Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Cloth Diapering

One of my first jobs was working at a farm when I was 12 years old.  The majority of the work was taking care of their two children.  I loved this job and have a lot of great memories of the farm.  I remember their mom always taking time to breastfeed and they always used cloth diapers.  These weren't the new and improved diapers with snaps, velcro, pockets etc.  These were the old fashioned prefolds with pins and pull on plastic pants.  Even as a 12 year old I was able to handle this on my own while watching the children so, after I had my first daughter over four years ago I started thinking about switching to cloth diapers.  My biggest motivation for doing this was saving money.  I also knew it was better for the environment and could possibly help my daughter potty train earlier.
When I first started researching I was really overwhelmed, even with my past experience over 15 years ago.  I searched online stores, message boards, reviews, etc.  These people seemed to have their own language.  I had no idea what they were talking about with the AIO, AIO2, BSRB, pockets, etc.  So I just picked what seemed like the most popular, available and easiest to use (so I thought) at that time.  It has been over 4 years since then and after trying multiple diapers and cleaning methods I am now at the point of knowing exactly what works and doesn't work for us.  My brother and his wife are expecting their first child. Being that my sister in law is an eco-conscious and money saving lady, she is also thinking about using cloth.  I thought I would share some of my knowledge to maybe help her and anyone else thinking of or already using cloth.  These are some of my own experiences and what I found works and didn't work for us.  Just like anything else with parenting everyone really has to figure out their own way and what works best for their family but hopefully this helps someone figure out what to put on their babies butts. :)
Click each title below for a link to each diaper.
Bumgenius 4.0 one size pocket diaper

 These were the first diapers I ever tried.  They seem to be one of the most popular and can even be bought at stores like Whole Foods and Target so they are easily accessible.  They are called pocket diapers because they have a pocket to insert the absorbent layer(s)  (in this case microfiber). The part touching the babies bum is a suede fabric that wicks moisture away from their skin. I have to say these are one of my least favorite diapers.  The one size diaper really appealed to me at the time because at almost $20 per diaper I did not want to have to buy new ones every few months because babies grow fast! They utilize snaps to adjust the size up or down as your baby changes size.  The reason why I ended up not liking these is because they are just huge! Cloth diapers are bigger than disposables obviously because they are not made with chemicals that cause the paper to expand as it absorbs the liquid.  The cloth size does not change based on amount of liquid it holds so they need to be thicker in order to absorb.  But putting a one size diaper on a 10 lb baby makes finding pants that fit very difficult.  You have to go up at least one size in pants and shorts.  The other reason I did not like these was because after using them for only a few weeks they really started to smell.  I have found that microfiber although quite absorbent is a lot harder to maintain than cotton.  Obviously these diapers work great for a lot of people but for us, not so much.  I don't like putting any one size diapers on my kids until they are about 15 lbs.  Also stuffing the diapers with the inserts every time you wash them gets old very quickly.  And I can't stand pulling out the urine soaked inserts to wash them, yuck! These run about $18.
These diapers are the trimmest I have ever used.  The only cloth diapers in my experience that can be worn with jeans.  I love how the snaps are on the sides.  They are super easy to wash, no stuffing.  The are also made with organic cotton and bamboo velour.  So they are super comfy and don't have any smell absorbing synthetic components that I hate.  (like microfiber).  And the best part...these are made in the USA and a family owned business started by a work at home mom with lots of little ones running around.  These are definitely one of my favorites and I would have way more if it wasn't for the price.  These run about $18 a piece and the ones I own are not one size but they do have that option.  So far I have only needed 2 sizes though to get through 2 1/2 years old. The other thing with these is that they need to be changed more often but, to me it is worth it for how trim and cute they are.
One of the best things about these diapers is that they come in only 2 sizes so they fit great on a small baby and a 2 or 3 year old without having to buy 3 or more sizes. These are pocket diapers so you have to insert the microfiber and hemp liners (which snap together).  But these have an opening on each side of the diaper so you don't have to touch the yucky insert to pull it out for comes out all on it's own with agitation in the washer.  I haven't had any smell problems with Thirsties microfiber.  The best thing about Thirsties is the leg gusset. I have never ever had a leak or blowout in these diapers.  They run about $15. I had Isabella in these starting at about 3 weeks old.  The size 1 is awesome for a newborn.

Isabella 3 weeks old Thirsties duo diaper size 1
These are hands down the diapers to buy when you first start trying cloth diapering.  They are only about $7 a piece! I have several of these diapers and they work just as well if not better than the more expensive ones.  They have both bamboo cotton inserts and microfiber ones to choose from.  I have always thought if I had problems with the microfiber smelling on these I could easily replace just the insert because they are so affordable.  However, I have never had smell problems with these.  The standard ones are one size diapers but they also sell another diaper called pure and natural for $6.25.  It fits newborns to 15 lbs.  I would recommend using these and then moving to the one size when your baby gets bigger. 
Kawaii Pure and Natural
Prefolds are the same kind of diapers your mom or your grandmother probably used.  They look like a flat rectangular piece of cloth with extra thickness in middle.  This is what we used when I worked on the farm.  The reason why they are called prefolds is because you can also buy what is called flats which need to be folded to put more of the fabric in middle.  I think some people are afraid of these because they don't seem as easy as the others but honestly these are one of my favorites.  The reason I love these is because they are made of cotton which doesn't contain any synthetic materials and is super easy to clean.  You don't need to stuff them into anything...all I do is fold in the sides and put a velcro or snap cover over it.  You can reuse the cover again if nothing gets on it otherwise just throw it in wash.  The prefolds are only like $2 a piece.  If you are looking to save money this is definitely something to consider.  They also have these clips called snappis if you want to attach the prefold like you would with pins but without the worry of poking your baby.  These diapers need to be changed more often because the wetness touches their skin as soon as they go but this is also a good thing because it helps your child with awareness and potty training.  If you want to learn more about using prefolds Green Mountain Diapers has tons of great information, FAQs, how tos, pictures etc.  This is a family owned business as well.  This company has the best most absorbent prefolds.  The prefolds can also be used as burp cloths, changing pads and when you are all done with diapers they are the best cleaning rags. When you first receive these diapers new they need to be prepped in order to absorb properly.  These means doing a complete wash and dry cycle at least 6 times in hot water.  With each continued wash your diapers will continue to increase absorbency.  You may see diapers sold as "prefolds" in some big name stores...these are not very effective at all as diapers.  They contain polyester mixed with cotton and polyester has no ability to absorb liquid.
Work at home mom diapers
I love supporting work at home moms!  There are so many handmade diapers to choose from and these are always made from the cutest fabrics (I have that Volkswagen one above).  My favorite WAHM diaper is the Bagshot Row Bamboo. These are made by a WAHM of 6 kids.  They are made with bamboo and are super soft.  The ones I have are called all in one (AIO) they have a fleece outer cover and a snap in soaker inside to absorb liquid. (no stuffing these diapers!!) Bagshot Row Bamboo (BSRB) can be really hard to get...she lists them once week and they sell out within minutes. They run about $25.
Another great WAHM business is Monkey Snuggles.  This is where I get all my cloth wipes.  I love the size of these wipes because they fit perfectly in plastic wipes container and come in cutest fabrics.  They run about $8 a dozen.  Using cloth wipes makes so much sense to do with cloth diapering.  Disposable wipes are an additional expense and waste.  Putting the wipe inside the diaper and just throwing it in the wash pail with everything in my opinion is easiest and most cost effective way to go.
Accessories and Laundry
These are little bits soap you use to dissolve in hot water and transfer to plastic spray or squirt bottle once cooled.  I use it to wet cloth wipes.  It contains ingredients like olive oil and herbs to soothe and protect babies cute little tushies.
Diaper sprayer is a must.  You won't need it until baby starts eating solid foods because a breastfed baby's poop is totally water soluble and can just be put right in washing machine.  Once that solid food starts you need to spray the poop off the diaper before washing it.  These are super easy to install to your toilet (I did it myself).  The link above has some to choose from but I got mine on eBay for less than $20.
Detergent is super important!  If you use the wrong detergent you could cause huge buildup in your diapers causing them to leak, smell or give your baby a bad rash.  You might think any free and clear detergent from the store would be fine but this is not always true.  These kinds of detergents can cause some of the worst buildup because they contain things like coconut oils which stick to the diaper and is hard to get off.  I am currently using Rockin Green Hard Rock formula because we have really hard water and that can cause diaper buildup as well.  Surprisingly I have used regular Tide original scent powder formula with great success for a long time but Bella has started to seem a little sensitive to this recently so I switched.  Do not ever use fabric softener, Dreft (or any other baby detergent) on your diapers.  They will cause your diapers to stop working by repelling liquid.  There are ways to strip your diapers of buildup.  Hot, hot, hot water (turn water heater up temporarily) on only the inserts helps a lot.  So does this.
Only about a tablespoon or two of detergent is needed.  Never use more than that.
Diaper Cream
Regular diaper cream like Desitin and A&D cannot be used on cloth.  It's impossible to wash out and your diapers will repel liquid.  One approved diaper cream is California Baby but I never found this very good.  I have used baby powder with light rash and it has helped.  If I need to use the cream I just put her in a disposable.
Wetbags and pail liners

The wetbags are used when on the go.  It is a reusable bag that holds any wetness and smell in so nothing else in your bag gets wet or stinky.  These are also great for holding wet bathing suits.  You wash it with the diapers.  Pail liners are basically the same thing just for your pail at home.

Stains and Smells

Bac-Out Stain and Odor Eliminator is best thing for stains and odors! Bac-Out smells amazing and has enzymes that eat away at organic waste and odors.  This stuff is amazing and I use it on carpet and clothing spills too.  It's magic! Did I say it smells amazing too?  Yeah it does. :)

You just spray it on diaper and throw it in pail.  No stinkies :)

How to wash
First, throw all diapers in washer and run rinse cycle only.  This removes all yuckiness so when you go to wash the water they are being washed in is much cleaner.  Next run wash cycle with 1 to 2 tablespoons of detergent on hot water with an extra rinse cycle.  Hang all covers to dry (except first time - run them in dryer once on low-medium heat to seal holes from being sewn)
put all inserts and prefolds etc in dryer or hang to dry.

I know it seems like a lot and I didn't cover every single thing but hopefully I helped navigate a little better in understanding all your options. My biggest advice is don't make it an all or nothing thing especially in the beginning. There is definitely a learning curve and having the option to use disposables when things feel overwhelming will help you stick with it longer. I have always used both and that has worked great for us. I know we have and will save a ton of money. And my first daughter was potty trained at 19 months partly due to the use of cloth. My second daughter is 2 and has yet to potty train but she has been in disposables a lot lately. We are back to cloth and I know she is much more aware of when she is going so we are headed in right direction.

As I mentioned if you are just starting out I recommend starting with the Kawaii diapers.  They are the most affordable and easiest to use for first time users and they work great! If you have any questions about anything let me know. Happy heiny wiping!  


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Lake Harmony

The girls and I spent some time in Lake Harmony this week with some friends.  We had a great time enjoying the beautiful scenery, playing in the lake and enjoying time with friends.

Ava and Bella really enjoyed the water at the lake!

Of course when it came time for her to pee she refused to go in the port o potty.  I can't say I blame her because they are pretty gross but I told her to just pee in the lake and to try and be discreet about it.  Apparently being discreet is a little difficult for a 4 year soon as she sat in the water to go she yells "Ew hot pee pee!" Great work Ava, great work.

Love her pig tails!


My Girls!! 

IPad fun :)

We had such a great time but we were so happy to come home and see Daddy!!

Saturday, August 4, 2012


Ava: "Mommy I am kindful, right?"
Me: "What is kindful?"
Ava: "Kindful means you're nice and nice is awesome!"
Me: "Yes honey, you are very kindful."


One of the reasons I do this blog is to document our life as a family, to remember and to show our children as they grow. It has been awhile since I have posted so I am happy to finally be writing again after a couple months.  These times with the kids are going so fast and I want NEED to remember this stuff!! 

Things seemed to be a little crazy around here lately so Ava and I decided to take some time for the two of us and use the whole day to just be together and reconnect.  I have found myself saying no a lot and I know it isn't always easy to have a little sister around all the time getting at least half my attention all day long. 

So we started the morning off stopping at a few garage sales.  Here are some of Ava's finds...
Remember these?

We got a viewfinder with it which she calls her "camera." 
Total = $0.50

Eggs with shape sorting $0.50

And some of my finds...

The cute little Old Navy Shorts for next summer and a Gap tank top $2.00

Jeep jogging stroller that will be great for our trip to poconos and beach! $13.00

We also got an Ariel for the day $18.00.  We had so much fun finding some great deals and negotiating. 

We then went off to have some lunch at TGI Fridays...

Loves posing for the camera :)

She ordered her own food using all her manners and was so well behaved!  It was great to appreciate her and have great conversations without any distractions.  I learned that her favortie animal is a unicorn and her favorite colors are pink, purple and brown.  I love that she always adds the brown in there because she knows that its one of my favorites too :) I don't know many kids who admit to liking brown.  We talked about going back to school in the fall, how much fun it will be to go to beach for week next month, soccer, swimming ballet, etc. 

After lunch we were off to the movies.  We went to see Disney's Brave.

There were a few scary parts but Ava was very "brave."  It was a great story about the bond between a mother and daughter.  I got a little teary eyed at the end :)

We had such a great day together and after all the stress we have felt over last few days this was exactly what we needed.  Now that I have two strong girls with their own goals, needs, wants and ideas I am learning that it is very important to take the time to give each one of them what they need.  Taking time alone together is something we will value forever...

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Play-a-palooza at Smith Kids' Play Place

Today we took the girls to Smith Kids' Play Place. This place is awesome! They held an opening day celebration and fundraising event for the start of the outdoor playground season called Play-a-palooza.  Smith is located in East Fairmount Park, Philadelphia.  The park and playhouse mansion are free. (Today's event was $10 per child to raise money for support of the facility.)  They have a mansion totally dedicated to play and a huge outdoor play area with so many different kinds of equipment that you can't find anywhere else.  Seriously, this place is awesome.
 The first thing we did was meet the Berenstain Bears!!
Then we went inside the playhouse mansion...
There were some people from the Philadelphia Zoo and we met a bunny rabbit and a hawk.
 Little musician...

In the basement there are a bunch of riding and peddling toys to drive around the "street" and practice your traffic skills...
 Red means stop!!

The reading room...

Sharing some bubble gum water ice...

Potato sack races :) You can also see the playhouse mansion in background...

So fun!!

They also have this enormous wooden slide that you use potato sacks to slide on which helps you to go super fast!
Rock stars!! :)

Our family had so much fun here and we are definitely going back! Who wants to go with us?