Monday, December 31, 2012

Cloth Diapering: A Beginners Guide-Wipes, Diaper Creams, and More

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This is the 'other' category. There's so much to talk about with CD, we of course need an 'other' page. A few things I didn't want to forget to tell you:

Diaper Cream
Diaper Cream is usually not recommended by cloth diaper manufacturers. I think it can even void some warranties as with detergent and additives. The cream will get on the diaper, cause build up, repelling, and stains. Three of the offending ingredients are Fish Oils, Zinc Oxide and Lanolin. All three are great at repelling moisture-but will cause your diapers to do the same. Fish oils will make the diaper smell like fish!

There are quite a few CD safe creams out there though. Check out this page from Pinstripes and Polkadots for a list of safe diaper creams. I personally use California Baby. I used it before with disposables so I was happy to find it on this list. I also love that I can grab it at Target. There is Vitamin Grade Zinc in it, but I'm guessing that's better than regular Zinc Oxide which is why it's on the approved list.

If you do want to stick with a regular non-CD approved cream use a liner or a wipe in between the bum and the diaper. Make sure to wash it separately though. I still place a dry wipe in between my LO's bum and the diaper though, just in case.

Wipes
I wasn't sure I would use cloth wipes. The idea seemed even ickier than cloth diapers. I'm here to say I LOVE CLOTH WIPES. There's something about them being thicker and the wipe solution is better and wipes cleaner than disposable. I'm not sure. It just feels better to use. Weird huh?

We used disposable wipes the first week while I was still figuring out our wipe solution. It was messier. I would have to throw away the disposable wipe in the garbage, then spray out the diaper. Then of course I hated the idea of a poopy wipe sitting in my garbage so I'd make my husband take it out. It really isn't that much harder or ickier to use a cloth wipe. Most diapers with a 15 month old won't leave much waste on the wipe anyway, at least anything to spray off. I will say though my LO has been sick lately so has had 3 really gross diapers today. I had to spray off a few wipes (probably the worst it's been in months), and honestly it wasn't that bad. I was spraying off the diaper anyway. Bahm. Done. Plus while I'm reducing waste and keeping chemicals away from my baby I may as well do it all the way right?

So for wipes, I just got 2-12 packs of wipes from Cotton Babies. I don't think I've even touched the second pack! Here's the wipe solution recipe I got from a friend:

-1 teaspoon baby soap (Dr. Bronner's was suggested, however I'm using my sons California Baby Bath Soap).
-1 tablespoon Coconut Oil (the cooking kind)
-Really warm water

I put the coconut oil and the baby soap in my peri bottle (just the one I got from the hospital).  I filled it with really warm water. Hot enough to melt the coconut oil. The soap will keep the oil emulsified. The oil will help clean the bum more (plus coconut oil has antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties, and it's very soothing on the skin). Make sure it's cool enough before you use it on your baby or wipe. Once it's cool the coconut may harden a little, just give it a hard shake and you should be good to go. This will stay good for a week or so.

When I'm ready to use the wipe, I like squirting a little water on the wipe (sometimes on baby) then wiping down. Most diapers I'll use only one wipe. A really dirty one, I use three. Some people like to place all their wipes in a warmer and cover with the solution. I like this idea, but I'm not sure how much I would use and I wouldn't want it to grow mold.

I've also just started wiping down at all changes, even just wet ones.  I didn't before because I didn't want to add extra wetness. Last night I found a hilarious forum post HERE, and read that most boys have what we call stinky butt syndrome (SBS). After reading (and crying from laughing) this forum, I started wiping at each change and SBS is gone.

-----UPDATE-----
Just a quick update on the wipe solution. I ditched the peri bottle because it kept getting clogged. Now I use a small glass jar. I put in the coconut oil first, really warm water, then shake it up until the oil is melted. Then I add a squirt of baby soap to it. I used to add the soap before, but it would foam when I shook it. Then I just dip the wipe in the water and wipe the baby bum.  Still easy peasy!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cloth Diapering: A Beginners Guide-Laundry Additives

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Another area of Cloth Diapering is laundry additives. These are products that can help your cloth diapering laundering process.You don't need to start out your cloth diapering with additives. Usually you only want to use these if you start noticing problems.

Keep in mind that using too many additives or too much of it can cause build up very quick! It can also damage the diaper or cause rashes. Additives can be great, but use with care.

Additives
Bac-Out-This product is great to get rid of bacteria or ammonia. Enzymes work by eating away at waste products (poop and pee). This is great for diapers, but not good for your babies bum. If the enzymes are not rinsed out well in the wash, they will attack any residue on your babies skin causing rashes. This could void your warranty for a lot of diaper manufacturers. I was concerned about bacteria left on diapers, so I decided to make this a small part of our diaper regiment. I give each dirty diaper (or over night wet one) a small squirt after spraying off and before putting it in our wet bag. If you're using enzymes, make sure your wash temperature is around 130 degrees (check with diaper manufacturer on maximum temperature). This should deactivate the enzymes.

Baking Soda- You want to use it for odor, hard water, residue from hard water or urine, softening and stains. 1/4 C per wash will work to soften your water. I've read if you use baking soda, make sure to add a little vinegar to the rinse in order to re-establish the PH of your water or else the baby could get a rash. Using baking soda too often will create build up on your diapers.

Vinegar- You want to use it for odor, hard water, residue from hard water or urine and softening. If you notice your detergent isn't rinsing well, try adding 1/4 c to the rinse cycle (after the wash). If your using vinegar to disinfect, add 1 cup to the HOT wash cycle.

*Smelly Diapers??-Add 1/2 C of baking soda to your wash (in addition to the detergent). Then add 1/4 C vinegar to your rinse cycle. Before the water drains out, stop the cycle and let it soak overnight. Finish it up the next morning.

Chlorine Bleach-Most diaper manufacturers will tell you NOT to use bleach. Some CD moms will tell you once a month isn't that bad. If you feel you need to use bleach to disinfect your diapers I would first contact your diaper manufacturer for other ideas or directions. Certain care needs to be made on AIOs and pockets because the bleach can damage the PUL. If you do decide to use bleach fill your washer up to the max, add 1-2 Tablespoons of bleach, let it dilute, then add your diapers. I would follow up with a hot water wash and a few rinses to make sure no bleach is left on the diapers to get on your babies skin. BumGenius actually suggests doing this once a month.

Oxygen Bleach-This can be used for diapers, inserts, and wipes safely on a regular basis. For covers or fitteds it is suggested by Thirsties to stick to once a month. This is good for odor, urine residue and stains. I believe a lot of people just add in an average of 2 TBSP in each wash anyway. You can also soak your diapers with 1/2 a scoop and HOT water for about 1.5-2 hours to disinfect. Make sure to follow up with quite a few rinses (about 6?).

Tea Tree Oil (Melaluca Oil)-This oil is a natural antibiotic. It also has anti-fungal and anti-septic properties. There is some debate about using TTO too much and it creating resistance. I saw quite a few people use this in their wash routine. I would rather use it on occasion. If you want to get rid of the yuckies (maybe after a stomach virus), add a drop or two sparingly to your wash and rinse well about 3 times. Here's a good article I read about TTO: Robert Tisserand. To use this topically, dilute with olive or coconut oil.

Grapefruit Seed Extract-This is a disinfectant. Yay!! My friend who helped me get into cloth diapering had a huge problem with yeast. She now uses 10-20 drops of this per wash and everything is peachy keen! I bought a bottle of this right away. I plan on using it once a month as long as there is no problems. You want to add it to your rinse cycle-which now I need to purchase a downy ball so I don't have to babysit my washer.

Essential Oils (other)- You can use a few drops of lavender, chamomile, or TTO in your wipe solution. You can also add a few drops to your diaper pail/wet bag. Oils can stick to your diapers so be careful adding to the wash. I suggest researching more-sorry!

Calgon Water Softener- These can be used on all products and helps soften the water. Soft water helps the detergent work better by suspending the residues and mineral deposits in the water and prevent them from being re-deposited until they are rinsed away. Add this to the initial hot wash and following rinse.

Dawn-Dawn is recommended to help strip diapers. A small squirt does an excellent job removing stinky residue or detergent build up from diapers. If your diapers are repelling liquid try using Dawn. Fill the sink with warm water and 2-3 drops of Dawn. Hand scrub like crazy, then rinse really well until all the soap is gone. Toss in the washer and rise a few more times to make sure all the soap is gone. Make sure this is only for a waxy or oily buildup. Also keep in mind that dish soap in your washer can damage it, so rinse, rinse, rinse before you throw it in the washer.

Sunshine-I can't wait for summer. Sunning your dipes (hanging in the sun) not only sanitizes, but gets rid of stains too.

Lemon Juice- I haven't researched this too much, but I've read that adding 1/2 C. of lemon juice to your wash will help whiten your diapers. You can also spray it (mixed with water) to your diapers before sunning them. This can get rid of stains.

