Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Our Cloth Diaper Life

As I have mentioned before, we cloth diaper around here.  We are hardcore recyclers and composters, so when we decided to have a baby, naturally I knew we would cloth diaper.  I'm a stay-at-home mom so there's no reason I can't wash diapers.  I certainly can't imagine throwing away all those diapers.  Plus, what's really inside those disposables?

I know some of you mommas know all about cloth diapers.  Some of you mommas that are my momma's age, know them a little bit differently.  You are probably familiar with the white cotton rectangle that you pin on, then cover with rubber pants.  They've come a long way since then.

Now there are so many options it's overwhelming to know where to begin.
Flats, fitted, prefolds, all-in-one, all-in-2, pockets, covers, PUL, wool shorties, longies, snappies, stripping, AAAAh, what does it all mean?  I'm going to have a couple of diaper posts explaining our cloth diaper life.  
I spent a lot of time during my pregnancy trying to figure it all out.  And believe me, all the information is out there, so much so that it was overwhelming.  There's even a book on cloth diapering, and countless blogs...and here I go adding more to that sphere.  I actually made a handful of diapers for Baby O in the beginning. But not having a baby or any cloth diapers to see first, I didn't really know what I was doing.  She also ended up being a pretty good sized baby at 8 pounds.  The newborn dipes I made lasted about 2 weeks before she outgrew them.  The others...well I had to do some modifications, but I still use them occasionally.  Eventually, I just bit the bullet and ended up buying some.
homemade newborn diapers
So I bought a couple variety packs to try to figure out what I liked best.  Then stocked up on my preferred dipe. One of the decisions to make is snaps or velcro.  Both have pros and cons.  Velcro is loud at night and sticks to everything in the washer/dryer but, it's quick and easy. Some call it "dad friendly."  I didn't like velcro, I like the snaps.  It's a pretty customizable fit too and looks cleaner, no fuzz ball hitchhikers. DIAPERS I picked one-size, pocket diapers.  One size means they fit from infancy through toddlerhood.  You could use the same diaper from birth to potty training.  That's pretty cool.  They have an adjustable rise so you can shorten or lengthen the front of the diaper with snaps. Pocket means that the inner of the diaper is like a pocket, you stuff an absorbant cloth inside of the diaper cover.  Alternately you could just lay a liner inside of the diaper cover and reuse the cover a couple of times unless it gets soiled, if ya know what I mean.  The liners are usually rectangle and made from cotton, bamboo, hemp, or microfiber, or some sort of blend.  Each material has it's pros and cons.  I personally like bamboo or hemp best. They are very, very absorbant and come from sustainable resources.  Bamboo stays softer longer over time.
diaper shelf on changing table
WIPES What about wipes?  I have cloth wipes too.  I just cut a bunch of scrap flannel into rectangles, and hemmed around the edges.  I make a cloth wipe solution and pour that over the wipes.  My mom got us a wipe warmer when she was born, so that's where they stay.  The warmer hasn't been plugged in in months, maybe that'll be a winter treat for her bum.  I'll plug it back in when it gets cold outside. STORAGE I have what's called a "wet bag" to put dirty diapers in until wash day.  It's just a big zippered bag that hangs from the changing table that has a waterproof liner.  When it's time to wash the diapers I just open the bag and dump the contents into the washer.  I also have a small wet bag for her diaper bag, it'll hold about 3 dirty diapers on the go. WASH If it's got a lot of gunky poo in it I have a sprayer attached to the toilet and just spray it out into the toilet, flush, and put the diaper in the wet bag.  No hands on, no scrubbing in the toilet.  Since she was exclusively breast fed in the beginning that step was not necessary.  Breast-fed (bf) poo is like the consistency of yogurt (sorry y'all but we're talking about diapers so of course I'm going to discuss a bit of poop), it can go in the washing machine and it'll get diluted and wash right out.  Also, if you didn't know- bf poo doesn't stink.  A lot of people say it smells like buttered popcorn or cornbread.  Isn't that weird?  It does.  It's not bad.  Thank God, because I was worried about that.  I mean, I never changed a diaper in my life until I had her. I usually wash diapers every other day, any longer that that and it starts to get smelly.  I dump the diapers in the washer.  I usually wash the wet bag every other week or so.  I made a wet bag in the beginning and wore it out, so I bought a replacement bag off of Etsy.  I try not to wash it unless it smells super funky.  I don't want to wear it out too. Dump diapers in washer one normal cycle on cold water with no detergent, extra rinse. Second wash cycle on hot water with half a scoop of detergent, extra rinse. Stay away from fabric softeners because they actually cause the diaper to repel water instead of absorb. If there are any poo stains, the sun will bleach them out.  I love hanging diapers out to dry on the clothes line. The covers are so light and quick drying, I can usually hang them up in the laundry room to dry and they are dry in an hour or two.  The stuffings though, take awhile, I'll hang them out to sun bleach and then throw them in the dryer to soften them back up.  I also have dryer balls that helps with that.  That's another post.  That's it.  I've been looking at our water bill and there's no noticeable difference between this year and last year before we had a baby.
It sounds like a lot of work, but it really isn't.  It's just one extra load of laundry every other day.  If I don't get to folding them, I just use them right out of the laundry basket.  No running out to buy diapers or wipes, ever! They paid for themselves a few months ago, somewhere around 6-7 months.  One could buy cheaper diapers, even used diapers (I did buy a few used) and they will pay for themselves quicker.    There's so many cute diapers out there, you could really get carried away with shopping for cloth diapers.  If they are in decent shape, you can resell, or swap them. Plus you can hang on to them for future babies and then there's no diaper expense at all for that child.  If I had known about all the cloth diaper swaps that are out there before I bought ours, I would have gone that route.  It's a great way to find a bargain.
Traveling with cloth can be tricky, but we manage.  In the very beginning we bought disposables to use while out.  But they smell funny and gave her toosh a little rash.  Now we just plan ahead and make it work.   I think that's basically it.  I'm going to do a few more posts in the future about the specifics.  Thanks for reading, if you made it all the way through.

