The Easiest DIY Toys for Babies EVER

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I wish I could sew, I wish I could knit, I wish I had a workshop in my garage to saw and bang and hammer toys for my little one! But I don’t need any of that to make these really easy toys for him. No sewing or sawing required.

Give baby a wooden stick or a scarf and they will think of ways to play all day long. And babies this small (Aditya is 6 months old) are fascinated by everything! I don’t know if I can call the toys I made for him toys, but I know that YOU can make them too. And all materials are right at your home!

I was inspired by Montessori mobiles to buy a large jingle bell – one of their sensory mobiles is a jingle on a string or a ribbon. See, here goes the first toy! And the idea for the second one was conceived simply because the jingle bells came in a pack of two:) So I was thinking what to do with the second one and noticed, how Aditya loves his fabric ball with a jingle inside. I took a wash cloth (because of the texture, but you can take a piece of flannel or cotton fabric, or any other, for that matter) and this particular one had a frog face on it, and I thought it would be fun if I positioned the face so that it looks like frog’s head.

I put the jingle inside the cloth, tied with a ribbon and tadaa! This is a great tip for traveling too, if your baby gets tired of the old toys (or you forget to take any with you). The cloth is good enough as a makeshift doll without the bell inside.

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There are many ways to play with these toys, but please be very careful, especially with the jingle on a string, as it may pose a strangling risk. Always make sure that the end is tied in a way your baby can’t get the string around his or her neck and supervise their discovery time with the toy!

I like using the jingle bell on this IKEA wooden gym – I just strip the hanging toys it comes with and tie the jingle for a change. It seems very simple, but Aditya just loves to bat, bat, bat at it!

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This is what it looks like:

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What simple toys do you make for your kids? Do you prefer making at least some toys or other items for your child to just buying everything?

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Killing Cockroaches the Natural Way

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This post has been edited Oct. 11, 2016 to erase one ineffective recipe with a different one 🙂

Love thy neighbour… But not the freeloaders that came with him!
Our new neighbour moved in with some unwanted baggage – roaches. YUCK!

I am calm at the sight of blood and most other things that lift people’s blood pressure in general, but when it comes to some critters, I scream bloody murder! (OK, this was not intentional, but did you notice I used the word ‘blood’ three times in one sentence? I promise, there will be no more blood in this post:) Cockroaches do that twice to me, because I think they’re dirty.

I need to get rid of them ASAP – the more you wait, the more (cockroaches) you gain. But I don’t want to use any chemicals, especially now with baby in the house.

So I turned to my trusted resource – essential oils. I used to have them for cleaning and skincare a lot before I was pregnant, then I avoided most of them during pregnancy (I will explain more in some future post, there is a lot to say) and when my son arrived, I still didn’t use them as much as before to make sure he won’t get some reaction. Now with our new tenants, I’m rolling my sleeves up and I will spare not one!

Roaches and most other insects hate the smell of some essential oils (chilled citronella, Mr. Mosquito?). So spraying a well diluted mixture of the right oils can serve as a good prevention. Peppermint oil is quite universal, combined with other oils, it’s da bomb! Roaches in general hate citrus oils and mint oils (spearmint, peppermint etc.) and die on ingestion.

Preventative spray for roaches:

  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 8 drops cypress oil OR tea tree OR citronella oil
  • 10 drops peppermint oil

Cockroaches killer spray (if they already invaded your precious home):

  •  1/2 cup saltwater (1 tbsp sea salt in 1/2 cup water)
  • 10 drops cypress oil
  • 10 drops peppermint oil

Mix your oils and water in a spray bottle and spritz corners and hideaway places in your home (roaches tend to like dark and moist corners). Spray also your entry door frame to cut them off before they knock!

I have previously (before the Oct. 11, 2016 edit) recommended a different recipe that turned out to be quite ineffective. Well, here is something we tried and it worked: diatomaceous earth. You can apply it anywhere in your house except for areas that are consistently damp or wet. Apply along any places that can be an entry way for the bugs, where food and food remnants can be dropped; and seal off any cracks or holes where they could be hiding during the day.

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You can also add cotton balls with Thieves blend into AC vents to purify your air and assure that roaches won’t be hiding there.

Happy ‘hunting’!

When using essential oils, exercise precaution like with any other chemicals. They are very (I should type VERY) potent and can be harmful to pets and children if swallowed. Do not spray on food, dishes or near open food containers.

As a source for good quality essential oils, I recommend Young Living Essential Oils.

