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How to Buy Used Cloth Diapers

Buying cloth diapers used has many advantages. Not only can you save quite a bit of money but you are also helping the environment by recycling. As great as buying used is, there are a few things to look out for.

First things first, where to find used cloth diapers.

  • Social media sites. I personally use Facebook groups.  Just a quick search of cloth diaper b/s/t (buy, sell, trade) or swap will elicit many results. The main advantage of using Facebook groups is the sheer number of people who use them. There are also groups dedicated to only selling a particular brand or you can join a group that is just with other people in your area.
  • Kijiji/Craigs List. Online classified sites can be a great source of diapers. You are able to look just in your area which means no shipping charges.
  • Mom 2 Mom sales. These are very hit or miss but you can get really good deals particularly at the end of the day.
  • Used cloth diaper websites. There are two types; online consignment stores (I only know of one in Canada and two in the USA) and forums.

What to look out for when buying used. Unless you are shopping at a used cloth diaper retailer, the process of buying used is buyer beware. There are a few things to look out for to help make a smooth purchase.

1) Pictures – The saying is true: a picture tells a thousand words. If the seller does not post a picture, there must be a reason why. Yes, we all get busy in our lives but, without a photo, how can you be sure the items are as described. Before I buy used, I make sure there are photos of the inside and outside of the diaper. The more pictures the better. Generally, if a seller provides multiple photos, the items will be in described condition.

2) Acronyms - Know the basic acronyms BN, LN, EUC, GUC, UC, MMAO and do not be afraid to ask the seller why they classified their diaper as good used condition. Unless you are dealing with a company, condition is applied by the discretion of the seller. What you consider used, the seller may think is excellent used.

3) Communication – If the seller does not answer your questions or will not describe the item in detail, do not buy. Back away. On the flip side, just because you inquired about a diaper does not mean you have to buy it. There will always be another one.

4) Payment – Unless you are meeting in person and paying cash, make sure you pay securely. Use Paypal (or similar) because if the transaction goes bad you have some recourse.  Do not ‘gift’ the money.

5) Stains – I know stains can be gross but let me be the first to say: stains are no big deal. Unless the stain was caused by a diaper cream (which creates a water repellant layer) it can be sunned out. A good cleaning and a few days out in the sun and the diaper will look clean again. Buying diapers with some stains will save you money.

Always remember that when buying cloth diapers used, all original warranties are voided.

What to do with your used diapers once you get home. Understandably there can be a certain ick factor when buying used cloth diapers. There are two ways I handle used diapers when I get them in.

1) I do nothing. This only applies to cloth diapers that are in their original packaging or come from some one I trust and know exactly how they have been used and cared for.

2) I strip the *bleep* out of them.

Like anything with cloth diapers, everyone has different ways to strip their diapers. My favourite method is to put the diapers in the sink (or bathtub if dealing with a large volume)  with the hottest water that will come out of the taps. I then add some washing soda (1-2 tablespoons if in the sink or 1/2 cup in the bathtub) or one packet of RLR and stir, stir, stir for 5-10 minutes. If the diapers look particularly well loved, or I just don't trust where they came from, I will add a small amount of bleach (nonchlorine bleach works, too) - 1 capful for the sink and 1/4 cup in the tub. 

From the moment you were thinking about cloth diapering, everyone has said to stay away from bleach - but we are talking about something that will be placed next to your baby's most sensitive areas. You need to make sure any yeast or 'yuckies'  from the previous user are taken care of. However, I only use bleach for extreme circumstances.

I then let them sit in the water overnight (if using bleach only an hour or two), stirring occasionally. In the morning (or an hour'ish' later if using bleach) drain the water, wring them out and put into the washing machine. You now need to get all of the washing soda out of the diapers. Do not add any soap. It may take a few cycles for them to be completely rinsed (when there is not more soap bubbles in the wash and the water is clear in the wash). I then hang up the diapers outside for a couple of days so the sun can work its magic and get rid of anything the washing soda/bleach may have missed. Bonus is that the sun will whiten your diapers, too!

