Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Baby Wearing Safety

You gotta love pintrest. I have wasted enjoyed many a nap time on the blasted thing! I think pintrest has its own time zone because time goes in warp speed when I'm hanging out there. Speaking of pintrest, I'm trying to set up a little button for my blog that will let you pin my blog and also let you follow me there but so far have not been able to get it set up, from both pintrest and blogger sites. Any tips for how to do this?

And speaking of pintrest, I recently came across this Babywearing Safety diagram. It led me to the original post about babywearing on The Mommy Dialogues blog and made me think of one of the reasons I started this blog in the first place, to talk about babywearing safety, so I thought I'd share it.

The drawings are of a baby in a sling, but the rules apply to any kind of carrier. So remember, keep your carrier tight and keep baby close to you. Keep baby high, close enough to kiss. Make sure you can always view his face and that his chin is off is chest to allow for unrestricted breathing (this is one reason upright carries are safer than cradle carries). And make sure his back is comfortably supported and he is not slumping.

Besides keeping baby safe and secure, the idea is that you should really feel hands free. If baby is in a carrier, you shouldn't feel like you're still needing to support him with your arms. 

As mentioned, baby should be high enough to kiss the top of his head, so his bottom will be even with or higher than your belly button. 

Legs should be froggied, mimicking the position he was in as an inside baby. If carrying with legs out this means the carrier material should go to the backs of the knees, and knees should be higher than bum. Baby should basically be in a low squat, with his weight resting on his bum and not his legs. (Picture sitting width-wise in a hammock and what would be comfortable for you.)    

The top of the carrier should be pulled up to the bottom of his head or neck. With an older baby who wants arms out, pull material as high as possible under his arms.

The carrier should be as tight as possible; when in doubt, tighten! When leaning forward, baby should stay close to you and not fall away from your body. When bending over, always use your hands to support baby in carrier.

Baby should be facing in, toward you, rather than out, away from you. There are several reasons for this, one of which being that carriers that allow babies to face out typically put most of their weight on their pelvic bones, rather than being in a seated position on their bottom. In this position his spine and hips are unsupported and he is not sitting but dangling. This places pressure on the groin and causes his little spine to arch. Additionally, facing a baby inward allows the parent to see and respond to baby's cues. Instead of facing baby out, why not try a back carry or hip carry, which is probably how you naturally carry baby anyway! This allows him to look around in all directions but turn back towards mom or dad when needed. Read more about this issue on the Boba website, the Hip Dysplasia Institute, or Storchchenwiege.  

It can take some practice, but once you get it its like riding a bike! Most carriers come with a DVD to show you how to use it. If not, there are a plethora of videos on youtube. The best way to get help is to have someone show you! Read more about babywearing safety at Baby Wearing International.  


Monday, October 29, 2012

Fluffy Stuff Monday: What do I need to get started with cloth diapering?

Now that you know what types of cloth diapers are out there, you're probably wondering what you need to get started. At least that's what I would be thinking if I was you, and that's exactly what I was thinking several months ago!

How many diapers do I need?

Before you answer this question, decide how often you want to do fluffy (i.e. cloth diaper) laundry. For several reasons, its best to do it a minimum of every other day. There's the smell issue of course, but your diapers will last longer if they're not left soiled for very long. Plus, you don't want to have an over-stuffed washing machine. Machines that are a little less full will clean your diapers better and they'll have less wear and tear.

Based on the every-other-day laundry routine, you'll want enough dipes to last three days. 

For an itty-bitty newborn, plan to change about 12 diapers a day; you'll need about 36 diapers to get you through. Trust me, you do not want to run out of diapers when you are busy adjusting to life with a baby (or two or three babies!) and recovering postpartum! 

The number of diapers per day will slowly decrease and around 3 months you'll want a minimum of 24 diapers. Its nice, of course, to have a few extra on hand in case you're not able to get to your laundry routine. 

