For the last six days, I, Joy Hatch, co-author of The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, swaddled my babe in plastic and petroleum instead of cotton.
What can possibly be my defense for this environmental atrocity? Honestly, it’s a little flimsy. We’re in the middle of a kitchen remodel so I fled to my mom’s house with the kids. Since she was having several groups of company during our stay including a whole flock of grandchildren, it seemed more helpful to just bring disposables.
The weird thing was that there was a microscopically thin slice of me that was excited about not having to wash cloth diapers—like that inner glutton that occasionally thinks it might be fun to eat an entire bag of Cheetos rather than virtuously dining on sautéed kale.
But the disposable diaper experience left me a bit sick and guilty—much like those junk food moments. And the bad feelings weren’t nearly as shocking as the fact that I think cloth diapering is actually easier! With cloth I would have had to dunk a couple of diapers and do a load or two of laundry. I resented disposables from the moment that I had to shlep my baby to the store to buy them. After that, I had to constantly deal with the trash they generated. Plus the expense of the diapers was an utter waste! At the end of all that money and garbage, Jovi and I had nothing to show for it except a bright red diaper rash.
In short, my environmental slip led to a renewed belief that cloth is such a better option—not just for the planet but for you and your child! Still, cloth diapering can seem really formidable at first in the same way that disposables seem convenient. Wouldn’t it be great if every parent got the chance to cloth diaper just for six days to see how it works? After we achieve that, we’ll get right to work on world peace.
Have you had a chance to try cloth? Did it work for you? Do you use cloth while traveling? If you’re going on an extended visit to a friends’ house that may not be enthusiastic about laundering dirty cloth diapers, what do you do? Do you buy a special stash of G-diapers, or opt to go to the Laundromat just to stick to your diapering ethics?
I’m experiencing temporary insanity. The culprit is a twenty pound tyrant who has been hounding me for three straight nights. Have I dealt constructively with the challenge?
I’ve consumed approximately one pound of cookie dough and a third of a chocolate bar. She’s been crying off and on for forty five minutes and I’m trying to block it out while typing this. Despite diaper changes, temperature adjustments, teething tablets, soothing songs and her total lack of sleep over the past two days, she seems to be up for the challenge of a good wail for hours to come.
On top of that, my three year old didn’t nap today and was having constant meltdowns all afternoon that coincided perfectly with the baby’s hysteria. Did they concoct this torture plan ahead of time?
No—the truth is it’s all my fault. I wanted a dishwasher. For the last two miserable nights we’ve been visiting my mother because our kitchen is being torn apart and remodeled. My baby, who normally slumbers in her crib pretty well, reminds me at regular hourly intervals that she’s not happy with the transition. On top of that my three year old isn’t napping well, nor is he coping with being away from home. Neither am I.
At times like these, when my very bones ache with exhaustion, I’m not so chipper about hanging out the laundry or blending up homemade baby food. ( or EVER traveling ANYWHERE again!) So—honestly, I have to say that for me sleep is an essential part of being a good parent and a greener parent.
Did you end up traveling anywhere with baby for spring break? Did you experience the same nocturnal misery? I sincerely hope you didn’t!
Were you worried about environmental toxins lurking in the Lysol, baby’s dirty diapers filing local landfills, or blinking plastic toys threatening to take over your household? Were you motivated by family and friends or did they challenge your attempts to be an eco-conscious parent?
We’re very interested in what makes expectant families go green because the lure of mainstream baby rearing with its hoards of innovative gadgets and convenient products can be hard to evade when you’re nervous about the transition to parenthood. When did you decide that you’d like to be a conscientious consumer or even less of a consumer?
When we were both pregnant at the same time, Rebecca and I typed flurries of frantic emails to each other trying to figure out how to use cloth diapers and make our own baby food. Everyone else thought our cutting edge environmental parenting was a bit kooky, but with the support of each other (a two person green parenting community that has now been joined by all of you!) we took the plunge. It was far less adventurous and much more fun that we ever expected to be eco-friendly parents.
What is your motivation? Do you face resistance or enjoy support? Please share so that other new parents can be a part of the online green community! (And remember that our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide: Down-to-Earth Ways for Parents to Save Money and the Planet, is packed with everything we have learned in our journey as green moms!)
All-in-one diapers? Pocket diapers? Chinese prefolds? Even if you desperately want to cloth diaper your child, the vocabulary challenges our earnest efforts. How do all these “diapering systems” work? Is it worth choosing just one? How do you launder them and what about the smell?
