Baby, family, Pregnancy

Cloth Diapering Part 4 – How Do I Cloth?

Welcome to part 4 of my Cloth Diapering series. We’ve talked about why you should try cloth, what the options are and what other bits and bobs you might need. Let’s talk about how I (as in me, Heather) cloth diaper as well as the basic How Tos for the Average Cloth Diaper-er.

cdpart4

Ok, so this is it. You have everything you need. It’s time to get started.

  1. Organize your cloth stuff somewhere where you will be able to easily access it during diaper changes. Stuff your pocket diapers, have your snappies and wipes within reach. Basically, be ready for a baby bum.
  2. Take one diaperless or stinky-butted baby or toddler and bring them to where ever you have gathered your diapering stuff.
  3. Remove clothes and diaper you wish to replace. Cloth diapers that are soiled go in wet bag. If baby is eating solids, be sure to scrape/shake/spray poop into toilet first.
  4. Pick the cloth you want to use.
  5. Put it on the baby.
  6. Rejoice
  7. Smell something funky or hear complaining baby, start back at step 2.

About twice a week, take your wet bag of diapers to the laundry area of your choice, wash and dry. Start back at step 1.

It’s pretty simple, really. Oh, you want more details? Well, sure! I’ll do my best to take some pictures without flashing you poor Mason’s bits.

Prep Your Diapers

  • Wash all of your diapers, whether they are new or used. Follow the instructions provided by the brand for washing. Make sure to wash all of your like fibers together. So, hemp is washed with hemp, cotton with cotton, etc… This is important because hemp and bamboo have natural oils that may cause issues for your other materials after washing.
  • Prefolds needs to be prepped before use. This means washing them a few times or boiling them in a large stock pot. This opens up the fibers and makes them more pillowy and absorbent.

What I do: For new all in one or pocket diapers, I do one warm wash with an extra rinse, with detergent. I then do a dry in the dryer on medium or low, anything still damp goes out in the sun. For new prefolds, I boil them (like fiber with like fiber) and then toss them in the dryer. For covers, I wash them on a regular cycle with detergent and put them up outside to dry. Make sure when washing anything with velcro/hook and loop that all tabs are folded in so as to not catch and damage your diapers.

For used diapers, I do a bleach soak to sanitize. I fill my bathtub with water and add a very small amount of bleach. I then soak the diapers for a few hours. I then ring them out and run them through my regular wash routine.

  • Stuff your pocket diapers with whatever insert you want to use. Remember that if you want to use boosters or need to fold your inserts that boys need extra absorbency in the front and girls need it in the middle.
  • For Hybrid diapers, attach one of the inserts so that the diaper is ready to go. Have extra inserts near by for the following change.
  • Sort your prefolds by size
  • Snap your diapers or covers if you need to size them (ie: if you are diapering a newborn, you will need them snapped to the smallest setting. If you are diapering a toddler, make sure all the snaps are undone). One size diapers may have elastics in the legs that need to be adjusted as well.

Organize Your Space

Make sure your diapering station is all set to go. Everyone does this differently. Do what whats for you.

What I do: My diapering area is in the family room, where we spend most of our time. I have one large bin for all of my diapers, one small bin for my extra inserts and bits and bobs. The pack and play has an attached organizer, in which I have wipes, bum cream and snappies. My wet bag is hanging near by and my diaper genie (for disposables diapers and wipes) is right there.

Put the Diaper on your Baby

  • As I mentioned up top, this is the straight forward part. Put the diaper on your baby.
  • All in Ones go on just like a disposable diaper if they are velcro, otherwise you just have to do the snaps to whatever size works for your baby.IMG_20160527_060616
  • Pocket diapers go on like disposable diapers, assuming you’ve already stuffed them. If not, do so.
  • Fitted Diapers are a two step process. First, put the fitted diaper on your baby (much like a disposable diaper). Once on, put the cover over top the same way. It will be quite bulky but super absorbent.IMG_20160525_110930IMG_20160525_111005
  • Hybrid diapers need their inserts snapped or tucked in (depending on the brand), and then you put them on babyIMG_20160525_083507
  • Prefolds can go on in a bunch of different ways. I suggest checking out this site for a few options. After the prefold goes on, put on your cover. Here’s a couple ways I do it:

With all of these, make sure that the insert covers all the parts it needs to cover, and that none of the inner fabric or fleece is peeking out the leg holes or out the top.

