Welcome to my very first “Things I Love” post! These are where I’ll share various products, foods, etc I’m loving lately. These items might be baby-related, food-related, pregnancy-related, beauty-related, who knows. Although I’ve linked to the item and I do benefit if you click and purchase it, all of these items are truly things that I use, love, and recommend. I plan to do these posts often, so let me know if you use and love something that I should try.
Earth Mama Organic Diaper Balm. Get it. Love it. Not only does this diaper balm smell wonderful with hints of lavender and melaleuca, it’s made with organic ingredients including calendula, and it’s cloth diaper friendly- hooray! I have absolutely no qualms about rubbing this on Laurel’s delicate skin. I love this product and I love this company. They truly care about the health and safety of moms and babies.
Reserveage Grass-Fed Whey Protein Powder, Unflavored. As a dietitian, I’m often asked what protein powder I use, seeing as it’s one of the most commonly consumed supplements out there. Because there are so many on the market, fear, confusion, and suspicion surround this supplement. I advise people to make sure you find one without a bunch of added “junk,” such as sugar, caffeine, and/or artificial sweeteners. I love this specific protein powder because it’s 1. grass-fed and 2. tasteless (or at least damn close). This is one of the few protein powders I’ve tried that didn’t actually taste like protein powder. The beauty of this unflavored option is that you can add it to anything for a quick protein boost.
Rainbow Light Prenatal Vitamin. This is the prenatal vitamin I took before, during, and after (still currently taking) my pregnancy. This prenatal vitamin stands out from many other “natural” options I looked at for a few reasons. First, I loved that it was only one pill daily. I will admit that the pill is fairly large, but that wasn’t an issue for me. Secondly, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that pregnant women get 27 mg of iron daily and this vitamin provides that (while many other natural options are lacking). Finally, this prenatal vitamin is vegetarian, gluten-free, and contains no artificial preservatives, colors, or sweeteners.
Beauty by Earth Sunless Self Tanner. My search for a natural sunless tanner started recently when Ryan, Laurel, and I were heading to Florida for vacation. I was still breastfeeding at the time and, since I had sworn off tanning beds a long time ago, I wanted to find a self tanner. My skin is naturally fair and I knew I was going to be in a bathing suit quite a bit (with loads of sunscreen on) so needless to say, I needed a tan beforehand! I found this, made with organic ingredients including shea butter and witch hazel, and I haven’t looked back. I’ve used it a few times now and it continues to impress me. I feel confident using it knowing the ingredients are safer than your average tanning lotion but, the best part is that it actually works!
Thermos Foogo Insulated Stainless Steel 10-oz Straw Bottle. I offered Laurel her first straw cup with water at 6 months old and she was able to use it within minutes. I tell people to just offer a straw to your child and you might be surprised at how quickly they teach themselves how to use it. Remember that babies under one year should only drink breastmilk, formula, or water. This is now the cup that I keep in my stroller, as it’s leak-proof and insulated, it’s stainless steel since I try to avoid plastic when I can, it’s dishwasher safe, and they offer different spouts so the cup can “grow” with your child. Winner!
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Motherhood means different things to different women. For some, its chaotic and spontaneous and others it’s scheduled and predictable. We can all agree that motherhood is the most incredible, emotional, exhausting, and rewarding journey we’ve all been on. You can literally experience seven different emotions in the span of two minutes when your child gouges your eyeball then throws up on their freshly changed outfit only to stumble toward you arms stretched, lay their head on your shoulder, and say “mama” like they actually know who you are. Ahh yes, motherhood is beautiful.
Taking the plunge into motherhood means that you adopt a plethora of mandatory chores, to include keeping your child fed, entertained, well-rested, and the list goes on. You’ll get advice from experts and non-experts alike on the “right way” to raise your child. You’ll stress over the little things and cry occasionally. I’ve learned to remind myself that everything is a phase so even the tough times I know won’t last long. Although I’m no child-rearing expert, I’ll go ahead and give you my two-cents on how I went about raising Laurel over the past 15 months. I’ll throw some nutrition information in here, seeing as how that’s my forte.
