Category Archives: Baby Gear

She’s Crafty: Driftwood Frame Playgym

This is one of the first projects we made for EcoThrifty Baby. We wanted a play gym for her, but were (and still are) trying to avoid plastic as much as possible. Ironic, since tupperware is her ultimate favorite toy at the moment.

Screen shot 2013-06-22 at 9.39.08 PM

ETB chillaxin on her sheep skin under her handcrafted playgym – lifestyles of the rich and famous.

I made the hanging pieces for this playgym from scrapbook paper glued onto cardboard. I tried to pick natural themes and shapes, but also wanted her to have high contrast and bright colors for her little developing eyes.

playgymThe pieces of ETB’s play gym were scrap book paper glued onto thin cardboard.

ETH scoured the beach near our house for a few days before he found the perfect pieces of driftwood to form the base and hanging frame. He then drilled a hole into the base just slightly smaller than the diameter of the piece that he wanted to use for the frame, and sanded it down to make a perfect fit. The base is heavy enough that ETB can’t pull it over if she tugs on the shapes.

Screen shot 2013-06-22 at 9.38.48 PM

Driftwood frame with no glue, no nails.

When ETB was a tiny infant we hung the shapes over her carseat and bassinet. When she transitioned into her bouncy chair, they were her favorite entertainment. Now that she is a crawler, this still sits in the corner of her play area. Every once in a while she still bats around the shapes, but I think her days of really enjoying the play gym might be over (sniff, sniff).

Screen shot 2013-06-22 at 9.37.49 PM

ETB as a tiny bub with her play gym pieces hanging above her.

Screen shot 2013-06-22 at 9.45.16 PMETB is a big girl now and her play gym still sits in the corner of her play space.

Baby Wearing for Beginners

I kind of always knew I’d be into baby wearing. I’m a pretty snuggly gal. But when Eco-Thrifty Baby was born I really had no clue what kinds of slings and wraps were out there, no less how to use them. Luckily we were gifted about 6 or 7 hand-me-down baby wearing devices to try out. Here’s a summary of the ones we tried and kept or ditched.

Screen shot 2013-06-19 at 9.31.33 PM

Screen shot 2013-06-19 at 9.29.23 PM

ETB fully endorses napping on mom.

Fixed length slingFAIL

We were gifted several of these. The most highly recommended was my brother in law’s  self-named “duderus”, a stretchy cotton fixed-length sling which he lovingly passed on to my husband. Passing the torch in an act of brotherly love. Unfortunately the duderus didn’t do it for either of us. It felt too loose, too floppy, and like she might get lost in there. Its possible that it was the wrong size.

Screen shot 2013-06-19 at 9.30.38 PM

 We try out a fixed length sling. Strawberries were good, sling not so much. But it was pretty.

We also tried a non-stretchy fixed-length sling. I think this one was definitely the wrong size. I think I used it twice, but always kind of felt like I had to keep one hand under it or she might fall out. It also kind of hurt my shoulder/neck on one side. Even my little peanut of a babe felt like too much weight just to have hanging off of one shoulder. I wanted to love this, I did. But it just wasn’t for me.

Adjustable sling – Eco-Thrifty Mama: FAIL   Eco-Thrifty Papa: WIN

Eco-thrifty Papa loved a sling that we called “The PeaPod”. It was an adjustable sling that clipped at the top and has drawstrings on both sides so you could cinch them closed. It was easy to get her in and out, even when asleep and he found it really comfortable. I, however, just could never quite shake the feeling that if I took my hand away, she wouldn’t just fall down. So, I ended up walking around with one hand always under the sling. Not very effective.

Screen shot 2013-06-19 at 9.23.56 PM

ETB asleep in “The Peapod”, taking a break from harvesting that cauliflower no doubt.

The Improvised Sling- Obviously a Massive life WIN.

Sometimes we just didn’t have our act together in those early days. And since our baby does her best (read: only) sleeping on me, having some kind of baby-wearing device was totally necessary. When she was little a muslin blanket  with the corners tied over my shoulder worked really well.

Screen shot 2013-06-19 at 10.15.48 PM

Shooting hoops at a work event. ETB slept through the whole thing.

Stretchy Wrap – Eco-Thrifty Mama: WIN     Eco-Thrifty Papa: FAIL

We had “The Ultimate Baby Wrap” and I seriously adored it. So comfortable. So secure. ETB loved being in there and I could do anything in it. See ETB’s first game of tag, below. Really, ETP also loved wearing the stretchy wrap, he just couldn’t be bothered wrapping it. So, as long as I wrapped him up in it, it was a win for him too. And to be honest, it was kind of a pain to wrap, but after a few days I was super speedy and could even take her in and out without re-wrapping.

Screen shot 2013-06-19 at 9.32.34 PM
ETB’s first game of tag. 9 weeks old.

The only problem with our stretchy wrap was that it was really stretchy. So by the time she got to about 3-4 months it seemed like she was too heavy for it, because it would stretch so much. But, it was good timing, because by then she had fairly good neck control so we upgraded to the Ergo. I think I would really love a non-stretchy wrap for ETB now that she is bigger, but haven’t been able to find one in New Zealand. It is definitely on my wishlist for our upcoming trip to America.

Screen shot 2013-06-19 at 9.22.14 PM

Our first time ever baby wearing. ETB about 1 week old. Sooooo little. 

Screen shot 2013-06-19 at 9.25.01 PM

We do the dishes. Doesn’t happen often, definitely worth taking a picture of.

Ergo – WIN WIN WIN

Our Ergo was handed down to us by my sister and brother-in-law, so I already had lots of practice carrying around the ETNeices in it during my many summers of nannying them. We love the Ergo. We started using it fairly early, although I preferred the stretchy wrap until she outgrew it. We used it as a front pack until about 7 or 8 months, and now use it both front and back. Getting in on with her on my back was a superhuman one-person job at first, but is getting easier as she gets better at standing. I don’t know where we’d be without our ergo, it is where ETB does most of her napping and hence is where I do most of my working.

Screen shot 2013-06-19 at 9.25.45 PM

ETB tucked into the ergo at about 3 months.

 Screen shot 2013-06-19 at 9.39.41 PM

Right: Baby belay. ETB is my anchor in the ergo.

Frame pack – Eco-Thrifty Papa: WIN  Eco-Thrifty Mama: 3/4 WIN

We really love our frame pack, and ETB seems to too. We started using it at about 6 months, and had to rig the straps up to make them small enough so she wouldn’t fall out the sides. We like it because it is cooler on our backs, seems to take the weight off our shoulders, and ETB gets to look around more. I still tend to use the Ergo more than the frame pack, but ETP definitely prefers the pack.

Screen shot 2013-06-19 at 9.41.33 PM

Left: We need to invent some kind of holster for the frame pack so ETB can nap in there without me wearing it. Screen shot 2013-06-19 at 9.36.31 PM Right: ETB learning on the job. Laziest apprentice ever.

I hope that was a little helpful to anyone thinking about buying a carrier. I’d love to hear any recommendations from other baby wearers, especially anyone who uses a wrap for their older baby or toddler.

Screen shot 2013-06-19 at 9.44.28 PM

Here is ETB at the farmer’s market with her Aunt Molly selling the world’s best garlic.