Fear not! Our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide: Down-to-Earth Ways for Parents to Save Money and the Planet, features detailed, easy-to-read information on cloth diapering your child that even slackers like ourselves can manage. We’ll highlight what you’ll find inside by sharing our favorite tips today:
1. Money saving tip: Don’t stock up on every size you think you’ll need before your baby arrives in this world. Some extra chunky tots (like both of Joy’s nine pound newborns) never need the extra small sizes. Others are preemies that stay in newborn sizes for months. Get a few diapers and designate a family member or friend to run out and get more when baby arrives. What else will you find in the book? Tips on buying secondhand cloth diapers for up to eighty percent less than new, tips on which diapers transition for babies between 7 and 35 pounds, and which diapers offer the best overall value.
2. Laundering tip: Though you may be tempted, do not use bleach! People are shocked when we share this advice, but bleach will eat through your diaper fabric quickly, isn’t environmentally friendly, and can irritate baby’s skin. Instead use baking soda, vinegar, non-chlorine bleach, or enzyme based stain fighters like Bac-out. Other tips in the book include the all-time easiest method of diaper washing, tips for storing dirty diapers, ideas on how many loads per week you might have, and natural stain fighting tips that are free and eco-friendly.
3. Diapering tip: This may be obvious, but there are NO PINS REQUIRED! It’s amazing how many people are still shocked when we share that fact. We also found that neither of us needed Snappis or any other product to hold our chinese prefold diapers in their covers. In our book you’ll find charts that help you understand what each type of diaper looks like, a cost comparison of different diapers, and options for eco-friendlier disposable diapers.
We remember how totally overwhelmed we felt entering the world of cloth diapers as new moms. Now we have an outlet for our obsession in The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, where we ooh and ah over all the options! Once you start cloth diapering, you may find that you fall in love with the whole adventure yourself.
Are you using cloth? How did you find out what to use and how to diaper baby? Do you have lots of support for your cloth diapering efforts in your local area?
Out of all those colorful booties, soft blankets, and various contraptions, what baby gift was the most thoughtful or useful? What gifts do you now give expectant families?
Among our favorite presents was a bag full of carefully selected, gently used baby garments. Many people may shirk at receiving or giving hand-me-downs, but my sister-in-law knew that I ardently love recycled goods and bought me a huge bunch of clothes for the same price that she would have paid for one new outfit. Another favorite gift was a copy of Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree that was presented along with an young apple tree. (It died later, but it’s the thought that counts!) We were also gifted with items to borrow which included two slings and an Ergo carrier. Being able to just use these items temporarily worked out perfectly!
My husband and I are still especially appreciative for the gifts of support we received. Friends volunteered to baby sit for our eldest son, prepared meals and refinished our table for us. Those acts of service were incredibly helpful and low cost.
What gifts do I give? While I truly believe that our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide: Down-to-Earth Ways for Parents to Save Money and the Planet is a great shower gift, it’s pretty presumptuous for me to foist it upon others without giving them some other goodies. Baby baskets are always good bets and the one in the picture features tools for making homemade baby food. I also love buying practical stuff that will be used many times like cloth diapers, crib sheets or eco-friendly baby toiletries.
Please share your gift ideas with the rest of us!
Perhaps you’ve already read our new book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide: Down-to-Earth Ways for Parents to Save Money and the Planet. Maybe you’ve discovered the homemade baby food recipes included in the book and have spend hours whirling up delicious concoctions. With minimal effort you’ve saved money, packaging, and carbon emissions by preparing healthy purees for your little one. Now you deserve some brownies!
Steal a few frozen cubes of whirled up nutrition and slip them into this yummy recipe! I’ve tried this on family and friends always with great results. No one realizes that these are healthier than your standard brownie because the coffee and cocoa make them just as decadent.
Baby Food Brownies
Melt butter and cool. Then simply mix all ingredients together thoroughly. Spread mixture into a greased eight inch square pan. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until brownies are slightly firm. Enjoy!
We’re so proud of our new book that we’d like to get it in everyone’s hands. The information stuffed between the bindings saved us about six thousand dollars in our babies’ first year alone so it’s worth shelling out a few bucks for a copy—but card carrying tightwads might want to know how to get the book for FREE.
If you don’t have a blog, a library, pregnant friends, or anyone willing to throw you a baby shower we should tell you that the book is available for pre-order in the next few weeks at 25% off. It would be nice if all of you were so inspired by that temporary sale that you bought several thousand copies of our books I suppose, but as thrifty souls ourselves, it brings us even more happiness to find ways for you to score a copy of our little gem for free. Thanks for all your support!
