Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Squirmy Mom's Guide to Cloth Diapers

This is a post about my (and Whit's, arguably) adventures into the world of cloth diapers. Cloth Diaper Land can sometimes seem like a mystical place where women don't shave their legs and babies smell like hemp, but I assure you it's much more accepting, caring, and (let's face it) stylish than your wildest dreams.

I didn't make the plunge into Cloth Diaper Land until Whit was around 4 months old. See, I believe in doing good to your neighbor and environment, and that the world and people were created lovingly and perfectly in our natural state (for the most part)  but the possibility of poop touching me... Gross. Honestly- I might be the most squirmish person you could ever meet!

So it wasn't until a friend of mine casually mentioned that her daughter (3 weeks younger than Whit) was in cloth diapers and how much she loved it (her opinion after two older kids who wore disposables) that I considered it hard-core. Things just seem different when you know someone who can personally vouch for it, you know? Two months later I believe in cloth diapering like I believe in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints: It just makes sense. Why waste $1000s on disposable diapers (for each kid!) when cloth is reusable? Why add hundreds of pounds of non biodegradable waste to the already overfilling landfills when cloth is so sustainable? Why wait for you baby to have "blow out" poops that threaten to ruin his (and your) clothes when cloth diapers contain any mess? Why subject your baby to rough paper on their most sensitive area when cloth diapers are so much better for their skin? And the real kicker: Why buy extra clothing to cover up your baby's disposable diaper when cloth diapers are so darn cute?!?!?!

Seriously, though, the thing that sold me on trying cloth diapers and then fully switching over was the argument that they are better for my baby. Whit has sensitive skin (I think he has eczema, but it hasn't been diagnosed) and acted in torture when wearing a disposable diaper. I was willing to try anything to give him more comfort and save me from changing diapers all day long! These were the answer. Whit never cries from a wet diaper anymore- he actually loves changing time! I can tell he likes wearing his cloth diapers, so it's worth whatever squirmies I have to overcome to make him feel better. Because let's face it- wouldn't you do anything for your child? Plus I'm saving money and he looks simply fabulous in the meantime :)

See what I mean? It just makes sense.

So, after lots of research, many kinds of diapers purchased, and two months of experimenting, here is what I've come up with:

***Cloth Diaper Reviews***

*Very trim, so it's great to fold up for carrying around
*Soft inner trim
*Vinyl outside so there are no leaks
*Super cute designs! 
*Buttons on the front can help you size it for smaller babies
*Has a pocket opening in the back for an extra insert if you'd like

*One-time use, since the top lining layer always gets wet/ dirty (so I put a thin insert on the top of the lining instead of inside the pocket to increase the use.)
*Buttons across the belly can be hard to snap if you have a squirmy baby, and aren't as easy to get perfectly fitted. 

BOTTOM LINE: I love this diaper! I love that it is thinner than most other diapers and I have the choice of if and where to add an additional liner to increase it's use. It's not my favorite, though, because of the snap closures. I find those irritating, unfortunately :( Bumkins makes this design with a velcro closure I haven't tried, but those might just be the answer!

Rearz Smitten Tongue-Style Diaper

*The entire diaper is made out of terry cloth, so it is very soft on baby's skin
*One-piece, doesn't require any extra liners
*Material around leg gussets flares out, which looks cute hanging out of a onesie bottom :) 
*Velcro closure is easy to pull snugly 

*There is no plastic or vinyl material, so if you baby is a heavy wetter or wears this for too long it soaks through. 
*Limited designs

BOTTOM LINE: This is the diaper I use when I know I'll be doing a load of wash soon because it will be dirty and wet in no time, and I don't want a wet rag (basically) lying around. You could add a cover over the diaper, but boy... I am not doing that much work! Which is too bad, since I love the way it feels! But when you're taking an additional step to cloth diaper anyway, you don't want one that will turn into a wet towel in no time. 

Rearz Couture Cover

*Plastic, so no leakage
*Velcro closure is easy to pull snugly 
*Double leg gussets make sure the leg opening is tight

*Everything else. It is just a piece of plastic, so you have to add a liner, close it tightly, and pray the liner stays in place!
*Doesn't fit well

BOTTOM LINE: I never use this diaper. I hate it. If it fits better when Whit gains a few pounds I may take to it more, but now... NO THANK YOU!

*Plastic, so no leakage
*Fun designs
*Slim for traveling
*Double leg gussets make sure leg opening is tight

*Button closure makes a tight fit difficult, and takes longer to put on baby
*Have to add a liner, and it may move around with baby
*It doesn't actually leak, but the PUL fabric feels moist after getting wet. 

BOTTOM LINE: This is the one I keep in our diaper bag. I almost never have to change Whit away from home, so if a diaper is going to get the least use I'm glad it's this one! I'm always carrying extra pre-fold liners, anyway, so this slim cover is perfect to not take up any undue space. Needless to say, I avoid it when I can because I don't like that the liners can move around. But, hey, it is called a COVER, not a diaper, for a reason! I should have known. 

*Has a snap-in plastic liner which cradles the cloth insert in place
*Plastic liner can be cleaned or replaced if poops soils it
*Cotton outside is soft, and colors stay bold after washing
*Has velcro closures that are easy to pull snugly 
*Available at Babies R Us, in case you don't want to wait for diapers to arrive in the mail and don't have a cloth diapering store nearby. 

*The plastic liner loses it shape slightly after repeated washing, so the Little G Cloth Inserts don't fit very well and end up sliding around, leaving the diaper exposed to soiling. 
*This is the only cloth diaper that has shown some wear after repeated washings- there is more velcro on the inside to close tabs so they don't stick on other cloth (all these diapers have that extra velcro), but they somehow come undone and end up sticking to the cloth. Mine all have spots were the velcro has stuck and been pulled off, which looks cheap. 
*Velcro around the back, not from back to front. They are the only we use designed that way, so I always get confused about which side is front or back!
*Only come in solid colors. They are good colors, but I love patterns!
*Leg openings are somewhat large. Whit has never leaked, but they don't feel tight. 
*Expensive, in my opinion.

BOTTOM LINE: These are great. I love that they have the plastic liner so cloth inserts can come in and out if Whit is only wetting his diapers. I wish the plastic liner was tighter, though, so the insert couldn't move around. I have to be careful which liners I use- I only use tri-folds that I fold into thirds, then down a third, to fit inside because the folding adds bulk. The Little G cloth liners are too thin to fill out the plastic insert. And I hate that they velcro across the back! I can feel the velcro un-stick when I hug or play with Whit sometimes, because it closes around the part of his waist that gets the most action. 

*Velcro closure so they fit snugly
*Attached plastic liner to make it re-usable; just switch the dirty inserts! Plus, the plastic liner keeps it's shape really well. 
*ADORABLE patterns!
*Vinyl outside keeps it leak-free
*Smallish leg openings fit smaller babies perfectly (may still fit larger babies, but I have a smaller baby and this one is perfect!)

*Come in S, M, and L sizes instead of one-size-fits-all. I'm bummed that I'll have to reinvest in another pair when Whit grows out of his M! 
*Velcro closure has started to flare up a little bit after repeated washings

BOTTOM LINE: This is my favorite diaper! I have literally used this diaper for days on end (when poor Whit gets constipated or his poop doesn't land on the plastic liner) just by switching out the liner because I love it so much. I have to force myself to put it in the hamper :( I love that I can switch out the inserts, the plastic liner has stayed nice and tight so any size insert fits well, the leg openings have great elastic so there is no leakage, and  I LOVE HOW IT LOOKS!!!!! I wish this brand were easier to find, though :( I only have one and I wish I had 5!

*Tongue-style, so it's all one piece. No messing with an extra insert.
*Very soft material!
*Water-resistant outside
*Button closures on the front let you snap down to make it smaller, but they still have velcro across the belly to pull it snugly. Best of both worlds for a perfect fit!
*Amazing designs. So cute! 

