Sunday, February 28, 2010

How to Care for your Cloth Diapers

Using cloth diapers will only save you money if you care for them properly. Cloth diapers are an investment and if you treat them properly you should be able to use them over and over again and for multiple children.

First of all, if you exclusively breastfeed your baby you don't need to rinse the poop off of the diapers before washing them. Breastfed baby poop is water soluble. If you feed your baby formula, or even supplement with formula, then you will need to rinse your poopy diapers before putting them in the washer.

If you need (or want) to rinse the poop off your diapers before washing them, all you have to do once you've taken the poopy diaper off your baby is stick it in the toilet, hold on tight to one corner of the diaper and flush. Alternatively, they make diaper sprayers that you can install on your toilet if sticking your hand in the toilet grosses you out.

A lot of people believe that you need to use a wet pail (a diaper pail with water in it) when you use cloth diapers, but this is not true. When we take a diaper off of Pierce we throw it directly into our dry pail. When the pail gets full (about every other day) I do a load of diaper laundry.

Zinc oxide is not compatible with cloth diapers. It will negatively effect the absorbency of the diapers, so if your baby has a diaper rash and you want to use diaper cream with zinc oxide, you will need to use a liner to prevent too much zinc oxide coming into contact with your diaper. The Bummis Diapering Kit that I bought to get us started came with three rolls of Bummis Bio-Soft liners and we've also used Kushies liners. They both work well and when we change a diaper, we flush them. Lately, though, when we're at home, we've been using Kushies reusable liners and they have been the best. I found that the disposable liners aren't very absorbent, so when Pierce pooped, they'd cause the poop to go up the back of his diaper and sometimes it'd even get on his diaper cover and his outfit. Gross. The reusable liners absorb the mess, and he hasn't pooped up the back of his diaper since we started using them. We still use the disposable ones when we're out, but once they're gone we'll go to using the reusable liners full time.

There are four main rules about laundering your cloth diapers:

1. Wash them in hot water;
2. Use very little detergent;
3. Rinse, rinse, rinse!; and
4. Absolutely, positively NO fabric softener.

You have to wash the diapers in hot water to kill any bacteria that might be on them. You want to use as little detergent as possible when washing your diapers in order to avoid detergent build-up on your diapers, which will negatively effect the absorbency of the diapers. You need to rinse your diapers very, very thoroughly to get the poop off at the beginning of the wash, and to get all the detergent out at the end of the wash. Using fabric softener will render your diapers ineffective. Fabric softener will make any moisture that comes into contact with the diapers bead up instead of soak in which, obviously, is not what you want with diapers. So you're not going to use any fabric softener. Not liquid in the wash, not sheets in the dryer. None.

When I wash our diapers, I dump them into the washer and then I run a full cold wash cycle without any detergent. When that is done, the diapers are free of any poop that was on them before I put them in. Then I run them on a hot wash cycle with one tablespoon of detergent. (Yes, I measure it.) I use Arm & Hammer Essentials detergent with no scent. You need to use a detergent free of enzymes, fragrance, dyes, optical brighteners, fabric softeners and bleach on your cloth diapers. Check out this table for information on which detergents will work for your cloth diapers. When the hot wash cycle is finished I run another cold wash cycle so that I can be sure that all the detergent has been rinsed out of the diapers. Then I throw them in the dryer and they're done!

I would love to be able to line-dry my diapers, but first of all, I live in Canada and it's not exactly optimal at this time of year to be line drying clothes, second of all, we live in a third floor condo and don't have anywhere to line dry them. As soon as we get a place with a backyard I am installing a clothesline. Also, if you get any stains on your diapers, you can get them out easily by placing them in the sun. The sun will bleach them right out, so there's no need to use anything extra to get out those stains. (And really, stains won't hurt your diapers, they just make them not look nice, so if they don't bother you then you don't have to worry about doing anything to get rid of them.)

Using cloth diapers really is so easy and I hope that I've inspired some of you to use cloth on your next child. Disposable diapers take 400 years to decompose. I don't want to have Pierce's great-great-great-great-grandchildren cleaning up after what he pooped in when he was a baby.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Busy Day!

