Friday, July 20, 2012

Selling Diapers

I just got back from the library. Yesterday afternoon I listed a few diapers that Arthur just outgrew on Craigslist, and within a few hours I had two people interested. I got back to the first woman, and we agreed to meet at the library for the exchange. I loaded Arthur into the stroller with a sippy cup and his sunglasses and we took our time walking there, enjoying the sunshine. It was an older woman who was buying the diapers, so we chatted for a bit about modern cloth vs. what she used on her kids, then she gave me money and took the diapers and we parted ways. Just TRY making $15 off of 3 used disposable diapers, and let me know how it goes.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Easy Peasy Super Cheap Cloth Diapering

I wish that I had discovered this method of diapering sooner.  I read about it online, sure, but I scoffed.  I wasn't interested.  It wasn't modern or flashy or anything like that and I wanted nothing to do with it.  But, on a whim, I gave it a try and I was surprised!  Ok, think about it- what did you get a TON of at your baby shower?  Flannel receiving blankets.  I bet your got a boatload of them, and they're sitting around taking up a ton of space and you have no idea what to do with them, right?  Ok.. this might sound crazy... but use them as diapers.  Fold them in half a few times (this is called padfolding), lay them inside of a PUL cover or stuff them into a pocket diaper shell, and voila.  A diaper!  This combination is crazy trim and is probably the absolute cheapest way to diaper.  Right now, most diaper stores are running a Buy 2/Get 1 Free special on Flip diaper covers.  $27.90 for 3 diaper covers is a steal, and 6 covers is a good amount to have.  Combine these with the blankets that you already own (or cost like, a buck at Goodwill) and you're good to go!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Cloth Diapering With a Portable Washing Machine

When we moved into our new place, we left a lot of things behind.  Most notably (for me anyway) was our washer and dryer and our nice long clothesline.  We live in the city now, so there is no clothesline and our apartment doesn't have washer/dryer hookups.  I looked really hard for one that did, but they were very rare and when I did find one, it was way out of our price range.  We settled on a place that has a laundromat on the premises, but I was still uneasy.  Cloth diapering was going to cost a lot of money this way, and it was going to be really inconvenient.  I did the math out, and it was actually going to be cheaper to switch to disposables.  The wash cycles cost $1.50 each, times that by 3 cycles to get the diapers clean (one as a pre wash, then a wash with detergent, then another one as a rinse to get all of the detergent out) so $4.50 every other day just for the washing.  I could still hang dry on a drying rack in the apartment, but if I chose to use the dryers then it would probably take 2 cycles to get everything dried, so bump that up to $6.50.  $6.50x3 times a week = $19.50, $19.50x4= $78 a month.  And that's just diaper laundry, nevermind our regular clothes, towels, and sheets on top of that!  Ouch.  Ouch ouch ouch OUCH.

I did some digging around, and I heard of people using apartment sized washing machines to get their diapers clean.  They seemed to run for around $200, which was a lot to me- that is what our brand new full sized washer cost.  But, factoring in how much money we'd be spending every week washing all of our laundry, I figured that it would pay for itself very quickly.  I ordered a Haier model from wal mart and picked it up from the store a few days before the move.  We used disposables for 4 or 5 days before, during, and after the move so that we could get settled in.  My dad was kind enough to get the machine set up for us.  My original plan was to put it in the bathroom, but we don't have the right kind of faucet in there so we had to put it in the kitchen.  Our kitchen is roughly the size of a gerbil cage, but we cozied it in next to the oven.  I used the coin operated washers for a few days because I was intimidated, but it sucked.  It really just sucked.  I decided to start using our machine.

It was a disaster.  Huge disaster.  The drain hose comes with this little clip on type thing which is supposed to  keep the hose anchored, but it doesn't.  Water went EVERYWHERE.  Twice.  I ended up standing next to the sink the entire time, holding the hose in place.  Then, I didn't think to turn the sink off before disconnecting the water hose, so my kitchen got sprayed with water yet again.  I was wet, frustrated, and seriously hating everything.  I was going to just put it on Craigslist and get rid of it and switch to disposables, but I decided to stick with it.