*One-time use
*The lining material is bamboo, which is very soft and probably great, but it's hard on Whit's (and other babies with sensitive skin) skin. If he wears this one too long his skin gets red and bumpy. 
*Bulky, since it's a tongue-style. Fine for home use, but not to carry around (unless you're the type with a huge diaper bag. I'm not.)

BOTTOM LINE: I really, really like these diapers. They fit perfectly, are really well made, have soft yet water-resistant outside... they really are a great diaper! The reason they aren't my favorite is because it's a one-time-use, and because Whit has a sensitivity to the fabric. Darn! But, since they are SOOOO CUTE (I have the red and London  print, which is my favorite) this is the one I put him in when I know other people will see him in cloth diapers :) Yes, I admit, I like to show off once in a while! 

Cloth Insert Guide

Gerber Pre-Folds
These are the standard in our house! I love keeping these around. I prefer the tri-fold to the plain version. The sides tuck around the middle for the perfect width to put inside a diaper. They are a little long when folded, though, so the top third (more or less, depending on how much space the plastic liner has) gets folded down and the whole thing goes inside the plastic liner, folds down. 

***There is a big difference between the package you find at Wal-Mart and Target!***
The exact same package of 10 pre-fold birdseye clothe diapers from Gerber is very different quality between stores. The Target version has a higher thread count so it is a little thicker and softer. The Wal-Mart ones have visible gaps between threading in the cloth, so they aren't as absorbent or soft. Take it from me, they are worth the extra $3! 

Little G Cloth Inserts

We got these to fit the Little G Pants, which I hate using them with (ironically.) They are multi-layer with a soft side which wicks away moisture and a rougher side to lock moisture in. The soft side goes against baby's skin. It is a great length (unlike the Gerber pre-folds that have to be folded in and then down to fit inside a diaper), but very thin. The problem with the thickness is that they don't fill in the plastic liners on Little G Pants! I only really use these as a thin barrier layer in the other cloth diapers, never for the ones with plastic liners, because it wrinkles towards the center as baby moves, leaving the sides exposed to messes. Darn. But it is nice to have these thin ones on hand to line the Bummis since the bamboo material irritates Whit, or to go on top of the Bumkins instead of inside them to make the diaper last longer.

Most cloth diapers (except all-in-ones) come with their own inserts. They typically work great, so don't be afraid to use them!

***I love having so many cloth inserts around! I have found tons of uses for them including diapering, washcloth, kleenex, pot holder, etc.*** 

How a squirmy mom changes cloth diapers:

The question I get most often from friends is "What do you do with poopy diapers?" And it's a good question, because I am so squirmy! We actually avoided the messy, runny baby poop stage by waiting until Whit was on solid foods at 4 months to transition to cloth diapers. At that point his poop was much thicker (sometimes hard or clay-like), so it was easier to take care of. In the best circumstances I can just flip the diaper and a ball of poop falls right of into the toilet. A lesser-best circumstance is being able to rub thick poop off with some toilet paper (without touching it, of course.) When he has runny poop I just throw the whole thing in the washer without a second thought! I always add a little splash of bleach to the wash, though, so no fecal matter remains on the diapers. I have never had poop remain on any diapers that come out of the wash!

We do have a pack of gCloth Liners, which are dryer sheet looking papers that can lay on top of the cloth diaper. They are flushable, so if Whit has one over his diaper we could just take the paper off the diaper and throw it right in the toilet. We don't use them, though. I think the idea is great and really helpful for squirmy people, but Whit only poops every two days or so, so I'd rather not put the paper in every diaper when he would hardly need it! One of the reasons I switched to cloth diapers was so Whit would be more comfortable in something softer than disposable paper, so I don't want him in these all the time. Oh, well. 

When changing wet diapers I usually pop a back corner of the insert out of the diaper cover and hold that to pull it out, since the back corner usually stays dry. Then they go immediately into the washing machine! 

The downside to using cloth diapers
When Ben reads this I know his reaction will be, "You're admitting to the world that cloth diapers are anything but amazing?!?!" and the truth is, yes. I am. Because cloth diapering isn't for everyone, so I want to help you make an informed decision! 

