Food Safety and Insulated Covers

Do insulated covers keep your food or formula cold enough?

I can’t speak to any covers but my own. And I can only really speak to the conditions I’ve tested them in.

In my covers, I use high quality fleece made for sport use (coats). Not just the stuff you can buy at the chain store. And it may interest you to know that I do testing with most batches of fleece when they come in. I’m not required to by law, so I’ve never sent them away for third party testing (nor do I know where I’d do that) but I do run them through some testing here.

And I encourage customers to verify for themselves that their setup, regardless of what it is, keeps their food at a safe temperature.

Here’s what I did during my most recent round of testing, which was when I moved a few new fleeces into production.

– Sewed up a few testers with the fleece. In this instance, I was unsure about whether one of the rolls I have would be enough on its own – it’s a new item number I’ve not used in the past – so I made one with just that fleece by itself and one with that fleece paired with a thin but heavy fleece I have onhand.

– Filled the feeding pump bag (500ml) with a home blend that was in the fridge (approx 250 mL), and another with water that was probably fridge cold (about 400 mL), though I didn’t check the start temp and probably should have (it wasn’t in the fridge, but the place I store the water jugs is very cold in the winter). I keep the small fridge at 38 deg F.

– Suspended an analog thermometer inside the feeding pump bag so that it hangs roughly in the very middle. I usually do this with a patent pending (j/k) high tech system I’ve devised made entirely of pipe cleaners.

– Hung the whole thing up on the IV pole with an ice pack.

– Came back 4 hours later and 8 hours later to check the temps.

– Did this 3 days in a row.

Results at 8 hours were unsatisfactory for the new fleece by itself (averaging 40.5, though it averaged a wee bit over 39 at 4 hours) but the average of the two layers was 39 in the home blend and 37 in the water. At 8 hours, the ice packs were still approx. better than half frozen. (Refrigerators should be 40 degrees or lower. The FDA says that food can be left at room temp for 2 hours.)

I left them for additional hours on the last day, intending to check hourly, but… didn’t. The temp was around 41 at 12 hours. By that point, the ice packs were less than half frozen. This holds up well with what I’ve seen in the past – the results depend a LOT on the ice pack that’s used. Once that ice pack starts to go soft/liquidy, the temp of the associated food starts to go up.

That said, in the real world, I don’t have a stationary, full bag all day. The bag empties over time so there’s less volume for the slowly depleting ice pack to keep cold. Then I refill it with new, typically cold food that I’ve had in another cooler.

Things I haven’t tested:

– Using two ice packs. A LOT of my customers use two ice packs (one on each side) if they’re going to be out all day or for overnights.

– Using YOUR ice pack.

– Formula. IDK if it’d be different.

– Pouring in room temperature food. I’m not sure how quickly an ice pack can realistically bring a room temperature food down to refrigerator temperature.

– Very hot temps. We get satisfactory results here and we don’t have a/c, but I change out the ice pack throughout the day. If you’re outside on a hot day, be especially mindful of your food temps.

I’m also not sure how to (or whether to) account for the fact that prepackaged blended foods, formula, and home blends can safely be at room temperature for various lengths of time. (consult the manufacturer of your food or the USDA for guidance on this.) In theory, if I’m using Brand X packaged blended food, it can hang with the ice pack until the ice pack can’t keep it cold any more and then it still has x hours at room temp.

And I cannot emphasize enough that these aren’t refrigerators. I don’t know how many people contact me to ask if you need to use an ice pack. YES. Yes, you need to use an ice pack. Maybe two, depending on your situation. You need to use a sizeable ice pack if you want to use the cover for all day or all night. Nothing about these covers actually generates cold. 🙂

Anyway. Thought I’d share. If you own one and you do testing with a thermometer at your house, I’m interested in your findings!!


Wallypop Insulated Covers with *insert name of popular wooden feeding pump hanger here*

I get frequent questions about whether my Insulated Feeding Pump Bag Covers are compatible with the popular wooden feeding pump hangers sold on Etsy.

And I’ve been saying no, because I tried it and it didn’t work. Because I was trying to put the whole thing inside the cover. Like an idiot. And I was chatting with a customer one day and she was like “um, it works perfectly, you dunderhead, I use mine together literally 24/7.” She did phrase it much more kindly.

OK, so if you just insulate the BAG and don’t stick the WHOLE THING IN THERE, they work perfectly!!

