DIY natural toothpaste for kids

My 2 year old and I have a constant up and down relationship with toothbrushing. At the moment he has been letting me brush while I count to 10 and he watches a video, and it helps that I let him put the toothpaste on his brush himself. However, he likes to eat more toothpaste than I would feel comfortable with so I decided to make my own using natural ingredients. We had a strawberry natural toothpaste before which he liked, so I looked for the closest recipe I could find and ended up making my own version. It ended up being a big success luckily! He helped me make it and loves licking it right out of the jar. Because our house is warm I store it in the fridge so the coconut oil doesn’t melt, and he rubs his toothbrush on it (or licks it out of the container).

Ingredients:

1/2 cup coconut oil (I didn’t melt it because it was already half melted in our warm house)

2 tablespoons baking soda

2 tablespoons xylitol (I bought it from whole foods and blended it in a coffee grinder first because the crystals were too big)

10 drops of orange essential oil

a few drops of natural orange food coloring if your child likes colorful toothpaste

 

you just mix it together and then taste a bit to see if you need more xylitol for sweetness or more orange flavor

 

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.

 

Yay, finally some gentle nightweaning success!

1.sleepy

 

I think it’s because at 23 months now, Jack has finally gotten all his baby teeth, because he started miraculously sleeping through the night recently! Just a few weeks ago he was waking up every 2 hours all night, and now it’s often times just 1 wake up, and a few nights ago he slept 11 hours without nursing! I’ve been in such disbelief because I’d basically resigned myself to the fact that I’d have a 4 year old who still woke in the middle of the night and came into my bed.

I have been (kind of inconsistently) using a gentle technique of picking 1 or 2 wakeups and nursing a little less time than Jack wants. He has never been soothed by getting patted or being sung to or anything which is kind of sad for me, so the best thing I tried was unlatching him and just rolling over and pretending to be asleep. He would usually say “more” and fuss for a few seconds, and then would go back to sleep. If it kept going longer than maybe 20 seconds or so I would turn back over and nurse him because I didn’t want him to get too upset and really get awake. I did this most nights once or twice for several weeks and saw no change.

Then one night he woke up 2 hours after bedtime as usual but I was so tired that I didn’t want to nurse and thought I would wait a few seconds before nursing on the off chance he would go back to sleep. He ended up just going back to sleep on his own, and then sleeping for 4 more hours which was a long stretch for him! I tried again the next few nights and for some reason not feeding him that first time seemed to be the key to getting longer stretches all night.

We also got the Nursies when the Sun Shines book which couldn’t have hurt, but it arrived after the longer stretches had already started. The book is really sweet though, and has beautiful illustrations. Jack loves it and likes pointing to the cat.

In general, I think this is more of a “wait it out” success story than any technique because I’m pretty convinced it was the constant teething that was really making nights rough for us. Also Jack is finally eating more solids so that’s got to help as well. But nursing him a little less and seeing if he could go back to sleep on his own seems to have helped too, so I wanted to share in case someone else is in a similar boat.

Hopefully this post doesn’t jinx us for tonight!

Getting my 2 year old involved in household tasks

montessori learning tower

Jack helping at his learning tower

Parenting a toddler has been fairly challenging lately, and Jack is definitely getting more assertive with his choices and communicating it more. Our days have been involving a lot of mini tantrums where he gets upset that he has to put on a new shirt because his current one is wet, or we need to get in the car to drive somewhere but he wants to take a walk,

One thing that seems to help us a lot is following the Montessori idea of giving Jack as much freedom as possible and letting him help with our daily activities so he has a sense of control over more things. One of his favorite ways to help has always been in the kitchen. Getting a learning tower has been one of the best things we have bought. Jack loves to wash produce, transfer it from one bowl to another, or put things in the food processor and help turn it on. He is also more likely to get excited to try foods that he helps prepare.

Jack also helps with the laundry by putting the quarters in the slots (even though he likes to play with them so it takes way longer). He will also help move things into the dryer or carry some items back down the hallway for me. When I unload the dishwasher he will help with the non-pointy silverware, and he loves helping to clean up messes with a rag. Jack has also been enjoying turning lights off and on by himself and opening and closing doors. He likes to somewhat accurately water the plants too.

