Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Letter to Breastfeeding Mothers Who Shame Other Mothers For Nursing In Public

Dear Backwards Members of the Breastfeeding Society,

Karlesha Thurman breastfed her 4 month old during her California State Long Beach University graduation only to be slammed with the most appalling onslaught of misogynist comments that I'm shocked to understand came from other breastfeeding mothers. 

I try to discretely breastfeed, not because it's superior or I am more decent than any other mom but because I am more self conscious and scared of how people around me will react specifically because of comments on articles like these and stories about women who are confronted and shamed in public for feeding their babies.

But some babies won't take bottles, some won't nurse with something over their head. Until I bought my Tula, I didn't have an effective way to nurse discretely in public and would have to go to a bathroom (gross) or go back to my car (extremely inconvenient). And not everyone can afford a Tula.

I support a woman's right to breastfeed however she would like in public. We are feeding our babies. And honestly, this shaming of women is misogynistic. And the worst offenders are mothers who tell other mothers that they should nurse in public with a cover because they think it's indecent because they nursed and managed to do it with the covers. This is the stuff mommy wars are made of. Judgmental, close mindedness with a complete lack of respect for other women and the needs of babies.

How can other mothers speak to breastfeeding moms with such contempt?

As you rage on with your comments against this young woman who managed to graduate from college wtih an infant, do you also comment on every sexually explicit picture on the internet?  I bet not. 

Why is it acceptable to show that amount of skin for something sexy in the name of commerce, which is what should be considered indecent? Large billboards, breasts exposed in windows, purposefully titillating (pun intended). But unacceptable to show the same amount of skin or less with the expressed purpose of feeding a baby, which should be considered the most decent thing to do?  

It's ridiculous that we live in a society where the intimate bond between a mother and her baby make people uncomfortable but a woman paraded around in a string bikini to peddle goods doesn't make anyone uncomfortable. It's even more ridiculous that women who have experienced this bond feel uncomfortable or ashamed about it enough to shame other women over it. 

And for those not familiar with the law, a mother as a legal right to breastfeed in California where ever a mother and child are allowed to be. 

Normally, I don't like to alienate my readers with tirades that might offend them but in this case, if you are a mother offended by my letter, you probably shouldn't be reading my blog anyway.

Thank you and good day.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Baby Camping Gear

Every year, for the Hosh's birthday, we go camping.  I should explain, that we actually go glamping which generally means a ton of gear.  I worried, this year, that we wouldn't have space for all of Baby Buckshot's camping gear along with ours.  Turns out, with a few key purchases and a suitcase filled with his everyday necessities, babies don't need that much camping gear.  These are the items that really came in handy during our camping trip:

1. Cozy Cub Baby Bunting Snowsuit in Fleece. Since baby sleeping bags are a no due to suffocation risk, a snowsuit was my next best option. I found it best that it was hooded and had enclosed feet and hands too instead of trying to struggle with keeping a hat, socks and mittens on BB at any given time. On sale for $34.95 - One Step Ahead.

2. Britax B-Nimble Stroller. A lot of people suggested getting a camping high chair for BB but if he's anything like me, he's likely a little clumsy and prone to falling out of camping chairs (yes, this has happened to me) and I opted for a stroller instead. I figured, as long as he can sit in it and it is able to recline for potential nap times, it would be even better than a camping high chair. The B-Nimble folds down to about the size of a camp chair, has the functionality of a full stroller with the ease of an umbrella stroller. $89 -

3. Inglesina Fast Table Chair. The other option I bought instead of a camping high chair was this table chair.  It attaches to just about any table (including those with a lip), folds up small enough to put in a large diaper bag and allows baby to sit right at the picnic table with the rest of the diners. This chair is a dream at restaurants and came in very handy at the campsite.  It doesn't touch the ground either, which made post camping clean-up of this seat non-existent. $59 -