Here’s how:
For a size Medium cover with the 500 mL feeding sets, just load the feeding set into the cover per usual, then snap the hang strap around the hanger, and you’re all set.


For a size Large cover with the 1200 mL feeding sets, you have two options. You CAN do as above for the Medium. But it will tend to pull on your tubing and you risk it getting pinched and dealing with alarms. The bag hangs just a little bit too low.

A better option is to thread the top hang tab of the cover through that round hang hole in the bag, then snap the cover around the neck of the bag and hang the bag from the wooden hanger as you would if it did NOT have an amazingly functional insulated cover over it. Like so:

Using the cover in this way DOES raise the bag inside several inches, so you’ll want to make sure you have a nice, tall ice pack.

A couple of notes for the Large cover:
1. You might find it a challenge to snap BOTH of the top snaps. It’s not a huge deal, because those snaps aren’t really needed to keep the cover on, it’ll still work fine if you can only snap one. If you’re ordering a custom cover and want the snaps spaced wider to make this easier, just let me know when you check out.

2. If you’re ordering a custom cover and you plan to use your cover exclusively with the wooden hanger, you can ask me to make it several inches shorter to get rid of that excess at the bottom. But if I remove that for you, then you will *NOT* be able to use your cover without the wooden holder.


PS, for the record, I contacted the manufacturer of said hanging device to get permission to use their name and was declined. So I hope you’re able to figure out what I’m talking about . 🙂

Seeking Care Elsewhere

Last week, I wrote a post on Teddy’s blog titled “Pushing Back” about how to push back against a doctor who isn’t really holding up their end of a relationship.

This week, I wanted to write over here about leaving doctors who aren’t bringing value to a relationship.

Image shows a female doctor with brown hair holding a note book and looking at the camera. The words read: "You're Fired. Seeking Care Elsewhere."

I communicate with many parents of medically complex children on social media, and over and over again, I see parents in a relationship with a doctor who is at best a waste of time, and at worst actually harming their child. And yet they stay.

The reasons are many, and I understand (most of) them. I do.

It’s hard to leave a doctor you’ve been with for years.
It feels weird to leave one doctor on your child’s team.
It’s easier to see the doctors who are all at your child’s primary hospital.
It’s uncomfortable to fire a doctor.
You’ll still have to see this doctor if they’re on rounds while your child is inpatient.
It’s inconvenient to see another doctor (you might have to drive far or go out of state).

But this is your child’s health and well being. None of these reasons are really good enough to stick with a provider who isn’t actually providing the care that your child needs.

It’s OK to stop seeing a doctor. It’s ok to switch doctors.

You pay these people. You pay them. If your auto mechanic was consistently unable to fix your car, would you find a new mechanic? If your plumber said that they didn’t really know that the problem was, they’ve checked everything they can think of, and there’s no REASON for the water to be leaking – maybe it isn’t REALLY leaking (while looking at the leaking), would you keep giving them your money? What if your taxes came back with errors every year, and your accountant shrugged every time and said that they were only off by a few dollars, what’s the difference?

Are doctors any different?

No. They are not.

It’s OK to switch doctors. Even if that means you see MOST OF the interdisciplinary team at your hospital, except THIS ONE doctor. Even if that means driving further away. Even if that means having to see the old doctor on rounds. It’s only weird if you make it weird.

(I mean, you want weird, try putting one of the nurses in the inpatient unit on your child’s “I never want to see this nurse ever again” list and then getting stuck with her because of a sudden surge in admissions and a shortage of staff to cover them. THAT is weird. She says from experience.)

We have switched doctors I don’t even know how many times. I don’t think we’ve ever actually told the doctor in question – we’ve just canceled future appointments and scheduled with other providers. The first time, I felt a little weird telling his primary team (nephrology) that we were no longer going to see this other specialty at this hospital at all – we were seeking options outside of this hospital system because we did not feel that any of the doctors in that department were bringing anything positive to the table. But it was absolutely no big deal. They just said to be sure to have that office send the clinic notes over so they could stay current and have the new doctor call them with any questions.

It was fine. It’ll probably be fine for you, also.

12 Tips for Work at Home Moms of Babies and Toddlers

Working from home is both amazing and amazingly stressful. You get to be home with your kids while contributing to the family income, but you also have to do the work of contributing to the family income while taking care of your kids. It’s awesome and hard all at the same time.

Woman sitting on couch with laptop on her lap and feet on ottoman.

I’ve been there and done that through all three of my kids – two essentially regular kids and one kid with complex medical needs – and I’m here to share my wisdom! Take what you can use, leave the rest.

Establish a predictable rhythm

Notice I didn’t say “schedule.” I think every other “how to be a work at home mom” article I’ve ever read tells you to get that baby on a schedule. But I am one of those moms who doesn’t believe babies operate on a schedule, and I don’t operate on one, either. But you’ll both do better with a predictable rhythm to your day.

How do you establish this? Start with any hard and fast regular time commitments. Need to start dinner around 4:30? Like to get out of bed at 6 am? Whatever your established times are, build your day’s natural flow into that. First breakfast, then personal care, then play time with the baby, then a short work period, then lunch, then more work time with breaks as needed, then start dinner at 4:30. You don’t need a schedule with set times, which can lead to feeling overwhelmed and behind, but having a predictable rhythm has several benefits. First, it helps your child(ren) know what to expect from the day. Second, it helps ensure you do the things you need to do. If you always do work after lunch, it just becomes a habit and you’re less likely to put it off and get backed up in your work. Third, it gives you a general sense of how your day will go. If your child is generally quiet and content in the afternoons, for example, you know this is the best time to work, and this is NOT a good time to schedule a pediatrician appointment.

Plan to be interrupted

I mean, it’s just going to happen. When kids are young (babies, young toddlers), they literally cannot wait patiently. In my experience, when I was working while caring for babies and young toddlers, things seemed to go easier, better, and faster if I just accepted the interruption immediately and handled whatever it was. A feed, or a diaper change, or some interaction. Feed the baby while they’re still relatively happy, and all you have to do is feed them. Wait until they’re really unhappy about it, and now you have to calm them down AND feed them – your interruption is twice as long. (Yes, I’m kind of referring to your kid as an interruption.)

Plan for uninterrupted times

As your baby gets older, naptimes will start to become less frequent but longer. Have a plan so you don’t waste this precious time! Plan in advance what you’re going to do at naptime. Then as soon as you can sneak away from them, run – don’t walk – and get ‘er done.

If you need longer stretches of uninterrupted time, you’ll have to make it happen with the help of someone else. Grandma, a friend, another work at home mom with whom you trade childcare, your spouse, a paid sitter. Personally, I found that it worked best for me to get the kiddo to sleep at night then sneak away and work until he/she woke up for his/her first night feed. It was usually several hours. We coslept so my husband was right there with them and could take care of any non-breast needs if they should arise. Working in the middle of the night may not be ideal, but it worked well for us.

Woman working on a laptop in bed.

Get and stay organized

Keep a good to-do list. Keep your supplies well-organized. Keep your workspace organized. Keep a good, current calendar, and use email folders and labels, and all of those time management and organization tips. I know this doesn’t come naturally to some people, but let’s look at two people I know well. (OK, it’s me and my husband.)

One of us maintains a to do list. Several, actually. When I get up in the morning, I know exactly how I’m going to spend my work time that day. I also know what non-work tasks I need to accomplish. I mentally budget my time so I know, for example, that if I want to shower before dinner, I need to wrap up my work by 5:30. And I know that means I need to plan to wrap up by 5. When I’m working, I start at the top of my list and work my way down. While I’m finishing up one task, I look at what’s next and start mentally planning what I need for that. I move from one thing to the next thing to the next thing. And when I need tools, they’re right where I expect them to be, because I put them away when I was done using them.

The other of us does not use a to do list. Well, sometimes he does. In his head. He gets up and thinks about what he’s going to do for a while. Then he goes to see if he can find the things he needs to do whichever thing sounds best to him. That usually takes a while, and half the day’s usually gone by the time he’s gotten started. Once he’s finished one task, he sits down somewhere to decide what to do next. An hour later, he starts the next thing. He has no plan, so he doesn’t get as much done because he spends so much time trying to plan in the moment.

I’m not saying one way is better than the other… but one way is definitely more productive.

Make your workspace safe

Make your workspace safe for your baby or toddler and establish a special spot for them. Before my babies were able to crawl, I had a soft pad on the floor of my office and I dangled toys for them to play with from various office equipment. As they started rolling and scooting, we moved more toys down to my office, and as they became toddlers, they each had their own special spot in my office with crayons and a chalkboard, dolls and cars, whatever they were into.

I also caged them in, but not in a tiny playpen, which gets boring fast and isn’t quite what toddlers need developmentally. When my office was a more or less open space, I bought one of those long plastic modular baby fences and strung it up all around my area. When I moved my office into a room with a better doorway, we used a regular baby gate. I knew my office area was 100% safe for them, and I knew they couldn’t get out, so I could work in peace knowing they were safe and nearby.

Having them in your workspace also allows you to maintain verbal contact if you’re doing something that allows for that, which is a nice way to stay involved and interactive with your kids while still getting your work done. I primarily sew, so I can carry on a conversation with my kids while still working.


Nursing time is a great time to catch up on social media (if you do that as part of your work), to read relevant articles, or even to do desk work like accounting or blogging. It all depends on your breasts and your baby, though. I was always able to work with at least one hand while nursing (after that floppy head newborn stage), but some moms are not able to make this work. Try using a My Breast Friend pillow if you find you need more hands.

Yes, ideally, breastfeeding is a time of bonding and eye contact. Until your baby hits that stage where they’re distracted by everything. During that stage, I found that I basically had to ignore them if I wanted them to eat at all, otherwise it was an hour of smiles and spraying breastmilk around the room, but no actual eating took place.


I know moms who work from home and don’t babywear, but it’s so much easier with a carrier or two. I’ve used my carriers to enable me to:

  • wear and bounce an unhappy teething or sick baby while typing by elevating my laptop so I could easily reach it while standing, or by sitting and bouncing on an exercise ball.
  • Hold a child through his nap so he’ll stay asleep longer while I continue to work at my desk or my sewing machine.
  • Comfort a toddler who’s having one of those days when they just want to be held, but I have a hard deadline and can’t devote a day to JUST snuggles.
  • And of course all of the NOT work related uses.


Regular exercise helps you work better. Be mindful about giving your body attention – stretch, do some squats, take 3 minutes and jog in place. If you have toddlers, have a dance party with them, or run around the couch a few times. Babies and toddlers are pretty easy to exercise with!

A baby plays on the floor


Do NOT get so focused on your work that you neglect the children that you’re staying home for. It’s so easy to get into this “ok, I’ll read to you after I do this. And this. And this.” But, much like with feeding and diaper changes, I found it worked better to stop what I was doing as soon as practical and take care of the need for attention right away. Not only did this reinforce to my kids that they are more important than work, but it also helped me be more productive when I was working. We kept a small stack of favorite books in my office, and the kids would grab one and climb up in my lap for a quick read a few times a day, which was enjoyable for us both. (And I can still recite my 15 year old’s favorite book from this time, lol. It was called A Little Spot of Color.)

Help your older toddlers learn about waiting

There are plenty of resources out there that can help you with this, but I started by simply teaching my children the ASL sign for “wait.” I started by choosing times when I was available immediately, and consciously chose to ask them (nonverbally) to wait, then waiting about 5 seconds before looking at them and addressing their need. I gradually lengthened this, and when that was going well, I added “can you wait five minutes?” to our repertoire. I tried not to push them beyond their capabilities, while stretching them JUST enough.

Using a visual timer can help a lot, too. I have a whole blog post about visual timers you might want to check out. Toddlers struggle with time concepts, and waiting even one minute can feel like forever, but if you use a visual timer, it helps them see the time passing.

Help your older toddlers play alone

Again, lots of parenting resources out there, but what worked for me was sitting down with my toddler to play, but letting them know that I’d need to stop after a little bit so I could do some more work while they kept playing. We’d play for a bit, then I’d stop playing but stay with them, then I’d get up and go back to work and let them play for a bit.

Stop Working

You can’t always be working. You have to not be working sometimes. Establish hard and fast rules for this for yourself. Do you have a morning playtime with your kids? No working during this time, not even if your phone chimes that you have a new message.

Are you enjoying dinner with your family? Again, no working during this time.

You cannot be available to your clients/customers/bosses 24 hours a day. Establish rules for when you are unavailable and stick to them. Reassess how you’re doing with this regularly.

Pinnable image for this blog post

New Diagnoses and Grief

Grief is a normal, natural reaction to getting a new diagnosis. I recently wrote about my own reactions to a new, unexpected diagnosis over at Teddy’s blog.


Recently, my kiddo’s picked up a fair number of new diagnoses. Three were not surprises, one was. Sort of…

And I’m full on going through the five stages of grief over this.

And it’s ok.

I think, too many times, special needs and/or medical needs parents feel like the process we go through when we get a new diagnosis is weird or unacceptable or weak. But it isn’t.

It’s grief.

Read the rest of this article over at Teddy Bear’s Journey.