Mar 252013
 

We are so excited to share the following post from Giselle Shardlow.  Giselle is a children’s author of Kids Yoga Stories. She hopes to inspire children by drawing from her experiences as an international primary school teacher, yoga teacher training graduate, world traveler, mother, and yogi. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and daughter. Her yoga-inspired children’s books can be found at www.kidsyogastories.com or on Amazon worldwide.

As I come out of my new-momma fog, I’ve been enjoying the process of integrating yoga back into my life, but in a much different way. This new way supports my life as a stay-at-home mom and new business owner.

I’m finding that attending a yoga class at our local studio isn’t as feasible as it was before giving birth. However, I still yearn to feel focused, calm, grounded, inspired, confident, and balanced – all things that I get out of a regular yoga practice.

Ways for busy moms to keep up their yoga practice:

  1. Schedule 10-20 minutes every day. Some people say that a new habit can be formed in 21 days. This new habit needn’t take up a lot of time. Try practicing a simple yoga sequence every day at the same time for about 10 minutes. I often set a daily reminder on my iPhone. In our house, when our daughter just wakes up for the day works great for me. Start with a few Sun Salutes, and then see where the practice leads you.
  2. Set up a yoga-friendly environment. I find that the practice of unrolling my yoga mat in the same place every day (okay, most days… who am I kidding?) was helpful for our daughter to see that it was a specific ritual we did together, just like brushing our teeth. She now proudly brings out her little yoga mat from The Little Yoga Mat. The space then becomes sacred to the process.

    Yoga for Busy Moms - Kids Yoga Stories on Alldonemonkey.com

    My Jade yoga mat, with our daughter’s little yoga mat.

  3. Download yoga classes. YouTube, Yoga Download, Live Yoga Life, and many other sites have loads of great classes. You can choose classes from 20 minutes long up to 1 ½ hours. Classes are often targeted to your specific needs, as well. Yoga videos also provide variety. If you’re just starting out or have been practicing yoga for years, following along to an instructor still comes in handy.
  4. Find a yoga partner. Being accountable to someone else is super motivating. Set up a relationship with your yoga buddy and text or email after your practice to celebrate stepping onto the mat. I found this relationship to be invaluable especially on days where exhaustion was winning out and I really just wanted to sleep or read. I always felt better after the yoga practice and was grateful for the support of my yoga partner.
  5. Look after yourself. Be gentle with yourself. Celebrate what you do, not what you’re not doing. With the hormonal soup pumping through your body, it can be easy to engage in self-destructive thoughts. Focus on building a positive mindset. A little fresh air or time reading a book might be just the thing to help you be handle a crying baby or a toddler tantrum. Allow yourself to momentarily shut down, then reboot.

    Yoga for Busy Moms - Kids Yoga Stories on Alldonemonkey.com

    Some books and magazines that I’m reading right now.

  6. Practice mindfulness. With our monkey minds full of things we should be doing or fuzzy and muddled from lack of sleep, it is easy to become unaware of our surroundings. Bring yourself to the present moment by focusing on your breath. When you do the dishes, think only of the dishes and breathe. When you are changing a diaper, think only of connecting with your baby and breathe. This sounds crazy, but you’ll begin to notice how much time you spend thinking about the past and future, and not the present.
  7. Do restorative poses regularly. Get those legs up the wall or recline back with your legs supported in butterfly pose. Even relax in Resting (Corpse) Pose on your back with your arms and legs spread out. Search YouTube for “Yoga Nidra” and listen to a 20-minute guided relaxation. Do this often. Please. It will make a world of difference to surrender into relaxation.

    Yoga for Busy Moms - Kids Yoga Stories on Alldonemonkey.vom

    The yoga mat, bolster, blocks, and Relaxation CD that I use for Yoga Nidra.

  8. Focus on your breathing. Sounds simple, right? But so often, we find ourselves disconnected from our breath, breathing quick, shallow breaths into our chest. Instead, engage in full belly breaths to fill your lungs entirely and exhale completely. When you are pushing your little one on the swing, take a moment to focus on your breathing. When you are watching them in the bath, breathe. When you are taking a bus ride together, hold them close and breathe. Sit cross-legged, close your eyes, and breathe. My daughter comes to sit on my lap when I take a moment to meditate. It’s precious. Motherhood teaches me to appreciate the simple things in life, and I feel better for it.
  9. Reach out. If you would prefer to attend a weekly yoga class at your local studio, honor that, and ask for help in looking after your little ones. If you need to talk through your self-destructive thoughts, ask a supportive friend for an ear. The old saying that it takes a village to raise a child is definitely true. Be in tune with your needs, reach out to ask for help, and give yourself some time and space to rejuvenate. Parenting is definitely the hardest thing that I’ve ever done. For those of us who don’t live near family, it’s even more important to ask for help. Parenting is not meant to be a solo journey. Create the community of support you need.
  10. Let yoga be in your life. Yoga is so much more than doing a Downward-Facing Dog. The yoga principles outlined in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, translated by Alistair Shearer, teach us about breathing, doing things for others, sitting quietly, concentrating on a single task, being productive and happy, positive thinking, breathing deeply, and relaxing. Look for ways to integrate yoga beyond just the physical postures. I love singing “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu” to my daughter right before I put her down to bed at night. Translated from Sanskrit, it reads: “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to the happiness and freedom to all.” Allow this ancient wisdom to seep into your life naturally… and embrace all its magic.
Yoga for Busy Moms - Kids Yoga Stories on Alldonemonkey.com

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali book that was required reading during our Yoga Teacher Training.

 

I’d LOVE to hear from you if you have any other suggestions on how to practice yoga as a mom; please email me at giselle at kidsyogastories dot com. There are no rights or wrongs and no perfect formula. Yoga is a journey, an experience, and a lifestyle. Just be yoga, speak the truth, and live your passion. Why not, right?

