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Friday, February 28, 2014

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Rare Disease Awareness Day

Tomorrow, February 28th, is Rare Disease Awareness Day. According to the National Institute of Health, a disease is considered rare if it believed to affect less than 200,000 Americans. There are about 6,800 diseases that fall into this category meaning about 1 in 10 Americans are affected by one disease or another. Together, it's a lot, but individually, having a rare disease can be scary and lonely, not to mention confusing to people unfamiliar with the disease.

Ginny's condition is called Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia. She has been diagnosed with a specific form called 21-Hydroxylase Deficiency, which in the realm of CAH, is a fairly common cause of the disease. If you really want to get your fancy genetic pants on, she has a genetic mutation of the Cytochrome P450 Family 21 Subfamily A Polypeptide 2 (CYP21A2) gene. Specifically, she has a T & A transversion of the 518 nucleotide causing an Isoleucine & Asaragine amino acid change causing a pathogenic disfunction of the gene. Her DNA variant is homozygous, meaning its the same on both alleles.

CAH is considered a rare disease as it affects approximately 1 in every 15,000 people world wide.

What does this mean? 

It means that people are significantly less likely to be familiar with her condition, the dangers, the signs of trouble, and how to help her. This condition is rare to the point that I could walk into an ER with her in crisis and not have doctors or nurses immediately familiar with what she needs. As a parent, that is terrifying.

It is common with CAH for the child's endocrinologist to provide specific instructions via prescription for EMS or ER doctors to follow. Along with a small bottle of her medication, we carry a copy of this prescription in each car, the diaper bag, my purse, and with her things at daycare. We need to be prepared in the event others are not.

How do you get CAH?

CAH is an autosomal recessive genetic disorder, which means that both Jeff and I were carriers for it. We have no documentation of it in our families, so we never knew. All of our children have a 25% chance of having the disease, a 50% chance of being a carrier, and 25% chance of being completely unaffected. With a specific genetic mutation nailed down, we will likely test Charlie in the near future.

What is CAH?

Remember 10th grade biology? Well, I've recently had to brush up on it. Your pituitary gland (in your brain) releases chemical messages to tell your adrenal glands (on top of your kidneys) what to do to regulate your body.

The pituitary gland releases adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) to tell the adrenal glands to make cortisol. Cortisol is a stress response steroid hormone. It helps to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and heart muscle tone, aids in fat, protein, and carbohydrate metabolism, and activates anti-stress and anti-inflammatory abilities in the body.

People with CAH, however, lack the enzyme 21-hydroxylase needed to convert 17-hydroxyprogesterone (17 OHP) into cortisol. No 21-hydroxylase, no cortisol, no stress response.

When the body is under stress, there is typically an increase of cortisol. For those who supplement cortisol, however, their dose needs to react accordingly. A sudden increased dose of medication in response to an event is called a stress dose. Without this dose, the body can go into adrenal crisis, shock, and eventually organ failure.

Stress doses are typically given...
  • With illness
  • During a fever of 102 degrees or above
  • Before surgery
  • After an accident or injury

Signs of an adrenal crisis include..
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Poor appetite
  • Headache
  • Salt craving
  • General feeling of being unwell

As you probably noticed, these symptoms describe almost any illness - another reason this is scary. As they are happening, however, blood pressure, blood sugar, hydration, and sodium levels can be quickly crashing. If I rush Ginny to the ER because she is vomiting and lethargic, demanding an injection of hydrocortisone, they'd probably think I was dramatic. That is, until I showed them her prescription and/or medical alert band (which we will get when she's a little older).

As parents, its our job to make sure everyone who cares for Ginny is able to recognize the signs of an adrenal crisis and when a stress dose of medication is needed. Friends, family, sitters, teachers - everyone will need to know. It's scary, but manageable.

We are fortunate to have caught this at a young age instead of during an adrenal crisis. She won't outgrow this and there is no cure. She will be on some form of steroid replacement for the rest of her life and that's just how things are. We're not sure what her future brings as women with CAH can be significantly shorter as adults and suffer from ovarian cysts, PCOS, and infertility. Obviously, no one wants their child to have an incurable disease, but we are extremely blessed that she is otherwise healthy and we have access to such caring doctors and nurses.

This day each year is a time for individuals and their families to share the stories of rare disease. Alone, they are rare, but together they are strong. Please visit the Rare Disease Day website if you'd like more information about events across the country.

If you'd like to learn more about Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia or would like to make a donation towards more research, please visit the CARES website.

If you'd like to donate to the Global Gene Project to help fund education and awareness programs as well as community building and outreach, please visit their site here

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My First 5K!

I'm signed up for my first 5K! It is this Saturday and benefits a community project that provides local teens and young adults an alcohol alternative place to just hang out. It is amazing how few things there are to do around here if you're a broke teen and don't want to make bad decisions. I'm excited to run and excited to help support this awesome cause.

