We are about to take our first family vacation as a family of five! Considering our children are 3 years old, 22 months old, and 7 months old, this is going to be an interesting trip to say the least! I am not imagining some super-relaxing trip for me where I can put my feet up and drink margaritas the whole time... but if we can just get away from our day-to-day lives and let the kids experience something new and fun, then that sounds good to me (even if it it means some added stress for Mom and Dad).
Now I am a total planner. I sat down and wrote down categorized lists of all the items we need to pack, because let's face it... traveling with little ones means you need to bring a LOT of "stuff" with you. Parents today are used to a lot of modern conveniences when it comes to child care, but when you travel, there is not really room to bring ALL those conveniences with you. You have to really think hard and figure out what baby items are a "must have" and which ones are really nice to have but probably don't need to come along. This is much easier said than done. I considered renting a U-Haul just so we can go out of town for 5 days.
One of the products I was struggling with earlier today was bibs. Three children times three meals per day times 5 days comes to a grand total of 45 bibs! That is a lot of bibs. And while we do actually own that many (yes, I know that seems ridiculous, but we do), the thought of packing 45 bibs seemed ridiculous. And when bibs get smeared with nasty food at meals (imagine a pasta sauce, smooshed peas, drool, etc), they really need to be washed within a day or two to prevent them from getting really smelly and nasty. This was not going to be an option since the hotel room will not be equipped with a laundry room. I could hand wash them, but seriously... who wants to hand wash three bibs, three times a day during their vacation? I needed another solution. I looked into disposable bibs, but they were so expensive -- and it is just money thrown away since you have to toss them after each use!
I remember paging through a catalog once and seeing these bib clip products. They were sold by One Step Ahead, and they cost $11.95 for ONE. It is basically two clips on either end of a piece of plastic tubing. The tubing hangs around the child's neck and you can clip on a napkin, paper towel, washcloth, or even a cloth diaper. You can essentially turn ANY of those items into a bib. This is great for travel and for restaurant use. You can just throw it in your diaper bag! But $11.95? That seemed high to me. Because of the price and the fact that I could not find any stores (only online) that sell these, I decided I would make my own.
So, here is what I came up with, along with the directions for making the product. Not including shopping time, it took me less than 10 minutes to make 4 bib clips (one for each child, plus a back-up just in case!).
1) Hot glue gun with hot glue sticks (free for me, as I already own these items)
2) Pack of 2 suspender/mitten clips ($2.79)
3) Roll of 7/8" ribbon in pattern or color of choice (varies, the roll I got for the boys was $3.50 but you can get a roll for $1.50 if you find the right sales... I just had no time!)
4) 9x12" Sheet of 2mm thick foam ($0.70 each) -- I will explain this.
5) Scissors (already have)
6) Lighter (already have one)
Step 1: Measuring Ribbon
You have a couple options here. You can either put the ribbon around your child's neck to measure (recommended), or you can even measure yours against a bib. I need these items tomorrow and my kids are already in bed. So I did the trick with the bib. I laid my ribbon on a bib I know fits my kids well. I went about 1" beyond the edge of the neckline so that I could fold that part up and glue. Decide on how long you want your ribbon and cut, remembering to leave about 1" extra on each side so you can fold and glue.
Step 2: Fray-Proof Your Ribbon
Ribbon frays when it is cut. The more it is handled, the more it will fray. In order to prevent this, heat treat the edges. Run the edge of the ribbon through the flame of a lighter a couple times, quickly. Do not just hold it in the flame or the ribbon will catch fire or burn. Your goal is to run it through the flame enough to melt the edge.
Step 3: Gluing on the Clips
Turn the suspender clip upside down so you are looking at the bottom jaw (the bottom jaw is the shorter side). Feed the ribbon through the metal loop on the suspender clip so that about 1" of the ribbon has gone through. Then fold the ribbon back and crease it so you know exactly where you want it to fold. Now take your glue gun and put some glue on the ribbon where you want to glue the 1" piece down. Carefully apply pressure to glue it down. Beware of glue squirting out the edges... you don't want to burn your fingers! Do this to both sides.
Sidenote: Why The Foam?
You are probably wondering what the foam is all about, so here is my thought process... A paper towel is absorbent, but I have some pretty messy kids. I am also pretty anal about keeping my kids' clothes in good condition so they do not lose their resale value. I hate stains. So, I wanted to make sure that there was some sort of barrier between the paper towel and my kids clothing. But I did not want it to be something that would require machine washing. So, for now, I came up with the foam pieces. Why not just the foam? Well, I don't think the foam would be good for liquid spills... the liquid would run right off and into their laps. The paper towel would be good for catching the liquid, though. I will layer the paper towels with the foam backing (see pictures). The paper towel does the absorbing and the foam just acts as an extra barrier. And the best part? To clean the foam, you just wipe it down! You can probably even use just a baby wipe!
Step 4: Cutting the Foam
This is totally your call. You don't have to cut the foam if you don't want to. I just trimmed the edge of the foam for my oldest two so that the foam does not stick out past the paper towel. And for my infant, I cut the length AND width to make it more baby-friendly. It would not fit him well otherwise.
And there you go! I can stick these materials in our diaper bag and no matter where we go, I will have bibs for all 3 kids without having to store dirty bibs in my bag! This project cost me $17 total. I made 4 sets, and I also have plenty of ribbon leftover! That's the other part I wanted to mention... because you have extra ribbon, you can always adjust the sizing of it later on if you want! Just cut off the other ribbon and reuse your same suspender clips!