More Good Stuff

So after yesterday’s nutrition rant, I’m sure people wonder what I feed my kid. The answer is “pretty much the same thing I eat.” I know, crazy, huh? Here are some specific products that I can get behind:

Clif Kids Z Bars

Do not let the name fool you. These are yum and adults like them too. Think softer and slightly smaller version of the adult favorite. These are made with all-natural and organic ingredients, about 110 calories each. Just enough for a quick afternoon pick-me-up. Secret: My son refers to these as “cookies.” He has one of these with milk for a snack, and he doesn’t call them that because I use some sort of trickery. The chocolate chip flavor actually tastes remarkably similar to a chocolate chip cookie. We have yet to try a flavor we didn’t like, but the Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter, and S’mores flavors are our household favorites. Their Clif Kids line also carries organic fruit sticks, which contain absolutely no added sugar! Big fans!

See http://www.clifbar.com/food/products_clif_kid_zbar/

Just Tomatoes Dried Fruits & Veggies

Fruit cocktail… bit messy for most toddlers, not always practical to pack in the diaper bag. Enter Just Tomatoes Fruit Munchies. A mixture of dried blueberries, raspberries, apples, and other fruits, Jibbers LOVES these. All fruit, no preservatives, no sugar… literally just dried fruit. This is the case with all of their products, hence the name, Just Tomatoes. Jibs is also particularly fond of the Just Peas. Everything has a nice crunch to it, so I  pack these as a side with his lunches in place of chips. Easy way to get your “5 a Day.”

Funny thing, you never know what kids will like… Jibs will not eat fresh bananas, but he will eat them dried!?! I discovered this when we tried out the strawberry and banana mixture. We also received some of their powdered strawberries, and it is delicious when added to anything from smoothies, to agave nectar (for strawberry syrup on pancakes!), to a topping for frozen yogurt!

See their website http://www.justtomatoes.com/jtstore/pc/home.asp to find out more about all of their products!

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Nutrition Rant

Yes, it’s true… I work in a gym, I am constantly asked for recommendations on food choices and options. Pretty much every time I see each of my clients, I ask them what they’ve been eating– that day, that week, in general. Many of these people also have children, whom they bring with them to the gym daycare. Although I generally hear reports of how “good” they’ve been, it never ceases to amaze me when I find their child was left with snacks of Pop Tarts and Pringles for their 1 hour stay at the gym. WHAT?

“But that’s all they’ll eat.” “They don’t have a weight problem; they can eat whatever they like and not gain any weight.” Okay, so… this is troubling to me on two different levels.

#1. They are keeping this food in the house in general. Remove temptation and results follow. Unless you have some crazy willpower, practicalmomma is willing to bet that like most Americans, you have been trained from childhood that to throw food away is wasteful. So what do you do with those “last few bites” of whatever? Yeah, you eat it, rather than throw it out. 40 calories here, 50 there, 25 there… they add up.

#2. What kind of example are they/you setting? At the risk of sounding like a broken record, habits are learned and formed very early. Notice the rising obesity and diabetes epidemic amongst the under-20 set? Not a coincidence. The patterns children develop in their youth eventually catch up to them. Teaching children about nutrition early is key for them to succeed as healthy adults.

Set the example! Physical activity and healthy eating are important for everyone, not just growing infants and toddlers, women on diets, and bodybuilders in the gym– EVERYONE! Healthy body = healthy mind. If your body is not functioning at its optimal level, what are you missing out on? What might your kids be missing out on?

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New Cloth Awesome-ness: Twinkletoes AI2s!

So I think it’s pretty firmly established that as far as cloth diapers go, I’m an AI2 gal. I’ve tried out most of the major brands and recently started branching out to WAHM brands available on Etsy and Hyena Cart. Based on cost, prints, and reviews, I opted to try a Twinkletoes AI2 Starter Package: 3 covers, with 6 snapping daytime inserts.

Feel & Construction: *****

Cottony outer with interior PUL lining in tons of really great prints. Very flexible, with double waist snaps, snap-down rise, and crossover snap tab. The snaps are really heavy-duty and diaper is well-sewn. The inserts are amazingly soft and the Zorb bottom is quilted. I actually hope the snaps loosen up just a bit with repeated use because they stay snapped so tightly.

Sizing & Fit: *****

There are plenty of snaps on this diaper to get a great fit, yet they are stretchy enough that they don’t leave red marks. They come in one-size or 2 size options (size 1, size 2). I ordered the size 2 for Jibs, which is intended for 20-40 lbs. I find that while most cloth dipes specify they are good up to 35 lbs, they are an extremely snug or low-rider fit on my 29 pounder. Jibbers has plenty of room to grow in these! Definitely good for up to 40 lbs, maybe even beyond. Jibs is presently on second-smallest rise setting, and uses only the three innermost waist snaps (these can easily expand another 4″ in the waist if needed). There is even a crossover snap on the waist for skinnier babes.

Although these are meant to fit a child up to larger proportions, the elastic is great– no gaps around the waist at all, and gussets around the legs. Jibbers has “average” thighs, but these might be tighter on a chunkier baby in the leg. They are cut wider through the crotch than some others, but not enough to impede movement. They do give Jibs a bit of a “poof butt,” but they don’t require a larger size in clothing.

Absorbency: ****

I usually think of Best Bottoms inserts as the gold standard by which I measure others, since they are absorbent, yet the stay-dry layer works well to keep moisture away from baby’s skin, and they seem resistant to stains and stinkies that others aren’t. Well guess what? Twinkletoes are pretty great for daytime, AND they are thinner. The suedecloth top is a finer “grain” than what I’m used to, but it works incredibly well.

I did not purchase any of the night inserts (silly me!), but Jibbers has stayed dry through longer stretches during the day. We have had some naptime wicking, which I attribute to my tummy sleeper and the leg gussets being trimmed with what appears to be regular cotton. Therefor, these may not be a night diaper anyway. I played around and found that I could add one of my BB night inserts snapped to the TT inserts, but it was sort of an odd shape, since the contours and sizing are different, but it may work for others.

Laundering: *****

After prepping per instructions, these are just as easy as can be. Inserts are all one piece, which is nice, because they don’t wrinkle or twist that way. Interior wipes clean really easily, and the outside exterior is even somewhat stain-resistant too. This is important because around this time of year I start letting Jibs run around wearing just a T-shirt, diaper, and shoes (it’s HOT already here in the coastal SE). The covers take a bit longer to dry than some of the others I own, but not nearly as long as a pocket or microfiber.

Overall: *****

In addition to all the great attributes listed above, these diapers are a really incredible value at $14 each ($15 for size 2s), which includes one insert! No, not prefold-cheap, but certainly a bargain compared to other brands of similar quality. I HIGHLY recommend these dipes, and will probably be returning to purchase some night inserts and additional covers, if I can justify the purchase ;0)

I think I may like these almost as well as my Best Bottoms (gasp!) snaps, because Twinkletoes give me a better, more adjustable fit, and they are far more flexible. The higher weight/size range is also very appealing, in case you have a larger child.

Customer service was great– the momma communicated with me several times, in an effort to make sure that the snaps were of a color I would like, and shipping was quick, as custom orders go (less than 2 weeks from order to receipt).

You can find Twinkletoes Diapers on Etsy http://www.etsy.com/shop/twinkletoesdiapers

or Hyena Cart http://hyenacart.com/twinkletoes/

Tell them practicalmomma sent you!

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Cooking With Baby Food

This is actually not such a foreign concept to me. I have been known to add select puree varieties to spaghetti sauce, in order to sneak more vegetables into Jibber’s diet. I’m not sure if this qualifies me as a weirdo, but apparently I am not alone. Are you as weird as me? What other unconventional ways do you use baby food? Practicalmomma wants to know… (please don’t say “baby food diet”!)

The folks at Sprout Baby Food recently introduced a contest in cooperation with New York Family magazine and Mini Munchers. They are asking entrants to submit their best recipe for adults or children using baby food– prizes for the best include a new stroller, photo shoot, baby food from Sprout, and various other baby-related goodies. See all the details here: http://www.newyorkfamily.com/newyork/flex-191-recipe-contest.html

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Fashionably Green Baby AI2 Trainers Review

As we prepared to celebrate Jibber’s second birthday a few weeks back, I started thinking about what this next year would hold. His rapidly-expanding vocabulary and newfound abilities– shooting hoops, pedaling a tricycle– why, wouldn’t he be potty-training soon?

