Stinky Cloth Diaper Solutions

Does baby’s nursery smell like a port-a-poddy? Do you hold your breath every time you flip open that diaper pail?  Fear not!

In our new book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, Rebecca and I recommend the “slacker” method of cloth diaper laundering.  It doesn’t involve intensive prewashing or excessive toilet dunking, and it should keep your nursery smelling fresher than it would with disposables.  (Remember that with cloth the feces is properly disposed of in the toilet rather than smelling up your home.)

So, what happens if your cloth diapers seem to give off a distasteful odor of fermented waste?  Try these handy tips.

  1. Baste them with Bac Out.  Every so often, squirt a dose into the diaper pail.  It has a lovely lime scent and it’s live enzyme cultures go to work on odor right away.  You can also use it for stains and odors on any of your other laundry.
  1. Blast them with Baking Soda. This odor fighting technique is far less expensive than Bac Out and will also work with the detergent when it comes time to dump diapers into the wash.
  1. Beware of Build Up.  If your diapers smell like dirty socks even when your baby just wets them, they are probably coated in oils and fragrances from your detergent.  This prevents them from absorbing as well and makes them particularly smelly.  Diapers made of polyester are especially prone to build up.  To strip them, wash them for one to two loads in hot water (no detergent) and see if it makes a difference.  Also remember that your regular loads of diapers should be washed with half the normal amount of detergent you’d use on a load of clothes.  Check out products like Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder or Biokleen Laundry Detergent to see if a different soap will help.)
  1. Fill it with a filter. Several companies make charcoal filters for compost bins that also work well for diaper pails.  If you’ve tried everything else, it’s worth a few dollars to check out this option.

Any other ideas?  Are you also struggling with smells this summer?

Purging Your Child’s Toys

Shocking Truth #1:

No matter how many limits you put on the playthings that enter your home, you will find yourself amazed by how the toy paraphernalia builds up.

Shocking truth #2:

Although you may beg people not to shower your tiny infant with a million rattles, shiny singing doodads and plastic xylophones, they will.  Then they will do it again annually.

Shocking truth #3:

Your child will play with just ten to twenty percent of her toys.

Am I wrong?  I hope so, but in our household we have been amazed by the sheer quantity of stuff that entered our lives with our children’s arrival.  I co-wrote The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, a book in which we clearly state that voluntary simplicity is the way to go with baby for a myriad of economic and environmental reasons.  And yet, somehow gifts found their way into our lives and my son’s room was overrun with clutter.

What’s the magic answer for toy purging?  For us it was talking about one (hypothetical) child who doesn’t get playthings because his family can’t afford it.  We talk about what  he might like, and how happy he’ll be to get it.  If my son wants to give this imaginary boy toys but feels that he can’t get rid of them himself, he’ll even let his dad sort through the toys that aren’t being played with so that we can ship them off to Goodwill.

We also do a toy rotation, so that the items he doesn’t want to play with can be shifted out every month or so.  It feels like he’s constantly getting new toys and there’s less to trip over and clean up in his bedroom.

As for the limiting of the gifts, for our baby we specifically asked for no presents at her first birthday party and will probably limit gifts for her until she’s about three and can actually know she’s getting something.  For our son, we do ask family for gift certificates to children’s museums or swimming so that we can have experiences instead of stuff.  It doesn’t always work, but it’s worth a try!

Any other ideas?  Have any of you had success with actually keeping the wave of shiny new toys at bay in those first few years?

Have You Read The Eco-nomical Baby Guide?

Do you like it?  I’m blushing a bit right now, but we are really proud of our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, and are hoping that many of you find it helpful as you prepare for baby or select a gift for pregnant friends who are looking for eco-friendly, budget friendly solutions.  Please let us know if you’ve read it!  Also, if you have ideas on how to spread the word on our little gem, please let us know.  We loved writing it and editing it hundreds of times, but marketing isn’t our favorite hobby.  Still, we’d like to let expectant parents know how to save thousands of dollars while going green.  Thanks for your creative ideas!

Lowering the Grocery Bill While Staying Green: Is It Possible?

With my husband being a stay at home dad last year, our income took a dip and we vowed to cut back.  We carefully recorded all our expenses and tried to spend less.  And we did in many ways, but not at the grocery store.  We went to one budget store for dry goods and hit another one for organic produce and healthier foods.