If you are interested in more information, read about the benefits of storytelling and yoga for children or the history of yoga. Also, check out Giselle’s yoga-inspired children’s books on her Kids Yoga Stories website or on Amazon worldwide. Get more free kids yoga resources in your inbox by signing up for her weekly newsletter, or check her out on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Feb 072013
 
 February 7, 2013  babywearing 4 Responses »

While we are enjoying some extra snuggle time with the Monkeys, we are so pleased to be able to bring you a series of posts from some of our favorite bloggers.

Today’s post comes to you from Carolyn of The Pleasantest Thing.  Carolyn and I are fellow members of Kid Blogger Network and share a dedication to natural parenting.  When I was expecting Baby Monkey, I knew I wanted to learn more about baby wearing, since I only had experience with a couple carriers.  Carolyn kindly volunteered to write a post comparing carriers, despite the fact that she is a well-established blogger and really didn’t know me well.  In other words, she had no personal obligation to help me out, she was just being kind!

So help me return the favor by visiting her incredible blog – you won’t be disappointed!

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Hi! I’m excited to be posting here at All Done Monkey. Thank you for having me. I’ve gotten so much use out of our baby carriers, that today I wanted to share some of the insight into the different options for baby carriers.

finding the right baby carrier

I knew when I was first pregnant that I would want to try baby wearing. It felt natural. I could hold my little guy close, and still be able to move around. He’s happy, and I’m happy. I’ve had two children, and both of them spent hours and hours snuggled close to me or my husband, in a carrier. Our youngest is now 18 months, and we still use our Ergo carrier with him!

However, once I made the decision to try baby wearing, I was overwhelmed by all the choices. I searched and comparison shopped, and still couldn’t get a good picture of which type if baby carrier would suit me best. I’ve had experience with 4 different types of slings, and I have a short review of them below, giving the advantages and drawbacks to each.

Sling Carriers

I’ve tried two different sling carriers: one pouch (non-adjustable, one piece of fabric) and one double ring sling (an adjustable sling). I like sling carriers because they are so cozy, nestling the baby near my heart. Using sling also makes peeking down checking the baby easy.

  • Pouch Sling: This was the first sling I used. It’s great because it does not need to be adjusted. Once you know how to position it, you’re set. My older son, a long and thin baby, spent many hours sleeping in his pouch sling. My younger son, a long and chubby baby, never fit as well into the pouch sling, and cried in it. I only used it rarely for him.

  • Double Ring Sling: I only had the Maya wrap for my second son. Once I figure out how to use it, I loved it. I also love that it has a “tail” of fabric hanging over, that could be used to cover your baby (for shade, for warmth, for privacy while nursing).

Soft Structured Carriers

I also have experience with 2 different brands of soft structured carriers: the Baby Bjorn, and the Ergo. These carriers are especially great for long trips outside, as they distribute the weight more evenly.

  • BABYBJORN Baby Carrier Original – Black, Classic: If I only was able to keep one wrap, I would choose this one. The infant insert that made it possible to use this carrier from the beginning. Once my son outgrew the insert, I used continued to use it, without needing to worry about positioning the insert. The version I have has a hood, which is great for shade or for privacy while nursing. (Once we were out and someone asked my husband if we breastfed our baby. He pointed at me and said, “I think she’s nursing him right now.” No one could tell under the wrap). You can also use this as a back carrier.


  • Baby Bjorn: In this carrier, your child can face forwards or toward you. The drawbacks are that the hip placement and head control necessary to use the carrier make it only useful after your baby is a few months old. Also, in order to have any coverage while nursing you would need to put a cover or a blanket over the baby. I personally did not find it to be as comfortable as the other options. This varies from person to person. The Baby Bjorn was my husband’s carrier of choice. He used it until our sons outgrew it.

Once you decide on the type of carrier you want, check out my tips on using baby carriers. Thank you for letting me share with you today!

Disclosure: affiliate links are used in this post.

Carolyn PictureCarolyn is the writer at The Pleasantest Thing, a website focused on play. She shares play times full of laughter, learning, and imagination. Join in their fun on Facebook, Pinterest, Google Plus, or Twitter.

Jan 032013
 
 January 3, 2013  cloth diapers 4 Responses »

cloth diapers

While we are enjoying some extra snuggle time with the Monkeys, we are so pleased to be able to bring you a series of posts from some of our favorite bloggers. 

Today’s post comes to you from MaryAnne of Mama Smiles, one of the truly nicest people I have run across in the blogosphere.

In addition to our shared interest in multicultural kids’ activities, we are also both big fans of cloth diapering.  Here is a great overview on cloth from MaryAnne, along with some tips for using them!

I’ve been using cloth diapers for over six years now! The layout above is what I used with my two middle children – these days I use flats and Thirsties covers, and you can read more about that cloth diapering system here.

I do care a lot about the environment, but my original reason for trying cloth was selfish. My oldest child’s diapers were constantly leaking, and I figured that, if I was going to wash her outfit every diaper change, I might as well wash the diapers as well. Plus, cloth diapers are cute! I ordered a set of Happy Heiny diapers. They worked great during the day, not so well at night (love my Thirsties covers for night time). They solved the diaper blow-out problem, and my daughter seemed much more comfortable in them! I eventually switched over from velcro to snaps, because snaps are harder to undo and they don’t get stuff caught in them in the wash. I started off using pocket diapers, because they seemed fairly economical but still can be put on just like disposables. With baby #4 I use flats, because they seem to work better, are easier to get clean, and dry super quickly. You can make your own baby wipes, and I’ve switched from pastels to bright colored covers, because bright colors make me happy.

cloth diapered baby - Mama Smiles

Here are a the main benefits we’ve found from using cloth:

  • More comfortable. Would you rather wear paper clothes, or fabric clothes?
  • More economical. Many of my diapers were used for multiple children. I bought new diapers for my youngest, but the flats and covers are still much less expensive than disposables.
  • Cute.
  • Fewer blow-outs. I’ve had only two minor blow-outs with my youngest, and several diapers that would have been blow-outs if she were wearing a disposable diaper.

Want to give cloth a try? I recommend getting flats or prefolds and a handful of Thirsties snap covers. It’s a relatively small investment, and you can see if it works for you. A lot of people wait until their babies are older to start using cloth, but I really recommend starting early! Newborn babies go through a lot of diapers, and disposable diapers tend to leak the most with younger babies.

