Comparison of types of child Soft Star shoes


We are obsessed with Soft Star shoes at my house, and have tried a number of different styles. I thought it might be helpful to do a comparison post in case people are curious about differences between the shoes. The ones we have tried are the Classics (both with velcro like the brown one above and with laces), the rambler (blue one above), and the sandal with elastic (black one above).

Overall, our favorite has been the classics with velcro. They open up really wide so they are the easiest to get on. The ramblers open using elastics but they require a bit of a squeeze to get on, at least for us. The sandals are probably in the middle in terms of ease of putting on. Our 2 year old can’t put any of them on by himself though.

We also like the classics because they prevent sand from getting inside since they are closed all the way around. the Ramblers actually have an open slit along each side. We greatly prefer the velcro opening over laces because it’s so easy to close. The laces are a lot cheaper, but you have to tie them each time which ends up being a pain on a wiggly toddler.

In general the shoes are expensive, but they last us a long time and don’t look worn out. They are also easy to clean with a damp rag, and look as good as new even after a hike.



Toddler toothbrushing success! (at the expense of my ideals)

eating plain sugar while baking is great for my teeth, right?

eating plain sugar while baking is great for my teeth, right?

Well, I finally have been able to consistently get Jack to brush his teeth twice a day as well as let me brush them a little too, and all I had to do was bribe him with videos… I always hoped to not let Jack watch TV much or at all for as long as humanly possible, but I was so worried about his teeth getting cavities since he eats dried fruit and gummy vitamins and cookies (but they are all organic!). So we decided that dental hygiene was more important than brain development I guess and now he watches a few video clips in the morning and evening. He even asks to brush his teeth often, because he is sadly super addicted to watching videos now! It’s pretty depressing to me that no other strategy worked, but it’s also nice to have a few minutes to get things done while he is transfixed by the screen. I totally understand how people can put their kids in front of the TV for hours now, it’s like free babysitting! I can actually clean something without Jack simultaneously making an additional mess elsewhere, or I can sit down for longer than 2 minutes at a time and write an email or make a to-do list.  The other positive thing is that now on our upcoming 5-hour flight to Pennsylvania we can have the videos as a backup in case Jack gets restless. I have been trying to make myself feel a little better about it by showing him only videos in Portuguese so he practices his other language, but then his dad showed him “the wheels on the bus” song in a cartoon and he is obsessed with that. We also found a youtube channel called TuTiTu that has super boring (aka not ADHD-causing) videos about making different things like a fire truck which Jack likes.

So there you go- my embarrassing secret to how my 2 year old brushes his teeth…

Failing at brushing toddler teeth

your diet of 90% refined carbs isn't going to help you teeth situation, Jack

your diet of 90% refined carbs isn’t going to help this teeth situation, Jack

Jack used to love brushing his teeth, but now that he’s almost 2 and has very strong opinions about everything it’s turning into a big struggle. I used to let him do it himself, but then I started doing it for him afterwards but that turned into a literal power struggle with me pinning down his hands which was a disaster for everyone. So now we’re back to letting him do it, but we haven’t been able to find a good way to get him to brush for longer than a few seconds.

Here are some things we’ve tried, and need to try more consistently probably:

  • Getting him an electric toothbrush is the only thing that helped a little. The first few days we got it, he brushed for a long time, but now he doesn’t anymore. At least I think it brushes more efficiently though. I have an electric one too, so he sometimes would try that and seemed to like the feeling of the vibration.
  • Telling his stuffed animals “I have a secret: Jack is great at brushing his teeth!” didn’t work at all, but I have a friend who says it works for her daughter.
  • Singing a song didn’t help.
  • Today we tried watching a tooth brushing video with a song while he brushed his teeth which worked for about 5 seconds.
  • We’ve tried having my husband or I brush at the same time, and seem very excited about it with no success.
  • I’ve also tried rewards like saying he can give the dog a treat which he loves to do after he brushes, and even giving him the reward in pieces during the process but no luck there either.

I think for now we’ll try the video for several more days to see if that works. It’s sad because I actually love brushing my teeth, so I really want Jack to have good associations with dental hygiene as well.


Hand foot and mouth disease

toddler 21 months

Poor Jack (and his dad) caught hand moot and mouth disease a few weeks ago. It started with a fever for one night and then Jack got blisters on his feet and a few on other areas. My husband got the fever too and also felt muscle pain and like he had swallowed razor blades. I felt especially bad for Jack who at 21 months can’t really understand what is happening to him or how to tell us how he feels. I was thankful we breastfeed though because Jack barely ate any solids for a few days but nursed like crazy.

