Archive for the ‘Family Life’ Category


Baby’s First Food

Audrey's first bite

Audrey’s first bite

Frances turns five months this week so we’ve been thinking a lot about her first food.  After reading an article about Diabetes Tied to Timing of Baby’s First Solid Food, it got me thinking about introducing food before six months. It’s hard to know what’s best when there’s so much “research” out there!

We finally came up with a compromise: she gets her first food when she can sit in her highchair without slumping to either side. She’s pretty close to this milestone, so it shouldn’t be too much longer.

There are so many first foods to choose from, but I think we’ve settled on avocado. I still haven’t worked out all the details, but I want to make sure and present each new food in all the different ways possible (fresh, cooked, mashed, chopped, mixed with breastmilk, etc.).

I was talking with Rebecca and it turns out that avocado was Audrey’s first food too.  Maybe we can re-create this photo of her!

When did you first offer solid food and which food was it?

Book Review: The Zero Footprint Baby

If you are looking to reduce your carbon footprint as a parent, pick up  The Zero Footprint Baby. It’s more of a narrative than a how-to manual, but the tips Chatterjee includes will get you on your way to reducing your family’s carbon foot print.

Most of the advice is simple, such as riding public transportation or not buying anything new, but she’s really done her research.  In general, the more simply you live the lower your carbon footprint.

A lot of the advice mirrored what Rebecca and Joy wrote in The Green Baby Guide’s companion book, The Economical Baby Guide.  For example, don’t buy a lot of plastic toys and other baby gear that quickly ends up in the landfill.  And if you must buy new, find something that will hold up long enough to pass along to friends (or to hand down as heirlooms).

I’m all about buying used and limiting the amount of baby gear we bring home, but I’m not motivated by my carbon footprint.  As a result, Chatterjee kind of lost me when she opines that the truly biggest impact you can make is to not have children.  If you do, you must consider not only the carbon footprint of your children, but your children’s children and so on.

She also determined that unless you and your midwife use public transportation for all of your pre and post-natal appointments, it’s better (for the environment) to plan to give birth in a hospital than at home. That’s one sacrifice I wouldn’t be willing to make.

Besides wanting at least two kids, we’re also not willing to compromise on travel.  We love to road trip and don’t hesitate to hop on a plane somewhere.  According to Chatterjee’s research, one international flight pretty much voids all  of your other sacrifices.

That said, if you’ve ever wanted to know what kind of lifestyle changes you’d have to make to raise a baby with a minimal carbon footprint, I recommend The Zero Footprint Baby!

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My normal laundry routine includes Tide Free And Gentle Liquid Laundry Detergent and OxiClean Max Force Gel Stick. I’ve been happy with both, but I decided to try something new.  Baby Ecos Laundry Products are Plant-Based, pH balanced and formaldehyde and petrochemical free seemed a good place to start.

In my experience, cloth diapers hold in a lot more waste than disposable so I don’t have a lot of stains to deal with.  Since we use disposable when away from home, there was an explosion that stained a white onesie and I figured this was the perfect opportunity to see just how well Baby Ecos Disney Stain and Odor Remover worked.  I followed the instructions and sprayed the stain thoroughly and let it sit for five minutes. The stain lightened considerably during the first washing, but not completely. Instead of drying the item, I sprayed the stain again and let it sit for thirty minutes. It almost worked. But it seems to me a stain remover that is geared towards babies should work on an average baby stain.

The Ecos Stain Remover is supposed to work on carpets as well. The instructions tell you to saturate the stain and “wipe off” the excess five minutes later.  It did not work on the puke stain our dog left on the carpet.  It says to apply again and leave over night for a persistent stain, but by morning it was completely dry and there was nothing left to “wipe off”.  I re-moistened the area with water and used a rag to soak it up.  It was considerably lighter, but the stain was definitely not removed.

As for the detergent, I didn’t have much better luck. I used it to pre-soak and wash a load of cloth diapers and wipes (along with non-chlorine bleach and white vinegar) and when I opened my front-loader it still smelled like soiled diapers. Everything looks as clean as usual, but the smell is enough to discourage me from using it again.  When I tried it on a load of cleaning rags, they smelled clean, but looked dirtier than usual.  Either way, I’ll stick to my usual routine.

Have you had success with Ecos Laundry Detergent and Stain Remover?  Or do you have another pairing that you swear by?

