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Washing Cloth Diapers :: Detergent Decision Tool

“Does it matter what kind of detergent I use?”

This is one of the most common questions asked at our Cloth Diaper 101 workshops by new and expectant parents.

The answer is “yes,” but that doesn’t mean you’re specifically limited to a specific detergent. You just need to know what’s in the detergents you buy to determine their long-term effectiveness on your diapers. Since detergents that have fabric softeners, enzymes, or other additives can lead to residue build-up and leakage issues, it’s both helpful and necessary to know what ingredients make up your favorite laundry products. While we wholeheartedly vote for Rockin Green as THE detergent to use for cloth diapers, there are others that may work for you, too.

Enter the Detergent Determinator. This is a handy little tool put out by the Real Diaper Industry Association and for the most part, it’s quite helpful.

The strongest feature of this database is the customizable search function. You can search either by detergent name (e.g. Tide) or by detergent type. For example, you can search for a detergent that doesn’t have fragrance, is in liquid form, is suited for high efficiency washers, and is available in Canada. Once you receive your search functions, you can scroll through the list to compare and contrast the results according to their additives.

The only downside we’ve been able to find is that it’s not always easy to get search results by a name search. For example, we typed in “7th Generation” with no results, then “Seventh Generation” with no results, and finally just “Generation,” which finally populated a list and we realized that their exact spelling of the name is “Seventh (7th) Generation.” It also didn’t find every detergent we searched for, but overall we were very pleased with the thoroughness of the dozens upon dozens of detergents it does include in its database.

If you’d like to know what’s in your detergent or if you’d like to figure out which detergents will work best for you, check out the Detergent Decision Tool!

Cloth Diapers on Vacation :: Camping

Some may say that using cloth diapers when out in the wilderness is difficult, but given a bit of forethought and planning, it’s actually quite straightforward. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

What you’ll need:

Your diapers: Decide whether you want to wash diapers in the campsite or if you want to save everything for once you get home. Take along as many diapers as you normally use each day, plus two extra per day. You don’t want to run out! (Children also tend to drink more when they’re outdoors all day.)  Organic prefolds are definitely the most space-efficient and easiest to wash, with pockets as a close second.

Wipes: Calculate 1-2 wipes per change, so 2-3 dozen should cover your three day trip.

Suds: If you want to wash in the campsite, also pack some detergent. Rockin Green Laundry Detergent is biodegradable and camp-friendly.

Rope: You’ll need a clothesline! You can include clothespins if you so desire.

Campsite Storage: Bring a wetbag or waterproof pail liner large enough to hold all your dirties.  Or if you are car camping (and have space) you can bring a small rubbermaid tote to use as your diaper pail.  If you are in bear country make sure you are “bear aware” and either store your dirty diapers in your car or hang them from a bear pole, or something similarly safe. A small wetbag will help you manage your system if you do day hikes or spend time away from your campsite. This will provide you with an easy way to transport the dirties back to camp.

A basket, tote, or backpack: Keeping your clean diapers organized will keep you sane. If you’re car camping, stack them neatly in a basket or laundry tote. If you’re backpacking, group them in large Ziploc bags to keep them dry and pack them in your backpack. (In the backcountry, you have to pack out whatever you pack in anyway, including garbage, so using cloth rather than disposables is actually easier AND lighter. Bonus!)

It’s Change Time!
If there’s poop, deal with it before you put the diaper in the dirties’ bag. In camp, dump it in the outhouse. In the backcountry, bury it as you would your own.

With urine-only diapers, either toss directly in the bag or if it’s going to be several days before a wash, rinse them first. You can do this in any running water that is downstream from other campers (n.b. NOT a lake) – and in the backcountry, if you’ve got time to let them dry, you’ll lighten your load considerably.

