Pregnancy and child care

Articles about pregnancy and child care

Night Time Potty Training

Yehoshua on his "Little Potty"

Potty Training! Oh, the fun. ;) I'm certainly not an expert when it comes to potty training, since I've only potty trained one child thus far, but I'd like to share a little tip that helped us with night time potty training.

I didn't have any special deadlines for night time potty training. I have never limited my childrens' water intake at bedtime, simply because water is so beneficial, and I couldn't stand the thought of my child being thirsty at night and unable to get a drink! I would much rather change a wet diaper in the morning than to have my child wake up semi-dehydrated. I know, I know, the "experts" say to limit bedtime fluid intake. I tell my children to take a drink of water before bed. And I often give them sips of water during the night, whenever they wake. Health is always more important than potty training. :)

All that to say that I expected it would take a long time for my two-year-old son to stay dry all night. Others moms who had potty-training experience told me to just keep using diapers (I use cloth, by the way, so he could feel it when he was wet) until he started waking up dry every morning.

Well, the magic "waking up dry" in the morning "happened" a couple times, but after awhile, I realized that the times when my son stayed dry all night were the nights when I had taken him potty at least once during the night. Since I had a new baby at the time, I was up frequently during the night, anyway.

I decided to start taking my son potty every night, whether or not he woke on his own. By this time, he was 32 months old, and had been day-potty-trained for 3 months.

Taking him potty during the night worked! He immediately started staying dry all night every night, by going potty right before bed, at least once (more often if he woke up crying) during the night, and first thing in the morning.

Taking him potty during the night was much nicer than changing a wet diaper in the morning. And after a couple months with NO accidents, we replaced the diaper with underwear at night. That works for me!!

After a couple of wet beds just recently, I started making him wear a diaper again, but he hasn't had any accidents for several weeks now, so we'll see when I feel brave enough to risk the extra laundry! ;)

Disclaimer: I am no expert in this field and cannot make any guarantees that your child will respond to this method of night time potty training. ;)

So disappointed

Jennie left this comment today on the Confirm Clearly post:

My husband just returned from Iraq this past november, & we have been trying to concieve ever since. Imagine my excitement last week when I took a confirm clearly pregnancy test & got a positive result! Just like the original story, told our children, told family, & friends. Only to have the dissapointing news 3 days later that we were indeed not pregnant! I was, & still am devestated! These tests are still on the shelves! This is so heartbreaking!!!!!!!!!!
Jennie Thomas
Ft. Wainwright, Alaska

I'm still getting comments from ladies who received false-positive test results using the Confirm Clearly tests. Comments like Jennie's just break my heart!

False-positives with home pregnancy tests are known to be very rare, only occurring after a miscarriage or due to medication. Women, like myself, are trusting a home pregnancy test, only to be shocked and disappointed to find out it was all a joke.

I haven't felt like even taking a home pregnancy test after our experience back in early November. I guess if we have another baby, I'll find out when I feel it moving. :) I didn't have a miscarriage, because I was never pregnant, but the experience causes lasting emotional scars.

Besides telling everyone I know about these horrible tests, I wonder what I can do? I feel like calling the company again tomorrow and complaining some more... even though they refunded my money. A refund doesn't make up for the devastating news that you were never really pregnant. And these tests are STILL being sold. Grrrr.

Quick and easy pre-folded cloth diapers

Flannel receiving blankets can often be purchased very inexpensively at thrift stores or garage sales. These flannel (100% cotton) receiving blankets make excellent pre-folded cloth diapers, with very little sewing involved.

First, be sure you're watching for a good deal. Ideally, you should be able to find the used blankets for about ten cents each, and never more than fifty cents each.

Be sure you're using 100% cotton blankets. Receiving blankets commonly come in two sizes, a smaller square blanket, and a larger, rectangular blanket.

Here is a pre-folded diaper made from a smaller, square receiving blanket. The diaper is folded in a "z" shape, with three layers in the middle and one layer on each side. Sew in two straight lines, to hold the fabric in place.

