Lydia's Nest · Parenting

So You Want to Use Cloth Diapers?

I (Gail) put my kids in disposables. Cloth diapers always were a mystery to me. My mother used them on me but in the eighties and nineties disposables were the thing. It’s not that I didn’t try cloth – I did, but washing them was awkward, inconvenient, messy, and time-consuming. And I wasn’t convinced that cloth was any better for the environment when you considered the cost of soap, water, and electricity.

But twenty five years later young moms have more options, including the internet that give instruction, helpful tips, equipment, and support. Naturally Lydia is drawn to the benefits of cloth diapering. I admire her tenacity, her organization, and especially her knowledge of the subject. So it’s time for another mother/daughter interview that I hope will help all you other moms out there as you consider the “To-cloth or Not-to-cloth” debate. (You can view our other mother/daughter post on “Baby-Led Weaning” here.)

Gail: What inspired you to use cloth diapers in the first place?

Lydia: As I was preparing for the birth of our oldest (Deacon), I did a lot of research and reading on various parenting choices and the pros and cons. One big thing I came across was how much disposable diapers cost over the time they are used – potentially as much as $2,500, depending on the brand used (source: Consumer Reports). I was drawn to the fact that cloth diapers are both significantly cheaper, and reduce landfill waste as well.

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Gail: Why did you choose cloth instead of the convenience of disposables?

Lydia: Personally, I find cloth to be pretty convenient! Cloth diapers today are very different than the fold-and-pin-rubber-pants style that most people think of. Now, there are a number of different styles, from All-in-Ones that go on and off exactly like a disposable, to Pockets that have a slot to place absorbent inserts, to hybrids that blend all of them. The other big question people have is washing. I find that diapers really only add an extra load about once or twice a week – it’s key to have enough diapers to fill your washer, so you really get your money’s worth out of each wash.

Gail: Give me the Diapering 101 on exactly how you do this. What is your routine?

Lydia: I try to keep diapers stuffed and ready to go both in the living room and in the nursery. When I take a diaper off of Annabelle,  I take the insert out and put it in the wet bag (a special bag that is lined with water-resistant material to keep in any wetness). If it is a poopy diaper, it goes in a this special plastic poop bucket. It is important to flush poop down the toilet – nobody wants that in the washing machine! When I’m starting to get low on diapers (only 4-5 clean ones) I round them up from around the house and put them in the washer. I follow a Fluff Love University wash routine, and I have never once had issues: First, a short, cold cycle with a small amount of detergent (For me, that’s line 2 of Tide Plus Bleach), then a long, hot, heavy duty cycle with more detergent (line 4). Then if I have time before I will need them again, I hang the wet bags and shells on the drying rack to air dry, but more often I just throw everything in the dryer. When they are dry, I fold and stuff the inserts, and they are ready to go again!

Gail: What do you recommend to purchase and where are your favorite places to purchase?

Lydia: Everyone has different preferences as to style and brand. In the same way that different jeans fit different people, different brands of CD’s will fit different babies. But this is what I use: I really like ALVA brand cloth diapers. They are a pocket style, which I prefer because they are fast to put on, easy to customize the absorbency, and they dry quickly. ALVAs are very reasonably priced, and they are also super cute – Many smaller companies in the US will do custom designs on ALVA diapers. I love this one that says “I love my Mahh Mahh”! (buy here)

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I have around 25-30 diapers, which equals a full wash for my machine. This lasts me 4-5 days. Besides that, I have two large wet bag pail liners, one smaller hanging wet bag for down stairs (I need a second though), and two small wet bags that stay in the diaper bag. I also use cloth wipes – they just get washed along with the diapers, so its a simple process. I made mine by serging flannel. I have about 50 of those. The only other thing you really need to cloth diaper is a good, strong detergent.

As for where to buy, you can actually find some cloth diapering supplies on Amazon. Some of my other favorite resources are Happy Beehinds, Nicki’s Diapers, and the Fluffy Penguin.

Gail: For this to work well I know you have to have everything within arm’s reach as you’re changing a diaper. What is your organization?

Lydia: To be honest, most of the time we end up just pulling diapers out of the laundry basket! But when things are put away, this is how I stay organized. Downstairs: with two little ones, I don’t try to go up to the nursery for every diaper change. Instead, I keep a basket of diaper supplies in the living room stocked with diapers, cloth wipes, fleece liners, and hand sanitizer. When she needs a change, I wet a wipe in the bathroom sink, and I’m ready to go.

