Wednesday, September 30, 2009
The question we are asked most frequently with respect to purchasing a nursing bra is "when should I buy my bras?". A lot of women come into the store around 38 weeks under the misguided notion they should have their bras on hand for when their baby is born. In fact, several moms-to-be have told me a certain nationwide retailer advises they purchase their bras a couple of weeks before giving birth -- ignore this advice! Most of the changes in your breasts occur after your milk comes in. Your milk will start to come in 2-3 days postpartum, and for the next couple of weeks, you may experience periods of engorgement as your body adjusts to your baby's needs and schedule. During this period, your cup size may fluctuate wildly -- as a result, the two weeks following childbirth is not a good time to get fitted for your bra. Nursing bras can be a considerable investment, especially if you have larger cup size. -- you want to buy something that will fit for a while, not for the brief time you are engorged.
What should you do for the two weeks after your baby is born? I recommend to our customers that they purchase a tank top with a shelf bra built in (if you've already got one at home, even better!). I specifically recommend the Joe Fresh tank tops, which can be found at most Loblaws, Superstores, Your Independent Grocers, Zehrs, etc., in the sleep department. The beauty of these tank tops is that they offer light support -- when your breasts are engorged, the light support is a welcome relief from the constriction of a proper bra. The other plus of the Joe Fresh tanks tops is that they are quite inexpensive -- only $6.00! They are great for nursing because you can easily access your breasts by pulling down the top of the tank top (the material is a cotton/spandex blend). After engorgement passes, these tank tops make wonderful sleep bras -- it will be the best $6.00 you have ever spent!
If you want to purchase a bra earlier than two weeks postpartum, buy something that offers flexible sizing. The Emma Jane 381 and 385 styles fit cup sizes B-DD, so they're a good choice if you're starting with a smaller cup. They aren't the most attractive bras, but at $40.00 and $50.00 respectively, they won't break the bank. The Bravado Original bra falls into the same category -- at $35.00, it's comfortable and each size will allow for growth in the band and cup, but they're not great daytime bras, especially if you have a larger cup (one word: uniboob!). We do stock bras that are more flattering, and that accommodate a range of sizes, so you will have room to grow. The Bravado Bodysilk is a huge hit with our customers, the M size, for example, fits bands 34-40, and cups B-F (dependent on your band size). Alternately, the Bella Materna Comfort Shape Bralet Full cup accommodates larger cup sizes, thier M size fits band sizes 34-38, and cups D-H (dependent on your band size).
After 'when', the most popular question we are asked with respect to nursing bras is "how many should I buy?". Three to five bras is a reasonable number of nursing bras -- more if you leak a lot, less if you don't leak (and don't worry, not leaking doesn't indicate a low milk supply, it only indicates good fortune!). On a related note, we advise against purchasing nursing pads before baby is born -- if you don't leak, you won't need them. I'm a big fan of only buying things you need, so hold off on the nursing pads until you know you need them.
Once your milk supply is established, you can come in for a bra-fitting, our staff members can help you find bras that are comfortable and flattering. It is amazing how many women come into the store wearing the wrong size bra, usually they are wearing a band size that is too large, and a cup size that is too small. If you wear a bra that fits, the girls will get more support, and you will look and feel better.
This weekend, several cities across Canada will be holding breastfeeding challenges as a way to provide encouragement and support to nursing mothers, and to raise general awareness about breastfeeding. We have donated $5.00 gift certificates to every participant in Ottawa, and in K-W, we have donated larger gift certificates that will be raffled at the challenge.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
I contacted Ottawa magazine to inquire as to the criteria used to choose the businesses listed in their shopping guide, and as I suspected, it's a collection of past advertisers, with a handful of non-advertisers thrown in for good measure. If I would like to guarantee a listing in next year's issue, I should purchase an ad.
So, to keep this short but sweet, if you're a customer, and you've been happy with our service over the past eight years, please let Ottawa magazine know, drop them a line! I suppose at this point, it's a fruitless exercise, but I would really like to see an acknowledgment from them that we exist, and that we're worth the visit. I've worked hard to come up with this business concept, and it's not fair to see someone else taking credit for my hard work!
PS -- I cannot thank you all enough for the customer referrals over the years, I put far more stock in that than I would ever put in any marketing materials...
