Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Cloth diapering 201

I have known for a long time that any future babies that I had would wear cloth on their bums, so I spent literally years researching my options.  What I learned, was that for a newborn, the best options are either a rental package, or prefolds and covers.  Now, a lot of women buy used diapers, or go for the rental packages with fitted diapers for their little ones, and that works well.  I kinda get the heebie-jeebies about things like used underwear, swimsuits, shoes...  You get the idea.  I don't mind so much if I actually know the person they're coming from, but a rental?  I couldn't get over my heebie-jeebies about that one, so I went the prefold and cover route.  Prefolds are really super easy to use, and pretty much indestructible!  Like any routine with baby, we have become more settled than we first were.  Very quickly, I discovered that changing a boy on my bed with just a pad underneath would not work.  It doesn't matter if you cover him with a wipe, about every third time, he's going to pee everywhere.  We had quite a few tinkle fountains in our first days home, so I invested in a changing pad for our dresser.  I love my changing set up, as everything is in place and easy to reach.
It took me a little longer to decide that folding the diaper, putting baby on it and pulling out the edges was silly.  Now, I just lay him on the diaper out flat and fold the front edges in.  Much easier than trying to pull the back edges out!

I am also loving the snappis we got, which I didn't use much at first.
Probably one of the reasons that it took me so long to decide that putting Zachariah on the diaper flat was easier was because I was trying to get the diaper and cover on all at the same time.  Everything had to be placed just right in this particular scenario, and a wrigely baby didn't always cooperate.  Really, diaper first, then cover.
Now, let's talk rashes for a minute.  We've had ONE that was nasty to get rid of.  The coconut oil just didn't cut it.  Even Bordeaux' Butt Paste by itself didn't cut it.  I mixed Butt Paste, probiotic powder, and Neosporin together and kept it slathered on him for several days to get rid of this monster that seemed to be caused by atomic poop.  I never could figure out what I was eating that disturbed him so, but he hasn't had a bad rash in a month or so.  ANYway...  Regular diaper cream can't go in a cloth diaper, because it causes the fabric to repel.  While we had to put this oh so lovely mixture of goop on Zachariah's bum, I used some of the fabric that I had originally intended to make wipes out of, as liners.  I also used some of the unfinished fabric as wipes that I kept separate from the rest of my wipes so that they wouldn't get the cream on them either.  Before tossing a used diaper in my wet bag, I removed the liner, and rinsed both the liner and wipe out in the sink.  Those went in with a towel load instead of the diaper load just to ensure that NONE of the cream got on my diapers.  I got a GroVia Magic Stick that is cloth diaper safe (but not quite strong enough to completely get rid of his rash) to use when we were out and about so I didn't risk forgetting to separate everything out before throwing it in the wash.  Now, I know this may sound crazy complicated, but really it's not.  It took me a while to figure out what the best course of action was for his rash.  I tried several different things, including various "cloth friendly" creams before I finally settled on this particular cocktail of stuff and resigned myself to using liners.  Frankly, my prejudice against liners was far worse to overcome than actually using them was.  I keep a basket full of that scrap fabric by the changing pad now just in case we have another rash like that one.  You can clearly see the build up from the diaper cream on the dark liners.  Glad I didn't get any of that on my diapers!
Once it was gone, though it hasn't come back.  I can't say that given our family's history of sensitive skin that I'm shocked to find that Zachariah, too needs his bum babied.  I simply use coconut oil every time I change him so that he will have that barrier between him and the poop.  That seems to have done the trick, and my basketful of liners and emergency wipes sits unused 99.9% of the time.

As I'm sure you can tell, Zachariah is quickly outgrowing the infant sized prefolds that I have.  My other reason for choosing to go this route was that prefolds are so versatile.  I am working on making pocket diapers to stuff them in.  I have some super cute ones I love, made by my favourite work at home mom (WAHM), and some absolutely adorable flannel that my sister sent me waiting for me to sew some of my own.
Beyond pocket diapers and a Magic Stick for travel, I haven't added much to my diaper stash.  I did splurge on an all-in-one diaper for Zachariah's Christmas outfit.  Why?  Because it had sock monkeys on it!  I mean really, who can resist sock monkeys?  As an aside, I put Zachariah on his stomach to take these pictures, and he discovered that he could roll over.  :)

This is the only diaper I have that doesn't require a cover.  It has a hidden layer of PUL which makes it waterproof.  I know that a lot of moms want a diaper that is the most like a disposable in usage.  This is it.  You put it on, pin it, and go.  I could have had snaps added, but I find that I really prefer pins or velcro over snaps.

I know you're thinking "All that is fine and good, but you still have to wash them.  Ewwwww!"  Let's talk washing routine for a bit.  First of all, the only time I actually touch dirty diapers is when I change the baby.  Really.  They go into my wet bag, and I turn it inside out in the washer, and that's it.  Because breastfed poop is completely water soluble, I don't even have to rinse them out yet, so even when I'm changing I don't touch much.  Once the bag is inside out in the washer, I set my HE washer to do a short wash on cold with no spin.  I like to add a small scoop of Oxy Clean to this wash just to give it a little extra stain fighting, (more on that in a minute) but that's totally not necessary.  The purpose of this first wash is to rinse all the poop and urine out, so that when you run the main wash, the water isn't full of pee and poop.  For my machine, I don't have the ability to add extra water to a wash (I know some HE machines have a setting that lets you add water to the load) so not spinning the water out of the short wash is especially important.  That way, the sensor on the washer thinks you have a larger load than you actually have, and uses more water.  I know some mommas have solved this problem by adding a wet towel to the load, which can work, too.  Once my short wash is finished, I run a heavy duty wash on hot wash/cold rinse.  I use 1 tablespoon of Country Save laundry detergent, and put 3 drops of tea tree oil in the fabric softener compartment for a little extra bacteria fighting action.  Occasionally, I also add some vinegar in with the tea tree oil just to keep things fresh.  Once the diapers are clean, I throw them in the drier without a drier sheet, because the oils in them can build up on the diapers and cause them to repel.  The one thing I really feel I could use is a drying rack so I could hang my diapers out to dry in the sun.  I understand that the very best thing for those lovely yellow breastfed poop stains is some good old-fashioned sunshine.  I had a clothesline, and was really looking forward to hanging our diapers to dry, but my HOA made me take it down.  Someone must have ratted us out, because it was not at all visible from the street (it was my impression that as long as it was under the fence line that your backyard was your backyard.  Silly me.) and the HOA isn't supposed to be able to come on your property to look in the backyard.  I've been kinda dragging my feet about getting a drying rack because the weather hasn't been great.  And I'm still a little torqued that I had to take down my clothesline.  One of these days.

So how about the nitty-gritty?  What do I really like, and not like?
~ I LOVE my prefolds.  Super easy to use and oh-so indestructible.  They absorb well, and dry fast.  Not to mention that this is absolutely the most affordable diapering option available.
~ I really like pocket diapers.  again, stuffed with prefolds, they absorb well, and are durable.  Pockets have the added benefit of not needing to be folded when baby is in them.  You just wrap, pin (or not!) cover, and go.  Not to mention the cute factor.  Yes, you have to use a cover, but you also cover up those cute lacy panties that I know you're wearing.  ;)  The down side is that they have to be stuffed before hand (not a big deal, I usually do this while watching TV in the evening) and unstuffed before washing (again, not a big deal, I just pull the prefold out before I throw it in the wet bag.  My hands are dirty from changing the baby anyway, so it doesn't bother me at all).  They are also a bit bulkier than just the prefolds alone, which can be bothersome under certain outfits.
~ I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with my Thirsties Duo covers.  I love the gussets in the legs.  Zachariah's legs are a little bit on the thin side, and these gussets really hold everything in.  I have never had a leak with them as long as the diaper is completely tucked into the cover.  I love how well these have laundered.  They've been washed 3 or so times a week for 3 months now, and show almost no signs of wear and tear.  I love that the rise is adjustable so that they will fit him longer than a sized cover, and I can also let it out over bulkier diapers.  On the other hand, I don't love that the rise snaps sometimes come undone when I'm pulling them up over the diaper.  I have heard that this is not a problem on the Duos with the snap closure.  All but one of my Thirsties are velcro closure, and interestingly enough, I don't have as much trouble with the rise snaps coming undone on my snap cover.  I don't know why this should be the case, but I've heard it from other moms, and my experience does seem to validate that claim.  I also don't love the white trim.  Really people?  White?  On a diaper?  Not the best idea.  Bottom line, I do think these are great covers, and unless I find something else that rocks my socks off, I'll probably stick with the size 2s when he outgrows these.
~ I'm not at all crazy about the GroBaby (now GroVia) diapers I purchased.  I really thought these were going to be the diapers that I was going to love.  In reality, the breastfed poo never stays on the soaker pads, so the shell has to be changed every time he poops.  I never feel like the mesh liner on the inside of the shells dries between changes without smelling a bit, so that's a drawback, too.  I have better success using the shells as covers with my prefold or pocket diapers, but they don't have gussets, so I find it more difficult to get a good fit on the legs.  As adorable as my GroBaby shells are, they really haven't laundered as well as my other covers, and are showing definite signs of wear around the edges.  It could be user error, as I've been drying them and should probably have been hanging them to dry.  Oops.  I've debated selling, but really want to give them one more chance to wow me once we start solids, and the poop isn't as runny.
~ Don't bother with Amy Coe designer diaper pins from Babies R Us.  Although they're adorable, and clearly state on the package that they have a "functional point", I don't find them to be nearly as sharp as the plain ol' diaper pins.  They're also smaller than a standard size diaper pin, and close on the opposite side.  Too bad.  I love the monkeys.
~ I received a Gen Y cover as a shower gift, and it is super-duper adorable.  These are sized covers, and Zachariah is just now growing into them, so I don't have a long-term impression yet.  They lack the gussets that I love so much, and also have snap closures, which I'm not all that mad on.  I always feel like it's easier to get a good fit with velcro.  So far, we haven't had any leaks with them, and I definitely love that the trim isn't white!  And really, how cute is that?
~ I also received a Planet Wise wet bag for a gift, and love it for my diaper bag!  It zips, so it's a little easier to use than the drawstring, and has a snap handle, so if the used diapers get too bulky to fit back into my diaper bag, I can just snap the wet bag to the strap of my bag.  Jonathan and I are planning a short trip in March, and I will be buying a large Planet Wise bag for it.

~ As far as fitted diapers go, I did receive two as gifts at my baby shower, and it's definitely fun to have a couple on hand.  If I had a "Tatiana's favourite" category, these would go under that. They're quick, they're easy, and no folding is involved.  As far as I'm concerned, I will probably keep one or two on hand just because, but it's not worth having a whole stash, financially, as they're much more expensive than prefolds and pockets.
~ I'm not sure what I think about all-in-ones.  My sock monkey diaper is pretty much the cutest thing evah, but I'm not sure I love it, functionally.  I may not have prepped it enough, but I feel like it doesn't stay quite as dry as my prefolds and covers.  It could be that fit on my little man's skinny legs again, too.  I'm definitely NOT going to get rid of it, and I may try some more, but it's not my go-to diaper.

What about products that I'm looking to try next?
~ As aforementioned, a drying rack to sun my diapers.
~ Blueberry Coveralls.  I've heard great things about these from friends, and they have gussets!  These are a one size cover, so wouldn't be good for newborn babies (Unless you have whopper babies like I do.  lol) but should last a good long while.
~ Weehuggers covers.  Because oh my goodness, the guitars and jungle animals are adorable!  They, also are one sized, and have leg gussets.  No white trim, either.  Score!
~ Sewing my own.  My friend, Kim made a couple off the Rita's Rump Pocket pattern (and I'm just about certain that Hip Mama's pocket diapers are based on this pattern, too) and let me try them out.  They're super cute, work great, and she assures me that they're easy to make.  Just gotta find the time.  I'll let you know how that goes!  ;)
~ Wool covers.  Wool is naturally antimicrobial, and completely waterproof when lanolized.  I have an old wool sweater that I need to prep and try to make a cover out of.  Again, I'll let you know how that goes!  lol
~ Bagshot Row Bamboo.  I hear SO much about these diapers on my cloth diaper chat board.  When Zachariah outgrows the fitted diapers I have, I'm going to try out a BSRB just for the fun of it.

There you have it, folks.  My lovely cloth diaper novel from A to Z.  It's three months in, and I still love cloth diapering!  It may be a little more work than just throwing it in the trash, but it honestly doesn't bother me, and is worth every second of that extra work to know that a) there are no chemicals on my son's bum and b) 500 years later his dirty diapers aren't still going to be stewing in a landfill somewhere.

If you think you might be interested in cloth diapering, or babywearing, I'm going to be having a demo at my house on the 31st of this month.  Send me a message, and I'll get you all the info!  :)

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