Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Battery recycling

I assume that you are reading my blog because you have children. And you're interested in preserving our environment so our children have a nice place to live long after we're gone. Well, with kids, come batteries. It's seem like about half the toys that are made for kids require batteries these days. So does your digital camera and your video camera.

Now, I like rechargeable batteries. I think they're a great idea. But let's face it, they really don't last as long as single use batteries, and they seem to hold less and less of a charge the longer you use them. And, it's guaranteed that you've forgotten to charge them all when your child's favorite toy runs out of juice mid-play session. So, most of us end up using those nasty disposable batteries at some point. That's all well and good, but there's one thing you should know. Do NOT throw these suckers in with your trash. They contain heavy metals that can seep into the earth, causing a toxic mess. Plus, if you can recycle it, why wouldn't you?

You can do a quick Google search for places that accept batteries for recycling in your area. Where I live, a number of local "green" stores and Radio Shacks accept them. Where my parents live, you can actually schedule a pickup and they will come to you to get your batteries! How convenient is that?!

A lot of us might be so used to throwing out old batteries that it's a difficult habit to break. Make recycling easier than throwing away. I keep an old tupperware right next to the new batteries. When I'm switching them out, I toss the dead ones into the tupperware. I don't even have to walk over to the garbage can. Recycling batteries may seem like a small thing, but when you add up small gestures across a population, it turns into something huge.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Long nights, wet mornings

Nighttime diapers and leaks are a problem that most of us face. You finally get your baby to sleep all night (yay!), and then you realize that his diaper is not up to the challenge. While the leaks are bad enough, some babies also get rashes from sitting in a wet diaper overnight. We are lucky enough not to have to deal with the rashes, but the leaks are definitely an issue.

The Eskimo usually sleeps 11 or 12 hours a night, which is amazing. However, it does provide his diaper with quite a challenge. For a while, the bamboozles were working really well overnight. But the Eskimo has stepped it up a notch and is waking up most mornings with wet pjs and sheets. So now I'm on the hunt again for an overnight solution.

I recently ordered some new fitteds off of They're called Bumboos and they're made by Earth, Mom and Baby. We tried one of them for the first time last night. While the absorbency is great on these (and this after only one wash), they are NOT user friendly. The design allows you to adjust the rise by folding the front down, but there is nothing to hold this in place. Trying to get that relatively even, while putting in the extra liner and keeping your 10 month old from flipping himself off the changing table is a pretty big challenge. The end result was not pretty, and I'm fairly certain that's why we had a leak last night. He didn't wake up soaked, like he normally does, but the waistband of his pants was definitely damp. I did order two of them, so I think I'll try the second one tonight and see if I can adjust the fit a bit better.

I also picked up some new hemp inserts at Mama Wise yesterday. Hemp is super absorbent and really soft. I'm looking forward to trying these out too. I will probably just line the bamboozles with these.

I'm going to keep searching for that perfect overnight solution. But the bottom line is, you need to find something that works for you and your child. Because the Eskimo doesn't really get rashes, it's okay if he wakes up in damp pj's. But if you're struggling with a rashy baby, you need to find a solution, ASAP. A lot of moms turn to disposable overnight diapers, and that's okay! If you're only using one disposable a day, you're still doing a great job of protecting the environment by keeping your baby in cloth the rest of the time! Do what it takes to keep your little one comfortable all night so that everyone can get their sleep. And when I find something that works, you'll be the first to know. :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Let's talk dirt

That's right, I'm dedicating an entire post to dirt. Not just any dirt, though. Compost! We have been faithful composters for years now. I remember the day we got our bin. I had read all about the proper ratio of green to brown materials and was very careful for the first few months. But, that soon wore off and I just started chucking everything in there. Turns out, it's still working just fine. :)

In our house, we compost yard waste, all vegetable and fruit scraps, coffee grinds and the filters, tea bags and occasionally egg shells. Living in Austin, we have a lot of limestone in our soil, so we don't really need the added calcium from the egg shells. In other parts of the country, you won't need the added acid of the coffee grinds. Check out your soil and talk to people around you. Also, egg shells take FOREVER to break down, and I kind of hate having little bits of egg shells in all my gardens.

As it turns out, Central Texas is an ideal climate for composting. A heap of veggie scraps and yard waste will compost a lot faster in the heat. And you will end up with a rich, black soil; black gold for your garden. My parents live near Chicago, so their compost pile isn't nearly as active during the winter months. They've found a way to work around it though. At last count, they had three compost bins going in order to hold all of their scraps that accumulate during the long winter months.

