Monday, March 11, 2013

Child Development Questionnaire - Teeth

All children develop at a different pace. As a mother you are always left wondering "should I be expecting this to be happening yet?" Unfortunately when you look things up on the web like "when do kids start losing their baby teeth?" you are left with average answers (i.e. around 6 years old). As a scientist this is not totally satisfactory to me because in reports of an average you should always seek to know the standard deviation. In an effort to get at this question, I am hoping to sample the Mamasphere out there and find out what your experience(s) have been with your child(ren) on several child development milestones.
This is completely anonymous and depending on the number of responses I get and how quickly, I will attempt to combine the answers and post results in the near future at Alternatively, if you do want to be notified, please provide your email address at the end of the survey (will only be used once results are compiled and I would NEVER spam you with anything unrelated to this endeavor).
The whole questionnaire will take approximately 5 minutes to complete and please complete a new one for each child. Please also help spread the word and send this to your friends. The more people fill it out the more robust the results will be!
Thank you for your time!
Questionnaire can be found here:

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!