Cloth diapering: Our methods

Earlier this week you saw my nerdy breakdown of why cloth diapering really does save money, even if you wait until your kid is 18 months old to start.

Here’s a quick look at our methods (so much less complicated than it may appear when you first research all the options out there).

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Diapers: Stash of 15 bumGenius 4.0, one size, snap closure

Why? This brand and particular style comes recommended by several friends. I love that they are adjustable to fit newborns up through potty training age. The snap closures are much more durable than the velcro option and should last a long time.

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How do they work? The diaper has a pocket where you insert absorbent pad(s) called inserts. Each diaper comes with two inserts: newborn size and regular (adjustable) size. During the day, Corban wears them with just the regular insert. At night, he wears them with one regular insert and two newborn inserts layered inside. We have only had a couple of leaks, and those were more due to our learning curve than the diapers themselves. You can use additional flannel or other absorbent materials inside the diapers as well.

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What’s the process for a diaper change? If it’s wet, change the diaper (we don’t use wet wipes on wet diapers, but may use a dry rag just to dry him off). Pull the wet insert out of the diaper and put both the diaper and insert in a reusable pail liner (soon-to-be hosted inside a small flip-top garbage can, which I have yet to make the trip to Target to purchase). If it’s poopy, we wipe Corban with disposable wet wipes (I do plan to switch to cloth wipes at some point, but we still have a bulk box of disposable wipes to use up) and throw the wipe(s) away in the Diaper Genie (relic from the disposable days, but still useful!) We dump the poop in the toilet, sometimes with the aid of some toilet paper, and flush it away. Then we pull the insert out and place both diaper and insert into the pail liner. We don’t rinse the diaper at all unless it’s really messy, and in that case we use our laundry room sink’s sprayer so as not to contaminate any sinks that we use for hygiene.

How do you wash them? Every other day, after Corban goes to bed I empty the pail liner into the washer, turning it inside out and throwing it in with the diapers. First, I do a cold rinse (15 minutes) with no detergent. Then I set it to a hot wash/cold rinse with an extra rinse cycle and 1.5 teaspoons of powder detergent. I sometimes put it on delicates, since that uses more water in a high efficiency machine and decreases the risk of leaving any detergent residue behind on the diaper, which can cause problems down the road. I’m still trying to figure out if that’s necessary. If I forget to wash them at night, our nanny will do it the next morning.

What kind of detergent do you use? There are only a handful of detergent brands that are recommended as safe for cloth diapers. You don’t want to use a detergent that has any fragrance or other additives that can deteriorate or stick with the diaper. I had a hard time at first finding any of the recommended detergents anywhere in the Milwaukee area. You can always order online, but I had already started using my diapers so didn’t want to have to wait to wash them. I finally found Country Save detergent at Outpost on Capitol Dr. in Milwaukee ($16.99 for a box that I calculated should last me almost four years!). I use 1.5 teaspoons of the powder per load – this was just a guess based on others’ recommendations for high efficiency front-loading machines, but it seems to be working well. You want to use much less than the amount you would for a regular load of clothes because it will harm the diaper’s performance and could even cause diaper rash if there is any detergent residue left on the diaper.

A pile of washed diapers is perfect for jumping into.

A pile of washed diapers is perfect for jumping into.

How do you dry them? I throw the inserts and the pail liner in the dryer on extra low, although I probably should line dry them in the interest of saving money. The diapers shouldn’t go in the dryer, so I line dry them by either draping them over hangers in the laundry room or laying them outside on our deck if it’s daytime. Letting stained diapers dry out in the sun miraculously bleaches them back to a perfect white! That still amazes me. Drying inside overnight, they sometimes are a little damp in the morning, but are good to go by Corban’s second diaper change of the day.

What will you do with the new baby? We will obviously need more diapers when we’ve got two little ones. Target recently clearanced out their stock of Charlie Banana one-size diapers, which are really similar to the bumGenius 4.0s, so we were able to snag them for 50% off! With tax, it ended up being less than $8 per diaper. We have 18 of them. I’ve heard this brand fits a bit narrower than bumGenius, so hopefully they will work well for a newborn. As soon as the baby is big enough to fit into the diapers (supposedly at around 8 pounds) we will start using them. Breastfed baby poop is water soluble and not smelly, so it should be a bit easier than with Corban’s stinkers.

