Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Snap in Soaker Tutorial

This tutorial shows you how to quickly and easily make a snap in soaker for your wool AI2/Diaper Cover.

Step 1:
Make a template of the snap locations from the cover. Push the awl through the paper.
Step 2:
Fold a birdseye prefold (I used Gerber's) with the thick part facing out and the two thinner sides folded over each other. You should prewash these before putting in snaps since they tend to shrink in the wash. Then mark the prefold using the template and a pen.

Step 3:
Snap away! Push the snaps through the prefold.

Congrats! You're done!
Be careful when snapping and unsnapping them from the cover, you should hold both the soaker and the cover so as not to pull the snaps out.
You are free to use this tutorial for non-commercial purposes. Please cite this blog if you do repost it anywhere else.

Mama Squirrel says: You can use other types of fabric for the soakers (bamboo, microfleece, terry)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Wool AI2/Diaper Cover Tutorial with Snaps

I had meant to make a wool diaper cover for my boy for a while now. Finally got around to doing it a few weeks ago and now its time to upload the tutorial to the blog!

Since wool is naturally waterproof and its not made from plastic (PUL), it seemed like a great natural alternative to the traditional diaper covers. Wool covers are pretty pricey generally so I thought I could make it myself. I bought some wool fabric from DiaperCuts. I also got KAMSnaps pliers recently and have been using the snaps for quite a few things.

3/4 yard of outer diaper fabric (I used wool)
20 inches of elastic (1/4 inch)
thread matching the fabric
22 sockets, 4 studs and 26 caps snaps (size 20) matching fabric color
2 sockets, 2 studs, 4 caps (size 20 or size 16) in white
pins, scissors, pen, awl, snap pliers

Step 1:
Make the template for the diaper. I used a GroBaby shell for my template but you can use your favorite diaper cover, or use a template found online. (Ottobre has a free pattern). Cut the pattern out and pin it to your fabric. I cut out two copies out of the fabric so the cover would be two sided and the snaps wouldn't touch the baby's skin. To make sure the diaper is even make sure to cut the diaper lengthwise with the fabric fold in the middle. This is what my cut out fabric looked like:

Step 2:
Use the template found here or make your own for the snaps. I spaced the snaps 3/4 of an inch apart. Then using an awl punch holes where the snaps should go in the paper. Placing the template on top of the diaper, mark where the snaps should go with the pen. Then use the awl to punch a hole where the markings on the diaper are. Use the sockets and caps and with the pliers attach them to the diaper. Be careful to make sure each snap is well centered (it's easiest when you do this with the pliers resting on the floor) otherwise it won't snap when the diaper is finished. The final product should look like this:

Step 3:
If you are making a two-ply diaper, pin the snapped fabric to the unsnapped fabric piece such that the caps are facing outward. Then stitch around the front of the diaper, but only as far as the edges shown in the image below (not past where the elastic will go). This is so that we can insert snaps for the snap in soakers - you can skip this step if you don't want a snap-in soaker.
The final product when you turn the fabric inside out should look like this with a nice trim on the outside.
Step 4:
Once you turn the diaper right side out, create a template to with two snaps about 2 inches apart and mark it on the diaper (on the side opposite from the snaps but towards the front of the diaper - about 4 inches down). I used size 16 snaps but upon further reflection it might be better to use larger size snaps so they're more secure when snapping the soaker in and out.
In the end you'll have something like this. Notice that the front of the diaper now has lots of snaps on one side and two smaller snaps on the inside with the back of the diaper not yet stitched.

Step 5:
Turn the diaper inside out again and stitch the rest of it around the edge of the diaper except for the top of the diaper. The image below shows all the stitching. Note that there's no stitching on one of the flaps on the upper part of the diaper (so we can turn the diaper right side out again.)
Step 6:
Attach 6 inch pieces of elastic at two places on the diaper. This should span about a foot along the diaper. Attach a 5 inch piece of elastic at the back of the diaper as well.

Step 7:
Turn the diaper inside out and pin around the elastic. This will make 'tunnels' for the elastic. This is a tricky step but take your time with it. I've included several photos to show how to do this.

Step 8:
Once you've stitched around the elastics, you should see this:
Next topstitch around the flaps of the diapers to make it look neater and close up the hole we left to turn the diaper right side out.

Step 9:
Use the same template as before to put two snaps with studs on each of the flaps about an inch in from the edge. You can also put four snaps on each flap if you prefer.
Step 10:
Finally add some bling! I got these adorable 'Mommy Made This' tags from DiaperCuts.

