Cloth Diapers work for us!


When I was pregnant I became an intense researcher. (go to the bottom of the post if you just want info on how many diapers I used and for how long) There was a lot to learn that isn’t easily available to you. Media and advertising are pretty powerful. There are so many books out there with contradictory information. Parenting has too many grey areas, which can be overwhelming. What works for one person may not work for another, kids can be so different so even though you plan and read and plan, life happens. I can’t say cloth is for everyone, but I can say it’s worth a try. Worth a try to reduce landfill waste (estimated 450 years for 1 disposable diaper to break down) and your garbage bill.

You can also save money buy choosing cloth and your child’s skin will not be exposed to a lot of chemicals that are in disposables. Geneveve has been in cloth since day 3 and has never had a diaper rash. I am proud that we’re still on the cloth wagon and documented a lot of details in case someone out there is wondering, “How much will it cost?” “How many do I need?” “Is it horrible and gross?” and on and on. It’s hard to jump in and try something new when disposables have become the norm and appear to be convenient. I must add that it does help to have a parent at home, but there are more and more daycares that will do cloth diapers if you provide them. Anyways, I won’t make any more excuses. If you are interested, read on. If you are not, it’s your choice. We all are doing our best with what time we have and where our priorities are.

Showing off her tie-dye

But where to start? There are so many types of cloth diapering systems out there! Thanks to the internet people are selling used items, doing product reviews with honest opinions and providing information that can encourage and support your chosen path in pretty much any realm. And it’s creating community. I found a lot of support on the forums of I bought most of our cloth diapers off craigslist and diaperswappers. When I was pregnant I had two friends with kids and they lived across the country. I liked the idea of cloth diapers, but was it feasible? It sounded like a LOT of work…and poop is scary. And time is precious. But the environment is important to me. And diapers create a disgusting amount of trash that I wanted to make it work. And I’m scared of all the chemicals in disposables. Here I am, 17 months later, still cloth diapering and honestly, it isn’t and wasn’t that much extra work. Instead of putting dirty diapers in the trash and carrying it out to the curb, they went in the bucket and carried to the wash. So I had an extra load of laundry but I also never had to run to the store to buy diapers, these diapers are reusable and can get used for the next kid and/or resold to another mom to use on her kid. I’d honestly use a little extra water than have an extra bag of trash full of poop and chemicals sitting in a landfill for close to 500 years, among other reasons.

The hardest part for me was maybe the first month getting into a laundry rhythm since newborns dirty diapers a LOT which means laundry every few days. And when it’s so new it’s hard to gauge when to wash before you run out. That’s honestly a learn as you go since not every newborn has 12 dirty diapers a day (I know one who goes through more like 20!) We cut down on diaper laundry a lot when we started EC (infant potty training) which I have another post here if you are interested. But heads up because there are potty strikes, when Geneveve started walking I couldn’t get her to sit on the potty for at least a month. So now we’re not at an 80-90% potty success, more like 50% but I can’t force her to use the toilet at this point in her little toddler independence.

Just outgrowing orange edge

I kept track of how many diapers I bought, what I liked, didn’t like and when she had to go up in size. There are SO many cloth diaper options out there it can be overwhelming. I was overwhelmed at first. Matt was scared. But I have overheard him tell other dads-to-be that cloth diapering was the easiest part of having a baby. After my exhaustive research I wanted something simple but not time consuming. I wanted natural materials, not synthetic. Karen says it simply enough over at GMD: “Cotton has been proven to be a safe diapering fabric for many generations. It’s easy to wash and doesn’t hold stink like synthetics and stay-dry pocket diapers do. No repelling issues, either. It works. It’s easy.”

