Monday, April 30, 2012

Kindle Fire Giveaway!


Techy Tribe, Mom to Bed by 8, the Iowa-Mom and Bella Savvy have teamed to to giveaway a Kindle Fire to one lucky reader! This is a perfect gadget gift for anyone on your list including mom! No matter if your are a social media junkie, book lover or even a ole' fashioned web surfer, this is one product you will want to win. Special thank you to the wonderful bloggers who made this possible including our co-hosts: Giveaway Bandit, Mommy's Memorandum and eReading on the Cheap.
Kindle Fire, Full Color 7" Multi-touch Display, Wi-Fi - RV: $199
Movies, apps, games, music, reading and more, plus Amazon's revolutionary, cloud-accelerated web browser
  • Over 20 million movies, TV shows, songs, magazines, and books
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  • Ultra-fast web browsing - Amazon Silk
  • Free cloud storage for all your Amazon content
  • Vibrant color touchscreen with extra-wide viewing angle - same as an iPad
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  • Favorite children's books, graphic novels, and magazines in rich color
  • Amazon Prime Members enjoy unlimited, instant streaming on thousands of popular movies and TV shows.
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Giveaway starts on April 30 at 12:01AM EST and ends May 15 at 11:59PM EST. Open to the US and Canadian only; must be 18 years of age or older to enter.
Who is ready for some techy summer fun? Enter to win a Kindle Fire below on the rafflecopter form.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Reflecting on My Birth Experience, and Why My Views Have Changed

This post is going to be super personal.  It may offend someone.  I don't know.  All I know is that I've been thinking a lot about this topic for the last 9 weeks, and I feel like sharing.  Maybe it will help another mom get over some of the regrets/guilt/general sadness that I've been dealing with about Eisley's birth.

You may have read Eisley's birth story. It was an intense experience.  Over 4 days of natural labor, intense contractions, very little sleep, no drugs, and my body just not progressing. Eventually we had to transfer from the calm warmth of our birth center, to the sterile and unwanted environment of a hospital.  It was a hard decision, but both my midwife and myself knew that I was just one of those unlucky, and very small percentage, of natural-birthing moms who just wasn't going to be able to finish the process of birth naturally.  It was pretty devastating to me, I am not going to lie.  I cried about it.  A lot.  When my midwife told me what I was already feeling, that it was time to transfer to a hospital, I bawled.  This was not what I wanted for me, or for my little girl.  I wanted my beautiful, peaceful, natural water birth.  I wanted to claim my womanly strength, and the experience of bringing life into this world on my terms.  I had done four and a half days of hard work all on my own, no drugs, no interventions, but unfortunately also no sleep.  My body was shutting down.  I had used all the energy stores I had.

Sleep was really not an option.  We'd broken my water after I stalled at 7 cm, thinking that would get things going again.  It didn't.  I closed back down to 4 cm and stayed there.  For a couple of hours.  Contractions had been so intense for those 4 days/nights that I woke up for every single one.  That meant that I had been sleeping maybe ten minutes at a time for over 100 hours.  Brutal.  If I'd been able to sleep more, and for longer periods of time, I think I could have done it.  I think I could have gone on.  But my pain threshold had been reached.  Exhaustion saps you of your ability to deal with pain, and I'd dealt with quite a lot, for quite a long time.

By the time we got to the hospital, I was practically ready to beg for an immediate epidural.  I needed sleep, and I needed some relief from the now constant pain.  It was an inner death.  I was giving up.  I was weak.  I was unable to do what my body was designed to do.  I felt guilt, sorrowful, inadequate.  Instead of a peaceful water birth, my daughter was brought into this world with drugs, pitocin, epesiotomies, and vacuums.  I planned on guiding her head out with my own hands.  Instead, a vacuum did that work.

Of course, when she was born I forgot about everything for a while.  It really wasn't for a couple of weeks that I started to process what I'd been through.  I didn't really know what to make of it, or how to deal.  I felt cheated and disappointed.  Then one of my friends from church made a comment that made me grateful, for the first time, for all of those medical interventions that I had been through.

"Just think" she said, "if you had been giving birth a hundred years ago or so, you and Eisley probably would have died."

I'd never thought of it this way.  I'd never stopped to be grateful for modern medical technology.  I'd looked at modern hospital birth as something of an abomination.  Hospitals make women feel that their bodies aren't capable of birthing on their own.  For the record, I still do believe this to a degree.  I think 99% of women are perfectly capable of a natural birth if they trusted themselves and gave it a try.  But for that other 1%, that small group of women that I found myself a part of, modern hospital births can be a life saver.  Instead of feeling shame and self-imposed condemnation about the way things worked out, for the first time I was able to see how very very lucky both Eisley and myself were.

We could have died.  If not both of us, probably one of us.

Since this realization, I've wondered if God let me go through this because He knew I would learn a very important lesson.  One that I'm sure I'll keep learning for the rest of my life.

I've got to stop judging people.  I don't know their story.  I don't know the extenuating circumstances.  I don't know where they've come from, or what they've come out of.  I judge people all the time.  It's what we do.  It's ok.  You can admit it to yourself, you probably do it too.  You probably do it a lot.  I know that I do.

I've judged a whole lot of women for the way they've gone about having their babies.  I've felt superior about something that I had no experience with whatsoever.  I watched documentaries, read books, and thought I had it all figured out.  And I was a fool.

I worked hard for 4 and a half days.  I labored.  I mean, I really labored.  I may not have been able to have my daughter naturally, but I did something difficult, amazing, and life changing regardless of the help I had in the process.  It doesn't make me less of a woman, any more than your scheduled induction, c-section, or epidural-aided birth makes you less of a woman.  What I did, what you may have done, is the most difficult thing any woman can do.  Sometimes in life we need help... sometimes it's just not possible to rely solely on our own strength.  There's no shame in that, but there is a lesson in it.

I rely on my own strength far too much.  I think I've got it all figured out.  I think I can save myself, do it myself, find my way all by myself.  The thing is, as a Christian I should know that all of that is crap.  I can't save myself, I can't rely on my own strength to get me through.  Without help, without intervention I would have died.

It's amazing to me the way God shows us what we need to see, and how capable He is of helping us learn multiple lessons through one situation.  For me it was that I needed to stop judging others, especially other women, and that I need to stop thinking I'm strong enough to do it all on my own.  Sometimes I need help, and that is totally ok.  It took my daughter's birth going completely the opposite of the way I'd planned to once again see the goodness of God.  It took my daughter's birth to see how lucky I am to have been saved when others have perished.  My daughter's life is a gift, a beautiful wonderful gift... and so is mine.

It's taken me a long time to realize this and to come to terms with the way my daughter's birth went.  I went through all the stages of grief.  I cried when I saw other's beautiful photos of their water births.  I was angry at God for taking something away from me that I thought I deserved.  It's taken me 9 weeks to realize how blessed I am to be alive, to have a beautiful healthy daughter.  I could have died.  Eisley could have died.  I am so thankful now for modern medicine and a midwife that knew when to call it.  I'm unbelievably thankful for a God who saves me over and over.  I'm thankful for life and love and the  fact that I even get to be here to tell my story.  It may not have played out the way I wanted, but it played out the way I needed it to.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Real Diaper Week - What's in Those Disposables, Anyway?

SO I got started with cloth diapering because I wanted to save my family big bucks over the course of our baby-years.  Then I got hooked because they are ridiculously cute.  Then I felt really good about my decision when I learned about all the chemical grossness in disposables, and about all the potential health risks inherent with them.
Now, not everyone's baby will have a reaction to disposable diapers.  Some families will use them exclusively for all of their kids and never notice an issue.  Some unlucky families will have issues though.  And some of them will be pretty bad.  I just think that every mom and dad should know what the possible health ramifications are no matter what you choose.  An informed parent is a smart parent.  Our babies are too precious to stick our heads in the sand.

I can't tell you that my baby never gets rashes now that she is exclusively cloth diapered.  She has sensitive skin like her momma, and that means a red tushie now and again.  The wonderful thing for us though is that she's gotten a lot fewer rashes since switching to cloth, and the ones that she does get are much milder. She got some pretty nasty rashes in the first month of her little life, and I just felt so horrible for her!  I feel a lot better knowing that she spends a lot fewer days with an irritated bum now that she's in cloth.  Any time you expose your baby's bottom to wetness there is a possibility for rashes to occur.  That is why, with either cloth or disposables, it is so important to change their diapers as soon as you know they've done their business.

The thing I like about cloth is that, even with stay dry options, you know as a mom that your baby will need to be changed often in order to keep them comfortable.  With disposables, it's easy to put off diaper changes because they can soak up so much urine.  In fact, by some accounts, disposable diapers can soak up almost 800 times their weight.  This let me slack off on my diaper-changing duties a few times, and I know I'm not the only one.  The problem is that while baby may feel dry, they are still sitting in their own urine, not to mention the chemicals that are absorbing them.  It's not good for their sensitive skin.

The chemical that allows a diaper to soak up so much urine is called Sodium Polyacrylate.  You know those little gel-like crystals that you sometime see on your baby's behind when you change them?  That's Sodium Polyacrylate.  This chemical is thought to be part of the cause of skin irritation and respiratory problems in babies.  In fact, this same chemical was taken out of tampons because it was causing Toxic Shock Syndrome.  We don't really know what kind of long term effects this chemical may have because it hasn't been used for very long in diapers.   The thing is that your baby's skin, like our adult skin, absorbs some of whatever chemical substance that comes into contact with it, especially for long periods of time.  I personally don't feel comfortable letting this potentially toxic chemical sit against my baby's skin for a few years.  Not only that, but since it doesn't always stay in the diaper, it freaks me out that these little gel crystals could be making their way into my little girl's lady parts.  Yikes.

