We are Cloth Diapering!

We have switched to cloth diapers for Cricket for night time!

When the Grasshopper was near potty training (around 2), we had to switch to cloth at night.  Not even the heavy-duty overnight disposables could make it through the night without major leaks.  When that happened, I called up my good friend Jess who owns a cloth diaper store and wrote a fantastic guest post for me last year on cloth diapering.

Jess got me set up right away with bamboo fitteds and PUL covers.  For those not in the know, fitteds refer to a simple diaper shaped cloth… well, diaper.  It’s all cloth (in this case bamboo), and so to prevent leaks, you need a cover over it.  The PUL is the leak-proof material that the cover is made from.

Fitteds are awesome (and please just pretend I know what I’m talking about here) because they’re super absorbent and can hold a whole lot of pee.  They worked fabulously for Miss Grasshopper, and our days of changing sheets every night became a thing of the past.

Cricket has reached the point of diaper leaking much sooner.  I suspect this is probably because she nurses through the night every night where the Grasshopper slept through from a much earlier age.

I am tired of changing sheets every day, and thankfully my husband is too.  Because of this, he has agreed to try cloth diapering at night for Miss Cricket.  I was so excited to get out the sweet bamboo fitteds and the covers again.  I was pretty worried though.  Would they even fit?  We bought those for a 2-year-old!

Well, I’m happy to report that at 9 months, my freakishly large and adorable baby fits into her sisters 2-year-old diapers without a problem.  We’ve had her in cloth since Sunday night with nary a leak.

It will be a little different this time around.  The Grasshopper was 2 and not wetting every night.  By that point she was well on her way to potty training.  Cricket, obviously, is not potty trained.  This means my meagre stash of 3 fitteds and 2 covers is not going to cut it.

I need more diapers!

I’ve also decided to switch from the PUL covers to wool.  Unlike the plastic, wool breathes.  This is important going into summer with no air conditioning.  Seems a little counterintuitive that wool would be the coolest option in summer, but apparently it is the ideal option for moms in our area.  It also seems counterintuitive that a pair of knitted pants would hold pee and keep it from leaking.  I’m a little afraid.  I trust my friends, though, so when our brand new purple wool cover arrives on Friday, I’ll be excited to lanolize it and get it onto Cricket.

Thanks, Mr. Grasshopper, for your willingness to make this switch.

Katie in a Kooshie Kiesters fitted (no longer available) and a Thirsties cover

Guest Post: Cloth Diapering – Part 2

I have mentioned before that my family doesn’t cloth diaper, but I do love the idea of cloth diapering.  It’s a great way to reduce your impact on the environment.  Because of this, I asked several of my friends to write guest posts about cloth diapering.  This is the second post in my cloth diaper series.  It was written by my good friend Jessica who owns Top to Bottom Baby Boutique in Omaha, Nebraska.  If you’re ever in the area, check out her new storefront!  She’s a fun lady and a great businesswoman.

Owning a natural parenting and cloth diapering store usually garnishes a lot of questions:  What started me cloth diapering?  Why did we decide to open the business?  And what do I find the most challenging?  Over the years, I’ve heard a lot of stories from moms and dads on why they started or what stopped them.  These stories, always intrigue me, because I love seeing what cloth diapering means to families.  One of the most popular questions I get is “How in the world am I suppose to use cloth when both my husband and I work full-time”.  This one always makes me chuckle, because it is my favorite topic!

Let me warn you, this always starts me on the discussion of laundry.  And just so we are clear, I hate laundry.  I’m not even sure that hate is a strong enough word.  Luckily, early on, I was able to convince Justin that it should be one of his tasks!  And I have dealt with shrunken clothes, things that have turned blue, etc in order to avoid laundry.  But diaper laundry I will do!  I love diaper laundry because I don’t have to sort, fold, or put away…though my good friend Maia does all of those for her diapers!

Justin and I have always both worked, and for the longest times we were on opposite shifts to avoid full-time daycare.  It made it very hard to avoid laundry duty.  When we began cloth diapering, we used a local diaper service.  After a couple of weeks we were having issues with leaks and I started looking for other options.  What I found was the wonderful world of fitteds, beautiful covers, and all around cute diapers.  Cuter than Cadence was wearing at that point.  As my research continued, we decided to move away from using the service and begin washing our own.  Two kids and three years later we opened our own store because there were no local options that allowed me to play with diapers (and as my husband tells everyone, I’m just not patient enough to wait for the mail to arrive).