My number 1 rule with buying used is TRUST YOUR GUT. If you are unsure or just have a 'feeling' something is not quite right, do not buy them. The right diapers will come. 

Written by RDA volunteers Katrina and James Thom, owners of From The Stash which specializes in used cloth diapers.

 


Going Green with Wool Diaper Covers

"Wool covers?  Really you put that itchy hot wool on your baby?"

I can't tell you how many times I heard this.  But oh how wrong they are. I know that in a lot of the cloth diaper histories they say that wool is just now being found to be a good cover for cloth diapers.  This statement is NOT true.   Wool covers have been around for probably as long as the cloth diaper.  Man has been using wool for centuries, and I am sure there was some smart lady that thought it would be great for a diaper cover so her lap didn't get wet.  Ok, maybe that is far fetched, but really if you ask your grandma or great grandma what they used over their cloth diapers they would most likely say wool.  My hubby's Grandma thinks that my cloth diapers are so fun because they have bright colors and no pins!  We have talked cloth diapers many times.  Once the topic of covers came up... she said she used wool covers.  Her boys would get terrible rashes and ammonia burns if she used the plastic pants.  So she made up some wool covers.  My hubby's dad had wool covers on his bum... we are only 2 generations removed from that.  Other countries such as New Zealand, Australia and England use mostly wool covers.  So why do we say they are the latest and greatest in cloth diapering?  I have no idea.

What is the difference between wool and plastic covers?  What makes wool so great?  How do you take care of it? Let's talk about it...

WOOL COVERS VS. PUL COVERS

1. Wool is absorbent. PUL covers are moisture resistant, but not absorbent.  Wool is actually quite absorbent, increasing the capacity of your diapering system, while also acting as a barrier by not releasing that moisture to your lap.

2. Wool is breathable. What is PUL?  It is a PolyUrethane that they Laminate on to a fabric.  Most often it is a polyester fabric, but I have seen PUL on cotton, too.  PUL is supposed to be more breathable than the plastic pants that have been used as diaper covers in the past.  I guess maybe it might be, but I have PUL fabric at my house... and I have tried to breath through it.  -Really I did!  And....?  Nope... I couldn't breath though it.  So in my mind, if I can't breathe through it, then how much air is really being circulated?  Well, not as much as I would like. Wool is very breathable, though.  Wool is the perfect fabric.  It allows your body to be warm when the weather is cool, and cools the body through evaporative cooling when it is hot.  So even if you live in Florida or Arizona, you can use wool on your baby and they will feel cool and comfortable!

3. Wool is convenient. The PUL covers are pretty convenient for throwing in the wash when ever you need to, but wool care is easier than you think! (See below section for wool care.) You can say... "ah-ha, but the PUL covers snap."  You would be right, but so do wool covers.  I make a pretty mean wrap style wool cover that snaps and is a one-size.

4. Wool is versatile and stylish. I also love the versatility of wool.  There are pull up style covers such as soakers and longies.  Even more fun, though, are the skirties and shorties that are simply adorable.  I love that they can replace the blah jeans that everyone else puts on their babies that, let's be honest, really aren't that comfy.  I loved putting handmade longies on my babies because no other little baby would have the same outfit.

5. Wool is natural. PUL is about as man-made as you can get.  Wool is about as natural as you can get.  Wool is naturally anti-bacterial, and, as an added benefit, it is also naturally flame retardant.  Wool can also be extremely soft!  I hand pick the wool I use for my covers, and if you could feel the wool I pick, you would be sad I was cutting up the sweater.  Really, you would want it for yourself.

CARING FOR WOOL

Getting back to the washing comparison, wool is different!  It is SPECIAL!

