Archive for June, 2009

Potty Training

June 7, 2009

A lot of babies go straight from diapers to underwear with no middle step. However, some toddlers do need training pants….

At the time of this writing, my older child is daytime potty trained. At night, she wears Toddler-ease diapers with extra-large Dappi nylon pull-on pants. This system is bulky and takes a long time to dry, but it’s quite absorbent, never leaks, and she can pull it up and down by herself.

We had no idea what we were doing while potty training, so you probably don’t want to emulate our process, but here it goes. Our child had been home with Mommy or Grandma all summer and had gotten the hang of using the potty if she was bare-bottomed, but was nowhere near being able to handle underwear. Then she started daycare part-day, five days a week. I didn’t want the daycare to have to deal with a separate diaper and cover system, and they had a rule that training pants had to open at the sides for easy changing. I reasoned that side-snapping pockets or all-in-ones would fit the bill. Unfortunately, pocket diapers with cotton liners are expensive and hard to find, and internal soaker all-in-ones take a very long time to dry. My mother helped me find and pay for some of the pockets, but the snaps kept coming unsnapped and they were too trim to hold the amount of stuffing I wanted.

Fortunately, it only took about three weeks of being around other kids who were using the potty for ours to get the hang of it and start wearing underwear. So we only had to wing it for a short time. With our second child, I will either go with Mother-ease all-in-ones and just put up with the long drying time, or I will try the new Starbunz Super Undies I have seen advertised. Again, this was pretty much all for the daycare’s benefit, but they were very helpful in training her, so I don’t mind indulging them!

Special Situations

June 7, 2009

Newborn Diapering

Newborns are tricky to diaper because they are born very small and grow very fast. Plus, they start out so fragile, that for first-time parents in particular it’s easy to be intimidated by diapering. So, there are no easy answers. I think it’s worth the money to have newborn fitteds. We loved Kissaluvs 0 on both of our babies. They have high resale value, which eases the price tag a little. Even if you use prefolds (and again, I think it’s worth the money to buy newborn prefolds–you will use them as doublers later) during the day, having a few fitteds on hand for when you’re stumbling around half-stupid in the dark at 3 a.m. is an excellent idea. Get some disposable liners to aid cleanup during the meconium days.

If You Don’t Have a Washer and Dryer

This is a biggie, because coin-op machines can eat up what you saved by not buying disposables. If you’re lucky enough to have a diaper service in your area, GO FOR IT. If not, you can try buying a whole lot of flats and just washing once a week, or you can try hand-washing flats and drying them indoors. Yes, some parents do this, but don’t feel guilty if you don’t want to!

If You’re Traveling

Cloth while traveling is pretty easy if you’re going to have a washer and dryer at your destination. Every single one of our friends and relatives was okay with letting us wash diapers at their house. We traveled a LOT when our older daughter was an infant because my father was in the hospital 500 miles away and we spent five months traveling back and forth, sixteen hours each way by train. I’ve cloth diapered while staying in a hotel, and I’ve done it when my mother’s propane ran out and we had no hot water. A lot of times I thought it was easier than disposables would have been, because I didn’t have to worry about finding a place to throw them away, or finding a place to buy them. If the thought overwhelms you, you can always use disposables while on the bus/train/plane, and pack cloth in your suitcase to use after you get there.

Nighttime Diapering

For a baby who still needs to be changed at night, I recommend a fitted diaper with a cover, because it’s the least likely to leak poop all over the bed. (Ask me how I know.) For a baby who sleeps through, you need to make sure you have enough absorbency and a really good cover. I used to Snappi fasten a prefold, then lay another prefold in a Mother-ease air flow cover and fasten it on. This never leaked for us. Sometimes I was lazy and just laid two prefolds in a Bummis wrap and that never leaked either. A really heavy wetter might need an additional doubler. I have heard excellent things about Aristocrats wool covers for nighttime, but we have never used one.

Diaper Rash

For most babies most of the time, the key to diaper rash prevention is frequent changing, no matter what kind of diaper is being used. The easiest way to accomplish this is using a cotton diaper without a cover and changing as soon as it gets wet. Also, making sure the diapers are being washed on hot with the right amount of detergent and well rinsed is important. They should smell clean when coming out of the washing machine. Some babies are sensitive to certain detergents or to certain fabrics; if this could be the case, try different types of diapers and detergents. There are a few babies who, when all is said and done, do better in disposables, again, with frequent changing.

If the diaper is soaking wet but the outside of the cover and the clothing are dry, then congratulations! You’ve got a good cover. Change the diaper. If you object to your baby feeling wet, change more frequently. If more frequent changes aren’t possible, try using a doubler or double diapering, which will reduce the sensation of wetness. A few babies are bothered by wetness; most of the time it only bothers the parents. Some parents use polyester fleece liners in their babies’ diapers for a stay-dry effect.