I'll be running with Sarah from Sparkly Runner. Check out her blog here! She's an incredibly inspiring individual and runner and I am pumped to do this race with her. Hopefully, I survive and can put my first race in the books.

My goal for this one? Finish in one piece!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Zucchini Carrot Mini Muffins

Yesterday, I posted about trying to find more toddler-ish finger foods for Ginny. I got the idea to make up some mini veggie muffins using my Mom's zucchini bread recipe. This recipe has been around for as long as I can remember. We used to make loaves of bread as gifts for neighbors and friends around the holidays.

The original recipe was delicious, but not super healthy; it called for a lot of sugar and oil. Again, definitely delicious, but for this purpose I wanted to make it a little more kid friendly. Here's what I came up with and so far the kids love them! Charlie calls them "cupscakes." Veggie muffins instead of cupcakes? Sure kid!

Zucchini Carrot Mini Muffins


  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup unpeeled zucchini, shredded
  • 1/2 cup peeled carrots, shredded
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 tsp. lemon zest


Prep a mini muffin pan. I used Pam baking spray, but you can use oil/Crisco and flour. Just get it good and stick resistant. Preheat oven to 350*.

In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and nutmeg. In another bowl, mix egg, zucchini, carrot, applesauce, and lemon peel. Add to dry mixture.

Put one heaping teaspoon full of batter in each mini muffin cup. Now, you're not supposed to eat batter and all that jazz, so I don't condone the consumption of raw egg and yadda yadda. If you DO happen to be a daring batter eater, I must warn you - this batter is freaking delicious.

Bake for 11-13 minutes. Try not to over bake or they become dry. One batch of batter makes about 2 dozen mini muffins.

The fun part about this recipe is that you can swap out the zucchini and carrot for apple or banana or you can swap out the applesauce for pumpkin puree. You can add cranberries, chocolate chips, or granola. Use your imagination!

I plan on sending these little muffins to daycare as a snack or part of lunch. Stick them in the freezer and pull them out the night before you need them!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Toddler Finger Foods

In the ever expanding "Chronicles of the Second Child" we've completely forgotten how to (and that we had to) transition Ginny off a bottle and to more table food. Don't get me wrong, girl loves to eat, but she's still on several bottles a day, doesn't like a sippy cup, and still gets a bottle to bed. I know in the grand scheme of things, we're not "behind," but I feel like we had Charlie off bottles and purees and on mostly table food shortly after one. Whoops, sorry Gin.

Mmmmm pears...
Ginny gets a bottle and puree food for breakfast, three bottles and a little finger food at daycare, a bottle and finger food for dinner, and another bottle before bed. We need to start moving her to a real breakfast, morning snack, real lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner - with a sippy of milk throughout the day. This isn't going to happen over night, nor do I think it should.

First thing's first. Daycare would like us to send more "toddler" finger foods and snacks for Ginny to have throughout the day to start moving away from bottles of formula. Okay.

Wait. What the heck do I send?! And what's this about a "toddler?!" ::faints::

But really, Charlie was in this exact position a little over 2 years ago. How have I completely forgotten what snacks we fed him. Thank goodness for Pinterest and my Mom friends.

Dinner seems to be the easiest - we just cut up whatever we're eating. Breakfast and lunch/snacks at daycare seem to be a little harder.

This is what I've come up with for basic "toddler" foods...

Eggs, toast strips, yogurt, oatmeal, diced up fruit, waffle sticks, dry cereal, pancakes (make ahead and freeze!), cottage cheese

PB & J sandwich, ravioli or tortellini, steamed veggies, hard boiled egg, shredded chicken or turkey, elbow pasta, sweet potato fries, sliced turkey or chicken lunch meat, cheese and crackers, diced up fruit, macaroni and cheese, rice, couscous (though its a huge mess), general dinner left overs

Rice cakes, crackers, Cheerios, diced up fruit, cheese cubes or slices, mini muffins, cottage cheese and fruit, red pepper strips, applesauce

Then there is the Pinterest board I put together on feeding toddlers. That should help too.

Follow Jen's board Feeding Kids on Pinterest.

Now the trick to all of this is actually putting together fancy, fun, bento style meals that look like something off a Pinterest board. Yeah, that's probably not going to happen. This is one of those times that I feel like I'm failing my kids because I work so much.

I need to invest in new lunch box stuff for Ginny now that she'll be getting more than bottles and one little cup of food to daycare. She has a cute Sugar Booger lunch box, so that's a start. I'm on the hunt for a nice, quality bento box style lunch kit.

Anyone out there have a favorite?

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Fitness Fridays: SPI Belt Review

It's been a few weeks since the last Fitness Friday. I blame the weather and that's okay. You can't exactly run in 2 feet of snow! The town doesn't feel the running paths, side walks, or road shoulders are high priority to plow. Stupid town.

