Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Buying local?

I was a "sort of" vegetarian for about 8 years, until we moved to a rural community, met our neighbours and had an opportunity to buy local ethically raised beef. I started eating meat again. Not all the meat and poultry our family eats is local, but when we have the opportunity to buy from friends, we do so, and stock up our freezer. My commitment to doing this has waxed and waned over the last 7 years, but it is something I feel good about.

We live in a country where produce is only available certain months of the year, but when available, we always choose the options grown closest to home. Even if it cost a little more I will choose a product produced locally and sold at our local farmers market over a supermarket product brought in from another continent. For a few months of the year this is easy, but if I want fresh fruit is March, it has to be imported. Often my cravings for a yummy clementine out weigh the fact it was grown very far away from my home.

When it came to choosing diapers, I also looked at where they were made. There are an enormous amount of companies out there attempting to create the perfect cloth diaper. The market is growing, and many people are jumping on board. New designs are patented and closely guarded, every company is in search of the cutest pattern or the most popular colors, all for the lowest prices. One more factor to throw into the mix is who made your diaper.

I have to admit that not all of the diapers I own are Canadian made, or even North American made, but when given a choice between two very similar products I am inclined to choose the one made on this continent. I own a number of different brands and am always wanting (although not doing so as much lately as I really don't need any more and it is hard to justify spending money on something you don't really need) to try out something new, but if it is new AND Canadian it is doubly hard to resist.

How about you? Does where something is made influence your choice when purchasing something? Do you prefer when something is locally made?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A poopy butt?

One of the things that seems to scare people the most about cloth diapers is the thought of dealing with poop. I won't lie. You will have to deal with poop. But dealing with your babies poop is part of being a parent, and sooner or later you will get used to it. For me, in the first few days of being a parent, pooping became something to celebrate. My twins were in the NICU and my little 3 and a half pound boy wasn't pooping (or eating for that matter, hard to eat when there is no where for it to go). After a few days of this issue, many many tests and procedures, my little peanut had his first poops. I cried with relief. For me, as a parent, having a baby who pooped on a regular basis became a sign that things were working okay. I was happy to see poop. Although my enthusiasm for the smelly stuff has died down, I still tend to keep track of my babies bowl movements and to have a sense that they are "working" when I see their daily poopy diapers.

How do you deal with the poop?

If you are cloth diapering a newborn you have the option to do nothing if they are exclusively breastfed. You remove the poopy diaper, wipe off your baby and put the diaper, poop and all, into the wetbag. When it comes time to do laundry , you dump the bag of dirty diapers into the washing machine, turning the bag inside out as you go (no need to touch the diapers), rinse, wash and rinse again. And voila, clean diapers.

Even with breastfed babies you have the option to deal with poop before putting it in your washing machine, and once babies are getting formula or solid foods you have to deal with their poop. There are a few different methods.

One that is popular is to use disposable liners inside your diapers. These come on a roll, look like a thick soft toilet paper, and rip off to be used once in each diaper. Once dirty these are designed to be flushed away in the toilet. I have tried these liners, and for my two have not found them that useful. I found they bunched up and defeated the stay dry feeling of pocket diapers, because they held moisture next to the skin. Some people swear by them though. A roll is pretty cheap, so it is worth it to buy a roll to try out and if you happen to love them then you can add them to your routine. I do occasionally use mine as a barrier when I need to apply a bit of cloth diaper safe cream to my babies butts.

If you aren't using disposable liners you have to scrape, swish or spray your diapers clean. Many times with older babies, the poop forms a turd in the diaper, and if changed promptly you can just shake it over the toilet, and it will plop into the bowl. If this doesn't happen, or if your baby has runny poop, you have to figure out how to get rid of it. There are spatula like devices sold that you can use to scrape the poop, I have never dried using one of these, so really have no idea if they work well or not. Some people take their poopy diaper and swish it around in the toilet bowl, sometimes even holding it there as they flush, allowing the water and suction to loosen up the poop. I clean my toilet often, but am just not comfortable with this method as it means sticking your hand and diaper into the toilet bowl. Some people aren't bugged by it at all. Maybe if you had a toilet in your house that was mainly used just for rinsing diapers?

The method I use is to spray. My lovely husband installed a diaper sprayer on the side of the toilet (they cost from $30 to $50 and took him less than 10 min to install). I love my sprayer. There is a learning curve when you start using the sprayer, it is a bit like a mini power sprayer and sometimes the pressure, when aimed in the wrong direction, can send water and poop particles flying. I know I had to give my toilet and the wall and floor around it a good cleaning quite a few times when I was figuring the sprayer out. Now I have the angles and pressure pretty much down pat and can neatly spray off a diaper in seconds, with hardly even a water droplet getting on the toilet rim. My recommendation, for those starting out (something I thought of after learning how to use it) would be to practice spraying down a few clean diapers first to learn the angles and pressure needed to not make a mess.

What do you do about poop stains?

