Monday, October 28, 2013

Cloth Diapering Part 3: Types of diapers

So now that we've gone over WHY cloth diapering is the best thing ever a really great option and addressed some concerns, you're either thinking "Yeah...nope. Still not for me." Which is fine. It really is. It's a personal choice.'re thinking "Okay, this sounds doable. But where do I even start??"

When people approach me about cloth diapering, it goes in phases: 1- "So tell me about these cloth diapers, you crazy hippie." 2- "Yeah, but what about XYZ??" (Both of which I've covered here and here) 3- "Okay. I wanna maybe do it. Sooo....what do I do now? What's your favorite? What do you use?" 4- "I'm so excited! But what about all the other cloth diapering odds and ends??" 5- "How do I wash them?" etc.

We are on phase 3, everyone! I am so excited! But before I tell you how to get started, we have to go over diaper options. There are several different types of diapers. This is the part that can seem overwhelming to a lot of people. It was for me, so I don't blame you. Once you have an idea of what type of diaper might best suit your needs, lifestyle, budget, and general "situation", we can REALLY get started.


There are three main parts to a cloth diaper that we'll be discussing with each type:

1- The absorbent layer - what soaks up the pee
2- The waterproof layer - what keeps the wetness from spreading to clothes
3- Closure - how the diaper is secured


The first type of diaper we'll cover is the FLAT. It is just what it sounds like - a big, FLAT piece of cloth. It's usually cotton. This is what your grandma probably used. This is usually the type of diaper that scares cloth diaper newbies because you have to fold it up (and there are lots of ways to do this) and secure it either with diaper pins (while these are still used, they are not very common anymore) or a snappi. OR you can just fold them into a big rectangle and stuff them in a pocket diaper or lay them in a cover - I'll go over that later. These diapers are, themselves, the absorbent part of the diaper. They do not have a waterproof layer, so you'll need to use a cover with these. Again, I'll talk about covers in a bit.

Inexpensive, trim, easy to launder, quick dry time, long lifespan, great absorbency

Not the quickest/easiest option, learning curve, requires extra parts (cover)


The next type of diaper we'll talk about is the PREFOLD. Your grandmother may have also used these. Or your mom. These are those cloth diapers a lot of people use as burp cloths (though the Gerber ones you get at Target or WalMart probably wouldn't be your best option if you plan on actually using it as a diaper). If you're like my family, you may have had some of these lying around the house, used as dusting rags (remember in Part 1 when I talked about how cloth diapers can be repurposed?). These are basically flats that have been PREFOLDED and sewn into place, with a thick, absorbent, layered strip down the middle. They are smaller than flats, but thicker. PREFOLDS are also usually always cotton. Same as above, you can fold/wrap it around your baby and secure it with pins or snappis, or fold it into thirds (creating a rectangle) and stuff it into a pocket diaper or lay it in a cover. Again, as with flats, prefolds do not have a waterproof layer, so a cover of some sort is necessary.

Inexpensive, trim, easy to launder, decent dry time, almost infinite life span, great absorbency

Easier than flats, but can be more confusing than other cloth diaper options, requires extra parts (cover)


FITTED and CONTOUR diapers are the same basic idea as flats and prefolds, in that they are all one piece and the whole thing is the absorbent part of the diaper. The biggest difference is that there is no folding involved. FITTEDS  and CONTOURS are cut and sewn into shape. And that shape is...a...diaper shape. They can be found in several different materials ranging from cotton to bamboo to hemp - usually natural fibers is what you'll find. The difference between these two is that FITTED diapers usually have elastic around the waist and leg holes and CONTOURS do not. FITTEDS may also have built in closure, usually snaps, while CONTOUR diapers do not. CONTOURS are basically a step up from flats/prefolds (in simplicity), and FITTEDS are another small step up. As with the above options, there is no waterproof layer, so you'll need a cover with these.



CONTOUR-Easy to use, easy to launder, great absorbency
FITTEDS-Easy to use, easy to launder, great absorbency, good nighttime diaper
CONTOUR-cost more than flats/prefolds, requires extra parts (cover)
FITTEDS-more expensive, longer drying time, bulkier than previous options, requires extra parts (cover)


Now on to COVERS. There are two basic types - a wrap-style COVER and a pull-on COVER. A wrap-style cover looks a lot like any other cloth diaper. They come in many different colors and designs. They will have either snap closure - just plastic snaps--easy peasy - or hook and loop ("velcro"). Or a combination of the two. They will be some sort of waterproof material (PUL, laminated cotton, fleece, or wool). The most common are PUL - which is polyurethane laminate - and wool. Some have a slick inside and some have a polyester knit (or similar) layer between baby's bum and the PUL. There is elastic around the leg holes and at the waist or back. Pull-on COVERS are your basic plastic pants. Some are nicer. Elastic around the waist and leg holes. Wool COVERS are similar to pull-ons, except they're made of wool. Covers are just that - there is no absorbent layer. There isn't an easy set of pros and cons with covers. You either use them or you don't, based on your chosen diaper system. They come sized and one-size, with various different closure options. The price range varies greatly depending on brand. One major pro for covers is that they can be re-used. You don't have to wash them after every diaper change. You can just allow it to dry (or wipe it out if there is a slick inner layer) and use it again. You can keep doing this until they become noticeably stinky or soiled. Usually at least 2 or 3 diaper changes. Also, you can use almost anything within the cover as your absorbent layer, so they make for a very versatile diapering system.