Anyway, its a balmy 55 degrees today and while its Saturday, I'm still gonna write about fitness! A few weeks ago, during the middle of our blizzardy blizzard, I spoke with SPI about possibly reviewing one of their products. They were ridiculously nice and excited to send me one to try!

SPIbelt, or Small Personal Item Belt, is a fairly new Austin, Texas based company that makes the absolute coolest belts for exercising, outdoor activities, traveling, carrying medication, etc. Anytime you need something kept close and secure. Their founder, Kim Overton found herself sticking her keys in her sports bra when she ran outside (we've all be there, ladies!) and that wasn't working anymore. She developed the SPI belt - a small, flexible, no bounce solution to carrying your phone, keys, medication, etc.

They come in a ton of color combinations, a few prints (including pink polka dot!!!), as well as high visibility colors.

I know what you're probably thinking - what the heck is going to fit in that little skinny pouch? The answer is EVERYTHING. The pouch is sewn in a way that it expands to fit the things you need while you're out and about.

Don't mind Jeff having it on upside down - he's a crazy lefty and found it easier to zipper this way. ;-)

So what did we think of our new SPI belt? We LOVE it. It fits both of us well, is snug and comfortable, and really is "no bounce." Our phones fit perfectly (he has a Droid Max and I have a Galaxy SIII) and we can safely run without having them in our sweaty hands. We can also fit a key, chapstick, and ID in the pouch with no problem. It is also washable (hand wash only) so it stays stink free.

As we get more into running and eventually start training for our half marathon goal, we will definitely be buying another one of these belts.

Having ID on you when you're out running is so, so, so important. If something were to happen while you're out, people need to know who you are and who to call. We keep a small card in the belt with our name, emergency contact phone numbers, and insurance information. Aside from its convenience factor, this belt is an obvious place that people would notice to check, should something happen to you. Paramedics might not think to check a shoe or one of those little inner waist belt pockets for info.

Stop by SPI's website to see all of the neat products they have to offer. It goes beyond just the belt! They also make pet leashes with the expandable pouch, hand held water bottle holders, racing bib belts and attachments, belts to hold insulin pumps and other small medical related items, expandable messenger bags, reflective and water proof belts, and much more. Support growing, American based businesses and check them out!

**The product was provided free of cost for the purposes of this review. All opinions are 100% my own and I do not review products that I don't believe in or use myself.**

Friday, February 21, 2014

New Make Up & Keeping Busy

It has been quite the busy week! In addition to our normal level of crazy, a pair of stomach bugs kept the kids out of daycare Tuesday and Wednesday. Thankfully, with some Pedialyte and a little TLC (and quite a bit of laundry...) the kids are back to normal.

Aside from all of that, I've been involved in the community production of The Vagina Monologues for the third year in a row. I love being part of this show! If you don't know much about it, check out the Wiki and associated websites such as V Day and One Billion Rising. Its an amazing opportunity to get involved and support fight against violence. Plus, the show is a hilarious, thoughtful, poignant, eye opening look into the experience and plight of women.

The scene I'm part of is called "Short Skirt," which as you can imagine requires me to wear a...short skirt. Well, I'm almost 30 - I'm pretty sure there is a rule somewhere against short skirts for women my age. Luckily, I found a black Adidas running skort that subbed nicely for a real short skirt. Paired with my lipstick red heels and the corset I bought as a graduate student (for some strange reason) and I'm good to go!

Can I just say how weird it is to write about myself in a blog post? I mean, to write about myself when its not really about a baby bump. To REALLY write about myself as an individual. Its weird. Its weird for it to be weird. It shouldn't be weird. This blog can have stuff about me on it. I suppose I just never stopped to consider it.

Along those lines, I bought new make up. I haven't bought new make up in a while and really needed something to even out this newly acne ridden crazy ass skin I've got. Oh, and can't forget to mention the bags under my eyes. I asked around and decided to try out Bare Minerals for concealer and foundation. I've been using Mary Kay and a mix of drug store stuff and it was getting so heavy and sticking to my pores and lines. I got a "make under," or so they call it, at the store and oh. my. goodness. I'm in love.

It covers, it's light, and it lasts. Yeah, it's on the expensive side, but what else do I splurge on? Cloth diapers? Yeah...I can buy myself some make up.

Here's an example of what it does for my skin. The left is freshly washed (notice the blotches and general awfulness), middle is with foundation and concealer, and right is with stage make up for the show tonight.

I don't normally wear that much eye make up, but ya know, stage make up and all. It takes all of 5 minutes to put it all on and it feels so light and nice.