Really, the care of wool is not that hard.  I know this is a big, BIG part of why most people are afraid to try wool coves.  However, a mama who once reviewed my products said this about wool:

"I had no idea that wool was so low-maintenance.  Unlike fleece or other materials that need to be washed after each use, wool only needs to be washed and lanolized once a month"  -Kristen

 

So, from the mouth of a mama...  wool is easy to care for:

  • I simply hand wash the woolies in lukewarm water,
  • then melt a pea sized amount of lanolin in a cup of boiling water.
  • Add the lanolin/water to a big bowl of lukewarm water and
  • then add the woolies.
  • Let them soak there for 4-6 hrs or overnight.
  • Then get the water out without wringing the woolie.  I throw mine (not the delicate crocheted or knitted ones) in the spin cycle of my washing machine.  (The delicate ones can just be rolled in a towel to absorb the excess water.)
  • Then hang them up to dry.  I love to hang them outside, they dry super fast.
  • I even have a simple lanolizing video tutorial on my webpage. Wool can be soft, it is absorbent, and is 100% breathable.  Wool is a perfect cover for cloth diapers.

Vilate is a WAHM with 6 kiddos and a longtime RDA supporter and volunteer. She has perfected her cloth diaper design over the 12 years she has been using cloth diapers.  You can find a lot of cloth diapering and wool information on her website. http://niftynappy.com.


Overnight Diapering

Night-time diapering can prove to be a doozey, especially for heavy, fast wetting babies. Leakage happens to even the most experienced cloth diapering parent. Why? Because that’s life and things happen, but there are ways to ensure extremely infrequent leakage, a stay dry feeling to promote longer sleeping times while being stylish and fitting in your budget!

One of the most important tips in night time diapering is using the right kind and enough absorbent layers.  Lots of parents new to cloth diapering worry about its bulkiness.  They may say things like “my baby can’t close his/her legs or it just looks so thick”. That’s okay! They’ll be sleeping well and so will you if they have enough layers to absorb their nighttime eliminations. You’ll find 100% cotton layering most “bulky” or thick so if the sight of extra fluffiness bothers you, look for diapers or doublers/inserts in hemp and/or bamboo cotton-blends, which are more trim. Knowing the right combination of absorbent layers may take some trial and error, but it’s worth testing to find the right solution.

Think about your baby’s sensitivity to moisture. Every baby is very different and thankfully, cloth diaper manufacturers had developed diapers to fit the varying needs of babies. If your baby has a sensitivity to moisture, I’d consider using a “stay-dry” barrier between the skin and the absorbent layers of the diaper. A “stay-dry” barrier is one made of either Microfleece or Suedecloth fabric that wicks the wetness to the below absorbent layers allowing the child to feel dry. This could be a DIY piece of microfleece that you get from Joann Fabric’s or another local fabric store that you’ll cut to fit your baby or a diaper that offers this type of fabric. A pocket diaper allows you to stuff it to capacity to create a nighttime solution that’s right for your baby. If you’re like me and use two part systems, you can find prefolds and fitteds in hemp or bamboo blends, then cover it with your favorite diaper cover.  Be sure you tuck in any and all exposed cloth so that the sheets and baby’s clothes don’t get wet from exposure to the diaper.

Wool is an amazing nighttime diapering problem solver – even if you live in warmer climates like me in South Florida!  Wool is not difficult to take care of and could be a welcomed addition to your cloth diaper stash – especially for night-time diapering since it’s so absorbent. Once you’ve put the lanolin (natural oils from sheep fur) back into the wool cover, the lanolin will neutralize the urine virtually turning it into water and since wool is so breathable, you’ll be able to air-dry your damp wool covers and then use them over and over again and again until they’re soiled or until it’s just time for a good wash and re-lanolizing.

Be realistic about your baby’s sleep patterns. If you have a newborn, 9 times out of 10, no matter how much you layer, no matter whether you have a stay-dry barrier or not, you baby will wake up every 2 hours or so. This isn’t because of the diaper, necessarily, but because new babies wake, eat, poop and sleep very often. If you’re making the switch to cloth and your infant or toddler is already in a rhythm be aware that your baby may need some adjustment time too. He or she will feel wet after they’ve urinated. This is a GOOD thing! Their ability to make a body/mind connection early in life enables you to potty train earlier. Everyone wins. For more tips, check out the Real Diaper Association’s Nighttime Diapering Tip sheet. Happy Cloth Diapering & Goodnight!

