21 July 2012

The War Upon Wakefulness

Some parents are blessed with babies who sleep when they are tired. Others have babies who insist on being awake for everything, despite how tired and cranky they become. We land squarely in the second camp. Odin is a non-sleeper.

At this very moment I am listening to him fuss in his crib over the monitor. It's 7:00am. He's been awake since 5:30. This is typical, and better than a few nights ago, when he decided to start his day at 2:30am.

Daytime is the same. I hear legends of babies who, at 12 weeks, still sleep all the time. Books tell me he should be napping for at least an hour and a half three times a day. People tell me he should be sleeping through the night.

My baby is the type who fights sleep, literally. Just as he's starting to fall asleep he starts kicking and thrashing about, despite being swaddled into a compact little burrito. I take a kind of masochistic pride in the fact that he can escape any swaddle, including the expensive velcro swaddle blankets. I spend countless hours rocking and bouncing and patting his bum. I put him into his crib asleep, ever so gently so as not to wake him. He wakes up 10 minutes later. I put him into his crib awake but drowsy. He immediately starts crying. I let him cry in his crib for a while. He goes into hysterics and will not be consoled. We develop elaborate sleep rituals that work for three days in a row, giving me hope, then fail miserably on the fourth day and we have to start all over again. I have cried on the floor beside his crib. I have told him to shut up, then apologised. I have unapologetically yelled profanities at the monitor. I worry about the development of his brain.

All of this is hard to admit. There is enormous pressure to be the perfect parent with the perfect baby. Well, he is perfect, he just doesn't sleep.

07 July 2012

Handmade Home: Baby Wipes

After seeing how many baby wipes we were going through, I started looking for a better solution. Baby wipes aren't cheap, aren't environmentally friendly, and we go through an awful lot of them.

I looked through a bunch of recipes for homemade wipes and put together my own version with stuff I already had on hand. We've been using them for about two weeks and are loving them so far.

Handmade Baby Wipes
Boiled or distilled water
Pure castile soap (I use Dr. Bronner's)
Baby oil (you could use any non-mineral oil, like almond or vegetable)
Tea tree oil
Cloth wipes
I don't have exact proportions because I just guessed, but it's about teaspoon of soap, half a teaspoon of baby oil, and three drops of tea tree oil to a cup and a half of water. I just put it all in a spray bottle (I got a pretty one from the dollar store) and gave it a good shake. For wipes I just use baby facecloths, since we have a ton of those. You could use cut up pieces of flannel or prefold diapers or receiving blankets that are past their prime. At each diaper change I spray one corner of a wipe three or four times, wipe him down, and dry him with the opposite corner. The soiled wipe goes in the wet bag with dirty diapers, which are washed every two days.

We still have disposable wipes on hand for the diaper bag and for super messy poops, but we've cut down on our use drastically. Plus I feel good about using something natural and super cheap to make.

03 July 2012

Handmade Home: Natural Deodorant

Last year I went on a quest to find a natural deodorant I like. I'd tried the crystal kind years ago and didn't like it and had been using regular commercial deodorant ever since.

I tried all different natural brands and the result was the same with all of them: by three in the afternoon I was stinky. I started to feel sorry for my office mates! I was ready to give up and start smearing chemicals on my underarms every day again when I stumbled across a stupid simple recipe for natural deodorant you can make at home. I was a bit skeptical, but since I had the ingredients on hand anyway, I gave it a shot.

Holy cow!! I love it! I love it so much I made some for everyone for Christmas. It was kind of a weird gift, but my family loved it after they tried it.

Handmade Deodorant Recipe
2 parts coconut oil
1 part aluminum-free baking soda
1 part arrowroot powder (you can also use cornstarch)
essential oil (optional) (I used tea tree oil)
Just blend all the ingredients together and store in a jar. Apply a small amount under your arms.

If you don't like the smell of coconut, use refined coconut oil.
Aluminum-free baking soda is important - It defeats the purpose of making it yourself if you're going to smear aluminum under your arms. The jury is still out on the effects of aluminum in antiperspirants, but I'd rather not take the chance. I get mine at a natural foods store near my house.
I used cornstarch the first time, but had a slight skin reaction, so used arrowroot powder for the second batch.
Tea tree oil is antibacterial and smells great, so that's why I used it, but you can use any oil you like the smell of, or just leave it out.

The best thing is, after using this for a couple of months, I discovered that I didn't even need it every day. The antibacterial properties of the coconut oil and tea tree oil created a less-stinky environment in my armpits! Yay!

So try this stuff. It costs very little to make, lasts forever, and works better (at least for me) than commercial deodorants!

I have one jar in my bedroom and one in my bathroom so it's easily on hand at all times!