This leads me to the most amazing part of composting. Day after day, you throw scraps into the bin, and every time you open it, the contents of the bin seem to shrink! I'm not a scientist, so I'm just going to go ahead and chalk this up to magic. To me, it truly is magical to have a big pile of "waste" turn into a little pile of black gold.

Compost bins can be as simple or as fancy as you like. We have one that is a cylinder laying on it's side on a stand. It has a hinged lid on the top for dumping in the scraps. Then, you give it a spin and walk away to let it do its magic in peace. If you don't have a compost bin, that's okay too! You can just start a compost pile in your backyard. This may attract pests, so be aware.

There are some other "strange" things you can compost as well. If you're using the gDiaper disposable system, you can compost the disposable inserts as long as there is only urine on them. You can also compost dryer lint if you and your family wears mostly natural fabrics! Newspapers and paper bags can also go on the heap. And some food companies are now coming out with compostable packaging. Keep your eyes peeled!

I will leave you with a composting tip: While we have a bin we keep out on our counter for food scraps, I try to use paper bags as often as possible, especially when I'm cutting up and peeling a large quantity of fruits and veggies. You can just throw the whole paper bag full of scraps in your bin!

Happy composting!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


We all enter our breastfeeding relationship with our first child with no experience. We've never done this before. Now, some of us have more information than others. The smart ones do their homework beforehand and read books (The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding is a great one), check websites, and talk to friends and family (careful with this one, some of them might try to convince you that formula is best!). But, then the big day arrives and you're holding this precious little bundle and you think your heart might explode from love. How is it possible to love a tiny creature so much?

Some ladies (like me) panic immediately. My first day home from the hospital was spent running out to see a lactation consultant. I was breastfed as a baby, but my mom lives 2000 miles away and wasn't able to offer much help. And as for nearby friends? Everyone I know gave up on breastfeeding very early. I got the help I needed early on, and things have been going pretty well since then, though there are always going to be bumps in the road.

However, you can have a little one at home for weeks and suddenly hit a brick wall. I was speaking to a friend last night (you know who you are!) who is struggling with her 4 week old who has taken to screaming when he eats. And for a brand new mama whose hormones are still out of whack, this can be terrifying. You can feel like you're doing something wrong. I can remember feeling that way and the panic that settles into your gut. Sometimes it helps just to talk to another mama who's been there to find out that this happens to almost everyone at some point and it doesn't necessarily mean that anything is wrong.

Here are some signs that something is truly wrong and you should get to a doctor or lactation consultant:
-If your baby has a fever
-If you suspect your baby may have an ear infection (this can make nursing painful)
-If your baby isn't producing a lot of wet and poopy diapers
-If your baby is losing weight (aside from the initial weight loss right after birth)
-If breastfeeding is painful for you

Bottom line, even if your baby is fussing at the breast, if he is still eating, producing a lot of diapers for you, and is gaining weight, he's probably okay. Babies have VERY immature digestive systems and even the perfect food (breastmilk) can be difficult for them to process in the beginning. Infant gas drops can help a bit, and we definitely used those with the Eskimo. You can also try an elimination diet to see if your little one may have some food allergies. Remember, cutting out dairy for one day is not sufficient. It can take up to two full weeks before all the allergens work their way out of your system and your breastmilk. If you're going to go this route, do it right.

Qualifying statement: I am NOT a doctor. If you're worried, go see your pediatrician! That's what they're there for! And if you're having trouble with breastfeeding, find someone with experience to help you. It will put your mind at ease and may even make your life easier. :)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Great Cloth Diaper Change

If you haven't already heard about this, you should definitely check it out!

The cloth diapering community is going to try to break a world record with the most cloth diapers changed at the same time. On April 23rd at 11am CST people will be gathered all over the world, changing their baby's diapers. :)  There are locations all over the USA, so check and see if there is a local one for you. Then, all you have to do is show up with your baby in cloth and change his diaper! It's a great way to raise awareness and show folks that cloth diapers are going mainstream!

I'd love to hear stories of peoples' experiences at this event, so let me know how it goes!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Traveling with your baby

I just read a great post on EcoLogical Mom about traveling with your kids:

However, this post was geared towards traveling with slightly older kids. Since my baby is only 9 months old, I have no experience with flying with older kids. But I DO have experience flying with a baby. Here are some basics you should know about flying with a baby:

1. "Lap children" fly for free. Your baby is a lap child until age 2. However, if you can afford it, I highly recommend buying a seat for your baby. It is much safer for them to fly strapped in their car seat. This also gives you somewhere to stow them during the flight.
2. You can bring your stroller all the way up to the plane. They will take it from you right before you get on the plane and will have it waiting for you as you step off.
3. You are allowed to bring breastmilk or formula onto the plane in quantities greater than 3oz. If they ask to inspect it, request that they change their gloves before handling the bottle.
4. You are allowed to carry on a diaper bag at no additional charge. This does not count as your one carry on.
5. Call the airline ahead of time and let them know you will be flying with a lap child. This is VERY important. While they probably wouldn't turn you away at the gate, it makes the whole process much easier for you. And believe me, if you can make even a small part of the trip easy in advance, do it.
6. Get an aisle seat. You'll thank me later.

