Make Your Own Garden-fresh Homemade Baby Food

I love midsummer. Strawberries are ripe and raspberries will be ripe soon. Farmer’s markets are buzzing. This is the time to think about turning some of your harvest into nutritious food for your baby.

I have a few tips if you are about to make your own baby food for the first time.


Homemade Baby Food Tip #1. Baby eats what the family eats.

Food mill for grinding baby foodTo keep things simple, I didn’t generally make separate meals for my baby. I would just take a bit of the vegetable or fruit I served for the rest of the family and cook it longer for the baby until it was soft enough to mash with a fork. This is what my older child called “mushy food.” This works well with carrots, asparagus, squash, potatoes, peas, and, of course, strawberries, raspberries, and other fruits that can be cooked or mashed raw.

For some tougher foods, you may want to use a baby food grinder.


Homemade Baby Food Tip #2. Ice cube trays.

My kids wouldn’t eat enough of the same thing all at once to eat it all fresh. To keep things interesting for my baby, I would freeze what I couldn’t use within a couple of meals. The trick is to use an ice cube tray to freeze the puree. After the puree is frozen, empty the cubes into a freezer container and label it with date and type of food. If you make quite small cubes, you have more flexibility how much you use, so you will waste less. On nights when the family was eating vegetables the baby couldn’t really eat, like salad, I would heat up a couple of different kinds of cubes.

For an even trickier trick with fruit, which I didn’t want to heat up, I used interesting shaped cubes that got my child’s attention. I have stars, fruits, and long sticks. I let them thaw a bit so they would break up easily as my baby sucked on them.


Homemade Baby Food Tip #3. Keep a food journal.

Keep a record of any new foods you introduce to your baby. This is especially important if other family members have food sensitivities. Start with a small amount of any new food, then write it down in the food journal. I kept a small notebook near my spot at the table, so I wouldn’t put off recording foods. Don’t introduce new foods too quickly – no more than one new food every 3-4 days to give yourself a chance to observe any reactions.

The mushy food stage doesn’t last long, and it’s easy to integrate baby’s eating with the rest of the family’s. Good luck turning your harvest into great baby food.

Baby Carrier Is a Travel Essential – Simple Travel with Children

You don’t need a lot of gear to have a great trip with a baby. One essential to make travelling easier is a baby carrier. Many parents put a lot of thought into a stroller but forget about the carrier, which is exactly backward. If I had to choose between them, as I often have, I would choose the baby carrier.


Less bulk

Ergo baby carrier makes travel with baby easierEspecially if you are travelling without a car, it is much easier to move around without a stroller. A customer of ours who goes to Europe a lot mentioned how terrible the cobblestone roads are for a stroller. She was very pleased to have her baby carrier with her. Getting on and off public transit or a subway is a breeze when you have baby secured in a sling. When my first child was born, I travelled by bus and train a lot. It was easy to get up and down stairs without having to lift a stroller. I wasn’t the least bit inconvenienced with my daughter in her baby carrier, and I always knew she was safe and secure. It also helped keep unwanted strangers from touching and poking at her. A carrier is great in crowds!

When I did have a stroller, it was often filled with my carry on luggage, which is quite convenient, so don’t let me convince you not to take a stroller anywhere.


Restricted access

Some places aren’t suitable for strollers, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t suitable for babies. If you are into serious family hiking – the Grand Canyon, for example – you won’t be able to use a stroller. With a baby carrier you won’t be restricted in any way, and you can explore all the areas a destination like this has to offer.


But which baby carrier?

When you consider which baby carrier to take on a trip, decide your highest priority. Do you need to pack light? If so, a sling is very compact compared to a structured baby carrier. Will you be walking or hiking for long periods? If so, a structured baby carrier may offer more support. Match the carrier to the specific needs of your trip.

I never went on a trip with a small child without a baby carrier – usually, in my case, a Maya wrap ring sling. If you need to choose between your baby carrier and a stroller, there is no contest. Take the baby carrier.