I went to Target in search of some plastic zip ties to use to anchor the drain hose, but found something way better.  They're called Gear Ties, and they're basically extra super strong twist ties!  I got a two pack of the longest ones there, and they worked perfectly.  They kept the hose attached to the faucet so that when poopy water came shooting out, it went right into the sink and not all over the floor and walls.  Perfect.  I remembered to turn the water off before taking the hose off.  Like cake.  After a few times I got our cycle down, and it really isn't much different than it was with our old washer.  The main difference is that I use hot water for all of the cycles now, even the pre wash.  No real reason, I just like to leave it alone and not mess with it more than I have to.

1. "quick wash" with no detergent
2. "regular wash" with detergent ("2" line of liquid Gain)
3. another plain "quick wash"
4. "quick wash" for my natural fiber stuff with 7th Generation softener

There is a "heavy" cycle which includes a long soak and agitates longer, but I don't use that cycle.  For one, it washes the items in the dirty soak water rather than refilling the machine with fresh water.  Ew.  Plus, the cycle is close to 90 minutes long.  The regular cycle is 40 minutes, and I didn't notice a difference in cleanliness between the two so I opt for the shorter cycle.

Then I usually hang my pocket shells and Flip covers up on the drying rack and bring my prefolds and inserts down to the dryer. It's been really humid, so that combined with the thickness of the diapers means that they would hang for days even with a fan pointed at them and still not be dry.  I didn't want to promote any kind of mold or mildew, so I spend $1 and use the dryer.  It also keeps the prefolds soft, which I'm all about.

There are some cons to the machine, but I think that they're pretty minor.  It's hooked up to my kitchen sink, so I need to disinfect the sink after every load of diapers.  The hoses aren't quite long enough, so I have to drag the machine over closer to the sink.  It's not really heavy or anything, it's just a pain.  And because our kitchen is so small, once the machine is in place it's pretty much impossible to get into the dining room where the trash can is, and if you need to wash your hands or make coffee or get water for the cats, you have to use the bathroom sink.  But these things are so minor that you get used to them after a week or two.

And the machine WORKS.  My diapers get super clean every time that I wash them, and so do our clothes. I have noticed more staining in the diapers, but I think that's because we don't have a showerhead to spray the diapers with before they're washed, so that's causing the stains.  I haven't had time to yet, but I know that a day out in the sunlight with some lemon juice will erase all of those stains.

Overall, I love this machine and I'm so glad that I stuck with it.  I named him Bertram, and he's awesome.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Major Slacking

Except not really slacking!  We moved!  Last month, the three of us packed up and headed down to start our newest adventure in Augusta, Maine.  Not only did we move from a very rural area to the middle of the state capitol, but I went from being a full time working mom to a stay at home mom.  I have to say, transitioning to being a stay at home mom is way more challenging than any geographical changes.  So, I have a whole lot to write about and just about zero time to do it, that's the way that it goes :)  We finally got the internet hooked up today, so I'll be able to start posting again and hopefully get back into the swing of things soon, AND I am going to be hosting a pretty cool giveaway, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Let's Set Things Straight

I'm just going to come right out and say this, in a large bolded font.

You do not need to rinse formula poop off of a diaper before you put it in the wetbag.  There are no extra steps.  It is just as easy as breastmilk poop- maybe even easier*.

I've been wanting to write this entry for a few days, and I've been having a hard time coming up with an introduction.  How do I start this entry?  Why am I even writing it?  I'm writing it because 16 months ago, I was wishing that someone had.  I had just made the decision to stop pumping for my 4 week old and switch to formula.  Every single website that you find about cloth diapering tells you about how magical breastmilk poop is- it dissolves in water!  You don't have to rinse the poop off!  The diapers clean themselves!  RAINBOWS!  This was all fine and very reassuring to pregnant me, and pumping me.  But when I decided that my lactating days were over, I realized that I had no idea what I was going to do re: poop.

I looked around, and I saw a few vague mentions of having to rinse the poop off beforehand, or scrape it off, but then the author would reassure you DON'T WORRY, BREASTMILK POOP WILL WASH RIGHT OUT!  Honestly, it seemed to me like the cloth diapering community just doesn't acknowledge that parents who choose to formula feed are just as willing and capable to choose cloth diapers.  Not cool.  I made a post on Livejournal asking about what I was going to have to do when we made the switch (he was already getting maybe 3 bottles of formula per day) and a few women kindly told me that they didn't change anything.  It is the same as breastmilk poop.  They were right.  My son's poop definitely got a whole lot smellier, and it looked different- thicker, mostly.  But I didn't waste any time trying to remove the poop from the diaper before I washed it and just threw it all in the washing machine, and what do you know?  It all washed out- just like the breastmilk poop did.  