IMG_20160525_111056

Go About Your Life

  • Yep. Dress your baby and do your thing. You may find that you have to size up pants for them to fit on your kiddo’s adorable fluffy bum.  They also make snap extenders for onesies that you can get.
  • You may find that you need to change your baby more often. Babies feel wetness in cloth, where as in disposables the diaper falls away from their body. That said, you may find you need to check baby more often too, as the tell tale diaper sag doesn’t happen with cloth.

Change Your Baby

  • When Baby is dirty, it’s time to change that diaper. Unsnap or undo the hook and loop and the snappi if in prefolds. You can reuse the cover if the binding is unsoiled. Simply wipe the PUL or lining. If the binding is wet or has poop, throw it in the wet bag. For pocket diapers you need to remove the insert before washing, so I try to remember to remove it before putting it and the diaper in the wet bag. For Hybrid diapers, just unsnap the insert and reuse the cover if its clean.
  • Wipe with either a disposable wipe or a cloth wipe.
  • If you need bum cream, be sure to use just a tiny bit of cloth safe cream, like Eco Chic Movement or Substance.
  • Put on another adorable cloth diaper.

There you have it, folks! The basics on how to cloth. I hope this series has been able to help demystify cloth diapers for you. Please let me know if you  have any questions or a theme for another post in this series (or another series entirely!) Thanks for reading!

 

The rest of the Baby Basics Series:

Baby, family, Review

Cloth Diapering Part 2: What is it?

On any one of my shifts, I knew that I some point I would encounter it. I could spot the look from across the store. I knew it well, you see. I had had it once (or twice, or many times) too. What is the look, you ask? The look of “Holy crap, that is a whole freaking wall of diapers! What are they all? How are they different? I just want to make sure my kid doesn’t pee on me and all my things!

Cloth diapering sounds simple in theory. I mean, for the longest time it was the only option out there. So, why is it when we start looking in to it do we find ourselves completely and totally overwhelmed by information? Because, my friends, this is a time when you are already being told by a million companies and stores that you NEED all this baby stuff, and without x, y and z, you will have a miserable child who will never sleep or eat or thrive blah blah blah. Look at the options! The colours! The features!

My goal here to is avoid all that pressure and insanity. Like anything else in the commercial baby world, cloth diapers can be as insane and as complicated as you want it to be, OR as simple. Try to remind yourself, that at the end of the day, we are talking about things that catch pee and poop. No matter what you choose, your kid is going to be ok.

Say it with me, please. Your kid is going to be ok.

So, take a deep breath and walk with me into the world of cloth. Take your time. Any of these options will do the job. There is no right or wrong answer here.

cdpart2

We live in a world, at least here in Canada, where disposables are tops. With that in mind, how about we start with the diapers that are closest to throwing a disposable on, moving towards the types that your parents or grandparents would recognize.

 

All in Ones (commonly known as AIO)

smartbottoms
Smart Bottoms All In One
aiobgfreetime
BumGenius Freetime All-in-One

What is it: An All In One is exactly that. It is a diaper that has everything you need, sewn right in. It is the closest to a disposable in both look and use. You literally just put it on your kid. For a long time, these were favoured by those who wanted the easiest cloth option out there, including daycare providers and those who were a little more cloth shy.

Why is it awesome? With minimal prep, these bad boys are ready to go. After washing, all you need to do is throw it on your baby. Some require you to make sure the sewn in insert lays flat or is tucked in, but that’s it.

Why might I not like it? Firstly, because all the pieces are attached, they take longer to dry, which can be annoying if you have a smaller stash. Also, they tend to be the most expensive option because everything is there. They are a bit more of a pain to customize. You have a heavier wetter and you may struggle a bit to add a booster. Want to try a different fiber? You may have to buy a completely different brand or diaper. Also, you really only get one use at a time with AIOs. Kid pees or poops? Into the wet bag it goes to be washed.

What brands do you recommend? BumGenius offers two AIO options in either Freetime or Elemental. Thirsties is a great, affordable brand as well and I love their new prints. You can also try Imagine, Funky Fluff and Sweet Pea.

 

Pocket Diapers

rumparooz
Kangacare Rumparooz Pocket Diaper
pocketdiaper
Kawaii One-Size Pocket Diaper

What is it: A pocket diaper is a water proof cover that is lined with a soft and absorbent fabric that has a pocket. In the pocket you put an insert. Some pocket diapers come with inserts, usually microfiber. Other inserts can be fleece, bamboo, hemp, cotton, or a blend or combination.