Before I get started I want to mention, there are many correct ways to raise a child. People have been debating this for years and will continue to for years to come. My point is that you have to do what feels right to you and your family. I’ll share some things that worked for me but they might not work for you. Why? Because every baby/family/mom/day is different… and that’s okay.
"cleaning and scrubbing can wait for tomorrow
for babies grow up we've learned to our sorrow
so quiet down cobwebs and dust go to sleep
because I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep"
What the Experts Say
Recommendations* for feeding infants 0-12 months old:
Recommendations* for feeding toddlers 12-23 months old:
Whole milk or milk products: 2 cups/day (or 16 ounces daily). This includes whole cows milk, lactose-free whole cows milk, full-fat yogurt, full-fat cheese, and other full-fat dairy.
If your child has a milk protein allergy or is being raised vegan, you can find suitable substitutes for dairy, with a focus to include foods with adequate fat, protein, Vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
*These recommendations may vary depending on source. Speak to your pediatrician or dietitian for specific individualized recommendations.
My plan was to start Laurel on a nap and solids schedule around 6 months old, at the advice of my older sister. We agreed that 6 months is a good time to start a schedule since food is introduced at this age, letting “meal times” aid the schedule in flowing smoothly. At this time, I was still breastfeeding Laurel on demand, about 5-8 times per day. Click here to read my article on feeding your infant, including when to start, as well as how to make your own baby food. Before 6 months, I didn’t necessarily feel a need to alter my day around Laurel’s feedings or naps. She was great about sleeping in the stroller or car seat while I was out running errands. I wasn’t shy about feeding her in my car in the Target parking lot either.
Early on (around 12 weeks), however, Ryan and I made it a point to start a “bedtime routine” which consisted of a bath, night light and noise machine on, breastfeed, and putting Laurel into her crib. Then, of course, obsessively watch her on the monitor, am I right? We tried to have her in her crib by 8pm (with many exceptions made), even if she was only sleeping for a short period of time in the beginning. The idea was to get her in the routine of winding down at bedtime. Laurel was pretty consistent about waking up in the morning around 8am. If she woke up earlier than that, I was able to feed her and lay her back down for more sleep, hooray!
Although I still breastfed Laurel on demand, throughout the day I would pay attention to her tired and hunger cues and make a mental note of the time. I then started to notice patterns develop, like around 11am she would start yawning, rubbing her eyes, and get a tad fussy if she wasn’t able to sleep peacefully. I decided to start a “nap time” around 11am. On a side note: the moms workout group that I’m involved in met until 11am, so I kept Laurel awake for our walk home to have her in bed by 11:30am. Call me selfish, but my workout time is not only good for my body but it’s good for my soul aka sanity as well. Once I had the first nap established at 11:30am, I added the next nap at around 4pm, when I noticed she was naturally getting tired again.
*I would breastfeed Laurel right before lunch and dinner as well, just to make sure breastmilk was remaining her main source of nutrition and food was remaining a compliment to it.
Why a Schedule?
I’m not an expert in this area, but Ryan and I feel strongly that infants, toddlers, and kids (and adults for that matter) benefit from routine and schedules. I’m sure there’s a ton of research out there supporting both sides, but I just feel that in the chaos of daily life, it could bring some security and predictability to a child, whether subconscious or not, in knowing they will have their most basic needs met. That being said, do I feel that every minute of a child’s life should be planned out? No. While still maintaining a degree of spontaneity, I do believe that kids flourish in a more structured environment. Furthermore, I have met people that are on no schedule whatsoever and their kids are intelligent, imaginative, and engaging – so I don’t think that schedules are for everyone. Do what works best for you and your family.
Weaning From Breastfeeding
Before she was born, I made the personal choice to breastfeed Laurel for at least 12 months. I was lucky enough to meet this goal, thanks to a combination of determination, optimal nutrition, a supportive husband, and a hungry baby.
As her first birthday was quickly approaching, I devised a plan to wean Laurel from breastfeeding, starting at 12 months. At this time, I was breastfeeding her four times per day, with the occasional middle-of-the-night feeding as needed. My plan was to eliminate one feeding per week until she was completely weaned. I started with her nap #2 feeding first, which coincidentally happened to be the time she was ready to eliminate this nap altogether. That was easy! For a week, we transitioned to one nap and three breastfeeding sessions per day. I ended up pushing her nap later, to around 1pm, since it was (and still is) her only nap of the day.
