Reversible Cloth Bags for Play

S. really likes bags. Plastic bags, paper bags, and especially reusable shopping bags. She always wants to put them over her head, put the handles around her neck, and put things in and out of them. I’m not comfortable with her playing with plastic bags, paper bags get destroyed quickly, and reusable shopping bags aren’t always the best either; the handles loop around her neck, the outsides are probably quite dirty, and they are so big that she drags them around and trips on them. So I decided to make her some of her own cloth bags to play with. I have plenty of fabric from this project so I chose a couple of fabrics to make bags. I chose two fabrics for each bag. One bag I used two fabrics that I thought worked well together (the watermelon print and green fabric with white dots) and for the other bag I chose two fabrics that I just thought S. would like (the elephant print and the Russian doll print). I wanted the bags to be reversible so that there was one fabric on the inside and a different fabric on the outside. I will refer to the two different fabrics as fabric #1 and fabric #2. IMG_4820I wanted to make the bags big enough to put a lot of toys in, but not so big that S. couldn’t carry them around. I took a piece of 11″ by 17″ paper to use as a pattern and cut it down to an 11″ by 11″ square so that the bags would be approximately 10″ by 10″ when they were done. I could have cut the pieces with a rotary cutter, but for me it was easier just to use a paper pattern, pin it to the fabric, and cut it out using scissors. For each bag I needed two 11″ by 11″ pieces of each fabric, so four pieces per bag. IMG_4881I also cut two pieces from each fabric that measured 2″ by 11″. These pieces were for the bag handles.IMG_4886I used pinking shears to cut the fabric pieces so the fabric wouldn’t fray; however, it probably would have been fine to just use regular scissors as well. For each bag I ended up with:

  • Two 11″ by 11″ pieces of fabric #1
  • Two 11″ by 11″ pieces of fabric #2
  • Two 2″ by 11″ pieces of fabric #1
  • Two 2″ by 11″ pieces of fabric #2IMG_4890

Next I made the handles. For each handle I took one 2″ by 11″ piece of fabric #1 and one 2″ by 11″ piece of fabric #2 and sewed them right sides together, sewing only down the two long sides. I made two of these (to make two handles) and then turned each handle right side out.  For this entire project I used a 1/4″ seam allowance unless otherwise noted.IMG_4944

Once the handles were done I pinned them onto the right side of one of the 11″ by 17″ pieces. I pinned them 3″ in from the edges (see photo below).  I pinned the handles so that when the bag was done the fabric displayed on each side of the handle would be the opposite of the fabric on that side of the bag. For the bag I made with directional fabric (the elephant and Russian doll prints) I made sure I pinned the handles at the print top of the fabric so that the elephants and dolls wouldn’t be upside down when the bags were done. IMG_4950

Next, I pinned with right sides together: one 11″ by 11″ piece of fabric #1 and one 11″ by 11″ piece of fabric #2. I repeated this with the two remaining pieces of 11″ by 11″ fabric. Again, with directional fabric I made sure the top of the print was on the same side as the handle. Once the pieces were pinned together I marked a 2 inch segment in the center of the bottom of the piece (the side across from the handle) to leave open to turn the pieces inside out.IMG_4951

Once the opening was marked I sewed the two pieces together, sewing all sides except the marked opening. I ran an extra seam across the side with the handles to make sure the handles were firmly secured to the bag.IMG_4952

Once I had sewed both of the 11 inch by 11 inch pieces, I turned them right side out. I now had the two sides of the bag.

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At this point it looks like I have two bags that I sewed closed, but remember, I am making reversible bags so these are the sides of one bag. I wanted one fabric on the inside of the bag and one fabric on the outside of the bag so next, I pinned the two sides together with fabric #1 on the inside and fabric #2 on the outside. I wanted the edges to be as clean and even as possible to I used quite a few pins to keep them “perfectly” aligned while sewing. Also, prior to pinning them I went ahead and ironed them to make sure that the seams lay flat and were straight.IMG_4958

I sewed the two sides and the bottom together. This also sewed closed the 2″ holes on each side that I had left open to turn the sides right side out, I just made sure the fabric around the holes was folded in evenly. Once the sides and bottoms were sewed together the bags were done. I considered this the inside of the bag, but since the bags were made to be reversible, these sides looked finished as well; however you can see the stitching.

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You can see the edges look slightly different when the bags are reversed (see below), that is why I would consider the sides that don’t show the stitching to be the outside of the bags. It is a different look, but I’m not sure I like one better than the other.

IMG_4966When S. woke up from her nap she grabbed one of the bags and took off with it. Of course she wouldn’t stand still long enough for me to take a picture, but I was able to snap one later, right before she ran toward me saying “baby baby baby” because she wanted to see the pictures of her on the camera. IMG_5684

While I made these as play bags for S., I might make some a little bigger at some point and use them as shopping bags since they fold up so small and are also washable, two qualities I miss in a lot of our reusable shopping bags. Also, I think S. might like the bags more if I don’t make them specifically for her; as soon as the bags I made for her entered the toy box they weren’t quite as interesting as all the other bags that I don’t want her to play with.

 

Wet Wednesday: Water Blob

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You may have noticed the “water blob” circulating on Facebook or Pinterest lately. Recently, I have seen quite a few different posts about this giant water bed known as the “water blob” as well as information on a few different ways to make it. Originally I saw posts like this one that just used duct tape and plastic sheeting. The thought of sticky duct tape on plastic in the hot sun wasn’t too appealing to me, but when I saw instructions for the leak proof water blob on homemadetoast I decided to give it a try. You can find the original post from homemadetoast here. The key to making the water blob leak proof is to melt the edges of the plastic together using an iron.

First I gathered my materials. The essentials are plastic, parchment paper, and an iron. I used a 10 foot by 25 foot roll of 3.5 mil painter’s plastic because that is the thickest plastic I could find at Home Depot that was more than 3 feet wide and less than 50 ft long. I would suggest using slightly thicker plastic if possible (it just wasn’t affordable for me in the sizes available), but the 3.5 mil did work. I also purchased some foam stars and flowers from the bargain bins at Michael’s and Target. IMG_5413

At first Matt said “make it as big as possible, use the whole roll of plastic”, but when we unrolled the plastic in the garage we realized that was a little unreasonable/unnecessary. I decided to use a 10 foot by 10 foot piece of the plastic and fold it in half, so the final size of the water blob was 5 feet by 10 feet. We rolled the plastic out, measured, and cut off a 10 foot segment.

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Once I had the plastic laid out in the garage I placed the foam flowers and stars between the two layers of plastic.IMG_5419Next, I tried to make sure that the edges were lined up as best I could before I got set up to iron them together. I cut a piece of parchment paper the length of my ironing board (I have a small table top ironing board so it was probably about a 2 foot long piece of parchment paper) and folded it in half. I drew a line 2.5 inches in from, and parallel to, the folded edge. The instructions on hommadetoast said 2 inches, but I decided to give myself an extra half inch because some of the edges of the plastic were a little ragged and I wanted a good solid 2 inch seam. Finally, I slid the edge of the plastic into the crease in the parchment paper. I started with the 10 foot side and then moved on to the two 5 foot sides.IMG_5424

I put my iron on max and proceeded to iron the seams together, being careful to only iron between the folded crease in the parchment paper and the line 2.5 inches in. I found that pressing firmly in a couple of places first helped to tack everything down and then I proceeded to firmly, but gently, press/iron the whole area. I didn’t have any trouble with the plastic ripping, tearing, or stretching. Here is a picture of what the final 2.5 inch seam looked liked after it was ironed:IMG_5432It is best to let the parchment paper and plastic cool for a few minutes after you iron it so I went ahead and cut another piece of parchment paper to make the process go a little bit faster; while one segment cooled I could go ahead and start another segment. I ironed all three of the open sides to seal the plastic together except for a small 2 inch spot near the corner. I left the 2 inch opening so that I would be able to stick a hose end between the plastic. I think a typical hose end (without a nozzle) is about a 1 inch diameter.IMG_5436

And that was it, the water blob was made. One thing I was concerned about was the plastic being smelly when it melted, but there was no odor at all. I made the water blob one evening after S. went to bed and it took me a little over an hour total to make it. I had to wait a few days to have the time and space to fill it up, see if it leaked, and let S. play on it. When I did, I rolled it out on a flat grassy area and started filling it up with a hose. I ended up propping up the hose end and the corner with the fill hole in it so that the water wouldn’t flow back out; I just used an upside down flower pot to prop it on.

At first it looked like every little bump in the ground was going to affect the water and keep it from filling evenly and that there were going to be tons of air bubbles. However, after a while (and a little bit of work pushing the air bubbles towards the small opening) the water blob started to look much better which is good because I discovered there is no point in trying to move it once there is a descent amount of water in it. Once it was full I used a few pieces of duct tape to cover the hole.IMG_5445

And the water blob was ready for action.IMG_5446You can see I wasn’t able to get all of the air out, but it was a lot worse before I pushed some of the air bubbles to the opening. I thought it was kind of fun pushing the air bubbles around and seeing how they moved, split-up, and came together. S. didn’t really take notice of the air bubbles, but older kids might enjoy playing with them.

Finally (she had been waiting as patiently as a toddler can wait) we let S. hop on. At first she didn’t quite know what to think because she had trouble standing and balancing on it, she looked a little bit like she was surfing.

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But before too long she figured out the water blob was to roll around and play on and she had a great time. She really liked it when we sprayed water on her with the hose and made the water blob a bit more slippery.IMG_5459

We also put a small slide next to the water blob so that S. could slide down and land on top of it, she really enjoyed that too.

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IMG_5529Add a dad to swing you around by your feet and explore the water blob with you and what could be better?

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S. also took a little bit of time to stop and smell the flowers while she played on the water blob.IMG_5518As you can see from the photos above, the water blob held up pretty well with S. playing on it and it supported Matt well too. I didn’t notice any leaks and all the seams stayed well sealed. The duct tape held well too. The only thing I noticed were small marks across the top where the plastic was slightly stretched out. At first I thought the marks were from  S. trying to grab onto the plastic with her hands, but I think it was actually her little heels digging in when she ran across it. This is why I would recommend slightly thicker plastic if possible.IMG_5501

When S. was done I drained the water blob and cut off one of the short sides so that I could turn it inside out and dry it. I knew it would be a while before we used it again and I didn’t want to leave water inside so I decided it would probably be best to just dry it out really well and then reseal one of the sides before we use it next time.

