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Wednesday, January 27, 2016 0 comments

Prepping for Baby #2- Lessons Learned

As the weeks creep closer to the arrival of Baby #2, and it becomes more of a reality that the precarious routine we've settled into as a family of three is about to be thrown on its head, I've actually started to think about what we'll need to keep everyone from baby to big sister, and mama sane.

Some of the items are obvious and simple, while others involve me second guessing everything we did the first time around. Let's be honest, there are also things I don't even remember about the first time around, so I'm reaching way back in my sleep deprived brain to try and make this list .

1) Mama Cloth- Yes, I'm starting with mama on this one. Forget that new screaming infant for a minute. I had no idea what to prepare for after birth last time around. Nobody warned me. Well here I am warning you. I will not endure the surfboard sized disposable pads and itchy disposable underwear again. I even ended up using some of my husband's old boxer shorts after my first delivery because I was out of hospital supplied mesh panties, but not ready to open my own underwear drawer yet.

Pink Lemonade makes a variety of reusable cloth pads in minky, bamboo velour, and cotton velour. They even have a 13 inch postpartum pad that I'm going for along with a few overnights and smaller pads for when things eventually taper off (and I promise they will...eventually).
Pink Lemonade Reusable Cloth Pads - Cotton Velour
Party In My Pants also makes an awesome queen sized option in flannel and cotton although I have no interest in "partying in my pants" at that point in time, the soft material will be very welcome.
Party In My Pants Feminine Pads

2) Nursing Pads- I already started with mama, might as well stick with it right? Again, naive first time mama version of me didn't know what to expect in this category either. I had a pack of disposable nursing pads that a friend had passed on to me, but I also endured several nights of waking up to a wet pool of sour smelling breastmilk on the bed. Reusable nursing pads are so much more absorbent, comfortable, and cost effective. The Nicki's Diapers Stay Dry Nursing Pads are my favorite and come in a set of three pairs.
Nicki's Diapers Stay Dry Nursing Pads - 3 pairs

3) Newborn Cloth Diapers- Like many new cloth families, we didn't get brave with the cloth right away. We waited until the umbilical cord stump fell off and she had grown a bit to dive into the cloth world. Little did we know how addicted we'd be and never want to touch a disposable diaper again.

We're excited to try the Imagine Newborn Stay-Dry All in One since we know the fleece will keep baby feeling dry so that they hopefully sleep a bit longer (please baby sleep!). While we are snap lovers with our older daughter, hook and loop is a perfect option for quick changes with a squirmy newborn.
Imagine Newborn Stay-Dry All in One
The Nicki's Diapers Bamboo newborn diapers are also making heir way into our stash. Bamboo is so absorbent so that when baby starts to sleep a few longer stretches at night, we know they'll keep her dry.

Nicki's Diapers Newborn Bamboo All-in-One - Prints (Snap)
4) Diaper Bag - Yes, we already have one (or thirteen) of these, but two children in cloth diapers means we need more space! I tend to be an over packer, planning for the worst even when we're making a quick trip to the grocery store. 

The Ju-Ju-Be Prepared is the ultimate over packers dream! The inner pockets are even color coded for multiple children, which feeds right into my obsessive organizational needs. I also love that they come in cute prints so that I can pretend I'm a stylish millennial rather than an overtired mama. 
Ju-Ju-Be  Prepared

5) Baby Carrier- Baby carriers are another item that we only came to appreciate a few months after our first was born. There were days when she needed the close touch of mama and the only way anyone else in the house was going to eat dinner was if I was wearing her. With baby #2 on the way, we know that walks for a while will consist of wearing one child while the other is in the stroller and many play dates with our firstborn will include the newborn snuggled on my chest. 

