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Your Online Magazine for Moms
August - September 2009 ~ Issue # 019

If you were to open up a baby's head -
and I am not for a moment suggesting that you should -
you would find nothing but an enormous drool gland.
~ Dave Barry

This quote always makes me laugh. Drooling, sticky babies are nasty on any other kid but yours. Have you noticed that?

And since this issue is focused around the teething process, I thought a quote about the floods dripping down his chin and soaking his clothes was especially appropriate.

I'm proud of how this issue turned out, and am confident you'll find it helpful. I'm particularly excited to share with you a new cost-saving solution to your laundry detergent woes. As always, I'd love to hear your feedback. Contact me with any questions, suggestions or thoughts!





I Smell...A Contest Coming

Yes, the time for our annual "Cutest Halloween Baby Contest". This year I've got some great prizes in the cooker! Check out last year's winner. Watch for a special announcement in your Inbox to launch the start of the 2009 Cutest Halloween Baby Contest!

If you haven't thought about your baby's Halloween contest yet, let me direct you to The Ultimate Baby Costume Gallery. This gallery shows you all the baby costumes from the top 9 costume sellers online. It also shows you their prices so you know you're getting the best deal.


Finally! Get EiR Blog Alerts in Your Inbox!

As per the requests of many, I have updated the Essential Infant Blog format by merging it with Feedburner. This makes signing up for the blog a lot easier. It also gives me the ability to ping your email when a new page has been added. If this interests you, add your email to the box below.

Enter your email address:

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In Case You Missed It...

Here are some of the newest articles at The Essential Infant Resource for Moms (EiR) you may have missed.

  • How to Deliver Teething Relief ASAP to Your Hurting Baby
      Why isn't this article hyperlinked? Because it's this issues Feature Article! You can find it on page three.
  • The Ultimate Infant Halloween Baby Costume Directory
      Born out of my own frustration, of finding an adorable baby costume one place, only to find it again (cheaper!) somewhere else...(or even worse, finding a cuter costume altogether) I have researched the 9 largest online costume stores for their baby costumes. In this series of articles, you'll see all their baby costumes, organized neatly in categories, and priced so you can tell at a glance which store has the best price.
  • All Natural Teething Remedies for Your Suffering Infant
      It's a common dilemma. You want relief for your teething baby. However, you'd prefer to use all natural teething remedies, instead of drugs. There's an abundance of wacky suggestions out there for teething. Here are the NON-wacky natural solutions worth trying.
  • Make Your Own Teething Biscuits at Home
      Even if you're no Martha Stewart, you can easily make your own teething biscuits at home. And since you're making them, you can control what's in them. Take out the sugar. Up the fiber.
  • The Designer Baby Bedding Dilemma: Store Reviews to Help You Choose
      Now that my third baby is growing away inside, I'm on the prowl for a new set. Here are several stores I've turned to in the past, and some new one's I'm contemplating for my next "collection".
  • Savings Alert! New Baby Coupons for You!
      From discount stores to posh-boutiques, every store has sales at sometime. It's just a matter of catching them when they do. This article is the net that will filter out the savings on all of them.
  • A Simple Teething Schedule for Busy Moms
      Why is a teething schedule helpful? Because babies teethe in spurts. Knowing the baby teeth order to expect cuts back on guessing. You can "out-smart the mouth" by knowing where to look first.
  • Baby Clothing Stores: Reviews and Recommendations
      I want original clothing (designer would be heavenly) without spending like a celebrity. Take heart...the Perfect Storm of savings and style has arrived. In this article I'll review (and rate) some seriously top-notch baby clothing stores.

Mentor Mom Questions

Here are some of the questions posted in the "Ask a Mentor Mom" section of the website since the last issue.

