Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Beginners Guide to Cloth Diapers

If that's not a cute diaper, I don't know what is ^^

I spent quite a bit of time thinking about how I'd blog about cloth diapers.  I want to keep it short and sweet and informative too.  I first want to make a blog about how to begin using cloth.  How to take the "plunge" that so many people fear will be a nightmare of gross dunking and spraying and pinning and leaks!  Let me just start off by saying that NONE of that is true.  Yes, while some people still dunk and spray, it's really not needed.  Pins, a thing of the past (at least for most).  Listed below will be the different types of cloth diapers, washing tips, size tips and overall use guidelines that are EASY for beginners to follow.  I'm going to blog only about the types of diapers I think are easy for beginners to use.  Later I'll add other types of diapers and covers that you can get into after you get used to cloth diapering.

  • Types of Cloth Diapers for Beginners
  • Pocket Diapers
    • Outer layer of waterproof fabric (PUL=Polyurethane laminate)
    • Inner layer of fleece, suedecloth or another material
    • A soaking insert made from microfiber, hemp, bamboo or another material that holds liquids
  • Pros
      • Easy to wash
      • Solids roll off the surface of the inner material
      • Baby feels dry like a disposable
      • Easy to put on with snaps or hook and loop (velcro or aplix)
      • Customize absorbency to fit your child (using more inserts or less)
  • Cons
      • Stuff after wash (not a big deal to me, but some hate it)
      • Sometimes can leak if your baby is a super heavy wetter or you haven't changed often enough
      • PUL is not breathable, which some people don't like (I happen to love PUL)
  • My take
    • I love pocket diapers.  They have always been my favorite style of diaper.  They are easy to use when you go out and about too.  All you do is pre-stuff them and put them in your changing table baskets, diaper bag or wherever you diaper your baby.  Snap on or velcro on and go!  Taking them off is a breeze and you just toss them into the wet bag or diaper pail after dumping off any solids into the potty.  Easy to wash too and always come clean.  This one below has a cool pocket opening.  You can fold down the top of the diaper and just throw it in the wash, no insert to handle because it will come out in the wash!  Cool huh?  Best part is, she's a WAHM and my friend.  If I could buy only one diaper for my baby and re-do my entire stash, I'd buy all of her diapers.  She makes pockets, covers (wool and PUL),  AI2 and fitteds.  We won't touch on AI2 or wool in the beginners post, but I will talk about fitteds a bit.
Heartland Dreams pocket diaper outside.  This particular one is a cotton print over hidden PUL.  Her cotton print outer diapers are awesome because if you notice on the sides where the legs are, there is some PUL showing.  This means that the cotton isn't near the leg area where often times cotton outer pocket diapers will leak from the seams in the leg area.  Her pocket diapers are my new favorite!

Heartland Dreams pocket diaper inside.  The pocket opening is at the belly area and is fully covered so that microfiber or the other insert material won't touch the baby's skin.  The inside of these diapers is suedecloth, a thin polyester material that wicks moisture away from the skin and into the insert.
  • Prefold diapers
    • Cotton, bamboo or hemp "rectangles"
    • Layered material that you fold to fit the baby
    • Pin or Snappi on
    • Covers needed
  • Pros
    • SUPER soakers
    • Natural material
    • Breathable fabric
  • Cons
    • Not as easy to get on
    • Solids don't roll off the diaper as easily (but still are removable with very minimal effort or can use a fleece liner)
    • Need a cover
    • Doesn't wick moisture away from baby's skin
      • Note: There is a "trick" to this con though.  If you cut up poly fleece strips to lay in the diaper, they will allow the moisture to wick the moisture away from the baby's skin, keeping it dry.  
  • My take
    • I love prefolds.  They aren't my #1 "go to" diaper, but I do love them.  They soak up like mad!  You can layer them for night time too.  You can leave them coverless around the house and they are breathable.  This can help air out baby's bum if they have a rash or are prone to getting a rash.  They are also C-H-E-A-P!  For real, you can buy a dozen for about $15-$30, depending on the size and material.  
This is a prefold on a baby.  The top is using a Snappi and the bottom is pins.  You do NOT even have to use pins at all, or really even a snappi if you don't want.  I highly recommend looking at this site if you think you like prefolds because they have great tips on how to fold and use them with covers.  You can lay prefolds into covers and use them like that w/o actually pinning or "Snappi-ing" them to the baby.  Note though that if they are just layed into a cover, they have a tendency to leak poo out the sides if it's a newborn, so a good cover with gussets is needed.  We'll talk about that below.