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Cheers to cloth diapering!

It’s all a piece of cake, really!

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Does cloth diapering really save money?

Who switches to cloth diapers when their son is 18 months old? Yeah, me, apparently.

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When I was pregnant with Corban, Peter and I had considered cloth diapering in order to save money, but at some point during the overwhelming time while preparing for our firstborn we decided to let it go since it just seemed too complicated. We also had read that it can end up being about the same cost as disposables.

18 months later, I revisited the idea, did some more research and realized:

1) It would be totally doable with our lifestyle. Our nanny cloth diapers and loves it, so she was on board. Honestly, she does all of Corban’s laundry and changes most of his diapers during the week anyway. But even if I were doing it all myself, I’ve come to realize that baby laundry doesn’t really bother me, and the added laundry was a main factor in our decision not to cloth diaper when C was born.

2) It would definitely save money, even this late in the game. We were pretty cheap disposable diaperers – we used Target Up & Up brand, which is cheaper than on-sale name brands – and only change about five or six diapers a day, but that still adds up to about $1 a day in diaper costs alone (when Corban was younger, the sizes were cheaper per diaper, but he probably went through a few more diapers each day, so I figured $1 a day across the board was reasonable). For others, I’m sure this cost is much higher.

Cloth diapers are expensive, but less so if you know where to buy them. I bought three very lightly used bumGenius 4.0s for $14 each including shipping on Cloth Diaper Trader. Then I found them new for $14.50 each (including shipping) and bought 12 more on Cotton Babies and Kelly’s Closet (I would recommend Cotton Babies since they are the manufacturer, they shipped quicker and they include a sample of bumGenius detergent). So, total diaper cost: $216. That will pay for itself in 216 days of use, or a little more than seven months. I also learned as I hunted for diapers that cloth diapers hold their value really well, especially bumGenius and some other hot brands. So even if Corban were the only child of ours to use these diapers, it would still save money since I could re-sell them for probably 75% of what I paid for them if I kept them in good condition. Since we will use them for Baby #2 and other future children, they will definitely save a lot of money.

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3) It would save money, even factoring in water, energy and detergent costs. A cloth diapering myth out there, at least in my experience, says that once you factor in all the extra laundry, detergent and time spent on cloth diapers, it ends up costing the same as disposables. This is definitely false for us.

You use very little detergent for cloth diaper loads – if you use too much it will build up in the diaper and make it less absorbent. For our high efficiency front-loading washing machine, I’ve found 1.5 teaspoons of powdered Country Save detergent to be the right amount. The diapers come clean and don’t smell at all. If I notice them becoming less absorbent at some point, I’ll try even less detergent and see how it goes. But when I break that down, it costs just over 2 cents per load. I wash them every other day, so that comes to $4.83 per year in detergent (and it will take us almost four years to go through one box of detergent! haha).

As far as water/energy costs, it’s tough to calculate exactly how much more we’re spending, but I think of it this way: since the diapers will have paid for themselves in ~7 months, after that point our water and electric bills would have to go up by more than a dollar a day in order for cloth diapering to not be cost effective. Our quarterly statements would have to be $91 more than pre-cloth diapering for that to happen. By my estimated calculations (taking the kWh usage of our washer multiplied by our electric rate), it likely costs about $3.52 more per quarter in electricity (I line dry the diapers and can line dry the inserts or tumble dry with other laundry). Taking a more average look at it, using average high efficiency kWh usage for hot/cold cycles according to Mr. Electricity* and multiplying by our electric rate, it comes to $6.51 more per quarter in electricity. Using Mr. Electricity’s calculator (our rates and basic info, but average high efficiency washer kWh usage) our total water, electric and detergent costs should be something like $10.87 more per quarter. I have a feeling it is actually less for us, but however you look at it, it’s a far cry from $91.

To think of it in yearly terms, that’s $43.50 more per year in electricity, water and detergent vs. $365 more per year to buy disposable diapers.