It is rare that I will get poop stains on my diapers. The washing routine I have takes care of most of them. If I do get slight staining, I don't panic, because over time they will be washed so often the stains will just disappear. If stains really bug you, using a little oxygen bleach or even chlorine bleach ( if it is a prefold or insert with no elastic, snaps PUL etc.) might take care of the stains. Just make sure if you use a stain fighting product that you do an extra rinse or two to make sure there is no residues left to bother your babies butts. Another effective stain remover is sunshine. Sunning the diapers outside on the line, or in a sunny window for a few hours, or a few days even, will often whiten a stain right up. Stains in no way effect how a diaper functions though, so really the easiest thing to do is to ignore them, to keep using and washing the diaper, and often the issue will go away.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Bare Butt Basics part 4 making the switch to cloth

If you already have a baby in diapers (or even a toddler) it is not too late to make the switch to cloth diapers from disposables. With my twins, I was late to get started, and although I regret not starting sooner, I have never regretted making the switch. If you aren't sure that you are ready to make a total switch to cloth, that is fine too. It is possible to use cloth diapers part time too. You might discover after using them for a while that you are ready to go to full time very soon.

If you think you know the type, style and brand of diaper that you want to use , then looking for a place to get a good deal is a good way to start. Many stores will give price reductions on diapers bought in bulk and will offer free shipping for orders over a certain price. If you live close to a brick and mortar store then you have the chance to actually go and touch and see what you would like to buy. If you don't and are ordering on the internet it pays to google the brand you are thinking of buying and to read a variety of reviews before choosing. Remember that, as with clothes, diaper styles change and as new things come out people will get excited and give good reviews. It isn't until a product has been around for a while, and people have used it, that reviewers will be able to say how well it is made and how it will stand up to repeated washings. Some deal sites on the internet will offer cloth diapers from time to time as well. If you aren't in a hurry, good deals can be found. Also if a brand is coming out with a new product often the prices of their old products will drop. There is also the option of buying used diapers from sites on the internet, swap sites or second hand sales. You have to remember with used diapers that you might be getting something that has been used way more often than the seller claims and that certain rashes and yeast infections can be transmitted through diapers. Some people buy all their cloth diapers used and get some really good deals though.

If you are switching over from disposables to cloth there are a few different ways to go about it. The way to save the most money is to buy a complete stash all at once and to make the switch to 100% cloth. Sometimes coming up with the amount of money needed to do that all at once can be hard and people will make the switch gradually, buying a few cloth diapers here and there. Some people prefer to have all of one type, to keep things simple, some, like me, prefer a variety of different types and brands. My recommended way to make the switch is to buy a few different types of diapers, use them for a while (even using some disposables between washes if necessary) and then to buy some more of your favorites.

One option with an older baby is to do a diaper trial. Many cloth diaper stores will offer trials. You get to take home a number of different styles and brands, try them out, and decide which ones you like best before purchasing. These are a great way to see which brands fit your baby the best. Another good way to get an idea of what you would like, is to find a friend already using cloth (who has a varied stash) and to try on some of their diapers for fit. No two babies are shaped the same and different brands will fit some babies better than others.

The Bare Butt Basics part 3 How to get started with a newborn

When deciding to use real diapers instead of disposable ones there is a lot to consider. I know, before I took the leap into using cloth, that I felt overwhelmed by all the choices, vocabulary, recommendations, and styles. I knew when I was first pregnant I wanted to use cloth, but somehow in the confusion of a cerclage operation, bed rest, c-section, twins in the NICU, preemie twins at home, life as a new Mom, etc. I lost that goal. Disposables were easy, free (at first as I got so many as gifts and the NICU sent us home with a bunch) and quickly became what I knew how to use. Then I decided to switch, fell in love with cloth, and regretted not having used them right from the start. I think one of the reasons I want to write this blog is so that people who love the idea of using real diapers, but who feel daunted by it, have a source to go to to get some advice.

Are you pregnant and preparing to use cloth on your new little one?

If you are, then there are a few things to consider to help you to decide what to purchase. One of the things to look at is how big you expect your baby to be on arrival. If this is your first, you might have no idea, but if it is your second (or 19th) then you might have a better idea. The other thing you have to consider is how important it is to you to use cloth from day 1 or if you think you might use disposables for the first few weeks. Newborns are often tiny, and newborn diapers need to be tiny too. Newborns tend to grow very quickly and therefore outgrow their newborn diapers very quickly too. If you know you have bigger babies, and aren't disgusted by using disposables for a few weeks, then skipping newborn diapers and moving on to one sized diapers might be an option for you. If you have smallish babies (or are having multiples) or if using cloth from day one is important to you, then having a newborn stash is important. If I have a third child I plan to have my newborn diapers in the hospital with me, ready to use from day one.

The newborn diapering stage can be fairly short or can go on for a few months, depending on size and urine output. During this stage babies pee and poo often. You will need a minimum of 10 to 12 diapers a day. If you are planning to wash ever 2nd day, then you need at least 20 -24 diapers. I find that on the day I wash I never get things straight from the washer, into the dryer and folded/stuffed and put away in a few hours, it takes me all day. So if you are like me, then you probably need a 3rd days worth of diapers (so 30 -36) in order to have enough to wash every 2nd day and have enough for the day you are washing. Some people make due with way less, but it takes more effort.

For the newborn stage, because it is so short, often people go with the cheapest option of prefolds and covers. Preemie or newborn sized prefolds, snappied on to the baby (to prevent newborn poo from escaping out around their skinny legs), with a xs or s cover is a great solution that wont break the bank. Small prefolds can later be pad folded and laid in a cover once they are too small to snappi, or used as a booster or doubler with other diapers when the baby gets bigger, so they may get a lot of use.

If your bank account can afford it (or if you are asking for diapers as shower gifts) it is always nice to have some other options to use. Many of the major cloth diaper companies are making small size or mini sized diapers designed for preemies or the newborn stage. Most of these are "all in one" style diapers. Some even come with a snap in front designed to give room for the belly button cord. Another option would be to get some small sized fitteds to use under covers.

If you have large babies, you might decide to skip newborn size diapers altogether and just purchase one sized diapers which start fitting around 8 pounds to 10 pounds. These diapers are designed to also fit up to around 35 pounds. Even on their smallest settings though, many one sized diapers look huge on small babies. If you have a set of newborn diapers you can put off using any one sized diapers until they fit really well, usually around 12-15 pounds. If you decide to go right to one sized diapers (therefore probably never needing to buy another set), you will save money but will have to put up with a few weeks to a few months of your diapers being a bit too big. If you are opting to go straight to one size diapers, it pays to look around for brands that will fit sooner, as not all one sized diapers are sized the same way.

Many times sized diapers are cheaper to buy than one sized ones. You may decide to use sized diapers, replacing your smaller sized ones as your baby outgrows them. If you are unsure what type of diaper you will like the best (pockets, prefolds, fitteds, etc...) sometimes buying a stash of diapers including many different types in the smaller sizes will allow you to experiment. Once you know what you like the best you can replace them, as your baby grows, with that type.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A matter of perspective.

I have had many people, when they find out I use cloth diapers, marvel at the fact that I manage to find time to do so with TWINS. Although married to a twin, my Grandmother never had twins, she did have 5 boys though and the first 4 of them came one after another. She changed her fair share of diapers I am sure. Around the time I was feeling disgusted by the garbage leaving my house every 2 weeks and contemplating switching to cloth, I decided to ask an expert about it. Her reply, when I asked her if cloth diapers was hard, was "well I had a washing machine, I didn't have to wash them myself."

Friday, December 3, 2010

Bare Butt Basics part 2 Types of diapers

There are many different types of diapers, and some that market themselves as being multiple types. I will attempt to break down the different types into a few categories.

FLATS: Flats are the simplest type of diaper. They are basically a flat sheet of fabric which is folded to create layers where absorbency is needed. They can either be folded and then pinned or snappied(more on that later) to the baby before putting a cover on, or folded to create a pad like shape and placed in a cover before being put on the baby. You can buy material specifically designed as flats (usually 30 inches by 30 or 27 by 27 roughly) often made of birdseye cotton but sometimes made of other natural fabrics. Flats can also be made out of recycled fabric from things like receiving blankets or even old cotton T shirts. If they are pad folded, any size or type of absorbant material will do the trick. Some people swear by flats as they are the easiest type of diapers to wash and dry being only one layer. Also if you are good at folding, the same diaper can fit from the newborn stage up until diapers are no longer needed. With flats a cover is needed (either PUL, wool or fleece) overtop. Sometimes a second flat is folded, inside one that is pinned into place, to increase absorbency in the wet zone. Flats can be intimidating to use and as they require lots of folding aren't always the quickest to put on.

PREFOLDS: Prefolds are one of the cheapest and simplest styles of diapers. Prefolds are similar to flats but aren't only one layer. A number of layers of fabric (usually cotton) are sew together. Usually prefolds are in 3 sections with the middle one (the wet zone) being a number of layers thicker than the other two sections. The number of layers in each section is usually indicated when you purchase them and may be something like 4-8-4 or 3-6-3. Prefolds come in a number of different sizes from Preemie to Toddler or Premium sizes. Like flats, they can be folded around the baby and snappied or pinned into place before putting on a cover. They can also be pad folded and placed in the cover before putting the cover on the baby. Like flats, prefolds are simple to wash, but take a little bit longer to dry. They are still pretty quick to dry though compared to some of the other types of diapers. In my opinion, even if prefolds aren't your main type of diaper, they are useful to have. I use mine on days I am at home and can change my babies often. They also work great as changing pads or burp cloths and can easily be repurposed once they are no longer needed, as cleaning cloths. Prefolds also last and last and will often be passed down to multiple babies. There are a number of companies who sell prefold packages with a few covers, a snappi and at least a days worth of prefolds. These are usually a good deal and a cheap way to get started with cloth diapers. Like flats, prefolds need a cover to go over them. You don't have to change the cover every time you have a dirty diaper though. Often the prefold can be removed and replaced and the same cover can be used. Some people will rotate covers, rinsing them or wiping them down and hanging them to air out between changes, only putting them in the wash when they get soiled or start to smell.

FITTED DIAPERS: Like prefolds and flats, fitted diapers are more often than not made of natural fabrics, although some brands contain a hidden microfibre layer. Fitteds contain multiple layers of fabric, sewn in the shape of a diaper. They often contain more layers in the wet zone. Some come with velcro or snap closures. There are many different brands and styles of fitteds and some are more thirsty than others. Like prefolds and flats, fitteds require a cover to go over top of them. First you put the fitted diaper on the baby, then you put on the cover. Fitted diapers require no folding and can fasten just as easily as a disposable. Some fitteds are very thick and therefore require a bit more washing and rinsing to get clean and take a lot longer to dry. Many brands of fitteds will come with extra inserts (absorbant pads of material) that are designed to be stuffed into a pocket opening, snapped in or placed inside the diaper depending on the brand. Many people who use wool covers choose to use fitteds underneath as they are often more absorbant than prefolds and flats. Many people swear by fitteds and wool as a night time solution. Some companies make one size fitteds, where the diaper is adjustable in fit and grows with your baby. Some make sized ones, where the diaper needs to be replaced with a larger size once it is outgrown.

ALL IN ONE: The name kind of says it all with these diapers. All in one diapers are the most like disposables to use, except instead of a sticky tab they close with velcro or snaps. Basically put the diaper on, take it off and wash it, put it back on. All in ones have the absorbant layer and the waterproof outer layer attached and some have a stay dry layer attached on the inside. Many people call these "daddy diapers" or daycare diapers" and keep a set of them just for others to use. These diapers tend to be the most expensive and are also often the most difficult to get throughly clean in the wash. They also take the longest to dry. All in one diapers, like fitteds, come in one sized or sized styles. The xs and s all in one diapers, from a number of different companies, are often perfect for the newborn stage where less layers of absorbency are needed, therefore making them easier to get throughly clean. If you want a diaper as easy to put on as a disposable, these could be the ones for you. Some all in one diapers have an added pocket which can be stuffed with an extra insert when more absorbency is needed.

ALL IN TWO: All in two diapers are similar in a way to using prefolds pad folded and a cover. They come in 2 parts. There is an absorbant part (an insert) and a cover. Some of the covers have snaps to attach the absorbant layer too, or pieces you flip up and slide the absorbant layer under, others you just lay the insert into the shell before putting it on the baby. Recently more companies have been designing and marketing all in two diapers. You can often buy them in sets with a cover and 2 or 3 inserts. Or even in packs with a few covers and enough inserts to last a full day or more. Many of the all in two diapers are marketed as "systems" and the cover and absorbant insert are given fancy names. Often the covers that are sold of part of an all in 2 diaper also work well with cheaper inserts like prefolds or flats. Systems also don't necessarily need to be used together as often one absorbant insert will also fit in a cover from another brand. The nice thing with all in 2 systems is you usually dont need to fold the inserts. You grab a cover, grab the insert place them together and put them on your baby. Often the inserts come with different layers, with a stay dry layer on top next to the babies skin and even a waterproof layer on the back to protect the cover. One of the problems with all in two systems is that if the first time you use an insert, the baby poops and the mess gets on the inside of the cover, you have to put the whole thing into the laundry. Then you are left with a couple of extra inserts that are unavailable to use until the wash is done, unless you have another clean cover.

HYBRID DIAPERS: Many all in two systems are also marketed as hybrid systems. They come with a reusable insert that is made of cloth and washable, but they also come with disposable absorbant inserts that can be thrown away. Some are even designed to be cut open and flushed or composted in places where that is allowed. The problem with these hybrid diapers is that the inserts available cost way more than a disposable diaper does, sometimes more than double. It is good that people using them are throwing away a smaller amount of waste each time, but in my opinion they aren't as good as cloth. Some people who use cloth at home, use them when out of the house or travelling where laundry isn't available. Like the insert with all in 2 diapers, there is no need to always use the same brand of disposable insert with the same brand of cover.

POCKET DIAPERS: One of the most popular style of cloth diapers are called pocket diapers. In pocket diapers the waterproof outer layer is attached to an usually an inner layer (usually microfleece or microsuede) forming a pocket. Some diapers that are marketed as all in 2 or hybrid diapers also have a pocket and are marketed as both an all in 2 or a pocket diaper. Some all in one and fitted diapers, while having some absorbant layers sewn into them, also include pockets so additional inserts can be added. Many pocket diapers come with the pocket shell and with one or two inserts used to stuff the shell. Often there will be an infant sized insert which is smaller and thinner (less bulky on a newborn) and a larger insert to be used as the baby gets bigger. Later the infant insert can be used along with the larger insert as to provide extra absorbency (often then called a doubler or a booster). Pocket diapers need to be stuffed before using. This is a pretty quick thing to do, and often I will do it in the evenings as I sit and relax watching a little television. You can stuff pockets as you use them, but I prefer to have them stuffed and ready to go as needed. Sometimes, when short on time, stuffing can be a bit of a pain. This is where an all in 2 system has the advantage, as there is no need to pre stuff. Once pocket diapers are stuffed, they are as easy to use as an all in one diaper, going on like a disposable and fastening with either snaps or velcro (also referred to as aplix). Once used, the inserts are pulled out of the pocket opening and are washed separately from the pocket shell. This allows the inserts to get throughly clean and makes for a quicker drying time. Like most of the other types of diapers, pocket diapers come as sized diapers (with some brands only having 2 sizes and some having 4 or 5 sizes) or one sized diapers. One sized diapers are often adjusted with rows of snaps in the front allowing them to have a higher or shorter rise or with elastic drawstrings on the legs and waist. Many pocket diapers fit a little differently from each other and often one brand will fit a baby better than another. Like women wearing jeans, just because it is technically the right size, it might not be the perfect fit. Sometimes babies will go through periods where one brand fits better than another, then as they change shape, another brand will fit perfectly. This is one of the reasons I prefer some variety in my cloth diaper stash.

a conversation about cloth

I always find it interesting how conversations about cloth diapers happen. More often than not I have conversations with people I already know who either have babies or are expecting. They either want to know more about cloth diapers because they are thinking of using them, or they want to question my decision either out of interest or because they think it is weird. Occasionally something will happen and I have a conversation with some random person.

