Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Projects and Ideas- milk jug lid upcycle into memory game or pretend coins

Milk jug lids become pretend coins, poker chips or a memory game- practice counting, play memory  or matching games, sort by color or types of stickers (animals, numbers, cars, etc). 
Collect your old difficult-to-recycle milk jug lids and upcycle them!  Using a sturdy pair of scissors or shears, carefully cut off the threaded edges of the lid, leaving the top coin-shaped piece.  Sand the edges to smooth them out, then add stickers, or draw on numbers or letters with a permanent marker.  Watch young children closely as these small pieces present a choking hazard! 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Projects and Ideas- mixing colors with ice

Color Mixing with ice- Fill an old fashioned ice cube tray with water then add 1-2 drops of different colors of food coloring to each cube.  Try to stick to primary colors.  After they freeze, pick two different color ice cubes and put them in a zipper seal bag (tape closed if you have curious children…food coloring will stain).  Let your children push the cubes around inside the bag on the counter, or hold the bag to melt the cubes faster.  Talk about what color combinations result!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Projects and Ideas- kids' grocery list

Grocery list- a great tool to keep toddlers and preschoolers busy while you shop for groceries.  Find a couple of grocery store ads and cut out pictures of the items you purchase most often.  If your child works well with scissors and glue sticks, they can help- they don’t have to be perfect.  Use a glue stick to attach the pictures to both sides of note cards (preferably used ones or some that your child has found and scribbled on almost every single one).  Write the name of the item on the card with each picture.  Use a hole punch to punch holes in the corner of each one and attach them to a sturdy ring.  During your shopping trip, ask your child to find a picture of the next item you will pick up, or find a picture of a vegetable, something green, or something that starts with the letter C, for example.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Projects and Ideas- towel holder using bulk packaging loops

I hate throwing away plastic, especially plastic loops.  Maybe I'm having flasbacks to all those media images from the 80s and 90s showing poor birds and marine animals with soda loops stuck around their necks.  Our local recycling program is very limited, so I've been really trying to reuse as much as I can.  I finally figured out a way to reuse the thick plastic loops that come on the bulk packages I purchase.  Unfortunately this only keeps one out of landfills (unless you give them to all of your friends), but it is a start.  Now the kids can dry their hands and my kitchen towels don't end up on the floor!  Hooray!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Projects and Ideas- NO SEW old cotton t-shirt into a cute toddler skirt

This one speaks for itself...
I really needed to figure out a way to use all the t-shirt tops left over from making my upcycled t-shirt scarves ( and came up with this.  PERFECT for 1-3 year olds in men's sizes large to XXL, but obviously the waist size will vary with the neck size of the shirt.  Be sure to pick one without any logos or writing- they don't turn out as well.  You can easily add elastic to the neck/waist if you want, but you probably won't need it if you put them on over onesies (and then you don't have to worry about diaper covers or bloomers!
Have fun with this one and feel free to send me pics of your creations and variations (  I'm excited to see what people will come up with- bleach prints, tie dye, permanent marker designs- anything is possible!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

TILTHW- thaw breast milk in advance

Things I learned the hard way- Consider taking the frozen breast milk for the next day (or 24 hour period) out of the freezer to thaw in te refrigerator overnight. This can cut thawing/warming time by more than half.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

TILTHW- Save time making bottles ahead of time

Things I learned the hard way- For quicker formula preparation, consider getting extra bottles.  Wash them and let them dry, then portion out the proper amount of formula powder into each one, cap them, and put them in the cupboard.  You can also portion out the right amount of filtered water into clean small water bottles or sealed glass bottles or jars and keep them at room temperature for short periods of time.  When it is feeding time, you just add the room temperature water to the bottle, shake, and you’re ready.  This allows for faster preparation when you have a hungry baby on your hands. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

TILTHW- Tiny Diner Placemat

Things I learned the hard way- Consider purchasing a rubber placemat to keep in the diaper bag for travel or restaurants.  I really like the Kiddopotamus Tiny Diner placemat.  It has suction cups on the bottom which work very well on flat smooth tables.  They aren’t as great on tablecloths or wood grain surfaces, but they don’t have to attach to use the placemat.  It also has a small trough to catch dropped food that is soft and flexible enough to seat your child very close to the table.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

TILTHW- Freezing breastmilk

Things I Learned The Hard Way- If you freeze breastmilk in bags, lay them flat while freezing them.  If you don’t have solid racks in your freezer, just place a small piece of cardboard on the rack and lay the bag on top to freeze.  Flat bags are much easier to store, take up less freezer space, and they freeze and thaw much more quickly, saving valuable time when you have a screaming hungry baby in your arms.  Most standard size breastmilk storage bags fit perfectly inside old plastic CD storage bins in the freezer.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

TILTHW- Don't spill the breastmilk when pouring from the bag

Things I Learned The Hard Way- If you store your breastmilk in bags, pouring them into the bottle at feeding time can sometimes be a hassle.  If the milk is frozen, thaw, then turn the sealed bag upside down and cut off a small corner of the plastic bag.  This allows you to safely pour the milk directly into a bottle without spilling any (even while holding a squirming baby).