*Mr. Electricity has an awesome site with lots of great info. He also looks a lot like Weird Al. And he has a page dedicated to calling out all the media organizations who have misquoted his info. Badass.

OUR TOTAL SAVINGS:

first year of cloth diapering: $216 (diapers) + $43.50 (water/electricity/detergent) = $264.33 for cloth vs. ~$365 for cheap disposables // save $105.50

second year of cloth diapering: $43.50 (water/electricity/detergent) for cloth vs. ~$365 for cheap disposables // save $321.50

Factor in using the diapers for multiple babies or reselling them after potty training, and the savings increase.

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Now, all that being said, I do see how for some people, cloth diapering can be much more expensive. We only bought 15 diapers, and bought them at a discounted price. I’ve noticed lots of cloth diaper advocates out there get carried away with buying the latest styles and cutest prints, trying every different brand out there and ending up with a huge stash of diapers. It’s apparently an addictive habit, and one that gets expensive really fast!

But 15 diapers is perfect for one toddler. It gives us more than enough to get through two days plus a few extra while they’re being washed and dried. You are supposed to wash them every other day, so any more than that is unnecessary.

Anyway, if you made it through all of the above, you see not only that I am crazy with all my ridiculous calculations, but that you can save a lot in the long run by cloth diapering. Since we plan on having more kids (one coming very soon!) we figured we might as well switch to cloth now.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, after cloth diapering for about a month, I love it and wish we had done it from the beginning! I’ll write more later this week about our methods and the things I’ve learned so far. I’m happy to report that cloth diapering is much less complicated than it may appear!

13.5-month update

13.5 months? Wouldn’t you just round that to one year? That’s what I always thought before having Corban. I actually thought it was kind of ridiculous when people would say their baby was “13 months old.”

But now I’m the one doing that, because, as it turns out, a lot can happen in a month.

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It’s hard to believe it’s only been roughly six weeks since Corban’s first birthday. It seems like he’s changed so much in that time, but then again, I think I say that every month. Here are some milestones of the past month and a half:

Communication Skills

He is getting much more proficient at communicating with us. It’s amazing to witness this process! He points to his mouth if he sees food and he’s hungry. He will clap and sometimes wave on command. He gives sloppy, open-mouthed kisses if you ask for one  (the best!). He will say “woof, woof” if he hears someone talking about a dog or sees any animal resembling a dog (this includes cats — both live and in books — and just about every farm animal). Actually, we’re pretty sure he just thinks animals in general are called “woof, woofs.” We’re working on introducing some meows and moos into his vocabulary.

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Standing

The biggest physical development of these past six weeks is his ability to stand unsupported. He usually will only do this if you’re sitting on the floor with him and stand him up, but he finds it hilarious and waves and laughs the entire time he’s up (the video at the end of this post demonstrates this). We think his record is about 15 seconds. This new ability has made him much more proficient at walking while holding our hand(s), and he can walk across the entire house this way. If he really wants to get somewhere though, he’ll crawl (super fast) or reach for us to pick him up and then point to where he wants to be carried.

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Hair

His hair is out of control! Actually, it’s just the front that is an issue. It doesn’t like to stay brushed to the side and is getting quite long. But I’m still not emotionally ready for the first haircut, so we’ll continue to attempt to sweep it out of his eyes. It doesn’t seem to bother him at all.

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Play Time

He loves zooming cars around on the floor, especially little Hot Wheels. Still enjoys dancing, and sometimes “singing” with us. Buttons and touch screens are absolutely fascinating.

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He’s really into books, and has definite preferences for certain books. If he’s in a picky mood he will reject each book you offer until you hold up the one he wants. This is usually any of the three “Spot” books we own (they are the best! Perfect size, storylines, flaps, pictures, etc.), “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You Hear?” or “Where is Baby’s Bellybutton?”

Corban now uses his shape sorter as a shape sorter (rather than just a bucket) and after a few tries can usually fit the shape through the correct slot. He adores his counting piggy bank my parents gave him for his birthday, and also got tons of use out of his Little People nativity set from Peter’s parents before we put it away for the season.