Congrats! You're Done! Enjoy your handmade diaper!
Since this is wool, you should wash by hand, wool diaper care instructions can be found here.
You are free to use this tutorial for non-commercial purposes. Please cite this blog if you do repost it anywhere else.

Mama Squirrel says: I'll be posting the tutorial for the snap-in soakers in another post.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Baby Teeth Cleaning

DS got his first two teeth when he was 4 months old. Pretty early from what I hear. They started off as these two little white lines peeking through the gums and then in a few days were much taller! It was so exciting! Then a few weeks later the top two front teeth emerged as well. A few weeks after that it was the two side teeth. So now he has 6 teeth at 8.5 months old. I know how important dental hygiene is and I want to make sure that he gets the best start caring for his precious pearly whites. I try to brush his little teeth with one of these finger toothbrushes and at first he thought it was great--- now he kinda likes to bite my finger along with the toothbrush :). Of course sometimes I get bitten when trying to breastfeed as well and that is not nearly as cute.

I know that babies don't need to go to the baby dentist until a year but since he already has 6 teeth I'd like to do everything I can to maintain them. So I was excited to see a giveaway of some dental products as we get ready for DS to start on the road to good dental hygiene.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

July Goodies

What's the best way to beat the summer heat on Fourth of July? A milkshake made from strawberries, blueberries, and bananas!

On another note, July is a great month - its the month DH proposed and the month we were married :) July 1, 2007 :) and then there's Independence Day with great BBQs, and beaches and vacation! I love July. The pic below is from our Anniversary dinner party in my in-laws gazebo. Great night and delicious chicken-ka-bob made by hubby... yum! Oh and DS has these great little organic puffs that he can pick up and eat by himself and they melt in his mouth so they're safer than cheerios.
How did you spend your July 4th? And is July an eventful month for you as well?

5 Beach Essentials

This past few days we've gotten around to going to the beach - Jersey shore. We went to Belmar twice since that area is nice and no too touristy. About an hour drive from my parent's house and a nice day trip for the whole family :) including baby. Since we typically don't wind up leaving the house until around 2pm anyway, by the time we make it to the beach it is already around 4 or so, and at that point it's also free, fewer people there, not as hot, and sunburn is less likely. Although we still keep baby covered up and I make sure to wear sunscreen since I burn really easily.

Now, for the essentials. In the past we just brought along a towel and some fold out chairs but those can be cumbersome to carry around. This year (with baby in mind) I think I made some really nice choices in terms of beach gear so we are all set for summer! Here is a list of things that I think are really nice to have for having fun in the sun!

1) I got a waterproof blanket from Bed, Bath, and Beyond - typically 20 bucks but with the 20% discount coupon they always send us it was only 15 - great deal :) It's nice because it just folds up and zips up into a carry tote with a pocket. This is a similar one, but I have the pic of it below and this one is similar.

2) Beach tent - I didn't want to spend tons on a tent, and I wanted it to be easy to set up and take down, and have plenty of room and be airy. I also didn't want a real tent since those seem cumbersome. Plus since I breastfeed I needed a nice shelter to feed baby away from the sun and prying eyes. I originally noticed this one from BBaB but at the time when I decided to actually buy it, they no longer had it in stock.... But I found an even better* alternative - cheaper and in stock at Christmas Tree Shops --- this store is amazing - so many tchatchkes and just perfect for stocking up for the summer. Anyway at CTS they have the Nantucket Beach Hut for $15 - can't beat that especially since you can find them online for much more. So if you have a CTS near you, recommend getting this 'hut' - otherwise BBaB online has them (they don't carry them in the store).
Some nice features:
* two window flaps that can be zipped up
* easy assembly - 3 rod-like things that fit into little casings around the hut
* roooooomy - so roomy inside
Some cons:
* if it's too windy, it can flap around too much, make sure to have plenty of heavier items inside (diaper bag works wonders for it)

3) Most expensive item in our beach repertoire - for baby - a tent that's roomy and breezy and keeps the sun out but baby in (mostly). I was in a Babies R Us looking for a baby tent and they had three different kinds, I finally settled on this one. Of course I also used the 20% off coupon so it was only 30 bucks I believe, pricey but not too bad.
An improvement would be for the front part to have a higher clearance off the ground so the baby can't touch the sand and pull more sand in. It also tends to tip so would be good to have little stakes that dig it into the ground like the ones that come with the Nantucket Beach Hut.

4) Water! Bring a water bottle - we use two stainless steel water bottles - perfect for washing down baby's hands after he gets them all sandy!

5) Sunscreen! I just got some Badger unscented sunscreen since it has the fewest ingredients and no harmful chemicals as per the Skin Deep Database. It is pricey but knowing that I'm not putting harmful chemicals on baby (haven't put sunscreen on him yet - but will in future) is well worth it.