After months of interrupted sleep, my husband and I were longing to having full REM cycles, dreams, and several hours of slumber. Our baby is nearly eight months old. Shouldn’t she be sleeping through the night by now? Never mind that our son didn’t snooze a full night until he was nine months old. Never mind that our parenting peers were having the same problem. We were determined to find out how we could possibly get her to let us rest.
First we tried the food. We loaded her up with pumpkin and pears right before bed, resolute in our determination to slumber. Her response? She woke up three times that night with diapers encrusted with orange-tinged poo. Ugh.
Then we tried a different meal schedule and longer spans between her feedings during the day. Our wise pediatrician reminded us that if she couldn’t last more than three hours during the day, how could she make it through the night?
Right! We tried the new routine with some success but Jovi was still up every night at exactly 1am. Why was she so precise?
We tried warmer pajamas, a fan for background noise, a slightly later bedtime… All of it in vain. At 1am on the dot we were greeted by her desperate screams. Every. Single. Night.
Until last night. My husband was up late and went in to watch her sleep before he hit the sack. It was 12:55 and as he watched her snooze in perfect slumber, he heard a sudden loud beeping. Yes. The travel alarm clock we keep in her room has been set to go off at 1am for months. It only beeps five times so it was never going off when we went in to get her.
Our poor, pumpkin stuffed babe! We’ll see how it goes tonight…
One of the first natural baby food cookbooks to hit the mainstream, Super Baby Food, is still enjoying relative fame. I was thrilled to find the first edition in its purple cover in a pile of garage sale books and happily paid a quarter to make it mine.
I eagerly rushed home and began reading, but found myself disappointed. The book is loosely organized, full of anecdotes and often difficult to follow. Although it’s over 500 pages long, there are really only about thirty critically important pages of information to read.
To be fair, I do love those thirty pages. Ruth Yaron challenges our ideas of traditional baby food by offering up other ingredients for home-blended meals. She explains how to whirl up vegetables and fruits in your blender and then dump it into ice cube trays to freeze and store. As baby gets older, she has tips for including egg yolk, beans, kale, and a variety of other healthy foods into a “super porridge” that can be inexpensively prepared.
Yager also has some fun recipes for toddler foods including tofu McNuggets, nutty millet pancakes and peanut butter pudding. The creativity in food presentation and delivery are pretty remarkable as well. For example, she recommends spreading a slice of bread with peanut butter and then wrapping it around a whole banana as a creative vegan hot dog.
It’s also fascinating that Yager’s children have been quite healthy based on their rich diet of whole grains, greens, and hearty proteins. She insists that while most children are sick between six to twelve times a year, her family faces illness once or twice at most.
As a working mom with limited time, I found the book to be heavily layered with irrelevant details and tough to weed through. For example, in the middle of the arts and crafts section she goes into great detail about using zip lock bags, adult sized socks and duct tape to avoid purchasing snow boots. On the same page she gives directions for shining patent leather shoes with petroleum jelly. I’m not sure either of those things even needs to be in a baby food book. To be fair, I haven’t read the second edition which may have edited some of the cumbersome tidbits out.
Is it worth buying? If you’re interested in making your own baby food for economic, health and environmental reasons it’s a good resource, but I would recommend checking it out from the library or picking it up secondhand. I’ll be sending my copy out to a lucky reader who will be able to read the book for herself and develop her own opinion. Simply comment by February 12th to be entered in our giveaway!
Have you read Super Baby Food? Did you find it be a valuable resource? Do you make your own food at home?
Now some of you have children who will willingly eat the family meal, spinach and all. Well done! I would love to know how you did it. My three year old won’t be receiving specialized cuisine for the rest of his life but for now it makes mealtime infinitely easier. Simply listing out a few ideas for breakfasts, lunches and dinners and then posting it has made life so much easier. It means that we don’t have to think in the morning after a horrid night with the baby and that we can be sure to have items on hand for kid-friendly meals.
Before we tried this simple tip, we spent a lot of time standing before an open fridge trying to think of healthy combinations for our son. Also, we made the mistake of listing several choices for him each meal as if we were catering to a very demanding customer. Now we put his meal before him and find that he’s far more willing to try it.
Our son helped us come up with the list and buy some of the items that we needed to have on hand. It helps him be involved in mealtime beforehand so that he’s less likely to balk when the meal is placed before him.
I know this isn’t gourmet fare, but it’s nice to have a list of a few meal ideas to get us going. Do you have other favorite meal choices that your child loves? Please share!