Traveling Baby Series: Camping in Yosemite

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After learning from our test-run camp trip to Point Reyes, we were much better prepared for a big camping trip. When we decided to move to Oregon, we knew we needed one last great family memory in California. And we knew it had to be Yosemite. It was calling us, begging our souls to come.  So I planned this time. I researched the campgrounds and booked a good campsite. I planned a route there, and an alternate if we him Bay Area traffic. We also planned to leave at non-commute time. I made packing lists way ahead of time, looked up camping supply lists to make sure I wasn’t missing anything, and had Michael double check, too. There was no way I was forgetting anything this time, let alone important things like pillow and blankets. We even packed up most of the car the night before. We were ready this time.

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My little car loaded to the max!!

So that morning came, and we left right on time. I planned to leave around Jack’s nap time, so he fell a sleep shortly after we hit the freeway. We woke up right around lunch time, so we stopped in Manteca for lunch and picked up a few more supplies before we headed into the Sierra. It was all going great…

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SO glad we brought his dump truck!

…then  Jack fell apart. He would not go down for his second nap, just kept crying. So I pulled out my phone and put on Curious George for him, but we lost signal and he got pissed. He was screaming and screaming. Then we started to go up Priest Grade and hit the winding part. There was no where to pull over and I needed to keep the stuff in the front seat from smashing into Michael. All the sudden I heard a weird sound and looked at Jack, he was puking. A lot. All over the carseat. And now crying even harder. I pulled the basket off his dump truck to catch the puke and calm him down the best I could. I yelled to Michael to pull over as soon as possible, and he did as soon as he saw a side road. We both knew he inherited Michael’s motion sickness and felt so bad for him. We got him out, let him breath some fresh air and rebalance his equilibrium. Sadly we had no choice but to load him back in the car and continue on.

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He fell asleep for a bit, but the Park Ranger accidentally woke up him when we got to the entrance to the Park. And then he threw-up some more. We got to the campground and got him out as fast as we could. He was much happier out of the car, and even asked for a snack.

Back to when we entered the park, I was stunned. Yosemite is even more beautiful than I ever imagined. Half Dome took my breath away. Every waterfall, every creek, every tree. Beyond words.

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We got there around 3 PM, so we set-up camp and went for walk in the woods around the campsite. I was so happy to babywearing in the wild. We found a log by the river and started to watch the pink sunset on the granite walls.

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Then we went back to for dinner and got Jack ready for bed. I put him in a base layer of a oneies and leggings. Then we put a big fleece sleeper suit over it. Then I wrapped him in my thickest woven wrap and nursed him to sleep. He was out within 15 minutes. Michael and I sat by the fire (we bought PLENTY of firewood from the store at Curry Village as soon we arrived this time).

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All bundled up and slept great!

After awhile, we went off to bed. We had a much better sleeping arrangement this time. We bought a queen-sized air mattress, brought plenty of blankets and pillows, and good warm clothes. Jack slept between us, so to practice safe co-sleeping, Michael and I each had our own blanket so Jack didn’t get covered up. We were all nice and warm, which was amazing considering that night it dropped to 25 degrees!

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After breakfast in the morning, we headed off for hiking. We check out Yosemite Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, the Lodge, and Yosemite Village. Then Jack had a meltdown. He was exhausted but would not falls asleep in the carrier. He was too excited by all the stuff around him.

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I knew he would go ballistic if we put him back in the car so I decided to walk the 2.5 miles back to the campsite wearing Jack in the Tula.  Michael drove the car back to the campsite and waited patiently for us and hoped we didn’t eaten by a bear (we had no phone reception).

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He fell asleep quickly and I had a wonderful hour-long stroll back to the campsite. I got to stare at the glory of Half Dome the whole time. When I arrived, Jack woke up and we just relaxed around the campsite.

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He has some manners…lol

Later that night, we got dressed up a little and went to dinner at Yosemite Lodge. Michael and I order big fancy drinks and big fancy dinners. It was nice to do something special as a family, Jack had mac and cheese. But he quickly became interested in Papa’s roast duck. After a few bites he decided he needed to entertain the restaurant. So Michael and I took turns, one eat while the other walked him around. He had to stop at every table, say hi and dance a bit, then move on to the next table. Luckily everyone thought he was adorable and was very nice to him. It was a great special night out with my boys. Then back to the campsite, for beer around for us and nursing to sleep all bundled in the wrap for Jack.

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It’s so exhausting getting carried up a mountain.

The next day was our big hiking day. We hiked up Vernal Falls, Jack slept most of the way up. That is a wonderful hike, I highly recommend it! It’s steep, but paved so very doable. Took us about 2 hours around trip going slow.

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Right after the best nursing session ever!

Then I had the most beautiful moment in my breastfeeding career to date. Michael ran up closer to the falls while Jack and I chilled on the rocks. We gazed out over the valley, nursed, and basked in the California sun. Then some snarky teenage punk made a nasty comment about me breastfeeding in public. And before I could even think of a response, this older woman snapped at him for me. She told him it is rude to insult a mother good a nothing but a good job. I thanked her profusely

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We walked back down the trail smiling, Jack even walked some of it too! Then we had a picnic lunch at the Ahwahnee. Just so you know, if you are nursing, babywearing, and hiking at the same time—-you  can eat ALL THE LUNCH you want.

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It started to rain so we went inside to explore the lodge and get a drink at the bar. Jack once again needed to wander around, so one of us drank while the other walked him.

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The back to the campsite for dinner. Jack was thrilled to eat spaghetti outdoors! Then snuggles by the campfire for the last time. That night went below freezing again and there was a little thunder, but we cozy and warm in out tent.

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“I’m helping pack up!”

In the morning we packed up and said good-bye to Yosemite. We timed leaving so Jack be asleep for most of the winding part of the road back, but we didn’t know about the construction. We got stopped for 15 minutes and he woke up. He was not amused. By the time we got moving again, he was screaming to get out of the car. Then the road got windy again and he turned green. I yelled for Michael to pull over. We let him calm down for a bit, but we needed to get going so I put him back in and kept his bucket near by. We just had to make it 30 miles down the road to Mariposa to stop for lunch. But it felt like an eternity. I tried to keep him looking out the window so he would keep his bearings and not get sick—but that is easier said than done with a one-year-old! Just as he started crying again and kinda gagged a little, we made it into town. I told Michael to pull over into the first thng possible and I ripped him out of the car. Crisis avoided.

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Poor baby, no way he was going back in the car that soon.

But were we pulled over was about a mile away from downtown with the restaurants and shops. No was I was going to put him back in the car yet, so in the Tula he went and Michael drove downtown to wait for us. It was a lovely walk, the Sheriff even stopped to ask if we were okay. He totally understood when I said baby was not having the car ride and told me a faster way to walk to downtown. We had lunch, strolled around bit until Jack was good and tired for a nap. Then we got back on the road and went home without any more issues. It was a wonderful trip (throwing up aside) and the perfect send-off for California.

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I don’t really have any different advice from my previous post. Maybe just bring a bucket just in case your baby gets sick. And if your baby can walk (Jack decided to walk about a week earlier), bring a carrier. This was the only we kept Jack out of the dinner when we were cooking. Major lifesaver!

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I hope this inspires you to take your little one some awesome family adventures!

Traveling Baby Part 4: Camping with Baby Test Run

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I married a man who loves the outdoors. Good thing I am a lady who loves the outdoors, too! So naturally we were chomping at the bit to take Jack camping.  We had talked about doing something big like Yosemite or Big Basin, but weren’t sure how to go about it with a baby. One day when Jack was 6-months-old, I mentioned to Michael one Wednesday night I really wanted to drink beer by a roaring fire. He said okay, make it happen that weekend! So after a quick search I found all the popular places in the Bay Area were booked solid until the winter. I eventually found a small private campground outside Point Reyes that had tent only drive-up spaces up. Booked it for one night to give camping with a baby a try.

Jack Played while we set-up
Jack Played while we set-up

We left bright and early Saturday morning, hoping to spend most of the day at the beach. But we hit tons of traffic as soon as we approached San Francisco.

'Are we there yet!!"
‘Are we there yet!!”

What should have been a 2 hour drive turned into 4 hours. But we got to the campsite around 2 PM, so the day wasn’t totally wasted. We set-up camp, had a late lunch, and headed out to the beach.

“What is this stuff?”

Oh, it was glorious. Jack’s first real time at the beach. He played in the sand, we strolled down the beach as a family, and he touched the ocean for the first time.

It was warm, but not hot. A slight breeze bringing in the sweet smells of the ocean. It was perfect…minus the fact that later I found out I was bitten by a tiny spider and ended up getting a terrible infection.

Sleeping Jack snuggled up on my lap by the fire.
Sleeping Jack snuggled up on my lap by the fire.

Then we headed back to camp and I started to make dinner. Then we found out the office closes at 5 PM and no other place in the area sells firewood! I drove all around the area looking, not even branches on the side of the road to pick up! Luckily there was a very nice couple next to us who brought an insane amount of extra stuff, including firewood. They generously gave us some. After dinner, we sat around our small fire (not the roaring one I imagined) and I nursed Jack to sleep on my nursing pillow. We chatted and sipped our beers until the stars came out.

"Please don't make me sleep in a box! I want to be warm snuggled between my parents!"
“Please don’t make me sleep in a box! I want to be warm snuggled between my parents!”

Then we moved to the tent. I had this idea to have Jack sleep in a box with a side cut open next to us, like a co-sleeper. Yeah, he wasn’t having any of that. He wanted want to be snuggled in mama’s arms. I went to put him down between us and I realized something horrible…we forgot pillows and warm blankets! So I quickly wrapped Jack in an extra sleep sack to keep him warm. And settled him down onto my sleeping pad, giving him most of the space. Michael I made makeshift pillows and blankets out of the clothes, wraps, and towels we brought. It ended up being a very cold night for Michael and I. We got hardly any sleep. Also, I was so concerned with keeping Jack warm, but not smothering him with blankets that I could not sleep. Jack kept having night terrors and screaming every time I relaxed, too. So when the sun came up at like 6:30 AM, we all just got up.

The trail along the beach.

After breakfast, we packed up and drove off to explore the rest of Point Reyes. We checked out the historic ranches and the light house.

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Teaching Jack about sandstone formations at the Light House.

On the way out, we stopped at the park and walked the earthquake trail. It was so much fun, despite being tired (and at this point my spider bite started to swell).

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Jack and I are on the North American Plate, Michael is on the Pacific Plate.

After that we headed back…and hit the Bay Area traffic again almost immediately. It took 4 hours to get home again (plus a stop at In and Out for dinner).

So what did I learn from that trip? A LOT!

  • Make a list and check it three times! I cannot believe we forgot pillows and blankets. And we forgot several other smaller things, too. It worked out overall, but it made it more complicated. Would you believe I only brought 15 diapers? It was just enough, I used the last one when I changed him at In and Out.
  • If your baby can’t walk, bring a Pack ‘n’ Play with a crib sheet to cover it. That way you can set baby down in the safe place while you do stuff like start the fire. And the sheet keeps bugs and leaves from falling in.
  • Bring enough toys. I only brought a few toys and Jack got bored of them quickly.
  • Although spare of the minutes plans do work out, I suggest giving yourself more than a few days if you have a baby. Less likely for things to go wrong and you can book a good site well in advance. Our site was great, but it would have been nice to have been in the actual park.
  • Don’t leave at peak traffic times and avoid busy routes if you can. Babies and traffic do not mix. Especially breastfeed ones, Jack was mad I ran out of pumped milk and was screaming for boobs. If we had planned it more, I would have left late Friday night, got there late with a sleep baby to avoid the rush of weekend travels. I also would have gone around the East Bay, and avoided the city.
  • Plan for all types of weather. I was worried we would be too hot at night, so I didn’t pack a lot of warm clothes. Well, I forgot about the fog in the North Bay. It makes everything moist, cold, and damp. If I had brought more warm clothes for Michael and I, it wouldn’t have mattered that we forgot blankets.
  • Lastly, bring a carrier. It will be save your sanity. We can walk, nurse, feed baby, put them down for a nap, and keep them warm while you go about your trip. Plus it is way easier to transfer a sleep baby to bed from a carrier than a big cumbersome nursing pillow.

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    Cold morning, warm mama and baby.

Check out my next post of how our next camping trip to Yosemite a few months later was a major hit from using what we learned on our test-run.

Baby-Led Weaning Menu

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Enough people have asked me for it, so here it finally is! A detailed sample menu on what I usually feed my son with baby-led weaning. Before I start, I need to make several things very clear. I am not a nutritionist. I am not a dietitian. I am not a pediatrician. And I am not a doctor.  I am a mom sharing what worked for her child. I based my decisions on the advice of my son’s pediatrician, a nutritionist we saw briefly, the book “Baby-Led Weaning”, the book ” My Child Won’t Eat” , advice various moms shared with me during La Leche League meetings, and my own instincts. Please talk to your doctor, do your own research, and listen to your own heart first.

So, say now you decide baby-led weaning is right for your family and your baby is ready to start (see this post on the signs of readiness). Where do you start? I had no idea! So I just started offering Jack foods that made sense to me and eventually figure out what worked for us. As he got bigger, things changed so I just went with his cues. Overall I never made him eat anything he didn’t want to. Likewise, I let him try almost anything he asked for, within reason.

I have divided things up into two menus, one for no-teeth and one for teeth. When Jack was ready for solids, he had no teeth so he didn’t like things that required a lot of hard chewing (and babies can absolutely chew with no teeth, just takes awhile). Once he got teeth, he was happier to have a bigger variety. And as he got older, he also wanted more options. I tried to keep things simple when he was first starting out so he didn’t get overwhelmed.

Both menus are not vegan, since Jack is not all vegan. But you can easily change the menu to any dietary need. Replace milk yogurt with any non-dairy yogurt. Do scrambled tofu instead of eggs. Do more beans and lentils instead of beef or ham. Vegetable soup instead of chicken soup.

image-0001No-Teeth Menu: I offered Jack three meals a day, but it was hit or miss if he would play with the food or eat it for the longest time. Overtime he started to eat more.

