Friday, 22 April 2016

Cloth Diaper Basics

Is there anything better than a chubby baby in diapers?! When they’re bundled in cloth diapers, they have the cutest, waddly bums! But is it worth it to cloth diaper your baby? When we got pregnant with our first, my husband and I sat down to have a conversation about diapers. Seriously, the thought of using up 12 disposables a day as a newborn shocked me a little bit, as did the calculations for how much it would cost! We did a little research and committed to cloth diapering our babes, and today we thought we’d share some of the cloth diapering basics we learned.

We’ll be talking about (click on the topic to jump to that section):
Disclaimer: This article isn’t intended to convince you to cloth diaper, or make you feel bad if you use disposables! I just wanted to share our experience, in case you were curious. I’ve also linked a lot of the specific products I use, but they’re just so you have a reference point. No sponsored or affiliate links here!

Why we cloth diaper

Saving money – my primary concern was the finances. We live in a condo where water and electricity are included in our condo fees, so the only cost we incur for using cloth diapers is for the actual diapers and any accessories we buy. We actually received a lot of our stash for free, so our startup cost was probably less than $400. On average, even if you pay for your utilities, you end up saving money by cloth diapering.

Environmental impact – a large percentage of landfill waste is composed of disposable diapers! The resources used to create disposable diapers also exceed the resources used to create, clean and maintain cloth diapers, apparently.

Chemicals – I don’t know that I’m fully convinced that the chemicals in disposable diapers are hazardous to a baby, but that’s what some people say. I figured we’d play it safe by going cloth. We use a natural detergent so I know what’s coming in contact with my baby’s skin.

Cuteness factor
– they can print all the trademarked cartoons they want on my diapers, but nothing will beat the beauty of a fabric color/print! There are so many varieties and colors to choose from, and they round out baby butts so nicely!

Faster potty training – Potty training is a whole other post, but I don’t know that having my daughter in cloth diapers affected how fast she potty trained (I think it was probably due more to plying her with chocolate and screen time. I know, parent fail. But she’s potty-trained, so I’m letting it go, lol). I understand the reasoning behind this, since cloth diapers let your little one know they’re wet, while disposables don’t. It was one of the reasons we decided to go cloth originally.

Reduced blowouts – because of the design of cloth diaper covers, we rarely had a poo blowout that wasn’t contained. Most of the time, the elasticized waistband kept everything in!

Types we use 


All-in-ones (AIOs) - These cloth diapers are basically the cloth version of a disposable. It has a waterproof outer layer and absorbent layers inside. Most of the pieces are connected, so you use it once and then you need to wash it. We pull these out when we have babysitters, so that they don’t need to worry about folding cloth, etc.

Prefolds (+ waterproof cover) - Closest to the traditional cloth diaper, these have layers of cloth sewn together for absorbency. These layers save you the trouble of folding a flat piece of cloth over and over until it fits in a diaper. They’re rectangular in shape and need to be worn in a waterproof cover before you use them.

Fitteds (+ waterproof cover) - Fitteds are basically an all-in-one without a waterproof outer layer. They’re made of cloth that’s been cut and sewn into a diaper shape, so it's fitted to your babys' body. You need to put a waterproof cover over these, but they’re great for heavy wetters!

Pocket diaper - We use pocket diaper covers exclusively, but don’t actually use the pocket! Pocket covers have a pocket (duh) where you can insert a prefold or insert to absorb wetness. When you change the diaper, you have the option of just changing out the insert and keeping the cover.

Velcro vs. snaps - I prefer snaps (basically, buttons) over Velcro, especially for longevity. Velcro tends to snag slightly if you don’t close it properly, and Velcro is also easily undone by curious toddlers who desire to run naked around the house.

PUL covers vs. wool - Most of the covers I’ve seen and use are PUL (polyurethane laminate) covers, although I’d switch to wool if I was braver! PUL fabric basically has a shiny plastic coating on one side to make the fabric waterproof. The covers are usually lined with fleece or minky so that baby feels dry. Wool covers are waterproofed using/because of lanolin (yup, that same stuff they tell you to smear on your nipples as they crack and bleed, which naturally occurs in wool) and need to be lanolized again occasionally.  I aim to use one cover for the whole day, just changing out the inserts. If I get poop on the cover, though, I’ll grab a new one.