For the tiniest of babies, a wrap is the perfect option for keeping baby securely snuggled in so you can be hands free. The Boba wrap is a great example of this since its designed for babies 7-35 pounds and there are no buckles, straps, or buttons to mess with. The learning curve of tying it on is easy and you'll become a pro quickly. 
Boba Baby Wrap Carrier

Once the baby is a little older and has a little more head control, a soft structured carrier is perfect for baby wearing. Most options like the Tula or Lillebaby can be used for both front and back carry. Some brands also have an infant insert so you can start using them even younger. They distribute the weight evenly over the parents shoulders and hips enabling you to wear them for long periods of time with no discomfort. 

LilleBaby Carriers 

6) Bamboo Swaddling Blanket- Yes, we already have lots of blankets and could probably get away without a new one. But have you felt these?! They've all already been claimed in our house because they are so soft and snuggly. Just like I think every new baby deserves a special coming home outfit, Imagine Bamboo Swaddling blankets have been added to my list of new baby must haves. They are light, breathable, adorable, and did I mention soft? Whether you use it to actually swaddle baby or not, cuddling with this blanket will keep everyone happy.

Imagine Bamboo Swaddling Blanket
7) Cozy Plush- Remember, I still have an older child that needs love and attention during the transition, so this one is for her. I now cringe when I think of the times I went to friend's houses to visit a new baby, gift in hand for the new little, completely forgetting the older child. A cozy plush is a stuffed animal that can be warmed up in the microwave for extra comfort on these cold winter nights and smells like soothing lavender. We plan on giving this as a gift from our new baby to our older one when she comes to the hospital to meet her. 
Cozy Plush Animals

What else am I forgetting? I'm sure there's plenty that I've forgotten about those first few sleep deprived weeks and many of you have already gone through this transition. Help a mama out and leave us a comment with your tips and advice!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016 0 comments

Traveling with Cloth Diapers

The Incident: Lesson learned, stick with the cloth you love!

When my daughter was just a few months old, she joined us on her first airplane ride. We were first time parents and cloth newbies, and the thought of traveling with cloth just seemed scary. Where would we put the dirty diapers,  how many would we need, what about our cloth wipes? It was just all too much for me.

We decided to go the disposable route, bought a pack from the overwhelming aisle at the store, and didn't think about it again. Until, the incident. I can laugh about it now, I really can. However, flying for the first time with a new baby, long delays, and a lack of sleep insured that I did not laugh about it when it happened.

Our first flight went fine and our baby was a magical sleeper, we didn't think traveling with a baby was so bad. Then our second flight got delayed, and delayed, and delayed. The baby got crankier as time went on and at one point I casually mentioned to my husband that I didn't think she'd pooped yet that day. He shot me a death glare and insisted I not bring it up again, didn't want to jinx things.

We finally took off and our daughter fell asleep snuggled into my arms, enjoying the vibrations of the plane. About half way through she opened her eyes, looked up smiled at me, and let the explosion happen. The result was something that had never before (and has never since) happened when we had her in cloth. Her clothes, my shirt, and my jeans were covered in a putrid brown mess. Everyone around us had their faces scrunched inside their shirts while shooting us death glares. While I had planned ahead and packed her an extra outfit in the diaper bag, I didn't have anything for myself. A flight attendant actually offered to give me a t shirt out of her own luggage, that's how bad the incident was.

We have taken several flights since then, and have never considered anything but cloth. Simply put, we have so much faith in cloth that we aren't going to tempt the blowout gods again. We've learned a few lessons along the way that have made traveling with cloth easier to plan for.

Laundry: What type of laundry facilities will you have access to?

If you're visiting family or friends that have a washer, chat with them ahead of time to make sure they are comfortable with you using it to wash your cloth (and educate them on cloth if they are new to the idea!). One important item to remember is either bring or purchase cloth diaper safe detergent on your trip.

If you won't have regular access to washing facilities, you have a few other options. Some parents prefer to wash in the sink and hang diapers to dry in the bathroom. Flats work well for this since they are easy to pack and easy to wash.