Most diapers, usually with the exception of "green" disposables, are bleached with chlorine to make them that nice white color.  The problem with this is that it creates a chemical byproduct known as dioxins.  The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has listed dioxins as a highly carcinogenic chemical.  It is extremely toxic.  The World Health Organization has stated that exposure to dioxins can cause skin irritations and reactions, impairments to the immune, nervous, and endocrine systems, altered liver function, and impairments to reproductive functions.  All I can say about that is, why in the world are companies still bleaching their diapers?  And why aren't they made to post a warning on their packaging like cigarette companies since their product contains cancer-causing chemicals?

Another thing to think about if you a diapering a little boy is that there is some evidence that disposable diapers can adversely affect male reproductive health.  Disposable diapers trap more heat in them than breathable cloth diapers, and with little boys this heat can contribute to higher scrotal temperatures.  Doctors believe that this can have a lasting affect on male sperm count and the ability to reproduce.  There is nothing conclusive yet on this subject, but it has been raised as a concern amongst some pediatricians and others in the medical field.  Definitely something to think about.

There are a lot more chemicals and potential side affects than the ones I've listed here, but I don't want this post to be just a scare tactic.  I really want to be clear that I believe every parent should be aware of the potential risks and complications with both cloth and disposable diapering.  Personally, when I weighed them out I decided cloth was a safer and healthier way to go for my baby.  She still gets the occasional red bum, but nothing like when she was in disposables for a month.  I also feel good about keeping her skin away from all of those gross chemicals.  She'll be exposed to chemicals her entire life.  I'm not naive enough to think that I can protect her from all chemicals all the time.  I do, however, want to protect her from as much chemical exposure as I can.  Choosing cloth is one way that I can do that, and I feel really good about it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Real Diaper Week- So you think you can't afford to cloth diaper?

PhotobucketDiapering a baby is usually one of a household's biggest expenses in their baby's first two or three years.  If you use disposables you will spend anywhere from $1500 (if you're super frugal and use coupons ever time) to $3000 (if you can't be bothered with coupons ever and the very thought gives you hives).  That's a lot of money, even if it is spread out over a few years.

If you cloth diaper your baby, you can spend anywhere from $150 up (less if you do pre-folds and covers) for a set of pocket diapers.  The thing is, it takes some searching to find the brands that are momma-tested and wallet-approved.  If you're expecting, or trying to make the switch, this can be a daunting and time consuming task.  I'm going to try to save you some time and tell you about a few brands of pocket diapers that won't break the bank.  I'm going to cover mostly pockets because that seems to be the diaper type most new-to-cloth-mommas go for due to their ease and convenience.

The first brand I'm going to tell you about is Kawaii pocket diapers.  These diapers retail for about $10 a piece, making a stash of 24 diapers (enough to do laundry every 2 days) about $240.  You'd spend that on disposables in just a few months.

Diaper Junction has their own "house brand" if you will.  Their Diaper Rite pocket diapers are $9.95 per diaper if you choose a suede-cloth stay-dry inner material or $11.95 if you choose their bamboo option.  With these diapers you're looking at spending around $240 to $290 for 24 diapers.

SunBaby Diapers are made by a work at home mom, offer a ton of prints, and are some of the most affordable pocket diapers around.  She sells her diapers in bundles of 6, 12, or 24 diapers and with or without inserts.  For a package of 24 diapers and 48 microfiber inserts you will only spend $144.00!

If you search around, I know you'll find more brands of affordable diapers.  Another option is to search places like Craig List or Diaper Swappers to buy some used diapers for a great discounted price!

Cloth diapering may be a bigger up-front cost than disposables, but it doesn't have to break the bank!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Real Diaper Week- Where Do They Go?

If you do any research online for the environmental impact of disposable vs cloth diapers, you're going to get a lot of mixed information.  There haven't been any truly unbiased studies done on the subject, and realistically, there probably won't ever be.  The debate is too heated.  So while I can't point you to any truly conclusive study on the subject, I can talk to you about what I think is just plain old common sense.

Disposable diapers are used by about 95% of the American population on an exclusive basis.  This means that the only diaper that ever touches the bums of 95% of American babies is a plastic disposable.  Now, I know how many diapers my daughter goes through in a day.  In the 5 weeks or so that we used disposables before baby girl could fit into her one-sized diapers, we filled the equivalent of about 4 garbage bags.  In only 5 weeks.  Gross.  Now multiply that by two to three years, and then again by just about all the babies in the US.  That's a lot of poop-filled garbage bags.  Yikes.

Now I'm not going to sugar coat this for you.  You will use more water and electricity using cloth diapers than you would using disposables.  Your water bill will be a little higher, and it's the water and electricity usage that causes some studies to conclude that disposables and cloth are both on equal footing when it comes to being a detriment to the environment.  I might even agree with that if I knew that all those disposable diapers were bio-degrading peacefully in all of those landfills.  But here's the thing.  Almost nothing actually bio-degrades in a landfill.  They are packed so tightly and so high, that virtually no air or water touches anything that gets thrown in there.  Nothing can decompose.  Your morning banana peel that you threw out last month is probably preserved in almost perfectly-nasty condition a few feet below whatever got thrown on top of it.