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In the nursery,  this is how I have the changing area set up in Annabelle’s room:

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Let me break down where everything is and how I store it. The basket on the right is for her dirty clothes. The big basket on the left is for the dirty diapers – you can see the green pail liner lining it. Zooming in on the dresser top:

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I like to be one-handed when changing diapers, so I can keep one hand on the baby. So for the cloth wipes, I have a little dispenser filled with water (it was actually a soap bottle!) so that I can just grab a wipe and squirt water on it with one hand. Beyond that, everything else I might need is within arms reach. If Annabelle’s bum is looking a little red or dry, I love Burts Bees Multipurpose Ointment. Not all rash creams are CD safe, but this one is a great option. Turning left:

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Since I don’t do every diaper change in the nursery (usually only morning/bed/nap, and any poopy diapers), I don’t need a lot of CD’s in the nursery. So I keep a basket with 4 or 5 handy and that takes care of things. I also have a bin with extra supplies like disposables, extra diaper cream, etc.

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This is the little shelf hanging on the wall. That’s my old Raggedy Ann doll that Annabelle’s namesake made me (my grandmother!), a custom sign my cousin/roommate made for her, and our “poop bucket”. I have to keep it up high so the kids don’t play with it. Not visible is the spatula that stays with the bucket to scrape off solids with. This way, if there is a poopy diaper, I can put it (or if it all stayed on the fleece liner, just the liner!) in the bucket, get the baby all changed and dressed, then take the bucket to the bathroom, scrape/shake the poop off, and carry the whole bucket back without touching the wet diaper much at all.

Gail: What really is the impact on the environment?

Lydia: There is a lot of different debates out there on this topic – does the production and washing of CD’s negate the savings? What about the production of disposables? Does washing them waste water? What about detergent? For me personally, I’ve chosen to use them more for the cost savings than for the environmental impact, but I do think that there is a positive effect. The EPA estimates that 20 billion disposable diapers are added to landfills every year, and that they can take as much as 500 years to decompose. Whether or not cloth diapers are that great for the environment, there is significant benefit to reducing landfill waste.

Gail: Are they comfortable for our baby Annabelle?

Lydia: Yes! I’ve noticed that Annabelle almost never has rashes. When I use disposables for long periods, it seems like she gets red more easily, and the paper chafes her thighs.

Gail: When do you resort to disposables?

Lydia: I use disposables at night. I find it to be easier and more absorbent than trying to stuff enough absorbency in a CD. Pretty much the only other time I end up using disposables is when we travel – packing and washing CD’s on vacation isn’t very relaxing!

 

So I (Gail)  hope you all found this helpful. There certainly a WHOLE lot more colorful options out there that are too cute for words. So cloth diaper on, dear daughter!

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Blessings!

-Gail

 

Lydia's Nest · Parenting

Baby-Led Weaning: Our First Month

Sucking on some pasta

So we have officially started baby-led weaning, and now that we’re about a month in I wanted to share a little bit what the beginning is like. There are a lot of seasoned BLW’ers out there with lots of great advice, but once you’re in it its easy to forget what it was like at the very beginning.

We started Deacon on avocado on his 6 month birthday. Since then he has had things like cucumber, roasted carrots, steamed broccoli, noodles (without sauce), banana, chicken, pork, strawberries, watermelon, things like that. He has done great, picking things up, putting them in his mouth, and tasting.

We have already given him all major allergens, per our doctor’s recommendation. They now say that early introduction can reduce risk of developing an allergy, and since there is no family history of food allergies, we dove right in.
Here are some of the things that surprised me or caught me off guard about the process:

  • They gag a lot. I knew to expect this, but it can be very disconcerting when you’re in it! however, it is normal and is actually a sign that they are learning how to eat. This graphic was a super helpful reminder on the difference between gagging and choking:

  • They make a mess. Oh goodness do they make a mess! Because they are learning how to chew, food gets spit out most of the time. Even a month in, Deacon still spits out probably half of what he puts in.

    Attempting to figure out how a spoon works
  • Get CPR certified. Before we started, I purchased an infant CPR training kit, and I was really glad that I did. I haven’t had to use these skills, thankfully, but it gives me so much peace of mind knowing that I know what to do in an emergency.
  • Make sure baby is in a good mood. We found that if Deacon was tired or hungry (ironically) he would be fussy and frustrated when he had trouble picking up food. I always try to nurse him before each meal so he is full and ready to enjoy exploring new foods.

    Peppers are tasty
  • Food waste. This was definitely something I hadn’t anticipated. When your baby is dropping and spitting everything out, a fair amount of food just goes to waste! I’m pretty frugal, and it felt strange throwing away perfectly good broccoli just because it had fallen on the floor. Some things that helped were only giving him one or two pieces of food at a time, and laying a drop cloth under the high chair so when it inevitably fell on the floor I could just pick it up and hand it back.
Broccoli is a good source of iron

So those are some of the things I learned in our first month! Hopefully it can help you be better prepared for BLW!