Breakfast:

  • Mango Slices: cut them into big wedges and you can even leave some skin on to make them easier to hold. No, they will not eat the skin. And if they try, tell your baby nicely no no no.
  • Avocado Toast: Cut a strip of toast that baby can easily hold.  You can also do just toast or just avocado as well.
  • Oatmeal and Fruit: I’m not talking that gross runny baby cereal. I mean real, stove top old fashioned oats. Add some mashed or puréed fruit instead of sugar. No need for a spoon or bowl either, just place some on tray in front of baby. They will scoop it up and eat what they want.
  • Plums: Soft, easy to chew and tasty. Just cut into smaller pieces.
  • Strawberries: Cut them up or mash them a little.
  • Bananas: Leave the peel on one side so baby can pick it up easier.
  • Scrambled Eggs: Cook them hard and don’t add salt. This is still Jack’s favorite breakfast.
  • Yogurt and fruit: Go for full fat, unsweetened Greek yogurt if you can. Add some fruit for sweetness. Then just place it front of them, let their little fingers scoop and dip to their delight.

Lunch:

  • Cucumber and hummus: Cut the cucumbers into match sticks and remove the seeds. Put some no-salt added hummus on the tray for them to dip. It may take awhile before your baby gets the dipping motion, but no worries. They will probably just eat them separately for awhile.
  • Roasted Veggies: Roast up some fresh seasonal veggies in a bit olive oil and other spices. Get them soft but firm enough to be picked up. Then let our baby gnaw and suck away.
  • Soba Noodles and Bell Pepper Sticks: Cook up some soba noodles or other whole grain pasta, coat lightly with a little sesame oil or coconut oil. Add bell pepper sticks to gnaw on too. Baby can play and slurp up the noodles and feel the contrast with the crunchy peppers. Check out my recipes here.
  • Bone Broth and Rice/Quinoa/Barley: Make your own homemade bone broth and serve it with a tasty whole grain. Sometimes I do spoon feed Jack soup if he asks me to. But no reason why you can’t put the bowl in front of them and let them scoop it out with their hands. Or place some rice soaked in the broth on the try in front of them to pick up.
  • Smashed Sweet Potatoes: Boil or roast some sweet potatoes until they are tender. Then take a fork and lightly smash them. Not mashed into a puree, leave some chunks to grab. Add some butter, oil, or bone broth for flavor, too.
  • Beans: Cook your favorite kind of beans (we like Pinto and Kidney beans in this house). They are perfect size to pick up and and chew with no teeth

I also use some breakfast options for lunch too.

Dinner:

  • Chicken and Brown Rice: Make your favorite chicken recipe for dinner and cut off some small chunks with no skin or bones for baby. And make a flavorful rice dish on the side, or just serve some plain rice.  Just go easy on the salt and hot spices.  Your baby might not be able to chew the chicken all the way at first, but they can suck the juices out of the meat easily.
  • Ham and Green Beans: Make a nice ham steak and some tasty pan-fried green beans (easy on the salt). Just like the chicken, baby can either chew or suck on the meat. And green beans are already the perfect sized stick for baby to pick up!
  • Lentil Soup: I either make classic lentil soup and veggies in a tomato broth, or Indian dhal. Jack loves both! Sometimes I do spoon feed Jack soup if he asks me to. But no reason why you can’t put the bowl in front of them and let them scoop it out with their hands.
  • Beef Stew: I make my a nice pot of beef stew (seitan stew for me) with carrots, potatoes, celery, and peas. Throw it in the slow-cookers in the morning and it’s ready for dinner. The meat is tender enough for baby to chew or suck on. The veggies are soft enough to eat but still be picked up.

I also use some lunch options for diner.

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Teeth Menu: Once Jack got some teeth, I noticed a big difference in what he wanted to eat. He started to eat close to three meals a day and wanted more complex foods. I could also serve foods on plates and bowls without him flipping them over. He also slowly developed more dexterity and could use a spoon or fork. He still liked some of the simper foods from the no-teeth list, too.

Breakfast

  • Nut Butter Toast: My nutritionist said unless you have a family history of nut allergies, then you are okay to give a younger child nuts. That being said, please ask your pediatrician first. I waited until Jack could communicate better  (a few words and signs) to me before I offered any to him. I tried peanut butter, cashew, and almond. He loved them all. I cut the toast into strips like with the avocado toast.
  • Mango and Strawberries: No need to mash up the berries anymore. And I started to cut bigger wedges of mango since he could actually bite into them now.
  • Pancakes and Bacon: I make whole wheat silver dollar pancakes. Sometimes I use fruit puree or jam as syrup. And he loves sharing bacon with daddy. Already comes in a strip form too! At first he just sucked it, now he can eat a whole piece on his own. I buy organic and nitrate-free.
  • Waffles Dippers: Make normal waffles and cut them into strips. Offer some yogurt, jams, or nut butter to dip.
  • Cereal and Milk:  Buy some no-sugar, whole grain organic cereal and non-dairy milk.  At firs they may just scoop the cereal out with their hands, but eventually they will get how to do the spoon.

Lunch:

  • Mac N Cheese with veggies: Make your favorite mac and cheese (try mine), then add some frozen veggies. We like Amy’s Cheddar and Shells with frozen peas and carrots.
  • Fried Rice: Take left over rice, add some veggies and chicken or tofu. Lightly season with soy sauce. For fun, add some pineapple.
  • Fish Cakes: We were on WIC for awhile and got a crazy amount of canned fish each month. So I made from salmon or tuna cakes with grated carrots, panko, and eggs. I popped them in the freezer for an easy lunch whenever we were busy. I made them small so Jack could pick them up easily and bite them.
  • Sandwich: Turkey and Swiss, Ham and cheddar, grill cheese, avocado and tomato, PB&J… you get the idea. I made little fingers sandwiches so he didn’t get overwhelmed. He still usually deconstructs them though, but gets the general idea.
  • Veggies Pancakes: Similar to Fish cakes. I grated up carrots, radishes, parsnips.  I added cornmeal and eggs to make little pancakes. I froze them and used them when we were too busy to cook.
  • Pasta Salad: I like to use spiral pasta since it’s easy for them to grab. Add some black olive slices, cut up artichoke hearts, grated carrots, haled cherry tomatoes, and dress with some olive oil and spices. Easy to make and tasty for everyone.
  • Chicken Nuggets: I buy organic, all white meat nuggets (sometimes I make my own if I have time). I give him either no-sugar added ketchup or hummus to dip them in. Easy and already bite-sized.
  • Hot Dogs and Celery: I get nitrate-free organic hot dogs and cut them into pieces and cut the pieces in half (so they aren’t circular to choke on). I cut the celery into short sticks for him to munch on (great for teething!).
  • String Cheese, Crackers, and Turkey slices: Easy lunch on the go. String cheese is easy to hold and eat. Get some whole-grain, no salt crackers that are easy for baby to pick up. And cut up some turkey or other meat slices.
  • Quesadillas:  Cheese and whole wheat tortilla, and some mild salsa to dip. Cut into wedges to make it easier to pick up.
  • Chicken Soup: Add some bone broth, veggies, and chicken to a pot. Cook until veggies are tender and season lightly. Make some noodles or rice. Either let baby scoop the soup out by hand or try a spoon. Messy but usually a hit with every baby! This is our fall back when Jack is cranky and refuses other foods.
  • Curry Noodles: Check out my recipe. Easy and a great way to introduce spices to your baby.

