Sunday, February 28, 2010


I am convinced of the law of conservation of energy. Energy is neither created nor destroyed, it just changes forms.

I am also convinced that lots of things contain "energy". Money is a form of energy, time is a form of energy, even giving attention is a form of energy.

So you really can't get something for nothing. You can get it for no money, but you exchange some other form of energy to get it.

So there's TONS of mommy blogs out there. And somehow, they get FREE SHTUFF FROM THIRSTIES to give away. (I would just keep it, yo, but I think that breaks the rules). Some chicka posted on Thirsties facebook page about her Thirsties giveaway (I think that's probably against some rules somewhere, but yo, it WORKED for her, because I totally went to her blog to enter.) I call her chicka because she is 20-something and sounds very sweet. I do not mean offense by it - I don't even know this woman.

Anyway, so I'm on facebook, and see her wall post, and link to her blog, and she is giving away prewash and superwash from Thirsties.

We are having MAJOR rash issues in my house. Like, I gave up and put her in sposies with the Butt Paste since Friday, after daycare got the Butt Paste on the Thirsties Duo Diapers because the liners didn't stay in place. (I handwashed them and hope they are ok. Not stained, seem to be saved.)

Is the rash from the CDs? Or from the nasty poo she had been having? The poo is better, the rash is not. Hmmm. So of course, OCD me, I panic. Did the oxyclean I used a week ago cause the rash? When she wakes up from her nap, I plan to re-wash all the prefolds (what about the Duo's that are stuffed and ready for daycare tomorrow? If I think about that I'll give myself a stroke).

Can you tell I've had too many cokes this morning? On too little sleep for ... oh, yea, a year?

I have wanted to try the Thirsties wash since it came out. Alas, I am too broke. I can con daddy into buying me a thing of Tide when he's at the store. Doubt I'll get him to drop 30 bucks on special cloth diaper detergent.

So here I am, spending time trying to win Thirsties detergent. Because if I had the energy in the form of money, I would just buy the damn stuff. But I do not. So instead, I spend time putting comments on some other mommy's blog trying to hope that God smiles on me when her toddler pulls a number out of a bowl tomorrow.

This is how energy relates to Thirsties Super Wash. You didn't think I could make the circle, did you?

So, go see her blog. She has some interesting stories. Puts my little 3 weeks in the hospital with pre-eclampsia to shame, yo. But if you win the Thirsties, have pity on an overworked single mom with expensive daycare to pay for .....

(Yes, that would be me).

(You think she's actually going to count this toward her giveaway? You think she actually read this far?)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

CD 101 - covers

If I do a post on prefolds, I have to do a post on covers too! You *can* use prefolds without covers (but they aren't waterproof that way), and I do (when using wool, for instance), but the covers are what make the prefolds SO easy to use as a cloth diapering system. We used prefolds and covers almost exclusively as our system for daytime until wee one started daycare.

PUL covers are one of the most popular options, and the easist to start with. There are several brands. I started with a Bummi's Super Brite, a Bummi's Super Whisper Wrap, and a Thirsties. I had quite a few newborn sized Proraps, but I didn't like them at all. The Bummi's run just a wee bit smaller than the Thirsties, so they were the first covers we used. They worked well, but the Thirsties have the signature leg gussets, which are bombproof for newborn EBF (exclusively breast fed) poo.

Thirsties covers, by far, are the best covers to use, in my opinion. The leg gussets help with the fit, I have NEVER had a leak in a Thirsties cover. I have had poo come way out of a prefold and all over the inside of the cover, I have had it stain the elastic on the edge of the gussets, but I have never had it leak. The crossover tabs allow you to ge the ideal fit for your little one, even if they have a small waist. The colors are just awesome - I want one in every color!

Some mamas love Thirsties covers except ... they prefer snaps. There are several reasons for this ... the aplix can get pilly, pick up lint/hair/fuzz, can stick to other diapers in the laundry (laundry tabs are NOT perfect), and can look gross after a while. There is always some mama on DS asking for "Thirsties-like" covers only with snaps.

Well, apparently Thirsties listened because this became available this week:

Damn, I wish I had some extra money.

Fleece is another option for covers. Often called "soakers", fleece has a moisture resistance that allows it to be used as a cover. Fleece pants work well in this respect. However, fleece will begin to get wet and smell like pee after only one or a couple of uses, so you need lots of these and they will get washed frequently with your diaper laundry.

Wool. How absolutely adorably cute are wool pants? See my "Lookie What I Made" post for more about wool as diaper covers.

With covers, using flats or prefolds becomes as easy as using disposables. You lay the diaper in the cover and fasten it around the baby. I swear when I read that when I was preggo and researching CDs, I didn't believe it was that easy. But it totally is.

How many covers do I need? Like most things, that depends. Right now I have three covers and that's plenty. For newborns, whose poo is runnier and not on schedule, you might want 5 or 6. Once they start solids or are poo-ing less, you will need fewer. If the prefold is really soaked and the inside of the cover is wet, you can let it air out and use another cover in the meantime. If it gets poo on it, it goes in the wet bag to be washed in the diaper laundry.

More on diaper washing coming soon! As always, let me know if you have questions that aren't covered!

Added: An update here on the Thirsties Duo covers in prints.

CD 101 - Prefolds

I was initially attracted to the idea of cloth diapering to save money. I thought if I could buy reusable diapers, rather than disposables, that I could save some cash. And if you do it right, that is the case. Unfortunately I got addicted to cloth diapering, and bought one of every kind to try. Luckily I have found some things that work, so I have settled down on the buying sprees. Being broke helps too :)

The staples of our cloth diapering system is prefolds and covers for home, and pockets for daycare. If you are interested in cloth diapering to save money, then you will probably consider prefolds and covers for the majority of your cloth diapers. Often you can find "seconds" prefolds - diapers that have an irregularity or mistake in the sewing that are even cheaper than usual. These will be your best bet at saving money.

When I was first researching cloth diapering, I read that you can just fold a prefold in thirds ("trifolding") and lay it in the cover, and put it on the baby, and it works. I was skeptical. But it really does work. And when they get big enough to wiggle and crawl away nekkid in the middle of a diaper change, you need something fast like that.