The Merry Mother Survey


How Do You Get Your Baby to Go to Sleep? ~ Results From the Last Merry Mother

The votes are in. Here's what you said:

  • 36% of you said you nurse your baby to sleep.
  • 21% of you chose rocking and singing until sleep happens.
  • 14% of you shared the routine of book, bottle, bed as your easy-breezy bedtime routine.
  • 14% of you also admitted to rubbing her back and then sneaking out of the room.
  • Only 7% said you offered comfort at first, but then allow some crying until he/she learns to fall asleep on his/her own.
Besides the standard answers, several of you took the time to share your own get-to sleep secrets. Here's a sample of what you said:

  • Bottle, music, patting his behind. (Music! That's something I haven't thought of before nigh-nigh! Great idea!)
  • Bath, Sippy, Book, Bed (Sometimes simple is best...)
  • Read Babywise: Feed, Keep Awake (play, change diaper,etc.), then put to bed. (I agree, this system has gotten both my girls sleeping through the night at 8 weeks.)
Thanks for your participation!

Pages Coming Up at the EiR:

If you haven't already, sign up for the Essential Infant Blog and be notified the moment these pages are online.
  • 2009 Best Baby Toy Winners
  • The Great Teething Fever and Diarrhea Debate
  • Free Teething Chart for Your Baby Book
  • Breastfeeding Tips for Working Mothers
  • The How-To Manual to Find Great Daycare
  • Everything You Need to Know About Newborn Vaccinations

New iPhone Applications for Parents

Super Baby Tracker
tracker 2
Baby Tracker: Nursing

Super Baby Tracker

Hooray for iPhones (and iPod Touch)! Now you can track diaper changes, medical histories, feedings, sleeping time, etc. on your touch screen.

It's especially useful when he's going to Grandma's for the day, since all you have to do is tell her to watch the screen. It will tell her when to feed him (and you can add what he should have), when it's nap time, etc.

Baby Tracker for Nursing

For those of you nursing moms, another application for your iPhone or iPod Touch is the Baby Tracker for Nursing. It helps you track which breast you started with last time and how long you've been feeding on each side. I'm positive you'll find it extremely useful!



Lugging the kids from store to store has lost its luster, and ordering in my pajamas at 6 am in the morning has become somewhat of a shopping tradition.

Due to this site, my Inbox is regularly flooded with new baby coupons and promotional offers. Unfortunately, I don't have the time (nor the cash) to use them all. Fortunately, I have this site (and newsletter) to pass them on to you.

And I do. I upload them weekly (well...whenever they come in, which is most often weekly) into this Baby Coupon Code Alert article so you can use them to your bargain-shopping heart's content.

Since the page is updated frequently, I recommend subscribing to the Essential Infant Blog. This will notify you (via email if you so desire) when new coupons have been added.

Since there are too many for me to list here, I've gone through and listed those with the biggest savings and best deals. Consider this the "Cliff's Notes" version of the Baby Coupons article.

banda bib

Bazzle Baby

Bazzle Baby makes mom (and celebrity) favorite bibs, burpers and binky clips. Creator Amanda Davis designed the original award-winning BandaBibs for drooling and dribbling babies. (Which is ideal for your little teether.)

Her designs have also won awards from iParenting Media, Parent Tested Parent Approved Media, and "Best Products for Baby & Children" by Orca Communications.

Use coupon code THANKS and get 15% off your entire order.

Visit Bazzle Baby.


eBeanstalk Toys

eBeanstalk Toys is not a "normal" toy store. All their toys are researched and categorized according to your baby's age and developmental stage. That makes finding a toy your baby will actually play with easy.

They also offer wonderful "gift series" programs that send you a new developmentally-appropriate toy every 3 months. So as soon as your infant is getting bored with a conquered skill-toy, a new (more difficult) toy arrives to challenge him.

Use coupon code FREESHIP$65 and get free shipping on your order. (It's not too early to start thinking about Christmas!)

Visit eBeanstalk Toys.


Hartstrings Clothing

Hartstrings specializes in well-made and adorable clothing for babies and children. It's one of my favorite clothing boutiques online. They are currently offering a variety of really good deals (the last one being the best).
  • Current sale going on for savings between 50% and 70% off end of season clothing.
  • Current contest lets you enter to win a $150 shopping spree
  • Free shipping on orders over $75 with coupon code BTS75. Or, spend $125 and use the same code for free shipping and a 15% off discount.

Visit Hartstrings.


The Children's Place

childrens place
An old favorite, The Children's Place has an amazing online store that is (most often) less expensive than their walk-in mall sisters. (Surprising, but true.)

