How to Make a Bed for Foster Children

Many things go into preparing to be foster parents. Having been a foster mom for a couple of years to eight different children, I recommend giving some thought to bedding for the new kiddos.

1. Waterproof Mattress Pad. A waterproof mattress pad is a foster family essential. Bedwetting is more common with foster kids, even into their teen years, because bedwetting can be aggravated by stress . Kids who didn’t get enough to eat may also hoard food in their rooms. Depending upon the food, you could end up with some gloppy messes. Protect that expensive mattress!

2. White Bed Sheets. Why white? You may want to bleach those bed sheets – see the reasons in #1 and in case of lice (happens to all kids). Boys and girls are equally fine with white. White is good for all ages – those super cute Elmo sheets are awesome to little kids, but the older set would be mortified. Kids may come with a favorite blanket and white will match it guaranteed. If every sheet is white, you can wash them all at once – no worrying about sorting lights, darks, and whites. And trust me, you’ll be doing enough laundry as it is.

3. Soft Blankets. A little extra comfort from a soft blanket can help ease a child’s troubles. Children in care have gone through trauma and night time can be particularly difficult for some. Perhaps the night was when bad things happened, like sexual assault or their parents reached maximum drunkenness or it was when they were left alone. Kids often keep themselves too busy in the day to think about the trauma, but the memories surface as they try to fall asleep. Kids can also be prone to bad dreams. A child can snuggle, pet or rub a plush blanket or one with a satin trim to help soothe themselves.

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4. Neutral Bed Spread. Again, neutrals work with both boys and girls of all ages. I like blue for a bedspread, but gray, green, and black could work, too. The right neutral can be mixed and matched with a variety of paint on the walls and other beds. Why is that important? Because you might need to reconfigure your bedroom set-ups if you take in more than one child. A sibling set of two could be one boy and one girl, meaning separate bedrooms. But it could be two girls (or two boys) and you want to put them together, so that when your family comes to visit you have a guest bedroom – or when their third sibling comes for respite.

5. Flare: Stuffed Animals and Throw Pillows. To rescue your foster child’s room from becoming too blah or too sterile, you can add easy-to-swap-out “flare.” I often put stuffed animals on the bed. Most kids like big stuffed dogs or teddy bears, though I’ve gotten some “older kid” items like animals or characters from popular video games. Throw pillows can do the same trick.

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6. Hypoallergenic Pillows. If you’re going to buy new pillows, play it safe and get hypoallergenic ones. Why run the risk of red eyes and runny noses if you don’t need to?

7. An Extra Throw. We do both long-term foster care and short-term, respite care. Some kids are used to cool bedrooms and others prefer warmer. The easiest solution is to provide an extra blanket folded on the end of the bed for them to use – or not. It can also add a bit more flare to your neutral bedspread.

8. Bed Furniture. If you need to buy more beds, but don’t have lots of money to spend, consider buying twin beds from a flea market or garage sale. A few quick coats of black, white or grey paint and they’ll all match each other. [Note: Don’t paint cribs as teething babies may chip off the paint and eat it.]

9. Bedrails. A twin bed can work for little ones if you add bedrails that keep them from falling out of the bed.  If you don’t what these are, Amazon has some examples, though you can easily get them at Walmart, Target, or other such stores.

So, now you’ve made a bed for a foster child.  Let’s hope the kiddos will make their bed, too. 😉

How to Feed Your Foster Kids and Yourself

Before becoming a foster mom, I never gave any thought to how I would feed any children placed in our home. I thought, “Hey, I will feed them.” But it’s not that simple.

The food preferences of the six of us currently in the house are: Asian, Latino, Midwest, and what I like to call “random today I eat it, tomorrow I don’t unless it’s bland and then maybe but maybe not.”

Some don’t eat any bread. One pretty much only eats bread. Three out of four kids eat mac and cheese, but one absolutely will not. Three will eat beans, but not the fourth. Two will eat rice. Unless it’s French fries, only one will eat potatoes.

A wise nutritionist once advised me to always put one item on the table that anyone who didn’t want to eat the main meal, could eat. That used to be bread. But now I have non-bread eaters (I know, I know. Bread is so awesome it’s hard to believe not loving it, especially a freshly baked baguette with French butter!)

So every night is now an international smorgasbord. It features one new main and the leftover main(s) from the last night or two. I purposely make more than we can eat in one sitting in order to have those leftovers. So what’s for dinner tonight? One Asian dish, one Texmex, and one Midwest entree with a couple sides of fruit and veggies.

Fusion? It’s not just for upscale restaurants. My budding culinary artists have invented rice topped with potato salad and tacos stuffed with shredded pork, lettuce and ramen noodles. Of course, for the purists, we still have plain ol’ white bread.

Some ask me why I go out of my way to accommodate everybody. Well, feeding your kids – both foster and otherwise – is a requirement. All joking aside, though, there are lots of reasons.

One kiddo’s ADD meds suppresses her appetite and so she tends to be underweight. Another child frequently refuses to eat and has been losing weight. Also, food is one of those links to the kiddo’s cultural heritage. Lastly, if you’ve had a sucky day, because (insert any regular or foster care hardship here), don’t you just want some comfort food to make you feel better?