Next, we've got ALL-IN-ONE diapers, commonly referred to by their acronym, AIO. AIOs are, again, exactly what they sound like. The absorbent, waterproof, and closure parts are all in one happy little bundle. The ALL-IN-ONE. These are the most similar to disposables. All one piece, with elastic around the legs and waist/back and snap or hook and loop closure. They are easy to use. There is no folding or stuffing (we'll get to that), and no extra parts. AIOs feature all different absorbent and moisture-wicking materials, including cotton, hemp, bamboo, microfleece, microfiber, etc.

Super easy (may want to have a few on-hand for grandparents or other caregivers)
You need more of these since they must be washed with every use - which makes them a more expensive system, they can take a long time to dry, absorbency can suffer because manufacturers are trying to cut down on drying time, these tend to be bulkier than other options (depending on brand)


Similar to the all-in-one, we have ALL-IN-TWO diapers. Also more commonly referred to by their acronym, AI2. The main difference is that the absorbent part of the AI2 is removable. The absorbent "pods" (also referred to as soakers) usually snap in to the outer shell, or are held in place by a flap of fabric on the shell. They come in all different types of material. There is often a moisture wicking layer on these to pull "wetness" away from you baby's skin. Because of their nature, the outer layer (like covers) can be re-used for more than one diaper change before needing to be washed - you just snap in a new pod/soaker. Another feature that makes AI2s popular is that there are "hybrid" options. "Uhh..what??" Some manufacturers make flushable/biodegradable (earth-friendly) disposable pods that can be used in the shell. This comes in handy when you are traveling or if you are in a situation where laundry is a bit complicated or not doable. Hybrid systems can also be an easier transition into cloth diapering. They are kinder on the environment than disposables since the plastic is replaced by a cloth shell and there are far fewer chemicals (or none at all) found in these disposable pods.

Easy to use, easy to launder, very customizable, pretty affordable since the shell can be re-used, faster drying time than AIOs
Can be bulky depending on brand, requires some "putting together" before use (unlike AIO), can be pricey (brand, brand, brand!)


Finally, we have POCKET diapers. Like all-in-twos, POCKETS are a two-part system. The biggest difference with these is that your absorbent layer(s), or "inserts", are stuffed into a pocket that has been sewn into the shell. Inserts come in every absorbent material out there. The pocket is what touches baby's bum - a moisture wicking layer of material that keeps baby feeling dry (usually microfleece or microsuede). POCKET diapers are a step between all-in-ones and all-in-twos, and share similar pros and cons with both.

Easy to use, quick to dry, very customizable, old standby for nighttime diapering (because they can be double or triple stuffed)
Tend to be bulky, there is a little extra effort involved in laundering since a lot of them will need to be unstuffed at some point (many manufacturers claim that inserts will come out in the wash, but I end up having to unstuff them after they have been through the washer), requires some "putting together", can be an expensive option since they must be washed with every use


Another thing to keep in mind is that almost every type of diaper can come "one-size" or "sized". One-size (also referred to as the acronym "OS") usually has snaps in the front so you can snap it up to make it smaller, and you gradually move down a snap as your baby grows. Since you don't need to buy more as you go, these are called "one-size". Sized diapers are just what they sound like. They come in small, medium, large, etc. and you buy the next size up when your baby grows out of them.


ONE-SIZE - Can be used from newborn to potty training
SIZED - Tend to have a better fit, less bulky, passed on to younger siblings in better condition since they have been used and washed fewer times
ONE-SIZE - Wear out faster since you wash them more and use them longer, snapping up to smaller sizes creates a double layer which means more bulk
SIZED - More expensive since you have to buy more as baby grows out of them


So there you have it! Everyone prefers a different type of diaper. Choosing a system can depend on a lot of different factors. You'll need to ask yourself:

What is my laundry situation? (Do you have your own washer and dryer? Do you use a laundromat?)
Who is going to be changing diapers?
How much space do I have to store diapers?
Is my baby a heavy wetter?
Which is most important? Cost? Ease of use? Durability? 
Am I willing to really dive in and learn how to fold more "complicated" systems? Or would I rather deal with "easier" options?

After doing some homework, I was able to pretty well narrow it down to what I THOUGHT would be the best option for me. This was based on my budget, lifestyle, and just plain old personal preference. Some excellent advice I got, though, was not to write off any particular system without trying it first - but we'll get into that in the next post, so keep your eyes peeled!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Letter To My Children

To my sweet babies,

I've discovered that being a parent is HARD. The "right" choice isn't always obvious when it comes time to make a decision. And sometimes it's not a matter of right or wrong - there are just different paths to choose. And, try as we may, we don't always know what to do. I bet every parent out there has wished for the rewind button on at least one occasion.

My parents were/are certainly not perfect. And in that way, I am following in their footsteps. I am a vastly different mother to you than my own was to me or my friends are to their children. But we all have something in common.

As parents, we lay awake at night wondering how our children will turn out. What sort of school should you go to? What about sports? Musical instruments? Art? What talents do we nurture and how do we know if we've got a budding artist or athlete or scientist on our hands? How tough is too tough when it comes to "tough love"? Should I have made you eat those green beans? Do I read to you enough? If I tell you you're beautiful too much, will you think that's all that matters and become shallow? Should I feed you jarred baby food, or should I try baby-led weaning? Is it okay to let you play with toy guns?