Fastening prefolds: If you use a cover, this is not necessary. Some mamas use prefolds without covers, especially if the babe is just crawling around the house for the day. Some mamas say this helps with diaper rash. In this case, the prefold is fastened on with pins, or a device called a Snappi. This was supposedly invented by a dad, although I don't think a man would have ever come up with the idea of something that sharp near those nether parts. A Snappi has gripping teeth, similar to the metal things that hold Ace bandages on. It grips the parts of the front of the prefold together to hold it on.

I am very leery of using Snappis - they are known to come off the diaper and scratch, poke, or gouge babies and I imagine that hurts. Every once in a while there is a thread on a discussion board where a mommy had a Snappi injury to a baby and vows never to use the hateful things again. Other mamas swear by them. Just be careful. I don't use pins - some mamas swear by Dritz pins because they are so sharp. Other mamas recommend storing pins with their points pushed into a bar of soap so they slide through the fabric easily. I have no tips on how to do it without sticking yourself or your wee one - gonna have to ask someone else for that!!

Folding prefolds: You can search the web or cloth diapering boards for photos of each of these, plenty of mamas have done all that work for you. The simplest fold is the trifold mentioned above. This is good for babes with more solid poo, especially if they are down to one poo a day. With a trifold, poo easily gets on the cover, so you change the cover with the dipe. For newborns who are breastfed, who have runny poo, the jelly roll fold is recommended. For this fold, lay the prefold on the cover, lay the baby on the prefold, roll the sides in, pull it up through the legs, and fasten the cover on. The rolls around the legs help to keep the poo in the diaper, and keep it from getting on the cover. The angel wing fold is where you twist the front of the diaper before bringing it up between the legs - in my experience that just pushed the poo to the side. I used a modified newspaper fold for a long time - lay the diaper flat so the back edge lines up with the back edge of the cover, and lay the babe on that. Fold the front left edge 2/3 of the way across, then fold the right side so the edge lines up over the fold created by the previous fold (see why pictures are helpful here? I'll work on that.) Then bring it up between the legs and fasten the cover.

My preference is to use prefolds that fit inside the cover without having to fold the ends down. Infant sized prefolds fit will into the Thirsties Small covers that way, GMD reds (see below) fit in the Thirsties Medium covers well. If you do have to fold down excess, the recommendation is to put the folded thickness in front for boys and in back for girls. I have found that front is better for my wee one, so just experiment to see what works best.

Prefold sizing: Most prefolds come in three standard sizes: infant, premium, and toddler size. Traditionally, infant prefolds have a green serged edge, premium prefolds have a white serged edge, and toddler prefolds have a blue serged edge. There are a number of manufacturers that make other sizes with other color serging, and some diapers that are those particular sizes do not have those colors as their serged threads. So you should always go based on the stated size of the diaper, not the edge color. Green Mountain Diapers has a huge selection of sizes, and the serging color does represent the size. These are usually referred to by their color (i.e. GMD reds) so you can search FSOT if you are looking for a particular size.

We used the Baby Bunz newborn size prefolds to start. They are smaller than the standard infant size, and they are very inexpensive. They are probably similar to GMD yellows that some people recommend for newborns. If you are expecting a large baby you can probably skip to GMD oranges, or standard infant prefolds. If you know you are going to have one a little early (like I did) or you think your baby may be small at birth, you will probably welcome having smaller prefolds. I used them for a long time as nighttime nursing pads after they were too small to use as diapers.

We are now using GMD reds, as well as the standard premium size. The premium size is about 3 inches too long, so I fold that down in the front. The GMD reds are the right length. Another option is the Little Lions Capri size, which are premiums with some length cut off. I also have a few Knickernappies hemp prefolds, which are thick and soft.

Preparing prefolds: Prefolds come looking very flat, stiff, pressed, and pristine. To be good as diapers, they need to be quilty, fluffy, and absorbent. Therefore they need to be "prepped". The best way to "prep" prefolds is to wash them. Several times. On hot. Drying in between each wash. It's a pain in the butt. And it feels pointless to wash and then dry and then wash again. But it is necessary to make the diapers absorbent and soft. For cotton prefolds, three wash/dry cycles will get them in good shape to use for the first time. For hemp and bamboo, more (up to 6 or more) are needed, and more washing will get them to their full absorbency. For hemp and bamboo, the first few washes should be separate from other diaper laundry, so the oils you are washing out of the fabric don't get into your other diapers.
Prefolds in their package from Green Mountain Diapers.

The prefold on the left is straight out of the package, middle is after one wash, right is after two washes. Notice how the process of "prepping" causes some shrinkage, because the diaper is becoming quilted and soft.

Types of prefolds: Once you know what a "real" prefold looks and feels like, you will laugh at Gerber prefolds that they sell at Wally World. Some of the Gerber prefolds are just two or three layers of thin cotton. Others are stuffed with polyfill (think pillow batting) in the center (yea, I'm sure that's nice and absorbent.) To get good prefolds, you are probably going to need to order online, or visit a store that specializes in cloth diapering. The most popular ones are (in no particular order): Cotton Babies, Little Lions, Green Mountain Diapers, Diaper Rite, Baby Bunz ... I think that covers the good ones.

The best prefolds are thick and quilty, and absorbent (after all, they are being used as a diaper). I have used Baby Bunz, Cotton Babies, Little Lions, and GMDs. The first three are all very similar in thickness and quality. The GMD's do seem to be a little thicker, not enough to justify the price difference. The main benefit to GMDs to me are the size options.

Bleached vs. unbleached: The bright white prefolds are bleached cotton, the natural, tan colored are unbleached. Usually there is no difference in price, so it is purely a personal preference. Some mamas want "all natural" so they choose unbleached. Some mamas like crisp white diapers so they choose bleached.

Chinese vs Indian Prefolds: I have used both and there isn't a huge difference in functionality. Some mamas who pin say the Indian prefolds are easier to pin, since the cotton weave is just a bit looser. As long as your prefolds are "Diaper Service Quality" or DSQ then you know they will be thick and quilty and absorbent enough for your needs.