How To Get Started

June 6, 2009

What kind of diapers should I buy?

There is no one “best” kind of diaper for everyone. If that were the case, there wouldn’t be a bazillion different kinds! It’s kind of like buying a car–different things work for different families.

That said, if your baby is in daycare you will probably need pockets or AIO’s. I recommend the BumGenius pocket diaper. If you don’t like synthetics, I recommend the Bumkins AIO with a flat or a preemie prefold stuck under the airflow panel. There are lots of other quality diapers out there, but those worked well for us.

Outside of daycare, I recommend prefolds and snap wraps.

Why prefolds?!

I’ll be up front with you: Not everyone likes prefolds. Flats are cheaper and quicker to dry, fitteds are more leakproof, and pockets and AIO’s are considerably easier to use. But I can’t recommend any of those as a one-kind-satisfies-most solution, because flats are a big investment of time (folding), and all the other kinds are a big investment of money. I wouldn’t want you to spend a lot of money on something you didn’t end up absolutely loving. Plus, prefolds are extremely easy to care for if you have access to a regular washer and dryer, which is more than I can say about some of the other types.

Why snap wraps?

Again, I’ll be up front with you: All the different cover types have their pros and cons. Front-snapping covers win in my opinion because they allow you to lay the prefold in without fastening, which is the easiest way to use prefolds, without any risk of snagging, scratching, or unintentional naked baby that comes with Velcro.

What kinds of prefolds and snap wraps?

For simplicity’s sake, I recommend the Econobum, which comes in a money-saving package. Other good sources of prefolds are Green Mountain Diapers, Diaper Junction, and Clothdiaper.com. There are lots of brands of snap wrap on the market these days, unlike a few years ago when Bummis was the only game in town. My all-time favorite diaper cover (this is saying a lot!) is the Swaddlebees ABC Snap Wrap.

How many?

Three dozen diapers and 8 covers. (This is a fairly arbitrary number since some people get by on one dozen diapers and 2 covers, while other people have hundreds of diapers and covers; but I’m going on the logic of 10 diapers and 2 covers per day, washing every 3 days, with a few extras for the diaper bag.)

How do I use them?

I learned to pin by carefully studying the pictures on the Green Mountain Diapers site; check it out. Pinned prefolds are great during the day around the house for preventing diaper rash. Using a Snappi is easier than pinning but requires a cover if the baby is mobile; trust me on this one. Laying the prefold in the cover is the easiest method of all. Just fold the diaper in thirds or fourths, lay it in, slide it under the baby’s bottom, and fasten it like a disposable. The disadvantage to this method is that poop is more likely to get on the cover.

How do I wash them?

Wet and breastmilk-only-dirty diapers can go right into the pail liner. Rinse formula-or-solid-food-dirty diapers in the toilet with a Minishower or other diaper sprayer that minimizes the grossness, then put them in the pail liner. Wash every 2 to 3 days. Rinse or prewash the diapers on cold with no detergent, then wash them in a hot, heavy cycle with a normal amount of detergent and an extra rinse. THE KEY IS MAKING SURE EVERY BIT OF DETERGENT IS RINSED OUT. If the detergent doesn’t all come out, the dirt won’t all come out either. There is no one perfect kind of detergent. Optical brighteners are bad because they can break down the waterproofing in your covers and pocket and AIO outers, but other than that, there are no hard-and-fast rules. I use and like Sportwash, but it doesn’t work for everyone.

After washing, either dry them in the dryer on hot, or air fluff them in the dryer and then hang them outside on the line. Line drying is one of my favorite things to do, but apparently not everyone is as crazy about it as I am!

Definitions

June 6, 2009

There are approximately 100 bazillion different types of cloth diapers (I counted, but lost track at 98 bazillion). I have sorted them into five basic categories.

Flat diapers are named because they have the same number of layers throughout. Usually, but not always, they will be one layer and about 27 inches square. They can be folded and doubled to fit all babies, and they wash and dry very quickly and easily, even if you hand wash and line dry indoors. Additionally, they are very inexpensive. However, the folding can be a lot of work.

Prefold diapers are named because they are thicker in the middle. If you took a flat diaper and folded it in fourths, then lapped the edges over each other, then sewed them together, you’d have a prefold. Prefold diapers require less folding than flats, but they also take longer to dry, and most babies will need two or three sizes from birth to potty training. However, they are still pretty inexpensive, the folding is a lot easier than with flats, and if you have a washer and dryer, the laundry is a snap.

Fitted diapers are named because they have elasticized waists and legs, like disposables. They also come with their own snap or Velcro fasteners. This makes them extremely easy to use, but a lot more expensive and not as easy to care for. However, they are very popular because they are easy to use yet breathable, and some brands (*cough* Mother-Ease *cough*) are a very good value for the money.