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He also loves putting this plastic bucket on his head – his “helmet” – and wearing it around while talking to himself in the echo chamber.

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Weaning

Ah, yes. Right when he turned one, it seemed time to officially start the process of weaning. We are now down to one nursing session a day, in the morning right when he wakes up. I always thought the bedtime nursing would be the last to go, but we both seem to enjoy it most in the morning. I’m guessing my milk supply will naturally deplete over the next few weeks and that will probably be the end. *Tear!* But weaning has actually been very natural and comfortable (minus a few days of physical discomfort for me) for us both so far. I’m thankful for that.

Thanks to my ridiculous freezer stock of breast milk, he still has at least three bottles of breast milk a day and we probably have another month of milk left. I admit, it is nice to clear some space in the freezer, though.

I will probably do a separate post about the weaning process, so leave a comment or email me if you have any questions!

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Holidays

I almost forgot, Corban experienced his second Christmas and New Year’s Eve this past month. He got to see two cousins who are a little bit older than him.

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Can you handle this?

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Christmas Eve was such a sweet (and toy-filled) night with my mom’s side of the family.

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We didn’t spoil him on Christmas Day, but he loved his new sled.

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Corban also got a kick out of riding around in Pa’s walker like it was a stroller.

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Sleep

Huge improvements/changes in sleep this past month! I finally weaned him from nursing in the middle of the night, which doesn’t mean he is consistently sleeping through the night (yet, at least), but he is sleeping through the night a lot more. Peter and I switch off nights getting up and getting him back to sleep if need be. This usually involves replacing the pacifier, re-covering him with his blanket and rubbing his back for a couple minutes. I’d like the back-rubbing part to go down the drain, but we’re taking this one step at a time.

He is definitely down to one nap a day now. That was a somewhat rocky transition, but now he naps for 1.5 to 2 hours starting in the late morning or early afternoon. This is much better than our previous mid-morning and late-afternoon nap schedule, which often involved either a battle for the second nap or a cranky, awake baby.

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Food

Corban’s appetite is sometimes shocking. He’s unleashed an undying love for frozen peas/carrots blend, and if he’s in the right mood he can eat half a bag in one sitting. I maintain that he is welcome to eat as many veggies as his little stomach desires! His other main food groups are bread, Cheerios, bananas, grapes, scrambled eggs, plain yogurt and cantaloupe. I need to find some more easy foods for him because the aforementioned make up probably 90% of his diet.

He has mastered the art of drinking water from his straw cup, and we also introduced a travel mug-like sippy cup (this one, specifically). It’s basically a baby version of a travel coffee mug, with a lid with a small opening. I like it because he is learning to drink like you drink from a regular cup (which is the end goal) — just with less spillage. I took the no-spill suction thing out so he can drink it without sucking like he would from a bottle.

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Life is good with this little one in it. My love for him grows as he grows. Each new development and personality quirk is such a blessing.

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In Action!

Here’s a video of Corban from earlier this month when he first started standing on his own (right at 13 months old). Note how thrilling the novelty of it is to him!

P.S. I completed my attempt at taking and posting a photo of Corban each day of his first year. Here is the finished project.

How to DIY a first birthday shirt (no sewing machine required)

Ah, the first birthday shirt. Yes, this is a thing.

I found some extremely cute “one.” shirts on etsy… for $32. I mean, I know the photos will last a lifetime, but I wasn’t going to spend that much on a one-time-use shirt for C.

So, instead, I bought a shirt from Walmart for $3.50, cut letters out of old T-shirts of mine (that I recently cleared out of my closet and stuffed in bags for random future projects) and spent 3 episodes of “Parenthood” and 2 episodes of “New Girl” creating this:

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No sewing machine required! Here’s how it’s done.

STEP 1: Start with a solid-colored baby T-shirt. The sleeves are a little short on this one, but it was $3.33… so, yeah.

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STEP 2: Find some old T-shirts (or shorts) in colors and textures you like. I went with colors that matched his party theme.

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STEP 3: Carefully draw and cut out the letters. Use sharp scissors. Print out the letters in a font you like and trace them onto the fabric if you need to. I freehanded it and used lots of little snips with my favorite dollar store scissors (seriously, very sharp) to smooth everything out.