Wool Dryer Balls-Don't use dryer sheets or fabric softener. They work by coating your laundry and this causes repelling issues. Switch to wool dryer balls for all of your laundry. This will help you save power ($$), reduce dryer time and reduce static. Some are even lightly scented but diaper safe. These work by bouncing around in the washer (great for AIOs) which gets more air circulated. This is known to reduce dryer time 20-45%. You'll want 4-6...oh and they get better with time. Check out the ones my friend The Graceful Mom makes: Etsy Shop.

For a useful chart about what additives are safe for Thirsties diapers see this link: Thirsties Safe Additives

Where to Buy
So now you need to buy a few things; preferably all in one place. I usually shop at www.Vitacost.com for my coconut oil. They had a few of the items I needed but not all. I also went to Amazon, but again, they only had a few items. After a quick search I found www.Iherb.com. They had everything I needed and at a cheaper price! Feel free to use my referral or promo code to get $5 off: DPN078.

I decided these were my laundering items I would buy from the start: Country Save Detergent, Bac-Out, Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE), Dawn (to keep on hand just in case), and Wool Dryer Balls. Luckily I have OxyClean, chlorine bleach, baking soda, Tea Tree Oil and vinegar on hand before I ever knew they were considered additives. Hopefully I'll never have to use these. 

I had to do quite a bit of my own research to finish this post. I think I'm even more confused! There are so many opinions, directions, warnings, and encouragement out there! I haven't had any problems with my diapers yet, so I don't know how to use the above by experience. I would love to not have to! I hope this helps you at least begin your research on additives. Let me know if you have any thoughts or questions.

When in doubt, contact your diaper manufacturer. The pain thing about having a variety of dipes is each diaper is made of different materials-which makes cleaning a little more complicated. Remember the best advice for laundering your cloth diapers is to KEEP IT SIMPLE! Don't make it too complicated if it's not necessary.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Cloth Diapering: A Beginners Guide-Index

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After beginning my new adventure in cloth diapering, I've realized how dang confusing it is to begin. Give me a few months and I'm sure I'll have no idea what you're talking about when you tell me beginning CD is confusing, stressful, and frustrating. I'll think you're crazy because I will of course be a pro ;)!

For now though, I'm only in week 2. I feel like I'm getting the hang of it, but there is still a lot of trial and error I'm in the midst of. Just now we realized that my babies weird smelling bum and diapers may have to do with CD...off to research what I already read about that. Maybe I need more detergent...maybe less.

While I'm in the beginning with you, I'd thought I'd write my own beginners guide. Everything I wish I could have found in one place or had someone tell me. As you'll find, I've basically write a book so I understand that no one could have told me ALL of this. Hopefully this helps you as it has me. Even writing it has helped me! Feel free to comment with any questions or answers (I could always use answers). Also, I know you can't believe everything you read on the Internet (WHAT!?!?), but from what I've researched the information is as accurate as possible (for now ;). I'll come back and correct if I find something different.

Oh and before you start, you'll recognize a theme. There is no one right way to cloth diaper. It's all trial and error and very personal. I can tell you something works great for me and it may not work for you. Or vica-versa. Enjoy!

1. Reasons We Went To Cloth
2. Choosing Your Diapers
3. The Process
4. The Detergent
5. Washing & Drying
6. Laundry Additives 
7. Diaper Cream, Wipes & More

Cloth Diapering: A Beginners Guide-Washing & Drying

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Washing
Now you've chosen the detergent, you've sprayed off your diapers(if poopy) and you're ready to wash. Most people wash their dipes every 2 to 3 days. They say to keep the load under 18 diapers, however I think you want over 12 so that they have enough items to agitate against. I take my wet bag to my laundry room. If you choose a pail, just take out the liner or bring the whole pail. Depending on if you separated your pieces previously either empty your diapers in the washer or separate then toss in.

Before I tell you my routine, please realize that there isn't a right or wrong way to do this either-catching the trend yet? Here's what I do:

1. Cold Rinse on LARGE setting. My washer doesn't have anything that specifically says rinse, but it's about halfway through the wash-and there is a little dot, so I assume that's the rinse. It's worked well so far. I put it on the LARGE setting to get a good amount of water in there. You don't want too much or too little. I figure LARGE is a good setting. I do not use detergent on this rinse. The cold water rinse breaks down waste and doesn't leave stains. Hot water will cause stains if there is still waste on your diapers.
2. Hot wash/warm rinse cycle. Hot water kills bacteria. You want to try to get your water temperature around 100 degrees. I turn my water heater up about an hour before I wash. Over 120 degrees can deteriorate your diapers quicker. You want to use detergent on this cycle. For Country Save it seems most people use 1 TB for hard water and 1 Teaspoon for soft water (this isn't directional-just the average I've seen in forums). Remember to measure correctly so you can adjust as necessary.
3. Warm rinse on LARGE setting. Again, I move the dial to the little rinse dot. I only have a warm rinse, if I had HOT I would do hot. This will get out any remaining detergent, and I also want any remaining bacteria killed.

A few notes to confuse you more:
1. Most detergent doesn't kill bacteria very well. Hot water does. From the little I've read, water needs to be above 140 degrees to kill all bacteria. Well over 120 can reduce the lifespan of your diapers and I know some diaper manufactures like Cotton Babies set the limit at 100 degrees or it will void your warranty, so we have a problem here. This is why I use Bac-Out on my diapers after spraying them-to kill bacteria.
2. Your wash routine will need to adjust to you preference. If you notice detergent staying on the diapers, add another rinse or reduce/change your detergent. If you notice the diapers are smelly or not getting clean increase your detergent. You can also change the first rinse to HOT water if you need more cleaning power or even add a little detergent to your first rinse. Some people wash twice.
3. The first few washes, try to peek into the washer at different times to see how the detergent looks. If there is still soap after your final rinse, you know to either decrease your detergent or add another rinse. If there isn't soap after your second rinse. You know you can skip the third rinse.
4. This routine can effect your baby too. If there is too much buildup or chemicals left on the diaper it can cause rashes or even burns. If the pee doesn't rinse out it can cause ammonia burns. Don't let this freak you out as it did me, but just keep this in mind. You want a clean rinsed diaper.
5. Confused about your amount of water? Filling your washer up about half full should do the trick. You want enough water to let the diapers agitate well, but you don't want too much...so they still agitate well. Rubbing against each other really helps them get clean.
6. My laundry room is downstairs. Really long and steep stairs. I can't hear the beep when it's done. I was first confused and thought everyone could customize their washer to do all these steps automatically. Perhaps they can (people with new fancy washers). I on the other hand have an old washer. All 3 steps I have to manually start. I've timed each cycle and now set a timer on my stove to remind me when to check the wash. Looking at the bright side, I'm getting good exercise going up and down at least 5 times per diaper load.

Now that I most likely confused you more-start out simple. Cold rinse, hot wash with detergent, cold or hot rinse. Then move to hotter water and more detergents, rinses, washes if necessary.

Drying 
Drying is hopefully much simpler. I hang dry everything. I bought a line and clothes pins from the dollar store ($2 investment-yay!) I also use these for my Christmas Cards so even better deal! I originally hung dry the covers and AIO's and threw the inserts and diapers in the dryer-but now I just find it easier to hang dry it all. It saves on power and they all get done at the same time. For those of you like me that want more information, here's some info behind drying.

Don't dry anything with PUL or waterproofing materials. Those can get ruined in a heat dryer. Check your manufacturer to be sure-but from what I've found hang drying is your best option. For anything you want to throw in the dryer, don't use dryer sheets. Those can add build up VERY QUICK to your diapers. Just stay away.

I've actually switched completely from dryer sheets to wool dryer balls before I started cloth diapering. These will help reduce dryer time, decrease static, and soften. If your interested in dryer balls my friend from The Graceful Mom makes some awesome ones! They're a lot larger than some others I've bought. Visit her Etsy store here.

Again, my laundry room is in our murky basement. It usually takes about 24 hours for our diapers to hang dry. Our wet bag takes the longest (which is why 2 wet bags is a great idea!).

The only downside of hang drying is the inserts and prefolds seems to be a little more stiff. If you want them softened, toss them in the dryer for 20 minutes or so and they should be good!

Next: Laundry Additives

Cloth Diapering: A Beginners Guide-The Detergent

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Never knew there was so much to cloth diapering huh? It will get easier I promise. 2 weeks ago I was so overwhelmed with everything there was to learn, research, and decide on. Choosing a detergent was something that completely stressed me out! Let's get going.

Detergent
Choosing a detergent seriously gave me a headache. Sometimes it still does. If you want to go with a stress free, easy route the choose a detergent on this list and be done! If you're like me and have to know more about it please continue reading.

A lot of women on www.diaperswappers.com said the best laundry soap was the one that works for you-meaning there is no 'bad' soap. The diaper manufacturers freak you out though and it can void your warranty if you use a non-approved soap. It's a nightmare out there people.

Here is a list of ingredients you should avoid:
Pure Soap
Enzymes
Whiteners
Brighteners
Softeners
Fragrances (anything scented)

What happens is these ingredients will cling onto the fabric-it's what they're made for. That will create a build up and you diapers will start repelling liquid-exactly opposite of what you want it to do. Some of the ingredients like pure soap is also harsh on the laminate of your CD. Enzymes and fragrances can cause skin irritation and rashes.