We all want what's best, but by whose definition? WHAT is best? At the end of the day, I just want you to know that your father and I love you no matter what. Whether you grow up to be a dancer or a plumber or a doctor or a teacher or what-have-you. We will always love you. If you throw a tantrum the day before your wedding, I will still be there and I will smile in the pictures even though you acted like a brat. Because I love you. If something goes awry at a big event of yours and you blame everything on me, I will shake my head (maybe roll my eyes because, let's be honest, you're being a little dramatic) and help make it right. Because I love you. When you stayed up crying all night the first few weeks of your life, we wearily snuggled you until you finally fell asleep. When you kicked the back of the seat THE WHOLE ROAD TRIP that one time, we still stopped and let you pick out your favorite alien souvenir in Roswell. When you make a huge mess because you wanted to do *insert task here* yourself, we helped you clean it up and encouraged you to try again...even though we knew it would most likely end in mess again. We have both been covered in every type of bodily fluid you could muster....and we still want to give you hugs and kisses and snuggles and munch on your cheeks. All guessed it--WE LOVE YOU.

No matter what happens, your father and I will always be there when you need us--and even when you don't. You are our joy. You are (quite literally) the reason we wake up every morning. The love in our marriage has only grown - exponentially - since you have joined our family. We will never stop caring. We will never stop supporting you. We will never begrudge you. Because WE LOVE YOU.

And, goshdangit, I'm your MAMMA!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Cloth Diapering Part 2: Common Questions, Concerns, and Misconceptions

It seems everyone has a lot of misconceptions about cloth diapering. And I can't blame them. If you don't do it, then how can you know the truth? People come to me with a lot of questions. There are several very common concerns and a lot of misconception with it comes to this method of diapering. That's what I'll be addressing in this post.

First misconception: "Cloth diapers are so expensive!"
Wrong. And I say that, because in order for something to really be true, it has to be true ALL THE TIME. While, yes, it is true that some cloth diapers can be expensive, that is not always the case. There are tons of affordable options out there. You have to keep in mind that there are a lot of options when it comes to cloth - which is one of the reasons I love it so much! When you look at all of the styles, brands, materials, types, and methods out there, you'll see that a single diaper setup can cost anywhere from a few dollars to thirty or forty or more. But no one is twisting your arm and making you buy a fifty dollar diaper. (Yes, I have seen some in that range.) You can join co-ops to get some awesome deals. You can join a diaper swap group. You can buy used diapers (sounds gross, but they are completely washed/sanitized.). A lot of people make their own diapers! Bottom line: cloth diapering can be as affordable as you need it to be. Even brand new, some only run a few dollars each. We already discussed in part one of this series how cloth is MUCH more cost-effective than disposables.

"Yeah, but what about the cost of washing or a diaper service?"
While the cost of washing was also covered in part one, it's worth mentioning again. Yes, you will see an increase in your utility bill. But even after that, it still costs less than disposables. A diaper service can be expensive. There aren't any in my area, and even if there were, I would opt to do the diaper laundry myself anyway. It's really not that difficult! Which brings me to my next point...

"Washing cloth diapers is a PAIN, right? Isn't it gross?? Doesn't it take up a lot of your time? Won't it make my washer yucky?"
Washing diapers is actually pretty simple, and it doesn't have to take up a lot of your time. It is common for people to think that cloth diapering buries you in laundry, but it really doesn't! I do a diaper load every other day. Sometimes if I'm having a super busy or lazy week, I'll go two days in between. But I usually do a load of laundry every day (keeps the pile at bay!), so this wasn't much extra work for me anyway. ACTUALLY...for some people who are not on top of their laundry "situation", cloth diapering helps keep them on top of it! If you're not good at staying on top of your laundry, you will be when you start cloth diapering because you need clean diapers--no ifs, ands, or dirty butts about it! And it's really not gross. Your washing machine was made to wash dirty things. What do you do if your child vomits on their clothes? How do you wash dirty work clothes or a toddler's pee accident? How do you clean up a spaghetti dinner mess? I promise your washer can handle it. It's not gross for you, either. You dump your dirty dipes into the washer and start your cycle. Simple as that. 

"Okay. What about the 'POOP FACTOR'? How do you deal with that?!"
To that, I say "How do YOU deal with it?" You're going to be dealing with poop whether you use cloth or disposables. Is there a parent out there who has never been confronted with a poop mess? Do disposables magically make poo less messy or stinky? Um--no. Blowouts are blowouts. And if I'm being completely honest--I've had fewer blowouts in cloth than I did with disposables on my son. If you're getting poop on yourself during diaper're either doing something wrong, or it's such a big mess that it was unavoidable anyway. As for DISPOSING of the poo...well that's an easy one. There are a few options. (1) Just shake it out into the toilet. (2) Use a liner. These come in disposable and reusable options. It's just a thin layer of cloth (or disposable material) that you lay in the diaper. Pee soaks through to the diaper and poo can be easily lifted out and dumped in the toilet. (3) A diaper sprayer. They kinda look like those sprayers on the kitchen sink. They connect to the back of the toilet and there is a hose and you just spray diapers off into the toilet. Plus (BONUS!) you can use it as a bidet. Holla! You do NOT have to dunk and swirl in the toilet like your mother or grandmother did. They have made things so much easier for us. It's really not bad at all. Besides - as mentioned in part one - you're not supposed to throw poop away with your disposables anyway. You're supposed to dump it in the toilet. (Seriously--read the instructions on the box.)

