With the red yarn cast on 64 stitches on your circular needle. Join with first stitch being careful not to twist the stitches. Begin ribbing in k1, p1 for six rounds.
Switch to white yarn and knit 2 rounds. There is no need to cut the red yarn as the rows are so narrow you can easily bring up the other yarn when you need it.
Continue knitting in stockinette stitch for 25 more rounds changing colors every 2 rounds. Transfer stitches to double pointed needles and begin decreasing as follows (while continuing to switch colors every 2 rounds):
*K2tog, k6, repeat * till end of round
knit 3 rounds
*K2tog, k5, repeat * till end of round
knit 4 rounds
*K2tog, k4, repeat * till end of round
knit 6 rounds
*K2tog, k3, repeat * till end of round
knit 15 rounds
*K2tog, k2, repeat * till end of round
knit 16 rounds
*K2tog, k1, repeat * till end of round
knit 5 rounds
*K2tog, repeat * till end of round
k 4 rounds. Cut yarn leaving a 12-inch tail. Using a darning needle, draw up remaining stitches and weave in all ends.
Seven months have passed since I published “17 Most Essential Infant Items.” A lot has changed since then. For instance, my son is now nine months old and he doesn’t use many of the things on that list anymore. I figured I might as well update my list, thus furthering my contribution to the Internet baby advice world.
These are things I find myself using every day. I’d say they are essential for us, but they may not be for you. Also, keep in mind I’m not including the obvious essentials such as a crib, car seat or high chair.
1. Breast Pump
Most of the items on this list are not in order of importance, but I put a breast pump on the top of the list because it is really one of the most important things I use every single day. I’m a working mom. My son goes to day care. He is still breastfed and in order to keep nourishing him with my milk, I gotta pump. I recommend getting an electric pump if you’re serious about collecting your milk. My husband brought home a hand pump back in the beginning and it was laughable. The Medela Pump in Style works great. It is the dorkiest thing you will ever attach to your body but I’m able to pump once at work to provide my son with milk for the following day. Yes, these pumps are really pricey, but the good news is they are always for sale on Craigslist and it’s really OK to buy a used one. The tubing and parts can be sanitized with Madela’s microwave sanitizing bags or if you’re really creeped about by it, you can buy all new parts. With its über sleek design you’ll be the most fashionable mom at work! (That was rife with sarcasm, by the way).
Now that my boy is mobile, I’m starting to phase out the Jumparoo, but it was crucial for about seven months. As soon as your baby has good neck and core strength, these bouncing harness toys are the perfect place to set him while you make breakfast, take a shower or just take a load off for a little while. They light up, play music and have enough toys to entertain your little one and you know he’s in a safe place. These can also be easily found in the Craigslist and garage sale zone. Don’t bother paying full price for one. Since my son is no longer interested in being stationary, I’m thinking of taking the bouncer to a kiddie consignment shop and trading it for a baby walker.
3. Hydrogen Peroxide
Before I get too carried away with my thrift store mantra (really, you’ll save thousands by buying things used) I might as well tell you how to best clean all the used baby items you acquire. I used to clean toys with a weak bleach solution, but thanks to Pinterest I’ve discovered that hydrogen peroxide is super for cleaning all the surfaces your baby’s mouth will come in contact with (i.e. everything). I just took a sprayer from a spray bottle and screwed it on to a bottle of hydrogen peroxide. I spray his high chair tray and all his toys with it, let them sit for a couple of minutes and wipe them down with a sponge.
4. Softee Blanket
We live in Alaska where blankets are of the essence. This item may not apply to those living in hotter climates, but we use a super fuzzy — some call it minky — blanket every night at bedtime. Someone bought us a really fancy one, but really, you could just buy a $10 fuzzy throw at the store, cut it in half and hem it. I’m in the process of crafting a back-up for our vacation. Yes, most of the time I find my son’s face buried in his blanket come morning but it’s starting to grow on him and the fuzziness soothes him at night (and isn’t self-soothing the ultimate goal here?)
We live in a semi-arid part of the world and a humidifier comes in handy up here especially during cold season. When my son’s nose is all stuffed up, this helps make the air in his room less harsh.