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

TILTHW- Get rid of the boxes please!

Things I Learned The Hard Way- I’m not exactly sure what genius decided to package infant rice (and other grain) cereal in boxes, but it was a HORRIBLE idea!  Buy the cereal, open the box then dump it all into an empty formula can or plastic or glass container with a large opening at the top.  Canisters sold as flour or sugar storage containers work well for this as long as they seal well.  Toss a clean dry formula scoop on top (most are 1 tablespoon, but make sure ahead of time) and you can easily portion out cereal by the tablespoon.

Monday, May 7, 2012

TILTHW- Quick rice cereal feedings

Things I Learned The Hard Way- When your child starts eating rice cereal, consider portioning out the rice cereal powder ahead of time into small sealed containers or clean plastic baby food containers.  When feeding time arrives, just add water, formula or breastmilk and you are ready to feed.  If you portion out many containers of cereal all at once, it saves a TREMENDOUS amount of time and they are easier to throw in the diaper bag before you head out the door.  Plus, you can do all the prep work filling the containers while the baby sleeps.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

TILTHW- Minimize Mealtime Messes

Things I Learned The Hard Way- Consider keeping an extra washcloth or small towel near the highchair to immediately clean up spills before the child smears them around.  A small mess can very quickly become a VERY large mess when a 6 month old smears carrots all over the high chair, the cushion, in their hair and ears, etc.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

TILTHW- Save money on nursing pads

Things I Learned The Hard Way- If you plan to nurse, consider buying re-usable cotton nursing pads.  They are also very easy to make your own with layers of terrycloth, microfiber fabric or absorbent fleece sandwiched between outer layers of plain woven cotton.  The disposable type can trap moisture and give many mothers rashes or sensitize the skin, making nursing very uncomfortable.  Cotton pads allow the skin to breathe.  Safety pin the cotton pads together or put them inside a mesh delicates bag before you wash them so you always have a pair, and wash them with your infant’s clothing in a mild detergent (Dreft, All Baby, etc).  Don’t use fabric softener or dryer sheets because they can increase the risk of skin irritation.

Friday, May 4, 2012

TILTHW- Streamline your diaper bag for short trips

Things I Learned The Hard Way- Consider keeping two separate diaper bags; one for short trips (grocery store, etc) and one for longer trips (full afternoon outings, etc).  You won’t have to wrestle with a gigantic bag just to run an errand, or have to repeatedly take out things you don’t need.  It is worth the cost and effort to buy the extra supplies and not have to worry about packing and repacking all the time.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

TILTHW- Quick midnight crib sheet changes

Things I Learned The Hard Way- Layer clean sheets and waterproof pads on the crib mattress for quick sheet changes.  Cover the mattress with a waterproof cover or mattress pad, then put the first clean sheet on.  Cover the first clean sheet with a flat waterproof pad, then another clean sheet.  Follow this with a third waterproof pad and a final top clean sheet.  Zip on the top sheet only if you use quick zip crib sheets or put all the sheets on the mattress like you normally would if you are using regular fitted sheets).  If you baby soils the top clean sheet, you aren’t stuck changing the ENTIRE bed in the middle of the night, just remove the top soiled sheet and waterproof pad, and you've got a clean set underneath.  If you use zip sheets, just zip on the underlying sheet and you’re good to go.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

TILTHW- Stop the stairclimber workout retrieving tossed toys

Things I Learned The Hard Way- If you have open staircase or patio railings, you can purchase plastic or mesh sheets to secure to the railings to prevent your child from sticking arms and legs (or their heads) through, or throwing toys down.  An inexpensive clear shower curtain liner and zip ties work well for this too.  Just thread the sheet through the rails, alternating which rails you go in front or behind, or thread behind every third or fourth rail depending on their distance apart.  Punch holes with a hole punch and slide a zip tie through to secure.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

TILTHW- No more missing parts!

Things I Learned The Hard Way- Purchase a plastic or mesh drain cover for the kitchen sink.  It will prevent endless searching for the tiny plastic spoons, bottle parts or breast pump parts that slip down the drain during washing- especially if you have a garbage disposal!