So, I love it. I'm hoping to keep adding to my make up collection and treat myself to some nice skin care things too. Here's to doing stuff for me!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

DIY Cloth Diaper Safe Butt Balm

One of the more difficult parts about cloth diapering is when baby has a rash and you need to break into the diaper rash cream. Regular rash cream is bad for cloth diapers - it gets into the fibers and makes them repeal water instead of absorb it (like it would do on baby's skin). Its really tough to get out, but not impossible. I'll include some ways to get diaper rash cream out of your CDs at the bottom of this post.

There are, however, brands of balm and cream that are cloth diaper safe. They include ingredients such as beeswax, coconut oil, and essential oils instead of zinc oxide. Now, there is nothing wrong with a zinc based rash cream (and sometimes you need to break into the big guns like Butt Paste or Triple Paste for a particularly stubborn rash), but you'll need a barrier to protect your diapers or temporarily use disposables.

I adapted this recipe from my friend Loni who made us a stick of it a few months ago. It works so well I'm making a stick of it to send to daycare. We don't just use it for rashes - we use it as preventative as well. The ingredients are good for your skin, rash or not, so it even goes on dry skin spots. With winter on full blast, its good to have in our diapering arsenal.

My kitchen helper
Ginny's Cloth Diaper Butt Balm


1 ounce Beeswax (about 3 tablespoons when chopped)
1 tbsp Shea Butter Cream
2 tbsp Coconut Oil
1/4 tsp Vitamin E Oil
10 drops Lavender Oil
4 drops Tea Tree Oil

All of the ingredients I purchased were organic and easily found on Overall, it cost about $35, but you can make quite a bit of balm, plus use all of the ingredients for other health and beauty related purposes.


A lot of the recipes I've seen ask for a double boiler, but I don't have one and a mason jar just seemed easier to pour from. Stick a mason jar in the middle of a pot of water and bring to a boil.

As its boiling, chop your beeswax if it doesn't already come in pellets or shreds. Mine came in 1 ounce bars, so I needed to chop chop chop. Put the beeswax in the mason jar and let it melt.

Once its melted, add the shea butter, coconut oil, and vitamin E oil. Let it all melt. I used a wooden shish kabob skewer to stir it a little and break up clumps of the shea butter. That way, I could just throw the stick away when I was done. This stuff can be tough to get off utensils and what not.

Also, shea butter kinda feels like play doh and scoops like ice cream.

Once everything has melted, take it off the heat and add in the lavender and tea tree oils. You can use any scented oil you'd like, I happened to have lavender. The tea tree oil is a good antimicrobial/antibacterial oil to have on hand. Don't use too much though - too much can irritate the skin. Plus, it kind of stinks.

This batch filled the 2 ounce twist up tubes I had perfectly. I ordered these tubes off Amazon in a set of 6 for about $15. They're currently not available for some reason, but you can use any twist up container - even an empty deodorant container that you've used up and cleaned out.

I popped it in the fridge for about 20 minutes to set and it was good to go!

I made a few tubes and one of them had a tad bit extra after filling the larger tube. I used an empty lip balm tube to make a travel sized butt balm. Just do yourself a favor....and label it clearly.

These ingredients have natural healing properties. They are antibiotic, anti-fungal, antiviral, antioxidant, antibacterial, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory...all that good stuff!

This recipe can (and should) be tweaked to reach the consistency you want. If you're putting it in a jar, you may want it to be a bit more like a cream, but in a stick it should be a little more firm. Adding or subtracting different ingredients will change the consistency. Beeswax will firm things up because it has a higher melting point, but coconut oil and shea butter melt at room temperature and will create more of a creamy texture.

Want to win a stick of Ginny's butt balm? Fill out the Rafflecopter below to be entered! One lucky CDing Mom will win a stick of butt balm!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links through I may receive funds through purchases via these links, but it doesn't change the purchase for the customer. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Heart Shaped Crayon Valentines

You know the story. Kids + crayons = box full of broken crayons. Remelting crayons has been a favorite project since I was in Girl Scouts as a kid. Its easy, fun, and gives those old, broken crayons a new life! When trying to decide what to do for Charlie's class Valentine's, I remembered this project and thought I'd give it a go!

At first, I was going to do this with Charlie as a fun afternoon project, but realized that it may not be a good idea to essentially teach him to peel and snap crayons. So, after he and Ginny went to bed, Jeff and I sat and peeled our little box of old crayons. They were in better shape than I thought they'd be, but if you look closely, one of them was held together with a band aid.

A crayon gets a boo boo, so logically it needs a band aid. I love toddler logic.

We didn't keep track of how many we were peeling, so I can't give that number. Just peel a bunch. In other news, this empty Similac can served as an excellent trash can for all our paper scraps while we watched Wreck It Ralph and peeled.

For the mold, I used individual heart shaped silicone muffin cups. You can use a silicone tray of pretty much any shape, but it has to be oven proof silicone so you can pop the crayons out easily. I can't imagine how hard this would be with a metal tray. I got these muffin cups at Michael's for $5 (after a 50% off coupon).

