Category Archives: Diapering and Potty

Budget Friendly Green Tips for the Home

I love to research, I love to teach and since I write a blog, I obviously love to share.

Here are my top tips for being budget friendly and trying to be a little green. These are some of the things we actually do. Which means they are cheap, easy, and they work. Because we don’t have time for anything else.

1. Making our own deodorant.

Coconut oil + essential oils + cornstarch (arrowroot powder) and baking soda. I do leave out almost all of the baking soda because it really irritates my armpits. It doesn’t bother Damien at all. He loves tea tree and peppermint in his and I use only lavender since peppermint oil can reduce my milk supply. It is not an antiperspirant, but the deodorant works great. And Damien loves it. Which means it must really work.

2. ‘Make’ our own foaming hand soap.

We buy Dr. Bronner’s soap in the big bottles and mix it with equal parts water and a little bit of olive oil (to keep the pump working smoothly) and it works great. I’ve heard of adding tea tree, but that would take more effort on my part. We just reuse a foaming pump from one of the store green brands after we finished it.

3. Cloth diapering.

I know it’s not for everyone, and my intimidation factor with starting was super high, but after 2.5 years, it has been so worth it! We’ve spent well under $1000 to diaper two kids. And once you get started, it’s not nearly as big of a deal as you thought. Just a little time spent learning about it and how to properly do the laundry will save you thousands of dollars PER KID!

4. Cutting out processed foods, especially snack foods like granola bars.

I’ve always been under the impression that eating super healthy has to be more expensive. While it is definitely true that fruits and veggies are costly (especially if you buy organic), I have noticed a drop in our grocery budget when I stopped buying things like granola bars. They are often not very healthy at all and the cost adds up quickly. Same with junk food snacks like cookies, chips, and ice cream. They are often very expensive and it’s easy for me to overindulge. If I buy apples, they may cost a little more, but I’ll go through them more slowly.

5. Breastfeed.

Well, the obvious answer here is it’s free! And it’s the exact formula God made. You can’t really go wrong with that.

6. White Vinegar

This stuff is amazing! It’s the best toilet bowl cleaner I’ve ever used, it removes soap scum like nobody’s business and it removes hard water buildup on things like faucets. They should empty the cleaning aisles and just stock vinegar. Seriously. And to combat the lovely aroma, just save citrus peels in a mason jar, fill with vinegar, let it sit for a few weeks and voila! citrusy vinegar. It also works great as a laundry stain remover and just a general counter/table cleaner.

7. Make our own soda water (and not drink soda).

We finally(!!) made ourselves give up soda. It took a while, but we grew to like just plain soda (carbonated) water. Once we knew we liked it long term, we wanted to stop buying the bottles from the store since it can actually be more expensive than soda if you’re not careful! I researched the SodaStream and each liter would only cost $0.25. Since we were paying double that, and sometimes more, we grabbed a machine on Craigslist with two of the CO2 cartridges which saved us even more. We have been using it for a few months now and it’s awesome. It not only works great, but we get to use our better tasting filtered water and it is so convenient to never really run out. We can always just make more in a few seconds. If you like soda water or even want sodas without high fructose corn syrup, I would totally recommend the SodaStream.

I’m looking to add more things to my hippie green list, but we add things in slowly. We do use natural products in the shower, but have not gone the no-poo super cheap way yet. I plan on trying it out in the coming months. Right now we use shampoo and conditioner from the Honest Company thanks to special coupons and other discounts. Another thing I’m hoping to try is oil cleansing for our face and trying activated charcoal for teeth whitening. I would also love to try un-paper towels in the kitchen.

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No Dairy for Little One

So, I feel a little silly. How could I not have noticed?

This week we figured out that Little C has an issue with dairy. I don’t know if it’s an allergy or a sensitivity or what, but since we intentionally cut it out, he’s had the first ‘normal’ poop of his life. And he seems way happier. And I think he’s sleeping better. And all of that makes me feel at least a little terrible that we didn’t figure it out way sooner.

He has always been a weird eater. We delayed foods until almost 8 months (thanks to a cross country move) and so he never was a fan of purees. We gave him bits and pieces of anything we could think of and he’d take some, but most of the time he wouldn’t even put it in his mouth. For awhile he’d eat some baby food, but he demanded that he hold the spoon. Which we let him do, but it did not exactly lead to him consuming much. Through it all, the one food he managed to actually get in his mouth pretty well and he consistently liked from day to day was yogurt.