What this means is that all of those diapers that get thrown away annually, all 18 billion, are going to sit preserved for who-know-how-long.  I mean really.  We don't know how long they will sit there because disposables are a relatively new invention.  What we do know is that those very first disposables ever made and pooped in are still sitting in a landfill somewhere.  Who knows, someday some archaeologist may excavate our ancient landfills and find your baby's 700 year old disposable diaper.  Eww.

I know we all have to weigh the choices we make.  There's always a give and take.  What I've decided is that I don't want my daughter's 9,000 or so dirty diapers sitting, preserved, in a landfill for all of eternity. To me,  the cost of disposables is too high.  Both to my wallet, and to the environment.  It is a personal decision.  I know we all have crazy lives that move faster and faster, so I get why so many people choose the easy route and do disposables.  I just know that the extra hour a week I spend washing  my daughter's diapers is a worthy sacrifice of my time.  I am making a difference, and not contributing to the nastiness piling up all over our country.  In the long run I feel like the extra water and energy I will use is nothing compares to the near permanence of throwing disposables in a landfill.

I hope you'll take some time to weigh all the info for yourself.  All of us can make a huge difference together.

Monday, April 16, 2012

It's Real Diaper Week! Newborn Cloth Diapering 101

It's Real Diaper Week!  What does that mean?  It means that all week long we are going to be covering a range of cloth-diapering related topics and try to help spread the word on how awesome and easy it is to use cloth!  Stop by all week and check it out!


So I know that in the last week I've given you guys some good, basic information on cloth diapering.  I don't really think that I need to repeat most of that (if you're stopping by from the blog hop, and didn't see my cloth diapering 101 posts, just scroll on down!  =)  Hopefully it will help you figure things out!)  so I am going to focus on cloth diapering from the moment your little bundle of joy is born.

Now let me be honest.  I didn't cloth diaper my daughter until about 5 weeks.  Somehow I had convinced myself that cloth would be more work than it actually is, and decided to do disposables until she was able to fit into her one-sized diapers.  I'm not sure what all I thought would really be involved, but it seemed daunting to me.  I was going to be a first time mom.  I didn't know what I was going to feel like, or how long it would take me to recover from her birth, etc etc.  Now I know that everyone's experience is different (don't believe me?  Go back a few pages and read my daughter's birth story.  I was in labor for 5 days.  Everyone is different!), but I want you to know that cloth diapering is totally doable right from the start.  I wish that I'd done cloth right away!  I would have saved my daughter some nasty diaper rashes, and saved myself a whole lot of money since I would have used those same diapers on my future babies!

(I will say this though, you will probably want to either purchase a really small pack of newborn disposables, or cut up some cheap fleece to line your baby's very first diapers with, because those meconium poops are gross.  Like black tar.  And they aren't going to wash out easily, so you don't want to stain your cute tiny new diapers on the very first use.  Wait to use your new diapers without any lining or anything until your babe's poop turns that mustard-y yellow color that you will come to know so very intimately.)

Ok.  So you are thinking to yourself "my baby won't wear these diapers for very long.  It seems like a waste of money!"  I know you're thinking this because I thought that too.  Here are my thoughts. If you know you are going to have another baby or two, buying some newborn cloth probably makes sense financially.  There are really cheap ways to diaper your newborn, and in the first month of life, you are going to spend about $75 on disposables any way.  Heck, sometimes you are going to put a diaper on, and your baby is going to immediately poop in it.  Ok.  That's going to happen all the time.  You're going to go through a lot of disposables.  After about a week I thought "I might as well wipe her butt with money and throw it away, because that's basically what I'm doing anyway with these disposables." Yeesh!

Now if you decide to do pre-folds and covers while your babe is tiny and new, you will probably only spend around $100.  And you can use these for as many babies as you feel like having, then re-sell them later if you want!  For instance if you go to and look at their house brand of prefolds, Diaper Rite, you can get an entire pre-fold kit for your newborn for only $86!  So you'd get 24 pre-folds and 4 covers, which would easily let you do laundry only every two or three days!  Not bad!  You can get pre-folds just about anywhere, and you can find covers at any local cloth shop, or online retailer.  They can be as simple, or as elaborately patterned as you want!  You have a ton of options!  Just make sure to prep your new pre-folds before you use them!  You want them to be absorbent!  Wash them on hot 4 to 6 times, and dry them on high at least once.

Now I know that pre-folds sound scary, but they are actually super easy to use!  There are a few ways that you can use your pre-folds.  You can use a diaper folding technique like the "angel wings" fold, or you can just fold it into thirds and lay it right in your cover, velcro or snap it, and you're good to go!  When the baby soils their pre-fold, just take it out of your cover, put it in your wet-bag or diaper pail, give your cover a quick wipe down (unless it's covered in poop.  Then you may want to grab a clean cover) and pop in a new pre-fold.  Simple!  And the great thing about newborn poop is how easy it is to wash!  There's no spraying, dunking, or pre-soaking involved!  Just throw it in the washer, run a cold pre-wash cycle, with a little detergent if you feel like your diapers are super gross and messy, otherwise it should be fine to run it without.  This will get rid of your poop.  Then add your detergent, and run a hot wash cycle with an extra rinse cycle.  The first time you do your wash, you may want to open your washing machine in the middle of your extra rinse cycle.  If you have bubbles, you need to do another rinse, and you may have used a little too much detergent.  If you don't have bubbles, you are good to go!  Once your wash is done, dry them on low heat in your dryer, or hang them up outside in the sun!  It's really not a whole lot more work than your regular laundry.  Just make sure that when you are choosing your detergent you pick one without brighteners or enzymes!

Of course you can always go the route of fitted diapers and covers.  Or newborn pocket diapers.  Or even newborn all in one diapers.  Really it just depends on your comfort level and your budget.  One thing to keep in mind is that newborn diapers, if you go the pocket or all in one route, are really easy to resell for a good percentage of what you paid for them.  They don't get tons of use, and if you have a good washing routine, and occasionally sun out any stains, they will probably look good as new, even after a few kids!  You can't say that about all of those disposables!

What I really want to get across here is that I wish I had gone straight to cloth.  With baby number 2, I will.  It really only adds one extra load of wash every two days, they're so much easier than you think, and if used over the course of a couple of babies, so much more cost effective.  You can even split the cost with a pregnant friend who is due a few months before or after you, or a friend that you know is trying to conceive.

So if you are new to cloth and are scared to jump right in, you can do it!  I wish someone had told me how easy it was right from the start.  And how cute my little newborn would look with a big fluffy tushie.

Yay for Real Diapers!!!!  (and happy two-month-birthday to my sweet little girl!)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

More Things I've Learned- Two Month Edition

So Eisley's birthday is in two days!  (It's gotta be great being under one.  You get a birthday every month!  Wait- scratch that.  I would no longer want a reminder that I'm getting older every month.  Nope.)  To celebrate her first two months of life (and my first two months of mommy-hood) I bring you yet another list of the things I've learned being a new mom.

But first a picture of the cuteness.  Gotta have the cuteness.

Ok.  On to the list of things I've learned this month.

1.  Babies are unpredictable.  Some of you are hitting your head and thinking "duh" right now.  That's ok.  It's still true.  Just when you think your little bean has gotten into a good schedule and routine with things like sleep, and you finally think to yourself "hey!  this isn't so bad!" your baby will laugh in your face and completely change their routine.  You may cry.  After all your hormones are still going crazy, so no one will think any worse of you, but you may still feel a little pathetic.

2.  Even if you put your little girl in a hot pink outfit with hearts, butterflies, bows, and any other girly print you can think of, people will still ask you if your baby is a boy.  You will decide very quickly that when going out in public, your little princess will always be wearing a headband or bow.  You will also wonder why it seems like people don't use their eyes.  Or brains.  You will also blame your snarky-ness on lack of sleep.  Whatever makes you feel better.  

3.  You will realize right about now that all the desire you used to have to go out every few weeks and update your wardrobe has been transferred to your baby.  Now of course you want to look good too, but chances are you're still wearing your maternity jeans (it's ok.  Really.) so someone might as well have some awesome new outfits.  Might as well be your baby.

4.  Newborns are kind of boring.  There, I said it.  You know what I'm talking about, other new moms.  Judge all you want, non-mommies, you will understand soon enough.  They're cute, but kind of boring.

5.  If you used to be one of those people (like I was) that thought new parents were just being ridiculous, and exaggerating the state of things for staying home so much and making it seem like going out with baby is such a big deal and a huge hassle, you will feel like an idiot about it now.  You will almost contemplate calling all your friends who had kids before you and apologizing for your internal judgements.  You will realize that having a new born does, in all sincerity, make normal every-day errands and things you used to take for granted much more stressful and complicated.

6.  This is something my husband learned this morning the hard way.  You NEVER take your baby's diaper off too soon before putting them in the bathtub.  They will poop their runny breast-milk poop all over your leg, and your brand new pair of Toms.  Then they will smile at you.  Almost as if they did it on purpose and think it's funny.  It is funny, and you will laugh at your pooped-on husband.  

7.  Maternity leave is never long enough.  You can plan to go back after six weeks, or eight weeks, or whenever, but you will cry at the thought of leaving your little baby.  If you can afford it, you will probably call your boss up and tell them that you need more time.  Hopefully, if you're lucky, you will have an awesome boss who totally understands.  Even if you don't though, you shouldn't feel bad about this.  It just means you're a great mom.  

8.  When your baby starts to smile and coo at you, time will seem to stand still.  You will fall in love with your little one even more, even if you thought that it was impossible to be any more in love than you already were.  

9.  You will probably be one of those annoying moms who posts a million photos of your kid on facebook, even if you swore you wouldn't.  Yup.  Sorry people.  You know you like seeing photos of my kid.  She's pretty cute, after all.  =)  

10.  Pre-baby your idea of a heavenly and relaxing night was dinner out, a movie, maybe a pedicure...  post-baby all you want is to be able to take the occasional bath, and the ability to go to the bathroom without a swing and a baby sitting next to the toilet.  Showers and baths are much more relaxing when you don't have to try to entertain a screaming baby.  You will look back on the days of spontaneous dinner dates fondly, but ultimately you will decide that giving those up for your cute little screamer really isn't all that much of a sacrifice.  In fact, you'll probably realize really quickly that what you've gained far outweighs what you've temporarily lost.  

Monday, April 9, 2012

Cloth Diapering Part Three- How to Prep and Care For Your New Diapers

First of all-  Happy belated Easter!

Eisley loved her first Easter, and just had to dress up in one of her cute diapers as the Easter Bunny.

Ok.  So on to the diapers.  When the Hubby and I decided to cloth diaper, the thing I found most daunting was the whole washing routine.  There's a  lot of info out there, and a lot of websites dedicated to cloth diapers, so the great thing is that there is a whole community out there that can help you troubleshoot if you ever need it.  Keep that in mind, and steel up your courage!  You can do this!  

First things first!  Check with your diaper manufacturer about what detergents they ok.  Some detergents will void your warranty, and then if something goes wrong with your diaper within the warranty period, you will be up a creek without a paddle.  You don't want that.  You want to make sure that you use a gentle detergent with no enzymes, brighteners, or bleach.  Common cloth diaper friendly detergents are Charlie's Soap, EcoSprout, Rockin Green, and pretty much any cloth diaper brand detergent.  The jury seems to still be out on Tide.  Some people say it's ok, some people say it's not.  If you decide to use it, just make sure it has no brighteners.  You don't want anything in the detergent that is going to create build-up in your diapers and affect absorbency.  Now, on to the good stuff.

Prep.  When you buy your diapers or you get your fluffy brand new diapers in the mail, you don't want to just throw them on your baby.  Ok.  Well, you will WANT to just throw them on your baby because you will probably be pretty excited by the cuteness, but don't.  You have to wash those puppies first.  

If your diapers have natural fiber liners or inserts, you need to pre-wash them between 4 and 6 times to ensure that they are absorbent enough to soak up whatever Baby throws at them.  Natural fibers like hemp, bamboo, and organic cottons can be washed several times in a row without drying them.  Some people will tell you to use detergent, some people will tell you that you don't need to.  I personally wash them once with detergent, and then just run a hot cycle with just water.  It's worked fine for me.  

For stay-dry fabric diapers, you can definitely wash them 4 to 6 times like your natural fibers, but most people will tell you that you really only need to wash them once or twice, and then you're good to go.  Since they aren't natural fibers, they don't have natural oils to wash out.  Simple!

So after your diapers are prepped and ready to go, put them on baby!  If you are diapering a newborn who is breast-fed, there's no need to spray off your diapers or get rid of the poop before you put them in the wash.  This is as easy as it gets.  If you're dealing with solids, you are going to want to shake or spray off any solids into the toilet before washing them.  This is where a diaper sprayer comes in handy. A lot of different diaper brands sell sprayers too.  You can get them for about $30 or $40.  They hook up to the bottom of your toilet where the plumbing is, and they let you clean your diapers off by spraying your baby's business right into the toilet.  Some people will just dunk a dirty diaper in the toilet bowl and swirl it around to clean it off.  It's all personal preference.  

Once your diaper is clean of any solids, throw it and any cloth wipes you used to clean your Baby with into a dry wetbag that you either have hanging somewhere near your changing table, or in a diaper pail (any standard size garbage can will work).  A wetbag is typically made of PUL (Polyurethane laminated fabric) which the same waterproof material that most of your diapers are made of.  Make sure your diapers can get some air flow at least a few times a day, or you're going to end up with stinky diapers.  I would recommend that you at least wash your diapers every three days.  I usually wash them every other day.  

Throw your diapers in the wash and do a cold rinse cycle.  You can do a full wash cycle with your detergent at this point if you want, but a cold rinse cycle will help keep stains from setting in, and get the junk off your cute diapers.  If you did a full cycle with detergent, don't add any more, but if you just ran a cold rinse cycle, add the recommended amount now and run a hot or warm cycle.  You're going to   want to run the longest cycle that you can, just make sure it's not on a sanitize setting, which can get too hot.  Also, if your washer has it, set it to run an extra rinse cycle.  If it doesn't have that as an option, you will have to do it manually.  You want to make sure that all of the detergent washes completely out of your diapers.  You can check to make sure that they are clean by opening the washer during a rinse cycle.  If there are bubbles, you're probably going to want to use a little less detergent next time, and then run an extra rinse cycle or two.  Detergent build up can give Baby a rash, and mess with the absorbency of your inserts.  

If your diapers start smelling like ammonia, or they are not absorbing well any more, you may have some build up, and you may need to strip your diapers.  This is a topic that I don't yet have a whole lot of personal experience with, so I'm going to give you a link to an article on stripping your diapers.  The blog Cloth Diapers Made Easy has a great comprehensive article on stripping diapers.  You can read it Here.  