Camping with Cloth Diapers – Simple Travel with Children

Of course we camp with cloth diapers! We trust cloth diapers, and we understand how to make them work for us.

There are two kinds of cloth diaper camping trips (or any cloth diaper vacations): short trips when you bring the diapers back home to wash and longer trips when you wash on the road.


Cloth diapers for short camping trips

If you are planning to wash your diapers back home, pack diapers as you would for a day trip only pack more. If you will be away for more than two days, consider washing diapers while you are gone. Dirty diapers that sit longer than a couple of days will smell bad and be much hard to make clean and fresh when you return.

Cloth diapers. Multiple the number of changes in an ordinary day by the number of days you will be gone (no more than three), then add a couple. For example, for a 48-hour, two-night camping trip for a baby who goes through 8 diapers a day, pack 18 diapers (( 2 x 8 ) + 2 ). Use the diapers you would normally use, and don’t forget the covers and wipes. Pack your diapers in a wet bag to keep them from getting dewy and damp.

Wet bag. Next to the cloth diapers, the diaper wet bag is the most important part of your camping cloth diaper system. Make sure the bag does not leak. You know why this is important. That’s two bags: one for clean and one for dirty.

Essential oil. My choice: tea tree. Others may prefer lavender or other oils. Tea tree oil has antibacterial and antiseptic properties, and I like the pleasant aroma.

During the trip, dump the poop where you would dump your own. Squeeze wet diapers, so you carry around as little urine in your wet bag as possible. Doing this will also minimize the smell.

There you go! For a short trip, you take care of the cloth diapers by putting them off for a couple of days. For a longer trip, you will need more preparation.


Cloth diapers for long camping trips

If you will be camping for more than 2 days, you will probably want to wash your cloth diapers on the trail. It wouldn’t take you more than three days of hauling around a heavy bag of urine-soaked diapers to figure out why.

The packing list starts out the same, then includes a few washing essentials.

Cloth diapers. Because you will be washing and drying without the help of highly efficient machines, you may want to choose the simplest diapers you have. My preference is flat or prefold diapers because they are the easiest to clean and the quickest to dry. Though I prefer wool diaper covers in most situations, I would probably choose something less breathable for a child who is going to be sitting heavily in a baby carrier for hours a day. A cover like Bummis Super Whisper Wrap will work nicely then wash easily. Don’t forget the cloth wipes.

Wet bag. Pack two.

Tea tree oil.

Laundry liquid. Be sure to choose a detergent that won’t leave residue on your diapers or in the water. You might even want to choose a simple soap you would use for your own shower. When you wash, scrub the diaper against itself with a little soap, agitate if you have a container to do this, and rinse very well. Do not dump your dirty water into anyone’s water supply. Dump the water out on the ground well away from standing water to avoid contamination.

Clothesline and clothespins. Or not. I tend to drape my clothes over whatever bag, chair, or rope is nearby. If you might be in a hurry, pack a rope. Cloth diapers waving in a breeze will dry much more quickly than those draped over a plastic tent. If you don’t dry your diapers thoroughly, they can get musty smelling and even mildewy. Sun dry your diapers, then roll them gently between your hands to soften.

Even for long trips, the system isn’t much more complicated than for day trips. If you plan ahead, you shouldn’t need to think about diapers any more than you would every day. Just go about the daily task, and enjoy your trip.

Daycation Exploration with Toddlers – Simple Travel with Children

Many families I know are planning daycations and staycations this year, staying at home or close to home during their vacation time. If you have toddlers, how can you make the most of your daycations while keeping in mind that most toddlers have abundant interest in the world but limited attention? Keep day trips simple.

Explore close to home and you avoid several sources of anxiety for yourself and your child. The expense of gas, food, and lodging for you and the discomfort with new surroundings for your toddler.

Explore close to home. Start by going to your local visitors’ information bureau. Even if you think you know all about your local area, you might find out about new events or opportunities near you.