Since he is still primarily breastfed and barely eats much, I was never too concerned that his poop remained pretty runny. (Sorry, but what else are we parents supposed to talk about?) In the last few months I have been thinking more and more that he should be having more solid poop, but I was not concerned about it. Until this past two weeks.

While we were visiting family in AZ, Little One ate more yogurt than he previously had at any one time. And he had several servings a day. I figured – Hey! He’s eating – but man, was that a problem. His poop turned completely white and he went several times a day. I’m not a huge worrier, but when we googled it things like liver/bile duct blockage and Celiac’s disease and other fun things came up. I also saw that it could be from drinking too much milk. I figured he didn’t really drink milk. And then I remembered the yogurt.

Since then we have cut out all dairy for him and he is doing so much better! I can’t believe it took us this long to figure it out, but I’m also so thankful to know now. I think he was having belly/gas issues and that seems to be better. He’s going more regularly and it’s solid and I’m hoping he’ll sleep a little better. We had a great night, but then we’ve been traveling so only time will tell. And someday we’ll actually night wean him. And I’ll tell you all about it.


Let’s Talk About Poop

I figured I’d just be straight forward with the topic of this post. We chose to try out Elimination Communication (EC) with Big C and we have been doing it with the little one too. The big one became a graduate just after his second birthday and has not had a major accident in months. He even wakes himself at night if he needs to go.

Since Little C just turned one, I thought I would share how we have been EC’ing him and what some of our successes have been.

When he was a newborn, we were very laid back about EC. When we would change his diaper, we would hold him up in the ‘classic’ pee position – back against our chest, knees held up- and see if he needed to go over a cloth diaper. We caught some and I think this helped him know that we were at least trying to pay attention. We did not have the patience or energy or time to pay attention 100% of the time.

We planned on being more intentional around 6 months when we were going to start solid foods. That timeline worked really well with big brother, but not so well this time. Big C was pooping consistently on the potty well before his first birthday and even deliberately waited until we took him on the potty to go. Because of our big move, we delayed starting solids with Little C until we got settled. On top of that, our little one is fiercely independent (aka: won’t eat purees) so it’s been a less than steady transition to solids.

Even though we are hit or miss with catching number 2, we are doing awesome with pee. Big C never really cued when he had to pee. After several months I began to develop a weird 6th sense about when he would have to pee, but he never cried or made any other noticeable sign that he needed to go. It was incredibly frustrating, but some kids are just like that. Little C on the other hand cries when he has to go. Especially if he is wearing a diaper and even more so if the diaper is one that lets him feel that he is wet (no stay dry lining). He is often diaper free at home since we have hard wood and tile, and he is having fewer and fewer accidents. He just gets wrapped up in what he is doing and doesn’t realize he has to go. In just the last few weeks though, I’ve noticed that when he is wearing a diaper, he will cry and come over to me. Sometimes it takes me a few minutes to realize why he might be crying, but he will wait for me. He has even started being dry during outings and will cue (cry a little) when we are out and about. I have successfully taken him potty many times at restaurants and I carry a little potty in the back of the car. If I take him before I go in to a store, he will most often stay dry for the whole trip.

He also consistently stays dry during his afternoon naps. If I go right in when he wakes up, I can take him potty and his diaper will be dry. At night, I sometimes take him, but I am having a hard time deciding if taking him helps or hurts. I know that at least sometimes he is waking up because he has to pee, but I don’t know if taking him is waking him up more. And even when I do take him, he’s not totally dry. I think we will just keep trying sometimes, but not worrying about it too much.

I am excited that he is doing so well. He seems to already have a better sense of needing to go than Big C ever did. The big one knows when he has to go, but he has to wait until he actually has a tiny accident (a few drops) in his undies before he will tell us. I think because he never cued, I took him too often. He is getting better and within the month I think he’ll be good to go, but getting him to communicate his need has been really tough. The little one already tells us. And I can already trust him that if he squirms off the potty, he’s done or doesn’t need to go. Now we just need to get number 2 down and we’ll be good to go. I’m hoping we’ll be ready for trips out by 18 months. Our next biggest problem is finding undies small enough!

I may be a little crazy, but I know that being more aware of when they need to go potty has made them much happier kids. So often babies cry when they have to pee, but we as parents don’t realize that’s why they are crying. If you want more info about getting started, check out Diaper Free Baby.


