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.

Found In Translation: UK English Baby Glossary

When I moved to the USA many years ago from Ireland (which is not my home country, if you ask), I had the occasional run-in with the different words used on either side of the Atlantic (or, more often, SAME words with different meaning). Now as a new mum, I had to learn a completely new word book of baby vocabulary.

Here for those of you who might travel to Europe – or just want to have a good laugh – today I present you with some basics of British baby-talk.

Let’s start by changing the baby, shall we? For that, of course, you will need some nappies. Dirty ones go into a nappy bin or, if you’re a bit more posh, into a nappy disposal system. Since we just established the absence of “diapers”, there are no diaper bags. Your baby items will fit comfortably into a changing bag.

But before you put a new nappy on, you will want to clean your baby using a top and tail bowl and drying her afterwards with some cotton wool.

Are you going out? If you don’t want to use a carrier, you will need a pram. The term pram can be confusing.  Many people use the word to mean a pushchair or travel system, but it is also the name for a traditional, coach-style pram. Make sure your tyres are in good shape!

Are you staying in? Baby can be put to sleep in a cot (or if you’re visiting, you’ll probably have a carrycot or Moses basket). You might notice that more European parents are rather concerned that their baby might kick a blanket off and get cold than suffocate underneath it. That’s because the use of cellular blankets is more popular than fleece blankets. Also, European parents don’t give their babies pacifiers, but pacify them with dummies.

If you’re bottle feeding, make sure you have some extra teats (however if you pronounce it ‘tits’, you may as well just stay with nipples:) and a bottle and teat brush.

Lastly, stock up on bibs and cloths to wipe the posset. Now this word is tricky. What is posset you want to know? Wikipedia will tell you that “A posset (also spelled poshote, poshotte) was a British hot drink of milk curdled with wine or ale, often spiced, which was popular from medieval times to the 19th century”. That’s not really helpful. And although somebody once said that it sounds like something the British would wear on their heads to horse races, it is rarely worn on heads (although as a new parent you possibly had it on yesterday:))). Americans call it un-euphemistically spit-up!

What other British words do you find confusing?

DIY Infant Stimulation Mobile

This post contains an affiliate link to Brillkids.com.

When I was pregnant, I was thinking “I will make so many things for the baby! Toys, blanket, clothes! I was always good with crafts, I can do this!”
Dear momma-to-be. It’s not that easy. If you still have time, work on your crafts before your baby arrives! I mean it. Once your little monkey makes her way to this world, your mind will be set on a million things, but baby DIYs. I still have a crochet half-blanket somewhere, I don’t think I will finish it unless I decide to make it for someone else’s baby in the future:)

But there IS light (at the end of the tunnel? Eh, I’d say more like a skylight on the way:). Aditya is really enjoying his tummy time and spends more time in his baby gym without me having to hand him toys or dangle play-stuff above his head, so I decided to make him a few mobiles while he was at (baby)work. Yes, not just one mobile. This baby gets bored so easily, so I thought if I’m able to finish a few of them, I can rotate them throughout the house to keep him entertained. So there will be more DIY mobiles on the way:)))

This one is for the smallest babies and I wish I made it when he was really tiny. He enjoys it anyway, but I recommend this as one of the very first mobiles for a baby. The mobile is Montessori inspired and covers the principles of many early education methods. There are lots of ways you can modify and customize your mobile. I didn’t use anybody else’s instructions, so I had to figure out some things and kinks along the way, but I hope my half-baked instructions will help you or at least inspire you!

Here are the things I used:

  • black and white printouts (I used Infant Stimulation cards from BrillKids)
  • construction paper (you won’t see it in the picture though, I couldn’t find any in the house, but I found 5 non-winning lottery tickets… don’t ask… and used them instead)
  • glue
  • scissors
  • thin ribbon
  • wooden sticks (I used skewers)
  • steel wire (not pictured)

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There was a small change along the way: the wooden skewers didn’t work very well, so I changed them for a WIRE.

First I cut out the shapes I selected and glued them onto the cardstock (non-winning tickets, I mean;))) and then made a hole in the middle to pull a piece of ribbon through. I made a little loop at the end – this is how you will hang the pictures. You can tie them directly to your mobile base, but I wanted to make them interchangeable and use different pictures after a week.

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The I made a base with wire – from the top: a large hook (to hang it wherever you fancy), one wire arm – looks like an arch with a loop in the middle and on each end), loop to hang both arms above each other and the second arm – same arch with a loop in the middle and on each end.

You will want the two arms to form a cross, so the mobile’s pictures are spread out evenly.

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Make hooks to add at each arm’s end and one in the middle:

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Hang your pictures and voila!

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I will be delighted if you share your mobile ideas with me! And as promised, when I have time, I will post other mobiles.

This post contains an affiliate link to Brillkids.com.

 

Supporting Brestfeeding on Social Media

Last month one of my Facebook statuses said this:

I do it in a restaurant. On a park bench. On the back seat of the car. First time at church was weird… Of course, I prefer doing it in bed or on the sofa, but I’ve done it even while shopping or on the street.
Breastfeeding.

Lots of “likes” and comments followed!

