Monthly Archives: January 2009

Say It Like It Is

Big Daddy Punkernoodle and I had a dilemma this evening that we’re still mulling over. In diapering two kids I thought I had already come across every poop problem. Like that one time Punkernoodle 1 pooed on poor Ginger, our dog – I mean, all the dog did was wander into the nursery, innocent and desperate for a little attention, and all of a sudden, from her perch upon the changing table, 3-week-old Punkernoodle 1 sprays this incredibly disgusting – but wait, I digress…

Anyway, tonight we’re making some final touches to our new cloth diaper and conscious fiber Web store and trying to rewrite the welcome message on our home page to make it snazzier. Really we just wanted it to better reflect our personalities, the attitude of our company, and we were trying to avoid the sickly sweet stuff most retailers, especially baby-product shops, tend to rely on. Like “We love to help cover soft little bums with precious and beautiful diapers. We know your little precious bum is the sweetest one on earth.” Blah.

So we come up with a few zingers, one of which includes the sentence “So don’t catch any crap from your friends for not having the best diapers on the block,” or something to that effect. But we were stumped by the word “crap.” “We can’t put that on our home page,” I said. This coming from a journalist trained to sanitize the unsanitary slang of our great English language. Write a news story about graffiti spelling out B-I-T-C-H on a wall and you’ll be writing about graffiti spelling out “a derogatory term.” But I digress…

Big Daddy Punkernoodle immediately said “Why not? That’s what it  – it’s crap. These are diapers, remember? They catch shit. Poo. Crap.” This also coming from a journalist trained to sanitize the unsanitary slang of our great English language.

It’s true. They are diapers. They do catch poo. We all know how gross poo can be. And some shoppers in our fair country aren’t fond of the cussing. I don’t know where I’m going with this. The word crap came out, but so did the whole sentence. No “So don’t catch any dooey,” or other crap like that. But now we have to find something else equally deep, insightful and humorous. Well, shit.

A Potty Lesson

I first heard about Elimination Communication after Punk 1 was born. There was a mom in my new-baby support class who was doing it with her son. From what I gathered, she was teaching him to use the potty at just a few months old and avoiding diapers by watching him closely for “signs” that he had to go. At that stage — 6 weeks postpartum, deliriously sleepy and unwittingly spraying breast milk into people’s eyes by accident — I chalked it up to craziness.

Three years later, along comes Punk 2 with a very funny and unmistakable trait: an extremely obvious, scrunched-up-nose, red-in-the-cheeks-like-the-factory’s-gonna-blow poopy face. At about 16 months, we suddenly thought of asking her, as she made this obvious scrunchy I-will-poop-right-now expression, if she wanted to use the potty. Having watched big sister use the toilet with ease, little one was actually willing and eager. We plopped her (pun intended) on the slightly obnoxious and mysteriously foamy Dora seat and – voila. Kerplunk. Ever since, she will reliably poop on the potty if we notice her gettin’ her business-meeting face on. Lately, at 19 months, she has even told us a couple times “Poop. Potty.” Whoa.

This brings me back to Elimination Communication — the method of helping babies learn to go in the toilet much earlier than Americans traditionally do. Was I too harsh with my first impression of EC in that milk-soggy state so long ago? I interviewed Jennifer Kakutani, Seattle momma, Itty Bitty camp leader extraordinaire, and successful ECer, to find out more.

Punkernoodle: When did you decide to try EC with your daughter – how old was she?

Jennifer: Alita was just a few days old when we starting experimenting with EC. My husband was really excited about it.  When we placed her over the “potty”, it was pretty incredible.  She released whatever was inside. “Wow”, we thought, “This works!  Let’s try again.”

Punkernoodle: Is there a “right” age to start? 

Jennifer: No, but the younger you start the better, and whenever you start, you’ll be changing fewer messy diapers and it’s never too late for that.

Punkernoodle: Are there any special props, materials or tools that are necessary to do EC? 

Jennifer: I like to use a big plastic bowl, and a few pair of bay legwarmers are convenient.

Punkernoodle: Hardwood floors???

Jennifer: If you want to speed up the process, you can let them be diaper-free in the house and hardwood floors are easy, but not necessary. 

Punkernoodle: Special diapers? Extra cleaning supplies??

Jennifer: No and no.

Punkernoodle: Is it stressful or time consuming to watch your baby for signs that they need to go to the bathroom?

Jennifer: For us it was obvious when she had to go poop.  She liked communicating with signs when she was older.  For wets,  whenever I held her to pee, she would release.  So it’s often the choice to hold your child over a receptacle regularly to keep the diaper clean, or change it regularly.  Depending on how busy or distracted I was, I did a little of both. 

Punkernoodle: Were you afraid to leave the house? 

Jennifer: No, we’re part-time ECers.  We used plenty of cloth diapers, too.

Punkernoodle: What was the reaction of others when they heard about this method you were trying? 

Jennifer: People who have never heard of it think it’s amazing, but makes sense.  Often people from other countries have knowledge of some version of it from their different cultures. However, we do a lot of peeing outside since it’s so convenient and I get a few concerned looks once in a while.  Some folks think it’s a lot more work, I don’t agree.

Punkernoodle: What most surprised you about EC? 

Jennifer: How quickly my daughter responded and how easy it was.  Often, developmental changes affected her willingness like teething and walking.   Sometimes she just refused to allow us to hold her in position.  We had to let it be.  Luckily, that would only last a few days, and then we’d be back to our routine.

Punkernoodle: What is the biggest benefit of EC? 

Jennifer: Communicating openly with my daughter about her body and knowing her self-esteem around her bodily functions is whole and intact.  It’s been a fun process for the entire family.   And It’s sure been awesome to have rarely changed a messy diapers.

Well, there you have it moms and dads. Seattle parents and parents-to-be can learn more about the down-and-dirty (or far less dirty) details of Elimination Communication along with everything they need to know about using cloth diapers (which, incidentally, Jenn says helps tremendously with potty learning at any age) at Punkernoodle Baby’s Green Diaper Choices workshop Jan. 31 at the Seattle Holistic Center:

Happy pooping.

Take Me to Your Mother…..

I am writing this post to let you know that I have been kidnapped, secretly, by evil forces which may or may not be associated with a governmental plot to overthrow something, and I am being tortured, slowly, as part of this secretive and confusing plan that shall not be named.

The kidnapping happens only at night, when it appears as though my body remains mostly sleeping in my bed but really I am transported to an alternate and frightening world where THERE. IS. NO. SLEEP. That is the central focus of this particular type of torture being inflicted upon my by the stealthy government ninjas. It begins soon after I tuck my preschooler and toddler into their beds – happy, cozy beds in warm, lovely rooms with footed pajamas, stuffed friends, nightlights and hand-knit blankies. Most people, you would think, would want to stay in those beds all night long, right? They are so cozy, so perfect, that there would be no logical reason to want to leave them, correct??? But I digress…

After I clean the kitchen, tidy the toys, make the lunches, bake the breakfast, feed the dog, and make a weak and ultimately ineffectual gesture toward staving off the hounding signs of old age – also known as 5 minutes of exhausted nightly toilette – I climb into bed next to Mr. Punkernoodle and drift off. It is soon after that the alien torturers arrive, using a basic but unrelenting techique to strip me of any chance of recuperation from the day’s toils.

The first attack comes sometime after midnight, when I am about 10 minutes ino solid sleep, precicely so that my awakening will take on it’s most confused, most disturbed, most jarring state possible. The secretive government freedom fighters tell me something about potty, but I can’t place their words into my usually elevated understanding of our English language, because my head is spinning sideways in a nauseating roller coaster of fatigue and disorientation.

I do the toturers’ bidding and stumble back into bed. I vaguely recall mumbling something about no waking up, perhaps a sloppily uttered threat about no watching Curious George the next day, no jelly beans for dessert. Have I begun communicating in their secret code? Thankfully, soon, I drift off once again, my mind fading into a peaceful cloud of rest.

But 19 minutes later, the infidels have returned. There is a loud siren-like noise – a wail, it seems. A high-pitched question delivered repeatedly: Why do I have to sleep? Why do have to stay in my bed? Whyyyyyyyyyyyy? As they howl, the covert agents attempt to overtake me in my bed, clawing my skin, hauling their shrunken bodies up onto my blankets, sucking me into their ship where I am overcome by bright nightlights and boogers.

Again, I manage to wrench myself away and find rest. But again, 28 minutes later, they return, shaking me ruthlessly out of deep slumber. They attempt to brainwash me with a story about a wolf, a terrifying wolf that appeared to them in their dreams and has forced them to come and kidnap me from mine. Even through my veil of desperate exhaustion, I can see they do seem upset. It must be a ploy, I tell myself, a common government tactic to disorient me so they can suck my lifeblood into their vials and use it for scientific experimentation back on their planet.

After three more session of harsh awakenings and anxious dormancy, when I’m at the end of my rope and ready to self-actualize onto a higher plane of suffering, the torturers finally ease up. I sleep from 4:33 to 6:55 a.m., knowing that somwhere, in their cozy mountain caves, disguised under hand-knit blankies, they are plotting the next night’s revenge.

Cloth Diaper Class!

Punkernoodle Baby is hosting a cloth diapering/Cloth 101 class! We hope to do this quarterly in Seattle, so please help spread the word. Here’s the info:

Hey Mamas and Papas!

Besides feeding, one of the most important (and frequent!) rituals you will experience with your baby is diaper changing. And the way you decide to diaper your baby can have a huge impact on your wallet, your baby’s health and our planet.

And these ain’t your grandma’s diapers! Unlike the sharp pins and plastic pants of yesteryear, today’s cloth diapers are super modern, unbelievably easy and come in dozens of varieties – from organic, hemp and bamboo to fuzzy leopard prints and simple prefolds. Using cloth can make it easier for babies to potty-train and for parents to try the “diaper-free” method that cultures around the globe use successfully.

In Diaper Choices you will:

— Learn the 4 main types of cloth diapers, see several dozen examples and get help identifying the right style for your baby.

— Learn how using cloth diapers can save you thousands of dollars over the course of raising your babies.

