Pregnancy and child care

Articles about pregnancy and child care

Getting ready

Sometimes, at the end of a long day (or in the middle of it!) I wonder how in the world I will ever manage having three little ones. I know, I know... many people have more than three children and get along just fine. But a lot of days, my two are plenty for me to handle!!

I'm hoping to do a lot of preparation before the new baby arrives, but somehow my efforts don't last long these days.

The 14 dozen pumpkin cookies I made a few weeks ago (and froze) are just all too handy to pull back out of the freezer and pop into Joshua's lunch, or hand to the children for a quick snack. (Whole wheat flour makes them healthy cookies, right?) I haven't even taken a picture of the cookies (the one on the recipe needs replaced with something more... appetizing!) and we're down to half a bag.

So my "to do" list remains long, though a few things have been accomplished... getting the washing machine fixed... washing and waxing the car before winter (the boys loved helping with this!)... figuring out how to install 3 car seats in the back seat of our car (a tight fit, but where there's a will, there's a way, right?). :)

Don't misunderstand -- I'm very excited about our new little baby. But the Braxton-Hicks contractions I feel during the day remind me that the time is passing. Quickly. Twelve weeks just doesn't feel like very long. And it could be sooner. Or later. You just never can tell with babies. ;)

I'm hesitantly optimistic about the adjustment from two children to three. I thought having one was a big adjustment. Adding Eliyahu went really well, overall... but probably only because I had prepared anything and everything in advance... and since he was born a month after the "due date" I felt like I had plenty of time to get ready. ;)

But before I start feeling too confident, I think about dear Court. I've been reading about her... adjustment... ever since this past June when she gave birth to their third. What if my third child is like her third child? Naps? I know she makes it sound all cute and funny when she blogs about her life as a mom, but... this stuff has me scared! (As a side note, when she has the time to write, Court's blog is a great read!)

So in-between panicking and making dinner and hurting my foot and trying to keep up with the laundry, I'm hoping to have some future blog posts about all the great things I'm getting done now so I won't have to do them afterwards. I just need to start actually getting something done.

Bulk herbs and pregnancy tea

Bulk herbs

Red raspberry leaf tea is an excellent health supplement for women, especially during pregnancy. In the past, I had been given various herbal pregnancy teas, but I used the last of those a few months ago. I have been patiently impatiently wanting to order some herbs to mix up my own pregnancy tea. My herbs came this week, and I have been jumping for joy! Literally! Just ask Joshua how many times I've said "Honey, I know I already told you this, but thank you so much for the herbs!!!!!" :)

I like to get my herbs in bulk from More Than Alive. (This is also the company where we bought our Berkey water filter!)

 

Mixing up pregnancy tea!

I mixed my own pregnancy tea, based on the measurements given for the pre-mixed "Mama's Red Raspberry Brew".

8 parts red raspberry leaf
3 parts alfalfa
3 parts peppermint
2 parts nettle leaf

I whisked everything together, and then put it into a container in my tea drawer. I've already been really enjoying my "pregnancy tea"! :)

My wonderful loose-tea-infuser!

This handy little teapot makes it so easy to brew loose-leaf teas! (You can read my review and watch a video clip of me using it here!) I love it. Yehoshua does too (that's his hand in the picture). ;)

Working alongside our children

Eliyahu (22 months old) helps with dishes...

Melissa posted these questions in a comment last week:

I love reading about how you involve your children in your chores. This is something I'd like to read more of.

You have mentioned that you do your cleaning while your children are awake, which is just a mystery to me. When I have attempted this, we've ended up with more of a mess than we began with! I would like to hear a detailed description of how you work along-side your children. How do you get/keep them involved? How do you deal with them not even wanting to help you (or getting tired of it just as you've begun)?

Also - out of curiosity - do you follow a particular parenting "method"? If not, what standards to you use to discipline/bring up your boys?

First, I'd like to recommend my podcast from about 5 months ago: Cooking with Children. In that podcast, I try to explain and describe how I get my little ones involved in cooking. :) Now, about your questions... :)

Cleaning (or doing anything!) with little "helpers" takes extra time, especially when they're still small. And yes, it tests my patience lots of times, too! ;)

But for general cleaning, I let the children help by sharing the vacuum cleaner with them (before or after I've used it to vacuum what really needed done!), letting them use the hand-held vacuum (always after I'm finished with it, since they run the battery dead!), giving them their own cleaning rag (with water or vinegar sprayed on it), letting them sweep and try to use the dust pan, letting them help mop with their own rag, giving them a dust cloth...

