Mommying BabyT

Mommy T's adventures; bringing up Baby T

Category: Cloth Diapering (page 2 of 3)

Jet-Set-Go: Cloth Diapering on Vacation

Now that babyT has been on two holidays, and one staycation and many weekend stayovers at family’s and having exclusively cloth diapered on these, I can assure you Cloth Diapering is #FTW

When I started off cloth diapering, I made sure I followed everything to the T (not babyT’s T) and generally made stuff more complicated than was warranted. But over the months and now with a year of CDing behind me, I think my routines and CD schedules are easy-peasy and I weave CDing around my life events and not the other way around. My household has not seen one disposable diaper since the early months of Ts life (I regret even that) and I have gone on to prove to family members that CDing is natural and easy and doesn’t inconvenience even on the go.

We just got back from a wedding in Mangalore and we cloth diapered over 5 days. We were staying in a hotel, and I am not sure if they had laundry service as I never bothered to find out, but we cloth diapered, oh yes, we did! Here’s how we did it. We took along:

  • 10 Pocket diapers with good old microfibre inserts
  • 7 Natural fibre AIOs for the nights & during the wedding events
  • 3 Hybrid diapers with disposable inserts for longish outings, road & air journeys
  • Grovia Biosoakers (disposable inserts for hybrid diapers)
  • 3 Fleece liners (never leave home without my colourful fleecies 🙂 )
  • 2 Wetbags
  • 15 Reusable wipes
  • Tiny bottle of coconut oil
  • CD friendly Detergent: Soapnuts by Bubblenut wash

Home to airport to hotel and vice versa:

For road and flight journeys we relied on our Grovia hybrid shells and Grovia biosoakers. Ok I admit that I was very skeptical about using something disposable, but Grovia assures that they are environmentally friendly, in the sense that they are made of biodegradable and compostable materials, contain no chemicals unlike sposies, and are fragrance / dye / chlorine & plastic free. And they are so incredibly thirsty. One biosoaker lasted us around 5 hours, no thanks to getting stuck in road traffic and a delayed flight due to fog. I had no intention of leaving it on so long. But after those 5 hours, while the biosoaker was heavy with pee, it still had capacity to hold some more & the gussets it comes with made sure no leaks sprouted.

For smaller trips which involve lesser amount of traveling time we are good with one All-in-One. I mainly use Superbottoms Plus. It has an organic bamboo cotton soaker which in itself is quite abosrbent. But I add a booster during trips.

Pic source: Google

Grovia Biosoaker in a Hybrid shell

The main reason I wanted to use Biosoakers was because I did not want the hassle of lugging around dirty diapers or inserts in a plane or enter the wedding party smelling of ammonia. It was a close family wedding & I was quite involved with the ceremonies to pay minute attention to dirty diapers.  Earlier trips had also shown that it was not so easy to find a spot to change or that babyT would cooperate for a change between journeys. Although I am quite impressed with the performance of Grovia Biosoakers, it remains debatable whether they are truly good for the environment. But it did mean a lot of convenience on our holiday.

For the day & smallish outings

Pockets and good quality micro-fibre inserts held well for day times and any other times we were just lounging around in the hotel room or our family’s homes.

CDing at Brittos, Baga beach, Goa, India

I use pockets by Superbottoms and their stay dry soakers (meant for covers, but I use them for pockets too.) They are incredibly thirsty and justify their price, as they hold around 3 – 4 hours for us. Micro-fibre also dries fast making it the best to use while travelling.

Nights

I rely entirely on my natural fibre AIOs – Blueberry, Thirsties & SuperBottoms, for nights or longish outings. I add a very light booster as babyT is not a very heavy wetter and we are good for the night. With the exception of Thirsties NAIO, the other two brands also dry reasonably fast, making them ideal for CDing on vacation. I did have one night of leak as babyT is a tummy sleeper, but I carried extra AIOs for the night so we were alright.

Storage & Laundry

I store all soiled diapers in wetbags. My ‘Superbags’ from Superbottoms are guaranteed leak proof, very spacious and keep all stinks in. I store the diapers in them before rinsing and once rinsed too. On vacation, once I reached the hotel room, I drip dried the rinsed diapers on the towel rack or hanging rod, until laundry day was possible.

CDs getting a luxurious dip in the bath-tub in our room.. the life these guys lead, I tell you!

I have washed CDs in the hotel room but this time around I had access to the washing machine at my uncle’s home and I washed twice. Nonetheless I have fond memories of me washing diapers in the hotel room – it was my birthday, we were in Goa and while babyT and his daddy slept (like a baby, may I add)… I was washing cloth diapers. And I enjoyed the quiet moment as I ushered in my birthday, doing what I love best.

