Newborn Cloth Diapering 101

So what’s the latest and greatest rage in parenting these days? Well it seems like all the cool moms are in the cloth diaper crew. I should know…I’m one of ’em.

But seriously, cloth diapers do seem to be all the rage right now (see how cool I’m not? I just wrote “all the rage” like MY Mom would do…so NOT cool).

And why shouldn’t they be? There are a million and one diaper brands and a zillion cute patterns and colors to chose from. There are so many options you can find a diaper that not only exactly fits your child (no more one-size-fits-most guess work with disposables) but you can find a brand that fits your lifestyle and color palette (I WISH I was joking about that last part).

I’ve talked before about why we chose to cloth diaper with Cedella, though we were way too scared to start from birth with her. But we weighed the benefits, like the overall cost savings, the environmental impact and the health impact and it just made sense to us to give it a try. And we loved it. Yes, even Michael too. It worked great for us.

And the added bonus? It completely remedied the dreaded poop blow-out.

So we knew that the second Isora was born we knew we’d be covering her booty with some soft fluffy cloth instead of disposables.

And we almost did.

Except that we forget about the god-awful first poops, the meconium. That shit doesn’t come out of anything (pun intended). And that damn umbilical cord stump that needs the special little notch cut out to heal properly.

So we bought one pack of little Huggies Naturals that lasted approximately a day and a half. And another. At which point I put my foot down and ordered some newborn diaper covers with the little notch cut-out for about the same price as two packs of diapers. She’s been in cloth ever since. And has never had a single blowout. It’s lovely.

Here’s what our newborn stash consists of:

24 Kissaluv Fitted in Newborn – size 0 (newborn) (so lovely and soft and easy to use)

3 Prowrap Classic Covers (all velcro) – size newborn (perfect for the first month but she’s already out of them)

3 Prowrap Classic Covers (all velcro) – size small (generously sized and very easy to use)

3 Rumparooz Diaper Covers (2 velcro & 1 snap) – size newborn (Love love love these, and they’re adjustable and will work for a while)

6 Imse Vimse Diaper Covers – size newborn (though I am NOT a big fan of these at all, hence the other covers in the stash)

1 Bum Genuis Pocket Diaper (discontinued style) – size small (it’s alright, but not a favorite)

1 GroBaby All in One (discontinued style) – size small (great diaper but the newer style is better)

1 FuzziBum Elite One Size Diaper (would be a great diaper if stuffing the pocket was easier, it’s such a pain in the ass I don’t use it much)

Totaled up this is 27 diapers, most of which will only work for another month or so. She’s already too big for the Prowrap newborn size covers. The newborn sized fitteds are supposed to last up to 15 lbs. which Zorie will certainly hit within a month or so, since she’s already around 12.5 lbs. At that point she will go right into the GroVia All in 2 system that we use with Ella. Sure they’ll be sharing diapers (cutting down on our stash and increasing our laundry) but those diapers work best for us and are one-sized so they’re fully adjustable per child.

There are a couple of major drawbacks people see when debating whether cloth diapering will work for them. One of which is the laundry factor.

I know most people HATE doing laundry. I don’t happen to hate it, cause once you throw all the stuff in the machine your work is done until you have to switch it to the other machine. My hatred comes in the folding and putting away part. I LOATHE folding clothes. Seriously.

But I have a system that works pretty well. At least that is if I actually get around to pulling them out of the dryer.

I throw all the dirties into the wash (having rinsed off poop into the toilet with the sprayer we’ve installed on our toilet BEFORE putting it in the diaper pail) and throw the machine on a cold soak/rinse cycle. Once that’s done I turn on full whites cycle with hot water and some laundry detergent. Finally it goes for one more (half length) white cycle without any soap as a rinse. When that’s done I hang all the covers to dry and toss all the fitteds and inserts into the dryer on medium for about 90 minutes.

It sounds a lot more complicated than it is. But if I had our old beautiful HE front loader I could do the pre-soak, white cycle and second rinse all in one step. But we have a pretty bare bones top loader at this place. Hence the multiple cycles.

With the amount of diapers we have for both kids I end up doing a load of diapers every two days (or so). So if I washed them Monday night I’ll wash again on Wednesday night or Thursday morning. It’s really not that bad.

