Cloth Diapering Update: Yes, We’re Still Going! But I’ve Learned Some Stuff…

Last year, about this time… my husband and I made the decision to cloth diaper our first baby.

The decision was primarily a financial one and since the math showed we could save thousands of dollars by foregoing disposables, it wasn’t hard to commit.

I spent hours browsing the web to figure out what kind of cloth diapers would fit our lifestyle best, stocked up on the necessary goods and waited for baby to arrive.

Ten months after her birth, I’m happy to report we are STILL cloth diapering!

This .gif feels appropriate here.

This .gif feels appropriate here. (Image Credit: MyLittleBrony.com)

I’m gonna take just a second to gloat here for a bit… since several of my co-workers lovingly but insistently told me I’d never keep it going past a few weeks (or months at the most). The fact that we’re still going strong despite our little one gobbling up solids (and expelling them) is so exciting and sometimes, let’s face it, it’s nice to be able to say “I told you so!”

That said, I’ve definitely learned a few things that I’d like to share with all the other moms and dads who might be thinking about cloth. Here we go…

1. Be prepared for double (or even triple) washings

Samsung 3.6 cu. ft. High-Efficiency Front Load Washer in White, ENERGY STAR (Image Credit: HomeDepot.com)

Samsung 3.6 cu. ft. High-Efficiency Front Load Washer in White, ENERGY STAR (Image Credit: HomeDepot.com)

If you have a high-efficiency (front loader) washing machine, expect to do some extra washings of your diapers. If your baby has extra sensitive skin (as ours does) you’ll need to rinse each batch thoroughly to get out all the detergent residue. I’ve tried some of the “specialty” cloth diaper detergents like Rockin’ Green and “stripped” the diapers of build-up at least 2 times. Those moves helped… somewhat… The bottom line though? If you’re using cloth diapers (at least the kind we’re using) they will require some extra TLC beyond the “just toss them in the washing machine with a good detergent and you’ll be fine” fallacy you might hear or read online. Even with all that extra effort…

2. The diapers will probably stain

We're using Charlie Banana one-size diapers like those seen here. (Image Credit: Diapers.com)

We’re using Charlie Banana one-size diapers like those seen here. (Image Credit: Diapers.com)

Especially since baby started solids, we’ve had some discoloration and staining on all of our diapers. We’re using both Charlie Banana one-size pockets with inserts and Bum Genius one-size.

Fortunately, I found a great tip on the web… sun bleaching! I’ve found laying the diapers and the inserts out in the sun for several hours – or all day if possible – whitens them right up. I guess grandma really did know best! :o) Get me a clothes line, stat!

3. Invest in a diaper sprayer

Like this one. Or this one. At first I thought this was a luxury but once baby started solids… well… it’s a MUST have. Ours was easy to hook up to the toilet and instead of all the poopy going in the washing machine… it goes in the toilet (where it belongs.)

4. Cloth on-the-go is hard to pull off

We’ve pretty much abandoned cloth diapering whenever we go out of the house for an extended period of time. Despite buying a portable wet bag and sporting a can-do attitude, one incident involving a baby crying and screaming on the Target changing table while I desperately tried to adjust the “snappies” on her diaper was enough to put me off the whole thing.

5. Puffy diapers make for nice padding on baby’s bottom when they plop down

It’s worth noting that with baby girl getting more mobile and pulling herself up a lot, it’s nice to have an extra cushion when she plops back down again. She seems to enjoy it anyway. :o)

Are you a cloth diapering parent? What did you learn in the early months? Any recommendations for others? Share your comments here!

Ciao,

Michelle

No, I’m Not Making Baby Food. Yes, I’m OK With That.

If you’ve been following along with my baby journey, you probably know by now I’m a researchaholic. Comes with being a journalist I guess.

Baby food has been no exception. When it was time for Jane to start solids, I scoured the Internet, consulted my go-to baby manual Baby 411 and reviewed all the information from our pediatrician.

Most of the advice was pretty straight forward: Start with rice cereal. Move onto purees. Slowly introduce one item at a time (fruits, veggies, proteins.) Add textures and variety as baby grows. Seemed easy enough.