If you shop the off seasons, you can find clothing for your children at 80-85% off discounts (that's practically free!) "Monster" sales often have clothing under $7.99, with an additional 30% off.

They offer flat rate shipping ($5) so stock up and order happy.

Right now you can get 15% off any purchase with the coupon code FA79. Expires September 7th.

Visit The Children's Place.

Past the 7th? See the new coupon on my "Savings Alert" page.


Cook'n Recipe Software

weekly meal planning 3
Over the past 10 or so years, I've discovered the wonders of meal planning. Easy meal planning is an invaluable tool that can lower your stress level by double digits.

The easiest way to meal plan is to use a recipe organizer. My software of choice is Cook'n. Read my comprehensive review of Cook'n here.

Cook'n has generously provided me with an exclusive 30% off discount coupon for Merry Mothers only.

Use coupon code infants30 to get your 30% off discount on the CD or download version of the software.

Visit Cook'n for a free demonstration.


How to Deliver Teething Relief ASAP
to Your Hurting Baby

teething relief
Your infant is screaming for teething relief.

If he could talk, you know he'd be wailing "Do something Mommy!". And you sit there...stressed...overwhelmed...exhausted.

Convinced you're failing your first "real" parenting test.

Teething is very rarely convenient. Usually, it will hit right at bedtime, or, worst of all, in the middle of the night.

Or perhaps at Grumpy Aunt Grace's house, and she's looking at you with an expression of "Fix him already!" and you're scrambling to rock, walk, feed, anything to get him to calm down.

He doesn't cooperate. He's hurting and you're supposed to fix it.

Yikes! Talk about pressure! (Does it show that I'm speaking from experience here?) smiley

Parenting is, in my opinion, easiest when you're at least somewhat prepared. If you have at least some vague idea of how to handle a temper tantrum, you won't respond in anger and frustration when you have to deal with one.

If you've seen a diaper changed, you're less overwhelmed when you're facing your first massive mound of poop.

Teething is the same way. Reading ahead (or, at least during) will lower your blood pressure and help you know what to do when it happens. Because, there's a strong chance that your baby will struggle with teething.

(There's also a chance that he will breeze right through. But do you really want to take that gamble with each tooth?)

This article will provide some information to tuck away in your brain (and suggestions to tuck into the diaper bag) and pull out when Teething Day finally arrives, and for each day it comes around again. After all, he does have 20 teeth to go!

Side Note: Obviously, before you start treating her, it may be a good idea to make sure she's teething in the first place. Read through my article on "Reading the Signs of Teething" for an easy teething checklist.

Teething Relief:
Stocking Your Arsenal

As you anticipate your child's adventure in teething, it's a good idea to stock up on some teething supplies ahead of time. (Trust me, 2:00 in the morning is not the time to discover she's teething!)

You don't have to purchase all these items, just choose the ones that seem to fit your family and lifestyle the most. In some cases, it may be helpful to purchase two, and keep one in the diaper bag at all times for emergencies.

If you prefer to help your baby teethe naturally, don't miss the list of "All-Natural Teething Aids" for stocking suggestions.

teething relief 2
  • Plenty of washable bibs.

      Start with small cheapo-deapo bibs to catch drool. If your little guy ends up drooling like a faucet, you may have to upgrade to bibs made from a heavier-material or even plastic. The goal is to keep his neck as dry as possible to prevent bacteria from settling down and creating a rash.
  • Vaseline (Petroleum Jelly).

      Rubbing a little Vaseline on his chin and neck before nap or bedtime (when baby isn't wearing a bib) will further protect his skin from bacteria-caused rashes.
  • Baby-safe teethers.

      I realize you can pretty much find teethers anywhere. However, there really is such thing as "a waste of money". I've researched which teethers parents like the most, where you can find them (I don't sell them here), and how to use them for maximum effectiveness. You can see my teether research here.
  • Infant medicines and teething medications.

      Some are better than others, and some are down-right dangerous. See my discussion at the bottom of this article for what works best.
Now that you have an "emergency stash" of items that will come in useful when the expected happens unexpectedly, let's turn our attention to the actual tips and techniques that will give your baby teething relief, and you some extra sleep.