Drying diapers

Many hotels provide a detachable drying line in the bathroom or the balcony. I usually dry stuff in the bathroom over the towel rod or the balcony. I have carried my own rope to tie up in the room, but never felt the need to actually use it.

How to plan for CDing while on vacation?

If you would like to extend your commitment to cloth diapering and want to try it while on vacation too, give a thought to these areas.

How many days will you be away?

This is basic and simple math, if you use around 5 diapers per day and plan to do laundry on holiday, carry enough diapers to last you for around 3 days. So that’s about 15 diapers. This is still a comfortable number even if you plan to launder every day. Always carry more diapers than you will need.

I do recommend taking along diapers which have good capacity and will hold well for longer periods. So I leave behind my fitteds which only last me around an hour and trust my pockets with microfiber to last us at least 3 – 4 hours.

The number mentioned above does not include night time diapers. For nights, I just take along 1 diaper per night that we will be away and 1 extra for good measure. This takes care of any leaks or accidents.

How will you manage poop incidents?

This trip, we managed poop incidents with our Grovia biosoakers. All I needed to do was plop the mess in the pot and throw away the soaker. However you may want to carry along liners – disposable or reusable to hold mess. There’s no guarantee that you will find a sprayer or the time to clean poopy diapers.

If you don’t have any liners or the thought of cleaning them still seems like a pain, cut up some old cotton fabric and use them to line your diapers. You can just throw them away when soiled and still be rest assured that they will degrade naturally and not harm the environment.

I would also recommend you carry wet bags vs. plastic bags. Wet bags are washable and reusable. Also they contain the messiest of messes, so it is worthwhile investing in a couple of these. Make sure what you are buying is waterproof and leak-proof in case you’re planning to toss it into your diaper bag or other luggage. Not all wet bags give you zero leaks. K

Where are you traveling to? What is the weather going to be like?

This is a very important factor… are you off on a beach vacation or are the hills calling? How much humidity the place faces and how much sunshine you’re going to get will determine how fast your diapers dry and in turn will help you decide how many diapers to carry along. If you’re visiting Mumbai in the monsoon (not exactly a vacation spot, I know) but chances of your laundry drying even over two days are slim. J

What access will you have to laundry facilities?

This is most important of course. If you are going to be away with no access to any laundry facilities, then you will have to rely on hand-washing where you’re going to be staying. I don’t give cloth diapers away to hotel laundry services because it is just too complicated to explain to them about extra rinse and no softeners etc. Besides you never know what else is going into the wash with your clothes. >:-)

So carry detergent along in a small container. I carry soapnuts along because they clean effectively without needing several extra rinses. They work well with all types of water – hard, soft etc. They are also gentle on skin and don’t harm baby skin even if some residue remains on cloth.

For reasons unknown, this is one of my favourite pics from vacation. 🙂

You may also want to consider carrying a small piece of coir rope (not plastic) along to put up a drying line. J

Cloth diapering on vacation is easy. It may seem difficult to think about, but once you’ve tried it you’ll see that it is no different from how you would cloth diaper in your regular space. Always be prepared and plan ahead. You should sail through if you’ve done your preparation well. And don’t be afraid to fall back on a sposie if need be. Your mental sanity and peace and the much needed R&R on vacation score much higher.

Cloth Diaper Laundry: my wash routine

There is nothing more therapeutic, so relaxing and stress busting than cloth diaper laundry. You may not believe me right now, but once you’ve taken the plunge into cloth diapering, you may agree wholeheartedly. I do my CD laundry in the evenings after babyT has drifted into slumber-land and I look forward to it with so much enthusiasm, almost getting crabby on the nights when babyT refuses to fall asleep and thus delaying my laundering plans. It’s the same kind of high I used to get on weekday mornings, after the maids would leave and the husband left for work, and I would settle down from the whirlwind chaos with a hot cuppa in hand and the day’s papers.

But many cloth diapering discussions I’ve had with newbies begin with cringing at the thought of washing pee and poop laden items. They find it to be an added chore to their already burgeoning list of things to do around a new baby. I can still reminisce about my early post partum days when I would be spraying poop off for the n’th time off a diaper and getting all splashy and pooey in the process and that too at some un-Godly hour of the night. Scary, but I soon found my mojo and I was so fond of it, that I did not let anyone else in the house have the privilege of doing CD laundry. 😀

CD laundry is not really complicated, but it is very important. You are, after all, using and reusing an item of clothing which holds not so nice body waste (although pee is sterile) and you need to ensure that the items have got a thorough cleaning and safe for the next use. Again, not at all scary to achieve this, follow a few simple steps, make it a routine and it will work like magic. So here is my washing routine and I can now safely say at this juncture, almost a year of cloth diapering, that this has worked like magic. I have arrived at this after quite a few trials and some faulty steps, but this is now a win for me.

