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?



Cloth swim diapers make those summer days at the beach so much easier…and cuter! After all, could a disposable swim diaper even try to approach the adorability of this Kushis Goldfish Swim Diaper? Not possible!

Even for parents who don’t primarily use cloth diapers, reusable swim diapers are a great option. Instead of blowing through an entire package of disposables in an afternoon at the lake, you can just swap out between a couple of swim diapers for years!

Swim diapers’ sturdy elastic bands seem to keep waste in more effectively than disposables as well. In fact, our local pools only allow cloth diapers in the water as they’ve had more leakage issues with disposables. Plus, swim diapers can also be used as training pants near the end of the diapering years.

If all of that isn’t enough reason to switch, just check out the patterns and prints!

Have you used cloth swim diapers with your child? Do you have any favorites?

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!

Book Review: French Kids Eat Everything

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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Cradle Cap

At first I thought that Frances had gotten makeup foundation on her forehead from rubbing back-and-forth on my cheek, but it wouldn’t wipe off.  Then I tried scraping it lightly with my fingernail, and the skin flaked off.  I looked a little closer and her whole scalp looked a little yellow.  I hadn’t really noticed before, because she has so much hair, but there is definitely something going on.  My suspicions were confirmed when I noticed her trying to scratch her head when she wakes up (which is adorable and a little sad at the same time).

I have read about cradle cap, so I figure that’s what it is.  I looked up images online and if it is cradle cap, it’s a mild case.  Nothing worth seeing a doctor over.  A lot of websites say to use a brush or washcloth to scrape off the scales.  Is it really necessary to remove the scales in order for it to go away?

Joy posted back in 2008 about using baking soda to treat it and I’m going to give that a try.  I’d like to avoid using dandruff shampoo, and there are a bunch of products out there, but I don’t know which one to try.  If you have any other tips for treating and preventing cradle cap, I’d love to hear it!

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?

Peanut Butter Chia Balls

This was one of my favorite recipes when I was pregnant, and I’m making it again now that breastfeeding is making me even more hungry. The bite-sized morsels are perfect for tiding me over between meals, and fill me up enough that I snack less. Plus, there’s just enough sugar to satiate my sweet-tooth. You can adjust the amount of sugar based on your taste, so it’s a good recipe for anyone avoiding the sweet stuff.

My nieces loved this energy-packed snack as well, so it’s kid approved!

Mine look darker than this because I added cocoa and my flax seed wasn’t golden

This recipe is adapted from the original on Gluten-free Gourmand (I added cocoa):

Peanut Butter Chia Balls

½ C creamy peanut butter
½ C chia seeds
1/8 C cocoa powder
1/8 C sugar (or more or less, depending on how sweet you like things)
¼ C flax seeds

Grind the flax seeds in a coffee grinder until finely ground. Even if you start with ground flax, you might still want to give it a spin in your grinder so it’s super fine. Set aside in a bowl.

Grind the chia seeds in a coffee grinder until finely ground. You really must use a coffee grinder, because I tried it with my food processor and it totally didn’t work.

Combine the chia seeds, peanut butter, cocoa powder and sugar in a bowl until well mixed.

Roll a tablespoon of the mixture into a ball, then roll in the ground flax seeds until well coated. I use a mini ice cream scoop and it makes it a breeze.

These treats can either be refrigerated or left at room temperature.

Thumbs vs. Pacifiers

When Frances was 3 weeks old we started giving her a pacifier. Even as brand new parents we could tell she needed to comfort suck, and feeding on demand was giving her a lactose overload. She would gladly take the pacifier but as soon as she’d start to relax the pacifier would fall out of her mouth and she’d start crying again. After a few days we tired of this game and stopped. I was reading the archives and saw that Joy had better luck with pacifiers.

Thumb Sucking Practice

Thumb Sucking Practice

In the absence of a pacifier, Frances continued sucking on her whole fist to self-sooth. This produced a sound so loud, I swear you could hear it next door. I don’t think she was happy with it either. I half-heartedly tried to show her how to suck her thumb a few times, but I wasn’t sure it was a good idea. I mean, it’s just a bad habit to have to break later, right?

Well, her grandmother thought it might be time to try the thumb again and Frances took to it right away (although it was a few days before she mastered it). Now she happily sucks away when she’s falling asleep and is sleeping even longer stretches at night. Are we going to live to regret this?

Did you encourage your baby to use a pacifier or suck her thumb?

White Noise Apps

Now that Francis is sleeping more at night, she’s having a harder time falling asleep for her nap.  Unless I’m carrying her around on my back, she fights sleep no matter how tired she is.  I didn’t mind too much until I hurt my back and carrying her meant my back never had a chance to heal.  Since a well rested baby is a happy baby, I needed to find another solution.

It wasn’t until another mom at my breastfeeding support group brought it up that I was reminded about white noise.  Of course!  Later that day when Frances started rubbing her eyes and getting inconsolably fussy that I downloaded a white noise app on my phone and gave it a whirl.  Let’s just say it worked like magic.

So far she only likes two of the sounds available on TMSOFT’s free White Noise Lite, and I wonder if it’s worth it to upgrade to the paid version.  Or maybe I should try a different app?

Do you use white noise apps to calm your fussy baby?  What app do you like best?

The Eco-nomical Baby Guide
Eco-nomical Baby Guide
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