Today was a very busy day for Pierce and I.

In an effort to get some exercise in, get out of the house, and encourage Pierce to take a nap, I've decided to take up "mall walking." For those of you who have never heard of this, basically you go to the mall really early before the stores open and walk around. It was lots of fun, and although Pierce didn't nap while I walked, he did enjoy looking around at the stores as they passed by. He only got fussy twice. The first time I leaned over while walking to put his soother in and he was fine, the second time the soother only pacified him for a little while, but that was okay because we were leaving shortly anyway. I was there for half an hour and I only did 3 laps around the mall. There is definitely room for improvement.

When I got home from the mall I had to take a shower because I was all sweaty from the walk. I didn't think I'd break a sweat, but I did! Then it was time for Babyville. Babyville is a group for parents and their infants aged 0-12 months to meet and discuss everything related to being a mom and having a baby. It is facilitated by a public health nurse. It was our group's last meeting today, and it was pretty sad for me. This has been something that I've looked forward to every week for the past 7 weeks. I really hope we continue getting together because this is a great group of girls. One of the girls said she'd have us over at her house next week at the same time, so I'm looking forward to that.

Pierce was pretty fussy at Babyville and I had a bit of time to kill before we had our Rainbow Songs class so I drove around a bit and he had a little nap in his car seat. Then it was time to go to our class. This was our first class (it was actually arranged by one of the women in my mommy group, so it was a one time thing and free, which is always nice) and I wasn't sure about how Pierce would handle it because he'd been so fussy earlier and because of his age. Rainbow Songs is a group for babies and their caregivers aged newborn to four years and they're new in my area. We sang a bunch of songs and I helped Pierce do some of the actions and did some of the more complex actions myself. It also incorporated some sign language, which I thought was really cool. I learned the sign for P, Daddy, Rooster, Cat, Cow, Tree and a whole bunch more. Pierce had a great time...I was so surprised! He was smiling, laughing and giggling the entire time. It was great! Luckily there's something like this available at the Ontario Early Years Centre close to me and they run their programs for free. I'm going to try and register us for that so that I don't have to spend the money.

On a completely unrelated note I weighed myself today and the scale is reading a lower number than it has been. Very exciting. The weight I'm at right now is very close to what I weighed in high school. Although I've had a child since then, so my body looks nothing like it did at this weight previously...but it's still my high school weight and I'm still proud of myself. I can't wait to see what my weight will be at the mid-point Biggest Loser weigh-in!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Introduction to Cloth Diapers

Yes, I am one of those people who use cloth diapers. Before you come to the conclusion that I am a crazy hippy and close my blog never to read it again, I ask you to give me a chance to explain why cloth diapers are not only better for the environment, but also better for your baby.

In the next few posts I will be telling you about the benefits of cloth diapers.

First, allow me to give you a quick overview of the possibilities that cloth diapers afford parents. Well before Mr. B and I decided to have children (probably even before we were married) I had decided that I wanted to use cloth diapers. Yes, I am a hippy, and I am proud of it. But there are so many different kinds of cloth diapers available and so much information on the internet that it can be very overwhelming. It took me a long time to decide on what I wanted to use.

There are three basic types of diapers, plus one really cool new one that I will get to after I explain the following three.

Prefolds are basically pieces of fabric that you fold in different ways, wrap around your baby and put a cover over. They are not to be confused with flat diapers, which are just one or two layers sewed together. Prefolds have different layers of fabric in different areas. They are separated into thirds length-wise and generally have four layers of fabric in the two outside thirds, and in the middle they have either 6 or 8 layers. When you look at them on cloth diaper websites, you will see something like 4x6x4 or 4x8x4. This tells you the thickness of the diapers.

Once you've folded the diaper around your baby you use a Snappi to fasten it and then put a cover over top. When you put the cover on you must take care that the diaper is completely covered around the waist of the baby and also around the legs. This will keep the baby's clothes dry when he pees or poops.

