Friday, October 22, 2010

adventures in cloth diapering

The Rainbow of Pee and Poop Collectors (aka diapers):

Today's disclaimer: I am not trying to make mothers who do not cloth diaper feel guilty. I am not trying to suggest that anyone who throws a diaper in the trash is solely responsible for destroying the a. earth b. ozone layer or c. our children's futures. My intent to only to share what we do and why we do it (and maybe make you laugh about it).

I decided to do a short (who am I kidding nothing I write is short) blog about cloth diapering. This was motivated by the following: a. most mom's of the current day do not cloth diaper (henceforth known as CD) and therefore find the act mystical and mysterious (much like witches and wizards, and why people are still talking about Sarah Palin) and well just plain ol weird b. well, I just like to raise awareness and c. It gave me an excuse to post a picture of Ella's diapered bum which is cute.

First let me tell you why we decided to CD. It's partly what you would expect the reason to be if you know me. Because I like to make other mothers feel guilty (no just kidding. See: disclaimer). The environment. That's reason numero uno (disclaimer: I only know like 20 Spanish words and most of them are labor coaching words). You may find some information about the environmental impact here. I'll admit that website is by some people called the "Real Diaper Association" so I imagine they might be biased. Noted. However, even if they are biased, the fact is, in a baby's first year of life alone he or she will soil approximately 3,000 diapers. I don't know where I heard that number but it's fairly simple math. 8 or so diapers a day x's 365 days is like 2,900 ish. Close enough right. That's a LOT of poop and pee. And plastic. The argument has been made that perhaps the washing of cloth is equally harmful but I'd say that's a matter of opinion. We are pretty water conscious around here (and by that I mean when we boil corn on the cob my husband then uses it to water the plants. That's pretty conscious people.) and we still feel that the cloth is a more eco-friendly option. So there's that. Also I drive a reallly really big car (it's a Toyota Sequoia. They did not pay me to say that. I just did.). It uses gas. A lot. I try to save where I can. Frankly, what else are you going to put 4 kids (and their crap) in? Also it has two tv's (that's just in the interest of full disclosure, it's pretty sweet to have 2 tv's in your car but also totally unnecessary). Anyway, I can't plant a tree every time I go somewhere so I do what I can. Turn off the lights. Conserve water. Don't litter. Cloth diaper. :)

However there is another compelling reason to CD and if you don't believe me I invite you to come to our house and see for yourself (if you know where we live. If you don't please just take my word for it, you don't have to come to California just for me to prove a point). Point made. Cloth diapers feel good. Like really really good. Like so good I wish I wore diapers. Well not really but you get the point. Go ahead. Touch a dispo (that's CD slang for disposable) and touch a CD. There's really no comparison. Plus they're cute. And they aren't filled with toxic chemicals. Toxic. Chemicals. That's all.

We use fuzzibunz. I'll readily admit these are the Cadillac of CD'ing (I believe my friend Karen coined that term. She's awesome and also CD'ed her babe). I used the old flat folds and covers when my other kids were babies and they were kind of a PITA (that's short for pain in the ass, for future reference). The particular ones we bought are one size and will fit from birth to potty training, thanks to adjustable elastic and nice little snaps. This is not your momma's diaper folks. These beauties have a cute outer waterproof shell and a microfiber insert that you stuff inside a pocket. Thus why they are often referred to as "pocket" or AIO (all in one). No pins. No folding. Just stuff the pocket. Put in on the baby. Baby pees (or does something slightly messier) and you remove the inner liner from the pocket and toss into the hamper (or whatever). I swear as I live and breathe you do not have to touch poop (I don't really care because I've touched far worse than poop. I'll spare you the details, but I am a RN after all. It's messy.). Anyway no pee or poop hands.