6. Cloth Wipes
One of the few items that carried over from the previous list, the cloth wipe is definitely essential in our household. I still use the wipes I made out of old receiving blankets. I stuff them in an empty wet wipes container, about 24, and wet them with water during diaper changes. Then I toss them into a regular wash. I know wet wipes are pretty cheap, but this is waaaaaay cheaper and I’m saving my baby’s bottom from harsh detergents and chemicals or something. Ok, ok, I’m doing it more for the saving money thing and less for the environment thing. But check out my neato tutorial here.
7. Homemade laundry detergent
Thanks again to Pinterest for showing me the light on homemade laundry detergent. I mix equal parts Oxy Clean, Borax and washing soda and just use a tablespoon per cycle. This is a huge money saver. This is a recipe for cloth diapers, since soap isn’t recommended for them. But you can incorporate Fels Naptha and make a general detergent and you’d still be saving a bundle.
8. Dimmer Switch
I am forever thankful we installed a dimmer light switch in our baby’s room. I should have included this on the first list. We use dimmers to wind things down in the evenings, for middle-of-the-night wake ups and as a general nightlight. No one is chipper in the morning when the light is suddenly turned on. This is an inexpensive and easy fix-up.
9. Internet Radio
Music is great for people of all ages and babies are no exception. I love Internet radio sites such as Pandora or Spotify. I’m really digging Songza because they help you choose the music you feel like listening to at that moment. Babies don’t need to listen to strictly baby music. My favorite Songza playlist is “Songs to Raise Your Kids To,” which is a mixture of all my favorite old tunes. I’ll put on music while getting breakfast ready, in the car and during playtime. Our son is getting into clapping and nothing beats sweatin’ to the oldies.
10. Pack ‘n’ Play
This is a recently acquired item in our house, but I’m happy we have it. This is a portable play pen/crib that folds up really easily. It’s perfect for your more mobile baby when you need to get some housework done because it keeps him in a safe place so you don’t have to worry about his exploring and a chair falling on him (that happened this morning as I was making breakfast). I also use it for nights at Grammy and Grandpa’s house. These run about $30-70 on Craigslist, so definitely buy a used one.
11. Zipper Jammies
If you think your baby is cute, he will be ten times cuter in footie pajamas. Our son practically lives in zip-up jammies. They are super convenient to get on and off, you don’t need to worry about socks and they usually have grips on the bottom of the feet so he can climb around without falling (as much).
12. Coconut Oil
This is the ultimate multi-purpose goop. Coconut oil comes in Crisco-like form and can be found at health food stores and even Costco. Not only is it nice for cooking as a replacement for saturated fats it can also be used for dozens of topical reasons. It’s great for dry skin and cures diaper rash. Check out this list for tons of other uses.
13. Used Toys and Books
You could easily spend a fortune on stuff for your child. Do yourself a favor and get used toys and books. See if your town has a Freecycle Web site. Go to garage sales and thrift shops and keep an eye out for sturdy toys in good working condition. The thrift shop is a gold mine for used books, usually just a few cents each. We have fully furnished our son’s nursery with second-hand toys and I’m happy to say none of them makes electronic noise and our son still loves them. There’s still a lot of love left in his toys for them to be passed on when he grows out of them. Pay it forward!
This is Jack’s first Halloween. I’m not much of a Halloween person. I’m over it. I don’t need to dress like a sexy fill-in-the-blank. I’m not out to impress anyone. I was going to put forth some sort of effort with Jack since I have to address every single milestone in his tiny little life.
I dressed him up as a garden gnome, with a bib fashioned out of white felt to look like a beard and a pointy red hat. Here’s a poor-quality iPhone photo:
The hat is just too cute. I discovered after dressing him in green footie pyjamas that he also looks like an elf (no photo, unfortunately). This means the hat can double up for the holidays while I parade Jack around like the little elf child that he is.
The hat is pretty simple if you know how to knit hats. Here’s how I made it.
1 skein worsted weight yarn
size 9 circular and double pointed needles
CO = cast on
k1,p1 = knit 1, purl 1 ribbing
k2tog = knit two stitches together
With your ciruclar needle, CO 64 stitches. Knit the last stitch to the first stitch making sure the stitches aren’t twisted on the needles. K1,P1 in the round for 6 rounds.