Prefold diapers are the diapers that we use on our son and they can be folded many different ways. This is the way we fold our diapers. We use Bummis brand prefold diapers. They have starter kids you can buy. I would recommend the infant size kit for parents just starting out with prefolds, but the baby sized kit has a lot of the same stuff in it anyways and we just bought the bigger sized diapers and covers instead of buying another kit. We purchased 36 prefold diapers and 5 covers and I do laundry every other day. When Pierce was smaller we still had 36 prefolds but I only did laundry every 2nd or 3rd day. I think that's because the larger sized prefolds fill my diaper pail faster than the smaller ones.

Prefold diapers are the cheapest cloth diaper option available.

Fitted Diapers
These are similar to prefold diapers in that you wrap them around the baby and then put a cover over top. The difference is that you don't need to fold them first. Also, most of the time these diapers come with either snaps or velcro attached so you don't need to use a Snappi with them.

The benefits of these diapers are that they are easier to use than prefolds because there is no folding involved. If your significant other isn't completely sold on the idea of cloth diapering, but your budget for cloth diapers is not huge, then this might be the option for you. They're easy to use, and while they're more expensive than prefold diapers, they're still pretty cost effective. You don't need any more covers with fitted diapers than you do with prefolds, either, so you could easily have 36 fitted diapers and 5 covers like we do with prefolds.

These are the Cadillac of cloth diapers. They are just like disposables, but made out of cloth. All you have to do is put the diaper under your baby's tush, and close it up with the attached snaps or velcro. No folding or cover needed. They come in different sizes based on the weight of your child, or they come in "one-sized" options with snaps on the front to adjust the rise of the diaper as your baby grows.

They also have the option of coming fully stuffed, or having "pockets" that you use to stuff the diaper with as many inserts as you wish before you put the diaper on your child. Pocket diapers are handy if you are one of the lucky ones whose baby sleeps for long periods during the night and you want to make sure he stays dry. You just stuff the diaper with as many inserts as you need. Of course, you can always lay extra inserts on the top of an all-in-one without a pocket, too.

These are the most expensive of the cloth diaper options, but they are also the easiest to use. If you have a significant other that is really opposed to cloth diapers, these are for you. These are also the easiest diaper for your daycare provider to use.

Hybrid Diapers
Sometimes these diapers are referred to as All-in-Twos, or even prefold diapers, but there is a distinct difference between the prefolds I discussed above and these diapers. These diapers are so. cool. Unfortunately they came out after Pierce was born. If they had come out before and given me a chance to research them, I would've chosen these hands down.

The way these diapers work gets me so excited. They are covers, called "shells" by the company that makes them, with "soaker pads" that snap in, and then a "booster" that you lay over the soaker pad if your baby requires more protection. Then you close them up over the baby.

I know what you're saying, "Devon, they work the same as the prefolds or all-in-ones you described above." And I say, "But wait! There's more!" in true infomercial fashion.

This is what makes them so cool. They have biodegradable soaker pads that also snap into the shells so that if you are traveling and don't have access to laundry facilities, you don't have to buy those chemical-filled disposable diapers that just go into the trash. These biodegradable shells can be put in the trash, flushed down the toilet or they can even be composted! (But don't put the poop in the compost, okay?) How incredibly cool is that?!

These diapers are in line cost-wise with other all-in-ones, and sometimes even more expensive, but since they are very new to the cloth diaper scene, I am hoping they will come down in price as time goes on.

I want these diapers, but I can't justify the price, especially since we have already spent money on prefold diapers that work just fine. If we ever travel with Pierce, though, I would love to use these in place of disposables.

So that is it with regards to our introduction. In my next post I will talk about how to care for your cloth diapers.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Debt Repayment

When my husband and I decided in December to start paying back our debt, we had over $20,000 in consumer debt alone. Neither of us have student loans so that is our only debt not including our car lease and our mortgage.

How did we get there, you ask? We were very, very irresponsible. We wanted instant gratification. We didn't want to wait and save up for purchases. We wanted to live the way we wanted to live, and not the way we could afford to live. We were very stupid.

I get angry with myself frequently when I think back to how irresponsible we were. We knew we were living beyond our means. We thought if we didn't think about it, it wasn't real. I worked for almost a year before we had Pierce. And I knew I needed to do a budget and track our spending, but I honestly thought that if I did a budget and counted up all our expenses and subtracted them from our income, I would find that we couldn't afford to pay our bills. And I wanted to be in denial about that.