The finished diaper can be folded in half (for a newborn) and then used as a pre-folded diaper.

For an older baby, fold down as much as necessary to make the size of pre-folded diaper needed for your child.

Fold sides in...

...and fold front up. There's the diaper, ready to be pinned on the baby!

Here is a diaper made with a larger, rectangular blanket. Depending on the size of the blanket, your diaper will have three layers in the middle and either two or three layers on each side.

Lay your rectangular receiving blanket horizontally. Fold each side inward, basically folding the blanket in thirds. Overlap the two sides, so that there are three layers in the middle. Sew in two straight lines to hold the blanket in place.

To use this pre-folded diaper (it will be a larger one, since it is made from a larger blanket), fold front down according to the size of diaper you need.

Here is the finished pre-folded diaper!

I have made homemade pre-folded diapers from cotton t-shirts, but wasn't pleased with the results. Flannel receiving blankets make excellent diapers, with less sewing involved.

Leave a comment if you have more questions... I'm not sure if this was clear enough but my children just woke from their naps! :)

Edited to add: Here is more detail about folding the larger, rectangular receiving blankets! :)

Start with the blanket horizontally in front of you.

Fold one side in -- probably a little more than half way, but not two-thirds (unless the blanket is very large!).

Fold the other side in the same amount. The idea is to fold the sides in enough so that your diaper will be about 13-14 inches wide -- the width of a standard pre-folded diaper.

This is what your layers will look like. Three layers in the middle, two layers on each side. You'll need to pin this so it doesn't come apart while you sew. You just need to sew two strips down the middle, to hold the layers together.

The finished diaper will be longer than a normal pre-fold from the store. For boys, I folded down the front of the diaper. Now that I'm using these diapers on a girl, I fold down the back so the extra fabric is there. :)

Also, the amount of fabric that gets folded depends on the size of the baby. These diapers are very flexible and can be use for big or small babies!

Some of my receiving blanket diapers were fairly thin (made from smaller square receiving blankets). I sewed two of the homemade pre-folded diapers together to make a thick night-time diaper. This works nicely, though you could get the same effect by just using two thin diapers for night time. (I like them sewed together since it's less work to hang one piece on my clothesline than it is to hang two!)

Someone emailed and asked:

I noticed at the end of your post on making prefolds from flannel receiving blankets you mentioned that you did not particularly like the end result of prefolds made from t-shirts. I had planned on making several using that method (having found that site myself), so I would very much like to know what in particular you did not care for. I was going to start making some of those prefolds today, but I think I'll wait a little, until I hear back from you! Perhaps if it is a matter of the diapers being too stretchy, using an inner layer of knit and an outer layer of flannel would work better? Any insight would be helpful.

Personally, I found that t-shirt material wasn't as absorbent as flannel. I made sure to use 100% cotton t-shirts, and was optimistic, but ended up disappointed.

I thought that cutting the numerous layers and sewing the diapers took a whole lot more time than pinning and sewing a receiving blanket.

I also used pins on mine, and after a while the pins made holes in the outer layers of t-shirt. Not a functional hindrance, but they definitely didn't look as nice as any of my other diapers! :)

If I were to ever use t-shirts for diapers again, I would probably use some flannel along with the t-shirt, at the very least. Even better would be to just use old flannel shirts. I have a couple of diapers made from an old flannel night gown, and they work great!

I'd love to hear from anyone who has actually made t-shirt diapers and thought they worked as well as flannel or Chinese Pre-folded/DSQ pre-folds! :)

Some final thoughts for you:

The Chinese/DSQ pre-folds are relatively inexpensive and are good quality.

Receiving blanket diapers are cheaper for me since I get my receiving blankets for about 10 cents each.

I would buy chinese pre-folds over making diapers from t-shirts. And the cheap flannel at Wal-mart will wear out fairly quickly, whereas the Chinese pre-folds will last a long time.

