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Entertaining Sunshine: Part One

Entertaining Sunshine: Part one

As baby Sunshine is getting older it’s both easier and harder to entertain her at the same time. She is more interactive and interested in her environment, but she also gets bored easily. As a stay at home Mom I am her primary playmate, so I have to work hard to keep her from getting bored with me. I am starting a series of posts sharing a few ways I pass the time and keep Sunshine entertained. This will be an ongoing series as her interests change, she grows, and I discover new ways to keep her engaged and entertained!

Funny Faces & Chatting

My little girl loves funny faces and babbling chats with me. I try to repeat the sounds she makes back at her, she really enjoys it. Recently she started blowing bubbles constantly, so I blow bubbles back! Easy, simple, fun. Sunshine also likes making faces at herself. Best way to do that aside from a mirror? My iMac’s photo booth application!

Us playing around in iMac Photo Booth.

Us playing around in iMac Photo Booth.

Baby Sign Language

I am teaching Sunshine a few basic signs like Mother, Father, milk, and eat. Next I want to start drink, more, diaper, Grandpa, Grandma, dog, and cat. She absolutely loves staring up at me while I sign to her. There are tons of free sign language sources online to get you started, and if you want in-person help you can look for baby sign classes near you.

Here are two of my favorite online resources:

Books and other High-Contrast Activities

Another obvious one, reading! Of course you should read to your child from an early age, but who says you can’t let your baby start reading in their own way as well? My favorite way to let my three month old “read” on her own is a high-contrast black, white, and red book. Look, Look!  by Peter Linenthal is her favorite. She also enjoys Baby Animals Black and White by Phyllis L. Tildes.

If you can’t afford a board book right now, then how about downloading and printing these cards from So Smart! So Smart also includes some tips on how to engage your baby. Another free resource comes from Fisher-Price: they have a plethora of free apps for baby available for iPhone and iPad. If you are comfortable with allowing your little one to look at screens (I personally don’t have a problem with it as long as it isn’t constant exposure), then these apps are awesome. Sunshine’s favorite baby app is the Fisher-Price B&W High Contrast App. It features adorable moving animals in black, white, and red and music you can turn on or off.

Checking out her Look, Look! book during a diaper/outfit change.

Checking out her Look, Look! book during a diaper/outfit change. Gotta love her facial expressions.

Babywearing

Babies love to watch what you’re doing. Why not wear baby around the house while you’re doing chores so she can watch? Sunshine loves watching me cook, clean, do laundry, dishes, anything really! She also enjoys the bonding time. I have a Moby and an Ergo carrier, but I just ordered my first woven carrier. I will let you know how that goes once that gets here! 🙂

Sunshine looking around Sam's Club while she's in her Moby wrap.

Sunshine looking around Sam’s Club while she’s in her Moby wrap.

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Laundry Lesson Two: Sun your Diapers!

Lesson Two: Sun your Diapers!

Seriously, sun your diapers.  People told me to do this when I started cloth diapering and I thought eh, maybe it’ll work. Now, I am a sunning convert. I don’t do it with every single wash, but I do it as often as I can. There are actually a lot of benefits to sunning or line drying clothing. How do you do it? Well, it’s simple put your wet diapers or clothing outside in direct sunlight and leave it for a while. Make sure to keep them wet if you want to keep sunning them. So if you check back and the stains are still really bad, just wet them again and stick the diapers back outside. When you’re done you can either bring everything in and use it as is (assuming it’s completely dry), or finish it in the dryer.

Here’s a few photos from my most recent sunning session!

Diapers when I put them outside. I rewet them once, and I don't know what that is on the far left one. It's some kind of dirt that's IN the fabric, but it was there after washing. I am still trying to get that out.

Diapers when I put them outside. I rewet them once, and I don’t know what that is on the far left one. It’s some kind of dirt that’s IN the fabric, but it was there after washing. I am still trying to get that out.

And after! Please excuse the pink glow from my shirt. My husband was rushing me to go to our anniversary dinner, so I didn't get the best photo..but you get the idea. Stains are basically gone!

And after! Please excuse the pink glow from my shirt. My husband was rushing me to go to our anniversary dinner, so I didn’t get the best photo..but you get the idea. Stains are basically gone!

