Get Your Kids to Read More with Your Local Library

I grew up in a library family. We went to story time at the library from when we were toddlers. We knew the children’s librarian by name (and she still works there and recognized me 30 years later). My mom would take us to the library with a brown plastic milk crate, and once it was full that meant we had to check out. The librarian carefully stamped the due date on the inside cover of each book before my mom lugged the full crate to the car. I still remember laboriously printing my name on my first library card when I was 5 years old and proudly checking out books to my own account.

My family uses the library system a lot, but it looks much different now. My oldest does have his own library card, but the mini version dangles from my key fob. He knows how to scan it in the self-checkout machine where he stacks his own selections that he put on hold using my phone. The kids argue over whose turn it is to push the button that prints the receipt that I don’t want since I track all the due dates in the library app. 

How to Use the Library So Your Kids Love to Read

My kids love reading, and books are expensive in large quantities. It’s much easier to get one from the library and if you don’t love it, you can just take it back. Who doesn't love free books for kids? I’ve talked to friends who haven’t started using the library much, and they were surprised by how easy it is, and the variety of ways we use it. As my friend Julie put it, “Library books are a great way to keep reading exciting and interesting without me going broke.” 

So here are a few strategies we use to find awesome library resources, and how we support local libraries. We do live in a large metropolitan area with both city and county library systems, so that will affect the resources we have, but that’s the personal experience I have to share with you.

Taking Kids to the Library in Person

I’m writing this during the pandemic, so in-person browsing is a thing of the past here! Hopefully you can take your child to the library soon and try out these ideas, and much of it translates to online browsing. I’ll explain in a minute.

When my kids were younger, the library was a great place to spend an hour or so with storytime, and then wandering the kids area. As they get older, there are arts and crafts events, classes, and some locations even have science and Lego clubs. Even now when we're limited to no-contact pickups, they've had craft bags for the kids.

When they’re really little, it doesn’t matter so much what books you (or they) choose since it’s mostly to add variety for YOU at home. Whether that’s you picking up a few board books, or a toddler clinging to a book about cats, it helps a lot when you’re ready to throw Chicka Chicka Boom Boom out the window. 


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Three ways I tend to browse for my kids when they’re young are:

  • upcoming seasons or holidays
  • themes like letters, colors, counting, animals, etc.
  • library displays like Black History Month

Librarians put a lot of work into those themed displays, and they want you to read those books! 

Once mine got older (read: faster, louder, and outnumbered me), hanging out at the library wasn’t as attractive. That’s when I order books to put on hold, then just run in to pick them up. If I’m feeling really benevolent, I let each kid choose 1-3 books off the shelf, too. 

How To Help Your Kids Choose Library Books

Now that we can’t go inside the library, how do we choose which books to check out? Here are a few of my favorite sources.

Diverse Reading Lists

I am constantly watching sites for book lists. I save a lot of lists on my Book Suggestions for Kids Pinterest board. A Mighty Girl is another great resource.

Our library website (see image above) curates book lists on various topics for kids which are great. Our city library uses BiblioCommons, along with many others--you can see if yours does here--and have the same interface on their local websites. I cover using the mobile app below. 

And various librarian groups also give awards with lists of nominees and winners. 

Children’s Books Social Media Accounts

Instagram and Facebook are a gold mine of book suggestions and reviews. Some of my favorites are:

 

Two More Book Search Tips

If we have a book the kids like, or I see an interesting one online, I look it up on Amazon and see which related books come up to get more ideas.

I also love the Library Extension plugin for your browser which tells you if a book is available in your local library system when you look it up on Amazon or another bookstore site. On the left you can see what came up when I searched for the third How to Train Your Dragon book.

Using Your Local Library App

When I learned that our library had an app, my life became a billion times easier. I could place holds, check my due dates, and look up books without having to get to the computer that my children wanted to touch and pull off my desk. I could browse for books while nursing a baby or making lunch. I was thrilled. It even stores my barcode so I can't forget my library card!

My kids and I regularly use the app to find books. The most common searches we do are:

  • Browsing through new arrivals
  • Searching a topic of interest (previously: pirates, currently: chickens)
  • Looking for other books by authors they like

Bibliocommons Library app screenshotBibliocommons Library app screenshot

I regularly pull up the New Arrivals section and refine the results. I choose Format: “Books” -> Audience: “Children” and then choose a topic, content, form, or genre if desired. My kids wedge themselves on either side of me and point out the ones they want, poking the + button to put them on hold. 

Bibliocommons Library app screenshotBibliocommons Library app screenshot

Sometimes if a topic has come up, I ask if they want to order out some books about it. Then I search for that topic, sort by format and audience again, and see what comes up. Sometimes it takes more digging, or adding a year of publication after a certain date. Worst case scenario is that we take it back! 

Bibliocommons Library app screenshotIf we find books that they like, we’ll often look up the author for other books they’ve written or illustrated. That’s how we stumbled across Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot, written by Dav Pilkey (best known for Captain Underpants) and illustrated by Dan Santat (we love many of his books, including his Caldecott award winning book Beekle). 

We place books on hold (at the San Diego Public Library, you can have 25 items on hold, and 40 items checked out at a time), watch for an email, and pop over to pick up our reserved items when they arrive! Right now the library buildings aren’t open; it’s just no-contact pick ups. When the library is open, they have the hold section by last name, but they hold CDs/DVDs behind the desk. 

Using Your Library For Audio Resources

We get more than books from the library, too! Though my kids love podcasts, they're also huge audiobook fans. Audiobooks are a great bridge for new readers who can understand more complex plots but can’t yet read them on their own. It's also great for kids who want you to read chapter books, but younger siblings aren't ready for them (or need you to put them down for a nap).

We get them on CD from the library to listen to at home or in the car, or we download audiobooks from the online catalog. The upside to the electronic version is that it’s usually faster. The downside is that it requires a device to play it. My oldest is currently listening to the How to Train Your Dragon series read by David Tennant, and I'm not sad about that.

You can check out music CDs and DVDs at our library, too. We’ve borrowed items from Sesame Street songs to Halloween music to Peter and the Wolf (there's a David Bowie version, y'all). We don’t do TV, but if you don’t have cable, or you don’t want Netflix to autoplay an entire season of a kids show, you can pop a DVD in instead.

There are also plenty of eBook options available without even leaving home. We have both a city and county library near us, and they use different digital catalogs--you can have accounts at both. The city uses cloudLibrary and Overdrive, and the county uses the Libby app. Libby has a great feature where you can "skip the line" and immediately check out popular items, and you can read them on your Kindle app if you want. Audiobooks are also available for download.

We’re lucky to have so many ways to get information so easily.

Virtual Library Events

Story time may be canceled due to COVID, but many libraries are still hosting virtual events. Check your local branch's website or Facebook page for science demos, homework help, author talks, and more. 

My kids love the reading programs our library does. We track their books, report the results, and collect goodie bags with coupons for local restaurants, and a free book from the library. Check out the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program on Beanstack.

Last, watch for fun contests. My oldest submitted a drawing to a contest at our local branch and won $25 and an award from our city council. (He used the money to buy a robot.)

Managing Your Borrowed Items

We have a separate shelf for library books versus our own books. Sometimes they do get co-mingled, but it helps. By using the app, I can figure out what’s due back next, or how many books I need to collect for return. We go to the library frequently, and it’s only a mile away, so it’s a constant in and out.

My friend, Julie, shared her solution: “I have two baskets by the door: one for library books we are still reading, one for books we're ready to return.” I took her idea and got a bin to put books the kids want to return, or for me to put books that are due soon. Then I just grab that bin when I'm heading out.

How Do You Use The Library?

I realize this is a lot of information, but I love the library so much! What was most useful? Did you learn anything new?

I hope you're inspired to take advantage of some of the many resources the library provides. If you found it helpful, pin it on Pinterest or share it on Facebook so others can benefit, too!

50 Ideas for Physical Self-Care That Aren’t Baths or Pedicures

We all KNOW we need more self-care. "Put on your own oxygen mask first!"

Cool. Where is my oxygen mask anyway? I think my kids hid it along with the floor of my living room. Sounds great, though.

Many parents that I work with as coaching clients, or in my online group, say that the phrase self-care actually stresses them out, because it's just another way the feel they're failing, and adds one more item on their never-ending to-do list.

But often we're thinking of self-care in terms of big commitments of time, money, childcare, or all three. That doesn't have to be the case. So what are some ways to fit in self-care activities that improve your wellbeing?

Physical Self-Care: 50 ideas to get you started

Simple Physical Self-Care Ideas for Moms

Physical self-care might sound the most straightforward, but there are a range of activities that can fall under it which may not be as obvious. If you start feeling overwhelmed, try asking yourself, "How could this work for me?" (more…)

The 6 Types of Self-Care Parents Need (with Printable PDF)

We all know that self-care is incredibly important for care-givers, especially parents. But if you're like most of my clients, knowing that and implementing that are two totally different things.

Did a big chunk of free time and a sack of cash fall in your lap lately? Mine either.

But I want you to know that you don't need a lot of time OR money to fit self-care into your daily life - even with small children jumping on you all day.

6 Types of Self Care for Busy Parents

First off, let's redefine self-care - what it IS, and what it is NOT.

Self-care is NOT an optional luxury.
Self-care is anything you deliberately do that improves your physical, mental, or emotional well-being.

We also tend to think of self-care as solitary activities ("me time") away from home. Especially right now, that may not be an option, and then we feel trapped and resentful.

Just me? No?

For introverts or highly-sensitive people, that may be part of it. But there are 6 categories of self-care that are all important, so let's break those down now.

6 Types of Self-Care

(more…)

17 Ideas for Easy, Kid-Friendly, Healthy Snacks (with Vegan, Gluten-Free, and Paleo Options)

17 Easy Kid-Friendly Snack Ideas


My group, the Semi-Crunchy Mama® Club, has a weekly Meal Planning Monday thread, and most people focus on dinners for the week. Totally valid, since decision fatigue kicks in and that's the meal that takes the most planning and coordination.

But for most of us with limited child-care options and closed schools for the last few months, and summer kicking off, snacks become the bane of our existence. Or you AND your kids are bored of the usual suspects.

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If you missed it, I last posted 17 ideas for breakfast, and then 17 ideas for dinner, and now here are some ideas for snacks! Use them as a jumping off point, and substitute as needed. This is a simple list--you can even print the graphic out--and I'll add details, recipes, and dietary restriction advice in these posts.

We definitely have bags of snacky foods around, too, but I try to get less processed items into them as well.

None of them are earth-shaking, but if you're stuck in a rut, just one or two new ideas can help mix things up enough. I've linked a few recipes, but there's no right or wrong variation of these. Let me know which idea is your favorite or the most helpful!
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17 Easy Kid-Friendly Dinner Ideas (with Vegan, Gluten-Free, and Paleo Friendly Options)

17 Easy Kid-Friendly Dinner Ideas


Our weekly Meal Planning Monday post in my group, the Semi-Crunchy Mama® Club, has been a little slow lately. People said they're struggling to focus and plan ahead with so much uncertainty in the world.

I get it. We have definitely had more "scrounge in the fridge for whatever people will eat" nights than ever before. If you're in the same boat and just need a little nudge to get back on track, I made this list in the hope that you'll find some inspiration.

If you missed it, I last posted 17 ideas for breakfast. Here are 17 ideas for dinner, and next I'll post some snacks! Use them as a jumping off point, and substitute as needed. I have a simple list--you can even print the graphic out--and I'll add details, recipes, and dietary restriction advice in these posts.

I've linked a few recipes, but there's no right or wrong variation of these. Let me know which idea is your favorite or the most helpful!
(more…)

17 Easy Kid-Friendly Breakfast Ideas (with Vegan, Paleo, and Gluten-Free Options)

17 Breakfast Ideas

17 Breakfast Ideas


Every week in my group, the Semi-Crunchy Mama™ Club, we have a Meal Planning Monday post to share weekly menus, recipes, and other food inspiration.

Lately there hasn't been much engagement, so I asked why. Everyone said they're just too overwhelmed to even think about meal planning, grocery shopping is stressful, and it just feels like too much. But the whole point of meal planning is to AVOID feeling overwhelmed, because when you have to make decisions about what to eat (and feed your kids) multiple times per day, it's draining.

So I came up with 17 ideas for breakfast, snacks, and dinners to share with you for inspiration. Use them as a jumping off point, substitute as needed. I have a simple list--you can even print the graphic out--and I'll add details, recipes, and dietary restriction advice in these posts.

Hopefully this will save a few of your brain cells so you can use them for navigating sibling squabbles, or remembering what day it is. Let me know which idea is your favorite or the most helpful!

17 Easy Kid-Friendly Ideas for Breakfast

17 Easy Kid-Friendly Breakfast Ideas

Overnight oats

Make ahead! Easily made gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan. Already egg-free and vegetarian.
Most basic: Combine 1/2 cup oats, and 1/2 cup milk (or alternative) in a container and refrigerate overnight. That's it.
I use gluten-free oats and almond milk, add cinnamon, shredded coconut, and raisins.
Get fancy with chopped nuts, diced fruit, chia seeds, nut butter, or even cocoa powder.

Scrambled eggs and toast

Use gluten-free bread if needed.
Or eggs over easy. Whatever!
Can't have eggs or want to make it vegan? Use scrambled tofu.

Cereal

Many gluten-free/vegan options available.
Lazy but effective!

Chia pudding

Make ahead! Gluten-free, dairy-free unless you choose otherwise, vegan.
Similar to overnight oats, chia pudding is an easy make-ahead option that's slightly more hippie-dippy. The base is just 1 tablespoon of chia seeds, 3/4 cup of almond milk, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Combine well and let stand for at least 15 minutes, but overnight is easier.

Here are 6 different ways to jazz up chia pudding. I like mine with fresh fruit.

Smoothies

Gluten-free, easily made dairy-free and vegan.
Smoothies aren't new, but have you made smoothie PACKS? Prepping smoothies ahead of time can be a game changer. Pack all your ingredients in a zip-top bag and toss it in the freezer. Bonus points for multiple bags. Then just grab one, dump the contents in the blender, add your choice of liquid, and you're set!

My favorite green smoothie is frozen mango, a peeled orange, a peeled lemon, 3 giant handfuls of leafy greens, almond or coconut milk, and I throw in a scoop of collagen (not vegan) and half an avocado if I have it.

My kids will only drink "pink" smoothies, so they like frozen cherries, strawberries, and mango in theirs.

Yogurt parfaits

Use non-dairy yogurt if needed, and not all granola is gluten-free.
Yogurt is an easy source of fat and protein, and adding granola and fresh fruit make it more filling, and more fancy! Serve in fancy bowls or jars if you need a little boost.

Bagels with cream cheese

We get gluten-free bagels and vegan cream cheese for one kiddo. We have not had luck finding GF vegan bagels ourselves (most contain eggs), but they do exist.
My oldest who needs a lot of sensory input does well with a chewy whole grain bagel in the morning, plus the fat in the cream cheese.

Avocado toast

Lots of options depending on the bread.
My oldest has recently discovered the wonders of avocado toast and loves it. I like that he will eat whole grain bread with healthy fats. Use gluten-free bread if needed. I love mine with salt and pepper, and a poached egg.

Some people like sprinkling theirs with chili powder and lime juice, or Everything But the Bagel seasoning. Make sure you add a dusting of salt to kick up the flavor.

Sweet potato hash

So many options. Gluten-free, easily vegan or vegetarian.
This is my current go-to breakfast since I can't eat eggs (the baby reacts to eggs, and she loves this, too). The way I make it is a little fussy, so adjust, or prep the night before.

I sauté 1/4 of a small onion and a handful of sliced mushrooms in an oiled cast iron skillet while I peel and dice a medium-large sweet potato. Smaller pieces cook faster. Add the sweet potato and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently. When the sweet potato is starting to soften, I add diced chicken-apple sausage (omit if desired, or sub diced tofu, beans, or top with eggs at the end), broccoli florets or a pile of leafy greens, and a minced clove of garlic. I cover the pan to steam the sweet potatoes a bit. It's done when the sweet potatoes are fork-tender.

I top mine with a small scoop of vegan kale-cashew pesto, and a dollop of garlic spread, both from Trader Joe's. Salsa or hot sauce are also delicious toppings.

Bacon and hashbrowns

Check that your bacon is gluten-free if needed. Tempeh is a good vegan option!
This is my kids' current favorite. We get frozen potatoes and toss everything in the oven.

Muffins

Make ahead! So many choices for food restrictions!
Make a big batch and freeze, and it's a possible activity for your kids to help with. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Millet Muffins
Aussie Bites (Costco knock-off!)
Paleo GF Pumpkin Muffins
Anti-Inflammatory Coconut Sweet Potato Muffins (vegan, GF)

Waffles

Again! Options!
Trader Joe's has frozen gluten-free vegan waffles which my kids eat with jam. Or make a big batch and freeze your own. If you're one of the many people with a new sourdough starter, sourdough waffles are awesome.

Pancakes

We've used the paleo Birch Benders mix from Costco (though now I can't have it because it contains eggs), or it's easy to make your own. It's time consuming, so this is another one to make a double batch of, then reheat the next day (or freeze and toast).

Oatmeal with nuts and/or fruit

We get gluten-free oats, and my kids love adding cinnamon, raisins, and almond milk. One likes peanut butter an chia seeds; the other does not.

You can make chewier steel cut oats in the Instant Pot, or using this cheater stovetop method. Bring 3 cups of water and 1 cup of steel cut oats to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, cover, and turn off heat. Let stand overnight. In the morning, turn the burner on low to reheat, and serve warm.

Egg cups

Make ahead! The egg version is gluten-free and dairy-free. Vegetarian optional.
It's like muffins, but with eggs. They're basically mini quiches and you can customize the fillings for various preferences.

Here is a recipe for you.
And I found a vegan option for this one!

Omelets/egg scramble

Again, very customizable.
Here are two vegan omelet recipes:
This one uses silken tofu.
This one uses chickpea flour.

Or just use crumbled/diced tofu--or actual eggs--and sauté some veggies with them. Top with salsa or hot sauce and enjoy.

That's 17 ideas for you!

Let me know if you were inspired to make something new, or add more ideas in the comments. Join us in the Semi-Crunchy Mama™ Club for weekly inspiration and support.

Next up: 17 dinner ideas, then snacks...

Birth Plan Examples

Examples of birth plans from real parents, including unmedicated natural birth, sexual assault survivor, and scheduled c-section

Examples of birth plans from real parents, including unmedicated natural birth, sexual assault survivor, and scheduled c-section

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic crunchy birth plan: Have baby.

BOOM. Done. Right?

Is it inherently a little crunchy to have a birth plan at all? You don't need need one, but many parents-to-be find the process of creating a plan incredibly helpful to discuss options and preferences for labor and delivery of their baby.

Some general birth plan tips:

  • Keep it to one page. It's more likely to be read.
  • Take it to your prenatal appointment so your desires can be put on file in case your practitioner cannot attend your birth.
  • Consider a visual plan if that resonates with you.

What Makes It a Crunchy Birth Plan?

In my experience, some elements you may be considering that add to the crunchy factor could be:

  • having a birth doula (and you should!)
  • preferring an unmedicated birth if possible
  • wanting to move around freely during labor
  • not wanting to give birth laying on your back
  • requesting dim lighting and your own music
  • using essential oils during labor
  • declining cervical checks
  • declining prophylactic pitocin after birth
  • declining antibiotic eye ointment for baby

If you're not sure about these, I have a few of my favorite books for pregnancy and childbirth for you.

Birth Plan Examples from Real Moms I Know

It's helpful to see all your options, but here are some sample birth plans from friends of mine to give you an idea of what one might look like "in the wild."

CLICK HERE to read a birth plan aimed at an unmedicated vaginal birth*. It includes contingencies for Cesarean birth or if the baby is sick, too.

* I don't use the term "natural birth" because all birth is natural.

CLICK HERE to read a birth plan for a sexual abuse survivor. This is a great example of why a birth plan can be so important and empowering.

CLICK HERE for a birth plan for a scheduled Cesarean birth. Her baby was breech, but a belly birth doesn't mean you can't have a say in your experience.

Earth Mama Angel Baby also has a free birth plan checklist.

Or maybe Jeff and Jamie's birth plan is more your style. Sense of humor required. 😉

My oldest was born in the hospital and we did have a birth plan. My second birth at home was more along the lines of "have baby." You can read about my birth story here!

How to Prevent Choking During Baby-Led Weaning

How to Avoid Choking During Baby Led Weaning

In my years of teaching classes on introducing solids with baby-led weaning I always go around the room and ask everyone to introduce themselves and to share what their biggest concern they’re hoping to learn about. Number one worry, far and away, is a fear of choking.

It just seems scary to give a tiny baby actual pieces of food, doesn’t it? Possibly even dangerous! So why choose baby-led weaning to start if they could choke?

How to Avoid Choking During Baby Led Weaning

As I cover in my class, there are a few parts to this concern.

First is the difference between gagging and choking. Gagging is a natural reflex that actually prevents choking because babies are designed to survive even first-time parents. Choking is the obstruction of the airway by (in this case) a piece of food. Gagging is scary, but not dangerous; choking is to be avoided if possible.

If you haven’t taken an infant CPR class, you may feel better taking one now. You can also do a little YouTube self-study which is better than nothing. I cover this more in my introducing solids course, but choking is silent while gagging is not. My mantra is, “If they’re coughing, they’re breathing.”

Is There an Increased Risk of Choking with Baby-Led Weaning?

A 2016 study in New Zealand followed over 200 babies as they started solids and found that 35% of the babies in the whole study had a choking incident during the period they observed. The percentage was across groups who started with purees or finger foods, because the issue was that a high percentage of the babies were offered foods that were choking hazards.

The best ways to prevent choking during baby-led weaning are:

  • wait until baby is physically ready to start solids, and
  • offer foods that are developmentally appropriate for your child

Babies can’t read calendars, so it’s important to watch their motor development to ensure they’re able to eat food and maintain their posture to prevent choking during baby-led weaning.

Signs of readiness include: baby can sit well without support, baby has lost their tongue thrust reflex, baby is bringing items to their mouth, baby is starting to develop a pincer grasp, and baby is eager to participate in meals.

As I mentioned, not feeding your baby choking hazards significantly reduces the risks! In the study I mentioned above, over a third of the choking incidents reported were due to raw apples. Learn from those parents’ mistakes!

Choking hazards during baby-led weaning include: raw apples, raw vegetables, unripe/hard fruit, citrus segments, whole nuts, popcorn, whole grapes, cherry tomatoes, hot dogs/sausages, food cut into coins, hard crackers/chips, hard/chewy candy

For more in-depth information, my Introducing Solids class covers the when, why, and how of starting foods with your baby, including breastfeeding and allergens.

Hundreds of parents have felt more confident and informed while approaching solid foods with their babies. You can, too!

Five Diverse Award-Winning New Children’s Books

child sits reading book

Children are keen observers of the world and can start forming biases as early as preschool. It's not enough to mention Rosa Parks a few times on the road to raising anti-racist kids. Books are the simplest way to expose kids everywhere to stories of people who are different from themselves.

Reading books with diverse characters can offer representation of marginalized groups, context, and a starting point for additional discussions about the world.

Here is a list of award-winning titles from 2019 for kids of all ages to explore and enjoy.

Merci Suarez Changes Gears - by Meg Medina

This Newberry Award Winning book for 2019 details the challenges of Merci Suarez, a young girl, as she navigates some big changes in her life as her family relocates from their comfortable home to a new and different community. This tale offers emphasis on connection, community and instills a sense of what really matters in terms of friendship.

 

The Stuff of Stars - by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Ekua Holmes

This artful exploration of the origin of the solar system offers a poetic blend of science and art, and brings a sense of wonder and awe to kid of all ages. This 2019 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award Winner offers a seamless exploration of our universal origin, bringing with it an understanding of how we are all connected.

Rescue & Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship - by Jessica Kensky

This title won the 2019 Schneider Family Book Award for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience in the "young children" category, and for good reason. Rescue and Jessica are a girl and her service dog, and both unexpectedly find themselves in roles that they hadn't anticipated. As Jessica needs her dog, Rescue, to help her with every day tasks, he finds he truly is able to help her, and those around her to really see.

Drawn Together - written by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat

The story of a grandson and grandfather struggling to communicate across divides of language, age, and culture touches on a common experience for many families. Beautifully illustrated by award-winning artist Dan Santat (my kids looooove his books), this story of connection through art and storytelling earned an Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature in the Picture Book category.

The Remember Balloons - by Jessie Oliveros

This Schneider Family Honor Award winner for 2019 offers a gentle insight into the world of changes that come with Alzheimers' diagnosis. The story revolves around the main character, James, and his grandfather's balloons, which are treasured family memories. Each one signifies an important event, and it becomes up to James to hold and share each one.

Plus a bonus novel!

Monday’s Not Coming -  by Tiffany D. Jackson

For older readers, this mesmerizing mystery is one of friendship and community, a realistic account of events surrounding the disappearance of a teenage girl, and the efforts to find her. This young adult book offers insight into truth, justice, and the experience of children and teens of color. The book won a Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award for Tiffany D. Jackson.


What are your favorite new kids books that engage children on topics of diversity and inclusion? This list was inspired by the American Library Association.

If you purchase from one of these links provided, I receive a small commission to help me feed my tiny hobbits--at no additional cost to you. Your support is very much appreciated.

5 Best Natural Deodorants (That Actually Work!)

Your baby can recognize your scent (and your milk) at 3 days old.

And really, who couldn't with that lovely postpartum hormone-induced stank? Yikes. No one warned me about A) night sweats and B) how strongly my underarms would smell.

I've found that deodorant is one of the first personal care items that people want to start switching out for natural options, and it's literally one of the most common questions in my Facebook group, the Semi-Crunchy Mama Club.

Lucky for all of us (and those who sit nearby), I’ve collected some of the most popular recommendations for deodorants that are free of aluminum, parabens and other ingredients you want to avoid. Check out the links below for 5 great options that actually work.

Wanna DIY?

Just scroll toward the bottom for two recipes to make your own deodorant from simple ingredients. There are also a few bonus tips to detox and cleanse those mama pits. Your baby will still be able to find you, I promise!

Looking for a place to have semi-crunchy conversations, ask questions about parenting, motherhood, raising healthy (and semi-crunchy) kids? Join the club.

5 Natural Deodorants to Combat Postpartum Stank

Best Natural Deodorants

Primal Pit Paste ($13)

Primal Pit Paste was the most popular suggestion, especially the lavender roll-on. It works well for most body types. Most of these listed have similar ingredients, so it's mostly about finding the right option for your body.

What semi-crunchy fans are saying:

  • "Motherhood has definitely made my pits super stinky. I use Primal Pit Paste stick. And that works fine... until it doesn’t. I’ll occasionally put some ACV on a cotton ball and wipe pits before a shower. That’ll usually do the trick.” (See more tips at the bottom of this list!)
  • "The Primal Pit Paste in a roller is AMAZING! I've tried so many natural deodorants and I've always gotten stinky, but even here in swamp ass North Carolina I smell wonderful...well, my armpits do.”


Schmidt’s ($10)

Another club favorite! The great thing about Schmidt’s is that it comes in a wide variety of unique scent formulations that aren’t overwhelming and fade quickly. Schmidt’s does offer an additional sensitive option that is fragrance- and baking soda-free. The charcoal-magnesium was a popular choice.

What semi-crunchy fans say:

  • “I’ve tried a bunch of natural deodorants over the past 4 years or so. My favorite was Primal Pit Paste, but it stains my clothes, so I switched to Schmidt’s recently. I think it works better than PPP and have been using it for about 6 months. I started getting rashy in my pits though so switched to their “sensitive” version which doesn’t have baking soda and the rash is gone. So, long story short, my favorite now is Schmidt’s tea tree sensitive.”
  • “I have a different Schmidt’s but I love it! Works really well, doesn’t feel sticky, keeps me dry 90% of the time! I keep backup 'real' chemically deodorant in my work bag and have only used it twice. And it was just the feeling of being a little sweaty that I hated, I didn’t smell.”

Piper Wai ($12-14)

Piper Wai has a strong following as well. The smaller 2 oz. size comes in a jar, or the sticks come in a 2-pack if that's your preference. Some people had great results; others not so much. Just use a tiny amount because while the activated charcoal absorbs odor, it can stain clothes if you apply too much.

What semi-crunchy fans are saying:

  • "I've tried everything you can buy in stores, but I'm not a fan of any of them. My fave I've found is sold online - Piper Wai."
  • "With Piper Wai, there’s not really a transition time. It smells really good and you could always reapply if needed through day."

LaVanila $14

Mid-range product with reasonable effectiveness and a variety of scents. The sport version is a few bucks more, but may help for longer days if you don't have time to reapply.

What semi-crunchy fans say:

  • "LaVanila was my compromise and "dress up" deodorant for a long time until my body adjusted to natural options."
  • "I've been using Lavanila for years and love it. They even have a sport one now for more sweat and stink if needed. The coconut is my fav!"

Native $12

Native includes a probiotic in the mix to combat the bacteria that causes odor in the first place. Like several others, it does contain baking soda, so make sure you don't react first.

What semi-crunchy fans say:

  • "I tried Schmidt's but it didn't work for me. I switched to Native and it's great.
  • "It works well enough for both me and my husband."
  • "Native is the first I've ever used that actually works for me... Highly recommend it!"

Additional Tips and Suggestions

Antiperspirant is generally aluminum-based, so these are all deodorant-only. It can be weird getting used to actually sweating again, but it's not the sweat that smells, it's the bacteria.

Some people find it helpful to do a little armpit detox (things you never thought you'd say). The easiest one is mixing a little apple cider vinegar (ACV) with some bentonite clay, applying to your pits like a mask for 10-20 minutes, then washing off.

You can also increase the effectiveness of your deodorant by swiping your pits with a little ACV, witch hazel, or rubbing alcohol, then letting them dry before applying.

If you get a rash, it's probably the baking soda, or possibly a reaction to that scent. If so, contact the company to see if they'll let you exchange it for another scent/formula! Or try one of the homemade options below.

Chlorella Supplement. ($13-22)

Still stinky? A friend once suggested taking chlorella internally to combat odor, and I scoffed. Then I looked it up, started taking it for low iron, and it totally works. I linked a spirulina/chlorella combo I use, but I've heard the liquid works great.

I swallow the tablets with water, or throw a few in the blender with my smoothies. My kids eat them like candy for the "swamp mouth" effect.

DIY Recipes

Basic DIY Deodorant

Ingredients:

  • 3 TB coconut oil
  • ¼ cup baking soda
  • 1/3 cup arrowroot powder

Directions:

  1. Melt coconut oil. Add essential oils to coconut oil if desired.
  2. Combine arrowroot & baking soda. Mix in oils thoroughly.
  3. Store in a clean, dry container.

You may need to adjust the amounts slightly to compensate for the humidity in your area – if it’s dry/crumbly, add drops of coconut oil until desired consistency is reached. If it’s too wet, add equal parts of baking soda and arrowroot by the teaspoon until it’s solid and a little springy.

Sensitive Skin Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon shea butter
  • 1 tablespoon beeswax
  • 3-10 drops desired essential oils
  • ¼ cup arrowroot powder
  • ¼ cup cornstarch

Directions:

  1. Melt coconut oil, shea butter & beeswax in a double boiler on stove. You can also use a glass bowl on top of a pan with water in it. Stir in essential oils.
  2. Combine cornstarch and arrowroot powder. Mix until well combined and store in clean dry containers.

You may need to adjust the amounts slightly to compensate for the humidity in your area – if it’s dry/crumbly, add coconut oil drop wise until desired consistency. If it’s too wet, add arrowroot by the teaspoon until it’s solid and a little springy.

Essential Oil Blend Inspiration:

Need some ideas for great scent combinations? Here you go!

  • 3-5 drops tea tree, 3-5 drops lavender
  • 3-5 drops sage, 2 drops rosemary, 3-5 drops lemon
  • 3-5 drops lemon, 3-5 drops geranium
  • 3-5 drops orange, 3-5 drops frankincense

Essential oils are potent. If you're sensitive to scents, 2-3 drops total would be plenty. For these recipes, no more than 8-10 drops is best practice.