Welcome to this week’s Survive The Coming Collapse newsletter, brought to you by Free Survival Cheat Sheets.com, a set of quick, actionable, and free preparedness and survival tips and tricks from the The Fastest Way To Prepare course.
Survival Diva here with some food for thought about children’s needs during a crisis of any length. Those of you without children might want to spend a little time here to pick up a few bartering ideas, or in case a relative with children finds their way to your door. Yes, we may tell ourselves that we’ll turn uninvited relatives away…but looking into the eyes of a child may have you changing your mind.
Children’s needs are much different than they are for adults and they change throughout the different stages of their development. Because of this, I’ve broken up this post in two sections: Children’s Needs and Infant’s Needs.
Before we get started, I should mention I have not mentioned universal and fundamental issues like heating, lighting, or CPR training because they are pivotal for survival, and I assume these needs have already been arranged for.
If there was an instruction manual that came with children, I’m convinced it should start with their laundry needs. Anyone who is a parent or has cared for children can tell you if there’s a mud puddle within 10 miles of their vicinity, kids will find it! To combat this, I’ve posted below an easy to make recipe for homemade laundry soap the Duggar family (“19 Kids And Counting” on TLC) kindly posts for free. I’d suggest getting a good amount of the ingredients listed in their recipe so you’ll have it on hand when you really need it. And don’t forget a wash tub (Tuff Stuff sells a 15-gallon size tub for around $22.50), a hand agitator (They’re available at Lehman’s for around $20), clothesline, clothes pens and an industrial-size wringer mop bucket to expel excess water from clothing before hanging on the clothesline.
(David’s note: Barbara’s point about a wringer mop bucket is an easy one to overlook the importance of. It is probably the best combination of cost and ease for quickly removing the majority of water out of laundry so that you can minimize line time.)
The Duggar’s Homemade Laundry Soap Recipe—It’s Cheap and easy!
4 Cups – hot water
1 Fels-Naptha soap bar
1 Cup – Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda*
½ Cup Borax
– Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.
-Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.
-Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)
-Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.
-Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.
Okay, now that we’ve gotten through the preliminaries, it’s time to tackle children’s must-haves.
One of their most obvious needs is clothing. Kids grow like weeds! It will be necessary to have a selection of clothing, underwear, and socks put aside for them to grow into. The same goes for boots, coats, hats and gloves if you live in a cold weather climate. Personally, I’ve stocked up on “gently used” clothing to keep the cost down. If you are on a similar budget, try thrift stores and garage sales. Children’s clothing is one area where I would advise a long-term approach, which would mean getting several years worth of clothes, shoes, and boots in larger sizes. A Crisis doesn’t reveal itself until it’s upon us, and even then the timeline isn’t always clear. Why risk it?
(David’s note: I grew up in the country a few decades ago and when I was in my grade school growth spurt stages, my mom would normally buy pants that were slightly long and/or big around the waist. I’d simply wear a belt to keep my pants up and roll up my pants to the appropriate length. I realize that this is probably very uncool now, but in a recessionary/depression/total collapse situation, it’s a great tactic. It does mean that you probably want to buy heavier duty clothing that won’t fall apart after a couple of wearings. Think old Levis or Carhartt and Riggs.)
I am not a physician, but medication is something we all need to investigate. To put aside penicillin-derivative or anything without knowing if a child may have a reaction to it is risky. Children can suffer allergies to non-penicillin medications as well. Check with your pediatrician before giving any prescription medication to a child or infant. If your child takes daily prescription medicine, it is especially important to have a talk with your child’s doctor to see if there is a way to set aside extras.