— Find out why reusable diapers are better for the environment, and about their impact on water, energy and land resources.

— Learn what Elimination Communication/Diaper-Free method is (no you don’t need a Sixth Sense and tropical climate to do it!), how and when to begin implementing it, and how this wonderful parent-child communication  can build confidence and help get babies out of diapers sooner.


When and Where: Saturday, Jan. 31 from 12:30 to 2 p.m. at the Seattle Holistic Center, Wallingford, inside the Good Shepherd Center, 4649 Sunnyside Ave. N.

Cost is $20 ($10 of this is redeemable at Punkernoodle Baby, your local Ballard cloth diapering shop, for any products including diapers, clothing and skin care). Payment by cash or check, prepayment by credit card ok.

To sign up ahead of time call Natalie at 206-325-3497 or email:

Toxic toys, or toxic to green businesses?



There is growing attention to an issue that has become critical to the survival of small, green-oriented children’s businesses like ours. What happens in the following days and weeks will determine not only whether many of these small businesses survive, but also whether parents concerned about healthy options for their children will continue to have a range of products to choose from.

Here is a letter that outlines to problem:



Natalie Singer-Velush

Owner, Punkernoodle Baby

7350 Mary Ave. NW

Seattle, WA 98117


January 4, 2009

Jim McDermott


7th Congressional District, WA

1809 7th Avenue, Suite 1212
Seattle, WA 98101-1399

Dear Friends of Punkernoodle Baby and other local small business –


We are writing to inform you of action taken by Congress to pass the HR4040 or the CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) created by the CPSA (Consumer Product Safety Commission).  We are pleased that Congress passed a bill to protect our children from toys containing lead and phthalates and addressing other safety issues, however, parts of this bill will directly affect all small handmade toy makers, clothing resalers and store owners in a way that could put many of us, who make child safety and the environment our top priority, out of business.

Punkernoodle Baby is a small business based out of the Ballard neighborhood in Seattle that sells cloth diapers and organic baby clothes and cotton toys. As former journalists and parents of two young children, we decided to start our company in January 2008 because we strongly believe in a greener and healthier approach to parenting and in supporting our environment. We invested $20,000 of savings and credit to purchase our inventory of cloth diapers – many of them handmade by mothers in Washington and other nearby states. We have grown slowly and are working hard in a difficult economy to stay afloat and contribute positively to our community through education, advocacy and charitable efforts. Our business is exactly what Washington needs right now – small, local companies committed to growing our economy with fair labor, healthy products and green business practices.


But our business and all others like ours is now at grave risk.


The CPSIA rules now require that all products for children under 12 be tested, including natural handmade toys and cloth diapers, clothes and blankets, at a cost of $4,000 per item.  This cost would put us out of business.  We would also be required to label each item with a permanent batch label.  This is another cost that could force us out of

business. A company of our size simply cannot weather this type of costly requirement. The rules, while well-meaning, are too far-reaching: Companies such as ours have been concerned over toxic children’s products for years, and many of our businesses grew out of a desire to bring healthy alternatives to parents. Ironically, these companies where parents have been able to seek out natural clothing, toys and diapers are now the ones at risk, because unlike the large corporations marketing mainstream products often manufactured overseas, we cannot afford individual testing. Furthermore, most of the products we do sell – cotton clothing, cloth diapers, wooden toys, are not manufactured with materials that can contain lead or phthalates.

These regulations are set to go into effect, retroactively, on Feb. 10. Coverage of the impact has been growing:,0,5058994.story


Please act now to help us save the hundreds of Washington businesses and millions of dollars they generate for the state that will be at risk.


Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and we sincerely appreciate your help.



fall_2008_1941New year, new post. And a resolution to get these blog posts coming more frequently. I think I got sucked under when the whole holiday season thing started, and the longer you go without posting, blah blah blah…

Anyway. The news:

  • We are on our third site designer, and I can finally say (this time I actually believe it) people will soon be able to shop for all our products online. Cindi is a real professional, a Seattle mama and business owner who is not going to throw her hard-earned reputation to the wind because of a few hundred Fuzzi Bunz. 
  • We now carry goodmamas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! First, if you haven’t read about this diaper, check out this post   Needless to say, after trying it I became a die-hard convert and almost needed one myself when I heard not too long ago that Suzanne was going to begin selling though retailers. These are not only the most amazing diapers, but they are truly little works of art. The diapers come with clever names and often-retro references that transport me back to those pre-baby days — a perfect little reverie right before I am forced to dive into one of Punkernoodle 2’s “business meetings.” And, best news of all, they are only $36 – no all-night bidding wars required.
  • We are hoping for bigger and better in 2009 – both for our little company and for our world. That said, we are planning to launch a side project aimed at addressing a dilemma that has been bothering us ever since I got knocked up with Punkernoodle 1: How to stem the tide of “stuff” that comes along with pregnancy in America today? You want the best for your baby, and everyone around goes into a buying frenzy when they hear the words “We’re pregnant.” But how can we use that purchasing power to help others? Stay tuned for more on that…

More resolutions:

  • Sell more diapers 🙂
  • Make 3 vegan meals a week
  • Be a better parent
  • Get a handle on felt Continue reading