Teething Relief:
Starting Small

If you suspect teething is the culprit (these teething signs can help you decide), starting with the simplest approaches to teething relief is often best.

Keep in mind that your baby is an individual and will decide on his own which remedies he likes and which he doesn't. What worked on your friend's baby may not work for yours. I recommend trying the simple solutions first, moving towards medication slowly. You may be able to skip medication all together, or limit it to strictly night-time use.

  • Massage the sore gums with your finger. If she doesn't already have teeth, allowing her to gnaw on your finger for a while will greatly serve her. Gnawing on things helps to equalize the pressure she feels forcing the tooth up. By countering that pressure with chewing down, she provides momentary relief.
  • Distract her with extra books, one-on-one playtime, a walk to the park, or even a drive in the car.
  • Provide a damp (not wet!) washcloth for her to gnaw on. Sucking the water out of the rag, as well as the coolness of the water, and the pressure from chewing, will provide distraction and relief.
  • If your baby is old enough to eat solids, try offering chilled applesauce or a cold carrot stick to gnaw on.
      (Note: Carrot sticks are fine for babies who are teething for the first time and won't accidentally bite off a piece. Chunks of raw carrots are choking hazards. However, my girls loved the interesting taste and texture of gnawing on a carrot stick before their first teeth came in.)

  • Purchase teething biscuits, or make your own teething biscuits DEAD at home.
There are many other small things you can try for teething relief at home. You can view these all-natural teething remedies here.

Teething Relief:
Sleeping Issues

Like I mentioned above, it is not uncommon for babies to be fine during the day, only to turn into a teething hellion the moment the light goes out.

During the day, they are distracted with toys, pictures, faces, people...all new things that can grab their attention. When it's time to sleep they are suddenly made aware of this very uncomfortable feeling they hadn't previously noticed.

You could try on of the simple steps above, but supervision would be necessary, and most likely "distraction" will get you only a tired, temporarily distracted baby. Once you stop "distracting" and lay her down to sleep again the whole cycle will start again. You're almost guaranteeing one tired mama (not to mention an even more irritable baby) tomorrow.

So what do you do? It's time for the big guns.

Yes, it's time to crack open the medicine cabinet and reach for some approved medicines (discussed below), or some Hylands Teething Tablets for some all natural teething relief.

Teething Relief:

Before I get into teething relief medications, let me offer the following disclaimer: No matter what time it is, I recommend speaking to a physician before giving your baby medication. That little body will be absorbing that medication, and it can be easy to overdose if you're not paying attention.

A simple phone call to your doctor's office, or to the doctor on call, will put your dosing fears at ease and reinforce your decision to provide medication in the first place.

Your pediatrician is a pediatrician because she cares about children. Don't hesitate to call, no matter the hour. (And if he/she makes you feel like an inconvenience, you need to find a new pediatrician, and he should probably find a new profession.)

There are basically two types of medication you can give your baby for teething relief: a topical pain reliever, and a general pain reliever. We'll look at each separately.


Topical Teething Relief Medications

These medications are meant to be applied directly onto the gums. The active ingredients numb the gums, providing teething relief. The most popular brand is Baby Oraljel. However, many companies offer their own version. Hylands Teething Gel is a homeopathic topical medicine made from all-natural ingredients.

teething relief 3
{Photo by Bart_}
The effectiveness of topical teething medication is debatable. On one hand, it works immediately, numbing the gums within seconds (as opposed to 30 minutes with standard medications).

On the other hand, it washes away easily and the benefits can be fleeting. The more your baby drools, the faster the effects will wear off.

You could choose to apply a topical medicine while you're waiting for the general medicine to kick in. However, be wary of the amount you are using. Too much topical teething relief gel can numb the back of your baby's throat (as he swallows it).

This weakens his gag reflex, making it easier for him to potentially choke on his own saliva. Follow the directions carefully, and do not give more than suggested.

For babies with an distinguished palette of likes and dislikes, Oraljel comes in a variety of flavors like cherry, berry, and grape. They also have teething swabs to make applying the gel even easier.

In rare instances, the gels can cause an allergic reaction. Keep a close eye on your infant the first few times you use it, to be sure no reaction is forthcoming.


General Teething Relief Medications

Medicine Recalls

It's rare, but it does happen occasionally.

Check to see the latest infant medicine recall from the FDA.

Medications like Infant Tylenol or Infant Ibuprofen are whole-body medications. This means they don't target a specific part of the body, they flood throughout the body. For this reason, it's very important to pay attention to dosages. That's a little body, and it doesn't take much to fill it up!

The most popular medications for babies are Acetominophen (Infant Tylenol) and Infant Ibuprofen. Medication should be given according to weight, not age. If you find yourself unsure of how much your baby weighs, simply weigh yourself alone, weigh yourself with baby, and subtract the two to get your infant's current weight.

Most doctors do not recommend giving your infant Baby Aspirin (also called Baby Motrin). The use of aspirin in children has been linked to a condition called Reye's Syndrome, a rare but potentially life-threatening condition. However, it is rare. If nothing seems to be working, call your doctor to discuss the possible risks of using Baby Motrin.

If you're baby is still inconsolable after medication and rocking, it is possible to stagger dosages of Ibuprofen and Tylenol for maximum effectiveness. Tylenol has a 4 hour limit, Ibuprofen has a 6 hour limit. Call your doctor for specific instructions on how this is done.

Personally, I found this necessary only when my middle child was teething molars. The larger surface area of the molars made them ten-times as painful for her, and sleeping was a major challenge. By staggering the doses, I was able to help her sleep for a longer period of time.

flower logo
Once you have a few good teething relief suggestions floating around in your brain (and a few tools tucked into the diaper bag) you can take each teething episode in stride.

Even the ones at Grumpy Aunt Grace's house.

The Next Feature Article in the October 6th issue will be:

Simple Breastfeeding Tips for Working Moms

infant activities

Take Me Out for a Ball-Game

ball game
{Photo by Stephen Stills}
I have yet to meet a child whose eyes don't just light up when a ball is thrown into the room. There's something about those silly, round cheap, toys that create giggles, smiles, and laugh almost instantaneously.

Next time you're at the grocery store and your baby spots that tower of balls in the cage, indulge her and spend the $1.99 for a toy that will last and last. There are few toys as developmentally-rewarding as the physical practice of catching, tossing, throwing, and holding rubber balls.

As always, if your baby just isn't into ball-fun, there are many other great activities you can do. Either look through the newsletter archives or check out my reviews on popular baby activity books for good ideas.

0-3 Months: Baby's On a Roll

Most babies aren't too wild about laying on their tummies for very long. However, laying on slightly deflated beach ball is a whole new matter! It's pretty interesting to lay on something big, soft and round!

Lay your infant, tummy down, on the deflated beach ball, holding her gently on either side. Gently rock her forward and back or side to side. (Remember to support your newborn's head!). Sing a song or talk while your playing. It will keep her focused, while the gently pressure soothes her tummy.

When she gets older and can sit up, you can help her to sit on top of the beach ball while you gently bounce her up and down (most babies find this hilarious).

What is she learning in this activity?

  • Increased upper-body strength (hold that head up!)
  • Balance
  • Trust and bonding

3-6 Months: Little Kicker

Lay your baby on her back on top of a soft blanket. Guide your baby's legs up into the air. Place a ball on your baby's feet and try to keep the ball in the air while your baby kicks her legs. Turn the ball as your baby kicks her feet, seeing if you can keep the ball up as it spins.

For an extra activity, drop the ball gently on your baby's legs from a short distance and see if she kicks at the ball. If she does, praise her. If not, keep trying until she does or loses interest.

Naturally, make sure the ball doesn't hit your baby in the face as an unwelcome surprise! Also, your infant will need to be on a soft surface, since she may get overexcited and bang her head against the floor.

What is she learning in this activity?

  • Motor Control
  • Cause and Effect
  • Coordination

6-9 Months: Bowl and Ball Roll

Use a large round plastic container, a large flat cake tin or other container without a lid. Place a small ball inside (it should be larger than your baby's mouth, about the size of his hand. Push the ball around the container with your finger. Does he watch? or try to stop the ball? (A good sign that he's paying attention.)

Stop the ball and place your baby's hand on it. Help him get the ball in motion again, talking to him the entire time about what you're doing.

Later on, show him how you can tilt the container and get the ball to go around and around in a circular motion. Help him hold the container and do it with him. Praise him for any positive response.

What is he learning in this activity?

  • Enhancement of the sense of touch
  • Eye-hand coordination
  • Keeping the eye on a moving target

9-12 Months: Soccer Monster

Although the coordination to kick a ball on the ground won't come until your infant's two, the ability to kick a ball is there at as young as nine months. (You just have to provide the swing!)

Pick him up under his arms and swing his legs at a lightweight, medium-sized ball. Your baby's legs, and your muscle power will cause the ball to roll across the floor. This is really a no-brainer of a game, but it's such a favorite for babies at this age that it was worth singling out.

This leg-swinging will help strengthen his abdominal and leg muscles in preparation for crawling and walking. The "touch" sensation on his feet will help him with body awareness.

What is he learning in this activity?

  • Eye-foot coordination
  • Body awareness
  • Cause and effect (when I touch the ball, it moves!)

mm august
{Photo by Sean Dreilinger}

12-18 Months: Baby Basketball

Set a laundry basket, or other large container against a wall. Stand (or sit) your baby about a foot away from the basket and give him the ball. Encourage him to throw the ball into the basket.

If the game is too easy, move him backwards. If it's too hard, move him forwards. You can also tilt the basket against the wall to help the ball go in even easier.

What is he learning in this activity?

  • Eye-Hand Coordination
  • Gross Motor Skill Development
  • Social Interaction

heather's hints

Homemade Zweiback Teething Toasts

Not only can you save money by making your own teething biscuits, you can control what's in them. In an article I published this month, I listed four of the most popular teething biscuit recipes among moms like you.

This recipe is the most complicated of them. If you're terrified of yeast (and who can blame you?) I recommend trying the 3-ingredient Banana-Flavored Teething Biscuits, or one of the other recipes I have listed there. It is specifically for babies older than 1 year old. Babies younger than that can enjoy gnawing on one of the other egg-less teething cookie recipes available.

However, if you want to make the real deal, here's the original Zweiback teething toast recipe for your culinary enjoyment.

Note: As with any food, keep a close eye on your infant as she is gnawing away. The cookie should be firm enough for her to chew on, yet still dissolve in her mouth. Any chunks should be removed asap as a choking hazard.

Bon Appetit!

teething biscuits 2



  • 1 pkg dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour (unbleached is best, or try a blend of whole wheat and regular)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract


Sprinkle the dry yeast into the warm water in a mixing bowl, stirring slightly to dissolve. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes (you should see some bubbles forming).

Heat the milk up to the boiling point, but do not boil (called scalding the milk). Let it cool down until it's lukewarm. Add the milk and 2 cups of the flour to the yeast, mix together with a wooden spoon. Place trash bag upside down over the entire mixer and let it sit for 1 hour. It should appear light and bubbly (a sign the yeast is starting to feast).

teething biscuits 3
{Photo by dmhergert}
Preheat the oven to 400. Remove the trash bag and add the remaining ingredients to the mixture. Turn on the dough hook (or use a wooden spoon) and mix until you have a medium-stiff dough (you may need to add flour). Remove the hook and cover the entire mixer again with an upside-down trash bag and let rise until it is doubled in size.

Gently punch down the dough with a fist and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 5 minutes. Shape into little buns, about 2.5 inches in diameter. Set those little buns on an ungreased cookie sheet, about 1 inch apart.

Bake in the oven (at 400) for 10 minutes. Lower the oven temperature (do not open or remove) to 350 and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Take them out of the oven and allow them to cool slightly.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300. Slice the buns into "sticks" the right thickness for your baby to gnaw on, without cracking the biscuit into two.

Lay the slices back onto the cookie sheet, and bake at 300 for 40 minutes or until slightly browned. (Some mothers flip them over halfway for even browning.)

This recipe makes 2 dozen sticks. Store in an airtight container for 2 weeks.

Are You a Beginning Baker?

These recipes use less than 4 ingredients and only take minutes to bake.

If you are interested in making your own baby food at home (and saving hundreds every year), I've reviewed several of the best "how to" books on the market. Read these baby-food book reviews here.


There have been 16 recalls since the last Merry Mother was published in June. Just as a reminder, these are all pdf documents. You will need a PDF Reader installed on your computer to read them. If you don't have one, you can download Adobe Acrobat Reader for free at this site.

Although these reports are always free, they take a lot of work to update every month. Please consider giving a small donation in return for the reports. $1, $2, $5...the amount is really irrelevant. I just appreciate the gesture!

Stroller Recalled

Pacifiers, Teethers and Recalled Rattles

Toys Recalled

  • Inflatable Baby Floats by Aqua-Leisure (Drowning Hazard)
  • DesignWare Sport Balls by American Greetings (Violation of Lead Paint Standard)
  • Evenflo Switch-A-Roo Telephone Toys (Choking Hazard)
  • My Pal Scout Electronic Plush Toy Dogs by Leap Frog (Choking Hazard)
  • Little Tykes Clubhouse Swing Set (Fall Hazard)
  • Chelsea's Necklace and Bracelet Sets (Choking Hazard)
  • See the details of these recalls.

Playpens and Play Yards

Clothes and Shoes

Infant Cribs

  • Bonavita "Cabana" Drop Side Cribs by LaJobi (Entrapment and Suffocation Hazard)
  • Bonavita "Hudson" and Babi Italia "Pinehurst" Cribs by LaJobi (Entrapment and Suffocation Hazard)
  • Expansion of Simplicity Drop Side Cribs (Entrapment and Suffocation Hazard)
  • See the details of these recalls.

Bouncer Seats and Jumpers


Your "Mom Moment" (You've Earned It)

mom moment august
Take a moment to enjoy the small things.
{Photo by esther**}

I'm a sucker for beautiful photography. Take a deep breath and lose yourself in this photo. Of course, if you're looking for more of these "moments", visit the Mom Moment Page.

How to Get 5 Gallons of Laundry Soap for $1.55

(Here's a Hint: Take 3 Products and Easily Make Your Own)

homemade soap
{Photo by groovyholly}
Recently, a friend turned me on to the wonders of making your own laundry soap at home.

At first, I thought it sounded too "domestic" for this laundry-and-sewing-challenged mother, but the math was just too enticing. The suggestion that I could spend $1.55 for 5 months of laundry detergent was too much to resist.

My biggest surprise, surpisingly, was NOT the price. It was how well it worked. I wasn't "settling" for a half-cleaned job in order to save a buck.

If you're looking for ways to save money, I highly recommend trying it. Look through the couch cushions and dig up $1.55. That's not even a coffee!

The soap works in both front or top load washing machines. If you'd prefer some scent to your soap, just add 10-15 drops of essential oils per every 2 gallons of soap. Try lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil, or other favorite-scented oils.


The Ingredients

1 Bar of Soap: You can use Fels-Naptha, Ivory, Sunlight, Kirk's Hardwater Castile, or Zote. One friend told me she found her "Kirk's Hardwater Castile" bar of soap at the store in Cracker Barrel. The others you can find in your local grocery store.

1 Cup of Washing Soda: Look for Arm and Hammer washing soda in the laundry aisle of your local grocery store. This isn't baking soda! It's washing soda.

1/2 Cup of Borax: Again, found in your local grocery store in the laundry aisle.

4 Cups Hot Tap Water


The Process

Grate the bar of soap (I recommend getting separate box grater just for this) and add to a large saucepan with the hot tap water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until the soap dissolves completely. Fill a 5-gallon bucket half full with hot tap water. Add the melted soap, the washing soda and the Borax. Stir well until all the powder is dissolved. Fill the bucket to the top with more hot water. Stir and let it sit overnight to thicken.

Using an old laundry soap container (cleaned out of course), fill it with the laundry soap mixture. It will gel in time, so you'll need to shake it well before each use.


How to Use Your Homemade Soap

Following this recipe will give you 5 gallons of soap. This is at double-strength (which is what I recommend). However, if you're extra tight on cash, you can easily turn it into 10 gallons by filling only half the old laundry soap container with your soap, and then diluting with water (friends have reported even the diluted soap works well).

For a top-loading washing machine, use about 5/8 cup per load (the cap of a standard laundry soap container).

For a front-loading washing machine, use 1/4 cup per load (again, using an old laundry cap to measure is helpful).

For an easy cheap fabric softener, add about 1/2 cup of white vinegar to the fabric softener slot on your washing machine. Your clothes (including stiff jeans) come out soft and easy to fold. They do not smell like vinegar, which is an extra bonus. All the softening without the smell.


Cost Breakdown

Here's what I spent for my 5 gallons of double-strength laundry soap (which could easily be 10 gallons at regular strength).
  • Kirks Castile Soap: $.99 (used the whole bar)
  • Arm and Hammer Washing Soda: $2.45 ($.05 an ounce, used 8 ounces = $.40 recipe cost)
  • Borax: $2.99 ($.04 an ounce, used 4 ounces = $.16 recipe cost)
  • Total Cost for 5 gallons: $1.55
  • That's $.31 for 1 gallon of double strength, or $.16 for 1 gallon of regular strength (10 gallons)
A 24-load (50 oz) container of liquid Tide with Downy costs $14 at my local Walmart. 1 gallon is 128 fluid ounces, so I'm basically paying $14 for less than 1/2 gallon of detergent. Compare $28 (for a gallon of Tide) with $.31 (for a gallon of your own homemade soap)!

I know it may seem slightly "Little House on the Prairie" at first, but the numbers (and results) are worth the try. Worse case scenario, you throw away 5 gallons, and lose $1.55. Best case scenario, you pocket the $27.69 every month and enjoy the extra $332 at a romantic bed and breakfast for your anniversary!

If you find yourself overwhelmed with storing 5 (or more) gallons of laundry soap, give it away to other struggling families. (It makes a great gift!) They'll thank you for your generosity, and you won't have to worry about finding extra storage.

On a Personal Note...

If you missed my announcement in a previous newsletter, Cameron and I are expecting baby # 3 on December 4th.

We're happy to add to that announcement that it looks like it's going to be another precious, beautiful, girl.

We are thrilled, the girls are ecstatic, and little Isabella Rose (or "Bella" as we are calling her) is thriving. Here's her latest photo shoot.

My budget-conscious husband had two responses to the "Girls Rule" pattern we seem to be stuck in. First, it was Great! We already have all the stuff!. Then, after pondering, it became Crap! That's another wedding!

I told him not to jump too far ahead. Let's just get through college, shall we?


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Thank You Readers!

I hope you've enjoyed reading the August/September issue of The Merry Mother. The next official issue will be published on October 6th.

However, do expect a special announcement in the next week or so announcing the launch of the 2009 Cutest Halloween Baby Contest!

Thank you so much for reading and subscribing to this online magazine. It is a labor of love. I'm happy to know others enjoy reading it as much as I do writing it.

My growing subscriber list shows that you have been sharing it with your friends, and for that, I am deeply grateful. After all, this online magazine is focused on one thing: helping us all become merrier mothers - because merry mothers = merry babies!


P.S. Be sure to check back at The Essential Infant Resource for Moms, your friend-next-door for questions-answered, stories-told, and laughs-had.

Newsletter Archives

All the previous editions have been archived and are available for you to examine at your leisure.

You can find the link to this page at the Merry Mothers Only Page.

Book of the Month


Baby Tracker
Round the Clock

Baby Tracker Round the Clock is a simple organizing planner that makes it easy to record and review feedings, changes, and sleeping schedules for your newborn.

3 Reasons Why a Tracker is Your Friend

  • Counting diapers helps you monitor your baby's health.
  • Tracking feedings help you "read" her cries
  • You're exhausted. Write down your questions to the doctor, and read them off when you get there.

I wish I had this tracker with my previous babies.

I'm greatly looking forward to using it with my third. smiley

Baby and Home

Declutter Tip # 23

Baby steps to a clean family room...

Decorative containers and toy boxes that close let you hide away your clutter in a moments notice.

If you haven't browsed Hobby Lobby recently, head their first to look for decorative baskets and containers at affordable prices.

(Hint: has great printable coupons!)

Get More Free
Tips From
Declutter Mastery

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garden path

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