Thursday, March 28, 2013

Our Cloth Diaper Wash Routine.

(Follow-up to my Cloth Diapering Basics post)

Now that people are starting to see we're using cloth diapers, we're getting a lot of questions.  The questions are great, cloth diapering has been a breeze so far and I would love it if we were able to help others go for it, too.  One of the most common questions we get is if we use a diaper service (no) then how we wash them.  Honestly, it's simple.

I do diaper laundry every two days.  I could probably go three days, but every other ensures we've always got plenty.

Our dirty diapers go into a regular, plastic, foot-pedal garbage can with a PUL pail liner in it.  The timing works out so it fills up right about the end of the second day anyway.  I dump the whole thing, liner included, into our washer (GE top loader, nothing fancy) on the largest load setting.  I do a plain rinse (no detergent) in cold water to rinse out the dirty stuff a bit before actually washing them.  [Exclusively breastfed poop can just go right in, it washes away fine.  Once Myra starts solid foods, we'll spray off the poo into the toilet with a diaper sprayer, otherwise everything will be the same.]  After the cold rinse, I start a heavy wash cycle with hot water.  Once it fills up, I add Tide Original powder detergent, unscented (I use an Oxy Clean scooper full, to the line, I think it's 2 TBSPs).  There are a lot of "cloth diaper safe" detergents out there, but many people have good luck with Tide, too.  We went with Tide to start and figured we'd change if Myra showed any sensitivity to it.  So far, so good.  I did win a give-away for Nellie's All Natural laundry soda, so maybe we'll give that a try, but the Tide seems to be just fine.  Anyway, after that full cycle, I run another cold rinse to make sure all the detergent is rinsed out.  Anything with PUL gets line dried (pocket shells, liners, wetbags, diaper covers) and all the inserts/prefolds/wipes get dried in the dryer.  Some people dry everything in the dryer, but I usually do diaper laundry at night and everything is dry by morning. 

You really don't need much detergent to get them clean, and too much detergent will lead to build up which can cause the diapers to repel and/or irritate baby's skin.  Some babies are more sensitive and different water types (hard, soft) and washers (top/front loader, HE or not, etc.) can play a factor so there may be a learning curve to what works best in your situation.  Never use fabric softener or any other additives.  Actually, it's best if you don't use that stuff at all because I hear in can build up in your washer/dryer and affect the diapers.  We use Tide for our diapers and Arm & Hammer for everything else.  If there is a build up issue or if baby has yeast, there are ways to deal with that (stripping the diapers, using bleach or vinegar).  I have never done those things, so I would refer you to Googling/forums/asking someone who knows what they're doing if that's an issue.

What about stains? Yes, sometimes the diapers stain.  First, we all know things can be perfectly clean, but still stained, so you can just deal with it.  But, if that's not good enough and/or you're selling the diapers (yep, you can make your money back!), all you need to get the stains out is a little sun!  I just wash the diapers like usual and hang anything stained out in the sun so the stains will actually get hit with direct sunlight, of course.  After a day in the sun, they're bright white again!  Occasionally, if the sun doesn't hit a certain spot or if the stains were really bad, one may need to do this again, but they do come out, I promise, even if they've been washed a bunch since they were originally stained.  This also works with pit stains, dingy dish cloths, old socks, etc.  And it works in the winter, too!  I live in Minnesota and have put clothes/diapers outside when it's pretty darn cold, I just throw them in the dryer for a bit once the sunlight goes away to get them fully dry.  It actually might even work better in the winter since there are no leaves on the trees to block the sunlight.  If you don't have a clothesline, like me, you can put them on a drying rack outside.  If you don't have a place you can do that, you can sun them through a window (window in your home or even your car!).


Hopefully that answers some questions! If not, feel free to ask!


Cloth Diapering Basics.

We've had a lot of people ask about our cloth diapers and we probably never would have done it if it weren't for me seeing these posts on another blog, so I decided to pay it forward.  I am certainly not an expert, but here's the simple, basic stuff I figured out when doing all my research.  There are a lot of different types of cloth diapers these days and you can either save a little or a lot (or nothing if you go overboard, it's possible).  I have read that, unless you go overboard, cloth diapering families save a minimum of $1,000 on diapers alone when used for one child.  You can more than double that if you reuse them for a second child.  That's including water/energy costs and not including using cloth wipes (more on that below, but it just makes sense if you're using cloth diapers).