One conversation about cloth I remember clearly happened a few months ago at the post office. I had taken my twins in to pick up a package of fluffy mail. As I was handed my package I turned to my babies and said something along the lines of "your new diapers are here!" The older man in line behind me looked at the size of the package, looked at my twins and laughed saying "those wont last you very long".

I quickly explained that yes in fact they would, as they were cloth diapers and would last until potty training. I expected the conversation to end there, but he continued to ask questions and appeared interested. This conversation ended with me opening up my parcel and showing him what some "modern cloth" looked like. He thought they were great, looked them over and asked me some more questions. It turned out his daughter was pregnant and, after our conversation, he was going to tell her about cloth diapers.

Of course this attracted the interest of the post office worker and she joined into our chat, as well as a young woman carrying a baby who came into the post office part way through. The post office worker had a sister with a baby and the one carrying her baby got interested enough to ask for the website address for the site I ordered from.

I have no idea if any of these 3 people (or their families) ever gave another thought about cloth diapers let alone chose to use them, but in about 10 minutes I had introduced 3 new people to cloth and they had all thought they were really cool. I love having these types of conversations. I know that not everyone who is planning to diaper a baby who is introduced to modern cloth will make that choice, but hopefully at least a few might.

The Bare Butt Basics part 1

Although cloth diapers haven't become nearly as popular as I hope they eventually will become, they are on an upswing. Many many people have been making the switch over to cloth and many companies have been trying to cash in on this upswing. There are literally hundreds of different brands out there, all claiming to have found the miracle solution to keeping urine absorbed and poop contained. For someone just starting out in cloth, this glut of choices can be overwhelming. For every positive review of a brand, you can usually find someone who says it wasn't their favorite. Some cloth diaper users pick one brand and stick with that, others like variety and try a little from different brands. Some people use only one type of diaper, others use different styles for different occasions. Even within families there are often differences of opinion on which diapers are the best.

I have a dozen or so different brands in my stash and a number of different styles of diapers. For me having variety keeps me happy. Out of my diapers I do have some favorites, but often what I like the best, changes. I enjoy trying out new things and cloth diapers have become a bit of a hobby. I can honestly say though that every diaper in my stash has been used at least once in the last week. Even my least favorite diapers get used from time to time. Some work better than others, but in the end they all do their job.

There are basically 2 (or 3) parts to every diaper, no matter what brand or style. I say "or 3", because the 3rd part is really a choice and isn't used all the time.

First, and most importantly, there is something that absorbs liquid. Many materials are used for this purpose, including natural fibres and synthetic ones. The amount of liquid the material holds (often referred to as how thirsty it is) differs with different fabrics. Cotton is the fabric many of our grandparents used, and it still works wonderfully. Bamboo and hemp have become popular recently too for those who like a natural fabric and both are more absorbant than cotton. Opinions differ about which is more thirsty and which causes less harm to the environment to produce. Some countries don't allow hemp due to the plant resembling another type of plant so closely, so some companies don't use it. Microfibre inserts are also very popular, especially because they are so fast to absorb liquid, which is a plus in preventing leaks. Once again, every cloth diaper user will tell you what their favorite type of absorbing material is, and there will be someone who loves every type for different reasons. Often different brands will use a combination of different materials in their absorbant layers. The amount of absorbant material needed in a diaper changes depending on the age and the peeing habits of the baby and on how long the diaper will be left on. There are products that have been designed to add extra absorbency to diapers as needed. It is always a balancing act to find the right amount of absorbant material needed to do the job, while keeping the diaper from becoming too huge (or fluffy as many cloth users will call it).

The 2nd important part is something to create a barrier between the absorbant material and the outside world (clothes, laps, bedding, car seats, the floor etc.). This is where cloth diapers have come a long way. I remember seeing in a museum a leather thong type device and being told it was a diaper. Humans, since deciding that allowing babies to pee and poop wherever they wanted was kind of messy, have created devices to keep their babies waste contained. This leather device probably worked wonderfully to keep some type of absorbant material in place. Covered with animal fats, it would have been pretty waterproof and flexible. Our grandparents (or maybe great grandparents, parents or yourself depending on who is reading this) used "plastic pants" over cotton diapers for their kids, which were probably easier to keep clean than a leather thong, but were not very breathable and probably not the most comfortable. The majority of diapers today are made of a fabric (often called PUL) which looks like a cloth fabric coated on one side with a soft, flexible, waterproof material. This barrier layer comes in many different colors and prints. Another option (though not waterproof, only water resistant) is to use wool or fleece covers. Wool covers are usually either knitted or sewn from wool interlock fabric. Some companies specialize in felting wool sweaters and sewing the recycled wool into covers. These can be the size of the diaper, called soakers, slightly longer, called shorties, or in the style of pants, called longies. Wool requires extra care, but is a natural barrier that many cloth diaper users prefer. Fleece (the same fabric used in polar fleece jackets) is also water resistant and makes a nice, soft, breathable and easily washable cover. Occasionally babies are allowed to go "coverless" which means they only wear the absorbant layer. This allows more air to get to the skin. It is necessary to keep a close eye on their butts though and to change them quickly as soon as the absorbant material becomes damp.

The third part of a diaper is a liner that goes between the absorbant material and the babies skin. This is not always needed as often the absorbant material is safe and comfortable to have next to the skin. If using natural fibres, such as cotton,hemp or bamboo many people choose to skip a liner. If using microfibre a liner is needed as microfibre next to the skin is too drying and will suck the moisture from your babies skin, creating a chapped bum. There are a number of different types of liners. Some people use a disposable liner (often flushable) in their diapers. They find this helps them to clean up poop more easily. Many diapers come with built in liners, sewn on top of the absorbant layer, or creating a pocket with the outside barrier layer to be stuffed with absorbant material. There are also cloth liners on the market which are designed to be placed inside the diaper before it is fastened on. Many liners are made of microfleece or microsuede (not microfibre or a polar fleece) This thin fabric is designed to wick moisture away from the skin onto the absorbent layer, giving babies a stay dry feeling.

These 3 parts of diapers, made of so many different materials, are combined to create a diaper that absorbs liquids, and keeps solids contained. How they are put together depends on the type of diaper. The part 2 of this post I will attempt to explain some of the different combinations on the market.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

10 reasons why my kids have cloth on their butts

1. Less goes to the dump. There is way less garbage to haul out to the end of the driveway on garbage day every two weeks. The amount of waste twins produce when using disposable diapers is disgusting. We used enough diapers to fill 2 garbage bags full at the end of 2 weeks. Using diapers, no matter what kind, affects the environment. We don't live in a time or a climate where allowing my kids to run around naked all the time and to poop in the grass is really an option, so we have to use diapers. Cloth diapers are made of various fabrics, all of them have their good and bad points: cotton is hard to produce, PUL and microfibre are synthetic, hemp isn't allowed in some countries, wool can cause allergies. There is really no perfect fabric. My cloth diapers all fit in one garbage bag. So over the 2 years+ and possibly more if we have another child, I will have one garbage bag of waste. Instead of one a week. Also many of the diapers are reusable. There is a decent market for 2nd hand diapers or they can be repurposed into cleaning cloths etc. Cloth diapers use water to wash. I have heard people use this as an argument to use disposables. What they are forgetting is that water is used to make paper as well, which disposables are made of. I have read studies that showed that the amount of water used to make new disposables is similar to the amount of water used to wash cloth diapers. Most brands of disposables use bleach and chemicals to make the paper white, which makes the water unusable afterwards. There are better brands of disposables available, but they cost a lot more. Most people use as little chemicals to wash their diapers as possible (I do use Tide though which isn't the best for the environment, but kicks butt for washing diapers) and the water from their wash goes into a septic system or a sewage system and hopefully eventually back into the water cycle.

2. The cuteness factor. Cloth diapers come in so many cute colors, patterns and styles. I love looking at them on my kids. Prefolds look so cute and "old fashioned", covers can be PUL or even knit out of wool, pockets come in minky fabrics which makes their bums feel like hugging stuffed animals. I can plan what diapers to wear depending on their outfits (or what outfits to pick out depending on what diapers are clean). Trim velcro pockets (like the Bumgeniius 3.0) under pants, Fluffy Minky Blueberry diapers under dresses, ones with strong baby proof snaps when just going with a diaper and a T shirt. Matching babylegs to coordinate with their diaper or shirt.

3. Fluffy mail. It is a little like Christmas morning when a package arrives at the post office. I get to enjoy checking out the cute new diaper and then the twins love playing with them, rubbing the soft fabrics on their cheeks and trying them on as hats. I love finding sales online, or entering contests for free diapers. Although I have many diapers that work wonderfully already, I love trying out something new, to see how it works.

4. The cost factor. Disposable diapers are expensive. Most cost between 15 to 35 cents each. Cloth diapers cost from a few dollars up to 30+ depending on the style. Most pocket/AIO diapers (the easiest and most like disposables to use) are around the 25 dollar mark (or less). You could use about 100 disposables for the cost of 1 diaper. That means if you use a diaper 100 times it has payed for itself and after that it is being used for free. Even if you only used cloth diapers on weekends for 1 year, that is 100 days and your diaper has been payed for. I use cloth full time, but for those parents who feel they are too busy to make the commitment to full time, even just using them at home during the day, or on weekends, evenings and holidays will still result in a cost savings. Because cloth diapers mean we no longer have to use disposables I feel like I can use the money we would have spent on disposables to buy cute cloth. We aren't saving very much money using cloth, but we could have. It is possible to diaper a baby for very little money if needed. The cheapest option is to use prefolds (or flats) in a cover. I recommend to people using this option to have at least 4 covers (running from about $8 to $20 each), but if needed you could do it with 2. One to wear, one to wash out and hang to dry between changes. Covers can also be knitted out of wool (naturally water repellent) or sewn out of recycled wool sweaters. Flats can be made out of things such as receiving blankets (often 25 cents each second hand) or old cotton T shirts. Prefolds are cheap to buy as well and often come in packages with a few covers and 18 to 24 prefolds. For some cloth is not an option as they don't have a washing machine (or even running water to hand wash with) at their disposable, but for those that do, and who really need to save money cloth is a great way to go.