I’m kind of a “natural minded” momma (yes, we’re still cloth diapering) so I decided we’d go for organic baby foods only. When I found a good sale on Earth’s Best at Publix, I stocked up on the little jars. Then I found a good sale on Plum Organics brand at Target and stocked up. Then… I went sort of crazy trying to find sales on as many varieties as possible. It became an obsession. lol. The end result is a cupboard that is literally overflowing. Like, can’t shut the door overflowing. If it’s an organic baby food pouch, we have it. (Has this happened to anyone else?)

Just one of many different varieties of Plum Stage 2 baby food pouches. (Image Credit: Drugstore.com)

Just one of many different varieties of Plum Stage 2 baby food pouches. (Image Credit: Drugstore.com)

Then it happened. I talked to a close girlfriend with a baby only a few months older than mine. She mentioned how she was making all of her own baby food: how she just loves picking out each new item to whip up into a puree for baby.

A Baby Breeza baby food maker. (Image Credit: BabyBreeza.com)

A Baby Breeza baby food maker. (Image Credit: BabyBreeza.com)her Baby Breeza, just loves picking out each new produce item for baby to try.

I felt sort of… guilty. I never really even entertained the idea of making my own baby food… at all. Suddenly though, after talking to my pal, it felt like I should be doing it too. Plus, making my own baby food seemed like the sort of thing all “natural minded” mommas do.

I went online. A quick Google ninja search turned up all kinds of stories on why you should make your own baby food, how it’s cheaper, more nutritious for baby, and generally a sign of better parenting.

Ugh.

I started researching baby food makers on Amazon. After days of mulling the options, I finally logged online one afternoon to buy one. It never happened.

I just don’t have time or the will to make baby food. I barely have enough time to make and freeze healthy meals for the week for myself. I’m supposed to spend hours chopping and pureeing and mashing? I’d much rather be playing with baby. Jane really seems to like the store bought varieties too. So, why change up a good thing?

Maybe it’s self-justification but I came up with a list counterpoints, a list of all the reasons to choose store bought over homemade. Maybe it will make other store-bought mommas feel better. Here it is:

1. It’s convenient. I can buy all kinds of varieties and expose baby to various tastes and textures without having to search for all manner of obscure fruits and veggies in the store. It’s not always so easy to find peaches or mangos in the dead of winter, amiright? And seriously, pureeing a turkey?

2. It’s not necessarily more expensive. If I have to spend $100 + on a fancy baby food maker or food processor, suddenly the extra expense of buying pouches and jars doesn’t seem so bad.

3. USDA Certified Organic. If you’re buying food with this seal, you know it’s been held to a certain inspection standard and will likely have less pesticide/chemical residue than conventional baby foods, or items you get in the produce aisle.

4. Less waste. The pouches and jars can generally last for one or two days in the fridge after being opened. On the other hand, if you’re making and freezing your own baby food, you might have a harder time gauging how much to thaw at a time. I’ve since surveyed some close friends with babies doing this and they’ve admitted yes, a lot can go to waste if baby has an off eating day.

So, that’s it. One caveat though. I do think it’s really important for all parents to read the labels of what they buy carefully to make sure they’re feeding what they think is best to their baby. Sometimes labeling can be pretty misleading.

Earth's Best Chicken & Brown Rice (Image Credit: EarthsBest.com)

Earth’s Best Chicken & Brown Rice (Image Credit: EarthsBest.com)

A jar of Earth’s Best Chicken & Brown Rice Dinner for example, actually contains the following: Water, Organic Butternut Squash, Organic Ground Chicken, Organic Corn, Organic Whole Grain Brown Rice.

I’ve also noticed many of the fruit and veggie combo jar/pouches have fruit listed first in the ingredients. I’m sure this isn’t an accident. Fruits are going to have higher sugar concentrations naturally, so if there’s more of them instead of veggies, baby will probably gobble it up. What baby likes, momma buys.

So how do you feel about the baby food debate? Did you make your own baby food? Go with store bought? Why or why not? Share your experiences here!

