Archive for the 'Cloth Diapers' Category

Cloth Diaper Tutorial, Part 4

July 21st, 2007 by MamaBear

Now that you’ve learned about diaper pails, cloth wipes, some of the different types of cloth diapers and how to wash them, you’re going to learn how us crazy cloth-diapering mamas leave the house. Behold, my arsenal:


From left to right: backpack, water bottle, three cloth diapers, cloth wipes, two “wet bags.”

The two “wet bags” are where I put my dirty diapers when on the go. I change the baby like I normally do and just stick the dirty diaper and used cloth wipes in the “wet bag.” If I forget to put my washable “wet bag” in the diaper bag, I make sure I always pack a gallon-sized zipper style plastic bag. In a pinch, I could always use a plastic bag from a store and tie it with a knot. When I get home, I dump the contents of the “wet bag” in the diaper pail. I never have to touch anything any more so than if I were using disposable diapers.

I carry the water bottle around for two reasons: (1) I like to always have water to drink, especially since I’m lactating, and (2) if there’s no sink with which to wet the cloth wipes, I can always squirt the clean cloth wipes with water from my bottle. I keep refilling the same bottle with filtered water from the tap to cut down on waste.

In addition to the above items, I also pack: a travel diaper changing pad (got it free at the hospital after I gave birth), a blanket, a change of clothes for BabyBear, and a baby bottle with breast milk + formula in it (she refuses to breastfeed, and if I could fill the bottle with only breast milk, I would — I’ll go into that in more detail when I chronicle my breastfeeding saga in the near future). I don’t usually pack diaper cream because it may ruin the fleece (the white inside part) in the AIO pocket diapers by making it repellant. (It may not ruin it forever, though, so don’t fret if this happens to you. Stripping the diapers could fix the problem.)

I don’t use a traditional diaper bag because I like to pretend I’m still in college when I’m schlepping my baby around in public. Actually, I just think it’s practical. The one-strap diapers bags, as cute as some of them might be, are kind of cumbersome and weigh me down on one side. With a backpack (nothing fancy, just a regular old backpack), I can have both hands free for holding the baby. When we flew to Florida, I had my baby in a Moby wrap in front and put my backpack on my back and I still had my hands free to roll my luggage around in the airports.

Read more about cloth diapers at these other great cloth diapering resources:

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Cloth Diaper Tutorial, Part 3

July 17th, 2007 by MamaBear

Now that you’ve read Part I and Part II, you should know all about cloth wipes, diaper pails, and how to wash dirty diapers and wipes.

Part III is about the cloth diapers themselves. When most people think of cloth diapers, they think of large white cotton rectangles which need to be folded and then pinned onto the baby and then covered by plastic pants.

I’ve been cloth diapering my baby for over ten months, and I’ve never used pins. There are safer and easier options for fastening diapers onto the baby now, so I have no desire nor inclination to learn how to use pins. I know a lot of people who cloth diaper that like using them, and I have a lot of respect for those people, but personally, I don’t like the idea of sharp metal objects near my baby.

For those of you who are used to the convenience of disposable diapers but would like to start using cloth for your baby, fear not. There are cloth diapers that are made to be as easy to use as disposables are. They’re called all-in-ones, or AIOs. Sometimes, they’re called pocket all-in-ones, or pocket AIOs. Here are two examples:

Happy Heinys, inside and outside views

I’ve pictured two views: inside and outside, to give you a better idea of what these types of diapers look like. The two pictured here are called Happy Heinys, and they can be found pretty much anywhere online where cloth diapers are sold. I bought mine at Full Circle Baby, a WAHM-owned diaper shop here in Texas.

The great thing about pocket AIOs is that these diapers don’t need plastic pants or diaper covers at all. The waterproof layer is already built into the diaper. That’s why they’re called “all-in-one”s. Happy Heinys are called pocket diapers because they have a pocket which you need to stuff an absorbent cloth into before putting the diaper on the baby. The pocket design was invented to shorten drying time in the dryer. If you use pocket diapers, you need to remember to take the absorbent cloth out of the pocket before you put the dirty pocket diaper and absorbent cloth into the diaper pail. This is a picture of a (clean) pocket diaper already stuffed with an absorbent cloth:

Happy Heiny stuffed with Indian prefold

You can use any absorbent cloth, even a shop towel if you want to be thrifty. It won’t hurt anything, though some people claim it’ll increase pilling in the fleece layer (the white part) of pocket diapers. I stuffed the above diaper with a prefold diaper.

What’s a “prefold diaper?” This:

Indian unbleached prefold

It’s a rectangular diaper made of several layers of absorbent cotton twill folded and sewn together so that the middle layer is thicker than the two side layers. Some people use prefold diapers with a fastener called a Snappi to diaper their babies. Other people use pins to fasten their prefolds. While I don’t have any experience with pins, I have used Snappis. They’re relatively easy to use, but I prefer the ease of Aplix (think: Velcro but much higher quality) and snaps, so most of the time I used fitted cloth diapers or pocket AIOs.

What’s a fitted cloth diaper? A fitted cloth diaper is a diaper with its own fasteners (usually snaps or Aplix) that is contoured and has elastic sewn in the legs and back (and sometimes the front) so that it fits the baby well and doesn’t let any poop explosions out. It does, however, need a cover over it to keep the baby’s clothes (and your own) from getting soggy. Here’s a picture of a fitted diaper:

Kissaluvs size 0, fitted diaper

The above diaper is a Kissaluvs size 0. The upper limit for weight on that diaper is officially 15 pounds, but my almost eleven month old is 20 pounds and they still fit her (on the loosest snap). They are the only diapers we own that we’ve used on her since she was born. Here she is wearing one:

Kissaluvs size 0 on 20 lb wiggly baby

We only wear them around the house for two reasons: (1) they’re not absorbent enough for leaving the house, and (2) I like to be able to know when she is wet immediately so that I can change her diaper as soon as she goes. For this, I put a fitted diaper on her without a diaper cover. This way I can tell she’s wet as soon as she goes, and I change her right then. Often when she’s wearing a cover or pocket AIO (and especially if she’s wearing a disposable, which we have done for travel on an airplane), it’s harder to tell when she’s wet. I’ve made a conscious effort since she was born to try and preserve her innate feeling of cleanliness and dryness by changing her as soon as she becomes wet or dirty so that potty training will be easier for all of us when it’s time.

(If you’re about to tell me about Elimination Communication and how great it’s been for you, please comment with your story. I would love to read it. Know, though, that I’ve researched it thoroughly, tried it and it did not work out for me. I’ve had to pump continuously with a very low supply since the baby was born and I just could not devote the time I wanted to to EC. I did get her to pee in the potty once, after a nap, when she was about six months old, but after that I haven’t had a repeat.)

Stay tuned for Part IV: Leaving the house with cloth diapers

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Cloth Diaper Tutorial, Part 2

July 14th, 2007 by MamaBear

Now that you’ve read part I of the cloth diaper tutorial, you’re familiar with cloth wipes and diaper pails. Now you’re ready for the part people dread the most about cloth diapers: washing.

A lot of people like to soak their diapers and then wash. Others, lazy like me, wash them twice. It uses the same amount of water as soaking-then-washing and almost the same amount of electricity (the difference is negligible), but it has the added benefit of agitation thrown in. I like to wash the first time in cold water to help reduce staining and wash away all the solid matter (translation: poop). The second wash is done hot to get the diapers really clean. You don’t want to do both washes with hot water because hot water on poopy diapers may set the stains in.

Let’s begin. Washing cloth diapers is actually very easy. Ideally, you wouldn’t wait until your diaper pail looks like this:

overfilled diaper pail

However, even if it does, it’s still no problem to wash them. Just take the liner out of the diaper pail and carry it over to the washing machine you’ll be washing the diapers in.

Open the washing machine and dump the dirty diapers into it like so:

loading dirty diapers into washer

Notice how my hands don’t touch a single diaper. Once the bag is empty, turn it inside out (again, you can do this without ever touching the yucky inside part) and throw it in the wash as well:

dirty diapers in washer

Now, add the detergent. I recommend using a detergent that has no colors or fragrance added and that is preferably vegetable-based. One detergent I’ve been using for years which fits all these characteristics is Seventh Generation Free & Clear. I’ve also used Ecover (even though it has a slight fragrance), Charlie’s Soap, Oxy-Prime, Allen’s Naturally, and Method free and clear. My favorite for diapers is Allen’s Naturally. My second favorite would have to be a tie between Seventh Generation Free and Clear and Ecover (even though some people don’t recommend Ecover for diapers, I’ve found it to be quite effective). Allen’s Naturally is expensive and can be a hassle to find (though it is worth the money), but Seventh Generation Free & Clear and Ecover can be locally bought, which makes them more convenient and affordable. I do not recommend: Oxy-Prime (super-expensive, the company that sells it surprises you with very costly shipping after you enter your credit card information, and the product is nothing to write home about either), Charlie’s Soap (has a weird natural gas smell to it once you put it in the wash which is a little alarming), nor Method free and clear (leaves a residue and diapers don’t feel clean after washing). This site has detergent recommendations but I followed some of those recommendations (like the aforementioned Oxy-Prime, which comes highly recommended on the pinstripes and polka dots site) and found them not to my liking, which makes me think that maybe the ratings do not work out for everyone the same way. The site does mention that “Even from the recommended detergents all of the detergents may not be compatible with your water or washing routine,” so the ratings do take these possible differences into account. Overall, though, it’s an excellent diaper detergent rating site (the only one I know of), so it’s definitely worth a look.

Anyway, for our tutorial, I’m using Seventh Generation Free and Clear. I don’t use the recommended amount. I only use about half of a capful, sometimes even less:

not much detergent

The detergent goes in along with a dash of baking soda, say, 1/4 cup (you don’t need to measure it; just pour a bit in). Do not use bleach. It is not necessary for getting diapers clean and over time it will break down the fibers in your diapers. Set the water temperature to “cold” and the wash cycle to “regular.” Close the lid and start the machine.

After the cold cycle is done, run another regular wash, but this time, switch the water temperature to “hot.” Both times the diapers are washing, you can be doing all kinds of other things. It’s just like washing anything else in your washing machine.

When the diapers are finished with their second wash, remove the Bummis bag from the washing machine and hang it up to dry (I accidentally dried one in the dryer once and had it come out fine, but the washing recommendations are to hang it up to dry). Transfer the clean wet diapers to your dryer or line-dry them. The time for drying in the dryer varies. Experiment and find what works for you. Sometimes if you put in a load of washed diapers into the dryer with some clean dry towels, it speeds up the drying process. Line-drying in the sun is free and may help reduce or eliminate stains.

Important note:

Some people are understandably squeamish about putting poopy diapers in their washing machine, but here’s the key thing to remember: it’s a washing machine. It washes not only the diapers but itself in the process. It’s not like you pull out clean diapers when it’s done and find that the inside of your washing machine has been smeared with feces. Look, I’ll show you:

clean washing machine

This photo was taken immediately after finishing a diaper wash. The rust stains and the spilled baking soda notwithstanding, the inside of my washing machine is as pristine as yours.

Cloth Diaper Tutorial, Part III.

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Cloth Diaper Tutorial, Part 1

July 13th, 2007 by MamaBear

I use cloth diapers on my baby. I often encounter people who are interested in using cloth for their babies but for some reason feel intimidated by it, so they continue with disposables. I created this picture tutorial to help those unfamiliar with cloth diapers to see that they are really very easy.

With either disposable or cloth diapers, you will have to clean the baby’s butt when it’s poopy. No getting around that. Disposable diapers don’t make that problem go away, so in that regard, disposables and cloth are almost identical. It’s important to point that out because a lot of people would have you think differently, like cloth is somehow more gross and involved and that disposables are more hygienic and sanitary. Don’t fall for the marketing hype created by Proctor & Gamble (maker of Pampers and Luvs) and perpetuated by Kimberly-Clark (maker of Huggies). Like paper plates and plastic utensils, it’s nice to have them available sometimes, but why use them every day when the real thing is so much better?

First item on the tutorial agenda: wipes.

Most, if not all, disposable wipes contain water as the main ingredient, and then a bunch of other ingredients intended as preservatives so that mold doesn’t grow on the moist wipes, maybe some moisturizing agents (like aloe vera or aloe vera plus some other junk you can’t really pronounce), surfactants for a soapy feel, and other questionable ingredients to help convince you that you “need” the disposable ones. (Hint: you don’t need them.)

There’s nothing magical about disposable wipes. They don’t disinfect the diaper area (that might do more harm than good, actually). They don’t clean any better than a washcloth would (their flimsy paper makes a messier clean-up job and uses up more disposable wipes than if you were to just use cloth). Also, and this is most important of all, disposable wipes leave a chemical residue on your baby’s sensitive skin. This residue could cause allergies, exacerbate skin conditions like eczema, and exposes the baby to chemicals that may cause problems in the future. For something that’s supposed to get you clean, disposable wipes don’t seem to do a very good job of it.

Cloth wipes, however, can get your baby truly clean without any questionable chemicals. You can use baby wash cloths, regular wash cloths, flannel cut up into large squares, old-fashioned flatfold diapers… Just about anything you can think of to wipe off a baby butt with can be used as a cloth wipe. And water. That’s right, plain old water. Some moms like to use a little natural soap mixed with water on one cloth wipe and then do a wipe-rinse with water on another wipe before drying the baby off and putting a fresh diaper on, but plain old water on a cloth wipe will do the trick just as well. Here are some examples of cloth wipes:

cloth wipes

The above cloth wipes have been used for dozens of poopy diaper changes, yet none of them are stained or dirty. I never use bleach to wash my diapers or wipes either. The photo is unretouched. The little spot you see to the right of the blue washcloth is a piece of stubborn lint, which you can find in pretty much anything made of cloth you already own.

Okay, so how do you clean a baby’s butt with a cloth wipe? The same way you do with a disposable one, except that when you’re done, you throw the cloth wipe along with the dirty diaper in the diaper pail and not in the garbage.

What is a diaper pail? Here is one of those scary, intimidating terms that gets some people running for the hills. I’m going to break it down in a way that will hopefully demystify the term forever: a diaper pail is simply any container where you put your dirty diapers and wipes in. A lot of people find that a regular garbage can with a step-on lid works really, really well as a diaper pail. Like this one:

stainless steel diaper pail

The above step-on garbage can cost about $30 at Wal-Mart. It’s stainless steel, but you can use a cheaper plastic one as well.

It is important to line your diaper pail, the same way you would line your garbage can with a plastic bag, lest you throw your dirty diapers directly into the can and create a whole lotta mess for yourself. I like to line mine with a washable Bummis bag. I own two of them. That way one can be in the pail while the other is in the wash. I do not recommend using a disposable plastic garbage bag for this as it is very flimsy and would actually make things harder (and possibly more expensive) in the long run. However, if you choose to use disposable plastic bags to line your diaper pail while using cloth diapers instead of disposables, it’s probably still a lot less wasteful than if you were to use disposables.

(There are two types of diaper pails: dry and wet. I prefer, use, and recommend the dry. A dry diaper pail is essentially just a container to hold the dirty diapers. Period. A wet pail is a container into which you’ve put a small amount of water and maybe baking soda or vinegar (but not both together because they’ll react with each other and create salt and water). I do not recommend using a wet pail because it creates a drowning danger for small children, plus it may break down the fibers in your cloth diapers before their time.)

We made the error of buying Bummis bags that were too short for our diaper pail, so we had to improvise and place a platform inside the pail to support the bag so that it wouldn’t fall in with the weight of the diapers. You may not have to do this if you buy the right size bag for your pail, but I’ll show you a picture of what the inside of our diaper pail looks like anyway just in case you make the same mistake. For our platform we used a big block of styrofoam we would have otherwise thrown away. It was part of the packaging from something we bought, so it’s what we had. We’re keeping it out of the landfill for now, so it’s recycling at its best:

platform inside diaper pail

This is what the diaper pail looks like with a Bummis liner in place:

diaper pail with liner

Now it is ready to receive the poopiest, smelliest diapers and cloth wipes any baby could ever produce. As long as the lid is closed, you can’t smell anything. No perfumes, bleach, disinfectant sprays, Febreze (the bane of my existence), dryer sheets, deodorizing tablets or sprays are necessary, though many companies would have you think otherwise. Just a simple step-lid garbage can with a washable Bummis bag is all you need to get started in your cloth diaper endeavor.

Cloth Diaper Tutorial, Part II.

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