  • Fitteds
    • Made from cotton, hemp or bamboo
    • Outer diaper "shell" and inner diaper snap in or lay in (or stuff in) flaps to soak
    • Soft and durable
    • Need a cover
  • Pros
    • Easy to put on
    • Breathable
    • Super cute without a cover
    • Soak a TON (depending on the brand)
  • Cons
    • Bulkier than pockets
    • Not as easy for out and about
  • My take
    • Fitteds are my second favorite, next to pocket diapers.  I love how they look without a cover.  The best thing about fitteds is that they NEVER leak.  WHAT?  That's right, NEVER!  I mean, I can put one of these on for probably 3 hours and there are still areas that are dry.  Even on heavy wetters.  Newborn poo stays the best in these and covers over, but even w/o covers I've rarely had any solids leak out.  Breastfeeding mothers know what I'm talking about when I say "blowouts!"  These diapers hold it all in!  Especially fitteds with serged legs.  These really seem bullet proof.  My only issue is that not all fitteds are made the same, so you really need to look into what works best for your baby.  Some are more absorbent, some less, some are more trim, some bulkier; some are made with serged legs, some with turned and topstiched.  These things are a matter of preference and for my kids, serged fitteds with bamboo inner fabrics have worked the best and are the most absorbent.
 This is an EllaBella Bottoms from a Hyena Cart Congo here
The outer is cotton print and the inner is cotton velour.  She doesn't have a picture of the inside, so I'll use a different diaper for this example.

This diaper is another Heartland Dreams and the inner of this is velour (purple cotton) and bamboo fleece.  The natural colored fabric is the fleece and it's inside out so the smooth side is showing.  I love her diapers... have I said that before?  Um... this one I'm pining after so maybe I'll save my pennies for it :)  It's purple paisley, but I keep telling myself that Wes would look so cute in it and it doesn't matter that it's purple :)

This is Wesley in a Weezypie made by my friend Rachel.  She doesn't make them anymore (yet) but they are super cute.  This is a one-size diaper for 8-35lbs or so!  They fit awesome.
  • PUL covers
    • Used to cover up prefolds or fitted diapers
    • Keep clothes dry and solids from leaking
  • Styles
    • Velcro on
    • Pull on
    • Snap on
  • My take
    • My favorite covers so far have been Thirsties brand covers.  I attempted to make some covers, but... failed LOL.  They work but they aren't pretty.  Anyway, the Thirsties have gussets at the inside of the legs to hold in solids.  They clean easily and look cute.  Now they come with snaps and aplix and they have some prints now too.  Some don't like PUL, but I really love it.  Below is going to be a picture of Thirsties so you can see how they work.
Ok, so I couldn't find the best picture of these covers on the inside, but I wanted to share what they look like on.  Here is one on a 3 week old baby with a fitted under.

See the cool little leg gusset?  Just like a disposable right?  This one is a Duo Wrap which is a type of one size.  It's a medium/large cover.  They also sell a x-small-small cover that is the size before this one.  They are nice because you can adjust the rise (up and down on baby's waste) so that it fits the baby better.

"Elaine, wait a minute!  What about washing?"  Great question...  Here is what I do.  You'll find a TON of advice on washing out there, and to each their own, but this is what works for ME and a lot of others I know.

  • Washing Routine
  • Wash every 2 days
  • First rinse with 1/4c vinegar and cold water
  • Run a hot wash with detergent (listed recommendations/recipe below)
  • Run an extra rinse
  • Tumble dry hot or hang to dry outside
  • Detergent
  • Use ONE of the following and stick with what works for you
    • Homemade detergent (22oz Washing Soda, 8oz Oxy Clean *or generic oxygen cleaner* and 8oz baking soda)  Use 2 tablespoons per regular sized load
    • Dreft powder or liquid, use 1/4 of the amount you would use on clothes
    • Method detergent (pump bottle) Use 2 pumps per full load
    • ***PLEASE NOTE***
      • Not all regular detergents are recommended for diaper washing due to residue buildup that will effect the performance of your diapers.  Please use either these guidelines or consult the diaper manufacturer for more recommendations.