"Don't the dirty diapers stink really bad? I heard you're supposed to store them in a pail of water while they're waiting to be washed--ick!"
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Sorry. Just had to get that out. Raise your hand if your diaper pail doesn't stink. *crickets* No one? Oh right--you're putting soiled diapers in a bin. It's going to stink whether you use cloth or disposables. I dealt with more stink from disposables than I do with cloth. And maybe that's because there was more poop in the bin when I used disposables (I didn't dump solids into the toilet as recommended). As for the pail of water (known as a "wet pail")--that's an option, but it's not very common. Every cloth diapering mother I know uses the dry pail method. You chuck the diapers in a bin or trash can or whatever you like, really, and that's that. A lot of people use a wet bag/pail liner that is water proof and washable. Some people don't--they just use a bin that they can wash out in the tub. Other people use wicker baskets. Some people have lids on their pail and some don't (the tighter the seal, the more concentrated the stink...) I'll go over some odor control options in a later post. Just know that the stink is no worse than (and in my experience--better) disposable diaper pails.

"I heard you have to change cloth diapers more often than disposables."
Why? Do cloth diapered babies pee and poop more often? The truth is, a lot of people who use disposable diapers don't change their kids often enough. (I'm not saying that YOU don't!) The polyacrylate I talked about in part one makes your baby "feel" dry, but does that mean you shouldn't change them? I heard someone describe disposable diapers as "wearable toilets" because many people leave their children in soiled disposables for far too long. It's sad. And gross. If you were stuck in a diaper, wouldn't you want to be changed as soon as possible after soiling yourself? Every child, regardless of their diaper type, should be changed often to stay clean and avoid rashes, leaking, and being stinky.

"What do you do at night?"
I don't really understand why this is such a widespread concern. Heavy wetters are heavy wetters. I know with my son in disposables, he would wake up soaked some nights because he peed through his diaper. Blech. Now, I'm not saying you'll never get that with cloth. Let's be real. HOWEVER, with cloth diapers, you have a LOT of options for increased absorbency. There are several different materials that have varied levels of absorbency (cotton, hemp, bamboo, microfiber, etc.) You can use a wool "soaker" at night. You can use "doublers" or extra inserts. There are a lot of things you can do for nighttime diapering.

"What if my child goes to day care? What do you do when you're traveling? What about sleep overs at grandma's house?"
It's the same, the same, the same. You send your kid with diapers and include a wet bag. These are cloth bags with a waterproof layer that usually have a zipper or a drawstring. This goes for daycare or grandma's house or what-have-you. They change baby's diaper like they would a disposable, only instead of throwing it away, they toss it in the wet bag and you take that home with you when you pick up your child. A friend recently told me that there are no day care providers in her area that will accept a cloth diapered child. I believe her (she has no reason to lie about it), but I think that is absolutely ABSURD!! Why not?? I think this is probably due to ignorance on the care provider's part. Don't let that discourage you though. All of the day care centers I have checked out have no problem with taking cloth diapered children, and all of my cloth diaper mom friends said they haven't had any issues with it either. As for traveling--same thing. Take a small wet bag with you in your diaper bag while you're out and about and then when you get home, toss the bag and the diapers in your diaper pail and you're done. If you're going on vacation and don't have laundry accommodations, there are "hybrid" diapering solutions. You can get disposable, biodegradable inserts and use those instead of cloth in your diapers while you're traveling.

"Cloth diapers are bulky and ugly. Ew."
Wwwhhhhhaaaat?? Cloth diapers are AH-dorable. Did you see some of the diapers in the pictures in part one? Cute. They come in all different colors and patterns and materials. You can even get really soft/fuzzy "minky" material. Cloth diapers do add a little bit of bulk, but it's not that big of a deal. Not enough to dissuade people. And different diapers will be more or less bulky than others, so that weighs on some peoples' decisions when choosing a type/brand/style of diaper. Personally, I love a cute little cloth diapered fluff butt!

And, finally...

"Cloth diapering is hard! It takes too much time! All that folding and pinning and plastic waterproof pants--no thanks!
It's actually a very simple process. A great many cloth diapers are no more work than disposables when it comes to diaper changes. When you do a load of diaper laundry, just prepare your diapers and get them ready to go for changes. If you use all-in-ones, there's nothing to it. With pockets, simply stuff and go. (We'll be going over different types of cloth diapers in part three) When I first started cloth diapering, I was surprised to hear that a LOT of people love, and actually prefer, flats and prefolds. Flats are basically a big, flat, square cloth that you fold up ("old school") and pin or secure with a snappi. Prefolds are almost the same thing, but they're smaller and thicker in the middle and require less folding. Even if you want to try flats and prefolds, I say go for it! They're actually not difficult to use. There are several different ways to fold them and you don't have to use diaper pins! There are many different closure options. I use snappies myself (more on that in a later post) when using flats and prefolds. And plastic pants are almost unheard of nowadays. You use cute fabric diaper covers with a waterproof layer/liner. Check out the picture below to see how simple a prefold is to use. (Size 1 unbleached OsoCozy Prefold, Snappi, Bummis Super Whisper Wrap Diaper Cover)

So there you have it, folks! Cloth diapering myths debunked! Did I miss anything? What questions or concerns do YOU have?? You can ask in the comments below, on the Mrs. Rogers' Neighborhood facebook page, or email me!