Usually it is fairly easy to get them involved, since they're still at that age where the work is mostly fun for them! But, if we need coaxing, I sometimes offer a reward (such as a Tic Tac or some small treat) or a promise of something that comes "after".

For example, if Yehoshua isn't wanting to help sort laundry, I remind him that as soon as it's washed, we'll go outside to hang it up -- and he loves to go outside, since that means he gets to ride his bike while I hang laundry. :) Or, I'll say something like "After the dishes are done, we'll read a book together!" These sorts of "rewards" give him enough motivation to keep on helping. :)

Eliyahu helps with dishes...

The other thing that helps a LOT is to work right along beside them. I think pretty much every chore or job they do, there is a parent right there helping or directing. I'm sure this will change as the children get older (they're 3.5 and almost-2 right now).

This might mean that while I wash dishes, Eliyahu rinses/plays in the water, and Yehoshua clears the table and brings the dirty dishes to me. I am constantly thanking Yehoshua for the dishes he brings, and telling him what a great help he is being. He feels like he's doing his part for the family, and pulling his weight as a "big boy". And in the mean time, I'm "entertaining" both children while getting work done!! :D

Or, for a meal, I will tell Yehoshua how many forks or spoons to get out for us. He knows that it's his job to get out silverware (it's hard to start eating breakfast without a spoon for your cereal!) and so while I am busy with last-minute meal preparation, Yehoshua is right there helping set the table. (It's great for learning counting, too... :D)

From my personal experience, it seems that children do best when they are constantly directed and motivated by having a parent right with them. My boys do go off and play by themselves sometimes, but I don't (at least at the ages they are right now) just send them off to do a chore for me.

No one, children included, really wants to do a bunch of work if they feel like their authority figure is just sitting around. Now, Yehoshua WILL go and do things for me (like if I am resting, and ask him to bring me my water bottle, for example) but I really think his positive attitude about serving others is because he is made to feel like an integral part of the family, but with responsibilities. :)

Besides interspersing work with fun ("Let's do this first, then we'll play a game together!"), and occasionally giving a small treat or reward (which I also do as a surprise; when the children have been especially helpful or polite, I surprise them with some sort of treat and tell them they've been so helpful/kind/polite/etc.), I also give a lot of verbal encouragement.

I am truly so impressed with the things little children are capable of doing (or trying to do!!) and I tell them that a lot. :) Words are free, right? :) I don't try to make them prideful, and it's always sincere -- and I also try to praise what they've done or how they've acted rather than just praising them. So, for example, instead of saying "You're such a good boy!" I say "You did such a great job sweeping up those crumbs! The floor looks fabulous!!" or "Wow, you really got that window clean! It looks so nice." Praising their work makes them want to do good work in the future. :)

And lastly, I do try to keep things reasonable. We don't usually spend the whole day working. ;) We spend time playing, reading, coloring, and stuff like that. :) I don't feel like I'm forcing the children to work, because for the most part, we can find a way to make it fun, or some motivation to make it through another 5-10 minutes before we move onto play. :)

Right now, here is my chore chart for Yehoshua (3.5 years old):

•Help put away clean dishes (he puts away the ones in drawers or low cupboards)
•Help set the table for meals
•Help clear the table after meals
•Help fold laundry (washclothes, simple things)
•Help put away clean laundry (in the drawers he can reach)
•Pick up toys
•Help take out trash/compost

And here is Eliyahu's chore list (he's 22 months old):

•Help wash dishes (really, this is mostly playing in the water, though he does rinse the silverware and put them in the drainer for me)
•Put dirty clothes in the hamper
•Help put away clean clothes (mostly dish rags, which he runs to the cupboard one at a time, for lots of exercise!)
•Pick up toys

Those are the lists that I made to help ME remember to make sure the boys are doing "their" chores... since it's still too easy for me to just start folding laundry and forget to ask for help! :)

Sooooo, those are some of my thoughts on the topic. :) Remember, I just have two children, and they're still young -- so I am not an expert when it comes to raising children. :) But hopefully you've gotten a few ideas you can incorporate into your own home! :)

I'd also love it if some readers shared chore lists/ideas for their young children! I'm sure there are a lot more ideas out there than what I've had myself. :)

Melissa also asked about parenting methods. We don't follow any certain parenting methods, and haven't read a lot of parenting books (besides the Bible!). :) We do see the fruits of consistency and boundaries. We're still young, still learning, and still just getting started as parents. :) Through my blog here, you'll get an idea of how we live. We're not perfect, but we're always aiming high... higher than we attain. :)

Enjoying cloth diapering

I wrote this post for my personal journal in March of 2006, back when Eliyahu was a newborn. :)

Have you ever heard of someone praying that they would enjoy cloth diapers? Well, I did, 2 days ago.

"Wait a minute," I know you're thinking, "isn't this the girl who raved about using cloth diapers just a year or so ago?!"

Well, let me tell you about why I prayed... and how Yahweh answered :)

To begin at the beginning... you might remember that I used cloth diapers with Yehoshua from about 1 month of age until he started solids at about 1 year of age. I really wanted to succeed at cloth diapering, and stuck it out through the initial adjustment, enjoying the "old-fashioned" task of changing and laundering all that nice soft cotton, relishing the thought of all the money I was saving while at it :). I've always enjoyed hanging laundry out on the clothesline, and since that's one of the best things for cloth diapers, I had a blast! Our neighbors (first an elderly couple and then a lady) just loved seeing diapers flapping in the breeze across their lawns!

When Yehoshua started solids, I eventually gave up on cloth diapering because of the consistency of the poo, staining, lack of sunny days to hang laundry out, training him to sleep through the night, finding out I was pregnant again, etc. etc. (you get the idea). I always said I couldn't wait to use cloth on the next baby, and that I would delay solids and use cloth for at least a year again (hopefully, if it worked out best for the baby).

So, along came Eliyahu, and I had a few packages of disposables for those first few weeks... just while we all got adjusted to having a new baby.

From the time he was just a couple days old, Eliyahu had diaper rash. It took me the longest time (well, maybe only 3 weeks, but it felt like forever!) to figure out what was causing it. Since I'm the type of person who likes variety, I had opened a couple different kinds of diapers, and would just use whatever kind I felt like using at each change. Silly, huh? Well, anyway, finally I figured out that Luv's diapers were causing this rash. I wasn't too shocked, since those ones were scented. I started using some Huggies diapers I had and within less than a day, it was noticeably better.

However, I ran out of the Huggies, and we bought two kinds of generic, unscented diapers. The diaper rash came back, and I tried everything I knew to get rid of it... letting his bottom air out between changes, patting gently dry with a soft cloth between changes, using ointment, etc. and the rash only got worse! :| I was so frustrated and didn't know if he just had a really sensitive bottom, if I was eating something irritating to him, or what!

Joshua said he would take care of laundering the cloth diapers (since our washer was in the basement and I wasn't able to lift things yet), and so in desperation, I tried cloth. The rash still didn't look better in the 12 hours or so that I used cloth. I didn't want to use ointment with my cloth diapers (since rash ointment doesn't wash out very easily). Finally, I thought, "Maybe Huggies diapers will work." In desperation, I got a package of Huggies diapers. I had two nearly-full packages of other diapers and a gift package of Luv's (a huge one, but I couldn't return it because it was purchased on clearance) here at home, and all I could think of was how we couldn't afford Huggies and waste all those others -- but I didn't know what to do.

Thankfully, the Huggies (and lots of ointment and prayer :D) cleared up his bottom, and in just a few days' time, there was no diaper rash! So, we figured out that he must have been sensitive to something in those other three kinds!

I was so relieved to have found something that would work, as the rash had gotten really bad and even bled a little :(. I kept purchasing Huggies, but even with my few coupons, they were SO expensive.

In the back of my mind, I knew I should try cloth diapers again now that the rash was gone. I kept putting it off. Things were going so well, Eliyahu was such an "easy" baby compared to Yehoshua, and I liked my comfortably life of using disposables. Yes, I knew I had loved cloth in the past, but maybe I had been wrong. Cloth diapers couldn't be as fun or as nice as I had made them out to be. Besides, I didn't even have "nice" diaper covers, etc...

But thankfully, Joshua prompted me, "When are you going to switch to cloth?" Knowing that it was costing him/us a LOT of money to buy diapers, and that we had very useable cloth supplies sitting here at home, I said, "Tomorrow."

Inwardly, I groaned. I had been putting it off, and now I knew I just had to do it. We couldn't afford to buy diapers.

That night, I got out my cloth diaper supplies, again. (I had gotten them out before, but put everything back away.) I had a Snappi from my friend Lucy to try, this time, and my new homemade fleece liners to try... were they really as nice as Lucy and another friend, Ruth, claimed? ;) I even had 2 nice covers from Lucy (which I don't think quite fit yet, but I'll be using them as soon as they do ;D).

The next morning, I put Eliyahu in cloth. I kept praying that Yahweh would give me a desire to do this, because I was still dreading the exile of my easy comfortable life! Within the first couple diaper changes, Yahweh had answered. I was enjoying --no, LOVING!-- cloth diapers again! They weren't much extra work at all! Eliyahu's bottom felt so clean and dry and smooth as I pinned (or snappied ;D) a fresh diaper on him. They didn't leak. The diaper rash didn't come back!!! And no more costly trips to Wal-mart to buy Huggies. Best of all, I was obeying my husband and Yahweh was giving me joy. Yay!

The ironic part of all this is that when I wanted to use cloth diapers with Yehoshua, Joshua thought it was a lot of work and probably not worth it, but I convinced him that I liked the extra work and it was better for the baby. Now, he likes me to use cloth and says how expensive diapers are and how disposables make so much trash to take out, and how much better it is to use cloth diapers! :)

Hanging diapers with my boys... summer of 2006

Cooking during morning sickness

Reader Julia asked for some meal ideas that are morning-sickness compatible. :)

I have been enjoying your blog and your great recipes for a while. Like you, I am also pregnant (9 weeks) so I have not had the interest in recipes that I usually do. Could you recommend some quick easy meals (hopefully without strong smells) that you make when you are struggling with intense morning sickness?

Since this is the first pregnancy where I have had significant nausea and sickness, I've been learning what works best for meal planning as the weeks pass. There were a couple months where I didn't do any cooking besides the absolutely essential things (which is why there weren't any new recipes here for a while! ;D).

Here are some of the things that work for me:

1. If there is a time during the day when I don't feel so nauseated, I use that opportunity to plan the meals for the next few days. One of my biggest problems was not taking full advantage of the not-sick moments for menu-planning. (I think I was probably cleaning the bathroom or something else instead! lol)

As difficult as it is to cook when you don't feel well, I think it's just as difficult to try to come up with something to cook! :) At least if I have a menu planned, I can force myself to get through the preparation, or be ready to prepare the food in advance (if possible) when I'm feeling well enough. I can't do that if I haven't planned the meal, thawed the necessary ingredients, etc. :)

2. I make good use of my husband's grill. I know I keep mentioning it, but Joshua has a great portable gas Weber Q grill and he's more than happy to grill hamburgers, chicken, or steak for a meal.

When he grills, there's less kitchen clean-up for me, and I usually just plan a vegetable or salad and some kind of bread (or even just cook up some egg noodles and toss them with butter, garlic salt, and parmesan cheese!).

I do remember many meals where I didn't even eat but a few bites of whatever Joshua had grilled, but at least Joshua and the children were able to enjoy a good meal even though nothing sounded good to me at the time! :)

3. I took a break from the "pressures" of feeling like I had to be extremely frugal about everything. While I love homemade things, and I enjoy spending less money (plus, it's not like our budget can just magically increase!), there are definitely times during life where we just can't do everything we want to do, or even everything we used to do.

So, what this meant in practical terms for our family, was that I used the electric dryer for some of my laundry, I bought some things like tortillas, croutons, or stuffing mix from the store, and Joshua hired my younger sister to come over for a few hours each week to help me with housework and cooking.

Since we all do things a little differently, relaxing about some things will probably mean completely different things to your family, but the point is to not let ourselves get too stressed about a few minor things that we can't do.

A word about "quick and easy" meals:

I've been asked for quick meal ideas, and honestly, I don't have a lot to offer for under 15-30 minutes' time. I think the main reason is because I just don't use a lot of the pre-packaged things that the "quick" recipes call for.

Just recently, I was reading through a food magazine (geared towards the average family in the U.S.) and many of the recipes were of the "less than 30-minutes" variety... but they all called for things I don't have or don't buy! When I make recipes like that, I usually end up using my own, homemade substitutions, and that adds a lot of time to the preparation.

So my truly quick meals, like hamburgers or roasted chicken (quick prep, long bake time :D) are few. Doing some of the preparation in advance helps speed things along when I'm actually making the meal, but still, it requires time to get the "advance preparation" done in the first place! :)

So, that said, here are some ideas from other ladies about 5-minute meals! Reading through the comments should at least give you some ideas. :)

I also really enjoyed my friend Crystal's post about homemaking during difficult seasons. And, if you need a little time-management boost, Crystal also has a great post about finding the time! :)

If any of you readers have other tips for Julia and me, I'd love it if you took the time to comment! :)

Homemade Edible Play Dough

Getting ready to get to work!! :)

Today, Yehoshua (3), Eliyahu (1) and I made some homemade edible play dough!

I have had the recipe saved for over a year, but either didn't have the ingredients, the time, or the energy to actually try it. I have been going through my mountains of torn-out "must try this one sometime" recipes, trying to save only the ones that we'll actually try someday (which is a big folder full, even still!).

When I found the play dough recipe, I decided that today would just have to be the day. :)

Our recipe

Here was our recipe -- taken from last year's No Greater Joy calendar. :)

Edible Play Dough

1 cup honey
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 3/4 to 2 1/4 cups powdered milk

Directions: In a mixing bowl, combine honey and peanut butter until smooth. Add enough dry milk powder to form a dough. Knead and add additional milk powder if necessary. Play and enjoy! :)

Oh, this is exciting!!! :)

Yehoshua and Eliyahu loved helping me make the play dough. They got to taste the peanut butter as I measured it. Then we measured the honey.

Stirring...

Yehoshua stirred for me, and did a great job of it, too! Eliyahu tried to get into the peanut butter jar. Then we added the dry milk.

This was where things got a little tricky. I had to use my hands to knead the dough because it was getting stiff, but it was still sticky. I think that perhaps the honey I used made a difference, because mine was raw -- dark and thin -- honey from someone local, as opposed to the thick, very light-colored honey I've bought in the store.

At any rate, I had to add at least double the powdered milk to make a dough. My hands were full of peanut butter by the time I realized that I needed more milk powder, so I had Yehoshua pour from the really-full-and-really-heavy box. Most of the milk did end up in the mixing bowl, though our kitchen floor did feel a little crunchy afterwards. ;) And obviously, I don't have any photos from that part of the making. ;)

Playing with the homemade play dough

Both boys loved playing with the dough, and they even ate a fair amount, too -- especially Eliyahu, who stuffed his mouth full and then asked for more. :)

Overall, I thought the dough worked well for play dough. I didn't care for the taste (probably since I had needed to add so much extra powdered milk!), though I'm thinking of using some flaked coconut for part of the powdered milk next time. I also wish I would have only made half the recipe, because it looks like a lot of play dough for us to get eaten, especially since I don't like it myself. ;)

But hey, if the children end up actually eating it all, I guess it's a frugal little project for them... and smells a lot nicer than play dough from the store. :) More frugal links, posts, and tips at Crystal's blog -- check them out! :)

Cloth diapering questions and answers

Prefolded cloth diapers

I'm finally getting around to answering some of my email... so stay tuned if you've emailed with a question for me in the past, oh, about 4 months! Embarassed

Today, I am yet again bringing up the topic of cloth diapering... yes, on a food blog. ;) Two readers have written with questions, and so here are my replies! Feel free to add your own cloth diapering experience and tips at the end, as well! :)

First, an email from Brandi: 

I have a couple of questions about switching over to cloth. We have 5 daughters. Two in diapers now, and 1 will be born in August. I am hoping to have the oldest in diapers out by the baby's arrival, and then we will have 2 in diapers again.

Anyway, do you use Gerber prefolds? I would like to switch to save money. But, I also know my husband would not like to deal with messy, leaky diapers or a wife that might on occasion complain about cloth diapering.

My girls have sensitive skin. All have had bad cases of diaper rash... and don't do well with store bought wipes. So, I am thinking-- can I switch to Gerber pre-folds and get a better cover to go with them? Use pins... and use washcloths and water for cleaning bottoms?

I tried out the Gerber briefly... and they didn't seem absorbent. But, I only washed them once...

Give me your insight here. I really want to save money and really need it to be a remotely easy switch. My girls are 5,4,2.5,1 and 7mos pre-born! I homeschool and am home all of the time.

Brandi, thanks for writing! Congratulations on your new little blessing, who is probably born by now (since I took so long to reply!)!! :)

You've probably already read my more in-depth post about my cloth diapering method. :) When I started out cloth diapering 3+ years ago, I had about 6 different brands/thicknesses/kinds of diapers, because I just got whatever people gave me at my baby shower! I didn't have any preferences because I didn't know anything about cloth diapers, so I just hopped in and tried them all. :) Eventually, I asked my mom to sew the flat-fold diapers into pre-folded diapers for me, because I found that it took more time and space to fold the flat-fold diapers, and pre-folds were working just fine for me. Some people do like the flat-fold diapers because they dry more quickly, though! :)

So to answer your first question, I have used two different kinds of Gerber pre-folds. One kind was thick and high-quality (like what is called "Chinese pre-folds" online) and I have never seen them in stores or anywhere else. The other kind was the birds-eye Gerber pre-folds like Wal-mart sells. Mine were fairly absorbent (for a light, lower-quality diaper), but don't hold up under heavy use like the higher-quality pre-folds would. I did like them for a newborn, since they were soft and just the right thickness for my newborns. They wouldn't be absorbent enough for Eliyahu (18 months) now, so if I use those, I add another layer of diaper.

If you wash your Gerber pre-folds a few more times, and be sure to not use any fabric softener (or laundry detergent that contains fabric softening agents!) or dryer sheets, they might do better for you. And at the very least, since you already have them, you could double them up with another diaper for nighttime use or something! That's what I use mine for right now! :)

I haven't had leaking problems with my cloth diapers, but I do tend to add another layer if I think it might be needed (right now, I have a bunch of thin, almost-worn-out diapers that I'm trying to completely wear out, so I can use my new ones!), and of course, change frequently. Joshua doesn't change the cloth diapers, unless it's some kind of emergency. :) I have just always done that job (so, I am faster and better at it!) and he helps with other things instead.

As far as worrying about complaining about cloth diapers... well, I will admit that Joshua had heard me groan, "Another messy diaper?! This is the fourth one today!" Wink 

But a surprising number of people who use cloth diapers actually love using cloth! I know I do! They're less smelly (because the poo goes down the toilet and not in the trash can) and it's fun to wrap a baby's bottom in freshly-laundered cotton! I used disposable diapers until Yehoshua (my first baby) was 3-4 weeks old, and I worried that I would have a difficult time switching to cloth. I did stay home a lot, and didn't plan any special trips for a few days, but when I switched to cloth I actually really enjoyed it, to my surprise! :) Now, don't blame me if you end up hating cloth diapers, but I'm just saying... maybe you'll surprise yourself and love them! :)

Eliyahu (18 months) has sensitive skin, also. I was using disposable diapers when he was a newborn, and when he was 2 days old, he got horrible diaper rash that wouldn't go away until I switched to cloth! (I tried allll of my tricks to get it to clear up, but it turned out to be the disposable diapers themselves that were causing it!) He's been fine ever since! I have always used just a washcloth with warm water to clean his bottom, and it works great. I like my thin homemade baby washcloths for wiping newborns, but for older babies I just use a regular washcloth. The wipes just get laundered with the diapers. Washcloths work so much better than the commercial baby wipes, in my opinion! :)

Now, to answer your question about diapers and diaper covers: If I were starting from scratch, and didn't have a lot of money to spend on cloth diapers (i.e., diapers that cost $15 each or more wouldn't fit my budget, not that they're a "bad deal", just that I need to do it for a lot cheaper than that!), I would buy some Chinese Prefolds. This page has some great info about pre-folds, and this page has ordering info (pre-folds are at the top). I have not ordered from this company, but this will at least give you an idea of what you want. And their prices seem decent. :)

Also, and this is just my personal experience/opinion (like everything else I've written so far!), I would only get the regular size of prefolds, rather than newborn or toddler sizes. They can be folded down to fit a smaller baby, which is my preference. I have tried the newborn size of prefolds and didn't like them as well, plus, when the baby gorws out of them, they're only really useful for night-time layering (I just use another diaper rather than special "doublers"). I'm a really practical person, and part of the reason I like pre-folds is because they can be used for 2-3 years without the child outgrowing them, if you get the regular size. :)

For diaper covers, I personally use and like the Dappi nylon covers. (This link goes to the cheapest price I have found online for these covers, and I have ordered from this company twice with great service.) They're a little more expensive ($2 each) than the Gerber vinyl covers, but more comfortable and will last much, MUCH longer. I did use the Gerber vinyl covers for about 2 years, until most of the ones I had wore out! But I think the nylon covers are a better investment because they don't crack so easily.

That is just the cheapest option for diaper covers (besides making your own, which I have not done!) and has given me very few leaks. I have tried diaper covers with velcro or snaps, and both tended to leak more, and the velcro wore out faster than the rest of the cover. Those covers were more convenient to use, though, and if you have a little more money to spend on diaper covers, I have heard good things about the Motherease (brand) covers and the Bummis Super Whisper Wraps. :)

So this is just the basics, and what works well for me. :) While I realize that spending even several hundred dollars on cloth diapers is a good deal compared to buying disposables every week, I've honestly just never had the budget surplus to make me want to go another route besides pre-folds and cheap covers! Recently, my mom has been sewing me some new pre-folds from receiving blankets and they work great. The two of us watch for used receiving blankets and can usually buy them for about 10 cents each. I can hardly wait for my old, frayed diapers to completely wear out so I can start using all the colorful ones we've made. :) 

I'd love it if you other moms chimed in about what your favorites are for cloth diapering! :)

Okay, now, an email from Lynn:

Thank you so much for all of your information about cloth diapering. It has been incredibly helpful. I am due with my first child in November and need further advice.  

I definitely want to use cloth diapers, but how many in which sizes will I need? Is a dozen in each size enough? What about the Dappis, how many nylon covers in each size will I need? 

I went to Babies R Us and their selection is sparse to say the least. They have 3 ply, 4ply, and 6 ply. Which should I get? Or should I order the ones off of the green mountain website? Any advice would be helpful. 

Most people think I'm nuts for attempting cloth diapering so I don't have anyone I can ask about these specifics. I really need some solid numbers so I know what to order so I'm prepared!

Lynn, you're quite welcome, and congratulations on your expectancy! :)

The amount of diapers in various sizes will depend on what sort of diapers you plan on using. As I mentioned above, I really liked just using the "regular" (not newborn or toddler) size pre-folds. They can be folded down for a smaller baby, and I have used the same diapers for mine throughout their diapering days. I do have some diapers that are thicker than others, and the only issue with using a bigger diaper on a smaller baby is that if it's too thick, it could be too big and bulky. But a thinner "regular" sized diaper should work just fine on a newborn.

Since I only used one size of diapers, I had/have about 5-6 dozen. I think the least amount of diapers I would want to have would be 3-4 dozen, since my babies seemed to wet frequently. And when I had two in diapers at once time, I had 7 dozen diapers and it was just barely a three-day supply. :)

For diaper covers, I like to have about 15 (but at least 10) covers (since newborns can have messy diapers so often!) in any given size. For the Dappi nylon covers, since the sizes run smaller, I skipped the newborn size and just used small, medium, large, and extra-large/toddler. You could easily just order the small size (or newborn, if you plan to use cloth diapers right away!), to see if you liked them and how well they worked for you, before ordering the other sizes. No sense investing into something that doesn't work for you! :)

I've never been to Babies R Us, and I've never ordered from Green Mountain! Maybe some of my readers have? :) You could always try some of each. I know my cheap Gerber pre-folds (mentioned in my answer to Brandi above) aren't going to withstand heavy use for several years, but they worked great for my newborns. I actually liked having different brands/thicknesses because the thinner ones were better for newborns, and the thicker ones were great for slightly older babies!

If you want to get some variety, you could always ask for cloth diapers as baby shower gifts! That's how I ended up with such a selection. ;) And that way, you might only need to order a couple dozen pre-folds yourself. :) Even if people think you are crazy (I'm sure some thought that of me! lol), for some reason it seems like people really like buying cloth diapers for baby shower gifts! :)

I hope this helps! And to my cloth-diapering readers, I'd love it if you shared yout tips and suggestions for Brandi and Lynn! :)

From the kitchen of a 3-year-old... waffle-making tutorial :)

Homemade waffles

One of the things I try to do as a parent is to involve my children in everyday things. I can tell a remarkable difference when I live and work beside my children, and not just give orders. Children are so much happier and well-adjusted when they know they have important responsibilities in the home! Constant guidance and direction with our children also keeps them busy and focused.

Back when we made waffles for a new-baby gift, I took photos of Yehoshua as he helped me in the kitchen. He had such a great time getting to help with every step!!

Getting started...

First step: Sift the flour. The flour has to be sifted before it's measured (a cup of sifted flour weighs less than a cup of flour that hasn't been sifted). After it's sifted, the flour is put into the measuring cup with a big spoon, so as not to pack it. I am not this particular about measuring flour for most of my recipes, but I use special care when making waffles, I guess. :)

It was a bright, sunny morning, and Yehoshua (3) always enjoys using the sifter. :)

Checking the recipe...

Eliyahu (1) holds onto the recipe... he desperately wanted to help too, but really, making waffles with a 3-year-old is about as much as I can handle at one time!

More sifting...

Step Two: More ingredients are added to the flour (which has been measured), and it's sifted again. Here's the second sifting, in progress! :)

Then we were done with the sifter, so I gave it to Eliyahu to play with. :)

hmn... let's keeping adding to the recipe...

Another good occupation for 1-year-olds is playing with the measuring spoons. Eliyahu played musical chairs that morning (as he often does!) and climbed up onto every chair numerous times, trying to help us. :)

Separating eggs

Step Three: Separate some eggs. Since we were making a triple batch, we separated a lot of eggs. Yehoshua held the little plastic device, and I cracked each egg into it. After the whites ran off, he dumped the yolks into the other bowl. :)

Mixing the wet ingredients...

Then, we had to whisk the egg yolks and milk together.

Time to beat the egg whites...

Yehoshua needed help for this part: beating the egg whites. I helped him hold the mixer, except for the few short moments it took for me to snap this picture. :)

Back to the wet ingredients...

Whisking the melted butter into the milk and egg yolks. The butter always hardens into little lumps. I wish I could prevent this, but the waffles turn out fabulous, so I guess it must be okay! :)

And by now, Eliyahu has decided he needs to be sitting ON the table, to get a better view of things. Like I said, I'm still not that great at cooking with TWO little helpers!! :)

The cooked waffles

At this point, Yehoshua went off to play or something (I can't remember what!) while I cooked the waffles. He would have helped, but I was afraid he'd get burned. :)

Our finished waffles!

The end result? A little boy who kept talking about how he had made waffles HIMSELF and kept going into detail with everyone about how he had to sift, separate eggs, and use the mixer, that sort of thing. :)

Oh, and some really yummy waffles, which we topped with some apple topping, thanks to my wonderful husband who came into the kitchen and made the topping while I was busy. :)

Waffle recipe here! :)

Apple topping taken from this recipe. :)

More of my posts (including a podcast) about involving our children in the kitchen. Cooking is just one small part of life, but children love to help! :)

For the hungry baby

Yesterday and this morning, as we were cooking, I had been telling Yehoshua about how we were making food to take to my aunt, "because they have a new little baby". I was trying to help him understand what had changed since we last saw them (e.g. the round tummy was gone and now a new little baby).

As I put the waffles into a bag, I said, "Now, don't touch these. We're taking these with us. Do you remember why we're taking food along?"

Yehoshua said, "Because they have a new little baby. Mommy, is the baby really hungry?"

I laughed! "Yehoshua, new little babies don't eat waffles! What do new little babies eat?"

"Mama's milk." ;)

To each item, I taped an index card with the name of the food and instructions for baking or re-warming. No one likes mystery meals. ;)

One thing that helps me "find the time" to make food to share with others is simply making extras. I made a double batch of Italian bread rather than a single loaf, so I could give away one loaf and have another left for us. It's a little more work (okay, basically any major cooking right now is "more work" than I'd be doing!") but it's still less time than making a whole meal just to give away. :)

I actually ended up making a triple batch of waffles this morning. Joshua made strawberry and apple toppings/sauces, which we sent along with this bag of cooked waffles. Homemade waffles are a great quick breakfast when warmed in the toaster. And making a triple batch allowed enough for our breakfast, a few leftovers for us, and 20 squares to share. :)

Last night before bed I stamped a quick congratulatory card to tuck in with this lavender-floral baby bath towel. :)

P.S. If you haven't already read it, Michelle has a great post of tips for providing food for others! :)

Podcast: Cooking with children

Dehydrating bananas...

I'm excited about this week's podcast, Cooking with children! In the podcast, I try to give helpful tips for having fun times in the kitchen with our children, including specific examples as well as general guidelines. I also talk about why I feel so passionately about involving my children in everyday things, like work in the kitchen.

Cooking with children is about 10 minutes long (3.3 MB). Right-click and then click on "save target as" to save the file to your computer (do this if you have dial-up, especially!), or just click to stream and listen. :)

On a related note: For fun, I thought I would dig up some of my older blog entries that related to children helping in the kitchen!

My dishes helpers...

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