So why should you sun your diapers? Here are a few reasons.

1. Cut your electric bill, at least theoretically.

If you’re not using the dryer as often or as long then you’re cutting down on your electric bill. Maybe it’s only pennies saved, but hey every little bit counts! Some people don’t like that line-dried clothes feel “crunchy.” If that bothers you, you can still use the dryer afterwards to toss the clothes or diapers around with some dryer balls and get the clothes soft again.

2. Bye, bye stains!

Your stains should not be as bad after sunning, but often stains will be completely gone in just a few hours. If the stain is particularly troublesome you might have to up your game some by doing multiple sunning sessions or trying some stain-fighting additives like lemon juice. I haven’t tried using lemon juice yet, so no personal experience with that one. A word of caution: I know GroVia and a lot of other diaper companies do not recommend using most plant oil or substances on their diapers. Companies are often decently picky about what you can use to fight stains since the fabrics may be organic and “caustic substances” will destroy the fabric, so make sure it wouldn’t void your warranty to try any stain additive you’re considering.

3. Bacteria? What bacteria?

Sunning your diapers naturally kills nasty things on your diapers such as yeast. It’s a way to avoid having to use harsher substances to sanitize your diapers. The jury is still out about whether bleach even works 100% to sanitize diapers, but it probably kills most things. Either way the sun is a better natural, free solution without any gross chemicals! Even if you aren’t having a problem (a lot of people never do), it’s still a good idea to periodically sun your diapers to sanitize them just to be safe. Keep in mind you can sun wet bags and pail liners, too! I try to not leave them outside as long because I figure that long-term heat is probably bad for the PUL, but I still stick them out there for an hour or so at a time assuming it’s not raging hot. I’m not an expert though, so use your best judgment on how long you want to leave anything outside sunning.

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Bamboobies Review

When I started breastfeeding I used disposable nursing pads. While they served their purpose, I grew tired very fast of buying box after box after box. I have an oversupply and my boobs leak a lot. I mean…a lot. My baby is 3 months old and they’re STILL leaking a lot, does this ever end?! Anyway, I zoomed through a 100-count box of disposable nursing pads in just a few weeks. The money-saving side of me decided to look into other options. That was when I remembered Bamboobies, and I decided to give them a try. I purchased the Bamboobies reviewed here myself, Bamboobies did not provide them or request that I review their product.

Lucky for me Babies R Us was having a sale of buy one box get the other discounted (I think it was 20 or 40% off). So I was able to try out a mixed box of regular and overnight Bamboobies and an additional box of overnights for a discounted price. I thought I would probably need more overnights than regular Bamboobies because of my tendency to leak heavily.  So with no further ado, after months of using Bamboobies with a lot of success and putting them to the test on a road trip here are my honest opinions about Bamboobies!

If you can’t tell already I’m in love with them. They DO feel velvety soft and they are cute. One of my regular pairs washed up a little weird – a little rougher than the others, but even that pair is still soft compared to a disposable nursing pad. Oh yeah that’s the best part about them in case you didn’t realize by now, they wash and dry normally – no special care! I just toss them in my lingerie bag and put them in the washer with the rest of my clothes.

Regular Pair

A pair of regular Bamboobies on top of an Overnight pair.

A pair of regular Bamboobies on top of an overnight pair

The regular have a special heart-shaped design that both looks cute and fits nipples better than the average disposable nursing pad. You can wear the hearts up or down depending on your breast and nipple shape. The shape combined with the thinness make regular Bamboobies virtually invisible under clothes. Even though the pads feel thin, they absorb a ton of liquid since they’re made of a bamboo fabric blend. Bamboo is becoming a very popular fabric because it is soft and incredibly absorbent at the same time. The backing is milk-proof, so even when they’re full Bamboobies do not leak from the back. They actually leak out the sides when they’re full.