First, any diaper needs two parts: an absorbent part and a waterproof part.  Some diapers have both, others require two pieces (remember hearing about the older style cloth diapers that required plastic pants? It's gotten much better.)

Flats are probably the simplest, cheapest way to go.  They are literally the big, flat square of fabric that you need to fold up (there are many ways to fold these based on needs and preference).  These are only the absorbent part, so you would need a cover (patience, I'll explain, just keep reading).  Once folded up, you need to keep it in place.  Some people still use pins, but there are much easier ways to do it now.  From what I've seen, the most common is by using a Snappi (I have a photo in the next section), much easier.  Flats get folded differently for different sized babies, but you can use them on all different sizes of babies, another thing that makes them cost effective.  Flats, like all of the absorbent parts of diapers, can come in a variety of materials based on preference and amount of absorbency.  Some common materials are cotton, bamboo, and hemp.  I have no pictures of these, but I have the itch to try them, so I'll update if I do.  These can also be folded up and used as inserts in pocket diapers (again, keep reading). 

Prefolds are kind of like flats, but pre-folded, get it?  These are what you often see parents using as burp cloths-divided into thirds with the thicker part in the middle.  There are some different folds you can do to help prevent leaks, poop especially, then fasten it.  Like I said above, you can use pins, but something like a Snappi (see photo) is much easier.  It's stretchy and has little hooks like you would use to fasten an Ace bandage.  We can even get them on no problem when we're exhausted in the middle of the night and it's dark!  Prefolds, like flats, come in a variety of materials, but some form of cotton is probably the most common.  These are only the absorbent part, waterproof part still needed.  Although these do require different sizes, they are still a very cost effective way to cloth diaper.  We have some prefolds in all sizes, but used these exclusively when Myra was a newborn.  They go through so many diapers during that stage, it made the most sense to us.  And those tiny prefolds work great as inserts in her pocket diapers now.
 Prefold diaper fastened with a Snappi.

Fitteds are like prefolds or flats, but saving a step (no folding at all).  They more closely resemble a disposable diaper in that there's no folding or separate fasteners involved.  They are shaped like a diaper and have the fastener (snaps or aplix, which is velcro-did you know velcro is a name brand?!) on the diaper itself.  This is when diapers start to get cute.  Even though you usually cover them up with the waterproof part, there are still some very cute fitted diapers out there.  With any of these, you don't need to cover them if you're just hanging around the house and going to be changing frequently anyway.  I always have just to be on the safe side, but I've heard of many parents who let their babies hang out at home in fitted diapers without a cover.  Because they have elastic around the legs, they are probably a little safer for big poopy messes.
Fitted diaper with no cover.
Inside of another fitted diaper.
Outside of the same fitted diaper.

Covers go over anything that needs to be waterproof (flats, prefolds, fitteds).  The cool thing is you can reuse these for a few changes, unless they get all poopy which does happen sometimes.  So, you go through a few of the absorbent parts (flats, prefolds, or fitteds) for every one cover.  Covers are most often PUL but can also be made of wool, fleece, or other materials.  Wool and fleece are more breathable and make great night time covers.  Wool can actually hold a lot of liquid without feeling wet, then you just air dry it and use it again.  I haven't gotten into wool too much, but I think you only have to wash and lanolize it once a month or so.  A lot of cloth diapering mamas absolutely love wool.  We have mostly PUL covers and one fleece.  I had a couple wool covers that I never really used, but she's outgrown them anyway.

PUL diaper cover over a prefold.
What's that? That all seems like too much work? Well, honestly it's not.  But if you insist, let's get into the simpler diapers.

Pocket diapers have both the absorbent and the waterproof part and they are what we're mostly using right now.  They look a lot like a disposable, but you wash them.  If you think about it, all the names make sense.  Prefolds are pre-folded diapers.  Fitteds are fitted.  Flats are one big flat diaper that requires folding.  Covers cover all of those things up.  Pockets are no different.  They are a diaper with a pocket.  The shell is PUL on the outside and fleece on the inside (for a "stay dry" feeling for baby).  Then you stuff the absorbent part into the pocket, usually they come with microfiber but there are all kinds of ways to customize them based on need/preference.  This is when diapers really start to get cute, too.