To get a good look at a few popular detergents and if they're good for cloth diapering take a look at a chart like this one. If you have an HE machine, here is a chart for you.  Also, here is a list of approved detergents that CottonBabies recommends (the easy way!). Now with that said, a lot of people use Regular Tide or All F&C. They both have brighteners in them, but people love them. One thing to remember is even if you do use a non-recommended detergent and it 'ruins' your diapers, you can always fix them by stripping them. I'll do another post on stripping them later, but it's basically just washing it, alternating in really hot and cold water until there is no more buildup.

A few things to keep in mind:
-If you have soft water you'll want to use less detergent, since it's harder to rinse out. Hard water you'll want to use more. Some companies like Rockin Green have detergents made specifically for your type of water. They also sell test strips so you can test your water.
-If you have an HE washer, you'll want to find an HE compatible detergent. Normally this means it is low sudsing.
-Make sure to accurately measure your detergent.

Powder vs. Liquid
I haven't found the most concrete information on this topic, but here are a few notes I have found. In general, I think powder detergent is considered better for cloth diapers. One of the reasons I've read on this page is that liquid has ingredients in it to keep it liquid, and those ingredients are harder to rinse out. They also create build up quicker on your diapers and your washing machine. If you use a liquid, make sure to clean your washer out more frequently. The other side of this debate is that if you use a powder, dissolve it in water first. Some people believe that powder doesn't dissolve thoroughly and can cause buildup. Confusing much?? Another thing I read is that liquid is better for soft water because you need more surfactant and less softener. Powder would be better for hard water since it has more water softeners in it. I wish I could give you a concrete answer, but until I find one it's not possible. I think this is a preference issue and a trial and error issue. I wouldn't stress too much about this until you choose your detergent. Then perhaps use liquid if you have soft water and powder if you have hard water-then go from there. 

WAHM Detergents
Another category of detergents are home-made detergents. Work At Home Moms will make detergent and sell them on Etsy or the like. My first thought was to go with this category, however these are usually powder and made primarily with washing soda which is a water softener. We have soft water, so this isn't the best option for us. Who knew hard water could be a good thing??

For me, cost was also an issue. We moved to cloth to save money, so I wanted to keep our detergent economical. Another main reason we went to cloth was to keep more natural items on our little guys bum, so I really felt like we should try to stick with a more natural detergent. So I ended up choosing Country Save. It was approved, it was in budget, people liked it, I was sick of researching, DONE. I had to realize that this wasn't a one time purchase. I would probably try different detergents, and end up switching a few times like everyone else.

I received good advice from someone online. She said start out with an approved detergent. This way you can see the way the diapers should work. Then once you're comfortable, feel free to start trying your families favorite or any other detergent. My goal is to make my own in the future (that works well with soft water!).

Once your a little more into your wash routine, I suggest coming back to this link here: http://www.diaperswappers.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1040786 and learn more about detergent. It has some great information.

Summary
Did I confuse you even more?? I hope not! In summary I would suggest trying a detergent on the approved list. If you want natural and cost effective-go with Country Save to begin with. Once you see how your diapers should work and absorb, then feel free to try others.

UPDATE---------
6 Months later and I've switched detergents. I didn't feel like the Country Save was getting the diapers clean enough and my little guy kept getting rashes. I just made the switch to Tide Free and Gentle 3 weeks ago. I also use a 1/4 c. bleach. The diapers finally smell clean and the rashes are basically gone. He'll still get one it the moisture is on his skin too long, but mostly gone. Yay! 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Cloth Diapering: A Beginners Guide-The Process

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This may seem like simple part of cloth diapering, but to me the process was SOOO confusing. How do you change them? What do you do with the diaper until you wash it? There's really no right or wrong way to to do this. I'll tell you how I do it and then other thoughts or things I've learned about it. A lot of this may be way basic information, but for me I was still interested.

Changing
So once the baby has soiled or wet his current diaper-it's time to change. Plan on changing at least every 2-3 hours at first until you know how your baby is doing with the wetness. Each diaper will wick wetness away from the skin differently so this will depend on which diapers you choose. You can adjust the time once you're more familiar with the process. I'm still changing about every 3 hours.

Some people have a changing station, changing table, etc. We're not that organized. We ditched our changing table once our boy got rolley polley on us. We change on the floor now with a fold-able pad. I have a drawer in our coffee table that I keep all the diapers, inserts, dry wipes and wipe water. You can set up your changing station in the babies room, the bathroom-really anywhere. I keep my wet bag in the bathroom next to the toilet.

As for the actual changing, lay the baby down, un-secure the diaper, and then depending on if it is a wet or dirty diaper decide if you need to use a wipe I don't wipe every time. I don't like to add extra wetness if it isn't necessary. If he's been in a wet diaper a while and I want to make sure all ammonia is wiped away, I'll use a wipe. Of course if it's a dirty diaper I'll use a wipe as well. We are in the process of changing to cloth wipes. I was using disposable, but it's just messier. I had to throw the dirty wipe away which is gross to keep in the garbage. It also adds to waste so as we are reducing waste with diapers, we may as well reduce wipes as well.

For wipes I got 24 wipes from www.Cottonbabies.com but really any cloth works, even ripped up t-shirts. I use a peri bottle I got from the hospital fill it with one squirt baby soap(about a teaspoon or less), 1 T melted coconut oil, and warm water. The coconut oil helps grab onto waste a little more. I squirt the cloth with the water and wipe the bum. I roll it all up in the diaper, put the new diaper on and done!

So a few notes:
1. I pre-stuff all of my diapers. I like having it done, especially since my hubby or my nanny could be the next one using the diaper. Some people stuff right before they put it one the diaper. This is good if you alter your absorbency (meaning how many inserts you use).
2. Some people pre-wet their wipes and keep it in a container or wipe warmer-this sounds good to me, but at 13 months my LO doesn't have a ton of dirty dipes and I think the wipes can get moldy if not used soon enough.
3. With the wipe water using the bottle it lasts for about a week. It doesn't stay warm but my LO is fine with that.
4. I'll talk more about it later, but be careful about diaper creams. Usually they're aren't diaper safe, but I'll go into this more shortly.

Spraying and Storing
Let's talk about 3 different kinds of diapers here:

Wet diaper only: Just put it in your diaper pail or bag. Done! Some people will separate the pieces at this point, I like doing that as I put it in the washer. It's just preference.
Younger baby without solid poop: Okay time to get a little yucky, but because of the consistency of baby poop, there's no need to spray off or put in the toilet. The cold rinse on the washer will get rid of everything and put it down the drain. For me this was hard to accept but after talking to a lot of moms, the washer stays clean. The other clothes don't smell like poop and all is peachy keen! Then place in the diaper pail or bag*.
Older baby with solid poop: You'll want to shake or plop the poop in the toilet. If anything is left on the diaper (or wipe) grab your diaper sprayer and spray into toilet. I just makes sure to get any pieces off. Anything else the washer will take care of. Once done, place it in the diaper pail or bag*.

Items you'll need:
Diaper Sprayer: I diaper sprayer is must for us. No more dunking and scrubbing diapers in the toilet. just grab the sprayer, spray off any waste and done. This can get water on the toilet so I just grab some TP an wipe off the seat. I got mine off of Ebay for about $30.
Storage: After you spray off the diaper you'll want some storage method until it's time to wash. Most people use a diaper pail. This can be any trash can, the white plastic ones work great. Some people buy liners for this as well which could help prevent you from having to clean it too often. My choice of storage is actually a large wetbag. I have the Planetwise Large bag that comes with a handle that can be hung on the door. Our bathroom is small, so this is a much better option for us than a large garbage can. The other awesome thing about a wet bag is it's water proof and keeps the smell in the bag really well. Even better, it can be just thrown in the washer with the diapers! I would suggest getting 2, so while one washes-the other on is in use.

Here is a great changing guide, step by step: How To Change Modern Cloth Diaper

*I use a product called Bac-Out from BioKleen on my diapers before I put them in the bag. This is a live enzyme spray that starts working on the poop and getting rid of the bacteria. After I spray the diapers. I do a quick spray of Bac-Out and then put the diaper in the bag. I'll talk more about this later in the Additives section.

Okay that's it on the process. Next up-The Wash!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Cloth Diapering: A Beginners Guide-Choosing Your Diapers

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Okay so you've chosen to go with cloth. The first thing you have to think of is "what in the world of cloth diapering do I buy?". There are so many options! Flats, prefolds, covers, pockets, organic, microfiber, snaps and more! I can't give you an complete view since I'm still learning myself, but from beginner to beginner, here's what I have found out.

Types
There are 5 basic types of cloth diapers. I'll go over them briefly. One thing that was confusing to me was the term 'diaper'. The term diaper normally refers to the absorbent part. A cover is the part that makes it not leak-the water proof part. You can get 'diapers' and 'covers' that are separate or all together.

Flats & Prefolds (with covers). Flats are just basically pieces of fabric that you fold to the right size and place in the cover (or wrap around baby). Prefolds are like a flat, but they're a little thicker with 'fold marks'. It's pre-folded and sewn, so a little less work. I opted for prefolds, however flats seem great too. I think flats are cheaper. You can either fold the diaper (flat or prefold) around the baby and secure with pins or a fastener (Snappi, Boingo, etc.) then put the cover on over the diaper or you can place the diaper in the cover, then secure the cover on the baby. These systems are the least expensive to purchase and the most economical because once the diaper is wet, you can re-use the cover until it gets dirty. So the cover can last through a few changes-which means you purchase less. Some people will alternate covers and let the last one air out until wash time or it gets dirty. I think that's a great idea! These kind of diapers are the easiest to get clean.

Fitteds are basically prefolds-but it's already in the shape of a diaper, so no pins or folding is needed. You secure on the baby with tabs that have hook and loop(H&L-bascially velcro) or snaps. You'll still need to add a cover though. It seems a lot of people with newborns use these.

*I'm going to take a detour and talk about diaper covers really quick. The most popular types are PUL or wool. The PUL are are shaped like a disposable diaper and made of a waterproof fabric PUL (polyurethane laminate). PUL is more breathable than the old covers made of vinyl. They secure with H&L or snaps. You do not want to heat-dry covers, it can ruin the laminate. Wool is another popular cover (but very expensive), especially for night time. They're natural and really breathable. They also only need washed once every few weeks as long as they're aired out when not in use. Most popular diaper manufacturers sell PUL covers.

The pocket diaper is a very popular diaper. These are a cover with a sewn in liner (usually synthetic). You place an absorbent insert in the pocket that is created between the liner and cover. There are many brands like this. These are nice because with the insert in the pocket you don't have to worry about adjusting it too much. This type of diapers are also very trim on the baby. You have to wash the whole diaper(don't forget to separate the insert and diaper first) after each use since the liner gets wet/dirty-so it's a little less economical. They can be a little harder to clean since most are synthetic materials, and the cover and liner are connected. You can also use prefolds or flats in the pocket. I'll double stuff mine for nighttime. I really like pockets.

Then there are All In Twos. AI2 is named that way because it is 2 pieces. All in twos are like the flats and prefolds but uses a cover and an absorbent insert. The insert is more like a cloth pad with no folding required.  The cover on these can also be reused until dirty. *In my opinion pre-folds are basically AI2s.  I think it's the insert that makes the difference though.

All in ones (AIO) are probably the easiest diapers because they're one piece. They're also the most expensive to buy and use because they're one time use and convenient. They're usually the best for child care providers, family, and reluctant dads. I have a few of these and I love them. I wouldn't say I use them more than my pockets though.

I couldn't decide which ones to get. Since I wasn't on an extremely tight budget and there were some killer deals on Black Friday I decided to try each category.

*Here's a great guide (with pictures) for you cloth diaper choices: Simple Mom

Closures
If you think the diaper type is the only choice you have to make, then I'm sorry to say you're wrong :). Let's talk closures. The two I've seen are hook and loop (H&L) or snaps. I like both! I can't say I have a favorite yet. H&L is basically velcro. I like this because it's familiar to disposable users. it's quick and easily adjustable. The downside is I think it gets worn out easier. Velcro can be difficult in the wash. The two diapers I have with velcro have laundry tabs on them where the velcro tabs can attach in the back of the diaper, but the diaper can still stay open to get clean. This is great as long as you remember to use them. I also really like the snaps because they don't get worn out as much, I think they look cuter, and my little guy can't undo them. Velcro could be easier for childcare since they don't need to 'know' what snap to use. My nanny hasn't really had time to choose a preference, but my husband doesn't seem to mind the snaps. It seems most people like snaps. I would suggest either getting a little of both, or just one or two of the kind you think you'll like least just to try it out.

Materials
Another option you have is what material to use. Most cloth diapers use synthetic materials, however there are options for natural and organic items. I haven't looked into this too much, but what I do know is I wish I bought organic. I decided to go with the synthetic. It's better than disposable you know, and I didn't have the budget for the organic (it's more expensive). I figured I would try what it normally comes with and go from there. After our first dirty diaper and some trouble getting the poop smell out I did a little more research. I guess pocket diapers and other synthetic diapers have a harder time with smell. The organic and natural materials get rid of smell better. They are also more absorbent. I think the synthetic are fine and I still like them (I've successfully gotten the smell out). I think this depends on availability, cost, and preference.

Quantity
How many diapers you need depends on how often you plan on washing. Most people wash every other or every 3 days. About 15 diapers will get me through 2 days. This will depend on the age of your child and individual needs. I've read newborns go through 10-12 a day! You should plan on changing you baby a little more often than in disposables. You want to change every 2-3 hours to prevent diaper rash from wetness. Some people go longer, but that is something you can play with and see what works for you.

Sizes
All of the diapers I bought were one-size. Most come with snaps that you can use to make the diaper smaller or larger. The Fuzzibunz come with adjustable elastics that help you make the diaper smaller or larger. Some brands sell newborn specific diaper or diapers sized in S, M,or L. I didn't explore this topic too much since my little guy is already 15 months and I 'plan' to potty train early. I did however notice that most people who use CD for newborns wait until the umbilical cord falls off and have a few diapers fitted for newborns specifically. My feeling is unless your planning on diapering right off the bat or you have an older child (or chunkier!) In diapers the one-size will be just fine. Plus, it's much more cost effective. Once I have another baby and have a little more experience on newborn sizes I'll come back and update.

Color
You can't forget color and patterns. These are the most exciting part of CD for a lot of moms. This is what makes it fun! Choosing color and patterns is a personal choice. I go for more of the boy/neutral colors. I'm not afraid of 'girlish' colors though. My doublers from Thirsties were the 'girl' pack.  I would suggest keeping neutral colors in mind if you plan on using them for future kids.  Another good piece of advice I read was to organize your types of diapers by colors. This makes it easy for other people (babysitter, dad, family) to know which diaper to grab. For example your AIO would be yellow, your pockets would be green, your nighttime would be blue, your playtime would be red, etc. I didn't do this upon first purchasing, but I'm moving forward with this method. I think it's a great idea!

Brands
To save time, I'm not going to list all the brands here. The brands I use are listed in the next paragraph. To see other brands (and what type they are) visit this forum stickiy: http://www.diaperswappers.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1245170

My Stash
So what did I choose? Here's my loot:

2 Econobums (cover with prefold-snaps). The prefolds that come with these are natural undyed cotton.
6 Fuzzibunz (pockets with microfiber inserts-snaps).
1 Thirstie (pocket with 1 natural and 1 microfiber insert-velcro). I also bought a 3 pack of doublers. I love this diaper with a double for nighttime.
2 Flips (AI2-cover with insert-one snap, one velcro)
4 BumGenius Freetime (AIO-snaps)
*I just bought 2 more Flips with organic inserts(AI2), 2 Bum Genius Elemental(Organic AIO) and 1 BumGenius 4.0(pocket) on a Seconds Sale.

Okay I love BumGenius. You can just tell they're quality made. I also really like the Fuzzibunz because they're so trim (meaning less fabric so babies don't waddle as much!). Flips are a great in between-they're a little better than the Econobum, but still good price and more than one use as long as the cover isn't dirty. The Thirstie is my go to diaper for night time-with 3 inserts it's quite padded, but all my LO is doing is sleeping so it's no biggie. Because it's so bulky it's not my favorite daytime diaper.

Again, I suggest buying a few of each kind to get you started unless you know what kind you want for sure.

Where To Buy
I'm definitely not a pro at this yet, but I like www.Cottonbabies.com . They sell a few of the brands I mentioned above plus they offer free shipping. There's also www.kellyscloset.com. I got the Fuzzibunz and Thirsties from their own website.

Oh and here's a tip-look for 'seconds sale'. This is basically outlet products, meaning something looks wrong, but still functions correctly. My doublers from Thirsties were seconds and the surging just looked a little messy, but I got them for a great price!

Here is an excellent guide to different diaper pieces: Changing Station Cheat Sheet. I also love this guide and what would be a good start up stash: Cloth Diapers Users Guide.

Cloth Diapering: A Beginners Guide-Reasons We Went To Cloth

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So I'm about a week and a half into cloth diaper and I LOVE IT. I really can't believe that I waited this long. I was so worried about the time it would take, but it's really really so easy. So this will be a long series of posts, but I didn't ever really find a good Beginners Guide while I was doing ALL my research. I thought it would be nice if I posted some basic information for anyone out there who is interested.