Some One Size (OS) diapers state that they fit a newborn, but I have yet to see a OS diaper that really fits a newborn. You may do well to buy a separate stash of newborn size diapers and later size up into the OS, or go with a newborn diaper rental package

If you've decided to go for prefolds or All-In-Two (AI2), you'll want 2-3 dozen prefolds or inserts and a minimum 4-6 covers. The same goes for if you're just using fitteds: 2-3 dozen fitted diapers and 4-6 covers. Remember, you can reuse the cover or wrap over a clean diaper if its not soiled. 

Many people find that they like to have several types of diapers in their stash for different situations (All-In-One (AIO) for daddy or daycare, fitted for naps or nighttime, prefolds for travelling, pockets for everyday use, etc.), so you may want to have 20 or so diapers you prefer for everyday use, then 4-6 other types on hand.

How do I store dirty diapers?

It used to be that dirty cloth diapers were stored in a bucket containing water and bleach (known as a "wet pail"), but there's no need to do this. Its a little dangerous to keep a bucket full of water where your child could possibly get into it, not to mention gross! However, some people choose to do this so if you do, just make sure you find a pail with a lock on it so your little one can't access it. 

The only thing you need is some type of diaper pail with a lid and preferably a pedal to open the lid (I use a plastic trash can I got at Walmart for $14) and two cloth pail liners (one to use, one to wash). Throw the dirties into the lined diaper pail and on wash day simply empty your diapers into the washer, turn the pail liner inside out and wash with the diapers! It may be worth it to invest in one of those really nice, stainless steel trash cans to use without the plastic can inside because plastic holds odor. If you use a plastic trash can, over time you may find, as I have, that it may be hard to remove odor from the actual can itself! 

What about wipes?

Cloth wipes are easy to use since you're already washing dirty diapers. You can simply use wash clothes or buy ready-made cloth wipes. Either way, they're easy to wash with your diaper laundry. You can store them dry and when you're ready to use one, simply wet with a spray bottle or peri bottle and use. Or, you can soak them in a wipes container or warmer and wa-la, just like disposable wipes! 

How do I use cloth diapers on the go?

Oh you guys, its so easy! Here's what you need: a small wet bag! That's it! Simply put a few cloth diapers in your diaper bag, grab a few wipes, your wet bag and you're good to go! When you change a diaper when you're out and about, just put it straight into your wet bag and toss the diaper into your diaper pail when you get home. 

I like to use AIO or Pockets when I'm out, it just makes it much faster and easier. It does, however, take up more room in the diaper bag than disposables or prefolds do.

Traveling longer distances gets a little more tricky and takes some planning but its definitely doable. Will you have easy access to a washing machine? Are you flying or driving and how much room do you have to pack diapers? What are your plans during your travels; will you even have time to wash diapers? I've taken several road trips and air trips since having Roo and I have to say I much prefer to travel with my cloth rather than disposables. It does take up more room, but not much more than if I was traveling with a bunch of disposables. 

What else do I need?

There are many other accessories that you may find helpful. First of all, you may want to buy some extra doublers or inserts in order to increase absorbency, especially for overnight. There are also reusable micro-fleece liners that you can lay on top of the diaper in order to keep your baby feeling dry; this is especially helpful when using natural fabrics. When your baby starts solid foods, you may find it helpful to use a disposable liner to place on top of the diaper that catches any solid waste, and you can just toss the liner and waste straight into the toilet. You may also want a diaper sprayer, although its not necessary until after baby starts solids, if at all. If you're using prefolds, check out the diaper duck

Be sure to use a cloth diaper safe diaper cream, such as Earth Mama Angel Baby or CJs Butter.    

Here's what your basic stash can look like:

24-36 cloth diapers with appropriate inserts
4-6 Diaper covers (if using prefolds or fitteds)
2 diaper pail liners
1-2 small wetbags for the diaper bag
24-36 cloth wipes
Cloth wipe solution
Cloth diaper safe diaper cream

Easy Peasy!