So, this post is for the pregnant woman who is not interested in breastfeeding at all and is going to feed her child formula right from the start.  This post is for the mother who breastfed at first, but for whatever reason is choosing not to continue any more.  This post is for someone who breastfeeds, but is trying to help a friend or relative who doesn't.  It's ok to formula feed, and don't let anyone try to tell you that it will lead to more work with your cloth diapers.  That is not true, not even a little bit.  Every time that I see a post on a messageboard where someone is wondering about what to do with formula fed poop, I will always respond.  I want to make this knowledge abundantly clear, because I wasn't able to find any of it when I needed it and I don't want anyone else to have to be stressed about it like I was.

*  In my experience, that crazy yellow breastmilk poop stains like CRAZY.  Formula poop, on the other hand, never left a stain on the diapers here.  Your milage may vary ;)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The End of Bedsharing

When it comes to parenting, I exist in this weird middle ground between "mainstream" and "crunchy."  I am sort of too weird for the mainstream- my husband and I cloth diaper, cosleep/bedshare, babywear (until he got too heavy), our son wasn't circumcised, I planned a homebirth.  On the other hand, the crunchy group doesn't want me either- my son only latched onto my breasts maybe 5 times in his life and I returned the hospital grade breast pump before he was a month old so that what little milk that I did make was good and dried up by the time I went back to work when he was 6 weeks old.  Any future children will go straight to formula.  We also vaccinate on schedule, don't care about eating organically in the slightest, used (non organic!) jarred baby food, the list goes on.  Sometimes when my kid is just completely overwhelming and demonic, even though I know it's awful, I'm tempted to just let him cry it out.  So, so SO SOOOO tempted!

Cosleeping is defined as sleeping in the same room as your baby, and bedsharing is when your baby sleeps in bed with you.  Cosleeping just made sense to us- we wanted to be close to our baby, for convenience when it came to late night feeding and just because we love him and want to be around him.  We didn't buy a crib, but we had a pack and play set up beside the bed and the plan was for him to sleep there.  I really wasn't too keen on the idea of him sleeping in bed with us, but I decided to just roll with whatever happened.  It didn't take long to see that he slept better when he was in bed with us, so we made our bed as safe as possible and welcomed him.  It turned out that when he was little, bedsharing was great.  He stayed in one spot and was very snuggly and adorable.  Once he began to gain the ability to move, however, he took full advantage of this.  Somehow this teeny little person was taking up more room in our queen sized bed than my husband and I combined.  My husband was crammed against the wall, I was hanging off the edge, and there was Arthur- sprawled out horizontally across the middle and usually kicking me in the face.  But, the convenience factor was a strong one so we continued despite being uncomfortable.  Plus, he wouldn't sleep by himself at all.  We heard horror stories about how hard it was going to be to move him into his own bed, and that itself was enough to keep us from even trying.

This carried on until 2 nights ago.  Enough is enough, we said.  17 months is old enough.  Plus, he's finally starting to get mobile enough to be unsafe in our bed.  Twice in the past week I came to get him after a nap and found him dangerously close to scooting backwards off of the edge.  We bought a twin sized mattress and put it on the floor in the corner of our bedroom, put some Spiderman sheets on it, and laid him down for the night.  He fell asleep just fine, but that first night was awful.  He woke up crying every 45 minutes.  He slept better as a newborn!  Finally at 5 am, my husband crawled onto the teeny mattress with him and we managed to get a 3 hour stretch in before he woke up for the day.  I was horrified.  Was this going to be our new normal?  He had been sleeping more or less through the night since he was a few months old with the exception of a cup of milk at around 3-4 A.M. and that was a pattern that I was totally fine with.  We talked about what we were going to do, and we decided to be consistent.  Even though we thought about letting him cry, and we thought about just bringing him back into our bed, neither of those actions were consistent with what we wanted.  We didn't want him to sleep in his own bed out of fear, and we really really just don't want him hogging our bed anymore.  Last night, we repeated his bedtime routine and settled him in to his new bed.  I braced myself for another night from hell, but he woke up at 3:30, had a cup of milk, and went back to sleep until 7.  Seriously??  Really??