Making fleece liners for cloth diapers

One of my fleece diaper liners

I know this is primarily a cooking blog, but can we have just one more laundry-related post this week? Thanks. ;)

One of the things I love about cloth diapers is that they're so adaptable. There are about as many ways of storing, folding, covering, soaking, rinsing, washing, and drying cloth diapers as there are cloth-diapered-babies! When I had my first baby, I thought cloth diapering was just done like my mom did it. Browsing websites and reading articles about cloth diapering made me quickly realize that I could tailor the basics to fit our house, my supplies, etc.

Cloth diapering is simple, but it seems my method is constantly changing, depending on the baby, the age of the baby (i.e. food type intake ;D), the time of year (yay for sun!), and even what goodies I can get for free/cheap (yay for baking soda!).

I've tried fleece diaper liners in the past, but didn't think they were worth the extra bother. After all, the more "pieces" I put in a diaper, the more things I have to hang on the clothesline! A couple of my friends had praised fleece liners, particularly for babies who are eating solid foods. The liners are also soft (much softer than line-dried diapers, most days!) and feel "dry" on the baby's bottom.

A few weeks ago, I decided to try fleece liners for Eliyahu. Now, here's where the frugal part comes in. You can make fleece liners from old fleece blankets. No sewing is required; just cut into rectangles. You can make the liners fairly narrow (like the one pictured) or as wide as your diaper.

In my recent de-cluttering efforts, I came across a number of unused fleece baby blankets. Being the type of mom who prefers cotton clothing and blankets for her babies, I had four or five fleece blankets and certainly wouldn't miss a few of them if they got "converted". ;) So, I made diaper liners! It's actually nice to put those blankets to good use. :)

Your questions answered: Frequency of washing cloth diapers

Some of my diapers, drying on the clothesline

Robin wrote to me and asked,

In your post on housekeeping, you mentioned that you do full loads of laundry, and you also said that you wash cloth diapers 2-3 times per week. Do you have full loads of diapers 2-3 times per week, or do you wash small loads? I am new to cloth diapering, and I am unsure what to do. I only have one child in diapers, so if I wait until I have a pretty full load, it will be at least a week, and the diapers will be very smelly. But, I don't like to do too many small loads because of the waste in running the washer for a small load. Can you tell me what you do?

Hi, Robin! Thanks for asking! I do usually have a full load of diapers after 3 days. I'm sure it depends on how frequently the baby/child needs changed, and my boys have always needed changed frequently. :)

When I had two in diapers, I had a completely full load every 2 days. Since we observe a day of rest each week (Sabbath), I washed diapers 4 times a week -- usually including both Thursday and Friday, even though I didn't have a full load on Friday. That way, I didn't have to wash them on Sabbath and I didn't run out of clean diapers.

I don't like to wait longer than 3 days simply because of the smell. Another thing I take into consideration is the weather. I prefer line-drying my diapers since the sun keeps them so fresh. If I have to do a slightly smaller load on one day, because rain is predicted for the next day, I usually go ahead and wash.

I try to conserve water, etc. but I guess using cloth diapers and hanging them out to dry is saving money, even if I have to wash a smaller load every week. I love cloth diapers, anyway, and my youngest gets a rash from disposables, so I guess I don't really have a choice, either. :)

Making homemade baby food

Kristy emailed me and said,

I have so enjoyed your blog in so many different areas! My question is in regards to baby food. Do you feed your boys table food straight from your plate mashed up, or do you make "specific" babyfoods for them? If so, how do you store them and do you have any "babyfood recipes" you can pass on?

I'm also curious as to when you decided to start feeding babyfoods/table foods to your boys. The typical 4-6 months? Do you wait for their cues? What has been your experience in this area?

Hi, Kristy! Thanks for asking! I'm happy to share about our experience and what has worked for us. :) As with anything, I definitely recommend education, research, and taking into consideration the individual needs of your child.

First, since we believe breastfeeding is the best nourishment for infants (the pros of breastfeeding is a whole other post just in itself, so I won't go into detail now), we started both of our children with exclusive breastfeeding. I have gotten along perfectly fine with just the basics -- a couple books, a newborn, and some milk. ;) We haven't really used bottles or pacifiers simply because we have never had the need for them.

Since basically every health organization now recommends waiting at least 6 months before introducing solids, we knew we would wait at least that long. Also, since my husband has a number of allergies/intolerances, we decided it would be best to wait as long as possible for certain foods like cow's milk, peanuts, etc. 

We did plan to watch for cues. Both of my babies started putting things into their mouths or reaching for things long before 6 months of age. Some people say that this is a sign of being ready for solid foods.

However, I don't automatically assume that a curious baby reaching for a plate of food means he's ready to eat it, any more than I would assume that a baby reaching for an electrical outlet is ready to be electrocuted. ;) Personally, I think babies are just plain curious, and they love to explore the world around them! :)

Another thing I take into consideration is my baby's disposition and weight gain. If my baby is napping, sleeping, and nursing well (mine always nursed 2-3 times a night when I was exclusively breastfeeding, since the milk digests so quickly!), and is gaining weight quickly (mine were always fast gainers), I see no reason to hurry on solids.

Breastmilk is the perfect baby food, and I wanted to take full advantage of its benefits! Organic, homemade, and free Laughing

My babies were 11 and 10 months old (respectively) when we first introduced solid foods to them. We started with cooked veggies (from our meal) and mashed them with a fork. Both of ours has at least 8 teeth by that point, anyway. And neither one really acted too thrilled with solid foods at first.

For the first month or two after starting solids, my babies would only eat a small amount (a couple spoonfuls) at each meal. I kept on nursing regularly (about 8 times in a 24-hour period) and eventually they decided to eat more solids and less breastmilk.

My oldest son (now almost 3) self-weaned at 16 months of age. My other son is now 14.5 months old, and still nurses 6-8 times plus eats some of our food at every meal.

I make nursing a priority, but also watch for my baby's needs. If my baby is thriving on just breastmilk, I see no reason to rush solids. They all wean eventually. ;)

When the baby is no longer satisfied with just breastmilk (i.e. is hungry and needs something "more" than before), then he gets to choose how much veggies, fruit, yogurt, etc. he eats at each meal. :)

So no, I really don't have any real baby food recipes. I have, in the past, cooked and then pureed foods like winter squash, pumpkin, and asparagus. I froze them in meal-sized portions, and thawed them for my baby to eat. I did this more so because I had extras of those foods to use (from the garden, or from other people) rather than for convenience.

What's been easiest for me is to just mash some of our veggies at each meal. That way it's fresh, I can eat whatever the baby doesn't want, and I don't have to remember to thaw it. It does kind of stink, having to eat broccoli or peas for a whole week while the baby is first being introduced to the new food, but we survived. ;)

I'm sure some of my readers have some great baby food tips! Do any of you want to share a tip or two for Kristy? :)

Playing with food

My friend Pinja commented on this post,

"I liked this post simply because it got me thinking about the subject of playing with your food. Tammy and Joshua, what are your views on this? Considering children, what is allowed and what is not? When having a dinner together, is it ok for a child to start forming their plate contents into smiley faces or turning their smashed potatoes and gravy into a volcano?"

Pinja, good question! :) We do allow our children to play with their food, to a certain extent. Two-year-olds are naturally very curious, and I just love seeing creativity displayed in everyday doings! :)

To be more specific, I don't allow Yehoshua (almost 3) to make messes with his food. He is a neat eater and knows that the food has to stay in his bowl. He also uses his silverware (actually, he will ask for silverware if I've forgotten, because he doesn't like to eat with his fingers!), stays seated close to the table, and wears a bib (which doesn't get very dirty, and is usually used for several meals in a row).

But, we like to call broccoli "trees", and spaghetti is "worms", and today, when we were making Dreamy Spaghetti for lunch, I taught Yehoshua how to slurp a long spaghetti noodle into his mouth. ;) This was while we were cooking, not at the table eating. You should have heard his giggles! :)

We do practice some manners (right now we're working on "chew with your mouth closed") but we're also willing to have fun.

