Ikea Leka Play Gym HackBefore we ever had kids, I vowed that our living room would never look like Babies R Us on crack. I truly believed (and still do!) that you can chose a few beautiful, well made toys for your babies that won’t be an eyesore in the room.

So I wasn’t going to give in to the bright, loud, and obnoxious play gym phenomenon. There are some truly gorgeous wooden play gyms available, (like this, this, and this) but most were a bit more than I wanted to spend. I had seen the Ikea Leka Play Gym a few times and it was definitely the best bang for the buck as far as wooden play gyms go. It was just a little too primary for my taste.

But it was wooden, which I wanted, a nice clean shape, which I liked, and I just so happened to come across one on the classified section of my mother’s group. I figured I could throw a little paint over the bright colors and it would be exactly what I was looking for.

My husband, who loves color, tried to talk me out of painting it. But I won him over when I reminded him that newborns can only see in black and white, so we would be helping her development by painting it. Or something like that.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos of the process. Partly because I wasn’t really sure how it was going to turn out. And partly because it took forever.

I first cut the strings that held the hanging toys together. Then I unscrewed the base pieces from the main piece. So far, so good.

Then I tried, unsuccessfully, for a very long time to remove the spinning plastic toys from either side of the main piece. I asked my husband to do it for me, and after a lot of cursing and prying and sawing, he managed to get them off. (There has to be an easier way!) I had planned on painting these, too, then reattaching them, but the removal process did a bit of damage to them, so into the trash they went.

After I had the entire thing apart, I laid out the pieces and painted some of them black and some of them white using no-voc paints. It took 3-4 coats of paint since the colors were so vibrant, and it was tricky getting both sides evenly painted. Add in the drying time and I was still working on it days later.

Putting it back together was super easy. Once everything was completely dry, I reattached the base pieces to the main piece. then used some natural cotton cord to reattach the hanging toys.

It may have taken me about 10 times longer than I had anticipated, but didn’t it turn out beautifully?

Ikea Leka Play Gym MakeoverIkea Leka HackIkea Leka Play Gym MakeoverIkea Play Gym Makeover


  • Alexis @ Persia Lou - Wow! This is gorgeous!ReplyCancel

  • Jane - This looks great! I’ve been trying to find a nice play gym that isn’t screaming with tacky colours. What kind of paint did you use? Craft paint or house paint? And how did you apply the paint? Any paint cracks on the plastic pieces?ReplyCancel

    • Kaley - Thanks, Jane! I used leftover paint that we used on a dresser – it was no VOC, I believe from Benjamin Moore. I just applied using a foam brush, and there hasn’t been any chips or flakes at all. It still looks brand new.ReplyCancel

      • Jane - So I gave this a shot this wk and it turned out great! I decided not to pry off the spinning toys on the side since you had mentioned it was difficulty. Instead, I placed a piece of paper towel behind it and painted them black. The wooden pieces to hold the mobiles got painted white. I love it! Thank you so much for sharing your idea :)ReplyCancel

        • Kaley - Jane, that is so great! I am so happy that you tried it and love the results. If I were to do it all over again I would skip taking the spinning toys off as well.ReplyCancel

  • Katy - Thanks for this post! This is just what I was looking for! I was about to enlist a family member to make a play gym for me from scratch as I truly could not find anything that didn’t make me cringe or that was under $100+ I will definitely be doing this, looks great!!ReplyCancel

    • Kaley - So glad you like it Katy!ReplyCancel

      • rebecca - hi, this is so lovely..i have got the same play gym and currently painting some bits white with annie sloan paint, unfortunatley i dont have any black paint and not sure whether to fork out the money to buy some.