Aquasana Glass Water Bottle Giveaway

Aquasana Glass Water Bottle

When the whole BPA=bad trend started, I traded in my plastic water bottles for  stainless steel.  That didn’t last long because I hate the metallic flavor even lined stainless bottles add to the water.  Then I noticed that companies were starting to come out with glass water bottles so I gave them a try.  The first generation broke too easily, so I was pleased when companies started adding silicon sleeves to make them more sturdy.

I won’t name names, but I spent way too much on glass water bottles with silicon sleeves but leaky caps.  So I was really excited to see that Aquasana has a reasonably priced reusable glass water bottle with a silicon sleeve in a variety of pretty colors.  I decided to give one a try.

After the first day, I decided I was a big fan of my Aquasana Glass Bottle with Silicone Sleeve and Cap.  I really like the 18 oz size, and it’s the right diameter to fit in my car’s drink holder.  The mouth size is big enough to get a bottle brush in for cleaning, but not so big that the water sloshes out when I gulp it down.  They are dishwasher safe and you can use them with hot liquids.  I like that the silicone sleeve keeps my tea warm while keeping my hands insulated from the heat.

I’m a little worried about the cap, because it seems a little flimsy compared to other ones I’ve seen.  For regular use I’m sure it’s fine, but if you stepped on it, it would totally break.  At least they sell replacement caps and the size is standard, so I’m not too worried (I randomly tried a cap from a glass kombucha bottle and it fit perfectly).  Plus, at $9.99 a bottle, I can buy two bottles for the price of one from the leading competitor.

Aquasana has a wide range of water filters for your house, too.  Our latest water report said there is a high level of Arsenic in the drinking water, so I’m thinking a filter for the whole house would be nice.  Or, at least for the kitchen sink.  They’re having a big sale for the month of July, so now would be a great time to try it out!

Now on to the giveaway!  We are giving away an Aquasana 18oz. Glass Water Bottle to two lucky readers.  You can enter up to four times! Each comment counts as an entry entry:

  1. Simply post a comment – any comment! – and you’re entered in our contest
  2. Like the Green Baby Guide on Facebook (then post another comment telling us you did)
  3. Like Aquasana on Facebook or follow them on Twitter (and tell us about it in another comment)
  4. Visit Aquasana’s website, come back and post a comment here on the Green Baby Guide saying what you found interesting
Remember, each comment you leave (up to four comments) is another entry!  Winners will receive a Aquasana 18oz. Glass Water Bottle in their choice of color.

This contest ends on Tuesday, July 23th, and is only open to U.S. Residents.

 

Babies really need to get off their iPhones and crack open a good board book every once in a while, right? The Multnomah County Library agrees, which is I guess why they hold a summer reading program for babies, kids, and teens. Read to them, or have them read to themselves for fifteen minutes, a half hour, or an hour (depending on the age group), and they (or you) color in a space on the game card. Fill out so many squares, claim a prize. If your kids fill in the entire card, they get a T-shirt and a bigger, better prize. Last summer Audrey chose a book, but there were also coupons for local ice cream shops and passes for activities around the city.


They also have a great list of suggested books by age group. It’s kind of confusing to navigate this list, but I was able to find some good selections for my daughter under 2nd and 3rd grade fiction. I’m going to have to check out Ottoline and the Yellow Cat by Chris Riddell, Lady Lollipop by Dick King-Smith, and Toys Go Out by Emily Jenkins.

Audrey recently asked me to pick up a copy of Little Women. She read an excerpt in her copy of The Kingfisher Book of Great Girl Stories she’s had since birth, and she thinks she’s ready for it. We’ll see!

Great beach read for a seven-year-old

I just wish they had an adult program; my reading motivation has been flagging lately. Plus, I deserve a free ice cream cone, too!

Does your library have a summer reading program? Do you participate? Tell us about it! I also want to hear about the books your babies and kids are into these days.

Bug Spray for Babies

My ineffective bug spray

My ineffective bug spray

Since you’ve all been so helpful with recommendations for other summer products, I have another item to ask about.

I’m a bug magnet. If you’re looking for a chemical-free bug spray, just stand next to me. It’s yet to be seen if Franci inherited my bug-loving composition, but I figure I should have some baby-friendly bug spray on hand just in case.

Even with essential oil insect repellents,  I’m worried Frances will ingest more than her share (her hands and clothes spend more time in her mouth than out these days). My home-made spray contains the following oils: citronella, cedar, peppermint and lemongrass. Not only is the smell overwhelming, but it doesn’t even work!

What baby-safe insect repellent do you recommend? If you make your own, what oils work best?

