Necessity is the Mother of Invention

This morning, Emily was not so keen to nap. This is usually my window for taking a shower and getting ready for work. I couldn’t have her crawling all over the house while I was showering, and I couldn’t skip the shower. So, I popped her into the laundry basket with some toys and played peek-a-boo with her behind the shower curtain. Definitely a win-win situation for both of us.Emily in a Basket

My 10 Favorite Reasons for Wearing My Baby

10. Emily looks very fashionable on me.
9. People get really, really, really happy when they see her on me.
8. Emily can interact (i.e., flirt) with people at eye level instead of craning her neck up to see them. It’s a more equal distribution of power.
7. My hands are free to do something besides push a stroller.
6. It’s easy to get her in and out of the car and I don’t have a huge stroller to fold up and lift into the trunk.
5. It’s safer to have her attached and close to me than riding in a stroller.
4. Emily loves being worn. She goes into calm observation mode and watches the world from a place of peaceful contentedness.
3. I can get stuff done with her on me (i.e., vacuuming, laundry, dishes, cleaning) that I can’t otherwise do because she’s crawling all over the house and needing constant supervision.
2. It’s very easy to walk while wearing her and I have high maneuverability.
And then my #1 reason:
1. I can smell and kiss the top of her head All.The.Time. Seriously, it doesn’t get better than this.

For the Love of Babywearing: My Personal Experience with the 5 Baby Carriers I Own

My new ERGOBaby carrier arrived in the mail yesterday. Yippee! Yes, Emily is 8 months old and I just bought ANOTHER baby carrier. Well, in my defense, they’re all different. And I absolutely love wearing Emily. I would much rather wear her and be able to kiss her head than push her around in a stroller any day of the week. I thought I’d spend some time sharing my personal experience with all of our baby wraps. I’ll go in chronological order from the time each of them arrived in our house.

1) The Beco Gemini

This was the first carrier I got and it is hands down my absolutely favorite carrier. It’s very comfortable for me to wear, and the buckles are a cinch to clip. I clip the waist belt on, place Emily either facing out or facing in, throw one of the shoulder straps across my back and clip the buckle under my opposite arm, and then do the same with the other shoulder straps. Three buckles and I’m done. I’m so good with this carrier that I can lift Emily out of the car seat, place her in the carrier, and then start walking towards my destination while I’m buckling the shoulder straps. This carrier also has a hip-carry option and a back-carry option. I started using this carrier the moment she hit 8 pounds (and maybe a little sooner), and it was so easy that I haven’t stopped. I also tried out the back carry position a few weeks ago, and after a few practice tries that didn’t go so well, I got the hang of it. I get so much more done now! She weighs 16 pounds now, and carrying her in the front is starting to feel like I’m 20 months pregnant — a little overbalanced! Now I can vacuum, do laundry, do dishes, and walk and hike with a 16-pound baby and her weight distribution on me is terrific. I love this carrier!!!! It has a weight limit of 35 pounds, which means it will stay in our household a long time. If I could only have one carrier, I would have this one and ditch all the others.

2) The Moby Wrap

When Emily was born, she weighed 6 pounds 14 ounces, and dropped down to 6 pounds 4 ounces. The Moby Wrap was absolutely perfect for my sweet little newborn. I wrapped her up in the newborn hold, and both of us just thrived on it. We would sit in the hammock swing together, her in the Moby Wrap, and me just swinging and looking at this beautiful baby (and kissing her head). Once she got to be 8 pounds, I started using the Beco Gemini and haven’t looked back, but I treasured this as a newborn carrier.

