It doesn't matter whether you just started cloth diapering, or you're a CDing wizard, there are some fairly common cloth diapering mistakes that even the most seasoned user can make. Below, we'll look at some of the most common mistakes, complete with suggestions for what to do instead. 1. Buying your whole stash before your baby is born. Most of us who have gone through a pregnancy know what nesting is all about (and for those who haven't, it's real): You start feeling the need to prepare and so you buy, wash, and hang/fold all of your newborn, 6 mos., 12 mos., etc. clothing (yes I totally did this). You arrange all of your baby's books, toys, and decorative effects around the nursery, and vacuum, dust, and re-arrange for the sixth time even though nobody but you has stepped foot in it since you began your descent into madness. I mean nesting. It is an exciting and satisfying process to do these things, no doubt about it! When it comes to cloth diapers, however, I would urge you to resist the compulsion to gather your stash months in advance so you can prep, fold, arrange by color and type, and stack them neatly on the changing table. Why? Because most warranty periods begin the date that you make your purchase. This means that if you purchase your diapers in February, but your baby won't be born until June, you've just used up 4 months of your warranty period and your baby hasn't even worn the diapers yet. Hopefully you'll never need to submit a warranty claim for any of your cloth diapers, but if you do, you'll want as much time as possible to submit your claim in case you discover a defective diaper that warrants replacement. Most cloth diaper companies have to be strict with adhering to their warranty policies not only because those policies were set in place for a reason, but also because if you make an exception for one person, then others will expect the same. 2. Not having enough diapers. You may think that having 12 diapers will be enough to get through a day. And if you're giving naked time, and changing every few hours, and your baby rarely poops... then yes you might have (barely) enough. But 12 is really the absolute, bare minimum that you could possibly get away with if you plan to wash every night with no spares for extra changes. I did this for the first few months of our cloth diapering experience, and it.... sucked. Plus I had to handwash so... yeah. Ideally, acquiring 24 - 36 diapers is optimal for daily, or every other day washing. It is enough for newborns and toddlers, and will ensure that even if one day you happen to be changing diapers more than normal, you likely won't run out. It can be pretty frustrating and perplexing to suddenly run out of diapers (especially if you do not have disposables for back-up), and haven't started a load of cloth diapers. You may have to get creative at that point (FYI: T-shirts work pretty well). 3. Not changing frequently enough. Disposable diapers have somewhat skewed the expectation of cloth diapers. Not only do many people expect cloth diapers to be as trim as disposables, but they also expect cloth diapers to hold as much as disposables. Well, my friends, this is just not gonna happen. It's true that there are a few cloth diapers out there which are pretty trim, but most of them aren't going to hold as much pee as a disposable. Why? Because disposables are composed of a myriad of chemicals and materials that allow each diaper to absorb up to 30 times its weight in urine. That's crazy! And hopefully nobody lets their child sit in a diaper long enough for it to absorb 30 times it's weight in urine. Seriously. Most inserts will hold between 3/4 - 1 1/2 cups of water before you start experiencing leaks or wicking, and that covers both synthetic and natural fiber inserts. This means that you will have to change a cloth diaper more frequently than a disposable. While you can sometimes go 2 - 3 hours between diaper changes, ideally you will want to change every hour or two, or double up the inserts to go longer. Once an insert has reached its maximum absorption capacity, there is nowhere else for liquids to go, but out. And that means that the liquid will escape through the leg openings or waist band, or will start wicking at the leg seams. 4. Using the wrong detergent. What detergent to use is one of the most frustrating conundrums for a lot of cloth diaperers because of the misconception that you have to use a "specialty" detergent or else you'll void your warranty or end up with diapers that repel every drop (or gush) of liquid thrown at it. While cloth diaper detergents are usually a safe bet because they were designed specifically for use with cloth diapers, there are a lot of commercially available detergents that are just as safe to use. As a general rule of thumb, you want to avoid any detergent that contains scents, dyes, optical brighteners, fabric softeners, and/or enzymes. All of those ingredients have the likely potential to cause repelling, leaking, bad odors, and/or diaper rash. This includes most "free & clear" detergents, which usually still contain optical brighteners and/or enzymes. I have found the following detergent charts to be very helpful when trying to decide what to use: http://www.pinstripesandpolkadots.com/Articles.asp?ID=263 http://www.diaperjungle.com/detergent-chart.html http://www.maineclothdiaper.com/Detergent-101.html Speaking of detergent, let's take a look at our next common cloth diapering mistake: 5. Not using enough detergent. When using commercial detergents, it is often recommended that you use only 1/4 - 1/2 the recommended amount with cloth diapers. This is because some of the detergent is concentrated and using the recommended