Share your favorite beach accessories or stories!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Recently breastfeeding has been getting some negative press and while I won't dwell on that too much, this was a comment I left on Dirty Diaper Laundry blog in response to a recent slew of ugly celeb tweets about BFing:

I never gave much thought to BFing until DS was born, now I can't imagine not... introducing solids makes me sad too since I know i can't BF him forever... well maybe till middle school :) (j/k) Its upsetting that BFing is so low in the public eye and it seems formula is the immediate response everyone gives when you ask 'how will you feed your baby?' The fact that celebs are blasting it.. well.. it just go to show you that you really shouldn't listen to what celebs have to say... they're famous... not necessarily experts on anything beyond that! Of course complaining about people complaining about BFing isnt really a solution either... to make a difference its best to help spread the word about BFing rather than putting anyone else down for their opinion... and yes formula seems pretty icky to me... but i suppose 'to each his own'? sorry for the rant... :)

To elaborate on that, I love BFing my son. The first few weeks were very difficult and I had thought of giving up a few times while still recovering from birth and adjusting to taking care of a newborn, especially since DH had to be gone during the week and could only drive down to my parent's house where we were staying on the weekends. DH also saw how broken I was and was suggesting that maybe we should switch to formula to keep my sanity (and his).

So it was tough, I thought I wasn't doing it properly, that the latch-on was wrong, I was a mess.... How did you guys feel? Did you have a hard time then too? Anyway, besides all the raging hormones and the fact that it hurt to sit, walk, stand... etc... those first few weeks were really tough and I am so happy I stuck with BFing in the face of that. For any new mom on the fence, I won't beat around the bush, BFing takes time to figure out and perfect, but the reward you get from bonding with your baby and knowing you are giving him exactly the 'formula' that he needs because it is catered especially for him, is priceless.... I am not saying that formula is bad per se --- but if you have the opportunity and the time to BF, give it a serious try. [Personally I am all about naturally taking care of my baby so formula is verrrrry distant in my mind at this point]

What really helped me was that the first day back from the hospital, I was freaking out and DH found a lactation consultant in our area who was gracious enough to come by our house and talk with me for probably around 2 hours, encouraging me and showing me how to latch on and such. That was invaluable... if not for the technique then definitely for the confidence boost she gave me to know that I can do it. I still call her from time to time for advice. So I definitely recommend locating a lactation consultant in your area (preferably before the baby is born unlike how we were frantically trying to do everything two days after DS was born!).

The La Leche League has a great website and posts lactation consultant contact information. Also, we found KellyMom to be a great resource those first few days as well. Not to mention the myriad of other places on the web that talk about breastfeeding.

This is shorter post than I'd like it to be and I will definitely modify it later but for now.. BFing is great... no sense in listening to the crazy rants of people bashing it... and help spread the word about BFing to all the mamas-to-be that you know and give 'em support... Twitter has some nice support groups as well #breastfeeding and #bfcafe are the ones I know of...

Feel free to comment on what resources helped you while you were starting out, what resources you still use - i.e. web, twitter, fb, or share your own BFing experience!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Kam Snaps

I have been meaning to make a few diaper covers for DS but he's getting adept at taking his Aplix diapers off and putting snaps on seemed like a difficult feat. But then I heard about Kam Snaps - they have a traditional press which is still pretty pricey although not as much as other places, but they also make pliers that do the same thing and are much less expensive.

Last week I ordered myself the pliers which came with 400 snaps - I chose natural, blue-green, and silver colored and they also came with smaller size 16 white snaps. It took me a week to find time to use it but since two days ago I've been snapping things left and right :)

Now for the diaper cover - I made a template for the snaps and I'm posting it here for people who want to use it instead of using a pen and paper and ruler to make their own... use it freely but please attribute if you plan on posting it elsewhere. :)

I will post a pic of the finished cover whenever I get to finish it.

There are actually two giveaways currently for some GCs to KamSnaps and they can be found on the Makin' It blog and on the Dirty Diaper Laundry blog. Both have great reviews and helpful hints on how to use the pliers and they are so much more accessible than I ever thought!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

First iPhone post-audiobooks

We are on our way to Jersey for vacation and what better time to do some blogging. DS is sleeping like... Well.. A baby. DH is listening to audio books -his new favorite way to entertain himself. And I have a bunch of crafts I can be working on but figured it would be nice to figure our how easy it is to blog on the go. I downloaded bloglite but suspect there are better apps for this. Any suggestions?

Anyway, so audio books are great, hubby has 'read' a dozen by now I think. It's great for when he has to take the baby for a walk. Plus he doesn't like reading so listening to a book is a great way to get him to actually read somethig new! He's tried to get me into it but somehow I hvrnt found too much time. I listened to Malcolm gladwell's "outliers" though in the first 2 months after DS was born and I spent practially all day breastfeeding, great way to pass the time. Plus maybe he learned something :)

Ad for the books themselves, audible is great for getting them, DH got the 24 book subscription and has been wittling away at it for about a month now! It's all he wants for his bday - audible credits hehe

Anyone else been using audible and find that it's great for multitaskig with a baby?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Plum Organics Review and Giveaway

Plum Organics Sampler & Boon Spoon in front of our own plum tree

The Review
When it comes to my son, I only want to feed him the best. I've chosen to breastfeed him for this reason, but now that he is starting solids I want to make sure that what he is eating is not only nutritious but free of chemicals, pesticides, and extra sugars.

This is why I was so excited to review Plus Organics baby food courtesy of Eco-friendly Baby Products - EcoMom. EcoMom is home to lots of healthy and safe baby food and products.

Plum Organics produces USDA certified organic baby food in a wide variety of fruits, veggies and even meats. The ingredients list on all of the foods can't be beat, nothing but organic products and no extra fillers or sugars. It also comes in 100% BPA-free packaging with a recyclable cap that is also child safe with no sharp edges.

The baby food comes in these cute little pouches instead of jars and to feed baby all you need to do is attach a Boon Spoon that comes in a 2-pack on EcoMom's website. I love that it also comes in a nice little carrying case that can easily be clipped onto a diaper bag. This makes feeding your baby on the go a snap (literally)! Plus since the pouches are not rigid, they can fit anywhere in the bag and are not as heavy as glass jars.

When I first received the sampler, I wanted to eat it all myself! The packaging makes it look oh-so-yummy. Plum Organics makes a lot of different products and EcoMom sells Revolution Foods intended for Toddlers as well. Plum and Revolution also make a variety of other products from the High Chair to the Lunch Box.

I was sent the following to try out and review:
pumpkin & banana
spinach, peas, & pears
peach mish mash
strawberry mish mash
apple carrot fiddlesticks
2 boon spoons

So far we have fed DS the pumpkin & banana baby food. His first taste of it was actually in the car as we were on our way back home from grandma's house early (erm 9am) in the morning (2.5 hour drive) and DS was getting a bit restless. So since I had the cool little pouch of Plum Organics with me along with the attachment spoons I just twisted off the cap and twisted on the spoon -- all set to feed baby! The nice thing about it is that it is all self contained so no mess except what misses DS's mouth.

Here's a tip though: Since baby finds the little pouch somewhat entertaining - he'll want to grab it and squeeze which may make for a bit of a mess. I wound up giving DS another spoon to play with while I fed him from this one. Once DS didn't want any more I just twisted the original cap back on and put the whole thing in the cooler for use later (within 24 hours).

So, Plum Organics passes the car test! No spilling of baby food and just the right amount comes out with the attachment Boon spoon.

Since one serving is 4.4oz, DS didn't finish the whole thing in one sitting. When we got home, we warmed up the cooled pouch in a bowl of hot water (DS wasn't too fond of eating it cold but loved it when it was room temp.) And the results can be seen below :) He hadn't had pumpkin yet - don't see too many pumpkins in June in upstate NY... and his first experience of it was pretty good. I tried some too -- yummy, reminded me of the baby food I used to eat :)

We will be giving him the other things to try later on and I will post updates on the rest of the sampler - but for now we are happy with the pumpkin banana and for long car trips like the ones we take several times in the summer to grandma's this is a great and easy way to feed DS.

Very portable
Less mess
Yummy flavors
100% organic
No added preservatives or sugars
BPA free packaging
Boon Spoon is also BPA, phthalate, and PVC free

Costs more than traditional baby food - but see options below for lowering the cost
If using attachment spoon, need to have it on hand - contents can be squeezed out without Boon spoon though
Can't warm pouch in microwave - but can squeeze out the contents into microwave safe bowl

Mama Squirrel says: All in all, great organic baby food for on-the-go and at-home, in lots of yummy flavors! Also, daddy friendly and approved :) DH had no problem doing the feeding.

Buy It - The Coupon Code
All 'Musings of an Organic Mama Squirrel' (MOMS) readers receive 15% off their first order from EcoMom by using the coupon code SBBL441 (expires 6/30/10).

EcoMom also has an awesome new program - the EcoPass. This allows you to purchase a $99 annual membership which provides a 15% discount on every order AND free shipping on every order with no $75 minimum.