Have you tried cloth diapers? What system works for you?
mama smiles Thanks to MaryAnne from Mama Smiles for today’s post. MaryAnne lives near Boston, Massachusetts with her husband Mike and their four children. Before having children she spent most of her time teaching and learning; she has degrees in Music, Education, and Medicine and has taught everything from piano lessons and French to research methodology and ethics courses. She is now a stay-at-home mother, and enjoys the learning, creativity, and play that happens naturally in a young child’s everyday life, which she shares on her blog, Mama Smiles. Follow Mama Smiles on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for creative inspiration!

Aug 132012
 

Setting up a nursing spot - Alldonemonkey.comIn the months after your child is born, much of your days (and nights!) will revolve around feeding that sweet little angel.  No single activity, except perhaps diapering, will take up as much of your time.

Luckily, nursing is a sweet, snuggly activity that will provide precious bonding time with your baby.  Here are some practical tips for getting set up so you can enjoy it even more!

Most of the advice below is relevant to breastfeeding, since that’s what we did with our little Monkey.  If you have additional tips for bottle-feeding, please leave them in the comments!

1. Find a comfortable spot.  Since you will be spending so much of your time in your nursing spot, make it a comfortable one.  Step one is to find a good place to sit.  There is, of course, the traditional rocking chair, which is relaxing for mama and baby.  We were afraid of little fingers and hands getting caught under the rockers once baby starting crawling, however, so we opted for a bouncy chair from IKEA: simple yet very comfortable.  Some friends who are expecting a baby soon just purchased a glider, a modern take on the rocking chair.  I had the chance to try it out, and trust me, once you sit down in it you won’t want to get up!Nursing chair with monkey - Alldonemonkey.com

Because we were living in a multi-level condo when our little Monkey was born, I actually set up two nursing spots, one on each of the main floors.  My other nursing spot was the corner of our couch.  It was also very comfortable, so no need to go out and buy a new chair if you’re looking to save a little cash.

Also keep in mind that if you are co-sleeping you can nurse in bed at night.  This is a wonderful way to put you both back to sleep and promotes lots of snuggling.  I waited until my little Monkey was a few months old to start this – partly because it took me a while for us to get the hang of it, and partly because in the very beginning it is important to make sure your little one feeds on both sides (and you will probably need to change a diaper), so I wanted to make sure I didn’t fall back to sleep too soon!  Eventually, though, this was the only way I nursed at night.  Here is a nice overview of nursing positions from La Leche League.

2.Have your gear handy. Make sure to have close at hand everything you will need to nurse.  For me this meant having my Boppy nursing pillow and some burp cloths by my chair.  Speaking of burp cloths, here’s a tip: at the beginning I found that I leaked quite a bit when nursing.  Inevitably after my little Monkey was finished, I would find that the bottom of my bra would be soaked.  This problem goes away eventually, as your baby becomes a more efficient feeder and your body adjusts to producing just the amount of milk s/he needs.  The solution in the meantime?  I just tucked a burp cloth over the bottom of my bra, just under his head.  The burp cloth absorbed the milk, and it provided a nice little cushion for him.

Setting up a nursing spot - Alldonemonkey.com3. Take care of yourself as well.  With all the changes taking place in your household, it can be easy to forget how many changes you are going through.  Even once you recover from childbirth, your body is still adjusting to breastfeeding and childcare.  Especially in the months before your child starts solids (most experts recommend waiting until six months), you need to make sure you are well-fed and well-hydrated.  Providing nourishment for another human being, no matter how small, takes a lot of energy, so make sure to take care of yourself, too.

One tip I learned was to always keep a water bottle next to my nursing chair.  Let each nursing session be a natural reminder for you to have something to drink.  Also, I tended to keep a snack next to my nursing chair.  With a new baby, you tend to be always on the go, so often you don’t realize you need something to eat until you have a moment to stop and sit.  But of course, once you start the nursing session, you can’t just hop up and head to the fridge, so keep something to snack on close at hand.  Nuts or trail mix is great for this.

Note: If you use something like crackers, be sure to put them in a new container that is easy to open.  Not only will this be easier for you to open one-handed, but, especially if your nursing spot is in the bedroom, your partner will appreciate not hearing that crinkle-crinkle of the plastic bag at night.  (I learned this the hard way – sorry, hubby! 🙂 )Setting up a nursing spot - Alldonemonkey.com

4. Keep yourself entertained.  Let’s be real: As much as you love snuggling with your infant, after a while of gazing down at that precious little face and playing with those sweet little toes, your mind will start to drift.  Nursing time is also downtime for mama, so take advantage of it!  It can be a great time to relax and enjoy those things you haven’t had much time to do since your baby was born.  I don’t think I have ever spent as much time on Facebook as I did in the first months of my little Monkey’s life.  I also cleaned out my email inbox, caught up on reading books that had been sitting on my shelf for ages, and actually watched the Winter Olympics!

The great thing about the early months is that your baby is not very distractable, so you can easily read, play on the computer, or watch TV while you nurse.  (For TV watching at night, most TVs have a closed captioning option, so you can watch with the sound off).  We set up a small folding table (like a TV tray) next to my chair, where I kept my laptop, a book, the remote, my water bottle, and a snack.

Another great source of entertainment, especially at night, when you want to keep the lights low, is an mp3 player.  You can listen to some relaxing music or some favorite podcasts.  Your mp3 player will also come in very handy during daytime stroller walks, so take some time to upload things you really enjoy listening to.

For those with older children, nursing your infant will be more complicated.  I’ll have to let you know how this goes for us once Baby Monkey is born!  One idea that I have read, though, is to keep a basket of books or activities for your toddler next to your chair, so you can read or play with him while you nurse.  While this is definitely a juggling act, it can provide some quiet time with your older child and help cut down on jealousy toward the new little one.

Nursing chair with monkey - Alldonemonkey.com

Did you have a special nursing spot?  How did you set it up?