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STEP 4: Pin the letters in place and carefully hand stitch around the letters’ outlines. Adjust placement as necessary, and check often to make sure your letters stay lined up. The stitches don’t have to be super tight.

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That’s it! Very straightforward. Just be sure to have some good shows on the DVR to keep you entertained.

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Corban tolerated loved it!

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Ode to the pump

Oh, breast pump. You have served me well.

You aren’t much to look at. Your black leather case has a broken latch and a mysterious white stain. Your knobs have some dust and dirt.

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You’re old – I’m not quite sure just how old. Your instruction manual says copyright 1996. I know you’ve had at least two previous owners: the friend who gave you to me and the woman she purchased you from on Craigslist six years ago.

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I would assume the woman in the photo was fashionable when this was printed.

But you’ve done your job well for the past year.

You’ve been by my side almost every day.  You’ve accompanied me to Washington, D.C., Chicago, Virginia Beach, Las Vegas and St. Louis. You’ve made it through airport security a half-dozen times – mostly without incident. You’ve allowed me to be with my best friends to celebrate weddings and bachelorette parties. You’ve allowed me to feed my baby bottles of nothing but breast milk for the first year (and counting) of his life.

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You’ve stayed by my side in loud hotel rooms filled with girlfriends, creepy airport bathrooms, tiny hotel bathrooms, a retreat center, the Chicago History Museum during a wedding reception and Corban’s dark nursery after each middle-of-the-night feeding while I was on maternity leave. How many times have I listened to your rhythmic ruuu-uuum, ruuu-uuum, ruuu-uuum while perched on a recliner in the lactation room at work? (Twice a day for about six months and once a day for another couple months.)

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um, yeah, I totally panorama-ed the lactation room*

 

You’ve helped me pump 2,561.6 ounces of milk (and that’s just what I’ve recorded in the Baby Connect app). That’s 320.2 cups, or more than 20 gallons of milk.

Despite your age, you’re a hardworking pump. You deserve a break.

Two days before Corban’s first birthday, we had our last fling (at least until Baby #2). I admit, I already kind of miss those calm moments when I could zone out to your whirring motor in the middle of my workday. But I don’t miss carrying you around with me, worrying about milk refrigeration, hunting for private electrical outlets in public spaces and hand washing your plastic parts.

So until next time, old friend, take it easy.

*There used to be this sweet 1970s-era (I’m guessing?) TV in the lactation room, but then we got someone new in HR (a mom) who cleaned the room up and cleared it out:

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Dulling the pain of shopping

Shocking fact: I don’t love shopping.

In fact, I find it burdensome. When I need a new pair of jeans or shoes I often put off my shopping trip for far too long because, well, not only is it a pain to find time to go out to the mall or wherever, but there just seems to be so much pressure to find the right pair. The same goes for technology, household items and more. I researched cameras for weeks when mine was stolen, and have been putting off buying new bath mats for our master bath for months. I wish the perfect item would just show up on my front door so I wouldn’t have to spend so much time searching for it.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love having new things – it’s always fun to add to your wardrobe or upgrade your camera, etc. But I don’t just go browsing department stores for fun (now, Target, I suppose, is another story – I run in for diapers and end up with a cart full of things I didn’t know I needed until I laid eyes upon them – ha).

When it comes to baby clothes, I’ve been lucky so far — Corban spent his first six months or so in mostly gifts, and my mom is an avid deal snagger who has been outfitting him in cute “pre-owned” apparel from the start. I’ve been mostly spared the task of going out shopping for baby clothes thanks to that, and to a little service called Wittlebee.

Wittlebee is a baby clothing service that sends you a monthly box of baby clothes, allowing you to choose sizes, style preferences and clothing needs, but giving their “stylists” the freedom to choose the exact items from name brands like American Apparel, Kenneth Cole Reaction, Carters and Calvin Klein. Someone to pick out cute clothes and send them to me? Yes, please.

I originally signed up because I found a %50 off coupon code online somewhere (I can’t remember where), so I was able to get a box for $20. That 20 bucks got me this:

Eight adorable items, including a pair of swim trunks. Pretty great deal. The regular price is $40, so I figured I’d stick around for another month since Corban needed some fall clothes in bigger sizes, and it would average out to $30 per box for those first two boxes, which was still a great deal. The second box was another gold mine:

Before they send you a box, a stylist calls to confirm your order and take any preferences on items. I meant to cancel or at least take a break after the second box, but of course I failed to answer the phone or return the call or update my style profile online before the third box was sent, so we received another filled with pants, long sleeve shirts and onesies in 12-18 month sizes. Corban probably didn’t need more clothes at that point, but I can’t complain because it was totally my fault for not canceling, and the clothes are all cute.

The Wittlebee website says boxes come with six items, but the three boxes I’ve gotten have all come with eight. That makes the $40 price tag a decent deal – $5 per item – considering it’s all new clothing and from brands that aren’t exactly cheap (all three boxes came with at least one American Apparel onesie, which retails for $11.50 — a price I’d never pay, by the way, but it is a great onesie).

We took a break this month because we’re good on fall clothes, but I will probably say yes to a box here and there in the future. I’m all for a good steal from a rummage sale or resale shop, and that will still be where many of Corban’s clothes come from, but it’s nice to have some new, high quality items too. And for someone like me who would rather have someone else pick out and deliver clothes to my door, Wittlebee is perfect.

Have you used any sort of home delivery “club” for baby things? We subscribed to Honest Company diapers for two months with a really great coupon (50% off), but stopped when the price went back to normal. I’m all for these kinds of things, but only if they’re a good deal!

**In case it isn’t obvious, I am in no way affiliated with Wittlebee, nor was I asked to endorse them or anything like that!**

The Nursery: Personal touches

Since I finally got around to showing you Corban’s nursery (I was so not one of those moms who rocked peacefully in the glider of the finished nursery while anticipating the arrival of her beloved baby – our nursery was a wreck when C was born and we still don’t even have a glider), I want to share a few personal touches we added to the room. I’m not talking about DIY things – which, yes, are personal, and are in our nursery – but rather sentimental items.

STUFFED BEAR

My parents brought this stuffed bear to the hospital with them when they came to visit the day after Corban was born. It goes along with the book “On the Night You Were Born,” which they also gave us. It took me two weeks to work up the courage to read the book, because I knew it would make me sob in my overly emotional, hormonal, post-partum state. And sob I did. Corban has lots of stuffed animals from mine and Peter’s childhoods (and gifts) in the closet, but this bear gets a special spot because it reminds me of the night he was born.

SHOWER “GUESTBOOK”

Next to the bear sits a framed photo of Corban as a newborn surrounded by a matte signed by all the ladies at the baby shower my sister threw for me. It’s so fun to remember the anticipation we all felt that day (and the entire pregnancy) and look back on everyone’s joy and excitement. Someday maybe it will be fun for Corban to see how excited my friends and family were for his arrival (but I’m not counting on it, haha).

HOOK SOUVENIR

Our trip to Tucson last August was the last big vacation Peter and I took together before becoming parents (if you consider him tagging along with me to a journalism conference a vacation). We stayed a couple extra days to celebrate our anniversary at the resort where the conference was held and I also considered it our “babymoon.” One day we went into town to do some shopping and came upon an adorable store full of handmade and vintage items, including quite a few baby things. I wanted to get something for our baby, so I picked out this hook for the nursery. It aptly fits the decor and is useful for hanging towels to dry, but most of all I love the memory it holds.

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His tiny foot at one week old. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Oh, and remember how special that photo is?

STUFFED LAMB

The only stuffed animal aside from the bear that gets to live out in the open at this point is a stuffed lamb that Peter’s mom gave us when Corban was born. It has lavender in it, which is supposed to be calming. When Corban was only a few weeks old I started setting the lamb in my lap while I would read to him and get him calmed down for bed, and now the lamb sits in our nursing chair at all times.

ELEPHANT FIGURINE

My mom gave me this little doo-dad a few years ago, and it’s been in the nursery since back when it was a guest bedroom. I love elephants. They’re my “thing.” And this little figurine I’ve loved from the start fits the nursery decor perfectly.

It’s such a comfort having little sentimental items like this around us in the nursery. If you’re a parent, what kinds of personal touches did you add to your child’s nursery?

To Bumbo or not?

Every few weeks or so, I’ll look through the closet in the nursery and evaluate whether there are any new items ready to come out and spring into action – clothes that he’s possibly grown into, toys that seem like they might be appropriate, etc.

Recently, I realized Corban is almost ready for the Bumbo seat. Yay! I’ve heard such great things about this little contoured foam piece that helps babies as young as three months old to sit up on their own. Since then, I’ve placed him in it a handful of times while reading  him a book or just talking to him on the floor. He still is a bit too unstable for it and isn’t really comfortable in it for more than a minute or so at this point, but I’m terrified of missing the window of opportunity on items like this that he will probably quickly outgrow, so I’ve been trying it once a week or so just to see how it goes.

Then this past weekend, my mom sent me an article from the Chicago Tribune about Bumbo seats. “‘Grave concerns’ about popular Bumbo baby seat.” Uh-oh. I had heard stories about babies who were too old for it flipping out and falling from countertops, and didn’t plan on setting it anywhere but on the floor in front of me, so the article didn’t scare me too much. It did make me think about clearing any potentially dangerous objects from the area so Corban doesn’t fall on top of something, but it was the sidebar story that truly made me concerned (btw, why, Trib online producers, was the sidebar not linked from the main story? (Sorry, you can tell I’m starting to miss work.)).

In that story, a physical therapist basically debunks all the Bumbo’s claims that it aids in physical development.

…the position actually teaches babies incorrect postural alignment, with a rounded back and the head leaning forward, said Mary Weck, clinical coordinator of physical therapy at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

While accidents like falling off countertops are scary, interfering with a child’s physical development when you think you’re actually helping it is even scarier to me.

Now, even after reading the article, I do not believe the occasional use of the Bumbo will significantly hurt anything. But it’s good to be aware of these things and remember that almost everything in life is best in moderation (love, prayer and hugs are the only things that come to mind that aren’t – and the latter is probably debatable). It’s also a good lesson in not believing every product claim on the package.

I still plan on using our bright green Bumbo (how great is the name Bumbo, by the way?) but will definitely be extra-cautious when Corban’s in it, not push him to use it until he’s strong enough for it and continue to do tummy time and help him practice sitting up without the Bumbo’s help. What do you think – to Bumbo or not?

Flying with a 2-and-a-half-month-old

Hi from Florida!

They say it’s easiest to travel with kids when they’re really little, before they start needing to be entertained and are content to just sleep in mama’s arms. Makes sense, right?

Thinking we should take advantage of Corban’s itty bitty-ness and my maternity leave, we decided about a month ago to plan a visit to my grandparents here on Marco Island, who had yet to meet their first great-grandchild.

I wasn’t nervous about flying with Corban — he’s easygoing and I have no problem nursing him on the plane — but flying with all the stuff we needed to bring for him freaked me out.

First and foremost was his car seat and car seat base – absolutely essential for obvious reasons. We didn’t buy a separate plane seat for him, so it would have to be either checked (for free on AirTran and presumably other airlines) or gate checked. I read about how car seats are only designed to take one big impact, and how a rough throw by an airline baggage handler could hurt the safety of the seat with no visible signs of mangling. This really made me nervous.

The other big item we had to bring was our stroller. My grandparents love to walk, so of course we wanted them to be able to take him along. If Corban were another couple months older, we would have just bought a cheap stroller here or rented one, but because his neck isn’t yet strong enough for him to sit up in a stroller, we needed to bring ours with the car seat attachment. Message board discussions of strollers being ripped, dirtied and broken in transit made me paranoid about this.

There was no way we were going to bring the Pack N Play, so the original plan was for C to sleep on a thin mattress on the floor, or in bed with us. My grandma was able to borrow a Pack N Play from her friend, so this ended up not being an issue.