With both kids in diapers, we knew we needed enough diapers to get through about two days.  Our diapers weren’t always pretty, but they were functional.  I would throw them in the wash after the kids went to bed and then into the drier before I went to sleep.  And inevitably, they ended up in a basket the next morning and that is where they stayed (I warned you, I don’t fold them!)  Diaper wash, in case you are wondering, is easy peasy–throw in everything, rinse, add soap (I love Rockin Green) and wash on hot, toss in the drier (or like our partner Robyn, hang up to dry).  I always warn everyone that it is a good idea to have a couple extra prefolds and a cover around for the inevitable time that you forget to do laundry until you put the last diaper on the kids (or when you are taking that last diaper OFF!).  Justin and I once had to fashion a diaper out of his t-shirt because I had managed to forget to switch the diapers to the dryer.  I’m not sure he found it as amusing as I did.

I’m sure at this point you are wondering about daycare.  We used two different daycares during our last 3 years and numerous trips to grandmas, so I have learned a very important lesson–most people think prefolds and plastic pants when you tell them you are going to cloth diaper.  We realized early on that it was easier to show them the types of diapers we planned to use then hope they knew what we were talking about.  I always tell moms it is important to take a diaper with you when you go meet a new daycare.  I usually also recommend using a Pocket or an All in One diaper because they are the most like disposables.  I am not a big fan of pockets, because it requires stuffing the inserts in the diapers.  I lose inserts like I lose socks (ie my hatred for laundry) so I tend to steer clear of these!  If I could, I would redo my stash in Bummis Tot Bots and Itti Bitti Tuttos but at this point with 2 kids who are potty trained except at night I am having a hard time convincing Justin that I need all new diapers!

Natural diapering is an option for everyone, working or stay at home parents.  Some parents go for the full cloth diaper experience, others use a mixture of cloth with disposable inserts (Gro-Via and Flip both make disposable inserts that can be used with the cloth covers), or the eco-friendly disposables (G-Diapers or Gro-Via bio diapers).  All of these are great options for parents.  There are so many options out there that everyone can find something they enjoy!

Green Disposable Diapers?

I’m feeling crummy today from overdoing it yesterday walking all over UCLA and the La Brea Tar Pits.  So this post may be short.  And not particularly well researched.

I think I’ve mentioned before that we do not cloth diaper.  I’d like to talk a little more about that and share my thoughts with you on reducing our diaper footprint.

Let me start by saying that I love cloth diapers.  The fabrics are not only beautiful, but they’re so incredibly soft.  The thought of that cushy organic bamboo velour cradling my baby’s tiny, delicate rump just makes my heart go pitter pat.  Cloth diapering is very, very doable, even for families where both parents work outside the home.  It just means a little extra laundry.  But here’s the deal:  I don’t do the laundry.  My husband does the laundry in our house (God bless him), and this means that ultimately the decision is his.

You know, we all have our hills that we are willing to die on:  Those aspects of life that are so important that they must be done the way you want.  For me, those hills include breastfeeding, solids, and child sleep.  I will breastfeed my children, I will make their own food and delay solids, and I will not leave them alone to cry it out.

That’s a whole lot of hills.

Mr. Grasshopper doesn’t have as many hills.  He’s just a lot bit more laid back than I am.  But cloth diapering is where he draws the line.  And quite honestly, as much as I fantasize about those beautiful and soft cloth diapers on my babies’ bottoms, I recognize that I need to be okay with this.  This is something that wouldn’t affect me in a huge way, but would have a terrific impact on the amount of work he has to do.  Considering how much hard work he does around the house anyway (the guy is a housework machine!), I respect his choice.

That leaves me wondering, though, what I can do to help “green up” diaper time for the newest member of our family.

Thankfully, environmentally friendly diaper options have started to become more and more available.  There are a couple of hybrid cloth/disposable options like the gDiaper, but having had friends who tried and didn’t like them, I think these might not be the best option for us.  Plus, these would still leave Mr. Grasshopper doing diaper laundry.

At this point, I’m looking at three possible choices for us:

Now here’s the thing:  Natural and Eco-friendly is great and all, but these puppies have to perform.