Mia McDonald, Real Diaper Circle of South Florida Co-Leader


Cloth Diapers + Day Care: A Guide

"Day Care". Two of the scariest words a parent ever utters.

"Cloth Diapers". Two of the scariest words a day care provider ever hears.

Photo courtesy of Jamie Karutz

Okay, okay.  Maybe it’s not all that bad.  But for cloth diapering families, finding day care can be extra daunting.  You’re already wandering the streets of your city looking for a stranger to care for your precious cargo.  It’s a big worry to know that you’ll have to ask about your beloved fluff.  So, let’s all take a deep breath and start at the beginning. Day Care providers (of which I am one) know how anxious you are.  Many of us have been in your shoes (including me).  So once you’ve done your preliminary stalking research, you’ll  probably have a pretty good idea of what you are and are not looking for in a provider.  My guess is, if you’re reading this post, that “cloth friendly” is pretty high up on the list.  Great!  Thanks for spreading the love!  Now let’s talk about how you can help ease your provider’s anxiety about using these "newfangled" reusable diapers.

1. Keep it simple. I know.  You love your diapers and you can (and will) tell any anyone who’s willing to listen WHY you chose cloth and WHY you use AIOs/AI2s/flats/fitteds, etc.  I know we are changing the way the world views diapering, and it’s awesome.  I love knowing that I am keeping weird chemicals off of my Dude’s junk.  But not everyone is there yet.  And many never will be.

So when you bring up cloth, keep it simple.  “We use modern cloth diapers because they are a good fit for our family.  Do you have experience using cloth?”

2a. Bring a diaper. Bring your cutest, cleanest, softest, simplest diaper. As I already told you, we were big AI2 fans (Oh, did you see that?  I said did.  Yeah.  We’re down to one a day!)  I know not everyone loves them, but they look like disposables.  Anyone who’s ever changed a disposable diaper or has used a school-nurse provided maxi-pad can use a pocket/AIO/AI2.  If you have any, I would suggest starting there in your interview process.  In my experience, as both a working mom seeking day care and as a day care provider, most providers are more comfortable with pockets and all in ones/twos. I’ve also heard that Velcro/Aplix is preferable. (I prefer snaps myself, because holy moly they figure out Velcro fast!)   It boils down to hands.  I’ve only got two.  And when I’m switching back and forth between these three kids in cloth and these three kids in disposables (or as my mom says, “paper”) I love just going through the same motions.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy.  The quicker we’re done tending to body fluids, the more time we have for fun, learning, and socializing- which is what day care is all about!

2b. Also, bring a wetbag and liners to show how easy it is to change a cloth diaper! If you can sneak it in to the interview, plop your kid down and change that dipe while talking about that rad show you just saw at the House of Blues.  (KIDDING!  You haven't left your house in 127 days and you know it!)  If you don't think that's your style, ask if you can schedule an extra five minutes to demonstrate changing a cloth diaper.  If you’re visiting during business hours, chances are the provider isn’t going to have a whole lot of 1:1 time set aside.  Ask ahead of time!

3. Be flexible and make it as easy as possible on your provider. Your day care provider wants to make your life easy.  Try to repay in kind.  Stuff your diapers the night before.  Throw a liner on top.  Talk to your significant other and figure out if you’re willing to switch diaper styles or add to your stash if that’s what it boils down to.  I have one sweet mama who has a set of pockets just for me.  I don’t know how she does it, but she gets those bad boys washed up and ready for me to use every couple of days.  Another mama I just met said, “Whatever!  You like pockets?  I’ll get rid of some of my dipes and get a few more pockets!”  I know that isn’t feasible for everyone, but her willingness to make my life easier meant the world.