If hand washing isn't something you're interested in, you could consider disposable inserts with covers. They are a much more eco and chemical friendly option than disposables. One option are Grovia BioSoaker Pads, which are fragrance, dye, plastic, and chlorine free. They are also biodegradable and compostable. Flip Disposable Inserts are another option for laying inside covers and they fold down to adjust for size.
GroVia BioSoakers

Diaper Storage: How do you plan on storing your soiled diapers and for how long?

Planet Wise Wet Bag
Depending on how long you will be traveling for and how long you will go between washes, you will want a quality wet bag to store soiled diapers in. A large wet bag easily holds more than a day's worth of diapers for our daughter and we choose to wash more often while traveling. The wet bag can be washed right in the washer with the diapers.

How many diapers to take?  How are you traveling and how often will you wash?

If you are traveling by airplane, calculate how many diapers you'd normally use during that time period and double it to account for delays. If things get real crazy and you're stuck for significantly longer, the ticket counters often have diapers they will provide you with.

Determine how often you will wash your diapers while traveling to determine how to pack. If you are low on space, consider washing every day or every other to save space when packing.

Wipes: Cloth or disposable?

Cloth wipes are easy to travel with as well! Wet them ahead of time with your favorite cloth wipe solution or water and store them in a Planet Wise wipe pouch in your diaper bag. Throw them in a wet bag with your diapers and wash like normal.

Planet Wise Wipe Pouch
If you'd prefer disposable wipes, here's another pro tip for your in case a trash can isn't handy. You can throw those in your wet bag as well and just wash them with your diapers. They don't fall apart in the washer or dryer and you can just throw them away after you're done.

Who else has traveled with a baby in cloth? Any other tips you'd share with others to help make their trip easier?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016 0 comments

Our Favorite Cloth Diaper Accessories!

Part of the joy of cloth diapering is how simple and easy they are to use. Once you have a solid wash routine down and have learned the fastest way to get your favorite brand on a rolling, wriggling, tiny human, you are good to go.

However, as many parents have learned over time, there are some great cloth diaper accessories out there that can make your cloth diaper experience even easier. With input from many moms, we’ve put together Nicki’s Diaper's list of favorite cloth diaper accessories. These are the items that the Nicki’s Diapers moms are ordering for their littles on a regular basis and loving!
Spray Pal Diaper SprayerSpray Pal Splatter Shield - New Design!

Newborn poop is wonderful! (Who thought you’d hear that?!) The waste from an exclusively breastfed baby doesn’t need to be removed before washing. Just change the diaper and throw the diaper in the diaper bag until wash day, no extra work required.
And then you start solids….oh my! The new colors and textures are a whole new experience and must be removed before washing. You could try the dunk and swish method, but who likes to experience that? A Spray Pal diaper sprayer easily attaches to your toilet for a no-touch solution to poop removal. Pair it with the Spray Pal Spray Shield, and you avoid any excess water or waste making its way out of the toilet. So simple and easy to use!

Imagine Biodegradable Liners

Another option to avoid the poop dilemma once your baby is on solids. Just lay the liner inside the diaper. Once soiled, shake the diaper contents, Imagine Liner and all, right into the toilet. No dunk and swish needed.

You’re already washing your cloth diapers, there’s no reason not to use cloth wipes as well. Unlike commercial wipes, they are chemical free and so soft on baby’s bottom. The cute prints and super gentle flannel of the Nicki’s Diapers Flannel Wipes can be paired with your favorite wipe solution to save you money and give you a safe and chemical free wipe option.

LuSa Organics Diaper Wipe Concentrate

Speaking of cloth wipes, why not use a wipe solution that will not only clean baby, but also has healing powers as well! The LuSa wipe concentrate is easy to prepare ahead of time by mixing with water and contains a soothing mix of oils, aloe vera juice, and witch hazel combined with essential oils. No chemicals and free of synthetic scents.

Planet Wise Wet Bags

While these are definitely one of our favorite cloth diaper accessories, they have so many other uses around the house as well! We love that they come in three sizes so we can choose which one to use based on our day, and the wet-dry option is perfect for keeping things organized in the diaper bag. Try keeping your wipes and diaper cream in the dry section for easy access and dirty diapers contained in the wet section. We’ve also been known to use these for beach trips, Spray Pal storage, and keeping our mama cloth organized.

GroVia Mighty Bubbles Laundry Treatment

While a good wash routine will keep your cloth diapers clean and stain free, sometimes your diapers could use a little boost. Grovia Mighty Bubbles removes any buildup in your diapers including urine or detergent and it's just so easy to use. Just throw one pod in the washer with your diapers and it dissolves completely and works it’s cloth diaper cleaning magic.

Snappi Diaper Fastener

Let’s face it, nobody wants to use diapers pins on their baby anymore! Don’t worry, the Snappi Diaper Fasteners are our favorite easy solution for securing flats, prefolds, and fitteds. The grip hook teeth take no time at all to hook onto the diaper and are reliable for even the wiggliest littles. They take just three steps to secure and we love that they come in a toddler size too, giving you extra stretch as baby grows.

Nicki's Diapers Bamboo Doubler

Wouldn’t it be great if none of our babies were heavy wetters? The reality is that whether you have a heavy wetter or not, there are times where you want a little extra protection from leaks. For us, that’s the grocery run that is never actually fast or the long car ride to Grandma’s house. Why do we love Nicki’s Bamboo Doublers for this? They come in two sizes, are made from a combination of bamboo and organic cotton, can be used in any diaper type you can imagine, and are oh so absorbent!

CJ's BUTTer Shea Butter Balm - 2 oz Jar
You feel terrible when your baby ends up with an angry, red, bum, but you need to make sure to protect your diapers at the same time. One of our favorite cloth friendly diaper creams is CJ’s BUTTer. Our moms have used the healing solution for diaper rash, eczema, dry skin, wind burn, and even stretch marks! The shea butter is so smooth, soothing, and gentle enough for even sensitive babies.

I have to admit, there was a quick discussion about whether these were a cloth diaper accessory or not, but everyone quickly agreed that these cute leggings are definitely one of our favorite accessories to pair with cloth diapers! Think about it, you have a new baby and you’re learning the ins and outs of cloth diapering. Babies poop, a lot! With all of those diaper changes you could be pulling pants on and off, or you could try Imagine Baby Leggings. They’re so cute, keep baby’s legs warm, protect from scraped knees once they’re on the move, and make diaper changes so easy. If you live in a colder area, they are great to layer under pants in the winter to make sure baby’s legs stay warm and protected while you’re holding or wearing them.

Do you have other favorite cloth diapers accessories that we didn't mention? Send us a comment and let us know!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016 0 comments

A Working Mom's Guide to Pumping

Establishing a breastfeeding relationship with your infant can often be more challenging and time consuming than you imagined. When Baby Z was born, I had visions of blissful breastfeeding in the glider in her nursery before she slept peacefully in her crib. You can stop laughing now.

Even with loads of support from her pediatrician and local lactation consultants to help with any issues I had establishing breastfeeding, it took more like months than weeks to really feel like baby and I were in the breastfeeding groove. And then, it was time for me to return to work. I had so many questions about if and how our breastfeeding relationship would change, how I would balance pumping with my regular work duties, and all of the details that come with planning to pump at work. It seems that just when we got things on the right track, everything was about to change again.

As it turns out, while you will never hear me say that pumping at work was "fun" or "enjoyable", it was easier than I had made it out to be in head once I knew the right questions to ask and how to set up a routine that worked for me. Here are a few tips to help you get off on the right foot if you are planning to return to work and pump after baby.

1. Find a pump you love and test it out.

Most health insurance companies are now required to provide a breast pump to new mothers, however, the type and quality of those pumps varies. Check with your health insurance company first to see what they provide and try that out. You will have the most success with a hospital grade pump (but these can often be pricey) and a double pump will save you time so you may want to shop around for a pump if the one provided isn't working well for you.