We used the 7th Gen diapers a few times with the Grasshopper when she got a bad diaper rash. They were pretty good, but they were a little stiff.  My husband did not like them.  I’ve never used the other kinds, but with the packaging it’s really impossible to tell much about the diapers.

I’ve emailed each of the three diaper companies to request that they send me a sample diaper.  I just want one of each.  I want to get the feel of it.  I want to see how stiff or how soft they are.  I want to pour some water into them to see how they react and absorb the fluid.  I do not expect any diaper to contain an honest-to-goodness poopsplosion, but I do expect them not to completely disintegrate when pee hits them.

I haven’t heard back from the companies as of yet on my request, so please stay tuned.  I’ll let you know if they’re willing to send me a sample or not.  I’d rather not have to shell out for packs of each.  These puppies aren’t cheap.

In the meantime, have any of you, dear readers used these natural disposable diapering options?  Does anyone out there in cyberspace have anything they can share with me about how these work out?

Guest Post: Cloth Diapering – Part 1

I have mentioned before that my family doesn’t cloth diaper, but I do love the idea of cloth diapering.  It’s a great way to reduce your impact on the environment.  Because of this, I asked several of my friends to write guest posts about cloth diapering.  This first post in a multi-post series is by a dear, childhood friend of mine, Katie.

Before our little one was born, I decided to try cloth diapers because I believed that they would be a better use of both environmental and financial resources.   I just couldn’t justify all of those used disposable diapers piling up somewhere.  This feeling was potently strengthened after our little one arrived and we went through 1100 diapers in the first two months!   Despite the added energy and water consumption required to wash cloth diapers, they are still radically better for the environment and perhaps the most earth-conscious decision parents can make.

Once I began researching cloth diapers, I found myself overwhelmed by the sheer number of options and opinions.  There are many styles of diapers (and numerous manufacturers, each with subtle differences), laundry routines and trouble-shooting solutions.  And, like most things, the internet provides a wealth of conflicting information.  After a lot of research, I had really learned very little because like most baby gear, each individual has different preferences.  For example, some people prefer all-natural or organic fabrics, while others prefer the moisture-wicking and cost benefits of synthetic fabrics.  Most people now prefer the fastening options that do not require diaper pins.  There are also numerous opportunities to match various manufacturers’ styles to your little one’s body type, such as more generous leg openings or a longer rise.  The sheer number of options can be frustrating, but it also means that you have a lot of alternatives to try if you are dissatisfied.

There seems to be a growing recognition of how overwhelming the cloth diaper product line-up can be.  One prominent cloth diaper vendor, Jillian’s Drawers, offers a cloth diaper trial for a mere $10 (provided you return the items promptly if you choose to not pursue cloth diapering), as well as a variety of sample packages.

Of course, trying out a lot of cloth diapering products can eventually translate to a significant investment, especially if you prefer cloth diapers with more features and/or organic fabrics.  This has been a disappointment to me as I naively imagined that cloth diapering would represent substantial cost-savings.  I still believe that we will save a lot of money in the long run, but at only seven months into cloth diapers, the cost benefits have probably been fairly minimal.  A large part of that is that our little one has grown at an incredible rate and is very tall.  As a result, many of the cloth diapers and covers that we tried had to be “retired” early, typically due to the rise being too short for our little one.  For example, we tried and loved Thirsties Duo-Wrap Snap Size 1 which is advertised to last until about 9 months or 18 pounds, but our little one outgrew it around 4-5 months and 15-16 pounds.  As our little one’s growth slows down, I expect that each size of cloth diapers will last longer and thus be more cost-effective.   Of course, our real savings will come when we can reuse all of these diapers with our anticipated second child.

I want to emphasize though that it IS completely possible to save A LOT of money with cloth diapering.  The bare minimum supplies would only be about $200, plus laundry detergent & utilities.  I also made simple cloth wipes out of 2-ply 8-inch squares of cheap flannel which have been a significant savings.  And rather than using any kind of wipes solution or expensive cloth-approved diaper rash cream, I prefer nearly-free plain water for the former and completely-free indirect sun exposure for the latter.  Line-drying your diapers can also drastically reduce your cloth-diaper-dependent energy bill.  If you are fortunate to be able to dry them outside, sunlight also has amazing diaper-brightening properties!  In addition, depending on your sewing ability and/or your willingness to learn, you can make your own cloth diapers.