This post has been shared at Crystal and Co’s Mommy Club, One Creative Mommy’s One Creative Weekend, Living Life Intentionally’s TGIF Linky Party, and Made in a Day’s Made U Look Linky.

Aug 092012
 

Peanut butter and jelly fish pie - Alldonemonkey.comOkay, before anyone panics, there is no fish in this fish pie!  That’s just what my little Monkey and I call it because it is shaped like a fish 🙂

It seems like whenever I make a pie (which is fairly often – we love apple pies!), I have leftover dough from the crust.  It’s not enough to do much with, but enough that it seems like a waste to just toss it.

So one day I decided to make my little Monkey a special pie just his size.  At the time, we were going through a very picky stage in his eating habits.  I decided to make a peanut-butter-and-jelly pie, since these sandwiches were one of the things he was refusing to eat.  I shaped the little pie like a fish, hoping it would grab his attention and make him more likely to eat it.  It worked!  He gobbled it up, and now it has become a favorite treat that he expects whenever I make an apple pie.  I love it because it’s healthy, and he loves it because it’s yummy and fun.  Win-win!

Even better, this fish pie recipe is so simple your toddler can help you make it.  Of course, feel free to pull out your cookie cutters or knife and make other fun shapes.  I’m thinking next time we’ll be having a butterfly pie!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Fish Pie

Extra pie crust dough

Peanut butter or other nut butter (I usually use sunflower seed butter, my little Monkey’s favorite)

Jelly, any flavor (I use the apricot jelly left over from making my grandmother’s apple pie recipe)

Cutting Fish Shapes - Alldonemonkey.com

Roll out the pie crust and cut out two identical fish, using either cookie cutters or a paring knife.  You will probably need to cut out one fish and then re-roll to cut the second.  If you are free-handing the shapes, in order to make them match, simply cut out one, then set it on top of the remaining dough and trace around it with your knife.

Making fish pie - Alldonemonkey.com

Lay one fish on your baking sheet and add a layer of nut butter then a layer of jelly, taking care to leave about a quarter-inch edge all the way around.  The layers don’t have to be super-thin, but don’t make them too thick either, or it will be difficult to seal the edges of the pie.  I usually make the layers a little thinner than I normally would when making a sandwich.

Sealing the edges of the fish pie - Alldonemonkey.com

Layer the second fish on top then seal the edges with a fork.  (This was my Monkey’s favorite part: “Mommy make edge, fork.”)

Cut a few slits in the top and bake for 10-15 at 350.  (I do 15 minutes, but our oven tends to run a little cold, so 10-12 minutes should be enough for most ovens).Fish pie ready for oven - Alldonemonkey.com

Serve warm, but be sure not to serve straight out of the oven.  Even when the pie has cooled enough to handle, the filling will be quite hot, so give it a few extra minutes then enjoy!

This post has been shared at Made in a Day’s Made U Look Linky, Taming the Goblin’s Kids Co-op, One Creative Mommy’s One Creative Weekend Happy Whimsical Heart’s Baking with Kids Linky, Living Life Intentionally’s TGIF Linky Party, Bowdabra’s Saturday Showcase, My Life’s a Treasure’s Our Favorite Things, Say Not Sweet Anne’s Sweet Sharing Monday, and True Aim Education’s Mom’s Library.

Aug 062012
 

Cloth Diapers: The Diaper Change - Alldonemonkey.com

My apologies for taking such a long hiatus in our cloth diapering series!  Here is the latest, all about cleaning up those lovely messy diapers!

So you’ve decided to do cloth diapering, and you’ve gotten all of your gear together.  You’ve just taken a moment to sit back and relax a little when – oops!  You discover your sweet little angel has just peed or pooped in one of those cloth diapers you spent so much time assembling.  Now what?

The good news is that cleaning cloth diapers these days is easier than you might think.  We will address laundering your cloth diapers in a future post, but here we’ll take a look at the immediate cleanup you must do at the all-important diaper change.  This is, you might say, the critical moment in the process, where the rubber meets the road or, more appropriately, the cloth meets the bottom.  It is your time to really flex those natural parenting muscles.

Again, please note that this series deals specifically with prefolds and covers, though much of the process will be similar to other cloth diapers.

1. Undo the dCloth Diapers: The Diaper Change - Alldonemonkey.comiapers and deposit the messy stuff in your diaper pail.  (If you need to, take a moment to read more about the diaper pail and other supplies you will need for changing cloth diapers).  If it is poopy, dump the whole thing, cover and all.  If the diaper is just wet, you only need to dump the cloth.  The cover you can just wipe out and hang to air out a bit.  This may seem a little gross at first, but you’ll get used to it!  The truth is that if you dump (unnecessarily) the cover at every diaper change, you will need to have a huge supply of diaper covers, which can get really pricey.  And it really isn’t necessary, so why bother?

2. Now turn your attention back to the little bottom wiggling on the changing table in front of you.  Everyone has a slightly different method for cleaning up their little ones.  This is what works for us:

When just wet: Wet your cloth wipe with a little water and gently wipe the diaper area.  (If you have a boy, make sure you have that little peepee covered from the second you open up his diaper.  If you have a girl, of course remember to wipe front to back).Cloth Diapers - The Diaper Change - Alldonemonkey.com

Make sure to dry the area thoroughly.  Our pediatrician told us that this was actually the most important part, since it is wetness that often causes diaper rashes.

Use any diaper cream, if needed.  (I usually only apply cream if the area looks red).

When messy:  I first clean the area with some Vaseline on a cloth.  This was such a great tip – the poop comes off easily, and it’s much gentler on your little one than having to scrub their bottom to get them clean.

Then make sure to wash the area with some soap and water then clean with a little more water.  We keep some mild soap in a little dish on our changing table.  This step will help reduce rashes and infections.

I almost always use diaper cream after messy diapers, although I usually apply a little Vaseline first, to make sure my little Monkey’s sensitive skin doesn’t get too irritated.