If you have any experience with cloth already I'd love to hear what your stash looks like!

Here are some topics I'm hoping to cover in the next few weeks: cloth diaper laundry routine, cost analysis, closure comparison (snaps vs. aplix or hook and loop), detailed stash review, specific diaper reviews. What would you like to see first? 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Three of my favorite blogs

Good morning world! Its a beautiful Friday morning out in the blogosphere, looks like it'll be 75 degrees and sunny all weekend long! I love catching up on reading my favorite blogs on Friday morning during naptime...hope I didn't just jinx myself...knock on wood...or computer keys. I've been catching up on the latest from two of my favorite blogs:

Eco-Friendly Family: Love this blog! Its such a great resource for cloth diapering but also for being green and family stuff. I've linked to her cloth diapering FAQ page but be sure to check out the rest of her blog for resources and information about eco friendly living.

So Easy Being Green: This is an excellent source of info for all things cloth diaper! She does these incredibly detailed reviews so that you know the ins and outs of specific diapers and other related products. Super helpful and a great resource for when you're looking to troubleshoot or expand your stash. She also has lots of fun giveaways!

Another favorite blog of mine is The Kind Life run by Alicia Silverstone. She wrote The Kind Diet about going vegan and macrobiotic and includes a lot of great recipes. I love the forums over there, lots of like-minded people encouraging each other to eat and live well.

Well, I did jinx myself. Roo is awake and ready to play. So much for nap time, but at least I got a half hour to write this post and eat some breakfast. If anyone knows where to locate the sleep fairies, would you mind sending them over my way? We could all use a little more sleep around here!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Baby-Wearing Wednesday: Types of carriers

Let me preface this by saying I am not an expert when it comes to baby carriers or carries. I'm learning though, and hope you can benefit from this post. If you're an expert babywearer that's stumbled across my blog, please feel free to chime in. The last thing I want to do is provide any misleading or false information. As always, do your own research on the subject and use this blog as a starting point. If you'd like expert help and opinions, head on over to the forums on The Babywearer. There are many people who have been doing this for a loooong time and know more than I thought possible about the subject! Another great website is the Becoming Mamas blog, which has a plethora ("Would you say I have a plethora, Jefe?") of information about anything you could possibly want to know about babywearing!  All the information is really helpful, but its also overwhelming and you really have to take the initiative to do the research. What if you just want to know the basics? Let me break it down for you. By the way, I've linked up to the carriers I mention, but I'm not being paid to advertise for them and I'm not necessarily endorsing them, although I will never link to something I can't recommend.

There are several different types of carriers used today, and within each category there are as many variations as there are mamas and babies who use them (well, almost!). The trick is to pick something and try it out, then find out what works for you and and your little one. If one carrier/carry doesn't seem to work, then please don't give up! Try something new and get some help!

Soft Structured/Buckle carriers (SSC): These are very popular and if you've done any air travel lately, you've probably seen many exhausted parents using these. They have structured bodies, padded waists, padded straps, and are fastened using buckles. These are widely available at the big box stores, and include Ergo Baby (pictured above), Beco, and Boba. The carries vary from carrier to carrier, but they can typically be used on both the front and back and sometimes on the hip, and can be used for newborns up through toddlers. SSCs are typically daddy friendly!

Stretchy Wraps: These are just what they sound like, carriers made of a long, stretchy piece of fabric to wrap up baby. Lately these have been very popular and widely available. Maybe you've seen the Moby Wrap (pictured above) or Sleepy Wrap (now the Boba Wrap)? They're nice for carrying an itty-bitty, squishy newborn because the material is so soft and pretty easy to use. However, they don't work well for older, heavier babies, typically up to 16 pounds, because the material stretches so much. The material can also be pretty hot. Baby is worn on the front in a stretchy wrap.