4. Educate yourself! Print out some info and take it with you.  You can find and print information from RDA’s Diaper Facts. Print your state's regulations, and keep them for reference until your day care search is over.  Click on your state at this website http://nrckids.org/STATES/states.htm.

5. Be prepared and accommodating! Your provider will appreciate it!

  • Keep an extra wetbag at the day care.
  • Provide cloth diaper friendly rash cream.
  • Leave a roll of liners.
  • Keep a pack of flats or disposables on hand (gasp!).   I grew up in SoCal.  I taught in the ghetto for five years. I have often thought, “If there was even a small earthquake/lock-down  could I…”  Now don’t panic.  The odds are very slim.  Especially the lock-down part.  You’re probably not dropping your kid off at daycare where shootings occur.   But if a power line goes down and blocks my street and I have your kids for an extra four hours that day, there are concerns.  Like: Do I have wine for when this day is finally over?  Do you think DJ Lance Rock is single?  And how will I keep all these little bums dry for an extra half day?

I hope I have eased some of your fears about day care and cloth diapers.  If you have any other questions that you would like me to address in my next post, please email me at bairniesinbloom@gmail.com.

Happy Diapering!

Liz Weaver, Bairnies in Bloom Child Enrichment

For more tips on getting your cloth diapers into daycare, refer to this guide provided by the Real Diaper Association and Real Diaper Industry Association.


The Not So Scary Flat Diaper!

When people think about cloth diapers, they often think about flats. Flats are the classic cloth diaper - the diaper your grandmother used. Nowadays, with the boom of disposable diapers and our easy on, easy off mentality, when people think of flat diapers, they often think EEK! That's way too much work! All that folding, pinning and those ugly plastic pants.

Believe it or not, flat diapers are very easy to use! They are super easy to wash and travel friendly. Throw them in the washing machine with a little detergent and bleach, and they will come out nice clean and smelling fresh. Those ugly plastic pants are long gone. PUL (polyurethane laminate) diaper covers nowadays are cute; they come in prints or solids you choose. They come in many different configurations, with snaps or velcro closures, in one-size (around 6lbs-30lbs) or sized (s,m,l) varieties. PUL diaper covers are easy to clean. Just wipe the inside down with a little soap and water, let it dry, and it's ready for its next diaper change.

Traveling or don't have your own washer and dryer? Wash your flat diapers in the sink, bathtub or bucket, then hang dry. While we were on vacation in San Francisco, we did just this. I packed flats and covers. We brought a couple samples of cloth diaper detergent, washed them up in the sink, and hung them to dry over the shower in our hotel room.

Short on cash? Flat diapers are also cheap! You can flat diaper and cover your child for less than $200.00 all the way to potty training, depending on how many flats and covers you buy. A dozen flat diapers is around $18.00 and diaper covers anywhere from $10 to $17. You don't have to buy flat diapers though. Flour sack towels are also a great option for cheap diapering. They are found in the kitchen department of your local Walmart/Target store for around $4 for 3 or 4.

Looking to be green? Flat diapering is recycling at its best. Any old t-shirt can easily be made into a flat diaper with no sewing required. Cut your t-shirt into a 27x27 square for a small flat or a 29x29 square for a large flat. No old t-shirts? Use what you have on hand to cover baby's bottom.  Cut down old sheets or receiving blankets.  After baby is potty trained, flat diapers make excellent dish cloths and duster!

How do you get that large square around baby? Easy. You have the option of a number of folds -- origami, bikini, twist. Once you fasten it around baby, secure it with a snapi or diaper pins, and place a cover over it. Don't want to fancy fold? No problem!  Fold your flat into quarters, then fold the sides,  place it in your diaper cover, then put it around baby. Easy as that!

Flats are classic diapering at its best. Don't run away scared. You will be surprised at how easy it is!