Monday, September 21, 2009
So, how did it go, you ask? We never even made it to the laundromat, I just hand-washed Gracie's diapers in the hotelroom's sink, and let them air-dry. I washed the diapers mid-afternoon, and they were good to go by the next morning. I must add a disclaimer here that Gracie does not poop in her diapers often, but if she did, paper liners would have helped make the clean-up easier. Surprisingly, her prefolds dried as quickly as the microterry pocket inserts, but I would not recommend air-drying fitted diapers in a hotel room, it took F-O-R-E-V-E-R!
While we were gearing up for ABC, I found out another mom was going to use a diaper service in Las Vegas while she was there, which was a brilliant idea. This particular service would drop-off and pick-up diapers at resorts throughout the city -- genius! I would wager if you're visiting any tourist destination serviced by a diaper service, you would likely be able to sign up on a short-term contract.
We have always brought cloth diapers with us when visiting friends and family, I suppose I've never asked for their 'permission' to wash diapers, but then again, I've never asked for their 'permission' when washing our family's underwear either. I know some people think there's a stigma involved in washing your cloth diapers in someone else's machine, but as we all know, everything washes completely away, you needn't worry about offending anyone. If you plan on washing diapers while you're away, remember to bring diaper-friendly detergent with you! It's also a good idea to wipe down the drum of the dryer with a damp cloth to remove any residue left behind by fabric softener sheets, it could transfer to your diapers and cause repelling issues.
If you're worried about using someone else's machine, for short-term trips (less than 4 days), you could always cart your dirty diapers back with you -- I would recommend a zippered laundry bag for this purpose, the PlanetWise hanging laundry bag is ideal for travelling since you can store both clean and dirty diapers in it.
Some cloth diaper manufacturers are starting to offer compostable, single-use inserts, a throwaway solution that offers a better alternative to disposable diapers. Since these compostable inserts aren't encased in plastic, they biodegrade faster. I'm still on the fence about stocking these inserts, I firmly believe that using cloth diapers 100% of the time is doable (and practical, to boot!), but I know some of our customers use a mix of disposable and cloth diapers. Thoughts, anyone? Yay or nay for the compostable, single-use inserts?
Sunday, September 20, 2009
- Belinda T.-- because you flat-out asked for one, lol, I admire your directness!
- Starrinite -- you were the last commenter in the whole Flip/Econobum debate, I found everyone's answers helpful, I just had to pick one!
- Nikki -- that's a random selection, no rhyme or reason!
Please contact me through the website's "contact us" form to arrange how you're going to get the gift bags. If you're not local, I can mail them.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Speaking of mitts, this is the Calming Mitt. Somebody, somewhere has made the shocking discovery that touch soothes infants. Who knew? But not your touch, sorry. No, no, no. You must put these mitts on and rub your baby. I suppose it's an improvement over the disembodied hands, but still. Really?
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Cotton Babies, the manufacturers of the bumGenius line of one-size diapers, have introduced their new Flip diapers and Econobum diapers at the show, both are one-size concepts.
The Flip diapers basically consist of a cover that has a small gusset at either end, you line it with an insert, which can be either microterry (think a pocket diaper insert), organic cotton, or a biodegradable option. The gist is that rather than change the whole diaper, you change the insert. If I had to liken it to anything available on the market right now, I would say it's quite similar to the GroBaby system, which we already stock. I think one of the big difficulties of getting parents to consider cloth diapers is the overwhelming nature of the decision due to the variety in style and brand that's available. I know that this will likely be considered 'the next best thing', but I'm not sure if there's value in stocking more than one interation of the same type of product -- at what point is 'enough enough'?
Their new Econobum system is a one-size prefold paired with a one-size cover, they are billing it as the 'simple affordable' choice. Call me crazy, but I thought good ol' *sized* prefolds, which have been available for years and years, were the 'simple affordable' choice already.... given that an infant sized prefold is already bulky on a newborn, how would a one-size prefold fit? I've never understood the concept of a one-size cover (which, by the way, many manufacturers have debuted, and guess what? They all look the same!), covers are not an expensive item when you consider they aren't washed with every use, and fit is important... I don't care how good it is, a one-size anything is never going to fit as well as its sized counterpart. But again, with all they hype around these products, people will enevitably ask for them, and I hate to disappoint! Of course, by the same token, I don't want to scare parents off, their eyes already glaze over when we give them the rundown of their available choices.
So what do you think? Do I stock it just becuase it's available and people will ask for it? Or do I spend time and money sourcing products that really offer something new (and worthwhile) to our existing selection? Now that there are so many stores selling cloth diapers (moreso in Ottawa, what is up with that??), I really have to think long and hard about my purchases. Your feedback would be welcome, perhaps these two new lines are gems, and I'm just missing it? I wait with baited breath for your words of wisdom, b/c seriously, I just can't decide myself!