3. Now for the real cleanup.  After you’ve put a clean diaper on your little one, it’s time to take care of the dirty diaper you just put in the pail.  If the diaper was just wet, you’re done.  The wet diaper can wait in the pail until laundry day.  If your baby hasn’t yet started solids, you’re done.  Newborn poop is so runny that it comes out easily in the wash.Diaper Pail

But if your child is eating solids and has just pooped, the real fun is about to begin!  Lug that diaper pail over to your toilet and put on your cleaning gloves to clean that diaper out.  For this step, I highly recommend a diaper sprayer like the one made by bumGenius.  A sprayer is more efficient and effective, meaning that you’ll be done sooner and have done a better job to boot.  Otherwise you just have to swish the diaper around in the toilet until most of the mess comes off.

I tend to flush several times during this step, depending on how messy the diaper is, so I can have fresh water to use.  Yes, this does bring us back to the issue of high water usage with cloth diapers, but I think it really helps.

When you’re satisfied with the results, squeeze excess water out of the diaper and put back in your pail until wash day.  By the way, if you are using a sprayer, take extra care when rinsing out the diaper cover.  Those things are designed to repel water, so if you’re not careful you’ll end up with poopy water all over your walls!

So now you’re really done!  Until laundry day, that is…Stay tuned for a future post to help you out with that as well!

This post has been shared at Milk and Cuddles’ Mommy Club and The Magic Onions’ Friday Nature Table.

Jul 232012
 

Happy Baby SqueezerOur recent three week trip to Costa Rica has made me appreciate quality convenience foods.  While on the road, packaged foods are a necessary evil, so I am grateful that there are so many tasty, healthful options available.

In an ideal world, I would serve my little Monkey only homemade food, but the reality of modern life is otherwise.  Whether you’re traveling or simply need a break from the kitchen, sometimes convenience foods are just want you need.

Luckily, these days this does not mean feeding your child junk food.  There are so many high-quality, nutritious convenience foods out there, that you can easily feed your little one packaged foods without worrying about filling his innocent little tummy with chemicals, dyes, and processed sugars.Annie's Cheddar Bunnies

Here are some of the convenience foods we have discovered that our little Monkey loves and that we as his parents love to give him.

On the Road

Annie’s Bunnies:  Annie’s brand has a number of great products that you can feel comfortable giving to your little ones, plus they are super tasty.  My little Monkey loves the Cheddar bunnies.  One night recently he even fell asleep saying, “More…bunnies…pwease…”

Trader Joe’s Fruit and Nut Trek Mix Granola Bars: So far these are the only granola bars I feel comfortable giving my little Monkey.  Others are either a bit too hard for him to chew or are covered in sugary toppings.  These bars are still sweet but not overly so, and they are full of dried fruits, so they are healthier than many other packaged snacks.  The only caution for feeding these to young children is that they do contain whole almonds.  I usually just make sure to pick those out before giving the bar to my little one.Trader Joe's Cereal Bars

Trader Joe’s Cereal Bars:  These cereal bars are a healthier version of popular cereal bars, with much less sugar and artificial ingredients.  They are sweet but filling and because of their soft texture are especially nice for young children who may not be able yet to munch on granola bars or other crunchy snacks.

Ak-Mak Crackers:  My little Monkey loves crackers, and these are simple, healthy crackers that are also really tasty.  Great alone or served with cheese or nut butter.Ak-Mak Crackers

Squeezers: We discovered these long ago when my little Monkey was just starting solids (see picture at top of post).  They are basically purees in easy to carry squeeze pouches.  My little Monkey loves them because they taste great and the pouches are fun.  We love them because they are a great way to give your child fruits and veggies he might not otherwise touch.  This type of snack has become quite popular, and now many different companies have versions available.   Our favorites are from Happy Baby and Plum Organics, which are all natural and use organic ingredients.  Trader Joe’s also has good (cheaper) versions, although their flavors are not as varied (mostly apple and carrot).Odwalla Mango Tango Juice

Smoothies: As mentioned in an earlier post, many parents (ourselves included) don’t like to give too much juice to their kids, since it can fill them up on too much natural sugar without all of the benefits of the whole fruit.  And yet, there is no way around the fact that kids (and adults!) love juice.  And when our little Monkey was quite small, he was not interested in eating many fruits and vegetables.  The situation is much better today, but we still take any opportunity we can to give him added fruits and veggies.  Smoothies are a great solution, because, unlike plain juice, they usually include more of the whole fruit, just in pureed form.  My favorite brands are Naked Juices and Odwalla.  Great tasting, all natural ingredients, and lots of variety in flavors.

At Home

Just because you’re close to a kitchen doesn’t mean you have time to cook!  Here are some easy dinners and snacks for when you need to get something on the table quickly.Yummy Dino Buddies Chicken Nuggets

Yummy’s Dino Buddies Chicken Breast Nuggets: This was another big hit with our little Monkey.  All kids seem to love chicken nuggets, and this is a relatively healthy version that can be on the table in under a minute.

Trader Joe’s Fish Sticks: I’m not sure if he likes the fish sticks or the ketchup more, but either way, these fish sticks were the first way we were able to get our little Monkey to try fish.  This version has no fillers, and the breading is not greasy, though if you have time I would definitely recommend cooking rather than microwaving them for a crispier texture.  (We use our toaster oven for this.  Not only do we save energy, but they also cook more quickly than in the regular oven).

Cascadian Farms French Fries:  Again, a healthy version of a food kids love.  I love that Cascadian Farms is such a reputable brand of healthful foods.  As with the fish sticks, I recommend cooking them in the oven rather than in the microwave.Cascadian Farms French Fries

What convenience foods do you love?

Please note: I am not receiving any compensation for the above recommendations, just sharing the foods we enjoy.

This post has been shared at Crystal & Co’s Mommy Club, The Magic Onions’ Friday Nature Table, and Naptime Review’s Favorite Product Friday.