 Outside of a one-size pocket diaper with snaps.
Outside of a one-size pocket diaper with aplix (Velcro).
The aplix/hook-and-loop/Velcro diapers usually have laundry tabs so they don't all stick together when you wash them.
Inside of a one-size pocket diaper with a microfiber insert.
Another example of a one-size cloth diaper.  The snaps going across the front is how you adjust the size to make it last from newborn (or a month or two old, depending on size and brand) until potty training.
The inside of this pocket diaper.  Rumparooz have double gussets to really keep the poop inside.  These are Trevor's favorites, I'll have a whole review post after a few more months of using them all.
This is one way we stuff pocket diapers for night time, the regular microfiber insert and a really absorbent insert that's 4 layers of microfiber.
One can really get pretty creative with stuffing these, which is one of the reasons we love them.  That and they're just so darn easy.  And cute.  I have some awesome 5 layer hemp inserts that are really trim and really absorbent, but they're pretty long so they won't fit in Myra's diapers until we go up a size on the rise.

All-in-Ones are exactly that.  They're a diaper that's everything in one, no pieces to put together at all.  We only have one of these and it's great, but I know there is a whole big world of all-in-ones (and all-in-twos that are pretty darn close to the same thing) out there.

I'm not going to get into hybrids because I don't know much about them.  They're a hybrid of disposable and cloth.  You may have heard of gDiapers, for example.  I just didn't want to leave them out.

Cloth wipes just make sense if you're already doing cloth diaper laundry.  I got a ton of them for pretty cheap from Tender Bottoms on Etsy, but really you can just cut up old t-shirts, flannel sheets, or buy cheap flannel and cut it up.  Nothing fancy.  We just have a spray bottle with water and a tiny bit of Burt's Bee's baby wash in it, but plain water usually works just fine, too.  There are fancier "solutions" you can make if you like with oils and different soaps.  We spray the wipes as we go, piece of cake.  They're great to have on hand for runny noses, spit ups, anything you need to wipe up!

How do you store the dirties?

They all get thrown in this garbage can that has a PUL pail liner, then everything gets washed together.
When out and about and on trips, we have a variety of sizes of wetbags (PUL lined zipper bags).

And that's it!  Pretty simple.  Wondering about the laundry?  Check out the wash routine post.  (The laundry isn't bad at all, I promise!).  I hope that all makes sense and I'm more than happy to answer any questions!  If I think of anything else to add or try something new (flats!!) I will be sure to update and add photos.


Friday, March 22, 2013

24 hours with Our Two-Month-Old.

Myra is two months old today! And that means it's time for another 24 hour post.  You can read the one-month version here. Again, these post aren't necessarily a "typical" day (is there such a thing?), but at least it's a random snapshot into one day at this age.  Crazy how different things are now from a month ago!  This day was a little more relaxed-because we didn't have to leave the house and probably because she's a month older, too.  Sleep is going much better as long as our ducks are in a row (you'll see...).  Some of the tenses (past tense/present tense) may not match, but I'm not going to go through and fix everything.  I typed all of this into my phone as the day went and that's what you get.  This time I tried to get some photos throughout the day, too.

