Thursday, March 14, 2013

Feeding Baby the Green Way

Throughout my pregnancy, we tried to make sure that I was eating healthfully and that meant mostly organic produce, hormone free, local milk from Homestead Creamery, lots of nuts and seeds and whole grains, and minimal but lean meat, including some seafood. Now that Raygan is here, it's just as important for me to continue to eat healthfully, although there are some things that I can branch out on, such as the occasional glass of wine and a little caffeine in the morning cup of BGB coffee.

Why is this so important? Because everything I eat transfers to him in the form of breast milk. So, I really try to make sure that I'm eating well for both of us, which isn't always easy when I've got him in one hand, but we try to plan well in the morning before Benny leaves for work so it's easy for me to heat up soup or grab a sandwich or salad from the fridge. Essentially, the next five months or so of feeding him are free and won't cost us any more than before he was born. Another perk to breastfeeding is that I have to keep my caloric intake up by an additional 500 calories or so compared to during my pregnancy, so that means I get to eat more. So, maybe it does cost us a little extra in groceries since I'm eating more each day.

Breastfeeding is healthier for both of us. For Raygan, it provides immune support, much needed calories and vital nutrients, and its comforting for him. The human body is truly amazing since it adjusts the nutrients and fat and amount of milk based on his needs, so I don't have to worry about whether he's getting the right things at the right stage in his development. I still occasionally pump just to see how much he's getting at a feeding, but also to store it up in the freezer for when I go back to work. We plan to breastfeed for a year, or at least have enough in the freezer so that Raygan can get the benefits of breast milk for that long. Even when he transitions to solid foods, we can mix the milk into his mashed potatoes or squash, and of course he can still drink it.

The health benefits for me of breast feeding are lower risk of certain types of cancer, easier postnatal weight loss, and breast feeding helps the uterus to contract and go back to its original size quicker after delivery than not breast feeding. All of those were a plus for me. Even though breastfeeding was initially really difficult for me and Raygan had a tough time latching on, once we got over that hurdle, things have been great and he's gotten really goo at eating efficiently and not sleeping while nursing.

Once we transition to solid foods, we plan to make our own homemade baby foods, some of which we already have in the freezer. We're using the Start Fresh cookbook by Tyler Florence as a guide to make things easier. We're also using these ice cube trays to make storing the purees easier. It's really easy to make your own baby food from pureed fruits and veggies, and so much cheaper than the store bought stuff at 50 cents or more for a jar.

So, that's how we're feeding our little one and keeping him healthy. We're hoping he'll learn to be an adventuresme eater and learn to love food like we do. Here's to living green and saving green feeding baby! I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Cloth Wipes

Today's post is a follow up to yesterday's where I mentioned the cloth wipes we use with diapering Raygan. We use the cloth wipes for a number of reasons.

1) They cut down on cost.
2) They cut down on waste.
3) They are more effective than disposables.

Because the cloth wipes (both handmade flannel ones and inexpensive store-bought washcloths) are reusable and can be washed with the cloth diapers, they cut down on the cost of wipes significantly. Even if we purchased disposable wipes with coupons, we'd still be spending more than by using the cloth wipes. We still keep a few disposables around in the diaper bag for babysitters, when we're out, etc. but 95% of the time we use the cloth wipes. We've seen a huge drop in our waste volume since switching to cloth diapers and wipes, which means fewer trips to the dump, which also means less fuel used for the cars. Win win all the way around.

Because the cloth wipes have more texture than disposables, they're more effective at wiping away sticky poop, so we have to use only one instead of two or three or four like we would with disposable wipes. Sometimes, we find that the washcloths are more effective than the flannel ones, but it really depends on the situation.

Below you'll find the recipe I use for the wipe solution. Right now, we're using about a dozen a day, since we've got about that many diaper changes. So, I double the recipe since it makes enough for about six wipes. I mix my solution in a bottle that I can shake, because it distributes the lotion more evenly than just stirring with a whisk. It doesn't store really well (gets musty), so I mix ours up each evening for the next day. I store the wipes in old formula containers someone gave me, but we'll probably start putting them in an old wipe container we just emptied.

Wipe Solution:

1 tablespoon baby shampoo
1 tablespoon baby lotion
1 tablespoon baby oil (this helps to remove sticky poop, but you can omit it)
1 cup warm water

Stir or shake to mix. Then pour half into the bottom of your container, insert wipes, and pour the rest over the top.

Makes enough for six wipes.

An added plus to this system is that you can control the ingredients in the solution, so we use the Berts Bees stuff or other more natural products. We've found this seems to reduce diaper rash, which is minimal anyway since we're using cloth diapers.

Here's to living green and saving green while diapering baby. I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Cloth Diapering with Baby

We brought our little Raygan home from the hospital six weeks ago and my how they've flown by! The first few weeks were definitely an adjustment for everyone, but now we're in a groove as a family and loving our little monkey to pieces. So, hopefully, I can find time to get back to blogging on a regular basis during some of his nap times.

We were committed to cloth diapering and going diaper free (sometimes, when it works for us) well before we even found out we were pregnant. The cost and environmental benefits were huge to us, especially knowing that we hoped to have more than one child and that the cloth diapers could be used with the next baby. The health benefits to him are an added bonus.

Most of the cloth diapers we purchased were Charlie Banana ones, mostly because they were available at Target through our registry. We were given two that are velcro closure style, one from my friend who makes them for her (Etsy store. These are easy to leave in the diaper bag for those times when we need to leave him with someone who's not as comfortable with cloth diapering since they're styled more like the disposable kind in terms of closures. We discovered that people were hesitant to buy cloth diapers, I guess because they either weren't sure we were committed to the idea or because they wanted to buy something cute like clothes or books. So we ended up pooling our gift cards and buying them ourselves, which worked just as well. My school faculty also wanted to throw us a diaper shower, so we ended up getting about 12 cloth diapers that way also. We've found that the 30 cloth diapers we currently have is enough to get us through about two days of cloth diapering, allowing for what's in the laundry. Since Raygan is still so little, he's eating frequently, which means frequent diaper changes.

Washing is a cinch with these. We keep a diaper pail beside his changing station, so we just toss the dirty diapers, liners, and cloth wipes we use in there at each change and wash them when the pail is full and we're down to about six clean diapers. We love the design of the Charlie Banana diapers since the pocket is in the front, it means its less messy to get the liner out, and they're really adjustable with the elastic in the legs and the snaps in the front. We wash them on warm with a phosphate free detergent and either line dry them or toss them in the dryer on low heat. Stuffing them is easy; we can do it while we watch an episode of White Collar on Netflix and it takes no time; it's really easy to do with him in the Moby Wrap too.
All told, we figure we "spent" about $300 with gift cards to get the cloth diapers for him and we had a few given to us as shower gifts. Since we're cloth diapering exclusively now (he was a little small for them at first), we're not having to buy any disposables, which is saving us probably $20 a week right now. Rough estimates from various sources figure we'll save between $1000 and $2000 on diapering costs alone with him, and that doesn't include the cloth wipes we're using instead of disposables (they're flannel ones a friend made and thin washcloths). This savings is huge, since it's helping us cut costs so that Benny can stay home with him when I go back to work in August.

And then there's the environmental benefit of not filling the landfill with all those disposable things. Of course, there are folks who would argue that it's a toss up since we're washing with warm water, which uses more energy, but hopefully our new water saving washer will help to offset that somewhat. And we wait to wash until we've got a full load of diapers, which means we're saving some energy there too. Being able to line dry them in the summer will be great, and it'll help sun bleach out the poop stains. By using cloth diapers, we're also able to cut down on our chemical consumption as a family, since there are far fewer chemicals used in these than in the disposables (all those super absorbent polymers, etc.).

Plus there are health benefits for Raygan to using cloth diapers. Since he can feel it more in cloth diapers when he's wet or dirty, we change him more frequently than we might in disposable diapers. This means there's less diaper rash and less of a risk of yeast infections for him. It also means that potty training will be far easier, because he won't have lost that feeling of what it's like when he "goes", which means hopefully we'll be out of diapers sooner than if he were in disposables. Friends who cloth diaper also report that they've seen fewer accidents with their kids who were in cloth diapers exclusively, probably because they're more aware of the signs of needing to go and so they don't wait until it's urgent. And, we're exposing him to fewer chemicals by cloth diapering, which makes us feel better, since many of these chemicals haven't been researched in terms of long term effects.

So, all in all, we're thrilled with our decision to cloth diaper. Some might say it's more work; we just see it as a different kind of work (more laundry vs. more trips to the dump). We love that it allows us to save some significant money, and it allows us to save a huge amount of landfill space. Do you cloth diaper? Thinking about it? I'd love to hear from you! Here's to living green and saving green bringing up baby.