Other uses for prefolds: HAhahahahaha. If you are a true cloth diaperer, and if you buy the really nice prefolds, and if you go through the trouble of prepping them, you will never use your prefolds for anything other than diapers, or maybe nursing pads/burp cloths/changing pads/other baby uses. You will not ever let anyone touch your prefolds. You especially will never let your prefolds be used for any car maintenance, garage cleaning, silver polishing, etc.

The Gerber prefolds, however, are fair game for all of the above. :)

Update - I have tried the new Thirsties prefold - made of hemp jersey.  It truly is buttery soft fabric, and has a unique design.  More of a review, and photos, here. (This is now my favorite prefold diaper in the world.)

Another update - this has ended up being one of the most popular posts on my blog, and one of the ones that people find when doing searches.  I feel like this post provides good information, but using prefolds might still seem complicated even after reading this post.  So I wrote another, more simple, guide to prefolds - with action shots - here.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Sleep When The Baby Sleeps

I posted a witty message on FB yesterday morning about 4 am when I was up that said "I like this 'sleep when the baby sleeps' thing. If only there were a 'work when the baby works' thing too, then I wouldn't have a two-page to-do list!". People were amused.

But I'm telling ya, I feel great. I've been running on adrenaline most of the week, so it's probably just that, but still.

Wednesday night I went to bed when she did. I totally just gave up, and put jammies on when I got her ready for bed, and we just hunkered down under the blankets and went to sleep. She seemed to wake up fewer times (or maybe I just didn't wake up all the way when I rolled over to put a buub in her mouth) and I slept pretty well - I probably got 10 hours of total sleep.

Last night, same drill. We had been having dinner on the kitchen floor when she fell and bumped her head, and had a meltdown, and I went ahead and started the bedtime thing. So there was still an open jar of baby food on the floor in the kitchen. And I just left it and went to sleep.

Slept until around 4:45, which is one of her favorite times to wake up for a full nursing. And realized I'd slept about 9 hours. And also realized that I felt pretty good!

I mean, I'm still in the deficit column for about 6 months worth of sleep still. I still have that mommy exhaustion that I've been told lasts until they're 18, or married, or you're dead, depending on who you talk to. And I still feel incredibly stressed out because I have several little detailed things to attend to for my new classes, I need to stay caught up, and I have a 3-hour online meeting today.

But at least I feel functional for it!

So do it, ya'll. Just for this weekend, sleep when your baby sleeps. It's amazing.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Real Life

I have nothing witty to say. And I don't have a good cloth diaper post edited for you. This new teaching schedule is alot. I stand on my feet from 8:00 am to 5:30 pm with little break. It has felt very stressful this week. I think the students are calming down now that they feel they have a direction. Wee One seems to be calming down too, since she's sleeping a little bit tonight. (Monday? Up every 20-45 minutes most of the night. Not fun.)

She did eat well at daycare yesterday. 3 jars of baby food, seriously? She hasn't eaten that much in one day with me ... um, ever. I guess the milk bar is her preference when I'm around.

So I'm up. Last night when I got up I had tons of work stuff that I needed to do, and she kept waking up when I wasn't in bed with her. I did the minimum needed - a little less than what I needed, but enough to get by - and went back to bed.

Tonight, she seems to be sleeping well. I did some quick dishes, started diaper laundry, found my cell phone, updated facebook, and she is still asleep. I'm thinking with 3 jars of baby food, plus the oatmeal I fed her, and all the nursing to get her to sleep, she might sleep for a while.

So ... how do I get back in bed without waking her????

Diapers sound like they are done with the prewash on cold. I should turn them back on. I'm trying to figure out what to do with them. I had some that were very poo-y that I soaked for a while with some oxyclean in the load. I normally wouldn't do that, but (a) stains and (b) the guide I got from GMD actually suggests oxyclean monthly. So I did. And she's been getting diaper rash. Now, she's also had runny poo and stress and was sick last week, etc. But I'm trying to decide if I want to re-wash the load that was oxycleaned or not. I already kinda did re-wash them. I mean, how many washes and rinses does it take to rinse the stuff out? But if she has sensitive skin like me ...

I've been putting sposies and butt paste on her at night when she starts to get a rash. Didn't clear it up totally last night, and the new chick at the daycare put a note on her sheet about it. I have considered caving in and sending her to daycare tomorrow with sposies and butt paste. That feels like me admitting defeat. But I don't trust them to do liners (and it would force me to dig through my car to actually locate them).

These are the things I worry about. It's ok, this is a benign worry. My worry the past couple of days is that I'm ruining her health by taking on this teaching load, since she wasn't sleeping. My worry this morning was that I can't pay my bills right now until I get (a) a tax check or (b) some of this pay for these extra classes that wont come for two more weeks at least.

Now I'm just trying to figure out how to sneak back into the bed without waking her up, and if I should re-wash a load of already multiply washed diapers. Not too bad a mommy worry for the middle of the night.

I hope I'm doing the right thing. We always hope we are doing the right thing.

Monday, February 22, 2010

That Which Does Not Kill Us ...

I was asked to pick up two classes that another faculty member cannot teach because she is going on medical leave. I saw dollar signs in my head, so I said yes.

My teaching schedule was already not ideal. Do-able, tolerable, but not ideal. The upside - they were able to meet my request that my classes all start around the same time each day - the downside is that time is 8:00 am. Meaning the wee one has to get to daycare about the time they open the doors. Her "primary caregiver" does not arrive that early, so each morning I hand her off to someone different as I run out the door to try to find a place to park and make sure I am prepared for class.

It was supposed to all be okay. I had lunch free all days, so I could go nurse her at lunchtime. Until I thought it does more damage than good since she has trouble with the separation. I'd be done around 3:00 or so and could go pick her up then.

When we were having sleeping issues a couple of weeks ago (when she was getting sick and I was trying to teach her to sleep in her room) I realized ... I only spend 4 hours a day with her. FOUR hours a day. Unless you count the time we co-sleep, 4 hours a day. One hour in the morning, and that includes the commute to daycare with her strapped in the carseat. Three hours in the afternoon. Yes, still counting the strapped-in-carseat time.