The second drawback people think of? The cost. And I will be the first to admit cloth diapers cost a lot up front. At least for the methods we use. We decided to purchase the entire lot of fitteds and Imse Vimse covers used from a friend and paid $200. That’s around $6.70 per diaper/cover. And that’s pretty cheap. Buying them new would cost about double that. But keeping in mind they will be used for four months (approx) and can be used on another child (or sold for what we paid for them), they will definitely cost less than buying disposables.

There’s a great site called Diaperswappers.com that I used when starting with Cedella to buy a bunch of used stuff to try different brands cheaply if you want to go the frugal route like we did.

Or you can go with a different type of diaper, the prefold, which cost $2 each for new ones and can go as low as $1 each for used. This is definitely a more cost-effective option but we didn’t love them and switched Cedella to a different kind as soon as possible. Just too much work for us. But lots of families LOVE them.

And there are tons of great sale sites and online shops that offer discounts. My favorites are Babysteals.com (sales start at 11am but the stuff goes fast so you have to log on early) and Ecobabybuys.com. I’ve bought new diapers on these sites for 40 to 65% off retail.

There are also a ton of great online diaper stores that offer point systems (that allow you to build up credit towards store rewards) and that offer gently used diapers at great prices. My favorite for their point system is The Green Nursery. It’s very straight forward and easy to use and they have great sales. And my favorite used diaper spot (and they have incredibly super duper fast shipping) is Jillian’s Drawers and their customer service reps are ridiculously helpful and sweet.

All told you will spend money up front but not buying diapers every week or two of your kids diapering days? Will save a LOT more in the long run.

In case you’re a visual person and need to see how they work I couldn’t let you go without some fluffy booty cuteness.

Kissaluv Fitted with the notch snapped down to let the cord stump heal.

Without the notch snapped down.

Cutest little Rumparooz Kangaroo patterned cover.

Our little Zorie in her Owl print Rumprooz cover. 

If you’re interested in cloth and want some help getting started by all means email me at aliwayout(at)yahoo(dot)com. Or if you want some hands on time and live in Michigan I highly recommend stopping by Modern Natural Baby in Ferndale. The ladies there are super knowledgeable and they have a million different options to chose from. And there’s Z Bear Diapers just south of Lansing which is moving to a new location in East Lansing this summer, Stephanie and her crew are very helpful and I can’t wait to visit their new store (next to Play. which is kind of dangerous for my wallet).

 

We Co-Sleep…You Got a Problem With That?

My baby slept in my bed and still does on occasion. And according to the fine folks in Milwaukee the fact that she slept in our bed is akin to laying my infant next to a knife. Really?

Wow. This just disgusts me. It’s incredibly misleading. Horribly negligent and all together wrong. Yep. I said it. WRONG. 

Now I completely understand that co-sleeping or more specifically bed-sharing isn’t something every family wants to do. It’s not the norm in our society. We are taught from the second our children are born that they should sleep in their own bed, primarily in their own room. Even hours old this is reinforced in most hospital settings where babies are taken to sleep in the nursery instead of next to their mother.

Most parents I know don’t co-sleep. And that’s cool with me. It’s a choice each family has to make for themselves. For Michael and I the choice to co-sleep was almost a no-brainer. My mom and dad each bed-shared with my baby sister, and it seemed like a perfectly reasonable and normal thing to us.

When I was pregnant with Cedella I read a bit about parenthood. Ok, a LOT about parenthood. I was working at the library at the time, so Research was practically my middle name. I read a little bit from every different side of the parenting spectrum. Baby Whisperer to Ferberizing to the Family Bed when I landed upon the very sensible and approachable The Baby Book by Dr. Sears and the whole concept of co-sleeping.

We had already watched ‘The Business of Being Born’ and had determined that we were going to have a natural child birth. And knew that since I would be staying home I would try to breastfeed for as long as possible. So when it came to determining what kind of parenting we wanted to practice it seemed a natural choice to pick, well, the ‘natural’ choice.

To us it seemed only natural that in order to breastfeed an infant and still try to sleep somewhat regularly that the baby would sleep with us. After doing more research and scouring review sites and attachment parenting message boards we discovered the Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper that’s like a portable crib with one side lowered that attaches to the bed. And even better? It was available at Target so I could even put it on my baby registry. Score!

This worked really really well for us. Primarily because I never actually had to get out of bed to nurse in the middle of the night. But what was also evident from the very first night we shared together as a family in our hospital bed, I knew she needed to be close to me as much at night as in the day.