I snapped any whole crayons into 2-3 smaller pieces and loosely sorted them by color. I wanted to be able to keep the number of bright colors even or greater than the darker colors. Place the muffin cups or tray on a cookie sheet for easy transport to and from the oven. Fill the cups with pieces evenly, but it doesn't need to be perfect.

Next, pop the tray in the oven at 275* for 8-10 minutes or until the crayons are completely melted. Carefully pull them out, trying not to swirl the wax up onto the sides of the molds. If you want more color swirls, mix the wax a bit with a tooth pick.

As the wax is initially cooling, take a tooth pick and pop any air bubbles that come to the surface. Try to do this quickly because the middle sets fairly quickly. Air bubbles can make the back (the side you can see) rough and kind of ugly.

Put the tray in the freezer for 15-20 minutes or until the crayons are completely set. Peel back the mold and pop out the crayon. These came out super, super easy - I was actually shocked. Some wax will remain on the sides of the mold, but that comes off with some soap and hot water.

Here are the finished products! From start to finish this project took about 45 minutes, including time to peel the crayons. I actually love the crimped sides; they remind me of Reese's PB cups. Perfect for Valentine's Day! These chunky crayons are great for little hands and color in random, fun patterns. I highly recommend this easy, fast project for rainy days or when you need little gifts or party favors.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Bringing a Toddler to the Dentist... quite possibly the only thing worse than actually going to the dentist yourself. Seriously. I admit, we should have started bringing Charlie to the dentist much earlier than 3 years old, but he is such an anxious mess around doctors, we waited. Apparently, we waited too long.

I thought it was going to be perfect - they talked about the dentist and brushing your teeth last week at daycare. They sang songs, pretended to brush their teeth, the whole nine. A few days ago, we started talking about going to the dentist and practicing saying "aaahhhhh." Unfortunately, I underestimated his hatred for having his mouth touched.

Well, he technically got his teeth checked, but that's about it. All 20 are there, he's got nice spaces between them, and he has no cavities. It took 20 minutes of coaxing and 3 people to hold him down to get to that point, but what can you do. We rescheduled for 6 months and maybe by some miracle he'll be more calm. To avoid this happening with Ginny, I also scheduled an appointment for her, but something tells me that even at 15 months old, she'll be significantly more cooperative!

Any secrets out there for getting kids to cooperate at the dentist? I hope this isn't a regular occurrence with this kid. He needs to take care of those teeth!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

109 Life Hacks for Parenthood

I've learned first hand that it does indeed take a village to raise a child. Over the past few years, I've met hundreds of amazing Mothers through online forums and chat groups. The wealth of knowledge and experience is staggering! If you've got a question or problem, chances are someone has dealt with it and can at least commiserate with you, if not give you the perfect solution. I asked them what their favorite newborn, infant, and toddler "hacks" were and this is what they told me.

What's a hack? According to Wikipedia, a "Life Hack" refers to any productivity trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method to increase productivity and efficiency, in all walks of life; in other words, anything that solves an everyday problem of a person in a clever or non-obvious way.

Sounds like exactly what parents need. So, here they are; 100 Moms (and one Dad) spoke and these are their favorite hacks. Some are Pinterest inspired, so I've included links where appropriate.

Breastfeeding & Bottle Feeting
  • If formula feeding - don't heat up the water, just mix it with room temp. If baby has never had warm milk they won't demand it ever! - Kate
  • I always kept my pump parts in a plastic bag in the fridge so I didn't have to sanitize after every pumping session. I also had 3 sets of pump parts so I never ran out. - Jessica S., MO
  • Test your frozen breast milk stash occasionally, to make sure your LO will take it, otherwise you're taking up freezer space for nothing... -  Michelle M. 
  • Put all of the supplies you need to breastfeed (breast pads, a snack, lanolin, water bottle, etc.) in a little tote so you can grab everything with one hand when you sit down to nurse.  
  • When my son was nursing and used a nipple shield, I kept it in my nursing bra so I never had to run and get it, and it kept it warm. - Kate 
  • Put a clock in babies room so when you doze off during a midnight feeding, you'll know how long you were asleep. - Lisa B. 
  • Our Keurig is fantastic for reheating breast milk. It makes a cup of hot water in under 60 seconds; just pop a bottle in there and its warm in a few minutes. 
  • Freeze bags of breast milk laying flat, then store them standing up. Baskets from the dollar store work well to organize everything by date. 