Then I said yes to a request to save the day at work. The classes I am picking up are 1:30 to 5:30 in the afternoon. Unless they heed my request to adjust some aspects of the lab schedule, in which case I'll be done at 5. Today was the first try at this. We had about 45 minutes together in the morning, and about an hour before she fell asleep tonight. Woo hoo.

I am now teaching 25 contact hours a week. (That's alot, when 12 of them are labs.) I walked into a room full of students today who definitely did not feel they had been adequately served by the college, and I had to field the questions and concerns of a large group of angry, anxious people. Can I tell you how much fun that was?

I can do anything for 8 weeks. And I'm making some extra money that will be helpful. The wee one had a decent day at daycare and then her Nana came to get her. I told my guilt-ridden self on the way to work this morning that it takes a village, and I've selected the best village I can for her, so I have to trust that she will be guided and cared for and educated even in my absence.

But damn, am I exhausted. I have alot of work ahead of me to try to straighten out this class for these students. And I'm helping the person that took over one of my classes by doing some prep work for her. I hope I was right to say yes.

Sorry for the complaining. I think I'm going to go crawl into bed and snuggle a wee one. Make up for lost time :) Want an adorable photo??

(Technical difficulties - have to wait for the QT pie!)

I can't get the one from my cell phone that I wanted. So here's two others until I can.

I couldn't tell from the thumbnail if that first one was cute or not, so I thought maybe between the two of them you'd have a cute one to see. And pretty much they both are not her best work. I should invest in her therapy now, no?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I Have The Most Beautiful Baby In The World


I just entered my child in the "Parenting - Baby and Child Model Search contest" and we need your vote to help us win!

You can view my entry and vote for me here:
Thanks and wish me luck!


You're looking for a little photo that looks like this one ...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Hello Everybody, So Glad To See You...

That's the beginning of the Hello Song, which is a staple of our music class.

When Wee One was very small, she began to show signs that she liked music. When I would sing to her, she would often make noises back to me like she was also trying to sing. Music helped to calm her when she had colic, and became part of our nighttime ritual (thanks to a cell phone that has a music player, that part was easy.)

At a store to purchase some nursing accessories, mom picked up some brochures. One was for Music Together, an early childhood music program. I liked what I saw in the brochure, and I wrote an email to the Director to request the free CD/DVD and more information.

While it was obvious that my babe loved being sung to, what was much less obvious was ... what to sing? Beyond "Rock A Bye Baby" I didn't have much of a repertoire of lullabyes that I knew (and that's kindof a creepy song to sing to a crying baby anyway). I thought this might be a source of some songs I could sing to her.

The CD/DVD had some sample songs - as soon as I heard "Zoom Zoom" I was hooked! The DVD showed some aspects of the classes, and talked about the curriculum behind the program.

Music Together is a product of the Center for Music and Young Children by two folks with some impressive credentials, and the name Princeton attached :) There are 9 sets of song collections - enrolled families receive the song collection on CD as well as a songbook with the complete music for each song.

We went ahead and enrolled in her first music class. I was a little nervous - she was only 5 months old when we started, so I wasn't sure how she would react in the mixed ages class we signed up for. And I wasn't sure what people would think - a 5 month old in music classes!!!???!?!?

The beauty of the Music Together approach is that it is a fun way to expose children to music, and they begin to absorb aspects of rhythm and tone and pitch without those concepts being formally discussed. The teacher, after a song, will sing some notes that the group repeats, and then the next fun song begins. You hardly notice that you were being "taught" the key of the song, but the children absorb those sounds and learn ... while having fun.

The classes are very structured. Each class begins with the Hello Song. There are some active songs that allow movement. There are songs that use a specific instrument - egg shakers, sticks, bells, etc. There is a "play along" song, then a "quiet song", and finally the Goodbye song. If your child needs predictability and structure, they will probably come to feel comfortable in this class.

It has been beautiful to watch my wee one develop in the context of the music class. At first she could only sit in my lap as I tapped on parts of her body in time to the music. Then once she could sit up on her own, she could sit in front of me. At the beginning of this current semester, once she was crawling, she began to crawl into the center of the circle to become more involved in the activities. This morning, she decided she was a big girl! She didn't want to be in mommy's lap for anything, she wanted to be in the middle of all the action.

The activities of music class have helped with her motor skill development - she loves to shake the egg shakers and have them make noise. The first time she clapped was an afternoon after we had sang "clap, clap, clap your hands, clap your hands together" in music class.

And of course, she sings. The first time she sang out in class, the teacher stopped the group so they could hear her vocalizations. This morning in class she was "singing" right along with everyone else while trying to hit a bell with a stick.

Some of my best mommy moments have been centered around music. Nights that I have been able to comfort her by singing "Shady Grove" - a lullaby from our first music collection. Or just the other day, when I started singing "Biddy Biddy" and shaking a toy of hers ... she recognized the song and the biggest grin I have ever seen broke out across her face.

So for me, its about the memories. Sure, she's probably picking up rhythm and pacing and pitch and tonality and one day she'll probably be able to sing on key. But she will also have memories of sitting in mommy's lap as a group of smiling people sing "Hello" to her by name. And I have a bunch of songs I can sing to her now.

(I gotta take my regular camera and get some better pics of her in music class - this cell phone camera isn't cutting it!)

If you are interested in signing up for a Music Together class, let me know, If you sign up with a currently enrolled family, you both get some $$ off your tuition, but you have to sign up together.

Friday, February 19, 2010

I heart BabyLegs

When researching cloth diapers while I was pregnant, I read that alot of mamas used something called Babylegs. I gathered they were baby legwarmers, and that mamas thought they couldn't live without them.

Yes, and yes.

The original brand of baby legwarmers is BabyLegs, which can be purchased online through their website, other websites like Sew Crafty Baby, or even mainstream stores like Target. They made a line that I think were specifically for Target, called My First Babylegs.

Then, of course, come the knockoffs. I can say that, because I have as many pairs of these as I do "real" Babylegs! Target's brand of baby clothes is Circo, and they make baby legwarmers. And they are less expensive, but also not as good quality.