amount could result in build-up. However, most of the time you can use the recommended amount (as appropriate for the load size) without issue. for powdered detergents, generally you would use 1 Tablespoon for HE machines, and 2 Tablespoons for old-school top loaders. For cloth diaper detergents, simply follow the instructions. I have received emails from customers who are experiencing leaking, odors, repelling, etc. and when asked how much detergent they're using they respond "1 teaspoon." This is definitely not enough detergent to get a normal load of diapers clean. If you aren't using enough detergent, then your diapers are not getting clean and they will almost certainly end up repelling, leaking, or smelling like ammonia (or a barnyard, or the monkey house at the zoo, etc). And this leads us to our next mistake (don't you just love how these flow together?): 6. Not washing frequently enough. While most cloth diaper companies recommend washing every 2 - 3 days, ideally you will want to wash every day. The sooner you wash, the less chance there is for stains to set in, smells to develop, and bacteria to grow. Especially if you live in warmer climates, the diapers shouldn't be left to sit for too long as warm, moist environments are the perfect breeding ground for yucky bacteria. And make sure to always wash the diapers in hot water (up to 145°F) to ensure that you are killing any bacteria in the diapers, and also to help eliminate stains and odors. 7. Thinking you have to stick with only one type of diaper. Finally, this isn't exactly a mistake if you genuinely prefer just one type of diaper (you know... like FuzziBunz), but some folks believe that there is only one type of diaper out there that will work for all of their child's needs. The fact is that different types of diapers can be better than others in some situations. For instance, AIOs can be great daytime diapers, but for heavy wetters, a fitted diaper with a wool cover offer a bulletproof solution for overnight use. Don't be afraid to give a variety of diapers a try. You may find that you love different brands and styles for different purposes! And then you can post photos of your super awesome rainbow stash. ;) What would you add to this list? - Our Resident Mom, Lindsay Lewis
Is it me, or does it seem like there is a LOT of (social) media coverage surrounding breastfeeding lately? Nurse-ins, "to cover or not to cover" debates, uproars about public establishments shaming breastfeeding mothers, and defending the right to post breastfeeding photos online are everywhere. Why is this such a hot topic? Because too many people have gotten the wrong idea about breastfeeding: what it is, and what it isn't, and it's time for a little re-education. In this post I'm not going to go into too many facts about breastfeeding and breastmilk, because anyone who is interested in it can easily do a Google search and pull up all sorts of information about it. What I do want to talk about is why breastfeeding is important, but also why you shouldn't feel ashamed or "less-than" if you cannot, or choose not to breastfeed. Let's shine some light on the most important fact regarding this subject: Breastfeeding is completely natural. The design of the female body is truly amazing, as we are able to perform seemingly miraculous functions that males cannot. Our biological make-up creates the perfect environment to literally grow another human being, birth that human being, and provide exactly what that human being needs to survive and thrive during the first few years of his/her life (and beyond). How's that for impressive? The breasts are masses of fat, tissue, and milk ducts which normally become active once a woman gives birth. These milk ducts bring forth the nourishment that feeds our babies the perfect mix of proteins, fats, amino acids, enzymes and other critical nutrients that encourage healthy growth and create the best immune-builders on the planet for our children. Mama's milk is liquid gold. It adapts to the individual needs of your child, and no woman's milk is exactly the same as any other woman's milk, which is pretty incredible in itself! As your child grows, your milk changes to provide exactly what your child needs at his/her particular age and stage in life. Breastfeeding even just to 6 months can reduce the risk of certain cancers for both mother and baby, and can protect against a myriad of childhood illnesses including (but definitely not limited to) severe ear infections, meningitis, pneumonia, intestinal illness, and the common cold! Now let's shine some light on the other most important fact regarding this subject: Breastfeeding is not sexual. Just because a breast is exposed does not automatically qualify it as being "sexually explicit." I don't quite understand how the same people who would view a nude painting like DaVinci's "Madonna Litta" as beautiful, classical, and even romantic, could view modern-day mothers nursing their children as "obscene," and "distracting." It's ridiculous and sad. What's worse is the message being given to our children who grow up viewing breastfeeding as the normal, non-hysteria-inducing activity that it is. For many young children who breastfeed, and/or who have seen younger siblings breastfeed, pretending to nurse a beloved doll is an extremely common occurrence. And yet for some reason, because it involves breasts, there is a large part of society who frowns upon this undeniably innocent act, fearing the lure of sexual predators, or attempting to shame these childrens' parents because they failed to teach modesty and "acceptable behavior." How is pretending to bottle-feed any more or less acceptable than pretending to