I have had a book on the brain for some time now. Of course life likes to add roadblocks to our dreams but what kind of “dream come true” would it be if it were easy, right? So, 2 months post-op, with hormones slowly settling into their sweet spot, I’m feeling like I can get this dream accomplished. Unfortunately, I am still human with limited hours in the day. Soooo I will be cutting back on blogging even more. I have a product review in the works and I’m sure I’ll need to post something here once in a while, but… focus will be on the birth of this book. Part of the process will be digging up older cloth diaper related posts I’ve written and updating them. I’ll share links and post on Facebook when I update posts. The book is cloth diaper related – surprise!
I will continue to teach cloth diapering classes to the community as well as hold monthly meetings. I’m sure you can understand why it will be difficult to continue with updating the blog several times a week with all of this going on! I hope you’ll stick with me and enjoy the fruit of my labors in the end. And maybe send a prayer or thought or two my direction every once in a while because I know this will be a challenge!
When I talk about cloth diapers to people that aren’t currently using them, I often get questions about how it’s possible to use cloth if you don’t own a washer or dryer. I also have many people concerned about how much it costs to start cloth diapering – even after I tell them that they can save $1,300 by the time their child is 2 years old!
In light of this question and concern, I want to talk to you about the Flats and Handwashing Challenge. Last year my kiddos were still in diapers and I joined Kim Rosas of Dirty Diaper Laundry in using flat diapers and handwashing them for one straight week. I have a hard time expressing all that I learned from this challenge but I will try to summarize it here.
First of all – what is the Flats and Handwashing Challenge? For one week, limit yourself to using flat diapers or single layer fabric folded into a diaper along with covers to diaper your baby/babies. During this week “unplug” from your washer and dryer and turn up the elbow greese and wash those diapers by hand! While this may seem like a silly challenge to many at first glance, I assure you, it is not. Below, I will explain why.
This challenge, in combination with discussions with Heather McNamara of the Real Diaper Association, made me realize that most any absorbent material can be a diaper. If you think you have to spend money to join in this challenge, I challenge you to use only what you already have! Do you have receiving blankets? Do you have flour sack or single layer dish towels? Do you have some old tshirts? Cut them in half (at the side seam) and you have 2 diapers! Have any old sheets you aren’t using? Cut them into squares! All of these items make for great diapers.
Flat diapers (what my grandmother used) are the easiest diaper to wash because they are only one layer of fabric. They dry the quickest as well, making them perfect for this challenge. Flats can also be folded to accomodate for different wetzones, absorbencies, and body types which makes them a great choice for families with more than one child in diapers.
This challenge does more than teach you that you can upcycle items in your home into a diaper. It also teaches you emergency preparedness. What if we had no electricity? What if there were no gas and stores were shut down and you couldn’t buy disposables? What if you had a limited water supply? Did you have to make some diapering changes during the recent hurricanes on the east coast? Ever wondered how to travel with cloth? Ahem… flats baby!
I used flats confidently on our trip to Mexico last year after having practiced during the Flats Challenge. I washed those diapers in the hotel sink like a pro! They dried on our balcony in less than 12 hours. I also took flats on a camping trip! Give me a bucket, a faucet, some detergent, gloves and half of an old tupperware meat marinade container (the little pyramid bumps on the container made a great washboard) and I’m set!
And…. I was able to put a combination of two flats, a trifolded washcloth (in the wet zone) and a fleece liner together for a nighttime diaper that worked for both of my twins! SCORE!
So, back to the original question. Can you use cloth diapers if you don’t have a washer? Yes. You can hand wash your diapers, take them to a laundry mat twice a week or use a diaper service. It’s totally doable. As for how much it costs to get started, you can buy an inexpensive cover for less than $10. Buy 6 covers, some diaper closures like pins, Snappies, or Boingos and upcycle some materials I suggested above and you can diaper a baby full time for under $100. If you want to get fancier over time, go for it, but you have the basics and will never have to buy a disposable diaper again!
P.S. I had a good time doing the actual handwashing also. It was therapeutic in the same way that most physical labor is. I also plugged my earbuds into my Kindle and blazed through a book that week while washing away. It was me time.
If you are interested in joining the Flats and Handwashing Challenge it runs from May 20th-26th this year! I highly recommend it. Even if you don’t complete the challenge successfully the experience is an amazing educational foundation! Cheers to Kim for dreaming up such a great educational experience of a challenge!