How to wash in camp:
Take your diapers to the nearest stream or collect fresh water in a bucket. Sprinkle soap on the diaper and scrub away. (Again, if you’re at a stream, make sure you’re downstream from your water supply and other campers.) Then hang the diapers with any stains facing outward and you’ll have nicely sun-bleached diapers ready for use in a few hours. If you’ve got the luxury of time, hang two diapers together – they’ll dry more slowly but they won’t be so “crunchy” when they’re done.

A wash routine when you return home:
If you bring home several days-worth of diapers to wash, you don’t have to do much differently than your normal routine. Make sure you do a cold rinse cycle at the beginning, and throw in a ¼ cup vinegar in the final rinse cycle – this will both soften your diapers and help to rinse out any detergent.  They’ll be as good as new!

There – that’s all there is to it. Now you’ve both “saved” the environment and enjoyed the environment all at the same time.

Storage

Cloth Diapers on Vacation :: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

In two excellent recent guest posts, two moms have shared their experiences using cloth diapers while away from home.  With lots of families traveling in the summer months, here are a few of our tips for while you’re in transit. For ideas for washing when you arrive at your destination, check out this blog post from Karen, one of the N&G Mamas.

Regardless of what mode of travel you choose – air, land, or sea – storage is the biggest issue as you go. You obviously want to take as many diapers as possible while taking up as little space as possible! Good absorbency is also key since you may need to go several hours between changes.

Prefolds and pockets are a great way to satisfy both of these requirements, as are the new Flip diaper and the Babykicks organic fitted diaper. These various options take up the least amount of room, plus prefolds are very absorbent, especially if paired with a doubler, and pockets are very customizable in the amount of stuffing you put in them.

If you’re headed on a long plane trip, the Flip is a great option – the organic cotton inserts don’t take up much room or you have the option of using disposable, biodegradable inserts, in which case all you’ll have with you at the end of the day are the shells. Talk about saving space while still being environmentally-resposible!

If you’re traveling using a car seat, it’s especially important to have covers or diapers that have a good seal around the legs and back. The harness of a car seat tends to cram up against a diaper, so a well-fitting diaper cover ensures you won’t have any leaks over a period of several hours.

It can also be helpful to have a few diapers “locked and loaded.” When you’re on the go it can be hard to find a place to change  your baby, and it may be a juggling act even once you do find one. (Picture an airplane washroom or the floor on a jostling train.) If you have your diapers ready to go – prefolds folded inside a cover, pockets fully stuffed – your job will be much easier. Make sure your wipes and your wetbag are easily within reach before you start and the change should go as quickly and smoothly as is possible in such situations.

Oh, and one note about airplane trips – when packing your diapers, disperse them among different suitcases in case one gets delayed or lost. Then, take a few extra on the plane with you for the same reason. That way, you’ll never be without at least a few diapers on hand.

What to do with the poop?
If you’re in a washroom when you change, you can empty any solids into the toilet and then carefully fold and roll your diaper to contain any remaining mess. If you’re in a place where you won’t be able to get to a washroom for a bit, just roll up the diaper, put it in a small wetbag and empty the mess the next time you’re in a place where it’s easy to do so.

Don’t skimp on the wipes
Remember to bring an ample number of wipes with you in your carry-on or easily within reach in the diaper bag. These not only are great for bums, but they do double service to wipes hands, noses, and faces happy with ice cream. They can also serve as a great pick-me-up for you – bring a travel-size spray bottle with water and a bit of peppermint or lavender essential oil, spray some on a wipe, wipe your face with it, and you’ll be the most relaxed, confident, well-prepared mama on the road.

Want to Do Cloth from Day 1? :: Preparing for your Hospital Birth

If you’re a parent who wants to swaddle your newborn baby in cloth as early as possible in life, and your baby will be born ina hospital, consider taking cloth diapers with you.