        I am trying to get the spinning toys off at the sides, did you say you used a saw? They just wont come off! ThanksReplyCancel

        • Kaley - Hi Rebecca,
          We tried sawing them off and tried prying them off with a screwdriver. They are stuck on there pretty well, but we were finally able to get them off. Good luck! I wish there was an easier way!!ReplyCancel

  • Jessica - I’m with you on doing everything possible to avoid the onset of the Babies R Us phenomenon in our home when our son was born. I love a little bit more color and think it can be deftly deployed in an adult-friendly way, so that’s what we’ve tried to do with our home. That said, I love what you have created with this play gym; it’s a very attractive hack and I would have it in my house in a heartbeat. Thanks for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • SUNDAY SHARING | designtrolls - […] soft musical toy, need it, via 2. Adorable kids room, via 3. Ikea baby gym hack, via 4. Baby shower greatness, via 5. I want one of these for the baby bean, then one for […]ReplyCancel

How To Cloth Diaper A Newborn - everything you need to know!We didn’t start cloth diapering Avery until she was a year old. I had great intentions of starting right at the beginning. Did the research, even bought a few different kinds of diapers, but I was just too overwhelmed. It seemed too complicated and I just kept putting it off.

I would like to say that we finally switched over to save the environment after using disposables for a year. Or even to save money. But the real reason was because I heard that it helped kids potty train earlier. And if there is one part of parenting that I don’t care for, it is changing diapers!

Once we started, and I saw how easy it really was, I knew that if we were to ever have another baby we would start off in cloth.

Fast forward a few years. As I was going through everything getting ready for our new baby girl, I pulled out the old cloth diapers to see what we would need to purchase.

Even though I had mastered cloth diapering a toddler, I realized I knew absolutely nothing about cloth diapering a newborn. And I didn’t find a whole lot out there geared specifically toward newborns. So here it is. Everything that I learned, through research and good old trial and error, all in one place.

Here’s what you will need to cloth diaper your newborn:

How to Cloth Diaper a Newborn

The Diapers

With Avery, we used bumGenius 4.0 One-Size diapers, which are supposed to fit from birth through potty training. We loved them so I wanted to stick with them this time around. But almost everyone I talked to said that they didn’t fit very well until about 10 pounds. So I started researching newborn sized diapers.

Have you ever seen newborn cloth diapers? Oh my goodness they are tiny and so darn cute. But they can be expensive since they are used for such a relatively short amount of time. Some people opt to use disposables until their baby is big enough to fit into the one-size, and others choose to rent. I found a great deal so we ended up buying them, and I am so glad we did since she is still wearing them at 4 months. Plus, they are pretty easy to sell when you are finished with them, which will hopefully help recoup a lot of the investment.

We use the bumGenius Newborn Cloth Diapers. They are all one piece, fasten with velcro, and are basically a thicker, cuter version of a disposable diaper. Perfect for when you are overwhelmed and sleep deprived in those first few weeks. We have 24 diapers, and end up doing wash about every other day, sometimes a bit more often.

We started using cloth diapers on Alessia the day we came home from the hospital. She was a little over 6 pounds when we brought her home, and the newborn diapers were still a bit big on her. I felt like the top of the diaper was a bit too close to her cord stump and the leg openings could have been tighter. (She is 12 days old in the top photo, and about 7 pounds) But by the time her umbilical cord fell off they were fitting her perfectly, and they are just now starting to get too small at 12 and a half pounds.

I am so happy that we bought the newborn diapers instead of waiting for her to grow into the 4.0s. She was a lot tinier than we thought she would be at birth, so we have ended up getting a lot of use out of the newborn size diapers. And there is a huge difference between the newborn size and the 4.0, which you can see in the photos below.

The bumGenius newborn diaper is on the left, and thebumGenius 4.o, on the smallest setting with the newborn insert is on the right.

bumGenius newborn vs bumGenius 4.0

The bumGenius 4.o, on the smallest setting with the newborn insert is on the left and the bumGenius newborn diaper is on the right. (Not exactly sure why I switched sides in this photo)

difference between bumGenius newborn diapers and bumGenius 4.0

bumGenius 4.0 on the bottom, bumGenius newborn diaper on top

bumGenius cloth diaper comparison

newborn cloth diapers

For comparison, here she is in the bumGenius newborn diapers on the top, and the bumGenius 4.0s (on the smallest setting) on the bottom. She is 18 weeks and weighs 12 and a half pounds in these photos.

bumGenius Newborn Diapers vs. bumGenius 4.0 Diapers

The Wipes

If you are looking to keep things simple and streamlined, cloth wipes are the way to go. Although it might seem like it would add even more work, the opposite is true. Instead of separating the disposable wipes from the diaper, you just throw the cloth wipes into the dirty diaper bag along with the cloth diapers and wash everything together. Easy.