Putting your baby in a diaper and babylegs is the most effortless way to keep their legs warm - no taking pants on and off when doing the diaper changes. They are also useful under dresses to keep legs warm. Some mamas practice "elimination communication", which is where they have their little ones run around with nothing on their bottoms, so the little ones learn to communicate when they have to use the potty. Babylegs help keep little nekkid babies warm.

They are just too cute.

You can get them to match different outfits.

And you can get them free.

"Free?" you say ... yes, free. BabyLegs has a forum where mamas can discuss their addiction to BL. (And yes, by addiction, I mean that mamas are confessing that they have hundreds of pairs of these things. Makes my stash of 8 or so pairs pale by comparison!) If you join the forum you will see the Daily Giveaway thread. Most days there is a post that asks you a question. By posting you are entered into the Daily Giveaway. It is totally NOT random - if they like your post, they pick you. My post was to the thread about your favorite mommy and baby date. I posted about music class - either they were glad to have a new person enter, or they liked my post. But I won!

And they came by UPS last night. So its for real, ya'll!

I heart babylegs.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Cloth Diapering 101 - materials and fabrics

In the first CD 101 post, I mentioned some aspects of fabrics, like PUL covers. The Lookie What I Made! post also discusses wool diaper covers. There are a number of choices when it comes to cloth diaper fabrics and materials. I'll share what I've learned, but this is no way comprehensive.

Cotton. This is the fabric of choice for prefolds, flats, and some fitteds. Very absorbent, so it holds alot of moisture. But it doesn't "wick" or move the moisture like some fabrics do, so the moisture stays right up against the skin. Most mamas change cloth diapers frequently, so this is not a problem for them.

Most cotton for prefolds is not organic, unless it is specified. And then you'll know, because the diapers will be quite a bit more expensive. But if you're determined to use all organic fabrics for your little one, you can find organic cotton prefolds.

"Sherpa" and "velour" (unless it is specified as bamboo velour) are types of cotton fabrics. Sherpa is textured like a thick cotton towel, and is a great fabric for fitteds. Kissaluvs fitteds are cotton sherpa, and lots of mamas swear by this fabric to "catch" the runny poo of breastfed newborns. Velour is very soft and is often used as the top layer next to baby's skin since it is so soft.
(A KLo - Kissaluvs size 0 fitted diaper - made of sherpa)

Bamboo. Another very popular fabric for cloth diapers is bamboo. There is much discussion over these fabrics, as research into the method of turning bamboo into fiber reveals that it is not as "natural" or "green" a process as most folks would believe. Some mamas now refer to the fabric as "rayon from bamboo" rather than "bamboo" to avoid being misleading about the nature of the fabric.
(A Bum Genius bamboo fitted - these are thick and soft, but are discontinued so you will only find them used on FSOT)

Bamboo fabric is very absorbent, and when made into a velour, is incredibly soft. It supposedly has natural antimicrobial properties that help it to not stink or grow bugs. However, it can sometimes stain more easily than other fabrics. Most bamboo fabrics need to be washed a number of times before they reach their full absorbency.

Hemp. Another natural fiber used in cloth diapers is hemp. Hemp is also very absorbent and is used quite a bit for the inner absorbent material in fitteds, and also comes in inserts for pockets. We use a hemp insert as part of our nighttime system. Hemp coupled with microfiber is pretty bulletproof for nighttime. I recently got some hemp prefolds that are thick and squishy and soft. I love them, but they are too pricey to buy any more right now.
(A hemp prefold over a GMD red for size comparison. This is from Knickernappies.)

Microfiber is a synthetic material used for pocket inserts. It is very very very (did I say very) absorbent. So much so, that you can not put microfiber next to your little ones skin. It will absorb the skin's moisture and cause redness and rashes. Microfiber absorbs fluid quickly, but can sometimes leak when pressure is applied ("compression leaks") like in a car seat. Microfiber also can sometimes get "the stinks" but I think that depends on your laundry routine. I have been using microfiber inserts for 10 months now with no stinks. But I don't use natural laundry detergent, either.

Partnering microfiber with hemp is a good system. The microfiber absorbs quickly. The hemp absorbs more slowly, but "stores" the fluid so it doesn't leak under compression. The new Thirsties Duo Diapers have a two-layer insert that snaps together - one layer is microfiber and the other layer is a hemp/cotton blend. Works like a charm.

PUL - this is the fabric that forms the waterproof layer of covers, pockets, and all-in-ones. It stands for polyurethane laminated, and is usually a laminated polyester fabric.

Wool - can be knit/crocheted or interlock. Interlock is used for covers, including pull-on covers, wrap-style covers, or interlock shorties and longies. Wool yarn can be knit or crocheted into longies, shorties, skirties, or soakers (a pull-on style cover). I did a whole post on wool previously - check the tags.

Fleece - used a couple of different places in cloth diapers. One, it can be used as a cover. There are fleece covers and fleece pants. Polyester fleece usually has a slight water resistant property, so it can be used as a cover, but usually does get damp and has to be changed after each wet diaper. For this reason they are usually called fleece "soakers". Two, fleece is usually used as the lining to pocket diapers to form the "pocket" that you stuff. Since fleece has this water-resistance to it, the moisture goes through the fleece to the insert to be absorbed, and the surface of the fleece feels fairly dry - so it is often called "stay dry" fleece. I have had people re-use the same diaper on wee one because it felt dry to them for this reason. Third, fleece can be used as liners in any kind of diaper. The idea is the same - it has this "stay dry" feeling to it. Diaper cream can ruin cloth diapers, but sometimes it is necessary even for a cloth diapered little one. In this case you can use small pieces of cheap fleece as "liners" to protect the inside of the diaper from the diaper cream, and to wick moisture away from the diaper area. Other mamas that don't like to deal with messy poo diapers use the fleece liners and have a different washing routine for them. They can also be used inside prefolds, which are cotton and can feel drenched when wet, for the "stay dry" effect.

Zorb - this is a new synthetic fabric that was going to transform the cloth diapering world. Only it didn't. It's ok. It's not nearly as absorbent as the hype would lead you to believe. It has to be sandwiched betweeen other absorbent layers like bamboo, which makes it bulkier than a single layer. But it doesn't have the stink issues that microfiber does. I have some bamboo/zorb inserts that we like to use as doublers in fitteds, or for extra overnight layers, and they work well.