Knit regularly for 27 more rounds. Place marker at beginning of round. Decrease as follows:
k2tog, K6, repeat till end of round
k 1 round regularly
K2tog, K5, repeat till end of round
k 2 rounds regularly
K2tog, k4, repeat till end of round. Transfer stitches to double points
K 3 rounds regularly
K2tog, k3, repeat till end of round
K 3 rounds regularly
K2tog, k2, repeat till end of round
K 3 rounds regularly
K2tog, k1, repeat till end of round
K2tog, repeat till end of round
Cut yarn leaving an 8-inch tail. With a darning needle, weave in all ends. You can alter the pointyness of the hat by knitting more or fewer rounds between the decrease rounds. I like the cupie-doll look.
I’ve been a crafty lady — three blog posts in one day! This craft was the result of my crafty brain not shutting off in the wee hours of the night. I started it at 11:30 p.m.
Baby Jack still isn’t into books — reading them, that is. He loves tasting them and drooling on them. I thought it would be fun to make a felt book with no particular story, since he really doesn’t care at this point. It was fun. I even got my husband involved. He proved far artsier than I, which is why I saved his page for the very end.
Felt always makes me think of crafting in the olden days — back when all I had access to were arts & crafts books from my school library where the copyright date was around 1974. It included projects with toilet paper rolls, ric rac and dried macaroni.
This project definitely brought me back.
What you’ll need:
Tacky glue or fabric glue
Cut your felt pages to the size you like. I used a CD. Sew them together using embroidery thread. Then cut out shapes and glue them to the pages. Let glue dry. Give to baby. Let baby drool on it and eat it. See how long book holds up. I’m giving it a few days.
I swear there are Borrowers living in our house. They have possibly shacked up in our entryway, but I’m pretty sure they have borrowed four pacifiers, two house keys, some rubber stamps and the new hat I just knit for baby Jack.
So here I am at home on a Monday because Jack is sick. I’ve succeeded in making breakfast and putting him down for a nap. I have failed in getting dressed.
Other success — new hat!
Here’s how you can make your very own baby hat with stripes.
Leftover worsted weight yarn. You really don’t need much. Up to six colors.
Size 9 circular and double pointed needles
large fork for pom-pom
k1, p1 = knit 1, purl 1 ribbing
k2tog = knit two stitches together
With your circular, cast on 64 stitches and knit last stitch to first stitch without twisting the stitches. K1, P1 for five rounds with main color. Knit two rounds regularly. Cut yarn leaving a four-inch tail. Start knitting with new color. After a few stitches, loosely tie the ends of the two colors together. You’ll tighten this up later, but it’ll help to do this along the way. Knit 2 rounds of each color until you have knit 20 rounds, not counting the ribbing. Switch back to the main color and knit 7 rounds.
Decrease as follows:
Place a marker if you need to, but I can tell where the beginning of the round is based on the stripes.
K2tog, K6, repeat till end of round
Knit one round
K2tog, K5, repeat till end of round
K one round
K2tog, K4, repeat till end
K one round while transferring to double pointed needles. Or knit the round and transfer stitches — whatever’s easier for you.
K2tog, K3, repeat till end
Knit one round
K2tog, K2, repeat till end
Knit one round
K2tog, K1, repeat till end
K2tog, repeat till end.
Cut yarn leaving a long tail. With darning needle, weave in the tail from the beginning and end.
The inside of your hat should look pretty cool, with all sorts of colorful ends. Tighten all the knots you made and then double tie them. Don’t pull too tightly as you want the stitches on the outside to look uniform. Just play with the tension of the knots before double knotting. I then knot the yarn ends vertically to one anther, if that makes sense, and trim them. I don’t bother to weave these all in since I’m totally lazy about it.
For the pom pom:
Take all the colors of your stripes and wind them around a large serving fork. With a doubled piece of yarn about one foot long, tie the yarn around the middle tine and remove from the fork. Cut the loops and trim pom pom to your liking. Using a darning needle, attach to top of hat. To better secure pom pom, run the yarn back up through the pom pom and back down into the inside of the hat.
In case you haven’t noticed, it’s baby season. In my circle of acquaintances, babies are being born left and right. Although it’s always thoughtful and nice to give a cute baby outfit to a new mom, there are lots of better ways to show new parents you care.
When we had Jack four months ago we had more support from our friends and family than I could have ever imagined. In addition to the adorable baby outfits, here are some of the other things you can give or do for new parents that will mean the world to them.