Woven Wraps: Ah, the woven wrap! My new favorite! These wraps are made from a thick, sturdy, woven piece of material or gauze that is used to wrap up baby. They range in length from short to long, and can carry a newborn through a toddler in front, hip, and back carries; they're incredibly versatile. The modern woven wrap originated in Germany in the 1970s but of course have been used in many countries for ages. The perfect size wrap for you will be one that fits your size and need, based on the type of carry that you would like to do. (The Dolcino woven wrap is pictured above).

Mei Tai (pronounced May Tie): These carriers originated in Asia and are also very versatile. They easily fold up and fit in your diaper bag and can fit more than one user. They come with many different options in terms of padded waists, straps, and hood styles. They can be used for front and back carries, from small through large babies. I'm loving the Baby Hawk pictured above!

Ring Slings (RS): Another favorite of mine, the ring sling. These go over one shoulder and can be used in front, hip, and back carries. They range in materials, some being very basic and some quite beautiful. You can find them with a padded shoulder, no padding or structure, or very structured and pleated shoulder styles, so if you find one type of ring sling but aren't in love be sure to try another brand! These are easy to use and quick to put on, and I always have mine with me. Some popular brands are Maya Wrap (pictured above) and Sakura Bloom. When using a sling (really with any carrier) proper positioning is incredibly important. If you buy a sling, make sure to watch some videos or get some personal instruction for how to carry baby. Carrying in a cradle position can be dangerous.

Pouch Slings: Similar to the ring sling, these are worn over one shoulder and range in materials and types of carries. However, they come in specific sizes and are not adjustable. Some popular brands include SlingLings (pictured above) and Hotslings. As I mentioned previously, make sure to take care when using your sling and always properly position baby.

Well there you have it. I have very intentionally avoided mentioning a few popular brands of carriers, as they are known to be not ergonomically correct and potentially unsafe. I also have avoided mentioning bag slings, which studies have shown are dangerous both for baby and can cause injury to the wearer. Another post (or posts?) for another day.

As always, please learn how to correctly use your carrier by watching the carrier dvd, watching videos online, and getting personal instructions.    
Monday, October 22, 2012

Fluffy Stuff Monday: What types of cloth diapers are there?

What would you do in this situation: Your baby has not napped all day but falls asleep as soon as she's in the carseat. Alas, you're in a hurry and must make one quick stop before your final destination. You do not possess a quick-fold stroller in which to carry the bucket carseat. Do you a: remove baby from her carseat thereby waking her up and carry her screaming, though the store or b: carry the carseat by the handle through the store or c: put the carseat, covered in a blanket, in a grocery cart and wheel it through the store desperately hoping she'll stay asleep? Can you guess which option I chose?

It's my first Fluffy Stuff Monday post! Don't lie, I know you're excited! Here’s the thing about cloth diapering, it can make your brain hurt! There is so much information and so many choices, where do you even start?  Somewhere, my friend; the answer is that that you have to start somewhere! (BTW I've added pictures from different diaper brands websites. I'm not getting any financial reimbursement for this, I just wanted to add pictures to show you the different types of diapers and don't have any of my own yet).

When we were little most of us were probably running around in plastic pants over ginormous flat cloth diapers that had to be folded a hundred times just to be absorbent enough. And they had to be held together by actual diaper pins. Once soiled, the diapers were stored in a bucket full of water until they were able to be washed. Am I dating myself here or do you remember that, at least from pictures? 

Flash forward some 30 years and you have a completely different generation of cloth diapers that are A-much easier to use and 2-much more attractive! There are so many styles and brands to choose from and it can be overwhelming to pick which diaper you want to use. Here are the basics of what types of diapers you have from which to choose.

Prefolds/Flats: Like the ones from Green Mountain Diapers pictured above, these are flat pieces of cloth, similar to the diapers of yesterday, consisting of three panels with a more absorbent panel in the middle. They need to be folded in order to be put on the baby and you need to use a cover or wrap to keep the waste in. There are several different ways people fold and use these, but you typically also need a snappi, which replaced the diaper pin, to hold the prefold together. Nowadays, prefolds are only made in China and India, with the Indian prefolds being more popular due to the type of material and quality of the product. These are the most budget-friendly cloth diapers.

