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?

Do You Still Use Your Drop-side Crib? (And do you have an immobilizer kit?)

We recently got a question from a reader about her drop-side crib:

I have a drop-side crib made in 2004, and the manufacturer does not offer an adaptor kit. I tried to access a link on your website for a kit available online ($10), but it could not display the page. Could you give me the website you have listed?
I searched around, and sure enough, it didn’t seem like anyone was selling a crib immobilizer kit that would work for any crib. All the articles I found said to check with the crib’s manufacturer. If your crib’s manufacturer doesn’t offer one, what are you to do? It’s currently illegal to buy or sell drop-side cribs. We’ve heard people weigh in with different perspectives: Some continue to use their drop-side cribs, others destroy their old drop-sides and buy new cribs for their second children.


If you can’t find a $10 immobilizer kit, I guess you could go ahead and buy this eco-friendly one for $900.

We used a drop-side crib for our baby (this was well before the ban). There was really no way for a baby to lower the sides herself, as the release mechanism was practically under the crib. If the ban had been enacted while my daughter was still sleeping in the crib, I have to admit I wouldn’t have bought a new one.


This Graco crib is more reasonable at $250. I am not sure why it showed up in my search for an “eco-friendly” crib other than the fact that it has a “smaller footprint” than other cribs and is therefore conducive to apartment living.

But let’s get back to our reader’s question: Do you know where to find a crib immobilizer kit if your crib’s manufacturer doesn’t offer one?

The Benefits of Raising Baby on the Cheap

A few weeks ago, I celebrated my fortieth birthday. As I savored the moment, I contemplated the prediction from Amy Dacyczyn, author of The Tightwad Gazette, that a life of thrift will start to pay off at about age forty. And after four decades of tightwaddery, I have to say that she’s right.

This year we have suddenly found ourselves with disposable income, but we can’t seem to bring ourselves to dispose of it! It’s finally feasible to go out to eat a bit more often (and order beverages other than water). We could even start buying clothes and household items brand new instead of always hitting the thrift store first. And luxuries like cable television, cell phone plans with texting, and fancy coffees are no longer out of reach.

And yet, our skinflint lifestyle is so ingrained that it’s tough to shift beyond it. Other than the idea of frequenting local restaurants, which does sound alluring most of the time, I’m perfectly happy living life in thrifty mode. In full honestly though I do have to confess that we made big investments in equipment this year such as a used Prius, an older van, and a new computer. Other than that, our habits are pretty much the same as they have always been.

Oh, I also have to disclose that I still sometimes slip back into bizarre schemes to use every possible resource to its fullest. Like spending two hours trying to creatively save sour milk. In the end it was a flawed scheme and only resulted in two hours of lost time and a large pot of scalded milk. So, I can still be a bit over the top at times!

Hopefully, my kids are picking up on our thrifty habits and realizing that this alternative lifestyle isn’t really all that demanding–when I’m not doing weird things with souring milk–and that living with less can be a grand adventure!

As the kids have gotten older our budget has definitely grown, but that was the gift of raising our babies according to our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide. According to cost comparisons with typical American families, Rebecca’s family and mine saved about $6,000 per year by buying used, cloth diapering, and minimizing our purchases. All that saved cash means that now we can plan family vacations, go out for the occasional ice cream cone, and enjoy making memories with our children–that they will actually remember for years to come! (Whereas they’ll never remember what diapering supplies they used, which pack and play they owned, or how many pacifiers they possessed.)

Are you doing your best to raise your baby on a tight budget? Or are you on a limited by necessity or are you saving money just for the fun of it?

Try Cloth Diapering Without The Risk!

Jillian’s Drawers offers a terrific cloth diaper trial program for families who want to give it a go without the risk. You pay $154.54 for a pack that includes new prefolds, fitted diapers, one size diapers, and all in ones (12 pieces in all!) and use the diapers for 21 days from the day they arrive. Then, if you don’t like any or all of the diapers, send them back at the end of the trial, stains and all, for a refund of $134.54. That means your total risk is just $10, although you will also spend $10 on shipping. Many of our readers have recommended the Jillian’s Drawers Changing Diapers, Changing Minds Program as way to get started since the company provides excellent phone support every day of the week for cloth diapering questions.

It’s tricky to recommend to anyone which type of diaper will work for their baby without actually having the chance to try them out. Since you can try all types of cloth diapers and send some of them back, you have the option of investing money in the diapers that work best for your family.

Have you tried the Jillian’s Drawers Diaper Trial program? How did you get started on cloth diapers?

Part-Time Cloth Diapering

What do I say to new moms who have an interest in cloth diapering but don’t know if they’re up for the switch? Buy a few cloth diapers (new or gently used) and try it out! You don’t need to make sophisticated choices about pre-folds or all-in-ones. It’s not necessary to use just one type of cloth diaper for your baby. Talk to some cloth diapering friends (and if you don’t have any, please write us!). If you have a baby boutique that carries cloth diapers in town, go see what your options are. It truly is incredibly easy–and you don’t ever need pins or plastic pants!