Think about all the crazy expensive monitors we have available to us now. Why is this such a huge market? There’s video monitors and monitors that transmit video to your smart phone. There’s a monitor that you can place under the mattress that will tell you if your baby hasn’t moved in 20 seconds. Whuck? Why? Because we want all want the same thing. Our babies safe and sound. For me it was just much easier to have her next to me where I could hear her and feel her all night long.

And though the Co-Sleeper was right there, attached to our bed, we often had her sleeping right in the middle of the two of us. Often it was just what she needed, the closeness of both of us, to put her back to sleep. There was never a moment, even sleeping where I didn’t have an innate sense of precisely where she was and that she was ok. Even Michael, a heavy sleeper to say the least, never once rolled onto her, cause even sawing logs in his own melodic way he was still able to sense where she was in the bed. Maybe there’s no science to prove it, but I can damn well attest to the fact that our child slept really well in her co-sleeper and in bed with us. It wasn’t until we moved her to her crib she started having sleep issues.

And that according to the Milwaukee Health Department the bed-sharing aspect of co-sleeping is causing a rapid increase in the infant mortality rate in their city. Really? Yep, that’s what their website says. It also says that this is a condition in the ‘Western world’. Obviously skirting around the issue that in Singapore, the country with the lowest infant mortality rate in the world, nearly 73% of families bed-share/co-sleep with their children. Yet wouldn’t we consider Sweden, a European nation, Western? Sweden is the 3rd lowest in infant mortality and at 63% bed-sharing. (Sorry my librarian’s research instinct kicked in but I refuse to offer footnotes click on the links if you care to see the studies I’m referring to.)

And really this all leads me back to why I’m so incredibly offended and pissed off about this entire ad campaign. We are one of the billions of families around the world that chose to share our room and our bed with our infant, and we intend to do so with Little Nugget when she arrives. Does this mean because we’ve made this choice that we would also place a large knife in bed with our daughters? One cannot equate the gentle nature of co-sleeping/bed-sharing with the brutality and inhumanity of what that butcher knife is capable of. It is not a fair, decent or justified metaphor.

I think of a young mother, or someone who isn’t nearly as nerdy and research-oriented as myself. I imagine that mother, with a nice round belly, sitting on a bus, going to work or to school or on her way to a doctor’s appointment, and seeing that ad (because I dare assume that these ‘ads’ are on bus stops and maybe even a billboard or two cause where else are they going to go?). What would she think of it? Will she see it as a joke? Will it make her feel hurt or angry since her parents co-slept with her? Or more importantly would she automatically rule out any maternal instinct to sleep next to her child?

Fear is an awesome power when you want to control people. And I believe that the whole thinking behind this ad is to ‘scare ’em straight’ in a way. To make primarily young and uneducated mothers scared. And in that fear to make them do the ‘right thing’ to ‘protect’ their child. Admittedly the Health Department draws the connection with the increased amount of breastfeeding to the increased amount of bed-sharing. Isn’t breastfeeding once of the most important ways we can do the right thing and protect and nurture our children? And if bed-sharing increases those benefits, why are they scaring people away from the very notion of it?

It just really upsets me that instead of offering the somewhat helpful, though incredibly narrow-minded and one-sided, information on their website the Milwaukee Health Department is terrifying folks into thinking that co-sleeping is akin to placing a knife next to your child and hoping for the best. Bed sharing may be A factor in the terrible cases of SIDS across the city of Milwaukee but it certainly is not THE factor in SIDS. In fact, SIDS is so widely misunderstood and incomprehensible that how can any group (like the American Pediatrics Association) make such a definitive determination that bed-sharing = certain death?

What do you think? Did you or do you co-sleep or bed-share with your children? Would you consider it? What does this ad make you feel?

Thanks for listening to my rant. I’m now going to eat some ice cream and chill out as I’m obviously a bit worked up on the subject. Happy Tuesday y’all!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Being a Parent: My Guide Book

It happens to each of us when they hand us those squirmy wrinkled little balls of blubber called newborns, we immediately become parents.  There is no class.  There is no manual.  There is only whatever YOU have done to prepare yourself for the nanosecond that your child is handed to you and becomes totally and completely all your problem.