The Giveaway
$15 worth of yummy Plum and/or Revolution Foods sponsored by EcoMom!

Mandatory Entry (must be done for others to count)
Follow this blog publicly with Google Friend Connect AND visit the EcoMom website and tell me 3 flavors of Plum or Revolution Foods that you can't wait to try!
(make sure to include your email address with your comment so I can contact you if you win!)

Extra Entries
(1 each unless otherwise noted - please include email/twitter ID/Facebook name as appropriate to verify)

1. Follow EcoMom on Twitter
2. 'Like' EcoMom on Facebook
3. Join EcoMom's newsletter
4. Follow @squirrel083 on Twitter
5. 'Like' Mama Squirrel on Facebook
6. Sign up for MOMS (Musings of an Organic Mama Squirrel) newsletter (on left side of blog)
7. Tweet about the giveaway using @squirrel083, @ecomomceo, and #giveaway tags or use the tweet below:

#win #plumOrganics from @ecomomceo and @squirrel083 #giveaway ends 7/1 PLS RT

Can tweet up to 5X a day with at least an hour between each tweet, and must include link to post.
8. Grab my button and put it on your blog, please leave a link to your blog for verification (5 extra entries, leave a separate comment for each)
9. Blog about this giveaway and leave a link to the blog entry (5 extra entries, leave a separate comment for each)
10. Purchase an EcoPass (10 extra entries, leave a comment for each and mention the email address you used to register for it)

Giveaway is open to residents of US and Canada only. EcoMom will pay for shipping. Giveaway ends on July 1, 2010 at midnight. I will choose a winner using from all the valid comments left here. I will email the winner and they will have 48 hours to respond or I will have to choose another winner.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Nifty Nappy

The WAHM who makes Nifty Nappy diapers is great. She has such a great selection of prints! They are all so adorable. Haven't had a chance to try one yet but would love to, especially some of the wooly wraps. All of DS diapers are single color so would be great to add to his stash a few prints :) He also doesn't have any fitted dipes yet, and I've been thinking of trying some since they are more trim than prefolds in covers.

There's a $35 Nifty Nappy gift certificate Giveaway here along with an awesome video review by Mama B. :)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Little to Big Fitted

So I have been meaning to try a wool diaper cover, and am thinking of sewing my own, but of the ones out there, the Little to Big Wool cover is the one I would get if I were buying. I have also not had a chance to try fitteds and am hearing great things about them so it would be great to try it out. But which fitted to get? Well, Little to Big also makes a fitted diaper and it is cute! It also looks so sooooft!

Dirty Diaper Laundry is having a giveaway of the Little to Big Fitted here.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

vTech MobiGo

So DS looooves to play with my iPhone, and hang up on people when i talk on it... he also loves to imitate DH and me as we type on our keyboards, so perhaps when he's older, he can have one of his own, great learning tool and almost like the big 'kids' (his parents) have.
The Vtech MobiGo seems to be that kind of system --- curious to try it out :)

Mama B is giving a vTech MobiGo away here.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

a new blog is born

I am a 26 year old mommy who also happens to be a graduate student trying to work on her dissertation. My husband, who just received his PhD, and I met in grad school - we happened to have the same advisor in fact.

On this blog I hope to catalog all things related to being a new mom. After 6 months of learning how to take care of my little boy, Noah Samuel, I have some experience that hopefully might help others. My parenting philosophy is that I would like my son to grow up in a safe, healthy, and stimulating environment above all else. To accomplish this, I've breastfed him exclusively and will continue to do so as long as he wants. This hasn't been without pitfalls of course, but that is a post for another day.

As of today, we started cloth diapering! Went an entire day CD him and its worked out so far except for one leak - more washes needed to make the CD more absorbent as its organic cotton. It's been about 3 months since I started looking into CD and finally on April 22 (Earth Day) and Noah's 6 month b-day, I decided to buy a couple diapers to try out. I decided that AI2's would work best for us but time will tell. So I ordered some GroBaby's, a DreamEze, a Flip, and got a BumGenius free since they've got a promotion there now. I also have a bunch of Gerber prefolds that we got when he was just born but I suspect DH won't want to deal with those as he is our main diaper changer. I am considering trying them in the Flip, but don't know if they'll hold up.

Today was also the first day we fed Noah both rice cereal and some apple sauce - yay for trying solids. He likes the cereal, used to it by now, but apples make him make some funny faces :)

Anyway, that's it for now - hoping to include lots more posts - about first few weeks of being a new mom, trying to live a more 'green' lifestyle, and managing school and parenthood. This whole blogging and twitter thing is brand new to me so still trying to figure it all out.