There are a few different ways to moisten cloth wipes. You can keep the wipes dry and spray each wipe before you use it. You can keep the wipes dry and spray baby’s bottom before wiping. Or you can pre-moisten all of your wipes and keep them in some sort of a container so they are ready to use. After trying all three methods I found that keeping pre-moistened wipes in a wipes warmer was the easiest for us. And after figuring out how to fold them the right way, they pull out of the wipes warmer just like disposable wipes.

We have 4 dozen all natural cotton flannel wipes from TooshieWipes, and it has been the perfect amount. I have never run out of wipes, and I use them liberally with each diaper change. They are super soft and wash up nicely.

Our pediatrician recommended using nothing but water on the wipes for the first month. After that I started adding a drop or two of the Lusa Organics Baby Wipe Juice mixed with water. It smells so nice and doesn’t have any of the toxic chemicals that disposable wipes do.

cloth wipes

Washing & Drying

This is the part that confused me the most before we started cloth diapering. There are definitely a few steps that have to be followed, but once you get the hang of it, it is really easy.

This only pertains to newborn diapers, with exclusively breastfed babies, which is absolutely the easiest kind of mess to clean up. Since breastfed baby poop is completely water soluble, you don’t have to do a thing after taking the diaper off of the baby. Just secure the velcro tabs and then throw the whole diaper (& wipes) into the dirty diaper bag. Every other day, when it is time to wash the diapers, just carry the bag to the laundry room, unzip the bottom of the bag, (or open the top, depending on which bag you use) and throw the whole bag and all the diapers into the washing machine, poop and all. It seems really gross, but it is the same as throwing a towel with yogurt on it into the wash. Seriously.

To wash the diapers, I first run a cold wash, with no detergent, to rinse all of the waste out. Then I do a hot wash with cloth diaper safe detergent, and an extra rinse at the end. (This is all in a front loading HE washer.) After everything is nice and clean, I put everything into the dryer on low heat for one cycle, then lay the diapers out to dry the rest of the way.

If any of the diapers come out of the wash discolored, I hang them in the sun and within an hour they are perfectly white again. We have big windows in our laundry room, so I just strung some twine across the room to hang them from.

cloth diapers


Our tiny newborn cloth diapers are actually easier to store than disposables. We used to buy the huge value size boxes of diapers, which took up a ton of closet space. Then we would keep a basket full on the changing table, which would inevitably run out in the middle of the night.

Now  everything we need to cloth diaper fits right in the dresser that we use as a changing table. In one of the top drawers of the dresser, we keep all of the diapers and doublers, the wipes juice, a bottle to mix the wipes solution, a small jar of coconut oil, the extra dirty diaper bag, and any extra wipes. The diapers are all stored open flat like file folders, so I can see how many we have left and they are easy to grab and use. On top of the dresser is the wipes warmer which holds enough wipes to last a few days between washings.

bumGenius newborn diapers

Leaks, Blowouts & Rashes

We unfortunately had quite a few leaks at the beginning, until I realized that we just weren’t fastening the diaper tight enough. Our baby girl is really tiny, with skinny little legs, and since we weren’t attaching the diaper tight enough, there were gaps at her thighs which was leading to leaks. Once we solved that problem things were clean and dry. For a while. Then the leaks started happening again, mainly at night. This time it wasn’t a fit issue. We just have a heavy wetter who was outgrew the absorbency of the newborn diapers but not the fit.

The diapers are tiny and not really meant to be used with extra liners, but we had to do something to up the absorbency. So I took a bunch of Gerber organic pre-fold cloth diapers that we had used previously as burp cloths and turned them into newborn doublers. I cut them each in half, then zig-zag stitched the cut edge to finish them. For night time and naps, I fold the doubler in thirds and place it right inside the diaper. It does make the diaper bulkier, but it works like a charm to prevent leaks.

We have never once had a blowout in cloth diapers. And considering how many we had when we used disposables, that alone makes cloth diapering worth it!

