Experiments In Domesticity

Marriage, Motherhood & Modern Housewifery


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The Dry Season

Ladybug has been suffering from dry skin and eczema-like patches on her body. Not a huge surprise, considering I have the same issues every winter. The moisture-guzzling combination of cold weather and dry, warm forced air from the furnace leaves many of us scaly and itchy in the winter. Here are a few dry, sensitive skin tips that I have found helpful:

Around the House:
– ensure that your furnace has a humidifier and that it is working. They are not terribly difficult to replace yourself and are relatively inexpensive;
– use a portable, plug-in humidifier in your bedroom. There is some debate as to whether hot, cold or ionic is best. I went with ionic because the vapour is very fine and cool, and I thought it would be better for a baby;
– consider the type of laundry soap and fabric softener you use. The more heavily-scented, “whitening” or other tempting miracle soaps often contain harsh, skin irritating ingredients. Because Ladybug is cloth diapered, I use a laundry soda that is recommended for diapers. You should absolutely avoid fabric softener and dryer sheets if you cloth diaper because they leave a moisture repelling residue behind (on the diapers and in your dryer). I have had little static by using reusable dryer sheets. (For cloth diaper tips and tricks and some skin-friendly laundry soaps, check out the “Resources” section of the Bummis website.)

On Your Skin:
– do not bathe in really hot water. Hot water, like hot air, is drying;
– put rolled oats in a cheesecloth bag or tie them up in a washcloth for an itch-soothing soak. I found this to be a great relief when I was pregnant last winter;
– add some plant-based oil to your bath water. I like almond but plain old olive works well too;
– avoid chemically, heavily scented or otherwise “unnatural” soaps or body washes. Read the ingredients on what you plan to put on your skin. Less is more in this case. I like liquid Castile soap or Val’s Veggie Bar soap;
– after a bath or shower, massage more plant-based oil into your skin before towelling off. Coconut oil is perfect for this purpose and has the added bonus of smelling great. Do not rub your skin dry, blot it gently;
– for diaper rash, a good barrier cream is essential because it prevents the contents of your baby’s diaper from penetrating the broken skin and making the rash worse. I like Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Diaper Ointment. Look for a cream that is thick and seals the skin while repelling moisture. When the skin is not broken, I like to use an emollient, soothing cream like Weleda’s Calendula Diaper Care;
– for skin irritations, cradle cap, and minor eczema, I have had great success with DermaMed’s Baby Healing Cream. I use it on myself and on Ladybug. Musicman calls it the “magic cream”.

Finally, do not forget to drink lots of water and stay away from too much caffeine and alcohol. What you put into your body has an effect on your skin too!

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You Wear It Well

Ladybug is what might be called a “high need” baby. Before she could roll or crawl, she protested very loudly if I set her down. Even for a minute. Even to use the toilet. At first, I was helpless. With Musicman back on tour when Ladybug was three weeks old and us not having any immediate family in Edmonton, I wondered often and loudly about what I had gotten myself into. I was envious of friends whose babies sat happily for hours in bucket seats, or laid on their backs on activity mats cooing at the toys dangling above them, only to bleat slightly when it was time for more milk.

All this began to change when I made the decision to don my wrap carrier every morning as part of my daily wardrobe. If I was home all day alone, I wore it in place of a shirt, giving Ladybug the skin to skin she craved. If we went out, I wore a top I could easily and discreetly nurse in without ever removing her from the wrap and my babywearing coat.

When I was pregnant, I bought a babywearing Papoose coat from the same people who make the Ergo Baby carrier. It accommodated my belly, could be worn with a baby carrier on the front or back, and was also made to be worn by a non-pregnant woman sans baby carrier. It has been serviceable for the last fifteen-odd months. I say serviceable because, though I receive many comments on it (mostly from people who’ve never seen such an apparatus), it is not a thing of beauty. Behold:

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While visiting one of my favourite baby boutiques this winter, Bosom Babies, I met the M Coat, a down-filled, Canadian-made jacket. It has a waist, a lifetime guarantee, and a price tag double what I paid. I think it’s worth it. What do you think?

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Ever stylish, the Finns have come up with a gorgeous line of wool tunics and capes that really make my heart flutter. A friend introduced me (virtually) to the Mam coat the other day when she spied a woman about town wearing one and googled until she found it. I cannot justify a new babywearing coat but if I could … (As my friend said, “next baby”)

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Though Ladybug is walking now, she still requests to be carried a good deal of the time. Her face lights up whenever I get the carrier out. Having a warm coat that keeps us close together is essential in the winter, especially because we both enjoy getting out and about. I do not regret purchasing my jacket, I just wish I had been aware of some of the more stylish options out there.