There are some activities he loves to help with so much that I have a hard time completing them; if I ever get out the swiffer while he’s around I have to wait quite a while until I can get a turn with it!

Traveling with a cosleeping toddler

at the USS Midway museum

at the USS Midway museum

 

Our family took a road trip to San Diego recently, and it went much better than I expected! I was worried because all our other trips with Jack so far have been a pretty stressful disaster. I guess now that he’s 22 months we have hit a turning point, since he doesn’t hate the car, can manage to mostly sit through a (quick) restaurant meal, and falls asleep a little easier.

We rented a place through air bnb, and I chose somewhere with a king size bed so Jack and my husband and I could all cosleep comfortably. It worked out great which I was surprised by. I nursed Jack to sleep for naps and at night and he slept just as well as at home. I think one of the pros of cosleeping is that your child feels at home wherever his parents are :) I stayed in the room on my laptop when Jack was asleep to make sure he didn’t roll off the bed and also set up a barrier with pillows.

We planned some family-friendly outings like short hikes by the ocean which Jack loved, and seeing seals at La Jolla cove. We also went to the USS Midway ship which is a museum and Jack loved sitting in the airplanes! We did a mix of eating at restaurants and picking up food to eat at home since Jack can’t handle sitting still at restaurants too often, and we found nice vegan options for him and I to eat.

Jack also stayed in underwear the whole time, and we brought the potty in the car and to the rental house. We just stopped at the side of the road for him to pee on the trip down which worked out great, and it was not a problem at all.

I’m glad that the trip went so well- I think that after around 18 or 20 months things have definitely started to get easier in many ways! There are still lots of times when Jack gets upset when things don’t go his way (he is very assertive), but I try to be as AP as I can and hope that it pays off in the long run. I’m excited to plan a road trip up to Northern California in the Spring now that this road trip went so well. I’m also 5% less anxious about our upcoming plane trip across the country for the holidays :)

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

Thinking about night weaning options at 21 months

9.3

 

Jack is 21 months old now, and we are thinking about trying to night wean (again). I am fine waiting until Jack does so naturally but my husband wants to do it now, so we are going to try a gentle and gradual approach. I have read so many different approaches to it, so here are some of the ones I was thinking about (I tend to overthink things a lot, and want to minimize sadness for Jack and imagine what I would prefer if I were in his situation). Any of the things we choose would NOT leave Jack to cry alone, ever. However there will likely be some crying because Jack is very “spirited.” The crying is always so hard on me especially because he doesn’t like me to touch him so I can’t hold him, but at least a loving parent will be with him to support him, so I think of it as crying in arms, not cry it out.

1. The method I’m going to try first is having Jack wait longer and longer periods until he can have milk. I think I will start at his first wake up after 11pm, so that eventually the goal is him sleeping from 9:30 to the morning without his every other hour wake ups. I will start with a few seconds of him waiting and gradually increase it to a minute, then eventually longer and longer. The goal is that at some point he will fall asleep during the wait and get more and more practice sleeping without nursing. I will tell him that the milkies are busy making more milk, but we can have some later. I think that makes sense to me, and also doesn’t rely on him understanding about the day versus night which I don’t think he does yet. I like that he knows he will get to nurse eventually, and that I can feed him if he gets too upset. I just hope he is able to wait long enough to fall back asleep…

2. My next option in case that never works is nursing him to sleep and then making him a little to see if he can go back to sleep on his own while very groggy. (If it didn’t work, I would nurse and  barely wake him the next time). Once that worked consistently and Jack was a little more used to falling asleep that way, I would try to nurse him to 95% asleep and take him off my breast to see if he could fall asleep, and then keep shortening it.

3. The next option I would try is letting him nurse a little and then refusing to nurse again until he sleeps and wakes up again. I tried this several months ago and only was able to get him to sleep in a baby carrier but then he would wake when I put him down and get upset again.

4. We tried once having my husband put Jack to bed, but that was a disaster several months ago. This could be an option if nothing else is working, but I feel bad having Jack lose not only his main way to get to sleep but also his favorite parent. I think if we tried this I would set a cutoff for how many minutes he could cry and then I would come back and we wouldn’t do this method any more.