I tried a little bit of night weaning the week before but caved after Jack was waking up at night and not falling back asleep, but I was happy I didn’t stick with it because he really needed the nursing at night while he was sick. Jack was also really easily upset during the day, and would have a big tantrum at the drop of a hat. I’m so glad he is finally better because it was stressful for everyone! I’m also thankful I didn’t get HFM disease because it took my husband about a week to recover, and it would be hard to have anyone take care of Jack for a whole week. Whenever someone in the family is sick it always makes me feel grateful for our overall good health though, because we take it for granted so much of the time.

The main things that were helpful to survive HFM disease for us were:

  • new toys to keep Jack busy at home since we were not allowed to go to parks
  • finding household objects for Jack to play with (my hair rollers were a huge hit as well as an old coffee machine)
  • going on long walks in the stroller
  • making houses out of board books
  • letting Jack help in the kitchen a lot (putting items into a salad, washing things)
  • Tylenol at night even though I feel guilty giving it to him so often

Typical schedule at 20 months


I can’t believe Jack is already 20 months old! In my mind when I thought of him being two or almost two he would be saying sentences and sleeping all night… haha. It’s more like saying about 20 words half of which are not super useful (like bee) and still waking up every 2-3 hours. Oh well, this way if we have another baby sometime I won’t even miss the 8 hours of sleep! Jack also still breastfeeds a lot more than most kids his age, but I enjoy it- it’s one of the only times I get to lie down during the day and rest. In general even though some times are hard, I love being able to stay home with him most days and am so so thankful for the help I also get from his dad and my dad.

Here is what a recent day looked like for us:


7:30- J wakes up and wants to pee on the potty

-I get changed and change him

-I might have 5-10 minutes to work out while stopping to throw balls for the dog or help J with a toy

8-put breakfast in toaster oven to heat, put laundry in, get everyone ready for a walk

-walk the dog around the block with J

8:20- have breakfast and feed the dog

8:40 J wants to go to the bathroom again

8:45- I try to finish eating while J plays/makes a mess

8:50- breastfeed

9- get ready to go to the library storytime, put new load of laundry in

-clean up dishes, clean up toys, make a snack to bring

9:30- leave for library

11:15 get home and put stuff in dryer


-try to nurse or wear J to sleep for an hour

12:45- I can finally sit down and relax and watch a TV show while J naps

2-J wakes up, I nurse him

2:20 make lunch and J eats lunch

2:40 clean up from lunch

-errands around the house

3:20 Brian watches J while I write up notes from work and clean up

5- my dad watches J for an hour which I really appreciate! I get to eat in peace and do some clean up

5:45- J is back and breastfeeds

6- play with J, make him a snack, read books

7- nurse

7-8 walk with Bear and wear J in the carrier to get him to sleep

Review of Pedoodles shoes and age-by-age shoe guide


I recently bought Jack some pedoodle shoes because they are pretty eco friendly. They use recycled leather and rubber which is nice and are supposed to have flexible soles. They also have velcro which is really easy to use and are pretty wide which is good for baby feet.

I think that pedoodles are great for people who want a more structured shoe, and would be better for slightly older toddlers, maybe at least 2-3 years old. I think at 18 months Jack still needs shoes that are more flexible. The leather upper part is not very flexible, so I think shoes like the Soft Star ones with very soft leather are ideal for where Jack is now. He was also able to pull off the velcro tabs but I imagine that’s the case with most velcro shoes. From my shoe experience so far (we’ve tried a lot of brands!), this is what I think worked best for us and what I’d do with a future child:

0-12 months: no shoes until baby starts walking. We just used socks with the skid-proof bottoms.

12 months-15 months (starting to stand/walk until they are really confident walkers): very soft shoes with leather all around (no rubber which while it can be described as “flexible” is never as flexible as leather or cloth). For the very early walking months I love BabyPaws which is formaldehyde-free leather and has velcro to have an adjustable fit. Leather shoes that are mocassin style with elastic closure like Robeez or the more nontoxic version, Bobux are adorable but didn’t fit Jack’s feet and aren’t adjustable. We kept Jack in all leather shoes for about 4 months. The shoes got holes after about 2 months, and also aren’t waterproof, but they are amazing in the learning to walk stage.

15 months-24 months (confident walker to runner):  Soft star classic shoes (ideally with velcro closure). They have a rubber sole which is flexible (but not as much as leather) and have a very soft leather top. They last a lot longer than the all leather shoes and don’t get wet when walking through puddles. We used these sometimes around 12 months if it was wet out but Jack was clearly more comfortable in the soft shoes until he became a proficient walker. The soft star company is my all time favorite for shoes- they have formaldehyde-free leather and are hand made in the US.