There are a few good options for just-born newborns. Preemie-size prefolds paired with newborn Bummis covers are a convenient, easy-to-pack, inexpensive option and is a great option for nearly every newborn. The new TiniFit All-in-One is a great fitting, no-thought-required diaper, so it’s especially easy to use when you may feel a little fuzzy after the labour of labour! There’s also the extra-small Fuzzi Bunz Pocket Eiaper – so cute and especially great for smaller babies, such as preemies and multiples.

We also recommend bringing a few fleece diaper liners or Bio-Soft Liners. Meconium, the tar-like poo of the first couple of days, is quite sticky and it’s just easier to deal with when it’s on a liner. Liners makes clean-up easy.  Meconium will likely stain, just so you know, but the green-ish undertone of the inside of your diapers will disappear with an afternoon in the sun.

You won’t need many wipes, but bring along a few for the small messes you may encounter, maybe a dozen or so. Beyond that, you’ll just need a wetbag to transport the dirties home.

Oh, and one more thing to keep in mind. For the sake of being sanitary, all supplies provided to a patient must be used or disposed of. This applies to the disposable diapers some hospitals provide as well. It may seem odd to espouse disposables as the best environmentally-friendly option, but if the disposable diapers are going to end up in the landfill either way, it seems more practical to USE them first. And if you just can’t stand the thought of a disposable on your baby’s bum, consider taking them home to give them as gifts to someone else or passing them onto a service that provides supplies for families in need.

(As a side note, St. Paul’s in downtown Vancouver provides prefolds for in-hospital use to all maternity ward patients. Talk to your doctor or midwife to see if there’s anything special you need to bring.)

We wish you a safe, healthy delivery and many blessings on your journey with your new babe in arms!

Special Situations :: Preemies – Tiny Cloth Diapers for Tiny Bums

It’s easy to ooh and ahh over a newborn’s cute itty-bitty bum, but those ooh’s and aah’s can quickly subside if your diaper is leaking because it’s too big. What to do for your extra-small little one?

There are some excellent extra-small diapers on the market these days and all are both practical and fashionable.

For an easy, budget-conscience option, use preemie size organic cotton prefolds and lay them inside Newborn-size Bummis Super Brite Diaper Covers. These covers fit babies as small as four pounds, include a notch in the front to fit around the umbilical stump, and have a great reputation for containing every mess. This is an especially nice feature early in life when that gastro-colic reflex that makes your baby poo after every feed is in full swing.

You can also use Organic Bamboo Flat Inserts in your covers in place of prefolds. Bamboo offers greater absorbency than cotton and is extra-soft against your baby’s bum.

As a second variation of the prefold/cover combo, use small hemp-organic cotton Joey Bunz inserts inside a newborn size cover. They will provide ample absorbency for a small bladder, will catch all the messes, and best of all, require no folding. Joey Bunz are very versatile in their uses, so it’s great to have a few on hand for other diapering needs too!

There’s also the new TiniFit All-in-One diaper, and it’s a soft, well-crafted diaper out of Scotland. This diaper is convenient and easy to put on, as well as absorbent and very trim fitting. It features bamboo rayon, which is Oeko-tex certified, and the diaper itself is both ethically and sustainably produced. It fits newborns as small as five pounds. Definitely one of our favourites!

Pockets are a great way to go to get a trim fit as well. Extra-small FuzziBunz fit babies down to four pounds and offer the trimness and flexibility for which pockets are known. These are great diapers to use if you want the convenience of a diaper that goes on in one step, but want a diaper with variable levels of absorbency. This can be especially welcome if you have twins who pee differently – one who tinkles through the day and one who floods every few hours, for example.

Here’s to all the parents whose extra-small babies take up an extra-big place in their hearts!  What has your best solution been?  How did you figure out what would work well?

Swimming :: With a Lighter Footprint

With warmer weather and days at the pool just around the corner, it’s high time for a post on using cloth at the swimming pool.

Swimmi swim diapers offer all the protection you’ll need for summer pool parties and public pool outings. These swim diapers don’t require anything else to be used underneath them – like disposable swim diapers, they’re designed just to contain messes.

And contain they will! These swim diapers have extra-strong Aplix (think really strong Velcro) to ensure a snug fit around the waist and stretchy lycra to make sure there’s a snug fit around the legs. They’re also lined with a sports mesh to make mess clean-up simple. We just recommend sizing down, both to make sure you’ve got a good snug fit and because you don’t need to account for the bulkiness of a diaper underneath.

What we especially like is that they’re no-fuss. Just put them on like a wrap-style diaper cover, whether using them alone or under a swim suit (for the few public pools that require two layers of protection on babies).

A wet bag is another essential item for swim time. These waterproof bags are not only designed to carry dirty diapers home from a day’s outing, but also wet clothes, bathing suits, towels, and other swim gear. While you only need one swim diaper, consider in investing in several wet bags since they have so many uses – their usefulness will come in handy for years to come!

We love the functionality of Swimmis so much, we’d like to give one away.

Stay tuned to the blog tomorrow for details!

Saving Money :: Using Infant Prefolds Beyond 15 Lbs

For those who cloth diaper with a budget in mind, prefolds are always a lovely addition to your system. But then comes that day when you grab the Snappi to fasten the diaper and can’t quite reach the sides of the prefold around your baby’s waist…

But no need to put those prefolds into storage quite yet! You can extend your savings by putting your outgrown prefolds to use in other diapering capacities.

Here are 4 great ideas:

  1. If you’re someone who uses pocket diapers, consider using your outgrown prefolds to stuff inside your pocket. Prefolds offer substantial absorbency, which is especially welcome as your baby grows (and pees more and more heavily) or for nighttime use. Also, for those wanting to use more natural fibres in your diapering routine, both hemp and organic cotton prefolds add that “natural edge” to your synthetic pockets.
  2. Outgrown prefolds can also be tri-folded and laid in a wrap-style cover to extend their life. This is a GREAT way to save money, as covers and prefolds are a very cost effective way to cloth diaper and it most certainly extends the length of time infant prefolds can be used on your baby.
  3. Another prefold idea is to lay a tri-folded infant-size prefold on top of your larger sized prefolds to work as a booster. This is definitely a super-absorbent option, but it’s rather bulky and will make your child look like the Weeble-Wobble toys of yore, so it’s an option best utilized at nighttime or on road trips, when a trim bottom end is not a priority.
  4. Even once they’re outgrown, having a few infant prefolds on hand as diapering accessories are very handy. They’ll serve you well as change pads on-the-go, big wipes for big messes, or as a protective cover for your boy who tends to pee during diaper changes.

Use your imagination… prefolds have a multitude of uses!

Saving money and being frugal is an art in this day and age – we hope your decision to cloth diaper has helped your family to feel satisfied in knowing you’ve saved significantly through your baby’s diapering years!

Changing a Newborn :: Yes, That Many Times!

One of the questions we are asked most often at our popular Cloth Diaper 101 Workshops is “How many diapers will I really need?” And what surprises most new parents is that they’ll need to count on using about ten diapers a day in the early newborn days. Yes – newborns pee and poo that many times each day! The old adage about “what goes in must come out” really holds true…

So, what do diaper changes look like in those early days?

Since you’ll be changing your baby often – including when you’re groggy in the middle of the night – it’s important to have plenty of diapers and covers on hand so that you don’t have to spend time scrounging up what you need right at diaper changing time or run short just before laundry time. It’s really a pain to have to hand-wash a cover in the middle of the night or have to dig through the diaper bag to find that one last clean diaper while your baby is crying on the change pad. Have everything ready and at hand and the experience will be a downright pleasant one.

Also, your midwife, family doctor, or pediatrician will likely want to know how many times a day your baby is peeing and pooing. These are indications of how your baby’s system is settling into life outside the womb and can be important indicators of how well your baby is feeding. Since disposable diapers absorb and wick away your baby’s pees, it can often be difficult to tell when your baby has voided, but with cloth it is much easier to know, so one could even argue that cloth diapers contribute to the health and well-being of your infant!