First my reasons why I decided to cloth diaper. First, I felt hesitant about the idea of disposable diapers. I didn't like the idea of chemicals on my baby all day long, especially in such a sensitive area. Plus, I hate wearing pads-so why would my baby like it for 2-3 years straight?? Second, the money savings is something you can't ignore. Most sites say people will spend between $1500 and $2000 in diapering one child from birth to potty training. We wanted to do our own math to make sure it was best for our family. Here's what it added up to:

I estimated we change him (at 13 months) about 7x per day.
His diapers come in packs of about 30 diapers, so a pack will last about 4.25 days (OUCH!)
So with a 30 day month, it is about 7 packs!!
I coupon for my diapers (Huggies) so I normally can get them for the average of $6/pack.
7 packs a month * $6/pack=$42, throw in $5-$10 a month for wipes and it's about $47-$50 a month. That's not even including diaper genies or other fancy stuff some people do.
Estimating we potty train around 30 months, that is 17 more moths of diapers. 17*$50 is $850.

I gave myself a budget of $200 to start CD, so immediately we save $650. If we would have started at birth it could have saved us even more. Also, with our next baby, we can use the same diapers, so that's even more of a savings. Just imagine, a family of 4 children would spend about $8,000 in diapers!

There are many other reasons to CD, another of mine is to be more environmental friendly. I have to admit, for being a 'granola mama', we're not much of a green family. We care, but it's just not high on our priority list. Oddly enough, the more 'natural' you go, the more 'green' you become. Now the thought of adding all those dirty diapers to the landfills makes me cringe. We throw away so many! So this reason has become my 3rd on the list. Of course the cloth diapers are so cute, and so soft. Also if you want to be more domestic-well this is a great way to feel like a 40's mom.

If you're worried about time or difficulty I will tell you from this full time working mom-don't worry. It's easy, barely takes any time, and feels so good to be doing it!

Next Post: Choosing Your Diapers

Sunday, November 25, 2012

My New Adventure: Cloth Diapering

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Holy Hannah. I can't believe we made the jump. I purchased our first cloth diapers on Black Friday. It was a great deal, we were strongly leaning towards it anyway, so we did it.

Let me backtrack a little. I quit my job. Yep, my good paying, many hours, weekend working job. I'm still working full time, but at a much easier, less demanding, more mom-friendly job. This will be a painful change for our family. We're used to having extra spending money. We've done 'rice and beans' before, but that was for saving purposes not because we were too tight. Well with this change it was much easier to convince my husband to cloth diaper (I also had to mention that the money we would save could buy a turbo for his car), but in the end the money savings won. I didn't think it would happen but it did.

It was fairly quick from that point. I talked to a few of my friends who CD, went to a class to look at all the options, left completely overwhelmed, and now I'm here. Black Friday came and there were so many great deals-I got 14 diapers for only $180. WOW! They weren't all the cheap ones either. Here's my stash so far:

1. 6 Fuzzibunz
2. 2 Econobums with 3 prefolds
3. 2 Flips with 3 stay dry inserts
4. 4 BumGenius FreeTime all-in-ones (AIO).

Now I am COMPLETELY new to this so I have no idea if this is a good starter stash, but it will work for now. I figure I can try out these, see which we like and then go from there. I also bid on EBAY for a diaper sprayer. We'll see if I get it though. I'm currently on a hunt for a PlanetWise Wet Bag, but I'm trying to figure out which kind I want. I have no idea what to do about a pail...should I use a wet bag?

As for everything else I'm completely overwhelmed. The idea of the laundry problems that can arise scare me. I'm not 100% familiar with the process of cloth diapering but I figure I'll learn it as I go. I feel completely unprepared-usually I'm much better researched and educated, but the sales got to me!

Any advice or encouragement is appreciated on our new journey. Maybe I should change my blog to A Little MORE Granola??

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Deficient Body & Fertility

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Sometimes God puts people in your life that give you a whole new perspective on things. For us, God put a lot of couples around us that had a hard time conceiving a child. I've known at least 4 really close friends that had to go to extreme fertility measures before they were blessed with their sweet child(ren). With these people around me it gave me (at least) two things. One-complete respect and awe for these couples that surpassed these trials, and two-a strong case of paranoia that we could have difficulties conceiving as well.

When we finally decided to have a baby, I was worried that we would have a hard time. I heard that 6 months to a year is completely normal. As we approached the 6 month mark however I started to get a little panicked. I spoke to other friends who took at least 6 months and I kept reminding myself that this is normal. Now I know some of you reading this probably gaff at my 6 months. I know that's barely any time. I have close friend-couple that took over 6 years so I understand that's nothing to some of you. Even with these reminders I decided that I could at least research as much as possible to increase our chances of conceiving and conceiving quickly.

One thing that I found while researching was in regards to the vitamins, minerals, and herbs that can help your body be in optimum condition for conceiving a child. Your body can be deficient in different vitamins and minerals that are needed to the best fertile conditions! I am by no means a scientist or biologist, but I figured I could at least pass this information along or at least document for myself!

For me (women) this is what I took:
-I continued taking my prenatal supplements to get Folic Acid and other good vitamins and minerals. Folic Acid is important to prevent birth defects.
-Vitamin B12 (Deficiency causes anemia which has been known to create fertility problems)
-Zinc (Deficiency disrupts the normal menstrual cycle)
-Vitamin C (helps with proper hormone production)

For my hubby (men) this is what he took:
-Vitamin C (helps with proper hormone production)
-Maca Root
-X Action from Nature's Sunshine
-Zinc (can help increase sperm count)

I found this information on an Nature's Sunshine Products forum. A lot of the comments talk about NSP products, however you can find most of these products anywhere. Here's the link if you want more info: http://www.nspforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=499.

The first month of us taking these supplements religiously, we got pregnant. I can't say for sure that these vitamins helped us conceive, it could have been a coincidence. What's the harm though? If you take the recommended doses and it helps your body get it the best possible condition, you may as well. It also gives you baby the best start possible!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Tiger's Milk

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I've been trying to increase my milk supply to help with my baby's growth. One of my friends who happens to be a doula introduced me to Tiger's Milk. It's milk loaded with lots of good stuff your body needs to make good quality milk!

Tiger's Milk
-1 cup warm milk (organic if possible)
-1 tablespoon coconut oil
-1 teaspoon of BLACKSTRAP Molasses (it has to be blackstrap!)

So how should this help? Well to begin with warm milk helps the rest go down! It actually turns out quite yummy. The coconut oil helps supply the medium-chain fatty acids found naturally in mother's milk, making it rich in these health improving nutrients. Blackstrap molasses is an iron-rich leaving from the refining process of sugar and a traditional remedy for low milk supply. It is important to choose a high quality product because cheaper brands may be diluted with corn syrup.

To be honest it's hard to tell if it's helping. I'm only pumping before bed and in the MOTN. It seems like I'm starting to get a little more milk. I started drinking this twice a day to really kick in the nutrients. We'll see how it goes!


Monday, July 16, 2012

9 Month Baby Wise Update

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Yay an update that is practically 'on time'. I had the choice between spending this time updating our family blog or doing this update. I figured this was more time sensitive, so here I am.

The changes we implemented about 3 weeks ago have gone awesome. We made the changes I planned (lengthening the time between the morning and afternoon nap) on to help with our morning wake time and they pretty much fixed it. Occasionally he'll still wake up 20 minutes early and play, but rarely does he cry the whole time. Here's his 9 month schedule:

7:30 Wake, Nurse
8:30 Solids
9:30 Nap
11:30 Wake, Nurse
12:30 Soilds
2:30 Nap
4:00 Wake, Nurse
6:00 Solids
7:00 Nurse
7:30 Bed

We also moved bedtime up half hour. Since putting him down later wasn't helping his morning wake time we brought him back to his 7:30 bed time.

One thing that has come up this week was at his 9 month appointment he didn't gain too much the past 1.5 months. His total gain since 6 month as been good, but all of it was up until 7.5 months. I think this may be in part to dropping his 5th & 6th feeding rather abruptly. I still feel he's healthy and gaining weight, but just at a slower rate than before. His pediatrician wants us to come back in 6 weeks to check his growth. Our plan is to start adding more fattening foods to his diet like coconut oil, avocado, cheese, etc. I'm also going to try to add in a feeding after I get home from work. I don't think he'll eat a lot, but hopefully get a few extra calories in.

I just finished reading BW II. It's a great book. The best part may be the fact that we shouldn't have to change Elijah's schedule until at LEAST 15 months; most likely 18 months. This will be wonderful-that's seriously 9 months of consistency!!! I LOVE IT. We'll see of course, but it should be nice.

The other parts that I'm really enjoying is talking about training and obedience. Balancing between baby-proofing the house and house-proofing the baby. Elijah is already really good at understanding what NOT to touch. He still tests and pushes boundaries-he's going to be a mischievous one, but I can tell he knows.  It also focuses on purposing play time. Using it as a learning opportunity. Eljiah is already learning so quick. He knows bye bye, milk, all done, eat, and starting please. He can also clap!

I'm not sure how often I'll do BW updates now. If anything changes, I'll be sure to come back!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Independence Day

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I've always loved the 4th of July. It's a day after my birthday, so I've had a special bond with it. I usually remember what it's really about.  A day to celebrate our freedom, to be patriotic, and watch fireworks. I think it's good to remember though that the 4th of July is no mere day. It is our country's day of independence.