Why is it awesome? I love pocket diapers. They are my personal favourite. Why? Well, they are incredibly versatile while still being easy to use. What do I mean? Well, if you need to add boosters, or change the kind of insert you use, you just need to buy the insert or booster and throw it in the pocket. Taadaa! Done. This means a pocket diaper will work for different kids with different needs, and for different phases of cloth diapering. You can mix and match different brands of inserts and boosters as well, so if you find one you love, you don’t have to stick with whatever insert came with the diaper.

In terms of prep and use, they are still really easy (though a bit more hands on). All you need to do is wash, dry, then stuff your insert into the pocket and you’re good to go! Once stuffed, they basically look like an All In One and go right on the kiddo. They are usually cheaper than All In Ones too, which is a nice bonus.

Why might I not like it? It is a bit more work than just diapering your kid. You do have to stuff the diaper, and, when it comes to washing, most brands require you to remove the insert from the pocket first (which means you may come in contact with pee or poop). Like an All In One, they are a one use before wash diaper, which means they need to be washed once they come in contact with pee or poop.

What brands do you recommend? My personal favourites have changed a bit over the last year. Currently, I’m a big fan of Bum Genius, Apple Cheeks, and Rumparooz.

 

Hybrid Diapers

grovia_materials1
GroVia Hybrid Diaper
hybrid
Best Bottom Hybrid Diaper

What is it: A waterproof cover, usually without any kind of lining. Cover has buttons to which you can attach their insert directly, without any pocket or covering.

Why is it awesome? The big seller for Hybrid diapers is that they are quick and easy to prep and you can reuse the cover. To prep, all you have to do is wash, dry, snap in their insert and put the diaper on the baby. Most hybrid brands offer different kinds and sizes of inserts so that you can customize your diaper as baby grows and their diapering needs change. A big plus is that so long as the cover itself doesn’t get poopy, you can reuse it between uses. So, baby does their business? You remove the soiled insert, wipe down the cover’s waterproof lining, put in another inset and you’re good to go. This means you need fewer covers, which is great for when you’re out and about, for storage and, in theory, for the pocket book. One thing that’s nice is that if you have a mixed stash, you can use the hybrid covers as regular covers with prefolds or fitteds.

Why might I not like it? Well, despite the idea of not needing many covers, hybrid systems tend to be a bit more expensive than one would expect. Inserts are shaped to the diaper and aren’t always swappable between brands, which means you usually need to buy the correct insert for the same brand of cover.

What brands do you recommend? I loved these when L was little. They made for quick changes and less bulk in the diaper bag. I am a big fan of Best Bottoms, Grovia and the new Bummis hybrid.

 

Prefold Diapers and Covers

babykicks_hemp_prefold_diapers_ottawa_canada_large
BabyKicks Prefold Diaper, without cover.
bummis
Bummis Prefold and Cover

What is it: A prefold diaper is pretty similar to what previous generations would have used for diapering, but have been upgraded for better fit, use and absorbency.

The prefold itself is a square piece of cloth with two seams sewn in. The middle portion is usually thicker with more layers of absorbent fabric. The seams are what make this “prefolded”. You would then fold the square into whatever shape works best for you and baby, and then you would cover the prefold with a waterproof cover of your choice. Without the cover, the prefold isn’t waterproof on its own.

Why is it awesome? Firstly, these are the cheapest diapering option out there. This is where you can save some serious money, especially compared to disposables. Secondly, prefolds only get more absorbent with use. The more you wash them, the more the fibers loosen up. Thirdly, they are incredibly versatile. You can change the kind of prefold you use if you want, you can buy different prefolds in different fibers and different sizes. You can fold the prefold however you want, with different folds to serve different purposes. Prefolds themselves are also awesome burp cloths and rags, which can give them a second life if you decide not to sell. Oh, and if you have a mixed stash, you can use prefolds as inserts in your pockets or use your hybrid covers with your prefolds.

I actually really love how you can have a bunch of really awesome covers, and a bunch of different kids of prefolds. Also, like the hybrid, these are a multi-use diaper. Toss the prefold into the wash, wipe down the cover and use a new prefold to keep on going. This keeps you from having to carry around as much and keeps costs down. For multiple kids of different genders, if you want to go girlie or boyish, you can cheaply pick up a couple more covers and reuse the prefolds you already have. Oh, and for washing, these babies dry up much much faster because they are all separate pieces.

Why might I not like it? These are probably the most labour intensive and intimidating cloth option, but I promise, they aren’t as complicated as they seem.

