What Cloth Diapering Advice Would You Give?

Have you used cloth diapers? What would you tell a pregnant, overwhelmed friend who doesn’t know a pocket diaper from a prefold?

If you have tips on buying diapers, laundering diapers or dealing with other challenges, please share! Today is the last of our posts this mont on cloth diapering and our favorite insider ideas always come from our readers. (Oh… and our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide!)

Save Money by Buying Secondhand Cloth Diapers

Cloth diapering saves a heap of cash (and garbage) over the years, but the up-front cost of using cloth is a barrier for some families. If you are willing to buy preowned diapers for your tot, you’ll save packaging, shipping, and about half the cost of a new cloth diaper layette.

How much did I spend on used diapers? Rebecca took me to her favorite consignment shop with her baby in tow when I was six months pregnant. I bought about eight diaper covers for a dollar each. Then I paid 30 dollars for 45 used prefolds at a local diaper service. Total cost: $38. Not bad! I did spend money later on as my son grew into a different size, but my overall diapering cost was well under 300 dollars. With my second baby I had virtually no cloth diapering costs as we just reused what we already had.

What types of diapers are best to buy used? Cloth prefolds are extremely sturdy and inexpensive. I bought a set of 45 used from a diapering service that then lasted through several more children as we loaned them out to other people. Eventually those prefolds became our household rags and are still going strong five years later.

Beyond prefolds, consider diapers with snaps instead of Velcro. Depending on how much use they’ve gotten, Velcro can wear considerably over the years. My Fuzzibunz pocket diapers with snaps have held up beautifully over the years.

Where can you find gently used cloth diapers? Check out Jillian’s Drawers, a company that offers families the chance to try cloth diapers at no risk for a short time. They then sell gently used diapers at a great discount. The Used Diaper Company also sells and trades secondhand diapers as well as Diaper Junction.

You can also find gently used diapers on Ebay or buy yourself a whole set by checking out what is available on Craigslist. Also, be sure to check whether your local consignment shops sell cloth diapers or covers. You’ll get a chance to handle them to see their condition firsthand and judge whether they’d be a good fit for your child.

Have you bought used diapers? Some parents are a bit freaked out by the hygiene aspect, but diapers only require a wash or two to be totally sanitized. Have you had the gift of cloth diaper hand-me-downs? Those are even better than buying used!

Poopy Cloth Diapers Solutions: Avoiding the Toilet Dunk

The concept of cloth diapers is glorious and hip, until you start thinking of solid waste. Many people can’t make it past the mental hurdle of the toilet dunk and give up on cloth before they ever start.

Here’s a shocking revelation: did you know that ALL poo-laden diapers, even disposables are supposed to be dunked in water? There is actually a written note on every box of disposables recommending that solid waste be rinsed off before disposal. After all, who wants human waste to be sitting in a landfill? (Even greener disposables like Seventh Generation recommend a toilet dunk with solid waste.)

A few toilet dunks are inevitable, but you may be surprised by just how often you can bypass the icky chore in favor of our slacker cloth diapering alternatives. Here are tips for every stage of solid waste your baby will produce.

Milk based poop: If baby dines on breast milk alone, the solid waste does not need to be rinsed before the diapers hit the washing machine. In fact, you can simply store them in a dry pail with a few squirts of Bac Out on each diaper. For formula fed babies, solid waste will have a stronger odor and may need a few extra doses of Bac Out. If you’re grossed out by the fact that poopy diapers will then have to be loaded into the washer, wear rubber gloves or simply dump the pail in the washing tub to avoid contact.

Baby food poop: There are two toilet dunking alternatives. Either use a flushable diaper liner liner to shield the diaper or install a diaper sprayer onto your toilet. My hesitations on flushable diaper liners were that they seemed to ensure that more poop ended up all over my baby’s bottom and I wasn’t confident enough in my plumbing to actually flush them. They are slightly easier to dunk than a diaper and can actually be washed and reused, so you may find them helpful. Many parents find that a diaper sprayer is easy to install and can be purchased for far less if you buy the individual parts rather than a kit. This is a great video on installing your own diaper sprayer will save you about 30 dollars.