Actually, Jibbers has been exhibiting many of the readiness signs: he delights in waving bye-bye to the toilet’s contents, flushing the potty, and often brings it to my attention when he has pooped. He can say potty, diaper, poop, pee, stinky… and we’ve even had a few successes here and there, letting him run naked and loading him up with fluids. So although I love my cloth diaper stash, I knew it was time to start thinking about trainers, even if he wasn’t quite ready for them just yet. We had tried underwear, but Jibs is just too early in the game for that method, and the cleaning involved with a child that still doesn’t totally understand their body’s signals is rather tiring.

I scoured the internet for reviews of trainers, looked at the pics, the YouTube videos, the prices… Unlike cloth diapers, there actually isn’t that many options out there in trainers. Even fewer with an AI2 option. All-in-twos certainly fit my lifestyle better– the convenience and cost just suit us, not to mention the time savings and ick factor (stuffing/unstuffing pockets). After reading some reasonably good reviews of Diaperpin, I opted to buy some Fashionably Green Baby AI2 trainers for Jibbers. Here’s how they rated:

Feel & Construction: *****

Soft and stretchy. These have three side snaps, and snaps for the inserts on the interior.  These are handmade by a WAHM momma, and the stitching all looks great and as professionally-done as anything I’ve ever bought from a major retailer. The interior is PUL material, and the outer is composed of a cottony knit that is rather soft. Several cute prints are available, and they are very trim through the crotch and sides. These have never left red marks, and all the snaps are well-hidden. Somehow they seem more breathable than many of my other diapers, which is definitely a plus.

There is nothing to hold moisture on the interior of the cover, so when wet, we just wipe and re-use the cover until soiled. Somehow, #2 always manages to get on the cover’s interior, but it all stays inside and I have had this experience with every diaper I own, so I don’t deduct any stars for that.

Sizing & Fit: ****

They are also sized, S/M/L, but since they are custom-made, you may be able to request custom sizing if necessary. Jibbers is technically a large, but could have gone with a medium. I knew he was borderline (he has such a large rise), but opted for the large, as I wanted to get the most use out of it. Sizing chart seems to be true-to-size and these also

s-t-r-e-t-c-h, so I would guess these may fit Jibbers for as much as another year if needed. I would prefer if there was a way to adjust the waist setting a bit, but they are also comfortable as is.

Absorbency: ***

 I bought the “Night Pack,” which includes two outer covers and two different types of inserts– thinner, one-piece cotton inserts for day, and three layer, velour-topped inserts for night. The day inserts are extremely thin (like, underwear-thin), but held up for one Jibbers pee without leaks. Ostensibly, the child would begin to wet, and realize the need for the bathroom, finishing the job in there. That concept is still a bit beyond Jibbers yet, so I have not found myself using the day inserts much as of yet.

The night inserts feature considerably more in the way of absorbency, but not a ton more in bulk. Still thinner than or equal to most of the other brand inserts I own. These held up overnight and during longer day stretches well, with the exception of one episode that I can probably attribute to the more generous sizing and Daddy diapering (let’s face it ladies, we generally do it better).

These are both okay, but daytime inserts are certainly intended for a child in the later stages of potty training. They are not my most absorbent or my favorite, but we continue to use both types occasionally. The trim crotch does not allow for interchangeability with my other inserts or disposable gDiaper inserts.

Laundering: ****

Easy peasy. Inserts dry remarkably fast, and I line-dry all the covers with the rest of my stash. I do not notice any shrinkage after several washes. The interior PUL on my trainers is white, and does show signs of staining on the interior (but none on the exterior), although I do rinse all solids off fairly quickly. This doesn’t really bother me, but is a consideration for some, I know.

User-friendliness: ****

These are easy for Daddy, and Jibbers can usually pull them down by himself without too much assistance. However, when he tries to pull them up again, he has managed to unsnap the insert in the rear on a few occasions. The snaps make it easy to do standing changes too, which practicalmomma finds uber-convenient when you are at places like the mall or the beach, where public restroom changing tables are extremely small and require a careful balancing act.

Overall: ****

Solid 4+ star rating (of 5). Perhaps when Jibbers is slightly more potty-ready, I will like them even better. For some occasions (hot weather, baby that resists lying changes), these may garner additional stars for some users. I would recommend them, but take into consideration that the daytime inserts are not really meant to go more than just a wee tinkle. We will keep these in our stash and in our circulation, and when Jibbers becomes more *interested* in the potty, I will append this review if necessary, after additional use.