We also recommend (read: highly recommend) using liners for your newborn, especially in the first few weeks of life. Newborn poo, as well as meconium, can really stain like the dickens, so in order to keep stains to a minimum, just line your diapers with fleece or silk (or even an extra cloth wipe if you’re in a pinch).  And if you do have some staining after your routine washing, remember that the sun will do wonders at removing bio-stains!

We hope your journey through the early days of babyhood is a joyful one – and even more, we hope your choice to cloth diaper makes the experience even more satisfying. Let us know if there are any ways we can help you through this time of change and discovery!

For more tips on diapering your newborn, check out what we used with our first child.

CHANGING A NEWBORN :: YES, THAT MANY TIMES!

One of the questions we are asked most often at our popular Cloth Diaper 101 Workshops is “How many diapers will I really need?” And what surprises most new parents is that they’ll need to count on using about ten diapers a day in the early newborn days. Yes – newborns pee and poo that many times each day! The old adage about “what goes in must come out” really holds true…

So, what do diaper changes look like in those early days?

Since you’ll be changing your baby often – including when you’re groggy in the middle of the night – it’s important to have plenty of diapers and covers on hand so that you don’t have to spend time scrounging up what you need right at diaper changing time or run short just before laundry time. It’s really a pain to have to hand-wash a cover in the middle of the night or have to dig through the diaper bag to get the one last clean diaper while your baby is crying on the change pad. Have everything ready and at hand and the experience will be a downright pleasant one.

Also, your midwife, family doctor, or pediatrician will likely want to know how many times a day your baby is peeing and pooing. These are indications of how your baby’s system is settling into life outside the womb and can be important indicators of how well your baby is feeding. Since disposable diapers absorb and wick away your baby’s pees, it can often be difficult to tell when your baby has voided, but with cloth it is much easier to know, so one could even argue that cloth diapers contribute to the health and well-being of your infant!

We also recommend (read: highly recommend) using liners for your newborn, especially in the first few weeks of life. Newborn poo, as well as meconium, can really stain like the dickens, so in order to avoid using copious amounts of stain remover and to keep stains to a minimum, just line your diapers with fleece or silk (or even an extra cloth wipe if you’re in a pinch).

We hope your journey through the early days of babyhood is a joyful one – and even more, we hope your choice to cloth diaper makes the experience even more satisfying. Let us know if there are any ways we can help you through this time of change and discovery!

For more tips on diapering your newborn, check out what we used with our first child.

Special Situations :: Eczema Considerations and Care

For those of you who struggle with a baby with extra sensitive skin, eczema, or chronic diaper rash, we feel your pain.  Caring for babies who are constantly itchy, sore, or suffering from open wounds can be a form of torture all its own and is often miserable for both you and your child.

The good news is that cloth diapers can significantly help. Depending on the condition, cloth diapers can either minimize the frequency and severity of outbreaks or can completely clear up some skin irritations. Here are a few ways to keep your baby’s skin as healthy and comfortable as possible.

Use natural fibres. The most important part of getting the skin to heal and not become irritated is to allow air to get to the skin. Thus, the breathability of your diaper is of utmost importance. Any cloth diaper will offer significantly more breathability than a disposable, but even within the range of cloth diapers available, diapers with natural fibres will allow much more breathability than diapers with synthetic materials. Some especially good choices are organic prefolds, (available in both unbleached cotton and hemp), Kissaluvs cotton fitted diaper, BabyKicks organic cotton/hemp one-size fitted, and the Bamboozle bamboo fitted diaper.

Use wool covers. Wool is the champion of natural fibres and offers the best breathability cloth diapering can offer. Especially at night or at naptime when you can’t change the diaper as often, wool is an excellent option for allowing air to get to the skin and helping the skin stay dry. Getting air to the skin keeps yeast and other bacteria at bay, as well as it also dries out the uric acid and other irritants that can badly inflame the skin.