You will easily recoup the investment you make in a cloth diaper, simply because unlike disposables, it will have a resale value! Also, the more you use those cloth diapers, the more your savings will add up. You save over $1000 for each child that you diaper with cloth, and if you even use cloth diapers part of the time, you’ll be saving a few hundred dollars each year.

If you’d like more in-depth information on cloth, our website has dozens of posts on cloth diapering and our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, is loaded with information on everything from how to select diapers to how to care for them. For those trying to master diaper vocabulary, there are plenty of charts explaining the variety of cloth diapers on the market.

Are you diapering full time with cloth or just wanting to give them a try? Next week’s post will have some great info on how you can try cloth diapering for 21 days with very little financial risk and lots of diapering options!

Last Minute Holiday Gifts for Expecting Mothers

What do you get the woman who is transitioning into motherhood? Should you focus on pampering her or welcoming that new baby into the family? Maybe you can do a little of both!

The Earth Mama, Angel Baby “A Little Something for Mama-to-be” is a terrific gift set for a new mom at a great price! (It’s currently on sale for $15.99.) The company is based right here in Oregon and the products are naturally luxurious. The kit includes organic wellness tea, happy mama-to-be hand to toe wash, happy mama spray, earth mama body butter, and natural stretch oil.

For baby, you might want to buy a Christmas Polka-Dots Small Fitted Diaper by DaMory Diapers. This adorable little number is just $8.00, with a print that is fun enough to wear throughout the year.

Have we mentioned that we wrote a fantastic book entitled, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, about going green on a budget? With an emphasis on buying quality, buying used, and repurposing what you already have, this book can save families thousands of dollars. It’s also funny, humble, and packed with anecdotes from green moms from around the nation.

If you’re wanting to buy a bigger gift for that mom-to-be, an Ergo Carrier is a great investment. Compared to other carriers, my back was far happier toting my babe in the Ergo. It also allowed me to breast feed (hands-free!) while I wheeled the card up and down the grocery aisle. Ergos have a high resale value too,..and if you can find one used to give as a gift, that’s even better!

The best gifts I received as a new mom were all direct acts of support such as meals, babysitting, and offers to clean my bathroom. Did you welcome those offers into your house in the early days of parenthood or would you rather have gotten a few more supplies for baby?

Our Giveaway Winners!

Congratulations to Manda, Jasmine, and Kat for winning the gluten-free flours of their choice from our Gluten-free Gourmand Giveaway! Your flours should be arriving shortly.

flours from the Gluten Free Gourmand

 

And congratulations to Alix, who won the wooden toy assortment from our Papa Don’s Toys Giveaway. Alix, I emailed you!

Thank you to the Gluten-free Gourmand and Papa Don’s Toys for sponsoring our giveaways!

Top-Rated Green Gifts for Babies and Toddlers

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!

Giveaway! Win an adorable wooden baby toy from Papa Don’s

I like to imagine Diana and Garth of Papa Don’s sitting in a snug little cabin next to a wood stove, whittling toys by hand. Their cabin looks like something out of Hansel and Gretel, with a thatched roof and gingerbread walls, protected by gigantic firs and pines. When they’ve polished up one of their hardwood toys–a wobble pull puppy, for example–a team of elves swoops it from their snug little Oregon cabin and delivers it to a deserving young child.

The amazing thing about my story is that it’s all true. I mean, maybe not the part about the gingerbread or the elves, but Diana and Garth really do live in the coastal forests of Oregon, crafting their heirloom-quality toys out of locally-harvested alder. “We make them with joy and hope that they bring countless hours of delight to the children in your life,” they say about their products.

We have always stood by the claim that wooden toys look better and last longer than the cheap plastic junk made in China and sold in Wal-mart. Often times, though, it’s hard to justify spending hundreds of dollars on the high-quality heirloom stuff. That’s another great thing about Papa Don’s: the prices aren’t outrageous. In fact, they are down-right affordable. The most expensive toy in the whole store costs only $65 (this wonderful wooden train set).

Now for the giveaway! One lucky winner will have the chance to choose one of the following toys:

Lawnmower push toy ($38 value)

Tumbler floor toy ($18 value)

Baby toy assortment ($19 value)

You can enter up to three times. Here’s how:

1. Simply post a comment letting us know which toy you’d most like to win: the lawnmower toy, the tumbler, or the toy assortment.

2. Like us on Facebook or sign up for Papa Don’s newsletter. Make sure to post another comment telling us you did it.

3. Visit Papa Don’s shop and tell us what caught your eye in the comments.

Great luck!