In case you missed it, Part One of the Cloth Diapering series can be found here. If this post has left you with other questions (What is a doubler? Diaper sprayer? What do you mean different types of diapers?), I promise it will all be addressed in future posts in this cloth diaper series! Bear with me!

As usual, please read the Crunchy Mamma Disclaimer before you get all huffy or take something personal that wasn't meant that way. Love you tons. ;-)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Guest Post From The Lovely Jeannie!

Alright, ladies (and gents?)--I'm working on part two of the cloth diaper series. I swear it will be done soon! For now, please enjoy the lovely Jeannie, from One Wish Short...Of Paradise

She is one of my REAL LIFE friends. Gah! I DO have friends. I swear. And this one is one of my favorites. Check her out!

Hi everyone! I'm Jeannie, and I like to share a whole bunch of stuff over on my blog. Mainly stuff about whatever pops into my head. Like the unfairness of shaving or falling down the stairs, and sometimes I get all serious and talk about big life decisions

Any whoo, today is the first post in a series called Dating Disasters and Other Embarrassing Moments. And even though the title sounds dramatic, it will also include some awesome non-embarrassing dates and other stories. I just like the sound of the title, so we're gonna go with it!

Our first story is all about the first time I ever held hands with a boy. Oh yeah, down the nitty girtty already. 

I was 14, and I was the new girl. I had just moved to an itty-bitty town, with an itty-bitty high school (it took like 7 towns to come up with enough students to actually have a high school). I was super cool and in the Drama Club. (That's where the super-secret super-cool kids are, it was just so secret you never knew and made fun of us. No biggie.) As an awesome "treat" the Drama Club got to go see the local community college put on a play/musical called The Fantasticks. It has a cast of like 6 people and still stands out as the worst play I have ever seen. 

As usual, my mom was running late so I didn't get to go on the school bus with everyone else. She dropped me off, and I arrived about 5 minutes before the curtain went up. There was one seat left. Next to a boy who I knew. He had been good friends with my best friend, whom we'll call Molly. Molly brought me into a good group of friends and among those friends is a boy whom we'll call Chuck.

Chuck and I ended up sitting in a row behind everyone else. Just the two of us. Behind us was a row of boy scouts (why someone would take boy scouts to a play that has a song in it called, "Rape in the Night" is beyond me...) If I remember correctly, and I might not, the boy scouts were teasing us. There might have been some "kissing in the tree" songs going on. It didn't bother me. I hadn't really ever thought of boys as, you know, boys. And then Chuck said, "I have an idea, why don't we freak out the boy scouts and hold hands!" 

And I was all, "Haha, that would be funny." So we held hands for a second and I giggled. And then the play started and I put my hand back in my lap. Only to, somehow, end up holding hands with him for reals! I think my little teenage heart about burst. This nice, attractive and popular (ok, popular in my group of super cool Drama kids) was holding MY hand. *swoon*

What I didn't know was that he was still dating, or had just broken up with that day (I can't remember...), another girl. A girl who was already mad at me for making the school musical when she didn't. (Needless to say, I made an enemy for several years. She even drew horns on me in our yearbook. Classic.) After the play, as I was waiting for my mom to pick me up, he said that he liked me. He LIKED me! And my little teenage heart about died. And right then and there, I decided I liked him too. 

I told my mom about my first hand holding, and looking back now, she was trying pretty hard to hold back an indulgent smile. I gotta say, I was pretty lucky to end up with a decent guy for my very first time holding hands, cause he ended up being a lot of firsts, but you'll have to follow along to hear all about Duct Tape Prom or the time I was rescued from the bathroom by a waitress and her manager... Hope to see you soon! 

You can follow me Here

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Cloth Diapering: Why I do it

Cloth diapering is something I get approached about a lot. It's funny because a lot of people seem nervous to ask about it. I'm not sure why that is, but it always ends up being an interesting conversation. I welcome it! Whatever your reason for being interested or curious, good for you for wanting to make a change!

I came across "modern" cloth diapering when I was pregnant with my son. I spent a lot of time researching options for EVERYTHING from developmental toys/activities to feeding to diapering. I didn't know that cloth diapers had evolved so much! When I heard the term "cloth diaper", thought of what most people probably think of - a flat, square piece of cloth that you fold up and secure with a giant safety pin. NO THANKS! But I was wrong. (sort of--flats are still available and are actually widely used) Gone are the days of plastic pants and diaper pins! While some people do still use those, most prefer cute, modern cloth diapers featuring snaps, hook and loop (velcro, aplix, etc.) closure, and cutesy colors and prints.

Here are a few pictures of my daughter in cloth diapers

Workhorse fitted
Oh Katy
Small gDiaper
Bummis Super Whisper Wrap
itti bitti tutto
Newborn gDiaper ("tiny g's")

So...they're cute, right?! We love them at our house!