How To Save Money On Disposable Diapers

Diapers are expensive. Super expensive. On the order of a new car downpayment expensive.

Most estimates I’ve seen online put the total cost between $1,500 – $3,000 for a single child in disposables, on an average potty training timeline. That’s one reason I opted to use “pocket” cloth diapers for our new little baby.

Unfortunately, for reasons outlined here, cloth diapers are not an option for everyone – especially families who are struggling with poverty. That’s one reason we’re partnering up for a month-long effort with RocketCityMom.com this September called “The Great Diaper Drive.”

Join our effort September 1st - 30th!

Join our effort September 1st – 30th!

We’re collecting disposable diapers for local babies in need, to be distributed through a local non-profit called Manna House. Details on how to donate here.

As our effort ramps up, I thought it’d be a nice idea to dig up tips for all mommas and dads on how to buy disposables more cheaply. It can be done.

Basic Tips

1. Buy in bulk (look for cheaper cost-per-unit or cost-per-diaper)

Make like you’re headed to Costco. In fact, Costco (or any other warehouse shopping outlet) is a great place to buy “bulk” diapers. They’re often (although not always) much cheaper when purchased in packs of 100 + than when bought in smaller sizes. Economies of scale.

2. Buy store brands

Store brands are often way cheaper than Huggies & Pampers. Just the other day I picked up a package of Size 3 for Jane (which we use on the occasions when she has developed diaper rash) and saved at least $3.00 over the premium brand they had on the shelf.

Huggies Little Snugglers Diapers, Size Newborn, 76ct @ $20.23 on Diapers.com

Huggies Little Snugglers Diapers, Size Newborn, 76ct going for $20.23 on Diapers.com

3. Stock up during sales

I just did this with baby food – stocking an entire pantry shelf with Stage 2 jars & pouches. Jane is not anywhere close to eating Stage 2 (6 months +) but she will be eventually and certainly within the expiration date. My husband laughed out loud looking at our overstuffed pantry but the principle applies to diapers too. Buy whatever size IS on sale WHEN it’s on sale.

Advanced Strategies

1. Combine coupons

Make like TLC’s extreme couponing masters and keep an folder of clipped coupons (or printed ones from the web) that you can combine for maximum savings. The Coupon Centsation has for example an excellent blog post showing how you can MAKE money off a Huggies Diaper purchase starting this Sunday, September 8th! Yes, this strategy requires some work but if you’re a detail person…

2. Sign up for online promotions and fliers

Diaper companies are all over social media now, just like we all are. Take a minute to like your favorite brands or sign up for rewards programs. Send letters or emails to diaper companies to share your experiences. You may just get some rewards in return.

up&up™ Baby Diapers - Bulk Pack (Size 3) featured @ Target.com for $24.99 - $26.00

up&up™ Baby Diapers – Bulk Pack (Size 3) featured @ Target.com for $24.99 – $26.00

Pampers and Huggies also offer loyalty rewards programs. Diaper packages will feature codes to enter online after registering for an account and adding codes found on other products like baby wipes can add to your rewards!

3. Shop online

Diapers.com and Amazon.com. Can’t lose with best price comparison.

Expecting? Check Out The WebMD Pregnancy App

There are hundreds of pregnancy apps out there. Having just had a baby, WHNT News 19 morning anchor and technology reporter Michelle Stark has tried many of them.

Monday on WHNT News 19 This Morning, Michelle featured WebMD Pregnancy as the daily “Click Pick.” It’s worth a look for any expecting momma.

WebMD Pregnancy is a free app for iPhone and a companion to the website WebMD. When you log-in, you’ll need to enter your due date. In return, you’ll get information tailored to your pregnancy’s progression.

You’ll also get weekly updates on your baby’s growth and can take advantage of a journaling tool to chronicle your experiences.

There are also doctor reviewed articles, video and slideshows, plus a checklist of questions to ask your doctor – helpful when your “pregnancy brain” makes you desperate to remember even the most basic things.

Last but not least, there’s a contraction timer for when the big moment arrives!

New Baby Lessons: The Three Month Old Edition

I’m learning a lot as a new mom. Oh yes, yes I am. Little nuggets of wisdom which I’ll pass along now for any other mommies-to-be out there. For the moms who already passed this stage, perhaps you can add to my list!

Baby Lessons (The Three Month Edition)

Lesson #1: Sometimes it’s OK to wallow in filth

Babies spit-up. Babies with acid reflux spit-up A LOT. Jane has acid reflux. Sooooo… Mommy and daddy are covered in spit-up… A LOT. At first I was changing my shirt with every slobber but I was doing laundry every. single. day. Multiple times a day. So I gave up. I’ve just decided it’s OK to be a little slovenly.

Lesson #2: Bottles in the dishwasher are a joke

Image Credit: MGN Online

Bottles by hand… Image Credit: MGN Online

Seriously. As a working mommy, pumping full-time for baby now, we go through a lot of bottles. At first, I thought I’d put the caps, nipples, rings and other accessories in those handy baby dishwasher baskets, alongside the bottles. Wrong. lol. It only took a wash or two to notice the bottles, especially the nipples, weren’t getting rinsed clean all the way. I’m not crazy about the idea of Jane drinking soapy residue… so I’ve been washing the bottles by hand ever since. Yes. ALL the bottles. Maybe we need to invest in a high-powered dishwasher?

Lesson #3: If you change baby’s diaper too fast after eating, she WILL poop

15 minute wait time. At least. Otherwise it’s a guarantee that as soon as I swap out a dirty cloth diaper for a fresh one, she’ll have a special delivery for mommy.

Lesson #4: What baby wants, baby gets

Paci Monitor...  Image Credit: MGN Online

Paci Monitor… Image Credit: MGN Online

Baby wants to be held and walked around the house? OK then. No sitting on the couch for me. Baby wants me to stand up next to the crib while she falls asleep… picking up her paci and giving it back to her as soon as it falls out over and over? OK then. Baby doesn’t want to fall asleep at all? OK then. Happy non-fussing baby is the top priority right? lol.

Lesson #5: Buy large sizes, only large ones

Little girl was a 9 lbr. when she arrived, so she kind of skipped over the “newborn” sizes. She’s since leveled out in her growth to a nice average but boy does she grow! A few weekends back we stocked up on 3 month-sized PJs and onesies. It wasn’t a week later and she was too long for nearly all of them! So yes, after our very expensive purchase… I’m now buying our little one sizes 6 months and up! They may be baggy but at least I won’t have to buy new ones in a week!

Moms, what are your lessons from the first three months of a baby’s life? Feel free to share them here! Or comment on what I’ve learned. :o) Happy parenting!

 

 

 

 

Back To Work With A Baby At Home

It’s 5:30 a.m. on a Wednesday morning and here I am back in the WHNT News 19 newsroom! Today is my second day back on my “normal shift” after maternity leave (although I don’t begin anchoring again until tomorrow.) I’m off to a great start… and by great start I mean… slept right through TWO alarms this morning. lol. Welcome to motherhood, right?

Something from home to remind mom of the little one...

Something from home to remind mom of the little one…

I knew the transition back would be hard but I must say it’s hitting harder than I expected in some ways. Physically I feel pretty good, even though I fit into only about 1/4 of my pre-pregnancy work wardrobe and had to drop some serious cash on “transitional” items that will be nice for on-air. On the other hand, I’m still exhausted from lack of sleep. Little Jane is sleeping pretty well through the night (despite her reflux issues) but I still have to get up every 3-4 hours to pump breastmilk for her.

The emotional transition back has probably been the hardest thing so far. I’m starting back at half-days for a week or two, just to help ease into the daily newsroom grind. That means I’ll only be anchoring the a.m. show for now and will pick back up with technology reporting later. Even with those reduced hours, I was surprised at how I felt on that first day… when I had to kiss her fat little cheek goodbye. It just felt… so sad.

It’s hard not to be a little envious of moms (or dads) who get to stay at home full-time with little ones. On the other hand, I really do love my job and I find some comfort in the fact that I’m leaving baby with my husband when I head in to work such strange hours… (Single mamas how do you do it? I have a whole new respect for you!)

A couple of pre-return preparations have made the logistics of my transition back run more smoothly. I thought I’d take a minute to list those out, just in case they can help other pregnant mommas (or dads.)

1. Getting Organized

Dealing with a new baby’s basic needs (eating, pooping and of course snuggling) takes up a lot of time. I thought it was important though to make time to “get organized” before my return to work. For my job, that meant cleaning out my entire closet – getting rid of anything that was dated or unflattering – and only keeping the “best of the best” items (even if it will take me a while to get back into them.) From there I made a list of “must have” items for on-air in larger sizes and asked my husband to watch the baby as I made a trip to the mall or two.

I also spent a lot of time catching up on the big local news stories I may have missed – I admit, news was the last thing on my mind those first few weeks after baby. Sleep was number one! Just that little bit of prep made me feel much more confident and less like a frazzled new momma.

2. Get A Routine Down

Hahahahahahaha. Yeah right! Ok, ok. I know that’s what you’re all thinking. If you’ve had a baby to care for you know “getting into a routine” is kind of impossible. All the books say so too. That might be true for baby but I found it less true for me. Three weeks ago, I started practicing a “bedtime routine” and trying to put her down for a nap at a similar time each day. It didn’t always work but it has helped my day feel more structured.

3. Start pumping early

If you plan to breastfeed, this is essential. Due to baby’s reflux issues… we had to bottle feed her pumped milk from early on. That meant buying a quality breast pump and learning to use it the day after we left the hospital. We bought one of the most expensive pumps out there – a Medela brand. I cringed at the $350.00 price tag but my girlfriends with babies had warned me that if I planned to work and continue giving Jane milk, I would need to have a good pump, or risk a big drop off in supply. Now, months after giving birth, I feel very comfortable using a pump and don’t feel overwhelmed at the idea of having to do it during the work day at all.

Ok, that’s it for now. I’ll check in soon with another post.

Mommas and dads, don’t forget to leave your return-to-work stories and tips in the comments section!

Thanks again to everyone who has been following along with my pregnancy and birth! Can’t wait to see you all Thursday on WHNT News 19 This Morning!

Your Baby & The Web: Where To Draw The Line?

We live in an increasingly digital world. Our children are no exception. In fact, in many homes, kids are exposed to the Internet and emerging technologies earlier than ever before.

I know of babies that can navigate a parent’s mobile device with ease. Moms and dads freely share photos of children online through social media. Our executive producer’s little two-year-old even figured out how to call him one morning! All by herself!

As WHNT News 19’s technology reporter and new mommy-to-be, I find myself thinking a lot about this. Where should parents draw the line when it comes to their babies and technology? And with the Web in particular?

Where To Draw The Line?

How Much Exposure Is Too Much?

I totally recommend using Google to look up prospective baby names. I mean, you don’t want to name your little one something and find out a porn star shares that namesake *after* the fact, right? I’m less sure about taking steps to protect your child’s “reputation” on the Web before they are born. Is it really necessary?

I’ve read many reports suggesting that you should reserve your child’s domain name (i.e. sallysmith.com) as soon as they are born. That way, if they ever want to start a business or use a website for self-promotion they won’t have to hope the domain is available. It’s a nice idea I guess but it typically costs money and you’ll be holding onto that domain for years.

Figuring out how a new baby and social media fit together is even more complicated. For example, I’ve heard of parents creating Facebook or Twitter accounts for a child (despite age restriction policies from those outlets) before they are even born! Sure, social networks can be great for sharing photos and updates but how safe is the information really?

Facebook has long struggled with privacy issues and if there’s one thing we know about the Internet, it’s that anything you put there – photos, videos, etc. – is more than likely out there forever.

Will your kids, once grown, regret having bathtime photos shared with others? If they already have a social media account set up by parents, will they be lured into using it perhaps earlier than they should?

There’s also a real security risk. Uploading a smartphone picture for example, of your child at a local park or a local street, could potentially make them a target for sophisticated predators.

Parents, how do you feel about exposing your baby on the web? Do you limit the way you share images or updates about them? Do you embrace baby’s presence online whole-heartedly?

Sound off here!