1. You can't deny that there is more work involved when changing diapers. You have to have liners and covers (unless you only use all-in-ones), instead of just diapers, which adds bulk to a carrying bag or diaper station. 

2. You have to prepare each diaper  (even the tongue-style all-in-ones require you to fold the tongue inside an opening.). I do this as soon as they come out of the washer and dryer, but that only lasts for it's first use. This may be a downside if your baby immediately wets himself when he's diaper-free. 

3. You carry around dirty diapers when he needs a diaper change in public

4. Keeping track of which diapers you like/dislike or serve which purpose (I have specific diapers just for night time, for example.)

5. They have to be washed! I do a load of only diapers about twice a week. I don't consider that a huge deal, but it is a factor. 

6. You might get dirty (but that shouldn't really count since you would probably get poopy a lot more often when using disposables. I know I did!)

All of that being said, I still choose cloth diapers hands-down for all of the positives listed earlier. And I'm a no-fuss-down-to-business-volunteering-work-at-home-mom  with a full-time-working-MBA-night-school-studying husband who doesn't really have time for unnecessary hassle.

To be honest, I like the "hassle". Going through this sort of extra effort makes me feel like a good mommy. Being a mom is tough- there are a lot of hurdles that can wear you down and tear at your self-esteem. I may wonder if I'm always doing what's best for my baby, but when I go through the effort to wash, prepare, and put a cloth diaper on him (especially when I'm tired or feeling lazy, AKA "selfish") I know that I am at least doing one thing purely for his benefit. It just feels good to put the extra effort into him, you know? 

Where to buy cloth diapers

There are a lot of resources out there for cloth diapers! I bought my first set, Little G Pants, on impulse from Babies R Us. I don't suggest doing that, though, because they have such a limited selection! Do some research into how you want to cloth diaper, then go dig for deals on the brands that you think will fit your needs :) Personally, I choose Amazon. We have free 2-day shipping, and I get so excited about new diapers that I want them as soon as possible! The prices are really comparable to other websites I've researched, so I always choose Amazon because of the quick shipping. 

***Get a subscription to ecobabybuys.com, though!***

 They offer a deal a day on ecological baby products, and often have deals on cloth diapers and covers. I have used that website to get great deals on new brands when I don't want to shell out the full amount somewhere else, since I never know what style Whit will respond to. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Whit is 6 months old!

Has it really been an entire month without a blog update? Wow... My bad : / But it's not for lack of subjects- the past month we have encountered many milestones, in fact! Isn't it ironic that the times with so much activity are the ones too busy to chronicle? (I believe that was in the original version of the song.)

When Whit turned 3 months old I heard from adoring strangers and friends alike that 3-6 months is their favorite stage of babyhood. Well, Whit is now 6 months. So... game over????

Nah... He just gets better and better!

*This is a long post, but it's my way of keeping track of all of his important moments to
 remember in the future so don't feel like you have to read it :) *

Whit @ 6 months!
15 lbs. 3 oz, 18%
27" long, 73%
  • Whit went on his first plane ride! We visited my sister and her family for 12 days over Christmas and New Years. We were worried that he would be the only baby on the plane and noisy, but we were mistaken. On the flight to UT adults without young children were the major minority! Thankfully, Whit did really well! He had some cranky times, but wasn't ever the loudest baby :) 
  • Has started to sit up on his own! He has been crying to stand up for months now, so I was afraid he would skip sitting up and crawling all together. I really want him to master those skills, though, so we have been spending as much of his awake time as possible getting him practice on his belly and sitting. We can sit him up and leave him unattended for almost a full minute now! 