At first, it all seemed so overwhelming. I (temporarily) gave up on the idea. Gabriel was in disposables until he was potty trained. A few months into my pregnancy with Evangeline, I saw an ad for gDiapers. I was intrigued, so I clicked on it and found myself diving head first into cloth diaper research. After a week or so, armed with information, I felt confident enough about the subject to bring it up to McKay to see what he thought. After discussing it, we both felt good about moving forward....and here we are today!

There are three main reasons that factored into our decision to go cloth (and the three most common reasons people do it): Cost. Environment. Health. Let's start with cost, since so many people seem to be hung up on that one.

To start, we'll do a cost analysis on disposables. In 1988, about 18 billion diapers were sold and consumed in the US, and it cost $300 million just to dispose of them. Today, that number is around 27.4 billion - and the cost to dispose of them? Astronomical.

But what about personal cost? I did a search on for disposable diapers and their most popular and first listed is a 192 count box of Pampers. It costs $47.19 - that's roughly $0.25 each. Now, depending on your day and baby's diet, you could go through 4-12 (or more) diapers per day. Let's average that out to around 6-8 diapers a day. How about 7? So that's $1.72/day and $51.61/month. Oh right--let's not forget wipes. I'm assuming that those who use disposable diapers also use disposable wipes (I certainly did). Pretty much everything I saw (regardless of brand) came out to around $0.03 per wipe. If we're going with the 7 diaper changes a day model, that's 210 wipes per month--IF you only use ONE each diaper change. I don't know about you, but I sometimes went through 2-4 wipes in one diaper change. But I'll be generous and stick with 1 wipe per diaper change. That's $6.30 every month for wipes. Bringing your grand total to 
$57.40 per month for disposables
Now, if your child is potty trained by two years old, you're looking at $1,377.60 - and that's just for diapers and wipes BEFORE taxes. Add to that the cost of things like diaper genie refills and the extra diaper rash cream you're likely going to use (more on that later), and you're looking at an average of $1,500 for a kid potty trained by two. It shoots up to over $2,000 if you're like the average family with a child potty trained by about three years old.

Let's take a look at the cost for cloth. There are so many options for cloth diapers (more on that in my next post). So, depending on the type/style and brand you choose, you'll need varying amounts of diapers. Another factor is how often you wash. I do diaper loads about 3-4 times a week. So, depending on each of those factors, you'll probably spend anywhere from $200-$500 (possibly more, if you go with an expensive option or you choose to have an extra large diaper stash). Add in around $30 for cloth wipes (another very cost-effective option!) - and that's if you choose to buy them instead of making your own, which is super easy and even cheaper. And, of course, add on the extra cost for electricity/water since you're washing them. (That's around $0.10-$0.34 per load, depending on your water heater and where you live.) People like to think/say it's really expensive when you add in the cost of laundering, but really it's only an extra $5-$10 a month--and that's if you do a diaper load every other day. Using the higher end of my estimation ($500), all together, that's 
$22.29 per month for cloth diapers
Again, this is assuming you're kid is potty trained by two. If not, and here's the great part, YOUR COST ONLY GOES DOWN. If your child takes a little longer (let's say three years) your monthly cost is now $14.86. Oh right--there's one other thing: You can use your cloth diapers for more than one child. Yup. Most people can get through two kids (some, more than that) per "stash". And THAT brings you to a grand total of $11.14 if potty trained by two, or a whopping $7.43 if potty trained by three.

There you have it, folks. Cloth diapering is, in fact, cheaper than using disposables. And did you see above how, the longer you go with cloth, the cheaper it gets? It is the EXACT OPPOSITE with disposables. You're spending an average of $1,500-$4,000 on disposables PER CHILD. And that's not even diving into things like pull-ups and the like. Yikes.

And one other thing--most people SELL or repurpose their diapers when they're done with them. You heard me right. The savings just keep piling up.

The next factor: The Environment

This one seems to be on a lot of peoples' minds lately. "Go Green" movements are quite the trend these days, and I hope things stay that way! More and more people are looking for reusable options for everything from water bottles to paper towels. So why not diapers? 

Did you know that disposable diapers are the third largest single consumer item in landfills? Did you know that our current landfills are closing at a rate of one a day in the US? Overburdened landfills are a major threat to water and land pollution, as well as our standards for health. Have you ever read the instructions on a package of disposable diapers? Did you know that it is recommended that solid waste/fecal matter be deposited into the toilet before discarding the diaper? How many times have you HONESTLY done that? How many times have you seen anyone do that?! I never did. Human waste in disposable diapers joins 5 million tons of untreated human waste in our landfills - forever preserved for future generations, while human waste from a cloth diapered baby is properly treated in a sanitary municipal wastewater treatment plant. There's also the fact that no one knows exactly how long is takes for disposables to fully break down, though it is estimated at about 250-500 years. When no longer usable, a cloth diaper will decompose within six months.

Even the manufacturing of disposable diapers is a threat to the environment. Disposables are made with wood pulp, which consumes one billion trees per year at current manufacturing rates. Over 300 pounds of wood, 50 pounds of petroleum feedstocks, and 20 pounds of chlorine are used to manufacture disposable diapers for ONE CHILD each year. Cloth diapers, on the other hand, are made from natural and sustainable materials like organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, wool, etc. 