5. Makes a repetitive job more fun. I have 2 babies in diapers full time. I also have a third to change when I am looking after her during the week. I change a lot of diapers. I try to make diaper changing time a time to spend some one on one time with each of them. I play little games with them and we "chat". But, changing diapers is boring. Especially changing disposable diapers. Using cloth allows me to have some fun. I have different options. Every change I get to decide what I would like to put on next (soon I can see I won't be the one deciding as I am sure they will have opinions too). I can challenge myself to do a new fold or to use a snappi. I can make laundry easier on myself by only using prefolds for the day (don't need to stuff them to put away once they are clean again, just fold in thirds and put in their drawer). I can use a rainbow of pocket diapers. I can smile at the cute prints. I can hug my babies close and enjoy the softness of their Minky diapers. I can take a very boring job and make it fun. I can look forward to the next diaper change.

6. My babies bums are very happy to be in cloth. Disposable diapers may or may not (as always there are conflicting opinions) be bad for your babies bum. For example some studies show that disposable diapers can lead to infertility, but then a counter study refutes that (who is paying for the studies?) Diapers contain chemical gels designed to make the diaper basically leak proof. I have seen babies with huge puffy disposables on, and you know that they have peed 3 or 4 times in their diapers, and still there are no leaks. Disposables cost money, so to save money we are all tempted to leave babies sitting in them "until we get our monies worth". Would you like to sit in your own urine? With cloth there is no temptation to leave them on. Once I know there is pee in there, even if only slightly damp, I can change them. No need to leave them sitting in their own waste, as it doesn't cost me anything extra to throw on a clean one. That being said, there are times you want a bullet proof diaper so you don't have to change as often. I have diapers that will make it through a 12 hour night (I don't like babies sitting in pee, but am not crazy enough to wake them up to change them if they are happily sleeping) I have diapers that I use when out of the house or going for a ride in the car, ones I know will last just as well as a disposable. Cloth diapers have come a long way and with fabrics like microfibre, hemp and bamboo they are way more absorbant than the ones our grandparents used. I still love to use a cotton prefold, that needs to be changed more often, during the day at home, but I have the option to use a more thirsty diaper, with stay dry fabric on the inside when I need to. My kids had horrible rashes from Pampers and were often red enough to need cream when using other brands. In cloth we have occasionally had a red bum (after trying a new diaper laundry soap and when they have been sick and having diarrhea) , but it has been rare and was easily fixed. Usually if I see a little pinkness I make an effort to change their diapers more frequently and in a few hours it is totally gone.

7. The grossness factor. Poop is yucky! I am not horrified by poop, but I don't think even those seasoned nurses (hats off to them) ever truly get over the grossness factor of feces. Poop that is contained in a diaper is way less gross than poop that is spilling out the back, legs, front etc. of a diaper or being smeared around. One of the things I love about cloth is the huge reduction of escaping feces we have had since we switched. I have had people tell me that they could never switch to cloth, because they couldn't deal with the poop. Guess what? You have kids, you will be dealing with poop. No ifs ands or buts about it. They are little poop machines. It will come out with all sorts of colors. textures and smells. Read the packaging on a disposable diaper box and you will see that you are supposed to "empty soil into the toilet". Yep that means you are supposed to dump/scrape the poop into the toilet and flush it away. Are you doing that? Do you know anyone using disposables who does that? The reason we are supposed to do that is because putting human waste into a landfill is a biohazard. Toilets go to septic systems or sewage systems and the poop is (hopefully) treated in such a way that it doesn't harm the environment or other humans. When you have a breast fed newborn and are using cloth, you have to do nothing. The poop is basically digested milk, and is water soluble. You throw your dirty diapers in the washing machine, do a cold rinse, and the poop is gone down the drain into the sewage, then you wash on hot to clean the diapers. Once they are getting formula or solids, the poop changes and needs to be dealt with. There are all kinds of methods for dealing with this including scraping, dunking, using liners etc. I have found the easiest was to buy a diaper sprayer. This is a simple gadget hooked into the water line on the toilet that allows you to spray the diapers off into the toilet bowl. It took my husband about 10 minutes to hook it up, and I am sure I could have done it myself. If the poop is solid, a shake over the toilet and it is gone, if it isn't, I use the sprayer (aiming carefully) and blast the diaper clean. This means THERE IS NO POOP SITTING AROUND waiting for garbage day to be disposed of. I find this to be much more hygienic. Poop is rinsed away immediately and wet diapers are washed ever 2nd day, so there is no storing of gross diapers and way less smell.