Do note however, that I do not have hard water issues and so I have not encountered much of the issues which cloth diapers face (read: stink, mineral build up.) This is really a CD laundry for dummies kind of guide. It is simple, no frills and easy to follow. 

For ease of understanding, I’ve divided this into three categories:

  • Pre-laundry prep
  • Wash routine
  • Post wash care

Pre-Laundry Prep

Cloth diapers need to be changed immediately upon a poopisode or after a gap of 2 to 4 hours (day time, that is. Overnight diapers really do last overnight and don’t need changing until the morning, unless poop.) While many people are content just tossing the soiled diaper into the pile, I don’t advise it as it can lead to stinks, stains and not to mention degradation of fibres, fungus etc. Cloth diapers must be given a basic rinse before storage for laundry day.

  • Remove all poop with a scraper or spray off with the jet spray attached in most modern Indian toilets. or simply wash under a tap.
  • Rinse peed in diapers under a running tap or swish around in a bucket of water.
  • Squeeze off excess water. Avoid wringing.
  • Store either in a wet bag or hanging against the rim of an open pail/bucket or on the towel rod in the bathroom or airy place. Closed rooms and spaces are hotbeds for micro-organisms to grow on damp items.

I would recommend doing cloth diaper laundry on a daily basis or at max alternate days, I find it leads to lesser damage of any kind to the diapers. And for the hot and humid Mumbai weather, this is highly recommended. I have had a case where I left an organic cotton diaper in a wet bag for barely over 24 hours and it developed spots of fungus, nothing that a bleach couldn’t solve, but avoidable for sure.

If for any reason you must go beyond a day or two, dry the pre-washed diapers entirely rather than leaving them damp in a pile in the wet bag or the pail. I’ve had situations where I have a few wet diapers and going out of home for a weekend away, with no time to do laundry I’ve just hung the rinsed diapers to dry and then returned home to give them a thorough wash.

Wash Routine 

I have a top loading washing  machine, with separate inlets for hot and cold water, however the plumbing in my house doesn’t cooperate and it just too tedious for us to connect the hot water. So cold water it is. And the machine is a very simple one, no built in programs where only some higher power knows what the settings are. Below is my wash routine, which I ensure is sacrosanct, no matter where I travel to with my diapers.

  • Pre-wash cycle: this is a 15-20 minute cycle (depending on number of diapers and water level I set) and includes a quick wash, spin and rinse. I do add about 1/2 or 1/3 teaspoon of detergent at this stage. This stage basically removes any remnant solid particles and pee.
  • The actual wash cycle I follow and which has worked for me despite no hot water: 30 minutes of wash cycle, 2 or 3 rinses and spin. I use about 1 – 1.5 tablespoons of Rustic Art detergent for a full load of laundry (that’s around 10 – 15 diapers and other baby clothes) Basically, choose the cycle on your machine which runs the longest wash.
  • Water level you use is quite important. While the perception may be that a lot of water will clean better, what is more important is if the CDs and other items in the machine are getting a good scrub (against each other) during the wash cycle. This scrubbing action is what helps remove all dirt and grime off the items. Again beautifully described by Fluff Love University.
  • If you are handwashing diapers: Please consider machine washing as I have found it to be so effective in cleaning CDs. But if you still must, then
    • Soak the diapers in warm soapy water (same quantum of detergent) for 20 – 30 minutes. Avoid longer soaking as it is not needed at all and will only add to degradation of fibres.
    • Agitate them well, like really well. This can be done by dipping your hand in the bucket and swishing things vigorously or lifting and dropping the items rapidly. A good 10+ dunks should be good.
    • Throw out the soapy water and fill up some clean hot/warm water. Dunk/swish multiple times till the water runs clear of any soapy suds/ bubbles. This could take like 6+ rinses also.
  • For stains that refuse to go make a paste of detergent in water and rub onto the stained part. Let it stay on for about 10 minutes and then follow the regular wash routine. You can give it a light scrub if you like, too. Do remember, never soak stained diapers in hot water as it sets stains, rather than removes.

I’ve not bleached or had the need to strip my diapers. The wash routine I’ve followed works well for me and wherever I’ve felt that I have slight issues of repelling or decreased absorbency, 2 to 3 hot water hand washes have helped deal with the problem. I also follow the multiple hot water washes technique before I sell my diapers and using preloved diapers.

Do keep in mind though that if your child is fighting off infections like UTI or yeast, you may need to bleach your diapers before reuse. You can refer to the bible of CD laundry for this here.