I always wanted to be a mom.  I mean I love kids.  Always loved babysitting and never minded changing diapers.  Watching and playing with kids was always so much more fun than work.  My attitude was very much ‘how hard could it be?’.  Like seeing someone with a hysterical baby in the line at Target.  Something inside my pre-parenting brain always made me look at the offensive child’s parent out of the corner of my eye to see what kind of neglectful idiot would take such an obnoxious child out in public.  That’s right.  I judged.  But in that nanosecond I could no longer cast that sideways glance…cause it was bound to happen to me someday.  As much as I always wanted to be a part of the club there was no way of ever knowing just how difficult it was going to be.
So I went back into my archives to figure out just what (if anything) I had learned over the past 12 months, hoping to impart on you faithful readers some of my Mama wisdom.  P.S. If you click on the ‘titles’ they will take you back to past blog posts of mine.  
Month One – Sleep is for P@#$ies – That’s right.  Who needs to sleep?  Those first few days home are like the first few days of a love affair.  You’re so cuckoo crazy about this new little person that you can’t bear to be apart from them for a second, let alone close your eyes, for fear of missing some precious moment between the two of you.  And then, the oxytocin wears off and you’re just frakking exhausted.  At this point ‘They’ tell you to sleep when your baby sleeps.  To take it easy, leave the house disgusting and don’t worry about showering.  ‘They’ are stupid.  There’ll be plenty of time to sleep when you kids go off to college.  Do ‘They’ care that they don’t have any clean underwear?  Do ‘They’ think the dishes are going to wash themselves?  Maybe ‘They’ have a Rosie the Robot like the Jetsons to do all their work for them?  I think ‘They’ need to grow a pair…or maybe ‘They’ have kick ass MIL’s.
At least someone was sleeping
Month Two – Breastfed Babies Should be Fed BEFORE Going into Public.  This is a practical issue that Mamas with formula-fed babies don’t even remotely have to consider.  They whip a bottle out of their diaper bag and BAM! Instant calm.  However a Baby on the Boob needs to have a full stomach before you attempt any manner of errands big or small.  Their little baby stomachs are only the size of their fist.  They need to be fed constantly.  So you better have a pretty tight grocery list together too.  The days of lingering in the International Food aisle and browsing soup labels for the least amount of sodium are over.  This lesson was learned the hard way.  Literally whipping out the boob in the shoe department at Meijer.  It could have been worse though, at least there’s a bench in the shoe department.  And when I got home I STILL didn’t have everything we needed for the week.  Probably forget something essential like toilet paper. It does get better and eventually you can go out for longer and their little tummies can hold more, but really, always wear something that always you to easily access the Boob.  I’m still wearing nursing bras…
I will be pissed if I don’t eat soon…
Month Three – Cloth Diapers Rule.  No, really, they do.  You’re already doing laundry.  What’s one more load every other day or so?  And there are so many options in the cloth diapering world I’m still trying to figure out why in the world anyone uses disposables.  Oh, wait, right, cause of the billions of dollars in marketing that the diaper industry spends every year to get us to use these obscenely expensive little earth destroyers.  But I digress.  The cloth diaper world is pretty damn addictive.  They’re constantly adding new patterns and colors and technology.  And yes, it’s a piece of fabric that covers your child’s ass and collects their waste, but they can be sooooo damn cute.  And you know what, even with my slight obsession with fluffy butt covers, I have spent less total than I would have spent in 6 months last year.  And I’m done.  I don’t need any more diapers for Cedella and hopefully can use her first ones for Baby #2.  How cool is that?  Imagine what you could do with all that extra diaper money…  
GroBaby & Sofie what a crunchy combo
Month Four – Always Wear Stretchy Pants on the Train or else you face a big old disaster when you try to pull up your pants while holding your infant in a moving vehicle.  This one would have been really helpful to know before getting on the train with Cedella by myself.  But now you can apply this to your own travel adventures.  Other helpful travel tips?  Check out how to install you car seat in a cab on Youtube before you go.  Get a map of whatever public transport you’re going to be using and make sure you locate all the handicap entrances and exits, otherwise you’ll be carrying your child, diaper bag and giant stroller up and down several flights of stairs.  Don’t plan on visiting the zoo when it looks like it’s going to rain.  Protest marches can be a fantastic learning opportunity.  But really, the most important tip?  Don’t schedule too much, relax and have fun.       
Taking some time to just relax in Chicago
Month Five – The Bathroom is no longer Your Sanctuary.  It’s sad but true.  What used to be a lovely place to go and get some quality reading done or grab a quick game or two of Jeopardy on your iPhone, has now become the room you spend the least amount of time in.  There is no loitering allowed.  Hurry up and do your business cause if you’re in there too long someone WILL interrupt you.  And well, that just sucks.  There is no privacy here and poop is now a regular topic of discussion between you and your husband.  Whuck?!  That’s right.  Sexiness and mystery have left the building and have been replaced by flatulence and a constant need to say “TMI”.  

