Category Archives: Parenting

diaper-cake

Baby Gifts for the second child

It is relatively easy to give presents to new parents: clothes, diapers, toys, pacifiers, bottles, formula, crib, receiving blankets, burp cloths – the list goes on and on. But what about the 2nd or the 3rd child? There is no baby shower to attend – so no gift registry – but if you are close enough to the family, you want to give something. The trouble is that parents usually have everything they need from the first child. Sure, you can pick out blue clothes instead of pink clothes if the parents are expecting a boy instead of a girl, but what if they are expecting their 3rd girl? You don’t want to give them their 15th cute-pink-dress-with-flowers.

There are always gift certificates and cash to give, but I find those items a bit impersonal. Unless you fit in the grandparent or a great-grandparent category, there should be no reason to give something as unmemorable as cash or impersonal as a gift card.  So here, a list of items to consider for folks who’ve become parents for the 5th time:

  • Diapers. Kids poop and pee a lot. If  the parents are using cloth diapers, give them detergent for cloth diapers. I recommend Rockin’ Green Laundry Detergent
  • Snack cups and water cups. They won’t be used by a newborn, but within 6-8 months, the tot will be using them! If the parents have multiple children, these are immensely handy. These items are also usually easily misplaced, so it’s nice to have extras. I really like the Munchkin Snack Catchers
  • Baby plates, spoons, forks. Again, items that get enough usage that they break easily or are lost easily. These items get plenty of use, so they make a good gift.
  • Formula and food. If the parents used formula with their previous kids, it’s likely that they will use it again. There is also a host of baby food – oat cereal, rice cereal, pureed foods, etc. to consider.
  • Crib Sheets. I find having multiple sheets handy – and the previous tots generally use their beds for so long, that they get pretty worn.

Other gifts to consider are items that parents might buy if they have more than one child – for example, a children’s table and chair set. It’s not exactly something parents with one child might buy, but when they’ve got a couple – it’s handy. Especially if the kids are close together in age.  Also remember that items that keep the older siblings busy while the younger one is being tend to also make great gifts. Consider items like outdoor playhouses, sleds (if parents are in an area with a lot of snow), wagons, etc.

Items that organize toys are also useful – houses with lots of kids and toys are usually a big mess, so it’s nice to have something that parents can organize toys with. You can also get items that are personalized for the baby. This can include a hand-knit personalized hat (get a toddler-sized hat that can be worn for multiple years), or a personalized toys. Younger siblings are used to hand-me-downs, so it’s nice to give them something that is theirs and theirs only.

 

Are you a second or third-time parent? What items have you found yourself in the store for to purchase for your younger babies?

GraceSmiling

Cloth diapers? Anyone besides hippies use them?!

People are normally surprised when they learn that I have been using cloth diapers with both my kids (20 months & 5 months old).  No one really thought that we’d still be using them.

Why cloth diapers?

Why not? I am not a particularly “green person” (we have incandescent light bulbs everywhere) and the money wasn’t a major concern for us.  As a woman, I do not enjoy my monthly cycles and wearing pads all day long, so I didn’t think that my kid would be enjoying it either (24/7 for a couple of years?!). There are plenty of questionable and dangerous materials used in making a disposable diaper that I don’t understand why cloth diapering isn’t mainstream (there is actually a study done in 1999 where mice showed respiratory/asthma issues from diapers)! Using cloth diapers just seems like the civilized thing to do, and it really isn’t difficult.

Pros:

  • Cloth diapers these days are as easy to use as disposables.
  • Cloth diapers have simple ingredients (umm, cotton?)
  • Cloth diapers minimize rashes, chemical burns / worrying about recalls.

Cons:

  • Cloth diapers have to be changed more frequently (1-2 pees, and they get pretty soaked).
  • Washing cloth diapers at home requires cloth-diaper-safe detergents (something with no residue, fragrances, etc)
  • Washing cloth diapers at home requires the top-loader machines that use lots of water or HE machines that let you increase water levels. (You’re washing poop and pee. You need water.)

People argue over what is cheaper: cloth or disposable. I, quite frankly, do not care. We only use cloth diapers because we believe it is best  for our kids. We complement our cloth diapers with cloth wipes (just throw them in the wash with the diapers), so as far as I am concerned, the only crap that touches their privates is from their very own intestines.