And it was not to shock, it was just to stir a debate. Let’s support breastfeeding mothers and raise some awareness so it’s not that darn difficult in some public places! Even if you cant’ breastfeed, but want to bring attention to the subject, do something like this, please.

How do you raise awareness of motherhood-connected issues?

Poop Proofing Infant Swimming Lessons

I was looking forward to the age I could take my baby for swimming classes. A local pool offered classes from 3 months of age which might seem too young, but our son really liked it from the first time we went in!

The pool, like most pools with infant and children swim classes, requires “double diaper” policy – meaning a reusable swim diaper over a disposable. We have been using cloth diapers since Aditya has been 2 weeks old (before that he was too small for the ‘small’ size) and one of the reasons was keeping a one-time item out of landfill. Plus have you checked out the prices for disposable swim diapers? Insane and insane!

So I have decided to employ my wits and figure out a way where I would respect the pool policy and keep my decision to reduce waste. And believe me, I wanted this to work, I would certainly NOT want to be the mom, whose baby cleared the pool;) And after all, I ended up triple-proofing my baby’s butt…

Now, if you’ve never used a swim cloth diaper, this is how it works: it’s not supposed to keep the pee in, just “numero dos”, the poo. So if you’re going to the pool, you want to change your baby into the swim diaper at the pool, not at home, or you might end up with a piddle pool in your car/ stroller/ carrier before you get to the pool at all. The swim diaper lets the pee out – if it held liquids, how would the diaper distinguish between your baby’s juices and the pool water unless it was completely sealed off (which it isn’t)? It is meant to contain only solid waste. And don’t be grossed out. The reality is that many adults pee in the pool too (!!!) and because urine is sterile, it doesn’t pose any health risks. Mostly. Sorry, if you didn’t want to know…

Here is what I do now even if we go to the pool in our community:

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First I use a cheap reusable diaper that I actually got as a gift when we were staying in some hotel (it was part of their kid’s amenity), very similar to “i play” brand. You can get “i play” at almost any kids store and major department stores.

I insert a fleece liner or a small cloth insert (also known as “doubler” or “booster” in the cloth diapering community) into the diaper. Reason? If there is a small poop in the diaper, I don’t have to wash the whole thing, but throw the liner into the laundry bag with other cloth diapers and rinse the cover unless it is soiled. It also gives me the feeling of security that there is an extra layer that will encourage the poop to adhere to. I use Bummis brand for cloth diapering, so I use their liners and boosters too (both available on Amazon and major cloth diapering sites).

Here you see the diaper on my son. My problem with pull-ups is that Aditya is quite skinny and as you can see, the diaper is not sealed properly around his thighs, which is the key for it to work properly:

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Next step is to wrap the cheapo brand cover with a reusable cover with hook-and-loop closure. I love this style, because it is easily customizable and your child is likely to use the same cover for a longer time as he’s growing and the little body is changing shape. The hook-and-loop seals the thigh and tummy area really well:

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Now the staff at the pool sees that we are really wearing two diapers – no cheating here:) And by pulling the top part up a little I am pretty sure that Aditya won’t get his skin scratched by the velcro (it doesn’t happen often, but some reviews mention it, so I  thought I didn’t want to find out, if it happens to my baby;))) – every child’s body is different, so even the diaper will fit slightly differently on each). Again I use Bummis, I love the prints they have (AND their reviews are great)!

And then we just top it off with a rash guard if we’re in the outdoor pool and voila! Happy poop-proofed baby!

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Here are Amazon links to the diapers I like using so much:

 

Liners:     

Diapers:  

 

This post contains affiliate links from Amazon.com. I never link to products I would not recommend based on personal use or products I believe are not healthy/ eco friendly/ ethical.

Supercute Baby Shower Idea – DIY Onesies

On my baby shower I decided to put my guests to work 🙂

I bought 10 white onesies (5 for 3-6 months and 5 for 0-3 months size) and a pack of colourful Sharpies. Then I printed some funny T-shirt quotes as an inspiration and gave it all to the friend who was organizing my baby shower.

Here are my one-of-a-kind onesies (sorry, some of them are already worn, I didn’t take a picture when they were all shiny brand new):

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For good success, if you wish to try this at your baby shower, I suggest:

  • Take into account the number of guests attending and buy about half that many onesies or shirts (not everyone is into crafts and couples sometimes collaborate) – but if buy too many, it’s OK, you have white onesies to give to someone else, use them plain or decorate them yourself in those long evenings when you’re out of work and enjoying your last days before the joyous arrival!
  • Depending on the number of guests see if you need more than one set of Sharpies/ markers, so that nobody cries they can’t find the colour they need (yes, adults turn into babies during times like these:)))
  • Let your guests know there is no do-over. If they make a mistake, it will stay.
  • Make sure you collaborate with your host, so they have an adequate space ready – a work table with a cover or something similar. You wouldn’t want your guests to leave marker stains on a friend’s fancy couch!

Alternatives:

  • Strictly black & white version is very cute too. Or choose another marker colour and use only that.
  • Do this on your kid’s birthday – small kiddo = adults do the crafting. Older kiddo = his/ her friends make t-shirts for him!
  • Dyed shirts with bleach (the design will be white on coloured shirt) >>> careful, this one would be messy!