Flats are the old fashioned kind, a large square of cotton you fold and pin (or snappi! we love snappis! that was Matt’s condition on the diapers-no pins!) The next simplest method is prefolds, which I love. They are a little tricky when your baby gets in the wiggly phase but Geneveve has gotten past the wiggly phase and helps us put on the diapers now. But when she started walking I thought pull-ups would be the way to go. Regardless, I stuck with prefolds. Prefolds are basically layers of cotton sewn together with the middle third twice as thick as the outer third (usually 4 layers on the edges and 8 layers in the middle). Folding them is easy, I prefer the newspaper fold with a snappi but you can just fold in thirds and put in a cover. I prefer my fold because it creates a little pocket for poop and greatly reduces your chances of diaper blowouts. Prefolds come in about 3-5 sizes but they are significantly cheaper then the next step up, the pockets, all in ones etc etc. We tried those diapers (BumGenius, Happy Heiny) and they didn’t work for us. It was too much work to stuff the pocket then when it’s wet you unstuff it and have to get a whole new one on them. It also gets expensive if your newborn is going through 12 diapers a day.

A flat diaper, tie-dyed by me

A prefold costs about $2 each and a BumGenius is $18 each. (Flats are cheaper than prefolds and are usually one or two sizes so that is the most economical way if you don’t mind folding them. I think it’s fun, but Matt’s not interested. Flats clean up well, wash and dry really fast. I love the concept of flats but didn’t fall in love with them.) Since we are talking money and math, let me point out that you don’t have to pay full price or buy new diapers. You can diaper your baby from birth to potty training for under $100. Disposables average around $2,000 from birth to potty training for one kid. Cloth you get to reuse on the next one and not buy more diapers. And when you are done you can resell them! It’s pretty easy to buy them used (and it’s not gross). I bought most of my diapers and covers used off diaperswappers. It’s free to join and it’s basically a bunch of moms buying and selling diapering related items. The prefolds I love (and a lot of other moms love) are from Green Mountain diapers. Their prefolds are sized just right to fit into Thirsties covers (my favorite cover) and the owner Karen is SO very friendly and helpful. Her website has a LOT Of information on sizing as babies are just so individual sometimes. I think one of the reasons I love prefolds is that they are folded to fit her body every time. Pocket diapers have elastic legs and my little girl had barely a crease of fat on her thighs so leakage happened every time we tried to use those diapers.

Here’s two more links about disposable diapers and the environment (and I will get off my horse):

And don’t forget there’s a whole grey area with hybrids and biodegradable diapers. I do hear some controversial stuff as they still use the chemical gelling agents that are in standard disposables, but at least it’s a decent middle ground. Planning our vacation to Thailand this year I started researching alternative options and I just feel so nauseous about bringing a suitcase of diapers to fill their landfills up. It doesn’t feel right to me. Seventh Generation makes a chlorine free disposable but it’s still going to take as long to break down. I just learned about Nature Babycare diapers which are 60% biodegradable and GroVia and GDiapers sell 100% biodegradable inserts which sound like a pretty good option. I priced out these options and they all tend to run about $0.40 each with no reuse or resell value :) But luckily my husband is on board with me and we’re going to do flat diapers and wash them in the shower. I’ll let you know how that goes but I’m pretty happy to not have left a footprint yet in diapering.

Eve showing off her tie-dye prefold yet again

If you need detailed info on washing diapers, go here.

Prefolds are usually white. It was fun to have some colorful ones

And without further ado, here is my diapering log.
(born just under 7#, falls in the 10-12 dirty diapers a day category)

Diapers: I had 54 orange edged newborn prefolds (GMD) in rotation. I could have gotten by with 30 but it was nice to have an extra day to stretch laundry day. Laundry was probably happening every other day or every third day.

I tried kissaluvs because a friend LOVED them, but I didn’t care for them. They are cute and fit nice but i seriously love prefolds. hands down. I’m not much into snap diapers, I think I get a better fit with the snappi.
I was lent some second hand bumgenius and hated them. They leaked like crazy and stuffing and unstuffing them drove me crazy. They could have leaked because Eve has skinny thighs…I know some people love them but have heard that over time they get stinky (synthetic material!) and you have to strip them to make them absorbant again and the velcro wears out pretty easily.
I also tried happy heiny all in ones and at the smallest setting they didn’t fit Eve until 3 months of age, but I had the same issues as the bg’s.