  • Doesn't mind tummy time as much, thanks to all of our recent practice. He just doesn't care about going anywhere! He'd rather just watch and interact vocally with us. I put toys out of the way, crawl in front of him, and NOTHING. He has started to show interest in inching forward, but we only let him play on areas around the house with baby blankets down so he gets distracted and just starts pulling up the blankets instead of actually getting anywhere :) His focus is pretty cute... 
  • Has become quite the little manipulator! I read that babies don't know how to manipulate until around 6 months, so it's something I've been on the watch for. I do NOT want a spoiled child! Despite my best efforts to show him extreme love and care while still giving him boundaries and teach consequences, he knows how to get the attention he wants! This is most evident at night. Sometimes he fights sleep and will cry for a long time after being put to bed, and Ben and I watch him from a camera over his crib to discern when we should let him cry, or when we need to go in to him. He has learned that we will, eventually, come into the room so he has started crying then arching himself into a  full C to tilt his head back to be able to see the door and wait for us! He will cry, stop crying to look at the door, start crying again, look again... in a pattern until it has gone on so long that we do end up going in just to try and get him to sleep once and for all. You are so obvious, Whit! 
  • Had his first cold and ear infection :( He showed full-blown cold symptoms a few days after we flew home from UT. He was congested, wheezed, sneezed, and coughed. Oh my poor darling... he was so pathetic! He would look up at me with red, puffy eyes and sneeze then immediately cough. It broke my heart! I called our health care 24hour nurse line twice, went in for two pharmacist consultations to find him OTC pain relief, and took him on a sick visit to our pediatrician. She diagnosed that he also had a very early, mild ear infection. I cried when she gave me that news. I actually cried. Oh. My. Gosh. I am that mom. I just hated the idea that he was in pain but too small to tell me what he needed! At least we got him on antibiotics right away, and I have been caught up enough on work that I can spend all of his awake time tending to his needs so he'll feel better. 
  • Had an evening with his first non-relative babysitter! Ben and I had tickets to see Blue Man Group the night he got his ear infection, and I really debated staying home with him. His babysitter was a single adult from our ward with lots of experience with children, and she insisted that it was no big deal and we should go. This was the first time he'd been left with someone other than his grandmas or my sister while awake, and the first time someone else would put him to bed. I left two pages of notes and texted the whole time we were at the show, but he was great! Woo Hoo!!!! She even said he seemed like a really well-mannered, mild-tempered baby. WHAT??!?! Whit ALWAYS puts on his best behavior for doctors and strangers. I don't know what's with that kid. 

  • Whit cut his first two teeth this month! The first came without much notice, but the second was a  two-week MESS. He woke up every hour at night for so long that we actually took him to an urgent care clinic during our vacation in UT because he was acting so radically different from the first tooth-- we were sure he had an ear infection or something! Nope. $50 for an office visit and baby Tylenol to hear that our son was just getting a tooth. THANKS. I think his chompers are pretty darn adorable, but I sort of miss the wide, muppet-style toothless grins. Now his smiles is more of a slit, or without opening his mouth at all, because he likes to feel his teeth (I get that way after a dental cleaning so I understand.) He also likes to bite! He doesn't bite too often when nursing, but I have had to check for blood a few times! (none.)
  • Is becoming an accomplished eater. He LOVES dinner time. I know he would love additional solid snacks or another meal during the day, but I'm going to wait until his pediatrician gives the OK. For now he gets solid food mixed with cereal and formula at night. He opens his mouth for anything coming towards him! So far he has had bananas, avocado, prunes, peas, green beans, squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, apple sauce, and pumpkin. He has taken every new food really well with the exception of avocado. He's had it four times and still gags and chokes every time, no matter how I prepare or mix it! I'm not giving up. Hear that, Whit? I'M NOT GIVING UP! 
  • Can still wear some 0-3 and all 3-6 month shirts, but has outgrown his 3-6 months sleepers and pants. Tall and skinny, much? One of the first things strangers say when meeting him lately is that he is big, and they guess he's closer to 9 months than 6. He's actually really underweight for his age, thankyouverymuch. (I guess I'm still against him growing up too fast.)
  • Shows a definite preference for some toys over others. His favorites are a Lamaze crinkle butterfly and his Baby Einstein music maker. LOVES THEM. 
  • Is starting to look less like a baby and more like a little boy... a little bit.