Thursday, October 4, 2012

It's Official: We're Cloth Only

This milestone happened on Sunday, but I've been sick, so forgive my sluggish posting lately.

We had had some disposable diapers on hand that we were using during the newborn stage where the Snush didn't quite fit into his one-size diapers, and we only had a few newborn size cloth diapers. My mom also had a pack of 'sposies she had bought for use at her house, but we both realized that at the rate we were using them (slowly) he would possibly grow out of them before we used them all. I don't know about you, but I hate wasting money, so I decided to just grit my teeth and use them all up before he grew out of them, and then revel in the joy and glory of being Entirely Cloth Diapers.

Anyway, on Sunday, we used the very last one! And it was glorious! He's been all cloth all the time ever since. We're still adjusting to everything that a cloth only routine entails, like making sure we get to the laundry in time so we don't run out (little danger of that, though, considering how many diapers I've been accumulating...) and figuring out this whole cloth at night phenomenon.

So far I've done a few different things at night: a fitted and cover; a Best Bottom diaper, with one of their overnight inserts and then a regular insert on top of it; or a pocket diaper, double or triple stuffed. Tonight I triple stuffed a Lovely Pocket Diaper, and it doesn't seem to have an issue with leg gaps, fortunately. So far I only had leg gap issues at night once-- when I attempted to double stuff a Blueberry pocket with its own inserts, which is already three layer of microfiber, and a trifolded prefold. I went just a little overboard there.

Since this is really my first week of experimenting with nighttime cloth diapering, I'm still learning! I'll be sure to report on my results and what I like best.

How about you? What's your favorite solution for nighttime? Do you have to do a diaper change in the wee hours in order to make it until morning?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Mama News! Hooray!

No, not news from me, but news headlines of interest to all of us mamas.

First, there was a disaster at a factory in Japan that may affect global output of disposable diapers-- which points out two things: the unpleasantness of some of the chemicals that go into their manufacture, and also just how lovely it is to have a permanent supply of diapers on hand. I love that I will never have to run to the store in the middle of the night for diapers, or worry about this kind of shortage! If I'm out of diapers, I just need to run the laundry. Hooray for cloth!

Second, medical studies in the United Arab Emirates have proven the presence of a cancer-fighting protein in breastmilk. The study also showed that this protein is not found in any artificial milk at all. This means that breastfed babies enjoy a protection up to 400 times stronger against various childhood cancers than formula fed babies! That's pretty amazing, and makes me so grateful that I was able to conquer my own supply challenges and breastfeed the Snush. I would never want to criticize those mothers who absolutely cannot breastfeed-- it's hard enough without us judging them-- but there are those out there who pooh-pooh the idea that breast really is best. This kind of evidence is wonderful. Hooray breastfeeding!

And third, October 8-14 is International Babywearing Week!

If you've never tried babywearing, it is pretty awesome. I definitely prefer it to having him in the stroller when we're out and about, and I sometimes do it at home. I have three different carriers-- the Moby Wrap, the Baby K'tan, and the ERGOBaby, and I love them all.

If you want to help celebrate International Babywearing Week, check to see if there's a celebrating group near you, or check out some ideas on things to do to celebrate! And always, if you practice babywearing, be sure to do it safely.

That's it for me this morning! Happy Monday!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Of yoga pants and nursing tanks

I hate buying new clothes. I've been overweight for so long that it usually ends up as an exercise in self-loathing. Plus, I hate spending a lot of money on myself and it just feels like an extravagance that I rarely feel like I really need.

BUT. Then I had a baby.

I've been wearing my maternity clothes a lot since the Snush arrived, because I haven't yet dropped the extra weight and so not much of my pre-pregnancy clothing fits. But my maternity jeans keep sliding down because there's no giant belly to hold the band up anymore. So I've been subsisting in yoga pants and maternity shirts that aren't designed for nursing, so I only wear them when I go out. On top of this, my only "real" bra (ie, not a sports bra or a sleeping bra) that I can nurse in is horribly uncomfortable because the underwire digs in really badly. I have dark spots on my sides from where it's been chafing me. So again, I hardly ever wear it. At home it's usually just a sports bra. Since I work from home, some days I don't even bother changing out of my pajamas.

While it can be nice to stay in your PJs all day every now and then, doing it constantly can really start to bring you down-- I was beginning to feel like (and I suspect resemble) an amorphous mom-blob. So I said enough.

