Archive for June, 2010

Cloth Diapers: Demystified

Monday, June 14th, 2010

The posts below explain cloth diapering as it applies to my life, and in our household. My intent in writing these posts is simply to explain my thought process on how I got to where I am as a mommy when it comes to diapering my baby, and to shed a little light on a subject that doesn’t get talked about a whole lot. I wish I would have cloth diapered from the very beginning, and while I can’t go back and change it, I can tell you all about my experience and maybe inspire you to try it as well.

I’m not saying everyone should do cloth, and I’m not to say that it’s wrong to use disposables. I just want to help people who were like me -with misinformation or no information about cloth diapering- to gain a better understanding of it.

It’s really not old-fashioned, it’s really not inconvenient, and it’s really not that gross. it’s the poop that’s gross, not the diaper type.

Cloth Diapers: A Matter of Opinion

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Take yourself back with me about five years – 2005.
I’m pregnant with Markus. The thought of cloth diapers has never entered my mind. I don’t know anyone who uses them. I don’t know anyone who talks about them. I know babies need diapers, and that means hundreds and hundreds of Huggies that get tossed in the garbage. That’s what everyone does. Any parenting magazine I pick up is filled with ads for Huggies and Pampers.

Now take yourself with me to last spring – 2009.
I’m pregnant with Bailey. Here’s what I think about cloth diapers. They’re old fashioned, inconvenient, and honestly…gross. The very thought of them makes me wrinkle my nose in distaste. My opinion is largely shaped by misconceptions and lack of knowledge. I make assumptions about them, but don’t have any real information from real people. The few people I know who use them don’t really talk about them, and I honestly am not interested in asking. I think that if most people stopped using cloth when disposables came around, then sposies must be the better choice. Cloth was for our grandmas and moms, when they didn’t have any other option. Presented with the option of disposables, nearly everyone chooses them. Why wouldn’t I? With disposables you can just throw the mess away, no washing required. I figured cloth diapering mommies must spend a load of time on laundry. Gross laundry. And what in the world would you do with a dirty diaper when you’re out of the house, or even a wet one for that matter? I don’t want to know. I figure modern day cloth diapering is for the extremely eco-minded. We do a number of things to be more responsible with the earth, but diapers are where we draw the line. Switching to cloth is the absolute last thing we’ll do to become more environmentally friendly…we’ll do it after we get an electric car. Which isn’t going to happen anytime soon. Disposables are where it’s at for me – modern, convenient, and honestly…less gross. They have served me well for two babies already, and they will serve me well with this baby too.

Okay, we’re in the present now.
Cloth diapers….are awesome.

I don’t even know what initially got me thinking differently and reconsidering the whole idea. My sister Sherry uses cloth, as does my friend Angie, so I think I started re-examining my opinions when I took notice of their use of them. Then I started reading online about them. Simple Mom was an invaluable resource for me with her Cloth Diapering 101 series of posts. The amount of different kinds of diapers you can buy was incredibly overwhelming to me, and the initial start-up cost for cloth is daunting, so I was terrified I would choose the wrong kind and be stuck with a bunch of diapers I didn’t like. 4 Cloth Diapering Choices Defined demystified everything for me and helped me figure out what type of diapers I wanted to buy. I was becoming more educated but still wasn’t sure when or how to take the plunge and just do it. That is, until Bailey developed a diaper rash that I just could not get to go away. Finally, in desperation, I went to Cravings to buy a few to get me started. I still wasn’t sure exactly what kind I wanted, but I was determined to come home with something and just try. I bought 3, which was all we could afford at that moment. They were fabulous. And the rash went away a few days later. I talked it over with Clay and we decided to use some of our tax refund to buy more so we could make the switch to all cloth.

They are so easy to use, as quick to put on as a disposable – there are no pins like grandma had. They take only a few minutes out of my day to launder. My mom told me she always loved doing diaper laundry, and before using cloth I thought that was such an odd thing to say. Until now. I totally get it now, Mom. I don’t think I can explain it myself, but there is something so great about folding clean diapers. There is something about wrapping my girl up in a cloth diaper that just makes me feel like I am doing something good for her. I’m doing something good for our bank account too, and I’m doing something good for the environment. I used to think cloth diapering was gross, and now, honestly, I think disposable diapers are so gross.

Before, my kids were wrapped up in paper, wood pulp, and plastic. When they’d poop, we’d wipe it up, wrap it up, and throw it in the garbage. Think about that. Human feces….in the garbage. That is disgusting. Now, my girl is wrapped up in natural fibers, and when she poops, it gets flushed down the toilet – where poop is supposed to go. The diaper is washed and used again. I am blown away by the decrease in the amount of garbage that gets hauled out of our house now!

I wish I had educated myself about cloth diapers back in 2005, but I am thankful that it happened late rather than never.

Cloth Diapers: What We Do

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Everyone does cloth diapering differently, and it takes a little while to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t, but it is awesome! I’m just going to tell you what I do so you can get an idea for how truly doable it is.

