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Thank you to our fabulous guest blogger for this informative insight into biking with babies and car-free life with children.
By: Elle Bustamante, Bike/Pedestrian Educator and amazing car-free mama of 2 at Tiny Helmets Big Bikes.
Bicycling is awesome! Remember the freedom it gave you as a child–the wind in your face, exploring new neighborhoods, getting tired and sweaty, and riding around with a big, giant grin plastered to your face? But then we grow up, we buy cars because we need to go farther and faster and that’s what we’re told to do. We lose freedom to responsibility and the bikes get tucked away in the garage to get dusty.
After my second child, I decided I wanted a change. I didn’t want to be schlepping my children around in a car anymore. I wanted my freedom back. I got back on my bike, children in tow, and started pedaling. Those feelings came back and I was happy! It didn’t matter if I was doing a mundane chore like picking up groceries if I was on my bike. Weekend picnics didn’t involve piling into a car, driving in traffic-filled streets, going round and round to find parking, only to be totally exhausted before we even sat down at the park. Instead, we rode. The boys were noticing the world around them, smelling dinners as we passed houses in the evening or pointing out the funny purple house with the tiny dog out front. We were talking and singing and smiling again–no more shouting at the backseat to get them to stop fighting so I could concentrate.
Bicycling not only gave me back my freedom, but also my connection with our community, and a slower-paced lifestyle so I could fully focus on my family. We enjoy the adventure of getting somewhere, we’re not just rushing to the next destination.
The number one comment I hear is always regarding safety. “Is that safe?” The short answer: yes. The longer answer: nothing in life is safe. Living life will eventually lead to dying, in one way or another. Sitting on your chair all day will kill you. Stairs kill more people each year than bicycles. The number one killer of children that no one talks about is cars. Cars are deadly yet no one thinks of the danger as they’re strapping their children down into styrofoam seats with nylon straps and plastic buckles then hurdling down the freeway at 70mph. Mile for mile, bicycling is safer than driving your car. The best way to minimize your risks while riding is to take a class in traffic safety which will help give you the confidence to bike safely and legally.
Getting started is hard and possibly even scary. Find a friend who is already riding to help hold your hand in the beginning. Join local bike groups, especially ones geared towards casual riders or families (Kidical Mass). Talk to your local bike shop about their suggestions, although if they give you grief, find a different shop. There are great resources online, (R)evolutions Per Minute is a FaceBook group whose members are always happy to give encouraging words or helpful suggestions for different situations. You are certainly not alone in your desire to bike with your family.
Finding a set-up that works well for your family is the first step. My children both started riding at 6 months old in a trailer behind my bike. I checked with our pediatrician first and waited until they could sit up and hold a helmet on their head. Our trailer, although we found it used on Craigslist, was top of the line and had suspension to minimize vibrations–one of the main concerns regarding riding with very young children. Other people have started with their children much younger and others have chosen to wait longer. This is a decision that is best made between you, your partner, and your child’s doctor.
CARGO BIKES are in a class of their own. These are often viewed as car-replacement vehicles. Children under 4 years old must be strapped into a child seat (according to California vehicle code), those over 4 still need to be sitting on a designated “seat” that is designed for that purpose. Cargo bikes make riding with multiple children incredibly easy. It’s important to test ride a few different styles as this kind of bike is an investment at $800-5000.
For my family, we started with trailers until we realized that we wanted to make biking our main form of transportation. We committed to using our bikes for ALL trips that were “bikeable.” At first, we started with a 2-4 mile radius, excluding some routes that we weren’t comfortable on, yet. Slowly, we started finding longer distances doable and ways to get to previously uncharted territory. Our car sat in the driveway for longer and longer periods of time and we started paying attention to our savings for each mile ridden as opposed to driven.
After about 8 months, we made the leap into car-freedom by selling our Prius. Our cargo bike, a Yuba Mundo, made biking easier than using the trailer had been. In a pinch, we’ve been known to borrow my parents’ or a friend’s car and we have a membership to Zip Car, a car sharing program. We’ve found that biking can get us to about 90% of all our necessary destinations and made it 1000% more fun.
You can learn more about our journey by checking out our website: tinyhelmetsbigbikes.com. We document the good days and the not-so-good days, document what has been working and what hasn’t, and write about lots of our fun adventures going bicycle camping and touring. You can also find us riding around Sacramento and at our monthly Kidical Mass rides. We’re happy to answer any questions that could help get you into family bicycling.
While most of the time, conventional pregnancy and parenting emails usually go straight to my Trash, WhatToExpect sent me an email that I actually felt worthy of my reading time. They are offering three FREE nursing-friendly items – you just pay shipping costs – in honor of World Breastfeeding Week! Since this seems like such a great deal, I wanted to share with all of you!
Using the coupon code “WTE,” you have the option of getting 100% off FOUR different baby/new parent focused products – you only pay shipping costs.