Covers: The tiniest covers I liked were bummis xs whisper brite
Once she outgrew those I pretty much stuck with Thirsties.
I had 8 newborn covers. On a typical laundry day I had 4 covers in the wash. I could’ve gotten by with 5 or 6.

The orange edge lasted 3 months but some people skip this size if they know they will have a bigger baby or want to save some money and just start with yellow edge (Eve was a small baby and slow to gain weight…but if your baby is a chunky one they probably will grow out of orange edge fast. They were just nice to have when she was itty bitty (and resell well so i’m not worried about it).

3 months:
We switched to yellow edge gmd prefolds and I had 30 prefolds and 3 thirsties small covers in rotation.
We do laundry every 3 days and have about 2 covers per load. It also helped that we were dong EC pretty regularly at that point so you may still be doing laundry every other day. You could always get by with less diapers and do laundry more often.

5 Months:
Eve was 14 lbs and was awesome at the potty so diaper laundry was every 4 days and the yellow edge gmd’s were getting snug.
At 5.5 months I switched to red edge gmd’s and she’s in thirsties small. I had 18 red edge prefolds and 6 hand me down unknown brand blue edge prefolds (same width as red edge, a little longer) and 3 thirsties medium covers (and 3 thirsties smalls as backup) in rotation. I had barely 1 cover in a load of laundry because most of her poops are in the potty at this point.

7 or 8 months:

Diaper laundry was once a week but that was because she used the potty so much. Still in red edge. At some point I supplemented my diaper stash with 6 blue edge Imagine prefolds to stretch wash day. She had a “potty pause” as learning to crawl was more exciting.

13 Months:

We’re in brown edge gmd’s right now and we have 18 brown edge prefolds and 1 thirsties duo size 2 cover in rotation. I do diaper laundry once or twice a week. I do have a dozen flats on hand (from trying them out and not loving them). I like having them just in case I need them but lately they work great for accidents and spills.

She sleeps in homemade lanolized wool pants but under that is a prefold layered with a babykicks hemp soaker and fleece fabric cut to the size of the soaker so that way if she pees at night the hemp soaks up most of the pee and the fleece keeps her dry. It’s just a backup since she maybe pees once a month at night. During the summer she slept in wool shorties. I have one disana pair and one hand knit pair that are lanolized and the hand knit weave is too loose (and it takes too long to make! I’d rather just sew another pair with felted wool from old sweaters like I did with the pants. I did make newborn soakers with wool with the previously linked pattern but with a frog-legged newborn I didn’t want to wrangle her legs into pull on styles in my tired stupor. Velcro and snappis were simple and easy. I do love wool now, though. Wool is more breathable than the PUL covers, but bulkier. So we tend to do wool at home and PUL when out and about.

First steps!

I do need to put in a plug for legwarmers and ease of diaper changes and potty training. Eve spends a lot of her time at home just in legwarmers (babylegs are the popular brand (and easy to find used) but a local Portland mom makes some really fun ones as well).

I hope this helps someone out there!

Date Night

Last week Matt and I had our first outing sans Geneveve. Right before we left I almost changed my mind, but we would only be gone one hour and she just woke up from a nap and had a full belly, so an hour with our housemates seemed like a good trial run. Plus we had a Groupon for an hour at the neighborhood bathhouse, Loyly that was set to expire in days.

