Friday, January 28, 2011

Bare Butt Basics: Finding a wash routine

Washing cloth diapers really isn't that time consuming (an extra load to do every 2nd or 3rd day if diapering one baby), but it can take some trial and error to get a routine that works for your situation.
One important thing to do when starting to use cloth is to get rid of your fabric softener. Fabric softener leaves waxes and perfumes on the fabric that can lead to buildup, rashes and repelling. Even fabric softener residue left in your dryer can cause issues, so it is better to eliminate it from your household altogether. Some people swear by adding a little vinegar to the rinse cycle to soften things up. Also dryer balls (wool ones are popular) are helpful to soften up your fabrics as well.
The standard wash cycle recommended by a large number of diaper manufacturers is to do a cold rinse (some say warm works better as long as it is below body temperature, if it is too hot it can set the stains) followed by a hot wash and rinse with detergent, followed by a 2nd rinse. The first rinse washes away any urine and feces attached to the diapers, the hot wash gets them clean, and the final rinse gets rid of any soap residue on your diapers.
Not all machines are the same, and depending on the make you have you may find you need to vary the routine a little bit, or add in an extra step. When deciding what cycles to set your machine on remember the more water the better, the more agitation the better and to avoid any super hot sterilizing settings that are hard on PUL covers or elastics.
Deciding what detergent to use can be like a chemistry experiment. If your machine is HE or top loading plays a role as well as if your water is hard or soft. HE machines use way less water, which means you need less detergent. Soft water means detergents function almost too well, and you have to be careful about buildup. Often HE machines with soft water less is more when it comes to detergent and extra rinses will be needed. If you have hard water you will need more detergent and possibly a stronger detergent to get the job done. There are many "natural" detergents on the market, some sold at inflated prices as they are supposed to be the magic cure for smelly diapers. Many of the more common brands of detergents we are all familiar with in the supermarket will work just as well. It is really a process of trial and error to find what works for your situation. When you find a detergent you like, that isn't giving your baby rashes, that is getting out stains, keeping the diaper stinkies away, and rinsing away clean so as not to cause repelling, stick with it. If you use a detergent for a while and start having issues, change it up and experiment.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

These are a few of my favorite things...

I have been careful not to talk too much about brands, and more about types of diapers on this blog because brands are always changing and coming out with new styles and designs. I do want to talk about a few specific things on here that have become some of my favorite things to do with cloth diapers.

Bumgenius diaper sprayer: I think having a diaper sprayer is a must have for anyone wanting to cloth diaper. In the beginning, if your baby is only getting breast milk, many people don't bother rinsing off the poop and just wash it out in the washer. Once you start transitioning to solids though, a diaper sprayer is invaluable. The Bumgenius brand one I purchased has worked great for me and I would recommend it.

AMP 3 layer hemp inserts/flats: These flats are wonderful used folded in half, placed in a cover. They are super thirsty and I don't think I have ever had a pee leak with one of these in a well fitting cover. They are a bit big and bulky on a smaller baby, but on my 23 and 24 pound twins they soak up an amazing amount of pee. They take at least 10 washes to get fully prepped, but the more they are used and washed the softer they seem to get and the better they work. Made in Canada:)

Flip one sized covers: I love the colors these come in. So far they only come in solid colors, but they are colors that work well with a lot of my kids clothes. These are one sized covers, so they grow with the baby. For fit, on my two, there are no covers that have consistently fit as well. I have tall and skinny babies, but I have heard from a number of people with chubbier little ones, that these fit their babies well too. I like the flip function of these covers, on both ends there is a small flap where you can slide an insert, a pad folded flat or prefold under. I find this useful when trying to snap these on a squirmy toddler, as it keeps the filling from falling out.

Snappis: When using a snapless fitted, prefolds or flats a snappi is very useful for fastening. Once you get the hang of using one (great videos are available online) it is super easy. No need to worry about sticking pins into your baby.

Bumgenius pocket diapers: I have tried many different brands of pocket diapers, but Bumgenius wins for function. If I am in a situation where I want to make sure the twins will be leak free, or I know finding a place to change them will be an issue. I will reach for one of these diapers. These are my number one choice for out and about. I also find they work well for my twins, triple stuffed for over night.

Minky fabric: Some pocket diapers or covers are available in minky fabric. I have a number of Blueberry brand minky pocket diapers. I love the feel of these diapers. Minky is too pretty and soft to be covered up with pants, so these are perfect diapers to wear in warm weather when all you need is a T shirt and a diaper. I also love them for under dresses.

Baby legs: These are available in a number of different brands, and countless colors and patterns. I find they are the perfect thing to match with a super cute diaper around the house. I am lazy and it is so much quicker to change a diaper without having to take off and put back on pants. I also love baby legs to wear under pants in the cold weather to bridge the gap between pants and socks and to provide a little extra warmth. They also work well as tights under dresses. For babies learning to crawl, these provide a nice knee pad. I have been told these are great to use during potty training too, when it is too cold to run around totally nude.

Cute patterns: One of the best things about cloth diapers is how cute they are. I love the cute patterns I have on some of my diapers. Rumparooz brand diapers have some of the cutest prints around. Some wool covers are knitted with wonderful colors and patterns as well. Having a print that makes you smile during a diaper change is worth a lot!

What are some of your favorite things to do with cloth diapers?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Stash shots

I use many different types of diapers, but nothing looks quite as pretty as a whole stack (or laundry hamper) full off stuffed and ready to go pocket diapers.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Bare Butt Basics: wiping the butt.

When using cloth diapers, it makes sense to also consider using cloth wipes. Wether you use them all the time, some of the time or never is really your choice. There are a few good reasons to use cloth wipes though.

#1 You only need one pail/wet bag. If you are using disposable wipes you need to keep a garbage pail as well as a diaper pail/bag in the area that you change your baby. With cloth wipes, you can avoid having 2 pails and save a lot of space.

#2 You know what is on them. I love how disposable wipes will wipe down glass leaving a streak free shine. I use them to clean my computer screen, my iphone and a few other similar items around the house. Whatever is on disposable wipes that makes them useful for cleaning electronics, is not necessarily something that is good for your babies skin (read the ingredients list). There are a number of sprays or wipe solutions on the market you can use with cloth wipes and many many homemade recipes. Often simple water works just as well. It is nice to know what is being used to wipe down your babies genitals a number of times a day.

#3 Cloth wipes are softer. There are many many different brands of cloth wipes available to buy. Sometimes the cheapest option is to buy a bulk size pack of baby washcloths or even adult facecloths. There are organic wipes, minky velour wipes and many many other types. I will often use one type to do the wash down and then soft fluffy one to pat the area dry.

#4 Cloth wipes get the job done more efficently. I rarely use more than 2 wipes to clean a poopy butt when using cloth. When using disposables it feels like I have to use half a dozen or more to get everything cleaned up. Sometimes even after mopping away with disposable wipes I can still smell poop on the skin. Cloth wipes work better for me, and get everything squeeky clean.

#5 Your hands stay cleaner. I have often ended up with a smear of poop on my hand when using disposable wipes. they are thin and flimsy and bunch up as you are tackling the job. It is very rare that I touch poop when using a cloth wipe. They are thicker, easier to hold on and just seem to get rid of the poop more quickly with less smearing.

#6 They cost less. Like cloth diapers, you buy them once, reuse, wash, reuse and never need to shell out cash to buy them again. If you make your own, or repurpose facecloths you already own as wipes, they are super cheap.

#7 There is less to throw away. If you look at the size of a block of disposable wipes, and think how many blocks that size you will use over 2 or more years of diapering it makes for quite a pile of waste.

Now, there are times that a disposable comes in handy. I have a pack of disposables I keep under the seat of the car and a pack I keep in the diaper bag for emergencies. I use dry cloth wipes at home, and wet them each time I do a change. If I remember to pre wet and pack a small container of cloth wipes before leaving the house that is great, but often I forget and just use disposable wipes when on the road. It is annoying though, as unless I have a garbage can to dispose of the wipes, I have to stuff them into my wet bag with the diapers and sort and throw them out when I get back home. ICKY! Cloth wipes are easier because all I have to do then is dump the travel wetbag into the wash at the same time as I dump my regular wet bag. No need to touch dirty diapers a 2nd time.

One little trick I learned recently is to keep a roll of toilet paper by the changing station. If you have a particularly sticky lump of poop, too much to want to wipe and throw in the wash (yep I am sure you can picture what I am talking about...) you can wipe it off with a little bit of toilet paper, fold it up and leave it in the diaper, and then dump it into the toilet at the same time you deal with dumping the poop into the toilet. Then do your major clean up and wash down with the cloth wipe.

I even know some disposable diaper wearing babies who have their bums cleaned with cloth during diaper changes. I know in the NICU at the hospital, everyone used facecloths as wipes, even though the diapers were Pampers brand disposables. Cloth wipes are much less likely to contribute to rash, leave residue or cause pain on an already rashy bum.

Have fun wiping butts:)