All-in-One (AIO): These diapers are on the other end of the spectrum from the Prefold. They are most like a disposable in terms of ease of use because you typically don't need to do anything to it, it contains all the absorbency needed and the outside is made of a water-proof cover. You simply put it on baby and once soiled, throw it in your diaper pail and wash! These are definitely daddy-proof diapers! The downside is that they can take longer to dry since the absorbent part is sewn right in to the diaper. These are typically the most expensive cloth diapers.

Pocket: Pocket diapers are made of a waterproof cover and have a pocket in which to insert an insert or soaker. You can add more absorbency as needed, like for overnight or for a "heavy wetter" (aren't all babies heavy wetters?). These are most similar to an AIO, except for the stuffing required to put the diapers together, but also are quick drying and are easily tailored to baby's needs.

All-in-Twos (AI2): These are similar to a Pocket diaper, but instead of stuffing a pocket with an absorbent insert, the insert goes directly on top of the cover against baby's skin. The advantage to these is that you can reuse the cover by changing the insert if the cover isn't soiled. This can be a more budget friendly option than the AIO.

Hybrid: These consist of a cloth, water-proof outer cover, similar to the AI2 system, but use a disposable, rather than cloth, insert. This can be a good option if you want to use cloth but don't have easy access to a washing machine, or for travel.

Fitted: Fitted diapers are made of one absorbent piece of fabric and have snaps or velcro on the side to secure to baby. They need to be worn under a water-proof cover, although some fitteds are made quite thick and can absorb a lot of liquid before they are completely saturated. They are practically leak proof, which definitely comes in handy with a newborn!

One Size (OS): Many diapers come in specific sizes, for example newborn and then by pounds (10-18 lbs, 18-30 lbs, etc.) There are many diapers, however, that come in one size and are adjustable to fit a newborn through toddler. This can help you save money, but to be honest, I haven't seen one that fits an itty bitty newborn really well.

Diaper cover or Wrap: The water proof part that is worn over a cloth diaper.

Polyurethane-Laminated Polyester (PUL)-This is the material most water-proof diaper covers are made from. You'll often see covers simply referred to as the "PUL".

Wool soakers/diaper covers- Diaper covers can also be made of wool. These are typically thick pants, they look like funny little shorts that are used on top of a non-PUL diaper such as a fitted. If handled correctly they are leak-proof, and some people swear by them. They do take some extra care and need to be lanolized, but if you're having a problem with night-time leakage, these could be your solution.

Now that you know what's out there, how do you know what diaper is right for you? Take a look at your budget, your access to a washing machine, your level of commitment and support (i.e. is your partner on board?), and the needs of your child. If you're pregnant or starting out with a newborn, you may be able to find a local store that has a newborn rental package. This will help you decide what you do and do not want. I recommend buying a few styles or brands and seeing what works for you. Before we had Roo we had decided to use hybrids, but after we had her we discovered the ease of the AIO! Because of the cost, we ultimately decided to build up most of our stash with Pockets and have been pretty satisfied.

Let me know if you have any questions! Tune in next week for my post on what you'll need to get started with cloth diapering, including how many diapers you'll need and what accessories are a must. 
Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Why lulu Kangaroo?

Well, the hubs read my last post and laughed out loud at my comment about drinking coffee. So, in the spirit of full disclosure, the truth is I'm not a coffee drinker. I just said that to sound cool and mainstream. When I say coffee what I'm really referring to is caffiene. Coffee = caffeine. What I actually drink when I need some caffiene is a Coca Cola. So coffee is code for a Coke. I'm a little embarrassed/proud of how much I love to drink Coke so I try hide how much I drink by throwing in the word for most people's caffiene addiction to throw the heat off of me. I'm such a good friend! While you run to Starbucks for a latte, I'll run to McDonalds (their Coke is the best, am I right?!) and its a win win!