  Click here to visit Mama's Emporium for cloth diapers and other baby accessories.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Shave Yo Face

On our journey to be chemical free, one of my biggest priorities is skin care.  So many cosmetics, toiletries, soaps, lotions, fragrances, and creams contain toxins, and you know whatever you slather on your skin, is going directly IN to your body.

I have started changing things up in the bathroom, and of course I can't neglect my dear hubby's skin care.  I've always used Aveeno shave gel for sensitive skin on myself.  I get razor burn easily, in case you care to know.  But this is what I've always bought and B will use whatever I put in the shower, so this is what he uses too.  While I have quit using it and just started using soap when shaving, I still buy the same brand.  I'm a creature of habit.

A scan of ingredients on the back of the can raises an eyebrow, there's those parabens and laboratory created other "things." Now, I'm going to be honest here, I failed organic chemistry in college (more than once, gag).  It was hard, very, very hard.  So while I can pronounce these ingredients, I just don't know that they mean, more importantly, I don't want them in my loved one's pores.

You might have heard of Environmental Working Group.  This is their homepage statement:
At EWG, our team of scientists, engineers, policy experts, lawyers and computer programmers pores over government data, legal documents, scientific studies and our own laboratory tests to expose threats to your health and the environment, and to find solutions. Our research brings to light unsettling facts that you have a right to know. 

They also have a cosmetics database.  EWG's Skin Deep and they list  Aveeno Positively Smooth Shower Gel as a 6, on a hazard scale of 1-10. That kind of surprises me.

Earlier in the season we received calendula flowers in our CSA basket and I was real excited about using them for....well I didn't know.  But I do know that calendula lotions and creams are good for your skin and are usually a bit on the expensive side.  The bath cream I use on baby O is made with calendula, and it's very gentle.  I finally figured out that I wanted to use them to make some shaving soap for B.  This was his birthday present.  Good?  Here's some calendula info.
local, organically grown calendula flower tops

oh and it's pronounced like this.
Science Lesson:
Calendula contains flavonoids, which are plant based anti-oxidants.
Anti-oxidants protect against free radical damage.
Free radicals are cells, damaged at the molecular level, which then attack and damage other cells which damage/attack other cells and so on, and so on which could lead to serious issues such as cancer and diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's Disease. See WebMD for more details on this.

Calendula is often used in skin care products because of it's soothing and healing properties when used topically.  It is also known for anti-infammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral properties which makes it good for rashes, insect bites, burns and dermatitus. More info on that hereand here.  It helps heal by delivering oxygen, and increasing blood flow and that in turn aids in tissue regeneration and healing.

Pretty awesome flower, eh?  It's a kind of marigold.  It's a great companion plant in the garden and it attracts beneficial insects.
dehydrating the flowers
I cut the petals off and ran them through a coffee grinder
dried, fresh, organic, local calendula <3

I don't know how to make shaving cream, BUT one of my very awesome friends turned her soap making hobby into a business.  Isn't that awesome? Dreams come true, all the time. I believe it, and see it.  She uses all natural and organic ingredients in her soaps.  When I say natural, I'm not pulling the wool over your eyes like corporate marketing folks.  I mean like lye, dried herbs from her garden, organic oils, and essential oils.  Period.  No sodium lauryl sulfates or methylparabens, or artificial fragrances or colors.  She's even down for making custom soaps. Yay!

Please check her out on the website, green village soap co.  and like her facebook page, show some love and support.  Ask her when her online shop is opening. (wink, wink Liz)

I handed over the dried and ground petals of these beautiful yellow and orange flowers and 2 weeks later I had a whole batch of shaving soap.  (I saved the seeds to plant next year.)  I think it was about 10 big sized bars.  I don't remember what oils she said she used, maybe some castor oil, but it makes a real rich lather.  I had to play with it and take pictures before writing this.
Shave Soap
I bought a cheapo lathering brush at Sally's, I'm on the look out for a quality brush now.  B says this one smells funny, it's totally from China.  But we've done it!  One more small change in our daily life in which we are now using a healthy product instead of a toxic one.

wet and lather

cheapo brush

calendula shave soap

Hubby's review:
The first time he used it, he said he felt like he didn't use enough and had a couple of rough spots. The second time he used it in the shower and used more, lathered it up a lot and the experience was great.  He says his skin feels good and is looking forward to future experiences.  Like most new things, there's a learning curve I'm sure.  Now should I get him a straight razor? You know, so we can ditch the disposable razors.  I'll get a picture of his freshly shaven or sudsy chin soon.