The last thing I want to touch on is a term called "one-size".  You might think, wait a second, this is bogus, no one diaper size can fit my baby from birth to potty.  Well, let me tell you, it can!  I make a lot of my own diapers, which I love by the way (I just like to feature WAHM's that sell their diapers instead of pix of mine and I don't really like to "toot my own horn" too much hehe!) and I make mine one-sized.  Granted, some babies are too small at first to use one-size diapers, but most babies (like my big fatties) can fit into them right away.  The inserts in one-size pockets are just smaller for newborns and bigger for toddlers.  Fitted diapers sometimes have a removable soaker flap so you can fold down the remaining one so it's not so bulky for little ones and add more soaker flaps when they are bigger.   If you want to cloth diaper economically and simply, I suggest buying one size pocket diapers and maybe a few prefolds with covers.

If you take one thing away from this post, read this.  If you are new to cloth diapering and want to give it a shot, I suggest starting with a one-size or a sized (meaning small, medium or large) pocket diaper.  Once you get the hang of using those, then branch out to use other styles.  Pocket diapers, IMO, are the easiest form out there for newbies and will introduce you to the fact that cloth diapers aren't hard and they do not suck!  LOL  They are also not as gross as you think and washing them is not as big of a hassle as you may think either.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Family and Friends

God has blessed me with a beautiful family.  My husband and my son's are my world! I'm also incredibly blessed with wonderful parents, my sister, my nieces and nephews and all my in-laws!  I love them so much!  I am so overjoyed with love for my entire family and I'd do ANYTHING for them.

My heart is so happy also for all my friends I have!  There is one group of friends that really sticks out to me because of how much we are like a true Christian family.  We rarely fight or have disagreements.  We are always willing to help each other out and support each other when we need it.  The Zuks!  How would I live without them all?  The Fitzgeralds, Snyders, Hutsons and Thiergartners.  I met the Fitzgeralds when I was born, the Hutsons when I was a toddler and the Snyders when I was a toddler too.  There are so far 6 Snyders, 4 Fitzgeralds, 7 Hutsons and 9 (and a half) Thiergartners.  Katy will add one to our family in the fall.   We go on vacations together, have picnics several times a year, and always know how to have a great time.  If I could picture a "perfect" family, this would be it.  The older I get the more I grow to appreciate them.  I love each and every one of them!  So far there are 5 Zuks in the 3rd generation, Curtis being the oldest.  We've all been busy these past 3 years eh?

This is what we'll be doing in a few weeks!  I can't wait!  BEACH TIME
A few of the Zuk Men, Brian, Doug, Sean Fitzgerald, Mike (my dad), Mike (Megan's boyfriend), Mark, Duane, and Sean Grisez

Beach trip 2008!  This is one of our favorite places to go eat, Dockside!

If there's one thing you can't have too many of in life, it's friends.  True friends that will be there through it all and still love you even if you aren't perfect.  After all, isn't that how Jesus wanted us to treat others?  I hate it that greed and selfishness has bred bitter hearts in my family.  I can only pray that they will be healed.

Natural cleaning, how do I do it?

In the past few years since having children, I've looked into natural cleaning products.  When I started cleaning houses for money in college, I explored some natural cleaning products called Mrs Meyer's Clean Day.  I love them.  They are aromatherapy cleaners that are all natural.  They are just very pricey, but very nice.  I have their stainless steel polish and it smells so great!

One of my recent loves has been Seventh Generation.  Yes, they have been around a bit, but they recently developed a disinfectant cleaner using Thymol (a derivitave of Thyme oil).  I love it for kids toys, the bathroom, you name it! It smells pretty good too.  I really like their multipupose concentrate too, even though it's not "disinfectant".  You can find it super cheap at Super Target and using coupons that you can print monthly for $1 off from their site, you can find great deals for sure!  Target also had a coupon from their site a while back that was for another $1 off and you can stack them, so I got some cleaners for 49 cents!  Nice :)

Vinegar- let's talk... I use this for everything.  Straight for really smelly things or 1/4c in my first rinse for my cloth diapers in the wash.  Terrific cleaning power and disinfects too.  I use 1/2c vinegar and 1/2c baking soda in the potty to clean it.  Curtis loves to watch it fizz.  Hehe!  Vinegar also gets out pet stain smells.  It's a great neutralizer.  50/50 mix of water and vinegar in a spray bottle makes a good spritz for your toys in the playroom that can't be submerged to clean.  IE Leap Frog table, wooden tool bench, toys with batteries and plush. 

