If you read last week’s post on A Short History of Diapering in America, you know that I’m both a history nerd and a cloth diapering geek–which make me wonder about obscure subjects. Like diaper rash in colonial times, Native American treatments for mastitis, and midwives in the wild west. I’m pretty sure no one else does that!
I’ve struggled with cloth diapering at night with my children, but then wondered how all those moms dealt with it when there weren’t any other options. My son had a massive bladder that couldn’t be stopped by even the thickest diaper. Both he and my daughter both had recurrent yeast infections or night wakings that I attributed to cloth. Sure enough, when we switched to disposables, the problems cleared up. Still, I hate buying disposables and feel so sad tossing them into the trash.
In my research I learned that in the early 1900′s, women started boiling their diapers while doing the laundry. They had a greater awareness of bacteria and sterilization and used the scalding hot water to prevent diaper rash.
Many readers recommended that I boil our diapers to kill the yeast that was causing infection, but I didn’t really want to haul out the pasta pot on a weekly basis to sterlize my dirty diapers.
As we found in our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, most washing machines don’t reach the necessary hot water temperature to fully sterilize diapers, since most don’t have built in heaters. Because of that, we recommend actually washing in cold water to save energy. The temperature that the diapers reach in the dryer actually help kill bacteria–and they can be stripped in hot water every so often to be sure that laundry soap doesn’t build up.
Still, if you are having yeast problems with nighttime diapering, and you do have a sterilizing cycle on your washing machine, it’s worth trying it out.
I may try dumping boiling water on my diapers in the bathtub and just soaking them for awhile. If I then try cloth diapering at night and don’t have the yeast issues, history will have rescued me!
Here’s another question: Did people in the 1960′s still boil their diapers? I would assume that after the invention of the washing machine, people didn’t resort to this sort of laundering technique. Since most people used cloth, did everyone just have more information about how to prevent yeast infections?
On Wednesday, I will share the wealth of tips I’ve gotten to help deal with yeast infections at night. In the past, I honestly felt too tired to trouble shoot, but now that my baby is sleeping through the night, I think I can take on a few suggestions!
We blush with happiness whenever people write to us with questions and quickly scramble to find answers. This week we’re calling on all our readers to help lend their input on the following email question.
I pack a lunch for my preschooler nearly every day, and for myself at least two days a week. But I’m not happy with the drinks that go with these lunches. I either bring or buy a single-serving beverage — and it bugs me to pay almost $2 for a small bottle of milk.
I pack juice boxes for my daughter, but she’s had some trouble with her teeth and I would love to get away from all this juice. And of course, we’re throwing away these bottles and boxes at the end of each day.
I have lunchboxes, tupperware, water bottles, and I’m even considering getting some cloth bags to replace ziplock baggies. But I haven’t found a set of reusable beverage containers for our lunches. I’d love to hear how (okay, if) you and your readers have addressed this problem.
I’d love to find a set of beverage containers, ideally in two sizes, that I can fill with milk or some other drink and pack into our lunch boxes. I realize I may have to repurpose something; I’ve toyed with the idea of getting one of those packs of Starbucks Frappuccinos just for the glass bottles, but I’m not sure how well they’ll hold up.
Do you have any suggestions?”
I’ll give my input below, but please share yours too!
I think your idea about reusing Frappucino bottles is excellent! They’d probably hold up for years and if they do break or get lost, you haven’t wasted any money in the process. I’ve done the same thing with Snapple bottles. I just put them in the dishwasher along with our glasses and they come out perfectly clean and ready for action.
At our house the kids each have one Nalgene sippy cup (which my 4 year old still uses) as well as one Camelbak Kid’s Bottle with a straw. Maybe because I’m really boring, I just fill them up with water for my son’s lunch each day and it’s so much easier! I just have to rinse the bottles and I can just rotate between the two of them.