Here are links to the posts I wrote while taking last year’s challenge!
When using diapers there are a few reasons that diaper rash may occur. Baby may be sensitive to chemicals (in disposables or detergent with cloth), heat (disposable diapers don’t breathe well), fabric allergy, bacteria, yeast, teething (can change the pH of baby’s poo), eczema, and changes in diet (eating more acidic foods) can all cause diaper rash.
Through working with many moms, other leaders in the cloth diapering community as well as my own experience, I have learned some common causes of diaper rash in cloth diapers.
First – basic cloth diaper facts and washing recommendations:
Using cloth diaper safe detergent will prevent detergent build up in your diapers. Detergents with live enzymes can cause diaper rash. Detergents with optical brighteners are made to coat fabrics with a chemical that makes clothes appear whiter when light hits them. This coating will decrease absorbency of your diapers, may cause leaks, and may cause diaper rash.
Use cloth safe diaper rash creams. Any diaper cream that contains Zinc Oxide, Fish Oil, or Petroleum will coat your diapers, decrease absorption and give bacteria something to cling onto. There are many cloth safe diaper creams. One of the safest and cheapest is organic coconut oil. (I put a small baby food jar in my diaper bag with coconut oil for any hint of redness.)
Basic washing directions for a full load of diapers (18-24 diapers) are:
Dump solid waste in the toilet
Hot wash with detergent (and water softening agent if you have hard water)
Rinse on warm twice
Dry inserts in your dryer and hang dry AIOs, and covers to increase the life and maintain the best function of your covers.
If diaper is stained, lay the wet diaper in the sun (UV rays still work on cloudy days). If the stain is stubborn, re-wet and squeeze a little lemon juice on the stain. Rewash any diapers with lemon juice prior to use on baby.
If you have a Front Loader HE machine please check out this post I wrote for DiaperShops.com blog HERE.
For more details about washing visit the Real Diaper Association HERE.
So, your baby has a rash. To determine what the cause of the rash is, you need to answer several questions.
1) Do your diapers smell clean out of the wash?
If yes, skip to question number 2. If you answered no, you may have bacteria build up in your diapers. There are two common causes for bacteria buildup in cloth diapers.
A) You are not using enough detergent and your diapers are not getting completely clean. Check your diapers when they are on their last rinse cycle. Do you see soap bubbles? (Bubbles from water agitation are fine and will quickly pop. Bubbles from soap will linger and look lather like.) If you do not see soap bubbles increase your detergent by 1/2 tbsp and rewash your diapers. Continue increasing your detergent until you either see soap suds on your final rinse (which indicates too much detergent) or your diapers smell clean. If you have hard water you will find that it takes much more than the recommended amount of detergent to get your diapers clean. You can either use this larger amount of detergent or you can buy a water softening agent to add to your detergent.
B) You are using too much detergent or are not rinsing your diapers enough to remove all of the detergent used to wash them (you may also have leaks from decreased absorbency). If you see soap bubbles on your last rinse cycle you need to rinse your diapers until there are no more suds. Bacteria like to cling to things like soap or any other chemical coating your diapers which is why it is important to use a cloth safe, clean rinsing detergent.
C) You have used a barrier cream that is not cloth safe, causing bacteria to cling to this coating (you may also have leaks from decreased absorbency). To get that cream off of your diaper you will need to hand wash it with Dawn dish soap until removed. I say hand wash because dish soap in your washing machine can clog your washer and may void your warranty. Rinse these diapers by hand until suds are gone.
Note about bacteria buildup: To disinfect diapers check with your diaper’s manufacturer. My favorite method of disinfection is a few drops of Tea Tree Oil at the start of your wash. Many cloth users recommend BacOut, however some babies are sensitive to the live enzymes and may get a rash from using it. If you use BacOut, make sure you use it at the beginning of the wash, use very little and rinse very well.
2) Do your diapers smell like strong urine (ammonia) as soon as your baby pees? Do his/her overnight diapers knock you out when you change them in the morning?
A) You probably have ammonia build up. This causes an ammonia burn and the rash can sometimes blister. According to my pediatrician ammonia is the most common cause of diaper rash. Ammonia can build up in diapers because of too little water in the wash cycle, too little detergent (in hard water this is commonly fixed by adding a water softening agent like Calgon, RLR or Charlie’s Laundry Booster if you use Charlie’s Laundry Soap). See my post HERE for treating ammonia buildup.
Side note about ammonia buildup: Ammonia buildup frequently occurs around 12-18 months when baby’s urine starts to become more concentrated and their bladder holds more urine.
3) Is your baby sensitive to wetness?
A) Some babies are very sensitive to being wet. In these cases it is helpful to use a diaper liner. Make sure that the top layer of your diaper is fleece (synthetic) or raw silk (natural). Many pocket diapers have a pocket made of fleece. Fleece and raw silk allow moisture to pass through them and help keep baby feeling dry. Fleece liners also help babies sleep longer if they are waking from feeling wet!
B) Make sure you are changing baby every 2 hours during waking hours (or when you know they are wet or soiled). Frequent changes keep baby’s skin dry and prevent skin breakdown!
4) Have you (if breastfeeding) or your baby taken antibiotics?
A) If your baby has been exposed to antibiotics he or she may get an overgrowth of the normally small amount of yeast that is present in the body. (Check for thrush in the mouth as well.) A diaper’s warm and moist environment is a nice place for yeast and bacteria to flourish and this can cause a rash. Talk to your doctor about taking a good probiotic while on a antibiotic which will help keep yeast in check. To diagnose a diaper rash caused by yeast you should have your doctor swab the rash and culture for a diagnosis. Contact your diaper manufacturer for their recommendations about how to clear your diapers of yeast. Currently, the Real Diaper Association is doing the first lab experiment on how to kill yeast at home in your own washing machine. Check it out HERE!
Side note about yeast: Many a grandmother will tell you to put corn starch on a diaper rash to dry it up. Do NOT put corn starch on a persistent rash. If it is yeast, it will feed on cornstarch and get worse!
5) Have you introduced a new diaper fabric? Has baby grown sensitive to your diaper fabric?
A) Some babies can be sensitive to synthetic fabrics and some can be sensitive to wool. Natural fabrics include cotton, hemp, raw silk (liners) and wool. Bamboo is a wonderful material for diapers because it is a fast growing plant, causing less of an environmental impact than many other materials. Bamboo, however, is turned into a rayon in the process of becoming a fabric so that it is no longer a “natural” fiber. If you suspect your baby is sensitive to a fabric, try using cotton or hemp absorbent material (no need to buy all new diapers – fold up some dishtowels or t-shirts to see if the rash improves).
6) Is your baby sensitive to a chemical?
A) Babies can be sensitive to chemicals in detergents, barrier creams, wipes, cleansers and disinfectants. Have you introduced a new product that has brought on a rash? My son grew sensitive to disposable wipes and I found his skin cleared up quickly after we switched to cloth wipes! My pediatrician told me that all I needed to clean my baby’s bottom was water and I should have listened! Water cleans great and coconut oil is naturally antibacterial, so if using only water leaves you feeling uneasy, apply a layer of coconut oil after every diaper change.
B) If you have changed detergents, try changing again or going back to your previous detergent. If it cleared up, take note of what was in the new detergent and compare the ingredients to your previous detergent to gain some insight to what your baby might be sensitive to. You could also try adding a rinse cycle to see if detergent residue caused the irritation.
Do you have another rash question I didn’t cover? Please leave a comment! I’m sure there are other issues that arise but these are some of the most common (and this post is already L O N G). I hope this answers many questions. I’d love to hear about your experiences and diaper rash cures!
This post includes affiliate links.
This year’s Ventura County Great Cloth Diaper Change was great! I am very grateful to the many volunteers that helped set up, sew the upcycled t-shirt bags and help me run this year’s event! There were many giveaway prizes (more than half the participants got a prize as well as their goodie bag)! Families from all across our county (and a few from outside of our county) got to meet up, talk about cloth diapers and discover some wonderful community resources! Thank you to Horizon Hills Preschool for opening up your arms to Ventura County’s Real Diaper Circle and The Great Cloth Diaper Change! For the most updated information about this year’s world record attempt please see the official Great Cloth Diaper Change site HERE. Our location had 66 babies participate!
The Horizon Hills playgrounds were open for children to play on and vendors were open for business at GCDC this year. You could learn about cloth diapering at the Real Diaper Circle of Ventura County’s table grab a snack, or purchase a wide variety of products including cloth diapers, eco-friendly toys, baby carriers, and hand crafted clothing and toys. Later in the afternoon, we had a free Kindermusik class with Miss Mary which kids and babies of all ages enjoyed!
If you missed out on this year’s Great Cloth Diaper Change you might be interested in participating in the 3rd annual Flats Challenge, hosted by Kim at Dirty Diaper Laundry! I participated last year and was thrilled about what I learned from the experience! Also, knowing how to wash diapers by hand would come in very handy in case of a zombie apocalypse. I’m just sayin…..
I hope you had as much fun at GCDC as I did! Our photos were limited due to not having a professional photographer (accepting volunteers for next year now) so if you have photos from this event please email them to me and I will add them!
Please see our local Great Cloth Diaper Change site for a full list of sponsors and give them some love!
Here I am creeping back to my dashboard to post after a neglectful 2 and a half weeks. It seems like it’s been much longer than that since I posted but maybe that is only because this is the longest I’ve gone without publishing in the last 3 years! This time away from posting several times a week has given me perspective. I love to read and write and I dearly missed this outlet. After my hysterectomy (it’s been nearly a month now) it was difficult to sit at the table where I usually do my writing. It was difficult to set my laptop on my lap without discomfort and so I put off posting day after day. There were days begged for me to write! But, I couldn’t justify it when I was hardly keeping up with my ADLs (that’s nurse speak for “activities of daily living”).
I have to say that I believe some of my difficulties came from low estrogen levels. Recently, my doctor adjusted my hormone replacement therapy levels and things have improved. Those that saw me last weekend at our Ventura County Great Cloth Diaper Change would laugh at the thought that publishing a blog post was too much for me. I organized and implemented our event and am happy to report that it was a great success! I would, however, recommend NOT organizing a large event for one month post op. It was pretty intense and would have been impossible without volunteers to help but we did it!
So, although I have been a neglectful blogger for the past 2 and a half weeks, they have been weeks well spent. I’ve been recovering and moving cloth diaper mountains! Okay, maybe they were hills but if you think about how many disposable diapers are kept out of landfills with just one baby in cloth (several thousand on average), then maybe helping to convert a few families to cloth this week really was moving mountains!
Have you heard about the Great Cloth Diaper Change? All around the world people are learning about how using simple, reusable, cloth diapers can make a BIG impact on a family’s finances, environmental waste and pollution, as well as the health of your baby. To help spread the word about the benefits of cloth diapering, an event called The Great Cloth Diaper Change was dreamed up and the Real Diaper Association turned this dream into a reality.
The Great Cloth Diaper Change is an annual event (in its third year) where parents and caregivers gather with their babies to change a diaper in an attempt to set a world record for the most cloth diapers changed in one day. You don’t even need to be a cloth diaper user to participate because most sites will let you borrow a cloth diaper for the event (and once you try it, you might find it’s easier than you think!)
All around the world local hosts set up a location for “the change”. Some locations will be intimate, smaller gatherings, and some events are so large that they need multiple venues to contain their hundreds of participants! Many locations, like my Ventura, CA location, take this opportunity to invite relevant people and businesses from their community to make this event a baby/parenting fair where parents can learn about businesses and services that will benefit them. All events focus on cloth diapering advocacy and education. We also collect donations for the Real Diaper Association so that they can continue in their efforts to advocate and support local advocates in cloth diapering. Last year there were 8,251 qualifying participants!
If you are a parent of a child in diapers, are expecting your first child or are a business that supports natural minded parenting, I encourage you to visit GreatClothDiaperChange.com and search their map to find a location near you! Your local host would love to have business sponsors and as many participants as possible!
Save the date on Saturday, April 20th, 2013 for the Great Cloth Diaper Change and meet your local cloth diapering resources and community. Talk to cloth diapering families and see how much money they have saved. Ask about laundry, leaks, poop and blowouts. I think you might be surprised at how doable it is to use cloth diapers. I cloth diapered twins! P.S. What’s a blowout? (Cloth diapering parents might not even know what a blowout is!)
Tuesday marked day five post operation. Day five still sucked and here is my account of it.
I don’t feel like typing but I really feel like documenting this for myself and for others. Think of my case as a worst case good scenario. I say that because I’ve had no complicating factors, no infection, no ruptured incision, it’s just been a rough go of it. I’ll explain.
Thursday was surgery. I have woken up from two surgeries in the last couple of years and that initial hour is a magical hour of pain. They start with morphine and when that gives me no relief after several doses they move on to another med. For my laparoscopy some form of relief came from Demerol. Unfortunately, the amount I needed for pain relief made me feel like I was going to die and I’m pretty sure my slow heart rate, pale face and shallow breath freaked my nurse out too. This time I got some relief from Dilauted. It wasn’t until the combination of Toradol and Dilauted were on board that I started to recognize the constant background of whimpering as my own, and began to slow my breathing and rest for moments at a time.
I think that now is an important time to remind readers that pain is subjective and no two people have the same experience. Also, if your doctor gives you the option of laparoscopy and opening you up, go with laparoscopy and skip the incision pain. My doc and I briefly discussed the option but knew it was most likely a real mess of endometriosis in there and that chances of visualizing and removing as much as possible were greater with an open abdominal surgery.
What did they find when they opened up this belly? They found my uterus covered in endometriosis front and back. It was on my uterine ligaments and the culdesac behind my uterus which accounts for the bowel pain. My cervix had actually become fused to my bladder with adhesions and they felt it was safer to leave my cervix than risk compromising my bladder. Then, the entire operative team jumped up on the table and took turns doing a tango where my uterus used to be, in celebration of my new found endometriosis-less freedom. OK, that could be what it felt like and not what actually happened but I can never be sure because my anesthesiologist did his job (thank you) and I don’t think there is an official digital recording of the procedure considering I’m not the president or anything.
I spent the next couple days in the hospital. My first night was surprisingly not ruined by my roommate’s snoring or love of sleeping with her TV on, but rather by my Dilauted PCA induced low heart rate. When my heart rate dipped below 50 a lovely alarm went off. I thought it was reading my respirations not my heart rate so I was very confused. Finally, the Respiratory Therapists reset the low to 45 which allowed me to get about 2 hours of sleep before being woke up for something else. I was not feeling well on this medication and we soon made the switch to oral Norco. I took this med for one day before a whopper of a migraine and visit from the post-op vomit fairy solidified the fact that narcotics and I do not get along. So I stopped taking the narcotics. I continued the Toradol which is a strong anti-inflammatory (after a discussion with my nutritionist about if it would be ok to take it) and on my last hours in the hospital I added Tylenol to my pain control ticket. It’s not much of a ticket.
If you’ve ever taken narcotics you know that they most always bring their friend constipation to the party. OMG. I can’t help the pun-ny. I’m sorry. What a party pooper! (That could not be helped.) So, although I had only taken one day or oral Norco I was stopped up and bloating. The stool softener the hospital offers would have been a help if I was allowed to take medication with additives like red food dye. WHY do companies feel the need to put all of these unnecessary chemicals in their products?!? Grrrr. Anyway, so my bowels are already tender from the Tangos previously mentioned and now they are swelling with small amounts of food and gas. Yay!
I also noticed a slowly increasing pain after my catheter was removed which prompted me to induce more pain with my first trip to the bathroom. My bladder no longer felt like a bladder. There was no fullness sensation but only pain that grew with distention. I think I sat, trying to pee, for almost 10 minutes before it happened. And even then it was a dribble, long pause, dribble, long pause times 5. My bladder slowly got back to normal function over the next several days. I believe I’m back to a non-dribble status now here on day 5.
I’m sure those patients taking their prescribed pain meds might look at day 5 with a bit of narcotic induced crankiness but most probably feel on their way to recovery. I can not say the same. I feel my uterine ligaments, sore muscles and incision burn with healing. I sneeze about 4 times a day and pray it doesn’t tear a stitch. I hurt and Motrin and Tylenol are not enough to let me rest painlessly. Today I made oatmeal in a pan because the small pot was dirty and I couldn’t stand long enough to wash the pot AND cook oatmeal. And I felt like I ran a marathon after making oatmeal.
I know it will get better. I believe I made the right decision to have surgery. My fear of not being “me” anymore – that somehow those crazy hormones made up who I was – is gone. I’m still me. I’m still making light of all of this biznizz. I’m using a custom essential oil pain blend and that helps a little bit. I’m looking forward to being able to take a shower without getting breathless. I never used to look forward to cooking but I’m excited to dig through Pinterest and find things to cook. I know that this pain is short term and that is what gets me through it. Once it’s gone, it’s not coming back!