The weeks went on and I eliminated her other pre-nap breastfeeding session, then her bedtime session, then finally the morning session. I can say this now since I won’t jinx it but it was a smooth transition. My breasts never got engorged, my milk supply just slowly dwindled down over the weeks. I know I’m lucky. I had been researching ways to decrease milk supply and was ready to buy cabbage leaves if needed! In the weeks following her very last feeding when she was 13 months + 1 day old, she only cried and tried to pull at my shirt once or twice. Since then she’s seemed to have forgotten all about my boobs.
I must admit that the weaning process was bittersweet for me. I cried (a lot) the night I eliminated her bedtime feeding. Ryan gave her a bottle that night and I was just sad, but I could now enjoy a glass of wine with dinner without feeling guilty- bittersweet. She transitioned and tolerated cows milk from the beginning, which I was so thankful for. I think it helped that I introduced 1-2 ounces at a time over the first few days after she turned one. I must also admit that I made the mistake decision to give her cows milk in a bottle. I know typical recommendations are to drop the bottle at one year and switch to a sippy cup, but… well, I have no excuse. The bottle was more soothing to Laurel and I didn’t mind it. I actually went out and bought a bigger bottle because I only had 4 ounce bottles. So for now she drinks her whole cows milk out of a bottle, 8 ounces in the morning, 4 ounces before her nap, and 4 ounces before bed.
Our society has painted an unrealistic picture of how moms are supposed to look and act. We’re basically supposed to be perfect and that, in itself, gives us anxiety. As if we didn’t have enough to worry about, we feel all this outside pressure to do better. The reality is this: Love your family and care for them the best way you know how. You’re only human. Some days you might feel like supermom while others you can’t remember your child’s birthday at the pediatricians office. That’s okay. I believe that our duty as a mother is to set our children up to be healthy and productive adults. We guide them by teaching them values and behaviors that are going to benefit them as they grow older; compassion, determination, imagination, bravery, empathy. Our children are the future, our future. I want my child and future children to respect me and actually want to hang out with me when they’re older. How do we do that? Well I don’t have the exact answer to that, only time will tell, but I think it involves being genuine. Take a deep breath and just be. Be thankful. Be happy. Be you!
Do you have your child(ren) on a schedule? When did you start? Comment below!
Within this post are links to products I actually use and recommend. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Welcome to the second part of this blog post, where we talk all about the how of cloth diapering. Read about why you should considering cloth diapering in Cloth Diapers 101: Why. You’ve made the decision to cloth diaper, or maybe you’re still on the fence, but you don’t really know how to get started. Maybe the cost savings is intriguing to you but the idea of increased laundry has you feeling skeptical if cloth diapering is actually worth it. I’m here to tell you, it’s worth it. There are a few materials you’ll definitely need to begin your cloth diapering journey but others you can get by without. It all just depends on the level of ease you want when cloth diapering your baby.
Ryan jumped on the cloth diapering train pretty quickly after I brought the idea up to him. I think he was initially skeptical but then became curious because he didn’t personally know anyone that cloth diapered their child. After I explained the many benefits, he was sold. I think he takes pride in the fact that we cloth diaper, and I do as well. It feels good to do something good for the environment while also benefiting your baby and your wallet. Cloth diapering is a great conversation starter too. When people notice Laurel in a cloth diaper, one of the first questions I get is, “Do you like it?” People always seem surprised when I start raving about how great it is. I think there are a lot of misconceptions about cloth diapering that need to be dispelled. Below I’ve answered some of the questions I had before and throughout my cloth diapering journey. These answers come through experience and talking to friends. But first let’s cover materials..
Things you will need:
1. Cloth Diapers.
Surprise! but seriously you might be wondering about brands and types of diapers, as well as how many you’ll need. The number of diapers you have will determine how often you have to wash them. For example, a newborn goes through up to 12 diapers in a 24 hour period. You could buy 36+ diapers and wash every 2-3 days, or you could buy 12-18 diapers and wash daily, (remember that you need diapers even while some diapers are in the wash.) Basically you can’t go wrong with more diapers, however, budget might hinder you from buying a ton. You also want to remember that you want to wash the diapers at least every 3 days, or they might start to smell icky. Regarding the laundry, don’t be overwhelmed- you get into a routine with it and it’s easy. This is coming from a girl who despises doing laundry, but you know the worst part about laundry for me? The folding. With cloth diapers, there’s really no folding, just the washing (which the machine does for you.)