Post Wash Care

After one successful year of cloth diapering I can safely say come rain, shine or snow (I wish!) CDing is easy and possible in any weather. Drying cloth diapers is child’s play and all it takes is back to basics:

  • Line dry in sun or shade. Sun is highly recommended for getting rid of stains, drying diapers faster and to kill any micro-organisms.
  • A combination of sun and shade drying is best, especially if you have a lot of natural fabric diapers (hemp, bamboo, organic cotton) as only sun drying tends to leave these materials crisp and hard. Nothing wrong with that, but the general perception is that only buttery soft stuff next to baby’s skin is to be used.
  • Oh but the horror of monsoon! Fear not – make the fan your BFF. Cloth diapers and other clothes dry well under a fan running at high speed. Depending on the type of diaper you use they can take anywhere between a few hours to overnight, to dry. For more details on successfully CDing in the monsoon read one of my first blog posts for Cloth Diaper Shop.

ProTip (geek alert): Hang the diaper such that the weight of the wet diaper is evenly spread out and not causing extra stretch of the elastics. Also avoid PUL being exposed for far too long to the Indian summer sun. Both can damage the diaper beyond repair.

Detergent

After being very nitpicky about the detergent I use, I have come to relax my rules and say any detergent is safe as long as it does not contain added fragrances (there is no such thing as natural fragrance in any item you buy off a shelf), softeners or brighteners or enzymes.

I would recommend using Rustic Art, it has worked well for me for washing CDs and baby clothes. But I have also used Tide regular and Surf Excel at times, although I do find even regular Surf is pretty strong and harsh on my skin.

I would also highly recommend soapnuts for washing your clothes (baby et al) It is completely natural and leaves clothes ‘oh-so-soft’ It gives me a great sense of satisfaction to know that I am not adding to water pollution. However it did not clean my natural fabrics such as hemp as thoroughly as the material warranted. Also soapnuts tend to leave a yellowish-creamish tinge on the bright white coloured clothes, redundant on coloured clothes of course.

My learning from CDing babyT for a year now are keep it simple, make sure its effective and be regular with it. Have a particular cloth diaper laundry query? Leave a comment here and I will respond to you asap.

 

 

Breastfeeding, Baby-wearing, Cloth-diapering: an afternoon spent learning & sharing with JAMMS

The afternoon of December 4th saw a few of our JAMMS mommies and their adorable babies get together at Lil Monsters Café and Playarea, Chandivali for a Baby and Me workshop. The participants got to meet and understand areas of natural parenting from experts in the fields of breastfeeding, baby-wearing and cloth diapering.

JAMMS mommies at the Baby & me workshop on 4/12/16

JAMMS mommies at the Baby & me workshop on 4/12/16

First up was Dr. Zinal Unadkat, a practicing pediatrician and a certified lactation consultant. She is one of the first professionals in India to have acquired this certification and has helped countless mothers fulfill their dream of breastfeeding their babies. Dr Zinal spoke of the importance of the magic of breast crawl and the importance of feeding baby within the first hour of birth, exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, and newer methods of weaning like Baby Led Weaning. She reinforced the need for demand feeding babies as breast milk is so much more than just food, its mommy’s love and providing comfort to the child in this new world they have arrived into. It was inspiring to hear real examples, from Dr Zinal, of the many strong mothers who resolved to do the best for their babies even while juggling the pressures of home, work and society. Her emphasis on using modern methods like breast pumps to feed baby breast milk even when the mother is not around baby, gave some of the participating mothers hope of regaining their career aspirations, without compromising on the best for their baby.

Dr Zinal talking about the many miracles of breastfeeding

Dr Zinal talking about the many miracles of breastfeeding

Vinkita, mommy of lil Vihaan had this to say, “Dr Zinal was great at giving us the right knowledge about care for infants and the right attitude about motherhood. A lot of myths and beliefs that we follow were scientifically reasoned out.”

Baby-wearing is not a new concept with many cultures across the world practicing it from time immemorial and Smita Jain-Lunawat from Cuddle-n-Care, amazed us all with a range of baby carriers to suit every mother and baby at various stages in their journey. She had on display carriers like wraps, ring slings, soft structured carrier (SSC) and a mei-tai. Smita demonstrated how each carrier is worn and even took the opportunity to carry some babies to show how comfortable and easy it was to baby-wear. She spoke of how baby-wearing has helped mothers comfort their baby, tide by difficult phases such as illness, teething etc. and showed how it is possible to even breastfeed discreetly in a baby carrier.