We felt great about our choices until we recently checked our overall grocery spending.  It had skyrocketed to nearly as much as our mortgage payment!  (I must confess that we have a really low mortgage payment, but still!)

Now that I’m the one at home, our income has dipped even further and I’m in charge of trying to cut back expenses.  The grocery bill is our biggest monthly cost, and I’m eager to bring it down, but I don’t want to give up on organics.  So far I’m trying to offset the cost of organics by couponing a bit more and checking out Grocery Outlet for organic deals.  We’ll also be eating a lot from our garden this summer and picking local fruit, but I hope that I can figure it out without feeling like I’m sacrificing my ideals.  We don’t need processed foods now that I have more time to cook, but somehow just produce, dried beans, and basic canned goods add up to quite a lot!

I have to confess that if the choice was between giving up organic foods to allow me to stay home with the kids and working to pay the grocery bill, it would be pretty clear to me that being at home was my priority.  Surely things aren’t this black and white if I continue to pursue gardening and try to pick local produce.  Right?  Please provide inspiration!

Welcome to Motherhood!

I see you everywhere, your bellies budging, your skin glowing, and your eyes lingering on my chubby baby.  The secret smile we exchange signifies that we both know that you’re on your way to my new native land: motherhood.

For me, in the beginning, it seemed as though my baby would never arrive. And then, it happened.  Suddenly we were hurtling forward in a free fall towards the biggest transition of our life.  My biggest maternity clothes didn’t fit, but even more immense than my belly was the feeling that I might just not be ready.

Not ready to push this person out of my body, or settle it into the incomplete nursery.  Not ready for the sleep loss, and not ready for giving up everything (and I mean everything)  I once thought was my own.  (That includes sleep, time, personal space, and clothes not covered in kid-generated goo.)

If you’re expecting a baby, you may feel the desperate need to buy more stuff to brace yourself for the shift.  Don’t. Of course, we won’t be offended if you purchase our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, and give it a read, but if you’re short on time, here’s the summary.  You can do this.  You don’t need stuff.  In fact, it will just require you to take care of a whole bunch of objects in addition to your child.  All you really need is a few diapers, a place for baby to rest, a few clothes, the crook of your arm, and the croon of your voice. Welcome!  You’re going to be great at this!

What Are Your Biggest Green Challenges Right Now?

Is the baby registry list making you dizzy?  Are you wondering how best to launder dirty cloth diapers?  Do you need baby food recipes? Have you had more than three hours of sleep in the last two days?   Are you trying to squeeze more organic produce into your grocery budget?   Does pumping breast milk at work seem totally overwhelming?

We’ve been there!  But now that our kids are older, we have to be reminded of just what would be helpful to our readers.  What are your latest victories and what are your biggest challenges? I’ve shared my weight loss dilemma this week, but there are bound to be issues of far greater consequence. (Like the critical goal of getting enough food and rest in those first few months!)  Please give us ideas for upcoming posts this summer and we’ll personally do our best to address your needs.

Babyfit and Sparkpeople: Free Weight Loss Websites for Moms

My weight loss efforts over the last postpartum year have felt largely experimental. When I’m sure I should be shedding pounds, my weight either stays the same or edges up slightly.  How could this be happening?  And how can I lose the weight without weird diet plans or gym memberships?

Luckily, I discovered Sparkpeople and Babyfit and began to unravel where I could be more effective in my eating and exercise.   Both of these sites are free online communities with tremendous support for people wanting to make a healthy lifestyle shift.  (Babyfit is specifically for pregnant and nursing mothers and Sparkpeople is for anyone wanting to lose weight.)  There are recipes, online chat rooms, videos, exercise plans and more.

In Sparkpeople, I use the “My Nutrition” option to record what I eat everyday and see my overall calorie, fat and protein intake.  Is this a bit of a pain?  It can be since it does take time to record every snack and meal.  But I am astounded to see the calorie count of foods I thought were healthy and to actually get a sense of what small changes I can make that will have a big impact on my weight loss.  You can also enter your exercise and the program will subtract those calories from your total.  Honestly, it’s tricky to search for the foods and exercises from the list and it can make me feel tied down to do it every day, but it has really affected my choices.

With Sparkpeople you can skip those gym fees, artificial weight loss foods, and make your way towards healthier living on a daily basis.  And if you’re still battling those last few pounds, you’re not alone!  Please share your weight loss stories (victorious or otherwise) with the rest of us!