I feel spoiled because I have been to a lot of bathhouses and two of the best ones I have ever been to are in Seattle (Banya 5 and Olympus). Loyly was a nice, quiet, clean facility and it’s less than a mile from our house, which you can’t beat. But the options there are very basic: dry sauna, steam room and a cold pull shower (which is easier to avoid or just put part of your body in than the full body immersion cold dunk pool at Banya 5. I LOVE that cold dip pool as well as their salt water tub) It was very relaxing, nice to take an hour alone with Matt to sweat and be calm. And when we got home the house was quiet, then I heard Laura say, Mommy’s home! and Geneveve started crying! but not for long and they said that she was a little fussy but not the whole time. Apparently she liked it a lot when Eric beat-boxed for her.

I have another Groupon for the bathhouse at Common Grounds up in Alberta neighborhood, I think we’ll try that one on my birthday. Also a one hour soak, which is plenty of time for me lately and pretty much my max at time away from the baby. So far I have been to a cafe (walking distance) twice away from the baby but that’s fine, I’d rather be with her and have her know that I’m near. Everyone likes to tell me again and again that it goes so fast, so I try my best to stay present and enjoy that she needs and wants my company and I try not to think about the inevitable days when I won’t be the center of her universe anymore. Overall, though I’m glad we made the time for a soak, my aching bones need it! Lately Geneveve is very distractable and loves the world and people and it’s hard for her to focus on nursing and falling asleep in public because she’d rather see what’s going on around her. So the best success we have is nursing in bed and naps in bed, which is tough on my back! But I’ve got to love those Groupons! It’s a great way to save money and try new places. I just bought one for the Bar Method (just 5 classes) so hopefully that will whip my core back into shape.

My new “car”

Room for a puppy!

Shortly after moving to Portland, we joined the ranks of bicycle commuters and very rarely are in the car. It is really liberating not having to worry about parking, gas, traffic stress and everything else. I spent a lot of time researching and looking around the city for a used or new bike. Craigslist was a mess, most people didn’t respond to my emails or phone calls and they don’t usually put the size of the frame in the ad. What a waste of time.

I went to a number of local bike shops in Portland, the friendliest by far being citybikes, a worker-owned co-op. (Other helpful places were: North Portland Bikeworks, Community Cycling Center and the Recyclery). The employees literally took hours (and it’s a busy place!) to talk to me about bikes, walk me through the used bike room, figure out what size frame I need and the like. You can test ride bikes, but most of the used ones aren’t ready for the road. A really nice guy there got a used bike ready for me to ride (it took an hour) and after riding it we discovered it was about 2 inches too small for me. Bikes are expensive and I don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars for something that doesn’t fit me. For not too much more money, they had a new bike (that fit me) which I ended up purchasing. It’s called the Urban Xpress, a hybrid commuter bike with skinny tires, a mountain-esque bike frame and swing back handlebars that are supposed to reduce strain and stress on your wrists. It was customized by the workers at citybikes to embody their ideal get around town and commute in Portland bike.

So far, so good. I love it. I got a cute basket off craigslist from a woman who says it’s from the Netherlands, so now I can be like the Dutch, riding my bicycle wherever I need to go. I don’t think I’ll be pushing a work cart full of children anytime soon. Being on my bike makes me smile and I enjoy riding in to work, a little exercise before I start my shift. And I haven’t run over any pedestrians like I did in Seattle. At least not yet. Life is good.

Cheap Movies in Portland

We’ve been enjoying being within walking distance to a cheap movie theater and biking distance to even more.  I was surprised at how many cheap movie houses there are in this city.  It’s always nice to see a movie with a crowd and a number of the theaters sell beer, which is a wonderful concept.  I don’t have a favorite theater yet, but there is one that keeps disappointing me.

The Clinton St Theater is $6 a movie and $4 on Tuesdays, but their schedule has been wrong in the paper and on their website.  I’ve been there 3 times to see a movie and either a.)It started 30 minutes earlier than their website and newspaper said it would or b.) another event was happening instead (a hypnotist and a skate show benefit).  I was disappointed—they should at least have their own website be accurate.

All the other places we went to we didn’t have any problems with, and they were significantly cheaper.

I love the Bagdad Theater.  Owned by the infamous McMennamins brothers (who may just buy the entire Pacific NW one day), this 1927 theater has been revitalized but still has that other-era charm.  It’s a beautiful theater with comfy chairs and some rows have bench-like tables so you have somewhere to put your pizza and beer.  It’s $3 for a movie and sometimes has other events.  Hawthorne neighborhood.

The Laurelhurst Theater has 2 rooms for movies, also $3 second-run style movies.  They sell pizza (no vegan) and great local beer.  The rooms are a good size and there are some bench-tables for your food.  No complaints about the 1923 art deco building, but it doesnt’ have that luxurious feeling like the Bagdad.

The Avalon Theater is nestled in the middle of a nickel arcade and has 2 small rooms for movies.  The seats are a little run-down and there’s no beer, but it’s $2.50 and you can go play DDR and skee-ball afterwards.  Belmont neighborhood.

Another old building that the McMennamins brother bought and turned into a movie house is the Mission Theater. Originally intended for Swedish Evangelicals in the 1890′s, it’s now a great place to have the McMennamin beer and watch a movie.  Who thought churches were boring?  There’s some traditional seats in rows as well as some round tables and chairs.  The balcony is a nice place to watch the $3 movie from.  They also have monthly Science Pub nights, which I have not been to but sound interesting.

There are more movie houses in historic buildings owned by the McMenn’s but the only other one I have visited is the Kennedy School, which is really cool.  It’s an elementary school from 1915 that has classrooms converted into hotel rooms and the teacher’s lounge is a bar.  There’s a swimming pool (only available to guests and OR residents) and a large restaurant with a nice outdoor patio.  The movie room is in the auditorium and instead of boring chairs, it’s an assortment of comfy recliners and couches.  My only gripe is that the restaurant has consistently bad service, but the beer and movies are cheap ($3).  They have other events too, like live bands and cocktail tasting nights.

Post-Fast, Yoga & Meditation

Matt and I finished a 3 day liquids fast and are now enjoying the pleasures of cooking and eating once again. I always feel better after a cleanse and don’t feel like I’m carrying around any extra crap in my body. At least for today! I documented our fast on my food blog if you are interested.  I also wrote a little how-to day by day what we eat, what we do, if you want the details the entry is here.

One of my goals during the fast was to do yoga every day. I do yoga, but very rarely. Usually only when we are at a yoga center. For some reason, I can’t get into it on my own without a live leader and other people around. If I do it alone I just feel like I’m stretching and end up cheating or getting distracted. I’ve never tried the videos before. We’ve been checking out different yoga DVDs to see who we like and if any of them are worth repeating. So far the most intense one (and longest) is Power Yoga by Rodney Yee. Both of us break a sweat during the session and when I’m finished I feel relaxed, stronger and more flexible. It seems to be the most productive video we’ve done so far. The easy, slow ones are nice but I am very easily distracted and if I can go into a pose that’s a little harder, my mind stays there. So I’ve been doing yoga and enjoying it and it helps me go into meditation much easier.  Matt got a book called the Heart of Yoga, explaining a lot of theory behind it.  Perhaps knowing it will help me appreciate it better, and maybe do it more?  We’ll see.

Meditation is something I always intend to do and put it off.  It’s frustrating, I get distracted, bored and my mind races incessantly.  I know it’s good for you and all that but I’ve always avoided it as much as possible.  While in Peru at the yoga center I read some books on meditation and the like.  The one that impressed me the most was The Power of Now.  It’s a great book and has really good exercises for quieting the mind and making meditation easier.  And I think the author is Oprah’s new best friend. By the way, has anyone heard that Oprah is eating vegan, gluten free and sans booze for 21 days?  She’s doing a physical/spiritual cleanse and I think it’s really cool someone as influential as her is publicly talking about veganism.  The world listens to Oprah, not the little people.  So if she is looking into where her food came from and what it does to her body, perhaps more will not only follow but be educated.