Jun 272012
 
 June 27, 2012  natural parenting 6 Responses »
Patient Care Area at Rosser ChiropracticDo you have a fussy baby?  Need relief for an out-of-sorts toddler?  Try chiropractic care!  
Advocates say it can ease an infant’s discomfort after birth and relieve tension in colicky babies as well as older children and adults.  Because of its emphasis on holistic healing and its philosophy of encouraging the body’s natural ability to heal itself, chiropractic is an important element of natural parenting.
Dr. Andy Rosser, D.C., C.C.S.P., is a certified chiropractic sports physician, husband, and father to an amazing almost-nine year old girl.  Oh, and did I mention he’s my big brother?  I interviewed him recently about chiropractic care and how it can be used for children.
1. Tell us about yourself.
I live and practice in Olympia, WA, where my wife, Juliet, and I have been for just over 10 years.  Juliet and I are very involved in the daily functions of the office, and we have a wonderful front-desk assistant named Jessica.  Eight years ago, Juliet and I were blessed with a wonderful little baby girl named Annalise.  She is the joy of both of our lives.  In addition to keeping up with the office and Annie, I am also very fond of cycling, hiking, and exploring the natural world here in the Pacific Northwest.
2.  How did you get involved in chiropractic?
When I was in about 9th grade, my chiropractor at the time suggested that I would make a good chiropractor, and it was like a bell went off.  Even though I didn’t take a direct path to get there, I never really imagined myself doing anything else.  Even though I have lots of other interests, what I’ve learned in my practice is always on my mind.  I guess it’s as close to a “calling” as I can imagine.  Through high school, I got very interested in environmental science and wildlife biology, and that’s the direction my schooling took through college.  Ultimately, my undergraduate work was done in wildlife sciences and that was followed by my chiropractic degree.
3. On your website you talk about the “chiropractic lifestyle.”  What does this include?Bike Fitting Service at Rosser Chiropractic
To me, the chiropractic lifestyle is all the activities and daily choices that we make in taking care of our bodies and feeling good about being in this world.  Since almost all of our activities are choices that we make, I see that as a great opportunity to create good for ourselves.  That concept can be expanded to nutrition, playtime, work, friends, healthcare… so many different things.  There is a physical side to the work I do in the office, but there is also a teaching side to it, when I spend time talking to people about the choices they make and how it might be affecting their lives.
4. How do you think chiropractic can help children?  Are there specific problems that chiropractic can help treat?
Most of the chiropractors I know love working with children because it’s usually easier to tell what they need and to make corrections that last.  One of the things I notice in my practice is that they are much more responsive to chiropractic care than their adult counterparts.  As simple as it seems, it’s because they’ve had less time to develop bad habits or be injured in ways that change how they move their bodies.  As far as specific problems, part of my job is to assess the child and note any concerns the parent has.  I make sure that there are no concerns that need co-management with another healthcare provider, and then determine what kind of care I think will help.  Through chiropractic care, I’ve had kids in my office show improvement in conditions that range from headaches and back pain to bed-wetting and colic.  It really is amazing to me what happens when bodies express their ability to heal.  And it, of course, makes me feel quite lucky to be able to experience this.
5.  How early do you recommend getting kids started with chiropractic?Reception Area at Rosser Chiropractic

I’ve been a chiropractic patient for most of my life, and I know that will sound odd to people who haven’t even experienced it for themselves as adults!  I have taken care of my own daughter since she was an infant.  Of course, you might say it started earlier than that because I got to see her spine on ultrasound before she was even born.  What a beautiful spine that kid had!

In my office I typically see children when they have some kind of symptom that is causing a parent some concern.  It could be an earache, colic/reflux, pain, etc.  I would love to see as many kids as I can, though, even without these typical symptoms, though, because most of the time, a busy, energetic child won’t tell a parent that they are suffering.  Some of the questions I ask a parent with regards to a child is whether they have been sleeping well, eating well, and interacting in a way that is typical for them.  Any changes in those patterns could be a sign that it’s time for a check up and chiropractic care.

6. How can parents find chiropractors that are experienced in dealing with children?Waiting Area at Rosser Chiropractic

Some of the ways that people find me in my office are through other parents.  These peer referrals are great ways to find a healthcare provider because your friends usually already know you well enough to know that you are going to like the doctor/office/staff/experience, and that means a lot.  Other ways that people find me are through some of the midwives, doulas, and massage therapists in the area.  Just like having a friend refer you, these people also know you well enough to make a good referral to a compatible practitioner.

Aside from all of that, a chiropractor who loves working with kids will often have done continuing education in pediatrics and may be a member of the International Chiropractic Pediatrics Association (http://icpa4kids.org/)  In recent years, it’s become quite common for parents to set up an appointment to interview me, check out the office, and see for themselves whether they feel comfortable with what we have to offer.

7.  Any other thoughts you’d like to share?
Many parents are concerned about bringing their child to a chiropractor because they associate treatment with manual treatment style, popping sounds, and the like.  In my office I prefer to use hand-held tools that provide a gentle tapping to the spinal areas that I want to move, and that doesn’t involve any twisting movements that would cause the popping sounds.  I will often combine that with gentle manual treatments, but always with very light force.  As I said earlier, children respond well to very light adjustments, and nothing more than that is required for the type of treatment that chiropractors provide.  It follows a principle that I love to live by, and that is that the body loves to be whispered to, not yelled at.  Taking care of children is a daily delight because it follows that principle so beautifully.
All photos are used courtesy of Rosser Chiropractic.
Visit Dr. Andy and Rosser Chiropractic online:
Dr. Andy Rosser, Rosser Chiropractic

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This post has been shared at Taming the Goblin’s Kids Co-op, The Magic Onions’ Friday Nature Table, and Natural Mothers Network’s Seasonal Celebration Sunday.

Jun 102012
 

Getting Started with Cloth Diapers: What You WIll Need - Alldonemonkey.com

So you’ve considered cloth diapers and decided to take the plunge.  Where to get started?

First of all, check out the resources listed on our newly updated Natural Parenting Resource Page for some great overviews about getting started with cloth diapering.