Set a schedule. Will you take a week off and go on day trips every day? Would you rather go every Monday for a month? How will you schedule your daycations? Limit the time and prepare to leave daily cares at home.

Keep a running list of ideas for day trips. Most toddlers are completely willing to be amazed by the world around them. If your child is fascinated by animals, go to the zoo, aviary, farm park or wildlife park. If your child loves plants, go to botanical gardens; if history, go to a living history farm.

If you are looking for a fee-free daycation, consider skipping the organized activities and going hiking or exploring. What is available will vary wildly depending on where you live. I live within a day’s drive of more than a dozen U.S. National Parks and monuments. This year, the National Park Service has scheduled fee-free weekends on July 18-19 and August 15-16. What a great opportunity to explore the world around you without feeling that you need to pack in all in at once to get your money’s worth.

Limit trip length. For most toddlers, four hours of activity will be about as much as they can take before they become too tired to enjoy it. Keep the experience positive, and your child will anticipate the next trip. A lot of trips will probably include a contented nap in the car on the way home.

Limit coverage.
Rather than trying to see the whole park in one day, focus on one area and really watch the animals or other attractions. Talk to your child about what you are both seeing. Engage your child in learning and thinking. Listen so you can follow your child’s own interests rather than trying to fill him up with facts.

Remember this is vacation. Treat this time as you would any vacation. Take photos and video, don’t sneak a peak at your email, and don’t sit around watching television. Focus on your family more than the schedule. Watch your toddler explore the world as she calls out, “Look, Mama!”

Tips for Getting Started Babywearing

You have a lot of choices with modern baby carriers. We have a few tips to get you started wearing your baby.

Baby Hawk mei tai baby carrier with head rest up
Choose the right carrier

Babywearing 101 on Parenting By Nature has a couple of articles that will help you:

  • “How to Choose a Baby Carrier” asks who will wear the baby carrier, how old the baby is, how and where the baby will be worn, what your budget is, and what style appeals to you.
  • Once you start to narrow down your choices, you may want more details. “Baby Carriers Compared” goes through the advantages and disadvantages of baby carriers – baby wraps, baby slings, mei tai baby carriers, and soft pack baby carriers.


Practice

You are learning a new skill. Practice to improve. It isn’t particularly difficult, but you will need to practice if you want putting your baby into a carrier to become second nature. Better yet, have a someone help you to ensure correct positioning and to spot you and baby. Best of all, have an experienced baby wearer teach you how to use your new carrier. The, keep practicing.

Work over a soft surface like a bed or couch.

The closer the baby is to you, the more comfortable she will be. At the beginning, while you are both learning, keep her center of gravity close to yours. Start facing one another rather than with baby on your chest or back facing outward with arms and legs wagging. Learn how to balance with your baby close, then practice a variety of carrying positions.


Keep Baby Happy

Unless you are starting with the tiniest newborn, your baby will wonder about this new experience of being worn. Keep your baby happy while you practice. Start practice after a nap and feeding when your baby is happiest.

Stay calm. A baby will feel the stress of a parent, so remain calm while you figure things out. If it isn’t working this time, come back later.

When you get the baby in the carrier, focus on the baby and celebrate. Use big bouncy movements to get their attention. Tell them, “This is different! This is good.” The big movements and bouncing can calm some babies when they are upset.


Stay Safe

Most important of all is keep your baby safe while you learn to babywearing.

Make sure a newborn’s airway is open, with 1-2 fingers’ width between chin and neck. Don’t let the baby roll up in a ball. Also, keep a newborn’s neck supported.

Put the weight on your low to mid-back rather than up high. Generally, keep the baby about where your bra strap is (or would be!). This lower position is easier on your back than a higher position.

Make sure the carrier supports the baby knee to knee with weight on the thighs, as opposed to hanging with their full weight on their crotch.

Read Babywearing 101 for more babywearing tips.