Monthly Archives: June 2009

I love cloth diapering, part 7: The diaper funk

So I have to be honest here, while I was writing my cloth diapering series I was really questioning my resolve to cloth diaper. You see, after we moved into our apartment and began washing our clothes with the new HE front loader washing machine, my diapers started to get a stinky funk.

I tried stripping them with Dawn. The first few times I did this it did seem to work for one or two washes. Eventually though even Dawn didn’t help. I tried switching to a homemade detergent. It did not help either. In fact, the problem got worse.

The last few weeks the funk has been so bad I can smell it when I pull the diapers out of the dryer and when I pull a clean diaper out of my baskets to put on Bean. It wasn’t horrible. I would just get this whiff of something funky. It did get horrible though after Bean would wet her diapers. It seemed to activate the smell, whatever it was, and make it about 20 times more potent.

I finally decided to do some research on the subject to see if anyone had experienced this before and what they had done about it.

First strike against me was the diapers I had chosen. Not necessarily just the bumGenius brand, but the microfiber inserts. Admittedly this kind of ticked me off. One of the things I absolutely loved about the microfiber inserts is that they are super absorbant and they wick away the moisture from my daughter’s skin. I guess the microfiber is more prone to buildup though and the same great absorbtion powers it has tend to make it hold onto smells.

Second strike against me was my homemade detergent. Since the detergent recipe I was using was soap based and actually a laundry soap not a detergent, that was causing buildup and soap scum in my diapers.

The third strike against me was the HE washing machine. Tons of people had complained on message boards about how the low use of water that these machines are prided on just wasn’t rinsing their diapers effectively. That seemed to make sense to me since I never had much of a diaper funk problem with our old machines and when I did, a wash in Dawn took care of it for at least a couple months.

So what to do? Most of the recommendations I saw explicitly went against the manufacturers guidelines for my diapers. I was frustrated. I didn’t want to risk ruining my diapers, but I also wanted to get rid of the funk.

The detergent problem was the easiest to fix, I just switched to a store bought HE free and clear detergent. While it meant no longer spending pennies per load, I decided it was worth it not to have stinky diapers. However, a detergent switch alone was not enough to get rid of the built up funk smell that had accumulated over the past three months since our move.

Another suggestion was to rinse the diaper inserts out in the sink prior to loading them in the washing machine. This seemed like it would probably help over the long term once I got rid of the initial funk, but it wouldn’t do anything to get rid of the current smell. I was right. I noticed that I was able to rinse quite a bit out of my diapers in the sink, but the funk remained after a wash.

Since several people had tried some of the things that went against the manufacturer’s guidelines with success, I definitely felt more confident about trying them. It meant that I was voiding the warranty, but I had already tried all the things that the manufacturer recommended without success. These suggestions were to add vinegar in a Downy ball to the wash, add bleach to the wash, and soak the diapers in an enzyme cleaner like Bac-Out. Two of these suggestions I was not even willing to try: bleach seemed like it would be too harsh for the diapers and I was afraid that the rinse problem I was having with my front loader would not get the bleach or the enzyme cleaner completely out of the diapers which meant that it could cause burns on Bean’s skin. That left the vinegar.

For those of you that are curious, there is actual science behind the vinegar. The thing about urine that stinks is amonia, which is likely part of the diaper funk smell I was experiencing. Amonia is a base, vinegar is an acid. Mix the two and they neutralize. Unfortunately though while it did seem to improve things, it didn’t completely get rid of the funk.

What I really needed was something that would strip my diapers so they would be like new again so I could put into place all the newfound suggestions that would prevent the diaper funk. One of the many suggestions I saw was to use blueing instead of bleach to do this. Once again the area that I live in, while very nice, failed me. I went to four different grocery stores looking for blueing and was unable to locate it. I don’t think I ever went to a grocery store in Bakersfield without seeing that stuff in the laundry isle. It is a bit of an old fashioned laundry trick though, so I guess not so many people use it anymore.

During the process of my research I also found out that OxyClean has a ton of fillers in it that cause buildup on the diapers too. Thankfully I was able to find another oxygen cleaner that has simple ingredients called OxoBrite and it was available at my local grocery store. I decided that I would try soaking my next batch of dirty diapers in a strong soak solution of OxoBrite and if that didn’t work I would order some blueing online.

First I washed the diapers one time in the washing machine with my HE detergent and a Downey ball of vinegar to get rid of most of the dirtyness. Then I filled my 5 gallon former laundry detergent making bucket with 2 gallons of really hot water and 8 scoops of OxoBrite. I put all the diaper inserts into the bucket and filled it with more hot water. I stirred it from time to time. The inserts blew up like balloons as they soaked up all the liquid in the bucket. I left them to sit for several hours yesterday while we were out at the Dodger game.

When I came back the first thing I noticed was just how bright white the inserts were. I rung them out and tossed them back in the washing machine for two more rinse washes. When I opened up the washing machine door I immediately noticed that I didn’t get that slight funk whiff that I normally got. When I dried them it was the same thing. I just smelled hot fabric.

So I think I have finally solved my problem. I don’t think I’ll have to do this every time I wash my diapers, but maybe every once and awhile when and if the funk returns. Anyway, I share this in case any of you converts run into the same problem.


Filed under Natural Living

Week Thirty Nine

Week 39 happened to fall on the same day that Bean turned nine months old. I was contemplating switching to months at some point, but I figure I’ve made it past the halfway point with weeks so I might as well continue until she hits a year.

It was a big day for Bean and I. We drove to Bakersfield all by ourselves in the new minivan we got this past weekend (Honda Odyssey for those that are wondering). First stop was my lovely midwife’s house for a prenatal appointment. Got to hear baby #2’s heartbeat! Even though he couldn’t be there Stephen also got to hear because I called him.