The only time our little one has ever had diaper rash was when we used disposables for a day when we were out of town. She has  never had a problem with rashes in the cloth diapers. If she ever has any red areas, we rub a bit of coconut oil (which is safe for cloth diapers) on her diaper area and it has cleared right up.

bumGenius newborn cloth diaper inserts

And thats it! This may be the longest post I’ve ever written, so if you read the whole thing I am impressed. If you have any questions, ask away. I will try my best to answer in the comments or in a separate post. I know I spent hours and hours searching for answers to the millions of questions I had when I started, so I would love to help save you time!

  • Ally - I am due in 3 months and planning to cloth diaper. This is perfect! Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Becca - Thanks so much for writing on this! I’ve been researching and this is the first time I’ve found something that makes sense. Did you find that you had any trouble getting the coconut oil out of the diapers? Or that it affected the absorbency?ReplyCancel

    • kaleyann - Hi Becca,
      So gad that this info helped you. No, I don’t have any issues at all with the coconut oil. I just use a little bit and rub it into her skin and it works like a charm!ReplyCancel

  • Michelle - I am cloth diapering my 2 week old right now but using disposable wipes and I always am forgetting to throw the wipes away when I put the diaper in the dirty bag. I want to know more about using cloth wipes. How do you fold them? How do you travel with them?ReplyCancel

    • kaleyann - Hi Michelle,
      Yes, cloth wipes were the most confusing to me as well, since I used disposables when I cloth diapered my older daughter. But after just a few days of using cloth wipes, it was so easy. You fold them like an accordion, so that they pull out of the holder like disposables. As far as traveling with cloth – I think I will have to do a whole post on that. :)ReplyCancel

  • Carly McManus - Did you try any other brands of newborn diapers besides bum genius? Everyone is telling me to get one of those starter packs with all the different types to see which one we like.ReplyCancel

    • kaleyann - Hi Carly,
      No I didn’t try any other brands. I knew I liked the bumGenius 4.0s, but I still did a TON or research and decided that I would go with the bumGenius newborn diapers. I am so glad I did. :)ReplyCancel

  • Cassie - This post is so comprehensive and helpful! Thank you! I’ve been a little on the fence about cloth diapering but you’ve given me peace of mind and convinced me that it’s worth it!ReplyCancel

    • kaleyann - You’re welcome, Cassie! So happy you are feeling good about it now!ReplyCancel

  • Rochelle - I have a 3 month old and much like you I was researching since I was pregnant but became overwhelmed by everything. I was just wondering what you do to prep the diapers before the first use? Also what detergent do you use?ReplyCancel

    • kaleyann - Hi Rochelle,
      It can be so overwhelming! I promise it is easier than it seems! Before I used them the first time, I washed the diapers twice on hot with a small amount of detergent, then dried them and had them waiting in the drawer when we brought our little babe home from the hospital. I have used a few different detergents, but have found that I get the best results with biokleen.ReplyCancel

  • Sylvie - Thanks so much for this information. Was always very intimidated by cloth diapers, but you’ve made it seem very doable!ReplyCancel

  • Colleen - Great information! My daughter just had a baby and would love to start using cloth diapers, but she has not been able to breastfeed her daughter (health issues) and has had to go to formula and we were wondering about the cleaning part of the diapers with a formula feed baby?ReplyCancel

    • Kaley - That is a great question, Colleen! I am not sure if washing them would be the same as when feeding solids, or if you should treat it more like breastmilk poo. Maybe someone else can comment on that as I don’t have experience with it?ReplyCancel

  • Christina - When I was using cloth wipes, I used the peri-bottle from the hospital (the one they give you to wash your bottom post-partum). I would keep my wipes solution in there and squirt it on dry wipes or even baby’s bum.ReplyCancel

    • Kaley - I did the exact same thing before I switched to the wipes warmer! I still use the peri-bottle to mix the solution in. :)ReplyCancel

  • Angela Madden - I’ve been looking at options for cloth diapering newborns, and this seems less work than what I was thinking (prefolds). I’ve also read that the BumGenius are better for babies with chubby legs, so I’m happy to read that these worked really well for your tiny, skinny baby.

    My question is where did you buy your diapers from.ReplyCancel

  • Rachel - I totally read the whole thing and loved it. Simple, informative and exactly what I needed. You did such a great job describing newborn cloth diapering. I am super excited to start when our baby arrives and my husband is on board. Our parents tell us these horror stories of their cloth diapering days of like 30 years ago. Things have changed parents! We are going with BumGenius, but have been puzzled on what to do our newborn in. This helped a lot. :) Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Kaley - Thanks, Rachel! I’m so glad it helped. Can’t wait to hear how it goes when your little one arrives!ReplyCancel

  • Angel - Awesome post! Super helpful ((:ReplyCancel

  • Andrea - What was your experience using cloth diapers while you and baby were out and about? Say you had to change baby while you were out, what did you do with the dirty diaper? What did you do about the smell? Sorry if it seems like a silly questionReplyCancel

    • Kaley - Hi Andrea,
      Not silly at all. Using cloth while out and about isn’t that hard at all. I carry a zippered wetbag and put the dirty diapers in it. The bag contains any moisture and smell just fine. When I get home, I throw the wet bag and the dirty diapers into the regular diaper bag and wash them all normally. I will expand on this in my cloth diapering updates post.ReplyCancel

  • Katrina - I was wondering about washing the NB cd. For some reason I’m not having luck with washing my lo’s cd. Her poop seems to stain the cloth diapers. AIO & prefolds. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong? I’ve washed the way they suggest to wash the CD I even soaked them and did it twice. The diapers still have major yellow stains. She is exclusively breast fed too. Any suggestions?ReplyCancel

  • Alicia - Great post1 Did you just buy your newborn bumgenius from amazon? Or did you find a good deal elsewhere?ReplyCancel

  • Kristin - I love this post. I’m expecting twins in April so I’m trying to up the amount of diapers I keep on hand. I’m thinking of going for 36 newborn and 36 regular and hoping that I can get away with laundry every – every other day. When you put the diapers through the dryer, one cycle on low, they come out not completely dry. How long did it take them to hang dry from there? Did you have any shrinking issues? I see bumGenius’ site recommends drying the liner but hanging the cover right out of the washer, but it would be so much easier for me if they got a little dry in the dryer first. With twins, I can’t risk having to wait around for them to dry! Thanks so much!ReplyCancel

    • Steph - I use BumGenius and I do not put my covers in the dryer EVER! The high heat can damage the covers and make it so they don’t keep moisture in. I always line dry mine straight out of the washer and they dry in no time. By the time my liners are done in the dryer, my covers are dry on the line. Putting them in the dryer also voids the warranty. If your diapers have problems within the warranty period, BumGenius won’t do anything for you if you haven’t followed their washing directions.ReplyCancel

      • Kaley - I agree, once we switched from the BG newborn all-in-ones to the BG 4.0, the covers never went in the dryer. The BG 4.0 cover does dry super fast, but the BG newborn diapers don’t have a removable insert, so they take much longer to dry.ReplyCancel

  • nicole - This was very helpful i have 2 kids and unfortunately i was very young and now im pregnant again, planned, and i am deciding to use cloth diapers and wipes i have been doing some research on how to make your own wipes and diapers and came across this.ReplyCancel

cloud mobileA few days before Alessia was born, in my last-minute nesting craziness, I freaked out because she didn’t have a mobile above her crib. Now never mind the fact that newborns can’t really see beyond a few inches from their face, and the fact that we weren’t planning on having her sleep anywhere but our bed for the first month or more. That didn’t matter because I had it in my head that we needed a mobile and we needed it now.

At this point I was on modified bed rest, so going out shopping wasn’t an option, nor was shopping online because there wasn’t time to have it shipped before she arrived. So I had to make something with materials we had in the house, and I had to be able to do it while sitting comfortably in bed or on the couch. After scavenging around the house for materials, I knew exactly what I wanted her mobile to look like.

Since it is hung above her crib, I wanted it to be peaceful, and help her relax and sleep (ha!), not stimulate her with bright colors and keep her awake. This little cloud mobile was super easy to make and I love the idea of her laying in her crib looking up at the clouds floating above her while she drifts off to sleep.