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Amazing Facts About Breastmilk

While surfing the net looking for information about breastfeeding, I found some really interesting information about breast milk (not breastfeeding, just the milk alone). I bet you didn’t know at least some of these:

 

Breast milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid that is used by the body to manufacture melatonin. Tryptophan levels rise and fall according to maternal circadian rhythms, and when infants consume tryptophan before bedtime, they fall asleep faster. (source)

Macronutrient and energy levels show significant differences between milk samples from mothers of premature infants with different gestational ages, so as to meet different needs of premature infants. (source)

Mama’s body is constantly making the perfect milk for baby.  Milk changes its nutritional profile as baby grows (milk made for a 3 month old is different than for a 9 month old).  Milk can even change day to day—for example, water content may increase during times of hot weather and baby-sickness to provide extra hydration. (source)

The actual make-up of your breast milk changes from feeding to feeding. When your baby first starts feeding, your milk contains mostly lactose and proteins, and is a bluish color. At the end of the feeding, your baby starts drinking hindmilk, which is mostly made up of fat and gives your baby the calories it needs. (source)

Mama’s breasts can detect even a one degree fluctuation in baby’s body temperature and adjust accordingly to heat up or cool down baby as needed.  This is one reason skin-to-skin contact in the early days is so crucial. (source)

There has never been a documented case of a baby being allergic to its own mother’s milk. (source)

 

DIY Baby Mobile – Butterflies

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Here is a fairly simple baby mobile to make. All you need is:

  • cutout shapes (in my case butterflies)
  • thread
  • skewers/ chop sticks
  • hole punch

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I found these butterflies at Michael’s in the scrapbooking section – the package had 12 butterflies made of thin plywood, but if you are making yours from scratch, stock paper with any shapes will do. There are all sorts of paper punches to make your job easier.

Pinterest has the most adorable ideas for mobile designs – hot air balloons, airplanes, birds, bubbles…

Here is how I made this mobile:
Make a hole in each butterfly with a hole punch. String one butterfly at the end of a thread and secure with a knot. Add another butterfly and make a loop or a knot to secure the second butterfly. Repeat for all butterflies until they are strung on threads in twos.

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Make a mobile base using 3 skewers. You can tie them together in a triangle shape with the same thread like I did or you can use a wire or, if you’re a big fan of the hot-glue gun, you can “gun” them together. Hang the threads with butterflies in varying lengths, add a hook and hang at a desired place. Watch the delight in those little eyes:)

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How To Choose Sunscreen for a Baby

Shopping for baby sunscreen can surely be very confusing. Here are what the labels say to lure you into buying a specific product:

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It’s surely a jungle!
Most of baby-targeted sunscreens have a warning “do not use for children under 6 months old” or “for children under 6 months old consult a pediatrician”. We live in South California and NOT wearing a sunscreen is simply not an option, especially now in summer. I’m trying to be outside with the baby every day, so I wanted to understand WHY are sunscreens supposed to be that bad for babies. This is what FDA says:

“Babies’ skin is less mature compared to adults, and infants have a higher surface-area to body-weight ratio compared to older children and adults.” (…) “Both these factors mean that an infant’s exposure to the chemicals in sunscreens may be much greater, increasing the risk of side effects from the sunscreen.” (source)

AHA! It’s the chemicals! Well, I have checked some baby products in our pharmacy isle and here are two labels just to illustrate a point:

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These two baby products (that are for DAILY use) contain a handful of ingredients that are not safe for adults, let alone children (hormone disruptors being the most questionable ingredients). But there was no warning to consult a pediatrician before use! Hmmm….. While I appreciate the FDA’s concern over baby sunscreens, I know there are some, that are much healthier than the products that the hospitals send young mothers home with as freebies!

Your best bet:

Visit EWG’s Skindeep Database (EWG is a nonprofit Environmental Working Group independently testing product safety) to check your product’s ingredients safety and find best options for yourself and your baby. There are lots of options and an organic sunscreen doesn’t always mean zinc-white skin or super thick formula. You will be pleasantly surprised!

Also check out the sunscreen DON’Ts here and COVER UP! And yes, follow the safe-sun tips from FDA:)

 

  • Keep your baby in the shade as much as possible.
  • If you do use a small amount of sunscreen on your baby, don’t assume the child is well protected.
  • Make sure your child wears clothing that covers and protects sensitive skin. Use common sense; if you hold the fabric against your hand and it’s so sheer that you can see through it, it probably doesn’t offer enough protection.
  • Make sure your baby wears a hat that provides sufficient shade at all times.
  • Watch your baby carefully to make sure he or she doesn’t show warning signs of sunburn or dehydration. These include fussiness, redness and excessive crying.
  • Hydrate! Give your baby formula or breast milk if you’re out in the sun for more than a few minutes. Don’t forget to use a cooler to store the liquids.
  • Take note of how much your baby is urinating. If it’s less than usual, it may be a sign of dehydration, and that more fluids are needed until the flow is back to normal.
  • Avoid combination sunscreens containing insect repellants like DEET. Young children may lick their hands or put them in their mouths. According to the AAP, DEET should not be used on infants less than 2 months old.
  • If you do notice your baby is becoming sunburned, get out of the sun right away and apply cold compresses to the affected areas.