I thought that I was going to be more emotional about moving him into his own bed, but I'm actually really happy, relieved, and proud.  I can sleep with my entire body on the bed, I don't have to worry about potential diaper leaks, there are no little feet in my face or my stomach, and my super clingy little boy is starting to show a little bit of independence.  I think that it's a win-win situation for everyone in the family.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


My whole life I have loved drying my clothes on the clothesline.  I've always, with the exception of 2 years, lived in the country in a house with a nice long clothesline outside.  Nothing ever feels or smells better than getting into a bed made with line dried sheets- NOTHING.  In the spring and summer once it warms up, I still hang just about everything outside to dry, including and especially cloth diapers.  The sun and cloth diapers are a perfect pair, if you think about it.  The sun's rays not only dry them without the wear and tear and electricity of a dryer, but it also kills germs and removes stains.  Like I said, it's perfect for diapers.  In the spring and summer, my diapers are always fresh and stain free.

Since it's winter, I haven't been able to make it out to my clothesline at all.  Even if I could, it's just too cold.  There's no point in trying to dry anything outside in the winter, but even though it's cold, you can still use the sun to remove stains in the winter time.  It doesn't work as well as direct sunlight, but putting a damp diaper near a sunny window will give you a similar effect.  Adding lemon juice is supposed to help, but I've never tried that.  

It's almost 50 degrees outside today, so I figured that I would use the opportunity to put some prefolds and pocket inserts out on the line.  Everything was in various stages of dingy to stained from a winter of no sun and I was getting sick of looking at it, honestly.  I'm going to have to take it down before I go to work, but I'm hoping that a few hours in the sun will brighten everything up at least a little bit.  It'll be spring soon enough.  We've had a weird winter in Maine this year, and I'm ready for it to be over.

Monday, March 5, 2012

It's Been a While

I'm so sorry for my lack of updates.  Between work, school, the early stages of moving, and parenting my very, very intense little Gremlin I haven't had much time to blog.  I have a few specific products that I want to write about, along with a couple of cloth related issues that we've been dealing with and have successfully overcome.  Basically, life is kicking my butt in more ways than I even though possible.   I mean, I even have the Blogger app on my iPod, and I still can't get anything done.  Have you ever tried to type anything of length on one of those things?  It's just not happening.  So anyway, the ideas are bouncing around in my head and I'm going to try to make more of an effort to get around to actually posting them.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Favorite Things Friday: Diaper Palz Wetbags

I am really, truly, 100% in love with my Diaper Palz wetbag.  I've been using mine since early December, and I'm thinking that I need to get at least one more.  My other wetbag is a Planetwise one, and while it has served me well over the past 15 months, the Diaper Palz one has many advantages.

- Planetwise wetbags are cotton on the outside, with a layer of PUL sewn inside.  This allows for a lot of really cool prints, but with repeated washing these prints tend to fade and wear out.  My bag also has developed holes in the cotton and has some bleach stains.  The bag is still totally functional, but it's very sad looking.  Diaper Palz bags are just a single layer of PUL, so the patterns won't fade or be affected by bleach.  Solid PUL also dries significantly faster than cotton.

- Size.  The Planetwise "Large" size is 18"x21", and the Diaper Palz "Large" is 30" tall and holds significantly more diapers.  The Planetwise will hold 2 days worth of diapers for me, but those last few have to really be crammed in there.  This picture shows my Diaper Palz bag with 3 days worth of diapers, and it isn't even completely full.  I think that it could probably hold 4 days, but I don't go that long between washing.  This would be great if you had 2 babies in cloth though!

- Price.  Diaper Palz bags are significantly cheaper.  A full priced large Diaper Palz bag costs $15+ $1 shipping, while a large Planetwise bag costs $19.  The Diaper Palz bags are very high quality, especially the hanging loop.  As you can see, my gigantic bag of heavy dirty diapers is hanging from a hook by my washing machine.  So far, the PUL is not showing any signs of stress or damage but my Planetwise one started looking worn along the handle seam within a few months.  I'm confident that this bag will last me through our diapering years and beyond.