The Eskimo and I have taken 3 trips together, for a total of 5 flights and one really long car ride. All of these have been on our own. I can only dream of how easy this process would be with another adult. :) His first flight, at about 3 months old, was a breeze. He was an angel. And, I was lucky enough to have an empty seat next to me, so they let me bring his car seat on. While this was great for the flight, it was really challenging to get down the narrow aisle with a car seat, diaper bag, and carry on bag. The car seat is the safest place for your baby during a flight, but most of us can't really afford to buy a second plane ticket if we don't have to.

That first flight was the only one for which I used a stroller. Strollers are a pain in the butt. After that, I used my Ergo baby carrier. I'd throw the Eskimo up on my back, and suddenly making our way through the airport was "easy". But, without a stroller, you have to carry everything yourself. By our last trip, I had this down to a science. I found one small carry on with wheels and put EVERYTHING in there. If it didn't fit in that bag, it didn't go on the plane. When you're carrying a baby on your back, it's very difficult to carry bags with shoulder straps. Just sayin'.

So, what do you really "need" in your carry on? Diapers and wipes are obvious. We have always opted with 'sposies on trips. Packing up all our cloth, detergent, wetbags, diaper covers, etc is just not an option. You'll realize when you travel with your child that suitcase space is at a premium. I carry on enough diapers to get me through an ENTIRE day. I don't care how long your flight is. What if there's a delay? You can't buy diapers at the airport. And diapers are something you do NOT want to run out of. Bad bad bad.

Bring a few changes of clothes for your baby. There's nothing like having your baby puke all over himself and not having a clean onesie. Baby clothes are small, bring extras. I usually pack a spare shirt for myself too, just in case.

Burp rags! You will need these! I also bring my small wetbag to put soiled clothes and burp rags in. Much nicer than stuffing all the gross stuff right back into your diaper bag.

A bottle or two, either with expressed breastmilk or some formula. The Eskimo is a great nurser, but the activity of the airport and airplane can prove to be too distracting for even the best nursers. And it can be a bit embarrassing to be sitting there with your boob exposed while your little one stares at the passersby. Also, if you have a car seat on the plane, you are required to leave your child in it for take off and landing. It's impossible to nurse like this, so you will need a bottle if you're hoping to feed your baby and help his ears. I usually opt for some powdered formula and a bottle of water. Breastmilk only keeps for five hours at room temperature if it's freshly pumped and you probably won't have time to pump right before you leave for the airport. You may not need to use the bottle, but it is MUCH better to have it and not need it than vice-versa.

Toys! I always go out and buy a brand new toy that my baby has never seen before we hop on a plane. Whether I buy it at Target or at Goodwill, it needs to be something new to your baby. If it occupies them for 15 minutes, that's 15 minutes where you don't have to entertain them. Remember, babies go through a phase where they want to throw everything on the floor. And it can be impossible to pick things up in the close quarters of a plane. On my last flight, I tied pieces of string to a number of toys and held onto the ends. That way when the Eskimo threw them, I could reel them in again. You may want to avoid balls or round objects that will roll away down the aisle of the plane. Before we take off, I usually pull all the toys out and put them in my seat pocket for easy access throughout the flight.

Pacifiers and/or loveys. If your baby enjoys his paci, bring a bag full. They will throw them, they will get lost in the airport and you do NOT want to run out of these. And if your child has bonded with a stuffed animal or other lovey, be sure that you have this with you. Airplanes are strange, scary places for babies and they will need all the comfort they can get.

If your baby is old enough, bring some snacks on the plane. There aren't very many healthy options at the airport. Bring something simple and clean. Obviously a messy snack isn't going to be good for anyone involved.

Okay, so your diaper bag is packed, you've got your checked bag packed, and you're ready to go. Get a ride to the airport. You don't want to have to park your car in long-term parking and haul your baby and bags for 3 miles. Have a friend or family member drop you off. If this isn't an option, get a cab. Believe me, you'll be happy you made this choice.

If you're checking bags, use the curb-side check in if it's available to you. Bring a few dollars with you to tip the porter. This saves you having to wait in yet another line inside the airport.