I went with a mom-friend to the outlet mall on Friday with one goal in mind: get a new pair of jeans. Ones that actually fit. She, however, is an enabler (or I just persuade easily), so I went home that day with a pair of jeans and about six new shirts, all tank tops with a stretchy bust and straps so that I could easily drop one shoulder to whip out a boob to nurse. Plus she had filled my head with tales of her comfy underwire-less nursing bra from Target and the intriguing possibility of nursing tanks.

So yesterday was off to Target, where I indeed acquired two new nursing bras, both without underwire, and two nursing tanks, one of which I'm wearing now. And oh my god it's so comfortable I could cry.

I got up this morning and showered before work and got dressed just like a real person! And I feel incredible. And I have wonderful, comfortable new clothes that I can actually nurse in.

Lesson learned: when your body has been through the wringer that is pregnancy and childbirth, it's okay to indulge it with comfortable clothes that fit well. Really, it's okay. You don't have to keep cramming yourself into clothes that weren't designed for your post-partum, nursing body.

My yoga pants are still my best friends, though.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Laundry & Music

Today is Friday, ladies and germs! Which means it's my day off. On today's agenda: laundry!

Because I am a colossal dork, I inevitably make up goofy little songs as I go about my day. The first one this morning arose as I was unpacking my new fluff from Geffen Baby and tossing it in the washer:

Time to wash my fluff
Time to wash my fluff!
I love my fluff oh yes I do
It's time to wash my fluff

(Tune: Row, Row, Row Your Boat)

Once it gets moved to the dryer I'll be putting in the dirty diapers that the Snush has gone through in the last couple of days. Which will mean another song, mostly likely to the "Samsung" song. See, I have a Samsung HE front-loading washer and dryer, both of which play happy little songs when they're done:

This little ditty's possiblities for making up new lyrics is staggering.

Musical proclivities aside, though, I oddly love laundry day. There's just something immensely satisfying about throwing dirty things into a machine and having them come out all clean and fresh.

Of course, when you're talking about dirty cloth diapers, laundry can get a little more involved than your usual loads of clothes and towels. For one thing, cloth diapers should generally be washed with a cloth diaper safe detergent. There's a lot of argument about whether this means a detergent formulated specifically for diapers, or whether you can use a standard detergent as long as it's free of the Big Nasties: dyes, perfumes, bleach, brighteners, softeners, enzymes... You get the idea.

Then there's HE vs. regular washer (generally, you use less detergent with HE) and hard water vs. soft (you may need to use more detergent with hard), plus a ton of debate on how much rinsing to do and whether to use hot or warm or cold water for the pre-rinse and... Seriously.

I'm the first to admit that I'm still a novice at this whole laundry routine thing. I'm currently using bumGenius cloth diaper detergent, with a bit of washing soda to try to make up for our ridiculously hard water. I do a cold pre-rinse, since unfortunately my machine won't let me opt for a different temperature pre-rinse, then the "normal" cycle on Hot/Cold, then an extra rinse, which I assume is also cold. It seems to work pretty well for me.

I've gone back and forth on how much detergent to use, since I have both an HE machine and hard water. For now I'm using the amount recommended on the detergent box, which is one rounded scoop. That plus the washing soda seem to do the trick, but I may have to experiment if I start to get the dreaded diaper stink.

What's your laundry routine? What works for you? Most importantly, do you sing while you wash?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Stash

Let's talk about the one thing just about any cloth diapering mama seems most eager to discuss: the stash. Well, okay, the truth is that we seem eager to discuss just about anything about cloth, but bear with me here. The stash is our pride and joy. You have no idea how fervently I wish that any of my other new mama friends were using cloth-- just so we could compare our stashes. For real.

Building up a stash of cloth diapers was, at least for me, not really done intentionally. I didn't place a massive order of diapers all at once and declare my stash complete. Instead, I started out by doing one of those newborn cloth diaper trials-- and keeping the diapers instead of sending them back for a refund. Then I bought a few AIOS-- before realizing that I really prefer AI2s. Then a couple of Best Bottoms, then a few pockets, then... oh, I don't even know where I went from there.

My eagerness to try out all the different styles and brands does drive my husband a little crazy, I'm afraid. He  is on board with using them, but he doesn't really get my obsession with cloth, nor understand why I don't just pick a brand I like and stick with it. I can't really tell him why myself.