All-in-one diapers are named because they are like fitted diapers with their own built-in covers. These work exactly like disposables, except you wash them instead of throwing them away. They are the easiest to use of all cloth diapers but are also among the most expensive, and hardest to care for. The quick-dry versions, which launder more easily, are an excellent choice for daycare, but I believe all-in-ones are overkill for everyday use.

Pocket diapers are waterproof diaper covers sewn on three sides to a stay-dry liner, which 99% of the time is made from polyester, either fleece or suedecloth. The back is left open for stuffing with something absorbent–cotton, microfiber, hemp, old gym socks…you name it. Once stuffed, pocket diapers function like all-in-ones, but the separate stuffing allows them to dry much more quickly. These diapers are extremely popular, so you may want to try them to see if you like them. Personally, I thought that, like all-in-ones, they were overkill for everyday use; additionally, I found the stay-dry liners to be difficult to clean.

Other categories: A preflat is a diaper that is the size of a prefold, but with the same number of layers throughout, often two. A contour is a diaper that is hourglass-shaped, but does not have elastic or fasteners. A prefitted is a diaper with elastics but not fasteners. A pocket fitted is a fitted diaper with a pocket in the back for extra stuffing, or you could think of it as a pocket diaper that isn’t waterproof. (An excellent choice if you want to combine the breathability of fitteds with the quick drying of pockets and the ease of use of both.) An all-in-two is a diaper where you attach the absorbent part to the waterproof part and re-use the waterproof part, making them easy to use but more cost-effective than all-in-ones or pocket diapers where the whole thing must be washed after every use.

Diapers are usually made out of cotton, but hemp, bamboo, and polyester are also used, for various reasons including absorbency and durability. Personally, I think cotton is best, because it’s the easiest to clean. But not everyone agrees with me.

Flats, prefolds, and fitteds can be used coverless for breathability. With flats and prefolds you will have to pin in order to go coverless, unless you have a very young baby, in which case you can use a Snappi, which is a T-shaped, stretchy piece of plastic with teeth that grab the fabric of a diaper. Snappis are great for fastening flats and prefolds under covers, but should never be used coverless with a mobile baby. Pinning is honestly not all that hard, and pinned diapers are among the most adorable. With fitted diapers, just snap or Velcro it on and don’t worry about pricking yourself. I found coverless diapering to be the absolute best treatment and prevention for diaper rash. You do have to watch carefully and change after every pee, so it’s not practical for all the time, but even part-time coverless diapering is GREAT for a baby’s skin. The rest of the time, you will have to use a cover.

Covers made of vinyl and plastic are still around, but for just a few dollars more, you can get far higher quality materials. Nylon is only a little more expensive than plastic but is much softer and nicer and more durable. PUL (polyurethane laminated polyester) is more durable still, enough that most PUL covers can be washed with the diapers, a big plus in my opinion. Wool is the only natural fiber diapering material, is completely breathable, and although it is bulky and requires special care, many mothers swear by it. Fleece is a polyester synthetic that mimics wool in breathability, needs to be washed more often than wool but requires no special care in the washing. In cold weather, I like to use 100% polyester fleece pants as a diaper cover and pants in one.

Covers can be pull-on, front-snapping, side-snapping, or Velcro. All four styles have advantages and disadvantages. I personally prefer front-snapping covers because they are more convenient than pull-ons, easier to figure out than side-snapping, and less likely to cause laundry problems than Velcro. Again, though, all four styles have pros and cons, and different people prefer different styles in different situations.

Pictures

June 6, 2009

For those of you who are visual learners, here are some pictures.

I own the copyright to these pictures. YOU DO NOT HAVE MY PERMISSION TO DOWNLOAD, UPLOAD, COPY, OR REPOST THESE PICTURES. Not on your own computer, not in an e-mail to a friend, not to another website. Not anywhere. For any reason. EVER. I really, really mean it!!!

KL0 and BSWW

3-day-old baby in a Kissaluvs 0 fitted with a newborn Bummis Super Whisper Wrap

2-week-old in a Snappied infant prefold

2-week-old in a Snappied infant prefold

2-week-old in a Snappied preemie prefold

2-week-old in a Snappied preemie prefold

2-week-old in a Snappied regular prefold

2-week-old in a Snappied regular prefold

2-week-old in a homemade wool soaker

2-week-old in a homemade wool soaker

Diapers drying on the line make people happy

Diapers drying on the line make people happy

Prefolds, covers, and pins--the perfect stash

Prefolds, covers, and pins--the perfect stash

Bumkins AIOs for daycare

Bumkins AIOs for daycare