- Dawn Marmorstein, RDA Volunteer


Cloth diapers contribute to zero waste goals

In a meeting of strategic partners of the Reuse Alliance, I made contact with one of the consultants working on the Zero Waste plan for Oceanside, a city just north of San Diego.  When a community attempts to reduce their waste through recycling and composting initiatives, there is a residual waste component that still remains - a large portion of which (15-20%) ends up being single-use plastic diapers.  Therefore, this consultant asked me to submit recommendations for the types of cloth diaper programs Oceanside could adopt to reach closer to their zero waste goals.

This being a new area for me, I did a lot of research on existing zero waste plans, focusing on the types of programs that best support the use of reusables in place of single-use alternatives.  The recommendations I submitted include cloth diaper educational programs, financial incentives for families to use cloth diapers, support for institutional (hospitals, daycares, elder care homes) cloth diaper use, cloth diaper business support, and increased access to diaper laundering facilities (laundromats, hotel machines).  (If you're interested in the details: oceanside zero waste diaper recommendations.)

>>June 2012 UPDATE: The Oceanside City Council approved the zero waste plan unanimously - - including the cloth diaper support portion!

Picture (c) Environmental Psychology Research Group, The University of Surrey 2005

I've been told that solid waste managers need to periodically update their plans.  If we provide recommendations to these managers as to programs that can reduce diaper waste in their municipalities, they just might adopt them.  Want to see a cloth diaper subsidy locally? Ask for it!  Join the Diaper Aid Hub Facebook conversation and share your experiences with others advocating for similar incentives.

Heather McNamara

Executive Director, Real Diaper Association


How to Handle One Diaper a Day

What do you do when you only have one nighttime diaper a day to wash? Do you wait a week and wash all seven at once? That would mean you would need seven night time diapers. That may also make for some pretty stinky diapers.... When faced with this dilemma, some moms have decided to throw in the cloth towel and use disposables. Don't fret! There are at least a couple solutions to this problem and none of them require you spend more money or expose your toddler to the disposable diapers you had previously been avoiding.

I don't quite have one diaper a night (since I have twins that still sleep in diapers) but I have found a couple ways to continue washing nighttime diapers. The dilemma boils down to, how do you get a full load of laundry out of one diaper? It is recommended that you wash cloth diapers at least every 2-3 days to avoid growth of any kind. You have several options on how to wash them.

First you can collect all your whites, socks, underwear, towels etc and wash them with your two night time diapers every other day. My favorite option has been to increase our home cloth use! Cloth diapering has helped us to be even more "green" than we were before our kiddos were born. My suggestion is to get even "greener"! I like to wash our few diapers with our cloth napkins, unpaper towels, momma cloth, and washcloths that we use to clean up the kids after meals and at bath time. (Did I mention adding the underwear and/or trainers that are soiled during this trying potty learning time?) I alternate washing these items with either the sheets and mattress protectors from the kid's beds or with two white towels. (Yes, I wash them with napkins. Diapers get washed more thoroughly than anything else in our home and are the cleanest load of laundry! Also, urine is sterile, so with simply wet nighttime diapers, you don't have to worry about the microbes found in dirty diapers.)

Use flats to make it easier to wash your one diaper a day.

Another option for washing very few diapers a week is to wash one diaper a day by hand. This may seem intimidating but can be much easier and more cost effective than running an entire washing machine load if you don't have anything else to wash the diaper with. For hand washing made easy, we often use two flat diapers (one birdseye flat and one receiving blanket turned flat diaper folded your favorite way), a washcloth as a doubler, topped with a layer of fleece which helps keep the kiddos from waking by keeping them feeling dry. Wrap this up with your favorite cover and you are all set! Flat diapers are easier to hand wash due to having only one layer of material. They also line dry fairly quickly! (Dry time will vary depending on your climate.)

So, if you have been a fan of cloth, don't give up while potty learning! Get even "greener"!

