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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Cloth Diaper Review

The first time I was introduced to cloth diapering systems was 8 months ago.  Jonah was about 6 months old and I was seeking to increase my milk supply.  I went to this great little store in Huntsville called A Nurturing Moment, because my friend Kimberly worked there at the time and suggested I come in and speak with their owner/lactation consultant (Glenni - who is amazing and was very helpful). While she was with another customer, Kimberly showed me how cloth diapers worked.  I was very intrigued, but I knew we had a lot going on at the time, and I wasn't ready to jump in.  I also knew that my wonderful husband was not going to be interested in this new endeavor at all.  So, I put it on the back burner.  Now, in preparation for not having a job for an unknown amount of time, while we get ready for Baby #2, I decided it was time to invest in some cloth diapers and get used to using them in order to save money in the long run.  I also started to feel very guilty about the amount of diapers and wipes we are contributing to landfill waste.  Did you know it takes between 250-500 YEARS for each diaper to decompose?  That's a rather awful toll be putting on our planet, especially when our guy averages 7-9 diapers a day now, and we are having a newborn in January, who will go through several per day as well.

So, I did some research, and used all the information in this article from the Simple Mom (including links to other posts in the series) to ultimately decide on my very first cloth diaper purchase.  I bought my first order from Kelly's Closet just because I only wanted to make ONE purchase instead of using multiple sites to get things from initially while I tried some things out.  You may be able to find them cheaper elsewhere.  I was a little tired and overwhelmed with searching.

This is what I bought:

One Fuzzibunz Wetbag

One Fuzzibunz Size  Large Pocket Diaper that came with one microfiber insert

One BumGenius One Size Pocket Diaper that came with 2 inserts - one for newborn size and one for bigger babies

One Bummis Super Bright Cover size Large (I think this one is actually a little too big)

A Pack of 6 Bummis Organic Unbleached Cotton Prefolds
Modeled on the Fisher Price Monkey

A package of 3 Size 1 Snappies (they were out of the 2 snappy package or I would've gotten that one - see above picture on the Monkey)

As a bonus for spending so much money shopping there, I got a free Flip Diaper with one flat.

My boss' sweet wife also sews her own cloth diapers and sent over some of their used ones to try, so starting out I had a stash of enough diapers (the flip with the prefolds worked well too) to basically get us through an evening before having to go back to disposable diapers for nap and bedtime, and maybe one extra diaper a day. However, I had to do laundry every single day before we could use them again.
Unfortunately, I did not read about pre-washing the new diapers, and so I jumped straight into using them and Jonah did get a pretty bad red rash.  We went back to disposables for about 3 days while it cleared up and I washed all of the new cloth diapers 3 times (so that made a total of 5 washes - each with an extra rinse). You most certainly SHOULD wash your brand new diapers 4-5 times before using them.  At first I only used Soap Nuts (4 in a little pouch gets about 3 washes before I need to put new ones in), and they worked very well!  If the diapers went more than 24 hours being dirty, and there was a poopy one, then I put 1/4 cup of plain white vinegar in at the beginning of the wash cycle.  Then I dry the inserts and prefolds in the dryer and hang/line dry the actual diapers.  As far as I can tell it is OK to dry the cloth diapers in the dryer, it just shortens their PUL lifespan of being waterproof, and since I am planning on using all of these at least 2 more years, I have decided to do whatever I can to lengthen their lifespan.

I tried using just prefolds and the flip and bummis cover for a few days, but this made him break out.  I think some babies respond better to cotton than others.  Whatever lines the pocket diapers is fine, but the cotton prefolds seem to hold too much moisture next to his skin.  It is also difficult to put on him right now, so I have them put away for baby girl.  I have not tried the cotton prefolds with the disposable diaper liners though, I think that may work better.

Then Jonah peed out of 2 diapers in one day and John was pretty annoyed about it because both times, he just happened to be holding the sweet little guy who got pee all over his arm/shirt, so I got online and did more research to figure out to keep him dry.  I decided that Jonah would be classified as a "Heavy Wetter" even during the daytime (the kid does like to drink a lot of water - which is great for his system, not so great for diapers), and in an interesting turn of events I learned that cloth made from Bamboo is actually the most absorbent.  I then got on ebay and bought all of this stuff:

4 Kawaii One Size Pocket Diapers that came with 2 Microfiber Inserts each

1 Alvababy Bamboo lined Pocket Diaper that came with 2 Bamboo inserts

10 pack of Alva Bamboo inserts - sorry no picture, but they are beige in color and look very similar to the bamboo inserts that came with the Alva diaper above.