Back of regular Bamboobies. Top: Light pink, Middle: Hot pink, Bottom: Black

Back of regular Bamboobies Top: Light pink, Middle: Hot pink, Bottom: Black

I tried wearing one pair of regulars on a road-trip. On a prior 7-hour road trip I used disposables and I was able to use one pair the whole time successfully; however, it is important to note I stopped to nurse multiple times during the trip. On my Bamboobies test trip it was a 2.5 hour drive, but no stopping. So by the time we got settled in at the in-laws house for me to nurse it had probably been 4 or 5 hours since baby ate last. I actually leaked through my shirt on the side I hadn’t nursed yet wearing the regular Bamboobies. The milk didn’t come out the back, it came through each side of the heart onto my bra and then my shirt.

I was a little disappointed, but then again I also wasn’t 100% sure the regular pair would hold up to heavy leaking over a long period of time. So lesson learned: on a roadtrip wear the overnight Bamboobies or change halfway through to a second pair. That being said, on a normal day out and about or just around the house I’ve had luck with regular Bamboobies. I haven’t experienced any leaks yet on the average day. If you aren’t a heavy leaker, you’d probably last on a long trip with no problem.

Pros:
  • Virtually invisible under clothes
  • Cute colors that work well with virtually any bra and clothing (hot pink, black, light pink)
  • Heart-shaped design
  • Thinner and as a result less noticeable to you as well
  • Super absorbent
  • Silky smooth
  • No special care, just wash and dry normally
Cons:
  • Not as absorbent as overnights (but they’re not supposed to be), so if you leak heavily you’re going to potentially need a few pairs to get through the day
  • You need to be diligent about changing any leak-proof backed nursing pads once they are full because long-term exposure to wetness on the nipple could create a thrush problem. I’d argue that long-term exposure in a disposable could also lead to thrush as well, but I guess the main difference is breathability factor and a lot of people are more likely to change a disposable faster than a resuable nursing pad.

Overnight Pair

overnightbamboobiepicmonkey

Top: newer pair a few weeks old, bottom: pair used for over two months

Overnight Bamboobies are more of the traditional circular shape. They are also considerably thicker (though still not super bulky) and will absorb a lot more. I’ve never needed more than one pair of overnight Bamboobies to get through the night, so my stash primarily consists of overnights because I figured I can leak through a pair of regulars faster on a long day. You CAN see the overnight pairs through a bra/shirt if it’s tight fighting, so they’re not much different from disposable nursing pads as far as visibility goes.

Back of overnight Bamboobies

Back of overnight Bamboobies

I am happy to say I’ve never leaked through the overnights in one night; however, I have filled up a pair of disposable nursing pads in the same amount of time. I’ve only had leaking issues with the overnight Bamboobies if I didn’t have them in my bra correctly when I fell asleep. Newborn-related fatigue’ll do that to ya.

stainedbamboobiepicmonkeyAs you can see in the bottom pair they wear pretty well, but do stain sometimes. I am not sure if the stain is breastmilk or Lanolin, but my guess is it’s Lanolin. The stains do not bother me because the Bamboobies still function and feel the same.

Pros:
  • Very absorbent, even more than regular pairs, so awesome for heavy leakers
  • Still silky smooth
  • Need less of them since they last longer between time to change them
  • No special care, just wash and dry normally
Cons:
  • Visible through form-fitting clothes
  • Not as many colors, only comes in a light blue color
  • Takes just a little longer to dry in the dryer since they’re thicker

So that’s my take on Bamboobies! What do you think of them, have you tried them? I’d love to hear your experiences!

Buy them
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Leaping Sheep Wool Dryer Balls Review

I’ve officially used my Leaping Sheep Wool Dryer Balls daily for a month. I purchased the Leaping Sheep Dryer Balls from EcoBabyBuys.com. I was able to get 8 dryer balls for $39.95 (that includes shipping). The normal price for Leaping Sheep Dryer Balls is about $6.00-$8.00 each. I paid about $5 a piece on EcoBabyBuys.com. Leaping Sheep did not request that I review this product, and I purchased it with my own funds.

New in package Leaping Sheep Dryer Balls

New in package Leaping Sheep Dryer Balls

I ordered one multicolored flower set and one white set. The owner recommends that you use the colored ones with colored laundry and the white ones with white laundry. So far I’ve just used all of them with every load. I think the colored ones may have left a mark or two on a wet bag, but other than that I’ve had no issues mixing them. So how are they working out a month later? I LOVE them!

