baby stuff: cloth diapering (part two).

as promised, part two of the cloth diaper post is here! cue the confetti! i mean not really, it’s a post about diapers, so, you know, but maybe some of you are excited? question mark?

in part one of my cloth diapering post, i talked about the reasons we decided to cloth diaper, and why it was an important decision for us. in part two, i’m going to share what diapering “system” we use and how to wash cloth diapers (at least how we do it). i hope it’s helpful for anyone who finds it!

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OUR DIAPERS

one of the hardest parts of doing cloth diapers is choosing what type of diaper to use. it feels like there are about a million different diapering systems out there nowadays, and for every one, you will find a million people who swear their way is the best. my thought process went something like this: what’s the cheapest method? what method has the highest chance of working with any shape baby? what method will last through multiple babies?

that’s how we came to our cloth diapering method: cotton prefolds + fasteners + pul diaper covers.

cotton prefolds are those old-fashioned looking cloth diapers that you actually fold and fasten with diaper fasteners. then, because the cotton prefolds are not water resistant, you need a pul diaper cover to go over it to keep the wet from getting all over everything. once you learn how to fold your favorite way, and perfect your fastening, it’s about as fast as a disposable diaper to change.

we have 24 prefolds for each size that we have used and about six diaper covers in each of two sizes. we are currently on size medium prefolds, with size one covers. we’ve found that 24 diapers are enough for us to go two days between washings, and we have a child who cannot abide being wet any longer than she has to, so for most people 18 would probably be enough. Six covers are plenty to last between baby laundry days, even during weeks with lots of blowouts (sidebar: i’ve only had two blowouts in cloth diapers that have left the vicinity of the diaper…another benefit to cloth. we have had many outfit-ruining blowouts when she’s been wearing disposables).

we ordered our diapers and fasteners from green mountain diapers, which is seriously the best site ever for all things cloth diapering. things you never thought you’d need to know, am i right? our covers are thirsties brand which we got on target.com.

amelia cloth diaper

OUR METHOD

can i just say thank the good lord for my mother? without her, i don’t think we would have gone through with this cloth diapering thing once the baby was actually here and the reality of taking care of her set in. the logistics just seemed to be insurmountable. where do we put the diapers when we’re done? where do the wipes go? HOW DO I WASH THEM? the list of panicky questions was long, so she showed us the way. and lo and behold, it wasn’t that scary after all.

1) where do the diapers go? when we change a diaper, the dirty wipes go into a small, lined garbage can we keep next to the changing table. the diapers that are wet only go straight into our diaper pail next to the changing table, no other step necessary. if the diaper is just a little bit dirty, that also goes straight into the diaper pail. if the diaper is very dirty, the extra step of rinsing is not required for a baby who is still exclusively breastfed but is highly recommended if you want to avoid staining. if a baby is on formula or solid foods, rinsing becomes more necessary.

2) rinsing out the diapers. we set the very dirty diapers on top of the diaper pail clean side down so we can grab it and bring it to the bathroom after we are done changing amelia. (if you have a big enough bathroom to have a changing station in there, then good for you, one less step!) we put the dirty diaper in the toilet to soak for a bit, and then when we next have a chance to put down the baby, we go back to rinse it off. we invested in a diaper sprayer, and could not be happier we did. you can survive without it, but you’ll stick your hand in a lot more poop, and really, as parents we touch enough of that, so why make it worse? once the diaper is sprayed/rinsed off, we wring it out and bring it to the diaper pail.

3) washing the diapers. for whatever reason, this was the part that confused me the most, but ended up not being hard at all. you’ll find your rhythm, but a safe bet for when to wash the diapers is when you are down to about 6 clean diapers. we have a cloth diaper pail liner, so we just take the whole bag out of the pail and bring it down to the laundry room. we fill a bucket (we have a 5-gallon bucket that we use just for diaper soaking) with hot water, a tiny bit of dreft detergent and a splash of bleach, then we dump the diapers in the bucket to soak. we normally let them soak anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. once they’re done, we put on gloves (to protect from the bleach; again, touching diapers is the least of my worries), wring out the diapers and throw them into the washing machine. we wash the diapers with just detergent on a hot cycle with an extra rinse and high spin. the extra rinse makes sure that all the detergent and dirtiness is out of the diapers so they won’t irritate the little one. then we dry the diapers on high heat with some dryer balls instead of dryer sheets (again, don’t want any extra product residue on the diapers). done!

4) storing the diapers. we have a changing table we use in amelia’s room for all our diaper changes at home, because we have a very tiny house and have no need for a changing station anywhere else in the house. we keep diapers in one canvas storage bin under the changing table, and covers in another bin. right now, we have only the medium size diapers that we use as diapers, but we also keep the newborn size diapers in a bin to use as doublers for night time, and as burp rags, dust rags, etc. we keep lotions and wipes on the top of the changing table, where we can easily reach them. the diaper bins and trash can are just to the right of the changing table for easy access as well.

diaper storage

diaper storage

the moral of this (fairly long) story is that if cloth diapers seem right for you, go for it! it’s not as hard as you may think, and you will save some money in the long run that you can put towards more wine for you as a reward for changing all those diapers!

happy diapering mamas and papas!

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i have a podcast problem.

my name is erin, and i’m a podcast addict.

i know, i know, i’m totally late to the party on this, but i have recently become addicted to listening to podcasts. i listen to them in the car on the way to and from work, while doing dishes during amelia’s naps, and even while nursing her on the weekends. I CAN’T STOP.

there is something about radio voices and interesting stories that just captivates me. mister man travels a lot, and i used to keep the tv on in the house, just to have noise around me and keep me company so to speak. but the problem with tv is that there is a visual aspect to it, so if i was trying to wash dishes or fold laundry or do some other task, i would inevitably get distracted by the images on the screen. not good when you’re trying to get stuff done when the baby is sleeping for lord knows how long.

so when i found podcasts, it was like this perfect solution. the sound of the voices keeps me company, but since i am only listening to them and not watching them, i can be a lot more effective when i’m doing the tasks i need to do.

if any of you have been thinking about getting into podcasts, here is a random post of a few of my favorites that might help you get started.

1) this american life. this is one of the most popular podcasts out there, put on by NPR. every week, they tell a different interesting story. it can be anything from how a used car sales shop on long island makes their sales quota to digging into the tension between the police and society going on today. i’ve learned a lot of really interesting and random things from this podcast, and ira glass is the cutest voice on the radio today.

npr

2) invisibilia. another NPR production (you’ll see a trend here). this one is produced by two women who look into the invisible forces that govern our world, like fear, sensory experiences, etc. some of the things they talk about will blow your mind, because they dig into how our brains work, and i don’t know about you, but i think that stuff is crazy. 

3) serial. oh yes. i’m on this bandwagon big time. probably everyone has listened to serial at this point, unless you live under a rock. i am just waiting for the second season!

serial-podcast

4) snap judgement. oh look. another NPR podcast. this one has great music and sound editing, which is what makes it fun. the concept is that there is a new theme each week, and three different stories that relate to that theme are told by different people. vignettes if you will. this one is just great storytelling and the stories are about the human experience.

5) TED radio hour. i know there are some TED talk fans who read this blog. this podcast chooses a different theme each week, and then chooses a few TED talk participants whose talks relate to the theme, and they kind of adapt their TED talk to radio. they talk to the host, and snippets of their TED talks are played, so it’s kind of a mashup show of sorts. SO ADDICTING.

four_col_TED_Talks

6) mom enough. this is a podcast put on by a local minnesota mom and daughter team.  the episodes are usually only about 20 minutes long (perfect for moms with short nappers) and each show deals with issues that may interest parents, like sensory development, how to be an engaged parent, and so on. i love it.

do any of you have this addiction? if so, please share your favorites with me in the comments so i can expand my listening even more!

FIND ME HERE TOO: BLOGLOVIN || FACEBOOK || TWITTER || INSTAGRAM

baby stuff: breastfeeding and working.

i’ve had a couple inquiries as to when part 2 of the cloth diapering post will be up, so i wanted to let you know that it will be one of my next two posts. i wanted to make sure to get all the info on the day-to-day of the process down without overwhelming anyone with wordsonwordsonwords. until then, enjoy this and other random posts!

when we decided to breastfeed amelia, we didn’t really know how it would go, and were really open to whatever happened. if she needed to be on formula, great, if it went well, great. well this girl turned out to be a champ at nursing, so we were very blessed and have been able to exclusively breastfeed up to this point. somewhere along the way, it was kind of just decided/assumed that i would breastfeed amelia until she was one and able to fully depend on solids and cow’s milk for her nutrients.

secrets to successful pumping at work

this means that when i went back to work, i needed to start pumping at work and leaving bottles for her to eat while i was away from her. i had been pumping here and there when on maternity leave to build up a freezer supply of milk, and for when i went out for a while without her, but there was never the pressure of having to produce enough each day for the next day for such a great (read: voracious) eater. it was really rather traumatizing daunting as i headed back to work, and i applaud every single mom out there who has chosen to do this before me.

i’m lucky in that i am able to work only three days outside of the home, but because i have longer hours on those days, i have to leave more milk at home just in case amelia has a hungry day and needs to eat four times. and i happen to have a little piglet of a baby who would eat all day if she was allowed, and takes 5 oz. bottles, so if you do the math on that, i need to produce 20 oz. to leave with her. that’s asking a lot of my boobs. but thanks to a lot of good preparation, a lot of supplements, and some blessings from the big guy upstairs, i have been able to successfully feed my baby while working and pumping.

ask any mom who does this, and she’ll have her own tips and tricks for you. it’s all about taking the information you hear from others and making it work for you. so there is some trial and error involved, but once you find your groove you’ve got it made.

i put together my method of breastfeeding and working through a combination of research on respected breastfeeding sites like kellymom, and asking people what has worked best for them. you never know when you’re going to stumble upon a piece of information that will help you, so i figured i would add my experience to the bucket and maybe someday it will help someone in the same situation.

secrets to successful pumping at work

1) figuring out a schedule: i would say the number one most difficult thing about working and breastfeeding is figuring out your pumping schedule. each woman is different, so the same schedule isn’t going to work for everyone, but knowing what others have tried and succeeded with is incredibly helpful. here is mine if it helps any of you. it took some trial and error over the first month but i feel like i have it pretty well down now.

6:00am pump at home, no matter what day it is. it’s important to keep your ta-tas recognizing the need everyday. on workdays i also take fenugreek, drink a cup of mother’s milk tea and eat oatmeal with 1 tbsp ground flax and 1tbsp brewer’s yeast while pumping. super protip: when i get to work, i add 1 tbsp brewer’s yeast to my morning coffee…you can’t even taste it and it makes your morning cuppa a helpful part of your pumping routine!

10:00am pump at work. drink a cup of mother’s milk tea. super protip: save the teabag for an afternoon cup so you aren’t running through multiple teabags a day.

1:00pm pump at work. take more fenugreek and keep chugging the water.

4:15pm pump at work. drink the second cup of mother’s milk tea. i will take my things with me to the pumping room and leave from there. i will then nurse amelia right when i get home if she is waiting to eat, or shortly thereafter if she’s already taken a bottle. now that she has started solids, she has usually eaten her dinner, so i nurse her right after that.

notes: 1) i choose not to wake amelia up to eat before i leave. that’s a personal decision that works for us; i want her to get her sleep, and since she’s a light sleeper and i don’t have to bring her anywhere in the morning, it’s better for her to wake up normally and eat around 8:00am. that being said, if you need to push the first feeding of the day up a bit, that’s a good way to need less milk during the day. 2) make sure to drink tons of water throughout the day. 3) it helps to be as relaxed as possible while pumping, so if that means reading, listening to music or watching youtube videos instead of working, do that. if it stresses you out to NOT work while pumping, then do work. whatever it takes to feel relaxed and comfortable is what you need to do while you’re getting use to pumping at work.

2) finding the time to pump: by law, your employer is required to give you paid time to pump during the day. that’s all well and good, but sometimes it’s tough to find time in a day. what i will say is that if it is at all in your power, block time in your schedule the first day back at work, and once you’ve found your groove, keep those times holy. i found that the times above worked best for me and my milk production, you may find another way. whatever you do, guard your pumping time with your life.

3) getting support from your employer: as i’ve mentioned above, your employer is required by law to let you pump. but that doesn’t always equate into real life support. i have a wonderful employer who has made it a point to have rooms for pumping on every floor, and who truly supports working moms. if you are not as lucky, make do with what you have, and speak up for yourself. i want to make it clear: feeding your baby is not a shameful thing. so if you feel funny talking to your boss or to HR about needing the right environment to pump, take a moment and remember the reason you’re pumping at all. it’s not for fun (holy crap understatement of the year), it’s to FEED YOUR BABY. let your mama instincts take over so that the embarassment takes second place.

i’ve made it a point to be very open with anyone who sees me with my pumping bag or asks why i’m on the floor where i pump so much and say, “oh, i have to pump three times a day”. if (and when) they look embarassed, i just make a funny comment like, “baby’s gotta eat!” and 99.9% of the time when the person, male or female, sees that i’m not uncomfortable, neither are they. many times the conversation even continues and it makes the whole thing feel very ordinary. not everyone has my personality, but if you have a script, and keep your head high, you can talk about pumping with anyone, and that will help you fight for the support you need if necessary.

last but not least….

4) be gentle with yourself: there are days you won’t get quite enough milk and have to dip into your freezer supply. there are days when your boobs will feel physically tired, like they need a nap. there are days when you will just want your freaking body back already. on those days, pour yourself a glass of wine or have a beer when the baby goes to sleep. take a bath with a magazine or a book. go to bed early. be gentle with yourself and remind yourself that tomorrow is a new day. and at the end of the day, if it just gets too hard, be gentle with yourself if you need to supplement or switch to formula altogether. breastfeeding while you’re working is no easy task, and stress won’t make it any easier. so be good to yourself and things will work out the way they’re supposed to.

amelia nursing

if you’ve stuck through until the end, bravo! this was a lot of information on a very tricky subject. like i said, what worked for me won’t work for everybody, but at least it’s somewhere to start.

i want to offer up myself as a resource as well: if you or someone you know is going back to work and is at a loss as to how to keep breastfeeding, please feel free to contact me (hooleywithaz at gmail dot com) and i am happy to share my experience and any tips that may help. 

happy nursing mamas!

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