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Saturday, September 12, 2009
We picked up our show badges today, and I got a quick peak at some products. Already see a contender for what-we're-they-thinking, a big toque for your carseat that basically tethers your toddlers head to the seat. I imagine that go over realllly well with any toddler. Not.
I'm excited to sit down with our current suppliers and to get a peack at their new products... it's also fun to pick up new lines, I love the thrill of the hunt! I've always tried to stock unique things, but I've got to admit, it's getting trickier and trickier. Is there anything you'd like to see at your stores? Now's a good time to let me know, lol.
I hear Baby Boom was a success, and the lovely and talented Mary gave a great CD workshop (as always!). Melissa is up tomorrow, she's onstage at 11am, go Melissa!
Looking for a deal? We'll have a deal section, but in limited quantities (my brother is kind enough to watch 75% of our crew while we're in Vegas with Gracie, I didn't want to make too much work for him, he's also tearing down our booth!). What's on sale?
- Sleepy Wraps, regular price $50.00, on sale for $40.00
- CountrySave, regular price $11.99, on sale for $9.99
- Mini-showers, regular price $48.00, on sale for $45.00
- Baby cubes, regular price $7.49, on sale for $5.75
- Safe Sippy cups, regular price $16.50, on sale for $12.00
- Foogo straw cups, regular price $20.00, on sale for $15.00
Interested in using cloth diapers, but you don't know where to start? This year we've made up some sample kits that contain everything you need to give it a go. We created two versions, a one-size (8-35 lbs) and a small (8-15 lbs) kit. Each kit contains a selection of three diapers, a sample of Wonderwash detergent (18 loads), a magnet with washing instructions, and a troubleshooting guide. They are packaged in Thirsties duffel totes, and each one contains a gift certificate worth at least $5.00 (for the small kit) and at least $10.00 (for the one-size kit). We've thrown a few higher value gift certificates into the mix, but you won't know the value until you redeem it -- how fun is that? The kits are priced at $79.00 and $49.00, you're saving $17.00-$21.00 off the regular price.
We have a ballot box at the booth, we're giving away a Thirsties newborn gift set, valued at $65.00. Limited entries, we're only accepting 90 names for the draw. Don't forget to follow along my ABC show trip, I'll be giving away lots of goodies as we receive them... I wish I could be at Baby Boom myself, but Vegas is a close second!
Sunday, September 6, 2009
In addition to all of the gems we get to see at the show, I have to admit, there are a lot of duds. You have to wonder what people are thinking sometimes when they bring certain products to market, perhaps it's the mentality "if you build it, they will come." What products have I seen that I would consider a dud? Well, let's see. There are the disembodied hands to soothe your newborn. Yes, seriously. Can you imagine the nightmares your child will have later in life??? Umm, maybe just actually hold the baby? There's a thought! Of course perhaps I'm not the best judge, I saw these and thought to myself "What a crap idea, that's what spit on a tissue is for!", but it turns out I don't know squat, they're doing quite well, thank-you very much!
The timing of ABC is quite tricky, it's held the same weekend as Baby Boom, an annual parenting show here in Ottawa. This Friday, I will be running around like a madwoman trying to set up for Baby Boom, organize the store for my 5-day absence, *and* pack for our trip, then I'll spend a sleepless night tossing and turning, trying to figure what I've forgotten (believe you me, it's not a question of "if", it's a question of "what"!), then I'll board a plane at 7am on Saturday morning (praying the baby takes her first 3-hour nap, not likely, but you never know!) and hop on down to Vegas (baby!).
Las Vegas is a lot of fun. I'm not a gambler, far from it, I'm far too cheap to just give money away, but there's a lot to look at there, everything is so over-the-top. My husband has spent a lot of time deciding which buffets (yes, buffets) we'll be hitting up (Saturday night? The Bellagio. He claims he will starve himself all day. I know the man, he won't last past 9am!). He also wants to drive out to the desert. Not sure why, I've seen CSI, I know nothing good ever comes of the desert! But I digress. It's a good time.
