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Skip the high chair

5 Apr

Now that Baby E is in the groove of eating big fat mushy meals a couple of times a day, we’ve decided to be adventurous and go out for dinner a couple of times. Doing this made me realize that my baby really likes to dine al fresco and people watch while scarfing down sweet potatoes and sipping water from a shot glass (seriously – it’s the perfect size for baby mouths).

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The other thing it made me realize is how much I love our Fisher Price booster seat. We use it in lieu of a high chair at home and it works great. E is comfortable, it’s easy to clean, and it straps in well to our bar stools. But I especially love how well it travels. I was able to easily take it along to restaurants, strap it onto different chairs, and avoid the germiness of restaurant high chairs (really, I’ve worked in restaurants and those things never get more than wiped down with a dirty rag).

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I am now so thankful that we didn’t waste our money on a big high chair. I can’t imagine I would be happier with one, and I know we don’t have the room for it. The only flaw I’ve found is that E can pull the removable top of the tray off, but that hasn’t caused too many problems thus far. I’ll probably just remove it when he starts eating finger food. All in all, it was an excellent buy.

Adventures in Cloth Diapering

8 Jan

When I was pregnant with Baby E, I started researching cloth diapers as an alternative to using disposables. I was looking for something affordable and fairly easy to use, and I like the idea of being a little more environmentally friendly. I was also interested in health benefits. I’d read a good bit about chemicals used in disposables, and while I don’t think they’re a huge threat, my goal is to limit unnecessary chemical exposure whenever I can. So I embarked on my mission to bone up on cloth diapering.

Holy cow! There are a ton of options when it comes to cloth diapering, and a whole vocabulary to learn! It was a little intimidating at first, but fortunately my favorite local baby store, Natural Baby, holds Cloth Diapering 101 classes, and that was the crash course I needed to get things going. If you live in Upstate SC and are curious about cloth, I suggest you go.

I found my cloth diapering solution through Cotton Babies, a great company which offers a variety of cloth diaper systems and tons of cute colors and patterns. I decided to go with Flip Diapers and Econobum because I was looking for a combination of cheap, effective and easy. I mostly use Flip, which is a hybrid system. Flips have one-size waterproof covers with snaps that allow you to adjust the size as your baby grows. They offer two kinds of absorbent inserts – a flat stay-dry insert and a folded organic cotton insert. They also offer a disposable insert for extra convenience. Econobum is a prefold/cover system that’s super-affordable. They’re just a simple one-size waterproof cover with an organic insert. I can mix and match between the two brands to meet my needs. I like to use the organic inserts at night because they hold more pee and the stay-dry during the day because they’re thinner.

Over all, it’s been a great experience. I am saving ridiculous amounts of money. My stash consists of seven Flip covers, two Econobum covers, 14 stay-dry inserts and seven organic cotton inserts. Since they’re adjustable, one-size diapers, I’ll use these same diapers until Baby E is potty trained. And if we decide to have another kiddo, the diapers are great quality and will last a second round. I spent a total of about $200 on my diaper stash. Not too shabby, considering Babycenter’s Cost Calculator estimates disposable diapers dinging you at $864 per year. And I think that’s a conservative estimate. Pretty major savings, especially over about three years!

I don’t feel like washing adds too much to the cost. We have an HE front-loader and I wash diapers three times a week. You do need to wash cloth diapers with special, additive-free detergent. I bought a bag of Rocking Green cloth diaper detergent for $12, I’ve been using it for five months and still have half a bag left.

When it comes to convenience, I find cloth to be comparable to disposable. I have very few leaks or blow-outs. Baby E stays pretty dry, even overnight, and we haven’t had any diaper rash so far. Smell hasn’t been an issue, either – I use a trashcan with an antibacterial wet-bag liner. When it’s time to wash, I just throw the wet bag and contents in the machine. Since Baby E is breastfed, rinsing diapers by hand isn’t necessary. And when he starts solids, I’ll use flushable, biodegradable liners for easy poop cleanup.

The last thing I love about cloth is that they’re way cuter than disposable. Here’s a pic of Baby E in his Flip at one month old. Pretty cute, right?
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If you’re interested in learning more about cloth diapering, here are a few resources I found helpful:

FYI – I haven’t been compensated for this post and all views expressed are my own. However, I am entering it into a contest. The contest prize is a set of 12 bumGenius diapers for me and a set for one lucky commenter. So get to commenting and keep your fingers crossed that I win!

Decisions, Baby! Installment 2

12 Dec

Baby is the new black.

Babies can become rather inconvenient once they pop out into the world. Not that they’re not all cute and amazing, but they do make handling mundane tasks like going to the bathroom a major challenge.

I know some people have babies you can just plop in a bouncy seat and they can sit there all content and maybe even catch some z’s. Not so much for Baby E. At four months old, he’s just beginning to realize the fun of sitting on something besides me. So it was quite lucky that I had considered baby wearing before E was born.

If you’re not familiar with baby wearing, here are but some of the benefits. Once you dig in, you might find it a little cultish and a bit confusing. There are tons of carrier types and even more options within each style. If you’re simply thinking Baby Bjorn, you have no idea (serious BWs won’t touch that one – apparently it puts all of baby’s weight on his crotch and no one wants to be carried by their crotch).

I spent a ton of time researching carriers and reading reviews. I even visited a local baby wearing group where I could try on different styles and ask questions. Here’s what I learned:

  • Wraps. These are basically just long pieces of fabric that you can tie and wear in a million different ways.
    • Stretchy: Some wraps are stretchy like t-shirt fabric. These are good for newborns and small babies and are super snuggly and warm. The Moby is a popular knit wrap. These are generally great, but can be hot in warm climates.
    • Woven: For bigger babies, choose a woven wrap which will hold its shape and support baby weight better. You can tie these in a million ways and wear baby on front facing in or out, on your hip or back. These come in pretty prints and cooler materials like gauze. As a bonus, you can nurse in a wrap if you’ve got mad skillz like that.
    • Other: there are other wrap-like contraptions that aren’t quite wraps. I have a Baby K’tan that a dear friend gave me. She didn’t care for it, but I LOVE it. It’s cozy like a stretchy wrap, but it’s two loops of fabric joined by a fabric band. You can wear it like six different ways, and there’s no tying or having wrap tails dragging on the parking lot pavement. Watch the sizing, though.  I have an old one that’s a small, but they changed the fabric and the small now is way too tight for me. They said it will stretch, but I don’t know…Mom's-eye-view of Baby E in the K'tan. Quite cozy!
  • Slings.  These go over one shoulder and secure with a knot or a ring and work for little babies and bigger ones as well. Pros- quick and easy, pretty, and you can nurse in them. Cons- not completely hands-free, doesn’t distribute weight evenly and can hurt a little if you wear it for a long time.
  • Mei Tai. These are Asian-style carriers that are squares of fabric with straps at top and bottom. Not as good for newborns, awesome for ones with moderate head control and up. Pros- cute and comfortable, wear front, back, side. Holds the baby securely. Cons- takes a little practice to learn to tie it quickly, especially for a back carry. I have a Babyhawk and really like it. I’ve also tried on an Ellaroo and liked it, too.Babyhawk
  • Structured Carriers. These carriers have straps, snaps, buckles, and, well…structure. I have a Bjorn that The Hubs uses from time to time. I have heard from those who know that the Ergo is the schiz. If someone wants to buy one for me, I will gladly take it!

And that brings us to price, which is always a big factor in my world. Carriers are expensive, y’all! I found my Babyhawk on eBay  at about 50% of retail. Thebabywearer.com has a for-sale-or-trade section on their forum. You have to register to participate. I did, but found the forum a little intimidating. Lastly, I found paxbaby.com, where you can rent carriers to try them before you buy.  $9 for two weeks, and if you decide to buy, they deduct the rental fee from the sales price. Pretty good deal!

So there you have it – a crash course in baby wearing from a novice. If you’re new to the game and have any questions, shout at me in the comments. I’d love to help if I can!

BTW, all of this is strictly my opinion. I am in no way paid to promote anything I mentioned here.

Why does this not exist?

9 Dec

One of the most frustrating parts of being a new parent is figuring out what gear you need. I literally spent months researching and reading Amazon reviews to decide which bouncy seat and humidifier I wanted. And how, exactly, are you supposed to choose, say, a breast pump, when you have absolutely no experience with such a contraption?

I mean, it's stylish, but does it work??

Sure, there are a ton of registry checklists out there, and people are more than happy to give you advice. But the whole time I was making my registry I kept thinking, “I wish I could just try this stuff out.”

So why doesn’t some place like that exist? A baby demo store, where, for a set fee ($25-$50?) you can go in and try on to your heart’s content just seems like a great idea. It could carry the most common models of the main baby items, and each display would have product info, pricing, pros and cons. And since the store isn’t selling the items, the info would be impartial. Just think about it! You could run that jogging stroller around a little track to see if you’ll bang your shins against it. Or put that big ol’ rear-facing car seat in your compact car to see if it will actually fit. Or bring your screaming, colicky baby in to see if that $300 swing can bring you any peace.

And then, when you find the products you love, you can scan them to a list or maybe have them go straight to an Amazon registry. And maybe it could be tied in with a consignment store where you could buy the demo brands gently used. I don’t know – lots of possibilities. Just seems like something like this should exist!