While S. enjoys all water activities, I have to say that, based on her reaction, this was probably her favorite water activity so far. I saw some really great smiles while she was playing on it and heard some little giggles as well. It was also fun to see her work on her balance while standing on it and explore new textures as she poked at the plastic. Overall, this was a really great activity for S. and I think Matt enjoyed it as well. I enjoyed watching them play on it.IMG_5519

Wet Wednesday: Swim Lessons

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Children all over the world swim in lakes, pools, streams, and other bodies of water during hot summer days. Many of them, at least in the developed world, take swim lessons at some point in their life. When I was a kid my mom taught be how to swim for the most part, but I also took swim lessons at the local city pool and at summer camp. We started swim lessons for S. when she was about three months old, she was really little and the only requirement was that she could hold her head up by herself.???????????????????????????????

I didn’t plan on starting so early, but Emler Swim School near us had a program where swim lessons for babies age two to six months were free. So last summer we decided to sign S. up and see how it went. Matt is the swimmer in our family so he did the swim lessons with her and we found that weekend swim lessons were full of dad’s with their little ones. This was kind of nice since S. and I get to go do different things with other moms during the week, but Matt doesn’t usually get to do activities with S. and other dads.

S. really seemed to enjoy her swim lessons last summer and I don’t think she had any meltdowns in the pool (changing her afterwards is another story). This is a grainy iPhone picture, but I think her little expression shows her contentment in the pool.IMG_0335

Perhaps her early swim lessons can also be attributed to her love of water, we will never know for sure. The really nice thing about taking her to a private swim school when she was an infant was that the pool and the air in the pool area were really well heated. In fact, some times I would be hot sitting next to the pool watching her lesson. Just about every other place we have taken her swimming she gets cold and starts to shiver after about 15 or 20 minutes, if not sooner. As far as lessons go, I know she was too young to actually learn how to swim and we could have just taken her swimming somewhere by ourselves to get her comfortable in the water, but the tools the swim school had to help her be comfortable in the pool were really helpful. She especially enjoyed the one that was like a folded in half pool noodle (but sturdier), I think she could have spent a long time floating around in that little thing scooping balls out of the water or just relaxing.IMG_1544They also had little mirrors to encourage the babies to lie on their backs, this is something you could do yourself, but I don’t think I ever would have thought to bring one of S.’s mirror toys to the pool with us.IMG_1553Another tool they had was a big piece of foam that the babies could lie on top of to try to teach them the concept of buoyancy. When S. was closer to five months she was a little scary on top of the floats because she would always want to practice her rolling skills. By six months she was trying to practice crawling on the floats, but at first she had a good time (for the most part) just floating around and having water poured on her.IMG_1556This past Saturday S. started another session of swim lessons.  While I really enjoyed the private swim school, it was just a little bit too expensive for us once S. was too old for the free lessons. So on Saturday we took her to the YMCA. I apologize in advance for the photo quality, I forgot my camera and had to use the iPhone which didn’t take great photos. The YMCA didn’t have as many nifty little teaching tools as the private swim school. They used standard pool noodles to try to teach the little ones”balance” in the water by having them sit lengthwise on the noodle so it would rock them back and forth. I think S. was a little unsure what to think about it. IMG_0713They also worked on getting in to and out of the pool including sitting properly on the edge of the pool before sliding in. I realized it is a really good way to start teaching little ones safety around the pool. When we went swimming the next day S. was practicing getting in and out of the pool (without us initiating it). I definitely will appreciate her learning to sit down before getting in the water and knowing that she can pull herself out (but she still needs a lot of practice).Doc1

I think S. liked her swim lesson at the YMCA at first, but she did start to get cold and she wanted to get to me.

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No mom of the year award here for me, I didn’t even bring my swimsuit because S. is usually so happy in the water and with her dad. I ended up having to leave the pool area so she wouldn’t see me. I don’t think it helped that the night before was the Fourth of July and S. had lost a couple hours of sleep due to all the fireworks being set off in our neighborhood. She was pretty tired.

Another option for swim lessons is the municipal aquatic program. In Austin they have a lot of different swim lessons available at different pools with opportunities for all ages. However, over the summer the lessons are taught in two week sessions and are every week day during those two weeks. I am not sure if that would be too much for S. and I don’t want to feel like I need to take her if she is having an off day or week. Additionally, as I mentioned before, it really is nice for Matt to be able to do the swim lessons with her on the weekends.

Unless S. is really unhappy at swim lessons (which I don’t foresee happening, but you never know with kids), we are going to keep enrolling her in swim lessons at least every summer. I am not a mom who was insistent that her infant to be able to “swim” from only a month or two old (have you seen the videos of those babies?!?). However, I do think that knowing how to swim is not only a fun skill for kids to have, but also an important safety and potentially life saving skill. This is even more apparent to me now seeing how S. is pretty fearless when it comes to water. I understand that she probably won’t actually be able to swim for a while and that swimming isn’t a complete guard against drowning, it is my job to watch her and keep her safe, but I feel like the ability to swim is part of a larger safety net that we can teach her to keep her safe around water. I also hope that it will teach her to enjoy, appreciate, and respect the amazing bodies of water that cover our earth’s surface.

Simple Toddler Skirt

Happy Fourth of July!

IMG_1887Last year this time S. was only 18 weeks old, here is her weekly photo from our first year photo project.WeeklyPhoto18This year I decided to take the fabric that I used as a backdrop last year and make S. a skirt. While I like to sew, I’m not extremely talented or experienced when it comes to sewing and my sewing machine and I don’t always get along. However, I found this tutorial that said it was the “simplest skirt you ever made” so I decided to try it out. It really was simple. Here is how I made the skirt for S., but for really great instructions I encourage you to look at the tutorial, it is on a blog called “MADE” and it has great visuals and instructions.

First, I measured S. as best I could. She wanted to play with the tape measure the whole time I was trying to measure her, it’s amazing how hard simple activities are when there are little toddler hands involved. I measured her waist to be 18 inches and the length from her waist to just above her knees as 7 inches. I wanted the skirt a little ruffley so I went ahead and doubled the waist measurement as suggested by the tutorial. I decided to add 3 inches for the waistband and hem, the tutorial suggested 1.5 inches, but I figured I could always sew a larger hem or cut some off. I’m glad I added the extra 1.5 inches because the skirt actually came out shorter on S. than I anticipated.

The skirt only requires one piece of fabric, I cut mine to measure 36 inches by 10 inches. I used my rotary cutter so that I could get a nice straight cut.IMG_5055

Next, I folded the fabric in half, right sides together, and pinned the 10 inch sides of the fabric together. With the side pinned together, I ran a quick straight stitch down the seam using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.IMG_5060

I don’t have a serger so I just sewed a zigzag stitch down the edge of the seam to keep the fabric from fraying.

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You can see that I tried to keep my stars and stripes lining up correctly, that was really only important with this particular fabric, some fabrics it wouldn’t really matter with. After the seam was sewn it was time to get out the iron. I really don’t like ironing, I wish it wasn’t part of sewing, but I find that there is tons of ironing with every sewing project I take on. First, I folded and ironed the top down 1/2 inch so that the waistband would have a clean edge.IMG_5092

I then folded it again to create the band for the elastic. My elastic was 3/4 of an inch wide so I folded the top down 1 and 1/2 inches to allow myself plenty of room to get the elastic through; I really hate fighting to get elastic through narrow bands.

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I made sure to mark a 2 inch opening so that when I sewed the waistband down I would have a spot to thread the elastic through. I centered the 2 inch opening on the side seam and marked it with two pins. IMG_5100

For the bottom hem, I folded the edge up 1/4 of an inch and ironed it and then folded and ironed it another 1/4 of an inch to hide the raw edge.

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Once the waistband and bottom hem were folded and ironed I sewed them both with a straight stitch. For the waistband I used a 1/4 inch seam allowance and for the bottom hem I used a slightly smaller seam allowance to make sure I wasn’t too close to the upper edge of the hem.IMG_5102

You might notice I also sewed a straight stitch around the top of the waistband as well. This was a suggestion in the MADE tutorial and I think it really added a nice touch and made the waistband look a little bit more finished. Here is a closer look.IMG_5103

The next step was to add the elastic. Since I had measured S.’s waist to be 18 inches I cut a 19 inch piece of elastic (one inch for overlap) and threaded it through the waistband. A great tip on the MADE tutorial was to use a safety pin to thread the elastic through the waistband. I had a diaper pin handy so I used that and it went a lot smoother than I anticipated.IMG_5106Once the elastic was through I crossed it and gave it an inch overlap. I pulled it a little ways out of the skirt on both ends just so that I would have some room to work with when I sewed the two ends together.IMG_5107Then I debated if I should wait for S. to wake up so I could try the skirt on her before I sewed the two ends of the elastic together, but I knew once she woke up I wouldn’t get a lot more done, so I took a gamble and went ahead and sewed the ends together. At this point I found out that my sewing machine and the elastic were not very compatible.IMG_5110The needle kept trying to grab the elastic instead of the bobbin thread and it made quite a mess, but I was able to stitch the two ends of the elastic together. I sewed two zigzag lines to hold the elastic together as suggested in the tutorial, mine weren’t too pretty, but they will get the job done.IMG_5112At this point S. woke up, saw the skirt, and wanted to wear it so I let her try it on before I sewed the waistband closed. I thought I would take a picture of her wearing it, but she kept running to me wanting me to show her the picture of the “baby” on the back of the camera; I don’t know if she really understands that the “baby” on the back is her. This is the best photo I could get.IMG_5126When she took the skirt off I sewed the 2 inch opening on the waistband closed and called the skirt done, it was time to play with S. since all she wanted to do was see what I was doing.IMG_5118However, she did wear the skirt when we were out and about the other day and I was able to get her to pose for a few more photos. In the first photo she is showing off her newly acquired tiptoe skills.tiptoe

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I think the skirt came out pretty good although I was thinking it would be a little longer on her especially in the back. I didn’t really take into account her big diaper butt that makes the back of the skirt stick out a little bit, but it’s still cute. The best part was that I was able to use materials I already had to make the skirt. I think I will try making a few more of these skirts for S, maybe just a little bit longer next time. Maybe I will even try making a double layered skirt for her.

