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Avoid demolishing plush baby blankets with these simple laundry tips
We keep our one-year-old’s crib clean and everything in it laundered (I’m a good mom like that). Weekly trips through the laundry cycle can be harsh on sweet baby blankets and other soft fabrics – plus, we want to protect her sensitive skin. I demolished my first born’s sweet Little Giraffe blanket because I did not use the right laundry settings. My second child is the winner of blankets that don’t have a texture like paper towels. Lucky for her, I’ve been able to keep her blankets soft and snuggable with a few simple switches on laundry settings and choosing the right detergent.
“You can look at a baby the wrong way and she’ll develop a rash,” my Doctor uncle off-handedly said to me when I showed him a red mark on my newborn while changing her diaper.
Relieved it wasn’t a deadly staph infection, I finished the task of changing her diaper. (Having a real, live Doctor is so much more useful than relying on Dr. Google.)
This comment, said with such authority, has stuck with me every time I see a little bit of redness.
The thing is, baby skin is so sensitive. Diaper rashes, soaps, lotions, sunscreen, laundry detergent… We use the mild, non-fragrant products that won’t irritate her skin.
Laundry Tip: Choosing the Right Detergent
Some families buy special detergent just for babies, but in our family, we wash all of our clothes, sheets & towels in the same detergent. Having an allergy-sensitive detergent is just as important for our baby as it is for my six-year old, and I don’t want to sleep in sheets that can make me sneeze. (We actually just got new pillows, which has also made a difference.)
A note about all® free clear
Aptly named, all® free clear detergent has no dyes or fragrances which can irritate sensitive skin. It still gets the stains out and cleans clothes, and it also removes allergens, “including cat and dog dander, dust mite matter, ragweed, grass, and tree pollen,” according to their website. Awards include the Seal of Acceptance by the National Eczema Association and it’s the #1 detergent recommended by Dermatologists, Allergists, and Pediatricians for Sensitive Skin. Basically, it reduces allergies by removing allergens and it does not create new ones with extra dyes and frangrances. We buy ours at Target, but it’s not an obscure brand, so you should be able to find it whereever you shop for detergent.
Getting the right detergent is the first step, but knowing what settings to use on the washing machine & dryer is also important. Here are all of our bedtime essentials for our one-year-old (yes, she sleeps through the night!) and how we keep from ruining it all in the laundry…
Toddler Bedtime Essentials: At Home
1. Zippable Crib Sheets
Don’t let sweet pastel patterns of elephants and giraffes lure you in: changing a crib sheet at 2am with one eye open and your brain still mostly in the first REM cycle is much easier if you do not have to remove a mattress to remove the sheet. These sheets fit on the mattress but the top zips right off and a new one zips right back on… All while the mattress stays in its place. We have four of these, so we can toss it in the laundry and get a new one out of the drawer.
Laundry tip: buy at least 3 of these (we have 4), so you always have one in rotation. These can be tossed in with sheets. No special setting.
2. Zippable, Wearable Blanket
Our daughter likes to sleep in balmy conditions. Seriously. She slept like a champ as an infant in pajamas and a fleece swaddle blanket with a normal temp (like 73) in her bedroom. When she transitioned out of the swaddle, we stuck in her a wearable blanket. Our doctor said she didn’t need a blanket… So I stopped putting her in one, but she started waking up again in the middle of the night. I thought she might be cold because she would stop wailing when I would snuggle her with a Little Giraffe blanket. “OMG SHE IS COLD” I realized, horrified at the thought of that little angle shivering in her crib while I was comfortably sleeping under blankets. So I zipped her up in a winter blanket and… She sleeps like a champ again. 7pm until 6:30am-ish. One of my concerns about the wearable blanket was she would not be able to stand… Or she would, and then fall and hit her face, chip her tooth, get a black eye, and be horribly disfigured for the remainder of her life. I am happy to report none of this has occurred thus far, and she can stand up just fine and holler from the side of her crib.
Laundry tip: we only have one of these, and I wash it weekly with the rest of her clothes on cold or the color setting. The “winter” version is considerably thicker and takes a while to dry, but I don’t use a special setting. The fleece ones can lose their softness so dry those on low.
3. Little Lamby
We have a basket of sweet stuffed animals, but Little Lamby is her #1 pal. It’s so soft and sweet, and seeing her little arm wrapped around it is the cutest.
Laundry tip: wash stuffed animals the same way you’d wash a plush blanket, on cold, and then on extra low to dry. A hot dryer will ruin the softness.
ALWAYS size up on pajamas. You can even go up two sizes. If you have a keen eye, you may notice she’s wearing Christmas pajamas in the photo at the top, which are a size 18 months, and she’s been wearing them since she was 9 months old. Pictured to the left, her entire winter get-up including Uggs and an elf hat. She still sports those pajamas in the summertime, too. If the pajamas fit, we wear them in this house. Since we usually buy cute Christmas pajamas, that means we dress for the holidays year-round.
Laundry tip: we wash pajamas along with her other clothes, on cold or color cycle. Dry on normal.
5. Aden + Anais Blanket
I think we received at least ten of these blankets as baby gifts, which I thought was excessive, but they are so soft and sweet and pretty, I didn’t return any of them. And we used them – even as burp clothes when she was an infant! and still use them all of the time. They are light and gauzy, and our baby loves to grasp on to them at night, in the car, dragging around the house… Even though we have a lot of them, they are scattered between cars, in bags, and in the laundry.
Laundry tip: we wash them with clothes on cold or color. Probably laundering low would be better as they are thin, and some of ours have a few tears, but overall they have remained fluffy and soft with a million laundry cycles and on regular drying cycles.
6. White Noise Machine
This helps mask the noise in the house while we are all still awake and she is going to sleep. We have a true white noise machine with a fan, as opposed to an electronic version that has other sound choices like crickets and ocean waves. The soothing whir really drowns out the noise of the television, conversation, etc.
Laundry tip: We don’t wash electronics, that’s silly.
When we travel, we like to stay in places with a washer/ dryer. Pictured above: Peppertree Maggie Valley in North Carolina.
Toddler Bedtime Essentials: While Traveling
When we travel, we don’t like to interrupt the night time routine. We want the the baby to sleep like a baby because no one likes to vacation with an overly tired, fussy parent.
1. Blanket, Lamby, Pajamas
Make a strange place an easy place to snooze by giving baby familiar comfort items in the pack n play.
2. Pack ’n Play
Set up the pack ‘n play when you unpack. Trying to figure out whether to push down the middle before or after snapping the sides is best when you’re not under the duress of a child’s frantic cries.
3. Free Clear Mighty Pacs
These are genius and easy to bring on trips. Rather than remembering to buy your detergent or lugging a heavy bottle of detergent, these are easy to pack and easy to bring home, so you don’t have to waste what you don’t use, and they are ready for your next trip.