To make your own cloud mobile you only need a few materials and about 2 hours. And yes, you can make the whole thing while sitting comfortably on the couch.

cloud mobileYou will need:

  • a piece of thin cardboard (I used a piece of a cereal box)
  • white stuffing
  • white linen
  • a thin wooden dowel
  • a needle
  • white thread
  • scissors (not shown)
  • crazy glue (not shown)

how to make a cloud mobileDIY cloud mobileDirections:

  1. Draw a cloud on your piece of cardboard and cut it out to make a stencil. Then make one stencil slightly larger than the first and one slightly smaller than the first. You will end up with 3 cloud stencils: 1 large, 1 medium, and 1 small.
  2. Use the stencils to cut out 1 pair of large clouds, 4 pairs of medium clouds, and 2 pairs of small clouds from the white linen. You will have 14 cloud pieces when you are finished cutting.
  3. Take a pair of cloud pieces and stitch around the outside of the cloud using a running stitch. Leave a small opening.
  4. Stuff the cloud with the filling and finish stitching up the cloud.
  5. Repeat until you have 1 large cloud, 4 medium clouds, and 2 small clouds.
  6. Cut the dowels so that you have 1 large piece, 1 medium piece, and 1 small piece of dowel.
  7. String a long piece of white thread through a medium cloud using the needle.
  8. Attach the string to one end of the medium dowel and tie securely. Repeat with another medium cloud on the other end of the medium dowel, making sure that the strings are the same length so that the mobile will hang evenly.
  9. Continue attaching the clouds to the dowels like in the example. Every so often, stop and hang from your finger to make sure that everything is even. Once all of the clouds are attached and it is all level, secure each place where the string is attached to the dowel with a small drop of super glue.
  10. Hang your mobile and enjoy looking up at the clouds!

easy DIY cloud mobile

*Be sure to take extra precautions when hanging this or any other mobile. It is not a toy. Keep out of the reach of children.*

Healthy Ice Cream Made with frozen bananas

Anyone who knows me knows that I do not eat chocolate. Never have, never will. Even as a little kid, I despised the taste and refused to eat it. (I know what you are thinking…I have heard it my whole life!) So when Avery was born, I was not-so-secretly hoping that she would be like me and refuse the stuff. Well, she went in the opposite direction and is a little chocoholic!

For a while, I was in denial and never made anything with chocolate in it. But then anytime we were out and someone would say the word chocolate, she would squeal with delight. So I finally admitted defeat and allowed chocolate in the house. And now I even look for recipes that will satisfy her chocolate cravings, and still have some sort of redeeming qualities.

My sister-in-law first made this treat for her when I was still in denial about her chocolate loving ways. It is super quick and easy to make, and it is healthy! Plus it uses up all the half-eaten bananas that get left daily.

I’m sharing the super easy recipe (can it even be called a recipe when it is this easy?) over on Modern Parents Messy Kids today, plus a few variations for all of us crazy chocolate haters out there.

Mini Notebooks - March

Month 3 of the year of mini notebooks project. March. In honor of the Irish.

May you never forget what is worth remembering or remember what is best forgotten.
Irish blessing

Mini Notebooks - March

You will need:

  • a plain mini notebook
  • white twill tape
  • green felt
  • scissors (not shown)
  • a needle and thread (not shown)
  • glue gun (not shown)

DIY Felt Shamrock


  1.  Cut 4 small rectangles out of green felt.
  2. Trim the top so that it looks like a camel. (with 2 humps)
  3. Using a needle and green thread, make a few stitches through each rectangle, as shown.
  4. Repeat until all 4 rectangles are on the thread.
  5. Bring the ends together and pull tight until all of the rectangles come together into a circle.
  6. Tie the string tightly, making a shamrock shape.
  7. Take a piece of twill tape and wrap it around the mini notebook.
  8. Hot glue the ends of the twill tape together (but not to the notebook), making a band around the notebook.
  9. Hot glue the shamrock to the twill tape.

Happy March!

To see the rest of the mini notebooks in this collection, click here.