This Summer’s Cutest Cloth Swim Diapers

Cloth swim diapers make those summer days at the beach so much easier…and cuter! After all, could a disposable swim diaper even try to approach the adorability of this Kushis Goldfish Swim Diaper? Not possible!

Even for parents who don’t primarily use cloth diapers, reusable swim diapers are a great option. Instead of blowing through an entire package of disposables in an afternoon at the lake, you can just swap out between a couple of swim diapers for years!

Swim diapers’ sturdy elastic bands seem to keep waste in more effectively than disposables as well. In fact, our local pools only allow cloth diapers in the water as they’ve had more leakage issues with disposables. Plus, swim diapers can also be used as training pants near the end of the diapering years.

If all of that isn’t enough reason to switch, just check out the patterns and prints!

Have you used cloth swim diapers with your child? Do you have any favorites?

The Top Ten Items to Pack for Summer Playtime in the Park

After a full summer day at the park, my children arrive home then coated in sand and cracker crumbs…and often partially wet from running through the fountains, but it’s far easier to clean them up then the entire house. They are then gloriously hungry, tired and ready for bed (Even if the summer sun is still pouring in their bedroom windows at 8pm.)

So what have I found to be the most important items in our bag for summer afternoons at the park?

1. Snacks. If I pack twice as much food as I think my kids can possibly eat, it’s not nearly enough. So I throw in an extra bag of carrot sticks and a bonus box of crackers and hope for the best.

2. Cups. I’m too lazy to fill up water bottles these days so we bring a stack of cups and let the kids fill them up at the drinking fountain. These also double as sand toys when needed.

3. Sunscreen. Even though it’s more expensive, I have opted for the small containers of sun screen just so that I can stash them in my purse, in the car, and in the park bag.

4. Swimsuits. Our favorite summer parks have water features that can keep my kids occupied for hours.

5. Towels. These will possibly be totally soppy, sandy, and disgusting by the end of the day, but it’s nice to have them on hand.

6. Dry clothes. Having a couple of outfits on hand prevents yogurt spillage from being a deal breaker.

7. Band aids. Somehow this small piece of flexible plastic seems to convince my children that their wounds are instantly healed.

8. Plastic containers. OLd sour cream tubs make fantastic sand castles and are much smaller and easier to pack than sand buckets.

9. Mom gear. If I am going to spend six hours at the park, I have to remember those items that will keep me content. For me it’s almonds and chocolate, sunglasses, a charged cell phone, and maybe even a book.

10. Friends. O.K….these don’t really fit in a beach bag, but having a few friends for a casual playdate make the entire experience so much more fun. Children get to see their buddies and parents get a chance to celebrate the victories and failure of parenting. (Hopefully while laughing hysterically at both.)

Have I missed any key components? Are you packing cloth diapers, wipes, and other baby gear at this point as well?

Thumbs vs. Pacifiers

When Frances was 3 weeks old we started giving her a pacifier. Even as brand new parents we could tell she needed to comfort suck, and feeding on demand was giving her a lactose overload. She would gladly take the pacifier but as soon as she’d start to relax the pacifier would fall out of her mouth and she’d start crying again. After a few days we tired of this game and stopped. I was reading the archives and saw that Joy had better luck with pacifiers.

Thumb Sucking Practice

Thumb Sucking Practice

In the absence of a pacifier, Frances continued sucking on her whole fist to self-sooth. This produced a sound so loud, I swear you could hear it next door. I don’t think she was happy with it either. I half-heartedly tried to show her how to suck her thumb a few times, but I wasn’t sure it was a good idea. I mean, it’s just a bad habit to have to break later, right?

Well, her grandmother thought it might be time to try the thumb again and Frances took to it right away (although it was a few days before she mastered it). Now she happily sucks away when she’s falling asleep and is sleeping even longer stretches at night. Are we going to live to regret this?

Did you encourage your baby to use a pacifier or suck her thumb?

White Noise Apps

Now that Francis is sleeping more at night, she’s having a harder time falling asleep for her nap.  Unless I’m carrying her around on my back, she fights sleep no matter how tired she is.  I didn’t mind too much until I hurt my back and carrying her meant my back never had a chance to heal.  Since a well rested baby is a happy baby, I needed to find another solution.

It wasn’t until another mom at my breastfeeding support group brought it up that I was reminded about white noise.  Of course!  Later that day when Frances started rubbing her eyes and getting inconsolably fussy that I downloaded a white noise app on my phone and gave it a whirl.  Let’s just say it worked like magic.