Month Six – Camping with a Baby can be Fun.  And if you plan it right, you know, like weekend full of thunderstorms, your child may sleep through the night for once.  We thought our tent was going to float away and/or be struck by lightning, and Cedella slept through the whole damn thing.  Could have been all the fresh air or having a busy day full of new experiences.   Maybe she just really digs storms.  As long as you come prepared to keep the baby occupied and safe and again, not do too much, then your camping trip can be pretty damn cool.  Really it’s never too early to get your kids into nature, right?
All the fresh lake air makes me sleepy…
Month Seven – Martha Stewart can Suck It Cause Nobody’s House is THAT Clean.   Really…this probably doesn’t need much more explanation than that.  Your baby is only your baby for such a brief time.  Are you going to remember how little dust were on your bookshelves or are you gonna remember the first time you took your baby to the beach?  What’s it gonna be?  I’d rather have a messy (not disgusting but messy) house and tons of great memories of spending time with my kids.  All that time cleaning you could be spending teaching your child to love the outdoors, develop their imagination or just be silly and dance to the Beastie Boys for a little while. 
Making memories at Lake Huron
Month Eight – Your Child is the Cutest Child in the Entire World and no one can ever take that away from you.  Also, you take much better pictures than the weirdos at Sears that charge you a pint of blood for each half decent shot.  A baby is going to be way more comfortable and smiley with you than with a stranger in a strange place.  So while I’ve seen some beautiful baby and family pics done by real photographers (that I’m sure cost more like a liter of blood per excellent shot) the best photos of your child are the ones you take when you’re just enjoying each other and not forcing something to occur that just isn’t gonna happen.  

Month Nine – Your Birthday and all Subsequent Holidays are No Longer About You and that’s ok.  Cause it’s your baby’s first everything and it’s your 32 time around this track.  Besides, who wants to have a party when you’re turning 30-something?  That’s not worth celebrating.  You know what is?  The first time your daughter has a donut.  Now that is milestone.  32…not so much.  And don’t worry that your family people don’t notice you or say hello when you come into the house.  She’s kind of a big deal.  Just think of it like being the mother of Lindsey Lohan Brittany Spears Miley Cyrus Selena Gomez (she’s still a virgin right?).  Cedella is a super star.  Glad I learned this already, to save myself years of embarrassing myself trying to steal her spotlight (a la Mrs. Lohan, Spears & Cyrus). 
  
Mmmmmm…Donuts.
Month Ten – Mamas Need Friends Too.  Life as a SAHM in a new city is lonely.  You need need need need NEED to have people (preferably women) to talk to.  You need someone to connect with, to commiserate with, to suffer and triumph with.  I can’t even remotely believe it took this many months in the trenches before finding someone to hang with.  Just because you’re a Mama doesn’t mean you have to stay locked up in the house and never have a social life again. I am so thankful and happy to have met Leslie and her beautiful baby Anna.  I can’t imagine how crazy, fat and bored I would be without them!       
Month Eleven – Christmas Morning is for Starting Traditions.  Those things we do each and every holiday, whether it is the food we eat, the activities we do or who we spend our time with, had to start somewhere.  Those traditions started with your grandparents, your parents or your besties choosing to make something their own.  We’ve taken from these things to make our own Christmas.  Cutting down our tree, decorating it while listening to Ella Fitzgerald’s Christmas album, making Breakfast pizza and opening gifts in our jammies.  These are our new/old traditions.  The ones that we hope to continue for many many years to come.  Adding more traditions as we add more children, as they grow older, as we move through this life.  These are the little things that make our family Our Family.  
Christmas Morning Pajama Family
Month Twelve – Parenting is a Constant Work in Progress.  If I’ve learned anything, I’ve learned this.  You are always changing, you are always growing, you are always having to readjust and relearn.  The trick of being a parent?  Being fluid…going with the flow.  And more important than anything else, take the time to step back and breathe it all in cause if ‘They’ are right about one thing (and that’s all I’ll give ‘Them’) it’s that time does indeed fly.