Below is a list of items you will need, based on my experience with prefold diapers.  While most comments will apply to any type of cloth diaper, please note that some details may vary.Getting Started with Cloth Diapers: What You Will Need - Alldonemonkey.com

1) The Diapers

While there are many kinds of cloth diapers out there, I have had great success with the prefolds.  They are easy to use and clean and adjust easily as your child grows.  What are prefolds?  Basically, they are the soft cotton insides – the actual diapers themselves – that are folded into diaper covers.  The prefolds are the real workhorses of your ensemble, absorbing everything your baby outputs.  In the olden days, most moms would have gotten by with just these and some clothes pins.

There is no particular brand of prefold diapers, since they are basically the same no matter where you get them.  We bought these Indian Prefolds from Jillian’s Drawers (“Indian” referring to the type of cotton).

How many do you need?  Opinions vary, plus it depends a bit on your budget.  Green Mountain Diapers has some great buying guidelines based on how much you are able (or willing) to spend.  When my little Monkey was a newborn, I started with 3 dozen cloth diapers, but soon found I was able to cut back by about half a dozen. Generally you want enough diapers to last you at least two days in between washings.

As your child grows, you will be able to get buy with even fewer, especially when s/he reaches toddlerhood.  Why?  Older kids have more control over their bodily functions and are able to go for longer periods without needing to be changed, one of the physical signs of readiness for potty training.

2) The Covers

If you are using pre-folds, you will also need a number of waterproof covers for them.  These guys are your last, best defense against having to change yet another outfit for your newborn (can’t help with spit-up outfit changes, sorry!).  There are many great brands out there, but I really loved Bummis Super Whisper Wraps when my little Monkey was a newborn.  When he got a little older we graduated to Bummis Super Brite covers.  These worked really well until he was about a year old and so much more active.  At that point we discovered that snap closures (not velcro) did the job better and, well, kept our floors cleaner.

How many do you need?  You don’t need as many covers as diapers, since unless you are changing a poopy diaper you can usually just wipe the cover clean and reuse it (more on cleaning your cloth diapers in a future post).  We started with about 5 covers but quickly realized we needed more.  In the end we had about 10-12 covers when my little Monkey was very young.  Today, however, we are back to just 5, which is fine for a toddler.

Getting Started with Cloth Diapers: What You Will Need - Alldonemonkey.com3) The Wipes

I think there is a place for disposable wipes:  They are easy to use on the road and work well to clean everything from your baby’s bottom to your toddler’s hands to the table at the restaurant (just don’t use the same one for all three! 🙂 )  But when possible I strongly prefer to use cloth wipes.  They are much gentler on a baby’s soft skin, plus you automatically eliminate so much waste by making the switch to cloth.

You can make your own cloth wipes (I will be trying it myself soon, so watch for this in a future post!), or you can purchase them online (we have these Thirsties wipes – they are a little pricey, but they are wonderful!)

One thing I would not recommend is using baby washcloths.  I tried it, and it was terrible!  They worked for the first few cycles, but after too many times going through the laundry they lost all absorbency.  To the point that whenever I tried to pour a little water on them to clean my little Monkey’s bottom, the water would bead and roll right off the cloth.

 

4) The Water Bottle

When I got started with changing diapers, at each diaper change I would first run to the bathroom and wet the cloth wipe and then run back to the changing table to try and find a place to set the wet cloth until I was ready for it.  This routine got old very quickly, especially since in my new mother’s haze I would often forget to wet the cloth until the baby was already undressed on the changing table.

So instead I started keeping a little water bottle on the changing table.  I actually used the bottle they gave me for myself when I was in the hospital after Monkey was born.  (Does that bring back memories for anyone??)

While there are many recipes out there for cleaning solutions, I have found that plain water works just fine, although we also keep a bar of soap in dish nearby to help clean up after poopy diapers.

5) The Diaper Pail

You will need some kind of diaper pail to hold all of your messy diapers until it is time to do laundry.  You don’t need anything fancy, just something with a well-fitting lid.  We actually had a hard time finding something at the store, since most diaper pails are designed for disposable diapers.  In the end we found the Safety 1st Easy Saver pail shown below, which has held up remarkably well after a great deal of use.

6) The Diaper Pail LinersDiaper Pail

What makes modern cloth diapering so much easier than it was for our mothers and grandmothers is the invention of the washable diaper pail liner.  Thanks to this remarkable item, when you go to do laundry, you don’t even have to touch the dirty diapers.  Simply dump the contents into the washing machine, turning the bag inside out as you go, and then drop the bag in with the rest!  Easy peasy!

We have been very happy with our Planet Wise Diaper Pail Liner.  It works well and has lasted a long time.  Whichever brand you choose, just make sure to purchase two liners, so that you have one to use while the other is in the wash.

7) The Diaper Sprayer

Okay, this one is really optional, but I can’t imagine doing without my bumGenius Diaper Sprayer.  You have to install it on your toilet, but it makes rinsing off poopy diapers so much easier than trying to do it by hand.  Well worth the investment!

Keep in mind that you don’t have to rinse off the poopy diapers until your baby starts eating solids, especially if you are breastfeeding.  Before then the poop is so runny that this extra step isn’t necessary.  (Sorry, too much information??)

So there you have it!  My recommendations on essential cloth diapering gear.  Please note that I have not been compensated in any way for the product recommendations above.  Just trying to share the love a little by letting you all know what worked for us.

Stay tuned for the next post in our series on cloth diapering, when we tackle the indelicate topic of cleaning your cloth diapers!

This post has been shared at New Nostalgia’s Anti-Procrastination Tuesday, Milk and Cuddles’ Mommy Club, Quick and Easy’s Healthy 2Day Wednesday and Natural Mother’s Network Seasonal Celebration Sunday.

May 202012
 

Considering Cloth Diapering?  What You Should Know - Alldonemonkey.com

This series of posts is dedicated to dear little S., due in September.  Her parents’ questions about cloth diapering are what inspired me to share what I’ve learned.

Interested in (or at least curious about) cloth diapering, but not sure where to start?

The good news is that since so many more people are choosing to do cloth diapering, so there are tons of resources available.  The bad news is that because so many more people are choosing to do cloth diapering, there are tons of resources available – as if you didn’t have enough decisions to make with a new baby coming soon!