We have 12 diapers:
Six of the BumGenius One-Size Organic All-In-Ones (AIO).
One-size meaning they have snaps on the front to allow you to use them from newborn right up to 35lbs, and all-in-one meaning you don’t have a separate diaper and cover, or pocket and insert – it’s all-in-one. It’s nice that these don’t have inserts to stuff, so once they’re dry you’re done, but they do take a long time to dry. I turn them inside out, and in the dryer I throw a dry towel in with them to help them dry quicker, but if it’s a sunny day I just dry them outside. The sun’s supposed to help whiten them too, so that’s a bonus. To reduce the amount of cleaning required with a dirty diaper, I use flushable liners in these.

I also have six of the BumGenius One-Size 3.0 Pocket Diapers.
Pocket diaper meaning the absorbent part of the diaper is really an insert that is stuffed inside. I was hesitant to get these because I thought it would be a pain to stuff them, but it really isn’t. I actually like them better than the all-in-ones because they dry so much more quickly. The insert is microfibre, so it is incredibly absorbent. They come with newborn inserts for the smallest size, as well as larger inserts that adjust for the 2 larger sizes. These are the ones that I put on Bailey for night, and I put in a regular insert as well as a newborn one for added absorbency. These ones clean up so easily that I don’t even need to use the flushable liners.

I bought my first 3 from Cravings here in Saskatoon, and the remaining 9 I purchased online from Caterpillar Baby, an online store based in Toronto. I saved about the cost of one diaper by buying online, and they had free shipping. I also bought a diaper pail liner and a travel wet bag. My diaper pail is just a lidded garbage can that I picked up at Wal-Mart.

So what does this actually look like in daily life? Diaper changes mean taking off the old diaper, if it’s just a wet AIO I throw it straight in the pail, if it’s a pocket diaper I pull the insert out and then throw both pieces in the pail. If it’s dirty I wipe her with a cloth wipe – I just use those cheap baby washcloths you can get anywhere for like 10/$5. I had a bunch already so I figured I might as well use them for something. I have them already soaked in a homemade wipes solution (I use the Easy Peasy one here). What used to take 3-4 disposable wipes to clean now usually takes 1-2 cloth wipes. (And no more driving all over the city just to get wipes that clean well and don’t smell horrible!) Dump the poop in the toilet, flush, then toss the diaper in the pail. Done.

For when we go out of the house, I throw a few cloth diapers in my purse, I use disposable wipes, and I have a travel wet bag. When it’s empty it stays inside my purse, and when it has a wet/dirty diaper in it I just snap it around my purse strap. When we get home, it and the diapers get tossed in the diaper pail. Done.

Usually when I have 3 diapers left, I throw the dirty stuff in the washing machine, including the diaper pail liner. I found a laundry detergent called Country Save at London Drugs that is fabulous for diapers and for all our laundry. (For diapers, it’s important to use a detergent that isn’t going to leave build-up on the cloth, otherwise they will start to repel liquid rather than absorb it – this detergent is great for that reason). So on our washing machine I do a cold quick wash with about 1 tablespoon of soap, then a hot regular wash with another tablespoon of soap. Then I throw it all in the dryer with that dry towel I mentioned before. If I’m hanging to dry, I still throw them in the dryer for about 15 minutes – I guess it makes them a bit softer than hanging them straight out of the washer.

It might sound like a lot of work after I lay it all out here, but it’s really, truly, honestly not. We are saving money, we are reducing the amount of garbage in our home, poop goes in the toilet where it belongs, the house smells less -not more- than it did before, baby isn’t marinating in who-knows-what questionable chemicals, and I don’t have experience with this yet – but they say that cloth diapered babies potty train earlier. Bonus!

So there you have it. The way we do it is definitely not the only way to do it. There are so many things you could do differently, so many different kinds of diapers you could use. You don’t have to be all-or-nothing about it. I thought I would still use disposables sometimes, but I love cloth so much that I really don’t want to use sposies anymore.

Maybe I Can Sew?

Saturday, June 5th, 2010

You’ve all seen them. Reusable market bags seem to be everywhere these days. Every time I am standing in line at a checkout counter, there they are – reusable bags emblazoned with the label of the particular chain store.

I met a woman this past weekend that has a reusable market bag in every color to ensure that her bag matches the outfit she happens to have on that day. Hmmmm…something just doesn’t seem right about that. Does it?

Read the whole post here. I had to laugh, because it’s just so true. Something just doesn’t seem right about the sheer quantity of reusable bags available for sale now. When they first came out it was a breath of fresh air, an “about time!” kind of moment. And now…..oh brother.

For those of you who check my 365 blog, what comes next might give you a sense of deja vu, but I’m posting this at 2am, so I’m a little short on creative content at the moment. And don’t stop reading! I’ve written more here than on the photoblog!
I’ve been accumulating a bunch of fabric scraps over the past few years, thinking surely they’d come in handy for something. The spring cleaning bug hit me pretty hard this year, and I kept thinking I should really get rid of the scraps if I wasn’t going to do something useful with them. I had been toying with the idea turning them into a bag, and today came across the Simple Organic post that I mentioned above. It has a link for a sturdier bag tutorial, and I figured it was now or never.