They require more bits and pieces, from the prefold, to the cover, some people like to use either pins or snappis to fasten the prefold on baby before putting the cover on.

Also, the obvious: Folding. I know, it looks fussy and crazy, especially when you add a baby to the mix. You don’t need to be a fancy origami expert to do this, I promise. You can go from as easy as a rectangle (outside flaps folded in, to create a pad) to something more diaper like. There is a learning curve, and it isn’t for everyone, but I swear anyone can figure it out.

What brands do you recommend? For the prefolds themselves, Bummis is tops for me. There is just something about that puffy cotton quilted looking fluff. Baby Kicks are also awesome for different fiber blends. As for covers, Thirsties, Rumparooz, Planet Wise and wool have my vote.

 

Fitted Diapers

babee_growing_greens_one_size_cloth_diaper_fitted_diaper_hemp_canada_ottawa_belly_laughs
Babee Greens Fitted Diaper

What is it: A fitted diaper looks more like your disposable, but unless you know what a prefold is, it’s hard to explain, so I’ve put them here. Basically, a fitted is a prefold that has been sewn into a diaper shape for ease of use and fit. Most are not waterproof on their own, so you would put the fitted diaper on baby and then put a cover over top.

Why is it awesome? The ease of use of any of the other fitted types (AIO, Pocket. No folding!). The ability to mix and match a fitted with a diaper cover, the multi-use like a prefold. They are insanely absorbent. Like, crazy absorbent. A lot of people use these for over nights, for heavy wetters or long trips.

Why might I not like it? Because of their shape and the need to have a cover, they tend to be bulky. This can make clothing baby a bit of a pain. They are also far more expensive than a prefold, because of their tailored fit. Because of this, I don’t know many people who just use fitteds for all their diapering needs. Also, because of the way they are made, they take a while to dry.

What brands do you recommend? Sustainablebabyish, Baby Kicks and Kissaluvs.

There you have it. There are always new products popping up, but these are the ones you are most likely to come across. If you have any questions, please feel free to shoot me a line. I am by no means an expert, but I will try my best to help. I hope you’ve enjoyed this series and found it helpful as you consider starting your cloth diaper journey.

The rest of the Baby Basics Series:

Baby, family, Review, Shopping

New Baby Checklist, Part 2: The Checklist

Welcome to part two of my New Baby Checklist posts!  As I mentioned in part one, I had a friend ask me for help and suggestions as she started her shopping for her upcoming December baby. I put together a list of things that I found helpful with L and that I find people seek out at the store where I work.

Please note: This post is not sponsored, however some links will be amazon affiliate links, as well as links to stores that I love. 

If you would like me or my family to review a product, or would like to send us something, please shoot me an email at inamongtheheather@gmail.com

header image for the new baby checklist

Here is the pdf copy of the list, to print and bring along with you shopping. Personal recommendations are only found on this post, not the pdf.

Nursery/Bedroom

sleeping

  • Somewhere safe for baby to sleep. Refer back to Part One here. For the sake of argument and simplicity, let’s go with what is most common here in Canada: A crib. I recommend something sturdy that has the option to convert into a toddler bed down the line. If that’s too far our of your budget, IKEA Cribs has some beautiful modern options.
  • Mattress for crib. You want something firm and, ideally, water resistant for quick clean ups.
  • Sheets for Crib (3, so that if one is in the wash or if baby is sick, you’re not screwed). I prefer flannel, as it isn’t as shockingly cold when you put baby down
  • Mattress cover if mattress isn’t liquid resistant or proof.
  • Baby Monitor. We kept it pretty simple. I wanted to be able to hear baby clearly. We really like our Avent monitor, though they don’t seem to be as easy to find these days. You can splurge on a video monitor or try a cheaper alternative of a webcam that has night vision (we picked up a cheapie from walmart that works great).
  • Glider/Chair/somewhere to sit while nursing or settling baby for bed.  We splurged here and got a La-Z-Boy recliner/rocker, similar to this one. It is the best thing ever.
  • Storage for Clothing and baby stuff. Old dressers work great, or closets.
  • Swaddle blankets if you plan on swaddling (said to help baby sleep better. Aden and Anais muslin blankets are great and have many uses beyond just swaddling. We have several of them. You can also go with an actual swaddler like a Miracle Blanket or a Woombie)
  • Humidifier. We have a Crane one.
  • A wet bag for cloth diapers or a garbage/diaper genie for disposables. My favourite wetbags are the Rumperooz Kanga Care or the Planet Wise bags.
  • Black out curtains
  • White noise machine or something like a twilight turtle/sleep sheep/whatever

Clothing

clothing

Make sure not to just get newborn size stuff. Some babies don’t stay in NB for longer than a couple weeks!