3) The Maya Wrap

I also used this when Emily was born, and I’ve used it off and on. It’s a gorgeous sling, with green woven stripes, but it’s not my favorite. The Maya Wrap is a ring sling, and I’ve never quite got the knack of cinching the strap down in the rings. When I watch the process on YouTube, it looks so easy, like you could do it in your sleep. Then when I do it, the rings slip off my shoulder and the fabric gets all bunched up in the rings. You might say that I’m ring wrap-challenged. And it pulls on whatever shoulder it’s slung over. Ouch! My body hurts enough from lifting and carrying Emily around all day. I want my baby carrier to make my shoulders feel like I’m not carrying a baby at all. HOWEVER, this seems to be the perfect carrier for the dinner table. I put her in the sling in the hip-carry position, and she can face outward and interact with us without her head being in the way of my getting food into my mouth. She also has her hands free in this wrap, and can hold onto a spoon and gum it while the rest of us are eating. And since she’s in a sling, that means that MY hands are free to eat dinner with. A win-win situation, so I’m keeping this wrap around.

4) The Baby Bjorn

I read so many negative comments about the comfort level of this carrier on Amazon.com that I didn’t want to get one. But my husband didn’t like the fit of the Beco Gemini. It was uncomfortable on him. He said that when his son, Levi, was a baby, he carried Levi around in the Baby Bjorn and loved it. He complained so much about the Beco Gemini that I broke down and bought him a Baby Bjorn. Problem solved. Sort of. I was curious, so I tried the Baby Bjorn myself. Meh. I didn’t like it. It pulls on my shoulders and my mid-back, and my shoulders hurt within the first 5 minutes of putting it on. But John has loved it and it’s been his go-to carrier for months. I think that for broad-shouldered men, this is just a more comfortable carrier for them. But now that Emily is 16 pounds, he’s been complaining that her weight is pulling her forward and pulling on his shoulders more. The Baby Bjorn is supposed to go to 25 pounds, but he’s probably going to stop using it soon because the ergonomics work better for a smaller baby.

Last, but not least:

5) The ERGOBaby

Like I said, this one just arrived in the mail yesterday. I bought it primarily for my husband to replace the Baby Bjorn, but I took it for a test drive today. Pretty good! I can carry her in the front comfortably, and getting her in the back carry position is easier than with the Beco Gemini. I even nursed her in the front carry position, and I will say that while the other carriers boast that you can nurse a baby in them, I never got the hang of it. But for the Ergo Baby, I just pulled out a boob and stuck the nipple in Emily’s mouth. She nursed for quite a while in that position. Damn, that was easy! It’s got a privacy hood too, but I was at home, so I didn’t care. The straps are well padded and comfortable, and there’s a zippered pouch in the front. My husband will love that! The only minus is that you can’t wear your baby forward facing in this carrier. The Beco Gemini and the Baby Bjorn are better for that. But the ergonomics of a hip strap to distribute the baby’s weight over your hips rather than your back combined with comfy shoulder straps is pretty good. Both the ERGOBaby and the Beco are my favorite designs. Oh yes, one more minus: there’s a chest strap that you need to buckle, and you need to move it way up in order to reach it to buckle it when it’s on your back. Some people might not be flexible enough to reach behind them and clip that buckle, let alone unclip it. And then you need to move it way down if you switch to a front carry (or else the strap is choking you). It doesn’t move up or down particularly easily, and I thought this logistical detail was a bit of a pain. But when the strap is buckled, it really makes a huge difference in the comfort level of your shoulders. The weight of the baby is distributed quite nicely. The weight limit of this carrier goes up to 45 pounds, and I can see why. I felt like I could carry Emily for hours in this carrier.

Well, there you have it. I hope this review is useful to some of you out there in cyberspace.

Cloth Diapering: How Many Diapers to Buy

How many diapers?

How many diapers?

How many cloth diapers do you need? That’s a good question. We’re 8 months into cloth diapering, and I have some pearls of wisdom to share my personal experience as well as from all the other blogs and YouTube videos and webpages I’ve stumbled across.