Love,

Lydia

Family Activities · Lydia's Nest · Parenting

Baby Led Weaning

Lydia is beginning the transition to solid foods with a method that I had never heard of before, called Baby-Led-Weaning.  When Deacon turned six months, instead of starting with rice cereal like I did when Lyddie was 6 months old, she is giving him real, unpureed solid foods from the get-go. Naturally, I had questions but after observing the results and watching it first hand I am a believer. Come and eavesdrop on our mother/ daughter conversation:

Gail: What is Baby-Led-Weaning and where did you hear about it? (Thinking, “WHAT are you doing to my grandson!!”)

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Lydia: Baby-led Weaning is an alternative method of teaching a baby to eat. Instead of spoon-feeding him cereals and purees, I simply put some of whatever we are eating in front of him, and let him touch it, pick it up, put it in his mouth, and taste it. He is in complete control of what goes in his mouth. This is different than traditional weaning because of the order of things babies learn: when they are spoon fed, they learn to swallow first and then chew later. This way, Deacon is learning to chew, move things around his mouth, and use his mouth muscles before he learns to swallow. He spits almost everything out at the moment!

I don’t remember where I first heard about it. Probably somewhere on the internet. But as I was learning about it, I bought the Baby-Led Weaning Cookbook. This was a super helpful resource – the first five chapters or so explore what it is and how to do it safely.

Gail: Why did you choose this method (thinking, “Why aren’t you doing it the way I did it?”)?

Lydia: BLW has a lot of benefits – by exposing him to flavors and textures now, he will hopefully be less of a picky later on. Also, by not taking the time to spoon feed him, we all get to enjoy meals as a family. I get to eat while my food is still hot! Another factor for us is that it is cheaper and takes less time. I don’t have to buy baby food, or spend hours making homemade purees.

Gail: Isn’t he at risk of choking (picturing a vision of baby gagging, turning blue, and dialing 911)?

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Lydia: No more so than purees. Because he is learning to chew first, he is learning to handle foods before they get anywhere close to his airway. He might gag, but there is a big difference between gagging and choking – a baby’s gag reflex is much further forward in the mouth than an adult’s, so their little bodies are designed to protect them!

Also, we definitely take common sense safety precautions. Before we started, we took an infant CPR course to prepare ourselves for the worst (hopefully we’ll never need it!).  I also have yet to give him anything that is too hard to gum – no raw apples or carrots. Other major choking hazards are things the size of grapes or cherry tomatoes. These can be quartered lengthwise to make them safe, but I’ve just not introduced them yet.

The other important thing is to simply make sure everything is washed down, so he gets water during the meal and then I usually nurse him for a minute or two afterwards to make sure his mouth is free from obstructions.

Gail: Does he get enough nutrition? It seems like he spits everything out!

Lydia: At the moment, all of his nutrition is coming from breastmilk. I nurse him before every meal. This is totally fine for him – he doesn’t really need much else until he’s a year old (the saying is, “food before one is just for fun!”). The biggest concern is his iron intake. Breastmilk does have some iron, but not much. I remedy this by keeping my own iron intake up, and making sure to give him iron rich foods like red meat, broccoli, spinach, and eggs.

Also, it might seem like he spits every single thing out, but I know he must be swallowing at least some things, because they come out the other end!

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Gail: Giving him foods willy-nilly seems extreme. Can his system handle strange tastes?

Lydia: Yes! It is important to wait until six months for his digestive system to finish developing, but after that, he can handle anything. Breastmilk adopts strong flavors, so he has actually already been exposed to some things. Just like an adult, there may be things that are too spicy for his taste, but it’s all part of the learning experience (his and mine – I’ve been learning what kinds of things he likes and doesn’t like).

Gail: Will you ever give him pureed foods?

Lydia: Not unless I would eat it pureed, like applesauce or smoothies. We haven’t given those yet, but when we do we will use “pre-loaded spoons” which basically means I will dip the spoon in the applesauce, and them lay it in front of him so he can pick it up and put it in his mouth himself.

Gail: Look at him! He’s totally loving that avocado! Meal time sure is a happy time. I am remembering parents of my preschoolers complaining how they can’t get their kids to eat, or that the table is a battlefield.

Lydia: That’s one of the best parts of Baby-Led Weaning! Obviously there will probably come a day when I need to tell him to eat his dinner, but for the moment he can learn to love food and taste different flavors and textures without any stress or pressure. There are some days when he doesn’t try much, and that is ok!

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Gail: Ok, I am convinced you’re on to something! I guess there’s always something new to learn and that the way I did it isn’t necessarily the only or best way to parent. How about if you pass me more of that humble pie?

Watch our video to witness BLW in action: