Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Cloth Wipes for the Win!!!

I always find it amusing when people come into the store, and tell me that while they are on board with cloth diapering, there is NO WAY they will use cloth wipes. For some unknown reason, they feel that is going too far. Why use cloth wipes? Well, if you were using disposable diapers and wipes, you would wipe your baby, place the wipe in the diaper and throw it away. With cloth diapers and cloth wipes, you do pretty much the same thing- put the dirty wipe in the diaper, and chuck it into your wet bag; it all gets washed together. But if you are using disposable wipes, with cloth diapers, you just made an extra step for yourself- you wipe, have to find a place to set the poopie wipe while you finish your diaper change, then throw the wipe into the trash can, and put your diaper in your wet bag. Inevitably, you will end up washing some disposable wipes. It’s not a huge issue, but why create extra work and expense? Another reason to use cloth wipes is because they actually work better than disposables! They really do! With a really messy diaper, you can use around five, six, maybe more disposable wipes. I have NEVER needed more than two cloth wipes. Seriously! Plus, with cloth, you know what you are putting against your baby’s butt. Those disposables? They contain preservatives and parabens (to keep the liquid solution from going rancid), humectants (to make sure they don’t dry out), surfactants (to clean and lubricate), and artificial fragrance (so your baby can smell like an artificial baby). The wipes themselves are made of a variety of textiles, including strands made of melted plastic. Yuck! I decided to make my own cloth wipes while nesting before my last baby was born. I hunted out the cutest, softest flannels, cut and stitched simple squares. It was that easy. Then my older kids accidentally ripped a nice fitted sheet, and rather than trash it, I cut that sucker up as well. Repurposed! I felt great about not throwing that soft, patterned flannel away! Here I am a year and a half later, and I’ve noticed those cute flannels have faded under constant washing, and some have thinned. I figured it’s about time to make some more. Unfortunately, being a homeschooling, part-time working mom of three kids has left me NO time to make more. I decided to go ahead and purchase some to supplement my stack and save myself the stress of trying to do it all. I found there are so many options! There are standard flannel- both patterned, and plain unbleached natural, and there are Kissaluvs Premium organic cotton, and Lucky Green Baby wipes. I’ve already used the standard wipes; I was ready to try something different. So I grabbed a few of the Kissaluvs- they run 2 bucks a piece, but oh, the luxury! They have a cute flannel pattern on one side, and super soft organic cotton velour on the other! I’d heard these wipes are wonderful used dry for snotty baby noses and since we had some snotty noses at home, that was my first experience with them! They worked great! Super soft on sore little noses, no redness, no screaming when we needed to wipe. I went ahead and washed them with my diapers, but felt almost resistant to trying something so nice on a poopie butt. But I did. The flannel side worked like my normal wipes, and the longer nap on the velour side was prefect for creases, and gave a smooth wipe. I will say, the two sides shrink up once washed, and never make a perfect square again, but…who cares? Next I tried Lucky Green Baby wipes! These wipes, made by a local stay at home mom, are also two-sided- one side with flannel, the other with soft cotton terry. These have become my go-to wipe for poop messes! The terry side cleans the stuck on poo; fold, flip, and the flannel side just wipes the whole area clean. Smooth and easy! And since all the fabrics had been pre-washed, they stay perfect squares that don’t get lumpy when you fold them. And either of these wipes would make great baby wash cloths as well! Lastly, people always ask how to use cloth wipes. Do you presoak them so they are already moist? Use them dry? What do you use as a wipes solution? The answers vary from person to person. Everyone seems to have their own preference. For the longest time, I kept mine pre moistened, in a wipes warmer, and in a normal wipes case in my diaper bag. Then, I had some wipes in the diaper bag for too long, and when I opened it, they smelled a little funky from sitting so long with no chemicals keeping them “fresh”. So I decided to try another method many of my CD friends recommend- I keep my wipes dry, and keep a peri bottle (you know, the kind they give you at the hospital after having a baby) with my wipes solution in it. I squirt what I need right onto the wipe (and okay, sometimes straight on my baby’s bum), and wipe! I really like this method because I can keep a corner dry to dry off the creases before putting a new diaper on. I close up the bottle top, and it easily tucks into my diaper bag- and now I have dry wipes handy for snotty noses too. As far as solutions go- again, you have lots of options! You can buy a concentrated solution you mix with water, a handy foaming pump or spray for your diaper bag, check out some options here: Or, make your own solution. There are a variety of recipes out there. I use about 2 cups of water, 1-2 Tbs of whatever baby wash we have handy, a few drops of tea tree oil (it’s antibacterial, antiviral, and antimicrobial, so it keeps your wipes fresh!), lavender oil (it an antiseptic and antifungal…but I just like the smell), and a ½ tsp of olive or coconut oil to give a smooth wipe, and protect baby’s bum. And some people…just use plain old fashioned water. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

We Survived Potty Training!

Can I make a confession? When I was pregnant with my first I was not afraid of morning sickness, hemorrhoids or unmedicated birth. I was afraid of potty training the child. Insane, right? The very concept has always struck fear deep in my heart. Luckily, my first son basically taught himself a little before three. My second? Not so much. I started him using the potty at about two and a half without a lot of luck. It was not until last month that he showed some interest and made any progress. Before I knew it he was full trained! I can now say (bittersweetly...) that we are a diaper-free house! Now that I have emerged victorious from the potty training (or potty learning if you prefer) gauntlet I wanted to share some thoughts and product recommendations. I am not going to pretend as though I am the potty training guru because, well, I am not. First, cloth training pants. Let's face it, disposable training pants are expensive and sort of gross. Cloth training pants, on the other hand, are reusable and adorable. There are several different brands and styles on the market but the Blueberry Trainer has been very popular among staff and customers alike. They are made to feel like real underwear and are good at catching daytime accidents. The inner lining is made with a super soft cotton velour and a hidden layer of microterry and PUL that make these trainers great for small accidents. I would not recommend these for overnight as they are not designed to hold much pee. Added bonus? The prints are cute! I told you! My son did not have any problems pulling them up and down like some other trainers we had tried out. I liked how nicely they washed up. Word to the wise though, they shrink a good deal so order a size up if your child's weight is in between two sizes! Another great potty training item to keep handy is the My Carry Potty. This potty is great for use at home or on the go and does not require the use of disposable bags. Bonus feature? It seals shut to keep its contents inside until you can get to a bathroom. I bought it knowing how much my kids hate the self-flushing toilets that are now in most public restrooms- it freaks them out. We took this bad boy to a local amusement park and avoided long bathroom lines and stayed accident free all day! Once my littlest gets over his fear of the flushing surprises in public restrooms we will keep this in the car for roadside potty emergencies. We have a great variety of potty training supplies in the store and online- from trainers to books to a success chart. Check it out!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

It’s that time of year again!

Here we go again, after a mild winter and rainy spring, summer is suddenly upon us! The last few days have been hot and humid, with lots of gorgeous sunshine. With that sunshine comes some intense UVA and UVB rays. Skin protection is important for the entire family and ever year I find myself looking for the best sunscreen available to slather on mine and my children’s skin. We must go through 2 or 3 bottles a summer! That being said, today’s sunblocks are often loaded with chemicals and toxins. One out of every four sunscreens available on the market contain excessive levels of Vitamin A, an additive that can accelerate the growth of skin tumors and lesions. The Environmental Working Group has exposed many of these sunblocks, finding “from hormone-disrupting compounds to lung-damaging nanoparticles, ingredients in sunscreens may protect the skin but pose other kinds of health risks.” Since our skin is our largest organ and 60% of what we put on it is absorbed into the bloodstream, we must choose carefully the products we use. This last Memorial Day weekend I was on the hunt for some good, safe, NON-TOXIC sunblock to put on my children. After reviewing the many, many different varieties available, I decided to go with the recommendation from a co-worker to grab a bottle of the Loving Naturals Clear Face sunscreen. Loving Naturals is a company based in New Hampshire. The couple that started the company in 2005 were concerned about the heavy burden of toxins and chemicals every person on the planet has to carry, starting prenatally. They set out to make a new line of products that were as gentle and natural on the body as possible. So far, the line includes sun care, baby bath products, children’s bath products, moisturizers, body washes, and all natural insect repellant. The sunscreen boasts two different types. The Adorable Baby product is formulated specifically for delicate baby skin. The Clear Face line is appropriate for use on the face, but can be used on the whole body. The Loving Naturals SPF 30 is an adult sunscreen that is for the entire body, but is a bit heavier in texture. Both of these types are also available in a convenient stick. All sunscreens are formulated with non-nano zinc oxide as the main protecting ingredient. Zinc oxide offers a wide range of protection from UVA and UVB rays, while staying safe, pure, and non-toxic. Other ingredients include organic sunflower oil, organic shea and cocoa butters, beeswax, organic hemp oil, coconut oil, organic raw sugar, and aspen bark extracts. They are water resistant, cruelty-free, and completely vegan. The Adorable Baby product is also gluten free. Feeling comfortable with these ingredients, I went ahead and grabbed a small bottle (2.5 oz) and a large bottle (4.3 oz). The sunblock itself is pretty thick, I had to warm it between my hands to make it a bit softer before applying it. Once it is softened, it spreads very easily and doesn’t leave any funky traces of white on the skin. None of these products have any weird or overwhelming artificial scents added to them. I applied the whole body sunblock once in the morning (manufacturer recommendations are to apply 30 minutes before sun exposure) and then several hours later as the kids weren’t swimming, just playing a lot in the sun. I noticed that the sunblock does tend to be somewhat greasy, and leaves almost a thick protective barrier on the skin. This might bother some people, but I would rather take a more natural product loaded with antioxidant oils then something artificial and toxic any day. I chose the Loving Naturals all over sunblock for myself and then I forced my husband to put some on his arms and neck(MEN!). I am so glad I made my entire family put this on! When I looked at my skin and the kids later that evening, we were COMPLETELY burn free! I am very pleased with Loving Naturals and I will absolutely be purchasing more products from them soon. Next up is the Loving Naturals Insect Repellent. I have already heard some excellent reviews, so I am excited to try it on my family while camping this summer. Try out the sunblock, you won’t be disappointed!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Spotlight on.... JILL!

Today we are starting a new series to introduce you all to our employees J These are the faces you see when you walk in the store. First up is Jill Mills… 1: Give us a little about you! I'm Jill - owner of Heartlove Photography :)I grew up in Pasadena, MD, spent the last 4 years at Camp Lejeune and now we’re back home in MD. I am married to Zack and together we have Miss Delilah, 2, and Madeline, 9 months, plus 2 crazy mutts, Crimson and Clover. I am a 2011 graduate of UNC Wilmington with a bachelor's in Elementary Education - I joke that it makes me a highly qualified Mom since I do not plan on teaching in the near future. I'm a self-taught photographer - I went to the University of CreativeLive & Google. 2: How did you start using cloth? When I was pregnant with my first, I had a great friend who introduced me to the crunchy parenting world. She made me my first sling, showed me how to fold a prefold and coached me through those tough first days of breastfeeding. I was very reluctant at first, but once I knew about the benefits of cloth diapers, breastfeeding and babywearing – it’s the only decision that made sense for our lifestyle. 3: How did you come to work at Soft & Cozy? After being away for a few years, we moved back to MD and none of my old friends had children yet. After finding friendship at a diaper store in Wilmington, NC – I knew I’d find like-minded moms at a similar place. In February, I googled “Baltimore Cloth Diapers” and Soft and Cozy came up. I packed the kids in the car and we left immediately – Stephanie and Tova greeted me and they mentioned the store was hiring and that I could bring my nursling. The next day I applied and by the end of the week I was working with come other incredible moms and have lucky to meet new friends everyday! 4: Everyone has an opinion these days – what’s your best parenting advice? From every angle, many moms feel their parenting decisions are under attack – the media, their own parents, their friends (sometimes friends who don’t even have kids yet!), even strangers tend to weigh in out in public. I think the best advice I have is that you do not have to put down other moms to validate your own decisions. Be positive and let love guide the words you say – vaccines, circumcision, epidurals… no matter if you are for or against, there is no reason to put another mom down for her decision. We can’t imagine the road another took in their journey to motherhood; you don’t know what drove them to make the decisions they did or how they may regret the way things have worked out. It’s easy to be defensive about your choices when so many are weighing in, but you can stand for your beliefs without tearing others down. 5: and a picture: