Parenting

Tips for Flying with a Toddler

20 tips for flying with a toddler

We recently took our Little One on his first plane ride! Before the trip we were so worried about how he would react to the experience. Would his ears feel OK? Would he sleep on the plane? Would he scream the whole time? These questions circled around my head as we prepared for our trip. I am happy to report that the plane ride went very smoothly, and hopefully by following these tips you will have a smooth experience traveling with your toddler.

***Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers best interest at heart .***

Booking the flight

So my first tip is to book the flight for a natural nap time. This will make it a lot easier for your little one to sleep on the plane. Once we boarded and I started nursing him, he was out right away. There was so much to see in the airport that I think it tuckered him out watching everything.

If allowed to choose your seats, try to get a window seat near the front of the plane. The window seats have a little extra room next to them. When on a cramped airplane, any extra space is a life saver.

Book a seat for your child if you can. I know that budgets can be tight but having an extra seat can be so helpful. We did not book a seat for our Little One and instead kept him on our lap. Most airlines allow babies under 2 to ride free if they ride on your lap. On the way there, we did not have an extra seat. It went okay but was cramped. On the way back we had an angel of a flight attendant who moved some people around and gave us three seats! It was so nice to have the extra space and once little one woke up from his nap, it allowed him to crawl around between the two of us. Also, my husband is 6’3″ so sitting in a middle seat was rough on him!

Other bookings

Rent a car seat if able. We rented a car seat because I didn’t want to deal with packing one and checking it at the airport. It wasn’t too much more added on to our car rental. If you are not renting a car and being picked up, check your car seat at the check in, not at the gate. When we were flying we saw a family who had three small children, They were also carrying a bag for each, a two kiddo stroller and three car seats….they looked miserable. Flying can be difficult with a toddler, so I always try to make things as easy as possible.

Read the fine print. When booking your flight be sure to read the fine print, especially when it comes to the policy regarding kids. Different airlines may have special rules when it comes to carry ons, bringing formula or breast milk, and the list goes on and on. I read it more than one time just to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. While you’re at it head over to the TSA website and check out the kids section for special instructions for going through security.

What to Pack

Bring a stroller. A stroller is a life saver when trying to run through the airport. Bring the smallest stroller you are able…we did not. The purpose of our trip was to go hiking at Yoho National Park, so we wanted to bring our trail stroller.

Bring snacks. Bring your little one’s favorite, but not messy, snacks on the plane. Anything to keep them happy is the goal. I headed to the bulk bins at our food co-op and got yogurt covered pretzels, yogurt covered raisins, and dried apples. I also brought some crackers and bananas. We got Cheez-Its as our snack on the plane, which little one gobbled up.

Bring a water bottle and sippy cup. Staying hydrated is obviously really important. To get though security, your adult water bottle will need to be empty, but they allowed water to be in the sippy cup, which was a win.

Bring small toys and books. Bring some of your little one’s favorite books and activities. We brought this ball, these blocks, a car, and Hello magazines. It is important to keep little one busy and toys will help with this.

Use a back pack as a diaper bag. If you already use a back pack you are ahead of the game! But if you don’t, they make life so much easier. When going through the airport and helping little one it is so much easier to have both of your hands free.

packing a diaper bag

Day of Trip

Pre-check into the flight. Again, try to make life as easy as possible. If your airline allows pre-check into your flight, I recommend you do it and skip those lines.

Dress in layers. Airplanes can be either too hot or too cold so it’s best to be flexible and dress in layers. Bring extra clothes, too, in case there is some sort of accident.

Soft sole shoes or socks. Once little one starts crawling around on your lap, you are going to want them to have soft soles. We did this and it worked great. Once the plane landed, we put little one’s shoes back on and he promptly stepped on my hand and I ended up with a bruise for a week.

At the Airport

When you arrive at the gate, check in with the attendants. If you bring a stroller or car seat to the gate, you will need a tag from them to label it. They may also give you special instructions for where to place the stroller/car seat for storage on the plane. This is also a great time to ask for seats to be rearranged, if needed. When we were assigned our seats upon purchasing tickets, they had my husband and I sitting in different rows. That was not going to work for us. The attendants were in full agreement and changed our seats so we were sitting together!

Check bags at the gate if able. Depending on how full the plane is, the gate attendants might call for volunteers to check bags at the gate. There is no charge for this. We did not check any bags at the check in counter and managed to pack everything we needed in our two carry on bags and our two personal items. By checking one of our bags it allowed us to store one of our personal items in the overhead bins. This freed up some leg room for my tall husband. It was also one less thing to keep track of and haul through the airport.

Boarding

When sitting at the terminal waiting for the plane to board, let your toddler crawl around when waiting to board. This will help them burn some energy and help get them ready for a nap on the plane.

Change their diaper just before boarding. The bathrooms on planes are tiny and I would not want to change Little One’s diaper in there. Try to change the diaper just before you board and then right after landing. Hopefully you are able to go through the flight without needing it to be changed.

Families board first. Pay attention to the announcements and board when called. Originally I thought I should wait until the end to board so Little One would spend as little time as possible on the plane. However, there are real benefits to boarding first. The first is that you are moving around less people when trying to get to your seats, which can be challenging. It also let Little One check out his new environment and watch the people come aboard. If we would have waited until the last minute to board I envision Little One having a hard time going to sleep during take off because he would have still been interested in watching everything.

airport

On the Plane

Use jackets to create a seat between the window and seat. This creates a little seat for a little butt to sit on. Little One loved looking out the window. Having made a little seat it allowed Little One to look out the window better and got him off my lap for a bit.

Nurse or give formula during take off and touch down. I have heard that this helps with ear popping – I am not sure if it did or not. But it did help Little One go to sleep, which was a big win.

Phew…those are my 20 tips for flying with a toddler! I hope your trip with your little one goes well and that this advice help you out. If you have any other tips for flying with a toddler, let me know in the comments below!

For more tips on traveling with a little one check out my preparing for travel with a baby.

Raise an Eco Conscious Child

How to Raise and Eco Conscious Child

My husband and I are trying to become more Eco Conscious, and with that, we are trying also to raise and Eco Conscious child. While Little One is only 15 months old right now, there are still things we can implement in our home to help with this. Here are our 5 tips on how to raise and Eco Conscious child.

Practice Eco Friendly principles in your own home

Children learn so much form their environment. if you practice environment-friendly principles in your home, your children, by extension, will also learn about these principles, too. Check out my post here about Eco-Friendly Rules to Live By.

Discuss It

Talk to your children about the importance of being Eco Friendly. Discuss specifically about what it means, how to do it, and why to do it. Ask them their ideas on how to be more Eco Friendly. Children are very insightful!

Encourage Learning, Experimenting, and Increasing Understanding

Encourage learning about the environment whenever possible. Whether in school, from books or on your travels, no opportunity should be wasted. I personally love the Green Kids Crafts Box for children, which encourages learning and experimenting.

Get them out and go for a hike or swimming. Allow them to examine the stick or the fish swimming around. Letting them explore their world will increase understanding and help develop a passion for preserving it.

Involve the in Changes

When you want to m them help you make a change, involve the kiddos. Have them help you with it. It helps them take ownership of the problem and the fix.

Be Politically Active

Go Vote! Vote for representatives who also care about the environment, and involve your child, too. Discuss the candidates, what they stand for and why you are choosing one over another. For as many small changes that we make at home, we really need organization on a large scale to make a big impact.

What other tips do you have for raising and Eco Conscious child? Le me know in the comments below!

How to Raise and Eco Conscious Child

How To Find Stress-Free Kids Crafts

I have always loved crafting. As a kid I was doing projects literally every day! My mom had an in-home daycare and she did a fantastic job of facilitating fun craft projects focused on learning letters, science, animals, space, shapes, colors, the list goes on and on. I often reflect back on this time and now that I have my own Little One I think of how much work that must have been! Little One is not quite to the crafting stage yet and just thinking about it stresses me out a little bit. So in this post we explore a resource on how to find stress-free kids crafts.

That is why I was so happy to find Green Kid Crafts. They have taken the stress away from me having to figure out projects. They are a monthly subscription box that delivers age appropriate, education-focused, and Eco-friendly crafts right to your door step!

I don’t know about you but I am busy. Both my husband and I work, and between getting dinner ready, keeping the house semi clean, and trying to have quality time with Little One, it doesn’t leave much time for planning out craft projects.

Just so you know – read through to the end for a special offer!

**Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As a Green Kids Crafts associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. If you buy from them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers’ best interest at heart

The Contents

Green Kid Crafts offers both subscription packages or single purchase boxes for the kiddos. All the boxes contain 4-8 projects and are developed around STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math).

The boxes range from ages 2 years to 10+ years. I wanted to try one even though Little One is still a bit young for the boxes. So I got one and did all the crafts myself…just kidding. But I did get one for my niece in the 10+ category and she loved it!

Why Green Kid Crafts

There are many subscription boxes out there, so why this one? I personally gravitated toward this box for a number of reasons:

First, they are very Eco-friendly, as I try to be with all my crafting. Green Kid Crafts is actually a carbon neutral company! There will be more on that below.

Second, there are multiple activities in each box. I have checked out some other subscription boxes, and while very cool they often offer one or two activities. Green Kid Crafts offer 4-8!

Third, every box focuses on science, technology, engineering, arts, and math! The boxes are developed by child development experts, and you can click this link to read bios of the child development team. I think it is so important to know that the projects are thoughtfully created by a team of experts.

The Company

As my husband and I keep considering the types of consumers we want to be, it is really important that we know where we put our money. That’s why we support companies like Green Kid Crafts – they hold and implement so many of the values that my husband and I believe in, too.

Green Kid Crafts was started by a mom wanting to encourage learning, development and creativity in her own kids’ lives. Mom power! She is an environmental scientist committed to creating a product that has as little impact on the environment as possible. They also have a partnership with the CarbonFund, and, like I mentioned before, is a carbon neutral company.

They use 100% recycled materials for all of their packaging, as well as implement sustainability into the contents of their boxes.

Green Kid Crafts partners with One Tree Planted, and they plant one tree for every online order! Click below to find out more.

The Blog

The Green Kid Crafts website has a blog that is packed full of fun activities to do with your kiddos. You can easily do some projects at home by following their clear directions. So when you are wanting to plan projects, Green Kid Crafts makes it really easy. Just go check out their blog page and pick from all of the wonderful activities they have available.

Special Offer

For a limited time you can get 60% off your first STEAM box! By clicking this LINK here. I will also receive some credit when you use this LINK, so thank you in advance for helping keep Little Family on the Big Lake up and running.

Or you can click the Order Now button to check out Green Kid Crafts subscriptions boxes. And don’t forget to use the code SUMMER19 and receive 50% off your first order. I am not sure how long this sale is running.

But to get the 60% off use my special link!

See their site for full promo code details and terms and conditions.

I hope you like the Green Kid Crafts boxes as much as I do. Let me know if you got a subscription box and what you thought of it in the comments below!

Next, check out my post on how to make a felt vegetable garden.

Cloth Diaper Routine

Cloth Diaper Routine

There are so many questions when it comes to cloth diapering and a cloth diaper routine. Having cloth diapered for over a year now, I think my husband and I have worked out a pretty good system. So for the new parents out there, I thought I would share it for any of you thinking about setting up your cloth diapering station.

I included links for all the products that I love down below.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers’ best interest at heart.

The Set Up

So first things first: the set up. We currently have 32 cloth diapers. I have a combination of Alva Baby, Nora Nursery, Anma Baby, Bumgenius, and Mama Koala brands. We also use bamboo and charcoal bamboo inserts.

I have a diaper changing pad of the top of Little One’s dresser, which is secured. On the right side of the dresser I keep a laundry hamper. On the left side I keep a diaper bin with a lid, lined with a large wet bag. Next to that I have a normal lidded trash can and an extra plastic container to hold dirty diapers that need rinsing. On the top drawer of the dresser I keep the diapers, cloth wipes, and creams/lotions. We also keep a spray bottle containing water handy for the cloth wipes when the situation gets…poopy.

The Routine

When Little One was brand new we went through at least 12 diapers a day. Now that he is bigger we go through anywhere between 6-10 diapers in a day. Even though we go through less diapers now we still wash every two to three days.

We keep all diapers ready to go with the inserts in them and folded in half. Once the diaper is used we take out the insert and place both the insert and diaper in the pail with the wet bag.

Once we have reached two days and roughly half the diapers used we will wash them.

To wash the diaper, we first put the diapers in the machine by dumping the wet bag (including the wet bag itself) into the washer. So need to touch any diapers! We first put the diapers through a rinse cycle with no detergent . After the rinse cycle, we do a regular cycle with soap (we use the unscented soap from Costco). I want to mention here that I have tried a couple plant-based laundry soaps, but they didn’t clean effectively and left the diapers with a smell. Also of note, we do an extra hot rinse every 4-6 weeks after the normal cycles just to give the diapers a more thorough cleaning.

After washing, we separate the laundry and the inserts and wipes go into the dryer on medium heat. The covers move to a drying rack in Little One’s room. We found it was easier to dry the diapers in his room – just in case we ran out we could make a new one quickly.

Once everything is dry we assemble the diapers and put them back into the drawer. We often assemble diapers when Little One is playing on the floor, and often he tries to “help” by taking and throwing them on the floor!

Cloth Diaper Routine
The Poop

So the poop…we have to deal with the poop. When we find we have a messy diaper to deal with, the first thing we do is wet 2-4 wipes. Clean up your Little One, grab a fresh diaper, and toss the dirty diaper into the plastic bin next to the diaper pail. Remove the insert and place in the diaper bin. Place the lid back on and finish changing the diaper.

To clean the diaper, we dunk the diaper in the toilet to clean it off. Many people who cloth diaper use a sprayer to clean off the diapers, but I find that this method works for us well enough. Much of the time the #2 is solid and it just pops off. No biggie!

I will note that until little ones reach the age that they start solid food, the diapers don’t need to be cleaned in the toilet. They can go straight into the diaper pail.

My Special Cleaner

Naturally, sometimes the diapers will stain after so much exposure to poop. I have a special cleaner that I use for just this purpose. I have been wanting to do a post on it, but honestly we haven’t had a really stained diaper in quite a while…knock on wood!

My cleaner is simple – just a spray bottle with water and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Spray this on the diaper and lay it in the sun for a couple of hours and, like magic, the stain disappears!

Cloth Diaper Routine

So that is our cloth diaper routine! To me it seems pretty easy and now second nature. At this point, it’s been ingrained into our system just like any other errand we do around the house.

Let me know what you think of the cloth diaper routine, and if you have any tips or questions. I would love to know if you cloth diaper and what your routine is! If you haven’t already, check out my reasons to try cloth diapering here.

6 Surprising Items You Need For Baby

6 Surprising items you need for baby

There are so many lists of recommended baby items out there. Honestly, some are better than others and some are full of things that you don’t really need. The following list is 6 surprising items you need for baby.. These are things I realized would’ve come in handy when Little One arrived so allow me to share…

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers’ best interest at heart.

Laundry Basket

The first item on our list of 6 surprising items you need for baby is extra laundry baskets. I recommend at least one, but the more the better. Somehow these tiny little bundles create so much laundry! You may have the best laundry system in the world but when that bundle arrives that system may very well go out the window.

We have plastic laundry baskets at home right now, but once these wear out I want to switch to wicker baskets. Mainly I like the more natural material of these baskets. I have made the decision to always try to get more Eco friendly materials. But if you already have something that works, use that to exhaustion instead of purchasing something new right away.

Cooler

I purchased two coolers when I went back to work after maternity leave. One was used to bring with me in my pumping bag and the other to send with Little One to day care. I needed something to put his bottles in to keep them cool on the drive. I purchased a small one (unfortunately it’s no longer available) for my pumping bag and this one for day care from Thirty-One.

This one or this one are also great coolers. I really like the small coolers for bottles because they are easy to fit into a bag and, for me, they fit the perfect number of bottles.

Mini Clip on Fan

This mini fan has come in handy so many times. We live in northern Minnesota but it does still get hot here. We use it in our vehicle, and with the rear facing car seat the air conditioner vents don’t cool off the car seat very well. So we invested in this fan which helps keeps Little One cool in his car seat during those hot summer days.

Hand Vacuum

Kids are messy…that’s not really news. So having a tool for quick clean up is so useful and convenient. A hand vacuum will turn into your best friend to help tackle those frequent messes!

Sheets

If you don’t already have an extra set or two of sheets for your own bed, now is the time to get them. At some point, your sweet angel baby will spit up, pee on, or have a blow out on your sheets. It’s gross but it happens, and it’s best to be prepared. We had just upgraded to a king bed before Little One arrived and didn’t get an extra set of sheets right away. We quickly found out that we needed an extra set for accidents.

So make sure you have an extra set ready to go so you are not scrambling like us. Learn from our mistakes – it’ll be worth it.

Bag Clips

I know – bag clips? But stay with me…they are so useful when walking in the stroller. We have been in many situations where we are walking with Little One and it is windy and the blankets are flying all over the place. The bag clips solve this problem! Clip the blankets down to the sides to keep Little One warm and the blankets now stay put.

We have also used the clips and light muslin blankets to help keep the sun out of baby’s eyes. I should take a minute to note that a blanket should not be draped all the way over a stroller or car seat when it is hot out. This creates a bit of an oven in the stroller and the baby is at risk of overheating.

To solve this we used a lightweight muslin blanket and made sure it was always clipped a certain way so there was still air flow into the stroller. We would stop and re-position the muslin as needed and checked Little One’s body temp to make sure he was not overheating.

Bonus Item

Wet Bag

Since a wet bag is technically a baby-related item, I’ll throw it in as a bonus because it is so useful. If you cloth diaper you will most likely be all over this one. However, if you aren’t planning on cloth diapering, these wet bags are still really useful. For example, they are great for sticking in the diaper bag and have handy when dirty clothes need to be changed (the polyester material helps reduce the smell). So if you have clothes that are messy from a blow out or anything else, slip the clothes in there and the mess will be contained. They are also great for wet clothes after the beach or pool!

I hope that you found my list of 6 surprising items you need for baby. Are there any other items that are non-baby related that you’ve found useful with your baby? Let me know in the comments below!

Reasons To Try Cloth Diapering

Reasons why to cloth diaper

I absolutely love cloth diapering! As soon as I learned more about it, I never questioned if I would use cloth diapers or not. My husband was on board early on because all of the fantastic benefits. Below you will find my top reasons for choosing cloth diapers.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers best interest at heart.

The Environment

Babies on average go through 2500 diapers in their first year and each diaper can take hundreds of years to decompose in a land fill. I did not want to add to that, so I started looking for alternatives. Enter the cloth diaper. They are more modern now with all in ones, flip, and pocket diapers. It makes it much easier, although the old version of flats are pretty user friendly, too.

While it does take more water to wash cloth diapers it doesn’t create anywhere near the amount of waste. The conscientious user can offset this added water usage with modifications to other water-using habits, like showers and washing dishes.

The Money

Depending on what cloth diapers you use this can be very inexpensive. I personally like Alvababy and Anmababy but I have a few others I use for specific purposes, like Mama Koala. On average, they cost $5 per diaper (some of the high end ones can be $20-30 per diaper). I would recommend 28-32 diapers, bringing it to a total of only $160 for all of the diapers! These diapers can last years, all the way through potty training years and on to multiple kiddos. Here’s the rough math: 1 year of disposable diapers can cost $850, and after 3 years of diapering it would cost $ 2550 for each kid!

We actually didn’t end up paying anything for our cloth diapers. I added them to my Amazon registry, and had loving friends and family members purchase them for Little One. I ended up receiving all that I needed through baby showers, so my diapering costs went down to $0!

We did end up purchasing more bamboo and charcoal inserts, which I would highly recommend over the micro fiber inserts. Not only are bamboo and charcoal natural products, they are able to absorb a little more pee than the micro fiber.

The Bum

Cloth diapers are so much better for Little One’s bum. They drastically reduce the risk of diaper rash. Many disposable diapers have chemicals in them that are bad for babies’ bums, though there are some brands that are addressing the issue. They also dramatically reduce the risk of blow outs (meaning poop goes all over the place if you aren’t familiar with the term). We have been cloth diapering for over a year and have only had 3, and really they weren’t too bad. I remember my sister-in-law, who used disposables, sending me a pic of my nephew and it was all the way up to his neck!

The Cuteness

Cloth diapers are so cute! I don’t really need to elaborate…check them out for yourself.

Reasons why to cloth diaper
Reasons why to cloth diaper

Have you thought about trying out cloth diapers, but not quite convinced? I hope this post on the reasons to try cloth diapering helped. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments blow!

Next, check out my Harry Potter Nursery post.

Reasons why to cloth diaper

DIY Toddler Hammock Swing

DIY Toddler Hammock Swing

Little One’s first birthday is just around the corner, I can’t believe it! He is just growing up way too fast. So, as well as planing a birthday party, I wanted to make something special for him as a gift. During our brainstorming for gift ideas a swing came up. Of course, trying to rid ourselves of plastic, I didn’t want to get him a traditional baby swing. So off to the craft store I went with plans for a DIY toddler hammock swing. I had found a couple of tutorials online; however, I wanted to make some changes to those plans.

The biggest issue was safety. In addition to gathering supplies that could safely hold 200 pounds (a little overboard for my 20 pound baby, but still), I also added a safety strap to the hammock swing using a couple of D rings. All the supplies I needed were found at JOANN Fabrics and Home Depot. (I linked all products that I was able to on Amazon since I know some people don’t have access to the same stores). Some additional changes I made included doubling the fabric and adding a layer of batting for added comfort.

You can see my post on basic sewing terminology here if needed for this project.

I do have this hammock swing available in my store, click here to find out more!

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers’ best interests at heart.

Supplies for the DIY Toddler Hammock Swing
DIY Toddler Hammock Swing

Found at Craft Store

  • Outdoor fabric 1 1/2 to 2 yards, depending on how much extra you want
  • D rings
  • Batting – I had some left over from a quilt that I used. Remember, reusing is one of the 5 Rs of sustainability
  • Poly-fill – I also had some left over from another project. See, craft hoarding can save some money!
    • Find Batting and stuffing here I would use this instead if I did it again. I happened to have some old poly-fill and batting, but in the future I would go 100% cotton.

Found at Hardware Store

Additional supplies

Step One – Preparing Pieces

Each of the following pieces need to be cut out of the outdoor fabric. If the fabric you choose has a pattern to it, double check that it matches up. While the fabric I chose has a pattern, it is a little more random and allows for more flexibility. Cut the following pieces out of your fabric (and then proceed with the other cuts and measurements for the other materials that follow):

  • Fabric
    • 37″ x 12″ pieces for the seat – cut 2
    • 12″ x 11″ for the back – cut 2
    • 6 1/2″ x 11″ for the front – cut 2
    • 15″ x 3 1/2″ for the front strap – cut 1
    • 27″ x 3 1/2″ for the long strap – cut 1
    • 8″ x 3 1/2″ for the strap with D rings – cut 1
    • 12″ x 12″ pieces for the pillow (optional) – cut 2
  • Batting
    • 1 1/2″ x 10 1/2″ – cut 1
    • 6″ x 10 1/2″ – cut 1
    • 36 1/2″ x 11 1/2″ – cut 1
  • Dowel
    • 4 pieces that are 15″
  • Rope
    • 2 pieces that are 11 feet long

When starting to stitch the DIY toddler hammock swing, I wanted to make sure that every seam was very secure. So technically I sewed them twice…a little more work but so worth it. (Check out basic sewing terminology to help with following this tutorial.)

Step Two – Stitching Base

Start out by using the 6 1/2″ x 11′ pieces, placing right sides together and pinning. Starting at the base of the long side, start stitching up the side. Back stitch when first starting out using a 1/4″ seam allowance. Stop stitching 6/8″ from the edge of the fabric.

You will now have to turn the fabric; however, there is a neat trick I learned to make a crisp corner. Instead of making a 90 degree turn. stitch one stitch at an angle, then turn the fabric again to begin sewing straight as shown in the picture below.

Stitch along the 11″ side to the 6 1/2″ side and back down the 11″ side, back stitching when done. This should leave the 6 1/2″ side open. Clip the corners before turning. Use this side to turn the front piece right side out. Next, press the fabric with the iron. The outdoor material will be hard to get to lay flat. Try using a pin to pop the seam out (note that it will want to collapse inward) and steaming the fabric. Once complete, insert the piece of 6″ x 10 1/2″ batting between the two pieces of fabric.

Once complete, stitch around the edges again. This time stitch on the right side of the fabric with a 1/4″ or 3/8″ seam allowance. When turning the corner on the right side of the fabric, use the traditional 90 degree turn. Continue to leave the one 6 1/2″ side open – we will deal with it later.

Follow the same procedure for the pieces that are 12″ x 11″, leaving the 12″ side open for turning.

Step Three – Assembling the seat

For this next part, use the 37″ x 12″ pieces and the front and back that had already been finished. It’s a bit tricky so please stay with me. Find the center of the 37″ side and mark either side. Next, find the center on the front and back piece on the open side. Lay the back piece on top of the right side of one of the 37″ x 12″ pieces, lining up the center marks on each side. The raw edges should be together and the back piece should be on top of the seat piece. Next, line up the front piece with the center of the other side of the 37″ x 12″ piece and pin it down.

Lay the other 37″ x 12″ piece on top, right side down, and line it up and pin. Sew around using a 1/4″ seam allowance while leaving an opening to flip right side out. It is best to leave the opening on one of the 12″ ends. Use the same method as listed above for the corners. Flip the seat right side out and press with an iron. When flipping the seat, the back and front pieces should now be hanging out of the seam.

Next, insert the batting and stitch around the seat again. Fold in the open part and stitch closed. This is the basic seat structure.

Step Four – Creating Pockets

Next, on each of the sides, front and back, create pockets for the dowel. Using the dowel, estimate the pocket size needed by folding the top part of the fabric over the top and pinning it down. Make sure the pocket is even all the way across and is snug enough that the dowel doesn’t easily move, but still loose enough that you can easily insert the dowel into the pocket. Stitch a straight line where pinned, making sure to back stitch at the beginning and the end. Repeat these steps for each of the sides and the front and back. Measure each side to ensure that all the pockets are the same width and make changes if needed.

Step Five – Create Safety Straps
  • 15″ x 3 1/2″ for the front – strap cut 1
  • 27″ x 3 1/2″ for the long strap – cut 1
  • 8″ x 3 1/2″ for the strap with D rings – cut 1

For the next step use the the above pieces and iron press each of the straps in half the long way. Next, fold in the raw edge on either side and press with the iron. Fold in the ends to from a clean edge and pin. Stitch all the way around the strap. Fold down the shortest strap to create a pocket for the other straps to sit in. Stitch the edge of the pocket down. Using the medium strap, place the flat edges of the D rings on the strap. Fold over the fabric and stitch down.

Attach the two longer pieces to either side of the back piece (not the side that has the D rings attached). Make sure they are evenly placed on the center of the back side piece and pinned down. Back stitch at the beginning and the end. I chose to sew in a square around the tab of the strap to ensure it was secure. Next stitch the smallest strap to the center front of the seat in a similar manner.

DIY Toddler Hammock Swing
Step Six – Sewing The Pillow

This step is optional but adds a whole lot of comfort. It’s also really cute. Create a simple pillow using the 12″ X 12″ pieces. Pin the pieces right sides together. Leaving a small gap for flipping, stitch around the pillow using the corner method as described above. Flip the pillow right side out and press with an iron. Next, stuff the pillow with poly-fill (or cotton stuffing if able) to the desired amount. Then hand stitch the opening closed using a needle and thread. There you have it – a cute little pillow! The pillow is especially great for little ones because it gives extra support and helps them sit better in the swing. The pillow can be removed for older toddlers, which makes this swing versatile for a number of years.

Step Seven – Making Supports

The next step is to cut the dowels to the length of 15 inches. Then using a drill bit, drill a hole 1 1/2 inches from each end. Using sand paper, sand the dowels down and curve the ends to take away any sharp edges.

Step Eight – Finishing The Dowels

At this point I wanted to finish the dowels, but didn’t want to use a product like polyurethane because I know Little One will end up munching on them. Instead, I used coconut oil! This is a natural alternative and is something I keep in my cupboard. Using a small glass bowl, melt the coconut oil in the microwave. Next, apply a small amount to each dowel with a rag. The dowels will remain wet feeling for some time, so give it a day or two to dry completely. I think the coconut oil brings out the natural beauty of the wood and gives it a really nice shine.

Step Nine – Securing The Rope

Cut the rope into two 11 foot long lengths. Finding the middle of each piece, combine and tie around the metal rings. Create a loop through the metal rings and pull the remaining length of rope through the loop that was created. I added an additional knot for security.

DIY Toddler Hammock Swing
Step Ten – Inserting the dowels

The next step is to insert each dowel into the pocket on each side, as pictured below.

Step Eleven – Tie the Dowels Together

Layering the sides over the front and back and dowels. Insert the rope through the top hole and then through the second. Tie the rope with a secure knot and repeat with the other three sides. Burn the ends of the rope using a lighter.

DIY Toddler Hammock Swing
Step Twelve – Hanging The Hammock Swing

Find a good place to hang the hammock swing, ensuring that it is sturdy enough to hold the weight of the swing and your baby. We used a thick tree branch, but plan to use a C hook in a beam in our basement playroom for winter time. Using the left over rope tie around the tree, use the other O ring and tie to the bottom of the rope. Using the carabiner attach the two O rings together to hang the swing.

DIY Toddler Hammock Swing

While the fabric is weather resistant, the hammock swing will last longer if it is not left outside for extended periods of time. The carabiner makes it really easy to put up and take down. We store ours in the bin that holds our outdoor cushions.

Little One is only 12 months old right now, and has room to grow with it. My three year old nephew can fit in it, too. I absolutely love how this turned out. I know that is it many steps but it was fairly easy to make. This DIY toddler hammock swing was definitely worth the time, and is so much cuter and softer then the plastic ones available in stores.

Have you tried this DIY toddler hammock swing? How did it turn out for you? If so, left me know in the comments below!

If you want one of these awesome hammock swing but would to order one you can do so by clicking the button below!

Note

Please check that all materials are intact and strong enough to hold your child before each use. While I hope you have success with this DIY toddler hammock swing. I am not responsible for any injuries. Ensure that you have tested all the equipment before using with your child and never leave your child unattended in the swing. While there is a safety belt, kiddos can be squirmy and get free. Use at your own risk. If you have any questions about the product or how to make this please contact me at maria@littlefamilyonthebiglake.com

Hammock swing

Tricycle Makeover

Tricycle Makeover

At Little Family on the Big Lake, we are all about reducing, reusing, repurposing, refusing and recycling. That is at the center of this tricycle makeover. It all started with my husband and I trying to figure out what to get Little One for his birthday. We were throwing lots of ideas around but one that seemed to land was a tricycle. We were considering buying a new one, but we had two old ones in the garage Therefore,. I couldn’t justify buying new when we had perfectly good ones. However, we both agreed that they looked faded and dirty. So it was time for a tricycle makeover!

Let me begin with a little history on these tricycles before we get into the makeover. They were given to us by my mother when she retired from her in-home day care. The tricycles are solid metal bikes with a plastic seat. They have been well loved over the years and it shows, but they’re still in good shape overall. My mother got them from a garage sale, so not only have these trikes been used by many kids over the years, they are now starting their third life with us. Talk about reusing!

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers’ best interests at heart.

Step One

The first step of this makeover was to assess the bikes for damage. For example, one of the plastic pieces over the wheels was chipped. A little sanding with some low grit sand paper (we used 80 grit) removed the sharp edges on this piece. Then it was time for a good washing. Using soap, water and a rag, I washed the dirt off the bikes. This made them look better, so progress already!

Step Two

The second step was to decide on the color for the bikes. At first I was thinking that a little red tricycle would be very cute. My mother advised against it because red fades to pink. While I don’t really care about gender colors, I was looking at the trike and realized the red did look worse than the other colors.

So the colors we chose were blue and green. In the store I held up a couple of blue options and a couple of green options and let Little One pick his favorite. I purchased one can each of Rust-Oleum blue, green, and black. I purchased them from Home Depot but you can find them at most hardware stores or here on Amazon.

Step Three

The third and final step of the tricycle makeover is to prep and paint the tricycles. I taped off the areas that I didn’t want painted, such as the straps that hold Little One in. They are a rope-like material that bends easily and probably wouldn’t do well with spray paint. Before starting, I read the directions on the can of paint and laid down drop cloths on my garage floor. Using light layers I started painting the trikes. This process took me a couple of days because I would do a couple of light layers and turn the tricycles to get at different angles. Remember to allow for drying time between layers.

The Finished Product!

I am so happy with how these turned out! I am sure Little One will have fun with these for years to come. Instead of purchasing a new tricycle we spent $15 on paint and have breathed new life into these well-loved tricycles.

In general, instead of running to the store for new toys or bikes, among other things, I encourage you to look around to see if there is anything that can be repurposed or just fixed up. Garage sales are great ways to find kid’s items. With a little tender love and care, sad old toys can feel new again!

Have you tried any tricycle makeovers? Let me know in the comments below!

Check out my next DIY children’s projects, a toddler hammock swing and felt vegetable garden.

Tricycle Makeover

Smash Cake for Baby’s First Birthday

Banana Smash Cake for First Birthday

I can’t believe Little One is a year old! The time has gone by so fast and Little One has grown up so much in that time. I am constantly amazed at his development and seeing the world through his eyes. Every day he wakes up with a simile on his face and lights up the whole world. Check out the recipe below on how to make a smash cake for baby’s first birthday.

Little One’s birthday landed on a Thursday this year. My husband and I both took the day off work and had a fun day. It started with a special birthday shirt and a trip to the aquarium, but I wasn’t sure how Little One was going to do at the aquarium. However, he loved watching all the fish and playing in the water tables. After a nap we went swimming and then went for a walk. We ended the day with a smash cupcake. This was good practice for when he had a smash cake for the family birthday party!

We had our family birthday party two weekends after Little One’s birthday (it was how the timing worked out with everyone’s schedules.) Of course we had food, presents and a smash cake. This was a simple banana cake with whipped cream frosting, made with a 6 inch layer and berries for decoration.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers best interest at heart.

Smash Cake

I honestly didn’t think much about this cake because it was pretty simple, but then a friend messaged me and asked for the recipe. I had posted it on Facebook and she wanted to use it for her son’s first birthday, too. Normally I don’t post recipes on Little Family on the Big Lake, but this cake was so easy and turned out so cute I thought I would share it.

What makes this recipe unique is that I have modified the recipe so that it makes two 6-inch round cakes. (You can find 6-inch cake pans here.) This is the perfect size for a smash cake. It can easily fit on a high chair and isn’t too wasteful for the clean up. I will note here that your child shouldn’t eat the whole cake – that would result in a very upset belly! My son smashed it a bit, but before he did he gently removed all of the berries and ate them first.

The other unique thing about this recipe is that I tried to modify the sweetness. It still has sugar but not too much. Let get to making a smash cake for baby’s first birthday.

Smash Cake for 1st Birthday
Banana Smash Cake with Whipped Cream Frosting

Time needed: 50 minutes.

The Perfect Banana Smash Cake with Whipped Cream Frosting

  1. Ingredients for the cake
    *1/2 cup milk
    *2 teaspoons lemon juice
    * 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
    *2/3 cup sugar
    *1 egg
    *1 teaspoon vanilla
    *1/4 teaspoon salt
    *1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    *1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    *1 cup whole wheat flour
    *1 ripe banana

  2. Ingredients for the frosting

    *16 oz heavy whipping cream
    *3-5 tablespoons sugar
    *1 teaspoon vanilla

  3. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Prepare two 6-inch cake tins using cooking spray or butter along the bottoms or sides. (Note: for some reason I only have one 6-inch cake tin, so I baked it twice in the same pan.) Prepare parchment paper to fit in the bottom of the pan. Then grease the parchment paper.

  4. In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until it’s together and creamy.

  5. Add the lemon juice, eggs, vanilla, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Mix it until it’s together and smooth, scraping as necessary.

  6. Using the low setting on the mixer, add the flour and milk slowly and in alternating amounts. This will hopefully prevent the flour from getting everywhere.

  7. Smash a banana and mix it into the cake batter until it becomes smooth.

  8. Pour half of the batter into each of the pans and bake at 325 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Check the cake at 25 minutes using a tooth pick. Once the tooth pick comes out clean the cakes are done. Allow them to cool on a drying rack before adding frosting.

Frosting
  1. To make the frosting, pour the heavy whipping cream into a mixer and start low to high. Add vanilla and sugar when medium peaks form. Add as much sugar as you would like for sweetness. I generally add 4 tablespoons. Then continue beating until stiff peaks form.
  2. Place the cake on a cake stand and peel off the parchment paper on the bottom. Place a generous amount of frosting on the top of the cake and spread it evenly. Next, flip the other cake upside down and place it on top of the first cake. Peel off the parchment paper. Add a good amount of frosting to the top and spread it evenly with a spatula. Then add frosting to the sides and make it smooth with a spatula
  3. It’s finally time to decorate! I used blueberries and strawberries because they are among my Little One’s favorite foods, but anything can be used. Store the cake in the refrigerator until it’s ready to be eaten. Take the cake out 10-15 minutes before use so it can warm up just a bit.

That’s it, that’s how you can make a wonderful little smash cake for baby’s first birthday . Have you tried this? Let me know how it turned out in the comments below!

Want to see what we made our Little One for his birthday, check it out here.

5 Tips for Visiting Gooseberry Falls with Kids

5 Tips for Visiting Gooseberry Falls with Kids

The summer season is fast approaching so I thought I would share with you one of my favorite places on the North Shore – Gooseberry Falls. Gooseberry Falls is a Minnesota state park that is located 40 miles north of Duluth on Hwy 61. It has three main waterfalls and one more that requires a hike into the park, but most visitors just visit the big three. The park also hosts many other trails for hiking and biking, as well as beaches on Lake Superior. Here are my 5 tips for visiting Gooseberry Falls with kids.

My husband and I used to drive up to Gooseberry on a whim and spend time at the park, but it takes more planning now that we have a little one (like everything when kids are involved!). So below are my top 5 tips for visiting Gooseberry Falls with kids.

Tip #1 Getting Started

Gooseberry Falls is an awesome place and you will probably spend more time there than you would have anticipated. With that in mind, pack water and snacks just to be safe. There are not spots out on the trails to refill water bottles or purchase snacks so bring your own. Just be sure to take every thing that you bring in out of the park again…remember, no littering! Also, there are lots of stairs in the park and on a hot summer day you can become dehydrated very easily. The visitor center is by the parking lots if you would like to fill water bottles before you get started. Another thing to consider is the weather. If you aren’t familiar with Lake Superior, it can be noticeably cooler than even a couple miles inland. Prepare for you and your little ones by packing an extra layer or two.

Tip #2 Plan for the Littles

Gooseberry is great for people of all ages and as far as water-falling on the North Shore, it is very accessible. The parking lots are easy to navigate and the visitor center is large and accommodating. The trail to the upper falls is nicely paved and easy to access via stroller or wheel chair. However, that is only to the upper falls – there are four in total. If you would like to visit the other waterfalls, a stroller is not going to work. I suggest a carrier for the little ones if you would like to do more exploring on the trails or falls. There is a lot to see at Gooseberry and a good carrier could make your trip that much more enjoyable!

Tip #3 Before you Hike…

As I said before, there is a visitor center near the parking lot. This is one of the only areas in the park where there are restrooms (there are also some down by the beach and campground but none along the falls). So be sure that everyone in your party uses the facilities before you start. I guarantee that if you only kinda have to go and you get to the falls and hear the thousands of gallons of water rushing over the cliffs, your kinda-have-to-go will change into a need-to-go!

Tip #4 Events

As mentioned, there is a fantastic visitor center at Gooseberry. For example, they have a section that is a dedicated education center. There is much to learn about the geography of the area and the plants and animals that call the park home. Gooseberry also offers many special events for learning at the park (you can check out their full calendar of events here). There is something for all levels of interest, including guided hikes, birding, interesting special programs, and geocaching.

Tip #5 Safety

I hate to bring down the mood with safety but it should be a serious consideration when out in the forests. Most accidents should be able to be avoided if the safety rules are followed. Gooseberry has signs posted that indicate warnings and risks – read them, follow them, and ensure everyone in your party follows them. There can be some real dangers in the park, so they are there for a reason. One of the biggest rules that I see people disregarding all the time is playing in the water. Because the river has some very strong currents, little kids could very easily be swept away. Stay out of the water in non-designated swim areas. These areas are also liable to change, so if you visit one year to the next the park may update these due to the ever changing nature of the river.

Also pay attention to warning signs at the beach. Lake Superior is obviously a very large body of water that is unpredictable. Things to be especially aware of are postings regarding rip tides and E. coli in the water. You can find more information on rip tides here and here. Though they are not an everyday occurrence, it is best to be informed!

I have one last safety note to pass on: be cautious on cliff edges because it’s easy for anyone to fall. But another is that the rock edge may not be stable and rock slides can (and do) occur, potentially endangering others. It is best to stay back from the edge and enjoy the view.

I sounded very much like a concerned mom in that last tip. But then again I am a mom so I guess if the hat fits, right?

5 Tips for Visiting Gooseberry Falls with Kids

Bonus Tips

My first tip is that it can get really busy during the day. Shoot for visiting early in the day and/or early in the evening.

Second tip – Gooseberry is family friendly, and that includes our four legged friends! Be sure that your pet can handle being around many people and keep them leashed at all times. Also clean up after your pet…it should be a given but some people don’t do it.

I hope with these tips you can have a fun family vacation at Gooseberry Falls. It is one of my favorite places on the North Shore and definitely worth checking out!

Let me know if you have any comments or questions. I would love to hear about your adventures at Gooseberry, so leave a comment below!

See more post here.