How many diapers do I need?
As I said earlier, the number of diapers you have will determine how often you wash them. Ryan and I started our stash with 16 diapers, which was a perfect amount for us. I’ve read about people getting by with 12, but I would find that hard to believe. Maybe I changed Laurel’s diaper more than necessary, I’m not sure. In the beginning, I would change her diaper before each feeding, which was about every 2 hours. This was beneficial for me in the middle of the night because it helped to wake her up a little bit so she would eat. I recently purchased two more diapers as I saw them on sale, because why not? So bottom line is I recommend starting your diaper stash with at least 16.
Which brand should I purchase?
This is completely personal preference and could be based on many things – from the style, to the reviews, to the cost. The diapers we use are BumGenius Elemental all-in-one diapers. Maybe it was the name that got me! The BumGenius Elemental diapers are made from organic cotton, so they are a bit more expensive than other diapers that are the same style, but different material. This is the only brand I have purchased and tried on Laurel. I have friends that bought a few diapers from different brands to determine which ones they liked best. There are also stores that will let you rent diapers to test before you buy. Laurel’s diapers accommodate a child up to 35+ pounds, which should take her through potty training. Her diapers use snaps that adjust the openings around her legs and waist as she grows (see pictures below).
Front of a Bumgenius Elemental diaper.
The settings we currently use for Laurel.
The all-in-one diaper with inside cloth attached.
What type of cloth diapers should I get?
This is an important decision to make before buying your diapers. There are several different types of cloth diapers, including all-in-ones, pocket style, and fitted diapers. Your choice here will depend on how much money you want to spend for convenience. If you basically want the cheapest cloth diapers you can find, look into prefold diapers. These are the least expensive option, but also the least convenient. Think about a cloth diaper as having two main parts, the cloth inside that touches baby’s skin and absorbs the liquid, and the waterproof outside or “shell” that keeps everything in. A brief description of the three main types I mentioned:
All-in-one diapers (pictured above):These diapers have everything attached, the inside soft material is sewn into the outer “shell” or waterproof part. These are generally the most convenient and therefore, the most expensive.
Pocket style diapers: These diapers have an opening or pocket between the waterproof shell and the soft part that touches babies skin that you add absorbent material, called inserts. Benefit: you can customize absorbency.
Fitted diapers:These diapers are two completely separate parts, the inside soft part and the waterproof shell. You first put the soft part onto the baby, as you would any other diaper, then put the shell on afterwards.
I mentioned that I use all-in-one diapers on Laurel. Because the idea of using cloth diapers was a little intimidating to me before we started, I figured that the easier they were for me to use, the happier and less stressed I would be. I definitely stand by our choice to use all-in-ones and I would highly recommend them if your budget allows.
I started my stash with 12 wipes and quickly purchased another 12 to add to the rotation.I use these Grovia wipes and love them. They’re soft and they hold up well to frequent washing. I roll them and put them into a wipes warmer that I received second-hand. I’m able to fit 12 into the wipes warmer, which now lasts about 1-2 days. When I was registering for baby products, I read mixed reviews about wipes warmers and questioned whether I actually needed it or not. In my opinion, its invaluable! Being able to pull out a warm wipe for those middle-of-the-night diaper changes is so wonderful. I think that it has always helped to keep Laurel calm and comfortable during diaper changes. Watch below as I roll all 12 wipes in less than a minute!
3. Diaper pail.
I use this brand, in the “plus” style. It’s perfect. I wash diapers every 1-2 days and I find it to be the perfect size. The lid covers a little trap door that allows the diaper to slip in quickly, keeping smells contained inside. It also has a foot petal for hands-free opening, a must for any diaper pail.