Wet Wednesday: Water Painting

IMG_5309In Austin we pay for garbage disposal based on the size of our trash can. If you have anything that doesn’t fit in your trash can you have to pay per bag. However, a couple of times a year the City does a bulk garbage collection where they pick up (almost) anything that you put out at the curb. There are always people driving around looking for treasures in other people’s trash the week of the City’s bulk collection. We don’t go out looking for treasures, but a couple of weeks ago Matt and S. were out for a walk when everyone had put out their garbage for bulk collection and they found something that I consider a treasure: paper. OK, so you think, what is so special about paper, but this isn’t ordinary paper. They found eight foot wide rolls of thick, colored paper. Matt came home and said he didn’t want to tell me what he found because he knew I would want it, but he told me and then said he would go back with his truck and pick up a roll for me. Then he said he would pick me up two or three rolls and well, I think I ended up with eight, eight foot wide rolls of different color paper. The possibilities of what to do with this paper are endless. I would take a picture of all of it, but Matt already stashed it away in the attic; however, here is a picture of S. hugging one of the rolls.IMG_5279

The other day when I was trying to come up with a new water activity for S., Matt suggested that we let her “paint” on the paper with water. So we gave it a try. First I rolled out the paper on our back patio.IMG_5274I tried to get as much of the paper in the shade as possible, but it was a little late in the day to get a lot of shade on our back patio. Despite the bad lighting, you can get an idea of how big these rolls of paper really are if you look at the paper next to the bottom of the patio door.

After I taped a strip of the paper down, I got out a few things for S. to use to “paint” on the paper: I found a regular paint brush, a small plastic bottle that Matt put a small hole in the cap of, an empty plastic spice container with holes in the cap, and a sponge. I also took out a pitcher of water to refill the bottles so that S. wouldn’t get distracted by the hose.

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Once I got everything set up we showed S. the activity we set up for her. At first she sat on the edge and played with the small bottle and some of the water that came out of it, she was already pretty fascinated with the bottle because she had helped Matt put the hole in the top.IMG_5287Matt tried to show her how to use the wet paint brush on the paper and she curiously watched. I thought that maybe she would get the hang of it when she sat down with the brush.

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But I don’t think she was very satisfied with the amount of water that was associated with the brush. After all, she is a water baby and she likes LOTS of water. So she got her hands on the spice container that had big holes in the top. And it was game over. S. kept dumping the water out on the paper and going back to Matt (who was in charge of the pitcher of water) and asking for more, more, more.

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She also really enjoyed sitting in the small pools of water on the paper and rubbing her hands back and forth really fast, not really splashing, just enjoying the feel of the water on the paper under her hands (or that’s what it looked like at least). In the picture below you can see that her little hands were moving so fast they aren’t even in focus. IMG_5305

Eventually she gave up asking Matt for more water and she just took the whole pitcher and dumped it on the paper. IMG_0684By this point there wasn’t really any dry paper and there definitely wasn’t any “painting” going on. It was basically a soaking wet S. rolling around on a big soggy piece of paper. And of course she was continuously adding more water.IMG_0686

I noticed some of the green dye was starting to come out of the paper onto S.’s hands so I decided that our water painting activity should probably be over. I picked the paper up, let it dry some, and then threw it in the recycle bin. I was feeling like maybe using the paper for this activity was a little wasteful, but we did rescue the whole roll from the trash and the piece that we used went to be recycled instead of in to the garbage. I should add here that while we pay for garbage in Austin, recycling is free. It seemed like S. had a good time too, so I think the wastefulness was worth it just to allow S. to have a new experience.

Perhaps I should have learned my lesson when I tried finger painting with S. (you can see the results of that activity here), that she is still just a little too young to understand the concept of painting. However, as you can see from the very first photo in this post, it was actually possible to “paint” on the paper with water. I think once S. gets over the desire to dump copious amounts of water on everything and understands the concept of painting, it would be a great activity to repeat with her. And while she didn’t catch on to the actual painting part, she really did enjoy dumping the water on the paper so overall I think it was a fun afternoon activity on a hot summer day.

Bed Sharing with a Toddler

I know most people don’t bed share with their little one, but we do. When we brought S. home from the hospital she would wake up and cry if we put her down so at first she slept with us because it was the only way we all got any sleep. It was pure survival mode. It took a little while before she would even sleep next to us, at first she literally had to be in our arms or laying on our chests. Then after about a month she started sleeping in a bassinet. She quickly outgrew the bassinet and moved to her crib which we had side-carred to our bed. Around four and a half months she started teething and then learned to roll in her sleep. The teething made it so she didn’t sleep as well in general and every time she would roll over and hit the side of the crib she would wake up. That was when she moved back in bed with us, and she hasn’t moved out. I love having her close and I love the cuddles, but she sure can move around throughout the night. It is almost comedic how many positions we all end up in so I thought it might make a good cartoon strip:Strip

 

And for those of you who are even slightly interested in what is going on in the image above, here is break down of how our night goes:

I rock S. to sleep around 7:00 PM and by 7:30 PM I have put her down in the middle of our bed. We have our mattress on the floor just in case she would roll out (she never has) and when I leave her I move our pillows to the side to provide a little bit of a buffer. The other side of the bed is against the wall.

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By 8:30  PM S. has usually rolled at least once and is now sprawled face down in the middle of the mattress.
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Typically, around 9:00 PM S. wakes up for the first time and Matt goes in and puts her back to sleep. This frequently results in him putting her on his chest and them both falling asleep (or Matt will watch a movie on the iPad).
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Around 10:00 PM or 10:30 PM I sneak in as ninja-like as possible, hoping that S. is still curled up next to Matt so that I can have a bit of space before she wakes up again and wants to nurse and cuddle with me.
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If I’m lucky, S. is still asleep at 11:30 PM and is still on Matt’s side of the bed. Some nights she scoots up towards his head and throws a limb or two across his face. I find this not only kinda cute, but it’s nice when she is still cuddling with Matt because once she realizes I am in bed she doesn’t really want Matt to cuddle her or comfort her so I am pretty much in charge of S. the rest of the night.
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By 12:30 AM S. has woken up (or at least half woken up), nursed, and fallen back asleep curled up next to me. Matt now is free from baby cuddles and has a bit more space in bed (at least for the time being).

1230

 

Eventually S. rolls over, squirms around, sprawls out, and takes up way more of the bed than should be possible for someone her size. Frequently this forces me towards the foot of the bed; it’s either that or wake her up moving her and I definitely do not want to wake her up since it’s a gamble as to whether she would fall right back asleep or be up for the next hour (or two or three).
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S. usually continues to move around as she goes through sleep cycles and sometimes I get a nice spot next to Matt for at least a little while.
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Around 3:30 AM she nurses again. Yes, S. is pretty attached to night time nursing, but it helps get her nutrition she doesn’t get during the day because she doesn’t always eat a lot. Since S. is in bed with us it doesn’t affect my sleep too much to have her nursing at night so it doesn’t really bother me that she doesn’t sleep through the night yet.
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And then she rolls over and sprawls out again.
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Luckily, the 5:00 AM wake ups are getting less frequent, but for a while S. was waking up between 5:00 and 5:30 and I would put her on my chest in an attempt to get her back to sleep.
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Usually by 6:30 AM  S. is up and ready to go. Matt and I are a little slower to get out of bed, but S. gives kisses freely in the morning which makes waking up surprisingly pleasant since I am really not a morning person.
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Despite how crazy our nights can get with S. in bed with us, it works best for the three of us right now. S. sleeps better when we are next to her and I take comfort in knowing she is so close to me. I think we all enjoy the cuddles too. Can anyone relate to my cartoon strip of our nights or is S. a little crazier at night than your little ones who either bed share or even occasionally end up in bed with you?

 

Disclaimer: I know that the AAP does not recommend sharing a bed with a baby. I do take this recommendation seriously. As I noted, at first S. slept with us because it was the only way for us all to get some sleep; however after quite a bit of research I am comfortable with our decision to bed share. I have researched how to safely share a bed with a baby and I feel like we have set up a sleeping environment that is not only safe, but beneficial for S. I am not recommending or condoning bed sharing, every family needs to make a decision as to what is best for them and their child. Please make sure that whatever you do your little one is in a safe sleeping environment that you and your partner are comfortable with.

How Do You Clean Bath Toys?

If you read my last post about bath toys you know that S. has quite a few bath toys that have holes to allow them to squeak and/or squirt water. One of the draw backs to these toys (as I’m sure most moms are aware) is that you can’t see the inside of them so you don’t know what dirt, grime, or even mold might be hiding in there. So what do you do about this? I’ve heard many different suggestions for ways to clean the inside of the bath toys. I’ve read to boil them, but I’m not sure if that would be a good idea for natural rubber toys, I’m afraid it might damage them or make the rubber start to break down. It might not be good for plastic toys either, I don’t know, although I would think it would be OK for silicone toys since many things like bottle nipples are made out of silicone and you are supposed to boil them to sterilize them. Another suggestion I have read is to wash them with bleach, but I am just not OK washing a toy that S. is going to put in her mouth with bleach. Yet another suggestion is just to plug the hole with something like hot glue. I guess this would be a pretty good way to solve the problem, but it would ruin some of the fun for S. and she would probably be the one who would chew out the plug of glue and eat/swallow it. So I use white vinegar to clean S.’s bath toys. “Distilled white vinegar creates an environment that inhibits the growth of mold, mildew, and some bacteria”1. Hopefully, if I stay on top of cleaning her toys I can keep the mold and mildew at bay. Here is what I do:

First I fill up a bowl with warm water, about two cups of distilled white vinegar, and all of S.’s squeaky/squirty bath toys: vinegar Next, I try to squeeze all the air out of the toys while holding them under water in the vinegar/water solution so that they suck up as much of the solution as possible. I let them soak there for a while, probably about an hour. This time they soaked while we got S. ready for bed and I rocked her to sleep so it was probably a little more than an hour. Once they have soaked for a while I take them out of the solution, rinse them off so they won’t taste like vinegar when S. puts them in her mouth, and then squeeze, squeeze, squeeze them to get them as dry inside as possible. Finally, I set them out on a dish towel to dry (hole down of course) and leave them overnight. drying I don’t have any scientific evidence to prove that this method of cleaning the inside of bath toys is 100% effective, but I feel pretty good about it since I know vinegar is a really good cleaner, matter of fact, it is one of the few cleaning products we even use in our house. I also try to stay on top of squeezing all the water out of her toys after every time she plays with them in water, but sometimes I know she runs off with one (or two) before I get a chance to give them a good squeeze. So, do you worry about what lurks inside your little one’s bath toys? Do you do anything about it? If so, how do you clean them?

