I’ve always felt a little French (probably because of growing up with a French last name), and I guessed it rubbed off on my parenting style. It turns out that we have more in common with French parents than American, based on what I read in Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting.
According to the author, Pamela Druckerman, a big difference between American and French parenting is letting your baby have alone time and having her wait a minute if you’re in the middle of something and she starts to fuss. And not being guilty about parenting choices. We’re more than just moms, and our children should know and respect that.
Another idea that gets lots of attention by Druckerman is believing your baby is a rational being from birth. This means she understands what you’re saying from the very first day, and should be talked to with that in mind. I’m not sure exactly when a baby starts to understand everything, but I think it’s good to start out as if they do. That way you’re used to treating your child as if she understands it all, instead of trying to guess when that moment starts.
My favorite part of the book was reading what the kids are fed at the state-run day care. The meals sound like they come straight off the chalkboard at a French Bistro. I’m hoping I can apply some of the eating tips the author shares when it’s time to start on solid foods.
This book gets 5 stars because: 1) I got to feel good about our parenting choices; 2) It gave me goods ideas I hadn’t thought of; 3) The author put into words concepts we’ve been applying.
I was going to buy my own copy, but it turns out there is a companion book of tips I might get instead (easier to reference). I’ll let you know what I think of it when I finally get it from the library!
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!
My hands look about 100 years old. I never bother to paint my nails or wear fancy rings because I fear any embellishment would simply draw more attention to my flimsy nails and ragged cuticles. I’m also not particularly invested in keeping my hand-skin unblemished and supple. Though my day job includes tapping out stories on a computer and talking about writing in a classroom, by the look of my hands, you’d think I’d been toiling out in the fields. I’m always washing a dish, digging in the garden, or tiling my shower.
Me, tiling my shower, a crazed look in my eye. Also, mortar is murder for the skin.
While I’ve long ago given up the dream of moonlighting as a hand model, I still need to moisturize. Yes, need. If I don’t, my hands get so dry they crack and bleed. It’s uncomfortable. Ordinary lotion doesn’t help at all. It might sink in and make my skin look softer for fifteen minutes or so, but after that, it’s as if I’ve never applied it. And here’s a problem I’ve never heard others discuss before: when I go out into the rain wearing lotion, it melts right off my hands in a sickly white film.
What I need is heavy-duty hand cream. One that I’ve tried—and heard great things about from others—is Burt’s Bees Hand salve. I like the strong eucalyptus smell, and it does soothe my thirsty skin, but it’s not my favorite. It’s powerful stuff, with a base of almond and olive oils. I actually prefer an oily or even greasy formula, but this is just too greasy. You need to dedicate a good ten minutes to letting it soak in. (I do reserve an unabashed fondness for the Burt’s Bees lemon cuticle cream, however!)
Burt’s Bees Hand Salve
So my leading favorite in hand salves is . . . Weleda Skin Food. Yes, it is expensive, but it’s the only stuff that seems to work on my hands—even through several hand washings! It’s heavy, but it doesn’t leave a greasy film. It somehow manages to soak in and then protect the skin from further wear and tear. I also love the citrusy scent.
Weleda Skin Food
A few months ago, I was sent a sample of the Weleda calendula baby cream. I gave it a try on my own hands, and it works just as well as the Skin Food! It’s so thick that I can’t really imagine using it on a baby, but I haven’t tried it, so I should reserve judgment. (Further research reveals that this product can be used as a diaper cream! Good to know. Weleda also makes a dedicated calendula diaper care cream.)
What do you use to combat winter dryness? I’ve heard using pure coconut oil works, but I haven’t tried that yet. Any other recommendations?
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?
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!
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.
3. Visit Papa Don’s shop and tell us what caught your eye in the comments.
Somewhere in the midst of laundry, errands, and picky eaters, I have lost my love for preparing the family dinner. And yet I yearn for mealtime perfection…the image of my children eagerly crowding around steaming dishes of nourishment. Are simple, healthy family dinners even a possibility?