For my hydration needs, I have the Nathan Stainless Steel Flip Straw Water Bottle and I absolutely love it. It’s easy to load up with ice, easy to clean, and easy to use. For more ravings read my Best Stainless Steel Water Bottle post.
Please pitch in with your water bottle experiences!
I’m a history teacher and a cloth diaper geek. As such, I’ve spent far too much time wondering just how everyone diapered their babies in different eras of American history. In fact, in my research for this piece I came up with several other upcoming post ideas including the history of potty training in America and a brief explanation of how people diaper their children in other cultures. I tried to make this short, but there was too much fascinating information!
Obviously, Native Americans were the first to deal with diapering on the continent and their solutions were environmentally ideal. In warmer climates, babies went without pants and potty trained early while in colder climates Indigenous people used a disposable diaper that was fully biodegradable—and completely free. They packed milkweed with peat moss or grasses, or sometimes filled animal skins with similar contents. The result? A diaper that could be easily left behind to break down into the soil in just a few weeks.
In pioneer days, wet diapers weren’t washed. They were simply hung to dry in front of the fire. Imagine cooking your family’s meal over the campfire and the mixed odors of stew, wood smoke and dried urine!
Cloth diapering continued for decades without many innovations until mothers started entering the work force in World War II. Diaper services sprang up around the country to meet their needs. The invention of the washing machine in the early fifties also made cloth diapering far more convenient.
In 1950, Mrs. Hellerman, the owner of a diaper service, invented a pre-folded diaper with extra layers in the center. The fold was sewn into the diaper and now we have our beloved prefold diapers that are still popular today.
Marion Donovan, a housewife who was desperate for an easier diapering solution, invented the first disposable diaper in the late 1940’s. She cut her shower curtain into envelopes into which she stuffed conventional cloth diapers and called them “Boaters.” The cover closed with plastic snaps, eliminating the need for diaper pins. No manufacturer would support her, so she sold her product directly to department stores. Eventually she converted the design to thick absorbent paper and the disposable diaper was born. She later sold her company for one million dollars.
The sixties took disposable diapers into the mainstream, a movement which continued into the seventies as women continued to move into careers outside the home.
Just two decades ago, cloth started making a comeback as parents started to question the environmental impact of disposable diapers. Plus, with innovative new features like Velcro and snap closures, pocket diaper inserts, and various diaper liners, cloth diapering became more convenient and appealing than ever before. Other greener options such as hybrid diapers with disposable inserts and compostable diapers also hit the market.
Although disposables have only really been around for fifty years, many scientists believe that they’ll take up to 500 years to decompose. That means that those first diapers invented by Marion Donovan won’t have broken down by the end of your great, great granchildren’s lives. On a happier note, who knows what kind of crazy innovations we’ll have made in natural diapering by then. Perhaps we’ll be using a newfangled product made of milkweed and stuffed with peat moss—and finding the best combination of convenience and conservation.
Stay tuned for an upcoming post on the history of potty training in America!
After the holidays, we’re generally stocked on fulfilling memories and stale sugar cookies–but not so much on cash. If you’re looking to slim down your January budget, we have several vintage posts with earth friendly, budget friendly tips.
You have to eat, right? If you’d love to spend just $175 per month on your groceries, while buying mostly organic food, you have to check out Rebecca’s post on Saving Money on Organic Groceries.
If your baby is on solids, you can save hundreds of dollars with DIY organic baby purees–and you won’t need fancy equipment or loads of extra time.
Laundry is another unavoidable budget item, but we do have a recommendation for the least expensive green laundry detergent. (It happens to be quite effective too!)
If your body is transitioning into or out of pregnancy, buy secondhand maternity clothes or opt for a secondhand postpartum transition wardrobe. Why spend hundreds of dollars on clothes you’ll only be wearing for a matter of months?
Speaking of transitional wardrobes, really all of baby’s clothes during her first year will be worn for a very short period of time. We’ll give you the insider scoop on going green by buying used baby clothes.