Something about this year made Independence Day mean more to me. Perhaps I'm getting older, understanding more about politics, war, sacrifices our military make. I believe a lot had to do with me being a mom now. As I watched the jet's fly over head before our city's celebration, tears flooded my eyes with pride. As we were staring at the sky with fireworks going off behind a waving lighted American Flag, my heart swelled. I held my scared and tired baby boy, so thankful to God that he was born in this country of pride, courage, bravery, sacrifice, and so much more. I'm grateful that God has provided for this country and has brought it through so much in the past years. I'm worried about what direction our country is going, what my son will have to deal with. I'm confident that the American people will stand though, for what is right, what is noble. It may take a while, and there may be people fighting against it, but I pray that it in the end people look back to July 4th, 1776 and remember what our fore fathers did for this country and bring us back to that station.

I found this quote that I absolutely love, and I feel it really brings back the reason for our celebrations:

"The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires an...d Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not." (The Book of Abigail and John: Selected Letters of the Adams Family, 1762-1784, Harvard University Press, 1975, 142).
 


*It says the second day because that when the declaration was written, however it wasn't accepted until the fourth day.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hiring Out Services

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For some reason my new job has taken me to a new level of busyness and stress. Maybe its the fact that I can't slack off as much as a I was able to do with a company that I'd been with for 9 years. Maybe the work is more time consuming? Or it could just be because it's new. In addition, my little boy is getting older and needing MUCH more attention. This has led to NO time after work for things like cooking, cleaning, yard work, showering, etc.

I know I can't hire out showering...but what about the other stuff. I got to thinking, how much is our time worth? How much money do we have in the budget to bring in some help occasionally. How do you decide if it's right for you and your family?

We're a very frugal family. DIYer's if I may. My DH can really do anything, learn anything around the house. He re-did our roof, he just finished our deck. He does all the remodeling, fixing, repairs, and yard work. We never call a serviceman. Our furnace goes out...he fixes/replaces it that night. He fixes our cars, changes our tires/oil, etc. I have a handy-man available and I'm sooo greatful! However it does make it more difficult in deciding whether to pay someone to do things we're capable of doing ourselves. It really comes down to time for us.

What do I want to spend the few hours I have afterwork-with my son doing? Cleaning?? NO! Long story short-I thought it would be extremely helpful to hire out some help. Possibly someone to come in a do a clean once a month? Maybe someone to mow the lawn for my hubby every other week?

We NEED my income-at least part of it. Since I have a good job though, we usually have a little extra-we normally like to save it, but I figured that I'm a working mom. While I'm making good money, having to leave my baby during the day, I should at least get to spend quality time with him when I get home and not worry about the house.

In addition, we lost our new sitter-so we had to start looking for one. What an opportune time to consider a nanny. Someone to come watch our baby, and tidy up a little. We checked out the budget and it would work. I could still come home and feed him (it's even closer to my work!).

So now, we have a nanny, and I'm just scheduled my late mother's day gift-a cleaning service. Just one time for now, but I'm trying to find a way to make it monthly!

Now just to convince my hubby to hire a kid to mow our lawn...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

8.5 Month BabyWise Update

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Another 2 months has passed. It's been a lot of work, but his schedule is finally on a good track again!

After finally realizing that this learning thing doesn't end-I hopped on the BabyWise forum to get some help (a blessing straight from God!) along with purchasing BabyWise II for 5 month-12 month babies. Why didn't I do this months ago???

As I said in my last post, the CIO worked to get him sleeping through the night again. It's been great! I also didn't pick back up the MOTN pump, so I've been getting sleep! 8 hours again. Finally. Really, it's priceless.

After starting Babywise II and getting ALOT of advice from the forum, I realized that Elijah needed more wake time, more food, and he needed the dreamfeed and late afternoon nap dropped. Within about 2 weeks, we implemented all of it. It's worked WONDERS! He started his 2 hour naps again, he's eating SOOO much better, sleeping SOOO much better. He's well rested and happy again.

Here's his new schedule now:
7:30 Wake, Nurse
8:30 Solids
9:30 Nap
11:30 Wake, Nurse
12:30 Soilds
2:00 Nap
4:00 Wake, Nurse
6:00 Solids
7:45 Nurse
8:00 Bed

There's still a few little things that need worked out, but I have a plan and we're starting it today. He's still waking pretty consistently at 6:30 a.m. My late bed time helped for a while, but then dropping his 3rd nap through that off a little. He's getting much better at staying in his crib and being happy. He'll usually cry the last 20-30 minutes though-but he stays in until his desired wake up time. So to fix this, I'm going to try extending his wake time between his morning and afternoon nap. So his wake time amounts will be 2/3/4. I think this will work great!! He's usually REALLY tired by 2 p.m., so I may increase it in 15 min. increments. We'll see how he does.

I'm also going to increase his food by an ounce. He's usually comfortable after his 4 oz, but he seems he could eat more-so perhaps this will help with his sleep as well. I always sleep better once I'm full.

So I'll hopefully update again soon and let you know how it worked. It seriously feels like it changes once you finally get it. Oh well, the life of parenting right??

A few notes:
1. We keep him in his crib until his scheduled wake time. He plays and jabbers a lot of it. He still cries some of it though.
2. We now go more by the clock that we used to. Not so much the wake, eat, play schedule. He's old enough I feel comfortable with him waiting to eat. I want his body used to normal eat/sleep times. It is still parent-directed though-meaning I use my mad mommy skills to interpret what he needs (even if it's outside the schedule). The schedule is there to help us, not rule us.  LOVE Babywise.

Babywise has taught me MANY things. One thing that has stuck out to me lately though is that it really never ends. Parenting isn't just learning the basics with a new born. As soon as you get comfortable, you baby grows, his needs change, and you change with it. I thought I was 'done' learning once I got the hang of things around 4 months. NOT A CHANCE!!! That's when things went haywire. Now we're in the disciplining stage-which I get a feeling is training me and Tyler just as much as it's training us.

We've also started transitioning to baby led weaning. So instead of using purees, were trying to feed more finger foods so he controls how much he eats. It also gets him ready to eat on his own. We're doing more a combination right now, but he loves it.

I know BW isn't for everyone. I know some people CRINGE at the idea. I can't help but notice the difference though in the way Elijah sleeps compared with other babies though. He goes to sleep in his crib, happily-even excited at times, he sleeps 2 hours for nap times, 11.5 hours for night times, wakes up happy (most of the time), I honestly believe it's healthier for mom, dad, and baby parenting the babywise way. It's been ALOT of work. We're not 'lucky'. It's been so worth it though. The way I see it is you're exhausted and it's a lot of work no matter how you parent-so I would rather my exhaustion and work be directed towards an end goal that is the best for the family as whole. If you ask me 8 hours of sleep is an excellent end goal for mom and baby ;).

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Crying It Out

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It seems I've taken about a 2 month break from blogging. How did time go so fast!! I'll talk a little more about that later, but for now-I hope to be a little more consistent-once a week blog at least.

Being in the 'mom world' now I hear a lot of things about how each mom and baby are doing. It's not surprising that one of the biggest things spoken about is sleep. If they're sleeping well, through the night, longer than 5 or 6 hours without waking, how tired mom is, etc. My little guy has had his ups and downs with sleep. He started sleeping through the night around 11 weeks (just in time for me to go back to work-good boy!). We've followed Baby Wise sleep training and it's worked wonders. He's of course had wakings when he was having a growth spurt and occasionally he will wake early-but this momma is one rested momma.

Before you jump to conclusions that I'm so lucky, or have such a great boy who sleeps well-I'll tell you that isn't the case. It's taken A LOT of work on our part. A lot of training was involved. We let him cry it out when necessary. He, like any other baby, wakes out of habit, cries if he wants to get out and play,  & cries because he wants to see mom. For me, I had to decide what reason for waking was acceptable. Sleep is important for him, and very important for me. If I'm going to be a rested, happy, not-frustrated mom I need my sleep. Good sleep for him is a cycle. If he sleeps well-he'll eat well-which will help him sleep well. He needs to learn good sleep habits now, which will help him for the rest of his life-at least until he's a teenager and will sleep 24 hours without stirring.

I find it interesting that most mom's-especially with a baby past 4 months-fit into 2 categories. CIO and WILL NOT CIO. I can usually bet which category they're in based on their first few words. I'm not saying CIO is always necessary or will work for every baby. I know for my baby the first 10 weeks it wasn't right for him. Any amount of crying just made him hysterical. However it got to the point where CIO was necessary and it helped him immensely. I wouldn't go back!

I see posts on forums like "I can't take it anymore, so tired" or "baby just won't sleep! I have to rock him all night". But they will not even consider sleep training, CIO, putting them in their crib, not feeding them at every peep, etc. To me that's saying something like "I want it fixed, but it needs to be magical with no uncomfortable work on my part."  They just do not seem like they're willing to do what it may take, to just try it out for a few weeks. I completely agree that I do not know these situations and truly believe that you must walk a mile in their shoes to understand-but I can't help but wonder, would CIO work? If they were willing to try it, and it worked-where would they stand then? It's fine if someone doesn't feel comfortable with sleep training, but it does get frustrating that they complain a lot about it, but aren't willing to try a few different things to fix it.

