green baby goods

going green, right from birth

   Oct 09

Do You Buy Seasonal Diapers?

Fall is in the air, and with it, the diaper makers are popping out with beautiful new ads.  This one is making fancy pumpkin diapers for Halloween—limited edition, so act fast!  That one is already displaying a special Christmas print.  Even if your brand of choice doesn’t have holiday prints, you may be eyeballing a few specific colors this time of year—orange and black for Halloween; brown for Thanksgiving; red and green for Christmas.  After all, there’s that special outfit that you just have to match….

So do you match your diapers to the seasons?  And if you do, do you save them for just that season, or do you go ahead and use them year-round?  What about colors and patterns?  Do you coordinate them to your baby’s outfit?  Or are you of the opinion that they’re there to catch waste products, and as long as they do the job, it doesn’t matter what your child is wearing?

Little girls make this even harder than little boys.  Boys wear pants over their diapers most of the time anyway—no one sees that precious print except the person changing the diaper (usually you).  Girls?  They wear adorable little dresses that allow the diaper to peek out the bottom—so it shows.  And you want your very best diaper to be the one that’s showing, right?

I think that’s what I’m looking forward to most about having a little girl this November:  being able to show off her adorable fluff.  My son runs around in a diaper most of the day when he’s at home—it’s too much effort to change pants all the time, and since he’s decided that he doesn’t like pants with buttons, he has a relatively small supply of things that he can wear right now.  When his sister gets here, if I want, I can dress her in dresses all the time, and that cute little fluffy bum will be peeking out the bottom for the world to see.

It’s a great invitation to talk about cloth with people who might not consider it otherwise.  A great opportunity to show off some of the cutest prints we have.  And honestly, I’m looking forward to it.  Right now, I’m not sure anyone outside of the immediate family, a few good friends, and a handful of nursery workers is aware that we cloth diaper.  When she gets here…oh, they’ll see it, then!

That makes me reconsider my stance on holiday prints.  I had a few Christmas diapers last year, but that was all—and he’s worn them all year.  With little sister arriving, there will be lots more opportunities to show them off.

I might need a Halloween print newborn diaper just in case she shows up a little early….

   Sep 25

What’s With All the Diapers?

Yay—you’re having a baby!  You’ve done your research, and you’ve decided that cloth diapering is definitely, completely, one hundred percent the way you want to go.  You want your baby to be in cloth from the day she comes home from the hospital.  Maybe you have an older child already in cloth, and you figure it’ll be easier to just keep right on doing it.  Maybe you’re terrified of rashes.  Maybe the expense of disposables makes you cringe.

Or maybe you just think that tiny little fluffy bum is the cutest thing you’ve ever seen, and can’t wait until you have one of your own.  Regardless, you have your heart set on fluff, and you don’t see any reason whatsoever to have disposable diapers in your home.

Then you start filling out baby registries.

You attend prenatal classes at the hospital.

You have a baby shower…or two.

And suddenly, there are disposable diapers everywhere.

Huggies diapers.  Pampers diapers.  Store brand diapers.  All of them are sending you samples, or handing them out like candy…one diaper at a time.

But those “one diaper at a time” diapers add up—and suddenly, you’re swimming in them, with no idea of what to do with them!

Do shelters take donations of single diapers?  (Probably, especially if they’re still in the package—and if you don’t need the single diaper, you don’t need the coupons that are packaged with them.)  Can you just box them up and take them to the hospital with you when you have the baby, and donate them to some other mom in need?  Drop them in the trash can unused (ouch!) just to get them out of the way?

Or do you keep them around for “just in case” those precious newborn diapers don’t fit right away, or your child leaks straight through them every time you use them, or you get behind on the diaper laundry and suddenly, there’s not anything in the house to put on your precious little bundle’s bum while you get the laundry done?