Similar to what I said in the first CD 101 post - if you know WHY you are looking into cloth diapering, it helps you narrow the choices. Cotton is cheap, bamboo, hemp, and wool are more expensive. If you want all natural, you are gonna need to look at wool covers. If you want organic, you can find it, but you will pay more for organic diapers. If you want cute, lots of mamas make fitteds with cute knit outers and cotton velour or bamboo velour (soft!) insides, so you can enjoy the outside and your baby can enjoy the inside.

I'm hoping that the discussion about diaper types in the first post and fabrics in this post has helped give an outline of the choices in cloth diapering. I love to talk to moms considering cloth diapering about their options, so feel free to post a comment or send me an email, and I'll see if I can help.

Happy Diapering!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Where do you buy cloth diapers?

(Fluffy Mail)

I get this question alot at daycare. First they say how cute the diapers are. Then they ask where you buy them.

There is one local store in my area that sells cloth diapers: Mama's Hip. Shannon is really nice - Caitlin and I went to New Mommy Group there when she was only about 5 weeks old. Her inventory on cloth diapers is pretty limited, though - I imagine it would be costly to keep a huge selection on hand.

The cheapest way to get your cloth diapers is (1) to find an online store that offers free shipping and wait for a sale, or (2) buy gently used diapers online.

There are several online retailers that offer free shipping. Sew Crafty Baby is my favorite. Jenn is very customer-service-oriented and does a great job. She had Thirsties drop-ship my new Duo Diaper to me and I got it before any other mamas had posted about it on Diaperswappers. I know that she had to pay them to do that, and she always offers free shipping on all orders, so I've gone back to her with subsequent orders.

She has a sale on Thirsties now. Wish I had my tax check in!

Buying FSOT has its advantages and disadvantages. I've had spurts where I've gone on FSOT binges. Then I buy things I regret and later sell them. I'll do a whole post on the game of selling on FSOT. The advantages to buying are: the seller pays the shipping and the fees. If they ask you to do that, it is against the forum rules and you should report them to a moderator. Or just move on and buy from someone else. Ask lots of questions or be prepared to get what you get if you don't. Ask about stains, what shape the elastic and velcro or snaps are in, if there is anything wonky about the diaper (like it was an irregular size or something wierd).

I use FSOT to get a new diaper I'm interested in trying without paying full price. Then if it works for your little one's build/size/shape, you can buy more feeling more comfortable about your decision.

It's hard that most of your cloth diaper purchases will have to be made without seeing the diaper before you pay. You can do research on the forums, but there's nothing like actually seeing the diaper in person to make a decision.

A number of mamas have started home based businesses making cloth diapers. They sell their wares on Diaperswappers, but also on sites like Etsy and HyenaCart. I love HC.

Check out this mama's store: BubuBebe. She is in Canada, and makes AWESOME diapers. Wee One's first birthday diaper is from her, as well as some other adorable fitteds I have gotten.

Another mama's diapers that I love: Nana's Bottoms. She makes great AIO's - she made Caitlin a preemie sized diaper in periwinkle blue to match her "coming home" outfit while I was on bedrest in the hospital. I loved it so much that I bought some more in newborn size, the pink one she wore in her first photo session!

Hyenacart and Etsy are also good sources for handmade woolies! All the woolies shown in my post on wool - except the ones I made, of course - are from Hyenacart stores.

Be careful - shopping for cloth diapers can become addictive!!!!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cloth Diapering 101 - The Overview

So lots of people ask me about using cloth diapers. Most of the time, people think of cloth diapers as the prefold diapers that you get from the diaper service and use with rubber pants. Modern cloth diapering has a myriad of options, and can be quite different from what you would expect.

As a new mom, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer options in modern cloth diapering. I joined a discussion board (Diaperswappers) to learn more, but most mamas use quite a bit of "lingo" and abbreviations that make it difficult to follow the conversation in the beginning.

To complicate matters further, there are a number of reasons a mama might want to start cloth diapering, and those reasons might help to influence the types of cloth diapers she might want to use. Knowing what you want to get out of cloth diapering, or the reasons you are starting, might help you in the long run. Some mamas just like the idea of "the best" for their baby - in which case cost for cute diapers might not be a problem. Other mamas want to help save the environment - I know I can't stand the thought of all those used diapers going into landfills every day. Some mamas want to try to save money by using reusable diapers. Some mamas have babies with sensitive skin (like mine) that have fewer rashes with cloth diapers. Some mamas want only all natural fibers next to their babies skin. Knowing the reason (or reasons) you want to try cloth diapering will help you wade through the choices.

This post will be an overview to kick off a number of posts about different aspects of cloth diapering. Each item will have other posts that provide additional detailed information - the overview is already long enough! Be sure to check the tags to find the posts on the types of diapers you are interested in. Let me know in the comments if you find any of this helpful.

Ok, here we go! A "diaper" actually requires two components - a part that absorbs and a part (waterproof or moisture resistant) that protects the clothes, bedding, furniture, carseat, etc, from getting wet. Cloth diaper "systems" have both elements.

Diaper and Cover

These systems most closely resemble your traditional "diaper and rubber pants" memory. The diaper component can be a flat, prefold, contour, or fitted, and the cover can be polyester, fleece, or wool. For this post, we will consider the polyester wrap-style covers.

A flat is a large square of thin material that can be folded in specific ways to put absorbency where you need it. A prefold is several layers of this thin material that is already shaped and sewn with the layers in the center. It still usually has to be folded to fit into the diaper cover. A fitted diaper has elastic around the legs, and sometimes has snap or velcro-type closure to keep it on. It is only made of absorbent material, however, and so will still need a waterproof cover. A contour diaper is somewhere in between a prefold and a fitted - it is usually cut to better fit inside a cover than the rectangular prefold, but might not have elastic or closures like the fitted.