I'd love to hear input from other moms out there -- what do you allow and NOT allow your children to do with food, or at the table? :)

Protecting crib mattresses

Both of my children still sleep in cribs. When the second crib was given to us (passed down from a friend), our friends had put a piece of cardboard in the bottom to protect the mattress. I wish I had thought of that myself!

Here is the mattress that we bought (brand new) 2 years ago for our oldest child. After 2+ years of use, the metal wires has put indentions in the mattress (thankfully, it hadn't punctured the vinyl) and even some rust streaks.

Step 1: Use a paste of baking soda and water to clean the mattress. Most of it came off for me. Below is the mattress after I washed and scrubbed it.

The mattress, after laying directly on the bottom of the crib (metal)

Step 2: Cut a large piece of cardboard to fit in the bottom of the crib. Here you can see the cardboard. The bed on the left already had cardboard; the bed on the right was the one which needed the mattress cleaned and cardboard put in. 

The card board pieces

Step 3: Get children out of mischief, because by now, they have probably gotten tired of jumping on the mattress and playing with card board scraps. ;)

Eliyahu likes to pull up the vents...

Step 4: Put clean sheets on the mattress and lay it in the crib, on the cardboard. Here are the finished beds! Yay! :) Now I can expect my crib mattress(es) to last a lot longer. :D

The finished beds

For more helpful tips, visit Shannon's blog! :)

Food creations

Our food creations...

Yehoshua and I made these foodie guys a while back. They were fun to make and eat! I should do creative things like this more often with my children. The creature above was supposed to be a bunny. :)

Another food creature :)

Or, if you're a more adventurous type, you may enjoy a goofy face like this!

Getting it all "done"

Recently, Court asked me, "How do you honestly do it all?!" As happens in blog-world from time to time, we read the chronicles of someone's life (the tiny snippet placed in their blog!) and get it into our heads that they are perfect in everything they do, which leads (usually) to either jealousy and dislike, or unbalanced amazement and awe. Tammy and Eliyahu

Crystal at Biblical Womanhood shared this post about "getting things done" (or, not!) and guess what! I've been there too! ;) My face still gets a little red when I get an unexpected guest and have to invite them in to a house littered with toys, laundry, and dirty dishes.

One guest spotted the pan of (cold) pizza left on the kitchen table and said, "Oh! Did I interrupt your meal?"

"Ummm, no. Actually, we ate lunch a few hours ago. I just never got the leftovers put away. Yet..."

But I have stopped apologizing for having a house that looks a little... lived in... when people stop over. Do I try to have a dirty, messy house? No. :)

But I truly hope that none of my readers think that my house is always clean, our meals are always full-blown (ha!), and that I run around "doing it all"!

For starters, go back to this post, and look at the living room photos. Imagine the bottom two bookshelves completely empty, and toys all over the floor. And the cushion on the piano bench lying crumpled on the floor somewhere. That cute little race car rug gets moved and rolled up and played with, too.

Look at the bedroom photos, and forget about the beds being neatly made up. That happens like once a month. (Or, whenever I plan to take photos!) ;) And the cloth diapers that are all folded? Usually they're sitting in a laundry basket on the floor, and they definitely don't get folded before the next use.

Do I want to always have a tidy house? Yes! But I just don't invest the time and effort (all day nagging and fretting) to have a perfect house all the time. I try to keep the house clean, but remember that when Joshua says he could eat off my kitchen floor, that's only because he doesn't know what gets spilled on there. ;)

And as for meals, well, we've had taco salad twice this week, and the only side I served with it was a cooked vegetable. Joshua gets a packed lunch every day, and we usually just have granola for breakfast unless it's a weekend.