Smita of Cuddle-n-Care demonstrating the various types of baby carriers

Smita of Cuddle-n-Care demonstrating the various types of baby carriers

Mothers at the workshop were encouraged to try on the carriers that Smita had brought along. It was heartening to see the tiny little squishes cuddle up to their mommy in the great quality carriers Cuddle n Care provides. Neha, a participant mother found the baby-wearing session most useful and said that baby-wearing was “something very new which I was not aware of. I got to know the various varieties which are available and which is suitable for what stage of baby’s growth. The best part was that I was able to get hands-on by wearing my baby. I would not have learnt it in a better way and with certified experts around for help.”

The final session for the evening was conducted by Pallavi Utagi of Superbottoms cloth diapers. Cloth diapers are modern versions of the traditional nappies which ensures that baby diapering needs are taken care of in a safe, efficient and effective manner, while at the same time promising to be more environmentally-friendly, cost saving and safe for baby’s delicate skin. No more chemical filled disposable diapers and no changing langots (traditional nappies), clothes and bedding every single time baby pees. Complete convenience for mommies and caregivers; and no cranky babies. Pallavi also had on display some Superbottoms cloth diapers to help us understand the different types available such as covers, pockets and all-in-one diapers. She explained the benefits and advantages of each type of diaper. Not to mention we got to see the adorable and quirky desi prints that Superbottoms has on offer.

Pallavi of Superbottoms talks of how Cloth Diapers are so much better than disposables

Pallavi of Superbottoms talks of how Cloth Diapers are so much better than disposables

JAMMS mommy Dheera Shah who attended the session with her adorable little baby girl, found the Superbottoms session to be “awesome. Such cute designs and plus so many benefits, super cost effective too. I am using all of it and enjoying every bit of it” and mommy Neha is super enthused to try cloth diapers for her baby, “after getting so many positive reviews and even knowing that some mothers have used it while traveling.” She added that “the session has boosted my confidence to go ahead and buy it.”

A special mention must be made for the Lil Monsters Café and Play-area, started and run by an ex-banker Srinitya and managed along with Deepali Shah. It houses a quaint café at the ground floor and a cosy play-area for the little ones on the mezzanine level. Complete with a maze, ball pit, trampoline, large sized board games like Jenga, Connect4 etc. and plenty of place to run around, it kept our little ones busy during the Baby and me sessions. I was a little apprehensive of leaving my 11 month old alone in the play-area but the caretakers there did a great job of engaging him and keeping him happy while I focused on the workshop. I was very satisfied and relieved to have a few moments without worrying about what babyT was up to.  Fellow mommy Neha adds that she found the place to be “very spacious and hygienic, very comfortable to sit there and attend the sessions. They also have a separate section for mothers to breastfeed which made things so easy.”

A sneak peek into the Lil Monsters play-area, the LM team with Ritu of JAMMS

A sneak peek into the Lil Monsters play-area, the LM team with Ritu of JAMMS

Overall it was a great networking and knowledge sharing session. It was wonderful to meet fellow mommies who we interact with on the JAMMS WhatsApp groups, was great to put a face to the names. It was a great pleasure to meet Ritu Gorai – Founder of JAMMS, and very heartening to note that she personally attends all JAMMS networking events. Getting to learn from each other’s experiences and getting to see baby care products first hand was very helpful. Mommy Dheera sums it up beautifully when she says, “The workshop was very informative, many misconceptions were cleared and lots of knowledge was gained… breastfeeding, baby-wearing and cloth diapering were all perfectly covered and we enjoyed the sessions immensely.”

About JAMMSJourney about Mast Moms, initiated by Ritu Gorai, is an award winning Mumbai, Thane & Navi Mumbai moms only support group for networking that started in April 2014 and has been steadily expanding and evolving since then. It boasts of over 15,000 moms from various fields who connect and communicate online and  meet offline every month during one of their complementary workshops, paid seminars and other events. JAMMS operates on a self sustainable model and has a team of 16 mothers that volunteer to run the network. JAMMS has groups for moms-to-be, new moms, grandmothers, single moms, moms of twins/ triplets, mom bloggers, HR corporates, artists, lawyers, book clubs and many more. If you are a Mumbai mom and would like to be a part of this wonderful community, go to their website here or connect with them on jammsnetwork@gmail.com / +91-9930203454. They also have a presence on social media on Twitter  and Instagram

Prepping Cloth Diapers

Fluff mail

Fluff mail: Smart Bottoms (3.1 in J&J), Blueberry (Rainbow waves in organic), TotsBots Easyfit (Shoemaker & the elves), Smart Bottoms (3.1 in Luminescent Adventure), Bambino Mio (Zebra crossing), Grovia (Chesapeake Bay), TotsBots Bamboozle

After months of agonizing wait (me)  and traveling distant shores and seven seas (USA to UK to Mumbai, via some Middle Eastern countries) these diapers reached me this week. This is them fresh out of the bags. I held them, touched them, gave them a little hug, admired them from all angles, probably like I did with T when he was put into my arms. It was so difficult to untag these beauties. But they are meant to go OTB (on the bum, in cloth diaper parlance) so off they went for ‘prepping’.