We just picked up a new laptop yesterday to take with us to ABC, so I'll be live-blogging from the show to keep you up-to-date on our newest finds, and I'll post about the duds we come across this year (seriously, you have to wonder what some people are thinking!). So follow along, because I'll have some goodies to give away! Exhibitors like to give free things away at the show, and as much as I like free things (I actually *love* free things, who doesn't?), I'm going to do some giveaways on the blog to anyone who comments on the Vegas-related entries. My good fortune will be your good fortune!
Thursday, September 3, 2009
- adding too much detergent
- using the wrong kind of detergent
- not using enough water
- having hard water
- washing synthetic diapers (synthetic fibers are more prone to stink)
Here are some general tips to keep the stink at bay:
- wash your diapers more frequently -- the longer your dirty diapers sit, the more likely they are to smell.
- use as much water as you can. If you have a machine that allows you to select a load size, set it one size larger than the actual load (ie, if you're washing a 'small' load, set the machine's load size to 'large'). If you have a machine that adds water based on the weight of the load, add a wet towel to the diapers to weigh the load down.
- use a manufacturer-recommended detergent. Avoid anything with whiteners, brighteners, enzymes, perfumes, and dyes.
- use 1/4 to 1/2 the recommended amount of detergent -- measure it, don't eyeball it!
- add an extra rinse.
- sun your diapers when possible (the UV light can kill odor-causing bacteria).
- line your diaper pail with a wetbag that's washed everytime you wash your diapers (so they're not sitting in a stinky pail).
There are some products you can buy to help prevent diaper stink if it's recurring issue.
bumGenius odor remover quickly eliminates the source of odor-causing bacteria in cloth diapers. Designed to eliminate the odors in diapers and diaper pails, it also works great on pet urine, trash cans and more! It is non-toxic, biodegradable and is completely free of chemicals or oils, detergents, perfumes and solvents. Use instead of deodorizing disks.
Do you think you have hard water? It will affect everything you launder, not just your cloth diapers. Aside from installing a water softener, there are a couple quick, relatively inexpensive fixes. You could add Calgon water softener to your washing routine, it can be found in the laundry aisle at most grocery stores. Alternately, you could use a detergent that contains sodium borate, like Rockin' Green Soap, or CountrySave.
Magnetballs are a reusable option, simply add one to the washing machine with every load. How do they work? Quite simple, actually. As water passes through the magnetic field of the Magnetball or the Universal Magnetrod, dissolved calcium molecules in the water will spontaneously form calcium crystals. The magnetic field in the water will then cause the calcium crystals to break up into smaller, disc-shaped calcium particles that are easily flushed out with the water instead of attaching themselves to surfaces, appliances or clothing.
The result is a drastic reduction in the hardness of the water, because magnetically treated calcium crystals will release several hundred H20 molecules per single calcium molecule. The ability of water to dissolve dirt is therefore greatly increased.
Lastly, we've recently added one more weapon to our arsenal of stink-busters. RLR Laundry treatment. Is has clearly been around for a while, judging from the packaging (what? There's no laundry-related stock photography they could have used from 1990 onwards? I know retro is back, but I'm not sure this outfit qualifies! Do people even wear collared shirts anymore?). But I digress.
This is a product specifically designed to remove detergent residue and mineral deposits from laundry. It is not a bleach, blueing, or detergent. I tried a package last night, and spent about a half hour thrusting random diapers into my children's faces, instructing them to "Smell! Do you smell anything?" The musty smell was banished from even the worst-offending bum wipe, I was pretty impressed. If you regularly deal with cloth diaper stink, adding RLR to your routine on a monthly basis can keep the stink at bay.
So do you want to know what my new HE-friendly diaper washing routine involves? I've tweaked our washing routine according to some of your fabulous suggestions:
- I wash our diapers more frequently. No more 5-7 days between washing diapers, I try to wash them every 3 days. In the house of never-ending laundry, it's not so hard. If you must know, I'm washing our diapers with our whites on a regular basis. Don't tell my children, they'd be horrified if they knew.
- I'm more vigilant about taking the poop off Grace's diapers -- I shake what I can off, then rinse the rest of it off.
- I pour almost 4 liters of water directly on top of the diapers after I've loaded them into the machine (instead of adding a sopping wet towel, which also works).
- I always measure the detergent (no eyeballing), using 3/4 the recommended amount (and I'm sticking to the Nellies).
- I do a hot wash/cold rinse, and I've added an extra rinse at the end of the washing cycle.
We're pretty thrilled with the RLR Laundry Treatment, all instore (Ottawa) purchases and online purchases today through September 6th will receive a free pouch of RLR Laundry Treatment. Try it, you'll like it!