Starting Solid Food
  • Use a travel formula dispenser for baby cereal. It makes mornings quicker when you can just dump and go. 
  • Attach a Command hook to the back of the high chair to store bibs out of baby's reach, but within yours. - Erin, MA
  • When you make purees, store it in ice cube trays and throw it in the freezer. Then you can just thaw out individual servings when you're getting ready to feed your baby and it doesn't take up much room! - Alissa W.
  • When they are learning to eat solids you can shred a lot of food with a cheese grater. It makes prep super quick for apples and carrots or anything hard you are afraid they might choke on. - Jamie S. 

Toddler Feeding
  • I slice up veggie strips (green peppers, carrots, etc.), put them in a snack cup and take that as our on the go/car snack. He's a captive audience then and it's in a fun "snack" cup so he's more likely to eat them. - Lauren R., GA
  • Put rubber bands around a cup to create more grip for little hands learning to drink from an open top cup. 
  • When eating a popsicle, punch the stick through the middle of a muffin cup to catch drips.
  • Be creative! If your toddler wants to eat in the high chair and pretend to be a baby, but it helps them to eat their dinner, go for it! Offer to add "sprinkle" (parmesan cheese) to their veggies. Play a game where they close their eyes and guess what the bite of food is, etc. - Becky M.
  • Carry a pair of kitchen scissors in the diaper bag for cutting up toddler food on the go. You can cut a slice of pizza in a fraction of the time.
  • Use a toothbrush holder to store bendy straws in the diaper bag. Most restaurants don't have them, but they make it much easier for a toddler to drink from a cup.  
  • Sprinkles make anything "magic" and special. Even if its a just a muffin or smoothie.

Diapering & Potty Training
  • You can pull most onesies down, instead of over the head, for an explosion/leaks. - Lauren M., CA
  • Double (or triple) wrap sheets/mattress pads. It makes middle of the night accidents a lot easier to deal with! - Jessica K., FL
  • Line potties with disposable grocery bags. - L.P.
  • If you are potty training a child you previously cloth diapered, the microfiber inserts from the diapers are great for soaking up accidents from the carpet. 
  • Skip Pull-ups (there's no motivation to stay dry) and go straight to undies, ones they choose from the store themselves. - Nicole
  • I warmed baby wipes in my cleavage for my little one. Lol, weird but he didn't scream for changes if I did that. - L.P.
  • For road trips we kept the kiddie potty in the backseat so I wasn't taking him in and out of nasty rest stop bathrooms. We would pull over at a rest stop and he could go in the parking lot. - Christie H. 
  • When potty training, instead of rewarding with candy give them gummy vitamins. We did sticker for pee, vitamin for poop. - Rachel M, MA
  • Put a line on the wall under the toilet paper roll (painters tape is good) to help little ones grab just the right amount of toilet paper they'll need. 

  • Keep extras everywhere. Diapers, clothes, snacks... keep them in the car, some in different rooms in the house, makes for less mad scrambling when you have a blow out or forget a diaper bag. - Paige H., NC 
  • Keep a pad of sticky notes and pen in a central location of your house to jot down "milestones and memories" with the date. Compile into the baby book as you have time. You may not have time until baby is 7, but at least you have the sticky notes! - Michelle M.
  • Put your babysitter information sheet in a picture frame so you can update the information (when you'll be back, what number to call, the kids' bedtime, etc.) with a dry erase marker. 
  • We keep art supplies in empty wipe boxes. One has markers, another chalk, another crayons, and another stickers/pompoms etc. could use formula tubs too. - Erica, CO
  • Get a Planet Wise wet bag and keep it in the diaper bag for soiled clothes. - Becky M.
  • When you get a new toy, count all the pieces and write the number on the bottom of the box or bin. It makes clean up a lot faster when you know if you've got all the pieces.  
  • Take pictures of clothes and baby gear that are lent to you by family and friends. You'll know what goes back to whom when its outgrown. - Mary M., VA 
  • Over the door shoe racks can organize anything! Art supplies, dolls, trucks, etc.
  • Take pictures of your kid's artwork so you can save it without hoarding a pile of construction paper cut outs and finger paintings. 

Baby Proofing
  • Cut a piece of pool noodle about 6 inches long, then slice down one side to open it up. Stick it on a door to create a slam proof finger saver.
  • Put jingle bells on a few branches of your Christmas tree. It will alert you to curious hands getting into the ornaments. 
  • Use ribbon on plastic ornaments for branches that are in reach of the kids. 
  • Before your baby becomes mobile, have a toddler come over and play for an afternoon - they'll quickly show you things you might want to consider baby proofing. 
  • For a longer term fix, cut a door in half creating a "Dutch door" instead of using a gate. 