In the end, I am happy to report that my travel fears were unwarranted and everything went smoothly. Here’s what we did (hopefully someone out there planning a trip with a baby will find this helpful!):

Peter dropped Corban and me off at the ticketing area and parked the car (this way we wouldn’t have to lug all our stuff on the shuttle and Corban wouldn’t have to ride without being properly strapped in). He sat in the car seat, attached to the stroller, and I packed the car seat base in our big suitcase.

I checked our bag and asked the woman at the counter for plastic bags to put our stroller and car seat in at the gate. She tried to convince me to check the car seat there but I told her Corban couldn’t ride in the stroller without it (even if that weren’t the case, I felt more comfortable gate checking it so it would have less chance of being damaged).

Peter met up with us and we wheeled up to the long security line with C still in the stroller. A TSA agent directed us into the VIP line – score! Everything had to go through the X-ray machine, including the stroller. Thankfully the City Mini is super easy to fold up. Peter carried Corban through the metal detector.

I fed C while we waited at the gate, then when it was time to board we moved him into the Baby Bjorn, bagged up the stroller (folded up) and car seat (with the carrying handle down to make it less bulky) and gate checked them.

Corban ate a little more at take off (I wanted him to be sucking to relieve ear pressure, but he ended up not being very hungry and still not having any issues). He promptly filled his diaper, so I changed one of the dirtiest diapers I’ve ever seen — in my lap! It wasn’t too difficult — I just laid the changing pad in my lap with him facing me. We put the dirty diaper in a ziplock bag to dispose of later.

When we landed, our things were at the gate, undamaged (though the stroller’s bag was ripped, so I’m glad we bagged it). After another diaper change in the bathroom, we retrieved our checked bag and met my grandparents in the pick up line. Piece of cake!

There was no lack of crying babies on our flight, but thankfully ours wasn’t one of them. Corban didn’t fuss for a second the whole trip, and he was even super smiley a lot of the time (who smiles for no reason while waiting in the TSA line??)

Let’s hope our trip home goes just as smoothly as the trip here, and in between we continue to relax and enjoy moments like this:

Corban was neither bothered nor excited by his first dip in a swimming pool. The water was really warm so it probably just seemed like a bath minus all the prodding!

The birth announcements

I’m a big snail mail person. I just love paper, letters, stamps and the printed word.

So even in this age when a baby’s birth is announced to the world via Facebook just hours – or even minutes – after he takes his first breath, I still wanted to mail out formal birth announcements.

Unlike choosing our wedding invitations, which took me hours of poring over every invitation in the gigantic bound books only to decide to design them myself, I instantly fell in love with this birth announcement from Tiny Prints before Corban was even born.

(I just noticed their sample’s birthday is today!)

But, I thought, why pay their prices when I could probably design something similar and have it printed myself?

And so I did. I Photoshopped up my own version, ordered pretty envelopes and did a test print at Kinkos on cardstock I had found at Walmart.

There were only a few problems: their printing of the photo didn’t look that great, the cardstock wasn’t very sturdy, I would have had to cut each announcement out myself and it actually wasn’t going to save me very much money at all.

Fail.

(Tiny Prints version on the left, my version on the right)

So after all that, when Corban was a month old, I just decided to order the announcement from Tiny Prints. I found a coupon code that brought the price down, and I swooned for their awesome striped back on which you can add a second photo.

Of course, not one to keep things simple, I also had to go and buy some kraft paper labels to print the addresses on and therefore spend way too much time fighting with our printer to get them to print right… but I won’t bore you with the details of that.

So despite my early choosing of our birth announcement, they still didn’t get mailed out till Corban was six weeks old. Luckily, it was right before postage went up by one cent (the little things, right?) and I think people understand that things like formal announcements aren’t exactly the number one priority when you’re adjusting to life with a newborn.

In the end, I don’t care that it took me way longer than it should have to get these mailed. I love the way the whole package turned out. I would definitely recommend Tiny Prints for their really high quality printing and adorable designs. I was glad I had already ordered colored envelopes before I decided not to DIY the announcements, though, because these envelopes are much nicer than the ones that come with the cards. This picture shows a bit more accurate coloring:

Would you/did you send formal birth announcements or do you think Facebook pictures do the job just fine these days? I think despite Facebook, people really appreciate being mailed a picture like this!