You can purchase Fashionably Green Baby trainers, diapers, and other diapering accessories from their website: http://fashionablygreenboutique.com/ or you can find their storefront via Hyena Cart http://hyenacart.com/fashionablygreenbaby/

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Snack-stravaganza

Though we try to feed him a varied diet, Jibbers goes through periods where he gets somewhat particular about what he will eat. Thus, I am always on the lookout for new kid-friendly foods to add to our repertoire.

Since we are already huge fans of their Mac & Cheese and Cheddar Bunny snack mix in this house, I was thrilled when Annie’s Naturals offered to send us some products to try. We received a reusable shopping tote filled with delicious organic goodies! Chocolate chip and peanut butter chewy granola bars, bunny fruit snacks, honey wheat pretzel bunnies, and cinnamon toasted o’s cereal, all made with organic and all-natural ingredients.

I am not sure how you could not love the chewy granola bars– just the right amount of sweet and salty. The fruit snacks are rather exceptional because of what they don’t contain: gelatin, artificial colors (natural colorings like black carrot juice), and preservatives. The only downfall with these is that the packages are too small as far as Jibbers is concerned. (“More please. Puh-leez?”) Cinnamon toasted oats smell and taste more than just a little reminiscent of a cinnamon bun treat.

Unfortunately, here is where the brutal honesty and fitness trainer in Practicalmomma comes out: all of the prior mentioned are delicious as an occasional treat, but boast too much sugar for me to recommend as a staple in your cupboard or child’s lunchbox. Everything in moderation. Still, as Jibbers nears potty learning age, perhaps we will institute the fruit snacks as incentives for using the potty, as opposed to friends’ recommendations of M&Ms (no artificial colorings in this house, thank you).  

However, the best part of the package was contained in the pretzels. I swear that the people at Annie’s read my mind– Jibbers always used to rifle through the snack mix in order to eat the pretzels, his favorite part, first. In fact, Practicalmomma accused hubby of selectively eating those parts on one occasion, before I actually witnessed Jibbers engaged in this act. I often wished that Annie’s made a pretzels-only product, so that Jibbers could get what he wanted without having to touch every other morsel in the mix. At last– halleleuja!

The wonderful folks at Annie’s Naturals have also provided Practicalmomma with a second bag of these same goodies for one lucky momma. On April 20, MCCS Beaufort will be hosting an Earth Day celebration on Parris Island. To celebrate this event and honor military families and the sacrifices they make, Practicalmomma will select one mommy attendee at random to receive this prize. See MCCS Beaufort’s (www.mccs-sc.com)website for more details on the event and of course visit Annie’s website (www.Annies.com) for recipes and new products.

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What to Watch

Practicalmomma is generally not one to advocate movies or television for youngsters, but I will make the occasional exception. With Earth Day right around the corner, now is a great time to weave a few lessons about why it’s important to care for the environment. Cartoons, beautiful in their simplicity, are extremely influential on young children, as is evidenced by the abundance of marketed character apparel and action figures seen on today’s kids.

I suggest using this to your advantage by selectively choosing movies that the family can watch together and talk about. Although Wall-E is not a new release, our family only recently put it in our Netflix queue. It arrived yesterday in the mail, and tonight Jibbers and I settled down and watched it. So why am I a proponent of this movie? If you’ve already seen it, you may already understand. If you don’t want me to ruin the movie for you, then stop reading.

Wall-E tells a story of human overindulgence, materialism, and pollution– of our bodies and the environment– in a simple way that even a child can understand. Seven hundred years in the future, humans have completely destroyed the world and are so obese they are dependent on hovercraft to get around. Their need to be constantly entertained and constantly want more is told in a humorous way.

The robot hero and heroine, Wall-E and Eve, help and inspire a few humans to overcome the “problem is too big, so let’s just give up” mentality and return to their ancestral homeland. The humans get a second chance at a real life, learning to respect plants and animals and reconnect with others in a meaningful way.

I strongly suggest that you see this movie with your young children and take this message to heart. In this age of “instant satisfaction,” we are constantly updating our Facebook status and texting back and forth, when we could actually be interacting with those around us.

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