On previous posts I have mentioned appetite fatigue which is most common with the very young and the elderly. Appetite fatigue is brought on by having to eat the same meal day after day to the point where the sufferer chooses to go hungry. This can be a dangerous situation when food may be in short supply and weight loss is already a concern. Combating appetite fatigue is best done by planning for as much variety as possible in long term food storage. Adding texture and flavor with spices and meat or fish will help, as does including their favorite comfort foods. If their favorite treat is a special soup, or fruit rollups, or hard candies, or trail mix, or a bowl of popcorn, try to add them into your food storage as money allows. For my family, the all-time favorite comfort food is pepperoni Chef Boyardee Pizza Kit Pizza. I put enough of them aside to allow for a special treat a couple times a month…they aren’t cheap! Favorite soups have always been chicken noodle and tomato, so I set aside a shelf full of both kinds. Yes, I could make homemade chicken noodle soup, but the idea is to bring familiar foods to the table every once in a while. Besides, we “cooks” deserve a break once in a while.
Think about what your children love eating the most, and include as much as possible of the items on that list that has the longest shelf life.
Children will need an outlet for pent-up energy. That can be problematic if a crisis brings unrest to your area. It may not be safe to go outside and play, and if that’s the case, children will not be able to run next door to play with the neighbor kids as they once did. While mom and dad and the rest of the adults in your group (if applicable) are busy staying on top of surviving a crisis, children may have to entertain themselves. Depending upon the age of the child and their personality, channeling their energy in a positive direction could take several directions.
If a child is used to pitching in with chores, there will be plenty to keep them busy. Gardening, dishes, and laundry come to mind. Helping watch younger siblings is another. While things remain relatively safe at the present time, this may seem a bit harsh. But in survival situation children who are old enough for the task may have to contribute.
Even with added responsibilities, children will need a healthy outlet to channel their energy; one that allows them to be kids, even in the midst of difficult times. Luckily, it doesn’t take a lot of money to provide entertainment for children. Here are a few ideas:
- Purchase a box of printer paper. It’s cheap (less than $25 and even cheaper on sale) and will last a long time.
- Coloring books, crayons, colored pencils, pens, pencils, and a pencil sharpener are affordable—especially at Dollar Stores!
- Check garage sales, thrift stores and libraries for used books. A few years ago, I found hardbound children’s books in great condition at my small, rural library for .25₵ to .50 ₵ each and bought a boatload of them for different age groups.
- If you’ve ever considered homeschooling, why not search for used lesson plans or download them from the Internet and print them?
- Age-specific board games and card games are other possibilities, especially when there are siblings who can keep one-another entertained. Hopefully, there will be time for the whole family to enjoy a game together every now and then!
- Relatively safe outdoor games like horseshoes or croquet might be other possibilities. I say “relatively” because some kids are better at self-preservation than others. I’ve personally seen broken noses over a heated tetherball game, and don’t get me started on volleyball!
- (David’s addition: Red Ryder BB guns, bb’s, sling shots, small frame tools, and LOTS of smaller nails & screws)
The above are just a few ideas. Luckily, the possibilities are endless, and as long as you have the necessary items on hand before a crisis, the impact it has on a child will be less severe.
Here are a couple of homemade recipes for kid’s projects you probably already have on hand:
Homemade Play Dough
1 Cup Cornstarch
2 Cups Baking Soda
1 ½ Cups Water
Stir above ingredients until smooth and cook over medium heat until cooled. Add desired food coloring into the cooled Play Dough and knead until color is mixed evenly. Store in plastic zip-lock bags with excess air squeezed out to keep Play Dough from drying out.
Homemade Finger Paints
½ Cup Cornstarch
3 Tablespoons Sugar
½ Teaspoon Salt
2 Cups Cold Water
Mix above ingredients together in a saucepan. Cook on low heat 10 to 15 minutes, stirring until smooth and the mixture thickens. Let cool.
Divide the cooled finger paint into separate bowls and add desired food coloring. Store finger paint in zip lock bags with excess air squeezed out so it won’t dry out.