Bathrooms seem to be the area in most people's homes that they "freak out" about not using some sort of bleach on.  Let's be real here, before bleach was created people were still able to clean their bathrooms and keep them as germ free as possible.  Now, I'm not a germaphobe, but I do like a clean bathroom.  One of my pet peeves is having a dirty bathroom and when the kids are constantly using it and Wesley is crawling on the floor... let's just say I clean it OFTEN.  I usually use the 7th Gen cleaner listed above.  The bs/vinegar fizz for the potty etc... Bleach is NOT NEEDED!  I know... "Hi, my name is Elaine and I used to be a bleach addict" There I said it, but really, you DO NOT NEED IT!  Vinegar does just the same as bleach and NO CHEMICALS!  I no longer have to worry about cleaning in yucky clothes because of fear I might bleach my good jeans or whatever.

I'm going to put this in list form, for those of you who don't want to read my "book" above

  • Kitchen:
    • 7th Generation Disinfectant spray for counters or just soapy water.  I use the spray when we make meat dishes especially
    • Baking soda paste (mix BS with castile soap until it resembles icing) I use this to scrub my stove or pots and pans
    • 50/50 vinegar/water for spraying the doors and other hard surfaces for killing germs.
  • Bathrooms:
    • 50/50 baking soda/vinegar for potty "fizz" cleaner
    • 7th Gen spray with Thymol for the counters and potty seat, handle and floors.
    • Mrs Meyer's Clean Day Stainless Spray for the fixtures on the sink
    • Bottle of warm water, dash of dish soap and 1/4c vinegar for the mirrors.  I use flour sack towels to clean the mirrors with
    • BS paste with castile for the tub to scrub off the soap scum and stains
  • Bedrooms
    • Use my vac to dust with or a damp cleaning rag with castile soap
    • Lambs wool duster for the fans
  • Playroom
    • 50/50 vinegar/water spray for toys
    • Mop with 7th Gen multipurpose cleaner with 1c vinegar in the water
    • Soak other toys in the sink with vinegar water
    • Wipe down the changing table with the 7th Gen Thymol cleaner (they make wipes too if you like using wipes instead of spray)
Post your other great ideas below and share with us!

Blog re-do

I feel like I give enough updates on my kids/life on Facebook and my Cafemom account.  Blogging about just my family life seemed redundant!  Right?  I mean, who needs to see what I'm up to on FB and a blog?  No one is that obsessed with me... er I hope not at least.

Trying to create a new blog.  My focus is going to be on how to live a simple life.  Natural living tips, shopping tips on how to save money, how to raise your family God centered and how to live a joyful life.  I love blogs on saving money, like couponing, but I've found out that a lot of times the products that you can get for a good deal just aren't things I normally buy or really need 100 of etc... Know what I mean?  IE Slickdeals, yeah, it's good for finding a good deal once in a while, but really I find that I spend MORE money when I use blogs or forums like that because they are always talking about this deal and that deal and it makes me want it bc it's such a "good deal" right?  Ugh... bad for my budget for sure.

Any tips on saving money are just going to be on things I buy everyday.  Groceries, cloth diaper related things, detergent, natural foods etc...  Anyone who has tips can let me know and I'll add them.  My husband has made an awesome spreadsheet we use for budgeting.  He's better at doing the budget than I am, I'm just responsible for sticking to it and trying to find the best bargains.  Sure, I'd love to go out and buy all new clothes for myself and the kids and him, but really there's no need!  Hand me downs are great!  Consignment sales are the bomb and my life is simpler with LESS "stuff" involved.  The more "stuff" I have the more cluttered my life is and it's really no good for anyone.

I'm also a firm believer in the WAHM!  I love to support my fellow mommies in their businesses and will often post about them and reviews for their products.  Made in the USA is not as common as it once was, so this is important to me :).

I am striving to bring my children up with a good relationship with God.  I never really had a "relationship" with Him growing up and I really want that for my kids and my marriage.  We started going to a church that's on the edge of our neighborhood and we really like it.  We're going to get involved in a community group and I look forward to possibly going on missions trips.  It's a dream of mine to go, so I would really love to soon!

Ok, now that I've written a book I'll try to start a real blog entry later today about some things on my mind for the week.  Thanks for reading!

This is a recent pic of Wesley!  He's getting so big and walking now (not all the time)  I know I said this blog isn't about my kids (only) but I have to add some cute pix right?
This is a cool picture of my mom and her horse Monty.  Isn't he awesome?  My mom is what inspires me to live naturally and look out for me and my family's health and well being.