There are many more reasons why we love wool, but we’ve taken up excessively long posts singing wool’s praises before, so we’ll refrain from doing so again here….

Change often and allow for diaper-free time. Change your baby often – even more often than it seems necessary – just to keep Baby clean and dry. Make sure that once you wipe your baby down, you leave the skin exposed to the air until it’s completely dry before closing up the diaper. It can also be a great help to give your baby “diaper free time” a few times a day, especially if it’s sunny. Just lay out a blanket on the floor (maybe an extra-large blanket if you have a boy…) and let the baby play while his or her skin is left to dry and heal. Air and sunshine on an irritated bum can work wonders!

Protect if necessary. While making sure skin stays dry is the best way to heal, there are times when you just need to slather on a salve to calm and heal a major outbreak. In that case, Bum Bum Balm is an excellent naturally-derived and locally-produced diapering salve to soothe your little one’s bum. We just recommend in this case that you use a liner inside your diapers to keep the salve from coating the diaper’s fibres, which could decrease their performance until dealt with.

Lastly, we love to learn from other parents – do you have a tried-and-true solution to healing a baby’s bum or a diapering product that has helped you? If so, we’d love to hear from you!

Making the Switch :: Recommendations for Families Transitioning from Disposables

Disposable diapers certainly have their time and place. And certainly no one can argue that the increased use of disposables over the course of the last few decades has changed our culture and society in regards to baby-raising.

That said, there are obvious reasons to choose cloth diapers as well and many families are making the switch from disposables to cloth. Here are a few suggestions to make the transition as smooth, easy, and successful as possible.

1. Choose diapers that are as convenient as disposables. The ever-popular bumGenius, the AMP All-in-One diaper, and the new EasyFit All-in-One Diapers are all “baby shaped” like a disposable, offer velcro closures (just like the tabs on a disposable), and are easy and intuitive to deal with once they’re dirty. Many also feature a “stay-dry” layer of fleece or suedecloth to make sure that the fabric next to Baby’s skin stays dry. All in all, these diapers definitely help eliminate frustration and confusion through the transition period!

2. Do what makes it easy for you. Some parents find it easiest to “ease into” the new way of doing things over the course of a few weeks. Others prefer to dive in and make the change all at once. Whichever way you choose, just choose the way that makes it as smooth and stress-free for you as possible.

If you’re of the “easing into it” persuasion, perhaps start with just using cloth two or three times a day at home, then use cloth exclusively during the day, then add in cloth at nighttime, and then use them during all your outings. Easing into it can help overcome the psychological barrier of “this is going to be hard!” even though parents usually find – even over the course of just a few days – how easy cloth diapering really can be.

If you’re of the “diving in” persuasion, just make sure you’ve got plenty of diapers on hand and you’re all set! You’ll get your new rhythm down in no time.

3. Talk to your partner and other caregivers. Sometimes different parents need different amounts of time to transition. If you’re in this situation, agree perhaps that one parent will “make the switch” first and become the “expert” in the family and can then help the other parent get started. Or perhaps agree that for a certain period of time, each parent can reach for which ever type of diaper he or she so chooses – a disposable at one change and cloth the next, let’s say.

In other families, both parents prefer to make the journey together to discover what works best for them. Whichever way works best for you, keep the lines of communication open and have fun doing it. Remember this process is all about doing what is best for you, your baby, and your family – and having fun is ALWAYS good for everyone involved!

Here’s to a happy, easy, successful transition!

Are you a family in the Lower Mainland wanting to make the switch? We have a couple of programs for you!  Our most popular pre-switch strategy used is attending a Cloth Diaper 101 Workshop with one of our expert leaders.  The second sought after transitioning tool is our Cloth Diaper Tester Program where you can “test the waters” with cloth diapering for a couple of weeks without the finality of commitment.