First, Seven™ offers a one-piece sling that can carry a Newborn (8 lbs) up to toddlers (35 lbs) in THREE different ways! You do have to measure from shoulder to hip to get the right size, however they offer sizing insurance for only $3.5o more, which covers shipping both ways. Normally, this sling costs $39.95 + shipping, however with the “WTE” code, you only pay shipping costs! This is a great option for new parents who are testing out slings and don’t want to pay full-price!
Second, NursingPillow is just that – a nursing pillow. It features a curved bean-like shape, similar to the Boppy, to help support baby during nursing sessions. Like the sling, this pillow usually costs $39.95 + shipping, however by entering the “WTE” code, you only pay shipping costs! Even though I own a Boppy pillow, I remember hating that I had to tote the one pillow from room to room with me with my first son, so I am excited to try this new pillow with our second son, who is “due” in the next few weeks!
Third, Udder Covers™ is another one of the featured FREE items for Breastfeeding Awareness Month. This is a great little nursing cover – my sister owns one – to cover you (and baby) up while nursing in public. These typically cost #34.95, however by using the coupon code “WTE,” you only pay shipping costs. As many seasoned parents know, you can never have enough nursing covers. I liked to leave one in the diaper bag and one in my car, just in case I forgot my bag!
Finally, after ordering any of the above three options, you will receive a code for FREE Carseat Canopy! These cute and colorful covers fit over most portable car seats and usually costs $49.95. However, again, by using a coupon code, you only pay shipping costs!
In the end, I ordered one Seven Sling, one Nursing Pillow, and one Udder Cover. For all three, I only paid $35.80 (or $39.30, including $3.50 sizing insurance for the sling). Not bad! These are all GREAT option for all parents (or gifts for new parents) with minimal costs. Even though I am not a new parent, it has been a few years since I nursed my son and I was excited to get some new “things” to help me transition back into my normal life after birth.
1. Visit sevenslings.com, UdderCovers.com, or Nursingpillow.com.
2. Click on “Shop Now” and select any baby carrier, nursing cover or nursing pillow you like.
3. Once you’ve made your selection, you’ll be taken automatically to your shopping bag. Enter the promo code “WTE” and each company will deduct 100% of the cost of the carrier, nursing cover, and pillow — all you pay are the shipping fees!
You can use promo code “WTE” for all 4 offers— just open a new browser window each time you do.
After my son was born and my maternity leave dwindled away, I struggled as most new moms did: choosing between my working career or staying home with my new baby. For almost a year, I flip-flopped between working full-time, to part-time, to being home, then back to part-time work. however, whatever option I chose left me feeling guilty: either for leaving my baby in the care of someone else, or for putting my career on hold. It seemed as if either option left me feeling empty and sad.
In Fall of 2012 I decided to quit my job and stay home with my toddler. I became an Independent Certified Instructor (ICI) with the Baby Signs® program in 2011, but did not have the time (or energy) to focus on the classes and marketing. However, after I decided to quit my job outside the home, I began to funnel more efforts into the Baby Signs® classes. Today, Abigail and I are not only successful Baby Signs® Instructors – only teaching between 2-4 hours week – but I honestly can say I LOVE what I do!
I am able to schedule classes around my schedule, bring in some extra income, and have time left-over to spend with my family My stress levels have dropped drastically. It is no longer a battle between my husband and me over who will empty the dishwasher or fold laundry. I have time to focus on my work, my family, and myself (which is something I have never had enough time to do in the past).
By becoming a Baby Signs® ICI, you can have fun and earn additional income teaching Baby Signs® classes and workshops in your own community. The Baby Signs® Independent Certified Instructor Program is designed to train, certify and support our growing team of Instructors as they build their own home businesses.
Join our worldwide network of instructors – we will provide you with comprehensive training – in both infant sign language, early childhood development and a certification to teach the Baby Signs® Program. You can also count on our on-going support to start and grow a thriving Baby Signs® Program in your community.
The Baby Signs® Program is the world’s leading sign language program for babies because it’s the only
So, if you would like to SET your own hours, OWN your own business, INCREASE your family’s income, and MAKE a difference in the lives of babies and families in your community, then join us as a Baby Signs® Independent Certified Instructor. (Click Here to learn more about the Baby Signs® Program)
For more information or to receive an informational packet and application, please contact Elizabeth!
My daughter is currently 10 months old and while she is walking fairly consistently, I’m not comfortable letting her free to run around outside. I love baby wearing because it eliminates the need for a stroller and keeps my hands free. Because let’s face it… babies nap better and longer when they’re closer to a parent. Before I know it, I won’t be able to carry her around so I’m enjoying it now!
Baby K’tan recently sent us one of their amazing carriers to review*. While we reviewed quite a few baby wearing carriers, Baby K’tan wasn’t on our list simply because we hadn’t had the opportunity to try it! Retailing at $49.95, I couldn’t justify buying one when no one I know had tried it. Yes, we moms rely on word-of-mouth referrals.