The cover is usually a polyester fabric that has been laminated on one side with a very thin coating of a waterproof polymer. This fabric is usually referred to as PUL (polyurethane laminated) and so these covers are often referred to as "PUL covers". These covers can be re-used for several diaper changes, until they are soiled. They are similar to the "rubber pants" - however, they usually have velcro-like or snap closures on the sides, so they can be more easily removed from a soiled diaper. (No more pulling poopy rubber pants all the way down the legs to get them off!) As with anything else in life, there are tons of brands and you always wonder what is the best. Each has different features that some mamas can't live without and other mamas think are extraneous. I swear by Thirsties covers. They have leg gussets that help with the fit around the legs, they come in cute colors, they are not very expensive, they are well made and hold up for a long time, and they have laundry tabs to hold the aplix tabs so they don't get stuck on other diapers in the laundry. I have tried other covers that work similarly - Bummi's Super Brite and Bummi's Super Whisper Wrap were the first kinds of covers we tried. Those worked better when wee one was tiny, because the Bummi's newborn size fit better than the Thirsties XS size. However, the Bummi's don't have the leg gussets, and the Super Whisper Wrap is two layers of PUL which make it a heavier cover.

If you are looking into cloth diapering to try to save money by purchasing reusable diapers, the diaper-and-cover system can be the cheapest way to go. To save the most money, buy flats and a couple of covers. The flats are the cheapest, they will fit your baby as they grow depending on how you fold, and they can be hung to dry saving money on the laundering aspect. The downside is that there is a learning curve to learning to fold, and they may not be as absorbent as you need for a bigger baby or for nighttime. Prefolds run a close second for being affordable. However, you will need several different sizes over the course of diapering a baby, and there are folds to master here too. The simplest way to use a prefold is to fold it in thirds lengthwise and lay it into the cover. Lay your little one on top, and fasten the cover around them. Yes, it works.

Fitteds are more expensive than prefolds, and can run into the really expensive depending on what kind you get. See the post on fitteds for more discussion on this. One benefit to fitteds is that they fasten on without a cover. If you're hanging out at home, you can let your little one run around without a cover on. Some mamas say this helps prevent diaper rash, since the fitted is more breathable without a cover. Other mamas like to see the cute prints. Fitteds also help contain the poo in the diaper better than flats or prefolds, so you may be able to get away with fewer cover changes with fitteds. Since we don't use pins with prefolds, I use fitteds underneath woolies.

At this point I should probably discuss "one size" diapers. Some diapers are designed to be "one size fits most babies", and so they have some way of being adjusted to meet the needs of differently sized babies. The idea is to only have to purchase one diaper that will fit your baby from very tiny to very big. This usually works better in theory than in practice. Thirsties has come out with the idea of making two sizes, one for very small to medium sized babies, and one for medium to large toddlers. Their covers and their new pocket diapers are now available liek this. There is a cost savings to only having to buy two sizes of covers to range from small to extra-large, rather than having to buy four sizes of their previous style. However, some mamas have complained about the fit. I already had a set of medium sized covers, so I have not used the new style cover yet. I'll review it when I do.

Pocket Diapers

Another very popular type of diaper are pockets. These are diapers that look similar to the PUL covers, but there is an additional layer of fleece lining the inside that is open at one or both ends to create a "pocket". This pocket can be stuffed with the absorbent material. Pocket diapers, when stuffed, are very easy to use. Daddys, Grandmas, babysitters, and others not familiar with cloth diapers can easily recognize how to use the pocket diaper. They close in the front with velcro-like closures or snaps, and you put them on similar to disposable diapers. My daycare requires a "one-piece" cloth diaper, so I send pockets to daycare with the wee one.

There are some downsides to pocket diapers. You have to unstuff most styles of pocket diaper before putting them in the laundry, and then they all have to be re-stuffed after being dried. Most inserts are made of microfiber, which some mamas say get "the stinkies". I have not had this issue, but it gets discussed regularly on the discussion board. Pocket diapers are more expensive than prefolds and covers - and since the diaper is all in one piece, you can't re-use any part of it for the next diaper change.

Some brands of pockets are sized, meaning they come in different sizes. Some are "one size" (OS) similar to the discussion above about one size covers. The Bum Genius 3.0 is a popular one size diaper, as is the Thirsties Duo diaper that I love.

Hybrid Systems

The Gro-Baby and other systems fit into this category. The Gro Baby has a cover to fit multiple sized babies, with an absorbent insert that snaps into the cover. They tend to be pricey, and work similar to a prefold and cover system. I thought it was pretty pointless and sold mine after not using it very much. The cover worked well, but I prefer the Thirsties leg gussets and colors.


This is pretty much what it sounds like, a diaper that is all one piece. Has the advantages of pocket diapers in that it is easy to use, and most babysitters and dads are willing to use them, and you don't have to do the stuffing and unstuffing of pockets. However, they tend to take much longer to dry because you don't remove the absorbent material from the inside. I also tend to worry about them getting really clean. All-in-twos are similar to all-in-ones, but some or all of the absorbent material can be removed for washing and drying, eliminating some of that downside.

Many mamas use some of each of the different types, to meet different needs they have at different times. When I stayed at home with wee one for the first four months, we did mostly prefolds and covers, and experimented with other types. Now that she is in daycare and they require "one piece" diapers, we have pockets for that. Fitteds work better under covers since we don't pin prefolds. Our nighttime system uses pockets with extra inserts.

To add to the confusion, each diaper comes in a variety of styles and materials (more detail in a later post).

So its easy to be overwhelmed by the choices. But that's something that makes cloth diapering fun. You can always experiment and try a new diaper to see if you like it. There is always something new to try!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Lookie What I Made!

Yes, I really made them.

And there was even enough to make a hat!

I use cloth diapers on the wee one. If you're not familiar with modern cloth diapers, that statement probably surprises you, but really its pretty easy, and fun, and makes me feel like I'm doing something good for her and sortof for the environment. Would be good for my pocketbook, except they're so darn cute ... Keep reading this blog and you will learn lots about cloth diapering. I warn you, it's totally addictive.

One of the things that I have learned in my foray into the world of modern cloth diapering is ... wool makes great diaper covers.

