Tag Archives: natural parenting

Probiotic “Green” House Cleaning

You are probably familiar with the idea that eating probiotics, like the ones found in yogurt and other cultured foods, are good for you and help balance out the “bad” bacteria, especially in your digestive track. And you have probably heard about the risks of overusing antibiotic medicine and antibacterial soaps and cleaning products. But did you know that probiotics can be used to clean your home?

Probiotics are microorganisms, usually bacteria, that are all around us… in a “biofilm” in our guts, on our skin, on surfaces in our home and are considered to be beneficial or healthy. For more on this, I loved the article by Michael Pollan, Some of My Best Friends are Germs, that was on the cover of the New York Times Magazine a few months ago. He talks about how we are really “superorganisms,” sharing our body with 100 trillion microbials and of the harm we have unwittingly done in the last decade by using antibiotics.

Probiotic Cleaning

I recently had the opportunity to try out a local San Diego company’s housecleaning services and to speak at length with one of the employees about probiotic cleaning. What interested me in this company, Naked Clean, was their use of special probiotic cleaning products instead of harsh chemicals. I have been trying to move away from all antibacterial and bleach-based products in my home. I have been trying to use things like vinegar and baking soda but have still been looking for something better. You can read more about why they use probiotics here.

Naked Clean Green House Cleaning

I first heard about Naked Clean on SanDiegoBargainMama.com and thought it sounded pretty cool. I’m normally sensitive to artificial scents, but pregnant I’m even more so. So when the opportunity to review them came up, I jumped. Full disclosure: I received a free demonstration of their house cleaning (2 housekeepers for 1.5 hours) and a sample of Naked Clean’s probiotic cleanser. The opinions expressed are entirely my own, based on their sample cleaning and my own use of their cleaner, primarily in my kitchen. I am also human and any errors or inaccuracies are unintentional and will gladly be corrected.

What most impressed me from their sample cleaning was the white kitchen sink and sparkling, spotless stainless faucet, even brighter than when it has been bleached. At first I thought I might be imagining it, but not only did my sink get as bright white as when it has been bleached, but it actually seemed to STAY white for days, even after dumping coffee grounds in the sink.

When I told Dave, the in-home estimator at Naked Clean, how the sparkling white kitchen sink impressed me, he explained a little more about how it worked. He said that bleach appears to whiten the sink or tile grout because it actually eats away a thin layer of the enamel or porcelain each time it is used. With time, it makes the sink more porous so that it will actually stain more quickly in the future. Their probiotic cleaner, on the other hand, contains a natural cleanser, or surfactant, as well as the probiotics. The surfactant does basic cleaning and the probiotics work on the layer of microscopic biofilm that can contain harmful bacteria, such as Salmonella, Campylobacter, and E. Coli. What’s more, he explained, the probiotics stay alive for three days. So even after a surface has been cleaned, they continue to protect, without you having to do anything. This immediately piqued my interest. I have always had a phobia of the cooties from raw chicken and, ever since my husband and I suffered Montezuma’s revenge for weeks from campylobacter, I have wanted everything STERILE!


I can imagine the skeptics doubting the claim “clean once and it stays protected for three days.” Well, there is some good evidence to back it up! This study, conducted in Europe, compared cleaning a hospital with probiotics instead of antibacterial disinfectants. With the rise in MRSA and other antibiotic-resistant infections, hospitals have an interest in a disinfectant that can protect vulnerable patients without causing more super-germs. On the other hand, harmful bacteria do need to be managed. The results showed that, not surprisingly, traditional antibiotic disinfectants killed all kinds of bacteria (good and bad) quickly. However, by wiping out both harmful and beneficial bacteria, they created a blank canvas in which the harmful bacteria quickly repopulate. The probiotic cleaner on the other hand, reduced the harmful bacteria and maintained the healthy balance for three days. The study explains:

The idea behind COMPETITIVE EXCLUSION is that during the cleaning procedure a layer of probiotic bacteria is placed on the treated surface, therefore, immediately occupying the ‘field’, the area treated, with beneficial (good) bacteria. These probiotic bacteria act like allied “solders” that overwhelm the area and that will consume all of the available food sources (including dead organic matter by means of necrotrophy), leaving nothing behind for potential pathogenic invaders requiring space and food. The probiotic bacteria are formulated to be extremely efficient and outdo all other (pathogenic) bacteria. Additional to competitive exclusion, also, most important, QUORUM SENSING between pathogenic bacteria is influenced. This is an extremely fast way of communication between bacteria, making use of signal molecules. When the probiotic bacteria are applied to a surface, this immediately results in the fact that pathogenic bacteria, by means of quorum sensing, are communicated about this unfavorable condition, causing them to go into an inactive metabolic state.

This info-graphic summarizes how this works:

Probiotic Cleaning

Naked Clean’s Green House Cleaning Service

I have been a fan of getting a little “help” around the house for years. Even back in the days when I was a graduate student, working for free in this lovely system called “interning,” the little bit of money I could devote to a bimonthly professional cleaning was well worth the time and agony it saved me. Let’s just say that I like a clean and sanitary home more than I like actually cleaning. Once I moved in with Papa Bird, who likes things even neater than me, having regular professional help cleaning the house prevented a lot of fights. Once every two weeks we don’t have to worry about who is going to do the dishes or finish the laundry. A colleague of mine who is a Marriage and Family Therapist once said that paying a housekeeper was money better spent than on couple’s therapy.

Scheduling with Naked Clean was pretty simple. I was given a one hour window of when they would arrive. The house cleaners usually work in teams of two. One nice touch I appreciated: I received an email confirmation the day before. Overall, the cleaning they did was thorough and professional and I love that there was no chemical smell from the products. When I used the probiotic cleaner afterwards, I thought it had a light, fresh scent, but apparently it contains no fragrance at all. I used to hate the idea of giving Little Bird a bath in a tub that had been cleaned with bleach and other chemicals and I’m so happy to have found a natural alternative.

You would think that green cleaning services would be expensive, especially since all of the products and supplies are provided by them. They advertise prices that are a little more than hiring someone off the street, but less than most cleaning companies, and I find that to be true. For example, they start at $65 for 5 rooms.

I’m also happy to extend a special offer to my readers: $40 off your first cleaning when you mention the Baby Bird’s Farm blog! Contact them here. I hope you do and let us know what you think!

Updates and News

Hey all, I’ve got a few quick updates!

1. I’ve joined theboobgroup.com as a regular blogger. My first post, on Breastfeeding While Pregnant, was published this week.

Breastfeeding While Pregnant

2. Next, if you read my post on Our Baby Centered Approach to Introducing Solids, you may have seen that I recently joined a taping of the Boob Group podcast on “Breastfeeding and Introducing Solids” as a panelist. The podcast is now live and available here or through the podcast app on your smart phone.

Introducing Solids


3. And congratulations to Tamara, winner of our giveaway of three of our favorite natural morning sickness remedies! Although her selection was random, I was happy our winner is someone who can currently benefit from some relief. I hope at least one of the products helps her!

Win a Morning Sickness Prize Pack!


Traveling with Cloth Diapers or Hybrid Diapers?

My family and I just enjoyed a quick family trip out of town. It is getting to be summer and a great time for traveling and visiting family. I imagine others will be planning summer travel soon and wanted to share some tips on how to travel with cloth or hybrid diapers. Traveling with hybrid diapers is super convenient, and with these tips, traveling with cloth diapers may be easier than you think.

tips for traveling with cloth diapers on babybirdsfarm

If you saw my posts on getting started with cloth diapers or composting diapers, you know that we are big fans of using reusable diapers at home. Many parents wonder what to do, however, when getting on the road. Disposable diapers are convenient, sure, but we still had concerns about using them traveling, including the environmental impact, the cost of buying a product you use once a then throw away, and increased diaper rash. We found using the gDiapers hybrid diaper system away from home surprisingly easy! So far they have joined us on numerous long weekend trips and a three-state, two-week journey last summer. Here are some of my tips.

Plan ahead.

If you will be staying with friends or family, ask them ahead of time if they would mind if you washed cloth diapers in their washing machine. So far no one has turned us down, but we also let them know that we wouldn’t mind using disposables if they did. Tip: I brought a small amount of our dye- and perfume-free detergent with me.

If you will be needing a hotel, consider getting a vacation rental instead. We LOVE vacation rentals for the privacy, kitchens and amenities–not to mention value. So far we have stayed in a condo right on the beach in Florida, cabins in Big Bear, and (for our honeymoon) an amazing house in Bali. Two websites I have had luck on are vrbo.com and homeaway.com.  Just make sure the property you are considering has a washer and dryer. You will want it for laundry anyway. :)


Use disposable inserts.

At home we use gDiapers cloth inserts during the day and biodegradable disposable inserts for sleep. For long car rides and flying, we also like to use the disposable inserts. They hold more, can be changed less often, and can conveniently be tossed in the trash when done.

Even if you use strictly cloth at home, consider trying a biodegradable insert in your pocket diaper for travel. Although the fit is maximized for gDiapers, I’ve heard other families use them with other brand cloth diaper covers with success.

For a long trip (4-5 days or longer)…

… I liked setting up a mini diaper changing station, just like at home, with cloth diaper wipes and diaper area spray. I brought two waterproof laundry bags (one for clean and one for dirty) and washed the diapers every few days. I also liked packing all of the clean cloth diapers and wipes in a clean laundry bag for travel days. It made the suitcase a little more organized.

For a short trip…

…cut yourself some slack! On our last 2-night trip it just seemed easier to use a mix of gDiapers with biodegradable inserts and traditional disposable diapers (in our case, we like Huggies Pure and Natural) instead of taking our cloth diapers traveling. We also made it easy with disposable wipes. Hey, it’s vacation!

swim diaper

And don’t forget the swim diapers!

So far we like iplay’s plain white swim diaper and their swim diaper with a matching rash guard. Pack at least two.

Update: A version of this post has been republished on the gDiapers blog “Diaper Therapy.” Check it out!

what tips do you have for traveling with cloth diapers? Please share in the comments.

Ticket Giveaway: Your Natural Baby Fair!

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Your Natural Baby Fair and by New Mommy Media who are providing the free tickets and prices. All opinions are my own.

Win 2 tix to Your Natural Baby Fair --Free

Last year Baby Bird and I ventured out to Your Natural Baby Fair. As it so happens, I won my ticket by commenting on the San Diego Breastfeeding Center’s blog. Even though my family will be out of town this year, I was thinking about sharing about the fair anyway, as it is something I really believe in. When I was recently offered the opportunity to pass on some free tickets to my readers, I figured this is a perfect way to pay it forward (or is it pay it back?), in gratitude for my free pass last year!

This year’s fair features Dr. Sears, the author of the Vaccine Book, as the keynote speaker. The fair has grown, supposedly doubled, and is in a new location. Even if you are not in San Diego, please consider entering the contest, as there is also the opportunity to win a subscription to a New Mommy Media podcast.

Scroll down to the bottom to enter!

The following information (in blue) was provided by Your Natural Baby Fair:

Your Natural BabyFair partners with local businesses to reinvent the traditional baby fair by focusing awareness on natural supports and holistic health from before your baby is born through childhood. Parents, practitioners, experts and families are welcomed to learn the latest trends of creating a healthy and nurturing environment for the whole family.

We are excited to announce our keynote speaker – Dr. Sears, MD FAAP, Author of the newly revised and updated “The Vaccine Book.” Dr. Sears will be speaking on Vaccine Decisions for Pregnant Women, Infants, and Families.

Our online and live auction the day of the fair will be benefitting the Protect our Children Now Campaign to demonstrate the results of Vitamin D health for pregnancy and children brought to you by GrassrootsHealth and the DAction Network.

This event is for anyone who is interested in learning more about all things supportive for fertility, pregnancy, birth and baby. Whether you are a practitioner, expert, parent or someone interested in learning the most recent trends in health and wellness for you and your family, we will have something worth your while!

  • FREE goodie bags for the first 200 to arrive
  • THREE classrooms filled with educational presentations by local and national experts in the fields of fertility, birth, bonding, health and baby care
  • A room full of vendors,  shopping and demonstrations (sign language, food making, chiropractic, kids fitness, music, baby-wearing, cloth diapering and more!)
  • Kids’ entertainment, including face painting, kid’s classes and HULLABALOO!!!
  • ONLINE AUCTION to benefit the Protect our Children NOW and GrassrootsHealth
  • A great event for both practitioners / professionals and families!!
  • ARRIVE EARLY! Our first presenters start at 10:00…doors open at 9:00am… Registration will begin at 8:30am.

TICKET SALES: Click Here

When: Saturday April 27th 9am to 4pm
Where: Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina 1380 Harbor Island Drive

Date

This year Your Natural Baby Fair is expanding its reach with LIVE broadcasting from the event via New Mommy Media, which produces three podcasts that cover topics new and expecting parents want to know more about in a dynamic panel discussion with a new episode released each week. 

Mama Bird here: New Mommy Media is the group that produces the podcast I recently was a panelist on–which I mentioned in the post on Introducing Solids.

Please submit a question for Sunny Gault of New Mommy Media to ask of one of the amazing speakers:

SearsDr. Bob Sears will deliver the keynote: Vaccine Decisions for Pregnant Women, Infants, and Families.

Simkin
Penny Simkin will talk about The First Hour After Birth: What Parents Need To Know.

Baggerly
Carole Baggerly’s talk is titled: Vitamin D for LIFE Protection–Pregnancy through Maturity.

AND if your question is chosen you may end up asking it LIVE either at the event or via phone!

In the comments below pose your best question to one or all three of the experts, please indicate to whom your question is directed. If one of your questions is chosen, you will receive a one year subscription to the New Mommy Media podcast program of your choice, Preggie Pals, The Boob Group or Parent Savers and also win a ticket to attend the event PLUS the opportunity to ask the expert your question LIVE on air!

IN ADDITION Natural Baby Pros and New Mommy Media are awarding 2 tickets to a random winner, so submit your questions and get your bonus entries to increase your chances of winning!

Win free tix to Your Natural Baby Fair!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Composting Diapers?

How to compost diapers on BabyBirdsFarm.com

Not that long ago it was International Babywearing Day. I posted on our Facebook Page about how babywearing (which is simply wearing a baby or toddler in a sling, wrap or other carrier) has made it easier for us to cook, garden and compost. My sister laughed at the mention of babywearing and taking out the compost, questioning if she was truly related to someone so crunchy. I had to take it a step further saying that I chuckled myself the first time I wore baby while composting her wet diapers. Composting diapers? Yup. It may sound impossibly crunchy but more and more parents are ready for creative ways to reduce their babies’ impact on their environment. It is their earth to inherent, isn’t it?

One man's trash...

I recently shared more about why we like cloth and hybrid diapers in this last post, which also talks about how to set up and organize your system. Please do not try to compost a conventional disposable diaper. It would take eons and the plastic and chemicals in it would not be something you want in your garden, let alone your food. We only use gDiapers biodegradable inserts, which, as far as I know, are the only ones that are “cradle to cradle” certified and completely biodegradable.

Although we love the fit, feel and ease of use of using the whole gDiaper system, we initially had only so-so results flushing the biodegradable inserts. My husband was afraid they were negatively affecting the plumbing in our older home. Then I learned that not all in my household had read the directions and were trying to flush the inserts whole. Check out this link for tips on how to flush gDiaper inserts. I recommend getting everyone who will care for baby on the same page, something that in those fuzzy first few weeks of parenthood I must not have done as well as I thought. I also recently learned that flushing the inserts is not recommended when you have pipes infested with tree roots. We have a couple dozen malaluca trees in front of and around our house and just last week the city was working on the sewers and pulled out this massive root ball. (See the picture in the gallery below.)

But composting the biodegradable inserts is a win-win in my book. Urine is an excellent source of nitrogen, and a good source of phosphorus and potassium, making the practice of composting diapers a boon for the garden. Healthy urine is non-toxic. In fact, diluted urine has actually been used directly as a fertilizer.¹ All plants require micronutrients and nitrogen is often in short supply. Vegetables, in particular, are prone to nitrogen deficiency.² (By the way, legumes, such as beans, are an exception, as they actually produce nitrogen. This is why co-planting nitrogen-fixing beans with corn and squash is so helpful. Check out more on this in my post on the Three Sisters.)

To be clear, we do not compost diapers with poop. In our home all poop is flushed down the toilet, baby’s included (and chickens’ excluded). The sewer system is much better equipped to handle human waste than the trash system. Did you know that technically you are supposed to remove and flush the poop from disposable diapers before throwing them away? How many people do you think do that??

…any way, the veggies on the Bird Family Farm looove Baby Bird! (And she loves them.) We put every wet insert, about two/day, along with a lot of kitchen scraps and some yard clippings into a continuous composter. To get the inserts to break down faster, you could rip them open, but we never bother. And, voila! Black Gold…

Black Gold

Click on any photo below to enlarge.

¹http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urine  ²http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nitrogen_deficiency