I don't want to be misunderstood-I feel for these women. I do know that waking 6 times a night is completely uncomfortable, and they don't like it one bit (neither did I!)! I'm sure they wouldn't choose this-however it just seems to me when you're not trying some very supported tactics-you're not trying as hard as you could.

There is also some good research on the subject, I'm not going to post it because I feel my rant has gone on long enough, but feel free to visit this link for information: http://www.mybabysleepguide.com/search/label/cry%20it%20out

I really don't mean to offend anyone. Every mom and baby is different. CIO is not for everyone, but I think it could be worth a shot.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Feeling Worn Out And A Little Lost

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I have quite a few other posts in the works right now, but this topic is on my heart right now. I'm not sure if it's the stress of a new job or if it's that my baby is at a really fun stage so I'm missing him more than ever or if it's that I feel like our house is ALWAYS a mess, I never get to the gym, having to make dinner makes me want to cry, etc. Is this how us working moms/wives/women/person always feel?

I was at my last job for 9 years. I had a lot of flexibility and freedom. I was able to pump 3 times a day for 30 minutes, still take at least a 30 minute lunch, and was able to leave early or come in late if necessary. Being at a company for that long has it's perks. From there, I went to being home for 2 weeks with my baby boy. He's 6.5 months now and SO much fun. He's crawling, sitting, eating solids, 'talking', laughing and more! Then going from that to a new job where I should really be 'more dedicated'. I hate being the one person there who has to take 2 schedule breaks, come in later than everyone else because of taking the baby to the babysitter, and has to leave exactly at 5 because I have to get home to feed Elijah. Plus, I have to re-schedule or leave meetings and trainings around my breaks-especially because I actually feed Elijah instead of just pumping. I already feel like I'm the biggest slacker in the office! It's adding a lot of stress.

When I accepted this job, I knew it would be long hours and some weekends. I really wanted this job, and I really needed a job-so I was fine with it. Now that I'm there I'm having small panic attacks thinking of 3 weekends in a row or holidays that I won't be home with my baby and hubby. I traded travel from my old job to nights and weekends at my new job. I knew it was coming, but it's here and harder than I thought.

Then of course there's our desire to eat REAL FOOD. Which doesn't usually include quick fixins and take out. This is really important to me, so I'll continue doing it-but it still is 'one more thing'. Add to that my desire to work out more and  my 1st 5K coming up and needing to train. I went to the gym 2 days ago and was only there 5 minutes before I got a call from my hubby on what solids to feed him. I could only run for 15 minutes, then I had to get home for bedtime.

Let's throw in my desire to be a better wife, better my relationship with God by actually DOING my quiet times, have a straightened home (not even spotless, just straightened), making baby food instead of the jarred stuff, and tossing around the idea of cloth diapers-I pretty much want to crawl in a hole and never come out!

I hope you're not thinking I'm a complete wimp at this point! It feels like so much, like I'm going to have to drop something!

On the good side, at church this Sunday, I grabbed a few of our recorded services since I haven't gotten a chance to listen much lately with Elijah. I popped in a CD and our pastor was talking about how God is big enough. I haven't even gotten all the way though, but it gives me hope. He's talking about how we need to find our rest in Jesus. How life get's crazy and hard, and we need rest. I am feeling this need very much right now. I just need to figure out how to hand my burden to Jesus and find my rest in him. I'll hopefully finish the disc tomorrow and learn how to accomplish just that.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

6.5 Month BabyWise Update

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I really want to get better at posting my BabyWise updates. I plan to once a month. Here's where we're at now. Elijah had a growth spurt around 5 months old. It felt like it lasted FOREVER. He started waking up one to two times at night. My middle of the night(MOTN) pump went out the window, but luckily I was able to get enough milk for Elijah's bottles until I was done at my old job.

I took two weeks off and was basically pump free. During this time, Elijah stuck with his normal schedule:
7 a.m. WEP
8:30 a.m. Nap
11 a.m. WEP
12:30 p.m. Nap
2:00 WP (When we pick him up from the babysitters)
2:30 BF
3:30 Nap
5:30 WEP
7:30 BF, Bed

Around 5.5 months we started solids. Slowly, but with Elijah's growth spurt and waking up twice at night-I was hoping solids would help. They did a little. I quickly increased solids from once a day to 3 times a day, about 1-2 ounces per feeding (usually 4-6 oz. per day).

Right now at 6.5 months, we're in a transition phase. I'm researching appropriate 6 month schedules. Elijah was still waking up around 3 a.m. until last Friday. I decided that it became habitual since it was the same time every night and we let him cry it out (CIO). CIO lasted about 30 minutes then he went back to sleep. The next night, he woke up around 3 and only cried 5 minutes before going back to sleep. He's been sleeping through the night (STTN) ever since (about a week now)!

Now that that is fixed, I'm working on fixing his bedtime/morning wake time. I need him to wake up around 7:30 so that his 1st wake time isn't over 1.5-2 hours. Sometimes he'll wake around 6:20, and we don't get him down for his nap at his sitters until 9:10 (that's almost 3 hours!). So I'm trying to put him down for bed at 7 p.m. I have to admit for this working mom-that's tough. I'll try this for a week and see what happens. If it doesn't fix it, I'll try 8 p.m. and see if that works.

Once that is fixed-hopefully soon-I'll work on his wake times (WT), so I can drop his late afternoon nap. We have a lot to fix! Here's his messy 'routine' now:
6:20-6:30 WT (this is supposed to be 7-7:30) I BF at this time.
8:45-9:10 Nap (this depends on his sitter)
10:30 WT (This is supposed to be 11). I go to his sitters at 11 to BF.
12:00 Solids
12:30-12:45 Nap (we're going to try to extend this a little later to hopefully get him to sleep longer)
1:30 WT (This is supposed to be 2:00).
2:30 BF (I think I'll extend this to 7)
3:00 Solids
3:45 Nap
5:30 WEP (He'll usually actually sleep until this time!) I BF when we wake him up.
6:30 Solids
7:30 BF and Bed

As you can tell-it's really messy! When we created the first schedule listed, it was completely 100% accurate. It's crazy how a growth spurt and a month can switch everything around. It's true that as soon as you get used to something, it changes!!! I'll post soon once we get a good 6-7 month schedule in order. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Is Your Breastmilk Effected By Your Period?

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So you know on the last post about breastfeeding, I mentioned that my little boy was perhaps getting too distracted to nurse efficiently? While I do think that's becoming a problem, I actually think the problem was something else. I've noticed the past few months around my period (sorry guys!) Elijah gets really fussy while nursing. I remember that I heard the hormones can maybe make the milk taste different, so I did a little research. From what I've found, your period actually effects your supply! It's a little lower, or harder to access-so that explains the fussy baby!

He's still only nursing about 10 minutes total, but he's a lot less fussy about it. I think it's back to it's normal milk flow. I also read that taking calcium & magnesium before and during your period can help your supply! I plan on trying this next month. I'll also need to remember to drink extra water!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

About Bread

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So I've been researching bread a lot lately as I've been creating my Utah County Shopping List. At the grocery store there is usually only one brand of bread that would possibly fit the Real Food rules (if that!). So I went on a hunt to find the best kind for my family. Here are the things to look for:

1. Whole Grains Stamp- The most helpful tool to start with would be the 100% Whole Grains Label managed by the Whole Grains Council.  Here is the information from The Whole Grains Council website.

Basic Stamp or 100% Stamp?

There are two different varieties of Stamp, the Basic Stamp and the 100% Stamp.
  • If a product bears the 100% Stamp, then all its grain ingredients are whole grains. There is a minimum requirement of 16g (16 grams) – a full serving – of whole grain per labeled serving, for products using the 100% Stamp.
  • If a product bears the Basic Stamp, it contains at least 8g (8 grams) – a half serving – of whole grain, but may also contain some refined grain. Even if a product contains large amounts of whole grain (23g, 37g, 41g, etc.), it will use the Basic Stamp if it also contains extra bran, germ, or refined flour.
I don't use this too much because the bread I buy is usually local, so they're not a member of the WGC. It's a great tool though. Be sure to pay attention the 100% on the stamp!

2. Ingredients- My main tool is the ingredient list. I want less than 5 ingredients. Anymore, I put it right back on the shelf. These ingredients should be flour, water, yeast, possibly salt and a possibly a sweetener. 'Flour' is okay as long as it is 100% whole wheat flour. I believe this would just mean they possibly didn't grind it themselves.