1:03am Myra crying, go get her, change diaper
1:10am nursing, she passes out, I try to burp her but no luck
1:26am put Myra down asleep, she tosses and turns a bit while I sneak out
1:32am me in bed waiting for Myra to stop grunting so I know I'll be able to stay asleep once I go to sleep. You may think I'm nuts for waiting up for that reason, but we have had some wild nights of constantly getting up as soon as we get comfortable back in bed, so it's worth it for me to wait a few minutes until the coast is (more) clear so I can actually relax and fall back asleep.
1:45am not sure I'm in the clear yet but I'm going for it; I'm tired.
2:24am wake up to Myra crying, give her pacifier to see if that helps. Nope, so I try again. It still doesn't help so I pick her up, burp maybe? 
2:36am clearly the problem was that Myra had a big poop coming. I let her get it all out then undo her swaddle and change her giant poo diaper.
2:49am rocking Myra back to sleep even though I probably shouldn't but that poop had to have woken her up pretty well and the sooner she sleeps the sooner I sleep. I should not do these monthly posts-the last time she filled her pants in the middle of the night was for the one month post.
3:04am put Myra down, she wakes up a bit, give pacifier and she falls asleep
3:10am I'm back in bed, no grunting from the nursery this time so hopefully I can get to sleep quickly
4:58am Myra wakes up, I go nurse her.
5:07am burp her
5:12am put her down 
5:15am I'm back in bed, hopefully get some more sleep, talk to Trevor for a minute-he's getting up since his alarm will go off soon.
7:43am I wake up, hear Myra making noise but leave her to entertain herself for now
8:24am we both dozed off, now I'm up listening for Myra again
9:02am I hear Myra, go in to get her, change diaper 
9:14am nurse
9:28am hang out and look around for a bit, get Rowdy breakfast (late!), get my breakfast ready
10:03am pump and eat double oatmeal breakfast while Myra is in bouncy seat
10:21am Myra started to freak out while I was pumping, I tried to comfort her while connected to the pump, didn't work, finally done pumping and get her changed and down for nap
10:28am take care of pump parts and package up milk for donation (I keep some, donate most, still have 300oz in the freezer from when I was on Motrin that can't be donated)
10:38am wash my face and brush my teeth
10:44am go play frisbee with rowdy
11:03am inside, stuff diapers (cloth diaper post coming soon to explain!)
11:21am sit down to relax with iPad, water and pop tarts until Myra wakes up (probably soon?) when I should be in the shower instead 
12:10pm Myra awake, nurse
12:26pm diaper change with a little naked time
12:38pm play time. Myra is getting good at stick-out-your-tongue-copy-cat. We're using as much sign language with her as we can. I just looked up how to sign "sneeze" because she does that a lot. We also use Spanish when we can. It will be fun to see how she picks up on it. We did a little tummy time but she doesn't love it so we just try to do it more frequently and hold her so she isn't always on her back.
1:13pm put Myra down for another nap. She has the hiccups so we'll see how this goes.
1:20pm checked on Myra, she's asleep
1:26pm lunch time for me
2:04pm put laundry away
2:16pm Myra awake, diaper change 
2:27pm nurse
2:42pm trevor gets home earlier than usual for a Thursday, no physics lab today!
2:49pm Myra kind of blah, plays copycat with trevor a little but acting weird
2:52pm big loud poop, that explains the mood
2:55pm done pooping I think, diaper change 
3:05pm Myra dozing off during diaper change so down for another nap
3:30pm I finally decide to shower
4:05pm get the mail. I love getting mail, probably why I'm pretty good at sending it, too. We got a birth announcement from some friends today. Their littlest dude shares a birthday with me, kind of fun seeing my birthday paired with "2013."
4:10pm some quiet time before Myra wakes again (a little more of this than last month, I'll take it!). Trevor is sick so he is resting in our room.
5:34pm Myra is still asleep, but Trevor got up to do some homework. I'm geeking out on my new favorite baby sleep site (Troublesome Tots) and catching up on some blog reading.
6:27pm holy crap-wasted too much time and Myra has been asleep for over 3 hours now. Time to try for a peaceful wake up. (PS I won't beat myself up for the extra down time today-I probably should have taken a nap but didn't so we'll call it a wash.)
 6:39pm that wasn't so bad (even got some adorable yet weirdo wake up faces), diaper change and some naked time
6:47pm we FaceTimed trevor (he was downstairs doing homework) and suckered him into coming up to visit. 
6:56pm nurse
7:18pm done nursing, girl was hungry, time to get bath ready
7:28pm in the tub
7:40pm out of the tub, naked time on a towel on the floor. Girl has about a thousand neck rolls, trying to get them dried out is tricky.
 7:53pm get her pajamas on then swaddled, nurse to top her off while trevor heats up leftovers. I know I said these posts may or may not represent a "typical" day, you get what you get, but I feel the need to point out we rarely eat supper this late. Myra's nap going late and trevor being sick and wanting to rest made for a little bit of an off night.
8:01pm Myra down, still awake, hoping she falls asleep while I eat, trevor has to get back to homework so he can rest up and get better! Again, not quite typical, we usually make it a point to eat supper together.
8:20pm I'm done eating. Myra's room is quiet, other than that beautiful noise machine we've got in there. No news is good news, right?
8:25pm wash my face and brush my teeth 
8:40pm bedtime running around (change from sweats from the day to pajamas for the night haha, take vitamins, fill up glass of water, etc.)
9:05pm in bed putzing on iPad 
9:15pm trevor done with homework woo hoo!
9:35pm sleepy time 
11:26pm Myra awake, diaper change then nurse
11:46pm Myra down to sleep, but I noticed the motor on our 5 day old swing is hardly working so now I'm pissed and hoping that doesn't mean a crappy night ahead of us... It's almost midnight so you all won't get to witness the horror if that's the case ;)