Diapering

diapering

  • Diaper Bag. Your diaper bag really depends on you. I know plenty of people who just use a MEC messenger bag or backpack. Some people want something unisex that both you and your partner can carry. Other people want something that looks more like a purse, or maybe something budget friendly, or maybe something that is really durable and has a life time warrenty. I have a collection of diaper bags, and each option has it’s own pros and cons. This is what I use: Timi & Leslie Abby for every day use (click here for my video review), Timi & Leslie Marie Antoinette for every day use, Ju Ju Be Be Prepared for longer outings/day trips, Petunia Pickle Bottom Boxt Back Pack when babywearing.
  • Changing station or change pad (many diaper bags will come with a pad. We use our Ju Ju Be change pad for most of our bum changes)

Either:

  • 24 Cloth Diapers in either one size or size 1
  • 3 big wet bags, one small
  • Wipes (disposable or cloth)
  • Cloth friendly bum cream (Substance, or Earth Mama Angel Baby)

OR

  • Newborn Diapers (1-2 boxes…babies bust out of these pretty quick)
  • Size one Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Diaper Genie (we have two, one for each floor) and refills
  • Bum Cream (some people swear by Zinc based creams like Sudocream or Grandma El’s. I prefer cloth friendly creams. L always had bad reactions to Zinc based creams)

I will be posting all about cloth diapers in the near future, so let me know if there are any specific brands you want to know about or questions about cloth you’d like answered.

Here is my first post on Cloth: Why Cloth.

Winter Gear (depending on your climate. I’m having a December baby in Ontario)

winter

  • One thicker snowsuit for being outside in colder weather, where you might have baby in a stroller. Columbia is my favourite bunting suit.
  • Thin fleece suit that is safe for the carseat (here’s a great one from Columbia). Please read this amazing post by The Car Seat Lady for everything you need to know about keeping baby safe and warm in the car.
  • Thumbless mittens, Hat. You can find some adorable and toasty options out there. For hats, I would recommend something with ear flaps or that is long enough to cover baby’s sensitive ears. Babies sometimes hate mittens, but I have had good luck with keeping mimitens or stonz mittens on L when he was bitty.
  • Warm Legs through leggings, legwarmers or wool. L wore a lot of baby legs as a wee babe. Merino Wool is a great option too, as it helps keep baby warm without overheating. Bumby is a great option.
  • Footwear. For tiny babies, I would recommend something warm and soft, rather than a soled boot. You don’t really need solid boots until kiddo is coming in contact with the snow/ice. A popular option here in Ottawa is Padraig slippers with Stonz boots, We used winter robeez with L with warm socks and found it was enough.

Feeding

feedingbottle

If Breastfeeding:

If Formula Feeding:

  • Bottles and Nipples
  • Sanitizing Tray
  • Formula
  • Bottle Brush
  • You can get fancy with bottle warmer, neat formula mixing bottles (Like the Mixie) or the formula Keurig like machines out now (Baby Brezza is the name I see most).

Travel

travel

  • Car Seat. The great debate, of course, is bucket versus convertible. I went with bucket, so that I could bring in a sleeping baby and use the bucket seat in our stroller. We love our Graco Snugride, as we tend to make big babies and wanted it to last. Diono Radian is also highly regarded, as is the Clek Foonf or Fllo.
  • Stroller. Another one that is really dictated by your lifestyle and needs. We wanted something that would do well in the winter, on the trails at the dog park and would retain it’s value. We chose the BOB Revolution SE.
  • Mirror for the car so you can see baby in the back.
  • a couple car seat/stroller toys
  • A carrier (Stretchy wrap like a Moby or Boba for the early days, and then a structured buckle carrier for when baby is a bit bigger. We loved the Beco Gemini). A full babywearing post to come!

First Aid and Safety

safety

  • Nasal Aspirator (Nosefrida is gross but awesome)
  • Hydrasense Spray
  • Infant Tylenol/Tempra/Advil/Motrin/whatever (I recommend dye free)
  • Infant Ovol/Gripe Water
  • Baby Nail Clippers
  • Baby thermometer. We love this one by Braun.
  • Baby Gates and Baby Proofing Stuff (mainly outlet covers, cupboard locks)
  • Small first aid kit

Toys

playmat

Bathing

bathtime

  • An infant tub or the kitchen sink
  • Gentle baby wash (I love Original Sprout or LiveClean)
  • Soft Face cloths
  • Hooded Towels
  • A few bath toys

Other Gear

highchair

  • Pack and Play
  • High Chair
  • Bouncy/Vibrating Chair or a Swing
  • Soothers (Avent were the only ones that worked for L and we tried SO MANY. Wubbanubs and Gumdrop are super popular too)
  • Receiving blankets (act as burp cloths, swaddles, blankets, nursing cover, you name it!)

Great Books and Apps:

  • Wonder Weeks app and Book
  • Baby Led Weaning book
  • Baby Connect App
  • Happiest Baby on the Block book

Please note that these are just my personal recommendations. In no way do I guarantee or represent these products.  Please do your own research and use your own judgement when purchasing and using any products for your family.

The rest of the Baby Basics Series:

Baby, family, Pregnancy, Review, Shopping

New Baby Checklist, Part 1: The Basics

Babies are expensive. For such tiny little creatures, many retailers would have us believe that you need a whole lot of stuff to survive those first few years. I work at a baby and maternity store, and with Baby M on the way, I have really been thinking about what we need versus what we want. Of course, having done this all once before has been a huge help, and we definitely have a better idea of what worked for us and what was a waste of time and money.

A girl from my due date group is having her first and is overwhelmed by options. I sent her a list I put together and thought that maybe it would be helpful to others. When I think about where we are now, compared to where we were when I was pregnant with L, I realized that a lot has changed. With L, we were both working and had decent savings. I had paid maternity leave coming up. This time, I work part time, with no paid mat leave and practically no savings. I know how important it is to know what your options are for different budgets, as well as an idea of what you actually NEED versus what you might just want. So, before getting to the checklist, here is a break down of what a you need for a new baby.

newbabybasics

Note: This post is NOT sponsored. I have used these products and love them, that’s it. I am not being compensated in anyway for talking about them. 

So, what do I actually NEED to keep this baby alive?

Let’s break this down to the very very basic stuff. What are the things that a human infant need to live?

  • A safe place to sleep
  • Clothing to protect them from the elements
  • A food source
  • A plan for their waste products
  • Something to safely get them from A to B.

That’s it, really. One of the best lessons I’ve ever learned about having a baby is that you can make anything as simple or as complicated as you please. This applies to everything, for the most part, and is especially true when it comes to baby gear. Baby Stuff is a huge industry and if we believe what advertisers and retailers tell us, we need ALL THE THINGS to be successful loving parents. I couldn’t disagree more. I think every family is different, has a different home,a different set of priorities, a different style and a different budget. I also think that there is nothing wrong with anyone one that scale, so long as the child is having their needs met.

To start, I’m going to talk about these basic needs and then I’ll get into options. Eventually, I’ll get into the actual checklist, I promise. Stay turned for Part 2.

A Safe Place to Sleep

sleepbassinet

So, this really depends on you and your comfort level. Bedsharing, Co-Sleeping, a laundry basket, a large box, a bassinet, a floor bed, a pack and play, or a crib. You have options. And yes, those are all real options. You can use a combo of these, change things up as your family’s needs change.

I don’t claim to be a sleep expert or a baby safety expert, so please take all of this with a grain of salt and follow your own gut and comfort level. From my own experience and reading, a safe sleep space basically means a place where baby can sleep comfortably, without anything that become an obstruction to breathing or that may pin baby in a position where they cannot breathe. A firm mattress or surface is recommended, with no blankets, pillows, or stuffies. The concept behind the laundry basket, the box, bassinet, pack and play and crib are a seperate baby-only space. With bedsharing, I stress that is not recommended for those who are very heavy sleepers, who take medication to help them sleep, those who drink or do drugs before bed or those who move around a lot in bed at night. Floor beds are essentially a mattress on the floor for baby to sleep on, which requires a safe room (furniture anchored to the wall, cords out of reach, etc…) in case baby ends up out of bed.

As you can imagine, these options range from free (sharing your own bed), to cheap (repurposed laundry basket with a soft surface) to more expensive (cribs really can range from hand-me-down to custom and extremely expensive).

sleeppackandplaysleepcribsleepfloorbed

What we do: We did a combination of things. For a while, L slept in bed with me. Eventually, we added a pack and play and a hand me down cradle for naps. He then moved to a crib in our room (considered co-sleeping, and is recommended by Health Canada) for all sleeping when we found he slept better on his own. For his first birthday, he was gifted a custom montessori style bedframe (basically a floor bed with a low frame to encourage him not to roll out) by his Nanny and Grammy, and so we moved him to his own room. We plan on doing basically the same thing with Baby M. The crib is all set to go beside our bed, the pack and play is ready for main floor naps and I expect to have him in our bed for the first couple of months.

Clothing to protect them from the elements

clotheswarm

This one is pretty obvious. Naked babies are adorable, but tend to get chilly and cranky. Depending on your climate, you need different things for baby. I don’t want to get too far into the specifics here, but I think the key is that every baby is different. I run cold, pretty much all the time. My kid, on the other hand, is a freaking furnace. As a baby, he was miserable when he was too hot. The best way to prepare? Layers. Diaper Shirts/Onesies, long sleeved and short. Leggings, sleepers, socks. That will pretty much get you through. Don’t spend a tonne on newborn sized stuff, as you have no idea how long your kiddo will actually be in them. For L, it was about a month. He stayed in 3-6 month stuff a bit longer, and lived in 6-12month stuff a bit longer.

For the great outdoors, your climate will dictate your needs. Car seat safe snowsuits, hat, mitts, boots for us winter folks, Sun hats, breathable layers for those of you who live in the heat.

Budgets get a lot of room here. You can buy new, at top end stores for those who want to and can. For those with tighter budgets, become familiar with your local consignment stores, join freecycle or buy nothing groups, ask friends and families for hand-me-downs. Those of you in the middle can shop sales (there is always a sale around the corner! Talk to your parent friends or  online groups. Often parents already have an ear to the ground),

babyclothes

What We Do: I work in a consignment store, so I stalk the super cute clothes and shop the sales (last night I snagged some clothing for L off our dollar rack). When money was a bit better, I shopped the sales at Children’s Place, Old Navy and Carters. Buy Nothing groups have been a life saver for finding baby clothes (we sold off a bunch of L’s stuff, and most of it was the wrong season for our upcoming winter baby).

A food source

foodbreastfeeding

Humans need to eat. This is as basic as basic needs get. Thankfully, we live in a time where we have safe options to choose from to suit our lifestyles, budgets, health restrictions and unique families. For those who choose to, there are many formula options out there. Catered to specific dietary needs and sensitivities, there are many ways for you to feed baby. Many formula companies will send you free samples and coupons, and I know that bulk stores like Costco or price matching at Walmart can help you get the best price.

Breastfeeding is a great option for those that can. It’s free, made by your body and is the perfect food for your baby. It isn’t always easy, and sometimes requires lots of support and guidance, but it is an option that is worth considering.

Like with all parenting choices, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can breastfeed and supplement with formula. You can breastfeed for a few months and then switch. Do what is right for you and your baby.

What else do you need? Well, for the first 6 months you will need your food (formula or breastmilk). Breastfeeders may also choose to supplement or pump. In that case, you will need a pump (manual pumps are cheapest, electric pumps are easiest), bottles, and milk storage (bags or trays). Anyone who feeds with a bottle with need, of course, bottles, a bottle cleaner brush, something to sterilize the bottles (a large pot of boiling water, or a sterilizing bag or tray), nipples for the bottles. Bottles range from relatively cheap to pretty expensive, with different features and options.

Formula feeding parents can also get some gadgets to make life a bit easier. Bottle warmers, automatic formula mixing machines (similar to a keurig), special bottles for formula mixing and storage, etc…

Breastfeeding parents may seek items to make things easier and more comfortable. Nipple creams, breast feeding pillows, breastfeeding covers, breast pads, nursing bras, nursing clothing, breast pillows or gel pads, lactation foods or teas. At the end of the day, the only thing you really “need” is your breasts, patience, support and knowledge. Breastmilk works as a soothing nipple treatment, any pillow will work in a pinch, clothing can be made to work.

feedingbottle

What we do: I approached breastfeeding somewhat selfishly. I had read, several years ago, that breastfeeding lowers the risk of breast cancer for both the parents and the child. Seeing as how my mother died of breast cancer, this was a major concern for me. Also, I’ve heard that it can help prevent digestive issues. Both Pat and I have suffered with a variety of digestive problems over the years (he is undiagnosed, I have IBS). So, my plan was to give it a shot and hope for the best. My goal was 6 months. Well, here I am and I still nurse my 3.5 year old. It has been a life saver for us. Thankfully, it came easily to me. I have always had an oversupply and my little dude was dedicated to the cause, despite a bad lip tie. We worked through it and had some great support to pull us through. I plan to continue with Baby M. I love how easy it is (I can’t imagine mixing bottles in the middle of the night), how it got me a bit more sleep and rest in the middle of the night, and how soothing it was for L when he was hurt or sick.