4. Beco Gemini Baby Carrier. A baby carrier is a MUST during camping.  Between hiking, camp work and just needing to keep baby close, I don't think I could have done it without a carrier.  I like the Beco Gemini (I will do a review in the future) and feel that a canvas soft structured carrier that is easy to clean is the best option for camping, especially if someone else is going to try carrying baby also.  Like dad, who might not want to wear a girly pattern while out in the great outdoors.  Prettier woven wraps may get snagged while roughing it also and canvas is oh so durable. $130 -

5. N'ice Caps Boys Sherpa Lined Micro Fleece Hat and Mitten Set with Ears. We were camping in the cold weather (it actually rained the first night) so having a fleece hat that velcroed in place under BB's chin was very helpful in keeping his hat in place. The mittens were also perfect for keeping his hands warm as the nights got colder before I would put him in his snowsuit.  In the summer, obviously this wouldn't be necessary, but a sunblocking hat would be. $11.99 -

6. Babyganics Mineral-Based Sunscreen SPF 50 Spray 6 oz + Natural Insect Repellent. I like Babyganics for sunscreen regularly but didn't need DEET free insect spray until this camping trip.  Luckily, because the weather was wet and cold, there weren't many bugs but a summer camping trip would definitely warrant some insect repellent. Both sprays are very easy to apply and are fairly chemical free.  There are better options out there than this but they aren't readily available (Babyganics can be found at Babies R Us) and possibly not as effective. $16.99 -

I nursed BB all weekend so I didn't need it, but I also bought sterilizing wipes for bottles and pumps.  I made pretty specific clothing choices for Baby Buckshot too, which I might write about later in a camping clothing guide.

What other gear is there that would help make camping with a baby easier?

Saturday, April 12, 2014

One Size Pocket Cloth Diaper Options + Alva One Size Giveaway!

Ask any cloth diapering mommy and it's likely they use a different cloth diaper from the next. With the number of cloth diapers on the market, there's a type that will work for any baby but usually it's a trial and error game because there's not enough information on the details of the diapers to choose what fits each individual baby. I'm gathering up my criteria for rating diapers in hopes that it helps someone else who wants to use my chosen variety: One Size Pocket Button Snaps.

Here are the things I would consider in cloth diaper options:

1. White snaps or colored snaps. White snaps are easy to replace if you own a snap button tool but colored snaps make it easy to make sure the cloth diaper is centered. There are also velcro options to avoid the snap issue all together but the velcro doesn't last as long as the snaps and can cause pilling when washed with certain cloth diaper fabrics.

2. Size and elastic of leg opening. Some babies have chunky legs, others have skinny legs. Though the leg openings are adjustable, different leg openings are better suited to various types of legs.

3. Size at the smallest settings. For the most cost effective long term use of cloth diapers, being able to use them in the newborn months of 12+ diaper changes a day is important and some cloth diapers get down smaller than others.  The larger ones may be to bulky to be comfortable when put in the smallest setting also.

4. Size at the largest settings. The other cost effective long term aspect of a diaper is how long it will fit a baby.  Most of us hope it'll take baby into the potty training years.  Some diapers are too small for larger babies to fit in the later diapering years.

5. Single or double gusset. Cloth diaper makers try to make best design to prevent poopy blowouts. Many companies have developed double gussets, as in another elastic gusset inside the diaper to hold waste before it even gets to the elastic leg opening (much like the design of the typical disposable diaper.)

6. Back, front or two sided opening. With pocket diapers, the insert needs to be stuffed into the cloth diaper shell.  Some have the insert opening at the back, others at the front and others are open at both sides.  The ones with the back opening may be better at containing waste but almost guarantees have to touch poop when removing the insert to launder the diaper.  A front opening helps to avoid needing to touch poop but often results in an uncomfortably bulky front of the diaper.  The two sided opening is a great development but often requires a button snap to hold the insert in place which means having to use proprietary inserts or having to put snaps into inserts yourself.