It's true that buying my stash one or two diapers at a time probably cost me more money than if I had just bought all one brand all at once, since many retailers offer discount on bulk purchases, but I feel like it saved me more money in another way: what if I had bought 20 diapers of one kind-- and then discovered that they didn't fit the Snush quite right? Or that I hated how they were put together? Or, worst of all, if I ended up hating the colors?! Such a tragedy doesn't bear thinking about. But it would have meant I'd need to just end up buying more diapers of a different brand, still with no guarantee that these diapers would work perfectly for me.

So, here's my very mix-and-match stash:

I also have about 20 generic unbleached cotton prefolds, infant size, that I actually bought mostly to use as burp cloths, before I had any idea how many burp cloths I would need, as well as maybe 20 more prefolds in a slightly larger size that were a hand-me-down from my one and only friend who used cloth with her kids (who are now out of diapers).

Plus, I may have two more packages on the way...

Everything in my stash, except for the prefolds and the Thirsties covers, are one-size-- meaning that they're adjustable to fit the Snush as he grows, so I won't have to buy more to fit him as he grows out of smaller diapers. Some parents feel that one-size just doesn't fit as well as sized diapers, but I've been very happy with them so far.

Also, everything except the Thirsties covers and the bumGenius 4.0 pocket, has snap closures instead of hook and loop. Snaps vs. hook and loop (aka aplix, or Velcro, but that's a brand name so it's usually called H&L) seems to be one of the great dividing lines in the cloth diapering world, but I am very firmly on the side of the almighty snap.

I've also opted as yet not to experiment with wool. This is partly due to a slight turnoff at how much more expensive wool covers seem to be, and partly because I live in freaking Texas. I'm worried if I ever put wool on the Snush, he would immediately burst into flames. I might give it a try at some point though-- maybe, if I ever pick up my crochet hook again, I might try my hand at crocheting him one, just to test. Don't count on it, though.

Then, let's talk color: if you look back at the colors I mentioned, you'll see that a whopping 7 of the 25 diapers are various shades of blue. That's not a surprise; blue is my favorite color, after all, not to mention that the Snush is a boy, so I guess blue is expected. What did surprise me was that another 6 are green-- I'm not really into green. But the Snush just looks so adorable in green, I seem to keep reaching for them. Oh, let's be real, the Snush is adorable in everything. But boom, half my stash is either blue or green. The other odd thing was that I only have 2 black diapers and 2 red ones, which are colors that I love and personally think both my husband and son look amazing in. Guess I'll have to correct that imbalance. More diapers? Oh, darn...

I realized the other day that this is way more diapers than I really need for the Snush-- I'm not even getting close to using them all up between washings. Which I suppose is a good thing, since I'd hate to be completely out and need to wrap him in a towel or something until the laundry's done. Still, I can't shake this lingering guilty feeling at having acquired so many.

Until, that is, I browse some of the other cloth diaper sites out there and see other mamas talking about having 50+ diapers in their stash. Suddenly having 25 (counting up all the PUL only) doesn't seem so crazy. Whew!

So, since we've determined that I'M not crazy at least, how about you? Does your stash make you look crazy? Does it expose you as a hook & loop partisan, or a devotee of sized diapers? Obsessed with a color you didn't expect? What does your stash say about you?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Why Cloth Diapers? Part Three: Health

The third main reason that parents tend to choose cloth is one that wasn't really a consideration for me, so I didn't know quite as much cold hard data about the subject until I began researching this post. Regardless, there are parents out there who swear up and down that the first reason they considered cloth was out of sheer necessity for their baby's health.

3. Health

It may not have ever occurred to you (as it really didn't to me) that health considerations could be a factor in choosing cloth or disposables, but it seems to be true. Parents of babies with extra-sensitive skin report reduced diaper rash with cloth in mild cases, and in some cases-- such as the founder of Dearest Diapers-- the baby might have serious skin conditions, like eczema or dermatitis, that nothing will help until the switch is made to cloth.

Why is this? Well, let's stop for a moment to consider the materials we're talking about. Cloth diapers typically have a layer of cotton, bamboo, or hemp (or blends thereof) up against baby's skin. Disposables may have paper or a layer of cotton so thin that it feels papery-- not terribly soft, if you ask me.

On top of that, disposables are often touted as being more absorbent than cloth-- and while this may be true, it's not necessarily an advantage. Because the diaper is more disposable, parents tend to wait longer in between changes, which means that baby is sitting in a diaper containing urine for longer. Even though the diaper absorbs the moisture, the ammonia remains on baby's skin and is another factor that can cause diaper rash or exacerbate other skin conditions, as are the bacteria that begins to form as soon as baby wets or soils the diaper. If left long enough, these can compromise the skin enough to risk serious infection.

So we have to consider chemical exposure-- not something you want to have to worry about for your baby! The majority of disposable diapers involve a number of chemicals in their manufacture. This includes the bleaching of paper pulp, which in turn produces dioxins, which are considered an environmental pollutant by the WHO:
Dioxins are highly toxic and can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and also cause cancer. [...] Short-term exposure of humans to high levels of dioxins may result in skin lesions, such as chloracne and patchy darkening of the skin, and altered liver function. Long-term exposure is linked to impairment of the immune system, the developing nervous system, the endocrine system and reproductive functions. 
 Are the levels of dioxins in disposable diapers enough to cause these problems in babies? It's hard to know for sure, though I personally don't care to risk it. It's true that there are unbleached disposable diapers out there, such as Seventh Generation, but they tend to be more expensive than their bleached counterparts, and of course, both are more expensive than cloth diapers in the long run.

Consider, too, exactly why those disposables are so absorbent: a little something called sodium polyacrylate. This is the absorbent, granular polymer found inside disposables, that is capable of absorbing as much as 200-300 times its mass in liquid. You can often see the little gel "crystals" on a baby's skin when changing him out of a wet disposable. The problem here is that sodium polyacrylate can have an overly drying effect on baby's skin, leading to further diaper rash. It's also worth nothing that sodium polyacrylate was once included in tampons, but was removed from them in 1985 following links to toxic shock syndrome (TSS). No cases of TSS have been reported stemming from babies wearing disposable diapers (most likely due to the fact that the diapers are worn externally, while tampons are used internally) but again, it's still not something I'd really like to have against my baby's skin.

In addition, disposable diapers often incorporate dyes, fragrances, and plastics-- none of which I really want on my baby's most sensitive area. At least one study even links these things to an increased risk of asthma.

In the interest of fairness, let's look at the other side of the health question: do cloth diapers have any of these health concerns, or other ones? From the materials standpoint, the only concern I can think of would be the possibility of pesticides in non-organic cotton. However, the processing of cotton into fabric removes any pesticide residues.

It's true that poorly laundered cloth diapers can have a build-up of bacteria and ammonia which can lead to skin irritations for baby; it's also true that leaving a baby too long in a cloth diaper (just like with disposables) can lead to diaper rash. The bottom line is, if you change your baby as often as you should, and know how to wash your diapers, the incidence of skin irritations for cloth-diapered babies should be much lower.

So what's the takeaway? There are those who say that disposables are not worse for a baby's skin and health than cloth-- that the dioxin levels are negligible, that sodium polyacrylate has been proven non-irritating and safe, and so on. In my personal opinion, as with any case of a product with added chemicals vs a product without them, I prefer to err on the side of caution. Especially when it concerns my only son!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I got fluffy mail!

I got two of the three packages of diapers that I was expecting yesterday. It was like Christmas!

Here's the haul:

1 Diaper Rite one-size pocket diaper in "Nessie" (green)
1 Diaper Rite bamboo one-size pocket diaper in "Timberwolf" (gray)
1 Mother-ease one-size diaper
1 Rumparooz one-size diaper cover in powder blue
1 Go Green! Champ 3.0 one-size pocket diaper in "Toady Loady" (green again)
1 Imagine one-size fitted diaper in indigo
1 Imagine one-size diaper cover in indigo
1 Imagine "SmartFit" bamboo pre-fold, size medium

I also got a travel-size Planet Wise wet/dry bag, the Changing Diapers book and a small stick of CJ's BUTTer. I picked the Bamboo & Lotus Blossom scent and it smells amazing! The Snush had a poopy diaper right before bedtime so I got to try it out on him.

As a bonus, I also got my package from Baby Ink, a ridiculously awesome baby clothing store that specializes in punk/tattoo/rockabilly styles. My husband had been begging me to buy the Snush this Misfits shirt I had found, so I picked up that and a pair of board shorts to go with it.

Like Christmas, I tell you.

As you can see, I'm still in the 'experimenting with lots of different brands' phase. My stash consists of one or two items from a bunch of different brands. In fact, the other day I was drying a load of diapers and I had all the PUL hanging on my indoor drying rack, and I realized that every single diaper on it was a different brand.  Oy.

But I'm excited to get all this new fluffy goodness washed and prepped so I can start using it on the Snush!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.