breastfeed, especially since breastfeeding is a normal, biological function? Regardless of whether you breastfeed or formula-feed, I think we can all agree that there is a serious need for social reform when it comes to this subject. We all want what is best for our babies. And regardless of whether you breastfeed or bottle-feed, you are making the choice to nourish your child in the best way you are able, and there is NO SHAME in that, ever! If you have questions about breastfeeding, need support, or want to connect with other women who breastfeed, I would encourage you to seek out your local La Leche League group. This can be an invaluable source of much-needed education and support for women and families, regardless of whether or not you currently have a child. Find your local chapter here. There are also an abundance of breastfeeding groups on Facebook, as well as natural parenting websites like this one. These groups can be a safe space to discuss your concerns, challenges, triumphs, and questions regarding breastfeeding and all things related to raising children! If you do, or have, nursed your little ones, did you ever experience negativity about it? Or has it been a mostly positive experience? Our Mom In Residence, Lindsay Lewis
When I got pregnant with our first child in 2009, I wasn't totally knowledgable about natural parenting. I knew that I wanted a natural birth, that I wanted to breastfeed, and that - eventually - I wanted to cloth diaper. That's about it. Our plans for sleeping arrangements were to set up a bassinette in our bedroom for the first few months of Maya's life, then to move her to a crib in her own room. Well.... things did not quite work out that way. We did start out with a bassinette in our bedroom. I stayed up for most of the night... every night... listening for any and every sound coming from that babe's mouth. Every whimper, sigh, hiccup that escaped her sweet little lips sent me scrambling over in a sleep-deprived haze to make sure something terrible wasn't happening. And then of course, if I did manage to doze off for thirty minutes or so, I was awakened shortly after because she needed to nurse. In addition to getting up to nurse, Maya was a fairly high-needs baby. She wanted to be held almost constantly. She wanted to nurse every 30 - 45 minutes it seemed, and it lasted for months. After she turned three months, she could no longer fit into her bassinette, so we disassembled her crib (the one waiting for her in "her own room") and moved it into our tiny bedroom, right up against my side of the bed. "This is a great idea!" I thought. "Now she can be close to me, and I won't have to walk across the room to nurse! This will make things so much easier!" Wrong again. She had a very hard time sleeping, and would wake up crying at all hours of the night. She was inconsolable unless she was in my arms. She wasn't sleeping... my husband wasn't sleeping... and I definitely wasn't sleeping. Then one night, in a fit of frustration from constant nursing and lack of adequate rest, I exclaimed "I'm putting her into bed with me! I HAVE to sleep!!" My husband was very concerned about this, as he was terrified of rolling over on her. I understood, because I was afraid of that too, but something told me it would be okay. And oh my stars, it was more than okay! She slept!! And my husband slept (well, after he realized he wasn't going to roll over on her)!! And I slept, too!! When she woke to nurse, I was already right there. Whenever I felt her stirring I immediately woke up to see what her needs were, then went right back to sleep. It is a common misconception that co-sleeping is a dangerous practice, but the truth is, for healthy parents who do not smoke, use sedatives, drugs, or certain other medications, and who are not hard to waken, co-sleeping is a natural and safe practice that benefits both the baby and breastfeeding mothers! Probably one of the most interesting and important benefits of co-sleeping is that it greatly reduces the risk of SIDS. This is thought to be so because there is a synchronicity involved in mothers and their babies when sleeping beside one another. Babies tend to naturally sleep on their backs or sides moreso than their stomachs, which has been one theorized component of SIDS cases. In addition, the breath, arousability, and waking patterns of mother and baby seem to sync up while co-sleeping. If the theory that SIDS is a disorder in which a baby is difficult to waken when something causes breathing to cease, then it makes perfect sense that the stimulation of mother's breath, along with increased arousability and proper sleep positioning could drastically reduce the chances of SIDS death. Babies who co-sleep feel safe and comforted day and night since they are so close to their parents, which offers a sense of security that often results in less dependency during the day. Knowing that your baby is safe and restful beside you can help you and/or your partner relax and get a much higher quality of rest. While discussing the benefits of co-sleeping are important, there is also the question of how to co-sleep. Many parents are comfortable keeping their babies in bed beside them, but some parents may be too nervous or dislike the idea of baby being right there in the same bed. In this instance, something like the Arm's Reach Co-Sleeper (link: https://www.armsreach.com/shop) may be a more comfortable solution. This is basically a crib with a lowering side that attaches directly to your mattress. This allows you to have your baby at "arm's reach," but without baby being directly in your bed. If you want baby in bed with you, but are nervous about him/her falling off of the bed, products