This post was written by Janice Roodsari. Janice is a stay at home mom to twins, an RN, an environment and cloth diaper advocate, and a blogger. She also leads the Real Diaper Circle of Ventura County. You can find more posts written by Janice at http://mommawords.com.


cloth diapering in the rainforest? a travel tale...

As we enter summer travel season, this personal story forms the basis of some important advice that I give to cloth diapering parents in our local Circle meetings.  I thought a revisit here might also assist more people as they plan their travels ahead...

Our family had the opportunity to go down to Panama for three weeks to visit my brother and sister-in-law who run an island resort down there. Since I can't stand the thought of buying disposable diapers (much less putting them on my kids), I, of course, planned to bring my cloth diapers with us on vacation. At one point, I vaguely planned to get a stash of flats as I figured they'd take up less space, but then I got lazy and just went with what I had - 8 pockets with prefolds for stuffing, 6 larger prefolds, 2 PUL covers, and 2 nighttime fitteds and a wool cover.

It took us two days of travel on either end. Ride to airport, flight from NY to Miami, flight from Miami to Panama City, taxi to hotel. The next day (after a brief anticlimactic visit to the Panama Canal), we took another taxi to a different airport, a prop plane to Bocas town, a taxi across the island, and a boat to Popa. And reverse that for the way back (minus a second trip to the Canal, but adding in an unplanned - and unexplained - stop on the prop plane back to Panama City). With a 3-year-old and a 15-month-old. Yikes! I put together a bag of diapers for each day of travel, packing the second one in our checked luggage each time, so I only had a half dozen diapers to carry on. A friend made me a tiny wetbag in which I stored wet washcloths (which were handy for more than diaper changing). Keeping the kids happy and entertained while traveling was FAR harder than cloth diapering!

We had a FANTASTIC vacation, but I definitely could have done a few thing differently with the diapers if I had it to do over again. What were the biggest obstacles?

1. I forgot to bring my laundry detergent. Duhhh... The few times we've deviated on detergent caused problems in the past - and this was no exception. The little guy developed a light rash which wasn't helped by...

2. I only had a couple of samples of diaper rash ointment with me as we rarely have to deal with rashes and I had just thrown them in the bag "in case". Speaking of ointment, I also didn't have diaper liners with me, which I normally use with the ointment, which became a problem because...

3. The washing machine was awful - even when it was "working", which was intermittent. This was a particular problem since I couldn't do much rinsing prior to washing in the low-flow toilets (boy, did I miss my diaper sprayer!). The diapers still smelled a little after washing, but water is from a catchment system on the island so I didn't feel right about running the load through multiple times (nor was it easy to hike to the back of the property to reach the laundry to begin with). Normally, this is something a little sunning could do wonders for, but, alas, in a rainforest, sun alternates with rain so frequently that you can't really do much line drying (though I did try one cloudless day).

Diapers drying in the Panama Rainforest

Diapers drying in the Panama Rainforest

4. The dryer was also miserable, and the constant high level of humidity didn't help. I realized shortly that "wet" and "dry" are relative terms. After the diapers came out of the dryer, they were "less wet" than when they came out of the washer, so they counted as "dry". This constant state of wetness probably contributed to the rash mentioned in #1 and the smelliness in #3 above. (Though I must honestly note that the diapers were MUCH softer than when I air dry them in San Diego...) Numbers 3 and 4 could probably have been alleviated with the use of flats which would have been easier to wash and dry quickly (why did I never act on that idea!?!). I had the most problems cleaning and drying the nighttime fitted diapers, so phased those out in lieu of two prefolds. (Turns out I liked the trimness and functionality of that system so much that I haven't gone back to the fitteds and will be selling them off as soon as I get home - proving again that even an experienced cloth diaperer is always changing her routine.)