Cleaning & Laundry
  • Put a lingerie bag in the hamper for socks. Haven't lost one yet!! - Lauren M., CA
  • Baby wipes will take most food/formula stains off microfiber furniture. Test it first! But it hasn't failed me yet.  
  • Use diapers to get spilled coffee/liquid of carpets. It gets sucked right up! - Catherine G.
  • If you have a particularly nasty poop accident and can't get the raw sewage smell out, soak in water and a little Dial soap for 1-2 hours before laundering normally. - Christine H. 
  • Vinegar and hot water sanitize washable toys easily and effectively without the use of bleach.
  • Laying stained clothes out in the sun will help remove stains from poop and puke. Wash them first, then lay them out while they are still wet.
  • A hair dryer can help get stickers off places that shouldn't have been stickered. 

  • If you're going shoe shopping without your kids (lucky you!!) trace their feet so you can get them sized appropriately. 
  • Write down your child's size in various clothing items and corresponding seasons when you go to a consignment sale. It can be so hectic, you could forget what you're looking for.
  • Organize your toddler's clothing by outfits, making it easier for them to pick things out in the morning.
  • Keep space in your child's dresser (or somewhere in the room) exclusively for outgrown clothes. Having a place to put them when you realize they're too small keeps them from showing up back in the cycle of outfits.
  • Use a barrette to pull together the straps on the back of a tank top or bathing suit that is too loose. 
  • Cut a sticker in half and put each half inside your toddler's shoes. It'll remind them to put the shoes on the right feet. 

First Aid
  • Organize kid medications and first aid in a tackle box or caboodle. It will be easy to find things in the middle of the night or in a pinch. 
  • We sometimes store his extra little lovey blankie in the freezer. Even though he has a boo boo bunny, he much prefers the cold lovey. - Lauren R., GA 
  • Make a baby heating pad with rice and an old sock, heat in microwave about 10 seconds. Work wonders on colicky/gassy babies. Test it before putting it on baby!! The rice will cool slowly so it isn't hot hot. - Kristen K., IL
  • Use a red washcloth on a skinned knee or any injury involving blood. It disguises the blood, helping keep the child calm. 
  • Keep track of medication dosages on a white board somewhere highly visible. It prevents double dosing or forgetting meds. 
  • My son often gets dry/chapped lips, but doesn't like the Aquaphor/Vaseline feeling on them, which is really the only thing that helps. I wait until he falls asleep, sneak in with a nightlight and put it on him while he's sleeping. Never knows the difference! - Lauren R., GA
  • We do something similar, except mine get eczema really bad on their hands. I sneak in after they're asleep and put cortisone on (it's their RX), and then aquaphor on top and put socks over their hands. It helps it soak in, and they don't take the socks off since they're asleep already. Their hands are so much better in the morning. - Regan G.
  • For teething, put a dab if applesauce in a washcloth, twist the cloth and freeze. - Anita L. 

Bath Time & Hygiene
  • Use a laundry basket in the bath tub for when baby is still wobbly sitting up. It also keeps their toys within reach! - Mary M., VA
  • I use a peri bottle in the bathtub to keep the water out of her eyes when rinsing. Also, to get off nasty poops! - Amanda H. 
  • If your little one doesn't like their hair being rinsed, put a small poster or picture on the ceiling for them to look at while you rinse. 
  • Find a toy that plays a short song and keep it on the bathroom counter. Use it to time teeth brushing - much more entertaining for busy toddlers.
  • Clip your toddlers nails during story time. My son is usually calm and ready for bed by then, so its easy to clip his nails without too much fidgeting. 

Baby Sleep & Soothing
  • Doesn't work for every baby, but if you're out of ideas and the baby is still crying, show them the ceiling fan. It's somehow mesmerizing. - Sara F., OH
  •  You can download tracks of vacuums and hair dryers to play for colicky babies. Don't blow out your vacuum running it 6 hours a day.  
  • Get a comfy rocking chair (think big la-z-boy recliner/rocker) for the long nights when Your child won't sleep anywhere but on you. Your butt and back will thank you. - Jill, CA
  • Keep your birthing ball - its great for bouncing baby to sleep. - Amanda H.
  • If you're trying to rock a baby to sleep, don't hold them tightly. Let their head kind of loll back and forth as you rock and that will put them to sleep faster. It really does work! - Jillian, NJ
  • Lay a heating pad (on warm, not hot!) where baby will lay down. After you feed/rock them, remove the pad and place them down. The warm sheets will help them get comfortable. - Kristin R.

Toddler Sleep & Naps
  • If she's having a hard time settling in at nap or bedtime I threaten to (and sometimes do) take away her barbies or stuffed animals because she's "keeping them up and they need their sleep." Works like a charm! - Sheri B. 
  • Listen to the same song/few songs (that you like) over and over again while you are pregnant and in the newborn phase whenever baby is sleeping. Playing the song/songs when the baby is older will help to calm them (great for in the car!) - Astrid, NY
  • Stick a pool noodle under your toddler's fitted sheet, along the side of the bed, to act as a roll off guard while they're learning to stay in the bed. 