After that, Bean and I headed over to my friend Tiffany’s to hang out with little Lucy for a playdate. Oh how refreshing it was seeing her. I have to say that one of the things I grieved most about leaving Bakersfield was the new friendship we were forming. Tiffany just gets me! We have very similar philosophies about so many things from parenting to doing research about everything to the fact that we both cloth diaper our kids to our love of crafts. The couple hours together was gone so fast and much too short!

Once both of our kids were tired out I headed over to my old station to say some hellos and then to my sister’s apartment for a few minutes before heading back home.

Driving around town gets more weird the longer I am away. I know where stuff is and I know how to get where I need to go, but I find myself making silly mistakes and getting confused much more easily. Streets that were once so familiar seem strange and distant. Maybe it’s just the realization that Bakersfield isn’t “home” anymore. Even the cute downtown houses that I used to count on as unchanging when I passed them each morning on my way to work are drastically different. So many of them are getting gutted, stucco facades, and completely “made over” from their quaint demeanor of decades past. I guess change is the only constant in so many aspects of life.

Bean is certainly a testament to that. It is amazing how much she has changed in just nine short months of life. Tiffany kept commenting on how big and different Bean was today. Last time we hung out Bean was barely sitting up on her own and certainly not crawling yet.

Her current phases are “everything in the mouth” and “pulling stuff out of containers”. She is also still very much into climbing on things and pulling herself up to stand no matter how stable the items used for support are.

She tends to get very fixated on things that she wants or wants to do. Usually no amount of redirecting, “no” or even getting hurt can dissuade her. For example, yesterday I came home really quick in the middle of running errands to go to the bathroom among other things. I basically walked in the door and put her down and then ran to the bathroom. I forgot to make sure that the gate on the stairs was latched. Bean of course immediately headed for the stairs and climbed up them. I was telling her “no” (which she knows what that means) as best I could while disposed of, but she was not listening. In fact, she was looking back at me and giggling as she went higher and higher. She got about to the third step, looked back at me in her very “haha Mama” way, and lost her balance rolling down the two stairs below her. She sat up, cried for a second, then laughed and set about heading back up the stairs again. At this point I was able to stop her and close the safety gate, but she probably would have continued to climb and then hurt herself as long I let her because she is just that determined about stuff.

I am sure this is going to make my life so much more interesting in the future.

She can also layer the drama on thick if she doesn’t get her way. I probably have to sweep her mouth for various objects (leaves, carpet fibers, hair, etc) about 20 times a day. If I find one and take it out she immediately errupts into a puddle of tears. This also holds true if I try to redirect her from something I don’t want her to do or have to another toy. The other toy is NOT good enough. The tears begin flowing, the face turns bright red and the upper lip juts out. Where do kids learn to do this? Sometimes it just makes me laugh because her pouty face is so funny and cute.

She does have an extremely funny and silly side too. Lately she really thinks that this head bang, hip thrust, bounce type dance move that she does is extremely hilarious, especially if you join in with her. She gets to laughing so hard that she sounds like she is almost gasping for air. I think the gasp noise is probably just another thing that she finds to be really funny. She is extremely ticklish, just like Mama. You don’t even have to actually touch her. You can just wiggle your fingers at her and she’ll start giggling away.

She continues to be more and more vocal, though she isn’t as big on her words as she was at first. Actually, the only time she says “Mama” now is when she is crying. We’ve tried and tried to get her to say “Mama” and “Papa” on command, but she just won’t do it anymore. Sometimes it does sound like she says “yeah,” but we’re not completely sure on that one. Mostly it’s just a lot of “aaaahhhh ba da la der di di di.”

Anyway, here she is at 39 weeks/nine months:


Filed under Family, Parenting, Pregnancy and Birth, Ramblings

I love cloth diapering, part 6: On the road again…

Stephen and I take a lot of short weekend trips to see family and friends. We also like to take at least one longer vacation each year to get away, relax and see new sites. We did this prior to having Bean and we both agreed that the addition of her to our family would not change that.

But even if you don’t travel much, you’ll still need to factor in the logistics of using cloth when you are out running errands, at playdates, etc. unless you want to use disposables for those times. That was our plan originally, but the rashes Bean got from disposable diapers changed things for us. Plus, I realized that it really wasn’t that hard to do cloth on the road.

So first we’ll start with out for the day type trips and then move on to more serious travel.

This is my current diaper bag:

I was hoping the new bag I ordered from Etsy would get here in time for this post, but it did not. Anyway, my diaper bag is pretty much always super stuffed to the brim like that because the cloth diapers are much more bulky than disposables. I think my overstuffing it is what has caused so much wear and tear and my less than perfect seams to split under pressure, which is why I ordered a new bag.

So if we delve into the bag a bit and take away all the items that are non-essential to diapering, this is what is needed for a typical day of errands:

From left to right: wet bag, changing mat, two cloth diapers and eight washcloths. Something I realized that is missing from this picture and my diaper bag at this moment, is my spray bottle filled with wipes solution.

My mother-in-law got me a bottle of this BumGenius bottom cleaner at my baby shower. I have since used it all up, but I just refill it with my homemade solution when I run out. So when I am out and about, instead of dunking my washcloths in the wipes solution I spray Bean’s bum and and wipe with a dry washcloth. If she has a particularly messy diaper I will wet the washcloths in a sink if I can because I don’t find the dry wipes method to be as effective as wet ones. 

The wetbag I made can hold up to two dirty diapers. So if Bean requires a diaper change while I am out running errands I just put the dirty diaper in there. The changing pad protects her from the various surfaces I’ve had to change her diaper on (everything from the floor, public restroom counter, an actual changing station and the trunk of my car) as well as protects those various surfaces from anything gross that comes from her (my sister-in-law’s playroom floor has benefitted from this on more than on occasion!). Both are lined with some vinyl I picked up from Beverly’s with coordinating fabric on the outside.

I usually “budget” four wash cloths per diaper change when I am out and about. I don’t always need this many, but if she poops I definitley do. Bean is kind of an interesting kid in that she only poops every few days and her “poop days” are an all day affair. It is kind of nice in that I don’t have to deal with poop every single day, but sometimes those poop days can be quite brutal.

So that about covers what I need for a day of errands. If I am truly going to be out the ENTIRE day I might pack a couple more diapers, some more wipes and a plastic zipper bag too, but those days are rare.

Now, lets move on to out-of-town travel. This duffel bag has become Bean’s travel “diaper” bag:

We used to use it for just the two of us when we went on a quick overnight or weekend trip, but not so anymore. It holds about half my stash in the center section and then I stuff one of the end pockets with wash cloths and the other with wet bags and plastic zipper bags.

Something that did get here in time for this post is my new large wet bag that I ordered from monkeyfootdesigns on Etsy. One thing that I do not like about using clear plastic zipper bags as wetbags is that they get all steamy and you can see it because they are clear. This grosses me out. It just does. So, I want to get or make about 1-2 more of these for use out of town and put an end to my consumption of plastic zipper bags for diapering purposes.

If we are going out of town just for the weekend, we don’t plan for washing. I just make sure I am all caught up on diaper laundry before we go. We take half the stash with us and I wash it all when we get back.

I tend to overplan on the number of diapers I’ll need for a trip because unlike most moms, I can’t just run up to the convenience/grocery store and buy a pack of disposables if we run out of clean diapers. Well, I could, but I don’t and I don’t want to.

If we are going for a longer period of time we try to figure out a way that we will be able to wash diapers while we are on vacation. Most recently for my sister’s wedding this was done by renting a condo that had a washer and dryer in the unit instead of staying in a hotel. We priced it out and it actually wound up being the same as far as cost. If we are staying with family we make sure they don’t mind us doing some laundry while we are there. This hasn’t come up yet, but if we were to have some other vacation situation we’d probably research laundromats in the area prior to our trip and plan for a day of laundry if we had to. And if it really came down to it I’d probably bite the bullet and get a pack of disposables and plan for the ensuing diaper rash. I would definitely try to exhaust all other options first though because that’s just me.

So, I think that about covers everything you need to know about going cloth. I hope you have enjoyed this little series, learned a lot and maybe even considered the switch. If you think I’ve missed anything or if you still have questions, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll try to answer it as best I can or point you to a site with the information you are looking for.


Filed under Family, Natural Living, Parenting

I love cloth diapering, part 5: From changing table to laundry room

For cloth diapering you use many of the same accessories that go with diapering in general. You just have to plan for extra storage (because the diapers are much more bulky), odor control, and there is the laundry factor that everyone who considers cloth diapering freaks out about.

So I’ll start in the nursery and work our way through the life of a cloth diaper.

This is my changing table:

Looks pretty typical, right? That’s because it is. Now if I were using disposables, probably only one or two of those baskets would be used for diaper storage. The rest we’d use for clothes or toys or whatever. Since cloth diapers are so much more bulky than disposables, every single one of those baskets contains diapers.

To ensure that my diapers get even wear and tear I do sort of have a system to the baskets. I work left to right, top to bottom. So I’ll go through the top row from left to right. When those three baskets are empty it is usually time to do a load of laundry. I also move the bottom row of baskets to the top and then work from left to right again. When I finish washing my load, those diapers go back in the bottom row of empty baskets.

Just to the right of the changing pad I have some typical and some not-so-typical items that you might find on a changing table. What you see are: wash cloths which are my cloth wipes, a tube of diaper rash cream with a tube of yeastie cream under it, a pump bottle of Method baby lotion, a pump bottle of hand sanitizer (which is never used, I personally prefer old fashioned hand washing), a bottle of baby oil, and a storage container with liquid in it.

When changing a diaper I pick up one washcloth from the pile, dunk it in the storage container, squeeze it out and then use just like a regular wipe. I also have a system for my wipes to ensure they get even wear and tear. When I’m folding the diaper laundry, I make a pile of my washcloths. I simply stick this pile under the existing pile on top of the changing table.

I must admit I’m a bit addicted to buying washcloths. Every four months or so Circo comes out with new patterns of washcloths. Since a five pack is only $3 I get a new pack if I notice they’ve changed their pattern and I’m at Target.

Just like most moms, I use wipes for everything: cleanup after a meal, quick cleanup of dirty hands and feet and of course, diaper cleanup. If you are going to use cloth wipes you definitely need more of them than diapers because you will use more than one per diaper change and you will probably use them for other stuff like I do. I have no idea how many I have, but it’s a lot.

So what’s in the liquid solution in the storage container, you ask? That is my homemade wipes solution. It is really easy: 1 squirt baby shampoo, 4 drops Tea Tree Oil (a natural antibacterial), and then water filled to the top of the container which I think is probably about 8oz. There are TONS of different solutions that you can find recipes online for though. Just do a Google search for “DIY baby wipes recipe” and you will find them.

So when I am changing a dirty diaper, as I am taking the diaper off I fasten the velcro tabs to the laundry tabs on the back of the diaper. This prevents them from sticking to everything else in the laundry.

I finish cleaning Bean up with some wipes and place them in the middle of the diaper. I pull the diaper out from under her bottom and then fold it in half and toss it in our diaper pail.

My diaper pail is a simplehuman step trashcan. I really like these trash cans and I am a bit fanatical about them. We went through several step cans early on in our marriage before we got one of these as part of the welcoming package for our new home. It was instant love: the lid does a great job of keeping the smells in, the plastic liner is easy to clean and keeps yucky stuff from leaking all over the rest of the trash can, the step mechanism doesn’t break after 10 uses and they look nice. We immediately went out and bought another for our recyclables and then when I got pregnant with Bean I knew I wanted one to use as our diaper pail. They are more pricey than most other trash cans, but we decided it was worth it to have a step can that actually works and continues to work in the long term.

Most diaper pails you can find at a baby store will work with cloth diapers so long as they are not the kind that have a plastic bag in them that twists, separates and seals off each diaper. So if you don’t want to spend $60-$100 on a trashcan you can look into one of those. Just make sure it says that it works with cloth diapers.

Once my diaper pail is full I pull out the liner and cart it over to the laundry room next door to Bean’s room. Then I put on my laundry gloves, which are just a regular pair of rubber kitchen gloves, and begin loading the dryer. I seperate the wipes from the diaper and toss them in and then I remove the inserts from the pocket and toss them in before tossing in the shell.

If the thought of touching soggy or poopy diapers really bothers you, I really recommend getting a pair of rubber kitchen gloves for your laundry room. It has made doing diaper laundry so much easier for me, especially on days when I am feeling particularly squimish.

Since our laundry room is in our guest bathroom, I take care of my poopy diapers all at once. Now that Bean is eating solid foods she has solid poops. So, if I come across a poopy diaper while I am loading the washer I take it over to the toilet, shake off any solids into the toilet and then resume pulling it apart and sticking it in the washer. Sometimes I have to use a little toilet paper to get the solids off, but for the most part they just shake off. Actually, it is technically illegal to dispose of human waste in landfills. So even those of you that use disposables are supposed to do this!

To wash this is what I do: one cold wash with detergent, one hot wash with detergent and one cold wash without detergent to rinse. It is important to use a detergent free of dyes, perfumes, brighteners, and any other additives because these will build up on your diapers and cause them to start repelling the moisture instead of absorbing it.

Even with additive free detergent though you still may get some buildup and you will need to strip them if that is the case. You can tell if you need to strip your diapers if they smell funny even after you’ve washed them or if they suddenly start leaking. I’ve seen a bunch of different ways online to go about doing this, but what I do is just 1 tbsp of regular blue Dawn in place of my detergent.

To dry you can either line dry or sun your diapers or you can dry them in the dryer. I don’t have much space for hang drying so I do it in the dryer, plus the dryer refreshes the velcro (or so I’ve been told). Since the inserts are so absorbant it usually takes two dry cycles for them, but only one for the shells. I will admit that I’m usually lazy though and just restart the dryer without removing the shells.

Another thing that has come up with the solid food/poop is stains. Arg! The perfectionist in me really has a hard time with this. I have tried a lot of things, but was told that sun is best for this. I have to admit I was quite skeptical, but it does help. However, it didn’t completely get rid of all the stains. I think another round in the sun probably would have done the trick though. I did take before and after pictures of my experiment. I am going to assume that most of you reading this are moms and have had to deal with many disgusting things before, including stains. So hopefully you don’t get grossed out by these pictures!

The worst ones prior to drying in the sun:

Same diapers after drying in the sun:

I am so glad I took pictures because I’ll admit when I went out there and still saw some stains I was a bit disappointed, but the pictures really show how much of a difference the sun made!

After the diapers are dry I “fold” them. Basically I just stuff all the inserts back in the diapers and then put them in stacks in the baskets. I also make a stack of the washcloths and put them where they belong.

That about covers the laundry and the life of a diaper. My last installment will talk about the logistics of doing cloth when you are not at home.


Filed under Natural Living, Parenting

I love cloth diapering, part 4: Building a stash

When I started looking into cloth diapers, I went to the two friends I knew that were doing it: Emily and Tiffany. Both of them had a ton of advice for me, just like I have for anyone that asks me about it now. I was also trying to research lots of other stuff at the time. So, I was completely overwhelmed by the length and the amount of information in both of their e-mails, just as I am sure the friends that have asked me have felt.

Both had a list of recommendations for a stash of diapers to get me started. There were a lot of different kinds of diapers in this list. Then, when I looked online it seemed that every single kind of diaper had different washing instructions. “Oh great,” I thought, “I’m going to be washing three diapers this way, two this way and I’ll have to keep track of the covers and this just seems way too complicated!”

Well, as I said in the last posts, the diapers we decided to go with are the BumGenius 3.0 one-size pocket diapers. Both girls had said that these diapers were their go-to, Daddy-friendly, workhorse diaper (though I will note that Tiffany’s feelings on this brand have changed). Instead of getting a varied stash as they both recommended, I just wanted to deal with one kind of diaper that we could use through the entirety of Bean’s diapering process. Plus, these looked like they were really easy to use (and they are).

I have 42 of them, which is a crazy amount to have. You don’t need that many. I originally intended to have somewhere around 30, but we got a good deal from Cotton Babies by ordering them in bulk and it was cheaper so we wound up with that many. One of the common complaints that you will see in reviews of these diapers is problems with the velcro tabs or the elastic in the leg opening going out. Since my stash is so huge, my diapers get less wear and tear and I have not had any of these problems. People with much smaller stashes tend to see these problems more often.

If I was starting over from scratch, now that I know what I know about cloth diapering — which is that it isn’t as overwhelming as I made it out to be — I would probably have followed both my friends’ advice and ordered a variety of different diapers to build my stash.

I also would not have any diapers with velcro now that I know the type of kid Bean is. She tends to be a bit meticulous and notices even the tiniest of details. She also likes to pick at things, including the velcro tabs on her cloth diapers. I cannot leave her in just a diaper for a long period of time because she will take the thing off. I have actually heard this is a very common problem that a lot of parents face with their kids. I have had friends that resorted to making duct tape belts on their kids’ diapers so they couldn’t get them off. Snaps are much more difficult for babies to figure out and pull apart, so I would have picked diapers with only snap closures.

Finally, I would have only purchased gender neutral colors/patterns for my cloth diapers. I seriously worry about the number of pink diapers we currently own if baby #2 is a boy.

The recommendations I have seen online usually say you should start out with 12-18 diapers. Most of the people I’ve talked to about cloth diapering recommended 20-24 diapers just so you have a little breather room with the laundry. The sites also say to plan for up to 14 diaper changes a day for a newborn (Yikes! I don’t think we ever went through THAT many), and 6-8 for an older baby. So that might help you figure out how many you need as well.

Anyway, this is what I would get if I were to start over on the journey today:

-8 Fuzzi Bunz one-size diapers
-8 bumGenius organic one-size diapers with the snap closures
-4 Swaddlebees ECONAPPI diapers
-4 Mommy’s Touch one-size pocket diapers

I know that it isn’t like I made a huge deviation from my current stash, as all my picks were still AIOs and one-size diapers. Those just seem to be the most economical to me. I don’t have any huge problems with my current diapers, I am just much more willing to try out different brands now that I’ve been doing this a little longer and it isn’t so scary.

If the up front cost of getting the diapers you want to use seems a little pricey, there are a number of ways that you can build your stash slowly. You could go the cheap route first, that is prefolds and simple covers, just to get yourself going. Then, you can slowly add the diapers you think you will like best or want to try one at a time as you can afford it. Another way is to buy a few now, use them when you can and continue using disposables in between until you can slowly build up your stash. This will also slowly break you into the idea of cloth diapering.

For those of you that are expecting, now is a great time to consider cloth. If it is something you decide to do I would really encourage you to register for cloth. Many of the cloth diapering sites offer gift registries and as I said before Target and Babies R Us also have an OK selection of cloth diapering options on their websites. Plus, there are many independent wish list and registry sites (insert shameless plug for where you can have a registry independent of any one particular store. I think this is really smart since most people wind up having more than one registry at more than one store. As I said before, we got almost half of our cloth diaper stash from our friends and family as shower gifts. You may be thinking that you don’t want to waste your registry on small stuff like the diapers. Trust me, the only people who are going to buy the “big” stuff like the travel system and the crib are going to be you, your parents and maybe an aunt or two. A nice $20 cloth diaper plus a pack of washcloths for you to use as wipes can be a great gift from a single friend that really only has $25 to spend on a shower gift for you.

The remainder of my posts on the subject (I am thinking there will be 1-2 more), are going to specifically deal with the brand of diapers we have and what we do with them. I think some of the stuff can still be applied across the board with the various brands, so stick with me!


Filed under Family, Natural Living, Parenting, Pregnancy and Birth

I love cloth diapering, part 3: Potty training and swimming

Just because your child is just getting out of the diaper phase, doesn’t mean you have to forsake cloth. There are several different options for training pants in cloth. Plus, I’m fairly certain that the concerns I brought up in part one of this series are probably still relevant with disposable training pants.

There are different training pants to consider for various situations in potty training. Some of them are meant for during the day to only catch little dribbles and encourage the child to make it to a potty, while others are meant for overnight when you would need much more absorbancy. There are a bunch of different brands to choose from as well.

From what I can tell, basically the training pants come in three varieties:
-There are pockets, which just like pocket diapers, have a pocket you can stuff inserts into. These are great because you can control how much absorbancy you want the training pant to have. So, if it is night and you know your child is going to wet a bunch, you’ll probably want to stick 1-2 super absorbant microfiber inserts into the diaper. If it is during the day and you want your child to feel the wetness or you just want to catch little dribbles, then you might stuff it with a thin cotton prefold. Some have snaps for easy accident accessibility, others just go on like underwear.

Happy Heinys Pocket Trainer

Happy Heiny's Pocket Trainer

-There are really thick cotton underwear. These obviously would not be good for overnight and don’t have a waterproof cover. They are just extra thick so that if there is an accident your child can run to the bathroom. I don’t know much about potty training since we’re no where near there yet, but I’d probably only use these if I knew we were going to be home all day and really working on potty training.

Under the Nile organic cotton training underwear

Under the Nile organic cotton training underwear

-There are all-in-ones. Just like the all-in-one diapers, these have everything in one piece — no inserts to stuff. They range from overnight to trickle catchers among the various brands. So, you might have to go with more than one brand to meet your various potty training situations. They have waterproof material on the outside. Some have snaps for easy accident accessability, others do not.

Imse Vimse Bumpy Training Pants

Imse Vimse Bumpy Training Pants

Now I know most of my friends who read this live in climates where swimming during the summer months is a must. So you may think that you have to give up on cloth for this as well, but you don’t! The My Swim Baby site, the sister site to the very popular cloth diapering site, Nicki’s Diapers, pretty much sums up the reusable swim diaper subject perfectly:

Swim diapers have a waterproof layer on the outside and a soft absorbent layer on the inside. Swim diapers should fit snugly. They are designed to be worn alone but may be worn over a disposable diaper or under a regular swimming suit.

Why use swim diapers?

Many states require swim diapers when diaper-aged children use a public pool. When a swim diaper fits properly, most bacteria including E.coli are prevented from entering the water. So prevent messy pool accidents by using a swim diaper!

Swim diapers won’t fall apart in the water and therefore won’t clog pool filters. Because they don’t absorb water, they don’t become waterlogged and heavy. Therefore, they do not absorb urine (so please beware so you don’t get a wet lap!). If swim diapers would absorb urine they would also absorb water, potentially pulling baby under water. This is also true for disposable swim diapers.

Some like to use pocket cloth diapers or diaper covers as swim diapers. Please be aware that water can get trapped in the cover not only causing a mess but could potentially be unsafe to your baby.

Reusable swim diapers can be washed and reused all season! There are many different styles, colors, and prints to choose from.

We actually found some great swim diaper options at our local Toys R Us. I got a tankini swimsuit for her there that had a swim diaper, matching top and hat that all have SPF protection built in. If she’s not actually in the water, we just use a regular diaper on the bottom and then when she gets in we put on the swim diaper. I want to get 1-2 more of these though to have as backup. I’ll probably just order some individual swim diapers online though since I don’t need three tankini tops for her.

With the swim diaper, in the water at the beach.

With a regular diaper, playing in the sand.


Filed under Natural Living, Parenting

I love cloth diapering, part 2: The various styles and brands

**Lisa notes: Stephen takes FOREVER to get around to this editing business. I promise that there is nothing controversial in this post. So, I just decided to go ahead and publish it.

So as I said in my last post, a lot has changed when it comes to cloth diapering. While traditional prefolds and simple covers are still the cheapest way to cloth diaper your child, there are so many more options now that are even easier to use.

In this post, I am going to attempt to discuss the various styles of diapers, some of the brands that are available in each style and their price ranges.

Prefolds are called as such because you have to fold them before using them as a diaper. When people think of a cloth diaper, this is usually what they think of.

Most people now use cheap Gerber prefolds as burp rags. I received a few at one of my showers with some cute fabrics sewn on to make them a little more decorative. From what I understand though, the Gerber prefolds are pretty much only useful as burp rags.

Back when our parents and grandparents used cloth diapers, they had to use saftey pins to secure them into place. Many parents worried about pricking a squirming baby. Plus, it can be quite difficult to get a diaper on tight with just saftey pins, I know attempts on my dolls as a kid never seemed to work quite right. These days, with the right cover, you actually don’t even have to pin or secure the prefold. You fold the diaper into thirds, stick it in the cover and then place it on your baby just like you would a disposable.

If that isn’t secure enough for you though, there is a great new little invention to help you out. It’s called a snappi. They come in a variety of colors and it is basically a three pronged rubbery tool with hooks that grip the diaper and hold it in place without you having to worry about poking your child with a safety pin.

As I said before, prefolds and simple covers are definitely the cheapest way to cloth diaper your child. Diaper service quality Chinese prefolds are about $1.50 per diaper, sometimes even cheaper if you buy them in bulk.

Covers can be a bit more expensive depending on what you want to buy. If you want really cute designer covers in fun patterns, you can expect to pay $12-20+ per cover. If basic white and cheap is the route you want to go, you can expect to pay $5-10+ per cover. Also, you don’t technically need as many covers as you do inserts. As long as nothing gets on the cover you can reuse it again with a fresh insert.

Snappis are about $3 each, but you can use them over and over again so you don’t need a ton of those either.

Contours and fitteds
For those of us that find folding a diaper to be too much work with a squirming, naked baby on the changing table, there are now diapers that are preformed into the diaper shape and ready to go.

Contours are just preformed diaper inserts that you can choose to use with or without a snappi like prefolds. Like a prefold, you also have to use a diaper cover with these diapers.

Fitteds are also preformed diaper inserts, but they usually have elastic at the leg holes and built-in closures such as velcro or snaps. You have to use a cover with these as well.

The first few weeks with Bean, we borrowed my friend Tiffany’s newborn stash until our BumGenius diapers fit. From that experience, I can tell you that I like fitteds way more than I like contours, as does my husband. He did not like dealing with the snappi. We had more problems with leaks when we used the contours, I think mostly because of error when putting the diaper on.

We particularly loved the two Thirsties Fab Fitted diapers that she had (an example of which is shown in orange above). Though, if I were to go the inserts/covers route, I’d probably consider something like the Swaddlebees One-Size Fitted (below) because I like the idea of not having to buy a new set of diapers every time my child gets a little bigger.

Contours start at around $7 and go up from there depending on the brand and fitteds start at around $13 and go up from there, again depending on which brand you decide to get.

Pocket diapers and all-in-ones
These are what we use! Pocket diapers are comprised of a shell made out of waterproof material such as PUL, with a liner that has an opening at one end that creates a pocket. You can stuff the pocket with a prefold or the insert that usually comes with the diaper. Once the insert is in place these diapers are ready to go. They go on just like a disposable with either velcro or snap closures.

All-in-ones (AIOs) are similar to pocket diapers, but the insert is built into the diaper and you do not remove it for washing purposes.

Some of the more well-known brands of pockets and AIOs are BumGenius (what we use), Mommy’s Touch, Thirsties, Fuzzi Bunz, ImseVimse, Dream Eze, Bumkins, Blueberry and I think I would probably also include the GroBaby system in this category. These diapers start at around $15 and go up from there depending on the brand you choose and whether or not you buy them in bulk.

One-size diapers
One-size diapers actually span a couple different styles: you can get them in an AIO/pocket diaper or as a fitted insert. When I was researching diapers, the idea of a one-size diaper that would last the whole 2-3 year diapering period really appealed to me because it meant one investment up front and then we’d be done. The way one-size diapers work is that they have snaps that adjust the rise of the diaper to fit down to a newborn or up to a toddler.

gDiapers are sort of the hybrid between cloth and disposables. They have fun fabric covers (gPants) and then you buy flushable/compostable inserts for them.

I think they’re a good way to get your feet in the water if the idea of cloth diapering scares you. I even have one friend, who at last check told me she was continuing to use her gPants, but was using prefolds with them instead of the flushable inserts. I’ve seen the gPants on sale for around $10 each, but they are normally $17-19 each. gDiapers recommends starting out with 4 pairs of their gPants. On their website, a package of 40 refills of the inserts is $15, and a case of 160 is $52.

So that about covers the various styles of diapers that are available today. Within all of these styles there are so many different choices in brands, colors, and patterns as well as price ranges. Picking out new diapers can be yet another fun way to dress up your baby (I mean how cute is that little ruffle butt gPant? Eek!).

I personally love that our BumGenius diapers come in fun colors. I rarely have to put bloomers on Bean when she is wearing a dress because her diaper is already plenty cute. Which is great because one side effect of cloth diapers is a bigger tush and most bloomers, especially ones that come with the dress in her size, don’t fit over them.

In my next installment, I’ll talk about the other applications for cloth: swim diapers and training pants (aka an alternative to Pull Ups).


Filed under Natural Living, Parenting

I love cloth diapering, part 1: Why consider cloth?

Cloth diapering does not work for everyone or every family. I completely understand this. There are many situations in which cloth diapering would not be an ideal choice. I know plenty of people who are very sensitive to the environment in many other ways but still choose to use disposables. That is completely fine. Every family has to do what works for them; I can respect that.

You may feel like this post is a bit redundant since I’ve already done a couple vlogs on the subject. Well, in the past month I have had three different friends inquire about cloth diapering and either seriously consider the switch or actually take the plunge (Woohoo Kourtni!!). I realized when they came to me with their questions that 1) there was quite a bit my videos did not cover and 2) the videos are a bit long and tend to ramble into tangents because of my camera shyness.

So, I wound up going back to long, drawn-out e-mails trying to think of every possible question I had when I started, as well as answering the questions they had specifically asked me and covering anything I found that came up after I was already well into the adventure. In an effort to simplify the process of responding to future inquiries, I decided that a well thought out and organized blog series on the topic was in order.

Plus, since “green is the new black,” I’ve been seeing cloth diapers and supplies even pop up in some of the larger baby retail stores. Yesterday when I was in Babies R Us they had three different kinds of cloth diapers plus the gDiapers physically in the store (they’ve had them online for some time now). I also saw a wipes warmer specifically designed for cloth wipes with organic bamboo wipes included and extras sold right alongside it. The Target here also has BumGenius diapers from time to time. For these products to actually make it into the store and not just be available online, means that people are requesting them and using them. That means more and more people are going cloth, which is really exciting to me.

So in this first installment, I wanted to talk about why parents should consider cloth diapering.

1. It is environmentally friendly.
Disposable diapers make up one third of consumer waste in landfills today. We don’t know how long it takes them to decompose because no one has lived that long yet  some estimates are around 500 years. One baby in disposable diapers will contribute at least one ton of waste to your local landfill.

2. It is healthier for your baby.
Disposable diapers consist of a plastic exterior, an inner super-absorbent layer treated with chemicals and a liner. These chemicals include dioxin, a chemical by-product of industrial processes, including the paper-bleaching process. Its toxicity is second only to radioactive waste. Disposable diapers also have been found to contain TBT, one of the most poisonous substances known to man. TBT can severely affect one’s immune and hormonal system. And then there’s sodium polyacrylate, the substance that turns urine into gel. This material was in tampons until around 1985, when its link to Toxic Shock Syndrome caused it to be removed. Furthermore, females involved in the manufacturing of sodium polyacrylate have suffered from reproductive organ problems, weight loss, fatigue, and slow-healing wounds. Which begs the question, if it isn’t safe for this chemical to be in contact with the reproductive organs of grown women, why is it safe for it to be in contact with the reproductive organs of our little babies? Could this chemical be why infertility problems are on the rise?

A study conducted by Anderson Laboratories in 1999 and published in the Archives of Environmental Health found that disposable diapers release volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), including toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene and dipentene. All of these VOCs have been shown to have toxic health effects, such as cancer and brain damage, with long-term or high level exposure.

The researchers also discovered that mice exposed to the chemicals released by disposable diapers were more likely to experience irritated airways than mice exposed to emissions from cloth diapers. These effects were increased during repeat exposures. The authors suggested that disposable diapers may cause “asthma-like” reactions and urged more study into a possible link between diaper emissions and asthma.

With the toxic chemical exposure of disposable diapers, it is no shock that a study by a major disposable diaper manufacturer shows that the incidence of diaper rash rose from 7.1% to 61% between 1970 and 1995, coinciding with the increase in disposable diaper use. However, no studies have ever been conducted on the long-term effects of these substances being in contact with a child’s reproductive organs for 24 hours a day and upwards of two or three years.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again  every single time I put Bean in disposables she gets a rash. When we first set out to cloth diaper, our plan was to use cloth at home and disposables for out-of-town trips and days when I would be out of the house for most of the day. At the time, it seemed to us that this plan would be easier than carting around dirty diapers everywhere. When Bean started getting rashes because of the disposable diapers, that changed our plans.

We knew that these rashes were specifically from the disposable diapers and/or wipes because we could usually clear this rash up without creams by putting her back in cloth diapers for a day. On one particular extended trip out of town, the rash got so bad she blistered and peeled. It didn’t seem fair to subject Bean to a painful rash just for our convenience. So now we cart around dirty diapers in a wet bag (Lisa notes: Stephen thinks this term sounds disgusting and will turn people off to cloth diapering. He would have preferred I used “plastic bag,” but they really are called “wet bags” and I know plenty of moms that use them and don’t cloth diaper so I’m leaving the term. Plus, click on the link and you will see tons of really cute ones!) and when we go out of town we make arrangements to wash them if we are staying for an extended period of time.

Actually, until Bean was around 5 or 6 months old, the only time she ever got a rash was from disposable diapers. That has since changed. We did have a yeast/thrush problem for awhile that caused a rash. Then there are three other main reasons why she will sometimes get a rash: 1) Reaction to a solid food that she ate, 2) Teething, because I think the teething changes the acidity of her digestive system for some reason and makes her poop burn her bum and 3) Negligence on my part sometimes I forget to change the diapers as often as I should. Still, these rashes are few and far between compared to if she were in disposables all the time.

3. Less blowouts.
I can count on one hand the number of times Bean has had a blowout in her cloth diapers. These blowouts were of such proportion and force that a paper thin disposable would not have been able to contain them either. Actually this is funny to me because one of the main warnings I got when I announced my decision was that everyone who had tried cloth or knew someone that had tried cloth stopped using them because of blowouts. In reality, I had way more problems with blowouts, really gross poop-all-the-way-up-the-back blowouts, than I ever have with my cloth diapers.

One of the first pieces of advice about cloth diapers I got when researching it was that I would see a huge polarization in the reviews of the different brands because every diaper fits every baby differently. As such, I was advised to start out with a stash of diapers with a variety of brands so I could figure out what I liked and what worked best with my baby’s body (I actually ignored this advice, but I’ll address that later in the series).

So, I think this is where friends and others who have tried cloth ran into problems. The diaper they chose, for whatever reason, did not work with their baby’s body type and they had leaks or blowouts. Now, if you were using Pampers, you’d probably just try switching to Huggies or some other brand. I think with cloth though we’re more apt to just say, “Well these ones don’t work, therefore all cloth diapers don’t work for us. I’m going back to disposables because that was easier.” When you’re spending much more for a single diaper (I’ve seen upwards of $35 per diaper for some ritzy brands), I can understand why you might be a little wary of experimentation though.

4. They are super cute.
The diapers I use come in a bunch of really fun colors. So does pretty much every brand I’ve come across. Then, if you want to get into supporting stay at home moms (also known as work at home moms or WAHMies), there are tons of sites where you can buy handmade diapers and covers in a huge variety of fun, beautiful and designer fabrics. Below is just a couple examples of some of the stuff you can find:

5. A lot has changed and it isn’t as hard as it used to be.
As I intend to show you throughout this series, cloth diapering is not as hard as our parents and grandparents made it out to be: gone are the days of stinky buckets of water with dirty diapers soaking in them, the laundry isn’t that bad or that much more than you are probably already doing with your baby and you don’t have to deal with pins and folding cloth diaper inserts if you don’t want to. Modern technology and fashion have really made this a much more fun and simple process.

6. It is cheaper!
This is the point that often wins the economical and practical guys over. Most estimates on the cost of disposable diapers put the figure at $2-3,000 per child, per year. If your child is in diapers for two years, that means you will spend $4-6,000 and if they are in diapers for three years, you will be spending $6-9,000 just on diapers for one child. If you factor in multiple children, that figure skyrockets even more.

I personally have about $800 worth of BumGenius diapers which run between $15-20 each, depending on where you get them from and whether you buy in bulk or not. Of that $800, my husband and I only invested $400 into them, the rest were very gratefully received shower gifts.

For those of you that, like me, hate doing math, I will do the calculations for you. We personally will save up to $5,600-8,600 just on Bean alone. We will likely use these diapers with our next child as well, provided they hold up that long and I can keep up with two kids and laundry. So, that means up to an additional $6-9000 worth of savings for a total of up to $11,600-17,600 for both kids! And that doesn’t even include the amount of money we aren’t constantly spending on diaper rash creams or wipes (since with use cloth wipes as well).

**Edit: After some of your comments I think the above figures are definitely a little high. I originally saw the $2-3K figure as a per child figure some time ago, not per child per year. I couldn’t remember what the actual figure was when I went to put together this post so I did a really quick search and a couple sites said the the per child, per year number so I went with that because the $2-3K part of it seemed familiar to me. Anyhow, check the comments section below to hear from actual disposable users that know what the real cost is. Sorry about that! In any case, over the long term cloth diapers are still cheaper than using disposables.

So that about covers the main reasons to go cloth. I hope you will seriously consider it if you haven’t before. For me personally, the biggest factors that swung me into the cloth diaper camp were the economic savings and the health of my child. I think those two things alone are worth condsideration.


Filed under Family, Natural Living, Parenting


In the course of editing tonight, Stephen and I have been discussing our job to protect our daughter as much as possible. So in that, we don’t think that her real name should be used here any longer. She will henceforth be referred to on the blog as “Bean”. I am going to go back and moderate comments that refer to her by her real name and before returning my old posts to public status I will be editing those as well. Please respect our decision and use Bean in the future instead of her name both on your personal blogs and in the comments section here. If you do make a slip up here in the comments section I will just be editing your comment prior to approval. Thanks!

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“Everyone needs an editor.”

I used to say that until I was blue in the face to my most persnickety contributors who would tout their literary awards whenever I moved a comma. I would point out to them that my award-winning writing went out to the public sphere after it was proofed by two copy editors and my managing editor. It always looked very different from notebook to polished print edition. Somewhere along the line I forgot that important tidbit.

I have to write. I just have to. Even if it means not saying everything that comes to mind. We all need to self censor of this I’m sure.

I seem to have problems with this though, so a solution has been presented to me. My husband has offered to edit and help me censor my posts prior to publishing them. He’s a pretty level headed guy and a very straightforward written communicator. He’s offered to discuss my ideas with me and help me craft and write them in a way that doesn’t offend everyone I know until I have no friends left.

The free-speech-pounded-into-my-head-journalist part of me completely bristles at this idea. The remorseful-friend-and-family-member (due to my recent writings) side of me thinks this is probably the perfect solution.

Anyhow, I’ve definitely been thinking a lot lately about how others perceive me and how I express myself in writing. I know I tend to come off as a bit fanatical about stuff that I’m into and I tend to make it seem like everyone else is wrong.

That is not how I want to be or be perceived. I think if you talked to me about any number of subjects in real life, face to face, you would think of me in a completely different way.

So the problem comes in bridging the gap between the person I really am and the person that people think me to be when they read this blog.

Part of the reason why I communicate the way that I do is because of the way I was taught to communicate when growing up.  There was quite a bit of emotional communication that went on. In order to be heard in this family you had to yell, create a solid case, or leave a note.

As such, my communication style is like this: I am passive aggressive in that I tend to deal with problems or thoughts via writing rather than face to face confrontation, but I also may tend to force my ideas on other people with a solid case and proving the point often becomes more important to me than what the other person is feeling. I tend to be rash and write my first thoughts and I tend to be emotional.

Last night when making the offer, my husband said that the better thing for me to do would not be to shut the blog down completely, but through our discussions learn to communicate in a better way that is more effective and positive. I think he is probably right.

In any case, in some ways I feel like I need a bit of a break from blogging in general. I need to take a step back and figure out what I want this space to look and feel like to my readers, some of whom I know very well and others I hardly know at all except through their blogs.

But in other ways, I feel like I have a million ideas that I want to talk about already since yesterday’s shut-down.

So, I don’t know when my next post will be at this point, but please stick with me just a little longer.

And finally, to those of you who I have hurt or made to feel like you are a bad parent, person or whatever, please accept my deepest apologies. I never really meant to make anyone feel that just because they are doing something different than me that they are wrong or bad. I am sorry.


Filed under Ramblings