My suggestion would be…somewhere in the middle.  Keep a box with all of the diaper samples in it.  If you’re truly committed to 24/7 cloth, whatever your reason might be, don’t even crack open the packages.  You can always take back the full packs later—diapers are pretty much always for sale in just about every big box store—but you don’t want to have to make an emergency run out for them when you’re at the end of your rope, if it comes to that.  Just keep the box around until your baby is at least six to eight weeks old, and you’re over that first postpartum hump.  Then, take them and donate them…or take the big packs back to the store, if you have baby shower gifts from people who didn’t believe that you’d stick with cloth…or drop them off to a friend who’s just had a baby and plans to use them.

Will you use them?  Probably not, especially if this is not your first baby in cloth.  Does it hurt to have them around?  Not at all.  Is it worth having the backup on hand “just in case”?  Probably.

When I swapped to cloth with my older son, I got rid of every disposable diaper in the house.  All of them, even the pack of swim diapers that we’d taken on vacation with us earlier that year.

And then I realized that I was going to have to buy a swim diaper…for the two or three times all summer that he was in a water source with chlorine that requires you to use specifically “swim” diapers (the rest of the time, we use a cheap pocket with the insert removed).  Had I kept the package of swim diapers, it wouldn’t have been an issue—and yes, I would have cheerfully put one on his bum.

Some dads take a little longer to get the hang of cloth diapering.  Grandmas can be even worse at it.  My mother-in-law, for example, once used a fully stuffed pocket diaper over the top of a prefold.  She knew that something wasn’t quite right—she just had no idea how to fix it!  If you have the disposables on hand, you can leave them out for those loving caregivers.  If you don’t, they may have to use trial and error to get it figured out—and that can be a dangerous thing!

Would I spend money on disposable diapers?  Not a chance.  However, all of those samples don’t cost anything—so you might as well get the use out of them if you need them.

   Sep 10

If I Could Cloth Diaper All Over Again

If I could cloth diaper all over again…wow, what a question! I have a truly excessive cloth diaper stash, especially for just one baby (but there’s another one due in November…that makes it okay, right?). I have co-op diapers and name brand diapers and work-at-home-mom made diapers. I have prefolds and covers, fitteds (though mostly fleece fitteds, worn coverless, around the house), pockets, and all-in-ones. I’ve tried sized diapers and one-size diapers…and a huge newborn stash of all sorts of different things for our new little addition.
And I have to say that if I were to start all over again, I would do it much the same way. I would try out a few work-at-home moms with decent prices, decide which ones worked for us and which ones didn’t, and stick with the ones that did (and sell off the ones that didn’t). I would try the big name-brand diapers, figure out which ones were worth the price and which ones were more trouble than they were worth, and again, sell off the ones that I didn’t particularly like. I would try out the cheap China diapers, because there’s no cheaper or easier way to stretch your diaper stash when you’re first starting out. Some of that testing has to take place with every new baby, because different diapers fit differently for different kids. The diaper that is absolutely perfect for my son might not work for another child—even the daughter we have on the way. The diaper that barely works for him might be perfect for another child. I’ve seen this even as Little Man has grown and changed.
On the other hand, if I had to start over from scratch with his stash, since I already know what works for him and what doesn’t, my opinion would be a bit different.
The budget stash. If I were to start all over again from square one on a tight budget, I would design it like this:

Prefolds. Depending on your baby’s size, you’ll have to judge which size prefold to get—but if I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t buy anything bigger than a medium. They trifold beautifully into most standard covers, and they aren’t too bulky. I’d pick up two dozen of these to make up the bulk of my stash, because I’ve discovered that prefolds and covers are easier than pockets for just sheer pull-out-of-the-dryer-and-go value. (Around $50-$100 for two dozen, depending on your brand of preference)

Covers. Five or six would be more than sufficient. There are plenty of brands out there; again, this is a case of “choose what will work best for your baby.” (Around $12-$20 each, for a total of less than $120 for a half dozen)
Pockets. I’d pick up six Kawaii Goodnight Heavy Wetters for overnights and the diaper bag. You only need two for overnights, three if you’re being conservative (eventually, baby is going to poop in that overnight diaper!), but prefolds and covers are intimidating for a lot of caregivers, so having pockets on hand will make changes easier for them. ($11 each; $66 for half a dozen)

Total: $238-$288

The not-so-budget stash.

Prefolds. Yep, I’d still have two dozen of them. I mean it when I say I would cheerfully and happily use prefolds over pockets a lot of days. Pockets come in more fun colors and patterns; covers are easier to use. Plus, in my experience, there are fewer wicking issues with a trifolded prefold in a cover, because all of the absorbent material is well-contained by the PUL…but that may be a personal thing. (Still around $50-$100 for all of the above.)

Covers. Prefolds are kind of useless without them, right? If I were on a semi-limitless budget, I’d have more like ten of these, just for variety/ease of use. ($12-$20 each, for a max of around $200).

Pockets. Pockets are for diaper bags, overnights, and ease of use—I’d have at least a dozen in my stash. ($10-$20 each, for the most part, so around $120-$240)

AIOs. This is the one that would really eat my budget. For sheer ease of use, AIOs can’t be beat. However, they’ll also eat the budget in a hurry, and you have to have more of them because of a longer drying time. If I had it to do over again, especially with what’s soon to be two in diapers, the bulk of my stash would be made up of all-in-ones just because they’re so much easier to deal with. No inserts to pull out; no stuffing to do; and you can always add absorbency as needed. Realistically speaking, my toddler goes through between six and eight diapers per day, and I wash every other day to every three days; Thirsties all-in-ones take at least two days to line dry, so I’d need a total of five days’ worth of diapers to make this my primary diapering method. An average of seven diapers a day times five days is thirty five all-in-ones (though diapers with separate inserts dry better and faster, and drying in the dryer would cut this time significantly). Mixing and matching with the other methods above would also cut this number. ($15-$26 per diaper; $525-$910 for 35)

Fitteds. Fitted diapers are great to have on hand for rash days (air baby out without having to clean up the floor!) and for overnights for heavy wetters. Some of my favorite fitted diapers come from work-at-home moms, but there are some great name brands out there, too. I’d have half a dozen of these in my stash for those days when baby just needs some air (or hot days, especially when we’re at home). ($10-$25 per diaper; $60-$150 for six)
Total: $875-$1600

Keep in mind that the “high” number is having the maximum number of all of these (including a more-than-generous stash of all-in-ones), and that even at these numbers, there are still some serious savings over using disposables. Cloth diapering (obviously) doesn’t have to be expensive; it can also be a lot of fun! (Or, it can become an addiction, and you can hunt down new prints, new patterns, new types of diapers, until you spend far over that budget….)

If I could cloth diaper all over again

   Aug 28

Preparing for a Newborn

Is there anything more exciting than getting ready for a new baby? All the adorable little goodies that you get to buy…all the cute little odds and ends that you “just can’t live without…” and then, of course, there’s the fluff. That’s right: newborn fluff. Cloth diapers and big, fluffy bums are always adorable. Cloth diapers designed for an itty bitty newborn are absolutely, adorably precious.
But where do you start if you’re going to be cloth diapering a newborn? Prefolds and covers sound like a cheap way to go for a stage that they won’t be in for long, but there’s definitely a learning curve on them. All-in-ones look super easy, but the drying time on them is ridiculous. Where on earth do you start?
I have a confession: I didn’t cloth diaper my first two children at all. My third wasn’t cloth diapered until he was five months old. I’ve never cloth diapered a newborn…but baby number four is due in early November, and once she’s here, I plan to report back with plenty of hands-on experience. In the meantime, here’s what we’re doing to prepare.
A little bit of everything. Prefolds and covers, pockets, all-in-ones…I have a few everything in the stash I’m putting together for her. I’ve also included several different brands, just in case. Experience tells me that different babies fit well in different diapers—that’s why there are so many different kinds out there! The one that I love may well be the one that you hate, and vice versa. If they didn’t work for any baby, ever, they wouldn’t stay on the market long. The same is obviously true of newborn diapers: some will just work better on a certain build of baby. Some are designed for teeny tinies; others are designed for great, big, giant chunks with roly poly thighs and chunky waists. So, it’s going to take some experimentation. The good news is, you can often resell newborn diapers for almost what you paid for them, so when you find the one that works best for you, you can sell the ones that don’t to buy more of them.
The numbers game. How many diapers do you really need for a tiny newborn, anyway? Those “in the know” say that a newborn goes through ten to twelve diapers (or more) in a twenty-four hour period, and they poop…a lot. Decide how often you’re going to want to wash—probably every other day—and acknowledge that there will be times when you don’t get the diaper laundry finished in a timely manner because, well, you have a newborn. So, thirty or forty newborn diapers is not an unreasonable number, nor is having a few prefolds and covers on hand for emergencies.
Prep, prep, prep! Diapers don’t just magically become absorbent straight out of the package. Depending on the inner and the insert, they may have to be washed several times before they reach their full absorbency—and you don’t want to discover that they aren’t working well when you’re on your first night home with a newborn who has peed out of every diaper in the house. (That’s when you pull out that pack of disposables that your well-meaning aunt purchased for your baby shower and admit defeat, by the way.) New covers (including pockets and all-in-ones) often need one trip through the dryer to seal the tiny needle holes in the PUL from when the diaper was put together. Hemp and bamboo need to be washed several times (separately from your microfiber and cotton) before they reach their full absorbency. Test all of this before you come home with the newborn. Really.
If you’ve never cloth diapered before, pull out a doll. Or a stuffed animal. Or, if you’re really lucky and have an obliging friend, borrow a baby. Practice finding where those snaps go. Take the time to look at the leg holes and the fit around the waist. If you’re using prefolds or flats, practice—over and over again—until you’re fairly sure you can slap it together and get it on a squirming creature before they pee all over the changing table. It never hurts to be prepared ahead of time!

   Aug 14

When Washing Machines Self-Destruct

They tell me I’m lucky. The transmission on the washing machine just locked up, instead of exploding engine parts and spewing oil over all of the clothes in my washer. I’ll take the “luck” for what it’s worth, since all of my maternity jeans were in it at the time, and I kind of need those. However…having to buy a new washer is inconvenient. Having to buy a new washer and wait for it to come in is even more inconvenient.
Needless to say, this week has been a learning experience.
How long can you really go without doing diaper laundry? Surely not the week it took for my new washer to be delivered—not with stinky toddler poop and no pre-rinse system in place. I’ve stretched to four days before…five maybe once or twice…but any more than that is a little scary. Four days is really, really pushing it, and makes for a stinky diaper pail.
Not only that…what about the rest of the laundry? Kids go through clothes. Lots of clothes. So do husbands. There are sheets that need to be washed…towels that need to be washed…things need to be taken care of.
Without a washer in your home, how do you keep up with any of it? That means that the washer has to be replaced sooner rather than later…but who has the knowledge stored up to replace an appliance on the fly?
First, I hopped online and did some research. I knew that cloth-diapering mamas as a whole tend to intensely dislike HE machines, so I knew I didn’t want one of those. I had a very specific price range to work within. My dad will pick up and install large appliances for me if I ask nicely, so I didn’t have to worry about delivery fees; that meant that I could go with the best deal, period, instead of having to factor that in.
I read reviews. I checked out the brands that I already know work well for us. Mom’s is a GE, and she’s gotten very good use of it out of the last two years; but she does around twelve loads of laundry a month. I do that many most weeks. I need a washer that will hold up to a lot of wear and tear…and yes, even a little bit of abuse.
The washing machine salesman tells me that my clothing will not get as clean if I wash too much at once. Just because the load size says it goes to Super doesn’t mean I should use the Super setting. That’s great…but I have a lot of small children and a lot of clothes that are only “dirty” in the sense that they have been worn. Sometimes, the Super load gets used for more than just my comforter, and I needed a washer that would hold up to that.
So I went to the mommy boards. I asked for recommendations on Facebook. I checked reviews online. Then, I let the washing machine salesman tell me that he’d been doing this for forty years and knew a lot about washers, and then I ignored half of what he said because in my practical experience and that of the mamas I talked to, it wasn’t necessarily as true as he wanted it to be.
If I had to issue one piece of advice about buying a new appliance, it would be that one: do your research. If I hadn’t, I likely would have walked out of Sears with an HE washer, and I would have ended up hating it.
Then the waiting game started. Of course, the washer I chose wasn’t in stock. It took a week for it to come in.
I think the “oh, crap, this is going to suck” look I gave the salesman made him feel guilty for not being able to magically produce my washer.
I’m very lucky. My mom lives in the basement, and she has her own washer downstairs, which, in case of emergency, she will allow me to use. Diapers that haven’t been washed for three days and can’t be put in my washer constitute an emergency. However…I’m also six months pregnant, with a tiny tot sitting on my sciatic nerve. Hauling hampers full of laundry up and down the stairs isn’t high on my list of fun things to do. So…I got a little behind. Diaper laundry got done. The rest of it…not so much.
So how do you get caught back up?
First and foremost, trying to do it all in one day is a recipe for disaster. Around here, because of a very strangely run septic system, too many loads of laundry in a row will cause flooding of the downstairs bathroom; but more than that, trying to get it all done will make for a crazy person.
Personally, I’m prioritizing. I have to have jeans. I’ve been out of jeans for three days, because I only have two pairs of maternity jeans at the moment, and of course the first thing I did after my washer stopped working was squirt ketchup all over one pair of them. My husband (bless his heart) is of the opinion that he needs socks and underwear. Those made it into the second load. The three sets of sheets that need to be washed thanks to my toddler peeing straight through his diaper? Those can wait. If he sleeps on top of a blanket thrown over the bed, they can wait a few more days. On the other hand, he does need clothes. Those will probably need to be done today, too. The rest of it will wait until tomorrow…or even next week.
Though at some point, my older son would probably appreciate it if I managed to get some of his laundry done, too. It’s just hard to tell what really needs to be done, and what sort of landed in his laundry pile because he didn’t want to have to put it up correctly…so he goes way down on the priority list.
I can still be catching up on laundry sometime next month, right?

   Jul 30

What’s in Your Diaper Bag?

One of the hardest things for a new mom to master is packing a diaper bag. There are so many things that you use for your baby when you’re just around the house—don’t you need them when you’re out, too? And what if you run out of something important? If you’re cloth diapering, you can’t just duck into the nearest big box store and grab another box of diapers. Many babies have more clothes than they could ever possibly need…but how many of them do you actually take with you? If you’re not careful, you can end up hauling a suitcase around with you—and still not having what you “need.”
Here’s the first thing to keep in mind: unless you’re planning to be out for a really long time—an entire day, for example—your baby probably isn’t going to suffer from anything that you failed to bring. If you happen to lose the last pacifier, you might regret it for a while; but the fact of the matter is, you’ll all likely survive the experience. On the other hand, there are some things that will make your excursion from the house a little bit easier.
Diapering supplies. For a cloth diapering mama, this is going to the bulk of your diaper bag. For a newborn, you’ll want one diaper for every hour you’ll be gone, plus one extra. For an older baby, one diaper for every two hours, plus one extra, will likely be sufficient. A receiving blanket or two will double as a changing pad. You’ll also need a wet bag sufficient to hold the diapers you anticipate using while you’re out, and wipes.
Many moms find that it’s easier to use disposable wipes on the go. If you prefer to stick with cloth, then either pack a separate wet bag of already dampened wipes, or be sure to include a spray bottle of water or wipe solution.
Feeding supplies. If you’re breastfeeding, here’s the great news: you already have everything you need, just by virtue of the fact that you’re going with your baby. Obviously, if you’re leaving your baby with someone else, you’ll need to be sure that they have expressed milk, probably already in pre-measured bottles in a cold bag with a freezer pack. If you’re planning to keep your baby with you, you may want a nursing cover. Since these can be expensive (and not every baby will tolerate one), keep in mind that a receiving blanket (especially a bigger one) also makes a great cover-up.
If you’re formula feeding, you’ll need to look at how long you plan to be gone, and include formula (premeasured powder in the bottle or another container is easiest, followed by dropping a small can in the bag), bottles, and water, if you’re mixing. Tossing a bottle of water into the diaper bag ensures that you have plenty on hand to make formula if you need to. If you’re planning to be gone for a while, including an extra bottle will help ensure that you don’t get stuck with a hungry baby.
Extras. Pacifiers for soothing—keep an extra one of these in the diaper bag at all times. Include at least one extra outfit for baby; if they’re prone to spitting up, you may want two to three outfits, several bibs, and even an outfit for you. As your baby gets older, you’ll want a toy or two to entertain them (though they will be more entertained by your keys, things on the table, etc.). It also never hurts to have a couple of grocery bags or ziplock bags tucked into the side of your bag just in case.
A trip out of the house doesn’t require a luggage bag—just some forethought. Practice makes perfect, too. Over time, you’ll discover that there are some things that you just aren’t using; those can be left at home. On the other hand, there are some things that you will find yourself wanting when you’re out; those, you can go ahead and toss in. Everyone has a different idea of what they will and will need (I tend to be pretty minimalist; on the other hand, I have a friend who travels with everything but her kitchen sink), so figure out what works best for you!

   Jul 16

How to Keep a Toddler Busy

All right, I admit it: I’m a skeptic by nature. I explore Pinterest with an eye, not so much to what looks interesting, but to what is actually practical both of me (and my limited crafting ability) and my kids. I don’t like “kid” projects that take more time and attention from me to set up than they do for the kids to actually perform. I don’t like kid activities that last for less than ten minutes in general. And I’m not a big fan of crafts that don’t have any actual use except as a seasonal decoration or a party favor (which might be why they never put me in charge of crafts at VBS).
So understand that if I’m telling you about a fun Pinterest project, I’m telling you about a fun Pinterest project that actually worked for my family.
Colored rice is apparently all the rage this year. It makes great “sand” art (that’s another one of those craft projects that just turns into clutter later). It’s an awesome sensory material. It’ll keep your toddler entertained!
Yeah. Sure it will. For about the three seconds it takes for him to turn the entire box over on the kitchen floor, and then he will move on to something even more destructive.
However…I was intrigued. I also had a huge bag of rice that I’d picked up around Christmas time to make heating pads for friends and family, and ended up not needing. (I used one huge bag…just not the second one.) I also had some extra time while the kids were eating breakfast one morning, so…why not?
I gathered up the ingredients: vinegar, food coloring, rice. (So far, this isn’t too bad. I have all of those things actually in my house already!) I dug out several bowls. If you’re planning to do this yourself, there’s a lot to be said for stainless steel mixing bowls—food coloring doesn’t stain them. Plastic is probably going to end up tinted funny colors for a while.
One tablespoon of vinegar per bowl. Yep…still easy. Okay, fine, so I cheated and used the lid. Close enough to a tablespoon, right? Six or so drops of food coloring on top of the vinegar. Mix. Still going fairly smoothly. About a cup of rice added, and…stir.
Huh. I can do…all of that, actually, it turns out, and it takes about ten minutes—even with six different colors. Sweet!
I mixed…and mixed…not a lot of difficulty here. My ten-year-old son did one or two of the bowls for me. Once it was all mixed up, we spread it out on a baking sheet to dry. The tutorial I used warns that this might take a while; my experience was that it was ready to play with in an hour, and if it wasn’t, the worst that was going to happen was that the kids would end up with rainbow hands.
Now for the real test: the toddler.
I poured all of the rice—all six colors—into a big plastic box. As I was doing this, the toddler was watching me avidly, waiting for the moment when he could get his hands all over it. So…why not? No time like the present, right?
I set it down on the floor in front of him…and he didn’t just turn it over and run away. In fact, he didn’t turn it over at all.
He patted it. He squeezed it in his hands. He poured it out—even mostly in the box! I had figured I’d need to add measuring cups or something just to keep him interested, but he was just fine with the rice and the box.
Then big brother got in on the fun.
This colored rice activity has got to be the first time I’ve ever seen my boys willingly play with anything together. They’re ten and (almost) two, so their usual interactions include, “Don’t touch that!” and “PLEASE?” (said at the top of the lungs in whiny toddler voice). The closest they come to playing together voluntarily, unless the ten-year-old has been told to entertain him for just a minute while Mommy takes a shower, is when the big one starts building a block tower in the middle of a floor that isn’t his bedroom, and the little one decides to send it crashing down.
And yet for this, they played together, nicely, whether I was in the room or not. I actually did walk out of the room for a while. Thirty minutes later, they finally decided that they were tired of the colored rice, and I went in to clean up.
It was a two-minute sweep-up. Most of the rice was still in the box.
So let me get this straight: easy to set up; reusable; easy cleanup…and they loved it? I’ll call this one a Pinterest hit!

   Jul 04

Beginning Your Cloth Diapering Journey

That first experience with cloth diapers is always a little bit intimidating. You’ve done your research…you’ve looked into a hundred different aspects of it…and yet somehow, when the moment comes to actually start using cloth, you’re a little bit worried.
What do you do first? How do you use these things? And is that great big wad of fluff really going to go on your tiny baby’s bum?
Before you start cloth diapering (at least if you intend to do it full time), there are a couple of things you should have. First, a good starter stash consists of at least 20 diapers (or 5-6 covers and around two dozen prefolds, though a newborn may need more covers). You’ll want to have a cloth-safe rash cream on hand—CJ’s BUTTer is a good place to start. You’ll need a wet bag or two to carry in your diaper bag, and a pail liner—best to have two of these, too, since you’ll need to wash one every time you wash your diapers. You need cloth safe detergent. Once you have those things, you should be ready to begin!
So…now what?
Try out your first diaper. Hopefully, you’ve picked up more than just one brand of diaper to experiment with for the first time. You don’t want to discover after you’ve already bought two dozen brand new Thirsties or Fuzzibunz that those are the diapers that just don’t work for your baby! This first time, you may need to fiddle with it a little bit to get a good fit. If you’re starting with an old baby, it may take a diaper or two before you even know what rise snap works best for your baby, much less the other snaps! Don’t worry—this is normal. If you’re experimenting with flats or prefolds, try an easy fold first—and you might want to practice on a doll before you try it on your baby.
Once the diaper is on, set your baby down and let them play. Sooner or later (sooner if you’re busy, later if you’re hoping they’ll get it over with fast), your baby will pee.
What happened?
Is the diaper wet, but the rest of the baby’s clothes dry? Excellent. You did well! If the baby’s clothes are wet, however, you may want to back up and try again. Check the fit of the legs: are they too loose? Did some of the white inner fabric roll out, causing wicking? Troubleshoot, and try again! The good thing about cloth diapering is that you have plenty of opportunities to fix whatever went wrong. If one brand of diapers seems to leak more than others, it’s possible that the diaper just isn’t a good fit for your baby. Some are designed more for chubby babies; others work better for smaller ones. Find the one that works best for you!
Eventually, the baby will also have a poopy diaper. This is when you really find out whether or not this diaper is a good fit for you. Was the poop contained in the diaper? Then it’s a good diaper! Did the poop escape? Where did it escape? Leg holes can be a fit issue, while poop up the back can mean that you need a tighter fit, or better elastic at the back to contain messes.
Keep trying, and keep troubleshooting. There are lots of cloth diaper chats on Facebook that will help you out if you need it, and remember that it’s a learning process. A year from now, you’ll wonder what you ever thought was so difficult about this cloth thing.

   Jun 19

Whipped Coconut Oil

If you ask a board full of cloth diapering moms what to use for a rash, a good three or four of the first five answers you get are likely to be, “Coconut oil.”  It’s not just for diaper rashes, either.  Moms recommend it for everything from dry skin, to sunscreen, to using it as a weight loss supplement.  In theory, that’s great.  It’s readily available in most areas; it’s relatively cheap; and it sounds easy…right?

Then you get it home for the first time and realize the problem with that:  coconut oil is solid at room temperature.  It’s not too bad in the summer, when leaving it in the window sill is likely to melt it down; but what if you don’t have a readily available window sill?  Or, worse still, what if it’s the middle of winter and you need coconut oil for your baby with every diaper change?

Here’s an easy solution for you:  whip it!  Take your coconut oil—probably at least a cup of it; more if you have some to spare, less if you’re a little short.  Dump it in your mixing bowl of choice.  Don’t melt it first—it won’t whip properly unless it’s in its solid state.  Your best option is to use a stand mixer, but hey, you use what you’ve got.  Now, turn it on.  The whisk attachment is best for this; but if your kids are like mine, the whisk attachment is one of the most fun things in the world to play with…which means that it’s never available when you want it.  The regular paddle attachment for your stand mixer will suffice if necessary.

Leave it on for around 5-7 minutes.  Feel free to take this time to wander around and do other things—but if you have the time, you can sit and watch the magic!  Your coconut oil will go from being utterly solid to attaining the whipped consistency of body butter.  Once it’s thoroughly whipped up, spoon it into the container of your choice—old baby food jars work great for this.  Just be careful if that’s what you’re using around your changing table!

Now, when you reach for coconut oil, it’s a great consistency to use.  It will probably (depending on temperature) solidify more over time; but in its whipped form, it will be much easier to get out of the container and onto your baby in a hurry.

Oh, and as an added bonus…when you’re done putting all this coconut oil into jars and cleaning up the excess, your hands will be very, very soft.

   Jun 03

Make Your Own Mosquito Trap (Pinterest Project Review)

We have been plagued by mosquitos this year.  They’re always bad; but this particular year, they’ve been worse than ever.  My toddler goes outside, and he comes back covered from head to toe in tiny little red bites.  The big kids never stop scratching.  And my poor husband can’t walk outside without getting bitten—which wouldn’t be quite so bad, except that he’s extra-allergic to mosquitos, so those “little” bites blow up into huge welts.

I don’t like the idea of putting bug spray on the kids—especially little one.  I especially don’t like the idea of breathing it in myself, since I’m 18 weeks pregnant.  And candles or torches burning in the back yard with my mischievous, into-everything toddler outside…it just didn’t sound like a good idea.

Then I came across this idea on Pinterest:

I was skeptical.  It can’t be that easy.  Surely if it were that easy, I would have heard of this before now.

But, hey…the ingredients were things I already had on hand:  just a soda bottle, a little bit of brown sugar, some yeast, and water.  I even (for once) had the soda bottle, since we’d had a group of friends over just a few nights before, and they’d brought two-liters.   It would take ten minutes, and it was a nice science project for the kids.  Couldn’t hurt to try, right?

So we did.

I will say, it’s completely right about how easy it is; and once you cut the soda bottle apart, it fits quite nicely back together.  It took less than ten minutes to make, all told; and the big kids were fascinated by the idea that they could reduce the number of mosquitos in the back yard.  Plus, it kept them busy for a good…oh, ten or fifteen minutes, at least, by the time they made it, put it out there, and stared at it as if they were hoping that the mosquitos would start magically flocking to it.

The Verdict:  It’s not a bad idea, and it did decrease our mosquito population by a little, but I didn’t have nearly the blacked-out-the-bottle kind of results it shows on the original website.  We had a lot of rain in the week or so following the project, too, so it probably decreased our results.  Will I keep doing it?  Probably.  Did I kill enough mosquitos to believe that our yard will be magically mosquito-free by mid-summer?  Not by a long shot.  The kids are still getting eaten alive, unfortunately, so we’re still looking for some natural alternatives.

I think my next attempt is going to involve covering the kids in natural mosquito repellants.  I hear peppermint oil works well….