10 pack of Charcoal 5 layer Bamboo/Cotton/Microfiber inserts

I promptly washed all of the new materials with my next load of dirty diapers and just did one wash on tap cold with an extra rinse and a splash of vinegar, then left them in the washing machine when they finished and did another wash on hot with an extra rinse and fresh soap nuts.  I decided this was good with those extra rinses, and we tried them all out.

Here was my "Ah-Ha Moment:"

BAMBOO is Awesome! It really is amazingly absorbent!  I put one bamboo insert on top of one microfiber insert in each of his pocket diapers and it kept him SO dry and rash free!!! Yay! I found it fascinating that each time I changed him and pulled out the inserts, (before putting them on my baby, I put the bamboo layered insert closest to the front of the diaper/the pee pee, and then the microfiber layer closest to the back side of the diaper) the bamboo layer would feel almost dry and the microfiber layer would feel completely soaked.  I am calling this "Mommy Science Class" and loving it. I totally think some teachers could use these examples in school science explanations of density maybe/absorbency or something.  I don't know, but it's Cool!

Some things I have learned:

1. I suck at folding prefolds on my wiggling, impatient 28 pound toddler.  The snappy is harder to use than it looks with one hand.  I do like using the prefolds inside of the flip diaper though, and have gotten some more flip-type diapers so I can use the prefolds I have more often.  Maybe our newborn will be easier with this process. I think I also need the size 2 snappy for this big boy!

2. I like the pocket diapers a LOT! I have not been able to choose a favorite between BumGenius, Kawaii, Alva, and FuzziBunz.  I find them equally useful.  BumGenius seem a little less poofy, so his butt doesn't look quite so booty-licious, and I have since bought 7 more of them. However, the Kawaii, Alva and FuzziBunz both have 3 snaps as opposed to 2 (one for the leg opening I guess), and this seems to make them fit more snug for sleeping. I have recently ordered some SunBaby diapers as well, but they haven't come in yet.

3.  I like the bamboo liners inside the pocket diapers more than the pocket diapers with just microfiber.

4.  Disposable Diaper Liners are the BEST investment for cloth diapering!  This makes throwing away the poo super easy.  Instead of trying to dump the poo in the toilet then giving the diaper a "swirly," now most of the poo stays on the liner, and I can just flush the poo and liner together! GET THEM! This was the kind I was given by a friend, and they worked wonderfully.  I am going to try a different brand next time because these seem a little scratchy, so maybe a softer one would be better for the booty.

I read these two lists/instruction posts (a ton of different recipes and further review on why you use different ingredients on making your own cloth wipes solution and I made this:

Cloth wipes solution:
2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 teaspoons baby wash
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 drizzle eucalyptus peppermint massage oil
(I had no true "Essential oils" available)

However, the coconut oil kept on solidifying in the spray bottle (duh, Kelly), and so I just added 2 tablespoons of olive oil and kept shaking it up every time I used it. I later also added a few drops of Tea Tree Oil, and this stuff seems to be very moisturizing and great for his skin! No more rashes! Yay!  I cut up a few old t-shirts and receiving blankets and they work fine as cloth wipes along with the set of Fuzzibunz fleece wipes.  I keep the solution in a spray bottle and spray the cloth then wipe the kid, and toss the wipe in the wet bag. This is definitely better and far more moisturizing for his skin than disposable wipes.

I have also begun to line dry the inserts as well, because it helps them to smell fresher.  I alternate between SoapNuts and Seventh Generation laundry detergent for all of the cloth diapers.

I'll update you on the process once we have a newborn as well! I have purchased a few size 1 SunBaby and Alva girly pocket diapers I can't wait to use!

So, I'm still a newb at this after only one kid/3 months, therefore PLEASE feel free to comment and tell me what works well for you!  What's your favorite brand?  Any tips on prefold-ing older/wiggly kids?

How Parenting has Changed my Prayer Life

I guess it makes sense that at different times in our lives, our prayers will change according to our situation.  However, I have noticed recently just how much parenting has changed my prayers, and I am so thankful for how God has used Jonah to change my heart.

The biggest change has to be the amount of time I pray for my parents and my in-laws.  My little guy is 17 months old, and totally in love with all 5 of his grandparents.  He calls them all either "Nana" or "PawPaw" gender accordingly, and he knows the driveway of all of their homes, and recognizes them in pictures.  He will point at people who look like them and proclaim, "Nana!" or "PawPaw!"  This is a video of him looking for them while we were on our trip:

I love my parents and my in-laws, but now I value their lifespan SO MUCH MORE!  I want Jonah and Karis and all of our future children, to grow up with all 5 of their grandparents for as long as possible.  I pray for their health, physical and spiritual, far more than before I had a child.  Watching Jonah love his grandparents makes me love and appreciate all of them more, too.  Being a parent also gives me a greater appreciation for all the things our parents went through with us!