like the Tres Tria Natural Co Sleeper Pillow (link: http://www.babyecotrends.com/item/Tres_Tria_Natural_Co_Sleeper_Pillow/1587) can help put your mind at ease by acting as a "bumper" to prevent accidents from happening. A more economical approach could be to use a First Years Secure Sleeper, which fits right into bed with you, but prevents accidental rolling. (link: http://www.amazon.com/The-First-Years-Secure-Sleeper/dp/B00012CHFI) To understand the science behind co-sleeping's effects on babies and their caregivers, Dr. Sears has written an intelligent and highly-informative article that I would encourage anyone who is considering co-sleeping to read. This article can be found via the following link: http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/health-concerns/sleep-problems/co-sleeping-yes-no-sometimes Co-sleeping isn't for everyone, and you have to trust your intuition when making the decision as to whether or not it is the right choice for you and your baby, but hopefully this information, and the information found on Dr. Sears' website can help you make the most knowledgable decision. Do you co-sleep? What does co-sleeping look like for you and your baby? ~ Lindsay Lewis
It's week 5 of our "Baby of the Week" series, and this week we'd like to welcome baby Ellie and her mama, Carrie! Ellie is just 4 months old, but Carrie is not new to cloth diapering with 3 1/2 years of experience under her belt! FB: What is Ellie's favorite food? Carrie: Breastmilk FB: Why did you make the cloth diaper switch? Carrie: To save money! FB: What is your favorite aspect of cloth diapering? Carrie: The cuteness! FB: Do you have any tips for moms making the switch? Carrie: Explore your options! Cloth diapering is trial - and - error, so don't get discouraged if the first thing you try doesn't work out. FB: What is your funniest cloth diaper moment? Carrie: The moment you start a load of diaper laundry, baby will poop. It never fails! If you would like your child to be the baby of the week, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org! Make sure to stock up on diapers by using code FLUFFLOVE at checkout.
Whether you are just curious about cloth diapering, or are already a pro-CDer, you may notice that there seems to be a plethora of accessories you can buy to accentuate your cloth diapering experience. Which ones do you really need? And which ones are simply optional, but well worth it to own? Fact: The only things you really need to cloth diaper, are cloth diapers. Yup, that's it! Now that we've cleared that out of the way, let's talk about some of the fun accessories that you might not really need, but that could make your life a lot easier. Diaper Sprayer: This is one of the most helpful accessories you can purchase, because it really does make the process of removing poop from your diapers a lot easier than the ol' dunk-n-swish method (or the spatula-scrape). In short, the diaper sprayer hooks right up to your toilet plumbing, and with the squeeze of a trigger you can effectively spray soils away, helping to prevent stains and odors. Diaper Pails/Wet Bags: This is another one of those products that is really worth acquiring, because the way that you store your dirty diapers in between laundry day makes a big difference in whether or not you'll end up with odor issues. Keeping diapers in an air-tight container (like a trash can with a lid) is not the best option for keeping dirty diapers contained. While you may think it's a good idea because the smells won't escape, the truth is that keeping them in an air-tight container can create a warm, moist environment where bacteria can rapidly proliferate, resulting in the development of ammonia, or other funky odors. Wet bags are created to allow a breathable environment for soiled cloth diapers, and most come with a little cotton tab on the inside with which to apply your favorite essential oil to keep odors at bay! Cloth Wipes: For many people, it seems a given that if you're going to use cloth diapers, you might as well use cloth wipes, too, and with good reason! Cloth wipes are economical, easy-to-use (just wash them with your cloth diapers), and come in a myriad of fun prints and colors, as well as super soft, comfortable fabrics! And with a little sewing know-how, you can even make your own out of your favorite material, or even out of old clothing/pillow cases/etc. that you've just been waiting to repurpose. Wipes Spray: For a long time, I just used warm water on my cloth wipes to clean my babies' booties, but at some point I really wanted to try this Sweet Orange EO wipes spray that I saw online, and it totally set me off on a quest to create my own because I loved it so much! I am a confessed Aromaholic, and eyeing my shelves of close to 80 different essential oils, I went to work concocting my own wipes solution. I used this website for inspiration: http://www.zany-zebra.com/cloth-wipe-solution.shtml. You can also purchase pre-made wipes sprays online. Oh, and my favorite scent thus far? A soft, delicious blend of Cacao, Patchouli, and Frankincense. ;) Disposable/Flushable Liners: Sometimes you just don't want to deal with poop at all. And sometimes your child may develop a medical condition which requires the use of pharmaceutical creams or ointments that aren't great for cloth diapers. In cases like these, disposable liners come to the rescue! Simply lay one (or two) down inside of your cloth diaper, and at the next change, lift it out and flush it! Your cloth diapers stay free of stains and you won't have to worry about what happens if some of that Nystatin gets smushed into the fibers of your cloth diapers. What are some of your "must-have" accessories?