Solid food poop: This is the golden stage of cloth diapering. Solid waste is often firm enough to simply be dumped into the toilet with no dunking whatsoever. The diaper sprayer can come in handy at times when baby has loaded up on fruit or popcorn, but poopy diapers are so much easier overall at this stage.

Do you have any genius methods for avoiding the toilet dunk? How have you dealt with poopy cloth diapers? Anyone tried infant potty training? We accidentally figured out how to have our daughter pooping in the potty exclusively after seven months old and were happy to say goodbye to poopy diapers forever. I’ll be sharing her story in my next post!

Are You a Cloth Diaper Aficionado /Fanatic? Take Our Cloth Diapering Quiz!

It’s difficult to maintain new hobbies in the early days of parenting, but cloth diapering can become pleasantly addictive. Do you love the cloth diapering experience, toilet dunking and all? We did.

For us, the thrill of experimenting with different styles, brands and laundering techniques was fascinating enough to begin this blog and devote a significant portion of our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide to cloth diapering. Have you crossed into the cloth-diapering-as-a-hobby phase yet? Take our short Cloth Diapering Quiz to find out.

1. You discuss cloth diapers

a. Rarely and only with people who ask about them.
b. With people who are obviously new parents.
c. With anyone, including complete strangers in their mid-seventies who try to avoid eye contact while backing away.
d. On your blog, in your book, and on your public access T.V show, “The Real Poop on Cloth.”

2. You constantly check your baby’s cloth diaper

a. To ensure that she’s comfortable.
b. Just to admire the snaps and elastic between changes.
c. Because you love flaunting the adorable fabric patterns to onlookers.
d. Because you’re looking forward to the next diaper change.

3. In your cloth diaper collection you have

a. A dozen used prefolds and about five simple covers.
b. Some of each type of cloth diaper along with cloth wipes.
c. More diapers than your child can possibly wear.
d. Cloth diapers in every size, allowing your child to avoid toilet training until his teen years.

4. You use cloth diapers because

a. You are perfectly happy laundering diapers every week if it saves you the 3am supermarket trips to buy Pampers.
b. You relish the eco-rightousness you experience while driving by landfills.
c.  You would rather spend thousands of dollars on eco-friendly baby spa treatments (or organic applesauce) than disposable diapers.
d. All of the above.

If you answered mainly A and B, beware! You may quickly move into the deeper levels of cloth diapering devotion as the months tick by.

If you answered mainly C and D, welcome! There are many, many of us who are already card carrying members of the cloth diapering fan club. Stick around for a whole month of posts devoted to the art of cloth diapering. (And even a giveaway or two!)

How Minimalist Did You Make Your Baby’s Nursery?

Did your baby sleep in a drawer or a cardboard crib? (The latter item really does exist and is pictured below.) Did you even have a nursery or did you simply pull baby into bed with you? Did you manage to outfit your baby’s nursery entirely with hand-me-downs or gear from Freecycle?

Of course having a minimalist nursery (or none at all) isn’t the only way to go green, but there’s so much pressure to gear up that it’s nice to know how people manage to creatively raise their babies without all the newest gadgetry. In our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, we try to share a variety of money-saving options for going green with baby, but our favorite is to buy less and buy used.

My son’s nursery wasn’t exactly spartan, but most of its furnishings were either given to me or purchased secondhand (and that includes his cloth diapers). When we saw just how little he used some of the items we thought we “had to have,” we were thoroughly happy that we’d stuck with used gear. I’m sure we could have sold all of it for the same price we paid, but we preferred to pass it onto another local family who had read our book and was striving to get all their gear used.

What creative things did you do to simplify your nursery? Did you even have a nursery? Were there items you eliminated from your baby registry or did you opt to buy some things used?

Simplifying Your Baby Nursery: What Don’t You Need?

In The Eco-nomical Baby Guide,we share that we felt pressured to purchase baby-oriented gizmos to be “prepared” for the transition to motherhood. When our babies actually arrived, we realized that no amount of gear could compensate for grueling work of caring for a newborn. Life wasn’t a hardship because we didn’t own wipe warmers, it was hard because living without sleep and showers for extended periods of time was an absolute shock.