Three Tips for Dropping the Baby Weight While Saving the Planet

For the last year, my body has doggedly clung to ten pounds of baby weight.  I could blame it on nursing, but more likely it was caused by the stress induced eating habits and lack of exercise.  Now that it’s summer and I’m officially a SAHM, I have the time to make some major shifts toward a healthier lifestyle. This week’s posts are dedicated to the pursuit of green, budget weight loss!

  1. Eat whole foods.

Isn’t this totally obvious?   Maybe, but I seem to have to relearn this tip when life becomes hectic.  Food processing requires energy, packaging, and preservatives—adding a huge carbon load and calorie count to our meals and making our grocery bills far more expensive.  If we stick to foods fresh from our gardens, farmer’s markets or the produce aisle, we can slim down our bodies and our budgets.

2.Don’t wait until you’re hungry.

I keep crisp celery soaked in cold water on hand and load up with carrots or nuts when I know I’m going to be out of the house.  My body is designed to avoid starvation and if I wait until I have no reserves left, I can’t make great decisions about what to eat.  (Also, my parenting skills tend to suffer…)  Furthermore, packing food for myself also leads me to remember to have snacks with me at all times for my children.  We can then victoriously cruise past fast food joints without being lured in by desperate hunger.

3. Plan your indulgences.

In my green pursuits, my thrifty lifestyle or my weight loss, when I decide to strictly limit anything, there is an inner backlash.  Instead I plan some rewards into my grocery list so that I won’t feel tempted to scarf down a half bag of chocolate chips at 11pm.  Also I find that spending money on fresh fruit or fantastic yogurt tends to feel like a treat when I pull it out of the fridge.

In the one week that I’ve been working on eating better and moving more, I’ve lost one pound!  To be honest, I’ve lost a few pounds during the course of this year but they’ve crept back every time.  I’ll keep you posted on my fledgling progress!

Cloth Diaper Options

During my first pregnancy, I didn’t know the difference between a pocket diaper and a prefold, but after much exhaustive research, I finally decided on the ultimate cloth diapering system for our family.   Unfortunately, I didn’t have the diaper diagrams and descriptions in The Eco-nomical Baby Guide to refer to because we simply hadn’t written it yet!

Four years and another child later, I have been given a huge assortment of absorbent and adorable diapers.  My daughter Jovi often sports cow print happy heinys, homemade hemp diaper liners, prefolds with various covers, and even colorful fuzzibunz pocket diapers.

What have I realized after gathering up this diverse collection of cloth diapers?  You don’t really have to choose just one type!  Of course paying full price for all this loot could be prohibitively expensive, but if you’re open to buying gently used cloth diapers, you can try an assortment and know that you don’t have to rule out any one kind.

What is your cloth diaper philosophy?  Are you strictly loyal to one brand or style, or have you too build up a variety of diapers?  Have you been lucky enough to inherit hand-me-downs?

Becoming a Stay-At-Home Mom

For the last four years I have clumsily struggled as a working mom. But here’s the secret: all along my heart’s desire has been to be at home folding cloth diapers and whipping up homemade delights.  In fact, my yearning to get home with my baby is what started me on the journey towards being a published author and a blogger.

So was it our massive profits that finally earned me the freedom to take a one year leave of absence from teaching?  Hardly. (Although we do expect our book to become wildly famous and translated into sixty four languages one of these days.)  A robust savings account combined with my husband’s new job allows me to finally take a break from thirteen straight years of teaching adolescents.

Maybe I crave the opportunity to stay at home simply because it wasn’t an option all this time.  I’m a highly extraverted person and a bit worried about how I’ll fare without structure or schedules, but so far it’s just sheer joy.   If I still had a newborn it would have been harder, but since my oldest is nearly four and my one year old is now sleeping through the night, it’s glorious to be at home with them.  (Note, although their ages are just about right, the photo is not of us!)

Am I torn about leaving my job?  Nope.  Because although I adore working with middle schoolers, I love this grand and humbling task of parenting even more.  I know that I’m still in the honeymoon stage as a stay-at-home mom and that sometimes the tantrums and endless dishes will nearly defeat me, but for now I’m grateful that our lifestyle of voluntary simplicity has provided us with the opportunity to take this leap.  If you are aching to work less and spend more time at home, read The Eco-nomical Baby Guide for tips on how to save thousands in the first year alone.  It worked for us!