The Wonders of Wool

The organic and natural features speak for themselves, so this chat is about how wool works for your baby, and later we will get into super-easy ways to care for it ( I promise super easy because I do it, and as the laziest wash routine person on the planet, I can tell you it is easy!)

-Why wool? The first time I saw a Disana wool cover I literally laughed out loud. Why some sadistic mother would put a urine soaked dog sweater on their child’s sweaty bottom was beyond me. It looked huge, uncomfortable, and the idea of handwashing something made my stomach turn. (Never mind I was a big dummy and didn’t actually feel it to see it was really pretty darn soft).

Then I had my second daughter, little Camille, who as a petite and tiny baby had a bladder that could take on any racehorse at the track. Every nighttime and naptime solution I tried failed. The poor child would have a bottom that extended four feet off her rear and it still became saturated and would leak. In desperation I thought I would give this wool thing a try, and two children later I have not turned back.

Wool by nature is anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. The lanolin naturally present in fresh wool, and present when you relanolize it, works with the properties of the wool to self-clean it. When you use it and urine gets on it, if you flip it inside out and let it air out throughout the day, press it on your nose at night you will not smell one thing.

Wool is truly hugely absorbent in and of itself. An easy way to see this is when you wash it, compress it down into a basin of water, and that little soaker will suck up everything in the basin. You can also enhance its “waterproofing” abilities with lanolin, by coating the fabrics with a slick, waxy substance to really give it some oomph in working for a heavy wetter.

The neat thing about wool, while most customers use them over fitteds or prefolds, is it is 100% breatheable, and truly can be used over anything you want. No different than putting pajama pants over a diaper, I use my wool over PUL pockets stuffed with lots of absorbency, you will not be trapping heat, so for the heaviest of wetters you have a failproof solution.

Wool is great to a point, but you do have to have adequate absorbency underneath. A prefold for a 2 year old isn’t going to cut it, we need to double up, fold in some hemp, possibly some other inserts, then try the wool.

May 29, 2010. cloth diapers, Diaper Chatter, Q & A, Wool. Leave a comment.

Q & A: wash routine & diaper creams

QUESTION 1:
What is a good, cost effective way to disinfect OBV Goodmamas to get rid of yeast? My regular prefolds I can bleach once a month but what about Organic
Bamboo diapers? I’ve tried peroxide with only temporary success, but I had to do it every time and it got so expensive! We’ve had to stop using them because my one-year old had terrible recurring yeast infections!

(A note on my wash routine: We have pretty hard water, and my washer has no hot water running to it. I prewash with 1/2 cup vinegar, then wash with 1 squirt Dawn, 1 Tbsp Calgon and 1 Tbsp Original Tide Powder. Once a month I follow that with one last wash with a cap or two of bleach, no detergent. We use a tumble dryer on hot.)

My reply to this customer was:
As much as we hear and read about the effectiveness of natural yeast treatments, the reality is they do not work 100% of the time with 100% of babies/toddlers. Some of these natural remedies include Tea Tree Oil, Grapefruit Seed Extract (another natural oil found in health food stores), and other remedies such as applying monistat to the child and laying the diapers in the sun to kill the yeast. These will work for some children, but if you are finding you have a yeast problem that keeps coming back, our stance is you do not want to put your child’s health at risk, and it is time to pull out the bleach. As much as it kills us to see pretty dyed fitteds, prefolds or cotton covers, fitteds and pockets fade, your baby’s health takes the trump here, and you just don’t want to mess with yeast, especially a strain that comes back again. I am one to advise bleach on the first occurance of yeast, you have to make your decision on the risks/benefits to using bleach, but I personally would want the problem taken care of once, and know my diapers have been disinfected. 1/4 cup of clorox will do this, on all diapers, inserts, wipes, pail liners, wet bags, etc. You do have to treat the child with an anti-fungal as well, your pediatrician will be able to prescribe one for you, and the child should be rash free for 48 hours before returning to the disinfected cloth.

Additionally for this customer, we wanted to work on the wash routine. Our stance on vinegar is that it should not be used in a regular wash routine, unless you have vry, very hard water. I mean hard as in you are scrubbing mineral deposits off of your shower heads once a week. Vinegar works to neutralize your water to let the detergent do what it needs to do, but on a regular basis can wear down your PUL and elastic, and it just isn’t needed. We also do not recommend Dawn on a regular basis. Dawn is a dish soap, and the hoses of your washing machine are not made to handle a high sudsing dish detergent. Many HE machines will not take this well, and you can void your machine warranty by using Dawn. There are other ways to strip diapers that are more effective and safe for your machines than Dawn. For 99.99% of customers, one tablespoon of detergent will not do the job on diapers. Diapers are fabric sitting in feces and urine for usually 12 hours to sometimes 38/48 hours, you wouldn’t trust your clothes or baby blankets to soak in that for that long with one tablespoon of detergent, so don’t use so little on your diapers. The only exceptions here are the customers with extremely soft water who can use that little and still not encounter any odors out of the dryer. Remember to press your dried diapers up to your nose and take a big whiff, if you smell any old feces or urine you are leaving bacteria behind to be put back on your baby.

You can wash cloth diapers in cold water, we have customers overseas who do not have hot water in their machines, and domestic customers who have trouble getting hot water to their machines. For these conditions, please email us at AbbysLane@…, it does involve more steps and more sanitizing then if you can use hot water, but it can be done without leaving behind bacteria or risking yeast to your child.

QUESTION 2:
Are creams quite as much of an issue with prefolds as they are with other diapers, e.g., pockets, fitteds, etc.? I use mostly pockets (FuzziBunz, BumGenius, Blueberry–my favorite) and prefolds. Perhaps it’s just because I find that they wash out so much more easily, but I don’t worry so much about the creams on my prefolds. Am I crazy and completely ruining my diapers?

My reply was:
Creams are a funny issue 🙂 Some customers can slather Desitin on by the bucket, wash on their regular cycle and never have a stain or odor linger. Other customers will try to use a pea-sized amount of Northern Essence cream or vaseline, and end up with staining and stink on the very first wash. If you are blessed to be able to use whatever creams you want without problems, consider yourself lucky 🙂

We do recommend our cream test to see how any given cream reacts with your wash routine:
http://www.abbyslane.com/faqs.php#Q12

As far as certain diapers retaining creams more than others, that really relies on individual washing conditions as well. Personally, I stay away from Desitin because it always burned my children’s skin from the perfumes. I liked to mix my own little batch of corn starch and vaseline, or A&D, with a few times having to use prescription creams like Calmoseptine (insanely tacky and sticky, but works beautofully for certain rashes). My personal washing conditions found these stuck much more to my natural fibers than my pockets. I did use the liners for the prescription ones, but didn’t see as many stains as I did on my prefolds on inners of my natural fiber AIOs. Some customers will report their prefolds wash out fine but their synthetic pockets and AIOs stink to high heaven. When you take the diapers out of the dryer, again just sniff and check, creams will hold onto urine and smell “fishy” and stale, you will pick up on the odors if your creams are leading to buildup.

We just stand by our advice to do a fleece liner test, if you can make flannel liners for your natural fibers (flannel is 100% cotton), you will get an accurate test for your natural fibers. If you do run into a stain, an old toothbrush and some Dawn (in your sink, not the machine) will scrub it out. If you have buildup on all of your diapers from creams, they will need to be stripped. In summary, you won’t have buildup or cream issues be odor free, you will definitely smell something if you have this problem 🙂

May 26, 2010. cloth diapers, Diaper Chatter, Q & A, Wash routines. Leave a comment.

Whole Milk

Ana is a mild mannered federal government employee by day and blogs at http://mammagiraffe.blogspot.com/ by night. She is a Supermom 24 hours a day to her wonderful 17 month old daughter.

It took a lot longer to feel like a mother than I expected it would. I certainly didn’t feel like a mother when we came home from the hospital. My daughter was such a sleepy baby that no matter what I did I couldn’t get her nurse. The lactation consultant at the hospital told me to undress her and dab a wet washcloth on her feet to wake her up. While that made her mad enough to wake up and latch on, as soon as she started to nurse she would drift back into fetal sleep. In fact, the whole nursing experience (the pumps, the mastitis, the sleep deprivation), which I had expected to be the bridge that would bring me into motherhood, did just the opposite. Weaning after 8 weeks allowed me to finally beat the painful recurrent mastitis, find pleasure in being close to my baby, and start to get my mommy mojo.

Once I could hold my baby close to me without flinching in pain I became obsessed with baby wearing. Looking down and seeing my tiny daughter’s round cheeks poking out of a Moby wrap made me feel like I was connected to the soul of the universe. I also became the master at “The Mommy Dance” – the crazy bouncy, swinging, waltz that was the only thing that would calm my hysterically screaming daughter during those “witching hour” evenings.