If you get crazy stains (or just want to make sure your diaper stay nice and white) you can always stick them in the sun.  It's free and effective.  It will naturally bleach your diapers, and dry them too if you want!  I will be sticking some of mine out to sun this afternoon.  

Line drying is probably the best way to dry your diapers.  You won't have to worry about the PUL being affected by dryer heat, but if you are like me, and are typically too lazy to line dry your diapers, just make sure that you dry them on low heat.  You want to extend the life of your diapers as much as possible, and high heat could be detrimental to your diapers.  Also, NEVER use dryer sheets.  They will create crazy build up on your diapers, and then you have to spend a fun afternoon stripping diapers.  I find that it can't hurt to stick a list of instructions on your washer and dryer, so that if anyone besides you washes your stash, you don't have to worry as much about something catastrophic happening.  

So I think that covers most of the basics!  Let me know if you have any questions!  Another thing that I'd recommend is getting involved in an online community, that way if you have any questions, you can ask other cloth diapering mammas for help.  I love the Change Diapers community.  Maria- the blog's author is a wealth of information, and her facebook page is a super fun place to hang out and talk to other cloth-obsessed moms.  If nothing else, she will keep you up to date on all the fun giveaways going on in cloth diapering land.  

My next installment will probably be my last for a little while, unless people have questions about specific brands.  Next post will be all my favorite sites.  It'll basically be a big list of links to help you figure all of this out even more fully.  Hopefully all of this has helped you so far, and will cause you to make the leap into cloth diapering!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Cloth Diapering Part Two- Different Types of Diapers

Ok!  Part two of our cloth info.  This time I'm going to tell you about the basic types of cloth diapers.  There are a bunch.  I probably won't get crazy in depth about all of them, so if you have questions about anything, don't hesitate to ask!

1.  Pre-folds and flats-  These are the old-school diapers that probably pop into your head when you think "cloth diapers."  You either tri-fold these and place them into a cover (which is a must with this kind of diaper) or you fold it around your baby and pin it, or use a snappi.  This kind of system is easily one of the most economical.  You just change the pre-fold when it gets soiled, and as long as the cover is clean, pop in a new one.  You can get by with around 6-8 covers and about 24 pre-folds or flats.  If you are planning to simply tri-fold and lay in the cover... this will get you by.  Otherwise all you really need is a few snappis and you're in business.  For some more info on the different types of pre-folds and flats, you can look here. To learn about snappis go here.  To learn about the basic "angel wing fold"  go here.  You can get pre-folds for about $2.00 each, snappis for around $4 each, and diaper covers for around $13 each.  So for a start-up cost you are looking at about $150 or so.  Not bad, right?

2.  Pocket diapers-  This is one of my favorite types of diapers because they are so versatile.  You can make them as absorbent as you want.  They come in a sized style (s, m, l, etc) option or a one-sized option that  you can adjust smaller or larger with snaps or velcro as your baby grows.  These diapers have a water-proof outer shell, and a fabric inner sleeve that allows you to stuff your absorbent material between them.
There are a bunch of different materials that are used to make the inner sleeve.  There are natural fibers like bamboo and cotton which many people love, but keep in mind that these materials do not wick moisture away from baby's bum.  The moisture will stay close to their skin.  They are however, natural materials and you wont have many chemicals to worry about.
The typical stay-dry materials you'll find in diapers are micro-fleece and suede-cloth, both of which wick moisture away from baby's skin and pull it into your absorbent insert that you stuffed in the pocket.
Inserts can be made from minky, microfiber, hemp, bamboo and cotton.  Microfiber is the typical standard insert material, and it is absorbent, but you have to make sure that it doesn't touch baby's skin because it will pull moisture out of the skin.  Minky is kind of the new kid on the block, but it's my personal favorite at the moment because it doesn't get stinky, it's super soft and easy to stuff in your diapers, and its trim.  You just have to try them all and see what works for you.
Pocket diapers are a little more expensive-  they are usually in the $15 to $25 range, but they are easy to use and once they're stuffed, they function a lot like disposables.  Some brands to check out are Thirsties, Fuzzibunz, Bumgenius, Rumparooz, Tots Bots... and there are TONS more.  Browse around, read some reviews, and try several brands, because you never know what will work best for your baby until you try it.  Something to consider is a trial program once your baby is born, so you can figure out what will work best for you.

3.  All in One diapers (aka "AIO's")-  These diapers are some of the easiest to use, and take the least amount of effort.  They look a lot like pocket diapers, but the absorbent "inserts" are sewn right into the diaper, so there's no need to stuff them.  You have the option with some AIO's to add extra absorbency by adding inserts to a "tunnel"in the diaper, or by laying a pre-fold or insert right on top of the inside of your diaper.  I've got several AIO's, and I really love them.  The only real con is that they take a lot longer to dry, but that's not a big enough con to deter me.  The convenience factor makes it all worth while.

4.  All in Twos-  These are a lot like pocket diapers, but the insert sits inside the diaper right next to baby's bum.  They have a waterproof outer, and soft inner.