If you’re doing diaper laundry every other day:

  • For a newborn: 24 diapers & 6 covers. Prefold diapers are the best! They are a really good, inexpensive place to start cloth diapering with a newborn. You just fold them in thirds and place them in a diaper cover. Don’t waste your money on cheap Gerber prefolds. Get Diaper Service Quality (DSQ), either OsoCosy brand Better Fit diapers or Green Mountain Diapers Cloth-eez brand. Remember that the more diapers you have, the longer they will last for your child. The fewer you have, the more quickly they will lose their fluffiness and start breaking down (the snaps, the velcro, the elastic, the stitching, the waterproofing, etc.). Change the diaper as soon as it is soiled or wet (at least every 2 hours). You’ll be changing diapers about 12 times a day at first for a newborn, so 24 diapers is a good stash. BumRite Diapers has a “Get Started in Cloth” package that is absolutely perfect and affordable for newborns (in my opinion). Thirsties Duo Wrap covers are my favorites.
  • For a older baby: 18 diapers & 4 covers. You’ll go through about 8 diapers changes a day and you’ll have fewer poop blow-outs when your baby adds solid foods to their diet, so you don’t need as many diapers or covers. Once your baby is around 11 pounds, the pocket diapers and fitted diapers will also fit them better. We have 12 GroVia hybrid covers with 24 cotton snap-in soakers as well as 12 OsoCozy prefolds and Thirsties Duo Wrap covers. I know, I know, that’s more than 18 diapers total. I have extra diapers for a few reasons. The first is that I have an extra stash of GroVia Hybrids at work for my childcare provider to use. I also have extra diapers in my diaper bag and in my husband’s diaper bag in our respective cars. The third reason is that my husband loves the GroVia Hybrids and I love the prefolds and covers, so we alternate between the two styles. Sometimes you just need extra diapers.
  • Get 3 nighttime diapers for your baby (either 3 pocket diapers with microfiber inserts and hemp doublers, or three fitted diapers with diaper covers). This way, you have 2 nights of diapers plus an extra diaper in case your baby poops in the middle of the night and you need to change the diaper. I have 7 nighttime diapers (because I’m a cloth diaper nerd), but 3 is really just fine. I have four BumGenius 4.0 diapers as well as two hand-me-down pocket diapers from CC Bums and 1 fitted diaper from SootheBaby. The CC Bums diapers are my absolute favorites. I stuff them with a microfiber insert plus a Joey Bunz doubler and put a Thirsties Duo Wrap size 2 over the top, and it’s a leakproof combo that doesn’t stink. The BumGenius 4.0 diapers are for my husband, and he does pretty well with them, though I dream about replacing them with Fuzzibunz Elite pocket diapers. I stuff them with the toddler microfiber insert that comes with the diaper and a Joey Bunz hemp doubler.

Other useful accessories that I love:

  • 24-36 GroVia cloth wipes (wet them with plain, old-fashioned water to wipe your baby’s bum and then just toss them in the wet bag and wash with your diapers)
  • 1 GroVia Magic Stick (it’s cloth diaper safe and is amazing for diaper rash)
  • 2 Snappis (used in place of diaper pins, and so each to use, even your partner can do it)
  • 2 hanging wet bags (KangaCare) or diaper pail liners (PlanetWise)
  • 1 smaller wet bag for your diaper bag (Bummis, PlanetWise, or GroVia)
  • 4 doublers for naps and nighttime (the OsoCozy Better Fit infant prefolds work great, and I also love the BabyKicks Joey Bunz hemp doublers)
  • BumGenius Diaper Sprayer for the toilet
  • Diaper pail with a lid(optional)

We live in a small house, so we literally didn’t have room for a diaper pail or a billion diapering accessories. The KangaCare wet bag hangs from the bedroom doorknob within easy reach of the dresser we use as a changing table, and I love it! It fits about 14 diapers, which is the perfect size for 1 load of diaper laundry. It’s also made from a material that is eventually compostable, which I thought was pretty responsible of them. I have one hanging to dry while I’m using the other one for the day’s diapers.

I bought most of my stash from BumRite Diapers, and filled in the blanks with stuff from Amazon.com. Now that Emily is 16 pounds, she’s going to the next size up, and I just ordered a dozen Cloth-eez organic prefolds (red border), 1 medium Imse Vimse wool cover, and 1 Babee Greens medium merino wool cover for her (I love wool covers!) from Green Mountain Diapers. The Thirsties Duo Wrap size 1 covers are going to be retired soon, but the GroVia Hybrids have fit her since she was 8 pounds, and should fit her through potty training! You can also buy used diapers from diaperswappers, craigslist, and eBay.

How You Can Help a New Mom

Newborn EmilyBeing a new mom can be overwhelming. When I gave birth to Emily, I was pretty anemic at first, and walking around made me out of breath quickly. My husband is a teacher, and I birthed the last week of school before summer vacation. He had to go to work and was exhausted himself. Plenty of people wanted to hold the baby to “give me a break.” To them, I ask, “What kind of break did you want to give me?” Holding the newborn baby is the best part. At that time, what I really needed was for ME to hold the baby and rest while other people took care of the finer details of running a house for me. My parents came to visit 3 days after Emily was born and they stayed (in a hotel) for 3 days. Every day, they stopped by the grocery store and brought us rotisserie chicken, olives, sandwiches, smoothie ingredients, and anything else I needed for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. My dad went out to the garden and installed drip irrigation in my vegetable garden for me (I was going to finish installing it before I gave birth, but…). He installed the diaper sprayer on my toilet (for cloth diapers). Every day, Dad vacuumed the carpets and Mom washed and put away the dishes after every meal. In the morning, they would bring breakfast for me (omelettes, fresh fruit, toast…). They ran to the integrative health pharmacy and picked up a jar of my prenatal vitamins for me. They held the baby while I took showers(that’s when other people holding a baby for you comes in very handy!). They came to visit two weeks later, and my mom filled my freezer with black bean chili, chana masala and rice for later. They drove me and Emily to a chiropractic appointment so that we could get there on time (both of us needed adjustments!), and then we drove to the Department of Vital Statistics so that I could fill out a birth certificate application. I am so grateful for their help, and for those of you who want to help a new mom, I have some suggestions for you:

  • Bring breakfast, lunch or dinner. Ask ahead of time if the mom has any requests, or foods she’s avoiding. Organize a phone tree of friends who can bring meals. Bring food that she can easily eat while holding a baby. Corn on the cob and ribs are downright impossible to eat while holding a baby. Try it sometime.
  • Bring extra food (all ready to go in freezer containers) for the freezer. Chicken soup is a winner (unless you’re a vegetarian).
  • Do the dishes. Wash the dishes in the sink and/or run a load in the dishwasher.
  • Take out the trash and/or recycling and/or compost.
  • Clean the house. This includes running the vacuum.
  • Do a load of laundry for her.
  • Go grocery shopping for her. Ask if there’s anything besides groceries she’d like you to pick up (menstrual pads, Tylenol, nursing pads, diapers…). Costco runs for bulk items are deeply appreciated.
  • Ask her if she needs a ride anywhere to do errands. Getting out of the house can be overwhelming, and having a helping hand is the best!

Last but not least, never forget that a mom still appreciates help long after the baby has stopped being a newborn. Emily is 8 months old now, and getting on toward 16 pounds. I have tendonitis in both of my elbows from lifting and carrying her all the time. I’ve also had a bout with symphysis pubis disorder, which seems to be resolving after two months and four chiropractic adjustments, but it’s made walking while carrying a baby challenging to say the least! Now is the time when I appreciate other people offering to hold the baby for me. Babysitting for 30 minutes or an hour is deeply appreciated so that I can rest my elbows and shoulders.

Having a baby and caring for one is very physically demanding, but the emotional rewards run deep. If you’re reading this to help out a new mom, I thank you for her and for all new mothers out there.