But I digress. I started this blog because I need a place to process my crazy, sleep deprived thoughts. I also need an outlet for my snarkiness that won't get me in trouble. You see, I often say things impulsively that come across as unkind and thoughtless and immediately wish I could take it back. Case in point: Nice boy in high school I was somewhat acquainted with, "Kacie, what are you doing this weekend?" me: "Nothing with you!". What?! Who says that?! Think, Kacie, think!

Besides all of that, I am passionate about cloth diapering and baby wearing. Many people have asked me about these things so I decided to create a place to share what I've learned. By no means am I an expert on cloth diapering, but it's on my bucket list to be one (bet you didn't think you'd ever hear anyone say that!). I'm just learning about the significance of baby wearing and am excited to share what I'm learning. Learning about different baby carriers and carrying positions can really make your head hurt, so my goal is to break down the information and share the basics. As a side note, I love seeing others wear their babies but get do nervous when they are not doing it safely. I hope to promote a little bit about safe baby wearing on this blog.

This brings me to the point of this post: why call this space lulu Kangaroo? Lulu is my daughter's nickname, and since I love to wear her she's my little kangaroo baby. For the purposes of this blog, I'll call her Roo. Yes, I know kangaroo babies are called Joeys. (Incidentally did you know all marsupial babies are called Joeys? Not just kangaroos and koalas but also wombats, tasmanian devils, possoms and opossums. Who knew there were 2 kinds of possom type creatures?).

So that's it: Promote safe baby wearing, share the cloth diaper love, and ramble on about life's intricacies.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I'm a New Mom and I am Tired

I am a new mom and I am tired! Boy, I thought that by 5 months things would have settled down, and by things I mean sleep! But then, I have chosen not to do "sleep training" at this point and so I embrace the joyful exhaustion and grab a cup of coffee. As much as I have learned in the last five months about caring for a baby, I've learned a disturbing amount about myself. Have you heard of the Johari window? Its a theory that says there is stuff about you that everyone, including you, knows about you. Then there's stuff about you that only you know about you. But there's also stuff about you that other people know about you that you don't even know about you, a personal blind spot (I know, I have such an eloquent way of describing things!). My blind spot has gotten just a bit smaller through this process called parenthood...I hope!

For example, I've recently learned that I am, sigh, no longer blonde. Blonde-brained maybe, but not blonde-rooted. That's what happens when you highlight your hair for 15 years and suddenly can't get to the salon! I've also learned that I have a lot of anxiety about pretty much, oh everything. I've always considered myself fairly easy going but just realized how much stress I create for myself and others around me trying to do things the right way (pick a pediatrician), or not trying doing them at all (housework). Its a new disorder they call, "the perfectionist". If you know me you're probably shaking your head and thinking, "Thank God! She's finally getting it!".

Last night as I struggled to put my 'roo to sleep and later as I got up to nurse her and rock her and comfort her, it occurred to me that this is what it means to "die to self" and to put others' needs ahead of my own. That's why I've been so cranky and whiney and tired (although getting up several times a night might have something to do with that!), because I have wanted to have my own personal space and my own time and to do my own thing with the freedom I used to have. In other words, I have discovered how selfish and self centered I am. To be sure, personal independence is not necessarily a bad thing, especially in our north American culture. But its not what this season of my life will look like as I start to raise my children.

And so I join a thousand generations of mothers who have gone before me building and birthing their babies, nursing and answering a hundred midnight calls, lovingly discipling and fiercely loving, crying and laughing, staying up late worrying, and learning how to simultaneously hold on and let go. I am grateful that I am not the first and will not be the last.

And so I grab my cup of coffee (ahem, let's be honest, its a Coca-Cola), put Roo in her sling, and carry on.

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