24 months plus: Stick with soft star, or try other shoes with “flexible” rubber soles and a more structured leather upper like the Pedoodles. The pedoodles are eco friendly and use recycled materials but they don’t use formaldehyde-free leather. FYI neither does Livie and Luca whom I also emailed.

Elimination communication update- staying dry at night!

IMG_2375 I have been doing elimination communication with Jack since he was a few weeks old, and now he is 17 months. Elimination communication involves following your baby’s cues for going to the bathroom and teaching them signals, but uses no external positive or negative reinforcement (no skittles for using the potty!). Babies are motivated to learn because no one naturally likes sitting in their own waste- we just train kids to be ok with it when using diapers.

Within the past month Jack really started understanding the sign language sign for “bathroom” and will do it if I ask him if he has to go! If he’s really involved in an activity he doesn’t like to stop for the bathroom (understandably!) but he uses the potty at least a few times per day. Yesterday he only had 2 wet diapers all day!

I was surprised to notice that in the last 4 days he has been waking up with his diaper totally dry, and then peeing in the potty. I never thought he could not pee at night at this age because he still breastfeeds often at night, and sleeps for about 11 hours. My husband and I were worried he was dehydrated initially, but he does breastfeed all the time, so I think he just naturally started staying dry at night. I’m excited about the diminishing laundry load!

I ordered Jack his first underwear yesterday which I’m excited about. I think we can try them around the house, but keep using diapers outside until he gets more consistent about communicating. I looked at several organic options, and chose these 100% organic cotton ones from Under The Nile. I heard they run big, so I hoe they fit! Hanna Andersson has some organic ones but they seemed too big based on reviews

under the nile trainers

under the nile trainers

Imse Vimse also had some I was thinking about because they had a layer of PUL which makes them more waterproof. I might order a pair and try them out as well

imse vimse organic trainers


I can’t believe how fast Jack is growing up! It really makes me want to savor every day with him (while he still wants to hang out with me!)


Amazon store is open!

I’ve been working on it for a little while, and I finally have my amazon store up and running!

It has links to my favorite baby clothes, gear, toys, and cloth diapers. It’s all the same price as normal amazon but I get a small percentage.

Amazon Store

Thanks for your support and let me know if there are any other categories you think I should add!



10.31We didn’t do a lot for Halloween this year because Jack is only 10 months old. I dressed him up as a bear with an organic Jacket I bought used on the natural toys B/S/T facebook group which I love. I also got some cheap white organic pants and made a little tail out of white fabric I already had. I was glad I could re-use all the parts of his costume and that they were all organic!

We ended up just going over to my dad’s house and not going to this street fair we planned on because everyone had things come up last minute, but hopefully next year will be more fun! I can’t believe Jack will be almost two then, and will be running around and have an opinion about his costume!


Transitioning back to part-time work



I have been working a little bit since having Jack, but mainly from home or days where I’m only apart from him for 4 hours or less at a time. In the last 3 weeks though, I finally started doing one or two days a week of longer days (anywhere from 4 to 10 hours away depending on how far I have to drive).

It’s been a challenge to pump because I don’t have much down time at work, and it really makes me impressed by all the moms who work full time and pump!

I only bought a manual pump after having Jack because I wasn’t sure if the expense of an electric one would be worth it since I work part-time, and so far I’ve found that I like hand expressing more than pumping. I REALLY like not having to wash off/clean any extra parts (I express right into a bottle), not having to worry about mold in the pump (that happened once!), and I don’t like the suction feel of pumping. I found that hand expressing is just as fast, and I can get about an ounce in 5 minutes if it’s been a few hours since Jack last ate.

Last week I only had time to pump for 10 minutes after 4 hours of work and I got a plugged duct, so I really need to make sure it spend more time doing it. It’s a challenge because I don’t get paid for breaks since I’m an independent contractor, so my preference is to work quickly so I can just go home and feed Jack, but I don’t want to end up with mastitis!

Jack has also never been a fan of drinking from a bottle, so we ordered some new nipples to see if that helps. He gets barely any calories from solids either. I keep reminding myself that some babies sleep 8 hours a night, so if he doesn’t eat for that long during the day he will be ok, but it still makes me nervous. Last week he ate 1/2 an ounce over 10 hours! My husband is staying with him today and trying some faster flow bottles to see if that works any better.

I feel lucky I was able to wait until Jack was 9 months old and eating some solids to leave him all day, but it’s still hard. I definitely understand why in some countries they have a year of maternity leave! It really doesn’t make a lot of sense to me that I have to pump in a bathroom stall during the day to avoid clogged ducts while my husband tries to get Jack to eat from a bottle unsuccessfully at home, when we would both be a lot happier just breastfeeding! But at least I only have to work 1-2 days a week thankfully, and I’m sure it will get easier as Jack eats more solid food eventually.