Monday, April 30, 2012

TILTHW- Quick clean-up

Things I Learned The Hard Way- Consider getting plastic bins, baskets or buckets to use while cleaning.  Keep one with cleaning products (carpet cleaner and a cloth for spit up stains, dust cloth, paper towels, glass cleaner, etc).  Take your cleaning basket and an empty bin or basket with you to the first room, pick up everything that doesn’t belong in that room and put it in the empty basket (some of us need large laundry baskets for this).  Finish cleaning the room, then move to the second room.  Take everything out of the catch-all basket that belongs in room #2 and put it away.  Pick up everything in room #2 that doesn’t belong there and place it in the basket.  Complete cleaning room #2 and move on.  This saves valuable time moving from room to room putting things away.  It is also easy if you get interrupted, to put the baskets up out of your child’s reach or in a closet until you can get back to them.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

TILTHW- Hooray for video monitors!

Things I Learned The Hard Way- Consider purchasing or registering for a video monitor with an intercom from the beginning.  You won’t really need the video or intercom aspect early on, but it becomes very useful if you have a climber (you can figure out how they are getting out of the crib), or when you switch up to a toddler or big kid bed (you can tell them to get back in bed when they try to get up repeatedly).  As your child gets older, you may be able to ask them what they need when they awaken at night saying “mommy, mommy, I need you”.  They may just need to hear the sound of your voice and know that you are close by.  Video monitors are also a great way to just watch your sweet baby sleep peacefully or to figure out just what they are doing in their crib when it sounds like a tumbling routine in their room before they fall asleep.  When you no longer need the monitor in the child’s bedroom, you can move it to their play area to keep tabs on them while you use the bathroom, prepare lunch, or throw in a load of laundry!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

TILTHW- baby monitors

Things I Learned The Hard Way- When you purchase or register for a monitor, consider paying a little more for one with two cordless receivers.  You can keep one in your bedroom after the baby moves to their own room and keep the other wherever you spend most of your time (or carry it with you around the house).  If the one you are carrying runs out of batteries or gets broken, you always have an extra.  If your home has two floors, consider keeping one on each level.  If you have two receivers from the beginning, you won’t risk needing to go out and purchase another later.

Friday, April 27, 2012

TILTHW- No more binky hunting in the dark

Things I Learned The Hard Way- If your child takes a pacifier, consider buying multiple extras to sprinkle around in the crib at night.  This increases the likelihood that your infant will be able to find one if they wake up.  You’d be surprised at how early they can actually find one and get it back in their mouth!  This was suggested to me by a friend who is a Pediatric Sleep Specialist and has been a lifesaver for me.  Worst case scenario- they wake up with a pacifier stuck in their ear!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

TILTHW- Easy crib sheet changes

Things I Learned The Hard Way- Consider purchasing quick zip crib sheets ( ).  They are more expensive than regular crib sheets, but you only need one full mattress wrap and about 2-3 top flat sheets with zippers.  Plus, they are MUCH easier to change, especially if you’ve had a cesarean,  if you plan to get pregnant again before your first child is out of the crib (usually around age 2), when you lower the crib mattress to the lower levels, or if you are less than average height.  You won’t have to lean over the crib rail as much, putting pressure on your abdomen or chest, depending on your height.  Plus, you won’t have to completely or partially remove the crib mattress to change the sheet which is a lifesaver on laundry day or for leaks.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

TILTHW- Lost socks

Things I Learned The Hard Way- Pin socks, mittens, and other small items together with diaper pins or safety pins as soon as you take them off your child.  Tiny socks are easily lost in the wash and you won’t have to sort through an entire load to find a match, or have one get stuck inside a sleeper and get lost.  You can also pin outfits together, but pin them through the tags so you don’t snag the fabric.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

TILTHW- Baby wardrobe

Things I Learned The Hard Way- Buy all clothing in outfits or pair them up and fold or hang them together.  This prevents wasted time sorting through separate stacks of tops and bottoms to find an outfit.  If you don’t, by laundry day, you’ll find you are left with items that don’t match or you’ll have multiple items that you never use.  This works well for toddlers as well.  They can quickly pick out an outfit that matches!

Monday, April 23, 2012

TILTHW- Clothing

Things I Learned The Hard Way- Buy some extra white or solid color long-sleeve onesies to fit your child in the cooler months.  You can layer them under short sleeve shirts, dresses, or other off-season clothes so you can use them in the winter before they grow out of them.  This practice can potentially double your child’s wardrobe or allow you to use clothing handed down from other siblings or relatives that may be off-season for your child’s size during colder months.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

TILTHW- Diaper bags

Things I Learned The Hard Way- Consider purchasing multiple small, inexpensive diaper bags.  You may be able to borrow some, or purchase them used if they are easily cleaned.  The type given away free to new moms when they are discharged from many hospitals (donated by formula companies) are perfect.  On the weekend, pack all of the bags for daycare or the babysitter to last all week.  Include an extra change of clothes, diapers, bottles, bibs, burpcloths, bottled water (if you use it), baby food, snacks, or anything necessary.  Even if you don’t get a chance in the evening to unpack that day’s bag, the next day’s bag will be ready in the morning.