What options are there?

There are MANY options out there for cloth diapers. I found the information overwhelming. They make cloth diapers look like disposable diapers these days (to make it seem easy) which gives you even more options. I find prefolds to be the easiest (how to put on a prefold diaper) – my husband I mastered using the “bikini” method (you don’t have to use a diaper cover then) within 5-10 diaper changes (so less than a day with a 6 week old baby). These are the items we have on our change table:

  • 18 prefolds (newborns laundry: every day, with my 5 month old & 20 month old, I do it every 3 days)
  • 3 Snappi Fasteners (we lose these easily, so you might want to get more)
  • 3 Aristocrats wool covers (I stand by this brand, others just hold up as well or are not as “pure” in their product)
  • 30+ cloth wipes (my husband uses 4-5 wipes for poo changes, whereas I use 1-2; he can easily go through 30 wipes in a day. I don’t. So it may vary for you.)
  • Bum-bum Balm (rarely used – mostly used if someone let them sleep in a poopy diaper overnight – they end up with a rash then)

Also, once your kid goes past the 15 lbs, you’re going to want the prefolds that go upto 40 lbs. Unless your child is of exceptional weight you should only ever need two sizes of prefolds – the 8-15 lb and 15-40 lb. Our 20 month old is still only at 25 lbs, and I expect her to be potty trained within the year.

Why the wool covers?

Initially, we got the Bummies Diaper Kit which had most of this stuff (except for the wipes and covers), but I would recommend against it if you are planning to get the wool covers.  Now, why the wool covers? Well, the kit came with polyester covers that is more or less waterproof. The problem with these covers is that the binding that goes around the baby’s legs would often leave marks on the baby. It’s elasticy and sort of tight; it also seemed uncomfortable to be wrapped around plastic all day long. Now, the aristocrat wool covers are awesome. They are not scratchy. They wear like pants. They hold a LOT of moisture – I’ve never had one that made  clothes wet (watery newborn poop might leak – but that’ll happen to any diaper). They are long lasting (I might be wrong, but they are still good for me for 20 months of continuous use – two babies, back to back!).

Any regrets?

I deeply regret purchasing our Bosch HE washing machines. They are horrendous at washing these diapers (and our towels). No matter what the load is like – wet towels, heavy load, light load – no matter what – it always uses the same amount of water. Cloth diapers require water to wash properly – or you’ll get ammonia like smells from the urine. You’ll be pulling your hair if you end up with a washing machine that does not let you adjust water levels or if you can’t “trick” your machine to use more water by throwing in a soaking wet towel. Bosch doesn’t let you. It’s frustrating. Now I end up having to give a good rinse to the diaper before putting it in the pail and then throwing soaking wet diapers in the laundry.

(Lest you think the problem is restricted to diapers – I end up having to do the same for towels which, although don’t have urine, tend to stink unless they’re washed in a lot of water.)

grace diaper change

Potty training the infant – Elimination Communication in North America

When my mother first told me that my sister and I were potty-trained by the age of 6 months, I stared at her in disbelief, wondering what part she was exaggerating. She wasn’t. Turns out that elimination communication (EC) is a real thing – and is done in many third-world nations. In North America, it is difficult to practice elimination-communication full time due to the mother often returning to work within months of the baby being born. Typically, you want to start EC before 6 months of age. As a Canadian who enjoys 1-year long maternity leaves, I decided to give EC a try with my kids.

Elimination communication revolves around the idea that babies are born with the desire to pee outside – not in their diapers. In this diaper-run nation, we first train them to pee in diapers, and then re-train them to stop using diapers. This can explain why newborns tend to pee during a diaper change. Evidently, nobody, not even an infant, want to sit in their poo or pee. Based on that premise, you put them on the potty based on cues they give you. It’s pretty close to “attachment parenting.”

With our eldest child, we started at around 6 months of age – late, yes, but I  wasn’t comfortable even holding my child, let alone hold her over the sink or the potty before then. We were successful catching most of her pees – she would even wake up with dry diapers and go in the morning, in the sink (we held her over the sink to go pee). We had no successes with her poo – possibly because she wasn’t aware of how to control that muscle by then. We had a good run for 3 months or so, until I decided to go back to work early and we stopped taking her to pee entirely. Now, at 19 months of age, she has absolutely no muscle control and is a typical toddler that resists toilet training.