Sunscreen Woes

Fun in the sun

Fun in the sun

Frances loves swimming, so we’ve been hitting the pool pretty regularly this summer. I’m a bit paranoid about her getting a sunburn since her skin is still that perfect newborn white, so I try to keep her in the shade and slather her with plenty of sunscreen. I’m running into some problems with the sunscreen, however, and it’s driving me crazy!

Episencial Sunny Screen SPF 35 is so difficult to apply, and Franci isn’t happy about it. I make sure to put it on before we even leave the house so we’re not trying to do it pool side, but it still doesn’t absorb by the time we get to the pool. So there she is, sticky and white as a ghost with streaks all over, and once she’s wet she becomes as slippery as a greased watermelon! I’m afraid she’s going to slip through my fingers.

My annoyance doesn’t end when we leave the pool because it’s so hard to wash the sunscreen off of her. Even with lots of soap and water, I find bits of sunscreen on her for days. It leaves me wondering if I should just use conventional sunscreen if I have to wash it off after every use anyway.

Are there any baby sunscreens out there that are safe and effective but won’t drive me crazy? What sunscreen do you use on your kids?

Stockpiling

Some people might call my husband and me hoarders, but we prefer the term “stockpilers”. We don’t save old newspapers or have 20 cats, and you probably wouldn’t know we had a stockpiling problem if you came to our house. One look in our garage betrays us, however. For every open case of toilet paper, there’s an unopened one behind it.

My freezer four months later

My freezer four months later

Things got a little worse as my pregnancy progressed. I read too much into the advice to “freeze some meals” and froze 100 dinners instead. And that’s not including the frozen lunches I stashed in the deep freeze! I also made sure our pantry had triples of everything we use, as if I would never set foot in a grocery store again. Since I like to cook, and I go to the store weekly for fresh produce, I make dinner most days and the freezer and pantry remain overflowing.

I finally decided to do something about our overstock because things are going to start expiring. And like Joy and Rebecca, I loathe to waste anything! I got sick last week because I refused to throw away a hard boiled egg that was questionable! Actually, what finally pushed me into this commitment is the motivation to save for a down payment on a house. Our current rental is too small for the three of us, and we hope to have another kid soon. Unless we want to drive each other crazy, we need more than one bedroom.

Rebecca, with her tales of eating on less than the cost of an iPhone plan, gave me the idea. I need some accountability. If I decide to write about it, maybe it will actually happen. So once a month I’m going to update you on my progress. If I’m lucky, maybe I’ll manage to curb my shopping and beauty product addiction as well.

I hope you’ll provide me with lots of advice in the comments!

French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy EatersFrench Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters by Karen Le Billon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you’ve been following my posts, you know that I’m into French Parenting books. As a reformed picky eater, I’m fascinated by the topic of food and kids. Frances still has two months before she tries her first bite, and I still can’t help but read all about it!

In French Kids Eat Everything, Le Billon and her French husband decide to leave Vancouver, B.C. and take their two young daughters to spend a year in the village where he grew up. They found that it was impossible to fit in to their new home without adopting French eating habits, so that’s how the story begins.

Once again, I was drooling over the menus fed to even the youngest children at the state run daycare. The emphasis of each meal is to socialize, try new foods, savor each flavor and learn proper table etiquette. Since the French eat so slowly, and all the food is delicious and nutritious, obesity rates are 3% in children (versus 20% in the US).

One thing I liked about French Kids Eat Everything is that the lessons are good for adults too. When Le Billon talks about the pervasiveness of snacking in North America, I had to take a hard look at my own habits. I never used to be such a snacker, but I fell into a routine of “6 small meals a day” and too many of those “meals” are sweet and not savory. I think the biggest problem with the small meals is that I never feel satiated, which leads to more snacking. If I go out for breakfast or lunch I’ve noticed that I don’t snack as much later in the day, probably because I eat more than I would for that meal at home. I think it’s time for me to start eating more food, less frequently.

At the end of the book, Le Billon and her family move back to Vancouver and realize how French she and her daughters became. The saddest part of the book was when her older daughter came home from elementary school crying because she couldn’t possibly savor her lunch in the 10 minutes allowed at school.

Like Le Billon, I realize that I’m ultimately American in my cooking habits. I might use fresh ingredients and French recipes, but I also have a freezer full of frozen meals. I often cook a double batch so I can freeze half, which seems to be the opposite of what the French do. I also won’t turn up my nose at food offered to me, just because it’s not “meal time”. To my American sensibilities, that’s just rude.

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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?

The Eco-nomical Baby Guide
Eco-nomical Baby Guide
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