An unexpected benefit of choosing to use cloth diapers has been the fabulous customer service I have received from cloth diaper vendors.   My favorite detergent company (Rockin’ Green) offers free and prompt trouble-shooting assistance.  When I asked their advice on how to fine-tune my laundry routine when I was battling diaper rash, they sent me a free sample of the new formula they were developing.   They then offered to make me custom detergent until the new formula would be commercially available several months later.

When I inquired about the availability of one particular diaper style, a favorite diaper manufacturer (ESBaby) offered to send me a free prototype of a new pattern she was developing for that style, provided I gave her feedback on the redesign.   ESBaby will also further customize their patterns by adding or trimming inches in the rise or crotch width, and covering the diapers with customer selected prints (or even customer-provided fabrics).  As an added bonus, many of these vendors are either work-at-home moms or moms transitioning into full-time careers.  It is a huge frustration to me that there seems to be serious professional stigma attached to women who want to return to the workforce after choosing to stay home with their young kids so I love supporting these mom-driven businesses.

Finally, anyone who chooses cloth diapers seems more than willing to help others get started or trouble-shoot.   I have personally benefitted from some great advice and instruction in this way, including an incredibly helpful and clarifying email from the other cloth diaper guest blogger, arranged via an email introduction from Molly here at Two Little Grasshoppers.

There are some mild disadvantages to cloth diapers.  The biggest issue for us has been battling diaper rash.  Most people advertise that cloth-diapered babies rarely have diaper rash because they are changed more often.  We changed our little one 16-20 times a day for the first two months and still struggled with diaper rash.  In fairness, we seem to have a family predisposition towards diaper rash.  We pretty much have this condition under control now due to the reduced frequency of output by our little one and routine preventative air and indirect-sun exposure.

Obviously, cloth diapers require you to spend more time with your diapers.  Dealing with soiled cloth diapers seems no worse to me than dealing with soiled disposable diapers (Disclaimer:  our little one is still in the very early phases of solid food, so perhaps this issue might become more unpleasant in the future).  It does take some time, every day so far, to wash and fold cloth diapers, although far less time and effort than I expected.  I am fortunate to be able to stay home with my little one and his diapers which makes this process even easier.   I believe that it would be possible to use cloth diapers while working outside of the home, but it would require more flexibility and commitment and would be undeniably harder to manage.  But even partial use of cloth diapers would make a huge impact on the environment!

Another minor inconvenience has been finding roomy enough clothes to accommodate the added bulk of cloth diapers.  Our little one is fairly slim too, so I imagine this must be really difficult if you have a more Rubenesque baby.  In particular, pajamas are a problem.  Federal law mandates that children’s sleepwear either be made out of a non-flammable material or have a slim-fit so as to minimize the danger of the clothes igniting in a fire.  As a result, the overwhelming majority of children’s sleepwear is not cloth diaper-friendly.  Skirts are pretty forgiving for little girls, while stretchy knits work best for other bottoms.  There are some brands that I’ve tried that have a more generous fit, like Zutano, Hanna Andersson and Wal-mart’s Garanimals.  Except for the latter, these brands are pretty pricey though which was another small disappointment to me.

We have used disposables while traveling and both my husband and I strongly prefer cloth diapers.  With cloth diapers, it is much easier to customize the fit and style to our little one.  In fact, perhaps “CD” should stand for “Customized Diapers” rather than “Cloth Diapers!”  Additionally, the materials are much softer and more comfortable (we imagine).  We have also experienced significantly fewer blow-outs and leaks with cloth diapers.  Finally, they seem more breathable and trap less overall moisture.

To briefly summarize, I’ve listed below the pros and cons of cloth diapers from my experience.

Cloth Diaper Pros:

  • Environmentally-friendly!
  • Customizable fit, materials & absorbency (cute prints can be an added bonus)
  • Can be much cheaper
  • Softer against the baby’s skin
  • Better containment of bodily waste & odor
  • Fabulous customer service & support while often supporting mom-driven businesses

Cloth Diaper Cons:

  • Time & energy to wash diapers
  • Diaper rash (this might be fairly unique to our situation)
  • Can have significant upfront costs, especially if choosing to use premium diapers
  • Requires roomier clothes that may be more difficult to find