Here's the diaper in two pieces:

And together (I wish there was touchavision because these suckers are soft):

Also... when the poop gets messier they make these fancy little liners that look like toilet paper. You just flush them right down the toilet. Viola. People fear the poop. I get it. The mess etc. But it's not what you think. When the baby does her business you just wipe her bottom down with a homemade baby wipe (recipe below), remove the liner and stuff it all (wipe included) inside the "icky" bag (pictured below). Many folks like to put the icky bag inside of a diaper pail. I probably will too eventually, but honestly the laundry room door works pretty well for now. Ella's poop isn't too stinky. And nothing sits long enough to smell like pee.

We also have travel size "icky" bag (pictured below). Good for dirty diapers and other things that are wet and/or stink. I wouldn't recommend banana peels though. They just rot.

(Yes it has her name on it. It's cute. I'm all about the cute.)

Anyway, when you're ready (which is about once a day for me), you just toss the whole bunch of dirty business, including the bag, right into the wash. Washing is simple. Soak and rinse in cold/cold then wash and rinse in hot/cold. The rinse is important. Residue makes smell. Take my word for it on that one. We use the products pictured below. I love the Charlies soap (however, it is kinda costly) but I started adding Borax to make sure the ammonia was gone and the Oxyclean every so often to combat stains (laying them in the sun works brilliantly. Sorry people who live in Washington state. You're going to have to find sun first.). The Arm and Hammer is a nice alternative to the Charlies (and about $5 for that big bottle so pretty cheap). No bleaching. No fabric softeners. Nothing with smelly stuff in it. It's important to know that products with things like fabric softener or perfumes will actually make your diapers less absorbent which is not good, unless you like to wake up to a bed full of poop and pee. Which I do not. Especially since we co-sleep mostly. (Note: Charlies did not pay me to endorse their product but it is really quite fantastic. Non-toxic, biodegradable, and good for sensitive butts. Fitting right in with my whole eco-conscious thing.)

I'd be kind of a jerk if I didn't address cost. The fuzzibunz aren't cheap. We have I think about 15 diapers which is enough if you're washing daily or every other day. And they're about $18-20 a pop (I got all of mine from eBay and paid using Paypal {this is a shameless plug for Paypal and eBay because my husband works for them and hey, someones gotta pay the bills so I can blog in my free time). Anyway, like I said not cheap. But overall still cheaper than buying package after package of plastic. I'm not gonna lie, again, I chose them because they were convenient. I thought the hubby wouldn't be intimidated by them (well he isn't intimidated by much but anyway) and the kids could use them (yeah right. Suuuuure) and hopefully when I go back to work (insert frown here) the daycare provider won't mind using them. They are super duper easy. There are about a billion (ok that's an exaggeration) CD options out there. You've got the AIO's, the plain old flatfolds with covers like gramma used, prefolds, Gdiapers (which are kind of a hybrid), wool soakers to cover the prefolds (which I would have used if I had done more research ahead of time, and I will in fact be crocheting some of these up shortly), the list goes on (not much longer though cause I listed a lot). Fabric options vary too. And I would be amiss if I didn't point out that the fuzzibunz are made of a microfiber which, while very soft, do tend to retain some ammonia smell and require special care to prevent that (again, I'd probably go with plain out flatfolds and wool covers for home use if I did it over, but I doubt many moms want to handwash and pin and all that crap. I don't blame them.).

All in all I'd say the CD experience has been great for everyone. Ella has a cute little (color coordinated) bottom (pictured below). She's suffered no rashes (other than being a tiny bit red from having some poop on her bottom at night once without me knowing). In fact we are getting ready to go to the Ci-tay (as Steve Perry would say) and I'm TERRIFIED of having to use dispos. She's got such sensitive skin. I love knowing I'm doing a nice thing for her butt by putting something cushy on it.

Here's our changing station (which amounts to a basket with diapers and the homemade wipes):

And Ella is wearing her pink diaper in this picture (cute right?).

That's the CD rundown. Feel free to ask questions. You make ask me if I'm crazy, but I swear I'm pretty sure I'm not.

Homemade wipe solution:

2 cups water
2 T baby wash
1 T baby oil

mix together and pour over your cleansing rags of choice (I bought wash rags from Target and store them in a rubbermaid container). Rags, pieces of flannel etc.


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