Sweet Seats, $50

Here I must digress into my first cloth diapering lesson. Modern cloth diapers are usually made of a "diaper" component, which is some sort of absorbent material, and a "cover" component, which is some sort of waterproof or water resistant material. The simplest cloth diapering system is a prefold diaper (the square diaper that is thicker in the middle - what you normally think of as a "cloth diaper") in a wrap-style cover that fastens in the front with velcro-style tabs. However, there are a multitude of options. You can also buy fitted diapers to go in the wrap covers. Fitted diapers have some elastic around the legs to help keep the poo in, and often have fasteners to help keep them on. If you're just hanging out with the babe at home you can let them run around in a fitted diaper which are very breathable without the cover.

We use fitted diapers alot, with the wrap-style covers. (Ahem, THIRSTIES are our cover of choice.) However, I noticed on the cloth diapering discussion board that I frequent, that lots of mamas use wool as diaper covers.

Wool itself comes in various forms as diaper covers, which can be the subject of another day's post as well. What I became interested in were the wool pants, shorts, and skirts, called "longies", "shorties", or "skirties" respectively. Collectively these are called "woolies". They are knit or crocheted with wool yarn into these items, and then lanolized, or treated with lanolin. Wool is itself fairly water resistant because of the naturally occurring lanolin. However, processes like dying, and washing of the garment, strips the wool of natural lanolin. You can treat the wool with lanolin to "lanolize" it, and restore the moisture resistance, and then use the garment with cloth diapers. The wetness of the cloth diaper may make the inside of the garment slightly damp, depending on how heavy a wetter your babe is, and how often you change the diaper, but the wetness doesn't get to the outside of garment or on their other clothes, and therefore the longies can be worn without needing a waterproof diaper cover.

Molly's Bottoms, $70

Since it is a natural fiber, and is often knit or crocheted with a fairly open weave, wool is very breathable. I know from my camping days, wool is one of the only fibers that keeps its insulating properties while wet, so that's why folks tend to wear it in winter, but it is also breathable and appropriate, in the right garments, in other seasons as well.

Molly's Bottoms, $80

I spent quite a long time reading about other mamas being "addicted" to wool without understanding it. Sure, some of the little pants were pretty cute, and I loved the little skirties. But some of the prices! The average price for a pair of new hand-knit longies is around $50. If you buy yarn and have it done for you it might be slightly cheaper if you can find a good deal on yarn and are only looking for newborn or small size.

The Cat's Meow, $40

I bought a pair used on FSOT (for sale or trade, a section on the cloth diapering discussion board where you can buy and sell gently - or not-so-gently - used diapers). For $8 which was a great deal. They fit the wee one perfectly, so we began our experiment with wool.

I was absolutely hooked from day one. In addition to being cute little knit pants, they do work as a diaper cover. Since I don't use pins on prefolds, they work better with fitteds for us. And we got so many compliments.

I bought some yarn and tried my hand at crocheting some from a tutorial I found online. Keeping in mind that I only crocheted once before, in 7th grade, to make a pencil holder, my first attempt was ok. I call them "wonky longies" because they were, well, wonky.

I did more research on the internet, adjusted some key steps accordingly, and tried another pair.

Which turned out MUCH better, if I do say so myself! Wee One wore these to her first Valentine's party at daycare. Everyone loved them, and I was so proud to say that I had made them for her myself.

If you love them, I have YYMH (your yarn my hook) spots available to make you a custom pair. Send me an email if you are interested. You will need to shop for yummy yarn (I have ideas if you need some) - crochet takes a little more yarn than knit, so plan accordingly. The longies pictured here took about 5 ounces of yarn, maybe a little more. You will need to measure your little one, the price is set based on finished size.

They are cute and adorable even if you don't use cloth diapers. You will get tons of compliments and your wee one will stay warm for the rest of the season.

(All photos that are not my work are from items currently listed for sale on HyenaCart and are hyperlinked directly to the listing. Shown as examples only.)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I suck at V Day

I forgot that my parents still celebrate Valentine's Day.

I don't happen to celebrate the non-holiday. I think it s stupid waste of time. I was also of this opinion when I was in serious relationships, and even the one year that I was married on Valentine's Day, so it's not like I'm just a bitter single woman bemoaning my fate on the romance holiday. I've been bitter even when I wasn't single.

It's stupid to celebrate your relationship, or romance, on just a single day anyway. Guys seem to think you can be an egghead (or worse) 364 days a year and remember chocolates and roses one day (two if you have an anniversary to remember) and you're ok. Women judge men by what they receive, as if their entire relationship is reduced to him managing to mindread your hints for the perfect gift. Is any of this reflective of HEALTHY human relations?

I've been out of a serious relationship for ... several years now. My last "relationship" was with the cheating womanizer. We started in June, and I learned of the cheating womanizing thing a few months later, so we didn't even have a Valentine's Day together. Most of my friends know I'm rather apathetic about the day, so it's no big deal in my world. I think it's a big waste the amount of paper that will get exchanged and then thrown away in the name of all of this nonsense. Poor trees. But beyond that, it's just another day and I'm over all of it.

So I show up at my parent's house this morning for coffee with the wee one in arms. To two small packages with cards in my father's handwriting on the dining room table and my mother packing a red bag with gifts and cards to bring in. Dad bought us chocolates from Schimpff's downtown, and mother bought me some dishes that I much needed for the kitchen. Cards for me and mom and Caitlin.

And I was empty handed. Felt. Like. Crap.

Caitlin and I had dinner together last night. As I fed her pureed sweet potatoes with turkey I thanked her for having Valentine's evening dinner with me (like she ever had a choice) and I told her how much I loved her. So it's not like I'm completely an unfeeling heel. (Not really).

I just don't celebrate this particular day.

So tomorrow I'm totally buying discount cards to give them next year. Maybe shopping and finding sales will make me feel better about giving in. But I'm not showing up empty handed next year. No guilt for me next year!

Valentine's Day has had its upside before. That was the weekend, in 2004, when Darwin Kat came into my life. Adorable, sweet, lovable, precious kitty. I miss him so much. This weekend was always my reminder to tell him the story of how he came to be with me. And he usually got homemade salmon treats. Miss you, kitty.