Experiments In Domesticity

Marriage, Motherhood & Modern Housewifery


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Wipe Out!

I am all about cutting costs when it comes to baby products, and very interested in reducing the massive carbon footprint that accompanies every North American bundle of joy (fun facts can be found here). Most of Ladybug’s clothing, furniture, and other baby accoutrements are hand-me-downs from friends or amazing Kijiji.com finds.

I knew I would use cloth diapers long before I knew I was pregnant. Modern cloth diapers are wonderful and nothing like your mother’s massive, shapeless cotton swaths that required pins, “rubber pants”, and a PhD in Origami to hold back the relentless offerings of a well-fed newborn. Choosing a diaper today is a head spinning decision for a mother-to-be. I ended up going with the advice of a friend who, although I have mixed feelings about the PUL fabric, did not steer me wrong. I would advise waiting until your baby is born, trying a few different styles, and choosing the one that works best for you, fits your budget, fits your babe, and doesn’t hurt your conscience. Of course, there is always Elimination Communication but that is a topic for another day …

A dear friend asked me about wipes when she was expecting, and has asked me to share my set-up here. I use cotton flannel wipes that I purchased locally. They are manufactured by Gabby’s, an Ontario swim diaper company. Ambitious and crafty types can certainly make their own out of just about any natural, absorbent material (hemp, bamboo, etc.). Cut the fabric in squares (mine are about 6″ square), and serge around the outer edges.

For solution, I use a cup of water with 2 tablespoons Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap, 2 tablespoons almond oil, a few drops of tea tree oil (anti-bacterial), and a few drops of lavender oil (soothing). Mix the whole shebang in a mason jar. I put the wipes in a sealable glass container, pour the solution over them, and keep them in a handy location. I find this covers around 20 – 25 wipes, and I use them fast enough that nothing funky happens to them.

The equation above is extremely versatile: you could use a different type of carrier oil (calendula is a great, healing choice), you could change up the essential oils to your liking, you could add skin savers like aloe vera; and you could put the solution in a spray bottle, or a sports top bottle, and apply to wipes or directly to the babe’s bottom as needed (this will likely only work if you have a placid and cooperative little one).

If you are heading out on the town, do not resign yourself to wetting down the sandpaper-dressed-as-toilet-paper most public washrooms offer up. Wet a few wipes and put them in a mini wet bag, or one of those cute reusable, washable waterproof sandwich bags, and toss that in your diaper bag. Alternately, fill a travel-size bottle with solution and bring along some dry wipes. Either way, you’ve got a quick, easy, and inexpensive solution to a dirty problem.

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You Have Everything You Need … Or Almost

My Ladybug turned one yesterday. It was a momentous occasion for so many reasons but chiefly because our little family survived the first year intact. So, hurray for us! Happy birthday, my lovely daughter!

The other day I was reminded of advice I got from my midwife, when I received a text asking about nursing covers (insert cute and gag-worthy brand name here) from a dear friend who has recently experienced the joy of childbirth and is proud mama to two beautiful twin boys. When I asked about what I should buy, in frenzied anticipation of my daughter’s arrival, my midwife said all I really needed was a car seat, a few outfits and some diapers. And, though I did buy many more receiving blankets than I needed and a used crib that is currently a gigantic laundry basket, I generally stuck to her advice.

Just because you can afford to doesn’t mean you should! There is a hugely wasteful, multibillion dollar industry out there designed to take new parents for everything they are worth. From the latest plastic doodad guaranteed to make your baby sleep sixteen hours straight to the organic cotton, designed in Canada, made in China layette that your little one definitely deserves, no new parent insecurity remains untouched. After a year with Ladybug, I can honestly say you do not need a tent engineered to hide your breast while you nurse. Use a receiving blanket, a swaddle, your sweater, the tablecloth or any other soft material lying nearby.

Which brings me to my bare necessities list for new parents (in colder climates): 5 sleepers, 5 onesies, a hat, a warm blanket, a car seat, 30 cotton or flannel rags for wipes, and 15 washable diapers. That’s it! If you have extra money to throw around, I suggest a wrap-style carrier, 2 swaddling blankets, and a medium size wetbag. Forget the fancy diaper bag, a backpack works just fine and is easier to carry. Don’t forget to check the classifieds – many people are unloading barely used or brand new items. Also, remember that friends and family are going to want to give you things. Lots and lots of things. Things you want and things you don’t. Plan accordingly!

In reality, you will likely not leave the house much in the first six weeks. What your baby needs at that time is you, your warmth, your milk, and lots of rest. What you need is lots of healthy food, lots of time in close contact with your new baby, and lots of rest.

You have everything you need. Trust yourself.