5.  Hybrid Diaper Systems-  These are basically AI2's that let you use disposable liners OR cloth liners.  Systems like Flip, Little G Diapers, an Gro-Via let you choose, and it can be a great option for times when you travel, because you can simply flush or throw away the bio-degradable disposable liners and wash the shells.

So what type will work for you?  I'd say that it all depends on what you think will fit your budget and your lifestyle best.  I've got everything from prefolds to pockets, to AIO's, and I like them all for different occasions and different reasons.  You've just got to try a couple different types and see what you like!

Tune in next time for info on how to prep and care for your cloth diapers!  Let me know if any of that is unclear, or if you have any questions!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Cloth Diapering- Also Known as My New Obsession (part one)

Eisley in her newest diaper- a tots bots diaper!

So my hubby and I decided we were going to cloth diaper pretty quickly after finding out that we were pregnant.  My sister in law had started cloth diapering my nephew, and it really made me look into it.  She loved cloth diapering, and told me how easy it was, and how much money you can save over disposables.  Not to mention the fact that my nephew's diapers were cute, colorful, and looked so much more comfortable for him to wear than paper disposables.  I decided to go home and do some research.  I was hooked pretty quickly.  Everything I read on all the boards and websites showed how easy and how much better for your baby cloth diapering is.

My first cloth diaper purchase was a couple of fuzzibunz one-size pocket diapers.  When they came in the mail I couldn't believe how soft and cute they were!  It was the beginning of a new hobby obsession.  Now I've got several brands and a stash of cute diapers.  I didn't buy newborn diapers because I didn't think Eisley would fit in them very long, so we used disposables for the first month.  Using disposables for a month really made me realize how happy I was that we had chosen to do cloth.  They just have so many chemicals in them and don't contain newborn poop explosions very well.  I wasn't impressed.

Now I've only been using cloth on Eisley for about 2 weeks... but my husband and I really like it so far.  It's easy, and we don't have to spend $20 a week on disposables that are going to clog up a landfill for the next 500 years.  Starting when they are still a newborn is a great way to ease into it because newborn breast-milk poop is basically liquid, and can go straight into the wash without any rinsing or other prep work.  I've had some friends ask me about cloth diapering, so while I'm no expert, I have done a LOT of research which I am more than happy to share, because I think cloth diapering is one of the best things you can do for your baby, your wallet, and the earth.  There is so much info, that this is going to require a few posts, so stay tuned!

So first things first.  The money issue.  I'm going to tackle this first because it was my main motivator to do cloth.  Cloth does require a bigger up-front investment than disposables.  Usually.  There are ways to get around this.  Put diapers on your registry and tell people how cute they are.  You'll need anywhere from 24 to 36 diapers.  You can put them on an registry, or start one through your local or online diaper shop.  One of my favorite online shops is Diaper Junction.  They let you set up a registry, they have just about everything you could ever want, AND they let you try the diapers you buy from them for 30 days.  If you don't like them, you aren't stuck with them.  Feel free to check them out through my referral link  At any rate, I digress..  we were talking about how to cut down on your initial investment costs.

Registries!  The first and best way to get started.  Another way is to pick some up for free.  Remember my last post about  In the last 10 days I've gotten 3 more $5 giftcards.  For free.  Guess what they are going to?  You got it!  Cute fluffy cloth diapers for baby girl.  It's a GREAT way to build up your cloth diaper stash at no cost to you.  I've gotten about eight diapers for free this way.  So when you're done reading this post, go read my post about  Then go start working your way towards some free diapers.  Another (less sure fire) way to try to snag some free cloth diaper gear is to enter giveaways online.  Just fan as many cloth diaper retailers and bloggers on facebook as you want, and start entering.  These same retailers sometimes do twitter parties, where all you have to do is participate and use the party's hash tag.  I've won a free diaper from a twitter party, a hand knit baby sleep sack from a giveaway, and a $25 gift card to DiaperJunction from a giveaway.  Now keep in mind I've probably entered about one hundred giveaways... but my point is that it IS possible to win free diapers and gear.

So if you are gifted a bunch of diapers, and manage to snag a few free diapers, your out of pocket expenses can be pretty minimal.  I think I spent about $150 to $200 total out of my own pocket.  A box of Huggies Little Snugglers are currently $34.99 for 168 diapers.  If you only go through 10 diapers a day with your newborn, give or take, that  $35 box of diapers will only last about two weeks.  After 3 months,  you will have spent $210.  And that's not even including wipes.  (It's so easy to make and use cloth wipes when you use cloth diapers.  I'll cover that later...)  In three months you will have spent more on disposables than I've spent on the cloth diapers that will last all of Eisley's diaper-wearing years.  Crazy, right?

If you want to do the math for yourself, there is a cost calculator on this great cloth diapering blog,
Cloth Diaper Geek.  Go Here!  I'm telling you, you'll be blown away by how much you will save over the course of three years!

Ok!  Well that is probably enough food for thought for now! We'll cover more later this week!