The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time is on my Christmas list. It’s packed with tips, recipes, anecdotes and green tips for a better family dinner. Somehow the fact that Laurie David (producer of An Inconvenient Truth) manages to keep her teenage children at the dinner table is inspiration enough for me.
Dinner: A Love Story is a lovely combination of reality and ideology. Jenny Rosenstarch chronicles how her and her husband make dinner a priority, no matter how crazy their family life becomes. The recipes she shares are tried and true and her voice is like that of a good friend, full of encouragement and lacking in judgement.
My other favorite, simply because the humor and tone immediately seem to lessen my meal-making angst, is One Bite Won’t Kill You, By Ann Hodgman. The reviews are fantastic and seem to imply that both adults and children have enjoyed recipes in this book. It looks like it just might be a success with my picky crew!
I know Deceptively Delicious is quite popular, but I didn’t have tremendous success with the recipes. The garbanzo bean chocolate chip cookies were a whole lot of work, and were rejected by everyone, including me. If you have younger children and are pureeing foods anyway for the baby, it might be worth the effort. Otherwise the pre-blending of cooked veggies seems unrealistic.
What is your go-to family cookbook? Thanks for your ideas!
For awhile my daughter was quite content to play on her adorable little Alex Wooden Cook Top Playstove. It was a great value at about $30 and also took up just a small corner of her room. Glorious! Now she’s dreaming of a bigger, more luxurious environment in which to whip up imaginary cupcakes. Have you invested in a wooden play kitchen? Was it worth the money and space in your home?
I like the simplicity of the Melissa and Doug Cook’s Corner Wooden Kitchen. It’s smaller than some and costs under $100, but I wonder if its size would limit the span of years she’d be interested in it. Have you tried this one?
Kidkraft’s Red Retro Kitchen seems like it might hold her interest for a few more years and it’s still under $150. It’s not exactly simple, but perhaps the details would lead to more options for play.
My absolute favorite kitchen, is the Camden Rose Childs Cherry Wood Play Kitchen. It’s a heirloom piece of furniture that would surely last for several generations, but it is quite a bit more at about $350.
What has your experience been with toy kitchens. Did they hold your child’s attention? Did you find a glorious deal on Craigslist? Thanks for your advice!
The good news is that prices on organic crib mattresses have gone down in the last few years and there are now several inexpensive organic crib mattresses available for less than two hundred dollars. But what if you end up co-sleeping most of the time? Or what if your child shifts to a bigger bed early and spends just a short time on that organic crib mattress? Should you just bypass the organic crib mattress and invest in a twin or queen organic mattress from the beginning?
The cost of any organic mattress makes this a very valid question. The strong>Natura World Organic Foundation Twin Mattress is one of the most economical, and it costs about $575. strong>Naturepedic’s 2 in 1 Organic Twin Mattress comes in at about $700. Still, if you think about your child using the mattress for fifteen years, the cost per year is far less than buying an organic crib mattress that they would use for a fraction of that time.
You might be surprised to learn that you could buy a strong>Keetsa Eco-Friendly Memory Foam Queen Mattress for just $681, which is less than some organic twin mattresses! If you go with a natural latex product like the strong>Ultimate Dreams Latex Queen Mattress, it will cost you $600, but it won’t be certified organic. On the other extreme strong>Naturepedic’s Organic Cotton Queen Mattress costs nearly double that at about $1200.
We have had a few readers share that they’ve spent a large chunk of cash on an organic or latex queen mattress and been disappointed by its durability or comfort. Have you found a larger sized organic mattress that was worth the investment? Since we spend at least a third of our lives sleeping, it seems worth the money to purchase an high quality, organic product, but what is the best value? Is it worth it to just go for a larger mattress and skip the organic crib mattress? Or just to buy an organic crib mattress pad? Please share your experiences!