Birthday Boys

This week Big C turned 2 and Little C is 6 months!!

I can’t believe we really have a two year old. The sandbags we had to put up around our house because of floods are still there. We put them up right before we found out we were pregnant.

I’ve been cloth diapering for two years, and nursing for two years, and I’ve successfully kept him alive for two years!

The transition to two kids has definitely not been all peaches and cream. The boys are great and we are so glad to have them close together, but life can get pretty crazy. They have an uncanny knack for needing things at the exact same time. Lately both of us have been getting frustrated pretty easily. The crazy emotions of a two year old and the constant needs of a 6 month old are wearing us out! We would love your prayers for patience and understanding, because we sure need it!


Elimination Communication a Year Later

Fair warning – I’m talking about pee and poop here.

It has been a year since we decided to try elimination communication with Big C. We started right at 6 months and it was great timing. As we started solid foods, it became more necessary for us to know when he had to go number two. We had started cloth diapering a few months earlier and both Damien and I were pretty nervous for the transition to solid foods. Starting EC at that time was a huge blessing. From 6 months on I think we easily caught (in a potty) 80% of his number 2’s. We never really had to stress about the cloth diapers because we so rarely had a mess to clean up. We also quickly noticed that not only were we way more aware of C’s patterns, but that he was actively holding it until we offered him the potty!

We started out pretty zealously and were catching a lot of pees too. For a few months we lost some of our rhythm and mainly focused on catching poop or obvious pees like right after getting out of the carseat. After his birthday we started being more successful. At 18 months he is now wearing underwear around the house except for naps and night time. In the 6 weeks he’s been in underwear, we have had less than 10 accidents and most of them were our fault for not taking him. He doesn’t actively tell us he has to go (although he has a few times and he’s getting better), but he goes willingly when we ask and he holds it until we take him. We take him roughly every hour and he does great. He tells us all done and more to communicate if he’s finished and he really enjoys wearing his ‘big boy undies.’

With Little C’s arrival I wanted to at least attempt to EC right away. I wasn’t sure how exactly that would work, but I knew I wanted to try and Damien was up for it too. It’s only been two weeks so we’re not doing anything crazy, but every time I change his diaper I give him a chance to go to the bathroom before I put the clean diaper back on. I just hold him over a prefold or flat cloth diaper – I don’t put him over a potty or anything. He goes pee almost every time even though his diaper is normally wet and today, he went poop for the first time (not in a diaper). Maybe I’m imagining it, but he seems to appreciate the times where he doesn’t have to go in the diaper. His whole little body relaxes when he is able to go. I’m not too worried about doing anything more official, but we definitely plan on continuing and I’m excited for him to never lose awareness of when he has to eliminate. It will be interesting to see how things progress since we started from day one.

The most surprising thing about EC is how much communication there really is. I can almost sense when Big C has to go to the bathroom and that’s because I’ve spent the last year really watching him. I’ve been learning his subtle cues like the look in his eyes, the pause when he’s playing, or the change in his demeanor. People ask how I know and it’s hard to describe. I just do even when I’m not sure what cue I actually picked up on. That’s how we have been so successful even though he doesn’t ‘tell’ us that he has to go.

With Little C, that communication has already started. When he fusses I know that it is often because he needs to go to the bathroom. Most of the time, I hear confirmation of that just a few seconds/minutes later. It’s amazing how often the fussing is because he needs to go to the bathroom. Picking up on this (even though I don’t necessarily do anything about it yet), has helped relieve a lot of the stress of calming a newborn. I know why he’s fussing, I try to put him in a position that will help, and then he soon calms down. No more mystery crying.

Even if you don’t do any more than just pay attention, elimination communication is a great way to get to know your kids. Being able to pick up on potty cues helps me be more in tune with them overall. I can definitely tell more about Big C’s moods and attitudes just because I’m used to paying such close attention and I know it helps relieve some of the typical toddler frustration because we are able to communicate that much better. EC doesn’t have to be more work. Just start paying attention and acknowledge when your kid is going to the bathroom no matter how old they are.

One of the coolest things is that Big C likes to watch us change Little C’s diaper. He makes the pee and poop cue sounds (‘pssss’ and a soft grunt) because he knows that his brother has to or is going to the bathroom. I think that is pretty awesome. He doesn’t have any idea that EC is out of the ordinary!