7. Inner lining. Pocket diapers are usually lined in fleece or a stay dry material. Some materials are better at allowing liquid to pass through quickly to the insert to be absorbed.  Others are prone to build up that causes liquid repelling.

8. Front barrier or none. Some cloth diapers have an extension of the waterproof liner to create a front waistline barrier.  I'm not sure why not all cloth diapers don't have this because it makes a big difference in preventing clothing from touching any wet part of the diaper and wicking liquid into the clothing.

9. Price. Pricing varies wildly in this arena from $4 per diaper for bulk purchases from China to $30 for top of the line uber engineered diapers.  I'll take a look at which diapers are worth the money.

Luckily, my dear friend Megan is running a cloth diaper giveaway.  The best part?  It's of my favorite kind of cloth diaper: One Size Pocket Button Snap! Visit her blog or enter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck and let me know in the comments if you have any criteria you'd like me to add to my coming cloth diaper reviews.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Common Questions About Cloth Diapering

BB's First Day In Cloth Diapers
When I told my family that we were going to cloth diaper they looked at me a little bit like I was crazy. My mom, who was a poor refugee who had immigrated to the US with an infant (me), had no choice but to cloth diaper and hated it. She remembered the horrors of smelly diapers, the difficulty of washing and drying while living in a small apartment and having to hand wash and hang dry them indoors because there was no where she could hang them outside. When she was gifted a disposable for the first time, she thought it was the most amazing thing.

 Now that everyone is doing well financially, it boggles her mind as to why anyone would choose to go cloth over the infinitely wonderful experience of disposables.

Why Cloth Diapers?

First, there have been huge advancements in cloth diapering!  Sure, the old style cloth still exists but now there are adorable covers, no need to use safety pins and aside from having to wash and dry them, they are a lot like the disposables.  

Honestly, as a first time mom I was a little over the top in trying to shelter my baby from toxins and saw one too many pictures of chemical burns and allergic reactions to disposables. I also heard about diaper rash problems that cloth diaperers swore their kids never got. I definitely drank the Koolaid.

But now, I'm not against disposables (Baby Buckshot wears them when we go out, overnight and for part of the day three times a week when he's at my mom's) but I prefer cloth diapers at home. Once we started, it was easy to keep going. Just a couple of extra loads of laundry a week. It feels like just putting him in underwear. Adorable, chemical free, fluffy butted underwear that holds pee and poop.

And I'm not a huge environmentalist but I do absolutely hate repetitive waste and love saving money. The thought of throwing out $1+ a day in diapers 6 diapers a day 2.5 years in diapers plus the cost of the diaper pail bags just seemed ridiculous.

I have yet to see this for myself, but another reason we keep cloth diapering is because experienced cloth diaperers claim that cloth diapered babies get potty trained sooner because they can feel the wetness after they pee, something they don't feel with disposables.  Some children have a problem learning to control their urination because they don't feel the wetness that results in urination while wearing a disposable.

I have only been using them for about 5 months (as we used disposables for the first month of BBs life so I didn't overcomplicate the first month of parenting) so take the following information with that background in mind.

How much money does cloth diapering save?

It depends on when cloth diapering starts in the home and how often baby gets changed, how long it takes to potty train and the cost of your cloth diaper stash.

For instance, if you start at 6 months, the average baby is potty trained by about 2.5 years of age, he gets changed 6 times a day and you pay about $0.20 a disposable diaper.

2.5 years - .5 (for starting at 6 months) X 365 days a year X 6 changes a day X $0.20 a diaper = $876 on disposable diapers.

If the cost of the diaper stash plus the cost of washing the diapers  is significantly less than $876, then here are significant savings.

For an easier method of calculating whether the math works out, visit The Diaper Pin Calculator

How many do I need?

The recommendation is 24 cloth diapers per child to cloth diaper full time.  Personally, I have closer to 30 and cloth diaper less than full time.