Even though Jack waking every 2 hours is kind of tiring, it’s not that back because we cosleep. I’m really not looking forward to having him possibly get upset at night and then be up for hours because he gets all riled up :( I hope by some miracle he can just so gradually get used to something that there are no tears!

Where to find organic toddler clothes

Now that Jack is a toddler, it’s a little more of a challenge to find him organic clothes because a lot of places stop carrying organic options after 12 or 18 months. I hope to keep having him wear organic clothes until he decides he doesn’t want to though because of all the chemicals on traditional clothing (which have given me hives sometimes!) and the fact that cotton growing uses so much pesticide which is bad for the environment and the workers as well. I have been able to find a bunch of places to shop from, most of which I order from online.

  • Frugi is pretty expensive but great quality and has really cute organic options for boys and girls through age 9! The fit runs a little on the large side.

 

toddler organic clothes H&M

shirt from Frugi

  • H&M has a “conscious” line which has mostly shirts made of organic cotton. They are really inexpensive and go up to 10 years old. They fit a little large, and the store near us often has a small amount in stock so we go there to see what size is best and often order online.
toddler organic clothes H&M

Wearing a shirt from H&M

The tangerine tree has cute shirts and other items that are often on sale on amazon like the one Jack has on below that we got for $9. The one we have doesn’t have snaps at the neck but it is easy to put on and Jack likes the elephant on it which is printed on so it’s not itchy. They go up to 24 months but the sizes are a little large.

organic toddler clothes tangerine tree

tangerine tree shirt

  • Hanna Andersson also has some basic organic options and the non-organic clothes are oeko-tex certified at least which is nice. They always get rated as having great comfy underwear and their clothes go up to teen sizes.
  • Kate Quinn has really cute and more stylish options. They are generally a little pricier but often have $10 sales. The sizing is a little more random, running either true to size or small in our experience. The sizes go up to at least a 4.
organic toddler clothes kate quinn

kate quinn shirt and pants

  • Burt’s Bees is priced in the middle range and has some basic items as well as some cute things that are classic looking but not just solids or stripes.  They go up to a size 7 and run a little small. They have many hoodies and sweatshirts if you are looking for warmer clothes.

wearing a burts bees shirt as a 12 month old

wearing a burts bees shirt as a 12 month old

If you are on a budget, you can often find organic clothes on ebay, or join a facebook group for b/s/t of your favorite brand

Elimination communication on an airplane!

IMG_20140618_183701449We just got back from a 6 day trip to Philadelphia to visit family (and managed to take only carry-on bags again!) I had my mom buy some whole foods disposable diapers for us to use there because people didn’t want us to wash our cloth diapers at their houses, and Jack ended up with his first ever diaper rash by the end of the week. I had packed 3 pocket diapers just in case, so the day we were traveling home I put him in a pocket diaper and figured I would cloth diaper him until we ran out and then put him back in disposables. I definitely didn’t expect it, but I managed to have Jack use the toilet for our entire trip!

Jack is 18 months old now and at home he always poops in the potty but often does not want to pee in the potty if he’s in the middle of playing, so we still rely on diapers most of the day. I also admittedly get lazy about taking him to the bathroom, especially in public places. But after this trip I realized I’m 99% of the reason Jack isn’t totally out of diapers!

Here’s how we handled EC on the trip:

Before we left I had Jack pee in the toilet of my mom’s house. I hold him over the toilet facing backwards in the “EC” hold.

At the airport, I found a family bathroom which makes things much easier and had him pee right when we arrived (it was 1.5 hours since he last peed). He also went again right before we boarded the plane (about another hour or so had passed). If he was hesitant to go, I found that turning on the sink helped him.

On the plane, I took him to the bathroom about every 2 hours so that ended up being twice during the 5 hour trip. It was a super tight squeeze in the plane bathroom! I found it helpful to bring a plastic bag with an extra diaper (in case I needed to change him) and hang it on the hook on the door. Then I put his pants in the bag while I was holding him to pee.

I took him to the bathroom again in the airport once we arrived, and then he stayed dry on the hour-long drive home. I was so proud of us for making it work over such a long day! I’m excited for Jack to continue getting better at communicating and I’m sure when that happens he’ll be out of diapers soon. It will be nice to stop doing all that laundry :)