In the months before my baby arrived, Rebecca’s input helped me bypass the baby aisle and look to consignment stores and craigslist. My husband and I also repurposed what we already had to outfit the nursery. In the end we purchased only one new piece of new furniture–a combination dresser and changing table from Ikea—and ended up with a beautiful nursery. It was outfitted with a used rocking chair with homemade seat covers, (which honestly turned out to creak annoyingly every night from 3-5am….) homemade curtains, a solid maple secondhand crib, a used boppy with a new cover, and art given to us at our baby shower. Stacks of gently used pre-folds purchased from a diaper service and a dozen secondhand diaper covers filled the shelves as we waited for baby.

And how much did all that cost? We spent less than a thousand dollars on my son’s entire first year..and relished every dime that we set aside for later. (Not to mention all the packaging that was saved by buying used instead of new.) We both sometimes reflect on baby gear that we could have splurged on, but at the time it was also fun to see just what we could live without.

So what all did we pass up? New baby clothes, a wipe warmer, a bottle sterilizer, lots of disposable diapers (although we did use them at night), and much, much more. What did we buy used? Almost everything!

What did you cross off your registry list and what did you buy used for baby? Did friends and family support your decision to limit your purchases? Did you even have a baby nursery or get creative with another room in your home?

Is It Worth Buying A Good Couch When You Have Young Kids?

In my life before kids, I was much too cool for furniture. I had been a world traveler and wanted to live out of my backpack for the rest of my adult existence, even when I moved back to Oregon. Eventually I settled in enough to buy a great quality used futon for $100. It was functional, it was uncomfortable, and it was going to be temporary. That was exactly fourteen years ago.

Later my husband and I waited to buy furniture because our house was small. Then because our kids came along and slid half chewed bananas along the surface of everything we owned. Our futon is still solidly sitting in our living room and has survived nauseous children, early potty training, and dozens of guests who have graciously attempted sleep on its lumpy surface. (My co-blogger and co-author Rebecca is one of them…)

At some point last week, I came down with a feverish desire for a couch. Now that our kids are a bit older, it suddenly seemed possible to move beyond combat furniture. I didn’t give a whit about style, I just desperately wanted a soft space on which to rest my 39 year old bones. For the last two years I have searched craigslist for the right fit, color and frame and haven’t been inspired. After a visit to a few local furniture stores during their January clearance events, we have opted to buy a new couch rather than wait for used.

If you have followed this blog, or read our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, you know just how shocking it is for me to splurge on anything new. But unlike baby furniture or clothing, this couch is going to sit in our living room for the next decade or more. (Remember how long that futon got stuck there?) Our favorite model is made by Stanton Sofas right here in the state of Oregon with a hardwood frame and an extensive lifetime warranty that will ensure our kids don’t destroy it within the first six months. (The picture below isn’t from Stanton, but it’s the type of small sectional we’re buying.)

Although I’m a bit shocked that we’re finally moving out of our spartan furniture phase, I have to say it feels great to have scrimped all those years so that we can finally appreciate owning a good piece of furniture. Having spent the last decade flopping down on a lumpy futon, it will be glorious appreciate the comfort of a soft sofa each and every time we collapse at the end of the day. The futon will be moved down to playroom to officially become “the jumping couch.” I think our kids may end up taking it to college in about fifteen years….

Some people avoid the futon phase altogether and buy a great couch before their children ever arrive. Maybe their offspring are much calmer than mine or perhaps better trained to respect fine furniture. What has your experience been? Do you have any couch advise for me? Are you still living in futon-land?

The Thrill for Green Living is Gone

I jumped on the green bandwagon in the early 1990s after watching a celebrity-studded Earth Day special on television. I was an impressionable teen living in the not-so-eco-minded Nevada high desert. I was looking for something, and I found it in taking Navy showers, eschewing paper towels, and sorting out recyclables. That last effort was somewhat diminished by the fact that no recycling facilities existed at the time.

Me, in greener times, cherishing a prefold cloth diaper.

In 2006, I had a baby, and my passion for all-things eco only grew stronger. Bringing a new life into the world made me reflect on the burden I was placing on the planet—and the way the planet, with all that acid rain and air pollution—could harm this fragile new creature I’d brought into the world. My renewed devotion to Mother Earth had me buying organic produce and washing cloth diapers (in a front-loading washer).