5. The last problem was definitely due to lack of foresight. I only had two medium-size wetbags with me - and no diaper pail! So the wetbags were it. They would have to hold two full days' diapers in them so you had to really jam them in there. Of course, that made them wick and smell a little (I also forgot my handy tea tree oil!!). I should definitely have brought at least one all-day size wetbag. I tried to talked to some local moms about diapering (their word for diapers - even the kind they washed - was "pampers" - sad, eh?). The Panamanians mostly used disposables, though they were really interested when they saw my pockets. However, the Ngobe women (the local indigenous people) mostly washed and reused their diapers (flats). I saw one of their washing stations and it was literally a rock in a creek with some string hung overhead between trees. It made me feel a little ridiculous for missing my diaper sprayer.

Ngobe "Laundry Room"

Ngobe "Laundry Room"

Fortunately, the little guy's butt never got too bad and healed quickly upon our return. The diapers were cured with a single wash in my parents' awesome washing machine with some good laundry detergent. So, all in all, a success! With a little more foresight and planning, I could have avoided all the problems I ran into. However, it proved that cloth diapering is possible even when it's not perfect, which is something worth remembering.

Heather McNamara

Executive Director, Real Diaper Association


2012 Real Diaper Week - Saving Money with Cloth Diapers

We know that reusable cloth diapers produce less waste and are better for the environment.  But in this tight economy, increasing numbers of families are most interested in the savings they can experience by using cloth diapers. Earlier this month, a Great Cloth Diaper Change host focused on this in the Mothering.com blog.  Janice  from Momma Words followed it up today with a great (and detailed) reminder that "it is hardly ever too late to save money by switching to cloth".  For a run-down on the best money-saving strategies while using cloth diapers, check out today's posts from Little Tiny Love or My Cloth Diaper Stash.  But let's say you want to save even MORE by using items already around your house?  The Eco Chic Calley will help you out!

This financial savings aspect is especially important to families already in tough financial straits. It's important to remember that cloth diapers ARE an option for low-income families.  Flats (from flour sacks or even kitchen towels) are a great option for those struggling to afford the investment in fancy diapers.  And handwashing flats is totally workable.  Want to try it yourself to prepare for ? Join the Second Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge organized by Kim of Dirty Diaper Laundry.

The past year has seen a noteworthy increase in the number of volunteers working to help low-income families get into cloth diapers. Real Diaper Association volunteers have shared their process for making things happen so that you, too, can help in your community with 5 simple steps.  Unable to make things happen locally?  You can donate to one of the cloth diaper charities listed on the Diaper Aid Hub Facebook page.

Heather McNamara

Executive Director, Real Diaper Association

 

(Update: Real Diaper Week is now celebrated via School of Cloth in the Fall. Our link updated to reflect this change.)


2012 Real Diaper Week - Reducing Waste with Cloth Diapers

This week is Real Diaper Week, intended to increase awareness about reusable cloth diapers. Today we're focusing on the waste reduction benefit to cloth diapers.

- Americans are throwing away 60,000 diapers per minute.

- Households with babies in single-use diapers literally double their waste.

- These diapers then sit in landfills for 250-500 years before decomposing.

- In addition to the contribution to landfill, consider all the natural resources (trees, petroleum) used in the manufacture of billions of throwaway diapers.

Celebrating Earth Day means renewed commitments for many people to the tenets of Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Reusable cloth diapers consume fewer raw materials (including petro-chemicals) and produce less waste. Just as people are rejecting single-use plastic water bottles and grocery bags in favor of reusable versions, increasing numbers of parents are choosing reusable diapers. And, as it turns out, using cloth diapers isn't the enormous hassle that "Big Disposables" make it out to be.

Locally, here's how we celebrated Waste Reduction Day of Real Diaper Week in San Diego:

  • Sent this message to local environmental organizations and asked them to spread the word to their constituents.
  • Followed up on the diaper reduction sections of the zero waste plan in Oceanside (a community within our county).
  • Planned upcoming classes for our Circle members to learn more about elimination communication (because diaper free is as environmentally-sound as it gets).
  • Continued to plan for the Great Cloth Diaper Change on Saturday, April 21st!  Be there!

Heather McNamara

Executive Director, Real Diaper Association


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