Travel & Outdoors
  • Small to go containers (usually used for dressing or condiments) are the perfect size to hold a pacifier and keep it clean in the diaper bag
  • Keep a swim diaper/bathing suit and towel for each kid in the car during the summer. You never know when you'll stop for a quick dip.
  • For playing in the snow, put them in a one piece fleece footie PJ under their snowsuit. Keeps their legs from getting exposed and they stay plenty warm! - Beth L., NJ
  • When traveling, pack kid outfits in quart size zip lock bags - clothes, socks, and accessories. 
  • Keep extra clothes in a Ziploc bag in the diaper bag. That way you have some where to put wet/messy clothes to keep them contained. - Lisa B., WA
  • If you use a swim diaper and it wasn't dirtied, you can dry it out and use it again.
  • Practice using the car seat before the baby is born, use a stuffed animal that has a vaguely human shape so you can get a feel for maneuvering arms and legs. Do it over and over and make everyone who will do it practice and then check each others work. - Jennifer W. 
  • Baby powder will take sand off little feet and legs.  
  • Use painters tape to baby proof a hotel room. It can keep drawers closed and cover outlets without damaging surfaces. 
  • Put small ankle weights on the front wheels of your umbrella stroller so the diaper bag doesn't tip it backwards. 

Toys & Play
  • Buy batteries in bulk! Baby toys take odd numbers of the most random battery sizes. - Jill, CA
  • Use a fine point Sharpie to write the amount and type of battery a toy takes on the compartment cover. You'll know what batteries to grab (and if you actually have them) before you undo the 40 tiny screws to open the compartment. 
  • When they are really tiny, have a place in every room to safely set them down. No need to lug the bouncer all over creation. - Lisa B.
  • Empty ketchup bottles make for easy toddler "water guns" without the difficult trigger or need for a "gun."
  • Put paper and finger paint in a zip lock taped to the window, that way it's contained but they can still create master pieces. - Regan G.
  • Tape over small empty cardboard container lids (soup, cereal, cocoa) and let them use it in play kitchen - Catherine G.
  • Egg cartons hold paint for projects, then can be thrown away. 
  • If you don't have the space to build a permanent play area for baby, get a big tote bag and throw all the stuff you use for floor play in it and keep it in the corner. It makes it easy to set up and break down and doesn't leave a mess. - Jennifer W.
  • My daughter watches me get ready in the morning. I sit her outside the bathroom door and hand her her toothbrush. She will often "brush her teeth" while I do. - Kerry D.
  • Get cheap laundry baskets and split up your kids toys and rotate out laundry baskets so they have 'new' toys every week or two so they don't get bored with the toys they're playing with. - Jill B. 
  • Take the batteries out of a video game controller and let them play along side you. Chances are, they'll never realize it. - Jeff

Toddler Behavior & Independence
  • At the grocery store I let them pick a fruit pouch and if they hold onto it the whole time they can eat it when we get in line. Keeps little hands from grabbing things and keeps them occupied in line. - Erica, CO
  • Let your toddler pick out his/her clothes in the morning to avoid a meltdown and give them some independence. - Jacqueline W., RI
  • Practice writing by putting worksheets (you can find a ton of free ones online) inside a page protector and letting your toddler user a dry erase marker to trace the letters. They can erase and try again and you don't waste paper. - Becky M.
  • When a new baby is introduced to the family, make big brother/sister a helper. They are so willing to get diapers or binkies and they feel important. - Jacqueline W., RI
  • Make chores the reward - "if you are really good I'll let you take the trash out." - Michelle B.
  • I put tights under leggings (or regular weight pants if it is really cold) to prevent lost socks on my almost 2 year old. Try as she might, she can't get them off. - Michelle G., WV
  • When teaching my son how to put on mittens we do "thumbs up" and put the thumb on first. - Christie H. 
  • Find toddler sized chores to keep them busy. Toddlers can dust, match socks, put away silverware, clean up their toys, feed the pets, etc. 

  • Let your husband help in the beginning, let him do it his own way. He will find a groove for himself and baby and the more you help the more he feels pushed aside and retreats back.  - Kristin K.
  • Instead of trying to guess what diapers and formula 'might' work for new baby (and then having to store it all!) pick a store and invest in gift cards. Instead of buying a case of diapers each week while preparing for baby, get a gift card. That way you can choose what you want, when you want, and gift cars take up basically no space! - Denise H.
  • Research everything and then go with your gut. If you try to listen to all the advice and tips you get you will go crazy! - Jill B.
  • Let your husband have a "thing" so that he has a little one on one time with baby. Since I breastfed, he wanted his own special time too, so the first 5 months bath time was HIS time. - Shaylynn T.
  • In all expectations and consequences, be consistent. It's hard when you're tired and worn down but you will reap the rewards if you remain consistent. - Chanda H.

Have any to add? What are your tried and true parent hacks?