It happened to my old college friend Joy, too, in almost the exact same way. Frugal and eco-minded since childhood, her enthusiasm for thrift stores and granola ramped up a notch when she had her baby boy. In 2007 we began talking about writing a book about raising babies with the environment in mind. We had so much to say about it, so many odes to so many cloth diapers to write, so many important thoughts on pureeing yams to express!

Now it’s 2012. Joy and I are entering our fifth year of blogging here at the Green Baby Guide. In 2010, our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, was published. This is our 940th post. Is it a surprise, then, that some of the rosy glow of my first Earth Day in 1990 has faded a bit?

I’m ashamed to admit that the thrill has gone from green living. I once bought fourteen pounds of overripe organic bananas for a dollar and spent hours running them through a food mill and divvying up the mush to store in the freezer. Think of all the baby food I’d make, the banana breads I’d bake! (Strangely, Joy has a similar tale of doing the same thing with an overabundance of pumpkins.) While this sounds like an awful lot of effort for little payback, I thought it was fun. No, more than fun: exhilarating! I didn’t just put up with some of the inconvenient parts of green living, I actively enjoyed them.

I’m sure that compared to many Americans, I still qualify as a tree-hugging hippie. I compost and recycle and keep my thermostat at 64 degrees during the day. Maybe that should be enough. But the thing is . . . I don’t love it anymore. I’ve lost that righteous sense of superiority (okay, that’s for the best!). I’m not scouring the neighborhood for dandelion greens to make into a salad or constructing doll houses out of cardboard boxes like I used to. I don’t hang my laundry to dry; it got moldy anyway. I succumbed to the elicit pleasure of warm laundry straight from the dryer.

Once the thrill has gone, how do I get it back?

Happy Holidays from Green Baby Guide

This is our third holiday season here at Greenbabyguide.com. Our first Christmas posts had a following of a dozen readers, most of them family members. Since then we’ve published our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, and increased our web traffic to about 50,000 unique users each month. Whew!

Despite our modest fame, nothing much has changed for our families. This morning we finished untying our fabric gift bags and have spent the day playing, snacking and reading.

After the crush of preparation and anxiety, there is such relief in just sitting in our toy-strewn living room and enjoying the kids. They aren’t sporting BPA-free bibs or chubby cloth diaper bums this year, but are rapidly leaving babyhood behind at 5 years and 2 years old.

For all of you today, I hope that you have the chance to smell the top of your baby’s head, to get a nap, and to maybe just enjoy this incredibly fleeting (and grueling) era of parenthood. May your milk supply be incredible, your cloth diapers be absorbent, your laundry be minimal, and your sleep tonight be long and luxurious. Most of all, I hope you celebrate yourself as a hard working, green-minded parent!

Green Holiday Gift Ideas for Pregnant Women

I have experienced the joys of pregnancy (and the swollen ankles, back pain, and cravings.) And I remember the things I so longed for on a daily basis. On the whole they weren’t material items, but rather support. And the best news is that “gifts of service” are utterly eco-friendly, thoughtful and very low cost.

A bottle of The Naked Bee Green Tea Lotion and a free coupon for regular foot massages. The lotion is made from organic ingredients that will nourish her itchy, stretching skin. Husband alert: She will LOVE this! (I would love this, and I’m not even currently pregnant…) If a partner is attentive enough, foot massages could be delivered on a daily basis.

A Hamilton Beach Half Pint Soft Serve Ice Cream Maker and a promise to whip up a batch of butter brickel at a moment’s notice. I’m convinced that in the late stages of pregnancy I needed ice cream as a nutritional supplement. An ice cream maker allows you to whip up mango sorbet or mint chocolate chip without climbing into the car. And the fact that this one only makes a half pint can help limit those late pregnancy scarfings.

A copy of our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, along with a gift certificate to a consignment shop or green baby boutique. Our masterpiece will give her everything she needs to know about cloth diapering, buying secondhand gear, and saving money while going green. She can use that gift certificate to buy maternity clothes, baby gear, and heaps of onesies before baby arrives.

A Pyrex Storage 10 Piece Set filled with homemade spaghetti, vegetable curries, and brownies. After all, why wait until the baby arrives to support an exhausted woman in the third trimester of pregnancy? You can (and should) always bring her more food in a few months.

Are you currently pregnant? What are you hoping to receive this holiday season? What was the best gift you ever received during your pregnancy? (For me, it has always been, and will always be, food.) Sigh…