Technically, that's where the 24 hours ends, but I have a couple things to add.  First, you read that correctly, Myra sleeps in her swing.  Most things you read will say that's not safe, but I don't want to hear it.  If you have something to say about that, you are more than welcome to come put my baby to sleep and keep her asleep.  Also, there are some "experts" who say it's just fine and actually very comforting for some babies to sleep that way in the early months.  And, of course, any expert will say that a baby who doesn't sleep and has a crazy mommy who can't get any sleep isn't healthy either, so we go with what works.  We've tried it all, putting her down a little awake (works great in the swing though, by the way), swaddling arms out and in, the Fisher Price Rock & Play, rocking her to sleep then putting her down very slowly, I've even rubbed her head til she's asleep then taken my hand away one finger at a time as to not disrupt her.  For all of these methods, she is awake within 40 minutes every single time. Trevor's mom even came and tried two nights in a row when he was gone for a week.  But in the swing, I can put her down drowsy but awake and she falls asleep and stays asleep until it's time to eat again.  She'll go to sleep about 8pm, up between 12-1, back down quickly, up again about 4-5, back down quickly and wakes up around 8 or 9-easy.  We did get a swing that fully reclines as to prevent her from slumping over and cutting off her airway.  

My second addendum here is the rest of the swing fiasco.  Thank goodness the 24 hours was over or I would have said forget that very quickly.  The swing we got plugs in and has batteries so even if the power goes out, Myra will be able to sleep, but we won't spend our entire savings on batteries.  When I went in at 11:30 to feed her last night, I noticed the swing wasn't swinging nearly as much as it should be and the lights on top were flickering.  Before we bought it, I read reviews and there were quite a few that said the motors died, but I figured people who had something to complain about were more likely to write a review and we hoped for the best and bought it anyway.  So, when I saw this last night I knew it was bad news.  We have only had this thing for five days and it's already happening??? Anyway, like I said above, I tried everything last night and nothing worked-I was either up with her or literally in and out of bed until 4am.  There was a crying meltdown moment in there, too.  I felt so helpless.  The poor girl needed to sleep, so did I, but nothing else was working.  I even tried pushing the swing myself until she fell asleep then slowly stopping, but she woke up every time.  I could get her to sleep easily, but she would not stay asleep without that swing moving.  Finally, I thought, maybe it's the power cord that's broken, so if I unplug it we can let it run on batteries for the night.  I unplugged it and there was no change at all, lights still flickering, swing still barely moving.  So, I thought it must not have been running on the power cord in the first place, but rather using batteries all along and they're dying.  There was a shred of hope, so I woke Trevor up to help me figure it out.  I meant for him to help me figure out the power cord, but he went right to changing the batteries (good move after all).  We had a toy with 4 D batteries, so I got that for him to put in the swing while I pushed it to keep her sleeping.  TA-DA!!!!  (Side note: ALWAYS know what kind of batteries your kid crap has and ALWAYS have more on hand, we've learned that lesson twice in the last week)  So, by about 5am we had everything figured out and we were all sleeping peacefully.  Myra slept until about 9:30 this morning and is probably a little screwed up today from not sleeping so great last night, but we all survived.  I looked at the swing instructions today and it turns out we had it plugged in wrong.  There are three cords coming out of it and we had the power cord plugged into one of them and didn't think much about the other two.  If we had read the instructions we would know that we had the power cord plugged into the wrong spot and the other two left needed to be plugged into each other (ridiculous, I know).  So, our swing is fully functional and we're back in the sleep business!

High five if you actually read all that and are still awake...I hardly am ;)

PS - Now that this sleeping situation is under control, I really think I might be able to get back on track with blogging!  

Monday, March 4, 2013

Sweet Dreams.

I'm not sure this is blog worthy, but I've been a slacker lately so this is what you get.

3am, girl is fed and changed and should be sleeping. She's really very good and will likely be asleep soon, but in the mean time look at this face. I can't be mad that she's keeping me up!

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