Supporting New Moms with The Eco-nomical Baby Guide

It’s official.  We’re done procreating around here.  Sad, but also relieved to be moving into a more sleep-filled future, we rounded up the baby gear (which was all handed down to us or purchased used) and gave it to a pregnant friend.

And here’s the bonus—my friend had read our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, and heeded its wisdom completely!  She and her husband have made it known that they’re open to all used gear and have been loaded up with hand me downs from family and friends.

Their nursery is almost complete and the only thing they have bought thus far is the paint.  The crib, the dresser, cloth diapers, changing table, car seat, clothes and much more have all been given to them.  When they shared what they read in the book about buying used instead of spending thousands on baby’s first year alone, they became heroes in their social circles.  Baby rearing families all proclaimed that they wished they would have bought less paraphernalia and acquired more of it used.
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Summer Heat and Baby Wearing

Many of you are schlepping your babes around this summer in nearly unbearable heat and humidity.  I am humbled and amazed by your braveness!  During our trip to Maryland, we all sort of stumbled from one ice cream stand to the next, swimming through the thick air in between.  I marveled at the women who were wearing babies and voluntarily walking outside during the day.

Most of the parks and sidewalks were totally empty as desperate herds of people flocked to the vast sanctuary of air conditioning called “the mall.”  I imagine it would be tough just using your Maya Wrap or an Ergo Carrier indoors all summer, but I bet some of you brave families manage to wear baby despite the heat.
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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!

Is Steam Cleaning Green?

My husband thought it would be romantic to get me a steam cleaner for my last birthday. (Okay, okay. I may have planted the idea in his head.) I’d first heard of this miraculous cleaning contraption in Raising Baby Green by Dr. Alan Greene. A woman wrote a testimonial about how great this thing was: It uses no chemicals—just steam—and kills germs and bacteria. It improves the air quality of your home and is essential for sufferers of allergies.

I would have rushed out to buy a steam cleaner right then and there, but she said she paid $400 for it! With a price tag that high, it would really never pay for itself. One of the advantages of the product is that is eliminates the need for cleaning potions.  Although the average family supposedly spends $600 a year on cleaning supplies, I’m sure I don’t spend even $20.
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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.
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Baby Bento Box Recommendation

Let me get this out of the way: I am going to recommend a plastic product! Egads! I searched high and low for a non-plastic bento box for my daughter, but I ended up with this Sassy baby bento box, which is BPA-free. For the last year or so, I’ve been packing her lunches for daycare in these little containers:


Colors may vary

I love it! Here’s why. Before I broke down and bought this, I was packing her lunch in various containers, which was unwieldy. The main reason I like it is because it makes creating her meals easier. Something about having three little containers helps me focus on food options. I might put apple slices in the big compartment, cheese cubes in one of the small ones, and crackers in the other one. Or half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the large container and small carrot sticks in one small container, raisins in the other.
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Shift Your Habit: A great Earth Day read!

As a thrifty, green soul, Shift Your Habit by Elizabeth Rogers seems written just for me. How do I love it? Let me count the ways:

1. It’s infinitely practical. The tips are focused on tiny lifestyle changes that save money and the environment. Each shift is listed along with cost savings, extra positives, and planetary benefits.
2. It’s road tested. Elizabeth Rogers, who also coauthored “the green book” asked dozens of families from across the nation to participate in the shifts. Some were excited about going green, and some just wanted to save money. Everyone benefited from the changes and those stories are featured throughout the book.
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Why Making Baby Food in the Blender is a Bad, Bad Idea

Constrained by a dearth of kitchen cabinets, Joy has never owned a food processor. How, then, did she manage to blend up her own baby food? Did she smash yams with her bare hands, pulverize zucchini with a potato masher, or run over a bag of ripe bananas with her bicycle? No. She used her blender.
kitchenaid 5-speed blender
The Kitchenaid 5-speed Blender

Now, when Joy told me this, I had to laugh: this was the only kitchen gadget—and I confess to owning many, many kitchen gadgets—that I didn’t get much use of when making baby food. Blenders are more suited to blending liquid concoctions than pureeing fruits and veggies. You’ll find yourself adding a lot of water and making good use of a spatula when you make baby food in a blender. Because of this, we (well, I) recommend using a food processor or a food mill for your baby food making adventures.
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Using a Blender to Make Baby Food

blended baby foodRebecca likes to cruelly taunt me about the use of my blender for making homemade baby food. Honestly, I could care less. I proudly stand behind my little Osterizer and its amazing ability to whip up heaps of sweet potatoes, baby spinach, and pureed pears. (By the way, Rebecca and I are playing up the blender drama just for show. Our nearly twenty year friendship hasn’t been damaged by this small appliance duel.)

Due to limited storage in my kitchen, I have to limit my gadgets. Nothing earns the right to live in my cupboards unless it can prove that it has many functions on a regular basis. My blender is a standby for summer smoothies, popsicles, and, of course, baby food. I simply steam or boil the food, dump it in, and add some of the liquid used to cook it. Then I whirl it up and dump it in ice cube trays for storage. When it’s frozen, the cubes go into labeled freezer bags where they wait to be microwaved for dinner. If you’re looking for some elegant and healthy recipes, along with cloth diapering tips and heaps of ways to save money on raising baby, check out our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide.
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Making Your Own Baby Food with a Food Mill

If you don’t already own a food mill, don’t necessarily rush out and buy one. In The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, we warn against buying something that you’ll use just a few short months—and really, babies graduate from pureed mush to bite-sized chunks relatively quickly. However, if you think you might get some use out of a food mill once your baby food days are over, then now is the time to get one. It’s one of the best tools for baby food cookery you can find. Why? A food mill saves a lot of work. No peeling and seeding—just steam some apples or sweet potatoes or green beans and run them through the mill. All the seeds, peels, and stringy bits get filtered right out–and it doesn’t even need any electricity to work!
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