Environmental impact of disposable diapers = TOXIC & WASTEFUL AT BEST

Environmental impact of cloth diapers = A RESPONSIBLE, SUSTAINABLE SOLUTION

Disposable diapers use sixty times more solid waste and use twenty times more raw materials than cloth. Disposable diapers consume 70% more energy per diaper change than cloth diapers. After all is said and done, the extra water required to wash cloth diapers is less than the amount used to produce disposables. 

And, finally, the health factor. This one is just as important to me as the other two main factors (if not, more). This is also the one that is most often overlooked. As with many other issues in this country, people JUST DON'T KNOW what's in the products that they use.

Disposable diapers contain acrylate powders, which can be toxic if inhaled or ingested. Many people (children and adults alike) experience severe allergic reactions to these and other chemicals and perfumes in diapers. Some of those chemicals include: 
  • Dioxins: Highly toxic by-product of the paper-bleaching process. A carcinogen recognized by the EPA as the most toxic of cancer-linked chemicals. Linked to birth defects, miscarriages, cancer, and genetic damage. Banned in most countries, but not the US.
  • Tributyl-tin (TBT): a pollutant known to cause hormonal problems in humans and animals. Also toxic.
  • Sodium polyacrylate: This is a super absorbent polymer that becomes a gel when wet. Used in tampons until until is was BANNED (for tampons--not diapers...hmmm...) in 1985 due to its link to toxic shock syndrome(TSS) because it increased absorbency and created an improved environment for toxin-producing bacterial growth. Also causes several health problems for workers who manufacture disposable diapers (fatigue, female organ problems, weight loss, and lowered immunity, to name a few).
In 1955, 100% of babies in the US wore cloth diapers - only 7% experienced diaper rash. In 1991, 90% of babies in the US were in disposables (comparable to today) and 78% experience diaper rash. I personally know several people who have switched to cloth - a recommendation from their pediatrician - to alleviate diaper rash. Most cloth diapered babies do not have issues with diaper rashes and if they do, it is almost always linked to the detergent being used to wash the diapers. A simple fix.

Cloth diapers allow for air circulation, while disposables don't. This is oh-so-important not only for your baby's comfort, but also for the health of your baby's reproductive organs. Your baby boy's scrotum is located on the outside of his body for a reason - to keep them cool. The Archives of Disease in Childhood published research in May of 2000 that showed an increase in scrotal temperature in boys wearing disposable diapers. It also showed that prolonged use of disposable diapers blunts and/or completely destroys the physiological testicular cooling mechanism responsible for normal, healthy spermatogenesis. Researchers have concluded that disposable diaper use is linked to (and have named it an "important factor" in) the worldwide decline in sperm production in adult males.

I don't know about you, but any single one of these three main factors would have been enough to convince me to make the switch. All three of them together? Well that made it a no-brainer for us. To be completely honest, I feel really guilty for giving up on the idea with my son.

So there you have it. This is why we switched to cloth. We are loving it! All of these reasons PLUS, they are cute. They are so soft and cozy. They are fun to collect. They are SO customizable (looks, absorbency, there are even "hybrid" options)! But we'll dive more into that in the next post, so keep your eyes peeled!

As with any other post of this nature, please read the Crunchy Mama Disclaimer before scoffing, rolling your eyes at me, or posting angry comments.  :-)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

What's on my face: The Oil Cleansing Method, Revealed

A while ago, I posted this picture on Instagram (sans text) to show my friend what my skin looks like after oil cleansing (she was exploring new options for her skin care)

This was taken immediately after cleaning my face using the Oil Cleansing Method, or "OCM" in the crunchy community. No irritation. No redness. No moisturizer needed.

The following are a few of the comments I received:
"Your skin is gorgeous"
"Teach me!!!!!"
"Tell me more!!"
"Wow that's awesome!"

...and here I was nervous about plastering my bare face on instagram with hashtags...! Okay. So here it is! The promised blog post all about the Oil Cleansing Method and how it has changed my skin (and my life!) for the better.

Most of us are conditioned to believe that oil is EVIL and should be removed and avoided if we want blemish-free skin. The first step into the OCM world is to shed that belief. Oil is just fine. The oil (or "sebum") that your skin secretes is actually GOOD for it! And what have we been doing? Stripping it from our what now? NOW your skin reacts by going into overdrive and creating MORE oil. Or for those with dry skin, your condition is exacerbated because now you've stripped your skin of the little oil it had and it's not producing now your skin is even more dry. And irritated.

Can I just blow your mind real quick? Here goes:

You can clean your face with oil.

Yup. You read it right. If you remember the basics of chemistry, you'll recall that like dissolves like. Oil dissolves oil. If you were paying attention above, you now know that we most definitely do NOT want to strip our faces of oil. We just want to gently remove the dirty oil and replace it with glorious, nourishing, healing, clean oil.

Enter the Oil Cleansing Method.

It's so easy. Here's what you do:

1- Start with a dry face. Pour about a quarter-size amount of your oil mixture (we'll get to that) into your hand and rub your hands together to warm the oil.

2- Massage the oil into your face for 30-60 seconds (or longer, if you like)

3- Wet a washcloth with hot water--as hot as you can stand--and lay the washcloth on your face. Leave it there, steaming your pores, until it cools to room temperature.