The other thing I notice, is that I pray for change in myself in order to be a better parent.  As a teacher, I prayed for all of my students by name daily on the way to school, and I would say something at the end like, "Please help me to love them and teach them the way they can learn the best."  As a parent, I pray, "God change my heart to be less selfish, to give more patience, more grace, to be the kind of parent you want me to be."  I think that whenever I go back to teaching, I will certainly still pray for my students, but I will continue to pray more for God to change MY heart more than my students, to make me the kind of teacher He wants me to be.

I think the most important change in my parent's perspective prayer life, is the way I pray for my husband.  John is a wonderful father and husband, but I used to pray very generally for him "Help him to be more patient," etc.  Now, I have made my prayers so much more specific for our lives, thanking God more for all the ways John is awesome, and praying God will help him with the exact things that he struggles with, and that the Lord will show me how I can help my husband.
In the morning, when a cheerful 27 pounds isn't that bad.
That afternoon he had to carry him for just over an hour like this while he slept.
Super Daddy!
This is one of those posts that I don't really know if it will help others, but that I need to take note of in my life to remember things the Lord is teaching me now.  Some days parenting is very difficult, but most days I feel very blessed to have this opportunity to mold and shape little people, who in turn, mold and shape me.

Speaking of "shaping," the third trimester has officially begun and Karis is growing and moving constantly!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Things I Learned in September

I love linking up with other friendly bloggers over at Chatting at the Sky with Mrs. Emily Freeman, however the last few months have been so crazy that I was unable to blog as much, and did not do an August "What I learned" post or much of anything web-wise in September.  So this will be shorter than most of my other monthly posts, but I just wanted to catch up some friends and family and remember this hectic but memorable season.

1.  Baby #2 is a Girl!

2.  Traveling with a 16 month old is just as difficult as traveling with a 4 month old.  Last year around this time we went to Boston and Jonah made us realize that traveling with a baby is COMPLETELY different than traveling alone or as a couple.  We thought it might be better if he was a little older, and so we attempted it again.  Not so much.

We broke down and got him a backpack leash.
3.  Out of the 3 biggest cities I've had a chance to really tour (Boston, New York City, and Washington D.C.), I am positive that D.C. is my favorite.  The layout of the city is very pretty, with gorgeous architecture, not crazy sky-high buildings, and has plenty of natural grass, trees, and, open spaces to make it not feel quite so concrete-jungle-ish as the other cities.  The Metro system of public transportation in D.C. and Virginia is also much faster, cleaner, and easier to navigate than the Subway, the T-Line, the PATH trains, and the AmTrack.
Jonah is photo bombing our picture. :)

Walking to the metro one morning.
4.  After touring so many big cities, I am also sure that I am not the kind of person who could live in one permanently.  I like open space, sky, nature, peace and quiet, and friendly smiles as opposed to blank stares and buildings.

5.  The Pennsylvania Dutch Amish people are fascinating to learn about, cook very delicious foods, and made our stay in Lancaster, PA, a very pleasant experience.

6.  Jonah prefers to stand rather than sit whenever given the option.  This made the open-air train ride in Lancaster very agreeable to him, as well as the Hop-On Hop-Off tour in D.C. in the open-top bus. However, if you are holding his hand he will become "boneless" and drop to his knees rather than walk nicely beside you.  "Terrible twos" have begun about 7 months early.  I'm hoping they will end early, too! (I know this is not likely, but I enjoy the hope.)

7.  Confessing, repenting, and working toward conquering sin with someone to help you and pray for you is much better than quietly trying to hide it, ignore it, fix it alone, or shove it into a dark place and hope no one ever finds it.

8.  Leg cramps in the second trimester are no joke.  Water, bananas, and lots of stretching can help.

9.  Cloth diapers are going well, but are difficult to use while travelling because you MUST wash them after 2 days.  We are kind of off and on with them right now.  When we get home next week I will finish my full review on all the brands we have tried and how successful it has been.

10.  We are so blessed with great friends!  This 3 week trip has only been possible because we've able to stay in the homes of gracious friends about 75% of the time.  We have stayed with a couple with no kids, a single friend, and a couple with a child, and met up to hang out with other friends along the way, and they have all been oh SO gracious and kind and welcoming to our family. I wish I had thought to get a picture with all of our sweet hosts.  It has been such a blessing and a great time to hang out with friends again after being so lonely down in Wabo.
Surprise Baby Shower with friends I hadn't seen in a long time!