1. Bring Dinner
Fact — newborns require every fiber of attention in a new parent’s body and sometimes she doesn’t have the mental or physical capacity to feed herself. During the first few weeks of parenthood, my best friend organized a group on Facebook of friends and acquaintances to bring us dinner three times a week. This was quite a feat. Now with sites like mealtrain.com, it’s simple to organize meals for people who need them. We had so much food that there were plenty of leftovers for the days people didn’t bring us anything. Sometimes people didn’t have time to make us dinner so they brought us a hot pizza or Thai food. The best was when a friend made stuffed Italian shells and brought them to us cold so we could pop them in the oven whenever it was convenient for us.Word of advice — if you value your Tupperware, use disposable containers or you probably won’t see them again (although I was very diligent and wrote everyone’s name on the bottom of each container. They were eventually returned).
2. Bring Snacks
Again, I found myself too tired in the beginning to make anything for myself to eat and when our family friends brought us a huge basket of grapes, oranges, bananas, mangoes and apples I was really appreciative. If the parents are meat eaters, an antipasti platter of salamis, olives, crusty bread and olive oil makes for a tasty snack or lunch.
3. Hire a Housecleaner
One of the best gifts we got was my mother hired a woman to clean our house one day. With round-the-clock feedings and diaper changes, cleaning my house was the last thing on my mind. It was a refreshing feeling to find my kitchen clean, my living room tidy and my carpets vacuumed.
4. Do the dishes
My house was abysmal when my son was brand new and I didn’t feel guilty in the slightest when a visitor would come to meet the baby and then do my dishes, take out my trash or fold my laundry. Listen — new moms and dads are too tired to do this stuff. FOR REAL. If they have any sense in them they will let you do these things for them because it simply can’t be done while caring for a newborn 24 hours a day. If you come to meet the baby, take a look around and nonchalantly take care of a household chore. Wipe the kitchen counters, ask where you might find the broom and sweep the floor. Believe me, this was something that helped me relax better in my own home.
5. Don’t Overstay Your Welcome
I loved showing off my new baby boy. We had lots of visitors in the first few weeks. I would just let individuals know when I happened to be awake or cognizant and if they made it over, fine, and if not, we’d work out another time. Lots of people were anxious to visit, but please keep in mind that new parents are exhausted and as much as they want to hang out with you, they may be too tired or just want to be with one another. If you’re visiting and you notice them looking glazed over or not too social, take it as a sign to leave. It’s a little hazy, but in a couple of instances, I may have just left my guests by themselves in my living room because I was just too tired to even ask them to leave. I wasn’t trying to be rude and neither were they, but be sensitive.
6. Babysit for an Hour
If you are closer to the parents and feel comfortable caring for newborns, offer the new parents an hour of babysitting time. New babies need to eat every two hours around the clock so it can be very hard for a new mom to find time for herself. Once a newborn is fed she usually just sleeps, so come over for a couple of hours and once you see mama is done with a feeding let her take a break for an hour or so. If baby wakes up, just bring her to mama. As long as she is fed and being held lovingly you shouldn’t have too hard of a time babysitting a newborn for a short amount of time. These little pockets of free time were awesome, even if I didn’t get any sleep.
7. Run an Errand
If you find yourself at the grocery store with some time to spare, call up the new parents and ask if there is anything you can pick up for them. This was something I really appreciated because I probably shouldn’t have been operating a motor vehicle in such a sleep-deprived state. There were quite a few times were I needed a few more diapers, some burp cloths or wet wipes and not having to get them myself was pretty much the best thing ever.
8. Endure a Baby’s Cry
Hearing my baby cry in the beginning made me anxious. I had fed him, changed him, rocked him and still he’d sometimes cry. Every so often I just needed a break and I really appreciated it when a visitor would take over for even a few minutes. Let mom and dad take a breather from their crying babe, but only if they feel comfortable with it of course.
9. Be Flexible
Did you set up a time to meet your friend’s new baby and she cancelled on you? Don’t take it as a personal insult. When helping out new parents, go with the flow. If you planned on bringing over a meal, don’t stick around — just drop it off and let the parents have their own time. Follow the parents’ cues and don’t feel bad if they don’t follow typical social graces.
10. Send a Card
Call me old-fashioned, but I love receiving mail. If you don’t have the ability to visit or spend much money, then send a congratulatory note to the new parents. It’s an easy way to show you’re thinking of them. I loved each and every card we got in the mail. Being the crafty type, they have been cut up and collaged in Jack’s baby book.
What are some thoughtful things that people did for you when you had a new baby? Leave a comment!