And while you’re happily saving hundreds, you may not realize that all this frugality has secondary benefits for your family and your overall quality of life. We’re big believers in the long term rewards of under indulgence.
Just how much money did we save going green on a budget? Each of our families saved nearly six thousand dollars in our babies’ first year alone. Our new book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide shares a detailed account of our frugal, green adventures. Read it for free at your local library or see if your doctor’s office would be willing to pick up a copy for their lending library. Even if you do shell out a whopping $13.50 for your own copy on Amazon, you’ll see your family’s personal savings far exceed the cost.
Are you cutting back this January? I have to confess that we’ve been gifted with a frequent flyer mile ticket to Hawaii for a family reunion for late this month. So while we’re looking forward to the fun, we’re also using our frugal skills to their fullest this month in preparation for some upcoming splurges. (Shave ice, snorkeling, and sushi!) That’s what frugality is all about to me——being purposeful with saving so that when it comes time to spend, we’re ready!
The Chinese prefolds I’ve used are legendary for the many baby bottoms they kept dry over the years. Those very worn cotton prefolds were purchased secondhand, used by my son, passed onto another baby, and then swaddled my daughter. Finally, I gave the surviving few away to another new mom while the rest are used as kitchen rags. While the prefolds were incredibly sturdy, I didn’t have the same luck with the wraps. Although I purchased them new, the velcro is worn and pulls away from the seams a bit more with each use. (I know I could repair the cloth diaper velcro, but my daughter is just months away from potty training so I think we’ll just wait it out.)
I now think snaps are the key to cloth diaper longevity. My Fuzzy Buns Pocket Diapers still function quite well after diapering two children for a number of years and they look pretty spiffy too! The velcro all-in-one cloth diapers I’ve borrowed from friends haven’t fared as well. (By the way, if you have no idea what all this cloth diapering lingo means, you’re not alone. We actually wrote The Eco-nomical Baby Guide to support people who want to learn about cloth diapering, buying used and buying less. If you can’t buy it or find it for free at your local library, check out our quick run down on cloth diaper vocabulary.)
Has anyone tried Motherease Cloth Diapers? I’ve heard rave reviews about their sturdy construction and long life. Imse Vimse Cloth Diapers also have a loyal following, but both of these brands are extremely expensive. Do they pay off if used for multiple children?
Please let our readers know if you have a wonderful cloth diaper brand that has survived years of wear and keeps on going. Did you buy or inherit secondhand cloth diapers–or was it worth investing in new ones?
In The Eco-nomical Baby Guide we write about how we each saved nearly six thousand dollars on baby’s first year by going green. How is this possible? We stuck to the reduce, reuse, recycle mantra—with an emphasis on reduce. We didn’t buy wipes warmers or matching crib linens. We passed on the vibrating baby beds and even bassinets. What happened? Absolutely nothing. Our babies are completely well adjusted and we didn’t blow a whole lot of money on something that was needed for just a few months. What did you pass up? Inspire those moms who are burdened with giant baby registry lists!
Happy birthday to us! We’re celebrating three years of blogging (as of last Friday) by reviewing our top ten posts of all time here on the Green Baby Guide. Now, according to our stats, A Fan of Fans has the most views of any post, but we chalk that up to a Googling fluke. So how to do we measure the success of a post? By the reception it gets from you, our dedicated readers! Here are the top ten most-commented-upon posts of all time!*
Four of our most popular posts were about . . . you guessed it: diapers
#10, tied with 23 comments each:
#9, with 25 comments:
#8, with 26 comments:
#7, with 31 comments:
#6, with 32 comments:
#5, tied with 33 comments each:
#4, with 34 comments
#3, tied with 37 comments each
#2, with 46 action-packed comments, is this recent post:
#1, the most popular post of all time, with 54 comments, is. . .
What do you make of these most commented-upon posts? Any trends you see? Four of the thirteen posts mentioned here are about diapers. Four are about washing dishes or doing laundry. Other than that, the topics that elicit the most comments are all over the map.
Thank you, dear readers, for reading our posts and commenting on them! We’ll aspire to more comment-inspiring posts for 2011!
*Not including giveaway posts, which can receive up to 300 comments.
Wooden play kitchens have gone mainstream! Just a few years ago, I couldn’t find a wood child’s play kitchen for under $250. (I’ll admit I didn’t look too hard after my initial search proved so disappointing.) So what did I do? I picked up something similar to this Alex Toys In My Kitchen Set at a consignment shop for $12, tricked it out with some IKEA pots and pans, and voila! I had an inexpensive little play kitchen for my child. (Here’s the original post I wrote about this slap-dash effort at creating an affordable wooden play kitchen.)
This year I looked around and found several darling wooden kitchens, many of which were under or around $100!
Alex Toys in My Kitchen Set $53.85
Maxim Wooden Kitchen Center $98.98
Educo My Creative Cookery Club $104.64
Kidkraft Suite Elite Kitchen $109.99
KidKraft Silver Retro Kitchen $169.99
Does your child play with any of these wooden kitchens? How do they hold up in real life?
Looking for more wooden gift ideas? Check out last year’s post: wooden toys for babies and youngsters.
Pregnant women need pampering. Why? Because when their feet are massaged, when their tongues are bathed in dark chocolate, and when they are immersed in honey bubble bath, their babies are enjoying an atmosphere of relaxation and contentment as well. Those bambinos will be getting piles of presents in the months to come, but new and expectant moms deserve some special thought as well.
After trolling the Internet for the perfect gifts (and remembering my own pregnancy cravings), here’s what I came up with:
The Microwaveable Flax Seed Filled Neck Pillow or Momma Earth Herbals Aromatherapy Packs are perfect solutions for driving away winter chill while luxuriating in relaxation. (Please consider a few free foot massage coupons to accompany these lovely gifts!)
No matter what strange cravings your pregnant pal may have, chocolate is always a good bet. Endangered Species Rainforest has a line of chocolates that sound smooth and lovely–and they’re eco-friendly! If you want to make a bit more of an investment in the hard core European stuff, splurge on a box of Leonidas Belgian Chocolates.
Deep Steep Organic Honey Bubble Bath blends the scents of grapefruit and bergamont with thick, abundant bubbles. Afterwards, she can slather herself with Earth Mama Body Butter just to soften that skin and prepare her for a relaxing snooze.
Most of us spend the first few days or even weeks after baby’s birth in pajamas. Aimee Bra-less nightgowns have gotten rave reviews and make a nice transition between maternity and early motherhood. Belabumbum also has some lovely empire waist nightgowns that are specifically designed for maternity and nursing. If she loves flannel comfort, go for the basic Frankie and Johnny Pajamas, Sleepyheads, or Nick and Nora sets in larger sizes that will accommodate a post-pregnancy shape.
I would have LOVED any of these gifts in the tired last stretch of my pregnancy, but I also would have enjoyed restaurant gift cards or meal deliveries. Now that I have made it through two pregnancies, I am passionate about supporting women as they transition from pregnancy to motherhood. What do you do for pregnant friends? What were some of your favorite gifts as an expectant parent?
Congratulations to the winner of our Sealy Naturalis Crib Mattress with Organic Cotton giveaway! Catherine Alley will soon be receiving a very large package in the mail thanks to Kolcraft, our giveaway sponsor. We hope your baby enjoys the unexpected holiday gift Catherine!
You could be the lucky winner of a Sealy Naturalis Crib Mattress with Organic Cotton! Go to our organic crib mattress giveaway post to enter multiple times. We are looking forward to randomly selecting the winner after midnight PST tonight and emailing them with the news. What a fantastic holiday gift for you or someone you love. We’ll post the winner’s name in the next few days. Great luck!