Brands - Everyone I know uses a different brand of cloth diaper, and everyone I know prefers their brand for different reasons. I decided to go with Applecheeks and Bummis diapers because a few friends recommended them, and they’re manufactured in Canada. Applecheeks also have limited edition cover designs that are highly sought after (and apparently go for way more than the retail price). I grabbed some Applecheeks inserts (they’re nice and soft!), but also inherited a load of Bummis organic cotton inserts, so that’s what we use. I’ve also used Totsbots AIOs, Rumparooz pocket diapers, Bamboozle fitteds, random Japanese flat inserts as well as Mother-Ease fitteds and covers.

Useful accessories

Wet bags – if you’re going to use cloth diapers on the go, you need a place to store the dirty ones until you can get home and launder them. These wet bags are mostly waterproof and also come in super-cute prints! They’re also made with PUL, usually.

Cloth wipes – I personally don’t use cloth wipes, but if you want to know exactly what you’re putting on baby’s skin, there are tons of these available. You wash them along with your diaper laundry (see below).

Disposable liners - Solid food poo is the stinkiest. And it’s not water-soluble, so you need to make sure you really get it off the diaper insert.

Prefold clip – we used Snappis to keep our inserts wrapped around our kids when they were newborns. This is the equivalent of the safety pins our grandmas used to use. After you wrap the insert around your baby, this clip helps keep it in place. Once my kids were bigger, we opted to fold and lay the inserts inside the cover, so we didn’t need these anymore.

Diaper pail & liner – you gotta have a place to store the dirty diapers until laundry day! We use a fairly large one and wash the liner along with the diapers. We don’t lock the lid but we’ve never had a problem with odors escaping.

Diaper sprayer – for those messy poops that won’t come off with a flick of the diaper. These (the sprayers, not the poo!) usually attach to your toilet and allow you to spray off any solid waste that’s stuck to your diaper. I try to spray my diapers in the toilet bowl (not above it) so that I can contain splattering.

Spray shield – as you can imagine, aiming pressurized water at poo can cause a bit of a mess. I don’t personally use one of the plastic shields, but sometimes I wish I had one so I know for sure that poo isn’t flying everywhere. It encases the diaper while you spray to reduce the mess.


This is probably what most people want to know about! I often get asked about how much laundry I have to do, and whether it’s a lot more work to cloth diaper. With the stash I have, I only do diaper laundry once every week to week and a half. It’s super easy for breastfed babies because breastmilk poo is water-soluble so you don’t even need to scrape it off the diaper; just toss everything into the wash as is! Once your little one starts solids, you need to clean off any solid waste before you launder.

I use cloth-diaper friendly detergent that doesn’t build up, and I’ve only had to strip (i.e. deep clean) my diapers once to get rid of a funky smell in some of my diaper covers.

I like to tumble-dry my inserts because it makes them softer. I find line-drying them leaves them more crunchy and stiff, although I’ve used both and my kids didn’t seem to care either way. Tumble-drying until they’re about 75% dry and then hanging them makes them a bit softer, but not as soft as a full tumble-dry. With the covers, I always line-dry so they last longer.

My biggest hangups

Using cloth diapers on the go – you get used to trucking your clean and dirty diapers around, but it does increase your load. It’s also awkward if you forget that you had a poopy diaper sitting in a wet bag and discover it a few days after, once the poo has crusted on. True story.

Cleaning wet poops – if I don’t catch the poop soon enough and it smears everywhere, it’s more ick factor to clean it. Dry poops are easily tossed in the toilet but wet poops are clingers and usually have to be sprayed off.

Random tidbits

With our first, we started cloth diapering about 3-4 weeks in. I mean, seriously, no one needs to be a hero that first month, and I just couldn’t handle the thought of doing diaper laundry on top of the stress of adjusting to having a newborn. With our second, we started about a week in.

Make sure everyone in the household is on board. Bless my patient husband for coming along with me on our cloth-diapering journey! Through all the lugging and laundry, he’s been on board with cloth diapering. I mean, there’s the occasional day where he breaks and uses disposables, but for the most part, we share the burden of diaper changes and laundry. I think this is the sole reason we’ve been able to continue to cloth diaper. It would be discouraging and hard to cloth diaper if he wasn’t supportive of it.

We use disposables overnight, because both our kids are super-heavy wetters and I just couldn’t find a feasible solution for our leaking diapers. Seriously, the diapers ballooned to the size of little bowling balls because of all the layers and they still leaked overnight! No one wants to get up to a) change a diaper in the middle of the night plus b) change the sheets in the middle of the night plus c) soothe your child back to sleep in the middle of the night. We also use disposables when travelling because I don’t want to pack up my stash for a plane ride. So yeah, disposables ftw.

Also, can I just rave about cloth swim diapers here?! I mean, swim diapers are meant for the capture of solids, so why not just use a reusable cloth swim diaper instead of a disposable one? They’re super-cute and come in all sorts of patterns and sizes.

Let us know what your experience diapering has been! Do you have more questions about cloth? Leave us a message in the comments below or on our Facebook page!

Monday, 11 April 2016

School Readiness | Writing Your Name

I registered my daughter for junior kindergarten last week and almost cried in the school office.  Anyone else with me?!  As I was filling out the questionnaire, I started to panic about all the things I wanted to do to prep her for school, and this post series was born.  Follow along with us as we explore different activities that will help your little one get ready for kindergarten.

Now a little disclaimer...none of these things are actually requirements to get into kindergarten and most kids will pick up these skills throughout the year, so if you don't do any of these things before the school year, please don't feel guilty.  On the flipside, it will surely help the teacher if your child can open/close their own snack containers or write their name so they can label their art projects on their own!

For today's post, we'll focus on learning to write the letters of the alphabet, with a special concentration on your child's name.  We'll be providing printables at the end of the post and suggest printing them out and putting them in page protectors in a binder.  That way, you can pull out the pages you want and have your child complete the activities using a dry erase marker.  You can use them again and again to torture...I mean teach your child.
Scroll down to the end to see all the printables we designed!
Keep in mind that writing doesn't happen overnight.  I've summarized the steps we went through below, so just start wherever is appropriate for your child.  If they're already able to hold a marker and draw straight lines, try starting the name tracing, and so on.

Steps to Teach Writing Your Name
  1. Start with pre-writing activities (see the list below) if you haven't already.
  2. Download and print out the sheets (start with lines practice, then move onto the alphabet and name).  The images for the downloads are at the bottom of the post.  Just click on the one you want and you can download the pdf!
  3. For the name, I typed it out once and had my daughter trace it at first (Font: Coming Soon, font size: 200).
  4. Next, have your child use the name as a guide to copy it.
  5. Finally, have your child practice writing their name over and over on a blank sheet!
  6. Erasing the sheet was just as much fun for her as the writing!  For more writing practice, have your child erase the lines by tracing over them with a q-tip.
Tip!  Slip the printables into pocket protectors and collect them in a binder.  Use the sheets with a dry erase marker so you can use them over and over again!

Pre-writing Activities (Things you can do before writing)
  • strengthen hand and forearm muscles through activities like molding play dough, stringing beads, etc. (Check out this site and this one for other ideas!)
  • learn the names of the letters using the alphabet song
  • practice letter sounds (try using these examples)
  • point out different letters in books, signs, etc.
  • compare letters to different shapes (ex. a "p" is a ball on a stick, an "s" looks like a snake, etc.) 
Other Activities to Help your Child Write Their Name
  • Sing the letters of their name to a familiar tune (I did Kiyomi's name to the tune of Bingo, but don't get me started about how she sings it, "K-Y-Y - O-M-I", or about how many times I've tried to correct her!)
  • Draw letters in the air with a stick or finger
  • Use fingers to draw the letters in different materials/textures like sand, salt, rice, on sand paper, on a squishy bag (ziploc filled with glue or paint) etc. 
  • Use a dry erase marker or window writer to practice writing letters on the window, mirror, or even the fridge!  (Try it out first to make sure it will come off!)
  •  Drive toy cars over letters to trace them
We started with writing names, and then moved onto the other letters of the alphabet.  You could do all the letters first, then the name, but I found that my daughter was more invested in writing the letters in her name (oh those egocentric children of ours).

Let us know how your name-writing goes!  And be sure to share other ideas you might have to help kids learn to print their names!

This printable includes both horizontal (the image above) and vertical line practice (below)

This printable includes diagonal line practice includes both the page above and below.

Curved line practice includes the page above and below.

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