3. Technique- The first ingredient I want to be is 100% WHOLE GRAIN. Stone-ground is even better. Wondering what the difference is? First, let's look at the anatomy of the grain. There are 3 parts. The Bran, the Endosperm, and the Germ. The Germ contains valuable nutrients and fats. Here's how I understand it:

There are a few ways to grind wheat. I'm going to talk about two of the most popular. Stone grinding goes back as early as the third century B.C.  It uses the whole grain, and just simply grinds it up. Because it's slower than the modern milling processes, the wheat germ is not exposed to high heat, which would cause the grain to become rancid and the vitamins to be destroyed. Stone grinding avoids this problem. It also evenly distributes the fats from the germ which causes less spoilage. So, 100% stone-ground whole wheat flour contains all 3 parts. The Bran, the Endosperm, and Germ. You get the WHOLE GRAIN.

The other way is Roller milling. This is the technique most large commercial mills use today. The bran and the germ is removed from the endosperm, they ground the bran and the endosperm separately and then are recombined. You usually don't get the germ (and the nutrients along with it).

So in summary, Stone-ground will give you the most nutrition because the Germ is included.

4. Sugar- The fourth thing I look for is the grams of sugar and sweetener that is used. I like to make sure it is as natural a source of sugar as possible. Honey or Raisins are two I've found that I like. The grams of sugar is important as well. Remember 4g of sugar equals 1 teaspoon. I want to keep my daily sugar to under 5 teaspoons if possible, which is 20g of sugar. If I eat a sandwich from bread that has 6g of sugar a piece, that's already 3/5 of my daily sugar allowance. So keep this in mind as well!

5. Local- I also like my bread to be local. This is important when you're purchasing 100% stone-ground whole wheat bread. Because the germ is included in addition to there being no preservatives, it will go bad faster. The fresher the bread (meaning made this morning and limited travel) the better!

I hope this helps you pick out a great loaf of bread for your family and takes out the research for yourself. If you live in Utah County, check out my listing of products I've found to fit my Real Food Charter.

Friday, April 20, 2012

My Friend, The Breast Pump...Whaaa???

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..whaaaat?? I know what you're thinking. "You just posted about how you thought it was your evil nemesis." Well, if you are a pumping or even a breastfeeding mom-you can admit that the pump has it's place. I'm actually EXTREMELY grateful to this little contraption. My baby boy wouldn't be as big, healthy, and thriving without it {in my opinion, nothing against formula}.  He's always had a great spot on the charts (between 50 and 80 percent)-not that the charts mean anything though, lol. He's never gotten sick! Since I'm a working mom, I have had no choice but to bottle feed him for a few feedings. I went back to work at 12 weeks, and stayed at that job until he was 5.5 months old. It was too far to go feed him 3 times a day. So I chose to pump, and pump I did. And more pumping. Did I say I pumped?

I pumped 3 times a day at work. I had to pump for at least 30 minutes each to get enough milk since I had an irregular let down pattern (at least from what I can tell). Oh and this was in my car, since my company didn't have anywhere for me and I didn't want to make a big deal. Even though my car wasn't the most set up, it was actually quite comfortable. I had my heater (it was winter), music, i could take off my shoes. It was actually a nice quiet time to myself. Occasionally I had to pump after I got home from work. Once Peanut started sleeping through the night, I had to start pumping in the middle of the night to keep up my supply. This was a milk-saving pump session. It wasn't fun to get up when I could be sleeping, but not only did it keep up my supply for my 6 oz. bottle eating 4 month old, it gave me at least 6-10 oz of milk. That would usually make up for a what I was short the next day. Adding it all up, I've pumped about 156 hours in the past 6 months.

Pumping is much harder than I expected. Here's a few tips for you (and for me if I have to start again!):

1. Drink PLENTY of water. Meaning more than your usual 8 glasses gals.
2. Eat OLD FASHIONED oatmeal in the mornings. This will up your supply naturally.
3. Pump longer than you would nurse your baby(even if milk isn't coming out!). Wait for the second letdown. Mine usually happens around 20-25 minutes. Most women has this happen around 15 minutes from what I hear. Remember the pump (no matter how expensive) will never be as effective as your little professional nurser, so be patient and work hard to get that milk!
4. Massage, massage, massage. Keep compressing and massaging to pull that milk out. Sometimes I would have to do it the full 30 minutes.
5. If you have problems letting down, keep a photo of you baby with you, a blanket that smells like them or brings sweet memories, or I even have a 'let-down' song that I play each time I pump. It's like ringing the bell for dinner. Your body knows what it means.
6. If you need to increase your supply, pump 5-10 minutes on each side after nursing or add on this time to your pumping session, again even if milk isn't coming out.
7. Remember, your milk is a supply and demand deal. If you demand it, your body will supply it. It works the other way too. If you stop demanding or reduce your demand, you body will reduce or stop your supply. This is why I believe most mothers dry out earlier than they wanted to.
8. If you're bottle feeding during the day, which most pumping mothers are, make sure to stick with the smallest nipple-size 0 ladies. Even if your baby gets frustrated with the flow, don't increase it. The faster the milk comes out of the bottle, the less they have to work. Our nipples require work, so we don't want our little ones to get lazy with the breast and prefer the bottle. Also, try to keep to the wide nipples. I made the mistake of getting the narrow Dr. Browns (even though they have the wide) and my little guy now nurses with a very narrow latch.
9. Try out some pumping accessories. I like the Pumpin' Pals Super Shields. I feel they really do bring more of the breast in the shield to get a wide 'latch'. If anything, at least you don't have to lean forward. I wasn't too fond of the strap though-I'll explain why. Since I have larger breasts (D's), I need inward pressure. The strap gave good lift, but not inward pressure, so I stuck to my nursing bra. I like the Simple Wishes one.
10. Have an extra set of accessories. If you can afford it and know you'll be pumping a while, get a few extras. An extra bra, so you can use one while the other one is getting washed. Extra collector bottles, regular bottles, and shields. I hated how every night I had to wash everything for the next morning. Once I had a lot of bottles, I did bottles every other night-which was great!
11. Now, I'm not guaranteeing this tip is the most sanitary, but I felt comfortable with it. Instead of washing your pump parts after each and every pump, throw all the parts in the fridge then you can use them again the next time without washing. If the milk is good, the milk on the parts should be fine too right? My little guy never got sick and this saved me time and sanity. I had a friend who liked the idea, but still wanted to rinse the parts-that works too! Whatever you're comfortable with. I only did this during my work pumps though. I washed it after that.
12. Invest in a good pump. If you're going to be using it every day, multiple times a day-you need a good quality pump that will help you pump fast and efficient. I decided on the Hygeia Enjoye LBI. It has an external filter that you can change in between babies or mothers! Did you know the average pump isn't approved for multiple users?? It's because you can't change the filter! Also the LBI has an internal battery that you can charge so you don't have to have it plugged in. I only have to charge mine about every other night.  This was how I pumped in my car! I would HIGHLY recommend the internal battery if possible. You can pump anywhere!
13. Here's a tip from a reader that I forgot-eat A LOT of protein!!!  String cheese, yogurt, even plant based protein is great.
14. If you're nursing as well as pumping, and one breast produces less-make sure your baby nurses on the lower-producing breast first. Usually a baby is a little more 'ferocious' when they first latch and they'll drink more-thus creating the demand.

Well I think that's probably enough for now! Let me know if you have any questions. I'd love to help.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

My Nemesis-The Pump (and a distracted baby)

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 It's been about 4 weeks since I've had to use my pump on a regular basis. It's been a glorious 4 weeks. Now, after I've gotten my hopes up thinking I'd never have to touch the evil thing again, I'm staring it in the face due to my distracted, possibly teething baby boy. Shall I back up?

I started a new job 2 weeks ago. Before that I had 2 lovely weeks home between jobs. During my time off, I never had to pump. Amazingly, and by the grace of God, we found a babysitter who is 1.5 miles from our house, and only 4.5 miles from my work. This means it's actually more time effective for me to go to her house and feed Peanut than to pump. Praise God! It's been amazing. Not only do I get to skip pumping sessions, I get to spend 15 minutes cuddling my baby boy during the morning and afternoon. To top it off, no washing pump parts or bottles every night. That assembly line has been shut down!

I actually had to pump for my morning feeding this past Monday. Peanut was at his Grandma's which is too far for me to drive. At first, I was almost eager to pump, it was like greeting an old friend. I was excited to see how my supply was looking (something you have no idea of when you're not pumping). After only a few minutes, I remember that I despised the thing.


On to my current problem, the past few days, breastfeeding has been a struggle, a wrestling match shall I say. I barely am getting 4 minutes from him on each side (if that!). It is SOOO frustrating. I just want to lie and the floor and throw my own fit, however my little man has claimed it already. He's way too distracted or could be teething (I hear they don't like latching on when teething). He's pulling off, looking around, or the worst- pinching my nipple and pushing it away! I can't feed him if my husband is anywhere near because all he wants to do is smile at Daddy (cute, but annoying). After getting some advice and talking to my lactation consultant, I realize that I may need to start pumping again during the day-since he eats decently at home. I gave him my chap-stick this afternoon while he was nursing which seemed to help, he also will play with my necklace, so maybe I'll throw on a colorful necklace and see if it helps. I'm going to keep trying the next few days-especially with the weekend ahead, I may be able to make more progress with him. I'll keep you posted, wish me luck.