Finally, at the end of last year I decided that we needed to do a budget. I am on maternity leave now, making 55% of what I did when I was at work and I wasn't expecting it to be pretty. But it was. I found that with the money that we bring in, we can pay all our bills, have all our necessities, and still have approximately $600 left over to pay towards our debt! Just think how much more money we would've had to put towards debt if I had done a budget when I was still working.

I try not to get angry with myself for waiting so long to get real about the amount of debt we have and make a plan to get us out of it, but it's hard. Think about how much more we could have paid down by now if we had started living on this budget before I went on mat leave! But I can't dwell on that. It's in the past, I've learned from my mistakes, now it's time to reverse it.

What really motivated me to do this were the money management posts on Simple Mom. Simple Mom is another blog run by Tsh of Simple Living Media and offers "Life hacks for home managers." I love this site. So. much. Seriously, go check it out. But come back here when you're finished, okay? Okay.

Tsh posted in her blog about Dave Ramsey's baby steps and that's what we're using to pay off our debt.

I also frequent the Money Matters message board on The Nest. The ladies there are so knowledgeable. After we sat down and did our budget, I posted it there so that I could get some feedback on it. They're so helpful there, I would encourage anyone trying to get out of debt to post their budget there and see what the ladies have to say.

Anyway, I am very proud of us for the progress we've made in the past two months. And it feels good to make a decision not to buy something when I'm out shopping. Of course I don't always make that decision. But I am learning. And that's what's important.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Biggest Loser

I joined my moms group's biggest loser challenge on Tuesday. It runs until May 14th with a mid-point weigh in on April 1st. We all paid $20 to join and whoever loses the highest percentage of weight wins all the money at the end! There were 12 or 13 people there so that's a nice chunk of change, for sure. If I win it will all be going towards my debt.

I haven't been doing anything special, but I think I might follow Weight Watchers by myself. I've done Weight Watchers before so I know how it works. I'd like to be able to join again, but I can't justify the expense.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


For those of you who don't know what Lent is, here is a Wikipedia article that explains it.

Lent starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday. Lent is a time of fasting, among other things, and many Christians give up a vice during this time.

This year I have chosen to give up eating out completely. No fast food, healthy or unhealthy. No sit down restaurants. No drive-thrus.

This will be particularly difficult for me because I really enjoy eating out. But it will be good for me. For both my wallet and my waistline. We'll see how I do.

Do you give up something for Lent? If so, what?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

101 in 1001

The Challenge:
Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.

The Criteria:
Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on your part).

Why 1001 Days?
Many people have created lists in the past - frequently simple challenges such as New Year's resolutions or a 'Bucket List'. The key to beating procrastination is to set a deadline that is realistic. 1001 Days (about 2.75 years) is a better period of time than a year, because it allows you several seasons to complete the tasks, which is better for organising and timing some tasks such as overseas trips, study semesters, or outdoor activities.

Read more here.

I feel good about this list, this time. I started a list before and didn't even come close to finishing it, but I've revised about half of the goals on my old list, either removed them completely, or modified them slightly and I feel good about getting it all done in the allotted time. I hope this inspires someone else to do the 101 in 1001!

My start date: February 17, 2010
My end date: November 14, 2012

Tasks not started
Tasks in progress
Tasks that have been finished

  1. Donate Blood
  2. Get another tattoo
  3. Go to a drive-in movie
  4. Learn to knit
  5. Take a Yoga class
  6. Take a multi-vitamin every day for one month
  7. Take a curling lesson
  8. Learn how to skate
  9. Go to the symphony
  10. Learn to play an instrument
  11. Take a scrapbooking class
  12. Read 15 books (0/15)
  13. Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity
  14. Get a Brazilian wax
  15. Learn how to jump start a car
  16. Go to see a comedian
  17. Take a cooking class
  18. Renew my passport
  19. Take a spinning class
  20. Make a list of 101 things I love about my husband
  21. Make a list of 101 things I love about myself
  22. Take a ballroom dancing class
  23. Pay off all consumer debt
  24. Put $5/week into an RRSP for both me and my husband
  25. Sell my Beanie Babies
  26. Sell paper lanterns
  27. Build our emergency fund to contain a minimum of $3,500
  28. Learn to use a sewing machine
  29. Drive to the West coast and back
  30. Get to a goal weight of 150lbs
  31. Don't eat out for one month
  32. Eat a vegetarian diet for one month
  33. Give up all fast food for one month
  34. Get over my fear of the dentist and start going regularly
  35. Don't drink any pop for one month
  36. Drink nothing but water for one month
  37. Brush my teeth twice per day for one month
  38. Floss once per day for one month
  39. Go to church every Sunday for 12 weeks
  40. Wash my face twice per day for one week
  41. Wear make up every day for one week
  42. Get boudior portraits done
  43. Wear a bikini and feel fabulous
  44. Watch all episodes of Friends in order
  45. Watch all the movies that have won Best Picture since I've been alive
  46. Eat at a sit down restaurant all by myself
  47. Do the 60km walk for women's cancers
  48. Give all my clothes that are old or don't fit me anymore to charity
  49. Give the baby outfit to charity
  50. Volunteer in a soup kitchen
  51. Put flowers on someone's grave who I don't know
  52. Scrapbook our wedding pictures
  53. Paint a room in my house all by myself
  54. Host Thanksgiving/Christmas dinner by myself
  55. Change the chandelier in the dining room all by myself
  56. Create a time capsule to be opened when I turn 50
  57. Create a time capsule for Pierce to open when he turns 25
  58. Scrapbook Pierce's first year
  59. Make a Will
  60. Designate a Power of Attorney
  61. Start a savings fund for Pierce
  62. Designate someone to take care of Pierce should Mr. B and I die before he's able to take care of himself
  63. Put together Pierce's crib trundle drawer
  64. Buy a change table for Pierce's room and put it together
  65. Clean (or get someone else to clean) the tall window in the living room
  66. Change the handles on the cabinets in the kitchen
  67. Change the handles on the cabinets in the bathroom
  68. Print and use the dockets and checklists from Simple Mom
  69. Start writing to Chloe again and write at least once per month
  70. Take Pierce swimming
  71. Make and freeze Pierce's baby food
  72. Donate $5 to a charity of my choice for each goal that I do not complete
  73. Put $5 in my RRSP for every goal I complete
  74. Get smoke alarms installed
  75. Continue meal planning for at least 6 months
  76. Send a secret to Post Secret
  77. Do my Moms' group's Biggest Loser competition
  78. Start using a metal water bottle
  79. Sneak into a movie
  80. Tell my husband that I love him every day for one month
  81. Get Pierce a passport
  82. Use our deposit to get nice pictures of Pierce taken
  83. Host a Norwex party
  84. Go away for a weekend with Mr. B and leave Pierce at home
  85. Choose a difficult recipe and become a pro at making it
  86. Take a walk and pick up garbage
  87. Take Pierce to dinner at the Rainforest Cafe
  88. Take at least 10 pictures of Pierce each month, not including his age-sign pictures
  89. Go for a walk three times per week for one month
  90. Learn to make my own cleaning products
  91. Take Pierce to the zoo
  92. Send Christmas cards each Christmas during the 1,001 days
  93. Go through my stuff and either sell or donate things I don't use/want
  94. Mail Thank You cards
  95. Add Pierce to my benefits
  96. Mail Pierce's birth registration
  97. Take Pierce to the beach
  98. Match the dollar amount of gift certificates Pierce gets in his savings account
  99. Give something up for Lent each year during the 1,001 days
  100. Go a week without watching television
  101. Go a week without using the computer

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


My friend, Kristin (Hi, Kristin! Love you!) has inspired me to start up my blog again. But there are going to be some changes. I cannot keep a blog that is only about one subject. I've tried to do it many times before and it just doesn't work for me. So instead of this being a blog about having a baby it will now be about my life. Anything I'm doing. Whatever I feel like writing about.

Back in summer of 2008 I started a 101 in 1,001 and I never ended up finishing it. I am going to fix up my list, post it here, and start it again, so look for that soon.