Security really isn't that bad. Pull out any bottles and let the TSA agent know about them. I was always given the option to leave the Eskimo in the baby carrier, but was told they would have to do and individual pat down. Um, no thanks. Do whatever you can to make the TSA agents' jobs easier. Put your carrier through the x-ray machine with your shoes and you're good to go.

I usually try to get the Eskimo to take a short nap right before we get on the plane, because he does NOT sleep on the plane at all. I find a relatively quiet corner to nurse him, put him in the Ergo and walk with him. I want him to sleep long enough to charge up his batteries so we don't have a meltdown on the plane. Our last flight, I managed to get him to stay asleep right up until the moment we took off.

So, now you're on the plane. Smile at the people around you and feel them out to see how baby-friendly they are. On one flight, I had a middle-aged lady with her 10 year old son sitting across the aisle from me. I could tell by the look on her face that she was picturing her little boy as a baby every time she looked at the Eskimo. Later in the flight, she offered to hold the Eskimo for me if I wanted to go to the bathroom! Heck yeah! Flight attendants are another great resource. Take note of which ones make funny faces at your baby as they walk down the aisles. Those are the ones who will hold your baby when you need to pee, too. :)

There are changing tables in most airplane bathrooms, but I don't have to tell you that the quarters are tight. Try your to change your baby's diaper right before you get on the plane. Granted, this is tricky if they're asleep. In this case, follow the golden rule and don't wake a sleeping baby. If your baby is too big for the bathroom changing table, find a clear spot on the floor of the plane, and lay them down. Just make sure you're the one sticking out in the aisle and not the baby.

The last thing that most parents worry about are their baby's ears. Technology and pressurization has come a LONG way, and most babies won't even notice the pressure change for the most part. I had a lengthy conversation with a flight attendant who told me that the take off isn't usually the problem, but the landing. If you're worried, give your child a pacifier or bottle to suck on during the landing. This helps with ear pressure.

Even when you've made all the preparations in the world, things can go wrong. Maybe your baby won't nap, or is teething, or is just generally cranky. It's okay. If your baby cries the whole flight, it's okay. Do your best to entertain him and keep him calm, but remember, you'll never see ANY of these people ever again. Who cares what they think of you? And honestly, if you're making an effort, most people are very kind. Sure, no one wants to listen to a screaming baby, but most of them have been in your situation and they feel your pain. Do your best, but don't worry about it. If you're frantic, there's no way your baby is going to calm down.

Most of all, have a great trip!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Diaper addiction

It's true, I am a self proclaimed addict to cloth diapers. I can't help myself from buying and trying new things. I just ordered a two pack of bamboo fitteds off of today. Do we need them? Heck no! But, I'm always searching for something new and exciting that's going to fit my baby perfectly. :) Plus, I love our Bamboozles by Bummis so much, that I couldn't resist trying another bamboo-based diaper. Let me do a quick inventory here:

30 Regular Bummis organic cotton prefolds
12 Indian prefolds
5 hemp/microfleece inserts by G Diapers
3 bamboozles by Bummis
3 Fuzzibuns pocket diapers
2 Charlie Banana pocket diapers (these are my favorites!)
1 Happy Heiny pocket diaper
1 Tot Bots all-in-one
About a million diaper covers and some homemade longies
I know there are more, but the baby is asleep, and I'm not going to wake him up to do inventory. :)

Here's the thing about cloth diapering your first child: you don't know what you're doing or what works best for your family. That's why forums like Diaper Swappers are so great. You can go on there and sell the items that you're no longer using and buy the things you want. Or, you can turn into a diaper hoarder like me. Don't be surprised to see me on that TLC show Hoarders one of these days...

But this does speak to another point. Cloth diapering is just plain fun. It becomes so much more than a thing of necessity. I get excited about trying new diapers out and seeing how well they work. Can you see anyone getting excited about disposable diapers? Didn't think so. And the best part is that if we have another kid, I'm already fully stocked with diapers! I think part of the addiction lies in knowing you are doing something wonderful for your baby's health and for the environment. It's really easy to justify buying a new cloth diaper when you know it's not going to end up in a landfill anytime soon. So, happy shopping and swapping, mamas!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

And we're back!

For absolutely no reason that I can tell, the Eskimo is nursing again! After six days of striking, he just up and decided to nurse again. These past few days have been really difficult. All I could think last night was that I didn't know the last time I had nursed the Eskimo would be the LAST time. Then, as suddenly as the strike started, it was over and life is back to "normal". With one exception. I now have a much greater appreciation for my nursing relationship with my son. It's such a unique relationship nursing mothers and their babies have. I think a lot of people overlook what a privilege it is to be able to nourish your baby with the perfect food, made exactly as nature intended it. So many moms go the route of formula for various reasons, some valid, and some simply due to lack of education. But they never realize what they're missing out on. Ladies, if you have the opportunity to nurse your baby, take advantage of it, even if you only do it for the first few months. You're giving your baby the most wonderful gift in the world, but you'll also be amazed at how much you get out of it.

I'm sorry I can't offer any solid advice or tricks for ending a nursing strike. I tried everything that people had suggested to me. I even took a bath with the Eskimo yesterday. Not sure how this was supposed to help, but multiple people suggested it. He thought he had died and gone to heaven getting to take a bath in the real tub in the middle of the day. But he still had no interest in nursing. I did sneak into his room last night around 4am and did a dream feed. Sure enough, he latched on. And then he latched on again this morning when he woke up, before his morning nap and again before his afternoon nap! I'm still in awe over the fact that something that was causing me such stress for days can "poof", all of a sudden be gone.

Moral of the story, be grateful for the time you have with your little one, and never give up!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Nursing Strike

So, I've kind of been avoiding my blog because the past few days have been really rough. The Eskimo has gone on a nursing strike. He went from being a great nurser, to wanting absolutely nothing to do with me. Ladies, this happens. And you will have people tell you, oh, he's just weaning. NO baby will self-wean at nine months, I don't care what anyone says. Babies generally don't self-wean until 18-24 months. And, a baby doesn't wake up one morning and say, I'm weaned, deal with it. Weaning is a gradual process, spread out over weeks or months. When your baby decides he's not going to nurse all of a sudden, it's a strike. And there is a difference. I've read other mama's tales of their babies going on a strike around nine months. At this age, babies are so busy, they often don't have time to sit down and nurse. They just can't be bothered. At this point, a lot of women give up and say, oh well, he weaned himself. And believe me, that thought has crossed my mind MANY times the past few days. How easy would it be to just give up right now?

The fact is, babies need to be getting the majority of their nutrition from either breastmilk or formula until a year of age. So, even if you decide not to nurse anymore, you're still going to have to provide bottles. We've been giving the Eskimo bottles for the past few days, and it is not fun. It's a lot of work. And I'm not pumping nearly enough milk to keep him happy, so we have to supplement with formula. Not the end of the world, but formula does seem to make him spit up a lot more than usual. Right now, I'm just trying to keep my milk supply up for the day when (not IF!) the Eskimo decides it's time to nurse again. I'm offering the breast often, but so far he just screams and pushes away.

I don't have any brilliant insights into how to end a nursing strike. But I do have insight into how it makes a mama feel. It's horrible. You can't help but feel your baby is rejecting you and that somehow that makes you a terrible mom. I know in my mind that this isn't true, but I have definitely burst into tears on multiple occasions the past few days. Since we're on day six of the nursing strike, I finally broke down and called a lactation consultant today. Incidentally, the Eskimo had his 9 month checkup at the pediatrician yesterday, and while she was able to confirm his ears are fine (ear infections can make it painful for baby to nurse), she was absolutely useless when it came to offering advice. She actually told me that he was probably weaning. Do NOT trust your pediatrician to give you breastfeeding advice. I'm sure some of them know what they're talking about, but most of them know very little. They are baby doctors, not lactation consultants. Seek the help of a professional and a specialist.

Anyway, here's a list of things you can try to end a nursing strike. Obviously, none of these have worked for us yet:
-First, make sure baby is healthy. Ear infections, injuries, etc, can make it difficult for baby to nurse
-Check for a new tooth. This can also cause a strike.
-Try different nursing positions, different locations, even walking around while nursing
-Nurse in a quiet, dark room with minimal distractions
-Make it as pleasant an experience as possible. You don't want to stress your baby, or he may never want to nurse again
-When using bottles, make sure you are using a slow-flow nipple. If baby is used to sucking down a bottle quickly, the slowness of breastfeeding won't seem attractive
-Get someone other than mom to give him the bottles (if this is an option)
-Forgo bottles altogether. Use a sippy cup, spoon, bowl, syringe, anything other than a bottle to get your baby milk.
-Try to nurse when he is sleepy

But above all, the number one rule is, feed the baby. Some folks will say, when he's hungry enough, he'll nurse. When he's hungry enough, he'll become hysterical and won't be able to nurse. Feed the baby. Bottles are a pain in the butt, but are not the end of the world. And keep pumping so you're ready for baby when he decides it's time to nurse again. Here's hoping it gets better soon.