With cloth diapers, changing the baby more often is common.  A baby that gets changed 6 times a day might go to being changed 8 times a day.  With 24 diapers, that's a mandatory load every 2-3 days. With 36 diapers, that's a mandatory load every 4-5 days.

Cloth diaper experts also recommend not washing more than 24 at a time. And personally, I wouldn't let a cloth diaper sit more than a few days anyway.

How much are they?

This depends on what type you'd like to use. There are 4 major types: Prefolds, Prefolds with Covers,  All-In-Ones (AIOs) and All-In-Twos (AI2), Pockets and Fitted. The Stork Warehouse does a great rundown of types.

As for the cost of each over the course of baby's life,  Diaper Decisions has done a great job of calculating this down to the littlest details.

What do I use?

I picked One Size Pocket Diapers because:

1. They wouldn't require me to buy an infant stash and new sizes at each interval BB outgrew his old size.  If his clothes are any indication, I wouldn't have bought the right amount at the right size anyway. One Size diapers allow me to simply use the same diaper throughout his diapering years thus making it cost effective and simple for me.

2. Pockets allow me to separate the insert from the cover which makes washing and drying much easier and effective.  I've heard that the AIOs don't dry very well and in some cases, the interiors don't get as clean as they should, especially with the new high efficiency washers.

3. Pockets also allow me to upgrade to hemp or charcoal inserts if I feel the need to whereas with AIOs, that is not an option.

4. I didn't want to deal with prefolds.  I didn't believe they would be more absorbent than microfiber, I didn't want to fold anything and I needed a diaper that would be as much like a disposable as possible for the Hosh and BB's other caregivers.

What brand do I use?

I've tried a sampling of all the different pocket diapers.  Currently in our stash we have Bumgenius 4.0s, The Hero, GoGreen Champs, Bumkins Stuff Its, Rumparooz, Fuzzibunz, Kawaiis, Charlie Bananas, Shinebabies, Alvas, Sunbabies and a hand made diaper from Etsy.

I think the Go Green Champs are by far the best designed diaper (double gusset, colored snaps, top band barrier) and go for about $17.99.  The best bang for the buck though are the Kawaiis at about $11.99 on average.  They have the top band barrier which is so important and good snap placement.

The worst diapers I bought were the Shinebabies.  Stay away from those! They are cheaply made and poorly designed.

Unfortunately, what fits well for one baby doesn't not necessarily fit well for another.  Everything from thigh size to belly shape can influence which brand will fit a baby best.

Luckily, there are cloth diaper trial programs where for as little as a $10 investment, a new mom can try a number of different diapers for a few weeks.  Jillian's drawers is a popular program. There is also a list of all the cloth diaper trial programs on Diaper Swappers.

What about poops?

Prior to starting solids, I just threw them in our cloth diaper pail (a cheap Home Depot 5 gallon bucket with lid, kept in the bathroom) and did my usual cloth diaper laundry routine.  They never stained, were always thoroughly clean and I had no issues.

After starting solids, I realized that it would be easier just to put in a paper liner in the diaper until BB had his daily bowel movement.  (If you opt to go this way, add it into your calculation since liners run about $0.05 each.)  Other parents opt for things like sprayers (I've heard this can get messy) or they dunk and swish in the toilet (haven't tried this yet but probably will) which costs virtually nothing additionally.

There is no denying that dealing with cloth diapers is much dirtier than using disposables.  Those of us who do cloth diaper just get used to it the way we get used to dirty children's clothing.

How do you really wash them?

There is a lot of "Woo Woo" around washing cloth diapers, from build up of detergent causing absorption problems, needing to "strip" the diapers with an alternate wash routine when they start leaking, even the voiding of certain warranties if a non-approved wash method is used.

Personally, we have a high efficiency washer so I soak the diapers first.  Then I run the diapers once on cold water bulky using All Free & Clear.  Some say you shouldn't use this but I haven't had any problems yet. Then I wash them again with hot water to make sure all the residue is gone.

Here are a couple of lists of detergents and how well they're supposed to work with cloth diapers from Pinstripes and Polkadots and Jillian's Drawers.

I do occasionally "strip" the diapers just in case there is residue build up by washing them with blue Dawn. Padded Tush Stats has a comprehensive list of stripping methods.  

What are the drawbacks?

I love cloth diapering.  I don't guru cloth diapering and it's not for everyone.  Here my downsides to cloth diapering:

1. I don't know that I'm really saving that much money.  I bought some pricier pocket diapers, I don't cloth diaper full time. I use paper liners.  I'm fairly certain that I at least breakeven.  People say the real savings is with the second child.  *shrug* I don't have a second child nor do I know if I will have one.

2. Some people get really addicted to buying cloth diapers to the point that it would have been cheaper just to buy disposables.  There is always the belief, however, that when you're done with the cloth diapers, they can be resold to recoup a bulk of the cost. I'm not entirely sure that I would really recoup a bulk of my cloth diaper expenditures.

3. You are going to have to touch poop. There's just no denying it. You will touch much more poop cloth diapering than you will with disposables. #FACT

4. You will change your baby much more often.  Cloth diapers aren't meant to be left on babies for hours on end nor designed so that the baby always feels dry. They are cloth.  If the baby sits in a diaper after he's peed, he's going to feel it and probably tell you. Further, if a wet cloth diaper is compressed, it will release liquid which may result in leaks.  Expect to increase diaper changes from 6-8 times a day to 8-10 times a day.

5. There will be leaks.  There will be leaks until you figure out the right diaper, right fit on the baby, the right inserts to use and the little nuances that go into cloth diapering.  Leaks don't bother me so much, I just change baby and change his clothes if he's leaked. This might bother other people.  It would bother me if it happened while we were out of the house.  That's why we use disposables when we're out and about.  He doesn't usually leak, however, if he's being changed regularly.  Surprise, surprise.

But since I'm already cloth diapering, stay tuned for reviews on cloth diapering when I finally get a chance to write them.

Friday, March 14, 2014

7 Stages of Postpartum Weight Loss

Did I mention that I'm preparing to TTC again?  Well, preparing I mean getting my body back into a shape just so I can wreck it again.

If there is a next pregnancy. 

*knock on wood*

*meditate to Buddha*

*do a rain dance*

Now that we're 6 months postpartum, like many new moms, I'm shifting gears towards health and weight loss.  Though I might not be mentally ready for another wee one, if my previous experience with a biological clock has taught me anything, that ticking starts quickly and gets unbearably loud faster than I can get my body ready for it.

I'm going to do this in stages.

Stage 1
Implement the least difficult changes. Like dieting but not really dieting it at all.
Get physically active at least once every other day.
Lament over how slowly the weight is coming off.

Stage 2
Backslide and reason that I'm not going to try to have another baby for at least a year and a half.

Stage 3
Panic that it's about to be swimsuit season and TTC weight loss be damned, it's now about the fear of looking like a hippo in the pool.
Implement dramatic unsustainable changes like raw foodism and juice fasting.

Stage 4
Realize that I'm not really going to drop all the weight in time for summer. 
Repeat Stage 1.

Stage 5
Incorporate more difficult diet changes like cutting out junk food.
Incorporate more physical activity in the form of more frequency or difficulty.
Pick up an athletic goal like a 5k.
Be happy that weight is coming off regardless of how slowly.

Stage 6
Achieve ideal weight through healthy eating habits and regular exercise.
Bask in the warmth of success.

Stage 7
Get pregnant again and eat all the things.

That's about right.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Citrus Lane Box Review

You know what feels like Christmas once a month?  Subscription boxes.  In all fairness, it's not really like Christmas because the boxes aren't a gift so I guess it's a little bit more like a personal shopper.