So, voila! These are the bottoms of my dining room and living room curtains! I added a few extras to the original design – mine has pockets on the inside. I am thrilled with the result, and perhaps the most thrilling part of all is that
hahaha! It sounds ridiculous to say that, but it’s a big victory for me every time I complete a sewing project without breaking down in tears and wanting to quit at some point :) I am also thinking I might need to rethink my opinion that I don’t know how to sew. Obviously if I can whip something like this up I must know how to do something right with a sewing machine.

If I were paid by the hour for making this bag it would be one pricey little number, and of course I could have bought a reusable shopping bag for pennies compared to what my time is worth. But this isn’t just about economics. I made this. With my own two hands and a sewing machine (man, can you imagine how long it would have taken without the machine?!). I repurposed something that might have otherwise ended up in the garbage, and turned it into something beautiful, useful, and just plain cute. I now know that certainly, the colours of curtains that I have mingling on my main floor coordinate just fine – they look great mingling in bag form! And like I said before, I didn’t cry. What a boost for my confidence. I’m now wondering what I should attempt to sew next…


Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Some of you may know that our lives are pretty tame when it comes to smells. Perfum, Old Spice, Gain, and -insert noxious smelly product of choice here- would send Clay’s head spinning, then pounding, and his lungs gasping for air. I had to learn very quickly to cut out any and all smells in my daily routine if I wanted him to be able to come near me – and believe me, I did! Very quickly, my avoidance of these products caused me to develop an intolerance to fragrance as well, and in the recent past it has been more severe for me than for Clay! It was a matter of survival for us to find things to use on a daily basis that wouldn’t make us sick.
Dish soap.
Laundry detergent.
Household cleaners.
Hand soap.
Have you ever stopped to really think about how much all these things smell? A lot, let me tell you.

I have always tried to make relatively responsible decisions when it comes to how I take care of the earth – I serve a great God who handed this ball of land and sea over to us and told us to take care of it, so I take steps where I can to live responsibly and be mindful of my actions. Little things I guess – recycling, driving a fuel efficient vehicle (no Hummer in our household), I don’t know, just basic common sense stuff I think. Most of the things that I do that are good for the earth are also good for the wallet. When you’re on a tight one income budget, you’ve got to pinch pennies.

It’s very fashionable to be “green” these days, what with global warming and all *cough cough, snicker*. You’re making such a cute and responsible fashion statement when you whip out your adorable floral canvas shopping bag at the grocery store, when 5 years ago it just felt awkward to say, “Um, no thanks, I actually brought my own bag.” Of course the bag probably wasn’t cute then. And you would have been considered a hippie.

So for all my scent free products and cleaning schemes, all my recycling and reusable bags, I’ve never really thought of myself as green or crunchy (granola….hippie…..yeah, you get it), it was just the way I did things. If anything I’d describe my actions as cheap, and a lot of it I learned from my mama. Okay let’s not say cheap…um, frugal. Thrifty!

I had a bit of an awakening moment about a month ago when I read this blog post – 40 Ways to Go Greener at Home (Besides Just Recycling). I realized I do about half the things on the list, and most of the others were somewhere on my radar as things to do – most were not news to me. Was I really that green? Did I really live differently than most people? Did most people not do these things? I just assumed they did. (If you read the post, I’m curious if you do some of these things. And let’s just be painfully clear here that I do not believe in justification through recycling and driving a Smart Car! Just so we’re clear.)

My understanding of myself being different continued a few days later as I meandered through Shopper’s Drug Mart. Occasionally I get out of the house by myself, and on these occasions I sometimes like to just browse through a big store like I have all the time in the world. (Without kids along, I really do have all the time in the world! And it’s very quiet…) Alright so this time it was Shopper’s. I start on the far wall – makeup or something, and wander through shampoo, lotion, deodorant, hair dye, perfum (I didn’t wander, I sped past), soap…..I walked through about 4 aisles when it dawned on me – I don’t buy any of this stuff. “Who buys this stuff?!” I wondered. I mean, I’m a normal person, and if I don’t buy it, who would? Ooooooohhhhhhhh. Maybe I’m not as normal as I think I am. It just hit me in a way I have never realized before, how not normal this part of my life is. It also hit me how much money we must save by not buying all this stuff!

It has taken me nearly six years of marriage to be where I am in my ability to manage a household and “I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger” (Thanks Rod Stewart, you said it perfectly). Some of it was knowledge gleaned from my mom, some of it was found on the web and in ecofreak books, and and the rest just had to be discovered through a lot of trial, error, and headaches thanks to not being able to find anything to do the job that didn’t stink. I’m different, and that’s okay. And I hope to share some of what I know, so that maybe someone reading this could learn something too.

All those cleaning products under your sink, all the products in your bathroom – you don’t need them. They’re not helping, cleaning, or making life simpler – they are hindering, polluting, and making life more complicated.