So far she only likes two of the sounds available on TMSOFT’s free White Noise Lite, and I wonder if it’s worth it to upgrade to the paid version.  Or maybe I should try a different app?

Do you use white noise apps to calm your fussy baby?  What app do you like best?

Why Buy an Expensive Diaper Bag?

Can you answer this question for me? I’m baffled by baby registries that include requests for designer diaper bags. Like this Kate Spade Diaper Bag, below that costs $418 dollars. That’s more than I spent (total) on cloth diapering both my babies!

Important disclaimer: I live in Eugene, Oregon where Birkenstocks, yoga pants, and french braids are considered high fashion. Maybe if I did live in a more urban area, I would feel the pressure to have a top of the line diaper bag. But really, when I think of the conditions that a diaper bag has to endure (without giving specifics, but mentioning the word “blow-out”), I can’t imagine investing so much in a bag. (Especially when it can’t be thrown in the washer!)

If you enjoy changing diapers while wearing a vintage western jacket with leather fringe, I think the above Timi and Leslie Diaper Bag is just perfect for you. And at just $159, it’s a fraction of the price of the first option!

The Skip Hop Duo Double Diaper bag is infinitely more practical, and costs just $59.99.

We opted for a beach bag with pockets, like the one above, that will cost you $4.99. That left us plenty of money to buy a few wet bags for cloth diapers(below) and a changing pad. Total cost, far, far less than any of the above options! (and washable!)

Did you find a diaper bag that was worth the investment? Did you use a backpack or some bag that you already had? Thanks for your diaper bag tips!

Buying Secondhand Maternity Clothes

Of the nine months that a woman spends building a baby, she’s really only sporting a baby bump for about six of them. So is it worth investing money in some high quality maternity clothes? The adorable A Pea in the Pod dress below is $178. Would you go for it?

Unless I was planning on having twelve more children, I can’t see shelling out that much cash for a dress I would wear a handful of times, especially since used maternity clothing is in such great supply. If I hit the half off sales at my local thrift stores, I could end up with top quality garments for about $3 apiece. If no one knows that my clothes come from Goodwill, and I get to save a few hundred dollars on a maternity wardrobe, why wouldn’t I go for it?

Being a teacher, I’m not required to be at the height of fashion while pregnant, but I actually loved the pieces that were handed down to me by friends or picked up at secondhand shops. I know we live in thrift store heaven here in our college town, but Ebay is also a great outlet for quality maternity clothes at a huge discount.

And since it might take awhile to get your pre-baby body back, secondhand shops are also a great place find a transition wardrobe. I headed to thrift stores for the first time when I was pregnant, but after purchasing a transition wardrobe I loved and then dropping the weight, I realized that I never wanted to go back to retail. I’ve been outfitting my casual and professional wardrobe with gently used clothing ever since!

Are you planning on buying new maternity wear or have you found a source for used clothing?

The Thrill of Thrift Shopping

There was time when I found secondhand shops distasteful. Everything seemed dingy and damaged. Why would people pay (even a little) for other people’s junk?

Now thrift shops are my first stop for clothing, household items, toys and much, much more. Why this shift? Once I gained the patience to search harder for treasures, I realized the huge payoff for buying secondhand. Beyond the environmental benefit, we support a charity every time we shop and end up scoring stuff for about 75% less than department store prices.

This weekend was no exception. We headed off to Goodwill to search for Hotwheels cars (my budget-savvy six-year-old already realizes he can get more for his money at a secondhand shop), a coat for my daughter, and a bike helmet for my son.

We found a deep purple, London Fog jacket (with the tags still on) for my daughter for $4.00. As you can see, it was love at first sight for her. We also found a perfect Hotwheels bike helmet for $4.00. (The exact coat and bike helmet are pictured below.) A set of two Hotwheels cars brought the total to $9.00

How much would my total have been at a department store? The coat retails for $29.95 and the helmet sells for $19.95. With the Hotwheels cars the total would have been over 50 dollars!

I don’t always find just what I’m looking for right away, but I do buy items in advance and keep track of upcoming needs for my family. If it doesn’t end up working out, I just send it back to another thrift shop, knowing that at least my mistake helped support a good cause.

Other treasures? My beautiful green angora sweater, which also still had the tags on, purchased for $2.50. My Banana Republic jeans for just $3.00 and loads of other brand name duds, most of which I buy on half-price days.

I love that my kids have a huge comfort zone with buying used and that they may even stick with secondhand shopping in their teen years and later in adulthood. When I think of all the money I could have saved, I can’t believe I didn’t start thrifting sooner!

Do you frequent secondhand shops or are you still turned off by the whole idea? Do you like to stick to online outlets like Ebay or Craigslist?

It’s Time for Babies to Wear Their Hearts on Their Diapers

It’s that time of year again. Romance is in the air. What better way to celebrate the day of love than to shower your little cupid with heart-themed diapers and onesies? Yeah, it’s a stretch, but I can never resist an opportunity to find the latest holiday-themed baby bling. Here’s what’s hot for Valentine’s Babies of 2013:

 

Charlie Banana Red Petit Coeur on Hot Pink ($21.88)

Baby Leggings Hot Pink Ruffles with White Hearts ($6.96)

Bumpkins Keith Haring Grande Diaper Bag Heart ($21.68)

Okay, this is actually a really cool diaper bag! Year round!

Ju-Ju-Be Mighty Be Diaper Bag Sweet Hearts ($45.87)

Be My Valentine Baby Leggings ($6.98)

Sigg Hello Kitty Valentine Bottle ($15.99)

Organic Baby Bodysuit Pink Hearts and Skulls ($36.97)

It’s surprising how many baby clothes feature skulls these days.

See Kai Run Organic Cotton Socks ($9.99)

Also, I really like these socks.

Work it, babies!

Adorable, Quality Cloth Potty Training Pants!

We have the honor of owning two pairs of these adorable potty-training pants by Kara at Little Acorn Designs, and they are dearly loved. Why? My daughter is extremely sensitive to “wedgies” and cries at any point that she thinks her underwear might bunch in the wrong places. So even though she had these exact cloth training pants since she got out of diapers two years ago, she still cherishes her Little Acorn Designs Undies. (And they are still holding up beautifully!)

Just what makes them so fantastic? Is it the soft, stretchy waistband? The extra-soft cotton knit that comes from recycled t-shirts? Or the padded middle area made from super absorbent Zorb 2 fabric? Maybe it’s just magic of the whole combination. But I do know that these never, ever give my daughter a wedgie. (Which makes all of us happy!)

These trainers are just $9.50 each and the cost helps support another mom entrepreneur. When you think about the ongoing financial and environmental cost of pull-ups, that’s a great investment! And my daughter has worn them well beyond potty-training.

Have you found any special items on Etsy that you just love? Please share with us! It’s such fun to support other moms while finding unique and beautiful items for your babe!

Maybe Just One More Baby…?

While we theoretically wanted more than one child, after the first year or so of parenting our first, we weren’t entirely sure. I was tired. I was living in body that still hadn’t recovered from pregnancy and birth, and I couldn’t imagine being in charge of another human being. But somehow, just twelve months later, I was happily pregnant.

What happened? I’m pretty sure it was just short term memory loss. I slogged through another pregnancy while encountering the parenting challenges of the terrible twos, working nearly full time, and writing our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide.

Still, the moment my daughter, Jovi, arrived, it was so clear that we had made the right choice. In the exhausting weeks that followed, we weren’t always euphoric about our new parenting demands, but we also delighted about having our new baby.

And now…my little newborn in 3 1/2 years old–and I’m 40. It’s very clear to me that I do NOT want to host a living being in my body at this point, but adoption sort of dangles out there attractively as a possibility. It’s not the paperwork of adoption, or the complicated process of adoption, or the cost of adoption–but the fact that some baby out there needs a loving family and that there is room in our home.

We still have much of the baby gear from our first two, although I have put most of it out on loan. But there are eight Fuzzi Bunz cloth diapers that I can’t seem to get rid of. What if we do decide to have another child and I won’t have them on hand? (It’s ridiculous, I know!)

And yet when one of my kids has the flu or the laundry piles up, it’s very clear to me that we are utterly, absolutely, happily done adding members to our family. But then a few months go by, and that short term memory loss kicks in again.

Am I actively pursuing adoption? Not even remotely. But if someone left a baby in a basket on our doorstep, it would be easy to fold that little person into our family life. Have you ever struggled with the decision to have another baby? Is environmental impact a factor for you? Or cost? Or just the added complication?