4- GENTLY wipe the excess oil off your face with the wet washcloth.

5- Admire your beautiful face and watch over the next little while as it thanks you for being awesome.

A lot of people have asked me about this and looked at me, bewildered, like I am some sort of freak for intentionally rubbing oil into my face on a regular basis. I, too, thought it sounded ridiculous the first 20 or so times I saw/read about it. "I'm not THAT crunchy." was a common thought. But the idea eventually grew on me until I decided I was brave enough to try it, and I'm so glad I did!!

So here's what you need:

*Castor oil- this is the oil that does all of the lovely cleaning/dissolving work. It is antibacterial. It can also be drying, so keep that in mind when you're concocting.

*Carrier oil- There are several choices here, and we'll go over a few of them. This is the oil that is going to dilute and thin out the castor oil and provide moisture and other nutrients and benefits (depending on the oil you choose)

  • Olive Oil- This is probably the most popular (maybe because it is easiest to find?) and is the oil I use. Olive oil has the same pH as human skin and is generally great for all skin types. (It is the oil of choice for many with dry or mature skin) It is antibacterial and has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Almond Oil- Another popular choice. This one is a great all-around oil as well. Almond oil is very soothing and has some great healing properties. (This is my oil of choice for various home made skin care products)
  • Grapeseed Oil- This one is great for oily or combination skin. A powerful antioxidant--fantastic for removing toxins
  • Avocado Oil- Great for sensitive, dry, and/or mature skin. VERY moisturizing. This one is also antibacterial and is great for treating/preventing wrinkles, as it can stimulate production of collagen
There are several oils to choose from--do some homework and find one that you think will work best for you! The most important thing to keep in mind is that you get out of something what you put into it. You want to find a good quality oil, whichever your choice. The olive oil I use is organic, cold-pressed, and extra virgin. I love it.

   - A bottle to keep your mixture in
   - Essential oils

Now, when you're first starting to figure all of this out, you'll want to try different oils/ratios in small amounts until you find what works best for your skin. Here are a few things to help get you started:

  • For oily or acne-prone skin, use 2 parts castor oil to 1 part carrier
  • For normal/combination skin, use 1 part castor oil to 1 part carrier (this is what I use)
  • For dry skin, use 1 part castor oil to 2 parts carrier
Play around with it. If your skin is coming out a little dry, use less castor oil and more carrier. If your skin is coming out oily, use more castor and less carrier.

As mentioned above, another option is to use some essential oils. There are SEVERAL options, and each come with their own set of benefits. Some good all-around EOs for skin are Geranium, Lavender, Ylang ylang, Chamomile, and Melaleuca ("Tea Tree"). But seriously--google it. There is so much great information out there! Find one that works for your skin type and issues you deal with (wrinkles, acne, blackheads, large pores, etc.) I use melaleuca and lavender, but in my next batch I think I'll dry some Myrrh and maybe Lemongrass. As always--find some GOOD QUALITY essential oils! Your best bet? doTERRA, in my humble opinion. But that's another post. (Soon, I promise.)

And there you have it! Just know this--I have heard back from many people saying it took a hot minute (some days, some weeks) for their skin to balance out and start looking and feeling fantastic. Remember--your skin is probably used to harsh chemicals, scents, dyes, etc. If you start breaking out when using this method, it is most likely JUNK working its way out of your skin. I didn't have many problems  - I noticed an immediate change in my skin. It was brighter, more supple, and much smoother. After doing this for a few days (by the way--some people choose to do this once a day, others do it a few times a week. Find out what works best for you!) there was a noticeable reduction in the size of the pores on my face. My mom noticed--"Ashley, what have you been doing?! Your skin looks awesome!" ALSO--most people don't need to moisturize after cleaning their face with this method. If you do feel the need to moisturize, I would recommend trying coconut oil. I use it for everything.

Please read the Crunchy Mamma Disclaimer
Other great OCM resources:

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Sharing the love

I'm back in the blog world. Things have been crazy busy the past few months since Eva was born. I'm guessing life is bound to stay that way. HOWEVER--I haven't been completely bloglazy. Today, I'm guest posting over at One Wish Shot... Of Paradise!! Be sure to go check it out - it's an intro to a new series I'm starting about living more simply, naturally, and less toxic. You should take a look around her blog while you're there! She is one smart, funny, inspirational lady with some strong opinions that she's not afraid to share.

I've got some great stuff in store for the blog, so I'll see you back here really soon!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Say What?

Gabe: Mom, I want a waffle.
Me: What do you say?
Gabe: *blank stare*
Me: Can you say 'please'?
Gabe: Yes.
Me: . . .
Gabe: . . . *stare*

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Say What?

Eva: *coo*
Me: Gabe, come here and talk to Eva with me.
Gabe: No.
Me: Why?
Gabe: I don't want to.
Me: That's not very nice. Come talk to your baby sister.
Gabe: Mom, I don't want to.
Me: Okay--why?
Gabe: I scared to talk to Eva.
Eva: *coo*
Me: Why?
Gabe: I just is!
Eva: *coo*
Me: It's not scary--see? It's fun!
[Eva then coughs and spits up at the same time, spraying baby puke all over me. Gabe runs and hides under the table.]
Gabe: Ha! See, I tell you Mommy. Eva scary. (He is "scared" and suppressing laughter at the same time...)