I decided to try again with our second daughter, Emma – starting at roughly 3 months of age. A month later, it’s fantastic. I miss maybe 1 pee a day. She poos and pees outside. Instead of the sink, we got a portable potty and that’s what I put her on. It’s incredibly convenient – no one has to hold the baby over the sink (can be tiring). She wakes up with a dry diaper and goes right when I put her on the potty. She normally squirms or makes a distinctive noise/cry when she wants to use the potty. We’ve been going for a whole month so far, and it’s been a rewarding experience. We were hoping that our toddler would possibly start using the potty too, but she normally doesn’t make it to the potty until she is done her business….

Training Emma was a fair bit of work in the beginning – I (or my husband/mother/sister – whoever was in the house and able to help) would put her on the potty whenever I think she might go. I’d try before a feeding; if she didn’t go, try immediately after a feeding. If she still didn’t go, try in a few minutes. She’d normally go by then, but if she didn’t, then I’d be trying every 15 minutes until she did. It took me a little while to be tuned into her schedule – i.e. figuring out when she pees (before she wakes up or after?), when she poos (i.e. 10 or so minutes after her waking up), etc. At the same time, she was also getting used to my schedule. She learned that I put her on the potty first thing in the morning, so she’d try to poo after her pee (before she’d wait 10 minutes or so). I have no idea how, but she knows what a potty is – I can put her over a normal toilet, and she’ll go. She doesn’t go anywhere else (i.e. just stares at me if I hold her over the sink). So there is a lot going on in that little brain!

I intend to continue doing this with Emma until hopefully, she can walk to her potty and sit her bum on it. I have my fingers crossed that both my daughters would be potty-trained at the same time!

Some suggestions for those who are wanting to try EC…

  • Use cloth diapers. Cloth diapers don’t hold a whole lot pee in them – the child pees twice, and you must change. Where with disposables, people normally wait till it’s “pretty full” or has poo in it. This combined with the fact that disposable diapers normally have a “stay dry” feature, the child “forgets” that there is anything going on (cannot recognize cause & effect). Let your child feel wet when he has peed, and let yourself know right away when the child has peed. This will help you understand their schedule better. I recommend Bummies Prefolds (you’ll need about 2 dozen) with Snappi Cloth Fasteners (1 pack will suffice) and Aristocrats Wool Diapers (you’ll need 3-4). I highly recommend the wool diaper covers over the plastic/vinyl stuff that comes in the Bummies Starter Kit.
  • Get a used portable potty. We got ours from a thrift store for about $5. Sitting with a child on the potty for 5-10 minutes, and doing so repeatedly can be frustrating. If you have the potty near the living room or a common area, anyone can be convinced to help you out. It’s far less boring and doesn’t seem like a whole lot of work.
  • Be consistent. I make it a point to get up right when my daughter wakes up, because I know she is holding her pee in and waiting for me to take her to the potty. None of the “5 more minutes!” By the time she is up in the morning, she has been waiting for a while, so I get up right away. I make it a point to take her regularly on the potty – just as I take myself – to make sure that she doesn’t have to go in her diaper. I also take her to the potty when we are visiting someone’s house or other people are over – there is a toilet everywhere, so there should be no excuse.
  • Be persistent. It is really hard the first few weeks. It’s a pain to keep taking her clothes on and off to put her on the potty, but it is well worth the rewards. Trust me, you don’t want to keep washing your toddler’s poop for the next 2-3 years of your life.
  • Involve others. Get everyone involved – this is not something that you (as a mother) should have to do. Have Dad take her to the potty in the evenings. Have family over? Ask them to just hold your daughter over the potty. Most people are surprised that the kid goes, but once they see that the kid did go, they believe in the success and will be less reluctant to help in the future.
  • Every pee matters! Every pee you catch is a sign that she is learning muscle control – so congratulate yourself each time you catch her pee! And don’t worry, if you missed one, there will always be another :) Try your best!

I recommend Diaper Free Baby for reading on this subject matter. There is also a wealth of information at their website.