4. Diaper pail liners.
I use these diaper pail liners. The same brand as my diaper pail, these reusable liners fit perfectly and are sturdy enough for daily washing. I’ve had the same two liners, washed almost daily for the past year, and they have held up nicely. I just empty the diapers from the liner, turn it inside out, and throw it in the wash with the diapers. I highly recommend having at least two diaper pail liners, so you can keep one in the pail while the other is in the wash.
5. Wet bag (to keep in your diaper bag).
A wet bag is the same idea as keeping a large plastic ziplock bag in your diaper bag, but this is washable and reusable. You’ll need a wet bag to contain your dirty diapers when you’re not at home. After you change your baby, you’ll place the dirty diaper and dirty wipes into the wet bag. The wet bag will contain any liquid and smell until you get home to wash them. I use the bumGenius outing wet bag. It holds 3-5 diapers easily, however, I’ve only ever had 2-3 in it at one time. I throw this in the wash with the diapers as well, inside out.
6. Laundry Detergent.
You’ll want to use a laundry detergent without perfumes, dyes, optical brighteners, and fabric softeners. These can leave residues on your diapers and not only irritate your baby’s skin, but decrease the absorbency of your diapers. I use this Charlies Soap brand. I started with their powdered form when we lived in Colorado since I added it directly to the wash, but now I use liquid form since my current washing machine has a separate compartment for detergent. I’ve tested several “natural” laundry detergents and found this one to be the most efficient.
7. Wipe “solution” (optional).
This is basically your way of dampening your wipes before you clean your baby. Discovering the perfect wipes solution for Laurel took some trial and error on my part. The reason I label wipes solution as optional is because one option is to use plain water on the wipes to clean your baby. I tried this and found that Laurel didn’t get as clean as I would like, as her skin down there started to smell like pee, all the time. I also purchased pre-made little essential oil cubes that I added to water, then poured into my wipes warmer onto my wipes. I noticed that these cubes caused Laurel to form a little rash. I then switched to Dr. Bonner orange-scented castile soap and this too gave Laurel a rash. I discovered that she is sensitive to the essential oils, even when diluted. I now use Dr. Bonner’s unscented baby soap and her skin is a smooth as a baby’s butt… okay you get the picture. I load my 12 wipes into my wipes warmer, fill a pitcher with 2 cups water and a squirt of the soap, then pour the liquid onto the wipes and close the lid. Another option is to keep the liquid in a spray bottle and dampen the wipes as needed.
Water with Dr. Bonner’s unscented castile soap for wipes solution works wonder
8. Diaper Sprayer (optional).
Because Laurel was exclusively breastfed her first 6 months of life, I was able to leave her poop inside the diaper and put it directly into the washing machine. That’s right, breast-fed poop is water soluble! You don’t have to worry about it clogging your machine or leaving your diapers “dirty,” the mess completely dissolves during the washing cycle. When I added food into her diet at 6 months, I purchased this diaper sprayer which attaches to the toilet, to spray the poop from her diapers, before adding to the washing machine. Once you add food into your child’s diet, you must then discard the poop before washing your diapers, as this poop can mess up your machine. I’m torn on whether I feel like the sprayer is absolutely necessary. I say this because I really only used the sprayer a handful of times. From about 6-9 months, it did come in handy for those soft and messy poops. Now at 11 months, Laurel’s poops are more “solid” and typically just fall off the diaper into the toilet, or I use toilet paper to gently scoop it off, TMI I know. Another option during these short months after adding food is to use flushable diaper liners. Picture something that looks like a dryer sheet, that you lay in the diaper. When your child poops, you easily peel the liner off the diaper and flush it along with the poop! I’ve personally never used them but they could be very useful.
Frequently Asked Questions:
When can I start my baby in cloth diapers?
Depending on the brand, one size cloth diapers usually run from 8-35+ pounds. Some brands also sell “newborn” diapers that are for babies under 12 pounds. Since Laurel was already over 10 pounds when she was born, I didn’t have to think about her weight as a factor for when we started. I basically transitioned her from disposables when we ran out of the pack that we received in the hospital. It was perfect timing, as she was done with her meconium poops, which I’ve heard can stain your diapers.
How do I wash the diapers?
