriculture group was mostly positive, but it pained me to take a big wilted pile of organic produce to the compost heap each week. (In case you don’t know what a CSA is, check out this post.) When we first subscribed, I was six months pregnant and working nearly full time while caring for a two year old. Our CSA membership seemed to compound my exhaustion since we received very small amounts of a wide variety of veggies every week. Faced with two rutabagas, one beet, two dozen green beans, six garlic whistles, a half cup of strawberries, and two fingering potatoes I felt utterly overwhelmed. We paid nearly $150 a month for our weekly bags of produce, but I couldn’t seem to keep up with the prep and eventually gave up.
Our new CSA costs $65 per month and gives us larger amounts of fewer vegetables. I love it! It’s much easier to handle a good quantity of four or five foods rather than to find meals to accommodate small amounts of random veggies. And the quality and taste of fresh organic produce is unbelievable!
How much do CSAs cost in your area? Have you had a chance to try more than one?
Just five years ago, I was shocked to see that major manufacturers weren’t making more BPA-free baby products. Now, you can wander down the aisles of any big box store and find dozens of shiny plastic goods with BPA-free labels. But what can you find beyond your basic BPA-free plastic baby dishes?
Green Sprouts has several options for baby dishes including the one above, made from a cornstarch based biodegradable plastic. It’s BPA and phthalate free but can’t be used in the dishwasher or microwave.
Fresh Baby’s Divided Dish is made of stainless steel, which can be washed on the top shelf of the dishwasher. It’s safe for the freezer, but obviously not the microwave. It’s snap-on lid makes it convenient for toting snacks or transporting meals to daycare. It’s also BPA, lead, melamine and phthalate free.
And now for my all time favorite…the custard cup. It’s made of thick, nearly unbreakable glass, it will be useful once your tot outgrows baby food, and it is usually microwave, dishwasher, freezer and, oven safe. Unlike many other food containers jumbled into your cupboards, custard cups are stackable and compact. Many styles come with snap on plastic lids that make them instantly into small tupperware containers. (Double check to make sure the lids are BPA and phthalate free as well.)
What are your favorite eco-friendly dishes for baby? How have they held up over many meals of mashed yams and applesauce? Did you even get baby dishes or just work with what you already had?
After two years of research, editing, and writing (with spit-up on our shoulders and cloth diapers in the dryer) The Eco-nomical Baby Guide hit bookstore shelves in the spring of 2010. We packed the book with practical tips to help families save thousands of dollars by going green. The insider secrets we’d learned in the trenches of early motherhood and from hundreds of Green Baby Guide readers were finally organized into the book that we wished we’d had as new parents.
Since then thousands of copies of The Eco-nomical Baby Guide have ended up at baby showers and green boutiques across the nation––and even the world! In December my cousin wrote me from Seoul where he and his wife are on a temporary teaching contract. Their South Korean birth coach had a copy of The Eco-nomical Baby Guide prominently displayed on her shelf. I have no idea how it made it that far, but it’s a thrill to know that our down-to-earth message is resonating with readers.
More than anything, Rebecca and I want to get copies into the hands of new and expectant parents. The Eco-nomical Baby Guide has been selling for under $10 on amazon lately, which is a great value for the amount of money it can help you save! If you’d like to read it before you buy, check it out at your local library. We have hundreds of copies in media centers across the country. If yours doesn’t have one yet, just make a request! We’re also happy to add that our publisher has just released a Kindle version of the book.
Thanks so much for your enthusiastic support of our exploration of green baby rearing on a budget. Who knew that whirling up sweet potatoes, finding secondhand strollers, and getting the best value on green goods could be such fun?
Our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide is packed with useful information for new parents who want to go green on a budget. (Are we biased? Absolutely!) Beyond the cloth diapering advice, tips on buying used gear, and a directory of the best green gear at every price point, we included recipes for homemade baby food.
Since chilly fall days are just starting to descend, we are sharing our Pumpkin Pancake recipe with our online readers. These pancakes can be made ahead of time in big batches and frozen so you can pull them out for easy breakfasts. They’re healthy, delicious, and your tot probably won’t mind if you make a stack of them up for yourself as well.
Mix all moist ingredients in one bowl and dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Combine them, adding additional milk if needed to get the right consistency. Warm griddle or skillet to medium heat and coat with vegetable oil. Cook for approximately three minutes on each side and enjoy!
As you may have read in my post on zero waste lunches, my son’s school has banned all single serving food items to eliminate trash. It’s time to invest in some greener food storage options!
I was excited about trying Lunchskins or other reusable snack bags, but read a comment on Monday from a user who struggled with mold on the fabric. Many parents LOVE the product, but others have also complained about stale food and not being able to dry the bags out enough before the next use.
Moldy bags and stale food reports make me hesitate on the brink of a purchase. At $7-15 dollars a bag, it’s tough to shell out so much and not know whether or not it will work. Does anyone else have feedback on reusable snack bags? Are you able to use them successfully? What’s your trick for avoiding mold on the fabric?