Sunday, August 17, 2008

Product Hits & Misses: Homemade Edition

Why buy something fancy and expensive when you can hit or miss just as well with something homemade and cheap?

First up for consideration is our big homemade crash pillow. This is an unqualified hit. I first saw one of these at Joy's intensive therapy service provider's offices.

It's nothing more than a huge homemade pillow, full of chunks of soft stuff. The one at the office was filled with foam remnants from a mattress factory. In fact, a mattress factory in our area had been making such pillows free of charge for community members with autism, but they had a closed waiting list by the time I contacted them. Then I'll make one myself, said the little red hen! And she did.

The case is a king-size flat sheet -- you can pick one up at a thrift store for couple of bucks. I just folded it in half, nice-side in, and ran a 1/2-inch seam most of the way around with my trusty 1970s-vintage sewing machine, leaving an opening for filling. Then I turned it right-side out and stuffed it with finds from around the house: the contents of ratty old pillows, a chopped-up "egg-carton" foam pad we had lying around. Get the kids to help with the stuffing! Then stitch up the opening by hand and you're good to go.

The pillow is pictured above folded up against the wall, in case Joy and Rose want to take a running start for a good big crash, as below.

The pillow is big enough for Joy and me to crash together, or Joy and Rose, yet flexible enough that you can fold it over a kid for good big full-body squishes. Rose has even napped on it a time or two.

Next up is the infamous Bucket-o-Beans. This one went over the line from huge hit into too big a hit, and must currently be classified as a miss. Maybe it can come back later.

The Bucket-o-Beans is simply an 18-gallon plastic tote, with 20 pounds of dried pinto beans poured in. A sensory-seeker's paradise, originally recommended to us by Joy's first occupational therapist.

Joy loves to sit in the beans, and have them rubbed on her body, and stim in them with her hands. For a while it was a nice sensory-input option, and a fun way both to contain her and interact with her -- she'd pull my hands down into the beans, for instance, to request that I rub them on her.

Alas, the Bucket-o-Beans descended into addiction, to the point that the ONLY reason Joy ever wanted to go downstairs to the basement was to get into the beans. Then she'd throw a tantrum when it was time to get out. First we had to hide the Bucket-o-Beans away. Then we had to hide a similar unrelated tote that held food for our pet rabbits, because Joy was convinced it held the B-E-A-N-S. Yes, we have to spell it out now, or risk bringing on the urge and the ensuing fuss if we slip and say the word.

Other things to be aware of with the B-E-A-N-S:
  • They can be swallowed whole, and exit whole as well, swollen to about 3 times their original size. (Did I really need to tell you that?)

  • They can be scattered all over the place, especially when a kid gets out, and even more so if the tote tips over.

  • Use under supervision, and be aware of the lid if your little one likes to create cozy enclosed spaces. Most such totes come with suffocation warnings.

All that being said, it's a way-cool and inexpensive option for kids who relish and need such input. I'm hoping that some months down the road, it might be useful for Joy again.


Niksmom said...

Interesting about the B-E-A-N-S; for Nik it would B-A-L-L-S (as in a ball pit). LOL

Thanks for the crash pad idea. I need something like that for Nik's protection when he is going through his meds-related head banging, etc. I've been looking at dog pillows but they aren't big enough.

Frogs' mom said...

Those are favorites around the pond too. Before we had beans, we had a bucket of packing peanuts. Frog loved to get in and swim in them. Other pond inventions include extended onesies and invisible suspenders for keeping clothing on! :0)

The kids look like they are having a ball with the crash pad!

JoyMama said...

NiksMom - another piece of our crash-pillow content is a body-pillow that I used during pregnancy, that also wasn't big enough on its own. It's lovely to have something really HUGE, and we use it all the time.

Frogs' Mom - welcome! And thanks for reminding me of the possibility of onesie extenders. We're in 4T now, the limit of what's easily available as far as I can tell, but we're nowhere near being beyond the need.

Osh said...

great ideas!

redheadmomma said...

Do you have any tips on where to get huge amounts of B-E-A-N-S for cheap? Did you just buy them at the grocery store?


JoyMama said...

Osh - thanks!

Redheadmomma - we didn't shop around or anything, just bought a big ol' bag of B-E-A-N-S at the grocery store. We go to a big warehouse-y sort of grocery, so it was a good bet.

Anonymous said...

Love the crash pillow. Would also love to see *you* crashing into it for some good sensory input!