I have tried out beauty subscription boxes and know from experience not all boxes are worth their subscription value.  The first company I chose to try for baby boxes was Citrus Lane.  I got my first box in February for 5 month old Baby Buckshot and this is what came inside:

Tea Collection Bodysuit 6-12 Month: $19 retail value with a $25 off coupon for a purchase on the Tea Collection Website.

Boon Silicone Feeder: $7.49 retail value.

Clare Beaton's Bedtime Rhymes: $6.49 retail value.

I really like the contents of this box except for the Juice Beauty item.  Nothing against Juice Beauty, I like their products, and many of baby related boxes include an item for mom. I would just prefer all the items to be for baby because I already have a beauty box subscription.  Moms who only subscribe to one box each month might like that there is something included for them.

Citrus Lane boxes cost $29 per month, lower if you commit to buying for multiple months.  February 2014's box was a $45 retail value (plus a $25 coupon) for $29 a box.  First time subscribers are able to buy their first box for $15 if using a referral link. Mine is here if you're interested.

I get a little something if you sign up using my link too so thanks in advance if you use it!

Friday, February 28, 2014

How To Pick a High Chair

I have been searching for a high chair since Baby Buckshot was just a few months old.  I've gone between wanting something that just attaches to an existing dining chair or to the side of the table to wanting a full blown all features high chair.

What am I going to do with a high chair?
-Put food in the snack tray so BB can eat snacks wherever I need him to be, like next to me while I'm working or in the kitchen while I'm cooking. (Means it needs wheels for mobility.)
-Pull up to the dining table so he can eat meals with us. (Means it needs to be adjustable height for different tables and removable tray.)
-Travel to different places with it, like on camping trips and vacations. (Means it needs to fold down portable enough to take on the go.)

What else is important to me in a high chair?
-Easy clean up in the form of removable and washable cushions and a dishwasher safe tray.
-Comfort for long periods of sitting.

But there are so many high chairs on the market, how do you wade through them?  Amazon doesn't give me the option to sort by functionality.  Enter

Plug in the features that are important and voila!  Top 3 picks that meet the criteria of Easy Cleaning, Foldable, Adjustable Seating, Removable Tray and Wheels.

Then, over to Amazon for product reviews and feature verification.

Graco Contempo Highchair: 4.5 stars by 79 customers. The worst review is about how hard it is to clean, how bad it smells, how ugly it is, and the footrest is not adjustable, and how cheap it seems.

Peg Perego Siesta Highchair: 4.5 stars by 51 customers. The worst reviews are about how the cushion is handwash only, the chair is not easy to move around,

Baby Trend Accent Lite High Chair: No reviews. Bizarre.

But what terrible results. With the except of the Peg Perego Siesta, all the options looked so cheap and unattractive. Turns out, a wood high chair was what I really wanted.  And then I consulted DH and he said that the only things that mattered to him was ease of use.  He also negated my idea of needing to travel with it (we have a Summer SuperSeat that converts to a booster for travel), and the need to roll it around because it would stay put at the dinner table. We have other things that BB can sit in if I need him to be next to be in another room. A high chair on wheels, DH reasoned, was less safe that one without. I went back to and changed my criteria.

Wood Frame, Easy Cleaning, Adjustable Seating and Removable Tray.

Hauck Alpha Chair: 4.5 stars of 19 reviews. The worst reviews state tray is hard to find (I was unable to find it from a reputable retailer online), the seat step is easily broken and the seat is poorly designed.

OXO Tot Sprout Chair: 4 stars of 222 reviews.  The worst reviews state water gets stuck in the tray, the tray is not machine washable,and differing opinions on how easy the chair and its cushions are to clean.

Svan Signet Complete High Chair: 3.5 stars of 36 reviews.  The worst review state that the wood is of poor quality and the tray is unsafe.  

After watching the OXO video on the Sprout Chair and seeing it in the Taupe/Walnut combination, I knew that was the perfect chair for us! 

What high chair did you choose?

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