I do have a nursing pillow that I love (hand me down), I used breast milk as a nipple cream, I used a pump (electric) and breastfeeding friendly bottles. I had a cover, but I hate it. I got it for free on a cheapie web deal. I shop sales for nursing bras and nursing tops, as well as used clothing sites and consignment stores.

A plan for their waste products

diaperssposie

What goes in, must come out. If your my kid, this is true from the very moment he was born. He peed on the nurse and had pooped in the womb. Yep. So, where do you want that waste to go? You have a couple of options, There are disposable diapers, reusable/cloth diapers, and no diapers (elimination communication). Obviously EC would be a free option, and is considered the norm in many different cultures. For those that this doesn’t suit, there are diapers. I don’t really want to get into the specifics of diapering just now, as that would take a whole other post to get through. So, to sum up: Cloth is the cheapest option in most cases, though there are some expensive fluffy butts out there. Disposables are more expensive, though there are budget brands. In each case, there are accessories that you can add for ease and comfort. Special bins, air fresheners, wipes, creams, organization, you name it. You can honestly get by with just a diaper, and something to clean the baby’s bum (disposable wipe or reusable cloth with water) and somewhere to put the mess (either garbage or the wash).

diapercloth

What we do: L was in Pampers until he was around 1. We used Pampers sensitive wipes, occasional bum cream, and diaper genies. At that time, I got a job at the store and started using Cloth part time. I used a mix of different brands and types, for about 6 months. We then switched back to pampers full time. We are in the middle of potty learning now. The plan for Baby M is to use cloth during the day (part time, when Daddy is away), and disposables at night or when we are out for extended periods of time. Pat is not pro-cloth, but is down with me saving us some money by using my stash when he isn’t around. Hopefully this will save us some cash as we shouldn’t need very many sposies. I will get into the specifics of my stash another time, but for the most part it is a mix of brands, hand-me-downs and types (prefolds, hybrids, all in ones, pockets, fitteds)

Something to safely get them from A to B

stroller

This one is pretty straight forward. Do you have a car? You need a car seat. Do you take the public transportation or walk? You might want a carrier or a stroller. Your car seat needs to be up to current safety standards and should be installed properly and used safely. There are a millions resources out there, from free to paid, to help  you keep your baby safe in the car.(Check out The Car Seat Lady and S.E.A.T.S) I will say, very strongly, that is is IMPERATIVE that you use your car seat correctly. It is the difference between life and death. Really.

Strollers are like freaking cars these days. You can buy a cheap beater or an expensive Ferrari. You can buy used, you can find them free online, or you can buy one pretty much anywhere. Your budget and needs really dictate what stroller will work best for you.

Carriers. Man, I could go on forever for carriers. They are a life saver in this house, so I will keep it brief: They help you get stuff done, they are great for being out and about, and they help with bonding and breastfeeding. There are a tonne of different kinds and brands. I will post about this later. You can get them cheap or insanely expensive.

babywearing

What we do: All of the above. When L was bitty, we had a bucket seat that we will be reusing for baby M. We paid full price at Toys R Us for it (We got the Graco Snugride 35). We also bought our Stroller at Toys R Us but then later won the exact same stroller in a contest, which I then sold, so it kind of paid for itself. We wanted something that could do well in the snow, and at the dog park, that worked with our bucket seat, had a good long life and a decent resale value. We ended up with a BOB Revolution SE and we love it. It was definitely a splurge. As for Carriers…well..I have many. I will say that for baby M I plan on using a stretchy wrap (Boba and Moby, one gifted and one bought new). Ring Slings (new custom conversions) and a woven wrap (a beater Girasol bought used online and a Didymos that was gifted to me) for the early days.

So, there you have it. The basics as well as some insight into what we’ve done for L and plan to do with Baby M. The next post will be about specific products and will include an actual checklist of things I recommend. If you have any questions, please ask away! As you can tell, I am a baby geek. I love this stuff. I especially love helping people figure out their own personal needs.

The rest of the Baby Basics Series: