Baby Topics: Cloth Diapers

This post has been in my drafts for over a year! I figured I’d spend just a few minutes and finish it up to share my thoughts!

I have had about a dozen people ask me about cloth diapers and every time I am so happy to share our experience; but that means I’ve basically typed up this post about… a dozen times!

I thought I’d just type up a post about cloth diapers and then when someone asks, I can simply give them a link to this post – which will invariably have MUCH more information than me just typing something up really quickly in reply to them.

So, we chose to cloth diaper for many reasons, but they are (in order of importance to me):

  1. Much lower chemical exposure to baby than disposables. That is why we chose organic cotton prefolds (more on this later).
  2. Environmental impact: (1) Less energy and resources in making cloth diapers (generally a 1 time purchase for use from newborn to potty learned) than disposables and (2) less waste generated in using cloth diapers than buying disposables every week.
  3. Ease of use. Not that disposables aren’t easy and cloth diapers are easier. Not at all – but cloth diapers aren’t hard; they are quite easy to use and clean and that was a plus for me.

When I was pregnant (all 7 months!) I researched the heck out of cloth diapers. I wanted to be frugal, and I wanted to use prefolds and that was all I knew when I started out. I ultimately chose to buy Bummis covers and prefolds, both from people selling them used on Craigslist. I bought  Bummis Super Whisper Wraps from this super nice lady who had like six kids. She was knitting and they were all playing in the yard when I pulled up. “Oh, it’s going to be so much fun to be a mom!” I thought. From another woman I bought prefolds (she said they were organic, so hopefully they were). I had sizes newborn through medium all set! I was on the search for larger sizes and ended up buying a whole set of prefolds and Dappi diaper covers from another mom. Don’t do Dappi. Just don’t. They were awful.  The prefolds were useless, too… they were made with the type of cotton you might make a bed sheet from. No absorbency,  no quilting, nothing. I used neither of these things!

Anyway, when my little one ended up coming quite early, I knew I was going to have to buy MORE diapers, but being on hospital bedrest and then in the NICU for almost a month, I was in no place to scour Craigslist looking for diapers for my little preemie. I really like Bummis for their ethics, so I opted to get more of those. It so happens, too, that Bummis makes one of the smallest covers on the market – the newborn size Super Brite. It can fit babies from 4-9 pounds! And once our little one came home from the NICU he was about 6 pounds and they fit him great. He wore them until he was 9 pounds on the dot and then *POOF* they were too small.

So, before I get into all the things I bought – let me say this:

Don’t buy a full set of just one thing. Don’t buy 36 AIOs (all in ones) from the same brand and call it good. What if you hate them? What if they don’t fit *your* baby right? Sure, you can sell them, but you’ll still lose some money. Buy ONE of a few different brands of AIOs if that’s what you want. Buy a couple pockets if they interest you. Buy a couple different prefolds if that’s the route you want to take. Buy a few different brands of covers for them (either one size or newborn size).  Or whatever you want to try. Try them out on your newborn and see how you like them. I read advice like this and I didn’t listen; but I was pretty convinced I wanted to do prefolds and covers, and luckily I did end up liking them. However, what if I had not been happy with prefolds and then I’d be stuck with a whole bunch of them until I bought something else and sold those. Just something to keep in mind. You can re-sell your diapers; I have had luck on Craigslist or the Mothering.com Trading Post.

We did end up trying several different types of diapers (we tried AIOs and pockets in addition to prefolds and covers) but we ultimately ended up using prefolds and covers and I loved them. If we ever have another baby we will do prefolds (or flats) and covers again. So, because I don’t have a lot of experience with AIOs and pockets and because I prefer prefolds and covers for the following reasons:

  1. Easy to use. Some would argue this, but I found them incredibly easy to put on both a newborn and a toddler. Velcro is easier than snaps, but by 8 months my son figured out how to rip the velcro open and take his diaper off! We switched to snaps at that time.
  2. Easy to wash. AIOs tend to be hard to get clean and take a long time to dry. You need to pull dirty inserts out of pockets. With most covers you can hang them to dry if they didn’t get dirty and re-use them (until either they get soiled or it’s the next wash day, whatever comes first).
  3. A natural fiber is touching baby’s skin. Most AIOs (not all!) and pockets have fleece touching baby’s skin and fleece is made entirely from plastic. Yes, you can get microfiber or fleece type inserts for covers, but for the most part covers are used with prefolds and flats and those tend to be cotton or hemp. I chose organic cotton because that is better both for the environment and for baby.
  4. Cheaper. AIOs and even pockets are much more expensive than prefolds or flats and covers.
  5. Durable. Prefolds and flats wash and wear much better than AIOs and pockets. And if one tears for some reason, it’s easily replaced for just a few dollars. If an AIO tears you’ll need to repair it or replace it for upwards of $15-30.

Ultimately, we used/tried:

Anything I bought new was either from Amazon (get an Amazon rewards visa and use it for your regular grocery and gas purchases and you’ll be able to get a lot for free! But pay it off every month, please!) or Nicki’s Diapers. Nicki’s is a great company and they offer competitive prices and free shipping on most diapers.

Our experience and if I had it to do all over again:

I would use flats instead of prefolds. Flats get cleaner and dry faster. We had some stink issues with our prefolds and it was this (paired with Bunkers only wetting one or two diapers in a 24 hour period by 15 months – he was using the potty pretty well by then) that made us stop using cloth. I would only have four or five diapers in the pail after 48 hours and cloth diapers shouldn’t really sit any longer than that. It felt like a waste and a strain on water resources to wash that small of a load. So we switched to disposable diapers at that point. I felt bad about it, but we were only using 1 or 2 a day. After a while we switched to pull up style disposable diapers and then when Bunkers was about 22 months old I bought some cloth training pants. The week after his 2nd birthday he was not having any accidents anymore! And he’s been fully committed to using the potty since then. We used a couple different training pants and I really prefered the Imse Vimse organic cotton ones. They held in one pee very well.

Also if I had it to do over again, I would just stick with Bummis for the newborn stage up until they are sitting up and I would use velcro. Velcro is so easy to put on and when it’s the fifth diaper change of the night at 3am you really don’t want to try and do four (or more!) snaps. You just don’t. Thirsties offer velcro and we used those when Bunkers outgrew the newborn Bummis at about 4 months until about 12 months when we couldn’t keep the velcro ones on him anymore (trick: keep a onesie on them. It was a super hot summer, so that didn’t work for us and we were doing EC and needed quick access).

Once baby is ready to sit up, I feel like velcro is a bit of a hinderance. It’s stiff and kinda bulky and doesn’t bend well. And a lot of babies will figure out how to undo velcro around this time!

Once Bunkers outgrew the Bummis diapers I had bought on Craigslist and online and was ripping open the velcro on the Thirsties, I switched to snaps. I ended up buying Flip diaper covers by BumGenius and I am very glad I did! They have two snaps on each flap and an adjustable rise. We never once had a leak or blowout with these diapers and if there is a next time I will probably use these over the Thirsties.

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See how the velcro seems to make it hard for him to sit straight?!

Here’s what my stash would look like if I were expecting another baby:

For the newborn size (4-8 weeks)

For the infant size (2-8 months-ish)

For the older infant/young toddler size (10 months to potty learned)

  • Flip Diaper Covers – 6 total
  • Organic Birdseye Flats – 36-48 total (Might need more by this age to double up for nighttime)
  • Snappi (we were not using a snappi anymore, just doing a newspaper fold, but some people find them still helpful at this stage!)

Also, for all stages:

  • Diaper pail (I don’t recommend the one I used, so research to find one that works well with cloth diapers and cloth diaper pail bags)
  • Diaper pail bags (Get two so that you have one to put in the pail when the other gets taken to the wash)
  • Wet bags for in the diaper bag

For diaper pail bags and wet bags I wholeheartedly recommend Planet Wise! They are available on Nicki’s Diapers or Amazon for amazing prices. We still use them for our family cloth in the bathroom!

That all looks so nice and simple, huh?! And it is, and that’s what I like about it.

Did you cloth diaper? What kinds did you use?

Yarn Along

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I’m joining Ginny today for the first time in a while! I have finally had some more time to knit (and if I’m totally honest here that is thanks to my recent backing out of most social media) and so here I am with some projects to share!

I made a set of these baby booties earlier this year for another friend and has a request to a pair of them to be made for another friend’s baby… and then she found out she was having twins! So I’ve got two sets of these booties to make and I am also making a pair of hats to go with. This mama lives in Alaska, after all!

I sewed myself a new project bag, too. I have been using a smaller one for about two years, now, but I decided I needed a bigger bag for both sweater making and for projects like this – ones with many balls and pieces. Keep it all together! I followed this tutorial: Simple Drawstring Bag.

Notice baby 'Harry Potter' wand on the floor. Haha!

Notice baby ‘Harry Potter’ wand on the floor. Haha!

Drawstring function.

Drawstring function.

All inside!

All inside!

Projects!

Projects!

Yarn Along

Always sneaking in late…

Joining Ginny again this week for Yarn Along!

I didn’t met my goals from last week… but I did finish two projects!

yarn along 1-23I knit Bunkers a wool cowl and set of mittens. At our Waldorf school mornings they do out-side time no matter the weather, so I had to knit him some mittens. His hands are always very cold when we’re outside!

I didn’t follow a pattern for the cowl, I just knit away! And the mittens are very loosely derived from this pattern for 1 year old mittens.

I have shelved the newborn sweater for now. I have another friend in mind for that one. It was taking me a long time to knit it… and I’m not even half way done! I will keep knitting on it as I have time.

For this coming week I’d like to make another pair of the knitted booties from last week for yet another friend with a little one on the way. I’d also like to work on a sweater or vest for Bunkers.

Yarn Along

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I am joining Ginny at Small Things again this week for Yarn Along!

I am finally doing some more knitting! I just seem to have so little baby-free time and so many things to do in that time that knitting just gets put on the back burner.

But, a friend of mine is having a baby any day, now, and I wanted to knit her a few things. I decided to just knit and I gave Bunkers a ball of scrap yarn and a huge crochet hook and he had fun playing with that while I got to knit a bit yesterday and today.

I am over half way done with these booties. I’m not sure what I think of them, yet, but we’ll see how they look completed.

I just started this sweet newborn sweater. The colors look better together than the image suggests… I promise!

It feels SO SO SO good to get some more knitting done. It’s such a wonderful relaxer.

Crafty : Baby/Kid Pants from Sweaters

I have a cat… two cats, actually… but one of my cats has this thing for wool. He loves to EAT it. He really goes to town.

Therefore, I have a stash of wool sweaters in my craft room with holes in them, just waiting to be turned into something!

I had the idea to use the sleeves to make pants for Bunkers. The kid is forever out of pants! I can’t do laundry fast enough to keep up with how fast he gets pants dirty.

I had several other long sleeved shirts in my ‘up-cycling’ stash as well – knit, jersey, thermal, etc… so I started with some cotton fabrics to test out how to make them. I used a pair of Bunkers’ existing pants to get a general feel for how I should be making my cuts. The overall length, crotch length, waist width, etc. Once I have the basic shape, I cut up a bunch of shirts!

You can find some good shirts for this activity at Goodwill or other thrift/charity shops. Men’s sweaters or long sleeved shirts will make for larger pants (12 months+) and women’s will make for smaller. The sweater I use in this tutorial was purchased at Goodwill for $3. And, as is often the case at thrift stores, it was already partially felted for me! 🙂

If you’re using wool (or a blend with at least 50% wool), you will probably want to felt the sweater before you make pants. I washed my sweaters on warm heat and dried them prior to making the pants. The sweater I bought had already been felted once, so it got two washings. I had already felted the other sweaters, so in total they got two washings as well. AND if you’re cloth diapering, these wool pants can double as soakers/longies!

Materials you’ll need:

Long sleeved shirt (with sleeves long enough for your baby)

3/4 inch elastic

thread

Start by laying your baby’s current pants on the sleeve to get a feel for where you want to make your cuts. In making my pants, I gave a bit of growing room in the length. Be sure to leave seam allowance at the crotch and hem allowance at the waist. I made my waist cut a little over an inch above where I thought the waist should go.

Since my baby is cloth diapered, I tried to make the bum area nice and baggy. I didn’t make a very exaggerated crotch curve.

Once you’ve got one side cut, place it over the other sleeve (making sure the up-the-arm seams are lined up) and use it as a pattern to make your second leg.

Once you’ve got that, turn one inside out. Matching up the up-the-arm seams, place the sleeve that’s still right-side-out INSIDE the other one. You’ll now have right sides together inside.

Make sure your cuffs are lined up so your pant legs will be even.

Here’s where you’ll be sewing up the crotch.

Serge the two pieces together making a U shape. If you don’t have a serger, just use an overlock stitch on your sewing machine. If you don’t know what that is, just use a zig zag stitch. Don’t get discouraged! This isn’t hard.

Once you’ve made your first seam, pull the inside leg out.

You should now have this:

Now we’re going to make the hem. When using knit cotton or jersey fabrics I don’t bother to pin, but with the wool I pinned my hem in place. You want to do about a 1 inch hem. We’re using 3/4 inch elastic, so we want to make sure it’s going to fit.

I used this stitch on my machine to make my hem. It gives a nice finished look that stretches. If you’re not sure what you should use, do a zig zag stitch.

Stitch around your hem, but stop about two inches before you you close it up so we can get the elastic in there. To determine how long you need your elastic, either use a current pair of pants that fit your baby as a guide, or find your baby and put the elastic around his/her waist and measure what seems like a comfortable fit. Once you’ve got your measurement, add 1 inch to that and cut. Hook a safety pin at one end and use that to thread the elastic through your hem.

Once all the way around, overlap your elastic 1/2 inch and sew back and forth and back and forth using a zig zag stitch.

Tuck the elastic back in your hem and then close it up! You’re done!

Edited 12/22/2012:

Here are some pictures of my son in these pants, as requested! 🙂 We were at the zoo. *I have the cuffs rolled up – so these pants will be long enough that he can wear them next year, too!

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Baby Topics: Breastfeeding – Our First Year

Before I even became pregnant I knew I wanted to breastfeed. Nutrition has always been incredibly important to me (although, what I have considered ‘correct nutrition’ has changed many times in my life – we’ve settled on what I truly believe is ‘right’, now, though!) and so  therefore breastfeeding seemed like a no-brainer. I was very passionate about breastfeeding even before I gave birth, and in my mind anyone who didn’t breastfeed either caved to peer pressure to bottle feed, didn’t try hard enough, or was lazy.

Little did I know that I was going to be faced with bottle feeding.

I was afraid when my water broke early that I wasn’t going to get to breastfeed. It was one of my biggest fears. I was convinced that because I was having a premature baby that likely we wouldn’t get to breastfeed. Luckily for me, the hospital set me up with a pump and not 20 minutes after I got back to my room after delivering the nurse came in and said, “You should pump.”

So I did. And I did and I did and did. Every two and a half hours. Day and night. Every day. For almost three months.

Bunkers was on IV nutrition for the first few days, and then he was given formula for two days until my milk came in. Then he was given breastmilk with HMF – human milk fortifier. It is a formula they mix with breastmilk to give to preemies. It adds two calories to every ounce. TWO. Knowing what I know now… I would never have allowed that. They sent some home with us to continue mixing into breastmilk once we were home from the NICU… the ingredients?

Nonfat Milk, Whey Protein Concentrate, Corn Syrup Solids, Medium-Chain Triglycerides, Calcium Phosphate, Potassium Citrate. Less than 2% of the Following: Soy Lecithin, Minerals (Magnesium Chloride, Sodium Citrate, Calcium Carbonate, Sodium Chloride, Potassium Phosphate, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Cupric Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Sodium Selenate), Vitamins (Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D3, d-Alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate, Phylloquinone, Thiamin Chloride Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Cyanocobalamin, Niacinamide, Folic Acid, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Ascorbic Acid, m-Inositol), and Potassium Hydroxide.
Contains milk and soy ingredients.

Look at those first ingredients! Here I was trying my hardest to pump breastmilk for my baby because it was what I KNEW was best, and they were tainting it by mixing in this useless stuff. A woman’s body knows what it’s doing. It’s scientifically accurate to say that the breastmilk of a woman who’s given birth to a preemie is different than a woman who’s given birth at full term. And breastmilk is ever changing. For each age, stage and environment.

At any rate, Bunkers was getting breastmilk. And I felt good about that.

The lactation consultants at the hospital were very kind and very helpful. They wanted me to breastfeed, they wanted me to succeed. However, DH and I were told time and time again that Bunkers could not go home until he could consume all of the milk given to him via bottle in a 48 hour period. No milk left over; no unfinished bottles. It seemed as though breastfeeding didn’t fit into their requirements of him. I decided that we’d concentrate on bottle feeding and get him home; once home we would just switch to full time breastfeeding.

If I had it to do over again, here’s where I’d make one of my biggest changes: breastfeed, breastfeed, breastfeed. Take every chance, every opportunity. Listen to those lactation consultants. Put the baby to the breast! I was so focused on the end result (leave the NICU) that I didn’t take the time to just be with my baby, be his mama, and bond with him at the breast.

Bunkers was in the NICU for 25 days, and once home he was a baby with a preference: the bottle. I tried and tried and tried to get him to latch. I tried with all kinds of gadgets and gizmos. I tried refusing him the bottle and doing a full weekend of just putting him to the breast. Nothing worked.

So I pumped. I just kept pumping. Pump, feed, sleep a little. Rinse, repeat. I said to DH, “I feel like there is no night or day… there is only just this.”

After 10 weeks we were so done. We were done with the pump, the pump parts, the bottles, the washing, the sterilizing, the spilled milk… It was overwhelming. And my supply was diminishing. I had been several days ahead with freezer stash just a few weeks after coming home from the NICU. By 10 weeks postpartum I had only enough ‘stash’ for the next two feeds. We were desperate for something different.

We decided then that we were going to switch to formula. We wanted to start enjoying our baby.

That was a Wednesday. Bunkers was almost 11 weeks old (4 weeks old adjusted age).

Thursday my mom came over and I was telling her our plan. I had just fed Bunkers a bottle and needed to pump. My mom said,

Why don’t you try him at the breast after he’s fed?

So I did. And he latched like he’d been doing it his whole life.

And let me say here that it’s not like I hadn’t tried latching him AFTER a feed before. Of course I had. It was just that this time something clicked for Bunkers. He GOT it.

So he nursed and then fell asleep. I was IN SHOCK.

And here’s the miraculous part… the part I never saw coming… the part I thank Bunkers for still to this day…

Within 48 hours he was exclusively breastfeeding.

No bottles, no pumping. Reliving this as I write just brings back all those emotions and I can still feel the absolute elation… Ahhhhh…. what a relief!

After that breastfeed with my mom, I offered Bunkers the breast when he was next hungry. And he latched and nursed. And then at the next… I was so scared it was all going to come tumbling down, but it didn’t! We did pump and feed sessions (me pumping, DH feeding) that night and then the next, but that was all. And we never looked back! Bunkers has never had a bottle since then.

That’s pretty much our story! It’s not overly interesting after that. Just lots of nursing! Bunkers has been a great nurser since he decided to start doing it.

I have so much more appreciation for mothers who have trouble breastfeeding. Be it lack of knowledge, lack of support, or even just plain lack of exposure thanks to our society. I still feel like every mother owes it to herself and her baby to at least give it a wholehearted try, though. And to seek professional help from a Lactation Consultant or Le Leche League leader.

He’s now 13 months old and still nursing. He has been nursing less in the last few months, and he nurses now mostly at night (we co-sleep) with five or six feeds during the day. Mostly just before or after meals and if he gets a really bad boo-boo and needs the comfort.

I was asked recently how long I plan to breastfeed. I don’t think it’s really that simple! In all honesty, I feel lucky to even be breastfeeding at all. I’m leaving the rest up to Bunkers. It’s my job to be his mama, to tend to his needs, give him love in any way I can… and for us, part of that is nursing.