However, it wasn’t until close to my daughter’s first birthday that something clicked and I felt like my brain had really been rewired from 30 year old working professional to Mommy, and what made me realize it was, of all things, whole milk. From the time my daughter was born no major decisions were made without our pediatrician’s blessing. She told us what brand of formula to use, when to start solid foods, and even what kind of sunscreen to buy. But something about switching to whole milk made me realize that our daughter was not a myserious little being with unknowable ways and incomprehensible needs. She was a little person. A little person who I knew and had known since before she was born. And I was her mom and knew what was best for her. And I even realized that I had known all along what was best for her, better than the lactation consultants during our failed breastfeeding days, and sometimes, better than the pediatrician. So, I switched her to whole milk and I didn’t call the pediatrician about it. I knew how to do it, because I was, and always will be, her mom.

May 24, 2010. Guest post, Motherhood. Leave a comment.

Pick-me-up

Hey, it’s almost Friday, and I don’t know about the rest of you but I could use some self-affirmation….maybe we should all start our days off like this?

May 20, 2010. Fun. Leave a comment.

Burnt Toast

Pamela Reddy is the proud mother of 15-month-old Luke and wife to Jason from central Illinois. She has the privilege of being a SAHM and is constantly perfecting her role as “domestic goddess.”

Nine months after my son had been born, I found myself crying uncontrollably to my best friend – spilling my guts in an obnoxious display of snot and tears. I hadn’t eaten a hot meal, slept for more than a few hours at a time, or even showered every day in months. I constantly felt guilty if I left my child for even an hour while I did the grocery shopping. I had put my son and husband first and totally neglected myself since the day I had given birth. Teri Hatcher (yes, I’m referencing a desperate housewife) wrote a book called, “Burnt Toast.” The premise of the book is that women give the perfect pieces of toast to our husbands and children, and we take the burnt piece that’s left over. What a metaphor! When I realized that I had been eating nothing but burnt toast for nine months, THAT was the moment I felt like a mother. After reflecting on my childhood, I vividly remember my mother doing it, my grandmother doing it, my aunts doing it. It is our jobs as mothers to put our family before ourselves, and we eat the burnt toast without thinking twice. Don’t get me wrong – I will continue to eat burnt toast until the day I die, but I have made a solemn vow to myself to also take a couple of hours a week to get a pedicure or take a hot bubble bath.

May 16, 2010. Guest post, Motherhood. Leave a comment.

I’ve never looked back.

Sally is a twenty-three-year old SAHM to a five-month-old son. She and her husband have been married almost two years. They met in college and had a wedding the week after graduation. Sally loves blogging, white wine, cloth diaper laundry, and weekend naps with her little boy. You can read her blog at http://www.exploitsofamilitarymama.com

My son was born November 27, 2009. He was absolutely perfect in every way. I know every mom says that, but he really was. I looked at him and just knew I’d been waiting for him my whole life. I’m not sure that I felt like a “mom” yet, but I knew he was mine and always would be.

I spent the next couple weeks in the haze of new mother bliss. We knew my husband’s deployment was looming, but I pushed it to the back of my mind and drank in every last moment as a family of three.

On December 15th, my husband left for Iraq. He will be deployed for a year. I was facing a year with a baby I didn’t even know yet and no partner to help me in this journey. On December 18th, my aunt passed away from Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I lost my support system as everyone around me fell apart. She was greatly loved and will be missed more than I can even say.

Yet, Sullivan still needed me. He didn’t know his daddy was deployed. He didn’t know his momma’s favorite aunt was gone. All he knew was that he was hungry, needed to be held, and was scared in this new big world.

I grabbed that baby up and held on as tightly as I could. Sullivan became my rock. My little savior. Without him, I wouldn’t have pulled through without drowning in my own sadness. I couldn’t let myself fall apart with everyone else. Sullivan needed me. I was all he had at that moment. At 3:13AM, in the quiet of Sully’s nursery, in a glider with the hum of the noise machine and tears streaming down my face, I realized I was a mother.

I’ve never looked back.

May 15, 2010. Guest post, Motherhood. 1 comment.

Q & A on washing cloth diapers

Question one:
I was reading your last newsletter and wondering (and maybe this is a stupid question), but if my daughter has thrush but has not had a diaper rash, do I still need to worry about “treating” my diapers for yeast?? She has had a rash here or there for a day or two during the last few weeks, but they subsided w/just some CA baby calendula cream and she still had the thrush this whole time (in her mouth) so I didn’t think it was a yeast infection on her bum but maybe just the diaper being on for too long. Thoughts?

Our reply:
The mom instinct here is to say yes, they do need to be disinfected. If she is having reoccurring issues with yeast, even if it isn’t in the diaper area yet, it does mean it is a systemic inbalance in her for now (whatever the cause), and I would treat the diapers just to make sure the yeast isn’t present in them even if it isn’t causing any diaper issues yet. Do keep on top of treating her, yeast isn’t coming from the diapers, but for PUL diapers and inserts (anything but cotton print or dyed fitteds, covers or prefolds), bleaching certainly will not hurt them, and it may help you correct the yeast problem. If you have the above mentioned items, we can work on a more gentle way to disinfect (only since she doesn’t have diaper yeast issues yet, if she did I would say they do need to ble bleached as well), and see how she does while she fights the fungal infections.

Question 2:
You mentioned in the last newsletter that you had tips for washing in cold water. I was wondering what your tips are? My washer and dryer are located in a shed in my backyard and I have no hot water running to it. My washer is a regular top-loader. My wash routine is (all cold) heavy wash no detergent, heavy wash with detergent, and an extra rinse. I started out using powdered planet detergent for about 4 months, then tried rocking green, and am currently using original powdered tide. The tide seems to be working pretty well, but ocasionally I get some stink. The majorty of my diapers are BG 3.0 with some prefolds. When I can, I take them to my mother-in-law’s and wash them in hot there, and sometimes I have the time to boil a big pot of water to add, but it is kind of scary carrying it through my yard to the shed. Any help you can give is appreciated. Thanks!

Our reply:
First of all, kudos to this mama for doing cloth with this obstacle in her way to washing! I don’t like the idea of carying the boiling water, I can’t imagine the burns one would get from dropping something like that, so that needs to be nixed. There were two things I advised to this customer to help her washing situation. First, what will help her powder in the cold water, before she goes out to wash, in her house microwave a coffee mug full of water for about 2 minutes, then mix the powder in the water to dilute it. Essentially you are creating a “liquid” detergent, but since the powder will rinse easier than the actual Tide liquid, it is still a cleaner rinsing formula. Another option she has is to use an HE detergent form of detergent, it is safe to use HE in regular machines, just not regular detergent in HE machines. It will rinse easier with less buildup.

The second step, with any cold water washing we find that semi-regular use of bleach may be needed. Hot water is much better at rinsing out detergent, with cold water many customers have to use less detergent to prevent instant buildup from locking around old urine or feces, and when you cut bck on detergent, sometimes you do need a disinfectant. I advised her if the above steps with working around the detergent still proved to be smelly, she may need a capful or bleach every few washes to lower her detergent amount and still get the diapers clean.

May 14, 2010. cloth diapers, Diaper Chatter, Wash routines. Leave a comment.

Diapering a Newborn!

Our first daughter was diapered in prefolds and covers almost 7 years ago, eventually graduating to Happy Heiny pocket diapers. Our second daughter was prefolds and covers for the first few months, than into one size pockets (Bumgenius had just come out when she was born over 4 years ago), and then mixed with a few AIOs as she got closer to training. Our third daughter spent her newborn stage in fitteds and covers, then one size pockets/AIOs from older sister. With Sebastian I have learned something important. We always have advised this to moms of boys, but I now understand how crucial it is to keep their penis pointed down in the diapers. Boy, oh boy, when it isn’t, I can count on him leaking within 20 minutes out of his diapers. If you have a boy, do make sure he is aimed south, it really can make a difference 🙂

Sebastian is also a very heavy wetter, and also my smallest baby. He came home at just under 8 pounds (daughter #1 was born at almost 11 pounds, so he feels like a preemie to me!), so he was able to go right into Thirsties extra small fitteds, Kissaluvs size 0, Thirsties extra small covers and a few Bumgenius extra small all in ones. All of those fit ( I love aplix closure, so I do reach for my thirsties fitteds over the kissaluvs). This is my daytime stash, at nighttime he really only pooped once or twice a night right off the bat, so we do have success with some one size pockets at this stage. Only having to change every few hours at nighttime, versus 90 minutes or less during the day, meant we needed more absorbency. We also have a Gen-y cover in the newborn size that is great for the bigger fitteds, the large cut does well to cover them. The pockets I love for 8 pounds are: Rumparooz (I actually do like the snap fit on him), Tiny Tush one size, the aplix crosses all the way at 8 pounds, and now at almost 9 pounds it is still on the absolute smallest setting, Bumgenius one size, and extra small Fuzzi Bunz diapers.

I use a variety of inserts in here just from our collection over the years, mostly small microfiber inserts, small joey bunz, infant prefolds folded in half, and small premium joey bunz. Just last night I tried a Happy Hempy on him, under a Disana cover and it did very well also. One of our helpers at the store is my sister in law, who has a little girl now 10 weeks old. Little Hannah spent her newborn days in Thirsties Duo Diapers size one, and the discontinued Thirsties AIOs in extra small. Both did tremendously well for her, mommy Jenn really raved about the inserts that come in the duo diapers. Hannah was just under 10 pounds at birth.

Newborn diapering is about keeping the bowel movements contained. Now having tried really the whole range of things, if I had to pick my absolute favorites, I would have to say:
-Rumparooz one size pockets, Thirsties extra small fitteds and covers, Bumgenius extra small AIOs, Tiny Tush one size pockets, Bumgenius one size pockets, and Happy Hempys for nighttime. Jenn I know would add Thirsties are the name of the game as well, namely the duo diapers size one.

Are pockets are failproof for the bowel movement containment as prefolds and fitteds? Here is where it gets sticky (sorry, bad choice of words-LOL). My girls could not do pockets to save their lives until about 6 weeks/12 pounds or so. All three of them had hugely explosive bowels and while the pockets worked most of the time, they weren’t failproof like my prefolds and fitteds. Now to really embarrass my son, he isn’t as explosive. His bowel movements are just…less for lack of a better word. They stay in the middle of the diaper and don’t get to the sides. My girls are just super poopers I suppose, they could fill a diaper side to side, front to back in one bowel movement. Of course you don’t know this going into newborn diapering, so I stand by the advice that prefolds/covers and/or fitteds/covers will give you the best shot for the majority of babies, but those duo diaper size one, extra small AIOs, and even some one size pockets really can hold their own as well. A sampling of a few products with the bulk being the “tried and true” options will give you a good idea of what suits you and your baby.

My personal preference is to get into a system of all the same thing as quickly as possible. With 4 now under age 6, laundry is a constant, so having things as simple as possible keeps mom happy. I will be leaning towards the Tiny Tush pockets as we go through the next few months as he sizes out of the others, having trained Lucy out of them I know they give you a terrific size range on the larger end, she is 35 pounds now and could easily fit into them still if she were still in diapers, while other one size pockets have been outgrown (she is a sturdy build, very tall and a good waist size on her).

May 13, 2010. cloth diapers, Diaper Chatter. Leave a comment.

Mother’s Day Contest

We had so many great articles for our Mother’s Day contest that I asked Stephanie if I could raffle off an additional $10 voucher from among our many “runner ups!”

Soooooo we have another winner!! I went ahead and selected one random name from among our entries… and Mary Michaud is our second winner! Mary, e-mail abbyslane@aol.com to collect your prize. 😀

May 12, 2010. Fun, Motherhood. 2 comments.

Trainers!

We are continuing with potty training. This week we are discussing “trainers” and their purpose. Last week we talked about cues and when to start introducing the concept of using the toilet for your babies and toddlers. Many customers will email me saying “she is three and tells me after she has peed, what trainer can I get to motivate her to get to the toilet?”.

Trainers that we sell are for two purposes:

1. For children who need diaper-like absorbency for nighttime, but have sized out of diapers, or older children with bedwetting habits who want something closer to underwear. They have a stay dry inner material so the child is comfortable, and are made to optimize absorbency with a large stuffing pocket.

2. For children who are right on the cusp of training and just need a wetness cue to stop the stream and finish in the toilet, or for those times when they are trained and you are going to be in the car or plane for several hours and don’t want to miss those first drops on a full bladder.

If your child is not in those two categories, I don’t recommend buying trainers. 95% of our customers have their children train from diapers to underwear. Trainers don’t usually motivate children to train, and as they are as expensive as diapers, it just isn’t a step needed by most children. The test I usually put to customers to see if trainers will help, put underwear on underneath the diaper, so when the child wets he will feel it (this is assuming you use a stay dry diaper). If he pees right through it and is not motivated to finish in the toilet, he is not ready for trainers and just needs more time. If you are using natural fibers, like cotton prefolds or fitteds, and your child is not bothered by the wetness or weight of the diaper, they are probably not ready to train.
You can always try one trainer to see, you will likely find use for it on those first few car trips out of the house with underwear, but try one first before investing in several. See how the child reacts and then go from there.

Kids are funny, one of mine was very excited about trainers, but she was the one who didn’t need them at all, and she trained very quickly. Another daughter was about as excited about trainers as she was brussel sprouts, and took 9 months to go from “mommy, I peed in my diaper” to being day trained, and nighttime was even longer. Now, of course, there are those of you reading this who will disagree with trainers being a motivator, and there will always be those exceptions. For the majority of our customers we find the above to be true to form, so if you still want to try one, just do try one, and see what cues you are returned with.

May 12, 2010. cloth diapers, Diaper Chatter, toilet training & learning. Leave a comment.

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