Baby Bee, Mama Bear, Postpartum & Mama Care

Why I Decided to Stop Stressing About My Baby’s (lack of) Sleep Schedule

If I had a penny for every time someone asked me if my baby was sleeping well, I’d be a very wealthy woman. Sleep is perhaps the hottest topic when it comes to babies. Are they sleeping through the night? Do they nap well? Do they go down on their own? From day one, parents are under an enormous amount of pressure to coach their baby into being the perfect sleeper.

I myself fell prey to the constant barrage of questions about Baby Bee’s sleep and lost many nights of sleep over whether or not we were doing it right. I read all the recommended resources about how long your baby should be awake, how long they should sleep at each nap, and how you should be putting them down drowsy but awake. I tried the sleep schedules, tried keeping her up longer, putting her down sooner, but no matter what I did she would typically only nap for 30-60 minutes, tops. I took this as a sign that I was a terrible parent, and so I stressed some more.

And then, one day, I decided to stop stressing about it. After feeling like a failure for so long because my six month old wasn’t “on a schedule” yet and didn’t take long naps during the day, I decided that I didn’t care. At her age, babies should be getting an average of 11-12 hours of sleep at night and another 2-3 during the day. Even with our lack of strict daytime schedule, she is typically asleep for the night by 7:00-8:00pm and up by 6:00-7:00am. Sure, she has 1-3 night wakings depending on growth spurts and teething, and every once in a while she’ll be up for 2 hours in the middle of the night, but for the most part she gets her full 11 hours of sleep each night. And, yes, she still only naps for 30-45 minutes most days, but she does so 3-4 times a day.

What I realized is that it wasn’t that her sleeping pattern wasn’t working for her – it’s that it wasn’t convenient for me. Not being able to plan things out in advance because my baby naps at slightly different times everyday can make seeing friends really tricky. And not having more than 30 minutes to check things off my to-do list or just breathe can be really hard on me sometimes. But that is part of raising an infant – learning that it’s not all about you anymore.

So now we have a daily routine. Although our daily activities may unfold at slightly different times, we do the same things each day and in the same order. This helps her to know when naptime is coming and it helps me to cope with the lack of clock-based schedule. I still get to see friends (it’s just planned within a certain window of time as opposed to specific meeting time) and I still get chores done, with time blocked out for me each day.

Do I still envy moms who know exactly when they’ll be free because their children sleep at the same time everyday? Absolutely. Do I wish my baby would take 2-hour naps on occasion? For sure – I mean the house isn’t going to clean itself. But, when all is said and done, she wakes up happy and full of energy after each nap, and isn’t that really the whole goal behind getting your baby on a strict sleep schedule?

Baby Bee, Cloth Diapers

Cloth Diapers 101: Types of Diapers

Cloth diapers are pretty self-explanatory, right? I mean, they’re just diapers that you wash and reuse instead of tossing in the trash. How complicated could they be? As it turns out, there’s a lot to them, actually! When I decided that I wanted to use cloth diapers for my daughter, I knew literally nothing about them other than the fact that they were more environmentally friendly, less likely to cause diaper rash, and were more cost-effective. Perfect, I thought, let’s buy some cloth diapers!

And then I sat down to choose a few brands to do a test run before investing a lot in any particular one diaper. Boy, are there a lot more options out there than I expected! I was incredibly overwhelmed at first but, once I wrapped my head around all of my choices, I realized how amazing cloth is. There is literally something for everyone! The best way to approach them is to think about how much you want to interact with poop, how much laundry you want to do each week, and how much money you want to invest. So, with that in mind, here is an introduction to the five main types of cloth diapers.

  1. All-in-ones (AIOs) are the least involved cloth diapers out there and function pretty much like a disposable. There is an absorbent, waterproof cover with inserts sewn right in, so all you have to do at diaper-change time is toss the dirty diaper in the bin and put a new one on. This is a great option for people who want to opt for cloth but would like to keep it as simple as possible (read: dads and daycare). The down side is that they’re typically the priciest option, you have more to wash, and they can take longer to dry
  2. Fitteds are similar to AIOs but they lack a waterproof exterior. The diaper looks very similar to a disposable, in that it’s just one piece, but you need to add a cover to prevent moisture from wicking out. So, come diaper-change time, you need to put on the fitted diaper and then top it with a cover to keep the pee in. They tend to be super absorbent and breathable, so are often used as a long-nap or nighttime solution. Overall, not much more work than an AIO, but still one of the more expensive options and results in just as much laundry.
  3. Pockets are exactly what they sound like – a waterproof cover with an inner pocket that you stuff with whichever absorbent inserts you’d like. They work just like AIOs when it comes time to change diapers, but require more effort overall because you have to stuff them with inserts beforehand and often need to “unstuff” them prior to washing them. The upside is that they’re a lot more customizable than AIOs: you can choose the material, thickness, and number of inserts being used in each diaper. This helps to tailor the diaper to each baby’s needs and could potentially save some money, depending on which covers and inserts you opt to use.
  4. All-in-twos (AI2s) are made up of two pieces, a waterproof cover and an absorbent insert that is either placed or snapped on the cover. The great thing about this option is that, unless there is poop involved, diaper changes just involve swapping out the insert and reusing the cover, which significantly cuts down on the cost and amount of laundry involved. You can also customize the material and number of inserts that you use. The downside is that you need to touch the insert to swap it out and then wipe down the cover. This may not be for the squeamish but it can easily be done with a wipe to minimize direct contact.
  5. Prefolds are what most people picture when they think of cloth diapers – a piece of cloth folded in three, wrapped around the baby’s bottom, and secured with snaps. Like the fitted diaper, these aren’t waterproof so they need to be paired with a cover. While this option requires the most skill when it comes to learning the folds, it is also by far the most affordable option, cuts down on laundry, and is great for newborns.

Bonus Option- Hybrids! Hybrids are usually AI2s and involve pairing a reusable waterproof cover with a disposable insert. Many of the inserts are biodegradable, so they can be a great option when you’re traveling and need the convenience of disposables but still want to feel good about what you’re putting on baby’s bottom.

My advice? Before investing in one particular brand of cloth diaper, think long and hard about how involved you want to be with your diapering and how much money you’re willing to spend. Then, narrow it down to a few types of cloth diaper and give them a test run. You might be surprised by your willingness to touch a few pee-soaked inserts if it means you can do less laundry (I know I was!).

Baby Bee, Nursery & Gear

5 Ways to Create a More Eco-Friendly Nursery

I think we can all agree that, second only to getting adorable baby clothes, setting up a nursery is the best part about preparing for a new baby. All those colour choices, baby themes (hello, woodland animals!), and new baby furniture, oh my! As a first-time parent, it’s incredibly easy to get caught up in it all and duped into believing that you need way more than you actually do. When I first started planning for our nursery, I was overwhelmed by all of the options and hefty price tags. But after many months of research and planning, we were able to put together a great nursery that was both affordable and safe for our babe and the environment. The key to our success? Instead of losing sleep over every single item in the nursery, we focused our energy on 5 main areas to help us make sure that we made eco-friendly choices while staying on budget. So, without further ado, here they are…

1. Re-purpose existing furniture

I guarantee you that someone will tell you that you need to get a change table. I can also guarantee you that once your baby is mobile, you will never use that change table again. Instead of buying baby-specific furniture, just take a look around the house and see what you can reuse. We ended up taking an old dresser and attaching a change pad to the top of it. For the time being, it makes a great change station but when she outgrows it we will still be able to use it as a dresser. We also took the bedside table and lamp from the old guest room and now use them next to the rocking chair as a nursing station, which has been a huge help.

2. Invest in sustainable sleep

Babies sleep a lot during the first year of their lives. If you’re going to invest in one or two new items for the nursery, make it the crib and mattress. Thankfully, environmentally-friendly cribs and mattresses are widely available now and at (more) affordable prices too. When buying a crib, look for ones that are made of sustainably-sourced wood and are either untreated or finished with non-toxic, food grade paint. At the low end of the range, Ikea’s Sniglar crib is a good option, made from 100% untreated solid beech and ringing in at just under $100. For our nursery, we ended up choosing the mid-range Jenny Lind crib, which is a bit more stylish, made from sustainably-harvested wood and non-toxic paint, converts into a toddler bed, and is available for around $300. Six months in, I’m still madly in love with it.

Mattresses are a little trickier. There are a LOT of options out there – and even more opinions on which are better for baby and the environment. Really, it comes down to wanting natural materials and as few chemicals as possible. The two main options are natural latex and organic cotton spring mattresses. The first can run a bit expensive here in Canada but Obasan makes a great one, if you can afford it. The second was more realistic for us in terms of cost and is available at just about any baby retailer (aka, you can use all of the gift cards you receive to pay for it!). Naturepedic is the gold standard at $300-400 but you can also get Simmons BeautyRest ones at Toys R Us for as little as $100.

3. Choose non-toxic flooring

Second only to their bed, babies spend the most time cruising around on the floor. While you usually can’t control what your floors themselves are made of, you can choose non-toxic and environmentally friendly floor coverings (think rugs and floor mats). In terms of natural fibers, wool and organic cotton are great choices and are super easy to care for. Under the Nile makes great organic cotton rugs with material leftover from their clothing production (how cool is that?) that cost $50-100 depending on the size. The great thing about opting for a rug over play mat is that you can reuse it in another room of the house once baby has outgrown their nursery.

4. Opt for a low- or zero-VOC paint

This one seems simple but it makes a huge difference. Anyone who’s had to paint during the winter knows first hand that paint fumes are overwhelming and linger for an incredibly long time. We once lived in an apartment that smelled of paint fumes for 5 months. Obviously, that’s not something that you want to expose your newborn baby to. Instead, opt for a low- or zero-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint that will not only be safer for your baby, it will make the whole painting experience much more enjoyable for parents too. My favourite is the Natura line by Benjamin Moore – it has the same great quality and colour selection but with absolutely no emissions. Win!

5. Get baby gear that does the work for you

There will always be some things that you can’t avoid buying. In those cases, just make sure that you opt for smart technology whenever possible to help reduce your environmental impact. In our house, it was a humidifier because the air gets incredibly dry in the winter. After looking at what felt like a hundred different humidifiers, we went with one that has a built-in sensor, so it only turns on when the humidity levels drop below a certain point (which we could set) and ended up saving us both electricity and water.

 

At the end of the day, setting up your baby’s new nursery should be an exciting and joyous activity. Don’t lose sleep over feeling like you need to have the newest and best of everything – just focus on having what works for your family. Limiting what you buy and getting gently used things when you can will save you a lot of money and ensure that you create a space that’s safe for baby. Once you accept that, the whole process becomes a lot less stressful and, hopefully, a whole lot of fun!