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Category Archives: Green Living

Natural Baby Parenting Series

I’ve scheduled the next round of classes.  All classes meet at Natural Baby from 6pm-7:30pm.  The cost is per student/couple.  If you are a single mom or your partner cannot come, you may come alone or bring a friend/family member.  The cost is 20.00 per class or you may register for the entire series for 80.00.   To register for the entire series, please email or stop by Natural Baby.  Please rsvp for all classes so that I have enough swag and handouts.

Try to See It My Way:  “Why is my baby crying? Is this normal? I don’t understand what she is trying to say!”  Come learn about infant communication and cues. We’ll also discuss birth bonding, attachment theory, soothing skills, and finding balance. Plus lots of tricks for calm parenting. Babywearing lessons included!  This class is appropriate for parents-to-be or new parents. Babies are welcome in all classes.

Breastfeeding:  In our breastfeeding class, we’ll learn about the biology of breastfeeding.  We’ll discuss common issues, finding help through community resources, and returning to work.  Babies are welcome in all classes.  20.00 per student/couple the night of the class.

Now What?  The First Six Weeks:  The first six weeks can feel like a whirlwind of emotions and the learning curve may seem steep. Learn what to expect during the postpartum. For mom, we’ll discuss physical changes, healing from birth, and creating a postpartum plan. For baby, we’ll look at common issues such as jaundice and gastric changes. And we’ll learn about baby care basics, newborn procedures at the hospital, and vaccine choices.20.00 per student/couple the night of the class. RSVP at the link to let us know you’re coming. This class is appropriate for parents-to-be or new parents. Babies are welcome in all classes

Sleeping Like A Baby:  *Yawn* Who came up with the phrase “sleeping like a baby” anyway? Learn about the physiology of infant sleep. We’ll talk about naps and nighttime parenting. And, of course, tips and tricks for getting restful nights for the whole family. 20.00 per student/couple the night of the class. RSVP at the link to let us know you’re coming. This class is appropriate for parents-to-be or new parents. Babies are welcome in all classes.
Having a Baby without Breaking the Bank:  Having a baby does not have to put a giant hole in your wallet! Learn practical tips for DIY, saving money, and what is safe to buy used. In fact, saving money can also be a sustainable and non-toxic choice. We’ll talk about creating a lean and green baby registry. What do you really need to raise a baby?  20.00 per student/couple the night of the class. RSVP at the link to let us know you’re coming.  This class is appropriate for parents-to-be or new parents. Babies are welcome in all classes.
Parenting the First Year:  Parents have many decisions to make the first year. This class will discuss solid-feeding, safety, teething, discipline, learning through play, and infant development.  20.00 per student/couple the night of the class. RSVP at the link to let us know you’re coming. This class is appropriate for parents-to-be or new parents. Babies are welcome in all classes

Cloth Diapering While Trekking Overseas

Warning:  this post is more than many of you want to know about cloth diaper travel and my anxieties about it.  Feel free to skim.

I have some vanity issues. Once I’ve “never done” or “only ever” it is incredibly difficult to step out of my corner.  The principle of the thing, you understand.

Cedar had never worn a disposable diaper. Never. Not once. No disposable wipes either. And she’s two. When I realized she was not going to potty-learn before our big trip, I faced a dilemma. Do I attempt to exclusively cloth diaper or do I get over my vain self?

I seriously worried over this question. I didn’t make a decision until two days before we left for Thailand. My husband thought I was ridiculous and he was not excited by the thought of cloth diapers during a 24 hour travel day.

I also felt paralyzed by the choices on the diaper aisle! Sizing, design, print. It had been a long time. It took several trips to the store to work up the nerve to buy something. 

It’s ok. You can make fun of me.

I settled on seventh generation for the big travel days there and back. I tried one on Cedar. She immediately complained that she didn’t like it. It was too hot. 

Also, disposable diapers = once snug clothing falling off.

I put her in a disposable the night before we left and she wore disposables on the 15 hour flight, layover in Korea, 5 hour flight, and overnight in Bangkok.  And not surprisingly, she did not poop until we arrived at our hotel in Bangkok.  She is a die-hard private pooper.  As soon as we checked in (2am local time, 1pm our time), she hid under a cabinet to poop. 

My biggest complaint about the disposables:  when she had gas, the smell seemed to get stuck in there! Oh how it lingered. It also tricked me, and others around me, into thinking she had poop. Have you noticed people get gassy on planes?

The next morning began my hybrid cloth plan. I wasn’t sure what sort of laundry conditions I would face in Thailand. I knew most Asian toilets had a sprayer attachment but I didn’t know if there would be any laundry soap or facilities. I borrowed some gDiaper covers from my friend Erin. They are cloth covers with a waterproof layer inside that snaps out. For whatever reason, they fit Cedar better backwards. So she always wore them that way. Plus, Cedar loved these diapers because I told her they belonged to her little friend, Griffin. She called them “Gwiffin’s diapers.”  And Erin gave me permission to abandon any diapers that were beyond help, if you understand what I mean.  I didn’t have to.  

Here is a cute, trim gDiaper worn backwards:

I stuffed the gDiapers with the amazing Grovia BioSoaker. This disposable insert had sticky tabs so it stayed lined up perfectly with my little mover and shaker.  And oh my word, could it ever soak up!  When we woke up in Bangkok to continue our trip to the coast, she was wearing the cloth/disposable hybrid. Usually, I changed the BioSoaker before it leaked onto the cloth layer. The poop was contained. Yes! I felt wildly successful that the poop did not reach those covers. If I thought the waterproof pouch needed it, I could easily snap it out and rinse it in the sink. A few times, I sat on the porch with a big bowl and hand-washed the covers with the laundry soap we were provided. The sun dried them.  

I could live in a village. 

Did I mention I loved the Grovia BioSoaker? And that it kept all the poop (even Thai food poop) off the covers?

When we arrived in Cambodia, I switched to prefolds with the gDiapers. I knew I could borrow some of Asher’s cloth diapers if I needed extra. My sister had a washing machine and Charlie’s Soap. She only has cold water so I added a bit of bleach to the prefolds. And dried them in the sun. 

Of course, in the heat, it was tough to keep clothes on Asher or Cedar.

(Can you see the bald spot in Asher’s hair from the zhu zhu pet incident?)

Flying back, I skipped the seventh generation and went with the hybrid plan.  Again, no pooping until we were home and she could close (and lock) her bedroom door.

I arrived home with one BioSoaker and 10 disposables to spare.  I ran out of seventh generation wipes in Cambodia and had to buy more wipes there.  If I had to do it all over again, I would skip the disposables and stick with the hybrid/prefold combo. 

Also, changing a toddler’s diaper in an airplane bathroom = not easy.

Locals: busy Saturday!

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We have two exciting events this Saturday and I know I’ll see many of you there.

First, the Great Cloth Diaper Change.  The cloth diaper community is trying for a Guinness World Record: the most diapers changes simultaneously.  And, of course, the event will raise awareness about sustainability for Earth Day.

Natural Baby is a host location for Greenville.  Please take a bit of time out of your Saturday to join us–your friendly neighborhood changing station!  Even if you don’t cloth diaper, you can join in.  Just check the appropriate box on the registration and a cloth diaper will be provided. 

Go here to register and print your eticket.  The event begins at noon but arrive 30 minutes early please. 

After you’ve changed your baby’s diaper, go for a walk and have some lunch.  Then come back at 2pm for our April Blessingway.  April is Cesarean Awareness Month.  We’ll hear Erin’s Greer Hospital VBAC story and Angie’s planned cesarean story.  Our local ICAN leader, Jenn Anderson, will talk about steps to achieve a VBAC in the upstate.  Of course, little ones are always welcome! 

See you there!

Men of the Cloth

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I’ve taught five Cloth Diaper 101 classes since December.  Each time, I think…surely there won’t be any students left in Greenville who will attend.  And each time, there is a crowd.  Bring in some more chairs!

Yesterday’s class was no different.  Except the students were all pregnant for the first time.  And each pregnant mama was accompanied by a dad.  Perfect dad attendance. 

Not only that–some of these dads could have taught the class.  They had studied up on cloth!  I was amazed at their comments and questions. 

While we don’t get gold stars in parenting for using cloth diapers, I’m thrilled that so many couples in Greenville are making this environmental choice.  Each parent who makes the choice to cloth diaper reduces our local landfill space by over 2 tons per child. 

Well-done, you environmentally savvy couples!

If you’d like to learn more about cloth, the Cloth Diaper 101 class is offered every 3rd Saturday at 1pm.  It is free!

Easter Traffic

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Two of my old posts always get loads of traffic around Easter:

Natural dyes for eggs


Cadbury Eggs

Update:  it looks like Cadbury Eggs in the US are still slave-made.  What can we do??  Global Exchange has some great ideas including a printable coloring page for children to mail to Hershey.  I’m considering throwing together a screening of The Dark Side of Chocolate to share in my community before Easter.  We’ll see if I can pull that off.  What will YOU do?

Upcoming Free Events

Greenville Babywearing Group  meets Thursday night (Jan. 20) at 6pm.  We’re enjoying our new home at Natural Baby.  Come to learn, try out a new type of carrier, or teach someone else.  Bring your carrier(s) and bring your baby.  Or if you’re pregnant, you can practice with a stuffed animal.  Dads are always welcome to attend!

Cloth Diaper 101:  I can’t believe how many people came out for this class last month!  So we’re offering it again.  I’ll show you lots of options for cloth diapering.  We’ll talk about poop.  We’ll talk about money.  We’ll talk trash (or lack thereof).  Dads need to come, too!  1pm at Natural Baby. 

Blessingways:  A Gathering of New and Expectant Families:  Join us for our monthly gathering. We’re meeting in a new place for 2011. When you arrive at Natural Baby, head toward the back of the store where you’ll find a comfortable lounge. Our positive birth story this month is Noelle who had her first baby at home with a midwife.  Our speaker is Ady Orezzoli, the owner of Natural Baby.  She will share her expertise on “Saving Money While Going Green.”

Pregnant couples are encouraged to attend.  New mamas and papas as well as experienced families are welcome!  Bring your babies or older children.  We expect it to be a bit noisy.  Hope to see you there!

A note about Natural Baby.  I’ve moved many of our events to this store because the owners opened the store, in part, as a place of education.  And they sincerely love parents and children.  Parking is available around the corner in the garage on Richardson street (credit card payment accepted) if you can’t find a spot on the street.

Free Class!

I’m teaching Cloth Diapering 101 at Natural Baby on Dec. 11 at 2pm.  The class will last about an hour.  We’ll look at lots of examples of cloth diapering choices and systems.  And, of course, I’ll talk about poop.  What would a cloth diaper class be without a thorough discussion of dealing with the poopies?

Join us!  No need to rsvp.  Little ones are welcome.  I encourage dads to attend. 

Email me if you have questions:  j_byers (at) bellsouth (dot) net.

Selecting a Baby Bottle

I stopped to admire a baby bottle today.  Yes, really.  It sparked a post on bottles.  Probably more than most of you want to know!

Bottles can be a confusing purchase for a pregnant mama.  How many to buy?  Which brand?  Which size?  Bottles make claims of being the most breastfeeding-friendly, the safest, or the one most likely to reduce colic. 

Here is my personal opinion on bottles.  Note:  I’m not a baby bottle expert. 

First, bottles are not evil.  Realistically, most American babies will have a bottle at some point.  The bottle might contain expressed breastmilk, donated breastmilk, or formula.  These three liquids look alike.  I know my readers would not, but it bears stating:  Please do not judge a woman giving a bottle to a baby.  Remember, it may not even be her baby.  

How many?  If you’re breastfeeding, you don’t need more than one or two bottles.  Really.  Breastmilk can stay out at room temperature for up to 10 hours.  Formula cannot stay out for more than one hour.  If you’re working full-time, the milk will be fine at room temp for 10 hours.  Isn’t breastmilk amazing?  I had to supplement with donated milk for almost every feeding and I was very comfortable with only two bottles.  And then I broke one around 9 months and finished out the year with just one. 

What size?  Since you only need one or two, I would go ahead and buy an 8 or 9oz size. 

Which nipple?  There are many choices in nipples.  I prefer silicone.  Breastfed babies should always use a size 1 nipple. 

What bottles are safe?  The concerns with bottles are BPA, PVC, lead, and phthalates.  The material choices are plastic, glass, and stainless steel. 

Safest plastic choices are usually made from polypropylene or polyethylene.  Innobaby makes a silicone bottle.  Green to Grow uses polyether sulphone (PES).  There are many plastic choices.  A few are Adiri, Born Free, and Thinkbaby.  Born Free and Thinkbaby can also convert to sippy cups which saves some money.  Always a good idea.  Green to Grow also donates 1% of sales to environmental causes, donates new mamas in need, and claims to be socially responsible in their production.

Glass choices range from the tried-and-true EvenFlo to the fancier coddletime bottle with laboratory-grade glass and a silicone sleeve.  I have butter-fingers so I require a silicone sleeve.  I used Coddletime bottles with Cedar and still managed to break one.  I was impressed that it broke in large peices and the silicone caught the glass (as promised).

And then there are the stainless steel bottles.  These can be quite the eye-catcher.  I love the earthlust bottle and the organicKidz.  Both can convert to sippy cups.  Earthlust claims to be ethically made (in China).  The organicKidz bottle lids work as a measuring cup.  Some benefits to stainless steel: it can keep liquids hot or cool longer and it will not break.  However, you cannot microwave stainless steel.  I often used the Medela quick steam microwave bags on my glass bottles.  Still, these are dishwasher safe.   

What are your favorites?  What did I leave out?

Retired: the story of a diaper

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A disposable diaper’s story would be a short one indeed.

Today I retired my first cloth diaper.  The waterproof layer was done.  This diaper served at least 4 babies.  The mother who gave it to me bought it at a yard sale…so who knows its history from there.  I used it on both my girls.  It was an imse vimse cover with frogs on it. 

Think about that.  One diaper cover serving at least four babies for less than 15.00. 

Do cloth diapers and disposables come out the same in terms of environmental impact?  No way.  I don’t care which study (subsidized by pampers) you look at, look closer and you’ll see the flaws. 

And I’ve compared month for month my water and electric bills since Cedar was born.  No significant change.  My natural gas bill (we have a gas dryer) has increased by about 2.00/month.  I have bought zero diapers.  I purchased 2 containers of Charlies Soap, a 7.00 laundry bag, and a 6.00 bottle of woolwash.  That is less than 50.00 in 10 months of diapering.  How much is a package of disposables? 

Today I also timed how long it takes me to fold and put away Cedar’s diapers.  It took 11 minutes.

Does cloth diapering make you a better parent?  Certainly not. 

Does it save you some money?  Heck yeah.  Unless you buy designer diapers and throw/give them away after one child.  Sell those things! 

Does it keep poop, plastic, and chemicals out of landfills?  You betcha.   

I’m not writing this post to sound smug.  I was simply feeling super proud of the little imse-vimse-that-could which we retired today.  Your work is done tiny diaper.

Check my cloth diaper page for more info on choosing cloth.

Frugal and Natural Baby Care

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Natural and organic baby products can be expensive!  Here are a few ways to save some money.  Please add your tips and recipes!

Baby Wipes

Using cloth baby wipes can save as much as 800.00.  Still, the initial purchase can be pricey for a bum wipe.  If you don’t have the funds, you can cut up old t-shirts or flannel blankets.  For Norah, I bought the 1.00 “bag o rags” from Goodwill.  It was a huge lot of t-shirts already cut into rectangles.  I washed them on hot a few times to make sure they wouldn’t bleed on the dipes.  Good to go.  They weren’t pretty but hey, they were for wiping butts.

Baby Wipe Solution

You can simply wet your cloth wipes in water.  There are many solutions that are easy to make and smell yummers.  I like to use a few drops of lavender essential oil, a few drops of almond oil, water, and a squirt of Dr. Bronner’s castille soap.  There are lots of additional great ideas here.  I keep my solution in a spray bottle (one for the diaper bag and one for the changing station).

Cradle Cap

When your babe gets the scalp funk, use some olive oil to loosen it.  Use a fingernail or a toothbrush to gently exfoliate the area. 

Shampoo or Baby Wash

A tiny bit of castille soap goes a long way.  I often find Dr. Bronner’s on Amazon for a great price with free shipping.  A 32 oz bottle retails for 14.99 and lasts a long time.  One important point:  this soap is not “tear-free” so keep it out of baby’s eyes.  And pick a mild kind like the baby unscented or lavendar.  The peppermint might be a bit strong for baby bums. 

Baby Oil

I prefer baby oil to lotion.  My favorite is calendula.  Calendula flowers are so healing.  To make this oil, heat 8 oz of oil (I like almond but you can use other vegetable oils) and 1 oz of calendula flowers on low heat or in a crockpot for several hours.  Strain and cool.  You also can make a simple oil by adding a few drops of essential oil to a quality veggie oil.  Try lavendar, orange, rose, chamomile or a combination.

Oatmeal/Milk Bath

Grind oatmeal in food processor or coffee grinder.  Mix with dry milk.  Pour in the bath.  You can also add some epsom salt for a calming bath.  My friend, Ellen, gave me a variation that was ground oatmeal with lavender from her garden.

Diaper Pail Deodorizer

Simply put 10 drops of orange, lemon, peppermint, or lavender essential oil on a cotton round and attach to your diaper pail.  I love the diaper pail liners that have a built in pocket for such a deo-disk.  Mine doesn’t. 

Diaper Rash Treatment

Coconut oil is fantastic!  Combine coconut oil with nakey time and say bye-bye to diaper rash.  Or use the calendula oil you made earlier.

Bug Repellent

Lemon Balm grows in my herb garden and anywhere else it escapes to.  I grab a leaf and rub it on arms/legs.  You can also make a spritzer by boiling the leaves.   

Tummy-ache and Gas Medicine

Fennel tea.  Fennel is inexpensive.  I grind mine just a bit in the coffee grinder and make the tea in a french press.  Let it cool.  You can give with a medicine dropper, make into popsicles, add to a bottle, or for older babies, put in a sippy.  You can also combine with chamomile or catnip for a sleepy tea.  When Norah has a tummy-ache, I add peppermint.

Certainly with all of the above concoctions, be smart.  Try out a tiny bit on your baby’s skin first to make sure there are no allergic reactions. 

The item I don’t try to make frugally or find inexpensive alternatives is sunscreen.  I’m still a big fan of Jason’s Mineral Sunbrellas.  You can find a fantastic cheat sheet from safemama on sunscreens here.

What do you have to add?