Dinner:

  • Rice Pilaf, Veggies, and Chicken: A step-up from plain chicken and rice. Make your favorite pilaf recipe, chicken recipe, and roasted veggies. Just go easy on the salt. Cut the chicken into reasonable-sized pieces. If they are going to use a fork, make them smaller. Pick them up, a little bigger.
  • Spaghetti and Meatballs: Get your favorite space pasta, sauce, and meatball recipe. Cut the meatballs into half or quarters. You may want to noodles in half if they long, but usually they figure out how to slurp it up anyways. No fork needed, let them have fun!
  • Tacos: Meat, beans, tortilla, cheese and some mild salsa. At first I made deconstructed ones, now he gets built ones (that he deconstructs on his own). Who doesn’t love tacos?
  • Pizza: We usually have pizza every Friday, so check out one of my recipes here. Mostly homemade, sometimes who buy it. At first I took the toppings off,  pulled the cheese into pieces, and  cut the crust into pieces. Then let Jack pick what he wanted. Now he likes his own small slice to pick up. He likes Hawaiian pizza, but try whatever pizza you like.
  • Lentil Burgers and Sweet Potato Fries: Check out my recipe here. I usually just offer him a mini patty, sugar-free ketchup, and a few fries. Easy to pick up and packed with nutrients.
  • Enchiladas: Make a low-salt version of your favorite recipe. I like either white enchiladas with white beans or smokey red sauce with sweet potatoes. Again messy, but a usually a big hit.
  • Stir Fry with Brown Rice: Clear out all the veggies in your fridge and freezer. Add some soy sauce or teriyaki sauce. Throw some tofu or chicken in, too. Make some brown rice and enjoy an easy dinner. Just make sure everything is bite-sized and no round so baby can choke.
  • Ravioli: Make your favorite frozen ravioli (or make your own if you can) and your favorite sauce. You may want to cut the noodles in half if they are big, but another easy but big hit dinner.
  • Barley Vegetable Soup: Check out my recipes here. Like I said, soup is usually a big hit and easy to make.
  • Lasagna: Easy to make and very versatile. Meat or all veggies. Cheese or no cheese. Red or white sauce. And fun for baby to take apart and eat.
  • Chili and Corn Bread: Throw beans, spices, tomato paste and water into a slow-cooker in the morning. Make some corn bread in the afternoon. Easy and fun to eat.
  • Tamales: I suck at making tamales (see here), I opt to buy them fresh if I can. But they are small enough to pick up, but big enough to bite into easily. And a variety of filings for a fun surprise for baby.

I hope this helps you and your baby on your own baby-led weaning journey! Feel free to comment with your own suggestions as well, I’m always looking for new toddler food ideas!

Here are a few more suggestions as well:

Water Babywearing

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You know the one drawback to being an experienced mom? You get to facepalm yourself when you find a new product that could have made your life easier from the start. Babywearing allowed me to eat, go to the bathroom, and clean up around the house while keeping Jack happy. But I always had to wait until he was either asleep (and do the paranoid mom checking the monitor every 30 seconds) or wait until Michael got home. And sometimes things got so busy I forgot to shower (more like I fell asleep before I could even think of it), that it could be days before I got the chance.  Jack loved baths with me, but sometimes you need a good standing scrub to feel clean. Sometimes Michael would hold him in the shower, but it’s hard to shower and hold a baby (they get heavy after awhile!).

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Hard to thread, slid down easily, choked me, and only instructions were for front facing.

A few months later I bought a water ring sling to use at my sister-in-law’s house. It got the job done but was not comfy at all. I used in the shower when I needed to (like when I remembered it’s been 3 days since I had a good shower), but never really loved it. It made Jack happy, so I decided to hold on to it. But I knew I was not going to use it with another baby. It would be back to dreaming of showers.

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Fresh out of the box.

Then Lorene from Frogmama let me test out Wrapsody WrapDuo and everything changed. The night it arrived, Jack and I took tested it in the shower. It was a hit!

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The most fun shower ever!

We tried a Front Wrap Cross Carry, one of Jack’s favorite carries. He was so happy! All secure and tight—I could never get that stupid ring sling tight so he was never this secure before. It was easy to nurse in to (because toddler logic says a shower is a great time to nurse….).

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Happy husband to wear his son, grumpy baby ready for a nap.

A few days later I let Michael try it out at the local splash pad. Jack was grump and didn’t want to get wet. But Michael liked the wrap a lot.  He liked that I could pre-tie it on him, pop Jack in and out as needed. He said it would have been nice to have used when Jack was a newborn in the shower (that’s when I facepalmed myself).

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Jack is shocked at how supportive it is at the pool!

Then we tried it out at the pool and it was another big hit! Sadly, I forgot to check the open swim times and we only got to swim for a half an hour. But it was a savior in the showers afterward. Jack was furious we got out of the pool so early. I kept him in the wrap and rinsed us off quick and ran to the car with no fuss. It was very comfortable in a wet Robin’s Hip Carry while we got the chance though.

Pool time in FCC!
Pool time in FCC!

Lastly, we had a playdate with Myste, another Brand Ambassador, at a pool with a splash pad. It was a little chilly when we arrived but Jack wanted to check out the splash pad still. He stayed warm enough in the wrap close so my body that he was happy to play. Later we went into the pool, and Jack was still just as happy. This time we did a Front Cross Carry so I could pop him in and out as needed. And it was once again a life saver in the showers. Jack was upset playtime was over, but we got right into a warm shower and he calmed down.

Here are my final thoughts on the WrapDuo…

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Not toddler worthy when dry unfortunately.

Cons:

  • The wrap is only suitable for front and hip carries since it is a stretchy wrap. This is a good thing because it not safe to have your baby in water and not be able to see them their head level in the water. Since this is a wet/dry wrap, it kind sucks you can’t use dry on the back. It would have been a lot easier to carry my bag and the wet towels to the car after the pool with him on my back.
  • It’s not toddler worthy out the water. The dry weight limit is 20 pounds, which means Jack at 22 pounds was technically too heavy. So when I was wrapping him before the we got in the shower first time, it was really hard to get him tight enough without popping his heat. And Michael said he felt like Jack could have just leaned back and fell out when he was walking to splash pad. I am sure this would not been an issue at all with a baby under the weight limit.
  • They take a while to dry. You know how your swimsuit can still be wet after hanging in the shower hours later? The wrap is made of similar material, so it also can be awhile before it it totally dry. Not a big deal, but it is more wet thing you have to shove back into your bag.
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Even wet, it is small enough to fit in a small bag.

Pros:

  • It is easy to put on and take off. It’s light weight, glides nicely when tightening, but still makes a nice secure knot. No complicated rings to thread or buckles to snap. As long as you know the basics of wrapping, than you are set! And when Jack wanted out to play on the steps of the pool, I just pulled him right out with no fuss. Plus you can do all your favorite front and hip carries, so it is very versatile.
  • It is toddler worthy in the water. The wet weight limit is 30 pounds, which covers most kids well into toddlerhood. I never had issues tightening and securing Jack when the wrap was wet. It felt like any other good quality wrap. It did not dig or hurt in any way either.
  • Easy to store. It is very light weight and folds up small even when wet. It didn’t hog up space in the diaper bag or feel like I was carrying any extra weight.  Nothing is worse than your diaper bag weighing more than your baby.

Overall, the WrapDuo is a great wrap. Like I said, I am facepalming myself for not knowing about it when Jack was still a clingy baby who never me set him down. I could have at least been nursing him for 30 minutes straight while I took a warm shower!

Thanks Frogmama for letting us testing it out! I so need one when I have another baby.

Love In Motion: Confidence From Babywearing

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You probably have seen on Instagram and Facebook page that I am a Brand Ambassador for Wrapsody Baby. I wanted to share how this came about and how babywearing changed my life.

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This mom is tired, overwhelmed and exhausted. But thankful for her wrap!

When my son was born, I thought I knew what kind of mom I was going to be. Then reality set in. I was tired and very overwhelmed. Jack wanted to be held ALL THE TIME. I can remember vividly one night crying to my husband that I was a terrible mother because I couldn’t make my son happy. He reassured me that was not true, he’s just being a newborn. I found babywearing by chance (check it out my Babywearing Journey post) and everything changed.

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Compare this to the picture above. I look like a goddess and felt so strong. Photo credit: Mike Skelly (my dad!)

It also made me feel pretty. I lost my baby weight pretty easily, but my body was still different. Some of my old clothes didn’t fit the same. And my whole wardrobe had to be easy to nurse it. Some days this meant sweat pants and tank top—not the most attractive outfit. But once I started wearing all these gorgeous carriers with bright patterns and colors, I felt pretty good again. It was like a walking advertisement that said “Look at me! I am a mom, there is spit up on my shirt, but I am still beautiful.”

Babywearing also helped me find new social circles. I did not have too many friends in California. And the ones I did have, were not parents so it became hard to relate to them. I joined Babyweaing International to get help with wrapping and ended up meeting other awesome moms as well. Then I started talking about babywearing with my family and friends. I got so many questions that I started talking about it on this blog and on my personal Facebook. This also spread onto my Instagram and people all over the world began to comment.

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The first time we ever tried a Wrapsody at a BWI meeting. This is a Breeze Iris, I loved how light it was!

Then one day when I was just surfing Instagram I saw something interesting. Wrapsody was accepting applications for Brand Ambassadors. I figured why not? I had played with a Breeze at BWI meeting and liked it. It would be fun to work with a wrap company and learn new things.

I had to order Haumea. It reminds me of laying on the beach in Hawaii.
I had to order Haumea. It reminds me of laying on the beach in Hawaii. Photo credit: Mike Skelly (my dad!)

Then I realized I didn’t know too much about the company or the wraps. I ordered my own Breeze directly from Wrapsody and bought a Stretch-Hybrid off the Wrapsody Love Facebook group. Jack is a big boy so I was worried they might not be supportive enough. I was wrong! Both wraps are totally toddler-worthy. And they will be great for my next baby because both are soft and supportive enough for a newborn as well. They come in so many colorways, too. There is truly something for everyone (there is even a Doctor Who wrap!).

Chronos, for all my fellow Whovians!
Chronos, for all my fellow Whovians! Photo credit: Mike Skelly (my dad!)

Then I did some research on the company itself and fell madly in love. It was founded by Kristi, a mom who realized she needed a job where she could stay home with her kids and do something she loves (like me!). She loved babywearing, but could not afford carriers for $100+, so she started to make her own. Years later that morphed into a international company with multiple wraps collections. The wraps are inexpensive, quality, ethically made, and vegan! Wrapsody is still a small company today, it is just Kristi and her business partner Colleen. This is a match made in heaven for me. Their motto is “Babywearing is Love In Motion”, and that is exactly what babywearing is to me. I get to carry my son close while we explore, and I get to actively spread the love to other parents.

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I never imagined I would doing tutorials on how to babywear!

Then last week I had strange moment, the kind when your realize your dreams are coming true and can’t believe it. I came up with the idea of Wrapsody Weekly Wrap Challenge. A new carry each for 20 weeks, to help people work on their wrapping skills. I did one through BWI of the Bay Area and it helped me understand the fundamentals of wrapping. Last week Kristi posted my tutorial video for a Front Double Hammock on the Wrapsody Facebook page and I was speechless. I never imagined this is where my life would be 2 years ago. Back in July 2013, I was bawling my eyes out of fear when I found out I was pregnant. I had no idea where my life was going and how I was going to handle a baby. July 2014, I was still a confused new mom trying to figure out her place in life. And now, July 2015, I am confident mom who has plans and goals for the future. I am starting a local babywearing group in my hometown, applying to be a Volunteer Babywearing Educator with BWI of Portland, and even looking into becoming a Certified Babywearing Educator. Babywearing has opened so many doors for our family, and I am truly thankful. Thankful for the bond it created for my family. Thankful for the career options it’s providing. Thankful to Wrapsody for helping my dreams become a reality. And most of all, I am thankful for the confidence babywearing gave to me.

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Love and confidence in motion. How gorgeous is Chosen? Photo Credit: Mike Skelly (my dad!)

***This is not a sponsored blog post. These are my own, independent thoughts. Wrapsody or any other entity did not pay me to these make any statements.

So That’s Why My Nipples Are On Fire….

In my Night Weaning post, I said I would explain why I had so much nipple pain in a later post. First of all, no, I’m not pregnant (sorry family and friends who thought that). Nipple pain and even nursing aversion is very common during pregnancy though, but not my issue. My issue is one I’ve had my whole life and is only getting worse as I get older: Raynaud’s Phenomenon. In a nutshell, I have frequent poor circulation in my extremities. It causes my fingers, hands, feet and toes to get very cold and change color. People touch my hands all the time and go, “AH! YOU’RE FREEZING!” and I just shrug. I am so used to it that I don’t notice it that much anymore.  It can be painful as times, but mostly it’s just freaks out other people when I have blue fingers. It never dawned on me that it could effect breastfeeding.

Jack latched himself on my breast for the first time with no trouble at all, but he latched incorrectly. It was pretty painful, but I was so overwhelmed with everything I just let him suck away. The next day (and two very badly lacerated nipples) later, a lactation consultant came to my postpartum room and corrected it all. It was so much better, but at the point he injured me so bad it was still pretty painful. But I pushed on. Pumped if I needed a break but never gave up on latching him, no matter how much it hurt. My nipples healed very slowly, slow enough that my doctor was getting concerned. But they did heal and I didn’t think too much of it. My mom told me breastfeeding hurt for her and other women in my family, so I just accepted that it was my genetics.

Every once and awhile it would still hurt when Jack nursed.  I get this weird tingling/burning sensation in my breasts and my nipples turn white. But it wasn’t that bad, so I just kept ignoring it. I assumed he had a shallow latch or maybe a minor tongue tie. I joined La Leche League and got to meet other moms with nipple pain problems. Most of babies did have a tongue or lip tie, but what the moms described didn’t sound like my pain. They said it felt like a tiny clamp on their nipple. Never felt like that for me. And we had no other signs of tongue or lip tie.

As time went on, the pain would come and go. Some days it would be unbearable and then nothing for days. Still didn’t think too much of it. Then one day my friend post a link on Facebook called “That Latch Looks Great! Really?!?! Tell That To My Burning Nipples!”  from the Milk Meg. And there it was, number seven on the list of causes common nipple pain:

“Raynaud’s Syndrome! This is when a woman will experience vasospasm in her nipple. Women will actually notice their nipples turning from white to blue or red. This will happen immediately after a breastfeed and is not helped with correcting the latch. It is related to temperature changes on the nipple after the feed and can be exacerbated when a woman has nipple damage.”

Mind blown. My nipple pain is from stupid Raynaud’s! So I did more research and my mind was blown even more. This is why it took so long for my nipples to heal when Jack first bruised them. This is why it hurt even though Jack had a wonderful latch. This why it felt like my boobs were on fire  sometimes after Jack nursed. When I was having a bad Raynaud’s day, my pain would be worse. It all made sense now. This is just a minor disorder and I wasn’t in that much pain, so I didn’t did do too much to change it. Now I try to keep warm, stay relaxed, and apply nipple ointment after nursing if possible. It was just nice to know the reason why it hurts.

Then we moved to Oregon, which was very stressful. We had to help Jack settled in to his new routine, which was stressful. And the temperature kept going from cold to hot when we first arrived, making it hard for me to figure how to stay the right temperate. Also, Jack went through a big mental leap and growth spurt during this time. He needed lots of milk and wasn’t sleeping well. No sleep+too cold+stress+constant nursing= nipple pain city! It’s worse at night because of not sleeping well. No problems during the day, he could be latched all day and I wouldn’t mind. But at night my hands are like icicles and I want to cry when Jack is done nursing.  Things are settling down so it’s getting better. And the night weaning is also going well and hasn’t been too stressful on anyone. Overall, I am glad I know what’s causing my pain and what I can do it make it better.

I want to share this story to encourage other moms to not just ignore nipple pain. Of course check your baby’s latch first, it’s fairly common culprit. If that isn’t the issue, then consider an underlying condition. Breastfeeding should be comfortable for both you and the baby. Just because you heard that magic phrase, “That latch is perfect!” doesn’t mean you should ignore pain. I am lucky that my condition is minor and I can get through it. If you are in a lot of pain and struggling, don’t just brush it off. Talk to Le Leche League, talk to a lactation consultant,  or even talk to a doctor. You can figure it out and get through it! You just need some help and understanding.

Resources:

Vasospasm and Raynaud’s Phenomenon, BreastFeeding Inc.

Raynaud’s Phenomenon Of The Nipple: A Treatable Cause of Painful Breastfeeding, American Academy Of Pediatrics

Seeking Relief, La Leche League

Carrier Types

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There are countless way to carry your baby. I could dedicate an entire blog just to the subject of babywearing over the ages and in different cultures. But who has time for all that?  Since I get asked about babywearing and carriers a lot, I thought I would make a simple post on the most common types of carriers and provide some resources on them. Not every type of carrier is right for everyone. I LOVE wraps, but maybe you will hate how long they can to learn. So a ring sling may be your jam. Or maybe you want to skip all that fabric because it makes you hot, and go straight for a SSC. So check out the common options and think about what would work for you….

Soft Structured Carriers

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Standard Tula Prisms.

Soft Structure Carriers:  Think baby backpack. Most are pretty easy to use—just a few snaps and buckles. Most are pretty easy to put on alone and most an be shared between wearers easily. Most can do front, hip, and back carries.  Also, most are very economic and can be worn for a long time. Note I said most….not all SSC are created equal. If you buy a $35 off eBay or at Walmart, it probably won’t be that comfortable for you or the baby. Also watch on for cheap, poorly made ones from China, they can actually break and hurt your baby. But a good SSC is amazing and pay for itself overtime. And just because you hated one brand, don’t give up!

Loved this Action Baby we borrowed.
Loved this Action Baby we borrowed.

Everyone is different and there are so many brands nowadays that odds are you can find the perfect on for your needs. Common brands are Ergo, Tula, and Beco. I personally love Action Baby, but we own a Tula since that’s my husband’s favorite.

Woven Wraps

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Woven Wraps: A long piece of woven fabric that you use to secure your baby onto you. Can easily be shared between wearers, great for nursing, and can be tied in many different ways to suit your needs. Can be used for front, hip, and back carries. When tied properly, very ergonomic and comfy. However, there is a huge learning curve. It’s takes time and patience to learn how to wrap. But once you get it, it’s magic!  Once you get a carry down, it is very easy to do alone (even back carries!). Then there is the whole addiction issue….you might become a total wrap junkie and own more than you can count. There are so many brands, sizes, patterns, materials, weaves, and so on. You find one you love and suddenly want to try another. Then another. And another. Soon you’ve spent a small fortune!

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My dream wrap, Kokadi Kurma. It will be buried with me!
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My first and true love, Girasol Tahoe.

It doesn’t have to be this way though, I do know responsible people who only own one or two wraps. But it’s a fun world to get into if you can afford it. Common brands are Diddymos, Girasol, and Lenny Lamb (honestly this list could go on and on). I am a wrap girl, my two personal favorites wraps are my Girasol Tahoe and my Kokadi Kurma (both size 4).

Bei Dai/Meh Dai

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BabyHawk Copper Glow on Olive

Bei Dai/Meh Dai: An Asian-style carrier, sort of a mix between a SSC and wrap. Your baby sits in a like SSC, but you tie/wrap the straps like a wrap. Easy to use and much easier to learn than wrapping. Can be used for front, hip, and back carries. You can do some of fancier finishes like a wrap, but have the simplicity of SSC while putting your baby in. However, since the straps do not adjust like a SSC, it can be harder to share between wearers. And they can be harder to fit as your baby grows and might be too big for a newborn.  And they come in as much variety as a wraps.

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Fidella Fly Meh Dai Outer Space Blue, it’s heaven.

You can even convert a wrap into one. Common brands are Infantino Sash, and BabyHawk. I love Meh Dais for hiking, especially my Fidella Fly Meh Dai. The body panel adjusts so it can fit from newborn to toddler. And it’s sooooo cushy and soft.

Stretchy Wraps

Stretchy Wraps: A wrap made from stretchy jersey-knit fabric that you use to tie your baby onto you. Similar to a woven wrap, but with one big difference—they are NOT suitable for back carries. They should only be used for front and hip carries. Can be easily shared between wearers and very easy to put on alone. A much smaller learning curve than a woven wrap because you can pre-tie the wrap on then insert the baby. Perfect for newborns, so snuggly! And most can support a baby into toddlerhood, but it will probably be uncomfortable. The stretch makes it harder for heavier babies to stay high and the straps might dig into you.  But they are a great way to start babywearing and see if you like wrapping. And they tend to be cheaper than woven wraps. Common brands are Boba and Moby. My first baby carrier was a Boba and I loved it. So snuggly and saved my sanity with a newborn.

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Boba Wrap in Orange, the first time I ever wrapped Jack up at one week old!

*There is an exceptions to the back carry rule. A few brands make hybrid stretchy wraps ones that can be used for back carries, such as the Wrapsody Hybrid wrap .

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Back carry in our Hybrid Stretch!

With a Hybrid, you can pretty much do everything you can with a stretchy wrap (like the snuggly Pocket Wrap Cross Carry) and most of the stuff you can do with a woven (like the supportive Double Hammock). 

Ring Slings

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Lenny Lamb Heavenly Lace Large Ring Sling

Ring Slings: A piece of woven fabric with two rings attached to one end that you use to make a sling for your baby. Can be used for front, hip, and back carries. They are fairly easy to share between wearers, but since they are sized, they may not share well between two people with a big difference in size. For example, a petite wife will probably buy a small and her body-builder husband probably would want a large. They come in many colors, patterns, weaves and fabrics like woven wraps so the possibilities are endless. When picking one, watch for the quality and strength of the rings. Cheap rings run the risk of breaking and dropping your baby to the ground. Ring slings are easy to nurse in and are wonderful for newborns. Also very easy to put on alone and perfect for quick ups. There is a much smaller learning curve than woven wraps—pretty much learn how to thread the sling, place your baby correctly, and tighten. But it can get uncomfortable with a larger baby or toddler for long periods in a front or hip carry, since the weight is distributed over one side of your body. And back carries are a a bit tricky to learn, similar to woven wraps.

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Sigh, the oh so beautiful Natibaby Nebula Ring Sling. I miss it.

Common brands are Maya, Sakura Bloom, and most wrap brands make them as well. To be honest, I am not that big a ring sling fan. My favorite was my Natibaby Nebula, it was so beautiful. But like I said, not all carriers are for everyone. Ring slings and I just don’t get along well, so I sold it.

Here are some wonderful links and resources for some experts:

This is a wonderful chart Wrapsody made comparing different types of carriers. Yes, it’s a biased towards their product (and it honestly is a darn good wrap).  And it goes into more detail on carrier types than I do. But it shows you all the potential options in a carrier.

Wrap You In Love is a totally awesome babywearing Consultant in Germany. Her website is a wealth of knowledge. She explains different types of carriers here in great detail. And here she lists pretty much every brand of carrier I’ve ever heard.

Babywearing 102 is another wealth of knowledge. It started as a Tumblr and now is mainly a Facebook page. Both are a great resource. This babywearing glossary was SO helpful when I started started out.

And lastly, the ever wonderful Babywearing International. I recommend you find your local chapter and attend a meeting. You can borrow carriers until you find the right one for you and get advice on how to use them properly. The website is very helpful if you cannot attend a meeting.

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And regardless of the type of carrier you use, please remember to follow proper babywearing procedures at all times! This nifty poster can help you remember.

And just for fun, here is montage of all these carriers!

Journey Into Cloth Diapers

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I have no idea why I didn’t do cloth diapers from the start. I knew all about them too. I knew they saved you money in the long run. I knew they were better for your baby’s skin. I knew they were easier on the environment. I knew they worked very well. I even knew plenty of people who used them and where to buy them. But for some reason, I just didn’t do it! No good explanation. I planned on doing many other “crunchy” mom things from the start, but somehow I missed this one. Oh well, at least now at a one-year old we are giving it a try!

I also have no good reason as to why we switched. Disposables were working fine, and we had money for them each month. He had a minor rashes develop, but nothing too bad. Just one day I thought, “Hmmm, I want some cloth diapers!” So I asked my husband, he said that’s fine, go for it.

I started by asking friends, they told me what they liked and made good suggestions. Then I found this and this awesome links on Pinterest. And the ever-so amazing All About Cloth Diapers blew my mind as well. After reading those, I had an idea of what I wanted. I decided to try All-In-Twos (AI2) and All-In-Ones (AIO). Mainly because they are the closest the disposable diapers and not too complicated to start out.

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Clip in or stuff liner, and go. And you can just change the liner and reuse the cover too.

I ordered 12 Alva Baby AI2, since so many people recommended that brand. The covers are nice, and some of the patterns are very cute. But the basic microfiber liners they come with didn’t cut it. Jack peed straight through it in 5 minutes and soaked everything around him.

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Microfiber clipped in with a bamboo liner on top.

So I doubled up on the liners and it was better, but only lasted an hour before soaking again. I don’t have time to change my baby every hour, so I looked into a doubler liner. I settled on charcoal bamboo liners from Amazon Prime. They work great! No leaks now at all. They are easy to wash and come out very clean. They are bit bulky with both liners in, but who doesn’t love a bubble butt? Alva Baby diapers are good diapers for a good price.

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Villa Babies AIO, no need for stuffing.

Then I came across an ad suggestion on Facebook for Villa Babies. Normally, I hate ad suggestions—like how they use your browser history to target things at you. I clicked it anyways, because I was bored and looking to get more diapers. The cute patterns got me right away! Bicycles, aliens, and apples-oh my goodness, so cute! Then I saw the organic ones, what I was hoping to get all along.  I decided on AIOs and ordered a bundle deal of 12 plus a diaper pail liner. I didn’t realized that these diapers are handmade to order on a sewing machine by one momma, so I was kinda annoyed at first it took so long for a confirmation. But once Kellie emailed me back and I realized how small the company was, I understood. It also took awhile for them to arrive, but once they did, it was well worth it! They are sewn very well and the patterns are beyond cute!

This diaper contained the worst poop ever and his butt was still cute!
This diaper contained the worst poop ever and his butt was still cute!

The first day came the ultimate test, Jack had an upset tummy and had a major blow-out-potential diaper. But it was all perfectly contained! I washed it 3 days later and no stains. I am very impressed with Villa Babies. My only critiques are they can leak if you leave them for more than 3 hours (which is like almost any cloth diaper). And the tabs on the sides can droop down a little bit if you don’t get the snaps just right, but it’s not that big of a deal. These are wonderful, quality diapers. They a bit more expensive, but they are worth it to me. I’m thinking of ordering a few more soon!

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His night time diapers, LLB with hemp liners.

I used these during the day and disposables at night for a month. Jack co-sleeps in a brand new king-sized bed with us. I wanted to make sure we had no leaks before I was willing to switch to cloth at night too. All three of us would not be amused to wake up soaked in pee! Once I was sure cloth was for us, I decided to order a few more diapers and liners just for nights. Everyone kept telling me about the ease of pocket diapers and how absorbent hemp is. So I ordered 6 LLB (they are made Alva Baby but a little different) pockets and 6 hemp liners off of Amazon Prime.

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Microfiber and hemp liners stuffed in the pocket.

I put them on the night they came (doubled the microfiber liners they come with a hemp liner) and it worked great! No night leaks so far at all! This is an improvement from disposables, he had a leak at least one a week.

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First night in clothes, fit great under his pj’s and no leaks.

The LLB covers are great, the pocket is so easy to stuff. My only complaint is that the hemp liners work so well they take awhile to dry after washing. But I guess I would rather that then not work well.

Overall, I am super happy with the switch. It’s one of those “why didn’t I do this from the start!” parenting moments. We have 30 diapers in our stash and it’s a good number for us right now. He goes through about 6-8 diapers, so I wash everything about every 3 days. I wash them separately with free and clear detergent, and either hang dry or dryer. Then I stuffed with the liners (which only takes like 20 minutes) so they are ready to use. Nothing fancy or complicated, and they can be used again for another baby.

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Put the pail liner we got from Villa Babies in a hamper we already had. Easy and no smell.

And to answer the question you are all probably wondering: No, cleaning the poopy diapers is not that gross. I just shake or wipe it into the toilet and flush. Then put in in the diaper pail (which does not stink either with a proper liner in it) and wash it later.  You see the poop anyways when you take the diaper off, what’s another 10 seconds?

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Plus, how cute is that big fluffy butt?

Jack’s First Birthday Party

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A few weeks ago my son turned one-year-old, we had a big party for him! If you follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, you know that I announced a few weeks ago that we are moving to Oregon, so this party was a good-bye party as well. We didn’t quite go all-out, but we tried to make it as fun as we could on a budget. Afterall, it’s not every day your son firstborn turns one!

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Wrap nap, that way he didn’t party himself out.

We decided on a longer party, lasting from 12-5pm. This way the families/babies could come earlier before naptime and the adults/singles could come later. That way everyone could come and celebrate. I was nervous about this, fearing Jack would be too excited to nap and have a meltdown. But the park was close enough to home we could bail if it went south.

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The party was at my favorite park in the whole Bay Area, Alum Rock Park. It’s as off the beaten path as you can get in crowded San Jose, but popular enough that it well-cared for. Playground for the kids to play on too. The other big reason I picked it is because of the amazing hiking trails. I knew I could throw Jack in a carrier and walk him around for his nap when he got tired.

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I reserved a covered structure area so people could get out of the sun and we would have a bit more privacy. It had two BBQ grills and 3 tables, plus there was a nice lawn next to it for everyone to sit in the sunshine too. I decided on a San Francisco Giants theme (similar to his babyshower). I didn’t go all out on the theme, just some black and orange decorations with some random Giants stuff we had around.

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I did make these super cute baseball-themed bean bag toss games. I got the idea from Pinterest. I used a moving box we had laying around and paint left over from Jack’s nursery sign.


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I was a busy mama, barely remembered to eat!

I made the bean bags too. I filled plastic sandwich bags with dry bean.Then I cut up an old baby blanket into a squares, stuffed the bean bags in, then sewed them inside using heavy duty thread. I am horrible at sewing, so anyone can do this. These were a big hit at the party. Kids and adults loved them.

As for the food, I need to give a huge thank-you to my mom, she cooked almost everything and it came out great. Most of the stuff she made was not vegan (mainly because I didn’t have time to do a big grocery shopping for the party). I just ate hot dogs and chips mainly (when I had time to eat, I spent most of the time running around). But here is vegan version of the menu with many of my own recipes:

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We did a cake smash too. My mom and I were going to make Jack a small cake to smash and then cupcake for everyone…. but we ran out of time and got a Costco cake. We cut him off a big piece to destroy, then served up the rest.

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Now, I know store bought cakes are pretty much all lard and processed sugar, not the best thing for a baby. But I do believe that treats (even horrible ones) can slide if eaten very rarely. Plus, Jack didn’t eat that much of it, mostly just played with it.

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The party was so much fun, huge success! It was low key, and just enough people came to make it a good time. It was lovely to have so many friends and family come celebrate Jack’s first year of life and send off to Oregon.  I hope we looks back at pictures from this day and always remember his home in San Jose and how loved he truly is.All that being said, it was a lot of work and this kid ain’t getting another big party for a long time! 😛

Vegan Parenting

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I am a vegan.  I am a parent. Does that make me a vegan parent? It sure does! Hence the name of this blog.

Jack does not exclusively eat a vegan diet. This was a compromise between my husband and I (see here). But since I am his primary caregiver, he eats a lot of vegan meals with me. One of his favorite meals is my Dhal and Aloo Mattar. But veganism is a complete lifestyle, going vegan chances many aspects of your life besides just diet. So, the other day this lead me to think about just what does being a vegan parent mean? How does veganism affect they way I raise my son?

"Why do you keep telling me eggs from chickens?"
“Why do you keep telling me eggs from chickens?”

Before Jack was born, Michael and I discussed the major parenting choices like punishments and sex education. This lead me to think about what kind of parents we would be, so I looked up parenting styles.Oh boy, there are a lot! And there are some very strong opinions out there (the whole Tiger Mom controversy). I was overwhelmed and kind of turn off by the whole idea of defining the care of my child in such blunt terms.

So I asked myself what values that my husband and I both share do I want him to learn? After some soul searching, I came to that we want to teach him compassion, understanding, and patience. I also want encourage our love of science, nature, and education. Then I realized I kind of gave a broad definition of what vegans stand for overall. Compassion towards all living things! And to understand such ideas, you need to know science and nature—which is done through education.
After searching the web and reading a bunch of articles, I found this one from She  Knows Parenting the easiest to follow with great definitions. The article lists 5 main styles:

  • Instinctive: Based on the way you were bought up, following your parents’ example. Trusting your instincts that you know what is right for your child.
  • Attachment: Focused on creating a deep emotional  bond and encouraging them to express their feelings. Some see it as a holistic parenting approach.
  • Helicopter: Being deeply involved in every aspect of the child’s life. Overseeing and sometimes controlling their actions and experiences. Know to shielding and prevent all obstacles from ever even reaching their child.
  • Authoritative: Clear and direct rules and expectations. And if they are not obeyed, direct consequences will be enforced. However, the rules are usually fair and are in place to protect the child’s development. Are nurturing when need.
  • Permissive: Letting the child be who they are with little rules and expectations. Very open, non-confrontational, and nurturing. Based on the idea that children do not have the mental capacity to understand maturity and responsibility.

But without a baby, we had no idea what kind of parents we would be. Like I said, I was not going to pigeonhole myself, so I read read over those options with skepticism. Nothing clicked. Instrictive kind of sound nice, we both had nice childhoods, maybe just did what our parents did? Overall those were all just words and abstract idea. We needed a baby in front of us and to figure out what worked for us.

Once Jack arrived, I slowly fell more and more into attachment parenting without even realizing it. I just did what made sense for our family. I decided to exclusively breastfeeding for the health benefits and to save money. Then I bought a baby carrier (and later many more), since Jack wanted to be held all the time and I want free hands on occassion.This lead to me attending (and later becoming a member) of both La Leche League and Babywearing International meetings. Extended breastfeeding and babywearing are two huge aspects of attachment parenting, so these groups naturally led towards other attachment ideas. Now we embrace co-sleeping, baby-led weaning, gentle discipline. And last week we started on cloth diapers. So here I am one year in, an attachment parent by accident. Michael is on board with all of it too. He sees how happy and healthy Jack is, so he has no complaints

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Attached daddy wearing his son for a daytrip to Napa, melts my heart!. 

What does attachment parenting have to do with veganism? Well, it stresses compassion and understanding of your child. Hopefully one day he will spread this idea of ever-encompassing love towards every living thing on the planet.

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Jack LOVES animals so far. Especially our cats. This was the first time he pulled himself up, to pet Zoey!

I am trying very hard to explain veganism to him a simple and non-invasive way right now. Right now the greatest thing I can do is treat him animal compassion. I show him every animal we come across and explain why it matters to the planet. For example, “See the duck on the pond, Jack? It says quack quack. Ducky eats the plants and algae in the water to help keep the pond healthy. See her little ducklings following her? She takes care of them like I care for you.” That way the duck is something is way more than a restaurant menu item to him. I want him to understand why that duck and all over ducks matter.

"Yeah yeah, the dhal is made  from lentils that come from plants...thanks mom..."
“Yeah yeah, the dhal is made from lentils that come from plants…thanks mom…”

Then there is the dietary stuff as well. When he eats lentils, I tell him those came from a plant. When he eats cheese, I tell him that is made from a mama cow’s milk, like the milk you get from mommy. When he eats meat, I tell him that is from the body of an animal.

This is exclusive to being vegan or attachment parenting? No, you can meat-loving attached parent or a vegan tiger mom. Nothing wrong with either one! But overall, attachment parents and veganism share a lot of the same ideals.

Overtime I will explain more and more why I do not eat animals and why daddy does. I will never force him to be vegan, it will be his choice. I hope one day he does decide to go vegan. But overall I hope he always leads a life full of compassion and always seeks out knowledge, the true vegan spirit.