The best part is Diaper Palz is actually hosting a January clearance right now, with large wetbags for as low as $13!  Try using coupon code "dsmama" for an additional discount.  Check them out, you won't be disappointed!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Washing Routines

When I first decided to cloth diaper, I was really nervous about washing them.  I read all of this information saying that you need to soak the diapers for a few hours, use a special soap that you have to order from the internet, all these crazy elaborate routines... I was freaked out.  I followed the advice at first, I used the special detergent (first Purex Free and Clear, and then Rockin' Green) and only used 2 tablespoons of it per load.  It was fine at first, but eventually my diapers were stinky and awful.  As soon as he would pee, the whole diaper smelled like poop.  I actually almost gave up on cloth diapering because it was so gross.  Then I read that Tide was actually a really good detergent to use, and I was intrigued.  Every place said to avoid detergents with fragrance, dyes, and enzymes but Tide had ALL of those things.  I figured that I didn't have anything left to lose at that point, so first I bleached everything then started using Tide.  What a difference!

In my experience, those natural detergents just don't work and sometimes you have to use a little bleach.  I mean, think about it- what would you do if you had a bunch of shirts that had gotten peed and pooped on?  Would you skimp on the detergent?  No way.  You would use a good strong detergent that would clear the mess away, and you might even add a bit of bleach for good measure.  Some babies really are sensitive to fragrances and enzymes and if that is the case then you shouldn't use something like Tide, but most babies will be just fine.  It's all experimentation, so sometimes you have to try a few different detergents until you find what works, or add in extra rinses at the end.  But once you have it down, it's great!

So, this is my washing routine that I do every other morning.  It's easy, it's uncomplicated, and it works like a dream.  I have a non high efficiency top loading machine with hard water and I use liquid detergents.

- Cold rinse/spin cycle.  This gets the bulk of the pee/poop residue off of the diapers.
- Hot "Super Heavy Duty" cycle, Gain or Tide detergent measured to the "2" line
- 2 more cold rinse/spin cycles.  These extra rinses make sure that all of the detergent has been rinsed from the diapers.  I've found that if I only do one rinse, my son sometimes gets a little rashy so I always do 2.
After that, I take out my pocket shells and PUL covers and hang them up to dry on a drying rack
- Cold rinse/spin cycle with a cap full of plant based fabric softener- either 7th Generation or Ecover.  You can skip this step, but I like having soft diapers.
- 2 dryer cycles on medium heat.  You can dry on high, but medium will make the diapers softer. I add a dry towel to the dryer and it cuts down on drying time.

Start with a really basic routine like that, and then tweak from there as needed.  If you're having trouble and need help, feel free to contact me.  Another good resource is Diaper Swappers.  The ladies on DS can help you solve just about any laundry problems.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Naptime Adventures: Prepping Hemp Inserts

For this naptime adventure, I'm going to prep some new Thirsties hemp inserts for my pocket diapers by boiling them.  This isn't a true naptime adventure because my Gremlin is wide awake, but Dad is keeping him occupied.

Unless you have someone to keep your baby 100% occupied, I would really recommend doing this while your baby is asleep.  Mostly because of the boiling water, but also because you need to keep your eye on the process and you don't want to get distracted and burn your house down.

Hemp is a natural fabric, which means that when it's brand new it is coated with natural oils.  You need to strip these oils off before using the diaper, or it won't absorb much.  You can do this by washing in hot water in your washing machine and drying 4-6 times, or by boiling on the stove.  Boiling uses a lot less water, especially for something small like inserts.  You don't want to boil anything with PUL, snaps, or elastic because that will ruin the diaper, but pocket inserts and prefolds are generally ok to boil.

Today, I'm prepping 4 new Thirsties hemp inserts.  These are the best pocket inserts that I've found.  They're incredibly trim, but hold a ton of pee.  Arthur can be a bit of a super soaker, but a single Thirsties insert will hold him for at least 2 hours.  The first thing that you'll notice is that they're huge.

On the right is one of the inserts that is already prepped and heavily used.  When fabrics are prepped, they shrink.  Once these inserts are done being prepped, they'll be about the same size as the one on the right.

Get a pot of water boiling.  Use a stock pot if you have one, especially if you're boiling prefolds.  I'm only doing 2 inserts at a time so a regular pot will do.

Ugh, that's sideways.  Sorry!  Add the inserts to the pot, set the timer for 15 minutes.  Stick close by the stove, and stir the inserts around.  If you want you can add a squirt of dish soap to help draw the oils out, but I don't usually remember to do that.

See how the water is all gross and yellow-ish?  That's the hemp oil that has been boiled out of the fabric.  After your 15 minutes are up, if you're a competent person you will have a pair of tongs in your kitchen.  Pick the diapers out of the pot with the tongs, put them in a bowl/bucket and bring them to your washing machine.  I don't have tongs, so I just use potholders and dump the whole pot into the washer.  Now you're going to run a hot wash with a little bit of detergent.  I usually take this opportunity to wash some towels or sheets.  Use whatever detergent you're using for your diapers (I use Gain on everything, to keep it simple) and run a normal hot wash.  Put everything in the dryer when that's finished, and you're done!  At this point they're ready to go and should be close to full absorbency, but I personally put them straight from the dryer into the wetbag and wash them again with the next load of diapers.  Pretty simple!

Like I said, you can do this with prefolds too, but you are going to want to use a big pot.  Before my son was born I bought 18 brand new prefolds and I had plans to boil them because I didn't have hot water in my washing machine.  I kind of procrastinated, and then my son was born early.  Then I found myself with a 4 day old baby, boiling 2 prefolds at a time on the stove.  I don't recommend it.  If possible, do any prepping and boiling before your baby arrives.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Favorite Things Friday: Prefolds (part 1)

This is something new that I'm going to try out.  Every Friday (ummm maybe every other Friday) I'm going to pick one (probably diaper related) product that I really really like and write about it.  I'm hoping that this will keep me focused and give me something to write about each week.

For my first post, I'm going to talk about prefolds.  Not Gerber prefolds, but nice, high quality cotton ones.  These are the backbone of my stash, and if I had to choose only one type of diaper to have, it would be prefolds.  I'm actually going to have to break this up over a few entries, because I have a lot to say.

The main benefits of prefolds are:
- Low cost.  They're the cheapest cloth diaper option, aside from flats.  They typically cost somewhere around $2/diaper, compared to all in one styles that can cost over $20 each.  That's why prefolds are the most commonly recommended diaper for the newborn stage.  Newborns go through a ton of diapers every day, so you really want to have as many on hand as possible (generally 36 diapers, if you are planning on washing every other day) and prefolds are a perfect, inexpensive way to do that.
- Versatility.  They can be used in diaper form in a variety of ways- folded and snappi-d/pinned/boingo-ed, trifolded in a cover, or used as a pocket insert instead of microfiber.
- Longevity.  Prefolds can be used and stored for decades and still work perfectly.  You don't have to worry about elastic or PUL degrading like with a fitted or pocket diaper, since they're just cotton.  When you're done using them as diapers, you can use them around the house for cleaning rags or crafts.  Buying prefolds will give you the most bang for your buck, especially compared to disposable diapers.

But, of course, there are a few downsides:
- Learning curve.  If you aren't trifolding and putting the diaper in a cover, then you will need to learn how to fold the prefold onto your baby and how to fasten it to keep it on.  I recommend practicing on a doll before your baby.  Youtube is full of how-to videos, so definitely look there for some guidance.  In the same vein, people who watch your baby might not want to "hassle" with prefolds.  This is easily remedied by having a small stash of pockets or all in one diapers for them to use.
-   Prepping.  Any diaper that is made with natural fibers (cotton, hemp, bamboo) needs to be prepped before you can use it.  That's because there are plant oils coating the fabric, and until you get all of those oils off, your diapers won't be absorbent.  To reach full absorbency, it usually takes 4 or 5 full wash/dry cycles, with hot water.  This is time consuming and uses a lot of resources.  You can also boil them in a big pot on the stove, but that is still time consuming but at least it saves you some hot water.  If you want to, you could just wash/dry them one time and then start using them.  The only thing is they won't be quite as absorbent right off the bat, but as long as you keep that in mind and change your baby more frequently they will get more absorbent with each use.  Honestly, the best way to get prefolds is to find them used and take advantage of someone else doing the work for you.

The next time that I talk about prefolds, I'll discuss different cover types and different ways to fold and fasten them.  Like I said, prefolds are very versatile and can be used a ton of different ways, so that gives me way too much content for a single post.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Where to Buy

I think that one of the biggest obstacles to using cloth diapers is actually finding and buying them.  You're not going to find cloth diapers in any grocery or big box store, and brick and mortar cloth diaper stores can be hard to find.

If you're new to cloth, I really think that it's worth it to try to find a physical diaper store in your area.  I wish that I had been able to go into an actual store, and see actual diapers, and have a real life person show me how to use them.  It would have made the whole process so much less intimidating.  The best way to find a nearby cloth diaper store is to do a google search for "your city+cloth diaper store", or ask around on a message board- and Diaper Swappers both have regional boards that you can check out.  Craigslist is also worth checking out.

I'm going to do a quick plug- the store closest to me is Central Street Farmhouse in Bangor, Maine.  This is a great store!  The ladies that work there are so knowledgeable and kind.  They have a pretty big range of brands- Thirsties, Fuzzibunz, Charlie Banana, and Rumparooz, to name a few.  They also sell baby carriers and if you bring your baby with you, they'll show you how to use them.  They have cloth diapering and baby wearing classes and breastfeeding support groups.

But, Bangor is quite a trek from where we live, so I do most of my diaper shopping online.  My favorite way to buy diapers is used!  You can get amazing deals that way, and you can try out a certain diaper that you're interested in without having to worry about being out a lot of money if you don't like it.  A good strategy is to buy a few used diapers to figure out what you like, then buy brand new.  I buy used diapers at Diaper Swappers and Spot's Corner.  Make sure that you check out a seller's feedback before you buy from her, and it's a good idea to have a Paypal account because that is the only kind of payment that most people accept.

For buying new diapers, my favorite store is Abby's Lane.  Every order gets free shipping, they carry a huge range of brands, and they have the best customer service.  If you follow them on Facebook, they have giveaways and freebies and if you subscribe to their newsletter they will send you a 5% off code that is good for almost everything in the store.  Another site that I like to order from is Jack Be Natural.  They also have free shipping on all orders, and they carry a lot of brands including cheap pocket diapers such as Kawaii and Go Green which Abby's Lane doesn't carry.  Between these two sites, I can almost always find anything diaper related that I need.

I know that it's still really overwhelming, but hopefully a few of these resources will make it a little bit easier.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Naptime Adventures: The Anatomy of a Gerber Prefold

If you go into a Wal Mart, Target, or Babies R Us in search of cloth diapers, the only thing that you are going to find are Gerber prefolds.  Unfortunately, these don't make good diapers, not even in the slightest, and yet these are the diapers that are widely available for people to use.  It's no wonder people think that cloth diapering is ridiculous and doesn't work when these are the diapers that they have to work with!

The top picture is a Gerber prefold, the middle is a premium ("large") sized cotton prefold, and the bottom is a comparison shot of the two.  You can see that the Gerber diaper is flimsy and thin, compared to the thick "quilted" cotton one.  But the sizing is what these pictures are really about.  Gerber prefolds only come in one size, and that size is awkward.  It is way too big for a newborn- as you can see, the length is almost the same as the length of a large sized cotton prefold.  My son is 30 pounds and (I think) 32 inches long, just to give you an idea of what sized kid fits into a diaper of that length.  

These diapers are not absorbent.  By the time your baby is the right size to wear these, they will most likely be able to pee straight through in one pee.  This is not true with a cotton prefold.  The difference is that a cotton prefold will have anywhere from 4-8 layers of nice, absorbent cotton in the middle panel.  A Gerber one will have...

a nice wad of polyester batting sandwiched between two layers of very very thin cotton.  Obviously that isn't going to absorb any significant amount of urine from your baby.  Maybe that level of absorption would work for a newborn, but as I said- these are way too big for a newborn to wear.  Back in the old days, Gerbers were made with 100% cotton and worked a lot better than the ones that they make now.

If you have somehow acquired a stack of these, don't worry.  You can still use them.  In an absolute pinch you can use them as a diaper- just don't expect it to hold very much and plan on changing your baby every hour or so.  These make awesome burp cloths, spit up rags, changing pads, and eco friendly replacements for paper towels.