Each brand has specific washing instructions that you can likely find on their website or on the tag when you buy your diapers. You’ll want to make sure you follow washing instructions precisely, as straying from this can void your warranty, (if your diapers come with one).
If your baby is breastfed, you do not have to clean the poop off the diapers before washing. Breastfed poop is water soluble! After food is added to their diet, you’ll want to remove the poop from the diaper before washing (see Diaper Sprayer under “things you will need”). If your baby is formula fed, simply remove the thick or solid poops from the diaper before washing. Liquid or runny poops can go into the washing machine.
How you wash can also depend on your washing machine. When I first started using the cloth diapers, we lived in Colorado and had a standard washing machine. I would wash the diapers twice, first on warm with a scoop of powdered detergent then on hot with 2 scoops of detergent and an extra rinse. I would then drape the diapers over a laundry basket and lay them in the sun to dry. Since we’ve moved, we now have a high efficiency washing machine that I can program to automatically do a pre-wash, hot wash, and extra rinse. I fill a detergent cup with liquid detergent and add about 1/3 of it into the pre-wash section, then the other 2/3 of it into the main wash section. I then transfer the diapers into the dryer and dry on low for about 90 minutes. The main idea when washing is to do a pre-wash or first wash to get all the junk off the diapers, then a main wash to actually clean them. An extra rinse ensures junk and detergents are washed away.
Once a month, you may need to “strip” your diapers, which is basically just an intense wash to remove any residues that may build up over time. You know your diapers need to be stripped if you start to smell an ammonia smell when changing your baby. If this happens, I wash my diapers using 1/4 cup bleach in the pre-wash, detergent in a hot wash, then an extra rinse. I actually called customer support when this happened and they gave me these specific instructions for my diaper brand. Be sure to contact your diaper company for specific instructions on how to strip your diapers.
What if my baby gets a diaper rash?
Although not common with cloth diapers, diaper rash can occur for various reasons. I noticed that occasionally Laurel’s skin between her thigh rolls would sometimes look pink. Moisture can hide between baby rolls and cause irritation. Because you shouldn’t use regular diaper rash cream with cloth diapers, you’ll want to be sure to find a “cloth-diaper friendly” alternative, which will help to create a barrier between your baby’s skin and moisture. I use this Earth Mama Organics brand. It smells great and is made with organic ingredients so I feel comfortable putting it on my baby’s delicate skin.
How do I remove stains from my diapers?
The best way to remove stains from your diapers is to lay them in the sun! In direct sunlight, your stains should be very faded or completely gone in about 10-15 minutes. In dry climates, feel free to completely dry your diapers in the sun, which also doubles as a natural bleacher. When we lived in Colorado and I would dry my diapers outside in the sun, they were usually a little “crispy” when dry. I would just throw them in a low drying cycle for about 30 minutes to soften them up.
Can I cloth diaper when I’m traveling?
Absolutely! The main thing you’ll have to think about when traveling is your access to a washing machine. Depending on where you stay, most hotels have a shared laundry facility you can use to wash your diapers. Always call to check on the availability of this. When staying with friends or family, it depends on your level of comfort on whether you would wash your diapers at their house. Remember that you’ll need to bring detergent and enough diapers to last through the traveling phase of your trip, that is, until you arrive at your destination. We usually use disposable diapers for Laurel when we travel and I regret it every time. I’ve found that disposable diapers really aren’t easier and Laurel always has at least one major blowout when we travel. When we went to Florida for Laurel’s baptism, although we used disposables for the trip, I made sure to bring a cloth diaper for her to wear while she had her baptism dress on. I wasn’t taking any chances!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a million times, I absolutely love cloth diapering. Regardless of the many reasons to cloth diaper, I think it instills a personal satisfaction that no one can take from you. I hope my daughter grows up loving her environment and strives toward a lifestyle of reducing waste. I hope she respects her body and chooses the foods she eats and products she uses wisely. I hope she is economical and plans for her future, while still enjoying the present. As parents, our actions speak louder than words. Our children are watching and absorbing every single thing we do. We have a huge responsibility to raise them, teach them, and guide them toward becoming the type of adult that makes the world better.
If you cloth diaper, what has your experience been like? Are you thinking about it but still have questions? Let me know in the comments!
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.