Some facts about dryer balls from The Leaping Sheep’s website and their shop on Etsy:

  • Hand-made from 100% wool
  • Sustainable resource
  • No harsh chemicals
  • Reduces drying time by around 25%

Using dryer balls cut my cloth diaper inserts dry time by at least fifteen minutes to half an hour depending on the load size. That may not sound like a lot of time, but when you have a smaller stash like mine you need clean diapers quickly!  The other thing I noticed is that some  of my clothes and towels came out softer than I even knew they could be. It’s like the dryer balls revitalized my clothes. I didn’t use fabric softener before baby was born, but I did use dryer sheets with every load so I was concerned about static.

Dryer balls hanging out in my dryer with my GroVia soaker pads and fleece liners.

Dryer balls hanging out in my dryer with my GroVia soaker pads and fleece liners.

Before using my dryer balls I had a ton of static since I wasn’t using anything after I stopped using dryer sheets. There is of course still some static in my clothes, towels, etc., but it’s not as bad now that I use dryer balls. Wool dryer balls are also easy to care for – if you need to clean them for whatever reason just wash them in the washer with a little detergent then dry them normally. I needed to clean mine as I sanitized everything when my daughter was fighting a yeast infection.

So how do they look after a month of daily use?

Close-up white dryer balls

They white dryer balls are a little extra fuzzy looking, but otherwise in the same condition as when I received them. Of course they are still functioning the same as well! I’ve already saved money because since I am doing daily laundry I probably would have went through at least one or two boxes of dryer sheets by now.

Close-up of Flower Dryer Balls

My flower multi-color dryer balls have picked up a bit of lint (I need to clean it off of them), but otherwise they are also in the same condition as when I received them.

I was worried about whether I would see an increase of lint in my dryer’s lint trap. I was afraid the dryer balls would pill or shed. I am happy to report that I haven’t seen an increase of lint at all! So I am in love with my dryer balls and would highly recommend them if you’re looking for a safe, eco-friendly way to reduce drying time of your cloth diapers and your clothing. Finally, I’d like to compliment the owner of Leaping Sheep as they’ve been very helpful every time I’ve contacted them. They responded within hours, and answered my questions promptly.

Connect with Leaping Sheep – Facebook

Buy them! Etsy or Leaping Sheep.com

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Laundry Lessons

In a reoccurring series on this blog I am going to impart some of my many laundry lessons from the last few months. I’m not an expert, but these lessons helped me wash clothes more thoroughly and in a way that’s better for my machine. Apparently my laundry skills needed a lot of improvement!

Lesson One: Load Size

This is probably common sense to some people, but it wasn’t to me. I have a front-loading high efficiency washing machine and dryer and I filled my washer to the brim at every wash. When it was time for our washer’s maintenance, the repairman gave my husband some cautionary tales. My husband passed those lessons on to me. Filling the machine completely is very bad because if you’re washing heavy things (e.g. towels) it can actually throw off the drum and will eventually damage and/or break the machine. Over time the unbalanced drum grinds against the outside of the machine causing wear. We’re talking a seriously expensive repair if a repair is even possible. So don’t wash a huge load of laundry in your HE front loader (HE FL)! If you’re washing a lot of heavy items do not fill the machine more than about halfway, maybe fill it even less if you can. It’s just not worth breaking your machine or shortening its lifespan.

Another issue with washing too many clothes at one time is that HE FL machines do not use a lot of water (hence the HE part). If you put too much in the machine the items you’re washing won’t get enough water to adequately rinse out your detergent OR the grime. That means when you dry your clothes, towels, etc., they still have detergent in them and that detergent is sitting against your skin, yuck! Check your manual of your machine and determine which settings are appropriate for your wash load. All of those settings mean different things. For my machine the bulky/bedding setting seems to produce the most water, so I make sure to use that for big loads like towels or cloth diapers. I find that the “load sensing” technology on my normal setting doesn’t produce enough water to adequately clean big loads. I’ll talk more later about trying to trick your machine into using more water. The HE feature is great for money-savings, but sometimes not so great for cloth diapers which require A LOT of water to get clean.

What are some things you’ve learned about laundry that you have to share?