If you’re interested in my post from a year ago, you can find it here.


Little Brother is Here!

Little man #2 officially joined us early Saturday morning! It is unbelievable, but so exciting that we now have two little ones.

We got home from the hospital Sunday afternoon and we are all learning to be a family of 4 instead of a family of 3. While we were in the hospital my parents came up to take care of big brother. What a blessing, and what a great experience for all of them. He slept well and got to be doted on. Big C (I guess we’ll have Big C and Little C) got to meet his new brother in the hospital and he really likes him. He loves to touch his hat and his nose, and his ears. He is doing a great job being gentle and helping out.

Damien and I are figuring out how to do the whole newborn thing again. Just a few hours of sleep, tiny little diapers, and a big brother to take care of. Surprisingly, Little C didn’t wake up his brother during the night. I was expecting to have to deal with both of them during the night, but we didn’t. Hopefully, that continues! Thankfully, nursing this time around has been a piece of cake. Little C has a great latch and I am able to be really relaxed about it since I’m an old pro. I had been hoping that continuing to nurse Big C would make it easy and so far it has. The only issue that I can see is that my body is going to think it needs enough milk for an army! Big C has been making due with a tiny amount of milk for the last few weeks, but now he has an endless buffet, which will only make my body make more.

Big C has also been a little jealous anytime I feed his brother. He’s sure all the milk is his! He’s already doing better, but it’s a big adjustment for him. I’m hoping everything works out. I could always wean big brother, but I don’t want to if I don’t have to. If he wants to continue, I’d love for him to. Wish us luck over the next few days. It’s tough knowing the best way to handle it for all of us.

It’s only been a few days, but it’s fun. Our lives have totally changed again and I wouldn’t want it any other way.


Cloth Diapers a Year Later

I started cloth diapering a little over a year ago and I wanted to share my adventure.

On my trip to Haiti, I met an awesome friend from Georgia who not only cloth diapered her own kiddos, but also her foster kiddos. I probably looked at her like a space alien because I can’t say I had ever heard of anyone using cloth diapers. Damien and I were just thinking about getting pregnant so I had some time to ponder her outlandish suggestion, but just a few months later we actually were pregnant.

I’ve come to realize that my version of nesting is more like crazed Internet research. I have read articles on just about every baby related topic and come to realize that you really can read whatever you want in the internet. My friend mentioned how cheap cloth diapering was and so the research started!

At first, it all seemed way too overwhelming. They were cute, but how many types are there? How on earth was I going to figure out where to start? Thankfully, pregnancy is pretty long and the cheapskate in me really wanted to figure this out. Not to mention that I had pretty much been converted by all the cuteness I was seeing.

The greatest resource I found was Kelly’s Closet. They have some great getting started articles, they sell almost all of the well known brands, and their Facebook page is a goldmine of women ready to help you with absolutely anything you could ever need. The other great thing about them is that they always have a coupon of some sort. There are some straight dollar off ones, but hands down, the best value are the free diaper coupons. I have taken advantage of the those free diapers in order to earn about 30% off my total diaper cost!

Even after I committed by buying my first diapers, I was nervous. Would I really do this? Would it just be too gross or too much work, or too hard? Thankfully, Damien was a pretty easy sell. As long as it saved us money – on average cloth diapering can save you $1500-$3000 per kid depending on how long they are in diapers and whether you buy the fancy ones or not – he was up for it. We only bought a few covers and prefolds and 3 all in ones for the newborn stage. I didn’t want to spend too much money on something that may not fit for long or that I might give up on. Thankfully, our little boogie was pretty little so they fit for awhile.

We started cloth diapering at 1 month. I’ll admit, I was terrified. I’m not sure why, but it was so intimidating. After the first day, things were going pretty smoothly. We only had a few so I had to wash them every day, but it was just so easy. Even Damien wasn’t phased by them. We both were a little shocked by how we hadn’t really changed anything except we didn’t have to go spend money every few days.

As Boogie got older and bigger, we slowly invested in the one size diapers that would fit him for the rest of his diapering days. It was so fun adding bright colors and cool patterns. Now the issue was that I hated putting clothes on him because it would cover up his diaper!

As we neared 6 months we had another scare. Breastfed poop is water soluble. No rinsing off – just straight in the diaper pail and then in the laundry. It’s basically like water anyway. If you’re a parent, it’s not even gross. However; solid food poop is another story. It has to be disposed of in the toilet and the diaper rinsed off before you wash it. Damien and I were definitely worried this would be a deal breaker for us. I had intentionally been conservative about how many diapers we were buying so that we wouldn’t get ahead of ourselves. I figured that even if we quit on the day he turned 6 months we would break even. With that in mind we kept going.

The 6 month mark came and went. Sure, it’s not pleasant, but we have a diaper sprayer (basically a handheld bidet that attaches to your toilet) which is a cloth diapering necessity. I don’t know how parents go without one. You can, but dunking in the toilet water which will then be poopy is not an option for me! The sprayer makes it super easy, dump off what you can, rinse a little, and put it in the bucket. Some parents also have need for a diaper spatula which seems handy, but we don’t need one.

Since 6 months there has really been no change. I haven’t bought a diaper for little man since October of 2011. My total cost for all diapers is a little under $600 and I would say I’m a medium spender. I have some fancy diapers, some super basic ones, and a bunch in the middle. The best part of that $600 is that Boogie’s little brother will cost nothing! We don’t have to spend another dime and we have all the diapers we need. It’s possible we’ll add a few more (there are some cute ones calling my name), but we don’t need to.

The only other thing worth mentioning is washing. You have to make sure that your detergent doesn’t leave buildup that would cause them to stop absorbing. We have SUPER hard water so I use Rockin’ Green Hard Rock and I haven’t had any issues. Every once in awhile, they still get a little ammonia build up from being peed on, but an extra hot cycle with no soap after the normal wash works pretty well. The only thing I’ve had to change is I recently bought Calgon water softener. It’s just a laundry additive and I put it in with my soap or in the no soap hot wash. I’ve noticed that it really does help everything wash out better. If you don’t use a soap formulated for hard water or the Calgon, the soap spends all its time fighting the minerals in the water instead of cleaning your diapers. Figuring out what type of water you have is probably one of the most important things to do before you start.

I wanted a place that makes figuring out all the crazy types of cloth diapers a little easier, so I actually added a page for cloth that will always be accessible and won’t get lost in the stream of posts.

My hope is that everyone would consider cloth at least for the financial benefit. There are obviously tons of green reasons, but to me cost is always the strongest motivator.


Elimination Communication

I’ve had the opportunity to go to China twice and one thing always fascinated me. I can’t recall seeing even one diaper even though I saw tons of babies. I just could not fathom how all these moms and dads were not constantly covered in baby mess! On one of the trips I even had the chance to visit a baby boutique where all the little pants had open crotches and we thought they were crazy. The ladies in the store looked at us like WE were crazy for being fascinated by the pants.

Fast forward a few years and I have my own little munchkin. Since I cloth diaper and breastfeed, the blogs I read tend to get hippie-er and hippie-er. A few weeks ago I ran across an article about elimination communication and I had one of those light bulb moments. THAT’S how parents in China did it.

Babies naturally don’t like to soil themselves (even animals don’t go where they sleep) and that’s why little boys are so infamous for spraying their new parents. It’s not because it’s cold, it’s because they are waiting for you to take the diaper off so they don’t make a mess of themselves. This makes sense especially since after a few weeks babies stop going when you change them.

Since reading that article about 3 weeks ago, I decided to start trying to pay more attention to Bubba. Poop is pretty easy to spot – most parents know when their little one is going. And pee isn’t too tough. Most babies go right when they wake up and after they eat. Other times I’ve just been timing it, but sometimes he will start to fuss and he has to go. In the few weeks I’ve been paying closer attention I have only missed one or two poops. He will actually try to hold his poop until I can put him on the potty. Who would want to have to sit in that? I’ve even noticed that if I take him for a walk or go out with him in the sling he will hold it until we get home. A few times it’s been about 2 hours, but when I get home I put him right on the potty and he goes!

I know I’m a little crazy and I’m ok with that. It has been amazing to realize that my 6 month old definitely prefers to use the potty. If I put him on it and he doesn’t have to go he fusses. If he does have to go, he sits there calmly. The best part is I try to be very low key about it. If we go out for a while or I’m just not in sync with him I just change his diaper like normal. It’s no added stress and it’s fun to not have to change poopy diapers!

For more info go to Diaper Free Baby.