8. The laziness factor. I am lazy. If I can put off doing something unpleasant to another day I am going to do so. Doing diaper laundry forces me to have a laundry routine. I need to keep on top of washing clothes, to promptly move things from the washer to the dryer, to fold stuff and (sometimes) put it away. I have to stay on top of diaper laundry, if there are no clean diapers, well... that just can't happen, so I have to keep the laundry line moving along. I am lucky I get to stay at home with the kids, but I rarely get a chance to do much laundry through the day (my machines aren't on the same floor, so I hate to leave them alone for the time it takes to switch a load over). I have a routine. I put on a load in the morning before my husband leaves for work. If everyone naps at the same time, I continue doing laundry then (switch to dryer, bring a load up to fold etc.) and then once the babies are in bed for the night I finish up my loads from the day or do another load. I use weekends, when my husband is home or days Grammy comes to visit and I have someone to keep an eye on things, as catch up times and try to do a few extra loads. We have lots of laundry to do, cloth diapers or not, an extra load every 2nd day for diapers really doesn't make a huge difference, BUT it does make me keep on top of laundry.

9. My clothes are cleaner. I had never given too much thought about how I washed my families clothes. I used what ever detergent was on hand. Usually a "free and pure" brand or one that was on super sale. I occasionally bleached whites. Washed mostly with cold water, except for sheets and towels which I would do on hot if I remembered to adjust the machine. I would occasionally rub on a little stain remover. Learning how to wash cloth diapers properly (for my water type, temperature, and machine) also taught me how to get clothes clean. If I have something that is still stained after washing, I will throw it back in with a load of diapers and usually it will come out stain free.

10. A sense of pride. I feel good about using cloth diapers. I made the decision for my family to switch to cloth and we have stuck with it. I have used them when travelling, I have used them during times when the babies were sick and I had 15 poopy diapers to spray off in one day. I love showing off their cute fluffy bums. I love chatting to people (anyone who cares to listen) about my diapers. I get to be a consumer and buy cute stuff, all the while doing something that is better for the environment and saving us (a little) money. I don't judge people who choose to use disposables, but I do try to introduce people to "modern cloth". If even one person decides to give it a try, that is a good thing.

On disposable dishes...or diapers.

Have any of you ever felt guilty using paper or plastic plates, plastic utensils, styrofoam cups and paper napkins? I always cringe a little when I am at a fast food restaurant and after eating I go and dump so much stuff into the waste containers. I am very happy that many places have implemented recycling and green bins, it makes throwing away all that stuff a little easier on my conscience. I have also eaten off of these disposable dishes at people's houses when they are having large gatherings. I even admit to buying some to use when I had 30 people coming to the twins birthday party. I try, if only having a smallish gathering, to use my real dishes. I use real dishes pretty much ever day of my life, even when I am working.

Now imagine someone telling you that they chose not to use real dishes. They preferred the ease of disposable ones. Yes it costs more money, but to them it is worth it. Yes we really have no idea what chemicals the plastics and papers they are made of contain. Yes they go into the landfill and take ages to break down. Yes there are a few greener options, some of these disposable dishes are even compostable. They may even argue that they are saving water by not having to wash dishes, forgetting that water is used in the fabricating process. They may tell you that they don't wash their dishes as they don't want wear and tear on their kitchen sink or their dishwasher. They may claim that it is a choice they made because they felt it was better for their family. They may insist that they are better parents because instead of spending time washing dishes, they are spending time with their kids. They may tell you that they made this choice because they get grossed out by leftover food and scraping that food and rinsing it off is just not something they want to deal with. They may tell you that they don't like the smell of food traces left to sit on real dishes, with disposable ones it is put in the garbage immediately, out of sight and out of mind. They might come up with all sorts of excuses to justify their choice. They also might tell you that they are too poor to afford a kitchen to wash their dishes in or to store them when when not in use. They might explain how they have to reuse their disposable dishes, allowing the less dirty ones to dry out before reusing them. They might have some good excuses.

There are times and places to use disposable dishes, but I am sure the majority of us choose not to use them on a regular basis. They are easier for sure, but using real dishes has been ingrained in us. I am sure some of my friends reading this have been tempted to use disposable dishes full time, especially in our lazy university days. I even was. Hopefully none of you have ever done so for very long. Our Grandparents used real dishes, our parents did too and hopefully our kids will continue on that tradition. I am sure there are disposable dish companies who hoped, back in the day they were invented, that they would catch on and that our lovely silver wear and china would become obsolete. Fortunately their marketing wasn't good enough, and it hasn't.

Sadly, with diapers, the marketing worked.


I have kept a blog about my family for the past few years, but because it contains lots of personal information in it, I didn't want to make it public. I chose to start this blog because I had some things to say, that I wanted to be able to share with people who I don't necessarily know.

Who am I?

I am in my mid thirties and am currently a SAHM with 17 month old boy/girl twins. I have worked for the past decade as a Junior High teacher, and am finding it quite a change to go from spending my days with 30 13 year olds to 3 one year olds. Nope not triplets. I only have twins, but I also look after a little girl who is the same age 3 days a week.

I struggled to have kids, and feel incredibly blessed that I have my two. It was a rocky road to get them safely home. I am relishing the time I get to spend with them. I feel that children are a true blessing and am fortunate that I have them in my life. I would welcome another, but am not counting on that to happen any time soon.

I am passionate about cloth diapering and would love to encourage other people to give it a try. This blog will mainly focus on that part of my life, with some sidetracks and wanderings here and there. There is lots going on with all parts of my family, but this blog will mostly focus on the butt of it.

I already posted a few Cloth diaper posts on my other blog, but will copy and post them here.

Welcome to anyone who takes the time to read this. If you are a cloth diapering pro or a total newbie, I hope you find something of interest here.