I do not claim to be an expert on all the myriad kinds of cloth diapers available.  I will admit right now that I have never tried pocket diapers, for example, only pre-folds and covers.  The truth is that after a minimal amount of research I decided to just go with what my sister used.  After all, she loved pre-folds, and I trust her opinion, plus I knew I would always have a resource close at hand!Considering Cloth Diapering? - Alldonemonkey.com

So what follows in this new cloth diapering series reflects my experience with pre-folds, although many of the observations will apply to all cloth diapers.  I hope to have a guest post soon giving an overview of all the cloth diaper options available, so stay tuned!

Still Making Up Your Mind?

Not sure whether you want to use cloth or disposables?  Here are some arguments in favor of cloth diapering:

1. Better for the environment (except for, you know, all that water…)  There have been a few times when traveling that we’ve used disposable diapers exclusively, and the amount of waste generated was incredible.  Yes, you do use a lot more water with cloth because of all the extra laundry, but don’t they use a lot of water making the disposable diapers?  Plus, the truth is that with a child we waste a lot more water generally.  Think of summertime sprinklers and playing at the sink! The extra water seemed less of a problem to me than the extra waste.

 

2. Better for your wallet – Again, you could argue that you will have a higher water bill because of the extra laundry, but we did the calculations once (unfortunately I didn’t save them!) and it was still much cheaper to use cloth diapers.  According to Whole Living magazine (April 2012 issue), the cost per child is $170 for cloth vs. $725 with disposables.  You will have some sticker shock because of the cost of the initial investment in the diapers, but if you think that’s bad, wait until you realize how many packages of disposable diapers you will go through in a week!  I used disposables exclusively once when traveling, and it seemed like we were buying more diapers literally every other day.

3. Better for your baby’s bottom – I have read arguments both ways about whether cloth or disposable diapers lead to more diaper rash.  I can only say that my little Monkey does much better with cloth.  The evidence? Whenever we travel and he exclusively uses disposable for a few days, he ends up with a rash.  I suspect that a large share of the blame goes to the disposable wipes, which I dislike more than the actual disposable diapers, but the diapers certainly don’t help.  My little boy has inherited my sensitive skin, and it definitely reacts to the disposable materials.

Considering Cloth Diapers? - Alldonemonkey.com(A couple tips, if you do have to go with disposables for a time: Invest in better, more natural diapers.  They are more expensive, but easier than combating a bad case of diaper rash.  Plus it will give you less heartburn over not using cloth during that time.  Seventh Generation is perhaps the best known brand and probably the most environmentally friendly, though I have heard mixed reviews about performance.  I personally love Huggies Pure & Natural.  And if you have to use disposable wipes, make sure to dry off the diaper area afterwards with a soft cloth.  More than anything, this step helped with our diaper rash problem).

But in the bigger picture, I also worry a great deal about the long-terms effects of having all those chemicals from disposable diapers get up close and personal with my little Monkey’s special parts.  And in the end, that was what sold me on cloth diapers, hands down.

4. Better for potty training – Although we haven’t quite gotten to this stage ourselves (just beginning!), the idea is that cloth diapers allow your little one to actually feel when he is wet or messy and so help him know when he needs to be changed, the first step in helping him be aware of his bodily functions.  In fact, many disposable-wearing toddlers are switched into cloth training pants when it comes time to potty train for this very reason.

Before you jump in…

So now you know why I love cloth diapers.  But I am going to spill the beans on some of the downsides of cloth diapering, at the risk of driving some people away, just because I think it is better to know what you are getting into.

1.It is messier. No way around it, cloth diapers are more messy.  Unless you opt for a cleaning service (we decided not to after learning that the one in our area would return any old kids’ diapers to you, so you were essentially sharing used diapers with a wide range of other kids out there), you will be dealing with a whole bunch of soiled diapers.  Diapers in general are messy, but with cloth you have the added bonus of needing to rinse out the poopy ones in the toilet.  (Although to be honest I never started doing this until my little Monkey really started eating solids – breastmilk poops are so runny and less smelly that there’s not really a need for this extra step).

2. It can be stinky. If you have a sensitive sense of smell, beware.  Fortunately I don’t, but unfortunately, other members of my household do, and we have had to take extra steps (lots of baking soda, washing frequently, adjusting our diaper pail) in order to deal with the smell.  Having said that, I should also mention that we also have to take extra steps with disposable diapers (double bagging before tossing), so the smell is definitely there with those, too.  The main difference is that disposables you can bag and toss whenever you feel like it, while the diaper pail full of dirty diapers has to sit and wait a few days until it is time to do another load of laundry.  There are steps you can take to lessen the smell, however, which I will address in a future post.

3. It is more time-consuming.  Again, this mainly applies to the clean-up after your baby starts eating solids.  The actual changing takes no more or less time than with disposables.  But once baby starts eating solid foods, you will have to take some time to rinse out the diapers in the toilet before throwing them in the diaper pail.  Also, you will have to change your baby more frequently, since, unlike disposable diapers, the diapers still feel wet after they have peed.  (Doesn’t that make you wonder, though, what’s in those diapers that allows your baby to feel dry even after peeing?) And all time needed to do all that extra laundry can add up.  Since I am at home full-time, however, it really doesn’t take much extra effort to wash the diapers, which I typically do every third day.

4. Your baby will have a super-butt.  I guess you could consider this an advantage or a disadvantage 😉 but wearing cloth diapers will definitely change your little one’s silhouette.  Cloth diapers are just bulkier, and my little Monkey has to wear pants up to a size larger when he’s in cloth than he does when he’s in disposables.  Of course, all that extra padding came in handy when he was first learning to walk!

So where does this leave you?  In the end, every family must choose what is best for its particular situation.  One thing parenthood has taught me is the danger of judging other people’s choices.  Raising kids, especially when you are trying to do it in a conscious, conscientious way, is just plain hard.  So make your decision something that you can live with, regardless of what others tell you to do.

I chose to do cloth diapers, and I have no regrets.  In fact, it is one of the choices of which I am most proud.  I’d like to think my little Monkey’s bottom will thank me for it one day.

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