To start out with, if you were to store enough disposable diapers for one year, based on 10 diaper changes per day, it would mean you would have to find the storage space and the money for 3,650 diapers! The cost for 3,650 run-of-the-mill diapers would cost approximately $912.50. Ouch! And that only covers one year. But what if a crisis were to last longer? Now would be a great time to run out and buy cloth diapers, rubber pants, and diaper pins. Personally, I’d consider a one week supply of cloth diapers, which would mean purchasing 6 dozen. For diapers to be adaptable for growing babies it’s best to choose the type you fold yourself, rather than size-specific pre-fold diapers.
(David’s Note: depending on how often your infant needs to get changed, you may want to consider keeping extra maxi pads of various thicknesses on hand to augment your diapers.)
Health wise, infants receive the best nutrition through mother’s breast milk. During a crisis, especially when forced to relocate, a breastfeeding mother does not have the concerns of sterilizing bottles and preparing formula while on the go. If breastfeeding is not possible, having stored baby formula on hand is one alternative. Many recommend Lactofree made by Mead Johnson or Similac Lactose Free made by Ross Laboratories to avoid lactose intolerance which is caused from the sugars found in milk products. So, if you are planning ahead for an upcoming birth, storing lactose-free infant formula is a prudent safe-guard to avoid issues on down the road. Formula should be stored in a cool, dark, moisture-free location. Its shelf life is up to one year, but once opened, should be consumed within one month.
Considering the short shelf life of commercially made infant formula, its good news there is a backup plan. Visit The Weston A. Price Foundation for recipes for raw milk, goat milk, and liver baby formulas.
Typically babies are ready to begin eating solid foods from 4 to 6 months. Here are the signs they may be ready for solid foods, according to the Mayo Clinic:
- The baby holds his or her head in a steady, upright position
- The baby can sit with support
- The baby shows signs of interest in what you are eating
This time-line is subjective and will depend upon the food that is available. The most common recommendation when introducing solids to an infant’s diet is to begin with rice cereal that at first is made runny and then becomes progressively thicker as the infant adjusts to swallowing solid foods.
It seems the jury is still out on the issue over feeding young children fish, peanut butter, and eggs. We were once told to avoid them until a child is older to prevent their developing food allergies. Now we are told it makes no difference to wait as far as developing allergies goes…either they are allergic, or they aren’t.
Additionally, The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that a child under the age of 12 months should not be given honey in any form (including in cooked foods), as honey may contain trace amounts of botulism that adults can process in small doses, but can have adverse affects on infants and toddlers.
It is wise to seek a physician’s advice about how to proceed with regards to infant and children’s dietary restrictions and what to do in case of a severe reaction. You may also want to ask about The Mayo Clinic’s advice on keeping an oral antihistamine on hand for allergic reactions.
It is suggested that once a new food is introduced to an infant to wait for 3 to 5 days before introducing a new food. That way you can watch for symptoms of allergic reaction such as diarrhea, rash or vomiting.
NOTE: A manual food processor will come in handy to puree foods.
Those onesies are adorable, but are quickly outgrown! Make sure to have a variety of sizes available. And don’t forget warm coats, hats and gloves if you live in a northern climate.
A Baby Bjorn, an Ergo Pack, or a sling that you can fashion yourself (check online) will allow you to walk distances or to work at tasks like gardening where you must have your hands free. (David’s note: We were determined to wear our kids and ended up with NoJo, Baby Bjorn, Ergo, other slings, and DIY setups. The Ergo Baby carrier was, by far, the best carrier we found. We are friends with the creator (Karen’s) old roommate and have heard nothing but good things about her.)
Infants Come With “Stuff”…Lots & Lots of Stuff! Here is a list of things you may want to have put aside for newborns:
Bottles (NOT the kind that require liners)
Diaper Rash Ointment
Baby Nail Clippers
Digital Ear or Rectal Thermometer
We covered quite a bit of ground about prepping for children and infants! But there is always more. Please post your tips and comments on what you’ve done to prepare for children, especially multi-use items. Have any money-saving tips? Do you have family members who may show up with their children? If so are you prepared?
God Bless and Stay Safe,
David Morris and Survival Diva