So even though this carrier is fairly new on the market, it has quickly become one of my favorites. In fact, as I’m typing up this review, my daughter is currently asleep comfortably in the Baby K’tan. When I pop her in, she’s asleep within minutes! The closeness and snuggle factor this wrap provides is very comforting for baby and comfortable for me. Want one? Enter our Giveaway below!
Check out the video below comparing the Baby K’Tan to a traditional wrap style baby carrier!
Thanks to Baby K’tan, we have one carrier to giveaway. The GIVEAWAY starts 5/14/2013. The winner will be selected by random and we will announce the winner on our blog and Facebook page after the deadline of 5/26/2013. The winner will be emailed instructions how to claim their selected size and color of the Baby K’tan carrier.
We will be contacting the winner at the end of the month! Good luck!
*NOTE: Baby K’Tan sent us a carrier to review and we are not being compensated for this review.
I chose to use A Happy Green Life laundry wash because my diapers were smelling no matter what I did! AND to add fuel to the fire, just recently, we were hit with the dreaded red-burning rash. We attributed it to too much citrus – our son was addicted to clementines – but after a little research I realized it may be from ammonia build up on the diapers.
I stripped using RLR, I soaked over-night using Bac-Out, I used less laundry detergent, I used MORE detergent, I added one, then two, then THREE extra rinses – still the same funky stench radiated from the diapers not even ten minutes after snapping them on my toddler. I even resorted to taking all the diapers over to my sister’s house and using her “Sanitary Cycle,” only to find the stink returned after 1-2 washes. What else could I possibly do?
In addition, I am “blessed” with an HE washer, which is great for the environment, but horrible when it comes to washing cloth diapers. I have spent hours and days washing, and rinsing, and re-washing the diapers that CD’ing has become less than “environmentally friendly” with all the extra washes and rinses I do to “clean” my diapers.
What I initially adored about this brand of laundry wash was it was created and owned by Sacramento moms. Not only do we like natural and eco-friendly options for our families, but we LOVE supporting our local WAHMs (work at home moms). To learn more about this new mom-owned Sacramento-based company, visit their “about” page. (You can also check out their blog for happy and healthy living choices.)
Step ONE – (Re)Wash the diapers
To begin my trial run of A Happy Green Life laundry wash (Trick-Or-Treat scent), I divided my diapers up into three different loads – wanting to keep the amount of water suitable to the cloth inserts.
The first thing I noticed when using the laundry wash was there were no suds or bubbles. All the other laundry detergents I used in the past has bubbled up (and even RLR revealed MORE bubbles). According to A Happy Green Life’s website, “[they] do not use any soap in [their] laundry wash. Soap flakes leave residue build up on clothes and diapers which is not good. Suds are completely superficial and offer no actual cleaning power.” Interesting. I will never be able to wash my hands without thinking about the useless suds.
Load #1: I had about 6 dirty diapers. First, I ran my usual cold rinse before putting ½ a scoop into the “powder” part of my washer. I noticed a little bit was left in the dispenser. These were dirty diapers, so I set it the washer to “Super Wash” with an extra rinse. They came out smelling normal and didn’t have the same funky sweet smell (aka. diaper stink covered up by the smell of laundry detergent). I tossed them in the dryer on low.
Load #2: I had about 7 clean diapers, but I wanted to rewash with the new laundry wash. I ran a cold rinse before sprinkling ½ a scoop directly on the diapers (in the washer). Since they were clean diapers, I just set it on a normal wash cycle with an extra rinse and tossed them in the dryer on low.
Load #3: Finally, I had about 4 dirty diapers. I first ran my cold rinse then sprinkled ½ a scoop directly on the diapers as I did with Load #2. Finally, I set the washer to “Super Wash” with extra rinse. I also tossed these in the dryer on low.
So far, less fuss and less stench during the washing and drying phase.
Step TWO – Using the diapers
Before nap, I put one of the diapers from Load #1 onto my toddler. So far, I am pleased. No funky smell after the wash. After he woke up from nap, I checked his diaper and there was a mild ammonia smell. Load #2 and Load #3 were the same. They smelled normal out of the washer; they didn’t even smell like the laundry wash. However, after removing them and tossing into the wet bags, I still noticed a mild ammonia smell.
Step THREE – The Verdict
Overall, I am happy with the laundry wash. I am almost relieved the diapers don’t smell sickly sweet like laundry detergent. The smell of ammonia covered up by laundry detergent was almost worse than smelling it for what it is.
Next round of washings, I will try and add more detergent and see if that helps with the smell. I am also tempted to try an overnight soak, but I will have to fill our bathtub and let the diapers sit overnight.
Pros: Great detergent if you are looking for no residue or buildup on diapers. Another plus is no more painful red rashes! Since my son has very sensitive skin (ezcema year-round), we haven’t had another flareup since switching to HGL. (My son is STILL recovering (itchy dry skin) from his last breakout).
Cons: The diapers still have an ammonia smell after he urinates in them. I’m not sure if I will ever be able to be rid of it.
If you would like a sample of A Happy Green Life laundry wash, pick one up at our next Sign, Say & Play series!