Try it out. Don't be upset if you are only pumping small amounts to start with. It takes time and trial and error to develop a good pumping system that gets you the best output. Many pumps either come with a variety of breast shield sizes or have them available for purchase. Use their recommendations to find the ones that have the best fit and comfort for you. I even had to adjust which size I was using after a few months when my daughter's breastfeeding needs started to slow down and. Adjust the speed and strength of the pump until you find your ideal. Do all of these things before you return to work so that you are ready to be successful from day one.

2. Have an open conversation with your employer.

Most employers are covered by state and federal laws requiring a reasonable amount of break time and space to express milk as frequently as needed by the nursing mother. Find out what the laws are in your state and whether or not you will be paid for this time (which is not a requirement of the law).

  • Where will you pump? Having a location where you feel safe and comfortable pumping will make the process much easier. If you have your own office you may be able to pump there with a sign on your door. However, for the many ladies for which that isn't an option, you'll need to determine a location that works for you and your employer. Can you borrow an empty office or room during that time? Is there a designated lactation location in your office? The federal statute requiring most employers to allow time and space for pumping specifically states that the location cannot be a bathroom, so we ready to discuss that with your employer if needed. Think about what you will need in that space to be successful at pumping. This often includes an electrical outlet for your pump, a (hopefully comfortable!) chair for you to sit in, a table for your pump and supplies, and nearby access to a sink to clean your pumping parts afterwards.

  • When will you pump? As a rule of thumb, you will need to pump as often as your baby nurses. When I first returned that was every 2-3 hours, but baby continually stretched that out as she got older and I was able to adjust and drop pumping sessions accordingly. This meant scheduling a mid-morning and afternoon session into my daily work plan, and pumping during my lunch as well. Discuss this with your employer so you can plan ahead for these sessions, especially if someone else will need to cover your duties during this time. Pumping both breasts at the same time is more time efficient and you can plan around 30 minutes for the pumping process each session.

  • Where will you store your breast milk? The ideal location for storing your breast milk is in a refrigerator, but if that isn't possible, you can also use pre-frozen ice packs to keep it cold for a period of time. You can store the milk itself in sterile plastic bags, or plastic or glass bottles, all which can easily be purchased.  I stored it in our office refrigerator, in a discreet bag, but almost cried on day when someone had taken my bag out (presumably to make room or rearrange things) and not put it back. Since I didn't know how long it had been out, I didn't feel comfortable saving it. Luckily that was only a one-time event, and I learned to think about where I put the bag after that.

3. Develop a pumping routine that is comfortable for you.

You will pump more milk when you feel relaxed and comfortable in your pumping situation. Not always easy to do at work right? Many women find that their output increases when they focus on their baby by looking at pictures or videos of them. In my case, answering emails and getting other computer tasks done while I was pumping helped me because I wasn't focused on pumping itself and how much I was producing.

In my case, to be able to work on my computer while I pumped I needed my hands free. Having the right nursing bra and tank top under my shirts made that easy and simple. I also occasionally pumped on my way to or home from work in my car depending on my schedule. I needed the right pumping accessories to make that work, like a car adapter for my pump and my nursing cover that I used over myself while driving. Determine what accessories will make your pumping routine simpler and less stressful for you and your pumping sessions will be more successful.

If you’re struggling with pumping, contact resources that can help you with advice and tips. Many lactation consultants can sit with you while you pump and help you establish whether your fit and routine are the best for you. Start by contacting your health care provider for resources or contact your local La Leche League. 

Regardless of how much planning ahead you do, returning to work and pumping will take some time to adjust to. Establish a network of friends, coworkers, and family who can help support you during this time to help ease the transition and don’t forget to be proud of the great start your are giving your baby by continuing to provide them with breast milk during this time!