1 Real Simple. 66 All-Natural Cleaning Solutions. http://www.realsimple.com/home-organizing/cleaning/all-natural-cleaning-solutions-00000000011547/page7.html. Last accessed 26 June 2014.

Wet Wednesday: Bath Toys and Water Toys

Ever since she first started being able to grasp and hold on to toys, S. has loved little bath toys. She loves them in the bath and out of the bath. Despite S.’s love of the water, for quite a while she was a little finicky about her baths; once she moved out of the baby tub she would only sit in the big tub (happily) if someone was in the tub with her. After months of me taking a bath with her, we discovered that the kitchen sink was easier on everyone and a great place to brush her teeth at night. So S. has been bathing in the kitchen sink for months now. However, the other day she woke up early from a nap and while I was trying to rock her back to sleep there was a major diaper leak that occurred. She was fussy, I was wet, and I decided that we both needed to get clean so I turned on the shower and we both hopped in. In the past, we tried showers and it was kind of a hit or miss with S. Well, she timidly looked at the shower and then decided it was an OK. We rinsed off and then she sat in the tub and played for over an hour. I gave her toys and she flailed around like a little fish. Later we moved all her bath toys out to the water table so she could play with them there. I try hard to buy her bath toys that are non-toxic and safe since I know they always end up in her mouth. I have also recently tried to find her a couple of more interactive toys that will maybe entertain or engage her for a little while as well as grow with her. Here are the bath toys that S. has. Most of them actually live in the toy box since she loves them so much. The names of all the toys in the list below link to Amazon and the prices I have provided are from Amazon, but I’m sure there are other companies that sell them as well and prices may vary. Also, Amazon prices fluctuate quite a bit so you might see prices different from those I have listed.

1. Natural Rubber Duck Toy by Rich Frog ($8.79)

This little duck looks kind of sad to me, but he is very will loved by S. I put one in her stocking for Christmas and I think of all the gifts she received this little duck was her favorite. Unfortunately, a seam across its head split open and the rubber started to crumble. I recently sent it back to the company and they sent me a new one. I hope this one lasts a bit longer because S. really loves it. When the new one came in the mail S. started actually saying the word “duck” rather than just making an odd little quacking sound. The duck floats on its side and not up right, I guess that might bother some people, but it doesn’t really bother me. According to the company website, the little duck is “[m]ade from natural latex, which is naturally phthalate- and BPA-free. Hand-painted using natural-dye paints”. The bottom of the little duck actually says LANCO on it. LANCO is the manufacturer of some of the other natural rubber toys that S. has that I have included below.Duck

2. Natural Rubber Frog, Relaxing Frog, and Fish by LANCO ($10 to $20 each)

These are rather pricey little creatures on Amazon and S. only had the frog, but recently there was a really good deal on BabySTEALS and I was able to get both the fish and relaxing frog (sorry, I can’t find a link for that one on Amazon) for only $8.07 with shipping. S. was quite thrilled with the fish and relaxing frog when they came in the mail and has played with them quite a bit since. The LANCO toys are (according to the company website) made in Spain out of pure natural latex that is organic, biodegradable, and “respects the environment”. They are handmade without the use of machinery. I have found that the natural latex rubber is usually a little softer and easier to squeeze than the traditional plastic bath toys so it has a different feel than most of us are used to with regards to bath toys, but S. really seems to like these toys. All of the LANCO bath toys that S. owns have good color to them and a soft little squeak. On some of them you can tell that they are hand painted because the lines aren’t perfect, but it just gives them a little more character. Like the little rubber duck, the fish floats on its side, but the other two float upright, at least if they are placed that way.

relaxing frog fish frog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I should also note that there are many other natural rubber bath toys made by LANCO so if your little one is especially attached to a certain animal or creature you may be able to find a LANCO toy that they will enjoy. If they weren’t so expensive I would buy S. more of them since she really likes them.

3. Natural Raw Rubber Bath Toy Polly Fish and Fred Frog by Hevea ($11.99 and $13.99)

Yes, more natural rubber bath toys. Hevea makes natural rubber bath toys, teethers, and pacifiers. Their products are 100% natural rubber and most contain no added paints or dyes. The bath toys that I have purchased are (according to their website) “100% natural rubber – sustainably produced, BPA, phthalates and PVC free [with] no added colours or synthetics”. They are a single color, it’s kind of a yellow that is a little on the brown side which I assume is the color of natural rubber after it has been processed. I think these are the most “mom friendly” bath toys since they are so pure and because they don’t have any holes on the bottom which means no chance of mold growing inside. That being said, the lack of color and squeak makes them a little less attractive to S., but she still does play with them. Some Amazon reviewers have complained about the quality, but I personally do not have any complaints about these two little bath toys. I think I would definitely consider this company for pacifiers and teethers as well if I was in the market for them.Hevea

4. Octo Brush by Baby Banana ($7.47)

This little octopus is marketed as a baby toothbrush and teether. I think it should be marketed as a teether and bath toy because it really isn’t a toothbrush at all. S. has never been a big fan of having her teeth brushed and for a while I tried almost every brushing implement I could find. Despite the fact that I would say this octopus was a major fail as a toothbrush, I don’t regret purchasing it. I remember when I first gave S. the octopus; she was eight months old and was cruising around the house in her little walker at the time, as soon as I handed it to her she took off with it and would cry if it fell on the floor or we took it from her. Since then we have used it as a teether and a bath toy. Unlike most of the other bath toys we have it sinks instead of floats, which I like since it makes it a little different. The other day when S. first decided to play in the bath tub it was the only toy I had in reach so she played “bob for the octopus” for quite a while. I tried to look at the Baby Banana company website, but my computer gives me a malware warning; however, according to Amazon, the “The Octo-Brush…is made from the highest quality medical grade silicone, which is…[t]ested and approved safe for lead, phthalates, BPA and other toxins by the CPSIA (Consumer Protection and Safety Information Act). The Octo-Brush is completely non-toxic, non-allergenic and safe enough for newborns.” Octopus

 5. Water Bugs Floating Bath Toys with Net by Boon ($7.99)

This is a cute little water/bath toy. The net is not like a fish or butterfly net, it is much smaller so it really is just a toy, but it is perfect for toddler hands. I tried to show S. how to use the net to scoop things out of the water, but she hasn’t quite grasped the concept yet (she just picks up the little bugs and puts them in the net or throws the whole thing in the water), so I think it will be a good toy for her to grow with. The bugs are nice because they are the perfect size for little hands to hold on to and they float on top of the water “just” like a water strider. It is supposed to be a good toy for motor skill and hand-eye coordination development, but to S. it is just fun. She carries the little bugs around the house, but just like Legos, they aren’t fun to step on. It is plastic, but according to the company website it is is BpA-free, Phthalate-free, and PVC-free so hopefully it is better than some other plastic toys.

bug Net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SNet6. Plui by Moluk ($13.26)

This is a unique little ball to play with in the bath tub. S. is a little too young to really understand how it works, but she is obsessed with balls so I thought it would be another good toy for her to grow into while simply enjoying it as a ball for the time being. You fill the ball with water by submerging it and then when you pick it up water pours out of the holes in the bottom; however, if you put your finger over the hole in the top the water stops coming out, which can be both entertaining and useful. According to the company website, the ball is BPA-free, phthalate-free, and latex-free.

Plui Plui1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And apparently the Plui ball is a good place to rest your head for a few moments if you get a little overwhelmed with all your water toys.Plui2

7. Stacking Cups by Green Sprouts ($7.28)

One of the best investments I have made in toys for S. in terms of toys that she has loved. This set of eight little cups has been a hit since S. could first hold on to toys. She used to love to just hold and chew on the cups, then she would throw them and army crawl around after them as best she could, now she can kind of stack them and loves to put them back in their “nesting” position. The cups all have holes in the bottom which makes them ideal for water play. According to the company website they are BPA /PVC free and are made of polypropylene. Polypropylene is commonly used for food product containers because it isn’t supposed to leach chemicals into food or liquids.Greensproutcup

8. Sand Play Set by Green Toys ($17.49)

What good is water if you don’t have a good bucket to carry it around in? Not necessarily for bath time, but for outdoor water play a good bucket is essential. The one that comes in the Green Toys Sand Play Set is just the right size for S. (OK, maybe a little big, but I don’t think it would be a good bucket if it was any smaller). It is a really sturdy bucket, but not too heavy and has a really nice thick rope handle. I don’t see this bucket breaking any time soon so I’m sure it will last S. quite a while. It comes with a sand castle mold, a shovel, and a little rake. Green Toys uses recycled milk jugs as the main component in their toys and they state on their website that their toys contain “no traceable amounts of Phthalates or BPA… [and are manufactured] without any external coatings, eliminating the fear of lead paint”. They are also manufactured in the USA.Bucket

 

There is one more toy that I have to mention, but I am not going to include it in my “official” list because I don’t really know a lot about it. It is a little traditional rubbery plastic bath toy that we named Freddie the Frog. It was in S.’s Easter basket from her grandmother when she was only a month old and I think it is the first toy that S. formed any kind of attachment too. He now often gets forgotten in the toy box, but he has a good story to go with him. When S. was ten months old we were flying home with her after visiting my family. I let S. hold Freddie in the airport while we were waiting to board and then when we got on the plane I realized that he was no longer with us. It wasn’t a big deal I guess, but it really was her favorite toy at the time. I called the airport hotel front desk where my parents were staying and they gave my parents the message that Freddie the Frog was missing. I was hoping Freddie had just ended up in my mom’s pocket. While we were obliviously flying home, there was a major search being conducted throughout the airport for Freddie. The TSA crew and staff at the Bangor airport helped my parents look everywhere for Freddie (it is a small airport with not too much going on), but Freddie was nowhere to be found. My parents returned to their hotel room, but before they left they got a message that Freddie had been found! The cleaning crew had found Freddie at some unknown location and they had him safe and sound waiting for my parents to pick up. My parents mailed him back to S. and now he floats around with all her other bath toys, but I think Freddie the Frog will be one toy that I will keep in her memory box if he doesn’t get lost again.Freddie

 

After a while of playing with all her water toys and running around the yard while I sprayed her with the hose, S. got a little bored of playing outside with me. She grabbed her net for closer examination and went over to sit at the door, I think she was waiting for her dad to come out and play.SienaSitting

 

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