Do I try to make nice meals? Yes. I try to make sure we have a source of protein, some carbs, and some veggies at each meal. Do I make elaborate meals every day? No. We eat leftovers sometimes. I honestly can't spend all day cooking. I have gotten faster over the years, and I have my own little shortcuts. I don't spend 2 hours making dinner each day.

When we have guests, I make bigger meals. I make 4-6 different foods (usually) and it's all really nice stuff. This is partly because when we have guests, I'm cooking for 8+ people rather than 2-3. I love cooking and we love having company over. But it can take me the good part of a day to make all the food, and I just can't do that every single day.

I do have two little children, and they do require care. I do spend a good amount of time just doing things like changing diapers, giving baths, and nursing!

But in other ways, I have it really easy. Yehoshua still takes an afternoon nap. Eliyahu naps in the afternoon, too, and I get the option of either working on this website or taking a nap myself! And I know keeping a house clean for a family of 4 is much easier than when there's 6, or 8, or even more!

The children are old enough to play together some now, and they also help with the work. Yehoshua absolutely loves helping with laundry, mopping, or baking. Eliyahu loves doing dishes with me. We try to have a combination of play time (building with blocks, reading stories, playing "monster", etc.) and time spent working together.

Do I always acheive the perfect balance? Definitely not. But we're learning as we go along, what's most important and what works for us. 
 

My husband and children are far more important than a clean house or hot meal. But on the other hand, the house doesn't clean itself, and meals don't just magically come out of my oven!

There has to be a balance of work (to acheive meals, clean clothing, etc.) and time just spent enjoying each other.

 

I'll be the first to admit that I set high goals for myself. I have plans and dreams and ideas, and I never get close to actually doing everything I'd like to do.

While I have mental schedules and plans, I also realise that it's just a guide. I don't feel like I have to get everything done. Things get pushed to the next day or the day after. Believe it or not, a lot of days I don't have a huge long list of must-dos! And at other times in my life (like when I was pregnant or had a newborn baby) I set my "goals" for the day really, really low.*

Here are some of my thoughts on scheduling and getting things "done".

Some things can wait. Vacuuming can usually wait a few extra days, unless there's an urgent mess or guests are coming. Cleaning the bathroom is another thing that can wait sometimes, with no lasting effects. In my mind, dusting the furniture can wait for... a very long time.  Laundry may or may not be one of those things. Dishes, at least for me, usually can't be put off.

Some things shouldn't wait. There are things that take just moments to do, and I try to not let myself put those things off. For example, paying bills, starting dinner, putting away leftovers after a meal, or putting something back after using it. I find it's best to do the little, 5-minute things without delay. Then my mind is free to think about other things.

Here's my other little secret: Work hard. Seriously! When I really get a lot of "things" done, it's almost always because I put a lot of effort into it and didn't work slowly.

Have guides, not rigid schedules, and set boundaries. One if my "boundaries" is concerning my computer time. I only use the computer when the children are napping or asleep for the night. (Now, I just need to do better about getting to bed earlier myself!)

An example of a "guide" rather than a rigid schedule, would be that I try to get Joshua's lunch packed in the morning, any time before noon. I don't pack his lunch every morning from 8-8:30 am. (Some mornings, I'm not even out of bed yet then!) I just fit it into my morning.

Setting a time for some things is great. Most of us do have to live bits of our lives by the clock, like when we need to be somewhere at a certain time. And I've found that leaving only a 30-minute window for meal times is helpful (say, 5:00-5:30 pm for having dinner ready each night), rather than eating dinner at 4:30 pm one evening and 6:45 pm the next, because there's no set time frame.

In the next few days, I plan to share more specific cleaning tips or guidelines I try to go by. I also have photos of my de-cluttered kitchen to share. If you can glean anything helpful from my thoughts and ideas, then yay! But please don't think I "do it all, all the time"... because I don't! :)

*My best advice for having a new baby can be found here. I am not an expert! I only have two children. But with planning (working hard ahead of time!) and support, you can relax more while doing "nothing" (i.e. nursing, changing diapers, nursing, changing diapers, etc...)!

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