Prepping is a word you will hear often in the cloth diapering world. It basically means getting the cloth diapers ready to do their job, i.e. hold pee and poo. No rocket science there, is it? Oh but there is. There is a lot of science behind cloth diapering and its just one of these things about CDing which make me go weak in the knees. 🙂

Cloth diapers, are made of cloth, duh! No surprises. And cloth comes in all forms and types – natural (although experts will say there is nothing natural about the so-called natural fabrics which still have to be processed to get them into a recognizably usable state.) and synthetics (which undergo vigorous processing using chemicals and structured methods to give them their identity. ) Basically all this processing and running around machines in factories, mills and workshops gets them to a stage where they look functional, but they still need to be brought up to a level where they are functioning as effectively as they are meant to. That’s where prepping comes in.

Natural fabrics like hemp and organic cotton, contain a lot of their natural oils (oil repels moisture) and hence cannot absorb liquids readily. A good washing is needed, and several ones at that, to get rid of those natural oils and get the fibres ready to hold. Once fully prepped, there’s nothing quite like the efficiency of natural fabrics in cloth diapering. Synthetic fabrics don’t really contain any oils per se, but they are highly processed remember, so they do tend to pick up the processing elements and a lot of the factory dust, which needs to be washed away before ending up OTB.

Having said that prepping is no rocket science, but it can still be a daunting task. I remember how my first bamboo AIO sat on the shelf for weeks, because I was too scared to ruin it and never had the perfect set of dirty laundry, read: non-synthetics with which I could prep it. But moments like those are a distant memory now and I no longer fret over prepping. I follow a simple wash method which helps me get the diaper OTB faster and also saves much more water and detergent.

First of all, I would say, don’t worry about washing synthetics and natural fibres separately. Unless you have ten organic cotton or hemp and only one microfibre diaper in your laundry mix, don’t even bother washing them separately. I know experts will tell you that the oils from the naturals will get onto the synthetics but don’t forget that there is detergent present which is doing the job of removing all of that from your wash. Keep it simple, and make cloth diapering less tedious and more fun instead.

So here are some tried, tested and succeeded methods which work for me:

  1. Pre-wash fresh diaper in plain water, without detergent. This is like a 15 minute cycle of wash, rinse and spin on my machine. This removes much of the superficial factory dust from the dipes.
  2. Wash with regular laundry – diapers or other baby clothes. If I have a lot of natural fabric diapers, I even like throwing them in with bedsheets or towels. (Detergent does go into this cycle.)
  3. Now for synthetics I start using immediately after one wash (that goes for microfibre, charcoal bamboo and for pockets, covers, inserts) But natural fabric diapers (mostly in case of AIOs, prefolds, inserts) need several washes to come up to best absorbency. I find that my Smart Bottoms diapers (organic cotton AIO) are perfection only at 20+ washes. And I definitely don’t advocate waiting that long a time to start using the diaper.  3 to 4 washes are great to get the diaper on the baby, click some otb pics and post to social media. 🙂
  4. Where multiple washes are needed, you don’t have to dry the diaper before the next wash. One rule of thumb I follow, two washes – one drying – two more washes – dry – OTB. This ensures that the diaper gets up to 4 washes but is used within a time frame of 1 – 2 days. However, you may find that the diaper still won’t be good to hold for long hours, or overnight just yet. It will still need its double digit number of washes to get there, but you can start using the diaper albeit for shorter periods.
  5. Hot water is good, but not mandatory. I have a very simple, no-nonsense, top loading washing machine. It has only one type of water setting and we have been good thus far.
  6. Double, double toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble: Don’t be afraid to boil to prep your natural fabric inserts or prefolds. Bring up a large pot of water to boil, add the inserts/ prefolds/ flats to it and boil for about 15 minutes. No need to add any detergent. Some people do add dish washing liquid to it, to quicken the process of removing all the natural oils, but I don’t find washing diapers in dish washing liquid very effective. It left my prepping with varied and patchy absorbency.
    Do remember to check that there are no plastic bits like snaps, pul/tpu or elastics on the items you would boil to prep.
  7. Accessories like wetbags don’t need any prepping. But I’m finicky about these things and if I intend to carry fresh diapers or other stuff which babyT is going to bite, chew or play with, I do make sure the wetbag has had a wash first.

How does one know if your diapers are prepped?

They will be absorbent and hold for the amount of time they are meant to. Genius!

But no, seriously, synthetic fibres are good to use after the first wash. You will see only marginal improvements in absorbency after subsequent washes. With natural fabrics there is no universal indicator as such. For example, I find that Blueberry  AIO (organic simplex) is good for overnight use with even one wash (add a booster anyway), Grovia organic cotton AIO take about 5 -6  washes and Smart bottoms (again organic cotton) takes around 20+ washes before I will risk using it for nights. So you just have to go with trial and error and see what works for you. A lot depends of course on your baby’s wetting pattern.  My recommendation is to therefore, test out the diaper for daytime naps (if you’re lucky to have a baby who naps more than 20 minutes *eye roll*) before venturing out for overnight use. And don’t underestimate the power of a booster, the right one can even sail you through the night with a half-prepped diaper. 🙂

 

 

Anatomy of a cloth diaper


Most people get flummoxed by jargon and Cloth Diapering is an area that is rife with it. Read on to decode the CD terminology that you encounter.

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Front view of a cloth diaper

  • The outer cover of the diaper is PUL or TPU. This is fabric which has been treated to gain a waterproof quality. So when used on a diaper it prevents water from the absorbent inner to seep outside. Read more about PUL here
  • Waist tab snaps – the waist tabs are brought up to the front of the diaper and snapped on to this panel here, to give a snug fit around baby’s waist. The diaper must not be too tight so as to dig into the baby’s stomach, nor too loose such that it is gaping. Experts suggest that it must be snug enough to allow one finger to slide along the inside edge of the diaper.
  • Rise settings – you would have heard that diapers come in one-size fits all range, allowing them to be used from newborn to potty training stage. These rise settings help with that. Bring up the row of snaps to snap up to the desired size. This will reduce the length of the diaper. Usually the lowest row of snaps is for newborn size and leaving the rise setting snaps totally open (unsnapped) gives the largest size.
Front view - diaper open and laid flat

Front view – diaper open and laid flat

  • Waist tabs – these are the wing like panels of the diaper which are fixed onto the front of the diaper to hold it in place. See below image:
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Cloth diaper in the position it is fastened on to baby

By adjusting the rise settings and waist tab settings, you can get a range of sizes to suit babies at various stages in their growth stage and sizes of course. For more details on fitting, see this post on My First Cloth Diaper.

This is the inner of a cloth diaper.

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Cloth diaper laid out flat open, to show inner side

This is a pocket diaper with a suede lining.  There can be many variants to this, but I’ve used this particular cloth diaper as it shows most of the other features inside.

  • Suede lining – the introduction of a stay dry lining in diapers revolutionized the cloth diaper industry. The magic of materials like suede and fleece is that they draw away moisture quickly from the baby and onto the absorbent inserts; and yet themselves are stay dry, i.e. baby does not feel wetness. How awesome is that in a cloth diaper that comes with no chemicals?  Inner can be of  various types: suede, fleece, charcoal bamboo (all stay dry and synthetics) or cotton, bamboo, hemp (non stay dry, but natural fabrics) Here are some of the other inner linings that cloth diapers can have. 2016-10-28_16-56-42There are others too. Will save them for a specific post in the future.
  • Leg elastics – these wrap around baby’s thigh once the diaper is fastened on. They hold what goes on inside (think runny newborn poop, teething poop) and prevent leaks. When putting onto baby, the diaper rise and waist settings should be such that there are no gaps at the thighs.
  • Double gussets – if single elastics are not foolproof enough to hold in the business, double gussets do this job well. They at least prevent or delay leaks from out the diaper, even in the worst case of pooplosions. I swear by double gussets and find cleaning them relatively simple too. Double gussets also work well in case of babies who sleep on their side.
  • Tummy leak guard – these are designed to prevent leaks from the front of the diaper, ideal for tummy sleepers.
  • Waist flap – pocket diapers usually come with a flap over the pocket area which covers the pocket hole and also prevents leaks from the back of the diaper.

Depending on the brand and type of diaper, tummy and waist flaps can look like a free piece of suede or PUL stitched in the diaper inner.  But basically their function is to hold it all in. So together, the leg elastics, double gussets, waist and tummy guards all help to prevent leaks no matter what kind of sleeper your baby is.

A cloth diapering system also comes with absorbency in the form of inserts. I’d like to do a detailed post on that, including prep and care instructions, soon.

My First Cloth Diaper

I wanted to make a  type of cloth diapers post. But before that, I felt I should share how I felt when I received my first cloth diaper in my hands.

After weeks of research I placed my first order for a cover, a pocket and a fitted diaper. Yet when I received the diapers in hand, they felt alien, like something I had never seen or experienced before.

That’s why this post.. this is for all the new parents and care givers who wish to cloth diaper, but have no idea what a cloth diaper even looks like. Hopefully this post will familiarize you with the ins and outs of a CD and help you make a better, informed choice when buying them for your little ones.
So here is my first CD: a Pororo pocket diaper in owls print. Owls for some reasons are very popular on cloth diapers. Almost every brand has an owls diaper.

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Pororo one sized pocket cloth diaper

 

A cloth diaper is a modern cloth nappy. Unlike the erstwhile cloth nappies, modern cloth diapers are designed to hold much more matter read: pee and poop; prevent leakages and are waterproof. One major improvements is also that they don’t give baby a feeling of wetness, baby stays dry and happy for longer periods of time, even overnight. So basically, a modern cloth diaper imitates a disposable diaper in function, without any of the dangerous chemicals, bleach, paper and plastic. Wow, right!

Cloth diapers also make sense because they are size adjustable. They go right from the newborn stage to toddler-hood.

But how does it achieve this? Let’s look at this function by function.

Waterproof

A modern cloth diaper has a PUL exterior. PUL (polyurethane laminate) or TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) as some diapers have, is a laminate treatment applied to cloth (either cotton or polyester blends.) It is in essence a plastic layer added to cloth. This makes the cloth waterproof, while at the same retaining some amount of breath-ability. This does not mean that you can hold the laminated fabric to cover your face and breathe through it, like a mask. But it means that the fabric releases heat and water vapour thus keeping baby’s bottom comfortable.

Here is a closer look at PUL on a cloth diaper.

PUL treatment inside the cover which makes CDs waterproof

Leak proof

Cloth diapers are meant to fit on snugly on to baby. They should not be put on loose around the waist or thighs or at the crotch area. Unlike disposables which have liquid crystals which readily absorb any liquids, cloth diapers and their inserts absorb a little slowly. So things need to be snug and fit well, such that there are no leakages. Elastics around the thighs and at the back help achieve this. In fact in my experience, modern cloth diapers are so much better at containing new born pooplosions. These leg elastics and the inner double gusset created here, do that marvelously well.

Leg elastics and double gussets inside the CD which holds it all in

Stay dry feel

The inner of a cloth diaper, or the lining inside is the fabric that touches baby’s bottom and is usually made of material which wicks moisture away from the source and take it down to the absorbent material which will hold it until changed. This material touching baby skin therefore needs to be safe and not cause rashes, or heat up irritating baby. Usually it is made of suede, fleece, cotton, velour, hemp, bamboo, charcoal bamboo. Not all of these are stay dry though.😊

Suede lining inner: wicks away liquids quickly & gives stay dry effect

Customizable absorbency

This owl diaper here is a pocket type, which means that it has a pocket in which you can stuff the absorbent material i.e. the inserts. Depending on your baby’s wetting pattern and your ability to change baby (example: is it for short periods, or for post lunch naps, nighttime, going out) you can add absorbent material into this pocket.

Pocket opening inside which inserts are added

Once you feel the baby has peed enough to fill the diaper capacity, you need to change it. This is roughly between one to two hours for most diapers (or immediately in case of poop.) In the case of a pocket diaper, the entire diaper needs to be replaced. Other systems do allow you to change just the absorbent part i.e the insert and re-use the same shell (diaper outer)

Inserts come in a variety of types based on their material and their holding capacity. There are natural fibre inserts or synthetic ones. Each have their own set of advantages, there is no one insert which is better than the others. But I would say each serve a specific purpose and so it really depends on your baby’s wetting pattern and your convenience with respect to changing baby and doing laundry.

Size adjustable

The wonder of wonders about modern cloth diapers is that they can last you right from the newborn stage to toddler hood. How? Because they come with snap adjustments to make the diaper smaller or bigger. Therefore there is no sizing depending on baby’s age or weight. (Most diapers do mention a general weight range, but it is more of an indicator than a hard and fast.) You do  get sized diapers with certain brands, but most people prefer getting a one size diaper. The diaper has snaps, most usually on the front which can be closed down as per the baby’s size. So you start with the lowest and then work upwards as baby grows. This info-graphic is a commonly referred to indicator for sizing one-sized diapers.

 

We started using this pocket diaper around a few weeks old. BabyT was not very lean and we did not need to use the preemie or newborn sizing, but that is achieved by crossing over the tabs like so.

 

We started off from small size (from the time babyT was around 4 kgs) and are currently at the medium setting (at close to 9 kgs.)

Different sizes achieved by shutting the rise snaps in the front of the CD

This is just an indicator, the waist can be adjusted at every setting to fit a range of baby sizes.

What did you expect when you ordered your first cloth diaper? Did it meet your expectations or you had some surprises? I’d love to hear your experiences.

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